16. How to Escape From Prison
The familiar sound of grief was all I could hear.
True to his word, the Alpha had left Opal alive, with my promise that I wouldn't try to escape. And since I now had ulterior motives, I had decided that I would uphold my end of the deal. I would sit here and plot how I'd destroy his pack from the inside.
Which, to be fair, was rather hard to do when one was sitting in a cell with only a grieving witch for company.
I'd been upgraded - somewhat, anyways - from the cold, stone room in which I'd woken up in. I was now in what I considered to be a generic prison cell - the metal bars, very open, no privacy. Also, I could see into the cell next to mine, which was both a blessing and a curse.
On one hand, I could see Opal.
On the other, I could see Opal.
Why was this a good and a bad thing?
Well, it's good to know that she's alive and that she's relatively unharmed - physically, anyways. It's reassuring to know that I have a decent cell-neighbour, one who would gladly give up her life for me.
But... I also have to see the consequences of my actions. I have to watch Opal switch between aggressively sobbing and staring numbly at the wall. I have to see the constant reminder that I did that to her. I may not have killed Kyle myself - that deed goes to Keith. I may not have ordered his death - that's due to the Alpha. But I might as well have done both of those. By not coming quietly, by insisting that I can get out of the city without running into any trouble, by dragging them into the mess of my life in the first place, I started the chain reaction that caused the death of Opal's beloved husband. And my friend.
Every action has its consequences; you made your choices, Little Hunter. Now deal with the aftermath.
I guess this was my punishment for murdering members of Toronto's pack. It wasn't enough that Kyle was brutally killed in front of me, while I was helpless to do anything. No, I had to watch his widow suffer, too.
My life is fucking utopia right now.
Not only did I have to listen to Opal drown in grief; no, I was plagued by my own memories of such noises.
I knew the feeling well.
The boy's gaze jerked towards me as I screamed, and he frowned, looking thoughtful. As I stared at him in horror, my own hand clapped over my mouth to stifle the sound of terror, I realized I had been right in my guess of his age - definitely around eighteen. He had that same look of arrogant righteousness Cedric got.
I wasn't one to scream at every random boy I crossed paths with. But, then again, most boys didn't have dagger-sharp claws protruding from their hands - wait, no, paws, I realized, looking closer.
His eyes widened as he continued staring, and I met his eyes, wondering what the hell he found so fascinating about me. I didn't look very interesting. I was quite plain and hadn't even grown into my own limbs yet. I was tall, lanky, and had barely hit puberty - at fifteen, I was somewhat of a late bloomer. And his eyes were oddly compelling, the most beautiful shade of green...
I also didn't know why I was thinking about that at that moment.
Dad took advantage of the boy's distraction, grabbing my arm and breaking into a run, pulling me along behind him. Behind me, I heard footsteps pounding along the grass - Cedric, following after us.
Danger, came the mental voice again. Stay on your guard.
I found myself focusing on the item held in Dad's other hand - the silver dagger he'd pulled out earlier, just before the boy had stepped out of the shadows. Why did he have that? Why did that boy have paws? And why did he call dad a Hunter?
My first thought was that this was all just some silly prank, but that thought was halted when Dad suddenly stopped. I stumbled, the only thing keeping me from face-planting into the grass was Cedric lunging forward and grabbing my arm.
I looked up to see why we had stopped - and bit my lip hard, drawing blood, to stop myself from screaming again.
There was another man - yes, he was definitely a man, and a middle-aged one at that. He looked quite similar to the boy; they both had the same dark, wavy hair, though the man's eyes were pale blue. And, like the boy, his hands were also twisted into horrendous paws, complete with an even more menacing set of long, curling claws.
The blood on my lips tasted of salt and rust.
"Arthur Hearne," the man said, a grin spreading across his face. "You're a difficult man to find."
Immediately, Cedric grabbed my arm, dragging me back.
"Michael Randon," Dad's voice was tight, carefully controlled. "I had a feeling it was you behind this."
"You hunt us down like animals," the man - Michael Randon, I think Dad had called him - snarled. "You force us to hide in the shadows like dogs."
Dad laughed. "You are dogs."
Michael ignored him. "But no longer," he raised one of his hands - paws - to the sky, the sunlight glinting off of his claws. "The Hunters are no more, Arthur Hearne. You're the last one - the rest are gone. Hunted down by my pack and Christian Roy's clan - an uneasy alliance, but a powerful one nonetheless."
