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When Fire Meets Fate

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It was a Friday night and instead of being in my favorite bar throwing down shots of whiskey, I was on a rooftop looking through a rifle scope and watching my target across the street. I sighed as I adjusted the rifle slightly to compensate for the slight breeze that had begun to blow. I’d been hired by the Commander of the Old Towne Garrison to help bring in a bail jumper, who happened to be a werebear that murdered four Garrison members in an armed robbery attempt. The Garrison had lost him during transport and then had disappeared from their radar. That was why I was here, on a Friday night, sitting on a rooftop, and feeling completely bored.

I picked up the radio and said, “Target in sight. No sign of others. Orders?”

The radio crackled and then the Commanding Officer’s voice broke through, “It’s a go for takedown.”

“Are we positive on the weight?”

“348 pounds was recorded at the time of arrest. Can you handle it?”

“If I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”

“Just do your damn job, Enforcer.”

“Aye, aye, Captain,” I said sarcastically.

With a groan of frustration, I sighted along the scope and as I was about to pull the trigger, my earpiece came to life.

“Hey boss,” my partner, Ben, spoke.

“Hold,” I replied and looking once more, pulled the trigger.

I watched the heavily dosed tranq go through the window and pierce the neck of the werebear. He slapped his hand over the spot and pulling the tranq from his neck, looked at it and then through the window. There was a snarl and he took a few steps and crumbled. Unconscious. My job was done.

Picking up the radio again, “Target is down. Go for extraction.”

“About time,” the man said. “Payment will be done as usual.”

“Nice doing business with y’all.”

I turned off the radio and began packing up.

“Alright, Ben,” I said, “what’s so damn important that you felt the need to break radio silence?”

“You need to come back to the office immediately,” he replied. I picked up a touch of fear in his voice and frowned. Not much scared the man.

“Job’s done. I’ll be there in fifteen.”

“Copy that.”

A tinge of worry crept up in my chest as I finished packing up and headed down from the roof. Reaching the ground, I swung the rifle pack over my shoulder, and walked quickly to my bike. The bike was my baby, a dirt bike that had survived the nuclear blast that had wiped through the earth over 83 years ago. I had customized it with every piece of bike scrap I had come across. It had a modified 449cc motor, with armor plating and casings for my weapons, and its top speed on open road was 130 mph. It was a breathtaking, beautiful beast of a machine. I smiled as I got on it and turned on the ignition.

I zipped through and around the streets and crumbling buildings on my way to my office that was situated on the outskirts of town. My office was a derelict brownstone in a neighborhood where there were only five remaining buildings. Mine was the furthest away from the other buildings. I pulled around back and unlocked the warded garage. Besides my bike, the garage contained Ben’s customized, big wheeled, buggy, my everyday rally that sat two, and an armored 4x4 transport that served as our mobile base.

I parked my bike and left the garage, locking the ward down. It was necessary in these times. There were too many thieves and rogues running around that the Garrison couldn’t maintain control over.

I walked in through the back door and headed straight to the kitchen. I took off the rifle pack and placed it on the table. Grabbing a beer out of the fridge, I opened the door that led to the basement, our office. I walked a quarter of the way when I was greeted with the scent of a werewolf. I stopped and inhaled deeply and growled low in my throat when I recognized the scent.

What the hell was he doing here?

I took a deep breath to calm myself down and continued down the steps. Turning a corner, I saw Ben sitting in front of a line of monitors trying not to draw attention to himself.

“To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit, Gustus,” I said, making Ben jump.

“Nice to know you haven’t forgotten your friends,” Gustus spoke as he moved out of the shadows.

“I wouldn’t exactly call us friends. You tried to fucking kill me against her wishes,” I answered looking at him coldly. “Why are you here, Gustus?”

He chuckled low in his throat and I bristled in anger, “Ah, Nyx, never the one for small talk. Since you’ve asked all nicely, Lexa wants you home.”

“I have no home remember,” I said bitterly. “I was banished eight years ago. I’ve followed the rules. I haven’t stepped near the border in all this time. Why would she want me back in Clifton?”

“I was only sent to locate and bring you in.”

I scoffed, “Bring me in? Who the hell do you think you are, Gustus? You come here acting all bad ass and menacing, expecting me to just comply. To submit.”

He walked up close to me and tried to show me he was the more dominate of the two of us, but it didn’t work. There was no one more dominate than me and he knew it.

“You were her Second, Nyx. You got greedy and wanted her power. You killed everyone there,” he said.

I growled low, “Get it through your head, Gustus. I never wanted to take over the pack. I was quite happy being Second.”

“The facts don’t lie.”

“Those facts did.”

“Hmph,” he said turning and walking away from me. “The past is irrelevant, Nyx. There is a much more pressing matter than you.”

“And that is what, exactly?”

He looked at Ben, who shrank into his chair, and replied, “It’s best if we discuss this in private.”

“Whatever you have to say, you can say in front of my partner. There’s no one for him to tell.”

Gustus snapped his gaze to me, eyes flaring bright green for a moment, and then nodded.

“Very well,” he said as if he was doing me a favor. “There has been some unauthorized activity in the Manassas region recently.”

“So?”

“We’ve sent teams to investigate, but none have returned.”

This news peaked my interest and I asked, “How many?”

“Five.”

I blanched. Twenty pack members just disappeared. That couldn’t be right.

“Disappeared or killed?”

“We don’t know. That’s why Lexa wants you home. You’ve built a solid reputation here and in the surrounding areas. You’re considered the best among the best. You’ve been able to track, locate, apprehend or kill your targets without causing a disruption in the everyday lives of the population.”

“So, Lexa just wants my skills. Even if I do agree to this, I have a kill order on me. If I take one foot past the border, I’m dead.”

“The kill order has been temporarily lifted on Lexa’s orders.”

“I’m sure Titus just loved that,” I said sarcastically.

“It does not matter what Titus likes or dislikes. Like all pack members, he follows her without question.”

“What’s in this for me,” I asked as I leaned against my desk. “I don’t do pro bono work.”

“Lexa is willing to pay you based on the difficulty of your task. She has made available any and every resource that is available to the pack. She is giving you free reign over the entirety of our lands.”

“That’s not enough, Gustus. If whatever is out in Manassas has already made 20 members disappear from the face of the Earth, we are talking extreme danger. I’d be putting my very life on the line.”

He looked down at his hands that had become fisted when I refused the terms. When he looked back up at me, there was a flash of rage in his eyes, but he quickly schooled his features to one of indifference.

“I had hoped that your greed would be enough to compel you, but I can see that is not enough. Lexa informed me that may not be enough, but I did not believe her,” he said through gritted teeth. “She is willing to lift your banishment and the kill order permanently and bring you back into the pack. Past forgotten, slate wiped clean.”

“I know that you wouldn’t willing give me back my position, so what would I get to do?”

“That is up to her and the rest of the Council to decide where you would be placed if you succeed.”

I looked at him and inhaled deeply. Whatever was happening, I could smell the fear and worry coming from him in small waves.

“Why me? There are other freelance Enforcers out there that would die to take on this job and would’ve agreed at the mention of a large sum of money.”

“Because, she only trusts you to be able to find the answers and give it to her truthfully, regardless of what Titus and I think.”

“And what is it that you think?”

“That I didn’t make sure you were dead when I threw you over the border,” he said with deadliness coating his voice. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter what I think. Your unique skills and powers far outshine those of your competitors. She wants that.”

I looked over at Ben who was subtly shaking his head, telling me not to take the offer. I stood there thinking hard. Was it worth it? Was I willing to go back to the pack and follow her rules? Was it worth seeing her again? Was it worth facing the memories and the heartbreak? Could I stand by knowing that twenty pack members had disappeared without a trace?

Coming to a decision, I asked Ben, “How many cases do I currently have on the docket?”

He looked resigned and pulled up the case files on the computer.

Looking at the list he said, “You have 20 open cases. 15 of them you can easily give over to the other freelancers. The other 5 will only deal with you, personally. Of those five, you have two that must be done immediately and one of them is with the Coalition.”

“Thank you,” I replied and turned to Gustus. “I need two weeks to coordinate and get the two jobs done.”

“Lexa will be displeased.”

“I don’t care if she is ‘displeased.’ I have a job, I have bills to pay, and I have a responsibility to my clients. I’m not just going to stop and let these people down, Gustus. If she wants me that bad, she will have to wait two weeks. As long as you don’t send any more teams to Manassas, the pack will be safe. My only recommendation is to set up long range reconnaissance to keep an eye on the situation. I don’t know why you didn’t do that in the first place before sending in teams. It’s sloppy, Gustus.”

He bristled at my comments and growled, “You would be wise not to push this, Nyx.”

I got up in his face, nearly nose to nose, and with a deadly calm, “Go ahead and try, Gustus, but Lexa will lose her Second and there would be nobody to help her.”

“Nyx, hand,” Ben said, calling my attention.

I looked down and my hand was covered in blue fire, the hottest flame I could produce. Gustus looked down as well and backed down quickly. Sometimes it paid to be a werewolf and a fire mage.

With a loud deep breath, Gustus said, “I will tell her you will be arriving in two weeks.”

The flame extinguished, and I nodded, “Two weeks. If I finish early, I will come early.”

“If that is the case,” he said, producing a card, “Call this number and arrangements will be made.”

I took the card and mocked saluted him, “Then I suggest you leave my home. Quickly.”

He took the hint and without a backwards glance, left. When I heard the door click and could no longer smell him, the tension released, and I sat behind my desk, exhausted.

“I really don’t think it’s a good idea to get involved with your old pack, Nyx,” Ben said as he took a chair across from me.

“I don’t think it’s a good one either,” I replied, looking at him.

“Then why do it? They threw you out with a freaking kill order. You have no responsibility to them.”

I leaned back in my chair and replied, “I can’t just ignore the fact that 20 pack members have up and disappeared. That never happens. If there’s death, the other teams would have reported it and Lexa would have attacked the area in full force to take down the threat. But because of who and what I am, I’m the only one that has the highest chance of ending her situation with minimal bloodshed or any.”

He nodded and replied, “It’s a good thing that the Coalition doesn’t know how powerful you really are. You’d either be in a lab or dead.”

“Exactly why I only use my Fire. It keeps me off their radar.”

“Alright. I’ll start compiling a list of Enforcers that would be able to complete the 15 jobs, concentrating on who would be best for which case.”

“Thank you. I’ll handle speaking with the three who will only work with me. Then knock the two jobs out.”

“Speaking of the Coalition. It’s a bit of a doozie.”

“How so?”

He handed me the file and I opened it to look. It was an intelligence gathering mission. Once that was completed, I was ordered to then take the entire group out.

“You’re right,” I said, looking at Ben. “I’m going to have to use more than my Fire to take down this organization, unfortunately. There’s no other way, so I’ve got to make it look like I looked used more mundane methods.”

“The other job is a straight assassination. I’d knock that out first while you’re information gathering.”

“Good idea. But before I do anything else, I am going to the bar,” I said standing up.

He smiled, “I’d change first. There’s no way you’ll be able to pick up a girl in that outfit.”

I looked down at what I was wearing and grinned, “You’re right. I look like I’m going to kill somebody instead of flirting. Good night, Ben.”

“Good night and happy hunting,” he said with a laugh and returned to his beloved computers.

I shook my head as I walked up the stairs. That boy was a mad hacker and could hack into everything, but he was the most socially awkward person I had ever come across. That’s what made him a good partner. He could do his work and I never had to worry about information leaking out.

I took a shower and got dressed into something more agreeable to my goal for the night. Getting drunk and laid. Three weeks was too long for me and I was feeling the itch. The Forest Pack was very prone to randiness and it wasn’t uncommon to have full blown orgies. Even though I’d been banished, I still had that sex drive. Hard to ignore sometimes.

I headed back out to the garage and then off to my favorite haunt. Inside, I handed the bartender my leather jacket and revealed a full sleeve of Celtic art tattoos. A remembrance of where my lineage.

The bartender handed over my usual and leaned over the counter to whisper in my ear, “Nyx, there’s a new girl in town. Blonde in the corner booth. Kinda shy, you should introduce yourself.”

I nodded, “In a bit. I’ve got to make my rounds first.”

He grinned and went to help other customers. I moved easily through the crowd, occasionally coming across a caress or a kiss depending on the woman. I was lucky that the women I had slept with held no ill will towards me. They knew what pack I came from and knew that it was in my nature to sleep around. It was something I always made clear.

I took my usual place and leaned against the bar counter facing outwards, scanning the crowd and listening to the live band. Taking a sip of my whiskey neat, my eyes found the girl that I was told about. Blonde hair, slightly round face, the most electric blue eyes I’d ever seen, and from what I could see of her body, curves that demanded to be caressed. She was alone and sipping from a champagne flute, looking over the crowd. People watching. As her eyes swept the crowd, I caught her eyes and I knew I had to have her. I smiled slightly and inclined my head. She smiled nervously and looked down at her drink before taking a sip. I purposely turned my attention from her and out of the corner of my eye, I could see her looking up at me. Drinking my whiskey, I would occasionally look over at her and catch her watching me. When she noticed me looking, she would immediately glance away. I turned back around and leaned on my elbows, giving her a chance to see my ass. There was a mirror running the length of the bar and I could see her reflection.

She couldn’t seem to stop staring at my backside and I smiled as I saw her tongue dart out, wetting her lips. I was getting to her. I finished my drink as she had finished hers and was playing with the flute.

I turned to face the crowd again, as the bartender refilled my drink. The crowd parted as the lead singer walked over to me.

“Chloe,” I said, standing up straighter and giving her a tight hug. “Your voice is impeccable as always.”

She blushed and ducked her head, “Nyx, it’s good to see you. Buy me a drink?”

“Always,” I replied and signaled the bartender.

He slid a bottle of beer over and Chloe stopped it deftly. She sighed as the cold liquid slid down her throat.

“So, what brings you over here,” I asked. “You’re usually canoodling with Jake between sets.”

“Well,” she said, placing a hand on my arm and turning her amethyst eyes on me, “me and the guys were wondering if you’d sing with us? Just a couple of songs. You know for old times sake.”

“And what would I get out of this?”

“Maybe that blonde that you’ve been staring at all night. You know how chicks dig band members.”

I chuckled, “Very true. It’s a shame I could never get you into my bed. We would’ve made beautiful music together.”

She jabbed me in my side and replied, “You know better than to flirt with me, Nyx Allistar. I could freeze you with a thought.”

“Oh, I know, darling,” I said and finished my drink. “Alright, I sing a couple of songs with you.”

She beamed up at me and I couldn’t help but smile back as she tugged me to the stage. A cheer went up as everyone noticed where I was going. My singing was a rare treat and they all looked forward to it.

Family Tree,” I asked them and they all nodded.

As soon as they started playing, the crowd quieted.

“Well, it seems to be some people think I am just a dreamer
Well listen close and you will find I am a believer
The stubborn word is thick as mud and this I can guarantee, yeah
And my soul’s deep, deep as that blue sea, I wish somebody’d free it

Once I lost my way
All that I would say

Please take home
To the place I belong
I wanna die where I was born
Bury me beneath the family tree
Yeah, no one ever really wanna leave
I’m home, baby, don’t you know?
I’m finally home…”

As I started the second verse, my eyes gazed over the crowd, swaying to the song, and settled on the blonde. Her eyes were riveted on me and I couldn’t help but smile. I put everything into the song, finding it appropriate to what I was about to embark on. I was going home.

When the song ended, they started playing New Kinda Feelin’. This time I sang to her, keeping her eyes trained on mine. She began blushing and I smiled and winked at her, making her eyes widen. When we finished, a cheer went up and I bowed and hopped off of the stage. As I walked back over to the bar, I noticed that she seemed intent on staring at the flute she was playing with in her hands. I grinned, realizing that I had hooked her. Now all I had to do was reel her in.

“Damn, boss,” the bartender said as he handed me another drink and champagne. “I swear you could melt the clothes off of any woman here.”

I laughed and downed the whiskey and said, as he poured me another, “Liam, you’re making me blush. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a woman that needs my personal touch.”

“I don’t think you’ll have a problem with that one,” he laughed.

I saluted him and headed over to the blonde’s booth.

“May I join you,” I asked startling her. “I come bearing gifts,” and held out the champagne.

She nodded and accepted the drink, our fingers touching briefly sending a small jolt of electricity up my arm. A lightening mage, a rare power among mages. I smiled at her as I slid into the booth opposite her.

“I haven’t seen you around here before,” I said as I nonchalantly took a drink.

She took her own sip before she answered, “I’m new. Here on a business trip.”

I quirked an eyebrow at her and said, “A business trip? This side of town doesn’t usually have much business that would require a personal visit from an out of towner such as yourself.”

“This one does,” she said nervously.

“Then I shall pry no more. Your business is your own.”

She nodded and took another drink.

She looked at me with a wrinkled brow, and said, “I’m Clarke.”

“Nyx,” I answered and held out my hand.

She took it, another shock traveled up my arm, and shook it. I let go and surreptitiously wiped my hand on my jeans. She didn’t seem to notice the slight exchange of energy, which was odd. Most mages had control of their magic to prevent such things from happening.

“You have an interesting name,” she said.

I smiled and said, “I’m named after the Primordial Goddess of the night.”

“Why would your parents name you that, if you don’t mind me asking?”

I shrugged, “Easy enough, I was born during the darkest part of the night. My hair and eyes matched the night and that’s why my name.”

“And the tattoos,” she asked curiously.

“My people are descended from the Gaelic Celts.”

“Do you have more?”

I smiled mischievously and answered, “Yes, I do, but very few people are allowed to find them.”

She blushed and took a swallow of her champagne.

“Do you,” I asked, startling her, “have any yourself.”

She shook her head, “No. I’ve never had the desire to.”

“It’s not for everyone,” I said nodding my head in understanding. “I happen to find it therapeutic.”

“Therapeutic?”

“Yes. Just a way to deal with some things,” I replied, shrugging.

“And I probably won’t know what those things are if I ask?”

“You’re right, you won’t,” I said grinning. “We’d have to get to know one another better before I divulge my inner workings.”

That got her blushing and then she lapsed into silence as I waited patiently for the inevitable.

“I’ve never heard someone sing like that before,” she said, looking at me with wonder.

I chuckled, “I’ll take that as a compliment, Clarke. It’s not often that I get to sing. My line of work doesn’t always give me time to and before you ask, I’m not going to tell you what I do. Just as I won’t ask what you do.”

“Fair enough.”

From there, I eased her into agreeing into removing ourselves from the bar and moving to someplace more private to continue our conversation. When I took her to my penthouse suite, she was immediately drawn to the view of Olde Town. I smiled to myself as I poured us a couple of drinks. With them in my hands, I approached her from behind. I noticed her eyes flicker to my reflection, but she didn’t turn around.

Standing directly behind her, I curved my arm around her waist and offered the drink. She took it and I rested my hand across her stomach. She stiffened slightly, but allowed it to stay.

“Beautiful view, isn’t it,” I asked softly.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she replied with awe in her voice.

“Hmm, neither have I.”

She glanced up at me in our reflection and noticed that I was looking at hers. She sipped the drink nervously and I smiled slightly. My eyes never leaving hers, I pushed her back into me and felt her body tremble. I leaned down and kissed the side of her neck. She closed her eyes at the contact, her body relaxing into mine. I nuzzled her neck, taking in her scent, and grazing the spot behind her ear with my teeth. She let out a small gasp and turned herself slightly until I captured her mouth. As we kissed, I turned her around slowly and moved until her back was pressed against the window. She wrapped her arms around my neck, her fingers entwining in my hair. She leaned her head back as I made a trail down her neck and nipped her on the exposed part of her shoulder. She moaned softly as her thoughts leaked and I found out that this was the first time with a woman. I gentled my usual ways, teaching her what it meant to be with a woman. When she climaxed, it was with a most delicious sound making my wolf happy. I then taught her the ways to reciprocate and with her lightning, she made me want more as we fell asleep.

When I woke up later that night, she was still sleeping beside me, curled up against me. I smiled and got up. I dressed quietly, watching her curiously. The wolf and I felt that this had been more than a one-night stand, but we couldn’t place the feeling. I shook off the confusion and left quietly.

Chapter Text

I woke up to knocking, not remembering where I was or how’d I gotten there. I sat up in the bed and realized that I was not where I should be and naked. The knock sounded again, and I wrapped the sheet around myself, going to the door.

“Yes,” I asked through the closed door.

“Room Service, ma’am,” a man’s voice answered.

Confused, I said, “I didn’t order any room service.”

“Ms. Allistar ordered for you before she left, ma’am.”

Ms. Allistar? I didn’t know anyone by that name.

I opened the door a crack and peered at the man with a cart and covered trays.

He saw me looking and smiled, “Ma’am.”

I opened the door and he walked in pushing the cart. He set it by the breakfast table that had a view of the city. He laid everything on the table and turned back to me.

“Is there anything else I can get you, ma’am?”

Befuddled, I shook my head, “No. No, thank you.”

“Very well. Then I shall be on my way. But before I forget, Ms. Allistar has instructed us that you may remain here until your business in town has concluded. When you leave, just speak with the front desk.”

“She…she did?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Um, okay, thank you,” I said, more confused than ever.

He bowed and left the room, closing the door behind him. I walked over to the breakfast table and lifted the covers. There was fresh eggs, fruits, meats, and a plate of round fluffy things. There was also fresh juice, water, and a steaming dark liquid. Small containers of what looked like milk, sugar, and a sweet gelatinous liquid.

I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen such fresh and hot food. Greedily, I sat down and tried a little bit of everything. The fluffy round things melted in my mouth as I savored the flavor, but it was missing something. I took the container that held the sweet liquid and poured it over the plate. Taking another bite, I moaned in pleasure. It was so good. I tried the juice and it tasted like fresh oranges. The dark liquid was hot and there was a pleasurable aroma coming from it. Tasting it made me grimace at the bitterness of it, though there was a mild flavor that I found appealing. I took the sugar and poured some in, as well as a bit of the milk. I stirred it and tried it again. It was heavenly. Whatever it was, I wanted more, like every day. I needed to find out what it was.

When I was full, I sat back in the chair and let the atmosphere relax me. I had apparently spent the night with someone. This Ms. Allistar, who ever she was. I was annoyed with myself for not being able to remember what she even looked like. I felt the need to thank her.

There was a series of beeps that brought me back to the present. I got up quickly and grabbed the communicator that was in my pants.

“I’m here,” I said quickly. “I’m here.”

“It’s about time, Clarke,” Bellamy said.

I rolled my eyes and replied, “I’m sorry.”

“Where are you,” he demanded.

“I think I’m at a hotel,” I said looking around.

“A hotel? How did you end up at a hotel? You know, never mind. The more important question is, why did you turn off your tracker last night?”

“My tracker? I didn’t turn it off,” I said, digging through my pockets looking for it. “I’m looking at it and it’s still on.”

“Well, it wasn’t on last night and didn’t come on again until four hours ago.”

“Four hours ago? That’s odd,” I said sitting on the bed.

“You’re not kidding. We’re coming to get you. What’s the name of the hotel?”

“I, I don’t know. Let me look,” I said as I got up to look around.

I opened the drawers to the nightstand, but didn’t find anything useful, so I walked back out into the living room. There didn’t seem to be anything with the name of the hotel, not even the cart. Frustration built, and I walked to the door and opened it, looking down at the handle, I found a door hanger with the name of the hotel.

Sighing in relief, I said, “I’m at the Sky View Hotel, in the penthouse.”

“Good. We’ll be there in a bit. Don’t go anywhere. Understand?”

Closing the door, I said, “I understand. I’ll be here.”

