The Protectors
Author: Fox Wild

Chapter 23
The Day Music Died

Chapter 23

 

The Day Music Died

 

 

“Hey!  Sleeping with your head like that will make your neck hurt human.”  Sea Mist’s voice said as it pulled him from his dreamland. 

 

He focused on where he was as he raised his head from the back of the office chair he had fallen asleep in while digging through yet more files and recorded history.  On the top of the mounding pile, currently in front of him, were the prints of pictures from the flash drive Steve had given him.  Pictures Music had taken, the day she died.

 

Beneath those were her reports that she had filed for that day, as well as her day log which included her unfinished entry she started at 02:38hrs.  Even on the printed copies in black and white the blotches on the pages were clearly blood.  She had been shot through the back at close range.  Silver bb’s from a shotgun.  Then her head was taken.  Her body had landed facing down, on top of her log.  The vampires that killed her didn’t know it was there, didn’t know about her hidden trip camera.

 

“I must have dozed off.”  Bait said standing slowly and rubbing his face. 

 

Sea Mist made a thoughtful face with a finger to her lips, as though she were considering some thought heavily.  “I would say…” she began sounding as she was carefully weighing information, “all dots connect to ‘yes’ on that.  Brilliant deduction Watson!  Enlighten me please on how you were able to figure that out?”  Sea went on with a bit of chide on the side.

 

Pushing past her he went to the small fridge that now sat in the office.  He had opened the door on the chiller and made his selection of drink just as the door to their quarters opened. 

 

Snow walked in, she looked tired and spent.  It was clear in her voice as she vented frustration in a human style growling vocalization she was in a mood.  She had been meeting with commanders under her trying to work out problems with their lack of forces.  The attempt to use support staff had failed, not miserably, but if they kept on stressing their people that hard, it would get there. 

 

Bait stepped from the fridge and moved into the room Snow was in, just past the doorway to the office.  Her face was hanging, her eyes lost.  “Mustering troops didn’t go well I take it, how bad are we?”  He asked opening his drink as he faced her.

 

“Shit creek… paddle.”  Snow uttered in a slow tired frazzled voice.  “No paddle.”  She shook her head then looked to her mate.  “Fifty thousand, if we are lucky, thirty-five for sure.  That’s it for that huge mother of a coven.” 

 

Her body wilted some.  “We need five hundred thousand.  We are so far up shit creek…”  Shaking her head again and loosely moving her arms up some then letting them fall, she stared at him.  “I don’t know what to do.”

 

Bait drank from the can he held then looked off in thought for a moment.  “That’s a hell of a shortfall.  I’d like to say something will fall into place,”  Bait shook his head now, “but I have no idea what.”

 

Snow inhaled deep and straightened herself up.  “How about with you, find anything?”  She said then started a slow pace aimlessly around the small room.

 

Bait snorted, shaking his head with a perplexed look.  “Finding things.  All kinds of things.  Too many things.  I’m not sure which pieces fit, and which belong in a different puzzle all together.  Found two pictures from her camera, first there’s no book, then in the next picture there is a book.  Nothing written about the pictures of the book though, no mention of it at all.  Then, there is all this other shit.  Bizarre stuff.  I think my brain is fried.”  He looked up at Snow when he finished.

 

“Hey, can I have something from your fridge?  Kinda parched in here.”  Sea Mist yelled out from the office.

 

“Yeah, help yourself.”  Bait yelled back.

 

Snow’s face crunched.  “What book?”  She asked with a heavy confusion in her voice.  Now he was looking for a book?  Again?

 

The sound of the mini-fridge opening.

 

“In the book about Music, her last fight, what she was working on.  In it there are two pictures.  The first one just shows the room her camera was set up in, the second one is the same room only there’s a book that is propped up against the opposite wall on the floor.  The man who put the information together doesn’t say anything about the book in the picture.  He just goes on about Pradish and Prichard, the two vampire brothers she was investigating.”  Bait let out a deep sigh.

 

Pradish and Prichard… hey!  That’s who’s in these pictures.”  Sea Mist said.

 

“NO!”  Snow screamed. 

 

Bait dropped to the floor and rolled out of the way the best he could.  He was barely able to drop low enough to avoid Snow colliding with him as she flew through the air.  When he landed he rolled in the direction she had traveled. 

 

He could see Sea Mist’s shocked face as she was starting to look towards the sound of the yell with the Monster can a scant moment from her lips.  Snow smashed the can from her hands sending it flying across their office, throwing its contents on her, up on the ceiling, down on the floor and on the wall as it spun vertically before impacting on the wall it had just sprayed.

 

“What the frell Ginger Snap?!  You off your beam shortcake or what?”  Sea shouted at her sister.

 

Snow was breathing heavy and fast as she looked into her sisters eyes then slowly turned a muted angry face towards her mate.

 

“Never, ever give a werewolf caffeine.”  Her head slowly returned to her sister.  “Never drink an energy drink, they’re coke squared.”  She said through her teeth.  “Cubed even!”

 

“Oh!”  Bait and Sea said in unison.

 

“Sorry, I didn’t… think…” Sea Mist’s eyes danced over to Bait and back, “about that.  Humans.”  She snorted sheepishly and flipped her hands around nervously.

 

Snow sighed hard.  “It’s okay, we all have to adjust to living… together.”  She looked around the room quickly.  “I’m going to go brush my hair and catch a quick shower.”  She ended, then darted out of the office towards the shower.

 

“Blade used to watch my ass when I left a room.”  Sea said deadpan. 

 

“Knock, knock.” came from the door as Bait was standing.

 

Bait turned and went to answer it.  “Seven, join the fun.  How’d the thing work?”  He greeted his gadget master as he led him into their quarters and office.  He was glad for the topic diversion as Sea Mist cleaned up the mess from the flying drink.

 

“Right chirpy, I think you’re going to like what I’ve come up with.  It worked like a charm, but, I have to be very high up to get the best listening.  I can hear the vampires.  Just need to work on being able to pinpoint them, then we gots us a winner.”  Seven reported with an excited face.

 

Being able to listen over a large city and hear just the sounds of the vampires in it.  Useful on its own, but if Seven could put an exact mark on a location, then things just turned in their favor.  With their low numbers they needed a big advantage. 

 

“Oh, Pradish and Prichard, did we get them too now?”  Seven said when he saw the pictures on Bait’s desk.

 

Bait stopped and looked at Seven then to Sea Mist again, then looked between them at nothing for just a moment, then back to Seven.  “Ok, that’s twice.  What the hell are you two talking about, Pardish and Prichard?”  He said with a hard edge in his voice.

 

Seven blinked at him a few times since Bait was focused on him.  His face was a touch nervous with a hint of confusion.  Sea Mist’s voice cut in.  “Because you have their pictures on your desk, in plain sight.  What gives old man?  You’re reading up on Music and her last battle.”  She said.  Hurt came to her eyes and she turned away looking back to the floor she was wiping up. 

 

They heard the sound of her releasing her breath hard.  “They were supposed to be my host family den when I had my coming of age party.  Music died before I was born.  Clan Kim disappeared from the map, nothing now, just another unrecognized den.”  The sound of Sea Mist sniffing as though she had been crying came from her direction.

 

Sea’s head came up and she turned to face the other two with a bright face and eyes.  “So, yeah, that’s why we are talking about those two frells, because you have their picture in our faces.”  She said through her bright face, with a voice that betrayed the cold feelings inside.

 

“Clan Kim?”  Bait said with a crunched face.

 

“Yeah, Kicks and Music, K and M, Kim.  That was their clan.”  Sea Mist said, her face now matching her voice.

 

Bait’s face changed, the question gone now.  He looked to the pictures on his desk.  “And what do you mean I have their pictures on my desk, there are no vampires in those pictures, just like the video from Robert’s apartment, which was effectively worthless since all you could see was when stuff went flying around.  Vampires can't have their pictures taken.  Thought you guys if anyone would, would know that.”  Bait said clearly vexed.  “What there is in these pictures is a…”  Seven cut him off.

 

“Did you have your contacts in and on when you looked?”  He asked.

 

Bait’s eyes snapped to Seven.  “What difference would that make?  No, I didn’t have them in, why would I wear them around the office?”  He answered with a hard voice.

 

He was about to go on when Seven started talking again before he could.

 

“What you said is not true.  Perspective, like you always talk about, is the reason.  Or to be more specific, refraction.”  Bait’s face went from its angered state to his ‘you have my attention, now make it worth my while’ look. 

 

Seven’s face showed a hint of smile.  “When you see a vampire directly with your own eyes, you are seeing, not the vampire, but the light reflected from it, and light is both particle and wave.  Because a vampire is a creation of pure darkness, when light connects with it, it is changed.  Like when it passes through a prism, only instead of splitting the light, part of it is destroyed; the wave part that is what humans see the most of.”

 

Seven motioned to the pictures.  “When this contaminated light is captured on film, the part of light that humans can see isn’t there to be captured.”  He ended by bringing his hands to his front and placing one hand over the other then looked to the floor a moment.  After a quick second he looked up.  “Put your contacts in.”  He told Bait.

 

He looked at Seven in silence and considered his thoughts for a moment.  His head nodded slowly and slightly then he turned with a face that said ‘okay’ and started digging in one of the drawers of his desk.  Sea Mist watched from her side of the small office as Bait put in the contacts.

 

“Turn them on and tell me what you see when you look at the pictures.”  Seven said.

 

“Son of a bitch.”  Came softly from Bait.  His mouth was slacked a bit.  He looked back at Seven, his face told him he wanted an explanation.

 

Clearing his throat Seven raised his head and began.

 

A soft gentle smile came to his lips, what he was about to tell, he felt was a crafty way of solving a problem.  Bait had come to know this smile.  “Well, it’s simple actually, the problem was that humans, you, couldn’t see in the dark and in other ways that we could, so I made contacts that give humans, you, werewolf sight.  It’s not just night vision, it was easier to have you see things the way we do.”

 

Bait’s head shot up straight, his features snapped into a new position.

 

Sea chortled.  “There we go, that’s the look Seven, you done set the Bait-ster off.  So spill the beans old man, enough with the Hon Solo dramatics and give it to us.”  She said while she stood and took the few steps needed to stand next to Seven and look Bait right in the face.

 

He shot a quick look at Sea Mist before he turned his full attention to Seven.  “Can you reverse that?”  He started.  Seven’s face became a question.  “Make it go the other way, give a werewolf human sight?”  The question on his face grew larger.

 

Seven snorted with his response.  “Why would I want to do that?  What good is seeing worse?”

 

“Not seeing worse, seeing different.”  Bait charged, he clearly didn’t like the assumption that human eyes were inferior to werewolf eyes.

 

“Yeah, I get it, like with the door that only Bait could see.”  Sea Mist cut in with.  “I get it, he wasn’t seeing the vampires in the pictures, he’s seeing what’s there without them.  How else can we see what he sees?” 

 

Bait’s face broke into a smile with Sea’s explanation.  ‘I couldn’t have said that better myself’ his face said to her.  Seven’s face lit up as he took in what Sea Mist said.

 

“I… hmm.”  Seven’s hand went to his face and he worked his fingers around his nose and lips as he pondered.  “I never considered doing that, but… well, its not that difficult, shouldn’t be anyways, really ends up being a matter of calibration, some software changes… no, shouldn’t need to make new contacts for a werewolf… I should be able to handle that all from the term.”  Seven’s eyes returned to his commander.  “Yes, it is doable.  Shouldn’t take too long either.”

 

Seven looked off again.  Sea Mist changed sides and stood next to Bait and watched Seven.  She could tell Bait well understood the need to let that freight train of thought run on down the tracks and was allowing the time needed for this process in his gadgettier. 

 

“No…”  Seven said then took his radio pack from his side and pointed to one of the computers in the office.  “May I?”  He asked.

 

Bait waved a hand at the computers.  “Be my guest.”

 

Seven worked between his radio phone and the computer.  Bait sat down and Sea Mist plopped herself in his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck as they watched Seven work.  At times he looked mad, crazy mad the way he would talk to himself, then look as if he were talking to someone who wasn’t there and having a complete conversation with them, or himself.  It was about fifteen minutes later when he finally looked up from the computer and radio pack with a face of success.

 

“I thinks I’ve got it me chums.  Now, I just need some contacts.”  He looked off for a second then started digging in many hidden pockets on his uniform.

 

He was pulling out a closet of stuff and pitching it on the floor as he dug.  Bait was thinking to himself that it might take his gadgettier longer to find his contacts then it did to change the perspective of them.  At times Seven would pull an item, look at is as though he was wondering either what it was or why it was in his pockets, then he would smile as he remembered and toss it on the growing heap.

 

“AH!  There they are.”

 

“Have you ever considered you might be an obsessive packrat?”  Bait tossed out at the gadgettier.

 

Seven didn’t even seem to notice the comment.  Standing from the desk he started putting his contacts in.  He picked up his radio pack and started tapping at it.  Sounds of ‘no, no, that’s not right’ and okay, okay, I think that’s better’ dribbled from him as he worked.

 

Bait suddenly screamed and his hands went to his eyes.

 

“Opps, sorry about that.  How’s that better?  Tell me is that what things look to you like normal… -ly?  Human eyed?”  Seven said very fast.

 

“Too damn bright!”  Bait screeched.

 

Seven tapped some more.  “Oh, oh, I see, yes, maybe, no, sure, why not.  That should do it.”  He looked up at Bait.  “Okay, now how… do you see human style now?”

 

Bait removed his hands from his face which offered no help in the end since the contacts were on his eyes.  “Yeah, bit on the blue side, but I like it.”  He looked at the picture.  “I can still see images of the vampires, like they were on a bad green screen.” 

 

He kept his eyes on the pictures.  The blue was gone, everything looked normal.  “Right there, that looks right.”  He turned and looked around the room and at Sea Mist and Seven.  “Yeah, I think you have it.”  He ended with a smile as he looked at Seven.

 

Nodding fast with a few ‘okay’s’ added in Seven started tapping at his radio again.  “Good, good, now I just need to overlay this onto my contacts… and… that should be it.”  Seven moved over to where the pictures were.

 

“I’ll be damned.”  He said as his finger ran between the two pictures on the page.  “There is a book in here, one that disappears.”  Seven looked to Bait.

 

“No shit, that’s what I’ve been telling everyone.  Can you take the human vision off of my contacts now?  I really don’t need help seeing in human.”  Bait said with a jocular smirk at the end.

 

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“What I need you to do is get every record the Clay’s have on their computers.”  Bait was telling Seven while he was returning his collection of trinkets to their proper pouch.

 

Sea Mist watched from near the door of the office.

 

“I can do that, I’ll get the request filled out right away and we should have the data tomorrow.”  Seven answered.

 

“No!  That’s not what I am telling you to do, I did not say request the information, I said get the information.  To be clear, what I mean, my devious slippery little mongrel, is you are to hack the Clay network and extract exact copies of all data on every computer, mainframe, whatever data storage they have, without their knowledge and cover your tracks so they will never know.  That, Lord Seven, is an order.”  Bait stated.

 

Seven smiled and answered.  “It would be my greatest pleasure your Grace.”  Then he turned and charged from the room.  Excitement gets to every werewolf at some time. 

 

“Next time open the door before you charge through it!”  Bait yelled after him, knowing Seven was already too far away to hear.

 

He turned his attention to Sea Mist.  “You, cutie, come here.  Your Sea Stallion ready to fly?”

 

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“Good, make ready to go see old man on mountain.”  Hovlek’s voice said from the doorway into their quarters.  “Who got excited?”  He asked pointing to the remains of the door.

 

“Seven.”  Bait answered as he turned and looked out the door of the office, leaning back so he could see Hovlek from his chair.  Worm’s head poked around from behind the warrior.  Hovlek nodded in understanding with a smirk.

 

“Hey squirt, bonehead and I were just talking about you.”  Sea Mist said then looked to Hovlek.  “You too Sir Bull.”  She ended with a large grin.

 

Hovlek looked sheepishly to the ground.  “Please, just Hovlek.”  He said meekly.

 

“What’s going on, are we going someplace?”  Worm piped in as she and Hovlek walked to the office.

 

Bait nodded.  Sea Mist motioned to him with a fisted hand with a thumb pointing out.  “In that assumption you are correct my girl.”  Bait answered with half his face pulled tight as the considered his plans.  Turning his gaze onto Hovlek he continued.  “And I am going to need your services too.”  He said to the weapons master’s crunched face.

 

Hovlek shook his head with a grunt as he looked at Bait in disgust.  “Bait should be having Sea Mist take him to old man on mountain.  Answers and questions both Bait will find there.”  He started nodding slowly when he finished, his eyes locked with Bait’s

 

Bait himself held his concentration on Hovlek this time.  His eyes squinted as he looked at the man with thoughts and realization coursing through his mind.

