Also, it's November now, so I'm more free and I've been writing like a banshee so yay! I don't think the final condensed version of PB should take long.
As usual, this is an unedited version, so pardon the mistakes. Have fun!
We really shouldn’t do this.”
Keona didn’t bother replying but simply tightened her grip around Riley’s arm. It annoyed her that he could still talk despite her strong hold on his mental consciousness –a clear indicator that he was much stronger than what she thought him to be.
“Maybe we – ”
“Another word Riley…” her voice was gentle but the underlying threat was real; her nails digging into his skin to bring across her point. To an unsuspecting outsider, they looked like a loving couple but Riley knew that Keona wouldn’t hesitate to kill him on the spot if he even dared to breathe wrong.
He kept quiet as she led them to the main entrance of the facility; aware that she had cloaked them in some form of protective shield that rendered them undetectable by the main security cameras.
Riley was slightly relieved when he felt her loosening her grip over his arm but his smile faded when he saw her turn to face him with a grim expression.
“This is for your own good,” she said, before placing her fingertips at the side of his temple. Riley didn’t get the chance to stop her for immediately after that, all he could think about was the blinding white light searing through his cranial cavity.
When he opened his eyes, Riley was unsure why Keona was standing in front of him; arms crossed as she leaned back lazily against a pillar.
Riley frowned. Morning? It was dark and he didn’t think he fell asleep did he? And what was she doing here with him? She didn’t sound too pleased and the chill in her voice wasn’t at all encouraging.
“Let’s not waste time. I need to report to Connor.”
Riley wanted to protest. He knew, at the back of his mind, that something was not right but his conscious thought was pushing him to execute her instruction. It was as though she was forcing him to –but surely not. He was much older and his shields were superb… right?
Nevertheless, he felt his body responding to her command; his feet moving a step at a time down a quiet hallway towards the Elders’ offices. He found it odd that none of the guards seemed to notice them –neither to greet nor stop their advances.
“How are you doing this?” he asked –he had to.
Like a lazy cat stretching its neck, she angled her head to her left and gave him a blank stare. She continued to eye him eerily until they finally made a stop in front of Connor’s office. Before Riley could say anything, Keona had already pushed the door open; closing it in his face.
No! I want to…
Whatever he intended to tell her was cut off by a sharp pain in his head. He didn’t think it was possible but it was as if his mind was being disciplined by a sharp whip to conform to her instructions.
Damn that youngling had power!
Shuffling his feet, Riley decided to wait. He had no doubt that Connor wouldn’t hurt Keona –at least not to the point of death. She was his prized possession and he still had much use for her, regardless of what happened.
Indeed, Connor was thinking just that as he sensed Keona walking into his office. Swivelling his chair to face her, he gave her a smile –one that bore no warmth or meaning.
“You’re still alive,” he said as a way of greeting.
“So will you if you let Marine go now.” Instead of being threatened, he laughed at her; slapping his hands down on the table top with glee. “I don’t see what’s so amusing,” she said coolly.
“Oh, nothing, nothing my dear child. You’re just the most peculiar and fascinating little creature that I have ever laid eyes upon. You… make me curious,” he said, leaning forward as though sniffing at her.
Keona remained still even as he gripped her chin lightly. She knew that he was trying to read her mind; trying to break down as many shields as he could to learn the purpose of her visit. It was like reporting to your boss without having the need to even present your findings.
That also meant that he had access to even her private thoughts and memories –secrets that she and Draven had protected by constructing layers of pseudo memories and enforcing stronger shields.
“Hmm…” Releasing her, he started to walk slowly from his side of the table, round to where she was standing before crossing his arms over his chest to peer at her thoughtfully. “Why are you still alive youngling?” he asked.
“Should I be dead?” she asked defiantly, even though her insides were rattling like skeletons in a closet.
“Weres do not survive long after the death of their mates…” he prompted. It was a test, she knew, to see if she could confirm what both of them already knew were her memories. The only thing was that she hoped he believed those “memories” had been real enough and not constructed.
“I am not an animal,” she said with as much disgust and pride as she could muster. “Vampires can live for centuries without their mates.”
