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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Raven could feel the tension linger after Anton left. She knew this wasn’t easy for him and some of that was her brother’s fault. Talon’s dying wish was for Anton to keep an eye on Dustin, and now that the boy was dead, Anton felt responsible. Now the Pack was vulnerable without an Alpha and their list of enemies seemed to keep growing: the Council, Piper, Helena, the Resistance, the Hunters, whatever pack attacked Dustin… Sirhan used to be the most feared pack in the city, but now they were just as fragile as the rest with no easy way to climb back to the top. Anton was carrying that weight on his shoulders the same as Raven was. The difference was that Raven was raised in the Pack, she was trained as a Beta, and was well used to this type of pressure. Anton was not.
[b “I’m sure some of it is the Wolf blood. Loyalty and unity comes naturally to Wolves: it’s in our very nature to protect our pack at all costs. But I don’t know… I think Anton always had an honourable side to him. But like anything else, if you’re called a selfish bastard enough times, you’ll eventually start believing it and acting on it. Like you Candy – you’re not as soulless as people say, are you? You’re brother sure doesn’t think so.”] Raven pointed out, wondering how many of those lost souls down in the slums became that way simply because they started believing all the terrible things people thought about them. Even Dustin was proof of that – he wasn’t a bad kid at first, but the life he lived turned him into one. It wasn’t until he was given a fresh start with the Pack that he could pull himself together.
Raven listened to Candy’s explanation of the drug with a worried crease in her brow. Raven and all the other Bloodborns like her were in danger. It would be safer to keep them all close to the den until these Hunters could be dealt with, but that would severely hinder the pack! Bloodborns were naturally stronger, faster, more agile, more resistant to pain, healed quicker, and were more in tune with their instincts than the Changelings. Confining the Bloodborns to the Den would take their best warriors off the streets!
[b “This isn’t good… When Dustin first escaped Helena, he told us she was working on a way to weaponize Vampire Venom. If she succeeds, she could wipe out our Changelings in a matter of hours, leaving the rest of us succumbing to a slow death or a painful transition into a Hybrid. Not your uncle has a way to slaughter anyone who has even a chance of surviving Helena. We could very well be facing extinction.”] Raven was already troubled by the revelation, but as Candy continued to share the torture her little brother suffered at the hands of his own family, Raven’s lip curled in fury. The thought of a monster targeting a little kid, especially his own flesh and blood! She knew humans weren’t as strict to their loyalty as wolves, but how dare he break the bond of family and experiment on his own nephew!
[b “Baxter’s a good kid. He’s smart, resourceful, skilled… he didn’t deserve what your uncle put him through. I know you still don’t trust us Candy, but I give you my word, that man will not hurt you or your brother again.”] Raven swore. She agreed when she accepted these humans into her pack that she would protect them as she would any of the other Sirhan wolves. Even if it was their own family she was protecting them from.
When Anton returned, Raven dropped the subject. She debated telling him about what Candy said – that the hunter’s drugs could be fatal to Bloodborns, but now was not the time. They could focus on that once Piper had her hearts and the threat of the Council was dealt with. Raven felt her anger build in her chest as they set off to meet Piper. If it were up to her, the treacherous, little Fang wouldn’t be leaving this meeting alive. The trip to the meeting spot was quicker than expected. Raven was far too distracted by recent events to notice the long walk and was a little surprised to find they’d already reached their destination. Up ahead she could already see Piper pacing back and fourth, waiting impatiently for her price.
[#aa0000 “What the hell took you so long? I thought you were… what the hell?! Is that…? Are you… human?”] As the two approached, Piper could see the change in Anton’s appearance and it threw her completely off her game. She could see the darker hair, smell the fresh, warm blood in his veins, hear the steady beat of his heart and the rhythmic pattern of his breathing. The shock was evident on the young girl’s face for a few long seconds before she realized her mistake and quickly regained control of herself, forcing her expression back into its typical sneer.
[b “Don’t act innocent, bitch! Anton told me what you did! You left him for those Hunters; this is your doing!”] Raven growled, taking a threatening step towards the girl who couldn’t help but stair at the former dealer. If she didn’t know Piper better, she could have sworn there was a trace of guilt and apology in her eyes. But Piper wasn’t capable of something as decent as remorse.
[#aa0000 “Of course he told you that. He wouldn’t bother mentioning the fact that I stopped those hunters from tying him down. Or that the only reason I called them in the first place was because he was going to rip me to shreds.”]
[b “No, he was more concerned about the fact that you were withholding information about Dustin’s killer and selling us out to the Council! Now pick up the damn phone and call off the attack, or I’ll be the one to rip you to shreds!”] Raven growled, feeling her anger towards the girl bubbling beneath the surface. Raven was not in the mood for Piper’s games. She took a threatening step forwards, grimly satisfied with the brief flicker of fear in Piper’s eyes before she managed to bury it under a surprisingly somber expression.
[#aa0000 “I can’t.”] Piper started, feeling that fear rise as Raven drew a knife from her bet and took another step towards her. Raven was far too angry to reason with at this point, so Piper turned her attention to Anton. She wasn’t exactly on the best terms with him either, but he at least knew her history. While Piper had been known to double cross and break deals, she hadn’t officially broken any with Anton yet. She just hoped he’d go through with their bargain, giving her the hearts and letting her go, or else she might end up a bloody stain on Raven’s claws!
[#aa0000 “I can’t call them off because I never ordered the attack in the first place. It was an empty threat. You weren’t going to bring me the hearts; I had to say something to convince you to…AGH!”] Piper staggered back as a sharp pain exploded in her shoulder. She peered down on the bloody hilt of a knife buried deep in her shoulder, right between the muscles causing her entire right arm to fall limp and useless at her side. The pain made her breathing hitch and she struggled to contain it, not expecting such a violent attack. Looking up at Raven, she saw the wolf draw a second blade, looking as if her next strike would most certainly kill.
[b “Then there’s no reason to let you walk out of here. Anton? Would you like to do the honours?”] Raven offered, holding out her blade to her partner, feeling that he was entitled to the kill since he’d had past dealings with Piper. As long as they struck one enemy off their list, it was fine by Raven.
[#aa0000 “No, no wait! The Council has Lexi!”] Piper really didn’t want to have to use that precious bit of information, but she didn’t see another way out of this alive! She knew she’d already worn through Raven’s patience and likely Anton’s too. The last thing she wanted to do was piss these Betas off even further, but if she didn’t do something fast, she wasn’t going to survive this. And if she didn’t get back with those hearts, Lexi would be trapped and Dustin would be dead!
[b “You lying bitch! You’re threatening us with Lexi now? Is this another one of your empty threats?!”]
[#aa0000 “I’m not lying! And it’s not a threat! Lexi came with me willingly, but… Anton, she’s with the Doc.”] Piper reasoned, knowing Anton would remember the sinister medic from his time at the Council. He would know Dr. Tavis’ reputation. He was a healer, but only interested in helping himself. He was an expert in his trade, but his services came at a high cost – often one few were able to afford – and if his terms weren’t met he would gladly take a life as collateral.
[#aa0000 “He’s not going to let her leave until I bring him those hearts. Lexi will explain everything once she’s free, but that’s not going to happen if you don’t let me leave with that cooler!”]
[b “I think she’s lying. Piper will say anything to squirm her way out of a fight. But you know her better than I do Anton. I’ll trust your judgement. Is she telling the truth? Or should we stop this traitor’s deals once and for all?”]
The doctor eyed the young girl carefully as he explained her brother’s condition. She seemed to have trouble with the truth that Piper had saved the boy’s life. Clearly, Piper was about as trusted among her supposed allies as she was with her enemies. The girl had betrayed too many people and crossed far too many deals and now she was paying the price. No one believed she was capable of anything heroic or selfless. That was why she was going to die alone, never missed nor thought of when all of this was over.
[#996622 “Medically speaking, the boy was already dead when Piper found him. Her actions did, however, bring him back and keep him alive until I was able to stabilize him, yes. But don’t dwell on the particulars too much, my dear. One good deed is hardly enough to absolve your friend of all the bad she’s done. You should be grateful that Piper won’t be a problem for you much longer.”] Dr. Tavis said, finishing with the transfusion and running some checks on the boy. The blood had certainly helped as Dustin didn’t look quite as pale as he once did, but he was still struggling to breathe on his own, and it was clear he was in desperate need of hearts and moonlight to put him on the path to recovery.
[#996622 “Tell me, girl, are you stupid or suicidal? You stand here trying to convince me to take you in place of that traitor, after I’ve been decent enough to let you and your brother go free? The truth of the matter, Lexi, is that I owed your father a favour and I planned on repaying it with your lives. But if you’re that eager to sacrifice yourself, maybe I will turn you over to Helena. The witch would pay handsomely for the greatest threat to the Council.”] The doctor mused, stillundecided about that he wanted. She was right, turning in Lexi Kane would be far more valuable than the traitor, but Piper had been a personal thorn in his side for long enough, he wanted her to suffer for it. Of course, breaking his deal with Piper had its own concerns. That girl had a way of bringing trouble to anyone who crossed her. But maybe having the Kane twins at his disposal was worth the risk?
[#996622 “I’ll tell you what, girl. Why don’t you talk this over with Piper. If you can convince her to change her deal and let you take her place, I’ll let her go free. Shouldn’t be hard to talk that selfish Fang into terms like that. I’m sure she’ll jump at the chance to live her life and leave you here to die.”] The Doctor said, an amused smile on his face. This girl was far too self-sacrificing for her own good. Didn’t she realize that if she went through with this, her brother would lose any will he had to survive? He would be personally responsible for his sister being turned over to the Council! Not only that, but it’d break any bond he had with Piper to know she went for a deal like that. The bond between the siblings was evident in the first few words Dusting spoke since waking up.
[#ff6622 “L-Lex…safe?”] Dustin wheezed, closing his eyes for several seconds before forcing them back open with growing effort. He was exhausted and in a lot of pain, hardly able to keep his eyes open, but as any great Alpha, he refused to rest until he knew his pack and family were safe. His first concern, however, was Lexi. He didn’t know where they were or who they were with, but Dustin’s wolf senses were overwhelmed with an ominous feeling. The smell of this place – it smelled like death. Dustin didn’t feel safe and if this place was as dangerous as it felt, then Lexi was in trouble too! His twin sister seemed to read his mind, trying to ease it with assurances that his family and his pack were alright.
[#ff6622 “Sir-han? N-no… N-ot… s-safe… warn!”] Dustin started to struggle more, trying to push himself up on his broken arm, only resulting in a whimper of pain and a look of sheer anguish on his bruised face. The pack wasn’t safe! Those wolves that attacked him were trying to take out Sirhan! They wanted Sirhan to blame the Resistance so the two biggest threats in the city would take each other out! Dustin remembered the taunts and mocking as they rubbed in the fact that he was going to be responsible for the deaths of the two packs he cared about! And if they did figure it out and confront the pack head on, they’d be walking into a trap!
[#ff6622 “L-lex… don’t…d-don’t h-hunt!”] Dustin stuttered, trying to put his warning into words. He knew his Betas would want blood once they found out he was missing. He knew Anton and Raven would blame Tray and rush out to confront the Resistance. If by some miracle, the Betas didn’t end up trying to kill the rival Alpha, they would be on the hunt for whoever the real attackers were. He knew Lexi and his father would likely be on the same path, trying to track down the ones responsible for Dustin’s current condition, but if they did, they’d be playing right into the rival pack’s hands! Dustin had to convince Lexi not to track them down, but telling the feisty young Fang not to avenge her twin brother’s attempted murder would be like telling her not to drink blood!
Deep down Anton knew that Raven was only trying to look out for him. She had been there not only to witness the pain from her partners uncertainty when it came through his changes, but also stood by his side as his personal punching bag for his emotions! He blamed her, hated her, ran away from his only friend, ran straight back only to let that wrath build again and every single damn time she stood by his side. During all of this she had been through so much herself. Anton had seen her lose members of her pack, losing a brother, finding another with the uncertainty of his future... it was selfish, deep down to the core how Anton was acting, but it was his nature. All he wanted was to forget about himself and focus on the person who needed saving which right now was Dustin. The attack from the hunters couldn’t have come at a worse time.
Raven’s note about his loss of strength only added to his frustrations. He could already feel his Hybrid strength slipping and his less impactful human muscles taking form. The transformation was happening a lot quicker than he liked and with the type of enemies they had, he wouldn’t stand a chance in his current state.
[b “The kid comes first... I’ll manage...”] He brushed it off but it was clear by the way Anton was clenching his fist and watching his muscles tense that there was an added uncertainty about his words.
[b “I know what happened last time Raven and you ... you tried to save my life and I threw it right back in your fucking face. I’ve wanted to fix that mistake ever since and not as a debt, but... y’know... because I... I care. Alright? I just...this is too much right now. I have far too many demons as a human and... I’ll be right back. It doesn’t matter. Forget I said anything and let’s just focus on getting these hearts to Piper and finding out where Dustin is.”] Anton insisted, his anger already flared and once again, it was all fired at Raven.
Candy kept a fair distance the entire exchange, leaning against the wall with her arms crossed and her brow furrowed. She had seen many sides to Anton Knight but there was something different about his way of words... it was like he actually did care, just like he said. The amount of times she heard those words from his lips and knew the emptiness in them the moment he spoke. It was a surprise and she had to give him something... even his frustration was a pleasure to see. He was angry because he genuinely had feelings. She didn’t want to trust him, nor did she think she ever would but the dealer she was seeing now had changed. She wasn’t sure in this world if it was better to have those feelings or be the numb merciless dealer he once was. While it was just herself and Raven in the surrounding area, she didn’t have much choice but to interact with the other Hybrid and she couldn’t help but laugh as Raven talked about Anton.
[+green “So he’s still a cruel bastard at heart. I know it’s not always the drugs... it just makes it worse. Anyway, it‘s nice to see a different side to him. Sugar, don’t thank me. Right now I’m just buying my time here. If you’re so sure on him then hell, I’m not going to stop you sweetheart! I just wonder what has happened to him to make him so... well, not Anton?”] Candy spoke, staring into the distance Anton walked off in with an expression of questioning on her face. Candy had her questions of her own about when he started to change, if it seemed real, was he just using the Pack for his own gains one day but now wasn’t the time. She could sense the Beta in front of her had her own questions. The question Raven had asked though was one Candy could only return with a look of concern.
[+green “My advice. Don’t get hit by one. I watched my Uncle once testing it... a long time ago... before he... yeah, look... if you have never been human and you have nothing to revert back to, then that’s what it’ll do. It’ll revert you to nothing. Sweetie it’s not pleasant. You’ll start losing your abilities, your strength, you’ll start withering away... I can’t even guarantee a cure. Anton’s lucky. He’s transformed so many times and has that human DNA inside of him, I can use that in his body! You? The others? I don’t know what my Uncle has done to adapt it but if it’s anything like what I saw it could wipe you all out in an instant. He wouldn’t have hit Anton randomly. It is a warning. He wants a wolf to show the city he isn’t insane and what happened to our family wasn’t his imagination. If he doesn’t get that, he’ll just wipe you all out.”] Candy explained and seeing her little brother had wondered off and got distracted, she took her opportunity to explain a little more about herself,
[+green “I hate what happened to my family, but I hate what my Uncle became. I was already off the rails before anything happened but he started to try and drag Baxter into his little games. He was testing on him... those track marks you see on his arm? They weren’t from me forcing my brother to use. That was from my Uncle. I found out and had to get him out of there. I still have to inject him with medicine to try and counteract all the shit my Uncle put him through. I may look like a monster, but I’m not. I’ll do what I can to help you guys but be careful of him... he might not have been insane when he tried to explain the truth, but ever since no one believed him, he really is going insane.”]
Candy had no time to continue as Anton returned with a freezer bag across his shoulders. He didn’t look the two in the eye, instead he started straight for the door.
[b “Well if you’re coming with me to make sure this goes smoothly, we better get moving. Piper doesn’t like to be kept waiting and I’m not ruining our one opportunity to find some truth in this. Even if it is from that bitch...”] Anton insisted as he headed towards the meeting spot that Piper had planned.
Lexi had a bad feeling about this place and the doctor inside the moment she stepped in, but as he explained his nature behind his actions he was only proving he was like the rest of the Council. Cold, heartless, only in it for themselves. Usually in these circumstances, Lexi’s tongue would race faster than her rationale and she would argue back. She didn’t stand back against these types of Vampire’s and knew better than to have the narrow view that they were all selfish, but with her injured twin by her side she knew better. For once she kept control and didn’t answer back. Instead she kept her focus on Dustin, wishing she could have been there sooner for him. She had to get him out of here and she wasn’t sure the doctor was going to let him go easily. If he made a deal with Piper to fix him, did that mean she would have to prepare to create a deal to let him go? She’d do whatever it took. If anything she owed the doctor, not Piper! Piper shouldn’t have been chasing around after the debt. If she had known the truth from the start rather than being so quick to judge... but how couldn’t she? After everything that had happened, Lexi was starting to lose all the truth she had in the world.
[+orange “If she didn’t get to him when she did he would have died wouldn’t he?”] It wasn’t really a question for Doctor Tavis, more of a realisation of just how once again she was close to losing her brother. She closed her eyes as she listened to how it would have been kinder to let him go. She had heard that before... when he was on the recovery table after she tried to kill him. Helena’s voice was echoing in her mind, triggered by the words of the doctor, and Lexi had to take a few controlled deep breaths to bring her focus back to what mattered. She owed Piper and she knew her brother would be concerned for her as well. As much as Lexi had her reservations about the girl, she had to come up with something.
[+orange “You don’t have any use for the potentially the next Council leader? I know there is resistance against me but they also want me. Helena would have killed me while she had the chance. You have a little girl who makes more enemies than friends running around doing errands for you, and for what Doctor? For her to run out of use? I can see you are an intelligent man by everything you have done and I am grateful, please don’t see me as otherwise. However I think I have more use to you than you’re willing to admit. Just think about it...”] She was sure she was pulling strings at this point but she had to come up with something. She wasn’t a fool. Somehow Lexi didn’t think this would be the last time she would encounter the Doctor and she didn’t seem to trust everything he was saying...
Just as she was about to continue, the pained grown that came out of her brother immediately pulled her attention away and all her focus shot to her twin. She reached for a wet cloth that was by her side and gently wiped away some of the sweat that had dotted across his forehead as gently as she could. She knew every single touch would have only been more agony, but she didn’t know if she was ready to talk! She wanted Dustin to know someone was there for him, but at the same time she wasn’t sure she was ready to admit it was her by his side. What if she made him worse? What if he was still scared of her? Only she wouldn’t have a choice. As he said he name, she felt a lump jump into her throat and her hand started to shake in his. Last time it was the injuries she had caused which was was fighting to survive from. He was still battling that, plus the extra injuries she couldn’t keep him safe from... there was so much guilt, but he was calling for her. Looking at her. Did he not hate her?
[+orange “Dusty it’s me. It’s Lex. Don’t move too much. You’ll be ok. Piper will be back soon, I promise. I’m going to be here with you for as long as I can. I’m not letting you go through this alone, ok?”] Lexi whispered to him softly. She wasn’t used to this. Usually there was someone by her side. Despite everything she was feeling, there was a smile slowly growing on her face. She hadn’t had time with just her and her twin in so long. They went from surviving with just each other, to fully joining the pack together and being surrounded by so many people.
