"NO!" she cried out, hoping vainly that simple act would stop them. It didn't. HHH was struck by their blades. His body fell limp to the ground, torn and bent in all the wrong places. Rosemary inhaled as deeply as her lungs would allow, her whole body shaking as sorrow took its hold. But when she opened her mouth to scream what emerged was much more: it was the sound of her soul crying out.
Everyone present felt Rosemary's cry as well as heard it, and for a brief moment each felt her pain. The humans felt compelled to pause a moment out of respect for the loss of something so great it had created such emotion. The werewolves felt compelled to seek and rip apart whomever had caused such a tragedy as could make a creature create that sound. Almost instantaneously all eyes were on the two who had just killed HHH, staring with hate. The two were looking at each other the same way. Both were dead before Rosemary stopped screaming.
Rosemary fell to the ground in exhaustion and tears. For a brief second there was silence, then everyone remembered what was going on and why they were there. The battle resumed where it had left off, but with renewed intensity. All the werewolves knew Rosemary's cry was going to bring every werewolf who heard it to her aid. There would be a very limited time before those reinforcements arrived, and it was anyone's guess as to which side would arrive first, or if those who came even cared about sides.
The cry carried for miles. To most it sounded like it came from just a few feet away. But when they turned to see what was the matter, there was nothing, just the lingering impression that something was dreadfully wrong. Every father immediately stopped what he was doing and single-mindedly sought to find who had hurt his family, for only his wife's or child's cry could sound like that to his ears. Every mother immediately located her children, no matter the age, and swept them up into a protective embrace or sounded hysterical on the phone with them, for there was no doubt in her mind one of the children needed her care. Everyone else acted accordingly to whomever was the most important in their life.
But to werewolves, the sound beckoned them to a specific location. They didn't know who it was, all they knew was someone needed their aid. Some heard it as a call for protection, some as a call for vengeance, some as a call for justice, some as a call for tending. And all of them knew they had to answer and try their best to help.
As quick as they could be ready, they each headed off via the fastest means available. Melinda grabbed her keys and hopped into her truck. Orion instinctively shifted to wolf form and ran. Nathaniel quickly doused his fire then took off on foot. Others took cars, bicycles, even skateboards. The lingering instinct the cry left behind in every werewolf kept telling them in what direction to go. But eventually the terrain became too much for anything on wheels, whether it be due to a deep stream, large trees too close together, or a long steeply graded hill, and everyone was finally forced to using only their legs.
Orion ran without caution, ducking and weaving only those obstacles that threatened to stop his forward movement. Anything else he simply sucked up the pain from encountering. Until a door opened from seemingly nowhere. He had no time to evade, and crashed full force into it. Once he had gathered himself, he glanced around to see what had happened before heading on. He saw a truck in the middle of the forest with a now non-functional driver's side door, and a familiar girl sitting inside with a look of shock.
"Are you alright?!" she asked once she realized he was looking at her.
He couldn't respond vocally, being a wolf at the moment. And he didn't much care for this speed bump that was delaying him. He skirted the door and started in the direction his gut told him he was needed.
"Wait," she called after him as she slid out of her seat. "Don't I know you?"
He paused long enough to look back at her and nod.
"I thought so," she said. "You're going to help, right? Wait up!"
Orion grumbled to himself, but decided to wait. He didn't know what he was about to go up against, and going with someone would be better odds than going alone.
She reached back into the truck for something, shoved it in her pocket, then ran up to him. "Okay, let's go."
Just when Nathaniel thought he wouldn't be able to run anymore, the forest gave way to a large clearing, and he knew he was there. He jumped back behind the tree line, then looked around to determine what was going on while he caught his breath. There were dozens of werewolves, about half trapped by something that looked like a colorful domed electric fence. Those that were free were tearing each other apart. From what Nathaniel could tell, the numbers were about three to one, but he had no idea what persuasion was outnumbered. He noted five living humans amongst the fray. One was on her hands and knees, crying over a body. (That' her,) his instincts told him, (she's the one who called). He nodded to himself, now knowing who he needed to help. The other four humans were wearing business suits, holding briefcases and short poles, gathered around a certain object he couldn't quite see. (Very odd,) he commented to himself.
