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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It was unsettling to see the Alpha so weak, even for Anton. He had seen Talon recover before but it seemed tenacity and willpower wasn’t going to pull him through this time. It was a juxtaposition between the two. Usually it had been Anton coming back with Raven, bloody and beaten, being looked down upon by the wolf who judged him for his character and actions combined. More than enough times, Anton’s fate had been in Talon’s hands. The decision of life or death in the balance of his judgement. It was now his turn to be looking at the wolf who was once so strong, quickly decline. While he accepted Talon’s words and showed forgiveness, Anton was also conscious that as Talon slipped away they were losing their chance of saving Dustin. If he took a knife and slit the Alpha while he was too weak, he could get the blood they desperately needed. He was also even thinking if it would be more merciful to concoct a batch of drugs that would put him into a quick overdose and end his suffering. They were dark thoughts, not ones he intended to act upon. Firstly, he knew it wasn’t his place. He just managed to earn his respect with Sirhan and gain some trust with Talon. Even if these were his final hours, Anton held onto the good while he could. There wasn’t often much that came his way. Also no one would forgive him. Raven would be furious and if Dustin survived through Anton’s callous actions, the boy might just slip away again.
It was a difficult line for Anton. He wanted to show empathy and compassion, but the most he could do was to tie those dog tags around his neck. At first he thought it was pathetic but as he looked up to see the comfort in Talon’s body, he learned that even the smallest gestures could make a big difference. Perhaps for once he did do something good after all.
[b “You were an asshole Talon. You made some pretty nasty decisions, but you had to. I was pissed off with you every single time - but somehow your decisions actually made some good in the end. Thanks…I guess. I’ll try and now screw it up.”] Anton wished he had something more confident to say, but he couldn’t promise anything. He couldn’t lie to him on his deathbed. He had never belonged to anyone before. He grew up selfish and a loner. Now he was starting to belong he was hoping he could hold it together, but it was already seeming like a challenge. The idea loomed over his mind - Talon might have faith that he could do it, but it was a completely different way of life for Anton. Even after all this time he still had the niggling thought that it could all go wrong.
[b “I’ve been by the kids side since I first met him. Even when I was screwing with his life, I was making sure he was alive the next day. That’s one thing you don’t have to worry about.”] His voice this time carried at lot more assurance. Perhaps it was his vendetta against the Council but there was something about keeping Dustin alive that drove Anton forward.
Watching as Talon was fading further, the energy seeping out of him and creating a dark aura in the room. It was chilling and Anton almost wanted to call out for Raven in fear that at moment could be her brothers last. He wouldn’t need to call however and it wasn’t for good reason. Seeing the tears in Raven’s eyes, Anton’s jaw clenched as he heard what was happening. He knew at this point it was best to follow her orders, despite how broken her voice was. Nodding at her words, Anton took a step back from the scene and rushed as quickly as he could with his damaged ankle to Dustin’s room; leaving the brother and sister together for their final goodbye.
Lexi didn’t know what more she could do. She had spoken to her brother - she had tried to reach through to him and be close but it didn’t work. He was still screaming and writhing in pain, begging for someone to make it stop. What more did they expect her to do? Just as she was going to give up hope, her hand’s grasp growing weak, she felt Dustin’s fingers curl around hers in an attempt to show he was listening. He wasn’t completely lost. He wasn’t angry at her for what she did? Did he really want her close? Lexi squeezed his hand tightly in return, showing some strength just as much as her brother was. If he wasn’t going to give up, then she had to keep strong for him too. Not only was it the least she owed him but maybe her father was right - maybe she could help him survive this.
[+orange “We’re going to get you through this. We’ll do it together Dusty, ok? Not long now…”] She whispered and her own tears betrayed her, falling onto his hand as they trickled down her face. While she was used to seeing him in the past come home in a mature of horrifying states - nothing compared to this. It was clear it was a miracle he was alive. He was a fighter from start to finish and she just needed him to hold onto that belief that everything he was going through because of her would be worth it in the end. Somehow, despite her mistakes, it would all be ok.
Then everything took a darkened turn. Watching her brother start to choke for air, her hand tightened on his so hard there was no doubt she was causing bruising but she couldn’t help herself! He couldn’t give up now. She wanted to somehow force all of her energy into him, that natural grip which started so weak now like an anchor against his own skin. It would have taken a lot of force for Raven to rip Lexi away!
[+orange “Dustin! You have to listen to me! Just hold on a little longer, ok? Please, please, please don’t give up on me! Dad, tell him! Tell him you never meant a word of what you said and you want him to be ok. Do something!”] Lexi begged, even as she watched her father have his wrist sliced open, she was trying everything to keep him alive. Words of hope and strength, getting as close as she could - she couldn’t watch him die!
The wound she inflicted was worse than she could ever have imagined. She knew Vampire poison could be lethal, but to see the effects against his skin was enough for her to throw her hands to her mouth in shock. She did that. She was the reason he couldn’t breathe or feel true comfort away from the pain. She stared, barely registering what was going on until her father demanded that she spoke to him. Everything was happening so fast but at the same time, she was begging for more to happen. Where was Talon with his blood? Little did she know the Alpha that she shot was now losing his life for her brother that was close to joining him on deaths door, all because of her.
[+orange “I can. He can have all my blood. However much it takes I don’t care dad! He can’t die! It’s my fault so take it! I don’t care how just…”]
Before she could continue she suddenly cried out in pain, feeling a tight grip on her forearm and a sudden slash down her wrist. Next to her was Anton, pulling away the now bloody knife and angling her arm into a glass beacon he pulled from the medical trey.
[b “We need to have you ready Lexi. I know it was by surprise but we have to act fast, alright? Squeeze your hand in a ball and tense, it makes the blood pump faster. Fill this jar up. Eli, when you are done put your belt as tight as you can around the top of your arm to restrict the blood flow. We don’t need everyone dying to give Dustin a chance. Just the blood he needs.”]
[+orange “If I need to die to save him I’ll…”]
[b “You’ll what Lexi? Kill him all over again? If you die then he has nothing to live for anyway!”] Anton snapped and the words hit Lexi hard. While her father focused on getting as much of his own blood into Dustin’s neck, Lexi did as much as she could to have as much of hers ready.
Talon watched the Hybrid with heavy eyes. His strength was waning more and more as the time past and even now, the next two hours until the sun set seemed unbearable. The bandages around Talon’s severed arm were soaking through with blood, draining the life out of the Alpha with every treacherous drop. It was only due to Talon’s own will and stubbornness that he would survive until nightfall. Normally, that would be enough to get the Alpha through his injuries. As long as he could survive until he could feel the healing properties of the full moon, Talon would survive and come back stronger than ever. But doing so would subject the young initiate to more suffering and Talon couldn’t do that to the kid. He had been listening to Dustin’s tortured screams for hours and he refused to force more needless pain on the young teen, even though rushing the cure would cost Talon his life. To die in service to a member of his pack was an honourable death. Talon had been stripped of much these past few weeks, but he would hold onto his honour til his last dying breath.
As Anton took the dogtags and hung them around his neck, the Alpha relaxed. It was a simple gesture, but it held more meaning than the Hybrid would know. To Talon, it meant he was forgiven, that his actions were still redeemable. It meant that Trey was wrong about him – that he wouldn’t just lead Sirhan with a hateful vengeance against all other species, but instead, his final acts as Alpha would guide the Sirhan into a new era of peace with the Fangs and Hybrids who proved they were deserving of the pack’s trust. He was glad that in his last few hours, he could make amends with Anton.
[#777766 “I may be dying, Anton, but I’m still Alpha. I do what’s right for my Pack, not matter what the personal cost. You’ve watched me banish my own sister to serve the needs of Sirhan, so believe me, I would not be doing this unless if you didn’t deserve it. I believe you will protect this pack – that they will be stronger with you among them. I also believe you’ve been searching a long time for a place to belong. Now you have one.”] Talon told him, closing his eyes for a long moment as if the simple act of keeping them open was exhausting the Alpha.
[#777766 “I need one last favour from you Anton. If Dustin survives this, the Pack will be his. He’s already young and inexperienced and now he’ll be weak and uncertain after an ordeal like this. It’ll take time before he finds his way as Alpha. Stay by his side… he’ll need your support.”]
Raven eyes the clock nervously, wishing the seconds would tick by faster for Dustin’s sake, yet dreading them all the same for Talon. Each moment that passed brought Dustin closer to life and Talon closer to death – like two ends of an hour glass slowly feeding into one another. Raven felt her chest constricting with the very thought of losing her last remaining family – since there were still no guarantees that Shayd could be saved. Right now her eldest brother was locked in one of the Sirhan holding cells, feral and senseless as if he were more beast than man. Raven new that she could very well lose both her brothers tonight, and though she knew this was a possibility since long before the Blood Moon, it didn’t hurt any less. Her only solace was knowing that this was what Talon wanted – to die for his successor – to die with Honour, saving the life of his Pack. So Raven’s mission was clear – no matter what the cost, she had to make sure Dustin survived.
At first, Dustin was too disoriented to know who had entered the room. He was blinded by pain, deafened by his own screams, and all he could smell was blood and the wretches stench of his own festering skin. The bite on his neck was a gruesome mess that the medics had thankfully covered with crisp white bandages so Dustin’s father and sister wouldn’t have to see the worst of his wounds, but it still burned like a white-hot iron against his skin. He could vaguely hear voices around him, only enough to know they were there, but not nearly enough to make out the words. Thinking these were more enemies – because who else would watch idly while he suffered this much pain? – Dustin broke his screams and pleaded for the mercy he had so far been denied.
[#ff6622 “M-make it st-stop! Pl-please! Make i-it sto-p!”] He screamed. Dustin knew he was going to die, he was ready for that, why wouldn’t they just let this be over? Why did they want him to suffer?!
Relief soon came, but not in the form he was expecting. A cool hand brushed his clammy hair away from his face and rested against his forehead – the cool touch bringing a refreshing ease to the burning under his skin. Soon another hand wrapped in his and Dustin froze as he recognized the touch. He felt the familiar smooth skin – colder since she had become a Fang – but no less comforting. The grip was shaky and unsure, but he knew it as well as he knew his own skin! Lexi had come back for him. She was here by his side! She didn’t abandon him! Did this mean he was forgiven? Did this mean she still loved him?
For the first time since she’d brought Dustin to the Den, Raven began to feel hopeful for the boy. While his father’s voice did little to ease Dustin’s pain, the voice of his sister miraculously cut through his screams. When she took his hand, Dustin squeezed back with what little strength he hand. His hand trembling violently in hers, but at least there was some small proof that he was fighting. By some sheer force of will, Dustin clamped his mouth shut, muffling his screams behind closed lips in some stubborn attempt to hide his pain from his sister. The last thing he wanted was for Lexi to blame herself for his suffering.
Forcing his eyes to focus, Dustin gazed wildly around the room until the blurred images before him gradually settled into a more familiar shape. It was his sister and his father by his side, begging him to keep fighting. Didn’t they know it was hopeless? A changeling like him couldn’t survive a bite this bad! They wanted him to hold on, but dying would finally stop the pain. Didn’t they want him to hurt? Or were they just not ready to let go yet? Dustin had failed them both. He was a disappointment to his father, he’d never been good enough to his sister, maybe this was his chance? If they wanted him to hold on, he’d do it, no matter how much it hurt. He owed them that much at least.
[b “It’s almost time. The Cure has to be given in stages, in order of when the blood affected him: First is Eli’s, then Talon’s, and finally Lexi’s. As soon as the moon rises, we’ll start the process. Once he’s been given all three blood samples, we’ll let him heal under the full m…”] Raven’s words were violently cut short by a desperate wheezing gasp from Dustin. His punctured lung had fully collapsed, making it impossible for the boy to breath. His lips were turning blue and his back arched off the cot as his body desperately fought for air. Raven hadn’t planned on this, but it looked like the stab to Dustin’s chest might kill him before the bite did! Raven shoved Lexi and Eli aside to make room for the medics. They tore open Dustin’s shirt to assess the damage, not hesitating to take a scalpel to the boy’s already injured chest in attempt to inflate the lung.
[i “It’s no use, the toxin’s reached his heart, it’s pumping faster through his body. At this rate, he won’t be strong enough to survive a surgery! Raven, it’s not or never!”] The medic instructed firmly. Raven glanced at the clock. The Moon would be rising in under an hour. If they started the process now, maybe Dustin would hold on long enough for the moon to rise.
[b “Dammit! Alright, we’re doing this now. Eli, give me your arm!”] Raven demanded, and to Eli’s credit, he didn’t hesitate for a second. He may not trust this flee-bitten Wolf, but he wouldn’t dare waste his son’s precious change at a cure due to his own paranoia. He held out his arm, barely flinching as Raven drew her blade and cut a deep slit across his wrist. She tore off the bandage on Dustin’s neck, showing the corroding flesh in all its goriness before holding Eli’s arm directly above the wound. The father’s blood streamed from his own pulsing veins and dripped steadily into the bite mark on Dustin’s neck. The instant the first drop hit the torn flesh, the boy went rigid with pain. The wound began to bubble with a black foam and the boy’s eyes rolled back in his head with sheer agony.
[b “Hold it there, keep the blood flowing until the foam starts to clear. I’ll go get Talon’s blood. Lexi, if the blood stops before that foam clears, cut into Eli’s other wrist. We have to work fast.”] Raven ordered before sprinting off towards her brother’s room with tears brimming in her eyes. She thought she had time for a last goodbye with her brother, but this was all happening too fast! In order to save the boy’s life, Raven was going to have to drain the life out of her own brother, one blood drop at a time!
[+green “Come on Dustin, you keep fighting son! Stay with us!”] Eli growled behind clenched teeth. The adrenaline that coursed through his veins dulled the pain in his arm, so he’d barely even registered Raven’s blade slicing through his pale skin. Eli watched the foam on his son’s neck intently, sparing a few fleeting glances at his daughter.
