Cattin’ Around

By Cobalt-Blue

Copyright Information:

All characters and non-real organizations, people, and places in this story belong to the pseudonym Cobalt-Blue and the author using that name. It is up to the reader to determine whether or not Alfheim and Vanaheim are real. The story and plot belong to the pseudonym Cobalt-Blue and the author using that name.

Cobalt-Blue’s Notes:

An Admiral Waller really was the Commandant of the Naval Academy and Davey Allison really was racing cars at this time. Many of the places really do exist; Vulcan, the street names, and there really is a Wesley’s Booby Trap on Highway 78 West near Walker County.  However, the people are solely from my imagination and any similarity to real people is not intended and is solely coincidence.

Chapter Nine: Vampire War!


Okay, just a quick note about this chapter: I’ll try to keep the Academy and Naval jargon to a minimum. Mom still complains that I came back from my first year at the Academy speaking a language that she never taught me.

          It was the summer after my first year at the Academy. It had been a challenging year. I thought I was going to be ready- I guess everyone does, but I wasn’t. Don’t get me wrong, my parent’s constant pushing me to excel, to learn new things, and to develop myself mentally, physically, and spiritually put me on the right path.  Nevertheless, nothing can prepare a high school kid for their plebe summer, and then a year as a 4/C at the Academy.

          Granted, I did have certain advantages- the Physical Education Program for me wasn’t much of a challenge no matter how hard my commanding officers tried.  Of course, several of them were aware of my particular situation, and certain allowances were made for that. I ended up with the heavy duty jobs, and after a while, nobody really competed with me. Some of the upper classmen were dreading our 2/C year when I would be eligible for the boxing team. It was decided early on that I wouldn’t be allowed to play on the football team. I just couldn’t win with that one.

 My faith created a bit of a problem at first. At that time, the Evangelicals had a death grip on the various military academies and the Naval Academy was no exception. Once it became known that I wasn’t attending chapel like the other cadets, but was taking care of my own religious obligations, and that I wasn’t going to back down on the issue and half of the brigade couldn’t take me down, that sort of pressure stopped. I still ran into some problems with several of the evangelical cadets, but for the most part, they left me alone. I offered too many opportunities for scoring points for my brigade to antagonize. After a few of my wards went off, it sort of became known that to mess with me was to invite lots of bad luck- and the last thing a cadet wants is bad luck.  See, I did learn something from that whole Mrs. Saylors incident back at Oakman.

I was NOT going to wash-out no matter what happened.  My father had earned this appointment for me and I wasn’t about to disappoint him.  Besides, I wanted to be an officer.  It was just a matter of how much bullshit I was willing to put up with to get it.

Like I said, my first year at the Academy was a learning experience. Some of it good, some of it bad, but in the end it made me a better officer and a better man. I did the first half of my summer assignment aboard one of the Yard patrol craft where I learned the basics of seamanship. My second half though was spent with the Sea, Air Land forces. I knew then and there that I was going to be a SEAL.

When my thirty-day liberty finally rolled around in mid July, I was ready to go home. I knew Mom and Dad were going to be in Europe on “business” but I still wanted to see my friends and just hang around a while.  Like every other cadet, I had a bit of a swagger in my walk by then and was looking forward to a little “showing off”- not that I would have admitted that then. 

However, the nature of what I am was about to give me a reminder that for me, there is never really an off-duty time- only lulls between action.  I got called into Admiral Waller’s office and found myself meeting Brigadier General Aaron Presley for the first time.

He was a short stocky man in his early fifties, and dark black hair and blue eyes that seemed to reach into your soul and root around for things. As I stood at attention, he seemed to be measuring me up for something. Finally reaching some unknown conclusion, he nodded toward a chair and said, “Sit, Cadet Greenbough.”

I obeyed immediately, and then waited for some kind explanation, but none seemed to be forthcoming for what to me seemed like an eternity.  Finally, Admiral Waller said, “This is General Presley. He works with the Department for Nocturnal Affairs, and wants to talk to you.”

The General nodded to Admiral Waller and began abruptly.  “Your folks are in Europe.” A sudden chill went down my spine. The first thing that popped into my mind was that there had been some kind of problem and they’d been injured or worse. Generals don’t call cadets to a meeting very often, unless it involves some kind of tragedy. Still I didn’t answer until I was asked a question.

The General cleared his throat and asked, “What are you plans for liberty, Cadet?”

The sudden change in subjects took me off guard but I answered the direct question, “To return home and visit with some of my friends.  Maybe take a flight to London to see an old friend, sir.”

The general chuckled asked, “Ms. Northmore left that much of a mark on you, huh?”

“Among other things, sir,” I replied.

“Well, Cadet Greenbough, I’ve got another suggestion for you,” he said.

“Excuse me, sir?” I asked.

“I have another suggestion for you, other than traipsing around a wet London summer,” the General said. “Your friend James Williams is having some difficulty right now, and we’d like you to see if you can help him out.”

“I don’t understand, sir,” I told him.

The General shook his head and smiled at the Admiral. “This isn’t going to work like this,” he said. Turning back to me, he ordered, “At ease Cadet. If we’re going to discuss what I want you to do, then you’re going to have to be able to at least answer my questions and ask your own.”

“Yes, sir,” I replied and relaxed.

The General smiled and leaned back in his chair and seemed to once again be studying me. Finally, he asked, “Do you know what the Department for Nocturnal Affairs is?”

“It’s a government agency that deals with issues arising from or surrounding the activities of nocturnal in the US, sir,” I told him.  The DNA was more of a gray box organization than black ops. It could be found if one really wanted to, but for the most part, it stayed under the radar.

“Very good, Cadet, but considering that your folks have worked for the Department for almost thirty years, and you yourself are a nocturnal; it’s not surprising that you know of us. I want you to come to work for me too. At least for the summer,” he said looking over at the Admiral.  I got the feeling that there was some kind of conflict there.

I looked over to the Admiral and he nodded.  He didn’t exactly seem happy about it, but said, “It’s been cleared through Washington, Cadet.”

I turned back to the General who watched the exchange between Admiral Waller and myself and then smiled. Admiral Waller was one of the people “in the know” about what I was.  “General, what do you have in mind?”

“Over the past several months, there has been a lot, and I mean a lot of problems with the nocturnal community across the Southeastern United States,” he told me. “It started in Washington and has spread down to Charleston, Chattanooga, Atlanta, and finally Birmingham.”

“What kind of problems sir?” I asked.

“Someone went through the first four vampire population like a hot knife through butter. It took the vampires quite a while to regroup, but now they’re not only fighting back, they’re fighting each other and the indiscriminate killing of normal folk has started. To add to the trouble, several European vampires have shown up, and one of them is trying to bring the local werewolf packs into the fight.”

I shook my head, “JD has more sense than get involved in something like that. The pack leader wouldn’t allow it.”

General Presley chuckled, “You’re right about the first, but not the second. Evidently this vampire can somehow control werewolves, and the pack leader has fallen under his or her sway. This looks like it’s about to set off a pack war and your friend seems to be the prime candidate for new pack leader.”

I began to curse in Old Norse, and the General smiled and said, “That’s hardly language becoming of an officer and a gentleman, and I’m not sure your mother wouldn’t wash your mouth out with lye soap if she heard it.”

“She probably would, but then again, she taught me about half those phrases herself. So, what do you want me to do, General?” I asked ignoring the remark.

“Find out who’s killing the vampires and get them to stop, or at least get them to be a little more discriminate with their killing. Some of the dead vampires were very old and very useful to maintaining the peace with the DNA. Stop the war, and get the packs back out from under vampiric control. I’ve spoken with your parents and they agree; having them answer to some vampire king in Birmingham would be a bad idea.”

“You’re asking an awful lot of a raw cadet, somebody that is technically not a 3/c yet, General Presley,” Admiral Waller commented.

General Presley leaned back and smiled before adding, “This is no ordinary cadet, Admiral. This is the leader of the Night of the Howls. At sixteen, this boy led a pack of werewolves to battle a giant. I think he can handle a vampire war.” My surprise must have shown on my face because the General turned to me and said, “I know about that, Greenbough. Your actions sent ripples through the nocturnal community that reached to Europe. Your solution to that problem sends shivers down the spine of a great many nocturnals.”

I simply nodded to him. “It was what was required, and as the duly authorized agent of the local Lord, I was within my rights,” I told him.

“All of that for a simple priest,” the General said.

“All of that for a simple priest,” I replied, clearly refusing to discuss it.

The General just smiled. “Your claws are unsheathing, Cadet,” he said.

“It was a difficult time for me, sir. That priest was a close friend of mine,” I finally relented.

“It’s all right boy. We’re not worried about that. What we are worried about is the blood bath that is building in Birmingham.  When you go in there, you’re going to have to deal with the city’s transhuman guardian, Night Angel. Do you think you can handle it?”

          “I’ve never met the man, sir. However, I don’t think that we’d be likely to be on the opposite end of the situation,” I told him.

“Good to hear, my boy. Good to hear.” He pushed back in his big overstuffed chair and seemed to be studying me for a moment.  Finally, he asked, “How did you like your summer assignments?”

Caught off guard, I said, “I’m sorry, sir?”

“You did half of your summer assignments aboard an old style sailing boat, and half working with the SEALs. How’d you like it? Think you want to be a swabbie, a bubblehead, or a frogman?”

I smiled, “I liked the SEALs. I think my particular background will fit in well there.”

He just chuckled and said, “Don’t count on the cold war lasting forever, Cadet. The security situation in the world is shifting, that red hair of yours will stand out like a sore thumb, in the areas where conflict is showing signs of heating up.”

“That’s what hair dye is for, sir.” I told him.

He actually laughed out load. “You’ve got salt water in your veins don’t you, boy?”

I smiled and replied, “Yes sir.”

“For a moment there, I thought I might be able to pry you away from Ed, here,” he said nodding toward Admiral Waller.

“Not quite, sir. My father was a naval officer, and I plan to be so as well,” I told him.  Actually it was the fact that my father had earned the Congressional Medal of Honor that got me into the Academy. I didn’t have to compete to get in, I had the slot automatically, and I wasn’t about to lose it.   Actually, I could have applied it toward West Point, but I fully intended to walk in my father’s shoes as a naval officer. The Gods however, had a different idea as I would find out twelve years later when the UN passed Resolution 1666, banning all transhumans from military service.

He smiled back at me and said. “Very well, if you’ll take the assignment, you’ve got thirty days to keep Birmingham from degenerating into a blood bath between the nocturnals.”

I looked at him and asked, “Besides the fact that it’s my job, what kind of compensation will I get for not having my leave? What kind of authority will I have on behalf of the government, and what kind of resources do I have to draw on?” I may be an officer cadet in the US Navy, but I’m not going to let anyone- not even the government take advantage of me. That leave is important to a cadet, and to a service member.

The general and the admiral exchanged glances and grinned.  Finally, the Admiral shrugged, grinned and added, “He’s right. He’s giving up his leave time to do something for the government.  He did say that he was planning to visit a young lady in England.” I wasn’t sure what the Admiral’s angle was, but I welcomed it. I would have taken care of this problem no matter what, but since the government wanted me to do the job, they could at least give me something for it.

The general chuckled again, “We can restore your leave at the end of your graduation. Instead of one month of leave before going to the fleet, you get two. You will have the status of a ‘special agent at large’ for the Department for Nocturnal Affairs. That should keep the local police off your back. We can give you access to standard DNA equipment.  That’s a government car, a firearm, and field kit.”

I smiled and asked, “Can I get that part about the leave in writing from the SecNav’s office?”

“I’ll take care of it, Cadet Greenbough,” Admiral Waller said.


          Wesley’s Booby Trap was on Highway 78 just inside the Jefferson county line. It was dark and smelled of stale sweat, cheap beer, and mostly unfulfilled sexual desire. The topless waitresses who were taking orders and serving drinks were nothing like what they showed in Penthouse and Hustler. Mostly they were mid-twenties, somewhat attractive, and a pleasant distraction from the watered-down beer and general griminess of the place.

          My waitress, her name was Gypsy, had made it clear that she was willing to see me when she got off work- for a price of course. She was in her early twenties, rather short, well built with a thin waist and an impressive set of enticements up top. She said that she was paying her way through college, and lived over on the western side of Walker County. The pungent odor of sex that wafted from her told my enhanced senses that for the right price; she’d not make a patron wait until she got off work.

          This kind of atmosphere would set most 18 year old boys’ heads swimming, but to be honest, it sort of turned me off. I had managed to find a rather unique way of curbing my own appetites over the past year at the Academy and found this rather tawdry collection of women and booze to be less than appetizing. Besides, after Emory, most of these girls didn’t even make masturbatory material.

          Even so, I wasn’t here to get my lance waxed. I was here to meet JD.  This was the closest I felt comfortable to getting to Walker County and home until I got the lay of the land. General Presley had said that one of the vampires had gotten control of the werewolf packs.  I wanted more information before I stuck my whiskers into a hornets’ nest.

