Fuckwittery ✯ Asskickery

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✯Geeks on Ink✯

The Wolves of Haven that never saw the light of day!

Since I'm working on Wolves of Haven: Marked (book five of six), I was looking through my original files and notes... I have notes ALL OVER, mainly before I free ball write and stuff pops into my head and I run with it. I found something interesting.

Those that don't know the story, Wolves of Haven came about through a dare really. My midget, he LOVES werewolves and vampires. He was the reason Forbidden Alliance came about, Prophecy wasn't tossed to the way side, and he was, once again, responsible for Wolves of Haven. We were watching the television, Hannibal or something, I can't remember, and I made the comment that there was a BIG hole, in my opinion, in fantasy crime crossover. He agreed, he usually does but more often than not he is simply agreeing to shut me up so he can watch the television. I told him werewolves would make AWESOME cops because of their heightened senses. Again, he agreed.

After rambling for thirty minutes or so, I finally smacked him with a pillow for ignoring me. He turned and looked at me, "Write the damn thing only throw something in there no one will see coming and make sure you back it up with lore, mythology, science, whatever you're consumed with. Now stop assaulting me, Woman."

And that is how Wolves of Haven started.

The first book was effortless (other than Canadian police procedure which I had to research the shit out of). Only took a couple of weeks to write and I was pretty excited about it. Akia was dry, at first, but I wanted her to come out of her shell. There was a reason for everything.

The second book started quickly, but two chapters in I stopped because I was rushing it, I felt. There wasn't a natural progression to it. It was just THERE.  Because it was there, it felt unrealistic, even for a urban fantasy, and I didn't like it. I hadn't a clue what Bitten was going to be about, it didn't even have a name really. The premise I wasn't sure of, but I knew I needed to pull certain characters deeper into Haven, pull the reader into their world, because in their world was the only place Damian and Akia's relationship would truly flourish and Akia, as a character, would develop into someone the reader gave a shit about...

I'm rambling, sorry.

Anyway, looking through my notes I discovered the ORIGINAL first couple of chapters from the original draft/concept of Wolves of Haven, book two. I might salvage some of it, I might not, but I thought you might enjoy a giggle... Remember, these are unedited and were drafts so don't bite my head off.

Enjoy.



Chapter

The darkened area was only scarcely illuminated by the dimmed lights dotted along the sides of the lap pool under the water and the glow of red light coming from the emergency exit sign in the far corner. The lane dividers bobbed as the lone swimmer disturbed the water with each stroke and kick. For hours he had been swimming laps, well after those at the front desk closed up for the night, asking him to lock up when he was done, and after hours of physical exertion he hadn’t untangled any of the things that had been keeping him up each night for the past month.
Damian Nikas was used to having a sense of control over everything in his life, but now that control he had fought to have, the freedom that came at the expense of relationships and stature in his pack and family, were being taken from him, again, and he wasn’t sure what to do. Five years ago he would have fought, viciously if needed, in order to secure his freedom and control over his life and future, but now that wasn’t an option. If he fought, made a public stand and challenged the last person he ever wanted to challenge for a position that he had no interest in having, it meant that the woman he loved would be pulled into it, and that he wouldn’t permit to happen.
It went beyond the fact that Akia de Wolfe, a member of the Wolves of Haven, was from a smaller pack, one that Damian’s father, Arno, had privately voiced his disdain in regards to over the years. It was more than the fact that she was the chosen one in the eyes of her Alpha and would be the next to lead without a fight or vote of confidence from the others of the pack. And it was more than the fact that Damian had pledge his allegiance to the Wolves of Haven in order to have the Alpha’s blessing so he may continue his relationship with Akia; if his pack found out, that alone would earn him a quick death sentence at the hands of the Alpha, his own father. The woman he loved, the person that he never expected to find, was a werewolf, the lone female of their species, and had no control over her wolf, Eve, or memory of Eve’s actions. Referring to herself as another person was concerning and terrified him that she might indeed be completely insane, but after hearing the horror stories from her brothers of just what Eve was capable of, he was grateful and understood Akia’s apprehension of sharing a life with the demonic creature she went to great means to tether. The body count that was still being tabulated, the Changeling’s very long murder streak that was more than a century long, was concerning and would prove to be a problem if someone of the non-wolf variety connected dots that the Covenant were feverishly trying to erase. Damian still believed that the fifth victim,