 

“You’re speaking literally, aren’t you?”  His head rocked from one side to the other as he continued surveying Hovlek.  “I thought you were being figurative… but there really is an old man on a mountain.”  Bait looked at Sea Mist when her head went down.  The answer to his question written clearly on her face. 

 

Hovlek grunted and nodded again, his face saying he was glad Bait finally caught on.

 

Glancing between Hovlek and Sea Mist Bait started his own nodding.  “Okay, but first we make a stop in Santa Barbara, then we’ll go see this man on the mountain.”  Bait started digging through the pile on his desk.

 

“Santa Barbara... Bait is going to make Hovlek fly.”  Hovlek stated in a low slow voice.  Bait didn’t seem to pay any attention to this comment.  “As Bait wishes, for man on mountain, no, Bait must go alone, only Sea Mist, only this one can take you to see old man.  Great distance Bait and Sea Mist must travel.  Helicopter, no, Bait will want Sea Mist to fly Bait in Hush.  This craft is fast and quiet, like Worm in the night.”

 

Bait froze in his movements from digging in this piles around him on tables, chairs and his desk.  His face locked on Hovlek’s.  Thoughts ran through his mind, considering what he just was told.  Questions raced, he wouldn’t ask them though. 

 

A cold ominous feeling started to form in the pit of his stomach.  everything you need is in that lump you call a brain, bonehead.  You just need to shake the cobwebs out and look at things right’ The voice of Sam Eliot said in his brain.  you know all the answers, you need the right questions to match them. He had wrongly assumed Hovlek was telling him he needed to get his head right, think clearly and in his own way, telling him to stop messing around and solve shit.  Hovlek knows. 

 

Bait looked at Sea Mist and considered what he knew about her, specifically her secret.  This old man on the mountain, only Sea Mist and he can go.  He felt he was about to get more questions than he knew how to deal with.  Questions he may not want to know the answers to.

 

“Am I coming with your Grace?”  Worm’s voice asked pulling Bait back into the room from where he had mentally wandered off too.

 

He shook his head a little to clear it then looked at the smiling face of Worm.  Bright lights.  They flashed in his eyes.  He saw Worm, it looked like her.  She wasn’t smiling, the cold inside him intensified, flooded him as he looked at her.  She wasn’t the same.  Something was different.  He blinked fast and shook his head again.  The brightness in his vision went away and he was looking at the smiling face of Worm again.

 

“No, Worm… no, not this time I’m afraid.”  Bait opened the drawer of his desk and dug out a file folder.  “I’ve got something for you to do.  You’ll be taking my truck and Faldo.”  He said then handed the file to her.

 

Taking the file with a large smile Worm opened the front of the folder and started looking at the pages.  Her eyes went wide, a seriousness came to her features.  She closed the file quickly.  Classified-Worm/Faldo ONLY.  She returned a stunned face to her commander and Inquisitor.  This wasn’t ‘little work’ like everything else she had been given to do to serve the clan, this was a real mission.  This was her mission!

 

Worm snapped to attention and saluted Bait who returned the acknowledgement.  Having received her orders, Worm turned and strode from the office, with her file under an arm, towards the entrance.

 

“That leaves us.  Unless you two have anything you need to do before we head out, I have an old friend I need to see, and a complete prick I need to get some information from.”  Bait’s eyes rested on Hovlek when he finished speaking.

 

“Inquisitor Bait sir!”  Worm’s voice screeched breaking his train of thought.

 

His head snapped up and towards the sound of her voice along with Hovlek and Sea Mist.  He stood briskly and started towards Worm, her voice, it carried the sound of discovery.  The child sees.  Curiosity filled him as he looked to the face of the young girl he had come to understand, like him, noticed things.

 

She was pointing at part of the debris left from Seven charging through the door.  The particular part that was the focus of her interest was the chunk of door the lock and latch assembly was mostly in. 

 

“Look.”  Worm said then reached for the piece of door.  Her face held the same question his did now.

 

“Good eye kid, good catch.”  Bait said distantly as he took the piece from Worm and looked it over.

 

“What’d you find?”  Sea Mist asked not seeing what Bait, Worm and apparently Hovlek saw.

 

Nodding Hovlek answered her.  “Another puzzle piece, this is what Bait has found.  And more question.”

 

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Worm

 

“Are you sure about this?  Nothing like this has ever been done.  This is a lot, I don’t think the immortals, any of them would approve.”  Sajhor was saying to Worm as she went over the information from Bait with him, Faldo at her side.

 

Faldo smiled.  “I think you will find that statement to be untrue.  It is Inquisitor Bait’s decision, not theirs.”

 

Sajhor’s head started shaking in a negative response.  “No, no, I won’t do this.  Not without approval from someone who is actually in charge.”

 

Faldo opened his mouth to speak but stopped short when Worm raised her hand to him.

 

Standing Worm pulled out her radio pack and poked at it quickly then looked to the man who was refusing her request, the orders given by Bait.  “If you would like, I can get this person on the line, I’m sure he will straighten out any misunderstanding you have regarding orders and following them.”  Worm held out the radio pack so Sajhor could see the contact name listed.

 

Sajhor’s face went slack, the color drained from him as he looked at the screen.  He looked like Hovlek had just punched him in the stomach.  His eyes locked with Worm’s, then moved across her ever smiling face. 

 

“No, that won’t be necessary, what about Lady Snow?”  Sajhor asked in a defeated voice.

 

Worm blinked slow.  “She is not your concern.  This project for the Inquisitor, this is your concern.  Please, how long until everything is ready to go, my commander will want to know.”  She asked still smiling.

 

Worm sat back and listened as Faldo and Sajhor worked out what would be needed to accomplish Bait’s goals for this facet of his plan.  There was a lot to cover, Worm thought her colonel would be pleased with what they had come up with.

 

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Hovlek

 

He was quiet the entire flight, sitting in the back with Bait and staring out the side window.  Bait tried to engage Hovlek in conversation.  After he first spoke to him though, when Bait looked over to Hovlek his face said he was lost in his own world of thoughts and wasn’t in a talking mood.  Nodding his head in understanding Bait looked out his own window and left Hovlek to himself.  Honestly, he didn’t want to know what thoughts troubled this man.

 

“Copy tower and thank you.”  Sea Mist was responding to control as they proceeded past the area the tower was in.

 

They would be going on a bit further south and a touch west and landing at the police station.  The control tower had notified the station that a helicopter was coming to land there and taken care of the identification for them. 

 

The police had wanted more information beyond being told a CIA chopper would be landing at their location within fifteen minutes.  Bait offered no explanation.  Considering his conversation with Bokham, he should be expected.

 

When they landed, no one came to meet them.  While the rotors came to a full stop, Bait stood outside the chopper and looked towards the station, waiting.  Hovlek came around the back of the helicopter, stood next to Bait and looked towards the station as well, then to Bait and back again.  With a grunt, he started nodding.

 

“Not a good sign.”  He grumbled.

 

Bait nodded in agreement.  “Not a good sign at all.”

 

Sea Mist climbed out of the cockpit and joined the men in looking towards the station.  Her eyes fell to the ground when she mentally caught up to her counterparts.

 

“You stay with the chopper.  Hovlek, come with me.”  Bait said giving Hovlek the once over.  It was different seeing him in a suit and tie.  “Then you can get out of that suit.”  He added.

 

Hovlek chuckled lightly.  “Hm, Hovlek not mind so much.  Looks good on Hovlek.”  His jocular expression fell fast as he looked back to the station, then followed after as Bait led the way.

 

Inside a familiar face from Bait’s the past greeted them, Tanya Wyler.  “Tanya, it’s been too many years.”  Bait said with a business smile backed with real emotion. 

 

The woman smiled back at Bait and shot a look at Hovlek.  Hovlek caught the slight rise of this woman’s eyebrows as she took Hovlek in.

 

“Agent Galt, good to see you too.”  Her smile was genuine, so was whatever caused her to hide her smile fast, and cover anything else positive.  “Lieutenant Bokham is expecting you.  I’ll let him know you’re here.”  Her voice now cold.  Hovlek’s face gave a slight indication of his perception of what was behind the voice of this Tanya.  She was worried, and not just for her old friend, but for Hovlek as well.

 

Commander Colonel Bait talked with her.  She told another officer to cover the counter and that she would be taking these two CIA agents to see this Bokham no one seemed to much care for.  Then she came out from her windowed cell and escorted them away to where they were to meet this Bokham. 

 

Tanya, pretty girl, she keeps giving Hovlek backwards glances.  She is wondering why Hovlek is with her friend Duncan Galt Agent CIA.  She is thinking, Hovlek, you do not looked like a CIA human to me.  This she is thinking of Hovlek. 

 

She is correct in what she is thinking, Hovlek can tell.  She knows, this Tanya, she knows Hovlek is here for what Tanya would call… muscle.  A glimmer to the eyes of Tanya this thought brought. 

 

Hovlek did not care for being the muscle, but Hovlek also understood that his just being there often was enough.  Commander Colonel Bait, Inquisitor Bait, would not bring muscle unless he was sure, muscle would be one hundred percent needed.  Hovlek could tell, Inquisitor Bait did not like needing muscle. 

 

There was a bad scent in the air.

 

“…and he didn’t send anyone to meet us?  Please bring it to Bokham’s attention, that’s a bit out of protocol.”  Inquisitor Bait was saying.

 

Tanya answered him.  Hovlek noticed, even through the faÇ;ade of professionalism, Tanya, her walk was amplified, Hovlek could tell she was putting extra wiggle in her stride for Commander Colonel Bait, he could tell.  Her voice told her tale, interest in him she had, but contained she kept it.  Human females, they enjoy knowing the attention of a man they have. 

 

So do werewolf females. 

 

Into an elevator she led the way.  Inside, after cart started to move, this Tanya, Hovlek had feelings of liking her, stopped the cart.

 

“Duncan, I don’t know what your involved in, but watch your ass with this, something isn’t right.  I ended up looking into the Harper’s Hardware Store bombing when I was working a homicide.  It was a nothing case, or so I thought.  Victim was a homeless man.”  Tanya, her face was hard, worried.  She felt they needed warning, she wanted to protect her friend. 

 

Need of Hovlek’s muscle she did not want to happen.  “The perp was twenty three year old man.  Originally it was called a robbery gone bad by the patrol officers.  Things were shit about this mess right from the start.  Who robs a homeless person?”  Tanya stopped and looked between Hovlek and Inquisitor Bait.

 

This Tanya inhaled deep and went on, her time was very limited.  “When I got the victims fingerprints back, I ran his info.  It turns out he was a former military man who ended up in an asylum.  After the asylum closed he was put out on the street.  He was arrested for public intoxication the day he was kicked from the asylum, which closed the same day Harper’s Hardware was blown up.  He was killed… in the back of the remains of the store.”  Hovlek was listening intently to what Tanya was saying now. 

 

“It seemed like a pretty big coincidence that this man, who matched the description of the suspect we were looking for back then, turns up at that location.  So I started looking back into Harper’s.  That’s when Bokham and others got heavy handed with me, ordered me to wrap the case up.”  Tanya looked at the controls for the cart then reached into her shirt and pulled an envelope hidden under her top shirt.  She handed it to Inquisitor Bait. 

 

He stashed the envelop quick after glancing at it, Tanya reached and started the cart again.  “We better get moving, Bokham is already suspicious.”

 

They were in the basement.  This Tanya, friend of Commander Colonel Bait, Hovlek sniffed her from his position.  Yes, this one is smart.  She handed the escort of Bait and Hovlek to another officer, one whom belonged in the area they were now in.  Smart this one.  Bright eyes, thoughts.  She was keeping suspicions down, not letting bastard Bokham see her.  Good thinking miss Tanya.  Inquisitor Bait, good friends he has.

 

Now it was muscle time.

 

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

 

Bait

 

The young officer Tanya Wyler had passed them off to announced them to Bokham then quickly vanished.  It was easy to pick up that this asshole didn’t get many social calls.  Bait could tell Hovlek was already building a dislike for the man from what he had gleaned from his and Tanya’s attitude towards him.  Now it was fragrantly evident, now seeing the man, Hovlek was in full agreement with their descriptions. 

 

“Agent Galt.”  Bokham said with a tight fake smile and a conniving rat voice. 

 

Hovlek sighed.  His head shook slightly.

 

Bait understood that sigh, he had released his own of that type too many times himself.  Hovlek was as aware as he was how this was going to go already.  He read the question, ‘do you want Hovlek to skip to end?’ written on the man’s face when he glanced over after Bokham spoke.

 

Bokham was smug when he continued.  “I’m sorry you wasted a trip here, but as I told your secretary, we’ll need a few days to process your request.  We do have other cases that take priority over cold closed cases, and since I have nothing from the powers that be declaring an immediate need, your request will have to wait until we have time.”  His weasel face formed deep lines when he gave his little rat smile when he finished.

 

Hovlek sighed.

 

Bait’s stance was ever bit as confidant as his adversaries.  His face, just as smug.  “I am the powers that be, and I am telling you personally, we need these records now.”  He stared at Bokham.

 

A soft snicker came from Bokham, looking down at his feet from where he was standing; he shook his head dismissing Bait.  “Divisional Director for department W.  I’ve been in this business longer than you Galt, I’ve never heard of that department, as a matter of fact, no one I contacted about your… department, ever heard of it.”

 

Bait started laughing, not in any restraint, openly and fairly hard.  “Bokham, I don’t give a rats tail section what you were able to find out.”  He stopped laughing, he face stone now, his eyes set and cutting.  “I’m going to have the records I requested.  You have ten minutes and my associate here is going to stay here until you get them for me.”  Bait started to turn his head towards Hovlek.

 

“Bullshit, I’ll have your asses thrown out of here.”  Bokham said, Bait however paid him no mind and continued moving his focus to his warrior.

 

Digging into a pocket, Bait pulled out a can.  “Hovlek, drink this.”  He said handing the can to Hovlek.

 

“What is this?”  He asked with a grunt.

 

“Red Bull, just for you.  Bottoms up, I’ll be upstairs waiting for those records.”  Bait said as he deposited the can in Hovlek’s hand.  As Hovlek looked the can over, he turned and walked from the room while Bokham was on the phone calling for officers to remove them from his office.

 

“Gonna be a good day tater!”  Bait announced on his way out the door. 

 

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

 

“Red Bull, hrm, this is good, yes?”  Hovlek said with a laugh in his voice.  His right leg started to vibrate, then bounce.  “Hovlek feels the need to dance!  Yes, Hovlek dance, you shit stain, you get records for Hovlek Inquisitor ordered you to.  Hovlek going to dance until Lieutenant Bokham give Hovlek records, all records.  Bokham not want Hovlek to come visit Bokham tonight does Bokham?”

 

The door slammed shut behind Bait as he went back to the waiting area.

 

“Bokham getting the records you wanted?”  Tanya asked as he arrived back at the front of the station where she was manning the phones.

 

Bait tittered.  “He doesn’t want to, but he’s going to.  Hovlek has a way of getting people like him to fall in line.”

 

Officer Wyler raised an eyebrow.  The vibrations of a thunderous crash, or something, rumbled from below them.  Muffled yells and some screams captured the attention of those around.  A large boom followed then the feeling through the floor, like that of a jackhammer being used.  Tanya’s face was a mix of worry and question.  Bait looked at his watch and retrieved his radio pack.

 

“Bait to cutie, fire that Sea Stallion up, we’ll be ready to leave soon.”  He said to Sea Mist.

 

We can't get in, he… he slammed the door, it won’t open!  Came from a radio someplace.

 

Several minutes passed, Tanya was frozen behind the bullet proof glass.  Then a less muffled crashing sound was heard, followed by dust and debris that flew across the view down the hallway from the cross direction. 

 

A body flew into the hallway from the ripped open stairwell doorway, several more followed as people were tossed about.  Hovlek emerged next carrying a box under an arm that would have the records Bait requested in it, a large smile on his face.

 

“Hello there.  Oh, no, no, not want to grab Hovlek.  Not a good idea Hovlek tell you so.”  The man’s voice said in a festive manner.  The officer attempting to grapple Hovlek and wrestle him down flew threw an office window as the muscle ball continued on his way to where Bait was.

 

“Here Colonel Commander Bait, the records Bait requested.  Hovlek get them for you.”  He said handing the box to him with a big smile.

 

Bait took the box, his attention was taken from Tanya then and he didn’t see her move out of the office and pull her weapon behind Hovlek.

 

“Freeze!”  She shouted.

 

Hovlek turned fast, he started laughing, then took a slow step towards Officer Wyler.

 

“Stop!”  She yelled, fear in her voice.

 

A shot rang out, Hovlek flinched, his hand had moved.  Extending his arm, he held his clenched hand out towards Officer Wyler.

 

“Here, Hovlek return this to Tanya girl.  Hovlek not want it.  Thank you.”  His deep lighthearted voice said to her.  He stepped forward until he was right up to her, her gun inches from his chest.

