I looked out from the battlements of the old fort. Part of it had crumbled but some of it was still habitable. Being right in the middle of the forest made it the perfect camp. For now at least.
I ran my fingers through my black hair, it was getting long again, I should have really cut it before today, still it was too late now. I didn’t really mind. What I looked like wasn’t important. Who I was, that was important.
I felt movement behind me, I didn’t need to look around to know who it was.
“Are you nervous?” He asked. There was no concern in his voice.
“No Father,” I replied. The beat of my heart against my ribcage, belying the fact that I was.
I felt my fathers hand rest gently on my shoulder. Sweeping my hair out the way.
“Don’t lie Erin!” he scolded.
I turned around, the faintest hint of a smile on my face. I looked up at the man standing behind me. His weathered face, a few battle scars hidden by the black beard, now peppered with flecks of grey. His hair the same, pulled back from his face in a pony tail.
“Maybe a little,” I admitted.
He smiled, “It’s good to be a little bit scared, it gets the adrenaline pumping, gives you the edge.”
My smile faded, “they can smell it though, can’t they? Fear?”
He nodded, “but everyone is slightly afraid of them,” he hesitated, “the only difference is, we’re not afraid to fight back!”
I balled my fists, resolute in my determination.
“I just want to make you proud, father.”
He smiled at me, and placed his large hands on my shoulders. He stared into my blue eyes, the colour mirrored his own.
“You make me proud everyday Erin Blackthorne.”
He kissed me gently on the forehead, then walked back towards the centre of camp, leaving me to my thoughts.
I turned and looked out into the forest, a small smile on my lips.
I was proud to be Simon Blackthorne’s daughter. Not that I was his only child. He took an interest in all his children, of which there were many. Some said I was his favourite, I didn’t believe that though. It was the way things worked, out here on the fringe. A thriving community of free people. Sacrifices had to be made of course, but everyone was prepared to do that. So that they could be free from the werewolves.
They had lived among us for so long now. They had integrated into society. Humans and werewolves were equal, that’s what they tried to brainwash everyone into believing.
I knew better. My father had taught me that. He was one of the original freemen. Now we were hunted. Called guerilla’s and terrorists just because we didn’t want to live under the rule of the werewolves. My father, along with three other men founded the free people. All the children came from the four founders. Not all by the same mother, but that was the sacrifice. Eventually the founders would hand down that responsibility to their sons. The community would continue. I would not be mated with any of my brothers though. I would mate with one of the sons of the other three founders. The community would continue and grow. I was already the second generation.
Today wasn’t that day though, today was the day I would do my first solo mission. I would go into enemy territory. It was just a supply run, but it was still risky. Avoiding the security patrols, human and werewolf. I had fake ID, but didn’t want to use it, unless I needed to. If the worse happened, I would quite happily kill. If I was captured, I knew it would mean death. Slow and painful whilst they tried to force me to tell them the location of the community, strength’s, weaknesses. To be safe, if I didn’t return at the allotted time, they would move, find a new camp. The elders were fully aware that some wouldn’t be able to withstand the pain inflicted by the werewolf masters. First priority was to keep the community safe. We were all aware that if you didn’t return, you were either dead or captured, which ultimately meant you would be killed.
I remembered my first werewolf kill. My father had been proud of me that day too. We’d laid an ambush. Why werewolves drove cars rather than ran, I could never understand. Probably to try and fit in. That’s not to say they didn’t run in wolf form sometimes. Mostly though when travelling from city to city they drove. By the time he saw the stinger, it was too late. Tyres ripped to shreds and his car not going anywhere. When he’d emerged from the car, he’d known it was an ambush. He’d shifted there and then, into a big black wolf, twice the size of a normal one.
Father had given me a crossbow for my fourteenth birthday. I had coated the bolt tips in Wolfsbane. It was illegal to grow or possess the plant, the penalty for that was death. Unless you lived on the fringe, then it was a must have. Silver was scarce. Silver and Wolfsbane, the only two things that could take a werewolf down.
