The Watcher Acts
At the edge of the forest, just off the main road, Grace was preparing for the third and final wave. If she had been honest to herself, she would have admitted how surprised and even flustered she was by the outcome of the first two waves. Those results, along with a few other developments, had her in a very foul mood and all the shifters around her knew it. They were staying as far away from her as possible.
She had spent the evening in her human form just so she could communicate better with the shifters. In her White Alpha form, they were far too afraid of her to do more than jump when she howled. As a human, they respected her and what she could become, but they didn’t fear her. She could ask questions and give detailed instructions that they would follow.
Not responding to the call of the full moon and assuming her shifted form was also adding to her anger and frustrations. She was looking at the video images from one of the shifters that attacked the compound during the second wave. She could just make out the grey wolf attacking shifters off to one side and then a mass containing dozens of her minions descending on Gabriel.
She smiled as she realized the young warlock, that so many feared, had fallen as easy as any other. Grace continued to watch as the camera suddenly went white, followed by a flash of red flames before the feed was cut off. She thought for a moment before realizing what had happened.
“Well, well,” she thought to herself, “Gabriel seems to have had the last laugh. I never thought he’d be willing to blow himself up just to stop the shifters from getting into the mansion, but at least there’s one less warlock to worry about.”
She looked at her ‘super seven’, the name she gave to the seven shifters standing behind her. They were the only ones willing to be near her when she was in such a bad mood. These seven, which included the red-headed Eric from the cemetery, had all been given multiple injections with Grace’s updated formula. The same one she had stolen from Zeus’s mansion on the night her previous version had killed his wife.
Each of the seven were one and a half times the size of a normal shifter and they had the strength and the speed to go with it. Unfortunately for them, they still had the same severe allergy to silver as did all the other shifters. Grace had spent months trying to train them in different fighting styles, but it was useless. Once they shifted, they were intent on smashing, ripping and tearing, and little else. She could give them great powers, but not the control to use them.
Still, they were more than enough to handle a few old warlocks. By now, Grace had already figured out the two snipers on the roof of the mansion had to be the American twins. Somehow, they had managed to fool her drone pilot into believing that they had flown out of the country earlier in the day. With a howl she had Eric rip his head off for his failure.
Now the super seven were looking at her and she was trying to come up with a new plan. They were aware of the many setbacks that had already occurred this evening. Just a few hours ago they were celebrating what was to be an easy victory over a single old warlock. Afterwards, they were going to begin executing the plans the White Alpha had in place to take over the world. With each setback, their confidence was eroding.
Grace was trying to answer questions she had no answers for. What had happened to the shifters she sent through the woods to the North and West of the compound. They had not attacked, nor had they returned. So, what had happened to them?
She was asking the same question about her fleet of drones. Before the attack began, she had five drones in the air, each one equipped with several different kinds of cameras so she could watch and record the destruction at the compound. She had planned to show it to the world after she had secured the nuclear arsenals. The fear it would create, as well as the anger toward the governments of the world for lying to them about the existence of shifters, would stifle any efforts to resist her takeover.
Just as the sun was going down, the drones were taken out, one after the other. The last one had been recalled, but before it could return to the mobile command, it was destroyed. It fell to the ground in pieces not a hundred feet from where Grace had been standing. The carbon fiber frame of the drone was in shreds. Whatever had caused the damage was unseen and unheard. With more than a thousand of them watching silently, no one saw or heard anything. That had caused a stir to run through the ranks.
Grace had stifled the concerns by launching the first wave. For a while, the jubilant and triumphant mood returned to the remaining shifters. Most expected the first wave to suffer some casualties, but the consensus was that the remaining two waves would never be needed. After an hour, it was obvious the first wave had failed. In fact, they had failed completely. Not one shifter returned to explain what had happened. The cameras worn by the first wave shifters were only there to record the victory, they could not transmit their images. That was when Grace had ordered several of the shifters in the second wave to be fitted with cameras that could transmit in real time, so she could see what was happening on the other side of the wall.
There were two-hundred shifters in the first wave, but the hundred sent around to attack the North and West side of the compound, never made it. The hundred that did go over the East and South walls had not been heard from and were considered dead.
The second wave, with over three-hundred shifters in it, had fared no better. The compound was still being protected and Zeus was still alive. If the video was to be believed, then at least Gabriel was dead. That would be a blow to the old warlock! Grace knew that if she could get him upset he would lose the fragile control he had over his shifted form. She had been informed of his presence in the village where she had sent a small army of mercenaries and shifters to capture Breena.
He had been shot up pretty good in that attack but had somehow managed to survive. Well, he wasn’t going to survive this night! She was going to make sure he died as a shifter, like so many he had put down in his many years as a warlock.
