"He who fears he will suffer, already suffers because he fears."
-Michel De Montaigne
They weren't following us, no hunters emitted from behind us, the covered bunker complex so still it made me tense. I don't know what I expected, for bombs to follow our retreat or for machine guns to fire down on us, raining bullets to make us halt.
But there was nothing. After all the effort they put into keeping me there, getting me there. All Arthurs plans to use me as a weapon whether that meant hurting me, using me as a bargaining chip or turning me into one of those things, I'll don't know. And hopefully never will.
The roller door we exited from was becoming small from where I stared at it, my eyes unmoving in their locked position on it, anxiously waiting for anything to pop out and hunt us down. But it slowly became smaller, shrinking into a speck in the distance.
I could feel the wolf carrying me growing tired, see the others behind us getting more and more weary each time their paws connected with the sand beneath us. I didn't expect them to last long, but we were hardly far from the bunker. Their torture was catching up to them before any hunter could.
Then all at once they began to slow completely, moving into a walk before stopping all together, some just halting whilst others collapsed to the ground in complete defeat. "We need to keep moving, come on," I say but the wolf I sit upon lays down on the ground, resting his head as his eyes begin to close.
I jump off and tears begin to well in my eyes. "What's going on?" Amara asks me, fear coating each of her words. "Did they do something to them? Oh god..." she says, gripping her hair and I want to join her in expressing my worry but I don't, turning to stroke the fur of the wolf beside me instead.
"Come on," I coax, my words nearly a sob and it looks to me then, eyes full of nothing but relief as it whimpers.
"I can't go back, Luna, I can't," Amara says to me and I turn to her as she shakes her head.
"We won't, we've made it this far we won't. Just keep it together," I say but I can tell she is on the verge of hysterics.
It doesn't help that a loud thunderous rumble emerges from the distance. Followed by a multitude of aircrafts that approach us from the distance. Fear completely cripples my face and I look at her, finding the same expression mirrored.
They've come for us, this game of cat and mouse was never going to be won by us. I should've known Arthur wouldn't concede so easily.
"I can't, I can't," she starts and I look behind us, at the bunker and then to the planes. All of the wolves have stopped, barely surviving on the little energy they have left.
"I know, look at me Amara look." I force her tear stained face to focus on mine as the planes decent to land, directly where we stand. "It's going to be alright. Just stand behind me okay and let me talk, I know them well, if I can speak to my friend he won't hurt me." A complete lie, considering I just told Oliver I want a divorce before running from him as his captive I'd say friend is a large term.
"They're going to kill us for this," she mummers and I hate that I can't give her solid reassurance that they won't.
"It'll be fine, just let me talk. They want me, okay? Not you, if I hand myself over willingly they might not act harshly. Just do whatever they tell you, no more fighting from here, not for a while," I instruct and my words get lost somewhere over the roar of the jet as it lands in the vast space before us.
I take her hand in mine and we turn to face it just as the entrance opens, I hold my free hand up to shield my eyes from the scattering sand as the engine slowly dims down and wait, stomach knotted together.
Before the landing pad can even reach the ground a figure begins to run off it, clad in the clothing of a warrior.
I bring my hand down immediately, squinting into the distance as sparks start to run down my skin, sending shivers travelling up my spine. A warriors uniform. The same uniform from the palace. My face falls immediately, tears streaming down my cheeks as Roman comes into view, running directly for me.
He reaches me within seconds, pulling my body into his embrace and the tingles that lingered on my skin erupt all once before quelling completely.
"Mae." His voice was strained and he held my body tight against his. "I thought you-"
I pull away, stopping him. "It doesn't matter, I'm here now. It's over," I say and he blinks away the tears that welled in his eyes. He scrunches his brows then, his eyes moving desperately over my body, scanning for any signs of hurt, stopping short at the bruises on my arms.
"What happened? Did they hurt you?" He asks, taking my arm gingerly, pulling me closer to him. It's like he needs to contact to breathe.
"No, nothing that is of great concern now. But these people need medical help first, they've been through hell Roman," I say, my voice breaking at the end as he surveys the wolves scattered around us, his eyes fading back to normal as they rest on me once more.
"Help is coming, they'll be alright. Everything is going to be alright, I've got you now, I've got you," he says, squeezing on my hand tighter once more to assure himself that I'm here, that this is real.
True to his word, help does come, more planes land around us, cargo planes and fighter jets all landing with armed soldiers piling out. More than I can count. I watch as the medics rush forward, one of them getting too Amara just as she collapsed to the ground, from shock or exhaustion I'm not sure.