“Alright. See you in a bit.”

“See you.”

Walking to the bathroom, I dropped the sheet back on the bed and found the most luxurious bathroom that I only thought were in dreams and old novels. Marble counter tops, with what appeared to be gold faucets. A mirror that spanned the entire counter and a very large walk-in shower with glass walls and multiple shower heads. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw that my body was tense and like I’d just spent a night having sex.

Oh My God, I had sex last night. With a stranger. A stranger who has a penthouse in a hotel. Who the hell was this Ms. Allistar?

I shook my head, dispelling the thoughts and turned my focus to the shower. I turned on the water, and being used to tepid water, was pleasantly surprised to find the water running hot. In anticipation, I adjusted the water until it wasn’t burning my hand and stepped in. As soon as I closed the doors, the glass turned opaque and giving me privacy. I stood under the water with my eyes closed, enjoying the feeling of it cascading down my body. Regretfully, I opened my eyes when I remembered Bellamy and Octavia were on their way. I looked around and finding soap and shampoo, I washed every inch of me, reveling in the sensation of being completely clean.

Done, I wrapped a towel around myself and finding a brush and hair dryer, dried my hair. The first time in a long time, my hair shone, the blonde reflecting nearly white in some places. I braided small portions along the side of my face and let the rest fall. I dried off and walked out into the bedroom. I searched for my clothes and wrinkled my nose at the smell. I’d forgotten that I’d worn them for the past three days. On impulse, I opened the wardrobe doors and was met with a variety of clothing. Opening the small drawers, I found clean underwear and bras. Feeling a moment of guilt that passed quickly, I grabbed the clean clothes and dressed. I found a bag to put my dirty clothes in and left it on the bed.

A buzzer sounded from one of the nightstands and I found a telephone.

Answering, I said, “Hello?”

“Sorry to disturb you, ma’am, but I have a couple here at the front desk saying that they know you. Their names are Bellamy and Octavia Blake,” the voice on the other end said.

“Yes. I know them. Could you please send them up?”

“Of course. It would be my pleasure. I will also send up a keycard so that you may come and go as you please.”

“Thank you,” I said and hung up the phone.

Five minutes later, Bellamy and Octavia opened the door. Octavia let out a long whistle as she took the living room in, while Bellamy looked around suspiciously.

“Damn, Clarke,” Octavia said as she walked over to the windows overlooking the city. “How did you score such a swanky place? Way better then where we were at. Ooh, yummy! Is that fresh fruit?”

I laughed, “It is and it’s so good. Oh, and you’ve got to try the meat. It’s pork, I think. Either way, the food is really good. Chef would be jealous.”

“I’m sure he would,” Octavia replied around a mouthful of fruit. She closed her eyes in ecstasy as she inhaled the leftovers.

She poured some of the black liquid in a cup and took a drink. She sighed in happiness.

“Don’t you find it bitter, O,” I asked her, surprised.

She shook her head and said, “Nope. It’s perfect the way it is. What is it anyway?”

“I have no clue.”

“How’d you score us a better place, Clarke,” Bellamy asked, still suspicious.

I blushed as I sat down at the table and replied, “Um, I think I slept with the woman who owns or has a standing reservation for this room.”

“You did what,” Octavia said, dropping a piece of meat from her mouth.

“Wait. You think you slept with some woman? How could you not know whether or not you did,” Bellamy demanded.

“I don’t remember,” I said sheepishly. “I went to a bar last night and had a few drinks of champagne. Then nothing. I don’t remember a damn thing. The only thing I know is that the woman’s last name is Allistar.”

“You were drugged. That’s the only thing that makes sense,” Bellamy said as he paced back and forth. “How could you allow this to happen?”

“I didn’t allow anything,” I snapped back. “I just don’t remember what happened last night. I haven’t had champagne since I snuck some when we were kids. So…”

“So, it’s possible that you got too drunk and blacked out,” he supplied.

“I guess,” I said, shrugging.

Bellamy stopped pacing and glanced at me. The glance turned into a stare and his frown deepened.

“Where’d you get the new clothes?”

“There’s a whole wardrobe full of clothes. I didn’t think the woman would mind because there’s clothing of different sizes.”

Octavia looked up at me gleefully and said, “There are? Where?”

I pointed back towards the bedroom and said, “In there. There’s also clean underwear and bras.”

“Sweet,” she replied and streaked to the bedroom.

She screamed in joy and I saw that Bellamy smiled for a moment before he turned serious again.

“We were able to get an appointment to speak with the Garrison Commander for later today,” he said as he walked over to the table and poured himself a glass of juice.

“That’s a load off my mind,” I replied. “I don’t like that we’ve taken people prisoners and their dogs.”

“Those aren’t dogs. They’re wolves,” he said as he gulped down the juice.

“Wolves? You’ve got to be kidding me?”

“No. Raven reported that they are indeed wolves, but they’re different from the ones that used to live here before the nuclear war.”

“How so?”

“The don’t know. The wolves won’t let anyone, except the prisoners, near them. They’ve tried to tranq them, but they won’t go down.”

“What the hell happened after we went into the bunker,” I said thinking out loud.

There was a loud squeal and Octavia came rushing out of the bedroom.

“Have. You. Seen. The. Bathroom,” she gushed.

“It’s awesome. You have got to take a shower. It’s got hot water and everything,” I said, grinning. “Best damn shower in my entire life.”

“Can I,” Octavia asked Bellamy.

He nodded, and she clapped her hands, running back into the bedroom.

“This room is amazing,” I said, leaning back into the very comfortable couch.

“This place is too good to be true,” he said sitting down in an armchair. “We need to get out of here.”

“Oh, come on, Bell,” I pleaded. “Can’t you just take a moment and enjoy it. We’re safer than we were in that motel. We have fresh food and drinks here.”

“You want to stay here,” he asked, in disbelief. “What if that woman comes back and sees you’re still here and there are two more people in the room.”

“I don’t think she’ll be back,” I said. “She told the staff that we’re welcome to stay here until we’re done doing what we need to do.”

“Who the hell is this woman?”

“I don’t know, but apparently she has connections if she can afford this place.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea to stay here. We have no idea if she is planning something. She could be a killer and she’s lured you here and saying you could stay here before she kills you.”

“Oh, come on, Bell. You can’t be serious?”

“I’m deadly serious. We don’t know these people. We spent three hours yesterday just trying to get directions to the Garrison. Everyone I asked looked at me like I was nothing more than a piece of dirt. We wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if Octavia hadn’t started asking the same questions.”

“Yeah, it was weird,” Octavia said, coming back out and towel drying her hair. “They completely ignored Bell, but when I started talking, they were very courteous and friendly. When we got to the Garrison, Bell tried to arrange a meeting with the Commander and was completely ignored. I go and talk to the front desk and within ten minutes we had an appointment.”

“Did you experience anything like that,” Bellamy asked curiously.

“I got the same treatment as Octavia. Friendly faces and people pointing where I should visit while I was in town. The only weird thing is that when I accidentally touched someone, they would shudder as if they enjoyed the touch. They would look at me and nod in thanks, then go on their way.”

“That is weird,” Octavia said sitting cross legged on the other chair. “I actually had people backing away, heads down, and then scurry past me. It was like they were afraid of me or something.”

“This place is too weird. We need to get to that meeting and then get the hell out of here.”

“I guess,” I said reluctantly. “What time is the meeting?”

He glanced at his watch and replied, “In about three hours. I guess we stay here until it’s time to leave.”

“Then it would be prudent for to you shower as well,” I said with a smile. “But I think there’s only women’s clothing, so you’ll have to keep wearing the same clothes.”

He gave me a lopsided grin and said, “I think I’ll survive.”

While Bellamy showered, Octavia made herself comfortable and took a nap. There was a knock on the door and the same man that had delivered breakfast came and started to stack the plates and covers back onto the cart.

“Excuse me, sir,” I said timidly.

“Yes, how I may be of service,” he said, smiling.

“That dark liquid. What is it?”

He looked at me funny and answered, cordially enough, “It’s coffee ma’am. Would you like some more sent up? We have a variety of flavors, if you’d prefer something sweeter, with chocolate perhaps?”

“Chocolate?”

“Yes, ma’am,” He replied, obviously confused.

I blushed and said, “You’ll have to forgive me, but there’s no coffee or chocolate from where I come from or those round fluffy things.”

Understanding dawned on his face and he happily replied, “I am sorry, I didn’t know, please forgive me. Those round fluffy things as you called them are pancakes. They’re quite delicious with butter and syrup. You should try that next time. As to the coffee, if you turn on the tv and tune in to channel 1, you’ll see a menu and you can pick and choose what ever you’d like from it.”

“Thank you. You’ve been very kind.”

He smiled kindly and replied, “Ms. Allistar is the owner. She likes to take care of the staff, so we make sure her guests are always well cared for. Will you be going out and enjoying the city today?”

“I’m not sure. We have a meeting with the Garrison Commander in a few hours. I don’t know if we’ll have time after that.”

“Well, call down to the front desk when you’re ready to head to the Garrison and we’ll have a car waiting to take you there.”

“Oh, I couldn’t ask you to do that.”

“We are a full service hotel, ma’am. As I have said, Ms. Allistar is well liked, and it would be an honor and privilege to help her guests in every way possible. If there is nothing else, ma’am, I really must return with these dishes.”

“Oh, yes of course,” I said standing up. “Let me open the door for you.”

“I don’t want to cause you any trouble…”

“Oh, it’s no trouble. It’s the least I can do since you’ve helped me so much.”

He nodded appreciatively, and I opened the door for him. He pushed the cart and went on his way.

“So, a room, room service, and a car,” Bellamy said from the bedroom door. “This gets curiouser and curiouser.”

“I’m starting to grasp just how weird this place is. I just hope the Commander will be able to provide us with some answers.”

“I do too. I’m not comfortable holding them prisoners either. Their people will eventually come looking for them, if they haven’t done so already.”

 

Two and half hours later, we were piled in the back seat of a car being driven to the Garrison. The driver did not like that we insisted that Bellamy ride in the back with us. Whatever was happening was happening only to Bellamy. Octavia and I were treated with immense respect and deference.

When we arrived, we were immediately escorted to the Commander’s office where we overheard the Commander speaking to someone on the phone.

“You can’t just up and quit. We have a signed contract,” he said angrily.

He paused and listened to someone on the other end.

“Okay, so you’re not quitting. You’re taking a sabbatical. What in god’s name for?”

Pause and we see his face pale.

His tone changed immediately as he apologized, “Yes. Yes, of course. I understand. The Coalition takes precedence over anything else. Just send me the names of the Enforcers you would recommend during your leave. Yes, of course they’ll be well compensated for their work. No, no. You don’t have to come down here. I’ll have the paperwork drawn up and sent to your office. Thank you, ma’am. Alright, I look forward to your return.”

He put the headset down and heaved a huge sigh of relief.

“My apologies, sir. I didn’t realize you were on the phone,” our escort said.

“It’s fine, Corporal. What is it I can do for you?”

“Your two o’clock meeting is here.”

“Well, don’t just stand there, let them in.”

“Yes sir,” she said and swept her arm indicating we could enter.

“Ladies,” he said with a smile and completely ignored Bellamy. “Please have a seat, though I’m afraid your man will have to wait outside the office.”

I looked over at Bellamy who was frowning and silently told him with my eyes to do it. He nodded slightly and left, closing the door behind him.

“So, how is it that I may be of service.”

“Well, our people have moved into the area recently and we’re unfamiliar with the policies that are in place. I’m afraid that we may have taken some people into our custody that may have only been curious.”

“I see,” he said, steepling his hands and placing his chin on them. “May I ask where it is you have moved from?”

“Far west, across the Rockies,” I lied.

“That is far indeed. I didn’t realize that there were people on the other side.”

“Not many of us left, I’m afraid. That’s why we crossed and ended up here.”

“Now, you said that you’ve captured people?”

“Yes, sir. When we capture trespassers, we keep them in custody until we can ascertain their intent. I’m afraid they haven’t been very forthcoming. We don’t want to cause unnecessary issues by keeping them.”

“I understand. Where have you taken up residence?”

“West of here. In Manassas.”

He paled and swallowed down fear. Octavia and I looked at each other in confusion before returning our attention to him.

“I’m sorry. Have we done something wrong by settling there?”

“I’ll be truthful with you girls,” he said leaning forward on the table. “Our jurisdiction does not go that far. Manassas falls under the Forest Pack Territory. You’d have to speak with their leader, Lexa Devereux, de Pakstoka.”

“Pack,” Octavia asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” he replied respectfully. “I’m not sure how you slipped through their patrols, but you’ve landed deep in the middle of their territory. And the men you’ve captured probably belong to the pack. You’ve landed yourself in quite a pickle.”

“How can we rectify the situation,” I asked, concerned. “We have no interest in starting something.”

“Again, my suggestion is to ask to have a meeting with their leader.”

“Do you know how we can contact her?”

“Unfortunately, no. We don’t maintain any contact with them. Only the Coalition does. And I would not speak with the Coalition if it can be handled within the territory.”

“Could you point us in the direction of someone who could?”

“I’d say yes, but she’s just informed me that she will be unavailable to take on any new cases for the foreseeable future. She used to be a member of the pack. She could’ve probably pointing you where or who to go to. I’m sorry.”

“We understand,” Octavia said politely. “We had to give it a try.”

Curiously, I asked, “Could you give us her name, in case we may have a future need to get in contact with her after her return?”

His face brightened that we weren’t pushing the issue and said, “Of course. Of course. Here’s her card. She’s one of the best Enforcers on the East Coast. She can be pricey, but she’s damn good at her job. So, it’s worth it.”

I took the card and read it. The name on the card read, “Nyx Allistar, Freelance Enforcer.” In shock, I recognized the name and last night’s memory returned in a flash. This was the woman who I had slept with and we were staying in her hotel room.

I stood up quickly and the Commander stood as well, and I said, “Thank you, Commander. You’ve been most helpful.”

“Your welcome, young lady. I’m sorry that I could not help you,” he said and held out his hand.

I took it and saw him do that same shiver of happiness at our contact. I shook quickly and let go. He looked at me funny but said nothing. We said our good byes and left quickly, grabbing Bellamy on the way out. We got back into the car and headed back to the hotel.

Chapter Text

I’d just gotten back to the office after fielding question after question as to why I was having to postpone my clients’ contracts. I don’t know how many times I apologized and offered to refer them to another Enforcer. They were adamant about sticking with me and only me. I promised all 3 of them that I would contact them immediately on my return.

I was tired and cranky when the phone rang for the thousandth time. When I looked at the caller ID, I growled in frustration. I’d just talked to the man and he was calling me again.

“Commander, I’ve already told you that I will not be available any time soon. What’s so damn important that you’re calling me,” I said roughly as I sat on my desk.

“I know, Nyx, but, I wouldn’t be calling unless it was an emergency. This is an emergency,” he said fearfully, which raised the hair on the back of my neck.

“What is it,” I asked. “What’s got your panties all twisted?”

“I had a meeting earlier today that I think you need to be aware of.”

“Okay. Are you going to tell me, or do I have to guess?”

“Oh, right, of course not. I had a meeting with two young ladies and their human. They’ve recently taken up residence in the Forest Pack Territory.”

He paused to give me a chance to take the information in and I felt fear bubbling up in my gut.

“And?”

“I don’t think they realize the gravity of the situation they’ve found themselves. Their people have just moved into Manassas and they’ve confessed to capturing pack members.”

“Shit,” I replied, my mind going a million miles a minute.

“Exactly. Now, I don’t want this to spill over into my jurisdiction. You know the protocols as well as I do. If it happens, I have to inform the Coalition. If the Coalition gets involved…”

“Then all hell breaks loose. Listen, did you by chance get photos of them?”

“Yes. I’ve already sent them to you.”

I got off the desk and headed to the computer to bring up my email. Opening the attachments, my stomach dropped. One of the photos was of the woman I had slept with last night. The one that I was allowing to stay in my hotel room.

Fucking hell!

Swallowing thickly, “Thank you for letting me know, Commander. I’ll find some way to get it to the de Pakstoka.”

“Oh, thank god! I did not want to have that conversation with her.”

I smiled at his fear, “I’ve still got a few contacts that I can reach out to. No worries. I’ll take care of it.”

“Thank you. That’s all I wanted to let you know.”

“Sure, no problem. I’ll let you know when I’m back in town.”

“Until then, Nyx. Thank you again.”

I hung up the phone and stared at the photos. It’s just my luck that the one woman I pick up at the bar just so happens to be involved with Pack business.

“Dammit,” I said out loud.

“Problems, Boss,” Ben asked as he came down the stairs.

“You have no idea,” I said and pointing to the blonde woman, “This one, Clarke, is the one I slept with last night and have allowed to stay in my hotel room until she leaves. The other two are with her.”

“So, what’s the issue,” he asked as he took a seat.

“Those three came out of Manassas to get information on what to do with the pack members they captured.”

“Oh, shit.”

“No fucking kidding. I don’t think they’ve realized the mess they’ve created. Or that they even know who they’ve captured.”

“You need to haul ass out there before something happens.”

“Unfortunately, I can’t. Not with the Coalition case open. I can take care of the assassination tonight, no problem. But, it’s going to take time and I’m apparently running out of it.”

“Well, I might have something that may help you with the information gathering. If it works, you won’t have to enter the building.”

That perked me right up, “Ooh, new toys?”

He smiled at my eagerness, “Yes, new toys.”

He got up and went over to his tech corner. He came back with a drone and several small round balls. I looked at him funny, but he just smiled.

“Just wait,” he said as he put the balls on his desk and flipped the drone over.

He gently pried open doors that he had built into the drone’s middle.

“I’ve customized this drone to serve as a bomber,” he explained. “when these balls are inserted, we can fly over any area and drop them.”

“Okay, that’s cool, but the balls?”

He put the drone down and picked up one of the balls. He pressed down on one side and legs sprang out. He handed it to me and I examined it. There were a series of small holes bunched together like you would see on a small speaker.

I looked over at him and asked, “A microphone?”

“Yes, and this one,” he said as he activated a second one, “is a camera. They are designed to search out hidden areas that are hard targets of where you would usually place bugs. They do it themselves and hide in prime spots to record. They don’t have to be controlled and when they’re deactivated, they go poof and there’s no evidence left behind except for specks of dust.”

“Oh, this is excellent, Ben. You’ve outdone yourself once again.”

He beamed at my compliment and taking the bug out of my hand demonstrated exactly what he meant. In the palm of his hand there was nothing more than a few specks of dust that could easily be mistaken for common dust.

“Now I don’t have to worry about trying to get into that building to plant them myself,” I said in relief.

He nodded, “That’s the whole point. It keeps you safe, or safer, and still gets the job done.”

“Do you think that you can set this up tonight, while I take care of the other job?”

He nodded eagerly, “Most def. How are we handling this job, anyway?”

“The Coalition wants information, so we’ll give them that. We’ll send the info that your bugs gather to our secondary server. Once it’s there, I’ll send our contact the link and he can sift through all of it. We’ll keep doing that until they tell us to stop and wait for the final execution.”

“Oh, that’s good. That way you don’t have to constantly monitor the building. All we have to do is keep an eye out for one of them to go poof.”

“And if we lose a large number at once, we’ll know we’ve been compromised.”

He clapped his hands, bringing our attention from the new toys. He smiled and handed me a printout. Looking down at it, I saw that it was my targets itinerary for this evening. He also handed me a tablet that had the layout of the places she’d be.

“Thanks, Ben,” I said as I looked up from the tablet. “You are so good to me. I don’t think I’d be half as good, if it weren’t for you.”

“Th-thanks, Nyx. It means a lot coming from you,” he stammered, blushing.

“You’re the best damn techno mage I’ve ever come across, and there have been many,” I said with a wolfish grin. “I only dish it out when someone deserves it. You know that, right?”

He nodded, “I do, I just like hearing you say it.”

I laughed, “You’re a fisher, Ben. Pure and simple. Since I’ve got a couple of hours to kill, I am going to take a nap.”

“Alright,” he said. “I’ve still got a few things here to do and then I’ll head over to the building and plant the bugs.”

I nodded, “Just be safe. I don’t want to lose you.”

“I promise, I’ll be good.”

I wagged a finger at him and replied, “You better be.”

I walked up the stairs with his laughter following me.

As I walked into my bedroom, my thoughts turned to the other issue at hand. Clarke. The woman who was stirring up a hornet’s nest in Lexa’s own backyard. The woman who had also been invading my thoughts most of the day. I didn’t know what to make of it. On one hand, there was something about her that just drew me to her, like a magnetic pull almost. On the other, she and her people had invaded my home turf, albeit a home I’d never thought I’d return to, but still.

Then there was the other elephant in the room, Lexa. The woman who had once held my heart in her hands. The woman that I had wanted to spend the rest of my life with. The one who I was going to marry and serve alongside. It was bittersweet knowing that I’d see her again. Be around her again. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle it.

I was starting to stress, and the wolf wanted to come out and deal with it in typical fashion, but I quashed it down. Now was not the time to lose it. Ignoring impulses to find alternative ways to de-stress, I forced myself to sleep. The nightmares that ensued only left me tired and pissed off when I woke up a few hours later.

I walked down into the kitchen to make myself something to eat before I headed out. I took my sandwich and a beer down into the office and over to my little toy box. I stared at the box for a few minutes while eating as I decided how best to get the job done. I recalled that on her itinerary that she would be speaking at a fundraiser that was open to the public. That was probably my best window to get the job done without alerting everyone. Putting the beer down, I opened the drawer marked poisons and looked for one that was quick acting and undetectable. It was one of the perks of living in a post-apocalyptic world, the plants. Seemingly innocuous plants that had mutated to some of the most poisonous plant species in the world. I took out a vial, syringe, and an ampule.

I finished the sandwich and got down to business. This was a very deadly poison that I was planning on using. Once injected, you had maybe a minute before it killed you, making it look like the person had collapsed and died of heart failure. The downside was that it didn’t necessarily have to be injected, it was capable of being absorbed into the skin and then killing you. I put on gloves and carefully injected it into the ampule. When it was full, I wiped it down and burned the rag and the syringe. Even lingering traces were lethal. Satisfied, I finished my beer and went back up to change.

Ready to head out, I grabbed the ampule and headed to the fundraiser in my rally. Lucky for me, rally cars were a common vehicle being driven by most of the residents in our small city. There was just too much debris to risk a normal car. I pulled up to the venue and a valet opened the door for me. I stepped out in a low cut, split leg, open back, full length with a small train, blood red dress. As I walked up the stairs, I turned many heads and I heard low whistles of appreciation. The tattoos didn’t turn off any of their small palpitations of desire. I felt the wolf inhale the luxurious scent and wallow in it. I chuckled to myself as I entered the building. It was one of a few art museums that had survived and that included all of the art work.

The reason for the fundraiser was a tried and true attempt to drum up funds for restoration. Old Towne wouldn’t see a dime of it. The money went straight to D.C. to restore the historical monuments that celebrated and mourned our past. The Coalition was bent on creating its kingdom and damn every other city or town that was rebuilding themselves up from the ashes.

Taking a glass of champagne from a server, I wandered aimlessly looking at the pieces on display as I kept a weather eye out for my target. I found her speaking with several Ambassadors animatedly. Moving closer, my eyes were drawn to a sculpture of the Capitoline Wolf. It was a beautiful piece of her sitting with the twins taking nourishment. It was rumored that they were the first weres to appear.

As I stood there looking at it, I felt someone come up behind me.

“La Lupa con Romolo e Remo, sculpted by Francesco Biggi and Domenico Parodi. Perhaps one of the greatest interpretations of the Capitoline Wolf Myth,” a woman’s melodic voice spoke from behind me.