“Oh?” Connor was pleasantly surprised at her reply for he dropped his hands and started to pace in a circle around her. “You have gotten stronger little one… very strong in fact.” He stopped right in front of her and stared long and hard into her green eyes. “But I do not trust you… yet.”
“I don’t give a damn if you trust me,” she replied, trying her best not to spit in his face. “I’ve done what you forced me to do and now I have my own demands for you to fulfil.” A pause. “I have nothing to lose now. I can kill you without regret Connor and trust me, this time, I will fight you even if it kills me.”
Perhaps it was her tone of voice or the slight ‘push’ of her anger indenting on his mind but Connor took a step back to re-evaluate their situation. Indeed, from what he had read in her mind, she was now alone… and scared. She could be his greatest ally or his greatest downfall but he had to decide now. To incense her further could lead to a possible blood bath and his death. To pacify her on the other hand…
“Let us negotiate these… demands then,” he said calmly.
“I want you to release Marine… and Kendall.”
“Oh? Taken a candle to the boy have you?”
Keona didn’t bother to reply him. Those two were underaged younglings just like herself and shouldn’t even be locked up in such a place. If he didn’t let them go, she was going to jail break them out –to hell with the consequences.
“I will consider Kendall’s release on one condition.”
“Such a tongue,” he laughed, wagging a finger at her. “But you are asking me to release one of my most useful assets. Surely you have to compensate that somewhat…” He waited to see if she had any reactions –to which she had none. “Join me; join this cause. Be a part of my most elite team. I’ll make you even stronger than our strongest Vanguards. Like you said, you have nothing to lose. But I have everything to lose by giving you this position.”
Keona squinted her eyes at him. Connor was an excellent master manipulator and though her mind tried to think of the possible loopholes in his offer, she couldn’t think of any yet. She had to keep up with her story that she was mateless and with nothing to lose. Besides, it was a risk she had to take –at least to negotiate the release of the two younglings.
“Abide by my wishes and we’ll deal.”
A smile crept up the Pureblood’s face. “Come, let’s see to our prisoners and… we’ll talk.”
Riley was still leaning lazily against the wall when Connor and Keona walked out.
“Oh? Eos, I’m surprised you are here,” said Connor; eyebrows raised. “Ah well, since you’re here, you might as well be of some use.”
Riley got to attention immediately. Despite his distaste for his superior, he wasn’t one for insubordination. “Sir.”
“Keona and I have something to settle… Please escort us to the holding room.”
At the smirk on Connor’s face, Riley knew instantly which room he was referring to. A rush of cold sweat trickled down his back. Could it be that Connor had given Keona another assignment –to terminate both Kendall and Marine this time?
Even as he walked in front of them, Riley tried his best to communicate telepathically with Keona but she was blocking him; her shields literally slamming its door in his face. Desperate to get her attention, he began to slow down.
“Eos, what’s the matter?” demanded Connor. “We don’t have all the time in the world to waste right now. Move along!”
“Sir…” His response was laced with a tinge of plea. Not that Connor gave a damn.
“Move it Eos.”
Riley didn’t have much of a choice but as he moved closer, he did the only thing he could to warn the two Vampires he cared most in the world.
Marine, tell Kendall to protect you now.
Being mates allowed him and Marine an exclusive line of communication that couldn’t be tapped by others. Judging from Connor and Keona’s stoic faces, he figured that they didn’t hear his warning. He just hoped that Marine did as he told her to.
With a grim expression on his face, Riley knocked on the holding room door briefly before opening it. To his relief, he saw Kendall standing guard in front of Marine who was huddled in a blanket in the corner of the room.
It broke his heart to see her like that but Riley pushed his feelings aside to allow Connor and Keona to step inside.
“Kendall,” said Connor; his voice lowered down to what Riley figured was his ‘gentle’ tone. “How is our guest?”
Kendall looked at Riley then Keona before addressing Connor. “She’s… exhausted Sir.”
Connor nodded slowly before turning to look at Riley. “Leave us.”
“Sir?” Riley tried to hide his clenched fist. What the hell did he mean by ‘leave us?’. There was no way that he was leaving them… in the room to be killed. “I would like to stay Sir.”
