For mortals, the Blood Moon is the end of days. A belief they have held in their hearts that when the Blood Moon arrives, Hell Fire will swallow the world. Of course, for many mortals this is mostly superstition.
For non mortals however, the Blood Moon is an event not to be missed.
A sign of strength for vampires and werewolves since the dawn of time, many fight to prepare for the coming Moon. For the rest of time they fight among each other, gaining hierarchy and trying to wipe each other out.
Survival for the Blood Moon is key, but sometimes just living another day for non-mortals is strength in itself.
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Anton knew he didn’t have a very high reputation to the Sirhan Pack. Then again, he didn’t really have a high reputation amongst many people he met. The only precedence to that was the fear he bestowed upon many of those who crossed him in the past. When Raven met the Vampire in the bar, he held no relationships and no close ties. There had been many occasions where he killed someone he had been working with for weeks, all because they made a simple mistake. Anton was the best blood dealer in the city because every creature of the night knew he wasn’t an easy foe to be reckoned with. Now with all the recent events he was sure that everything he once carried was gone. He was now an easy target - one who had been captured by the Council repeatedly and hadn’t made his presence on the streets for some time. Anton wondered whether he was abandoning his old life altogether and if he was really doing something he never thought he would do; give it all up to work alongside others.
[b “A dictator? Don’t give yourself such a high pedestal to climb on. You see me as a worthless junkie who killed Nana, at least I’m not reaching for the stars with what everyone thinks of me. I’m not saying you’re a shit Alpha - trust me, you’ve saved us enough times for me to never question how good you are. I just want the kid to be alright. He’s been through hell and back in less than an hour.”] It may have almost come across sarcastic but there was a deep concern in Anton’s eyes as he watched Dustin walk ahead. He himself never worried about loss - at least until recently. He kept no connection to his mortal family and had no brothers or sisters that he knew of. It wasn’t until he was in that cell with Raven that he feared for someone else’s wellbeing for the first time. It only seemed to be adding onto each person as he watched a moment of suffering. It wasn’t like him and he still wasn’t certain he was liking the change.
With Talon asking about Lexi, Anton’s face scrunched him as he lifted up the bloody and knotted hair in his hand. There was still a horrible feeling in his gut telling him there was a chance she was still alive, but with this sort of thing gut instincts weren’t enough. There were far too many convincing stories and right in front of the both of them was the evidence. Draven was a drastic man and it seemed he was pushed over the edge. He was now willing to kill the most valuable assets to the Council if it meant making anyone who dared get in his way suffer.
[b “I didn’t want to believe it but I can’t find any reason she would still be alive. If I had anything to claw onto to give Dustin some hope I would but… damn it, I think the stories are true and she’s dead. If Draven and Helena are happy to do this however, it just goes to show how dangerous they are becoming.”] Anton warned having spent most of his days as a Vampire and a Hybrid avoiding Draven. The two of them had been clashing since the day they became Blood Brothers and Anton knew just how dangerous the Council mans actions could become.
The last transformation Anton had been through had taken its toll. His body was covered in deep bruises where his bones had contorted and snapped, with his skin still getting used to the different forms it could shape in. He looked bone-tired and the signs of withdrawal were still lingering in the background. The track marks on his arms were still stained with blood. However, Anton shook his head and was already making his way back towards he den.
[b “My first transformation and it won’t be my last. So I better get used to it. Look, I’m fine. I feel a bit like shit but let me just get to Raven and I’ll feel better. You should check on your Pack. I’ll be ok. I’ll call you if I’m not.”]
Back at the base Trey was sat in an armchair waiting. He wasn’t going to mention to Talon that he had noticed him run out, or that Dustin and Anton were missing, but it didn’t mean he hadn’t been aware for a long period of time. His eyes were glued to the clock above him, watching the seconds count down. If they were gone for too long, he didn’t care about Talon’s intervention. He wasn’t going to let Sirhan lose anyone else.
Fortunately his concerns didn’t come into play. As the door opened he watched as Dustin walked in but he felt a pang in his chest as he saw the boys expression. He had seen Dustin in many states but he had only seen him like this one other time. Jumping up to his feet he headed straight after Talon, ordering his Pack to keep anyone who tried to follow away from the two Alpha’s.
That’s when he heard the news. Lexi was killed. His decision let that girl take the steps to be executed by the Council. Most importantly, Dustin had lost a sister. However they also lost their number one leverage against the Vampire’s that would no doubt raid them throughout the Blood Moon. There was an obvious pain in his eyes and Trey had to tuck his hands in his pockets, fists clenched, and he started to pace the room just to keep his composure. This could easily have been the time he let his emotions spill. He could have ranted to Talon about how it was all his fault and he regretted every decision he made. Only now wasn’t the time. He was an Alpha and the concerns of everyone else came before his own.
[+purple “Then our focus shifts to Dustin. He doesn’t have his sister to fight for anymore, so we have to find something. Give him a reason to continue. If we don’t find that then I don’t know how long we can protect him for. Keeping him prisoner doesn’t work, we’ve tried that enough.”] Trey spoke up, already trying to plan ahead with how this news would impact the young wolf. Also if Dustin lashed out it could have a rippling effect throughout the pack!
[+purple “Wait, what? Sand-coloured wolves specifically? That makes no sense. Are they trying to specifically find Dustin and just kill anyone who remotely looks like him or are they trying to send a message before the Blood Moon? I’ll have my Pack put more of their focus around defending Sirhan territory but we can’t go out looking for whatever is causing this. It is too risky.”] Stopping his pacing, Trey stood still for a few moments in silence. The severity of the Blood Moon was starting to hit his conscience.
[+purple “You do know Sirhan will probably be the most hunted pack during the Blood Moon? The Council will see you as enemy number one and no doubt you have other Pack’s starting to get knowledge of this. They’ll love the opportunity to take Sirhan out. This Pack has been on the top for a long time and there’s always been a reason to bring it down. There are also enemies here who others are hunting. Anton is weak, so is Raven. You have lost Nana, as well as other wolves and now Lexi. We’ve got to be real about this Talon. Do you think we are going to survive this? We have to think realistically. We’re not in a good place for survival.”]
Anton didn’t like seeing Raven in the condition that she was in. They had both been in so many messed up situations he couldn’t remember the last time he saw her without a fresh cut or bruise. Luckily Raven wasn’t allowing him to focus on the negatives on the situation. As she threw in her own joke about how soft he was becoming, Anton couldn’t help but laugh at how true she was.
[b “Too late for that. I’ve already given Dustin an inspirational speech or two and Talon is actually seeing some hope in me. I think I should leave while I’m ahead before all you saps actually start to like me.”] Anton joked back but he still didn’t want to confess his uncertainty. He felt comfortable with Raven - it felt right. Everyone else who he was connecting it, well, it felt like too many bridges were being built. If he started to care for too many people then he wasn’t sure how he would deal with that emotion. It was hard enough wrapping his head around actually caring about Raven; not that he regretted that. It was nice to actually have a friend he could talk to, as much as he would try and avoid confessing it.
[b “I thought they would never kill her. Bastards are doing whatever they can now. As for their father… he’s an asshole too. I knew the grief would hit him but Dustin is in a worse place because of him. Apparently he’s going to come back to take the kid away but that’s not going to happen. Not while I’m around anyway and not until he can prove himself to be the family Dustin needs. Kid deserves a chance.”] Anton shrugged his shoulders as Raven thanked him. It wasn’t that he was brushing her off, it was just his instincts at the time. Everyone knew Anton was a powerful friend but an even more dangerous enemy. Eli messed with the wrong kid at the wrong time. There was no way he could back off to watch Dustin suffer under his father’s merciless words.
[b “I’ve been trying to beat Draven for years. He’s beating me at every turn. Now he’s fucking up the lives of people around me. I bet he never thought I could actually hold any emotion or care to anyone. I want to kill him. I want to watch him suffer as much as he’s made everyone else suffer…and whoa, whoa Raven - easy. I know you want a better view of this face but relax. You need to rest.”] Anton put a hand gently on her shoulder as she sat up, knowing the pain she would have been in. As soon as he said the words though he snapped his hand back, realising just how sensitive he was being.
[b “Helena didn’t mess with my head, my drug habit messed with my head. It just made it easier for her to fuck about with me. And hey, I owe you more. You made me believe I could actually make something of my wolf form. That I would survive. Looks like we owe each other again.”] Anton returned the gratitude. As Raven playfully punched his shoulder, he dramatically played along by reaching up to the ‘wounded’ area and letting out a mocking fake cry.
[b “Oh sorry! Forgive me! I don’t want your beat up ass crawling out of bed and hurting me more. I couldn’t possibly take the pain.”] Laughing away the seriousness of the moment, as she brought up how soft he was becoming again he shook his head.
[b “Yeah because someone decided to bloody well put wolf blood in my veins so now I have your sentimental feelings! Not that it seems to be doing any harm - you actually said you cared about me back there. And wait, just a second… ‘my partner’? So I’m exclusive to you now Raven? Well, don’t I feel like a VIP. I wonder what the bonus is for being your partner?”] His laughing continued throughout and for the very rare occasion it happened, Anton was actually showing a genuine smile. It was far from his usual cold demeanour, or just sarcastic grin. For once it was real happiness. He didn’t think it would be possible with everything that had happened, yet here he was.
[b “I meant it back there Raven, when I said I cared for you. It’s the first thing I’ve been certain of in terms of my feeling for others. I’m going to stay here until you’ve recovered, and I’m going to make sure we both make it through the Blood Moon. You have my word on that.”]
Talon flickered his eyes towards the Hybrid, a little surprised by what he was hearing. The last time he had really interacted with Anton was after Nana’s death. The Dealer had been well on his way to burning every bridge he had – shouting at the wolf who saved his life, pushing everyone away, snapping back with hostility and sarcasm at anyone who dared to get too close. Talon had seen nothing redeemable in that creature, and his only regret In banishing Anton then was that he was forced to banish Raven as well! But the Hybrid that stood before him now was nothing like the man he’d dealt with in the past.
Anton had defended Dustin against his own father, facing off against a powerful vampire while he was still recovering from his own ordeal. Anton could have been killed back there, yet even now he was passing up Talon’s thanks and promises for safety, only wanting the Alpha to protect the boy! If this were a Wolf, Talon would simply say it was his Pack Loyalty towards Dustin that drove him to put his Pack before himself, but Talon didn’t know such sentiment was even possible for a vampire. He had always believed Bloodsuckers to be such selfish, egocentric creatures, but here was Anton putting not only the Pup, but Raven too, above his own interests. Maybe that Hybrid blood had more of an effect than Talon initially gave him credit for.
[#777766 “I know you and everyone else see me as a heartless dictator, Anton, but I can assure you, I’m not that cold. Dustin learned his lesson… a much harsher lesson than I would have ever taught. The twins left the safety of their Pack and now only one of them will ever make it home. Losing his sister is punishment enough. Dustin doesn’t need to hear any more from me.”] Talon agreed. He was certainly going to speak with the boy. He needed Dustin to understand that this reckless behaviour couldn’t continue and that he did not want to see the young teen slip into the same hazardous depression he did the last time Lexi walked out on him. But really, Talon just wanted to help the boy. He remembered what it was like to lose his brothers. Shayd was now a mindless prisoner of Helena’s and Hunter was slaughtered right before his eyes. He still felt the pain of that loss even a decade later, so he could only imagine the raw agony that Dustin was feeling now.
[#777766 “And you’re certain Lexi is dead? Is there any chance she could have survived?”] Talon asked, as much for his own benefit as for Dustin’s. Talon had taken that girl under his wing these past few months. Her loos hit him harder than he wanted to admit.
[#777766 “Raven’s alive, though she’s still pretty weak. It’s good to hear you want to check on her, but don’t forget to take care of yourself too Anton. That was your first transformation since Raven turned you, right? The physical drain from a transformation takes its. Make sure you eat and sleep tonight. As commendable as it may be that you want to watch over Raven, you’ll do her no good if you’re dead.”] Talon told him firmly.
As they entered the Den, Talon watched Dustin head straight to his room and close the room. He waited for a few moments, grimacing as he heard the muffled sobs of Dustin crying into his pillow. Leaving the boy to mourn, Talon went to seek out the other Alpha.
Before he reached Trey, Talon was intercepted by one of his Pack, bringing news from their latest patrol. A troubled crease appeared in his brow as he ordered for the patrol to be doubled and extra guards posted outside the medical wind and the sleeping quarters. No one was going to harm his pack under his watch.
[#777766 “Trey, our fight from earlier aside, you and I have to talk. I’ve got news and none of its good.”] Talon opened, motioning for Trey to join him in his room so as to avoid any eaves droppers. The sheer weight of the news was affecting Talon, making hi look far older and more worn than he was.
[#777766 “Lexi’s dead.”] He said simply, knowing it needed no further explanation. Trey knew the affect that girl’s death had on the Packs, not just in the form of grief as it was for Raven, Anton, and Dustin, but also for the political safety of all wolves. Without Lexi to take her place on the Council and cast her vote for the Werewolves, their entire species was at risk of being eradicated by the vampires.
[#777766 “On top of everything else, my patrols found scouts from two nearby packs out searching the streets. So far there have been three wolves reported missing from those packs – all young, small, with sand-coloured fur, two of them were just initiates. The scouts think it’s a rival pack, someone trying to get a head start on the Blood Moon by targeting the Initiates, but I think it’s more than that. Sounds like they’re being hunted, and you and I both know who fits that profile.”]
While the Alphas talked in private, Raven was resting lightly in her room. A naturally light sleeper, especially when injured, Raven woke the instant she heard the door creak open. A sign of relief fled her lips as Anton stepped in looking no more injured than when he left. She remembered standing in the sun, listening to his bones crack and pop during the painful transformation, but nothing else. She must have blacked out even before her pack arrived. Her first thought upon waking up was if Anton had survived, but most of her pack were scarce on the details. Talon had at least confirmed Anton was alive and being held somewhere in the Den, but Raven wasn’t satisfied until she could see her partner with her own eyes.
[b “Careful Anton, people might start to think you’ve gone soft.”] Raven teased back. She still looked like shit – her burns hadn’t healed yet but the deep gash in her side was stitched up and bandaged. Beneath the red and black burns were dark purple and blue bruises from Draven’s beatings and the shadows under her eyes from lake of sleep. She had been fed Blood and organs to help her heal, but until the sun set and Raven could bask in the moonlight, she would just have to deal with the pain. She was glad for the distraction at first, but as Anton explained what happened with he twins, Raven’s expression fell.
[b “Lexi’s dead? I thought she was still valuable to the Council. I expected them to capture her, maybe even torture, but to just kill her? And… their father is alive? My god, Dustin must be a wreck right now. No, Anton, don’t worry about me. Sounds like Dustin needed you by his side. Thanks for being there for him.”] Raven replied. She couldn’t believe Lexi was dead! That girl had become one of the Pack during her time here. She and her brother felt like family and now she was gone? It didn’t make sense to Raven. Why kill her? Wasn’t she more use to the Council alive?
[b “Anton, stop blaming yourself. You didn’t screw up. You got us both out of there alive. As for the kid… We can’t bring Lexi back. But we can kill the bastard that took her from us. And we can look after her brother now that she’s gone.”] Raven pushed herself up a little higher I the bed, ignoring the painful tear in her side and she shifted into a better position to talk to Anton.
[b “Anton, cut yourself some slack. Helena messed with your head back there and Draven put you through hell! You could have escaped without me and you wouldn’t have even needed to turn. It was your choice to stay back and help me. If you hadn’t, I’d probably be one of Helena’s miserable, mindless pets by now.”] Rven told him in genuine gratitude. She let the sentiment sink in for a few seconds before she gave him a harmless, playful punch to his shoulder.
[b “Now stop with the guilt trip, it’s depressing. Besides, I don’t want anyone thinking my partner’s gone soft.”]
[b “Yeah I drugged your son. Hell, we got high together and I ruined his life. I know that and I accept it. You want to know the difference? I’m trying to at least fucking fix my mistakes. If you didn’t have such a big family secret yourself, maybe Dustin would never have been brought into any of this! You kept it secret without any excuse! So go on, point out my flaws because I live for them but trust me, you won’t be able to live with yourself after this. You’ll feel the guilt and I hope your son is forgiving.”] Anton’s face twisted as he was reminded of his mistakes. The day he stumbled upon Dustin he had never done anything to protect anyone. In fact he was in the middle of making one of his ‘clients’ suffer for not making a payment on time. It was twisted but the only way Anton knew how to help was through his own escapism. There was no guilt or shame behind his decision - at the time he didn’t know how to feel those emotions! He was still getting to grip with connecting with those around him now. Sure enough now he was starting to gain those connections, he did feel a pant of regret in the pit of his stomach.