 When Damian flipped around and dolphin kicked, covering nearly half of the length of the pool before resurfacing, he caught a faint whiff of a new scent mingled with the chlorine, and it made him smile internally. When he reached the end of the pool, he treaded water and looked up at the woman sitting on the edge of the pool with her feet in the water in his lane.
“Captain,” Akia said with a nod, her attention on the report she was going over in her hand.
Damian shook his head in resignation. “Is there something I can help you with, Lieutenant?” he asked.
“Many, many things, I’m sure,” she said as indifferently as possible before turning the page.
His cock didn’t miss the underlying meaning of her statement.
“What are you reading?” he asked, trying to distract himself from the arousal that was suddenly pressing against his restrictive swim trunks.
Akia turned the file around and showed him. “It’s my psych eval,” she said.
Damian cocked an eyebrow. “Isn’t that supposed to be for my eyes only?”
She shrugged and returned her attention to the report. “I can neither confirm nor deny since the coversheet that said confidential fell into the paper shredder.”
“Really?” he groaned, trying to keep from threatening her with a spanking. “Should I be concerned with the diagnosis and recommendation from the department psychologist?”
“Let me start by saying the shrink doesn’t like me,” Akia said. “Second, she seriously has a hard-on for you, Captain.”
He shook his head.
“The shrink doesn’t support me being reinstated in the field and off of a desk. In her professional opinion I have Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, which I am apparently in denial of, how that’s possible I don’t know. Isn’t that special?!” she beamed with a face consuming smile.
“Sarcasm noted,” Damian dryly informed her.
“Since the subject… I am assuming I am the subject in the matter,” she mused, “is in denial and uncooperative, she is strongly recommending six months of limited duty in the archives—she apparently wants shot—and group therapy and one-on-one psychiatric help once a week, and large doses of anti-depressants and lithium. Ooh, if only she knew the half of it,” she said, longingly.
Damian gave her a look. “Are you done?”
Akia smirked, looking slightly evil and up to no good. “Not even close. Are you going to put me on a desk?”
 “Should I?”
“Not if you want to get laid again,” she whispered before licking her lips.
And he was painfully aroused again.
“We’ll discuss it later,” Damian grumbled, trying to control his body, but the siren-like call of her very presence was overwhelming. “If there is nothing else,” he said in a clipped tone.
Akia nodded her understanding. “Not at the moment, Captain. I’ll walk you out.”
He softly growled under his breath causing her to smile.
After a quick shower to rinse the chlorine from his hair and skin, he quickly changed back into his suit since he refused to humor Akia by wearing workout clothing in public, shoved his vest and gym clothes in his bag then joined her poolside.
“It is truly belittlingly to my manhood and inner wolf to require an escort,” Damian said, motioning her towards the exit.
Akia shrugged her shoulders ever so slightly, her way to telling him it wasn’t intentional and to get over it.
They walked in silence through the darkened athletics center, heading towards the employee entrance. Akia was still flipping through the horribly written report from the department psychologist that is adamant that Akia shouldn’t be out in the field after her kidnapping by a psychopathic serial killer barely a month ago. To the surprise of all those carrying badges, once she woke from nearly a week long nap to recuperate from the stress, physical strain, the climatic release of her cycle, Eve’s appearance on the black moon, and the explosion and near drowning in the river, she was ready for work.
That wasn’t a surprise to Damian, and if she wasn’t he would have been concerned. Akia was stubborn and ridiculously hardheaded when it came to work. She hated being out of the field, hated having to have others pick up the slack because she was being shackled by a desk and department psychologist that she fantasized about shooting daily, and hated having to sit in the bullpen and ignore the accusatory looks and whispers from the others.
Department procedure dictated that Akia ride a desk and get checked out by the department psychologist—that, by far, was worse than riding a desk in Akia’s opinion—and take time off. Two days was all she took once she returned to Boston; amusingly enough those days were already scheduled off prior to her heading Haven. When she returned to work, she and Captain Nikas had gotten into it in his office, the sound carrying through the glass-walled enclosure surprisingly well, but it was all for show. Yes, he was irritated that she wanted to get right back into the saddle, he himself wanted to take a few weeks off and simply stay in bed with her wrapped around him, but duty called, and it called for her as well so he couldn’t be pissed at her for wanting to get back to work. In order to continue to keep up appearances, Damian stuck her on a desk and that, in turn, caused his sex life to become as non-existent as Akia’s caseload.
“Why are you so eager to return to work?” Damian eventually asked.
“I miss it,” Akia said as if it were obvious. “Can you blame a woman for missing checking out her Captain when no one is looking from across the room, or listening to the outlandish fantasies from the bitches that are delusional enough to think that they stand a chance with him, the familiar smell of gun oil from carrying my sidearm, spending ungodly hours on reports that get black inked and sent back, the chaffing from my vest, the thrill of the hunt,” she said the latter ominously.
He rolled his eyes; her sense of humor was one of her best qualities. “Maybe you should be on even more anti-psychotics because you are obviously crazy: no one likes those reports or uncomfortable bullet proof vests.”
Akia smiled wide; he knew she actually enjoyed all of that, and it’s what made her an exceptional cop because she took it all in stride.
“The next body,” Damian conceded when he closed the door behind them then turned to lock it, “will be yours. Will that appease you, Lieutenant?”
Akia smiled wide. “Very much, Sir,” she started to say but it drowned out by the blaring of a gunshot, and it was quickly followed by another and another.
Damian spun around, protectively reaching for Akia with one hand to pull her behind him, and pulled his sidearm with the other as she stumbled back into him. He returned fire, hitting the back on black SUV that was speeding away, shattering the back and side window, and hitting one of the back tires causing the vehicle to lose control. It swerved uncontrollably, sideswiping and ricocheting off of the parked cars lining the street, before failing to navigate the corner and flipped.
A loud, primal growl rolled from Damian’s throat, his wolf wanted a piece of the bastard that just tried to kill him, but before he could hurry down the street towards the burning SUV, the smell of blood slammed into him.
“Akia?” he asked, carefully lowering her to the ground. When he saw the blood freely flowing from three gunshot wounds, his eyes widened. “No!” he yelled and frantically struggled to stem the blood that fully saturated her shirt and jacket.
Akia choked and gasped, struggling to breath but it was getting harder to draw breath. Her eyes rolled around and sluggishly blinked. Blood stained her lips and teeth and was expelled with each breath she struggled to take; she tried to pull herself up, using his blood stained suit jacket for leverage, but she hadn’t the strength and slumped against him.
“Akia?” Damian choked, shaking her when her eyes lolled shut. He ripped her shirt open and his eyes widened; the wounds were not closing, not in the least. “Latria Mou!” he yelled, trying to shake her awake but she was unresponsive. “Latria Mou!” he continued to yell, trying to invoke Eve, the wolf side in order to heal her at werewolf speed since she wasn’t healing in the least but that proved futile. He pulled his cell phone out to call for help; repercussions he’d deal with later. “Officer down! Officer down! I need medics to the Boston PD athletic center’s on Beacon Street. Send back up units and paramedics, now!” he yelled to dispatch before dropping his phone.
“Come on, Latria Mou, stay with me,” he pleaded, laying her down then started chest compressions. “Come on, breathe!” he yelled then blew into her mouth twice before resuming compressions. He couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t healing, why her body wasn’t pushing the bullets out as he had seen it do many times before, or why the blood wasn’t stemming as her skin mended itself, leaving smooth, blemish free skin behind. Wounds inflicted to a werewolf in a human means healed quickly, it was something that was useful but took creative ways of covering it up; however wounds inflicted of a werewolf nature took much, much longer to heal, more comparable to human healing, and that’s what it appeared was happening, but why? Bullets weren’t werewolf in nature, they were lead, shot from guns, and easily rejected by the body.
So why wasn’t Akia healing?
She wasn’t breathing.
Her heart no longer beat.
And his felt as if Damian’s was being crushed in his chest.
When the first responders arrived, the medics took over for Damian and he sat back on the ground, covered in blood next to them, watching in a daze as the EMTs worked in a blur of movement as they attempted to bring her back.
“I found a pulse but it is weak,” one of them said after twenty minutes of CPR and shocking her heart, and motioned for the gurney.
Damian’s breath rushed out of him and he scrambled to his feet and helped the EMTs load Akia up on the gurney then demanded that he accompany her to the hospital when they tried to close the ambulance doors on him. He pulled his sidearm and pointed it at the EMT trying to pull rank on him. “There will be two needing surgery if you don’t get the fuck out of my way,” he warned with a snarl.
The EMT nodded and backed away, returning his attention to Akia while keeping an eye on the man sitting across from them with a gun in hand.
When he sent to work trying to stem the blood gushing from the three gunshot wounds, tears flooded Damian’s eyes; the holes in her chest and abdomen weren’t healing and they wouldn’t stop bleeding. Her blood pressure was lethally low, they were trying to type her blood to arrange for a transfusion but they wouldn’t have it on the ambulance and not enough at the hospital to replace what was Akia was losing.
“B-Negative,” Damian said, shrugging out of his jacket.
“We don’t have anything compatible with that.”
He rolled up his sleeve then rummaged through a medical kit by his feet and pulled out of collection kit. “You have an untapped source in front of you. Take it. My blood is clean and Ak…de Wolfe wouldn’t have a problem with it. Hook me up.”
The EMT, Devon, wasn’t amused. “That is against protocol,” he pointed out but did as the armed Captain demanded, “and I will be reporting this.”
“I expect no less from you,” Damian said, his attention on Akia’s face and the ghastly pallor that had replaced her light tawny complexion. He didn’t feel the sting of the needle inserted into the vein in his arm, and he made it a point to not look at the syringe or tubing used for the direct inter-human blood transfusion, because if he didn’t he completely lose it. “Wake up,” he whispered, squeezing her hand.
Soft growling caused an even deeper, more menacing growl to roll from Damian before his eyes snapped to the EMT.
“If you value your life and that of your family,” Damian scathingly said, “especially that of your new born son who was confirmed as the heir to your bloodline, you will forget that you saw me tonight, and especially forget my actions.”
“Questionable behavior and demands from the heir to the Alpha,” Devon retorted, going about his business.
Damian smirked, his features hardening, and for a moment he looked just like his father. “The latter is what should concern you,” he venomously reminded him. “The Alpha will stop at nothing to secure his position and reputation, and having a soldier, one of the lowest class of the pack, throw around allegations that the Alpha’s heir acted in a questionable means will only be confirmation of your death and that of your family. Never forget whose blood runs through my veins because it’s accompanied by no conscience and a lack of remorse. Do you understand?”
Devon fought the snarl tugging at his upper lip and he nodded, returning his attention to his patient.
“If you have no fear of the Alpha,” Damian said, choosing his words carefully, “then perhaps the Gamma would have a different opinion on the matter, especially concerning the woman that tracked and killed the Stray that killed his precious Arianna.”
Devon’s eyes snapped up to the sapphire eyes burning into his. “Proof of death was confirmed by the Alpha that his heir claimed it,” he harshly whispered as he worked on the woman between them.
“She was next,” he hissed. “She freed herself then fought back before he could kill her, claiming his life in the process. The building the Stray was hiding in exploded before I could get there, and I was barely able to pull her from the river before she drowned! That woman I owe my life to many times over so you will mind your tongue or I’ll inform the Gamma of the truth, and the wrath of the true Alpha of the pack, the one that is thirsty for blood and atonement, will show no mercy. Heed my warning, Soldier.”
Devon nodded. “My apologies, Sir,” he humbly said, his attention returning to his patient. “I will do everything possible to save her.”
“You better,” Damian said. “Because if she dies, so will you.”