[+orange “And I’m not letting you out of my sight. Not again. You get yourself in far too much trouble. You just have to hang on until Piper comes back and you’ll be better in no time. The pain will stop.”] Lexi continued to reassure, feeling the weight of her words against Piper hitting her harder. Dustin’s first call out wasn’t to his sister, it was to Piper and Lexi was seeing her as the enemy!
[+orange “The others are ok. The Pack is alright and dad’s fine too. For once look after yourself.”]
Raven could feel the pressure building. With Dustin missing, it was up to the two Betas to ensure the safety of the pack, but it seemed they had enemies on all sides. The Council, the Rival Packs, the Resistance, the Hunters, and now whatever scheme Piper had worked up… They had no allies left outside of their pack and yet it seemed the entire city wanted them dead. Anton was right about the hearts – losing any of their supplies at such a crucial time was dangerous, but the threat of Piper and the Council was even more deadly. Normally, Raven would lean towards action: going out and stealing more organs for Piper so as not to deplete their supplies, but now Raven wasn’t sure they could risk it.
[b “Piper can’t be trusted. We all know she’ll jump at the chance to betray us as soon as a better deal comes along. Better to not give her the opportunity to change her mind. I’d say she sooner we get that Fang off our backs, the better. Besides, like it or not Anton, you’re not at full strength right now, and we’re going to need you ready to fight for when we go after the monsters that hurt Dustin.”] Raven told him. She knew Anton hated being babied as much as she did, so she needed him to understand she wasn’t doing this just for his own protection, it was for the greater good of the pack. Yet despite her best efforts, she still found herself victim to Anton’s sharp tongue.
[b “Anton, the last time I took this choice away from you, it led to the two of us not speaking for over a week, banishment from the pack, capture by the Council, torture and a near death sentence all because I broke the trust we built between us. I learned from my mistakes. I’m not going to take that choice away from you again; I just want you to think about this. Don’t take the medication just because you think it’s what Sirhan expects from you. Human, Hybrid, Fang, it doesn’t matter. You’re still our Beta and you’re still my partner.”] Raven insisted, ignoring his hostile tone and keeping her own voice as firm as possible. She needed him to know she would support any decision he made, she just didn’t want him to regret it later.
As Anton headed off to the stockpile to collect what he needed, Raven dispatched a team of four very capable wolves to replenish the traded goods. Once everything was taken care of, she turned to hear what their newest addition to the pack had to say. She was a little surprised to hear Candy excusing Anton’s behaviour and informing Raven how to look out for him. From what she’d heard up until now, she thought the woman despised Anton. Of course, in Raven’s own experience, it was hard to hate someone that much unless you actually cared for them at one point. Maybe there was more to Anton and Candy’s shared past than either party had been willing to tell Raven. Whatever their story was, it would have to remain a mystery until this was all over. With a grateful nod, Raven accepted the advice, once again showing trust in the newest members of her pack.
[b “Anton and I have both said cruel things to each other over these past few months, and we can’t blame it all on the drugs. So far, we’ve made it through. I’m not going to turn by back on Anton now. But thank you Candy, for everything you’ve done.”] Raven told her. There was another question on her mind, but Raven was a little hesitant to ask. She told herself it was because she didn’t want to ask too much of Candy when she was already exceeding expectations for a human joining a wolf pack. But the reality was that Raven was a little fearful of the answer and for the normally fearless wolf, the thought of something scaring her that badly was deeply unsettling. But Anton would need a few more moments to get the hearts together and as much as she wasn’t sure she wanted the answer, she needed to hear it.
[b “Candy, if that drug is capable of turning a creature back into a human… what would it do to someone who was born a creature?”] Raven asked. For centuries there was a hierarchy in the wolf community: Bloodborns were always above the Changelings. They were naturally faster, stronger, more at ease in their wolf form, with less painful transitions, and a stronger connection to their packs. They were more resistant to Vampire and Hybrid venom, faster to heal under the full moon, and overall more resilient. But what if a Bloodborn took a drug that was designed to turn a Changeling back into a human? If the drug targeted the wolf DNA, leaving only the human left… what would happen if there was no human to begin with?
Raven glanced at the clock. They were running out of time to meet with Piper and there were only a few hours of night left. If they missed meeting Piper now, they’d have to wait a full day before it was safe for the Vampire girl to step outside again, and by then the deal could be called off and the Council could be plotting their attack!
[b “We better move. I’ll go with Anton and make sure this deal goes smoothly.
Piper didn’t bother explaining herself to Lexi. The girl would see for herself what this was all about as soon as the Doctor pulled back that sheet. She’d know that Piper lied about Dustin’s death and hopefully she’d understand why. She’d see the drastic condition Dustin was in and know that this was life or death. She’d understand why Piper had to bring her here to save her brother’s life and why she couldn’t just explain all this along the way. If Helena ever found out that Dustin survived… No, Piper wouldn’t risk that, even if it meant never seeing her friend again once he recovered. Piper had hoped her deal would buy her two favours: save Dustin’s life and remove that damn bullet from her neck so she could be around Dustin without putting his life at risk. But the Doctor’s last negotiation ruined all of that. With the bullet still in place, Piper couldn’t risk being anywhere near Dustin once he was up and talking again. He was only safe so long as Helena thought he was dead. Of course, none of that even mattered if Piper couldn’t get the hearts needed to save Dustin’s like in the first place! So she hurried across the city to the place she’d told Anton to meet her, hoping her threats were enough for the Hybrid to keep his side of the deal.
Meanwhile, the Doctor was talking his time studying the girl in front of him. He had heard of the Kane family, but hadn’t had the chance to meet any of them in person. He couldn’t help but laugh at Lexi’s first presumption – this child had clearly been spending too much time with those wolves.
[#996622 “Little girl, Loyalty has nothing to do with this. Your wolf pack friends might have convinced you that loyalty and trust were some powerful bond that overcomes all, but here in the real world, we vampires know different. Loyalty doesn’t exist. We are selfish – that’s human nature and it only grows stronger when you turn. That’s why I’m helping your brother. I am in full support of the Council, but your little friend offered me a better deal. That’s the only reason I’m doing this.”] The doctor explained, certainly not aiming to set Lexi’s mind at ease. He didn’t care what happened to the Kane children and were it not for his deal, he would have dumped Dustin off with Helena the moment Piper dragged him through the door. But there were few vampires in the Council as resourceful as Piper. She was useful – at least enough for a few favours.
The doctor watched as Lexi was stunned into silence. Clearly the sight of her brother alive was a shock… or was it just his current condition that disturbed her so much? Either way, the girl would be rather useless until she got over her initial surprise, so the doctor busied himself with setting up the transfusion machine and waited for the inevitable questions. He knew the boy was still awake judging by the painful wince he gave when he felt a hand clasp around his own. With a couple broken fingers and a sprained wrist, even that small act of comfort was likely painful, however, it seemed to do more good than harm. While conscious, Dustin was still very disoriented. Not knowing where he was or who he was with, he feared each and every touch would bring more pain. It was a visible relieve when the hand holding his only offered comfort. Dustin seemed to relax a little at the contact, despite the pain, and even tilted his head towards whoever was sitting beside him, as if naturally trusting them.
[#996633 “Front what your friend said, the boy was beaten within an inch of his life. She had heard the cries and went to investigate, showing up just in time to see a pack of wolves tie him down and toss him into the river. Piper dove in after him.”] The doctor explained, a little surprised someone as self-centered as Piper hadn’t bragged about that bit. It wasn’t often she did anything that could be considered heroic, so when she did, she usually wanted the world to know.
[#996633 “By the time she got him here, the boy had been clinically dead for 17 minutes. It would have been too late for any human, but these wolves are more resilient than I thought. I resuscitated him, got him fairly stable, but there’s extensive damage to his lungs and heart, along with several broken bones, ribs, a damaged spleen, severe concussion… Quite frankly, my dear, it would have been a kindness to the boy to let him die. But Piper insisted I had to keep him alive no matter what the cost. I’ve reconstructed the broken bones, mended the internal damage, and cleaned, stitched, and bandaged the rest. With your blood to replace what he’s lost, a few hearts to stimulate the Wolf healing process, and a few days of basking in the moonlight, he should survive.”] The doctor said, starting the transfusion as he spoke. He pressed the needle into Dustin’s bruised skin, earning another wince from the boy, but soon the painful sting just melded into the rest of the pain his body was in.
Doctor Tavis had to admit, it took much more effort to save the boy than he’d originally thought. Who was another reason he renegotiated his deal with Piper. His original deal traded Dustin’s life, and a surgery to remove Piper’s bullet in exchange for 3 months of service from Piper, wherein she would get any ingredients, tools, and resources he’d need, she’d do whatever task she’d ask her to, and would essentially be his little slave for the next 3 months. But that was when he thought such a service was well worth the cost. Now, he was putting out quite a lot of effort and Piper didn’t seem to be quite as skilled as he remembered. At least there were other ways he could get his value out of her. That was why it was so laughable when Lexi offered herself instead!
[#996633 “This isn’t a negotiation, girl. I don’t have any use for you. Piper will work for me until she pays off most of her debt, then I’ll sell her off to cover the rest. That girl has quite a price on her head. I guess that’s what happens when you double cross everyone you deal with.”] There was no concern in telling Lexi his plans for Piper as he was sure the girl already knew. Piper’s hopes of escaping this alive disappeared the moment she learned that bullet was staying in her neck! Now there was no where she could run or hide where the Council couldn’t find her.
[#996622 “I’m not doing this to betray the Council, kid. I’m doing this because I find it endlessly amusing to watch Piper squirm under a deal she can’t get out of. She’s crossed me enough times. I think it’s about time she gets a taste of her own medicine. Don’t worry though, Lexi. Your brother will be healed and released into your care as promised. I’m not interested in unnecessary bloodshed. But don’t waste your breath bartering for Piper – that girl is as good as dead as soon as she outlives her usefulness.”]
[#ff6622 “P-pip…”] A weakened groan came from the table and Dustin struggled to open his eyes. His mind was still muddled and confused, but he thought he just heard someone say they were going to kill Piper! Everything hurt and Dustin longed for the painless, abyss of sleep, but he couldn’t rest without finding out the truth. Was Piper in danger? Who was threatening her? Where was he? Was that… was that Lexi?! Dustin blinked rapidly, trying to clear the fog from his eyes. One was nearly swollen shut, while the other was disturbingly red from a burst blood vessel. But through the haze he could make out the shape of someone beside him. He knew it was his twin. He could sense her far better than he could see her. Why was she here? Didn’t she leave him again? Dustin knew he should be asking these questions aloud just to be sure she was real, but he was in so much pain, all he wanted was the comfort of his sister. It was selfish and probably foolish, but Dustin didn’t care. He let his head fall in the direction of his sister, relishing in her presence and ignoring the nagging questions in the back of his mind.
Anton had always been a lost soul. Every transformation he had been through involved conflict, loss, pain... he transformed from greed, to wrath, to...well... whatever he was as a Hybrid. Caring? Dominant? Over-protective? Uncertain. It was the only word that seemed to be a continuous shadow throughout his life and one that seemed to stick to him like tar. It was also the one word he was only certain about. He didn’t know what to make of this, or what to do, or how to feel. With each aching beat of his heart followed by a rush of air into his lungs which he hadn’t felt in years, all he wanted was for time to freeze. He couldn’t think. His human nerve endings were far more sensitive than previous. The lashings he took to his back burnt and the pain he could usually easily hide was now shining on his expression. What was worse was that he could feel that itch... the craving for something stronger. Humans were selfish and susceptible to anything addictive. As a Vampire it was a form of habit and selfishness. As a Hybrid he had the capability to defeat it. Now as he was facing being human again, his body was on overdrive.
[b “I’ll calm down once Dustin is found dead or alive! Fuck Piper, that little snake has been pissing me off for too long and you don’t have to worry about what will come to her if she doesn’t abide by her side of the deal. Argh! Fuck! Damn it Candy give me something to make the pain stop!”] Anton insisted but Candy had no intentions of giving him anything more than he needed. She could already see the signs of his former addiction and she wasn’t going to piss off the Pack by making their Beta an drug-user again. Also she kinda couldn’t help but think that Anton somewhat deserved this. Not that she’d admit it to anyone else.
All Anton could do was nod to Raven’s question as she asked about the Council. It was the last thing Sirhan needed at this stage. They had been barely surviving. The last 24 hours had proven just how many enemies they had out there and if one more came in for an attack, it was certain they wouldn’t be able to hold their own. If playing Piper’s little game would keep the Pack safe and get Anton one step closer to protecting Dustin, he’d do it. He owed too many people that promise.
[b “You’re sure we can take from the stockpile? I’m in pain but that doesn’t mean I can’t go out and steal Raven. I don’t need the Pack to do my dirty work. We just need to stop surrounding me, and move on! It’s a dart! He’s drugged me, that’s it. Nothing bad. Can everyone just stop making a fuss when our Alpha is out there un-found.”] Anton growled, not liking all this attention. He could see the Pack trying not to stare. The sympathetic look from Baxter. The hidden revelations from Candy which he was sure she was excited to tell. Raven’s concern... Anton was used to the support of the Pack but when it was so directed, it was overwhelming. He’d gone from someone who was invisible to the world and left to die in a gutter, to someone who actually mattered to someone! As he stared in the mirror at his own reflection, watching the changes taking place he could feel a self-hatred bubbling up inside him. He was so distracted by the feeling, he barely noticed that Raven stopped Candy in her tracks until Raven’s proposal sprung into his ears...
[b “Free? Are you fucking kidding me Raven?”]
Raven was his best friend. His partner. The only person he trusted. But with so much emotion piling on Anton, that self-hatred was on a knifes edge.
[b “Free for what? As a human I was left to die in a gutter. As a Vampire I was a selfish bastard running away from someone else’s control. As a Hybrid I...I don’t even know! I became a Beta who couldn’t keep a deal! What exactly am I meant to be free of Raven!? I’ve been through so many transformations and had so many chances and for fucking what?”]
[+blue “Raven I think he’s feeling strong human emotions it’s getting a bit too much for him and...”]
[b “Don’t read me kid! I’ve changed so many times and I’ve started to care and why? For what? To watch everyone I care about die around me? Maybe I should go back to a human because no one will fucking care. I won’t let anyone down.”] Anton hissed and he turned to Raven, looking her straight in the eyes with a pained expression.
[b “I don’t even know what I want to be anymore. We’ve been running around saving everyone else for so long and surviving I... I don’t... what’s the point in caring for people if we’re just going to lose them all?”] Anton asked before throwing the mirror he was looking at down to the ground and watching the pieces smash. Forcing himself up to his feet, he winced at every movement, but there was little care for himself.
[b “I just need the hearts...]
Limping towards the stockpile and leaving the group behind, Candy stepped towards Raven and put a hand on her shoulder.
[+green “He’s got time. These are drugs Raven and drugs don’t always have a lasting effect. He could turn back, he might not... but he’s been through a lot of changes. His body might not be able to handle it as it draws closer. I’d say he has two days. Erm, just keep an eye on him. He was self-destructive as a human. He’ll say a lot to hurt you, try and push you away. Listen honey, he doesn’t mean any of it. At least for now. Help him get those hearts to Piper and just keep him focused.”]
Lexi should have felt sympathy for Piper as her explanation. Maybe she should have even apologised. Yet Lexi couldn’t get past the fact that the girl had left her for dead. She left her in the hands of a witch who tormented her so much she tried to murder her brother. All the events that followed, to her brother now being missing and most probably dead, was all because of the decision Piper had made. Whether she had intentions to save Lexi or not, so much destruction followed from that decision that Lexi was losing all faith in the world. She wanted to voice it and to argue back, but the moment she saw the image of her twin brother and how broken he was, her focus shifted to finding him. It seemed impossible and her fathers voice was almost that realisation that she was chasing nothing, but she couldn’t give up.
[+orange “If you don’t let me do this dad you’ll lose me anyway... I’m doing this.”] She insisted but she didn’t once take her eyes away from Piper. She didn’t trust the girl and even as she pulled the knife away, Lexi’s eyes remained fixed.
[+purple “Two hours Piper. If you’re late by even a second we’ll hunt you down. We’ve already lost enough. Not a scratch on her!”] Trey ordered as he approached Eli, grabbing his arm and gently pulling him back as a sign to surrender. They had to trust the decision Lexi wanted to make.
[+purple “Eli we focus on finding the people who did this. It’s all we can do now.”]
With the deal set, Lexi followed Piper and away from her last bit of safety. For all she knew this could have been another trap to satisfy Piper. She might have been walking right into Helena’s capture and back to a world of torment. Without her brother it didn’t matter. If somehow this meant something and the girl she was following was actually keeping her word that it would be worth while, it was the only hope she could cling to. With Trey, Amber and her father, despite their efforts they were following nothing but dead-ends. They weren’t progressing. Each second she spent with them, she was losing her twin more and more.
As they approached the edge of the Council’s territory however Lexi tensed. This had to be a trap. It was dangerous enough for Piper to come here but Lexi was the Council’s number one target! She was the last chance of bringing down the Council and no doubt they wouldn’t hesitate to take her down if they could. Lexi however knew better than to ask Piper any questions. She still didn’t have a reason to trust the girl and as she was taken into the cellar of the butchers shop, the change of scenery didn’t put her at any ease.
The sound of the humming sent shivers down her spine and as the doctor emerged, a part of the real Lexi appeared and she couldn’t help but take a tentative step back in preparation to run if she had to. Instead as the exchanged unfolded between the doctor and Piper, she only seemed more confused than fearful. Why did Piper bring her here, to a random clinic, to see a terrifying Vampire, who she was under threat against if she didn’t complete her deal? Was she hoping Lexi would clean up her mess because if that was the case it would be the last thing Lexi would do!
[+orange “With all due respect Doctor, I don’t want your services and I don’t want a price on my head. If this is why Piper had brought me here, I want nothing to do with it. How do I know you’re still not loyal to the Council?”] Lexi argued, taking another step back to prepare for her exit.
[+orange “I don’t care about Piper’s deal. I have more important things to worry about. I... wait, who? You can’t just think I’ll be a match for a random patient. I...”]
The curtain pulled back and Lexi froze. White noise took over her ears and her eyes couldn’t move from the broken body on the table. She didn’t have to look for too long. Before she even knew it, her legs propelled her towards the table and as soon as she was close enough she gently wrapped her fingers around his hand. She wanted to pull him into a hug. She wanted to hold him close and never let go but once again she was stuck. She didn’t know where she could hold him without breaking something further. She wads even shaking holding his hand!
[+orange “Is he going to make it? Where was he? Where did Piper find him? We’ve been looking everywhere and Trey was right at the scene and... I’m... I’m sorry Dr. Travis I was just... I can’t believe...”] He didn’t even look human. Anyone else wouldn’t believe it was Dustin with how much damage had twin had received. It was a miracle he was alive and Lexi had never been so grateful to see him lying on a hospital table. As the doctor explained he could hear, she opened her mouth to speak but the words didn’t come out easily. She had said so many of the wrong things in the past... she had put so much pressure on her twin brothers shoulders. She made him believe she wanted him dead! What if she said something wrong again?
Instead as the doctor forced the needle in her arm, she didn’t hesitate to extend her arm out and squeeze her hand, trying to force as much of the crimson liquid out of her body as quickly as possible.
