THERON

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Part Four - Love, War & All That's Unfair

“Pretty sure my hands are supposed to be restrained behind my back,” I mumble, carelessly.

Two guards are all Superlunar is going to offer me?

I’m slightly insulted.

“Shut your fucking trap, freak, or I’ll do it for you,” the chubby guard sneers. His blue eyes narrow, an unspoken threat he’s convinced will scare me straight.

Obviously, he does not know me.

I respond with a slight shrug, “Your funeral.” While normally I would rip him apart for such disrespect, currently I have no interest in causing any trouble. I am here because of Lina, plain and simple. As long as they held up their end of the deal then I’ll be an obedient dog... within reason, of course. What I’m not here for, however, is to stroke one’s ego. If he had been paying attention in training class, I wouldn’t have had to correct him. Regardless of the degree of threat, you always cuff the hands behind the back.

Guess he’s a “learn the hard way” type of guy.

Technically, he should be thanking me. If not for me, he would still be unemployed and the guard he replaced would be walking, talking, and sporting an intact throat.

I am too under-fucking-appreciated.

I eye the building warily while the second guard comes up beside me. He’s younger, taller, and more trim. He smells of caution as if he knows not to take my presence as lightly as his co-worker.

Smart.

Flanked on both sides, they lead me closer to the hell hole I never intended to see again. The massive door raises slowly as if I am a car entering a garage. Cement floors, walls, and a ceiling incase us, instantly transporting me back to a time where that very cement had been painted in thick crimson of previous employees. I still recall the exact placement of every splatter of blood... the alarm that played like a broken record directing everyone to leave in an orderly fashion. The only thing that quirks my lip is the burning stench of fucking bleach. Fifteen years and it still hangs in the air as if it had just been hosed down yesterday.

The vehicle-sized tunnel we’re traveling slopes downwards, descending into the mountain that houses the deepest, darkest parts of Superlunar’s laboratory—the parts I wish I did not have to return to.

The tunnel will come to a dead-end, about a mile down, with one single steel door adorning the cement wall... the same door I had previously busted through for escape.

Of course, it was not made of the same material then.

I raise my brows at the card reader placed to the right of the metal handle and whistle, impressed, “Ooh, I like the new renovation... not very Feng shui, but to each their own, I guess.” I doubt it will do much if I really want out, but, eh, whatever helped them fucking sleep at night.

“Quiet,” the younger guard hushes me.

I tsk, disappointed my joke didn’t land. “Just trying to lighten the mood,” I grumble.

Under. Fucking. Appreciated.

Through the door, cement disappears into linoleum—bright, shiny, and once again, blood-free. Voices echo off the walls, the volume raising as we round the corner closer to two men standing by the wall, loitering. Pretty sure I saw a sign somewhere on the way that said that isn’t fucking allowed...

The first face I recognize is Nathaniel Goe, stupid pretty fuck. “Theron,” he spreads his arms wide, “welcome! And under the twenty-four-hour mark? Good boy.”

I would roll my eyes but they get interrupted as they just so happen to fall upon the one being I am surprisingly not shocked to see here, of all places. Instinct once told me not to trust him. I should have listened.

“Urinary,” I growl. The displeasure in my voice does not seem to phase him as he grins at me arrogantly. Without warning, he sends his fist flying into my gut. “It’s Uriah,” he defiantly states.

I wince at the pain. It isn’t enough to hurt me, but it’s unpleasant. “Fucking Traitor seems more fitting,” I groan.

“Yes, well, money talks, and Nathaniel was kind enough to pay a pretty penny for you—quite a lot of zeroes! How could the council snub their nose at that? You are no longer our concern.”

“Like you were ever concerned,” I snort. Up until I was turned into a lab rat, I stayed out of their hair. I didn’t attend the meetings, I didn’t try to run over their authority and I purposely stayed in the shadows because I didn’t care. Centuries of being the quiet and complacent Ancient apparently did not win me any favors. A lifetime of solitude did not make up for the last fifteen years of being a constant thorn in their side. What they fail to understand is if they had done their job properly, I wouldn’t have hounded them as I did. They are lazy and incompetent, only using their seats for popularity and greed. It’s blasphemous.

And yet, they are werewolves. They are lycans. They are the family of my family and while this particular betrayal does not wound (or surprise) me as much as it probably should, it’s the thought of my brothers that pull me back. Marius, Kai, and DeLoren all have kin that sits on this council... how would they feel?

“When Marius finds out—”

“Who do you think will be next once Superlunar is done with you?” He cuts me off. “The Originals are all on borrowed time, they just don’t know it yet.”

