The trio of Gabriel, Breena and Apollo were summoned to the compound to help in the coming fight with the forces of the White Alpha. The three of them, along with everyone else at the mansion knew there was little chance of any of them surviving the night. Grace was bringing an army with her and she wanted Zeus’s head for a trophy.
Once they were safely in the mansion, Oz led them to the others.
“They’re coming,” Gabriel began as soon as he saw Zeus, “Apollo said there are hundreds of them gathered around the perimeter of the compound in the woods. Most of them are on the south and east side of the compound.”
“This ends tonight. One way or the other, it ends tonight!” Zeus declared.
Gabriel, Breena and Apollo had just entered the mansion of the compound, undetected. They arrived at the request of Oz to help the master warlock Zeus in bringing down the White Alpha once and for all. The trio were also about to meet the American warlocks.
“That would make sense, for all their strength, most shifters are inherently lazy, but who is Apollo?” Anthony asked.
Gabriel turned his head and saw the American master warlock standing in the corner.
“Apollo is my friend, and my adopted brother,” Gabriel answered.
“Gabriel, this is Anthony, a master warlock from America. Anthony, this is my grandson, Gabriel, also a warlock,” Zeus said as he introduced the two.
“I am THE master warlock of America,” Anthony added.
He reached out to shake Gabriel’s hand. The much smaller American had always disliked people bigger than him and he already didn’t like Gabriel. He was too big, and he was too young. The big ones always thought they were stronger, but they rarely were. Besides, Anthony was certain Gabriel was much too young to really be a warlock. It took many years of hard work, training and dedication to pass the skills tests to be certified as a warlock. Zeus must have pulled some strings to get Gabriel certified. Anthony decided right then to put the pup in his place.
As he grasped Gabriel’s hand to shake it, Anthony was determined to show the young warlock what he was made of. He spent many hours a day making his hands, wrists, and forearms extremely strong. As a master with any kind of blade, it was necessary. He took a firm grip on Gabriel’s hand and began to squeeze with all his might.
Gabriel looked directly into the American’s eyes and never flinched. Apollo began to growl and moved toward Anthony. Without taking his eyes off the American, Gabriel called him off.
“It’s okay Apollo, he doesn’t understand,” Gabriel said.
At that moment, there were several things that concerned Anthony. His grip was strong enough to crush a coconut and yet Gabriel seemed impervious to either the crushing pressure, or the pain. The young warlock also believed he could talk to the massive grey wolf, and the wolf seemed to understand as well.
Anthony was glad the wolf had backed away, it was the largest true wolf he’d ever seen. Even though it was no longer growling, it was still uncomfortably close to his backside. It looked like it could bite halfway through him if it chose to attack.
“Can you use your left hand as well as you do your right?” Gabriel asked the American.
“I am completely ambidextrous,” Anthony started, “Why do you…”
At that moment, Gabriel started to slowly return the squeeze on Anthony’s hand. He wanted to get his attention, not cripple him for life. Almost immediately the American warlock knew he had made a grave mistake. He now understood Gabriel could easily crush his hand and was on the verge of doing it. He tried not to, but he couldn’t help but wince from the pain.
“If you two are done seeing who’s the biggest macho man?” said Jaida, “We will need everyone to work together if any of us is going to survive the coming attack.”
The two men released their grip on each other and stepped back away from each other and looked at the slim woman wearing the red leather and carbon composite warlock clothing. As soon as they parted, Apollo stepped in front of Gabriel and sat staring at Anthony. It made the American warlock very uneasy.
“Surviving is not the goal, destroying the White Alpha is!” said both Zeus and Gabriel at the exact same time.
Jaida looked at Breena and the two of them just shook their heads. Then the two women smiled at each other. They liked each other instantly and walked quickly to the center of the room and introduced themselves.
“I’m Jaida,” said the American warlock.
“I’m Breena, and I’m so glad there is someone else here with common sense,” said Breena.
“Isn’t that the truth,” started Jaida, “without us, this would probably be a massacre. Why do men always want to die in battle?”
