The Protectors
Author: Fox Wild

Chapter 11
Connecting The Dots

Chapter 11

 

Connecting The Dots

 

 

“Alright, we got you Duncan, we’re getting you to a medical station now.”  Mud’s voice carried to Duncan’s throbbing ears.

 

“The girl, get the girl.  She’s repentant, if she’s still alive.”  Duncan said.  He could feel himself being picked up and carried.  Someone was holding something to his neck, he hadn’t thought the wound was that bad.

 

“We got her, she’s alive, barely.”  Mud’s voice told Him.

 

“My mate, is she . . . how is she.”  He asked while he was placed as gently, while hurriedly shoving him, in the vehicle as he could be. They had him on a blanket and pulled him the rest of the way onto the seat with it. “My mate, what happened to her?”  Duncan asked trying to sit up, his voice weak.

 

“Lay your punk ass back down, I’m driving here.”  Snow’s voice said to him. Duncan reached a hand out.  He felt Snow’s fingers touch his, then he passed out again.

 

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Snow drove fast, she had turned on the emergency lights and put the magnetic top bar on the roof of the Suburban.  She was trying to keep herself upright as well.  She didn’t know how many times she had been hit. 

 

The one that hurt the most was from the coven leader.  He had carried a forty-five auto.  And silver throwing knives, but those she was able to pull from herself.  Everyone on her team was hit in some manner. 

 

Julia was unconscious in the seat she was on.  Noktok looked as though he had passed out next to her, Shelma was holding his head against her chest.  Her eyes looked tired and weak.  She had at least three holes in her Snow could see when she looked in the rearview mirror.

 

“Sadness!”  Max yelled, bringing Snow back from almost passing out.  “No crashing, I’m going to punch you in the arm till we get there, to keep you awake, not cuz I like love you or anything.”  Max said as he reached over and threw a limp punch at Snow’s arm. 

 

Blood was dried on some parts of his face, coming from his lower lip.  Other wounds were still fresh enough they were dripping, starting to regenerate, slowed down from the amount of silver in his body. 

 

Snow reached down and stuck a finger into one of the bullet holes in her leg, causing herself to wake up some.  She decided not to try that again, due to the other effect, almost causing her to pass out from the pain. 

 

They had a medical facility set up in the basement of the building they were staying.  Night Harvest had insisted on that, he thought that best over using werewolf facilities set up in local hospitals for Snow’s crew.  He wouldn’t extrapolate further on his reasons.  Snow thought the hospital might be closer, but she followed orders and was heading back to the clan Stormhold building. 

 

She had used the radio network to call in that they were coming.  Two people pulled the gate open at the back of the building when she sped in.  A woman was using runway flashlights to director her where to turn.  She went into the open garage door.  She had to break hard as there was another person inside with a light, he was waving it for her to pull forward and walking backwards. 

 

He started cupping his hands, moving his fingers towards him for her to keep pulling forward as she approached a wall.  Snow pushed hard on the break and put the Suburban in park when he made the stop sign.  The woman came running up next to the vehicle while the man went to a box that was supported on a pipe from the floor.

 

“Kill the engine.”  The woman said to Snow after she lowered the window as directed by the woman’s hand motions.  The floor started to drop bringing the Suburban down into an underground facility below the building.  It seemed to take forever.  The doors were being opened and staff was pulling her crew and her from the vehicle and putting them into wheelchairs.

 

“That one’s human.”  Snow said in a daze as she was turned in the chair and saw them pulling Duncan from the back door of the Suburban.

 

“We know Sadness.”  A familiar voice said.  Snow took her turn to pass out.

 

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When Duncan woke he was in a hospital bed.  The room was somewhat crudely put together as a hospital room, but it served the purpose.  Several IV bags hung from a stand near him.  His chin hurt the most.  He could see the back of a woman at a small table a few feet from him.  She turned to face him when he groaned and coughed from trying to sit up too fast. 

 

“Sir Galt, you’re back with us, good.  I’ll let the doctor know you’re awake.”  The nurse said politely.

 

“What about Sn... Sadness and my team?”  Duncan asked the woman before she reached the door.

 

“The doctor will be in, in a minute.”  She said turning to him and smiling, then proceeding out the door.

 

Duncan looked the bed over.  Finding there were controls to raise the back, he lifted himself up to a sitting position.  He had a slight headache, not surprising considering the blood loss he had.  He reached to his neck, there was a gob of gauze on his neck.  He could feel the wound when he pressed on it.

 

“Duncan, your back with us, good.  How are you feeling?”  Doctor River Stone asked as he entered the room.

 

“River Stone?  What are you doing here?”  Duncan said with a note of insensitivity.

 

“Well, when they were asking for volunteers to come and work out here, I heard you were going to be here.  I figured someone had to come and deal with your complaining.”  River Stone said with a smile.  “And they needed someone who knew which end of the human to put the thermometer in.”

 

Duncan managed a slight laugh.

 

“You lost a lot of blood, good news though, I just so happened to have stocked extra just for you, I had a feeling we would be seeing you here.  And I wouldn’t want to have to waste good poodle blood on you, so, I took measures.  We did have to give you plasma too.  Used some werewolf plasma, but don’t worry, you won’t be barking at the moon or anything, our plasma is the same as yours.”  River Stone said moving next to Duncan and pulling back the gauze on his chin, then on his neck and looking at the wounds.

 

“You’re going to be fine, just needed a refill and some stitches, the wound on your neck was just, leaky.  As far as your chin goes, you had a chip taken out of the bone, nothing serious.  With the scar and the missing chip it will give your face, character.”  River Stone stated with a smile and a pat on the shoulder. 

 

Duncan nodded.  He didn’t think he had been hit that bad, considering he was able to give chase down the alleys.

 

“How’s Snow, and my team?”  Duncan asked finally.  River Stone had updated him on his condition, he waited through that.

 

River Stone gave a smug smile.  “Everyone is doing good, Sadness is as ornery at ever.  I remember when she was born, she came to us with a full set of teeth already.”  River Stone’s face dropped slightly as the looked off. 

 

“When we tried to put her in her mother’s arms, she threw her across the room, cursing the birth of a daughter.  Nurse Hattie intercepted Sadness before she hit the wall.  At that age, she could have been severely hurt… or killed.  Never seen such a vile woman.”  He shook his head with a look of disgust.

 

“What about the girl that repented, were you able to save her?”  He asked, to the appreciative face of Doctor River Stone, grateful for the topic change.

 

River Stone shook his head.  “To early to tell yet.  She was in pretty rough shape when she was brought in.  Massive internal damage, vampires have an ability, shockwave I believe they refer to it as, comes in through the mind of the infected and pushes down through their body, intended to kill before they can betray their master.  She was hit with most of it.  Add that to the actual cleansing she is going though, it will be a miracle of she makes it.”

 

Duncan nodded.  She was hit hard, he had seen that personally.  The internal pressure the ability created was intense.  A true testament to the darkness of the creature, fitting for the name of their master.

 

River Stone walked over to the door and closed it, a nurse had started to come in and he motioned her out, Duncan heard him tell her he needed a word in private with him.

 

“So, have you told Sadness yet?”  River Stone asked when he was back beside Duncan.

 

Duncan looked back with a confused look on his face, his question was a bit out of the blue.

 

“Told her about what?”  He asked back.

 

River Stone scratched above an eye behind his large glasses.  “I had a complete set of tests run on you, standard considering, I found some things that made me test a bit further.  Ran extra blood panels, some DNA samples, I think you know what I’m talking about.  You have started vomiting by now?”

 

Duncan’s face went flaccid, showing he caught up to River Stone now.  The Doctor wasn’t being nosy, just doing his job. 

 

“No, she doesn’t know anything.  Not ready to tell her yet, there are reasons why.  I would ask you kept this to yourself also, please.”  Duncan said with an absent voice.

 

River Stone pulled a chair up next to him, turned it backward and sat with his front to the back of the chair facing Duncan, resting his arms on the back of the chair.

 

“Well, there are the patient confidentiality laws, state and federal.  Though those are irrelevant to us, we have rules set forth by the bishops, far more strict, smack your hand with a ruler strict.  As healers, we are under the jurisdiction of the bishops, and, well, they are very heavy on confidentiality, as you can assume.”  River Stone told him this to provide the strongest assurance that whatever they talked about would be kept in the strictest confidence.  “As a matter of fact, given the results, I had them destroyed, only I have seen them, not even the lab technicians that ran the samples have seen the readouts.  Your secrets are safe.”

 

Duncan nodded.  “Thank you.”  River Stone seemed to have an entirely different attitude now, he also seemed happier to be working with a crew instead of stuck in a human hospital. 

 

“How long do I have?”  Duncan asked.

 

River Stone curved his lips down in thought.  Rocking his head back and fourth, analyzing the information in his mind again for accuracy before he spoke.  “I would say three months tops, possibly longer, but I wouldn’t count on it.  I wouldn’t wait long if I were you.  Three months is the absolute longest, it could happen faster.  I can give you some medication that will help with the puking, but that is about the best I can do.”

 

Duncan nodded again, his face somber as he considered his options.  “Thanks Doc, if I need something, I’ll let you know.”

 

“Alright then, I do have others to see, glad you are feeling better.  We are going to let those bags finish topping you off, then you are out of here.  I’ll be back to see you off.”  River Stone said and exited the chair, then the room.

 

Duncan didn’t know how long he sat and watched the bags next to him drip.  Snow walked in with Max and Julia following, finally taking his mind off the time and boredom.  He smiled at them, he was glad to see his team.

 

“How you feeling, you made a hell of a mess in my Suburban.”  Snow said with a smile, coming up to him and gently giving him the best hug she could with the tubes running into him. 

 

“Well, you know, I do what I can.  How about you guys, and the rest of the team?”  Duncan asked looking over at Max and Julia.

 

“Great, once they got the silver out of us, right as rain, regenerated you know.”  Snow answered.

 

“Mud went with Noktok and Shelma to get something to eat.  They are doing good, been through a few battles, they’re good.”  Max told him.

 

“Good job on the redemption by the way, you did real good.”  Snow said to Duncan in a soft voice, smiling, her pride in him written on her face.

 

“Yes, congratulations Duncan, you should be proud of yourself, first time out and you saved a soul, you did very good.”  Julia said as Max bobbed his head in agreement.

 

“Thanks, I just hope she makes it.”  Duncan said looking to his feet.

 

“Hey,” Snow said rubbing his arm, “you gave her something better than life here, you kept her from eternal darkness, that was the best thing you could have given her, even if she doesn’t make it.”  She told him trying to lift his spirits by getting him focused on the big picture.

 

Max and Julia left after a few more minutes to give Snow and Duncan some time alone, and to connect with the rest of the team. Snow went and closed the door to the room after they left.  Her face had the ‘here’s some shit news for you’ look he had come to learn from his years with the company.

 

“Our teams were hit hard, we lost nine last night.”  Snow said, her face held a grim message that went beyond just the loss of the team members.  “Sea Mist almost was one of them, her mate was hit pretty hard too.  They were on a roof top providing surveillance and cover for their team below.” 

 

He could see the pain in her face over Sea Mist. 

 

“When the team got hit, they were way out numbered, the leader ordered Sea Mist and her mate to bug out and get away.  They did, only when they were away, five vampires ambushed them where they were hiding.  They took three of them down, her mate cut loose at close range with his blunderbuss.  The wooden stakes did their job.”

 

She paused to take a deep breath, it was hard for her to talk about.  “But he was shot with large caliber silver bullets, both were left to die.  Had one of the other teams not found them by accident, they would have.”  Snow’s voice told of how this cut her, she was blaming herself for her sisters near death.

 

Duncan remembered the conversation he over heard Sea Mist and Snow having.  Snow had told her she was too young to join a hunt party, she wasn’t a hundred yet even.  Sea Mist responded, neither was Snow.  It was against her better judgment, but those above Snow allowed it.  They needed every hand they could get in this fight.