Here I am, like a fish out of water—mouth moving but no words to be found. For the life of me, I can not process the reason for this treachery. Do they hate us that much?

Uriah, on the other hand, is happily basking in my confusion, “The council agreed that your meddling has become tiresome. In doing so, we have also unanimously decided we are done being under the thumb of the Ancients. Times are changing, Theron, and the archaic rule of you and your brothers is over.”

“Do not act like you’re doing this for any other reason than the measly pay they give you!” I spit, finally finding my voice again, “If you cared about the wellbeing of lupines, you would have done more to protect them. Instead, you sat on that chair and judged them like the king you are not.” Why I suddenly care about my species survival is astonishing to me. Centuries of despising who and what I am have gone to the wayside, replaced by the face of one, single she-wolf who will forever have my heart and soul. Her life is the only thing that matters. A world without rules and regulations is a dangerous concept, especially for a rogue like Lina, and while I will admit that there needs to be changes, Uriah is not the one I want at the helm.

He smirks, “Not yet, but with the Ancients ′mysteriously disappearing,′ anarchy will soon descend. Being the highest-ranking member on the council, I’m a certain sho-in.” It’s at that moment that I’m glad the fat, old guard cuffed my hands in front of me. It would take less than nothing from my lycan nails to punch through Uriah’s chest and rip out his traitorous fucking heart.

My muscles spasm in anticipation.

But the clicking of heels on the linoleum floor steals my attention away from Uriah, effectively suspending my bloody fantasy.

My eyes bulge in elation at the man waltzing towards us—I can’t believe my luck! Thanks to Lina and Veritas, I am already very familiar with this newcomer.

“Mr. Malory,” Nate shakes the lanky man’s hand, “you and the boss agree on the girl?”

The Irish man is practically beaming, “Aye, ya lads have been a lifesaver. I’m headed there now.”

Lina.

I know he is referring to Lina; Lina who had taken his money, his guns, and his drugs. Lina who had royally pissed him off. Lina, who has to pay the piper...

I send an accusing glare to Nathaniel, “You said you wouldn’t hurt her.” The deal was me for the safety of everyone else.

“I said Superlunar wouldn’t hurt her,” Nate replies smugly. “However, Ian has been pretty inquisitive about the little blonde’s whereabouts, and since we had that particular information...” He shrugs, “well, it’s sort of a Scratch My Back situation.”

I now know exactly who will feel the wrath of these hands.

Shoot first, ask questions later.

“Malory?” I raise my eyebrows in feigned interest, “As in Ian Malory? The Ian Malory?!”

“The one and only,” his face lights up in true pleasure, excited his name is renowned.

“Shit, man, I can’t believe the coincidence! I have a message I’ve been meaning to give you!”

“Oh, yeah?”

“For sure,” I lean in, closer, “I see that you and I share a common interest—a girl named Catalina Bakkas.”

“Small world,” he purses his lips, “she screw ya too?”

It is almost impossible not to laugh at the irony in that question. “You could say that,” I smile, the memory of Lina’s tight core milking my cock, her moans of pleasure music to my ears. But—

Now is not the time for such thoughts.

“Any information ya got is welcomed,” He steps forward, eagerly, tilting his ear towards me as if I am about to share a secret.

This is almost too easy...

“With pleasure,” my beast snarls in his ear. Lycan claws swiftly shoot from my fingertips, a stupefied Ian not understanding what’s happening. My hands bust through the flimsy Irish skin, shattering the diaphragm that protects my ultimate bounty. The smell of blood instantly fills my nose, turning my eyes black. I grip the hearty muscle, ripping it from the arteries that connected it to the body in one flawless swoop. The tendons give way in a sickeningly wet crunch. Blood gushes and spurts from the twitching heart, covering my hand in scarlet liquid.

Ian stares, wide-eyed—his brain too slow to process that he’s looking at his very own heart, presently outside of his body. His eyes glaze over before he collapses to his knees and then flat on his face, hitting the floor with a loud thud. I toss his heart on the linoleum beside him, thoughtlessly.

I look to Uriah, who is frozen in shock, his eyes quickly fluttering away from Ian’s body to me. “You’re next,” I promise with a wicked smirk.

Nathaniel pinches the bridge of his nose, “Behind the back, you idiots! You always restraint the hands behind the back!”

I glance at the chubby guard, who was currently white as a sheet. He gulps, pure terror painted upon his aging features. “Told you,” I remind him.

***

I test the chains around my ankles, pursing my lips in defeat. I don’t bother even trying with the cuffs around my wrists.