“Exactly, it’s almost like they don’t want to grow old with us,” Breena answered.
“You know we can hear you, don’t you?” Zeus asked.
His question fell on deaf ears. The two women continued to talk and moved over into a corner to get to know each other better. The men gathered in the opposite corner.
“This is why females should never be allowed to become warlocks!” Anthony said.
“Aren’t you the one that insisted the council allow your sister to become the first American female warlock?” Zeus asked.
“Yes, and I have regretted it a thousand times over!” Anthony replied.
After a moment of silence, Oz interjected. No one had seen him enter the room, but he was suddenly in the group, right behind Anthony.
“And that is why you love those two as much as you do,” Oz said.
He was right, each man in the group, and wolf, loved at least one of the women with all their hearts. Oz always seemed to know the perfect thing to say to make people think and to get them back on track.
“Now, we need to talk about what is coming,” Oz continued. “It will last most of the night, if we survive. I have switched the automatic defenses on. We can only expect them to take out the first fifty or so shifters. After that, the ammo will be gone. The machine guns were never intended to do more than discourage a small attacking force, not an army. No one on the council ever foresaw a time when the shifters would be bold enough to mount such a massive force against a warlock.”
By now the two women had joined the group and were listening to the plans for the upcoming fight. Breena was leaning against Gabriel’s side and Jaida was leaning on Zeus’s. Even as he talked, Oz couldn’t help but notice how attuned the two women were to their partners.
“Waiting for them to descend upon the mansion and come charging through the front door is not a good strategy. Some of us will need to be out in the courtyard, fighting to keep the bulk of the shifters away from the main building. Those who are outside will need room to maneuver,” Oz said.
“I will be out in the yard, along with Apollo,” Gabriel volunteered.
“Why you?” asked Anthony, still rubbing his hand.
“Because we have been taking Zeus’s formula for years and should be immune to the shifter virus. Zeus is immune, in his own way, but the two of you are not. Even if you survived, you’d likely be infected,” Gabriel explained.
Despite the obvious challenge from the American master warlock, Gabriel liked him. If they managed to make it through the night, he thought they might even become friends.
“I will be out in the yard as well,” Breena added.
Anthony looked at her and scoffed, “Do you even know how to fight? I mean, we are talking about shifters…werewolves, young lady. I understand why Gabriel and the wolf want to be out there, but I’m pretty sure you aren’t immune and I’m certain, you’re not even a warlock.”
Breena completely ignored Anthony and looked over at Jaida instead.
“How have you managed to put up with him for so long?” she asked Jaida.
“When he’s your twin, you have no choice. I love him, but he has lots of issues,” Jaida answered.
Anthony was smart enough to keep his mouth shut this time. He didn’t like the thought of the two women ganging up on him, so he knew better than to respond. Jaida decided to try to talk some sense into him.
“Brother, Oz told us that he believed Gabriel was superior to Zeus and that Apollo and Breena might be just as skilled? I think we’re all on somewhat equal footing here and we need to listen to Oz and act accordingly. I know you’re not used to taking orders, but please try,” Jaida explained to her brother.
Oz, where do you want the rest of us?” Zeus asked.
“If Breena, Apollo and Gabriel are outside, then Jaida and Anthony will be on the rooftop deck with rifles. They can do a great deal of damage from there and we have plenty of silver bullets.
If the fighting moves inside, everyone will need to fall back and use the doorways as bottlenecks for the shifters. Jaida and Anthony will come down from the roof and take the third floor. Gabriel, Apollo and Breena will take the second floor. Zeus and I will fall back to the gym.
Remember to use the shifter’s natural urges against them. Their prey instinct will force them to chase, so they can be lured into the doorways and hallways, where only one or two at a time will fit. That is where your blades will do the most damage,” explained Oz.
“Why am I assigned to the gym?” asked Zeus.
He knew he could do a lot more damage if he was free to roam the complex at will. What was the little man really planning?