[+green “Lexi, it’ll be ok. It the wound is foaming, it must mean it’s working, right? Just a little longer now and your brother will be cured. You have to stay strong for him now, you hear me?”] Eli spoke, trying to reassure both himself and his daughter that the frightening scene before him would somehow turn out ok. Eli had never been so terrified in his life watching his son convulsing in front of him, so painfully close to death.
[+green “Alright, Lexi, once Raven gets back it’ll be your turn. Are you sure you can do this? If you’re not sure, you ask one of the Medics to take your blood with a needle, ok? It’ll hurt a lot less than a slit wrist. Lexi? Sweetheart, you have to talk to me! You have to be strong now, for Dustin, ok? Show me you can do this!”]
Raven burst through the doors to her brother’s room, finally letting the first tears slip down her cheeks. She met Talon’s eyes with a devastated look before facing her partner.
[b “Dustin’s crashing! We have to start the cure early and hope he’s strong enough to last until the moon rises. Eli’s giving his blood now. Anton, Lexi’s going to need your support. Go, I’ll… I’ll be there as soon as…”] [i as soon as I have Talon’s blood… as soon as my brother’s dead…] Raven didn’t need to say the words aloud to know that Anton would understand. She needed a moment alone with her brother, needing to take advantage of these rushed few seconds to say her goodbyes before it was too late.
Anton had witnessed a lot of death in his lifetime. It wasn’t uncommon with his mortal lifestyle and transforming into a Vampire didn’t exactly take him away from that either. There was no emotional attachment to those he had witnessed passed on. He had never grieved. It was only when he met the Sirhan Pack and was pulled into their lifestyle that he felt the risk of losing someone he had created a connection with. That sickening knot in the gut. The tight feeling in the chest that made him feel like his lungs were going to pop. However there was always an opportunity that they could be saved. There was always that chance. As he watched Raven by her brothers side, it was a sight he wasn’t accustomed to. It made him uneasy; unsure of how to react or what to say. The chance was far from prominent. Even by looking at Talon it was clear his final hours were approaching.
[b “She’ll be alright…”] Anton started before catching the shake of the head from Raven, the first sign she was associating with the world around her. He knew better than to dwell too much into the situation that happened. If this was Talon’s moments, there was no need to give the Alpha extra reason to be concerned about everyone else.
[b “You’re right, she’s strong. Both of them are. Hell, I thought I had a rough upbringing but they’ve both encountered more in the last few months than I have in a lifetime.”] Anton admitted, trying to find some silver lining in this situation. With Talon’s every movement Anton had to control his expression to not wince in concern. It looked like everything, even the words he spoke, took an excruciating amount of effort. He almost lost himself staring at the Alpha until Raven started to attend to his wounds. His first instinct was to brush her off, to keep her focused on the task at hand. He could tell however that it was a welcome distraction for her.
[b “Raven - just be careful what you say around Eli. He’s… let’s just say he can get pissed off easily. We don’t need another reason for him to lose both his children again.”] Anton warned Raven as she shot off, but his concern couldn’t last on that for too long. What he was more concerned about was why Talon wanted a one-on-one conversation with him! Their last couple of encounters hadn’t been exactly pleasant. They had agreed-to-disagree on the lighter occasions. Every other time Anton was amazed he had survived Talon’s rage!
When the room was empty apart from the two of them, Anton tucked his hands in his pockets and let the awkward silence fill the air, his eyes focused on Talon. There was no initial comfort. He was standing infant of the dying Alpha, watching his final moments, wondering if this was going to be his last chance for a final explosion.
[b “Being misguided is what I do best Talon. You should know that by now. As for Dustin’s suffering - I fucking know what I decided the moment I left him to chase this miracle cure. I’ve put him through suffering since I met him, but it used to be to watch him decline. This is the first time my misguided actions of suffering and misery can give someone a chance; even if it is slim. As for the war… I did what I had to, to survive. That’s it.”] Anton shrugged off, his eyes falling to the floor as he rolled back and forth on his feet, his hands still tucked away. He wasn’t one to admit the full truth and Talon would be able to see it a mile away. He fought to keep Sirhan alive. He fought because for once in his life he had something to fight for. While he was hiding his own truth, he was wondering were Talon’s was going. Was this the start of praise or the start of what Anton had been expecting from the start?
As Talon ripped his dog tags away from his neck, hanging them in front of him, Anton’s attention was brought back forward. He’d seen them on Pack members and even saw other wolves collecting them from dead Sirhan on the battlefield. The last thing Anton expected was for them to be dropped in his own palm and to hear the words that came out of Talon’s mouth. He was actually inviting him fully into the Pack? Staring at the silver tags in his palm, Anton’s thumb brushed against the engraving, feeling the Sirhan Crest against his own skin.
[b “You had every right to hate Blood-Suckers, and I don’t blame you for thinking even worse for Hybrids. I didn’t exactly make a great first impression. To be honest, it’s still taking me time to adjust to being part Wolf. You don’t have to do this Talon. If it’s because you’re dying or…”] Anton cut himself short, closing his eyes in frustration and taking out a deep breath. He wasn’t meant to say those words, but he couldn’t help his racing mind. He never expected this kind of gesture from the Alpha and he still didn’t think he deserved it.
[b “Sorry… look, I’m far from anything your Pack will ever be but I’ll wear these as a reminder as to why I’m here. I’m good with deals and I made a deal to keep Raven, Dustin, and Lexi safe. You have my word on that.”] Anton promised as he wrapped the chain around his neck and tucked the dog tag beneath his shirt. He still didn’t know if he was making the right decision, but there was something about standing in front of the dying Alpha and hearing his final words that made Anton think it was the right action to take. Just like a little spark of empathy appeared within him.
Lexi’s entire body shivered under her father’s hand as she heard the screams that raced around the house. She knew what she had done would cause him pain, but she could never imagine it to have been on this scale. When they started to walk, her feet resisted against her. It was only with Eli’s hand on her shoulder that she was able to move forward but as they grew closer to the sound, her eyes already welled with tears. It was taking every ounce of strength not to rip herself away from her father and run as far away from those screams as possible! It was selfish. She should not have been feeling the way she was. Lexi should have been running to her brother and yet all the fear instilled into her was telling her to run away!
When they entered the room and she saw her brothers condition with her own eyes however, she looked at her father with pure fear. She could see the pain reflecting from father-to-son. She had caused this. When her father asked her to talk to him, she opened her mouth but no sound came out. What was there to say? That she was still thinking about killing him? That Helena’s orders were screaming through her mind and she should finish it while she could? That moments ago all she wanted to do was abandon him and let him suffer his final moments without his sister? Or did her father actually want her to say that she was also terrified about the cure. She didn’t know if she could go through with it.
There was so much doubt, but as always, the twins had a connection that couldn’t be broken. As Raven announced how long they would have to wait, she stepped forward tentatively and with the same trepidation she placed her hand on top of Dustin’s. With another look to her father to be on standby incase something snapped within her, she gently brushed her thumb across the top of her brothers hand. It was the same as when he used to come home after a night with Anton, unable to move. At least then he wasn’t in so much pain.
[+orange “Hey Dustin. I’m here. Can you hear me?”] Lexi started but her voice was timid. This wasn’t going to work. The only way Dustin used to listen to her was when she held the belief in her voice that he was going to make it. When it was the drugs - it was the belief that he wouldn’t fall into this trap again. It was the belief he hadn’t taken too much. It was the belief that when he woke up, he wouldn’t be any different. Clearing her throat, she squeezed tightly onto her brothers hand, hoping he would sense that she was still fighting for him.
[+orange “I know it seems pointless. It would be easier to let go. I did this to you Dustin but you need to hear me when I say that you need to hold on. I let you down. I betrayed you. I’m not letting you down now. Do you believe me? I’m going to stay right here and fight through this with you if you fight for it too. Dad’s here. He’s not mad at you Dusty. We’re a family but we can’t keep being a family if you let my mistake beat you. We’ve been through this before haven’t we? It was easier then because whatever you took, it made you numb. I know this is hard but you have to keep fighting. Please…”] Lexi spoke, his voice strong but towards the end the tears were freely falling down her face. She wanted to say, “Please don’t let me be the reason you die tonight.”, but it wouldn’t be fair. She’d been selfish enough. It was now her time to do her best to help Dustin survive this. He had to survive this.
[+Green “Lexi, you’re not going to hurt your brother. You know I’d never let you do something you’d regret. But I don’t think I’ll have to stop you. I know you Lexi, as soon as you see your brother in pain, that protective instinct kicks in and you do anything to protect him. You always have. But if you’re really worried, Lexi, then you stay by my side and I’ll help you through this, alright?”] Eli told his daughter, worry creasing his brow as she pleaded with him to keep her in check. He couldn’t imagine a world where Lexi would hurt her own twin, but after what he’d heard about Dustin’s condition, he wouldn’t question her.
[+Green “Alright Anton, take me to my son.”]
Piper agreed to Anton’s orders with a surprising lack of reluctance. Normally the Vampire would be complaining about being sent off like some minion, or gripe about taking orders from the half-blood. But right now, Piper was just happy for the excuse to put as much distance between her and Eli as she could. The older man had never been subtle about the fact that Piper’s life meant little compared to his own children. He turned her so she could keep an eye on the twins, knowing full well that failing to do so would likely get her killed. The fact that Kexi had very nearly died and Dustin was on his death bed as they spoke was reason enough for Piper to get as far from those fatherly fangs as possible!
Piper left the group to scout ahead while Anton led them back to the Sirhan Den. At the site of the approaching vampires many of the Sirhan wolves guarding the den flashed snarls or snapped their teeth at Lexi and Eli, but surprisingly, none of that hostility was cast towards Anton. In fact, the Hybrid could enter the Den without protect and many of the Pack even greeted him with an affirming nod or cast a concerned look at his injuries.
Raven was sitting by her brother’s side, unusually unaware of her surroundings. She was so distracted, she didn’t even heard Anton approach until he spoke. Talon, on the other hand, had sensed the Hybrid as soon as he entered the room and painfully sat up in his cot to address the man.]
[#777766 “Lexi… Raven told me she was alive. Is she going to be alright? She’s a tough kid… but Helena’s merciless. Raven, make sure the girl is welcomed home. She still has a place among Sirhan if she wants it.”] Talon said, trying to force some strength into his voice, but there was only so much his act could cover. It was clear just by looking at the Alpha, his time was limited. That was why, despite her duty to her pack, Raven decided not to tell Talon about Lexi’s crime. She didn’t want her brother dying thinking Lexi was a monster. Turning to Anton, Raven shook her head, telling him not to let slip the truth. She hurried off to grab a few supplies and started to wrap Anton’s wounds as they spoke. She knew they would start to heal on their own once the moon rose, but keeping herself busy at this point was the only way to avoid thinking about the inevitable. By the end of the night, her brother would be dead, and if Dustin didn’t have the strength to survive this, then Talon would die for nothing.
[#777766 “I’ll grant a temporary pass for Eli, if he can save Dustin. But he’s to be supervised at all times in the Den. This pack has suffered enough betrayals for one day. Raven… Bring them in, take them to Dustin. I want a word with Anton.”] Talon insisted. Raven wanted to argue – her big brother was dying and she wanted to spend every moment she could with him. It was only a couple hours before sundown and if Talon went through with his plan, he’d bleed himself dry before the moon rose. Raven didn’t want to miss her last few hours with her brother, but she knew better than to argue. Whatever Talon needed to say to Anton, much have been important.
[b “I’ll be back.”] She promised, more as a reassurance for herself than for her brother. She finished with Anton’s wounds, then gave him a reassuring pat on his shoulder before she retreated out of the medical wing and went to greet their guests. Once she was gone, Talon turned his piercing eyes to Anton.
[#777766 “Raven told me you left the safety of the pack to protect Lexi and give Dustin a reason to live. She said you stopped her from killing the boy and insisted on the cure. That’s loyal… if maybe misguided. The Pup is going to suffer greatly because of your decision. But if you’re right, he’ll live and both his and his sister’s lives will be better for it. You don’t think like a wolf… but you’re starting to think like a pack.”] Talon told him, neither approving, nor disapproving of his actions. He could see the man’s intentions were good – whether it was worth it or not would depend on if the boy survived.
[#777766 “I told you before the Blood Moon that if you fought by our side, I’d ensure the Sirhan Pack would protect you. Since then, it was brought to my attention that I haven’t been very tolerant of Hybrids or Fangs. Trey was so offended by how I treated you as an outsider than he saw fit to betray me. I trusted my fellow wolf and he let me down. But you, a Bloodsucker turned Half-blood… I didn’t trust you at all and you shed as much blood as any Sirhan on that battlefield.”] Talon admitted. He was growing tired. This conversation as wearing him down, but it needed to be said. As much as he hated Trey for his betrayal, the rival Alpha had a point. He was too closed minded. He had been judging Anton based on his kind, not his actions and if it was his last dying act, Talon was determined to fix that. The Alpha used his one arm to tug at a chain around his neck, revealing a set of dogtags that had been previously hidden beneath his shirt. The tags were identical to the ones that Raven, Dustin, and Nana wore, signifying their belonging to the Sirhan Pack. Snapping the chain off his own neck, Talon admiring the unique tags for a moment, memorizing the detailed Sirhan Crest that was stamped into the metal.
[#777766 “If you were any other wolf, then you would have earned your place here a lot time ago. But I’m stubborn, and racist, and too damn proud to admit I was wrong about you. So I’m not going to tell the Pack to protect you; I won’t have to. They protect their own. And as of right now, you’re one of us. It’s your decision of course, but consider this your invitation to the Sirhan pack.”] Talon said, dropping his dogtags into Anton’s hand.
Raven stepped outside to meet Lexi and Eli, seeing the father place a protective hand on his daughter’s shoulder to keep her close in the face of these wolves.
[b “By order of the Alpha, you’re welcomed here in order to save Dustin’s life. No Sirhan Wolf will harm you as long as you don’t harm any of us. Just… brace yourselves. What you’re about to see… it’s not going to be pretty.”] Raven explained, leading the two Vampires into the Den. As soon as they stepped inside, Eli could hear the blood-curdling screams of his young son. The Vampire went even paler as the echoes of his son’s agony shook the walls. He followed the hybrid, gently squeezing his daughter’s shoulder both as a comfort and a reassurance that he was keeping her under control.