I turned to address the speaker to find none other than my target.

I smiled politely and said, “I have to agree with you, Madam Ambassador. The original bronze statues are pale in comparison. I believe that Biggi and Parodi captured the true essence of the story.”

“If the legends are true, they were the first,” she said inclining her head.

“Yes, if the legends are to be believed. Unfortunately, the story is considered myth and there were no records to indicate otherwise. If there were, they were most likely destroyed by the humans of the time.”

“That is most unfortunate, indeed,” she replied. “I did not realize that the Forest Pack ventured outside their territory.”

I smiled, “They do not. I am no longer a pack member.”

“I am sad to hear that, young lady. May I ask why you have not applied for membership to another pack. I know that there would be plenty of offers to bring you into the fold. Your power radiates from your personage.”

I inclined my head, “Thank you, but unfortunately the de Pakstoka blacklisted me so that no other pack would think of accepting me.”

“Was the nature of your crime so horrible to call for such punishment?”

“She felt it was.”

“Then she threw away her best asset. The Coalition often looks for individuals such as yourself. Have you ever thought of inquiring with them?”

“I have. They accepted my offer, but I work for them as an independent contractor.”

“So, is this a business jaunt or personal?”

“Madam Ambassador, this is personal. I felt it was my time to donate and at the same time enjoy the beautiful works on display. It is not often that I get to enjoy beauty where it may be found,” I flirted.

She blushed at the compliment and asked, “Will you be staying long?”

I gave her a flirtatious smile, “Only if there is more beauty to be discovered.”

There was a cough turning our attention to a man that had kept his distance while we had been conversing.

She looked at him and asked, “Yes, Justin?”

“Madam Ambassador, there is a representative from the British Isle Pack that wishes to speak with you.”

She sighed, “Very well.” Turning back to me, she said, “Thank you for this respite. I hope to see you admiring the beauty in these walls.”

I inclined my head and replied, “I will. There is a certain allure that I feel requires further attention. It was a pleasure and honor to speak with you, Madam Ambassador.”

“The pleasure and honor is all mine. Enjoy the rest of your evening,” she said and followed Justin.

I finished my champagne and exchanged my empty flute for a full one. I continued my walk around the museum, occasionally speaking with another patron as I continued to watch her. She would on occasion look around and smiled whenever she caught a glance of me. I purposefully walked seductively always within her eyesight.

Finally, the opportunity presented itself as her detail stepped away and I began to approach her. Passing her, I ran my hand with the ampule caressing her backside and surreptitiously injected the poison. She looked at me in surprise and I smiled and continued on my way. Passing her detail, I used my telepathy to make them forget I was ever there conversing with her just an hour ago. Nearing the exit, I heard a collective gasp and turned to see what caused it. The Ambassador lay on the floor, dead. My work was done, and I left.

As I waited for my rally, I knew that Ben would already be working on removing any video evidence of me. I also knew that I wouldn’t need to contact my client letting them know that the job was complete. They would receive the news soon enough and my fee would be in my account by morning.

Walking into the office I didn’t see Ben, but the monitors showed the interior of the building and audio could be heard softly. He had completed his side of the job and I mentally congratulated him for a job well done.

I slipped off my shoes and holding my dress up, climbed the stairs to my room. Hanging the dress up, I crawled into bed, nude, and fell asleep quickly.

Chapter Text

Walking into the room, I began to pace as thoughts raced through my mind. Bell and O took up residence in the armchairs as they watched me.

“Well, this just got more difficult,” Octavia said.

I looked at her as I continued my pacing, “Hopefully, we can still end this peacefully.”

“Clarke, we need to head home now,” Bellamy said.

I glanced at the sky and replied, “It’s too late to head back, Bell. We’ll leave first thing in the morning. Based on what the Commander told us, the area is rife with patrols. If we leave now, we might not make it back.”

“We can make it back, just like we were able to come here. We were able to avoid their patrols.”

I stopped and looked hard at him, “Again, if this de Pakstoka is aware of the disappearance of her people, she has probably increased the number of patrols. They know the terrain better than we do. It’s too much of a risk to travel at night.”

“Alright. We’ll do it your way.”

“Thank you,” I said and continued my pacing.

“Dear God, Clarke, can you just quit with the pacing. What’s got you worried,” Octavia asked.

I sat down on the couch and looked down at my hands, twisting my shirt with them, “I, um, remembered who I slept with last night.”

“And…”

I handed her the card and her eyes widened in surprise. She looked at me and asked, “You slept with her? The name on the card?”

“Um, yeah?”

Bellamy took the card from her, looked at it, and asked, “You slept with someone that is an Enforcer? What in hell is an Enforcer?”

“I don’t know, and I did not know what she did for a living. We didn’t go into much detail about one another, I swear!”

“So, what’s so special about her,” he asked pocketing the card.

“She’s the one the Commander told us about,” Octavia explained. “The one who might be able to get us in contact with their leader.”

“So, why don’t we give her a call and see if she can do it? I mean, Clarke’s already made a connection with her if this room is any indication.”

“We can’t,” I said crestfallen. “She’s not taking on any new cases.”

“Couldn’t you at least try and convince her?”

“Absolutely not,” I said with conviction. “For one thing, I don’t know her well enough to ask and for another, I think I was a one night stand for her. I won’t ever see her again.”

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Even though you were just a booty call, it doesn’t hurt to try.”

I glared at him for his comment, but I sighed in resignation, “You’re right. It wouldn’t hurt to try.”

He handed me back the card and we huddled around the phone. Luckily, it had a speaker, so that we could all listen. I nervously dialed the number and we waited. On the third ring it connected, and an automated message played apologizing for not being able to take any new cases for the foreseeable future. I hung up the phone, feeling dejected. Our only hope of ending this, couldn’t.

“Well, that sucked,” Octavia said as she plopped back onto the chair. “It looks like we’re on our own.”

A weird thought occurred to me and I asked Octavia, “Didn’t the Commander call the area ‘Forest Pack Territory,’ O?”

“Yeah, why,” she answered.

“Don’t you think it’s weird that he said the word pack? Shouldn’t he have just called it the Forest Territory or something like that?”

She thought about it a minute and then sat up in her chair, “You’re right. What did he mean by that? Pack. Don’t you usually refer to a group of animals a pack?”

“Like, wolves,” Bellamy suddenly said, sitting up abruptly. “You call a group of wolves a pack.”

“Oh, crap,” I said with fear. “Those wolves that were with the men…”

“Could be part of the pack he was referring to. And the men could be their handlers or something. We’re in deep shit.”

“Maybe not,” I said thinking. “What if we just let them go?”

“We can’t, Clarke,” Bellamy said. “If we do, they’ll just come back with reinforcements. The prisoners have seen the inside, they’ll know our vulnerabilities.”

“But…”

“No, but’s, Clarke. They stay our prisoners until we can negotiate peace with their leader. It’s the only chance to make sure our people stay alive.”

I sunk back into the couch, feeling hopeless and helpless. I wasn’t sure we’d come out of this unscathed.

 

When dawn appeared over the city, we made our way back to our vehicle. The staff had given us packs of food and wished us well on our travels. We sighed in relief as we left the city limits. We took the exact same path we’d traveled to get to the city. We slowed as we entered the forest, keeping an eye out for anything or anybody, but we encountered none.

Nearing Manassas and the area we had cordoned off as our own, we radioed Raven for her to bring down the shield. Between her and Monty, our camp was as secure as could be. Nothing could enter and unfortunately, nothing to get out. But it was something that I was absolutely grateful for now that we knew the extent of our situation.

Pulling into the garage, we were surrounded by a crowd. As we got out, everyone started talking at once, demanding to know what was going on and asking if we were safe.

Bellamy climbed onto the hood of the truck and held out his hands for silence.

When he got it, he began speaking, “Everybody calm down. To answer the more important question; yes, we are safe. Raven’s shield is working. Nobody can get in here. As to what’s going on; I can’t answer that question, yet. We need to convene the Council and once a decision has been made, we’ll make an announcement. So please, let us get our job done and you get back to yours. We have a lot of work to do if we want to make sure we can make it through winter.”

The crowd murmured their assent and started dispersing, letting us get back to it. Raven and Monty joined us as we walked to the Council Room. When the door closed behind us, they started with the questions.

“What were you able to find,” Raven asked as she sat down at the table.

Everyone joined her, and Bellamy answered, “Some answers, but a lot more questions.”

“What do you mean,” Monty asked.

“We were able to get answers on whose land we’re on and the name of their leader. The Garrison Commander in Old Towne said that we’re in the middle of a territory belonging to the Forest Pack. We’re not sure what he’s referring to, but we believe that it refers to the wolves. Their leader is called de Pakstoka, but we didn’t get a name. The biggest news is that he can’t help us. His jurisdiction ends at the city limits.”

“Was he able to provide us with any help at all,” Raven asked with a frown.

“Not really. He gave us a card with the name of a freelance Enforcer that may have some contacts that could get us a meeting with their leader. Unfortunately, she’s unavailable and out of contact for the time being,” I answered.

“What’s an Enforcer?”

I shook my head and said, “We’re not sure. By the name, it implies that they enforce something; laws maybe? We were afraid to ask too many questions. The people we encountered were beginning to become suspicious.”

“Understandable,” she said nodding. “You said that you have more questions than answers. What do you mean?”

“The people are strange,” Octavia took up the answering. “They completely ignored Bellamy and treated him like he was insignificant. He would ask questions and would be completely ignored, but when I asked the questions, they immediately answered. It’s how we got a meeting with the Garrison Commander. They would only respond to either me or Clarke.”

“That is weird,” Monty replied. “Maybe they have a matriarchal society?”

I shook my head, “No, I don’t think so. The Commander was a guy and he didn’t act like he was submissive with us. At least not overtly.”

“Explain.”

“This is the really weird part,” Octavia said. “The people I talked with acted submissive, like there was something about me that made me more intimidating then Bellamy. I had people even run across the street to avoid me.”

“Even I had weirdness,” I said. “Whenever I accidentally came into contact with someone, they would shiver in pleasure and thank me for the contact. I have no clue as to why?”

“Pleasurable contact? And you weren’t flirting or anything?”

“No. It was passing contact when I bumped into them.”

“Strange, indeed. We’ll have to look into that further at some point,” he said thoughtfully.

“So, what do we do now,” Raven asked, worried.

“We can’t let them go and we can’t reach out to their leader. We don’t even know where she is,” Bellamy replied.

“So, we have nothing to give to our people,” she said dejected.

The three of us shook our head, all of us feeling dejected.

“I don’t know,” Bellamy said. “We’re going to need to stall them. I just don’t know how long we’ll be able to hold off their questions.”

Changing the subject, I asked, “How are the adults holding up?”

Raven’s demeanor saddened even more as she answered, “We lost five more while you’re gone. That’s 75 now.”

“And our resident chemist hasn’t figured out was in those canisters,” Bellamy asked.

“He knows what was in the canisters, but some of the chemicals have never been seen before. He says they appear to have a genetic similarity to plants that were common in this region before the nuclear strike, but it’s a slim similarity. There wasn’t enough residue to give him a ratio and since we don’t have the manpower to go looking, we have no cure,” Monty answered.

“My mom,” I asked fearfully.

“Still hanging in there as are the rest of the Council Members,” Raven said. “But it’s odd that no one under the age of 30 were affected by the gas.”

“It is,” I replied, “We can add that to the list of questions for their leader when or if we can talk to her.”

“Is there anything else that we need to address,” Bellamy asked, already wanting to leave.

“The only thing of note is that there haven’t been any more sighting of men and wolves in the last two weeks,” Raven said.

“At least we have one good thing going for us,” he said as he stood up. “Meeting adjourned, I guess.”

We all got out and went our separate ways. I made a bee line to the hospital wing in the bunker. Before I entered the double doors, I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, steeling myself for what I was about to encounter. Nearly 200 of our adult population had been infected by whatever was in those canisters that had been launched three weeks after we had resurfaced and that was when we had begun to capture the groups.

I opened one of the doors and without looking around, I zoomed in on my mother’s bed. Walking quickly, I made it without making any eye contact with the other patients. I sat on the edge of bed and took her hand in mine.

“Mom,” I whispered. “Mom, I’m back.”

Her eyelids fluttered, and she turned towards my voice. Pushing back a sob as I looked into my mother’s unseeing ones, broke my heart.

“Clarke, honey, is that you,” she asked, her voice trembling with fatigue.

“Yeah, Mom. It’s me. We just got back from the nearest city.”

“Oh, you shouldn’t have had to do that, sweetheart.”

“I know, Mom. It had to be done, though.”

“Did you find help,” she asked, her voice tinged with hope.

I shook my head as a tear rolled down my cheek, “No Mom, we didn’t. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be, Clarke. We had to try.”

“Mom, there’s still hope. We found out that we’re in the middle of someone’s territory. They have a leader that we may be able to get some answers from.”

“But you’re not sure.”

“No,” I said sadly. “We know her name, but we don’t know where their base is, nor do we have a way to get ahold of her.”

“And we can’t let the prisoners go either.”

“No.”

“Oh, sweetheart. You shouldn’t have to carry this burden on your shoulders. Not like this. Not ever.”

“I know, but there is no one else. We’re trying our hardest to get us out of this, but I’m scared, Mom. So is everyone. We don’t know what to tell them.”

“Just tell them there’s still hope. If you keep telling them enough times, they’ll start to believe it.”

I saw Mom start deflating from fatigue and I knew our conversation had to end.

“Mom, get some rest. I’ll come visit again soon, okay?”

“Okay, Clarke. I love you,” she said as her eyes drooped closed.

“I love you, too,” I said and leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek.

With tears running down my face, I pushed quickly through the double doors and headed for the sunlight.

Chapter Text

It’d been four days since we’d set up the surveillance and I was starting to get bored. Even my trips to the bar had given me no escape from the doldrum. What sucked even more, was that I couldn’t shift and take a run. Not within the city limits and I was going to be damned if I had to drive to the limits just to run for maybe an hour. So, I sat at my desk, tossing a knife in the air and catching it as Ben monitored the screens.

“Hey, Boss,” he said suddenly, and I yelped as I nearly skewered my hand. “You’ve got to come see this.”

I got up, glaring at him, and walked over. He pointed to a screen and my eyes widened.

“You have got to be shitting me. Are those…,” I said looking closer.

“Yeah, bears,” he replied. “And by the looks of it, northern black bears. You can tell by the white streaks along the back of their heads.”

“Ice Pack,” I said bitterly. “No wonder the Coalition wants info. They must not have gotten permission to move here.”

“Why would the Coalition be bothered by this,” Ben asked.

“Because this brings them much closer to Lexa. If they start something with her, this entire area will become a war zone. Too many deaths will hang over the Coalition’s head if it happens.”

“And the Coalition does not want to lose its power.”

“Exactly. But this presents another problem for me. If I go anywhere near that building, they’ll be able to sniff me out. Can’t hide a wolf in a sleuth.”

“Crap, that means you have to pay her a visit, doesn’t it?”

I wrinkled my nose in disgust and replied, “Yes. I’ll have to go see her, but I’m not going to see her until I’m told otherwise.”

“Why can’t the Coalition ever give us an easy one,” he complained.

“Because they wait until the last minute before rectifying a situation that is called to their attention. This is the closest thing to easy as we’re ever going to get from them.”

Chapter Text

Five days later, I finally get the call to pull the plug on the bugs. My contact’s gotten all the information they needed, and I was given permission to finish the job.

“Finally,” I said as I hung up.

“They’re letting you finish?”

“Yes, and now…”

“Now, you have to go and visit the frikdreina.”

“Yeah,” I said, my mood plummeting. “Ugh, I hope she doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg to get that potion.”

“You never know, maybe you’ll catch her on a good day?”

“Ha! As if she ever has a good day. I just hate having to deal with her and her pet human. They make me sick just watching them gush over one another.”

He shuddered alongside me and said, “I’m glad it’s you and not me that needs to go.”

I glared at him and he just laughed. Laughed me all the up the stairs and out the door.

I grumbled all the way to her place across town. She lived in an even worse side of town then I did, but mine was by choice not her’s. Stepping off my bike, I gave myself a mental shake and started walking up towards her very old, very decrepit Victorian. I couldn’t understand how a mostly wood structure could have survived the shockwave of the nuclear blast. As I walked up the steps, it felt like I was walking to my doom and not purchasing a scent changing spell. I would have loved if I could have gone to any of the other witches in the city, but she was the best and I only went to the best.

As my foot touched the porch, the front door opened, and her human leaned against the doorframe. I snarled as I saw him, looking like he owned the world. He smirked at me and then stood aside to let me pass. I fought the urge to recoil from being so near him as I walked into the sitting room. Not saying a word, he left to go get the witch. I walked over to the fireplace and wondered exactly how much power it would take to burn this place to the ground.

“It’s been a long time, Enforcer,” she said from behind me.

I turned around and replied, “Not long enough for me.”

She smiled sweetly as she draped herself on the settee, “What is it that brings you to my humble abode?”

“I need to hide my scent from northern bears,” I replied evenly.

Her eyes widened in interest, “Do you indeed?”

I nodded curtly, “And I need it tonight.”

“Of course, you do,” she said as she got up. “Always so busy our Enforcer is. Trying to make up for being packless. Trying to make up for the deaths of those innocents by adding more death to your hands. I wonder how much death your hands can hold, Nyx.”

I seethed as she ran her hand across my chest and circled around me. I heard her inhale deeply as she breathed me in.

“So much anger. So much pain. So much heartbreak. There is just so much that rolls off of you, my sweet Nyx. I could take that all away as quick as a blink. You know I could,” she whispered in my ear.

I growled low and she backed away laughing.

“Ah, but you have no interest in letting all that go,” she said. “Come.”

She waved her hand to follow and I did. We walked back into her workshop and she sifted through vials along her floor to ceiling shelves mumbling to herself. She stopped and plucked a vial from the back shelf. Turning, she walked back over and held it out to me.

“One vial of northern black bear scent,” she said.

“What do you want for it,” I asked.

She pouted as she faked thinking about it, “How about a recipe book from one of the Ice Pack’s mages.”

I looked at her suspiciously and said, “And why would I do that? I have no interest in the Ice Pack.”

She laughed again and said, “My dear, everyone knows that the Ice Pack has taken residence in our beloved city. There are no secrets here. A recipe book from one of their mages is the price. Do you accept.”

I growled, but said, “Fine. One Ice Pack mage recipe book for one vial of northern black bear scent.”

“Ah, not quite, my dear.”

I breathed through my nose and said, “What else do you want?”

“I want two of your fire bombs as well.”

I knew better than to ask, so instead I asked, “Metal or Earth?”

She placed her mutated hand on her chin as she thought and then her eyes brightened, “One of each. Yes, one of each.”

“Done. How long of a delay do you want?”

“Oh, two minutes will be plenty of time, don’t you think?”

I shrugged, “I suppose as long as you swear not to try and take out my bar, home, or hotel, we have a deal. Two fire bombs and a recipe book.”

She held out the vial and I took it from her. I looked at it and then pocketed it in my jacket.

“I’m sure I don’t need to remind you, but I will anyway. If you shift the scent will disperse and they’ll know you’re there.”

I nodded, “The bombs will be on your doorstep tomorrow. The recipe book will follow as soon as I’m done.”

She nodded nearly clapping with glee, “It was a pleasure doing business with you, as always.”

“Whatever, Emori,” I said as I turned to walk out of her house. “I suggest you teach your human better manners. Not everyone likes a cocky human.”

“John’s cock is just fine the way it is, Nyx. It’s too bad, you’ll never know the feeling,” she said from the doorway.

“As if I’d ever consort with a human,” I mumbled as I climbed on my bike. I revved the engine and peeled away from her, her human, and that house.

I immediately walked up the stairs to my bathroom and stripped the clothes off. I burned them to remove any trace evidence of coming into contact with that place and her, then threw them into the laundry hamper. Turning the shower on until it was scalding hot, I washed every last trace from my body until I was boiling red and nearly scrubbed raw.

Stepping out, I dried myself quickly and got dressed. Braiding my still wet hair I walked back down into the office and over to my work bench. Grabbing a pound of red clay and about a half a pound of scrap metal, I got to work on creating the bombs. I could have made them just from the air itself, but it took more energy then I wanted to spend. I still had to make bombs when I entered the Ice Pack building. The bombs slowly took shape and because she didn’t specify the size, I made them big enough to impress. When they were made, I infused fire into the hollows until there was enough that it would blow big and bright but wouldn’t cause so much damage that it wouldn’t be repairable. As the finishing touch I put the rune that was needed to activate the bombs and giving it a two minute delay.

Done, I wiped my hands clean and pulled out two wooden boxes. They already had the packaging material inside them, so all I had to do was wrap the bombs, make sure that the runes were upward and closed the lids. I wrapped the boxes up in packaging paper and wrote on the delivery slip where they were to go. Going over to my laptop, I logged into my account with the delivery service and set it to pick up and drop off in the morning.

Glad to be done with that bit of dirty work, I pulled my chair over to the monitors and sat next to Ben.

“What have you got for me,” I asked as I looked at the screens.

He froze one of them and pointed, “This is the main entrance. That should be your last spot to hit before you vacate the premises. They’ve got a five car garage here,” changing the image, “five bay doors and two plain doors. All metallic.” Changing the view to one of the house, “Here, there are six entrances that lead in and out of the building. One’s a basement down those steps. The rest are ground level. Two on either long side and one on the east side, next to the stairs leading to the basement. There’s three fire escapes and an entrance on the roof. I don’t know if you want to extend your power all the way up there, but it’s a possible escape route.”

I nodded as he pulled up the schematics of the interior of the building.

“These are the load bearing pillars where you need to place the bombs. Taking them out will make the building start to collapse. Here and here is where you want to load up some more to make sure that the entire building collapses in on itself.”

“Entrance and exit,” I asked.

He switched to a video feed and zoomed in on the northeastern portion of the surrounding wall.

“This is the easiest in and out of there. Very little security and no video feed. It’ll be easy enough for me to scramble their feed inside the building, so you won’t have to worry about there being evidence of you walking around.”

“Good work, Ben,” I said clapping him on the back. “Nicely planned out.”

“Thank you, but there is a downside. There isn’t a lot of ground cover for you to move through. You’re going to have to stay low.”

I grimaced, “I know, and I can’t shift while I’m there. If I do, the potion loses its potency. I’ll smell like a wolf.”

He looked over at me and with an encouraging smile and said, “I know you’ll figure it out. You always do.”

“Thank you for having such faith in me, Ben. You’re my best friend,” I replied and hugged him.

I stood up and stretched, “I better get to making more bombs. Luckily, I’ve got enough material, that I won’t have to strain too much, leaving me with enough energy to replenish myself completely by tomorrow night.”

“Then I’ll leave you to it and call it a night,” he said, standing up.

“All right, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

When he left, I headed back to my work bench. Laying a whole lot of scrap metal on the bench, I held my hands out over it and began to manipulate the material into bombs. When I was done I set them aside and worked on the earthen bombs. I had sweat traveling down my back when I was finally done, and exhaustion was creeping up on me. With a sigh, I headed back to my room and collapsed on my bed, asleep before my head hit the pillow.

When I woke up late afternoon of the next day, I filled the bombs with fire and set the runes with a 10 minute delay. I wasn’t worried too much about my fire power because I wouldn’t really be using it. Each power had its own strength level and my metal was back to full strength as was my earth.