 

He turned his hand upside down and opened it, a lead slug fell to the ground.  “Tanya girl could hurt someone with that thing, very noisy, dangerous to humans, Hovlek, not at all.”  He said then grabbed her hand and gun with his right hand and the barrel with his left.

 

Snaps and pops with springs flying out and parts falling to the floor came from the automatic pistol she held as Hovlek bent the barrel up.

 

“There, Hovlek make it safe, now only ceiling in trouble.”  He belly laughed as he turned and walked from her.

 

Bait held the door open for Hovlek, the sound of the Sea Stallion became louder.  He was about to follow Hovlek out when he stopped and looked back at Officer Wyler gawking at them while several other officers were now forming up behind her.  He walked to her then reached into his shirt pocket.

 

He handed Tanya a business card.  With a reluctant hand she reached out and took it with her eyes locked on it.  “If you’ve had enough of this place, I just might have a position for you in my agency.”  Bait said to her.

 

‘Bait’.  That and a phone number was all that was on the card.  Tanya raised her head and looked at her old friend.

 

He was already on his way out the door.

 

Bait climbed into the back of the Sea Stallion with Hovlek.  As he was strapping in Sea Mist took to flight as a swat team of police started coming from the back of the building towards the side the helicopter was on.  Once he was secured, Hovlek tapped him on the shoulder with his hand.

 

“Colonel Commander Bait, Hovlek not need Red Bull, Hovlek know what Bait need done.  Hovlek return Colonel Commander Bait’s Red Bull to him.”  Hovlek said with a mischievous grin.

 

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

 

Snow

 

“Bunny farts!”  Snow exclaimed as she surveyed what used to be the door to the quarters they currently were shacked up in with Hovlek.

 

They didn’t have any spare doors, and crews were far to busy to make one.  Her mate had returned with his records and dropped them on Worm with his in-depth requests and instructions.  Now he was off with Sea Mist to see the old man on the mountain Sir Hovlek insisted Bait visit.

 

Worm had looked out from Bait’s office where she worked when Snow had vented her frustration over not having a door to answer when people knocked.  Now everyone would have to yell into their rooms.  Knocking on stone just didn’t work.

 

“Ma’am, Commander Snow.”  Worm’s gentle voice called to her.

 

Snow looked over at Worm then gave the broken door a final disgruntled look with a flap of her lips then walked to the doorway of the office.  “Yes Worm?”  Snow asked.

 

“Ma’am, why don’t you move your things to the quarters above the command deck, they’re just being used for meeting rooms, and that’s only one at a time and there are conference rooms downstairs as well as a small meeting room between quarters one and two.  Then this could be used for office space that we really need too.”  Worm looked at her politely when she finished her thought.

 

Ever have one of those moments where you realize you’ve had your head someplace it shouldn’t be?  Something obvious staring you in the face that you should have thought of before, and now you get hit with the ‘dumb ass’ feeling towards yourself and it hits like getting kicked in the twat by Fairuza Balk?  Snow shook her head.  She was experiencing a moment like that, again.

 

In all the business of war and trying to shuffle people around to make space, everyone had seemed to miss the fact that there were four perfectly good apartments sitting vacant.  It wasn’t acres of space, but every little bit helped.

 

That started Snow’s locomotive to rumble.  What other small things had she missed that might just add up to bigger things, that might help their situation? 

 

“Damn kid, I’m starting to see what made my lover take such a shine to you.”  Snow’s face broke into a large smile.  “Four more quads is four more quads.  Move us into the big one, bring Hovlek’s gear and get Blade to move them in, Kevashka and Grey, Mud and Morning, that should fill them up.  Let housing know we have four large quads open.  Good thinking Worm!” 

 

“Yes ma’am… three quads and an office quad?”  Worm responded with her voice quirking up at the end.

 

“Right, make sure they know ours has no door.  What did he say to Seven to get him frisketted?”  Snow wandered off in thought while Worm made tracks to get carts to move their gear and notify the others. 

 

Now alone in the pit of papers and books, Snow looked at the stacked piles of folders Bait had piled up.  Clan and den status reports formed one stack nearly to the ceiling.  She let go a deep sigh, she hated paperwork, how could her mate bury himself in it and not lose his marbles. 

 

Reaching for a handful of one of the stacks she said, “Might as well go insane with him, seems to be the trend around here lately.”  Then sat down with the status reports and started reading.

 

Snow’s study time consisted of reading a file, moving to another.  Then, needing to take a break from the reading, she mulled around the papers Bait had piled in his ‘working on now’ heap.  She would then delve back into files and start the process over again. 

 

Over an hour had passed and she was through her third handful stack of files when something in her mind clicked, and a thought sped up onto her mind, colliding with it. 

 

She started rummaging through Bait’s desk, making an even bigger mess of the already out of control mess he had built for himself.  She shuffled through his papers and made her own stack of stuff, then grabbed another stack of files and started reading, only this time she was cross-referencing between Bait’s notes and information in the files. 

 

Time became fluid, irrelevant.  Minutes fell away like raindrops.

 

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

 

“What the hell is that?  It looks like a giant box fan laid on the ground with a cockpit in the center.”  Bait said looking at the ‘plane’ Sea Mist was going to take him to see the old man on the mountain in. 

 

Sea Mist cocked her head as she looked the craft over.  That was a fairly accurate description.  “Yeah, it does doesn’t it.”  She answered then laughed holding a hand out towards the craft.  “This my brother is Hush.  Sometimes I call him my Hush-Puppy, but, the vampires call us puppies so, you know… yeah.  Come on old man, I’ll show you how to get in.”

 

Bait made a face like one would when the fresh strong odor of a skunk crossed one’s nose.  “Can’t we take something a bit more conventional?”  He asked not moving as Sea tried to lead the way.

 

She stopped and turned towards him but didn’t look directly at him, she stared off beside him unfocused as she spoke.  “Look, where we’re going, we have things to avoid.  Things like anti-aircraft guns, fighter jets, surface to air missiles, you know... fun toys you don’t want to be on the receiving end of.”  Sea Mist informed him then started off towards her aircraft with a walk that said she wouldn’t be stopping again.

 

Bait looked at the box fan again.  “Great.”  He said then started off after his sister.  “Just where exactly are we going?”  He asked with a tainted tone.

 

Sea Mist shook her head but didn’t look back.  “Can’t tell old man.  No one is allowed to see where the old man or his mountain are.  You’re lucky, back in the day, you would have had to make this trip blindfolded while trekking cross country and across mountains.  Now you get to ride blindfolded.  Oh, did I mention you will be blindfolded for the flight?”

 

“No, you didn’t, neither did Hovlek the silent.”  Bait was clearly annoyed now.  “I have to be blindfolded for the entire flight?”  He complained.

 

Sea slowed her next step a touch and her head rocked to one side.  “No, I guess not the entire flight.  I do like the idea though.”  Bait could hear the smirk in her voice.

 

The cockpit was at the top center of the fan which had many blades.  The across distance was about forty feet he guessed.  The fan started to turn slowly, he could still see the individual blades as it spun when Sea Mist announced they were going to lift off and to hold on.

 

She pressed a button, the fan burst to full speed in the blink of an eye and the craft shot up.  Sea had them hovering about a thousand feet up then put them into forward flight towards their destination.  It goes very fast’, rang in his mind as they accelerated off.

 

At one point during their flight, alarms sounded, fighter aircraft, missile locks on their box fan.  “Shit!”  Sea Mist ejected then pinned Bait back into his seat as she raced out of their range.  They were safely away from the enemy planes  now.

 

“Oh, duh.”  Sea Mist said once they had slowed down, her face showing she was chastising herself for something. She reached above her head to the center island controls to a switch labeled ‘cloak’ and flipped it to the on position.  Bait watched her from the time she spoke and was now giving her a look.

 

“You just now thought of that?”  He scolded.

 

Snorting at him she retorted.  “Well, normally I don’t need it, because of the human cargo, I can’t go as fast as I usually do.  It slipped my mind.”  She said calmly.  “Hood time for you old man, grab that bag and stick your head in it, before my ass gets in more trouble then you could put me in.”  Her face held a note of worry.

 

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

 

Sea Mist

 

Great, just what I needed, a case of the itchies.  She thought to herself as she descended towards where they would tuck into cover for their visit.  She hated being the only one now that brought werewolves here.  Now her brother-friend was being sent. 

 

She dug a hand into her crotch and scratched hard, then dug into an armpit.  Why did her crotch and pits start to itch like she had a nasty case of fleas whenever she came here?  She knew the answer to that question.  Because too many times she left alone, her passenger suffering the price of their fate. 

 

Ones that were summoned, seldom returned and only about half of the willing visitors returned.  No one ever spoke of it, and only the bishops and the immortals knew of the old man.  Old man, now she felt bad for calling Bait that all the time.  But, was he summoned or was he a willing visitor?  Neither fit his case actually she thought as she hovered low and slowed to a near crawl. 

 

Hovlek had recommended, strongly, that Bait visit him.  This was different, different was usually a good thing, wasn’t it?  It seemed to have been lately.  She would try and keep her spirits up.

 

Leaning forward she took in the images before her as she slid Hush under branches of large trees that no longer had their own leaves on them.  They were instead covered with vines which created a covered entry into the cave just past the canopy of trees.

 

Though he couldn’t see, he could clearly tell by the sounds around him that the pilot was doing some tight maneuvering.

 

“You’ve done this a few times haven't you.”  He said casually. 

 

Sea Mist’s head moved about as she surveyed her surroundings then finally brought the craft to rest and began powering down.  “You can de-bag now.”  She said, though her comment was supposed to carry a humorous edge, her voice killed it.

 

She flipped a few switches and the part of the cockpit they sat in started lowering down to the ground.  Once on the ground in the darkness of the cave, Sea called out for lights and gave her identity.  The claps of large switches energizing clacked and echoed through the cave, then light slowly started to burn its way to them from above. 

 

Ahead of where Sea had landed was a large cavern with a lit path.  They followed the path and came out on a small carved ledge on a mountain side.  They started out and wrapped around the front of the mountain which sloped straight up above them a good two hundred feet still.  The air was very thin.  They couldn’t remain, they were well over twenty thousand feet, Bait wouldn’t last long out here. 

 

It took them twenty minutes to reach the path down into an oasis in the frozen tundra of the mountain they were currently in.  As they headed down, Bait could clearly breathe easier, and the air started to warm.  At the bottom of the path, the air felt tropical, the land was a lush green teaming with birds and other small animals.  Here a stone walkway began, leading them towards a small cabin with a fire burning in a ring pit in front of it and outside cooking gear around.

 

Sea Mist stopped, she knew Bait would notice she had stopped right where the stones of the walkway changed colors.  That was her marker, she could go no further.  There was a rock seat just off to the side she would sit on and wait.  Wait for either the old man to tell her she could go home now, alone, or for Bait to walk out.  This is where they would find out if he was really the Inquisitor, or if her sister was the smarter of the two.

 

“Come, come on up.”  The old man’s voice called.  There he was, he had been on the side of the cabin.  “You too Sea Mist, this is your time as well.”

 

Oh no, the itching.  Her twat burned now, her pits, oh shit they hurt from the itching!  She wanted to grab the hair under her arms and rip her pits clean out! 

 

She was walking.  She was right beside Bait, she couldn’t help it, she just started walking when he did.  She wasn’t going to piss herself now was she?!  Bad, that would be very bad to happen right now.  Her bladder didn’t feel any pressure.  She felt empty, but that wouldn’t matter.  Her body would find a gallon of the stuff all of a sudden. 

 

The burning itch!  It hurt to walk, her skin was starting to feel hot now, her head felt light, swimmy.  He called her in too!  Always only one entered, she never went past the color change, that’s what she was told.

 

“Inquisitor, welcome to you friend.”  The old man said as he met up with them.  “Sea Mist, bout time I got your nasty ass in here.  Bout to piss yourself aren’t you hairball?”  He laughed coldly.

 

He seemed to enjoy seeing her squirm.  Several times, when he came to tell her she could go, he would point at her with a crooked finger and say ‘one of these days, your nasty ass will cross this line, looking forward to that day I am.  She hated that.

 

Bait cleared his throat, crossed his arms and looked at the old man.  “Hovlek told me to come see you.  Here I am.  I’m not impressed.”  He said in a very metered voice.

 

This got the old man’s attention, his head snapped to look at her commander faster than his age said he should.  Clearly he wasn’t expecting bold snarkiness.  It actually helped her.  Bait wasn’t going to take any guff. 

 

“No, I’m not about to piss myself, you however, you might be the one pissing himself tonight.”  Sea shot back matching Bait’s stance.

 

The itching stopped cold.  Slight feeling of moisture just to let her know it really happened.  Calm.  Crossing her arms gave a way for air to reach her pits.  The cool air on them felt good.  Her own scent was rather sweet now.  Good.

 

The old man turned from them and started towards the fire.  “Sit.”  He said when he turned to face them again and took to one of the wooden chairs around the fire.  Three had been set up.  Sea had always seen only two by the fire from her vantage point.  One clearly had not seen the weather the other two had.

 

“Okay human, why do you bring your stink here?”  The old man opened with.

 

Clearly his mock pleasantries had no effect on Bait.  He could sense the nasty in the old man.  It wasn’t his fault that he was so nasty though. 

 

Bait was coiled tight.  “I told you already, Hovlek told me to come talk to you.  Now if you don’t have anything for me, then we can leave just as fast as we came.”

 

The old man snorted.  “You’ll leave when you’re allowed to leave.”  He said holding Bait’s stare.  “You’re inquisitor powers have no hold over me boy.”

 

Bait snorted back.  “Neither do your dark powers hold anything over me.”

 

Sea Mist looked back and forth between the two men quickly.  “Excuse me, dark powers?”  Her confused voice asked.

 

“Sea Mist, bitch, I can smell you from here.  May I sniff you?”  The old man asked.  He ignored the expression from Bait.

 

Sea shrugged.  “Sure, sniff away.”  She said as she parted her legs and raised her arms leaning back in the Adirondack chair.

 

The old man came quickly from his chair to her, first sniffing the air around her before planting his face between her legs and inhaling deep, backing up with a pleased look then burying his face again and taking in her scent.

 

“There’s some good sniffin up here too!”  Sea Mist said enthusiastically. 

 

The old man raised his head, sniffing up her body without touching her then engaging her nearest armpit and sniffing it hard and long.

 

“Purity I tell you!  Gash-ah the scent of it, purity!  Smell that boy, give her a sniff.  Calm she is now, the purity in her, ah, intoxicating.”  His face was jubilant as he spoke then returned to sniffing Sea Mist’s armpit.

 

“I say old man, you sure know how to give good sniff.”  Sea Mist said giggling.

 

He broke from her pit and looked her in the face.  “Back in my time sweetness, back in my time.”  He said laughing again.  “You, boy, come see what I mean, get your face in there, sniff that other pit.  Humans.”  He ended shaking his head in disgust at Bait.

 

With a shrug Bait moved to Sea Mist’s un-sniffed armpit and gave it his best shot.  He had no problem sniffing Snow.  Fragrant.  Sweet.  He sniffed harder, and again, soon his face was as deep as he could get it into Sea Mist’s armpit.  She giggled. 

 

The old man pulled back and pushed Sea’s head to one side exposing her neck, he licked her along her jaw line near her ear.  “Purity!”  He declared again.  “Taste it!  Know it.”  He said and tilted Sea Mist’s head exposing Bait’s side of her neck to him.  “Taste, purity, clean.”  He pointed to Sea’s neck again.  “The scent gland on her neck, lick it.”

 

“It’s okay brother, this is a normal thing in werewolf culture, you shake hands, we sniff.  The licking is a bit more personal, but you are my brother, so it’s more welcomed from you than him.”  Sea stated.

 

With a nod and understanding the hidden part of her request, Bait licked her scent gland area.  He looked at the old man.

 

“That’s why she wasn’t allowed to come any closer.”  He said.

 

The old man nodded.

 

“What?”  Sea Mist said sitting up.

 

“Your mouth please, may I?”  The old man asked Sea Mist.

 

She snorted a happy snort and looked at him with a half cocked smile.  “Really?  Sure go for it!”  She said and thrust her jaw out with her mouth wide open.

 

The old man pressed his face into her open mouth and inhaled hard, backing from her when he had his lungs full.  “Purest of pure, not tainted like her sister, no, pure like you Bait.”

 

Bait looked at Sea.  “He’s my opposite, in a way.  He’s on the dark side of the judgment balance.”

 

“Toad.”  Sea Mist said slowly and softly.

 

The old man bowed.  “Toad I am, slime-ball werewolf.  Say it with some respect.”

