Cabals apparently do not like it when you descend on their headquarters unannounced, or announced, go figure. Sean was flying from Japan as fast as he could once Savannah finally contacted him. He had given them permission to search the entire building for Ira or for clues including all the hidden away areas of the building. He sent them a blue print and ordered his staff to clear out for the day. Only two men stayed, men he could trust and who had met the council members before. Reese still did not trust any of them though.
Lucas, Paige and the other council members would be meeting them at the cabal in a few hours. For the time being they had split up into two teams to search. Arin, Sean's right hand man and fellow sorcerer, guided them and offered advice but let them lead the way. He admitted he was away at another meeting and had no idea Josef would be there. The fellow Nast was always careful to come when Sean and his trusted associates were away. He had planned well and by coincidence been here when Chloe and Derek came in.
"Speaking of Chloe and Derek," Kim muttered when the man stopped speaking. They were in a hallway well below the other levels and hidden from most of the other employees. Sean had renovated the original metal bars and dreary exterior to a more modern day holding cell. There were six rooms with beds, bathrooms and desks. As far as prions went it was very comfy, a step up from the pack's own cages.
Reese stopped beside his mate and looked into the second room down, the first had been empty. On the other side of the one way glass Derek paced angrily sending a glare at the cameras and the videos and uttering threats when he got tired of this before pacing again. Beside his cell was Chloe's. She was sitting on the bed hugging her knees to her chest and muttering to someone, most likely her ghost friend who no one could ever remember the name of except Jaime and Kim.
"Elizabeth," Kim said lowly knowing where his thoughts were. Reese nodded not really caring. None of the other cells held anyone and Ira's scent had no come way. So far they had tracked him through the foyer and two floors of the upper level before following the trail to the elevator that led to the roof. He disappeared after that. The assumption was that he was taken somewhere and the scent was similar enough to Sean's to assume they knew who took him as well. Sean assured them that Josef would not hurt Ira. He would just want him to add to their collection. Just.
"Open the door," Reese ordered Arin who nodded. He stepped up and held his palm to the sensor. It beeped and he had to input a code before it opened. Reese memorised the code just in case. Derek snarled and started towards the door as soon as he heard people but he wisely stopped when Reese appeared. Derek halted in his tracks, swore and wiped a hand across his forehead.
"Fuck is right," Reese growled crossing his arms and walking into the room. Part of being an enforcer was intimidation. Clay had that down pat. He was never the biggest or tallest guy but he could intimidate the crap out of even the biggest guys, which was the first thing the Aussie had learned from him. Derek was a big guy, bigger than Reese but that didn't matter. Derek automatically backed up. They had gone head to head before but never in this capacity. Derek and Chloe had gotten some help and training from the pack but had declined membership. They were not offenders so they got a free pass. This was the first time they had done anything remotely offensive or mutt like.
Reese let the look unsettle the other wolf before he walked forward and grabbed Derek's shirt. He gave the man a sniff smelling his son immediately. Derek stayed still. He was always more brain than brawn though there was plenty of brawn as well. "My son," Reese said in a deadly low voice. Derek sucked in a breath but said nothing.
Behind Reese footsteps sounded and he recognized Kim and someone else, lighter and more hesitant. Reese didn't turn knowing that Kim had his back. He did let go of Derek and back up a bit not trusting himself to not hurt the man. The hesitant footsteps faltered for a moment and then sped up walking past him. Still Reese did not take his eyes off his prey even when Derek embraced Chloe and even when they kissed very quickly. He tried to push her behind him. She resisted and stood beside him instead with a determined look.
"Why?" Kim finally asked standing beside him. She was much an enforcer as he was. They were a team modeled after Elena and Clay but with subtle differences. Kim could be the heavy just as well as Reese could and Reese could negotiate as well as her. If one of them was gone the other picked up the slack. Words were not needed between them when small gestures and knowing one another's minds worked much better.
"We're so sorry," Chloe began. Derek huffed at this and she glared at him before continuing. She set a hand on her stomach and looked at them imploringly. "Please, they're going to take him. We were desperate. We panicked and we weren't thinking. " Kim looked at Reese confused for a moment before surprise and comprehension dawned.
Chloe was pregnant and now that they were looking for it they smelled it and the exact age of the baby. She was approximately three months along. She and Kim would have children almost the same age if you counted the gestation period of a werewolf giving birth being six and not nine months.
