The Protectors
Author: Fox Wild

Chapter 28
Mirrors And Refractions

Chapter 28

 

 

Mirrors And Refractions

 

 

 

“Sea Mist burst into the assembly area.  She was looking for her sister and Bait mostly, but when she saw Seven and another person she recognized there speaking to Hovlek she started talking fast.

 

“Ruth’s a minion now!  She changed and she…”  Her bow came from her back and a large arrow flew before anyone could say a word.

 

“NO!”  Seven screamed too late to stop her so he moved his body and tried to block the arrow.

 

The living metal from the forge of Hovlek bypassed him and struck Jibble mid center.  Sea Mist was already airborne, another arrow formed on the string, this time it was Hovlek who acted, the fact that Seven had tried to block her arrow hadn’t registered yet in her battle crazed mind, but the blast from Hovlek that sent both her and her arrow hurling up into the room did get her attention.

 

“What the frell!  Mother frelling frell!  What the frell are you doing Hovlek, what the frell is that frell doing in our frelling den and frell, why in the frell isn’t he frelling frelled and frelling dead?”

 

Hovlek’s hand smacked her face hard.  “Sea Mist calms down now!”

 

She looked up at him with a shocked confused and hurt look.  “Frell!’  she said.

 

Hovlek snorted in her face.  “Calm down Sea Mist.”  His voice was firm and comforting.  “Hovlek understands, Hovlek needs Sea Mist calmed down.  Understandable it is your reaction, Hovlek says to Sea Mist, Sea Mist must calm down.”

 

“I’m calm you frelling heap.  What the frell?”  She barked at him.

 

“Calm.”  Hovlek said again.

 

Sea Mist collected herself as she stared into the eyes she trusted most.  “I’m calm Hovlek, get off me you’re squishing my tits ok?”  She said hoping embarrassment would cause him to release.

 

“Sea Mist’s tits are not Hovlek’s concern at this time.  That Sea Mist is calm, angry, fine, understood anger, calm needed else Sea Mist and her tits remain where Hovlek holds her and them.”  Hovlek said with the same firmness and comfort he started with.

 

Sea Mist closed her eyes and took some deep breaths.  Opening her raged eyes she looked back at Hovlek.  “Freller, let go, why is that frelling frell in our den?”

 

“Bait invite Jibble, remember Sea Mist?”  Hovlek began.  “Jibble is guest under Krevdaush, Sea Mist knows Krevdaush true?”

 

Sea Mist’s entire body relaxed.  “Oh, why in the frell didn’t you say so big guy.  If you’re going to hold them, could you at least caress them a bit?”  She said looking back with a devious smile.

 

This time Hovlek released her and reddened.  He looked back towards Seven and Allahna.  “Ah, calm, Sea Mist is calm now.”

 

Sea Mist grabbed one of Hovlek’s hands.  “Here, I like them massaged like this, let me show you.”  She said as she put one of his hands on her chest, she got it there before he turned and saw what she was doing and jerked it away.

 

“Behave!”  He snapped at her.

 

Laughing Sea Mist retorted.  “But it’s more fun when I misbehave.”  Sea Mist stood and started towards where Jibble was with Seven and Allahna who were working on him, the arrow was removed and they were cleaning his clothes and apologizing.

 

“So, Jarble-garble.  Stinking freller.  Your ass is lucky.”  She said as she came in range, for normal tones.

 

Jibble sneered at her.  “You’re the lucky one, had Hovlek not contained you, I would have killed you, and enjoyed it, believe me.”

 

“You two, can it!  Hovlek has no time for bullshit between Sea Mist and Jibble!  Sea Mist knows about Krevdaush now, keep tongue still.  Jibble, taunt not, calm, both of you.”  Hovlek barked at them both.

 

Jibble smiled.  “Actually, it was rather nice to be treated in a manner I am accustomed to by were-kind, makes me believe I’m not having a nightmare− well, daymare I guess.”  He chuckled and shoed Seven from cleaning his clothes.  “The suit is ruined anyways, go back to your nasty work, get this over with bitches.”  He followed in not such a polite manner.

 

Jibble locked eyes with Sea Mist.  “So now you know what Ruthless has been hiding eh?  Took you pups long enough.  Tell me, what color was she, describe her form to me.”

 

Sea Mist looked at him crossly.  She didn’t speak right away but thought about why he wanted to know if he already knew she was a minion now.  “Black.  About the same size as Alexander when he’s hyped up, very muscular, more so than either you or Alexander.  You get, hair, a mane like, she had horns like, him.”  She slowly answered.

 

“How many?”  Jibble asked, worry was in his voice.

 

“How many what?  It was just her.”  Sea Mist snapped at him.

 

Jibble yelled angrily back at her.  “Horns you dumb cunt, horns, how many?”

 

Sea Mist’s hand started back, then stopped before Hovlek grunted at her.  “Six, three on each side, two set on the top of her head almost like Alexander’s, two from her cheekbones and two coming from the bottom of her jaw, and they all curved forward, making a wreath around her face, and ugly as frell!”

 

“Oh.”  Jibble said trying to look casual, his voice betrayed him and was nearly a squeak.  His body language was fear and worry.  Apparently Ruth was a very nasty minion now that bothered even Jibble.

 

“Hovlek, where’s my sister and Bait?”  She said with urgency.

 

Hovlek told her and she darted off, once she was clear of the room she keyed up her radio, to Hovlek.  “Ruth killed one of Vikki’s warriors, her mate fell with her.”  She whispered into the radio, she didn’t want Jibble to know.  When she found Bait and Snow, she relayed her information to them.

 

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“Hovlek already took her back to the garage Sea, she’s been there the entire night, she’s safe there.  The place is hallowed, Hovlek blessed it every day he was there in the morning’s kiss.”  Snow said to her sister when she said she was going to go find Ace after they finished talking about Ruth and what happened.

 

“Oh… well, guess I should go get ready then.  Morning’s drawing neigh.”  Sea Mist said with a down look.

 

“She’ll be fine, I know you’re concerned about her, but she’s making her own way, dealing with things the only way she can.”  Snow said trying to comfort her sister, knowing the attachment she had to Ace.

 

“Yeah, I know.”  Sea Mist said with a forced smile.

 

“Where exactly is it you went the other morning?  What did you do?”  Bait asked changing the topic before Sea Mist made her escape again this morning.

 

Sea Mist guffawed and looked towards the floor in an embarrassed manner.  “I… shit, I just feel like I have to do it, you know.  It’s an old Bill Withers tune, ‘Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone… and she’s always gone to long, anytime she goes away...’ Sea sang to identify the song she was talking about.

 

“Yeah, I know that one.”  He looked over at Snow then back to Sea.  “Mind some company this morning?”  Bait asked.

 

“Serious?”  Sea Mist shrugged.  “Sure, why not.”  She answered.

 

Snow agreed to join in and they left the room they were at and went to get ready.  Sea Mist was passing by when Max and Meadow caught her.

 

“Hey, ah, Sea Mist, chick, you gonna go do that thing you did yesterday, you know, on the rooftops, ain’t no sunshine song?”  Max asked.

 

Sea Mist looked a touch guilty and surprised and told them yes.

 

“May we, you know, um, get in on the action so to speak?”  Max asked with Meadow smiling at his side, she held up a clarinet.

 

Sea Mist laughed.  “If you want, Snow and Bait are already coming, sure.” 

 

“Great, ah, anything special I should play?”  Max asked.

 

Sea Mist shrugged.  “Whatever slaps your trout I guess.”

 

Her two new accomplices went off so Max could get what he wanted to play, Meadow was already ready.

 

Sea Mist and her ‘band’ were in the underground garage picking a vehicle when Mud and Morning Dew came up with Blade Dance, they had caught him on his way to meet her.

 

Sea Mist looked at them with her mate.  “Let me guess, Bill Withers?”  She asked pointing at them.

 

Mud and Morning Dew looked at each other, smiled, then looked to Sea Mist and both nodded with tight smirks.

 

Sea Mist threw her head back and laughed hard for a moment.  “Shit kibble snarfers, we can give the bitch surround sound!”  She said with amusement heavy in her voice.

 

“Why don’t we take the van?”  Snow said looking around at the crew they now had.

 

“Good thinking cereal bowl, yeah, a sedan would be kinda small crispy.”  Sea Mist said cynically at her sister.

 

Bait shook his head at Sea Mist.  “You and your names for people.  I swear.”  He said looking at her with amusement.

 

Snow looked at Bait while pointing from her waist at Sea Mist.  “No my lover, she’s the one that swears.”

 

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Sea Mist played choreographer while they drove to the city.  They parked the van near where Bait would be since he didn’t have the advantage of four paws to travel quickly with.  Sea had them stationed around the city, using the radio link they would be able to hear each other and stay in beat.

 

Blade Dance went to set up where he and Sea would be and Sea helped Bait get to the top of the skyscraper and set up his stool and instruments. 

 

“Just face that way monkey vomit, and, yeah sing when you should sing, and play when, well you should play.  I didn’t know you played the trumpet.”  Sea Mist said looking at the horn on the roof in the velvet lined case.

 

“Got it fish lips.”  He said back to her with a snarky pursed lipped face.

 

Sea chortled at him and started to head off, Bait had faced the direction he needed to play in.  Sea Mist turned him around and kissed him passionately.  Bait froze at first but let her do her thing.  She lowered herself and kept eye contact when she broke the kiss.

 

“Thanks bro, thanks for everything.”  She said, then a blink later ran off  towards the doorway of the stairs.  Just before she went through the doorway she stopped, she didn’t turn around, only turned her head slightly back.  “You know, if Hyden… if you had asked, I would have let Hyden break my mating.  Gladly.”  She said, then she was gone.

 

Bait saw her go by from a few stories down as she changed into her werewolf self and leapt off into the night to meet up with Blade Dance.

 

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“Van’s all parked, looks like you’re all ready.”  Snow said after she popped over the side of the building Bait was on and changed back to her human form.

 

“Yup, cutie got me all situated.  We’ll be facing this way.”  He responded and pointed.

 

Snow nodded, seemed like the only direction that would work to her.  She didn’t say anything though, not wanting to sound like her sister.

 

The others radioed in they were ready and Sea told them to go to live link and cut the chatter.  This meant everyone’s radio would work as monitors at a concert. 

 

Blade had everything ready when Sea Mist took her place.  She had just started her verse when a large black crow fluttered in and landed on her shoulder.

 

Sea Mist: “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”  Blade Dance began the bass as he had the morning before.

Blade Dance: “It’s not warm when she’s away”

 

Bait: “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”

Snow: “And she’s always gone to long”

Bait: “Anytime she goes away”

 

The sound of a trumpet filled the air, moments later other instruments joined in as Max sang out.

 

Max: “Wonder this time where she’s gone”

Meadow: “Wonder if she’s gone to stay”

 

Morning Dew: “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”

Mud: “And this house just ain’t no home”

Morning Dew: “Any time she goes away”

 

The crow on Sea Mist’s shoulder cawed along as she sang the ‘I know’ chorus.

 

Blade Dance: “Yeah ought-a leave young thing alone”

Sea Mist: “There ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”

 

Max: “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”

 

Morning Dew: “Only darkness every day”

 

Snow: “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone”

Meadow: “And this house just ain't no home”

 

Blade Dance: “Anytime she goes away”

Bait: “Anytime she goes away”

Morning Dew: “Anytime she goes away”

Everyone including the cawing of the crow: “Anytime she goes away.”

 

The crow jumped from Sea Mist’s shoulder, cawing as it flew.

 

“See ya squirt.”  Sea Mist said to the crow as it flew off.

 

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“Want to get someone to eat?”  Ruth asked Melvin while they sat inside the old utility vault.

 

Melvin raised his head.  “Definitely.”  He said

 

Ruth looked at him, he didn’t seem to have the hang ups she’d had when she first became a vampire about taking human life, well, she almost had hang ups.  She’d taken to feeding on humans quite quickly herself, but something inside her churned every time she did it, even still.  But, you had to do what you had to do in order to survive.

 

“Then we’d better hurry, daylight soon, and I have something to do before then, so shake your ass Melvin.”  Ruth said somewhat playfully.

 

Melvin grabbed his coat and the two headed out onto the streets to see what the nights hunt would bring.

 

“So will it be homeless people tonight or the utterly stupid?”  Melvin asked, having become accustomed to Ruth’s desires in her prey.

 

“I’m thinking something special, for my predawn activity.  Let’s head down by the Catholic school, see who’s bringing their kids in extra early today.”  She said with a gruesome smile. 

 

They made their way to where Ruth suggested they grab a snack, and parents were bringing in their kids early as Ruth had expected, considering the season and the need for early morning classes that, given the season, started well before sunrise.  The front was too visible and busy, there was also a priest of faith there, not something she wanted to deal with, so they went into a nearby alleyway to catch someone walking to school.

 

The wait wasn’t long, a grandfather was bringing his granddaughter to school.  She was around twelve or thirteen Ruth guessed, a happy blonde haired girl.  The two were talking as they walked, unaware of what was about to happen.  Ruth stepped in front of them from the shadows, the man pushed the girl behind him to protect her, how quaint Ruth thought.

 

“Excuse me, we’d like to get past.”  The man said containing the nervous in his voice at her sudden appearance. 

 

Ruth smiled.  This only made the man more suspicious.  No bother.  She looked at the girl behind him.  Perfect, she would do nicely.

 

“I’m afraid, it’s the end of the road pops.  Ends-vill.  All tracks terminate here for you tonight.  No one around to help either.”  Ruth pulled her sword.

 

The man continued to block the girl, he clearly saw that she was Ruth’s intended target.  He gathered his resolve seeing her weapon.

 

“Take me then, leave her alone, let her go.  She’s just a child for God’s sake!”  He implored Ruth.

 

Ruth nodded.  “So, an old man dies and a little girl lives, is that how you want it?”  She asked.

 

The man gave a half glance back towards where the girl was.  He started nodding.  “Ye… yes, an old man dies, and this little girl gets to live.”  He said in a shaky voice.

 

Ruth gave a eerie laugh and thin lipped smile at him.  “Nice sentiment, unfortunately, this isn’t Basin City, here, everyone dies.”  Ruth said coldly.

 

Melvin lunged from where he was hiding behind the old man and ripped his throat out and began feeding, the girl screamed and tried to run, Ruth had her in a heartbeat.  She placed her hand over the girls mouth to stifle her screams then pushed her mind into the girl’s. 

 

Minutes later Ruth walked with the girl holding her hand and smiling looking just as happy as could be, that is, unless someone looked directly into the little girl’s terrorized eyes.  They were the only thing about her that would tell the truth of what she was experiencing inside.

 

Ruth loathed the girl, she would have turned into a preppy bitch like what she had to be to get ahead in school and the world.  She was weak, Ruth would have fought back, like when she was raped and killed her attacker.  Ruth was strong, this little girl, she was nothing compared to Ruth.  After she fed on her, the morning sun would reduce her to the nothing she was leaving behind; no trace of her existence.

 

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Ruth flew with the girl to the top of the tallest skyscraper near where the utility vault she now called home was in the central part of the city.  She then positioned the girl where she wanted her.

 

“Sea Mist is going to sing for us this morning.  You are going to sing my reply to her, a very special song.  No, no, you don’t need to worry about learning the words, I’ll help you find them when you need them.  But for now, we wait until she begins.”  Ruth told her.

 

The girl nodded, scared for her life, the wetness running down from her dress made Ruth smile.  She took pleasure in knowing the girl was so scared she was pissing herself.  She bet if she gave her a look at her true face now she’d soil her panties good.

 

Ruth chuckled to herself at the thought.  “Soon enough snack, soon enough.”  She said as she looked out over the city from her high place.

 

Ruth caught a scent in the air and started sniffing in various directions, she let loose of the girl, there was no where she could run, they were on the very top of an antenna platform, the only place she could go was down.

 

“Smells like little miss Sea Piss is going to have company tonight, you’re in for a special performance.  Good, I want them all to hear you when you… sing.”  She laughed maniacally and looked at the girl. “You ever let a boy stick his dick in you yet?”  Ruth asked bluntly.

