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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While Lexi found the induction into the Resistance to be overwhelming and frightening, Dustin was grasping for this lifestyle as if it was a lifeline! These past two weeks after losing his sister and leaving his Pack, Dustin had felt so alone and vulnerable, to the point where he didn’t care to live any longer. Now that he had a mission, a purpose, and a place to belong, Dustin clung to that with everything he had! His hand snapped up, catching the armband out of the air with a glimmer of hope in his eyes for the first time since he fought with his sister. Dustin hadn’t felt this honoured since the day Talon welcomed him into the Sirhan Pack!
[#ff6622 “Thank you… I will.”] Dustin promised, tucking the armband safely into his pocket so he wouldn’t lose it in the scuffle. He felt the temptation to slide the band on his arm right away, but he couldn’t make that commitment without first talking to his sister. He hadn’t realized how much his joining the Sirhan had let his sister down and he wasn’t about to sign up for another Pack without understanding her views on the matter. Dustin had never been selfless, but the one person he had always tried to put before himself was his twin sister.
[#ff6622 “Right, I shouldn’t trust these guys, I’d be much smarted to put my trust in the Beta that kicked me out of my Pack and broke my leg, and the Fang who got me hooked on drugs and drove my sister away!”] Dustin retorted, feeling the need to defend the Resistance. They may have held the twins prisoner, threatened them, and forced them into this war, but they also offered a place of belonging, and above all, they helped reunite Dustin with his sister. The pup owed them for that. He was about to snap back at Anton for challenging Trey, when the door burst off its hinges and vampires flooded the briefing room!
Raven bared her fangs and lunged towards one of the Bloodsuckers that reached for the twins. She drew her blade from her belt and clashed with the Fang, just as Anton and Trey had their own fights to handle. Dustin felt a hand grab his shaggy hair and rip him away from his sister. Despite his last meal, the boy was painfully underweight, tired, and unarmed, never mind the fact that he was still just a young teenager against a full grown adult Vampire! He wasn’t able to squirm out of the Leech’s grasp in time as Draven aimed his gun at Lexi.
[#ff6622 “No! Lexi! NO!”] Dustin screamed as the sound of a bullet echoed through the room and blood splattered across the floor. It took several seconds for the boy to even register that it wasn’t his sister that fell, but her saviour. Trey’s agonized shouts and Draven’s cold, merciless threats ignited a burning rage in the young teen’s eyes and with a burst of adrenaline; he was finally able to shake the Vampire that had restrained him. Dustin heard his orders and obeyed without a second thought. He was afraid to think for himself – afraid of what he panic and the grief would do to him – so he gave himself over to following the commands of the Alpha. Dustin fell to Tink’s side, swiftly picking her pocket for the key. Once he had it, Dustin’s fingers curled around his sister’s wrist and he pulled her towards the basement.
Raven was hesitant to follow Trey’s orders, never one to abandon a fight. One glimpse of Draven’s arrogant smirk made the Hybrid want to slash her claws right through his pale face! She wanted Draven dead for everything he did to Anton, everything he put the twins through, and all those endless hours of torture he forced her to suffer. But there was one thing Raven would always prioritize over revenge, and that was the safety of her Pack. Dustin ran with Lexi, but several Vampires chased after them and Raven knew the twins wouldn’t be able to survive a fight like that in their current condition.
[b “Anton, the twins!”] She called out, slashing through her current opponent and trying desperately to cut her way through to Dustin and Lexi. Someone had to stop those vamps or the twins wouldn’t survive!
Dustin reached the basement, acutely aware of the footsteps following behind him. The stench of vampire was thick in the air and Dustin knew the Council would be here in seconds! He pushed ahead of him and wrapped her fingers around the key he stole from Tink. Once the key was in her grasp, he turned and positioned himself between Lexi and the incoming Vampires. Dustin wasn’t strong enough to shift into his Wolf form, giving him a severe disadvantage, especially since one bite from these venomous Fangs could kill him! He was unarmed, worn down, and in the scuffle his injured leg had started bleeding again, only serving as a beacon for the pursuing Vampires. Unless reinforcements came soon, Dustin was going to be ripped apart! But if he couldn’t hold them off long enough for Lexi to find a way out, they would both be dead!
[#ff6622 “Take the key and find the door! You can do this, just like back in the tunnels, remember? You saved us then, you can save us now! Get us out of here Lexi, I’ll buy you some time!”] Dustin promised, baring his teeth at the approaching vamps.
[+orange “And you expect me to change that over night? I don’t know the first thing of being a leader. I don’t even know where I would start. We’ve also got to get me into The Council first and if you think I’m letting everyone risk their lives just so I can get into a position of power, you’re wrong!”] Lexi protested and with the look in her eyes, this was all an immense and overwhelming experience. They had Lexi as a prisoner for multiple days and nights. Now they all wanted to keep her alive, risk everything for a girl they barely knew for a goal which so far was beyond the realms of possibility. They were already surrounded! The Resistance was losing their power.
[+blue “Every great change in history Lexi came from someone stepping out and wanting to make a difference. It takes courage. That’s what The Resistance is about. We’re a group, all with our differences, wanting to make change. You could be that difference.”] Tink spoke up but this wasn’t the time for convincing. Right now was the time to survive.
Trey had his eyes on Dustin. He saw something in the pup. Moments ago he was ready to throw his life away, all because he lost everything. Now something had changed. There was a fight in his eyes and as he started to eat more, Trey read everything he needed to know. He needed someone like that in his Pack. Someone who when they lost everything, would risk their final breath to fight for what they believed in. Even if that was a suicide mission. He also needed someone who when they had the strength, they would continuously put themselves forward to complete their duty. With Dustin’s hesitation, Trey nodded in understanding. He knew better when recruiting to push someone into a decision.
[+purple “Take your time. Use our retreat as an experience. This isn’t a defeat and I do not want you to think of The Resistance as a weak force. You could really make something of yourself, and you’d be by your sisters side. It’s a big responsibility, but when you are ready…”] Reaching for one of the white armbands that all of The Resistance wore, he threw it over to Dustin as an offering.
[+purple “When you are ready, if you decide to join us, just put this on.”]
With Anton and Raven now in front of the group, the sense of urgency only intensified. They were surrounded by enemies and with two extra strangers, Trey and Tink had to make a quick decision whether to kill or trust. When Dustin spoke up, Trey raised his hand to Tink. He may have only known the kid a short amount of time, but if he truly was a Kane then he wouldn’t hesitate to talk about his allies.
[b “Alright kid, so do you really think staying with a bunch of strangers is the best place to be keeping Lexi? How can you trust these guys? You two have really got us in a fucked up position.”] Anton added to Raven’s words but hearing Dustin was considering joining them was a tough call. His usual instincts was to agree with Dustin. The kid could join who he wanted, when he wanted. He did have the right to that freedom! Anton however was saved by Raven. She knew how much Dustin meant to the Sirhan Pack and he knew she wouldn’t want to just give up on him.
[b “Eh, kid - she cares because as much as you decided to run away we still came looking for you! You and your sister might have been idiots bashing heads together, but we survived a lot together. We care! That’s all she means. You might be ready to give up on yourself, but we ain’t mutt.”] It would have been surprising for Raven, Dustin and Lexi to hear! Anton wasn’t the most warming character, and most times his words were laced with sarcasm. He knew how important this was. Dustin looked up to him, he needed to show as much as their twisted past existed, this wasn’t the time to give up.
[+purple “He’ll make his mind up in his own time. His name isn’t Dustin Palmer. It is Dustin Kane.”]
[b “You better back off. He doesn’t even know you!”] Anton snapped back to Trey before the front door fell!
Chaos erupted within seconds. The small and narrow hallways filled with The Resistance and The Council clashing in more hand-to-hand combat. Anton only had seconds before he himself was caught in a fist fight, as well as Trey. The Council were screaming orders, each desperately trying to be the first to get their hands on Lexi. Through the crowd, not even being touched, stood a specific Vampire that Anton, Lexi, Dustin and Raven knew all too well.
[+red “That’s the last time I trust a mutt to do my work.”] Draven spoke, lifting his gun up and aiming it directly at Lexi. As he pulled the trigger, Tink intercepted the bullet but it wasn’t without a cost. The bullet pierced through her skull and her body fell like a rag-doll, inches from Lexi’s feet with the blood pooling around the twins.
Trey, who was in the middle of his own fight, screamed out in grief, anger and pain. Tink was his best friend, his partner and she was gone!
[+red “How many more people are going to die for you Lexi? And Dustin…noticed how a Sirhan didn’t jump to your sisters protection?”] Draven laughed, wanting to draw as much tension as he could between the group.
[+red “Kill them all.”] Draven ordered and it wasn’t long before Council members quickly started to outnumber everyone else in the building.
[+purple “Dustin, Tink’s pocket has an emergency key. Grab it, get to the basement and follow the tunnels to the escape. We’ll hold them off! Anton, Raven, we suggest you follow! Go! Do not let Tink die for nothing!”]
[#ff6622 “Lexi, you were just telling me how jealous you were that I had a pack! People to protect me, to care about me, to make sure I never felt alone. You could have that too! You said you wouldn’t join the Council because of their screwed up values, but you could change all of that!”] Dustin argued back, not understanding his sister’s hesitance. She could fix what was broken within the Vampire society! Why would she not want that?
As Trey addressed him directly, Dustin had to consider the offer. He so desperately wanted to belong to a Pack again, and since he truly believed he’d burnt those bridges with Talon, this might be his only chance! But there were still a couple of things that caused him to hesitate. First, the entire reason he left the Sirhan Pack was because of Lexi. Diving into a new Pack now would only fuel the hostility between the twins. Secondly, even though he had left the Sirhan Pack, Dustin still felt his loyalty belonged with them. Even though Trey’s Pack wasn’t in any direct conflict with Talon’s, it still somehow felt like a betrayal to take on a new Alpha. Dustin was tempted to take the offer, but maybe it was for the best that he gave himself time to think this through?
[#ff6622 “Thank you for the offer Trey. You have no idea how good it is to hear that I don’t have to be alone. But… could I have some time to think it over? I just left my last Pack and things are still really confusing. If it’s ok with you, I’d still like to run with Lexi’s guard. I’ll help in whatever way I can, but I just need some time before I sign on with a new Pack.”] Dustin asked, not sure he was ready to make that commitment just yet. It was a hard offer to turn down, and it would only get harder with time. Werewolves craved that Pack structure; that was why Lone Wolves were so rare! It was instinct to seek out a Pack for safety, company, and security, and the longer Dustin went without the stronger that pull to join a Pack would become. Already the young boy was showing stronger signs of compliance. At Trey’s offer, Dustin took another piece of the kidney he was eating, taking in a little more food in order to build up his strength.
Dustin had just managed to finish the last of the organ before the blood splattered across the room. Following Trey’s order was instinctual for the pup and he grabbed his sister’s wrist to keep her close and protected. Nodding to Trey’s commands, Dustin pulled Lexi behind him baring his teeth towards the window where bullets were flying through. The pup felt useless in here, not able to fight, not able to run, but he knew he had to stay put. He needed to stay close to Lexi in case that last line of defense fell.
Raven followed the tracks, growing increasingly anxious as the boy’s pawprints lead him closer to the Council’s territory, but it was when she saw signs of a struggle that the former Beta curled her lip in anger. Despite the fact that she was no longer Pack Beta and that Dustin was no longer in her charge, she still saw him as her Initiate, her responsibility, and she’d tear the life out of anyone who dared to harm one of hers!
The sound of a bullet caught Raven’s attention seconds too late, and were it not for Anton, she would have learned firsthand whether a bullet to the head could kill a Hybrid! Out of instinct, Raven wanted to change to her wolf form yet again, but with bullets digging into the pavement at her feet, she knew that she couldn’t just bring claws and fangs to a gun fight! Raven let Anton guide her towards the building, preparing herself for a fight if anyone dared to stop them. As soon as they entered, she could smell the familiar scent of her initiate and his sister, meaning whoever took Dustin off the streets was here holding him captive!
Raven let the scent of her initiate lead her towards the briefing room, pausing in shock when the door flew open to reveal both twins among the various members of the Resistance. Dustin was equally shocked to see his former Beta and the Vampire blood dealer bursting in to this so-called [i stronghold].