          I’d had the good sense to use my alfar shape-shifting abilities to let my hair grow out to a respectable length and simply let my beard grow out into a deep copper stubble over my lower face. I didn’t want to have “military” written all over me. Most of the patrons in the bar were working class Joes; tree-trimmers, construction workers, and carpenters. They came here, usually on a Friday night like tonight to escape their wives or girlfriends, the heat, and to simply have a beer.

          With my six two frame and two-hundred and twenty five pounds of muscle, I fit right in. Of course, I’d left the 9mm out in the Jeep. The car was a throw away piece of shit I bought when I flew into Atlanta. I didn’t want to take the government up on the offer of a car because it would stand out in places like this. Any trouble I could deal with physically, and didn’t want to have to explain the 9mm to the local police.

          I sat nursing a rather bitter, watered-down PBR and waited. Gods I missed my grandfather’s brewer! This stuff tasted like it had been run through a garden hose and stored in an old steamer trunk. I watched as the waitresses flirted and overcharged the patrons for their drinks. There were a few women patrons in here; most of them “professional”, but an occasional desperate one who simply wanted company.

          After about an hour of minding my own business I started noticing that there was a big guy in the corner watching me. He didn’t seem friendly at all. I could feel his eyes on me, especially whenever I was dealing with Gypsy. I couldn’t figure out if he was concerned that I was going to take her up on her offer, or that I wouldn’t.

          Before the situation could be resolved, I heard the roar of several motorcycles outside.   Of course most of the patrons couldn’t hear it, but I could. Not long after I heard the motorcycles’ engines shut down about ten men and women strode into the darkened room.

          Immediately, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stiffen. I could smell the death on the lead biker; I could see the black aura surrounding him, engulfing him like some dark cloak. It wasn’t evil, it wasn’t even malicious, it was simply death.

          He was dressed in jeans, a leather jacket and a heavy leather belt. He was of average height, but built like a wall of muscle.  His dark hair was pulled back into a ponytail and his face was weather-beaten. On a leather thong a small gold hammer hung around his neck.  I wondered if he knew what the symbol he wore meant. Most of the men and women with him were dressed in a similar jacket-even in the ninety plus degrees outside- the jeans, and the hard look.

          Right after the last one filed in, a familiar face entered as well. A year had left their marks on him, but nothing could hide his scent. I’d never forget it, as long as I lived. JD scanned the bar and then smiled as he saw me in the gloom across the room. I could see his eyes shift in the low light, so as to better see me with.

          With a simple glance at the vampire taking a table in the corner, he strode across the room and sat down at my table. I had to give him his due; he’d grown into his attitude over the past year.  “You picked a strange place to meet,” he indicated Gypsy at a nearby table. “Not exactly your type.”

          I smiled, and took a sip of my PBR, grimaced at the taste and said, “Neither is this, but I have to do what I have to do.”

          “You some kinda’ spy now?” he asked.

          I shook my head, “Nah, I just heard the pack could use some help. I decided that I’d better check out lay of the land before I stuck my whiskers into the county.”

          “Brighter boy than I gave you credit for,” he laughed and ordered a beer.

          “Thought you didn’t drink,” I commented.

          “It’d stand out if I didn’t. I can always puke later,” he told me.

          “What’s the situation? I heard there was a vampire in Birmingham causing problems; something about him taking control of the packs, and using them in some kind of vampire war?”

          JD nodded and answered, “She calls herself Bloody Mary, and she lives up to the name.  She doesn’t care who gets bitten, or who gets killed. She has complete control of the Birmingham packs. She’s starting to drag our wolves into the fight now.”

          “I didn’t think your dad would allow that to happen,” I told him.

          I could see the emotion in his face, the hurt. “Dad passed away about six months ago, Kendall, the new pack leader isn’t very strong.”

          “Why didn’t someone tell me?” I demanded. “You know I wouldn’t let you stand alone in something like this.

          He shook his head, “It was after your mom and dad went to Europe. I didn’t want you to break with your studies, so I didn’t say anything.”

          “You should have said something. I could have taken leave. Your dad was like a second father to me,” I told him and meant it. Mr. Williams and my father had helped raise a whole pack of rowdy boys with a unique relationship with the moon. They both had left their mark on all of us.

          “Your mom?” I asked.       

          JD shook his head, “The new pack leader isn’t that strong. He knows if he tries it, I’ll kill him.”

          I hadn’t considered that aspect of pack law. If he was afraid of JD, then he definitely wouldn’t have the balls to try to take JD’s mom as a mate. And if he didn’t, that would be a sign of weakness. The pack was obviously not in good hands.  “When?” I asked.

          “When what?”

          “When do you make your move? The pack won’t survive without strong leadership.  You have to take control.”

          He shook his head, “I don’t know if I can. I don’t know if they’ll follow me.”

          I laughed, “Your core pack will follow you. They followed you to Jotunheim and into battle against a giant. You don’t have to do this alone. I’ll stand with you. The pack of the Blood Moon will stand with you.”

          He shook his head, “You may be considered almost pack, but this is pack politics, and in pack politics, you don’t get a say.”

          I looked at him, “I know you’ll do what’s right, JD. I’ll help anyway I can, and you know that.”

          He smiled, “The best thing you can do is deal with Mary. I can keep most of our people out of it; even if I have to bust some heads.”

          I nodded and asked, “What about the Birmingham packs?”

          “Mostly, they’re a bunch of what people are calling youth gangs. They’re kids in bad neighborhoods that the pack leader picks and then bites. If they survive the bite and are affected by it, he takes them in and makes them part of his gang.  The gangs themselves he gets involved in all kinds of illegal shit. There’s extortion, prostitution, robbery, and just plain theft.   Now that Mary’s got him under her control, she pretty much controls most of the gang element of the city. She wants to expand out toward Walker County.”

          “I’ll worry about, Mary. You just keep your pack out of it and safe. If you have to kill the pack leader, then do what you have to.”

          JD shook his head, “Trey, you shake off killing people a lot easier than I do.”

          “Not people JD, you know me, I don’t go after baselines. However, when it comes to people like us, I’m sworn to stand between them and humanity. If your pack leader creates enough of a problem, I’ll take him out. That won’t look good for you or the pack.”

          JD sighed, “I know. I just got hired as a deputy sheriff and don’t want to endanger that.   Bodies have a tendency to show up, you know. We got lucky with that bunch of UN idiots last year. Nobody came looking for them.”

          I nodded. He was right.  He couldn’t just kill Kendall and get away with it.  It was going to take quite a bit of planning to make this happen. I got the feeling that Kendall meant it to be that way.  “That’s because although we didn’t know it at the time, that was a sanctioned kill. Let me see what I can do.”

          “Okay.  Now what else did you need to know?” he asked.

          “Basically where can I find the various packs that’ll lead me to Mary?” I asked.

          “You won’t like the neighborhood,” he said.

          “Why does that not surprise me?”

          “They are centered over in Ensley, but they’ve got branches in Dolomite and out in Bessemer.   Pick the worst neighborhood a white boy can stick his face in, and you’ve got it.”

          “You saying these wolves are going into black neighborhoods and turning the young people there?” I asked shaking my head. “That’s all I need.”  After that whole mess with Sands a few years ago, race relations in the city were pretty much at an all time low. I chuckled to myself and thought, wonder what they would think about a half-alf in the mix. That ought to make them think.

          “Exactly,” he told me. “Mary may not, but I’m sure the pack leader is likely to try and turn this into a race thing.”

          “Well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” I told him.

          “Trey, what are you doing here?” he asked. “I mean, this isn’t kind of thing you are supposed to get involved with.  You’re supposed to be learning to be a sailor or something.”

          I smiled and shook my head before replying, “I was asked to look into it because of my contacts here.”

          “Because of the pack,” he said.

          “I don’t really think so,” I told him. “I think that they wanted someone who could meet Night Angel on his own turf.”

          JD raised an eyebrow, and chuckled, “They want you to go toe to toe with Night Angel?”

          “No, just someone that can work with him,” I told him.

          He looked down and checked his watch, “Look, I’d stay out of the pack war that’s coming. Let me handle Kendall. As for what you got to do, take care of yourself. Last thing I want to deal with is a vampiric weretiger. I’ve got to go. I’m on duty in 45 minutes and it’ll take me that long to get there.” He reached out and squeezed my shoulder. “Take care Trey. Come see me when this mess is over and we’ll get into my uncle’s shine.”

          I looked down at the PBR in my hand, “Hope it’s better than this stuff.”

          He smiled as he stood and replied, “I’ll make sure of it. Gotta’ go.” He tossed two bucks on the table for the waitress and left.

          I sat there and thought about what he said. The advantage of the packs being centered in Bessemer, Dolomite, and Ensley was that those were areas where I was less likely to come into direct conflict with Night Angel at first. They were a little out of his regular patrol range.  It would give me a chance to sneak in and get some site intelligence.

          “You seem like a man with a problem,” the vampire asked me. I had not heard him approach, and mentally kicked myself for forgetting about him.

          I looked up and then around. I realized that most of the regular patrons had left, including the ugly guy watching me. I was alone in a room full of vampires. I raised an eyebrow and smiled, “I have.” Looking around again, I added, “The question is, just how much of a problem.”

          The man laughed and sat down next to me. I could sense the aura of death around him, but no animosity. It was as if I were talking to a force of nature. “Don’t worry; we’re not here to cause trouble.”

          “Then why are you here?” I asked.

          He laughed again and replied, “I’m here to find a home. It’s time I settled down, and founded a steading.”

          “A steading?” I asked. He was using the terms of my own background. That wasn’t something I was expecting.

          He chuckled and raised an eyebrow, “A steading, a hoff, a place to call home and worship the Gods.”

          I raised an eyebrow, “I thought that all vampires were Godless blood sucking fiends from beyond the grave.” I know, I know, it’s a movie line, but I said it before Luke Perry did.

          “Not quite,” he said. “I heard that Birmingham was wide open for settlement. I decided that I might come here and settle down. I’m not looking to start a fight.”

          I smiled at him, “You may get one whether you want it or not. Right now the city’s vampires are in the middle of a power struggle.  It might be best if you laid low until this mess gets straightened out. There’s going to be a whole lot more going to meet the final death before this is over. If you don’t want to be involved, it might be best to wait this one out.”

          He seemed to consider what I was saying while his eyes kept darting back to the hammer around my neck. After a few moments, he asked, “You’re one of Freyja’s aren’t you? I heard that several years back one of hers raised all kinds of ruckus in Vanaheim. You wouldn’t be that one, would you?”

          “Depends on how you define ruckus,” I told him. “The giants killed someone close to me. I returned the favor,” I told him.

          “That would be the one. They’re calling it the Night of the Howls. Lots of people are talking about how it’s the first time a magecat has been seen in public since World War 2.”

          “Lots of people?” I asked.

          “Well, not the normals, if that’s what you mean. But among the unnaturals, you’ve cut a pretty wide swath for yourself,” he told me.  “Built a good name, and you know what the Havamal says about a good name.”

          “Actually, it’s glory,” I told him as I got up, “but it applies to a good name as well.”  I tossed several dollars on the table to pay for the beer before looking at him, “If I were you, I’d stay out of what’s about to happen. It’s not going to be pretty.” I know, it was probably stupid, the man hadn’t really done anything wrong, but I was at a point where I wanted to boil the problems down to as few as possible. If he wasn’t involved, I really didn’t care if he was the one who picked up the pieces and put the vampiric community back together. He had to be better than Mary.

          “I may just do that,” he said leaning back in his chair and looking toward his people.




          Several days of reconnoitering later, I ditched the old Jeep back behind a Baptist Church, crossed Warrior River Road and started walking back in the general direction of Wylam. I could tell I had entered a pack’s territory by the smell.  Their spoor was everywhere, and in some cases it was overwhelming. It was literally a case of who could piss higher up on the wall, the telephone pole, and the occasional tree. Dolomite wasn’t exactly a wonderful smelling place as it was, add to it the animal spoor of werewolves and it could be downright disgusting to anyone with enhanced senses.

          I remember when I was younger I heard these kinds of werewolves described as “weak-bloods”. The farther the werewolves were from their original line, the more tied to the moon they became, the stronger the beast was in them. Eventually, if this continued, the werewolves they made would not have a battle-form, be able to shift at will, nor be able to resist the pull of the full moon. I suspected the latter was the case already.

          I knew when I’d been tagged. These guys might be werewolves, but they were new at it, and they didn’t have the advantage of growing up as a wolf. They were too new to their abilities to be able to use them effectively. If I’d been home, or dealing with a long-established pack, I would have never seen them.

          This one was long and lanky, and his fur just didn’t seem to fit right. Just from the few glimpses I got, I knew my earlier assumption was correct. If they didn’t start breeding their wolves back into a stronger blood line soon, they’d be able to do little more than go out and howl at the moon three nights a month. He slipped past me into a walled off backyard as I made my way down an unlit street.

          It wasn’t long before I picked up a couple more scents of wolves that had joined him. I smiled to myself and kept walking. By now I knew even a base-line could feel the effects of being stalked by a supernatural predator.  It was the kind of thing that normal humans would feel as a shiver down the spine; or the hair on the back of their neck standing on end. Some people call it having someone step on their grave. These wolves had not even learned to mask their unnatural aura.  The difference was that I knew they were there, and I also knew how to deal with them.  I’d grown up around a pack of werewolves and as JD had pointed out. I understood pack tactics.

