The Protectors
Author: Fox Wild

Chapter 10
Building A Better Mouse Trap

Chapter 10

 

Building A Better Mouse Trap

 

 

 

Duncan lifted his head, his body hurt.  How long had he been out.  He had been with the others, they were jumped from the back and both sides.  They looked human, they hadn’t changed into their dark form.  One of them attached him, kicked him hard.  He remembered flying back, he had gone high in the air.  Duncan could remember landing, then the lights went out. 

 

He looked around in the light from the full moon.  He could see a field, they had been in the woods, he must have been drug here.  He could hear water, it sounded like waves on a lake.  His head was pounding, it was hard to breathe.  Duncan felt his chest. Might have some broken ribs.  He heard the sound of grass crunching. 

 

Duncan looked up, a man was walking towards him.  He tried to rise, but his leg gave way.  It wasn’t broke, just dislocated from his hip and his ankle wouldn’t hold him up.  The man came right up to him, his eyes were black.  He smiled down at him, he could see the fangs extending from his devils smile.  He laughed at Duncan. 

 

“You really are a pain in the ass, you know that?”  The man’s poetically haunting voice said.

 

Duncan looked away from the man, he could see a form lying on the ground, that of a werewolf.  It was on its side.  He watched as the form slowly reverted back to its human form.  He could see scars on the persons back.  Werewolves reverted back to human form when they died.

 

“Since you took my favorite piece of ass from me, I thought I would return the favor.”  The man said to him, laughing slow after he did, driving a dagger of loss deeper into Duncan’s heart.

 

Duncan looked at the man.  “Who the hell are you?”  He asked

 

“You’re funny, really now, I’m the only one left that gives a rats ass about you Galt.”  The man replied, giving an evil smile to Duncan.

 

“You’re Alexander?  Funny, I was expecting, more.  You look like more of a girly boy than anything to me.”  Duncan said  in a snide tone.  “But then again, you are a coward, always running and hiding when things turn sour for you.”  He taunted.

 

Duncan felt around his body, dug into the pouches on the belt of his bloody uniform.  Empty.  Even his pistol was gone.

 

“What’s the matter chicken shit, no holy water?”  Alexander said as he reached for him.

 

He picked Duncan up with one hand by his chest and held him up off the ground.  Turning him to face the opposite direction Alexander grabbed him by the neck and held him by his neck and head then started walking with Duncan’s feet a good two feet off the ground, his grip tightening on his neck, he felt bones pop.

 

“I’ve got some water for you.”  Alexander said as he carried him towards a small lake that had a dock in front of them with a small wooden boat tied to it. 

 

He swung Duncan like a doll as he carried him along.  He punched Duncan in the back, once, then swung him some more, twice he was punched in the back, the swinging became greater, Duncan feared his neck might break. 

 

Alexander punched him in the back again, this time hard enough Duncan felt bones crack, he almost went out as the force of the blow bent his body forward nearly separating his spinal cord at the base of his neck. 

 

He would have called out from the pain, but Alexander’s fingers were now cutting off his air.  He was getting light headed as he heard the sounds of Alexander’s footsteps on the dock.  Duncan caught a breath when Alexander grabbed the back of his uniform by the neck and let go of him from his other hand.

 

“Say hello to your little bitch for me.”  Alexander said with his mouth right next to Duncan’s right ear.

 

Alexander knelt down and plunged Duncan’s head into the water of the lake at the end of the dock and held him there.  Duncan clawed at the dock, pulled on the pole supports trying to free himself from Alexander’s grip.  He felt Alexander’s other hand grab the back of his head as he tried to lift it up for air and shove his head deeper into the water. 

 

He was out of breath, he couldn’t hold it any longer, he was starting to go unconscious.  His chest convulsed expelling the spent air from his lungs, immediately trying to bring in more air, water filled his mouth and throat.  His body tried to cough, this only made his muscles try and inhale, pulling water into his lungs, things became dark.

 

Duncan felt something hit his face, he heard the sound of a slap, his face stung.

 

“Duncan!  Wake up!”  Snow’s panicked voice cried out to him.  She slapped him again, his eyes snapped open.  “Duncan!”  She shook him.

 

“Yeah, yeah, I’m awake!”  He yelled, gasping.

 

“You were thrashing around, you were holding your breath, are you alright?”  Snow asked as her voice eased into a sound of relief.

 

“Yes, fine, just a bad dream is all.  I’m alright.”  He assured her.

 

Snow was straddling him, she leaned forward and hugged him.  “You’ve been having those a lot lately, you really had me worried this time.”

 

She released him and laid back down beside him as Duncan took her in his arms.  “Yeah, well, I guess it’s from what we’re up against.  Can’t even escape it in my sleep.”  He said to her, she clutched him close.

 

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Over the next two weeks the teams trained, other forces from other clans were coordinated and hunt parties started taking action in rural areas near where Alexander was thought to be.  Intelligence reports from the recon teams were pouring in. 

 

The strategists were working overtime with the information.  About midway through the first week, they had a visitor.  Patriarch Frost came to deliver word to his daughter.  She tried to invite him into the den with a formal welcome, but he refused.  He asked they speak in the den house instead.

 

“I wanted you to have first knowledge of this, before it came from across the water.”  Her father said to her and handed her a sealed envelope.  Snow unfolded the paper it contained and read that she was officially no longer disavowed from the clan of her birth.

 

Snow set the paper down.  “Thank you patriarch Frost.”  She said to him, her face was long and her voice held the sound of sorrow.

 

“I’m sorry Madelyn, that woman never should have been your mother.  I hope you can find it within yourself to forgive my poor judgment.”  Patriarch Frost admitted to his daughter.

 

She lifted her head and looked at him.  “There is nothing to forgive father, I have never held anything against you.”  Snow smiled.

 

Lord Frost went and picked up the large duffel he had set by the door and brought it to her.  “I want you to have these back.  They never should have been taken from you in the first place.”  He told his daughter.

 

Snow’s face showed hope.  She took the bag and brought it to the table and opened it.  She pulled a long item wrapped in velvet, and pulled a second that matched it.  She set them side by side on the table, then slowly pulled the cloth covers back. 

 

Two long swords that looked custom made lay inside the wraps.  The grips were handles with guards in front that came from the blade.  Beyond the handles the blade went back and formed a shorter blade, they were double ended swords.  They had a soft blue hue to them. 

 

Snow stared at them, her face glowed with pleasure seeing her old blades before her.  They were her own design, to fit her fighting style.  Her mother wouldn’t let her take them with her, claiming they belonged to the clan and as an outcast she wasn’t entitled to them. 

 

She reached into the bag again and pulled out two large disks with blades coming from the edges like an insane saw blade.  Snow laughed seeing them.  Then she pulled a boomerang from the bag.  She now had all her favorite toys. 

 

Snow became a bit misty as she looked over the weapons her mother had taken from her that her father returned to her.  “Thank you father, I am touched that you kept these for me and took time to bring them to me.” 

 

Father and daughter embraced then he left her house.  As he walked out the door, he paused and told Snow, he was proud of her.

 

Though Clan Frost was in dishonor, it was still a noble clan, though it could not claim any rights from their status because of the dishonor.  It was intended that Snow would mate and start her own clan, the clan she started would be an honorable noble clan as the dishonor did not extend to her.  Her mother had tried to prevent this.

 

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“Duncan, you pain in the ass!”  Kevashka yelled at him from across the floor of the den.  She walked up fast as Duncan turned to face her.  She stopped as she rammed him in the chest with her ample breasts, knocking him back.  She closed on him again, this time with not so much force but still pushing hard into him.

 

“Is something wrong?”  Duncan asked feeling a bit disturbed. 

 

“I just wanted to tell you, your tactics, they work good, I might even say great but I won’t you prick.”  Kevashka growled.  “Teams have had improved success from them.  I am recommending your tactics be used back home, asshole.” 

 

He nodded, though Kevashka’s face held its usual angered look, her eyes were smiling at him.  He did good, she wanted him to know that.  She was laying it on heavy, his ideas must have worked really well for them.  “Thanks, mangy dog.”  Duncan said with a smile.

 

Kevashka turned and started striding away. 

 

“Kevashka,”  He called to her, she paused and looked back, “you’re really a bitch, you know that?”  He finished.

 

Kevashka turned around and walked fast back to Duncan.  She grabbed his head and turned it sideways, then kissed him on the cheek.  “Thanks for noticing.”  She said and growled at him, then walked away with a spring in her step.

 

Duncan shook his head laughing to himself and walked back to the training area.  He didn’t know it then, but a complement in any form from a strategist, was very rare.

 

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“She what!”  Snow yelled at Duncan.

 

“It was just on the cheek.”  Duncan assured, he had told her what happened with Kevashka.

 

“Duncan, she gave you a complement, and she thanked you.  Tacticians NEVER give complements, let alone thank someone!”  Snow’s face displayed her shock.  “That must have been some hellatious strategy you gave her.  You were complemented by her, Kevashka, inconceivable!”  She went on.

 

Duncan raised his hands and shook his head with a laugh over her reaction, relieved she wasn’t mad.  “I don’t see what the big deal is, the strat worked good, she said she wouldn’t say great, but good.  Even told me she had recommended my strategy be used where she comes from.”  He informed her.

 

Snow blinked at him.  “She actually said, ‘your strategy’?  Not ‘the strategy’?”  She asked to confirm what he said.

 

“Yes.”  He answered.  “Her exact words were ‘I am recommending your tactics be used back home, asshole’.”

 

Snow’s jaw dropped.  “You have to be joking, inconceivable!  She complements you, thanks you and recommends use in your name.  Kevashka, she has actually carried out some of the threats she has issued, kicked a commander in the ass across the room!  And she complemented you!  Inconceivable!”  She ranted.

 

“You know, you keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means.”  Duncan said with a cocky grin in a mimicking voice.

 

“Funny, very funny Duncan.  I don’t think you realize how, rare, I would even say special it is to actually have a strategist complement anyone.”   She shook her head more.  Kevashka had a reputation, in all her years she had never once complemented anyone.  “Did she insult you?”  Snow asked.

 

“Of course, right from the get go.”  He answered with a shrug.

 

“No, not like when she talks to us, when she called you by name, did she include insults as though they were part of your name?”  She asked prying hard into the events.

 

Duncan thought back trying to remember exactly what Kevashka had said when she called to him.  “Yeah, I guess, she said ‘Duncan, you pain in the ass’, called me a few other names too.”

 

“Inconceivable!”  Snow said again, then snapped a finger at Duncan.  “No!  I know what it means and I get your humor, I am just, amazed, you of all people get a complement from a strategist.”  She said, then realizing how what she said sounded bit down on her lip, her face crunched in regret for how what she said sounded.

 

“You mean a human.”  Duncan said coldly.

 

Snow’s face showed her apologetic feelings, she could feel her foot clear down her throat.  “That’s not what I meant, that didn’t come out right, I didn’t mean because you were human.”  She explained.  Her voice wavering from her embarrassment for how what she said came out.

 

“Well, we all can’t be valiant warriors and the best at gadgets, can we.”  Duncan said then walked away, leaving the den house and returning to the garage to go to the den.

 

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Malkah was working in his shop, he had asked Duncan and Snow to stop by, Duncan was by himself after leaving Snow in the house.

 

“What’s up Q?”  Duncan asked with a touch of humor in his voice.

 

“Who?  Q?”  Malkah asked when Duncan approached him.

 

“Nothing, bad joke, so what’s up in the world of gadgets?”  He asked.

 

Malkah pulled out a flashlight from a pile of stuff on another bench and set it down near Duncan.

 

“Well, this is what I came up with, and we had a couple hunt teams try the torch in the field,”  He made a disappointed face, “the results weren’t as good as I hoped.  As a weapon, failure, only seems to have an affect if closer then three feet.”

 

He picked the flashlight up and fumbled with it while scoffing at the light while Duncan watched.  “Major downside, however, in that close of range it does repel vampires.  I may have an application for it for our humans should they be grabbed, but a torch design, probably not the best.  Sorry.”  The young man told him.

 

“No problem Malkah, you gave it your best shot, so the first invention didn’t work, you’ll come up with something I’m sure.”  Duncan said, patting the boy on the shoulder.

 

“Thanks sir Galt, speaking of shot, Silence has something to show you, I think you’ll like it, she and Hovlek had better success than I did.”  Malkah informed him.

 

Duncan thanked him and went off to find Silence.  She was in the arsenal bulwark.  When he walked in her face broke into a greeting smile.  She was loading bolts into small quivers like Snow wore.

 

“Sir Duncan.”  She greeted him as she set what she was working on down and came to him.  “True is it, Kevashka gave to you a compliment?”  She asked.

 

He nodded a little.  “Yes, she did, I still don’t see the big deal.  Everyone has been talking about it.”  He answered feeling a bit sheepish.

 

“Congratulations.  Something to be proud of for you it truly is.  Strategists, a hard job they have.  They do not let people get… comfortable with them, not liked by the people they structure for.  If one were to feel so with a person giving them tactics, that one may feel like friend and change tactic.  That their friend wouldn’t mind.  Things go poorly when this happens.”  Silence told him.

 

She pursed her lips and looked down.  “Strategists are lonely people because of this.  No friends do they have.  The only ones they speak respectful with are the bishops, as they commune with the Light, they are the only ones to speak to a strategist if they are in error.  Like bishop, strategist must be strong with the Light.  The Light aids them with their tactics.”  She explained. 

 

Duncan considered her words.  Thought back to his own time with the company.  Even their strategists had an attitude, and weren’t ones that would get invited to dinner with friends. “Don’t get to close.”  He said from his thoughts.

 

Silence nodded. 

 

Duncan looked over at the quiver she had been loading. “I’ve been wondering for some time, how is it that those things can hold so much, you know all those bolts when they aren’t even the same length as the bolt.”  He ask, his curiosity once again rekindled.

 

“You have heard of tesseract of fable?”  Silence asked

 

Duncan looked away and pondered for a moment.  “You mean like the house, it was bigger on the inside than on the outside?”

 

“Yes, that is what I ask.  This is like that.  Humans might call it magic, dimensional pocket.  There is game where it is called a bag of holding.  To us it is part of our science.”  She told him.

 

Silence held her hands over the quiver as she explained more.  “It uses a type of blessing, like holy water only different, not same.  It is good for smaller items, like this quiver here.  Bishops use this science for holding holy water in vast amounts in small area.”  She answered Duncan who’s eyebrows were raised. 

 

The more he learned about werewolves, the more he was impressed by what they could do.  “Fascinating.”  He said looking at the quiver.  “So, could you do that with a house?”  He asked the obvious question.

 

She smiled softly.  “Oh, no, house, much too big.  Quivers, sheaths, bottles, as I said, small items, this is not something to toy with.  Blessed items, hard to make and only used for the hunt.  Frivolous things would be disrespectful of the Light.”  Silence  explained.

 

She turned from him and walked over to another part of the bulwark then opened a locker at the end of a work bench and pulled out a modified shotgun.  Duncan could see the barrels were thicker than normal, the gun had a pistol grip and another handle midway down its barrels.

 

Silence held the weapon up showing it to him.  “Hovlek, he has made this for you.  It uses your concept and Sadness’s lights.  The cartridges are modified also.  This blaster is heavier than normal because of the cartridges used.”  She told him setting the weapon down in front of him on a bench.

 

Silence went back to the locker and retrieved more items, a case of shells and one of the slugs that would be the new and improved vampire hide piercing kind.  Duncan inspected the shotgun.  It had some weight to it.  The barrels had what looked like a rifling in them.

 

She held up one of the cartridges.  “This powder in these, far more powerful than standard.  Not for use in regular shotgun, would blow it apart.  Chamber is bigger than one you used, some to prevent use in wrong gun, some to provide space for bullet.”  She explained as she put the new slug in front of Duncan.

 

It was somewhat long for a slug and did more resemble a bullet, with its pointed end.  The slug was coated and the back had little nubs that protruded from it and small ridges where the taper stopped.

 

She pointed to the part he was wondering about.  “Now, see when this is shot at target, these ridges here, they cause stops to come from back of the projectile.”  Silence said as she pressed on three of the ridges. 

 

At the end of the slug, curved barbs snapped out about a quarter inch.  “These stop the projectile from fully entering body.  When they catch,” She picked up two sets of needle nosed pliers and forced back on the barbs from the top and bottom, “it opens, then, as you designed, the orb inside is pushed out, Hovlek modified your design to add more thrust out, needed since bullet wont be fully inside, and may be grabbed by target.”

 

“Nice, I like it, is the outside coated or something?”  Duncan asked.

 

“Yes, it’s like Teflon, but not, it functions the same way, it lets the projectile more easily enter through hide of vampire.”  She explained.