Reese rubbed his jaw and ordered them to explain. Again Chloe took over knowing Derek was in too foul a mood to even try and communicate without starting a fight. Sean hadn't known about the baby but Josef somehow got word. They figured there was a mole within the community they still lived in. As soon as the baby was born the child was the property of the Nast cabal no matter what Sean said or did. Josef considered it part of their contract and they were being watched and monitored carefully.
Run and their family would be killed; their contracts kept through every generation of their family until they cabal caught them. Their children, their grandchildren and great grandchildren would all belong to the cabal. Every child would be taken from their parents and made loyal to the cabal. Conditioned to fight for them or die. Conditioned to be a vicious man killer.
They did escape though, splitting up into teams of two or three. They had been running most of their lives given a good reason. A baby was the best reason of all. They went to New York City to hide knowing it was the last place the cabals would look for them. That is where they found Ira and had the idea. If they gave the cabals a werewolf child they could keep theirs, get their family back and break their contract. Panic and desperation propelled them forward with the plan without really thinking it through. Of course the cabal would not keep its word; Josef would not keep his word. Now he had Ira and the plan had gone to shit. Josef would have just considered Ira a bonus, the start of the cabal creating a small werewolf assassination team.
"I can't believe that plan didn't work." Noah walked up beside his siblings and adopted the same look and posture of Reese. Noah wasn't an enforcer but he was a valuable member of the werewolf pack. With him they had someone who could control the supernatural world legally making an unbeatable team with Lucas. They had averted a lot of disasters because of Noah.
"So trading my child to save the life of another sounded like a good idea?" Reese growled lowly. His tone was dangerously low again on the verge of explosion. Kim set a hand on his arm and scoured the two with a look that told them not to say a word. Wisely they listened to her; most people did if they wanted to survive.
"Reese, it's done." She reminded him telling him they needed to concentrate on Ira and the council meeting taking place upstairs. Everyone should have arrived by now.
"Fine, but Derek," Reese said stepping forward. He came at him fast and had him pinned to the wall looking directly into his eyes. Derek bristled and glowered listening. "You and I have something to settle when I get my son back. If he has as much of a scratch on him you are a dead wolf." With that he followed Noah and Kim out and locked them in the room again ignoring the shouts of indignation coming from the other werewolf.
Things seemed to happening very fast to Ira. Time always seemed slow to him as a little kid but when he got a bit older time sped up to such a fast pace he could barely keep up. He didn't see Chloe and Derek again and Josef refused to answer any of his questions about them either. In fact he wasn't answering many questions at all; he had had his phone stuck to his ear since they stepped off the elevator onto the top floor.
Roughly he ordered Ira to follow and then basically ignored him. The man seemed to like to snap orders a lot from making people move, to getting reports for multiple projects Ira had never heard of, ordering coffee and for his team members to get ready to go. Ira's head whipped back and forth from all the movement, all the people running and saying "yes, sir" and acting so totally terrified it made Ira even more scared in turn.
Soon he found himself looking out over the city with his hands plastered against the glass of a helicopter window. He had asked where they were going and got no reply. He had asked if he could call Reese which only earned him a look and when he asked about Chloe and Derek he was told to shut up and sit down. Ira got the point. He was a tool to Josef, one who should exist and obey but not talk and have his own emotions. He tried to turn them off but the more he tried the more emotional he felt. This felt wrong. He was only ten and he knew this felt wrong.
Ira watched the traffic below the building as they rose higher and higher in the air. He wondered if any of the cars down there contained anyone he knew. He could imagine his dad gripping the wheel tightly and driving erratically with that look on his face, the same look Ira got when he was stressed. That was if his dad even cared enough to come. Maybe he was happy that Ira was gone because then his stress was gone and this burden, Ira, wasn't an issue to him anymore. That hurt more than he thought it would. Kim would certainly be happy he was gone. She hated him. She had proved that. Better to move on. They had a new baby on the way anyway. They would like him more. They would love him more.
It was not a long ride and when they touched down Josef relaxed like he was back in a more familiar environment. He snapped an order for Ira to follow him and not to leave his side. Ira obeyed afraid to do anything else. The building they were in now seemed much bigger and had many more people running around and diving out of the way as Josef walked by. Ira worked hard to keep up with him. The lack of food was not helping in this regard.
