A/N: You might see a character you encountered in Aries. (If you are a new reader, don’t worry. You will understand it.)
It was late noon when I woke up from the much-needed nap of mine. The sunrays tried its best to peek into the room Alpha Sam gave me, but the dark curtains the windows had denied them strongly. I yawned loudly and sat up on the bed and blinked.
This room was fairly clean and tidy. While it was not a big room, it had enough space for me to move about and get my things done. Yawning again, I pulled on a shirt and took my phone from the charger. Three new messages blinked at me.
Unlocking my phone with my fingerprint, I saw one message from Zeke, one from Antlia, to whom I had given my number during her stay with Peggy and one from a pizza restaurant where I had given my number. Ignoring the last one, I saw Antlia’s message stating that lunch would be there for me in the community kitchen. And that Peggy and Neil had left her, after they met my mother who was with her.
I took the other phone to check. Surprisingly, Taurus had given me a call. How had I missed this? Was I sleeping that heavily?
Rubbing my eyes, I called the Warrior back. My heart flipped when he picked the call in the second ring.
“Hitman,” he greeted. “I see you called back.”
I scratched my head. “I was sleeping. That’s why I was unable to attend your call.”
“Niran told me,” Taurus said. “After I was unable to reach out to you, I... had to make sure that you were well.”
That care in his voice paralysed my larynx. While he would never admit it out loud, I knew. Taurus was worried enough that he had called Niran.
“Worried?” I asked.
“Why wouldn’t I be?” he said. His facade was crumbling and both of us knew it. “I was the one who asked you to kill Somsak. If anything happens to you-”
“You think something will happen to me?” I asked.
“The world is of endless possibilities,” he commented. “Anything can happen anytime.”
“Aren’t you philosophical now?” I asked.
He chuckled. “I asked you to kill Somsak. If anything was to happen to you, I would be at fault.”
I shrugged and searched for my shoes. “You would not be. This is my job. This is what I do to survive. I can’t hold it against you.”
“I still would. After all, it is not going to change who sent you.” There was a sigh. “Are you in Alpha Eric’s territory?”
I hummed when I found my shoes and a pair of normal slippers. Seeing the weather was quite warm, I decided to go with the slippers. I left my room, taking the master card with me.
“Yes,” I said. “How did you find out?”
“Niran was hinting something,” Taurus said. “Something about being in a place where an Alpha and an Omicron shared a land.”
I blinked when I heard that. I was sure that Taurus had seen many things. “This has never happened before?”
“Never,” he replied, as I exited out of the building. “I have even seen two Alpha share a common piece of land, but never an alpha and an Omicron. This is indeed unusual.”
I brought my phone down and asked a vampire who was watering the flowers. “Where is the community kitchen?”
She blinked at me furiously before she cleared her throat and answered me with a blush. “Head straight-” she pointed a path, “-and take the second left. You can find the community house and in that, the first floor is the kitchen. You can find that just by the smell.”
Thanking her, I placed the phone back on my ears and walked in that direction. “But... what of the Alpha of Spring Pack and Zayin of Spring Tribe? They share a land, no?”
“No, hitman,” he answered patiently. “Alpha Lorenzo and Zayin Carolina do not share the territory. They rule their respective territories on common ground. As much as the two are mates, they are leaders over their own land and giving it up won’t settle well.”
As told by that vampire, there was indeed a huge house from where the smell of food wafted. Inhaling deeply, I increased my pace and entered the house.
“I thought that them being mates would make them share the land,” I commented.
“While mate bond may rule over the emotions,” he said. “There is self, which must be acknowledged. You can have a lover, parents, siblings, friends, children all sorts of bonds, but there is one bond you must never forget and that is the bond you have with yourself. Leaders must know and acknowledge this bond and take decisions that will not affect the people under them. Had they united the pack and the tribe, there would be a lot of internal crisis. Who would be the second in command? Who will win the majority?”
A few wolves and vampires who were down, playing a game of cards looked up and then focused back on their game. Ignoring them, I made my way up all the while Taurus talking.
When I reached the first floor, my mother was sitting next to a female werewolf. Antlia was pouting at a male I had never met. With a plate of noodle before them, Riley and Nox were talking in hushed voices.