[+orange “Did Piper save him? I... she doesn’t deserve the debt. I take back what I said. Anything from now on goes to me. I’ll do anything for my brother.”] Lexi insisted but she bit her lip nervously.
[+orange “I’m scared I’ll say something...”] She started but remembering her brother could hear, she mouthed the next few words.
[+orange “To make him give in.”]
Then she realised how stupid she was being. Why would the doctor care? He was only doing this because he was gaining something from it.
[+orange “Look, I judged Piper far too quickly. Let me take the burden from her. You must be betraying the Council for a reason? You wouldn’t act behind their back so easily just for an easy price. Surely there must be something I can do? If she saved my brothers life, she doesn’t deserve that device in her neck. She gets the hearts she saves my brother. There has to be something I can do? It’s what my brother would want. Too many people are suffering around him and he cares about her. All this work will be for nothing if people keep suffering. Piper is his friend.”]
Raven was worried. Anton wasn’t one to boast about his injuries, so it must have been bad for him to be carrying on like this. What scared Raven more was that she was so worried she was distracted! Growing up in this Pack, Raven learned that injuries and death were just a part of this life. People got hurt and people died, but the best thing for the pack to do was to move on, keep fighting, and protect whoever was left. The fact that she was so worried about Anton she didn’t notice the most crucial details was a big concern. Raven didn’t even pay attention to the sounds of an erratic heartbeat or the laboured breathing. If she’d spared a thought to the strange sounds she would have known that it didn’t match the other humans or wolves in the room and it shouldn’t have been coming from the hybrid! In fact, even when Anton was a vampire, the rapid thumping in his chest was as still and silent as the dead.
[b ‘Anton, calm down! You’re home, you’re safe, you’re ok now. This is all in your head. Hybrids can’t feel any of that. Whatever the humans gave you is probably messing with your… wait, Piper was there? And she let those Hunters drug you? That scheming, treacherous, lying, pint-sized Fang is going to be torn to pieces and scattered across this fucking city once I get my claws on her!”] Raven cursed, assuming the worst in Piper like everyone else seemed to.
[b “She threatened to send the Council?”] Raven growled, fighting to keep her composure and reign in her fury. That bloodsucker had caused enough trouble, it was no longer safe to let her life. Raven knew she couldn’t risk the pack and knowing Piper she already had a contingency to screw Sirhan over if she was killed before the deal was complete, so it looked like they’d have to comply. But that didn’t mean Piper was going to survive this.
[b “It’s alright, we can spare a couple hearts. The police are still cleaning up from the Blood Moon, so security at the morgues and hospitals will be lessened. I can send a team to raid for more organs and we can take a few from our stocks to give to Piper. But once she gives you the info on Dustin and calls off the Council, that little Fang dies. I won’t tolerate threats against my pack, not anymore, and especially not from that traitor!”] Raven stated with an icy chill to her tone. The only reason she hadn’t killed the girl already was because she seemed to do more good than bad while Dustin was alive and the boy certainly had a soft spot for her. But now that Dustin was gone, it appeared Piper was far more harm than good and she needed to be stopped before she did any real damage. She was seething, hardly listening to Baxter’s explanation until she heard Candy’s comment on Anton’s eyes. Raven turned to face her partner, about to argue that Anton’s eyes lost their colour when he turned Vamp, but when she saw Candy was right Raven froze. His eyes, his hair… oh god, his heart! His lungs, his skin, everything was returning to their original human colour – a sight Raven was not familiar with. She had only ever known Anton as a Vampire!
[b “Wait, so Anton is a… He’s…”] Raven couldn’t comprehend this. There was a cure for Vampirism? Not just that, but Anton was reverting from his Wolf characteristics too! He wasn’t a hybrid, not a wolf, not a vampire… Anton was turning human!
She was stilled by the shock of what she was seeing, the warnings from Candy slowly filtering through her mind as if Raven needed an extra few minutes to process what she was hearing, but as Candy reached forwards with the first dose of medication, Ravens hand snapped out and grabbed her wrist.
[b “Wait! Anton, what if… I mean, you have a chance to… Anton, when I turned you into a Hybrid, you hated me for it! You said you felt powerless, that you didn’t get a choice to become a Vampire and now I took away your choice to become a Hybrid! At the time, you would have rather died than live the life of a monster! Now you… you can change all that. You can go back to being human. I think… I think you need to take some time and… I don’t know… think about it? Even as a human, you could still be Sirhan, just like Candy and Baxter. Or if you wanted, you could be with the humans, you could… you could be free from all of this.”] Raven said, her voice strangely timid. She loved that Anton was a hybrid, that she wasn’t the only [i freak] in the pack, that he understood her, but if he truly would be happier as a human, he deserved to have a chance at that happiness. Raven shifted her eyes between Anton and Candy, more and more questions forming on her mind.
[b “Candy, you said this was dangerous? You’re not sure if it’ll even work? Anton, it sounds like a big risk, especially if it’s not really what you want. I mean, do you WANT to be a Hyrbid? Or are you just doing this because of Sirhan? Because of me? Candy… does he have to decide now? How long does he have before he has to take the first dose? If it can wait until we’re back, then Anton would have time to consider what he wants.”]
Leaving the room he looked over to Amber and despite her apologetic look he couldn’t help but smirk in return, just showing his own defeat at Lexi’s defiance. She was a tough nut to crack and there was no resistance against the girl. Putting a hand on Amber’s shoulder and giving her a reassuring look, he too transformed into his wolf form moments after she did. These Vampire’s would need protection and the pair of them were strongest together as wolves. At least if one was taken down, the other would be prepared to leap into action! Also their senses were heightened, which would hopefully either lead them to Dustin or his attackers.
Arriving at the scene Trey was also sniffing around to try and pick up clues. Just as he started to follow a track, he heard Amber’s growl just in time to see Piper slash forward with the blade! Barking in her direction, he jumped straight by Amber’s side, standing defensively by her side!
“You don’t want to be attacked by a third wolf tonight. I suggest you put that blade down.”
Lexi however showed no fear towards the girl. Stepping forward Lexi didn’t stop until she was in dangerous proximity of Piper. It would have been easy for Piper to attack, but there was nothing stopping Lexi at this point from backing down.
“Lexi, back away.”
[#ff00ff “That’s what you told them? No wonder your little wolf pack hates my guts. You left out the fact that I saved your life! Draven threatened to kill you for real if I didn’t convince your family that you were dead! He said he’d kill you and me both if I tried to help you escape! So yeah, Lexi! I left you there so there would be something left of you to save once your brother learned the truth, AND I kept an eye on you and tried to stop you from killing your brother! And I…! No… you know what? Forget it! I’m done trying to justify myself to you! I gave you my terms, either make the deal and avenge your brother or live the rest of your life knowing those Bastards did [i this] and you let them get away with it!”] Piper said before tossing the phone over.
[#777766 “My god… Dustin…”] Even Eli was speechless at the sight of his son lying broken on the bloodstained ground. No wonder Trey had raced back to save Dustin after getting that picture. Anyone who cared about the boy would have been shattered at the sight! Eli felt a heavy dread settle in his heart as whatever little hope that remained for his son being alive was starting to fade. How… how could he have survived this?
[#777766 “Lexi, I lost your brother, I can’t lose you too.”]
[#ff00ff “Relax old man. Like I said, Lexi will be fine. And yes, Lexi, I swear it. I’ll tell you who did this, where to find them, hell, I’ll even tell you the best way to ambush them so you can kill the bastards risk-free.”] Piper promised, pulling her knife away from Lexi and returning it to her belt as a sign of good faith. With how close Lexi was, she could have easily brought that blade to Lexi’s throat and got what she wanted through threats and violence, but that wasn’t what this was about. This wasn’t some trick or manipulation, she really did want Trey and Eli to kill the snivelling mutts that attacked her one-and-only friend. But she needed something from Lexi first. Thank fully, the girl agreed.
[#ff00ff “You heard the girl, Trey, Lexi took my deal so you all better honour it! You know the stone bridge just south of the Council territory? Meet us there in two hours. Lexi will be there waiting for you – unharmed as promised – with all the information you need to avenge Dustin. Now, we’d better go, we’re already late”] Piper stated, backing away from the group with Lexi. Piper didn’t dare take her eyes off the other three until they were a safe distance away. She didn’t trust them not to double cross her and especially by the furious look in Eli’s eyes as he watched his only remaining child disappear.
Piper didn’t see much sense in talking to Lexi as she led the girl towards their destination. She wore a bitter scowl on her face and kept mulling over her recent confrontations with both Lexi and Anton, cursing at the face that neither of them saw her for anything other than a scapegoat. Was Piper selfish? Yes. Untrustworthy? Probably. A good person? Hell no. But was she trying to do right by her best friend? Yes. Unfortunately, no one seemed to notice.
Piper guided Lexi in to the Council territory, to a building right on the edge, mascaraing as a butcher shop to any humans wandering by. But instead of walking through the front doors, Piper led Lexi around to a the cellar door, opening the rickety entrance and hurrying inside. The room was surprisingly well lit inside, not looking like a basement at all – more like a clinic! There were several metal tables, IV stands, desks with all kinds of medical tools, and x-rays hanging on the wall. In the far corner was a curtained off area, hidden from the main entrance, behind which was a man lightly humming to himself as he worked on… whatever it was he was working on.
[#ff00ff “Hey Doc! I brought the girl.”] Piper called out, offering no explanation to Lexi. The humming immediately stopped and the man emerged from behind the curtain, wiping his bloody-gloved hands on a towel as he approached the two girls with a surgical mask covering his mouth and nose.
[#886622 “And the hearts?”] The doctor said in a less-than-impressed tone.
[#ff00ff “I don’t have them yet, but I will…”] The doctor’s audibly disappointed sigh interrupted the young girl’s explanation.
[#886622 “Our deal, Piper, hinges on the fact that you get things done when others can’t. You’re only value is in getting me what I want, when I want it, and apparently you’re not capable of doing that.”]
[#ff00ff “I am! I’ll get the hearts within the hour! I already have a guy working on it!”]
[#886622 “I didn’t ask for the hearts ‘in an hour’, I asked for them now! It seems you’re losing your value Piper.”]
[#ff00ff “No, I’m not! I can…”]
[#886622 “Too late. My price just went up.”]
[#ff00ff “But I don’t have anything else to give!”]
[#886622 “Then it looks like you can no longer afford both of your favours. You’ll have to choose what’s more important to you: removing that bullet from your neck, or having your friend walk out of here alive.”] The doc said, completely ignoring Lexi as he and Piper had their negotiation The girl looked visibly flustered, something Lexi wouldn’t have seen much of in the past. Piper was always smug and apathetic, aside from the time she begged to save Dustin’s life. Piper was clearly torn by her decision and took several long seconds before her eyes fell to the floor. Her hand reached up to subconsciously cover the bullet still lodged in her neck – the one still recording each and everything she said reporting back to Helena now that Draven was dead.
[#ff00ff “I’ll go get you your damn hearts, just make sure he lives. Lexi, stay with the Doc, I’ll be back as soon as I can. He’ll fill you in while I’m gone. Just be careful what you say around me.”] Piper muttered, clearly upset by this turn of events. Without another word she hurried off, leaving Lexi with the creepy Doctor in the Council’s territory.
[#886622 “So you’re Lexi Kane? I imagine you’re quite confused; Piper wouldn’t risk telling you anything with that witch overhearing everything she says. My name is Dr. Tavis Lynch. The Council turned me into a vampire and recruited me to take care of their medical needs, but my services can be bought for a price: as your little friend found out.”] The doctor said, motioning for Lexi to follow him back towards the curtained area.
[#886622 “She had already made me a deal to surgically remove that pesky microphone bullet from her neck so Helena wouldn’t be able to spy on her. But this morning she brought me something far more urgent. I’ll admit, I was surprised Piper even cared for the creature, but as long as I get paid, I don’t much care what she does. Here, have a seat next to the table and hold out your arm. I’ll need a blood transfusion if I’m going to be able to stabilize him.”] The doctor ordered, pulling back the curtain to reveal a shocking sight.
There was a body on the metal table, covered by a thin, bloody white sheet. The body would have been ghostly pale if not for the mess of brown and purple bruising that seemed to cover every inch. His shirt was removed, exposing an angry looking cut down the middle of the boy’s chest and surgical stitches holding the skin back together. Doc must have had to perform a surgery to keep him alive. There was a heart monitor beeping far too rapidly for any human, far more akin to the pulse of a wolf. An oxygen mask covered most of the boy’s bruised and blood face, hiding the broken cheek bones and the caved eye socket, but not completely hiding the identity of the boy Lexi knew so well: Dustin.
[#886622 “Hurry up girl, pull up your sleeve. He needs blood and you, being his twin, are a perfect match. Once Piper brings me the hearts I needs, I’ll be able to get this boy stable. You can talk to him if you want. Believe it or not, he’s conscious. Too risky to put him out for the surgery, so he screamed himself hoarse, but he can still hear you. Just make sure you don’t say anything about the boy being alive in front of Piper. If Helena knew he survived she’d be done here to claim him.”] The doc said, explaining why Piper had been insisting to everyone that Dustin was dead. In her own way, it was her own attempt at keeping him safe! Without waiting for consent, the doctor jabbed a needle into Lexi’s arm, hooking the other end up to some sort of machine that would cleanse it of the Vampire venom so it would be safe to give Dustin.
Anton might have been a bloodthirsty dealer, both in his mortal life and since both his transformation but he was also usually calculated, thoughtful, and always coaxing a stronger deal. Over the last few months that ability had been slipping from his grasp. Now as he was pinning a young and defenceless girl beneath his weight, threatening to take his life, the difference in tactics was far different from when he started. He had been pushed around with orders, lack of trust, and now he was being told what to do by the one girl who had tried to control him form the beginning! So much had happened and he was now so attached to different kinds of people, the pressure of making sure they survived this after everything they had been through was testing his behaviours. Now he was Beta that pressure was even higher! People no longer just looked at him as a friend, they had even higher expectations. As he stared down at Piper with crazed and desperate eyes to get out of this without being controlled, he began to wonder just how much things had changed.
Listening to Piper list all the things she had done to support Sirhan, himself, and everyone he cared about only created a higher level of conflict in Anton’s mind. He knew she was right but he was so desperate to get out of this mess and this control battle that the truth was misted by his desire to end it all! It would have been that point he would have lost his cool completely, until Piper pointed out the one thing that would always make Anton freeze.
He failed his end of the deal.
He promised Piper he would keep Dustin safe.
He promised Eli and Lexi he would keep Dustin alive.
He promised Talon that no harm would could to the kid.
Anton had failed them all.
The words sent a sickening sucker punch to Anton’s gut and it was like his heart had jumped to his throat. Even if the boy somehow miraculously survived , Anton let him get hurt. Not just once did Dustin almost die by the hands of his sister, but just after Talon died he almost lost his life again if it wasn’t already gone! That was just hours after! Dustin even trusted him. He made Anton Beta!
There had been very little occasions in which Anton had failed and when he did, he usually had a way to make up for his loss. In some cases he was so cold he didn’t care! This on the other hand was different. The realisation sent a level of self-hatred and guilt he had never felt. It gave the hunters the perfect opportunity to attack and once again if it wasn’t for Piper’s quick intervention, he would have been caught.
By the time he was at Sirhan territory his vision was almost clouded over. He could feel himself slipping between consciousness and unconsciousness. The itch from his past addiction was itching but he was having other odd sensations as well? He could feel his lungs filling with more air, his heart beating harder than it did before. His eyes were stinging and he could feel the pain of the lashing much more intensely then he would usually. It must have been an odd reaction to the drug and by the time he managed to get inside, he was grateful to be in a place of safety but Piper’s words were in the back of his mind!
[b “No, I don’t need the medics! We need hearts! Damn it I said fucking leave me alone!”] Anton hissed as the medics tried to check him over, using his hand to bat them away. It wasn’t until Raven had managed to sit him down that he started to compose himself.
[b “Why don’t you ask that bitch why I’m in this condition? Eh Candy! Nice to know your Uncle is the hunter who tried to kill us before and tried to capture me tonight! Did you want to share that with us before or after he finished the job? What about you, you little brat?”] Anton hissed towards both Candy and Baxter, hissing as Raven tilted his neck to look at the dart wound.
[+green “Wait… you… you said it was my uncle who did this?”] Candy asked but there wasn’t any anger on her face, only concern. She looked at Baxter, confirming her thoughts through his knowing eyes, and quickly rushing forward to inspect Anton.
[b “I knew it was a mistake bringing you here. We had a fine selection of junkies to pick from and we pick the one with a blood crazed uncle! Damn, it’s burning. My eyes are burning and my heart feels like it is going to beat out of my chest! Can you just get me something to stop it and get something right?”]
Anton’s words didn’t seem to faze Candy or her inspections. She stared for a few long moments, before grabbing Baxter and disappearing to her room where her make-shift lab was. While she was gone, Anton grabbed Raven’s wrist gently and stared at her with desperation.
[b “I met Piper. She knows something about Dustin. It didn’t sound hopeful but Raven I’ve let he kid down. I failed I… you gotta help me with this. You’ve got to swear to help me with this! I need hearts. I know we have enough here but the Pack is on its last legs. One more hit and we’ll need the full supply to keep enough of us alive to fight back. If we don’t do it she’s going to send the Council but that’s not what this is about. I… I wasn’t meant for this. I had one job and that was to look after the kid.”] He was opening up, more than he would in front of anyone else and he was glad Candy left when she did. Raven was the only person he dared open up to and the pain in his eyes which had built from Piper’s words were growing minute-by-minute.
[b “If that information will get us information to Dustin I need to do this. I’m not staying here and resting…”]
[+green “You might have to.”] Candy intervened, carrying a collection of syringes and pills with Baxter by her side.
[+green “Bax, sweetie, tell this judgemental… sorry… tell our Beta why I’m the best cook while I get things ready.”] Candy asked, setting up a small station by Anton’s side as she stared him over, checking his symptoms.
[+blue “Our uncle was one of the best chemists in the city. He had hopes of Charlotte, I er, mean Candy, becoming his successor. He taught her everything and just as she started to do well in school, she fell into a bad crowd. Used her skills to…well, y’know. Anyway my uncle was heart broken, took a walk in the woods with our auntie and they were attacked by a werewolf. Slashed his face which is why he has those scars. Killed his wife. He came running back telling us and we laughed thinking he had gone crazy. Loads of bad things happened. He got kicked from his job because they thought he was mentally unstable and delusion. Police investigated him for murder of our Auntie. From that day he swore to hunt the monsters down. Never would have guessed he would have been right.”] Baxter admitted before turning his attention to Raven.
[+blue “We’re sorry we never told you. We were scared you would turn us away, but he started to hunt us down too.”]
[+green “That doesn’t matter. Listen, Sugar… nice blue eyes you have.”] Candy interrupted, grabbing Anton’s face and looking him straight in the eyes. His usual yellow eyes which turned from vampirism, had started to shine a deep sapphire blue.
[b “What the fuck are you talking about?”]
[+green “And nice brown hair… well, it’s still mixed with the white. I forgot you were a handsome devil as a human.”]
Not getting what was happening, Anton looked at Raven for confirmation and what Candy was saying was right! His eyes had changed and slowly but surely his crisp white hair was slowly turning back to his original colour. It wasn’t until Candy held a mirror up to his face that he started to see the change for himself.
