Authors: Veronica Del Rosa
He rubbed his ring, and a four-foot-tall imp appeared next to him. Two tiny white horns jutted from his forehead, and white spikes trailed down his spine. His black skin gleamed in the sun like polished marble, shadows swirling underneath. Bright red pupil-less eyes darted around to take in the surroundings.
He was mesmerizing to look at, like a deadly cobra.
A full-throated evil cackle erupted from the imp, surprisingly loud for such a little guy, and he hopped around, eager to cause chaos.
Jackson stood near the open door of the shack and started pulling energy into himself, gathering enough to destroy the hidden door. Derek’s skin itched. Damn it, he hated mages and their magic. The intense pressure made his wolf howl. If he didn’t let it out soon, it would shred his insides in frustration.
A loud bang and the ground shaking distracted Derek from his wolf’s restlessness. A blinding flash illuminated the area. He sent a hasty message to the hidden wolves,
Stay put. Not time for you yet.
When he looked again to the shack, he saw just a gaping chasm in the ground. A streak of black zipped to the opening and disappeared. Screams drifted towards them as the imp took care of the guards who had survived the blast. He couldn’t even summon a shred of pity for them. They had made their choices.
Single file with Markus in the lead and Derek second, the Enforcers moved to the newly made crater and dropped down. Cracks ran along concrete walls, and chunks of the ceiling littered the floor.
They stood in a room used for evaluating visitors. The broken ladder hung haphazardly from the wall, and a desk was overturned, its contents spilled across the floor.
Bodies were scattered about on the floor, some dead from the imp, others crushed by the fallen ceiling. Lights flickered and created moving shadows. The aroma of blood hung heavy in the air.
Fanning out to secure the area, the men and women waited for their instructions.
“Seraphina, remember your promise. Help the Enforcers and prisoners. Destroy the guards and scientists if required. We don’t want all of them dead as we need to interrogate them.” Markus pinned her with his eyes and didn’t look away until she nodded, licking her sharp teeth with glee. She bounced away, fading into the shadows.
Derek almost felt pity for the poor bastards she’d find.
“Wolves, change forms. Mages, stick with your wolf. I know it doesn’t happen often, but we’ve trained to fight side by side. Don’t get killed because I hate the damn paperwork they make me fill out.”
Removing his jeans and button-up shirt, Derek tossed them into the pile made by his pack. All of them had dressed in jogging pants and t-shirts, clothes easy to remove and easy to replace. They’d already undressed and were now impatiently waiting for him to shift as well.
He embraced his other side, freeing the wildness within him. The pain of changing energized him. A loud howl signaled his need for vengeance and his pack’s answering call echoed in the wrecked room.
Opening himself to the pack link, Derek connected to his waiting wolves in the trees and found it difficult to send a message.
Join the next group leaving the portal.
And yet the link found Sylvia with ease. Interference? How was that possible? How had the humans found a way to block the connection he had with his wolves?
Knowing he didn’t have time to puzzle it out, he shelved it for later. Instead, he focused on Sylvia. He couldn’t yet send his thoughts to her, but he felt her hope and excitement.
For once she wasn’t in pain.
The loud rumbling
that shook the room took Sylvia by surprise. It was one hell of a signal, and Revenant was right. She knew when to attack. Her first targets: the three scientists to her left. Those callous, unfeeling bastards would soon know the agony they gave to her. The need to tear them apart and savour their fear almost overrode her common sense.
Wasting time wasn’t smart, and neither was terrorizing them. Guards could arrive at anytime, and many carried the drugs that incapacitated her. Time to get the hell out of here and fast.
The pleasure of shifting into her alternate self was ecstasy. Months of suppressing her other half had taken its toll on her. Every werewolf needed to embrace both sides and bring balance between the two. To deny either brought mental suffering.
On furry paws, she stretched. Her nails clicked against the metal bed.
Shouts of horror brought her back to reality. This was not the time for dawdling. She had revenge to exact. Her lips curled, showing off her wicked teeth, and a snarl filled the air.
Fear poured from them. Such a heavenly scent. One she wished she could savour.
She sprang off the table, glad they’d stupidly relied on their drugs to keep her complacent instead of strapping her down. As she jumped, she opened her jaw wide and clamped down on the middle scientist’s throat. Her front claws raked the chests of the men standing on either side of him.
Warm, sticky blood filled her mouth. Her human side gagged at the taste.
Unable to stay upright, the middle scientist fell to the floor with a sickening thud.
A light gurgling came from his ruined throat. He had moments of life left, and she hoped it was horrifying.
A quick glance at the other men showed they, too, had little time left. Fatal wounds bled profusely from the ragged tears in their chests.
All three men were beyond saving. She laughed, an odd chuffing sound, pleased at her handiwork. They didn’t suffer as much pain as they had put her through, but it would do.