          As I approached an unlit lot, I knew that was where they would make their move.  In the distance, I could see them moving toward their “strike” spots. I looked around me, and off to either side and saw the two that were to be my “chase”, the ones who would drive me into the lot. I could see their muscles tense, broadcasting their intentions.  Damn these guys were clueless!

          As they began to move quickly toward me, suddenly the shadows around me seem to split, and a dark cloaked form emerged from the inky blackness. He was tall, blond, and very well built. Charcoal grey boots, gloves, and belt faded into the shadows of his matching cloak almost as well as the midnight blue costume he wore.  I recognized Night Angel from the few photos of Birmingham’s transhuman guardian that had been obtained over the years.

 Next to him was a tall redhead dressed in grey slacks and a matching turtleneck. She was carrying a huge matte-black automatic- complete with silencer. I could smell the silver in ammo. At her hip was a rather impressive array of weapons, including stakes, extra clips and vials that contained what I suspected to be holy-water. A gold cross hung from around her neck and nestled into a rather nice set of breasts.

          “If you want to live, run!” the woman hissed and started firing at the werewolves behind me.

          “Damn it!” I growled to myself. This was not going to work out the way I was hoping. I’d specifically chosen Dolomite because it was outside of Night Angel’s usual patrol area. I took off running toward the empty lot where I knew the rest of the pack was waiting.  I could hear the harsh “pffft”, “pffft” of the silenced automatic behind me.

          “Not that way!” the woman yelled behind me. “You’re running into a trap!”

          I just shook my head and increased my speed. As I entered the lot, I could see the large wolf-like forms slowly emerge from the shadows of the surrounding trees and buildings. They looked toward the approaching figure of the woman and then slunk back into the shadows.

          I turned around to see her come striding toward me, gun still in her hand.  She growled over at me, “You idiot!  You ran right into their trap!”

          I looked down at the gun and growled back, “I know. I meant to spring it, and you screwed it up! Do you always jump in guns a blazin’?”

          “When someone is about to get eaten by a werewolf, hopefully,” she said tersely and stepped up against me.

          “I can take care of myself. I wasn’t in any real danger. The day I can’t handle a pack of weak-bloods isn’t here yet!”

          Suddenly shadows exploded around both of us. I felt some kind of hard force suddenly between me and the woman.  “That’s enough! Both of you!” Night Angel appeared next to us. He turned toward me and said, “I think you might need to explain that last statement.”

          I looked over at him. I could feel the raw power of this man. He was the first of us to reappear since World War 2, and was a bit of a legend. Sure others like me had shown up; his own past teammates were not the least of them, and there was Sun Dancer and the first Dreamweaver working out of Miami.  But, he was the first, and in many ways the best.  This close I could see that his eyes were a rare neutral shade of lavender and that he was genuinely a very good-looking man. He smelled of exertion and green tea.

I reminded myself that I’d been in this area for as long as he had, and that I wasn’t a kid anymore to be impressed by my childhood idols, even though I was. I smiled at him and said, “The Federal Government sent me. They’re concerned that Birmingham is about to erupt into a blood bath. Some idiot has been killing every vampire in the Southeast whether they’re good guys or not. Now one of them has taken control of the werewolf packs in Birmingham and is trying to expand into the surrounding counties. It’s my job to stop it.”

“There are no good vampires,” the woman hissed at me. “They all are soulless, Godless, creatures that plague the human race.  They corrupt everything they touch and need to be put down to stop the corruption.”

“Be that as it may,” Night Angel said, “That doesn’t explain why you were willingly walking into what you knew was a werewolf ambush.”

“Because I knew that I could handle the attack and pin one or two of them to try to get closer to the vampire calling herself Bloody Mary,” I told him.

“And just how did you plan on handling half a dozen lycanthropes each weighing four hundred pounds or more?” she asked.

I growled over at her, “With a ton of ailuranthrope that has grown up with a whole pack of werewolves as friends.  I know werewolves, and I know how they fight and I’m simply better than they are- especially that bunch of weak bloods.” I felt my anger begin to rise again and stepped in against the field between us. “It’s my Goddess given job to stand between humanity and those nocturnals that would the free enchain. That commission does not include those who do not threaten humanity.”

“Goddess?!” she asked dismissively. “What goddess?”

I grinned and let my eyes and ears begin to shift, as I growled, “Freyja.” I could see her begin to swallow hard as I released the aura of the predator about me.  She seemed to snort in contempt but backed off. “That’s all I need, some kind of new-age crystallomancy wanna-be sticking his nose into the fight where it doesn’t belong. Werewolves are little better than vampires,” she nearly spat.  “And I don’t know what an ailuranthrope is.  I hunt vampires.”

“And evidently, you’re so damn good at it, that you don’t care what kind of bloodbath you set off in the process.  But I got news for you sister, you are either going to stop it, or I’m going to have to stop you,” I told her between clenched teeth.

“You and what army?” she asked. “I’ve been taking down vampires for most of my life.  Somehow I don’t think you’re likely to stand that much of a chance.”

“STOP IT! BOTH OF YOU!” Night Angel’s voice cut through us. He turned and looked at the woman and said, “Emerald, I’ve worked with you for a while now, and I think that your heart is in the right place.  Runeclaw, if you are who I think you are, I’ve watched your occasional appearance in and around this area for about three years.   You have always acted to protect lives. I think we need to go somewhere and talk about this.”

I shrugged at the use of the name some kid gave me after that fight in mall. “Might as well.  I won’t be tracking them back to Mary tonight,” I said in disgust.

I watched as the woman he called Emerald turned and faced the Dark Angel of Birmingham and said, “Okay, but somewhere where I can keep an eye on him.”

I rolled my eyes and Night Angel nodded.  His voice became very low and he said, “I have just the place, but I expect both of you to be on your best behavior.”

“I’m not about to attack her,” I told him. “I don’t attack humans, unless they offer a threat to the freedom and safety of others.” I turned and looked him dead in the eye and said, “And I don’t break the peace of host’s steading.”

“You are a strange man, Runeclaw,” he said.  Turning to the woman he asked, “And you?”

“I promise I’ll behave myself,” she replied.

“That’s a little vague, Em,” he said. “I know your sense of honor, and I know how intense you are about this thing. Do you promise to behave yourself?”

“Yeah, I promise,” she said slowly putting her gun away.   Her voice and eyes seem to soften when she spoke to him.

He nodded his head, and I saw something behind the flinty glare of the black mask he was wearing. “Good, let’s go.”

Suddenly I felt myself wrapped in shadows, and the world seemed to leap sideways. It felt cold, and there was feeling of unbelievable speed.  As quick as it started, it was over, and I found myself standing in a large room with several pieces of high tech equipment- okay, it was high-tech for 1983. “Exactly where are we?” I asked.

“This is the old headquarters for Paraforce.  It hasn’t been used in over a year,” he said.  I could hear a note of regret in his voice. “Feel free to look around. I trust your discretion in not touching anything you shouldn’t”

I took a moment to take in the place. I couldn’t believe I was actually here.  JD, Kevin, Tanya, and I used to speculate about whether this place even existed, and what it would be like. The room we were in was large, and circular with banks of all kinds of equipment and computers along the walls. There were four main consoles. The first one had a blue icicle painted on the back of the chair- a white mask was laid across the head-rest. Frost had died in battle against Red October a little over a year ago.  The second had small ball of flame on it. Flame had retired after her death. The third had a white star with wings coming from either side, on a field of red and blue.  Another mask lay across it. Ms. Freedom had been the first but not the last to fall to the villain Twilight. Lastly was field of midnight blue with an off-kilter white halo on it.

As I looked around I saw a large three dimensional map of the city under a half globe off in one corner. Next to it was a door that led into what looked like a briefing room.  Night Angel was standing in the room looking up at a portrait on the wall of the original team.  They looked more like a bunch of kids than they did the first parahuman team since Strike Force Liberty and Home Guard fought the good fight in World War 2.  “We were young and thought we were invulnerable,” he said quietly. I could sense a deep pain in that voice. This man had lost so much in life had given so much to this city.

I didn’t say anything; I just let him stand there. I was in the presence of a living legend and I wasn’t about to interrupt anything he said at this point.   Finally, he turned and looked at me gestured to a seat and asked, “Exactly what are you plans, Runeclaw?”

I raised an eyebrow at the use of the name again.  Officially, I’d never taken a codename.   My grandfather had once said that I would forge a name for deeds done in the service of my Goddess, and it fit as well as any.  “I plan on hunting Bloody Mary down and removing her from the equation- permanently.”

He smiled at me and said, “A little blood thirsty, for one so young.”

I shook my head, “You don’t know the half of it.  I’m thane by nature, and by training.  I was created by my Goddess to stand between humanity and the kind of nocturnals that Bloody Mary represents.”

“Doesn’t sound like your mission is too different from mine and Emerald’s,” he said.

“The biggest difference between mine and hers though is that I don’t want to take down all the vampires- just the ones causing problems,” I told him.

“All the vampires cause problems,” Emerald said.

I stopped and raised an eyebrow to her. “How much do you know about nocturnal society?” I asked her.

“I know that the vampires have a hierarchy of prestige and power inside various cities, and that they communicate with each other across the world. I know that some are considerably older and more powerful than others. And I know that they take what they want, and damned be anyone who gets in their way,” she said.

I sighed and leaned back in the chair and said, “The hierarchy as you call it doesn’t only deal with vampires, but it deals with all nocturnals, be they vampire, mage, werewolf, or werecat.  There’s a very delicate balance of power maintained since the loss of the Prides at the Battle of Carpathia.  When they went, the police force if you would of the nocturnal community went with them. Now a few very old and very powerful nocturnals do their best to keep the younger and more volatile forces from tearing apart mortal society.  In the US, they work rather closely with the Department of Nocturnal Affairs- that’s who I’m working for right now.”

“And your point is?” she asked.

“My point is that when you started cutting a swath through the Southeastern United States, you took out the forces that kept the bad guys in line along with whatever monsters you encountered. Now, all that chaos has come to play in Birmingham. The real problem is that this Bloody Mary has taken control of the weak-blooded werewolves in the city. They’re basically gangsters, but they’re gangsters who can lift a Buick. She’s using the wolf packs to take out her rivals who are fighting for control of the other nocturnals of the city. The problem is, the wolf packs don’t care who they bite, or who they kill in this war, and the other vampires are forced to fight back in the same way.” I leaned forward this time and said and added, “You’ve gotten more normals killed in the past half-year than if you hadn’t staked a single vampire.”

“There are some things worse than death,” she said.

I laughed, “You got that right. I’ve seen some of them. I’ve also been warned about what’s coming. I don’t know what your problem with vampires is…,”

“I’m the daughter of a very powerful dampyr,” she said. “My father and I have been chasing Mary across this continent for nearly ten years.  I’m not going to let her get away,” she said.

I nodded my head, “Nobody’s asking you to.  What I and what the government needs you to do is not kill everything with fangs. If you’ve managed to do as much damage to the vampire population as it looks like, I don’t question your power. I don’t even question your motives. I do however, question your wisdom.”

“What? I should work with Godless killers?” she asked.

“What is it with you and this Godless thing?” I asked.

She became quiet and looked down, “My faith is all I’ve got left.”

I shook my head and said, “Then maybe you should rebuild what you’ve lost. I learned a very valuable lesson on the Night of the Howls…,”

“That really happened?” she looked up and asked.  “I thought it was just a tale for some werewolf to get into his girlfriend’s pants.”

I chuckled, “That’s possible. The werewolves that went with me are pretty randy bunch. But yes, it happened.  I’m surprised that anyone else has heard about it.”

“I do keep up with the nocturnal rumor mill.  It’s a good source for leads,” she said.

“Well, like I said, I learned a valuable lesson on that night.  Sometimes things are taken from us that we’d rather not lose. Sometimes they are more precious to us than our own lives. But we have to go on. We have to rebuild and we have make our lives better; if for no other sake than to make our children’s lives better.  I lost something on that night that will forever leave a gaping hole in my life. But I don’t let that loss define me.”

Night Angel looked rather astounded at what I said.  “So, how do you want to proceed? We won’t be able to track Mary tonight. To be honest, the night’s almost gone. What now?”

I looked over at him and then back to Emerald.  “You say your father and you have been chasing her for nearly ten years. Maybe we should talk to him. Get some more information.”

She sighed and said, “I’ve been chasing her for ten years, father has been chasing her almost a hundred.” She threw herself back in the chair and said, “She’s my grandmother.”

“I think Runeclaw is right,” Night Angel said.  “Maybe we need to talk to your father.”

She nodded, and said, “Meet me at sundown tonight at the south parking lot of Brookwood Mall. We can go from there to talk with him.”

“Sounds good,” I told her. “Maybe we can stop this madwoman before she turns half the city into nocturnals.”


          After Night Angel managed to drop me off at my car, I headed into Birmingham to my hotel.  I used my own credit card because I didn’t want to be stuck in some flea trap no-tell that the government was likely to spring for. Hell, it wasn’t like we didn’t have the money.