[b “What I know is that you’ve just broken your relationship with your son and you’ve only reunited with him.”] Anton’s voice was chillingly cold, far from his usual sarcastic or dry defence that he carried. He wanted it to sink in to Eli exactly what he had done to his son. It may not hit him now but there would be a point he would look back on this. It may have been cruel; he was acting on emotion and the pain of losing a daughter was something Anton could never imagine. However, this was Dustin’s opportunity of having a father figure back into his life. If Eli was going to jump into that the moment it was most needed, Anton wanted to give him something to reflect on when he finally decided to step up to the role.
Then came the other rat he had to deal with. Her sarcasm was never welcome but she was certainly picking a bad time to throw about her words. He really wanted to challenge her and find the loop hole in her argument - anything to try and find a reason that Lexi might be alive. As always though it was impossible to tell. If there was any reason to lie he hoped Piper could live with the grief she was causing the two of them; if she felt any emotion at all...
[b “Alright Piper! You’ve made your point. If you really risked your life for her then fine, you did everything you could. Nice to see the honourable side coming out Piper - never thought I’d see it in you.”] Anton didn’t even look at the girl as she cursed him for doubting. He was starting to feel exhausted from the fighting. His head was pounding and he was still feeling the fatigue from being a captive and his withdrawals. If he was feeling like this he couldn’t imagine what was going through Dustin’s mind. They had to find a way to end this or come to some common ground, otherwise the kid would have more emotional torture to endure. The last thing he needed was more doubt and hatred planted into his mind by his father, and that’s why Anton wasn’t allowing them to leave together. At least not at the moment.
Anton watched Eli with just as much intent as he was getting in return. He didn’t interrupt the long silence, allowing the older vampire to decide his next action. He was almost preparing for the old fool to be stubborn and continue with his plan of action. At this point it seemed there would be no words that would break through and he would have to take the matter more forcefully. With the father so emotional, there would be even more of a risk of them getting killed out there. There was no rational thought so they would end up easy pickings! Lexi’s death meant that Dustin no longer had a reason to fight. If an ambush did happen, Anton knew Dustin wouldn’t defend himself. He’d accept his fate. Eli wouldn’t be protecting him - he’d be walking him to his grave.
Fortunately it seemed he had some sense.
[b “We’ll keep him safe. Trust me, for a junkie and a drug dealer, everyone seems to like putting the responsibility on my shoulders. Let me remind you, your threats don’t scare me. In return tough, if you return with the same shitty attitude and attempt to hurt your son again, I’ll make sure the only way you leave is in a body bag. All that aside however - regain your strength here and try and get some sense in your head.”] Anton retorted and as Dustin backed away to his side, he put a protective hand on his shoulder ready to escort him out. Piper’s words also urged him to take the opportunity while he could. It would only take a flicker of doubt from Eli to go against their deal and he wasn’t prepared to take that risk. Grabbing the Council’s cloak, he wrapped himself up tight and followed the young wolf out his former home.
He was hoping to have enough time to return to the den without anyone noticing but he should have known better. In synchronisation with Dustin he let out a low growl, knowing this could be yet another confrontation he would have to deal with. After everything he and Talon has clashed upon, this would only add more fuel to the fire. At first Anton remained completely silent, his body stiff as he tried to judge how the situation would pan out. The Alpha always carried that judging look - one that was ready to place his orders and his authority over anyone who challenged him. It was a risk enough to come so far out away from his Pack alone - so Anton was prepared for the worst. Instead the comfort that followed towards the young wolf surprised him. So it seemed Talon wasn’t always so tough as he made out to be. For now Anton was thankful. He wasn’t sure how much more the kid could take.
[b “The Pack is never happy to see me. I’m used to it. As much as I appreciate it Talon, just look after him. He’s just had his world broken. Look, I’m not the sentimental type but just keep it easy on him, alright?] Anton asked, not really worried about his own protection at this point. He wanted the assurance that as soon as Dustin had rested, that he wasn’t going to be yelled at all over again. He may have broke the rules again, but there had to be a line.
[b “Everyone’s on at me to protect Dustin. I screwed his life up, so I owe it to him to at least fx something. Talon, you already have that word with me on that. I’m not going to fuck up on this. Probably hard to believe considering I have a habit for screwing up a lot but hey, I’m a dealer and I don’t make promises lightly. I just... I want to be in the Pack to keep Raven safe as well. So yeah, I’ll do what I can to ‘prove’ myself if I really have to. Whatever it takes.”] Anton confessed to his own reasoning as to why he wanted to work on this, but there was many more. He was starting to adapt to his wolf form. If he could keep up his work on his transformation and master his second form, maybe he would have a better place in the Pack. He might actually even start appreciating their values.
Hearing that Raven was awake, Anton’s head shot up so quickly he almost risked letting the sunlight break through the cover of his hood’ He was meant to be there for when she woke up and he couldn’t help but curse himself under his breath. At least she was alive.
[b “She made it? I’ll eat once I’ve checked in on her. I just need to see for myself she’s alive. Talon... thanks for coming when you did.”]
Heading back to the den was a long process. At least on all four paws he was able to pick up quick speeds and enjoy the adrenaline! Back in his Vampire form he was starting to feel drained from the day’s events. The torture and beating in the prison was catching up to him. His withdrawals had left him feeling sick to his stomach. The fight with Eli left his head pulsing with a headache and he had more concerns over Dustin than he wanted to admit. He was thankful for the one piece of good news and as he arrived at the Den, he took no hesitation in rushing straight towards the room that Raven was recovering in.
Not wanting to show any signs of weakness, Anton stopped at a mirror just before he walked into the room and quickly tried to shake away the emotions from his face. He knew he could be honest with her but after everything they had been through, she needed some hope over anything else. The last thing she needed to be worrying about was his addiction or his injuries. Stepping into the room, Anton wanted his eyes to immediately check on her but instead there was a weakness that he couldn’t hide so easily. Seeing the medication lined across the table, it took a few seconds for him to realise that was the first thing that caught his attention in the room. Shaking his head, he walked over to Raven’s beside and grabbed a chair, pulling it straight up to her side.
[b “How are you feeling? I swear if you ever scare me like that again I’ll kill you myself.”] Anton grinned as he leaned forward, allowing himself to relax for the first time in hours.
[b “Sorry I wasn’t here sooner. I just err... it’s... damn this probably isn’t the right time to tell you but I can’t hide it. We found out Lexi’s dead. She didn’t make it out. The twins went because they found out their father was alive. It’s been a bit of a mess since. I would have been here when you woke up but Dustin...”] Anton started to explain but he let out a deep sigh. He couldn’t even sit here for less than a minute without letting everything show. He couldn’t even do this for Raven. Taking a second, he looked Raven in the eyes with a sincere look.
[b “I was really scared you wouldn’t make it. I didn’t think I done enough. I thought my fear of turning would have got you killed.”] Anton confessed, finally dropping his act and just letting Raven see all the emotion in his eyes.
[b “I won’t do anything to fuck up like that again. I’m not going to risk your life for my mistakes again.”]
[#112299 “You accuse me or keeping secrets? Weren’t you the one who drugged a 13 year old boy to keep his mouth shut about the Council’s plans? They were more than happy to torment me with that little fact – that my son knew about the Council’s planned attack for over a year before my wife was killed and my daughter turned, but couldn’t warn me because he was stoned out of his mind!”] Eli snapped back, not allowing Anton’s accusations to break through his fury. Eli didn’t feel ashamed of his secrets. He didn’t want his children growing up in a world where monsters were real and where their father had pissed off one of the most powerful Supernatural entities in the country! The twins lived their lives in blissful ignorance until Dustin’s run in with the Fangs on out of his late-night excursions. They never would have had to know if Eli had been able to move the family out of the city when he wanted to. But every time he brought up the topic of relocating, his son threw a fit and stormed out of the house. Maybe his greatest mistake was not taking his wife and daughter when he had the chance and coming back for Dustin once the rest of his family was safe. Now it was just the two of them left and Eli couldn’t see past the fact that most of this was Dustin’s fault!
[#112299 “You fill his head with lies and his veins with poison, and you think you’re more of a family member to him than his own father? I sacrificed my life and my freedom to give my children a chance. What the hell do you know?!”]
At first the argument between the two men was nothing more than a flurry of raised voices, barely heard over Dustin’s own sobs. But as he started to settle down, the words became clearer and Dustin could tell his father and his friend were seconds away from a full Vampire-Hybrid fight to the death! He clasped his hands over his ears, desperate to drown out the hateful words, but his cursed canine hearing showed him no mercy. Thankfully, Piper butted in before things turned too hostile.
[#aa0000 “Oh, right, I’m sorry for surviving Anton! Next time a shot doesn’t kill me, I’ll roll around in the sewers until the blood loss finishes me off, is that what you want to hear?”] Piper spat back with her usual sarcasm. When she saw Draven pull that trigger and felt the impact of the shot, Piper had truly though she was going to die! Her only thought upon realizing she had survived, was to do everything possible to get out of there. Truth be told, if Draven hadn’t ordered her to free Eli, she probably would have left her blood brother to rot and just run to save her own life!
[#aa0000 “Draven didn’t kill me because he wanted me to bring you proof that Lexi was dead. I almost died trying to help Lexi and afterwards I still risked my neck to free Eli, so if you don’t want to trust me Anton, fine! Screw you!”] The girl hissed. At first she was worried that news of Lexi’s death would temper the situation, but it only fueled the fire! Eli was now desperate to keep him son under a close protective watch while Anton didn’t want the boy anywhere near his father! If things kept escalating, eventually one of the Council’s most influential names would face against the city’s toughest Pack! Piper just hoped this would meet Draven’s expectations.
[#112299 “If you think I’m going to let some washed up druggie take MY son…”]
[#ff6622 “Dad please!”] Dustin’s cries broke through Eli’s threats, making him pause at least long enough to hear Anton’s explanation. As much as it pained Eli to agree, the Hybrid was right. As soon as the sun set, these streets would be swarming with vampires. It wouldn’t be easy to sneak out of down with a defiant teen that reeked of dog-fur. Elijah’s best chance was to flee the city and come back for Dustin when it was safe, but that required him to leave his only remaining family in the care of some flea-bitten pack and a former drug dealer!
Eli fell silent for a few long moments, watching Anton with narrowed eyes as he considered his words. He was right, Dustin was in more dangerous if he stayed with Eli, at least until the Vampire was at full strength. Besides, if the Council caught them together, who knows what they might do to Dustin in order to force Eli to comply. He might be forced to watch them torture his only son just to get his cooperation and Eli knew he’d have no choice but to obey. He could never put his boy in harm’s way… not intentionally at least. When the man finally spoke, his voice was much calmer, but still carrying that stern, inarguable tone. He spoke to his son, but his eyes never left Anton’s.
[#112299 “Dustin, you said this Pack of yours could protect you?”]
[#ff6622 “Yes Sir.”] Dustin affirmed, not sure where this was heading. After another long pause, Eli released his son, and Dustin backed away, closer to Anton – a bruise the shape of his father’s hand now blemishing his upper arm.
[#112299 “Once the sun sets, I’m leaving this city to find someplace the Council can’t reach. Once I’m sure it’s safe, I’m coming back for my son. Until then, you and your Pack need to keep him safe. If anything happens to that boy while I’m gone, I’m holding you responsible. I have one of the oldest Vampire bloodlines in this city, so believe me, a petty little Wolf Pack will not stand between me and my son. If any harm comes to him, I’ll take it out on you.”] Elijah promised. He wasn’t pleased about leaving his son in the care of a wolf pack and a dealer, but what choice did he have? Dustin seemed to trust them, so maybe they would be able to keep him protected, at least until Eli could come back for him.
[#aa0000 “Not to pry, but I think that’s the best deal you’re gonna get Anton. You should probably get Dustin home.”] Piper interrupted, more than happy to have things end on this somewhat civil note. She had no idea how she was ever going to fix this, but getting Anton to leave before he and Eli killed each other seemed like a good start. She grabbed the large, Council cloak she had worn earlier and handed it to Anton as a bit of a peace offering. She doubted he’d be too excited to transform again so soon, and at least this would protect him from the sun until he could get back to the den.
Dustin backed away with Anton, still not willing to take his eyes off his father. This was not the loving reunion he had been hoping for and as much as Eli terrified Dustin at the moment, it was tearing the boy apart to leave his father so close to losing his twin sister! Still, Piper had a point. These two needed to be separated before a fight broke out. He didn’t have a choice, he had to leave with Anton.
[#ff6622 “Dad, I… I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”] Dustin tried to apologize, but his father would hardly even look him in the eyes! With a broken expression, Dustin turned to leave the safe house. He stepped outside, taking a sharp gasp as he saw what was waiting for him: the large, intimidating form of a jet black wolf.
Talon had just come from checking on his sister when he decided it was finally time to confront his rebellious initiate. Running off with his sister was stupid, reckless, and unbecoming of an Alpha-in-training. Talon had every right to be angry and he knew going easy on the boy wouldn’t do him any favours now. If he was too soft, Dustin would just run off again in search of his sister! No, as much as he hated to kick the boy when he was already down and worried about his sister, Talon had to enforce the laws of his pack. He assumed he’d find the boy in Anton’s room, but when he opened the door he found it empty – completely vacant of the boy and the white wolf who was supposed to be chained to the wall! A fierce growl tore through Talon’s throat as he realized what must have happened. Dustin and Anton ran off again!
After his previous argument with Trey, Talon had no desire to involve the other Alpha or any of the other pack members. In utter frustration, he took off towards the sewers, knowing the boy most likely went back for Lexi. Once he arrived, he easily tracked the scent of the two wolves and the unfamiliar vampire back to Anton’s former safe house, where the raised voices from inside caused him to stop.
Hearing that angry tone focused on his initiate ignited a fiercely protective instinct in Talon and it took every ounce of self-control not to burst in a rip this mysterious figure to shreds for having the gall to take to his initiate like that! But when the second voice chimed in, Talon hesitated. Was that Anton? Anton was defending the boy? So far Talon had only ever seen Anton’s protective nature come out when it suited him. There had always been something to gain, be it the Sirhan’s protection or Raven’s approval. But out here, alone, still weary from capture with only an emotionally broken pup to watch his back, Anton was actually challenging the other Fangs? Maybe Raven was right… maybe there was some honour in that hybrid after all?
Talon waited outside, listening closely to the fight. He was primed and ready to jump in the moment things got out of hand, but shockingly it wasn’t needed. Anton actually seemed to have things under control. A few moments later, the hybrid and the pup were preparing to leave and Talon saw the look of dread and pain in his initiate’s eyes when he saw the Alpha waiting for them. Talon took a few long, intimidating strides, growing at the vampires that were watching from within. When he was close enough, he shifted into his human form, no less intimidating than the big black wolf he was moments before!
Talon stepped up to the boy, grabbing Dustin’s chin in his strong, calloused hand and tilting his head to the side to get a closer look at the teen’s split lip and red, puffy eyes. That told him everything he needed to know. To Dustin’s utter surprise, the Alpha put a strong, yet comforting hand on his shoulder and gave him an understanding nod, making sure Dustin knew that his anger was no longer directed towards the boy.
[#777766 “These two are under the protection of the Sirhan Pack. If you so much as bear a fang towards either of them, you’ll answer to me.”] Talon growled towards Piper and Eli as they watched from inside the safehouse. Talon’s dark, menacing tone carried as much threat as his words and he kept his eyes fixed on the safehouse until he was sure his pack was free to leave.
[#777766 “Dustin, when we get to the Den, you are going to eat then go straight to bed. You get some sleep and we’ll talk about this in the morning. You are NOT to leave your room for anything, unless I allow it, is that understood?”] Talon demanded, though you could tell by the softer undertones of his voice that he was taking it easy on the boy, despite his earlier convictions.
[#ff6622 “Yes Alpha.”] Dustin agreed numbly, having cried himself dry of tears and now felt nothing but the emptiness of loss. When the teen walked a few paces ahead, Talon stayed back to talk to Anton.
[#777766 “I heard what you said in there Anton. Thank you for keeping him safe.”] Talon told him, void of any of the anger he had shown towards the Hybrid before.
[#777766 “The Pack won’t be happy to see you back after what happened with Nana, but after what you did for Raven and Dustin, I won’t see you cast out.”] Talon assured him. He was going to face resistance from the pack for allowing Anton back in, but Talon couldn’t in good conscience, cast out the man who defended his last remaining initiate, and keep his sister alive in the hands of the Council. The Alpha would just hae to deal with the consequences.
[#777766 “If you want to prove yourself to Sirhan, then help us keep an eye on Dustin. If his sister is really gone, then that boy will feel like he has nothing left to live for. If you can keep him safe, keep him alive through the Blood Moon, then as far as I’m concerned, you’ve earned your place among us… that is, if you want it.”] Talon offered, giving Anton a chance to prove his loyalty to the Pack if he really did want to be Sirhan, but also understanding if he were to turn it down. It’s not like the Pack had been overly welcoming to the Hybrid.
