Moon Goddess save us! I silently prayed as I looked at the utter destruction around me. The entire packhouse had been hit by some illness that had already killed 12 of us in the space of a week! I was working alongside the Dr in an attempt to relieve some of her stress but she herself had been taken ill over the last 24 hours and things were not looking good. I was doing everything possible for her, from trying to lower her temperature, making sure she drank plenty of water, keeping her on a hydration drip and monitoring all of her vitals. Anything I gave her she instantly brought back up and it seemed her body was fighting all forms of medicine. As I had been instructed, I was writing down all of her stats from my hourly observations and already her heart rate was slowing, her breathing becoming more laboured and painful. This was beyond anything we had ever seen, all the blood tests we were running for known illnesses that had hit other packs in the past came back as a negative.
I winced as my own stomach contracted, my forehead beading with tiny droplets of sweat. I rubbed my tired eyes with the back of my hand and gave my head a gently shake to try and clear some of the fog but it wasn't working. I tried to call forward my Wolf but even she was suffering from the effects, halting the advance healing we possessed. My legs began to wobble and my brother was instantly at my side, holding me steady.
"I've got you, Jasmine, take it easy." He guided me to the cot bed I had set up in the corner of the room so that I could always be by the Dr's side and laid me down gently. "You can't keep doing this, you're going to work yourself to an early grave. Look at you Jaz, you're no better than anyone here!" It pained me to see his pale face, his cheeks so drawn in and hollow, the dark circles under his eyes. As ever he was taking care of me first and putting my welfare above his own
"I have to Morgan, if the doctor doesn't make it, none of us will. She's the only one who can figure out what this is. I'm doing my best but I'm not trained! I don't even know where to start!"
He pulled me into his arms as my voice broke and my chin began to wobble. "Please don't cry, we'll find out what's causing this! I promise! In the meantime, I'm going to find Khaos. He needs to be here"
"Nobody knows where he is!" I cried, feeling more overwhelmed than ever
"I'll find him, he needs to know what's happening. How has he not felt the bond breaking when these wolves died?"
"Didn't you feel it? They've mated. His Wolf will deliberately be blocking is out Morgan, you know how our kind gets. He needs to secure the next heir, we come second until they settle down together"
"I know, I know!" He ran shaky hands through his hair in frustration. "What happened to the warriors we sent a few days ago?"
"Dead. They must be! They told us they would ring daily to keep us updated and we've heard nothing. What's happening Morgan? What is taking over us?"
"I don't know, but we'll find out, we just need to..." he was cut off as the alarms began to sound, both of us staring at the other with wide and panicked eyes.
"Will all women and children head to the safe room immediately. This is not a drill. All women and children to the safe house immediately. Breach at the western borders, around 200 wolves headed in our direction. Warriors at your posts, guards take up your positions. The armoury has been opened, stay safe wolves, protect the pack!"
"We barely have any warriors left!" I sobbed in a panicked voice, "between this illness and the search party for Khaos, we are seriously outnumbered!"
Morgan dragged me to my feet, ushering me towards the safe room. "Don't think about it. We have enough wolves here, don't forget our reputation. Stay in here. Stay safe. I'll be back for you when this is over. I love you"
"I love you too" I cried back as he turned and ran down the hall to take up his position as a trained fighter.
So their wolves are weakened, so Nyx tells me. Apparently they entire pack is simply falling apart without Khaos there to guide them and they're utterly lost as to how this has happened, they don't suspect a thing! An ally of an ally has told us that they simply begged for his help and he had to refuse - this was the fear for all packs. A plague like this could destroy them and it only took a moment of contact for one to contract the disease and take it back to their pack. Nobody would risk it!
There is a slight complication though, a niggle of doubt that I can't seem to shake. Obviously, the plan is to take out the warriors and men of fighting age, we can't have Khaos returning to a pack where he can still be protected, but when I asked Nyx what her plan was for the women and children she grew quiet. I know the way the woman works well enough to know that this was not a thoughtful silence, she already had a plan for them and I needed to know for myself what the plan was. I would not be associated with the unjustified killing of mere pups.
I tried to contact my mate, thinking maybe it would be best if we pulled out. Something was wrong, I just knew it! I sent out the mind link but the moment I beckoned him I felt the sharp stab as a part of my very being was torn from my chest, my heart aching and sore. Violet was mated.
