Standing on a cliff, Kona faced the sunrise. Her black dress flapped in the wind, pressing against her body. Her white hair wildly twisted with the current. She stood in the world without fences, without walls, with an endless horizon.
Below, in the valley, a force of two hundred wolves gathered. They were a unified pack, divided by strength and talents. In the center of their congregation, stood their Alpha. Lukas was no older than fifteen. Lorcan’s heir. His orange hair was a flame in the light. A flame among a wildfire.
When she had killed Lorcan, she hadn’t thought anyone would grieve his death. It was naive thinking. He had been somebody’s father, somebody’s brother, somebody’s mate. In an instant she had become exactly like Daxon, the man that had murder her own father and set her life into a chaotic storm. These wolves hated her, like she hated him. It was a circle that Kona didn’t know how to escape from.
On her right stood Beta Alec. He was counting, formulating a plan. He was the brains despite already being the brawn. Unlike Kona, Alec had been taught how to win battles.
On her left stood Tally. His objective was slightly different from Alec. He didn’t want to go to war. He was searching for a diplomatic approach. A way for Kona to remain safe.
Mason, her brother, stood several feet back. He encouraged neither a fight or peace talks. He wanted to run. It was well known his fighting skills were below par. Mason had no intention of hurting anyone.
“What do we do?” Kona questioned, as stupid as it sounded. She was the Alpha. She was supposed to be the one with answers. But she never learned how to lead and aside from constantly getting them into trouble, she didn’t know to get them out of it.
“They outnumber us, two to one.” Alec answered. “But they don’t have you.”
Tally grit his teeth, “She shouldn’t be fighting.”
“She is Alpha. It is her place.”
“Do you want to save her or kill her, Beta Alec?”
“Watch yourself, gamma. Or do I need to put you in your place? Again?”
The three thin scars on Tally’s cheek were enough reminder. Tally gave no reply.
“This is stupid.” Mason added. “Let’s run! We’re in the middle of Canada. Let’s just go.”
“And defile her honor?” Alec questioned.
“What does it matter about her honor? We’re gonna die. Tally.” Mason called, “She can’t fight.”
Tally secretly agreed with that. Kona was not this war-torn veteran. She was twenty years old, fresh out of her parents’ home. She shouldn’t be in the middle of any of this. But Alec was also right. They had to fight. Kona was already a target simply for being a female Alpha. If word got around that she was a coward, even cowards would try to kill her.
Kona turned from the cliff and bypassed her entourage. Only a few feet into the woods her followers gathered. A hundred lycan, some remaining in wolf form while others were standing in their bioforms, naked but ready for war. The women had the foresight to bring clothes and thanks to one of them, Kona received her dress. A few men brought bags of knives and guns, their minds on more violent things. They all stopped their movements and conversation to stand in her presence, greeting her.
Kona stood in the middle, observing the new additions to her pack. Most of which she stole from Lorcan. They were red haired and white skinned, the family of the Bisset. There were other family bloodlines too. The Delphi, black skin with tribal markings. The Awali, with four fingers instead of five. Then there were cave pack wolves, mutts, horribly scarred from their brutal lifestyle. But they were all here, choosing her.
Standing there in the array of color, Kona felt different for the first time. She had snow white hair, white eyebrows, and bright glacier blue eyes. Aside from Alec and Mason, she was it. The last of her family’s bloodline.
Only two weeks ago she was surrounded by uncles, aunts, cousins, her father, her mother, her three brothers, over a hundred family members. Now most were dead, including her father while ours were taken, like her mother. Her younger brothers were missing, and she had no idea if they were dead or alive.
Out there, somewhere, the left over remnants of her family lived on.
It gave her the will to keep moving despite the fight ahead. She was going to find her family again. Every last member.
“I don’t know why you chose me. I don’t know why you left Lorcan’s pack. But I don’t care. From this point on, we are family. We live for each other. We die for each other. I can’t offer you much. But what I will offer is victory. Fight for me and we will survive.”
