I raced towards the tents where most of the kids were sleeping. As much as I ached to join the battle to protect our Pack, I knew my duty as Alpha. The same duty that had made my mom stay behind when we went off to fight five years ago. I had to protect the kids.
I reached the tent just as Jason, a six year old werewolf, poked his curly brown head out of the tent.
“I have to go pee,” he said upon spotting me.
“Get inside the tent now!” I yelled, ignoring the acrid scent that began emanating the moment I raised my voice. Tears fell from his brown eyes in big fat drops as urine began staining his pajamas. He ducked his head back inside tent, waking the other kids as he began sobbing. They began making disgusted noises as they smelled the urine, their sensitive noses already picking it up even though none of them could transform.
“Stay inside!” I yelled as they tried to exit the tent. They recognized the sense of urgency in my voice, as the tent stopped squirming and they grew still.
Arno hadn’t moved at all, still in his branch as he stared down at me.
“You understand that you can’t save them and yourself, wolf,” he sneered.
“I can sure as hell try,” I replied, scanning for Talia. I spotted her easily, her back to me.
“Talia!” I yelled, “Change already!”
“J-j-josh,” she said, fear stuttering her voice. “I can’t.”
My eyes widened in surprise as she turned around, revealing a large silver pendant that hung around her neck. It was shaped like two crescent moons facing each other, forming an oval in the middle. Red and black stones lined the moons, ending in a black stone hanging in between the oval.
“When he did that thing to you, he placed this around my neck,” her voice shaking in fear. “Josh…I can’t see her. I can’t see my wolf.” She broke down, crying and screaming for her wolf.
I ran to her, trying to pull off the chain. The minute I touched the pendant, I felt as if my skin had started bubbling. I swallowed a scream of pain, letting it go. As soon as I let it go, the pain disappeared. Was this what Talia was feeling? Oh god. What about the baby? I picked her up, and carried her over to the tents.
“Do you like our trinket?” Arno asked loftily from his perch. “One of our greatest designs actually. Stops that pesky Change of yours. Also, it drains away the energy of the person wearing it, so it can counteract your strength, speed, stamina. Look there she goes.”
Talia fainted in my arms, her chest slightly rising the only clue that she was still breathing. I held her tightly against me, trying to keep her warm.
“That is what awaits all of you,” Arno said. He had finally come down from his tree as more vampires burst into the clearing. They all sported the same blood red bat wings as he did, and they each carried pendants just like the ones that Talia had. This was how they planned to capture us.
“We got ‘em boss,” one of the vampires with a vibrant pink Mohawk said in a Cockney accent. “Only ‘ad to kill one of ‘em. Some old bag that wouldn’t stop fightin. Kept on howlin’ for some prat named Mitch.”
Pat. They killed Pat.
“Are you sure you have all of them?” Arno asked. “We cannot afford any mistakes right now.”
No. This couldn’t be. Only fifteen minutes had passed since everyone ran into the forest. How could they have lost so quickly? He was lying. He had to be.
“I’m certain,” Benjy said, looking a bit uncertain. “We got all of the adults, only ones left are the brats in the tent.”
“And the girl?” Arno asked, his eyes narrowing.
“This one you mean?” One of the other vampires handed Benjy a prone figure, her brown hair falling back to reveal a copy of the pendant on Talia. Nichole’s head lolled about, but even in the dim light of the dying fire I could see her shallow breathing.
“And the other girl? He said that there was also a blonde girl with them, one that he treasured above all else except for his mate.”
Benjy hesitated, and I knew that Calliope had avoided capture.
“I thought that there was only one boss,” he said nervously. “My mistake.”
I heard the leaves above Arno rustle. I kept my eyes focused on Arno, forcing myself not to look up. I inhaled, picking up a familiar scent. Arno and Benjy were too busy talking to notice the smell.
Arno grabbed Benjy and pulled him into a bizarre parody of a hug. I saw his arm twitch, and Benjy stiffened in shock. Arno pulled back, and watched Benjy reach up towards his chest. A large ornate stake protruded from the pink haired vampire, the stake itself glittering dully in the finals embers of the fire. I heard the rustling in the trees again, but Arno didn’t pay attention.
“Arno…please…it was a mista--,” Benjy’s finals words were cut off as the dusting process began. I waited for him to turn to dust, instead I shielded my eyes as a dull red glow began surrounding Benjy and the stake. He began crumbling, pieces falling off as the red light began dulling and receding towards the stake. The pieces that fell off didn’t turn to dust, they just lay there, withering and turning Benjy’s dark brown skin into a pale washed out color. The light completely disappeared from the remainder of Benjy’s body, his eyes the final remainder of red. Those too finally died, and turned into a pale rust color. The stake shone brightly once more and Arno removed it from Benjy’s chest. The stake exited Benjy’s body with a wet plop, and he finally began turning into a fine dust until finally he completely disintegrated.
“What a waste,” Arno said with a hint of disgust. “That the master would share his gift with the likes of this failure.” He shook his head, and turned to face me. “Never trust anyone else, young Alpha. This Pack has failed you. Your mate has failed you. Those trembling children inside those tents have failed you. Even that young protégé of yours has failed you. More than likely that she left you with her tail between her legs. And why shouldn’t she? She has no ties to this kennel of filthy dogs. She is nothing but a runaway--”
Calliope burst from the trees, a stake in her hand. Her blonde hair streamed behind her as she fell. I saw the tears in her eyes as she aimed for Arno’s heart, her mouth set in grim determination. Arno made no move to stop her, and embraced her as the stake entered his chest.