 

The girl shook her head.  “I’m saving myself for marriage.”

 

Ruth laughed hard when she heard what the girl said.  “Well, that’s not going to happen, too late for you now, guess you’ll be a virgin forever.”  She looked around trying to determine exactly which direction Sea Mist and her accompaniment were setting up in, the scents each seemed to come from different directions.  What was Sea Mist up to?

 

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone  Sea Mist’s voice sang out.

Then a male voice followed: ‘It’s not warm when she’s away

 

Then the singing changed directions, from behind her.  She recognized the voice of Bait.

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone’ he sang out, he had a good voice.

Then Snow’s voice followed: ‘And she’s always gone to long’ then Bait took the last line.

 

Ruth turned in the direction of the next set, she suspected each was a mated pair, they were playing instruments too, a clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, the bass sounded like the full stand up concert type, figures werewolves would have that over an electric.  Was that an obo?  Probably, who cares, the singing provided by Ruth’s instrument would outdo theirs considerably, no talent required really.

 

“Yes, a very special performance for you tonight.”  Ruth said to the girl as she looked over at her.  “Come here, your part will be soon, it’s not a long song.  You’ll want to be ready when it’s your turn to sing your song.” 

 

The girl shook her head at her and continued to cling to the support of the antenna tower structure.  Ruth smiled lovingly at her.  The girl soon smiled back, released her grip on the pipe and reached her hand out to Ruth and started walking towards her.

 

“Be careful, that winds awfully strong up here, blow you right off.”  Ruth said realizing that her plan would end with an abrupt fall if the wind did catch the light weight of the girl.  She reached and grabbed the girl’s hand quick.

 

Ruth positioned the girl with her head leaned back and her mouth wide open.  She would have to release her mind for the best natural performance, she wanted it completely believable from the werewolf perspective.  Since it was a concert in the round tonight, she positioned the girl to make sure everyone could hear her.  Ruth looked off towards Sea Mist as she sang the chorus, the sound of a crow calling with caught her attention for a second.

 

“Your parts coming up soon, when I release you so you can perform at your best, stay like I put you or I will make this as painful as possible and last as long as I can, understand?”  Ruth saw in the girls mind she understood and would cooperate.  “Good.”  Ruth said with a fake reassuring smile.

 

“Nice touch.”  Ruth said to the wind as all the voices came together for the final verse.  “Now’s your chance, make me proud.”  Ruth told her.  “Open your eyes and look at me, watch me, I want this to be the best you can do!”

 

Ruth grabbed the girl’s hair and held her head in place as she knelt down beside her.  The girl’s eyes were transfixed on her as Ruth extended her fangs.  The girl started screaming as soon as she saw the fangs, this pleased Ruth, this was just what she wanted.  She eased her head forward, resting her fangs on the girls neck and waited for her to take her next breath and scream hard again, then she slowly pushed into the girls neck.  Glorious screams, shrill, loud and long.  She took what would be her last breath and screamed.  Ruth was smiling as she lunged the rest of the way forward.  The girl started gurgling as blood flowed into her lungs.  Soon Ruth had her drained and tossed her limp body over the edge of the platform on the antenna tower and watched it fall to the roof. 

 

Sunrise was but a few minutes away now, she jumped from the platform and changed to fly and swooped towards where Melvin had their safety room for the day.

 

She was on her way down when she nearly collided with a crow flying fast by her.  She tried to grab the bird in retaliation when it grabbed a large loc of her hair, yanked it from her then took off away from her.  She was about to go after the bird when she remembered, sunrise was going to be here too soon, she had to get undercover now!  Damn bird.  And she used to like crows.

 

She slammed down onto the sidewalk hard and charged off to the alleyway the manhole was that would lead to the old vault.  When she stepped into the vault she flew into a rage, smashing the CD player Melvin had on, ending the music he was listening to.

 

“Never play that again you stupid nigger!”  She screamed.

 

Melvin was staring, open mouthed at her and in total shock.

 

Ruth realized what she had said.  “Melvin, I’m so sorry, I… I…”  She started to cry and went to him.

 

“I’m not him, I’m not going to be like him, I’m not, I’m not like him!”  She cried as she buried her face in Melvin’s shoulder. 

 

He was still in shock, not from what she called him but from her actions in general.

 

“I’m sorry Ruth, I thought you liked Bill Withers.”  He said trying to consol her.

 

“Not anymore.  I’m sorry I called you… called you that word.  I don’t know what came over me, I’ve never called anyone that before.  I don’t want to be like Alexander, I’m not like him!”  She said as she recovered herself and raised her face to look at him.

 

Melvin put his hands on her face.  “Ruth, Ruth, it’s okay.  I’m from South Africa, that word doesn’t have the same punch to me as it does to those here, in my country, they have a different word for my people.  I understand the meaning, but it’s different to have said it in a slip of the tongue, than to actually mean it.  You lashed out in anger, the feeling, meaning in what you said, it wasn’t there.”

 

Ruth smiled at him.  Of anyone she knew, Melvin had always been the nicest to her, he really cared about her, and this is how she repaid his friendship; by killing him, and making him a killer. 

 

“Melvin, why did you come with me when I asked you to join me?  After I told you what I was?”  She asked plainly.

 

Melvin’s face became sad.  “Because I was in love with you.”  He told her.  His eyes wandered off from her now.

 

“Was?”  Ruth said, feeling a lump form in her throat, not wanting to hear what she knew would come next.

 

“Yes, was.  You always disliked people, said you hated them, but you really didn’t.  You hated the fakeness people put up, the games you had to play in life just to be a part of society.  That you couldn’t be who you really were and still be accepted by people.  Now you’re different, you’re hating more and more everyday.  If you keep hating the way you are, in time, you will call people that word, and mean it.  You will even call your own people kikes, and mean it.”  Melvin turned away from her when he finished so he wouldn’t see the hurt look on her face.

 

“You’re wrong Melvin!  I told you… I didn’t mean what I said!”  Ruth cried out.

 

“I know you didn’t, not this time Ruth, but you almost did, and it won’t be long and you will.”  Melvin moved to the other side of the small vault room and sat down on one of the makeshift cots he had made for them.  “You better get some rest.”  He said.

 

Ruth nodded and went over to where her cot was and laid down.  She was tired, this night had taken a lot out of her.

 

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The trip back to the den house was a somber one.  They had all heard Ruth’s response to them, the screaming female voice that sounded like a young girl as Ruth took her life.

 

They parked the van in the yard, staff would clean it, fuel it up and put it away.  They started for the house door when Mud spotted another arrangement of stones, this time there were three of them.

 

They all looked over the stones and what was painted on them, the new addition had a piece of wrapped chewing gum stuck to it.

 

“A rainbow, a crow and a piece of Juicy Fruit.”  Sea Mist looked at the others.  “I don’t get it, it had to be Ruth.  She must have placed these before we left.  What the frell?”  Sea said with a tone somewhere between confused and pissed.

 

Bait started nodding.  “These rocks, they're polished marble.  Crow, rainbow.  Over the rainbow, then you have the gum.  One flew over the coo coo’s nest, it was a movie.  It’s her way of telling us she doesn’t belong to Alexander anymore.”  He surmised.

 

“Damn, that bitch is jenky.  I mean really, sneaking up to a werewolf den to leave a message in rocks… twisted and jenky.”  Sea Mist said looking at the rocks again.

 

“It may be something she doesn’t have a choice in, like you and this song thing, just something she has to do and she doesn’t know why.”  Blade Dance said to Sea.

 

She nodded her head, sounded reasonable to her.  “Ok, enough of the twisted freaky bitch, breakfast anyone?”  Sea Mist said and brightened her face at everyone.

 

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“Your Grace.”  Shelma said as she walked into Bait and Snow’s quad.  “Your Grace, Doctor River Stone said to tell you he’s able to talk to you now, you said to let you know the moment you could talk to him, sir.”  Shelma stood at the end of the bed with her hands neatly clasped in front of her and a respectful look on her face.

 

Bait’s eyes were open the moment he heard the door open.  Snow had put out the order no one was to disturb him, he needed sleep despite his insistence he was good to go.  She did give enough to allow for Shelma to be allowed in when she had news of Exten being able to have visitors, and answer questions.  Aside from that, no one else, not even Snow was allowed past the guards she placed at the door of their quarters.  She was very insistent.  Had he told her the truth, he would have said he was too tired to argue with her.

 

Bait sat up and looked at his messenger.  “How’s he doing?”  He asked Shelma.

 

A light smile came to her face.  “Better sir, he’s still not ready for solid food, but the nutrient mix Doctor River Stone has him drinking every ten minutes now and holy water are helping greatly.  He can’t walk on his own yet, but he has used the bathroom for the first time about half an hour ago.  He should be able to handle his first solid food by this evening Doctor River Stone thinks.  His concoction is working wonders.”  Shelma was happy to report.

 

Werewolves were tough, had to be given their line of work, but they were still living creatures and had their limitations like any living being.  Unlike vampires that took their life and health from the living people they fed from, they needed time to recover on their own.

 

“Any word from your mate and Julia on Kicks?”  He asked.

 

Shelma’s smile faded fast as she shook her head.  “I’m afraid not sir.  Noktok is off talking with a woman who may have seen him, but we’ve had several reports like that.”

 

Bait nodded.  There were numerous reports of Kicks being seen, but none could be substantiated.  A few turned out to be humans that looked similar to him.  They weren’t even sure if he was really back or if he had just been another ghost that passed through. 

 

Bait got out of bed and threw his shirt on and stuffed his already socked feet into his shoes.  He had left them on with his pants so he could move out quick.  Shelma handed him a cup of espresso made to his liking once he cleared the bedroom door.  The grounds for his beverage of choice were kept in a locked safe and only two people knew the combination.  They wanted no accidental caffeination of were-kind.

 

“Thanks Shelma.”  Bait said to her for the espresso as they walked from the quad to the command deck.  Once out the door of the command deck, Shelma headed off to her duties and he turned to the lift down to the medical level, which had a new and improved look as furnishings and workers were finally free to give the medical level some TLC.  The new look though left a lot to be desired as the room Exten was in had one wall missing and a gaping hole in another.  His bed was tucked into the corner that remained.

 

Exten smiled at him.  “My Grace, I knew you’d follow my breadcrumbs.  I knew you, if anyone could, would find me.”  He said still weak, but many times better than when he was found.  He was still skin and bone, but now had some color in his face and could sit up.

 

“You could’ve left an easier trail to follow you know.”  Bait said with a smile.

 

Exten shook his head.  “You know I couldn’t.”

 

Bait looked down for a second.  They both knew Exten’s caution was warranted, Clay had been watching everything Exten did, and everyone around him as well.  One slip up and the trail would have been broken, destroyed or both.

 

Exten took a drink of water again and looked over to where the door should have been as his mother returned with another cup of lovin’ from Doctor River Stone.  She gave him her mother’s look when he made a face after seeing the cup in her hand and handed it to him.  He didn’t argue and drank the liquid, which clearly by his expression needed work on the taste.

 

“Don’t be too rough on him now Bait.”  Corn Stalk said with a kind smile, patted him on the arm and said, “I’ll leave you two alone” then stepped out of the remains of the room.

 

“I understand you got Night Harvest and Lord Leyland to approve disbandment of Clan Clay.”  Exten said as ice formed in his voice.

 

Bait nodded.

 

“You had to have something more solid then ignoring you to get them here, what’d you find that was solid?”  Exten asked.

 

One side of Bait’s lips curled up.  “Paper.”  He said.

 

“Paper.”  Exten repeated as his eyes went to his feet under the covers of the bed and he smiled.

 

Lord Clay took the name clay when he formed his clan because of what he and his supporters did for a living, a profitable living besides the duties of protector.  They made parchment and paper, back in the day.  They used to supply the stateside clans with all their paper needs and provide financial support from the human world by selling their high grade parchment and paper to the humans, clay is a component used in making paper, and thus the name. 

 

With the industrialization of the nation, as well as the world, the demand for their paper diminished.  They still make paper, primarily parchment grades, for clan use mostly but still sell a small amount to humans, and that is usually for high end art prints.

 

Exten started to chuckle, which broke into a cough.  He steadied himself and caught his breath again.

 

Bait pulled the book he had recovered from his fathers library out of a pocket.  “Exten, this is the book you’ve been looking for to protect, and the vampires have been hunting for.” 

 

He handed it to Exten who looked longingly at it as he took it into his hands gently.  “Syllables of Conduct?”  He said with a questioning voice and a uncertain look.

 

Opening the book, Exten started looking at the pages and flipping through it.

 

“I’m not making much out of it actually, I’ve tried reading it backwards too, nothing more than customs and rituals, not the law we thought it was.  I’d like you to have a look and see if you can make anything out of it.”  Bait said.

 

Exten’s head shook.  “This is wrong, the book should say it is a law book, this is a etiquette book. This isn’t right.”  His face was lost.  “Where was it?”

 

“My father had it hid in his secret library for me, a supposed uncle gave it to me when I was a boy.  I was supposed to keep it safe for him.  And you’re telling me this isn’t the book everyone’s been looking for?”   Bait looked rather upset now, not at Exten, but that so much had happened over a worthless book.

 

“The book we want will say ‘Protector’s Law’ and have the crest of the new foundation firmament on it.”  Exten told Bait.

 

Bait’s forehead pulled down.  “What does this crest look like?”  He asked.

 

“I think by now you’ve seen it, three scrolls connected with three lines, each scroll representing a cornerstone of the new monarchy, the Trustee, the Inquisitor and the Padre.”  Exten said as Bait’s eyes widened.

 

“The door of your truck, the day at the hardware store, that’s the crest of werewolf law!”  Bait exclaimed.

 

Exten smiled.  “Very good, see, I knew you would be quick to put this together, I hope you’ve figured out what I couldn’t.”

 

Bait’s face went serious again.  “What happened that day?  It wasn’t Cody that was there, it was you, and you shot at a werewolf.  Why?”

 

Exten sighed then looked coldly at Bait.  “Seal us in, this is private talk.”

 

Bait looked off in thought for a moment.  He knew what Exten asked of him now, and how to do it.  He looked to the openness around them and held out his hand, said something and moved his hand around where the walls were missing and a blue crystal wall formed around them and hardened.  No sound would penetrate.  They could be seen still, but no one would be able to bother them or listen in.

 

Once the wall was in place Exten swung his legs over the edge of the bed and slowly made his way to the only chair in the room and placed himself in it.

 

“The Enforcers, a hand selected group, doesn’t exist, deny at first suggestion of it.  I served with them.  I was picked.  Each member serves ten years.  The vows you take when you join, powerful vows.  I can only speak to the Grand Inquisitor or the Inquisitor of this, not even Lord Leyland himself can order me to talk.  Nor would he.  What I did, what we did, was deal with werewolves who’ve made bad choices, or who’s leaders had usually.”  Exten started.

 

“Clay.”  Bait interjected.

 

Exten nodded.  “Yes, he was the main source, but there were others.  But we had nothing solid to get him with.  He is crafty.  We had an agent inside his operation, close to Clay.”

 

“Robert.”  Bait stated.

 

Exten nodded again.  “Yes, does he still live?”  Bait shook his head.  Exten sighed.  “This brings sadness to my spirit, what happened with him?”

 

Bait sighed, now he knew the reason Sebastian had kept him in the room with him when Robert was judged.  “Night Harvest, Sebastian judged him.”  Exten raised his head with a disheartened face.  “No torches burned for him.  The ferryman didn’t take him.”

 

A relieved look came to Exten’s face.  “Good, he wasn’t a betrayer.”

 

“I know, now.  He was called that, but Clay set him up.  I figured out how too, he gave his daughter hard alcohol to induce a coma.  Robert wasn’t really mated to her.  It was all part of the Clay plot.”  Bait informed Exten.