After his wounds were treated, Dustin was taken to the privacy of his own room, Eli followed Raven there, shocked as his screams grew even louder once she opened the door to his room. Dustin was lying on the bed, drenched in sweat though his skin was ice cold to the touch – a frightening comparison since wolves normally ran hotter than the average human body temperature. Every vein in his body was dyed black with the poison – even his bright amber eyes were darkened by black streaks, staring wide-eyes at the ceiling without actually seeing anything. His body trembled with uncontrollable tremors and his muscles were wracked with painful spasms. Dustin was still gasping for every breath between his screams as his punctured lung hadn’t yet fully healed. All of his wounds were bandaged, but the boy was clearly still dying a slow and incredibly painful death.
Raven watched as a tortured look crossed Eli’s expression. He kept one hand on his daughter’s shoulder while using the other to reach for his son, brushing the sweaty hair away from Dustin’s pain-filled eyes.
[+green “Dustin? Can you hear me son? You’re going to be ok, Dustin. I’m going to fix this. I’ll fix this, just stay with me son… Dustin? Lexi talk to him. You could always reach him when your mother and I couldn’t.”] Eli pleaded when his attempts to speak to his son were seemingly ignored.
[+green “You, Hybrid! Can you help him? You’ve got what you need for the cure, right? Fix my son! NOW!”] Eli demanded, spurred on by the terror of watching his child die before his eyes.
[b “I can’t, not yet. We’ve only got one shot at the cure, so we have to wait for sunset. Without the healing properties of the full moon, Dustin won’t stand a chance. The mon should be rising in a couple hours. Just stay with him and try to keep him strong until then. And Lexi… I know you don’t want to see him like this, but you have to find a way to stay strong. He won’t survive this without you.”]
[b “I have no fucking doubt that I started all of this Eli! There is a hell of a lot to blame me for but I’m doing everything I can to keep YOUR boy alive. He gave me a chance this week. He gave me a reason to stay on the straight and narrow. When he was bit they were ready to kill him and I begged to keep him alive and dragged myself down here, still bleeding from a war because I wanted to give him a chance. I destroyed your sons life but I’m here because I want a chance for him. So don’t go jumping straight to conclusions with me you son-of-a-bitch - I’m just trying to get you to see that he is waiting for you and this isn’t a matter of risking your daughter to see him. It’s a last chance Eli!”] Anton countered with a sudden turbulent rage. It didn’t carry the same usual anger that the Hybrid spat just to get on his rivals nerves. There was a hidden passion that showed this wasn’t about picking a fight with Eli, it was purely down to trying to save the boys live. Anton had never been responsible for someone so close to death before - at least a responsibility he had burdened so much onto himself with so much care.
Anton was almost glad that Lexi ran to her father when she did. If she hadn’t, it was a close call to the pair clashing. They hadn’t gotten along since their first encounter, and for good reason! Anton couldn’t have expected anything less from the father but he needed some rationale. At least it appeared he had learned from his mistakes with his son.
Lexi was expecting anything apart from those comforting hands wrapping around her. Helena had conditioned her mind so much that she thought her act would earn her a well deserved strike! When Eli first placed his arm around her, she flinched automatically and waited for the pain to happen. Instead she felt his hand press her the back of her head gently, inviting her to be close and to cry if she needed. The only other time she felt that comfort was from her brother. She never expected to feel it from a parent again and the moment it happened, despite all her fear, she felt the first wave of relief she had in a week! She never thought she would feel the loving embrace of her parents ever again and even though this moment was warped with chaos and dread, she didn’t want it to end.
[+orange “You mean it? You really mean we aren’t going to leave him? I’m scared. What if I hurt him again? You have to promise me you won’t let me hurt him again and you’ll do anything to stop me from causing him more pain. Please promise me you won’t be afraid to stop me by any means necessary if I go to hurt him. I don’t want to hurt him again.”] Lexi begged but her eyes were finally lighting up with hope that they had a chance. Once her fathers started discussing negotiations with Anton, she pulled back from his chest but wrapped her hand tightly in his. She didn’t trust herself to leave his side and she certainly didn’t want him to back out of his decision now.
[b “Don’t worry, we’ll make sure it is a clear space. We’ll start heading over and when we get there, I don’t want you to enter until I have spoken with Sirhan.”] Anton promised but his expression tightened with frustration as Eli continued to swear to take his children away after all of this. If there was room to argue against the father, he would. However this wasn’t the time for negotiations. Anton had to agree to whatever would save Dustin’s life.
[b “As you said, I destroyed your families life. I’m in no place to say you can or you can’t take them. Let’s just make sure you have both your children alive and well first.”]
Anton knew they had to hurry back. They already spent hours travelling and negotiating. It would be a miracle if the boy was still alive!
[b “Piper, I’ll head straight to Sirhan with these two. Can you keep your eyes out for the Council or any other dangers and warn us if anything happens.”] Anton asked the young girl before throwing his hood up on his cloak and signalling for the group to start heading out.
He tried to be as quick as he could, still suffering from his own injuries since he didn’t take the time to get them checked after the war. Before they even arrived back at the base, Dustin’s pain filled screams could be heard from a distance. It was a terrifyingly good sign. While the extent of his suffering was enough to make anyone shiver, it showed he was still alive. Anton lifted a hand up to signal for Eli and his daughter to wait until he cleared the way for them. Rushing inside towards the medical wing, Anton’s eyes looked desperately around for Raven only to find her next to her brother.
Anton had heard the Alpha’s howl during the battle but nothing could anticipate him for how close to death Talon actually was. He’d seem him in rough conditions, but never anything like this. There was a lot to take in that short moment. What did it mean for the future of Sirhan? Was there any chance of him pulling through? Anton could also see the concern of his partners face. Anton was never good with comfort and there was no way he could even think of the words to support in this moment, so instead he stuck to his mission at hand.
[b “Raven, Talon… Eli’s here with Lexi. They have agreed to come but we need to make sure Sirhan don’t rip them apart. He’s scared for Lexi’s safety since she…”] Anton started but he wasn’t as stupid to quickly jump into his next words. He gave Raven a look to see if she had told Talon that Lexi was the one who put Dustin in this condition. Either way, it wouldn’t be long before he found out one way or another.
[b “We need to let them in now. Eli has his doubts and if there is any suspicion that either of them are going to get hurt, he’ll drag Lexi away and that will be Dustin’s chances blown. They are outside just waiting to be called in when you’re ready.”]
[+green “You have a lot of nerve Hybrid.”] Eli growled as Anton lectured him about his family. This stranger thought he could come here and tell Eli off for losing his children? What right did he have to question Eli? Especially when he was the Drug Dealer that drove a wedge between Dustin and Eli in the first place!
[+green “You’re the one that got my children into this mess. You pumped Dustin’s veins filled with drugs, you lured him out into the streets each night looking for more of your poison! And after you destroyed my son’s life and created the tension between him and Lexi, you had the nerve to tell me you’d keep my son safe, only to show up a week later with his blood on his sister’s hands! You have NO right to accuse me of failing my son!”] Eli retorted bitterly, looking as if he was seconds away from lashing out at the blood dealing Hybrid until Anton stepped aside, bringing Eli’s attention back to his daughter.
Eli felt his little girl rush into his arms and he held her close, closing his eyes to take in this one, brief, peaceful moment. Eli hadn’t held his children since the day he was taken. That brief contact he had with Lexi in the tunnels was not nearly enough to reassure the father, and he had longed for this contact ever since. Eli had missed this opportunity with his son – he had impulsively thrown the blame at Dustin before even properly welcoming him back! Eli and Dustin had never seen eye to eye, but he loved his son and not showing him that was Eli’s biggest regret. Now, if he didn’t go back to the Den, risk his daughter’s safety, and face the possibility of running into the Council again, Eli might never get the chance to fix his greatest mistake!
Eli wrapped one arm around his daughter while the other one rested on the back of her head, keeping her close as he gently whispered soothingly in her ear.
[+green “It’s alright, Lexi. It’s going to be alright. I’m not going to push you away, not ever. I was wrong to lash out at your brother and I won’t make that mistake with you. And I won’t turn my back on Dustin. But If I go back there, you’re coming with me Lexi. I’m not letting you out of my sight. If there’s a change we can save him, I’ll do whatever it takes… and if not… we own it to Dustin to be at his side, Lexi.”] Eli promised her. His words and voice were strong, but the anguish in the father’s expression was poorly hidden. He tried to be brave for his daughter, but the thought of losing his son, especially after all that’s happened, was torture.
[+green “Alright, I’ll do it. I’ll go back. But Anton, I’m not taking any chances with my daughter’s life. So you better clear the way for us: you get the Sirhan Pack to agree to a truce and you make sure no one from the Council knows we’re coming. And once this is all over, you let me take my children away from this hell. My children will not die for your war, is that clear?”] Eli laid out his conditions. From what he’d heard, both Lexi and Dustin had suffered enough in battles that should never have involved them. They had risked their lives and their freedom for the Sirhan and the Resistance and now, the protective father was going to put an end to that.
When Raven returned to the den with the dying initiate, the Sirhan pack rushed to her aid. Several questioned why Raven hadn’t killed the boy to end his suffering, but she insisted that they were to keep him alive as long as possible. Dustin was taken to the medical ward to be patched up and given oxygen to ease his breathing. With a punctured lung, Dustin felt like he was continuously suffocating, and the fear was bright in his wide eyes. The web of black veins had now stretched across his entire body and every nerve burned with excruciating pain. He had managed to hold in his screams for the first couple hours, but his resolve soon broke and now the entire den echoed with the cries and screams of the dying boy. There was little more the wolves could do for him until the others got back with the cure, so Raven left Dustin in the capable hands of her pack and went to seek her brother.
Talon was lying on a cot in the medical ward. The medics had tried valiantly to get him stable, but the Alpha was in dire shape. After the extensive damage of the shot and Mitch’s violent tearing, the medic’s had no choice but to remove Talon’s arm, leaving the Alpha in a weak and vulnerable state. His side had been ripped into and his strength was waning. Without the moon to heal his wounds, it was a miracle Talon was still alive.
Raven hurried to her brother’s side, taking his hand in hers and casting a worried glance over his condition. But Talon wasn’t concerned with his own predicament. As any good Alpha would, his thoughts were more focused on his Pack.
[#777766 “Dustin?”] He asked, his voice worn and weary. Talon could hear the boy’s screams and could guess the truth even before his sister answered.
[b “He was bitten by a vampire.”] Raven explained, finding no need to tell Talon that the Vampire was Dustin’s own sister.
[#777766 “He’s a Changeling, Raven… He won’t survive a bite like that. Keeping him alive, it’s…”]
[b “Hopeless.”] Raven stated, finishing her brother’s sentence.
[#777766 “Cruel.”] Talon corrected her.
[#777766 “He doesn’t deserve that pain. He’s a good kid that’s already suffered far more than his share in his short life. He deserves peace – a quick, painless death.”]
Raven understood and to some degree, she agreed. She didn’t want to see Dustin writhing in pain nor heard his pitiful screams. But she had promised Anton to keep the boy alive and she wouldn’t go back on her word.
[b “The cure that Nana told us about… Lexi wants to try it on Dustin. They went to track down their father. If they make it back in time…”]
[#776666 “It’s not just his blood you’ll need. You have the Fang that bit Dustin?”] Talon asked, watching Raven nod, but refuse to mention a name.
[#776666 “If he survives until sundown, you take as much blood as you need from me. But you don’t let that boy suffer more than necessary. You take the blood and do the cure the instant the moon rises.”] Talon insisted. He knew the implications as well as Raven did. Of Talon lost any more blood before the moon could heal him, he likely wouldn’t survive. His condition was already critical. It would take hours in the light of the full moon to bring him back to a stable condition, which would mean prolonging Dustin’s suffering and lowering the boy’s chances of survival. Talon wouldn’t allow that. The Initiate had already splits his share of blood for the Sirhan Pack – now it was time for the Pack to shed some blood for him.
[b “He’s a strong kid. He can hold out long enough for you to recover…”]
[#777766 “Even if he could, he shouldn’t have to. Don’t punish the boy for my mistakes in battle Raven. I put my trust in the wrong person, I sealed my own fate the moment I shook hands with Trey. I should have seen him for the traitor he was. If the cost of my lapse in judgement is my life, I’ll pay it. But you promise me that you won’t let Dustin fall for the same lies. Sirhan severs their ties with the Resistance as long as Trey is their Alpha..”] Talon ordered. He was exhausted. The battle and his fatal wounds were draining his strength more and more every hour. He needed all the rest he could get if he was even going to survive until sunset, and then, he would proudly lay down his life for his successor. Talon would die so Dustin would live. He only hoped the boy had something to live for at the end of all of this.
The only comfort Lexi had experienced from the man in front of her was the brief contact they had through a gap in the wall. It was hardly anything to kindle a long lost bond, but in that moment it gave Lexi everything she needed to keep fighting. At least, that was what she thought. It seemed to be a repeating trend in the family. They thought their father was dead, yet he appeared from his grave. Now Lexi had returned to the land of the living; with her revival bringing the possible death to yet another family member. This wasn’t just about someone going missing and no one looking for them. If Dustin died, he was gone. There was no hope it could be another family miracle. It was the comfort of her father that Lexi once needed so desperately to help her through the initial dark times with her family. If it wasn’t him it was Dustin! While she was always there for others, she could only maintain her own sanity if she knew she had the arms of her loved ones to fall into. The time away from her father had created a level of uncertainty. She now knew his past and she was learning the kind of man he was. If he learned the truth, which he would, those comforting arms which she once begged for when her emotions broke could easily turn against her! Lexi knew she deserved it. She deserved the punishment from Helena and she was expecting that torture to transfer to those around her. All Lexi was doing was causing more pain and more heartbreak.