 

Snow looked up at Duncan.  Her face bode a look of failure.  He had never seen her in such a funk.  She looked defeated. “Duncan, The other crew, they lost four teams completely, wiped them out.  I’ve failed as a commander here.  I am going to step down and turn this over to a more experienced  commander.” 

 

Snow’s body shuddered.  She was taking this hard.  “There were way to many innocent casualties last night.  I should have called it off, waited till we were better prepared.  Given Kevashka time to work the tactics more.” 

 

Duncan shook his head.  “No!  You are not stepping down, collateral damage happens, this isn’t fighting out in some field, this is in the trenches, you are not stepping down!”  He tried to get out of bed, Snow pushed him back telling him to stay, that getting up wasn’t necessary. “Snow, you did not fail, look, have vampires ever been this armed before?”  Duncan asked.

 

“No, but I’m out of my league here.”  Snow defended.

 

“Frell if you are, you are needed, the teams need you, the crews need you, tell me is that Valliant Knight title bullshit or what?”  Duncan said in a huff.

 

Snow looked at him, a hurt on her face.  “No, why would you say that?”

 

“Because, you earned it, you did what was necessary to win, you adapted to the situation and you conquered.  That is why you are needed here, another commander won’t be as innovative as you, and it’s not just you, I am second in command here, we are a team, we will figure this mess out!”  Duncan charged to her in an encouraging voice. 

 

He sat up some taking her hand and looked into her eyes.  When he spoke again his voice was gentle and strong.  “Stick with me on this, give us another month, if you still feel that way I will support you in stepping down.”

 

Snow looked down, considering what Duncan had said.  She wasn’t a quitter, she got his point on that.  She had over-come odds that were mounted against her.  She understood where he was coming from.  She agreed not to step down for one month.  Then if she hadn’t made what she felt was sufficient progress, then Duncan would stand beside her and step down with her. 

 

Snow sat with Duncan while he rested after they talked.  He was still hurting a bit from being shot, not a surprise there.  Doctor River Stone returned, Snow left while he helped the nurse with him remove the IVs from Duncan and returned his clothes to him.  River Stone handed something to Duncan, who took it and looked oddly at the Doctor.

 

“What’s this?”  Duncan asked unsure of the intent.

 

“It’s a lollypop, I find it’s the best medicine for the blues.”  River Stone said with a smile then turned to leave again.

 

“Hey Doc,” Duncan started, River Stone looked back and said ‘yes’, “you have any of the bullets that you removed from my team still?”  He asked.

 

“Yes, all of them, why?”  River Stone questioned.

 

“I want them.”  Duncan responded.

 

River Stone thought for a moment then shrugged, he didn’t see any reason not to give them to Duncan, he told him he would get them for him and would be right back.  River Stone returned with a zip lock baggy with a large amount of bullets in it.

 

“This is all of them that I have since I started here.  I hope they are of some help to you.”  River Stone said handing the bag to Duncan.

 

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River Stone signed off on Duncan’s release and he met up with the rest of his team in the waiting area, they looked as though they hadn’t been shot at all.  Duncan thought it must be nice to regenerate as they did.  Even with the allergy to silver. 

 

The team greeted him and exchanged their glad feelings that he was alright.  They talked for a bit about their injuries, Duncan had asked, and they all assured him they were in far better shape then he was.  He returned his feelings about being happy they were fine, and informed them that his injuries were minor and blood loss was the only thing he suffered from which River Stone had taken care of.

 

It was just past one in the afternoon, they all went to their floors in the building.  Duncan had said he wanted to go to Faldo and have him remove the tattoo from his face and set him up with a different look, and recommended the others have some work done too.  They all agreed and would meet him in the garage at a new vehicle in about twenty minutes to go to the high rent district to where Faldo worked. 

 

Duncan and Snow went to their rooms for a bit, they showered quick and changed clothes.  Snow helped Duncan take off the bandages he wore, leaving the stitches on his neck and chin open.  They dressed in silence, each lost in their own thoughts. 

 

Both were thinking about the same thing though, the recent events that had left so many of their forces dead.  This was amplified by the fact that they always came in pairs.  The other crew had lost four teams.  Duncan wondered how many of those were mated, and how many left their mates to die someplace else.

 

The vampires were being bold, not seeming to care about remaining hidden.  The ones on the street last night weren’t the only ones blatantly out on the streets urging humans into their trap.  Other teams from around the country were reporting the same type of activity, groups of vampires out in public areas pitching parties and group gatherings for fun and excitement. 

 

They weren’t just working the solo or small groups of humans, just working the clubs and bars they owned and getting selected ones to after parties, they were inviting everyone.  They didn’t seem to care about detection. 

 

Duncan’s cell phone beeped, he checked it and went to plug it in to charge, Snow looked at hers when he checked his.  She tossed hers to him and asked him to plug it in too.  They had gone, like their phones, quite a while without recharging. 

 

After they finished with Faldo, they would take some time themselves to recharge.  Tonight the command team would spend their time directing the crew and its teams instead of being out in the streets. 

 

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Max, Meadow and Mud joined Snow and Duncan in the Suburban, Noktok, Shelma and Julia had left in another vehicle to head out and set up remote command centers they would be working from in the field, the reconnaissance members would be reporting to them. 

 

They would also be keeping a distant watch on certain areas of interest.  For the next week they would be working a bit slower, concentrating more on gathering information before a strike force was sent in, to try and cut down on the human casualties and their own.  Kevashka had asked for a meeting with the command team privately when they returned. 

 

The area that Faldo worked in was definitely in complete opposition to the area they had been in the night before, everyone here seemed to have a Beverly Hills attitude and dress.  Snow parked in a secured parking facility.  The rate per hour was very high, but the place had guards that walked the floors and security cameras everywhere that were well monitored.  The garage was even clean.  It appeared they used a street sweeper quite frequently, they passed one parked in a small service area on the way in. 

 

Out on the street, you would be hard pressed to find any trash.  The streets were lined with planted trees, clean benches and amenities.  There were no bars on the windows in this part of the city.  Even the lamps for night added to the deco of the street, being artful, not simple and practical.  The team had dressed up for going into the high rent district, though Snow and Duncan were the two best dressed.  Duncan’s suit blended well with the area.

 

They stopped into a women’s shop so the ladies could look at clothes.  The staff was clearly judging them by their attire.  Duncan received smiles, Snow somewhat, but Mud, Max and Meadow were given looks that begged they leave. 

 

“That’s a nice dress.”  The sales lady who came to Snow said, though her tone said it wasn’t a compliment.

 

“Thank you, it’s by Kambriel, I picked it up in New York, you wouldn’t happen to have anything in a west coast fashion, would you?”  She replied.  The lady seemed to recognize the name and smiled when Snow informed her it was designer. 

 

“Well, we do carry Rick Owens line, and his Palais Royal as well as a few pieces from his Dark Shadow collections, however, most of what we carry here aren’t quite as dark, perhaps we will have something that will strike your fancy.”  The lady said and led Snow to an upstairs part of the shop.

 

Mud found a suit that she claimed she absolutely fell in love with, she pounced on a sales lady and asked for it in her size.  The woman gave her a look that said the clothes were out of Mud’s price range and backed that up by first announcing the price of each piece.  Mud nodded her head and said ‘okay’ then asked again for the items in her size.  The lady brought them to her and escorted Mud to a dressing room.  Mud actually looked very good in the outfit she had chosen.

 

“This is by Alexander Wang.”  The lady informed Mud.  Mud’s face changed when she heard the name of the designer.

 

“Oh, I don’t like the name ‘Alexander’.”  She said and asked if they had anything from Stella McCartney. 

 

The sales person perked when Mud asked this. “Why yes, if you like this outfit, I think I have something in the McCartney line that you may find appealing.”  She told her and went off and returned with another outfit for Mud to try.

 

When Mud emerged from the dressing room and surveyed herself in the mirror, she beamed with approval.  Snow came down in an elegant outfit that took Duncan’s breath away.  The two ladies made their way to the check out, Mud told the woman running the checkout that she would pay for both outfits and handed her a credit card.  The woman looked at the card, smiled, then ran the total though.  Once paid they were back on the street and moving towards where Faldo was.  They escaped the clothing store at just under five thousand dollars.

 

Duncan was in the lead with Max close by his side on the outside while the women followed talking about their new clothes.  Mud had said she preferred working in areas like this.  Duncan cringed a bit when they mentioned shoes, they said they hadn’t gotten any, even though the boots Snow wore went good with the outfit, but she went on about some Demonia Gravel boots she wanted. 

 

Duncan was the first at the shop Faldo worked at.  Max called out to the girls while Duncan stormed in, the sound of his Desert Eagle barking off three rounds reverberated from the shop.  The girls followed Max in, pulling their swords.

 

Faldo was slumped into a salon chair, a werewolf slayer sticking from his chest.  The bright walls near him were now covered in crimson dots and splatters that looked like a modern art splatter painting, the body of another man who was dressed the same as Faldo lay at the base of the salon chair.  A young woman was standing on the door side of the chair screaming.

 

“He's killing him!”  She had said when they first entered.

 

Duncan pulled the sword from Faldo’s chest, he was still alive and breathed more easily once the sword was out.  Duncan dropped it near the corpse of the man who had placed it in Faldo’s chest.  Then he put the hand cannon to the young girls forehead.

 

“You have a chance to repent for your crimes against humanity.”  Duncan said to her, his voice cold and convicting.

 

“Duncan!”  Snow shouted.”  She’s not a day walker, smell her.

 

“Oh yes she is.  Get a closer smell, maybe you can pick it up through all that perfume, what did you do, put it on with a ladle?”  He said, he was breathing hard, his fingers closing on the trigger.

 

“Please, I didn’t do anything, he was going to kill us both, he went mad, please!”  The girl pleaded while sobbing, keeping her eyes on Duncan.

 

“Duncan, she’s an innocent!  Back off!”  Snow bellowed at him, her face was worried. 

 

He was going to kill the girl if she couldn’t talk him down.  Snow moved in and sniffed the girl good, she didn’t pick up anything that gave away her being a day walker.  Maybe the job was too much for Duncan.

 

“Please, I have a baby, don’t kill me Dalton went insane, he hated Faldo for some reason, don’t shoot please!”  The girl cried.

 

Duncan shoved the girl back against the counter behind the salon chair.  “How old is your baby?”  He asked.

 

“Three months.”  The girl replied in a crying voice.

 

“Natural or C-section?”  Duncan continued.

 

The girl looked quickly over to the others then back to Duncan.

 

“C-section.”  She answered.

 

Duncan still had the gun at the girls forehead, he reached down and ripped her shirt open, he kept pulling until the garment was completely off the girl, leaving her exposed from the waist up in only her bra.

 

“Man, you sure got back into shape fast, look at that taunt belly, and no stretch marks, someone as small as you carried a kid and gave birth without stretch marks?  And where is that scar from the C-section?”  Duncan  asked.  He pulled the trigger.  Discussion over.

 

“DUNCAN!”  Snow screamed as loud as her lungs would let her.

 

“She was a frelling day walker, I’m sure of it, I don’t care what you can’t smell!”  He yelled back.

 

Snow’s face was in horror.  She couldn’t believe what Duncan had just done.  She would have to pull him from the operation now, he killed an innocent.  He accepted werewolf law, he would be judged for this.

 

“Look, when I came to the door this bitch was leaning up against her chair here, she had a cigarette up to her lips and was getting ready to light it, she only started screaming when I came in, what does that tell you Snow?”  Duncan charged at her.

 

A sour smell was coming from the girl now, Mud moved forward and sniffed the girls brains.

 

“Lady Sadness, he’s right, come here, sniff.”  Mud said.