Well. More fool her the stupid, stupid little girl. She was about to see just how much protection her big, strong mate could offer her after all. She'll be back under my thumb by the end of the week.
Instead of telling my mate to withdraw, I put a call into Nyx and let her know we were ready to go tonight.
The women and children were all in the safe room. As the last she-wolf entered the room there was an audible sigh of relief as the door slammed shut and the lock was put into place.
This room had been built for one specific reason and that was to stop anyone on the outside getting in. Apart from blowing up the entire packhouse, we should be fine.
There was enough food in here to last at least 6 months as well as a dozen or cot beds. Not nearly enough for all of us but the children would be well taken care of and that's all that really mattered.
I settled down on the floor, my knees brought up to my chest. The silence was deafening, broken only by the odd whisper of a child as they sought reassurance from their mum. Time and time again my eyes were drawn to the cabinet at the back of the room labelled "last resort". We all knew what it was. Khaos wouldn't tell us why he felt the need to include this in a safe room, other than saying that there are werewolves out there eviler than we could ever imagine and no-one should have to suffer from their sick and twisted games and therefore ever eventuality had to be planned and accounted for. Should we ever find ourselves in a situation where death was a far better option than what awaited us at the hands of our enemies, we had the choice to take our exit into our own hands. I hoped this fight wouldn't come to it.
I shot up in bed, clutching my stomach as pain after pain ripped through my body.
"Sweetheart, what's wrong?" Khaos asked, his face tight with concern
"Somethings wrong, I can feel it"
"With the baby?" His head immediately shot down to my stomach as he pressed his ear to my small bump. "I can hear the heartbeat, the baby is fine, I promise you" I collapsed against him in relief but almost instantly another stab of pain gripped me.
"Khaos, something is happening, something big. I know it!" He pulled me into his arms and lay us both back against the headboard of the bed, covering our naked bodies with the blanket
"Nothing is happening Violet. My Wolf has been silent for days now, he'd tell me if something was wrong back home. You can feel the family bond with your parents can't you?" I searched for the fine strings in my mind that connected my family to me always and nodded to my mate when I felt the bond, although it was extremely weak it was there
"Well then. If the pack is okay, your family is okay and more importantly, the baby is okay, we've got everything. If something else is happening, it's not a priority, I'm sure it can wait a few more days until we are due to go home. However, I know what you are like, you're not going to rest until you've seen with your own eyes and so I'll make you a deal - sleep on it, and if you are still feeling like this in the morning I'll drive us back home after we've had breakfast. We'll be there by evening. How does that sound?"
"Perfect, thank you." I snuggled back up to him as I tried to drift back off to sleep but I couldn't shake the feeling that something evil was headed our way
The safe room may have been secure but it certainly wasn't soundproof. The children had been fitted with noise-cancelling headphones so they were fine and had been tucked into the cots by their mothers, sleeping soundly. Most of the shewolves were sat huddled together, flinching at the sounds of gunshots firing or wolves howling out in pain. It was beyond anything we had experienced before.
Our nerves were broken, pushed to the very limits thanks to the virus and now this. Looking around at all my friends and elders they all had pale, drawn in faces as they struggled to put on a brave face for everyone and digest what was happening.
I had a feeling. This was personal. We would never have been attacked like this if Khaos was around, he would have sensed something was amiss and put a stop to whoever was stupid enough to even think about it. Which made me think this virus had been too much of a coincidence to be unrelated. Someone had wanted us weakened, they wanted us unable to fight and they had to have known Khaos was otherwise occupied having met Violet.
My head snapped to the side as I was pulled out of my thoughts by a blood-curdling scream. "Help me!" Screamed one of the elders, clawing at her throat leaving nasty looking welts in her wake. "My mate! My mate!" She continued, looking completely wild and out of control. Then almost as soon as it started, she went silent, focussing into the distance as she concentrated on something over the bond.
"No..." she whispered, her expression on of absolute horror and misery. She clamped a hand over her mouth as the tears pooled from her eyes. She looked around the room, meeting the gaze of every she-wolf one by one. "My mate is dead. He connected me to the mind link before.. before he passed" he swallowed hard as sobs wracked her. "This is much worse than we thought!"
It wasn't supposed to have gone that way! Sure I knew there would be some deaths, I'm not completely stupid. I just had no idea it would be quite to that extent!
