Bound by Duty

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The Ant and the Wolf

The last two months had been hectic for the warriors of the Amethyst Pack. They had been wrung out until the last drop, squeezing out the last bit of their potential. She rode them so hard that they could no longer remember how they were before.

But their transformation was tremendous. They had changed beyond recognition — their demeanour, posture, senses had all become sharp and keen, making them more rounded werewolves and especially able warriors. They had also improved their coordination as a group. They were able to now instinctively sense each other and give cues and signals even in the form of wolves.

But all this was nothing compared to the kind of training they saw her do. It could only be named as Hell Training. She rode herself fifty times harder than she rode them all. She put herself through what could only be called a form of torture. But this torture reaped tremendous benefits for her in the long run. Seeing the way she trained, the warriors never gave an excuse to miss training or slack off.

When Sean had first heard about this arrangement, he was thrilled. He had seen the way the Jade Pack’s warriors worked — the kind of battle-hardened battalion she had turned them into. He had been thankful to the goddess that his warriors would also go through such a change. And change they did.

Sean and a sheepish and chagrined Grace watched and even sometimes participated in the training. Grace’s foundation wasn’t strong so she had to work extra hard to catch up with the rest.

It so happened that one day, six weeks after Danielle arrived, Sean and his beta, Cole sat in the alpha’s office discussing the agenda for the day. As they were taking a break, they looked outside the window where fifty werewolves were practising group fights together. Cole looked at Sean and smirked. Sean noticed this and raised a brow questioningly.

“I bet two days’ leave that you can’t do it,” Cole chuckled.

“Can’t do what?” Sean asked, leaning forward on the table.

“Defeat her in a fair fight,” Cole said, still smiling.

Sean first bristled. Then he considered the matter properly. It was true that she was strong. She also had more experience than he did, judging by the way she fought. It was a very unique style which he hadn’t seen before. Besides, he had never seen her fight with her full strength, ever.

But he wasn’t ready to admit it to his beta. He didn’t want to admit anything before he could see for himself. It wasn’t a question about who was stronger — it was about who was a better fighter.

So that’s how he found himself pleading with Danielle. “Come on, Dani,” He nearly begged. “Don’t be like that. It’s just once, I promise. Let’s do it.”

Danielle shook her head emphatically. She could never, ever give in to his request. She couldn’t fight him in public. She wasn’t such a bad friend.

“Do you think you’ll lose?” Sean taunted. “Is that why you’re saying no?”

Danielle gave him A Look. He felt foolish for even saying that. ”Come on, Sean,” he told himself. ”Have some self-confidence."

So he pushed on relentlessly. “Or are you afraid of some injuries? Afraid that the pack will think you’re weak?” He continued with his mindless questioning.

Danielle looked him in the eye but hesitated. Sean raised his eyebrows impatiently. “You will lose the respect of your pack,” she said quietly. Sean jumped, startled.

“Are you... are you seriously saying that I will lose to you?” He asked incredulously. Danielle was now annoyed.

With hands on her hips, she demanded, “What’s your count, Grant?”

Sean frowned. “Count...?”

“Your kill count. What is it?”

Sean opened and closed his mouth like fish. “That... I...”

“Mine is two hundred and twelve in the last eight months alone,” Danielle retorted sharply. Her tone then softened. “I’m not saying I’m better because I’ve killed more people, but I have more experience fighting than you do. I fight to kill, not to spar. You wouldn’t win against me.”

Sean had a stubborn look on his face. “You never know until you have actually fought with me, Dani,” he insisted. “You have to spar with me to find out who’s better.”

This time, she didn’t deny him. She narrowed her eyes. “Sure?” He nodded. “Come to the arena, then.”

They went to the training centre and got up one of the rings in the centre. There weren’t many people around so Sean was feeling more confident about this. They got up the arena and Danielle signalled for the fight to start.

It only took thirty seconds for him to face his first defeat. Sean’s posture and moves were filled with a dozen loopholes that she could make use of. She barked out instructions for him, “Don’t keep your hands like that, spread your legs out, even more, lean back and squat down! You won’t get anywhere, otherwise!”

“Once more!” Sean yelled.

And Danielle signalled the start of a fight again. This time, he lasted only slightly longer. By then, the few people inside the training centre had mind-linked other members of the pack. Seeing their alpha fighting the woman who trained them for the better was a feast for the eyes.

The third time around was better. Sean lasted a full ten minutes before being defeated again. For a total of nine rounds, his speed of growth was fast and the time he remained on the ring progressively increased. But his stamina started to wane.

The warriors who had been trained by Danielle the past six weeks were conflicted about who to cheer for. Their pack loyalty demanded that they support their alpha. But their newfound loyalty to their instructor and trainer made them want to cheer for Danielle. Ultimately, they found themselves cheering for both. This was a naked betrayal, but no one said a word against them. While they liked that Danielle was winning, they also hoped for their alpha to become stronger which made them encourage the fights.

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