"Make sure they keep her safe," I say, almost impulsively and I turn back to Roman whose eyes flick up to mine, like I caught him doing something his shouldn't.
"Everyone is going to be safe."
His reassurance gave me anything other than comfort, as I'm sure he intended them too. Dread comes over my face and I shake my head, turning to face the building. Because no, no wolf left in that building is going to be safe. Not even from their own kind.
"There are more in there Roman, we've gotta get them out," I say, panicked and I reach down to the ground, picking up the discarded butter knife I had dropped. "Are there more soldiers coming?" I ask, taking a step towards the bunkers only for Romans hand to grip around my forearm, pulling me back.
"Yes, more are on the way. They are finalising the strategy of attack as we speak and will be in that building in moments. The rebels don't have as much power as us, we've got them surrounded."
I nod, pursing my lips in thought. "We have to go to the cells first, that's where they are holding most of them. Some escaped, I don't know how many and I don't know how many are left down there. But I know how to get there. We're going to need weaponry capable of taking down wolves too, though they've been... they've been making weapons. Out of the prisoners held," I ramble, all my knowledge pouring out over him at once.
He furrows his brows, intently taking it all in before pulling my closer yet again, his hand encasing the one I hold a butter knife in securely. "Mae, okay I know you've been through a lot, I know. But we need to get somewhere safe, standing out here vulnerable, even with the soldiers... everything you have to say I want to hear. So will Elijah and the others abroad that plane," he says, pulling me closer towards the direction of his extensive military.
"Roman there isn't time for any debriefing, there are people in there that need our help. With everyone here we can get them out. I know the way, if we go right now-"
"The best thing that you can do right now is honour them by getting yourself to safety. I won't have you put in danger again," he says firmly, his grip on me unrelenting. I look to his hand and turn my gaze to him, matching in my hard stare.
"I've managed just fine in danger alone this entire time. I'll survive," I reply, moving to tug my arm free from his but as I do, terror takes over his face for a fleeting moment and he pulls me back.
"No, we are getting on that plane. I'm not loosing you again, I can't. Not like this," he says, his eyes flicking down once more and I pale at the movement, opening my mouth to respond but soldiers gathering around us don't allow me the chance. Which I am very thankful for.
"Alpha, the Beta is awaiting you both on board. The plane bound for the hospital is set to leave any minute now, if you and the Luna intend on taking that back to the main palace then I suggest you move quickly." Roman nods to him and I don't argue against his wishes further, walking with him back towards the entrance of the plane.
"Luna," Elijah comes into view, meeting us where the plane meets the ground. Roman positions himself behind me, putting a wedge between myself and the base.
"There are prisoners in there, wolves that need to be rescued. When I left many were in critical condition, you'll need as much medical help as you can get and someone that can take you directly to the cells they are being held in." I don't look at Roman as I debrief Elijah, not when the message of me going to help is clear as anything.
"You said they've made weapons out of the prisoners, what did you mean by that?" Roman asks me softly, his hand lingering on the small of my back. If I didn't know any better I'd think he was putting another measure in place to ensure I don't turn around and run back to where the solider's prepare to enter. But I can't presume that.
My face pales with the memory of the wolf, deranged and charging straight for me, ready to kill. Just the look of it, of the creature so twisted through torture to go against its very genetic makeup and kill its Luna... I can't stop the shudders that grip my body.
The complete and utter concern in Roman's eyes as he looks at me snaps me from my terror. If I don't get it together I can kiss helping out goodbye. "Mae-"
"They've turned prisoners down there... I don't know how, I don't honestly know much but before I left I came into contact with one. It was a wolf, full grown like any other but it was different, it must've been tortured or rewired somehow to kill other wolves, almost like an inbuilt instinct. It tried to kill me," I confirm and Roman tenses completely, both from the threat on my life and the news.
"How many of these wolves are there?" Elijah asks, an unmistakable glint of fear in those eyes.
"I don't know, I just saw the one," I tell him and I look too Roman then. "You'll need something too stabilise a fully grown wolf, some sort of aesthetic or equipment to get them out without them being a danger."
He nods, his jaw tightly set. Elijah looks at us both, his eyes glossing over before returning to normal. "The medics should have enough with them to provide the soldiers with ample defence. We need to get you inside, there is a doctor waiting aboard waiting for us."
Roman nudges me forward slightly but I plant my feet in the ground firmly. "You'll need someone who knows how to navigate in there, going in blind won't help anyone. I know that place, I have a medical background-I'm completely fit and able to help out. Take me with you," I say, my words bordering on a command. But neither of them look even slightly inclined to listen to my words. Whatever train of authority I rode back in the base with those other wolves has stopped, my power is futile here.
