As soon as the new guards had returned to the cave, Breena, Gabriel and Apollo headed for the compound. They would be there well before nightfall, but that would cause them a problem. Breena had already explained that if the White Alpha was planning on attacking tonight, she would have some way of watching the compound as she prepared. They would need to get into the compound without being seen, but how?
About two miles from the compound’s perimeter, the trio stopped to rest and discuss their options. Breena and Gabriel were breathing deeply, but Apollo looked like he had been resting. Gabriel knew something was very different about the wolf, but he wasn’t sure what yet.
“You were in your wolf form running with me, and Apollo has been running ahead to scout for us returning every mile or so, and he’s not even breathing hard. How’s that possible?” Gabriel asked Breena as the wolf turned to run ahead again and check out the area between them and the compound.
Breena was worried and conflicted. She never wanted to lie to Gabriel, nor did she want to conceal anything from him, even if it was for his own good. She decided then and there she wasn’t going to do either.
“It’s the gift. Grandfather gave Apollo a portion of my half of the gift. Because of it, he has developed tremendous speed, and evidently a greatly improved cardiovascular system. Extreme exertion doesn’t seem to have much effect on him now,” Breena answered.
Gabriel took a minute to let that sink in. Apollo had some of the gift too? Why hadn’t Breena told him? How long had she known? Rather than be hurt about it, Gabriel decided to be thankful Breena was telling him the truth when he asked her a question.
“So, the gift changes us in different ways?” Gabriel asked.
“In a way, yes. It’s probably better to say the gift brings out the strongest aspects of who we really are and then it enhances those qualities,” Breena answered. “I’ve never been able to heal anyone until I received the gift. Obviously, Apollo now has great speed and he will be able to handle shifters and mercenaries even better than before.”
“But what about me? I don’t feel any different and I haven’t noticed anything that seems stronger about me,” Gabriel asked.
Breena had to giggle. Gabriel just looked at her with a puzzled expression. Was it something he said?
“Gabriel, with all of the changes you have been going through, how would we know which one was from the gift? You’ve never been a fire elemental before, nor has there ever been one who could hold the form as long as you did. That might be the ability the gift has given you, or it might just be how strong you already were. It’s possible that whatever enhancement you’ve been given, hasn’t even shown itself yet,” Breena explained.
Gabriel just nodded. Without warning Breena grabbed him by the back of the neck and kissed him deeply.
“What was that for?” Gabriel asked as the kiss ended.
“Because I love you and I want to do that every chance I get,” Breena said.
“I was going to wait for the right time, but…well, I was hoping once this was all over, that maybe…you’d consider…” Gabriel started.
“Of course, I would love to be your wife,” Breena said softly.
There had never been a moment in Gabriel’s life where he felt like he did at this moment. He was beyond sheer joy and almost giddy at the thought this beautiful young woman could feel the same way about him that he did her. He picked her off the ground and kissed her just as deeply as she had him. The kiss lasted less than a minute, but it felt like eternity for the young couple.
“I’ve got it!” said Breena suddenly.
“You’ve got what?” Gabriel asked.
“I know how to get us into the compound unseen, but we’ll need to wait until dusk and the shadows are starting to spread across the ground,” Breena answered.
Gabriel looked at the sun’s position on the horizon and guessed they would have less than an hour to get into position. It was more than enough time for them to cover the two miles to the compound’s perimeter. At that moment, Gabriel didn’t care about the details of Breena’s plan, he only knew he had more than enough time for another kiss.
Far above the couple, in the top of a massive redwood tree, the watcher had seen and heard everything. Gabriel was going to get married! He was happy, but he was worried. Did the young warlock have any idea what he was getting himself into?
Trying to lead a Scythian Clan was hard enough for someone as powerful and as experienced as Grandfather or Yellow-mane, but for a pair of young ones the task might be impossible. If only he could be talked out of it, but then he had little choice now he had the gift inside him.
As he watched, Apollo came running back to the kissing couple. He seemed excited about something, but the watcher couldn’t tell what it was. Down below, Apollo was reporting what he’d discovered on his scouting trip.
“Many men in the woods. They try to surround the compound,” Apollo told the young couple.
“Do they have any weapons?” Gabriel asked the grey wolf.
“No,” he answered.
“Then they are shifters. All of them are shifters,” Gabriel explained. “If they had weapons, then they would be mercenaries, but if they aren’t carrying weapons, then THEY are the weapons. They have to be shifters. If they are coming from Vancouver, they will be coming in from the south and east. We’re coming in from the Northwest, so we will have a chance of avoiding most of them.”
“We need to get into position and be ready to move as soon as the sun drops below the treetops,” Breena said.
As one they began to move out. Apollo led the way, but he made sure not to run too far ahead or out of sight of the other two. As they neared the spot where Breena was going to launch her plan from, they had to drop out of sight as two men came around the trees toward them.
Luckily, neither of the men had seen the trio. Unluckily for the two men, they were headed right to where the trio was laying in the brush. As the two men were almost on top of them, Apollo suddenly bolted.
At first, Gabriel thought the wolf might be trying to divert the men’s attention. The sight of a grey wolf running in these woods would not be out of the ordinary. It took only a second for Gabriel to understand what Apollo was really doing.