The cheers and howls filled her pride. Any remaining wolf that hadn’t yet pledged themselves quickly came over. Kona could hear their excitement in her head. She didn’t know their names. She didn’t know what kind of people they were. But it didn’t matter now. They were a Lykanos Pack, her pack.
“Gunmen stay in the trees.” Kona ordered. “My fighters, half of you with me, the other half with Beta Alec. Mason, you will take the women and children up the mountain.”
“No, I don’t want to be separated from you.”
Kona felt her wolf growl in her chest. Disobedience was like a diseased carcass. The rot would infect the others. Even if he was her brother, Mason needed to learn his place. “This is not a discussion. Do what I say.”
She turned from him so he couldn’t talk back, lest she do something she regretted.
Tally was quickly at her shoulder, “Alpha Kona, may I have a word?”
Kona didn’t want to talk. She knew what he was going to do. He was going to bring up Lorcan. There wasn’t time for it. She couldn’t stop and think. She couldn’t weaken. She was already free falling. There was no point in reaching for a parachute.
In the trees, away from the crowd, she turned to him.
“Are you alright?” He immediately wondered. “What happened with Lorcan? Did he touch you? How did you defeat him?”
Kona could still see it: Lorcan on top of her, kissing her, threatening her family to get her to react. Then she could feel it, her fingers pressing into his ribcage, the bones snapping like twigs. She could taste it. The blood pooling in her mouth, the tough muscle of his neck ripping like jerky.
“Alpha.” Tally whispered, a hand reaching for her but he dropped it, leaning in instead, “Let us fight for you. You’ve been through enough.”
Kona snapped back, “I’m not weak, Tally.”
His brows knit as he straightened, “No, Alpha, I wasn’t--”
“Stay with the gunmen. You will be the last line if anyone slips by.”
Tally latched onto her bicep but the look in her eye made him release her, “I’m a fighter, Alpha. My place is with you.”
Their last conversation Tally confessed he was in love with her. Kona had dreamed of a moment just like that. Her feelings for Tally had gone hidden for so long, replying hadn’t happened as quickly as it should have. He walked out without a response. She had all the nerve to tell him now but Lorcan’s face replaced Tally’s. In front of her, he stood with a gash in his neck, revealing the broken bones and ripped muscles. Blood continued to drip, forming a pool at his feet. And in the wind of the trees, she could hear his choking. His gasps. Blood filled his lungs and he coughed, spraying her with droplets of red paint.
Kona turned her head. There were times when Tally only strengthened her. His faith in her managed to replace her lack of confidence. But then there were times where he weakened her. When he was with her, all she wanted to do was curl into him for protection.
Kona kept moving. “Do as I tell you.”
“Very well.” Tally clenched every muscle in his body as she walked away. He wanted to stay with her, to protect her, to keep her from killing needlessly, but staying with her was getting harder. He told her he loved her and she had said nothing in return. His pride was all but shattered.
Tally knew ever since he was child that Kona wasn’t meant for someone like him. He didn’t dare hope for anything more than to be her soldier. But yet, foolishly, day after day of watching her, admiring her, he fell in love with her. Now every day to follow, he’ll suffer for exposing the truth and getting nothing in return.
Kona looked over her shoulder, making sure she was alone. Then she slipped the dress off her shoulders. It pooled at her feet and she stepped over it. As she moved, her toes became claws, white hair grew up her legs, over her belly; her hands, now paws touched the floor. Her face twisted and grew. Her wolf form was as big as a moose and much more powerful. Kona howled, the call of battle. Her pack’s footprints were an avalanche as they raced toward her.
Beta Alec arrived at her flank, ‘The Alpha is our goal.’
Her wolf knew this, accepted the task with eagerness but the human part of her buckled, ‘He’s just a kid.’