Connor looked like he was about to shoot Riley off for daring to disobey him but Keona interrupted.
“Let him,” she said calmly. “Riley, I want you to take them out of here to safety.”
“No, you don’t get to make those calls youngling.” Connor’s eyes were turning to slits of red.
“I’ve already done so,” she challenged him; staring straight up at Connor’s defiantly. “You know he cannot disobey a suggestion keyed into his mind.”
“How dare you!” seethed Connor. “We haven’t settled the terms of our agreement yet.”
“There are no terms. I’ve done your dirty job for you, now it’s only fair you release them. What’s their use to you anyway? What, am I not more valuable than both of them combined?”
She didn’t even bother to wait for his reply. Moving forward, she crouched and hugged Marine.
Marine sweetie, I need you to follow Kendall and Riley out of here. Do not turn back, do not wait for me. Can you do that?
Marine, whose eyes were wide with fear, nodded silently; her hands reaching out to grasp Kendall’s fingers for comfort. Kendall closed his fingers around hers before glancing to his brother as though asking permission.
Go. A simultaneous instruction from both Keona and Riley.
There was only a blur where the two younglings had been huddling together and then they were gone. Marine’s super speed ability had progressed so perfectly that Keona couldn’t help but feel pride.
It cost her.
That split second where she lowered her shields to smile allowed Connor to penetrate her mind, forcing her to get down on her knees as the pain coursed through her body. Keona might have been more powerful but he was much older and physically stronger than her –leaving her helpless to counter his abilities.
Connor’s mistake was that he was focusing too much on Keona that he didn’t notice that Riley was no longer under her control.
The moment he was released from her mental suggestion, Riley came charging at Connor; nails lengthening and fangs drawn out for a bloody fight. He was confident that Marine and Kendall would get out safely and he had nothing to worry about at the moment.
He struck – right through the Elder’s shoulder, almost ripping off the limb.
But it worked. Connor howled in pain, cutting his connection with Keona’s mind abruptly.
“Get up!” shouted Riley. “He’ll heal. I need you now!”
Despite her splitting headache and a trail of blood dripping from her nose, Keona propped herself on her hands and focused on Connor. She could already see that he was healing even as Riley continued to attack him. Her mind was too injured to force Connor to yield but she had no time to search through her mental cabinet for the right thing to do.
She just pushed a thought through her mind and focused…
Everything around her started to slow down and eventually stopped. Keona widened her eyes at the sight of droplets of blood hanging still in the air; Riley’s claws half embedded in Connor’s thigh and Connor’s face caught between fear and disgust.
Did she stop time? Or was she moving so fast that everything around her stopped?
Keona didn’t care. It gave her time to think and she needed it badly to heal. Connor had stripped the shields in her mind and if one thought mental scars weren’t physical, they were wrong. Every layer of pseudo memory was connected by synapses within the brain. To tear them down forcefully would cause internal bleeding –as she was now.
But Keona forced herself to think. Somehow she trusted that Kendall would at least get Marine to the surface to where the rest would already be waiting for them. She needed to contain Connor in a way that would buy them enough time to release all the other prisoners and burn all the trial hybrids within the facility. She didn’t need to see them to know that they were there for she could feel them, hear them and smell them.
Keona could kill Connor –but, she was not a murderer.
She just needed to contain him… in what?
Then it came to her.
Looking up at the ceiling, she smiled at the sight of the emergency water sprinkler; recalling how the Pureblood had made the water pour down on them and freeze the droplets mid air, almost as if she could stop time for the water itself.
She could try. Keona could get Conner wet enough or she could flood the room and encase him within a solid ice block. Connor was a mind reader and shield builder. He wouldn’t escape easily if she were to contain him in an ice coffin.
With as much power as she could spare, Keona raised her hand to try and switch on the water flow but nothing happened. Biting her lips, Keona tried again but to no avail.
She wasn’t using enough concentration and power. Half of her mind was trying to heal itself and Keona knew that she had to abandon that for now…
It would mean that she could bleed to death but the chances of her freezing Connor’s ass was much higher so she stopped healing her wounds; focusing all her strength and abilities to that one single thought: to turn the water source on.