[#ff6622 “Anton? Raven? What…? I’ll explain later! We need to get ready for an attack! The Council is coming for Lexi! Trey, you can trust these two. They’ve helped us in the past. Anton saved my life before and Raven was my former Beta.”] Dustin explained, not wanting the Resistance to see these two as threats. Although they weren’t entirely looking unthreatening. Raven dropped into a defensive stance with her fists clenched at her sides and her glare focused on Trey. She could sense that he was an Alpha, and the very thought of a rival Alpha giving orders to her Initiate was enough to provoke a loud growl from the feral.
[b “Dustin, what were you thinking coming this close to Council territory? If you and Lexi are in danger, you should have come back to the Pack! The Sirhan Wolves can protect you both!”] Raven told him firmly, not missing the cringe on Dustin’s face when the Pack was mentioned. The poor kid still thought he’d lost his place with Sirhan and the thought of facing Talon after what he’d done was horrifying!
[#ff6622 “I can’t go back. I screwed that up, just like I do with everything else! I don’t belong there anymore Raven! But the Resistance, they can help us and they’ll let me fight for them! Trey even offered for me to join his Pack!”]
[b “You stupid pup! Tell me you didn’t join another Pack!”] Raven hissed, perhaps a little more harshly than intended. For the Vampires in the room it wouldn’t have seemed warranted, but all the Wolves would understand why Raven was concerned. The Alpha of a Pack had authority over all of their Wolves. If Dustin took on an Alpha, that Alpha would have the ability to order him to do anything! The boy was young, frail, and inexperienced; he’d never be able to deny an Alpha’s orders. Which meant that if he did take on a new Alpha, he’d essentially lose his free will! That wasn’t an issue for Alpha’s like Talon who valued the free will of their Pack, and only used his authority when necessary. But Raven didn’t trust any rival Alphas and Dustin had just met Trey. That was a big commitment to someone he hardly knew!
[#ff6622 “Not yet… but why should you care! I’m not your Pack anymore Raven, I can join whatever Alpha I want to!”] Dustin growled back stubbornly. Before the bickering could get too far, the building shook with a loud bang, indicating the attackers had made it to the front door and were trying to force their way inside!
[b “We will talk about this later Dustin. You, Trey was it?”] Raven asked, casting a narrowed, suspicious glance up to the other Alpha.
[b “Dustin Palmer is still a member of Sirhan and still under our Pack’s protection. I’ll fight to keep him safe, but if things get bad, I’ll calling in my Pack. I don’t care if this is your territory, Sirhan will do what we have to in order to protect our Initiate.”]
[+orange “I made up my own mind Dustin! Yes I was jealous but I have always pushed that jealousy aside for you because I knew how good the pack was. Now you’ve wasted that! I got jealous over a lot of things growing up Dustin but I would never expect you to throw it all away for me.”] Lexi knew this argument could go on for hour. The divide between them was growing bigger and neither party was prepared to try and take responsibility. Instead they were both leading down a path of self destruction.
The week leading up to their families death, Lexi completely separated herself from her parents. Her whole focus shifted on Dustin. She tried to follow his every move and she became quite obsessed with his plans. Of course Dustin knew how clingy she becoming and made sure he was prepared when sneaking off in the night. For the entire week Lexi didn’t speak a word to her mother and father. Whenever breakfast was made she would sprint down, grab the bowl and hurry upstairs. At first her mother would shout after her but towards the end, the arguments between her parents increased so much that she didn’t even have time to call her daughter! The last thing Lexi heard was their screams, her fathers pleas and then his final breath. Perhaps the reason she never found out any details was because she never stuck around. Maybe she was even the reason Dustin didn’t come back so quickly. She was always overly-protective and now she was starting to wonder if that was a weakness over a strength.
[+orange “Mum and dad would still love you Dustin. And yeah… let’s just stop.”] Lexi agreed, her voice almost a whisper with her eyes falling down to the ground. He wouldn’t believe her, but Lexi wanted to believe that somehow they were both still looking over their shoulders. When she got lonely, she imaged her parents by her side.
Unlike Dustin, Lexi’s instincts kicked in as soon as she saw the blood. Her savage state was coming close and even if she wanted to fight against it, her body wouldn’t allow her. Vampires worked very differently to Wolves. She didn’t have natural mortal feelings. Starvation only became desperation rather than the sickly feeling Dustin was having. It was an advantage for sure, but Lexi hated the curse. It was the one moment a Vampire didn’t have any control. Once the blood was in her system, she took in her surroundings and immediately seemed her overwhelmed. Lexi was smart, she proved that back in Draven’s torture chamber and she found the escape route! This level of organisation however, especially when targeting the most powerful political party within The Coven was sending her on edge. When her brother spoke up what Trey was trying to portray, she shook her head in her own defence.
[+orange “I can’t just take things over! I never wanted to be involved with The Council! This has to be some sort of joke.”]
[+purple “It’s far from a joke. Dustin is correct. Elijah Kane had the biggest opportunity to truly change things, and we know you share the same beliefs. You could really make change Lexi Kane. Which means you are next in line to take it over. We just have to get you there.”}
[+orange “And what if I don’t want to?”] Lexi argued back but her brother seemed to be jumping in with The Resistance! Surely he must have understood that Lexi had her reservations. This was just jumped on her without any planning, or consideration of what she would even do when if she took over. Even more, she was just a kid!
[+blue “She is our highest priority. Lexi, at all costs, has to be kept safe. Once we’ve retreated we’ll be able to formulate a plan for your future Lexi. Yes Dustin, we do need to get her far away but if you look at our position, we’ve got no strongholds left. If we run, we’ll be running towards open city and trying to find somewhere to survive. That is too risky. It makes Lexi vulnerable.”] Tink explained, pinning more black flags on the model as she listened to her radio. Reports were coming through of The Council getting closer and as they did, distant sound of gunshots started to be heard from within the walls.
[+purple “Dustin, I know a lost wolf when I see one. You do not have a pack, but how would you like to serve under my command? As I said, I am the Alpha for the Wolves and some of the Hybrids here, but during our retreat I’ll be leading Lexi’s guards. You know your sister, we could use your support. If you want to, you need to eat up. I know it’s tough, but you need strength.”] Trey offered but as the gun shots got louder, their time was quickly depleting.
[+orange “Wait, you just expect me to follow along with this? How do I even know you’re telling the truth?”]
[+blue “You’ll have to trust us for now. We don’t have time. They are radioing in Trey, we are being surrounded. We…”] Blood sprayed on Tink’s face as one of the nearby Hybrids in the room was shot from a bullet that penetrated the wall. Screams of pain and orders being barked erupted the building. Time had been cut shorter than Think and Trey had anticipated. Wasting no time, Trey grabbed Dustin by the shoulder and shoved him close to his sister.
[+purple “Your main priority is to keep her safe! If she protests, do anything necessary to get her out of here. You’ve got me on hand and we’ve got to protect Tink as well. Are you ready kid?” ]
[b “Pleasant surprise? Hell, you’re a nuclear weapon against those bastards. Ha! Who knows what other tricks you got up your sleeve. Just remember that’s not a bad thing Raven, use it as a gift. Mitch may know about it, and he may be planning a way around it - but it’s something that is going to help us a lot out here.”] Anton pointed out, wanting her to know the value of everything she discovered. If she was just a wolf and they were out on their own, Mitch would have won that fight!
With the discovery of his prints, Anton wasn’t convinced that all was well. It bought them more time but if Dustin was as injured as Raven was making out, that meant if they did find him it made them more vulnerable. Anton was already weakened and if they were attacked again he wasn’t sure Raven could protect the two alone! Following the tracks, as they got closer to The Council territory even Anton felt uneasy. It had only been a couple of weeks since they last escaped. They weren’t ready to be storming it again! It was a death sentence!
[b “Oh great, I have to convince him? Do you know how stubborn that kid is? I’ll try Raven but you need to stay alert and… shit, shit, shit Raven watch out!”] It was a matter of a split second. Anton tackled Raven to the ground and kept his body shielding hers as bullets ripped through the air above them. If Anton didn’t react when he did, the bullet would have pierced right through Raven’s skull!
They were still out in the open and the number of bullets aiming towards them increased. If they stood up they were open targets! Anton couldn’t even fire back because he was out of ammunition. Looking up he tried to find an escape route, but just as he did two of The Resistance stormed out, firing back towards The Council, giving Anton and Raven enough time to make their run!
[b “Raven, move!”] Anton ordered, standing up from on top of her and grabbing the back of her shirt and tugging it up, hoping to pick up the speed of her movement. Rushing towards the building The Resistance members came from, the scene was a war zone! Bullets broke through the concrete and on the floor lay Vampires screaming out in pain, other victims who had lost limbs and those who had lost their life altogether. People were running in every direction and within the chaos, it was hard to make any sense of the scene.
Anton had his own instincts. He could detect familiar blood and rushing down the corridor he entered the briefing room, seeing Dustin, Lexi, Trey and Tink.
[b “Dustin? Lexi? What the fuck is going on and what the hell are you doing here?”]
Dustin thought back to his last few weeks with his Pack. They were well aware of how much that last fight with his sister had broken him. He didn’t eat, didn’t sleep, neglected his training, and snuck out in the middle of the night only to return with fresh injuries and track marks. Talon had pulled him to the side more than once, warning him to shape of if he wanted to keep his place in the Pack. Unfortunately, that only gave Dustin the bright idea to get himself kicked out! If Lexi was hurt and jealous about his new family, then he’d simply turn his back on them. Why should he have the safety and security of a Pack when she didn’t? He started simple: talking back to his superiors, ditching his training and hunting responsibilities, getting into trouble on the streets. But Talon kept giving him second chances. He knew he had to up his game, so his acts of defiance got more serious. He’d pick fights with Pack mates and steal from his fellow Wolves, pushing the limits of his Pack’s patience until Talon finally confronted him last night. The Alpha told him he wouldn’t give up on Dustin and that he’d do whatever it took to bring the kid back in line, so Dustin knew he had to do something drastic. He lashed out, slashing his claws towards his Alpha’s eye. Dustin felt the warm blood on his hand and ran, not even waiting to see how much damage he did! For all he knew, he had just blinded his own Alpha!
[#ff6622 “They didn’t give up on me easily. It took the better part of two weeks to push them away and even then, I had to… I don’t even know if Talon’s ok. It was the only thing drastic enough for them to kick me out. It doesn’t matter if they cared Lexi, I didn’t deserve that. You were right. I took that happy, safe, secure family from you, I shouldn’t get to have that if you don’t.”] Dustin admitted. He had taken her words to heart that night she ran away. He was already feeling guilty about his parents’ deaths, but he didn’t realize how selfish he was being with the Pack too.
[#ff6622 “Dammit Lexi, can’t you just make up your mind and stick with it? First you wanted me to be safe when I was out in the daylight, so I found a Pack who would protect me and train me how to fight. Then you say you’re jealous of what I have and you hate it when I leave you alone to be with them, so I left the pack and burned those bridges for good. Now you’re saying you don’t want me ruin my back bond? Maybe one of the reasons why I can’t do anything right is because you keep changing your damn mind! It doesn’t matter anymore, it’s too late! I attacked my own Alpha, Lex! If Sirhan ever catches me in their territory again, they’ll kill me!”] Dustin snapped back, just as bitterly as Lexi had. Dustin was the one to blame he was the one at fault and he wasn’t going to argue that. But as the tensions rose and the bond between the twins crumbled, it was becoming more and more evident that there were wounds on both sides.
Dustin winced when his sister reminded him of that last fight he had with his father. The two had a history of bad fights, but that night was easily the worst. He accused his dad of playing favourites – of loving his [i perfect] daughter more than his screwed up son. He said the reason he was so messed up was because he had such a terrible father. He said his mother should have left him years ago, that their family was falling apart, and that if he ended up overdosed in a ditch one night it’d be his dad’s fault. Dustin had regretted those words as soon as he said them, but was far too much of a coward to take them back. Instead, he ran out to bury his grief and guilt with another fix. Dustin never realized that those would be the last words he’d ever say to his father, or that his parents would die thinking that’s how he truly felt!
[#ff6622 “Yeah well, people don’t get a free pass for spitting out words just because they’re angry. Dad’s never going to know that I’m sorry, that I didn’t mean any of it, that I loved him and mom more than anything. I’ll never get to take any of it back and that’s on me! Look can we just… not talk about this anymore?”] Dustin pleaded, feeling his heart ripped to shreds inside his chest. He didn’t want to think about that night, all it did pen those old wounds. He was in enough pain without having to relive the worst day of his young life!