 

Silence moved to the back of the bulwark and returned with a portable target on wheels.  In the center of the supports was what looked like a layered piece of leather.  She showed it to Duncan, it was leather layers with thin metal layers in between each of layers of leather.  The leather was stiff like saddle leather.

 

“This is to be like vampire hide.  Though it is thicker than actual hide, it provides the same toughness, as best we can make.”  She told him.

 

Silence picked up the shotgun and pushed a round into the receiver on its bottom, then handed the weapon to Duncan.  It was an automatic type with a small lever on the breach for cocking and loading.  Silence pointed to the target.

 

“This cartridge has less powder, slug has longer shank, for demonstration.”  She told him.  “Go ahead, take shot, give it a try.”

 

Duncan held the gun and aimed it at the target.  He took in mind that Silence had said the powder was more powerful than normal, considering werewolf tendency to understate things to a human perspective, he braced himself the best he could and held on hard. 

 

He cocked the gun and put the round in the chamber then reached for the handle in the middle of the barrels.  The gun kicked pretty good when the right barrel discharged.  He could see from where he was standing, the slug was stuck in the leather. 

 

Walking to the other side of the target, the bullet stuck out and was open, the orb was caught in the net at the bottom of the target.  Silence was smiling, she could read the approval on Duncan’s face.

 

“This holds fifty cartridges, one trigger, fires barrels left then right, loading both after right fires, in normal operation.”  She pointed to the back of the barrels where there was a small hollow area. 

 

“This will show red when loaded with live cartridge.  You can manually load either side if no live cartridge is in.  By pressing this button forward, you lock to fire both barrels at same time, should you want to.”  Silence told him while pointing out what she was talking about.

 

“You like, yes?”  She asked.  Duncan was getting used to her accent, though he couldn’t place where it was from.

 

“Like, love it.  This can be used by human and werewolf both.  We’re going to need every edge we can get I believe.”  Duncan said setting the shotgun down on the bench again.

 

He left Silence to her work and went to what would be his last training session on staying alive.  He had texted Snow and asked her to meet him during training when she had a moment.  When she arrived he took a pause from the training and spoke with her privately.  When Snow left the office they had spoke in, she was smiling.

 

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Kevashka had returned from visiting the staging area in Oregon early that morning, she called for a meeting of operations team members to give a status report.  Following that she had all crew members gather in the great hall while she went over plans and timeframes for their operation, which would be starting the next day. 

 

She was living up to her name during the meeting.  Duncan could see the stress on her from the gravity of the operation.  Their success or failure rested on her shoulders.  This would be one of the largest collective operation in werewolf history, the largest that any current living werewolf would have ever seen, with the exception of the immortals. 

 

It was during this meeting a missing member of Duncan’s original team showed up, a nervous man at her side. 

 

When Mud walked in, everyone stopped talking and turned to face her.  People started leaving, some that passed by the man beside Mud gave him fowl looks, they seemed not to approve of the man.  Kevashka, Snow, Duncan, Max and Meadow were soon all that were left standing in the room.  When Duncan looked over at Snow, he saw the same look on her face that was present when Snow had returned to her mother.

 

“Princess Snow of the Moor, Lady Sadness of Trust, I present my mate, Morning Dew.”  Mud said, her face long, her eyes never meeting with Snow’s.  Mud unconsciously took a step away from the man beside her.  Snow crossed her arms and continued to stare at Mud.

 

Morning Dew looked at Snow, his expression and body displayed his uncertainty.  “Lady Sadness of House Trust, I have recently completed penance, I have begged forgiveness of my mate, I have been granted the right to ask that I be of service to you by her side as part of my atonement.”

 

He bowed to Snow then continued.  “I have been training for the last twenty years for combat, so that I may be of use to a hunt party instead of retired.  As wretched, I beg of you, allow me to atone myself for my mate in combat and honor the Light in your service.”  Morning Dew said, then took to bent knee before Snow.

 

Snow relaxed her stance, uncrossed her arms then spoke to Mud.  “Mud, I grant you place within my den, in the name of Lord Floyd, patriarch of House Trust.”

 

Mud bowed to Snow.  “Thank you my Lady.”  She responded.

 

“Is it your will and desire Mud, that your mate become part of your service to the high houses in our duty to them?”  Snow asked. 

 

If Mud refused his request, she would be allowed to stay as Snow had granted her asylum within the operation Snow commanded, not quite like that clan Strong Oak had given to her, but still a better place then were she currently was.

 

“It is, my Lady Sadness.”  Mud replied, her head still cast down.

 

“Stand.”  Snow said to Mud’s mate, turning her eyes to him.  “It is because of the respect for Mud,”  Snow’s eyes moved to Mud, “and the debt I owe her,”  Snow’s eyes returned to Morning Dew, “that I grant her request of allowing you to serve here.”

 

Duncan stepped forward, rage in his blood.  He slammed his chest against the man and spit in his face.

 

“I have a werewolf slayer in my possession, but for Mud’s sake, I won’t kill you, but if you do anything to cause my sister pain or endanger her in anyway, I will frelling have an oubliette of forgetfulness dug and you put in it!”  Duncan said to the man in a seething voice.

 

When he turned to move back to Snow’s side, she was recoiling from him, as was everyone else, even Mud.  Duncan took his place and Snow’s side, not looking at anyone, he felt he may have done something wrong.  Even Kevashka had backed from him. 

 

Snow regained herself.  “It’s settled then, I will have someone make a room for you and help you get settled.”  She said to Mud and her mate, slowly moving back close to Duncan.  She pulled out her smart phone and placed a call, a young man came to them and quickly took Mud and Morning Dew from them.

 

Once Duncan was back in the den house with Snow he came to her with an apologetic face.  “I’m sorry if I did something wrong back there, with Mud’s, mate.”  He said to her, holding back an insulting name for the man.

 

“No, actually, what you did was, noble.  You did right.  It’s, the…”  Snow fought for the words she wanted to use.  “It was nothing you did Duncan.  It was, I don’t understand how, but your scent.  What we picked up from you, scared us.”

 

She took in his face as she explained.  “Such a scent, from Lord Leyland, or a patriarch protecting his clan, yes, but from you, we never expected such from a human, very strong, you meant what you said and your scent told us you weren’t lying or exaggerating in the least.”  Snow finished.

 

Duncan looked down, he had meant it, he knew Mud’s mate would understand what he was telling him.  He had read of such things he mentioned to the man and what they were for back at House Trust.  The oubliette was a pit of suffering.  The werewolf put in one was excommunicated for life, suffering until their natural time to die arrived.  Regenerating though starvation.  It was worse than retirement.

 

“The oubliette is being made.”  Snow told him. 

 

When he looked to her face, he understood, she was supporting him in what he had said, and felt the same as he.  Morning Dew had tried to kill Mud, this would have ended his own life as well, this was the only reason he still lived, as no one would cast Mud to die with him. 

 

Mud was giving him the chance to redeem himself, though she clearly did not trust the man.  Snow had ordered that two rooms be made for them, not one.  Mud was to have a room on the upper level, while he was to be down in the tenement area, the same that Duncan and Snow had been taken to in clan Strong Oak originally.

 

Mud had requested to attend Snow and Duncan in Julia’s stead as she was out in the field.  Snow had agreed to this even though she would be moving out to begin operations the next day.  Duncan had wondered why Mud wasn’t around, but since no one else spoke of her, he thought it best if he left the matter alone. 

 

He later learned that she had been across the water before the Supreme Bishop of Clans to plead for her mate to be given a chance for redemption though service to the clans, now that his penance was completed.  He was very familiar  with the type of oubliette Duncan spoke of, the place of solitude.

 

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The house intercom went off.  Snow answered it. “Lady Sadness, Mud the fair, we are ready if you will receive us.”  She said though the new speaker.

 

“Thank you Mud, enter.”  Snow said.

 

The floor in the entry dropped, forming its stairs for the people joining them for the private evening meal they were to have that night.  Mud led the way escorting Kevashka into the den house and announcing her to Snow and Duncan. 

 

They gave her a tour of the house while Mud was busy in the kitchen area.  When they returned from the upstairs to the sitting room Duncan motioned for Kevashka to sit.

 

“Kevashka, Snow and I have discussed you, and agree that when you are within these walls, here in the den house, you are no longer Kevashka the bitch, strategist and tactician. Here with us, you are our friend, and only within this house.  Outside, when you leave here, nothing that has transpired here in this house exists.  Understood?”  Duncan said with Snow at his side.

 

“Sir Duncan...”  Kevashka started, cut off by Snow.

 

“Hold, no, not sir, not lady, within these walls I am Snow and this is Duncan.”  She said giving Kevashka a soft smile.

 

Kevashka paused to think.  She nodded slightly in understanding.  Lifting her eyes and face to them, her eyes warmed. “Thank you.”  She said.  It was Duncan’s idea she could see, and Snow thought it a good one.

 

Duncan walked over to a small table where Mud had set three bottles of beer, opened, for them.  He grabbed two in one hand and one in the other and handed it to Kevashka and then took one of the two in his other hand and gave one to Snow.

 

“So, Kevashka, ever roasted marshmallows over a camp fire?”  Duncan asked.

 

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They were almost finished with dinner when the intercom chimed.  Mud answered it. “Tell Lady Sadness and Sir Duncan that we have a car approaching, we ran the plates and it’s registered to clan Frost, we can stop it if they desire.”  A mans voice said from the speaker.

 

“Tell them to allow it.”  Snow said to Mud who did as she requested. 

 

Mud closed the stairs as Snow and Duncan took their places at the door, Kevashka stood behind them.  Her face had returned to its professional state.  She had let her hair down, as it were, with Snow and Duncan, but now had to maintain herself as who she was.

 

There was a knock on the door.  Mud answered it.

 

“Sea Mist, welcome, this is unexpected.”  Snow said to her sister.

 

“Lady Sadness, thank you.  I have come to speak with you on a personal matter.”  Sea Mist said.

 

“If you will excuse me Lady Sadness.”  Kevashka said then promptly left, heading for the garage.

 

Snow led her sister and the man who had been behind her to the sitting room. Once they were seated Snow looked at her sister, waiting for her to explain herself.

 

“I am sorry to bother you at such an hour, but I have come to join your operation.  As you know, I am an accomplished archer, something you do not currently have I am told.”  Sea Mist began.

 

Snow’s face became taunt.  “You are unmated, you know the law, as unmated you cannot be part of a hunt, we do not have any raid forces ourselves, and acceptance into one of those outside of from clan Frost would be hard.”  She told her sister.

 

“I understand this Lady Sadness, but there is another means, you are commander of the operations unit, though not a patriarch, you can request a mating.  This is Blade Dance.  He is master of the ballista, and would fight beside me.  I have chosen him.”  Sea Mist requested of her sister.

 

Snow looked intently at her sister.  This was a most bizarre and strange request.  She was circumventing the normal means of mating.  She was also too young.  Snow was reluctant to grant her request, she intended to send her sister back to her father.

 

“Does patriarch Frost know of this, what you have done and what you are requesting?  This is a very serious matter.”  She questioned and stated.

 

Sea Mist looked at her intended mate.  He put his arm across her shoulder in a sign of support.  Snow looked at the crests of the two.

 

She took a breath before answering, her chest shuddered as she did.  “Yes, sister, it was our father who told me to do this.  He said you would know why.”  Sea Mist informed Snow, almost in tears.

 

Snow turned and started from the room.  “Duncan, follow.”  She said, her voice low and hard. 

 

Duncan did as she asked. When they were away from their two unexpected guests Snow turned to face him, she had her smart phone in her hand. “She’s right, I do understand.  My mother would never stand for her mating with a man from a commoner’s clan.”  She said as she dialed.

 

The call Snow placed was directly to Lord Leyland himself, who took her call.  She explained what was going on and that, unless he disapproved, she would contact the Supreme Bishop of Clans and request permission to mate the two as was allowed by their law as she was in command of the unit by Lord Floyd’s and his order.  Her next call was to the Bishop.  After she spoke with the Bishop, having the phone on speaker so Duncan could hear, they returned to their waiting guests.

 

“Your mating will be in the morning.”  Snow informed them then turned her head over her shoulder and yelled.  “Mud!”   

 

Mud came into the room.  “Yes my Lady?”  She asked, clearly happy to be attending Snow.

 

“Take these two to separate rooms, mid level.  Then have Kevashka return to us.”  Snow ordered to Mud.  She turned back to her sister and her intended.  “You have interrupted a private dinner between myself, my partner Sir Duncan and our lead strategist, now, please follow Mud the fair.” 

 

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Duncan had started a fire near the cliffs in front of the house when Kevashka rejoined them.  Snow had given order that no one was to bother them and that all stay in the den. 

 

The last part was mostly because of the business of the next day, but part was for privacy.  It took a little time, but while Duncan helped her learn the fine art of toasting a marshmallow, Kevashka finally let her hair down again.

 

Lord Mort had the luxury of also being the patriarch of a House.  It was expected of him to be hospitable, at least during the day, and entertain guests.  Kevashka didn’t have such a luxury. 

 

Mud stayed near them the entire time, as a good attendant should.  Someone performing her duties was never referred to as ‘servant’, there were no servants in clans, outside of clan Frost.  A good attendant never spoke of matters of the ones they attended to, their interactions and events.  And Mud was a very good attendant. 

 

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“Mud, bring me my guitar please, would you?”  Snow asked as she and Duncan sat by the fire after Kevashka left them for the evening. 

 

As Kevashka was leaving, she assured Duncan he was a pain in the ass, and said the weapon he and his snot sucking garbage dump of a partner had helped create would be a value to hunt teams.  Though this time she insulted them with a smile and a hug as she left.

 

When Mud returned she was carrying two cases.  “I wasn’t sure which one you wanted my Lady, so I brought them both.”  She said and set the cases down between Snow and Duncan where they sat looking out over the cliffs.  “I also brought beer.”  Mud said as she pulled two bottles out from her pockets.

 

Duncan laughed and thanked her for the beer.

 

“Thank you Mud the fair, you are relieved for the night.  See you in the den tomorrow.”  Snow said to her.

 

“Thank you my Lady, Sir Duncan.”  She said then left the two of them to their own.

 

“So you do play.”  Duncan said to Snow, opening the case she hadn’t and looked at the twelve string inside, eventually picking it up as Snow messed with the six string she held.

 

“Yes, most of my kind play an instrument of some kind.  It just goes with who we are.  You should hear Mud on the saxophone, I got to sit in with her once.  She’s good.”  She told him.

 

Snow started playing through the cords of the intro of the song she was going to play while Duncan watched her play.  He recognized the tune she played, all to well.

 

“Whoa, lookin’ back at my background, trying to figure out how I ever got here....”  Snow began, Duncan laughed and joined in singing along with Jimmy Buffett’s Migration.

 

“You’re pretty good there little darlin’, you’ve been holding out on me.”  Duncan said ribbing her after she finished her song as he took up the twelve string.

 

Snow raised an eyebrow at him as he checked the tuning of the instrument he held, he made minor adjustments then strummed it a few times, mostly to keep Snow in anticipation as to if he actually could handle the twelve he held.  Finally he turned to Snow and spoke:

 

“Back toward the turn of century, Mark Twain took a trip around the world on a steamship and he wrote a book called Following the Equator, and the opening page has a dedication that says, ‘Be good, and you will be lonesome,’  which for me, still seems to work, with a Lady named Snow.” 

 

Then Duncan started to play as Snow laughed at his improvising  the opening line.  When he started singing the lyrics Snow joined in playing along with him, showing her approval of how he handled the twelve string.

 

Off in the distance the eyes of a wolf watched them as the wind blew in from the coast, keeping its scent from them.  As Snow played along with Duncan the wolf changed, and Julia sat in the grass and sang along with them.  She would wait until they went into the house before she made her way to the den to report in.

 

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The mating ceremony for Sea Mist was to be an edited version.  Word had been sent out to Blade Dance’s parents, they were flying in with two of the elders from their clan.  Snow and Duncan would stand for Sea Mist. 

 

Snow and Duncan would be heading off to pick them up soon, it was an hour drive to the airport.  Duncan suggested hiring a limousine to pick them up at the airport and drive them out, however Snow said that would not be acceptable as their guests were patriarch and matriarch of Blade Dance’s clan; a formal welcome was in order, which meant they would need to provide it as they were the head of the operations team.  They were expected to conduct themselves as would an established clan. 

 

Duncan was in the bathroom.  Though the house had been updated, the downstairs bath now had a modern flush toilet in place of the indoor outhouse that had been there, Snow had insisted on keeping the old Crapper pull chain toilets upstairs, nostalgia she said.

 

Duncan was bent over the toilet, heaving hard into it.  This was his third such episode in two days.  Snow had heard him this time, as it was the first bout in the morning and when she was around.  She inquired as to his health, asked if he might be getting sick. 