But Keona continued focusing; forcing the pipes to burst, flooding the entire room at an accelerated pace. She knew that she didn’t have much time left for droplets of blood were starting to drip from her nose and she could feel blood tearing from the corner of her eyes.
Faster damn it…
Meanwhile, Marine was running so fast that she wasn’t sure where they were going anymore but Kendall didn’t seem to raise any objections at her speed or her choice of turns.
Kendall… I’m scared.
There’s a turn up a head. We can make it.
Marine squeezed his hand just a little harder and followed his instruction. She didn’t know why he made her calm but he did. In fact, he had been the closest thing to a friend inside the facility. For that alone, she would be grateful.
However, upon completing the turn, they were caught in a corner with nothing but a single pass-coded door on their left.
“What now?” asked Marine. “There has to be another way out!”
“This is it. The rest are monitored you see. This is the only way out that no one will think twice about.”
“Why?” Marine couldn’t hide her scepticism.
“Purebloods think that just because they are purist with no tolerance for filth, every other Vampire in their vicinity will have no tolerance for dirt either…” he grinned as he punched in some passcode. “This is where the waste and other undesirable items get flushed out.”
As the door opened, he offered his hand to her. “Here’s our ticket out. Coming?”
Marine made a face at the stench but took his hand nonetheless. Keona had sacrificed a lot to save her –twice. She wouldn’t screw it up the second time. Kendall held her hand tight, almost afraid she’d bolt.
It was a good thing that he did for she was starting to understand how the disposal system worked: The facility was simply dumping all their unwanted materials right into the lake itself without a care for its toxicity or biodegradability. Right beneath them was a metal trap door that would open at the press of a switch and let them out –to freedom.
“How are we supposed to get out? I don’t see a switch…” her voice trembled slightly.
“Wait,” he shushed her. “They’re coming.”
Marine had no idea who was coming but she crouched down and closed her eyes. Almost immediately, she felt something hit her on the head. Her first reaction was to look up and regretted it.
Kendall was grinning amidst the ‘rain’ of waste materials –thankfully packaged in some sort of plastic. Marine finally got it. They simply had to wait for the sensors on the metal trap door to register enough waste weight before it would open and release them into the water.
“Just a while more…” Kendall crouched close to Marine and held her tight. He knew that she was important –not just to his brother but to Keona as well and he saw it his responsibility to make sure that she stayed safe until they got out of their prison.
Bracing them both for the impact, Kendall tucked Marine’s head under his chin and waited for the metal trap door to open.
It was akin to free falling except that water rushed in, engulfing them within seconds, cutting off their air supply immediately.
Kendall felt Marine struggling but he forced her to remain calm. He knew that her instinctual fight or flight mechanism was telling her to move, run, do something but Kendall didn’t think her super speed worked in water.
Or he could be wrong.
Marine, stop panicking and listen to me! You need to swim up. I’m going to help you but I need you to focus and stay calm!
He tightened his fingers around her, almost willing her to listen to his thoughts. Slowly, he began to move his legs, pulling them both towards to surface with all his strength.
Help me Marine.
At first he wasn’t sure if she heard him but then he felt the pressure weighing them down lessening and they were moving towards the surface faster and faster. Kendall could feel the tightness in his chest from the lack of oxygen but he kept looking upwards; praying that they’d make it.
He could almost see the glimmer of moonlight just above them but his lungs were starting to fail him and somehow Marine seemed to have stopped kicking her legs.
Kendall could feel his brain shutting down… he must be imagining things, losing his sanity for his body was no longer floating endlessly but it was so cold…
Eian was standing with his arms crossed as Mike and Dominic pulled the two younglings out of the water.
“Just what in the world were these two doing in the water? And who the hell is this!”
Dominic barely restrained Alaron who was trying to attack Kendall.
“Your daughter’s here Alaron. That’s what’s important,” warned Eian in a soft voice. “I’ll deal with the boy.” One look from the Alpha made Alaron purse his lips in defiant agreement. It was his natural instinct to protect his daughter but Eian was right. She needed him most at the moment.