Watching his sister being released put Dustin’s mind a little more at ease. He knew he was too weak to fight his way out, especially against Trey, so he wouldn’t be able to protect her if this came down to blood. But so far it seemed this Resistance was going to keep their word. Dustin followed compliantly to the room and sat when he was invited to. His eyes fell to the fresh organs that were offered and his stomach twisted. He hadn’t had a single bite of food in two weeks and he had since moved far past the point of feeling hungry. Food just didn’t seem appetizing to him any longer. But if he didn’t eat something soon, he’d starve himself, and his body was in desperate need of refuelling if he was going to be able to shift into his Wolf form again. So despite the nauseous feeling in his gut, Dustin reached for a kidney and tore off a tiny piece to chew on. He wasn’t even sure he’d be able to keep it down, but with the eyes of the Resistance as well as his sister on him, he had to at least try to recover some of his strength. In an effort to distract from the knots in his stomach, Dustin immersed himself in the conversation.
[#ff6622 “Wait, so my dad, Elijah, was supposed to take charge of the Council? So with him gone, that means Lexi could take his place, right? She could take over and runt things right?”] Dustin clarified, mostly directing his questions to Trey who, by sheer nature of being a Wolf, Dustin was far more inclined to trust.
[#ff6622 “That explains why someone like Draven would want her dead. So is it even safe for her here? If you’re expecting the Council to attack this stronghold, shouldn’t we get Lexi as far as way from that threat as possible? I mean, I get why I’m here. I’m a Wolf, I’m no good to the Council anyway. But Lex is a target!”] Dustin pointed out, feeling uneasy about his sister being so under protected. If he hadn’t burnt his bridges with Sirhan, he’d be sending Lexi back for the Pack to protect!
[b “Don’t look so shocked Anton. I haven’t been spinning you all of this talk about Pack Loyalty just for the hell of it. It’s the code I live by. You’re my Pack, you get the benefit of the doubt. I just needed to be sure you’d tell me the truth.”] Raven admitted, not seeming at all threatened by the blade in his hand. It wasn’t that she thought he was incapable of hurting her – on the contrary, after two weeks of training and sparing together, Anton was probably the only Vampire alive who knew her fighting stile well enough to get close enough to kill her! – it was more that she trusted he’d never attack her without reason. Him aiming that blade at her was no more threatening than her brother’s brooding growls: there was no actual threat or malice behind it.
[b “I’ll admit, learning that I’ve got venom is a pleasant surprise! I don’t think it’s as deadly as Vampire toxin – those wolfs were in pain, but the poison didn’t spread and fester like a Vamp bite would have. But it definitely helped thin them out.”] Raven smirked in return. She still wasn’t fully accepting of her new fate, but times like these certainly showed that ebing a hybrid wasn’t all bad.
[b “Talon and the Pack have been trying to track the kid. Unfortunately, since Dustin knows exactly what we’re looking for he knows how to cover his tracks.”] Raven explained, but it appeared that luck was on their side. Raven knelt by the lighter pawprint and took a closer look. It was definitely the right size and depth for a wolf of Dustin’s size, and in the pad of one of the prints was a smudge of blood, likely from his injured leg. Raven touched the crimson liquid and rubbed it with her fingertips, taking in the texture and the scent.
[b “It’s him. He’s weak, by the look of his prints. See that? They’re uneven, staggered, not straight… he’s injured and exhausted. At least that will slow him down. We just need to find him before anyone else does.”] Raven noted, getting back to her feet and following the trail. It lead deeper into he city, headed straight for Council territory, until the tracks come to an abrupt stop not far from Draven’s base. There was evidence of another Wolf and the clear scent of a vampire in the area. It looked like there was a scuffle and dragged prints indicating Dustin was taking somewhere against his will.
[b “Dammit Kid… Anton, you see this? Draven might not have the pup, but someone does. Their tracks lead this way. Dustin’s weak and with his mindset he might not have the same drive for survival. When we find him, you need to convince him to fight back. He’ll listen to you. You’re the only one who understands what he’s been through so far.”]
[+orange “Why didn’t I tell you? That’s rich coming from you Dustin. The reason I didn’t say anything was because it was the one thing that kept you on the straight and narrow. I knew you were looked after! It had been years since I saw you follow rules. I just wanted something like that too but Vampires are selfish. It’s not like they have packs hanging around every corner. Not only did you get into a pack, you got into the most powerful pack in the city! It’s been raw Dustin. The last thing I heard was my families screams…I haven’t had comfort from that and the brief moment I got was from Nana but even then Talon made it clear I wasn’t welcome.”] Lexi continued to explain but with the threat of Dustin being pushed away from the pack, her face fell. When Raven threatened to kick him out back in Anton’s apartment, she felt all her anger build up inside. She didn’t want to believe that he’d lost something that was so important to him, even if it meant she had to push aside her own jealousy. She stood up to Raven for her twin. Right now the last thing she wanted to do was act in his defence, but her family bond couldn’t stop her speaking out.
[+orange “The Pack may have their rules Dustin, and you may have crossed the line but do you really think they will give up on you that easily? If they wanted to, you could have been kicked out that night if Raven spoke up. They value you. They care about you. Don’t let my jealousy and your recklessness ruin that.”]
There was still a rift between the two of them. Hearing Dustin talk about how he wanted to die and how he didn’t care about his life made her eyes narrow. She still had the cut on her lip from the night they argued and once again she bit down on it, reopening the wound and letting the crimson liquid paint her mouth.
[+orange “Remember the night you argued with dad and you ran away? Do you still believe in all those feelings you said in that moment? Do you think he is the worst dad in the world and do you think he should still leave mum? You said everything that night Dustin but now I see the regret in your eyes! I am still angry. I am still hurt. How is putting yourself at risk going to fix anything? You didn’t kill our parents. A Vampire who is starting to terrorise us ruined our lives. You didn’t help but even if you spoke up, I’m starting to wonder if we would have gotten far. He has eyes everywhere. You die, then everything that has happened has been for nothing.”]
Seeing him in pain and so defeated was the last sight Lexi wanted to see. She had planned in her mind for so long that she wouldn’t encounter him again and he’d live his life. She even dreamed he would become the next Alpha one day! Lexi knew she crossed her own line in how much she hurt him, but she still had her own feelings. They hadn’t recovered and were still left with scars which would stay marked on her emotions for a life time. Yet watching her brother she felt the same dread every time she found him injured, which over the years was a reoccurring matter.
[+blue “We hardly attacked you. We made sure you wouldn’t attack us. We chained you up to do our security checks. Trey told you, we would not hurt you so long as you complied. We have a lot to discuss. We’ll unchain you both and bring you to our briefing room. There you will be fed. We don’t have much time. What you see here is of utmost secrecy. If you want these demands, we expect you to follow ours.”] Tink ordered as she unlocked the cell doors. Trey took hold of Dustin and Think escorted Lexi out of the prison. Taking them upstairs they were lead into a large room. In the centre was a table with a improvised model of the city. There was black and red flags on some buildings, all of which seemed to surround one building with a small white and black flag. Around the larger table was a collection of chairs and already by their side was blood packs and a bucket of fresh organs waiting for the twins.
[+blue “Take a seat. Eat up. Trey, I think you should start.”] Tink ordered, placing her hands on the table in front of them and looking down at their position. Trey stepped forward, taking a more comforting approach. He gestured to the twins to sit down with a warming smile on his face. He needed them to relax. They had their differences but what was about to be revealed required them both to focus and be sharp.
[+purple “This was out territory outside of mortal borders. You can see The Council building, followed by these long streets. They originally occupied all of these buildings. For the last few years The Resistance, us, have been trying to gain access and take over. At first we were successful, but over the last few weeks we have lost a lot of soldiers. Our wolves, outcasts from packs, have been shot with bullets laced with Vampire poison. They were our brute strength, while our Vampires like Tink, were the brains of the operation. We even have Hybrids here. I am the Alpha of the wolves for The Resistance. With all of these attacks we have lost too many and we’ve had to withdraw. All these black flags are The Council’s takeover and this one last white flag, is our last stronghold.”] Trey started to explain as he circled the table, pointing out everything he was explaining with precision. Tink was nodding along but her eyes didn’t leave the model. It was as if she was planning, trying to somehow desperately see an escape from their current situation.
[+purple “We have wanted to take down The Council for years. They lost their morals decades ago when Elijah Kane was supposed to take over. Only he never did. We thought the family was lost a long time ago, only here we are. Right now we are looking at two direct heirs. You could be our success. We’ve done our research, we know some of The Council want you dead and to finish off the job, but you two could be our biggest weapon.”] Trey finalised as he stood by Tink’s side, giving the twins a moment to take all the information in. Tink however wasn’t so kind.
[+blue “We do not have much time. While you two will be the key for The Resistance and to make true change in our society. We expect an imminent attack on this building from The Council. We have been trapped here and we believe Councillor Draven is bringing the attack forward. I heard a rumour the both of you escaped him once. You’ll be helping us escape again.”]
[b “You…you what? You believe me?”] Anton asked, not immediately relaxing when she first spoke. He thought this was some sort of test. His entire backstory had been one of reading trust and knowing that no one would ever trust him. Even when he told the truth, it would often result in an attack. He had more scars than the track marks on his arms. There was evidence from the life he lived across his body. So when Raven backed down and turned into her human form, Anton was still frozen with the knife pointed towards her. He was waiting for it. Maybe she was waiting for him to relax so she could get in an easy attack. Maybe she didn’t want the fight to be over so quickly. Only Anton was a good judge of character. He could see the relief in her own eyes. Ever so slowly, he lowered his own blade, with his cocky grin returning to his face.
[b “Aiming the gun at you? Raven a wolf was about to rip your fucking throat out from behind you! Though you didn’t need me, did you? You put up one hell of a fight! We’ve been in some really messes but damn, I haven’t ever seen you fight like that! Who says being a Hybrid is a curse.”] Anton cheered at her actions and as she tossed him the blood, he was grateful. He didn’t do the best at defending himself. He was used to fighting other Vamps, so he still had a lot to learn in terms of defence against Packs.
[b “That means if he has planned this, he knows we’re alive. You know he won’t want it to stay that way for long. Maybe he thinks if he takes us out first, it’ll be easier to take out Lexi and Dustin. Only that doesn’t make any sense. Surely he knows those two are at each others throats at the moment and haven’t been with us for weeks? No…no I don’t think Draven has them. He’d be fucking with us much more if he did. Mitch is nothing - just a shit weapon to buy him sone time. That means Lexi is still out there, or she’s dead. Same with Dustin. We have to find them as quickly as possible. Can you not track Dustin’s scent?”] Anton asked as he finished drinking the blood. The wounds on his shoulder and chest had closed over, but the fracture would take some time to heal.
Standing up straight, Anton observed their surroundings. They were too out in the open, easily readying themselves up for another attack. They had to start moving and coming up with a clear plan.
[b “Wait, do you see that Raven? Paw prints but not yours. They look too light. Do you recognise them to be Dustin’s? Or is it just one of Mitch’s Pack?”] Anton asked, noticing it wasn’t following the same direction as Mitch and the rest off the pack retreated in. Instead it seemed to be heading towards The Council’s territory.
[b “I swear if it is, that kids getting himself in a world full of shit. Raven, I’m not a strong fighter and I may not be the smartest but we have to act quickly. Whatever they are heading towards, if it is Dustin’s we need to get there. In his state of mind he could be getting into any sort of trouble.”]
[#ff6622 “I know you didn’t mean to hurt me, Lexi, that’s why I never told you. I didn’t want you to know what it felt like to have the blood of your family on your hands.”] Dustin muttered, his voice growing a little softer as the cold, chilling voice of his sister gave way to a far more timid and familiar tone. He wished she understood. That night when she attacked, he was terrified of her! Scared, in pain, traumatized over the loss of his parents, swimming in guilt over the mistakes he had made, and the true fear that his sister had turned into a monster… but all of that was shoved aside after she satisfied her thirst and started regaining control. She looked so scared, so lost, and Dustin couldn’t bear to and more grief to her shoulders. So he lied: about the bite, about the vampires from the alley, about their father, and his own part to play in all of this. If he had to shoulder all of that guilt, to bury it away and have it eat at him from the inside out, so be it. At least his sister wouldn’t suffer. Now that the truth was coming out and Dustin could hear firsthand the tremor in his sister’s voice, he wondered if maybe she would have been better off if he had just kept lying!
As Lexi moved on to talk about her jealously and dully explain how alone she felt, it only added to the guilt Dustin felt. There hadn’t been much good in his life since the day he’d met those Vampires, but meeting the pack was one of the precious silver linings he clung to. This as a group that genuinely cared about him, that recognized his strengths and his talents, that didn’t just compare him to his perfect sister. This was a group that welcomed him, that was proud of him, that made him feel like he was worth something! But none of that made up for the fact that his sister felt abandoned. Gaining the pack wasn’t worth losing his sister, no matter how much he loved being a Sirhan Wolf.
