The sound of the gunshot made them all go still. Stephan started to stand, and heard Ash made a whimpering sound. Anna started moving, and he caught her arm. She tried to pull free. “Anna…”
“What if Danny is…” She started shaking her head.
“There would have been a lot more than one gun shot if it was —” There was a roar, and then a crashing sound as a tree fell somewhere. “What the…” Then there were two more shots, close together.
“Stephan?” Ash looked up at him. “Stephan?”
“Come on, let’s get you two back to the truck.” Magda, you better be alright.
“I’m not leaving without Daniel.” Anna started shaking her head.
“Anna, you know the plan.” Stephan put a hand on her shoulder. “Anything happens, I get you and Ash to the truck, and we retreat. They’ll —” Anna yanked away from him and started running back toward the commotion. “Dammit.” Stephan started after her, hampered by the bum leg. A moment later, Ash was racing past him after the girl.
Matthias snarled and slashed his claws out at the guy who’d tackled him. Then he took a step back. The guy was wearing a mask, a red mask with some kind of symbol on it. Daniel had said — The guy hit him hard enough to send him flying into a tree with enough force that the tree cracked and fell. The edges of his vision started to turn fuzzy as he focused on the guy who’d hit him.
Then he roared before grabbing a nearby rock and throwing it at his opponent. The guy dodged and rolled back to his feet. He was fast. Inhumanly fast and inhumanly strong and coming in for another attack. Rage beat at his senses, and he slashed out again, catching the man and sending him flying.
Somehow, the man landed on his feet in a battle crouch and immediately launched himself back at Matthias. Matthias dodged, and then the guy drove his elbow into his torso hard enough Matthias felt ribs crack.
He couldn’t quite make out the form that had taken the massive werewolf into the woods, but he was pretty sure he knew who it was. Michaels managed to look behind him, and noted that the scarecrow looking witch was already healing the bullet wound. He pulled at the restraints, then saw the woman on the ground grab the witch and yank him into cover just as two more shots impacted the ground where they’d been standing.
A heartbeat later he saw a masked Laura step out of the woods and start toward him, gun in her hand. It took exactly three steps before he realized he wasn’t looking at Laura. Her eyes glowed faintly red when they caught his. “Erilon.”
“I’m sorry, pet. I should have taken better care of you.” She began slicing through the restraints on his left wrist. “How badly are you hurt?”
“I can move.” He nearly fell when she cut his other wrist free, and she had to catch him. “Is Laura alright?”
“I’m fine.” She cut his legs free. Then she offered him a gun. “I’ve got a silver left, and there are four in this. Gabriel is —”
Michaels heard the big werewolf roar, and a moment later a tree crashed to the ground. “Yeah, I don’t think this is the safest place to be.”
“Ted is in the car. Let’s get you to safety.”
“What if Gabe needs help?” He started shaking his head. “We can’t just?”
“Michaels, you can barely walk. He’s creating a distraction so we can get you out, and he’ll rejoin —” Erilon turned and stretched out her palm. He heard the echo of a gunshot, and realized she’d just blocked the bullet with her hand. With Laura’s hand. Holy shit. Because the woman was already back on her feet, and she was shooting at them.
“And I was having such a good day.” Michaels sighed.
Gabriel dodged the alpha werewolf’s counter-attack. Erilon had told him how big the thing was, but seeing was definitely believing. The thing snarled before ripping a boulder out of the ground and hurling it at him. Fuck. Then it came at him again, hitting with the force of a speeding car. She was right, he was going to need to step up his game. He rolled, then drove an elbow into the thing’s torso. It grabbed for his throat, and he twisted to hit it with a roundhouse kick to the chest with the same force he’d used against the vampires. The werewolf flew back and slammed into another tree. This tree made a cracking sound when the werewolf hit it, but didn’t fall.
“Matthias!” Someone yelled. It sounded like a young man. A moment later, he heard gunfire. A glance to his left showed the woman was shooting at his partner and Laura. Gabriel narrowed his eyes and headed in her direction.
To Daniel’s shock, he saw the newcomer send Matthias flying backward with a kick. Matthias hit a tree with a sickening crack. “Matthias!” His heart lurched before he saw Matthias get back up. Daniel blinked when he caught a better look at the newcomer. The guy was wearing a red mask.
“He’s not alone.” He turned toward the sound of Magda’s voice, then followed her gaze. The woman freeing the captive was also wearing a red mask.
Magda had her gun up and was firing before he could stop her. “No.” His eyes widened when he saw the woman block the bullets with her bare hand. Okay, they weren’t dealing with the ordinary. Then again, ordinary people didn’t put on masks and tackle werewolves. “Magda, I think …” The man who had been fighting Matthias grabbed Magda and flung her into the woods. She bounced before rolling out of sight.
Then he turned toward Daniel and gave a slight tilt of his head. Daniel immediately put his hands up. “Look, I think this has all been —”
Matthias snarled as he attacked, raking his claws along the guy’s back and ripping his jacket apart. The Crimson Crusader whirled around, and to Daniel’s shock he realized even though the jacket was torn open, the skin underneath wasn’t. “Wait.” He started shaking his head. Matthias lunged, trying to sink his teeth into the guy’s shoulder. The guy kicked off the ground, shoving Matthias backward before flipping over him and then slamming Matthias into the ground.