 

Snow moved to the remains of the girls head and sniffed.  She backed away confused.  “Scent neutralizer, she must have been using one, vampires and day walkers have never used one before, their scent was always to strong for it to work.”

 

“That would be the reason for all the perfume too.”  Duncan added.

 

Having recovered enough to talk, Faldo offered his insight.  “He’s right, they both smelled the place up with her perfume and his cologne.”  He stated.  “They started wearing it about a month ago, didn’t think too much of it since I couldn’t smell the taint in them, I checked, believe me I checked.”

 

Snow was looking at the floor, trying to sort the meaning and events out.  This was completely different from how the vampires and their servants had operated before.

 

Snow looked at Duncan, apology in her eyes.  “This doesn’t make any sense, why would they use a scent inhibitor now?  Something is very wrong, they are getting too close to our people.”  She hesitated a moment lowering her head.  “I’m sorry I doubted you, you were right.”  She said to him.

 

He reached for his phone then looked at the others.  “I don’t have my phone, neither does Snow, Max, call for help, we need to get this cleaned up fast, Mud, lock the door and turned sign to closed.  We don’t want customers walking into this.”  Duncan ordered.

 

“My phones on the charger, it was almost dead after last night.”  Max said.

 

“Same.”  Meadow stated.

 

“Mine too.”  Mud added before he could ask.

 

“Here, use mine.”  Faldo said, handing his phone to Duncan who passed it to Snow.

 

Max was looking at the wall behind where Duncan had shot the girl.  “You know, that kind of looks like a butterfly.”  He commented randomly looking at the spray of blood and brains on the wall.

 

Duncan turned back to him and looked at what he was seeing.  “Yeah, I can see that, but I can see a goblet in the middle, see where the clear spot widens near the top, then comes down to a narrow stem of the goblet.”  He mused.

 

“Sure, but, there is no base for the goblet, throws the image off.”  Max replied.

 

Snow had finished the call.  “Ok, help’s on the way, we are supposed to get Faldo out of here and to the medical unit.  And you two, standing there doing Rorschach  interpretations of a brain shot, really.”  Snow said scoffing her disgust.

 

Max went over and picked up Faldo who was still too weak to walk, Mud unlocked the door and followed Max outside.  Duncan was looking at the two bodies on the floor.  Snow walked up to him.

 

“Come on, we have to move.”  She said.  Duncan turned and went with her, she stopped looked over at the wall the two men had been observing.  “It’s clearly two people about to kiss, you can see the nose and lips of the two there, their faces are formed there.”  Snow said pointing out what she saw.  Duncan looked at her with a cocked eyebrow and laughed.  “Come on, you didn’t think I was serious?  They’re day walkers, frell them.”

 

Duncan looked to make sure the sign said ‘Closed’ then Max moved out carrying Faldo with the rest behind him, they were looking around as they moved back to the garage.  They were approaching an intersection when a van came fast, screeching its tires as it turn the corner. “Run!”  Duncan yelled.  They started to move fast.

 

Shots rang out from the van, a man was firing at them from a window.  Duncan saw Faldo hit in the back of the head as Max was running towards the garage.  Duncan pulled up his shirt to access the uniform under it and pulled his shotgun from its dimensional pocket. 

 

He charged into the street and fired at the man with the automatic rifle.  He held the trigger and the gun kept firing its rhythmic thunder. 

 

The man shooting at them was hit, the rounds opened most of his chest causing him to drop the rifle to the street.  Duncan kept the shotgun on the van as it sped away, the slugs ripped holes in the van as it left.  He didn’t release the trigger until the gun clicked empty.

 

“I want that rifle!”  Duncan yelled, Mud ran off to retrieve it, leaving a trail of blood as she went.

 

Snow was on the ground, Duncan ran to her.  Blood streamed from her chest.  She was still conscious and managed a comment.  Duncan took off his suit coat and used it to try and stop her bleeding.  He picked her up, the sound of an engine roaring towards them filled his ears. 

 

Duncan looked up thinking the van was returning for a second go at them.  Max slid the Suburban sideways near them and jumped out opening the back door as Mud returned holding the rifle.  Duncan climbed in the back holding Snow. 

 

Faldo was laying in the seat behind, alive but hurt bad.  The bullet had taken a chunk of the back of his head out, but the bullet had passed through.  He didn’t look to be hit any place else.

 

“You hit at all Max?”  Duncan asked as he held Snow’s head up and looked into her pained eyes.

 

“No boss, getting us to the nearest hospital we have people at.”  Max answered as he hammered the gas.

 

“Call us in.”  Snow said faintly as she reached into a pocket.  She pulled out the phone she had gotten from Faldo.

 

Duncan took the phone and looked at it.  He turned his head and looked out the window in thought.  “Take us to Stormhold, no questions, just drive us there as fast as you can.”

 

Max looked back with a questioning concerned look.  He returned his eyes to the road without asking anything, reached over and turned on the emergency lights on the vehicle and stomped the accelerator.  Fifteen hundred ponies screamed alive.

 

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The ride was rough, the Suburban left the road over several small hills in the road, Max didn’t let up any.  When they were near the Stormhold building Duncan told Max to ram the gate in the back and pull into the back of the building, if the garage door was down, make it a drive through. 

 

The gate blew apart when the Suburban passed through it, the garage door was opening when they pulled to it.  Max paused long enough to let it open far enough for the Suburban to fit under, then he went onto the elevator area and lowered them down to the medical floor.

 

Duncan stuck around until he was told Snow was doing good, all the silver had been removed from her body and she was resting.  He stopped by to visit her quick then left to go to the operations floor. 

 

He pulled out the hard drive he had gotten from Beth the Seeker and started working again, this time he was digging into different areas, looking more on recent events and data from the private network the werewolves had.  He had worked about an hour when he went to an office and used the phone inside to call Night Harvest.

 

Duncan had returned to the rooms he and Snow shared as office space and was working a couple hours, trying to connect more dots, when Snow showed up.  She was almost fully regenerated now, and was carrying the rifle from the attack.

 

“You wanted this hardware?”  She asked, holding it by the barrel between her thumb and index finger, not wanting to touch it.

 

“Yeah, hand it here.”  Duncan said, she gladly relinquished the weapon to him. 

 

He pulled the clip out, then pulled the breach open and let the round inside fall to his desk.  He ensured the weapon was clear then got up from his chair and placed it in a corner of the room.  He went back to his desk and sat down.  Taking up the clip he removed the remaining shells from it, there were eight left, he had nine in total and started inspecting them.  He took one of the shells and left the room.  Snow followed.

 

Duncan went down to a workshop.  Inside he made his way to the large lighted magnifying light at one of the stations.  He moved the shell around and inspected every part of it from end to end of the sides and the actual end of the round. 

 

The bullet part of the round was highly polished and came to a sharp point.  Duncan asked for some tools and removed the bullet from the shell casing.  He then inspected the end of the bullet that had been inside the casing.  This part was also polished.

 

Duncan turned to Snow.  “Did the mop-up crew get the sword that was used on Faldo?”  He asked her.

 

“I would assume so, want me to find out for sure?”  Snow asked, even though she assumed he would want her too.

 

“Yes, I want that sword up here.”  Duncan said to her, his mind was someplace else, his eyes distant.  Another dot.  “Excuse me, you have a cutting torch in this jungle of yours?”  He asked the person who worked in the shop he had overran.

 

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Snow left the workshop and made her way down to where the crews stored anything they recovered.  There was a man in an open window of a small office that had the storage area behind it. “Excuse me.”  She said to the man working the window.

 

“Yes Lady Sadness.”  He responded to her.

 

“Did the mop-up team that cleaned up at Faldo’s shop turn in a sword, a werewolf slayer, the one that was used on Faldo?”  She asked.

 

The man blinked at her.  “Yes, it’s in here.”  The man answered.  It was clear he didn’t like the fact that the weapon was in his storage, and that Snow was asking about it.  “It will be destroyed tomorrow.”

 

“No, it won’t, I want you to get it for me.”  Snow informed the man.

 

He blinked some more at her, his face had a look of disbelief, he was wondering what a werewolf would want with such a weapon. “You, want the slayer?”  He asked.

 

“Yes, my partner wants it for research.  Get it now, please.”  Snow commanded.  She understood his attitude about such a weapon, thus gave the explanation.

 

The storage attendant nodded to her, then reluctantly went to a locker in the room behind him.  Weapons such as this were usually destroyed, not so much to prevent their use again against werewolves, more about the fact that they simply did not like having silver near them.  Just like a human wouldn’t want to keep a vial of black plague on their desk, werewolves didn’t like having the main item of their demise in their house.

 

The man put on thick gloves and reached into the locker, pulling the sword out.  He placed it on a counter then went to a cupboard on the wall and took out a heavy blanket.  He spread the blanket out and then laid the werewolf slayer on it and wrapped the blanket firmly around it.  He opened a drawer and removed several short cords and tied the blanket tightly, then brought it to Snow.

 

“I hope you find something, useful from this.”  The man said with a grave tone.

 

“Me too.”  Snow said as she took the length of silver from the man.

 

Snow walked back into the workshop and handed the tied blanket to Duncan. “Here’s your . . the sword.”  She said.  “Kevashka wants the team for the meeting now, since everyone is out and alright.”  She further informed Duncan. 

 

She glanced around at the bench he was at.  “So, unless you have to do whatever it is you are going to do to that frelling thing, get to the tactical room.”  Snow’s voice had taken on an angry edge, not at Duncan specifically, she just didn’t see the relevance of the sword, nor liked the fact that it would be in the area while Duncan worked with it.

 

The man who worked in the workshop was looking over at them while they talked.  He walked to where Duncan had laid the blanket with the sword inside.  He leaned over so his face was about an inch from the wrapped up blanket and sniffed. 

 

He pulled back from it and walked backwards away from it, giving Duncan a look.  He clearly did not want what he identified in his shop, but he didn’t say anything about that to him. 

 

Duncan took in the look and understood it, he wasn’t pleased about having it either, but he was the only member of the team and crew that would be able to work with it, he hoped they would understand that.  Duncan followed Snow as she left to go to meet with Kevashka.

 

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The entire team was there, including Julia who stayed behind instead of going back out on recon work.  Kevashka had her usual mean look, only there was a pissed off attitude behind it and a look of angst.  She was pacing back and forth behind the table at the front of the room that served as her tactical briefing area.  Once she saw everyone was in and seated she stopped.

 

“First, glad you assholes survived, this operation is frelled beyond anything I have ever had the misfortune of working with.”  She began, putting her knuckles on the table and leaning forward at them. 

 

“Twenty one humans died in your fiasco last night, I will not tolerate that kind of slaughter.  Nine of those dead were by our own members, unacceptable!”  She screamed.  “We are going back to standard strategies, Sadness, if I have to I will contact Lord Mort on this for his support.” 

 

“Kevashka, they made us before we even entered, I’m sure of it, they opened fire on the crowd inside, you know how bad we were shot up, this is something totally different for vampires, they have never been armed like this!”  Snow responded.

 

“We are going back to engaging them out in the open, away from humans, as much as possible, not in clubs and bars where we are basically guaranteed to involve them, this has always been our strategies before, we are going back to that!”  Kevashka told Snow with force.

 

Duncan took the floor.  “Kevashka, I appreciate your concern for keeping my kind out of the mix, but collateral damage is going to happen.  This battle has taken a turn that has never happened before, we have to keep on as Sadness directed us.  If we don’t, if we fail to engage the targets where they hide, we will be ineffective.”

 

“Unacceptable, Sadness may be in command, but I am the tactician here, I will not be part of operations that put so many humans in the line of fire!”  Kevashka yelled back.

 

The others were observing, Max, Meadow, Mud, Noktok and Shelma had no intention of getting involved in this argument.  Julia saw the logic behind Snow’s logic, she was looking at the operation from the right perspective. 