[b “What the… what’s he fucking done to me!?”]
[+green “He told me he was planning this. A reversal drug. He wanted to find a way to reverse anyone who was once human back to their original state. Save them from the monsters. It looks like he’s started to master it. You’re lucky we caught this in time. We should be able to reverse it but it will take time. You’ll need a lot of medication if it works. You’ll be weaker in the meantime… feel pain more intensely. Your addiction will probably feel stronger, especially after just being drugged. I can’t promise anything Anton. I had this prepared just incase but its an experiment. You’re in an odd mix of all three species. It’s…erm…well, sugar, it’s dangerous and no guarantees.”]
There was a long silence that followed as Anton looked down towards his hands. He wasn’t even as deathly pale anymore. Some colour was slowly returning. He grabbed the hand-held mirror from Candy’s hand and looked at himself. There was no glee for the reversal. No sudden joy. Instead he looked empty. There was only one thing on his mind now.
[b “This isn’t going to stop me getting those hearts. Give me whatever medication I need but me and Raven need to get moving.”]
Back on the other side of the city, Trey listened to Eli’s reasoning. It was fuelled by vengeance, pride, and of course fatherly love. As much as Trey had challenged Eli he couldn’t deny how much the father cared for his children. He had been through Hell and watched his children fall even deeper. Trey cared for both Dustin and Lexi and he knew how much he had let them down recently, but he wondered how much pain Eli must have been going through. This was no longer about seeing the father-of-two see sense. It was supporting his decisions but making sure they were went through with care and protection. Trey was no longer in a position to be telling them what to do, but he could make sure that they stayed alive throughout this. With every second used to find Dustin, the more dangerous it was becoming. Eli was right - the least Dustin deserved was to put an end to whoever attacked him. The chances of finding the kid were slimming, but that shouldn’t mean that they all had to give up.
[+purple “You’ve got my backing Eli. I’ll be by your side. Lexi still needs a father and if we do find Dustin alive, I’m not letting him come back to find either of you hurt. My only question is if you’re sure Lexi should be with us? It’s more of the family in danger and…”]
Before Trey could finish his sentence, Lexi put her stance on the decision she had made. This family was stubborn, but he couldn’t deny that they had strength in their hearts. If Dustin was here and could see just how much people cared for him, then maybe he wouldn’t have been so reckless.
[+purple “Your father is right Lexi. No rash decisions and we stick together. Walking away isn’t an option.”]
[+orange “We do whatever it takes to find who did this to Dustin or find him. I’ll stay by you if I have to, but my brother comes first no matter what. I can’t make any promises.”] Lexi argued and she could see the resistance instantly on Trey’s face. As he tried to argue, she crossed her arms and glared at him, daring the Alpha to challenge her decision. Running his hands through his hair, he signed in defeat and nodded reluctantly to the pair.
[+purple “Safety first. That’s all I ask. Let’s get moving.”]
Leaving the room he looked over to Amber and despite her apologetic look he couldn’t help but smirk in return, just showing his own defeat at Lexi’s defiance. She was a tough nut to crack and there was no resistance against the girl. Putting a hand on Amber’s shoulder and giving her a reassuring look, he too transformed into his wolf form moments after she did. These Vampire’s would need protection and the pair of them were strongest together as wolves. At least if one was taken down, the other would be prepared to leap into action! Also their senses were heightened, which would hopefully either lead them to Dustin or his attackers.
Arriving at the scene Trey was also sniffing around to try and pick up clues. Just as he started to follow a track, he heard Amber’s growl just in time to see Piper slash forward with the blade! Barking in her direction, he jumped straight by Amber’s side, standing defensively by her side!
[+purple “You don’t want to be attacked by a third wolf tonight. I suggest you put that blade down.”] Trey ordered.
Lexi however showed no fear towards the girl. Stepping forward Lexi didn’t stop until she was in dangerous proximity of Piper. It would have been easy for Piper to attack, but there was nothing stopping Lexi at this point from backing down.
[+purple “Lexi, back away.”]
[+orange “You left me with Helena. You left me to that Witch. She controlled me. She made me do things I’d never forget. She made me almost killed my brother and you left me with her.”] Lexi spoke, her voice chillingly cold.
[+orange “If it wasn’t for that I might not have almost killed him. If it wasn’t for that he might have been strong enough to survive whatever happened to him tonight. Is this your plan again Piper? To take me somewhere and leave me? I think my family have suffered enough.”] Lexi challenged and as she did, she caught the phone in her hands.
[+purple “Lexi you hand that over! Do not look at that phone!”] Trey ordered, instantly recognising his phone and knowing what would be on it. He would have stepped forward and intervened, but Lexi was so close to Piper and he didn’t trust that an attack wouldn’t happen!
Of course Lexi had no intention of listening. Shakily she looked down and as soon as she saw the broken and bloody body of her twin, she could feel the tears brimming in her eyes. Behind the sadness however was a decision. There was a new fire in her stare and she clutched the phone so tightly, he pale knuckles turned even whiter!
[+orange “You know who did this?”] Lexi asked, lifting up the phone so the image was clear for everyone to see.
[+orange “Trey, Amber, dad… I said my brother comes first. He’s my twin. I’ll come with you Piper. You swear to me here and now that you’ll tell me who did this! Swear to me!”] Lexi demanded and to emphasise her point, she took another step closer to Piper’s knife was literally pressing against her stomach.
[“orange “Look me in the eyes and swear to me this isn’t another trick. This is for Dustin and if you give a damn about him you’ll swear in front of everyone here.”]
[+purple “Lexi! I am ordering you to step away!”]
[+orange “He’s my brother! I’ll do what I want! You have Piper’s scent and you know the scent of my blood. If anything happens, you can find me. You all need to keep tracking for Dustin. The more we argue here, the more time we have wasted. You saw the picture. He… I… I need to do this. Come on Piper. You have me for the next few hours. This best not be a trick.”]
Piper hated feeling powerless, and despite the brave face she wore, it was unsettling being pinned beneath the larger, stronger Wolf. She knew if things got really bad she could always bite him. Vampire venom may not be fatal to Hybrids, but surely it would hurt him enough to get him to back off, right? Not that Piper wanted it to come to that. As much as she boasted and mocked Anton, she did need him to come through on his side of the deal. If he didn’t get her the hearts that she needed, Piper wasn’t sure what she’d do! For all her manipulative and underhanded ways, Piper was still just a young girl, she wasn’t a murderer, and she’d never be able to rob a hospital by herself. She needed those hearts, and if Anton wasn’t going to get them for her, she’d have to do something drastic!
This was a dangerous game to play. On one hand, if Piper were to submit to Anton, withdraw her threats, and apologize, she might survive this little encounter, but not with her reputation and dignity intact. But pushing Anton further might result in the Hybrid deciding she wasn’t worth the annoyance and kill her right then and there! The Anton she knew as a Blood Dealing Vampire had been bloodthirsty and vengeful, she thought the promise of revenge would sway him but maybe she was wrong? If she couldn’t barter for vengeance how could she convince him to get the hearts?!
[#ff00ff “Funny, I remember things a little different Anton. I helped you and Raven get out of those Council cells, I reunited Lexi with her father and then after she was captured, I played the obedient little slave to the Council just so they wouldn’t kill her! I’ve helped you every step of the way and despite you promising me favours in return, the ONLY thing I ever asked for was for you to save Dustin’s life! I tried to be nice Anton! I tried to be fair – but if you will only see me as the manipulative, two-faced bitch you think I am, then maybe I should quit trying to prove you wrong? Eh? Maybe I sure be the snake you think I am!”] Piper hissed. She was fully willing to offer him valuable information in exchange for a couple hearts, but if Anton wasn’t going to respond to a bargain, maybe he’d respond better to threats?
[#ff00ff “Fine! If you won’t help me, then I guess I’ll just tell the Council where they can find their own damn hearts. Sirhan keeps a healthy supply at their den, don’t they?”] Piper retorted, letting Anton know that if he didn’t come through with their deal, she’d send the whole strength of the Council back to the Sirhan pack! Piper didn’t care much for the Wolves, but that pack did mean something to Dustin. She didn’t want them to be killed – for Dustin’s sake, not her own – but if it came down to a decision between her own life and the lives of the pack, Piper sure as hell wasn’t going to make any sacrifices for those flee-bitten mutts!
[#ff00ff “Well you’d better accept this deal Anton, because this is life or death for me! If I don’t get those hearts, I pay the price and you can bet I won’t go down without taking all of Sirhan with me! Bring me the hearts, you save your pack AND I’ll give you the name of the bastards that killed Dustin! You have two hours. After that, I take my deal to someone else.”] Piper growled, the pain in her arms from Anton’s sharp claws was finally starting to get to her. She tried to squirm away, but very movement just made those sharp claws carve deeper into her pale skin! When she heard the humans approaching, Piper knew it was her best chance at escape.
She called out to the hunters, only mildly concerned when Anton took the dart to his neck. The druggie could drop dead of an overdose for all she cared, but if he did die here she’d never get her hearts. Piper rolled away from the wolf and hurried towards the safety of the hunters. One of them approached Anton with rope to tie him down, but Piper intervened. She was a good enough actress to play it off as a scared little girl seeking help from her rescuers as she ran up to the man and clung to his arm, incidentally tugging his arm away from the wolf.
[#ff00ff “Y-you saved me! That… That thing! It was gonna kill me!”] Once Anton had a bit of a head start, she released him and turned her teary eyes to the leader, nodding at his order and running off towards town, only to divert her course as soon as she was out of sight. She knew Anton could outrun those humans and right now, she had bigger problems to worry about. Whether Anton came through or not, she needed to find Lexi.
[#aa0000 “Listen Kid, the last outsider that told me they ‘only wanted to help’ ended up capturing me, torturing me into submission, and brainwashing me for over a decade. My father warned me that Wolves can only trust Wolves. If I had listened to him back then, my mother and brothers would still be alive and my pack would still be the strongest in this city! I won’t make that mistake again, not for some pathetic human.”] Shayd growled threateningly, taking an intimidating step towards the boy. Raven, now recovered from her near strangulation, planted herself firmly between the young teen and her older brother. Baxter’s advice had just saved her life. He had earned her respect and she wasn’t going to let him be threatened by a member of her pack.
[b “That human has done more for this pack in the last 6 hours than you have in the last 11 years! Right now, between the two of you, he’s the one I trust more.”] Raven stated. Now that she was over the shock of meeting her brother, she could fall back on her Beta instincts and show a little more authority.
[b “You’re right… if we find evidence that Dustin is dead, then the Pack will look to you as its new Alpha. But until then, Dustin is our Alpha, Anton and I are Beta, and Baxter and his sister are members of this pack.”] She said firmly. Raven was almost glad for the interruption of her fellow pack mate, until she heard the urgency in his voice. Anton was hurt and it sounded bad!
[b “Make sure my brother gets food and water. And get those chains off him. He’ll stay here under watch until we can trust him, but that doesn’t mean we need to treat him like a prisoner. Baxter, come with me. I might need your help.”] Raven said, as she ushered the boy back to the main room. Walking in to find Anton in his current state, Raven snapped at the medics to send someone ever immediately. She was instantly at her partner’s side, forcing him to sit while she looked over his wounds. Raven felt the low growl building in her chest as she saw her partner in such a state. First Dustin went out alone and went missing, now Anton barely made it back home!
[b “I want everyone to pair up on patrol. No one leaves this den alone! Is that understood?”] Raven shouted out to her pack as she placed her hand on Anton’s cheek and tilted his head up so she could see the foggy glaze in his eyes. He was drugged – Raven could tell, but unlike Candy she didn’t immediately assume he’d done it to himself. Raven knew Anton had struggled with his addiction in the past, but he had worked so hard to stay clean. He wouldn’t throw it all away now, especially when Dustin was missing. Anton would never risk the kid’s life for his own former habit!
[b “Anton, what the hell happened out there? Candy, is there anything you can do to counter the drug? That mark in his neck… looks like he was hit with a dart. Anton are you alright? Who did this?”]
[+green “My son is not a survivor, Trey, he’s a protector. Always has been. He will fight and scrap until his last dying breath if it means protecting the people he cares about, but he does it for them, not for himself. When he’s alone, he’s vulnerable. And don’t you dare try to tell me different!”] Eli snapped back, knowing his son far better than Trey was giving him credit for. Eli was right about Dustin and if Trey thought about his experiences with the boy, he’d see it too. When Trey first met Dustin, the boy was alone, defeated, and careless, ready to walk right into the Council territory and get himself killed without a second thought. He didn’t even care if Trey and Tink killed him, not until they shoved him into a cell beside his sister. Dustin only started to fight back when he was reunited with Lexi – whether he thought she hated him or not, she gave him a reason to survive and a motive to fight. But Dustin was running low on people to fight for. For all he knew, his sister and father were better off without him, his Alpha was dead, his mentor had betrayed him, and despite Raven and Anton’s assurances, he didn’t think he was going to be the leader Sirhan needed. If Dustin thought facing his attackers alone would keep his pack out of harms way, Eli didn’t doubt that would be his son’s decision.
[+green “If we have any chance of finding Dustin – alive or dead – our best chance is to start with whoever attacked him. I’ll be clear, Trey, I don’t care whether you help me or not. I won’t rest until the bastards that hurt my boy and put down, before they can go after my daughter. I know the risks, but I guarantee if you ask my Lexi, she’ll give you the same answer. Whoever did this to Dustin needs to be dealt with.”] Eli insisted, his words confirmed moments later as Lexi stepped in adamant that she join the hunt. Eli wanted to protest – to keep his little girl here where it was safe – but his trust for the wolves was waning at the moment. He didn’t trust them to protect her when he wasn’t there and he didn’t trust Lexi not to run off behind their backs! She was just as determined to find her brother’s killers as Eli was. At least if she was close, Eli could keep an eye on her. Who knows what kind of trouble she could get in without him.
[+green “Easy Lexi, you don’t have to argue. I know it’s no use leaving you here, you’ll just run off on your own anyway. Besides, I promised you that we would face our burdens as a family. That’s more important now than ever. I won’t stand in your way, but you better swear to me that you’ll stay with the group and be careful out there. I won’t lose you too Lexi.”] Eli told her sternly. He was already devastated by the loss of his son, he didn’t know if he’d survive the loss of his daughter too!
Amber was waiting for them just outside, shooting her Alpha an apologetic look when they arrived. She was supposed to deal with Lexi, but she didn’t do a very good job of it. The your Vampire was still on a reckless mission and the best Amber could do was back her up.
Just outside the den, Amber shifted into her wolf form, her reddish-fur blending in with the late autumn scenery. It was getting colder as the night went on. The deathly chill was enough to make even the wolf shiver under her thick fur coat. If Dustin was out here in his human form, he could freeze! Yet another reason to find him as soon as possible… or another reason to doubt he was still alive.
Amber led the way back to the scene and tried to pick up the fading scent of Dustin’s attackers. They were definitely wolves, but not ones she recognized. It was hard to pick out their scents over the overwhelming stench of Dustin’s blood. One thing was certain, the boy had lost a dangerous amount during his beating before being dragged to the river. The pack seemed to head off in one direction, but Dustin’s scent wasn’t with them. If they had dumped the boy in the river, there wasn’t much chance of him surviving! But Resistance members were combing every inch of that stream looking for Dustin and hadn’t found any sign of him yet. Amber wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or a bad one.
She was so focused on tracking the pack that she almost didn’t notice the new scent had joined their group. With a sharp twist, Amber turned on the approaching vampire with a vicious growl. She lunched at the new threat, only to find herself being shoved away with the sharp sting of a knife. It wasn’t a deep wound, but the slash across her shoulder did make her reassess her opponent.
[+green “Stop! Wait! Piper? What the hell are you doing here?”] Eli demanded, having far too little patience to deal with the young girl at the moment, but Piper always had a motive and right now her eyes were fixed on Lexi.
[#ff00ff “Seriously? That’s the second time tonight that I’ve been tackled by a Wolf and it’s really starting to piss me off! And you know Eli, I’m really starting to get sick of you ordering me around then treating me like trash, so I’m not going to answer to you anymore. I want to talk to Lexi.”] Piper insisted, finding some twisted satisfaction at the rage that burned in both Eli’s and Amber’s eyes.
[#ff00ff “Look, I don’t have a lot of time, so I’ll make this quick. I need to borrow Lexi for a couple hours.”]
[+green “Absolutely not.”] Eli hissed, followed by Amber’s growl.
[#005500 “Hell no!”] Yet Piper continued as if she hadn’t heard them. She didn’t really care what the older Vamp or two mutts had to say. This was Lexi’s choice.
[#ff00ff “I know you don’t trust me but Dustin did. I saw what happened to him and I want the bastards to pay as much as you do. So I’ll make you a deal: Lexi, if you come with me for a couple hours, I’ll tell your dad and your Wolf friends who did this to your brother.”] Piper offered, tossing Lexi Trey’s missing phone, equipped with the photo of Dustin’s broken and bloody body on the screen. Clearly Piper had come across the device when she was fleeing the scene. It wasn’t pretty, but if anything could fuel the rage and thirst for revenge, it was seeing Dustin in such a crippling state.
[#ff00ff “Just a couple hours, then I’ll bring you back without a scratch, I swear. Come on Lexi, you know if I go back on this deal, I’ll have all of your family, the Resistance, and Sirhan hunting me down. I’m not suicidal! I’ll bring you back unharmed, I just need your help and I can’t explain everything right now.”]
[+green “The wolves can track Dustin’s attackers, we don’t need you. I don’t trust a traitor like you with my little girl. Get the hell out of here Piper!”] Eli hissed and the vampire rolled her eyes, twisting her bloody knife in her hand as a silent implied threat.
[#ff00ff “What is it with you and Anton trying to make all of this so difficult? Come on Lexi, you and I both know what will happen if you refuse. I can’t go back without you, so I’ll have to make threats scary enough to force your decision, and I really would rather not do that tonight. I’ve already been down that road with Anton. So can you please just make this easy for me and agree to come with me? Trust me, you’re gonna want to hear what I’ve got to say.”] Piper challenged.
Baxter had no guarantee that any of his readings were working. He was used to supporting his sister. Ever since he had to run away he was used to reading low life criminals. Sometimes bigger threats would come to his sister, but she would never allow him close enough to put himself in danger. For all he knew, this challenge was one that exceeded his skill level! Shayd had been trapped away from himself for a long time - that much was obvious. The problem was, Baxter had managed to learn Candy’s customers quite quickly! He knew everything about them! Shayd was a complete stranger who he had little-to-no knowledge on. Everything he was commanding Raven to do, was on the small clues he had picked up on in their brief interaction.
When Raven glanced towards him, he gave an encouraging nod for her to open up with her memory. She would have to find something quick and it would have to be the right story! She only had one shot at this. Shayd wouldn't;t listen for too long and if she made one mistake, Baxter wouldn’t be able to protect her with just words! The story was harrowing... this was the type of stuff he saw in movies. He didn’t know this kind of thing happened in real life. It was one thing to learn that Werewolves existed, but to learn about how they had to survive and their code of conduct... it didn’t seem right. Humans, the good ones at least, did everything to keep each other alive. Even forcing themselves to fight through terminal diseases, even if it meant they would ultimately die in pain and suffering. These wolves had a different code of justice and the pain was clear to see on both the siblings faces.