When I came, Antlia squealed and ran to me. I took a few steps back, but she came anyway and plucked the phone from my hand.
“Taurus?” she shouted. “I know it’s you. Get your ass here.”
I blinked at her choice of words. Honestly, had she not been a Royal, I would be worried for her life. But knowing her, the Twelve Warriors would probably lay their lives down for her.
“Antlia,” he said. “You are-”
“Not another word!” she said with authority. “Come here. You cannot leave me.”
“I did not,” he protested. Why was it that he was acting like a kid now and I found that cute? “Aries is coming to meet you.”
“I don’t want to meet that lump head,” she said grumpily. “There was a massive war at West Pack! He did not have the basic courtesy to call me.”
There was a snort on the other side. “The second you see him, you will forgive him and hug him. Please be realistic.”
Antlia pouted and gave the phone to me. “Tell him to come. Else, I will leave.”
I sighed. Why should I be the peacemaker between the two?
I placed the phone on my ear. “Are you coming?”
“Do you want me to?” Taurus asked.
“You heard Antlia, right?” I asked. “She wants you here.”
There was a sigh. “I will be there tonight.”
Apparently, Ant heard this and she screamed in excitement. “Yes!”
“Just to stop your whining!” Taurus shouted from the other side.
But the princess had selective deafness and did not hear that one. How convenient.
I chuckled. As much as he claimed he was going to come here just to stop her whining, I knew he was coming here to see her because he loved her. This was the male who in spite of knowing that he was denying her happiness, knowing that he might appear as the villain, left her in my care. He just wanted her safe and alive.
Taurus cut the call and I found myself a seat next to my mother.
“Draco?” the female was next to my mother asked. “Your son, Kessa?”
My mother had a smile and I would do anything to see just that for the rest of my life.
“He is,” she said. Then she turned to me. “This is Maria Ruiz.”
The last name was oddly familiar. I smiled, “Pleasure to meet you.”
My mother was glowing. “Her daughter was Alpha Aspen Ruiz! She is currently the Delta female of West Pack. Aspen Ruiz! That female is legendary.”
Maria Ruiz was the mother of Aspen Ruiz? I heard that story and I never expected to meet her mother.
“You’re so famous,” the male said.
The ex-alpha chided. “Not as famous as your mother, Ryan.”
When I looked at him, he gave me a lopsided smile. “I am Ryan Cargill, mate of Carson. The Zeta pair of the coven under Omicron Riley Garcia. My family was once a part of North Coven, but due to work we left.”
I nodded. “I am Draco Stykes.”
“Heard about you,” he commented as he set a plate of noodles before me.
I gave him a look of gratitude. He just waved his hand and sat next to Niran.
“Where is Zeke and Zyon?” I asked, taking a bite. “They said they were here.”
“One’s sleeping,” Antlia said. “Zeke is out, annoying poor Erica.”
Two people entered the room. The female had a resemblance to Maria, the other did not have any similarity with anyone in the room.
“I am Theta Silver,” he said to me. Then he turned to his Omicron. “I am here.”
“Did you talk with your mate?” Riley asked him.
Silver nodded. “We did talk.”
“Mina?” Riley asked.
Maria gulped but she said nothing.
Mina blinked. “A stressful month.”
“Understatement of the century,” Ryan stated. “What you have gone through, Mina, I am pretty sure that many would have committed suicide.”
What had she gone through? If anything, the marks on their necks said that these two were mates. As much as mating between races were rare, one could see it now and then.
It was that time, Antlia gasped. “Mina!”
The female looked at the princess with faint recognition. “Ant?”
“By the Moon!” Ant swore softly. “You are...”
What was happening here? How did Antlia know her? Was I missing something? Looking at Niran’s confused face, I knew I was not the only one.
Mina bowed her head. “I never knew that you were a Royal when I first met you, princess. Forgive me.”
Antlia went ahead and hugged her. “No need for formalities, Mina.”
“How do you-” Niran began.
“You both are chosen mates,” Nox said, cutting Niran.
