Magda paced. They’d found a good spot, and from the smell of things nobody human had been anywhere near the place in a long time. Anna was nervous, and she couldn’t really blame the girl. This was the first time she’d ever really considered using her ability offensively. She sat in Ash’s lap, and Ash had his arms around her while he watched Magda pace. Daniel leaned against a tree, his expression a little hollow. He caught her looking at him, and gave her a kind of sickly smile. “I’m not so good with violence.”
“That’s not a defect.” Magda put her hand on his shoulder. “Or a weakness.”
“It just feels hypocritical.” Daniel swallowed. “Letting him…” He looked away. “I mean, if it’s the right thing to do shouldn’t I be willing to do it?”
“A long time ago, someone asked me why I fought.” Magda smiled at him.
“What did you tell them?” Daniel met her eyes.
“Because I can.” She nodded to him. “And that makes it my responsibility.”
“I’m telling myself it’s like medicine. To make a body healthy, sometimes you have to cut something out. But uh…” Daniel shook his head. “I’m not sure I believe me. What if we’re wrong?”
“That is why you are here, Daniel. If we are wrong, then you can undo the harm.” She hugged him, and felt her hug him back. Then she stepped back a little. “You are a good man, Daniel.”
“That means a lot, from someone like you.” He smiled at her. “Thank you.”
Her phone beeped, and she glanced at it. “They are coming. Wait here, I’ll be back soon.” She shifted as she turned, and in the form of the wolf headed through the woods.
Stephan watched Matthias haul the detective out of the back of the car. Matthias had bought the car just previous day from an online ad. The kid who’d sold it looked like he couldn’t believe his luck when he’d got the full asking price in cash. Matthias had apparently planned to just steal a vehicle, but Daniel had stopped that with no more than a single look. For a scrawny teenager, Daniel had one hell of a glare.
Magda was already waiting. She raised her eyebrow at him, and he gave a resigned shrug. There was no way in hell he’d manage a long walk through the woods. She kissed his cheek before turning to offer him a piggy back ride. He saw the look Matthias gave him, and smirked a little when he recalled their earlier conversation. Then he climbed onto Magda’s back.
Matthias ran a hand down his face, then started walking. The guy he was carrying over his shoulder struggled a few times, but Matthias would just issue a threat and the guy would stop moving. “How’d it go?” Magda tilted his head.
“Matthias only wolfed out a little. Some eyes and teeth to get the guy to stop trying to kick his way out of the trunk. Safe to say the guy has at least some clue things are out in left field.”
“I smell fear, but no confusion.” Magda frowned.
“Shit.” Stephan exhaled. “That meshes with the theory he’s Cabal. Knows werewolves exist, and knows they aren’t really something to fuck with.”
“I suppose in a way, that’s going to make all this easier.” Magda shook her head. “I really wasn’t thrilled about the idea we might be terrorizing an innocent just for being a suspicious asshole.”
“I think he might have recognized Matthias. Cause that guy’s no wuss, but he started running before Matthias showed any sign of being anything other than human.”
“Campers are closed and ready to move. If we need to get out fast, we can.” Magda nodded.
Daniel watched as Magda, Stephan, and Matthias tied the captive between the trees. He heard Ash make a whimpering sound, and crouched down next to him. “Ash, you…”
“Ash?” He frowned. “Are you…”
“Ropes around the wrists, pulling as…” He whimpered again, then closed his eyes and put his hands over his ears.
“Danny…” Anna’s eyes went wide. “We need to…” She put her hand on Ash’s shoulder. “He’s remembering what they did to him and…”
He saw Magda turned toward them, then grab Stephan and head their way. “Ash?” Magda’s voice was gentle. He made a soft whining sound before clinging to her.
“We need to get him out of here.” Stephan nodded. “Ash, will you help me walk to the river?” He touched Ash’s head. “Ash?”
Stephan had to say Ash’s name three more times before Ash stopped rocking in place and managed to get to his feet. He could tell Stephan was leaning on Ash more heavily than necessary as the two of them made their way down to the spot they’d scouted by the river. Hopefully tending to Stephan would keep Ash from remembering…
From remembering being tortured. He felt sick to his stomach. “We’re going to do to that guy what…”
“No.” Magda shook her head. “Ash was a pup, an innocent.” She glanced at the captive. “We’re scaring the guy, but with Anna, we don’t need to hurt him, alright?”
“Unless he’s cabal, in which case Matthias is going to kill him.” Daniel looked up at her.
“If he’s cabal, he’s no innocent.” She straightened. “Daniel, you know that better than anyone.”
“Stephan’s nearly out of range.” Anna started walking toward the prisoner. “I’m gonna need a minute to focus.”
Matthias squeezed Anna’s shoulder as she closed her eyes tightly in concentration. In a couple moments, they’d have all they needed to start hunting for real, and he could keep his little pack safe. He sent a glance at Daniel, then touched his shoulder. Daniel started to smile at him.
Then Anna recoiled, her eyes wide with horror. “There is a demon in his head!”
“Both of you, get back.” He didn’t give them a chance, just grabbed them and hauled them back to the fallen log they’d been sitting on earlier. He glanced over his shoulder to see his mother had followed. She looked a little pale. “If he…”
“Daniel’s older, his powers are developed. He should be safe, but we should get Anna to Stephan.”