 

“The man you saw me shoot, he didn’t die.  His name was Calput, he was a Major in the Clay ranks, he was a loyal officer.  He was going to blow up a building that he had been told was a day walker keep, but in reality it was a band of humans that were helping werewolves that weren’t part of the official ranks, unregistered dens and clans.  He escaped with his life that day, I am sorry about your partner, I couldn’t save him and you.  I had to choose you.”  Exten’s face conveyed the gravity of the decision. 

 

Exten laid his head back in the chair, he was getting very tired again and would need more rest very soon.  “After what happened at the hardware store, Calput realized something was amiss and started looking into things on his own, that’s when Clay turned on him and forced him into one of their treatment dens, a prison is what that is.  Of course you know that already.”  Exten motioned to himself as proof of that.

 

Bait nodded.

 

“He escaped, pissed Clay off to no end, especially since he evaded him at every bend that Clay got close to him at.  He kept watch over the hardware store, even though it’s nothing but an empty building now, Clay eventually got to him and had him killed.  Calput was looking for something, a page from a book.  He believed it held some important information.  He never found it though, as I’m sure you know.”

 

Bait cleared his throat.  “I’m going to Clay’s prisons today, I’m shutting them down for good and I will offer sanctuary to all inside in our ranks if they choose.  Then, I am crumbling the Clay clan for good, also, Beautiful flower is going down with him.  She had Snow bugged, her nose ring, and has Darby, one of Squat’s officers, blackmailed into feeding information to her because she holds his mate captive.”  Exten’s face brightened, glowed, as a smile grew from thin ear to thin ear.  He seemed to grow in strength too hearing this from Bait.

 

“Damn straight Skippy, that’s the best news to cross these ears in a long time.  Wish I could be there for that.”  Exten said with a joyful beat in his voice.

 

“You will be Exten,” Bait placed a hand over his own heart, “you will be.”

 

They talked for about ten minutes more then Bait dropped the wall and let Corn Stalk in to see her son, another cup in her hand.  He went off to arrange other details and get informed on progress from other teams before they went to visit the prisons of clan Clay later that day.

 

-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-

 

Gueydan was standing watching the door of the command deck when Bait walked in.  Snow was there with Max and Mud, they worked while he watched the door, waiting for Bait.  His face was set and his jaw firm.  Seven was with Bait when he entered and stepped to the side when he saw Gueydan.  He may have been expecting a bad interaction by the look of the man.

 

“Inquisitor!”  Gueydan said stoutly when Bait entered.

 

He walked the few steps to Gueydan, he was on Bait’s list of people to talk to anyways and had looked in a few places for him.  He had intended on radioing him, but this worked.  Gueydan handed a mini tablet to him.  Bait looked from the man to the tablet then took it and read.

 

Smiling Bait looked up at him.  “This is good, very good.”  He said.

 

“Will that be enough, or should I call for more?”  Gueydan asked firmly.

 

“No, this will do, we have plenty of our own, I wanted mostly your people involved in this mission, taking point.  They deserve it.  How long till your people are here?”  Bait asked.

 

“They arrived two hours ago, they are standing by near the old school house down the road from here.  We await your orders Inquisitor.”  Gueydan ejected.

 

Looking towards where Seven observed from Bait barked an order.  “Seven, I want this broadcast live to everyone everywhere.  Get Silence to help, I want the best video you can get, no more than a thirty second delay, copy?”

 

“On it.”  Seven said then turned and called out on his radio.

 

Bait looked back to Gueydan.  “Let’s get this party started.”  He said with a chuckle.  Gueydan was clearly more than ready to act against clan Clay.

 

-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-

 

Ace had gotten up early to join the others on the rooftops.  She placed the hair she had taken from Ruth in a tube and sealed it so it wouldn’t be lost in the light of day.  She ate from the dim-pack provided, the food wouldn’t last much longer even in it’s advanced storage cells, but for now, it was enough and better than what she would get at a human restaurant.  With her connection now with House Squat, she would be able to stop in and restock as needed. 

 

Now though, she was anxious to start her day.  She equipped the guns Bait had provided, then decided she’d take some of Sea Mist’s gift too.  Never know when an opportunity would present it’s self.  Ace put on her sunglasses and stepped out the door; she froze in place and stared back at the man looking right at her with one eye.

 

Maggot turned from the garage and walked to his bike just across from them.  “You’re in the bitch seat.”  He told her and motioned to the backseat of the bike he was on.

 

Ace didn't argue, and got on the bike as Maggot pushed a button and the Boss Hoss rumbled to life.  As he drove off Ace heard his voice over the private proximity link of the radio pack. 

 

“Maggot’s my street name, I’m Lieutenant Colonel Moore, I’ve been ordered to help you build your unit.”  He told Ace.

 

Smiling Ace started singing, ‘I get by with a little help from my friends, I get high with a little help from my friends…”  Maggot laughed to himself as she sang.

 

Maggot parked the bike in a narrow alley, some street thugs were watching them.  Once off the Harley, Maggot turned to face the gang members, interlaced his fingers and stretched his arms out in front of him cracking his knuckles with a smile at them.  Then he turned and walked next to Ace as they looked for day walkers to relieve of their duties.  The bike would be untouched, it would be well known that it belonged to a member of the Hell’s Angels, and the street gang would not want their breed of trouble.

 

“You know Maggot, you don’t need the human scent anymore, Trustee Snow and Inquisitor Bait told us not to bother anymore.  Their orders are to have fun and be ourselves.”  Ace informed her assistant.

 

“I know, just, old habits are hard to break, ya-know.”  Maggot said with a shrug.

 

The duster coat Ace wore was of a thin light leather and it billowed around her as she walked.  Maggot had helped her sniff out a group of day walkers in the early morning of their day with his better sense of smell.  They had been out on the main streets, causing trouble for some local shop owners, collecting their protection money from them.  Extortion, and they had the audacity to call it protection to be paid not to bother the stores.

 

Ace led Maggot along as they followed the day walkers from a safe distance.  “For us, I think human scent is wise.”  She said in a hush to Maggot who nodded in agreement.

 

They needed their prey to be unaware of werewolf presence so she could get them out of the way of humans.  The Day Watch Unit would have different needs from the night hunters.

 

As they followed the day walkers, Ace had watched a car pass before she crossed the street, then stepped out from the curb.  Maggot jerked her back as the car passed, again.  She started to take notice of the images through the glasses and soon figured out she was seeing things before they happened.  She analyzed the timeframe of the glasses and determined she had a two second advantage over whoever she would be in combat with, that was a nice edge for her.  Two seconds in combat was a long time.

 

Finally the day walkers took to a back alley to divvy out their take so far.  There were five in all, one was clearly much older in the service of their master than the others and would soon either have to be fully turned, or vanish forever.

 

Ace started towards them, Maggot followed most of the way.  He stopped before they noticed them and spoke to Ace.

 

“I think you can handle these guys yourself.  I’ll be nearby if you need me.  Have fun.”  He said to her and stepped off into a doorway out of sight.

 

Ace nodded to him then continued on down the dirty alley.  The wind blew her duster around her and her hair flowed with, the visual effect was quite becoming for her, and gave her an ominous appearance.  She was about thirty feet away when they noticed her.  The day walker who was near the end of his time moved towards her while the others clustered up behind.  Ace smiled.

 

“Get the frell out of here little bitch or I’ll break your face!”  He yelled at her.

 

Ace kept coming.

 

The one who spoke looked back at the others and laughed.  They looked to him and laughed with him then looked back to her.  They were amused.  So was Ace.

 

“Hey little girl, this ain’t no school yard, beat it or I’ll educate you.”  He said and laughed with his friends.

 

“Yeah, make a woman out-a you fast.”  One of the boys behind him said and grabbed his crotch.

 

“Yeah Amos, show her what a real man feels like.”  A girl next to the one who said he’d make a woman out-a her said as she put her hands on his shoulders and played coy with him and pursed her lips at him and laughed.

 

Ace held her pace and still closed.

 

The lead man’s eyes narrowed.  He didn’t like the fact that a girl of Ace’s age was undaunted by the clear threat they posed to her.  He also didn’t like that he couldn’t see her eyes from behind the glasses she wore.

 

“Alright, that’s far enough, what-a you want, who’re you?”  He demanded, now he wasn’t laughing, but the others still were.

 

Ace stopped now, she was about seven feet from the leader of the grim group.  She reached into her pocket, the others stopped laughing when their leader put his hand behind his back and put it on the butt of the semi-automatic pistol stuffed in the waist of his pants.  They were finally starting to catch on that the situation smelt funny.

 

Pulling her badge from her pocket and flipping the cover back so they could see it, she showed it to them.  With her other hand she keyed the MP3 player Sea Mist had given her on and from around her the beginning of Rock Soldiers started to play, rather loudly too.

 

“I’m Sergeant Ace, Day Watch, and you skaggs are in violation of werewolf laws against day walkers.”  She put her badge away, then gave them a mock ‘I’m sorry’ look.  “I’m afraid, I’m going to have to put you down.”  She said.

 

She sidestepped the bullet from the gun the elder day walker fired at her as she pulled the fifties Bait had provided her with.  The slides on the top of the breach of her guns moved blowing holes in the chest of the day walker whom had fired on her, right in the pump.  As he went down she moved again, the blade of the dagger the day walker that tried to jump her struck the ground and Ace moved one of the guns to the back of his head.  A fine mist rose in the air as she fired the weapon. 

 

Three more to go.

 

The girlfriend of the skagg she just iced pulled her own weapon.  It looked like a Glock, Ace didn’t care though.  She stepped into the woman as she fired where Ace should have been and put the barrel of the gun she didn’t fire at her boyfriend under the woman’s chin near her throat.  A fine yellowish red mist spewed from the top of her head along with slime. 

 

Three down.

 

Tumbling to the ground and tucking her legs hard to make herself spin, Ace fired the weapons several times until the breaches held open.  She stood as the last two day walkers fell, she had H and H’d them.  Two rounds to the pump, and one to the dome.  She dropped both clips and slid two new ones in and pressed the releases loading the weapons.  Then she clicked the safeties on and returned them to their proper places.

 

Ace turned her back to her victims that she cleansed from the world and pulled open one side of her duster.  Reaching into a pocket, she pulled Sweetie from it.  She held the ferret up to her face.

 

“Bring me all the casing please Sweetie.”  She instructed the animal then turned the music off as she set the her on the ground. 

 

The ferret inch-wormed around the area sniffing constantly.  As it found one of the nickel plated casings it would take it in its small paws and place it into a pouch fashioned near it’s hind quarters.  Once it had them all it took the clips Ace had dropped, stacked them and slid them to where Ace stood waiting as Maggot came walking from the doorway he had watched from.

 

Ace picked up Sweetie and the clips and put both where they belonged.  “Thank you Sweetie.”  Ace said as she petted the ferret then put her in her pocket to rest.

 

Maggot was smiling.  “Nice shooting Tex, where’d you lean to shoot like that?  That’s more than Bait’s learnin’.”  He said.

 

Ace smiled up at him.  “Twitch taught me, Bill Cody, he goes by Cody now, William was a human name he adopted.” 

 

“Buffalo Bill, should-a known”  Maggot said as he placed his arm around Ace’s shoulders and the two walked back to the Boss Hoss.

 

-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-

 

Ace took Maggot back to her garage where he started reloading the shells for her and teaching her how.

 

“This, is a three-hundred and three grain ball.  It’s propelled by citrine charge, a Hovlek creation.  It comes from the barrel at a velocity of forty-seven hundred feet per second, very fast for a pistol, for any gun.  The ball is special, soft center, designed not to leave a body, maximum potential for killing, yes.  That is why young one, always be sure of your shot.  When you reload, mark the casing here, so you know how many times each has been reloaded.  When the mark is three, reload it no more, understood?”  Maggot asked.

 

Ace nodded as she watched him place the next detonator cap, weight the powder and load the shell.

 

“This gun will even fire underwater, but be careful to never fire it if they barrel becomes blocked, and keep your weapons clean.  Every night before you slumber young one, clean your guns and polish your sword.  Treat your tools well, and they will always be there for you when you need them.  Treat them poorly, and they’ll let you down when you need them most.  Understood?”

 

Ace nodded again.  “Yes sir.”

 

Maggot chuckled.  “Maggot, please.  Even though I’m an officer, I am far from a gentleman.”

 

Ace smiled at him and nodded.  Yes Maggot, I understand.”

 

The buzzer at the door sounded and Maggot checked the outside camera.  “Ah, my friend Grackle is here, he will also be assisting you.  Either he or I will be with you when you hunt, understood?”  Maggot asked as he stood to go and answer the door.

 

“Yes sir… Maggot, sorry.”  Ace answered.

 

Maggot let Grackle in and introduced the biker to Ace.  “We ride with the same chapter.  Though he has never ridden with Hovlek, he knows him well, don’t you Grackle.”

 

Grackle held a very faint smile on his lips as he gave a slow shallow bow to Ace acknowledging that he knew Hovlek as Maggot stated.

 

-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-

 

This time when Ace returned to her hunt and training, she drove the Delorean while Maggot and Grackle each rode one ahead and one behind her.  They went down a less traveled street than the main drag and were gliding along when Ace spotted a day walker talking with a human female. 

 

She turned up the stereo Jibble had in the car, it was very nice, and blasted another song by Ace Frehley as she rolled the drivers side window down.  She counted the seconds, pulled her sidearm and took aim at the head of the day walker.

 

“Suck it skagg!”  She yelled causing the day walker and the woman to both look in her direction.

 

Ace fired the weapon hitting the day walker between his eyes and slightly up from the bridge of his nose.  The woman screamed and ran off as Ace laughed.  She put the gun away and rolled the window up and cranked the music louder.

 

Maggot was in the lead and took them to a park that he knew they would find day walkers in.  They went to a remote area of the park and the three took to a table.  Maggot and Grackle stepped off to the side and talked while Ace set up a chess board, and placed some brownies out that were in a tin pan.  Next to that she placed two of Sea Mist’s joints.

 

“I’m heading off for a bit.”  Maggot told Ace.  “Grackle here will help you as needed, we’ll meet up again for lunch.

 

Grackle turned out to be a very endowed chess player and Ace had lost both games they had played to him.

 

“You don’t talk much do you Grackle?”  Ace asked as they reset the game.  He hadn’t said a word to her yet actually.

 

Grackle shook his head.

 

“Are you a mute?”  She asked him.

 

Again Grackle shook his head.  Ace laughed somewhat and made her first move.

 

Two men and a young woman dressed in black and clearly day walkers were watching them.  Neither Ace nor Grackle looked up from the game and acknowledged them, they started to come to the table slowly talking among themselves as they walked.

 

It sounded like they were talking about some vampire party they had been at and how they had escaped with their master when werewolves attacked.  Ace overhead one of them say ‘let’s have some fun, these two, off all by their lonesome.’  The young woman encouraged the two men with her.

 

“Hey, can I play the winner?”  One of the men asked while the others watched the game.

 

“I doubt any of you skaggs would stand a chance against either of us.  Have a brownie instead, they’ll taste great after you have some of my smoke, it’s called Blue Moon.”  Ace said not looking up from the game she was playing.

 

Grackle remained watching the board they played at but was very much also watching Ace and the day walkers.

 

One of the men scoffed.  “Are they magic brownies?”  He said in a childish voice.

 

“Their pot brownies if that’s what you mean.”  Ace reached to one of the joints and tossed it without looking to the closest day walker, which happened to be the woman.  “Smoke up, you’ll love it.  I can’t myself not being of my age yet, enjoy it.  I insist.”  Ace said with a snotty snarky tone.

 

Fortunately for her, arrogance runs rampant among day walkers, and they saw neither her nor Grackle as any threat.

 

“Kind-v a brat aren’t you small fry.”  The woman said to her as she sniffed the joint.  “Hey, kid no shitting, this smells awesome!” 

 

“Kind of.”  Ace retorted as she moved one of her pieces and took one of Grackle’s.  “Grab a brownie.”  She said in a demanding tone.

 

“Frell man, listen to this chick - HA!”  The man who spoke to them first said, then reached for a brownie.  “Hey, free brownies, why not.”  He said and winked to the other man.

