Hunter

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5. How to Kill a Wolf


It’s him.

Hells, no.

I’m not ready.

I can’t do this yet. I’m not strong enough.

He stands there, staring at me, a few feet away from where I was. Even with the distance, I saw his thick, wavy black hair, blending into the night, though the moon illuminated his glowing, pale blue eyes. He was tall, foreboding, a cold, calculating look on his face sending my survival instincts running wild.

Get out of here Reese. Back away slowly. Maybe he hasn’t seen the body...

But all the proof he needed was there, lying at my feet, blooding pooling out of the wound in his chest. Even my weak, human nose could smell the rest and salt of the scarlet liquid - there was no doubt in my mind that he could smell it too.

My death will be avenged... Ryker’s final words raced through my head, over and over again, a never-ending cycle. He knew his friend was lurking close-by, maybe even watching the entire fight as it happened. Hiding in the shadows, silently watching as I struck down his friend without thinking twice, listening as I rubbed in how Ryker had been killed by his enemy. Getting clarification that I am, in fact, the very being the pack - the entire supernatural world of Toronto - has been chasing after for years now.

He didn’t come any closer to me, not yet, anyway, and I stared him down, intent on showing no fear whatsoever, even as I sensed my own downfall approaching. I know in my heart that I will not go down without a fight. It’s not in my nature.

Even though death is certain for me. I won’t be making it easy.

He grinned then, slowly, knowingly. The silver dagger, still in my hand, brought me comfort that I wasn’t defenseless, though I didn’t have the element of surprise, which was always my greatest weapon.

“Hunter,” he said, echoing Ryker, eyeing my dagger, the blood splattered across my sweats. “And - ” he peered closer, taking in my features. “Reese Hearne.”

Wait, what?

How does he know -?

Reese Hearne disappeared five years ago - I was certain of it, erasing all trace of her from this world. Reese Hearne doesn’t exist anymore - only Opal and Kyle know my true name, and I know they’d never betray me.

So how does he know who I am?

I kept those thoughts solely in my head, not allowing my face to show how unnerved I am now. He shouldn’t know me. He shouldn’t know that Reese Hearne is the Hunter. He shouldn’t have made the connection between me and the Hunter. Hundreds of people disappear from the city every month. There’s nothing suspicious or peculiar about my own disappearance.

But that doesn’t matter anymore. He knows who I am.

And I won’t let him know how much this bothers me. I looked at him calmly, fighting to keep myself relaxed, yet ready to explode into action at any moment.

“Nicholas Randon,” I said, letting him know that I know exactly who he is, too. “I wish I could say I’ve been hunting you, but,” I kicked at Ryker’s body, still lying lifeless at my feet. “I’m afraid you’re not a target quite yet.”

His smile didn’t falter. It bothered me. “You’re a hard person to track down. I’d just about given up when I saw you outside the club earlier tonight.”

I froze, caught off guard. What? He saw me tonight? Did he see me...

“You’re rather handy with a stake, aren’t you?” he continued. “Chauncey didn’t even see you coming. Though, then again,” he glanced down at the body of Ryker, his friend, a cool look in his eyes. “I suppose catching your prey off guard is your trademark.”

Prey.

Supernatural beings.

The enemy.

The sole reason Hunters exist.

To kill them.

That was all I could see, then, looking at him, as my brain recognized the werewolf before me as prey.

Kill. Kill. Kill.

But I didn’t move, knowing that attacking now would definitely result in my death.

“I’ve been hunting both of your identities for some time, Reese Hearne,” he said. “But you’d disappeared, though you were spotted two months later...” he trailed off, looking at me thoughtfully. “And then disappeared again.”

And I know exactly what he’s talking about. During the darkest part of my life, five years ago, when my brothers and I went into hiding after being targeted by a vampire... the vampire finding us two months later... I remember flashing eyes hiding in the shadows...

Then I disappeared again. For good. Reese Hearne was no more. After that dark, dreadful year, I become something... else.

“And the Hunter appeared,” he continued. “Hellbent on vengeance. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Reese Hearne and the Hunter are one and the same.”

No, I thought. I suppose it’s not surprising at all. Not if you know what happened to me. Not if you know the change I underwent.

Though Nicholas clearly knows some things about my past - he’s hinted as much, so subtly even I barely noticed it - he obviously doesn’t know everything.

He was still staring at me, thoughtful, and confusion clouded his gaze. “You have no scent,” he said, as if in realization. I gave him a weird look. That’s probably the strangest thing somebody’s ever said to me. And I hear some weird stuff. “How is that so? Witchcraft, perhaps? Has the feared Hunter, destroyer of all things Supernatural, been having dealings with witches?”

He was mocking me; that much was clear. My calm, never-ending stare transitioned into a burning glare as my desire to kill him grew stronger. Things aren’t so black-and-white with me, werewolf, I wanted to snarl. I only hunt those who deserve death. Those the world would be better off without. And that includes you and your brother.

He paused in his musings, waiting for me to say something. Anything. But I said nothing, glaring fixedly at him, waiting for any chance to strike.

Kill. Kill. Kill.

“You’re a woman of few words, Hunter,” he said, somehow recognizing that he was dealing with the deadly part of me, not the girl I was when he first revealed himself, mere minutes ago.

“I tend not to waste time talking with dogs,” I said, throwing venom into my voice. “When I could be putting them down instead.”

Strike, Reese, my inner voice said. He’ll be making his move soon. He’ll want to avenge his friend.

Not yet, I responded. I need to time this right.