 

The recent events amplified how much they needed to keep pressing on and attacking where the servants of the darkness were in hiding, if they only kept to the streets, they would only be able to touch a small percentage of their forces, leaving the werewolves far out numbered.

 

Julia stood to address Kevashka.  “Sadness has the right idea, your strategies are good, but we need to modify out techniques.  We must press into their holds, cut down their numbers, if we don’t, what are our chances when they come out in force?  If anything Kevashka, we need to step up our attacks and increase our numbers on each force, move in raid levels.”  Julia said with conviction. 

 

Duncan took his turn.  “Kevashka, which is better, to loose two hundred million humans, or three to four billion?  How many will we lose if the darkness crosses over?  Half the population of our world?  How many werewolves will be left to fight against the darkness?  Look at the numbers we have lost so far.”

 

Kevashka’s eyes moved around the table as she listened and considered what he said.

 

“You need to grab your spice weasel and knock things up a few notches, not back down. This is war, casualties happen, innocents die, that’s part of war, it’s in your own history.  In times before, early in the fourteen hundreds many humans died as a result of battles, but thousands were saved. It’s not pretty, but it is a necessary evil to keep the majority safe.”  Duncan looked at Snow, her face agreed with him.

 

He went on.  “You are an excellent strategist, but if you are unwilling to provide tactics for our mission the way Sadness deems we need to proceed, then I’m afraid she will have to request you be replaced, by werewolf law.”  said he finished, wanting to keep Kevashka’s hate on him instead of Snow.

 

Kevashka was staring at Duncan now, her face looked as though it might explode.  Her eyes moved down to the table again.  Her body shook as she looked around the table in thought.  She lifted herself from the table and turned to one side,  She spit on the floor then turned to the wall behind her and started screaming and pounding the wall, letting her frustrations out. 

 

When she turned back to face the team her face was red, slobber dripped from her flared lips that exposed the front of her teeth.  Her face showed that she understood what she had heard, and though she was against what she heard, she accepted the facts and knew they were right.  A good strategist listens to her people from the field and adapts to situations with information provided, and Kevashka was far better than good.

 

“So, are you with us.....”  Snow started, not finishing what she had intended to say, which was to follow with ‘or am I calling for a replacement’.  She wanted Kevashka in.

 

Kevashka looked down and screamed at the table again, spit flew from her wailing mouth.  She wiped her mouth as she looked up.  She breathed deep for a few seconds collecting herself.  Her face calmed some.  “I’m in, always will be with you Lady Sadness.”  She said in a softer voice, though the anger that came through was to the situation, not the team.

 

Kevashka came from behind the table to where the team was, they moved up to where she had a model set up of area their crews were working and they started discussing what went wrong and why and taking turns informing the others of what they saw and thought.

 

They started talking about where the crews had been hit, about what had been reported, how ambushes happened.  Kevashka unrolled a map and clipped it to the wall and started pointing out where other crews had been hit, looking for some sort of common link related to where covens had businesses or holds. 

 

Duncan moved to a computer and started pulling up files.  He was looking at the field reports that were filed for the last several months.  After reading for a bit, flipping through and glancing over them, he returned to the map.  The others had looked over when he left but for the most part hadn’t paid much attention to him.

 

“Do we have couriers?”  Duncan asked Kevashka suddenly.

 

Kevashka was caught off guard by the question, she wasn’t quite sure what he was looking for.

 

“Yes, we do.”  Kevashka was going to pry into what Duncan wanted more, then decided she wouldn’t, but finally decided she would.  “Do you need something brought someplace?”

 

“I need a courier to take a message, across the water.”  Duncan said then walked out of the room before anyone could say anything more to him.

 

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Duncan pulled out the hard drive again, hooked it up and pulled up his notes and filled the monitors with files from the drive and the network.  He dug into reports and accounts of events again, from the past few months. 

 

He also dug into past records, as far back as the nineteen hundreds.  Some of the dots were starting to connect.  He was so intent on what he was working on he didn’t hear Snow come in and was unaware she was standing next to him.

 

Snow called Duncan’s name, he didn’t seem to hear her.  She called again, a bit louder.  After she tried a third time she went up and put a hand on his shoulder and shook it.

 

“What?  Oh, hi Snow, what do you need?”  Duncan said, only looking at her for a second then back to the monitors and his notes.

 

“What do you need a courier across the water for?  You left rather abruptly, something wrong?”  She asked, concerned.  Duncan had been digging relentlessly the past several weeks, there seemed to be no sense to the information he was looking at that Snow could see, but she could see now he was on to something, but was he ready to talk about it.

 

“I need a letter taken to Night Harvest directly.”  Duncan said absent mindedly.  He was still lost in his research.

 

Snow had a puzzled look on her face.  “Can’t you just call him if it’s that important?  Or send an email?  Fax or something?”  She asked trying to be helpful.

 

“Get me a courier.”  Duncan said in a stone cold set in concrete, nothing else will do voice. 

 

It was plain he wouldn’t accept any solution other than a direct courier to deliver whatever message he wanted taken to Night Harvest.  This bothered Snow, Duncan had definitely figured something out, She’d come to know him well. 

 

He was a bloodhound on a scent now, he would not relent until he had connected all the dots he kept talking about.  Snow was worried about what he wasn’t talking about, and knew he wouldn’t talk until he was sure now.

 

Snow returned about ten minutes later, Duncan was pacing in the room.

 

“I have your courier here.”  She announced.

 

Duncan looked up and stopped.  He looked the man over.  “Does he have CIA credentials?”  He asked bluntly.

 

Snow looked at the man then back to Duncan, her expression said she was unaware he had wanted someone with that standing. 

 

“No, I didn’t know you wanted someone connected to human government, I can try and get someone.”  She informed him.

 

“No, no, I want someone who isn’t connected to any agency but ours.  No extra bullshit.”  Duncan said.

 

Snow nodded.  Duncan moved over to where the printer sat and picked up a sealed envelope that had a thick bond of paper and was security lined.  He handed the envelope to the man who reached out to take it, Duncan didn’t release his end of the envelope though, yet.

 

“Now, I want you to take this to Night Harvest directly. You are only to give it to him, not an aid, not a staff member, no one but Night Harvest himself. You are to put it in his hands only.  You keep this letter on your person, you don’t set it down, put it on the seat of the car, nothing, you put it in your vest pocket it and keep it there.  Understood?”  Duncan instructed the man and confirmed his instructions were understood.

 

“Understood Sir Galt.”  The man responded.

 

Duncan released his end of the envelope and the man did as he instructed.

 

“Good, I have made arrangements for you, a private jet is waiting for you, here are the directions and instructions.  You are to talk to no one from now until after you place this letter in Night Harvest’s hands.”  Duncan said.  He handed the man a standard business sized envelope with the travel instructions in it.

 

“After you get to the airport, burn that information, leave no trail, got it?”  Duncan said.  He could see the curiosity building in Snow’s face.

 

“Yes sir.”  The man responded.  He opened the envelope and read the information.  He nodded, took the paper and curled up.  “I know what to do, you want me to burn it now or will you destroy it for me?”  He asked.

 

“You’re sure?”  Duncan asked.

 

“Absolutely sir, this is what I do, I never leave any loose ends or a trail.”  He assured him.

 

Duncan took the paper from him.  “Get going.”  He told the courier who left immediately.

 

Snow moved in front of Duncan and looked up at him.  “Are you going to come back to the meeting, or do you still need to work here?”  She asked him.

 

He looked over at his monitors.  He stared at them for a good minute while Snow stood waiting for him to decide.  His lips were pressed together hard as he thought, weighing the importance of continuing against being part of the planning session.  “I need to step away from this for a bit, I’ll go with you.”  He said.

 

Snow led the way as the two of them returned to Kevashka and the team.  Kevashka looked up from where the team was, her eyes focused on Duncan for a moment, then she returned her attention to the map she had in front of the team.

 

Kevashka’s plan entailed the command team staying out of the streets, they would be working from the building helping her coordinate the movements of the teams and funneling information from the teams to where it needed to go. 

 

They would be watching the movements of each team member and working with them to best position them for the operations and to help try and keep them out of the line of fire.  She wanted more focused attacks, she wanted teams closer together to back each other up, not getting separated as had been happening. 

 

She felt the vampires had been trying to break the teams up, get them to follow the vampire’s lead so they were easier to take out.  She used Snow as an example, how she had taken after the coven leader, and how those who came to help her were sidetracked by other vampires along the way, and day walkers, such as was with Duncan. 

 

When she mentioned this, Duncan turned away from the group, moved away and stated pacing.  Kevashka had started him thinking again.  The two day walkers had jumped out at him.  They did prevent him from following Snow, mostly because he had let them. 

 

He knew what they were, he could have just cut them down and moved on.  Back with the agency, he would have done just that, but he was operating under werewolf rules now.  Doing things the way he was told by the werewolf trainers they were to be done.

 

“I want all the teams to have everything they need ahead of time, like scent neutralizer and human scent.”  Duncan heard Snow saying, she was taking issue with Kevashka not issuing human scent before her team went into the field.

 

Kevashka’s face crunched, she looked puzzled.  “How do you mean?  The teams are stocked with everything they need before they head out.”  She said not following what Snow was getting at.

 

“No, we didn’t have everything we needed, I had to have Duncan... scent me before I went to the club where the coven leader was.”  Snow said.

 

Kevashka looked even more confused.  “What do you mean?  I don’t understand, why didn’t you use the human scent provided?”  She questioned back.

 

“I wasn’t provided any, I only had scent neutralizer, no human scent.  No extra holy water was provided, only what I had on me.  We always get those things before we move out on a mission.”  Snow chastised.

 

“You mean they weren’t in the trunk of the car or in the back of the vans and Suburbans?”  Kevashka asked, wondering if her people had messed up, her voice taking on an additional angry tone.

 

“In the vehicles?”  Snow said, her own face showing confusion.  “Why would they be there?  Teams are given these supplies as they head out so they have them when they need them.” 

 

Kevashka started shaking her head, her face was mixed between disbelief and animosity.  “Stateside clans.”  She started.  “Across the water we keep our vehicles stocked at all times with what you are asking about, we don’t expect our people to come asking for them, they are necessary for the job, I had every vehicle stocked with extra supplies.  Did you even check in the bags in the back?”  She asked looking at Snow with anger.

 

Snow had a look of realization.  She had seen the bags in both the sedan and in the Suburban, she had never looked to see what was in them, none of the team had.  Stateside clans never stocked their vehicles, everything was always handed to you as you needed it.  The two women looked at each other, realizing what had happened. 

 

The teams were operating the way they were used to, no one had considered going over the different standard operating procedures between the stateside clans and the overseas clans, making sure both understood how the other managed teams and resources. 

 

More attention would have to be given to communicating how each operated, finding the differences and working the details out.

 

Finally the meeting ended.  Kevashka had worked out new strategies that would involve more direct attacks and stronger forces by grouping teams together and closer.  The recon members would work closer with the teams giving them direct input instead of only advanced recon information, they would stay and keep a constant flow coming in of their observations. 

 

Snow and Duncan, along with the rest of the team, went to their rooms to rest before the operations began that night. 

 

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Kevashka was explaining the command network tracking system on the computer and how to utilize it to Duncan.

 

“The blue dots are the recon members, or lookouts now, red dots are our crew members, numbers in or by the dots indicate which team they are.  Green dots are the second crew.  If you hover over a dot with your curser, that will give you the team members name and location by number, accurate within a few inches.”

 

She moved the mouse around to demonstrate.  “Each members exact map location can be zoomed in for greater accuracy, you will be able to tell right where they are standing in relationship to their surroundings, what shop they are in front of, zooming out will let you see more of the teams location and street names.”  The others had already been trained on the system. 

 

“Now we only have five total recon members, Sea Mist and Blade Dance will be set up to try and handle any vampires that try and get away, but they will relay positioning and any other information they can.”  She continued while Duncan worked with the system a bit.