Once everything was completed, I packed them all up in my bag of tricks, as I liked to call my duffle, and went in search of food. Ben had the forethought to go grocery shopping and I whipped up a very large meal. I knew I’d need the energy and stayed away from the very tempting beer. Stuffing my mouth with food, I fed not only myself, but my wolf as well. I’d need as much strength as I could to pull this off tonight.

A quarter past nine and we were weaving through the streets heading to the Ice Pack’s building. Ben had created a stealth mode on his buggy and turned it on as soon as we were a block away. He turned into the woods that surrounded the wall and I climbed out. Wearing tight black clothing, I pulled a full baklava over my head and jumped up on the wall. I straddled the wall and waited for Ben to toss the bag up to me. I lowered it on the other side and with a salute I was over the wall and making my way to the garage.

When I came to the garage, I placed my hands on the wall and closed my eyes. I encountered five lifeforms and grabbing them with my mind, I forced them asleep. When their minds were asleep, I crept into the garage and planted bombs on the underside of two vehicles, near the gas tanks. Crawling out, I left and once more placed my hands on the wall. This time I sent my metal power out and melted the doors and bays shut.

Scouting around the edge of the building, I paused and watched the patrols as they walked by. The potion that Emori had given me was working, their noses not even twitching. I scurried to the building and walked into the basement. I went to the door that lead into the building and melted it shut. I didn’t want anyone to interrupt me. I placed the bombs on all the load bearing pillars and headed straight to the wall that held the servers to place the last of them.

I pressed the comms in my ear and whispered, “Ben, did you by chance siphon the information on the servers down here?”

“No. I didn’t think to do that,” he replied. “I’ll do it now and wipe them clean.”

“Good man. The last of the bombs have been placed. I’m heading back now.”

“Copy that.”

I released the comms and knelt down, placing my hands on the concrete. Closing my eyes, I concentrated on feeling for every last bit of metal in the building. There was a lot. I took a deep breath and starting at the roof, began meticulously melting every door, every window shut. It was slow work and as I neared the bottom floor, I could feel that I was nearing the bottom of the well. I pushed myself harder as beads of sweat were absorbed into my clothing. The last bit of energy, I sent out to the fire escapes and melted them, leaving them looking like normal, but if anybody put any weight on them, it would all come crashing down. Finally done, I left out of the door and then melted it as well.

For insurance, I created earthen bombs and I scattered them around the grounds. I wanted to cause as much chaos as I could. I heard a loud crash coming from the main entrance and turned looking back. More cars had entered the area and people were spilling out as windows were being smashed and people began jumping out of them. I was out of time. I sent out a telekinetic pulse activating every bomb in the place and ran for the wall.

A shout behind me told me all I needed to know. I’d been spotting and could hear the men shouting behind me and then silence except for pounding feet. I glanced behind me and could see them catching up. All pretense of stealth left me, and I told Ben to meet me by the gate. I shifted and ran right into them. Sliding and dodging through them as I avoided their teeth and claws, I ignited the cluster bombs as I passed. Screams echoed behind me as I ran for the entrance. I was side tackled by something as I came across the first vehicle. I landed with a solid thunk and got up and ran again. I was tackled once more, and I felt teeth along my ribs. A yelp escaped my mouth as I fought my attacker off. I wheeled around and faced another wolf. We growled and then launched ourselves at each other. We nipped, swiped, bit, kicked each other bloody. I finally had an advantage and as I went in for the kill, she somehow maneuvered herself and was able to plant her hind legs on my chest. With a mighty heave she threw me off and I landed several feet away hard. I got up on shaky legs and shook my head to clear it. It was just a moment, but that was all it took for her to bring me down. I howled in pain as she raked her claws along my backside trying to get a grip on me. I writhed trying to throw her off, but I was feeling the exhaustion from using my metal, that I could hardly stand. But I had to fight, I had to get this bitch off of me and end her. With the last of my energy, I heaved her off of me and opened the earth beneath her. She fell in and I ran to Ben and his buggy. I made it through and shut the gate, melting it using the last of that well and more. I stopped briefly and closing my eyes, I opened the earth and rained fire on the entire place. Screams of fear and death brought me back to the present and I closed the earth, leaving no trace. I crawled to the buggy, still in wolf form, and heaved myself in. Ben took off and I lost consciousness.

I woke up two and half days later, still in wolf form and wrapped in bandages. I shifted, and I moaned at the pain. The door opened, and Ben walked quickly over to me.

He kneeled by my head and stroked me. I closed my eyes as I felt the comforting touch. When I opened them again, he smiled.

“God, Nyx. You scared my heart to death. You were bleeding so much and I couldn’t wake you. You were in a bad way and I had to call in a healer. He patched you up and we brought you up here.”

I wuffled in reply and he laughed.

“The Coalition contacted us congratulating on a job well done, though they were curious as to why some of them were nearly neck deep in the ground while others were burnt to a crisp. I lied and said that you’d hired an earth mage just in case things got hairy. I also told them that you paid for him yourself already. They paid us more than we had agreed on and on top of that, paid for the healer. So, all in all, it was a clean job.”

I whined a bit and shifted in bed, catching his attention.

“That’s another thing. The healer doesn’t want you to shift for another day. The injuries were life threatening. He doesn’t even want you to try and move.”

I growled in frustration and he stroked me behind the ears, “I know you don’t like it, but you’ve gotta stay still and let your body heal. And to do that, I’m afraid I’m going to have to tranq you.”

I narrowed my eyes at him, but he resolutely brought out the syringe and injected me with a tranquilizer. He continued to stroke me until I passed out again.

Another day later and I was awake again and in significantly less pain. I shifted and found myself quite naked. I sat up gingerly, the bandages falling off of me. I got up and walked over to my closet door that held my full length mirror. Looking at myself, I saw numerous bruises that were already turning pale yellow and nearly healed scratches and tears along the entire length of my torso and back. Scratch’s ran up and down my arms and legs. There was a nasty bite on my hip. That bitch had fucking marked me. Growling in anger, I prayed I had opened a big enough hole for her to die in.

Sighing I went and took a long shower, letting the hot water ease the tension in my muscles and soothe the pain away. I brushed my hair out, untangling it and left it loose around my shoulders. Dressing carefully, I walked down the stairs and continued my way down into the office. I found Ben packing up our gear, getting it ready for the trip to Clifton.

“Hey, Ben,” I said as I went and sat at my desk.

He spun around and smiled see me there.

“How ya feelin’, boss,” he said as he left what he was doing and came up to the desk and sitting in the chair opposite me.

“Like shit and carnivorous,” I answered. “I’m starving like I haven’t eaten in a week.”

He chuckled, “It’s nearly been that long since you ate. Let me go upstairs and make you something. I’ll only lightly sear the steaks and bring everything down here.”

“Thanks, you’re the best,” I said as I laid my head on the desk, pillowed by my arms.

He got up and headed up to the kitchen. Listening, I heard him fire up the grill on the stove and begin humming as he put together whatever he was planning on making. I smiled at his kindness. I really had been lucky finding him.

The phone rang, and I looked at the number. I didn’t recognize the number, but the area code was Clifton’s.

Answering, “Hello.”

Gustus’s voice came through, “Did you finish your jobs?”

“Yes. The last job nearly killed me. I’ve been out of commission for the last three days. Give me another day and we’ll be on the road the morning of the next.”

“We?”

“Yes, we. I’m going to need Ben’s help on this one. When I left, you didn’t have very strong techno mages. He’s the best and you can be damn sure that he’s helping. No argument.”

He grumbled, “Fine. How many vehicles?”

“Two. Heavily customized dirt bike and armored vehicle.”

“I’ll make sure that the border patrols know to expect you the day after next. You’re to report directly to the Mansion. No deviations from the road.”

“Aye, aye, Gustus. I’ll go straight there.”

He grunted and hung up the phone.

I sighed as I hung up the receiver. I hated that man. He was nothing but trouble. I just wish I didn’t have to deal with him at all, but I couldn’t avoid it. As Lexa’s Second, he was going to be my contact.

Ten minutes later, Ben came down the stairs with a heavily laden tray of food. I sat up straight as he laid it on my desk.

“Was that the phone I heard earlier,” he asked.

“It was. Just Gustus making sure we’d make the deadline.”

“Ah,” said as he turned to head back upstairs. “I’m getting you drinks. Healer says you need to replenish everything, including your vitamins and electrolytes.”

“Alright, boss. Whatever you say,” I replied as I dug into the food.

Twenty minutes later the food was gone, including every last bit of grease and crumb that I could find. I stacked the plates and drained the last of the jugs. I leaned back and belched softly, making Ben chuckle. I grinned at him and felt sleep tugging at me.

I got up and said, “I think I’ve spent enough time awake, Ben. I’m heading back to bed.”

He nodded and replied, “I’ll have the gear packed and ready to load up by tonight. When are we leaving?”

“Day after next. I still need to heal, and you need to get some real rest. I don’t want you dropping from exhaustion. It’s a long drive to Clifton.”

“I promise. As soon as I’m done packing, I’ll go to bed. Sweet dreams.”

“Same to you, bud. Good night.”

“Night.”

I got into bed and pulled the covers over me and I felt Lexa through our telepathic link for the first time in eight years. Gustus must have told her that I had been severely injured, and she was checking on me. A small smile curled my lips as I fell asleep.

Chapter Text

It’d been a week since we returned from Old Towne and we saw no more men with wolves. People were starting to relax slightly as the tension eased. We didn’t know what to tell them or to let them know that this was probably a reprieve before things started up again.

I was walking around aimlessly when I heard a howl of pain coming from near the gate. I picked up my pace as I heard it again, followed by laughter. What I saw horrified me and a spark of anger flared. Guards were torturing one of the wolves with the shock collar as one of the men was held back, screaming.

I walked up to them and yanked the control from the hand of the guard.

“What the hell are you thinking,” I yelled at him. “If we kill or hurt one of them, it’ll only cause more problems! If they find out we did this, they will rain holy hell on us! These people revere wolves and you’re torturing one of them in front of the man that is probably its handler!”

“Oh, come on, Octavia,” Monroe said. “We were only just having a bit of fun. We weren’t going to kill it.”

I whirled on her and stared her down, “Fun?! You call this fun?! Are you out of your sick and twisted minds! You were torturing it! You were driving this man to madness!”

“We’re sorry, Octavia,” Harper said, apologetically. “We weren’t thinking.”

“Damn right, you weren’t thinking,” I yelled as I felt an unfamiliar growl travel up and my lips curl into a snarl. “Maybe I should put the shock collars on you and see how you feel after five minutes of being shocked into a stupor.”

I was immediately surprised when Harper and Monroe immediately backed down and for some strange reason bared their necks to me. I looked around me and the prisoners around us were doing the same.

What the fuck?! What the hell is happening?!

Getting my composure back, I said, “Let that man go.”

They immediately let him go and he immediately ran over to the wolf and cradled its head in his lap. His hands fluttered over its body and he looked up at me tears streaming down his face. My heart twisted, and I felt ashamed.

I walked over to him and knelt down and said softly, “Let us take it. We’re going to take it to our medical wing and see how bad it is, okay?”

He gripped the wolf tighter, not wanting to let it go.

“Please,” I pleaded. “I don’t want it to die.”

He looked up at me and something in my face showed that I was being honest. He nodded and with a kiss on its head, he got up and moved away.

“Take the wolf to the medical wing,” I ordered. “And make sure you handle it with the greatest of care. If I find out you mishandled it, it will cost you dearly.

Three of the guards walked over and carefully lifted the wolf and headed to the bunker and medical. I watched them for a moment before turning on Harper and Monroe.

“You two, on me,” I said to them and then walked away.

They followed, not saying a word. We walked into the guard shed and I pulled out two shock collars. Without a word, I placed them around each of their necks and grabbed the remote. They started to back away, terrified, but in this moment, I didn’t care. Without remorse, I flipped the switch and they fell on the ground screaming at the pain of the electricity. It was a small voltage and I had it on for less than 30 seconds. I waited for them to regain control over themselves and squatted in front of them.

“That is what your definition of fun feels like, ladies,” I said with a low growl. “If I hear of any mistreatment of the wolves or the men, everyone who had a hand in this today and the next time it happens will receive the same treatment as you have, and it will be ten times more painful. Am I understood?”

They looked at me with fear and submission in their eyes and nodded. I removed the collars and they ran from the room. I put the collars back up and headed immediately to medical.

I found the doctors huddled around the wolf as they ran a body scanner over it, looking for broken bones, severed nerves, injured organs.

“Is it going to be okay,” I asked as I watched them work.

“We honestly don’t know. Its physiology is different from that of a normal wolf,” one of them said. “Look here, the bones look like they’ve shifted to accommodate a different shape. There’s multiple breaks, but they’ve been constantly broken time and time again. It’s as if the body is used to it. I’ve never seen anything like it. Even the nervous system is different. But, the most interesting find is the brain.”

He brought up the image of its’ brain and started pointing out different areas.

“These parts of the brain are active. Whereas, in a normal wolf there is no activity there. It’s been theorized in the past that those areas of the brain are where telepathy and strange powers lie.”

“But will it live,” I demanded.

“The heart has taken an alarming amount of shock,” he said, looking apologetic. “We’ve already noticed it skipping several beats and it’s slowed down considerably. We don’t know if it’ll make it through the night. I’m sorry.”

I nodded and said, “Do me a favor and find Bellamy and Clarke and ask them to come down here.”

“Of course, Octavia. We’ll leave you alone with the wolf,” he replied, and they filed out of the small room.

I walked and pulled a chair closer to the wolf’s head. It looked at me with pain filled eyes and I felt tears prickling my eyes. I reached out hesitantly, but when it didn’t move, I stroked its head. The fur was surprisingly soft, and it closed its eyes enjoying the feel.

“I’m sorry this happened to you,” I whispered. “They shouldn’t have done that. I punished the girls that started it. I shocked them to show them the pain that you’d felt. I hope I did the right thing.”

It opened its eyes and let out a soft huff. I smiled and leaned in closer. It reached out it’s tongue and licked my nose, making me giggle. The lips pulled back as if it smiled and then it closed its eyes. I watched as it breathed, my hand never leaving it.

Bellamy and Clarke came into the room and stopped just inside.

“Octavia, what do you think you’re doing,” Bellamy demanded, and I heard a soft growl coming from it. I shushed it and it complied. Opening an eye to watch me.

“Some of the guards were torturing it. Shocking it,” I said angrily. “I had it brought down here to have the doctors look it over. I don’t want it to die.”

“No, dying would be a very bad thing,” Clarke said as she stepped closer.

The wolf watched her but didn’t make any noises or move.

“The doctors don’t think it’ll live through the night. Its heart is skipping beats and slowing down,” I said sadly. “I don’t want it to be alone.”

“Why’d you bring us down here,” Bellamy asked, and the wolf growled again.

Clarke and I looked at each other in surprise and Clarke asked, “Bellamy, say something again.”

“Why?”

But that one word was enough, it growled and tried to get up. I pushed it back down and stroked it until it calmed down again.

“I don’t think it likes you,” I said curiously. “It’s like you’re getting the same treatment as you did in the city, but it considers you a threat.”

“You’re joking, right?”

It growled again, louder this time.

I leaned down and whispered, “It’s okay. He’s my brother. I need you to stay calm, okay?”

I leaned back and looked it in the eye. There was a slight nod and it relaxed.

“You know, I’ve noticed something when I’ve walked near the prisoners,” Clarke said.

“What’ve you noticed,” Bellamy asked, and the wolf didn’t respond which surprised Bell.

“When the guards walk past them, they all sneer at them. Some even spit at their feet. I thought it was because they were prisoners and the guards were guards, but what if there’s more to it than that?”

“What do you mean,” I asked, curious now.

“In the city, Bellamy was looked down upon just by his mere presence and ignored whenever he spoke. The prisoners almost seem to be acting in the same way to everyone else.”

“But why didn’t they act the same with us? I mean, you and I were treated courteously and were answered promptly whenever we asked questions.”

She shook her head, “I don’t know why, but I want to try something. An experiment if you will.”

“What kind of experiment,” Bellamy asked.

“I want Monty or Raven filming first me walking by the prisoners and then you and couple of the guards. I want to watch their reactions.”

“You know what,” I said thinking about what had happened earlier, “Have Harper and Monroe follow the guards. Something strange happened when I yelled at them. Even the prisoners acted weird when I yelled.”

“You think there’s something going on, don’t you?”

“I think so, but we won’t know until you try it.”

“Fine,” Bellamy grumbled. “I want to know the answer as much as the two of you. Are you coming, O?”

I shook my head, “No, I don’t want to leave it.”

Clarke’s walked closer and peered at the hind legs, “It is not an it. It is a she.”

“Oh, duh. I didn’t think to look to see what sex it was,” I said slightly embarrassed.

She moved her head and took my hand in her mouth and gently squeezed. Almost as if it was saying it’s alright, but don’t do it again. I smiled at her and nodded my head in understanding. She let my hand go and closed her eyes.

Bellamy and Clarke left, and I stayed in my seat, letting her know that she wasn’t alone.

Two hours later, everyone came into the room, though Harper and Monroe stayed in the back.

“I take it the experiment’s done,” I asked.

“Yeah, it is,” Raven said as she plugged the camera into the largest screen in the room. “We haven’t watched it yet. Clarke felt that you deserved to watch it with the rest of us.”

“Thanks for keeping me in your thoughts, Clarke,” I said sarcastically.

She smiled at me and Raven pressed play.

Silently we watched as Clarke walked across the screen. The prisoners all inclined their heads as she passed them. Next came Bellamy. As he walked past, their faces showed disdain and hatred. No few of them spat at his heels. The guards were treated the same way. Then came Harper and Monroe. They were treated like Clarke, but at the same time treated differently. It was almost like they treated them on a lower level of deference then Clarke but were still respectful.

“Here’s the fun part,” Raven said.

We watched as the camera was handed off and Raven walked across the screen. Raven received exactly the same way as Clarke had. Then the camera was handed off again and we watched as Monty walked by. Again, the prisoners treated him as if he were at the same level as Clarke and Raven. That was when the video ended.

“So, we know it not a female thing,” Clarke said. “There’s something different about the five of us that gives us better treatment then the rest of our people.”

Thinking, I said, “I’ll tell you something else. I growled when I was yelling. A low growl and for some reason Harper, Monroe, and some of the prisoners bared their throats in submission. Like they were recognizing that I was stronger than them?”

“She’s right,” Harper said. “When she yelled and growled, I wanted nothing more than to show her my throat, like I was offering it to her. I almost felt like I needed to whine to. It was so weird.”

“Yeah, it was,” Monroe agreed.

A soft whine broke through our conversation and we all looked down at the wolf. There was so much pain in her eyes as she strained to breath. I laid my hand on her chest and I could feel it skipping beats and slowing down. Tears sprang up and I knew she was dying.

“Guys, she’s dying. I can feel it,” I said, my voice choked with emotion.

They watched as I stroked her and whispered softly in her ear. When she died her body let out a long shudder and then she was no more. I leaned down on her body and cried. Harper and Monroe came up and laid their heads on her as well and started crying. The others remained silent, mourning the loss as well.

When my crying subsided, I looked up wiping my tears away and said, “I need to let that man know that she’s gone. Make sure that her body is placed in the morgue so that we can eventually return her to her people. And for god’s sake make damn sure that the doctors don’t try and open her up. They were absolutely fascinated by the body scans.”

Clarke nodded, “I’ll make sure it gets done, Octavia.”

“Thank you,” I said standing up.

“We’ll come to, if you don’t mind,” Monroe said.

I nodded, “You should see the end results of your carelessness. Come on.”

We left the room and walked over to the man who was working in the fields. Harper and Monroe stayed back as I approached him. He saw me, and he crumpled down to the ground, sobbing. I ran to him, knelt down, and took him in my arms. He grabbed me in despair as I comforted him.

“I’m sorry,” I said near tears again. “We did everything we could to save her, but the damage to her heart was too severe. I stayed with her to the end. She wasn’t alone.”

He nodded and continued to sob as I held him. The other prisoners neared us and as I looked around they kneeled on one knee and mourned the loss of her as well. Harper and Monroe approached slowly, and the air was filled with low growls. The girls backed up quickly and looked ashamed.

“It’s alright,” I said over the growls. “They’ve been punished. They only wish to pay their respects.”

The growls subside, and the girls neared again and took a knee a few feet away from us. I don’t know how long we stayed like that but when the man had stopped sobbing, I let him go. He got up awkwardly and held out a hand to me. I allowed him to haul me up and then he kissed the back of my hand and placed it in the middle of his forehead and then over his heart. He smiled sadly and let go and joined the other prisoners. They circled around him, comforting him. As if something was released, the wolves let out a mournful howl and sang the loss of a member of their pack. I felt the urge to join in their song and looking at Harper and Monroe as they swallowed several times, fighting the urge to do so as well.

I told the guards to release all of them for the day, wolves and men. I also told them to let the wolves stay with the men and give them a chance to mourn together. They didn’t like it, but they did as they were told.

Wearily, I walked back down to medical and made sure that she was in the morgue and in one piece.

Bellamy came up behind me and gave me a hug. I turned in his arms and sobbed into his shirt.

“Oh, Bell,” I said through my sobs. “You should have seen it. It was like a part of them had died. Like they lost more than a member. It was like they lost family.”

“We could hear the wolves in the hallway,” he said. “I’m sorry, sis. I know this wasn’t easy for you. You care so much for everybody. Just like mom used to.”

I nodded, “Thank you, Bell. That means a lot.”

I got control of myself and led him back to the room where she had been.

“I need to show you something,” I said as I turned on the screen that showed the body scans.

“What all this,” he asked as he looked at the screen.

“The doctors did a body scan looking at everything,” I said as I pointed to her skeleton and zoomed in on her leg, “Look, her leg’s been broken and rebroken in the same place multiple times. The doctor said, that it looked like her body broke the skeletal system to compensate for some kind of shift.”

“And this,” I said changing the screen to show her nervous system. “This is just as different, but they couldn’t tell me why it was.”

“Then there’s this,” I said showing her brain scan and zoomed into the portions that the doctor had pointed out to me. “This area of the brain isn’t used, but other scientists have theorized that this area is where telepathy comes from. You know, speaking mind to mind. And here, is where they think that other powers come from. This is a recording of when she was still alive. Just look at it, it seems to grow and then crumble only to do it again and again.”

“So, the doctors believe that it can speak to other wolves using telepathy and that it has strange, superhero like powers.”

“Yes,” I said excitedly. “It means that these wolves are definitely more than they appear to be. This could be an entirely new species of wolves. Maybe they mutated after the nuclear blasts.”

“It’s not impossible, but I find it really hard to believe,” he said unbelieving.

“What if we examined another wolf? One that hasn’t been shocked to death.”

“I’m not sure Clarke would go for that.”

“It wouldn’t hurt to ask, and we’ll show her this too,” I asked, almost pleading.

“Alright, O. If this is important to you, we’ll go get Clarke and ask her,” he said with a soft smile.

“Thank you, Bell. It is important,” I said as I tugged him out of the room.

When we left the room, Bellamy led the way heading to the hospital ward where the adults that had been struck by the gas attack were monitored.

Opening the doors, I inhaled deeply and let it out slowly. It was tragic seeing them laid out on the beds, all suffering in one way or another. I kept my eyes on the back of Clarke’s head as we walked down the aisle and tuned out the moans and groans that spread throughout the room.

We stopped at the edge of the bed while Clarke spoke softly with her mother. It wasn’t long before Abby fell asleep and Clarke got up, wiping tears from her face. She looked up at us and surprise and worry creased her brows.

“Is everything okay,” she asked tentatively.