 

The woman pulled a Zippo from her pocket and lit the joint, savored the aroma and passed it to the second man then grabbed a brownie herself.

 

The day walkers each ate a brownie and passed the joint around as they watched the game.  The first one to speak to them made a suggestion on a move and Ace told him to ‘shut up skagg, I know what I’m doing’ and he scoffed and looked at the others and made a comment about her being a snot, but the brownies were good.

 

“Check.”  Ace said to Grackle with her next move.  She turned up the boom box the MP3 player was docked in as Rock Soldiers started up.  The day walkers bobbed their heads with the music.

 

They had finished both joints now, and were getting ready to have their fun now that they had all the freebies there were to be offered.

 

“Shit, was that reefer laced or something?”  The woman said as she grabbed the sides of her head.  “Man, I don’t feel right, what was in that shit you little bitch?”

 

“Check mate.”  Ace said to Grackle with a arrogant smirk. 

 

Grackle tipped his king over then stood from the table and moved back a step with his hands clasped behind his back, and he watched.

 

“Hey, cunt, what’d you put in this weed?  Tell me or I’ll cut your eyes out!”  The second man yelled at her.

 

Ace finally faced them for the first time, her smile was far from friendly.  “It’s pure Blue Moon.  Grown by Lady Sea Mist herself, her own special breed of weed.”  She told them as all three were now feeling strange effects and were having trouble standing.

 

“Sea Mist?”  The first man said.  “Why do I know that name?”

 

“Maybe you dumb ass skagg, because she’s the sister of Trustee Snow you dumb frelling day walking skagg.  And Lady Sea Mist always waters her plants with holy water, and you dumb frellers just ate and smoked a shit ton of it.”  Ace said and broke out into maniacal laughter as she watched the day walkers slump in screaming agony to the ground.

 

Grackle had removed the chess board and pieces while Ace was bantering with the day walkers.  She jumped up and stood on the top of the table pointing and laughing at the day walkers as they started to smoke from their skin, eyes, mouth and nose.

 

“Look at you dumb ass frelling skaggs!  You’re going to die!  You’re going to die!  Thought you were going to frell with us did you?  Who’s laughing now dumb frelling skaggs!”  Ace yelled while still laughing, her laughter intensified while they screamed louder and louder.

 

She almost fell off the table she was laughing so hard, her eyes devious and mean.  She continued insulting them and throwing rude comments at them as she enjoyed their demise.  When they burst into flames she was laughing so hard she couldn’t speak anymore.  It took only a few seconds for the day walkers to completely be consumed by the effects of the holy water from the Werewolf Blue Moon inside them.

 

Ace fully enjoyed the show provided by her victims and was now recovering from her fit of laughter at their expense when Grackle came to her and finally spoke.

 

“Time for some lunch, I know a good greasy spoon nearby, Maggot will meet us there.”  His soft voice said.

 

Ace looked at him with puzzlement.  She had expected his voice to be different, not as pleasant as it was, more gruff like he looked.  He almost sounded like he had a throat injury that made his voice unnaturally softer than it should be.

 

“Okay, sounds good to me, I approve, let’s do lunch Grackle.”  Ace said in a commanding voice, proud of what she had done to the day walkers.

 

-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 term ‘greasy spoon’ fit the café they went to all too well.  It was near a suburban part of the city away from the big buildings and dirty streets and had a small town feel to it. 

 

The people were clean and nice, the waitresses were friendly and very busy.  The place was packed and the specials of the day were a Ruben sandwich with coleslaw and harmony fries, or the Munster salad with fruit melody cup and veggie side plate. 

 

Maggot sat in a booth alone near the back.  When they walked in the hostess, Kate, pointed to him right away.  He had apparently made her aware he was expecting company.

 

Maggot seemed not as jovial as before.  Grackle sat next to him leaving Ace the entire other side of the booth to herself.  She stretched out on the booth seat with her legs up and back propped against the window ledge.

 

The waitress came and placed water for each of them, and looked at Ace with a less then pleasant smile, Maggot and Grackle she seemed more kindly too.  She returned a moment later with menus and asked if they’d like some nice tea to start with, she mentioned a mellow brew of an herbal variety that was without caffeine which Grackle nodded yes to and Maggot asked for some Earl Grey with a squirt of lemon.

 

“And you miss?”  The waitress asked Ace who had ear-buds in and wasn’t listening much.  “Excuse me, miss, anything to drink besides water?”

 

Ace pulled the ear-buds from her ears in a short motion and looked upset she had been disturbed.  “Yeah, how about some cranberry juice, no ice and a big glass, okay?”  She said.

 

The waitress smiled and nodded, giving a glance to Maggot and Grackle before she left which Ace let pass.

 

“The food any good here?”  She asked the two men across from her as she sat up at the table while she drummed with a spoon and looked out the window some.  She seemed disinterested in their answers.

 

“Yes.”  Grackle said.

 

“Hm, not bad, actually rather good I guess, never really thought about it.”  Maggot said.

 

“One of you sweet on the waitress here?”  Ace asked as she watched cars go by.

 

Maggot and Grackle looked at each other, Ace’s question was a bit forward, even for her.

 

“No, young one, we’ve both only recently met her, yesterday for me, today for Grackle.”  Maggot answered with reserve.

 

“Oh.”  Ace said short.

 

The conversation dropped until the waitress returned.

 

“Can I take your orders or do you need a few minutes?”  She asked with a courteous smile at all.

 

Ace looked at her name tag quick and started.  “Yes, Jermaine, what the hell are harmony fries anyways?”

 

The waitress cleared her throat, her face was emotionless.  “They’re like American fries only with sweet potatoes as well as regular potatoes and onions, garlic and a blend of lemon zest and sage.”

 

Ace bobbed her head, the mix sounded interesting.  “And what exactly is a Ruben?  Did you cut up a guy named Ruben to make it?  Or is Ruben the chef… well cook?”

 

Jermaine took a breath as she looked at Ace and answered.  “It’s corned beef with sour kraut topped with thousand island dressing on fresh made rye bread, we also have a marble rye that’s very popular.”  She answered.  Then added, “We chop the corned beef right on the griddle while it cooks.”

 

“Corn and beef?  Together?”  She said with a confused look which actually made the waitress smile briefly.

 

“It’s beef that’s been… marinated?  I guess that’s the best way to describe it, seasoned with fennel and other herbs and spices, popular on Saint Patrick’s day, an Irish Scottish favorite.”  Jermaine explained.

 

“Oh, is it any good?”  Ace started then gave an odd laugh.  “Shit, of course you’re going to say yes, you work here, I’ll try it.  If I don’t like it, I’ll let you know.”  She said with a finger aimed at the waitress.

 

Grackle cleared his throat.  “Ruben please Jermaine, thank you.”  He said politely.

 

“And you sir?”  She asked Maggot.

 

“Call him Maggot, he doesn’t like to be called sir, waitress.”  Ace cut in with.

 

Maggot smiled at the waitress.

 

Jermaine had an intrepid look on her face now.  “Let me guess, corned beef and cabbage?  Glass of heavy cream?”  she said flipping the end of her pencil his direction.

 

“Yes, that is what I was going to order.”  He laughed a couple times.  “I’m surprised you remembered.”

 

Jermaine laughed back in a friendly manner.  “Oh come on now, face like yours, so handsome and polite, how could I forget.”  She looked back at Grackle.  “Did you want iced tea with your meal?”

 

Grackle gave a polite nod to her with a smile.

 

“Great, I’ll get this in, anything else before I go?”  She asked the two men.

 

They shook their heads and before Ace could say anything she was off to put their order in.

 

Ace snorted, and scowled after the waitress.  Looking back to her assistants she said, “So, you two eat here a lot?”

 

“From time to time.”  Grackle answered.

 

Jermaine returned with their drinks.  “Sorry about the wait, Condrae had to make a fresh batch of tea.”  She said and place the drinks they had ordered in front of the proper people.

 

Ace had a peculiar expression after Jermaine spoke to them and didn’t say anything while she placed the drinks since she was lost in thought for a moment.

 

Maggot sighed and looked at Grackle then to Ace.  “So, young one, how are you liking your new duties?”  He asked.

 

Ace made a face at him.  “You know, I really don’t like being called young one, I go by Ace now if you would.”

 

“Please?”  Grackle said, more instructionally then as a question.

 

“Please what?  He doesn’t like to be called sir, I don’t like to be called young one.  Hell, I have my own operation now.  Snow and Bait trust me that much.”  Ace said with a sour face.

 

Maggot laughed at her.  “Now, being rude isn’t a way to get ahead, hmm, not exactly how you were raised either, and as to your operation, that remains to be seen.  An officer you must be in order to command, a sergeant is what you are, following the orders of officers.  You have a long way to go before you reach that level.”

 

Ace scoffed.  “Shit, I was just a common squatter till not long ago, now I’m noble and a sergeant, I’ll be an officer before too long, just wait and see.”

 

Unnoticed by the back booth, Jermaine flipped the open sign on the door around and had Kate lock the door.  The customers in the diner could leave easy enough, but now, they weren’t accepting any new customers.

 

Grackle spoke up.  “What is it, Ace, that you hope to accomplish in your service as a protector?”  He asked gently. 

 

Ace looked at him dismissively.  “You know, for a tough looking man Grackle, you sound like a frelling pussy, toughen up some.”  She laughed at his expression.  “Come on, lighten up, our orders are to have fun and be ourselves!”  She said too loudly for the size of the place and the audience.

 

“And this is fun to you?  This is you being you?”  Grackle followed with.

 

Ace said she was having fun, that whacking day walkers was a gas.  She told her story of her first kill and how she fooled the bastards that killed her mother.  She talked on of what she wanted to do, how she would become a great werewolf leader and about the type of mate she would choose, how he would have to be a strong fighter to keep up with her. 

 

She saw herself leading great battles and being admired by thousands upon thousands of werewolves and humans alike.  Bait was going to change how things were done and they wouldn’t hide from humans anymore, it would be like the old days when humans and werewolves lived together.

 

As she talked Maggot and Grackle listened intently, looking at each other occasionally.  Ace didn’t stop talking when the waitress brought their food to them, she only looked up at her for a second and told her to bring her another glass of cranberry juice, a bigger glass this time. 

 

She looked at her food then said she was going to wash her hands and parted for the restroom.  She bothered to look around the café on her way back, taking note of how empty the place was now compared to when they entered.  The smile she gave to people was creepy at best.

 

She was fiddling with her hair when she sat back down and didn’t pay any attention to the men with her as she inspected her hair more.

 

“My hair’s losing color.”  She said then looked at Maggot.  “Is this from the gunpowder you think?”  She asked, then let go of her hair and without waiting for his answer started eating.

 

Ace stopped chomping her sandwich long enough to shout across the café at the waitress.  “Hey, you, where’s my cranberry juice?”  She said.

 

People had turned and were watching her.  Ace give them a snotty look.  “What are you looking at?  Eat your damn food.”  She said to one person then went back to hers.

 

Ace was eating the harmony fries and noticed her hands looked a little off color, she looked them over for a moment then went back to eating.  She didn’t notice the few remaining tables of people were still watching her.

 

Jermaine finally returned with a large red glass and set it by her left hand.  She didn’t leave but rather stepped back a single pace and stood with her hands clasped at her front as though she were waiting for approval of some kind.  The chef had come from the kitchen, there were no orders anyways.

 

Ace went on talking to her table mates, not really paying attention to them or noticing they were only watching her.  When she got to the fruit cup that came with the meal, she bit into one piece of melon, made a face and spit it back into the bowl and pushed it away.

 

“That stuffs rancid, we shouldn’t have to pay for our food if that’s how bad it is.”  She said then reached for her glass.  She noticed Jermaine standing by the table, snorted at her with a condescending look and took a deep drink from the glass.

 

“This isn’t cranberry juice, it’s water…”  She started coughing.  “What is this, toilet water?  Shit’s nasty, cunt.”

 

Ace threw the glass at the waitress, it missed her as Jermaine stepped in and slapped Ace’s face hard.  Her claws slightly extended leaving four deep to the bone gashes in her face.

 

“It’s holy water, we serve it to everyone here.  I can’t believe you’re Noniena’s daughter!”  Jermaine said with force equal to the slap she had delivered.

 

The chef came to stand next to Jermaine as Ace’s face fell to recognition.  “Jermaine… Condrae, I know those names…”  She looked up at Maggot.  “Where are we, what town is this?”  Her voice was urgent now.

 

Maggot’s eyes were heavy.  “It’s called Dodford, den Holes is not far from here, where you were born.”  His voice chilled Ace to the bone.

 

Ace looked at Jermaine then Condrae.  “You, Jermaine, you were my mother’s best friend before I was born; Condrae, you’re the one who taught her how to cook… I know you, we left the den of your home when I was two.”  Her face was distant, almost apologetic as blood poured down her face in a light red that bordered on pink.

 

Maggot spoke.  “Your choice is upon you, Ace.  It was not right for your parents to be taken from you as they were, leaving you alone at such a tender age with no one to look after you.  You jumped ahead of where you should be by many years, of your choice.  Hovlek did as you asked, had Lord Hyden Supreme Bishop of Clans not spoken with him, never would have Hovlek done this thing, to give you werewolf rights.  But it was your right, being orphaned and neigh on your age to ask.  Normally, this would bring you into a family for training, but not for you, you acted of your own and made another choice of the two that were offered.”  He looked over at Grackle.

 

“Now listen, young Ace of House Squat, I do have words for you now, very important ones.  Your hair, it is not losing color, nor is your skin as you noticed but did not notice, you are becoming a gray, something other than what you are.  You are falling between light and dark, and in time will be a shadow of dark.  I can tell you no more, but this, your time of choosing is here.”  Grackle fell silent, no one else spoke and all eyes fell to the lowest point they could.

 

Ace rose from the table and ran for the door.  It wouldn’t open.  “Let me out!  Let me out I demand you let me out!”  Kate didn’t even look at her.

 

Ace kicked at the glass of the door, it didn’t yield.  She grabbed a chair and swung it as hard as she could, it bounced from the acrylic like surface.  She was huffing and breathing hard as she looked around at the faces with eyes cast down.  Only one human sat in the place, all the rest were… werewolf witnesses.  But witnesses for what?  She didn’t know what this was all about, she was a werewolf, almost. 

 

Her stomach churned and convulsed.  She fell to her knees in pain, doubled over as the contractions of her stomach intensified and caused her to vomit on the floor in front of her face.  The contractions hit again, more vomit spewed from her wide mouth forming a sizable pile inches from her lips.  Finally it stopped and she slowly lifted her head a few inches and looked at the steaming pile in front of her.  The smell filled her nose, it smelt… good, good enough to eat.

 

“Go ahead, try some, you’ll like it.”  A female voice said.

 

Fairuza Balk squatted beside her, smiling.  “Eat it Ace, that’s all you have to do to set yourself free, eat your puke.  Smells good doesn’t it?”

 

Ace nodded, it did smell good.  She opened her mouth and started leaning towards the pile she had made. 

 

“You can do it, it’s just puke, your own bile, go on, eat, don’t want to leave with an empty stomach now do you?  Go on, eat.  Eat it and you get what you want, you’ll be a great warrior, I promise, Ace the Great Slayer will be your name, you’ll have an army of the strongest best warriors at your command, any man you want will be yours.  Here, let me help you.”  Fairuza said.

 

She reached her hand into Ace’s vomit and scooped up a handful and moved it to her mouth. “Eat your puke, eat your bile, eat your puke, eat your bile…”  Fairuza started chanting, the witnesses around started chanting with her.

 

“Eat your puke, eat your bile, eat your puke, eat your bile…”  The room encouraged.

 

“Come on, dogs do it all the time, smell it, mmmm, tasty stuff.”  Fairuza said to her.

 

The room chanted on, Fairuza moved the vomit she scooped up to Aces mouth and she opened her mouth wide.  The puke touched her lips, Fairuza pushed it into her mouth.  “Good girl, now chew and swallow, do it, you want to be a great warrior right?”