Scrambling over to Marine, Alaron pulled her against his chest and tried to feel for her heartbeat - a faint but steady beat pulsing at her throat.
“Is she alright?” asked Eian from a distance away.
“Yes. But I’ll just take a closer look to be sure.”
While Alaron busied himself with Marine, the other Weres and Draven gathered around Kendall. It was Mike who had pulled the youngling up and told him to breathe.
“He’s a bit blue. Should we let Alaron see to him?” asked Mike out of concern.
“And risk him being torn in half?” replied Alex. “We need him to find Keona. There is a reason why she isn’t up here with them.”
“Let me.” Draven slid in front of the Weres with ease, relieving them off their dilemma. As Mike and Alex stepped back, Draven knelt down beside Kendall and touched his fingers gently to the youngling’s temple.
He was only in for a second when he jerked his fingers back in surprise.
“Don’t touch him,” he warned, looking around at the pack. “He has tactile memory –if he has contact with you long enough, he’ll know everything about you.”
“Can you get into his mind then?” asked Eian patiently. “We don’t have much time left. I’m worried.”
“Yes Alpha. I can.” Turning his head back to the task, Draven focused his mind to merge with the youngling’s. The young Vampire was still unconscious but his mind was a spinning wheel of activity.
Draven picked out the last few moments of Kendall’s conscious thoughts; seeing through the youngling’s eyes as he protected and helped Marine escape from the facility and earlier on as he looked with fear into his brother’s eyes… and then Keona’s.
Just what the hell was Keona saying? Kendall’s conscious mind had been blocked, almost as though he was putting up shields –clearly a Vanguard inherited ability. The boy was too young to learn how to shield his mind on his own.
At the back of his mind, Draven could sense his Alpha’s growing impatience and worry despite his cool and calm exterior. He didn’t have much time to relook at the scene with Keona. All he knew was that she had struck some sort of deal with a Pureblood Elder and by the looks of it was the reason why Kendall and Marine were released in the first place.
Breaking the connection with Kendall, Draven looked up first at Eian and took the risk of having his head torn off. Instead of telling his Alpha what he saw, Draven asked his permission to call his mother.
The growl given by Eian told him that he was on a very tight leash but he had to take it.
Moving away from the pack, Draven took out his phone and prayed that Josephine would be up. The time difference meant that it was probably just shy of dawn.
“I had a feeling you were going to call me,” she said after a ring.
“Mother… I’m sorry for this but I’m pressed for time.”
“Anything for you my dear.”
“Is Keona safe?”
Josephine gave a small laugh. “You want to know if I’ve had future threads about her don’t you? I wouldn’t ask you why but all I can say is that if I was worried enough, I would have called Keiran myself.”
“Oh, I’m sorry… but yes I’ve had dreams about her though I didn’t know what to make of it. She’s always in this one room and there are so many of her. Sometimes they’re talking, sometimes they’re fighting but I didn’t think much of it. I just thought I was missing her too much… Is she alright, Draven?”
Draven’s eyes widened at the implications of what Josephine had seen but he didn’t want to worry her. “Yes, she’s fine Mother. I’m just concerned because Alex is getting edgy about his mate.”
“Ah… young love,” she chuckled just before ending the call.
Draven tucked the phone in his pocket and closed his eyes. He had seen a room full of some sort of prototype experiments in Kendall’s memory but they were still babies… what if they had already matured by now? Was Keona the enabling genetic strand for these experiments?
Walking back to the Weres, Draven knew he had to make the decision.
“We have to go in. Key might be in trouble,” he said, waiting a heartbeat before the Alpha went feral.
With his fingers wrapped around the Pureblood’s neck, the sounds that came out of Eian’s mouth sounded more like growls than words. “What are you not saying Draven?” he demanded.
Calm down Alpha… Worrying would make matters worst.
The fuck I will.
But he released his hold on his Beta. Instead, he moved to the youngling lying unconscious and picked the boy up by the collar.
“You know that’s my only daughter right?”
The intentions in his eyes were apparent that the other Beta’s got into defensive mode –getting ready to protect their Alpha from his own irrational thoughts.
“I think they’re trying to create more of her –hybrids. We have to destroy them,” said Draven as slowly as he could; his eyes watching Kendall intently.