[#ff6622 “Then why didn’t you tell me?! If it bothered you that much, why didn’t you say something! Dammit Lexi, you know I would have given anything for you! I would have turned my back on the Pack in a heartbeat if I knew you were feeling alone! No… No, I should have known. I should have known I couldn’t have something that good in my life without it stabbing me in the back down the road. I should have ran the instant Talon offered for me to join them. Well, at least you don’t have to be jealous anymore. I attacked Talon. The pack won’t forgive me for that.”] Dustin responded, mentally cursing himself for being so blind. He should have known the Pack was too good to be true. When had anything good ever fallen into Dustin’s grasp without making him pay for it later on?
[#ff6622 “No Lexi! I don’t want to die because you left! I want to die because I killed our mom and dad! I want to die because I had over a year to warn them, but I was too fucking drugged up to know what I saw was real! I have wanted to die since the day I staggered home to that blood-covered house and the only reason I held on was because you needed me! But now? You said you shouldn’t have looked for me! You said you’d never forgive me! You said you… you said you hated me Lexi! You obviously don’t need me anymore! You leaving didn’t give me a reason to die Lex, it just took away the only damn thing I was bothering to live for!”] This time Dustin couldn’t hold back any longer. He shot to his feel, feeling the painful stretch of his injured leg, and he gripped the bars of his cell so tight his knuckles lost their colour. He stared back at his sister, biting back the tears that threatened to fall, but keeping his expression open so she’d see nothing but the truth in his eyes. Consequentially, it also allowed Dustin to see the truth in hers.
When Lexi practically begged him not to die, Dustin released a slow, defeated sigh. It seemed unfair: she was asking so much, but wasn’t willing to give him anything in return. No forgiveness, no understanding… she still hated him; still blamed him for what he did, but she wasn’t willing to release him just yet. Dustin took a long look into his sister’s eyes, seeing the same scared, lost little girl he comforted in the part the day she turned. Once again, he shoved back his grief and gave Lexi what she needed to hear.
[#ff6622 “Ok… you win.”] He muttered, dropping his gaze once again and leaning back against the wall, completely exhausted from their fight. Dustin hardly got more than a few seconds of rest before the doors opened and his captors walked in.
The offer was tempting: Dustin wanted nothing more than to spit in Tink’s face and laugh as they dragged him off to whatever fate they had planned for him, but one glance at his sister reminded him of her request. She wanted him to live, so Dustin didn’t have much of a choice. Of course, Dustin was never one to make things easy. He pushed himself off the wall and crossed his arms over his chest in defiance.
[#ff6622 “You want trust? You attack me, chain me up, and toss me in a cell across from my half-starved sister, and you expect me to trust you? Not until I see some good faith.”] Dustin bartered. Lexi was just going to have to forgive this bit of recklessness, because the one things Dustin refused to budge on was the safety and wellbeing of his sister.
[#ff6622 “Him and me, we’re Wolves…”] Dustin said, referring to Trey. [#ff6622 “… so he can tell you that as a Wolf, loyalty is everything to me. If you want me to be your soldier in this fight, fine. I’ll do it. But first, I want to see my sister fed. Real blood, none of this half-rotten crap! And I want to see her treated like an ally, not a prisoner. Those are my terms.”] Dustin stated firmly. His requests weren’t exactly unreasonable and in his mind, Tink needed to prove she could be trusted before Dustin gave her any cooperation.
[b “Don’t be a smart ass Anton, just answer the questions.”] Raven growled, frustrated by his own hissing. Anton had the nerve to call her out on suspecting him, but so far, all the evidence pointed to him as a threat! She wasn’t condemning him, just demanding straight answers. Raven would expect nothing less from him if their places were reversed.
One would think that admitting to dealing with the rivals and taking the phone would have made Raven even more hostile, but that honesty was the best thing Anton could have done. Why would he tell he admit to something as damning as that only to lie about the actual betrayal? Why not just lie about the whole thing? But words alone wouldn’t cut it. Raven was watching Anton closely, using every one of her heightened senses to its fullest potential. Liars, even the really great ones, gave off signs when they lied: small flashes of micro expressions, the smell of sweaty palms, the taste of fear on the air, the subtly sounds of shifting feet and fidgeting hands, the general feeling of unease – all signs a Wolf could pick up on, and none of which were present here. Anton wasn’t lying and more importantly, he wasn’t a traitor.
[b “Relax Anton, I believe you.”] Raven said finally, backing down from her threatening pose. She felt back a few paces before shifting back into her human form. Without the fur to hide them, several bites and scratches were visible over Raven’s exposed skin, but none as severe as Anton’s. Overall, it seemed the Hybrid faired quite well in that fight. Although, Raven knew that was only because she caught Mitch unprepared. He was a smarter adversary than most gave him credit for, and she had no doubt he’d be back with a way to even the field.
[b “With Wolves, loyalty is instincts. That’s not the case for Vampires. I had to be sure. And you have to admit, the shifty scene at the boarding house, the accusations from Mitch, you aiming a gun at me in the middle of the fight? Not exactly reassuring behaviour, Anton.”] Raven told him, feeling a little defensive as he called her own trust into question. As a peace offering, Raven took the extra blood pouch from her belt and tossed it to Anton, figuring he might need a pick-me-up after that messy brawl.
[b “Mitch said he got a call from you. You said you lost the phone weeks ago after you rescued me. You must have dropped it back in that cell… Who do we know that would have access to that phone, a motive to break up out partnership, a reason to want you dead, and would be able to tell Mitch about what I am?”] Raven stated, laying it all out as the pieces fit together, There was only one in her mind that would have all of that information: Draven.
[b “Draven must be watching the Sirhan’s borders. How else would he know we left the territory? But if he was watching us, maybe he was watching Dustin too? You said Lexi’s a pretty big deal with the Council, and since she’d a vampire now, she’s incredibly important. We probably would have heard if the Council found Lexi. But Dustin’s a Wolf; he has no power in the vampire community; no value unless he was used to get to his sister. You don’t think Draven would have captured the Kid, do you?”] Raven asked out of concern for her packmate, not realizing that Draven’s men were watching intently from the shadows. If Draven hadn’t thought of it already, Raven had just given an excellent plan of attack. If the Council could get their hands on Dustin, Lexi would come right to them!
Lexi would never forget the moment she woke up after her transformation. She remembered how cold her skin felt as she lifted her hand against her head, trying to steady herself as she lifted herself up. She remembered trying to take her first breath, only for her lungs to betray her. Then she remembered looking into Dustin’s eyes. Her gut feeling sank in. Something went wrong and she could never tell exactly what it was, but he looked in pain. Of course he reassured her it was nothing, yet as Dustin spoke those words the images of that night became clear. Instantly Lexi’s face fell. It went from the stubborn look of betrayal, to hurt. In fact in her very eyes was the same look Dustin gave her the night he told her the truth about their past! All this time the one thing that Lexi held onto was the fact she didn’t hurt her brother that night. He even kept that from her.
[+orange “I…I…I didn’t…I didn’t have a choice Dustin! I’d never want to hurt you like that.”]
Lexi looked down at her hands and saw the blood in her fingernails. Turning savage, just like most, was her biggest fear. She knew the deviation it could cause and over the last few weeks her body had been pushed to its limits! There was a reason she was chained to the wall - even strangers knew how dangerous she could be.
[+orange “I never wanted that Dustin. I always tried to look after you, not hurt you.”] Lexi replied, her voice more timid. For a small moment, Dustin got a glimpse of the sister he would have known.
With the silence that followed Lexi watched Dustin closely. She knew him too well, even with the weeks that separated them. She had only ever seen Dustin cry once and it was the first night he was sober after his first hit. She saw the look of regret in his eyes and this was no different. He was still the same twin brother she had grown up with. Too proud to show his emotions and too self-hating to let it stop. When he looked up with anger, Lexi was ready to interject and cut him down before he had the chance! For once Dustin had beaten her to it and with his own self-destructing comments, Lexi scoffed.
[+orange “Well you made sure I didn’t kill you, as you clearly pointed out, just so I didn’t have to live with the guilt. You saved Anton despite him being the guy who completely ruined our lives. You risked your life to save Raven. Look at your fucking leg you idiot! You haven’t even fully recovered because you took a risk!”] Lexi growled back, getting frustrated with her brothers self-pity.
[+orange “Yeah I was jealous Dustin! Have you stopped to think why? I lost my entire family and the only person I had left was you! If I joined The Council I would have hated myself and there were no other Vampires quick to snatch me up. So I was alone. I was alone out in the city with no one to talk to. Sometimes it was days Dustin! You’re wrong about me. I was proud. I was so proud that you kicked your old habit and you found a family who you would clean yourself up for just to make them proud. I’m sorry I was lonely Dustin but while you had them, I had no one while you were away! I grew up in a home were my mother and father and my brother, before you were a junkie, was always there for me! Why do you think I constantly chased after you Dustin? Every time I got high I wanted you home because despite your mistakes I needed you next to me. Look at us! We’re broken! Now you want to die, all because I left you and got angry? Well that’s rich Dustin, real rich - coming from the boy who left my every night!”] Lexi couldn’t hold back her anger and this time her own tears were brimming against her eyes. She hated her jealousy. She wished she could have hidden it better but she knew towards the end, with the argument, it would have been more than obvious.
[+orange “What I want Dustin is not to lose you. I may have left your life, I may said things but I would never want you dead. I regretted saying I should have stopped looking for you. I have so much anger and so much… so much hurt but I couldn’t watch you die. Please…just… “]
Before Lexi could finish the sound of the prison door opened. Stepping in was Tink and Trey. Stepping towards each cell door, they lingered with the key but didn’t open the doors just yet.
[+blue “The both of you could be more useful than we thought. However we can’t take you out your cells just yet, not until we know we can trust the both of you to work together. Dustin I’m giving you one more chance. You work with us, or we sent you for your execution now. The danger is too tight for us, The Council is quickly moving in so we don’t have time for those who are going to betray us. We’ll explain everything, but we need your trust.”] Tink offered, giving Dustin one final chance to make up his mind. Lexi stared from the bars opposite and she gave him a look of desperation. She couldn’t protect him. She had been able to keep him safe throughout her entire life and now he was too far away. Dustin’s destiny was in his own hands.
[b “Remind them of how much they care? If you say so Raven…thank God you didn’t see my fucking family.”] Anton laughed but he didn’t elaborate on the matter. He had confidence in Raven. He may have not had the strongest relationships in his past but Raven knew a thing about trust. Who was he to argue?
Though the partnership they had formed was quickly compromised. Anton didn’t have anything for his defence. He was relying on Raven’s trust but every time he glanced over, he could see it was falling apart. He was an expert at reading people. His entire life was gaining trust of those he dealt with and making sure it worked in his favour! This was the first time that a balance had been created, were Anton was working to make sure the favour had equal weight. As he watched Raven’s eyes becoming more cautious over his actions, Anton couldn’t help but feel a burning anger. He gave up everything to build up her trust and she really thought he was throwing it away already? This was why he never believed in Pack values.
[b “You fucking go near that brat I’ll slice your throat out. You hear me Mitch! I’m warning you, you’re missing with the wrong fucking Vampire!”] Anton warned, this time baring his fangs as a threat for Mitch to back away. He may have had the weapon of Vampire venom but it wasn’t exactly easy to bite into so many attackers at once! As the fight broke out and Anton felt more weight collapsing against his body, he didn’t know how much longer he could hold his own. He was quick and able to fight. Usually he was the kind to have a back-up plan but with so many surrounding them there was no chance that he alone could survive! With every bite and scratch, Anton was weakened. The blood was pouring from his shoulder and already turned his white t-shirt crimson from the scratched on his chest. The wolf on his shoulder bit down harder, fracturing his collar bone causing Anton to scream out in pain. He lifted up his gun and pulled the trigger…only there was nothing. The chamber was empty.
Just as he thought he would be overwhelmed, he felt the shift in weight in a sudden movement. He was quick to jump up and stumble away, watching as Raven took over the fight. It was impressive! The Lykos Pack didn’t stand a chance! She was quick, agile and cunning, while still holding the strength he had seen the first night he saw her change. What even surprised him however was the Vampire venom she was able to inflict on each of her victims. With each of them cowering away, Anton smirked. He was impressed! Raven managed to make an army of wolves back down against them! Pressing his hand against his shoulder, Anton was ready to make a celebratory remark about her fight, only Raven’s bark interjected.
