The Rise

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Chapter Sixty-One

“Something isn’t right,” I said to Valerio. I grabbed my bag and sent a link to everyone, telling them to report right back to the pack house immediately. I could feel, deep within my soul, that pups were being drained right now.

If I was right, the restaurant was a set-up. But how? If nobody was at the school and nothing was going on in the town, where was the real happenings taking place? Where was she? I needed to know now.

Valerio followed after me, asking what was wrong. I didn’t answer him with a direct answer because I didn’t know what was wrong. “Mind link every alpha and ask them to take note of every pup that has been missing as of today.” I took a deep breath. There had to be some. There had to be something that we could use to identify what was happening and hopefully where it was happening.

We left the restaurant despite it being completely trashed and it partly being our fault. I promised to have someone come back tomorrow to help clean up, but we had to leave now.

When we returned to the pack house, Protectors continued to come back to my office, informing me that no pups as of today had been taken. “What about in the past week?” I asked, asking the alphas through the mind link.

Now, the Protectors came back to me with numbers. One here. Two there. Nothing out of the ordinary. There had to be something, anything that would explain this weakening I felt inside of me.

“The past month?” I asked.

This time the numbers were extremely high. Packs all around the world, not just in the shape of the Orion constellation were taken.

However, none had been found. Not a single one. And there had been no sightings of drainings - yet. My heart leapt in my chest. Was she collecting pups all this time while I was dealing with other things like Brett’s dad, Aeron, Aaisha’s pregnancy?

What about the backpack though? Why did Luca bring me the backpack? Was it to throw me off? Did she realize what Luca had been doing and forced him to bring me these two items? One so I would be thrown off, the other to distract me?

I slammed my hands down on the table, yelling something that I didn’t even recognize. It sounded like latin or greek or an ancient language that was coming out of my mouth.

The Ancestors were angry and so was I.

If she was silently collecting the pups while placing distractions in front of me, who knew what she was doing right now with them. My heart raced in my chest as Valerio came in the room, eyes wide, jaw set in a tight line.

“What is the count up to?” I asked, not sure if I really wanted the answer. I knew it was high, but I needed to know. I also needed to know exactly why nobody informed me of this. Maybe it was because some packs, farther away from the Orion constellation didn’t think much of it. Maybe they had been out of the loop, or maybe they were just working with the Challengers.

I had tried to keep everyone informed but if they weren’t then this was my fault. But I thought it was also common sense that pup-knappings were bad, bad things - things that shouldn’t be overlooked with such haste.

A group of Protectors followed Valerio in, telling him to add one more pup here, five more from another pack, three there. It was insane.

Valerio had an unreadable expression on his face, but I could feel his emotions on the inside. He was part rage, part hatred, part sadness.

“What is the final count?” I asked, finally prepared for the answer.

“1290.”

“What?” I asked again. Did he say over 1000 pups had been taken? 1000 lives were about to be stripped from their packs forever.

“1290.”

More incomprehensible words came out of my mouth and I nearly flipped my desk. 1290 pups. 1290 pups. How could this be? How could she have this many? How come nobody thought this was a problem, especially since packs help each other out? One pack tells another and another and another and they all should’ve realized that they needed to come to me with this information.

I shook my head. Some of them were probably even in on this.

My fingers tingled and I could feel the snakes within them thrash inside of me. They wanted to be released. My gaze blackened for a moment, before Valerio pressed a hand against my shoulder.

She must’ve thought that this was the best and quickest way to weaken me. Take a whole group of pups at once. Sure, she had tried it before and it had worked, but this time I was stronger because I had acquired Aeron’s powers. She needed a larger group to hurt me more than before.

After a little fit, I took a deep breath. I couldn’t let the darkness get to me right now. I’d have to hold it in until I met her, then I would release the darkness and let her go through hell.

“We need to find them,” I said, forming a plan in my mind. “Where are the majority of them located?”

Valerio pulled out a map and we began labeling the numbers of pups and where they had been kidnapped from. I stood back from our map. Like the previous maps, it didn’t make sense. They were spread out quite well - well enough to not drop any suspicion among the packs.

Suddenly, someone burst in my room. “Luna! Luna! You need to see this now!”

I ran after the Protector. As we sprinted outside the doctors were running in the direction of the woods. My heart sunk. Had she brought them here for me to see?

White leapt from my palm and sprinted ahead to help. We ran until we met at the Great Oak.

Oh, my god. My hands trembled. This was too much. This was…

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