 

Duncan, a bit agitated had snapped at her that he was obviously getting sick as he was hurling in the Crapper.  He later apologized for snapping at her, saying it was hard to be nice when puking ones guts out.  Snow nodded and said she understood, though she herself had never thrown up.

 

They left an extra half hour early to ensure they would be ahead of the arrival of their guests, partly to allow for traffic and partly on the rare occurrence of a flight being early.  They brought Mud and her mate along to help carry luggage and drove a Suburban to allow enough room for all. 

 

They arrived in plenty of time even with road construction delays and the flight landing five minutes early.  With their guests greeted, luggage stowed in the back of the Suburban, they started back home, alerting the den that they were on their way and to have things ready for the ceremony so it could be conducted with speed.

 

Sea Mist’s mating ceremony was performed at a fast step, there was no slow walking down the isle, they hurried to their places before the patriarch and matriarch, Snow and Duncan.  The sword exchange was done fast, when they knelt, they were down and up in seconds with a simple ‘welcome’ spoken on behalf of each clan. 

 

This time though, when sashes were exchanged, it was Blade Dance and his parents who placed earthen sashes on the shoulders of the others, Sea Mist was becoming part of a commoner’s clan, and was now herself a commoner, she forwent the title of noble now.  They were allowed fifteen minutes to consummate their mating.

 

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Max pulled down on the hydraulic lever that lowered the ramp part of the driveway down into the garage where their tactical vehicles were stored.  The teams had loaded their gear in them already, Duncan and Max drove them up the ramp and onto the driveway above, ready for the teams to enter and get underway. 

 

While they were doing this, Duncan saw Snow over by the helicopter that had been parked in the back corner of their yard for almost the full month they had been preparing and training.  Once he pulled the last vehicle up and parked it he told Max to go ahead and close the ramp to the underground garage. 

 

Duncan walked out across the yard to the helicopter, Snow was just climbing out from the engine area, she had oil on her hands and a grease smudge on her face.  Duncan stood and watched as she opened the cockpit side the pilot would sit in and took out a clipboard and wrote on the pages held down on it. 

 

“If I didn’t know better, I would say you were doing a preflight check.”  He said as he walked up behind her.

 

“I am.”  She said looking back to him then back to her paperwork.  “Just finished.  It’s good to go, everything in the green.”  Snow stepped back, Duncan did too as she closed the door.

 

“I thought the pilot would do that, you ground crew now too?”  He asked, trying to be light about the situations they each had found themselves in.

 

“I am the pilot.”  Snow said turning to face Duncan.

 

Duncan’s eyes sprung open.  This was not the response he was expecting, especially from someone who almost lost it twice on a simple fight.  “Excuse me, what?  You can fly?  I thought you were afraid of flying?”  He asked confused.

 

“It still scares the shit out of me, what do you think I have been doing while you have been in the den training?  I have been learning to fly a frelling helicopter.  And steam cleaning the seats.”  She said, her face showed a little embarrassment at the end.

 

Duncan shook his head a bit in disbelief.  He stammered a few times trying to make sense out of what Snow had just told him. “Why would you be learning to fly?  Why aren’t we being provided with a pilot, hell, we have a frozen yogurt machine.”  He put his hands on his hips.

 

Snow looked down at the ground, her head moved around, a sound of frustration came from her before she looked back to him.  “Pilots are not something we have a lot of, fear of flying is something my kind has in common, none of us like it, we are land creatures, flying, not in our game plan as a general rule.” 

 

Duncan could tell by the way she moved and held herself, Snow didn’t want the job, she groaned again before going on.  “There aren’t any ‘extra’ pilots for us to have, everyone we have is doing double duty trying to accommodate all the teams and other units.  Our option was either I learn how to fly this frelling contraption, or, not have it.  So, I did it for the team.  Frell I hate flying.”  She stomped her foot as she attested to her dislike for flying.

 

Duncan looked over to the chopper, he didn’t like the idea one iota of traveling with a pilot that was afraid of flying.  He looked back to where the vehicles were parked.  They were leaving in a few minutes for the three day trip.  They would all be taking as different routes and they could, traveling only by day, trying to stay off the main roads.  He looked back to Snow who was kicking the grass in front of her looking at him.

 

“Why don’t we saddle up with the rest of the teams, travel with them.  Then you don’t have to fly.”  Duncan offered.

 

“Not an option, not enough room, vehicles are already fully loaded and stuffed to maximum capacity, even have a few riding cargo.  We need the chopper, first it’s how the command team is getting on site, second, it’s the only air support we have, whether I like it or not, I have to fly.  I know you aren’t going to be at all comfortable flying with me, Duncan, I need your support, please?”  Snow asked, her voice held a plea to him. 

 

He looked back to the chopper.  It was military grade, it was build to handle stress.  Overpowered with a hefty amount of maneuverability.  He moved over to the pilots door and looked in, checked out the controls the best he could looking through the door.

 

“Less then a month, that’s not a lot of time.  If you’re going to fly us, you need to clock as many hours as you can.  What exactly did this trainer teach you?”  Duncan asked, his tone was a bit cynical. 

 

Snow looked at him with disappointment in her eyes, she felt she wasn’t going to get the support she wanted.  “Whatever he could, the basics, how to operate it, landing, hovering, all the instruments, controls, direction, how to maintain a course, read an aerial map, everything I would need to get us to the site and be of some use in the damn thing.  Whatever he could in the short time we had.”  Snow looked down, she could tell Duncan didn’t trust her for this.

 

Duncan nodded in a hesitant manner.  “Uh-huh, and this trainer, what was his experience, do you know?  Was he trained by the military?” 

 

Snow guffawed.  “No!  He’s no different than any of us, reluctant flyer.  He was as good as any we have, wasn’t about to be flying a combat copter in a war zone, he was trained the same as the rest, private schooling.”

 

“Does that mean, trained by other werewolves?”  Duncan put out bluntly, his face said unacceptable.

 

Snow wilted slightly, doubting her own abilities.  “Yes.”

 

The sound of a car door slamming and people talking got their attention.  They looked over to the vehicles, the crews and teams were getting in the vehicles and preparing to leave. 

 

“Duncan, I....”  Snow started.

 

“Yeah, I know kid, it’s a shit deal.  Tell you what, let’s go over and make our appearance and see the teams off, then you and I are going up in this death trap and I’m going to teach you a thing or two about flying hard core.”  Duncan said with a half cocked smile.

 

Snow’s eyes widened.  She blinked as she took in what he’d said.  Duncan started walking off to where the teams were at.  She turned and ran to catch up to him.

 

“You did say you were going flying with me?  That’s what you meant, right?”  Snow asked, her voice a mixture of surprise, disbelief and excitement.

 

“That’s what I meant partner, like I said, we need to get you some hours logged, and unlike your trainer, I have flown combat choppers, we are going to learn you some maneuvers.  We move out in three days, that means for the next three days, unless you’re sleeping, your ass is in the sky.  And mine along with it.”  He said to Snow, her face was lit by both gratitude, and fear.

 

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Max, Mud, Kevashka and the rest of the command team along with most of the support crew turned out to see the teams off.  After they pulled out and were out of site, everyone except Kevashka went back to the den, leaving her standing with Duncan and Snow.

 

Kevashka handed a paper to Snow, she read it then handed it to Duncan.  It wasn’t good news.  It was a field report from one of the advance crews, one of their teams encountered trouble. 

 

They had been tracking a pair of day walkers, hoping they would lead them to a coven or club where vampires were either in hiding or simply hanging out trying to catch humans.  The report said the human they had working with the three person team had followed the day walkers into a night club.  He had broke off from them once inside but kept them in sight, going to the bar and ordering something. 

 

Once the day walkers had sat down he moved near them to try and hear what they were saying, he was being nonchalant and trying to act like he was mingling with the crowd of people and had his back to the day walkers. 

 

From what the team commander could make out from what he could hear over the link they had from his smart phone, someone had came up to him and started talking to him, then shot him in the face, killing him. 

 

Right after that the day walkers he and his werewolf partners had been following immediately left the club.   The commander ordered the team to follow the day walkers, others would move into the club and deal with the situation there. 

 

The day walkers started running once out of the club, the team followed.  They were led into a narrow alley.  The alley took a left turn at a building, the team followed, when they approached the turn, gunfire from the building in front of them started, they were hit with silver bullets. 

 

The day walkers ran back to them and fired several rounds into the team, one member was hit in the head.  When support arrived the male was still alive, his mate was dead.  They were rushed to a hospital where the male died, he held on long enough to request a bishop.  When the bishop arrived he said one thing. “Tell Sir Galt, watch his back.”  Then he joined his mate.

 

Duncan handed the paper back to Kevashka.  “We’re going flying.”  Was all he said as he and Snow turned and went to the chopper.

 

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Duncan helped Snow release the tie downs that held the copter to the ground.  He went through a few checks of his own before climbing into the front passenger seat of the chopper and strapped in.  Snow pulled herself into the pilots seat and did the same.  They put on their helmets and radios then Snow began starting the helicopter and getting ready to fly. 

 

While they were waiting for the rotors to come to lift off speed, Duncan started telling Snow some things about choppers he figured her instructor didn’t tell her.  Snow listened intently, her face showed she was not ready to hear what he was saying.

 

“Alright captain Snow, get this whirly-gig off the ground, take us up to three thousand feet and flutter for a bit, get the feel of the air.”  He told her.

 

Snow pulled on the collective, held the cyclic and brought the chopper off the ground and slowly climbed until they were clear of the tree line then moved cautiously off and brought the chopper to the altitude Duncan instructed her. 

 

He had her first work on hovering, which can be one of the hardest things to do in a chopper, Duncan had her attempt to hover, when she had it fair, move out and try again.  It was rough going for a while, however, werewolf intellect and reflexes seemed to help and within an hour Snow had hovering down pat. 

 

Duncan taught her how to use the cyclic controls to accelerate and hold altitude without constant adjustments on the collective.  Snow seemed to have a good ability on the pedals for the anti-torque controls, though he still worked her through training with those. 

 

After some time he had her accelerate hard and bank the chopper around, she let loose a scream the first time and almost lost control of the craft, but she gritted her teeth and pushed herself past her fear.  Duncan worked her though more maneuvers that would be helpful, and had her do helicopter versions of touch and go landings until they needed to land for fuel.

 

Snow told Duncan she had already learned more than she had with the instructor and felt she had a lot better grasp of how the chopper worked, though she still grimaced the entire time they were in the air. 

 

After the actual ground crew for the chopper, which was basically a few selected from the regular crew from the den, had the chopper refueled, Duncan took the pilot seat, he told Snow he was going to show her what the chopper was capable of.

 

Duncan didn’t waste time when he pulled the twin engine helicopter up, he operated the collective and pulled the chopper up hard and was banking off as they passed close to the roof of the house, Snow thought, too close.  Once passed the house he dropped over the edge of the cliff and poured on the thrust as they leveled off over the ocean. 

 

Snow thought for sure her seat was going to be wet again, however, having Duncan at the stick, gave her more confidence.  He took her on about an hour ride putting the chopper though many different types of situations, falls, climbs, banks, everything he could make it do.  He explained as he flew, what he was doing and why.  Snow forgot about being in the air and was listening close. 

 

“This is going to scare the ever loving shit out of you.”  Duncan said at one point, then put the chopper into a spin and explained how to recover so they wouldn’t ‘spin in’ as he called it and crash.  Snow had tried to have some water when they were on the ground for refueling, Duncan hadn’t allowed that.  She was glad now, she had to use the bag he provided for her.

 

Duncan landed and told Snow, it was her turn.  He had to admit, she was a quick learner, but time made a good pilot.  Snow took them up, feeling a bit more confident now that she had some real time behind the stick.

 

Duncan told her to fly out over the ocean and come in low over the water and accelerate hard.  He had her bank around and head back towards the house, full throttle he said.  They were closing in on the cliff, they were low enough they were catching spay on the forward view.

 

“Up hard, pull up hard Snow!”  Duncan finally told her after he had been telling her to hold from pulling up.  They climbed hard and cleared the cliff coming up over the house. “Bank around, more, more, okay, straight, now let it fall.”  Duncan instructed.

 

‘Let it what?”  Snow shot back not understanding.

 

“Let the nose fall, just let it go.”  Duncan said in a calm voice.

 

Snow did as he said.  The chopper plummeted, Snow recovered it when Duncan said.  They repeated this maneuver many times.  When Duncan felt Snow had had enough of that he had her go high. 

 

They were near nine thousand feet when Duncan told her to put the chopper in a spin as he had done, he stepper her though it.  Snow was in a panic again, but she listened to Duncan, there was no way he could help her, she had to do it. 

 

“Okay, no more of that, please.”  Snow said once she had the chopper back under control. 

 

Duncan laughed and agreed.  They flew on until the fuel was running low again and took the chopper in for a landing.  Snow didn’t realize it at the time, but she moved it in fairly quick and set it down soft.

 

“Nice landing, you’ve gotten better.  Get her fueled up again, we have a couple hours before dark, time for some dusk flying.”  Duncan said to her.  Snow cringed.

 

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The next two days were hardcore flying for Snow, Duncan didn’t relent on his training. “Duncan, you can fly, a lot better than me, why don’t you just fly the damn thing for us?”  Snow asked at one point.

 

He looked at her with a pained, serious look about him.  “Because honey, between the two of us you have the greatest chance of… coming out able to fly.”  Duncan said, changing his original words midway. 

 

He was about to say surviving, he averted that statement.  “If I get a broken leg or something, I don’t regenerate, you do.  I’m sure the higher ups know I can fly, they chose you, most likely for that reason.”  Duncan reasoned.

 

Snow had a mixed reaction to what Duncan said.  Most of his logic was wasted on her though.  Snow just kept thinking ‘he called me honey’ to herself.

 

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Duncan was loading the last of his gear in his side of the cockpit of the chopper.  He had a portable hard drive in his hand, looking for the safest place to store it when Snow came up to the other side and opened her door and pulled out the clipboard from under the seat.

 

“Preflight is complete, all fueled and ready to go.  Have a few more things to get, and Malkah wants to see you.”  Snow said while she checked off the last items on the list on the clipboard, returning it to its place she looked to Duncan. 

 

He finally found a safe spot under the seat for the drive, he wanted to have access to it during the flight with his laptop.  He flicked his eyes up to her briefly, she had been acting a bit different around him.  He wasn’t sure what to make of it. 

 

They were working together a lot better, each was trusting the other more.  They had come a long way from her days of being a wolf around him.  Suddenly Duncan turned and ran away from the helicopter towards the woods.  He made it to the edge before his stomach let loose of its contents, again.  He was walking back rinsing his mouth with water from the plastic bottle he had in a pouch on the uniform.

 

“Duncan.”  Snow called gently to him.

 

“I’m fine, before you ask.”  Duncan responded sounding a slight bit annoyed, not at her so much, though he didn’t want her questioning him on his recent bouts of nausea. 

 

“That’s the second time this morning, have you talked to the doctor?”  Snow asked, concern in her voice.

 

“No need to, I know what it is, the food here.  I know you’ve been putting canned dog food in my meals, just to get even for the kibble.”  He said smiling at her trying to make light of the situation.

 

Snow shook her head at him.  “Oh, Duncan, sweetie, I got even the night I made us tacos, I made you one, and you ate my shit.”  Snow said giving him her best evil look and smile, her tone playful.  “All that spice and you gobbled it up.”

 

Duncan’s face changed, he considered what she had told him.  The tacos did taste odd, but he ate it to please her.  There was a lot of spice.  Werewolves couldn’t lie, could they pull your leg?  Duncan clutched his stomach again.

 

“I’m kidding Duncan, I can’t cook, you know that, you ate the shit I made, I used goat meat.  I tried, I know they didn’t turn out good, that’s why I over spiced them.”  Snow said as she started to bust a gut at his expression, believing she had really fed him her fecal matter.

 

“Funny, maybe you should have taken a dump in it, may have improved it.”  Duncan finally shot back to her, himself finally being able to laugh.

 

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“They are like the eight hundred megahertz radios human emergency services use, and some field operations, only different, better me thinks.  Yes, I do believe so.”  Malkah was telling Duncan. 

 

“They operate separate from the PTT, or push to talk, system that is on the phones, no need to swap between team and the channel everyone is on.  Quicker, more efficient, with two earpieces, one in each ear, you can keep track of both sides of the conversation and talk to whichever one you want, no need to grab your phone to switch or select which channel you want to talk on.  Better, no?”  Malkah asked Duncan.

 

Duncan wasn’t sure, two earpieces, though the ones they used were very small and could hardly be seen outside of the ear, with a small sticky dot stuck to the throat for the pickup, he wondered if it may get confusing.

 

“Left side team, right side everyone else.”  Malkah finished.

 

“Why not just use the double tap feature?”  Duncan asked pointing to the smart phone on the bench.

