The Battle Begins
Oz was in the compound’s control room. He wanted to make sure the cameras were all working. He checked the exterior ones first. They would only record the area within five feet of the mansion’s walls and the front porch. Oz wanted to make sure he didn’t accidentally broadcast anything Breena, Gabriel or Apollo did that couldn’t be easily explained.
The sun had already dropped well below the tree-lined mountains to the west and the moon was rising in the east when he turned them on. They had night-vision and thermal imaging capabilities, so they could still be used in the dark.
Next, he extinguished the exterior lights on all the compound’s buildings. Only the lights on top of the perimeter wall were still on. Even inside the main building, only the emergency lighting was still on. The tiny man had made sure the Americans had a pair of the night-vision contact lenses to use. Gabriel had said that neither he, nor Breena needed them. It appears the young warlock had gone through a metamorphosis since living in the Scythian village.
Neither Oz, nor Zeus would have any trouble seeing in the near dark conditions, and the only reason the emergency lights were left on was to help the cameras see the fight in their night-vision mode. The full moon would provide more than enough light for the exterior cameras. Oz set the cameras to record in their thermal mode as well. Even if they lost all lighting, the cameras would still be able to pick up the heat given off by the shifters and the warlocks.
Zeus was sitting in the middle of the gym and he was already feeling the urge to shift to his wolf form. The twins were atop the main building and the young ones were spaced out in the front courtyard. Breena was on the northeast corner of the main building. Gabriel was on the southeast corner and Apollo was lying next to the administrative building two hundred feet away.
Oz was suddenly aware they were about to receive visitors. At the same time, Apollo knew it too and he made sure Breena and Gabriel were ready. All eyes were on the eastern wall and the main road that led up to the compound’s perimeter wall. Following Oz’s instructions, no one moved or gave away their position in any way. Even the twins, high above the others, remained kneeling, well back from the edge of the front parapet.
Apollo knew the moment the first wave came pouring over the wall. As soon as the shifters dropped onto the ground, the automatic defenses sprang to life. Of the six pairs of the thirty-millimeter Gatling guns, only the two dedicated to the east side of the compound were firing. Anthony leaned forward and surveyed the carnage.
From what he could see, more than twenty of the shifters were cut down before the guns ran out of ammo. As the twins raised up and began firing at anything coming over the wall, the guns on the south side of the compound roared to life. Gabriel was ready. He had both pistols loaded with silver ammo and he had a belt of with more than twenty clips of additional ammo and another dozen placed in the holders in his long, black leather coat.
As before, the automatic guns were quiet less than a minute after they began. Even in that short amount of time, another eighteen shifters had died. As Anthony kept firing at the shifters leaping over the east wall, Jaida was doing the same to those coming over the south wall. As expected, many of the shifters still made it over the wall, even with the expert marksmanship of the Americans.
As the first shifters came racing into the courtyard from the east, Apollo sprang into action. He was moving at an incredible speed. He tore through the abdomen of the first shifter he saw and never slowed down. By the time the creature realized his intestines were pouring onto the ground in front of him, the grey wolf was already attacking his next target.
Breena had no intention of being left out and as the shifters moved toward the front porch of the mansion, they were covered by a dense black mist. One that made it impossible for them to see which way to go and one that contained no breathable air. Several of them were overcome and suffocated before they could act, while several others attempted to leap out of the mist and away from the certain death it provided. Unfortunately for those few, they leaped head-first into the thick stone walls of the mansion.
Gabriel had drawn both guns and had dropped twenty-two shifters with his first twenty-four shots before he was forced to reload. He was managing to keep the shifters well away from his position. In the back of his mind, he knew he had to make sure he kept control of his emotions during the battle.
He might be forced to assume his fire form and he would deal with explaining it to the twins, Oz and Zeus, if they managed to survive, but he had to make sure he didn’t feel threatened beyond that point. He still didn’t know what his animal form was, but all of those who thought they knew, had declared it a death sentence for all life on earth. What creature had that kind of power?
Oz had already began recording the battle and transmitting it via the compound’s internet signal to the warlock councils and the Prime Minister. He had one camera that was able to swivel and look around the entire front of the compound. He made sure this one was not in the recording loop. He wanted to keep track of the young one’s progress, but he didn’t want the outside world to truly know all their capabilities.
As he followed the trio’s movements, he was pleased the shifters were being kept from breaching any of the compound’s buildings, but it was hard to watch. The tiny man knew inside each one of the shifters was a human being. Already he had witnessed nearly a hundred of the creatures die.
Then, as suddenly as it began, the first wave ended. No more shifters came over the wall and everything was quiet. The smell of gunpowder and blood hung in the air. Apollo moved to the garage where Gabriel had left a large bucket of fresh water waiting for him. He took a drink and then held his muzzle under the water and shook his head vigorously. Most of the shifter’s blood coating his lower jaw and chest was washed away.