A skittering, squeaking noise caught her attention, and she swung her head around. Damn, she’d forgotten about the other two in the room. It appeared her actions had stunned them at first. Now they wasted no time. They ran to the door, slipping and skidding as they went. Panic didn’t lend them grace.
They wouldn’t survive her wrath, either.
She took a running leap at them, marveling at their stupidity. They’d just seen her take down three men because they stood too close, and yet, they ran to the door together. For that alone they deserved to die.
Angled between them, her sharp claws dug into their backs, and screams of agony erupted from the two men. They both were flung forward. One of them smacked his head off the counter near the door. A horrible crack filled the air, and his body pushed backwards before he fell to the ground, his screams silenced.
The momentum off-balanced her, and she rolled to the side. Her claws dug deeper into the other man and yanked him toward her instead of the floor. He fell on her as she slammed to the floor. Air
from her chest.
Sylvia yelped in pain, angry he’d ruined her euphoria.
How dare he take that away from her? After living in constant agony for months, she detested the slight pain he caused. The rational side of her recognized she was overreacting, but her rage exploded.
Hurt him, make him suffer.
His heavy body rested on her. Shallow, gasping breaths as he struggled to draw air into his lungs. She dug her teeth into his neck, grinding into his bones. With a flex of her claws, she tried to free them. Stuck. His ribcage trapped her and refused to let go. She bucked at him, twisting and writhing under him, trying to free herself. In her frenzy, she decapitated him.
His head rolled away, smearing a bloody trail along the floor.
She’d just bitten a man’s head off.
She froze in shock and disgust, unable to comprehend what had happened.
Staring up at the headless body, she snapped out of her daze. Escape, she had to escape. If guards showed up now, escape would never happen. Her life was forfeit once they saw how dangerous she was. They’d pump her full of silver bullets without hesitation. Quite frankly, if they didn’t, then they were morons.
Using her considerable strength, she flipped the body off her and yanked. Damn it, her paw was still stuck. A few more hard tugs finally released her. Her paw was soaked in sticky liquid. Sylvia shook her body, and red droplets flung around the room, giving it a horror-show motif.
No. No licking. Do not look. Do not lick.
More blood in her system would push her over the edge. Nausea took up residence in her stomach, reminding her of what she’d already ingested.
She shifted to human form, unable to work the doorknob with her paws, and she found it unlocked. Why was the door unlocked? Perhaps Revenant had left it open for her. After a swift glance at her naked body, she shrugged away any feelings of embarrassment. Sylvia didn’t plan on staying in human form for long, and those who did see her naked would soon be dead by her hand.
A loud wailing assaulted her ears as the emergency sirens went off. She snorted. Took them long enough to react to the bombing – or whatever the hell it was – that shook the building. Idiots.
Bloody handprints decorated the door and wall as she leaned against the wall and peeked out. Would there be a welcoming committee?
The hallway was deserted. Surely they had some guards down here. Or did they trust their drugs that much?
As if her thoughts cued them, heavy footsteps echoed through the empty hallway, getting closer. She ducked back into the room, not wanting to give away her position. As she crouched by the door, she squinted between the slight crack. Several heavily armed men jogged past. This was one of the rare times she wished it was possible to shapeshift into another creature, like a mouse. Scurrying past them would’ve made life so much easier.
The small army passed and turned right at the end of the corridor. In total, she’d counted fifteen men in a formation of three by five, too many for her to take on alone. No stragglers either, so she couldn’t pick any off as she went.
Weapons other than her teeth and claws would have been nice. With that in mind, she turned and frisked the dead men, hoping against hope they had something useful, but came up empty. Not even a tranquilizer dart.
, she thought as she kicked the nearest scientist. Childish, yes, but it made her feel a little better.
Back at the solid wood door, she listened. The loud sirens blasted her sensitive ears, but her training included muting distractions. With the healing Revenant had cast on her, she didn’t have the usual aches and pains to also ignore.
Filter out the wailing and focus.
No other sounds reached her ears.
Once again shifting forms, she nosed open the door and padded out. All the other doors remained shut. No hint of peeking, no eyeballs glaring at her. Seemed they had emergency plans in place. Scientists stayed put, safely hidden in their labs where they had less chance of being held hostage or becoming a casualty.
At the end of the hallway, she turned right and followed the path of the other men. They had to be moving towards the disturbance, and if it was her rescue team, then there had to be an exit in that direction.
The thought of escape lent wings to her heels, and she flew down the halls. Each turn was the same as the guards’, their scent trail a glaring road map for her.
The next turn had her skidding to a stop.
Three men carrying assault rifles were guarding a main door. They spotted her and shouted for her surrender. As if! Freedom was within her grasp.
Sylvia ducked behind the wall and ran back the way she had come. Whipping her head around, she searched for an escape route and came up empty. Fighting was her sole option. First, though, she’d unnerve them.