Then Anton said the words she couldn’t bring herself to say. At this point she didn’t know if it was better for someone else to say it! Just as her father staggered backwards with the news, Lexi’s eyes shit tight and she flinched with the memory. Hearing her fathers pained voice was just as agonising as the moment she realised what she had done. This wasn’t just a normal bite. What she had done was more dangerous than your typical attack. It was the most cruel and lethal piece of aggression a Vampire could use against a Wolf! It was so dangerous that Wolve’s for years had tried to keep a secret from the Vampire community for a very good reason. How could her father forgive her now? She had her chance. Anton was no longer keeping hold of her and with everything Piper had done, there was no way the girl would risk anything else. All Lexi had to do was turn around and run. Her father was still weak, so he wouldn’t be able to catch up with her. Maybe it would be better for him? He wouldn’t be burdened by his children anymore. Dustin would die…there was no hope anyway… Lexi, she could just disappear or Helena would hunt her down and finish her off.
It wasn’t that easy. Lexi’s whole body remained frozen and Anton could see the destruction happening between the pair. Lexi was destroying herself with the guilt of her actions and Eli was aching with the pain of the news. With his past dealings with the Vampire he knew Eli could easily explode. If there was any chance of getting Dustin’s father back to him, Anton had to be careful where he tread and what he positioned, even if that meant feeding a few white lies.
[b “It’ll work, but the longer you sit here and discuss it, the more that chance of it working slips. It’s in your hands Eli. Time is ticking away.”] Anton started but he already knew it wouldn’t be enough. He was used to plotting himself and he could see the same look in Eli’s eyes. It would take something bigger to get him to move.
[b “If you don’t go back there Eli, you’ll lose a son and a daughter. You can see Lexi now. You want to know what happened to Dustin when he thought his sister was dead? He shut down. He didn’t give a shit about whether he lived another day. He didn’t eat, hardly slept, didn’t interact. What was the point in him living when his life was already taken away? In that Blood Moon he didn’t even care if his life was taken by another Pack. You think if you don’t go to your sons aid that Lexi will pull through this emotional strain eventually? Look at her! She’s hardly hanging on now! If her brother dies because you decide not to come with us, you’ll lose both children and you’ll be back to being alone.”] Anton pointed out and to prove his point, he side stepped away to get Lexi in his full view. She was still covered in her brothers blood from her lips down, but there was a look in her eyes that was just as broken.
[b “Piper fucked up, but don’t focus on her. Focus on what is important. Your son needs yours and Lexi’s blood. I’m a dealer, I can grab so much blood but I can’t force this! If it wasn’t for Piper she might not have got through to Lexi enough for her to be here. She’s terrified and she needs a father to lead by example - not to be a coward that keeps running. We’ll do whatever it takes. If you want provisions in place for when you and Lexi arrive to stop the Pack from attacking, we can manage that! Piper and I work on deals and she can fix her mistakes. We can make some sort of deal with Sirhan but you can’t just risk the chance of losing your children. You failed your son once. Are you going to fail him again?”]
When Lexi felt herself exposed to her father’s sight when Anton stood out the way, she instantly focused her eyes to the ground and clenched her fists. It wasn’t just her father’s look that was scaring her but now she was having to listen to his words! He was having to believe that she would never normally do this. It was true, she never would - but things had changed. She was still having the thoughts from Helena. What if it became normal for her to want to hurt those she cared about? What if her brother survived and he turned into his wolf form again and all she could see was her next meal! If she couldn’t trust herself, she couldn’t expect her father to even begin to trust her.
Yet, as always with this family, it wasn’t easy to judge how they would react. As her father crouched down, she finally lifted up her gaze to see his inviting arms. As if by instinct, she took off from her feet and ran straight towards him. It wasn’t even the response she expected in herself, but with how broken she was and how much pain she had experienced from Helena, that invitation was impossible to resist. She was so quick she literally crashed into her fathers chest, wrapping her arms tightly around him and sobbing into his shirt. She was still shivering with the pure terror that had taken over her body. There was so much fear consuming the whole girl about herself, her family, about the future, she could barely hold herself still.
[+orange “Then please don’t give up on Dustin! We have to go back to him! I can’t do it on my own. I might run. I might hurt him. I can’t trust myself dad but Anton’s right, we can’t give up on him. If we run away I’m just a bigger monster! Mum would hate me wouldn’t she? I can’t lose him.”] Lexi begged, barely able to pull her head away so her voice could be heard from his shirt. Her hand remained clenched around his shirt, tugging as she pleased her case.
[+orange “You should blame me for what has happened to him. You should blame me for not protecting him and for joining the Council. You should push me away and save him! He’s your boy and I’m the one who has made all the mistakes you accused him of. You can leave me. You can take my blood. Anton can collect it! He needs Piper, she understands him better than me but please, please - don’t leave him to die!”]
[b “Eli, we don’t have much longer. If you don’t make a decision now, it will be too late.”] Anton chipped in. He didn’t want to ruin the family moment, but he had to up the pressure to get the father to decide what he was going to do. With every passing second Anton could feel their chances of saving the changing slipping through their hands.
Seeing his daughter back from the dead, all Eli wanted to do was wrap his protective arms around her and hold her close, needing that connection to know that this was real and that he truly did have his little girl back. When Anton stood in his way, Eli’s expression twisted into one of anger and surprise: how dare he stand between a father and his daughter? How dare he keep Eli from his own child?! Eli’s fist clenched at his side and he opened his mouth for some seething remark until a small, timid voice broke through. Eli froze, his eyes darting back to her daughter. Lexi may have been the agreeable twin, never as vocal or argumentative as her brother, but she was certainly not shy. Eli remembered countless days when the little girl would bite back at him for something he’d said to her brother, always defending the boy and taking any risk to do so. And as much as Eli hated fighting with his children, it usually took Lexi’s perspective to make him see things through. Every time he confronted Dustin, they fought, but with Lexi, she could always talk some sense into him. She was never afraid to speak her mind. To hear her voice as fearful and uncertain as it way stunned the father to his core. Uncurling his fists and nodding to Anton to show he wouldn’t approach without an invitation, Eli peered at his daughter with a worried, yet soothing expression.
[+green “Lexi, sweetheart, its ok. Tell me what happened.”] He said as gently as he could. Before his little girl could explain, Anton stepped in saying the four words that made Eli’s world fall to pieces: [i Your son is dying.]
[+green “Dustin is… He… bitten? But he…”] Eli’s head was reeling. He staggered back a couple steps as if physically struck by the news. He had been so relieved to see Dustin alive, but the news of his sister’s death made him take the boy’s life for granted! All he could see was how Dustin carelessly risked his own safety, stupidly making reckless decisions like turning into a wolf or siding with the Sirhan! The boy was so careless with his own life and that infuriated Eli! But instead of telling him that: instead of explaining to his son that he was only mad because he cared, because he was worried, because he was terrified of losing him… he had insulted the boy, pushed him away, shouted at him for his stupid mistakes. Dusitn was hurting from his sister’s death and Eli just cast him aside! The last thing he ever did was fight with his own son and now… now Dustin was dying and there was no guarantee he could be saved!
The news of his son was devastating enough, but when Lexi finally spoke it only got worse. His daughter had been captured, tortured, forced to feed on wolves that reminded her of her own brother and in the end, she was the one who took that bite. She was the one who murdered her own twin! Eli could imagine how the act of killing your own brother would destroy most people, but for Lexi and Dustin, it was on an entirely different level. Lexi had always been there for her brother. She had always protected him, always looked out for him. If he died by her own fangs, she’d never recover!
Eli turned away from the group, bringing his hands to his mouth in horror of what he just heard. His son was dying by his daughter’s hand! A vampire bite was lethal to Changelings like Dustin – not many vampires knew that fact… or at least they didn’t before Draven’s sick experiments with Raven. But Eli knew. He knew that one small bite could sentence his son to death and that’s why he was so angry with the boy for becoming a wolf! He knew this would happen, he knew there would be nothing he could do to save him! Eli felt his mind split into two tempting, yet unforgiving courses of action:
1) He could bring his daughter back to watch Dustin die, knowing the chances of him surviving were slim to none. No doubt, the last person Dustin wanted to see in his dying moments was his bully of a father who had shouted at him for this exact reason! They would be going back, helpless to stop the inevitable loss, and putting themselves in extreme danger being so close to the Council, not to mention he Pack! Sirhan law stated that a vampire who bit a Sirhan wolf would die by the hands of the Pack. Going back with Anton meant putting his daughter at risk with no guarantee of saving his son!
2) He could take Lexi and run. They could leave this city, leave this heartbreaking life behind them. They’d go where the Council could never find them! Start over in a new country, a new town, a new life! Lexi may never forgive him for leaving Dustin behind, but at least she wouldn’t have to see the suffering she’d caused to her own brother. Sirhan would kill Dustin out of mercy, ending his pain and he’d simply slip away, surrounded by the Pack that loved him, instead of the family he had always fought against.
Both choices would leave the father with a heavy heart and he knew no matter what the choice, he’d never forgive himself. Put his daughter at risk to see his dying son, or abandon his dying son to save his daughter. Eli turned back to the group with a conflicted expression. He tore his eyes away from the devastation on his daughter’s face and stared directly at Anton.
[+green “A vampire bite is lethal to Changelings like Dustin. You’re asking me to put Lexi in danger… to risk losing the child I have for the hopeless chance of saving the child I’ve already lost. I can’t lose them both.”] Eli started, feeling the weight of every word.
[+green “I won’t go back there, I won’t risk my daughter’s life just to watch him die. So you tell me that we can save him. Promise me that my boy will live. Give me your word that going back will save my son’s life and I’ll do it.”] Eli demanded firmly. If he was going to be risking Lexi’s life, he needed to be certain they would bring Dustin back. Eli wouldn’t survive losing them both. With that, Eli’s sharp eyes fell to Piper and the young teen visibly cringed at the intensity of his stare.
[+green “You told me my daughter was dead Lexi. You sparked a fight between me and my son that might very well be the last conversation we ever have. You convinced me to leave Dustin in the hands of a Pack and swore they’d keep him safe, and when I sent you back to watch over him during the Blood Moon, you return with news that he’d dying!”]
[#aa0000 “Eli, I…”]
[+green “Don’t forget what I told you the day I turned you Piper. I’ve given you one second chance, I won’t give you another.”] Eli threatened, his darker side showing as he loomed over the young teen. Eli wasn’t a monster but it was no secret he cared more for his children than anyone else, especially the vampire girl who had caused so much trouble for Lexi and Dustin in the past. He needed her to be willing to die in order to save Lexi and Dustin, and the only way to do that was to ensure she knew she’d be killed either way if she failed them. The day he turned her, he told Piper that if either of his children were killed, whether it was her fault or not, she’d pay for it with her own life. He gave her a pass when Lexi ‘died’ – thankfully, since that turned out to be a lie – but he wouldn’t give her another chance if she failed him again.
Eli’s stern glare melted into a look of concern and compassion when he finally turned his eyes to his daughter.
[+green “Lexi… I know you’d never hurt Dustin. I know you love your brother and there’s no way you’d hurt him intentionally. So I have to believe that whatever happened… you had no control over what you were doing.”] Eli told his daughter crouching down and sitting back on his heels so he could peer up at his daughter in a far less intimidating, more fatherly pose. He reached for his daughter, leaving his arm extended in an invitation without coming any closer. He wouldn’t make that contact if his daughter didn’t want him to, but the offer for affection was there. Eli had always been there to hug his daughter and dry her tears when she was growing up and nothing that had happened would change that.
[+green “I made a mistake Lexi. I blamed your brother for your death. I blamed him for not protecting you, for putting you in danger, for leaving you to the Council… I pushed him away after I lost you, and I ended up losing you both. I won’t make that mistake again. I would do anything to save your brother, but no matter what the outcome, I will never turn my back on you. You’re my little girl, Lexi. I love you. Nothing that’s happened will ever change that.”] Eli told her.
Amber listened to Trey talk about the young Kane boy as if he knew him well. She had been taken long before the twins came into Trey’s life and hadn’t realized the connection he had to the young teenagers. She remembered when Helena brought the boy to her workshop. He was so spirited back then, so bold, so brave… he was terrified, but he still fought her with every ounce of strength he had. It took a full week to break the boy’s spirit – longer than some of the adult wolves that had fallen to the same fate. Amber had watched that boy suffer through every type of torture that she had, but the difference was, Dustin was a child! He couldn’t have been older than 14! Any hope Amber had when the boy escaped was crushed when his twin sister was brought in weeks later. The twins were so young to have gone through so much. It affected Amber deeply and she was a stranger to the two, she couldn’t imagine how it might have affected Trey.
[#336699 “Lexi was brought in about a week ago. Helena told the girl she’d put her through the same horrible experience as her brother, but in the midst of the torture, she also twisted Lexi’s mind. She made her feed on wolves that looked just like her twin, draining them of their blood until they died in her arms. Helena told Lexi how much she failed her brother, crushing her spirit, then twisting it with lies – saying he blamed Lexi for his pain and he wanted her to suffer for it.”] Amber explained. All she wanted to do was comfort the girl back then, but she couldn’t. Her mind was still prisoner to Helena’s commands, and all she could do was cower in her own little cage and prey the girl would be strong enough to escape.
[#336699 “Helena wanted Lexi to kill her brother so that she’d have nothing left to fight for. The boy’s Pack would want her dead, she’d have nowhere else to go… she’d surrender to the Council and become their puppet. The Council needs a Kane. Elijah was a wolf sympathizer, Dustin’s not a vampire, so it comes down to Lexi. If they can control her, they’ll make her part of the Council and teach her to be just as cruel as the rest of them.”] Amber explained. She knew that Helena was desperate for the power of the Council and if she was the one to bring Lexi in line, she’d be welcomed with open arms! She’d have all the power she’d need to order the extinction of the wolves and hybrids and without a Kane to oppose them, the Council would be in full support! No doubt she was looking for the girl now, hunting her down now that Lexi killed her own brother to either end the girl herself or bring her back to the Council.
As Trey returned her hug, Amber felt herself melt into the embrace. It had been so long since she’d felt anything but pain from physical contact but this… this reminder her that she had a pack, a family, a home, and that made all her suffering worthwhile. Amber was hesitant to break the embrace, but the adrenaline was wearing off and her injuries and exhaustion were starting to affect her. Backing up, she wiped the happy tears from her eyes and flashed Trey a smile that was far more typical of the old Amber.