 

“Our recon unit will try and tag movement from vampires so we can track them, unfortunately, that only will last as long as we have them on track, we lose the movement, we loose the tag.”  Kevashka informed the rest of the team.  Then she called Julia to the front.

 

Julia’s face said she had bad news.  There had been a lot of that recently.

 

“The clubs we hit are back in full operation, even the two day walkers Snow and Duncan identified at the strip club have a new master, we now know when a coven leader is taken out, a new one can take over the former’s day walkers, if they act quick enough.”

 

She looked around the room for a moment.  “This time period varies on the longevity the day walker has been in service, the longer they have been with their master, the stronger the addiction, that means they need to be picked up quick.  Day walkers only last about ten years, we figure the dancers Snow and Duncan sniffed out have been in use for about five years, so they were picked up right away.”  Julia explained.  She was clearly agitated by this, and that their effort seemed to be in vain.

 

There was a hint of sadness on her face when she continued.  “Despite Sadness taking out the coven leader, it appears there was no break in their operations, the club is still open, Blade Dance was able to confirm that the dancers have a new scent, that means a new coven leader stepped in right away.

 

Julia looked over at Kevashka for a moment, then back to the command team, her eyes were heavy.  “Killing the coven leader we estimate took out close to three hundred vampires, unfortunately, an entire new crew of vampires is already in place even at the basement club where we lost innocents at.”

 

There were angry whispers and gestures from the people in the room.  If they moved on the new coven leader, it would mean a possible repeat of the slaughter of humans.  The loss of their own people also weighed heavy if they fought in the basement again. 

 

The thought that ran through Duncan’s mind thinking about this was a line from Quentin Tarantino’s movie ‘Inglourious Basterds’ regarding a rendezvous in a basement: “Yeah, in a basement.  You know, fightin’ in a basement offers a lot of difficulties.  Number one being, your fightin’ in a basement!” 

 

Right now, Duncan couldn’t agree with Lt. Aldo Raine more.  Fighting again in that basement, not something they wanted to repeat.  And they couldn’t count on the coven leader coming up again as the other one had.

 

Duncan proposed an alternative, the one they really needed was the coven leader, Kevashka and the others agreed, but as he had already assumed, him coming to the surface after his predecessor had when Mud passed was a highly unlikely duplication. 

 

Duncan had a plan to make him leave the club, before the heat was turned on.  To their advantage, they didn’t know what Blade Dance did, he was a touch of old school tactics, his profession may exist across the water, but in the colonies, he was the last remaining prodigy of his breed. 

 

When Duncan finished his dissertation of what he was thinking, Kevashka slapped his face and brought a knee up, just missing the family jewels, along with several slurs against his lineage and comments about the appearance of his face.  Duncan’s idea’s were apparently very good in her mind.  She said she would implement them tonight. 

 

“Aye, okay, time to assemble the teams and brief them, time is getting short, we’re burning dark!”  Kevashka shouted, ending their think tank session.

 

Everyone filed out of the room.  The crews were starting to come to the main area.  Kevashka took center stage and was yelling for every ‘Mangy, flea bitten pile of yak vomit’ to hurry up and get their ass in a chair, shut up and listen.  Once everyone was seated and quiet, Kevashka went over the changes to the techniques they would be using. 

 

There were some confused and concerned looks and whispers from the teams.  Concerns regarding human casualties from the more invasive strategies were aired by several team leaders.  Kevashka relayed what Duncan had said about war and casualties, the collateral damage factor.  How high the stakes were was also iterated.  Kevashka called on Duncan to go over the strategy regarding the club, since it was his.

 

Duncan took to center stage.  “Now, from our last excursion into the club, we learned the previous coven leader didn’t like the options left him by fighting in a basement, therefore he had his people bust through the back wall of a hidden room and cut a tunnel to the storm sewer creating an exit under the sidewalk through a grate above.”

 

“The new coven leader is sure to know of this, and is probably intending to use it as a means of escape or to use it to try and separate or ambush our people, therefore, we will be covering this exit, and may also use it to our advantage to enter from instead of just the front.  That is the second case scenario.”  He explained. 

 

“Our main goal it to somehow have the coven leader know that we are aware of this tunnel, before we begin our attack, we are going to set up like we did the first time, have one of our people make contact if there are vampires on the street as before, if not, we will improvise tipping them off so they start looking for our people.” 

 

“What we want is the coven leader to get spooked and leave the club, show himself on the street, try and get out before we attack, we will have to make it look like we are going to hit in force, he will sacrifice his people for his own safety.”  Duncan finished and looked to the crew in front of him.

 

There were nods of understanding.  Coven leaders always cut out if things looked like they were going to go bad for them.  Duncan’s plan counted on this in order to work. 

 

Reading their faces he went on.  “You also cannot allow yourself to be distracted by others that come into your path, if you encounter a day walker, cut it down, don’t waist your time with it, kill it and keep moving.”  Duncan said, causing Kevashka to pull him aside to confer.

 

“Duncan, we always give a day walker a chance to repent, it’s how we do things.”  She said.  “We must try and salvage the soul, keep it from the darkness.”

 

Duncan shook his head at her with a frown.  “You don’t have to, you offer the choice, because you want to, there is no werewolf law that say you have to do this, by rights, they have already chosen.  If they want to repent, they have the option of saying so to us, as much as we have to offer the chance to them, we are not required to do so, it’s just become SOP.”

 

Kevashka looked away.  Duncan could see she knew what he had said was true.  Times had changed.  Just a few hundred years ago, werewolves did just as Duncan had said, though they wouldn’t speak of the times now.  They had taken to trying to save as many souls as they could, the clans of the colonies always had.  Most of the werewolves here knew no other way. 

 

Kevashka looked back to Duncan, nodding.  Her eyes were far off, she was seeing things from a past time in another world.  He knew where she had gone.  She had understood why he wanted his crew not to extend sympathy to humans who had already sided with the enemy. 

 

The softer approach they had adopted needed to be abandoned, their main objective had to be Alexander.  Dealing with an old enemy required old world strategies. 

 

Kevashka came forward and addressed the teams again.  “Don’t hesitate, don’t allow yourselves to become scattered, lead vampires to the main force, pass them by make them follow you.  If you need to take werewolf form to do so, do it.  Regardless if humans see you or not.” 

 

She looked back to Duncan again for a moment, he was right.  “If day walkers get in your way, unless they specifically beg you to repent, dispense of them and keep moving.  On the off chance you do get a repentant, have them drink, then send them to peace.”

 

The room murmured, the crew was shocked by what they just heard.  The stateside members seemed the most offset by this revelation.

 

Kevashka continued.  “You may be thinking this sounds like our ways from a more barbaric time, you may be thinking we are returning to a more barbaric way, let me assure you, we are.  We have no time for following that which is only custom, we will operate strictly by the rules, those that we are bound by the Light to follow, and only those rules.”  The murmurs stopped. 

 

All eyes were on her now.  “The darkness is a very old and barbaric thing, we cannot afford to be weak, that is why we are going to function from our history, we must use what we know has led to victory, nothing else will work, we must learn from our history.”  Kevashka finished and walked from the front.

 

Max stood and addressed the room.  “Everyone knows what we are up against, you know the changes from the tactician, move out, we only have a short time before nightfall, get to your vehicles and get to your positions!”  He yelled. 

 

The teams started moving out of the open work area, heading off as Max ordered.  Once their crew was out, the command team moved to the operations command center and started preparing for the nights battles.

 

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The main part of the team that would be staging near the basement club where they were assuming the coven leader would be, as had been the case with his predecessor.  Julia and Sea Mist were observing the club trying to verify the coven leaders presence. 

 

Again there were two vampires working the sidewalk.  There was no day walker with them this time.  Julia confirmed that these two also were armed with handguns as the others had been.  More silver they’d have to deal with.

 

Sea Mist was sent in to see what the vampires were doing, Max was observing her movements from his display.  Duncan worked beside him while Kevashka and Snow watched over everyone’s shoulders and took reports from the rest of their teams and the other crew. 

 

Most of the teams from both crews were reporting heavy resistance, they were being hit hard.  Most had members that had to leave the front to seek medical attention at nearby hospitals that had werewolf medical staff present.

 

“Redirect and proceed with your secondary plan.”  Kevashka had ordered four of the teams that were working together, moving them to an alternative target that she had included when she sent out the strategies to them via their smart phones.  The command team watched on their monitors as the teams regrouped and moved in on their secondary targets. 

 

Duncan watched Sea Mist’s position on the monitor and zoomed in for exact location.  He had equipped her with the radio set up Malkah had designed, she keyed open the pickup when she neared the location of the two vampires outside of the stairs down to the club. 

 

He heard them telling other passersby about an after hours party, the same plan the other coven leader had used.  Apparently this plan was established from above the individual coven leaders and implemented for more than one club.  Other teams supported this theory as they reported similar activities. 

 

When the dot indicating Sea Mist moved to right by the stairs down indicated on the map, the vampires took interest in her.

 

“Hey young thing, you like to party till dawns early light?”  A voice said over the radio. 

 

“You defiantly should come downstairs and get started now, and stay till the end.” Another voice said.

 

“Bring your friends, we have a special party for everyone tonight.”  One of the voices said.

 

“Yeah, definitely bring your friends, they wont want to miss the fun tonight.”  The first voice encouraged. 

 

“Why don’t you let me show you to a table now?  The band is just getting started, I’ll even buy you your first drink, set you up with a tab, come on down.”  One of the vampires offered. 

 

They were taking a special interest in Sea Mist, Duncan didn’t think it was because they thought she was hot.  They knew what she was.  They knew she had ‘friends’ nearby. 

 

He keyed his radio.  “Tell them you’ll be back, move out, get the hell out of there now!”  Duncan ordered her. 

 

He watched as her dot stayed put for a few more seconds, and listened as she said she had shopping to do before she went out to party, but she assured them she would be coming back, in about half an hour.  Werewolves can't lie, she would be coming back in about half an hour, back to her hidden location.  Perspective played a lot in werewolf answers. 

 

They all were experts in dodging direct answers, responding in truth without committing to anything.  Verbal slight of hand.  How questions were asked was important, and incorporating the answers to ask new questions.  If a werewolf was covering something, you would have to dig for the full disclosure. 

 

Sea Mist handled the vampires well.  She moved off down the street, stopped to buy a copy of the local news paper that Julia had asked for, that was her shopping she had to do, then she met up with the ride that would bring her back around to where Julia was.

 

Snow called for the rest of the teams that would be covering the club to move into position.  Two teams covered the secret exit to the club.  Two members of the teams moved to the grate.  They used a long camera cable to look into the hole below and into the tunnel.  It was clear.  Then they moved down and into the tunnel about half way.  The man and woman then both urinated in the tunnel to provide werewolf scent. 

 

Urine was a good source of scent, which is why they used human urine to make human scent that the teams wore.  This would soon work its way into the back room and give the appearance of werewolf presence in the tunnel, letting the vampires in the club know that the tunnel was covered.  Once the scent was placed, the two moved out, and rejoined the teams hidden covering both directions the alley went.

 

The other crew was reporting that as they countered the vampires movements, they countered back, they were unable to make any progress with the alternative plan either.  Every time they moved, the vampires seemed to move also, cutting them off and reengaging them. 

 

They had taken heavy fire.  Some of the team members hit before had returned, while others had to leave to be treated.  A disturbing report of two members dying in the hospital came in, and their mates going to be with them from the field.  The two that died in the hospital weren’t hit that hard and should’ve been able to return.

 

Duncan called Kevashka over. “Tell them to move to plan C.”  He told her to tell the other crew.

 

Kevashka gave him a puzzled look.  “I never gave them a plan C, I don’t have one plotted.”