          I stopped off in the hotel’s dining room and decided on a breakfast before I hit the sack.  At 5:00 in the morning it was pretty deserted with only a single other diner in the corner.  He looked to be in his mid-teens and was chowing down on a big stack of pancakes, eggs- with cheese by the smell of them- and a pile of grits with bacon on the side; a big meal for a guy who looked like he still fit into a size 28 waist.

          As I settled in and the waitress took my order I caught myself watching him from behind my menu.  He had long strawberry-blond hair- like I said; guys with long hair have always been a turn-on for me- and very blue eyes. He had the same stub of an Irish nose that I did, and just a smattering of freckles across his face giving him a boyish charm.

          I took a moment to look at the book he was reading and was surprised to see that it was not only very old, but something I thought to never see a copy of.  Pondera Fabula was neatly typeset in Latin across the very old leather cover of the book- the Chronicles of Balance. This guy was either a nocturnal or knew about us, because that book was about the closest thing anyone could ever get to a real history of the nocturnal world- especially the worlds of vampires; werewolves; and werecats. Legend has it, that the author is one of the oldest vampires on earth.

          I got up and walked over to him asked, “Mind if I join you?”

          He looked up somewhat surprised to not have heard me approach. A lot of people don’t hear me approach, and some of them even survive it- more then than now. I watched as his pupils suddenly dilated then contracted quickly- he was using mage-sight.  His face filled with surprise. He looked me up and down again, and evidently liking what he saw, he said, “Uh, sure.”

          I smiled at him and asked in Latin, “Est ut a bonus libri?”

          He chuckled and said, “Very good actually. I am fortunate to have it on loan.”

          “Ah,” I said. “Books are like lovers, some of the best of them are on loan.” Boy did I not know how true that statement really was.

          He leaned back and looked me up and down again. Finally, he asked rather bluntly, “Tiger or lion?”

          I smiled. “Tiger, but probably not what you’re thinking,” I told him.

          “Oh, so you’re not one of Freyja’s?” he asked.

          “Okay,” I said, “Maybe it is what you think.”

          He grinned at me again and said, “I’m not sure you know what I’m thinking.”

          “Oh really?” I asked. “And what would that be?”

          “Let’s see. Magecat, about eighteen or nineteen, red hair, green eyes, in Birmingham. That would make you probably one of the Greenboughs, I’d say Trey. And since you are a magecat, I’d say that your interest is not just in the book I’m reading,” he said.

          “What makes you think that?”

          “You have a certain reputation, Mr. Greenbough,” he told me.

          “Really?” I asked.  “And what do you think of that reputation?”

          He smiled as the waitress brought my food. He waited until she’d poured us both another cup of coffee and was out of earshot. “I’d guess I’d have to ask how much of that reputation is real, and how much of it is exaggeration from the Pack of the Blood Moon?” he replied.

          “Don’t know what the pack’s sayin’ about me,” I told him.

          “Let’s see, that you’re one hell of fighter, and that you’ll bed anything that is willing,” he said.

          “Is that an offer?” I asked. I could see the lust in his eyes already.

          “Let’s just say, professional curiosity,” he replied.

          “What profession?” I asked.

          “Magic,” he said.

          “Ah, aren’t you a little young to be a mage?”

          “Is that anything like, being a little short to be a storm trooper?” he asked.

          “Nobody’s ever accused me of being too short,” I told him biting into my eggs.

          “Interesting,” he said. “But no, I’ve been studying magic for about two years now.” He smiled and offered his hand saying, “I’m Alec Frostbridge.”

          I took the hand and replied, “Trey Greenbough, but you’d already figured that out.”

          “The perils of great deeds, Mr. Greenbough,” he said.

          “So, what was about the profession of magic that piqued your curiosity about me?” I asked him.

          “Who said it had anything to do with magic that piqued my curiosity?”

          “You did. Or at least you implied it.”

          “I was just wondering if your tail got in the way when you’re casting,” he said with an impish smile.

          “Huh?” I asked.

          “Your tail. Does it get in the way when you’re casting?” he repeated and then glanced down at my jeans clad butt.

          “Is that all you want to know about my tail?” I asked.

          “Well, we are in public,” he said with a smile. “But I do have one more question. Then I’ll leave you to your breakfast.” He stood up and closed the book. He came around the table, leaned over into my ear and whispered, “If I scratch you at the base of your tail will you purr for me?”  He then laid a key on the table next to my plate.

          Damn!  He was forward for someone so young.  I finished my meal in record time.  I don’t think I even tasted it which probably a good thing. High-end restaurants usually don’t do a very good job on country food. I paid for meal and headed up to room 1015 with a spike beginning to form in my jeans.

          I could hear the shower running through the door, but then again, I could hear the couple snoring in the room next to that, and I could hear the soft grunts of the couple in the room across the hall as they engaged in a bit of early morning fun.  From the general odors I was getting, I think it was two men. I opened the door, feeling a tingle against my skin and let myself in.  Locking it behind me, I stripped there in the hall and stepped into the bathroom.

          The room was foggy from the steam coming from the shower. “You coming in or not?” he asked.

          I didn’t need a second invitation. I pushed the glass door aside and stepped into the hot shower with him. His eyes were closed as he was rinsing the conditioner from his hair, now almost blood red in the water. With his arms stretched back over his head, I got a good look at him. Like I said, he was probably about sixteen, and was rather lithe in build- skinny even.   His skin was smooth and unblemished, but slightly red from the heat of the water.  There was a sunken area at the wings of his hip bones that created a nice valley leading down the tangle of reddish brown curls above his long flaccid dick. A small appendectomy scar, still somewhat purple indicating that it was fairly recent, seemed to draw line pointing to his manhood.

          The damn thing was a good six inches long and it wasn’t even the least bit hard.  Also, unlike most men my age, he was like me: uncut. The foreskin bunched up at the end of his member giving it a slight nipple-like appearance. Nipples were meant to be nursed on, and I intended to do just that.

          I dropped to my knees and felt the hot water splash over me and run down my back as I reached out and took it in my hand and then gently sucked it into my mouth.  I heard him groan slightly as I took the soft piece of meat deep to the back of my throat. A whole summer of practice with Ridvin had prepared me for this kind of thing.

          I felt him begin to get hard in my mouth as I gently sucked on his dick.  His hands dropped to my head, and he began to thrust back and forth. Within a few strokes, I had a good nine inches of meat in me and he was fucking my face furiously.  I reached behind him and grabbed a hand full of his ass and slowed him down a bit.  After a few thrusts, I dropped one to cup his balls, as I slipped the other one against the tight sphincter of his ass.

          Suddenly he groaned and the dick in my mouth surged as I felt something hot and sweet splash against the back of my throat. I held him as he shuddered against me and drained his first load down my throat.  Like a kitten with cream, I licked the last drops from my lips and stood up. Pulling his body tight against mine, I kissed him solidly.

          His tongue pressed hard against my lips and I opened my mouth to let him in.  Before long his tongue was dancing against mine as his hands were running along my body. He pulled back for a second and said, “That was a good start for round one.  What about round two?”

          I grinned at him and said, “Round one isn’t over until we both get off.” I pointed down to where my dick was at its full seven inches, and was shining with a mixture of water and precum.

          “Let’s get out of this water and get horizontal,” he said.

          “Fine with me,” I told him. “But if you don’t mind, I’ve been kind of busy tonight, so a quick shower might be in order.  After all, it’d be rude of me to crawl in your bed smelling like weak blooded werewolf.”

          He stiffened suddenly when I mentioned weak bloods. I could see fear in his eyes. “What?” I asked.

          “Uh, nothing,” he said. “Sorry. I just don’t deal with weak-bloods very well.” I could smell the fear come off him like the spoor of an animal.

          “Well, you don’t have to worry about them here,” I said and pulled him to me.  I reached behind him and took the soap and began to wash his body. I knew he was about to bolt, and I didn’t want that. He needed calming and I knew just the thing. Besides, I don’t like my lovers to smell like fear. I could feel him relax as I ran the soap over his body.  I also watched as his dick became semi-hard again.  Good, he’s not a one shot wonder, I thought to myself.

          Before long, he took the soap from me and began to wash my body. The year at the Academy had done a good job on me. I was already a fairly big guy when I entered; standing six two and two hundred twenty-five pounds. The regime at Annapolis had only managed to tone and define my musculature.  I could proudly say that I looked a hell of a lot better than Christopher Reeves as Superman did at that time.

          I could feel his long delicate fingers begin to run up and down my hard body, and began to wonder who was getting more out of his ministrations: me or him. He reached behind himself, turned off the water, and got down to the serious business of building a thick lather of soap across my body. When his hands dropped to my hard dick, he gave it a lot of long loving attention until it was literally covered from tip to balls in a thick lather.

          Then, he turned around and faced the wall and stuck his butt out. I smiled to myself and leaned in against him. “You sure about this?” I asked into his ear as I lined up the head of my lathered cock with his hole.

          He turned and kissed me hard on the mouth, before pulling back and saying, “Oh yeah.”

          With a single steady even pressure I felt the head of my cock slide past his tight ring, and slip deep inside him. He inhaled deeply and plastered himself against the tiled wall. “Are you okay?” I asked as I brought my body to lay flat against his.   

          “I’m okay,” he said. “That just feels fantastic.” He thrust his hips back against mine.

          “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” I teased him.

          “A few times. I only started liking this part this past summer though,” he said. “Before that, most of my lovers had either been too young to figure out how to make it fun, or just didn’t care.”

          I nodded, bit down on his ear gently, and began to thrust in and out of him. I reached around and grabbed his now hard dick and began to pump it in my fist. As I would push into him, I’d pull my fist back with a slight squeeze, and as I pulled out, I’d push it forward to completely cover the head with his foreskin.

          Before long we reached a steady rhythm that grew faster with our needs. I felt him reach back with both hands and grab my butt and squeeze hard as he groaned into the tile. After a few moments he roamed them further along the crack of my ass.  At first I thought he was seeking my hole, but then his hand raked up to the bottom of my spine and felt around.  I finally realized what he was looking for. I bit his ear, and he groaned again as I said, “Sorry, no tail in the shower.  You have no idea how long it takes the fur to dry.”

          He nodded and pushed his butt back to meet mine, laying just the palms of his hands and his forehead against the tile. “Fuck me,” he grunted.  “Hard.”

          I grabbed him by the front of his jutting hip bones and began to pound him harder.  He reached around and began stroking his own dick in time with my thrusts. Don’t worry, I was still careful.  Up until this point, I’d never had a lover I could really cut loose with my strength with, so I was very careful. It just wouldn’t do to knock him through the shower wall and out into the hall.

          I felt a familiar churning in my balls, and my own need began to rise. A few hard thrusts later, I pulled him hard back against me and filled his ass with my cum. That must have set him off, because I could smell his own spunk as it splashed into the tiles of the shower and he trembled all over.

          Without taking my dick out of his ass, I reached over and turned the water back on and began to rinse us both off. When I finally pulled out of him, I noticed a little bit of blood around the head of my dick and realized that maybe soap wasn’t the best lube to use in the future.  I pointed to it, and said sheepishly, “Sorry.”

          He just smiled and said, “It’s okay. It felt good.”

          I had no idea what the consequences of what I’d seen were going to be. I wouldn’t either until the mission was over and got a visit from a werewolf that reminded me of my responsibilities when dealing with baselines- even if they were mages.

          But that was then. He just smiled up at me and helped me rinse off. As we stepped out of the shower, he took a huge soft bath towel and began to dry me off.  I returned the favor and we moved out into the main suite.

          I picked up my clothes and tossed them onto the chair, and looked around. This was one of the nicer suites that the hotel offered. It suggested that he at least had the means to be traveling on his own.  His suitcase was unpacked and his things were in the closet which told me he would be staying in town a while.  There was a leather bag with runes carved on them in one corner. I recognized the staves as being protection runes. Their construction looked sort of familiar and I wondered who taught him how to rist them. A sketch pad lay on the bed, and I watched him carefully, as he walked across the room, and climbed onto the bed. He dropped he pad onto the floor and smiled at me.

          “Are you going to be one of those wham, bam, thank you, man types, or do you want to stick around for a while?” he asked.

          I grinned at him and joined him on the bed, feeling my half hard dick sway against my thighs as I crossed the room. I crawled up onto the bed with him and said, “I’ll warn you though. I’ve been awake for the past twenty-six hours.  I’m likely to ravish you a couple of more times, and then fall asleep.”

          He smiled and began to gently play with my dick. “That’s okay. I sort of like the idea of being ravished by someone like you.”  There was something in his tone that suggested that he’d been ravished before, and not by someone he wanted to do it.

          I stopped, pulled his hand from my dick and said, “I won’t do anything to you, that you don’t want me to do.”

          He nodded and said, “I know that. You’re one of the good guys.”

          He really was a babe in the woods. I took his hand and said, “And don’t trust people that easily. I’m not going to take advantage of you, but you can’t always trust anyone just based on their reputation.”

          He smiled and said, “But you’re one of Freyjas. That means your reputation has to be right.  I’ve read the Havamal, and I know what it says about a good name.”