I was on the sidelines, as always. As a matter of fact, I didn't even really need to be there at all, but as this attack was more personal than usual I decided it warranted my attention. I watched as those barbaric wolves jump into the fight as though they relished the bloodshed. I witnessed one repulsive Wolf rip the head off a boy that couldn't have been any older than his early teens. Call me stupid, cool me the foolish old woman that I am but I never imagined children that young were to be dragged into it!
At that point, I was still blaming Khaos and wondering why on Earth he had chosen to put those that are vulnerable on the front line and so I didn't call off the attack at that precise moment. It was almost as if it was a sort of justice that he would lose the next generation.
Then I heard the plans. It almost pains me to write this but should anything ever happen to me as a result of this, I want my thoughts out in the open. Judge me, if you dare. Tell me what you would have done in a similar situation.
Nyx and the warriors, including my mate, killed off most of the wolves in the houses surrounding the main packhouse. I witnessed as she discreetly motioned to the head of her warriors (whom I suspect she is currently having a sexual relationship with. How very... common. Not at all like a Luna should be.) Anyway, this aroused my suspicions and so I inched closer to listen in - I already knew she barely paid attention to me, the disdain she held for me was becoming more and more evident. In fact, I had heard her as she commented on the "beauty queen coming to play with the big boys" when I had made it known I would be there. So the conversation went something like this, although the odd word may be wrong here and there, she has a dreadful habit of mumbling
Nyx: Did you locate the safe room
Warrior: I did, my Luna. We have 5 warriors currently examining it to find the best way to gain entry.
An evil smile had come over Nyx's face as she had replied: excellent, you remember the plan I trust?
Warrior: of course. One of the guards outside the room was connecting to his mate on the inside, which means they're fully aware as well. The smell of fear coming through the door is phenomenal
Nyx: this couldn't be any more perfect! It's been a long time since our pack experienced so many newcomers into the slave trade! The unmated males sure will be excited!
Warrior: I think there are a few elderly in there as well as children, we've hit the jackpot
She caressed his cheek (suspicions confirmed, thank you very much) as she cackled: The dogs shall feast well on the flesh of the old bitches, they're due a training exercise anyway. As for the children... if they get in your way, kill them, especially males. If you can kill the wolves but keep them alive, our dogs will appreciate it. Any others can join their mothers in the slave trade. There's quite a market for underage virgins, we'll make a fortune!
As you can imagine, I clamped a hand over my mouth in absolute horror. Okay, so I am well aware that I live my life as though I was an ostrich, my head is firmly buried in the sand against all evil and sadness in the world and my mate is happy to indulge me in such matters. Yet even I am aware of the illegal sex trade business. The acts committed, against those unfortunate enough to be caught up in it were unspeakable.
I shouted to my husband over the link -it was time for us to retreat. We could not be caught up in an event like this, not even to potentially save the lives of the innocents in that safe room. People would question why we were there in the first place. Far better to save our reputation and get out of there asap.
"Surely you're not serious?" I gasped as our elder finished telling the story she had heard from her mate. That we were to be taken and used as bait or sex slaves was a nightmare - many women had joined this pack to escape a similar fate in the first place.
"It's true. There are at least 200 of them. And 40 of us in here. How many of us are up to fighting? I know I'm not" one by one the she-wolves shook their head as the severity of the situation dawned upon us all. I watched the elder as she rubbed up and down her arms, catching sight of her blue-tinged skin from the weakened blood flow, heart rate and oxygen levels. I knew the last observational stats that each of these women had taken and I had to agree with the verdict: we were not ready to fight
"What do we do? We can't give up and go with them! I'd sooner die!" I almost shouted.
The Elder's eyes went to the Last Resort cabinet. "Exactly." She stood up and made her way over, receiving tearful nods from her friends as she passed then by
"No!" I hissed, conscious that the children were not far away. "We will not die like this! All we need is a distraction technique. They won't use every Wolf here to attack! We will be able to get the majority of us passed them, I know it! Once we're out of here we stand a much better chance, I'm sure of it! Please don't do this!"
"Shut up, Jasmine!" She barked back at me, her spine straightening as she stood at her full height. "Khaos included this for a reason. We will not die at their hands, we have a choice!"
"This is not a choice! This is..."