Beside me, Cedric made a noise in his throat, somewhere between a whimper and a growl. The temperature around me began to rise. My brother's hand was hot on my arm.
"What do you say, Hunter? Will you go down fighting, like the majority of your kind? Or will you flee like the coward you truly are?"
Dad didn't even hesitant. He stood up straighter, brandishing the dagger like a knight in... well, not shining armour. He was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of khaki pants, after all, not a suit of silver. Still, he looked almost heroic.
"Cedric," he said quietly. "Get Reese out of here."
"Dad - "
"Now, Cedric," Dad glanced back at us for a split moment. His eyes, normally the same blue-green as the Atlantic, the same shade as my own eyes, were black. I gasped.
Cedric began pulling me away as Dad lunged at the man.
Something shocking usually seems like it happens in slow motion. Not this time. If anything, it was in fast-forward.
Dad moved with a speed far quicker than any human I've ever seen. The man, too, seemed taken aback - he only moved just in time, Dad's dagger cutting a long, thin slash into his left cheek.
Wait... was Dad trying to kill him?
"Cedric..." I whispered. "What's Dad doing?"
"Quiet, Reese," he said, ducking behind a tree. He wasn't going to leave, I realized. He didn't even seem unnerved.
Dad stumbled slightly as he slowed, fighting to regain his footing - he clearly hadn't intended to miss Michael Randon. He spun around, ready to run at him again...
But that wasn't his intention, I realized. He looked like he was going to try the same tactic twice, but he instead threw the dagger. It flew through the air, moving like a long, deadly bullet, and buried itself into Michael's skull with deadly precision.
Dad let out a breath of relief and moved to pull the dagger from Michael.
He didn't even see the end coming.
A wolf, larger than any I've ever seen, flew out of the shadows and landed on Dad.
Dad never stood a chance.
There was a whirlwind of slashing claws, snapping teeth, silver metal, and blood - so much blood. For a single heartbeat, it seemed Dad recovered enough from his surprise to inflict some damage onto the wolf - that is to say, I heard it let out a yelp of pain, and when it later ran, giving me one last searing look, I caught a glimpse of what looked like a deep, painful wound on its chest, just over its heart.
The wound wasn't enough, though.
I, with my older brother at my side, watched my Dad die that day.
I was helpless to do anything.
I vowed to never feel like that again.
But being helpless isn't an option. You feel it when you can do nothing else but stand and watch as the world crumbles and burns around you.
A choked gasp. "R-Reese."
I took a deep breath. "Opal... I'm sorry. I didn't mean - "
She cut me off. "I know, Reese, and no matter what you think, it's not your fault. I should have realized that Kyle and I could be tracked. I should have been able to mask our scent..."
Curse her, and her ability to know that I was blaming myself. But, even though she told me otherwise, I still knew, in every cell in my body, that Kyle's death was my fault. "You've never been able to do that spell," I reminded her. "You're a gifted witch, Opal, but even the most powerful of magic-wielders have difficulty masking a scent."
She shook her head, turning to face me through the bars that separated us. Her eyes were hollow and red-rimmed, her face tear-stained. "It was my fault we were caught, too," she said. "I - I didn't sense them coming. I was too busy tuning into your location... making sure you got out safely," she sighed. "We hadn't even made it out of the city. A half-hour after you left, we stopped for gas - you know how Kyle always forgets to fill up the tank. I had stayed in the car, to focus all of my energy to track you," she frowned. "Which reminds me - you are very difficult to track. If I didn't know you so well, it would have been impossible. I gave myself a migraine."
Odd, I thought, but it was a good thing to know. So, as far as I know, there are only two supernatural beings in the city who have the ability to track me - the Alpha, via my scent, which I supposedly don't even have, and Opal, via magic.
Hmmm... maybe I should go back on my promise and try to escape...
Or not. I was pretty set on my current idea, but it was smart to have a backup plan.
"They snuck up on us - the Alpha had been tracking us since Broadview Station - and I'm sorry, Reese, but I think we're the reason you were caught," she blinked apologetically. "I didn't notice anything until they dragged me from the car. The Alpha ordered two wolves to go stake out every station. He was on the phone with two at Union when his mood got... worrying," she shuddered. "That is to say, he sure seemed like he was on the brink of celebrating.
