Opening my eyes, I’m momentarily disoriented as sight and sound return to me. Water swirls around my boots as lights flicker overhead. I smell blood on the air. Jeremy’s voice echoes in my head “You will be hunted.” Fucking Demons.
The last time my pack walked into a demon’s trap, we were almost wrapped into Christmas presents and Sam got into a cage match with Krampus. That time, I had my pack and allies around me, now, I am alone. The pack link I share with my family reduces to a constant static in my head. I can’t feel them, can’t sense their presence. My breath and pounding heart seem to drown out the sound of water dripping around me. My Packstone, a rose quartz set in a necklace, had disappeared and my shotgun and gloves had been taken.
If I’m to be hunted, I’m not going to be caught off guard. Orange light from a hallway beyond promises safety, but I prefer the shadows. I settle my gaze on a ladder leading to a balcony about twenty feet up. Stepping toward the ladder, a glint of metal shines up in my eye. A dagger lay in the water. The hell am I supposed to do with that? For all my years on the streets, I always relied on my strength, regeneration, and firearms. I never had much to do with blades. Unless they were silver, they really didn’t affect me, but any weapon was better than none. I took the dagger and made my way up to the balcony.
Moving silently over the grated floor, I find a position where I can keep an eye on the ground, on the hallway below, and hunker down. Vacant warehouses like this didn’t bother me. I had explored enough abandoned buildings that being alone in the dim expanse of a room barely affects me. I see movement down the hall and tense my muscles, but the shadow continues and I relax, listening for the hunter.
My pack had been blindsided. Taken by the demon we had been hunting and strung up for slaughter. We had been gagged, bound, and suspended from who knows what as Jeremy taunted us for being a thorn in his side and explained how he tracked us. Of course we thought it might be a trap, we just didn’t care. I felt my pack members around me there. Smelled them. Heard them struggle. Heard Dante’s voice until they clamped soundproof headphones over my ears. Whatever the demon did blocked our gifts, blocked access to our power. I trusted them to fend for themselves. We were still strong. Even without our gifts or abilities. We would not be claimed by this…
A sound from behind me. My thoughts dim as my senses go on alert. Someone is coming.
I turn my body to face the sound. Could it be one of my own? I dare hope. Probably not. I assume that Jeremy sequestered each of us in our own personalized hell.
I’d face him alone. I wish that I’d see him carrying a gun that can be wrangled away, even if that gives him a temporary ranged advantage.
If my shotgun were here, this wouldn’t even be a fight. Phantom weight across my back reminds me it’s gone. My hands itch, wanting to pull my gun from its holster and take aim.
Splosh. Splosh. Splosh.
The footsteps close in on me, echoing around the dark warehouse. A figure appears, six feet or so in height wearing a t-shirt and wielding two knives. I check the dagger in my hand. It would be useless. I didn’t sense silver, so this should be fine. I may not be able to shift, but I’m still a wolf. The footsteps stop as I peer down from my perch on the balcony. My blood runs cold as his eyes connect with mine. I hold his gaze.
“I see you up there, little girl.” He taunts, his voice patronizing as he readies his knives. Yeah. I see you too, asshole. I think of replying, but decide against it. He continues his approach. If I moved, I could potentially jump down on top of him, crushing him to the ground. The dinosaurs would be proud of me if I could pull it off. A smirk lights my face, but the man’s trajectory is toward the ladder, not allowing me the opportunity. In any case, fighting on the ground is preferable than on the catwalks, so I jump down, landing just out of the hunter’s range.
He turns to me, brandishing his knives. He runs at full sprint, I consider running for a moment, but then I’d be a mouse lost in a warehouse maze and probably just get stabbed in the back. I brace for impact.
The blow comes too quick for me to dodge completely. A clean slash on my arm, opposing the scar given to me by a much stronger weapon, splashes blood into the water. A jolt of pain tears through my arm. I howl in surprise, my voice reverberating around the walls. It fucking hurt. My heart races in my chest. Knives like this aren’t supposed to hurt. I go in close, catching hold of his arm, trying to wrench the knife out of his hand. I elbow him in the chin during my struggle, but it’s too late. I feel his arms wrap around me and he pulls me to him. My back presses against him. His fist grinds into my chest, angling one knife against my neck while the other jabs me through the side. I don’t howl this time as pain sears through my body, refusing to give him the satisfaction. God it sucks being human.
I see two more shadows approach from the doorway and recognize their scents. Jake and Dean. Jake wielding a crowbar, Dean with something shining on his knuckles. My pack is here! Where are the others? The hunter jostles me in front of him. “No!” I protest. “I will not be your meat shield!”
My brothers charge across the slick floor. Jake arrives first. “Let my Alpha go, Motherfucker!” He screams, raising his fist. I move my head out of the way as he slams it into the hunter’s face. The hunter takes the hit, but uses the moment to tear his knife out of my side and slash it across Jake’s midsection, spraying blood. I try to escape, but his hold on me tightens, and the knife across my shoulder digs into the base of my neck, sending another spasm of pain through my body. Goddamn it shouldn’t hurt this much!
I freeze as Dean arrives, avoiding his attack. His muscular frame ripples as his chain-leaden fist connects with the hunter’s face. Blood splashes on me as the hunter falls back, releasing me from his grip. I fall to one knee, holding the wound in my side. I should be healing. Jake’s wound doesn’t look much better. We stare down as Dean jumps on top of the hunter, driving him into ground. The water turns red as Dean pummels into his head until all we could hear was splashing and the sound of metal scraping concrete. He doesn’t stop until the hunter’s brains make soup in the watery floor.
Dean keeps an eye on the room, his nostrils flaring as he seeks out the next target. I kneel down in the bloody water, using my dagger to cut the shirt off of the hunter and bind up my wounds. We don’t speak, don’t need to. Jake checks the body over for tattoos or anomalies, I step away. I didn’t want them to find me like that, but I was glad for their presence.
With my wounds wrapped, I feel better, more stable. My brain kicks in. If Jake and Dean are here that means Sam and Aisha might also haunt this warehouse… as well as…I don’t hear his footsteps, but smell the Ceilican approach. Taking a breath, I turn to see Dante, gliding silently through the shallow water. His face set in focused determination, prepared for battle. A machete in his hand replaces his usual Klaive. His eyes pass over my makeshift bandages and widen, the only indication of emotion.
How much did he see? My heart, so recently calmed, starts to pound. I steel myself as he approaches, unsure what to say. Whatever happens next, I know that I will not reveal weakness. The last woman Dante loved died at the hands of a hunter while he was unable to save her. Did he see the asshole grappling me? See our pack rush to my aid? Does he smell my blood? I didn’t want to know. The night when we acknowledged our love, I promised myself that I would never be in that position. That he would never have to see me broken again, physically or mentally. That I would be strong for him, and everyone in my pack.
Blood pulses through my wounds and I ready myself to rally the troops. At least if we die, we won’t be alone. The thought calms me as Jake looks up from the body, as Dante closes the distance between us. I look over to Dean, chains still wrapped around his knuckles. We need to find Sam, find Aisha, and destroy whatever creatures Jeremy decides to send us because there’s going to be more. We just made it past round one, and I am already down three stab wounds. We have no choice but to fight, to survive.
It’s going to be a bloody night.