"Certain death, that's what it is!" She screamed, losing all of her composure. "They want to feed us to their guard dogs Jasmine, alive might I add! They want to sell the children to a life of slavery and underage prostitution! Tell me that's a choice better than death and you're welcome to stay here and wait to be raped repeatedly and later ripped apart! I will not allow myself, my children or my grandchild to experience the same!" I hung my head, really not having any other answer for her
She unlocked the cabinet, holding out the deathly vials of liquid. These were one-shot things, a lethal mix of wolfsbane and cyanide, it was designed to kill within minutes.
One by one, the she-wolves who had children in this room stepped forward, opening sobbing as they accepted the vial offered to them and whispered a rushed prayer with The Elder
They approached their children, almost blinded by tears as they looked down at their sweet, innocent faces so deep in slumber, unaware of the horror that was about to happen.
They placed kisses upon their foreheads, their tears spilling onto the porcelain faces of the little angels.
"May the Moon Goddess have mercy on our souls" they whispered in unison before stabbing each one in the neck, smothering their faces with a pillow as they began to thrash about wildly.
I looked away, unable to stand it any longer. Screams that would stay with me for the rest of my life reverberated around the room as the children passed away, quickly and painfully, the mothers howling out their anguish.
"Come with me, my sister's. Let us end our lives together, as we should be. We will not be used in such a way, we will not experience such pain. Together we can end this" The Elder extended her hand towards the cabinet as women rushed forward to get their dosage.
"You're no better than those outside" I whispered when she looked in my direction. "You're a monster. You have played on their vulnerable emotions and I hope the Moon Goddess sentences you to eternal punishment and suffering"
"No, Jasmine. The eternal suffering shall be yours when the real monsters find their way in here." With perfect timing a small explosion came from the other side of the door, smoke pouring in through the small gaps around the sides.
"I love you all" she whispered, jabbing the needle into her neck, leading by example as every Wolf around me followed suit.
Another loud bang shot out, the door shaking as it struggled to withstand such a blast. I looked into the cabinet and saw a few remaining vials of liquid, knowing I had mere minutes to make my choice.
Imagine! Imagine the nerve to ring her once more! Nyx had actually laughed down the phone! She thought it was hilarious as she spoke of the children who had been poisoned and smothered. The women who had choked on their own vomit as they waited for death to overtake them. There had been no survivors in the room, her guards had gone round each corpse individually and inflicted one last act of violence on them to ensure none of them was faking it.
She really was insane. As much as I wanted to punish that pack, and most especially Khaos, this was too much. My own mate had sobbed upon returning home. He was a hardened soldier and even he had been traumatised by what had taken place tonight.
That's when I had told Nyx that our business was done. Never again need we contact each other, the arrangement was complete. She had given me a few choice words, insulting me one last time as she stated she was happy to never have to deal with my pampered, spoiled ass again. Her parting words were ones of stark warning. She was willing to spare my daughter as thanks, so long as she stayed out of her way.
Oh, Nyx. You needn't worry about that. I had learnt my lesson here - the Apple most certainly did not fall far from the tree and I would be taking matters into my own hands to get my daughter back.
I laid on the floor for hours, surrounded by the dead bodies of my family and friends. Every time I opened my eyes I was met with the glassy stare of a she-wolf, the pain forever frozen on her face. I wanted desperately to reach out and close her eye in forever slumber but I was too scared to move a muscle.
I had pulled a body on top of me as the door began to crumble and hidden beneath it, pretending to have killed myself alongside the rest of them. The guards had come round and kicked at us, snapping the fingers of a few to see if they responded to the pain. I was lucky that all they had done to me was pull my hair back and shine a light in my eyes, clearly happy with the marble-looking gaze they saw behind my lids.
Even after the last guard left I continued to lay here, scared that it was a trap. I heard them retreat, hearing nothing but the sweet sound of silence. Through the holes they had blown in the packhouse I saw the night creep into day and still I remained. Nobody came to check this room and I eventually pushed the body off me, looking around in disgusted horror. I deliberately avoided looking at the small, skinny arm as it dangled limply off the cot bed. I couldn't bear to see it.
I limped out of the room, clutching the walls for support as I frantically tried to control my breathing, seeing death and destruction all around me.
Once outside, I slowly began to make my way around the bodies, closing their eyes and whispering a prayer over them that would hopefully carry them over to their eternal resting place with the moon goddess.