          “Damn it,” I said. “That line was originally meant to be about glory, not reputation. Don’t think that everybody will interpret it the way you do.”

          “Oh, I know they won’t. But if you’d really meant to do me any harm, you wouldn’t have gotten in the door,” he said.

          Suddenly I realized what that tingle was I felt entering the room. I chuckled and said, “And don’t count on those wards always working.  I’m the room now, and could change my mind.”

          “Better take another look around,” he said holding my now hard dick firmly.

          I let my eyes slip into mage sight and looked around. There was as second level of wards in the room- especially centered around the bed.  Anyone who took a violent action in this room, was likely to get a very nasty surprise.  Now that ward I recognized, it was something Emory had taught me. “Who taught you that?” I asked carefully.

          “I told you a recent lover had taught to me to learn to like getting fucked.  It was part of the payment for him teaching the runes,” Alec told me.

          “Yeah, I recognize the staves on your satchel. The problem is, I only know one person I ever taught those staves to.”

          “Oh? You know Emory?” Alec said. “Nice guy isn’t he?”

          I just about choked right there. “Emory?” I asked.

          “Yeah, Emory Robins; he spells his last name funny too. Half the time he sticks an apostrophe before the s,” Alec told me.

          I raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

          “Of course you know him. He has a Thor’s Hammer just like yours. Never seen another one quite like those.”

          I looked down at my hammer. It was relatively unique being as it only had one twin. My grandfather Galdrson made matching hammers for me and Emory. Evidently, my little English Rose was taking a male form for the summer, and was back in the US.  Wonder why she hadn’t called me. “When did you run into Emory?” I asked.

          “He’s in New Orleans right now, helping the chancellor get rid of a rather nasty faction of necromantic vampires that are causing problems.  Doctor Leger asked the DNA for help; he wanted someone who could work with werewolves easily. They borrowed Emory from the British, and the first couple of days he was there, were hilarious.”

          “Oh?  How so?” I asked.

          “He had to take control of the packs and really opened up a can of whoop-ass on a couple pack enforcers and an alpha. At least one of them now has white fur growing in the opposite direction from the lightening scores. We’ve started calling him Stripes. The other enforcer’s fur ain…, uh hasn’t grown back yet.”

          I smiled at his slip of the tongue. He was fighting his Cajun accent with vengeance.  “Okay, but what’s sh..., uh he doing down there?”

          “Culling the blood-mages and necromancers. He’s also laying down a whole new set of laws for the chancellor.  Some of ‘em don’t like it. I mean, Doctor Leger has made the emergency service personnel, and the people who run the city, off limits as well as tourists.  And you don’t want to know what’s happening to anybody who feeds off, let alone turns a kid. Let’s just say, there are some things that are far worse than the final death.”

          I shuddered to think about that. Still the idea of Emory posing a man was intriguing. The idea that she’d fucked this guy- as a man- was even more so.  No, to be honest, that was just hot.  I never thought I would be getting her sloppy seconds. But to be honest, I think she’d done the guy some good. He at least had learned that some lovers don’t hurt when they fuck you.  “So, he’s been teaching you to use the runes, and you’ve been paying for it in the traditional manner.”

          He smiled and said, “Yeah. I’d like there to be more between us, but I don’t think that will ever happen.”

          “Why not?” I asked.

          “Because I think he’s given his heart to someone else. I think now, he’s just entertaining himself until the time’s right to make his move,” Alec told me.  “Still, I have to admit that there will always be a special place in my heart for him.”

          “You and me, both Alec. You and me both,” I told him.

          He smiled up at me and said, “Of course you could always take up a special place there too.”

          “I think you and I are probably going to end up in different directions,” I told him gently. “We can have here, and now, and who knows; maybe even get together later. But right now, I have things to do, and I think you do to.” I hoped I hadn’t hurt him.

          He nodded and sighed. “I know.  I thought as much.”

          I took him by the chin and said, “That doesn’t mean that we can’t play. That doesn’t we can’t care about each other, and that doesn’t we can’t be friends.  But I’m cadet in the US Naval Academy. Things wouldn’t go over well, if I brought a girlfriend back, and they sure as hell wouldn’t go over well if I brought a boyfriend. Besides, I think that maybe you have some things to do before you settle down with any one person. I think there’s a few unresolved issues going on.”

          He nodded and said. “Okay.” Leaning in he kissed me soundly and said, “But like you said; we can still play, and there’s one thing I would really like to play with.”

          I raised an eyebrow and said, “You’re playing with it now.”

          He smiled and shook his head. I want to see your natural form. I want to play with that. I want to play with your tail.”

          “Now that I can do,” I told him. I let my body relax and shifted into my base form, complete with tail, ears at the top of my head, and the soft fur and tiger markings. I leaned over and began to kiss him seriously, and we went for round two and then round three, and round four. I did finally manage to make it back to my room around eleven that morning, leaving a satiated and exhausted Alec to his own bed.


          I got up around seven and made a few phone calls before I finally got a contact number for Emory in New Orleans. A male voice answered the phone, and asked, “May I speak to Emory Robins please?”

          “Speaking,” the voice came back somewhat confused.

          “It’s Trey.”

          “Hey,” she said non-comittally. “How’s the Academy?”

          “Right now, I guess it’s a good thing I gave up my leave to come to Birmingham for my parents’ employer instead of going to England.”

          “Well, I was hoping this assignment would be over before your leave came up.”

          “So how much of this semester at Oxford did you miss?”

          “None.  I finished the course work before this assignment came up.  You wouldn’t believe how much some of my classmates are offering me for a copy of the finals.”  I could sense her humor even through the strange voice.

          “I met one of your students,” I told her.

          “Must be Alec. I’ve only had one student.” I could hear the teasing in her voice, “Have fun?”

          “Oh yeah, you’re a good teacher.”

          She laughed, “So what’s going on there, besides the normal difficulties.”

          I sighed and told her, “JD’s dad died a few months back. Nobody thought to inform me.  There’s a pack war starting, and I’m supposed to bring down a big bad vampire who’s causing all kinds of trouble, while at the same time stopping a hunter from indiscriminately killing anything already dead.”

          “Yeah, well, it sucks to be in Birmingham, and not in a good way,” she said.

          “Need me to pop out and head over for a little while?” she asked. “We’re in a bit of a lull here.”

          “No, but I do need to know how good Alec is, and I don’t mean as a lay,” I told her.

          “If he lives long enough to reach his full potential, you’d better hope he never goes bad.  He’s better at what you call on-the-fly casting than I am. Give him another year or so with the runes, and he’ll be apprenticing with your grandfather.”

          I whistled lowly. “Think I can draft him for this mission?”

          “Wolves or vampires?”

          “Both really. We’ve got rogue pack leader and vampire who controls them,” I told her.

          “Yeah, just don’t expect anything on the opposing side to live once he gets going.  Especially when it comes to the wolves; his family was murdered by a pack of Directive werewolves. He was captured by them, and used.”

          “Used?” I asked.

          “Repeatedly,” she said. “He only escaped when this city’s new chancellor came into the fight. He’s a day-walker and they weren’t expecting him to mount a rescue effort for a single thirteen year old kid in the middle of the day.”

          “I see,” I told her. “I’ll keep that in mind. I knew he had some problems, but didn’t think they went that deep.”

          “Oh, I think he’s pretty well balanced for someone who’s been through what he has.  He just doesn’t react to weak-bloods that well.”  I could almost see her shrug, “Actually, he either runs from them, or incinerates them.  Doctor Leger is trying to keep him out of the mess here, so he sent him there with two of his agents to talk to a very powerful damned there. They’re trying to get him to step in on the fight with your werewolf controlling vampire.”

          “Em?” I asked.


          “How did we get mixed up in all this?”

          “We were in the wrong place at the right time. Somebody has to do it.  I chose to help, and you were chosen by your Goddess.”

          I sighed and told her, “As long as there’s a reason.”

          “There is. It may not be the best reason at times, but there is.  Somebody’s got make sure the normals live, and that appears to be our job,” she said.

          “Okay.  If I get this cleared up in time, I’ll try to make it the Big Easy. But to be honest, I’ve got less than thirty days, and before it’s all said and done, I expect I’m going to have to help JD out.”

          “Call me when it comes time to help JD,” she said. “I’ll be there if for nothing else, just to help him hide the body.”

          “If I get a chance, I will. But I can’t promise. I get the feeling things are going to happen fast.”

          “And messy,” she said. “I get the feeling they’re going to be messy.”

          We continued to talk for a few moments and then ended the call. It was good to reconnect with her, even if she was wearing a man’s body for the duration.  After we hung up, I got a shower and changed into some working clothes: jeans, a black tee-shirt, and black ball-cap. Even though the temperature was in the high nineties with nearly a hundred percent humidity, I pulled on a dark blue windbreaker and slipped my 9mm down the back waistband of my jeans. I’d already replaced all the rounds with silver.



          It was nearly nine when the sun finally disappeared in the western horizon, and I was leaning against the hood of the Jeep I’d bought for this mission.  Looking around I could see a lot kids heading in and out of the mall, talking, laughing, and just generally being teen agers.  Was it only a year ago, that I was one of them? Was it only three years ago, that Emory and I fought Fer Forge` here? It seemed like a lifetime, and a whole different person.  I watched a bright green Mazda RX-7 pull into the parking lot and Emerald got out and faced me. She took a deep breath as she walked over to me. “I owe you an apology.  You were right about the chaos I’d created. You were also right about your tactics to chase down the werewolves. I still think you’re wrong about this whole Goddess thing, though.” I think she threw that one in as a way of saving face.

          “We each find our Gods in our own way, Emerald,” I told her. I tilted my head and asked, “What brought this on?”

          “I had a long talk with my father. He sort of knocked some sense into me.” I watched her blush deeply. “I think he was hoping Wa…, uh, Night Angel would do it.”

          That comment told me a whole lot more than she thought it did. It also confirmed what I’d been suspecting about Night Angel’s comment concerning  his working with her. “Apology accepted,” I told her offering my hand.

          She smiled, and took it with surprising strength. For a second there, I thought it was going to turn into one of those John Wayne McClintock moments, but she let go after a second and I realized that she was simply genuinely upset about what she’d been told. “How long do you think it will be before Night Angel gets here?”

          “I suspect he’s already here,” she said. “Probably watching us from a distance to see what’s going to happen. He’s very paranoid that way.”

          “He has reason to be,” I told her.

          “You admire him don’t you,” she asked out of the blue.

          I nodded and said, “Very much so. He was the first of us to appear since World War 2. He’s also stood toe to toe with Red October, Nocturnus, Neutron, and even Twilight.  He’s probably the finest martial artist on the planet.”

          She gave me a strange look, and I realized that I was probably sounding like I had a schoolboy crush on him. Which was quite possible; he did fill out that bodysuit quite well. “You are strange, Runeclaw.” She stopped and put her hands on her hips and asked, “By the way, what’s your real name?”

          I smiled and said, “Trey Greenbough.”

          “You just up and tell me your secret identity like that? Aren’t you supposed to at least pinky-swear me to secrecy?” she asked.  I think I managed to surprise her.

          I laughed and said, “I don’t really have a secret identity. The government knows who and what I am. That makes my job easier.  Some kid in this mall gave me the name Runeclaw when Avalon and I stopped an international assassin from ripping the place apart back when we were teenagers.  He said he saw the runes on my sword and thought it would be a cool name. It sort of stuck.  My grandfather tells me I need a name for deeds done loud and proud, so I guess I’ll go with that.”

          “I never did find out what Fer Forge` wanted in the mall that day,” Night Angel said as he stepped from the deepening shadows between a two semis parked to our side.  I never heard, nor smelled him as he approached.

          He smiled grimly as I spun on him, and stepped back into a defensive stance. He seemed to look at me carefully before asking, “Combat style shoto-kan?”

          I nodded and stood back up, “My dad taught it to me. He says it’s a style that adapts to shapeshifting well.”

           Another grim smile crossed his face and he replied, “I wouldn’t know. I’m familiar with the style, but not with the ins and outs of shapeshifting. I know it can be deadly when used by a master. What’s your favorite kata?”

          “Heian Shodan,” I told him.

          “You always return to first kata,” he quoted Gichin.

          “Your belt?”

          “Third dan.”

          “How old are you?”


          “And already third dan. I’m impressed,” he said.
          I nodded and turned back to Emerald and asked. “When do we leave?”

          She shrugged and said, “Now if you want. Father is expecting us.”

          “I’ll follow you in my Jeep then,” I told her. I assumed that Night Angel would ride with her.

          “You ride with Emerald,” he said. “I’ll follow on my own.”

          I raised an eyebrow at him, but he just stared at me. I swear, his stare could freeze a volcano. I just nodded and said, “Very well.”

          I climbed into the small car with the redhead and felt cramped. It was not designed for the comfort of a man my size.  “Buckle up,” she said.

          Now, I’ve ridden with Emory when she’s driven through malfunction junction, and I’ve gone off-roading with JD and Bart, but nothing really prepared me for the way this woman handled a car. The woman and the machine seemed to merge, and she put it into places I wasn’t sure were physically possible. I caught her mumbling to herself as she worked her ways through the five gears.  “…show him..., follow on my own,… will manage,” this last was said as she slammed the car back down from fifth to third, yanked hard on the wheel, and then gunned the engine as we flew up a long driveway. 