[#336699 “I’m going to get something to eat and check on the others before getting some rest. I was there for two months… Lucy was there for a year and Travis has been with Helena for almost four years. It will take them a long time to recover. We may not be the wolves you remember Trey, but we’re still loyal to the Resistance. Still loyal to you.”] She promised. Amber didn’t know whether they could resist Helena’s spells, but she was confident than no one other than the witch would be able to break her loyalty to her pack. So matter what the outcome: peace, war, life, death… she would be with the Resistance every step of the way.
Lexi hadn’t been exposed to the outside world for over a week. The Blood Moon was different for exposure - she was conditioned to kill and she tried to fulfil her orders. It didn’t seem like she was free from the cage she had been trapped in. Only this was different. Beyond the weeks she was trapped, this was the first time she was exposed to sunlight! It wasn’t until before she was turned that she experienced the hustle and bustle of city life. While Anton had a tight grip on her upper arm to keep her on track, her eyes couldn’t help but widen with the fear of what she was approaching. Simply walking down the street in daylight was reminding her of the time when her family was intact. When they would be together as a family, heading on some sort of adventure. That was ripped apart the day their house was raided, but now Lexi had destroyed any hope of bringing this family back together. She wasn’t convinced meeting her father was the answer. How could she begin to explain that she was the reason Dustin was dying? It would have been better if she really was dead!
Hearing Piper point out the house and how close they were, Lexi suddenly froze in the middle of the path. Some mortals quickly grumbled having to stop in their own tracks, shouting complaints at the girl for stopping their own busy journey, while others simply shoulder barged past. Anton tugged on her arm, shooting her a sharp glance. They didn’t have time to wait and they certainly didn’t have time to risk any human involvement!
[b “Lexi this isn’t the time to question everything. Move!”] Anton hissed, but he could see the concern in the young girls eyes. He could see that she wasn’t ready. In honesty he didn’t think any of them where. Anton didn’t know what to expect with Eli, he wasn’t sure Piper was ready if the father refused to help, and now Lexi was letting those thoughts haunt her!
[b “You need to do this for Dustin. Come on Lex, this isn’t for you!”] Anton reminded and it seemed to be enough. Despite the fear in her eyes and the hesitation, she tentatively took a step forward to the small house on the corner. It was nothing like their former home. They lived a life of luxury - it just showed how much their father had planned.
[b “I’m not exactly the best to tell not to judge Piper. I didn’t have a family, at least not one who cared, so all I can do is judge when I’ve watched a man’s two children suffer while he lives in safety. I said what I had to, to protect Dustin. It’s about time he takes responsibility and running away won’t solve that.”] Anton countered to Piper’s argument and as they approached the house, he took a deep breath to collect his thoughts. He had no idea how this was going to go. He didn’t even know what he was going to say! Whatever happened once that door opened his only mission was to get Eli’s blood. If he had to take drastic action, he wouldn’t hesitate.
Once they all stepped in and Eli appeared around the corner, Lexi bowed her head and tucked herself behind Anton. It probably wasn’t the reaction Eli was expecting! Lexi was never like that as his little girl. She would have been the first to run over for some form of comfort and affection; it would have been the first sign that something had happened and that something had changed with his little girl.
Anton also wasn’t going to make it easy for them to connect. Pulling his hood down he held his arm up towards the approaching vampire as a warning for him to stop in his tracks.
[b “It’s probably best if you don’t get too close to her yet Eli. A lot’s changed and right now she’s still unpredictable.”] Anton explained and as soon as he spoke, Lexi could be heard crying behind the Vampire. She wasn’t ready for this! She wasn’t ready for her father to hate her!
[+orange “I didn’t mean to do it dad…I…she hurt me and…”]
[b “Shh Lexi, I’ll explain. Look, I have to cut to the chase Eli. Your son is dying. He was bit and has Vampire toxin coursing through his body. If you don’t come with us, he won’t stand a chance. So I think since you weren’t there for him before, you could really do with being there for him now.”] Anton cut in but it wasn’t enough. Lexi couldn’t hold her guilt any longer. Anton was avoiding the truth but she couldn’t bare for her father to figure it out on his own. She couldn’t be a coward anymore.
Pulling herself from behind Anton, Lexi took off her cloak. Her skin, just like every other one of Helena’s victims, was covered in scars. Her arms were nervously crossed against her chest, just like she did to protect herself against Helena when she was belittled for her mistakes. Her eyes that was usually crave for contact, stared down at the ground.
[+orange “Helena…she caught me…I was weak and I thought I was doing the right thing. I saw my brother and I just… I thought he was like the other wolves she made me bite. Then I just got so angry and the blade…daddy I didn’t mean to kill him. I just want the thoughts to go away and make it better. Please don’t let my brother die! I didn’t mean it!”] Lexi confessed but there was nothing but fear in her eyes.
[b “Damn it Lexi you didn’t have to… fuck, Eli it doesn’t matter what happened but if you want any reason to keep your family together, you have to come with us! The more time we waste, the more chance we’ll lose Dustin for good. He’s your son! This is your family. Don’t make the same mistake of losing him again.”]
Feeling Amber’s fear resonating through her body made Trey’s blood boil deep down. She was so confident back before everything happened. She was the one who laughed in the face-of-fear and was scared to challenge the status quo. To see her so vulnerable just showed how much the Resistance had failed her. How he had personally failed her. He never should have given up. He should have found a way to help them all escape. At least Amber had a sense of who she once was and there were small glimpses of that showing through. He wouldn’t make the same mistake again: he’d put his life to that.
[+purple “Dustin is powerful when he puts his mind to it, but unfortunately he doesn’t apply himself much. The last I saw of him, he was in mourning but…wait, did you say that Helena was ordering Lexi Kane to murder her brother? So she wasn’t dead? That boy was already broken thinking his sister was dead! If Lexi was hunted to kill him… are you sure? Are you sure it was Lexi Kane and no one else?”] Trey questioned, in shock about the news himself! He was there when Dustin had fallen into a deep depression and he also saw the rippling effects that had on the Pack. It seemed they were all too easy to accept the fate they should have fought against. Trey should have fought to save Amber. Dustin should have continued fighting to see if Lexi was alive.
As he handed her the armband, he wasn’t sure whether she would accept it straight away. The Resistance had changed and she had been through so much. He wouldn’t have blamed her if she wanted to get away from this life. The Resistance weren’t known for making friends and now after their actions in the Blood Moon, they didn’t have any allies to fall back on. They were heading straight for another blood bath if they weren’t careful! Only he never should have doubted. The moment he handed that armband he could see the light in her eyes. He could see that fierce fight coming back. What he didn’t expect was the sudden hug which he was pulled into!
The Resistance weren’t like any other Pack. They were different for many reasons, but also with how they showed their care for each other. It took Trey a few seconds to realise what was going on. After losing Tink and the other wolves, he hadn’t experienced the typical warmth he once had. In fact the Resistance had become a lot colder as they lost more of their own. For once he was grateful and he wrapped his arms around Amber in return, letting a proud smile slip across his face.
[+purple “I’ll have to remember this moment you open your smart arse mouth and try and argue against me! When you are back on your feet, I want you to work with me on our next moves. Whenever you are ready, no rush Amber.”]
Dustin fought valiantly through the fog in his brain. The pain was overwhelming and it made it almost impossible to concentrate on his sister’s words, but if this was the last he’d hear her speak, he was damn well going to fight for it! He could tell she was upset – Lexi always rambled when she was upset – and for some selfish reason that almost made Dustin relieved. If she was upset about him dying than it must mean she still cared about him, right? Maybe she would forgive him after all?
Dustin’s brief spark of hope died when he saw his sister shake her head and wipe away her tears. In his disoriented state he mistook her confusion for rejection. She didn’t forgive him… not that Dustin could blame her. It was that seed of doubt that twisted her next words as well. She wanted him to keep fighting? She didn’t want him to die too soon. Maybe she wanted him to suffer for what he put her through? Dustin was far too weary to argue or plead his case any further. He couldn’t even choke out another answer for her, so instead he let his smile fade and gave a bod of his head to tell her that he would keep his promise. He’d survive as long as he could. If that’s what she wanted, that’s what he’d do. Dustin knew it wouldn’t matter… within a few hours, he’d be gone and Lexi would finally get to live her life free of her burdensome brother.
Before Dustin could comprehend what was going on, his sister’s hand was torn away from his and the boy once again felt alone. He tried to call to her, but all that came out was another cough of blood. A few moments later, Dustin felt himself being lifted into Raven’s arms. The Hybrid had no trouble carrying him. After a week of not eating, the boy was skinny for a 14 year old – hardly a hassle for the strength of a Hybrid. She picked up the boy, bid good luck to her friends and carried him back to the den before the sunrise.
Piper threw her cloak on, pulling up the hoof to protect her from the sun . With a nod to Lexi and Anton, she hurried down the fire escape and led them through the city.
[#aa0000 “Eli’s staying at a safe house on the outskirts of the city. He didn’t want to be anywhere near the Council, but he also didn’t want to leave entirely without his son. I know he doesn’t always act like father-of-the-year, but he does care about Dustin. He just doesn’t always show it.”] Piper explained as they hurried through the city streets. The sun had now risen and the humans were filling the streets, bustling about on their way to work. Piper pushed her way through, not letting anyone slow her down from her goal.
As they neared the edge of the city and the crowds thinned once more, Piper started getting more anxious. She was the one who told Eli that his daughter was dead. Once he found out she lied to him, he’d be furious! Piper subconsciously rubbed the spot on her neck which still hadn’t fully healed since Draven shot that tracker bullet into her throat. Piper hadn’t had a choice, Draven would have killed her and Lexi if she didn’t follow his rules. She did the right thing… not that Eli will care. She’ll be lucky to get through this reunion with her head attached!
[#aa0000 “We’re almost there. See that house on the corner?”] Lexi pointed to a small red-brick house at the end of the street. Eli had purchased the house years ago when it became clear that his family might need to be moved in a hurry. This was meant to be their first stop along the way, filled with supplies, money, a few precious family photos, and a safe place to sleep for a few nights with absolutely no way for the Council to trace them back here. It had certainly served its purpose over the past week as Eli recovered from his years-long imprisonment with the Council.
[#aa0000 “Don’t judge him for hiding, Anton, he needed time to build back his strength about being starved and abandoned in that cell for years. Besides, you were the one who told him to stay away from Dustin. He’s been planning his escape: he was going to take Dustin and leave the country to finally get away from the Council and the Pack, but he’s still a little weary. He was the one who sent me back to keep an eye on Dustin during the Blood Moon. Dammit, Eli’s gonna kill me…”] Piper hissed as they approached the house. Piper took out a key from her pocket and let herself in, announcing her presence as soon as they entered. The house was small but warm, with pictures of Eli, his wife, and the twins on the walls. Eli himself limped out to see who was here, expecting Piper and his son. What a surprise when his eyes fell on his supposedly dead daughter instead.
[#aa0000 “Lexi? Is it…? My god, Lexi! You’re alive?!”] The sheer elation on Eli’s face and the tears that welled in his eyes proved how deeply he cared for his daughter. It had been far too dark to truly see her in that cell, but now he could finally lay eyes on his little girl! Completely ignoring Piper and Anton, Eli strode across the room with his arms extended, desperate to wrap his daughter in a welcomed embrace. He thought he’d never see her again, but here she was: alive! Eli’s mind started racing with dreams he had thought would never be possible. Of reuniting the twins, of being a family once again, of giving his children the life they deserved away from the Council and their bloodlust. Little did he know that none of it would be possible with his son dying, slow and painful, back in the center of the city.
Amber felt the hair on the back of her neck prickle at the sharp edge to her Alpha’s tone. She had clearly overstepped and the thought of risking her place among the pack send the chill of fear down her spine. This was a prime example of how Helena’s torture had conditioned the once bold, spirited wolf. In the past, if Amber spoke a truth her Alphas didn’t want to hear, she’d send that sharp tone right back at them with a jeering comment like [i “Cut the crap, you know I’m right!”] or [“Even Alphas can be wrong sometimes, that’s why you keep people like me around!”]. But those playful and somewhat reckless comments were silenced by Amber’s newly conditioned fear. The last time she had misspoke in front of Helena, the Witch gave her 50 lashes across her back, then nearly drowned her in salt water. Amber shuttered at the memory – the burn of the salt in her bleeding wounds, the sharp sting of the whip, the choking sensation as she screamed beneath the water. The comment had clearly affected Amber, making the girl shy away from Trey as if expecting him to lash out and punish her the way Helena did… or worse, banish her from the pack.
[#336699 “I’m sorry Alpha.”] An instant apology, dropping her gaze and bowing her head in submission… two months had taken their toll on the prisoner.
Even as Trey grabbed Amber’s arm to steady her, the girl could hardly recognize it as a gesture of kindness or concern. It had been a long time before she’d seen much of either. Instead, her body tensed, awaiting the pain she had come to expect. She braced herself for several long moments before daring to shift her eyes back to her Alpha’s, not understanding what he was waiting for. The pain never came. Instead, Trey offered her his own apology and Amber let out a shaky breath, not knowing what to say.
Trey was right, things had changed. The Resistance was not the same hopeful pack that Amber fought alongside months before, Trey were not the same trusting Alpha with hope to unite the species, and Amber was certainly not the stubborn girl that would have stood up to her Alpha if it meant forcing him to see the truth. She wished she could remember what happened, but her time with Helena was nothing more than a few flashes of painful memories. She was vaguely aware of that fight Trey was talking about, enough to know she was there the day that Tink dies. She had been among the wolves that accompanied Helena the day she took Dustin. But the rest of it was unclear. Amber thought she’d heard Trey and the mercy call, pleading for allies. She thought she’d heard the Sirhan Alpha answer the call, but that certainly didn’t fit with what Trey was telling her now. He claimed that Sirhan destroyed their pack and Amber had to believe him.