Another shift back to human and weariness dragged at her for a moment. She shook it off, refusing to succumb. Revenant’s spell flared within her, beating back the slight fatigue. Damn, she wanted access to this spell on a regular basis.
Naked and seemingly vulnerable, she dropped on the floor to her side. Forcing a partial shift, claws only, she raked at her exposed ribs. Blood welled up and dripped down her belly and onto the cold tiles. A small pool formed under her, spreading outwards.
Her satisfied smile was hidden from view by her tangled hair.
She knew, without conceit, that most men found her desirable. Her flame-red hair was a perfect foil to her pale white skin, and at nearly six feet, she was all legs. Her job ensured her body was slender and sleek, a study in the contrast between soft womanly curves and hard, toned muscles. While the past few months hadn’t been kind on her beauty regimen, she’d seen the glint of desire, smelled the heavy musk of arousal from some of the guards.
Moments later, thudding footsteps halted a few feet from her, and their whispers reached her with ease.
“Who the hell is this?” a gravelly voice asked.
“She’s been ripped apart. The wolf musta done it,” a younger voice chimed in.
Peeking through her wild mess of hair at him, the speaker appeared to be in his early twenties. He had a nervous air about him. Sylvia inhaled lightly, and his scent was acidic with fear and panic. The other man maintained a calm façade, but she could smell the fear from him as well.
The third man was the dangerous one, however. A quick once-over showed him to be battle-scarred and icy. His dead, gray eyes assessed the situation and narrowed. Something bothered him about this scene, but what? She mentally viewed the area, seeing it as he would and then cursed. If a wolf had attacked her, blood would’ve been on the wolf’s paw, leaving a trail away from her. He needed to die first.
With a soft moan, she rolled onto her back and pushed her hair from her face. A sharp gasp came from the younger one, too green to control his reaction. Desire scented the air.
The cold air and lack of clothes caused her nipples to bead, and she ignored a twinge of embarrassment. She needed every weapon she could use against them.
The third man remained unaffected. Cold-blooded and wary, he was a dangerous foe. She had to take him out before he warned the other two.
Sylvia fluttered her eyes and asked, “What… what’s going on? What happened?”
Calculating the distance for her leap, she tensed her muscles and waited for the third to move closer. The younger one, forgetting his fear, loosened his grip on his rifle and stepped toward her. She almost smiled at how easy he was making this for her. One more step and she’d have her claws into him.
“Step back now, Jeff,” the third finally spoke, and she wished he’d kept quiet.
Jeff froze, used to obeying the cold one’s orders.
“Aww, D, she’s hurt. She won’t hurt no one. Let me help her up.” The whining tone irritated her, and her hand itched to smack him.
His scent betrayed him. His hospitable offer had less to do with assisting her and more to do with wanting an “accidental” grope.
Schooling her expression, aiming for innocent and pitiful, she brought her full attention to D. And immediately regretted it. An attractive man, it was all surface. His military brush cut emphasized his sharp cheekbones and square jaw. Discipline evident in the way he held his body, he’d look fabulous naked, all hard planes and strong muscles. This was a man who liked control, demanded it.
It was his eyes that disturbed her. The utter emptiness. The coldness was bone deep in him. She saw no empathy or compassion. He regarded her as less than human, less than a bug to be squashed. Never had someone dismissed her so utterly, not even the scientists. They, at least, felt curiosity towards her. The need to understand her physiology drove them. This man would kill her and not even spare her a second thought.
A total sociopath.
And he was the one with the rifle.
She hadn’t even had the sense to bring a knife to this gunfight.
His eyes flicked over her body. He wasn’t assessing her sexual beauty. No lust from this cold bastard.
A slight tightening of his lips told her the truth. He’d noticed her tense muscles. As his hands gripped harder on the rifle, she pushed herself off the floor and sprung into the air. Claws raked out against Jeff, barely catching his face. A step closer would’ve sliced his neck through. Damn it. As it was, she managed to cut two deep lines from forehead to chin, narrowly missing his eyes. The blood, however, poured from his head and blinded him. She dropped into a crouch, avoiding the spray of bullets. D’s reaction time was a hair slower than a werewolf’s.
The middle guy, name unknown, started screaming. Sylvia nicknamed him Baby, as in big crybaby. Honestly, who screamed during a fight, especially when she hadn’t hurt him yet? Sure, blood had spattered across his face, alarming him, but it wasn’t even his blood. Therefore threat assessment of Baby was low, and she put him out of her mind.
D was the true adversary.
Sylvia jumped at D. Her shoulder hit him in the midsection, and she wrapped her arms around him. They crashed into the wall, and his back made solid contact. She hissed at the unexpected pain. The back of her hands touched the silver-threaded wall. Her slight distraction cost her as D slammed the butt of his rifle into her exposed spine. She roared in anger before shoving aside the pain. A small ache compared to the months of torture she’d endured.