When they arrived to the hospital less than ten minutes later, Damian continued to hold Akia’s cold hand until the nursing staff told him he couldn’t go any farther. For over an hour he stood in front of the swinging doors marked NO ADMITTANCE, trying to look past them to the operating room inside, but it was of no use.
“Any word?” Manning asked, joining him.
Damian shook his head. “Suspects?”
“Dead,” he said. “One nine-mil was recovered at the scene. Driver burned to death, as did the front passenger-”
“Back passenger?” Damian asked, looking over at him.
“There were only the two bodies recovered.”
Softly he growled under his breath. “White male, black hoodie, dark hair, black leather gloves, appeared to be in his early twenties with no facial hair…I didn’t recognize the scent over all of the blood, but my wolf took notice.”
Manning nodded, entering the information into his cell phone before sending it to dispatch to put out a BOLO, minus the werewolf aspect of it, that information went to the pack. “We’ll get as many people on the streets as possible to canvas the area. We’ll find the bastard that did this,” he assured him, handing Damian his bloody cell phone that was recovered at the scene. “Would you like me to notify her family?”
Damian shook his head. “No, I’ll do it. As much as I want the pack involved, and will need them because this was a blatant attack on me,” he iterated the latter, “I don’t want them at the hospital or anywhere near de Wolfe. Do you understand?”
Manning nodded his understanding. “Ordering the Beta around could prove to be fatal,” he amusingly informed him.
Damian looked at him. “Uncle, you don’t want the position anymore than I want that of my Father, but please, I need this. Her family…” his words trailed off.
“Are werewolves,” Manning said, filling in the blanks, and Damian nodded; he suspected that Manning knew already, but he wasn’t sure how to bring it up. “I am well aware of that. The Wolves of Haven are small, yet they are well documented. Strays they take in, regardless if they are human or wolf. You have to admire that about them, and I’m sure it’s one of the reasons why your father detests their Alpha.”
Damian sighed; that was a possibility. “May I have some privacy to make the call?” he asked.
“Of course,” Manning said, patting him on the back. “Take all the time you need. I’ll be in the waiting room with the others. Jonesy is freaking out and demanding justice… There’s two dozen waiting for word of their friend and colleague, so when you know let the rest of us know as well.”
Absently Damian nodded then turned and headed towards the private waiting room across from the nurse’s station, closing the door behind him. He unlocked his cell phone then scrolled through the coded contacts until he found the ones for Akia’s pack. With a heavy sigh, he pressed dial then put the phone to his ear as a tear rolled down his cheek.