I had fired my crossbow, the bolt had hit the wolf in the shoulder. My father was so proud of me at that moment. He hugged me, and my brothers stood there, patting me on the back.
We’d walked over to where the wolf was laying on the ground, he was groaning, hurt. I didn’t feel sorry for him, he was the enemy. They never took prisoners, why should we! When my father handed me the axe, I swung it hard, slicing through the beasts neck without hesitation. It took two attempts, and it was dead. My face was spattered in the beasts blood. First blood, my father had called it. He had stood behind me, gripping my shoulders, as the wolf shifted back into a man. His head separated from his body.
“Look at him, Erin. Always remember, they may look like us, but they’re monsters!”
I walked down the stone steps which lead from the battlements, and headed towards the main compound.
My father stood next to an old jeep, my brother, Devon, was standing next to him. I smiled at them both. They looked so alike. It was a Blackthorne trait, dark hair and blue eyes.
My father smiled, “do you have your knife?”
I smiled, and slid out the silver bladed knife that was hidden in my boot.
“Good, only use it if you need to, don’t take any unnecessary risks.” he urged.
“Yes, Father,” I whispered.
He smiled back. I glanced at Devon, he wasn’t smiling, he was frowning.
He handed me an id card, and a map.
“Don’t worry Devon, I’ll be fine,” I chirped, trying to put him at ease.
He pressed his hand to my face, “just come back safe, little sister.”
I nodded, smiling and climbed in the jeep.
“Jack will drop you at the rendezvous point, and return in twenty-four hours,” Devon stated, he frowned again, “Don’t be late Erin, you know what will happen if you don’t return!”
I nodded, “don’t worry Devon, I’ll be there.”
I glanced out of the rear of the jeep as we drove away, looking back at my father and brother.
I had no way of knowing that this was the last time I would see them.
Jack smiled, as he accelerated away from the camp.
“This is a rite of passage for you. Who would have thought, little Erin all grown up! You know what comes next don’t you!”
He put his hand on my thigh, but I quickly swatted it away.
Jack was a Rougemont. A potential mate for me. All females had to bear at least one child. Jack with his red head and green eyes was the oldest son of one of the other founders. He was obnoxious and full of himself. Not really surprising, being Oscar Rougemont’s son. He was also a lot older than me, but he’d had his eye on me since my first blood ceremony.
“Lets focus on the job at hand shall we!” I hissed.
He smirked at me. Of all the people in the world I might have to fuck, he was bottom of my list!
Devon didn’t like him much either, and I trusted my older brothers judgement. When the time came, I wouldn’t have a lot of choice. It would either be him, Mason Oakwood or Ethan Sanderson.
The job at hand was to bring back as many supplies as I could, mostly food and medical supplies. If I found any ammo that was easy to carry, then I would bring that back as well.
It was more of a test than anything, but failure wasn’t an option. Only the strong could survive on the fringe.
The rendezvous was about a mile outside of Harper falls.
Harper Falls was also where I was going to get the supplies from. It was pretty rural, a small town surrounded by farms and of course, the forest. How I did it was up to me. Steal some credits and buy it. Shoplift, or break in and steal them after hours.
Jack had been right about one thing, it was a rite of passage. Everyone had to prove themselves, unless they wanted to be a glorified servant, cooking and cleaning.
That wasn’t for me, so at fourteen I made my first kill.. At sixteen, you had to do your first solo run. Which is exactly what I was doing.
Of course not everyone is up for that sort of life, being a foot soldier. But we’re all taught from a very early age that the shifters are the enemy, and freedom is the priority. The establishment is based on a lie. The lie being that humans and werewolves are equal. This isn’t true, the wolves run everything, choose what freedoms the humans have. What jobs they can do. By the time most of us reach the age of fourteen we want to kill our first werewolf! I know I did. I had my own reasons.
As I climbed out of the jeep, Jack tapped his watch.