“For the moment, yeah,” I said softly. “I let the prisoners and the wolves go back to their barracks to let them do whatever it is when a wolf passes.”

“That was nice of you. I heard the wolves howl before I came in here. It brought tears to my eyes just listening how mournful it was.”

I nodded, “Well, it was more emotional being right there. But, that’s not why we’re here. I’d like to show you something the doctors discovered when they examined her.”

“Alright, what is it,” she asked as we left the ward.

“They did complete body scans of her; skeletal, nervous, and a brain scan. They found some distinct discrepancies between her and the wolves that were around before the apocalypse.”

“Show me.”

I nodded and once again, showed them the various scans and explained what the doctors had told me.

“We should show this to Jasper,” Clarke said thoughtfully. “He would know what to make of this.”

“I don’t want to,” I replied. “If he sees this, I’m afraid that he’ll want to dissect her brain and I refuse to let that happen.”

“I understand how you feel, O, but trust me; he’s the go to on this one.”

I gripped the bridge of my nose and closed my eyes as I felt a bubble of anger rise in my chest and said, “I got it, Jasper needs to be brought in on this, but I want to do something first.”

“What is it?”

I opened my eyes and looking at her with all the seriousness I possessed, “I want to do a body scan on another wolf and one of the prisoners.”

“Why a prisoner,” Bellamy asked.

“Because of how they reacted when I told them about her passing. There was so much non-verbal talking that it really looked like they were communicating with one another, between themselves and the wolves.”

Clarke nodded thoughtfully and said, “Okay. We can do it, but I want Jasper here to watch the screens.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously. If he’s not here, we’re not doing it.”

I huffed in indignation, but relented nonetheless, “Alright, but not tonight. We’ll do it the day after next. Give them a chance to recover.”

“Deal,” she said and walked away, with Bellamy in tow.

I stayed there a while longer, just looking at the brain scan and watching that one spot where the section of the brain seemed to move in a very odd motion. Finally, the emotional turmoil that had plagued me all day caught up and turning off the screen, I went to bed.

Chapter Text

A day and a half later, I headed over to the prisoners and approached the man that I had comforted. He looked up at me as I approached and lowered his eyes, waiting.

“I’m sorry to bother you, but I have a request,” I said carefully. “We’re trying to understand what’s happening and why some friends and I are treated differently than the others. When the doctors examined your wolf, they found some things that were strange. Things that we aren’t used to seeing.”

He looked at me curiously, eyes still downcast.

“I think it would help us in getting you back home, if you allow us to examine another one of your wolves and one of the other prisoners.”

He recoiled, but I held out my hand to stop him and said, “I don’t mean to scare you, but the examination will not harm you in any way. I promise. It’s a hand held machine that we run over the body taking readings. Like a scanner, completely harmless to anything, animal or plant. If you agree to this, I’ll show you how harmless it is and have them scan me first. If I thought it was dangerous, I wouldn’t do it. Do you believe me?”

He looked at his hands and then at the other prisoners in silent communication. One of them shrugged and he turned back and nodded. He walked over to one of the guards and bent down to a wolf. Once more it appeared that he was having a conversation that we were not privy to. He held out his hand to take the leash and with a nod from me the guard handed it over. He walked back over to me and waited.

I smiled, “Thank you. You have no idea what this means to me.”

I turned around and led them down into the bunker and medical. When we arrived in the examining room, there was only Clarke and Jasper waiting for us. Jasper stayed quiet for once, but I could see the excitement in his eyes.

“These two have agreed to it, but they want to see that the scan won’t hurt them. So, I told him that I’d go first, to show him that it doesn’t hurt,” I said as I took a seat on the exam table.

“That’s smart,” Clarke said as Jasper got everything ready.

“Bones or brains,” Jasper asked with the scanner in his hand.

“Bones,” I replied.

“Alright, then, lay back.”

I did, and he ran the scanner over me. Glancing at the screen, my skeleton started to appear. The man walked closer as he examined the image. When it was complete, he looked over at me and I gave him a thumb’s up. He nodded, and Jasper switched it to do a brain scan. This time he only ran it over my face and the sides and back of my head. The brain showed up and Jasper zoomed in on the same spots that the anomalies had shown up. Crazily, those same spots showed activity, the same kind of activity as the wolf had. I sat up and walked over to the screen, horrified and mesmerized at the same time. Instead of that growing and crumbling image, it looked like waves going across it. I looked over at the man confused, but he only smiled at me and nodded.

Everyone was silent, and the man had the wolf hop onto the table. He coughed bringing our attention back to why we were here in the first place and did the procedure again on the wolf. The skeleton showed the same thing as she had and so did the brain scan, even the image was the same. The wolf jumped down and the man took his place. The process was repeated, and his brain scan showed an image of what appeared to be fire burning happily away.

When we were done, I had a guard escort him back to the fields and closed the door behind them.

“What the hell,” I said as I turned to face them.

Jasper had already switched back to my brain scan and was staring at it intently.

“This is absolutely fascinating,” he said to himself.

“What does it mean,” Clarke asked as we stared at it.

“It means that the man and the wolf have the same anomalies, but appear to have, maybe, different powers. If I had to take a guess as to what they would be; I’d say that the wolf’s power has something to do with growth and the man’s is fire.”

“And me,” I asked timidly.

He looked over at me and said, “By that waving motion, I’d say you have some power over water.”

“But how? I was born in the bunker just like you, just like everyone else.”

“I don’t know, but isn’t it just fascinating?”

Clarke had a thoughtful face and abruptly said, “Jasper, scan my brain.”

“Huh,” I asked.

“I’ve got a niggling idea in the back of my mind and I want to test it out. Scan my brain.”

“Alright,” he said and scanned her brain.

I stared at the screen as her brain started appearing. When Jasper was complete, they both walked closer and Jasper zoomed into the region. There wasn’t any activity that we were assuming was telepathy, but there was massive activity in the other section. It looked like a massive lightning storm. Flashes lit the area up, sometimes multiple, sometimes singular. We stared, stunned.

Then Jasper took the scanner and ran it over his own head on impulse. He showed activity over the same section but showed the same as the two wolves had. The growing and the crumbling.

“That explains why the man, or the wolf didn’t react to you, Jasper,” Clarke said.

“We need to get the others down here, pronto,” I said, and they looked at me.

“You’re absolutely right,” she said and pulled out the communicator.

“Guys come down to the examination room, you’re not going to believe what we just discovered,” she said and there was a babble of voices cascading from it.

While we waited, Jasper labeled the brain scans, so we’d know who’s was who’s. Soon enough, Monty, Raven, Harper, Monroe, and Bellamy showed up in various stages of confusion. Without preamble, Jasper took the scanner ran it over everybody’s head and labeled the scans.

“So, what’s the unbelievable news,” Bellamy asked as he leaned against the far wall.

Clarke turned to Jasper and he began explaining, “So, you all know that we were going to scan a wolf and one of the prisoners today. These are their scans. Notice the same activity in the area, that we’ll call telepathy from now on. Now, when we zoom into the other area that showed activity in the dead wolf, you see that the healthy wolf has the same image as the first, but the man’s looks like fire.”

“Okay, what does this tell us,” Monty asked.

“Not much, but it looks like they have telepathic powers, probably a result of the radiation. The area we’re looking at here seems to indicate that they have powers, like superpowers in the old comic books. Those two show growth of some sort and his looks like fire.”

They all stared at him blankly, making him continue, “Anyway, to show that the scanner was harmless, Octavia went first, and this is what showed up on her brain scan.”

He showed mine and everyone leaned in to look closer, “As you can see, she has the same telepathic activity as the others, but her ‘power’ seems to be over water.”

He switched to Clarke’s and said, “This is Clarke’s brain. She doesn’t have telepathy, but the power region shows what appears to be lightening. And this is mine. Again, no telepathy, but it shows the growth image.”

He pulled up Raven’s brain scan and he zoomed in, “This is interesting. It’s similar to Clarke’s with the bit of light movement, but there looks like ones and zeroes lighting up as the light passes from one end to the other. Maybe something to do with technology.”

He pulled up Harper’s next and it showed the telepathy and an image of what could only be described as wind or air. Monty’s was next, and it looked just like Raven’s. Monroe’s showed the telepathy, but the power activity was dimly lit, and you could just make out growth. Bellamy’s showed nothing, but a normal, healthy brain.

“Should I be bummed that it looks like I’m the weakest out of everyone,” Monroe said with a forced laugh.

We tittered, and Harper gave her a hug.

“So, Jasper any theories,” Bellamy asked.

“Maybe. It appears that whatever affected the wolves and men also affected the seven of us. It would explain why we’re treated differently than anyone else. I could run brain scans over everyone, but I think that would be a waste of time.”

“Well, I want to know why Monroe, Harper and I show telepathy and why the rest of you don’t.”

“I’d say you’re in closer relation to our prisoners. Meaning that whatever they are, you are as well.”

“Then what the fuck are they,” Bellamy asked frustrated.

“You’re guess is as good as any. I don’t have a clue”

“Perfect. You have superpowers while the rest of us are mundane.”

Monty and Raven quietly hashed something else and then turned their attention to us.

“I think this might also explain some things about ourselves,” said Raven.

“Raven and I are extremely very good at all things electrical and especially with electronics. I think it’s how we were able to build the shield and make it impenetrable. Along with the long range communicators and getting the electricity up and running, down here and up there.”

“And Jasper, you are mad insane when it comes to science, especially in chemistry. Think of all those recreational drugs you cultivated,” Raven said with a sly grin.

“I have no knowledge of which you speak, Raven. I have done nothing of the sort,” he replied with a grin.

“Whatever, dead head.”

“But the four of us? We’re not really spectacular at anything. No offense, Clarke,” I said.

“No offense taken, but you’re right. The four of us don’t really seemed inclined to any particular skill set.”

“It’s why Monroe and I are in the guards,” Harper said. “It seems like it was the only thing we were remotely good at.”

“So, what the hell are we and what do we do now,” I asked to no one in particular.

Chapter Text

When I arrived at the border, the patrol spent the hour I waited for Ben to show up giving me death glares and baring their teeth at me. I smiled and waved, looking like I didn’t give a damn about what they were doing, but inwardly I was seething. I hated being here. I didn’t want anything to do with this damn place, not after what happened. Not after the banishment and the kill order. This place was no longer my home, but why did I give in? At the barest mention of being allowed back into the pack, my resolve had melted, and I’d come running back to the people who hated me. To the one person, I didn’t have the courage to see again.

When Ben finally arrived, I heaved a huge sigh of relief. I got off the bike and checked on Ben, making sure he was alright. He gave me a grin and a thumbs up, making me smile. I walked over to the gate and let them know we were ready to move on. They very reluctantly, very slowly raised the gate and I climbed back on my bike. Revving, I took off but slow enough that Ben could easily follow me.

I couldn’t help myself as I breathed in the forest relishing in the aroma of all things growing. I didn’t want to admit this to myself, but deep in my bones and in the deepest part of my soul, I had missed this place. Running with the pack, dodging in and out of trees and jumping over ravines and rivers. I was once happy here and then it turned into nothing but a nightmare. I pushed the memories away forcefully and concentrated on the dirt road in front of me. I could hear the truck hitting each and every dip and hill as it creaked, groaned, and revved as it made it’s way.

An hour and a half later we pulled up in front of the mansion in the center of Clifton. The home of de Pakstoka, current residence of one Lexa Devereux. The drive went around the central piece that was meant to draw the eye, a fountain with it’s on version of the Capitoline Wolf. Looking at it, I much preferred the one in the museum back in Old Towne. The wings of the mansion ran perpendicular from the main part of the building, closing the drive on either end. With the second story of the wings being nothing more than a long balcony interlaid with outdoor furniture. It was done in yellows and white with gray mixed in for contrast. We drove past the entrance and were greeted by Gustus and his security detail. I purposely made a show of removing all of my weapons and putting them in the back of the truck as Ben got out and walked around to me. I closed it up and he locked it, placing a ward over it. Gustus quirked an eyebrow but said nothing.

His men surrounded us as we entered the mansion and we were escorted to the back of the house into the area that was reserved for business. The guards took stations on either side of the double doors that led to the personal office. The interior of the office was done in dark chestnut and cherry woods. The walls were lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves filled with books and small works of art. On the opposite side of the door there was a huge fireplace with a painting of Historic Clifton. A small antique clock took center place on the mantel and candelabras adorned the ends.

The center of the room had an oriental rug done in rich reds, blues, and greens as if it was a landscape. There was a low coffee table with leather arm chairs on either end and leather couches along the length of the table. Lamps and end tables completed the surrounding of the table. Looking to my left, there were three large windows that went floor to ceiling looking out into the garden in the backyard. In front of the windows was an antique desk that made me want to run my fingers over it every time I saw it. The rest of the room was insignificant and did little to draw my attention.

“Lexa will be here shortly,” Gustus said. “Have a seat.”

I looked at him, but all I was met with was a glare. I sighed and took a seat on one of the armchairs. Ben sat on the couch facing towards the doors and sat as close to me as possible, while staring at everything in the room. I closed my eyes and inhaled the rich smell of leather and let my mind wander while I kept an ear out for her arrival.

“I’m sorry to keep you waiting, but there was an issue between the Gardners and Winstons that needed my attention,” she said as she entered the room.

I looked up at her and my breath caught in my throat. She was as beautiful as ever and her eyes seemed to bore straight into my soul. I stood up quickly and bowed as was protocol and Ben quickly did the same.

“Pakstoka, thank you for allowing us in your home,” I said as I straightened.

“Thank you for coming,” she answered and then shooed us back down, “But please sit. I know the roads make travel tiresome.”

I inclined my head but didn’t sit down until she did. We quietly waited while a server came in and poured us drinks and handed them out. He left and closed the door behind him. I took a sip of the wine and rolled it around my tongue, enjoying the sudden bursts of flavor before I finally swallowed.

Lexa took her own sip and asked, “How have you been, Nyx?”

“Well. Still alive,” I replied, “And you?”

“The same,” she answered with a smile.

“Ah, Ms. Devereux, before I forget, I’d like to introduce you to my partner, Ben. He’s a techno mage.”

She inclined her head and said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ben. I hope you enjoy your stay with us.”

“Th-th-thank you, ma’am,” he stammered out and immediately downed his wine, not even tasting it.

“You’ll have to forgive him. He’s very shy around people.”

“I understand,” she said with a smile. “But Nyx, you don’t have to be so formal with me.”

I shook my head, “You’ve hired me for a job, Ms. Devereux. As such, you are my client and we will treat you as such. Given names are taboo in the business, creates a familiarity that best be kept out of the job.”

Her face fell, but she regained her composure and said, “Very well, then. Gustus has explained some of what has been going on here?”

“He has. There’s been a settlement established within the boundary if Manassas. You’ve sent five teams of four to investigate, but none have returned. You don’t know if they’ve been captured or killed. You’ve hired me to find out if they are alive.”

“It’s more than finding out if they’re alive, Nyx. I want to know who these people are and why they’re on my land without permission.”

I nodded, “That’s easy enough to ascertain. We’ve already identified three of them. Ben, the photos.”

Ben pulled out the photos and handed them to Lexa. She looked them over as she waited for me to explain.

“They arrived in town about two weeks ago. I’d say around the same time as Gustus came to visit me. They spoke with the Garrison Commander in regards to the capture of your pack members. So, for all intents and purposes, we can assume that they’re all still alive. They wish to rectify the situation because, as they stated to the Commander, they were new to the area and did not know the correct protocol or procedures to handle the situation they’ve landed themselves in.”

“Was the Commander able to provide you with names to these three?”

“No he was not, but I had a run in with the blonde woman. She called herself Clarke. Beyond that, I know nothing.”

“A run in?”

I sighed, “I picked her up in a bar the night Gustus visited me. We got a bit more comfortable elsewhere.”

There was a flash of something in her eyes, but she just smiled and said, “Isn’t that par for the course.”

“We are what we are, ma’am.”

“Is there anything else you can tell me about them?”

“Clarke is a lightening mage, but she doesn’t seem to be aware of it. Her touch continuously sent electricity up my arms. Pleasant feeling, really.”

“And the other two?”

“The other girl is something, don’t know what exactly. The male is human.”

Her mouth curled in distaste at the mention of human. I couldn’t blame her, every time I saw one, said or heard the word human, I wanted nothing more then to throw up. Humans were that distasteful to me. How anyone could stand to be near one made me ill.

She looked up from the photos and asked, “Is there anything you’ll be needing from us?”

“Just a room with an attached bathroom and a cot. That way we can set up Ben’s lab and we can start coordinating a plan of how to approach the situation.”

“It’ll be done,” she said as she stood up and we followed, “I had your old room set up for you, if that’s alright?”

“That’ll be just fine. I won’t be doing much sleeping in there anyway. Now, if you’ll excuse us, Ms. Devereux, we’d like to begin unpacking the equipment.”

“Of course, I’ll have some men sent to help you.”

“That won’t be necessary, thank you. Ben doesn’t like strangers to touch his things.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize.”

“No worries. Thank you.”

With a incline of the head, I left the office with Ben following, and headed back to the truck. We got to work immediately. I stored my weapons more properly and we started off loading the equipment Ben would need to set up his lab. Sturdy table, monitors, computer, wires, tools, welding torch, and everything else a techno mage could find a use for. With our arms laden, we were guided to the opposite side of the house and to a room that met our needs. We soon had the equipment in the room and Ben started unpacking. I went back out to the truck, closed it up, and hefted my bike on the side of it before I drove it to the garage. I placed the ward back on and walked into Ben’s lab and got to work on setting everything up.

When it was done, I asked Ben, “Are you okay here?”

“Yeah, boss. This is one of the nicer places I’ve had the lab set up in,” he replied as he connected the computer to the servers back home.

“Good. There’s going to be someone outside the door if you need anything. I’m going to go for a run, it’s been too long and I need to stretch my legs.”

“Won’t you get into trouble,” he asked worriedly.

“No, but I know how not to get caught out here. I’ll check on you when I get back.”

“Sure thing. Take the comms with you, though. I’ve rigged it so that even in your wolf form, you’ll still be able to hear me.”

I hugged and gave him a kiss on the head, “Thanks, Ben. I’ll see you soon.”

He nodded and I was headed to the back yard, fitting the ear piece in snugly. As soon as I got passed the first line of trees, I shifted and took off running. It felt so good to be running again. To feel the earth beneath my paws, the wind whipping through my fur, the aromas of the forest assaulting my nose and down the back of my throat. I let go and the wolf took over as we ran over lands that we had crossed many times before. We knew every nook and cranny. Every stream, every cave, everything. A short time later, I slowed down as we came across very familiar territory. I climbed up the mountain and then made my way down to a very special ledge that over looked the lake. I plopped on the ledge and stretched out, tongue lolling out of the side of my mouth as I panted to cool myself down. It was pure bliss and I wanted to enjoy it for as long as I could. I closed my eyes to the sun and just became one with nature. With the life force that surrounded me.

There was a tumble of rock from above me and I glanced up. It was Lexa. I turned my attention back to the water and ignored her descent.

I knew this would be the first place you’d come to, she said teasingly.

You’re ruining my view, I answered.

That’s not what you used to say, she said as she padded closer.

That was a long time ago. Another lifetime.

How can you be so sure of that, she asked as she began to nuzzle my neck fur and gently nipped the scruff.

I closed my eyes and tried fight off the sensations she was creating. I rolled my shoulders and neck dislodging her from continuing.

Why are you here, I asked irritably.

I thought we might talk, she said laying down beside me.

I looked over at her and asked, And what is there to talk about?

I don’t know. Maybe why you accepted the job?

I accepted the job because of the money and your promise to lift the kill order and my banishment from the Forest Pack territory.

Not my intention of accepting you back into the pack?

No. I have no interest in rejoining the pack. I only want to be able to move around on the lands. This was once my home, don’t you think I’ve been away from it for too long?

You’ve been away from a lot of things for too long, Nyx.

It doesn’t matter. I’m only here for the job. I want to make sure the Coalition has no reason to enter into this conflict if it can be stopped within your territories.

Do you still care about us?

I only care about wasted lives. If I can save your pack, it makes my life easier.

She sighed and laid on her side looking at me.

Every time I look at you like this, Nyx…

Hmm…

I want you.

Then don’t look at me and those feelings will fade.

But they haven’t, Nyx. Your absence has only made me want you more.

I glared at her and said, I can’t say the feeling is mutual. I don’t want you.

You’re lying. I can smell the desire.

You only smell yourself. There is nothing left for you here.

Nyx…

Don’t. You made your choice quite clear eight years ago when you banished me from the pack and placed that kill order on me.

Nyx, I…

You what?! You feel bad about punishing me. You regret turning your back on me. Tell me!

I, I…

That’s right. You don’t know. Well, forget it. The time for words is long past. There is no us. There never was.

I got to my feet and with a running leap, I dove down into the lake shifting in mid fall. When I resurfaced and looked back up at the ledge she was gone. I swam to the water’s edge and walked out. I shifted again and shook the water loose from my coat. I headed back to mansion slower then I had left and returned shortly before dark.

I checked on Ben and let him know I was back. Then I headed to my old room. Entering it was like going back in time. Nothing had been touched or removed. The room had been dusted and set to rights. I locked the memory away and stripped my damp clothes off and headed for the bathroom. Stepping into the shower was almost like stepping back home. There was no Lexa, no job, no mansion, just me and the shower that closed me off from the world.

Because I felt safe, I let my guard down. Letting my guard down led to me being attacked in the shower. My attacker slammed into me through the glass and into the wall. I groaned in pain as I pushed him off of me. I followed right behind him and stomped on his groined. He howled in pain and grabbed my legs, knocking me down. My head hit the marble lip of the shower and I saw stars tinged with black. I pushed it back and crouched with a shard of glass in my hand. My focus sharpened on him and him alone. He lunged at me, but I easily dodge out of his way, stabbing down onto his back. The glass embedded itself and he growled. I quickly ran for the door, but he tackled me, knocking my head on the ground. This time the wave of dizziness made it harder to think. He got on top of me and started punching his way up my back. I growled in anger and then he had his hands around my neck and was starting to squeeze. I tried to dislodge him, but the more I struggled, the more he seemed to weigh. I was running out of time as I felt my lungs struggle to bring in air. I reached out and telekinetically found the shards of glass. I flung them at him with a mental shove and they found their mark, two instantly severing his neck and one in the base of his skull. His hands loosened and he fell on top of me, dead. I crawled out from underneath him and into the bedroom where I lay trying to get enough air in my lungs, fight off nausea, and the threatening need to pass out. I pressed the side of my head to stem off a wave of dizziness and felt the ear comm.

I pressed it and hoarsely said, “Ben…Ben…need help…bedroom.”

I heard him curse loudly and begin yelling at the guard. I tapped my ear and the comm went silent. I laid my head on my knees and concentrated on just breathing as waves of nausea and dizziness threatened to consume me. My door crashed open and bodies rushed in. Ben skidded to my side and forced my head to look at him. He was blurry and seemed to quadruple in number. Definitely a concussion. My throat hurt and I didn’t dare to talk. My body felt like one huge bruise and I could feel blood running down me from the hundreds of pieces of glass that I had crawled through and those that had hit me as he broke through the glass pane.

Ben looked up at someone and said, “She’s got a bad concussion. There’s glass lodged everywhere in her. She needs a healer.”

“There’s one on the way. Do you think we can move her,” Lexa asked, concern lacing her voice.

I wanted to look at her, but I was afraid that if I moved my head, I might lose whatever was in my stomach.

My brain was so fuzzy, that I knew I couldn’t even talk to her telepathically.

“Who was he, Gustus,” Lexa demanded.