“You think he can block…?” Matthias raised an eyebrow.
“I’m not sure what his powers can do, but I think yes.” Magda nodded. “His gift functions like a solid ward, and those do block demonic influences.” She glanced back at the captive. “If he’s a witch, he’s got a gift, and we don’t know what it is.”
“It hasn’t helped him so far…” Matthias narrowed his eyes. “Guess we are going to have to do this the hard way.”
“Daniel…” Magda put a hand on Daniel’s shoulder. “You could go with your sister, you don’t have to…”
“Yes, I do.” Daniel lifted his chin, then reached out and took Matthias’s hand. Matthias squeezed his hand gently. “I do.”
“I’ll take Anna to Stephan.” Magda nodded. Rather than make Anna walk, Magda simply picked the girl up and started walking.
Slowly, Matthias turned back toward the prisoner. He let go of Daniel’s hand when they were within a couple feet. The captive was breathing hard, and was definitely scared, though nowhere near as scared as he should be in this situation. Matthias reached up and pulled the bag off his head. The detective blinked, trying to focus his eyes in the dim light. Dawn was still an hour off. “Detective Michael.” Matthias tilted his head. “We need to talk about what the fuck you did to Rosa.” He let his eyes change.
Michael returned his stare as he muttered denials from behind the gag. Matthias lifted his hand, and saw Michaels eyes widen as the claws began extending. He let the change come over him slowly, shifting from human into full were until he was towering over the detective. Michaels started yanking at the restraints. Matthias reached a claw out and used it to cut through the gag. “Let’s start with what the Cabal is doing in this town?”
Magda came back to the scene to see her son in full were form. Matthias stood ten feet tall and covered in muscle and fur. His claws were nearly finger-length, and his fangs curved wickedly as he snarled at the man tied between the trees. She’d seen men wet themselves at the sight of an alpha werewolf. Hell, she’d seen other werewolves panic at the sight of an angry alpha.
She didn’t bother taking her own wolf form. It really wouldn’t have been all that intimidating next to Matthias anyway. Daniel had moved behind the man. To look at Daniel, the detective would have to take his eyes off Matthias. From the look of things, that wasn’t something he was willing to do. She stopped a couple feet away.
“I’m not part of any Cabal.” Michael was shaking his head. “And I didn’t do anything to Rosa.”
Matthias lashed out, raking claws across the detective’s torso. The wounds weren’t deep, maybe a quarter inch at most. It was enough to make the captive cry out in pain. “I suggest you tell him what he wants to know.” She folded her arms. “Before he starts biting off fingers.”
“I’m not…” Michael glared. “Part of any Cabal.”
“You’re possessed.” Magda shook her head, then glanced up at Matthias. Matthias reached out, extending a single claw. He pressed it into the side of the detective’s jaw, drawing blood, then slowly began tearing a shallow gash down the side of the man’s face. “How did this come to be?”
“I’m not possessed either.”
“Now you’re lying.” Magda narrowed her eyes. “Perhaps you’d like to remain symmetrical?” Matthias had yet to do any damage Daniel couldn’t completely heal without half trying.
“Fuckin…” Michael shook his head as Matthias started to reach for the other side of his face. “You people are insane. I’m not possessed, I’m not part of any cabal, and I didn’t do anything to Rosa. Fuck, we heard her yell and went in to try to help her.”
“Now we are almost getting somewhere.” Magda started nodding. “Tell us what happened.”
He tried not to vomit. He didn’t have enhanced senses, so he was probably just imagining the smell of blood. The guy was possessed. They weren’t dealing with a person, they were dealing with a demon. Daniel tried breathing through his mouth.
The full were form was something he’d seen before, but even knowing it was Matthias didn’t make it any less frightening. Then again, the last time he’d seen Matthias in werewolf form his boyfriend had been fighting three other werewolves. And winning. Magda was trying to get the captive to tell them who he was working with, but all the guy would say is that he was a member of the Myralis police department.
And that was all he said even as Matthias continued slowly raking his claws down the man’s side. Blood dripped from the wounds. He waited, then healed the man when Matthias nodded to him. They needed this guy alive a while longer. It was sort of strange to realize that deep down, he was okay with the guy dying. The Cabal intended to hurt his sister, and they needed to be stopped.
They began a second round of questioning, and this time the guy decided to just start responding with the words “Michaels. Detective. 74118.” Matthias clearly did not find that amusing, because he backhanded the guy hard enough to break his jaw. Daniel had to heal him again. Magda was halfway through another question when her head came up. She sniffed the air. Matthias did the same thing a moment later. “What?” Daniel looked from one to the other. “Is something?”
“There is someone out there.” Magda shook her head. “Were you followed?”
“No.” Matthias growled. He turned, scanning the woods. He shifted position, and Daniel knew he was making sure he was between Daniel and whatever was coming. Magda ducked under the captive’s arm, and put her hand onto the man’s shoulder. He saw the detective glare at her and realized her position was so she could use the captive as a hostage. Something the detective had also apparently realized. “You got six seconds to —”
A gray blur came out of the woods and took Matthias off his feet. A heartbeat later there was the sound of a gunshot, and Magda gasped as a spot of red exploded on her shoulder. Her eyes widened a heartbeat later as she staggered back. “Silver.”
“Shit.” He moved to her side, focusing his power.