9 Minutes Earlier
I was on point.
I was ready.
I never thought I would be doing this, but here I was, over head in the rafters high above the stadium, rifle in hand, waiting for the fight to finish. Today’s work was just another day at the office, but now there was much more to lose, and this was the first time I ever felt scared. I wasn’t fearful of my safety, but I was for her.
I made a fatal mistake getting myself emotionally attached to her, but it was a mistake I would never regret. Everything about her was perfect. The way she looked, her attitude, her outlook on life, her desires to help the unfortunate, and now it was all crashing down.
I thought by now I would have shaken off these feelings of guilt, but it was only getting worse as the days rolled by.
I remember the first time Troy told me about his sister. From the moment he showed me a picture of her I couldn’t get her out of my head.
When I woke up this morning I was tempted to take her far from the city, away from all the violence, but then I would be no different then the rest of the men in her life, controlling her decisions and telling her how she should live. I would be just like the Alphas that sought to suppress her.
I refused to be like one of them.
I was a lying about a lot of things, but I would try my best to make it right, even if that meant giving up this life to be with her.
I held onto my rifle tightly as the minutes rolled by. I had my shot on Xanos and was readying myself for the end of the fourth round. I was going to kill him first, then Marcus.
I analyzed his every move, studying how he spoke, and how he interacted with his brother. I came to the conclusion that there was nothing behind those dark sinister eyes.
I couldn’t help but to think about the night before, when he showed up in my basement.
The way he touched her in MY fucking house. In MY fucking basement.
How could I do nothing?
I decided not to kill Xanos last night because it would screw up the plan for today, but he tempted me like he knew exactly what I was thinking. Xanos was smart and I played right into his hands.
That bastard came in and fucked her in my house and I was too worried about my work to stop it. I held my gun at the top of the stairs as I watched them. It felt like my heart was being ripped apart and I was powerless to do anything about it, and in all of the irony, he knew I was watching.
He locked eyes with me as he fucked her.
She was being manipulated by the Alphas like they were playing a game a chess. She was their pawn, and I was sick and tired of her being tossed around like some object. Xanos deserved to die, but hell, all of these mother fuckers did.
The cross hairs of my rifle scope hovered the area, scanning for my team to ensure everything was in place. “Number 2, are you in position?”
Number 2’s deep voice came through my earpiece, “Yes boss,” he replied.
“Number 3?” I looked over to see Number 3 in place at a concession stand. He was wearing a blue staff uniform to blend in with all the others. He wore a hat to cover his face, but I knew it was him. I could always spot out my team no matter how chaotic the scene was. He looked up briefly to me and nodded, “Yes boss.”
“Number 5, in position?” I looked over to see the nearby red headed waitress serving Xanos and Marcus.
“Yes boss,” she answered back.
Number 3’s voice entered the chat once again, “You’re looking sexy in that skirt number 5.”
“Fuck you 3, you think they wanna touch this human ass? Besides, it’s a pity these Alphas are taken. They are fuckable to say the least. Its even better up close,” she snidely remarked.
“Can you believe they bet against their own mate?” Number 5 chimed in on the little conversation, but it was the last straw. We’ve done these missions a ton of times, and sometimes comic relief was a good warm up, but not today.
This mission hit me hard and I couldn’t afford any mistakes.
Ever since I’ve grown close to Hunter, I’ve been second guessing myself. I didn’t let on anything to my team because I always preached that we shouldn’t get close to our work. I failed at my number one rule and now my anxiety was through the roof.
I’ve seen it all in my life during the war. Murder, deceit, violence, you name it, but never in my life have I gotten close to someone like her. I’ve had girlfriends before, but none of it felt real. Nothing felt real until I set my eyes on her.
I moved my cross hairs to glance down at Hunter in the ring.
She had a warrior spirit, but her opponent was twice her size. Both of them were covered in bloody wounds and sweat. I wish I could have convinced her to stay home, but she was essential for this mission, an easy scapegoat as per my client’s request. She was also key to getting Marcus and Xanos to sit next to one another. I blindly agreed to the terms of this contract, but now I was having regrets.
“Asset is in place, you know the signal, then lights out,” I patched through to my team.
“Roger,” Number 2 replied.
My breathing was always steady, but tonight I was shakier then usual. Was it because Hunter was in the middle of an all-out war? I promised myself I wouldn’t get caught up in her world, but ever since the day we met at Troy’s meeting she consumed my mind.
I didn’t need a bullshit mating pull to value who she truly was.
“Don’t forget what we discussed.” Suddenly, a new voice entered our communication channel. I was unsure how he got through, but hell, it seemed like our client had eyes in ears all over this city.
“I’m a little busy at the moment. This isn’t the best time to talk about our terms.” I was frustrated that he was chiming in at such a critical point of our mission, but at the end of the day, he was paying us handsomely for this job. I had to keep my comments to a minimal until we were done.