          I mentally kicked myself for not paying attention to where we were, but to be honest, I spent most of that ride worrying about whether or not we were about to eat back end of a tractor trailer or go sailing off I-65. I figured we were somewhere near University Boulevard, and recognized parts of UAB as we came through some pretty tight and winding neighborhoods.

          As we barreled up the driveway, I noticed the gate closing behind us. This was the home of someone with money. The long brick drive led us past a thicket of pines and ash until we pulled into the front of a Victorian style brick mansion.  “Hope I didn’t frighten you too bad,” she said with a smile.

          I shook my head, “Just not used to being in a sardine can. You know, if you keep redlining that engine, you’ll blow it.”

          She just laughed and said, “That car was built by the Allison’s mechanics.  I’m not worried about redlining it.  Besides, it’s a rotary engine. It’s a whole lot more durable than a v-8.”

          I looked back at the little thing and nodded. Bobby, Donny, and now Davey Allison were the premier family of NASCAR racing. They were local to the Birmingham area, and were sort of celebrities.  If their mechanics had built the car, then I wouldn’t be surprised if it could sprout wings and fly.

          “What took you so long?” Night Angel stepped out of the shadows of the doorway.

          This time it was Emerald’s time to react. She jumped and reached for the back of her belt.  “You’re not supposed to be able to teleport onto these grounds,” she protested.

          “That works against magic, not against transhuman abilities, Emerald,” he said.

          She shook her head and put the gun back in its holster and said, “Come on in. Father’s waiting on you.”

          She opened the huge iron-bound oaken door and went inside. Night Angel and I followed her onto the marble entryway and suddenly I was inundated with odors I hadn’t expected to encounter. The house smelled of werewolf, of big cat, and of death.  I grabbed both of them and said, “Wait.  You’re father’s not alone.”

          “What?” she asked.

          I sniffed the air, “At least two werewolves, a werecat, a vampire, and..., Alec?” What the hell was his scent doing here?

          Emerald drew her gun, and I smelled syntenol as a small oval shaped object fell into each of Night Angel’s gloved hands. I nodded, and closed the door quietly, kicked off my boots, and let my body relax, to its natural form.  I felt my ears shift to the top of my head, and my tail sprout and stick itself through a hole I’d slit in the back of my jeans.

          The house suddenly became alive with odors and sounds to my enhanced senses.  Emerald gave me a long stare, and looked at the gun in her hand. I smiled and said, “Silver works on werecats, but not magecats. You’d just piss me off.” I knew what she was thinking.

          Before she could reply, the double doors to what was evidently a study opened up and a kid of about fifteen or sixteen, no older than Alec came bounding down the hall.  He was a good six feet tall and maybe a hundred ninety or so pounds. His blond hair was long and sort of shaggy, and he reminded me of a surfer for some reason. He saw us, stopped, stuck his head back through the door and said, “They’re here Papas.”  His voice was rich, and clear, and totally devoid anything that approached guile.  He sounded more like a five year old than a teen-ager.

          He walked over to us, and I could see the vague outline of a huge saber-toothed cat in his aura.  That was one animal I did not want to mess with no matter what form I took. “You must be Emerald,” he said softly. “Papas are not happy with you right now.”        She raised an eyebrow, but said nothing; nor did she lower the gun she had trained on him. Next he came to me and sniffed the air. “Oooooh, you’ve been a bad puddy tat. You have no idea what you’ve done, and Papas can’t fix it. They don’t even know about it, but I do.”

          I cocked an ear toward him, and said, “Exactly who are you?”

          He smiled at me and said, “I’m Michael Grey, silly. I’m heading out to see a man about a cat.”

          He stopped and looked Night Angel up and down. “My friends have told me about you. They say that you’re one of the good guys.” He reached out and touched the blond hero gently on the shoulder and said, “Don’t be too sad. You are doing a good job.”

          Before anyone else could say anything, he bounded to the front door, opened it, and leaped outside. As he hit the pavement, he shifted into a giant saber toothed tiger and loped off into the darkness.  Emerald made to chase after him, but a stern voice from the study said, “Let him go Emerald.  We’ve more important things to discuss.”

          I turned to see a short man with thick dark hair that was just starting to gray at the temples.  His shoulders were broad, but he carried them with an easy grace that spoke of a very hard body. His nose was hawk-beaked and sat over a thick mustache. He looked like the quintessential Rom. “Hello, Night Angel. This must be Runeclaw that Emerald told me about. Please come in. I have other guests and they want to discuss the situation in the city with all of us.” When he smiled, I noticed very sharp upper canines glinting in the moonlight.

          Night Angel nodded to him and slipped the ovals in his palms back up into his gloves.  Gathering his dark cloak around him, he walked directly into the study, his heels clicking against the marble floor.  “Hello, Walther. It’s good to see you again,” he said with what seemed like genuine affection.

          The older man nodded to his daughter and said, “Come on in, Emerald. We’ve much to discuss.”

          I waited for her to move, and then followed her in. As we passed the man he said, “Welcome to my home Runeclaw. You do it honor.”

          I nodded to him and said, “Thank you, sir.” Like I said, my parents did not raise me to be rude to a host.

          The study we entered looked like something out of a Rex Harrison movie.  It was definitely masculine, and smelled of old books, pipe tobacco, and leather. It was cool, and somewhat on the dry side; air conditioning does have its uses after all. A large maple desk dominated one wall. Several red leather wing back chairs sat in opposition to a small sofa. A short long maple table sat in the middle of them. Three walls were covered in barrister style bookcases and the fourth had French windows that looked onto the well manicured front garden.

          Two huge men were in the room.  Both were well-built and tall, with Roman features including prominent aquiline noses.  Although their faces looked like twins, their coloration were negative images of each other. One had curly blond hair, with fair skin and eyes, and the other had thick black hair that was curled into ringlets around his head.  His skin was olive toned, and his eyes were black as midnight. Each was sitting on the sofa, and was holding a glass of sherry. One had a teddy bear with a bright yellow bow on it, in his lap.

          Sitting in one of the wing back chairs was Alec. When he saw me, he blushed deep red.  I think I probably did the same thing.  “Hello Alec,” I said.

          “Trey,” he nodded and closed the book he was reading. I wondered if he carried a book everywhere. I know there was one by the bed this morning.

          Emerald said, “Rune Claw, this is my father, Walther Stone.”

          I nodded to him and said, “Mr. Stone. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

          The man chuckled and said, “If you say so, my boy. But I get the feeling you’re just a little confused right now.”

          “You might put it that I way,” I told him.

          “This is Geran and Lucian Grey,” Mr. Stone said. “And evidently, you already know young mister Frostbridge. They’re here from New Orleans to discuss our difficulties with Mary.”

          I knew the names Geran and Lucian Grey, at least I knew the ones associated with New Orleans. I also knew that the rumors among the nocturnals suggested that they were what are colloquially called the “Twins of Destruction” or classically, Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. I also knew they were the husbands of Ashley Grey, probably the orneriest, most powerful of the damned vampires, who’d supposedly met the final death at the hands of the Directive at the turn of the century.  “Misters Grey,” I said.

          Both of them looked me over. The blond, Lucien said, “Mr. Greenbough. We appreciate your help in this matter.”

          I shook my head, “Don’t know who’ll be appreciating it when everything goes down,” I told him honestly. “My job is stop Mary, and to bring a little order back to the nocturnal communities.  I’m also looking to make sure that the werewolf pack of the Blood Moon doesn’t get screwed in the process.”

          “Why would of Freyja’s want to help a werewolf pack?” Geran asked.

          “Because they’re my friends, and I mean, real down to earth, smack you in the back of the head when you do something stupid friends, and I’m not going to let nocturnal politics hurt them,” I told him flat out.

          “Good,” Lucien said. “Nice to see a pack and the cats getting along again.”

          Suddenly the phone on the desk rang. Mr. Stone went over and picked I it up. “Stone residence.” He paused and then said, “I’ll check.” He covered the mouth piece and asked me, “Your name wouldn’t happen to be Trey Greenbough would it?”

          I nodded in surprise and said, “Yes sir.”

          He handed the phone and said, “It’s for you.”

          “Okay,” I said. I didn’t even know the number here. I took it and said, “Greenbough.”

          “Trey, it’s Bart. Don’t ask how I found you. Just know that Wanda gave me the number, and you know as well as I do that her spy network is better than Santa’s.”

          “Bart, what’s going on?” I asked suddenly worried.

          “Wanda just called me. All hell’s breaking loose with the pack. Kendall has demanded that the whole pack, and I mean the whole pack meet at Vulcan tonight. He says he’s going to turn the pack over to Wilson, who works for that crazy bitch in Birmingham.”

          “What?!” I asked astounded.

          “He’d rather be Wilson’s beta and let Wilson take out JD than try and do it himself.  He plans on turning JD’s mom over to Wilson,” Bart said. “You know how that’s going to go over. Anybody who disagrees with it has to hold their own against the vamps.”

          “The vampires are going to be there?” I asked.

          “Oh yeah, big spectacle. Evidently, she plans on proving her power to the other vamps in the city by bringing down JD’s pack.  I don’t know about the rest of the pack, but the Blood Moons won’t let JD’s mom or any of the other females be passed around, and we damn sure ain’t going to answer to some two-bit gang banging pimp outta’ Birmingham.”

          “Where’s JD?” I asked.

          “Wanda’s got him cooling off before we start heading in. Look I need to ask you a favor Trey?”


          “Any way you can get the feds to look the other way on the body count tonight?”

          “Can you keep the baselines out of it?” I asked.

          “Nobody there but vamps and shifters,” he said.

          “What body count?” I replied.

          “You’re good man, Trey. For a pussy that is.”

          “Keep it up buttmunch,” I told him. “What time?”

          “Would you believe the witching hour? She has a flair for the dramatic.”

          “Or the stupid,” I told him. “Thanks for letting me know, Bart. I’ll be there, and I’ll have reinforcements.”

          “Any chance of getting a hold of she who occasionally holds your ball of string?” he asked.

          “Not now. I don’t have a way of making contact on this short of notice.” I looked over at Alec, and then continued, “But I have it on Em’s recommendations that that guy I’ve got here, is fully capable of doing the job.”

          “Knew Wanda was right with having me call you. Knew you wouldn’t let us down.”

          “Bart, you guys followed me to another dimension, to avenge the death of a someone very important to me. Standing with you against this vamp threat is the least of how I can repay you,” I told him and meant it. “I’ll be where you told me, when you told me. Catch you then.” I hung up the phone and turned to the room and said. “I know where Mary and just about every other vampire and werewolf in the city will be tonight.”

          “You came across this information, how?” Walther asked.

          “Mary’s playing with werewolf packs. She’s pushing some weak blooded packs into overpopulation and using that to bring pressure on the pack in Walker County. She just over played her hand though, because she doesn’t understand who and what she’s dealing with. She just demanded that the packs alpha female be turned over to her lieutenant, the Birmingham pack alpha, Wilson. The problem with that is that the alpha female is like a second mother to me, and is the mother of my best friend.” I stopped and looked at Geran closely, “And he’s a true breed.”

          “Wilson?” Geran asked me.

          “Made, and whoever made him ought to be slapped several times with a heavy sharp object,” I told him.

          “Is that woman insane?” Lucien asked. “Your friend will eat him alive.”

          I took a deep breath and said, “Yeah, if it were just that. The problem is, that Wilson has been indiscriminately turning every youth gang in the greater Birmingham area into werewolves. The pack of the Blood Moon is only twelve young adults and teen agers. The greater pack is about fifty adults total. Wilson has ten times that number. It’s going to be bloodbath out there- if we’re lucky.”

          Geran stood and started to say something, but Lucien put a hand on his knee and said, “You can’t interfere.” Geran nodded and sat back down.

He looked over at Alec and then to me.  “He’s got your scent all over him.  Did what I think happened happen?”

“No! We absolutely did not play Parcheesi until four in the morning,” Alec said.

I looked at Alec and then back to Geran, “Would you answer that question in public? I was at least taught not to.”

“Normally, I wouldn’t. But if it did, that means that the rules are slightly changed. Now answer my question,” Geran replied.

I looked over at Alec and asked, “Do I have your permission?”

“Might as well go ahead and tell them. They wouldn’t get this antsy unless something big was going to happen. These guys are usually the ones busting the rules apart, so you know it has to be something important.”

“Yes, it happened,” I told him.

Geran just smiled and looked over at Alec.  “Will you help him?”

“Sure,” Alec said. “This is only what Emory has been getting me ready for.” He blushed slightly and said, “Among other things.”

          Geran smiled and said, “I can offer you the services of my battle mage. He’s actually rather good, even if he is a smart ass.”

          “Wait a minute?” Emerald asked. “Are you implying that Trey and this kid slept together?”

          “Smart one ain’t she?” Alec said sarcastically; his Cajun accent deep.

          “All right, that’s it. No more Looney Toons for you and Michael,” Lucien said.