Josef dragged him to the nearest elevator as soon as they were inside. They had come from the roof but even up there a fancy elevator waited to taken them into the bowls of the building. They had to take a second elevator after this one though to get any further. Again all Ira could do was watch in amazement. All these supernaturals acting like the world was ending, acting like a god was walking among them. He had a feeling he had underestimated the cabal and Josef.
"Blood, now," Josef snapped as soon as they had reached what Ira was sure was a subterranean level of the building. Ira turned just as a woman, one of the first ones he had seen since Chloe, suddenly reached down and tried to pick him up. Ira backed up and scowled at her as Josef sighed, like Ira was just a disobedient little shit and pointed to the table with that look in his eyes. That look that said Ira would regret this soon if he did not obey.
Ira intended to but on his own terms. H walked to the table and pulled himself up despite the table's height. He looked at the woman waiting for instructions. He had never had blood taken. Technically he was not allowed. He'd been conditioned from young childhood to avoid these kinds of situations like he had been conditioned to never talk about the pack, never eat without the Alpha. He had to prove he was a werewolf though and there was no other way to do it.
Ira looked away from the woman as he took off his coat as ordered and rolled up his sleeve. He watched her closely as she poked him with a metal needle and then watched his dark red blood run down a tube and into a small plastic vial. She took one and then switched it for another and another. Ira started to feel a bit queasy. He looked away. On the other side of the room he was surprised to see dead things floating in jars of green liquid. Things with huge eyes and grey skin, small things and large things and mostly things Ira couldn't identify. They looked a bit like aliens. Would he end up like that? The thought sent a jolt of panic through him.
"No, we need more," Josef barked. Ira turned to his head to see they had three vials there and the woman was unhooking Ira from the tube. The woman tried to argue that they couldn't take much more but Josef said they would take as much as they could without killing him. The woman looked uncertain about this but did as she was told. Ira turned his attention back to the odd things in the tanks. He was feeling sleepier by the moment and finally he closed his eyes and couldn't open them anymore. Blackness encroached and the voices in the background faded as he felt himself fall back and hit the table hard.
"I should have stopped this long ago," Sean said apologetically. Reese set his hands on the table looking directly at the older man. They could have been brothers they looked so much alike. Put Reese in a business suit and to the untrained eye he could have passed for a Nast. The thought did not please him.
"Which part?" Savannah asked gently. The girl had a soft spot for her brother where normally her soft spots were locked up in a cement cage with an impenetrable lock. Savannah was not an easy woman to find the emotions in. Only a few people had even broken the barrier. One of them, Adam, and her husband, had not attended the meeting. He was too busy watching their daughters Eve who was six and Elsa who were four at home along with Ruthie, Paige and Lucas' eight year old daughter. The surprise daughter Jaime called her never within in hearing distance. They hadn't planned a child but she came nonetheless. The couple were much more career focused and much more careful now. She really was the apple of her father's eye though. The person he found the most in besides his wife.
"Josef and trying to establish the broken connection," Lucas answered without looking up from the multiple files and lists he had in front of him. Paige took the pen from his hand and circled something before giving it back to him. They were like breathing, every motion unintentional but calculated.
Sean explained that if he had known this would happen, that Josef would do this, both referring to Ira and Chloe and Derek, he would have kyboshed their relationship and let go of the projects years ago. He never meant for this to happen, to everything to go so far. After they got Ira back Josef, no matter how much he tried to be a stand in for Sean's father, was gone. He was forbidden to enter the cabal again and forbidden from contact with this side of the family. If he wanted a war Sean would give him one.
"The good news is you should know every part of the original cabal building in L.A. With you we should have no problem infiltrating it and getting what is ours back," Elena said sincerely. Now that they had established that only Ira was the target of the cabals she had flown here with Clay leaving the rest to guard the children so she could lead the attack and teach Josef not to mess with the werewolves.
"We could kick ass and be home by dinner darlin'," Clay drawled sitting beside her. He was tipped back in the chair and had his feet on the desk following the conversation lazily.
"We may need Bryce for this." Sean nodded looking reluctant. "If we can tear him away from his studio and the restaurant," Noah mentioned with a small smile. He and Bryce got along well. He had been the first friend outside the werewolf pack that Noah had made. He went down to Studio Nasty or Nasturtium Comer Restaurant, a play on the last name, once or twice a year to see the man if they hadn't met up for supernatural or council reasons in the meantime.