 

And the devil sat in the passengers side of Deloreans automobile… He said: Hey Frehley, Frehley lets not be silly there’s a life out there to steal…

 

Ace spat hard, the puke left her mouth and splattered into the pile and she shoved Fairuza’s hand from her face, “NO!”  Ace screamed and stood fast.

 

She looked at Fairuza.  “Why are you doing this to me?”

 

Fairuza scooped up Ace’s vomit with both hands.  “Because, you’re one of us, you belong with us, you know you do, you want the same things we want, you want to be powerful and feared right?  Lead an army that would die at your command just for you?”  She shoved the puke into Ace’s face.  “Eat it, eat your vomit, eat your puke, become what you were meant to be Ace, one of us!”

 

Ace kept her mouth shut and turned her face away, Fairuza kept trying to put it in her mouth and her head want back and forth covering her face in her own vomit.

 

Ace’s left hand became a fist and she brought it up just like Mud had taught her, connecting with Fairuza’s jaw sending her flailing back.  “Never!”  She screamed at Fairuza, only it wasn’t Fairuza she had hit, it wasn’t Fairuza at all.

 

“You belong to me now Ace, you’re mine, join us, become what you were born to be.”  Ruth said to her.

 

“No!”  Ace screamed again and started to cry.  The room was chanting ‘one of us, one of us’, she looked around, even Maggot and Grackle were chanting, everyone’s eyes looked sinister as they watched her.

 

“Never!  I was born to be a werewolf!  The darkness will have to play his card game without this Ace in his deck!”  Ace screamed and launched herself at Ruth with clenched fists and mouth wide open for battle.

 

Ace fell face-first onto the floor as she sprang into the air.  She was breathing heavy as she raised her head, her entire body ached from exertion as though she had been fighting for hours, she was exhausted and covered in sweat.  There was no vomit on the floor.

 

A hand came down into her view and she looked up.  Jermaine was offering her a hand to stand with.  She moved her arm and slowly took the hand offered her.  “Thank you.” She said as Jermaine helped her stand and sit back down at the booth.  The witnesses had satisfied looks on their faces.  One by one they each got up from where they sat and Kate let them out the door with the shattered glass.

 

Grackle looked at her.  “This is your choice then, to serve as protector and live by our rules, young one?”  He asked.

 

She understood now, the trial, her test.  Had she passed or failed?

 

Maggot went on from there.  “You have chosen not to serve the darkness, turned from it, but you have taken more than that upon yourself.  You have attempted to serve as a protector, but you cannot be allowed to do so as you are.  The last to have taken her form before her age, did so at about the same age you are, her name was Shoshanna, that is your choice now.  Or you can return to your home and wait your time.  A child of the Light.  But if you choose to begin your duty now, until you are mated, you will only hunt and perform your duties in daylight hours, this is the old way.  This is our law.”

 

Ace looked around, she saw the shattered door, it was real, Ruth was real, in a form.  She had tried to take her.  Her choice was clear, she couldn’t go back now, Ruth would hunt her if she tried.  She could feel that.  Ace looked at Maggot.

 

“I am Sergeant Ace, Day Watch Unit of House Squat.  I serve the Monarchs Trustee Lady Snow and Inquisitor Lord Bait.  I serve House Hyden, Lord Night Harvest of the Highland Citadel and Lord Leyland of the Moor.  I am kin of werewolf kind.”  She said with her head held high.

 

Maggot’s face was set.  His head nodded slightly.  “Then you have chosen, young werewolf.  Stand and take your place among the Protectors.”

 

Jermaine came to the booth beside Ace.  Ace looked up at her.  “You mean… I… I’m to be turned?”  Her voice raised several octaves, she didn’t fully understand what was to happen.

 

Maggot smiled.  “Turned, no, released to your true form.  Aside from Shoshanna, you are the only one who has ever taken on such responsibility at such a tender age, you do her name honor, young werewolf.  You have chosen, now, stand and take your place.”  He said with a proud fatherly voice.

 

Ace looked to Jermaine.  She stood and faced the woman she had been so rude to.  Jermaine smiled at her kindly and leaned her head towards Ace’s shoulder where it met her neck, extended her fangs and released Ace to her true form.

 

-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-

 

I want to tell you all a story about a Harper Valley widowed wife… who had a teenaged daughter who attended Harper Valley Junior High...

 

“I never would have taken you for the country music type… considering…”  Bait said to Blade Dance when he answered the door at his quarters.

 

Blade Dance smiled with a chuckle.  “Sea and I, we favor different types of music, but we appreciate them all.”  He said as he let Bait into the room.

 

Blade Dance went through the normal pleasantries and offered refreshment, Bait refused any and took to a chair at the table in the resting area.

 

“I need you to take a platoon of men, several actually, and stand ready near clan Clay.  I’m sending others to stand ready at the former clan of Frost.  I’ll be leading people from Gueydan’s den and freeing people from the prisons Clay calls treatment centers and meeting up with you and your teams to deal with Clay at his home.  Interested?”  Bait said indicating Blade Dance had a choice.

 

“When do I leave?”  He answered.

 

Bait’s face grew a large smile.  “As soon as you have your team assembled and geared up.”

 

Blade Dance keyed up his mic and called out to someone, and told them who he wanted on the crew that was going to stage near clan Clay.  He didn’t give any details stating he would fill them in when they were assembled in the front yard.

 

“Fifteen, twenty minutes and we’ll be ready.”  Blade Dance told Bait.

 

Bait handed him a sealed envelope.  “Here’s the details of your orders.  Let me know when you’re in position, move out!” 

 

Blade Dance quickly went and put on a uniform and grabbed his gear while Bait let himself out and went to meet with the next purveyor of justice. 

 

 

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Bait sat down on the bed, time for another dose of  ‘Jeremiah Peabody’s green and purple pill,’ as he called River Stone’s snake oil.  He drank the bottle and sprawled out on the bed to wait for the side effects to run their course, then he would check in on Seven’s work and their guest for the day. 

 

As he waited he heard the sound of a train whistle, it sounded cold, empty, it made the hairs on his arms stand up on the small bumps that formed.  He opened his eyes and sat up on the bench he was on.  In front of him was an old steam locomotive, black, all black, the wheels, tank, rivets, every part of the train was black.  The smoke that billowed from the stack was black as coal.  He looked down the length of the train and it’s all black cars which seemed to go on for miles out of sight.

 

He heard laughter, female, two, one younger one older, come from the direction of the locomotive where the ticket office was.  He looked back towards the direction of the sounds.  Ace was walking hand in hand with Ruth.  He felt like he would vomit again, the cold inside him grew.  They were coming from the ticket office, Ace had her ticket in her hand and was talking with Ruth.

 

“Thanks a lot aunt Ruth, your deal sounds a lot better than the lame old werewolf one.”  Ace said to Ruth as they walked hand in hand. 

 

“You’re going to love it on the dark side, all the werewolf rules, we don’t limit ourselves that way, you’re with the winners now.”  Ruth told Ace as they neared Bait.

 

Both women looked at him as they passed.  They snickered when they saw him, Ruth stared him down while she led Ace towards the long black train she had a ticket to ride on. 

 

“Ignore him, he doesn’t matter to you now.  When we win this little skirmish against the puppies, you’ll get to watch him die, you may even get the chance to kill him yourself.”  Ruth said.

 

Ace looked at him and laughed coldly then looked back to Ruth.  “I’d like that a lot aunt Ruth.”  She said, then they passed him by as he looked at their backs.

 

He watched as Ruth led her to the waiting porter that took her ticket and let her into the first passenger car of the train.  She smiled at the man as she climbed onboard, stopping just before Bait would lose sight of her, looking at him and giving him the finger then went the rest of the way into the car.

 

This was a result of his actions, he allowed this to happen.

 

“No, you weren’t offered a choice.  She’s the one with the choices to make.  You just did what you were told to.” 

 

Bait looked over to the man speaking to him.

 

“Sam.”  Bait sighed.  “I know, Snow too, but that doesn’t make it any easier.”

 

Sam sat down next to him on the bench.  “That’s one train I’ll never like the looks of, foul thing isn’t it.”  Bait nodded as he looked at the train.  “You’ve done the best you could to prepare her for this.  You, Snow, Hovlek, especially Sea Mist.  The two with her now, Maggot and Grackle, good men.  Temptation and greed are powerful things, whether or not they’re more powerful than what she’s learned, still remains to be seen.  We won’t know until she chooses, just like with Snow.”  Sam gave Bait the best reassuring smile he could manage, which wasn’t very good.

 

“I know Sam, it’s the not knowing and not being able to see that’s the hard part.”  Bait said looking back to  where Ace had boarded the train.

 

“I do know one thing for sure,” Sam said causing Bait to look at him, “layin’ here on your ass isn’t helping anything.  Get up, fences to mend.”

 

Bait closed his eyes and returned to the human world again and sat up soaked in sweat.

 

-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 took off with the Sikorsky while Bait and Snow left in Philip.  Gueydan had arranged help from a small unregistered den where they landed and took to ground vehicles for the first visit to a prison.  Bait took a different route to where they would meet up with Gueydan and his people, his route took them to a clothing store that specialized in suits and hats of the past.

 

Snow gave him a look of question, but didn’t ask anything from him, she went along with whatever he had concocted, for now at least.  He asked for black G-man suits, white shirts, paten leather shoes and a hat for both of them to try on and find the best fit.  Once they both had the right size, he picked out thin black ties, clip on, to go with the outfits and black classic Ray-Ban styled sunglasses.

 

Snow surveyed herself in the mirror beside her mate.  “We look like we should be in a remake of the Blues Brothers movie, again.”  She said to him with a raised eyebrow that barely protruded above her sunglasses.

 

“Exactly Elwood.”  Bait said, chucked her on the shoulder and turned to the proprietor of the store.  “We’ll take these and two more sets just like them.”

 

“Seriously?  This is the look you’re going for?”  She asked now, not seeing any reason for it.

 

“Yup.”  He answered as he looked himself over again in the mirror.

 

Snow raised her arms from her side and let them drop.  “Ok, fine, we look like a messed up version of the Blues Brothers or Men In Black, if that’s what you want…”  She said and started looking the suit over in the mirror again.  “I do rather like it, I must admit.” 

 

“Yup, it suits us fine.”  He quipped back.

 

Bait paid for the suits in cash and they were back on the road again, they had to hurry now, Gueydan would be on site.

 

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The breaks on the car squeaked as they brought the full sized touring sedan to a stop behind the rest of the vehicles on a small area of the road where it widened out as part of the dirt shoulder of the road before a corner. 

 

“Lord Bait, thank you for bringing me along.”  Exten said, Doctor River Stone was at his side.

 

River Stone was an interesting personality to say the least.  He had insisted Exten needed his attention, and furthered his argument by adding if he didn’t go along, Exten wasn’t leaving his medical facility however disheveled it was. 

 

He put up quite an argument, without either Snow or Bait saying a single word in disagreement with him when he started his speech.  He clearly was expecting some manner of obstacle in his desires for his patient.  When Snow looked at him and said ‘well then, you better get packed if you’re coming with then.  You have ten minutes  he looked like he’d been slapped in the face.

 

Now he was standing here, with Exten, in his own vehicle.  He didn’t ride with anyone else, only he and Exten rode in this Toyota CJ Cruiser.  The back was packed full with things he had brought with that took up the greatest majority of the cargo space in Sea Mist’s Sikorsky and what he managed to acquire, with some objections, from the den Gueydan had gotten their vehicles from.  Caring for Exten was his cover to be on site for those that would be freed from the horrid places they were going.  Clay prisons.

 

“The Inquisitor will have point on this operation, shadow steppers will be at his sides.  Everyone that comes out of this hole will be taken to Physician River Stone immediately.”  Snow began as she addressed the crew.  “Any resistance will be met with force.  Take heads of the resistors.  Follow the Inquisitor’s lead, this is his duty we are enforcing.” 

 

Snow looked over to the small grove of trees across from where they were parked.  “I expect you to join us, all of you.”  She said to the seemingly empty area she was speaking to.

 

Two seconds, then four.  One woman stepped from the trees, then two other people.  Bait was smiling now.  “Enforcers, welcome to my party.  Take your places.”  Bait said.  More men and women stepped from hiding.

 

Twenty four in all came and stood before Bait as Snow watched on.  Their faces were not happy, no, suspicious was what they were.  Not a single smile or glad eye in the group.  Bait stared back until all were assembled.  The patch on their sleeves matched the one in the pictures Bait had from the day at the hardware store, that of the IRA.

 

“You think you be commanding us now human.”  The woman said coldly.

 

Bait broke the first smile, but it wasn’t a friendly one, rather that of knowing and command.  “No, I am commanding you.  Identify yourself or be dealt with.  You are either part of the problem, or the solution.  I give you all your choice now.  You have ten seconds.”  His face went serious.

 

The woman looked at Snow for a moment, then looked back at the faces of the people she stood at the front of as their spokesperson.  As she looked at each member of her team, small nods came from them.  She finally looked back at Bait.

 

“And that’s ten.  Your answer.”  He said to her.

 

Her lips tightened with her face of decision.  “We are all in agreement.”  She said and looked directly at Exten and gave a single nod.  “I am Tuesday, current commander of… The Enforcers your Grace.”

 

“You’ve heard the Trustee’s orders, you will fall in behind us, there is an empty van in front of our car, that is for your team.  You will watch how we work together and not engage unless the Trustee or Physician River Stone order you to.  Anyone who chooses to remain loyal to clan Clay will be turned over to your team.”  Bait told Tuesday.

 

The woman’s face was a mix of amazement and disbelief, her eyes widened and she stiffened some in her stance. 

 

“Load up, we’re moving out.”  Bait said then turned back towards the car he had arrived in, Snow followed.

 

Without any further comments, Tuesday’s crew climbed in the back of the van as Tuesday took the wheel of the van.  Bait pulled out from the side of the road and went to the front of the row of vehicles and led the way to the first prison some five hundred yards away. 

 

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Clay had clearly expected something from the Monarch’s.  A nine person team was waiting for them, Snow and Bait both knew the exact location of each member and notified the crew of their locations.  Two were in front of them at the door of the prison, three flanked to the left and three to the right while the last man slipped in at the back of the precession of vehicles.  Snow climbed out of the passenger side of their car and gave hand signals to Tuesday.  Two of her people climbed out of the back to address the rear guard.

 

Bait climbed out of the car next and raised his hand instructing the rest of their team members to disembark and make ready. 

 

“You are trespassing on the property of Lord Clay, you have no authority here, how ever you perceive yourself.  You are not welcome and if you try and enter by force, I have authorization to detain you!”  One of the two people at their front announced, his crest said he was in command of the guards. 

 

Snow laughed and slapped her hands on her thighs.  “That’s funny, really, Lord Clay puts himself above the Trustee and Inquisitor.  That’s amusing, really it is.  Let’s see how that works out for you, shall we?”  She looked to her mate.  “Inquisitor…”  She said and held an upturned palm towards him.

 

He smiled at her and gave her a light head bow.  He looked to the man who ordered them to leave.  “I am Inquisitor Bait, I declare Lord Clay in dishonor on the claim of treachery.  His den is being disbanded, starting here.”  Tuesday’s people brought the man that was to take them from behind, she herself followed them while the rest of her team waited outside of the van. 

 

Bait looked to the people left and right. 

 

“You all have your individual choices now.”  His three toned voice said.  “Follow your Monarch’s or the dishonored Common Clay.”  Those that had been flanking left and right walked down to the drive in front of the house that hid the prison below.  By the looks on their faces, it was clear his voice commanded them and spoke the truth of their choices now.

 

Bait looked at each person very directly in their eyes, starting with the man held by Tuesday and her three people.  “Choose”  He said as he looked at each of them.

 

When each had had their option to make a choice, the man from the rear of them and two others chose Clay.  Tuesday executed the man her men held immediately after all had chosen and Bait looked at her.  The other two, who had been the two by the house and not part of the six people flanking, quietly walked back to where the rest of the Enforcers stood, knelt quietly and had their heads removed.  They were unable to argue or resist the mental orders of the Inquisitor.  No werewolf could.  By their choice, his judgment was final.