It was enough however. As Shayd released his sister, Baxter couldn’t help but give a sigh of relief. It worked, for now. The Shayd they had broken through too didn’t seem to be as welcoming as what was expected, but Baxter had learned from experience that people didn’t change through one miraculous breakthrough. He would be trapped in his beliefs and to challenge them would only enforce his mindset.
[+blue “I know I’m only a human, and I won’t get in your way. I promise I won’t interfere with the Pack and neither will my sister, but there is a lot that has happened. You can see Raven. She is tired and exhausted. I haven’t been here for all of it, but I’m sure she has some stories to tell. I’m just here to help where I can.”] Baxter spoke, not exactly challenging the Alpha but hoping that in some way if he could make himself useful to Shayd it might buy them some time.
However they didn’t have too long to dwell on each other’s words. A Sirhan patrol came rushing into the cells, his eyes focused on Raven but as he saw Shayd standing next to her, he froze in his steps in sheer shock!
[i “S-Shayd I...I thought... erm... So does that mean?... I’m sorry. Raven, Anton’s been spotted. He’s on his way back. He’s injured, nothing serious, but we can sense urgency. You best come up quickly.”] The patrol spoke, his eyes flicking between Raven and Shayd before he quickly turned his back and ran upstairs again.
Anton was starting to feel his last nerve being tugged on with Piper’s attempt to control him. He was once the top drug dealer in the city! Everyone bowed at his commands and now he was a Beta with the respect of his pack and no one else! He never thought he would be in a situation where a small girl was controlling him. As she was pinned underneath his paws he was almost tempted to revert back to his old style... teach the girl a lesson. Let her know who was in charge and put pure fear into her heart that she wouldn’t dare double cross him again! He held his teeth dangerously close to her face and with her insults, he let out a vicious bark.
[b “You made your mistakes too and you know it Piper! Don’t think one of two actions can lead you here trying to make me do your bidding. You fucking have some nerve you little brat. You know how dangerous it is for Sirhan and just as you get too close to us you turn your back. I’ve had enough of people using this Pack and there isn’t much holding me back from ripping you apart!”] Anton threatened and as she tried to squirm he gave a low and threatening growl straight into her ear - a final warning to stop messing him about.
[b “You haven’t changed a bit Piper. I should never have let you come close to Sirhan. I should have pushed you away when I had the chance! After this, if you come anywhere near the Pack, I will have great pleasure in ripping your little fangs out of your jaw before ripping the rest of you to shreds. I don’t accept deals from little girls!”] Anton warned and just as he was losing his final string of patience, his ears dropped as she started to scream. Before he could react, a sharp pain dug into the side of his neck causing him to yelp out and jump off the young girl.
A bright orange dart stuck out the side of Anton’s neck. His bright yellow eyes started to grow lighting bolts of crimson streaks and his balance started to sway from side to side. Fortunately Anton was quick to realise he had been drugged. While he still had some resistance, having been clean for so long made his ability to act beyond the substance was a lot trickier!
[+red “Tie him down! Tie his paws together, injure him but don’t kill him! I want to drag that prize back to the city. You, girl, get out of here while you still can! Let them know we’ve caught a real wolf.”]
The voice of the hunter was instantly recognisable and Nico didn’t waste a second. In his hand he had a leather whip and in the other, his shotgun, locked and loaded on the Hybrid. Lashing the whip down, it cracked across Anton’s back causing his hind legs to collapse under him. Attempting again, Anton was able to roll out of the way.
[b “Back away!”]
[+red “I don’t think so. I recognise you. You Wolves carry the same look in your eyes. Your that one from the warehouse. I see you met my niece. Candy. Even after her father was killed she decided to join you monsters. She watched me get attacked and she still went behind our backs. I thought she couldn’t get any lower...”]
[b “You’re...you’re her Uncle?”]
[+red “I was until she chose to join you. You ruined her life as a junkie and now you want to ruin my nieces and nephews life as a monster! I swore to protect them, so if that means killing all you freaks around her then I will!”]
The fury erupted with Nico’s words as he lashed the whip repeatedly down on Anton’s body. The hunters were surrounding with their nets and chains, the drug was taking a stronger hold of not only Anton’s consciousness but also his sobriety! He could feel the addition itching away at him. If he didn’t get away now, he would lose his only escape window! Gathering the rest of his strength, Anton snapped around just as another hunter tripped to wrap a rope around his rear paws. Clamping his jaws around the hunters arm, he tossed him towards Nico and used the distraction to sprint towards Sirhan territory.
[+red “Hold back! Let the freak lead us to them. That dart has more in it than meets the eye. We’ll set up camp... we’ll know where they are before we know it...”] Nico ordered, holding up his hand to command his men. Why waste their energy catching one small wolf, when they could use their energy to catch a real prize collection...
Anton ran as fast as he could but with each second the drug the dart has injected into him was taking hold stronger and stronger. As soon as he reached into Sirhan territory, he transformed back into his human form just as he entered the door. His hand clasped over the wound on his neck, his other holding his back which was still burning from the sharp force of the whip.
[b “Damn it I need hearts!”]
[i “You should rest Beta...]
[+green “He’s taken something. Once a junkie...”]
[b “Shut up Candy! No, I don’t need rest i need... argh! Raven! Damn it where is Raven? Can someone fucking get Raven?”]
[+purple “Eli. You have been through Hell with your children but I never expected you to have so little faith in their survival. Until we find Dustin’s body, or it has been long enough to call it off, we believe he is alive. I understand you are his father. I even understand why you would think the way you do, but believe it or not I have seen Dustin weak before: in body and in mind. He survives. I would usually hold my tongue, as I know my faults, but I cannot stand here and listen to you accept his death so easily.”]
Trey didn’t raise his voice, or have any anger behind his words. Instead he stayed composed in front of the father, knowing that any uncertainty could potentially heighten his emotions. Still, Trey was an Alpha and he had to remain firm, even if his past actions rendered him the enemy in a lot of peoples eyes. The blood that stained his clothes was the symbolism of his mistakes, but he didn’t believe it was over, He too shared the same concerns as the father in front of him, but he couldn’t let that cloud his determination for the boy.
[+purple “We made our mistakes Eli but your son made a decision! I’m sorry, but I have to speak this and it is a truth you will not like. You made the decision to hide the truth from your family and your mistake has haunted you. I made a mistake and killed your sons hero. The very man who held him together when no one else was around for your boy. Your son however holds great pride in being a wolf. He has had enough anger thrown at him. This world of ours is not a mortal world Eli. We have dangers and there isn’t a Vampire or Wolf that I know of that isn’t thrown into danger at a young age. It wasn’t the choice of the race he picked - it is the madness between each other that put him in danger. Even we with our choices couldn’t protect him from that.”] Trey pointed out and as he did, his hand wrapped tightly around Dustin’s bloody and ragged Resistance armband. The very reason the Resistance formed was to stop anymore race hated. These race wars of power and greed had become more dangerous as the years went on. Even Trey’s time was different to what the younger generation had to live through now!
[+purple “I’m not here to resist you. If you believe hunting down those who killed your son is the best cause of action, then we will do that. He was attacked by Wolve’s, I could smell their scent. There was rival Pack’s all across the city. It’s hard to know which one...Mitch was killed... are you sure you want to do this Eli? You have already lost a son and Lexi could lose a father as well if you go ahead with this. She won’t just stand back and watch you risk your life.”] Trey warned but he could see in the fathers eyes this was beyond simple reasoning. He had made up his mind and the hunt would soon begin. There was also no clear sign of who killed Dustin. They covered their tracks well but that didn’t mean there wasn’t a scent to follow. Knowing he would be guiding Eli no matter what, Trey started to loot around the room for guns and ammo, occasionally handing some over to the older Vampire as a means of protection.
[+purple “We follows their scent. While I don’t know who it was, I know they are dangerous. They weren’t clever enough to cover their own tracks. I thought it might be too dangerous to seek them instantly and my mind was more focused on the kid, but I can track that scent again. You, as a Vampire, also have a key scent for blood. I’m covered in it...but Eli I explore that you use sense on this mission... I...”]
[+orange “You’re not going alone.”] Lexi butted in. She had been speaking to Amber but she wasn’t a fool in this. She knew if Trey was speaking to her dad that there would already be some plan formed in place.
[+orange “So it’s ok to put my dad at risk and not me?”]
[+purple “Your father makes the decisions Lexi...”]
[+orange “Well my dad has to accept that I’m not standing behind anymore. He’s my brother and there is power in numbers. Amber can stay by my side, you can stay by my fathers but if you’re hunting someone down, then I’m not staying here. My brother keeps getting hurt. I almost killed him. If it wasn’t for me, he might be strong enough to survive the attack. Whether you like it or not dad, you can’t stop me.”]
[+purple “I’m not here to make a decision on your daughter. She is right, there is strength in numbers. Either way we leave now or the track will disappear.”]
Raven tried to remain calm as the hand tightened around her throat, pinning her to the wall. If this were anyone but her brother, she would have returned the hostile act with more violence, kicking and clawing at the hand to set her free, but Baxter insisted that Shayd was just confused, that he didn’t recognize her as his sister… reacting violently wouldn’t do anything to reassure him. In fact, if Raven presented as a threat, Shayd might just kill her right then and there!
Casting a fleeting glance over her brother’s shoulder at the boy she hardly knew, Raven found herself trusting his instincts. Baxter had already proven his skill at reading people and he was clearly trying to earn his keep with the Pack. He wouldn’t say anything to sabotage her… would he? Either way, Raven had little choice but to trust him. A memory… there were so few that Raven had of her and Shayd. She was only 10 years old when he was taken, and Shayd – being the oldest of her brothers – was quite a bit older than she was. During her childhood, it was Talon and Hunter that spent the most time with her while Shayd was almost always busy training with their father to become the next Alpha! One of the only memories that came to mind wasn’t exactly a happy one.
[b “I r-remember when Hunter and Talon first started training with the others… you took them and the other initiates out on a run. You were attacked and one of the Changelings was bit by a Fang… Dad said it was your fault for not protecting you pack. When it came time to put the initiate down, Dad made you do it… he made you kill that kid.”] Raven recalled, remembering being young at the time. Hunter and Talon were ordered back to their rooms along with the others, while her father and Shayd stayed in the med bay with the dying initiate. She was supposed to be asleep, but Raven had a tendency to be rebellious, even back then. She remembered the turmoil on her brother’s face – the pain, the guilt, and finally, the resolve. She watched him put his own initiate out of his misery. Late that night, she went to Shayd’s room to see if he was ok, not surprised to find him lying awake, replaying the events in his mind. Raven thought he was bothered by the fact that he had to kill one of his own, but when she asked him about it, Shayd’s answer.
[b “You weren’t upset about killing the initiate, you were upset that you hesitated. You said, an Alpha needs to put their pack’s needs first. You let him suffer because selfishly you didn’t want to be the one that killed him. You said you’d never make that mistake again. You’d never let your pack suffer just to make things easier on you…”] Raven explained, remembering the haunting revelation and the cold resolve in her brother’s eyes. That was the day she knew she never wanted the responsibility of being Alpha. She didn’t think she was capable of making a decision like that… at least until it came to draining the blood and life out of Talon.
Shayd stared at his sister for a long moment, weighing his words in his mind. He too remembered the conversation, remembered the fear and shock in his baby sister’s eyes. That look wasn’t too far from the expression on this wolf’s face now. Could it really be her? Was this full-grown Beta really that skinny little runt of a sister he had left behind years ago? Years ago… god, how many years had it been? How long had he abandoned his Pack betrayed his family and his father’s legacy by allowing himself to be enslaved to a Fang?
Just when Raven started to choke from lack of oxygen, Shayd finally released her, allowing the Beta to back away. She recovered quickly, keeping her wary eyes on him and standing protectively between Shayd and the human boy. She had been trained well – never trust an enemy, even after shown leniency or mercy. But despite her caution, there seemed to be something else in her eyes – longing? Desperation? Hope?
[#aa0000 “Talon is dead? Sirhan lost two Alphas in a matter of hours… Who’s next in line? Talon wouldn’t have left only one successor. He must have had trainees? Initiates?”] Shayd said cautiously, his tone almost testing as if he was still hesitant to believe them.
[b “Dead. All of them. Mitch killed the initiates weeks before the Blood Moon, only one survived and now he’s missing. It… it doesn’t look good.”] Raven answered, her voice equally as measured as she eyed her brother for any sign of what he’d do next.
[#aa0000 “Talon let this pack fall apart… He was never trained to be Alpha, not like I was, or Hunter. Otherwise, he never would have let the Sirhan fall to this. Your pack needs a leader, Raven. One that can bring Sirhan back to full strength. One that won’t let weakness and emotional ties cloud their judgement. A hybrid Beta? A human child joining our Pack? What has Sirhan resorted to?”] Shayd growled, the judgement clear in his dark eyes. Raven knew he’d likely be biased against Vampires after what Helena put him through, but the mistrust he had for Hybrids and Humans was a concern. Raven feared that if Shayd were to take charge, any of the progress they’d made so far would be for nothing! Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea?
[b “The Pack belongs to Dustin. Talon hand-picked him as his successor, making him the rightful Alpha or Sirhan. As long as Dustin is alive, then he is the true leader of this pack.”] Raven said, finding a bit more strength behind her voice as she defended her Alpha.
[#aa0000 “As long as he is alive. But if you find the boy dead, as you fear, then Sirhan will need a new Alpha. As the heir to Sirhan, this pack would fall to me. I suggest you find the boy as soon as possible. In the very least, prove that a Hybrid and a Human have something to offer.”] Though the words sounded encouraging, there was a clear warning behind them. If Dustin was found dead then the Pack would turn to Shayd as their next Alpha, and if that happened before Raven could convince him that the humans and Hybrids had a place here, then he was well within his power to banish them. Raven, Anton, Lexi, Eli, Baxter, and Candy would all be kicked out of the pack, once again fending for themselves on the unforgiving streets.
“I know you won’t trust me much but she is telling the truth. The whole Pack is waiting upstairs and right now they need a little bit of hope. Don’t they Raven? Tell him. He needs to hear it from you.”
Piper wasn’t surprised to see the lack of patience in Anton’s eyes. Others may have expected concern or at least mild curiosity about where she’d been since they parted ways, but she didn’t give Anton that much credit. Her father, her dealer, her Blood Brother, all of them had seen her as a tool – nothing but a means to an end – why should Anton be any different? The only person who had enough decency to treat her with a shred of humanity was Dustin and look what happened to him! This was precisely why Piper preferred working alone. No one could let you down if you didn’t trust in them in the first place.
Piper recognized the hostility in Anton’s eyes just a split second too late, finding herself pinned rather painfully beneath the large, white wolf. The force knocked the wind from her lungs, but it was the sting of sharp claws digging in to her skin that wiped the smirk off the young girl’s face.
[#ff00ff “Part of the damage? You mean when I jumped in to stop Lexi from killing her own brother on that rooftop? Or when I led you to Eli Kane so you’d have his blood for the cure? How about when I scouted ahead to make sure your path to the Den was safe and ended up getting chased down by some of your Council buddies! Yeah, I have some nerve! You’re the one with two dead Alpha’s on your hands, Hybrid Freak!”] Piper hissed sarcastically, trying to squirm out from under the Wolf’s strong paws with no success.
What she assumed at first was another show of Anton’s “tough guy” persona, turned to more threats and bitter reveals. He said he didn’t need her, that he’d have no problem making her disappear… Anton didn’t realize how deep Piper was in to this whole mess. The knowledge she had, the connections she’d made, deals she’d set – he wouldn’t be treating her like this if he knew. Piper could have just told him: make the big, bad wolf back off and earn herself a little respect, but that would involve breaking one of her deals. Piper may be a manipulative bitch, but she kept her side of the bargain… at least until a better offer came along. Caving to simple threats would ruin the reputation she’d been working hard to build. Her credibility was at stake and that was something Piper wasn’t willing to risk.
[#ff00ff “Well, you’re right about that, Anton, I don’t exactly have a lot of friends to miss me when I’m gone, which means I really don’t have a lot to lose. So go ahead! Rip me to shreds, Half-breed! But I’m the only one who witnessed what happened, and I’ll take that information to my grave out of sheer spite! Knowledge isn’t cheap, Anton, and it sure as hell isn’t free. So you can take your threats and shove them up your white, fluffy ass for all I care!”] She spat back, clenching her teeth with the effort to hide any wince of pain. His claws were sharp and Piper wasn’t as resilient as she’d like people to believe.
[#ff00ff “I told you my price, Anton. You get me the hearts and I’ll tell you who beat Dustin into a bloody pulp. And in the meantime, maybe you should be a little more careful who you threaten.”] Piper hissed in a quiet, yet smug tone. She could hear someone approaching in the distance. Her vampire ears could hear their human blood pumping through their veins. She could smell the grim and dried blood and knew exactly who was soon to stumble on the pair. Piper had eyes all over this city. She knew a hunter when she saw one and that was definitely a hunter coming their way.
[#ff00ff “If you change your mind about the hearts and want to make that deal, you know where to find me. Until then, you should probably run.”] Piper said before her expression changed yet again. Her eyes widened and wet with tears and she screamed out in terror to catch the attention of the approaching hunters, hoping they’d chase off the Hybrid. After all, she was just a defenseless little girl!
[#ff00ff “Ahh! Help! Help me! Ah! No, no! Please! Somebody help!”] She cried out and pretended to struggle against the white wolf, causing as much of a scene as she could.
Eli stood with his back to the door. The tension was visible in the way he combed his hands through his blonde hair and when he finally turned around to face Trey, he looked as if he had aged 10 years! The stress, the worry, the grief, all of it weighted on the man’s features in a way that showed all of this turmoil with his children was slowly but surely killing the man. At first, Eli’s eyes were dulled with defeat but a glint of rage sparked in his eyes as he took in the sight of his son’s blood covering the Alpha’s clothes.
[+green “You stand there, covered in my son’s blood, and tell me you know him better than anyone? That he’s strong enough to survive this? What the hell do you know?! You, Talon, Anton, Raven, you’re always saying how strong and determined that boy is, that he’s a survivor, that he’s a fighter, but open your damn eyes Trey! He was already half-dead when he left the den!”] Eli cursed back, raising his voice with the devastating truth that Dustin could already be dead.
[+green “I told my son that turning into a Wolf was a death sentence. You throw children out there to fight as soldiers! He’s 14 years old Trey and you and Talon filled his head with these selfless notions, wanting him to fight and die for his pack! Sirhan should never have let Dustin leave the den before he recovered, and you should never have left him on his own when you knew how vulnerable he was! As far as I’m concerned, you and the Sirhan wolves are just as guilty and whoever took my boy in the first place!”] Eli shouted. The cold, composed man that Trey and Anton had dealt with in the past was gone; shattered by his grief. Eli didn’t believe his son had survived. He wasn’t sure how it would even be possible! If anyone wanted Dustin dead, they wouldn’t take the chance of leaving him to bleed out somewhere, they’d make sure he was dead. And if they did want him alive, they wouldn’t have risked letting him bleed out so much!