As quickly as her own personality changed, Anton was quick to pull out his knife and point it towards her. He knew he wouldn’t have the strength to hold her back if she lunged forward, but he wasn’t going to be a coward.
[b “Are you joking? You’re telling me to take my own advice when you’re acting like a bitch and jumping to god damn conclusions?”] Anton hissed, taking a step back as Raven got closer.
[b “Yes I did make a deal with Mitch, alright? I took his phone to call him to take you out, but guess what Raven - I lost the phone! I realised the night we were recovering from the attack. I was never planning to use it, I swear! Fuck Raven, you really think I’d do that? I was trying to cut down on my own drug use and I lost it today. Fucking… ah! Damn it I had the urge so I was trying to do it before you saw me. I never intended to phone, I never intended to betray you…well, I did but then you taught me this whole Pack loyalty bullshit. You know what Raven? The whole Pack thing - I thought I’d give it a go! That’s why I didn’t betray you and that’s why I was pissed when you almost caught me!”] Anton explained with his face straight. There was no grin, no cocky attitude. He was being straight up with her.
[b “Draven tried to convince you to kill me, didn’t he? You can’t say you didn’t consider it Raven. When we were using each other it would have been easy! Now are you bullshitting me about this Pack stuff because I swear down if you’re thinking I am betraying you, then our partnership is dead in the fucking ground. Now back off!”]
Dustin kept his eyes down but his other senses were alert. He couldn’t hear her reach for the bowl and could only assume the reasons behind her hesitation. Dustin gave a bitter, humourless snort as Lexi grimaced at her brother’s blood in the bowl.
[#ff6622 “Don’t be so proud Lexi. It’s not the first time. That deer wasn’t the first thing you bit into the night you turned.”] Dustin told him, revealing another of his closely guarded secrets. When he had found her that night, Lexi was still, cold, and pale, no different from his parents’ corpses in the other room. It wasn’t until he had leaned in close to check her pulse that his twin’s savage eyes snapped open and she sank her fangs deep into his shoulder. Fortunately, the drugs in his system dulled the pain and allowed him to shove her away. Dustin had always been fast, and in his panic he ran, leading her through the city to the park so she could satisfy her thirst with something other than her own brother! By the time Lexi had drank enough to become aware of herself, Dustin had tied up his wounds and hid them under his clothes, never daring to tell his sister how close she came to killing him. It was just another lie he’d told to protect his sister, but after their last fight Dustin really didn’t see the point anymore.
When she challenged him, Dustin stayed silent, ignoring her questions and keeping his focus on the ground in front of him. She had drank his blood, she had recovered a little of her strength, and maybe now she could get herself someplace safe. That was all that mattered. There was no point in answering her, especially when he knew she wouldn’t like what he had to say. Dustin just buried his eyes in his arms so she wouldn’t see him wince at her accusations, allowing his torn sleeves to catch the treacherous drops that leaked from his eyes when she said the words [i “I hate you.”] In a last ditch effort to hide his grief behind a burst of anger, Dustin wiped his eyes dry and turned to his sister with an incredulous look, anger at the fact that she was questioning him on something that seemed so obvious in Dustin’s mind.
[#ff6622 “Of course I came to kill Draven, but I’m not an idiot Lexi! I knew I didn’t have a chance! I mean, come on! When have I ever actually accomplished ANYTHING that I set out to do?”] Dustin demanded, honestly racking his brain for just one example of something he hadn’t managed to screw up, but it wasn’t easy digging through the dark to pull out a glimmer of something hopeful.
[#ff6622 “The only thing I’ve ever accomplished in my entire life was passing my initiation. I passed Talon’s tests, I took my oath, I proved myself to that Pack, and I earned my place there! I was even stupid enough to think that maybe Dad would have been proud, that maybe you… maybe you would have been proud of me too… But you weren’t proud, you were jealous. I was so damn pleased with myself I didn’t even realize how much you hated my place with the Pack. So I did what I had to, I got myself kicked out. And now I’m starting from square one. 14 years and not one single fucking accomplishment. Yeah, I came here to kill Draven, but I knew I’d fuck it up. I knew he’d kill me first. So if these bastards want to put me down, fine. At least Draven won’t get the satisfaction of doing it himself.”] Dustin muttered, once again allowing his eyes to drop as he spoke. As he carried on, it was becoming more evident that these thoughts weren’t as recent as their fight two weeks ago. Dustin had been feeling like this for a while now, but learned to hide it around his sister. But she openly admitted she hated him, that what he did was unforgivable, so why bother hiding from her anymore? Hell, maybe Lexi will be happy to know he’s at least suffering for what he did.
[#ff6622 “What is it that you want Lexi? You want an apology? I’m sorry! You want me to feel guilty? I can’t feel any worse than I do right now! You want me out of your life? It won’t be long now! What else do you want from me?!”]
Raven shook her head as Anton downplayed Dustin’s rebellious behaviour. This wasn’t just some teenage angst, this was serious! The kid was self-destructing, pushing away everyone close to him as if the isolation was punishment for his sins. Raven couldn’t help but think back to the twins’ fight that day at the den. Lexi had blamed him for taking away everything she cared about, forcing her to live alone while he lived happily, surrounded by his pack. Maybe that was why the kid was trying so hard to break away? He didn’t want to live that happy life if his sister couldn’t.
[b “Rebellious? Sure, I ran off on my own, got into fights, snuck away from my pack, but I never attacked one of my own. I never challenged my Alpha. There are some lines you just don’t cross as a Wolf.”] Raven explained. Dustin knew as well as anyone that attacking his own pack and hurting his Alpha would likely get him banished or killed. The fact that he had no motive to hurt Talon made Raven wonder if that was the whole point? Maybe Dustin was looking for a way out?
[b “It won’t be as hard as you think. The one thing I know about siblings, is that no matter what, deep down, I would put my brother’s life above anything. There’s nothing he could do to make me ever want him dead. I’m willing to bet the twins are the same. Lexi doesn’t forgive Dustin, but she doesn’t want to lose him forever. And Dustin may feel he doesn’t deserve his sister, but if she was in danger, he’d do anything to save her. Those two care about each other, all we have to do is remind them of that.”] Raven stated confidently. She refused to believe the twins relationship was as hopeless as Anton suggested. But she did agree, this reunion would be messy. If it came down to it, the only way to get those two to see sense was to spill some blood and Raven wasn’t afraid to make that happen.
Of course, to fix things with the twins Raven and Anton would first have to survive their own battle. Raven was hesitant to take Mitch’s word, especially when Anton seemed so adamant about the fact that he didn’t betray her, Still, there was some incriminating evidence: Anton’s suspicious behaviour back at the Boarding House, his admittance to taking the phone and hearing the offer, his reluctance to deviate from their schedule tonight, etc. Yet despite all of this evidence, Raven still gave him a chance. She may not fully trust him, but she wasn’t about to believe Mitch’s word over Anton’s, not after these past two weeks of working side by side.
[#777766 “Come on now Leech, don’t take it personally. I just don’t like loose ends. Speaking of which, where’s that pup that interfered last time we met? From what I hear, he’s the only initiate left at Sirhan. Too bad he had to meddle. Now we have no choice but to silence that mutt once and for all.”] Mitch threatened, wanting Anton and Raven to be well aware that his next target was Dustin. With Sirhan’s Beta and their last living initiate down, the Sirhan pack would be devastated! They would never survive the Blood Moon! It just went to show that even the strongest Packs had their weaknesses – take out a few key players and the rest would crumble.
Raven was skeptical after what she had heard, but that pack instinct ran deep within her blood. Until she could prove whether or not Anton was a traitor, she’d play both sides. She wouldn’t fully trust him, but she wouldn’t turn her back on him either. If he was innocent, Raven wasn’t about to let the words of a rival get her partner killed! Raven drew her blade and fought the rival wolves as best she could. She was stronger and faster now with the vampire blood coursing through her veins and even as they bit into her skin, her tainted blood left a burning taste in their mouths, making it almost impossible for any of them to keep their hold. Those still in their human forms had an easier time, slashing and stabbing at the Beta with merciless persistence. Raven had just bought herself a few precious seconds to check on her partner, but as she turned her eyes widened at the sight. Anton was aiming his gun directly at her, only failing to pull that trigger as the rival pack got in his way. That bastard was going to take her out in the middle of a fight?!
The rage and betrayal triggered something deep inside Raven. As Anton was overburdened with Wolves, the former Beta gave herself into that fighting instinct and shifted into her wolf form. Although she looked the same as she had before, Raven’s wolf form was stronger, faster, and quicker to react then her old self, relying on the Vampire’s keen reflexes to guide her. For Raven, who until now wasn’t even sure if she could still shift as a Hybrid, her biggest gain was to learn that her new form had a secret weapon! Raven sank her fangs into the neck of another wolf, instantly rewarded with yelps and howl of pain. The bitten wolf writhed away from Raven, feeling the relentless acid-like burning of her toxic bite. It wasn’t as lethal to Wolves as a pure vampire’s venom, but it certainly turned the tides of this fight!
Raven lunged towards her fallen partner, biting into the flesh of the wolves that had taken him down. When enough were nursing poisoned wounds and the rest were too afraid to get anywhere close, Mitch finally cut his losses and called a retreat.
[#777766 “That’s a neat trick Raven, but it won’t save you. You’ll be dead before the Bloodmoon, you can bet on that! Boys, clear out!” Mitch ordered, not wanting to lose many more of his pack so close to the Bloodmoon war. He needed his numbers if he was going to take down Talon and his pack. Besides, if he couldn’t beat Raven with force, he’d just have to use a little wit. He had a plan to take out that miserable Freak for good, all he needed was a little time.
As the rival pack retreated, Raven turned her eyes back to Anton and gave a challenging growl. With the strength of her Wolf form she felt confident she could take him out if needed. Anton was a good fighter, but he was injured and wouldn’t stand a chance if she went for the kill. Raven may not have been able to take Mitch’s word for it, but there was no doubting what she saw during the fight. Anton had tried to kill her and she wanted answers.
[b “I don’t want bullshit, lies, or excuses. You answer me honestly! Take your own damn advice and take responsibility for what you’ve done!”] Raven snarled, with none of her carefree, snide, persona that Anton had come to know.
[b “Did you make a deal with Mitch? Did you take that phone? After EVERYTHING we’ve ben through, did you betray me?”] Raven growled, stalking towards him with teeth and claws bared.
There may have been broken trust between them and Lexi may have been distant, but deep down there was concern. If she spoke out, she’d be a hypocrite in her own condition. She was weak, thin and exhausted. The amount of times she had turned savage taken everything out of her. She’d been here a couple of days and she was alive because she was held captive and the blood they had offered her. Still, there was concern for her brother. Why wasn’t he looking after himself? Why did he carry that dead look in his eyes and why did he look like all his own strength was ripped out of him a long time ago? It seemed they both couldn’t survive without the other. Only when they were with each other there was more destruction. Lexi couldn’t trust him, he couldn’t tell her the truth until there was too much pressure. She was too hard on him, while he wanted to rebel and risk his own life. Lexi always grew up thinking there would be nothing that could rip the two of them apart. She was naive. Perhaps this would be it. They would die together in separate cells, broken and torn - just like their relationship.
When Dustin ripped open his own arm, Lexi didn’t understand! He was weak enough and he was just hurting himself more? When the bowl was slid over, Lexi couldn’t resist. First the liquid brought disgust to her eyes. How could Dustin expect her just to drink his own blood? There was only so much resistance Lexi could hold. Her instincts kicked in and she brought the bowl to her lips, taking no hesitation to take all the blood down in one go. Throwing the bowl across the cell, she closed her eyes. This would have been the moment she took in a large a gulp of air if she could. Instead, she froze, taking a moment to let the blood settle in her system before she stopped and stared right at her brother.
[+orange “If it made no difference Dustin, why did you bother just helping me? If it made no difference, why were you out in this territory?”] Lexi questioned but her voice didn’t change. It was still chilling and still untrusting. It was like she was talking to a stranger!
[+orange “You didn’t just screw up my own life Dustin, you screwed up OUR life. You’re self destructive and you’re moping around proving it. So what now? You just give up and die? What for Dustin? For what aim?”] Lexi asked but she could see it in his face. He’d already given up. There was no point interrogating him on his decisions. He had made up his mind. She knew it was her own fault but how could she be blamed! She wasn’t looking at her twin brother, she was looking at a liar.