 

Bait and Toad returned to their seats and Sea Mist adjusted herself now that she was done being sniffed.  I’m pure.  She thought to herself.  She wasn’t tested for purity, she was asked to be sniffed.  There wasn’t any question as to if she was pure, only the desire to admire it in her, her purity was why she was never allowed in until now.  But what is this Bait meant about his opposite?  Vampires are judged?

 

“So what’s this he’s your opposite?  Incase a vampire does good or something?”  Sea Mist asked, not being snippy, just blunt.

 

“Something different than that, it’s complicated.  Now, what is it you seek?”  Toad said.

 

Bait leaned forward.  “You tell me.  I got the feeling, your ass is on the line here too somehow.  Cut the bullshit.  What am I seeking?”

 

Toad looked at Sea Mist ignoring Bait for the moment.  “I’m trapped in the dark shadows, a creature of light trapped, cut off, poisoned by the environment I am forced to live in.  I am guilt.”  He said sharply.

 

Looking back to Bait he went on.  “You know what you're looking for.  That damn book.  Ripping libraries up, what did you think they were looking for?  Bricks?  Sithe Vakried, his book.  Now you know its name, won't help you much really.  It was hidden, kept safe.  It’s an illegal book.  Your question is where is it.  You need to find it.  You know where it is.  The old man started yelling pointing at Sea Mist.  You, you were supposed to be with her, not the vile one.”  , He turned back to Bait.

 

“You, not you, Night Harvest, he did this, the others went along.  Everything changed, now the books aren’t right.  This book, Sithe Vakried, the bishops, they ordered it destroyed, but it disappeared.  They questioned the author, suspecting he didn’t want his work destroyed, but he had nothing to do with it.  The book was hidden, you, you know where.”  Toad made sharp pointing motions towards Bait.

 

Bait stared off at the man.  He knew where?  He didn’t know anything about any book that had been stolen and or missing.

 

“You gave up something, to be what you are now, something you’re not supposed to be able to be.  What is it you gave up?”  Toad asked Bait.

 

Bait looked at the old man, his face pulled into a questioning look.  “What do you mean?  I gave up a lot, more like it was taken from me.”

 

“No, no, not material things, things that matter, personally, what did you have to give up?”  He explained.  “Snow-job, she hasn’t made her choice yet, right worm food?”  Toad said harshly, clearly vexed that Bait wasn’t faster at figuring out what he was driving at.

 

“No, for me it was easier than it’s been for her.”  He said somewhat distantly.

 

“Yeah, and why was that?  What choice would a werewolf have, either take your place as Trustee, or don’t, what choice is that to a werewolf?  None.  That’s what it is.  Sacrifice, what did you sacrifice to be what you are?  You had no choice, the choice was already made for you.” 

 

Bait looked up suddenly.  “Freewill.”

 

Toad started nodding.

 

It became clear now, Sea Mist caught on right along with Bait.  There was no choice to a werewolf if the options were be the Trustee as your supposed to or not, you automatically accept.  There was only one option that would allow Snow to walk away.  Her choice was whether or not she wanted to keep her freewill.

 

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

 

“Hey… Snow… you okay?”  Bait asked when he walked into the back office of what had been their quarters, currently now being set up as office space.  He would be relocating his office again.

 

Her head popped up from the piles she had built.  “Oh, you’re back already?”  She said looking around then back to Bait.  “Oh, wow, I didn’t realize I’d been at this so long, think I see how you get lost now.”

 

He didn’t say anything, watching her he stood waiting. 

 

“Sorry about the mess I made of… your mess.” She motioned to the piles.  “I just had a thought and started looking.  Got carried away.”  She said.

 

Bait nodded in understanding.  Snow smiled, she could read the thoughts behind his smile.  She had her own dots now.

 

“I think I might have a solution to our numbers problems, maybe.”  She informed him.

 

“Oh?”  He said then grabbed a chair and pulled it up to where she was.  “Do tell.” 

 

“Unregistered clans, I’ve been looking over the reports from clans on members that have left, you would call them conscientious objectors.  They go and start their own little den, not affiliated with any named clans.  They exist outside of our little world.  Bait, tens of thousands of werewolves have left.  They have to be living somewhere, and not with humans.”  She looked expectantly at him.

 

He dazed off for a bit.  Twitch, Cody, had spoken of unregistered dens.  Worm and her family had come from one and traveled to many others to help as needed.  Formal werewolf operations had no records of them, no contact, nothing.  If Worm’s family, Twitch, and others were able to move about in these dens, then there had to be some network of communications between them.  A way to find these dens and the werewolves in them.

 

He started nodding.  “You’re right, I noticed the same thing, didn’t work on it like you did, and I think we need to have a visit with Cody and our newest royal family.”

 

Snow raised an eyebrow and started nodding as a smile grew on her face.  “I’m with you, oh and speaking of Worm, she has these files for you.  She marked this one urgent.”  Snow reached over and under one of her piles and pulled several folders out, with a red one on top.

 

Bait opened the red folder and started reading.  “Son of a bitch, I knew it.” 

 

“What?”

 

Bait pulled a picture from the file.  “This is a homeless man that was found shot to death a few months ago.”  He pulled another picture out.  “This is the suspect I followed into Harper’s Hardware Store, the same man some twenty years earlier.”  And he looked the same age.

 

Bait went back to flipping through the folder.  “This asylum, there’s that logo again.”

 

He looked from the folder to Snow while she dug through more papers.  She was a werewolf; she couldn’t have freewill, and remain a werewolf.  Did she already have freewill, or was that the choice, to accept it?  Bait thought about how the old man said it.  The question was, how long had she had freewill?

 

How could he talk to her about it?

 

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

 

Ruth

 

Ruth slinked into Alexander’s tub room, there was pleasant laughter of women.  Was Fyodor here?  Was that music?  She moved in as obscurely as she could, avoiding being seen, using pillars to hide her as she closed in on the tub her master was in.  Only he wasn’t in the tub, he was beside it, at a desk.  He was laughing.  Was he having fun?

 

“This is wonderful, so much fun!  I should’ve tried this years ago.”  Alexander was saying to the three women around him watching what he was doing.

 

Alexander being social?  Saying something was fun?  What the hell?  She’d smoked some herb on the way over, it wasn’t laced, she hadn’t drank or done anything else.  She was clear headed, this wasn’t a dream, what was up with her boss? 

 

The light patterns dancing across his face caught her attention.  He was smiling, happily.  All of the braziers were lit and free standing candles were in the room as well as more torches then usual. 

 

Blinking Ruth tried to take in what she saw, Alexander sitting at a computer, and he appeared to be… playing a game.

 

“Ruth!  Dear sweet Ruth.  Come, join us won’t you?”  Alexander called out to her.  In her stunned moment, she forgot she was trying to hide.

 

It took her a moment to break her eyes from the screen of the computer.  She glanced around and stammered.  Her eyes shot to the eyes of the women with him, now looking at her.  Their eyes confirmed her confusion.  This was something new and just as shocking to them.  She would have to keep her guard up even more.  Something was amiss.

 

“Ah, yes… yes my dark master.”  Ruth managed to say hiding her chagrin, then walked to her master, stopping about five feet from him, just in case.

 

Alexander rose from his seat, looking at her with compassionate eyes.  That made her even more nervous as he came to her, and gently touched her cheek.  “My precious Ruth.”  His eyes held kindness.  He raised his other hand and cradled her face and smiled large at her, then pulled her face to his as he kissed her deeply and with passion. 

 

Her knees almost buckled.  A fog hit her mind, she widened her stance, his tongue was in her mouth and he started caressing one of her breasts.  It felt good.  His other hand went to her ass, he gave it a gentle, solid squeeze then broke from his kiss and smiled down at her.  “Please, you are my friend, yes, you are, call me Alexander, I miss hearing you call me that.  Would you like some wine?”

 

Ruth almost threw up.  Has he been sniffing fairy asses or unicorn farts or something?  “Sure, boss… Alexander.”  Her eyes flicked to the computer screen.  “So… what are you doing there?”  She asked.

 

Alexander’s face lit up and a gleeful look came over him.  “Oh, World Of Warcraft, ever played?”  He said in a gingerly voice.  He stared back at her gawking face, his eyes went to the computer for a moment then back to Ruth.  “Would you like to try it?”  He squinted at her  “Are you alright dear?”

 

Ruth pulled herself together and forced her composure.  “I’m fine, yes, I’ve played, used to have my own account back… at college.”  Back at her college.  She was almost forgotten there, she had kept tabs via emails as to what was happening in her old world.  She was planning a visit.  This had distracted her.

 

“Oh, we could get another computer brought in here, we could play together.”  Alexander said politely to her.  His head moved a bit as he looked at her face.  “Maybe… a hot tub ride?”  His voice was almost shrill in question as he tried to figure out the expressions on her face.

 

Closing her eyes Ruth shook her body.  Alexander’s kiss had actually aroused her.  It actually had passion in it.  She needed to focus.  Her master clearly had too big of a frog on his Lilly pad.  She needed to try and get his focus onto relevant things, at least long enough to give his orders she would use as a cover for her own schemes.

 

“Master Alexander, we have the artillery you requested ready, we just need your orders for the targets you want hit.”  Ruth said breaking the fun loving monster smile from his face, but he still looked pleasant.

 

He looked off for a moment and rubbed his chin then looked back to Ruth with a smile.  She was really starting to hate that smile.  He started caressing her face… and her again.

 

“You are my best second ever.  I shall leave that matter in your ever capable hands my dear.  Do what you think is best to accomplish our goal, brake the puppies backs.”  He said then laughed, this time more normal with a devious tone.

 

“I could use Fyodor’s help then.”  She blurted out, wishing she could’ve caught herself before her thoughts rushed from her mouth.  Too late.  This would surely enrage her master.

 

His friendly, scare the frell out of me smile returned.  Ruth’s stomach rolled.

 

“Of course, if Fyodor you need, then Fyodor you shall have!”  Alexander exclaimed as he pointed a finger up in the air.

 

“Great!”  Ruth said as she brought her hands together in front of her, arms extended as she leaned forward some and moved her body awkwardly about not sure of what to make of this situation or the fallout from it that was sure to come when Alexander was off of whatever happy-shit he was on. 

 

“Well, I should be going.”  She laughed nervously and looked around.  “Lots of things to take care of for you master, Alexander… bye.”  She stammered at the end then made a hasty retreat to where the door out was.

 

Opening it she hurried through as Alexander watched her go. 

 

Closing the door behind her she put her face in her hand and leaned face first into the wall across and exhaled hard.  She hadn’t any idea what had flipped his switches.  She didn’t have time to worry about her deranged boss right now though.

 

Tonight she needed to return to her old world and say goodbye to a few friends.

 

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

 

There was going to be a big party on campus, her sorority was part of it.  Since she was still on the email and twitter lists, she had received her invitation.  In her absence, a new queen bee had risen from the septic tank that had once been her upwardly mobile life. 

 

Not that she cared about college campus life anymore; she didn’t care for how she was replaced and spoken of after she seemingly vanished.  Online she had kept up with her courses, she would still be able to receive her degrees, though now it was pointless, something in her just needed the closure and to finish what she had started.

 

Tight black leather pants and V necked leather top with a light leather jacket over, spiked collar on her neck and killer high-top boots.  With her new complexion, makeup for the gothic look wasn’t as much work as it had been.  When she fed from Alexander, her hair went jet black along with her eyes.  She had always preferred this manner of garb.  She did miss the attention the honey blonde had brought to her, it made her look more… friendly.  Now however, the natural black of her hair fit with the black inside her and her feelings right now.

 

She finished with her eyeliner and brushing on the blood crimson lipstick as the only contrast to her black, white and chrome appearance.  The finishing touch.  Her college friends would have to look hard to see the Ruth they used to know in the new Ruthless.  Being dead did have one advantage, pushing lip rings and a tongue stud into place was easy and painless, for the most part.  No bleeding.

 

Stepping back she surveyed herself in the mirror.  Stunning in a dark manner.  She swirled her head around to make her hair flow.  She gave a smile to herself in the mirror.  She looked ominous.  The look would serve her well tonight.

 

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

 

She left well before sundown, having a day walker of her own design drive her in the back of the blacked out car to where she would be partying tonight.  She wanted to be at her destination as soon as it was safe for her to walk about and get a lay of the land, and mingle, before she met her old friends, for the last time. 

 

Seeing her like this, their rejection of her would be instant. 

 

Her limo traveled through the campus unnoticed.  It was a common occurrence, and there were several others around as well.  No one noticed hers. 

 

Partying was already happening on most of the lawns and yards around the campus.  Students milling around with drinks and joints in hand.  Dark was set in, she had her driver park away from her sorority and towards the back of the campus area.  She didn’t want to run into any of her clique to early, there were others she wanted to see first on more personal matters.

 

She got out of the back of the limo and started across the lawn towards one of the main buildings.  She was coming from the direction that science geeks and nerds walked, their sororities were on either side of the building she was heading towards. 

 

In this building she would find her only real friends on campus, oddly enough, the rejects with brains.  She preferred smart people, she could’ve make it into their sorority academically with ease, but she had been playing a different game. 

 

She stood at the door, ‘Science and Technology’ was embossed on the glass of the door.  She couldn’t remember who the hall was named after. 

 

In the basement she would find Melvin.  He had come from Africa when he was fifteen.  His cool dark features and the smooth silky way he spoke with that south African accent and calm smile, made her weak in the knees at times.  Because of their social circle differences, she had never made a play on him. 

 

The situation had changed and she could use him.

 

“I thought I would find you here Melvin.”  Ruth said with her fun voice. 

 

Melvin looked up from his computer and squinted as he looked to the sound of the voice.  It was obvious he recognized the face, but her attire was clearly setting him off.

 

“Ruth, girl, my friend, this is a new look for you.”  Melvin said as a smile of recognition grew on his face.  He stood and came to her and kissed her on the cheek.  “You’re cold girl, how about a nice cup of java to warm you?”  He asked as he continued to take in the sight of her.

 

She stepped into him, grabbed him and pulled him towards her fully engaging his mouth with hers.  Melvin stepped back, breaking her kiss and pushing her back with his palm mid-chest on her.  “I’ve always wanted to do that.”  She said in a husky raspy voice.

 

“Whoa there now girl, what is this new side of you?”  He backed from her waving a hand side to side with his palm at her as though keeping her at bay. 

 

Ruth let go a sighing laugh.  “I’m as good as graduated now.  Sorority and college life is over, I can go after what I want now without worrying about the politics of college life.”  She said in answer.

 

“And going after what you want includes me now?  Is that how it is?”  Melvin answered with a hint of cold steel in his voice.

 

Ruth looked down when she heard his words.  What she said didn’t sound flattering to him or sound good for her. 

 

“Now I am good enough for you, now that your friends don’t matter?  Is that what I am hearing from you?”  Melvin said returning to his desk and sitting down with his hands behind his head.

 

Ruth looked at him.  “That didn’t sound like I wanted it Melvin, and don’t go all bullshit on me either.  You know how it is here, we moved in different circles.  You had to play your part just as much as me to fit in here.  How would it have worked for you with your friends and sorority if they saw us hanging together and dating?  Same thing that would have happened to me with mine, we both would have been ostracized for seeing each other.”  She looked back at him with her own perspective on insight.

 

He was shaking his head at her, his eyes damning.  “Rue, my friends, if they had found out we were dating, would’ve been happy for me, some would have even congratulated me on bagging the queen.  But no one, not one, would have looked down on me for being with you.” 

 

Their worlds were different.  Ruth thought back to her gothic days with the freaks and weirdoes. 

 

She had forgotten about the third group, the geeks and dorks of the schools.  They had inadvertently become her allies in taking on bullies and jocks at whatever school she had been at, she had skirted on the outside of their circles, not wanting to be included with them.  Truth came into view.  She had come into her new high school world as a reinvented unknown woman. 

 

One of the new friends she made in the high society clique became friends with one of the geeks, he was the highest GPA in their school, headed for MIT and a big career in science.  Ruth along with her friends hazed the girl and effectively tortured her when it was found out the two had been dating.  She was given the choice, him or them. 

 

She endured the bias and loathing from her former friends to be with the man she had chosen that wasn’t acceptable by their standards, he wasn’t the high society type.  Her vision had been clear, she chose him, wisely.  They were married now, kids, and her man, was a great father, husband and provider.  He had graduated college three years before Ruth, and had already made his first million.

 

Ruth looked down again.  None of the boyfriend’s friends chastised him or gave him ultimatums.  They were happy for him, as well as worried.  Ruth was as bad as they were, both sides, only the geeks standing out from the herd.  Her vision was clear now, now that it didn’t matter. 

 

“I made a mistake.”  She said then looked to the side and regained herself.  “Hate me for it.”  Her voice strong again.  “I need you, I have an offer for you, to make up for the wrongs I have done to you.”