Bryce had lived through what they had done to him, injecting him with various bloods from supernatural races such as zombie, werewolf and vampire. He was close to a hybrid with a werewolf's strength, a vampire's needs for blood and a zombie's slave like behaviour. That was why it was hard for Sean to call on his brother because Bryce would do it. No matter the danger or want because he was compelled to. He had gotten past the worst of it but it would always affect him.
"If Bryce can save Ira's life then we get Bryce," Reese demanded balling his fist. Elena nodded to this and so did Sean after a moment. It was time to show the cabal who was really in charge and maybe take down the devil himself. Maybe it was time for Sean to be running both sides full time.
The first thing he noticed when he woke up was that he was cold. He shivered and reached for the blankets he knew were on his bed. He hated this country. It was far too cold. His hand landed on a blanket and he pulled it up taking a sniff to comfort himself. After a few seconds he stopped, the smell wasn't familiar. It wasn't the laundry soap Kim used. Slowly he cracked open an eye and then the other one surprised. It was dark but he could see the faint outline of a bedroom. He blinked trying to force his foggy brain to understand. Where was he? It felt like it took hours for his mind to clear enough to remember Chloe and Derek and the cabal and then Josef. They had his blood.
A flood of panic surged through him at the thought. He wasn't supposed to do that. Keith would kill him. His dad would kill him. What had he been thinking? Slowly he got up wobbling and falling to his knees again. He struck the ground hard and sucked in a breath but made himself stand again, using the wall, and walk towards the front of the dark room. He squinted getting a better view of his surroundings. He reached the door and grabbed for the knob but there wasn't one, just a sold door. Instead he placed his hand on the door grounding himself in this world that seemed so confusing right now.
Ira pulled himself up feeling cold seeping through his feet and noticing he was only wearing socks. His shoes had been taken. He looked at the door and then turned and looked at the room scanning for a window but again, none. He was too scared to make himself call out, too scared to make his foggy brain even try and think. He felt so drained. Slowly he slid to his knees placing his hands on the cold door as he went and leaning his forehead against what he thought was wood but was really metal. He sucked in a deep breath.
Ira had only cried a handful of times in his life. This seemed worse than a snake bite, then losing his home, and then being so hungry he wanted to peel the paint off the door and eat it. A sob split the air, the first sound he had made. It reverberated off the walls and around the room. A soft light started to illuminate the room as soon as he made noise. The panic was coming on again, worse than ever before, worse than his mum. Ira slid to the floor and curled into a ball trying to breath, trying to stop the waves and the relentless battering all around.
Finally he made himself take a deep breath and calm down to deal with the situation. He had to think. He wasn't just a kid and he had to prove it. He had chosen to do this so he needed to be brave. He needed to show Josef he could do this. That was important for some reason. He could do this and if not he could get himself out of this. He didn't need anyone.
He didn't hear the other voice until the panic passed. It had taken longer than normal this time. "It will pass." Ira lifted his head and looked around. He didn't see any one but the voice spoke again. He pulled himself into a sitting position and sniffed like a small boy, he hated himself in that moment. Ira wiped his eyes with his sleeve.
"Whose there?" he asked in a wobbly voice and cleared his throat to sound a bit better, to sound like his dad, a real werewolf, scary and proud. He probably sounded more like a lion cub though.
"Just another commodity, you sound young. Do you know that word?" the voice asked. Ira scoffed and didn't reply. Instead he asked why the man was there. He explained he was a supernatural too. When the cabal didn't need him he stayed there and they did medical experiments on him. Terror spiked in Ira's stomach. He had signed his contract already and he thought about it now.
Ira considered himself to be smart; he knew he was smart in fact. There had been tests and his mum had always, always told him how much smarter he was then the other kids on the farm, how much smarter he was then her even and probably even his dad who she never mentioned other than those times. Ira could tell his dad was very smart. In fact his dad was the whole package. He was smart, according to the girls he looked good and he could fight. Maybe he would be the entire package someday too. To the Nast's he was the full package.