          “That’s disgusting!” Emerald said.

          “Get over it,” Alec told her. “Just because you’re a prude doesn’t mean everybody else is.”

          “Be that as it may,” she said. “Why can’t you help us deal with Mary?”

          “Because if your father is going to be the chancellor of the Southeast, then he, and you, have to deal with it on your own. Otherwise it would simply look like we’re expanding our powerbase, and that’s neither the case, nor our desire,” Geran told her.

          “So, the reason you can loan us a mage is…,”

          “He’s defending is mate,” Walther said. “Or if I understand Freyja’s Chosen, at least his lover.”

          I nodded. “We aren’t exactly known for settling down.”

          “Mate?  That’s what you call it?” Emerald asked.

          “It’s as good a term as any,” I told her. “I’m not going to fight you over this, Emerald. It’s the way my Goddess made me, and it’s the way of our nature.  I won’t apologize for it, and I won’t argue with you about it. If you think it makes me less of a warrior, that’s your problem, not mine. My deeds stand for themselves.”

          “And they do have a reputation for ferocity, for honor, and for standing between innocents and danger,” Night Angel said in a very low voice. “Although it is not a love I would choose for myself, I won’t condemn another who stands at my side for where he or she finds love. The wars we fight, the enemies we engage are far too dangerous to not cherish the fleeting moments of peace and love we can snatch for our lives.” Geran and Lucien nodded in agreement. Finally, he added, “What plan can make to best take advantage of what forces we have?”  And with that, we settled into a long strategy session.

I knew what the pack was going to do. This was going to be an all out war, and it was going to one as much of pride as it was of power. I know werewolves and their favorite game is who can piss higher up on the tree.  The problem is, that the numbers were skewed that JD and his pack were deep up Valley Creek without proverbial paddle.

          It was time I introduced a little good old style ambush predator tactics to my friends. They’d seen it in the past and were always awed by it. They just don’t think in terms of a single person or even strike team sneaking up on a key force and taking it out. Pack means that you startled them, chased them, wore them down and killed them. The problem was that JD’s pack didn’t have enough members to do that against Wilson’s pack.

          “There is an old saying,” Geran said. “When the weak bloods breed themselves into the majority, it can do irreparable harm to the psyche of a city.”

          I nodded. The weak bloods didn’t have the control necessary to keep their beasts in check, and the further away a werewolf line got from the true bloods, the less power they had.  With over five hundred weak bloods in his force, it was already affecting the city.  People were fleeing it in droves as they subconsciously sensed danger, and something sinister making its way through the Magic City.

          After a while we hammered out our basic strategy: Emerald and Alec would slip down to help JD’s pack- something Emerald wasn’t happy about. Night Angel and I would hit Mary’s forces from behind to distract them, and give Walther a clean shot at Mary. I on the other hand had a bit of a surprise in store for everyone, but I needed Walther’s approval first. When this was over, he’d become the chancellor not only Birmingham, but over the entire South, east of Mississippi. I was about to introduce a wild card nobody else knew about, and it was going to teach our red-headed little friend a lesson about vampires.

          I pulled him off to the side and he agreed to my proposal. He even agreed to have a long talk with Emerald about it.  She had to understand that all vampires weren’t evil, and that if he was going to be the head vamp in charge, then she had switch her roles from the driven avenger of some past event, to an enforcer for the ruler of a kingdom. She didn’t have to like the people she worked with, she just had to respect them.

          We lay out plans, we got reconnoitered; which proved to be an interesting exercise in avoiding being spotted, because Wilson’s forces were all over that park- I swear it smelled like dog piss- and we brought in what friendly forces we could. The real problem was this fight was going to happen literally right outside the front doors of WBRC- Channel 6 News. Mary had chosen a place where she could make sure that what was about to happen would be seen on television. That meant that she was about to swing the door open wide on the nocturnals’ broom-closet, so to speak.

          I knew this was something my father and I had been discussing for years. The fact that the nocturnals were an open secret- something that most people in the US knew about, but for the most part tried not to think about. It felt safer that way. Unless we could find some way of shutting down their ability to record and broadcast, then this fight stood a good chance of making the early morning news.

          I sent a message to JD that I was sending him a little muscle and some magical aid.  I then grabbed Alec and told him, “Come with me.”


          “I have to see a man about steading,” I told him.

          “That made no sense, Trey,” he said.

          “It did to me. I need you to come with me. I’m working on something here, and I need to make sure you’re safe.”

          He stopped and looked at me, “I can take care of myself Trey,” he said.

          I stopped and said, “Oh no, you are not going there. I’m not questioning your ability to handle your job, I’m simply making sure my little surprise knows not to mess with you. To do that, I have to introduce you.”

          That ended up taking a whole lot less time than I thought it would. The people to whom we wanted to talk had already put feelers out and knew what was going to happen. Their leader agreed to my plan and to my negotiations with them on behalf of Walther. He also agreed to assign someone to keep an eye on Alec for me. When he found out whom Alec’s sponsors were, he was more than willing to make sure that he had some protections. One did not casually irritate the Twins of Destruction.

          By eleven thirty, the forces were starting to gather at the park. I stood with Alec, Emerald, JD and his mom, on the south end of the parking lot that led up to the huge iron statue of the Roman God of the forge.   To our left and through a stand of trees was the Channel 6 building, and its tall broadcasting tower stood in stark contrast behind it. I looked up and could see Vulcan’s naked ass mooning one of the most affluent sections of the town.

          Wilson was going to have the high ground, but that was really okay for what we had planned.  I could see other forms moving at the top of the hill, and weaving in and out of the shadows of both buildings. “I really wish you hadn’t come, Mrs. Williams,” I told her.

          “Then all bets would have been off,” she replied. “Besides, it’s not like I’m not capable of defending myself.”

          Before I could reply, the low throaty rumble of several Harley’s cut through the hot summer night. I smiled to myself and looked over at Alec. His body guard was here. Several pack members closed around Mrs. Williams, and I noticed JD getting a little hairy about the hands as a dozen bikes pulled up into the parking lot and shut their engines off.

          The leader tossed his helmet onto the seat and strode over to me. “Glad you could make it,” I told him.

          He smiled showing his sharp canines, and the pack around us growled menacingly.  “Thought you said, they’d be friendly.”

          “They don’t know you, yet.” I turned to JD and said, “This is Raud, he was with Ragnar when he sacked Paris in 845.”

          “You brought a vampire to pack fight?” JD asked me. I could tell he was upset.

          “It’s his fight too. Mary is controlling Wilson. You need allies, and Raud offers that.”

          “I was hoping for Emory,” he said.

          “Alec is just as good,” I told him.

          “I’m interested in his ability to throw lightning bolts, not whether or not he’s good in bed,” JD said grumpily.

          I stepped up to him and growled back, “That was beneath you JD. Emory says he’s good enough to handle the fight. He can always leave. That would leave you with just me, and I’m not going to be in this area when the fight starts.”

          “Where are you going to be?” he asked.

          “I’m going to be keeping the vampires on the hill off your back, and hopefully distracting Mary,” I told him. “Now, you’re embarrassing me.  I told Raud you were a strong leader, stop acting like whiney little pup- if for no other reason than for your mom.”

          “You calling me a whiney pup?” he asked. “I’ll little pup you.”  But, he turned to Raud and said, “Sorry, Trey’s right. I’m being rude. I appreciate your help here.”

          The big man smiled at JD and said, “I know a little about pack rules, and I know this goes against your grain. But look at it this way, if we pull it off, you get to become the Werewolf King of Alabama.”

          “If we pull this off, I’m likely to take out every weak blood between here and Montgomery.  I’m tired of this bull-shit,” JD said. “Between the UN and this vampire bitch, I’m about fed up with outsiders trying to mess with my people.”

          Raud just grinned, turned to me and said, “I like this one.” He then looked back over his shoulder to the rest of his biker gang and said. “Okay people, you’ve been taught the difference between a mutt and wolf.  Let’s not have any friendly fire accidents like we did at Chancellorsville.”

          “Chancellorsville?” I asked. “You were at Chancellorsville?”

          He nodded and said. “I still feel bad about General Jackson. Probably what cost us Gettysburg.” He turned back to his people and spread them out. Finally, he picked one of his men, a big bruiser of a vampire and said, “Graff, get your ass over here.” He then looked at JD and asked, “Can I borrow one of your people?”

          JD nodded. I could tell he was wondering what Raud was up to. Raud pointed to Bart and said, “You, come here.”

          Bart looked at JD who nodded and then ran over to Raud who quickly grabbed Alec by the scruff of the neck. “This is our artillery. You’re his defense. Don’t let anything happen to him. Do you understand?”

          Both men nodded to him and he turned back to me and smiled before asking, “Satisfied?”

          I nodded. “Yeah.  Just wish we had some air support.”

          He laughed, “You modern warfare types, always wantin’ your air support. They don’t have it, we don’t have it, so there’s no use in wishin’ for what we can’t have. This is going to be a ground fight.” He looked over at JD and the others and added, “More like a slug fest between tanks if you ask me. But the point is that if we deploy our forces correctly, we can win. The big thing is to make sure you forward observer types disrupt their communications.”

          I knew I had picked the right man for this job right then and there. I turned to JD and asked, “Still upset I brought a vampire to a pack fight?”

          He shook his head and said, “No. But I wish you were going to be here, so I can keep an eye on you.”

          “Worried about my safety?” I asked incredulously.

          He shook his head, “No, I’m worried you might start ripping people’s lungs out again.”

          I just smiled and said, “That’s the whole idea buddy.” I sighed and looked over at Alec who was giving me an, I’m going to get you for this look. I checked my watch and said, “We got ten minutes.  It’s going to take me that long to get into position. Can you handle things here?”

          “He’s the pack leader,” Mrs. Williams said. “He can handle it.”

          I got the hint. I was time for me to back off and let JD run the show. He had to prove to the others that he was capable of leading. “Yes ma’am. Take care of yourself now,” I told her and faded back into the darkness.

          I shouldn’t have worried too much about what the news station was going to get.  Alec took care of that problem rather simply.  We needed something to cover my team’s flanking maneuver to come around behind Mary’s forces, and he solved both problems rather efficiently. With each step I took to where Walther and Night Angel were waiting, a thick fog started to rise up from the rich Alabama red clay.

          “Everything in position?” Walther asked.

          I nodded and said, “I don’t feel right leaving them like this. JD was there by my side at the River Iving.”

          “And you’ll be covering him here,” Night Angel said. “We are the best candidates to do what needs to be done. You and I can clear a path to get Walther within striking distance of Mary.”

          “And don’t forget, I’m leaving my daughter with your werewolf friends,” Walther said.

          “I know. I just can’t figure out who’s in the most danger,” I told him.

          He chuckled and said, “Trust me son, they are.” The sad part about it, was I thought he was probably right.

          We headed out and started to work our way up the back side of the park around the station’s parking lot and back up through a stand of oak trees. I was surprised at how silent the three of us could move.  Night Angel was scouting ahead with short shadow-jumps like he’s so famous for.  Walther seemed to walk through the fallen leaves without a sound. Me, I’m a tiger; stealth is what we’re best at.

          As we cleared the edge of the trees, I saw Night Angel hold up a hand and we stopped.  The shadows seemed to flow around him and then disappear leaving the space where he was standing empty. Three seconds later, he was back. I noticed he had blood on his hands.

          He nodded and then motioned for us to move forward. At this point in the operation, we couldn’t afford to make any unnecessary sounds. Werewolf hearing was as good if not better than my own. I didn’t know about vampire hearing, but I suspected the same was true for them.

          As we peered around the edge of the main building housing the tall tower on which the statue sat, we could see several people standing in a pavilion off to the side.    In the distance, I could hear a man’s voice I didn’t recognize speaking, “You mean to tell me, you gonna’ die instead of follow me?” He sounded rather upset.

          “I’m not going to die, Wilson. It’s you and your bunch of weak-bloods who are going to be fertilizing somebody’s lawn by sunup,” I heard JD say very clearly. “The pack of the Blood Moon does not and will not recognize your right to order us to do anything. You can try to make us, but then you have to fight.”

          The pissing contest had started. I looked over at the pavilion and saw several people standing on it looking down into the fog below.  “Where’d all this fog come from suddenly? The weatherman didn’t say anything about fog?” a male voice asked.

          “You are still new to your state, a tall raven-haired woman off to the side said.  “This smells of witchery.”

          The short dark haired woman in the middle nodded her head and said, “Yes, and it won’t do them any good.” She turned to two tall well-built black men standing beside her. “Go and fetch the bitch here so that Wilson can claim his prize and we can get on with this. I want this settled before the witching hour is done. Do you know which one she is?”

          Both men nodded.

          “Then what are you waiting for, and invitation? Go!”

          The two men growled and suddenly began to shift and change. Like I’ve said in the past, the werewolf shift tends to be jerky, and exaggerated, and in weak-bloods it’s even worse. It was as if parts of their body would bulge, and shift, and crack and pop, and then another part would change. Their heads looked like they were about to crack out of their skins as their faces elongated into something vaguely resembling a wolf.

