They ran through town in wolf form, slipping in and out of shadows like ghosts. Moon-Moon was wearing the fake fur backpack his girlfriend, Gloria, and bought for him so he could carry a change of clothes and his wallet and cell phone with him when running as a wolf. The other guys in the pack had made fun of him for it but he didn't care. They made fun of him about most things, even sticking him with the name of an Internet meme. But who was it they called when they needed something done involving high tech stuff? That's right, they called Moon-Moon.
He had to admit, though, that he preferred running with Mooney, and not because the larger wolf never joined in with the teasing. It was because Mooney was a fellow professional. He, Moon-Moon, was a tech guru who could hack any surveillance system and build Chines finger trap-style security that left lesser hackers wide open to retaliation. Mooney was one of the best private investigators in Montana and probably the best prankster alive that wasn't also part coyote. Their skills complimented each other and their girls were best friends, too. Plus, no one messed with him when he was running with the enormous younger brother of the McMahon pack alpha.
He didn't exactly care that most wolves teased him for being odd but it was nice when he didn't have to deal with it 24/7. No one messed with Mooney. No one. Mooney may not have the drive or ambition of an alpha but he could fight dirty with the best of them and was big enough to make anyone think twice.
Tonight's job was shaping up to be a lot of fun. Mooney had a bone to grind with those out of town yuppies, or thought he did anyway. This was another reason no one messed with Mooney; he had a slightly maladjusted vindictive streak. Marissa, Mooney's mate, had made an earnest if unflattering remark about the yuppies and Mooney had made a word play joke about it and pissed Marissa off. So naturally, it was all the yuppies' fault, right?
Moon-Moon didn't know what his pack mate was planning but it was bound to be good. Mooney's sire once painted a hunter purple for being a pain in the tail. He had a feeling tonight was the night Mooney was going to try and one-up his old man. And guess who was going to be in on the fun. That's right, Moon-Moon was.
It didn't take long to get out to Schitt Creek Bridge, which gave them a good fifteen minutes to scope everything out and get the downed unicorn out of sight before the on-duty cop car rolled around, and probably as much as twenty minutes before Lamar and Jamey showed up with the paper's news van.
It was just like the yuppies had said on the phone, sort of. There was a green Prius parked on the far side of the road, a good 100 feet away from the unicorn. There was no blood or arrows, though. It was laying in the tall grass snorting happily to itself which meant it was drunk off fermented windfall apples, which is what Mooney's first guess was when he heard the story. Apparently chasing drunk unicorns had been one of the McMahons' favorite puppyhood pass times.
Anyway, after a quick but thorough recon, Mooney changed back to his human skin and dug into the side pouch of Moon-Moon's backpack looking for his cell phone.
"Hey, babe," the bigger wolf said into it after the call picked up. "No, I'm not going to beg to come back home," he huffed, sounding like a deep-voiced five-year-old. "I need to hide a drunk unicorn that got itself spotted buy out-of-towers. They aren't too close, but they're watching so I can't just shew it away. Do you have any spells that can hide it or something? One you can do over the phone? What about that stuffed animal spell you used that time the twins accidentally turned your cat into a horse? You can do that one remotely? Great! Let me sneak over to the 'corn so I can put the phone up to its ear."
Moon-Moon watched in awe as Mooney carefully clamped the phone in his mouth, screen side out, before shifting back to a wolf. He was willing to bet Mooney had been thinking of exactly this plan before they even left the G&B office. Mooney was an expert in field operations like this. And Marissa still occasionally went out on jobs with her mate when they could find someone to watch their pups for them, so this whole spell over the phone thing was probably common for them. But still, what a plan!
* * * * * * * * * *
Mooney shivered one last time even though he was back in his fur and not standing outside butt-naked in the frigid October night air anymore. He looked around, wagged his tail at his partner, acknowledging the dumbfounded look on Moon’s face—he refused to call the other wolf “Moon-Moon” because that was probably one of the smartest wolves alive, even if he was a bit of a nerd—and began sneaking through the tall grass to where the unicorn lay giggling to itself in horsey language.
Lupa, but he hadn’t done this in ages. Sneaking up on drunk herd animals is fun when you’re a pup, but not much of a challenge when you’re a grown wolf. Now, sneaking up to a drunk unicorn while trying not to let the vanillas see you? That could be a challenge. If he wasn’t very careful, the ‘corn would spook and spoil the hunt. And he needed to get close enough without the goofball noticing that he could hold the phone to its ear while Marissa spoke her incantation. Then he had to get away without being seen, all before any witnesses showed up. There was no way he could make it look like the crunch-butts had been smoking something if anyone else saw a living unicorn.
He’d been paused behind a particularly dense clump of sage for several minutes now, trying to figure out how to clear that last few feet to his target when he heard a very loud crack of someone stomping on a dry stick. He glanced toward the sound and then grinned, moving swiftly while both the humans and the unicorn looked that directing. That was why he liked working with the Moon Man. The fecker was a little odd but he had great instincts for this work. Without a word, had figured out what Mooney, aka Moon Dawg, had needed and provided a remedy.
He snorted softly three times, signaling Marissa, and then held the phone up to the ‘corn’s ear. Ten seconds later, it was done. He snorted three more times to let her know it had worked and then let the phone drop to hand around his neck by the lanyard. Carefully holding a delicate thing like a smart phone between wolf’s teeth for even a few minutes was exhausting and he was glad to be able to shut his mouth and swallow properly. Two more loud crunches of twigs from the Moon Man saw him safely back out of sight of the life-size stuffed animal that looked more like a My Little Pony than the real unicorn it has started out as.
It didn’t take long after that.
A cop car pulled up, driven by the ever efficient Officer Tom Sheppard, who shifted into a German Sheppard, of course. It seemed like that breed of shifter always ended up in law enforcement. Next came the B&B news van, driven by Jamey, a red wolf shifter and the paper’s on-call photographer/photo journalist. Sitting in the passenger side of the van was Jamey’s mate, Lamar, who was not on duty and was the most openly, flamboyantly gay boa constrictor in existence. Mooney approved of his presence, though, because now that the trap was set, an artist like Lamar would be able to spin it to even greater heights that it would have gone with only Tom, that rulebook loving killjoy, killing the comedic momentum.
All was going well until the female, who must have been smarter than she looked, started demanding to be given Officer Tom’s flashlight so she could look for hoof prints. This was bad, because Mooney had not been able to thoroughly check for hoof prints himself, and he was sure Tom hadn’t been able to totally eradicate them when he’d done his one not-hiding-from-humans search of the area. And then Moon came through again. Actually, he might have outdone himself this time.
Just as Tome was about to be circled by angry yuppies, here comes Moon, trotting down the middle of the road, plain as day and wearing that goofy backpack of his. Whistling “zippity do da”. Mooney hadn’t actually known it was possible to whistle in wolf form. He was sure glad he wasn’t one of the poor saps who had to pretend not to see a back-pack wearing wolf trotting down the road whistling Disney tunes, though.