[#336699 “You blame Sirhan for Tink’s death? For the lives lost to our Pack? Is there really nothing redeemable about them? I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. You heard Talon’s last call as well as I did. He’s dying. His last howl signalled his pack to look to their new Alpha which, from what Helena said, falls to that young pup, right? The son of Elijah Kane?”] Amber cringed at the thought. She remembered the boy suffering through two full weeks of torture at Helena’s hands only to see the boy’s twin sister take his place not long after his escape. Helena hated how that pup embarrassed her and got her into trouble with Draven. She wanted the boy to suffer – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
[#336699 “The boy won’t survive long enough to take his place as Alpha. Helena was going to order Lexi Kane to kill him – poison him with her own fangs. Can you imagine? She tricked that boy into thinking his twin sister was dead for days, then she has the girl kill her own brother. It’s sick.”] Amber explained, not realizing that Trey knew the Kane siblings and had been a big part in protecting them these past few months. Not that it mattered, as Dustin would be dead by nightfall and Lexi would lose her mind with guilt. Without an Alpha, the Sirhan pack would crumble. Amber knew the other packs would be suspicious and untrusting after the Blood Moon, so creating new alliances wouldn’t be easy. She’d hoped the Resistance would still have a connection to the Sirhan, but it appeared that was a lost cause.
Amber wished she had an answer for Trey. She wished she could give him hope to fix things with Sirhan, to build back the alliances that had shattered during the Blood Moon, but if the Sirhan Pack was as cold and biased as Trey described then they wouldn’t make good allies anyway. Amber didn’t want to admit it, but the situation seemed hopeless. That was until Trey retrieved something from his desk that sparked a new, familiar light in Amber’s eyes.
From the very first day Trey and Tink had welcomed Amber into their pack, she had worn that armband with pride. She believed in what they stood for and swore to give her life for their mission. After two months in captivity Amber thought she’d never be able to redeem herself. She thought the Resistance would cast her out as a traitor or turn their backs on her after the horrible things Helena made her do. But here she was watching her Alpha place that armband into her palm.
Amber’s eyes glistened with tears as she slid that armband into its rightful place on her arm. She looked back to her Alpha with a hopeful gleam she thought had died long ago. Before she could stop herself, Amber put her arms around Trey’s neck in a grateful embrace, not caring if it was slightly inappropriate to hug her Alpha, especially when she had not fully proven herself to the pack yet since her return. But Amber couldn’t help it. That symbol of unity, that badge of honour… it was the first sign that maybe things could go back to normal. That maybe she could finally come home.
[#336699 “Whatever you decide Trey – allies or not – I’ll stand by your decision. I’ll fight for the Resistance, no matter what the cost. Thank you… for letting me come home. You have no idea how much this means to me.”]
It was the one thing Lexi resented; she couldn’t change the past. Piper’s words seemed to dig deeper than could have been expected. Lexi had always tried to be in control. She tried to stop her brother from falling into the grasp of addiction. She tried to stop her parents from arguing. When her mother died, she wanted nothing more than to keep her family together. Everything that had fallen apart she couldn’t change, despite all the efforts she made. Everything had led to this. Now she only had herself to blame. She couldn’t even hold her own for a week as Helena’s prisoner. Maybe if she could change the past she would have been stronger for her brother if she knew it would have lead to this. Perhaps she would have even prepared for this moment to break against Helena’s spell! She could have been stronger - not the weak little girl that everyone expected. All Lexi could do now was influence what would happen next but with Dustin’s condition it didn’t even seem like she had control over that!
Feeling her brothers shaking hand in hers, she tightened her grip so desperately just to try and force some strength into him. She had never seen her brother so weak, yet he was smiling at her! She brought him to deaths hands and he was still smiling!
[+orange “Stop it. I-I don’t deserve it Dustin. I-I don’t deserve it…”] She choked out from her own tears, damning everything she had done. It should have been her. Helena should have killed her then at least her brother would have found a reason to survive the war. Eventually he would have made it through and survived. He had so many people who cared about him,
[+orange “Why are you sorry? N-No… I… I didn’t expect you to save me… I’m sorry, I thought I could get dad out and it’d be ok. I didn’t think I’d be caught. I-I just wanted my family together.”] Lexi explained and for the first time she was showing some strength in return! She was breaking through Helena’s thoughts and gaining back her memories. All of this because she took a stupid risk. Though it seemed the typical attitude of the twins was bringing her back! Both of them were trying to take the blame. Both of them were trying to make some sense of why they failed the other. Reaching forward, Lexi gently brushed Dustin’s hair out of his eyes and brushed her hand against the side of his cheek to try and wipe some of the blood away. She wanted to take away the pain but all she could muster was a moment of comfort before her eyes squeezed shut, with Helena’s voice echoing through her mind. If she was caught doing this she’d be tortured for months.
The next question caught her completely by surprise. Dustin was asking for forgiveness? Wiping her tears away, Lexi initially shook her head in confusion. How could he ask for forgiveness when he was dying due to her actions? It should have been her asking for forgiveness! Only she could see the look in his eyes. It was an invitation. If she forgave him, it would give him that freedom to move on peacefully if he died. Lexi looked up to Piper, almost wishing the girl would argue against Dustin and turn the blame on Lexi. She wanted anyone to chip in and explain to Dustin that he had no reason to seek an apology! When nothing but silence came, Lexi looked her brother straight in the eyes and took a deep breath to control her sobbing.
[+orange “Only if you forgive me too. Please keep fighting for me. Don’t give in. Please. Promise me you won’t go without a fight. Promise me!”]
[b “Yeah you’re right I suffered something similar and guess what Raven, I’m still here! I fucking hated my life but with time you gave me a reason to stick around. Are you telling me now I should have died because hey, if we should give up on Dustin then why didn’t we give up on me, eh? We take risks Raven! We break into blood banks, we play with death, we crave the fucking unknown! It’s a risk but let me tell you if that kid was up and kicking and this was his sister, he wouldn’t let us give in so easily as well. We’ve all been through pain, we just know how to fight through it for as long as we can. I’m not saying you have to like the decision Raven but it’s by hypocritical to argue against us. Both of us standing here as Hybrids are living examples that the risk can be worth it.”] Anton countered passionately, his voice carrying the a strong sense of determination. As soon as Raven agreed, Anton nodded to the others and grabbed onto Lexi’s arm and pried her away from her brother. There was no time to be gentle. The sooner they got moving, the better.
Knowing he wouldn’t be able to deal with the journey ahead with all his injuries, Anton grabbed onto his arm and with a sharp twist and a hiss of pain, he popped his dislocated arm back into place. The back of his head was still wet with blood, as was his face, but that was the least of his concerns. His mangled ankle was burning with pain. Ripping his sleeve from his shirt, he bent down and quickly wrapped the exposed wounds from Draven’s bites as tightly as he could. It would have to do for now. Medical attention could be acquired as soon as his mission was complete.
[b “Piper, you’ll take us straight to Eli. Lexi, you’ll listen to what I say and don’t pull any stupid stunts with your father. I don’t want you approaching him or going near him until we’ve come to an agreement, do you understand?”] Anton ordered, keeping Lexi close as he threw on his cloak. If he let Lexi quickly rush towards Eli, then any power to try and talk to the father of the twins would be over. Before Anton started his journey, he turned to Raven and put a firm hand on her shoulder.
[b “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Look after yourself Raven. I don’t know what’s happened out there with Sirhan, but I’ll be back as soon as I can.”] With his final promise he turned to leave the rooftop with Piper and Lexi.
[b “Take us the quickest way Piper. Don’t worry about preparing him for our arrival. The shock factor and keeping him from over thinking is the best way to deal with this. Why wasn’t he out there during the Blood Moon? What has he been hiding away from?”]
Trey’s eyes narrowed sharply at Amber at her words, [i “I’m not the one who’s forgotten…”]. There was a lot that took Trey to argue against any of his Pack, but it was a sore spot to question his allegiance. Trey and Think had fought mercilessly for The Resistance to gain their strengths from outsiders far and wide. They had accepted Vampire’s, Hybrids, and unwanted Pack members from all different backgrounds; Amber being one of them!
[+purple “I’m going to take that as you’re still coming around to your senses and you have forgotten who you just spoken to Amber. I am still your Alpha! Tink may be dead but I founded our mission with her! You’ve been away. Not out of choice, I am aware. Don’t you question my loyalty to our mission again.”] Trey growled but there was a level of uncertainty in his own voice. Perhaps he had gotten lost along the way.
Watching Amber’s transformation, Trey’s protective nature instantly kicked in and he was quick to rest a hand on her arm to help her keep balance. He wasn’t sure how strong she would have been after being trapped in her wolf form for so long. As he watched her change complete, despite their differences in opinion he couldn’t help but show his first warm smile since the war began. This was the friend who he hadn’t seen in so long. While she was outspoken and always willing to challenge his decisions, she was loyal and caring. He never regretted the day he had let her into The Resistance but the day he lost her… he remembered he heartbreak. There was no one to keep him and Tink on the straight and narrow. No one to stand as the middleman between their decision making. As much as he was cautious, he was glad to have her back. He could feel his thumb resting on one of her many new scars and just as quickly as the smile was on his face, it was quick to fall again.
[+purple “And I’ll give my life to make sure you don’t suffer in her hands again. I’m sorry Amber. I never meant to fail you the way I did.”] He swore as he looked her up and down, examining her condition. At least Helena didn’t make her pet’s suffer to the point of extinction. With plenty of rest in the moonlight and organs to feed on, he was sure Amber would get back to full strength.
[+purple “Thing’s are not the same Amber, I keep telling you this! The moment I made an alliance with Sirhan, we lost numbers! We protected Dustin and that was the day Tink died. That Pack is bashed on selfishness and self-destruction and it was only when I mixed with them that I saw how destructive they were. Most of their Pack still fight against Vampire’s and Hybrids. I couldn’t trust them Amber. The Resistance doesn’t take those who stand on the fence. You believe in the same rights for everyone, or you create the problem. That’s what our banner and our cause is about! Tink wouldn’t be dead if it wasn’t for those…”] Trey stopped himself, already feeling his anger building at the mention of that fatal day. When he was with the Sirhan Pack he never took the opportunity to mourn her death - instead he simply distracted himself by trying to protect the Pack he was now seeking to destroy.
[+purple “What do you expect me to do Amber? I just attempted to murder the Alpha of Sirhan and now his brother Shayd has been witness to that. You can’t just expect things to be peaceful now? If you are saying Helena has a weapon to eradicate us all, then we need to plan against that but after a Blood Moon you can’t expect me to go out forming alliances. It’ll be a blood bath for The Resistance!”] Trey challenged but it wasn’t aggressive. Instead his words were inviting Amber to further challenge him. As much as he sometimes hated her blunt honesty, right now he had no one else to rely on for advice. It had been a long time since a member of his own Pack helped him with a decision.
[+purple “I’ll trust you. I know I will Amber. What I want is for you to rest, gain your strength and trust me. I won’t let Helena find you.”] Trey assured her before reaching into his desk and pulling out her armband. It was the same band that every Resistance member wore. It held their emblem with pride. The day Amber went missing, he kept hold of her band, hoping one day she would return just as he did with every member of his Pack who was taken by Helena. Reaching for her hand, he gently wrapped it in her fingers.
[+purple “You’re home now. Welcome back Amber.”]
Hearing the twin mutter away an explanation, Piper whipped around to face Lexi
with rage and blame in her eyes. She opened her mouth to shout at the girl, to curse her for feeding on her own brother, for throwing that knife, for keeping her distance in his dying moments, but the instant she saw the mix of emotions on Lexi’s face, her words died on her lips. Piper knew those emotions as well – the anger, the pain, the guilt, the uncertainty – knowing that you had no choice, still debating whether you would do this any differently if you could. She felt the same way. Piper had played along with Lexi’s scheme back in the sewers that ultimately led to the girl being captured and tortured. She then made a deal with the devil, agreeing to convince Dustin and Eli that their dear Lexi was already dead. She turned father and son against each other and took away Dustin’s only reason for surviving the Blood Moon. Piper was just as guilty as Lexi. She might not have thrown the knife or used her own fangs, but she had made every decision that brought Dustin and Lexi to this rooftop tonight. She knew Dustin’s death was her fault – how could she blame Lexi for feeling the same way?
[#aa0000 “You can’t change the past Lexi, but you can sure as hell keep from screwing up any further. Dustin needs you. Don’t you dare abandon him now!”] Piper hissed trying to keep those treacherous tears that pooled in her eyes from falling as she caught the pitiful sight of Dustin reaching for his twin.
[b “Anton, you know I care about Dustin. He’s like a little brother to me; I’d do anything to make sure he lives to see another day, but this… this is cruel! He’s in so much pain, Anton! He can hardly breathe, he’s terrified… if we keep him alive to suffer it’s for our selfish needs, not for his!”] She argued, but the devastating exchange between the two siblings was enough to make her heart ache.
As Lexi took her brother’s hand, Dustin’s fearful expression eased just slightly. Amidst the coughing and choking for breath, Dustin’s blood-covered lips curled into the ghost of a smile. His hand trembled in his sister’s grasp, but he was able to keep his eyes focused on her instead of fading in and out like they had been moments before. One thing was clear – Dustin’s sister gave him strength. It didn’t matter that she put him here, she was the only one who could pull him through this.
[#ff6622 “L-Le-x…I.. I’m s-s-... s-sorry… Th-thought y-y… y-you were d-d-dead-d… I c-c…I c-couldn’t.. s-sa.. save y-you…”] Dustin struggled through every word, his voice raw and strained, barely louder than a whisper. He didn’t have the breath to speak much more with his punctured lung, but if this was his dying day, Dustin would make sure Lexi understood. Helena was wrong. He didn’t abandon her! He would have done anything to get her back if only he’d known she was alive! His words centred around his own guilt, proving that he could care less about Lexi’s involvement in his death. In fact, if she did hate him, Dustin hoped maybe this would even the score. She’d get rid of her screw-up of a brother and start her life with a clean slate. But as much as he knew he didn’t deserve her forgiveness, Dustin was selfish enough to ask for it. Whether her words were true or a last lie to appease a dying wolf, Dustin longed to hear those words that would give him the peace he needed to pass on.