          Five seconds later, two anthro-wolves bounded down the hill toward where JD and crew were.  “I don’t like this, another of the men on the pavilion said. Working with werewolves this way is too much like the Directive.”

          “That band of sorcerers won’t be around much longer after I’ve consolidated my power here,” the small woman spat out.

          “The destruction of the Directive would serve us all well,” another said carefully. “But even the Twins of Destruction have not been able to bring that goal about. Even today, their power expands and ours shrinks.”

          “Not after tonight,” the short woman, whom I’d come to suspect as Mary said.

          The sounds of growling and snapping, not unlike a dog fight suddenly came across the fog.  It ended quickly with two yelps of pain and then silence. I heard Raud’s voice taunt from the fog. “Could you send us some more? Those were delicious!”

          My companions and I slowly crept forward, trying to get as close as possible before we actually struck. I could hear the man who’d complained about the fog say, “I wish this fog would go away.  I can’t see a thing.”

          “Very well,” Mary said. “For the entertainment of our newly minted plaything, we’ll make the battle visible.”  I felt something rush through my soul like a piece of sand paper across my nerves. Vampire magic was new to me, and not all that pleasant. A breeze stirred behind us, and then rushed across the pavilion and down the hill.  

          One of the men, one who’d been silent up until now, turned and looked at us. I knew he’d caught our scent on the wind.  I thought he was about to raise an alarm, but instead he simply nodded to Walther and then took a slight step to the side. 

          I figured it was now or never so I yanked off the sword shaped charm I wore on my wrist, whispered, “Vaxa!” and leapt. Like I said, the werewolf shift is jerky, but mine is a smooth flowing like river between its embankments. One second I was a human leaping forward, and the next almost a ton of angry weretiger came crashing through the pavilion.

          Screams and chaos echoed across the clearing fog as I brought the roof down with me. Before anyone else could react, I stood up and brushed the remainder of the roof away with one hand and lashed my now full-sized sword to right with the other. A werewolf head in mid-change rolled down onto the walkway in front of us, his face one of shock and surprise.

          Next to me, Night Angel suddenly appeared. In a maneuver that surprised me in its grace and complexity, he dropped into a spinning sweep that neatly took out from under him another werewolf’s feet; then as he came out of it, twisted his body into a roll and delivered a devastating crushing blow to the werewolf’s throat with his heel.  It wouldn’t kill him, but it would take a while for the damage to heal. The werewolf would be out until the fight was over.

          Around us, vampires were scattering in every direction. Below, I could see a ripple of something run through the half shifted gang members who were lined up in a straight line around the pavilion.  I briefly wondered who their tactician was.  A quick glance below showed sixty or so members of our force in small staged pockets ready to counter anything that might happen.

          I felt a sharp pain in the back of my right leg and spun around to see half a dozen werewolves in their full battle forms circling me, growling and trying to dart in for an attack. I pulled the sword up into a defensive position and waited. One on my right feinted in to draw my attention. I shifted my weight slightly, but instead of carrying through with the attack I dropped into a low crouch, spun and swung the sword hard and low.   I felt Isstonn bite deep as she sheared the attacking wolf in half.

          Then they all attacked at once. Leaping straight up, I watched as they hit each head on. As they tried to extricate themselves from the tangle, I came straight down on them, my back claws fully extended. I had them all in one place at one time, and began to flail about with sword and claw as my beast slowly came to the surface.

          There was a brilliant flash of light and the sound of a massive explosion to my left. I felt a charge of something run through the ground, and my fur stood on end. I shield my eyes and turned to my right. I saw Night Angel was playing shadow-tag with a couple of werewolves. He’d pop in above them, sling some of those razor sharp syntenol halos, and then pop away before they could close with him. I could smell where the silver in the syntenol was burning their flesh.

          When I looked back to the right, there was a big hole in the line of werewolves charging down the hill at JD’s forces. Wilson’s pack was huge, but not very coordinated. They looked like they were used to brawling. Occasionally, I would hear the bark of a gun, and watched as one of their heads would jerk and they would then collapse to the ground.  We had to finish this before the police came to check out the sounds of gun fire.

          I noticed most of the vampires had faded into the background as the werewolves were lying dead and dying. Only Walther and Night Angel stood facing off with Mary. In the light of the rising moon, I could see the similarities in their faces. “It ends tonight, Mother.” Walther said. 

          She smiled at him and said, “You don’t have the nerve to do what you have to in order to win, Walther. You’re too much like your father.”

          Walther shook his head and said, “I’ll do what I have to. It stops here. No more killing.”

          She smiled and I felt the cold power of her mind. “The killing is just starting. Listen to what’s happening below. First the werewolves fall, then the mages, and finally, the mortals.  We’ve fought before and you never can finish it,” she taunted him. “Why don’t you just take Emerald home and let me finish this.”

          “Because if he dosen’t finish it, I will,” I growled at her.

          She stopped and looked at me. “You are simply a shifter, no different than those animals down there. I have magics far beyond your understanding, boy.”

          “If he falls, then I will finish it,” Night Angel stepped up beside me. “But somehow, I don’t think he would fall to the likes of you.”  He turned to Walther and said, “Finish it, or we will.”

          Suddenly, I felt the clash of two titanic wills slam into each other. The battle between the dampyr and his mother was not a physical one. It was on a spiritual level.  I could feel the evil and depravity flow out of the woman like a wave miasmic sickness that struck at the soul. At the same time it was met by the raw unmitigated power of a vampire that stood somewhere between a damned and a forsaken, between human and mortal, and between father and son.

          Night Angel and I watched. It was all we could do. I felt my claws nailed to the asphalt beneath me. I couldn’t move a muscle.  I could only watch as the two slowly circled each other throwing sheets of darkness and bolts of pure fire to the center of their orbits. Lifetimes of hatred, betrayal, pursuit, and evasion was channeled through their psychic battle.

          I don’t know what it was. To this day, I never saw where Mary faltered. All I know is that one moment I was standing there unable to move, and then between one heartbeat and the next Walther was suddenly standing alone, holding a quickly decaying corpse in his arms. I was free.

          I looked over and watched Night Angel shake his head for a moment and I asked, “Can you handle things here?”

          He nodded, and said, “Go.”

          Without thinking, I turned and headed back to the edge of the long sloping hill down which Wilson’s forces had disappeared.   Below I saw knots of JD’s people standing back to back as they were circled by larger groups of werewolves. Wilson’s forces had been cut in half. Several were smoking like they’d been hit by lightning, and one looked as if he’d been skinned alive.  The ground was littered with bodies and body parts. In the center, JD and Wilson were circling each other, growling and snarling.   JD stood tall with his blood red coat shining in the light of the full moon- only his muzzle and the tip of his tail and claws were black. There was a fierceness in his eyes that I’d never seen before. JD had finally found something he was willing to kill over.

          Wilson was almost the opposite. He was bigger than JD, and his coat was black from the tip of his tail to the end of his muzzle.  His teeth were yellowed, and his eyes gleamed with some inner madness that only those who are weak blooded can know. I can’t say that he was in control of himself. He was operating off instinct.  This was an alpha challenge, and he had to answer it.

          I raised my voice and roared into the night. I felt the wave of my megin; the part of me that was predator flow from my body to the night. Almost every eye on the battlefield turned to look. And when they did, the pack of the Blood Moon as a single entity acted. Like red lightning bolts they flashed out into the greater pack, slashed, and bit, and then were suddenly back to where they’d begun. The wolves they’d hit fell like black waves of grain before a thresher. 

          JD acted too. He didn’t leap, he hit all fours and rushed forward. I can imagine the frustration in Wilson’s eyes when it suddenly looked like his opponent had disappeared, only in the next instant to find JD’s fangs bite deep into the his throat as his claws slashed huge chunks of flesh from the insides of his upper thighs. The big black wolf fell back stunned as JD bit and snarled his way through his throat, the whole time his claws tore away his manhood. Finally, he planted his forepaws firmly on either side of Wilson’s shoulders and shook his head hard. I heard the tearing of cartilage and tissue all the way up the top of the hill. 

          JD spat out the viscera in his mouth and howled into the night. As if the fall of Wilson was some unseen signal, every member of JD’s pack surged forward. What had been a defensive maneuver was suddenly an all-out assault. Werewolf, vampire, hunter, and mage moved as one. Not a single member of Wilson’s pack survived. I never even made it to the main fight.

          Not daring to leave the safety of my battle form, I loped down the hill to where the wolves were gathering together. “JD, you’d better get your people out of here. The police should be here soon,” I told him.

          As one the pack turned and looked at me. For just a moment, I thought I was going to have a fight on my hands. Then Bart chuckled and nuzzled Alec forward in between the shoulder blades. “If I ever get a wild hair up my ass and decide I want to crawl into your bed, remind me I’m not mean enough,” he said. “This one’s more vicious than your little English Rose. He took Parker’s pelt with just a gesture.”

          “Parker?” I asked.

          JD shifted down into his human form and stood before me naked, Wilson’s blood running down his face. “If you ever get a wild hair up your ass and try to crawl into Trey’s bed, we won’t have to tell you anything. Tammy’ll rip your throat out.”

          “Who was Parker?” I asked again.

          “He was real tough muscle that Wilson brought in from Baton Rouge.” JD said. He looked around and said, “But you heard the man. Time to clear out.”

          As one the pack shifted down to wolf form and loped off into the night. I looked over at Alec and Emerald and said, “I don’t think you want to hang around either.”

          Both nodded, and Alec said, “I’ll see you back at the motel.”


          The press had a field day. The DNA managed to step in and help cover up what happened, but that many dead bodies wasn’t easy to explain. In the end, they passed it off as a gang war. Nobody ever explained all the wolf and tiger tracks around the place, but it is right next to the Jimmy Morgan Zoo. I can’t say that the whole mission was a success, because it was way more public than General Presley wanted. But it did manage to stop Mary it set up Walther Stone as the nocturnal chancellor for the South East, and lay the groundwork for what would eventually result in JD becoming a werewolf king.

          It took me most of the rest of the month to get things hammered out between Walther and the other nocturnals, and the DNA. In the end, JD ended up as being in charge of all the werewolves in the state.  After that little conflict, nobody was arguing with him. I spent a great deal of my time playing with Alec, and will admit to a lot of genuine affection for him, even to this day.

          I also learned a valuable lesson about responsibility that summer. But I didn’t find out about it, until months later when I got visit on my liberty weekend from Geran.  I was sitting quietly in a little coffee shop over on Farragut Road one Saturday in October when suddenly I realized there was a mountain standing over me.

          “Hello, Geran,” I said.

          “As my son would say, you did a bad a thing little puddy tat,” he said and sat down across from me.

          “Okay, that’s twice I’ve been told that, and nobody has told me what I did wrong,” I told him.

          “You, although I’m sure it was completely by accident, managed to infect Alec,” he said.

          “What? I never bit Alec.” I protested.

          “Who said anything about biting?” he asked. “That’s what I always wondered about you guys.  You never stop to think about the two different fluids that carry the same genetic material,” he said.

          “I don’t understand,” I said trying to figure out what he was talking about. You have to understand that this was the era when AIDS was just starting to be talked about, so similarities between certain bodily fluids weren’t quite as well known.

          “We pass things on through our blood. How do we pass our blood on?”

          Then it hit me: the blood on my dick in the shower.  I stopped and said suddenly understanding, “You mean, I infected Alec,” I said resignedly. “Is he okay?”

“He’s fine.”

“Is everyone around him okay?” I asked suddenly fearing that he’d lost control and hurt someone.

          “Emory took him out for his first change a couple of days ago.” Geran told me.

          “Couple of days,” I said. “He should have changed months ago if I’m the reason he changed.  You sure it was me?” I asked.

          “No, it seems his mage gift was fighting off the infection. He just got a double dose of it from Emory.”

          “Emory’s not a were,” I said.

          “No, but she’s a carrier for it now, thanks to you,” he said.

          “Shit,” I commented.

          “Exactly. We know you didn’t mean to, and we know he wouldn’t have been there if he didn’t want to be. We also know that he seems rather pleased with it, so I’m not here to bust your chops, although it is technically a violation of Dr. Leger’s rules. But you weren’t in New Orleans, and no real harm has been done. I just wanted to warn you to be careful in the future.”

          I nodded to him and thought about what had happened. I’d never tried to infect anyone in the past. Hell, most people wouldn’t survive the bite, and I had never considered that sex could pass it on. Now I had a whole lot more to think about.   “So, how’s he doing with it?”

          “Like I said, he’s seems rather pleased with it. He’s been offered a position with Walther as a mage advisor. He’ll finish his schooling in Birmingham, just as soon as Emory is sure that he has complete control over his shifting.”

          “Good, I’m glad to see he’s getting ahead,” I told Geran.

          “Just got one question for you though,” Geran asked.


          “He was pretty hot for you. How did you keep from breaking his heart?”

          I smiled and told him, “I was up front and honest with him about what could and couldn’t happen between us. Evidently he understood it and took it to heart.”

          Geran nodded and smiled. “Glad to hear it, Trey. I think something very important happened this past summer. I’m just not sure what it was.”

          What it was, it turns out was the groundwork for the return of the Prides. But that is a whole different ball of string.