[+orange “It may no matter who they are Dustin, but it does matter what they want to do. You came to kill Draven didn’t you? Well, in your stupid and reckless mind, try and kill Draven. These guys despise The Council and have been trying for years to shut them down. That’s why they’ve got us as prisoners Dustin. They found out our family name… so now they are trying to decide our fate. I’m a Vampire, they have a bigger decision to make with me but you… unless you prove worth then they won’t hesitate to kill you. You want revenge on Draven? You want to do something right then give them a reason and stop giving up! I… I hate you for what you did. I can’t forgive you but you owe our parents that, right?”] Lexi spoke up and even though she started rigid and uncomfortable, her words couldn’t help but become softer the more she looked at her twin. She wondered what their parents would be thinking. They probably thought they died for nothing. The family was broken. Father died keeping his secret to break the twins anyway.
[+orange “We may not have our trust Dustin but everything you told me, we owe them. They died because of a secret. This place is in danger. For the last few nights The Council have been attacking and so far these guys have held them off, but it won’t be long before they are made to retreat. I heard them talking the other day. Dustin… you hurt me. That doesn’t mean you have to hurt yourself.”] Lexi tried to reason but there was doubt in her eyes. She didn’t know how much she could get through to him, or if he’d even bother to listen! Her only hope was thinking she knew her brother well. If he did come out to kill Draven, then maybe the incentive to encourage The Resistance that he was of use against The Council would have been enough to spark some sense of survival. They may have broken their bond, but she wouldn’t watch her last surviving family member die.
Dustin ignored the questions, not feeling overly cooperative with a noose around his neck. Even as they tightened the rope, Dustin simply glared. There was a time when the young Wolf would have used every ounce of his strength to fight his way out of even the most hopeless of situations, or at least tried to talk his way through it! Now, the boy was settled in his silent defiance. He didn’t care who these people were or what they wanted. He gave them two options: let him go or kill him, and Dustin didn’t plan on giving them a third. He bided his time, saving as much of his waning strength as he could until Trey place his hand on Dustin’s shoulder and Tink tugged on the rope. With a sharp jerk of her head, Dustin pulled back, consequently tightening the rope on his neck. He struggled and pulled, feeling the noose cutting into his skin and closing off his airway. In Dustin’s mind, he was going to give these two no choice! If they didn’t want him dead, they’d have to release him, otherwise he’d just keep pulling until that rope strangled the life out of him! Free or dead, those here his only options.
If it had been just the girl, Dustin may have got his wish, but the larger Wolf was strong enough to force Dustin’s compliance. All it took was a firm shove and a tight, controlling grasp on his shoulder, and Dustin felt the rope go slack. He couldn’t pull away with Tray holding him steady, eliminating his last option of escape. All his little stunt accomplished in the end was to show how little cared about his own survival. Dustin continued to struggle against his captors, not wanting to make things easy for them, but the moment he entered the cells and caught a glimpse of his fellow prisoner, his struggles stopped.
Dustin didn’t fight as Tray shoved him into the cell and locked him up in chains. He barely seemed to notice the larger Wolf anymore, instead stared right past him into his twin sister’s cell. Lexi looked far too thin, and worn, covered in blood and unkempt. She looked like she’d been through hell! Dustin could tell she’d gone savage, likely more than once in the weeks she’d been missing and it pained him to think of his sister, the golden child, taking so little care of herself. Still, to see her alive offered more relief than Dustin had felt in ages! He wanted to believe that things would be alright now, that they could fix the damage between them and work together like they used to, but Lexi’s first few words crushed all hope of that. [i what are you doing here? You weren’t supposed to find me!]… of course, she wanted nothing to do with him. Lexi had walked out of his life for good, with no intention of turning back. She blamed him. She hated him. She never wanted to see him again.
Dustin dropped his eyes to the floor. He slid to the ground with his back against the cold wall of the cell and pulled his knees into his chest. This alone would have been evidence to Lexi that Dustin had changed. Normally, her over protective brother would have been pacing the cell, tugging at the bars, shouting out threats and warning to leave his sister out of this or else! Normally, he would have done anything in his power, no matter how hopeless it seemed, to try to get his twin out of danger. Now, the boy just sat there, completely resigned to whatever fate they had in store.
[#ff6622 “It doesn’t matter who they are. Makes no difference now.”] Dustin muttered back, rubbing absentmindedly at the rope burns around his neck. His mind swam with questions – [i Where were you all this time? Are you hurt? Are they feeding you? Why do they want you? How can I help?] – but Dustin stayed silent. He saw the anger in his sister’s eyes and assumed it was all directed at him. He was probably the last person in the world Lexi wanted to speak to at the moment, so Dustin wouldn’t force his company on her. He wouldn’t burden her any more than he already had. Only daring a brief look at his sister, Dustin noticed how thin she was. He knew firsthand the weakness and pain that accompanied hunger and despite their fight, he wouldn’t wish that suffering on her.
Dustin grabbed the bowl and dumped the rotting heart out into the ground, completely forgotten as it rolled out of reach. He tore his shirt and wiped the bowl clean as best he could before setting it beside him. Next, Dustin bared his fangs and tore into the vein in his forearm until the blood freely flowed, dripping steadily into the empty bowl. Wolves had fast healing, even without the aid of the moonlight. The cut would be healed in a few hours and the blood loss wouldn’t do much harm. But after everything he had taken from her, Dustin gave the only thing he possibly could! Once the bowl was partially filled, he tied the torn fabric around the cut and pushed the bowl through the bars of his cell. The blood sloshed, spilling slightly as it slid to a halt within Lexi’s reach. Once done, Dustin returned to his original position: knees hugged into his chest, chin resting on his arms, and eyes turned towards the floor.
[#ff6622 “Keep up your strength. You’re smart, you’ll find a way out. And then you won’t have to worry about your junkie brother screwing up your life.”]
Trey didn’t understand the kid in front of him. Any Wolf with any sort of sense would know walking alone in his condition was a death wish! Especially in this territory. The fact he was so easily captured was worrying for the both of them. There was suspicion of it being a trap. Maybe some Pack sent this weakling out to try and lure put easy prey. Maybe the Pack had given up on him! Trey was quick to notice the scent of the Sirhan Pack on him. It wasn’t like them to give up on someone so easily and hearing the kid speak, only raised more questions.
[+purple “Never known a Wolf to have so little hope. What did you do? Betray your Pack? I can smell it on you. You’re a Sirhan. They don’t give up on people easily. Tink - what are we going to do?”] Trey asked and as Dustin turned into his human form, he turned back into his own as well.
In front of Dustin there was a major difference. While Dustin was weak and frail, Trey was well-built, tall and strong. Every muscle was defined and he towered over most people he stood next too! Apart from the stubble around his face and the dirt covering his clothes, you wouldn’t be able to tell he lived a rough life. He wore the same long black coat as Tink with the white band on his arm. With Dustin’s weak shape, Trey didn’t bother restraining him just yet. There wouldn’t be a fight and if he tried to run, Trey would be quick to catch him.
When Dustin said his name, the two of them gave each other a warning look. The rope was still around his neck and Think was quick to pull it tighter. That information changed the tension of the situation.
[+blue “Did you just say Dustin Kane? We can’t let you go anywhere, not so close into Council Territory. Trey, let The Resistance know we’re taking in another prisoner. We can’t afford this kid to compromise our mission to destroy The Council. Can you guard the cells downstairs? We’ve got both of them and if these really are who they are claiming to be, you know what that means.”] Tink ordered and without hesitation, Trey placed a firm hand on Dustin’s shoulder and pushed him into a nearby building with Tink leading, dragging him with the rope.
The building was filled with secrecy. It looked like an abandoned bookshop, but as Tink knocked what seemed to be a secret code on one of the bookshelves it slid open. Quickly pushing Dustin in he entered a world filled with Vampires and Werewolves. There was maps of the city stuck allover the walls with markings and pins stuck into them. Tables were surrounded with people planning and preparing weapons. On the walls were large white sheets with the same marking as the bands that they wore on their arms. Tink handed the rope to Trey and gave him one more look. They didn’t have to say any words. Trey knew exactly what she was ordering. This was a high priority prisoner and he would do everything to make sure he didn’t escape.
Pushing him down the stairs, Trey lead him to a large basement filled with cells. All of them were empty, besides one… She was thin like Dustin and her hair seemed matted. Her clothes were stained all over with blood which wasn’t her own. It wasn’t from an ordinary attack…it looked like she was soaked in it! A clear sign of a Vampire who turned savage. As Trey pushed Dustin into the opposite cell, he had a clear view of who exactly the girl was. His mission was shorter than what he expected. In front of his very eyes was Lexi, chained to the wall by her ankle as extra security to stop her escaping. Dustin was given the same treatment and was left with nothing but a bowl with a half rotten heart for him to eat. They wanted him to live, but didn’t want to give him enough strength for him to turn again.
[+purple “You are officially a prisoner of The Resistance. Don’t try anything stupid, for your own sake.”]
As Trey left the prison, Lexi stood up. She stepped to the bars of her cell, going as far as she could before the chain around her ankle stopped her. She stared, her body frozen and her eyes still carrying the same cold look she gave him the day she ran away.
[+orange “Dustin? What are you doing here? You weren’t supposed to find me! Damn it Dustin do you know who these guys are?”] Her voice was still as chilling. It wasn’t the warming sisterly voice he grew up with, but even behind her anger there was a bigger picture. There was fear. It wasn’t just of seeing her brother, it was knowing he was also locked in this place as well!
Anton was sure if he had air in his lungs, the moment Raven walked in his breath would have been caught in his throat. So far she had respected his own moral decisions, just as much as he respected hers - but he wondered if one day his own behaviour would cause a rift between them. They already had every reason to live up to that rivalry. He was a loner Vampire, she was a Wolf fuelled with loyalty. He had bad habits, she looked after her body to keep up her strength. In most regards, at first appearances, they were polar opposites. Though if Anton had learned anything from the last couple of weeks, they had more in common than what it seemed. They both had the determination to survive, to have each others back and to make the partnership work. Anton didn’t judge her once for being a Hybrid - it would have been rich coming from himself. He had been an outsider his entire life in his own way! Still, the moment Raven walked in there was a growing tension in his own mind. Fortunately his partner seemed to still hold that level of respect of not asking questions.
[b “Talon can’t handle a little scratch? He’s a teenager Raven, they do the stupid shit. The dramatics is what they live for! Come on, I bet you had a rebellious bone in your body back in the day. Maybe it’s just his emotions going wild or something. Jesus Christ, now I’m sounding like his parent.”] Anton mused but the more Raven continued, the more he couldn’t argue against her.
[b “So you want me to go on a wild goose chase to find them. That’s fine and I agree, they’re both as bad as each other but what happens when we are finally there? Lexi hates my guts, I’m part of the reason Dustin no longer has his twin sister by his side. This isn’t going to pretty Raven, so if you are ready to play mother and get some sense into them then by all means! I’m just here to make sure they don’t give Draven the satisfaction of winning, alright? I’m staying out of the parenting shit - knocking sense into others isn’t my strong suit when I barely have sense myself.”] Anton pointed out to her, making sure she was aware that if they did find both the twins, the reunion wouldn’t be pretty. The night they went to recover with the Sirhan Pack was pretty tense and the light left Dustin’s eyes the moment Lexi stormed out. That wasn’t going to recover anytime soon.
With Raven’s promise to protect him, Anton turned and stuck his fingers towards his throat, acting as if her words had made him physically sick.
[b “You’re a fucking sap, you know that? Oh thank you Raven, my hero, my knight in shining armour! When you rescue me don’t forget to make it known across the land that no one messed with your partner-in-crime!”] He dramatically played out, laughing in return with that cocky grin he always had.
[b “As much as I hate to say it, I’ve got your back too.”]
Following by Raven’s side, Anton was immediately trying to plan where they should start looking. The city was large and it wasn’t just a matter of searching through different Pack territories and The Council’s - there was a lot of mortal land to cover which could compromise their own existence if Dustin or Lexi were getting themselves in trouble. That seemed the most probable cause for Lexi - it would make sense she was returning back to the life she wanted back so much. The life she had before her family was attacked. However they were working without any facts and Anton was just completely guessing. With his mind so focused on trying to figure out their first steps, his senses were lost and didn’t realise the threat that was approaching them until Raven spoke up.
