The Hunter

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Chapter 28 ~ Show Them

…Ryder’s P.O.V...

Alpha Leon sat on stage with Luna Isla as I looked out over the rather empty hall, hmm, where were the wolf pack? The Vampires had been here since darkness had hit, my unit and Arrows unit, was here, so, where are they?

“Ulric, where are the wolves?” He scratched the side of his head nervously.

“When Alpha, requested their presence, he gave them an option to come or not.”

“What? He did what?”

“Calm down Rocky and listen okay. We are not meant to be friends with Vampires, these people have lost family members to blood… Ryder wait?” But I didn’t wait, I couldn’t wait, I needed the pack if we were going to pull this off and the packs alliances.

I lunged forward ready for a fight. “Why did you do that?” I accused desperately.

“Calm down Ryder, do you forget who you are speaking to?” Alpha Leon was cold, calculated, his temper just below the surface, ready to break. Isla’s movements and eyes darting between us, told me she feared the way this conversation was going.

“We are about to lose everything we have worked so hard for and you give them an option? Don’t you get it? I wouldn’t have asked you if it wasn’t important. The King is rallying his forces, the moment the crown is handed to Gage at the coronation, he plans to release every one to wipe out ALL, super-naturals… including werewolves!” I was beyond angry, the Kings plans threatened everyone I cared about, he threatened my mates life.

I flopped to the stage floor and hung my legs over the side and motioned for everyone to move closer. “Thank you, everyone, for coming.”

In truth, I didn’t know where to begin but I don’t doubt that they had already heard my temper flare at Alpha. “As you heard, Gage is to be crowned in Emerson where all of the King’s reinforcements will be waiting. Avron is Gage’s mate…”

“Wait, so he is a wolf?” Ulric questioned, looking back at his father.

“And he’s mated to a dude?” Roland required confirmation, I knew neither of them would have let me slide past that tasty morsel of information.

“It happens, grow up,” Alpha barked.

“Fucken glad that wasn’t me.” Ashley and Roland snickered while high fiving each other just as a warning growl protrudes from deep within Alpha Leon’s chest and they both duck their heads in shame.

“Please continue, Luna Ryder,” Lance, Leonardo’s Beta, spoke for the first time ever since I’ve been here. My eyes snapped toward Isla at the use of my future title but she just smiled and nodded to continue.

“Um… tha-tha thank you, Beta Lance… Um… both Avron and Gage were heterosexual before they found out they were mates and before you interrupt again, they combat this issue by bedding numerous woman… umm, together.” My cheeks flushed at my explanation but I regained my composure and carried on despite the excitement evident in Jason, Henry, Ashley, Victor and Roland’s eyes. “Now that’s clarified, the King of Hunters has been planning this genocide for a few years, he is determined to eradicate all species so that only humans exist. Which threatens not just Gage’s mate but my mate, not just that, Gage has some Vampires that run with him, they can day walk… shit, I never asked him how? Fuck.” I heard a gasp from the coven but continued.

“Well, anyway, he also has a warlock and a high born faerie apart of his unit. So in extension, he ultimately has more reason than I to acquire alliances. Avron is a prince and his entire pack, including the packs within his kingdom, are willing to stand and fight. So are allies from the Faerie realm and the warlocks allies, besides his unit, there are none others who are willing to fight. In fact, up until he arrived here, he thought he was alone when it came to this unusual way of life. Mathias, who trained me, is willing but he cannot rely on any others to turn against Mavericks unit.

“The King has acquired a Bloodline, Vampires blood, which he plans to mass-produce and distribute to all Hunters, essentially making them ten times stronger and more lethal. Arrow and I grew up on my father’s compound but as it turns out, we never really knew our surroundings. Dimitri was bitten by a bloodline Vampire, his blood is extremely potent and the vials we stole, were nothing compared to the lot he has mass-produced for the King, which is how he has managed to stay so wealthy, selling recreated blood vials with the Bloodline Vamp and Dimitri’s potent blood, the Hunter ingestors in this war will be catastrophic.”

“What you’re asking, little one, is - are we willing to participate in a massacre?” Luna Isla clarified.

“What I’m asking, is will you stand with me?” I reiterated.

“Stand with you means you have decided to go no matter what.” Ulric interjected with a murderous tone, “so what was that bullshit not 20 minutes ago in the shower Ryder?” I didn’t have to look at him to know what he was thinking or how he was feeling, nobody in the room did.

“I told you, you wouldn’t like what I had to say…”

“Fuck off Ryder, you knew how easy fuck-seduction worked on me, so you used it to reveal snippets while I was buried balls deep in your cunt and couldn’t think straight.” He pushed off the stage he was leaning against and stood right in front of me, “You don’t even deny it, do you?”