 

Bait walked to the entrance of the prison house and stopped five feet from the door, Snow and Sea Mist walked side by side behind him.  “Open it.”  He ordered as he stared at the door.

 

Two of Vikki’s men crashed forward and removed the door from it’s encasement.  Bait led the crew forward into the house and down to the bowels of the prison.  His voices spoke to each prison guard they met along the way and gave them their choice.  Of those twenty-eight members of the prison staff, only one walked from the mangled entrance of the house to kneel before the Enforcers. 

 

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Now they stood at the reinforced door to the cellblock.  The door was constructed of silver coated steel.  Snow stepped to the front, her hands came out with her fingers forward and she drove them into the door and removed it from it’s place, ripping the bolts of the locks and hinges that secured it then again, slamming it to a wall with such force it became part of the stone she slammed it against. 

 

Silver had no effect on the Trustee.

 

Inside was a familiar sight, like the cellblock of House Squat that had been unveiled, only these cells held more than one occupant, these cells, all one hundred and ten of them, each held a prisoner.

 

Bait’s voice reverberated through the halls and down the levels of the prison when he spoke.  Every prisoner of the Clay’s knew they could pick up a sword and choose to serve the new Monarchs or go on their own way.  Bait walked along the rows of cells alone holding his arms stiff and angled from his sides with his palms forward.

 

As he walked the doors of the cells on his left and right swung open.  Blue hued swords of the living metal of the werewolf people fell from his sleeves and hands as he walked and each was given their silent time of choosing as he walked.  When he made his return trip up from the lowest level, no swords remained on the dirty stone floors, every cell empty.

 

This scene was repeated at four more Clay prisons, the freed people joining with their Monarchs.  Then they moved to the grounds of what would be the last day of Clan Clay.

 

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Though they seized all the cars, trucks, and vans every prison had, they were short on space.  Other dens, both registered and unregistered were watching since Snow and Bait had ordered the operation be broadcast.  More vehicles than they needed were at their disposal by the time they left the final prison they would take on this mission.  The live crowd following them had also grown into a sizable force.

 

But this force was unneeded.  Clay was well aware of what was happening, he too was watching, and had his forces on the ready outside of his home.  Bait walked beside Snow as they went alone to the house of Clay.  Though they tried, none could attack, they raised their swords or aimed their guns, crossbows and bows at them, then had to lay them down and kneel.

 

They walked to the private quarters of Lord Clay.  He was in the mood to argue.  His anger only grew when his personal guard laid their weapons down and walked from the room quietly.  Most went to join the werewolves though some did choose to visit the Enforcers, for a few minutes, but those numbers were few.

 

“You can’t walk into my clan and command my people!”  Clay screamed at them as they walked casually into the room he was in.

 

Snow chortled.  “Funny,” she began giving her lover a glance, “we just did.  Now, what about you mister Clay?  I do think the Inquisitor has some feelings about you.”  She crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him.

 

Clay was flush red, spit flew from his mouth as he roared at her.  “You filthy Bitch!  I’ll see you carried across the river if I have to do it myself!”  Clay bellowed then charged towards Bait with his drawn sword swinging for his neck.

 

Clay missed, at point blank range, he bent his wrists and the blade of his steel crafted sword breezed in front of the face of the Inquisitor.  He roared again, changed to his werewolf self then charged Snow.

 

As his claws touched her, there was no force and he ended up only petting her on the head.  This angered him even more.

 

“Shudd-up you blow hard.”  She said calmly at him. 

 

Clay reverted back to his human form.  “Follow me, we have some people we’d like you to meet.  Tuesday leads them, I think you know her name.”  She looked at her mate.  “Don’t you lover?”  She asked with mock wondering.

 

Bait looked back at her from Clay.  “Oh, does it really matter if he does or doesn’t?  I mean, even if he didn’t, would it change anything?”  He asked returning her mockery poise.

 

Snow pursed her lips as she considered his question.  Her head made a small ‘no’ movement.  “You’re right brother blues, you are right.”  She held up a finger and bobbed it as she spoke now.  “You know, it might actually be better if he doesn’t know her name.”  She perked up and looked happy.  “That way it will make for a fresh new introduction!” 

 

The two laughed at each other, slapped their own legs with their hands as they amplified their mock amusement, then, turned and walked out the way they came in.  Clay, unable to do anything else, walked slowly along behind them.

 

Outside Tuesday’s people secured Clay in front of many whom he had held his prisoner, with bonds similar to the ones that he had had used on them.  This brought much pleasure to those who witnessed the event live.  The viewing audience didn’t say a word.  Some appreciated what they saw, others were coming to terms with things they had done and questioning the reasons behind the orders given that made them do what they had done that didn’t sit well with them.

 

The times… they are a changin’…  Someone sang from the crowd.

 

Snow and Bait couldn’t see what was being broadcast from their mission, nor hear any commentary offered by the news staff back at House Squat, but one can be assured both would approve of Silence’s choice of overlaying the soundtrack with music.  Had they been watching, as Clay was escorted out of the house and presented to Tuesday, they would have heard John Cougar Mellencamp’s ‘Crumblin’ Down.’

 

They were treated, however, to a live rendition of many voices singing, as Clay the Disgraced was taken to remain unharmed during his transport to House Squat, the chorus of the song repeated over and over until the door to the vehicle he was placed in closed with a hollow thud.

 

The same thing happened when Clay was taken into the den of House Squat; as he was led through the den to his cell in the lowest part of the home of Lord Squat where he was given his own cell.  The singers had taken to creating their own lyrics to sing at Clay as he passed.  It seems werewolves also do social media and sent out many Woofs in support with their own ideas of what they would sing at him if they were there to witness what was happening.

 

Seven had created the app primarily as a joke.  For those in the younger generations, two hundred or so years old, the app was a smash and was now very popular.  He’d had to create a tech team to expand and improve it, well, to actually build it since what he had made, wasn’t exactly intended upon for actual use.

 

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Snow and Bait continued on to meet up with the team staged outside of Beautiful Flower’s current abode while Clay was taken to what would be his new home.  He would however receive better treatment than he had given to Exten.

 

Seven and Silence filled in the dead air between broadcasts of Clay’s travel and Snow and Bait’s arrival at den Frost with coverage of Bait’s dot connections that he had finally shown to the command team.

 

Gueydan’s men were in a small grassy field a short distance away from den Frost.  The place was officially listed as only a den as no clan officially lived there.

 

A mated pair greeted the monarchs when they arrived with a smaller team with them this time and a very small audience that followed them.  They met with the team here for only a short minute or so as their plan was simple, go in, take over, leave with their prisoner. 

 

The drive in was depressing to both Snow and Bait, he had seen the place when it was still operational.  No horses roamed the fenced field, the grass and gardens of the front yard were no longer being maintained and had grown out.  The shaggy grass rippled in the light afternoon’s breeze.  Leaves and sticks littered the walkways and veranda of the house.  The lawn tables were dirty and covered with blown lawn debris; the gazebo had a torn screen that wouldn’t see repair from a recent wind storm.

 

Sitting on the front step with Darby’s mate and their luggage was Beautiful Flower.  When Snow and Bait climbed out of their Mercedes, she stood and pointed at the bags.  The woman next to her stood with her then reached for the bags.

 

“Hold!”  Snow yelled.  The woman stopped and raised her head to look at her while her arms froze in reach for the bags.  “The prisoner will carry her own bags to the trunk and place them inside.  You, Lydyriaum will take seat in the front of my car with me and the Inquisitor will ride with the prisoner.” 

 

Beautiful Flower picked up her bags and did as was ordered.  Her intention was that they take her and not ransack her home, it was her last act of pride.  The Trustee looked at the Inquisitor who only clasped his hands in front of him, lowered his eyes and then bent his head down.  He had no objections.

 

Trustee Snow looked at Smashing and Smithereens, the two hand selected mated pair from Clan Vikki that Vikki himself had selected with Hovlek’s grunting, grinning, beaming approval to go with the team sent to Beautiful Flower’s home, snapped her fingers then pointed at the locked front doors.

 

The two grinned at each other as they walked through the front doors of Beautiful Flower’s grand home.  As the splinters fell behind them Snow followed and Bait waited quietly where he stood.

 

Inside the house was a shell.  What Frost’s people didn’t take on their way out, the lady of the house had sold to pay her bills.  It was clear she was destitute now.

 

“Smashing, Smithereens… let it be.”  Snow said with a depressed voice and a face that matched.

 

The two burly mates looked back to her, their eyes fell down as they read her face.  They fully turned towards the door and somberly walked back out, splitting one left and one right of Snow as they passed and each placing a hand on her shoulder as she stood and looked into the empty void of her former home and father’s clan.

 

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“Assemble!  Assemble!”  Allahna yelled as she passed through the halls of the den.  She would key up her pick-up at times when she yelled to put the order out over the radio.

 

Down in the assembly area, Jibble sat straight backed and wide eyed in a chair as hundreds of werewolves filled in the space around him and filling the entire floor of his ‘guest area’.

 

The presences of this many werewolves was very uncomfortable for him.  Not knowing why they were assembling made the situation for him even worse, though he was assuming he was not the subject matter that was the reason for this assembly since they were forming up around him and not focusing much attention on him.  Seven’s people and a few others did form a protective ring around him.

 

A large stone disk was moved by rolling it on it’s edge to the center of they room by several changed werewolves.  It was carefully laid down giving the room a central raised platform for the two approaching speakers and the two women with them.  Just short of the platform Snow and Bait stopped.

 

“Darby, front and center!”  Snow yelled.  He made his way to her as fast as he could.

 

He stood straight facing his Monarchs, his eyes darting between the two.  Bait’s head raised slightly.  He motioned for Lydyriaum to come to him.  She made her way quickly and stood beside him facing her mate.

 

“I believe you know this woman.”  Bait said then looked across the way and leaned his head forward slightly then back.

 

Darby looked nervous, he looked at his mate, then to Bait and back.  A shocked happy laugh came from him, soon his mate joined and went to Darby with a quick embrace.  They both looked at Bait with joy radiating from them.  They made bowing motions, ‘thank you, thank you” each said several times then they hurried off.

 

Snow turned and glared at her mother.  Slowly her hand came out of her pocket.  She held it with a closed hand that would open from the bottom out at her mother straight from her body and opened her hand.  A silver colored ring fell from her hand and pinged on the stone floor.

 

Beautiful Flower watched as the nose ring plummeted from her daughter’s hand, her face told of her understanding of Snow’s intent and feelings about being taken advantage of.  Fear, clean pure unfiltered fear entered Beautiful Flower.  She pissed on the floor.

 

Stepping forward fast, Snow grabbed her mother by the back of the head at the close end of her hair and pulled her abruptly onto the platform to the center and wheeled her around and let all see her face.  Once she made a full circle of the crowd she faced what was considered the front of the arena. 

 

“His Grace Hyden, Bishop of Clans please come to us.”  Bait called out.  Hyden was already near the platform and stepped up when called.

 

Hyden stood in front of the Monarchs he also served.  His hands clasped in front of him he said, “Your Grace, I am here” and gave a bow of his head.

 

Bait cited her known history and her being the reason for Clan Frost’s dishonor.  The assembly area was silent as he spoke.  Snow’s face was still.

 

“Before she chose,” Bait said gesturing to Snow, “it was said you could break her sister’s mating so I may choose Sea Mist.  This was inaccurate, it was not her mating that was to be broken, but Lord Frost’s.”  He said then called for Lord Frost.

 

Wide eyed Lord Frost came to them on the platform.  He said nothing and didn’t look on his mate at all.

 

“The last to have ever had a mating broken Bishop Hyden, was Shoshanna, unwillingly when she was taken by the darkness.  This time it will be for a purpose.”  Bait said to everyone, then he looked at Hyden.  “Any objections?”  He asked.

 

Hyden with his hands still clasped before him, lowered his eyes and bent his head forward.

 

“Bishop of Clans Lord Hyden, as Inquisitor, I order you to break their bond and free Lord Frost from this despicable treacherous woman!”  Bait commanded.

 

Hyden looked at Beautiful Flower.  When he spoke, his breath could be seen in the cold now in the room.  “I have never done such an act, never has it been allowed.  I break you from this honorable man.”  He said then raised his palm towards her and spat.  His hand became a fist and he brought his arm down while holding the palm side of his fist at her.

 

Lord Frost gagged, his head lurched forward as he opened his mouth and spat black blood from his mouth that came from the gland under his tongue.  He coughed then spat again and twice more.  Someone came to him and offered him water, he took it and rinsed his mouth and spat the mix of water and blood out onto the round stone riser.

 

Beautiful Flower’s face was shock, her jaw moved as she worked her tongue around in her mouth.  No blood, just empty.  She looked up at her former mate. “NO!”  She screamed.

 

Lord Frost turned his back to her with his head held up.  Hyden, Snow and Bait did the same as Squat and Sea Mist watched from the near edge of the platform.  The group walked away from Beautiful Flower and were near where the two other known Frost children stood.

 

Snow looked to her kin on the floor before her.  “This woman, this beast, murdered every alpha born child before I survived because she didn’t want a first born alpha daughter.  She tried to dispose of me, but I was not to be tossed into her garbage heap.  She tried to kill my only sister Sea Mist.”  Snow held her hands out to Squat and Sea Mist.

 

Her siblings climbed onto the stage with her as she faced them.  All eyes were held on her.  Her face, as were the faces of her brother and sister were cold hard and full of venom. 

 

“Kill her.”  Snow hissed to Sea Mist and Squat.

 

They moved in a spark, Sea Mist’s arrows connected with Beautiful Flower’s heart as Squat’s blade came down on her from above her head, slitting her down her entire middle.  Both changed into werewolf form and continued until only a chunky puddle remained of the lady of misery and pain. 

 

The arena was silent.  Jibble smiled as he watched.  “Now, that there is some werewolf justice I rather like.”  He said and looked around at those near him and started laughing.

 

His guards and observers nearby looked at him with blank faces for only a moment before they too started laughing, then cheers broke out from the crowd.  Cleaning her own house increased Snow’s popularity just as ending the reign of Clay had for Bait. 

 

The winds of change were blowing hard now, momentum was building.  A catastrophic Snow storm was on the front.

 

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They had both felt when Ace made her choice, which incidentally happened at the same time Beautiful Flower received her justice.  Snow commented later when they were alone together about the situation; how one chose the path she would follow while the other because of her choice ended today.  As one begins, one ends.  She was feeling the complexity of the philosophies of her days.

 

Night would be here soon, they would be relieved of their house guest finally.  He had been the perfect houseguest, no argument there, but his presence gave the place a funky smell.  Seven said the information he was able to get from examining him was ‘keenly interesting, very interesting, yes, interesting it is’ as he had said.

 

Ace had reported in, she was coming by for supplies and so Snow and Bait could meet Maggot and Grackle as they hadn’t yet.  They were interested in meeting the men Hovlek had sent with their young prodigy.  Also, after having had to make the choice she did, presenting oneself before your commanders, especially when they were also your Monarchs, was more than prudent.  She would be arriving on the back of a hog she had reported citing she didn’t want to bring her car near where Jibble could possibly get it back.

 

They talked more about the day and what was coming.  They would work a short night tonight they decided.  Both needed some catch-up sleep, especially Bait.  He had been pushing himself to the ragged edge, and the new medication seemed to help that along; it made him feel not so tired anymore and push harder when he should sleep.

 

Ace radioed in, she would be there shortly.  Bait told her they’d meet in the den house for privacy.  The den was very busy with their guest and ‘guest’ further below.  And since no one actually used the den house for anything outside of the entrance to the den, it made for the perfect office away from the office.

 

The sound of the Harley bikes announced the final landing of Ace who presented herself humbly before them with apologies for her actions that reflected poorly on them.  They assured her their main focus was on her and they were pleased with the choice she had made.