He decided to try and reach the one who had called him by the safest path until he could figure out what was going on. He kept to the tree line and circled the combat. Suddenly he noticed movement up ahead of him. He ducked behind the nearest tree, and carefully peered around. There was a wolf and a human. The woman was motioning for the wolf to stop. Nathaniel was sure he recognized her. "Melinda!" he called out loud enough for only the two to hear. She turned at the sound of her voice, confirming to him she was the one from the park.
He ran up to the two. Looking down on the wolf, Nathaniel thought he was familiar too. "Is this Orion?"
The wolf nodded. Nathaniel nodded back and looked to Melinda.
"I told you something like this would happen," she said to the two. "Now we're here and not prepared. We don't know what to do!"
Nathaniel looked towards the fighting. "I think it's pretty obvious. We defend our own, keep what happened to us from happening to others." He pointed at the woman who had called him. "Her, specifically."
Orion indicated his agreement with a nod and growl towards the combat.
"And how do we know who is our enemy, or if any are like us and potential allies?"she asked, sizing up the scene before her.
As if in answer, the last few of the outnumbered fell and those still standing looked around for their next targets. Their gazes settled on the woman, and those inside the electric prison growled and yelled at those who were free.
Before anyone could make a definite threatening move against her, the edge of the clearing became a blur of moment. Those answering her call were arriving. Most of them circled around her, taking up fighting stances. A couple bent over her to see what aid they could be.
Orion and Nathaniel started to head in to join the defensive line, but Melinda grabbed each by a shoulder. "No, wait," she advised in whisper. Neither of the two were happy with her as the enemy werewolves started attacking. She pointed to another side of the clearing. "Look." They followed her finger, their eyes finding the humans in suits. "They didn't even consider those four a threat. But they did the girl who's injured? No way that's a coincidence, they must be working together."
Nathaniel nodded at the logic. Orion growled slightly.
"And here," she was now pointing to those who were trapped. "They are going crazy. I bet they are on our side, as it were. Or at least hers."
"So?" Nathaniel voiced both his and Orion's thoughts.
"So...," she paused a moment as her eyes scoured the scene again, trying to put the pieces together.
What she saw, what they all saw, was most of those trying to defend the woman being easily defeated. It was quickly apparent the new werewolves did not have the skill to stand up to the enemy werewolves. Each second cost another life. Orion started out again, but this time Nathaniel held him back.
"You'll only get yourself killed," Nathaniel said.
Orion insisted otherwise by forcing his way past Nathaniel.
"Our best chance," Melinda informed the two, "is to get that barrier down. If I had to guess, it's those suits who have the control to it. Either that or it's not here, 'cause I don't believe any device would survive being in that kind of battle."
Orion paused to look over at the suits, and had to admit with a nod he agreed with her theory.
"But where?" Nathaniel wondered aloud as he joined Melinda in trying to search it out. "We're too far away," he quickly said. "No way to see it from here."
"Then we have to go find it there," she replied.
The trio quickly moved around towards the suits, doing their best not to attract the attention of the werewolves.
"Here's the plan," she said as they got as close as they could under cover of the forest. "Each one of us pick one to jump, and we hope the fourth isn't the one in charge. As soon as you can, check your target for a control device of some sort."
"I'll take the closest one," Nathaniel said.
Orion indicated the one most to the right, who was carefully scanning all areas away from the combat.
"I'll take the guy on the left, that way we have the last one somewhat surrounded," Melinda said.
They all nodded. Nathaniel and Orion shifted to (dire wolf form). Melinda managed to get herself into (dire human form). Then she counted, "One... Two... Three!" and they took off from the forest towards their targets.
Orion's target was the only one of the four humans who had been keeping an eye on the tree line. He saw the three werewolves coming and tried to warn the other humans. But the werewolves were on them before the others could react in anything but surprise.