“Twenty four hours! Don’t be late,” he warned.
I waved my hand and watched him drive away.
I took a deep breath, already I felt nervous. I ran my fingers through my hair, before I checked the map, and headed North. Keeping close to the woods, and off the main road, I could avoid patrols.
Even though the town was a small one, I knew that there would be patrols looking out for possible rebels. That was what we were. There were several rebel camps. My fathers was the main one in this area. Lately we had taken down several patrols, a mix of werewolf and Human. Patrols had been increased. Any chance for the establishment to take us down, they would.
I personally hated the idea of killing any humans though. It was the werewolves who were the real enemy. The people in the established settlements were just misguided and lied to. The guards in the patrols however, were fair game. Working hand in hand with the enemy. How could they be so blind, so stupid.
I emerged from the forest, the now town lay to the east. On the outskirts were farms. I had to head into the town to get the medical supplies, but I thought perhaps I might be able to pick up food and maybe even some money from the farm.
I pulled out a small pair of binoculars from inside my coat, and scanned the farm ahead . It was mostly crops, rather than livestock. There was a big farmhouse. If everyone was out tending the fields, then the house might be empty. It was definitely worth a shot.
As I scanned the fields I frowned.
Werewolves. I was slightly surprised to find werewolves working on a farm. I’d always imagined and been told, that sort of manual work, they would make the humans do. I shrugged, it was intel to pass back to my father. I could take whatever supplies I could from the house, if I got the opportunity to take any werewolves out, I would.
Creeping up to the farmhouse, I peered in the window. It didn’t look like anyone was inside, and they had stupidly left one of the back windows open. I slid the sash up, and climbed in. Quietly dropping to the floor. I found my way to the kitchen, rifling through the cupboards I found lots of food. Tinned items mainly, perfect. They were the best. They would keep for longer. I quickly chucked them in my rucksack.
After getting everything I wanted from the kitchen, I crouched down and looked through one of the windows. There was no sign of anyone coming back to the house, so I headed upstairs, being careful not to make too much noise, in case anyone was sleeping. I peered in the rooms, all of them were empty, so I headed to the bathroom, and checked the medicine cabinet.
There wasn’t much, just a few painkillers and bandages. Not really surprising. I knew from my lessons that werewolves had a fast rate of healing. I took what I could find, then searched the bedrooms. I found some loose money in the biggest room, and a wallet. I took it all. If I hurried I could use the credit card to buy the medical supplies, before anyone realised it was missing. That way I wouldn’t have to break in anywhere and it would be job done.
I realised my luck had changed when I crept back down the stairs. I heard voices, assuming them to be the werewolves that were working on the farm. I couldn’t tell whether they were inside or out. I hoped out, so that I could make it to the window, and get away.
I could hide in the house, until they disappeared, but as soon as they came into the kitchen, they would realise they had been robbed. I wasn’t prepared to hang about and wait for a patrol to be called. I decided to risk it, and head for the window. I nearly made it too. As I climbed through the window, I heard someone yell
“Hey! What the hell...”
I glanced around to see a werewolf glaring at me. He was in human form, but it was easy to see he was one. His height his build. The way his eyes flashed black, just for a split second.
I didn’t hang around and jumped out the window. Bang went my chance of using the credit card. First priority now was to get out of here.
I headed towards the forest. I still had plenty of time. I just had to lie low for a bit, until nightfall would probably be best. I just had to hope he didn’t shift, and run after me.
He didn’t shift. He didn’t need to. As I ran away from the house I heard what sounded like a pop. I let out a scream as I fell to the ground. It was agony. Whatever he had done. I lay on the ground, completely incapacitated, and in pain.
I felt my rucksack being pulled of my back. Then I heard him growl, before he finally spoke.
“Move an inch, and I’ll break your neck,” he hissed.
I couldn’t move currently, but as soon as I was able I would. If I couldn’t get back to the rendezvous point, then I might as well be dead, I wasn’t gonna ruled by some fucking werewolf.