 

“I gave them one, tell them to use plan C, they will know what you mean.”  Duncan informed Kevashka and assured her. 

 

It was easy to read on her face that Kevashka did not like the fact that Duncan had provided yet another alternative plan, especially without consulting her on it.  But she also understood the crew was on the losing end of the fight.  She knew Duncan wouldn’t do anything that would deliberately endanger the crew and its teams.  He was a pretty good strategist himself.  She relented and sent out the order.

 

Dots started converging on the club that Julia and Sea Mist had covered.  The entire crew was moving in.  Julia had reported that one of the vampires had pulled out a phone and it looked like he sent a text to someone after Sea Mist had passed by.  She figured he was notifying the coven leader inside of werewolf presence. 

 

Sea Mist had returned to her location after bringing the paper to Julia.  Now that the teams were moving in fast as Kevashka and Duncan had worked out, they were hoping to see some activity from the club.  Julia felt this was more of Duncan’s planning then Kevashka’s. 

 

He’d said he wanted to keep the other teams as well as the main team back from the club until he was ready to have them move. He wanted two stages of movement.

 

Duncan’s logic seemed to be sound and the plan had the desired affect.  Before the teams arrived, a well dressed man exited the club. He was walking at a fast pace with car keys in hand.  The coven leader was apparently making a break for it from the front since the tunnel stank of werewolf.  He was leaving his slaves to die while he left. 

 

What he did not know, Duncan had counted on this, was that a ballista operator and archer were ready for him.  Blade Dance cut loose his porcupine, which looked like an oversized crossbow that fired a large number of bolts at one time.  This one would fire either horizontally, or vertically.  He had the weapon vertical to focus on a single target. 

 

He had incorporated modern technology in his design, that of a modified laser sighting mechanism.  Between that and wind speed and direction apps on his wrist terminal that aided with the sighting his aim was true.  He turned a crank that would make the bolts fire in a tighter pattern to the center. 

 

The coven leader was turned into a pincushion with wooden bolts that had been cured in holy water.  There would be no after party at the club tonight.  The two vampires manning the sidewalk disappeared in a flash of light shortly after the coven leader got wood.

 

Humans poured out of the club, there had been explosions from inside.  The teams at the back of the club stormed the grate in the alley and followed the tunnel into the club while Sea Mist, Blade Dance and the others converged from the front.  The found only one survivor in the club. 

 

She was back in the office area, she appeared to be dazed.  Sea Mist put her sword on the girl’s shoulder while Blade Dance took position with his at her back.  The rest of the teams exited the building and secured the front and back as a fog rolled down the stairs.

 

“Move to where crew two is and assist them for now.  We will see what develops over the next couple days here.”  Kevashka ordered the crew at the club. 

 

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The two crews had a moderate success.  Though the vampires still seemed to counter their maneuvers too well, they did seem to pull out a victory and take out two coven leaders as well as quite a few other vampire hunting parties.  Though on the grand scope, it was still too little.  What they had accomplished with two crews, should have been able to be done with two to three teams.  They were progressing very slowly.

 

They proceeded with this strategy for the next week, though their success was quite limited, their foes seemed to adapt well to the new techniques.  Duncan sent out two more couriers, this time one to Lord Mort and the other to the Supreme Bishop of Clans. 

 

One returned with a USB drive, while the other with a package containing an old book.  Duncan was spending his time in his ‘dot hunting’, still trying to find lines to connect them when he wasn’t in the operations room helping with managing the crews. 

 

They had their largest battles during the weekend.  But the price was high.  Though they did manage to strike down a larger, higher ranking coven leader, all in all they were now down about a third of their forces.  Several dying in the hospital after having what was described as mild wounds that were not life threatening. 

 

Duncan asked Snow to order all medical personnel out of the hospitals and have all team members taken to clan facilities for care.  She had started to fight him on this, but stopped.  She felt something inside, something from his scent that made her change her mind.  She had to learn to trust his judgment, even against Kevashka’s. 

 

Clan Westbridge along with Snow’s father committed their hunters to reinforce their teams from the losses they had.  Many of the other clans didn’t have the resources to help, they were having their losses too.  Currently the war was not going well anywhere. 

 

Even across the water the death tolls were rising.  Alexander had prepared his slaves well, the werewolves were having a hard time making any progress, and when they did, the vampires seemed to fill in any gap left by their success instantly. 

 

Snow had asked Duncan about the sword, not so much out of interest, but rather that she wanted it destroyed.  She had seen him in a workshop with it, the support member who worked in the area Duncan was in with the sword had left to work elsewhere, himself not wanting to be in the presence of the sword.

 

“Well, you saw the werewolf slayer I had at the house, now look at this one.”  Duncan said to her. 

 

Snow looked the sword over, aside from the ornate carving on the one Duncan had used back at his house, she didn’t see much difference and said so much to Duncan.

 

“Pretty much it, this sword is new, it’s not fancy in any way.  The typical silver sword is only used by coven leaders and his top cronies, these aren’t given to every blood sucker out there.  The one used on you, for instance, not a new blade, very old and ornate, just like mine, as was the one you cut in half.”  Duncan explained.

 

“Okay, joy, now they aren’t bothering to put art behind killing us.”  Snow said with a heavy snide attitude about her. 

 

“Well, okay, you can’t make a silver sword out of pure silver, it would never hold up, the metal is soft.  It also has to be as pure as it can be, this sword, like the bullets are made from fine silver, not sterling or anything like that but fine silver which is ninety-nine percent pure.  And it can’t be an electroplating either, this sword is cast in silver.”  Duncan continued.

 

He pulled the blanket from the end of the sword exposing where he had used a torch on it.  The thick silver was melted away revealing the steel frame underneath.  He had melted away from the point of the sword up several inches where the main body of the steel support inside was.

 

“You see the point comes down, fully to the end of the silver blade, that is what keeps the point.  The steel is right to the end and was plated.  Only the point has silver plating on it, the rest is cast over a steel form to keep the silver blade from bending or breaking.”  He looked at Snow, he could see she wasn’t getting his point.

 

“This is not something you have done at any old silver plating shop. This would have to be done someplace that actually still casts silver, like in jewelry.  And I am suspecting this is being done in large numbers.”  Duncan ended looking to Snow to see if she was catching what he was driving at.

 

“The bullets themselves are polished, end to end, not like something you would have done at a munitions factory.  I think they are manufactured at the same place the swords are, the silver looks of the same quality.  The bullets are made, then taken to where they are put in the loaded casings.  They are just too fancy to have come from a munitions factory.  And the swords are hand crafted, though not fancy, still hand finished.”  Duncan added, seeing Snow’s face work as she considered what he told her.

 

She took a step back from the sword.  “I highly doubt the vampires have the facilities to work the metal like this.  Or the willingness.”  Snow replied still thinking.  “They could have a day walker, someone with access to the facilities to do this, but I don’t think so, too easy for us to spot a day walker, and our people would be watching for them.  I would hope they would notice if a large silversmith became a day walker.”  Snow pondered.

 

She looked up at Duncan.  “Though, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have a day walker make a deal with a human, keeping themselves out of sight.”  Snow analyzed, seeing what he was thinking.

 

He gave her a please smile.  “Exactly, your people may notice if a day walker was involved in this, but a normal human, they wouldn’t be watching as close unless there was some reason too.  A day walker who’s everyday life might involve interacting with someone who might work with silver, may not tip them off, they could go on unnoticed.”

 

Leaning back against the bench behind him he crossed his arms as he finished his thoughts.  “Someone who might interact with hundreds of such people.  They wouldn’t be looking for something on this scale.”  Duncan said, Snow nodded in agreement.  Vampires normally made deals for a few items from a local shop, not mass quantities.  This had changed though.

 

“And I take it that you’re digging into this, trying to connect some of those dots of yours to figure out the who.”  Snow stated in assumption.

 

“Right, that is part of what I got back from Mort, activity reports among other things.”  He informed her. 

 

Snow knew Duncan had made it known already what he was looking for, he would have others looking into this quietly, Mort would be the force behind that now that he knew what Duncan was thinking.

 

Duncan was looking in many different directions, Snow knew that, he didn’t want to throw up any red flags that weren’t warranted, that might cause trouble or tip off the vampires he had figured something out, causing them to change things up and make him start all over again. 

 

He was sending couriers directly to the top brass in their society.  Snow was sure, whatever he was hunting, it was critical.  Duncan wasn’t the type of person that would be bothering the nobles with trite things.

 

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It was Monday morning.  Snow and Duncan had gone to visit members of their crews still in the medical facilities at other clan dens.  Snow had wanted to keep her personal touch and see them directly, Duncan on the other hand, was there to try and connect dots.  His face had become frustrated after hearing from several of the wounded.  Snow knew by the look on his face, more dots. 

 

After they left they were walking to the van they had taken for the day when Duncan’s phone chimed, a text was received.  Snow looked over while he read it.  It was identified as coming from Beth the seeker, the message read ‘The heather is in bloom, you should come visit’. 

 

Snow assumed the message, though Beth had sent it, was not from her.  Duncan was communicating in code with someone.  Someone at the top, either Mort or Night Harvest.  She figured the latter.  Had she asked, Duncan would have told her she was right, but she said nothing.

 

They drove off in the van and met up with the rest of their team and Kevashka.  They had plans to go for ice cream and have a little relaxation for today. 

 

The vampires would be more reserved in their activities until Wednesday or Thursday night, as humans tended not to be out in force in the beginning of the work week.  Julia had told them of a creamery that hand made their own ice cream in the shop with fresh fruit in it.  The shop was in a nicer part of town and they all had agreed to check it out.

 

Noktok and Shelma were looking forward to having hand made ice cream for the first time.  They had only had it from a store.  Julia had raved about how good it was.  Max said he missed the soft serve yogurt machine, but this would suffice. 

 

They parked in front of the ice cream parlor on the street.  There was a wide variety of flavors displayed.  Mud watched as one of the employees used two flat scoops to work candies into a ball of ice cream for another customer. 

 

After they ordered and received their ice cream, they decided to sit out on the small patio the store had set up in front and eat.  It was a nice day and a nice stress reliever from the week. 

 

Snow was sitting in Duncan’s lap and offering him a sample of her mix in trade for a taste of his chocolate fudge with Bing cherry.  They were chatting idly as two kids on skateboards came rolling down the sidewalk. 

 

The wind came from the opposite direction.  Duncan tensed, Snow felt it.  She looked off at the kids, both set their ice creams down.  It looked as though they were going to pass, Snow relaxed slightly.

 

“Gun!”  Duncan yelled, the one closest to them opened fire, four shots fired hitting Kevashka directly in the chest, centered on her heart.  Snow flipped from Duncan’s lap as he pulled his Desert Eagle and cut loose on the closest kid, Snow’s blades whirled. 

 

The other kid’s head dropped in a straight fall as his body continued on powered by the skateboard.  Duncan rushed forward, the beheaded kid had dropped his smart phone, Duncan collected the phone, removed the back quickly and took out the battery. 

 

“Get the van open!”  Mud yelled as Noktok picked Kevashka up. 

 

Kevashka was spitting blood, gasping.  The shots were direct to her heart.  Max opened the side door of the van and Duncan followed Noktok in and helped lay Kevashka down in the back of the van, shoving the bags away.  Max got in the front and started the van, he slapped the light bar on the top and hit the emergency’s, backed up fast and headed off towards the Stormhold building.

 

“She’s not going to make it, we’re loosing her.”  Noktok yelled.

 

Duncan ripped her shirt open and pushed her bra up to expose her chest.  He grabbed one of the bags and dug though, finding a knife he cut the bra and then sliced the flesh across Kevashka’s chest where she was shot.

 

“Noktok, pull her ribs back, open her chest.”  Duncan instructed as he tapped his contacts on and brought up the scope vision.  He’d grabbed the radio pack when they left incase he wanted to use the scope.  He was thankful he had, it would make the slugs in her stand out.