Nathaniel saw the one man aim his pole thing at Orion, and Orion deftly managing to avoid being hit by the electric shot that came forth from it. Orion's reaction to spring on the man and bite appeared to be pure instinct, as the attack had clearly scared him out of any rational thought. Thankfully the man reacted without reason as well, and dropped the rod to try and brute force Orion off instead of using the rod again.
Nathaniel and Melinda each managed to tackle their targets before a shot could be fired. When Nathaniel's hit the ground, he heard something skitter away. He looked in the direction of the sound and saw a rectangular piece of plastic that looked very much like a garage door opener. He leapt off his target in favor of the device. The man yelled and tried to come after him, but Nathaniel quickly picked up the device in his maw and ran a few paces off. He turned back to see the fourth human leveling her rod at Melinda, who was unaware while trying to deal with her own target. Orion noticed however, and jumped off his target to take down the forth just in time to send the shot well over Melinda's head.
Because of those rods, being outnumbered merely by one was enough to make the odds in favor of the humans. Nathaniel knew he had to do something, and fast. He dropped the device back on the ground, and stepped on it. After a couple seconds of putting pressure on it, a light flashed. Then the distinct sound of electricity fading was heard, followed promptly by the howling of werewolves.
Nathaniel looked quickly to see the newly freed werewolves taking up the fight from the few inexperienced ones that were left. Satisfied, he turned his attention back to the four humans and his two partners. He leapt on the closest standing human, and knocked the rod away from her hands. Then he jumped off and took up a position next to Melinda. Bruises were already forming on her. Orion finished mauling one of the men, and took up position next to Nathaniel. He looked worse for wear, some of his fur was definitely singed, but he appeared to be enjoying himself.
Now regrouped, the trio faced the remaining three humans. "Hold them off," Melinda said, and darted towards one of the rods lying on the ground.
"Hold them off," one of the humans said to another, sounding like a creepy echo of Melinda. Two of the humans then helped the one Orion had mauled to his feet. The last stood unsteadily between the three and Nathaniel and Orion, firing whenever either one got too close but not managing to hit.
Melinda took the human down with a shot from the rod she acquired. Then she discarded it to better chase after the three running away.
Nathaniel glanced around before following, something didn't feel right to him. He shifted back to human form. "Wait! Let them go!" he called to Melinda and Orion.
The two stopped and looked back. Nathaniel turned scanned the clearly frantically from one side to the other.
"What's wrong?" Melinda's voice asked from right behind him.
"She's gone," Nathaniel informed them, though a bit unsure. He looked around again to be certain. He saw the body she had been crying over. But he couldn't see the woman who had called them anywhere. He turned to Orion and Melinda. "She's gone!" he reiterated, his surprise wearing off. "Did either of you see where she went?"
They both shook their heads.
Moments later the battle wound down. A few of the enemy retreated, only to have a search party quickly organized and off on the hunt after them. The rest of the able werewolves rounded up the survivors and began tending what wounds could be helped. Nathaniel noted most of the werewolves alive were one who seemed skilled in what they did. Only a handful at best besides himself were obviously new werewolves. He looked around the clearing again, and for the first time actually saw the carnage that lay scattered around. The ground was tinted in various shades of red all over the place. Various appendages were unattached from their former owners.
"Yes, you were lucky, young one," a voice broke through his thoughts to tell him.
He turned toward the source of the voice, just as another contradicted, "they were smart."
"All of them," a third added, the voice's owner gesturing around the clearing to indicate the dead new werewolves, "were brave."
While the werewolves commented to each other on the various valors of the battle, Nathaniel joined Melinda and Orion who were standing in human form slightly away from the rest.
"Do we trust them?" Nathaniel asked in a whisper. "Can we?"
Melinda shrugged. "I don't know yet."
Orion regarded the other werewolves. "We may not be given a choice." Nathaniel and Melinda looked at him. "Even wounded, they could take us without too much issue," he stated. "We could be in trouble still."
"If we are, at least it's together," Nathaniel said.