[+green “Chances are, my son is already dead. If he was out there to be found, your pack would have brought him in by now. So you can waste your time searching if you want to, but I’m going to track down who killed my little boy before they try to come after Lexi. These bastards killed a Sirhan Alpha and framed you. Who do you know that wants both the Resistance and the Sirhan dead? Who would be soulless enough to kill an unarmed, injured kid? Either help me track these bastards down, or get out of my way. I failed Dustin enough in his short life, I’m not going to let him go unavenged.”] Eli growled, giving Trey the option of helping or not. Eli didn’t want to allow himself the hope that Dustin was alive. It would hurt too much to have that hope crushed upon finding his son’s body. But whether he’d admit it or not, he had more than vengeance on his mind. If they found who killed his son, maybe they’d find some sign of Dustin or hear what those bastards did to him. If my some miracle Dustin was alive, this was their best lead. If not… at least they had a chance at finding his body. If nothing else, Eli wanted a chance to bury his son in their family plot at the cemetery and lay him to rest beside his mother’s grave. He owed Dustin at least that much.
Candy was almost ready to continue her passive-aggressive speech directly at Raven until the Hybrid raised her hand. As much as Candy had a dislike to Anton, that venomous attitude was almost being passed over to Raven for just knowing the former dealer! She couldn’t see past why she trusted him so much and why he was playing this act for so long. There had to come a point where Anton would ultimately betray her and never look back. He had done it time-and-time again! For a head strong Beta such as Raven, it was Candy’s frustration that was making her speak out! Yet as Raven made her stance quite clear that she trusted both Bax and herself, Candy shrugged and kept her eyes on her notebook. At least for now her brother was in a safe environment. She could take him away from what was once his only means of survival and give him a chance. If it meant staying here with the person she disliked most, then she would do it. Her main concern right now was hoping her brother wouldn’t continue to run into danger to impress everyone around him! He’d already risked himself according to Raven and now that risk only seemed to be increasing.
[+green “He best come back without a scratch Raven. Bax… I mean it. Not a single scratch on you from playing hero.”]
[+blue “I know what I’m doing. Come on Raven, let’s do this.”]
Following Raven down Baxter gave her a confident nod as she checked in with him, but as they approached the menacing black wolf his courage started to dwindle. He had seen wolves in the den, but none of them matched the sheer size and ferocity of the wolf in front of him! Baxter was still a human after all, so to see a creature so out of his norm was intimidating to say the least! While he wasn’t eager to move any closer while Raven made her approach, he observed the wolf and started to do what he did best.
Shayd certainly wasn’t the beast his appearance made him out to be, that was for sure. While his body looked feral and ready to attach, there was something humane about his eyes. It was as if while he was looking at Raven he could identify with something about her. Perhaps he was experiencing some memories? No. He was still standing in defense and even the smallest of memories could trigger a change in a person.
Just as Baxter started to read into the creature, watching the transformation left his jaw hanging low! He had heard the stories and knew they existed, but to see it in real life was beyond anything he could imagine! Unlike most humans who would have freaked at the sound of cracking bones and tearing muscles, Baxter was clearly fascinated by the whole process until finally a fully built human was standing in front of them.
At least… as human as he could be. His feral state had left his body confused between the two states and while as Raven spoke, Shayd took interest, it was a dangerous position. It was clear Shayd was still unaware of who was in front of him. He wasn’t even trying to connect the pieces! His mind was focused on one goal but Baxter was unable to pin his finger on it.
[+blue “He’s just trying to figure everything out. Be careful…Raven!”] Baxter exclaimed but it was too late. Shayd had her in his grasp and even after his years of torment and his human body still transitioning postures, his strength was remarkable! Baxter instantly raised his hands up in the air to show he wouldn’t be a threat, but his eyes didn’t stop reading the wolf in front of him.
[+blue “He’s lost his concept of time. He needs proof of who you are. You must have memories Raven? Something only the two of you would know, not even any of your other brothers!”] Baxter quickly spoke up but he was cautious towards Shayd, knowing that even the smallest thing could set him off. He was wary… Baxter would even go as far to say that he was fearful.
[+blue “I know you don’t know me. I know you must be wondering what is going on. Sirhan are really desperate right now. Your sister is right, Talon died. They had a new Alpha and now he could be dead too. You care about Sirhan don’t you? They are on the edge and if you kill your sister because you’re scared of the truth, then the whole Pack will collapse.”] Baxter was taking a risk but he needed to chip into something that would spark some trust and reason into Shayd. He mentioned Sirhan, he recognized the Sirhan tattoo so that must mean he recognized the importance of the Pack! If Raven chipped at her brothers memories and also added about Sirhan’s current state, then maybe it would bring something out of Shayd that was hidden to himself. He needed a purpose and right now, the only purpose he had for the last decade was to serve someone else. If Raven wanted him back, he needed a reason to believe her and the people around him.
[+blue “I know you won’t trust me much but she is telling the truth. The whole Pack is waiting upstairs and right now they need a little bit of hope. Don’t they Raven? Tell him. He needs to hear it from you.”]
Anton expected to hear danger as he got closer to the Council, but he never expected the voice that had rang through his ears. He immediately slammed his paws down into the dirt, stopping himself in his tracks. His ears lowered and his tail tucked between his legs, while his expression crossed with a fierce growl and annoyance in his eyes. With everything that had been going on, the last thing he needed was Piper putting herself into the mix. He thought while she was away, she finally decided to abandon Sirhan and move on elsewhere! It was her perfect opportunity to run away from all the problems she had been part of and gain a profit from someone else. For that exact reason, Anton wasn’t as willing to be so trusting. Turning to face her, he examined her split lip, crossed with that all too playful look in her eyes.
[b “Can see you’ve been up to your usual antics. What is it this time because I can promise you this. Tonight is not the night to be fucking around with me Piper.”] Anton growled in warning, but he should have known better to think that would stop her.
Her threat, followed with her knowledge of Dustin seemed to be enough to send Anton over the edge. Without much warning he kept forward, slamming his front paws onto her shoulders and forcing her to the ground. Once she was down, he dug his claws just enough to act as a threat, and bared his teeth inches away from her face.
[b “You have some nerve! You think you can threaten me when you were part of the damage back with the Pack? I owe you fuck all Piper. You should be lucky we didn’t rip you apart back there but we gave you a chance. What do you know about Dustin?”] Anton barked and just to emphasize his point that he wouldn’t hesitate ripping her to shreds if needs be, he put more of his weight down on her body.
[b “Who killed Dustin? Or do you want to end up in that river with him? If you want a couple of hearts, I’ll rip yours out of your chest Piper! I’m done with these games. You’ve been messing with me long enough. You really think you can keep using me like this? I’d think very carefully about how you answer my questions Piper because ultimately, I don’t need you. I’ve survived without you before, and I can survive without you again. By the looks of that cut on your lip, it looks like a lot of people wouldn’t miss you if you suddenly went missing. Now this is your last chance! Tell me who killed Dustin and what else you want?”]
Trey tried to hide his disappointment when Amber didn’t immediately take his offer, but she would have been easily able to see that it did dishearten him a little. Still, he could understand her reasoning and wouldn’t dare argue against it or try and sway her any other way. Nodding in acceptance, Trey finally let go of all his dread and fear and smiled in pride. While he was hoping for a different answer, he was glad he still had his friend by his side.
[+purple “I don’t expect you to be Tink. I want you to be the friend I’ve always had. Leader’s don’t always have to be fearless Amber… remember that. You’re right though, let’s take this one step at a time. I’ll protect you from Helena as much as I can. If she comes back to haunt us, we’ll deal with it. You don’t let me down with your trust, I won’t let you down with my protection. Alright?”] Trey promised with a new set of determination in his eyes. He had let Amber slip away before and was never able to free her. He wasn’t about to make the same damned mistake again.
[+purple “It’s a deal, so long as you don’t hold back on that advisory part. I need honesty Amber, as much as you can give with as little fear as you can muster. I wish I could say things will change instantly but I am still doubting myself… that decision against Sirhan has thrown me off more than I can say. If I’m going about making the same decision again, please… do not hold back that tongue of yours.”] He asked, which in fact, almost verged on the edge of pleading. As they headed back to the base and he listened to Lexi’s wrath, he knew it would be nothing compared to Eli’s if he didn’t handle it correctly. Once he was sure she was with Amber, he headed up to the room Eli was in, taking a deep breath before he released the news.
[+purple “Eli. We don’t have much time to stay here. I know you will want answers, more than we have time for but for your sons sake, we need to get going.”] Trey started, already debating how much of the truth it was worth at this time revealing. The father wouldn’t be fooled. He would be able to see the blood on Trey’s clothes, the armband, even the expression on his face couldn’t stay hidden.
[+purple “I met with your son. We came to an agreement. As we walked away he was attacked and now he can’t be found. Before you make any rash decisions, hear me out. You know the strength of your son better than anyone and this doesn’t mean he is gone, however each second we spend here is a second longer he is missing. Your daughter is equally determined to find him but we can’t take any unnecessary risks. You can blame me, hate me, hurt me as much as you want once this rescue mission is over, but ultimately we need our focus on your son right now, not on any anger you might be feeling.”] Trey told the father, taking his attitude back as an Alpha. He had to reveal the truth but be firm and set the right expectations.
[+purple “It’s up to you. We can go together and Lexi can work with Amber, or we can go together. We can use our scent as wolves but you Vampire’s have more smarts and more knowledge on him. It’s your call. I’m Alpha but this is your son. However you would like to play this, I am leaving that up to you.”]
Raven nodded to Candy’s speech. It appeared the cook liked to be coddled about as much as Raven did. It was something she could respect in the woman, so as Candy snapped at her, Raven simple raised a pacifying hand.
[b “I just want to make sure you know you’re not just a tool for this pack to use. We appreciate the help, and you can be sure we’ll return the favour. As for looking out for yourselves… I don’t doubt that. Your brother just jumped in between two murderous wolves without hesitation. And while I appreciate the bravery, what really impressed me was his confidence. Baxter trusted his own skills enough to step in and stop a bloodbath. It’s that kind of determination we need around here. And you – you’re already living up to your reputation. Keep up the good work and let me know if you need anything else.”] Raven told Candy. Raven heard Anton’s snarl, but could tell by the look in his eyes that he wasn’t as critical of the woman’s speech as he appeared to be. Or maybe he was just distracted by his own authority. The Sirhan wolves snapped into action at the commands of their new Beta. It was something Raven was used to, having been a leader in the pack most of her life, but for Anton the experience must have been surreal. He was already stepping up to his place, including his concern for his pack.
[b “Facing my brother after 11 years? I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready. But Talon’s gone, Dustin’s missing, and like it or not, we’re running out of options. Besides, he tried to save Talon, so some part of him must still believe in family… right?”] Raven tried to look confident, but her eyes betrayed how anxious she was. She was about to face her hero who had been captured, brainwashed, and fighting against them for over ten years!
[b “If you can read Shayd as well as you read Trey and Amber, then I could use the backup. Alright Kid, you can come. But you stay out of arm’s reach, ok? Shayd may be my brother, but he’s dangerous and he doesn’t like humans.”] Raven told the boy, not wanting Baxter to get in over his head. She returned the strong look to Anton, wishing him luck and telling him to be safe before letting him run off towards the Council territory. Her instincts were telling her to follow him, but Raven knew she was needed here. Besides, it was time she started trusting Anton to look after himself. He trusted her back with those hunters so it was time she returned the favour.
Raven shared a glance with Baxter, silently asking if the kid was ready for what awaited them behind that closed door. As much as Raven looked calm and confident, she was terrified of what she would see. It had been well over ten years since she had last seen her brother as anything more than just Helena’s obedient pet. She had felt the sting of Shayd’s teeth and claws as much as any of her other enemies and despite how she knew it was Helena’s spell and not her own brother’s will, the betrayal still hurt. Now it appeared the spell was broken, but Raven wasn’t sure she believed it. Dustin had broken the spell and so had Amber, but they had suffered a few mere weeks and months at the Witch’s side, not a full decade! Then there was the truth that Raven didn’t know who her brother was anymore. When she was a pup, she looked up to Shayd, Talon, and Hunter – each for their own skills and expertise. Hunter was the best at his namesake: as fast as Dustin, clever, observant, and one of the best trackers the pack had. He was just a young teen when he was killed, but he would have made an excellent Beta. Talon was strict but loyal, almost fearless. Even when he was a kid, he had a reputation for being calm, cold, and composed until the moment his friends or siblings were challenged, then Talon would put them down before they knew what hit them! And Shayd… of all the Hawthorn pups, Shayd was the most like his father. Even as a teenager, he walked with an air of authority, ruled with a fair but unwavering hand. He was a natural leader – one that was groomed since his childhood to be the Alpha of Sirhan… until the day he was taken. But Raven was only 10 years old at the time… would he even remember her?
Locking her uncertainties to the back corner of her mind, Raven opened the door and stepped inside. She was greeted by the sight of a large, black wolf, chained to the wall with a cuff around his front paw. He turned and growled at the two intruders, taking a wider stance as if expecting a fight. Raven wasn’t sure how to proceed, so she tried to look as passive as possible. Raven showed her palms, reassuring him she was unarmed. When the wolf showed no signs of backing down she started to doubt how much humanity was left!
[b “Shayd, it’s me… It’s Raven.”] To the Beta’s surprise, the sound of her own name struck a chord with the fierce black wolf. He stopped snarling, though still looked wary. When he realized she meant him no harm, the wolf took a step back and shifted back into his human form for the first time since his capture. The effects of his long service as a wolf showed clearly in his posture. Shayd’s fingers were curled into his palms, almost like paws. His shoulders were hunched and his back arched as if his body had forgotten how to stand straight. He wore nothing but a pair of tattered shorts, leaving his bare chest exposed to reveal the hundreds of scars that littered his skin. The shackle remained clamped to his wrist and Helena’s revolting collar hung loosely around his neck. Shayd’s eyes were dark and serious with an inherent authority even more powerful than Talon’s. But the fact that was was human enough to transform gave Raven at least some hope.
[b “Shayd? Are you ok?”] Raven asked cautiously. She cast a glance back at Baxter to see what the kid was picking up on her brother’s face. Shayd seemed calm enough, but Raven took just a slight step too close and suddenly she found herself pinned against the wall by her throat!
[b “Sh-shayd! W-wha..?”]
[#aa0000 “Who the hell are you?”] Shayd growled in a low, controlled tone while keeping Baxter in his periphery. If the boy made even a slight step towards him, Shayd would simply tighten his grip.
[b “R-Raven. I’m you’re sister!”]
[#aa0000 “My sister is a child! Do you think I’d fall for that? I’ve been gone for a couple years, but that doesn’t mean I’ll believe any woman with dark hair and a Sirhan tattoo is my little sister!”]
Raven did her best not to panic. She placed her hand over Shayd’s trying to coax him into releasing his grip. Normally the Beta wouldn’t be phased by such an attack. Raven had held her own against 4-5 opponents without a single slip! But this was her brother! She couldn’t bring herself to hurt him when she just got him back!
[b “It hasn’t just been a couple years Shayd! You’ve been gone for over a decade! Don’t you remember?”]
[#aa0000 “Prove it. Bring me Talon.”] Shayd growled having recognized his brother – albeit a much larger, stronger version than the young teen he remembered – on the battlefield.
[b “I can’t. Talon’s… he’s dead, Shayd. He didn’t make it….”]
[#aa0000 “Liar!”] Shayd snarled, pressing Raven’s throat harder into the wall until she stood just on the tips of her toes.
[#aa0000 “I saved Talon. He was hurt, but alive. He can’t be dead! Where the hell is my brother?!”]
[#ff00ff “You’re a long way from home, aren’t you Hybrid Freak?”] Anton would recognize the familiar tone so close to the Council’s territory, and though it wasn’t one that would sound too threatening, it probably wouldn’t be one he’d want to hear. Piper slinked out from the shadows, as sneaky and cunning as ever. She had helped lead Anton, Lexi, and Eli back to the Sirhan territory, but After Anton asked her to scout ahead, the young girl had disappeared. Piper looked as snide as she always did – the only evidence that anything had happened was the rather fresh-looking split lip. Obviously the girl had found somebody’s bad side, but since the rest of her appeared fairly unscathed, it was clear she had slipped away in her typical manipulative fashion. Piper was a girl with a ton of enemies, but her habit of playing both sides often kept her out of too much trouble.
[#ff00ff “Better watch your pack in this part of town Anton. If the Council caught wind that you were here… well, I bet they’d offer a fair reward for whoever tipped them off.”] Piper stated with a smirk, alluding to the fact that she’d sell him out in a second if she thought it was worth her while. The only reason she hadn’t was because she saw more potential with Anton on her side at the current moment than against her.
[#ff00ff “You still owe me a favour, Anton. I got you and Raven out of that prison and you owe me for that. And don’t try to tell me you paid me back by saving Dustin, because from what I heard, D’s nothing but a corpse at the bottom of the river.”] Piper stated, purposely letting slip that she had info on Dustin. But everything came at a price.
[#ff00ff “I watched them, you know. I showed up just as they dragged the kid away from the scene. He was already dead. I doubt you’ll find the body. But I bet I could give you something better… I could tell you who killed him.”] Piper offered, dangling her knowledge in front of Anton like bait on a hook.
[#ff00ff “I’ll even sell it to you cheap! All I want is a couple hearts, I’m sure a big, bad, Beta like you could steal ‘em off of Sirhan easy. You bring me a couple human hearts, and I’ll tell you who took down your Alpha.”] It wasn’t all Piper wanted, but it was all she knew Anton could give her. Her other target would be a little harder to get her hands on. She needed to find Lexi and convince the girl to follow her. It wouldn’t be easy. Piper didn’t exactly have a reputation for being trustworthy, but she had her orders and she’d weave whatever lies she had to in order to bring Lexi in.
Amber watched her Alpha closely, watching for any sign of violence of aggression. She knew she had crossed a line and if recent history was any indicator, she’d pay dearly for her words. But the hostility she expected never came. Instead, Amber saw something deeply familiar in Trey’s expression. The truth was painful, but it was necessary. He took her words at full value – recognizing them as an attempt to help him lead and not an act of mutiny. For the first time since she’d been freed, Amber felt like she had her friend back.
That look was followed by an earth shattering revelation. Not only did Trey trust her, believe her loyalty, and want her at his side, he wanted her to lead! He wanted her to join him as an Alpha! The shock and uncertainly was plain on her face and Amber took several moments before she found the words to respond – in any other situation, she would have congratulated Trey on finally leaving “the wolf who talks to much” speechless!
[#005500 “You really want… You think I…”] Amber shook her head, trying to sort out her thoughts. When she finally found her voice again, it didn’t seem any more confident, but it did sound more decisive.
[#005500 “I think you’re going through a lot Trey. You’ve lost so much in such a short period of time, and now this mess with Dustin is overwhelming. I don’t want you to make a rash decision especially when it has such an impact on the pack. I’m not… Trey, I’m not Tink. I never will be. I’m not a leader like her, I’m not as fearless, I’m nowhere near as strong. And to be honest… I’m scared. I’m still afraid of what I’ll do if Helena ever finds me. I’m not sure I’m strong enough to resist her. I wouldn’t feel right leading the Resistance until I could trust myself not to fall for that witch’s spells again.”] Amber told him honestly, flattered by his faith in her, but wanting to be fair to her pack and to her Alpha. Once again, Amber’s loyalty was shining through. She wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize her family, even if that meant turning down a chance to lead them in to a brighter future.