Hearing the familiar voice of the wolf who offered him the mobile phone to betray Raven weeks ago, Anton instinctively brought his hand up to his jacket pocket. He checked it weeks ago with the Sirhan Pack, fully knowing then the phone was missing but he thought nothing of it! In Anton’s mind he would have lost the phone and it was probably destroyed in all the fighting that lead up to their time of recovery. So when Mitch started to speak, Anton’s posture stiffened and his hand reached towards the gun on his belt. This didn’t make sense. He didn’t make the phone call! Mitch had to be acting with this, trying to cause a rift between the two of them.
[b “Why would I want to call a pathetic little runt like you? I’d never trust you to finish the job. You had to bring so many of your friends? Scared I’d finish the job from when I was savage? Come on Mitch, don’t talk shit. I never called you and you know it.”] Anton shouted over the jeering laughter but his eyes didn’t betray him. He gave nothing away to show any fear or confusion, but deep down his mind was spinning trying to figure out the answers. It didn’t make sense!
[b “It wasn’t a deal Mitch. It was an offer and I had time to contemplate on it and I didn’t take it. I don’t even have the phone on me! What the hell is this? You want to play games Mitch you’re playing with the wrong person. Raven, come on, it’s not like I’ve had a chance to betray you! This isn’t the time to be asking.”] Anton snapped at Raven and shooting a cold look in return. Could she really think this was true? He spent the last couple of weeks teaching how to survive! Why would he bother if he wanted her dead. As they started to get surrounded, Anton lifted his gun up as a warning if anyone approached but he was a good judge of character. Mitch’s eyes let him know that the risk of a few wolves dying wasn’t going to stop his pack.
With Mitch’s final orders, through cold eyes Anton smirked at the Alpha.
[b “So even if we had a deal, you just fucked it up puppy-dog.”] And even as the wolves rushed forward, Anton took his opportunity and fired a bullet towards Mitch. They were surrounded and with so many attackers, their chances of getting out of this was already slim! If he could at least get one bullet embedded in Mitch, it was prize enough. Though there wasn’t time to play games anymore. As soon as Anton pulled the trigger he felt the weight of a wolf slam him down to the ground, and the feeling of what felt like razors slicing across his chest. It wasn’t deep but Anton could tell the wolf wasn’t taking his time! The order was to kill Anton and the wolf was doing exactly that, aiming for the heart. As the wolf went in for the second strike, Anton lifted the gun up to the creatures jaws and with a band, the wolf dropped dead. A single bullet through the jaw and into his brain.
Quickly pulling himself up, Anton only managed to catch a quick glance at Raven and seeing multiple wolves running behind her. He lifted up his gun, aiming towards her. From Raven’s perspective it would have looked like Anton was aiming it right at her! In this current situation, it only would have added to the whole deception and that her partner was trying to kill her! Before he had the chance to pull the trigger, Anton felt a wolf clamp their jaws down on his shoulder. His aim diverted with a scream of pain and he fired openly, injuring some members of the pack. He didn’t have the strength to be ripping wolves off him and with so many around, if they didn’t have a plan soon, Mitch would be getting exactly what he wanted!
Dustin was well aware how dangerous it was staking the streets as a lone wolf, especially in his condition. He was skinny, tired, apathetic, his strength was failing him, his reflexes were slowed, even his senses weren’t as keen as usual. Sadly, Dustin was far too broken to care. Whatever hunted him down at this point – vampire, werewolf, hell, maybe even the freaking dog catcher! – they’d be just speeding along the inevitable. Dustin wouldn’t survive his encounter with Draven, although he did at least hope to take the bastard down with him when he died. But it seemed that Dustin’s history of failure wasn’t through with him yet.
To Dustin’s great embarrassment, he hadn’t caught the scent of the girl until she darted out in front of him. Furious with being caught off guard, the skinny wolf tried to look as intimidating as possible, arching his back, with fur raised, teeth bared, and a vicious snarl ripping through his throat. Even despite his current condition, there was no doubt this creature was dangerous! Even as the rope caught his neck, silencing his growls with a startled tug against his throat, Dustin wasn’t about to go down without a fight. He snapped his jaws in the air and darted towards the girl, prepared to rip that rope from her arm… or rip that arm from her body, whichever came first! But before Dustin could get too close, a heavy weight connected with his back, shoving him into the pavement. Dustin was small, agile, and rather wily both as a human and a Wolf, so it was normally no issue to squirm past the grasp of a larger opponent, but as malnourished and worn as Dustin was, he was simply too frail to put up much of a fight. The young teen was easily pinned by the larger Wolf, and all Dustin’s continued struggles accomplished was to tire him out further.
[#ff6622 “If that’s what it takes, so be it! Now let me go!”] Dustin growled, not bothering to hide the fact that he was on a suicide mission. He didn’t have the time nor energy to fight with these two. Without proper food, rest, and time in the moonlight, Dustin’s leg hadn’t haled properly and despite the larger Wolf’s attempt not to hurt him, the young pup’s leg was throbbing with pain. He doubled his struggles until he was finally release, but that brief confrontation had pretty much trained the poor pup. He staggered back a few steps before sitting on his haunches, breathing heavily from the scuffle. The rope still hung loosely around his neck, but the boy couldn’t manage more than tossing his head in discomfort at the moment.
[#ff6622 “Well I don’t comply! I’m not going anywhere with you so you might as well just kill me know! Go on! Do it!”] Dustin growled defiantly. This was not a show of bravery or arrogance, this was pure, simply apathy. Dustin wasn’t afraid of these two because he had nothing left to lose! His one last goal of killing Draven was such a long-shot to begin with that it hardly mattered whether he succeeded or not. Honestly, Dustin just needed the excuse to bring him straight into the Council’s territory. If the Wolves wouldn’t kill him, he’d find someone who would.
Dustin wanted to stubbornly defy the order to turn human as well, but his frail body just couldn’t support the Wolf form any longer. He hadn’t eaten any hearts, hadn’t recharged under the moonlight, hadn’t stayed well rested and well fed and now with the added exhaustion of their little scuffle, Dustin couldn’t hold this form much longer. The boy bit back the familiar pain of his bones breaking and reforming, the fur receding from his skin, and the shaggy blonde hair falling carelessly over his eyes. He sat in that alley, glancing up at his captors with dull amber eyes. Though not as noticeable as in his Wolf form, the boy was visibly thin to the point where his clothes hung loosely off his frame. His skin was covered with bruises and scrapes, the most damning of which were the red track marks on the inside of his arm and the deep scar running directly through the Sirhan’s pack tattoo.
[#ff6622 “You wanna know who I am? I’m Dustin Palmer… or Dustin Kane, or whatever the hell I’m supposed to be. I’m a screw up, a liar, a junkie, a thief, I failed my sister, betrayed my pack and I got my whole family killed. So let me go or kill me yourself, I really don’t care anymore. But I’m not going anywhere with you.”] Dustin told the two, taking the moment to catch his breath and get his bearings. Even if they did let him go, he wouldn’t be strong enough to turn Wolf unless he ate something. Seeing as how the very thought of food made Dustin’s stomach flip, he knew that wasn’t an option. Looks like, if he survived this, he was just going to have to hunt Draven down as a human.
Raven still had her eyes lingering on her phone when she stepped into the room, so she didn’t realize Anton was in the middle of something until he jumped. Her eyes caught the shifty flicker of movement and the guarded look on Anton’s face but not much else. She knew Anton hadn’t kicked his habit, despite her disapproval – drugs slowed your reflexes, dimmed your senses, and made you and your pack vulnerable – so she figured he was just using again behind her back. But Anton had never shown much care to hide it from her before. Although the swift move and startling behaviour made Raven suspicious, she didn’t voice her concerns aloud. The one thing she had learned during these past two weeks with Anton was that both of them harboured secrets that the other had no business knowing. She wouldn’t ask Anton about his drugs or about the night he turned, and in return, she didn’t want him asking about her past, her late family, or the nature of her rivalry with Mitch. Instead, Raven buried her suspicions and gave Anton the benefit of the doubt.
[b “I know he’s a runner Anton, but this is getting serious. Attacking an Alpha is a crime against the Pack. He could have been killed for a stupid move like that and Dustin knows it!”] Raven pointed out. This was going far beyond reckless behaviour. At this point, Raven was worried Dustin might actually have a death wish!
[b “Dustin screwed up, I’ll be the first to admit that. But he’s just a kid, Anton. He was scared and lost, and he thought if he told his sister the truth, she’d leave him. And he was right! Lexi isn’t exactly innocent in this either. She’s his twin sister, she knows Dustin better than anyone. She knows how much her words would have broken him that night and she still abandoned him there with nothing to live for. They are both to blame and it’s going to take effort from both sides to fix this.”] Raven pointed out, still harbouring a bit of a bias. She may not be Sirhan’s Beta anymore, but Dustin was still part of her pack and to see him in this much pain made her defensive. She knew Lexi had her reasons for leaving, but she was still pissed at the girl for doing so.
[b “Vampires have weak hearts, but Werewolves have fast healing. I’ve got a lot better chance of surviving out there than you do. But don’t worry Anton, I’ll watch your back.”] Raven said with a teasing smirk. Of course her words were true, she’d protect him like she would her own pack, but mainly she said it get on his nerves. Raven knew Anton got annoyed with the sappy Pack-bond crap that she’d been telling him these past few weeks, and she capitalized on the friendly banter at any chance she got. After all, their mocking jabs and insults is what started their partnership way back in that pub!
Raven took the gun Anton offered her and slid it into her belt. She rarely used it – Wolves preferred blades or their own claws and fangs, usually liking to firing the fight up close and personal – but it never hurt to have back up. With all the clashing between Wolves and Vampires lately, Raven had learned not to be so arrogant in fights. She no longer had her Pack to back her up at a moment’s notice, so if it came to shedding blood, Raven and Anton were on their own.
[b “Dustin’s not answering his phone… not that he ever does. I’m pretty sure the only reason he still has it is in case Lexi calls. Where do you think the little Fang would have gone, anyway? What are the chances she’s even still alive?”] Raven asked as they made their way out of the safety of the Sirhan territory and deeper into the city. They walked at a steady pace for several blocks before Raven suddenly stopped, a low growl building in her throat.
[b “Anton… the Lykos Pack.”] Raven stated recognizing the scent of the rival pack’s Alpha almost instantly. It was the same Wolf that stood gloating above the motionless bodies of her mother, father, and two brothers. That traitor had turned from her family’s most trusted friend to her most hated rival, and it seemed that that hatred was mutual. The pack gradually revealed themselves with wolves emerging from the surrounding shadows and one familiar man stepping out from the rest.
[#777766 “Oh, he’s well aware Raven. In fact, you’re little Bloodsucker buddy over there was the one who called us! Said you’d be here, alone, off guard, far away from your pack. I’ll admit, I was excited to get his call. I’ve been wanting to see with my own eyes whether or not the rumours were true… Hybrid Freak!”] At Mitch’s last two words his pack started howling and jeering towards Raven, who stood stoically despite her internal turmoil. Anton betrayed her? After two weeks of training and teaching and working together, he just sold her out? She trusted him!
[#777766 “You know Leech, I gotta say, I was starting to lose faith in you! It’s been weeks since we made our deal! I honestly thought you’d tossed that cell phone I gave you, but just when I was starting to lose hope, you came through! You hand delivered the Hybrid Freak just like you said you would. And as I promised, we’ll take the bitch off your hands.”] At Mitch’s signal the pack, wolves and humans alike, circled Anton and Raven, leaving no visible escape. Raven drew her blade and settled into a fighting stance. Normally, she’d keep her back to Anton, trusting her partner to cover her blind spots, but this time she never let Anton leave her sight – a clear sign that trust had been broken.
[b “Anton, what the hell is he talking about?”] Raven demanded, sparing a glance towards her partner. She didn’t want to believe he betrayed her, but how would Mitch have known where to find them if he hadn’t been tipped off?
[#777766 “Hybrids are a rare find; not much is known about them: what hurts them, what kills them… looks like we’ve got some experimenting to do. Thank you for your help bringing her in Leech, unfortunately, we can’t trust a traitor… even one that betrayed someone for our benefit. Wolves have standards you know. So I’m afraid you won’t be leaving here alive. Boys, kill the Leech and beat the fight out of the Freak. We’re going to have some fun with her.”] Mitch ordered with a smug grin, unleashing at least a dozen wolves on the two.
The light Lexi left the building, was also the night her feet didn’t stop. She ran and kept running, making sure she got as far away from her brother as she could. She didn’t want to be found. She had accepted loneliness. Ever since she lost her family she was alone. Her brother didn’t want to tell her the truth, he didn’t want to be with her. He found a better family and had a family he could trust more than he could ever trust her. That much was clear. Even Talon had pieced together more of her brothers past than she ever did.