I am stuck in this uncomfortable dentistry chair awaiting the “boss” and whatever the hell she wants from me. Given, I have pissed off a few people in my time, most are dead or near death so I cannot, for the life of me, think of anyone who would be so invested in me they would dish out an outrageous amount of dough to have me.

No one cares enough.

I sigh, impatient and ready to get this over with... whatever this was. I scan the room out of boredom and nothing more.

This particular space is not one I had ever been in before. It’s darker than the others... smaller. The lighting is duller and more depressing if that’s even possible. There’s not a testing bed, thankfully, and no tray full of horrible instruments to taunt my imagination.

Just a fucking chair.

And me, restricted to it and left only to my thoughts as a means of torture.

While Lina is safe (for now) my brothers are not and I have no way to inform them. I’m too far out of range to mindlink and I am fairly certain I’m not going to be granted my one phone call.

Technically, this is not jail and does not follow the rules of law.

I doubt DeLoren will be surprised the council sold us out as he was always just as suspicious of them as me. Kai might be a little ticked off but it takes quite a bit to dampen that kid’s spirit.

It’s Marius I am most concerned for.

His fucking life is that council as it had been his idealistic creation in the first place. None of us wanted the job of ruling over anyone so he came up with the grand idea of a small governing body. To give him credit, it had worked to our benefit for a long time. Unfortunately, as Uriah had stated, times are changing, and while we never imagined there could be anything out there tempting enough to break the unspoken rule of canine loyalty we also hadn’t envisioned how corruption and greed could play a part. The council did run day-to-day operations but my brothers and I have the final say and they are to follow our expectations—not the other way around.

And here is where my guilt lay: had I been more active—gone to the meetings and did the boring shit I was supposed to, I could have foreseen this. However, since I have no interest in politics, I’m really at a loss as to why the council thinks they need to get rid of us. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume it is mainly Uriah polluting the other eleven seats.

One bad apple, and all...

Thinking back now, I have to wonder how long Uriah has been in bed with Superlunar. When we first approached him about abducted wolves and mad science experiments he had not seemed as surprised as he should. He blamed the Alphas, claiming that if they had been running their packs the way they should their members would not have had the desire to leave. He tried to convince Marius that the missing had chosen the rogue life over pack rule.

But I knew better.

So when I told that fucking prick what I had seen with my own eyes, he had no choice but to convene with the council. Even then, he disregarded the kidnappings, blaming the Alphas for not protecting their packs. More concerned with punishing “incompetent” leaders than the hows and whys of what was actually going on. After that, the council suddenly decided they would no longer involve themselves in the investigation.

DeLoren and I spent our time hunting down informants but once we realized they knew about as much as we did when it came to Superlunar and their experiments, murdering them just seemed more efficient.

It wasn’t until Lina’s run-in with Alex that things started to gain momentum.

Lina.

My chest tightens at the thought of her name.

Goddess, I miss her something fierce. It’s a dull, aching pain deep within my soul. A yearning that pulls my heartstrings taut and threatens to be my one and only cause of death. She has become the air in my lungs, the oxygen that flows through my veins to keep my life essence pumping—she is everything.

My reason for being.

I have come to terms with this sacrifice, knowing good and well that I will never see her again. I expect not to make it out of this facility in anything less than a body bag and that’s okay. I lived my life if only sadly discovering the best part of it at the very end but I am fine with that. Truthfully, I do not even deserve that much, though that doesn’t mean I did not crave more time.

Fate is a fucking cunt.

What confuses me and haunts my thoughts is the vampire queen and her words, only revealed to me by Veritas. If she is correct, which she always is, Lina and I are destined. It seems unfair that Destiny gifted us such a short amount of time.

I am not dumb.

I can connect the dots and I now recognize who the feral female is.

I know I am sitting in the lair of the Crone—the missing piece to our puzzle.

Currently, I’m just waiting for the why of it all.

Why me?

Why this?

Why now?

Just... why?

Seconds seem like minutes and minutes feel like hours while I waste my time with only mental visions of Lina to keep me warm—regret, to keep me grounded.

The keycard pad chimes with a small beep.

The door handle clicks, turned from the opposite side by whoever was to lay judgment upon my fate.

Jet black hair and bright blue eyes take one step out from the shadows and my world falls from beneath me.

The face that tormented my soul and haunted my dreams now leaves me more bewildered than the last time we saw one another.

I haven’t the mental capacity to fully grasp the gravity of the reality before me.

I have no feeling but confusion.

I have no words but one...

"Cera?”
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