“Alright Calliope!” I roared. “My Pack isn’t weak Arno. A child just killed you—“
Arno chuckled and grabbed Calliope with one hand as she tried to scramble away. I waited with bated breath for him to begin turning into dust, to fall as all vampires must when that piece of wood entered their unbeating hearts.
“What are you waiting for dog?” Arno sneered. “Are you waiting for me to die? Do you not understand? I will never die!” With a roar of pain he tore the stake out of his heart as I stared in horror. He smiled at me, and looked at Calliope.
“Did you think I didn’t smell you child? That I couldn’t sense you while you scurried above in the trees like some demented bird?” he yelled at her, pulling her in closer. “Why else would I destroy that fool? I didn’t kill him because he let you escape. I killed him because he let you get this close to us. To me. He didn’t even sense you above. He was a waste of my master’s gift. Just as you are a waste of this dog’s time.”
Calliope spit in his face.
“Charming,” Arno drawled. He wiped the spit off of his face, flicking it onto the ground. He picked Calliope and dangled her by one hand. “You disgusting she-bitch.”
He slammed Calliope’s stake into her side and let her drop. Calliope let loose one howl of pain before she clamped down on the next scream.
“Calliope!” I screamed, beginning to move towards her.
“No!” she cried, her voice ragged. “Do your duty to this Pack! Protect the kids!”
Arno bent over her, one of the pendants dangling in his hand. He picked her head up, moving her entire body with the motion. Calliope let loose a muffled scream as he tore the stake out of her body. He slipped the pendant over her neck, and she fainted instantly.
“Children are supposed to be very resilient,” Arno said, stroking Calliope’s hair back from her face. “She is strong. She may even survive this. I doubt it.” He flashed a quick grin at me. “But she might.”
“Now young Alpha,” he said as he moved towards me. He still held the stake that he had used to kill Benjy. It barely shone as the final embers of the campfire slowly died. He pulled out another pendant, but this one was different from Talia’s and Calliope’s. The metal was a golden color, and the stones on the moons were all black.
“Every great dynasty must end. The Scarlets have held power over the Boston wolves for four generations,” he grabbed my head in an iron grip. I didn’t fight back, knowing that if I did anything, Arno would slaughter all of the children.
“I will kill you,” I said, conviction filling my voice. “I don’t care if I die. I will see you turn into dust.”
Arno burst out laughing as the fire died completely, leaving us in almost darkness. I could still see thanks to my enhanced night vision.
“Stupid dog,” he hissed. “You won’t live long enough to kill me.”
He slipped the pendant over my head.
I felt as if my world had ended. Some part of me died as my eyesight dimmed to regular sight. All my natural strength abandoned me as the pendant burned itself through my shirt. I saw black veins spread through my exposed chest. For a few seconds I saw my wolf running through the trees, a wild expression on his face. Foam dripped from his mouth as his wild eyes looked for me. The drums started slowly, quieter than I had ever heard them.
My wolf burst into the clearing. Arno stared at me, fascinated as I tried to Change. The drums finally stopped, the last gong echoing in my head. My wolf stopped the minute that the drums finished. He stared up at the moon, the black veins running through his eyes as he howled mournfully. Then he finally dissipated into nothing.
“No!” I howled as I fell onto my knees.
“And so dies the Boston Alpha,” Arno whispered with reverence. “Camazotz shall soon be free.”
I fell onto the floor, Talia on my side. Calliope was in front of me, blood pooling around her. I reached out for her, but fell short. I was able to touch her hair as a tear leaked out of my eye. I saw Arno step around me as he approached the tents. My eye caught the watch on my wrist, the cracked one that Joel had given me so long ago. I had failed as Alpha. No I had done more than fail. I had lead it to its complete and utter destruction. I deserved to die here, with nothing more than a cracked watch. I stared at the watch, noticing a new crack forming straight across the glass.
As soon as the crack appeared, the dead campfire burst into a roaring purple blaze.
Arno leapt back in surprise as the violet flames crackled and began spinning into a tornado of angry fire. He landed on the other side of the camp, accidentally dropping the stake he had used on Benjy. I stared as it rolled away, wrenching my eyes away as I saw a foot emerge from the flames.
“What magic is this?” Arno roared as the flames kept him from getting any nearer. Wherever he tried to step, flames would lash out, keeping him rooted to his location.
I got up on shaky legs, feeling the warmth of the fire wash over me. I smelled hints of mint and rosemary and I smiled because I knew who would emerge from that flame. Just like clockwork, Joel stepped out as I collapsed again, the temporary bout of strength leaving me.
Without a word to me, Joel knelt in front of Calliope, and murmured a quick healing spell. That terrible gaping hole in her side closed, and shiny new skin peeked out through the hole in her shirt. He stood up again and looked at me. His eyes took in the black veins spreading through my chest, and he turned to face Arno.
“Who the fuck are you,” Arno hissed, his proper tone discarded.
Joel pulled out a sword hilt, his eyes turning into steel chips of grey.
“I am the human who is going to turn you into dust.”