 

Melvin’s eyes came to lock with hers.  Even in her dead heartless form, she could still see in his eyes the feelings he had for her, not quite love, but it could easily be urged into it.  He desired her, even more now in her current dress.  Good, she was counting on that. 

 

“And just how do you intend to fix these wrongs?  You better have something big for this.”  Melvin said sounding interested.

 

Ruth turned her back to him as she stepped around the desk he sat at to come to his side, turning her diabolically smiling face from him at the same time.

 

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

 

The campus always looked so much different at night, much better.  Ruth strolled around watching the activities, accepting invites to join in some drinking or smoking.  The people inviting her didn’t recognize her.  She was on her way to the front yards and where her people would be.

 

“No shit, no way, that can’t be… no frelling way.  Ruth?  Goldstein?  What the hell happened to you?”  A female voice she recognized called over at her as she passed.

 

Ruth turned and looked at Gretchen.  She had been Ruth’s dark counterpart, the gothic wiccan queen.  All the geeks fawned after her, except Melvin.  She tucked her unlit cigarette into her earflap, she always had a cigarette in her hand, though she didn’t actually smoke.  It was only to add to her image as a bad girl.  As she looked at Gretchen’s face, Ruth thought of Snow, they had some similar features.  Same fetish for ear piercings. 

 

“Gretchen.  What’s the matter?  Got something against goth chicks?”  Ruth said as she faced off with the woman.

 

Gretchen laughed, rolling her body back and exaggerating her amusement with an arm across her belly.  “Oh please, don’t even go there, you of all people.  I’ll kick you so hard in the cunt your uterus will come out your mouth.”  Gretchen said then reached and pulled a small dagger from her boot and advanced on Ruth.

 

She put the dagger to Ruth’s throat.  “Just because you dress like one of us, doesn’t make you one of us or mean we’ll accept you, we know what you are.”  Her voice was cold, Melvin was right. 

 

Ruth sighed.  “Either kill me or screw me, make up your mind.”  She said as she looked Gretchen in the eyes.

 

Gretchen blinked fast a few times, her hand faltered as she held the dagger.  “Never thought I would hear those words come out of your pristine mouth.  I should do you right here.”  She said as she pushed the blade tight into Ruth’s neck.

 

Ruth relaxed her stance.  “Gretch, I’m sorry okay.  This is the real me, not the dumb assed bimbo that stormed around this campus ruling like a queen.  I was always jealous of you.  I mean, you could be who you really were inside, I had to wait until I was done here, I had to hide.  I had to play their political game.”

 

Closing her eyes and opening them slowly Ruth look to the woman’s eyes with a sigh.  “Gretch, I was only using them so I could have a better future, a better career.  I wish I could’ve been like you, I would’ve much rather hung out with you then Julie ‘silicon chest’ Kendalson.”  When she finished she made a long face and looked to her feet with her hands meekly clasped in front with her fingers aiming down and shuffled her feet.  

 

She thought she looked sincere enough.

 

This was as close to telling the truth Ruth had come in a while now.  Before, she’d been many things, a liar wasn’t one of them.  Blunt and honest.  Now she danced around the truth with sultry words and gilded promises with dark and nasty truths. 

 

Part of her actually wanted to tell Gretchen how out of place she felt in the popular clique.  That she had been one of the freaks before high school, that she missed hanging with them and had wanted to many nights when she watched Gretchen and her friends congregate and socialize; and be a part of their group.  That Ruth wished she could just simply walk over and join them. 

 

Ruth raised her head and looked Gretchen in the eyes again.  “I’m sorry for what I did to you… especially the kick in the head thing after the ice cream… I was… out of line, and a bully is what I was.  I just wanted to hang out with you, wanted to be free to be me like you were instead of hanging out with people I had nothing in common with.”  Ruth held her breath. 

 

She expected to burst into flames at any moment.  She told the truth.  Was that even allowed by vampires?  But then again, she was using the truth with an ulterior motive.

 

Gretchen and Ruth stared into each others eyes for several minutes, each trying to read the innermost thoughts of the other.  Gretchen trying to catch any sign of lies, any trace of honesty while Ruth was doing her best to convey emotions she no longer had.

 

Ruth took the initiative, stepping into Gretchen and to her side, she lightly kissed her on the cheek then backed up and looked down with her hands clasped in front at her waist. 

 

“Shit”  Gretchen scoffed pulling the dagger away; then turned away from Ruth taking the cigarette from behind her ear and flinging it away from her.  With her back towards Ruth, she pulled a joint from her front chest pocket and a lighter from her black leather skirt, fringed with chains and lit up.  She took a drag and quickly released it, waved the joint around in front of her then puffed it a few times before taking a full drag from the joint.

 

She still had her back to Ruth and couldn’t see the smile on her face.  Had she, it would’ve made her thought process faster, Ruth was smiling with honest emotion.  Ruth had picked up on the effect her final action had on the woman she had been a major pain in the ass to.  It felt good to be forgiven.  Forgiven.  Could she ever truly be forgiven now?

 

“Frell.”  Gretchen bit out as she released her smoke.

 

She turned to Ruth, looked at her for a second then handed the joint to her.  Ruth took it and hit from it.  Gretchen spoke her piece.

 

“I can’t believe this shit.  Miss high fruity toottie pants here, decked out like a dark mistress here.  Smokin’ the evil weed, right here, this place, this is where it happened.  Remember the pillowcase over my head, remember what you and your ‘friends’ did to me… and to Markus?”  Gretchen’s voice was cold and accusing, and well it should be. 

 

Ruth remembered what had been done, she also knew the inside why. 

 

Markus was secondary, and she actually had nothing to do with what happened to him.  She had left her friends all riled up from what they had done to Gretchen, they acted on their own against him.  She would have called them off.

 

To her friends, raping a man in the ass with a lubricated plunger handle was the perfect end to the night after they had duct taped Gretchen then secured her between two columns in the front of a frat house that was known for its lesbian members. 

 

Her feet were at least two feet off the ground, tied with rope to keep them spread, her mouth kept quiet with  silver silence, duct tape.  Why?  Their rivalry was the reason given, and her cronies were very eager to humiliate the gothic queen of the bitches.

 

The real reason for Ruth was because she simply wanted to see Gretchen naked.  She was curious, wanted to see if her mental images of the young woman were correct.  To her pleasure, they were.

 

She hid her secret desires to be with a woman, from herself and especially her friends.  Even though they spoke in favor of gay issues, being friends with ‘one like that’ was strictly limited to ‘very casual’ contact and most certainly not someone who’d be a regular with their clique.  Her secret desires were specifically for Gretchen.  Melvin, Gretchen, might actually be a fantasy that she might be able to work out now, would be a fun threesome.  Ruth mentally slapped herself back on track.

 

She couldn’t afford to let her past consume her and chide her with regret.

 

Gretchen passed the joint back to her.  Ruth took her turn as the two stood side by side in silence.  They were down to the roach now, the rest of Gretchen’s friends had been standing back leaving the two to themselves.  They started moving back in around Gretchen and when she put the roach out, a boy lit another joint, told her what flavor it was then passed it to Ruth.  By the time the joint made its way around the first time everyone was gathered as usual with the addition of Ruth. 

 

Watching as conversation returned, there was a relaxed feeling that followed.  They just melded around her, not fully trusting her, but accepting her enough to let her hang with them. 

 

The reverse would never happen with her… former friends?  Was she coming full circle, was she going to try and bring her college enemies into her ring of, servants?  Would be a definite improvement over anything Alexander or his cronies turned, at least recently. 

 

From the mixed up jumbled mess of memories, she got the impression that quality had diminished over the decades. 

 

“Well, I have some old friends to pop in and say ‘hello’ to.”  Ruth said as she looked off in the direction of her old fraternity. 

 

Gretchen sighed and looked at her, a couple others had the same look as she on their faces.  Ruth was going to meet up with the high society bitches dressed like gothic freak show girl.  They were thinking she was putting herself up for a real blasting from them for closure and to tell them off. 

 

There seemed to be a form of respect for her in them now, grasping the feelings they perceived as why she hid herself and that she could now cast off her cocoon and fly free.  Well, that did sound more poetic than ‘fed up with the bullshit, ya’ll suck ass, hope you all die painful deaths’.

 

Again with the truth, and she didn’t burst into flames.

 

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

 

Ruth was crossing the last twenty yards or so to where the new Queen of the Campus stood with her four court members. 

 

They had yet to recognize the now black haired leather bound predator approaching as the former Ruth of recent memory.  Her nipples hardened, her crotch became dewy.  Light beads of perspiration shaped and glistened on her upper lip.  Her arousal wasn’t sexual, but it was primal.  A certain need was about to be met.

 

Julie had her back to Ruth, her royal court alerted her to her approach with their dumbfounded gaping mouths and dimwitted look.

 

“Oh… my… god, you’ve got to be kidding me.”  Julie joined her friends in the retarded looks being given her.  “Is that… it is, what the…”  Julie waved her head around shaking her blonde hair around and regaining her composure while taking on a snotty pose.  “Isn’t this just wonderful, Ruthie decides to show back up and looking her best I see.  What happened, daddy cut off your credit cards?  Or are you dating a puke punk band now?”  Julie shouted out at her. 

 

Ruth stopped, she was about fifty feet away.  She held out her hand towards Julie and motioned with a finger for her to come closer.  Julie chortled then started blinking and rubbed the sides of her head.  She looked back to Ruth and smiled and resumed her ditsy blonde persona again and came to her like the old friends they used to be.  Her gate was normal and friendly and she giggled like she was happy to see Ruth.

 

When the two were face to face Julie said, “It’s so good to see you, I’ve missed you Ruthie” then wrapped her arms around Ruth’s neck as the two embraced and kissed.  The four queen’s court girls watched in stunned amazement.  Ruth moved her head beside Julie’s and the two hugged as Ruth whispered in Julie’s ear.

 

Julie stepped back from Ruth with a contented look on her face, her eyes distant and vacant.

 

“You know what to do now, right?”  Ruth asked softly.

 

Julie’s head nodded slowly and she smiled showing her perfect bright white teeth.  Had anyone been close enough to hear what Ruth said, her voice would have sounded normal, to Julie however, it was hypnotic, it sounded like two or three people with voices of deeper and deeper octaves were speaking to her mostly through water.

 

“I want to make you happy.”  Julie said with a creepy pleasant smile. 

 

“Good, I have a gift for you to share with our friends... you want to share with them right?”  Ruth asked, her voice reverberating in Julie’s mind.  Pulling out on her skirt at the waist Ruth pulled a dagger from her belt.  Its blade was wide at the base and very sharp.  The starlight and streetlamp light reflected off the sharpened area of the edge of the dagger.  Julie smiled happily as she looked at it.

 

“Take it, enjoy it.”  Ruth said as a sadistic smile crept onto her lips.

 

Smiling big and loosely, Julie reached out with both hands and delicately took the dagger Ruth offered her.  “It’s beautiful.”  She said mesmerized by the sight of the dagger.  She was truly charmed.

 

“I want to share.”  Julie said as she looked Ruth in the eyes with a giggle, her voice like her eyes, distant and void.  She looked like she had found nirvana. 

 

Keeping the dagger out of sight as she turned from Ruth and faced towards her friends, Julie walked with her hands behind her back, dagger firmly gripped in her right hand pointing down.  One of the girls started towards her at a quick pace, shortly followed a few feet behind by another.  They would be the first and second runners up to the queen.  Her two hand maidens stayed behind and whispered between themselves.

 

“Julie, are you alright?  What the hell just happened there?”  The first girl said to Julie as the two approached each other. 

 

The girl stopped a few feet in front of Julie, the other girl following was about ten feet away and still coming towards them. 

 

Julie walked right to the girl and put her left arm around her neck and pressed into her embracing her.  Ruth watched the girl’s confused face as she tried to figure out why Julie was hugging her and feeling the moment was awkward. 

 

Julie pulled her as close as she could, her right hand came forward.  The girls face changed to shock as Julie’s hand went between her legs and ran up her thighs. 

 

The next expression made Ruth smile as Julie forced her hand between the girls thighs near her crotch and jerked her hand up as the dagger blade turned in and pressed into the girls leg, slicing it open,  severing the femoral artery.  Her expression spoke of sudden realization, panic, fear, horror.  She was bleeding out while Julie held her tight once more, a final squeeze before she released her, bringing the dagger behind her again and changing the position of the blade for its next use, and victim.

 

The first girl slumped forward catching herself with her hands on her slightly bent knees.  As she did, the blood pouring down her leg from the wound spurted hard onto the ground.

 

To most of the partiers around that might see, she looked like she was about to hurl. 

 

The next girl in line and Julie were almost to each other.  Julie’s pace had increased while her second runner up had slowed hers.  She was looking at the first girl when she spoke and pointing timidly towards her.

 

“Is she alright?”  She squeaked.  Her prey instincts were starting to warn her, unfortunately for her, they weren’t honed in any way.  It would be too late for her when what was in the primal part of her mind was understood by her conscious mind.  “She’s not going to… Julie!”  The girl shrieked and started pointing at Julie, more specifically the middle of her dress near her crotch.

 

“I… I think you started early.”  She stammered.

 

Her eyes shot over to the other girl, she was dead now and about to fall once her body realized it was over.  The signs of death rattles were starting to show.  There it was, reality just set in.  Julie saw it too, now that her mind was in line with Ruth’s.

 

Julie’s hand came forward and up, the blade connecting with the second girl in the pelvis, deflecting off from the bone up and into her abdomen.  Julie jerked her hand up abruptly bringing the blade to where her ribcage started while bringing her right arm around the girls waist and pulling her close and smiling like she had just won a prize at an amusement park.  Her second victims face now a vision of shock and betrayal, questioning why. 

 

“Cindy!”  One of the two left behind girls screamed as the first girls hands slipped from her knees as her body convulsed mildly and she tumbled forward.  One of the two started running, the other close behind her.  It looked like the last girl could easily outrun the first but she was staying behind.  Her instincts were kicking in too.  Disbelief was clouding her grasp of what was actually happening.

 

Julie released her hold on the second girl as Ruth turned and walked away and behind a large evergreen to make her way into the shadows.  She would watch from Julie’s vantage. 

 

The second girl fell to the ground as soon as Julie stepped away.  Girl number three was running hard towards Cindy, (girl number one) and was paying no attention to Julie or the falling body of her friend. 

 

As she approached, Julie flipped the dagger from her right hand to her left, the girl was just about to pass her when Julie stepped sideways into her path holding the dagger, point out towards the running girl.  She looked at Julie with shocked disbelieving eyes as the blade plunged into the girls heart.  Her eyes went cold as Julie pulled the blade from her.

 

The fourth girl was more observant.  She was the dedicated follower of the group, the true scared rabbit.  She changed her steps mid stride, trying to avoid Julie.  She was already closing on the girl at a full run.

 

Julie was a track star.  She countered the rabbit’s evasive attempt well, catching her head on.  She crouched as she came into the rabbit, bringing the dagger in hard near the girls stomach and stood fast and with all her strength. 

 

Intestines and organs fell with the contents of her stomach and the blood of her life.  Ruth broke her charm on Julie as her hands traveled into the chest cavity of the rabbit, hoisting her up on the dagger as it went through the top of the girls chest cavity and out the back of her near the base of her spine.  Her body lurched as Julie pulled the blade from her friend.

 

you’ve murdered your friends… how can you live with yourself?’ echoed in Julie's mind.  It repeated itself over and over as she was freed from the control of Ruth who by now was on the other side of the campus as sirens started crying out as they approached. 

 

Others were staring and watching the carnage now, realizing there were four corpses nearby.  Some decided to run away, other simply started casually walking away not wanting to attract the killers attention.

 

Poor Julie.  She looked around then down at her bloody hands and dagger she held.  She started gasping and hyperventilating as she looked at the front of her white dress.  The red sash around her waist no longer standing out in the darkening crimson intrusion on the fabric.  All five girls had dressed the same for the party.  She killed her friends, why?  Looking around Julie went into a panic, the sirens were very close now.

 

you’ve done a horrible thing, you must punish yourself for what you have done.  Murderer!  Julie heard in her mind.  She looked at the dagger, around at the people fleeing her sight.  She started sobbing.  Her eyes returned to the dagger, holding it point towards herself she positioned it over her heart.  right there chicken-shit, shove now, you murdered your friends!

 

Julie shoved hard, the dagger pushed through her ribs until the bones at her back stopped the blade's travel.  Julie jerked the blade from her chest and looked at it. 

 

Blood shot from her chest, she could feel it inside her as well, pumping into her body cavity where blood wasn’t supposed to be.  It was taking longer for her to die.  She hadn’t driven the dagger in to the hilt like she had done with the girl she stabbed in the heart. 

 

She felt weak, she was faint.  She felt herself falling.  Her hands slipped from the dagger as she fell forward.  Her eyes a dim fading understanding of what happened before the blade of the dagger emerged from the back of her head as she impaled on it, finishing the job.