 

Kevashka gasped and stopped breathing.  He eyes rolled back in her head.

 

“Open her chest now!”  Duncan shouted at Noktok who snapped to move

 

Noktok pushed his fingers into Kevashka’s ribs where Duncan had cut and pried them apart, Duncan looked into her chest, he heart wasn’t moving.  Using his scope vision he reached in and felt around, there had been four shots, he could see the slugs in her. 

 

He grabbed the first one, pulled his hand back and tossed the slug into the open duffel bag he got the knife from.  Reaching in again he pulled the second one, tossed it and grabbed number three.  Kevashka gave no signs of regenerating.  He reached in again and pulled the last slug out, he paused to look at it.  There was a piece missing.  He leaned in close.

 

“Get me a pliers, needle nose.”  Duncan ordered.

 

Meadow opened the glove compartment and pulled out the small took wrap and pulled the pliers from it and handed it back.  Duncan reached in again, he was having trouble getting a grip because of the movement of the van.

 

“Slow down Max, give me some smooth road for a second!”  He yelled.

 

Max backed off the gas and Duncan reached in again with the bloody needle nosed pliers.

 

“Got it!”  He yelled pulling the fragment that was lodged in the back ribcage.

 

No signs of life.

 

“She’s gone Duncan.”  Snow said,  Noktok started releasing her ribs.

 

“Keep her chest open, I’m not giving up that fast!”  Duncan yelled, Noktok opened her again.

 

Duncan reached in and grabbed her heart, placing one hand under and one hand over, he started squeezing it, trying to plug the holes with his fingers.  Blood squirted to the roof, splattering the people around.  He squeezed again.  Noktok took the squirt in the face.

 

“Duncan!  Stop, she’s dead!”  Snow yelled again.

 

Duncan kept working Kevashka’s heart.  He was doing his best to block the blood from leaving her heart.  He had never done a heart massage before, he only had information from reading about it, and what his wife had told him from their college days. 

 

He was trying to keep a motion that moved the blood from one chamber to the next, he wasn’t sure if a werewolf heart was the same as a humans, he hoped it was.

 

“Duncan!”  Snow screamed again.

 

Duncan kept on trying.  The squirting was less, he worked the heart more.  Snow climbed over the seat to get away from what was going on in the back of the van.  She wouldn’t forgive Duncan for what he was doing.  Even though somehow in his mind he felt he was doing the right thing, he was only making matters worse, Kevashka was gone, assassinated, and her partner was desecrating her body.

 

“AHH-HA-HA-HA!”  Came from Duncan.  “Got a heartbeat here, got a beat!  It’s weak, but we have a heartbeat!” 

 

Duncan relaxed his hold on Kevashka’s heart, only keeping his fingers in the holes.  Her heart started to beat stronger, he could feel the holes start to slowly close.  Soon he was able to remove his hands. 

 

Snow stared back in amazement as Duncan held her heart up slightly, showing it was beating again, his face radiant from success.  Snow felt weak.  Duncan refused to give up, she had cursed him for that.  He fought battles she couldn’t.

 

“I’m calling this in, letting base know what happened.”  Snow said, pulling out her phone, moving like she had been drugged.

 

“NO!”  Duncan shouted, he released Kevashka’s heart.  “Close her chest up, cover her the best you can.  Snow!”  Duncan climbed over the seat to where Snow was.

 

Duncan placed a blood covered hand on each of Snow’s shoulders and looked her close in the eyes.  “When you call this in, say Kevashka our strategist died, ok, say she died.”  Duncan said to Snow’s stunned face.

 

“Duncan, I can’t lie!”  She said, her voice becoming high pitched.

 

“You’re not lying, you saw her heart, it wasn’t beating, at that point she died, you just don’t need to include the information that she is alive again, got it?”  Duncan instructed her.

 

“Duncan, why?”  Snow asked, she was stunned and confused now, watching what happened took a lot out of her emotionally.

 

“Just do it, you need to trust me, ok?  Everybody else, turn your phones off, no questions just do it, now!”  Duncan said to the rest of the team in the van.

 

They moved to comply, Duncan pulled out his own phone, he opened the text message app and pulled up Beth the seeker’s link, ‘Do you like ice tea?’ he entered and sent the text.  Snow was to distraught to notice. 

 

After she called in what happened, and saying Kevashka had died, she started to power off her phone and looked at Duncan.  “Leave yours on.”  He said before she moved the slider to turn her phone off. 

 

She suddenly felt cold, her body quivered as a shiver ran through her from looking into his face and eyes.  Duncan had connected the dots, something was very wrong, very bad.  She was glad he was on their side.  Though she didn’t know exactly what he figured out, she could feel he would be right.

 

Duncan turned his phone off, then looked to Snow again.  “I need you to call a retreat, for everyone, nation wide, tell everyone to fall back to hallowed ground, now.”

 

Snow’s shock on her face grew.  “I can’t do that, Duncan, that would be insane.” 

 

“Yes you can, you are over all clans in the states coming from House Trust, Lord Leyland put you in command here, your orders will stand, you can call everyone off, and you have to, this is very important.”  Duncan said, his urgency clear in his voice.

 

Snow was shaking her head.  Duncan’s request was extreme, and he wasn’t a full member of werewolf command.  His position for the most part was honorary.  He held no real authority over anyone. 

 

Snow thought, looked deep inside herself.  Duncan was communicating with Lord Mort, Lord Leyland and Night Harvest.  The Supreme Bishop of Clans sent a book to him.  None of them questioned him. 

 

Snow looked down at her phone.  She looked up at Duncan, then back to the phone and slid a finger on the touch screen to unlock the device. 

 

“This is commander Lady Snow, of House Trust, order a retreat of all crews, all teams, everyone, back to hallowed ground, immediately.  That is correct, communicate my order to every crew and team, this comes from House Trust.”  Snow said to the person she called then hung up and powered her phone down.  She looked at Duncan.  He had death on his face.

 

“When we get to the Stormhold building, everyone pack, fast.  We’re flying out of here as soon as we can.”  Duncan said, his voice said there was no questioning what he said.  Everyone, including Snow, accepted this. 

 

Duncan went with when they took Kevashka into the medical unit.  He told a nurse to get Doctor River Stone pronto.  Duncan was removing his street clothes, the nurse looked at the crest on the uniform beneath.  “Yes Sir.”  She responded. 

 

Medics were attending to Kevashka.  When they tried to move her into a room Duncan stopped them, he told them she was staying here.  They didn’t argue with him.

 

“Duncan, Kevashka, what happened?”  Doctor River Stone asked, his face showed his worry.

 

“I’ll tell you in the chopper, get what you need to stabilize her, everything you can fit into a duffel bag, bring Kevashka and meet us on the roof, you have ten minutes.”  Duncan said.

 

River Stone’s face went into shock.  “Excuse me what?  Chopper?  You mean fly?” 

 

“You’re coming with us, you will be tending to Kevashka in the chopper.  That’s an order, ten minutes, be on the roof.”  Duncan said then turned and walked away.

 

The rest of the team had gone to pack, including Snow.  Duncan came into their room and grabbed the three duffels he had already loaded his gear into.  He stopped to vomit again, then headed to the roof, without stopping to talk to Snow while she packed.

 

When Snow arrived on the roof, Duncan was climbing out of the back engine compartment of the helicopter.  She stowed her duffels in the cargo area and came to him.  He was standing at the operators side of the cockpit looking over the inside of the craft.  The back door was open also.

 

“Preflight is all done, fuel is full, we will be flying low.”  Duncan said.  Snow looked into the cockpit.  The GPS unit was missing from the middle of the roof of the chopper.  She looked around and saw a box in the middle on the floor.

 

“What’s that?”  She asked, a wondering look on her face.

 

“That is a bomb.”  Duncan said coldly.

 

“A bomb?  Where was it?”

 

“Engine compartment.”

 

Snow’s face showed the thoughts running through her mind.  “Are there any more?”

 

“There were two, that is the one I kept.”  Duncan answered still reading papers he had in his hand, not looking at Snow.

 

“Where is the other one then?  Who put them there?”  Snow asked, she had a cold hard spot in her throat now.

 

“There was a serviceman here, for the air conditioning units on the roof, or so he claimed.  I encountered him in the stairway up here, came up here when the alarm system said the door had been opened to the roof.  I waited for whoever it was to come back, watched him from a window in the port that exits on the roof.  He was messing with the chopper.”

 

He looked up from the papers at her.  “When I caught him on the stairs, looking like I was just coming up them, I asked him what he was doing.  He told me he was here to change the filters on the HVAC units on the roof, even gave me his card.  Only thing is, the filters aren’t on the roof.”

 

He looked back down at the clipboard.  “After he left, I checked every inch of the chopper.”  Duncan informed Snow as he continued to look at the papers, After a few moments of reading he looked at Snow again. 

 

“As far as the second bomb, its own its way to the person who put it in the chopper, in a box marked perishables, open immediately.  I re-rigged the trigger for my purposes.”  Duncan turned from her and closed the engine compartment and put the clipboard inside the chopper.

 

Snow nodded slowly.  Duncan had been ever vigilant.  The man clearly wasn’t a day walker, he never would have made it into the building.  Duncan had been expecting something, he wasn’t sure what so he watched everything.  He kept the alarm system panel up on his computer and checked every door open to any level above them or coming to their level.  He would show his connected dots when they were safely back home. 

 

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The rest of the team arrived on the roof, Snow closed the box with the bomb a bit better.  Doctor River Stone was the next to come up, with two people helping with the gurney Kevashka was on.  He had her hooked up to IVs. 

 

The team waited so she could be loaded in first.  She was still unconscious but was showing signs of regeneration.  It looked like she would come through fine.  Kevashka had to be sat upright, due to the limited space in the helicopter.  Doctor River Stone would sit across from her on the floor by where Snow and Duncan would be in the cockpit. 

 

Snow and Duncan helped everyone load their gear once Kevashka was in and situated, along with Doctor River Stone.  She closed the copilot side back door and walked around the chopper to the pilots seat. Duncan was sitting there, getting the chopper ready to fly, he looked as though he intended to fly this time.

 

“You’re in my seat, partner.”  Snow said to him, not in an angry way, more in a manner that said she was going to do her job, that he could count on her.

 

“You sure you want to?  We are going to have to fly low, will be coming in under the cover of dark.”  Duncan said to her, he was trying to let her off the hook for flying.

 

“I’m positive, between the two of us, which one can see better in the dark anyways?”  Snow smiled at him.  “Plus I am sure you have some work you need to do, dots?”

 

Duncan climbed out of the pilot’s seat and took his place, Snow was right, he would have rather worked on his dots.

 

“I want everyone to remove the batteries from their phones, River Stone, that includes you.”  Duncan said and watched to make sure everyone did as he asked.

 

“I didn’t even grab mine.”  River Stone said, looking to Duncan.  “It’s on my desk actually.”

 

Duncan pulled out his phone, he brought up his directory and searched it.  He found River Stone’s number and called it.  He felt around River Stone since nothing could be heard, trying to feel for vibration if he had the phone on silent.  Nothing.  “No offense Doc, just making sure.”

 

River Stone nodded.  He wasn’t offended, He accepted Duncan was being thorough.

 

Snow lifted the helicopter off without any dramatics this time.  She flew low as Duncan had instructed, and avoided any contact with control towers.  They wanted to escape without notice by anyone.  They hadn’t even notified clan Stormhold they were leaving. 

 

River Stone said he needed to work on Kevashka, and landing would be required for him to do what he had to.  Snow found a small private airport that didn’t have a tower, only radio contact.  She landed where they instructed and River Stone had everyone leave the back of the chopper while he tended to Kevashka.  Duncan made arrangements to have the fuel on the chopper topped off and paid in cash. 