But I don’t know what it is I’m waiting for. An opening? A moment of weakness? A distraction?

He won’t give me a moment the strike. He knows who I am. He knows that though I haven’t targeted him yet, I plan on doing it sometime soon. He knows that since he knows my identity now, my cover is blown. I’d have to kill him in order to keep myself - and Opal and Kyle - safe.

He saw the calculating look slide across my face, replacing the glare, and his eyes narrowed. “You can’t kill me, Hunter,” he said, telling me what I already knew. “Though you must be confident after killing Ryker,” he nodded once again to the dead body. “He’s a lap dog compared to me. Compared to the Alpha.”

Something about his cold, uncaring demeanor irked me.

“Don’t you care?” I blurted out. “Your friend - you’re best friend, rumored to be your Beta if you ever become Alpha - is dead. Doesn’t that upset you at all? Instead, you stand there, insulting him, like he’s just some pile of trash you throw away without thinking twice about it.”

“You misunderstand my emotions, Reese,” he said. “I will mourn the death of my friend - after you’re taken care of, that is. The Alpha’s been dying to meet you, after all, and now that he knows who you are...”

The Alpha knows who I am? Is he nearby?

The color drained from my face. I prayed he was bluffing.

Taken in my expression, his grin returned, triumphant, telling me that no, he’s serious. “My brother isn’t here, Reese,” he said. “But there are sentries posted all over the city, one always within... mind shot... of another. All it took was one thought of your name - Reese Hearne - one mental conversation, and the name was passed through the minds of every wolf between here and the packhouse.”

Mind linking.

Yet another skill the werewolves had, another reason they were the superior Supernatural beings. Being able to communicate mentally - a sort of telepathy, I guess - allows them to speak without anybody who isn’t a part of their pack overhearing.

And now every wolf between here and the packhouse knows who I am... knows what I look like... knows what I sound like...

My cover is completely blown, even if I somehow manage to kill Nicholas. If I do emerge from the battle victorious, it won’t matter. I’ll have to disappear again, leave Opal, come up with a new identity...

He finally moved - quick, a blur, moving like the wind, and he was suddenly in front of me, knocking the dagger out of my hand, hissing in pain as his skin made contact with the silver. I jolted with surprise, now defenseless, as he grabbed my wrist. On instinct, I tried jerking my hand away, trying to wrench free from his grasp - but he held me iron-tight, his hand unyielding.

“There’s no point in fighting, Reese,” he said patiently, staring, amused, at my attempt to free myself. “If I don’t bring you in, somebody else will. And I can’t guarantee they’ll be as... patient... like me.”

Meaning, he can’t guarantee they won’t be more like Ryker. I shuddered at the thought.

I thought over all of my options, lightning-fast. If I went with Nicholas - ultimately leading to my eventual death, I keep Opal and Kyle safe. But I’ll also be leaving an entire city full of people at the mercy of the supernatural beings...

The old me, the person I was before the Takeover, would have chosen to save my friends in a heartbeat. But the person I am now won’t sit still and let humans be trampled on.

You’re out of time, Reese, went my inner voice. You must strike now!

I sighed, as if in defeat, and stopped fighting, allowing my shoulders to slump, my eyes trained on the ground. He tugged my arm, and I stumbled forward a few steps, offering up no fight.

Then exploded into action.

My leg kicked out and up, and he staggered back, wheezing, clutching his crotch in pain. The moment his grip on my wrist slackened, I lunged to the side, crawling for my dagger, as he quickly recovered - curse the accelerated healing of werewolves - as he dove after me, grabbing my ankle, rolling me onto my back, straddling me when my fingers were barely grazing the hilt of the dagger.

“Goddamn it, Reese!” he cursed. “You don’t give up, do you?”

I tried stretching my arm further, my heart pounding as my fingers started rolling the dagger closer to me.

He saw the action and grabbed my arm, forcing it away from the dagger, pinning it to my side. I swore and struggled to get free, thrashing about. I managed to get within range of his arm and sunk my teeth into the soft flesh.

His eyes darkened as he started allowing his inner wolf to gain more control over him, and my stomach plummeted as I saw the bite mark on his arm - still leaking blood - begin closing up. My survival instinct rose up, and - with a strength I didn’t know I possessed - I threw him off of me, sending him sprawling, spitting and cursing in anger, as I quickly rolled back onto my stomach and grabbed the dagger, just as his hands - halfway transitioned into wolf paws, looking like something out of a horror movie - closed on my waist, dragging my closer. I rolled back onto my back, grinning up at him, the odd strength still flowing through my veins. He saw the dagger in my hand, and his eyes widened, quickly, he tried getting out of range of the deadly metal.

But - what? - he was too slow. With speed I certainly didn’t possess, I shot forward, a human bullet, and slashed the dagger deep into his throat.

He gagged, literally choking on the swear word he was surely trying to throw at me - or maybe it was his own blood. From experience, it’s probably a mix of the two.

I stared at him, coldly, as he died, though triumph started flooding through my veins.

Though, moments after he died, a long, mournful howl echoed through the trees. Not far away.

There were more wolves nearby. They’d smell the blood, and they’d come looking for the source. They’d know something wasn’t right.

Without another glance at the two dead werewolves lying within feet of one another, I turned and raced away, knowing I’d have to move quickly if I wanted to disappear off of the face of the Earth for the third time in seven years.

I’ve killed the Alpha’s brother.

He’ll know about it soon enough.

And, if he’s anything like me, he’ll be out for blood.

My blood.

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