"Don't worry," I said, my tone reassuring. "It's not your fault I got caught. I saw the wolves at Union... I would have gotten away unnoticed if I hadn't decided to stay and eavesdrop on their conversation. Then a damn vampire ran past and blew my hood down. I ran for my life."
She nodded. "He told his Beta to meet the other wolves at Union to track you. Then he called you with my phone and had them trace the call. I couldn't believe it when you actually answered."
"Not one of my brighter moments, I admit," I scrunched up my nose. "The conversation was very... irritating. I realized what he was up to after he hung up, but it was too late for me to run. There was a fight, in which I killed a wolf and nearly another, then I was hit from behind. It's quite inconvenient to be unconscious," I touched the bump on the back of my head. It was less swollen now, less tender to the touch. However, the action sent a searing pain burning through my arm - I'd nearly forgotten about the wounds I'd been given during my laughable "interrogation." "I woke up in a rather comfortable cell, mind you. The most comfortable stone floor imaginable. I only had mild back pain."
My sarcasm earned a weak smile from Opal. "Yes, the living conditions are... subpar. Would it kill them to be more accommodating? After all, you've promised not to escape..."
I stood up, my thoughts suddenly racing. Yes, I did promise not to escape... and, let's be real, I could easily get out of this cell if I wanted to. Sure, I was a prisoner here, a trophy... but whoever said I couldn't be a comfortable trophy?
I had an idea.
I peered past the bars of my cell, into the corridor beyond. A man was standing at the exit, unarmed to the naked eye - he was obviously a werewolf.
"Hey, watchdog!" I shouted.
He jerked a bit.
"Come over here and open this cell. I need to talk to your highly esteemed Alpha."
He glanced at me, his eyes narrowing. "Quiet, Hunter."
Oh, so it's going to be like that, then?
Fine by me. I was looking for an excuse to piss off a werewolf. It's been a few hours since I last killed one, and though I couldn't - and wouldn’t - kill one right now, I was getting antsy and needed to blow off some steam.
"Aw, it's an angry doggo," I crouched, holding my hand out through the bar, and beckoned with my fingers. "Come here, doggy! Come!" when he didn't move, I turned to Opal. "Jeez, what an idiot. He can't even come when called."
Opal was bewildered. "What on earth are you doing?" she whispered.
I grinned. "Improvising," turning back to the watchdog, I cranked my taunting up a notch. "Come here, puppy! Do you want a tweet?" I slipped into the baby voice Thomas used to use whenever he saw a dog. "Does the wittle puppy want a cookie?"
The werewolf growled. They're a surprisingly easy species to anger.
"Come here, Lassie!" I called, then looked it up and down. "Oh, sorry, you're a male. Come, Marmaduke!"
He looked like he was on the brink of moving.
For good measure, I whistled.
That did the trick.
The watchdog stormed over, his eyes turning black with anger. He was flexing his hands as he stopped in front of my cell.
"I said quiet, Hunter!" he snarled.
"Ah, before I do that," I smiled sweetly. "Now that you're over here, would you mind opening my cell for me? It would be much appreciated."
He did not look impressed. "Shut up.”
I sighed, then had another brilliant stroke of genius.
Weren't these werewolves supposedly afraid of me?
I straightened my posture, doing my best to look intimidating, and looked the watchdog dead in the eyes.
"Open this cell," I commanded. “Now.”
He scowled, looking like he'd rather do anything else, but, with shaky hands, like he was trying to stop himself from moving, he did as I said.
He did as I said.
Damn, I'm more intimidating than I thought.
I didn't waste another moment. In one swift movement, I dashed out of the cell, spun around the werewolf, pushed him into the cell, and closed the door. It locked with a satisfying click.
"Much appreciated," I said cheerfully. "I'll make sure you get that cookie for being such a good, obedient boy."
I was tempted to scratch his head for good measure, but the look he gave me let me know that he'd bite off my hand before he let that happen.
“Reese,” Opal hissed from the next cell over. She looked very confused. "You said you weren't going to escape!"
"I did say that, didn't I?" taking a moment to toss another sweet smile at the scowling watchdog, I strolled towards the exit, cheerfully whistling a tune.
Now, I thought. About that Alpha...