 

She introduced her partners in the new unit, trainers would have been a better choice of words.  The unit hadn’t actually been formed yet.  The two men seemed a bit nervous meeting them.  Snow and Bait stood with their arms crossed the entire time Ace made her report and presented them to her Monarchs.

 

“Maggot huh?  And Grackle.”  Snow said.  Bait nodded along with her as he looked at them. 

 

He finally looked to his mate.  “Didn’t you give the order to also ‘be yourself’ recently or did I hear you wrong Snow?”

 

They both looked back to Maggot and Grackle, each started tapping a foot, he his right and Snow on his left, her left.  After half a minute they cleared their throats, the two men had become more nervous and guilty.

 

“What’s going on?  Why are you saying they haven’t been themselves?”  Ace asked and moved towards her Monarchs and faced her two instructors.  “Why are they saying these things Maggot?  Grackle?  Have you hidden something from me?”  Ace looked at them with a worried look.

 

Maggot scoffed at Bait and shook a finger in his direction and grew a coy smile.  “You, you bastard, you are you know.”   He looked at Ace and grunted once.

 

Her face changed now, she was thinking she knew who he really was.  She started to smile as she thought ‘Hovlek’.

 

Maggot raised his hand to his hairline, his palm came down across his face.  As it did, the cover rhythm he had used to hide his true identity and voice fell.  As Ace nearly fainted again he grunted at Grackle indicating he do the same, which he did and in the same manner Maggot had.

 

“Lord Leyland!  snZm!”  Ace screeched.  She looked at Bait, then Snow.  “Did you two know the entire time?”  She ask.

 

They shook their heads at her.  “No.”  Bait said.

 

“They just can’t hide themselves from us, we knew when we saw them.”  Snow followed.

 

Lord Leyland raised his eye patch.  “For better hallway vision, just like yours only one eye.  I had to make sure you figured it out.”  He said trying to laugh off the rest of what he wasn’t saying.

 

snZm bowed to her quietly.  He had Ace thinking of snZm by his mannerisms alone.  She was already starting to suspect him as not being whom he presented himself as.  But now the cat was out of the bag.

 

“How about filling in the rest of the story for her, your Grace.”  Bait urged.

 

Lord Leyland’s face dropped from his guilty friendly setting to a more serious glare as he looked at Bait.  “Bah!  You’re as much a pain in my ass as that one!”  He said with a rough gesture at Snow.

 

Lord Leyland took few steps towards Ace and crouched down in front of her.

 

He began with a sigh.  “What this pain in the ass is talking about is your father, my House heir to Lord Floyd.  Your mother is the seventy-third daughter of House Hyden, another pain in my ass.”

 

Ace looked back stunned at the news.

 

“You… you mean… I’m…”  Ace fought for words as thought careened though her mind.

 

“Yes, each left their titles behind.  They wanted to earn respect and place without claim of title and nobility.  They wanted to earn their own respect, not have it handed to them because of their birthright.  And they did just that.”  Leyland said to her.

 

He stood and walked back to where snZm stood then looked back to her.  “I wouldn’t be the leader I am, if I didn’t see to the care of my own line.” 

 

Ace understood his meaning and nodded.  “Thank you your Grace.  I hope I didn’t let you down.”  She said with a somber tone.

 

Leyland smiled.  “No, you haven’t.  You faced a hard decision in a time of pain.  You did not stray from your true self.  You have done well daughter of Trust, well you have been.”  He looked to Snow now.

 

“You, my other daughter of Trust, pain in the ass one, more so than this one will ever be.”  Leyland shot a quick glance at Ace.  “See to it she gets her unit and learns to lead as a proper commander.  In her time, and only in her time,”  his eyes fell on Ace for that moment, “she will command the unit she is a part of the building of.  Day Watch, I like the idea.”  He ended with an approving smile and nod.

 

“Come on snZm, let us take our leave and let these two go back to their day.”  He said.

 

The two Lords bowed to Snow and Bait, exchanged their goodbyes and took their leave.

 

They talked with Ace for about another fifteen minutes.  She was told she was not to hunt alone anymore, they would talk with Hovlek and others and arrange a unit for her.  After they finished their meeting, Hovlek was again called upon to return her to her garage for the night.

 

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They went back to their quarters to start getting ready for the night.  They had planned on hanging around where Sea Mist and Blade Dance would be setting up for the night, then Gueydan called and told them the audio files Bait had wanted of the communications with the leader of the unregistered clans had arrived.

 

Bait dropped everything and went to meet with Gueydan, Snow followed with.

 

The recording had barely began to play when Bait stopped the recording.  Snow looked at him.

 

“You recognize the voice don’t you.”  She stated reading him.

 

Bait’s head started to nod and a cocky smile came to his face.  “Oh yes, I know that voice very well.”  He said then keyed his radio to Hovlek.  “Hovlek, have you left with Ace yet?”

 

“No, Hovlek, Ace, still here, was just about to go to garage, get vehicle, is there something Lord Bait needs of Hovlek before Hovlek leaves?”  He asked sounding concerned.


“Yes, I need you not to leave yet, Snow and I will be joining you.  We have a stop to make.”  Bait responded.

 

He ended his call to Hovlek.

 

“So, what are we doing now?”  Snow asked.

 

Bait grinned deviously.  “We are going to visit and old friend.  Tell Sea Mist to grab her blues band, we’re on a mission from god now.”  He laughed good when he was done.

 

-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 and her blues band set up on the sidewalk outside of the small restaurant that advertized the best fried chicken around amply on their windows. 

 

“Malted milk shakes a dollar fifty, not bad.”  Bait said looking at the window from the outside of the establishment.  He looked above the door at the circled K.  “And it’s kosher too.”  He commented offhandedly.

 

Hovlek went in first and took a table near the door.  He read the menu and smiled with some laughs as he pointed at it.  The waitress took his order and put it on the clipped wheel at the pass-through window to the kitchen.  Once they saw the cook take it, the band started playing a blues song and Bait and Snow walked in, in rhythm to the music and in step.

 

The waitress watched them with a look of wondering what they were up to as they came to the counter and sat on a stool.  Slowly she turned her back to them and filled two glasses of ice with water then set them in front of them and pointed to the menus in the holder in front of them.

 

I love that talk, that baby talk…” Blade Dance sang.

 

Snow and Bait looked at the menus, didn’t actually read them, but they put on the impression they had then returned them.  The waitress picked up her order pad and came back to them.

 

“You gentlemen ready to order?”  She asked.

 

Bait put out his arm towards Snow, right at her chest.  “This ones a chick.”  He said then looked to Snow and where his hand was aimed.  He raised his eyebrows then looked at the waitress and shrugged.  Snow punched him in the arm and the waitress gave him a ‘you deserved that one’ look.

 

“Sorry ma’am.”  She said with a smile.  “What you two havin’?”

 

Snow cleared her throat.  “You got any white bread?”

 

The waitress looked at her oddly.  “Yes.”

 

“I’ll have some toasted white bread, please.”  She ordered.

 

“You want butter or jam on that?”  The waitress asked looking to her pad and writing.

 

“No ma’am, dry.”  Snow responded.

 

The waitress looked at Bait.

 

“And what can I get you?”  She asked.

 

“Got any fried chicken?”  He questioned.

 

The waitress smiled and guffawed pointing to a sign.  They looked back at it as the waitress said, “Only the best damn fried chicken in the state of California, not like that stuff you get in a box at some drive through place that thinks they make fried chicken, no sir, this chicken is made from Cletus’s mother’s original family recipe from Georgia.  You ain’t never had fried chicken till you’ve had Cletus’s fried chicken.” 

 

She was clearly proud of their chicken.

 

Bait smiled with a nod and glanced at Snow.  “Bring me four fried chickens and a coke.”  He requested.

 

The waitress hesitated for a moment and blinked quick a few times.  “The four piece chicken, did you want that as a dinner or a basket?” 

 

Bait sounded a touch harsh when he responded.  “Four fried chickens, and a coke.”  He said firmly.

“And some dry white toast, please.”  Snow followed right after with, keeping her part up.

 

The waitress looked at Snow and aimed the end of her pen at her.  “Dry white toast,” her pen moved to Bait, “four fried chickens and a coke, whole chickens…”

 

“Yes.”  He said short.

 

The waitress started to put the order on the wheel, then thought better of it and took it back to the cook.

 

She was shaking her head when she walked into the kitchen.  The man working the fryer noticed her as he raised the next batch of chicken and hooked the basket to drain.

 

“What’s the matter Deloris?  Someone getting too friendly?”  He asked as she usually only bothered her husband when someone got fresh or was rude.

 

Chortling she answered.  “No, no Cletus, nothing like that.  These two,” she put her hand to her forehead with a smile and shook her head again, her blonde hair bounced around as she did, “they think they’re the Blues Brothers I think, or trying to be.  They got some five piece set up on the sidewalk playing their theme music and everything and check this out.  The girl, she ordered dry white toast, and he ordered the four whole fried chickens and a coke.  They’re dressed just like the Blues Brothers too, look just like you when you worked for…”  Her face went limp.

 

“Oh no Cletus, I’ll just send em packing, tell em you ain’t interested in getting messed up in no damn company business again!”  She was clearly upset knowing they were from the CIA.  Cletus had left many years ago and she was happy for that.

 

Cletus was leaning against the edge of the fryer with his hand on the edge supporting him looking into the basket of chicken that was still frying.  He shook his head then looked at his wife.

 

“No, I’ll handle it.  That’s Duncan Galt out there.  Steve Rheineer is probably the one with him.  Steve must have wrangled Duncan back in.  Trust me, I’ll tell them no, but its Duncan Galt, I owe it to him to at least tell him no myself.”  Cletus said then lifted himself off from the edge of the fryer.

 

“Bradley, watch the fryer, I’m going out front.”  He said to another man in the kitchen that was washing dishes.

 

Cletus came to the counter wearing a pleasant friendly smile and extended a hand towards Bait.  “Duncan Galt, man it’s been some years, how you doing?”

 

Bait smiled tightly at him but didn’t reach for his hand.

 

Hovlek cleared his throat as he looked over at Cletus.  Cletus’s eyes narrowed as he looked over at the man that just cleared his throat.  His suspicions were already up, he clearly recognized Hovlek.  Any werewolf would.

 

The person sitting with Bait clearly was not Steve Rheineer.  “Alright Duncan, I’ll tell you now, I’m quit, just like you were only I’m staying quit.  You and I both left for the same reason.  I ain’t going back to that.”  Cletus said with a firm face and held his hands out at Bait as he backed a step away and looked once more to Hovlek.

 

Bait put his elbows on the table and rested his head on his hands he had folded together looking right at Cletus through his Ray-Bans.  “You know my name, I don’t go by Duncan Galt anymore and you know that, Cletus.  Bait put extra emphasis on his name.

 

Cletus scoffed at Bait with a twitch of his head to the side.

 

“Surprised you aren’t laughing your ass off right now Cletus.”  Bait said harshly as Snow reached to an inside pocket of her topcoat and pulled out a mini tablet.

 

She thumbed the screen then turned the tablet towards Cletus as he watched her.  His face said he knew who she was also.

 

“Your personnel file.  Very interesting read, Dreghert.”  Snow said bluntly and with her own brand of harsh.

 

Dreghert crossed his arms.

 

“Loose the attitude, you’re not just a non participating werewolf, you’re the head of the unregistered clans, the one that organized them, now they’re organized unregistered clans, operating the same way the registered clans do only without the Clay influence.  Well, unless he started diggin’ in your backyard, right?”  Bait said judgmentally. 

 

Dreghert smiled a very wry cross smile back at Bait.  “Your Grace, oh great Lord Bait… of the humans,” he was being snippy, “I left the service of werewolves, I have no desire to partake in their antics, the so called lords of all and their laws and ‘if you want to be registered you have to lick my boot’ ways.  I don’t have to join up with you, listen to you or follow any of your orders.  There’s the door,” He said pointing, “it works out even better than in.”  Dreghert leaned back from Bait when he finished his speech, he had leaned in without meaning to.

 

Bait scoffed and looked at Snow.

 

She shrugged.  “You left their service, we’re new, you’ve never been in our service so, you couldn’t have quit us.  Also, we aren’t Clay, if you haven’t checked your messages today, then let me be the first to tell you, Clay is kaput and Lady Beautiful Flower, isn’t so beautiful anymore.  And as for flowers, well, she’s pushing some up.  And as to not being able to order you, do you really want to test the Trustee, or the Inquisitor for that matter, on that one?”

 

Dreghert’s attitude softened a little.  “Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss.”  He said with a scoff and looked from Snow to Bait.

 

“Just because you and I shared some human times together, what makes you think you can walk in here, tell me your sob story and I’d hook right up with you all nice and pretty like?”  Dreghert scoffed again.  “Got Snowcone here acting all high and powerful already, ‘you really don’t want to test me on that one, same shit, different asshole.”

 

Bait cleared his throat with force.  “I understand how you feel, trust me, I’ve gotten the same earful from a growing number of people, but this I am only going to tell you once, ever disrespect the Trustee again, and I do have a place for you right next to the former lord mister Clay.  I call her Snowcone, no one else does.  We’re cleaning house.  You’re part of that whether you like it or not, I have a twelve year old girl who’s parents were snuffed out because of this and she’s taken her duties early.  You’re either part of the problem, or you’re with us.  No middle ground, in, or done.”

 

Dreghert’s eyes became sad.  “Worm did that?”  He shook his head slightly.  “Damn, Shoshanna was the only one to do that.”  Gravity was on him now, the true volatility of the world around him starting to filter in.

 

“Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs, blocking out the scenery and messin with my mind, frell!”  Dreghert turn suddenly and stomped his steps angrily.  He paced back and forth twice then stopped midway and looked at Hovlek.

 

He nodded at Hovlek in a thinking manner.  Bait brought Hovlek for a very precision reason, he knew his reputation and respect would have influence on Dreghert, and he was right.  Seeing Hovlek with Bait worked in ways words could not.  He had clearly kept up on and was well informed of the events around and what Bait and Snow had done as leaders.

 

“She goes by Ace now.  She will run the new Day Watch Unit.  Exten is with us now, you probably don’t know that yet.  He’s going to help her with both her training and how to pick people for her unit.  She’ll be involved in everything that happens with it until she is old enough and ready to take it over for herself.  She’s earned her respect, her parents would be very proud.”  Snow said to him.  She had his full attention.

 

“Exten, he’s alive?  Where the hell’s he been?”  Dreghert was very excited at this news.

 

“House Squat, before it was taken by the good guys, shithead Clay put him in the prison part and sealed it so no one knew he was there.  I figured out where he was thanks to little, very little clues he left behind.”  Bait told his former coworker.

 

“How many people are you bringing into my service?”  Snow asked in an assuming voice.

 

Dreghert looked at her, his face blank.  A long moment passed.  “With those werewolves hidden in the Angels, the ones in the IRA,”  he sighed, “and my people in clans, we are three hundred fifty thousand and change, growing with every birth cycle.”

 

Snow and Bait looked at each other with amazed expressions.

 

“Frell!”  Snow said with excitement in a reserved volume.  She started laughing with joy.

 

Bait’s reaction was similar to his lovers, “There’s your army your Grace!”  They smacked their palms of one hand together then looked back at Dreghert.

 

“Close this place down, Hovlek will give you directions to House Squat, General.”  Snow said then stood up.  “Come on Jake, time to let Jibble out of his cell.”  She said with a smirk.

 

Bait stood and looked at her, gave her a quick smile then returned to Dreghert.  “We have Jibble back at House Squat, as our day guest.  He was there under the rights of Krevdaush.  His time of that, is about to end.  He won’t be participating in Alexander’s little coup; for which he gets a hall-pass for this one.  We’ve been experimenting on him, well, Lord Boxtemmill has.  Be there before nightfall, bring your instruments.”  He looked around Dreghert at the waitress.  “That includes you too Vellehrahnda, you go where your mate goes, thems the rules.”  Then he hooked arms with Snow and they walked towards the door, giving a nod to Hovlek.