[#ff6622 “F-for… Forg-give..m-me…?”] He pleaded, still focused solely on his twin, ignoring the rest of the world around him. Raven saw the connection the twins still had, even after everything. She knew that Lexi’s guilt would hit her hard. If Dustin didn’t survive, the girl would never forgive herself. She’d watched guilt and loss drive Dustin to the brink of death and could only assume the same could happen to Lexi. Two young lives destroyed. Maybe Anton was right… maybe some things were worth the pain.
[b “Anton… I don’t take this decision lightly. You suffered through something like this too, remember? And you would have rather died than suffer a few hours of pain and the transformation. For Dustin, it won’t be over that quickly! We’ll have to wait for the moon to rise, that’s 12 hours of unbearable pain! And what if the cure doesn’t work? What if Eli doesn’t give his blood? What if Talon’s too weak to give his? What if this whole thing is a myth?! I’ve never known a single wolf that tried this cure, I don’t even know if it’ll work!”] Raven argued desperately. She didn’t want the boy to die, but it hurt her to think of putting him through all that pain for nothing! She could see the hope in Anton’s eyes, the determination in Piper’s, the grief and pain in Lexi’s, and finally, the fear in Dustin’s – the boy who was far more afraid of dying without his sister’s forgiveness than he was in dying in general! If he lived… if he could patch things up with his sister, if he could have his family and his pack by his side to aid his recovery, would 12 hours of pain be worth it?
[b “Fine, we’ll do what we can to make the cure. I agree, Anton, you need to take Lexi with you. She can convince Eli to help. Besides, if this goes wrong… I have a feeling Lexi’s going to need her father. Piper, if you dare betray them…”]
[#aa0000 “I may be a selfish Bitch Raven, but Dustin’s the only friend I’ve got, I’m not gonna blow his one chance at surviving this. I’ll get Anton and Lexi to Eli, you just make sure you don’t screw up on your end.”] Piper hissed. She gave Dustin’s shoulder a gentle squeeze before hoping to her feet and hurrying to grab the bags he’d dropped at the edge of the roof. Reaching in, she grabbed three stolen Council cloaks that would keep her, Lexi, and Anton safe from the sunlight as they travelled to meet Eli.
Raven knew she had to get Dustin back to the den before sunrise or else she would get burned. She also needed to get the medics to treat his punctured lung and keep him alive and conscious as long as possible. Raven was afraid of what she’d find when she returned home – was Talon alive? Was he ok? How many of her pack had died in the war? Would Shayd be there? Would he be the mindless pet or the brother she remembered? Honestly, Raven wasn’t sure which she was more afraid of!
[b “Good luck and stay safe. And Anton… hurry back. At this rate, Dustin will be lucky to make it until sunset.”]
Amber followed Trey and the rest of the pack back to their base. She could feel the distrust coursing through the group and knew most were recalling recent fights when Amber and the others were forced to attack their own pack! They wouldn’t be welcomed back with open arms, at least until they could prove themselves. Amber expected this, but it didn’t hurt any less. She stayed silent, following her Alpha’s lead as he ordered for Anber and the others to be taken care of and supervised, but something the Alpha stated caught the young wolf’s attention and her ears dropped in a sad, disappointed expression when he uttered the words: [i “remember who you fight for.”]
[#336699 “I’m not the one who’s forgotten…”] She whispered sadly. Trey was right about the Resistance having changed since Tink’s death. There was a time when this pack welcomed all outsiders, offered them safety, unity, and friendship. Now, instead of opening their doors to other packs, Trey was asking her to turn her back on one of the only allies she had in captivity.
Looking around at the rest of her pack, Amber noticed the others transforming into their human forms so they could more easily treat their wounds. The site was mesmerizing to the former captive. Just like Dustin, Amber had been programed to see herself as nothing more than a mindless beast for Helena to control. She had entirely forgotten about her human side. With a nervous glance towards her fellow captives, Amber closed her eyes and focused/ her bones began to crack and her muscles tore painful after two months of staying solely in her wolf form, but the pain was nothing compared to Helena’s daily torture. When she was finished, Amber stood, staring at her own human hands as if they were a foreign sight. Amber had always been rather pale for a wolf, with brown freckles dotting her cheeks and an untameable wave to her red hair. But those features were barely recognizable on the girl that stood before Trey now. Her pale skin was littered with scars, bruises, burns, and cuts both old and new. Her clothes hung loosely on her thinner frame and evidence of lashing welts were visible beneath the thin fabric on her back. Amber had always been spirited and bold, but she now held a timid posture with her arms crossed protectively in front of her and her wary eyes darting anxiously around the room, expecting the pain and fear she had grown accustomed to. But despite her suffering over the past two months, there were some things no amount of torture could change: her blatant honesty.
[#336699 “I’m loyal to the Resistance Trey. You know I’d give my life… I HAVE given my life for this pack.”] Amber flashed back to the day she was captured. The Council had led an attack against the Resistance, trying to punish any Vampire or Hybrid that dared work alongside the wolves. Amber had stayed behind, sacrificing herself to buy time for her wounded pack-mates to escape. She was willing to die that day in order to save her friends – Helena had something far worse than death in mind for Amber.
[#336699 “I will follow any order you give me, I’ll do whatever needs to be done to honour the Resistance. But I think you’re making a mistake. This isn’t about Pack against Pack anymore. This is about the survival of our race. Helena figured out a way to weaponize the vampire venom. I watched her test it on some of the other captives… I’ve never seen a more painful way to die. She plans to kill us all – to eradicate all wolves and hybrids in this entire city. As strong as the Resistance is… we won’t be able to stop this alone.”] Amber admitted. The redhead was always known for her brutal honesty. At times, her candor got her in trouble with those who didn’t like nor want to hear the truth, but there were some that appreciated her “tell it like it is” attitude. Amber was never afraid to speak her mind and even now, when she was terrified of being thrown out of her Pack and to the mercy of the Council, Amber knew the importance of the truth. She would do whatever Trey thought was best, but she’d make sure his decision were made with all the facts.
[#336699 “If you say the other packs are not to be trusted, then I’ll stand by your word, Alpha. I trust you. I hope one day you’ll be able to trust me again too. Until then, I’ll help you in any way that I can. I just… I’m scared. I don’t know what will happen if Helena finds us.”]
Lexi had spent her life battling against her brothers path for self-destruction. She protected him against his own addiction and fought for the nights of withdrawals. She stood up against her parents, even when she knew they were right, just so her brother didn’t feel alone. When they clashed in opinion, she would never find herself drifting away indefinitely. Lexi always found a way to get back to her twin. There was always a way to turn away from the darkness he was approaching on a day-to-day basis. Now in one swift second, with one drastic decision, she had just lead him to that darkness she had spent her life trying to avoid. As soon as she made the decision to listen to Helena’s poisonous words, she was hit with the heavy impact of guilt. Regret. Hatred.
If Lexi hadn’t been in Helena’s captivity she would have been rushing to her brothers side. There would have been no doubt that she would have been crying out for someone to help and taking the place of Piper in this situation. Instead she just stood and stared, frozen in place as she watched her brother fall to the ground with his blood pouring from the multiple wounds she had created. All she wanted was to be by his side and to ease his suffering but the thoughts were crippling her mind. She was taught this was the right decision. It would end both their suffering if she ended his life. Only all she was feeling was crippling pain with the realisation she just killed her brother, with the repelling distress that if she approached him, she would be punished.
It was only with Piper’s intervention that Lexi suddenly snapped out of her daze. Her eyes, glazed over with shock, were forced to react to the situation. It should have been her holding her brother, not Piper! It should have been her finding a way for him to survive! Only she couldn’t move. All she could do was shake her head, the torment of her thoughts showing on her expression.
[+orange “I didn’t mean… she asked me… I couldn’t stop myself and I-I…”]
She couldn’t even find the courage in herself to speak for her actions. She couldn’t even bring herself to ask if Dustin was going to survive!
Anton pulled himself to his feet, almost collapsing as he put pressure down on his mangled ankle but found the strength to limp over to the situation. He knew Piper and Raven would have control with Dustin, so he kept himself behind Lexi. While he wasn’t in the best condition to stop her if she decided to run, he definitely wasn’t going to give her the chance to make it easy. He knew how dangerous Vampire venom was. He saw the effects with Raven and with the combination of the blade dug into his chest, he knew it was going to be slim. The problem with Anton was he swore to keep this kid alive. For one night he promised to keep him in good condition and now Dustin was fighting for his life due to the actions of his own sister! With Raven’s shake of her head, Anton swore under his breath and glared towards his twin sister. How could she just be standing there? If she couldn’t even react to her brothers dying moments, Helena must have really dug deep into the girl!
[b “Raven are you sure about this?”] Anton asked, more for confirmation that she really did think it was hopeless. He was still learning about Wolf culture, so didn’t anticipate the fact that Dustin was a changeling. All Anton could think of was the small chances they had! He was a strategist, he always had a way to sneak himself out of one situation or survive another. Only he could see for himself that the poison was spreading rapidly and the blade was dug in deep. It would need nothing short of a miracle. He was also quick to spot the signs of what Raven was planning to do next. Seeing the exchange of looks between herself and the pup, Anton was ready to dart forward but Piper had beaten him to it! Instead his eyes quickly switched to Lexi, who instead of running to stop it was backing away and preparing to run! Anton was quick and put his strong arm on her shoulder, tightening his grip to keep her in place.
[b “Raven! You don’t put that decision on yourself. We’re a team and you talk to us about it. We can see he’s suffering but whether we like it or not, it’s not always our call. Look, I’m not calling out on the Pack and I know you have ways of doing things but Piper is right. We don’t just give up, when the fuck have we done that? I could have killed you back in the cells but we found a way to survive, so don’t think we won’t be doing the same!”] Anton chipped in, joining in the heated debate. While he and Raven were partners, it certainly didn’t change the fact that he would fight against a decision. It might have been the passion of fulfilling his end of the bargain in terms of keeping Dustin alive, or the fact he was actually starting to form bonds and care; just like Piper he wasn’t prepared to give up on the kid.
Watching Dustin reach out for his sister, Anton gave her a sharp push forward. He didn’t know when the kid’s last moment was going to be, but if Lexi managed to snap out of the state she was in, Anton knew she would be facing a similar fate Dustin’s depression.
[b “Don’t make another mistake Lexi. He’s calling for you.”] Anton urged but it wasn’t just for Lexi’s mental state he was doing this. If there was any reason for Dustin to keep fighting he needed his sister. It was risky. It could give him a reason to let go as well, but it was all hanging on Lexi. How she acted could make or break any chance of time they had.
Lexi was shaking from head to toe. Even as she looked at her brother, seeing his suffering and reaching out towards her, she wanted to run. She didn’t deserve to be next to him and she shouldn’t be. Helena would find out! Only as she watched him opening his mouth, attempting to call her name, something snapped in her expression. The fear and torment of whether she should act on his side, or act against, instead changed into the real distress you would expect from a sibling who just potentially ended her brothers life. The tears built up in her eyes and her lip quivered as she fell to her knees by his side.
[+orange “I…I didn’t want to do it. She’s been telling me things…you know Dustin, you know I wouldn’t want to but… the thoughts…I-I still have them and I can’t…please don’t let me be the reason you die and I… Piper I didn’t…”]
Seeing her brothers hand reach out, Lexi reached forward and let her hand wrap around his. She didn’t dare get too close. The thoughts were still screaming at her to finish her work. To do what Raven was pushed away from finishing. She had already done so much, it wouldn’t take much to end his life…
[b “Piper, I’m on your side with this! I’m not letting the kid die. Not on my watch anyway. Raven, you’re saying we have a chance? It’s a thin chance, but we’ve taken those chances before. Alright, so we have a plan! Dustin is one of us. Piper, you’re going to take me to Eli. I’ve got through to him before. I don’t have time to go back to the base with the rest of the Pack Raven, every second will help but my injuries will be fine. You stay with Dustin. See if you can get to Talon… as for Lexi…”] Anton started, already mastering a plan together but his decision on Lexi seemed to falter. She may have broken through for now, but just like Dustin he didn’t know when Helena’s planted thoughts would take over. It would be risky keeping her with her brother, but if she stayed it could keep giving him that reason to fight.
[b “Eli needs a reason to come. He cares about his daughter still and maybe it might help her come back to her full senses. Raven, I think Lexi should come with me and Piper. This isn’t about making him suffer pain. He’s been through suffering in the hands of people he has trusted all his life. We just don’t give up. You taught me that Raven! It’s easy to give up and we’re all fighters. If the tables were turned and this was me, would you give up? If it was Lexi, would Dustin want her to die. We’ve all suffered before, we need to find a reason to fight. Now we have to make the decision now. If we’re all in agreement we need to move! The sun is rising.”]
[+purple “It’s not about forgiving you Amber. I know those actions weren’t your choice. What is coming, it’s huge. This Blood Moon is just the beginning. We have more enemies and yet we need to rise against our fall. Since the battle of Tink’s death, things are different. I need to make sure you are ready and…”] Trey started to speak but he could see the timid nature of herself and the other wolves. What was he doing? He had been fighting for a cause for so long he was starting to become the kind of Alpha he despised. One of complete control and caution - exactly the wolf Talon was. The wolf he just attempted to murder.
Trey remained silent for the rest of their journey. As they arrived back to base, The Resistance members were already working on treating the wounded and preparing for any counter attack that could happen over the next few days. Just because the war was over it didn’t mean that they could keep their guard down. Some Pack’s would take this opportunity to get their revenge.
[+purple “Get those most affected by Helena to a secure part of the base. They aren’t prisoners! We keep our eyes on them but give them the comfort they need. Show them that this is a safe space.”] Trey ordered, watching the other wolves get escorted before turning back into his human form and approaching Amber. There was so much to tell her and so much to find out. Perhaps he should have been giving her the chance to recover first, but he needed to talk and not fear Helena’s former weapons against the Pack. Amber was once a trusted member of The Resistance, he needed to find out that she still was and that she still wanted to be.