[#777766 “For now, let’s get back to the den. Get something to eat, let your body recover from your transformation. But before you get some sleep, you should check in on Raven. She woke up a little while ago, and she was asking for you.”]
[+orange “Helena no, I’m sorry! I didn’t do it on purpose it just burst out! I won’t disobey you again. I’ll listen to everything and do anything you want me to do! Please, I didn’t .. ah! No please”] Lexi screamed as she felt the side of her head slam into the metal of the table. She couldn’t even push herself away or struggle! With her broken wrist, she had nothing to use and was forced to stay still with the pressure of Helena’s weight against her. The cold table was crushing against her skull, attacking her whole head with pain and forcing more blood from the previous head wound. The side of her face was already bruising but this was only the taster of what Helena had planned for her. The wolf’s whimper was more than enough warning for that.
At first the sheer intensity of the pain didn’t register at all. She could smell her own flesh melting beneath the force pressed against her shoulder. Her fingers naturally curled from the pain and then suddenly; it hit. Her mouth opened, unable to screech out the pain that was crawling from the pit of her stomach. The longer Helena held it, the more violently Lexi’s body shook with the pressure. It was as if all the pain building up was trying to rip out of her in anyway it could. Eventually the silence was broken. Lexi screamed so hard that she started to splutter blood, the pressure on her vocal cords creating small tears in the inside of her throat.
She knew she would suffer the same as her brother. Every time she fed on blood a vampires natural defence was to go instantly into repairing any injuries. Helena would just have as much time torturing Lexi as much as she did with Dustin. When the rod was released, Lexi’s body couldn’t move from the table. She was already physically broken. Every time she mustered the strength to fight against Helena or to try and hold the strength her brother and father would have wanted her to have, it was forced away. What was the point in fighting anymore?
With Helena’s request to give in and surrender herself to the Council, Lexi knew her instinct would be to protest. If her brother and father ever found her alive, she wanted them to be proud for not giving in. She wanted them to look her in the eyes and know she was a fighter. Only she couldn’t take anymore. She was never going to be free’d. All her morals had been broken and her emotions destroyed. She had killed the innocent, let her weakness show, and couldn’t even fight back. Her mind had given in on her. That natural vampire instinct to shut down all emotion was already showing. With the energy she had left she turned her head to Helena and gave a weak and drafted nod.
[+orange “I’ll d-do anything... y-you wa-want Master. I... I won’t di-disobey you or the c-council. I’m... I’m yours...”]
Even separating himself from the Council, Anton knew the power the vampire once had in front of him. Elijah Kane was one of the most powerful names in the Council and one that was heavily respected. At least until his downfall. There would have been vampires who would be intimidated by his presence, but all Anton could see was a reckless father. He never should have let Dustin come this far from the den so soon. He should have tried to convince him to hold back. Then again there was a risk he would have received the same brutal emotional battering from Talon, and possibly worse physical injuries with the way the kid reacted! Anton expected a Kane to hold some level of responsibility but it seemed they were all just the same; reckless and impulsive. Not that Anton could argue against that - he wasn’t any different. The major difference right now was that he was trying to keep Dustin strong and Elijah seemed to only want to push Dustin down!
With Dustin in the condition he was in he also needed support. His grief would turn to anger, then to self resentment. He had seen it before with Dustin before. Anton had the same destructive path. After what happened with Sirhan, his blame for killing Nana, and his argument with Raven he ran back to his old habits. It was the reason he was craving another hit. Luckily Dustin gave him an outlet, allowing him to escape the desperation. The least he could do was try and pull Dustin through this, but the one person he had to fight to get to that stage was his father.
As he stood face to face with the vampire it took everything in Anton’s strength not to throw the first punch forward. He deserved it. He crossed paths with someone Anton respected and it was a dangerous path to cross. Only for once Anton was trying to keep his morals in check. Eli was grieving the loss of his daughter and his emotions weren’t in check. It didn’t excuse the fact he hurt his son, but Anton had to try and sustain some rationality. That didn’t mean if he tried to attack Dustin again, Anton would leave him to it. He meant what he said - even as weak as he was he would still cause the older vampire some damage.
[b “A good father would never give up on his son. I’ve seen nothing of a good father and I heard you are quite the type for keeping secrets and letting those secrets kill his family. Or at least so you thought. You want to sink to the fucking ground with these reasons to feel guilt then go ahead. Something you’ll learn about me is that a complete stranger can’t make me feel anything other than the need to hurt him if he pisses me off. So far you are doing a good job.”] Anton wasn’t holding back. This guy showed no mercy to his own son so why should Anton be delicate with him in return? Maybe Eli needed a taste of his own medicine.
With tensions rising between the two as Anton revealed his own history and connection with Dustin, he half lifted his hand up with his knuckles ready. He was sure the news was going to end up in a violent outburst. It was something he wasn’t planning to reveal but he needed Eli’s anger to be distracted from Dustin and turned in himself. Anton was used to receiving a punch or two because of his “work”. He’d came across many people who claimed he destroyed their lives or ruined their relationships. At the end of the day Anton always turned around and said they made a choice. The taking responsibility speech wasn’t always so innocent and wasn’t always designed for encouragement. He used to say it to those who tried to blame him for their addiction. In this case, it was going to be more than a battle of words to get through to this distressed father.
[b “You want to rip me limb from limb then take your chance! Believe it or not Eli, I have been more of a fucking family member to Dustin these last few months than you have been. Your mistakes pushed him away and your decision left you locked up. He could have died without your protection but you could never be in the wrong, could you? It’s always easy to blame your drug addicted son. You’re weak. I’m not scared of you.”]
It was probably in that moment if it had not been for Piper that Anton would have made an attack of his own! He was done with the exchange of words and really just wanted to make the bastard suffer for hurting Dustin. Watching as she pulled out the blood piece of hair, just like Dustin he was able to catch the scent. He wanted to argue and try and find a loop hole in what she was saying, but there was nothing he could find. It wasn’t like Piper to have sentimental reasons for helping others but it was convincing. It made sense so close to the blood moon as well. Draven wouldn’t risk playing games anymore. If he could take out who he could, he’d do it. However it did leave Anton with one question.
[b “Then why were you so special to be kept alive and what’s the bloody wound on your neck? Not one a vampire would typically survive. The blood loss alone. I’m keeping my eyes on your Piper. I still don’t trust you.”] Anton warned before turning his attention to Dustin. He needed to get the kid out of here. Battling with his emotions and the pain wouldn’t have been easy and he needed the support, but Elijah had already beaten him!
[b “I warned you if you laid your fingers on him I would rip your fucking throat out! Put him down! You can’t leave because you’ll burn to a crisp out there so either way, you are going to suffer if you do not put him down.”] Anton yelled above the noise of the fathers shouts. Dustin didn’t even have the strength to fight back! Knowing he wasn’t going to get any further, Anton lowered his defensive stance and looked Eli straight in the eyes.
[b “You are weak and no doubt a prime target. The Council will probably hunt you down and finish you off - if not a Pack of wolves will find out your existence and make sure you are deeds. As soon as that sun sets, you are a wanted man. You take Dustin with you, you are risking his life as well. You are weak, exhausted, emotionally drained and in mourning. It’s not a good combination. Sirhan territory is the only protection and to be honest, I’m not giving you much of a choice. You leave then I will howl for back up and they’ll be here before you can even leave the door. I promise you that. Not put your son down and let’s think about this.”] Anton’s voice had completely shifted. It wasn’t anger - instead just the cold blunt facts he thought Elijah needed to here to get his head back into reality. If the vampire didn’t listen, he would have no hesitation in forcing him to.
Helena sat back, watching Lexi with a satisfied smirk as the girl’s desperate cries echoed her brothers. As much as she hated the little bitch, Helena had to admit, Piper did excellent work. She knew just what to say and what not to say in order to get the Kane boys on edge and it worked perfectly! Dustin was crippled by grief, blaming himself while Eli was taken so far as to lash out against his own son! Once the events of today caught up to him, he too would be devastated by guilt. Not only did his daughter die trying to save him, but he unfairly forced that blame onto his only surviving son! Now, if only the little mutt would run off and get himself killed, Eli would never recover!
The smile on Helena’s face came to an abrupt end once the girl destroyed the radio, leaving the room in an eerie silence. Even the remaining wolves in their cages felt the heavy weight of foreboding and cowered in their cells as Helena advanced towards the helpless girl.
[+green “And here I was, trying to be nice: feeding you, letting you heal, allowing you to hear your brothers voice one last time… and then you thank me by destroying my device and making a scene? I assure you Lexi, you’re going to regret that. ”] Helena said, and although her voice was devastatingly calm, her eyes told a much more malicious story.
In one quick motion, she gripped Lexi’s hair and slammed her head against the metal table. Helena reached for the metal rod that was currently heating in the fire, pulling it out to reveal the same brand she had singed into Dustin’s skin.
[+green “Wolves are tricky, with their fast healing. I had to burn this brand into your brother’s skin every day for two weeks before I could be sure it would stay. Let’s see how long you take for the message to sink in.”] Helena hissed her words with double meaning. She wanted Lexi to understand the meaning of the brand whether it was visible on her skin or not. The message was clear: she belonged to them now; there was no escape.
Without further warning, Helena pressed the brand into the back of Lexi’s shoulder, letting the red hot metal sear her skin.
[+green “I’m not going to kill you Lexi. You’re valuable to the Council, they need a Kane on their side and you’re going to be exactly what they want you to be. But just because I won’t kill you, does not mean I can’t hurt you. So listen to me carefully: If you ever disobey me, if you ever try to escape, or if you ever lash out like you just did, you will suffer unimaginable pain. Do you understand?”] Helena whispered in her ear before finally pulling the metal brand away from her skin and putting it back in the fire to be ready for her next victim.
[+green “Now, this doesn’t all have to be pain and fear Lexi. You could make this a lot easier on yourself if you agreed to join us. What do you say Lexi? Are you willing to turn you back on your family and your friends and take your place among the Council?”]
While Lexi was suffering for her defiance, her twin was in just as much pain, although his was almost all emotional. The minor cuts and bruises that littered his skin, and the fresh split lip he received from falling through the table barely registered compared to the war within his mind. He couldn’t handle the thought of losing his twin sister, especially since, as his father had pointed out, she died because of him! Dustin shouldn’t have left the tunnels, he should have fought the Alphas, he should never have let the Pack drag him off! Maybe if he had gone back in for her, he could have protected her somehow! Maybe if he was just a little stronger, he could have saved her!
Dustin had rarely been a part from his sister. Even sneaking out for a hit or finding other trouble in the city, he always knew Lexi would be there waiting when he got home – often with a disapproving look. Even after they turned and Dustin spent his time with the pack, he knew Lexi wasn’t far away. He could always sneak out and check on her, knowing she was safe and sound not far outside the Sirhan territory. The closest he ever got to losing her was the day she learned the truth about their mother’s death, and still Dustin would at least take comfort in the fact that’s he was alive out there, somewhere, even if she wanted nothing to do with him. But this… knowing she was gone forever… it felt like a piece of his soul had been severed. Dustin and Lexi were twins, always two halves of a whole, and now… half of him was gone forever.
Before Eli could even recognize the damage he had done, he was instantly faced with the fierce snarling of a large white wolf! Eli naturally took a step back and bared his own fangs, thinking he’d have to protect himself from one of the selfish mutts his son had deemed his Pack. But as the wolf advanced, shifting into a vampire, Eli was stunned! He had never come face to face with a Hybrid before, he thought they were nothing more than myths! Yet as astounded as Eli was to see a hybrid with his own eyes, the fury he felt at this imposter interrupting a family dispute was overwhelming.
[#112299 “Stay out of this half-breed! This is between me and my son!”] Eli hissed back, his own fangs bared. Later down the road, with a clear mind and a calmer perspective, Eli would actually have thanked Anton for stepping in and defending his son the way he did. The fact that this man would risk a fight just to shield the boy from further harm was endearing to any father. Eli would eventually be ashamed of his own actions and would owe a great debt to Anton for standing up for Dustin the way he did… but for now, Eli couldn’t see all of this. For now, all the vampire saw was rage.
[#112299 “How dare you! I was a good father! I did everything for that boy and all he did was throw it back in my face! All he’s ever done is walk away from his family for his own selfish high!”] Eli snapped back, remembering all the times he was forced to watch his son destroying his own life. Eli had never pushed or hit his son before, but shouting matches weren’t uncommon in the Palmer household. Usually it was Dustin screaming back in his father’s face and Eli raising his voice only when his patience had finally drawn thin. He knew Lexi and his wife hated it when they fought, but Eli had been so desperate to get through to Dustin, to help him see the risks he was taking with his own life. Every one of those heated arguments stemmed from the love and concern of a father, but Eli just didn’t know how to talk to Dustin. And now, with the pressure, pain, and grief clouding his judgement, Eli couldn’t even see that this time, he was the one causing all the damage!
As the hybrid closed in, shoving him back and gripping his shirt, Eli prepared himself to break every finger in the man’s hand until one comment had him frozen in place. It took several seconds for Eli’s mind to catch up to his ears, fully registering the implications of Anton’s words. When that reality set in, Eli’s anger took a deadly turn.
[#112299 “You?! You were the bastard that dealt drugs to my son?! You have no right to tell me how to raise my son! You’re not his family, you’re not his friend, you’re his fucking dealer! I should tear you limb from limb, the same way you ripped apart my family!”] Eli snapped back, looking just as violent and ready to fight as Anton. With tensions running this high, Piper was only too happy for the demand of proof as a brief distraction from the impending fight. Draven may have relished in a fight to the death between his two greatest enemies, but Piper had no desire to watch Dustin’s father and friend beat each other to death.
[#aa0000 “First of all, Dustin and I are friends, and Eli’s my Blood Brother. You think I like seeing them like this? There’d have to be a pretty damn good reason for me to lie about Lexi’s death!”] Piper stated honestly. If she didn’t convince them that their daughter/sister was dead, Draven promised to kill Lexi and Piper on the spot! That was a good enough reason to lie as far as Piper was concerned. Trouble was, she couldn’t explain anything o Anton without Draven overhearing!
[#aa0000 “But if you won’t take my word for it, fine… Draven told me to give you this.”] Piper pulled out the bloody knot of Lexi’s hair and handed it to Anton. Dustin choked back a sob as he caught the scent confirming it belonged to his sister.
[#aa0000 “He said he only needed one kid to make Eli cooperate. That’s why I busted him out as soon as I could. The Council will be looking for both Eli and Dustin. They won’t be safe here for long.”] Piper admitted. She shifted her eyes between the raging father, the fuming hybrid, and the young teen trying desperately to fight back his tears. She knew she could settle this with a few words – Lexi’s alive – but if she did, Draven would hear her and soon he would make sure their worst fears did indeed come true. As much as she hated to admit it, Piper’s best chance at keeping Lexi alive was to convincingly pretend she was already dead.
[#112299 “As soon as night falls, I’m taking Dustin out of this city, just like I should have done before this mess even started.”]
[#ff6622 “What? No! I can’t leave! My pack, they need me, I…”]
[#112299 “Your sister needed you too Dustin, and you had no trouble leaving her behind! We’re going. And you, Hybrid, you’ll have to find someone else to push your drugs to, because if I ever see you near my son again, I will kill you.”] Eli threatened, fully prepared to force Dustin to leave his pack and go into hiding where the Council would never find them. He’d worry about repairing the relationship between him and his son later, once the fears of falling prey to the Council were over.
When Dustin made no move to follow him, Eli stormed towards his son as tightly gripped his upper arm, pulling him roughly to his feet. The teen was torn. After finally being reunited with his father, he didn’t want to lose him again. But he couldn’t abandon his Pack! No matter how angry Talon and Trey were at him, Dustin owed the two Alphas his loyalty. He couldn’t leave them before the Blood Moon! And Anton had just defended him, he owed it to the Hybrid to stay and help him find his place. Dustin pulled against his father’s grip, but Eli just squeezed tighter, unknowingly marring the young initiate’s arms with another fist-full of bruises.
Anton rolled his eyes as Dustin threw back his own jokes about the situation. He couldn’t deny a word the kid said - if anyone saw the dealer now they would think he had gone completely soft! He was great at discussing a master plan to fuel his greed or his future goals , but it took a long time for Anton to learn how to really communicate with others. To be able to speak to another person with some human connection. He still didn’t consider himself a master; far from it.
[b “What can I say? I actually do have some brains inside this skull believe it or not. And nah, me? Serious? You’re dreaming a little too high.”] Anton laughed back, embracing the true freedom that surrounded them. He couldn’t remember the last time he had just let himself go. To just embrace the world without fear or pain.