Chapter

“How many is that now?” Faelan asked before taking a bite from his hamburger.
Seff looked over the timeline that surrounded the sunroom before shaking his head. “Too damn many,” he said.
The kitchen door swung open, smashing against the wall, before the lanky, blue-haired young man hurried into sunroom with a platter piled high with cheeseburgers in one hand and a laptop tucked under the arm of the other.
Faelan shook his head. “Did you leave any for the others?” he asked with a chuckle; the young man ate even more than Akia did when coming down from a lunar cycle forced change.
Ulrik smiled as he chewed then plopped down on the floor. “They’ll live. I found another,” he said before shoving the rest of the half-eaten cheeseburger in his mouth.  “Eighteen-sixty,” he mumbled with his mouth full.
Seff shook his head, grabbing the paper that just came out of the printer then hung it up at the beginning of the timeline that was encompassing the room. “More than a hundred so far,” he said, looking at the latest picture; it was a copy of a long exposure photo taken at the execution of a man. There was a bag over the head of the executed, but the faces of the men standing on either side of the dangling body were clearly visible, and one of them was the Changeling.
Faelan nodded. “Impressive and terrifying, but I think we’re getting closer since the identities as getting closer together, instead of months it now weeks. Am I right?”
Seff shrugged.
“You totally sounded like a big, gay, ginger, Nancy Drew,” Ulrik teased, his fingers typing away on his laptop.
“You forgot bear, Bald Balls,” Faelan flamboyantly reminded him before hurling a pillow at him.
Instead of ducking, the pillow smacked Ulrik in the back of the head but didn’t say anything as his eyes widened before flooding with tears.
“What’s wrong?” Faelan asked. “I didn’t hit you that damn hard.”
With shaking hands he offered Seff the laptop.
“This better not be cartoon porn again,” Seff complained, taking the laptop. When he read the headline on CNN’s website he shook his head. “Beowulf!” he yelled, hurrying through the house. “Beowulf!” he continued to call out, hurrying up the stairs.
When he barged into Beowulf’s room at the end of the hallway, the phone in Beowulf’s hand had just slipped from his fingers and fell to the floor as tears rolled down his cheeks.
“What’s wrong?” Varg demanded, hurrying down the hall, following the commotion.
Seff handed him the laptop then went to his oldest friend who looked as if he was about to collapsed.
Varg looked at the screen and quickly read over the article before he gasped.  Two of Boston’s Finest gunned down. Earlier reports have been confirmed that District C-11Chief of Police Nikas and Lieutenant de Wolfe were gunned down in a hail of bullets outside of the Boston PD Athletics Center. Both were transported to local area hospital; their conditions are unknown at this time.
“Why is she at the hospital… She should be healing,” Varg argued, throwing the laptop on the bed. “Father, she will heal.”
Beowulf shook his head. “Damian said she isn’t,” he whispered. “They had to shock her heart more than once to get it beating again… Something is wrong, something that…” his words trailed off as he struggled to keep it together.
Ulrik hurried into the room, pushing through the others and went to the closet and started packing for Beowulf. He wasn’t sure if what he grabbed matched, but he didn’t care, they had less than forty-minutes to get to the airport. When he exited the closet he grabbed his laptop from the bed. “Hurry up. I arranged for transportation, but we have to go now. If the FAA discovers the rerouted flight plan, it might cause a problem,” he said with a smirk that quickly fell. “We leave in ten minutes,” he said then hurried from the room so he could change and pack.
****
Damian was sitting on the floor of the private waiting room, holding his head in his bloodstained hands, trying to wrap his mind around what happened and why. The necklace she wore was in his hand, the nurse brought it to him with the rest of her belongings; the bloody clothing would go to the lab, her cell phone, necklace, badge and car keys were the only other things in her possession. The nurse for Akia’s next of kin but he simply shook his head; they were already notified, but hearing next of kin when an Officer was never a good thing.
Statements were needed, and more than just the mayor were demanding to know what in the hell happened and why, but Manning was running interference for Damian with them politicians and pack’s judiciary committee, not that he would have been much use at the moment to either. He didn’t sense the attack, didn’t sense the hatred that naturally oozed from a human’s pores when angry or murderous, and that led him to believe that it was solely werewolves that attacked them, not humans. His wolf went on alert, something that very few could boast of, and that usually only happened when another wolf was in the area and intended to harm him; it was a sixth sense for self-preservation against his own species.
 There were hundreds of questions running through his mind, none of which he had answers for, but the one that he kept coming back to was why wasn’t Akia healing?
Damian was confident that he was the target, not Akia. She just happened to be there when she shouldn’t have, and was standing directly in their line of fire. He closed his eyes and struggled to remember the scene, the actions, what happened, but it was impossible to focus past the blood and the woman in his arms slipping away from him.
“Concentrate,” he scolded himself, exhaling before breathing in through his nose, trying to find his center, something Adalbert taught him when he was under his tutelage; shadow walking through his wolf. “Concentrate for Akia,” he whispered, closing his eyes, desperately trying to focus on that little bit he could remember of the attack…
The light mocha colored walls and linoleum tiled floor faded, the overhead lights dimming; the room spun around him, and when it settled he was standing on Beacon Street.
Damian looked around from ground level in wolf form; the asphalt glistened from a sprinkling earlier in the evening; the sky overhead was clear with only a few lingering clouds that veiled the waxing gibbous; streetlamps illuminated the area in soft yellow light; only a few pedestrians were out that late and walked at a hurried pace down the sidewalks as they headed home; and cars lined the single lane street, none of which were idling or had occupants. There was a breeze, slightly chilled but carried no noticeable scent of danger upon it.
The pure black wolf stood under the streetlamp watching as Damian, from four hours ago, locked the door behind them. Akia stood, waiting for him, her attention down the street, the direction the SUV had come from. That was to be expected since it was a one way street, but it made him question why her attention was locked on that stretch of road instead of admiring his backside from behind as she usually did when his back was to her. Suddenly he was hyperaware of her, and his head tilted to the side to regard her subtle change: back stiffened, hand reached back as if going for her sidearm which was in a lockbox at the station since she was riding a desk, and her eyes had gone from ocean blue to liquid gold-streaked amber.
A deep growl rolled from the base of her throat as the vehicle approached and she stepped to the left, shielding Damian completely as the window of the black SUV rolled down and a gun appeared. The wolf walked out into the street, the SUV slowing to a stop as the flash from the first shot illuminated the shooter’s face.
Neck tattoo, he saw, making a note of the new detail he had recovered from his wolf’s mind, but it was hard to make out what it said. He sniffed wildly; the scent was unfamiliar, faint and heavily laced with something not natural, and it made it near impossible to discern: a werewolf countermeasure.
The overhead streetlamp reflected off of the gun; it was a nine-millimeter that was modified: black slide and frame with a silver barrel, and gold trigger. A custom job like that wouldn’t be in the hands of a street punk.
When the SUV started to drive past him, he watched as the side window shattered then the back window. The passenger slumped forward, the windshield in front of him getting covered in arterial spray, and the driver lurked forward then jerked the wheel to the side, sideswiping the first of eight cars.
Hit two of them but not the shooter, he deduced before the scenery spun around him, settling on Akia as the SUV flipped at the end of the street.
The wolf watched as Damian tried to revive her, but his attention kept going to the burning SUV at the end of the block. A darkened shadow eclipsed the fire for a fraction of a moment before disappearing into the night, the scent disappearing with him.
Sole survivor, but not for long, he promised.
A hard punch to the arm caused his eyes to snap open and he snarled.
“Where is she?” Varg demanded before Faelan shoved him back and into the wall.
“Leave him alone,” he warned then squatted down in front of Damian. “Are you okay?” he asked.
Damian shook his head; he hadn’t heard nearly entire pack from Haven join him in the small waiting room. They looked more devastated than pissed off at him, other than Varg but he had come to understand that Varg was a complete prick that was angry at the world. “No,” he said, looking to the clock above the door to see how much time had elapsed: an hour.