 

The manager of the small airport had become curious when he heard about what the ground crew had seen in the back of the chopper. 

 

Duncan’s CIA identification took care of any questions.  He told the man to forget they were ever there.  He assured the man that the federal government wouldn’t take kindly to someone who stuck their nose into matters of national security.  He could read on the man’s face his message was received loud and clear. 

 

Duncan checked in on River Stone.  He had Kevashka back in place and she was awake now.  He had removed the IVs from her.  She had started regenerating faster now.  She was still in rough shape, but was making significant improvements now.  River Stone asked if they could get her some food.  Duncan asked how that would sit with flying, River Stone decided food could wait until they arrived at Snow’s den. 

 

Duncan went back into the small terminal and visited the manager again while Snow started the chopper.  He handed the man five hundred dollars ‘for any inconvenience’ they may have caused.  He thanked the man for his cooperation and understanding.  A little gesture to help ensure their visit was forgotten. 

 

Snow had the rotors to full speed when Duncan returned to the chopper.  Kevashka was speaking a little when Duncan got in.  He looked back at her.  She was pale and it was easy to see the pain she was in on her face.  Her eyes focused on him, her mouth formed an ever so faint smile.  Duncan gave her a wink and strapped in.  Snow returned them to the air and continued on towards home.

 

Darkness had a firm grip on them when they finally landed at the pad in Snow’s yard.  Duncan was pleased to see the guards patrolling the grounds when they landed.  He had sent a fax to the den concerning their arrival and some new security instructions. 

 

Malkah and Hovlek were standing at the side garage door keeping watch.  Malkah looked out of place with the sword on his back and the shotgun in his hands.  Hovlek looked right at home holding the weapon.

 

River Stone took Kevashka into the den first, several members of the support crew came to help him bring her in.  She had tried to insist that she could walk and had started insulting the people starting with River Stone, he looked her close up in her eyes.  ‘Would you speak to a bishop that way?’ he had said to her.  She quieted down.  Physicians in werewolf culture also were part of the bishops, a healer was close to the Light.

 

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Morning brought news of the retreat of the crews and teams around the nation.  Some had encountered direct attacks as they tried to leave for hallowed ground.  Fortunately casualties were zero.  Duncan asked that every report regarding the retreats be copied to him. 

 

The crews from Trust Operations One encountered some of the attacks mentioned.  They were being perused during their exit.  Sea Mist and Blade Dance put an end to this, between her bow and his array of multi bolt firing weapons, the vampires and day walkers soon broke off the attack, losing most of their troops. 

 

While Blade Dance’s weapons covered an area, Sea Mist was deadly accurate and lightning fast with her bow.  She took out the drivers of vehicles pursuing them, Blade Dance ensured no one else took the wheel. 

 

Sea Mist had pulled her long range long bow and fired on a helicopter that was closing in on and firing upon them, targeting the pilot.  It took her three shots, but the chopper went down when the third found its target, the pilot.  The crew was pressing on through the night and would arrive back at the den in a few hours.  So far, no more attacks. 

 

Crews and their teams across the water were also pulling back.  A courier had arrived early in the morning from across the water, he had a private letter for Duncan.  He was in his office he and Snow shared in the den.  Upon reading the letter he broke from his work to write a response and the courier was off again. 

 

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Duncan had held off having a meeting and explaining himself until everyone was back at the den.  There was no relaxing in the den during the wait.  Everyone was too anxious and disturbed to sleep.  Duncan had Malkah come to his office and he met with him for about an hour, then Malkah disappeared into his shop.  His face looked tormented when he passed through the main hall. 

 

Whatever Duncan had talked to him about upset Malkah, some of his dots had obviously involved him for solutions.  After Duncan was informed the crews and all their teams had returned and were inside the den, he asked for Snow to come to him.  He had attendants delivering all his messages.

 

Everyone was convoked in the main hall, Duncan stood at the front and held up a large tag board paper sign that said:

 

‘No talking

Bring your cell phones

Follow me”

 

Everyone ceased their conversing, stood, and walked with Duncan as he led them through the maze of hallways down into the tenement area of the den to a room that was as far away from any other part of the den people might actually regular as possible.  At the door to the room Snow stood.  She was holding a sign like Duncan had held.

 

“Keep phones on

Place phones on table

Go back to assembly hall

No talking.”

 

Everyone filed into the room and dropped off their phones, Duncan was standing by another door that exited into the hall holding a sign that simply said ‘Exit Here’.

 

Once everyone had returned to the main hall Duncan took to the high table area again and addressed the crews.

 

“Ladies and Gentleman, I know you are wondering what the hell is going on.  We have not been the hunters, we have been the hunted.  You are not to use your smart phones to communicate anything unless Kevashka or the command team tells you.  All calls and texts will be by our direction.”

 

He held for a moment making sure there were no question.

 

“The vampire forces have somehow hacked into our network and have been using our smart phones to track us and listen in on our communications.  I have provided my investigation information to Night Harvest and he agrees with my deductions.”  Duncan informed the crews.  He stopped to allow them to absorb what he had told them and waited for the whispers and murmuring to die down.

 

“The evidence of this is from field reports and other information.”  Duncan started again.  “Every time we made a move, they countered, with extreme precision.  They were able to track us by our GPS, they didn’t have to sniff us out, they knew where we were.”

 

All eyes were wide, everyone felt the gravity of the situation and the implications.

 

“When we moved on the coven leader at the underground club, they knew who Sadness was, they were prepared for us.  They had teams in the back ready to try and wipe us out, the only reason for this is because they knew we were staging across from the club by our GPS locators.”  Duncan looked around the room.

 

“Sea Mist and Blade Dance, left their mission site, only to have vampires attack them from behind. Even our own teams didn’t know where they had went to yet.  The only way the vampires could have know, was by GPS.  They went to an area that was clear of vampire activity.”

 

Duncan’s voice became angry with what he said next.  So did the faces watching him.  “When our strategist was attacked, they didn’t care about the rest of us, they targeted Kevashka directly, firing only on her.  It was an assassination attempt.”

 

Duncan stepped around the table to the front and sat down.  “Faldo was hit, we didn’t have our phones on us, no one did, they were all back at Stormhold charging.  Only Faldo had a phone.  There were no other day walkers around until after we called in what happened, then, we were attacked.”

 

He held a hand out towards Snow.  “Sadness and I were picked up on the street and followed into a shop, again, the only way they could have known who we were and where we were is by GPS tracking.  There is plenty more evidence of this, but as you can tell from what I have covered, this is far beyond circumstance.”

 

Duncan motioned to someone out of sight.  Malkah brought in a large white screen.  Silence followed with a projector and laptop. Duncan put up a picture for everyone to see after Silence turned on the projector and handed the remote for the laptop and the PowerPoint Duncan was going to show them.  The picture was a bar chart with 1900 - 1910 at the top.

 

“This graph shows the number of werewolf deaths for the time period listed at the top, each slide will show you that, this is for the first decade of the 1900’s, states, four, overseas, nine.”  Duncan changed the slide.

 

“Nineteen ten thru nineteen twenty, seven and three.”  Slide change.  “Nineteen twenty thru nineteen thirty, zero and seven, nineteen thirty thru nineteen forty, twenty one and nineteen, there was a war, human and the battle of Blood Night.  From nineteen forty to nineteen seventy the numbers remain about the same as from nineteen hundred to nineteen thirty.”  Duncan said flipping though the slides allowing a few seconds for the crews to view them.

 

“Now, through nineteen seventy thru nineteen ninety there was a slight increase, averaging about fourteen werewolf deaths per year.  The next decade, one stateside and four overseas.”  Duncan looked around the room before going on.  He could read the questions on peoples faces, they didn’t see how this proved anything. 

 

“Now, from two thousand to two thousand three we see an increase in deaths, forty-one and twenty-three, this also coincides with the use of cell phones by our forces, with the stateside clans being the first to implement their use.”  Duncan looked around the room again, still not too much reaction. 

 

“Now, starting in two thousand three and going through two thousand seven,” Duncan changed slides, “three hundred and ninety-three stateside deaths and seven hundred and eighty-eight overseas deaths.”  The faces watching started to show the significance of what was being shown to them. 

 

“In two thousand seven, iPhones came about, and the clans started using smart phones throughout all crews and teams, utilizing the GPS systems for tracking team members and coordinating attacks.”  Duncan changed the slide showing the statistics of werewolf deaths from two thousand seven to two thousand twelve. 

 

The silence in the room was broke, comments about disbelief of the dramatic increase were heard, questions about how that could be, and general shocked comments.  The numbers from both the states and overseas had broken the thousand mark, in multiple.

 

Duncan was looking around the room, his face long and serious.  “This is from January of two thousand thirteen to the beginning of last week.”  Duncan changed the slide to the next graph.  The sounds from the room stopped.  The numbers had more than doubled from the previous six years.

 

Duncan turned off the projector and sat back down on the table.  “Now, does anyone think I have missed the mark on this, or may be wrong about my reasoning?”  He asked the crowd.  Some shook their heads, but no one doubted what Duncan had figured out.

 

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“The attack on Kevashka was the line that connected my dots for me.  We were miles from anyplace we had been engaging the vampires, as I said, the focus of their attack was to take out our strategist.  On our GPS, it identifies who we are when we hover over on the main terminals or tap a dot on the phones.  That’s how they knew were and which one of us was Kevashka.  The day walkers and vampires all carry smart phones too.” 

 

Duncan continued now that the crews understood his reasoning. “Whenever we have recovered one of their phones, we haven’t been able to get any real information from them.  Basic stuff, some contacts, no one important, music apps, games, that was all that was on the phones, not even a recent text list.”

 

“I figured they had an erase feature that they used to prevent us from learning anything, once one of their members went down, a signal was scent to erase the phone, but leave enough so it looked somewhat normal.  When Kevashka was hit, I retrieved the phone the second day walker had in his hands while the other one attempted the assassination.”  He turned to Malkah who was standing off by the end of the table.  “Malkah.” Duncan said, turning the floor over to him.

 

Malkah came and stood beside Duncan who moved off to one side to allow him to have the full attention of his audience. He held up an android version of a smart phone.  “This is the phone Duncan recovered, he removed the battery right away, good, very good.  This stopped the phone from being erased, it did.  I disconnected the antenna, prevented the phone from being able to receive any signals.” 

 

Malkah nodded his head some and looked over to Duncan before he went on. “When I turned the phone on, I found a GPS tracking app still displayed on the screen.  I did this by having the last thing on the phone brought up.”

 

He a short nervous grin and mumbled something about how he did it.  “It’s, well, technical. Anyways, the team was on the display, Kevashka was highlighted, and a picture of her was also on the phone.  They knew who to hit.”  Malkah’s face showed his disgust and anger about what he had discovered.

 

Looking up from the phone, he held it up for everyone to see.  “There is even an app that lets the phone user listen in on specific werewolf phones and notifies them when one is in use.  They can listen in on our conversations, even our texts, at will.  Every text we send is received by a vampire someplace, or by ones that have selected specific phones to monitor.”  Malkah moved back to where he had been standing, indicating he was done.

 

Duncan took the floor again and was talking about how important it was that this information was not openly discussed, they were not to talk even to other clans or their team members about this discovery.  This information could be used against the vampires, fake them out Duncan had said.  Malkah had walked away from the meeting, and Duncan looked over to his back and watched him for a split moment.

 

“Only the people in this room know about this stateside.  Lord Leyland and Night Harvest along with Lord Mort have been informed via courier.  Keep this to yourselves, Nuff said?”  Duncan asked of his crews.  A military styled ‘Yes Sir’ came from them on a loud reply. 

 

Duncan dismissed the crews, they made their way to Kevashka and each did their own style of acknowledging their feelings to her about being happy she was alive.  While this was going on, Duncan moved away and headed to Malkah’s workshop.

 

 

 

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