[b “I was never meant to live longer than what I did. Even when I was turned into a Vampire, that was a massive fuck up. I should have died in that alleyway. Every time it is supposed to be over, I end up being something else. I never figured I’d be a fur ball on four legs. I have to make it up to Raven. I was an asshole and she saved me life. I’ve got to somehow make something out of this and stop being so damn scared.”] Anton admitted but he didn’t linger on the sadness of his past. For the first time since being turned into a Hybrid, he was embracing his transformation. While he knew the fear of change wouldn’t go immediately, he was seeing how he could use this to his own strength. If he could run on four legs, who knew what power actually laid hidden in his wolf form?
[b “We’ll see if it counts for something kid… if she’s alive when we are back and still wants to speak to me, it’ll count.”] As much as he wanted to get back to see her condition, he also didn’t want this moment to end. The heat rising on his body being combated by the rush of wind from the speed he was travelling. It was a speed he never would have been able to reach as a human or even a vampire! He was also glad to see Dustin relax.
Reaching the sewers, Anton sat down firmly with his chest heaving up and down. Catching his breath he kept his eyes on Dustin’s every move. As the kid got close to the sewers entrance, Anton growled as a warning not to get too close. It would only take one snivelling Council member to spot their arrival and there would be no escape. His suspicion was only confirmed when a voice piped up, to which Anton jumped straight on his feet and bared his teeth in partnership with Dustin. He knew this wasn’t worth the risk! Even more so as Piper emerged alone.
[b “Try anything against us Piper and I’ll rip that damn cloak from your shoulders and watch you burn. You might have saved us, I might be in your debt but don’t think I’m a fucking idiot. I’m not as quick to trust. You can come to my house, but you owe us every little bit of detail in return.”] Anton barked and nudged Dustin with his nose to get him moving. They didn’t have time to wait. If Piper had any news on Lexi, they had to find out as quickly as they could!
The numb feeling that took over Lexi after she murdered the wolf meant she couldn’t even let the tears fall from her face at this point. She stared blankly ahead as Helena made her orders to Shayd. This wouldn’t be the last time she would have to murder an innocent person trapped in Helena’s games. Behind that fur was a person. Someone who was missed. Lexi would be killing them all for however long of this nightmare was left.
[+orange “I don’t want to hear it….please don’t…”] Lexi begged, her voice barely breaking from how broken her own cries were. Hearing her father’s torture was enough, but having to listen to her brother go through the news was something she couldn’t handle. She spent her whole life trying to keep him safe and the only other time she left him, he almost died!
[+orange “Turn it off.”]
Her father was destroying everything. Draven was right from the start. He was blaming Dustin for her death! Her father was meant to hold Dustin together! It was the final straw of hope she had but as the argument escalated and she heard the crash, Lexi jumped up onto her knees and screamed out.
[+orange “I said turn it off! Turn it off! Turn it off!”] She screamed, unable to switch this off. Her brothers tortured screams ripped everything out of her.
She couldn’t stand it anymore. Taking the biggest risk she sprinted forward, slamming her hand on the radio and throwing it from the table, disconnecting the system all together.
[+orange “I said turn it off!”] She screamed but within a heartbeat she realised what she had done. Lifting her eyes up, she looked at Helena with pure fear. She acted out. While she didn’t directly attack Helena, she wasn’t going to happy that Lexi was acting out again. Lifting her broken wrist protectively to her chest, Lexi shook her head as the shock of everything that had happened took over her. Her knees buckled beneath her, her body frozen in pure fear. She couldn’t take this anymore.
[+orange “Please just kill me. It’d be easier. Please. The Council won’t have to worry about me anymore. Just kill me and you won’t have to worry about my brother or dad ever again!”]
Arriving at his old home, Anton felt anxious with his return. This was were he and Raven were caught by the Council last time. It could easily have been another set up and he no longer deemed his former drug den a place of safety. Letting Dustin in first, Anton followed behind with his focus fixated on Piper. He knew how much that girl danced around loyalties and it was from Anton’s experience which perhaps put him a little bit ahead of her actions compared to others. He himself was a con man. He would do what he could to get the best out of what he needed. If that meant turning his back on those he worked with, then so be it. As they stepped in and he saw the figure sitting at his table with one of his blood bag’s, Anton narrowed his eyes.
[b “Who the hell is this?”] Anton snarled, lowering his legs and preparing to leap for an attack. Instead as the connection was made between Dustin and this stranger, the realisation hit Anton hard. This was the kids father. He really was alive. He was now staring towards the man who had no idea that Anton was the reason his son went on his destructive path. As the two started to talk, Anton backed off. This wasn’t his place to intervene. Or at least he thought…
With each passing blow from the father, Anton could feel his fur standing on end. What did he think he was doing? This was his first meeting with his son in years and he was destroying any chance of a relationship! For some reason Anton could feel his defensive nature kicking in and was having to hold back, his paws clawing into the ground. Then the news Anton was hoping wouldn’t happen for Dustin’s sake hit the room. Lexi was dead… before he could even get his own head around the news, Dustin was on the floor.
Without hesitation, a split second later, Anton leaped forward in front of Eli and barked at the man in front of him.
[b “You touch him again I’ll rip you to fucking shreds!”] Anton warned and with his defensive nature kicking in, he shifted without a second of fear into his human form. When his transformation was completed, he was so threateningly close that his own face was only inches away from the father. His fist was clenched at the side of his body, his fangs still bared just like he was still in his wolf form! Anton never would have changed so quickly but he had one instinct he never confessed too - if someone was a close ally or a friend, he would risk everything to protect them. He was a powerful friend and an even more dangerous enemy.
[b “You think you are a big man attacking your own son? Eh? It’s father’s like you which drives people like us to become screw ups. No wonder he did everything against you because if you were like this before hand, I really don’t blame him.”] Anton spat, acting as a protective barrier between Dustin and his father.
[b “He’s your fucking son! He just found out his sister is dead! And you talk about not being able to protect him? He NEVER needed you for protection! He had us and he had his sister. He’s survived years with you. He needed you as a father, you bastard.”]
It was as if something snapped. Challenging Eli, Anton lifted his hand and shoved the vampire by his shoulder and grabbed him by his shirt.
[b “So if you want to fight someone, why don’t you square up to the drug dealer who fucked up your sons life? Eh? Go on. Go for it. Fight someone your own size because I’m just as weak and fragile. I’ve just come from that shit hole. You really want to blame someone, you can blame me. You understand? You lay a finger on him again, you go through me.”] Anton warned, his fist clenching tighter in Elijah’s shirt as he shook with anger. It took a few deep breaths but finally Anton let go and took a step back.
[b “Piper, prove it. Don’t think you are out of this. I’m not just going to trust you with this. Prove she’s dead. How the hell do we know you aren’t just trying to play another sick and twisted game?”] Anton asked, his body turning half away from Eli but he was prepared incase he decided to attack again. He wouldn’t let him hurt Dustin again but he couldn’t let Piper out of this situation! She had to know something more than what she was telling.
Dustin couldn’t help but give a small chuckle at the irony of the situation.
[#ff6622 “Who knew I’d be getting inspirational pep talks from my former dealer! Between this and you [i take responsibility] lecture from before, I’m starting to think you’re taking this role model thing seriously.”] Dustin teased back a little, keeping an eye on Anton to make sure he didn’t fall behind. Running on all fours wasn’t easy to get the hang of, but it did give them an advantage over the Vamps. Maybe if Anton saw the benefits to his wolf side, he wouldn’t be so resentful that Raven turned him.
[#ff6622 “It’s the same thing with turning , you know. I was scared to turn for the longest time. Being a wolf was great, but the transformation? It hurts like hell, I know. Even when I met you, I was still wary about it, only turning when I was ordered to. But it gets easier. Especially when you know it’s the only way to protect the people you care about.”] Dustin offered. Unlike Raven and Talon – the Bloodborns that had grown up in this life – Dustin was a Changeling like Anton. He remembered how hard it was to accept all of this – the pain, the fear, the pressure from the Pack… it didn’t come naturally to humans or vampires the way it did to Wolves.
[#ff6622 “Talon’s a Bloodborn, he’s been raised to put the pack first. He doesn’t realize how big of a deal it is for people like us to take risks for the ones we care about. I mean… it couldn’t have been easy facing the Council and forcing yourself to turn just to save Raven. But you did it, Anton. You brought her home safe. That’s gotta count for something, right?”]
From the corner of his eye, he could see the focus in Anton’s expression and he knew the rush of being a wolf was starting to sink in. With a knowing smirk, Dustin fell silent, allowing the hybrid to soak it all in. It wasn’t until the neared the sewer entrance that Dustin slowed his steps and replaced the peace in his mind with fear for his sister. A soft whimper escaped his throat as they neared, still not seeing any sign of Piper or Lexi.
Knowing Anton was right – it was too big of a risk to go back into the sewers – Dustin simply padded to the entrance and peered down into the darkness in hopes of seeing his twin hiding safely inside. With another anxious whimper and a fearful droop in his ears and tail, it was clear he didn’t see what he was hoping for.
Dustin sat at the entrance for a few long moments before a shifting movement from one of the nearby allies caught his attention. Dustin turned to face the sound, fully alert and growling dangerously and he darted back to Anton’s side. [i Stupid move Dustin! You can run but Anton won’t be fast enough yet to outrun a vamp or a rival wolf! What were you thinking?!] Dustin cursed within his mind, not sure whether that noise was made by a friend or a foe.
A figure stepped into view, bundled in one of the Council’s cloaks, although it looked to be about three sizes too big for the wearer. They stayed carefully bundled, as though still afraid of the bright sun penetrating the fabric, giving the impression they weren’t used to being out in the daylight at all.
Dustin snarled until the scent of the figure finally reached his nose. His ears perked curiously and a small, dangerous bit of hope flashed through his eyes.
[#ff6622 “Piper? You made it! Where’s Lexi, is she ok? Anton come on!”] The pup was already rushing towards the hooded vampire, as impulsively as he always was.
[#aa0000 “I’ll explain everything once we’re inside. It’s way too bright out here… Anton, we’re using your old safe house to hide in, and before you say anything, remember that you owe me big!”] Piper stated in a hushed voice. She was only too anxious to get back inside and out of that deadly sun. Dustin didn’t hesitate to follow her, anxious to see that his sister was ok.
Hearing the young girl’s unanswered pleas just brightened Helena’s mood. Lexi would only be able to take so much physical and emotional pain before she just turned off her emotions all together! It was a handy little feature Vampires could use: turning off their humanity like hitting a switch. That’s why there weren’t many vampires out there with a conscience. Why subject yourself to pesky emotions like pain, guilt, and sadness when you could just turn it off? It’s what the Council had been trying to do to Elijah Kane for years – force him to turn off his humanity so he would fall in line with the Council’s way of thinking. But Elijah was strong willed and firm to his beliefs; Lexi on the other hand…
[+green “She can’t hear you Lexi and even if she could, she wouldn’t help you. Why risk her own pitiful life to spare your family a little heartache?”] The witch mused, letting the girl suffer through the pain of her father’s cries. This was the perfect strategy: force the girl to feel so much grief and pain that the temptation to turn it all off would be too good to pass up. She’d force her to listen as her father and brother mourned her, torture her with the same pain she put her pets through, and feed her only the blood of the wolves that looked like her own twin. That way, there would be no risk of Lexi turning her emotions back on at the sight of her brother. She’d see the sandy-coloured fur and want to feed. Lexi would drain the blood from her own twin brother without even realizing it! Draven wanted her to corrupt the girl in a few weeks, but it wouldn’t take that long. Not when Lexi was already showing signs of breaking!
[+green “Oh yes, Lexi, you do want to do this! It will take away that burning thirst, it’ll ease the pain, start to heal your wounds, it’ll make everything better. And you’ll need that strength Lexi, because we’re not finished with you yet.”] Helena cooed, brushing back Lexi’s bloody-hair in an mocking maternal sort of way. As the girl gave in to temptation and drained the life out of the wolf, Helena looked up to the rest of her pets.
[+green “Shayd.”] She called, instantly watching the large, powerful black wolf step in to view. As the pet that has been under her control for the longest, Helena had every faith that her favourite pet would do whatever she commanded, even if she wasn’t there to give the orders directly.
[+green “Take a hunting party and track down more of these sand-coloured wolves. The smaller the better – young males if you can find them. From now on, that’s the only blood our dear Lexi will get.”] Helena ordered. With a sharp bark, Shayd ordered several of the other pets to leave their cages and follow him our into the sun. They would raid every pack in the city in search of any wolf that resembled Lexi’s twin brother.
Once the girl had her fill, Helena pulled the girl to her feet and moved her back towards the metal table, where she once again turned on the device.
[+green “Now that you’ve had something to eat, let’s see how your daddy and Piper are doing, eh?”] The witch turned up the volume once again, perfect timing to catch the first meeting of Elijah and Dustin.
Once Piper led the two back to the safe house, she shed her cloak and breathed a sigh of relief to be back in the safety of the dark room. Once the cloak was off, the bloody mess on her neck was clearly visible and the sight made Dustin nervous. How did Piper get so badly hurt? Why was she being so cryptic? Where was Lexi? Dustin hoped his sister hadn’t been hurt in the escape or he’d never forgive himself for leaving her!
As they stepped inside – the vampire girl leading the two wolves – Dustin froze in place at the site in front of him. Sitting at the table with one of Anton’s stolen blood bags was none other than his father, Elliot Palmer… or as he was otherwise known, Elijah Kane. Eli was nothing like what Dustin remembered: his dark blonde hair was white like Lexi’s, his skin was pale and cold like a corpse, he was far too thin after being starved for months by the Council, and his eyes were crimson red from the bloodlust, but what was perhaps the most striking was the look of disgust and confusion at the sight of the two wolves. Eli stood from the table and cast a questioning look between the wolves and Piper, demanding an explanation.
[#aa0000 “You said you wanted me to find your son. Well, here he is.”] Piper stated, backing off a little as Eli’s face turned from revolution to shock. As nervous as Dustin was to see his father again, he couldn’t help the swell of emotion that arose. Piper was right, he was alive! Dustin didn’t get him killed after all! Seeing that his current state was not very reassuring, Dustin shifted back into his human form. The painful cracks and agonizing contortions only made Eli’s expression twist with horror and disgust, but within a few moment, Dustin was human again.
[#112299 “Dustin?”] Eli uttered in complete shock.
[#ff6622 “Yeah Dad, it’s me. I’m so glad you’re ok, I’m so…”]
[#112299 “What have you done?”] The joy and relief Dustin had at seeing his father again instantly fell with the disapproval in his father’s tone.
[#ff6622 “Dad, I…”]
[#112299 “The drugs weren’t enough, so you had to go and get yourself bit by the first monster you found? I knew your were self-destructive, but turning yourself into a Wolf? How could you be that stupid?!”] Eli’s words were born out of fear and worry. He couldn’t protect his son like this and after losing Lexi, he couldn’t bear to lose Dustin too! But the worry and concern didn’t show through the anger and disgust in his tone and expression. All Dustin could see was his father’s disappointment. He took a hesitant step back closer to Anton. The boy was already shaking, having come face to face with everything he feared about reuniting with his father. Eli didn’t accept him, he didn’t even seem happy to see him!
[#112299 “You’ve always been reckless Dustin, but this?! There’s no fixing this! You signed your life away to these mutts and I can’t protect you!”] As fearful and ashamed as Dustin was, the moment his father’s condescending tone turned towards his Pack, the boy couldn’t help but snap back out of loyalty to Sirhan.
[#ff6622 “I don’t need you to protect me! Those [i mutts] are my Pack Dad, and they‘ll protect me! Just like protect them!”] Dustin shouted, unknowingly setting his father up for the most insensitive way to break the worst news imaginable.
[#112299 “You’ll protect them over your own flesh and blood! You were more concerned about your own damn Pack of flea-bitten dogs than your own sister!”] Eli shouted back, no longer in control of his emotions. He never would have blamed his son if his mind was clear and he was thinking straight, but the grief of losing his daughter, the fear of seeing what his son had become, and his own unwavering guilt made him speak without thinking. He was hardly aware of what he was saying, but Dustin took in every word.
Dustin’s face instantly dropped to one of fear and dread as his eyes darted around the safe house in search of their missing member. It wasn’t until now that he realized he couldn’t smell Lexi’s scent and the implications of that were too much to think about. He looked back to his father with wide, fearful eyes, begging him to deny the terrifying truth that was building in his mind.
[#ff6622 “Where is she? Where’s Lexi? Is she ok? Is she…”]
[#112299 “She’s dead, Dustin.”]
Dustin started to tremble, his breathing fast and shallow as he took in what his father had said. His skin went instantly pale and he backed away from the news as if it was a physical threat while his father, in all his rage, was advancing on his young son.