“What happened?” Rafe asked, wiping away the tears in his eyes.
“Ambushed… Random act of wolf on wolf violence human style,” Damian said, at a loss because he wasn’t entirely sure what happened; the more details he recovered the least that made sense to him. “I was replaying the attack in my subconscious, seeing it through my wolf’s eyes. I was able to pick up a few things before I was so rudely interrupted,” he snarled the latter, glaring at Varg who was sitting on the floor across the small room from him.
“Where is my daughter?” Beowulf whispered, blindingly sitting down on the loveseat against the side wall.
“She is just coming out of surgery,” Connell said, slipping into the room with a medical chart in hand. “I had them provide her acting physician a copy of the orders before it goes to transcription,” he absently said as he read through the EMT’s report and that of the trauma surgeon who oversaw her care prior to the Cardiothoracic and Thoracic surgeons taking over the case. “Ballistic trauma to the chest and abdomen; chest radiograph showed the bullets fragmented; left pulmonary hilum near the mainstream bronchus was proving to be the most difficult to deal with. We’ll each need to donate a pint or two of blood since she singlehandedly went through the hospital’s entire supply of B-Negative… Damn it,” he grumbled, flipping the page and continued reading. “She crashed on the table six times, and her heart is showing signs of damage from defibrillation.”
Rafe raised his hand. “What if she would have started healing in front of the surgeons?” he whispered; that was a concern.
That wasn’t something Damian had thought about, but the look on Connell’s face made it more than evident that he had.
“The reason the trauma surgeon was pushed out of the O.R. is because I made some calls,” Connell explained. “The Cardiothoracic and Thoracic surgeons are werewolves, and they know about Akia. Dr. Tier helped me with the genetic workup and his brother, Dr. Sier…don’t ask, are well aware that she’s one of us and their surgical team are werewolves from Clan Wörnhör of the München territory.”
Damian pushed his hand through his hair in frustration. “This isn’t going to end well. If they tell this territory’s Alpha,” he started.
Beowulf shook his head. “Those of Clan Wörnhör loath the Lykos of the Northeast, especially their Alpha and Gamma,” he explained, grateful that his son had called in help from an unlikely source, one that he was too upset to think to utilize.
“They’ve known what she is since we brought her home,” Connell continued, making notes on the chart for which medications she was taking and would need to have administered in order to keep from effecting the progress that they’ve made and the balance Akia had between she, Eve and her cycle. “I contacted them to run some genetic panels for me… It was impossible to hide the gender from them since it was all there in the genetic coding. They were intrigued but the oaths they took mean more to them then being in the graces of their pack, hence why they’ve been in Boston since Little Sis came here. When she was shot or stabbed and it was documented in a case, they oversaw it then turned a blind eye and altered the files… I’m surprised she didn’t say something to you,” he said, looking up at Damian.
Yes, Damian had been curious about why it had never come up in a medical chart, but since he didn’t have confirmation of what Akia was until two years into their relationship, he figured that she simply had connections that took care of hiding the evidence. Each pack had their own means in doing such, especially with the mankind’s advancement in social media and their overly active imaginations; protecting the pack at all costs took precedence over all else. The Lykos had a very extensive network of means to protect their pack, and it always concerned Damian that the network might reveal Akia’s existence to the pack, but now it was obvious that the wolves of Haven had their own network and means to protect her, one that might have been much more connected and extensive than that of the Lykos.
“She never spoke of her wolf side,” Damian whispered, “so I didn’t know.”
Connell nodded but didn’t press it.
There was a soft knock at the door and they all turned to regard the short, dark skinned man that ducked his head inside.
“Dr. Tier,” Connell said, making introductions. “Is she in recovery?”
Luc shook his head. “She’s been moved to a private room in I.C.U. with a guard, they’ll oversee her recovery. One of you may join her, Léon will escort you,” he said.
Upon hearing his name, Léon popped his head in the room, standing over his brother. The pale skinned, blond smiled at them. “She isn’t conscious and the nursing staff is monitoring her vitals so you won’t have privacy, but according to many reports patients that experience a traumatic experience can emotionally benefit from having loved ones by their sides, conscious or not.”
Luc shook his head. “Don’t mind him, he can never shut up.”
As much as Damian wanted to rush to Akia’s side, it would have been inappropriate to push her father aside like that. “Beowulf, go to your daughter and give her our regards,” he said. “I’ll arrange for the guards, to make sure that they have no pack affiliation.”
Beowulf looked at him surprised before nodding his understanding then followed the rambling surgeon to the I.C.U.
Luc joined them in the waiting room and closed the door behind him. “It’s not good,” he said, not waiting for questions. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. The bullets, they weren’t made of lead or metal, they were organic and that’s why they splintered as they had. If I had to venture a guess as to what they were fashioned from, I’d say werewolf claws.”
The others gasped; that was completely unheard of and a violation of cardinal law, but now it made sense as to why Akia wasn’t healing.
“All of the shards,” he continued, “were located and removed. I will do some genetic testing on them before the police take possession of the evidence, but there’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to trace a region or origin. In my experience, typically those that donate their claws to a means that will constitute death, aren’t usually willing donors. If Akia wasn’t the target, and Damian of the Lykos truly was, you know what this means.”
“War,” Damian whispered.
Luc nodded. “If war comes to the streets of Boston, regrettably we must terminus our agreement with you, Connell, because those of Clan Wörnhör will not get caught in the crossfire.”
Connell nodded his understanding. “Of course. Those of Haven would never suggest or ask that from either of you. There are some medications that Akia will need administered twice a day and at questionable levels in order to keep her regiment intact.”
“Understood. I’ll oversee her care personally, and Léon will run interference when needed. If there is nothing else,” he said with a nod then dismissed himself and Connell followed, closing the door behind them.
The waiting room was eerily quiet considering it was crowded; the only sound was the continual clicking of laptop keys from Ulrik sitting in the corner. The young man looked deep in thought as he gnawed on his bottom lip and continued to type. They weren’t sure what he was doing, but they knew better than to ask.
Damian was mentally organizing his notes and forwarding what he remembered while walking through the event in wolf form to Manning. There wasn’t much to go on, and he was more than confident that directive had been handed down to the pack already, with or without leads, and they were on the streets searching for the gunman.
“HA!” Ulrik exclaimed. “You thought you were good, but once again this blue pup is better,” he said, bobbing his head.
“I’m scared to ask,” Faelan said.
“You should be,” the young man agreed. “I just broke like three hundred international securities laws, but it was totally worth it. I hacked into the traffic cameras and all of those available in the area; ATM, security footage, everything. Using that, I was able to figure out the vicinity of where the SUV came from and where the sole survivor ran off to.”
Damian got to his feet. “What are we waiting for?” he pressed.
Ulrik motioned for him to stay. “They originated from South Boston. The building the bastard ducked into he most likely ran out the backdoor where there is no cameras. Four vehicles that passed that area are worthy of a second glance, and I can track them as much as possible, but on a laptop over Wi-Fi will take me forever. I need a T-1 line at least and a few dozen screens.”
“Fae, call us if there is a change or if you hear anything,” Damian said.
Rafe sat up taller. “And where are you going?” he demanded, thinking Damian knew something the others didn’t.
“Kid and I are heading to the precinct,” he said, motioning for Ulrik to pack up his stuff. “The basement has everything he’ll need. Once we know more, we’ll let you know.”
Faelan nodded. “We’ll let you know when we know more.”
“Make sure one of you is always with her,” Damian said, pulling the door open. “I don’t trust that I was the sole intended target, and I sure in the hell don’t trust my pack or anyone in Boston,” he said under his breath with a snarl.