“And my baby?” The anger was gone from Eian’s voice, replaced by a sliver of what Draven could tell was fear.
“We’ll find her, Alpha.”
Everyone let out a sigh of relief as Eian gently lowered Kendall to the ground. Killing a youngling –either Vampire or Werewolf –was major enough to result in immediate termination.
“Do you know the way in?” he asked softly.
Meanwhile, Keona was starting to feel the strain of using too much power while she was still injured. But she could feel the temperature in the room starting to fall at an uncontrollable speed; ice was starting to form on the walls and on the floor.
She knew she didn’t have time to wait for the whole room to freeze. Moving forward, she started to grab Riley’s hand –the sudden action caused her to lose control over her ability to stop time.
At once she heard Connor’s enraged voice cursing at her; his claws aiming for her neck. If it wasn’t for Riley’s quick instincts, he would have managed to slice her jugular vein, causing serious damage.
As the temperature in the room started to dip below freezing point, Keona gave one last mental ‘push’ in Connor’s direction before feeling her body pulled out the door by Riley.
“Freeze it, damn it. Now now!” he was bellowing but Keona’s mind was too weak to comprehend but she moved her hands nonetheless.
“You’re a complete mess MacFarlane. Damn it!” she heard him swore. She was losing blood and Riley was shouting at her. How unfair! Didn’t she just save his life?
“You’re bleeding damn it!”
Riley didn’t bother to reply her. Instead he scooped her up and started running towards his own room. Raising his shields to the maximum, he hoped that it would cloak both their scents for a few minutes for he had no doubt that her hybrid blood would attract guards like bees to honey.
She needed time to heal and the only sanctuary he could think of at the moment was his room. He had no doubt that Connor had screamed a mental cry of help to the Vanguards and they would be all over the place within minutes.
The moment he closed the door, Riley commanded her to heal herself.
“I can’t guarantee that the Vanguards will all be loyal to me. Once a head hunt order is given, we have to complete it. So heal.”
Keona was frowning but she paid heed to his instruction. He was right. She had heard Connor’s shout in her mind and knew that it wasn’t long before they were cornered.
Besides she was bleeding too profusely to argue.
“Why are you helping me anyway?” she asked instead.
His response was to raise an eyebrow at her.
Riley shrugged and leaned against the door nonchalantly. “Coz I’m Marine’s mate whether you like it or not. And that makes us… family.”
“You’re a despicable liar. What makes you think I’d accept you?”
He gave her a bored look. “We’ll tell Marine how truly despicable I am then. If she still hates my guts after the truth and breaks the bond, you can kill me yourself.”
Something in the sincerity of his words struck a chord in her. However she wouldn’t admit it to him.
“Oh trust me… I’m not the only one on the list.”
Riley stared at her for a long time before narrowing his eyes. The moment he did that, Keona sensed a blade aimed straight at her forehead. A second of hesitation would have meant instant death.
“Fuck you Riley,” she growled; the blade caught firmly in her fist.
“Good, you’ve healed enough. Let’s go.” He shrugged as he opened the door.
As she caught up with him, they stared at each other and laughed.
“What do you want to do first?” he asked.
“Let’s release all the prisoners. Then we need to destroy this place.”
Mike was left to protect Kendall and Marine while Eian and the rest begin their infiltration of the facility. For a Beta, the task of babysitting was not only torturous; it was insulting but Mike didn’t feel that way at the moment.
The young always deserved the best protection –that was what Eian had taught the pack. Hadn’t the Alpha done exactly that when he took in the lost Vampire child into pack lands a few years ago?
Looking at the two Vampire younglings, Mike’s heart softened. True, their pack dynamics have changed quite a bit in the past year with the addition of Draven into the ranks, the acceptance of a Vampire as a female Alpha and of course the birth of the hybrid children. Even then, Mike never thought of them as hybrids –or Halflings as some call them. He saw them as children, meant to be loved and protected.
Marine had that. She was loved and protected, not just by her parents but by the pack as well. She was family.
But the boy? Who loved him? Who’d protected and die for him?