“It is likely that we will be dealing with several waves of shifters. Everyone must be ready, but you must also rest when you can. They will try to wear us down. The last wave will be the deadliest. I don’t believe we will see the White Alpha until the final wave,” Oz explained to the group, then he turned and addressed Zeus, “That is why you must stay in reserve. If you are going to have any chance of killing her, you will need to be fresh and well rested. You have the most important and most dangerous job of all,” Oz answered.
“Do you think you can bring her down all by yourself?” Gabriel asked the master warlock.
“With some luck, and all of you helping, we might just pull it off,” answered Zeus, “At least I hope so. This is no longer a suicide mission, I now have a reason to live.”
“And that reason is?” Jaida asked as she looked up into his eyes.
“I should have said several reasons to live,” Zeus began, “The first is you. I love you Jaida and I want to spend the rest of my days with you, not with shifters. The second is Gabriel and Breena. I want to watch their love grow and see what it brings, perhaps even a great grand-child or two.
Finally, I want to live because if I don’t, that would leave only Oz to change the diapers and read bedtime stories for the great grand-children. That would be more than I could ever imagine putting a child through!”
That caused both the women to giggle and Gabriel to laugh outright. Oz looked from face to face, confused about what was so funny about him changing diapers. Anthony shrugged and walked off to gather his weapons and to prepare for the battle.
As the group started to disperse, Gabriel touched Zeus on the sleeve. As the master warlock looked at him he gave him the news.
“If we survive, I’ve asked Breena to marry me. I hope you will be my best man,” Gabriel asked.
With a tear in his eye, Zeus shook his head up and down. He hugged Gabriel for several long minutes. As Jaida stood next to him, he reached out and grabbed her hand. As he released Gabriel, he turned to her.
“I think it would be much more efficient if we made it a double wedding,” Zeus said to her.
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” Jaida squealed.
Breena hugged her. The two women walked off and began planning their upcoming wedding. As the two walked out of the room, Zeus, Gabriel and Apollo were left standing there.
“It may be the last thing we do, but we’ve made them happy,” Zeus said.
“I know, I was thinking the same thing,” Gabriel added, “I’ve fought the White Alpha and I don’t think many of us are going to survive this. Somehow, we have to make sure she dies tonight.”
“I agree,” Zeus said, “the top priority must be for the White Alpha to die. If that happens, then all our sacrifices will be worth it. I really would have loved to have seen those grand-babies though.”
“Me too,” said Gabriel.
With that, the two men parted ways and went to prepare for the fight. Oz had been around the corner and had heard their conversation. As he suspected, the two men were putting on a brave front for the two women, but neither planned on surviving the fight. He knew Zeus was too invested in getting revenge for the death of his wife and the loss of his daughter, but he had hoped Gabriel would be more reasonable. The young man had so much to live for.
The tiny man knew it would cost him his family, but he had already decided that neither man would die this night if he could help it. If he had to, he would take down the White Alpha himself. That would cause him to be immediately recalled by the others of his kind, and he would be forbidden to travel to any other dimensions for the rest of his life. He didn’t care, it would be worth it!
After all these years, he had finally evolved to the point where he could experience something his species never did. Oz finally knew what love really felt like. In the back of his mind he knew that others of his kind would say he had de-evolved. He disagreed, but either way, he was glad for whatever had happened to him.
After all the years of living with Zeus, he had learned affection and closeness, but never true love. He had a great deal of affection for Gabriel’s mother, Stazia, but until now, he had never truly understood love. Now that he was fully prepared to sacrifice everything, he finally understood what it was about.
As he stood there thinking, Breena came up to him to see if he had any food. The young couple hadn’t eaten in a while and it would be a long night. She also wanted to make sure there was plenty of water available if Gabriel needed it. She wasn’t going to explain the truth to Oz, but she was going to make sure she was ready if the young warlock ended up using his fire elemental form.
Oz asked her to follow him as he had sandwiches and fresh vegetables waiting. As they walked to the kitchen, Oz had a question for Breena.
“If one of the others is injured tonight, can you heal them the way you did Zeus?” he asked.