 

“Could, could, but, it’s not the best, you may end up talking to the wrong channel still, sometimes it picks up the double tap, sometimes, well, its frelled.  Plus, with the radio setup, you can touch and hold, a beep lets you know its VOX and everything said, heard, is broadcast, can’t do that with the PTT for multiple users, this way the entire team can be live broadcasting and what is going on around them can be heard.  Plus, my voice commands actually work, and have positive feedbacks.”  Malkah explained, then demonstrated for Duncan. 

 

Duncan could see the possible advantages, there were other reasons he wanted to try the system.  “Ok kid, load the system on the chopper.”  He told him.

 

“Already on board sir, thought you would like it, so I took the liberty.”  Malkah said, smiling and rocking on his feet with his hands in his pockets.

 

Duncan nodded at him and gave him a half faced smile.  He liked how the kid thought, he was a crafty one. 

 

Snow was getting the chopper ready to start, Kevashka was climbing into the back where the others were already on board.  Max, Meadow, Mud, Morning Dew and Julia were all in with her.  The other two new additions to their team had already gone ahead of them, even before the rest of the crew had left to set up their base of operations.  Noktok and Shelma had replaced Christopher and Sunny.

 

“Good morning, this is your captain speaking, we will be lifting off soon, for those of you afraid of flying, please keep the barf bags provided in your hands at all times, if everyone is strapped to the wreckage, I will get this thing in the air.”  Snow said over the speakers inside the chopper once everyone was in.

 

Duncan looked over at Snow, she gave him a wink.  Duncan had loaded the chopper with sandbags while Snow trained, ‘a fully loaded copter handles much differently than an empty one’ he had explained to her. 

 

Snow moved the throttle levers bringing the rotors of the twin engine craft to full speed.  She looked around the ground then pulled the chopper up like Duncan had done when he flew it, then banked off hard to get on course. 

 

“Yee-Haw!”  Snow yelled as they came around and climbed, there were screams from the back of the chopper from her passengers, only Duncan was laughing.  Snow was still scared to fly, only now, you couldn’t tell.

 

Snow still needed to log more hours flying, but she was a natural at it.  She handled the chopper extremely well, considering the limited amount of time she had flown.  Duncan learned that a lot of her training time had been spent on a simulator.  The instructor had only had her actually fly about fifteen hours. 

 

She was basically trained to get the chopper from point A to point B, and was drastically lacking in any real needed training.  Though Duncan did help her with things that came up during the flight, she was able to deal with most issues on her own and communicated with air traffic control towers along the way properly. 

 

When they hit some weather and the air became rough, the chopper difficult to handle, Snow managed the situation well, asking Duncan a couple questions as they went.  She remained cucumber cool the entire flight.  Though in the back, bags were used.

 

Duncan looked around the area they were approaching.  “Ok, bank around and get a good look at the roof before you land, make note of anything that may obstruct your landing, antennas, light poles, anything you might see and know where they are.  Then pick your best approach and bring us in.”  He said to Snow as they approached the building she would be landing on.  “And remember, air currents can be tricky when landing up high.”

 

Snow did as Duncan said and swung around the top of the building and checking it out before she came in to land.

 

Snow keyed on the speakers inside the chopper.  “I would like to thank you for flying air-wolf, we hope you enjoyed your flight, we will be landing shortly, and just so you all know, I have never landed on a building before, but my trainer assures me it’s exactly like landing on the ground, only completely different.”  She announced to her passengers. 

 

Duncan shook his head and keyed on the link between himself and Snow.  “Your mean, you know that?”  He said to her.

 

Duncan saved the work he had up on his laptop as Snow was bringing in the helicopter over the landing pad on the roof of the building they would be staying at, closed it and put the hard drive he had connected to it next to him till they landed. 

 

Snow pedaled the chopper in nice and made a perfect landing in the high cross winds and powered down the engines.  A crew came forward ducking low and started putting straps over the skids and making ready to tether the chopper down until needed again.  Duncan looked back at his team.  All had relieved expressions on their faces except Mud.  Mud’s mouth was hanging open and looked distant.

 

The team disembarked from the chopper and grabbed their gear, all carried a paper covered, plastic lined bag with them that they dropped in the trashcan near the door down.  When Duncan came to the back with Julia, only Mud was still in the back. 

 

She looked drugged, unresponsive when her name was called.   Julia reached for her arm and pulled on her coat sleeve.  Mud fell over when she did and something fell from her hand.  A small bottle rolled across the floor and Julia grabbed it.

 

“Son of a bitch!”  Julia exclaimed as she looked at it.

 

“What?”  Duncan asked with a tone of concern.

 

Julia handed him the bottle.  It was an airplane sized liquor bottle of vodka.  She read the expressions of confusion and worry on Duncan’s face.  Werewolves didn’t ‘partake’ of hard alcohol, Patrick had told him that.  He had felt there was a reason behind this.

 

Julia glanced at Mud then filled him in.  “We never drink hard alcohol, beer wine fine, but never refined spirits.  Our bodies can process lower grades of alcohol fast, we feel good but never get drunk.  Hard liquor is like anesthesia to us.  Shocks our system, we go comatose from it.”  Duncan nodded.

 

Mud more then knew this, any werewolf would.  She was terrified of the flight and rendered herself unconscious for it.  Duncan didn’t know that as little as an ounce would do this.  Julia pulled Mud to the edge of the door of the helicopter and Duncan picked her up and carried her inside while Julia followed, carrying in as much as she could from the chopper.

 

“How long does this last?”  Duncan asked her when they were inside the door and going down the roof stairs to the elevator.

 

“Well, hopefully she will be awake tomorrow, depending on the person from this amount, could  last up to three days.”  She informed him.

 

Duncan thought that was an excellent reason not to drink hard liquor.  He also hoped Mud was not one of those that would be knocked out for three days.

 

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They were set up on the seventeenth and eighteenth floors of the twenty-three story high-rise.  The building was owned by the noble clan Stormhold.   The two floors were set up in a den style, with living quarters around an open work and gathering area.  Their lineage came from another noble clan that extended from Lord Mort’s House, he had insisted Snow and Duncan use this for their personal staging area. 

 

Duncan plopped Mud down on a couch that was on the outside of the main open floor area, in a small settee area with other chairs and tables that held books.  There was also a TV.  It looked like an area that was set up for breaks from work.

 

Attendants from the clan were helping the team settle in and were telling about the area and where to find certain things should they need.  Duncan had an attendant named Rain and Snow’s was named Horse.  Rain was a battle scarred older man with a beard, his face reminded him of Lord Leyland.  He thought it was mostly because of the large bushy beard the two men had in common. 

 

Rain wore a kilt instead of a normal uniform or clothes that the others wore.  When Duncan asked, Rain told him he had come across the water from Scotland some thirty years ago when he stopped hunting to serve clan Stormhold as a trainer.  He was a very traditional Scotsman as he told Duncan. 

 

Rain’s mate Horse had been a weapons crafter, now she enjoyed working in the kitchen of the clan.  Both were in their mid five-hundreds and had chosen to leave combat professions due to their age.  Rain said sunset was approaching them and they had wanted to enjoy each others last decades together.  A warriors life kept him separated from his mate.  Duncan smile and admired the sentiment. 

 

In the morning Duncan and Snow showered together as had become their typical routine.  Duncan had gotten up a bit before Snow to use the bathroom, where he again vomited.  Blood was starting to show in his stomach discharge.  He flushed the evidence before Snow came in, having just started the shower water running when she came in.

 

“So what’s on our agenda for today?”  He asked her as she entered the bath, reaching and caressing her belly and moving to a breast.

 

Snow stood and enjoyed the affection from her partner.  She regretted the time wasted when she tried to keep him from having feelings for her, realizing after that it had been a moot effort, regardless of his feelings for her, Duncan would have put himself in harms way for her, it was his nature.  That is something Snow understood. 

 

Even though she couldn’t be fully with him as a mate, his attention and affections were warmly welcomed.  It was nice to be desired by someone, someone who actually found her, as he said, extremely attractive, and respected her abilities and ingenuity. 

 

Duncan had said to her, ‘you’re a lot smarter than you let on’ one night.  She was pleased he noticed that about her.  That had been before Malkah had told him she was the tops in the gadgettier area.  Duncan frequently consulted her for her input and opinions on various issues.  He valued her help, he was starting to depend on her, just as she was with him.  Partnership, it felt good.

 

Snow had turned and backed up to Duncan, he was kissing her neck while he enjoyed caressing her body.  Snow was lost in the moment of affection and forgot he had asked her a question.

 

“Snow.”  Duncan whispered gently into her ear.  “Come back to earth.”

 

Snow had her eyes closed, head back against him.  She felt aroused.  Reluctantly she stepped forward, returning to earth.  “Okay, I know, as bad as you, I’m back.”  She said with a smile that said she didn’t want to return, or go to work today.

 

“What’s the plan for today, what’s our first step here?”  He asked, trying to keep the effects of Snow from his mind. 

 

“First thing, shower.  Second thing, breakfast, third, out onto the streets and get a feel for the land.  Beyond that, kill bad guys.”  She said then bounced into the shower, holding an arm out from the door she was now behind and motioning with a finger for Duncan to join her.

 

When they joined the others in the main area, Mud was awake, mostly.  She was sitting on the couch bent forward holding her head in her hands with a grimace on her face.  Duncan took in the sight and made an assumption.

 

“Morning Mud!”  Duncan said louder than needed, then walked up to her and smacked her on the back several times in a greeting manner.  Mud cried out in pain.

 

“My head!  Please, no!”  She screeched when able after Duncan stopped his light hearted attack on her. 

 

“Aw, you look like you could use a hug Mud, come here.”  Duncan said as he pulled Mud up and to her feet, then putting his arms around her and giving her a hug.  The others were watching with extreme curiosity. 

 

Mud gladly accepted the hug, at first, until Duncan, having a firm grip on her, started jumping up and down with her, which again caused Mud to cry out.  When Duncan let go of her she started smacking him with open palms on his chest, her face angry.  “Bastard!”  She said to him.

 

Duncan laughed.  “What you are experiencing Mud, is what we humans call a hangover.  Please remember this moment before you ever decide to anaesthetize yourself again.  I need my team members capable of performing their duties.  Nuff said?"  He said to her.

 

Mud started to nod then changed her mind.  “Nuff said, Sir Duncan.”  She affirmed.

 

After breakfast Duncan told everyone to take some time while the staff cleaned up and to be back in half an hour, he then pulled Kevashka aside and told her to get what she needed ready, that he was calling everyone back so she could get them briefed on what was going on, then once she was done, he had some things for them. 

 

Snow watched Duncan as he took charge of things.  She was taking him in and observing how he handled himself.  She was noticing changes about him.  She didn’t know what to make of them.

 

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Kevashka had her meeting underway.  “Now we are going to be working with multiple crews under our command as you know, I have plotted out the city with the areas we will be covering.  The advanced teams have provided a general scope of the landscape we will be working in.  The teams will be working the streets tracking day walkers and finding their vampire masters and other members of the coven.”

 

“We are not going to engage them directly at first, we need to find out as much about their operations as we can first.  Find out where they go, who they are associating with and where their hideouts are.”  She was telling the teams as she had one of her helpers wheel in a whiteboard with a map on it. 

 

Kevashka started marking out the areas they would be concentrating on for locating enemy forces.  Most of the locations had night clubs, bars and strip clubs in them.  Areas where vampires would be hanging out trying to catch recruits and people to harvest, though the harvest numbers were very small now. 

 

Once she finished, telling everyone that when they were done here they would be meeting with the other crews they would be working with that Snow commanded, she turned things over to Duncan.

 

Duncan moved to center stage and was carrying a small radio pack with him and an earpiece.  “Alright, Malkah has a new gadget for us, this is a radio we will be testing with our crew only, we are his field testers.  You all will be wearing two earpieces, left ear will be the radio bud that will be for each team to communicate through, right ear smart phone PTT network to communicate with the other crews.”

 

He held up ear buds, then considering their small size set them down with a smirk realizing this was ineffective.  “This will be more efficient Malkah thinks, and, I said we would give it a try.  We are, Nuff said.  The other part of what this gadget does will be great for us, it works with our contact lenses.”

 

He held up the next part.  “The radio pack is more than a voice communications network separate from our phones, it has a type of detector in it that works like a spectroscope that is used to detect warm bodies and other heat patterns.”

 

He set the radio pack down with a hand gesture towards Malkah.  “What he says it’s supposed to do is let us see vampires, not needing to only rely on scent, which can be lost in the wind.  When you look at a person, you will see the heat patterns just like a spectroscope would show, only it will be available on the contact’s eyes up display.”

 

Duncan stopped and looked around then picked up the radio pack again.

 

“Malkah has programmed into this thing data that the system will use to identify vampires as well as day walkers, even the day walkers have a different heat pattern then a standard human.  Since our contacts are local and work off of our wrist terminals and are not part of a network like our cells are, he was able to incorporate it into our eyes up display.”

 

Setting the radio pack down he walked to the front of the table and sat on it with one leg touching the floor.  “Again, we are the field testers for this, I need everyone of you to log any complaints, suggestions, bugs, compliments, things you like, don’t like, what you would like to see added, and forward it to me so I can email it to Malkah.  Don’t text your input to me, send me emails, I want to be able to copy and paste from my laptop and send the information to him directly, nuff said?”  Duncan asked the team.

 

They all verbalized their acceptance of what Duncan said.  There were nods of heads as he spoke, the team seemed to like the ideas that Malkah had come up with.  After he ended his part of the meeting the team broke. 

 

Before he left, Max and Mud both came to him and asked a few questions, also stating they liked the radio pack idea.  Anything to help them find day walkers and vampires was a good thing.  Motion detection was good, but it also picked up humans, and anything else moving.  Actual detection of undead and their servants, was a tool they needed.

 

It took about an hour to cross the metro to where they would meet with the other crews and teams.  There were thirty teams in each crew, all consisting of four and six person teams.  Kevashka went over with each team where they would be working and covered what the recon forces had discovered. 

 

Some of the teams had already been working in the areas and were able to better describe the situations they were up against to Snow’s command team.  Other crews were covering a different part of the city and state.  They had one other crew operating with them in the same city.

 

Once they were done with the briefing part of their pre-mission meeting, they were introduced to a werewolf who worked in a salon in the city who would be working with them for their disguises for the operations to help them blend into the populace they would be mingling with.  He came with his own crew included.

 

Faldo worked with everyone individually on the look they would have for the streets.  They would be hanging out in clubs and in the parts of towns that proper people didn’t go to.  Faldo worked in an upper echelon salon where he catered to the rich and famous to sniff out day walkers, vampires and servants of the same. 

 

He also was a pro at the darker side of fashion.  They would wear clothes over their uniforms, their weapons concealed in dimensional pocket pouches that had a sleek design as to not show under the clothes they wore which were somewhat baggy as was the style of the clubs they would be going into.  

 

The disguises consisted of a lot of face jewelry and did not involve actual piercing and artificial tattoos that, for the most part, were black and looked real.  The clothes had a lot of chains and studding.  Duncan was given a face tattoo and scars that made him look rougher than he was. 

 

He had pants with chains also, he matched Snow pretty well for the first time, complete with a gold colored slip on nose ring.  When Faldo came to Snow, he looked her over and simply stated ‘My work here is done,’ with a laugh.  Snow would already blend well.  She had been for years.

 

Kevashka clapped her hands for attention.  “Alright people, front and center, we are about ready to move out!”  She shouted to the room.

 

The teams moved together in front of where Kevashka stood. “Everyone has been given a wrist terminal and a bottle of these pills, your terminal will notify you every two hours to take them, everyone must take your pills!  No exceptions, we can’t have you acting out in human environments.”  Kevashka said.  “Take your first pill now and move out.”

 

Duncan watched as everyone pulled a bottle from a pocket and took a blue colored pill.  Everyone except Snow and Julia.  After they were in the car, Duncan inquired about this.

 

“What’s the deal with the pill popping?  And why didn’t you and Julia take them?”  He asked her before the others were in the vehicle.

 

“Attitude pills, keeps werewolves from acting like they do during the day, not quite like the night time facet, but close.  Julia and I don’t need them.”  Snow explained.

 

Duncan nodded, Julia and Snow would have to act to be like most werewolves were during the day, they could fit into human society without any adjustments. They were going out to survey the area they would be working that night during the day to get a feel of where they would be during a safer time.

 

Snow parked in a public lot that had older cars and trucks parked in it, a lot of trash was scattered around.  The buildings were somewhat run down.  Across from where they parked was a strip club that was currently closed.  Mud, Julia, Max and Meadow exited the car along with Snow and Duncan. 

 

Noktok and Shelma had driven to another part of town they would also would be working in.  Specifically where a reported meth lab was that might be home to a coven hold. 