In the back of her mind, where she rarely allowed herself to look, was a tiny fragment of fear. She still remembered looking into his eyes when she had leaped on his desk and revealed herself as a shifter many years before. He had produced a silver knife and laid it against her chest, right where her heart was, without even blinking. It had been the closest the White Alpha had ever come to death.
That same tiny fragment of fear was growing by the minute. First, she had lost her drones, then both waves, five hundred shifters in all. With that many shifters, all they had managed was the destruction of one, inexperienced, warlock. She could see the doubt creeping across the faces of her super seven.
This time she would lead the group herself, but not as Grace Stevens. No, this she would do as the White Alpha. It had been almost three hours since the launch of the second wave. She had been trying to gather intel on what exactly was happening in the compound, but nothing was working. All she had managed was the video fragments that included Gabriel blowing himself up.
It was just after two in the morning and the moon was high overhead. There were only a few clouds in the sky. It was a good night to slaughter warlocks. She gave her final instructions before allowing herself to shift into the form of the White Alpha.
As she was growing and becoming the White Alpha, the remaining five hundred shifters began to move silently toward the compound. They had been instructed to climb the walls quietly and to surround the compound completely before her and the super seven shifters arrived at the main gate. They were not to attack yet, but they would know when the time was right.
As Grace became the White Alpha, the super seven slowly backed away. They were each ‘alphas’ and leaders of their own packs, but compared with the White Alpha, they were like pups. Their strength, speed and most of all control, were nothing compared to hers. As she became fully shifted, she threw her head back and howled. It was loud enough to be heard in Vancouver, many miles away. Animals throughout the North woods stopped, listened, and then moved quickly to find a safe hiding place.
In another dimension, as the final attack was about to unfold, Oz was dealing with his own problems. Just as he was going to help Gabriel, he had been forced back to his own dimension by the ‘others’. He now stood before them and pleaded his case. To a human, it would have looked like an epic staring match. Oz and his kind communicated telepathically and therefore spoken words were not needed.
“Why have you done this?” Oz asked.
“You know exactly why we have done this,” a female answered. “You have been given a great deal of leniency for your continued involvement of the lesser species known as the humans, but we cannot permit you to become directly involved. You knew the rules and you agreed with them when you requested to be allowed to exist in that dimension as one of them.”
“Yes, and my study of them has provided a great deal of knowledge and understanding of them as a species. They are not nearly as much of a ‘lesser species’ as you think. They deserve a chance to develop and to become part of the Galactic Collective, just like us,” Oz argued.
“That may be true,” started the female, “but that will take a millennium. Of course, that’s only if the humans do not destroy themselves first. We are ‘visitors’ to the many planets and dimensions of this universe. Our role in the Galactic Collective is quite clear. We visit, and we record. We experience, and we leave no lasting imprint. We are tasked with making sure that no sentient species interferes with another species’ development. If we continue to do only that, we are free to explore any planet, any realm, anywhere in the universe.
“Would you jeopardize that right? Are your relationships in this one dimension, worth all our kind losing their ability to visit all the other worlds in the universe? What would happen to our kind if we couldn’t explore and experience all that is out there?
“We’ve been exploring for millions of Earth’s years and yet we have only visited about ten percent of the worlds and dimensions where life exist. Why are you so insistent on only experiencing Earth?”
“It’s simple. We only visit these realms for a short time, therefore we rarely interact with the natives of these worlds. We never truly understand what it means to be them, to see the universe through their eyes. We are foolish enough to believe that a species this primitive has nothing to teach us, nothing to show us that we haven’t already seen, smelled or heard before. We travel, we experience, and yet we are stagnant. We learn nothing! Information without analysis is useless and you cannot evaluate or analyze something unless you fully understand it. Is it better to visit a million worlds and learn nothing or to visit one and learn at least one new thing?”
After a long silence, the female asked Oz one last question.
“So, tell us Oz, what have you learned from the humans of Earth that you did not already know?” she asked quietly.
Oz stared at her for a full minute before he answered.
“I’ve learned how to love. Not just what love is, but to truly feel the emotion. Our kind do not experience emotions, nor do we see any value in them. But feeling love makes being alive an experience unlike anything else in the known universe,” he answered.
The entire council watched as a tear slowly rolled down Oz’s left cheek. He was, and always had been, considered one of the strongest and wisest of his kind. Many had been concerned when he stopped his travels and seemed intent on settling down on the small blue planet in the Milky Way Galaxy. Now they could see just how much his experience was affecting him. They had much to discuss.