[#ff6622 “No… no, no, it’s not true, it can’t be true! No, she’s not… she can’t be…she…”]
[#112299 “You left her in that sewer to die while you were off having fun with your pack!”]
[#ff6622 “No, I…”]
[#112299 “You’re selfish! Just like you’ve always been! You put your own selfish needs before your family…”]
[#112299 “…and you left her to die! Just like you did with your mother!”]
[#ff6622 “NO!”] At the teen’s last cry, Eli’s rage had hit it’s cap. He lashed out, shoving Dustin backwards, unintentionally sending him crashing into the table and landing on the floor in a mess of wood and splinters from the broken furniture. That was the last straw for Dustin. With those last few hateful words from his father and a violence he had never experience at the hands of his dad, Dustin shattered, breaking down into agonizing screams of pain and guilt. Helena and Lexi would be able to hear every tortured sob from the boy as he cried out in pain far worse than anything Helena had put him through in the past. The boy curled up on the floor, broken by his father’s words, shattered by the loss of his sister, and crippled by his own guilt. The broken table had carved several bloody scrapes and dark bruises into his skin but Dustin didn’t even register the physical pain compared to the emotional torment. His father hated him, his sister was dead, and all of it was Dustin’s fault!
[b “We’re addicts. We give up. It’s in our nature because we feed a habit. But you know what else we do? We get right back up to do it all over again. Quite messed up but fuck, kid, it gets us through a hell of a lot. You’re here, somehow alive, and yeah she might get to you again. Did you ever fear taking your next hit? No you never because it was fucking easy. So easy. This fear you have is only going to play on your head. I have the same fear every time I pull Raven into my mess but guess what, you can’t stop things from happening. The thing you do is you bounce back.”] Anton pointed out but the moment he said it he was questioning why he was even trying to be supportive. It wasn’t out of the fact he felt Dustin wouldn’t take his advice, it was more about it being a surprise to himself! The first night he met the kid the only way he knew how to help him was to give him his first hit. Maybe he thought it was his way of fixing the mistakes he forced upon the young wolf. Maybe Anton was even becoming soft. Either way as naturally as the words came out, it was still uncomfortable for Anton to think he could be so caring. He was used to working alone and for himself. This Pack was making him soft. Though the other big reason was he swore he would protect Dustin. A dealer couldn’t break his promise.
[b “You can’t run away from Talon forever and neither can I. At least he has a soft spot for you. He hates my guts and he won’t be impressed when he sees Raven’s condition.”] With the speed they were travelling Anton was having to shout as Dustin was paces ahead! Anton hadn’t trained much as a wolf and was still learning to keep on all four paws! Occasionally he would trip and have to quickly regain his balance, but somehow he was managing to keep Dustin in his sights. The wolf was quick! Though Anton was starting to forget about the race. The quick pace had his body forgetting about the withdrawals momentarily and switched its energy to keeping up its speed. His heart which didn’t normally beat when he was in his Vampire form, was banging against his chest. He hadn’t felt anything like this since he was a human!
It was the small things that Anton thought he would never be able to appreciate again. The sun bouncing from his white fur was something that would have had him trapped in doors in the past. He welcomed the heat against his skin. Even when he was a mortal he never appreciated the daytime. He would be too high or in recovery from the night before. All his deals took place during the night. As a Vampire it was a matter of survival. Night time was the only way to conduct business. Now here he was running across open ground and for the first time in years, he could look up and see the blue sky, rather than a blanket of darkness.
The adrenaline rush could only last so long. With their quick sprint it wasn’t long before they were approaching the entrance of the sewers. Despite what had happened only hours before, it was eerily quiet. There was no guards around the entrance, nor an signs a blood bath had happened. It made sense with the sunlight, but this close to the Blood Moon, Anton was surprised they were taking the chances. Slowing his pace down, he panted to catch his breath.
[b “Not...not too close kid. I think we should wait here. You didn’t just save my ass out of there to get us both killed again.”] Anton said between breaths but he kept his eyes sternly on Dustin. The twin was impulsive and if he made the decision to rush in, nothing would stop him! While Anton was able to run and his mind was back to being focused, he wouldn’t be able to fight.
[b “If she’s alive she’ll call for us. We’re best waiting. Last thing we need is to draw attention to ourselves. Come on, you’ve run my last breath. Let’s just sit and see what happens.”]
Lexi didn’t have the strength to challenge Helena. Knowing this wouldn’t be the last time she suffered the repeated torture. No wonder her brother didn’t come back the same. If he had to survive this day after day, she couldn’t blame him for giving in! She would much rather have watched her brother give in to Helena’s demands than suffer another day of drowning. Lexi was even terrified to speak at this point! Anything she said might just spark another idea in Helena’s mind - another twisted way to torture her. At least her next plan would give Lexi the physical break she needed, but the emotional torture she was about go through would be more than the young girl could handle.
As soon as she heard her fathers voice, Lexi’s body tensed as she stared at the radio. Maybe Piper would pull through? She could unlock the cell door, tell her father the truth, and make an escape! It would be a risk but she was always flipping sides. Perhaps this was just another one of those occasions. Piper could have just been playing a game from the beginning with Draven and Helena. It could also be the rescue that Lexi needed!
[+orange “Tell him I’m ... I’m alive P-Piper.. I’m alive...”] she whispered to herself, though there was no doubt Helena could hear. Lexi was shaking with fear, waiting to see what Piper would say...
She was betraying everything they promised to one another.
At the same time her fathers cry ripped through the radio, Lexi let out a painful shriek. She knew it was coming but she wanted to believe in every little shred of hope she could. Now there was nothing she could do! She was under the mercy of Helena, Draven, and the Council all because she made a stupid decision and her family would have to suffer with the tragedy of thinking she had died.
[+orange “No! I’m alive! Dad I’m here! I’m not dead! Piper you are a liar! You liar!”] Lexi screamed towards the recording as she heard her fathers voice. The last thing she heard from her dad wasn’t the comfort that he still loved her, it was his cries of agony. If Dustin found out, it was over. Lexi knee there was no way to fix the family.
Feeling her wrist get twisted out of the cuff, Lexi was sobbing so much the pain couldn’t even cry out. It shouldn’t have hurt so much. She should have been thinking of a way to fix all of this but her hope was being crushed. As her body fell to the floor and she heard the wolf approaching, she was expecting more physical torture. Perhaps Helena was planning to get the wolf to claw and bite until she was on the brink of death. Being reminded of how much blood she lost, Lexi only had to look at the floor to see the impact that had been made. She was laying in a small pool which had been dripping from her wrist, and the back of her head and neck. She was so focused on everything else happening, her body hadn’t registered it. Now Helena pointed it out, she could feel the need for blood. Her stomach cramped and she could feel her fangs gritting together.
It was the first agitating signs of savagery.
Watching the wolf forced in front of her, it’s neck slit, Lexi didn’t need Helena to speak to realise what was happening. She wanted her to murder the young wolf. She purposely picked one with similar features to Dustin. Sandy fur. The reflection of her brothers own downfall once Piper told him she was dead.
Lexi shook her head, not wanting to kill the young wolf but her body was already starting to fight.
The scent of blood was heightened and she could feel herself wanting to leap forward and slam her jaws deep into the wolf’s veins.
[+orange “Please don’t make me.... I-I don’t want to... Helena I don’t want to...”] Lexi tried to beg but her pain across her body reminded her it was useless. She wasn’t just fighting against Helena now - it was her bodies own instincts. It wouldn’t be long before the savage part of her took over and the wolf would suffer. She wouldn’t just bite the neck - she would end up violently attacking and making it more painful than it needed to be.
Lowering down to the wolf, she gently brushed its fur and let her tears fall down.
[+orange “I’m so sorry...”] she whispered, her voice broken. Her body didn’t let her hold back. She was so close to the blood something snapped inside and she attacked. It was over quickly, but as Lexi sat up with the blood dripping down her jaw, her eyes were empty. There was no emotion. No care. She lost her family. She was alone. Now she was forced to kill. Everything that made Lexi the innocent girl she was had been torn apart so quickly.
The last person Dustin would ever expect words of encouragement from was Anton, yet here he was, knocking down that wall of doubt in the initiate’s mind. The relationship between the two was a complicated one. Even now, if asked whether Anton and Dustin would consider each other friends, he doubted either one would know the answer. There had been enough threats and betrayals between the two to warrant hatred, and yet both had risked life and limb for each other on more than one occasion. The only was Dustin could describe it was that he and Anton understood each other in a way few others could. It was nice to know he had someone like that watching his back.
[#ff6622 “I wouldn’t say I made it through Anton. I gave up, remember? I let her control me. I almost killed you just because she told me to! And I’m scared that she’s not done with me yet. She could drag me right back under her control, and I would be helpless to stop her… I don’t think I’m as strong as you and Lexi give me credit for.”] Dustin admitted.
Watching the white wolf, Dustin didn’t miss the clench of his jaw at the very mention of his father. The teen could hardly blame him. Dustin was terrified to face his dad again – after his addiction resulted in his mother’s death, his sister’s transformation, and his father’s capture. He wanted to believe his dad would be proud of how he’d turned his life around, got clean, joined a cause, became a loyal member of the Pack, but all Dustin could think of was that disappointment and anger in his father’s eyes every time he stumbled home after curfew. He half expected to see that same anger and disappointment from Anton, but instead the hybrid offered him the mercy of reassurance instead.
Maybe Anton was right? Maybe Lexi would find a way out, nothing’s been able to keep her trapped in the past! And Piper was as cunning as she was unlikeable, not the type to allow herself to get backed into a corner. They’d be fine, Dustin just had to stay strong and have faith in his sister. Any normal person would have offered a thank you or a simple not of appreciation, but Dustin never did anything the easy way. He wanted to repay Anton in the best way he knew how: to help him break through his withdrawals and accept his wild side.
With his small frame and athletic build, Dustin was naturally faster and more agile than most of his pack. With Helena’s forceful training, he became even more so! He didn’t bother looking back to see if Anton would follow him – he knew the hybrid wouldn’t pass up the challenge, especially if it meant explaining to the Alphas why the pup was gone again! He simply kept a moderate pace until he heard the clumsy steps of the white wolf catching up to him.
[#ff6622 “Can’t I do both? Come on Anton, I have to make sure my sister’s ok and I’m really not looking forward to facing Talon after what happened. Besides, I know from experience that being chained up through withdrawal only makes it worse. You need to run it off! Give over to your wild side and let your instincts guide you. I’ll bet you a human heart that this is the best high you’ve ever felt!”] Dustin challenged. When he saw Anton picking up the pace, he poured on the speed as well, pushing the hybrid to run faster and faster. Dustin had never found a feeling quite like this: the rhythmic beating of his paws against the ground, the cool breeze against his face, the adrenaline rushing through his veins. If this didn’t cure Anton’s withdrawal, nothing would.
[+green “He’s the bravest person you know? Now, that’s just sad Lexi. The bravest person you know reduced to a whimpering, cowering house pet in less than a week? You really need some better role models in your life.”] Helena taunted, amused by the gasps and groans of pain. She wasn’t surprised by the tough girl act, as pitiful as it was. All of her captives tried to put on a brave face at first; some lasted longer than others, but eventually all of them ended up the same: grovelling at her feet like the animals they were. Lexi would be no different.
Helena took her time with the drowning, smirking as the struggles grew more and more violent before finally *snap*. Even then, she didn’t release her new toy until the struggles stopped altogether and the darkness threatened to take her under. As the last bits of consciousness were starting to fade from Lexi’s eyes, Helena ripped her out of the water and let her choke and sputter on the table.
[+green “You’re lucky, little girl. Normally, I’d give you about 5 seconds to catch your breath then I’d dunk you back under! That’s what I did to your brother. For hours and hours until he just couldn’t take it anymore! Maybe we’ll test that out tomorrow, eh? What do you think Lexi?”] Helena wanted her to know just how hopeless this all was. She wanted her to understand that this wouldn’t get any easier. She was destined for a world of pain and fear until Helena finally deemed her ready! And that included not only physical pain, but emotional as well.
[+green “I was hoping you’d say that! Let’s tune in and see how daddy-dearest is taking the news!”] The witch cooed, turning up the volume and placing the device on the table next to Lexi so she could listen as she bled from her various wounds.
It wouldn’t sound like much at first, just Piper’s hurried footsteps echoing through the tunnels. She didn’t want to expose her secret entrance, so she convinced Draven’s men to give her access to the cell block. The room was too dark to see anything, but the rattling of chains let her know that Elijah was here.
[#112299 “Piper? Is that you? How did you…?”]
[#aa0000 “There’s no time Eli! We have to go now, while they’re distracted.”] Piper said, keeping her voice in an urgent whisper that still came out loud and clear over the mic in her neck. As she approached the cell, ready to pick the lock, Eli’s frail hand reached through the bars to grab her collar, the way he’d done when Piper and Lexi were in the passageway.
[#112299 “What are you doing here? Where is…? Is that blood? What happened to you? Where’s Lexi?!”] Eli demanded, the worry and fear lacing his tone. Piper knew she was risking Eli’s wrath by telling him this, but she’d much rather take her chances with the mourning father than with Draven. So she did her best to play her part, knowing every word was being recorded by that vile bullet in her neck!
[#aa0000 “I was trying to lead Lexi out but she was so freaking stubborn! She didn’t want to leave without Dustin! I told her that he’d be fine, that he’d find his own way out, but she would believe that he’d leave without her. She ran back t the tunnels and… I tried to get to her Eli! They shot me down. I thought I was going to die, I could more, couldn’t speak, and then…”] Piper stumbled on her words a little, making her story more believable. She was an expert liar, easily able to spin a story to her whim. She could tell by the shaky grip of Elijah’s hand on her shirt that he was believing every word.
[#112299 “Where is Lexi? WHERE IS SHE?!”]
[#aa0000 “She’s dead! She’s dead, Eli, I’m so sorry!”]
[#11229 “…Wh… What?... No…”]
[#aa0000 “Draven sliced open her neck, watched her bleed. When she was weak enough, he… he ripped her heart out of her chest.”] Piper hardly managed to get the words out before an agonized, mournful cry forced its way past Eli’s lips.
[#112299 “Not Lexi… Not my little girl! NO! Why would he do this?! Why would he…?”]
[#aa0000 “He said he only needed one kid to make you do what he says.”] Piper added, setting the baseline for her next set of lies. Instantly, Eli jumped to his feet and rattled the bars, a new desperation in his eyes to protect the only family he had left.
[#112299 “Dustin? Oh god, does he had Dustin too? Did he see his sister…? Did they make him watch?”] The pain in Eli’s voice was emanating from every word and Piper knew Draven would revel in every moment of it. His greatest rival, the one who stood in his way of power, now tortured by a story that wasn’t even true.
[#aa0000 “Dustin’s alive. He wasn’t there.”]
[#112299 “Wasn’t there? No, he wouldn’t have left his sister! He wouldn’t abandon Lexi!”]
[#aa0000 “Well he did. By the time we got to the tunnels, Dustin was already gone. He escaped with his Pack. He’s with them now… I don’t even think he knows his twin sister is dead…”] The mention of his daughter’s fate brought a fresh sob to the mourning father. He took a moment to compose himself as Piper picked the lock on the cell and on his chains.
[#112299 “Take me to him! I need to see my son! I need to tell him… Lexi… What have I done?”]
The conversation as abruptly cut short as Helena turned off the device, letting the last lingering echoes of Eli’s tortured sobs fill the room.
[+green “I have to admit, that Piper girl sounded pretty believable. And your poor father… all these years he’s been chained up, starved, drowning in his misery just to keep his little girl safe and you break in and get yourself killed because of him!”] Helena teased. She roughly grabbed Lexi’s broken wrist, twisting it painfully as she unlocked the cuffs and tossed the girl to the floor.
[+green “Looks like you’ve lost a lot of blood Lexi. Don’t want you turning savage on us, do we?”] Helena whistled, beckoning one of the smaller wolves to push her way out of her cage and pad forward. This wolf was scrawny, weak, and terrified, having not been in Helena’s care for very long. She was small for her age, nearly the same size and colour as Dustin was in his Wolf form. The sandy-coloured fur was matted and bloody in patches from her treatment so far, but she was just as obedient as all the others, proving it didn’t take long for Helena to control her pets. As the wolf neared, Helena grabbed the scruff of its neck and forced it to the ground, ignoring the desperate cries and whimpers as she took her blade and slices deeply into the wolf’s neck – not killing it, but enough to release a warm, stream of blood.
Helena knelt beside Lexi, brushing her hair away from her eyes and whispering in her ear in a fake, caring sort of voice.
[+green “Go ahead Lexi, take a bite! I know you’re hungry and in pain. The blood will make it better. Just sink your teeth in and drain every last drop!”]