The grey wolf had no idea how many of the beasts he had dispatched, he only knew that as fast as they entered the eastern side of the courtyard, he attacked them. Breena had taken care of the few who got past him. He didn’t like having Gabriel on the other side of the mansion, where he couldn’t keep an eye on him, but it couldn’t be helped. He looked up, but there was no sign of the twins.
Jaida and Anthony were reloading the spare magazines for their rifles. As Jaida continued, Anthony disappeared, but he quickly returned with two additional rifles. They had both found it hard to keep firing the same rifle repeatedly. As the barrels heated up, just doing the reloading was causing some minor burning on both their hands. This would take care of that problem. They agreed to empty two magazines and then to switch to the unused rifles for two more.
Gabriel was already walking among the many bodies of the shifters. It was easy to identify the dead from the wounded as the dead reverted to their human forms and the injured and unconscious were still in wolf form. He started moving the few he found that were still alive to the garage. The back section contained six cells that could be used to hold shifters until they could be taken in front of the council.
One of the shifters was wearing a small camera attached to a harness that wrapped around his forehead and under his chin. He was sure that Grace was using the cameras to see how the fighting was going. Gabriel ripped the camera from the head of the unconscious shifter and dropped it to the ground where he crushed it under his right heel. He suddenly realized how pathetic and weak she must really be. She was hiding out beyond the walls of the compound while hundreds of shifters were slaughtered doing her bidding. What kind of leader acted like that?
He felt reasonably sure that if he only put five to six in a cell, the shifters would still be unable to break through the titanium doors. He was already doing the math in his head, once they had more than thirty-six injured shifters, he’d have no place else to put them. He wasn’t sure what he’d do then, but the only answer he could think of was to kill them. It wasn’t something he wanted to do or even think about.
Yes, these shifters were breaking the law and legally he could kill them without waiting for them to be placed on the angel list, but he also feared the creatures might not have the ability to resist the control of the White Alpha. He still remembered how she had affected him in the cemetery. There was no amount of reasoning with himself, he only knew he had to kill her or be killed by her and he acted accordingly.
Oz looked up to find Zeus standing in the doorway of the control room. He couldn’t really fit in the doorway so, he had his massive shifter head sticking into the small room instead. In his deep, gravelly voice he asked a question that allowed Oz to know that the master warlock was still in control.
“How many of us are hurt?” he asked.
“None,” Oz answered.
“Shifters?” Zeus asked.
“Exactly one hundred, either injured or dead. Most of them are dead,” Oz replied.
Zeus looked at the ground. Both he and Oz were thinking what a waste it was for that many shifters to die, and for what purpose? Just so Grace Stevens could kill a couple of warlocks? Zeus returned to the gym where he was even more determined to see the White Alpha die.
Oz used the momentary lull in the fighting to quickly check on everyone. Breena, Gabriel and Apollo were fine and resting on the front porch of the mansion. He found Anthony and Jaida sitting quietly on the roof top deck, just back from the parapet. The two American’s were silent. No matter how long they had been warlock’s, seeing this many dead shifters was hard on them. As part of their duties, they had offered their own lives on many occasions to protect shifters, not kill them.
“Were you able to spot any of the drones during the fighting? It would be most beneficial for us if the White Alpha lost her ability to see what we are doing to her shifters,” Oz remarked.
“That’s a funny thing,” Anthony began, “I was sure I saw two of them right before the shifters started coming over the wall, but then they were gone.”
“You mean they were moved or they landed?” Oz asked.
“Neither. They were there one second and gone the next. Like they disappeared in mid-flight,” Jaida answered.
Oz was intrigued. He was sure the White Alpha would never willingly lose her ability to see what was going on in and around the compound. Therefore, something else must have happened to the drones, but what? He also wondered why the shifters had only attacked from the east and the south. He didn’t agree with Anthony that all shifters were lazy and that was the reason why. Even if that was true, the White Alpha would have made them act differently.
“Keep your focus on the east and the south, the next wave should be coming soon,” Oz said as he was heading down the stairs.
Both the twins knew what he was telling them. If any shifters decided to come over the north or west walls, the automatic guns would alert them. Otherwise, the shifters would just continue to keep coming from the other two directions. A fact that made little sense to Oz.
Gabriel and Apollo switched places and Breena was already on the roof of the porch when the next wave began. Unlike the first wave, which had a steady stream of shifters pouring over the walls, this one had a massive force of several hundred shifters moving over the wall and toward the compound all at once. There were so many, it was hard for the twins or Gabriel to clearly aim at any one shifter. Instead they were forced to fire into the massive crowd and hope they were hitting the creatures where it counted.