“One of the survivors from eight years ago,” Gustus replied.

“How did he get in here?”

“I don’t know, ma’am. He shouldn’t have been anywhere near the mansion. He patrols on the Northwest border.”

“Find out. Now!”

“Yes, Pakstoka,” he said and footsteps rushed out of the room.

It felt like forever before the healer finally arrived. Ben stepped aside to allow the woman to take a closer look. She touched my head and closed her eyes. I didn’t feel anything, but we usually didn’t feel each other’s powers when we used it on one another. She opened her eyes and took my head in her hands as she gently moved it back and forth.

“Well,” Lexa demanded.

“Severe concussion, broken ribs, bruised organs, multiple cuts with glass imbedded inside and a bruised trachea.”

“Can you help her,” Ben asked worriedly.

“Of course I can, young man. Help me lay her out on the floor.”

Between the three of them, they got me laid out and the healer got to work. She pushed out every piece of glass and I writhed in pain, whimpering. Lexa held me down as the healer held my head in her lap. When the last of the glass left, I felt the blood slow and start to clot. The pain that covered my whole body eased and I could swallow with a minimum of pain. The nausea and dizziness receded as the concussion was lessened. She sighed in relief as she laid my head gently down.

“I’ve done what I could to allow her body to heal on its own. I wouldn’t recommend her shifting until the concussion if fully gone, which should be in the next day or so.”

“Thank you,” Lexa said.

“I’d also clean her off before you get her back in bed. She’s lost a surprising amount of blood. She should’ve been unconscious when I got here.”

“You don’t know Nyx, healer. She a very stubborn bitch,” Ben said with a small chuckle.

“Indeed,” Lexa said agreeing with him. “We’ll get her cleaned up. Thank you again.”

“My pleasure, Pakstoka,” she said and left the room.

I just lay there unmoving as they began cleaning me up before they moved me to the bed. There was a bustle of movement coming from the bathroom and I knew someone was cleaning up in there. I felt unconsciousness dragging me down into a sea of blackness and finally let myself go.

Being woken up every couple of hours wasn’t too bad. I’d often hear a humming in my head, a hand holding my own, stroking my hair, a wet nose nuzzling me behind my ear, a tongue cleaning a cut, fur beneath my hand, or just a heavy comforting weight against me.

After I had been allowed to sleep undisturbed for a longer period of time, I woke up on my own, still feeling groggy and there was mild pain going across my chest. The extreme downside of broken ribs, the pain tended to linger. I sat up and rubbed my eyes, looking around me. The mess had been completely cleaned up and there was a slight citrus smell to the room. I was still naked, but it didn’t really matter. Nudity was never a problem for me. I only walked around the house clothed for Ben’s sake. I swung my legs over the side of the bed and stood up, a bit wobbly. Walking into the bathroom, I saw that the shower was fixed. I still felt dirty so I got in a took a quick shower.

I combed, brushed and braided my hair before I left and went digging through the drawers and closet for something to wear. Apparently, Lexa had really left the room alone. All my old clothes still hung on the hangers, underthings still in the drawers. I walked into the closet and dressed. Walking out I was greeted by a white wolf with brown eyes and a black nose. I let out a small scream and threw it across the room. It landed with a thud and I cautiously walked around the bed to look at it. It was a she and she was already sitting up and shifting. When I saw who it was, I wilted and sat on the bed.

“Gaia, what the fuck,” I exclaimed as I looked at her.

She was still shaking her head, clearing it, then she looked up at me with a small smile, “You remember me.”

“Yeah, I remember you, squirt. Come here,” I said and pulled her into a hug. “You’ve grown.”

She chuckled, “Not so squirt-like now, am I.”

“No, you’re not. Now, you actually look your age and not a little kid. What are you doing here?”

She sat next to me on the bed and said, “Lexa wanted someone she could trust absolutely to watch over you while you slept.”

I nodded, “She doesn’t trust Gustus to do it. I take it that one of his men allowed the man to slip through?”

“Yeah, but I gotta ask. How did you not see me at the foot of the bed?”

“The comforter is white, the footboard is white, you are extremely white. With your eyes closed and your snout covered, you’re invisible. I just did not see you. At all.”

She laughed, “I’ve missed you, Nyx.”

“I’ve missed you, too. How’s your mother?”

“She’s doing well. We don’t really see much of each other anymore.”

“Why?”

“She’s not happy that I joined the Order.”

Surprised, I gave her a closer look. She was indeed in a novitiate’s uniform and it suited her. She’d always had this aura about her that seemed not to be so earth bound as the rest of us.

“You were Called,” I said with a smile.

She nodded, “I was. You’re not surprised.”

“No. There was always something more about you. You only ever had one foot on the ground.”

“That’s exactly how I felt, Nyx. Lexa is on her up by the way.”

I gave her a wry grin, “Figured. Thank you for keeping an eye on me.”

“Your welcome. I’m just glad you’re okay.”

“Me, too. This is the second time in two weeks that someone’s really put forth the effort to try and kill me. It’s not fun.”

“No, I expect not.”

There was a knock on the door and Lexa opened it. She greeted me with a smile and I smiled back.

“How are you feeling,” she asked as she came over and sat on the ottoman that was on the other side of the footboard.

“Good, there’s only some residual pain from my ribs. Has anything changed in Manassas?”

“No. We’re keeping our distance. They’ve got some kind of electrical shield over their compound. Our drones can’t get close enough to get a good look.”

I smiled and said, “Ah, but you didn’t use our drones. You’ll be in for a treat once I get out there with the truck. Ben’s babies are something.”

“Explain,” she asked as she leaned in closer.

“Ben has about five modified drones. They run on solar power, so they can stay up indefinitely without the need to come down and recharge. They’ve got telescopic lenses that can zoom in perfectly from a mile above with no distortion to the images. Video and photographic capture. Normal vision, night vision, infrared, energy readout, and our favorite: we can read signatures. We can distinguish human from were and mages. They each show up as a different color. We’ll be able to tell how many of each there are. Plus side too, is that electrical interference doesn’t bother them.”

“Ben did all of that?”

“Yes and more. Just recently he developed a new type of bug. They can be dropped from a distance and find their own way to prime recording areas. When they’re deactivated, you’d never know they were there.”

“Man’s a genius,” Gaia said deeply impressed.

“I like to think so, that’s why I snatched him up when every other Enforcer or company ignored him. He’s my little secret weapon.”

“Are you hungry,” Lexa asked.

I grinned, “Starving.”

“I’ll have Chef whip you up something. Still sear your meat?”

“Yes, I like a little crisp to my raw.”

“Then let’s go down stairs and get you fed,” she said standing up.

We followed her down the stairs and into the informal dining room. She left to let Chef know that we were hungry. I left briefly and got Ben and came back with him in tow and the maps of Manassas proper and the outlying landscape. Lexa showed me where the invaders had set up camp and gave me about a three mile radius surrounding what looks like could have been the town hall. Laying the topographic map over the city map, I looked for various safe zones and open ridge lines that would give us a proper view while staying out of range of any weapons they might have.

When the food arrived and in between bites we started to hash out a plan to pull off a successful recon.

“Okay,” I said pointing to a spot on the map with a piece of bone, “this is where I’ll set the truck. It gives me privacy and an easy way to launch and land the drones. It’s also about three-quarters of a mile from this ridge line. That gives me prime spot to look out over their camp without having to worry about getting shot or something.”

“What’s the plan once you get there,” Lexa said looking at the map.

“Super easy. Launch the drones, send them over five quadrants and let them record. We watch and we learn. And we make sure your people are alive. After you get the information you need, the balls in your court.”

“Easy enough, but I don’t want you to go out there alone. There might be a way for us to contact my people. I want someone who can speak on my behalf. Someone they’ll listen to.”

“Alright, I’ll concede that to you. Who do have in mind?”

She looked up at me and then over at Gaia and said, “I want Gaia to go with you.”

Gaia looked up in surprise and asked, “Why? I’m a novitiate, not a scout or patrolman.”

“Nyx is the scout. If they know that there’s someone there who’s part of the Order, they’re going to trust Nyx more. That’s why, you,” Lexa said.

“I guess,” she said reluctantly.

“At least having you there will help me pass the time,” I said, laughing. “Recon is probably the most boring part of this job. I’m just glad I don’t have to sneak in and try to avoid people and cameras and whatever else they got. Much safer. I like safe.”

“Yeah, safe is good,” Ben said seriously. “After these last two weeks, I’m not sure that you’ll survive a third.”

“O ye of little faith, my dear friend,” I replied. “There’s not much trouble I can get in out there. I’m not planning on engaging with them.”

“What if they engage you?”

“What do you think those mounted guns are for. They’re not just decorations,” I replied saucily.

“Hmph,” he said crossing his arms across his chest and pouting.

“Oh, come on, Ben. Gaia’s as good a fighter as everyone else here is. She trained under one of the best fighters in the pack. We’ll be fine.”

“Whatever, Nyx. I’m going back to my computers,” he said and left the room.

I sighed and poured myself a drink, looking idly at the map.

“You really scared him, Nyx,” Lexa said coming to sit next to me.

“I know. It even scares me and you know that there’s very few things that do. I just don’t know what to tell him. It’s unprecedented to have two incidents in two weeks. I’m hardly ever in any serious danger on my jobs. If I see potential danger, I plan for it and plan contingencies on that plan and so on. I’ve only needed a healer once or twice in the five years we’ve worked together.”

“You’ve never been hurt or injured on a job,” Gaia asked.

“Oh, that I have and plenty of times. I’m referring to the extent of these last two times. Injury is par for the course in my line of work.”

“What exactly is an Enforcer?”

“A little bit of this and a little bit of that. Spy, counter intelligence, bounty hunter, assassin, negotiator, and whatever else my client might need. I’m a jack of all trades.”

“And you’re an independent contractor for the Coalition and on Old Towne’s payroll,” Lexa asked.

“Mm-hmm,” I answered taking a drink.

“You’ve done well.”

“Yeah, well. You do what you gotta do to survive,” I replied standing up, suddenly irritated. “If you’ll excuse me, Ms. Devereux. I’m growing tired and we’ll be leaving at first light.”

She realized her mistake and looked ashamed as she said, “Of course, it was rude of me to keep you up since you’ve just recently gotten well.”

I inclined my head and turned to Gaia, “First light. Don’t be late,” and left the dining room.

As soon as I closed my bedroom door behind me I threw my clothes in the corner of the room and slipped underneath my covers. I was still awake when Gaia came into the room. She was taking her duty serious.

“Sleep in which ever form you want, Gaia, but the bed’s way more comfortable between the covers then over them. I’m just going to sleep,” I said to her and turned away facing the bathroom. I heard her undress and then felt the bed dip as she crawled in.

Sleep didn’t come easily and the dreams only made it worse.

Chapter Text

I woke up as irritable as I’d gone to bed, but pushed it aside as I dug through my work clothes. Dark clothes that wouldn’t catch on anything or reflect off of light. I rebraided my hair and after putting on my boots, I headed to the kitchen. Chef had already packed a week’s worth of food and drinks. I grabbed a thermos of coffee and took the food then headed out to the truck. I disabled the ward and jumped inside. Tying down the food and setting the thermos in the front console, I double checked everything inside and outside of the truck making sure everything was in working order. Stepping back out of the truck, satisfied with my inspection, I sat on the bumper and sipped some of the coffee. Ben came ambling out in a better mood and we chatted as I waited for Gaia to show up. She came running out of the doors, worry etching her face.

“I’m so sorry, Nyx,” she said breathless. “I was talking with Mother.”

“It’s fine, Gaia. Just get in the truck,” I said and stood up.

“Be careful, Nyx,” Ben said.

“I will,” I said giving him a hug. “I’ll let you know when we get there.”

“Alright,” he said and walked back into the house.

I watched him until the door shut and then went to the driver’s side and climbed in. I turned the ignition and as soon as it had warmed up, we were heading cross country to the rendezvous spot. It took us a better part of the day getting there, but we arrived safe and sound. I clambered over the seats and began to turn on the equipment, letting it warm up.

“Hey, Big Ben, it’s your favorite Goddess of the Night, read me,” I said in to the comms unit.

“Read you loud and clear, beautiful lady. You arrived safely,” he replied,

“Like a newborn in swaddling clothes, we’re wrapped up nice and tight.”

“Good. How’s the ‘quip looking?”

“Beautiful. Everything appears to be in working order. We just literally got here, so I’m not ready to fly the girls yet. I want to head up the ridge line with Gaia and get a better view of the shield and an eye account of the area.”

“Sounds like a plan. Let me know.”

“Will do, big bro. Nyx, out.”

Gaia laughed from her seat up front and I looked over at her with a quirked brow.

“I don’t remember you ever speaking like that. Joking,” she explained.

I grinned, “It’s not something there was a lot of time for back then, was there? Now, I take the fun where I can get it. Keeps me from ravishing all the poor lonely farm girls out there.”

Her eyes widened in shock and I laughed. She joined in as she realized I was joking.

“I know we’re a horny bunch, but I do have morals, Gaia,” I said, smiling. “Come on, feel like a run?”

“I thought you’d never ask.”

We climbed out of the truck and shifted as we ran to the ridge line. Stopping at the crest, we took in the view.

Do you see the shield, I asked Gaia.

Yes.

See how it curves from the pinnacle until it reaches the ground?

Like half of a globe.

Yes. Now, we’ve been told that nothing can get in or out. I believe to stray on the closer side of caution and assume that is not so. We may not be able to get in, but things may be able to get out.

Like bullets, missiles and things like that?

Exactly. We treat if as if it is something to avoid. We can’t risk getting too close.

Do you think we could still be out of range of their weapons if we go to the next ridge down there?

I looked at where she pointed out and doing some calculations said, Yes. We should be, but don’t let your guard down for one minute. We’re coming into their territory now. We act accordingly.

She nodded and we ran down the ridge and up to the top of the next one. When we stopped, we were close enough to hear voices clamoring in fear. We’d been spotted. I stopped Gaia from turning around because I wanted to see what they would do.

Why are we not running? Do you not hear them?

I hear them, Gaia. We are still out of range of most man-made weapons. Be still a moment. Watch. Listen.

 

CLARKE

The alarms and shouting drew us outside the hall and we took off running for the gate.

“What is it,” I yelled at a passing guard.

“Wolves,” he hollered back.

“We need eyes,” Raven shouted and turned away and ran off to her lab.

We continued running and then we were all climbing the gate tower that overlooked the surrounding area.

The guard handed Bellamy and me each a pair of binoculars. I looked through them and was surprised to see two wolves just sitting there. One was massive and completely black. The other was its opposite, but only slightly smaller. Bigger than normal wolves. As we watched, they did no more then watch us as well.

I turned my attention away from them when I heard someone running up the stairs. It was Raven and she had a small drone in her hands and a video screen.

We made room for her and set about getting the drone ready for launch.

“I thought you told us that nothing can leave the shield once it was up,” Bellamy asked.

“Nothing can. No projectiles of any kind just like none can enter from out there,” she said as continued to set it up. “Monty and I’ve modified this so that it has a shield of its own and can interact with the bigger one allowing it through. Don’t you want to get a closer look?”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“Then let me do my job, Bellamy.”

Soon, she had the drone airborne and she flew it closer to the shield wall that was directly opposite of the two wolves. We all peered at the small screen as she zoomed in on them. They just sat there, taking everything in. Occasionally, it looked like the black one was pointing things out to the smaller, white one. Even to the point of using it’s paws to point them out.

“They’re acting like they’re having a conversation and the black one is pointing things of interest to the white one,” Raven said fascinated.

The black one would occasionally look up at the drone and one time it winked at us.

“Did it just wink,” Bellamy asked as he leaned closer.

“It looked like it. I’m gonna send the drone out of the shield now.”

We watched as it began to cross through the shield, the video messing up a little, but then it was through and flew closer to the wolves. The white one saw the drone approach and it raised its hackles, but the black one laid a paw across its shoulders and nuzzled its ears, calming it. The white one calmed and the black one let go.

The black one walked closer to the drone and seemed to look closer at it. It turned its head back to the white one. The white one nodded and seemed to relax more.

“What are they doing,” I asked, puzzled by their behavior.

“They’re studying us,” Octavia replied. “Look at how their heads are constantly moving and their noses move in the air. This is the first time that we’ve come across a pair that isn’t trying to get inside. These two are smarter.”

Suddenly, something pinged against the drone’s shield, rocking it slightly as the big one shook it’s head as if it was hit.

“What just happened,” Bellamy asked.

“It threw something at the shield,” Raven said, not understanding what happened either. “Whatever was thrown hit the black one in the head. But, it doesn’t look pissed. In fact, is it shrugging at the white one?”

Looking, it did appear that the black one was shrugging as the white one shook it’s head at the others idiot idea. The black one walked back over to the white one and with it’s tail high in the air swished it back and forth like a woman would do if she wanted her attention to be drawn to her backside.

“Is it sashaying,” someone asked.

“I was just thinking that,” I said in disbelief. “What the hell are these wolves? They’re acting like people. Like us.”

 

Nyx

That was a stupid idea, Nyx, Gaia said as I came to a stop by her and sat looking at the compound again.

Didn’t hurt to see what would happen. It’s just a video drone. It’s not dangerous.

Hmph. We’ll see about that.

I looked at her with a grin and said, Ready to try something else?

What did you have in mind?

Well, seeing as you were called by the Order and you accepted. Wanna try something that only members of the Order can do?

What is it?

It’s something similar that the Pakstoka can do. Communicate with all pack members. But what the Order does is something different, but similar. The Order can communicate on a more spiritual level. More in tune with our connection with Mother Earth. A more primal level of communication. It’s a connection that once given can never be severed.

How do you know about this? I have only begun learning about it.

When I was younger, my uncle was Called and we spent many nights discussing what it is a priest or priestess provides to all weres. Not just those within a pack. So you wanna give it a try.

What would I say?

Just let them know that we know they are alive and that Pakstoka is working on a way to bring them all home. Tell them to be strong and have faith. Maybe not those words, but something of that nature. The words have to come from your heart and soul, Priestess.

How do I do it?

Alright, close your eyes. Deep inhale, slow exhale. Deep inhale, start feeling the ground beneath your feet, slow exhale, Deep inhale, feel yourself beneath the ground you sit upon, slow exhale. Deep inhale, reach further into Mother Earth and find your personal connection with her, slow exhale. Keep breathing slow and steady and reach beyond yourself and search for others like us, calling them gently to you. That’s right, just like that. The Mother will provide you the strength to reach those within our small circle. You provide the will to bring them within your open arms. Can you feel them gathering?

Yes…

Good. When you feel that all have been gathered, speak. Let the words flow from your soul. Let your love for them flow from your heart. Let them know they’re prayers have been heard.

Brothers, sisters. I beseech you to listen with an open mind and open heart. You have been found. Pakstoka has found you. Your Priestess has found you. Have faith, my children, for we will bring you home. Have strength that you will run free in the forest soon. Have love knowing that Pakstoka and the Order love you all in return. Be at peace, my brothers and sisters. For you are no longer lost. You are no longer alone. We are here.

Good. Now gently release them from your arms. Like the wind carries away the seeds of the dandelion. Let them flow to their own connections with the Mother. Good. Now thank the Mother for providing you strength as you slowly return from her and travel back through the ground and out of the ground and into yourself.

She opened her eyes and there was so much love and peace in them that it made my heart sing with joy.

Mother Earth has provided, how will you show respect, Gaia?

She looked between her paws and bent down until her nose touched the ground. As she slowly raised her head a single bloom began to grow. As it grew, it blossomed into a beautiful white rose.

Perfect, Gaia. Mother Earth thanks you.

Chapter Text

I stood there watching the wolves on the screen as if the black one was instructing the white one. The white one nodded once and closed its eyes. Less then a minute later, I felt a gentle pull. Something asking me to join it. A pull that felt ancient and strong. I closed my eyes and felt warmth as the pull brought me down beneath the surface, deep into the earth. There was love, strength and all matters of the heart that a mother gives her child. I felt tears fall down my face as I remembered my mother, but there was another mother. More powerful, more encompassing…Mother Earth had called to me and I had answered. But it wasn’t She that had called, someone else had done the calling.

Then I heard the voice. A young woman’s voice full of all things good and pure. She spoke of being lost and of being found. That Pakstoka knew that her people were still alive and that they would be home soon. When the woman stopped speaking I was left feeling more loved then I had ever felt before. More strength in knowing that I would never be alone again.

I felt myself being let go and returned to my physical body to find it weeping. I opened my eyes and sniffled loudly. And I wasn’t the only one on that guard tower who felt it. Nate, Harper, and Monroe had felt it too.

“Are you guys okay,” Clarke asked worried.

I inhaled deeply and smiled through my tears and said, “I think we’re more than okay.”

“I have never felt so loved or at peace before,” Monroe said as she sat on the floor.

Harper and Nate joined her as well.

I looked at the screen and watched as the white wolf placed her nose between her paws and as she raised her head, a flower grew.

“Guys, look,” I whispered, pointing to the screen.

Her head had fully risen and where there had been nothing before, now stood the most perfect white rose I’d ever seen. They looked at the camp and drone a moment longer and then they left, running down the other side of the ridge and up the next one and down it, disappearing from sight.

We looked at the rose stunned until we heard sobs and cries coming from the prisoners. We all looked over and they were sobbing into each other’s arms. But it wasn’t out of sadness, instead they were sobbing for joy.

“What just happened,” Bellamy demanded as Raven brought the drone back in.

I looked at the other three, but they could only shrug still caught up in the emotions.

I took a shuddering breath and said, “The white one is a Priestess of something called the Order. Their faith in Mother Earth. The Priestess asked Mother Earth to give her strength to speak with her people, apparently the four of us are part of that ‘people.’ The call pulled our spirits? down into where Mother Earth resides. There was so much love and strength and peace and knowledge that we’re never alone. It was awe inspiring. Then the Priestess spoke. She spoke that those who had been lost were now found and that the Pakstoka was working on a way to bring them home, safe. And then we were let go.”

“That’s horseshit,” Bellamy yelled. “Are you going to sit there and tell me that some white wolf is a priestess serving Mother Earth and that she called your spirit and theirs into the ground and spoke to you?!”

I got up angrily and stomped over to him and got into his face, “That is exactly what I am telling you, Bellamy. That white wolf is a Priestess of the Order and that she let our prisoners know that the Pakstoka knows that they are alive and working for a way to get them home!”

He tried to stare me down, but I felt a growl emanate from my chest at his audacity to challenge me. I felt my lips curl back into a snarl and saw his face pale in fear.

“Octavia, stop,” Harper said. “He just doesn’t understand. He’s just a human. He’ll never understand. Just back down, please, before you hurt him.”

Realization dawned and I quickly backed away and headed to Harper. The three of them hugged me as I looked at Bellamy.

“What do you mean, Harper,” Clarke asked.

“I don’t think even you would fully understand, Clarke. None of you really,” she said.

“Whatever we are,” Nate spoke, “we’re part of a community. Their community. We have a connection to the wolves like they do. That’s why we were all drawn to Mother Earth. Why the Priestess was able to speak to us as well.”

“Why don’t you think we’ll understand? We are part of a community. All of us,” Clarke said, still not understanding.

“Yes, we are part of a community, but not a community like this,” I said. “It goes beyond a group of people living together, beyond familial ties, beyond bonding because of shared experiences. It is called a community because of our connection with Mother Earth and that our minds are all connected to one another, however minute the connection. It transcends the material and physical worlds and connects on a more spiritual level.”

“You’re describing a cult, O,” Bellamy said angrily. “Somehow, they’ve gotten the four of you to drink their kool-aid and you think you’re one of them now. Don’t be so naïve.”