"Maeve we are going back to the palace, those wolves in there would agree with me on that. Putting your life in danger is going to help nobody. You need to see a doctor and get home," he says and I flinch at the word, at the way he speaks so solidly.
"He's right Luna, the both of you need to get back to the palace. We may have our military with us but we are exposed here, there hasn't been signs of aggression from the hunters base but that's not to say they won't launch an attack at any given moment," Elijah says and I tense.
"Fine, I won't go in but just keep me here. I can give directions from where I am, advice, anything. I've been in there for weeks, I know the enemy and I know them well- if anyone here has an advantage over them its me," I counter. I more than know the enemy, I've dined with them, argued with them, slept in a room with one for gods sake.
"We've been dealing with this enemy far longer than you, Luna. We can handle the task ahead without your support, as much as you offer is appreciated, I'm going to have to respectfully decline." The glare I send Elijah makes him shift slightly.
I go to take a step back, off the metal of the landing pad and onto the sandy surface but Roman's gentle touch turns into a solid barrier. "You can fight them from the palace. The most important thing here is getting you to safety, which we will do one way or another."
"Funny, that's the exact same reasoning they gave me." I don't miss the hurt that crosses over his face at the jab, but it doesn't plague me with guilt either. Because it's the truth, he is no different from Oliver if he means to use my safety as justification to control me.
"The longer we stand here arguing, the more danger they are in. We need to move in, we should be there right now, there isn't time," I debate, going to move back once more.
"We won't be moving in until we have gone through all of the required protocols, there are methods in place to ensure the safety of our soldiers as well as those in there. You can rest assured knowing we have everything here under control."
"You're not listening to me, there isn't time for protocol. Those wolves in there are being hunted down, they don't need plans they need help and they need it now. Every second we waste is another second they are being slaughtered, they have no idea how to get out, no ammunition, no weapons-nothing. We have all of that right here and you want to stall?" I ask and Elijah looks at Roman, sending him a message with one glance.
"We can continue this discussion inside, Mae. Elijah needs to get to his soldiers to begin his work," Roman says and sure enough, Elijah starts walking.
"I'll see you both back at the palace," he says briefly before leaving us, no arm jutting out to prevent his movement.
"Roman please, I am not trying to be difficult but there is nothing stopping me from helping here. You know I can be of use, Elijah knows it, I am more help here than on that plane or back at the palace. Those wolves put their lives on the line for me, if I don't step up and stay until they are safe then they risked everything for a leader that is unworthy of them," I argue, pulling at any string I can to get my way. If they let me just map out the places I know, spend whatever amount of time they must allocate to planning with them, it'll make matters so much easier.
"You're not staying, Mae." There isn't any hesitation to his words, one glance at his tense body tells me there would'n't be to his actions, either.
I don't mask the hurt I feel. "Why not?" He lets out a shaky sigh and looks away, like he's refraining from throwing me over his shoulder and forcing me onto that plane is an effort. "Why should you get to decide what I can and cannot do?"
He snaps his head back to me then, his attention undivided. "Because allowing you to put yourself at risk means putting the entire future of our pack at risk. Putting my child at risk."
My throat dries, any response I had lined up to rebut his point getting stuck as I stare at him, my face pale. My entire body feels like it shifts, like its not mine anymore-not just mine and fear, like an ice so cold it burns courses through my veins.
A loud explosion erupts through the air, ripples of the shock reaching us even at our distance, my ears ringing from the blast that doesn't end at just the one. I only have a split second to look back before Roman practically pulls me into the plane, carrying me to safety as the jets engine starts up. My whole body begins to shake and realisation kicks in as start to push against his hold.
"No! Put me down, they need help! There are people in there, so many people Roman, oh my god!" I yell, tears streaming down my face as another explosion sounds off.
My fights are fruitless and before I can free myself we are in the plane, the view of outside world becoming shielded by a metal wall.
I can't stop the sobs that wrack my body, sobs not just from the sight of the bombs but from everything, the sheer exhaustion of it all hits me and it hits me hard. My throat clenches as I am put down onto a seat but I can barely see anything, even the metal wall that I stare at becomes blurred through the tears that won't stop.
Everything becomes hard, from merely thinking to breathing itself. I try to focus on the intake of air to my body but I can't seem to get any air in my lungs, no matter how deeply I breathe.
"Maeve you need to calm down, look at me. Please, Mae." I can hear Roman's voice but it is muffled, not by the roaring engine as the plane lifts from the ground or the impact of the explosion on my ear drums but because my brain doesn't want to acknowledge him.