Only Breena benefitted by the White Alpha’s tactics this time. She was able to descend on a concentrated pack of more than four dozen shifters. It was tightly grouped together enough to allow her to cover all the shifters and remove the oxygen from the air surrounding them. As the pack tried to move faster toward the compound, Breena moved right with them.
In less than a minute, they were dropping to the ground unconscious. She could have stayed over them and killed the entire group, but her Scythian morals wouldn’t allow it. She would kill if she had to, but only if she absolutely had too. As she moved toward the next group, she realized the decision was being made by the twins above her. One of them was putting a silver bullet into every shifter she left lying on the ground.
On top of the mansion, the twins were having a quiet discussion about what they were seeing below.
“Jaida, I’m telling you, there is some sort of a black cloud moving around down there and it’s attacking the shifters,” Anthony insisted.
“I’m seeing some things that are hard to understand as well,” Jaida replied, “The grey wolf is moving so fast, I can barely keep track of him. I don’t dare shoot at anything in the courtyard, I’m afraid I’ll hit him. He’s everywhere I look. Whatever he is, a normal wolf is not it.”
“At least Gabriel seems normal enough,” Anthony added.
He didn’t like to admit it, but Anthony was sure that Gabriel was more than twice the warlock he was. He had watched as the young man shot both of his guns at different targets without hesitation and as far as Anthony could see, he had hit shifters with virtually every shot. He wasn’t even phased by the mass of shifters headed right for him. In all the years Anthony had been a warlock, he had never seen so many werewolves in one place. He would never admit to anyone, but he was very, very glad, he was on top of the compound, instead of the ground.
Oz watched the monitors as two separate packs, totaling more than a hundred shifters in all, converged on Gabriel. The young warlock stood his ground and kept firing as the wall of shifters engulfed him. Oz had seen enough! He would not stand by while the shifters destroyed Gabriel. As he stood and began to dematerialize, intent on being by Gabriel’s side immediately, the tiny man was gone. He was no longer in the mansion, nor was he anywhere to be seen among the fighting either. He was simply gone.
Breena had watched as the shifters engulfed Gabriel and she had screamed. Apollo stopped his slaughter of the last of the shifters to make it over the eastern wall and came running to his brother’s aid. Both were sure that Gabriel was going to be seriously injured or killed by the pack of shifters, but neither could get there before he was completely covered by the creatures.
Apollo was almost to his side and Breena was right behind him when the night lit up like it was high noon. The large pack of shifters was sent flying through the air in all directions, most of them already burned beyond recognition. In the center, where Gabriel had been swallowed by the pack, there was an intense red flame. It was a moving flame, like something was alive within it.
Apollo veered off and avoided both the shifters flying through the air as well as the flames. He avoided the fire creature by more than ten feet, but he could still smell his hair being singed as he ran by. Breena also stopped and moved quickly away from Gabriel. Unfortunately, the remaining shifters were drawn to him like a moth to a flame. The remaining shifters, dozens of them, converged on the red flame that was Gabriel. As each one attempted to leap at him, to tear him to pieces, they were ignited like the ends of a match. Within a few minutes, all the remaining shifters were dead, and Gabriel was now floating along the ground and burning any of the creatures that had managed to escape his flames.
His mind was fuzzy, he was aware the shifters were trying to kill him and that he was defending himself and Breena and Apollo too. Beyond that, he was having trouble concentrating. There was something he was supposed to do, but he couldn’t remember what it was.
Apollo was worried, Gabriel had already been in his elemental form for more than ten minutes and he was showing no signs of returning to his human form. Breena also knew he would need to return to his human form soon, or he would burn up. She knew she could put him out, but it would take much out of her. She had never let on to either Gabriel or Yellow-mane just how much energy she had been forced to use to extinguish Gabriel the last time he was in his elemental form. She had already been extending herself during the previous battles and wasn’t completely sure she could do it.
One thing was sure, she was going to try! She would not live without Gabriel.
As Breena cloaked Gabriel in a dense black mist, he instinctively tried to burn her away. He didn’t realize it was Breena, he only knew he was being attacked. His flames grew ever hotter and the two young lovers were locked in a battle to the death. Breena could feel Gabriel’s flames getting hotter, they were changing her gaseous form and threatening to cause her to combust. If she did, it would be the end of her.
She was pulling as much moisture from the surrounding air as she could to keep her mist from bursting into flames. Apollo was screaming in his mind for Gabriel to stop, as the grey wolf knew both Breena’s and Gabriel’s lives depended on him returning to his human form. Breena’s great energy reserves were nearing their end when she finally felt Gabriel’s flame begin to weaken. A few seconds later, he collapsed onto the ground and Breena, already in human form, collapsed on top of him.
She was crying and trying to check to see if he was still alive, but she could barely hold her own head up. Apollo was licking Gabriel’s face and nudging his head with his muzzle.