"We're still agreed?," Melinda asked. "Defend our own. That includes each other."
"Absolutely," Orion affirmed.
"Yes," Nathaniel confirmed as well.
The three stood together waiting to find out what would happen next. Eventually a couple of the werewolves approached them, one male and one female.
"We owe you a lot of thanks," the female said. "You saved the day."
"Your teamwork was impressive," the male added. "I see you're already learning on your own. But we can help you learn faster. I'm sure you have a lot of questions, not just about what happened here, but about yourselves and what you are. We will answer them all, in time. For now-"
"I just have one question," Nathaniel interrupted.
The werewolf looked surprised. "And what would that be?"
"Why?" Nathaniel demanded to know.
"Why?" the werewolf echoed, but with a tone of confusion.
"Yes, why," Nathaniel repeated. "Why us. Why anyone? Why are you, or your kind, spreading this curse of lycanthropy?"
The werewolf snickered, and looked to the female one who was with him. She simply rolled her eyes and started walking away. "You have a lot to learn," was all the male responded. "Come, let us tend to you. Your lessons won't start until tomorrow."
Labels: Story, The Lost Song
"So now what?" Nathaniel asked, walking over to his two new best friends.
"I don't think anything has really changed," Melinda commented while drawing doodles in the dirt around the fire pit with a stick. "Before we found out this wasn't a disease, we agreed to defend our kind from being prayed upon, help keep them safe."
"She's right. 'Our kind' has a different meaning, but your original idea for us is still a good one," Orion added from the chair he was sitting on.
"Who's going to lead us?" Nathaniel asked.
"That's a very good question," AAA replied, looking with interest at each of the three before her. "Which one of you will be the Alpha?"
"Well, I don't want the job," Nathaniel informed them all with a turn of his hand.
"I'll be the Alpha," Orion stated more than offered.
"No, I'm the Alpha," Melinda claimed as if it was obvious.
"Why you?" Orion challenged.
AAA quietly backed off. This was something they had to work out on their own.
Melinda looked genuinely confused. "Because I'm always in charge," she explained without even a hint of ego her words implied.
Orion's eyes narrowed slightly. "This isn't some social group or school club or like whatever organizations you're used to running. This is our lives
from now on. The way we live, the way we fight, they way we learn, and possibly even the way we die."
"I know that," Melinda told him with attitude to match his. She stood up to look him directly in the eye. "I was there that night too. In fact, I'm part of the reason we didn't die."
"We were as much lucky as we were smart," Orion reminded her, sidestepping having to acknowledge her plan had been a great deal of why anyone survived.
"So you think you would be better than I at leading?" She brought them back on topic. "Because..." she looked at him to fill in the rest of her statement.
"Can you be impartial? Always?
" he asked of her.
"No, of course not," she replied with a shrug. "No one-"
"I can," he asserted.
She looked at his dubiously. "So what? Can you be practical? Always?" she turned his tactic around on him.
"Being impartial is being practical," he retorted, and crossed his arms.
"No, it most definitely is not," Melinda informed him. He opened his mouth to respond, but she held up her hand and continued talking. "Either way, the really important question is, if you were Alpha and did something, made a decision or gave an order or acted in some manner, and I told you were wrong, would you listen?"
"Ha!" Orion scoffed. "No. If it were reversed, would you?"
"Yes," Melinda answered matter-of-factly.
"You l-" Orion started to accuse Melinda, when Nathaniel stepped between them.
"Now wait a minute. This is interesting. Orion, why did you say no?"
"Because, if I were the Alpha, I wouldn't be wrong. What I do or say would be what is."
"I see," Nathaniel nodded slowly as he considered the answer. "Melinda, why did you say yes?"
"Because I need to know everything there is to know if I'm going to be able to make the right decisions. If someone thinks I'm wrong, it might be because I don't have all the information. Once I hear what the person has to say, then I will know if I was wrong or not."
Nathaniel nodded and looked back at Orion. "Well she has my support."
Orion clenched his teeth. "This isn't a democracy."