Then the star glanced at his brother. “Had it been in the past, they would have the bond of true mates between them, but now, I don’t think so. Both have a mate out there and this will complicate stuff. This is what you refused to tell me.”
“You don’t even know the story, Nox,” Riley snarled. “Stay out of this.”
“Tell me,” Nox challenged, his eyes flashing. “Try me then.”
After Riley finished the story, I had no words. Apparently, Mina had a mate who was named Nash. He was killed in a fight and Mina had Marked him to keep him alive. But that bond had not been enough and he passed away. To save Mina from her damnation, Silver had marked her.
I pointed my finger to the silent princess. “This Nash-”
She nodded. “My friend. Whom I lost.”
Nox shook his head. “You should not have done that.”
“Lyra said the same thing,” Riley said. “She in fact... scolded Nadia for it.”
“Nadia passed too?” Nox asked.
There was a terrible silence before Ryan nodded. “She did.”
“Lyra was right,” Nox said. “We know about Mina. But what would happen if Silver meets zirs mate?”
Mina inhaled sharply. “I will leave.”
“Leaving would kill you, Mina,” Ryan said.
“My mate had died,” Mina said, her voice hoarse and tired. “It is fair that I die too.”
“What are you talking about?” Silver asked, zirs eyes sharp. “I will not leave you, Mina.”
“You have not met your mate, Silver!” she protested. “What if... what if you meet your mate and-”
“We will talk about that when it comes,” ze said with finality.
Antlia licked her lips. “We can only see what the future holds for us.”
I looked away when Maria looked at her daughter with pain and sympathy. As her mother, she would not want Mina to suffer from anything. But she was forced to see her daughter being subjected to the rules of the society. Her eldest daughter had to go through the pain of killing her own mate and the youngest having watched her mate die.
From what I have heard from Erica, Mina happened to be the best surgeon. Seeing that pale, ghastly face and thin fingers, I could not believe that this female was capable of saving a life. Even her broken spirit announced the same thing what her body was trying to tell. Had it not been for the Mark, she would have been long dead.
“Why did you call them?” Niran asked.
Riley cleared his throat. “Silver will go in and save Aiko. Ze agreed to do it.”
“Why zir?” Antlia asked. “I don’t hold anything against you, Silver,” she said looking at the vampire. “I am concerned. Mina might-”
“I am not that delicate, princess,” Mina said and that was when I saw an ember coddling in the ashes.
That surgeon they all praised was after all still alive in her.
“Silver will do it,” Mina said with a soft finality. “Though Carson may be stronger than Silver, ze is the fastest vampire here. Ze can do it.”
Nox closed his eyes and sighed. “I have no words, Riley.”
“The don’t say anything, Nox,” the Omicron warned. “Just don’t.”
The clenched his jaws and strode out of the room, leaving an awkward silence in his wake.
“Will he be alright?” Maria asked.
Riley nodded. “Don’t worry, ma. He was brought up in the concept of Soul-Bounds. He respects that. He expects us to do the same with our mate bonds too.”
Ryan frowned. “Soul-Bounds? What the hell is that?”
“Stars and other races in the universe,” Riley said. “They have something called Soul-Bounds. While mate bonds can change, Soul-Binds cannot. To them, it is everything.”
“You,” Antlia began. “You are half a star. You don’t have Soul-Bounds?”
“Soul-Bound and mate,” Riley said. “It does not make a difference to me. Both are one and the same for me.”
The sun dipped behind the mountains and the sky immediately changed its mood for the night - deep blue with a hint of violet. After finishing my bowl of noodles, I had walked out with Antlia and Ryan following me. My mom and Maria were deeply invested in a conversation and I left them to that. Riley and Niran were talking about something related to business and all of us left them to that. Silver and Mina left the second Riley gave them the nod. Silver was leaving for the Summer coven to rescue Aiko.
“Where are you heading to?” Ryan asked me.
“To find my laptop and find a spot where the internet connection is good,” I said. “Silver is going to Summer Coven. I have to work on the defences.”
Ryan nodded. “All the best. And, there is a cafe in the next street. A werewolf named Tara owns it. She has the best coffee as well as the best internet connection. Not many know this, so try to keep it to yourself.”