 

“I didn’t say yes.”  Dreghert said to their backs.

 

Snow turned her smiling face towards him.  “You didn’t say no either.”  She said then turned her head back.

 

“Why me?  General?  General what?”  He put out, they stopped walking at the door, Bait’s hand was on the bar that went across the glass giving the door a handle.

 

Bait turned his head back this time.  “Because, you’re commander of the werewolves that left because of the problems we are cleaning up, who better to help with that and not pull shit like Clay did.”  He looked forward and pushed the door open.

 

“And it’s commanding General, House Squat, Trust Operations One, Field Operations Base under Trustee Snow.”  Snow said without turning her head as they walked out the door and joined their band.

 

“Hrm, (grunt), Dreghert, not bad chicken, but really, you tell humans this is your mother’s recipe?  Noniena’s recipe, Hovlek knows this to be true, Hovlek is right, is not Hovlek?”  Hovlek said with a gruff tone as he looked to Dreghert with the piece of chicken he was eating in his hands.

 

-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 and Snow took to the hot tub when they had returned from the field.  Sea Mist and Blade Dance had gone to a park and set up for their nights run.  Ace made her appearance and stayed till the long shadows started to walk across the werewolves playing music for any who would listen, which was turning out to be quite a few.  Even the local news channels had started covering the recent addition of musical and other performances that just seemed to randomly pop up around the state.

 

They took their leave early and went with Ace who showed them around her new abode.  They visited with her and discussed her duties and when she would have her people that would train her and help build the new unit.  That lasted about an hour, now they were here soaking in the tub.

 

They could listen in on the happenings and relax.  Snow, like Bait, was nearing exhaustion.  Unlike the immortals, they needed their down time and sleep and that’s what tonight was going to be about, rest and sleep. 

 

They needed to be at their best, with the discovered army which would be arriving soon, they would have their hands full.  Fortunately they weren’t inactive when they left the formal operations of werewolf life, quite the contrary.  They had been quite active and were very well trained, except for the new water cannon and shotgun, but there wasn’t time to bring them up to speed.

 

Dreghert was to arrive in the morning, then there would be the time needed to get all his people here.  They estimated that would take at least two days.  This would be their last chance to relax if they were ever going to get another.

 

“I just can’t get over that Lord Leyland of all people has been masquerading as a Hell’s Angel and not even Hovlek knew, and he rode with him!”  Snow said almost gleeful.

 

“I know, your people are just full of surprises aren’t you?”  Bait answered returning the splash she gave him. 

 

“I’m just happy we have the force we need to deal with Alexander’s horde.  I still wish he would have come here tonight, but I’ll take what Hovlek could get from him.  Besides, we do need to have his leaders here too if we are ever going to coordinate this mess we have now.”  Snow was very relaxed now.

 

“I hear ya, cutting things close.  We still need to figure out what exactly we are going to do after we crack that dome.  Sea Mist says she can create enough vibrations, and Seven agrees with her, and drop the church right into the pit below.  That leaves us with a huge opening for the horde to pour out from, we aren’t going to kill many dropping the place.” 

 

“Right.”  Snow agreed.  “And still leaves us short handed.  Dreghert’s people will be around two fifty, two seventy five excluding support staff and young ones.”

 

They talked shop a bit more then Bait stood from the tub and announced, he was hitting the sack.  Snow said she would be with him shortly, she just needed to brush her hair first which was to her bottom now.

 

After he dried, Bait went to the bed and laid down.  He was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.  Snow came in a little while later, tried to talk to him to no avail then took off her light robe and climbed under the covers, and like her mate, was out instantly.

 

-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-

 

Midnight, just past it slightly.  They were out hard, Sergeant Allahna had tried the chime, they slept through it so she had to resort to the direct method.

 

“WAKE UP!”  She bellowed while standing at the end of their bed.  “Attention on deck!  Trustee and Inquisitor needed at front yard!  Vampire minion on grounds requesting to speak to the Inquisitor!”  She informed them in a still very loud voice.

 

“We’re awake, take it down a notch.”  Bait said to her a bit cross.

 

Snow was rubbing the sleep from her face.  “Vampire, kill it, no more problem, goodnight.”  She said in a stupor and flopped back down.

 

Bait who was sitting up still, nudged her.  “Babe, vampire minion, requesting us, me primarily because… I’m not sure why actually.  Jibble should be gone.  Ruth, has to be her, she’s the only one that just shows up.”

 

Snow pulled herself back up and looked at her mate.  “Great, what’d she bring us this time?  This better be good.”  She said and swung her legs over the edge of the bed.  “Our only night of rest and she drops in.  Joy.”

 

Bait looked at Allahna still standing at the foot of the bed.  “Thanks sergeant, go bother other people now, we are most definitely awake.”

 

Allahna was grinning ear to ear still, nodded her head, then made a crisp turn and marched out of the room.

 

-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-

 

As it turned out, Jibble had not left yet.  He had made arrangements for a car to come and get him, that car was about an hour past due.  He was brought up too when the announcement of a minion on grounds came out but was being kept out of sight.

 

The minion was keeping just to the edge of a hill with a tree on the property.  No one had seen which minion for sure, an arrow hit the door with a message requesting to speak with Bait or Snow.  The Inquisitor was the natural choice, even though his duties were primarily for werewolves, the rules did say a vampire or minion could also request him.

 

“Come out come out wherever you are, come on, ol’ Cody’s got something for your stink hole.  Heh, well all your holes stink really, shit, I’ll just run ya thru on all of ‘em!”  Cody was yelling towards the hill and taking the occasional potshot at the area.

 

Only Ruth would be so bold. 

 

Hovlek showed up about the same time Snow and Bait did.  They went to the area that werewolf forces had set up a firing line as it were.  Once there Snow called out that the Trustee and Inquisitor were there.

 

“Do I have your word you won’t have any of your people attack me?  I’m requesting and audience!”  Ruth’s voice replied.

 

Cody fired again.  “Hold your fire!”  Snow yelled at him.

 

Cody looked over at her from where he stood a few yards away.  “You’re not going to… frell what is this, minion hotel?  We’ve already got one here your Grace, do we really need another?”

 

“Cody…”  Snow said with a tone that made him hush.

 

She called everyone back from where they had set up a defensive line and told them to stay behind her and Bait. 

 

“I’ve ordered the shooting stopped, so I can hear what you have to say.  Just say your piece and get out of here.”  Snow yelled back to Ruth.

 

“Krevdaush, I request Krevdaush from the Inquisitor so I may approach, that is my right, right?”  There was a hint of uncertainty in her voice when Ruth asked this.

 

Snow looked at Bait.

 

“Request denied.”  He yelled back.

 

The hill was silent.

 

Snow made an angry movement, then she started moving very animated and stopping.  A growling yell came from her as she clenched fists and bent her head back.

 

Bait looked at her, his face became slack, he knew what was happening.

 

Panting Snow looked at him, her hands still clenched.  She had freewill, but wouldn’t let it over ride her commitment to her duty.

 

“Inquisitor, I have an objection.  It is her right, I must order you to grant her, her request.  She’s a minion now, it is her right.  I’m sorry lover, thems the rules.”  Snow said, her voice carried her disgust at what she had to do. 

 

Bait looked back towards the hill.  He sighed, gave another look at Snow then looked back to the hill.

 

“Ten minutes, that’s all I’m giving you Ruth, ten minutes starting now.”  He yelled over to the hill.

 

Snow had their people move back more towards the house leaving more space between them and their monarchs.

 

Ruth poked out from behind the hill, gave a quick look around then trotted towards them.

 

Hovlek had stationed himself to one side of the activity, but had left distance between himself and his commanders.

 

Ruth raised a palm at him and wiggled her fingers in a waving gesture and smiled at him.  “Hi Hovlek.”  She said, her voice was actually friendly, flirty even.

 

Hovlek snickered and waved back, feeling the eyes on him he blushed and grunted then growled taking to his normal stance again.

 

“This is different.”  Jibble said quietly from his hiding spot just inside the doorway, not necessarily to the werewolves watching him, more to himself in observation.

 

There were rude sounds and comments thrown at Ruth as she went to meet Snow and Bait.  Snow turned quickly, look at her people and snapped her fingers.  The sounds and comments halted instantly then she turned back to face Ruth.

 

“Hi Snow, nice hair.  Just get out of bed?”  Ruth said to her.  She smiled at Bait. “Hey lover, sorry, no smoothies this time.”

 

“Eight minutes left, get to it.”  Bait said.

 

Ruth looked around, she could not see Jibble from where he was held in the den house.  “Could we possibly get some privacy?  I’m cool with Hovlek staying.”

 

Bait looked at Snow and shrugged.

 

“Fine.”  Snow said and ordered everyone, except Hovlek away.  In the end, being what Ruth was, they were actually in danger if they remained and she did attack.  Looking towards the house she hand signaled for Jibble to remain.

 

“Does their leaving time count against me?”  Ruth asked looking between the two.

 

“You’re ten minutes will start now, Hovlek, time it for me would you please?”  Bait said and Hovlek grunted his yes with a nod.

 

“Thanks puddin-pop.”  Ruth said with a smile at Bait.

 

Ruth fiddled with her hands and looked around nervously with her eyes.  She opened her mouth to speak a couple times and only managed to get an ‘ah’ and an ‘um’ out.

 

“You’re wasting your time, and ours.  Stop with the act and get to it already.”  Snow said to her finally.

 

Ruth looked hard at Snow.  She sighed.  “Look, this is hard, okay.”  She sighed again, the faces of her hosts had suspicious questioning on them now.  “I… I didn’t have anyone else to talk to, you know.”  Ruth stomped a foot, turned away for a moment looking at Hovlek.

 

Taking a breath she turned back to Snow and Bait.  “Melvin, I had turned him.  He kinda was my best male friend, best friend period actually, in college.  He was smart, really smart.  I wanted him as part of my… ah… crew I guess.”

 

Snow and Bait looked at each other for a second or two, their eyes said this situation was a bit confusing.

 

“Last night, when I asked him why he joined me, let me turn him, he said because he was in love with me then.  Was.”  Ruth rolled her eyes up, her lower lip quivered.  “He didn’t anymore.  When I got up tonight, he wasn’t there.  He left me this.”  She said and handed the note to, Snow.

 

Snow took the note with bewildered eyes and read it.

 

My dearest Ruth,

 

I could see in your eyes your pain knowing I once loved you, but do not now.  Forgive me for the pain I caused you.

 

I came to this country from a land of warmth and sun.  Life abound all around us in South Africa.  California, though nothing like Africa, is still a land of warmth, sun and life.  I wanted to be with you.  I made a mistake that I must now correct with the ultimate price.

 

I cannot live in darkness, I miss the sunshine on my face and the feeling of warmth in my body.  The rising sun is soon, I have gone to see it one last time.

 

Your friend,

 

Melvin

 

Snow looked up from the note, she had silently read it to Bait also.  Her mouth was agape and hadn’t a clue as to what Ruth expected from her.  Ruth’s eyes suddenly narrowed and she snatched the note back from Snow’s hands as she held the note in front of her still.

 

“I smell Jibble, what’s he doing here?”  Ruth said suddenly and looked towards the door.  She stuffed the note into a pocket on her pants.

 

Bait nodded slowly.  “Jibble spent the day here, he arrived last night.  You delivered our request for Krevdaush with him.”  Bait turned and looked back at the door.  “Jibble, might as well join us.”

 

Jibble put his hat back on his head and sauntered to them with his usual polite smile.  He reminded Bait of a black Hannibal Lector at that moment.  He came and stood next to Bait.  It was an odd arrangement at best.

 

Bait’s attention returned to Ruth.

 

“Hello Ruthless, fancy meeting you here.”  Jibble said softly.

 

“I really don’t know what you expect from us.”  Bait said, his voice was cold.  “To me Ruth, it just means one less vampire my people have to kill, honestly.”

 

He could tell his words cut Ruth hard, Ruth could see that he really didn’t give a shit about her.  To him, she was next on the menu for them both after they finished Alexander. 

 

For the first time in her life Ruth felt utterly alone and missed all the people she had been cruel to.

 

“How’d you get here tonight Ruth?”  Snow asked offhandedly.

 

Ruth blinked and took her eyes off Jibble.  “I, I drove.”  She said befuddled by Snow’s sudden question.

 

“Good, the night’s still young, you can give Jibble a ride home.  Maybe he can stay at your place and you can both embrace morning’s kiss.”  Snow said to her with the same cold Bait had had in his voice.

 

Ruth scoffed then Sea Mist stepped from the shadows, with a tray in her hand just to the right of the gap between the two sides facing Ruth.

 

“Hey now, that is rather rude sister, come on, poor chick’s had her heart broke.  Here, I had smoothies made.”  Sea Mist turned her face towards Ruth.  “Figured I’d return the favor since these two clearly aren’t about too.  Strawberry, kiwi, banana and the chef used agave and heavy cream in them.  Soooo good.”  Sea Mist said with a very perky voice and manner.

 

She handed the first one to Ruth then one to Jibble, Bait, Snow then the last one to Hovlek.

 

“Thanks Sea Mist.”  Ruth said quietly.

 

“Hey, no problem.”  Sea Mist said as she dropped the tray, grabbed a large boulder and carried it next to Ruth and placed it next to her then stood on it so she was near the same height as Ruth.  Jibble this time had the confused look.  Snow and Bait both suspected she was up to more than smoothie delivery and waited her out. 

 

Sea Mist put her arm around Ruth’s shoulders and turned a pleasantly smiling face towards her.

 

“When I’m feeling down, I have a good smoke and stare at the stars.  I’d offer you some of mine, but for you it being killer,”  Sea Mist had a moment of laughing, “is an understatement really.  But personally, I don’t give a frell.”

 

Sea Mist reached her other hand into a pocket and pulled something from it.  She put her hand in front of  Ruth and opened it showing the rest of the grenade to her.

 

“Seven perfected the light grenade Lolith had built from his design.  Now bitch, my sister and her lover who isn’t going to leave her and doesn’t have to hide from sunlight, they can’t attack you, but I can.  Here’s the rest you should know you black daemon bitch.  This grenade is one of about… oh I’d say a good forty or so now ready to be shoved up your ass.  Jibble, he gets a pass by Bait and my sister’s orders.  At this range, I’m not about to miss when I shove this thing down your neck.”

 

Sea Mist worked her thumb and the pin from the grenade came out and she held the spoon that kept it from detonating.  Snow and Bait had no objections.

 

Sea cocked her head around with a pert smile.  “Now, I’ve seen your car, nineteen sixty-nine Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, stolen I presume, your time is up, I timed it myself.  Now, here’s what’s going to happen.  You and mister Jibble here are going to walk to that car, both are going to get in and drive off.”

 

Sea Mist chortled and gave Ruth a light kiss on the cheek.  “After that, you, cunt, are going to stay away from my brother’s House, and leave my other Brother and my only sister alone.  Just to be clear, I know as a vampire you took a big hit in the old IQ, get the frell off our property or I am going to shove this grenade down your throat and my brother, his men have a few more and the means to put them into you.  Got it?”  Sea Mist rocked Ruth by the shoulders and cackled.

 

Jibble stepped forward.  “That’s our cue to leave Ruthless.”  He said and started walking past Ruth.

 

Ruth slipped from under Sea Mist’s arm and turned from those watching and started to follow Jibble.  Suddenly she broke and ran to Hovlek.  She bent at her knees, put an arm behind his neck and kissed him then trotted back to Jibble while drinking from the straw in the cup Sea Mist had given her.

 

Ruth looked back a final time.  “This smoothie is really good, thanks Sea Mist.  See you in the morning.”  She said.

 

A few minutes later the sound of a car engine starting was heard, then the car drove off.

 

Bait and Snow looked at Sea Mist.

 

“Polite yet threatening.  Nice style cutie.”  Bait said to her.

 

Snow laughed as they turned around and started walking back to the house.  “Yes, you’ve really blossomed Sea.  Nice touch with the smoothies, and they are good.”

 

 

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