“Water, Apollo. We need water,” Breena whispered.
It took the massive grey wolf only a few seconds to be back with the sack of waters the young couple had left on the side of the porch. Breena was trying to open a bottle to pour down Gabriel’s throat when she felt hands gently pulling her off him. As she watched, Jaida opened the water and slowly poured it down Gabriel’s throat as she tilted his head to the side. His face was almost too hot for her to hold.
She had seen the entire event unfold from her perch on top of the mansion, but she still didn’t believe it. Somehow, the black cloud attacking the shifters had been Breena and the ball of red flames that had destroyed more than a hundred of the shifters, had been Gabriel! What exactly were these two?
Jaida poured two bottles over the young warlock trying to cool him down. She opened three more and poured them down his throat before he started to respond. As he opened his eyes and began to look around, he saw Breena lying on the ground next to him with tears in her eyes. He rolled over to hold her as Jaida slowly poured a bottle of water into Breena’s lips.
Anthony had left his post as well. He went to find Oz and to find out what had happened to Breena and Gabriel. He had not seen what Jaida had, but when the shifters were gone, the young couple was on the ground and his sister ran to check on them. The control room was empty, and he was forced to go see Zeus in the gym. He was extremely uncomfortable talking to the Canadian master warlock in his shifted form, but he didn’t see how he had any choice. He explained the carnage outside and the fact that he couldn’t find Oz anywhere. Zeus stood and headed out to the front courtyard.
By the time the shifted warlock was at Gabriel’s side, the young warlock was trying to stand. Jaida had Breena and she was carrying her into the mansion. Zeus picked Gabriel up and cradled him like a baby as he followed Jaida into the front door and up to the second floor. The young couple were placed on a bed in the first room at the top of the stairs, where Jaida began inspecting the two for injuries.
As far as she could tell, neither of them had any wounds. She wasn’t a doctor, but her best guess was that the two of them were totally exhausted. She explained as much to Zeus.
“I don’t understand, he was a living ball of fire, thousands of degrees hot and she was a thick black cloud! I saw it with my own eyes. They defeated hundreds of shifters and then they attacked each other. What is going on here?” Jaida asked Zeus.
The massive white-haired shifter simply looked at her. He understood what she was saying, but he had no better idea than she did as to what had just happened. He only knew they were both still alive and for now, that was more than enough. The next wave would be starting soon, and they had lost their exterior defenses. Zeus headed out the room. He would not be waiting in the gym any longer.
“She wasn’t attacking me,” Jaida heard.
She looked down and saw that Gabriel was talking to her, even though his voice was weak. She bent down so she could hear him better.
“Breena wasn’t attacking me, she was saving me,” Gabriel insisted, “I can’t return to my human form on my own yet.”
“I’m sorry Gabriel, I don’t understand. Are you both some new kind of shifter? Who did this to you?” Jaida asked.
“My parents,” Gabriel answered, “I was born this way. We both were. Breena has more control than I do, if she hadn’t used herself to put me out, I’d have died. Is she going to be okay?”
“I think so, I can’t find anything wrong with her, but I’m not a doctor Gabriel,” Said Jaida.
“You’re not getting out of marrying me that easy,” Breena said.
Gabriel rolled over and held her against his chest. After a few minutes, he knew she was going to be okay. Slowly the two of them sat up on the edge of the bed. All three of them knew they needed rest, more water, and probably a long night of sleep. Unfortunately, all of them knew if they did that, they would all be dead by morning.
“Where’s Oz?” asked Gabriel. “He might have something in his medicine cabinet to help give us some energy back.”
“Oz is gone,” said Anthony.
All three of them looked over at the door where the master warlock was watching them.
“Not sure why, but I’d feel a whole lot better about our chances if that little guy was still here. Anybody know where he went?” Anthony asked quietly.
Gabriel shook his head, “If Oz is gone, there has to be a very good reason for it. He would never abandon us at a time like this.”
No one had anything to say to that, so Jaida helped Breena stand and walked her down the stairs and toward the kitchen. Perhaps, if they got some more water and a little food into her, she would be able to get back on her feet. Gabriel slowly followed them, his feet felt like they weighed a thousand pounds apiece. Apollo walked next to him, allowing Gabriel to lean on the massive grey wolf. Despite all the work he had done, the wolf was hardly tired at all.
Anthony stared hard at his sister. The young ones were too tired to be of much use in the next wave of shifters. Each wave seemed stronger than the one before and they had no guarantee the third wave would be the last. Oz had only guessed there would be three. They were running low on ammo for the rifles. Only the wolf seemed to be able to continue to fight and the little man had disappeared without a trace. Jaida was only praying the next wave wouldn’t start for at least another hour. It might not be enough rest for Gabriel and Breena, but it would help.