Lexi ran until she was out of all territories and far beyond anywhere her brother would expect to find her. The night she ran, she locked herself away, not expecting anyone to find her. She had to live alone and she had to avenge her parents. She wasn’t sure how she was going to do it, but her brother had failed her and her family. It was time someone in the family put things right. If she died trying, it wouldn’t matter. Her brother would never find her again to know.
For the first couple of weeks, Lexi struggled. She was against drinking from humans. After watching how her family was murdered and seeing the devastation Vampires could cause, she refused to do the same to anyone else. She wasn’t becoming a monster. She found what she could… dying cats she found in alleyways, the rat they caught, pigeons but it wasn’t enough to fulfil her hunger. Her body was growing weaker and every time she felt she was going to turn Savage, she found a way to chain herself to a wall or a post. She always woke up, slumped against the floor, weaker than usual. It was a miracle her body had managed to snap out of it so many times. She was sure she wouldn’t survive much longer, but that all changed a week ago…
Sneaking through the shadows, a figure watched as Dustin got closer to The Council’s territory. Waiting for his moment, a teenager jumped in front of Dustin with a rope. She wasn’t much older than Dustin but she was just as quick on her feet as Lexi! She wore a long black coat and shabby clothes, but around her right arm was a white band with an upside down blood droplet printed on it. Lassoing the rope, she threw it forward, aiming to wrap it around his neck.
[+purple “Quick! Trey! Pin him down!”] The girl shouted and out of the shadow again came another figure - only one much similar to Dustin! A large wolf jumped out with grey and white fur, leaping at Dustin’s side. This wolf was large, muscular and well built. With Dustin’s weakened frame it would have been easy for the larger wolf to kill him in minutes! Instead as the wolf landed down, he aimed to pin Dustin down without any injury.
[+purple “What are you doing so close to The Council’s territory? Are you planning to get yourself killed?”] The girl asked approaching cautiously but being ready to keep away if he did manage to squirm his way free.
[+purple “We should get him inside before we’re spotted. Now you can either come easily or…wait…his fur. This is…”] Looking at each other, the wolf and the girl came to a quick but worrying conclusion.
[+blue “Turn human boy. We need to see who you are before we can take you any further. Don’t worry, we don’t plan on killing you. Not if you comply.”] Trey instructed and backed off a little, showing her wasn’t an immediate threat.
Unfamiliar surroundings where no strange event to Anton. Unfamiliar surroundings being guarded and patrolled by a pack who didn’t trust him very much was something that took Anton a couple of weeks to adjust to. He wasn’t able to carry out what was considered his normal every day. He was hoping he could keep up his reputation - selling and buying and doing what he did best. Tricking and manipulating to get the best deal he could. Not only was that banned under Talon’s strict regime but he was having to source double the amount of blood, especially in the first weeks of training Renae. At first it wasn’t easy for Anton. He’d been a loner the majority of his existence, so to be in an environment so close to someone so often was harder than he thought. However, despite his rude mannerisms and how much he struggled at first - something clicked. As the days past, his training was delivered with more thought and understanding. He didn’t want to admit it, but some days he actually enjoyed showing her how to survive and the same vice versa around wolves.
However, living together did come with a cost. Hybrids had started to learn about the building being occupied and some had tried to cross the border. Some Vampires had also learned about the amount of blood runs Anton and Raven started to do and often tried to intercept. They had a few close encounters, but nothing life threatening.
While Raven was in the other room, Anton was sat in the arm chair with the coffee able in front of him covered with everything they needed. A handgun each, ammunition, a spare blood pack should they get injured and a map of the building they were going to steal blood from. Not expecting Raven so soon, Anton had his sleeve rolled up to his shoulder and his belt tied tightly around his arm. He may have moved home but his old habits hadn’t died just yet. It didn’t cause any harm for Raven, or bring any danger…well, yet anyway.
Lifting a needle filled with blood and laced with whatever concoction Anton was planning to inject in his veins before the mission, he was ready to push it towards his skin before Raven’s voice surprised him. Catching him off guard the needle fell to the floor, smashing across the wooden boards.
[b “Fuck sake Raven, ever heard of knocking?”] Anton snapped as he quickly pulled the belt off his arm and slid it back around his jeans, as if trying to quickly conceal his actions.
[b “He does the whole running away thing Raven, that is what got him in trouble in the first place! He runs away, gets himself in trouble, gets saved and then fucks it all up again. Look, we’ve got a blood run tonight and we really, really need to win big. We really need to stock up Renae.”] Anton tried to protest but with the reminder of Lexi and how important all of this was, he seemed to back down. It wasn’t without frustration, but there was a reason he protected Dustin from the off set. That protection might have been slightly twisted, but it was the one thing Anton knew how to do. Beside’s with Draven trying to hunt them down, Lexi was just as important as keeping safe.
[b “You’ve cursed me with some of that pack loyalty crap.”] Anton mumbled as he picked up his own gun, tucked it into the back of his belt and threw the other to Raven.
[b “Trust me they need more than sense. You think we can even get the two of them talking again? Dustin screwed her over and yeah, perhaps part of that was my fault so I owe him the chance but let’s try and make this quick. We’ve got blood to get and oh, Raven, don’t forget what I told you alright? You’ve got a blood pack but if it gets messy out there you might need more. Bite right into the neck and don’t let go until you’ve dried them clean. Also try and protect your heart alright? Vampires have weak hearts and even a scratch against it can seriously weaken you.”] He told her, going through the final checks of her training.
[b “And yeah, yeah before you yap at me. The whole wolf thing - stick together, protect one another, no stupid risks and do what’s best for the both of us.”]
He may have shrugged it off like a child, but it showed he was learning something.
[b “You ready?]
His cold pale fingers drummed against the mahogany desk in front of him, as Draven stared down at the paper work in front of him. Standing behind the desk, with The Council’s logo carved into the centre, were two of Draven’s best spies.
[i “We’ve been watching them for awhile now Sir. The Sirhan Pack are defending them well. We can’t get close.”]
Draven ran his fingers along the paperwork, his hand stopping at one particular picture. It was a far off shot of Raven and Anton, both leaving the Boarding House and towards the exit of the territory. Pulling at the drawer on his desk, he lifted up a small and very cheap mobile phone. He stared at it for a few moments, letting the idea sink in before a calculated smile spread across his face. There was only one contact on the phone - Mitch.
Calling the number, Draven nodded to the spies. Why waste his efforts killing a junkie and an outcast, when Anton so stupidly dropped the weapon that would let someone else do it for him?
[+red “Hello Mitch? Yeah, yeah it’s Anton - listen, I don’t have much time to talk but I’m with the crazy bitch from the Sirhan Pack now. You know…yeah it’s Raven. So, I’m probably going to head out soon and leave the territory, it would be the perfect time for our deal y’know? Nah she knows nothing. Just don’t make it easy alright? Oh and let her know that I’m the one who fucking betrayed her.”]
Putting down the phone after impersonating Anton, Draven stood up and picked up a crystal glass from the table filled with blood. Standing next to the large window behind him, he watched as the moon revealed itself from behind the clouds.
[+red “I want the both of you to watch, not intervene. Just make sure he does the job properly. If he doesn’t, report to me.”]
Without even knowing, he framed Anton perfectly. With how quickly he jumped up in the room when Raven appeared, it would have looked a if he was hiding more than his drug use, which he wasn’t usually afraid to admit. Not only would it rip the two apart, it would finally make Anton vulnerable enough to take down - that was if Mitch didn’t want to do it himself and break the deal anyway.
[i “Maybe I should have stopped looking for you a long time ago.”] Those words echoed in the young Wolf’s head, ringing over and over in a heartbreaking mantra for the past two weeks. At first, Dustin hadn’t believed it. Lexi was furious – and she had every right to be – but those words were just said in an impulsive storm of anger and pain. She didn’t really mean it… yet as the days went by and Dustin hadn’t heard a single word from his sister, he was starting to think maybe those words held more truth than he wanted to admit. Dustin couldn’t blame Lexi for hating him, he just never thought the day would finally come when he’d worn through all his second chances. Lexi had always been on his side, forgiving him, defending him, taking care of him, no matter how badly he screwed up in the past, his twin sister would always help him through it. But even Dustin knew he had crossed a line this time.
Lexi had said it all that night in the Sirhan’s den: Dustin was a liar, a coward, a low-life junkie who let his own parents die and his own twin get turned because he was so desperate for a fix. There was truth to all of it. He couldn’t even say he didn’t have a choice in the matter because one little decision would have fixed it all: instead of taking that first hit, he should have spat back in those vampire’s faces and let them rip him to shreds. With Dustin dead, the family would have been free from the burden of their screw-up son, his father would have recognized the signs of a vampire attack and fled the city, his parents would have survived, Lexi would have lived a happier – worry free life without her brother holding her back, and Anton never would have had to defy the Council. It was too late to change things now; Dustin couldn’t fix this, but he could sure as hell stop himself from making it worse.
Dustin’s cell phone rang in his pocket and he reached for it now more out of habit than hope. He had missed calls from Raven, Talon, Nana, and several other concerned Packmates, but none from Lexi. Not a single call from the only person he needed to hear from. As Talon’s name flashed across the screen for the third time that night, Dustin threw the cell at the wall and watched through teary eyes as the phone shattered into pieces. He wouldn’t need it anymore.
Dustin gathered the last of his strength and shifted into the light-furred wolf form that had become his second skin. As a Wolf, the effects of these past couple weeks were even more visible, not hidden beneath baggy clothes. His fur was thin and patchy, clinging to the ribs of the severely underweight Wolf. His golden eyes were dim and half-lidded with exhaustion, evidence that the boy had hardly eaten or slept since the day his sister disappeared. Talon had tried to keep the pup on lock-dock, having found Dustin and dragged him back to the den three times now since his leg had healed, but Dustin was small, fast, and agile, and he’d almost perfected how to escape from his own pack. It would take Talon hours to find him, and by then there would be little left to find.
Right now, Dustin was in the very heart of the Council’s territory, carelessly hunting the back allies for the scent of one particular vampire: Draven. That Leech had threatened his sister, that Leech had everything to gain by wanting Lexi dead, so Dustin could not allow that Leech to live. Attaching a Council member in Fang territory was nothing short of suicide but Dustin could care less. He was already broken, already alone with nothing left to lose. Dustin had make the mistake once before of prioritizing his own life over the safety of his family, but this time he would do the right thing. Lexi would be safe… that’s all that mattered.
[b “No Talon, he’s not… well have you tried…? What about the patrols, have they...? No, it’s fine. I’ll let Anton know. We were going to do a blood run tonight anyway. We’ll keep an eye out. Talon, we’ll find him.”] Raven said into her cell, wishing for the hundredth time she could be right there with the Pack when her brother needed her. She had been expecting another call like this, but she could tell Talon was more worried than usual. The Alpha had done everything he could to watch over that kid, but Dustin was broken, and there was only so much the Pack could do to fix him. Raven slipped her phone into her pocket and returned to the living room of the boarding house to find Anton. Over the past two weeks, Anton had taught her a lot about being a vampire and in urn she shared what she could about the wolves. Talon’s pack kept their word, protecting the boarding house but keeping their distance unless invited. Nana was the exception – often stopping in to check on Anton and Raven and to pass along news of the Pack. Both Nana and Talon have been growing increasingly worried about their young initiate, watching the pup wither away to practically noting over the past two weeks. It’s only been recently however, that Talon tried a desperate approach and asked Raven and Anton to try tracking down Lexi.
[b “Anton, that was my brother. Dustin ran off again. This time it was pretty bad… he resigned from the pack and when Talon wouldn’t let him leave, the kid just attacked him. Talon’s got a cut right through his eye, he’s lucky the kid didn’t blind him.”] Raven explained looking troubled. Dustin had been trying to get himself kicked out of the pack for days now, refusing to live in the [i life of luxury] his sister hated so much, but Talon wasn’t willing to give up on the kid just yet. Dustin’s attempts have been relatively minor so far: mouthing off, breaking curfew, fights with other packmates – Talon even caught him with fresh track marks on his arms a couple times – but this was the first time he’d actually attacked his own Alpha! Any other Wolf would have been banished or even killed for such an offense!
[b “Talon’s worried that Dustin might do something stupid. The Pack’s out looking for him now, but he seemed more desperate than usual. What do you say we go take a look for ourselves? If we can’t find Dustin, maybe we can finally track down Lexi. Both those little brats need some sense knocked into them. And if Lexi is as valuable to the Vampire community as you say, I’m worried about what kind of trouble that kid could get into.”]
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