Trey remembered too well the way Dustin was when he was separated from Lexi. In fact it was during The Resistance battle with the Council that they found the boy; he challenged to be killed with little care for the consequences. The very look that Talon described was the first eye contact Trey had made with the twin. It was the sign of someone who was giving up and letting themselves fall apart. Yet it was that moment in which Trey saw something in Dustin. He was a misfit. The broken. One of the outcasts who thought they didn’t stand a chance. It was that night before the battle unleashed which Trey had given Dustin a Resistance armband. It was no small gesture and not one that was to be taken lightly. Trey didn’t just invite anyone to join his ranks. While it was against Talon’s Pack, the boy needed something to believe in. A cause to fight for.
Trey would be naive to think that gesture would save the twin from the same destructive path again if his sister died - but he still saw something in that kid. He couldn’t give up on him.
[+purple “He’s got more in him than anyone gives him credit for. He’ll self destruct. He’ll probably destroy every bridge around him but… it’s not just up to him. If everyone else gives up on him if that happens, that is when there is really no hope. Anyway, we could be thinking of worse case scenario here. Let’s just hope Lexi is a fighter.”] Though after their conversation the doubt was starting to play on Trey’s mind.
[+purple “Well with the way Draven is going we could be looking at history repeating itself. That Vamp is becoming more lethal with each passing day and I’m not just talking about individuals here. He started with one target and look how his list has grown. We’ve beaten him at every move so far but there’s only so much until it is his time for victory. He’s a smart man. He’s been alive for a long time and he was probably part of that vote. Without Lexi around, nothing will stop him. Everyone in the Council will follow his every word. I’ll be honest…I don’t see the Blood Moon being the last night of severe blood shed. We’re going towards a new dark age and if you don’t like our chances now…well…”] Trey bowed his head, thinking of how much could be lost if they didn’t gather their strength in time. The Alpha Alliance was a myth he had heard of and one he lived for. If the wolves could band together, why not every other creature. In his own mind he wondered if it could even extend to humans! With the bleak image of the future perhaps it was time he stopped dreaming of utopia and focused on stopping a full blown war.
[+purple “If that is the way you want it Talon. For now, let’s prepare to survive this Blood Moon.”] Trey agreed as he followed Talon back to the the den. As he arrived the scene was tense. Everyone was looking at the two Alpha’s to try and gage what had happened between them. The last thing the Pack’s needed right now was doubt that the two Alpha’s could even align.
[+purple “Do we have the building secure? Is everyone we rescued from the Council alive and protected?”]
[i “Yes Alpha. As far as we are aware, Dustin is secure and Raven is receiving medical treatment. The Resistance have focused on keeping the building protected.”]
[+purple “Good. From now on that is our main priority and we follow whatever the Sirhan needs. If they ask for it, we get it. If they tell you to fight, you fight. Do you understand?”]
Trey started his orders but his wolf eyes focused up on the stairs, his nose flaring up for the scent of Dustin. As much as he wanted to check on the boy, he felt it was more Talon’s place to do so when he was ready. Dustin was a Sirhan, not a Resistance. That meant Trey wasn’t going to intervene. For now it seemed like Dustin was still around and safe…
Anton’s whole persona changed hearing that was more than likely going to pull through. He was still cursing himself for not turning quicker. If he didn’t let that fear consume him, she wouldn’t have had to waste her energy. She could have had help sooner and they might have escaped quicker. At least she had her best chance. Raven was strong and at this point, Anton was certain in his own mind that he’d see her awake sooner rather than later.
[b “Well if it wasn’t for you kid, we’d be dead. You took that risk and let me tell you something - if Talon or Trey say a word against you, they’ll have to deal with me. I mean, it won’t last long protecting you. I look like shit, feel like shit, and will probably fight like shit and they’ll rip me apart but hey, it gives you at least a five second head start to run away.”] Anton laughed a little, trying to lighten the kids spirits a little but it didn’t last long. He could see that look in Dustin’s eyes and he knew exactly what it was about
[b “I’m not exactly a role model, or someone you should ever listen to but if it means anything; you are a tough little bastard. That torture chamber messed with my head and Helena only took me there to drug me up and play with words. I saw it… if you can get through that, you can get through anything.”]
It was selfish but hearing about Dustin’s father, Anton’s fangs clenched together. The last thing Anton needed was to ever meet Dustin’s dad! Anton was the one who destroyed Dustin’s life and in reality, crushed the family as well. He fed his sons addiction, only causing more tension. Anton already had a long list of enemies, the last thing he needed was one more person against him. He was ready to snap at Dustin. To warn him to keep his mouth shut about everything that happened and their past relationship. Instead he swallowed back his anger, took a deep breath and met his eyes again with Dustin.
[b “Your sister is a stubborn asshole and Piper is too greedy to die. Look kid, whatever happens if you break again…well you are just like me. You know you won’t get yourself out. Lexi wouldn’t want you to destroy yourself. Just keep that in your head.”]
The banging door and the entrance of the Alpha’s wasn’t a welcoming sound to Anton either. The last time he was here, the Pack found a way to get him banished. He was already distrusted and no doubt Talon would have to take action. Once again Anton was in no position to fight for his own self defence. All he had was his words and that never played out well. No doubt the pack would want him executed, or banished as far away as they could possibly get him. He couldn’t leave just yet. He had to see Raven for himself and make sure she would be safe. As he looked bak to Dustin, he could see the plotting before the kid even opened his mouth!
[b “What the fuck are you up to?”] Anton immediately cut in and as Dustin brought up exercise, Anton could only laugh!
[b “Are you kidding me? You really think I’m going to believe a little run in the woods is better than anything I’ve taken? Look, you tried. You really did but I’ve been taking for a long time and trust me, nothing beats that moment you push that syringe in and… wait, you’re being serious aren’t you? As much as it sounds brilliant, I’m happy staying chained here and waiting to get my head chewed up. I also don’t think I have much choice and…what…what are you?”]
With his leg free, before he could even get to grips what was happening, suddenly Dustin was out the window! Jumping on his four paws, Anton clambered upwards and glared as he watched the kid running ahead.
[b “Are you crazy? They’ll kill us for this!”] Anton howled, staring in disbelief. They had only just gotten back in one piece. With how close it was to the Blood Moon, Anton wasn’t sure how safe they were even in sunlight! However if he left Dustin to run away on his own, the Pack would blame him for letting him get away. Anton wasn’t the type to tell on someone and he certainly wasn’t one to back away from a challenge. Leaping out the window, Anton hit the ground hard and lost his balance. He was still learning how to be delicate on his feet and wasn’t nearly as agile as Dustin. Picking himself up, Anton let his legs take off and slowly but surely, he was catching up with Dustin.
[b “Is this really about helping an addict recover or are you running away from your problems only to run into even more? You haven’t changed a bit, not since the day I met you! Well for now I’m going to beat your ass all the way there. Come on, let’s see what you’ve got.”] Anton challenged as he put more power behind his legs and picked up his pace. Dustin was right! His heart was racing, the adrenaline was pumping and his blood shot eyes became sharp and focused! It was the most clear he had felt for years!
The second time, there was no stopping the screams that crawled out of Lexi’s lungs. The longer Helena held it for, the louder her pain became. Even for the seconds of rest in which Helena pulled away and started to talk, Lexi was gasping for breath with hisses of pain between each rising and falling of her lungs. With her hands chained she couldn’t even reach towards the new wound to try and comfort herself. Her brother had to endure this for days on end and she was only in here for the first 10 minutes and already falling apart! Why couldn’t she be brave? Why couldn’t she be like her brother?
[+orange “I’d risk everything for my brother and I’d never…never give up on him. He might think I’m dead but I won’t betray him. He’s not a screw up. He’s the bravest person I know!”] Lexi argued, trying to gather as much strength in her voice but the tough and feisty Lexi which held together for the last couple of weeks wasn’t coming across. Instead she still sounded like the timid little girl she once was. Maybe this is what she had to do. If her brother could hold his own, she had to fight for as long as she could. Dustin wouldn’t believe she was dead. He would surely realise and come to her rescue! Only that thought wasn’t enough. Piper was manipulating. She knew Dustin just as much because of her time in detention and all the trouble they got into together. She’d know how to twist the way Dustin thought and there was nothing Lexi could do to intercept it.
[+orange “He wouldn’t have wanted this for me. You made the promise but it isn’t his fault. Please Helena there must be something I can do. Draven is just using you to get what he wants! You are more than Draven and you don’t have to do this. What are you… Ow! Ow! No stop! My wrist! My wrist! My….”]
Water rushed into his mouth, her nose, her lungs. She didn’t have time to draw in a breathe as she cried out in pain. Her eyes stung in the water as they were shot wide, her natural ability trying to find an escape route in the impossible. As the red clouded over her vision, she fought against Helena’s grip but nothing was setting her free. More water and blood rushed in and her lungs were becoming exhausted. She fought harder but then suddenly… [i snap]. Her wrist broke from the thrashing of the cuff and the bone protruded her skin. She couldn’t resist - her mouth opened wide, letting in even more water as she tried to cry out the pain. Instead it only started to force her to drown quicker. Just as her eyes started to cloud over and her body started to slump, she suddenly felt the back of her head slam against the metal of the table.
She hardly had time to even register all the pain going through her body. She wanted to let out more cries of pain but instead water only came out of her mouth. Between the spluttering the blood was now building up on her wet hair, letting red droplets hit the floor around her from where she had split her head. It was impossible to tell what was the tears on her face and the droplets of water, but as she sat there with her chest heaving she didn’t even register what Helena had planned next. She already wanted it to be over!
Her next form of torture was more than the pain burning through her body. She had to decide if she listened to her father hear the worst news she could imagine for him. He’d blame himself! She never should have went looking for him. Only how could she not hear his voice? How could she not hear his reaction? She had to know he was still alive. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as she thought? Maybe he would know she wouldn’t be dead. Her father was smart and he knew how the Council could trick people. Surely he would figure it out? Looking up at Helena with pure fear in her eyes, it was hard to tell if that fear was from what was coming next or the decision she was about to make.
[+orange “I…I want to….I…”] She started, choking on her own cries.
[+orange “I want to listen.”]
[#77766 “If Lexi dies, we’ve lost both twins. You didn’t see what Dustin was like the last time Lexi left him: anxious, confrontational, depressed, self-destructive – he started using again, he lashed out at the people he cared about, and that look in his eyes… I knew every time he left the den there was a chance he’d never come back. That boy didn’t care if he survived if he didn’t have his sister at his side, and that was knowing she was still alive! If Lexi dies, Dustin will fall apart.”] Talon admitted, recognizing the dangers as clearly as Trey did. All of Talon’s hope for the boy as his Alpha-in-training was dying. He couldn’t expect Dustin to step up and lead a pack if his sister’s life was at risk. That left Talon in the same treacherous place he was weeks ago – if he lost the faith of his pack or if he died in the Blood Moon, Sirhan would be at the mercy of his greatest rival. Selfish reasons aside, he knew the heartache of losing his siblings and he never wanted the boy to suffer that kind of pain.
[#777766 “Nana once told me that the Council held a vote many years ago to eradicate Wolves from this city all together – complete genocide. One of the Council’s founding families objected, unknowingly saving the lives of every Wolf in this city. I hoped Lexi would one day take up her legacy and convince the Council that Wolves and Vampires could still coexist, but without her… There isn’t a single Pack in this city that could fight the entire Council. It would take all of us joining together to protect ourselves, and in light of the Blood Moon, I don’t like our chances.”] Talon admitted. It was almost unheard of. There were stories and myths of a time when Wolves were hunted mercilessly by Vampires and Humans alike. Back in the dark ages where Wolves had nearly gone extinct as everyone aimed to eradicate these “monsters of the night”. When there was no other choice, the Pack leaders of that time banded together under the Alpha Alliance – each wolf protecting each other, fighting side by side as one Pack. But through the centuries, the threats dissipated. Humans somehow convinced themselves that Monsters weren’t real, Vampires learned to avoid rather than hunt the wolves, and the Alpha Alliance was no longer necessary. The Packs split, growing distant and independent, and over the generations they became rivals once more. It seemed nearly impossible to refuge the Alliance as their ancestors once did.
[#777766 “My Pack still believe that Anton killed Nana. I might be able to argue Raven’s case, since they’ve known her since she was a up, but Anton? They won’t accept him until he can prove his loyalty to the Pack. There’s nothing I can do for him until after the Blood Moon. Sirhan will not allow him to stay… But if the Resistance welcomes him, then the choice is yours. As I said, your pack is under our protection until the Blood Moon.”] Talon stated. If he went back on his word and welcomed Anton back now, it would destroy any last shred of faith his pack had in his judgement. But if Anton became a member of Trey’s pack, he would at least be protected. It just came down to whether Trey would welcome a former addict into his pack and whether Anton would be willing to give his loyalties to any wolves other than Raven.
[#777766 “This isn’t about hate, Trey. Alphas don’t always see eye to eye, that’s why alliances between them are rare. But Sirhan is my responsibility, just as the Resistance is yours. I appreciate your support, but it means nothing without your respect. Don’t interfere with my Pack and I won’t interfere with yours. After the Blood Moon… we’ll see where we stand.”] Talon agreed. He didn’t want to lose Trey as an ally, but he couldn’t risk this situation happening again. Talon was already at risk of losing his pack, if they saw he was losing control to another Alpha, it was all over.
Dustin wasn’t expecting a warm welcome, but seeing the white wolf so clearly annoyed by his entrance made the teen temped to just turn around and walk away. He likely would have if Anton didn’t react to the news about Raven. That in itself was reassuring. For a moment, back in the sewers, Dustin was worried that Anton cared more for his addiction than he did for his partner, but that desperation in his tone proved that wasn’t true. Raven really was important to him.
[#ff6622 “The medics are working with her now, giving her blood and organs to help in the healing process. They’ve stitched her side and bandaged her burns, but the rest will need moonlight to heal. She’s still unconscious, but if everything goes well, she should wake up in a couple hours.”] Dustin explained, willing to offer whatever news he had to pacify the hybrid. Despite the fact that Dustin and Anton had never really been on good terms, the young teen didn’t have anyone else to go to right now. He wasn’t used to being alone, with Lexi and his pack always by his side, so this wasn’t easy for him to deal with on his own.
Recognizing the signs of withdrawal, Dustin lowered his ears in sympathy. He remembered exactly what that felt like. Not only had he been forced through detox when he first became a wolf, but just recently he had to force himself clean again after Helena’s drugs. Even now, the pup couldn’t help but feel the craving for just one small hit to take the edge off, but he knew himself too well. If he gave in to that temptation even once, he’d never be able to clean himself up again.
[#ff6622 “Yeah… let’s just say, I’m not looking forward to running into Talon or Trey right now. They gave us orders to stay near the den, but when Piper told us you and Raven were in trouble…”] Dustin trailed off. His eyes grew distant for a moment as he thought of what he went through in Helena’s workshop. No doubt Anton had seen, if not experienced some of that torture and the up couldn’t bear the thought of anyone suffering that fate. He shook himself out of his daze, pushing the memories of the pain and fear to the back of his mind.
[#ff6622 “Piper didn’t just tell us about you. She said… she said my father was alive. That he was captured by the Council. Lexi needed to see if it was true with her own eyes. That’s the only reason we split up. I would have gone with her, to protect her, but I couldn’t just leave you and Raven behind. I know what Helena is like… and I can only imagine what Draven would have put your through.”] Dustin admitted. He had seen signs of torture on both Raven and Anton and knew that if he waited even a few more hours, it might have been too late!
[#ff6622 “Lexi and Piper… they didn’t make it back. I’m scared Anton. I can’t lose my sister.”] Dustin whimpered. A slamming door echoed through the den and Dustin’s ears perked up, shooting towards the entrance. No doubt Talon and Trey were home, which meant it was only a matter of time before they sought him out. Talon was going to kill him for disobeying orders like that! And after breaking Trey’s trust, the Alpha was more likely to chain Dustin up to a wall than allow him to go out and look for his sister. But Dustin couldn’t just leave her there! Maybe she and Piper were just running late? Maybe they made it out and were back at the sewers right now!
Dustin turned his eyes back to Anton, seeing the shakes that racked his body, the sweat that dampened his fur, the redness in his eyes… fortunately, Dustin knew how to help him. Trey and Talon were REALLY not going to like this!
[#ff6622 “When I was first turned, Talon forbid me from using. It was the hardest two weeks of my life trying to get clean, but it was worth it. When you’re human, they tell you that exercise takes your mind off it, floods your body with adrenaline, focuses your mind… but that’s nothing compared to what a good run can do for a wolf. Every sense is alive and heightened, that speed, the power in your legs, the feeling of the wind through your fur… it’s a rush, Anton. One of the best highs I’ve ever known.”] Dustin told him, knowing from experience. Dustin padded towards the White Wolf, biting down to release the shackles around his paw. One thing he knew – being chained up and confined only made everything worse. If Anton was going to beat this, he needed to find an outlet for his addiction and this had the added benefit of getting him comfortable with his wolf form!