“I told you, he wouldn’t understand,” Harper whispered. “Humans never do.”

“Why do you keep calling me that,” Bellamy demanded. “Saying it like being human, being normal, is less then being one of you.”

“Look at all the hate you’re harboring towards Octavia, Bellamy,” Nate said, standing up and in front of me, protecting me. “You’re mad at her because she was able to get answers in Old Towne instead of you. You’re mad at both of them because they were treated differently when you went there. You’re angry because Octavia found answers to some of the questions as to why there was different treatment. And you’re hurt because your brain scan showed you that you have no powers. So, you’re lashing out. Calling us out because we’re starting to understand the people we captured. Because we’re similar to these people. It’s because you feel helpless that there doesn’t seem to be any way for you to help our people.”

“You’re full of shit, Miller,” Bellamy yelled and started walking down the stairs. “I’m not going to stay here and be insulted by a bunch of delinquents that couldn’t find a purpose so they latched on to this one.”

“You all know we’re right,” Harper said quietly. “Bellamy’s always going to resent us because he’s not like us.”

“I know,” Clarke replied. “But even so, we all have a responsibility to our people. All of them. We don’t know if there are more of us or if it’s just us 8. We have to treat everyone the same. We can’t tell anyone that we’re different. Not until we get the full picture of what we’re up against. Agreed?”

“Agreed,” we all said.

“Octavia! Octavia,” Jasper screeched through the communicator on my belt. “You’ve got to get down to the morgue quick. You, Harper, Monroe, Miller, and Clarke. I think shit just got worse. Hurry!”

We all looked at one another and then ran for the stairs and all the way to the morgue. When we got there, Jasper was pacing and mumbling to himself. Hitting himself in the head.

“Jasper, stop,” Clarke said, marching into the room and physically restraining his arm. “What’s going on?”

He looked at us wild-eyed and started talking real fast, his words jumbled together and he kept pointing to one of the drawers. We couldn’t make any sense of what he was saying, so I walked over to the drawer and opened it up. Inside was a young girl, probably no more then 16. She lay there fully clothed, but I didn’t recognize her. I pulled out the drawer and everyone looked.

“There, there, do you see,” Jasper exclaimed. “One minute I was looking at the wolf, then next her. What the fuck? I mean there was a wolf, right? I wasn’t just seeing things, right?”

I opened up all of the drawers and only encountered the dead adults. None of the drawers held a wolf.

“What the fuck,” I exclaimed as I walked over to the girl.

“How long ago did this happen,” Clarke asked with a strained voice.

“I don’ know…maybe…10, 20 minutes ago,” he said and started babbling to himself again.

“Wait, 10, 20 minutes ago,” I said thinking, “That was about the time the Priestess was speaking, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. Yeah it was,” Nate said and the girls nodded in confirmation.

“Oh, my, God. It can’t be, could it? No, it couldn’t,” I started to question myself as a thought began growing in my mind. “But that’s impossible, isn’t it?”

“What’s impossible,” Clarke asked.

“The wolves are connected to the prisoners. The prisoners are connected with the wolves. All of them are connected with Mother Earth. Is it possible that the wolves are also men and women?”

“What? You mean like werewolves,” Monroe asked. “Like in fiction books?”

I nodded as my eyes widened in fear.

“But it’s not real. Werewolves don’t really exist, right? Right?”

“Clarke, look at her neck for me please,” I whispered fearfully.

Clarke walked timidly and moved the girls hair and jacket, revealing her neck. It was burned in the shape of the shock collar. My legs couldn’t hold me and I collapsed onto the floor. The girl bore the same burns as the wolf had. There were still ten prisoners and nine wolves.

“She’s a werewolf,” I whispered. “A real live, dead, werewolf.”

“Oh my god, we killed a person. We killed a girl,” Monroe moaned.

“We killed a pack member,” Clarke said horrified.

“Ya see,” Jasper said pointing at the girl, “Shit just got worse.”

Chapter Text

“That was an excellent job, Gaia,” I said as I climbed on top of the truck and began unsnapping the clasps that held the hard cover down.

“You really think so,” she asked still unsure of herself. “I didn’t even know what to say. It’s like as soon as I felt everyone, the words started to flow out of me.”

I smiled down at her and replied, “Mother Earth saw the purity of your heart and knew you wished to give comfort to your people, Gaia. So She provided you with the words you needed to speak and the strength to speak them. Mother Earth chose well when She Called you to Her service.”

“You speak as if you have intimate knowledge of Her?”

“I guess you could say that Mother Earth and I had a conversation or two after my banishment. I was in a real bad place and the thoughts I had were very dark and very dangerous. One night, my soul was at it’s darkest and She came to me and told me ‘no.’ She pointed me towards people that could help me and provided me a way out of my darkness. So, everyday my love of Her grows and when I can, I give my thanks.”

“Why did She not Call you as She Called me?”

“My path lies between the Darkness and the Light. I’m meant to cross that boundary in order to keep people safe and help those in need. I told Gustus that I don’t do pro bono work, but I often do. Not everyone is fortunate to have the money to seek help.”

“You do Her work in your own way.”

“Yes,” I said as I hauled the cover over to the side. “Head’s up,” I said as I let it go.

Gaia quickly backed away as it thunked to the ground.

“Can you turn it over so that water won’t collect in it,” I said as I began to loosen the straps holding the five drones down. When they were unstrapped, I hollered down, “Could you toss that bag up to me, please?”

She did, throwing the 30 lb. bag up to me with ease. I sat down and pulled the first drone to me. Taking a rag, I cleaned it of any residual dust and wiped down the lens. I stuck one those head lights on my head and with a magnifying glass, looked over every nook and cranny making sure there were no cracks or imperfections. Satisfied, I repeated the process with the other four. With that done, I sat in the middle of the five drones and pulled out the master remote and turned them on, one by one they flew into the air and hovered over me as I looked at the video screen and cycled through the different video captures. Once more satisfied, I sent them about ten feet above my head and let them hover. I climbed down off of the truck, tossing the bag down and leaning over to hand Gaia the remote. We headed inside and I flicked on the five screens that showed us the five video feeds for each drone. I hooked up the remote to the computer, I took the joystick and sent them towards the camp. Sending them to a high altitude, I sent each one to the four quadrants I had mapped out and left the fifth one to hover over the apex of the shield. Setting them to hover, I zoomed the lens in to get a closer view of the area. Once I was satisfied on the view, I sent them the grid coordinates I wanted them to move in and let them get to work.

“Hey, Benny boy, you awake,” I radioed in.

“I’m awake, Nyx. Are the drones up and running,” he said.

“Yeah. They’re just starting their runs. The video feeds are set up to record for 24 hours and then send the data to the servers and start over again.”

“Perfect. Hey, take control of the drone working quadrant 2. Sweep over the fields and switch to signature feed.”

“You think those are the ones we’re looking for?”

“Yeah.”

“Alright, taking control over in 3,2,1, mark. Switching to signature feed now,” I said as I flipped the switch to take control over it manually and the image on the screen immediately changed to a gray brown, showing people as a black blip on the screen.

When activated, weres showed up as a forest green to signify their connection with Mother Earth. Mages showed up in a myriad of colors depending on their powers. Green for Earth, blue for water, red for fire, white for air, gray for techno, yellow for the uncommon powers like healing or lightening.

Slowing the drone down to a mere crawl, I zoomed in on the figures in the field. 10 of the figures showed as forest green which were interspersed with black figures. I saw another forest green walking with a black along the inner perimeter of a wall. I followed the wall and saw nine more forest greens.

“Didn’t Gustus say that he sent five teams of four,” I asked.

“That’s right,” Gaia said. “That means that there should be 20 pack members on the inside of that wall.”

“Then why am I only counting 19?”

“Are you sure,” she asked as she leaned closer to the screen and counted silently. “Where’s number 20?”

“Good question. Another question is why are there so many black figures around the camp?”

“Humans?”

“It’s gotta be. Switching back to normal feed.”

Looking at the feed with new eyes, they were indeed humans. And confusing me even more, humans were in guard uniforms. They watched over the pack and patrolled the wall.

“What the fuck…I’m switching all drones to signature feed.”

One by one the drones switched over and my eyes widened in shock as nearly every person showed up as human. Freaking humans. Then there was color catching my eye over the fifth drone. I zoomed it in closer and watched as they moved around in a small cluster. I counted Four weres, on Earth mage, one mage that showed up yellow, and two techno mages.

I switched the feed over and zoomed in on there faces. There was Clarke, the Lightening mage, there was the other girl from the Commander’s photos, a were, and the rest were unknown. I made sure to capture a screen shot and send them directly to Ben. I zoomed back out and set it back on it’s course. I did the same with the drone in quadrant 2.

Leaning back in the chair, I stared at the screens in front of me. We were looking at a camp of humans. Humans had captured pack members and were using them as slave labor.

“Ben…”

“Yeah, she’s coming.”

“How in hell, did a whole community of humans make it through the border and all the way to Manassas,” I asked to no one in particular.

“It shouldn’t have been possible. The border patrols would have smelled them miles away. And even if they had somehow managed to evade the patrols, then the land patrols and drones should have picked up such a large movement of people,” Gaia replied.

“This makes absolutely no sense. And to have only less than 20 of us in a community of nearly one hundred? It’s impossible.”

“We need eyes and ears in there,” Ben said. “Nyx, in the small black box underneath the passenger seat are more of the spy bugs I made. Figure out a way to get them past the shield. They’ll do the rest.”

“Great idea. We’ll do it after nightfall. Less chance of them seeing us in our human form.”

“I’m here,” Lexa said over the radio.

“Ben, start showing her the video feeds,” I replied.

There was a pause.

“What am I looking at here,” she asked.

“Signature feed of the entire camp.”

Another pause.

“What happened to number 20,” she asked angrily.

“Don’t know yet. We’ve just started the runs. Look at the rest of the feeds.”

Lexa remained silent for awhile before she finally said, “How did an entire camp of humans get inside my territory and settle within speaking distance of my capital?”

“I don’t know, but we’ll be setting up surveillance inside the camp after nightfall,” I replied. “We’ll get your answers.”

“Is there anything else of significance?”

“Gaia, speaking through Mother Earth, was able to relay that you know that they’re alive and that we’re working on a way to get them home.”

“Is this true, Gaia,” Lexa asked her.

“Yes, ma’am. With Nyx’s help I was able to commune with them briefly, albeit one sided, but they know.”

“Good girl. If there’s nothing else, I must speak with Gustus and Indra in regards to this little bit of news.”

“No, we’re good,” I replied.

“Thank you for letting me know.”

“Of course. Ben will notify you once we have surveillance up and running.”

“Thanks.”

 

Five hours later, Gaia and I were standing on the ridge with a canister of the bugs. I looked out over the camp and could see the patrols walking along the walls and the searchlights sweeping 100 feet outside the wall. We were both dressed in black, head to toe, and ready to get this over and done with.

“Why am I here,” Gaia asked me.

“I’m going to need your help. We’re both Earth mages and we have 20 bugs we have to get from here to the other side of the wall. I want to send them all at once,” I replied.

“Oh.”

I knelt down and placed my hand on the ground and concentrated on feeling underneath the shield.

“They didn’t extend the shield past ground level,” I said. “Which is good. Makes things easier. There’ll be no chance of setting off any alarms.”

“Okay.”

I reached deeper into the camp and came across something that made a lot of things click.

“Gaia,” I said. “Do what I’m doing. Focus about 3 miles straight ahead from us.”

“Alright.”

My eyes were still closed as I felt her kneel next to me. I continued to feel around the area and was surprised by the enormity of it.

“Is that…,” she whispered.

“A very large, complicated man made structure. An underground bunker 3 miles underground,” I supplied.

“Could that be how nearly a 100 humans came here undetected?”

“That is the most simplest answer, so therefore as the saying goes, it’s the right answer.”

“We should get these bugs in place, like now.”

“Agreed.”

I pulled myself back out of the ground, opened the canister and split the bugs in half. I handed them off to Gaia.

“Okay, Gaia this is how it’s going to go. We are going to push the bugs through the ground and have them come out on the other side of the shield. We want them spread out enough that we’ll get better coverage.”

“How do we do it?”

“It’s going to take a lot of concentration, so we’ll be moving them slowly. As we push them into the ground, we surround them with a pocket of air and push that air through the ground and then let the earth fall back behind it. Like I said, it’s going to be slow going and is going to take a lot of concentration.”

“I think I understand,” she said. “Can I watch you first and then start?”

“Sure. Watch and learn.”

I sat on the ground and held both hands over the balls. Closing my eyes to better concentrate and watch as the balls move through the ground, I slowly sunk them and began moving them towards the camp. Soon, Gaia joined and all 20 balls were on there way. I moved them as a group and would stop them and push one up to the surface and then move on to the next area. By the time I pushed the last one up near the place I had seen the group Clarke was with, there was sweat dripping down my face and back. It hadn’t taken a lot of energy, but just the amount of concentration it took was exhausting.

I leaned back on my arms and looking up at the sky, took a moment to get my breath back. Tonight’s revelation was mind blowing. An entire community of humans had survived 83 years in a bunker and no one ever knew. They had remained untouched by the radiation and yet somehow less then 20 of them were born with powers. It made me wonder if there was something special about this small group.

I shook my head to clear these thoughts and looked over at Gaia and frowned. She should have been done by now. I put my hand on the ground and checked on her progress and quickly withdrew it. She had stalled, but I could see that she was trying to push through it. Alarmed, I placed my hands on top of hers and quickly dove in, praying to Mother Earth to guide me. I fed her my power as I realized that she had already tapped out and was beginning to use her life force. The spy balls zipped quickly through the earth and popped out on the other side and I didn’t care where they ended up. When I felt the last of them surface I turned all of my attention to Gaia. She hadn’t notice that there was nothing left for her to do and was still trying to make the ground do what she wanted.

Gaia, stop. It’s done. Stop! You’re killing yourself! Stop, Dammit!

I growled menacingly when she was still unresponsive. I did something completely reckless and stupid then. I forcefully shoved my power into her, filling her well to the brim and back into her life force. I didn’t stop until I heard a gasp and her hands pulled out from under mine. I quickly stopped and collapsed onto the ground, breathing hard. I had nearly used all of mine to get her out of the spin that she had placed herself in.

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid, I berated myself for my reckless mistake. My arrogance had nearly cost Gaia her life. I should have worked with her more before I asked her to do this.

“Nyx,” Gaia asked quietly.

I rolled onto my back and looked at her, “Yeah?”

“I’m sorry.”

I sat up quickly and said, “I’m the one who’s sorry. I put your life at an unnecessary risk. I didn’t fully explain how to do it. It was reckless, careless, thoughtless, and dangerous for me to do so. I nearly killed you with my arrogance, Gaia. I don’t know what I would’ve done if you had died on my watch. I am so, so sorry.”

“This wasn’t just your fault, Nyx. I was overconfident in my power. I didn’t question you enough since I’ve never done something like this before. I am as much to blame as you are.”

“So we are both sorry, but are we both forgiven?”

“Yes,” she said with finality. “We are both forgiven.”

She hugged me tightly and then let me go.

“Don’t they still need to be activated,” she asked me, already getting back to business.

“Shit, yes,” I exclaimed and reached into my pocket and pulled out the remote switch and activated the bugs.

She had stood up and held out a hand to me. I took it and she helped me up. Gathering up the canister, we quickly made our way back to the truck. When I entered, I pulled out the bunks and made Gaia lay down in one of them. Sitting in front of the screens, I pulled up the feeds from the bugs and all but three had made it to their posts and were already recording. I turned down the volume of the audio and swiveled around in my chair. Gaia was already asleep and I laid a hand on her head and gave a brief prayer of thanks. I climbed up onto my own bunk and fell asleep quickly.

 

I was shoved awake by Gaia and I sat up quickly.

“What is it, Gaia,” I asked with a yawn.

“Ben’s asking for you,” she answered.

I hopped back down and shoved the bunks back into the wall of the truck and sat in the chair.

“Alright, Ben. I’m here.”

“Bout time, boss. The bugs have been sending out some interesting things, but I want you to take a listen and watch something. I’m queuing up your feed right now.”

“Alright,” I said as one of my screens went black and then a view of a room came on. In the middle of the room was a round table with 9 people sitting around it.

Ben zoomed in closer to give me a better view of the people and they were the ones that we had discovered just yesterday.

The feed started playing as I watched and listened.

“Jasper, were you able to get anything more out of that canister,” the human asked.

A tall, lanky, dark headed kid shook his head, “No. There’s nothing more I can get from it. Like I told you before. I was able to isolate the chemicals that made up the gas, but I couldn’t identify most of them. All I can tell you is that the chemicals are plant based, but the database doesn’t have those particular plants on file. The plants are most likely mutated from the radiation. If I went outside and picked up what looks like a daisy and I broke down it’s chemical structure, there’s a good chance it will say that it’s not a daisy. Do you understand what I’m saying here.”

“Yeah, I do. We’ve lost ten more of the adults last night. If we can’t find a cure soon, they will all die. We’ll lose our parents. They’re half of our population. We need their help.”

“I’m sorry, man, but I’ve come up empty. We need to get into contact with their leader. If they developed the gas, you know they have to have the antidote or cure for it. Who in their right mind would create something like this and not have a way to counteract it?”

“That’s enough,” Clarke said. “This is an old argument at this point. We still have no way of getting in contact with this de Pakstoka. It’s too dangerous for us to leave the confines of the shield and we can’t exactly go asking for directions.”

“It’s too dangerous for us humans, you mean,” the human sneered at her, making my hackles rise.

“It’s too dangerous for all of us, Bellamy. Not just you, but for us too. They don’t know who we are. They don’t know how we got here. We may be like them, but that doesn’t mean they’d be willing to talk to us. They may very well be the kind that shoots firsts and asks questions later.”

“Then’s there’s the big ol’ elephant in the room,” a girl said that had her dark hair pulled back into a pony tail. “We killed one of their pack members and she’s lying in our morgue. How can we prove that it was an accident and that the persons who were responsible were punished?”

I paused the play back and looked at Gaia. Her entire body was tense with anger, hell, I was angry too. They killed one of our own. The question was how.

“Easy, Gaia. This pisses me off too, but there’s too much at stake to let our emotions ride us now,” I said gently.

She looked at me and taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, nodded.

We turned back to the feed and I started it up again.

“There’s no way to prove it,” the girl that had been in Old Towne with Clarke said. “I’m not even sure if the punishment was severe enough. If the roles were reversed, would we be satisfied with only two of the people responsible getting a low voltage shock for less then 30 seconds satisfy our need for justice?”

“Unfortunately, no we wouldn’t,” Bellamy said sadly. “In the bunker, we executed people for way less then murder.”

“Exactly, but we just can’t execute five people for accidentally killing a prisoner. They’ve already been removed from the guard and are making new homes in their prison cells.”

“Except for us,” the red headed girl said. “Why aren’t we in there with them, Octavia? I mean Harper and I laughed alongside the rest of them and didn’t try to stop it. Just because we’re like the prisoners, shouldn’t give us exception to the current punishment.”

“As much as I hate to admit that Monroe’s right,” the blonde said, “You shouldn’t make allowances for us, O. It’s not fair.”

Octavia hung her head and said, “You’re right, Harper. I shouldn’t have made allowances. After this meeting is done, we’ll rectify the situation.”

“Thank you.”

“Can we get to the even bigger elephant in the room,” the one black guy asked. “You know, the reason why all 8 of us are really here.”

“The fact that we seem to have powers,” Clarke said quietly.

“And the fact that four of us could be werewolves,” Octavia said.

“We know that Monty, Jasper and I have been intuitively using our powers in the things we’ve done,” the pony tailed girl said. “I mean, none of us have really had any real training and I’m supposed to be a mechanic.”

“So how do the rest of us use ours,” the black guy said. “Do we just stick out our hands and say fire…”

Immediately, fire sprang out of his hand and headed straight towards the pony tailed girl who quickly ducked out of the way and lighting a banner behind her on fire. Octavia immediately sent a stream of water at the lit banner, dousing the flame. Of course, everyone in her path were immediately drenched.

Nobody moved as what had just happened sunk in their heads.

Then, “That is so cool,” Jasper yelled and immediately got up to examine the banner.

“What the hell just happened,” Bellamy asked fearfully.

“Nobody move,” Clarke yelled as they all began to get out of their seats.

They all sat back down reluctantly.

“Well, that answers that question,” said the only the one that hadn’t spoken so far. “There’s a thought process to using our powers. We’re going to have to figure out some way to learn control or the next time Nate yells fire, he’ll light the place up.”

“I most certainly agree to that,” Clarke said fearfully. “I have no desire to rain you-know-what over the camp.”

Here, here’s went around the room.

“This is absolutely fucking insane,” Bellamy yelled and scrambled out of his chair. “You have super powers! No, no! It’s impossible! You’re freaks! You’re fucking freaks! I’m outta here.”

He took maybe two steps before Harper, Monroe, and Nate tackled him to the ground.

He struggled beneath their combined weight as Clarke walked up to them.

Kneeling down, Clarke said, “I’m sorry, Bellamy, but we can’t let you tell anybody. For everyone’s sake. We’re really sorry it has to be this way.” She stood up and told the three, “Take him to the psychiatric ward. Have the doctors tranq him and put him in a straight jacket. We can’t let him get out.”

“No! No! No! You can’t do this to me! No,” he screamed as they hauled him to his feet and dragged him out of the room.

And that’s where the feed ended.

“When was this, Ben,” I asked.

“This morning around 7. Why?”

“Have you shown this to anybody else?”

“No. Again why?”

“Things are a lot worse than any of us originally thought, Ben. We essentially attacked first. They took prisoners because of it. Then they kill a pack member through callousness. Now, they’re locking up their friend to keep him from speaking out.”

“They’re getting desperate,” Gaia said.

“They’re afraid and don’t know what they’re doing,” Ben replied.

“And we also know where they came from,” I said.

“Where?”

“There’s an underground bunker underneath the town hall. They’ve been living there since the apocalypse. And there’s more than a hundred humans.”

“Is this enough information to give to Lexa,” Gaia asked.

“Yes, but Gaia, do you know what gas canister they’re talking about,” I asked.

“No, but Mother would know.”

“Okay,” I said and then addressed Ben, “Hold off telling her for a little bit longer. I still need more information before I present her with this.”

“I don’t like it, but okay. We need to inform her today, though,” he said.

“Won’t be a problem,” I said and let his line go.

“Let me get ahold of Mother,” Gaia said and pulled out her communicator.

She put it on speaker so that we could both speak to her.

“Gaia,” a gravely woman’s voice answered. “Is everything working alright between you and Nyx?”

“Yes, Mother,” Gaia replied. “But we’ve run into a bit of a situation that we need clarification on. Can you help us?”

“If I can. What is it?”

“We’ve learned that after the first team disappeared, the second team launched some kind of canister into the invaders’ camp. Do you know what would be in that canister?”

“As a matter of fact, I do. It’s a neurotoxin that inhibits the use of powers. It’s temporary, but it’s become standard protocol. If we encounter a foreign group, we send one team in. If that team is met with resistance or in this case, disappears, the second team fires the canister into the enemy and then comes in to deal with the problem.”

“Indra, it’s good to hear your voice, but I have another question. Do you know if the creator of the neurotoxin ever tested the affects on humans?”

“Oh, Nyx, it is so good to hear you again. I’ve missed you. In answer to your question, I don’t know. The chemist who created it only passed on the information of what it would do to powers. I’m sorry.”

“I’ve missed you too, Indra. I’ve missed our training sessions. But thank you for clarifying the canister for me.”