[#005500 “How about this: We work together to find Dustin. If he’s alive, we bring him back to Sirhan and if he’s not, we make sure the ones responsible never harm another pup. That will give me a chance to prove myself to you, to the pack, and to myself. If after that, you still want me as Alpha at your side, I’ll think about it. But for now, I’m more than happy to be your advisor. What do you say?”] Amber offered.
Following Trey back to the den, it took every bit of self-control Amber had not to step in and defend her Alpha from Lexi’s slap, but that silent command from Trey kept her in her place. She could understand the girl’s pain and knew her emotions needed some kind of outlet. She just wished it wasn’t piling even more guilt and self-doubt onto Trey. Doing as she was asked, Amber stayed with Lexi when Trey went to speak to Eli, wary of that look in the girl’s eyes.
[#005500 “Lexi… If you want to go out and see for yourself, I’ll take you. I don’t want to believe he’s gone either, but what I saw… Look, Dustin is a strong kid. He’s survived a lot and I know if any initiate could have lived through this, it would be your brother. If you believe he’s alive, I’m sure he is. We’ll find him either way Lexi, and we’ll make sure the people responsible pay for this.”]
As the three of them walked together, Baxter stayed silent and observed the two while Raven spoke. Raven was stubborn and her own pride seemed to overtake her own wellbeing on occasions. He could see the frustration at her own weakness and the fear of the lack of control she had over her injury. Behind that look in her eyes came the ease that Anton was by her side. It wouldn’t have been obvious to anyone who watched the pair, but her trust was bonded with her partner and vice-versa. The true surprise came from his observation with Anton! His experiences with the dealer had been cold and harsh. He watched Anton use his sister. Anton would promise the world to her one minute, then the next that world would be turned upside down with threats and violence. At one point Candy relied on Anton... for her addiction, her security. He used that to his advantage and it wasn’t until Anton ‘died’ that she was finally free. At first he thought the same was happening to Raven. Perhaps she was relying on Anton just like his sister did. Only he could see a look in Anton’s eyes. There was genuine concern for Raven’s injury, self doubt on his own decisions, determination to find Dustin... maybe he really had changed?
[+blue “He wouldn’t have wasted his time being so convincing, especially when he had his Pack around the corner who could easily slaughter you. Trust me, you freaks aren’t much different from my sister and her group of addicts... if they wanted to take the opportunity to win, they’d take it. Trey has no security persuading you he didn’t do it, but he still insisted on the truth I guess. I think your focus needs to be on finding Dustin and then you can draw your conclusions. If he is alive, he is the key to the truth.”] Baxter added but he couldn’t help but show a rare smile when Raven praised him. The expression looked like it didn’t belong on his face. Ever since his own life turned upside down, praise wasn’t something that was ever expected. His sister had to focus on keeping them both alive in the only way she knew how and often, that didn’t come with any time for thanks.
That thanks didn’t extend once they were back. As Raven was shoved into the chair, Anton tensed and shot Candy a sharp and unforgiving glare.
[b “You better know what you’re doing.”]
[+blue “He’s just concerned about her sis. He...”]
[b “Alright kid enough! First rule of this place is you don’t read anyone without their permission? Got it? And...shit...Candy how did you?”]
The rapid recovery was enough to stop Anton mid-rant! Candy rolled her eyes at both the beta’s, hardly appreciating Raven’s compliments and still having no time or respect for her former boss. Quickly examining the wound to make sure the effects had done what she had expected, she tossed the syringe away and pulled out an old and tatted diary she carried around. Scribbling down, she sat down in the corner with now much attention being shared to anyone in the room.
[+green “Well honey, as much as I disagree with Anton on a lot of things, he’s right. I am good. I’m the best. Can see my little brother has already made his impression too. Look Raven, i know you’re trying to do this equality thing and looking after us like a Leader does, but we’re not used to that lifestyle. Rest doesn’t happen because we’re on guard and ready. We might be human but we’ve seen our fair share of survival. Looks like this Pack never has time for rest. So sugar, as much as I appreciate you ‘caring’ for us, I think you have bigger problems right now.”]
Anton snarled at Candy as she talked but he couldn’t deny that she did make a fair point. The Pack really didn’t have time to rest and he caught himself by surprise as he watched each wolf spring to action at his commands. He never expected anyone to be so quick to do what he asked, especially since he had spent so long building up his own reputation. Seeing Raven back at strength, he reached out to put a secure hand on her arm just in case she wasn’t ready, but seeing her take her first few steps the tension he had relaxed a little...
[b “I’ll be fine. I’ll call if I need help. Are you sure you’re ready for that? It seems a little soon... even if you can connect with him won’t this all be a bit too much?”]
[+blue “I can go with you? I don’t know who you are talking about but maybe I can help understand what is going on?”] Baxter chirped up, looking straight towards Raven. She was impressed with his skills once, maybe he could help her again? He could see in her eyes the doubt she could make any difference.
[b “Raven... the brat is right. Don’t do it alone. You’ve been through enough shit... Look, I’m nearby. Just howl if you need me, alright? I’ll come back.”] Resting a hand on her shoulder and giving her a comforting but strong look, he knew how much of a challenge she was facing. Part of him wanted to stay and be there, but equally he had to find Dustin. He had to be out there somewhere. Dead or alive. Pulling away, Anton headed outside into the moonlight and shifted into his wolf form and without delay, he sprinted towards the Council’s territory.
Trey might have taken a breath of relief once the danger was gone, but the tension had taken over his entire body. His jaw was locked, his hands locked into tight fists, while the rest of the energy made his heart pound against his chest and his lungs restrict with air. He thought he could go straight into a plan of action - leave and let his Pack follow the path they had been destined for. It was what he expected but as he watched Amber let out her own exasperation’s. Her initial words struck him so hard he let out a shaky breath but this time something stopped him from snapping out of control. Perhaps it was knowing how much he had already destroyed, or perhaps it was the look in Amber’s eyes the moment she realised what she had said. She didn’t deserve any guilt for speaking her mind. Once upon a time that was the only thing that held the Pack together! Instead Trey nodded in encouragement for her to speak, despite how much he was terrified to hear the truth. He had avoided it for long enough. It was time to accept the facts.
For the entire time Amber spoke, Trey remained silent. It was clear the truth was hard to swallow but unlike the Trey of the last few weeks, there was a difference in his listening. Instead of taking the words like deliberate targets against his leadership, there was consideration in his eyes. It was clear that the truth was painful. There was a growing pain in his expression as Amber continued but also a mutual understanding. As she came towards the end of her speech, Trey looked into her eyes with the most acceptance he had shown her since her return.
[+purple “Then it looks like I have a lot of work to do to make things right. If I left, I would only be adding to my list of mistakes.”] He accepted and as Amber slid the bloody Resistance band onto his wrist, he lifted his other hand on top of hers and gave a gentle squeeze.
[+purple “I’ve needed you back. I came so close to losing everything. I trust you Amber and I’m sorry if i do not show it enough. I’m sorry that I questioned you. I have a lot to show the Pack. We have to rebuild the Resistance. I need you by my side and I’ll stay. If you truly believe in me. Look...I know you’ve just been back but as you said, screw the consequences. We aren’t like any normal Pack. We don’t follow the status quo or the rules, that is what has made us strong. I want you to think about this but if you agree, I want you to be Alpha by my side. You worry too much about the rules of the Pack and this truth is what I’ve needed. The lack of it, the hidden secrets, the unheard whispers... I went off the rails and I can’t afford that again. There is no rush Amber but I need you directly by my side. A pack with two Alpha’s. No more fear of challenging leadership. No more fear of making decisions. We work together.”] Trey stated his offer knowing exactly how much they had to rebuild.
Then there was the other obstacle. Returning to Lexi and Eli to tell them the news. Lexi entrusted them both that Dustin would be safe and no harm would come to him. It was another failing of Trey and one he would have to face the consequences for. It was clear from his expression he was nervous to return but he couldn’t run away any longer. He had run away by using his aggression and avoiding the truth. He almost ran away by saying he would leave the Pack. It had to be the leader he once was - even if it meant accepting his failings.
Returning to the base he was shocked to see Lexi sitting on the stairwell, her focus staring at the door the moment he opened it. She had been waiting for his return, having heard the whispers amongst the Pack. She wasn’t a fool and the whispers could only be kept a secret for so long... first was the whispers that Trey could kill Dustin, then came the immediate whispers moments after that there had been an attack. As soon as she caught a glimpse of Trey and the blood, she jumped up to her feet.
[+purple “Lexi let me explain...”]
[+orange “You said you would keep him safe! What happened? Why isn’t he with you? Why are you covered in blood!?”] Lexi’s voice increased its velocity, as did her stride until she was inches away from the Alpha. Her eyes fell to the bloodied Resistance band on his wrist, one she immediately identified as Dustin’s.
[+orange “They said it wasn’t you but why aren’t you out there? You should be looking for him! I trusted you to keep him safe and I shouldn’t have been so stupid! You shouldn’t be here!”]
[+purple “Lexi we need to plan...we...”]
A sharp resounding smack echoed across the base as Lexi’s hand connected with Talon’s cheek. The silence that followed only made the impact sound twice as much as what it was. While Lexi stood with her whole body shaking, Talon showed no hatred for the girls action. It was the least he deserved and he gave Amber a look to insist she didn’t scold Lexi for what had happened. This was her brother who she had lost far too often. He could see Lexi was blaming herself just as much as she was blaming both Trey and Amber.
[+orange “And you... I want you to take me out there and find him. I know he’s not dead. He can’t be dead. He springs back too much and I’m not giving up until we find something!”] Lexi hissed towards Amber. She needed to stop relying on everyone else but there was an underlined motive as to why Lexi was asking. She was still terrified she was under Helena’s control. If she found her brother and was at risk of snapping again, she needed someone who would understand her situation. Though there was someone else who had to have the news revealed to them and if they thought breaking it to Lexi was tough, Eli would be worse. He was so desperate to prove himself to his son, now he might not even have a son to prove himself too!
[+purple “Amber, stay with Lexi. I need to talk to Eli...”]
Stepping away from the pair, Trey knew that the news would travel fast and he would have to be prepared for the fathers demands. They had both come close to losing Dustin and now there was no guarantee he would ever be found...
[+red “You saw them? You hear that boys? He saw them! Down by the river... “]
Nico didn’t need any further confirmation. He wasn’t the type of hunter to sit and strategise. The hunt was all about getting out there, tracking the evidence, and getting that kill. Even better if they could capture one of the bastards and bring them back as evidence. Not needing anything more, he jumped up from his seat and as if in instinct, the rest of the hunters did the exact same. Each one rushed out of the pup, climbing into their cars and driving to the outskirts of the city. Once they were away from the busy night time population and the law, Nico ordered his men to equip themselves and not to hold back. Each armoured themselves with knives, guns, nets, traps - anything to ensure that one of these beasts were coming home with them tonight. In the back of one of the trucks was a large cage with chains. Nico wasn’t taking any chances. It was tonight or nothing.
[+red “Stay hidden. They can pick up our scent but we can mask it well. You know the drill. Rub yourself in anything that can mask your scent. Stay hidden, stay distant, but stay together. These beasts think they can out smart us. We capture one alive but any others, feel free to kill. They have no mercy for us, we show none in return. No glory tactics...”] With his orders in place the groups started to make their split. Some heading towards the river to scout while Nico had plans of his own.
[+red “Tony, Peter... you are coming with me. I’ve heard some of the bastards have another hidden spot. Vampire’s... they’ll be out now and we have until sunrise.. Stay sharp.”]
Raven took a stubborn step forwards on her bad leg, only to curse under her breath when it didn’t hold her weight. Amber may not be much of a fighter, but she had killer aim. Her bullet hit exactly as intended, piercing Raven’s calf muscle shredding the nerves, and burying itself deep into the bone. Putting any pressure on the leg would cause a fierce stab of pain to shoot up her calf, the muscle would spasm, and the limb would just give way. She could hardly walk! Raven accepted Anton’s help with a steady stream of curses under her breath. She hated showing vulnerability, but at least she could trust her partner to be at her side. If this were anyone aside from Anton, Raven would have rather crawled back instead of allowing them to help her. Fortunately, Baxter’s words gave Raven the distraction she needed from the pain.
[b “It’s too much to be a coincidence. Dustin had a meeting, alome and unarmed, with the Alpha who killed his mentor, and we see trey at the scene, covered in blood, surrounded by signs of struggle, and Dustin’s nowhere to be seen? Anyone would believe that traitor was guilty… Which means, if Baxter’s right, then this must have been a set up. Someone who wants Sirhan and the Resistance to wipe each other out. If that’s true… Baxter, thank you for stepping in. You kept your Betas from making a mistake and protected your pack. That’s very honourable of you considering you’ve only been with us for a few mere hours. Well done.”] Raven told the boy, wanting to make sure she gave credit where it was due. She wouldn’t tell him that she was prepared to kill Trey anyway after what he did to Talon. Right now, the boy was showing his worth to the back and that deserved to be recognized. He also didn’t deserve the rough treatment from his sister, but Raven didn’t intervene aside from a sharp, disapproving look. She knew, in some part, Candy must have been worried about her brother.
Instead, Raven was pushed into a chair and growled out another swear as Candy grabbed her injured leg. To her credit, she gave no more than a tense groan of pain when Candy dug the bullet out, but she still wasn’t sure she trusted this new stranger with her injury. She tensed at the sight of the syringe, and only Anton would understand why. Raven’s fear of losing control had emerged when Anton drugged her on Draven’s orders. She wasn’t eager to experience that again. But instead of the disorienting effects she was expecting, Raven felt a low burn of pain spread through her leg before the muscle and skin seemed to stitch together before her eyes! Mere moments later, all that was left was a scar!
[b “That’s… Candy, that’s incredible.”] Raven said, running her own fingers across the seamless skin and looking back to the cook with amazed eyes.
[b “Wait, you said Hybrid blood and Wolf’s blood? But we gave you those hours ago when you first got here. You invented this just in a matter of hours? Damn, Anton was right, you are good.”] Raven said, again giving credit where it was due. She
[b “Thank you for this. And yes, Baxter was very helpful. Just a few hours in and you two are already earning your keep. But don’t run yourselves down. This is a mutual agreement, remember? You help us, we help you. You’re not a tool to be used when we need you, you’re a member of this pack. So Baxter, as much as I appreciate your help back there, don’t run off and get yourself killed. We can only protect you if we know where you are. And Candy, make sure you get some rest. Dustin had the others set up rooms for you two before he left. Second floor at the end of the hall. Make yourselves at home. You’ve certainly earned it.”] Raven said standing up to test her leg. Aside from some residual soreness, it seemed to have healed. She gave Anton a nod to let him know she was alright and to encourage him taking charge. His orders were good and the pack respected them. At their Beta’s command, the Sirhan wolves hurried off on their missions, not wanting to let down their new leadership.
[b “You’re going to search the Council territory? You better not be going alone. Or at least stay within earshot of the Pack. We made a mistake sending Dustin out there on his own and look what happened. We can’t lose you too Anton. That being said, I trust you. Just be safe. I think I better stay here… I’ve got my own demons to face.”] Raven said, casting a glance towards the hallway that led to the cells. Her older brother was down there, locked away as a precaution until they could be sure he really did break Helena’s spell. Amber seemed t have recovered her former loyalties, but she was only there for a matter of months. Shayd had been Helena’s pet for over ten years! Raven had been only a child the last time she’d seen her brother! But until they found Dustin the Sirhan pack was Alpha-less. There was no Alpha-in-training to take his place, no initiates to step up. The Betas could manage things for now, but they couldn’t take over the pack! They needed a new Alpha if they were going to survive, and right now, one of their only options was chained up in that cell.
Amber waited until they were far enough away from Anton and Raven to let their guard down. As soon as the immediate threat was gone, she faced Trey, her eyes going to the blood in his hair. Gritting her teeth at the thought of seeing her Alpha hurt, Amber did a quick assessment to see if Trey needed any immediate medical attention. For the most part, he looked alright. She had certainly seen her Alpha suffer worse, but Amber had to admit, seeing that gun pressed against the back of Trey’s head had scared her. Coming that close to losing him for good certainly didn’t make it any easier for her to hear him so willing to leave.
As soon as Amber was sure Trey was alright, she took a few steps away from him and ran her fingers through her hair in frustration. That situation had been a little too tense for the recovering Wolf and after her not-to-distant experience with Helena, Amber’s nerves were shot as it was!
[#005500 “Are you kidding me?!”] Amber glared at him with an incredulous look.
[#005500 “Yesterday, you accused me of not being loyal to this pack, and thought I’d jump ship the moment I got in with Sirhan, and now you’re just going to walk away? If I was going to turn my back on you Trey, don’t you think I would have done that before I stepped in front of that gun? What more do I have to do to prove that I’m loyal? How much will it take before you believe that I’m on your side?!”] Amber snapped impulsively, before her eyes widened at the realization of what she’d just said. She just yelled at her own Alpha! Brutal honesty was one thing, but shouting matches against your Alpha weren’t tolerated. The Alpha she’d seen over the last couple days would have probably banished her or attacked her for an insubordinate display like that! Amber forced herself to calm down before she got in any more trouble.
[#005500 “I’m going to be honest with you Trey, because you need to hear this, screw the consequences.”] Amber stated, returning to her old habits of speaking the unpopular truth. She knew she could be banished, punished, or even killed for talking to her Alpha this way, but once-upon-a-time Trey actually appreciated her honesty, and right now she thought it was the best thing for him.
[#005500 “You messed up, Trey. You messed up bad. All those reasons you gave us for turning out backs on Sirhan, for attacking Talon, and sending spies into their Den… none of it was true. From what Dustin said, Talon wasn’t the wolf you told us he was. He was changing, he was getting better, and if he’d survived the war… Sirhan and the Resistance could have been unstoppable. But now, Talon is dead, Dustin is missing, the packs are divided… All of us are paying the price for that mistake.”] Amber said honestly, making it clear she knew exactly how serious this was. There was no forgiveness in her voice, but there was an understanding. She wasn’t absolving him of his crimes, but she wasn’t incriminating him either.
[#005500 “After you left, the pack started talking. They thought… [i we] thought, you were going to kill the boy. After what we’ve seen these past few months – hell Trey, you even snapped at me for telling you the truth! You were violent and driven, and merciless… You weren’t you. And we were afraid Dustin would say something to set you off and you’d think it was just easier to kill him... but you didn’t. You walked away. And for the first time in weeks we saw a glimpse of the real you, the one we all chose to follow, the one we pledged our loyalty too.”] Amber admitted, showing how close Trey was to losing the faith of his pack over what they’d heard. But Amber was here speaking on behalf of the Resistance – many of the wolves, vamps, and hybrids felt the same was she did.