As the wolf jumped up and ran to the north, the two men stopped and stared at him. As they were watching him run off through the woods, both men looked uneasily at each other. The moon was not yet in the sky, and the men had not yet shifted. They were unarmed and until they shifted they would have little defense against a wild wolf.
As the two men stood staring, Apollo came racing back at them at tremendous speed. The wolf was little more than a blur as he ran right at the men. Before either of them could say anything, their throats were ripped open and the two of them were lying in a pool of blood not ten feet from Gabriel and Breena.
By the time the two shifters hit the ground, Apollo was already setting next to the young couple.
“Not men,” Apollo’s thoughts were loud in Gabriel’s mind.
“I know brother, I know,” Gabriel answered.
“Gabriel, once we head for the compound, I need you to forget about me and Apollo,” Breena whispered.
“What are you talking about?” Gabriel whispered back.
“You know what I’m talking about. Be the warlock you’re trained to be. Apollo and I can take care of ourselves. If we are going to lead the clan and defeat our enemies, we need to learn to trust one another and our individual abilities. If you spend time trying to keep an eye out for me or Apollo, it could cost you your life and we could never live with that,” Breena insisted.
Gabriel thought for a moment before responding.
“I will do my best to leave you two to your own fighting, but if I see you in need I will be there, just as I know you will be there for me,” Gabriel answered.
“Agreed, if I need you, you will hear me. I love you with all my heart,” Breena said, and then she kissed him.
“Agreed,” said Gabriel as the kiss ended.
“Agreed,” added Apollo.
“Once we get inside the compound’s wall, be ready for anything. I hope Oz has the automatic defenses turned off, but anything can happen. If they start to fire at us, split up and move fast,” Gabriel warned them.
He knew Breena would be able to assume her black mist form and would be impervious to the bullets. Apollo would be able to outrun them if he reacted fast enough. It was himself he wasn’t so sure about. The guns were run by radar, so they would be able to lock onto Gabriel. He was just hoping Oz had them deactivated.
With that, the trio ventured out to the edge of the woods. Standing in the deep shadows of an enormous evergreen, they watched as the sun dipped below the trees. It wouldn’t be fully dark for another hour, but thanks to the trees and mountains surrounding the North side of the compound, it was already getting dark from the shadows. It was that weird mix of light in the sky and yet darkness spreading across the ground. This is what Breena had been waiting for.
“Stay close together. I will need to keep my shadow very loose, anything that looks too uniform and solid will draw attention. The edges will be translucent, but my center will be solid black. You won’t be able to see out of my shadow, but I will guide you. Stay right behind Apollo,” Breena explained to Gabriel.
As soon as she said it, she was gone, and in her place, was a dense black mist. At first it was the size of Breena, then it began to grow. By the time Apollo began to move forward, with Gabriel right behind him, the black mist had spread to the size of a mini-van. True to her word, the edges of the mist were ragged and see-through, but the center, where Apollo and Gabriel were walking, was a solid black.
Moving slowly at first, the mist began to move faster across the opening between the woods and the compound’s northern wall. It never moved in a straight line, or at the same pace either. It zig-zagged back and forth and slowed down and sped up randomly. Gabriel was slightly disoriented by the changes in speed and direction, but in his mind, he could imagine the phenomenon looked quite natural to anyone observing it. At least he hoped it did.
After several minutes, the trio finally reached the wall. Breena led them to the Northwest corner where the compound was already in deep shadows and she blended in perfectly. As soon as Apollo saw the wall, he leaped over it and Gabriel followed. Breena anticipated the movement and covered them completely.
Once over the wall they moved quickly toward the compound. Gabriel directed Breena to the garage. They quickly entered the side door and shut it behind them. Once inside, Gabriel went to the intercom on the wall beside the limo and clicked it on.
“We are here, we’re coming in through the tunnel,” he said into the microphone.
He didn’t wait for a reply, he knew Oz would hear them. He led the group into the maintenance bay under the vehicle. He tapped a code into the wall unit and the heavy steel door opened. The tunnel was flooded with red light, once the steel door shut behind them, the lights switched from red to white. The young warlock led them to the heavy stone door at the opposite end. As they reached the door, Oz was opening it for them.
“I’m glad you made it,” Oz began, “I had the guns turned off, but I had the radars on, so I would know when you crossed the open area between the main building and the perimeter wall. The radars never detected anything, therefore, they are either defective or you are extremely talented.”
Gabriel looked at Breena, hoping she would explain it to Oz. Especially since he wasn’t even sure what to say or how she had managed such a thing. The full extent of her powers was still a mystery to him.
“I used a Romulan Cloaking device,” she said with a smile.
Oz laughed, and Gabriel was more confused than ever. His time growing up did not include watching the original Star Trek series. He had no idea what these two were talking about. Even after Oz tried to explain it, he had no idea how either Breena or Oz knew so much about a 1960’s TV series, as neither of them seemed to watch any television. The young warlock just shook his head and walked up the stairs. As soon as he opened the door at the top of the stairs, Gabriel saw Zeus.
“They are coming,” Gabriel began. “Apollo said there are hundreds of them gathered in the woods, but most are on the south and east side of the compound.”
“This ends tonight. One way or the other, it ends tonight!” Zeus declared.