“DON’T YOU FUCKING EXPLAIN TERMS TO ME HUMAN,” he snapped back.
I sighed heavily, “You done now? I have a job to do. If you want this done without issues, leave us to the fucking job or we’ll walk away right now.”
“FINE. I’ll see you when the dust settles...”
There was an eerie silence that followed after he disconnected from the link.
How could I do this to Hunter? Why in the hell after all these years of fighting and chasing demons I was feeling this guilt?
Was I in love with her?
Fourth round of the fight…
I couldn’t look at the fight because I was aiming my gun at Xanos the entire time. I had to stay focused.
“Almost there, we’re standing by,” Number 2 patched through.
My hand was tightly grasping onto my rifle. I wanted to use a silencer to keep things discreet, but I had to ensure the shot could get through. I kept my eyes on the targets, but I couldn’t help to peek down to Hunter still fighting below.
My heart started to beat fast as I watched her get beaten down. I was confident she would make it though to the end, and I was praying she would yield if she had to, but she was stubborn just like me. I couldn’t let anything happen to her. I could still do this mission and get her out to safety.
After today I was going to tell her everything. I was going to tell her how I felt. I wanted to start a new life with her. Call me crazy, but it was what I wanted, and if that meant leaving this hell hole city and starting fresh across the world, so be it. I had enough money saved up, and at this point, I was only working to fill my time.
I had many sleepless nights thinking about it. There was something about her that made my heart flutter, and it was fucking killing me. I couldn’t be a private contractor anymore. I couldn’t live a lie.
I would give it all up for her.
I peered through the box seat where our employer was standing. He told me that he would be in attendance, and I could only assume he was up there sitting pretty with all the other politicians. I couldn’t see his face, hell, I had no business of who it really was.
This whole world was corrupt, no matter if you were human or werewolf. That is why I only worked for the highest bidder. It never mattered who the client or the target was, I was only doing what was best for me and my team. We were all soldiers from the old war, abandoned by our government, scavenging for scraps and leftovers by the elite, but now, we could steer our own path.
It was illegal, but we were fucking good at it.
I wondered if he was looking at me now. He was the coldest client I’ve ever had to deal with, and he went to extraordinary lengths to keep his identity a secret. Usually, I wouldn’t pry, but now I was curious. I wondered how he was connected to everyone here.
Suddenly, there was an eruption of cheering, and the audience stood up. I had to keep my aim on Xanos, but I couldn’t help to look down at the fight.
Curiosity was getting the best of me.
The audience was roaring louder then ever before. Even Xanos and Marcus were standing from their seats. Their faces were dark and emotionless as they leaned over their seats to watch closely at the fight.
My heart was beating fast.
I had to look. I couldn’t sit by and not watch what was happening to her. I was nervous. For once in my life I was nervous. I haven’t been this nervous since I first joined Delta Force.
I moved my cross hairs towards the center ring.
“I guess this fight is ending early.” Number 3 patched through.
I ignored his comment and focused in on Hunter. She was on the ground, her face was swollen, her body was covered in blood, and her head was being pulled up from the floor by Aphrodite.
This wasn’t good at all. She was going to lose.
My heart was pounding faster, and sweat pellets began falling down my forehead.
I couldn’t do this anymore. I couldn’t watch this. I had to save her.
“Boss? Boss?” I wasn’t sure who was talking now, I was solely focused on Hunter.
My breathing turned rapid as I focused my aim on Aphrodite. I was trying my best to get my breathing under control because I would only have once chance to save her.
Aphrodite smiled as she braced her hands around Hunter’s head.
Hunter wasn’t yielding.
Why wasn’t she yielding!?
“Yield Hunter! It’s all you have to do.” I harshly whispered to myself as I kept my aim on Aphrodite.
My mind was spiraling out of control, and even though the pressure was mounting to kill Aphrodite, I hesitated. I was hesitating because I would fuck up the mission for my entire team. All these past few months would be for nothing, but Hunter was worth it.
Just in my moment’s hesitation, it all came crashing down. Aphrodite whipped her arms, snapping Hunter’s neck to the side. I could tell from here her neck was broken, there was no doubt about it. It was an instant death.
I slammed my leg hard onto the floor.
Hunter went limp, and she was tossed back down to the floor like disposed garbage. Aphrodite stood over her body as the audience applauded, raising her arms in the air, causing more eruption in the stadium. She was standing over Hunter like a trophy kill. Like she was a fucking animal she just hunted.
My body was on fire and my heart was sinking into the depths of no return.
This was all my fault.
“NOO!!” My throat was tightening up, and the pressure behind my eyes were like dams holding back the overflow of water. Did I really just watch the woman of my dreams get murdered in front of me? All while I held a rifle at Aphrodite. I could have done something, but I didn’t.