 

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Snow pushed the button on the fob that secured the car, the windows tinted to black when she did, keeping anyone from looking into the car.  They didn’t have to worry about anyone breaking in due to reinforcements on the vehicle, they didn’t want people seeing anything that might tip them off to a werewolf operation.  Though Duncan thought the blacked out windows and the look of the car in general might be a good sign.

 

They moved into the street and crossed over to the side that had the strip club and a bar down from that.  Most of the buildings had bars on the windows, some had a metal net inside of that to prevent rocks or whatever might be thrown through them. 

 

A bum they passed asked for money, Duncan shoved the man away from in front of them and told him to beat it.  Snow looked at Duncan with question, though he didn’t see her.  They moved down till they were at the entrance to the bar.

 

Duncan looked back at the team.  “Why don’t the rest of you move down the street and check out the other shops, Mud, Julia, pair off and Max, you and Meadow check out something else.  We can cover more ground if we pair off, Snow and I will go in here.”  The others nodded and agreed then they moved off. 

 

The inside of the bar was dark, as was to be expected.  The air was stale and somewhat rank as would be expected in a dive bar.  The front area near the bar was filled with tables and chairs, most of the tables needed cleaning.  The chairs had seen hard use, most were torn in spots or had parts missing. 

 

Through a larger opening that led off to the side of the bar there were pool tables off on the end that would be along the same wall as the door they had entered, opposite that was a small stage that held lights and a drum set.  The dance floor was in front of that. 

 

There were a few tables and chairs just off the dance floor and before where the pool tables were.  The walls in the bar area held signs for specials on drinks and lights from beverage companies, the dance area had some of the same but included posters of punk rock bands that would be appearing that night or within the next month with the dates of their appearances on a letter board next to a broken clock. 

 

The bartender looked at them as they walked in, he was cleaning glasses and chewing on a toothpick. 

 

He had tape across his nose that looked like it had been recently broken, he wore a blue denim shirt with the name of the bar on the front and a round pin that said what band was appearing tonight.  On the back was a large eagle embroidery, across the top was written ‘Party Hard’, across the bottom, ‘Live Free’.  The man’s head was clean shaven and he had tattoos visible on his arms, covering most of them.

 

“Got ID?”  The man asked as Snow and Duncan walked up to the bar.

 

“Yeah.”  Snow responded to the man, but made no effort to pull hers out.  “What time does this place happen?”  She asked the bartender.

 

The bartender turned away from her and moved down the bar and started putting glasses away, there apparently wasn’t anyone else in the bar and he ignored them.

 

‘Hey, barkeep, the lady asked you a question.”  Duncan said loud enough to be heard down the bar. 

 

“This isn’t your type of place, and we don’t serve kids here.”  The bartender said without looking back.

 

Duncan looked at Snow, she moved her head in the direction of the door.  Duncan nodded and they moved to the door, he looked back at the bartender as Snow opened the door, then they walked out.  He wasn’t sure if the bartender had made them, or simply wasn’t buying that Snow was legal age.  They’d be back tonight.

 

They checked the hours on the door of the strip club, it would open in about half an hour.  Snow said they wanted to check in there, that was where they had lost a member, the human from the team that gave a message to Duncan. 

 

They moved down towards where the alley that the shooting had happened was.  There was a liquor store on the corner on the opposite side of the alley they had come from.  Snow said she wanted to check it out. 

 

They went inside.  The store was small.  The woman behind the counter looked up from the alternative lifestyle magazine she was reading.  Half of her head was shaved while the other half had light blue hair that was standing straight up in the middle and a darker blue on the side that hung down straight to just below her ears. 

 

She was dressed in clothes that would fit with a punk rock style and had several piercings in her face, and one on her lower lip.  She watched Snow mostly as she walked through the narrow isles and back to the cooler where the beer was, and only gave a glance to Duncan.  She shook her head slightly as they walked by and went back to reading the magazine. 

 

Snow looked over the selection of beers as well as taking in the rest of the store, she was inhaling hard through her nose, taking in scents.  Duncan let her do her thing as she pointed out beers and asked small questions or made comments about what to purchase. 

 

She moved to a customer in the store, a black man in a tee-shirt and blue jeans that looked somewhat rough.  She got close enough so she could get a good smell, then moved off.  Another couple entered.  The man that had been in the isle went to the checkout and purchased something. 

 

The couple were now in the liquor isles.  Snow and Duncan moved closer to them and made comments on liquor, Snow asking about what certain ones were good in, playing her part.  The man with the girl now near them checked Snow out, they looked much like Snow dressed, baggy clothes and mostly in black with chains. 

 

He had a nose ring and smelled of cigarettes.  The girl with him was more colorfully dressed and wore an Aerosmith tee-shirt that looked in need of a wash.  Duncan could smell her cheap perfume.  When the girl looked at Snow she gave her a condescending look and rolled her eyes when she looked at Duncan, clearly not approving of them as a couple.

 

Snow finally moved to the cooler again and picked up a black and tan she said she wanted to try, it was from a small brewery.  Then she moved over to the couple again who were now in the isles that held premixed drinks.

 

“Hey.”  She said to the girl.  Both looked at her.

 

“Hey.”  The girl responded back, she held no emotion in her face.

 

The man’s eyes were looking Snow over and moved to Duncan occasionally. 

 

“Say, we’re new around here, there any good places to hang?”  Snow asked the girl.

 

The girl looked over at Duncan then back to Snow.  “That your dad?”  She asked a bit snotty.

 

“No, my husband, got a problem with that?”  Snow said in a challenging manner.

 

“Na, its cool.  What you into?  You guys swing, looking for underground clubs?”  The girl asked.

 

“We like a live place, good bands, stuff like Flogging Molly, The Tossers, Irish punk, metal, no frelling rap or shit like that.  We like to be around goths and punks that tear it up, not some lame techno places where no one gets wild, ya know.”

 

The man looked at Duncan.  “Cool tatt, where you guys from?”

 

“Ireland, just back to the states.”  Duncan replied.

 

They talked with the couple for about five minutes, they told them some of what they called the hot places to go.  Duncan committed the names to memory, and the locations they described the places were at from where they were.  Two of the places they mentioned were already on their list.  The others would warrant investigation.

 

They thanked the couple for their advice and went to the checkout counter.  The lady at the cash register looked at Snow with her mouth slightly open and made a disapproving noise through her nose as Snow set the beer on the counter.

 

“Yeah, right.”  She said under her breath somewhat, not caring if they heard her as she set the magazine down.

 

“Got ID for that?  We don’t sell to minors.”  The woman said to Snow with an attitude, glancing over at Duncan.  She looked as though she was expecting him to step in and take over the purchase. 

 

Snow pulled out her international drivers license and handed it to the woman.  The woman looked at it, her face said she didn’t believe the date on the license or its authenticity.

 

“This isn’t any good here, you’ll have to do better then that kid.”  She said handing the license back to Snow, again looking at Duncan.  “If you’re that old, I’m the queen of England.”

 

“Pleasure to meet you your majesty, what are you doing here, slumming?”  Snow said and pulled out her passport from Ireland.  “Is this more you your liking Queen Elizabeth?”  Snow said in an extremely cocky voice.

 

The woman looked at the passport and started shaking her head.  “Fine, whatever.”  She said looking at Duncan once again and rang up the purchase.  “Twelve, seventy eight.”  She announced as the total.

 

Snow pulled out a wad of money, mostly hundreds and handed one of the hundreds to the woman.  She looked at it.

 

“Got anything smaller?  That would take up all my change, we don’t keep that much cash on hand here.”  The woman said.

 

Snow returned the bill to the bottom of the stack and thumbed through the bills and pulled out a fifty and offered that.  The woman took it and made change.  Duncan looked into the till when it opened as the woman made change.  She had the money to make change for the hundred, without shorting the till any.  While the woman handed Snow her change, Duncan pulled out his phone and sent a text.

 

Once back on the street, they looked up and down it.  There were a few people walking along the sidewalk, a pair of boys, maybe nineteen, twenty were about thirty feet down from the store and leaning against the wall talking.  As a car passed in front of them the driver looked them over.

 

“Time to check the alley.”  Snow said.  Duncan nodded.

 

They walked back to the entrance to the alley and started down.  About twenty feet down Snow looked behind them and around at the buildings above, then stashed the bag with the beer in it behind a telephone pole. 

 

They started to walk briskly down the alley.  They reached the area where the shooting happened and looked at the building where the alley they had come down ended and turned left.  Down the turn there were trash dumpsters and some tires. 

 

Duncan looked at the walls along side them and could see where bullets had hit, they left marks of a soft metal, it wasn’t lead.  He moved back to Snow.  She was looking down the next part of the alley.  Snow looked at him, he read the message in her face.

 

Together they started down the left turn the alley took and followed it down about fifty feet.  Snow made a hand signal to Duncan.  He nodded.  Snow had told him someone was coming up from behind them.  They continued walking slowly down the alley.  Snow signaled again.

 

“Ok shit bags, give up the cash.”  A man’s voice said from behind.  They turned around slowly.  The man had yellow teeth and wore a dirty work shirt and baggy jeans and was holding a thirty-eight caliber snub nosed revolver.  “Give me the cash, now, and don’t try anything, I shoot you, dead.”  The man said.

 

“Eat shit.”  Duncan said, catching what he was waiting for without moving his eyes and tipping the man off.

 

Duncan stepped forward and the man fired the gun at him, the round catching him in the chest as Mud punched the man in the back.  Duncan grabbed the man’s arm and pointed the gun up, breaking the man’s arm in the process and flipping him around towards Mud who rabbit punched the man in the face. 

 

The gun dropped to the ground.  Duncan brought his other hand down striking the man’s nose from above and sending a spray of blood down his already filthy clothes.  The man screamed.  Mud put an end to his noise with a left hook to the jaw. 

 

The man fell to the ground.  Duncan picked up the gun and opened the cylinder and removed the rounds, looked at them, then put them in one pocket and the gun in another.  They were standard lead bullets.

 

“Pick that up.”  He said to Max who was standing behind Mud with Julia. 

 

Max picked the man up and carried him with as Duncan led them back up the alley to the liquor store.  Once there he took the limp man from Max.

 

“Open the door.”  Duncan said to Mud, who did as she was told.

 

The woman had a shocked, guilty look on her face when she saw Duncan carrying the man in  He stopped about five feet from the counter, the woman backed against the cash register. 

 

Duncan hurled the man at her, he landed on the counter and slid towards the woman with his head towards the inside of the counter, his torso pulled him off the counter and he landed at the woman’s feet.  Duncan looked at the woman with a mean face, he snorted once at her then turned and left.

 

Duncan rejoined Snow and the others.  Snow was looking at him wide eyed, but she didn’t say anything.  They started walking back towards the car. 

 

“We’re being watched, very closely.”  Duncan said to his team.

 

“Yeah, I can tell too.”  Max answered.

 

“Did you guys find anything out.”  Duncan asked as he kept his eyes on the surroundings.

 

“Not much, we weren’t exactly welcome anyplace we went, everyone was rather cold to us.  Like they didn’t even want to deal with us.”  Julia said.  “But, we should expect that, no one knows us, and this isn’t exactly the nicest neighborhood.  Everyone is suspicious around here.” 

 

They were across from where the car was, the strip club was open now. “Ok, why don’t you ladies go back to the car, Max and I will go in here.”  Duncan said.

 

“Frell you Duncan.”  Snow said, she held a crocked smile at him.  “We’re going in too, who knows, maybe I’ll just get a lap dance.”  She said.  Julia and Mud laughed.

 

Duncan raised his eyebrows when she said this.  “Lap dance?  Where did you learn about such a thing?”  He asked recovering himself.

 

“You forget, I used to work in human society, I even waitressed in a strip club.”  Snow said turning to the door of the club, she pulled the door open and started in.  Duncan turned and followed quick, along with the rest of the team.

 

-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-The-Protectors-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-

 

The bouncer at the door asked everyone for their IDs, including Duncan and Julia. 

 

“Welcome to the U-S of A, we have Guinness, closest thing to an Irish beer we have.”  The bouncer said after reading their passports.

 

The team moved inside of the dark club.  There were maybe a dozen people in the club.  A young girl was dancing on the stage in the center of the larger room in back, where they were passing through now had three pool tables and the bar.  Snow walked back to where the girl was dancing. 

 

The club was fairly good sized.  The room with the pool tables and bar was smaller than the back room, which had couches along the walls and long tables in front of the couches with chairs.  Around the stage was a counter and bar stools to accommodate sitting at the raised area of the stage that had two brass colored polls near either end. 

 

Snow proceeded on to the back wall where she sat on one of the couches.  The girl on stage was still wearing some clothes.  She had a bikini top and what passed for a miniskirt on, which she was removing when they passed.  Duncan took a seat next to Snow.  Max and Meadow moved to a table with Julia and Mud. 

 

There were girls that were walking around to the people that occupied other areas of the club.  They wore skimpy outfits, most had thongs on that left their bottoms completely exposed with just the wale tail visible from the back.  A couple of the girls had tops that let their nipples show through without restriction of view. 

 

One of these girls, Duncan observed, apparently had success in her salesmanship and sat on a man’s lap and started moving with the bump and grind club music that was playing, soon what little of her top there was came off as the man encouraged her on.

 

A young woman carrying a tray on the palm of her hand at her shoulder walked up to Snow and Duncan on the couch.  She wore tight shorts and had a button down top that was open at the neck down to her bust line then tied off at the waist.  Far more conservative then the other girls in the club.  She had hair that was dyed bleach blond and frizzed out around her head with tight curls and was chewing gum rather obnoxiously.  She appeared to either lay out in the sun a lot or frequent a tanning bed.

 

“Two drink minimum.”  She said to them once she was at the table in front of them and placed coasters with ads for a sex shop nearby on one side and a brand of beer on the other. 

 

“What do you have for beers?”  Duncan asked the waitress.

 

“Beer, we have, beer, Bud, Miller, the standards ones.”  The waitress answered in a sarcastic voice.

 

“What about imports?”  Duncan further inquired.

 

The waitress made a vocal type of sigh and looked away, rocking herself on one leg, still chomping her gum, which would be loud if it wasn’t drowned out by the loud music.

 

“Like I would know that, we have beer, if we don’t have what you want I’ll bring you something, okay?”  She said in an arrogant manner, her voice was somewhat high pitched and she reminded Duncan of a cheerleader talking to the school geeks. 

 

Duncan remembered what the bouncer had said.  “Guinness, I’ll have one of those, your bouncer said you had it.” 

 

The waitress chomped her gum, still rocking and looked over at Snow. “Same.”  She said to her.

 

“K, also, the couches here are for customers getting lap dances, not for make out sessions, k, so if you ain’t getting a dance, sit at the tables.”  The waitress said with her less then polite attitude.

 

Snow scooted her bottom forward on the couch spreading her legs then patted her crotch.  “Well then sweetness, why don’t you come over here and sit on my lap, I want a lap dance from you.”  She said to the waitress in an aggressive randy manner, sticking her tongue out at her and waggling it with a mischievous laugh.

 

“Gross.”  The waitress said then wiggle-walked off.

 

Duncan looked over at Snow, he rolled his eyes at her and laughed a bit when he saw the expression on her face.  She seemed to be enjoying herself messing with the waitress.  Snow looked off towards where the dancer on stage was, now nude and waving her crotch in the face of a man throwing a few more bills on the stage in front of her. 

 

She spread her legs wide giving the man a good view then spread her vagina open for him.  After thrusting her hips up and down a couple times in rhythm to the to the music and making a face like she was enjoying herself at a concert, she leaned forward and shook her C cup sized artificial breasts in the man’s face, about a foot from him, picked up the money and walked off to the next sucker down the line. 

 

Duncan watched the interaction with Snow and made a comment.  She nodded and looked over to the dancers making their way to the customers on the floor and pointed in the general direction they were coming from as customers shook their heads to the women, some actually looked at them, others kept their eyes on the stage and waved them off.

 

The waitress returned, she stopped at the table the rest of the team was at and dropped off bottles before coming back to Snow and Duncan.  She placed two bottles in front of Duncan and two in front of Snow.

 

“Forty dollars.”  She said to them.  Duncan reached into the front pocked of his shirt and pulled out two twenties and threw them on the table at the girl.

 

“Couldn’t you bring them one at a time?”  He asked sounding perturbed. 

 

“Two drink minimum, up front.  Don’t like it, leave.”  She said as she took the money and left.

 

Duncan knew the racket, the waitress paid for the drinks she served customers at the bar, then charged an up fee to customers, that was her cut in addition to the minimum wage she was paid per hour.  And if she was lucky, if a customer liked her enough, she might get a tip. 

 

He figured the daytime crowd didn’t tip very often, so the girl didn’t even try to turn on any charm and maybe get a buck thrown at her.  She would act entirely different at night when the place was full and the customers were drunk.  She would be able to ask almost any price for the drinks she served and get it.