‘It is the quickest way to stop the bloodshed. Be assured, you will be their goal. Stay within the circle. Don’t do anything rash.’
Excitement filled her, erasing the human dread, the human doubt. Though she had never participated in a battle, her wolf took control, instinctively knowing what to do. Kona allowed it, sinking into the basic emotions it exhibited. Wolves were so simplistic in their wants and needs, it was hard sometimes not to live as a wolf, if only to live stress free.
The hill gave them momentum. They were running, two groups of thirty against a battalion of two hundred. They had been family once but now they belonged to Kona. Their loyalty was with her. Was it possible to retain victory over such a crowd? Did it even matter? This was the life a Lycan yearned for and Kona embraced it with every part of her.
The packs met like waves against a cliffside, some were stopped dead in their tracks, while others splashed into the crowd. Kona jumped up over the line of enemies, seeking the Alpha. Her giant form stood over those in her way, till she could make him out. He was in the center of his own protective circle, fifty wolves between her and him. His eyes, so similar to Lorcan, narrowed upon seeing her.
Kona had no desire to kill anyone. But if life was going to be either kill or be killed, then there was no other choice. Her family needed her.
A wolf was running at her. Kona stood her ground, lowering her head, growling, exposing her long sharp teeth. She jumped the same time as him and they collided but as she knew she would, her strength was more than his own and he landed on his back as she buried her nails into his chest. The wolf howled as blood spurted out.
Lorcan’s body convulsed. Droplets of blood spit out and fell back on his face.
Kona stumbled off. Her head shook as her wolf tried to stop the human thoughts that were clouding its attention.
Another wolf jumped on top of her, their sharp nails cut into her ribs. She whipped her head around, her teeth latching onto his neck, yanking him off.
Blood filled her mouth. Lorcan’s screams filled her ears.
Kona released him, backing away. She licked her chops and the blood nauseated her.
“I can be merciful. But you’re going to have to earn it.”
Kona laid down, her whines sounded like broken water pipes as the wolves fought around her, over her. Bullets from the tree line shot a wolf dead in front of her and his lifeless face stared at her.
‘Alpha Kona, get up!’ Beta Alec ordered from the distance. He smacked one wolf away, trying to reach her. ‘Protect Alpha’ He called to the others.
‘What’s she doing?’
Voices sounded in her head and she closed her eyes to shut them out but the flow of discontent continued.
‘Why isn’t she fighting?’
‘This is what happens with women. This is why they shouldn’t fight.’
‘I’m not fighting for this bitch. I was stupid to think she’d be anything but a disappointment.’
‘She failed us.’
‘How could someone like her kill Lorcan?’
‘The prophecy is a lie.’
A door shut and the chaos that surrounded her vanished in a rush of air. She could breathe again. She could think without the pressure of failure looming above her.
Kona found Tally on the cliffside. Distant, further than she could see, but yet, he was right in her ear, pulling her back on her feet.
Like every time before when she had succumbed to the horrible things that have happened, Tally was there to pick her up. He was always there. He understood her better than anyone. How had she gone so long without realizing how much he loved her?
A wolf landed on her, their fangs burying into her skin and she cried out, howling. She shrunk in size, twisting out of his hold, shoving him.
Kona stood before the wolf in her bioform. White fur covered her breasts and privates like a bathing suit. The excitement in her belly resurfaced, and she greeted her enemy with a smile.
He growled, lowering his head to the floor, a threatening pose that would have intimidated. But Kona was not a human.
The wolf jumped at her. She latched onto his paws, her feet sliding in the dirt as his weight shoved her back. She was eye to eye with the massive beast but her strength did not buckle. Her nails grew, digging in his bones. Kona kicked him in the gut and his body flew across the battlefield.
‘Alpha!’ The hollers reverberated and filled her wolf with an addicting desire. Their voices fed her like the meat from a fresh kill. It revitalized her. Kona turned her attention to Alpha Lukas in the middle. No longer a boy, he was her prey.