“I doubt it,” Breena answered, “especially the two Americans. When I tried to heal Zeus, I didn’t know I could, it was just a reaction to his pain. I think it only worked on him because he’s a shifter. Somehow, the shifter virus is associated with my kind. I’ve never heard of one of my kind being able to heal a human. If we are strong enough, we might be able to heal an animal, but it always works best on our own kind. I’m still not sure how it works, I’m still learning. Grandfather was the expert, but even he didn’t foresee me getting that ability as well.”
Oz simply nodded. He wanted to hold Breena in reserve to be able to use her to heal either Gabriel or Zeus if needed, but he knew she would never stand for that. He doubted if either of the men would either. He gave Breena a plate full of food, some raw meat for Apollo, and a bag full of bottled waters, as she requested.
As the young woman walked away, he filled another platter with food and went to offer some to the others as well. It was going to be a long night and it was just beginning. As he glanced at the clock, he mentally noted the moon would be rising within the hour. He didn’t believe they would see the first wave until about an hour or two after that.
He delivered sandwiches, fruit and water to Anthony who was already on the stairs that led up to the rooftop deck. Then he found Zeus sitting in his office on the couch with Jaida curled up on his lap. He sat the food and water on the side table next to the master warlock.
“It’s time for you to leave old friend,” Zeus said.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Oz replied.
“I know how important your beliefs are to you and I don’t want to be the reason for you breaking your vows,” Zeus said. “You mean too much to me and to Gabriel.”
Oz ignored him, “I have hardwired the cameras in the house to record everything said and done tonight. I had to remove the cameras when we were being watched by the Alpha on our own equipment. Those cameras were transmitting their signals wirelessly, which is how the Alpha and Dr. Connors were stealing our signal.
According to my contact in the government, an expert in the American spy satellite’s capabilities, there is a way to stop the signal from being captured, even with hardwiring the cameras. By changing the frequency to an ultra-low output, it should prevent anyone outside the compound from being able to spy on us,” Oz said.
“And why is that important now?” Zeus asked.
He was fully aware the little man was ignoring his plea, but he also knew there was always a reason for everything Oz said and did. Right now, he wanted to know what was so important about having the cameras working tonight.
“Because once the fight begins, I’m going to broadcast it to the Canadian Prime Minister’s private media account, as well as both the Canadian Warlock Council and the American Warlock Council. Both will find it difficult to make excuses for allowing so many shifters to go unreported. It will also prove the actual existence of the White Alpha. She has managed to stay hidden for far too long. Once she is seen, they will have to understand the threat she poses to all humans,” Oz answered.
“So, even if we lose, we might be able to bring down the White Alpha after all?” Zeus asked.
He was talking to himself as much as he was to Oz. It was a brilliant plan and it might be the only way of stopping the White Alpha if they lost the fight. It gave him some comfort to know his death might still result in death for the one that killed his beloved Isabella.
Zeus had no delusions of surviving the attack. He truly did love Jaida, but he had dreamed of avenging the loss of his wife and daughter for far too long. There was nothing in him that would allow him to back away now. He had no hope of simply defeating the White Alpha and walking away. His only hope was that he could somehow mortally wound her, or at least hurt her bad enough that Gabriel might be able to finish the job, before he too died at her hands. It wouldn’t bring Isabella or Stazia back, but perhaps it would bring peace to their souls.
However, if the master warlock knew Gabriel might assume an animal form capable of wiping out all of humanity, he might not even go through with the fight. He wasn’t so far gone that he was willing to sacrifice every human on the planet for his revenge.
Breena had already decided to let Oz know. If things got as bad as the little man said they were going to get, she needed him to know what might happen. She wasn’t sure how to explain it to him, or if he would even listen. She trusted him, a rare thing for her kind when it came to outsiders, and she didn’t know why. Perhaps, it was because she was certain he was one of the ancient ones, a species that had been visiting Earth since time began, even before the Scythians existed.
She knew they could only observe and never interfere, but she felt compelled to make sure the tiny man knew what Gabriel was capable of. Of them all, he might be the only one with the ability to stop Gabriel. If she could find the time to be alone with the tiny man, she’d make sure he understood. Unfortunately, time was something they didn’t have.