 

A dancer that wore a provocative cop uniform came up to them after she flashed herself to Max and Meadow who waved her off laughing.  Max had said he liked her outfit and told Meadow she should get one like that.  The dancer said something in reply but the music came up again and Duncan lost what she said.

 

“You guys know the couch rules, right?”  The stripper asked, moving a finger between Snow and Duncan. 

 

“Yeah, we know the rules.”  Snow said as she pulled on a lip ring, putting a leg on the table by the couch and crossing the other over it.  She was looking at the stripper with desire, her voice coaxing. 

 

The woman started slowly moving to the music in front of Snow, moving her hands over her body, pushing up on her breasts then moving them in apposing directions of each other up and down, after this she turned and bent over sticking her bottom out at Snow.  She laughed and said encouraging words to the stripper and acted like the actions of the stripper were turning her on. 

 

“So, you want a dance?”  The stripper turned and said introducing herself by her stage name. 

 

“You’re not what I want, my husband here, now he’s into the cop look, likes big tits too.”  Snow said acting mischievous and motioning to Duncan while wiggling her eyebrows and acting a bit slutty.  “Got anybody like me in this pussy palace?”  Snow asked directly.

 

The stripper looked over at Duncan when Snow indicated he would take a dance from her.  She had a smile of success on her face, she would earn her wage from them.

 

“Someone who doesn’t shave all their party fur off?”  Snow added in a sultry voice when the stripper returned her dancing eyes and fake smile to her.

 

The stripper stood back and looked at her, she looked Snow over with lust in her eyes.  “We have someone here you might like, don’t know if she’s on yet though, if you want I can check for you.”  She said, swaying to the music.

 

Snow reached into her pocket and pulled out several hundreds folded over and held them up.  “I think she’ll want to punch in, aye?”  Snow said to the stripper who smiled a bit larger then turned and walked towards the area the dancers came and went from.

 

Mud and Julia were laughing between themselves, Duncan assumed from the performances of the various dancers that took stage.  They were speaking in what he understood as Irish from the sound of it.  It played well for their cover and passports. 

 

Max was avoiding looking at the stage while Meadow watched intently and cocked her head from side to side as she watched the dancers go through their gyrations.  Duncan saw her point at a dancer and say something to Max, who turned red, then Meadow gave him a playful shove on the shoulder laughing. 

 

Apparently one of the dancers on the floor picked up on Max’s anxiety and came up to him, it appeared as though she was trying to get him to loosen up.  Her efforts were in vain and he moved closer to Meadow and leaned back trying to keep as much space between himself and the girl working her magic on him as possible. 

 

Before she left Max alone she leaned in close and put her hand to his ear and whispered something to him.  Duncan was able to hear Max make a disgusted wail and watched as he thrashed around some and moved his hand over his ear as though he were trying to wipe what he had heard from his ear.

 

Duncan looked around more.  All of the girls working the floor and on stage looked to be college student age.  Most were clean looking and had spent time on their makeup.  Most had yet to have kids from his judgment. 

 

There was one woman with very large assets, she was currently on stage.  Duncan watched her shake the massive globes and grimaced when she jumped up and down sending them flailing about.  They were by far the largest breasts he had seen live and not artificial.  He actually pitied the poor woman in his mind, ‘Those must kill her back.’ he was thinking. 

 

He preferred the perfect small swells Snow had.  He never cared much for oversized mammalian melons.  The bartender was also a young girl with dark hair and a soft complexion.  She wore a G-string bottom and bright orange platform boots that came to just below her knees, and a smile.  The topless bartender seemed to manage the bar and the men at it well.  She moved with grace despite the footwear she had as she dispensed bottles of beverages, took money from the waitresses and made change. 

 

“Here they come, get ready.”  Snow said to him, her tone said she was both disgusted and excited about what she was about to do.  Duncan’s persona took on an edge of concern, he firmly believed whatever Snow was planning, somehow, she had a plan that he would be the butt of, especially since butts were involved.

 

The stripper in the cop suit brought a girl that was more pierced then Snow.  She wore a black leather bra with bondage rings at the points in front and on the sides.  On her feet were biker boots and what covered her crotch matched the bra. 

 

The cop girl that brought her to Snow showed her off, moving her hands around her like the girls on a game show would around a blender or some item you were supposed to guess the price of.  She placed a hand on the gothic girls hip, then ran a finger up the front of her leather hot pants in the middle starting right between her legs, when she reached the end of the garment she brought her finger to her mouth and stuck it in, closing her lips seductively around it then pulled it out and said ‘yummy’. 

 

The gothic girl raised her arms to show the hair in her pits and did a few hard grinds to the music in front of Snow.  Snow made her approval of the girl know.  “Frell Yeah!”  she yelled.  Then the cop stripper came and sat on Duncan’s lap.

 

Duncan leaned over to Snow, “I’ll trade you, you should know I’m into goth chicks”  he said to her with a rambunctious grin.

 

“I’m the only ‘goth chick’ allowed to dance on your lap, slave.”  She said to him, she opened her mouth and growled at him playfully.  “This piece of ass is for me, you play with your toy.”  Snow finished then turned her attention to the gothic stripper.  She pulled her legs from the table, spread them then rubbed her crotch then slapped it a few times.

 

“Come on baby, make me juicy.”  Snow said as she scooted forward again making room for the stripper on her lap.

 

The cop was already grinding on Duncan’s lap.  “Keep your hands at your sides, no touching, unless I put them there, got it?”  She had said to him.  Duncan nodded, he had no intention of moving his hands from where he had them.  She took off her top and waved her breasts at him.

 

Snow’s stripper pulled her bra off to reveal her pierced nipples.  “Nice.”  Snow said to her.  The girl was covered in various tattoos.  As she moved around Duncan could see her back was a mural.  Snow moved forward and back dancing from the couch with the girl, she was pouring it on heavy at the stripper. 

 

After the first song the two woman asked if they wanted more. 

 

Snow pulled out her wad of cash again and handed two hundreds to each of the girls.  “I’ll tell you when your done, you don’t stop until I say bitches, got it.  I want your ass in his face.”  She said to the cop stripper.  “I want him as turned on as you can get him when I take him home.  Same goes for you, your ass in my face as well.”  Snow said, aggressive and sultry.  “Make me drip luscious.”  She said to the gothic stripper. 

 

The two strippers went to work.  Snow looked as though she was really getting into it.  By the end of the second song the two strippers lost the bottoms to their costumes and really started pouring on the moves. 

 

The one on Duncan was grinding her crotch against Duncan’s, then moved up and stuck her shaved crotch inches from his face and spread herself for him.  She stood and moved to stand, legs spread, over his head and shook her buttocks, then turned around lowering her hind end to his face and shook her butt again making it jiggle in Duncan’s face then lowered her front more and spread herself again for him.  She returned, smiling, to grinding on his lap.

 

The gothic stripper ground on Snow’s crotch.  After she lost her bottoms she put one leg on the back of the couch next to Snow’s head and stuck her carpet right in front of Snows face and bounced her hips up and down.  ‘That’s it baby, let me smell it’ she had said to her.  The stripper had an aggressive mean sneer on her face as she danced, part of her image. 

 

During the dance Snow’s stripper took Snow’s right hand and put it on her breast, and pushed her fingers onto the ring in her nipple.  Snow tugged on it and twisted it some.  The girl seemed to enjoy this.  She turned around after Snow let go and stuck her ass in her face and pulled her butt cheeks apart and backed her bottom up, almost touching Snow’s face.  Snow leaned her head, raising her nose and sniffed hard.  She smiled wide mouthed at the stripper who was looking back at her. 

 

Duncan had tried not to smell the scent of his stripper, though the odor from her vagina was hard to miss.  The woman was quite wet, but her scent was sour in Duncan’s nose and was not pleasing to him.  Though he tried to play his part and seem interested in the performance, she failed to arouse him. 

 

The only time Duncan became aroused was when he looked over at Snow, when she returned his gaze and true desire filled her eyes, then his manhood stiffened to life.

 

“There we go, my but aren’t we a big boy.”  The stripper on Duncan’s lap said when she felt him harden as she ground her hips and pushed herself against his erection.  Duncan was relieved when the third song ended and the stripper lifted herself from him, he had withered when she brought his attention back to her.

 

“Still want more?”  The gothic stripper asked Snow.  Duncan’s performer looked over at Snow since it was perceived that she was calling the shots here.

 

“Tip the ladies slave, we have to roll.”  Snow said as she rose from the couch.

 

She smiled at the stripper who had given her the lap dance, moving in close to her as she started to leave, reached out and tugged on one of her nipple rings looking the stripper in the eyes and licking her lips.

 

“Come back tonight, if you really want to party.”  The gothic stripper said to Snow who held her eyes with the stripper until she moved a few feet past then on to the door.

 

Duncan gave each of the dancers a hundred dollar bill then followed Snow.  He thanked his stripper and said she was fantastic.  He was glad he wasn’t a werewolf, he could lie.  The rest of the team sat at the table for a little bit longer and finished their drinks.

 

Duncan and Snow made it to the car across from the strip club.  Duncan went behind the car and puked.  “I hear you on that partner.”  Snow said as she stood at his back while he vomited, looking back to the club.

 

Duncan spat on the ground, Snow unlocked the car and reached inside and retrieved a bottle of water for him.  After he rinsed his mouth he put his hand on Snow’s shoulder and turned her towards him.

 

“I understand about playing the part, but did you really have to have them stick their pussies in our faces, at least in mine?”  Duncan said sounding a bit vexed. 

 

“Get in the car.”  Snow said to him abruptly.

 

Duncan went around to the passenger side of the car and climbed in.  Snow met him in the front seat.  After he closed his door she let her reasoning be known.  “You seem to have a pretty good sense of smell, for a human.  Did you catch her scent when she had her ass in your face?”  She asked him.

 

“Yeah, it was pretty hard to miss.  I was afraid she was going to drip on me.”  He answered.

 

“Did she smell right to you?  I mean like a woman should smell?”  Snow further asked.

 

He furrowed his brow at her and considered the woman’s scent.  “No, I didn’t like it.”

 

“Describe it, what did it smell like to you?”  She asked.

 

Duncan snorted and looked to the side away from Snow, he didn’t like thinking about the experience.  “She didn’t smell like my wife, or you.  You smell good to me, that stripper, I don’t know how to explain it exactly, she smelt, sour.”

 

He moved his head back towards Snow but looked to the area between them on the seat as he went on.  “It wasn’t like she hadn’t washed recently, I could smell the soap, but she had a rank odor about her, there was the normal pussy smell but another smell with it, like I said, it was sour, bitter, almost acidic.”  Duncan tried to explain.

 

Snow nodded.  “That’s a fair description.  My stripper smelt the same.  I picked up on her scent right away, that’s why I wanted her to put the main source of her scent in my face, a woman’s largest concentration of her scent, her musk is from her genitals, as I am sure you know.”

 

She sighed and Duncan’s eyes met hers.  “They were day walkers, that’s what you smelt, the brain fluid the coven leader uses on them makes them smell that way, most humans aren’t as sensitive to it as you are, I have to say, you impress me with how you use your nose in addition to your other senses.”  Snow told him.

 

“Ok, you picked up that they were day walkers, why have them put their snatches in our faces?”  He asked, not seeing the necessity for that part since she already had made them as day walkers.

 

“Like I said,” Snow began as the rest of the team emerged from the door of the club, “the strongest, the purest scent from a woman is from her twat, I wanted to get a good close smell of one of them, because then I know what the vampire who they serve smells like, that is where I get his scent from.”  She explained.

 

Duncan looked over at Snow, mild puzzlement on his face.  “You’re telling me you were able to pick up who the vampire is from them?  So you know who it is now?”

 

“In a manner of speaking, I know his scent, I don’t recognize him, but should I run into him, get in range so I can catch his scent, I will know him that way, be able to pick him out.”  Snow further explained.

 

Duncan nodded, being able to take out the leader, Snow would be able to know for sure now if they were able to locate him, which one he was.  Hit him and the rest fall.  The rest of the team climbed in the back of the car.

 

“So what did you find out?”  Snow asked them after the doors were closed.

 

Julia answered her.  “Not much, after you left the dancers that served you went to a man in a black dress shirt with long sideburns and a mustache and slicked back black hair, thought he might be the manager so I went up and asked, told him I was looking for work.  He looked me over and said they weren’t hiring right now.  But I was able to get a good sniff on him”  She reported.  “He was defiantly a vampire, not a day walker.”

 

Snow reached over in front of Duncan and opened the glove compartment.  She pulled out a small thin black box and took it to the open area between her and Duncan.  When she opened it there was a pad of unlined paper on the right and a covered cup on the left with a sponge. 

 

Snow pulled the lid off uncovering the black liquid inside.  She dipped all four fingers and her thumb into the ink and blotted them on the sponge then started moving her fingers on the paper, using her inked fingernails and fingertips to make marks in an odd pattern on the page.  She dipped and blotted her fingers several times while Julia watched from the back seat.

 

“No, it was different, the base was the same but he wasn’t the leader.”  Julia said reading the writing Snow had made as she took a wipe from the cover of the box and cleaned the ink off from her fingers. 

 

Julia pointed to the page, the writings seemed to be broken into four separate parts.  She leaned in and pointed to the bottom set of marks.  “This is defiantly who we are looking for, that scent was clearly the base on the vampire I talked to.”

 

The others moved in to look at the writing from the back.

 

“What is this?”  Duncan asked motioning to the paper Snow had written on.

 

Snow raised her face from the paper and looked at him.  “That is the written scent, that is what I smelt from the dancers.  This is how we communicate a specific scent to others so they know who or what we are looking for.”  She explained. 

 

She handed the case to Julia after removing the page she had made from the pad of paper.  Julia took the case and set it on Mud’s lap and started her own writing.

 

“You mean you can tell a smell from this chicken scratching?”  Duncan asked, his voice carried his disbelief. 

 

“That’s exactly what I am telling you, it’s like sheet music to a musician, it tells us exactly what a smell smells like, only in written form.  You know a wolf’s sense of smell is far better than a humans, right?  Well, we are created from human and wolf, this is our written language of smells.”  Snow explained to Duncan’s dismay. 

 

He raised his eyebrows.  “I guess I just never thought of a smell being able to be put in a written form.”

 

Julia was wiping her fingers off.  “This is what I got from the vampire manager.”  She said as Mud handed the case to Snow.

 

Snow looked at the page Julia had made.  She nodded as she read.  “Defiantly not the leader, but you are right, the base is the same, they are working, as would be expected, for the same coven leader.  That’s who we need to find and take out, that will make removing the rest of the coven a lot easier.” 

 

Snow started the car and pulled out of the parking lot and the team headed back to the building they were staying at across town.  Snow looked over at Duncan a few times, she had concern on her face. 

 

She had smelt the blood from Duncan when he threw up, she knew it wasn’t just from the smell of the dancers or his disgust of having their privates thrust in his face.  Something was wrong with him and he was hiding it from her.  She could hear when he was throwing up in their room.  The occurrences were starting to increase. 

 

-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-The-Protectors-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-

 

When they arrived back at their operations building Sea Mist came up to Snow in the main work area.

 

“Commander Sadness, my team leader’s field report from last night.”  She said as she handed a small SD card to her.

 

Snow acknowledged her and took the report.  “From now on please give these to Kevashka the bitch, she will need these for her tactics.”  Snow said to her.

 

Sea Mist nodded with a ‘yes ma’am’ and left the floor, going back to her room with her mate.  Snow walked over to Kevashka’s  office and opened the door, she said ‘field report’ as she tossed the card to her then left. 

 

Duncan had gone back up to their rooms and was working on the computer there from the portable hard drive he had.  He was digging between the archives and current data from the operations network.

 

Snow made rounds to the various teams working on the main floor, giving instructions and getting verbal reports on concerns and things the teams had found out.  She like to interact with the members more than just read the reports Kevashka put together. 

 

This also made her crew feel that she cared about them and was involved and not just some commander in an office, as so many commanders were to hunt parties and raid teams.  This was something she had learned from her father. 

 

When she talked to the team leader of the group Sea Mist was working with, Snow took time to ask how her sister was doing as part of the team.  She was pleased to hear that Sea Mist and her mate were both doing a good job with the team.  Both were ranged fighters and aided in providing distance information and observations to the team at ground zero.  The arrangement seemed to please the team leader. 

 

Once Snow had talked to everyone, she went up to where Duncan was.

 

Duncan was deeply involved in reading across the three monitors he had.  They were filled with pages that he read and clicked back and forth to.  Snow watched him as he mumbled to himself, made notes on a yellow legal pad, then after a bit he would type from the pad onto a page on one of the monitors, save it then toss the page from the note pad. 

 

“What are you working on?”  She finally asked.