“Son?” Isla’s plea came from behind us, “please calm down.”

“Explain Ryder,” Alpha Leon ordered from behind me.

“To get into the Kings compound, I would…” I inhaled and exhaled sharply.

“What Ryder? What could possibly be worse than you deciding things without me?” I stay still and silent for a moment, desperately gathering my thoughts, eyes trained on Ulric’s chest, unable to face him directly.

“I would have to marry him.” I spat it out quickly just as an ear piercing ROAR came from Ulric, he shook violently holding back his shift.

“MINE!” He snarled, my body shuddering in reaction to his Alpha aura.

Unable to hold back any longer, he transformed into his mighty fur beast and took off, out the meeting hall and into the forest. Roland kissed Claire on the cheek, whispering about how Ulric needs him right now and he and the boys shifted and took off after him. I sat there with head hung low, gripping the side of the stage, so hard, it turned my knuckles turned white.

“Well, that could have gone better,” Leonardo rings from behind me as his footsteps draw closer and he sits down next to me. “So, you want me to what? Travel my pack and possibly other packs to Emerson and fight in a war, that has been waged for thousands and thousands of years?”

“It different this time Alpha Leon, it was always our own kind against one other species, not all super-naturals against bloodthirsty psychotic Hunters.”

“And what if it doesn’t work? You’re asking me to risk my entire pack, your pack, on the word of one man?” He jumps off and takes a few steps up the aisle but halts and turns. “I won’t do it, we are safe here, protected.”

“You won’t be. I get it, I do… but if we fail, they will find you and then it’s, your 4000, against tens of thousands. An army bred to eradicate… and then it will be too late.” He waves me off and strides out of the hall.

“I’m no leader Ryder, Dimitri is, he’s just a little lost right now, I can’t speak for the other Vampires but I can speak for me… I will stand with you.”

I looked up to Valentino as she affirmed her allegiance, the rest of the coven nodded and hummed in agreement. I actually expected it, vampires were drawn to violence, hence why there were so many prominent BDSM figures that circulated within human colonies, it was like a pull within their genetic code, the need for sex and torture, pain and pleasure… unfortunately, it was something I had come across many times in my years as a Hunter and memories I could not erase. Despite drinking only from animals, vampiric tendencies were engrained deep within their souls, so going to war was nothing for immortals.

“Unit? Arrow and your unit, what say you?”

Claire, Myka and William voiced loudly their approval and allegiance, the new ones just nodded.

Arrow, however. “Jesus Christ Ryder, how do you get yourself into these complicated situations? It’s like chaos follows you.”

“Wow Arrow, as if I didn’t just get slapped in the face by my mate and my Alpha, now my own brother?”

“Look, you’re asking me to kill humans… our human brothers and sisters in arms…”

“Crazy hyped up, lunatic, bloodthirsty Hunters.”

“You can rephrase it however you want Ryder, you’re requesting we kill our own kind and I presuming your plan is to find your two missing members but they are just kids Ryder, untrained kids… but kids. You should not request that of them, they should never be witness to such cruelty and violence, you should know better.” He turned on his heels and walked out with his unit behind him.

Everyone else departs, leaving what I presumed, was just me and Claire behind. She rests up against the stage next to me munching on Twisties.

“So, I take it we were wrong about him… Twistie?” She offers but I refuse.

“What am I doing Clay?”

“You’re doing what you have always been trained to do Ryder,” she sounded almost arrogant. “You’re putting a team together to destroy Vampires, only difference is… instead of Vampires, we replace it with the word Hunters, it’s the same threat - they are the same evil.”

“But Arrow…”

“Yes, I’m well aware of what he just said but he didn’t see a lot of the abuse you suffered at the hands of those monsters. He wasn’t there to bandage your wounds continuously, reset the dislocations or wipe away the blood after you’ve been raped.” My lip quivered as tears gathered in my eyes, “you’ve endured first-hand, the depravity and psychotic tendencies of blood ingestion, despite us being mated to wolves and them threatening everything we love - you know what the future holds if the King follows through. But they don’t Ryder... because you never fucken talk about it. You hold everything in so now, what you fear most, may come to fruition, all because you wouldn’t open up and trust them.”

“I can’t let them see me as weak Clay.”

“It’s not weakness Ryder, it’s strength. You suffered hell and survived but when they know what you and I both know, their answer will be different. Any child raised under the rule of the old Hunter ways, will be raised by abuse of the most horrendous kind, I know what you fight for but they don’t.” She pushes off the stage and walks out, leaving me there is silence.