"I agree," Melinda stated. She slowly pushed Nathaniel out of the way while staring at Orion. "If you want to be the Alpha, you will have to take it."
Nathaniel backed up to where AAA was watching. "Is this how this should be decided?"
"Absolutely," AAA answered. "They understand how we do things. Pay more attention to your own instincts and you will too." He turned his attention to the fight that was starting. "Either one would make a good Alpha," AAA commented to no one in particular.
Melinda took up a ready stance that clearly indicated she did not know how to fight. "Wolf," she announced to all.
Nathaniel and AAA looked at each other wondering what that meant.
Orion crouched down, and shifted into (wolf) form. Melinda waited for him, opting to stay in (human). When he started moving, so did Melinda. "Throat," she announced as before. At that same moment Orion jumped at her, and she intentionally fell onto her hands and knees. Orion sailed over her. Just as he landed on the ground, Melinda lashed out with a foot and struck him hard in the hind thigh.
Orion quickly turned around and growled. Melinda grabbed a thick stick with her right hand and scrambled to get back on her feet. "Right," she announced. Orion lunged at her, making an attempt for her left arm. Melinda dodged to her right and cracked the stick against his neck, snapping it in two. "Leg," she said.
"She's calling his attacks!" Nathaniel finally realized.
Sure enough, Orion moved to take Melinda's left leg out from under her. Because she had shifted all her weight to her right foot, he was successful in his attempt. Melinda didn't recover in time and fell hard on her butt and right elbow. She lost the stick due to the jarring, but quickly regained it with her left hand. Nathaniel thought it was too short now to be of much use, but Melinda proved him wrong. "Maul," she announced. And as Orion closed on her with an open maw, she jammed the stick vertically into his mouth.
Momentarily stunned by the action, Orion inadvertently gave Melinda enough time to get away from him. He first tried to get the stick out by forcefully closing his mouth so it would break. Instead he only hurt himself. Growling in anger, he shifted forms so he had a hand to reach in and pull the stick out with.
The next thing he knew, his head hurt much more and there was a ringing in his ears. He suddenly realized he had lost track of Melinda. Turning toward the pain, he saw her swinging a folding chair at him. He turned again fast enough to not get caught in the face. But the force of the impact sent him to the ground.
Melinda instantly dropped the chair. She ran over to Orion and grabbed him by the throat with her left hand. He clawed at her, trying to force her to let go. With her right hand she pulled a Swiss Army knife out of her pocket, flipped the blade, and placed it on his throat next to her other hand.
For a moment neither Melinda nor Orion did anything.
Melinda broke the silence, but didn't move. "I would have followed the order, even if I thought you were wrong," she informed him.
"I will, even if I think you are wrong," Orion promised, "Alpha."
Melinda smiled and let go of him. Orion turned away from her, and rubbed his neck and jaw while he sulked over his loss.
Nathaniel jumped up and headed over to Melinda with a grin. "Nice job!"
"Thanks," she replied, her attention half elsewhere. She looked at Orion's back and shook her head softly. What was the best way to soothe a sore looser? In Orion's case she wasn't sure if anything but time could.
"Let's get back to the others," Melinda said. "We have some land to claim."
Orion nodded at that. He squared his shoulders and turned around to join her and Nathaniel.
"Now, we are pack," Nathaniel proclaimed with nod of his head.
Laughter broke out behind him. The trio turned to see their elders approaching them. "You still have much to learn, young ones," BBB informed them with an amused shake of his head. "You are not a pack yet. Before you will be recognized as a pack, you should find a totem to (patron) your pack and somehow convince the totem to do so. You must also decide what your purpose as a pack will be. And before you can approach a totem, you must choose an Alpha. No totem, nor any Uratha, will acknowledge you as a pack without an Alpha!"
"I am the Alpha," Melinda announced. She stepped forward from her pack and lifted her head in challenge to BBB's statements. "Ours is to help and protect our family, the Wolf-Blooded. And we," she gestured to Orion and Nathaniel, "are (the Lost Song)."
Labels: Story, The Lost Song