“We will adjourn for now, but you are not to leave this realm. You may observe the actions going on at your previous location if you wish, but you may not return without our consent,” the female council leader directed.
Oz simply nodded. He knew there was no way to go around the council. Without their approval, he would never be allowed to return to earth. He knew just how resolute the Council Leader could be. A long, long, time ago, he had called her Uma. It was the name in his language for mother.
At least he would be able to see what was going on while he waited. As hard as it would be to watch, it would be harder, not knowing. He sat cross legged in the middle of the floor and stretched his mind out toward the planet Earth. Once there, he directed his vision to Vancouver, British Columbia, and then to the compound north of the city. As he focused on the area, seeing it from far above, he watched as the White Alpha launched the third wave.
Oz was no longer in the form of a tiny human. Here, among his own kind, he was free to show what he truly was. His beautiful chestnut hair flowed across his entire body. His eyes were deep blue, large, and filled with intelligence. At more than nine feet tall, he had long limbs and thick muscles. His chest and shoulders looked more like one of the great apes of Earth than any kind of a humanoid. Even in his seated, cross-legged pose, the one called Oz looked powerful.
As the events unfolded before him, he wondered what the people of Earth would have done if they found out the traditional meditation pose assigned to Buddhist monks had been taught to them by a Yeti? The monks had witnessed Oz mentally searching for another dimension on one of his first trips to Earth. As they watched, he disappeared right into thin air.
He had known they were near, but he was intent on finding another place to explore, one not as boring as this little blue planet. He had little concern for them seeing his true form. It was several centuries later that he returned to Earth and discovered the monks using the same cross-legged body position to meditate. Exactly as they had seen him doing.
It was then that he decided to take a closer look at the humans of Earth. He was determined to find out what made them human. Why they did the things they did and what potential they had as a species. From that point on, he’d never been disappointed in his studies of them. He had been recalled many time and asked about why he was staying in one place, in one form, for so long.
Of course, he knew part of it was that his Uma wanted to see him in person. For a species without emotions, she seemed unusually attached to her only offspring. Something the council was also very aware of. Oz believed if he could have gone back in time, perhaps a billion years ago, he would have discovered that his own species had emotions, just like humans.
It was his personal belief that his own kind had shed all their emotions in order to eliminate the negative ones, like hatred and greed. Unfortunately, they had also lost the positive ones like love and empathy. As a species without strong emotions, they were ruled by logic and curiosity and had evolved into the greatest explorers in the universe. They were known by many names throughout the many galaxies and dimensions. Even on Earth they were called many things, Sasquatch, Yeti, Yowie, Almas, Big-foot, and even Skunk Ape, but they rarely told anyone their true species name.
Throughout the many less-evolved worlds, they were considered myths and legends. Occasionally seen, sometimes heard, but rarely believed in. They were impossible to film or record in their natural form and they rarely died away from their home dimension. If it did happen, the body was automatically transported back to their home.
Oz was able to see the area around the compound. He was pleased the final wave had not yet begun. He hoped that somehow the council would find a way to allow him to return to his adopted family before they were all killed by the White Alpha and her shifters. Oz was glad his emotions were very limited, otherwise it would have been too much for him to watch.
In his true form, Oz had much greater power than he did as the little man on Earth. From this dimension and his current viewing point, far above the compound, Oz saw something that peaked his interest. He could see movement on the North side of the compound’s perimeter. After a few seconds of focus, he could see the entire area where the woods met the clearing that marked the property line of the compound. At first, he thought he was seeing things, but then it all made sense.
The great mass of enormous animals milling around the tree-line could only be the Scythians from Breena’s village. Were they simply waiting to see the outcome of the battle between the warlocks and the shifters, or was there more to it than that? Regardless, Oz could only see their involvement as a good thing. The small band of warlocks was going to need all the help it could get.
The ancient one was only seeing the aftermath of what the villagers had been up to. It had taken every ounce of persuasion Yellow-mane could muster to get the clan to help Gabriel and Breena. Even then, it was only his insistence that without the young couple and the clan’s gift, they would all be doomed to death, that finally convinced the villagers to follow him.
They were headed for the compound when they encountered fifty men, all shifters, setting up in the woods beyond sight of the compound’s northern wall. The villagers, with Yellow-mane’s guidance, easily subdued the group. They had managed to do so with only one of the shifters being killed. He had tried to stab one of the cougars with a sharp branch and the brown bear behind him struck him in the neck with one if its massive paws. He died instantly.
Yellow-mane had led the captives to a cave not far from the clan’s own cave and forced the men inside before the moon was high enough to allow them to shift. Once inside, Yellow-mane and two of the bears caused a landslide that blocked the entrance. They might be able to dig their way out, but it would take many hours to do so. The entrance to the cave was so small that only one shifter could dig at a time.
