“Every day is like a battle.”
~New Romantics, Taylor Swift
War is a part of life, whether it’s on a battlefield or in your home. You can fight for anything with war: love, freedom, power, money. The list is endless. In my life, war has been necessary. I was a soldier, fighting for my masters, the Keepers, so they could keep their power and money. Then I fought for my freedom and won. Without the Searchers, that victory wouldn’t have been possible. Finally I fought for love when my old Keeper nearly took my fiancé away from me.
My name is Arya Laroche, and these wars I fought happened only five years ago. Now I live happily in Estes Park with my husband Ren, my five children- Tyler, Jake, Ember, Elsa, and Anna- and the rest of my pack. Half of us lived on one side of Estes Park, on the north side. The other half lived on the south side. We decided it would be easier to keep track of everything going on that way.
Carrie and Melinda each had two kids. Reyna, Casey and Erin all had one with Erin being pregnant with her second. Taki was pregnant with her first, due any day. Nancy was the only who wasn’t with child. She didn’t mind and ne neither did her husband Derek. They weren’t ready to have kids and that was completely understandable. Ren and I, on the other hand, just couldn’t wait to get started…
“Hunter! Caleb! Stop fighting!” I ordered when I saw my two sons gnashing their teeth at each other. We had a problem with them. Both were alpha material and even though Hunter and Caleb were only about a year apart, respectively five and four, they already were trying to decide who would lead the pack. Ren and I had discussed splitting the pack up so both could be alphas, one leading the north side and one leading the south. However, we decided to wait for a while until we made a final decision on that.
I turned around when Elsa started crying, holding her arm. She had teeth marks on it. I looked over at Ember who was laughing until she saw me glaring at her. My daughter cowered. As I consoled my daughter over her wound, an explosion went off in the background. I whirled around. Pillars of black smoke rose up and a cold feeling settled into my stomach.
“Erin, Nancy, Taki, take the kids back to the compound!” I ordered. Carrie, Melinda, Reyna, Casey, you’re with me!”
The five of us shifted into wolf form and darted over to the south compound.
Ren! Are you okay? I asked my husband.
I’m fine. I’m heading over there now with the boys. Are you okay? He replied instantly.
I’m fine, just worried. I’ll see you there.
It took us ten minutes to get to the location. The smell of smoke was overwhelming but there was something else, something more sinister in the air. I couldn’t tell what it was though.
“Arya!” My husband shouted at me. I changed forms but kept running. The girls had fallen behind me as I rounded the bend.
I lost sight of my wife for one second when she rounded that bend. I shouted for her to wait up but naturally, she didn’t. I found my wife frozen in place in front of the burning houses.
“Oh my god,” I said. The houses were engulfed by malignant orange flames. Thick black smoke poured out from the places where doors and windows used to be. The thing was, the fire wasn’t the scariest thing. I hadn’t seen it until my wife let out an agonizing scream. My vision swam, unwilling to believe what was happening. Twenty-three heads on spikes, thirteen adults and ten children, displayed for the whole world to see. Arya began to run up to them but I grabbed onto her. My wife sobbed in my arms.
“Shiloh, call Erin and tell her to get everyone out of the compound in case whoever did this to them is trying to do it to our compound,” I ordered. Shiloh nodded and tearing his eyes away from the gruesome sight, made the call. A few seconds later, he hung up.
“They’ve taken the kids to the Stanley. They’re bunking in the main building right now. They have rooms for all of us. The police have sent a bomb squad out to our houses to make sure it’s safe to go back to. They’re heading here now,” Shiloh informed. After he finished saying that, police, ambulances, and fire trucks pulled up to the scene. The firefighters worked quickly to put out the flames but I knew nothing would be salvageable of this.
“Sir, may I speak with you?” a police officer asked gently.
“Yes,” I replied in as steady of a voice I could manage.
“Were you here when the explosion happened?”
“No. I was back at my compound with a few others. My wife and some of our pack were at the park with the kids. We both heard it though. They were… they were our family.”
“I’m very sorry that you must go through this. May I have your number in case I need to ask you any more questions?”
“If you need us, we’ll be at the Stanley Hotel. That’s where we’re staying until the bomb squad deems our house safe to return to.” I stood up, gently bringing Arya to her feet.
“Ren… our pack…” she breathed.
“I know. I know…” I felt tears streaming down my face. Shiloh came over to us and whispered that the car was here to take us to the hotel. I lifted my wife in my arms and carried her to the ride. We were silent the entire way. Carrie, Melinda, Reyna, and Casey were all crying. Loren, Shiloh, Dean, and Sam were all crying as well, not holding anything back.
When we arrived at the hotel, we quickly filed in, not wanting anyone to get a look at our tear-streaked faces. At least not the paparazzi. They always had been too interested in our affairs. We didn’t want them getting too good of pictures.
The rest of our pack was huddled together in the room they’d booked for me and Arya. The kids were playing in a corner, oblivious to what had just happened. All but Caleb who seemed to pick up on his mother’s distress almost instantaneously. He ran over to her and hugged her leg.
“Everything okay mommy?” he asked.
Arya managed a smile. “It is now that I know you and the others are safe.”
“Where’s the rest of the pack?” Hunter inquired, coming up to us. The other kids were following their lead, staring at us with curious eyes. Arya picked up Caleb. I sat down and let Hunter, Anna, and Elsa sit in my lap. Ember went to her mother.
My wife’s eyes glowed with a fury I hadn’t seen since she attacked Lumine when that wench had tried to kill me. Arya cleared her throat. “There’s no easy way to put this but we have just lost half our pack. This was not a random attack. It was calculated and done in cold blood. I don’t know who did this, why they did this, or why they chose us, but I’m going to find out. I’m going to kill them. Whoever did this, I’m declaring war on them. And they better be ready. Tonight, we will celebrate the beautiful souls of our family: Ray and Irene Flinn, Austin Gardner, Walter and Mia Mendel, Amy and Dmitri Ferguson, Michael and Katrina Jackson, Tony and Leyla Parker, and their children: Troy Flinn, Harley Flinn, Mary, Flinn, Jane Mendel, Fiona Mendel, Neil Ferguson, Ryan Jackson, Barry Jackson, Allen Parker, and Georgina Parker.”
“Did they leave us?” Caleb piped up.
“No. They were taken from us sweetie.”
“But they’re coming back, right?” Hunter asked.
“I wish they were, but they can’t.” Arya knelt down and looked at her sons. “Your father and I, your aunts and uncles, we’re going to find out who did this, and we’re going to bring them to justice.”
“You’ll be safe here,” I added. “We’re going to have your grandparents watch you.”
“Don’t leave mommy, don’t leave!” Caleb begged, tightening his grip around Arya’s neck.
“If I don’t, the people that killed our pack, they’ll come after us again, and I can’t let anything else happen to any of you.”
“But-but what if you don’t come back?”
“I will come back. I promise.”