I grinned at him. “Sounds good. What about you?”
He shrugged. “I have to go home and do our laundry. It’s my week to do the laundry. My mate hates seeing the piling laundry. Before he comes home, I have to clean it.”
Antlia laughed at him and then she said, “I will be at the grounds. I saw some were playing volleyball.”
And just like that, we split and I went towards my room. Had it been Summer Coven, I knew where to find my laptop, but here, I searched it everywhere, just to find it mocking at me by lying on top of the table.
I groaned. What a traitorous laptop.
Taking whatever I might need, I left the complex and headed to the cafe Ryan said. And just as the Zeta said, a werewolf welcomed me.
“I am Tara,” she said. “Ryan said you will be coming here.”
I smiled at her. “He said the internet connection here was good.”
She laughed. “That it is. Dunno why. Just take a seat.”
Picking the corner seat at the back, I said, “A coffee please.”
She nodded and left to bring me my coffee.
I turned my laptop on and began to work on the codes that would make Silver get in easily. It was that time, Alpha Sam came in with a smile.
“Draco!” he said. “Hello, Tara.”
“Hi, Alpha,” she greeted when she brought me my coffee. “Want anything?”
“Just came here for this male,” Sam said, sitting opposite to me.
She placed the coffee next to my laptop and playfully glared at the Alpha. “Not for my croissants, anymore?”
Alpha Sam laughed at that. “I will always come for that.”
When she left us, Sam fished his phone out. “I will give Silver’s number to you. You might want to talk to zirs. Ze is already at the Summer Coven’s borders.”
“So soon?” I asked.
“Nox volunteered to take zirs.”
“Volunteered?” I asked. “Can’t Nox break in and do it himself?”
“Well,” Sam said. “Riley could be a bit persuasive. And... Nox said he already messed a lot in Summer Coven. As much as he could break in and get out, he says that there is a celestial work there and he would be caught.”
I shook my head. “Just give me the number, Alpha.”
After he gave me the number, he left. Groaning, I dialled it on my phone and connected my headphones to it. After a few rings, zirs voice came through. “Draco?”
“Silver,” I said in a low voice. Who knew who could listen? “Where are you?”
“Outside the patroling gates,” Silver whispered.
“Why there?” I frowned. That was one of the dangerous places ze could be right now.
Silver nearly growled. “Nox left me here and said he will be back after I saved Aiko.”
“Fine,” I said. “The camera when it is focusing on the right side, it will take a minimum of four seconds to cover the other end. That is the time you get to enter. Run as fast as you can and then cross the gates. The patrol will run in such a way that they cross the gates every five minutes. The patrol for a distance of 3 miles in diameter.”
“That’s...” ze breathed.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “That’s the hardest part. After you enter, from there either a female named Cintna will help you or a male named Sadka. Sadka happens to be the Epsilon there. If he comes, the journey would be even more smooth.”
“One of them will guide you to the prison,” I said. “By the time you reach there, I would have disabled the security. You can just go in.”
With another grunt, the call became static. Expect for occasional pants, I did not hear anything. Quickly, I made a call.
“Draco?” Apinya’s urgent voice reached me. “Have you lost your mind? Dave is searching for you-”
“A vampire named Silver is coming tonight,” I said ignoring her. “He is coming to take Aiko out.”
There was a silent beat. “Take Aiko out?”
“About time,” she muttered. “Will he be careful?”
“I told him how to reach inside. Will you send either Cintna or Sadka to take him to the prison?”
Apinya sighed. “Dave is suspecting Cintna for Wirat and Lawan leaving. He still trusts me for one reason and that I had been with Julius. I will send Sadka. Just leading to the prison, right?”
“Yes,” I said, knowing how protective she was over her mate. “I will take it from there.”
“Kamaria knows that Aiko has been suffering,” Apinya muttered. “I will send, Draco. Don’t you worry.”
With that, she cut the call. I forwarded her the picture of Silver to which she replied me with a thumbs-up emoji. I concentrated on the codes before me, quite ignoring the coffee. It was not until that tantalising scent that teased me became stronger did I look up.