[+purple “Amber I can’t imagine what you have been through. That witch has taken so many of you…you said it was seeing Shayd break through? Shayd will not be our ally. He’ll be our enemy if he pulls through. Sirhan… they weakened us. I know he might have given you the hope to escape that Hell but you have to forget about him and remember who you fight for.”] Trey explained straight off the bat, concerned about any connection Amber might have to the wolf who gave her the hope to get free. If Shayd broke through Helena’s spell and remembered Trey’s attack against his brother, he knew they would be at war. He needed to be sure of Amber’s alliance.
[+purple “I’m not going to let anyone hurt you. You’ll rest here, we’ll feed you, we’ll make sure you are safe. I’ll train you again Amber. I need someone who knows the Pack. Someone who holds it to their heart and I know you once did. Tink was always impressed with you and believed you would hold our values close to your heart. I need a new Beta in my Pack and if you prove to me that you can get past this, we can do great things together. I want to make it right. I don’t want you to fear us Amber. “]
Janessa stared at the extended hand in front of her and hesitated. She knew that her freedom was gone the moment she sealed this deal. Jason would be furious with her, Nico would never forgive her, Keelyn would want to kill her for risking her son, and the Tanners would have lost all respect for their former friend and ally. Janessa would become a servant to the man responsible for leading the entire Organization against Supers. She’d become a tool, a weapon, a pawn in whatever game he was playing, and she’d be powerless to resist his orders. But the alternatives were far worse:
If She backed out on her deal now, then Jason would be the Director’s prisoner forever. The Director may not have used Jason’s full potential yet, but the truth was that Hyperion would be nearly invincible if he was ever wielded as a weapon. He had more abilities at his fingertips then the rest of the team combines, and would have no problem slaughtering every one of them if the Director willed it. What was more frightening than Hyperion’s abilities was the thought of those abilities super charged by the Catalyst! Janessa had seem what those empowered Supers could do, she’d felt that immense strength herself! If the Director ever subjected Jason to the Catalyst, he’d be unstoppable. It was too dangerous to keep Jason a prison here, and frankly, Janessa couldn’t bear the thought of her Alpha suffering a lifetime in this figurative cage. He had suffered enough in his relatively short life, he deserved his freedom and Janessa had enough faith in the man to believe he’d use that freedom for great things.
With consequences aside, Janessa also saw this as a positive play. Jason would be free along with his in depth knowledge of the Organization and the Director. If he partnered with Nico and the others, they’d be powerful enough to take down their enemies – maybe even free Janessa and Jackson in the process! In the meantime, the young boy would be safe under the Director’s protection and his mother would have her hands free to take out her enemies.
With all of this in mind, the Feral took a deep, reaffirming breath as she took the Director’s hand and sealed her fate. Janessa knew the deal had been struck the instant she felt the heavy weight settle on her shoulders – as if the Director’s authority were a physical burden keeping her down. The Feral wondered briefly whether Jason would feel that same burden lifted now that he was free.
[b “As soon as I’m healed, I’ll bring you Jackson.”] She promised, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to kidnap the child while she recovered from surgery. It might take a few days and a lot of pain killers, but Janessa was sure she’d be able to push through the pain and sneak into the base by the end of the week. Keelyn and the others will expect some sort of a betrayal from her, but likely not that soon. She wanted to get in and out with as little confrontation as possible.
[b “Jason’s probably on his way back… will I be able to say goodbye?”]
Raven struggled to hold Anton as Draven’s weight pulled him down, but this was pher partner, her friend, her brother in arms, she wasn’t going to let him fall. Raven cringed at the sound of Anton’s painful cries, but her grip never faltered. She kept her hand clasped around Anton’s wrist until finally, the burden lessoned as Draven fell to his fate. Raven heaved Anton up over the edge of the roof and knelt by his side, having only seconds to heard his warning before her Hybrid ears caught the whoosh of a blade.
[#aa0000 #Stop!”] A voice cried out and in a blur of movement, a new player arrived on the scene. Piper, the young vampire who hadn’t been seen since telling Dustin about his twin’s supposed death, darted across the roof tops to tackle Lexi, just seconds too late to stop the blade. Despite her efforts, the knife cut through the air and struck its target, burying itself in Dustin’s chest.
Dustin, already on his knees, felt the impact of the blade and that choking sensation as his lung collapsed. His eyes shot wide with pain and panic and he turned to his twin sister, hardly able to believe it was her knife – the knife he had just placed in her hand – that now protruded from his chest. Dustin opened his mouth to call to her, but all that came out were choking gasps and a dribble of blood from the internal damage. Dustin reached a shaky hand up towards the hilt of the blade but his strength gave out before he reached it. The pup slid to the side, no longer able to hold himself up on his knees. Before he hit the roof, a surprisingly gentle set of hands grabbed his shoulders and carefully lowered him down to a more restful position. Dustin could hear a familiar voice, but couldn’t make out the words. He was fighting a losing battle against the darkness that was steadily encroaching on his vision.
Piper had tried to intervene. She sprinted for Lexi as soon as she reached the roof and saw the blade in her hand, but she was too late. Dustin now lay in her arms on the roof with a knife imbedded in his chest and a rapidly spreading web of black veins throughout his skin.
[#aa0000 “No, no, no, this isn’t happening…. Lexi, what the hell did you do?!”] Piper hissed, showing real emotion for perhaps the first time since they had met the young vampire. She carefully pulled the blade from Dustin’s chest, hearing a painful wheezing hiss as she did. Piper’s hands clasped over the wound, trying to stop the bleeding and convince herself that it wasn’t as bad as it looked.
As soon as Raven pulled Anton to safety, she hurried to the young initiate’s side harbouring the fleeting hope that Anton was wrong, that maybe Dustin wasn’t bit, that the knife was the only wound he had to deal with. If that were the case, all they had to do was keep him alive through the day, until the next moon could heal him. But as Raven reached the boy and pulled the collar of his shirt down to reveal the torn flesh and deep bite marks at the origin of the black streams, Raven visibly deflated.
[b “It’s ok Dustin. You’re ok. I’ll take care of you.”] She stated with a forced calm in her tone. She looked over at Anton and gave a small shake of her head, letting him know that it wasn’t good. But when Raven’s eyes turned to Lexi… she couldn’t bear to tell the girl that she had just killed her own brother!
[b “Piper, you need to take Lexi and get her out of here. Take her to her father. Tell Eli that his son died a hero, protecting his pack in the Blood Moon. He doesn’t need to know any more than that.”] Raven said as she picked up the blade Piper had just removed from the boy’s chest. Ignoring the confused and frightened look the young vampire gave her, Raven leaned over her initiate and rested a gentle hand on the side of his face.
[b “You fought bravely Dustin. You made Sirhan proud. It’ll be over soon. I’ll make it quick.”] Raven told him in a soft, gentle voice. The boy’s wide eyes found those if his former Beta and gave a brief nod to say he was ready. His eyes then darted around the roof, searching for someone. The Hybrid knew he was looking for his sister – his family. As much as he was a part of the Sirhan Pack, Dustin’s loyalty had always lied with his sister first. Even now at the end, all he wanted was his sister at his side, even despite the fact that it was her venom that coursed through his veins. Raven placed the blade directly over the boy’s heart, ready to plunge the blade into his chest and end his life with one, swift motion – as quickly and painlessly as she could. By now, Piper had let the true meaning of Raven’s words settle in and screamed out in objection, shoving the Hybrid away from her only friend.
[#aa0000 “No! What the hell are you doing?! You’re going to kill him!”]
[b “I’m taking away his pain. You don’t understand, Piper. None of you do. For a Wolf, the pain of vampire venom is unlike anything you’ve ever felt! He’s dying and he will suffer unimaginable pain unless I put him down. Ending this now is the only merciful thing to do.”] Raven explained, only facing more objection from the emotional teenage vampire.
[#aa0000 “No! Dustin’s strong! He’s stronger than you think! He can fight this! You got bit and you turned into a Hybrid! Dustin can do the same!”] Piper hissed. This show of emotion might have seemed like a breach in character for the seemingly detached, manipulative girl, but deep down, Dustin was her only friend. He was kind to her when no one else was, he trusted her, and worst of all, she had been a part of his suffering when she convinced him of his sister’s death! Piper had never wanted to hurt Dustin, she had always thought there’s be time to fix this! But now, her friend was dying in front of her and this Hybrid was trying to take away the only time he had left!
[b “Dustin is strong… that’s the problem. His body will try to fight the venom for as long as it can, but eventually, it will consume him. Dustin is a Changeling. He wasn’t born a Wolf like I was, he doesn’t have the same immunity to venom that I did. He will die Piper. At this rate, it’ll take hours of blinding pain and agony before the virus eventually kills him. I care about Dustin. I don’t want him to suffer. Killing him now will end that pain.”] Raven said in a calm, soothing tone, trying to get the girl – and by extension, Anton and Lexi – to understand. It was the law of the Pack: if a wolf was bitten by a vampire, the pack would put that wolf down as quickly and painlessly as possible, giving them the gift of release.
As they spoke, Dustin continued to struggle for every breath. The venom was torture enough but with a punctured lung Dustin felt like he was drowning in his own blood! That fear of drowning – born from Helena’s torture weeks before – burned brightly in his eyes as Dustin looked around for any relief from the pain. His blurring vision caught sight of his twin sister and again, he opened his mouth to call to her with no success. Dustin reached out a shaky hand towards Lexi, desperate to reach her. He had to make sure she was alright. He needed to know she was safe and that she’d be happy now that he was gone. She escaped from Helena, she was free! Now she could find their father and have that family she had been deprived of since the day the vampires attacked their home.
[#aa0000 “There has to be some other way! Some medicine, or spell, or cure…”] Piper pleaded, seeing only sadness in Raven’s eyes until she mentioned the cure. At the mention of that word, the Hybrid’s eyes instantly filled with conflicted regret and she refocused on the boy choking at her feet.
[#aa0000 “There’s a cure? There is, isn’t there?! Tell me what you need! Dammit Hybrid! Don’t just kill him when there’s a chance at a cure! It’s not up to you whether he lives or dies! If there’s a way we can save him, then tell me! Anton! You owe me, remember? I got you out of that cell, so you owe me a favour! You have to be on my side with this! And Lexi! He’s your brother, are you just going to let him die?! Why won’t you save him!?”] Piper shouted with anger, frustration, and desperation lacing her tone. She watched Raven’s conflicted gaze flicker over to her Partner, then to Lexi, then back to the initiative as he lay dying on the roof.
Raven remembered when she was young, she had asked Nana about the lethal properties of a Vampire bite. The older wolf told her of a cure for the venom, but explained that the cure was so difficult to make, the ingredients so rarely found, and the suffering of the infected so intense, that no one had ever successfully been cured as far as she knew. There was a good chance the cure didn’t even really exist! Raven was tempted to deny Piper’s accusations and to just tell Anton and Lexi that the boy was as good as dead, but lies and secrets were the poison that had brought them here. With so much damage and hurt caused by hidden truths, Raven knew she had to be honest with them. Piper was right about one thing, this really wasn’t her choice. Lexi was Dustin’s last remaining family, so she had the right to decide on Dustin’s behalf.
[b “Nana once told me about a cure made from blood: 1) the blood of the Fang who bit him, 2) the blood of the man who born him, 3) the blood of the wolf who turned him – this blood will purify the bite under the glow of a moon-lit night… Don’t you see? The cure would require blood from Lexi who was conditioned by Helena to want him dead, from Eli who doesn’t care about his son and hasn’t been seen in days, and from Talon who could be… could be dead. Even if we were able to get the blood, the sun is almost up. We’d need to keep Dustin alive and in incredible pain for hours until the sun sets again for us to use the cure. It’s torture! Are you really wanting to put Dustin through that kind of pain, just because you’re not ready to let go?”]
Amber peered up at her Alpha with hopeful eyes, but that glimmer of hope didn’t hide her fear. Her Ears were tilted back, her head was low and submissive and her tail folded between her legs – a posture matched by both of her fellow captives. Lexi had broken after one week with the witch, Dustin completely shattered after two, but these wolves had been at Helena’s mercy for months, even years of constant torment! Amber still had a sliver of her sense of self remaining after her two months in that Hell, but the other wolves couldn’t even speak, didn’t dare to break the mold of Helena’s perfect obedient pets! It would take time – weeks, even months of rehabilitation before the three could put their torment behind them and return to the wolves they used to be. They would never recover completely, there would always be mental scars from their trauma. If these wolves were in this critical condition, one could only imagine how damaged Shayd was after a decade in the witch’s clutches.
When Trey explained his hesitance in trusting the fugitives, Amber’s eyes lit with a flash of fear. If Trey turned them away, the Council would find them! Amber knew that she was only able to break through Helena’s spell because of the power of the Blood Moon. Even then, had she not witnessed Shayd’s rebellion first, she never would have thought freedom was possible! But the young wolf knew that if Helena ever found them again, all it would take was one sharp command and the former captives would be forced to submit. Helena would regain control and everyone who disobeyed her would face merciless punishment. They had nowhere else to go, if Trey didn’t accept them, Amber didn’t know what she’d do!
[#336699 “I know you can’t trust us. We’ve done horrible things… she made us kill other Wolves, hunt down other captives, fight each other for sport… we knew you’d never forgive us. But when Shayd broke the spell and showed us it was possible, we knew we had to try. We can’t go back to her Trey, we can’t be part of what she has planned! Helena… you have no idea what she has in store for us… for all of us. By the time she’s done, there won’t be a wolf of hybrid left alive in this city!”] Amber explained, the terror in her eyes was proof enough that she was telling the truth. Amber allowed Trey’s pack to usher her and the other two away from the battlegrounds and back towards the base. The thought of being locked away again gave her frightening flashbacks to those cramped cages in Helena’s workshop, but she knew that defying her Alpha’s orders now wouldn’t only hurt them in the future. She needed Trey to trust them, to protect them, because if Helena ever got her hands on her runaway pets, there would be no mercy.
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