He reason he was debating his intelligence at this moment was twofold. The situation he found himself in was not a good one and a smarter person than him may never have gotten involved in this situation, never have gone to find his mum because he would have trusted his father, never have trusted, semi trust, ok not really trusted, strangers. He wasn't smarter though which was being proved by the convoluted contract he was reading. It was produced fairly quickly since it had only been an hour since he had gotten there.
Josef said it was the standard contract for non-sorcerer supernaturals. It was twenty pages long and covered everything from length of time serving the cabal, to what was expecting at different ages of him, to what would happen to his body and spirit after his death. It even covered act of God and what he considered silly matters like what happened if he fell out of a plane.
He supposed it was a miracle he was reading and understanding at all with how he felt. "Do you understand?" Josef asked. Ira nodded turning another page. He was trying to limit his movement now since everything sent his head swimming. He didn't understand it all which was the problem so he flipped to the back and signed his name and the date under Josef's steely gaze.
He had never regretted anything more than signing that piece of paper except for leaving in the first place. "How old are you?" the man asked bringing him back to the present. Ira replied with the same question which got a chuckle. He was thirty and had been employed by the cabal for five years. Most of that time had been spent here but he told Ira that there were others, others who had been here far longer. Ira felt the waves crashing again but he sucked in some air to keep calm.
To distract himself he scanned the room again. There was the bed he had been in, a table against one wall with a chair nearby and near the top on the left hand side was a small hole in the wall covered by a metal grid with bars. That must have been where the voice was coming from.
"I'm ten," Ira muttered not quite keeping the fear from his voice but he pushed it back. Time to plan that was if his confused brain was up to the task. There had to be a way out or a way he could manipulate the ones in charge. It was time to make his grandfather proud and do whatever he needed to too get what he wanted and to survive. It took him seconds to think up a plan that would work. It was simple. He would act like a child.
Ira's scream reverberated around the walls of the cell and he inwardly winced. He had always despised the children he was acting like. He always loathed the spoiled, selfish and weak children. He was not weak or childish but he had to act like it. Over his scream the man called out asking what was wrong but Ira ignored him. As soon as he heard the door moving he stood wobbly and stepped back waiting. "Clever," the man from next door chuckled as the door swung open. A man in a lab coat stood there as did a guard with a gun looking none too happy.
"I want to see Josef now!" Ira demanded in his best impression of an Alpha voice. The guard scoffed while the doctor looked alarmed. "NOW!" Ira screamed balling his fists and then started to march past the two. The guard lazily grabbed him and threw him back so hard he hit the floor with a crack. The guard seemed to have more strength than a normal human. Pain bloomed up his arm and shoulder and he let out a strangled cry, a cry that came without his permission, as the doctor swore.
He felt hands on him burning as they touched but the pain was so much he didn't care. He'd give anything just to feel the pain of being touched versus this. The doctor said something and there were footsteps. Ira's eyes were filled with water and he couldn't focus but suddenly he felt something cold in the crook of his elbow. Instantly he relaxed and the pain disappeared. He wiped his eyes embarrassingly with his right sleeve and looked down at his arm which was bent at an odd angle.
Ira was so focused on his odd looking arm that he didn't register that someone picked him up and they were walking, that chaos was erupting all around him. When the doctor set him down on a steel table and jostled his arm Ira didn't even blink. It was like he was living in between a hurricane. Guard ran around, phone calls were made and in the meantime the doctor produced scissors and cut off Ira's shirt. His arm above the elbow was angled sideways towards his chest and his lower arm was almost hanging in half.
He wanted to cry because he should but he didn't feel the pain anymore or the panic. He felt only curiosity now as the doctor felt his arm, straightened it out and carefully applied a cast over the whole arm immobilizing it. It seemed like it took seconds but he felt like he had been there a long time too. Time seemed to freeze and speed up at once. Only when the doctor was done did Josef appear. Ira looked at the angry man's eyes almost bursting with blue flames. He walked forward and examined Ira's arm, without touching it, and then turned to the guard.
"You broke my property," he growled and raise his hand. He said some words that Ira did not understand and suddenly the guard started gasping and grabbed his throat. Ira watched with a cocked head as the guard fell to the floor, his face going blue and his eyes almost popping from their sockets. Finally he gave a gasp and fell forward collapsing to the floor. Silence descended after this and Ira looked at Josef who seemed satisfied. A new fear coursed through Ira. He was supposed to know his enemies but he knew nothing about this man or his abilities. What was this man?