Oh shit. Oh shit. Matthias lay on his back, clearly dazed from the blow as the Crimson Crusader started to come in again. Daniel lunged forward, his hand catching hold of the guy’s upper arm. He didn’t need to take much, just to…
Pain swept through him as though his blood had caught fire. He screamed.
He drew his gun, but Gabriel was already handling the issue. He sent the woman flying. Unfortunately, the big one was still up and moving, and there was the scarecrow kid. The scarecrow kid held his hands up in a gesture of surrender, trying to distract Gabriel from the werewolf coming up behind him. Fortunately, his partner wasn’t an idiot. “Erilon, he uh…” Michaels shrugged as he watched Gabriel lay the giant werewolf out. “He might have this.”
“I…” Her eyes flashed as the kid moved in toward Gabriel. The kid grabbed Gabriel’s arm, and Erilon gasped. “No.”
There was a flash of white light, and the kid started screaming. Gabriel staggered a little, and there was a howl of rage from the werewolf. He came up and took Gabriel off his feet just as the second werewolf came charging in. “Dammit.” Michaels started toward his partner as Erilon ran for the screaming kid.
Daniel screamed. His mate screamed. The man above him had hurt Daniel. Conscious thought fled as fury took over, and then he was moving again.
He caught up with Anna just as Daniel screamed. “Danny!” A woman in a mask had hold of the screaming Daniel, who was writhing in her grip. Ash growled, then shoved Anna back toward where Stephan was coming and moved in. His shoulder caught the woman, who let out a surprised sound when he took her off her feet.
Ash used his body weight to drive her into a tree, and she fell backward. He started to grab her before realizing that behind the mask, her eyes were glowing. They widened. Her voice was odd when she spoke. “Bernard Rudolf Achterberg.”
His eyes widened as he was startled enough to take a step back. “How…”
“Oh child, I am so sorry.” She shook her head.
Then she grabbed his arm and flung him down the embankment with far more strength than a girl her size should have.
There was nothing human behind the werewolf’s eyes. It kept coming, howling with a berserker fury like nothing he’d heard before. Keeping it at bay while the other one kept going for his back was pressing him hard. There was the sound of a gunshot and then the smaller werewolf yelped. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Michaels in a shooter stance, his expression fierce as he fired twice more. The first shot grazed the alpha’s upper arm, while the second caught it in the shoulder. Neither bullet seemed to faze the rampaging beast at all.
Despite her wounds, the smaller werewolf turned toward Michaels. Michaels fired the fourth shot, but missed as the werewolf started moving toward him. His partner grabbed a nearby branch and swung it like a bat, hitting the werewolf right in the jaw.
The big one came at him with teeth again. If he didn’t get this thing down soon, his friends were going to be in deep shit. He just prayed Ted had stayed in the car.
Daniel stopped screaming and went limp the moment he got close. He hoped it was because of the range of his powers and not because the kid was… Anna was still ahead of him. There was a woman in a mask. She was bending toward where Daniel had fallen when Ash emerged from the trees and knocked her away. He grabbed Daniel’s wrists and started pulling him toward Stephan.
Stephan could hear the sounds of combat coming from elsewhere, and heard a couple more shots fired. There was a yelping sound. The woman reached Ash the same time Stephan got there, and he jammed his cane into her shoulder and hit the trigger to send a jolt of electricity into her. She staggered back a step. “You…” She started to bring her gun up and Ash drove his shoulder into her. The young man definitely remembered his combat training, because he got the gun away from her and sent it flying. It occurred to him that he should be at least a little pleased Ash was capable of joining the fight.
Unfortunately, the woman sent Ash flying in the same direction a moment later. Ash landed with a loud omph sound. A heartbeat later, the smaller werewolf he knew was Magda came crashing through the trees as well. She was bleeding from a wound on her leg.
The screaming stopped, and instead of continuing toward him the werewolf shifted direction. She was going after Erilon, and he was out of silver. Michaels adjusted his grip on the branch and glanced at his partner and…
Gabriel’s eyes were glowing with the same white light that had healed Laura. He’d never seen that happen in a fight before. A heartbeat later, Gabriel had the werewolf by the throat and smashed it into a tree twice before throwing it back.
Alright. Gabriel had the alpha covered. Somehow. After this was done, he was absolutely buying the drinks. But first, time to go rescue his crazy ass demon hobo girl. Michaels headed after the smaller werewolf.
Daniel was on the ground, Ash had just been hurt, and the masked woman was heading toward Stephan. Magda started for her, and then something hit her across the back hard enough to send her staggering forward. She turned to see the detective, still with a tree branch in his hand, and roared.
The woman backhanded her hard enough to send her staggering back, and then came forward, hitting her again. The detective started to come in with the branch, and Stephan lunged forward, hitting the detective with the cane. A cry of pain escaped the detective as the tazer did its work, and then the woman turned back toward Stephan. Magda started to move in.
Something crashed through the trees back into the clearing, and she realized to her horror that it was Matthias. His form was…
Her son was returning to human form.
She howled with rage as she saw the masked man moving in on her son’s unconscious form. He drew his sidearm, and started to take aim.
Two voices shouted in near unison.
Magda whirled. Anna was staring at Gabriel, and the masked woman was staring at her.