 

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

 

‘meet me at the balcony’ Ruth typed into the text message box of Julie’s phone she had lifted from her when she handed her the dagger.  Last on her list for tonight’s campus slaughter, Bing. 

 

Samson Bingham.  Football team quarterback and captain; also Ruth’s former boyfriend.  He had quickly upgraded to Julie when Ruth went AWOL from her post as queen bitch.  He had no remorse over her loss.  Now was his time to remember her for the rest of his life.

 

The stage was set, everything in order when Bing came to the balcony fully expecting to see Julie there instead of Ruth.  She had set up a wrestling mat and removed a section of the railing.  It was thirty feet to the gym floor from here. 

 

“Ruth, what the hell.”  Bing said as he walked in and looked her over.  “What happened to you?  Get kidnapped by a circus?”  He said pointing at her with a chortle. 

 

“Bing, nice to see you recovered so well from my loss.  You must have ran yourself ragged looking for me and worrying.”  Ruth said with a voice of razors.  She started to walk around Bing as he looked at her.

 

Bing looked a little nervous now.  “I was worried.  Nobody knew where you went.  Police are still looking for you.  I was worried, baby, I was heartbroken.  Really, I still am.  You never even said goodbye to me, just took off.  Then you show up here, blaming me.  You’re the one that disappeared.  If anyone has anything to explain it’s you!”

 

Why so scared?  Does the little weasel smell a bigger predator in the chicken coop?’ Ruth thought to herself.  He was trying to turn with her as she circled him, her circle became smaller, soon she was at his back inches from him.  She ran her hands to his front and caressed his chest and kissed the back of his neck.

 

“You know I can’t resist when you do that.”  Bing said to her, his voice told her he was smiling.

 

Ruth smiled.  “You’re right, it was rude of me to leave without saying goodbye.”  She told him then turned him to face her.  “Want to say goodbye now, here?”  She asked then licked his cheek, bringing her tongue to his earlobe and flicking it with the tip of her tongue. 

 

Bing started laughing and running his hands over her back to her butt.  He leaned to her and kissed her. 

 

“You don’t need to worry about Julie, she’s with Cindy and the others.  She won’t be bothering us here.”  Ruth said as Bing reached to her front and started undoing the snaps on her shirt.

 

He chuckled again.  “Yeah, she’ll be there with them all night.”  He ripped her shirt from her, pulled the shoulder straps of her bra down and ‘helped’ her get her arms through.  Then he spun her bra around so he could undo the hooks.  Once he had her free of her bra he looked at her chest and eventually made his way to her face.  “This is a new look for you.  What brought this side of you out?”  He chattered at her.

 

Digging his fingers into the waist of her skirt, he jerked it to her feet in one movement with her panties.  “Get those off would ya.”  He stated with a point to her panties and skirt then started taking his clothes off.  Such the romantic. 

 

Once both were naked, he shoved her down on the mat she had placed, like so many times before.  If she hadn’t placed the mat before he arrived, she’d get done on the cold hard floor and he wouldn’t care.

 

He managed somehow to get her off twice.  A man that knew what he was doing would have had much better success.  Like many well hung men, Bing had no talent to use his stick, or tongue.  He was fine if you just wanted to get bent in half and hammered on.  Anything beyond that, he was worthless. 

 

He was just about there, she could tell.  This was the best part about Bing, he provided a lot of cream filling.  She felt his first blast inside her.  The warmth!  Life!  It felt wonderful, so alien to her now.  He pushed deep inside her again and gave her a second shot.  The warmth of his cum ran up inside her, filling her with the sensation of warmth.  Her hips bucked and Bing popped out of her sending his third and final stream spraying up her stomach and chest. 

 

The warmth and feel was fantastic. 

 

He was in a post orgasmic daze, she clouded his mind.  No need to waste energy on charming him.  Sitting up as she lowered her legs and letting the now cool fluid run from her, she wrapped her legs around him and leaned in and licked his nipple.  She ran her hands up his sides, his eyes closed.  Perfect.

 

He was unaware as she slipped the noose over his head and down onto his neck.  She stretched up and kissed him good while she reached up and tightened the loop and positioned the thirteen wraps of the oiled rope in position.

 

Ruth leaned back and looked at Bing with disgust.  He laughed again.  Ruth freed his emotions. 

 

“What kind of guy screws another woman right after his girlfriend kills her friends and herself?”

 

Confusion.  “What?”  Bing said, his face twisted and moved as her words registered.

 

“I said, how can you live with yourself now?  You broke up with Julie and she went nuts and killed four of her friends then herself, and you drag me up here and use me like a trampoline and your girlfriends bloody remains aren’t even room temperature yet?”  Ruth said to Bing with a convicting tone.

 

He stood up, not noticing the rope around his neck, Ruth had his mind well clouded.  “Julie?  Julie’s dead.  What happened?”  He stammered looking lost, like he couldn’t follow the thoughts in his head.

 

“Yes.”  Ruth smiled.  “Julie’s dead.  She killed her friends and herself with the dagger you gave her as a token of your love for her.  She used your gift to murder four girls with, you’re even more guilty than she is, aren’t you Bing.”

 

Bing started nodding.  “Yes, I am.”

 

“The police are going to be looking for you Bing, everyone knows you gave her that dagger, and the LSD she did tonight.  You gave her the LSD didn’t you Bing.”  Ruth started nodding yes, Bing soon followed suit.

 

“Yes, I did.  Because of me she killed…”

 

Ruth cut him off.  “The cops are coming Bing, you need to go.”  Ruth stood up now, the last of Bing flying to the floor with the air she pushed out when she stood.  Now for the last of him, permanently.  That’s the price you pay for trying to replace Ruth.

 

“What should I do Ruth?  I need your help, what should I do?”  Bing started to cry as he spoke.

 

He was scared now.  He believed the police were coming for him.  Ruth smiled again.  “Run, that way!”  She said with urgency pointing behind them into the dark.  She pounded on the floor with a foot.  “They’re here, run!”  She yell urgently and looking towards the door.

 

“Shit!”  Bing said then turned and ran the direction Ruth pointed.

 

“Shit you will as soon as you run out of rope." She laughed mirthfully. "I assure you Bing, you are going to shit all over the place.”  Ruth started laughing even harder as she watched Bing run off the edge of the balcony through the section of railing she’d removed.  At the last moment as his body descended he turned to look at her, his mind clear now.  Ruth would savor that look for many years to come.

 

The rope went taunt.  Less then a second later a splattering sound rose up to the balcony.  Ruth smiled to herself again as she reached between her legs and removed the female condom she had used.  She was still able to feel his warmth, but there was no way she wanted him inside her.  She cleaned the mat and made sure she left no trace of her being there, then she left to meet up with Gretchen and friends.

 

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

 

She was almost to where she was supposed to meet up with Gretchen and her man Drake.  Who names their son Drake anyways?  Morons as far as Ruth was concerned.  He was cool though.  The only issues between her and him were because of Ruth’s issues with Gretchen.  She was pondering to her own amusement the naming of children when she caught movement behind and to one side of her.  She moved fast.

 

“Oh shit, I’m sorry, crap, Ruth, you scared the ba-jeezes out of me.”  Betsy Miller said when Ruth popped out of the shadows onto her taking her to the ground.

 

“Betsy, what the hell…”  Ruth said mildly ticked at her as she got up.  She reached down and helped the timid girl up.

 

Betsy Miller, she had been Ruth’s shadow in college.  Anything Ruth wanted her to do, Betsy did, the only thing she seemed to want in return was to for Ruth to allow her to hang around.  Everywhere Ruth went on campus, Betsy followed. 

 

She would greet Ruth every morning with bagels and coffee, just the way she liked it.  Ruth was annoyed to see her shadow again at first.  Now, she found herself taking a good hard look at the girl.  She was mousy, that was a given.

 

“What the hell are you doing following me?  How in the hell did you even know I was here?”  Ruth growled at her. 

 

Betsy dropped her head and messed with her hair and fidgeted with glances up at Ruth  “I saw you when you handed the dagger back to Julie, before she went nuts and…”  Betsy just connected the truth.  “Oh, I…”

 

 “Why do you dress like that?  You should show yourself off more.”  Ruth said to Betsy abruptly moving off the current topic.  She moved in close to her shadow.  The girl made no effort nor gave any indication she intended to run, was thinking about running or was in anyway afraid of Ruth.  Blind acceptance.  This realization stunned Ruth some. 

 

Betsy laughed shyly.  “I’m a double A, there isn’t anything to show off.  Look at me, I’m a stick.”  She said as she motioned to her chest with her hands and tried to look back at her bottom.

 

Ruth snorted and started unbuttoning Betsy’s shirt for her.  “Take that ugly thing off, leave the black thing you have under that on.”  Betsy took over removing her shirt after she said ‘yes ma’am’.

 

Ruth undid her collar and removed her leather top shirt.  She put the shirt and collar on Betsy then turned her around.  “You wearing a thong or what style?”

 

Betsy nodded.  “Thong.”

 

Ruth pulled a knife and slit her jeans right below her buttocks, then frayed the edges of the cuts.  “Your ass is small, but it’s firm and round, this will let you show that part off.”

 

Betsy snorted and laughed embarrassed.  “Oh, I think you’re wasting your time, guys like boobs and pretty girls, like you.  They don’t notice me.”

 

“Bullshit!”  Ruth returned as she worked more on Betsy.  “You’ve got a nice tight hard body, guys love that, trust me.  When it comes to tits, guys always talk about the big ones, but in the end they all just want to see ‘em no matter what size they are, then they want to ram the head they think with in you.”  Ruth stood back and looked at her a moment.  “You know, you would really look good fully gothed out.”

 

Betsy giggled and covered her face.  What the girl needs is some confidence.  “So, what are you going to do after you graduate?”  Ruth asked absent mindedly.

 

“Oh, I’m probably not going to graduate this year, doctor Hamilton said my thesis was weak and lacking.”  Betsy’s face showed how crushed she was telling Ruth this.

 

Ruth had noticed the prettier girls passed his classes without much effort, while the less comely ones that worked their asses off, like Betsy, always came up short. 

 

“He propositioned you yet?  Have sex with him for a passing grade?”  Ruth asked bluntly.

 

She had read him when she first walked on campus.  Slime.  He knew his shit wouldn’t work with confidant women, so the timid scared plain geeky girls were his targets.  He used wallflowers for his pleasure, dangled their degrees in front of them to get his way.

 

Betsy lowered her head and started nodding fast and whimpered.  “Yes.”  She answered in a quiet pained voice.

 

“Have you let him yet?”  Ruth asked, yet, that was the main question. 

 

Ruth read the situation.  Big party going on, winter break time was here.  Everyone would be leaving soon to go back home or on vacation.  It was past two in the morning and Betsy was out, she was either coming back from meeting him, or going to.  It was strange to her now, but she hoped for the latter.

 

“No.”  She answered while shaking her head fast.  Betsy started crying.  Ruth waited for her to talk again.  She had a lump in her stomach.

 

“That’s where I was going now.  He scheduled me third he said.”  She informed her friend.

 

Ruth could guess who numbers one and two were.  He’d already defeated the lesser girls, probably has a few on retainer for extra credit.  Betsy would’ve been the hardest one to convince, therefore, he would treat her the worst for making him wait.

 

Ruth looked at Betsy and gave her the best good friend look she could.  “How would you like to get your revenge on the good doctor?”

 

Betsy’s head rose quickly, there was a sparkle in her eyes as she nodded quickly.  She snorted.  “Yes, I would, I really would, but how?”

 

“Come to work for me, it only costs you your life and your soul and you get immorality in exchange.  The best part is, you can get whatever cock you want, whenever you want cock.  The hottest guys, yours to control and do you the way you want to be done.  All that for serving the Darkness.”  Ruth informed Betsy.

 

She scoffed at Ruth.  “Bullshit.”

 

Betsy shook her head, her eyes moved around fast for a second then she came to Ruth and started kissing her neck and placed a hand on her breast and started massaging.

 

Ruth let her go.  Betsy backed away from Ruth and gawked at her, her face red from embarrassment.

 

“You’d never come on to a girl like that would you Betsy?”  She asked.

 

Her head shook, Ruth could tell she wasn’t ready for spoken words quite yet.

 

“You saw me hand the dagger to Julie, you saw what she did then too.  I made her do it, I made her kill her friends.  I enjoyed it.  You want that kind of power don’t you my friend.”  Ruth was intense now.

 

“Yes, I do.”

 

“Then all you need to answer is this, do you give your life and soul in service to the Darkness?”

 

“Yes.”  Betsy answered with a somewhat distant voice.

 

“You look good in that outfit now, you probably don’t even need my powers to get laid.  Why don’t you go and try it out.”  Ruth motioned with her head.  “Some hot guys that way.  Go on, you’ll see.”  She encouraged.

 

“Oh, so, that’s it then?  Or is there more we do later?”  Betsy asked.  Her eyes darted around, she looked unsure.  She clearly expected to be Ruth’s next meal.

 

Ruth smiled.  “Don’t be in such a hurry, there’s much more.”  She nodded off in the direction she said the hot guys were again, basically directly away from Ruth.

 

Betsy smiled shyly looking down.  “Oh, okay, I thought you were going to bite me or something.”  She said then turned and started walking in the direction Ruth had told her.

 

Ruth spoke in a faint whisper.  I am going to bite you.  I just find myself liking you and don’t want you to remember seeing it coming.  Then she thrust her jaw out and extended her fangs as she leapt the short distance Betsy had walked, her fangs sank into her friend’s neck a heartbeat later. 

 

She never saw it coming.

 

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

 

Thomas Hanks

 

Sheriff Hanks looked around the office, everyone was welcoming him back.  It had been explained to them he had been injured on the job and his office readily accepted what had been told them by human services.  He had left House Squat and his new commander late in the afternoon.

 

“Welcome back Sheriff.”  James said as he came walking up to him with a humble regretful look.

 

“Thanks James.  Good to be back.”  He said as he looked his deputy over.  This time with different eyes, and this time with attention to his scent. 

 

The two men stood looking at each other.  James was trying to find the right words to say.  He was feeling guilty for the rift between Thomas and himself, he wanted to set things right.  So much had changed in the last week. 

 

His radio pack vibrated.  He pulled it from his waist and looked at the display.  He did want to talk to James, but that would have to wait.  “We’ll talk James, when we’re on patrol together, alright?”  Thomas said to him holding up the smart phone and giving James a nod.

 

James nodded back and turned away from the Sheriff understanding the call was important.  “About time you finally got into the modern age Sheriff.”  He said with a nervous smile looking at the smart phone radio pack in Thomas’s hand then finishing his turn and walking towards the booking area.

 

Sheriff Hanks sat down in his chair after he closed and locked the door to his office.  This would be something new for his staff to see, his office door closed and locked.  But times, they were a changin’.  He looked at the radio pack again as it vibrated.  He swiped his finger across the display then put his thumb on the reader and answered the call.

 

“Lord Night Harvest.  Sheriff Hanks here sir, how can I be of service.”  Thomas said, another change in life.  A new boss.

 

“Hello Sheriff Hanks, please, call me Sebastian, I prefer that over my formal name.”  He told the Sheriff.  He seemed to want to keep their relationship more casual.  “Are you alone in your office?”  He asked nonchalantly.

 

Thomas nodded before he spoke.  “Yes sir, actually locked my door for the first time since I took office here.  We can talk.”  Then the line went dead.

 

Sheriff Hanks took the radio from his ear and looked at the display.  ‘Connection Ended’ was on the screen when a wind hit the office.  Standing he looked at the desk and had his hands poised to stop papers from flying around, but nothing moved, the wind was felt by him only.

 

“Sheriff Hanks.”  Sebastian said standing in the office, the wind stopped as he became visible.

 

Thomas stared at him. 

 

“You’ve heard of shadow stepping now right?  Let’s just say, it’s an ability I have a lot of experience in.”  Sebastian said with a smile.

 

Nodding the Sheriff sat back down and looked at Sebastian as he took the chair in front of the desk and sat, straightened his suit, then looked to Thomas.

 

Sebastian cleared his throat.  “Sheriff Hanks, I need to know your intentions, here and within our organization.  As a member of Clan Westbridge, certain expectations have been made.”  Sebastian looked to his lap for a moment then up before continuing.  “Corn Stalk would be having this conversation with you normally, but I have asked she let me speak with you.”

 

Sheriff Hanks nodded.  Connie, aka Corn Stalk had told him when he was brought back home that the Grand Inquisitor had asked to handle his case.  Thomas didn’t like being the special attention of the boss, not in the human world, and most defiantly in his new werewolf world.  He would have rather spoken with Connie.