Mike had scented nothing on the youngling. Vampires often leave very obvious traces of their bloodlines, almost in the same way that Werewolves mark their children and mates. But perhaps this child had lost his parents and yet he’s been subjected to imprisonment and cruelty.
While the boy still had his innocence, it should be protected. It was then that Mike decided:
He was going to first ask his Alpha and then his mate, Pearl if they could adopt Kendall. They had enough Vampires within the pack to keep the boy in check. But most important of all, they’d give him a family and a home.
Every child deserves that.
Meanwhile, Eian was striding in step behind Draven, Alaron, Dominic and Alex. They were arranged in a ‘V’ formation with him forming the apex.
“These Vanguards are strong and they are built to kill, not just maim,” warned Draven as they approached the main entrance.
“That’s what I’m here for,” said Alaron. “I’ll heal if necessary.”
The quintet kept silent for a minute as two guards approached them.
“Let’s do it. Watch each other’s backs,” said Eian; his voice calm yet sharp as the claws slowly emerging from his fists.
There was no need to even shift yet for they took out the two guards with ease.
“Common levels,” said the Alpha matter-of-factly. They weren’t even Vanguards and didn’t have enough Vampire blood in them to make them lethal. But that wasn’t a reason for them to let their guard down. “Destroy the cameras,” he instructed.
“There’s more coming,” Draven said, giving them a heads up as the entered the main gates. “They’re coming in dozens. First up, to your left.”
There was no need to ask how he knew. It wasn’t just because he was a Pureblood with mind reading and erasing capabilities; but he was pack and they trusted each other –completely.
And trust was what guided the five males as they began the first stage of the infiltration; each movement thoughtfully calibrated and coordinated. All lines of communication were kept within the mental bonds of the pack as much as possible, severing the chance for the Vanguards to eavesdrop.
They continued to come in droves; surrounding the five of them at every corner such that they were forced to keep their backs to one another. Dominic and Alex were already in wolf form; teeth barred and attacking as mercilessly as the Vanguards advancing on them. Draven blanked out every single one within his mental radius while Alaron manipulated the air and blood flows of their enemies causing seizures and blackouts.
But the Alpha was as calm as could be; still in his human form, his movements so lightning quick that it looked as though he hadn’t moved an inch.
There’s just too many of them. If we take them all out now, we won’t have time to search for Key!
I’ll go. Alex raised his snout slightly to see his Alpha’s reaction.
Give him cover.
At once the others moved slightly closer to allow Alex enough space and time to slip in between them. Draven jammed the thought-processes of all the Vanguards directly in Alex’s line, giving him a few seconds to make his escape.
Alex didn’t waste the opportunity. The tracker in him sought for the nearest darkened room, blending in with the shadows as he plotted out his next course of action. Keona’s own scent had changed slightly since the first time he knew her. It could be because of all her new abilities but it was also because of their mating bond.
It felt odd to sniff the air for his own scent but Alex knew that it was probably the best way to track her down. He needed to find traces of himself within the facility and that’s where he’d track his mate down.
The black wolf heightened his senses –both his tracking ability as well as his alertness for danger and padded as softly as he could, keeping his body close to the ground. Every now and then, he’d catch faint hints of his and Keona’s mingled scents but then it was too little for him to be certain.
But there –
There was an odd, familiar scent coming from one of the rooms down the corridor, accompanied by the metallic scent of blood… of a hybrid variety.
Damn it Key!
Alex tried to call out but there was no response and as he came closer, he knew why.
The room was empty though the scents lingering were still fresh and heavy which meant that she was in the room only recently… and not alone.
Alex didn’t need to look up at the nameplate on the door to know whose room it belonged to.
Riley… he growled and dashed off following both scents as best as he could. Riley’s scent suppressing ability meant that Alex was bound to lose both their scents soon and he wasn’t going to let that happen.
“Come on Riley, what is the password?” Keona was trying as many combinations as she could at the main holding cell entrance. It seemed like the code had been reset right after they had escaped.
“I don’t know. They must have found a way to send a telepathic message bypassing me. Looks like we’ve got to bust the door open.”
Keona thought for a moment; her eyebrows wrinkled.
“No we don’t. I can open the door from the inside.”