[#005500 “You didn’t kill that boy, and I couldn’t stand by and watch Anton kill you for something you didn’t do. I know there will be consequences for your actions Trey, but we all accepted the costs the day we chose to follow you. Any of us could have turned back and left the back the moment we didn’t agree with your decisions, but we stayed. We’re just as guilty as you are. If you can redeem yourself and make up for your mistakes, then there’s hope the rest of us can too. But we need you to guide us, so don’t you dare walk out on us now.”] Amber told him firmly. Amber spoke for her pack, giving their reasons to following his leadership still, despite his mistakes. As for Amber, she had a far more personal motive. The day she sacrificed herself to Helena in order to save her pack, she thought she was making Tink and Trey proud. AS it turned out, all she did was cause herself and her pack more suffering through her own spell-bound actions. Tink was dead and Amber couldn’t protect her… even worse, she had fought with Tink’s murderers, spilled Resistance Blood, and protected Helena as her best friend lay dying. Amber had a lot to make up for. Maybe saving Trey and earning back his trust would be enough to redeem herself too… that is, if Trey would ever fully trust her again.
[#005500 “I’ll talk to Lexi, but I’m not sure how much she’ll trust me. She made me promise her that I wasn’t leading her brother into a death trap. You might not have been responsible, but the hard truth is that Dustin wouldn’t have been in this situation if he hadn’t tried to make peace with us. What I don’t understand is, who would want to hurt the boy?”] Amber asked as they hurried back towards the den. They reached the spot where Trey had dropped his phone only to find it crushed and shattered into pieces. Someone had come back to destroy the evidence.
[#005500 “I’ll fight by your side, Alpha, as I have always done. But as far as forgiveness… I will forgive you the day you stop doubting my loyalty.”] Amber told him, but her tone of voice and the look in her eyes was softer now that it had been before. She had no further anger towards him, just a mutual understanding: they both had things to make up for, but maybe they could mend those ties together. Amber took Dustin’s bloody, mud-stained armband from Trey’s pocket and slid it on to the leader’s wrist as a reminder of what he still had to fight for.
[#005500 “Now, let’s go break the news to Eli and Lexi. They have a right to know the truth.”]
Seeing the commotion, a chubby, tough-looking man from the back of the bar found his target. His alpha sent him here to raise a little hell and it looked like this hunter was the perfect means to do so. Grabbing his pint, the man acted a little sloppier than he actually was. The dimly-lit pub would help to hide his eyes, especially with the way he was squinting and slurring his speech. Most if it was an act, but it was a convincing one.
He made his way over to the hunters, stumbling over his own feet, but seeming eager enough to share his secrets.
[#777766 “Wait, wait, wait… you’ve seen the bastards? I knew I wasn’t [i that] drunk! I seen ‘em too! The Wolf-man! One minute, just a bunch o’ guys, hangn’ out, pickin on this kid, right? They was down by the river, just pushing the twerp around. Jus’ normal guys then BAM! Dogs! Biggest fuckin’ dogs I ever seen! They ripped the little fucker to pieces! Notn’ left of ‘im but a smear o’ blood and a broken phone! And them dogs? One of ‘em stood up and turn back into a dude! Craziest fuckin’ thing I seen in my life!”]
Trey didn’t have any doubts in his mind that Amber would come running to aid Dustin. She knew how important he was and how much Trey respected the kid. After everything he had been through he was sure that Amber wouldn’t want him to suffer anymore. What Trey did doubt and was shocked by was her determination to save his life and to get him out of this mess! He was sure enough his confession would have been the final straw. Amber was patient and understanding, but there was just some truths that crossed boundaries that couldn’t be repaired. His actions had more consequences than redemptions. Yet here Amber was, risking her own life, to save an Alpha who betrayed the very meaning of their Pack. Trey’s life was literally in Amber’s hands and her actions. If it was a fair fight, he knew he could easily beat Anton. With a gun aimed towards the back of his head and no weapons on his person - just saying the wrong thing could set Anton off! He could almost feel Anton’s anger radiating through the barrel of the gun as it pressed harder against the back of his skull, as Amber upped her own threats.
Amber was able to make one prediction that Anton would be too proud to admit and that Trey was too out of it to see for himself. Anton wouldn’t pull that trigger if it meant endangering Raven’s life. She was already injured and if Dustin being missing hadn’t already made his blood boil, seeing Raven hurt was almost toppling him over the edge! If Amber hadn’t managed to get Raven as her hostage, he would have emptied the chamber of his gun into both her and her Alpha without hesitation! As Raven urged him to pull the trigger and Amber challenged his potential action, the frustration built in his eyes and it was becoming increasingly harder to keep his composure.
[b “And it looks like we had no reason to trust you at all. I don’t know what you would do as a Resistance member. Your Alpha couldn’t even uphold his Pack’s honour so I’m guessing none of you have any.”] Anton showed no urge to stand down and certainly no rush to trust the wolf in front of him. The evidence was clear and Anton was quickly starting to learn that words didn’t mean anything without action. It was strange that she was so convinced but all Anton could see was delusion. She was so loyal to her Alpha, she couldn’t see what he had done wrong!
[b “Then you give me Raven back or your Alpha will have a bullet hole in his skull! You’re only out looking for him so if he is alive, you can finish the job, or sway him to join your ranks. Now stop with your excuses and hand over Raven! On the count of three. 3...2...1!”] Anton didn’t hold back. Amber would only have a matter of seconds to hand over Raven because Anton already had his gun aiming straight towards her head! Fortunately Raven was thrown back into his arms, knocking his aim away for a matter of time but he was quick to act. He wrapped a supportive arm around Raven, straightening out the other so his gun was aiming at the pair of rivals in front but also offering another support system for Raven to hold onto if she needed.
Now that Trey was by Amber’s side, he took a deep and composing breath and gave her a look to trust his actions. The longer they stayed here as a threat to each other, the more they burnt the two beat’s fuses. Raven and Anton were acting on emotion: Raven from the loss of her brother and Anton from potentially losing one of the few people he actually cared about!
[+purple “I can guarantee you Dustin would never join our ranks. He is a Sirhan Alpha. We respect that. Raven, you’re right, I made the same mistake and I’m telling you from experience you do not want to do what I have done to my Pack! It starts from your new recruits. We’ll find him. We’ll be in contact as soon as we do.”] Trey assured and the exchange seemed to be doing the trick. With Amber’s weapon lowered and the agreement made, Anton started to lower his and shifted his full strength in holding up his injured partner.
[b “We want Eli and Lexi back before sunrise. You’ve been lucky. You better thank your little sidekick for showing up on time because next time I won’t give her the chance.”] Anton hissed as he tucked his gun back in its holster and started to guide Raven away from the scene. As they got closer to Sirhan territory, he could see Candy already waiting by the door with her arms crossed and frustratingly tapping her foot. Baxter was cowering behind Raven and Anton, not liking what he was returning to.
[+blue “I’m sure we can trust them. You can tell when someone is lying. They wouldn’t be so desperate to insist on the truth. Amber especially! Something happened to Dustin but it wasn’t by Trey’s hands. Beside’s there was no blood splatters on him from an attack. It was pools of blood, like he had been knelt in it. If he attacked, it would have been different splatters on his clothes.”] Baxter insisted but he didn’t have much more of an opportunity to explain. As they reached inside the base, Candy shoved him by the back of his head back inside the building.
[+green “Next time you run out of here you little brat you better tell me first. Raven, sugar, take a seat.”]
[b “This isn’t the time Ca-“]
[+green “You want her leg to heal quickly? Then let me show you what I’ve been up to. Put her in the moonlight and get her to sit down.”] Candy didn’t really instruct. Grabbing Raven’s shoulder she shoved her down on the chair and pulled out a syringe from her pocket, lifting up Raven’s trouser leg to expose the wound.
[+green “This is a mixture of Hybrid blood and Wolf blood, with a few other chems. It can only be administered on a rare occasion, but it should see you heal almost twice as fast as usual in moonlight with substantial wounds. With one like this...the effects should be instant.”] Candy explained and while she did, she wasted no time reaching into Raven’s wound and yanking the bullet out in one swift movement. The moment it was done, she slammed the syringe into the centre and injected her with the serum she had made.
[+green “And whatever use Bax was, if he told you something you better believe it. He’s helped me know who to trust and who not to trust for years.”]
[b “Raven are you ok? Candy...ugh...thanks, yeah. Good job. Sirhan! We need searches to begin across the outskirts of the city! Infiltrate Resistance territory...we can’t let Dustin go under our noses. Look for our Alpha and the moment he is found, you howl! You two, search the Forrest and you three, go to the city.”] Anton started to order but he was beginning to wonder how useful a search would even be... their Alpha disappeared so quickly.
[b “Raven... what if this was a Council attack? Or another Pack? You need time to rest, quick healing or no quick healing we need a Beta here while there is no Alpha. I think I should go search the outskirts of the Council, just in case...”]
Back in Resistance territory, while they were safe from any immediate attack, Trey wanted to get himself and Amber away from the river as quickly as possible. As much as Sirhan did’t trust them, he wasn’t going to be so quick to believe that Raven and Anton would’ve send a secondary attack!!
[+purple “We have to move Amber, back to base. That is if you still want me there? I know you came to save my life but that doesn’t mean I have to stay around. Everything I said was the truth. It’s not a truth I am proud of, but I owed both you and Dustin that. Why did you still come?”] Trey asked though there was a fear in his voice. He wasn’t sure he was prepared for an answer, but he couldn’t hold it off any longer. He had so many questions but each second he used finding out if he was welcomed back or not was a second lost finding Dustin.
[+purple “I let him go and now he’s injured and lost. If you still accept me then I want all resources on finding that boy. As for Lexi and Eli... we need to be delicate. They are a rash family. If...if Dustin is dead, Lexi is the last hope for our species to be united but she won’t have a reason to be strong. Lexi doesn’t trust me Amber, but she trusts you. I think you’re the last person she has right now.”] Trey thought out loud, not exactly sure how they were even going to begin fixing this mess. Lexi would only return to Sirhan once she knew what had happened to her brother, but if she didn’t return then the war between the Pack’s would begin! They also had the added pressure of Dustin and the unknown attackers who sent that picture!
[+purple “I owe you Amber. If you do forgive me - if you do still want me around I swear I won’t make the same mistakes. In Talon’s name I will be the Alpha I should have been this entire time. I’m going to need your help.”]
Laughter erupted in the pub around the group of Hunters who sat in the corner. They had attracted a crowd, each of them leaning in towards the mobile phone replaying the footage of the black wolf in the shadows.
[i “Nico you drunken bastard! Aha! Every week you come in with some story and this has to be your best! Hey! Barry! Have you seen this? He thinks a ... a...ahaha! A wolf in the city! He thinks there are werewolves in the city! Halloween has been and gone Nico! What a guy. Aha!”]`
[+red “I’m telling you it was real! They’re getting closer to us. They’ll rip us to shreds!”]
[i “Oh yeah, like all those Blood Banks being broken into? Even though the police confirmed it was just another break-in? Oh and the Blood Moon which the news confirm every single time we have one: wolves act strangely, loads of them appear dead. It was on that nature program last Saturday too. Happens all the time! Maybe you should move from monsters to ghosts? You’d earn a fortune with these stories!”]
Before the guy taunting Nico could continue, the hunter jumped up from his seat and grabbed the drunk by the neck and slammed him against the wall.
[+red “Your ignorance is the reason we’ll all be dead by their hands!”]
[+grey “Oi! Nico! You’re on your last warning already! Drop him or your barred!”] The landlord shouted from across the bar and to add to his threat, the doorman took a threatening step forward. It wasn’t usually enough to defuse Nico but another hunter rested his hand on his leaders shoulder and whispered in his ear. They had to plan for their next attack. They knew who they were hunting for - they just needed to gather more intelligence. Releasing his fingers from the drunks throat, Nico shoved him away before taking a seat back in the corner.
[+red “We’re surrounded by idiots. We know what we saw and we know what the prize is if we capture them. If we can’t prove it through video, then we’ll bring them to the city. We’ll prove that these monsters exist and we’ll stop our city becoming a victim to these creatures. Now boys, get another round in, and let’s get discussing tactics. I want to be out again before sunrise. They must be around and we have to take advantage while we can!”]
Raven struggled against Amber’s grasp, but the redhead just pulled tighter on her hair, grinding the barrel of the gun into her jaw to emphasize her threat. Amber’s eyes her strikingly set, showing no hesitance at all to pull the trigger if Anton didn’t release her Alpha. She had listened to the entire exchange between Dustin and Trey, hearing things she wished she hadn’t on both sides. She knew Trey’s actions had been rash and misguided, but to hear Dustin counter his intentions, proving that with a little more patience, Tray and Talon’s alliance could have grown even stronger! It was hard to hear that the trust between the two Alphas was so one sided. Amber had always known Trey to be one to seek the best in people and give chances to those most had thrown aside. Now it seemed that he had judged Talon too harshly and dismissed his too quickly. Talon trusted his ally enough to send his successor to Trey for advice in the event of his death... and as it turned out, Trey was the very reason he died!
But it wasn’t just the words that concerned Amber, another crushing blow came from the silence that stretched between the two after Trey had admitted he never meant for Talon to die. Amber cursed beneath her breath, wishing she could have been at Trey’s side to explain the impact of his words. She had always been good at understanding people and she knew, even without seeing the devastation on Dustin’s face, that he had misunderstood, shifting the blame for Talon’s death onto his own shoulders.
Before he had left, Trey warned Amber that what’s he heard on that radio may make her wish her Alpha away, but that wasn’t the case at all. Amber may have heard the haunting truth, but she also heard remorse, guilt, shame, and even madness. It made her realize that Trey was still traumatized by the loss of Tink and had he been in his right mind, he never would have acted so rashly. She knew he wouldn’t make that mistake again, now that he knew the consequences of judging so impulsively. Trey was still redeemable and Amber would do everything in her power to bring her Alpha back from this.
Glaring at Anton, Amber made her treats. She knew he wouldn’t risk it. He cared far more about saving Raven than he did about killing Trey.
[#005500 “You didn’t do shit Anton! [i Lexi] was the one who welcomed me! [i Lexi] was the one who trusted me! Do you really think I’d thank her for that by defending the man who killed her twin brother? Trey did not hurt Dustin!”] Amber insisted, knowing that if these accusations were true, she would have heard some signs of a struggle over the radio. All she heard was Dustin leaving, Trey standing still for moments in silence before his footsteps finally led him away, then the sound of a phone and Trey calling Dustin’s name in desperation! There was no fight, no struggle, and no cry for help. If Trey had killed Dustin, she would have heard it!
[#005500 “Be smart Anton. You lost your Alpha and now you’re out for blood. Do you honestly believe I’ll be any different? If you hurt Trey, I WILL kill her!”] Amber demanded, her only doubt being Trey’s orders for her to drop her weapon. She was torn between obedience to her Alpha and the need to protect him. If she dropped her gun now, Anton could kill her best friend! Amber was almost relieved when Anton turned the gun at her!
[#005500 “Listen to the kid, Anton! I could have come here with an army of vamps, hybrids, and wolves alike, but I came alone! The Resistance are out there looking for Dustin, why would we do that if we were the ones who attacked him?”] Amber argued. When Anton first proposed the trade, she looked hesitant, but Amber would do anything to get her Alpha out of immediate harm. Finally, she agreed and shoved the injured Beta over to her partner. With the bullet still lodged in her calf, the force of the shove sent Raven stumbling into Anton’s arms, giving Amber time to readjust her aim at Anton while standing firmly by her Alpha’s side. She didn’t dare lower her weapon until Trey ordered her to, dropping her arm but keeping her threatening gaze on Anton’s gun.
[b “You have some nerve lecturing me about trusting my pack, Trey. From what I’ve heard, you don’t listen to your members either. And don’t you dare refer to Anton as a junkie! People change Trey! Maybe if you had learned that a little sooner, my brother would still be alive!”] Raven growled, blocking out the pain in her leg with sheer rage and hatred.
[b “Fine, we put this on hold until Dustin is found. But I swear to you Trey, if I find out you hurt him in ANY way, Sirhan will tear the Resistance apart! Send Lexi and Eli back, and if you hear anything, ANYTHING, about Dustin, you let us know immediately! You want us to believe you didn’t hurt that injured, unarmed, defenceless little kid? Then you better find out who did!”] Raven was nearly trembling with rage, gripping on to Anton’s forearm so tight she was likely causing a bruise – but to be honest, he was the only thing keeping her grounded at the moment. Raven knew that had she faced Trey along, she would have tried to murder him by now, regardless of what Amber or Baxter might say. In Raven’s mind, they were letter a murderer walk free! She didn’t believe Trey would be able to prove his innocence, because she honestly thought he was guilty! No matter how much Trey had professed to care for the boy in the past, he was unpredictable. If he could pin Talon down for the slaughter, he was perfectly capable of doing the same for the boy.
[#005500 “Hey kid! Thank you for seeing the truth. I’ll make sure nothing happens to Lexi or her father for as long as they’re in our care.”] Amber promised, remembering how Lexi mentioned that Baxter was her friend from school. That was the only reason Amber could think of to explain why the kid would try to protect her. If that was the case, she would return the favour, and defend Lexi and Eli with her life.
[b “Anton, we have to get back to the Den and send Sirhan out on a search of our own. Until we find Dustin, we assume he’s still alive. I won’t give up on him, not this time. Baxter… are you sure about them? Both Trey and Amber have fooled us before, they’re not trustworthy, and they would have motive to get rid of our new Alpha. You said you could read people so I’ll trust your instincts, but I need to know… are you sure Trey didn’t hurt Dustin?”] Raven asked as she backed away from Trey and Amber, reluctantly agreeing to let the two Resistance members walk away.
Across the city, the guilty party returned to their own territory. With the blood of their victim still staining their clothes, they headed straight to the den to report to their new Alpha. With Mitch dead, his own Beta stepped up to the role, a man who was no less cruel or malicious than Mitch. In fact, where Mitch was power-hungry, driven by greed and authority, Victor was much worse. He was a monster without reason. He loved chaos, thirsted for anarchy, and sought madness in everything he did. A master strategist who just wanted to watch the world burn – a scary combination when given the right to control an entire pack! And once Sirhan and the Resistance were out of the picture, Victor would rule the strongest pack in the city!
[#777766 “Hey Vic, It’s done! The boy’s dead.”] Called the man with the bat, still swinging the bloody weapon by his side. The Alpha turned to his followers with an eerie grin, taking far too much pleasure in the news that a young boy was dead because of him.
[#996622 “Dead? You’re sure? From what I’ve seen, that Palmer kid is a slippery little bastard. He’s escaped Mitch before when we killed all his little initiate friends. He even slithered out from the Council’s hands once or twice. You sure he’s dead?”]
[#777766 “We dragged him to the river, tied the brat to a cement block and tossed him in, just like you told us too. Not that we needed to, we beat the kid to a pulp before that. I doubt he was still alive when he tossed him in, but even if he was, he’s drowned by now. And the packs won’t find his body at the bottom of the river.”] The pack confirmed, wincing at the amused laughter that erupted from their new leader. By the hysterical sounds, you’d think someone had just told this guy a joke, instead of the murder of a teenager.
[#996622 “Haha! That’s beautiful! Oh, I hope the brat was still alive! Helena likes to drown her pets, I can only imagine how terrified the kid would be if he woke up at the bottom of the river! Either way, the Sirhan will blame the Resistance, the Resistance will want to kill the Sirhan, and the famous little Lexi Kane will be far too distraught from losing her brother-dear to care about the Council. But I don’t know boys, I still think we can do better! Frank, why don’t you head down to the pub for a few pints? I hear the Hunters like that place on 5th street. A few drunken rants about ‘monsters’ and ‘wolf-men’ will send those lunatics right into the middle of our little game! Can’t get much more fun than that!”]
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