I don't want to hear what he has to say, for fear that it might be confrontational I suppose.
"Mae," he says, fully concerned and his soft hands find my face, making me face him. "Get the doctor in here now. Mae, you need to breathe, okay? Deep breaths, do it with me, come on. In," I shakily copy him as he inhales, the contact of his skin on mine calming me, letting the air flow into my lungs. "Out," he says and I copy him again, breathing in rhythm with him once more.
"Roman all those people," I say, my bottom lip quivering.
"It's okay, Mae. Emergency services are on their way and those soldiers are all highly trained, they are beginning the rescue of survivors as we speak."
"The humans too?" I ask, thinking back to just how many rebels were living there. They can't have all gotten out in that span of time, it's impossible. A place that size, with such a magnitude of people couldn't have evacuated in minutes, not even with hunters and their ability to emit.
"Yes, Mae. Everyone in that building will be brought out, you have to try to not stress over it, its not good for you," he says seriously and I flinch at the implication.
"The Alpha is correct Luna, stress in your state can be extremely detrimental." My head snaps to the sound of Doctor Matthews, approaching us with a clipboard in hand.
"Get him away from me," I say, my voice a deathly calm. Just the sight of him makes rage bubble up inside of me, hurt and betrayal of a kind I haven't yet felt to this degree.
He violated me in a way I will never be able to forgive. Tricked me and trapped my body into... into this.
"Maeve you need medical attention, he is here to help you," Roman says softly and I glare at him.
"Help me? Did you know?" I ask, the accusation dripping from my mouth like venom. "Did the two of you plan this?" I ask, my eyes darting between them. It feels like I'm going to be sick.
"I didn't, I would never do that to you, against your wishes-"
"You said you needed an heir," I cut in, my stare vehement. "You needed an heir and what better way to get one than trick me into thinking you couldn't? Why should I believe anything you say?" I spit, moving to stand but he pushes me down onto the seat gently, keeping his hand on my thigh to hold me in place.
Hurt flashes through his eyes. "I didn't know, Maeve I swear to you on my life I had no idea about this. The king ordered the doctors to comply and Matthew has faced his punishment. If it weren't for me needing him here right now he'd still be confined to his quarters on pack grounds," Roman explains but its all too much to take in, all I can think about is how wrong it feels.
I'm pregnant. I've been tricked into a pregnancy by those that are supposed to be transparent, doctors that I'm supposed to trust, friends that are supposed to have my best interests at heart. It's almost too much to comprehend.
"Luna I am truly sorry for any pain I may have caused you in my dealings with the king. I only hope to now serve you and the future of our pack loyally."
At his tone-just as condescending as the first day I met him, his attitude-so aloof to the pain I feel because of his actions. I snap.
Roman knelt in front of my seat doesn't have time to react as I spring from my seat, pushing the doctor into the wall and settling a knife I'd pocketed against his throat.
"You think that smooth words are going to make me forgive you?" I taunt, pressing the blade more firmly into his neck. I'm not going to slit his throat, but the power knowing I can and the fear on his face thinking that I will. It gives me the sick sense of satisfaction I crave, to make him feel what I feel.
"Maeve drop the knife." I ignore Roman behind me, who doesn't make any move to physically stop me, afraid I'll just go for the kill I guess.
The guards and soldiers that occupied the plane were paying attention now. I hardly noticed them before, but with their eyes, all keenly set on me. I can't not.
"Luna, please, you don't want to do this-"
I push him harder against the wall. "Don't you tell me what I do and do not want. You've done that enough already you sick fuck. How does it feel huh? To have someone else hold power over your body? Not very nice when the tables are turned is it?"
"Maeve put the knife down," Roman says slowly from behind me, his words coming out as a low command. But his commands won't work on me, the child inside me is evidence enough of that.
I don't put the knife down, instead I stare straight into Dr Matthews eyes with anger. And before I can do anything to stop it, I feel a sharp prick in my shoulder and in a matter of seconds my eyes feel groggy. The knife is pulled from my grip and I stammer back into Romans arms, my vision spinning and then turning black all at once.
To all of you probably very confused with when I update, I too, never really know when it's gonna happen. Unhelpful, I know. But I am aiming to put out as much as I can, as soon as I can while balancing life and all the other things on my plate.
Your best bet is to make sure to FOLLOW me on here (lets get it to 1k yalllll) and also on INSTAGRAM. I've been bad with hints and actually sticking to that stuff but I'm trying to get back into it and so there you will be able to see chapter hints before they come out and have another way to know when I've updated :)
Until next time,
Ps: thank you for all your amazing comments, I read each of them and love them all <333