Chapter
Beowulf sat in the chair next to the bed his daughter was laying in; she was nearly unrecognizable through all of the tubes and monitors, her skin transparently white, the skin surrounding her eyes had taken on a charcoal color, lips were split and chapped, hair was caked with blood and tucked under a cap until one of the nurses had time to clean her up, and chest was barely rising and falling with each breath the ventilator took for her. Bags of blood and fluid hung from stands, others were mixed by machines before being pumped into his daughter while others were being pumped out of her. A tube was down her throat so she could breath, pieces of tape were keeping her eyes closed, the hand he was holding onto was like ice, there was no strength in her daughter, and he was having a hard time staying in the present as her image kept flickering in his mind, the broken woman he was holding onto was replaced by the tiny creature that he had found all those years ago covered in blood and filth.
The selfish actions of a monster reduced his strong, independent daughter, to a sliver of the creature she was become, and he hated him for it.
“Father,” Akia has whispered, her tiny voice turning the lively dining room as silent as a tomb as all those gathered around the table turned to look at her; in well over a year she hadn’t said one word.
Beowulf looked at her with tears in his eyes. “Yes?” he whispered, nearly overcome with emotion.
“Can we have Barmbrack even though it isn’t October?” she whispered so softly that it caused the tears flooding his eyes to stain his cheeks; she blushed as she absently wrung her hands together, her attention on the partially eaten food on the plate in front of her.
“Whenever you want, Little Sister,” Faelan assured her then hurried from the table to the kitchen to make it for her.
Beowulf coaxed her by the chin and tried to make eye contact with her but she wouldn’t budge. “Whatever you want, whenever you want it,” he assured her in a whisper, as if it was a secret between the two of them which made a small smile pull at the corners of her mouth, “and it will be yours. You only need to ask.”
She nodded and pulled away from him and went back to poking at her dinner.
It was another month before she spoke again.
Beowulf wiped away the tears staining his cheek and desperately tried to keep a strong front for his daughter because he knew that one some subconscious level she knew he was there. “You were supposed to protect her,” he whispered.
“I know,” Manning said from the doorway. “I failed you, Brother.”
“You failed her,” Beowulf retorted. “You promised that you would protect her, watch after her!” he hissed, trying to keep his voice down.
Manning nodded; he was guilt-ridden that he failed his brother and Akia as well. “You know as well as I do that this wasn’t something I could have stopped. Her relationship and dedication to her heart is what put her on that street tonight, not me or the force.”
Softly he growled under his breath.
Manning joined him, pulling the sliding glass door to the private room shut behind him.
“The guard?” Beowulf asked.
“Getting coffee and is human,” Manning assured him, his attention on Akia; he hardly recognized her. “I warned you that bringing home a Stray of this magnitude would blow up in your face.”
Again, Beowulf growled. “She was at the wrong place at the wrong time, you said so yourself in not so many words,” he venomously reminded him.
Manning shook his head. “That isn’t what I was talking about and you know it, Brother. I warned you that bringing home the lone female to Haven would destroy you and your pack. Goddamn it, Beo, you always get so attached and invested in your children, in your sons, and when something happens to them, when their lives are snuffed out, your heart breaks. Conway’s death was nearly the death of you, but that was nothing compared to the level of devastation you’re at now-”
“She is my daughter!” Beowulf snarled.
“And my niece!” he shot back. “I hated you for abandoning the reputation you built up and what could have been the most powerful pack in the world, I really did. You turned your back on both as if it was nothing, and you didn’t think twice about it. You went to the Island, established Verulfr Manor, cut all ties to the Covenant, took in Strays, and lived off of the grid of our kind. Admirable, as always, but irritating,” he continued, his attention going from his little brother to Akia. “You turned your back on me.”
Beowulf shook his head. “I wanted no part of the politics that you were gravitating towards. Our world used to be black and white, now it’s as bad as the world of man and I wanted no part of it.”
Manning shook his head; it was an argument they have had many times and now wasn’t the time to rehash what they had finally, after more than a century, had agreed to disagree on.
“You are the one that called me, remember?” Beowulf said.
“Yes, I suppose I did.”
The corner of Beowulf’s mouth pulled up on one side; his big brother was the distraction that he desperately needed at that moment. “How did you know?” he asked.
Manning snorted. “de Wolfe is the surname that you give your Strays for their first term in the light. Wolfbane is their second. Dreary their third. Úlfur the fourth. Arnou the fifth… Yes, it was a long shot, but there was something different about her,” he said. “The way she was completely level and unaffected by the body of the man she killed that would have killed her given the chance. Ultimately it was what she said when I asked her why she wasn’t shaken up by it,” he admitted. “I was suspicious of her indifference, and when she said ‘Even the Devil can do the work of the Angels, but it’s in that the white light of innocence that his soul is darkened to black.’
Beowulf chuckled.
“Yes, she is your damn twin,” Manning agreed. “When I called and accused you of adopting female humans, you simply asked for me to keep an eye on her while she was in Boston. She seemed harmless enough, minus the fact she snapped the neck of a crackhead. Visiting with her nearly every night at the diner, it made me feel closer to you. She was so much like you that it was eerie, and some of the things out of her mouth were as if you were saying them, and it made me miss you. I thought that possibly getting her in law enforcement would be a good way to get back at you,” he admitted with a soft smile and Beowulf glared at him. “When she finally caved and left it up to a coin flip… She is nearly as stubborn as Varg.”
Beowulf nodded. “And Seff, though they’ll both adamantly deny it,” he admitted with a soft chuckle.
“Oh yes, Seff,” Manning dramatically said, trying to cheer his little brother up. “Since I didn’t smell him with the others I’m assuming that he is home keeping an eye on Verulfr Manor and the Achieves?”
“He deals with emotional situations differently and in complete privacy,” he agreed. “As much as he acts as if he doesn’t like my daughter, she is his niece and he is very proud of her and the woman she has grown into… How did you know that she was one of us?”
Manning softly growled under his breath. “A heads up would have been nice,” he said with a snarl.
“Your allegiance is with the Lykos and Arno Manikas-”
“My allegiance has always been with you!” he said with a loud, primal growl. “You are my baby brother, the last of our bloodline, and you turned yoru back on me.”
“I have never turned my back on you, Brother,” Beowulf reminded him. “I have called in many favors over the years in order to protect you from yourself; politics is not something you play very well, hence why I wanted to keep you from it! You are not like your Alpha and Gamma-”
“I am the Beta of the Lykos-”
“By default,” Beowulf reminded him. “The Beta demands respect and yet you are at Arno’s beck and call.”
Manning growled; as much as he wanted to argue with his brother, even though now wasn’t the time, he couldn’t. As of late, Arno was getting more and more belittling and demanding, instead of seeking counsel from his Beta and Gamma, he dictates to them as if they were lower level soldiers. “I am not having this discussion with you.”
Beowulf nodded. “Very well, tell me how you knew what she was and why it is that your Alpha hasn’t taken her for as of yet for forced mating in order to secure an heir?” he asked as indifferently as possible but he was still growling at the mental images his question conjured.
“Brother,” Manning whispered, “I would never do that to you. The Alpha does not own or control me… Besides, it is rather amusing that his youngest son had been marked by the lone female of our species, not to mention, a wolf of Haven,” he said with a chuckle. “I knew before Damian did, amusing as that is to admit. I brought Akia to C-11 because that was where she wanted to be, and she had proven herself many times over. When I made the introductions, their wolves spoke to each other, there was no denying it, and amusingly enough they didn’t even realize it.
“I nearly ripped his heart out in order to protect my niece, who was a werewolf as well…again, a heads up would have been nice. But the way he looked at her, the irritation in Akia was overpowered by possessiveness, and instead of possessiveness in Damian, as I would have expected from him since he is Arno’s son, he was flooded with remorse and something else, something the two of us have been unable to find in our very long lives. I kept an eye on them, ran interference for them with I.A. and the pack, especially his father, and made sure that neither of them were none the wiser. They’re good for each other. As much as I can’t stand Arno and his heirs, Damian is the one exception to the rule: he loathes his father, doesn’t want anything to do with the hierarchy of the pack, and has no real interest in the pack in general… He truly is Arno’s greatest disappointment,” he amusingly informed him.
Beowulf nodded. “They are a good pairing and he loves her very much.”
“That love will kill him,” Manning regrettably informed him.
“I know, as does Akia,” he whispered, tenderly rubbing her hand, trying to get it to heat up some. “But that it for them and only them to deal with when the time comes… Thank you for coming and for keeping me distracted from what I have no control over.”
Manning forced a smile that quickly fell. “That’s what family does, Little Brother,” he reminded him. “I wish that there was more I could do. This will not end well for anyone. The pack is gathering, this was a direct attack on the Lykos, and with William’s daughter being murdered by that Stray in Haven, he’s getting insanely protective of heirs, just not those of importance, but all children. Arno thinks William has completely lost his mind and is entertaining a vote of no confidence, but I won’t support it and he requires it, ironic considering it was his bitching and complaining that put the rule in place.”
Beowulf groaned. “I don’t want to hear about the Lykos or their political drama. My daughter is in an induced coma, isn’t healing, was shot, died on the operating table a half-dozen times, and… I do not want my daughter caught in the middle of a war.”
“Little Brother,” he said, pushing his hand through his hair in frustration, “I can’t prevent the inevitable, but I’ll do whatever I can to keep my niece safe. I swear it on my life,” he promised.