Damn Clay, damn her and her absolute logic but I couldn’t tell. I had buried those memories so far down, that hidden was the only way I could cope. I never knew the reason for Arrow’s refusal for blood ingestion but I knew mine. Those demonic memories haunt my very being, I couldn’t sleep a full night until Ulric marked me, almost like he began to fix me from the inside out.

I hid secrets, yes, but only because reliving what I already suffered through, was a hell I endured every night - I didn’t need it in my daytime as well... until I was marked... but could I really? Could I trust that others would somehow understand? It was not an uncommon occurrence within our order for the parents to be crazed out abusers but Claire’s parents, despite being blood ingestors, had not been half as cruel as what mine had been, so I guess, for some reason they just hated me.

“Your Lieutenant is right, you know?” An authoritative but motherly voice pulled me from my inner musings. “About it being your strength.”

“You heard that?” I groaned, mentally kicking myself that I had not thought to check others were in the room. Claire had to have seen her sitting there, yet she purposely carried on sharing a secret - my secret.

“Yes. I stayed because from what I know, you are a natural born protector, so for you to want to put lives at risk, it must mean something?”

“I can’t though, they are right, I have no right to ask this of anyone.”

“I didn’t belong to this pack,” she moved almost silently as she came to sit beside me, folding her legs under herself. “I was a Beta’s daughter, to a cruel and sadistic Alpha who never found his mate, although, after being under his reign, I now believe The Moon Goddess never blessed him with one.”

“Are you going to tell me, you know what I’m going through?”

“No… I can’t even imagine what you’ve been through, but I listened to what everyone had to say. My start to life was not perfect and when I came of age, unfortunately, I attracted the Alpha’s attention. It was all set and my parents had agreed that my 21st birthday would be my wedding night, so the day before - I went rogue. It’s dangerous for any wolf to be rogue, a wanderer with no family, no connection. I was eating out of the garbage or what I could catch in the wild… which wasn’t very much considering our Alpha never allowed woman education or basic rights to anything - we were there to keep house, cook, breed and give pleasure.

“Until one day, I was so exhausted, I was so hungry, filthy and just… lonely, that as I sat on a park bench figuring out how I would end my life. The sweetest smell in the world came wafting across my senses, sparking my system to life - my mate - the one thing that was perfectly made for me, he had been out running and smelt me too. He stood mere inches away, staring at me, my body ignited like a Christmas tree, the mate bond was instant, but like all good things in my life, it wasn’t meant to be.

“The Alpha had found me, his hand entwined in my hair and yanked hard, ripping me from my position and his guards surrounded us. I could hear Leonardo’s growls but he couldn’t get to me, I thought I’d never see him again. The Alpha locked me away in a dark and damp cell, surrounded by toxic silver, he’d beat me daily, no water or food, raped me and left me there in my shredded and blood-soaked clothing. All hope was stripped from me, until a war broke out. I didn’t care… I lay there, broken, on that cold concrete floor praying to die.

“After hours, silence had finally set in. I guessed Alpha would be down soon to take from my body again and I welcomed the darkness as I lay completely still in the pool of blood that had dried around me. I prayed for death with every fibre of my being… but it was not him that pried open the doors, it was Leonardo. He hadn’t forgotten about me. He had gone home and convinced his father to go to war, for me, for his mate, his mate that had been stolen - his reason to fight. I was so weak and so broken, all I could do was whimper in pain and shame. Shame that I had been unable to stay pure for him, shame he had to see me in that condition and shame that I would be unable to be anything more for him.

“He released me from my prison after killing our Alpha and inherited his pack and stayed by my side night and day, nursing me back to health, loving me through every nightmare, every tear shed. There were many times I begged him to kill me, to let me go, that I was too broken for him but he didn’t, I was his goal and his reason for being. What I’m trying to say is - a man needs a reason to fight.

“Leonardo’s was my kidnapping. Yet, he didn’t even know my name, he fought to protect me, to get back what was blessed to him. Show them a way, show them your strength, your pain is much more than your reminder. Let it fuel you, lead you, burn bright and guide you… you are far from weak Ryder, give them a reason to fight.”

Her words were thick and strong with conviction and emotion, no one could tell by looking at her, that she had endured such violation and violence and survived. But she was right, her words had struck a chord, her story was similar to mine - it was time. I wouldn’t hold back. I will remind everyone, of the reason why I am who I am!

“Thank you Luna Isla,” I jumped off from my seated position and gratefully bowed.

Her words heeded warning, “remember you are strong because you survived.” I strode out of there with a confident spring in my step and determination on my face, it was time. Ulric first, then the others - but before that, I had to wait him out.

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