He was there, sitting opposite to me, looking at me intently with those silver eyes. When did he come here? Had I been too much into the decoding that I did not hear him? When I scented his scent earlier, I thought that I had been hallucinating a scent that I missed. Only when it became stronger, did I look up.
I cleared my throat. “How... how long have you been here?”
The corners of his lips lifted. “I just came half a minute ago.”
I gave him a sheepish smile. “Sorry. I could not-”
“No worries,” he said. “I wanted to surprise Ant. Thought I would see you before I met her.”
I laughed. “Me?”
He shrugged. “Why not?”
I shook my head. “Finished with your work?”
He just stared at me before he closed his eyes and sighed. “Yes. In fact, I left a few things with Fia. She knows what to do.”
I hummed. “You can order whatever you want.”
He froze again.
“I am sorry,” I blinked. “I sort of forgot that you are a st-”
“Does not mean that I won’t eat,” he said, flashing his pearly white teeth. “I am quite adapted to human customs.”
“Oh!” Was the brilliant answer I could manage out.
He touched my coffee and shook his head. “It has gotten cold. I will order something for you?”
His last sentence was not like he was telling me something. He was asking me and there was a slight tremble in his voice like he was nervous about something. What could this one be afraid of?
“Sure,” I smiled. “I... I will have to-”
“Continue,” he said. “I will wait here.”
I stared at him for a minute before I stared at my screen again. The codes I knew so well blinked before me in green but I could not concentrate on that. How could I, when he was looking at me like that?
Had Silver going to release Aiko not taken priority, I would probably be blushing. I could not just sit there and continue my work as if everything was normal.
He got up and went to the counter and whispered something to Tara there. I dared not to rise my head. I forced my fingers over the keyboard and worked my muscle memory. Thankfully, my fingers did not fail me when my mind did. He sat down in the chair opposite to me again and he browsed through his phone.
This went on for another ten minutes after which Tara placed some snacks before us with two glasses of coke before us. She smiled at us before she left with that cold coffee.
Silver spoke through our connection again. “I met Sadka.”
“Good,” I said.
“He led me to the prison and he left,” Silver said.
“Yes,” I said. “Wait a moment.”
I switched on the camera that showed me the prisons of Summer Coven. I saw where that vampire stood.
“I can see you,” I said.
The owner of the scent suddenly pressed against me as he peered into the screen. “You actually got in.”
The wonder in his voice was something I could not ignore. Heat crept up my neck and I just prayed that it would not show on my face.
“It’s... it was easy,” I whispered.
“What?” Silver asked.
That heat that had been creeping like a sleuthing villain, blew itself across my face when Taurus began to chuckle next to me. What did he find funny?
“Nothing.” I cleared my throat. “Go three levels down.”
I checked the other cameras and followed as ze went by my instructions. In the other camera I just opened, I saw her. Aiko was lying unconscious in her cell. I could just see her like a heap of bones covered by skin.
My heart was beating erratic. Was it because of him sitting close to me or was it because Silver was closing on Aiko?
Just when Silver entered the floor, Aiko opened her eyes.
“Gave them diversion?” Taurus murmured next to me.
“I froze their main cameras when I logged in,” I replied.
He hummed but then he gently pushed the coke towards me. He kept staring at me until I took a sip of the liquid. That was all it took. Just a bit they said, right? For you to fall.
Just one sip, I was drowning the coke. Chuckling richly, he had to pull the glass from me. “You have work, Draco. Just remember to take care.”
I nodded and then stuffed myself with some muffins he had ordered.
Silver walked through the prisons before ze froze just outside Aiko’s cell. What was happening? Why was ze not rushing in? Was ze waiting for the door to unlock?
Before Silver could do anything, I typed the required code and the door unlocked. Silver still did not take a step forward.
It was Aiko who pulled her mangled body towards zirs. She had a sweet smile over her face when she quite fell on Silver’s frozen form. I could just see not hear. But I was sure that I read what Aiko had said before falling.
She mouthed, “Mate.”
A/N: Did anyone guess this to happen?
What do you think Silver, Aiko and Mina would do?
And... who guessed what Taurus is doing there?
Until next update,