 

Duncan hmm’d at her, finishing what he was reading and thinking before actually responding. “Not sure yet, nothing it looks like.  I don’t really know, just trying to connect some dots that don’t seem to have any pattern.  I just,”  Duncan sighed, “I’ve got this gut feeling, I don’t know why, what it is, just feel something isn’t right.”

 

Snow looked at the monitors, she didn’t see anything relevant, Duncan had pages from the history of the clans up, mission reports, other stories from the archives on specific events and strategies, even old newspaper articles.  It looked like a mess to her.

 

“What doesn’t look right?”  She asked.

 

“That’s just it, I don’t know, it’s just a feeling.  I’m probably grasping at straws, probably just nothing and I’m being paranoid.”  He said looking at the monitors and shaking his head.  “I’m not even looking at anything specific, just, looking… hoping something clicks and sends me off in a direction of some sort.”

 

Snow smiled at his back, came up to him and put her arms around his neck and chest from behind and kissed the top of his head.  “Well, if there is something, I’m sure you’ll find it, if anybody can, it’s you.”  She said supporting her partner, then went off to lay down.

 

A short while later, Duncan came and laid down with her to get some rest before their mission that night.

 

-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-The-Protectors-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-

 

Night in the city, the warm coastal air gave way to both sweet and sour smells in the breeze.  Music of many flavors pumped from the bars and clubs.  People milled around the streets, moving from club to club.  Talking and laughter of party goers accompanied by the sound of cars, the sounds of the night. 

 

Prostitutes were on the corners, pedaling there goods to passers by.  A man was in front of the sex shop shouting out his advertisements for his wears, ‘best selection of dildos, vibrating toys, movies and magazines around’ he claimed. 

 

“Hey, yous guys,”  the man advertizing his shop called out to Snow and Duncan when they were in front of him, “check out what I’ve got, make your nights more fun, why not buy your lady here a nice toy, we’ve got butt plugs in every size, vibrators too.”  The man said grabbing Duncan’s arm.

 

“No thanks.”  Duncan said as they moved on.

 

“How about a pleasure swing?  Hang it from the ceiling so you can really slam dance?”  The man called after them when they stopped on the corner just down from the shop to look the streets over. 

 

Snow sniffed.  She looked to Duncan and twitched her head back behind them.  Duncan gave her a signal back and they turned and walked back to where the man was and started into the shop.

 

“See, that’s what I’m talking about, we’s gots something for everyone.”  The man said with a laugh. 

 

“You have any handcuffs?”  A man asked the advertiser in front of the store as they walked in and looked about.

 

“Have I gots handcuffs, come on let me shows you, I’ve got all kinds of thems.”  The portly balding man said to the new customer and led him into the store after them. 

 

They looked around, moving through the isles of sex toys, making jokes about some of the items they found.  Snow picked up a rather large dong and wobbled it at Duncan, who laughed at her and asked her if that was the size she wanted. 

 

They both took some amusement in the shop, and used the time to check out the customers in the store, there were quite a few.  Duncan signaled to indicate a man that was acting rather odd down from them.  Snow acknowledged and they made their way near him so she could get her sniff on. 

 

“Oh my!”  Snow exclaimed, pointing to an extremely oversized butt plug on the shelf in front of her just down from the man.  Duncan’s eyes widened as he looked upon it.

 

“Excuse me, do you have this in a larger size?  This one isn’t quite traffic cone sized!”  Snow said then started laughing hard and snorting, stomping her feet as she did, moving and stumbling from laughter, bumping into the man near them.

 

“Oh, excuse me, I’m sorry.”  She said to the man as she recovered from her apparent fit of laughter.

 

“Aye, no problem, babe.”  The man said to her as she rejoined Duncan.  She shook her head at him when she did, he was totally human.

 

They walked around a bit more appearing to shop and were making their way to the front when the customer who asked about handcuffs passed beside Duncan in an isle.  He noticed a sour smell from him.  He recognized it as very similar to the smell from the dancer that afternoon. 

 

Remembering the contacts and Malkah’s additions, he tapped his wrist computer activating the lenses and flicked his eyes over to activate the new scope vision.  Snow picked up on Duncan’s interest in the man, and also the scent. 

 

When Duncan moved so he could look at the man, he noticed the different pattern from his heat signature then from the other customers in the store.  He tapped his left earpiece and spoke low, the pickup microphone on his throat was hidden beneath the black studded collar he wore.

 

“We have a walker here.”  He informed the team. 

 

Snow looked over to the shelf they were near and grabbed something from it, then signaled to Duncan.  They went to the checkout and Snow bought the item.  The man they had identified as a day walker moved back towards the front of the store. 

 

Once Snow had paid for the item they walked out.  The walker followed them out, staying ten to fifteen feet behind them.  They made their way to the bar they had been at earlier that day, Snow was carded at the door, she produced her passport and the man at the door let her and Duncan in.

 

The band was playing loud, some poor rendition of a song Duncan didn’t recognize.  He tried to bop to the beat as they moved inside and to the bar.  A different bartender was behind the bar, Snow order two beers and handed one to him when the bartender brought them. 

 

While she paid, Duncan turned on the scope vision again and looked around, first at the bartender.  He was human.  He picked up the man that was following them.  There was a pattern of cold he saw near the back of the bar. 

 

He keyed his throat pickup and told Snow and the others through the noise in the bar.  She replied back and they moved towards where the vampire was.

 

The man following them stayed in the bar side while Snow and Duncan moved to a table near where the vampire stood beside one of the pool tables.  They observed as the man following them signaled to the vampire pointing them out.  He moved behind them. 

 

Snow picked up on the sound of a gun cocking, she wheeled around bringing her sword out and taking the vampire’s head, then thrusting him down to the floor under the table they sat at before he blew to keep the humans as safe from damage as she could.  The man who followed them bolted from the bar.  Duncan followed.

 

The man ran towards the liquor store Snow had bought the beer at.  He ducked down the alley, Duncan was hot on his heals.  Snow soon caught up with him as Duncan caught the glimmer of a lens from the fire escape on the building where the alley took a left turn. 

 

He pulled his fifty and started firing in the direction of the rifle scope.  He could pick up the pattern of a vampire and movement from the same location.  Snow leapt high over him and glided to the direction of where the vampire was as shots rang out from the same location.  Snow dodged the shots and the vampire ran into the building with Snow following.  More shots were heard.  This time they sounded like a shotgun, a very powerful shotgun.

 

The day walker was heading down the next part of the alley when Julia stopped him, abruptly with a kick as she dropped from above.  Mud came to place behind him. “Do you repent of your crimes against human kind?”  Julia asked the man.

 

“Go frell yourself bitch.”  The man said as he pulled a silver dagger from his belt. 

 

Mud moved forward and put an arm around his neck, there was a sudden snap as she bent his head sideways over her arm.  The dagger clanged as it fell to the street.  Duncan moved up and retrieved the dagger.  

 

Mud dropped the corpse to the ground and removed the clothes over her uniform, she took to her werewolf form then picked up the body she had dropped and jumped up the walls of the building with the body in tow to take it to a disposal site. 

 

More shots rang out, rifle shots.  Julia pulled out her smart phone and pulled up the GPS locator for the team and found Snow on it.  They moved towards her location heading up the fire escape which was already lowered to the ground.  They were almost to the floor they needed to go onto when Snow came from a window, clutching her side.  She looked weak but was moving. 

 

“Snow, your hit.”  Duncan said.

 

“No shit, bastards are armed with silver bullets.  Julia, help please.”  Snow said.

 

“Max, get the car, bring it to the alley, Snow’s hit.”  Duncan said over the team link.

 

“On my way”  Max responded.

 

Once in the sedan, Max drove while Duncan and Julia helped Snow.  Julia handed Duncan the medical bag from the trunk of the sedan and he pulled out a long handled forceps.  He pushed the instrument into Snow and felt around with it with Snow’s guidance to the bullet. 

 

It was rough getting a grip on it in the moving car and with limited light to see, though more wouldn’t have really helped see inside Snow.  While he was wishing he had more light, then realizing it wouldn’t be much benefit, he tapped the wrist computer and turned on the scope vision again.  He could see the bullet pattern in Snow.

 

“Got it!”  He yelled, though he didn’t need to.

 

“Great, now, let’s go back.”  Snow said, sitting up.  It was a small amount of silver, more pain than anything. 

 

“You’re kidding, right?”  Duncan asked.  “You’ve just been…”  Duncan stopped, he smiled at Snow.  “Right, never mind.”  Max turned the sedan around.  Duncan put the slug in his pocket after he wiped it off.

 

They avoided the part of the city where they had taken out the vampire and the day walker.  The police would most likely show up, they wouldn’t have much to go on.  About all that would remain would be a broken table, no bomb parts or anything else that would indicate an explosive device. 

 

Snow looked like any one of a hundred girls in the bar or along the strip.  Duncan’s face tattoo would be the most recognizable feature on any of them.  They would visit Faldo tomorrow and remedy that. 

 

Noktok had radioed in that he and Shelma had two vampires on track.  They were about half an hour from them and they were waiting for the team.  Max headed to their location the GPS gave them.

 

Kevashka sent them their tactical over the smart phones.  Mud and her mate were on their way to them, Morning Dew had met Mud at the disposal site with a vehicle and was driving her to the location.

 

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They met up on an elevated site on top of a parking garage across from an underground club.  The street was busy with people.  There were three vampires outside of the club trying to get patrons to come in.  One day walker was with them.  Duncan thought they seemed a bit anxious.  He used the zoom feature on the contacts to get a closer look at the vampires. 

 

The three male vampires all wore black leather coats.  Being undead, even in the hot night, heat was not a factor to them.  But the appearance of the jackets would be out of place with the rest of the people on the street. 

 

Duncan watched them as they stood on the sidewalk and talked to people, handing something to those that would take it.  Appeared to be a flyer of some sort.  The day walker escorted two girls who took their invitation down the stairs and into the club.  Duncan finally identified what he was questioning.  The bulges under their coats.

 

“They have heat.”  Duncan said to his team. 

 

“Heat?  So they aren’t vampires?  Julia said turning her eyes to the vampires.

 

“I don’t see any heat.”  Max added.

 

“No, guns, they are packing guns, heat.”  Duncan clarified. 

 

“What’s with vampires all of a sudden carrying guns?  What do they need with them?”  Noktok asked.  “I’ve never heard of vampires carrying guns before.”

 

Duncan looked back at him.  The man’s question brought thoughts to his mind.  More dots, still no connection between them.  Vampires usually carried werewolf slayers, even then they all didn’t have them.  Unless they were expecting werewolves. 

 

Alexander must have them arming up, expecting that the werewolves would be moving to attempt to stop him.  He really was putting his all into this.  Silver wasn’t cheap, and to arm all his covens with bullets was very expensive. 

 

Unlike a sword, he wouldn’t be recovering the bullets, and his people had been firing a lot of them as of late.  From reports around the nation, several million dollars worth of silver had already been fired at werewolf forces.  Quite a few teams had lost members due to this. 

 

“Silver bullets, that’s why, more range than a sword, Alexander is getting ready to try and open the portal.  He’s not taking any chances.  If he has everyone armed with silver bullets, you can bet he has some heavy artillery loaded with it too.”  Duncan said.  “He knows we are going to try and stop him, he’s not about to let that happen.”

 

Noktok nodded.  Duncan was right, Alexander would spend everything he had to protect where he was going to open the portal, and to keep the werewolves from finding out where that was.  Whatever he spent, as greedy as he was, it was nothing compared to what he would get once he unleashed the darkness back into the human world. 

 

“Going to see what their handing out.”  Mud said, she was on site now and moving down the sidewalk towards the vampires.

 

“Okay, everyone, put on more scent neutralizer and let’s get down there.”  Max said.

 

Everyone except Duncan pulled out a bottle of spray and started dousing themselves.  Being human, his scent was fine.

 

“It’s a flyer for an after party, they are inviting as many people as they can.”  Mud reported.

 

Duncan had been watching her while the others neutralized their werewolf scent.  After Mud took one of the flyers and moved on down the side walk, one of the vampires spoke to another one who went down the stairs and into the club, then he looked back at Mud.  The two remaining seemed to get more anxious.  Duncan didn’t like the looks of this.  He pulled out his cell phone and called Kevashka.

 

“I think they made Mud, they know what she is.”  Duncan said to her when she answered.

 

“Are you sure?”  She asked.

 

“Pretty sure, yes, after she passed them one of the vampires sent another one into the club, then he looked back at her, they seem a bit too anxious, like they are expecting an attack now.”  Duncan said.

 

He heard Kevashka on the radio.  She was asking Mud if she had her scent neutralizer on and if she was sure she had used enough to cover her scent.  Mud assured her she had, said she covered herself practically dripping with it.

 

“Is the coven leader one of the vampires on the street?”  Kevashka asked.

 

Duncan looked to his team.  “You guys are the pros here, is the coven leader one of them?”

 

“I don’t think so.”  Julia said looking back to the vampires on the street.  “We could get closer, check it out before we move, it would be very unusual for a coven leader to be out like that.”

 

“Duncan, Sadness, you two go down and find out if the coven leader is one of them, if not, proceed as I told you, stick to the frelling strategy, got it?”  Kevashka said in an angry voice.  “Don’t come to me with assumptions, they could’ve just been looking at her frelling ass, frell.  Think before you bother me.”  Kevashka steamed then ended the call.

 

“She wants Snow and I to go down and look things over.”  Duncan relayed, looking over to Snow.

 

“Alright, let’s move out then.”  Snow said standing up and moving to Duncan’s side.

 

They walked down to the end of the block and crossed over to the other side of the street where the club was then proceeded towards the vampires handing out flyers. 

 

The after hours party would most likely be a feeding party for the vampires, though, they could be trying to score some people to turn for infantry too.  Either way, the team had to stop whatever they were doing. 

 

They were still a ways away from the vampires when a well dressed man who carried himself with assurance came and joined the two along with the one who had gone down into the club.  Everything about this man was different from the others.  He was sure of himself, his face was pale, his eyes were different, cold.  Duncan knew at first glance, this was the coven leader.

 

“Frell!”  Snow said in a loud whisper as she pulled Duncan back and started walking back the way they had came until they were at the corner, then pulled him around it out of sight of the coven leader.

 

“That’s the coven leader, he’s the one I have the scent of, it was heavy in the wind.”  Snow said in a frustrated voice. 

 

“Then lets get him.”  Duncan said wondering why Snow didn’t rush him and take him out.

 

“No, he’d notice me in a second, I have no scent now.  Coven leaders aren’t like other vampires, he would notice the difference right away.  He’s the head of the hive mind, his senses are way more advanced than anyone serving him.  He’d have them firing on me before I could get close, he may have already picked me out.”  Snow told him, cursing when she finished. 

 

Duncan pounded his fist against the wall behind him.  He knew Snow was right, he had been reading a lot about what werewolves knew about vampires. 

 

The cronies may not have picked Snow out with him with her, but the leader knew how many heartbeats were around him, he would count the scents and place them with each heartbeat.  Each body would emit its own stream of smell.  If the number of scents didn’t match the number of heartbeats, he would know someone was covering their scent, and only a werewolf would do that. 

 

“Piss on me.”  Snow said to him.

 

“What?  You’re kidding?”  Duncan retorted, not following her logic.

 

“I’m not kidding, piss on me, that will give me a human scent.”  She replied.

 

“That won’t do any good, you’ll just smell like me than, I’m sure he would notice that.”  Duncan argued. 

 

“No, you all smell alike to them, it’s the scent stream he will count, and if he thinks I do smell like you, it wont matter, if I were human and you had been jumping my bones I would have your scent, same difference.”  Snow argued back.

 

Duncan looked away, he hated the idea.  “Don’t your people have a human scent for situations like this?”

 

“Yes, unfortunately I don’t have any with me, we weren’t exactly expecting to move on a coven leader tonight.  Honestly, we should have had it, Kevashka frelled up, but don’t tell her I said so.  This was still supposed to be recon.”  Snow responded.

 

Reluctantly, Duncan lowered the zipper on his trousers.  As he did what he had too, suddenly from behind him someone made a comment that if they wanted to do that sort of thing, either get a room or go to some underground club they mentioned.  Duncan wanted to deck the person.

 

“That’s enough, stop already.”  Snow said after a few seconds.

 

“Sorry, not good at cutting it off mid stream like that, this isn’t something you train for.”  Duncan replied, finishing in the dim lit sidewalk with his back to traffic.

 

“Come on, reel it in let’s move.”  Snow said back to him.

 

They moved on down the street, Snow’s clothes with a wet look she tried to rub in and not have so noticeable, without much success.  “Ok, wait here, come down after I go in.”  She instructed him.

 

Snow proceeded down the street and when she approached the men with the coven leader they offered her a flyer.  Duncan was tucked into a doorway trying to look nonchalant. 