 

Sheriff Hanks cleared his throat this time and leaned in on his desk towards Sebastian.  “It is my intention, your Grace, to serve Clan Westbridge right here as Sheriff.  Connie, like me, doesn’t think things are finished here yet.  Beyond that, vampires have set up shop in my county, I took an oath to protect these people, nothing has changed for me there.”  Sheriff Hanks held his hard stare on Sebastian.

 

Leaning back in his chair, Sebastian smiled.  He liked Sheriff Hanks, pure dedication to service.  There was very little personality change in him, and humans would never pick up on what had changed in his personality. 

 

“I know.  That is why I am offering you a position where you can do more, as a special agent over several counties.  We need your abilities and knowledge of human law enforcement to watch over the area.  I’m sure it isn’t a consideration to a man of your caliber, but it comes with a nice pay bump too.”  Sebastian smiled tightly when he finished his offer.

 

Sheriff Hanks raised his arms up from his elbows resting on the desk to his face with one hand cupped over the other under his chin looking into Sebastian’s eyes.  It was a good offer.  Sebastian was right though, the pay increase was irrelevant to him. 

 

Corn Stalk, Bait, Snow, Sea Mist, Hovlek and even Worm had had a meeting with Sebastian before he left.  They had all gathered in their commanders quarters before Thomas was brought home.  They had a good heart to heart.

 

Thomas sighed.  “Sebastian, I appreciate the offer.  I’m new to… this life, but I’m happy where I’m at.  Was as a regular human, am now.  These are the people I have chosen to protect.  I gave them my word when I took my oath of office, nothing has changed there.”  Sheriff Hanks stood from his desk, bent over and opened a drawer and pulled out a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label.  He held the bottle gingerly in one hand looking at the bottle with a smile.

 

Setting the bottle on the desk he shot Sebastian a look that said ‘give me a minute’, picked up the phone receiver on his desk, and punched a button.  “James.”  He said into the speaker. 

 

“Yes Sheriff.”  Came in reply. 

 

“My office please.”  Thomas asked. 

 

“Right away Sheriff.”

 

Thomas motioned for Sebastian to unlock the door and he did, a few moments latter James walked into the office.

 

“Sheriff.”  He said with a nod looking at his boss then to his visitor with a questioning look.  He hadn’t seen the man enter.

 

“James.  This is yours now.  For medicinal use only.  Helps after a bad day.”  Sheriff Hanks said and handed the bottle of fine liquor to his largest persecutor.  Turning he reached for the two glasses stowed on a shelf behind him then handed those to James with the bottle.

 

A confused look remained on James’s face.  He wasn’t sure why the Sheriff was handing his liquor off to him.  It was the sort of thing a large city chief of police or commissioner might do to the son of an old friend moving up the ranks and taking over for the older generation.  Was the Sheriff leaving?

 

“Thanks Sheriff.”  James said meekly.  He may not understand his new Sheriff, but he did understand there was some deeper meaning to this act inside Thomas.

 

“This is Director Sebastian Night of INTERPOL, he is working with myself and this office on special operations, very top secret stuff James.  I want to make sure he receives every cooperation from our office.  That means, James, I am taking you into my confidence.  No one else in our office knows about his involvement.  That’s why I am asking you to make sure if I’m not here, any orders or request he makes of this office, are followed as if I gave the order myself.  That’s where I need your help James.  Can I count on you?”  Sheriff Hanks said to his young deputy.

 

Sebastian hid his smile as James looked over to him and gave him the look over again.  He liked this Thomas, he saw what the man was doing.  One by one he would use his experience and friendships with other sheriffs to secure a route of information and help.  This was better than simply placing the man in authority over them, willing cooperation yielded better results than forced.

 

James started nodding.  “Sure thing Sheriff, I’m on board.”

 

“Good.”  Sheriff Hanks said giving his deputy an approving smile that also said he could leave now.

 

Nodding James took the bottle and glasses, gave Sebastian a nod then left the office, reaching back and locking the knob as he did so with one final look back to his Sheriff before he closed the door.  There was an understanding between he and Sheriff Hanks now.

 

“He seems like a good man, maybe a bit rash still with youth, but a good man.”  Sebastian commented.

 

Sheriff Hanks scoffed with a smile as he sat back down.  “Yes, Jimmy’s a good shit all things said.  Been nothing but a pain in my ass ever since I won election here, beat his daddy out of the office.”  He sighed deeply.  “Glad it was me instead of him.”

 

Sebastian nodded.  Thomas had shown him his intentions, made his plays out in the open and taken care of any problems Sebastian or their people might encounter with his office.  With James backing him now, he would see to it everyone helped because Sheriff Hanks wanted them to.

 

Sheriff Hanks leaned over and reached to the duffel bag he had brought to the office and unzipped it.  Reaching inside he produced two wine glasses then a bottle of merlot.  He uncorked the bottle and poured some wine into the two glasses, sealed the bottle, placed it where the whiskey had been then placed one of the glasses in front of Sebastian.

 

Thomas took a sip of the wine, set his glass down and looked at Sebastian.  “So tell me Grand Inquisitor, why are you really here?”

 

Sebastian picked up his glass, looked at the liquid inside and swirled it around in the glass as he watched it.  “Blood Rose, seventeen-forty-two.  A Hovlek handcrafted wine.”  He said as Sheriff Hanks nodded in answer, then he drank from the glass, savored the flavor a moment, then set the glass down and looked back to Sheriff Hanks.

 

The two men talked for a good two hours.  James’ knock on the door broke their conversation.

 

“Sheriff, after what happened at the Galt place, I talked with an old high school friend who’s the assistant DA in Riker County.  I’ve had him keeping an eye out for any cases that were, different, if you catch my drift.”  James said once the door was closed.  He gave Sebastian a look, he seemed to want him included.  Sheriff Hanks smiled.

 

“Good job James, what’ve you got?”  He asked.

 

James looked at the folder in his hand, then at Sebastian and handed the file to him as he was between himself and Sheriff Hanks.

 

“May I?”  Sebastian asked when the file was in his hand.  Sheriff Hanks nodded at the file with an approving look.

 

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James proved to be a very sharp kid.  Sheriff Hanks had him pull their cruiser out, and he had James drive.  He sent James off in the direction of Galt Labs. 

 

James had put a bug out for information on any vandalism or crimes involving libraries, including private libraries.  His DA friend had provided a copy of something that happened in his county where the reference section of the county library had been ripped up, as well as the library of a collector of rare books that were kept at a house in the area. 

 

But there was more. 

 

Inadvertently, since there was similarities, James’s DA friend also included information on state files where similar crimes had been committed.  James had breezed through the references before coming to the office.  He noticed two of the cases involved a man named Duncan Arthur Galt, and a Donavan Omar Galt.

 

“Why we coming way out here?  This is Galt’s business place.”  James asked.

 

Dusk was setting in.  James was about to drive around the building.  “Stop!”  Sheriff Hanks yelled.  He looked over at James.  He should have come alone.

 

“Stay, inside.”  Sheriff Hanks said to his deputy as he looked over at him with worry clear on his face.

 

There was no argument from James.  No questioning.  “Sure thing Sheriff.” 

 

Thomas got out of the cruiser and went to the trunk.  He returned to James’s side of the car with a shotgun in hand, sawed off short.  James opened the door.

 

“James, listen carefully.  You need to stay in the squad car, take this.”  James took the shotgun.  “If anything, I don’t care what, if anything or anyone comes at you, open fire, no hesitation no question, start blasting.  This is automatic, and I mean full auto.  You hold it in their direction and hold the trigger, got it?”

 

James nodded.  “Count on me Sheriff.”

 

Sheriff Hanks went back to the trunk, this time he removed a camera.  He walked over to marks on the ground that James would have driven over had Thomas not seen them and stopped him.  He snapped a picture, moved to another vantage point and shot another.  After he had enough photos for Inquisitor Bait, he returned the camera to the trunk and climbed back into the squad.

 

James looked over at him with a suspicious look.  He was holding the shotgun and had been looking at the topside of the barrel.

 

“I’ve seen this mark before.”  James said.  He pointed to the makers mark.

 

Thomas knew the owner of that mark now.  Patriarch Boxtemmill the Seventeenth.  “Where James?”  He asked.

 

James looked towards the building Galt Labs was housed in and nodded in the direction of the building.  “I can show you, but I’d have to get out of the car.”  He informed the Sheriff.

 

Thomas looked out the window then rolled it down and gave his nose to the wind.  Night was on them now.  It smelt safe.

 

“What is it Sheriff?”  James asked with honest question.

 

He continued to look at the building.  A week ago he would have sent James out on his own, now he didn’t want him out past dark.  He didn’t want to have to reveal the new him to his deputy, but he claimed to have seen Seven’s makers mark.  He needed to confirm this, both Lord Bait and Lord Sebastian would want to know.

 

“Alright James, keep that shotgun handy,  and stay in front of me.”  Sheriff Hanks said before he opened the door and got out of the car.

 

He waited for James to get in front of him, and he kept his keen werewolf eyes pealed.  James led them to the main entrance door and pointed to the security system keypad next to it.  There it was, plain as the nose on your face. 

 

James had seen the logo before and Bait had probably never noticed it.  Beside the round keyhole that was below the number pad, embossed in the metal it said above the mark ‘Boxx-Seven Systems’ then his makers mark.  Thomas nodded.  They wouldn’t need to keep as close of an eye on Bait’s business, that was clearly handled.

 

“Alright James, back in the car, we won’t be needing to come back here now.”  Sheriff Hanks said still looking at the mark of Seven. 

 

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They left Galt Labs and drove back to town on their way towards the home office, which naturally would take them by the old Galt place as it had become known as.  Sheriff Hanks had ordered changes in the patrol schedule and issued new orders on engagement.  Many of his deputies were questioning the orders, oddly, James had no questions and was mostly silent during their drive.

 

“What’s on your mind James?”  Sheriff Hanks finally asked as they were doing a patrol through town.  Olivia’s Café was just closing down.  They had picked up the last cup of coffee for the night from there and were back in the car.

 

“Nothing sir.”  He answered with a quick glance over to Thomas as he pulled the squad car around the backside of the buildings.

 

Sir.  In the last three plus years not once had James called him sir.  Was James seeing the changes in his boss?

 

“You’ve been awfully quiet James.  Didn’t even question my orders on the new patrols.  That’s not like you Jimmy… sorry James.  What’s on your mind?.”  Thomas ended with a hard tone.

 

They pulled slowly along the back of the buildings, James was looking intently as he patrolled.  Sheriff Hanks was uninterested, he knew there was no one around.  He could smell that.  They finished the run down the backstreet and pulled out onto the main road that would lead them out of town and on the way past the old Galt place. 

 

“There’s nothing on my mind Sheriff, you did what you felt was best, you’re just trying to keep us safe and the public.  Your orders made sense.  That’s it sir.”  James finally answered back.  Now that his eyes and attention weren’t on the job. 

 

Sheriff Hanks looked over at James and considered him, how he was acting now and his scent.  He hadn’t been a werewolf long, but he didn’t need any advanced training in smells to know that James was trusting him. 

 

Something changed in the man.  James had seen something, and that something had his senses on high alert.  Thomas’s own disappearance played into this he felt. 

 

Human services had provided a cover story, the Sheriff was injured during a call and was recovering well and would be back soon.  Due to the nature of the case, contact with the Sheriff was limited.  James hadn’t bought the story.  As was his nature, Thomas suspected James had done some digging. 

 

Something caused the change in his deputy.

 

They were approaching where the turnoff to Bait’s old house was.  Sheriff Hanks noticed James eased up on the throttle.  He kept his eyes on the road, but continued to let the vehicle coast after he had taken the cruise control off. 

 

They had dropped to forty miles an hour now and James finally put some throttle down, only enough though to maintain their present speed, but he never looked off towards Bait’s house.  Sheriff Hanks did though.  He was going to ask James to slow down, but there was no need.  James didn’t want anything to do with the place, but he had picked up that the Sheriff did.

 

“Stop.”  Sheriff Hanks said, James flinched and hesitated before he hammered the brakes. 

 

Thomas hesitated himself before he got out of the car.  James still didn’t look in the direction of Bait’s house, he didn’t want to at all.  Thomas saw small lights moving, lights that were out of the spectrum of human eyes.  James seemed to sense they were there, he was scared, the smell was erupting from him, but he had slowed the car and stopped despite this fear.   There was this new trust coming through.

 

Sheriff Hanks climbed out of the car and walked around the front to James’s window which he rolled down but didn’t look at him. 

 

“James…”  He started.

 

“You can call me Jimmy if you want Sheriff.”  James said still looking forward out the windshield. 

 

Sheriff Hanks sighed.  “James, keep that shotgun with you at all times, don’t hesitate to use it okay?”

 

James nodded once.

 

“Good, now I want you to stampede this thing to the station, no siren, just get to the station fast and stay there, then I want you to call this person and tell them where I am.”  He said handing a business card to James.  ‘Connie West’ was the name on the card with a phone number. 

 

James looked at the card, a question written clearly on his face.  “She works for… Galt.”  Thomas had to be careful, he almost slipped up on the names, this would take some getting used to… again.  “Just tell her you work for me and she’ll know what to do, alright?”

 

James’s face was hard.  He nodded just as hard.  “No problem there Sheriff, straight to the station.  You can count on me.” 

 

Sheriff Hanks nodded as he leaned against the frame of the door where the window would be with both hands.  What had James seen?  What did he suspect about him now?

 

Sheriff Hanks straightened from the window of the squad James was in, sighed then turned and started walking towards the old Galt place. 

 

“My dad’s going to run against you this year.”  James said in a cold voice.

 

Sheriff Hanks stopped and turned a bit towards James and looked back.  “Oh?”

 

There was a moment of silence, James was looking out the windshield again with his hands firmly on the steering wheel.  His jaw was clenched and his knuckles were white.

 

“I just wanted you to know, I’m voting for you.”  He said with conviction in his voice, looking at Thomas when he finished speaking, the same conviction was in his face and eyes.  James locked gazes with his boss, Sheriff Hanks held it for a moment then looked to the ground next to the squad car and started slowly nodding.  He thought for a moment then returned his eyes to James.

 

“Thanks.”  Thomas said then turned and walked off towards Colonel Bait’s old house as James blasted away in the squad car.

 

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Bait looked up from his papers towards the sound of Seven coming to him through the demolished door of the quarters which were now being converted to needed office space.  Most of his files had been relocated to the new quarters which conveniently had a hidden office above them.  Squat had later informed him of that fact.  Werewolf construction was an efficient use of space.

 

“Your Grace, I have it, all of it from the Clay’s, and not an inkling I was there and scampered through.”  The smiling face of Seven said as he approached then rapidly entered the back office.  He was clearly excited.

 

“Great.”  Bait answered as he turned in his chair to face Seven.

 

“I found some things you might be interested in, I made note of them as I acquired.”  Seven said then started pulling large volume USB drives from his pockets.  Three in all.  “They are packed full.  Well, except for the last one, but that is mostly full, and these are some large babies here, but I put some stuff on this flash drive. Some things I thought might be hot items for you.”  Seven had been busy.

 

Bait looked at the portable drives Seven set down on his desk, then took the fourth small flash drive from him.  He had more he wanted to say.  “And?”

 

Seven giggled, he was enjoying himself, he had been crafty.  “Interesting things really, you were looking into construction of dens, prisons mainly, most dens have plans for building a den, but the Clay’s, they have the original design plans.  Dens and prison both, and that’s not all, they have plans, the actual prints of dens that have been built, specifically closed dens, ones that have gone under.  All the information on them.  This prison seems to be a point of interest in these records.  And, there is something else that’s amiss.” 

 

Seven paused, his head cocked to one side as he looked up and to the side, accessing his thought process.  Bait perked up.

 

Seven scoffed as he considered the information he was about to reveal.  It bothered him.  “Interesting thing, reports from Clan Frost, filed by Beautiful Flower herself in the clan’s name.  Nothing really, everything looks… normal except, the reports are still being filed.  Communication reports from Lord Squat and this very den.  Beautiful Flower is talking with Squat.  Our taps on his communications have picked up nothing, your Grace.” 

 

Bait’s face held a grievous look.  He wasn’t looking at Seven, rather behind him.  Seven turned his head, Teagan was standing behind him, he didn’t know she was there talking with Snow.  She had walked up to the door of the office when she heard Seven start talking about reports from Clan Squat.  She was staring at Seven and finally looked to Bait.  Her face was locked in shock.

 

“You’ve been monitoring Squat’s calls?”  She said with a voice from a mental fog.

 

Bait nodded slowly as he held her eyes with his.  “Yes, I’m afraid we have been.”  He waited a moment after the reveal to see which direction he would need to defend and attack from.

 

Teagan’s head slowly started nodding, her focus returned.  Understanding was in her eyes.  Good.

 

“You wouldn’t know anything about why communication and activity reports on this House would still be being filed by Beautiful Flower, would you?”  Bait pressed.