How am I going to live with myself after this? I couldn’t do this anymore. This was my breaking point.
“Almost there boss.” Number 3 patched through in my moment of panic, and thankfully, I had my communication link shut off.
I was breathing heavily as I watched the audience erupting in chants and applause. They were fucking cheering. How could these beasts cheer for such brutality?
“Boss? Boss? You there?”
“You fucking bastards!!” I brought my gun back up to get my aim focused. They all deserved to die. “Lets just get this mission done with. Hunter is dead, so when James gets to the ring, take the shot number 3.” It was hard for me to say the words, but I had to get my team safely out of here. I couldn’t let my emotions get them killed.
“Yes sir.” Number 3 replied.
“You alright boss?” Number 2 probably could tell I was choking up, but I couldn’t let on that this was affecting me. I couldn’t have them second guessing my judgement. I had to keep this to myself.
I cleared my throat and thought about how to answer. I wasn’t going to be ‘alright’ after today, because the only woman that I ever set eyes on in my entire life was fucking dead. It was all while I watched because my work was too damn important. How could I allow her to go in the ring? She wasn’t needed to kill James. I could take care of him myself, but the client insisted on having her there. I was naïve thinking she would be ok after today. How could I be in such denial of the imminent danger?
This didn’t make any sense.
The old me would just take the money and not ask any questions, but now I was really wondering what this was all about. Why was she involved in this? Was this the plan the whole time? There was no way Aphrodite was human. This was a set up the entire time and I was too damn stupid to realize it.
I should have told her the truth. I should have told her fucking EVERYTHING.
“I’m fine, let’s just get this job done and get the hell out of here,” I replied.
“Roger, I got my sight on James now. I’ll fire when you take the first shot on Xanos.”
My sites were now focused on Xanos who looked strangely calm as he stood from his seat.
Why was this sick fuck calm when his so-called mate just got murdered in cold blood? I peered over to Marcus who was standing close by. He was strangely calm as well.
What the fuck was wrong with these werewolves? Did they have no heart? Did they not care about anything but themselves?
I refocused back onto Xanos. He was going to be the first one to take down. I kept my breathing steady, ensuring that I wasn’t going to fuck up the first shot. I only had a split second to take the second shot on Marcus by the time he realized what was going on.
I gave one deep breath, “Steady boys. I got this.”
The stadium was roaring, this was my chance while everyone was distracted and focused on the ring.
My cross hairs were steadied now.
My breathing was slow, steady, and I had minimal movement. A perfect set up for the perfect shot.
Xanos was still looking at the ring.
Here we go.
My index finger lightly pressed down onto the trigger.
It was only a split-second window, and I didn’t have time to look to see if I made the shot. That was number 2’s job.
I was already focused on Marcus. There was a body on the ground, and I was assuming it was Xanos, but again, I had to keep my focus on Marcus to maintain the time frame before he realized what was going on.
I never missed my shots.
I put my finger on the trigger again, slightly putting pressure down, then...
I exhaled heavily as I assessed the situation.
“Boss! Boss! What the fuck! You missed! What the fuck, did they see you?”
“What?” I looked over with my scope to see the body.
Number 2 was right, it wasn’t Xanos, it was someone else. Then as I looked to Marcus, he was already gone, including Xanos. They fucking got away. I’ve never missed a target in my life. How was this possible? My mind was going into overdrive, questioning everything I’ve done up until this point.
Pissed off was an understatement. Not only was Hunter dead, but now I failed my mission. I failed my team.
I refocused on James who was still in sight. He was approaching the ring to where Aphrodite was still boasting on her win. “Take the shot on James now! They know we are here.”
There was no time to explain or talk over what happened. We had to leave now. Marcus knew I took a shot, and most likely they both saw me. I wasn’t entirely sure how, but they knew they were being set up.
I had to execute plan B and get out quickly before they caught up to us.
I started dissembling my rifle in my duffle bag. I knew I could rely on my team to take care of James. They had sight on him, and I had the longest journey to the exit. It only made sense that they finish him.
I had to move quickly before they caught up to my trail. It was only a matter of time until they found me, but just as I started to pack up my rifle, the whole communication link when ballistic.
“Boss, I lost sight of James too…”
“What’s happening!? It’s a circus out there!”
“Boss, Boss! She’s alive?! What the fuck is going on? She’s a werewolf? I got another shot on her, do you want me to take it?”
In this moment, I froze. I stopped packing up my stuff and placed my finger on my ear pierce to hear them clearly. “Who’s alive?!”
“Hunter! She’s - she’s...”
How could this be? I thought all that talk about being something else was crazy talk, or some sort of morale boost before the fight. I wasn’t entirely sure, but I was already unpacking my rifle once again to get a view on the situation.
It only took me a few seconds to set up my rifle for the second time. I aimed down to the ring.