 

“Oh, after hours party, going to be a good time?”  Snow asked with mock interest of the vampire handing out flyers.

 

“Absolutely, time of your life.”  The vampire assured.  “Trust me, you will never have another night like this one.”

 

“Why don’t you come with me, this is my club, I’m sure you will find it to your taste, miss.”  The coven leader said, placing an arm around her shoulders and leading her down.  Snow discovered the feeling partner had been having, nausea. 

 

-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-The-Protectors-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-O-o-O-o-O-o-O-

 

The coven leader took Snow across the room that was filled with people.  It was mostly wide open and the majority of the place was dance floor with a single row of tables and chairs along the outside two edges of the dance floor on the left and right running up to where the band played. 

 

The area in front of the dance floor had more tables and chairs with the bar on the right hand side.  He took her to the bar and motioned for the bartender to come over.  The woman behind came to them quickly.

 

“Give the lady here her first drink, on the house.”  The man said to the woman behind the bar.  Then he looked at Snow.  “You look like a beer person, how about a Stella?”  He asked in his grating polite voice.

 

“Stella?  Sure, sounds great, thanks.”  She said, glad the man’s arm was off her now.

 

Snow took the bottle of beer when the woman brought it to her, then moved to the opposite side of the room near the dance floor and watched.  Beside the end of the bar, closest to the dance floor was a door that the vampire owner went into.  On the other end near the entrance were two more doors side by side that accessed the restrooms. 

 

As Snow stood with her back against the wall between two open tables she clicked on her scope vision and looked around.  The bartender was clearly a day walker, and there were four, maybe a fifth vampire in the club, besides the coven leader in the back and the three up top.  She watched as Duncan entered.

 

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Duncan had watched Snow go up to where the four men were.  One handed her a flyer while the others looked around.  The coven leader was looking at his smart phone and at first, didn’t pay much attention to Snow.  He could see she started talking with them, the coven leader looked to her then put his phone away and led her downstairs. 

 

Duncan waited until she was well inside, about a minute more then started walking down the sidewalk to the club.  When he approached the three remaining men, the one handing out flyers that had been facing the direction Duncan came from turned so he was facing the other vampires.  They made no effort to hand him a flyer.  Duncan went around the men who watched him as he went down the stairs and into the club.

 

“Back wall, on the left, okay.”  Duncan replied to Snow over the radio when she told him where she was in the club.  He had no trouble spotting her when he walked in. 

 

“He went in the door on this end of the bar.”  Snow said when she saw Duncan.  He nodded and went to the bar.

 

He only waited a few seconds when the woman behind it came and asked what he wanted.  “You have Fat Tire?”  Duncan asked.  She shook her head.  “How about a Heineken?”  The woman offered.  “Sure, fine.”  Duncan answered and put a twenty on the bar and looked around as he waited. 

 

A man and woman who had been at the bar moved off towards a table leaving an open stool that Duncan took.  The bartender set the beer down by him along with his change.  Duncan pushed a dollar towards the depressed trough at the back of the bar as a tip, then looked around more, he already had his scope vision on.  He had turned his back to the bartender.

 

Duncan drank about half his beer.  Snow was watching for the coven leader to come back out, he hadn’t yet.  They had informed the rest of their team what was going on, Snow communicated through the PTT network on the smart phone to the crew, advising them to move in for support. 

 

Then the three vampires that had been working the sidewalk came downstairs, one stood on either side of the doorway with their hands clasped in front of them while the last moved to the end of the bar by the bathrooms.  Duncan looked them over, his gut talked to him as he became aware of a presence behind him.

 

“Snow, down!”  He said urgently into the pickup across the radio and he himself dropped to the ground as a gun fired, he would have been shot in the back of the head hadn’t he dropped.  The two vampires at the door pulled their guns and started firing in Snow’s direction.  She jumped and dove behind a speaker on the bandstand. 

 

The woman behind the bar was leaning over to get a shot at Duncan, he scooted on the floor and pulled his Desert Eagle out, a round hit him in the leg, thanks to the armored uniform underneath, he was unscathed  as he fired two shots into the woman’s head spray painting the ceiling with brains that plopped to the bar and floor. 

 

Duncan put the fifty back and reached for the shotgun as he stood, putting his butt on the bar and swinging his legs over putting himself behind the bar for cover.  He opened fire on the vampire at the end of the bar who was turning his fire towards him, the barrels barking off in the left right left right rhythm. 

 

The patrons of the bar were screaming and running about trying to get down or out.  Those that ran for the door were cut down by the two man at the door, they had no regard for their guests.  Duncan turned his fire towards them as the vampire at the end of the bar blew from the lights inside him.

 

More vampires with automatic weapons came from the office area Snow had said the coven leader went into, and also from a hidden door near the back wall where the band stand was, right next to Snow.  They opened fire on the crowd of people, one vampire turned towards Snow to open fire on her, Duncan let Betty bark in his direction.  When he blew from the light inside of him, Snow took a two step run and leapt for the bar. 

 

The two vampires at the door were no longer an issue, there was blood splattered around where they had been from an innocent being to close when they blew.  Duncan and Snow were behind the bar as bullets riddles the area above them busting the mirror and bottles behind, the sinks and coolers as well as the think wood of the bar stopped the bullets from reaching them.

 

Snow reached to her back and pulled one of her oversized saw blade looking shurikens, popping up quickly and launching it at the closest vampire, separating his head from his body.  There was another explosion as a result. 

 

Duncan was shoving more shells into the shotgun, Snow pulled her custom swords as the rest of the team made their way down stairs.  The vampires turned and fired at them, there wasn’t much cover for them to take.  Snow leapt from behind the bar, her blades dancing around her.  She connected with two of the vampires. 

 

Duncan heard her cry out as she took a couple hits from the automatic weapon fire.  The others joined in the fight, There was about fifteen vampires left to their six.  The coven leader emerged from the back room, firing at Duncan. 

 

His uniform absorbed the second shot, the first however connected with the front of his chin as Duncan moved to avoid the lethal aim of it.  Duncan moved his shotgun in his direction and let Betty bark, the coven leader was much more agile than his counterparts, he blew three holes in the door behind the coven leader as he dodged.

 

Mud was flying across the room, she was dual wielding short swords and took a couple vampires down before she was hit, Duncan couldn’t tell how bad, but she didn’t slow. 

 

He had lost sight of Snow but soon saw her again as a vampire impaled Shelma with a thin silver sword, Snow’s boomerang was on target, slicing the top of the head of the vampire off, giving Noktok the chance to kick the soon to explode vampire away and removing the sword from her so she could regenerate and rejoin in the fight. 

 

Snow suddenly ran forward and spun her body after a small jump and pulling her legs up into herself,  she moved her blades around herself in a graceful ballet of combat, taking three vampires down before her feet touched the floor again. 

 

Two vampires came towards her from behind, with their machine guns leveled on her.  She thrust the blades abruptly backwards and the two rear facing extended blades of the double ended swords met with their intended targets. 

 

Snow dropped to the ground as their weapons fired, catching Julia who was across from where Snow had been.  Snow snapped back up, dissecting the two stuck on the ends of her blades as she did, then, the blades now free, spun them around and decapitated the upper part of their torsos. 

 

The coven leader moved towards Snow, he had a set of silver claws on his one fist, he punched Snow directly in the face with them across the bridge of her nose, just missing her eyes, he failed to disconnect the weapon from his hand to leave it in her.  Then he charged towards the hidden door by the stage and ran in.  Duncan fired in his direction, he wasn’t sure if any of his rounds connected, there was no sign the leader blew. 

 

There must be a back exit to the club Duncan thought, and the chicken shit was making a break for it.  Duncan ran to the end of the bar where he had originally come from and jumped over the end and went into the office to see of there were any others making ready to join the battle. 

 

There was a body laying on the floor behind a desk stuffed by a file cabinet.  Duncan could see blonde hair.  He held the shotgun at the head and turned the waitress from the strip club they had been at over.  She had apparently been supper.

 

Duncan heard someone at the door and dove left as he heard shots and felt a burning in his neck.  He blindly fired the shotgun from behind the desk, engaging the dual fire he righted himself and fired on the form that was falling backwards, the rifle its hands dropping to the ground.  He ceased fire and took what cover he could as the vampire blew. 

 

He was shoving more shells into the shotgun when he heard the sound of more shotguns, they had an entirely different sound then the assault rifles the vampires had.  He climbed onto the desk, walking along the wall by the door to keep out of sight and line of fire. 

 

He popped his head around the door opening and back in getting a quick view of what was going on.  He caught a glimpse of werewolves and other members of the crew with shotguns that were finishing off the vampires.  Then the shooting ended.  Duncan walked out into the room, there were at least fifty bodies on the ground.  Some killed by the vampires, some by his team.  It was a slaughter either way. 

 

Duncan looked around for Snow, she was gone.  “The coven leader went through that door.”  He said pointing, and knowing his partner, Snow had too.  Duncan charged the door and ignored the crew telling him not to follow. 

 

He followed the narrow tunnel at the back of the small room behind the stage to a ladder that went up.  He climbed it and exited through an open grate in a back alley.  He pulled out his phone to try and get a location on Snow from the GPS.  Locating her he moved off as fast as he could run.  Sirens were wailing off in the distance, they were getting closer.

 

Duncan came out of the alley into some back streets on the other side of the strip where the clubs had been.  The streets back here weren’t nearly as lit as the others had been.  He made his way along trying to follow Snow’s marker, she was moving fast and changing directions often. 

 

He had ran down a back alley when two people jumped out from behind a dumpster, one fired on him striking him in the chest, before the young man holding the gun could fire again, the gun jammed.  It was a young boy and a girl, Duncan guessed around seventeen or eighteen, both were day walkers.  He leveled his Desert Eagle on them.

 

“Mine won’t jamb.”  He said as the boy dropped the gun and backed against the dumpster.

 

“Go ahead, pig, shoot.”  The kid said.  “I ain’t armed now, can’t shoot me now can you?”

 

The couples escape was cut off by a rickety slatted wooden fence that came from the building beside and made an L around the dumpster, it looked as though at one time there had been a gate at the front of the dumpster to prevent unwanted use of the trash repository.

 

“I just might.”  Duncan said, he switched the gun to his right hand and reached back under his top shirt at the neck and pulled out his sword.  “But, I have to give you your chance to repent first, I gave my word I would follow the rules, so you get a chance to live.”

 

Once he had the sword pointed at the young man he holstered the gun.  The girl next to the boy had her hands up.  She started to lower them when Duncan put the gun away.

 

“Keep ‘em up doll face.”  He said, and she raised her hands again.  “I can pull and shoot faster then you can run, and you haven’t got anywhere to go.”

 

The boy started laughing.  “Don’t listen to him Cindy, he ain’t no werewolf, are you bitch, you’re human like us.”

 

“I’m human,”  Duncan started, “but not like you, you’re not really human anymore, now, you have a choice to make, if you have a truly repentant heart, you can be human again.”

 

The boy started to laugh, the girl looked scared. 

 

“You ain’t shit man, you ain’t shit, and I ain’t repenting, you’ll be the one begging.”  The kid said.

 

Duncan caught a shadow moving behind him, the smell of a vampire crossed his nose.  He was boxed in.  The vampire was moving in slow, Duncan switched the sword cautiously to his right hand, removing his left as he had been holding it with both hands, he reached to where the shotgun was.

 

“Yeah, you can’t even wield that thing, you’re no werewolf.”  The kid said, laughing as the vampire approached from behind Duncan.

 

Before Duncan could pull the shotgun, a large form flew across from behind him, the vampire screamed.  Duncan pulled the shotgun, aimed it at the kids in front of him and turned, he saw a large monstrous beast behind him. 

 

It was hideous and now covered in what remained of the vampire it had shredded.  Chunks of vampire fell from its face, its fur and claws dripping with blood that the creature had sucked from humans to sustain itself. 

 

The black monster with red eyes bowed its head at Duncan who turned his attention back to the kids, the boy moved back when Duncan returned his attention to him, having moved forward to try and make a break for it when he saw his help ripped apart.

 

“You’re clear boss.”  He heard Kicks’ voice say.  “I got your back.”

 

“Go help Snow.”  Duncan said, keeping his eyes on the two in front of him.

 

“I am helping her, by keeping you alive, Sadness can handle herself, the crew is moving to her now.  Get this over with.”  Kicks said.

 

Duncan nodded.  The faster he dealt with these day walkers, the sooner he could help Snow, his duty was here now, and Kicks was there to watch his back.  He returned the shotgun to its dimensional pocket and took the sword in both hands again.  He moved in, the kids backed against the dumpster again.

 

“As I was saying, you have a chance to live, your call.  But you have to have a truly repentant heart, boy.”  Duncan said, bringing the tip of the sword very close to the boys face.

 

“I ain’t scared of no human with a werewolf sword, and your rogue bitch back there can’t use it either.”  The boy said.  “I got more help coming, you both are going to die, unless you let us go now.”  The boy offered, Duncan didn’t seem to hear.

 

“You’re right, I can’t wield the sword, not in combat.  This was given to me by a dear friend, a good werewolf.”  Duncan said, raising the blade from the boy and looking at it.

 

“You know what the first thing you do when a sword like this is given to you?”  Duncan asked, looking at the boy, who looked as scared as the girl now, not quite sure what to make of the situation. 

 

His knowledge of supernatural matters such as this was quite limited, Duncan could read in his face that he doubted anymore help might be coming.  The boy was shaking his head, trying to vocalize his response, but was unable.

 

“You give her a name.”  Duncan said and started smiling, a memory in his heart.  “This is Lisa.”  He said, suddenly dropping the sword to the boys neck again, his face flashed with poise and anger. 

 

“Give him a taste sweetie.”  Duncan said to the sword as he moved his right hand over the blade but not touching it.

 

The sword started to glow, blue electric looking discharges seemed to come from it down the body and edges, then they spat forward, engulfing the boys shoulders and head.  The girl screamed.

 

“Quiet, I’ll get to you when I’m done with lover boy here.”  Duncan said without looking at her.  Kicks was quiet behind Duncan.

 

“Last chance, choose, light or dark, do you choose to repent of your crimes against humanity?”  Duncan asked the boy and the discharge lessened then stopped.

 

The boy quivered, he started to scream, his vampire master was calling to him.  “Never!  I belong to the darkness!”  He screamed at Duncan.

 

“Then you have chosen.”  Duncan said, returning his free hand to the leather wrapped hilt.  “Lisa, please.”

 

The blue light from the sword throbbed, became brilliant.  The discharge returned, this time covering the entire body of the day walker.  The light became nearly blinding then suddenly stopped.  The boy was gone.

 

Duncan turned to the girl.  Before he could speak, she started her plea.

 

“I never wanted any part of this,  I repent, I repent!”  She said loudly.

 

Her body started convulsing, a chilling scream came from her, the vampire master had heard her from his hiding place.  He wasn’t going to let her go without a fight, a fight that would cost the girl her life if not stopped.

 

“You have a choice.”  Duncan started again.  “You may choose light, or the darkness.”

 

“Light!  Light!”  The girl struggled to say.  Blood started coming from her eyes and nose, her heart was pounding fast, it would explode soon from the force that was being put on it, the veins in her body were starting to bulge, her vampire master was going to cause her massive hemorrhaging to stop her. 

 

“Do you repent of your crimes against human kind”  Duncan asked as one of her eyes propelled from its socket, hanging from the optic nerve and bouncing on her face while she convulsed and screamed.

 

“Y..Y..Yes!”  Came garbled from the girls throat.

 

Duncan took his right hand from the sword, reaching into a pocket he pulled a pint sized bottle with a cork in it.  He removed the cork from the bottle with his teeth.

 

“Drink this.”  He said to the girl who now was spewing blood from her mouth.  “Cleanse your soul.” 

 

The girl’s arms thrashed about along with the rest of her body.  “I’ll help.”  Duncan said as he went to her, moving the sword out so it wouldn’t touch her. 

 

He placed the open end of the bottle in her mouth and started pouring the liquid inside into her mouth.  She drank, the holy water and her blood.  Duncan kept pouring, her convulsions started to ease slightly, she drank more.  She consumed the entire bottle then passed out, falling to her side, her face landing on her dislodged eye.  The link between the girl and her vampire master was now severed.

 

Kicks walked to beside Duncan, looking at the body of the girl, his hands in the pockets of the brown leather jacket he wore.

 

“Congratulations, your first soul saved.  Kicks said, his voice somber. 

 

Duncan started to waver, he managed to put his sword away before he hit his knees.  Kicks helped him stand again and move to the wall for support.  He had lost a lot of blood from the gunshot wound at his neck, he could hear the sound of engines working hard.  There was a sound of tires screeching around a corner then lights came into view.

 

“Take care of my cousin, I have to go before they get here.  Take care of yourself too.”  Kicks said, he backed away, changed and was gone. 

 

 

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