[#ff6622 “Come for a run with me? Raven’s in good hands and its daylight out there, so no vamps will bother us. We’ll be safer together and it’ll do you good to see what being a wolf is all about. Besides, Lexi could be back in those sewers, not able to come out because of the sun. I need to make sure she’s ok. Please Anton? Trust me?”] Dustin asked, darting over to the window and nudging it open with his nose. He leaped up on the sill and flashed a challenging look at Anton, hoping the Hybrid would take a chance. He just needed to see what this new wolf form could do!
[#ff6622 “Come on Anton! Let’s see if you can keep up!”] Dustin dared before leaping out the window, into the clear, bright sunlight.
Helena rolled her eyes at the little girl’s complained, silencing her with another jab of the electric prod. She allowed this one to linger, waiting until she had drawn a satisfying scream from the young vampire before pulling back and setting the rod back on the shelf.
[+green “Begging already? I guess you are the weaker twin! Your brother didn’t start begging until at least day three. By now, he was still trying to put on a brave face: [i ‘you’ll regret this you witch! My pack will come for me! My sister will save me!] blah, blah, blah. He had an awful lot of faith in you, Lexi… or, he did until I pointed out how you would never risk yourself for a screw up like him. Once I convinced him you didn’t care, he broke pretty easily after that.”] Helena mused. Draven wanted her to break not only Lexi’s spirit, but also the bond between the twins. It wasn’t going to be easy, those two were practically inseparable. For Dustin, she had to prey on that doubt and insecurity that lie buried deep within his mind – how he was never good enough for his family, how he failed his sister over and over, how she was better off without him. Eventually, Helena convinced him that he was worthless, just like her other pets. With that acceptance, gave his complete and utter surrender. Lexi would have to be played a little differently… she needed to be convinced that all of her pain and suffering was her brother’s fault.
[ +green “Oh, but I have to do this sweetheart! I made a promise! I told your brother that if I ever got my hands on you, I’ve make sure you suffered everything I did to him! So whether you surrender or not, I really don’t care. I’ll keep hurting you until we cover each and every bit of fun that Dustin went through. Let’s see… do you want to see his favourite game?”] Helena asked. She roughly pulled Lexi off the table and over towards the tub. With her wrist still cuffed, the stretch would have pulled painfully on her wrist, but Helena didn’t seem to care. She grabbed Lexi by her white hair and forced her head over the freezing pool of water.
[+green “Deep breath dear!”] Helena said, hardly giving Lexi a chance to inhale before shoving her head deep into the pool of water. The Blood from the girl’s neck quickly stained the tub, leaving Lexi to drown in a literal blood bath! After several long minutes, Helena finally pulled the girl out of the water and threw her back against the table, letting her catch her breath.
As the girl gasped, Helena stepped over to a small device on the counter, turning the dial with a satisfied smirk. The device was a direct link into the mic Draven had imbedded into Piper’s neck, letting Helena and Lexi hear exactly when the little traitor was up to.
[+green “Now, I’m not as cruel as people say I am Lexi. I think one day, you and I will get passed all of this messy business and one day even be friends! So to show how reasonable I can me, I’ll let you decide: Lexi is about to break the news of your death to your father. Would you like me to turn this off? Or do you want to listen to your dear old daddy being told he lost his favourite little girl?”]
[+purple “I was trying to stop those children from losing all the sanity they have left. Lexi was losing control, Dustin was on edge. He needed his sister and she needed him and I didn’t think that a few moments outside within our territory would get them into trouble. I misjudged, Talon. I know that. But what would have happened the moment I turned my back once if I said no? You cannot keep your eye on your entire Pack, and neither can I! Eventually they would have outsmarted us and escaped, then what? Would we have got to them on time? They are children and you are treating them like prisoners. Maybe you should listen to your own words.”] Trey argued in his own defence, but with Talon’s stance he wasn’t sure where this was going. With his fierce posture and the fury in his eyes, it could easily turn into a battle of dominance. It wasn’t rare for Alpha’s to fight against each other to resolve differences, but with Talon’s expression he didn’t think this would end with a controlled clash. The stress levels were rising and there was no guarantee any of this was going to ease before the Blood Moon. Trey was a powerful wolf in his own right, but challenging against Talon was intimidating enough.
The words that followed was more agonising than the wounds of any potential fight. They made Trey stare intently at Talon, his whole body stiffening as the memories came racing back to his mind. There was a pain that shined through his eyes that he had kept hidden since the attack on The Resistance. Since he lost Tink, Trey hadn’t allowed himself the time to mourn her death. They had fought for so long with a cause to make a difference. They had this dream of changing the way the races saw each other. There would be no difference between Vampire, Wolf, or Hybrid. She and many others died for the dream they forged and he hadn’t quite accepted his failures. He never should have put his Pack in Council territory. Tink told him about the risks but he was so determined to see the change he wanted, it cost the lives of his Pack. Trey didn’t want to accept what he had done but for some reason, hearing another Alpha point out his mistakes and made it more real.
Trey had become so passionate about helping the Sirhan Pack because he had failed so much with his own. Now it just seemed his mistakes were following him. As Talon broke the silence, Trey turned his head and blinked away the intensity from his eyes. He would have stayed trapped in that silence for longer if neither of them had spoken up; trapped in the memory of that night. Calculating his thoughts and attempting to compose himself, Trey say on the ground with his tail tucked in. He could feel the tension rippling through his body and needed a way to ease that tension away.
[+purple “I don’t think anyone is destined to be a perfect leader. Even those who were supposed to be in your place. That responsibility is something no one can understand, until you are in an Alpha’s position. I have enough blood on my paws to last me a lifetime and I can’t guarantee there won’t be anymore. The same goes for you, but I never once doubted you weren’t doing your best. It’s not easy, but we also have to learn from our errors. That’s why we can never be the perfect leader because the only way to learn is through mistakes. For us though, those mistakes often cost the lives of others.”] Trey started but his voice didn’t carry nearly as much fight as it did before. While he had his own suffering he could see the fear and concerns of the wolf standing before him.
[+purple “But you aren’t a master of fate. Remember that. Sometimes things happen beyond our control, no matter how much we try and control it.”]
He was aware of the damage caused by his decision. He should have watched the twins when he let them out but he wanted to give them some sense of freedom. Dustin had previously been a prisoner of Helena and was now trapped for his own protection. Lexi was feeling the burden of being watched all the time. Now he could have another drop of blood on his conscience and he would have to be prepared for that outcome.
[+purple “Let’s talk like Alpha’s. We made our mistakes and now there could be a price to pay. We have to be prepared to break whatever news there is to Dustin. If he finds out by another means who knows how he will react. We also need to be prepared for what will happen if Lexi is dead. I’m not talking emotionally ... she was the best weapon against the Council with her family name. If she is gone, there’s no stopping them. We also need to somehow get the pack aligned with Anton and Raven. I don’t think it’s a good idea to banish them again... it’s only going to keep costing us. However, you are the Alpha or Sirhan. From now on I won’t intervene with any of your decisions.”] With enough damage caused, Trey knew it was time to back off. He would support and follow orders, but he had proven he had intervened too much.
[+purple “We should head back. Check in with everyone. I don’t want you to think I hate you Talon. That’s now what this was about. Whatever you think of me it doesn’t matter, but you have my support.”]
Anton had been forced into a room secluded away from everyone else. Firstly for his own safety. With the withdrawals he needed to be away from any medication the den had hold of, to stop his urge from taking anything else. He was also locked away for the safety of everyone else. If his withdrawals became aggressive, they needed to be sure no harm would come to the Pack. They had chained his front paw to the wall, to stop any drastic actions or escape plans. Also the Pack was uncertain of his return with Raven. After his banishment, they didn’t expect to see another Hybrid amongst their ranks.
Collapsed on the floor, Anton was heaving for breath as his bodies internal system was on overdrive. His fur was flat against his body, wet from his body trying to push all the toxins out of his system. The floor around him was already showing deep scratches from where his claws had etched away at the wood with frustration. He knew the next few hours would be torture, but he was also away from the whole cause of the escape. He knew nothing about how Raven was, if she was alive or even if they got her back to the den! He had begged for news but no one came to his calls, so now he was tucked in the corner just hoping his efforts hadn’t been in vain.
When the door opened, he hardly had the strength to lift his muzzle up from the floor. It seemed everyone only saw Anton in his wolf form when he was his weakest. Hearing Dustin’s voice, Anton’s tail tucked between his legs and his ears flattened, but the look in his eyes didn’t seem
to show disappointment in his previous actions - only frustrated that this kid had arrived. He didn’t need another kick while he was down, especially from a previous junkie and he was almost expecting the lecture!
[b “I’m feeling like an absolutely ray of fucking sunshine kid.”] he grunted, preparing to turn his body away until heard Raven’s name.
With his little energy he forced himself into his shaking paws, walking as far forward as he could until the chain snagged his rear leg back.
[b “She’s alive? She’s going to be ok? I thought I messed it all up but... you’re telling me she has a chance?”] Anton asked without being able to hide the desperation in his voice. It was the news he had been begging for. If she died and it had all been for nothing then Raven said it herself, they were partners. There was no point fighting through the withdrawals if she wasn’t going to make it through. In fact he would welcome the suffering. He never broke a deal yet, but this was something more. He actually cared about getting her out.
[b “Thanks kid, I appreciate it. Look, what happened before ... I err... “] Anton wanted to apologise, but he couldn’t bring it forward. Not out of his feelings for Dustin, if anything he owed
more than an apology! There was just so much battling through his mind he couldn’t bring it out.
[b “You know how it is when it hits. I’ve been taking for years but fuck... I can’t even stop when I’m having to same someone I care about. You look like shit. I’m going to guess by he look in your eyes you are hiding from someone. I owe you Dustin so you can stay, your practically begging me the way you are looking but just... yeah, it’s hard at the moment. I just need another hit. Can you talk to me? Just distract me? What was actually going on back there? You weren’t just coming to save me and Raven.”] Anton pointed out his observation, allowing himself to lay back down to show Dustin he wasn’t going to act like he had.
[b “And where’s your pain-in-the-ass of a sister?”]
Lexi should never have trusted anyone else. The only person she trusted was Dustin and now she extended that trust to someone she disliked the moment she met.
Piper hadn’t just completely destroyed their plan but she was agreeing to destroy everyone she cared about! Lexi struggles beneath Piper’s grip but by the time she was in Draven’s hands it was too late. The fear of the whole situation and her lack of control brought out the side of Lexi that no one had seen for months. It was the return of the vulnerable little girl.
[+orange “Please Piper I’ll offer anything! I’ll do anything but please don’t do this to Dustin! Please he’s not going to cope with this. Draven, Helena, put me in separate cell. Keep me away from my dad but please don’t do this!”] She begged, the tears already building up in her eyes from the fright of it all. She made this plan to make everything better. She was reckless because she thought it was for the best. Now it was going to rip her entire family apart and there was nothing she could do.
Draven ignored the girls pleas. His hands clasped together behind his back and his eyes stared heavily on Piper. This was no longer about whether she’d do it for the best deal - he had his vengeance on Anton and when Raven stood in his way, he extended that wrath to her. None of them had lived easily since. If Piper failed, he would equally make the rest of her life a living hell and the look in his eyes was one not to question that.
[+red “I will be monitoring you Piper. From the escape to everything you do after. One screw up and I kill Lexi and all your lies will become true. After that I will spend every waking second hunting you down. Do you understand? Now... GET OUT OF MY SIGHT”] Draven bellowed with his voice echoing for miles down the corridor. Turning sharply on his foot to leave the scene, the guards around quickly gathered by his side. No one wanted to test Draven’s patience at this moment, so everyone was on high alert.
[+red “I want you to make her suffer Helena. More than any other puppet you’ve had before. The tough little girl with all the words is now nothing but a blubbering mess. When you are done, I want her hating Dustin. You understand? If it wasn’t for him, your family would never be in this situation in the first place.”] Draven spat with venom in his voice, his usual amusement and torment gone. He didn’t have time to waste with playing games anymore. It was only days until the Blood Moon and this was his final call to destroy anyone who stood in his way.
With the back of her neck cut, Lexi’s face was buried into the floor with her hands covering the cut. Her pale fingers were painted red and her sobs could be heard beyond the cries of pain. She couldn’t escape or she’d be killed anyway and live up to what Draven wanted! Feeling Helena’s hand grasp her hair she screamed out, hoping maybe that her father would somehow hear.
It was impossible, but it was her final attempt to try and find some hope. As soon as she was chained to the table in that torture room, all the hope she had in the world was crushed. Her brother had to endure this and now it was her turn. As the electric rod was jabbed into her side, Lexi’s yelp of pain was cut as he body spasmed under the current. When Helena pulled it away, she was shaking and letting the tears fall further, her fang biting into her lip. She was already breaking. She wasn’t strong like Dustin and it was all a front. The tough girl act she had been upholding was just her anger, not actual strength.
[+orange “P-Please Helena... you don’t have to listen to Draven. I’ll do anything but please don’t do this!”]
Talon’s eyes flashed with a cold fury when Trey shoved the blame back in his face. The rage was emanating from the Alpha so fiercely that any of his Pack that were close reacted the same way as the pup – tails down, ears flat, shoulders hunched – most just hurried back to the den and left the Alphas to sort it out between themselves.
[#777766 “Of course they would have tried to sneak off, that’s why I wanted them supervised! That’s why I trusted you to watch them! They’re not prisoners, Trey, they’re children! Hurt, damaged, fragile children who don’t know how to stay out of trouble for more than five minutes! And between the Council and all the Rival Packs hungry for a chance to take us out before the Blood Moon, those kids are the prime targets! I was trying to protect them, what the hell were you doing?!”] Talon growled, his muscles visibly tensed beneath his fur. Talon was intimidating as is, but when he was angry like this, he was downright terrifying! Although it came across as pure rage and power, behind those furious eyes was deeply rooted fear and loss. Talon knew the chances of Lexi surviving until they could reach her were slim, and without his twin, Dustin would crumble. In a matter of hours, both twins’ lives had been destroyed and Talon couldn’t fix this! Not to mention, his sister was half-dead when he found her and Anton was distraught, so Talon’s next impossible mission was to convince the Pack to forgive the two outcasts at least long enough for them both to heal. All of this was pressure on the Alpha’s shoulders and he was very near his limit.
[#777766 “I banished them because Anton gave me no choice! You think I wanted to exile my own sister? You think I’m that much of an asshole that I’d want her out here alone, unprotected?! Screw you Trey! I may be a dictator, but at least my Pack’s alive and my Territory is intact! See where your care-free leadership has gotten you!”] It was cruel and impulsive, but the words had rushed out before Talon could stop them. He knew Trey was still suffering from the death and loss of his own Pack, especially Tink, and he never should have used that loss as a weapon against the other Alpha. As soon as he said it, Talon fell silent. He closed his eyes and turned his head down, clearly ashamed and regretful for what he said. Now that the Pack had left, the Surface had fallen into an eerie silence and Talon took several deep breaths to quell his fury and bring himself back under control. He should have apologized, but he couldn’t bring himself to take that step yet.
Talon eventually opened his eyes and raised them to meet Trey’s. Now that the anger had faded a little, more of the worry and pain was allowed to shine through.
[#777766 “I’m not a perfect leader, I know that. Was never meant to be Alpha. That right belonged to my brother and I’ve been screwing this up since the day Helena cursed him. But dammit Trey, I’m doing the best I can to keep them safe! They are my pack, my responsibility, and every drop of blood they spill is on my hands!”] Talon stated before burying his insecurities yet again and cursing himself for his moment of weakness. An Alpha can’t afford to be so doubtful. His pack was counting on his strength and his guidance, so no matter what doubts plagued his mind, Talon didn’t have the luxury of giving in to them.
[#777766 “Dustin could have died today. For all we know, Lexi could already be dead. That’s my fault, but it’s your fault too. I trusted you with my pack and you went behind my back, ignored my orders, and put my initiates in danger. Under normal circumstances, that would be more than enough reason to banish the Resistance from Sirhan territory.”] Talon stated firmly, letting the gravity of the situation sink in before he continued.
[#777766 “That being said, you saved Dustin’s life, and the lives of Anton and my sister. For that, I owe you a second chance. You and your Pack are welcome to stay under Sirhan protection until the Blood Moon. After that, if you’re so disgusted with my [i dictatorship], you can leave.”] Talon growled. The Alpha was anxious to get back to his Den. He wanted to make sure Raven was going to survive this and to get some answers from Anton about what exactly happened back there. Talon also wanted to check on Dustin, but after his recent display and the possibility of losing his sister, Talon was sure Dustin would want nothing to do with him at the moment.