“How the hell are you going to fit through that gap under the door? No wolf can.”
“I’m not a wolf,” she said calmly as she started to picture the smallest possible creature in her mind –an ant. It was a risky shift but desperate times called for desperate measures. She didn’t like the idea of her skeleton outside her body but she continued focusing nonetheless, feeling every part of her body shrinking… shrinking…
“Damn Keona.” She heard Riley swear as she slipped under the small gap. Once on the other side, Keona shifted back; all the while alert for anyone walking pass. To be caught mid-shift could sometimes shock the mind and disrupt the process so she had to be absolutely careful.
The moment she was back in her human form, she tapped the release button of the front door, only to find Riley’s throat perilously close to a lethal claw. Keona didn’t need to see whose it belonged to. She could scent her mate anywhere.
“Aren’t we getting cozy,” she chided. “Shift back Alex. We need to release all the prisoners first. You can kill him later.”
For a moment, she thought that he’d disagree and rip Riley’s throat there and then but eventually he let the Vampire go but he didn’t shift back into his wolf form.
“There should be seven occupied rooms. We have to do it manually,” said Riley as he rubbed his throat. “If we shut down the power, it will open all the doors…”
Keona got his drift. They had left Connor in the room where Marine and Kendall were in. So they had to do it manually which could be a problem.
“Password?” she asked. “I can’t keep shifting to fit through the gap. It will tire me out too much.”
“Rip out the code switch?” suggested Alex.
“That’d send the alarms on Alex. We can’t afford to fend off Vanguards at this moment.”
“Why didn’t anyone learn how to walk through walls?” Keona was rubbing her temples, trying to think of a solution. “What if I try to either melt or freeze the door and you two can try and barge through?”
“No… takes too much time. We need the control room. At the moment, we’d be going to the rooms blindly not knowing which one contains prisoners. The control room will let us turn off the code switches individually… right?” suggested Alex.
Riley nodded and pointed straight ahead. “There should be clothes as well. For godsake Alex!”
In response, Alex only snarled and started running in the direction Riley pointed to.
There was a guard outside the control room but Riley or Alex could do anything, the guard starting walking off on his own.
“I suggested that maybe he should take a leak,” said Keona with a shrug. “And the passcode is ‘security alert’. That’s 7328748925378.”
Once at the control panels, Riley took note of all the rooms currently occupied. The monitor also showed the age of the captives and the reasons why they were kept under surveillance.
“I don’t know if you’re going to like what you see,” he said quietly. Most of the information was written in code but he was high ranking enough to know their implications.
“What do you mean?” asked Alex, fastening the button of a spare Vanguard uniform. Keona was curious too and came closer to take a look.
“The room where Kendall and Marine were kept was under code purple,” he said, pointing to a square on the screen. “That means they have been kept alive with minimal supervision or interjections.”
Keona frowned. “But there aren’t any purple codes… but blue and red.” It wasn’t a statement but a question, for her eyes were set intently on Riley, demanding an explanation.
Riley closed his eyes for a moment then gave a long sigh. “Code blue means current test subjects, just as you were a week ago.” He toggled the screen to show another view. This was of a young girl curled up on her bed. “Security is highest both outside and in the adjoining observation room. We can expect five Vanguards if we’re lucky…”
“If not?” asked Alex.
“If not, there’ll be more. At worst, a Pureblood Elder will be around.”
Keona chose to ignore his silent implication and instead crossed her arms as she asked, “And code red?”
Riley looked at her, almost hesitant to answer. “I suggest we save only those code blue.”
“No. These are innocent lives! We must try,” she insisted.
With a sigh, Riley shook his head. “They’re failed experiments, left to die because they are unsalvageable.” He toggled the screen once more to a view of one of the code red rooms. Alex groaned.
“We save what we can,” said Keona after a minute. “Can you two handle the code blues by yourself?”
“You’ve got to be kidding me Key…” said Alex as they left the control room. “What makes you think those… I mean they might not have any sense of humanity left. You could get killed!”
To his surprise, Riley shook his head and put up a hand. “Let her. We’ve got to save what we can and get the hell out of here.”
The trio exchanged grim looks.