Chapter

“No prints. No DNA…not even a goddamn hair?!” Damian said, his voice carrying through the crowded bullpen turned war room as he read over the report in his hands. “Let me see if I’m completely grasping what the best that Boston has to offer has put together. Dental records, oh wait, they aren’t in the system so that’s a dead end. Descriptions that I provided should have been enough for the sketch artist…well look here!” he beamed, throwing the true to life composites at the closest Detectives. “And yet not one of them matched up to someone in the system, none of the hundred-plus C.I.s that we have on our payroll has seen them before. Seems a bit improvable, don’t you think?” It was a rhetorical question and they knew it. “Even if these hitters weren’t local, they had to have a point of contact in Boston in order to have the working knowledge of the area that they had. They knew where traffic cameras were located so we never got a clear shot through the windows at any of their faces, and that type of familiarity means they either cased the route prior to the hit or a dossier was provided by someone local.”
The gathered Officers and Detectives nodded their understanding.
“I want what is left of that goddamn SUV and the bodies taken apart piece by piece,” Damian said. “Apparently they were good, but we are better. Each section lead knows what to do and will assign you accordingly. We won’t stop until answers are found and those responsible are off the streets. We don’t know who was the target, myself or de Wolfe, and if de Wolfe wasn’t the intended target and it was just a random act of violence on a badge, that means any of us could be next.”
The others looked at each other before returning their attention to the Captain; that they hadn’t thought of. Captain Nikas wore the same clothes that he had on last night, blood stained his suit and wrinkled white dress shirt and tie, and it was a reminder to the others of just how dire the situation was and that one of their own was fighting for her life. He looked as if he hadn’t slept in months, and he was not the picture of composure or professionalism, two things none of them had seen from their Captain before. Yes, nearly losing one of their own was putting a lot of stress on everyone carrying a badge, and the fact that Lieutenant de Wolfe is on life support and might not make it, which is saying a lot since she was the strongest woman they knew, made each of them feel as if they could be next.
Targeting a Police Captain was suicide, especially one with a family as connected in Boston as that of Captain Nikas’ family. Those of the pack, they were questioning why the children of the Gamma and Alpha were targeted. Damian was a werewolf so the attempt on his life took precedence over that of a female of inferior birth—Arianna Winterfeld—but  no one dared voice that aloud since the Gamma would rip the heart from he that spoke it before they could finish the statement. Arianna Winterfeld was her father’s greatest achievement and, some thought, biggest weakness. She was the first female to be born in nearly a century in the Lykos pack. Arno and the others said it was a bad omen, but William wouldn’t hear of it, and the moment his daughter drew breath his life and world changed…
As did that of the pack.
Ulrik cleared his throat. “Dude.. I mean, Captain Dude, I got something,” he whispered.
Damian nodded. “Are the rest of you waiting for an invitation?!” he sneered and the still bullpen came alive with activity as those gathered hurried to busy themselves.
“You’re people skills are epic,” Ulrik commented, bouncing down the stairs.
Damian simply shook his head, not in the mood to entertain the bouncing young man. “I thought they cut you off,” he grumbled, following him.
“I’m too damn cute to say no to, you know that,” Ulrik reminded him. “Thirteen triples aren’t that many in less than twenty-four hours, besides, I’m young so my system can take it. Any word from the Viking asshole?” he asked, his words coming out in a rush as he hurried back to the darkened hole in the basement of the precinct that housed Computer Forensics.”
When Damian walked through the door behind the blue haired young man, he slowed and his eyes widened. “Do I even want to know where in the hell you got any of this?” he groaned, rubbing his temples, trying to get the impending headache Ulrik effortlessly caused with his endless energy to stop before it began.
It was futile.
“Plausible deniability,” was all Ulrik said with a giggle.
The once darkened, windowless server room, was now illuminated with three wall consuming televisions acting as displays with streaming data, video feeds being populated and rendered, and the three, which look at if they were no older than fifteen themselves and yet were fresh out of Harvard, sat at their desks, eyes moving between each of their three monitors in front of them, their fingers moving across keyboards so fast that the continual hum instantly started to get on Damian’s nerves. Black leather couches stretched along the back wall, discarded shoes and clothing was strung across the floor—apparently they had made themselves at home—and the trashcan in the corner was overflowing with empty Starbucks cups, Red Bull cans, and candy bar wrappers. In less than twenty-four hours, Ulrik had apparently moved in and redecorated, and got a team working under him.
It was impressive.
“What am I looking at?” Damian asked, shaking his head in resignation.
Ulrik motioned for him to wait. “Ear muffs,” he called out.
The three techs moved in unison, like a perfectly coordinated production, and pulled headphones on and it was followed by the hum of blaring music accompanying the clicking of keys.
“Isn’t that awesome?” Ulrik beamed, bouncing up and down with excitement. “I feel like a Bond villain! The only thing missing is the cat and sharks with laser beams on their heads.”
Damian wasn’t amused. “Get to the point,” he snarled.
“You’re no fun, and before you point out the obvious,” Ulrik said, the latter sounding just like Faelan, “the entire situation isn’t amusing in the least, but I’m trying to keep my head on straight since those at the hospital are completely useless. We know where the SUV originated from,” he said, grabbing the digital tablet off of his workstation then started clicking away on it, the data displaying on the three walls of televisions, creating a timeline. “The kids are wearing headphones so they don’t have to lie in court, if it gets that far,” he said with a sigh. “Those that shall not be named hacked the traffic cams, in and out of the city, including the highways and freeways. I thought they might have come in via the airport, which I was correct, just not the major one. We went backwards, following the SUV, which was harder than we thought it was going to be. The tricky bastards changed plates every hour so I had to write an algorithm to take into consideration the vehicle height, width, color, make, model, and the tire pressure.”
“Tire pressure?” he asked.
“Yup. It changes the height of the SUV, which was important for tracking with the traffic cams. You’d be surprised how many damn black SUVs there are in this city.”
Damian nodded his understanding and watched the traffic cams play in reverse, the black SUV highlighted in a green outline so it was easy to follow. “They are hired hitters,” he mumbled, confirming his initial thought. “Where did they stem from?”
Ulrik groaned; that was never a good sign. “Point of origin; a small, private runway,” he said. “The surveillance footage at the airport provided the call sign for the jet and we were able to trace its point of origin, or at least where they wanted us to think the plane came from.”
Softly Damian growled under his breath; this was proving to be a major hitter, not just some hired thugs from the street. Connections and means in which they went through to not be tracked or detected, that required major means, something that rivaled that of a house of power. “And?” he pressed, watching the video of the jet coming to a stop before stairs were rolled to the door. Face shots from each that disembarked the jet were frozen then moved to one screen while the recorded footage continued to play.
“Nadia, the little blonde with the hidden pink highlights over there,” Ulrik said, pointing towards the young woman in question, “is a more than ninety-percent sure that the passenger from the SUV on the night in question was this man: Vasily Babatyev.” The M.E.’s photo of the charred remains of the skull morphed into Interpol’s headshot of the man when alive; from what Damian’s wolf recalled of the passenger, it was a good probability that they were one and the same. “According to Interpol he is a bad, bad man, with a warp sheet as long as I am tall. An Kryshas for the Bratva… Volkov family,” he said, giving Damian a look from over his shoulder and he nodded his understanding; the Russian mafia werewolf division. “The typical for a mafia lackey: assault, homicide, witness tampering, drug running, human trafficking, blackmail… He’s wanted in fifteen countries and has a passport hotter than the core of the sun.
“Russian lackey number two,” Ulrik continued, pulling up the next grainy security footage picture, “it most likely our driver. The Shestyorka that only recently started to make a name for himself is none other than Marat Ipatyev.” The picture of the charred skull morphed into a mug shot from White Swan. “Some pockets must have been greased to get him out of a max slammer like that.”