Dustin was back at the den pacing anxiously around the room while the pack watched him like a hawk. They were obviously worried that the Initiate would try to make a run for it in search of his sister. With so many eyes on him, however, Dustin had to wait impatiently for news. In an effort to distract himself Dustin learned what he could about Raven’s condition before heading towards the room where Anton was being kept.
Still in his wolf form, Dustin nudged the door open and padded inside, taking in the sight of the White Wolf he’d never seen before. Dustin had been in lock-down during Anton’s transformation and although he had heard about the Vampire turned Hybrid, it was admittedly a bit of a shock to see it for himself.
[#ff6622 “Anton? Are you um… are you ok?”] The boy asked, still a little wary after his last confrontation with the man. Dustin was all too sympathetic about the rash and violent outbursts of someone in withdrawal, but it still didn’t ease the fright of Anton nearly ripping his head off down in those sewers.
[#ff6622 “I didn’t mean to bother you, I just… I thought you might want to hear about Raven? I checked with the medics, they said she should pull through. She’s in rough shape, but as long as they can keep her alive until the moon rises, she should be ok. You really saved her life back there.”] Dustin said, not sure whether Anton would want to hear from him or not, but he hoped the former dealer didn’t push him away. With Raven out of commission, the Alphas still furious at him, and his sister still missing, Dustin didn’t really have anyone else he could talk to.
Piper knew the plan wasn’t flawless, but she certainly didn’t expect it to backfire as severely as it did. Not only was Lexi not going to be reunited with her father, but now Draven was taking Lexi as his sole prisoner, Piper was being ordered around like a servant, and Dustin and his father were going to be pitted against each other! Piper had hoped they’d try to use Lexi as leverage against Eli, but it seems that Draven didn’t care about the older generation anymore. Now that he had Lexi, he was changing the entire game! Piper wasn’t prepared for this.
[#aa0000 “Hey, no need for threats! Trust me, I’ve got no loyalty to Princess here, I’m out for myself the same as always. Whatever you want, it’s yours.”] Piper replied, relying on experience to help her hide the fear from her voice and expression. She knew that if Draven gave the order, she’d be dead before she could blink! As much as she wanted to help the twins, sometimes a girl just had to look out for her self!
Draven’s merciless display and the rotting corpse on the ground erased any doubts Piper had. She didn’t dare try to outsmart Draven, especially when he wouldn’t hesitate to pull that trigger on her. The best way to keep herself and Lexi alive was to admit defeat and play this by Draven’s rules.
[#aa0000 “Like I said, the girl’s all yours. No deal is worth taking a bullet for.”] Piper admitted selfishly. Although she did feel a pit in her stomach when Draven announced Lexi’s fate: being manipulated and tortured by the Witch herself! Piper had always despised Helena, but the malicious grin that twisted the vampiress’ lips was enough to make Piper’s skin crawl.
[+green “I wonder which Twin will be harder to break. Your brother lasted four days before I was able to shatter that spirit of his. How long will you last, Lexi?”] Helena cooed. Her smug expression, quickly faded when Draven pointed out her recent failures, but Helena didn’t seem any less confident in her assigned task.
[+green “I turned a Sirhan Alpha against his own pack. Manipulating a scrawny little girl won’t be any trouble at all.”] Helena insisted, casting an amused smirk at Lexi’s empty threats. Draven had already thought of a way to get those pesky mutts off their back. As long as they believed Lexi was dead, they wouldn’t risk coming back to save her mere days before the Blood Moon. And with Dustin and Elijah distraught over the loss of dear Lexi, they’d pose no real threat to the Council. By the time any of them realized Lexi was alive, the girl would be under Draven’s control – cold and emotionless enough to order the deaths of her own friends and family.
Helena wasn’t the only own who saw the certainty of this plan. Piper was equally as certain of Draven’s plan, though not nearly as excited about it. For a brief, fleeting moment, she thought about shoving Lexi towards the exit and making a break for it. Maybe the Wolves were still outside? Maybe if they made it to the surface, they could avoid all of this! But before Piper could even think about her options, another shot sounded and the young girl hit the floor, choking and gasping on the blood that filled her throat. Abandoning her mask altogether, Piper’s eyes shone with real fear as she fought to get her breathing back under control. The blood seemed down her neck, staining her shirt and dying her pale skin bright red. Piper finally managed to regain her breath, looking between the stern gaze of the Councilman and the pleading eyes of her friend’s twin.
[#aa0000 “Sorry Lexi, but it looks like there’s a better offer on the table.”] Piper replied, climbing slowly back to her feet with one hands clasped against the bleeding bullet in her neck. There was no way out of this, she had to do what Draven said or she’d be killed. Piper couldn’t even warn Dustin! Not with that mic imbedded in her skin! She turned her eyes away as Draven slit open the back of Lexi’s neck and tossed her all the evidence her brother and father would need of her death. She couldn’t bring herself to look at Lexi, knowing that every promise she’d made to the girl and her twin brother would be broken soon enough. Draven was right, she had no choice.
[#aa0000 “Elijah has always loved Lexi more than Dustin… at least, that’s how Dustin always felt. With Lexi dead, Elijah will take it out on his screw-up of a son. Dustin will shatter as soon as he hears Lexi’s dead, but with the right words that grief can easily turn to hate and anger. Those two will rip each other apart.”] Piper admitted. She knew it was true. Piper had known Dustin for a long time, whether in detention or out on the streets. She knew everything she said was true: without Lexi, Dustin would self-destruct.
[#aa0000 “Once the sun goes down, I’ll break Elijah out. All I need is access to the cell block. I’ll take care of the rest. Sorry Lexi… I guess you shouldn’t have trusted me after all.”] Piper replied. With that, she slunk back into the shadows, wanting to get as much distance between herself and Draven as she could. She only had a few hours to orchestrate an escape plan for Elijah and figure out how she was going to drag Dustin away from his overly-protective Pack.
Helena glared after the retreating girl before turning her eyes to her new target. Without a word, she grabbed Lexi by her bloodstained hair and dragged her towards her workshop. Inside, Lexi would see the same horrid sight that had welcomed Anton mere hours before. The wolves in too-small cages, the blood on the floor, the torture instruments on the table, and the tub she’d used to give Dustin his extreme fear of drowning.
[+green “So tell me Lexi, which one of you is the stronger twin, eh? Which one of you is the bravest? Which one do you think will be harder to break? Let’s start with something easy shall we?”] Helena cooed as she cuffed one of Lexi’s wrists to the metal table, preventing her from straying too far. Once she was in place, Helena picked a long, metal rod from the table, instantly hearing the whimpered reactions from the wolves in the room, each recognizing the tool and remembering the pain it could cause.
Without warning, Helena jabbed the metal rob into Lexi’s side, sending a fierce electric jolt through the girl’s body, giving her a taste of what her brother had experience when he was in her shoes.
Anton was whimpering in pain and his muzzle was salivating from his own desire to feed his habit, but as soon as Raven collapsed his instincts changed. He was straight by her side, nudging her with his nose and with the little energy he had in himself, howling for help.
[b “Don’t you dare fucking give up on me now. You hear? Damn it Trey! Trey please she…”] There was a panic in his eyes. He had seen her in this condition far more than he’d like to admit. No doubt she had avoided death much more before she met Anton. Yet as the Pack arrived to support, as they started to pull Anton away he was struggling back to be by her side.
[b “Raven you fight through this! You said partners. I need to stay by her side damn it!”] Anton fought back until Trey jumped in front and snapped his fangs at the Hybrid.
[+purple “You are going through withdrawal Anton! She needs medication and if you are around you could just risk everything. You need to be away until you are clean. We’ll look after her and make sure she survives and we’ll do the same with you, but this isn’t the time to be selfish. You’ve fought through so far, now keeping fight and give the medics the space they need. It’ll be ok. We’ll get you both through this.”]
With no more energy left to fight, Anton reluctantly agreed and was taken away by the Pack while Raven was treated to on her own. With everything in order with Anton and Raven, it wasn’t long before the Alpha was fighting to save Dustin.
[+purple “Lexi was meant to be with you. Where did she go Dustin?”]
Trey’s ears fell flat against his head. He knew instantly what this meant. There was no way they could risk themselves at this stage to go in and save Lexi. If she didn’t appear in the next couple of minutes, they would have to make their retreat! Only just as Trey was about to make the order, the Alpha he dreaded meeting most in this situation made his commands clear. Trey could only shoot Dustin a quick look of strength. The kid would need it with the fury in Talon’s voice and no doubt the punishment when they returned to the den would be severe.
[+purple “I know what I did Talon and trust me, I’m biting my own tail for my decision and it’ll haunt me but don’t be so ignorant to your own responsibility with this! If you weren’t so strict on the Pack, then maybe I wouldn’t have to jump in with these risky decisions.”] Trey challenged back, baring his own teeth at the Alpha in front of him. This wasn’t the time to be picking a fight with an ally, but if Talon was blind to his own actions then the Blood Moon would be their death anyway! As they started to make a retreat towards the den, Trey waited until they were a safe enough distance before he faced off to Talon. The Pack were already making treks ahead and this wasn’t something they needed to hear. Also with the lack of trust between the Pack, the last thing they needed was seeing two Alpha’s going head-to-head!
[+purple “I’m not saying I didn’t make a mistake Talon. I shouldn’t have been so care-free and I should have been stricter but you know what would have happened? They would have made their own escape. Lexi was battling against you for weeks. It was only a matter of time. You can’t keep prisoners forever Talon. What if they snuck off? At least I was keeping an eye on time and knew something was off. If they had gotten away because of your strict rules and we didn’t know, they could be dead! They are only alive because I was already on my way.”] Trey challenged but he knew he was already edging on dangerous territory talking to Talon about this. The pressure had been building up and he wondered what would be Talon’s breaking point.
[+purple “And what about Anton and Raven? If you hadn’t banished them then maybe we wouldn’t have had to risk going to the Council altogether! You’re becoming a dictator Talon, not a leader. I will fix my mess but can you fix yours, or are you going to stay in denial?”]
[+orange “You don’t have a death wish? Oh that’s rich because everything I’ve heard about you screams running into death for a good price! If you tell my dad anything I swear…”] Lexi started to shout but as soon as the conversation changed back to her father, her voice turned into a harsh whisper. She couldn’t have her plan ruined because Piper was going to blow it all out of spite! Lexi had never really been able to protect her family. She was always the weak one. This was the first time she really felt she could make a real difference in the family. If she could save her father and reunite him with Dustin, it would give everyone the strength they lost the day everything changed. Also she couldn’t help but think of her mother. She loved how close the family was before all the trauma happened. Lexi was sure the one thing her mother would want more than anything was for them all to be together and to see the man she loved free from a cell.
[+orange “I’m more than sure. I’ve not lived with guarantees for a long time Piper. I’ve almost lost everyone. They are always taking risks for me and I think it is about time I took a risk or two for them. They’ll be angry but… they’ll forgive me. One day. Just promise me you’ll look out for Dustin. Please don’t let him do anything stupid. I know that is almost impossible but Piper, I can’t come back to find out I have lost him again.”] Lexi admitted with the first look of real self doubt she had shown Piper. She knew her brother and if he didn’t stay rational, he could easily go off the rails again!
Agreeing to the plan, Lexi let Piper do what she had to do. It wasn’t hard to act with, Piper was really going for it! As Lexi’s arm was twisted behind her back, she let out a hiss of pain and started to struggle back against her ‘captive’.
[+orange “Let me go! You’ll never get to Dustin! I said let me go!”]
[i “Move out of the way!”]
[i “Clear the space, secure the area!”]
The orders of the guards could be heard far before they appeared on the scene. This wasn’t just your typical Council guard. These were the men and women usually seen protecting the elite, or the high security prisoners. With everything that had happened, the Council weren’t taking any chances. Far too many had escaped and their best had been injured. Now it wasn’t just about capturing those who escaped, it was about making sure they didn’t let their most powerful die moments before the Blood Moon.
As the guards took their place, Draven followed behind. His eyes were stained red and his energy looked depleted. Whatever was in that syringe had certainly taken its toll and in a way, Piper and Lexi should have been thankful! If he had the strength to keep fighting, there was little doubt he would be holding back. While he looked exhausted, there was a look in his eyes that was just as lethal as his orders and actions combined.
[+red “You don’t make deals with anyone anymore Piper. You take orders and you listen to me carefully. I’m done with these games. How about this for an offer Piper? You listen to me order. If you fail or disagree, we kill you and Lexi on the spot. You follow my order, I might just consider your life valuable.”] Draven hissed as he watched the struggle between the two girls. This wasn’t just about getting his revenge on Anton anymore. Piper had brought them the most valuable Vampire. Lexi Kane could destroy everyone around her and she didn’t even realise it.
[+red “What’s going to happen Piper is you are going to hand Lexi over to us as a prisoner. And we are going to set Elijah Kane free.”]
The announcement brought a pin drop silence to the hallway. Every guard stared at Draven as if he had gone completely out of his mind! Even Lexi stared in disbelief, unable to muster the words to even begin understanding where this was coming from. Why would he free one of his most powerful prisoners for a little girl?
[i “Sir, maybe the medication forced on you has gone to your head. Let us take over…”]
[+red “Kill him.”]
[i “But Sir I am just trying to…”]
A single gun shot wound to the head silenced the guard as Draven held his gun tightly in his hand. It wasn’t long before that gun was pointing towards the two girls.
[+red “Elijah Kane means nothing to us now we have you Lexi. Your father is weak and no one will follow his orders. However you… you even surpass me. We need you. I’ve had enough of reuniting prisoners. So you alone will be spending time with Helena. Won’t she?”] Draven cooed and this time his attention turned to his partner. Though his voice took a different turn. This wasn’t up for debate. It was a strict order for Helena to follow.
[+red “Considering she is having a hard time teaching Wolves to follow her every command, maybe you can train a Vampire to turn her back on everyone she loved and be prepared to order her own twin brothers death. I’m sure you could have her slaughtering the whole Sirhan Pack by the end of the week, couldn’t you Helena? Especially when it is one-on-one?”]
Lexi knew it wasn’t the exact plan she wanted to follow but if it got her father out how could she resist this opportunity? She knew the type of pain her brother endured - though she knew she couldn’t imagine it fully. It looked like she wouldn’t have to imagine for much longer what he went through with Helena; but if it got her fathers freedom, she would hold out for as long as she could.
[+orange “You do know they are going to save me? You can’t keep me prisoner forever. You fail every time!”]
A chilling chuckle followed Lexi’s sentence and Draven stepped forward towards the girls, with a sinister smile.
[+red “No Lexi. They won’t save you. You want to know why? Because Piper is going to tell your brother that you died here. She’s also going to tell your father before he leaves. They won’t come back for no reason. You are their only reason and if they think you are gone - they will both lose their strength. Your brother will blame your father and Elijah won’t be able to forgive himself.”] Once Draven was close enough, he snatched another gun from his belt and pulled the trigger towards Piper’s neck. It wouldn’t be enough force to kill her but if it hit, it would definitely knock her off her feet.
[+red “And to make sure you don’t betray us, that bullet contained a microphone so we can listen to everything you say Piper. The moment you go silent from ripping it out, or say something against the plan, we’ll kill you. We’ll also be using you to stage an escape of Elijah Kane. You will get him free. You will get him to Dustin. You will make them believe Lexi is dead. You will make them hate one another. You will destroy them.”]
[+orange “No! Piper! Forget it. Forget I said anything! It’s not worth it. Don’t listen to him!”]
[+red “Either listen to me and live or listen to this little brat and die.”]
Before Lexi could continue to protest, Draven wrapped his hand around her throat and lifted her up off her feet. He was shaking on his own feet from the lack of strength he had, but Lexi was hardly a fighter herself. Despite her struggles, he managed to keep her lifted way above his head. His grip was tight and the malice in his eyes was beyond any regular planing of Draven’s. He knew he was close on the edge to failing. One more mess up and the Council would have him executed. One more failure and he would lose everything he worked for. He was not going to lose to a Kane!
[+red “The Sirhan are already struggling. Arguing between themselves. They have a junkie hybrid and a former pack member who is falling head over heels for him. They have more injured than strong. Talon is losing the trust of the Pack. So imagine your brother collapsing with grief at your death and your father arriving. The Pack will fall. You will be the one who will order their death. Helena will make sure of that.”]
Throwing her to the ground at Helena’s feet, Draven reached for a knife from the guards belt and slit straight through the back of Lexi’s neck. The young Vampire screamed out as her crimson blood stained her white hair. Cutting a shred of her hair, Draven tied it up and threw it towards Piper.
[+red “Give this as a last memory of their dear Lexi Kane. You don’t have a choice Piper. The Blood Moon is coming and if you fail I will have you killed first. Mark my words. As for you Helena. This is our final chance. Make this arrogant little wretch suffer.”
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