Once the shifters were locked safely away in the cave, the villagers returned to the edge of the woods where they heard the machine guns during the first wave of attackers and later they saw the front of the compound light up like a bonfire. They were all sure it could only be Gabriel putting out that much light. Yellow-mane wanted to lead the group to the mansion to check on the pair and to help them, but he knew they had done all they could.
Any direct assault by the villagers would surely expose them and their secret to both the people in the compound and to the attacking shifters. They could not take the chance that the entire Scythian race might be exposed, not even to save Breena, Gabriel and the entire clan. Now, all they could do was to wait and to hope that somehow the pair could find a way to survive.
Yellow-mane stood by Azura and held her close. He didn’t dare tell the others his greatest fear wasn’t that Gabriel might perish, but rather he might be forced to assume his animal form. As he watched, he was also listening intently. If Gabriel did indeed take his animal form, they would hear it long before they saw it.
Yellow-mane had been researching everything he could find in the scrolls about Gabriel’s animal form. Even though there was very little written about it, one thing was agreed on. Every myth and legend that did mention this creature, all claimed that the animal’s screech could be heard for tens of miles. The same screeches were unlike any sound heard on the Earth for the last million years. Yellow-mane knew when he heard that screech, it would be time to go to Gabriel and to help Breena and the wolf kill him. He knew Breena had vowed not to kill Gabriel, but he believed she would do the right thing when the time came.
He had explained it all to Azura and she was ready for him to depart. She would lead the villagers to their cave and hope that while they were underground, the creature might not find them and kill them. Only those that hid underground had eluded the creature in the past.
As the villagers were moving the captured men to the cave, the watcher in the tree-tops was descending upon the fifty men on the West side of the compound. They were waiting for the moon to rise enough to be able to shift to their wolfen forms. He only had a few minutes, but he wouldn’t need any more than that. He wasn’t going to capture anyone, he was going kill them. He had already decided he would no longer live a lie. He was now more certain than ever that the world of man and the world of the shifter and the Scythian were all one.
He didn’t have to abide by the Scythian rules anymore and he understood only too well what these vile creatures had cost him. The love of his life, his inheritance, even the years away from his family. He was thinking of all these things and his blood was beginning to boil. Now, these shifters were intent on killing Gabriel and Breena. They weren’t just running around loose, they were intent on committing murder. Because of that, he was going to kill every one of them.
He dove down through the trees and crushed skull after skull. Some were victims of his enormous beak, while others met their end from his rear claws or front talons. Each dive downward ended with two or three of the men crumpled to the ground, dead before their heads touched the earth. After half of the men were dead, the others couldn’t take it anymore. They began to scatter, driven wild with fear.
The watcher had more than enough speed to widen his hunting area and still drop two or more with each successive dive from the tree-tops. In a matter of minutes, the forest floor was littered with bodies. The watcher knew he should feel some bit of remorse for what he had done, but he didn’t. These were no longer men and they were no longer victims of the virus either. No matter how they had acquired the virus, every one of these men had willingly agreed to leave their cells and to come to the Canadian wilderness to attack a group of warlocks. The watcher didn’t know what the big picture was, but he was sure there was much more to this attack than simply an attempt to kill the master warlock, Zeus. The watcher could care less about the old warlock, although he harbored no ill will toward him either. Like the watcher, the master warlock had suffered enough.
Unlike Yellow-mane and the villagers, the watcher was planning on getting as involved in the fighting as he was needed. As the sun finally descended over the horizon, the watcher destroyed the drones the shifters were using to watch the fighting. Now, soaring far above the compound, he was keeping a careful watch over the battle.
So far, the young ones and the wolf had managed to kill or capture all the shifters that had attacked in the first two waves. He saw Gabriel and Breena almost kill each other after Gabriel was forced to assume his elemental fire form. In that instance, there was nothing he could have done. Had he tried to intervene, his arrival would have surely caused Gabriel to attack him and he would not harm the young man. He would die first!
The watcher saw the Scythians milling around the North side of the compound’s perimeter and he knew they would go no closer. Their code of secrecy would never allow it. He continued to glide on the night breeze, almost a thousand feet above the compound, watching for the next wave of shifters to attack. Even at this height, his eagle-vision allowed him to see everything that was going on far, far below him.
The watcher could sense Oz was watching him, but he didn’t know from where. The two had been playing cat and mouse for many years now, but the watcher didn’t care anymore. This night was all about saving the young couple, and if possible, the grey wolf.