Damian nodded, reading the scrolling information on each man. “It is a means of containment,” he murmured. “The shooter?”
Ulrik shook his head then tapped Nadia on the shoulder.
The young woman nodded then got the other two techs and headed towards the door. “We’ll grab you some lunch. Anything special you want?” she asked, her eyes moving over Ulrik many times.
Ulrik smirked. “Surprise me then quadruple the order,” he said with a wink and she blushed. Once the door was shut behind them, his smile fell. “There are more, three you should know,” he said, pulling up the fuzzy video frame of a partial side view of a man’s face. “There weren’t enough nodal points to make a positive identification, but when I narrowed it down to the Volkov, especially after identifying the next two, I got a hit real fast.”
The fuzzy picture morphed and Damian’s eyes widened and mouth fell open. “That isn’t possible.”
“Viktor Volkov, the Pakhan of the Bratva, the Original Wawkalak,” Ulrik confirmed with a heavy sigh; he was still reeling over this game changer himself. “Werewolf enemy number one in Europe, Asia, and most of the world,” he said; the long, long list of crimes against humanity and werewolf kind scrolling down the center screen; it was more than a thousand pages long. “Do I need to give you a history lesson?”
Damian shook his head.
Viktor Volkov was blacklisted from most countries with packs of reputation and size. Over the centuries, he has singlehandedly screwed over nearly each Alpha that crossed his path, and left a wake of blood and bodies wherever he went. William Winterfeld, when he was the acting Alpha, had banished Viktor from ever stepping foot in the Lykos’ territory more than a century ago on the threat of war. Even Beowulf had forbidden Viktor from his pack’s territory, but the words never needed to leave Beowulf’s lips for the ruthless, ancient werewolf to know which lines not to cross within the border of the wolves of Haven. He was responsible for the iron curtain mentality that eventually failed when packs of reputation and numbers vowed to control the Wawkalak in the means they saw fit: eradication.
In the nineteen-eighties, Viktor knew that his reign had come to its end, for the time being, so he did what an Original did best in order to survive; he strengthened his borders, consolidated his pack into manageable villages so they didn’t pose a risk of an upraise, and spread his strengths across his territory in order to have ultimate control over Eastern Europe. He used an iron fist style of ruling to control those in his ranks. The Avtorityet oversaw operations, and his two sons, Sergei the Obshchak and Nikita the Sovietnik, were the Two Spies that watched over the actions of the Brigadiers to ensure loyalty and that none of them grew too powerful or threatened their eventual rise in the pack to Alpha and Pakhan.
“The shooter?” Damian asked, again, struggling to stay focused on the task at hand.
The next two out of the jet were Sergei and Nikita, identical twins that even their father struggled to tell apart because their scents were nearly identical. Many outside of their pack called them the Black Russians because their mother was darker skinned and they retained that from her, but those of the pack knew not to mention it; six-six, broad shoulders, medium brown skin with a red undertone, icy light blue eyes, rugged, wide noses, full lips, glossy black hair cut short and faded around the back and sides, perfectly chopped light beard growth, wide jaws, and lived in designer suits. They were college educated, each graduating with honors from Oxford, Harvard, and Moscow State University before their pack was grounded, and it was rumored that the Two Spies were the true brains behind the operation; their genius was nearly as terrifying as ruthlessness of their father.
Ulrik hissed out a breath. “The problem, other than having the Russian mafia werewolf division out of Russia and in Boston,” he said, pulling up the last picture but the grainy video feed didn’t morph into a clear picture. The man stood at the top of the stairs leading to the tarmac, lighting a cigarette, wearing black sunglasses and a dark slouch beanie, darkened clothing but they were street clothes and non-descript compared to the Gucci suits the Two Spies were wearing. “He’s unknown. Not in any database: not in the CIA, Interpol, FBI, NSA, MI 5 or 6, SIS, KGB, not even in the wolf registry-”
“How in the hell did you get access to that?” Damian interrupted, looking at the young man with wide eyes; even he hadn’t access to it and had only heard of its existence and had never actually seen it.
“Hacked it like everything else,” Ulrik said as if it were obvious. “From here,” he continued, playing the video, “the Volkovs took the waiting Town Car and the other three took the SUV. The Town Car and SUV separated, not that they appeared to be going to the same place, when they reached ninety-three the Town Car went to a private estate in Chelsea. The SUV took ninety for some reason, they drove around the city for over two hours before taking routes that would purposely get them to and from the Athletics Center. Three hours later they laid in wait, for over four hours. They watched you enter then circled the block and parked…but what I don’t get,” he said, scratching his head, causing his blue hair to stand on end on one side, “was how in the hell they knew you left. There was no view from where they parked. The security cameras that I hacked, they were clean. The cameras in the center were heavily protected…Nadia is a genius, not as smart as me but the girl has skills that I can only hope translate over to the bedroom.” He wagged his brows. “Outside the building there wasn’t a strong enough connection to have that type of real time feed without leaving a footprint.”
Damian growled; they had a whole bunch of something but nothing when it pertained to the identity of the man that tried to kill Akia. “When did the three leave Chelsea?”
“They haven’t, not that we’ve seen,” Ulrik admitted. “The houses in that gated community all have top of the line surveillance that a certain stunningly handsome genius, who shall not be named, hacked the feeds of and wrote this mind blowing algorithm that will alert he that shall not be named of any comings and goings, as Rafe would say.”
“And he who shall not be named, is he of the blue hair variety?” Damian asked, pushing his hand through his hair; he was mentally and emotionally exhausted.
“Shall not be named,” Ulrik teasingly sang. “We did come across something that I think you might want to see,” he said and pulled up a video feed that was from three days ago. “There was an explosion at a building in District C-6. Fire Chief has deemed it a natural gas leak.”
Damian gave him a look. “What does something in South Boston days ago have to do with Akia?”
“Facial recognition is a real bitch in the wolf society,” Ulrik commented as they watched the ATM security feed from corner across the street with a surprisingly good view of the action.
The street was surprisingly quiet, especially for the time of day, which told Damian that this was no simple gas leak. South Boston had been ran by the Irish for years, Donovan Ó Ceallacháin of the Callaghan pack of Tuaisceart Éireann—Northern Ireland—was on a tight leash held by the Lykos, but they had a profitable relationship that had worked for over a century, since William Winterfeld took control of Boston and helped to bring order to it, forcing Donovan and his men to South Boston.
When Donovan’s streets were quiet and deserted it meant that something was going down.
Damian watched, his eyes widening when the lookout on the corner looked over his shoulder at the ATM and it gave a clear picture of the man. “No, no, no, no,” he said, pulling his hands through his hair, his olive complexion paling.
Ulrik nodded. “Just wait,” he said with a sigh and the building exploded, taking out the video feed.
Damian pulled his cell phone out and quickly dialed then put it to his ear. When the other line picked up, he didn’t wait. “War is coming to Boston, a battle that has already spilled onto the streets. Ready the pack,” he said before hanging up.
“Do I even want to ask?” Ulrik asked.
He shook his head. “That lookout wasn’t one of Donovan’s men. That was Chen Wu of the Lang Ren Triad, the heir to the throne of power in the Chinese of shifters… This just got exponentially more complicated,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.


Chapter

“I do not appreciate your son barking orders at me,” William spat through clenched teeth, struggling to keep the appearance of civility and complacency but he was fighting the urge to claw the smirk from the face of the man sitting across from him.
Arno chuckled; a part of him was trying to annoying William even more, and the other part was pissed off that his son called the Gamma and not the Alpha, especially with the warning of war on the horizon in his city of all places.
“It is not funny,” William warned, irritated that the Alpha’s heir was apparently embracing his inner-Arno, something he didn’t know the young man had in him, and prayed that he didn’t, but apparently it was surfacing after nearly fifty years.
“It is rather amusing,” Arno said then text messaged his son to find out what he was going on about. “