 

She looked away and made a noise then came to stand next to Seven who was watching her intently.  Her head started turning from side to side slowly as she thought.  She scoffed again as she looked to the floor.  Her head raised, her eyes went to Seven’s then to Bait’s.  She looked between the two men to the desk and focused on it when she went on.

 

“She insisted that communication between herself and her son was always available, a dry pair was run to the den for her calls only.”  Her eyes went to Bait.  “He’s on the phone with her right now.”

 

“Take me to him NOW!”  Snow yelled from the doorway.

 

Teagan snapped around, Bait and Seven both jumped from the suddenness of her voice.  She didn’t wait, Snow turned and walked towards the open doorway into the hall, the others followed fast.

 

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Squat was just walking out of his office when Snow and her crew approached fast.  Her intensity and drive as she came on him fast, caused him to walk backwards into his office again, the others matched her intensity and followed her in, Squat’s mate was beside Bait, and she didn’t look happy.  He was forced back into his office chair, the door slammed shut.

 

“You’ve been talking with mother.  About what?”  Snow demanded as she placed a hand on either arm of the chair he sat in and pressed her face into his grill.

 

He stammered a moment.  His eyes wild and rampant.  “Nothing, ever since we became the field command, I’ve been telling her she needs to talk to general command for reports and any information.”  Squat answered.

 

“I’ve heard him, he hates telling her things, it’s a cop out yes, but he’s been doing just that.”  Teagan said in defense of her mate, then moved to stand beside him and took his hand with a loving look.

 

Bait’s eyes focused hard on Squat.  The man’s attention was on him when he spoke next.

 

“I’ve never trusted my mother, Snow can tell you that.  Her and the Clay’s never wanted me to have a den here.  Made it hell for me every time I tried, but not just here.  There were plenty of abandoned dens, just sitting there.  The Clay’s or my mother held a claim on all of them and refused to let me have one.  This is the only one they couldn’t keep me from.  I hated the fact that it was a prison, but Clan Westbridge gave it to me, told me to make it a respectable place.  My mother had to support me then, if she wanted to keep her control.  If she didn’t, I would have no obligation to report to her.”

 

Bait was distant now.  Everyone was looking at him and waiting.  Snow backed from her brother and moved next to her mate.

 

“This place.”  He said remotely.  Bait’s eyes focused on Squat again.  “This place, you’ve been here how long now?”

 

“As a clan, just shy of two years now.”  Squat smiled pleased.  “Now that we’re a House, I don’t have to tell her shit.” 

 

Bait smiled back.  Squat wasn’t the problem Snow thought he’d be.

 

“Want to hear sis?”  Squat asked with a look to Snow.

 

She chuckled.  “Sure.”  Squat telling their mother off, this she would want to hear.

 

“You recorded it?”  Bait asked, his face hopeful.

 

Squat nodded.  “Yes, I recorded every conversation.”

 

Bait smiled.  “You said, ‘as a clan’, how long have you been here actually, when did your people first start working on this den?”  Bait asked intently.

 

Squat looked off in thought and scratched at his cheek then rubbed his chin.  He muttered to himself for a moment in contemplation.  “Has to be four years ago now, or damn near.” 

 

Bait nodded.  Squat cued up the recording of the last conversation with his mother. 

 

Beautiful Flower wanted information, and was straightforward in her asking specifically what she wanted to know.  Squat’s answer was, as a House now, he answered to Inquisitor Bait, Commander Snow and Lord Leyland.  You can go stuff it mother.  Squat had told her when she demanded again.  Beautiful flower went on to make threats.  Squat didn’t relent. 

 

I’ll be sure to pass your comments on to the Inquisitor and copy them to my commander Lady Snow.  Good day mother.  Squat’s voice said from the recording, then the call was ended.

 

Bait looked at Squat.  “There’s no way she could be getting information for her reports from you.”  He said factually.

 

Squat nodded, Teagan with him.

 

“Your Grace…”  Seven said looking at his commander with a grave look.  “There’s more I saw as I scurried.”

 

Bait’s attention turned to him.  He nodded for him to go on.

 

“The reports from Beautiful Flower, there has to be multiple sources.  There are reports with detailed information from events Squat was never near.  Your first meeting with Snow, activities of Clan Westbridge, even reports on Sea Mist, Kevashka, Mud, all kinds of things, she has a network of spies.”  Seven finished.

 

Bait turned around and looked at those in the room with him.  He took a mental stroll for a bit.

 

“Hey!”  A female voice called out.  He looked over.  “You can’t lose them, I’ve got them, and if I’ve got them, you can't lose them.”  Fairuza said holding up a leather bag synched closed at the top of marbles.

 

Bait laughed to himself and returned to the room.  “I need to go through these files.  In the morning, right now, I need some sleep.  Have Worm and Kevashka come to my room, I want to talk with them before I sack out.”  He said then walked from the room.  A moment later he called out over the radio to Snow.  “Tell Hyden I need him here in the morning.  I’ll be up early.”

 

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He awoke to the warmth of Sea Mist on his front with Snow curved around the top of her sister with her head wedged in the open space between her sister’s and Bait’s head, her arm was across Sea Mist to his side, likewise he had his arm across to Snow’s side with little sister in the middle.  Sea Mist moved and pulled the covers back when she sensed he was awake.

 

“Hey donkey breath, ready to get back at it?”  Sea Mist said softly as his eyes fully opened.

 

Bait looked down at her with a look, scoffed with a light head shake then pulled the covers the rest of the way off of himself.  “Something like that, he already back to work?”  He asked.

 

Sea Mist made a sad face and nodded.

 

The routine was the same.  Sea would go to lay down with her never sleeping man for some rest, which would last about fifteen minutes if she were lucky, then he would go back to working on whatever he was interested in currently.  Then Sea, who actually enjoyed the simplicity of laying down and letting everything relax for a couple hours, would crawl into bed with them, usually between them.  She liked having her favorite family close.

 

He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and sat up, Sea Mist farted.  “Hey, remember what I said, consider this a stage.”

 

Sea Mist laughed.  “Yeah, right, like you do when your sleeping.”

Sea sat up and rubbed her face.  “What’s sleep like?”  She asked casually.

 

Bait shrugged.  How to describe the indescribable.  “I… it’s, well, you fall asleep, then you wake up.  Sometimes you have dreams you remember, usually its just, nothing.  A blank time in your life you don’t remember.”

 

She considered his statement a moment as he stood up, then got off of the bed herself.  “I’ll start the shower.”  She said then bounced off towards the small bathroom.

 

There was barely enough room for Sea Mist and Bait in the shower, Snow joined them shortly after they started, the sound of water has that 'waking up fresh' effect on werewolves.  The girls giggled at times while the three tried to work in the very confined space.

 

“Maybe if we put the bar of soap in the middle of us and we all wiggle fast it will lather us up!”  Sea Mist provided at one point. 

 

“Sure, then I get to be the one to go fetch it when it squirts across the room.”  Snow joked back.

 

“Good thing your human has adapted to werewolf ways, else this would be really uncomfortable for him.”  Sea teased.

 

Bait laughed himself this time.  “What human male do think has a problem with showering with two hot chicks?”  He interjected with a coy smile.

 

His two companions laughed in agreement.  “None that I know of.”  Snow added.

 

“You know, knowing my brother as I do, I bet the conference room up here converts to a larger shower.”  Sea Mist observed out loud. 

 

“Good, check into that for us next time, I keep getting elbows where elbows really hurt.”  Bait stated.

 

“I wonder how our new recruits are adapting.  That Tommy sheriff guy seemed to accept things well.  Kinda weird having humans around that weren’t turned for mating, ya know.”  Sea Mist commented as they tried to move to the rinse cycle.

 

Penelope and the deputy’s sister, they weren’t turned for mating reasons, neither was Robert of the Clay clan.  Burnt almonds, that smell.  Werewolves.  Something Sheriff Hanks said.  Bait’s mind was lost, he was unaware he was alone in the shower now. 

 

The girls had gone off to dry and leave him to his thoughts while they fixed breakfast, or firsts as the old ways would call it.  They were talking about the Sheriff and what he would do now.  He was going back to work, and he said one change he would have to make was to get rid of the whiskey in his desk drawer. 

 

Hard liquor rendered Mud unconscious for twelve hours.  Never give a werewolf caffeine, never force a werewolf to lie.

 

Bait stormed from the shower shaking the water from himself as he went.  Snow and Sea Mist both snapped their attention on him when his scent caught their noses.

 

“What is it, you’ve got something monkey vomit, give.”  Sea Mist said with his excitement in her voice.

 

He looked at her.  “Where do you come up with that stuff?”  He said with a perplexed look then moved to address both women.  “Robert wasn’t turned for mating reasons.  Just like Sheriff Hanks and the deputy’s sister, they were turned to save their lives, they asked a werewolf for help, asked them to save their lives.”

 

He looked from one to the other as he explained.  “Werewolves used to hold humans who sacrificed freewill in high regards, across the water they still do, only here are they looked on as lesser werewolves.  Robert of the Clay was mated to the born alpha daughter of Clay himself, she’s like fourth from the top.”

 

Sea Mist and Snow nodded.

 

“She would’ve had to have mated with a born werewolf, her mother is a turned.  She’s the first alpha daughter, Clay’s first born is an alpha son.  This daughter was supposed to be mated to Clan Frost’s first born alpha which was supposed to be a son.  Snow came first, the Clay’s had no intention of letting their number one son mate with her and have Clan Frost as part of the head of their clan.”  Bait paused and looked between the two sets of eyes on him, well mostly, Sea Mist was unfocused but mostly looking at him.

 

“So, the Clay’s broke law by allowing the mating?”  Snow questioned.  Her face said she was trying to connect the dots he laid out but wasn’t seeing a pattern yet.

 

Sea Mist responded.  “No, the Clay’s would never do anything like that.  They have their eyes set on being declared a house.  Screw that gerbil tail, Sarla was not mated to Robert.”  Sea Mist corrected her sister.  She focused on Bait.  “Robert was turned by Corn Stalk herself.  There is no way on any plain of hell Clay would allow his pureblood daughter to mate with a Westbridge turned.”

 

Bait smiled large at Sea Mist.  “Damn nice cutie, anything else?”

 

“Yeah, you’re dripping on the floor.  Want to get a towel, get dressed, have something to nosh on then get the facts right fish lips?”  Sea Mist followed with.

 

Bait looked down at his naked wet form and the puddle he was leaving.  It brought back a memory of how all this first began.  He looked up.  “Yeah, sounds like a plan.”  He turned and stepped to where the towels were stored.  “Hyden here yet?  I really need to see him.”

 

Sea Mist giggled.  “Yes, he’s waiting for you whenever you are ready.  As it turns out, he never left.  He went in disguise and was working with the crews clearing rock in the expansion.  But you are eating with us.  No darting off and not feeding the Bait, you need to have something in your stomach to throw up.”

 

He looked back at her.  Such compassion.  Interesting. 

 

Hyden hadn’t left.  This was something of great interest.  Hyden wouldn’t have done this without a reason, slipping in unnoticed, and working as a regular guy, or werewolf, in construction.  Specifically in the new area.  This was an interesting turn.

 

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You seek a book.  I didn’t lie to you there, but this book you seek... isn’t the same one.  You only need a piece of the one from the picture.  The old man on the mountain had said to him while Sea Mist was starting the plane and bringing it over to him, crossing back over the ledge had become a non-option due to weather.  She couldn’t land so he had to make use of her emergency ladder. 

 

The old man had been mostly confused in his speech, ramblings and broken sentences with failed humor.  Most of what he had said during their ‘visit’ was worthless.

 

“Have you told her yet?”  Hyden asked as Bait escorted him to the conference room, which Sea did confirm doubled as an eight head shower.

 

Bait looked over, not quite sure of Hyden’s subject of question.  He surely didn't think Bait to be loose lipped and would inadvertently fill in with details to a perceived intention.  Such a trick was not something he would use here.

 

“Snow and her freewill.  You need to tell her, her clock is ticking faster than yours, at the kiss of the new day, you both start a new day.  She has one after that.  Be advised.”  Hyden said then sped his pace and accelerated ahead of Bait causing him to run to try and keep up, but Hyden’s speed always seemed to keep them out of speaking range, then they were at the door, Hyden let himself in.

 

Inside the room Snow, Sea Mist, Seven and Worm were waiting.

 

“Hand him the contacts.”  Bait said to Seven. 

 

He handed a contact case to the Bishop and helped him put them in.  Seven made this set special to use with human vision.  His other features would be added soon, but he was making improvements over all, and for this new perspective. 

 

Hyden’s expression caused Bait to feel ill when he looked from the picture with the book in it.  He recognized it.  Bait waited while Hyden looked back to the picture and read over a few pages.  Then he went stiff, frozen in the moment. 

 

Bait understood what was happening to Hyden, he had experienced that effect a few too many times recently himself.  Connections were made, analyzed and checked against other known facts.  If anyone had to be sure before they spoke, it was Hyden.

 

“What you have found, is the book the rhythms for creating a portal are scribed in.  We have missed this.”  Hyden moved from the book and its pictures and paced as he talked. 

 

“This was the book of research, a scholar of millennia past recorded his research in.  He had studied the well that used to allow the creator into this world.  He sought a way to allow the creator to return, without opening the portal to the side of the darkness.  He succeeded.”  Hyden stopped his pacing and sighed, looking at no one.

 

“It was in his success, he realized the truth in his discovery.  He wanted to be sure, so he redid his work from his new perspective.  His assumption was correct, his rhythms could be used to build a portal that would only allow the darkness to rebuild the portal back to our side of existence.”

 

Hyden scratched at his forehead then went on.  “He presented this information to the elders, they had already seen his first book.  The idea was already spreading of an attempt by some elders to try to open the portal, but there was a great flaw, something horrific.  We immortals never knew what that was.  The first book was destroyed, but not this book that was hidden all these years, now in this photograph.”  Hyden moved back to the picture.

 

“This is his original hand scribed notes and research.  He went back to retrieve it, knowing the forces of Dark would be looking for it.  They had found out about its existence through human flaws.  He tore one page from the book and sent a son off with the page and a message on it.  Then he went to destroy the tome, but he never made it.”

 

Hyden looked hard at Bait.  “The book was stolen from him, not by a vampire, but by a werewolf who hid it in some forgotten place.  Not even we know why, or where.  Here, where Music died, this is where Alexander came into possession of the tome of rhythms to enchant an obelisk into an active portal.”  Hyden sighed again when he finished.

 

The old man was right, he wasn’t looking for it, and the piece was the torn page.  What was so important on one page of this overly thick book?  What message had been written on it?

 

“What other books might be… missing or of interest?”  Bait asked Hyden.

 

The Bishop looked wondering at Bait, the question was beyond vague.  Hyden scoffed and shook his head lightly.  “There are many books that fit your question, you’ll have to help me out here friend.  The clock is ticking.”

 

Tick tock tick tock, the clock was ticking faster for Snow.  How about helping me out Hyden, toss me a bigger bone.  It’s a bit late to be worrying about a book and a torn page, Alexander had the book and had clearly figured out how to use it. 

 

Side effects, there were always side effects.  Werewolves couldn’t lie, they could pull your leg, but the side effects gave them away.  There were other side effects to other things, like a comma.  The title of a book could mean a lot, but what about the name of the author?

 

The book he was supposed to find, a book he only knew by the name of the author, it was the only name for the book, it had no title.  That was unusual.  That was wrong, it wasn’t formed right, not being spoken right.

 

“Sithe Vakried, the name of the author, that’s what the old man said, but books aren’t titled by the author’s name, Sithe Vakried is the title.  It’s not being said right is it Hyden, you know what I’m talking about.”  Bait was leaning towards the Bishop with enthusiasm as he spoke. 

 

Hyden’s face wasn’t sure of Bait’s implication.

 

“Werewolves go by one name, not two, or they are like… Hovlek the Hammer Fist, Lord or Lady, Sithe Vakried is either too fancy, or too plain.  It’s not a werewolf name, original werewolf, there were indicators that aren’t in the simple spoken words.”  Bait looked around.  “Pen, paper, crayons I don’t care I need something to write with and on.”

 

He started drawing on the paper Worm handed him with the markers Sea Mist found.  He wrote the words to the name, with the letters wide.  He had only put in a few odd marks around them when Hyden finished for him, Bait had him on the right path, he was working it as fast as he could mentally before Bait made his first mark on paper.

 

“Syllables of Conviction.”  Hyden said softly.  He looked to Bait.

 

Werewolf language, very accurate.  The right perspective from the appropriate time needed to be applied, which shouldn’t be hard. 

 

“Words of Law.”  Bait stated.

 

Hyden nodded.  “Di-sum-bin.”  He said.  Bait’s face snapped,  eyes wide.

 

Code of Law.  The book was the original book of law, untainted by years of change.

 

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