Internally I was panicking. My breathing was so heavy that my cross hairs were going all over the place as I refocused my sight on her.
“Boss, she, boss she….” Number 3 was near speechless. Out of all the years of fighting in the war, he’s never stuttered a word until today.
“What?!” I finally caught sight of her through my cross hairs.
I gasped at the scene. She was alive, and her hand was coated in fresh blood, but it wasn’t her hand, it was a fucking claw. Was she a werewolf or something else? It didn’t look like a werewolf claw, it was much larger, and her nails were much sharper than a traditional werewolf.
I couldn’t get a handle of what I was witnessing.
The entire audience was to their feet. There was a dead silence, then whispers. I could hear the guns loading of the security detail surrounding the perimeter of the ring. They were there to protect the Alphas, and I suppose they saw Hunter as a threat now.
Even the werewolves didn’t know what she was.
The parley had everyone on their toes tonight, and all the guns in the room were pointing at her as she stood over Aphrodite’s dead body. She held the beating heart in her grasp as she smiled, revealing a large set of pearly white canines.
My mouth hung open and my hands began to shake.
What was I witnessing?
She fucking pulled a woman’s heart out with her bare hands, and now she was locked eyes with James who was standing several feet away from the ring. James was just as speech less as everyone else. For a crazed emotionless lunatic, he was looking as if he was watching a ghost.
Was he scared?
She literally was a ghost. I couldn’t recognize her. Her hair had completely changed. It was now straight, long and the colour white. Her eyes were blackened, resembling one like a werewolf, but at this point I wasn’t sure what she was. I’ve never seen anything like this before.
James was frozen, I was frozen, the entire fucking stadium was frozen and now I wasn’t sure what to do.
“You see this!? I know you missed your shot on Xanos and Marcus, but then again, Alpha Kane’s daughter will make up for the fuck up earlier. Dead or alive, but if alive, I’ll triple your payout. Terms have changed, finish the job.” Our client sounded just as surprised as the rest of us, but I wasn’t going to agree to his new terms.
“You hear that boys? Boss, I already got the shot on her, silver is loaded. She’s a sitting duck out there. I’ll aim for her legs. Let’s get this bitch alive.” Number 3′s voice heightened in excitement.
I was still frozen. There’s no way in hell I was going to allow Hunter to get shot.
“DO NOT TAKE THE SHOT. THIS IS NOT OUR ORIGINAL AGREEMENT.”
“I’ll make it worth your while. I know she has a special place in your heart Derek...” Our client answered back.
How did he know all of this information? I wasn’t even sure how he was speaking to my entire team right now. This was a secure communication channel that he hacked into.
I didn’t trust him. As far as I saw, the deal was done, and I needed to get out before Hunter got hurt again. I wasn’t sure how she was getting out of here, but I had to try to get her out to safety. I didn’t care about the money anymore.
“Boss, triple payout, she’s standing right here!” Number 3 shouted out.
“I REPEAT DO NOT TAKE THE SHOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!” I kept my rifle out, scanning the area for Number 3.
I was confident my team would listen to me, but sometimes money did weird things to people, and there was only one man in particular that I couldn’t trust to follow through with my instructions, and that was Number 3.
He was one greedy bastard that would do anything for more money. He was good at what he did, but I’ve had to put him in his place a few times before.
I was frantically looking for him. Blue uniform, hat, large man, that’s all I had to look for.
I swiveled my rifle all over the area looking for him, then that’s when realized he was probably closer than I thought. He had a compact SMG under his uniform, so he would have to be fairly close to take a shot on Hunter.
Finally, I stopped moving, I caught him in my cross hairs. He was standing behind James, but he wasn’t aiming his gun at him, he was aiming for Hunter.
“NUMBER 3 PUT THE GUN DOWN, THE MISSION IS OVER.”
There was only silence, and he was still pointing the gun towards Hunter.
“We won’t need to work for a VERY long-time boss,” number 3 muttered under his breath.
“DON’T DO IT!”
Hunter dropped Aphrodite’s heart in her hand and caught eyes with Number 3. She bolted, running directly for James. She wasn’t worried about getting shot, she just wanted James. This was what she wanted the entire time and number 3 wasn’t going to scare her away.
She was already over the fence, and James was stepping backwards. She moved like a werewolf, but was much faster, almost to the point it was hard to follow her with my scope.
“You’ll thank me later.” Number 3 steadied his aim as Hunter charged for James.
In this moment, my only chance to stop him was either shoot number 3 or set off the explosives. I took the small black detonator out of my pocket. It was handheld, like the size of a car key set, and it had one red button. It was the only button to set off the C-4 that was planted all over the stadium. The explosive would cause chaos, and hopefully would fuck up Number 3’s shot on Hunter.
I wasn’t going to hesitate for the second time.
I pressed my finger to the detonator and patched through our communication link one last time.