“You’re welcome. Are our people still alive?”

“They are for now. I’m sorry, Indra, but you know it’s not my place to tell.”

“I understand. You know, you were one of my best students, Nyx.”

Smiling, I replied, “And I’ve used your training well. I’m afraid this is as much time as I have to speak with you, Indra. I’ll try and visit after this is over.”

“I look forward to your visit, Nyx. Until then.”

“Until then,” I replied and ended the communication.

“Now, what,” Gaia asked.

“Now, we tell her and find out what’s in the neurotoxin. It may be the key to everything,” I replied. “Hey, Ben?”

“Yeah?”

“It’s time to talk.”

“Alright. I’ll have her sent for.”

“Why can’t you say her name,” Gaia asked me suddenly.

“Say who’s name,” I replied, even though I knew exactly who she was talking about.

“Lexa’s. You only refer to her as her, she, or Ms. Devereux. What are you afraid of?”

“Afraid,” I said, looking at her. “I’m not afraid.”

“Then say her name.”

“No, it’s unprofessional. I have a reputation to maintain.”

“Out here you don’t. Tell me her name.”

Defeatedly, I said, “I can’t bring myself to.”

“I’m your friend, Nyx. Tell me why, please.”

I wrestled with myself as to explain exactly it was that I refused to say her name. I knew why, but did I really want to admit that I still cared for her. Still love her.

“Because I’m afraid to.”

“Why are you afraid?”

“She broke my heart, Gaia. I can’t put myself through that again. It nearly killed me the first time,” I said as tears threatened.

“You still love her, don’t you,” she asked as realization dawned on her.

“For all that I wish it wasn’t so, yes, I still love her. Even after everything, I still love her,” I finally admitted.

Gaia hugged me then, “I’m so sorry, Nyx.”

“Thank you,” I whispered.

“Nyx,” Lexa’s voice sounded through the communicator.

I sniffed and wiped the few tears that had fallen down my face and replied, “We’re here.”

“You have information for me?”

“Yeah, we do. There’s a video feed you need to watch, but I’ll give you the details.”

“Alright.”

“The biggest question that needed answering was how such a large community of humans made it to the middle of your lands. The answer is that they’ve always been here, but no one ever knew it. There’s a huge underground bunker underneath the town hall. They’ve lived there for the past 83 years.”

“But why reemerge now?”

“My guess is that maybe their resources were nearly out. Those places were built to only last so long.”

“So I’ve had an underground bunker filled with humans in my land this entire time.”

“Yes. When they suddenly appeared, as with all appearances of invaders, a team was sent to investigate. For whatever reason, they decided to capture the team. Then a second team was dispatched, but this time they had something with them.”

“The canister of neurotoxin.”

“Yes. And from what Indra passed on to me, it’s designed to inhibit our powers when breathed in. Correct?”

“Yes.”

“And since I highly doubt your chemist or anybody really thought about using it against humans, the effects on them aren’t known.”

“That’s right, we didn’t even consider them, because there are so few of them and there’s never more then 20 seen together.”

“Right. Well, we kinda know now. It’s killing them. Specifically the adults. It doesn’t seem to harm anyone below a certain age. Looking over the camp, they’re all pretty much kids. The oldest may be in their early-mid twenties.”

“Which means that their leader or leaders are unable to perform their duties.”

“Yeah, so there are a bunch of kids who don’t what they’re doing leading their people.”

“Did you by chance find out what happened to number 20,” she asked trepidatiously.

“We did. I’m sorry to say that she’s dead.”

“How?”

“From what I can deduce, they’ve placed shock collars on your people that were in wolf form when they were captured, probably your men, too. A group of five individuals thought it would be fun to shock her multiple times. They ended up killing her.”

“They murdered one of my people,” she accused, voice filled with fury.

“Yes.”

“They will pay for this!”

“I understand. The leaders have them currently locked up, including two of their own.”

“What else,” she growled.

“They locked up the human that was part of their leadership. They’ve discovered how to use their powers and he freaked out and tried to leave the room. They caught him and he’s currently in a psychiatric ward, bundled up so that he can’t talk. We believe that they may be getting desperate.”

“And desperate people do stupid things,” she replied, sounding slightly more relaxed.

“That’s my fear.”

“Do you think we can keep it from getting that far?”

“I believe so. If we gave them a cure to treat the adults we should be able to get your people back. A trade.”

“Would that be enough?”

“To get your people back, yes. Though we have the other issue to deal with.”

“What do we do with the humans?”

“Right. That is something you need to discuss with your people. You also need to get in touch with the chemist who designed the neurotoxin and get them working on a cure.”

“She’s going to have to use a human.”

“Does it matter really, it’s only a human.”

“That is true.”

“See if the chemist can give us something in the mean time that could possibly slow the death down. Maybe the stuff that your people use to counteract the neurotoxin if they accidentally come into contact with it?”

“I’ll speak with her about that. What are you thinking?”

“If we give them that, we can negotiate to have her body returned to us along with her partner.”

“I like it. Just keep monitoring the situation and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”

“We will and thank you.”

“Okay, now I am officially bored,” Gaia said with a laugh.

“Welcome to the fabulous world of information gathering. Usually, I can just let this run by itself and do other things, like take on a new case that is easily dealt with or other things. Unfortunately, that is not the case here. There’s nothing to occupy us.”

“Feel like a run?”

“Might as well,” I said looking at the screens. “It doesn’t look like there’s much to worry about in the human camp. Let’s go.”

I made sure my ear piece was in and we were off running through the forest. Sometimes we even headed near the camp to run over cleared ground. I don’t know how many miles we ran, but we didn’t stop until the moon was starting to rise.

We rested on the ridge watching as it rose above the tree line. It was nearing to becoming a full moon. Seeing that, something trembled within me and my chest tightened.

Gaia, what month is it?

September, why?

Look at the moon.

I am. It’s almost full.

And what time of the year is coming up?

The fall eq…jok!

Yeah, one of the few times a year that we’re forced to change.

And if those shock collars are on the men when it happens, it’ll kill them.

Exactly. And when the humans see the change…

They’ll kill them and the four weres they have.

We have to warn them.

How?

I’ll pay them a visit tomorrow. Everyone will start feeling the urge to shift then.

Is it safe?

It’s not a matter of safety. It’s a matter of life and death.

Then let’s head back. The sooner you get there tomorrow, the sooner we’ll keep everyone alive.

Agreed.

We ran back to the truck with all due haste.

The next morning, I checked the feeds to see where Clarke was at. Luckily, it looked like she wasn’t in the bunker, so she’d be easy enough to find. At the same time, we started to feel the effects of the Harvest Moon. We both felt like thousands of ants were crawling all over us, making our body constantly shiver to remove the feeling. I ignored it as best as I could and ate a quick breakfast. Gaia helped me take the bike down. With a final wish of good luck, I was speeding towards their camp and at the same time enjoying jumping the bike over the ridges. Too soon it was over and I stopped within yelling distance of the camp.

“I need to speak with your leader,” I yelled up at the guards.

“Who are you,” a guard yelled down.

“Someone who is trying to end this situation you’ve found yourselves in! Just get your leader! Now!”

He turned away and I started pacing back and forth trying to ease the constant body shivering. Ten minutes later, I heard the shield go down and the gate open. I turned around and I froze. Seeing Clarke, out here where she was more comfortable, only seemed to enhance how beautiful I thought she was. My mind recalled the curves of her body and they way it moved as I ran my hands and lips across it. I swallowed thickly as I looked into her eyes. She stood there just as mesmerized as I was. We probably looked like idiots, but in that one sweet moment, I didn’t care. I wanted her again and so did my wolf.

She broke the spell first by saying, “Nyx? You’re Nyx, right?”

I coughed and rolled my neck as I replied, “Hi, Clarke. My name’s Nyx. I’m glad you remembered.”

She walked over to me and looked at me strangely and asked, “What are you doing here?”

“I, um, I,” I suddenly found myself tongue tied, but gained enough composure to finish, “de Pakstoka hired me to get her people back.”

“Are you here to negotiate then?”

“Not at this time. I’m here for a different reason. It’s rather important, I’m afraid.”

My body took that moment and shivered as I closed my eyes and shook my body a little.

“Are you okay,” she asked concerned.

“It’s the, um, reason why I’m here,” I replied. “The Harvest Moon will be here in a couple of days. It’s one of the few times werewolves are forced to shift.”

“So, they really are werewolves and you’re one, too?”

“Yes and so are your friends. I know that you’ve placed shock collars on the men and wolves. If you leave them on the night of the Harvest Moon, you’ll kill them. The shift changes our whole bodies and the neck is one of the more important places. Any kind of constriction there will kill them, because they cannot fight the change like we can at the summer and winter solstices.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because I know about the girl. I don’t think you’d want 10 more unnecessary deaths on your hand.”

“How do you know that,” she asked suddenly fearful.

“From the Priestess,” I lied. “She felt the girl’s Spirit pass into the everlasting embrace of Mother Earth.”

“Wait, that was real. They weren’t lying?”

“Ergh, weres never lie about Mother Earth. She is everything to us.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend,” she apologized quickly.

I smiled to put her at ease, “I can’t take offense if the person does not know it was offensive.”

“What is it you think I can do?”

“You have humans in your camp, yes?”

“Yes.”

“How do you think they will react when ten prisoners and your friends suddenly shift?”

“Oh, God. They’ll kill them.”

“Yes and if they do, de Pakstoka will be forced to act in kind.”

“So…”

“You need to keep your humans away from the werewolves. The shift will happen a couple of hours before the moon reaches its zenith and end a couple of hours after. On top of that, they need to run and maybe one or two other things depending.”

“Run? You know I can’t let them outside the gate.”

“Why not? It would certainly ease this particular situation. They leave, you no longer have to worry about them. If you willingly let them go, de Pakstoka would be more willing to negotiate possibly allowing all of you to stay here.”

“Because my people are dying. Her people poisoned my people. I’m not willing to let her people go without saving my own, Nyx.”

“I understand, Clarke. I do. She would do the same if the roles were reversed. I had to ask. But the fact remains the pack needs to run. If they can’t do it outside the gates, then find someplace they can inside. If you don’t want them running rampant through your camp, find the strongest one and they’ll follow their orders.”

“Strongest one?”

I rolled my shoulders and neck as I replied, “There’s always a member that is the strongest. You’ll see the pack show more deference. They’ll be more submissive to them. If the person scares them enough, they might even bare their necks to them, offering their lives to the person. Much like wolves do in the wild.”

She nodded in understanding and then asked, “Nyx, when we met at the bar did you know?”

“Did I know what? That you’re a lightening mage, yes. It’s hard not to notice with all the discharge.”

“Discharge?”

“Think of it like building up a static charge. When you rub your feet on carpet it builds up and when you touch something metallic or another person, it discharges. That’s what you were inadvertently doing because you were nervous during your stay in Old Towne. You’re power is uncommon, so when we come across one, it’s a very intimate and somewhat sensual feeling, we enjoy it.”

“I have another question.”

“Hmm?”

“What was in the canister?”

I sighed, I knew she would want to know, “It’s a neurotoxin that was developed by a Forest Pack chemist. It’s designed to inhibit the areas of the brain where our powers and telepathy dwell. It’s usually temporary to people like us.”

“Did they know the affects it would have on normal people?”

“No. Humans are rare now. After the apocalypse, mages and weres began appearing more and more until we became the apex predator. Humans are seen as a subspecies and treated as such. We’d rather kill a human then have to interact with them.”

“You hate them that much?”

I shrugged, “It would be considered par for the course. When humans were the majority they hunted and killed weres and then turned us into myths. We’ve been around as long as humans have and now the tables have turned. The largest grouping of humans we’ve had until now has been no more then 20. I couldn’t tell you how many are left in the world. When we do encounter a human in the city, they have owners.”

“They’re treated like slaves?”

“Yes, and it’s for their protection. If they didn’t have owners they would be killed. It’s how they survive.”

“Do you own one?”

I looked at her horrified, “God, no! I wouldn’t touch them with a ten-foot pole.”

“Isn’t that prejudicial?”

“It’s just the way things are now. When it comes to your humans, I don’t know what to tell you. They’re your humans.”

“My humans?”

“You’re their leader. You’re a lightening mage. They are under your protection; you and the other mages and weres. They are yours, pure and simple.”

My ear buzzed and Ben’s voice came through, “Nyx, you’re needed back at the truck. Lexa has arranged a meeting that you need to be at.”

I sighed and said, “Clarke, I know you have a lot of questions about what the world’s like now, but I have to leave. Just figure out a way to keep the humans and weres apart on the Harvest Moon. If you don’t, there’ll be blood on your hands.”

“But…”

“I’m sorry, I got to go. I hope to see you again soon,” I stepped closer and whispered, “and when I say see you, I mean all of you.”

Before she had a chance to say anything, I was on my bike and riding away.

Chapter Text

I stood there as she rode away on her bike, trying to grasp everything she had told me, but I was having a real hard time because of the last words she spoke. When I saw her just standing there when I came out of the gate, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She looked even better in the sunlight then the dim lighting of the bar. When you looked at her, she didn’t appear to have any softness. That she was all muscle and hard lines, but when I remembered the way her skin had felt and the roundness of her breasts and ass, there was softness. Seeing her again, I wanted to find that softness under that dangerous exterior. I wanted her, pure and simple.

The communicator beeped breaking me out of my daydreams and I reluctantly answered it as I headed back through the gates.

“Yeah,” I said

“You’ve been out there a long time,” Raven said.

“Yeah, sorry about that. She was answering a lot of questions that I had.”

“That looked a lot more then just a bit of Q&A, Clarke.”

“Ahem, well, it’s complicated.”

“Okay, I get it. I’ll drop it for the moment, but I’ll get it out of you sooner or later. What was so important that she was here anyway?”

“Get the others and meet me in the Council Room,” I said as I picked up my pace.

“Alright, must be pretty important if you’re speed walking.”

“Stop watching me and get everyone there,” I said irritably.

She laughed and I hung up the communicator.

I beat everyone to the room, so I started pacing to try and regain control over my body and calm my mind. Not ten minutes with her and I oh so wanted to do things that I never imagined to her, with her. I shook my head again trying to dispel her from my mind.

Soon everyone came into the room and took their seats and waited on me. I took a deep breath and sat down.

“So, that was Nyx,” Octavia said with a sly smile.

I gave her a dirty look, but she ignored it.

“That was Nyx, the Enforcer that the Commander had recommended to us. She was hired by the Forest Pack’s leader to help get her people back.”

“So, was she here to open negotiations,” Monty asked.

I shook my head, “No. She wanted me to be aware of a potential lethal situation.”

“And that is?”

“The full moon is in a few days. The Harvest Moon. She told me that it happens around the Fall Equinox.”

“That’s right,” Raven said.

“Well, it’s a big deal here. She confirmed that our prisoners are indeed werewolves and that the four of you are also werewolves. How she knows, I don’t know. Anyway, she told me that during the Harvest Moon, werewolves are forced to shift. They can’t get around it. That there’s four times in a year that werewolves are forced to shift; Spring and Fall Equinox and Summer and Winter Solstice. Though during the solstices, they can fight the shift. Again, don’t know why.”

“What does this mean for the prisoners?”

“There are a few dangers. One, is that if they have the shock collars on them when they shift, it will kill them. Two, they won’t be able to shift back for about four hours. Two before the zenith and two after. Thirdly, and the most important is that our people can’t see them shift.”

“They would kill them,” Octavia said quietly.

I nodded, “And they would probably kill the four of you as well.”

“So, what do we do? We can’t let them out of the gates and we can’t let our people see them.”

“We have to come up with a way to keep our people away from them,” Raven said, thinking. “The best place would be inside the bunker. Come up with some excuse and bar the door to keep everyone from leaving during that time period.”

“That was my thinking. There’s another issue at hand in regards to the mandatory shift. They need to run during that time. Nyx didn’t have time to explain why, but if I hazard a guess, it’s to get rid of excess energy. Wear themselves down enough to shift back.”

I looked out at everyone as they sat there thinking about the problem and noticed that Nate and Octavia were acting similar to Nyx. They were already beginning to have issues, which meant the prisoners were too.

“Octavia, Nate, what you’re feeling is the same as what Nyx was exhibiting when I was talking to her. I believe she told me it was because the Harvest Moon is in a few days. A build up of energy or something like that.”

“I though I was going crazy,” Octavia said as she breathed through a body tremor. “This feels like torture. Like my body is covered in ants.”

“Same here,” Nate replied. “Harper and Monroe must be going nuts in their cells.”

“Unfortunately, what you’re feeling isn’t going to be the worst of it,” I said. “You guys will be shifting for the first time. None of us knows how that’s going to feel like and the prisoners aren’t talking, so we can’t ask them.”

“Are you for real,” Octavia exclaimed.

“I’m for very real. So, any ideas on how we can let the prisoners run around for four hours?”

“If our people are safe and snug in the bunker, we can let them run the perimeter of the camp. It wouldn’t be wise to let them run through it,” said Monty. “The question is how do we keep control of where they run?”

“Nyx had an answer for that too. She said to find the strongest werewolf and have them command the pack.”

“So, who do you think the strongest prisoner is,” Octavia asked.

Carefully, I said, “I don’t think a prisoner is the strongest, Octavia. I think you are.”

“What now?!”

“Think about it. What happened when you began yelling at the guards over the girl’s torture?”

“Um, Harper and Monroe immediately backed down and they and nearby prisoners showed me their throats.”

“And you got two of the prisoners to come and do the body scans.”

“Okay, so?”

“Submissive wolves will often offer up their throats as tribute to appease the dominate wolf,” Jasper supplied. “It’s like saying in ultimate fashion, ‘I’m sorry that I pissed you off, here’s my life if it will make you feel better.’”

“Oh. Crap,” she said. “I’m a pack leader?”

Everyone nodded and Nate said, “I could have told you that, O.”

She made a face at him, making him laugh.

“How do we know that we’re the only werewolves in camp,” she asked as a sudden thought occurred.

“Shit, you’re right. We don’t know,” Raven said. “We’re just assuming here.”

“We need to come up with a way and fast, because we can’t just announce saying if you feel like your skin is crawling with ants please report to medical.”

“No, but I think I’ve got a better idea,” said Monty. “We’ll build something like those metal detectors that used to be in airports, remember. But instead of searching for metal, we use the brain scan and set it to only pinpoint those two areas of the brain. If it beeps twice, we know we have another werewolf. If it beeps once, we may have another mage.”

“That’s perfect,” Raven said. “We set them up at the entrance to the bunker and we have everybody go through them. Then we pull aside those that make the machine beep and let the others through.”

“We also have to make all the medical staff and technicians down there go through it too,” I said thinking out loud. “How soon can you have them built and operational?”

“Less then a day. We already have a couple of metal detectors here. It wouldn’t be hard to swipe the programming out of the sensors and recalibrate to look at those two spots in the brain.”

“Then do it. Once it’s operational we’ll have people start going through them anyways and pulling them off to the side to have a quiet conversation.”

“I like it,” Jasper said as he rubbed his hands together gleefully.

“You would,” Octavia groaned and my body shuddered again. “This is pure agony. Can someone just tranq me for a few hours?”

“Me too,” Nate pleaded.

Everyone exchanged looks and I said, “Okay.”

Chapter Text

A few hours later, I woke up in a hospital ward that we’d all trooped to. It was a blissful sleep without the constant feeling like my skin was trying to dislodge insects. I looked around and saw that Nate, Harper, and Monroe were still sleeping off the tranq. I also saw about five other people sleeping as well. Apparently, while I had been out, Monty and Raven had gotten the scanners up and running. The door opened and another kid walked in with Clarke and Jasper right behind her.

“Hey, you’re up,” Clarke said as she came over to me. “How’re you feeling?”

“Better,” I replied, “I’m trying not to jinx it. So we now have ten werewolves?”

“So, far,” Clarke replied as Jasper helped the girl lay down before he tranq’d her.

“Any more mages?”

“Four. We’ve taken them aside and shown them their brain scans. We’ve also explained the importance of keeping it to themselves, death vs life importance. When they wake up, it’ll be your turn to explain why they’re here and what’s going to happen soon.”

I flopped back onto my pillow, “Why couldn’t Bellamy have been a werewolf, too. Then I could pass the buck.”

She laughed, “I don’t think it works that way, O. You’re just gonna have to put on your big girl panties and get it done.”

“You’ve been watching those old tv shows again, haven’t you?”

“Maybe…”

I laughed, “Maybe, my ass. That’s the only time those weird ass sayings come out of your mouth.”

She stuck her tongue out at me and I threw my pillow at her. She caught it then refused to give it back. She played keep away from me for a bit and it was nice to let the stress of everything go for a bit, but then the antsy feeling was back and I groaned in displeasure, she handed it back and I crawled back onto the bed feeling absolutely miserable.

“You are so lucky, you don’t have to go through this, Clarke,” I mumbled through the pillow. “How the hell do these people deal with this four times a year.”

“Probably because it’s only four times a year,” Clarke said as she sat on the bed across from me. “But I also think they have other ways to keep their minds off of it.”

“Like what?”

“Don’t know. Nyx didn’t get into that.”

“Speaking of Nyx,” I said as I sat back up, “She couldn’t take her eyes off of you.”

Clarke blushed, “I couldn’t either. There’s just something about her that defies explanation. Honestly, I was surprised that she remembered me. The way the staff at the hotel made it seem that she took girls to that room a lot and never the same one.”

“Wow, she’s a real horn dog. You must have made some impression on her if she kept looking at you like that.”

Clarke laughed, “Like I’ll ever know.”

I shrugged, “You never know.”

“Whatever, O. Don’t try to play matchmaker.”

“I’m not, I swear,” I said laughing. “I’m just telling you what I saw. She’s got the hots for you.”

She made a face and then the communicator on her waist beeped. She looked at and said, “Make that five mages. I’ve got to run. I’ll check on you later.”

“Okay, don’t forget to feed us,” I said as another shudder went through my body.

“I won’t,” she replied and closed the door behind her.

 

In the end, we had 13 werewolves and 9 mages total. Somehow, we’d been able to cycle through the entire unaffected people in camp in a matter of hours. It was decided that us werewolves would stay in the room, until it was time to head out to join the prisoners and shift for the first time.

“Octavia,” a small red head asked, “what’s going on? Why are we all here?”

A chorus of yeahs went around and I sighed at the idea that I was going to have to explain. Surprisingly, Nate came over and joined me on the bed and Harper and Monroe sat on the beds next to us. The rest gathered around the four of us and waited.

“Alright. This is going to sound crazy, insane, ridiculous and out of this world,” I started. “But what I’m about to tell you is the honest truth. A couple of nights ago, did any of you feel like you were gently pulled into the ground and then hear a voice?”

Everyone nodded.

“What happened was real. It wasn’t imagined. We weren’t part of a mass hysterical moment. So, you can relax in regards to that. Now, how you ended up in this room with the four of us is slightly more complicated, but I’ll try to explain it as clearly as possible. When the apocalypse happened 83 years ago, humans mutated, in two very different ways. Nearly everyone became a mage, having control of different elements like fire, water, earth, and air.”

I turned to Nate and asked, “You’ve been practicing more than I have, can you show them.”

He nodded and held out his hand, palm up. As he stared at it a small ball of flame began to grow in his palm. Everyone gasped and leaned away. He then shrunk the fire until there was nothing left.

“That’s what I mean by mage. All of us here have similar powers. After our stint in this room is over, we’ll do another brain scan and figure out what power you have.”

“Do you all have powers, too,” another kid asked.

“Yes. I’m a water mage, Harper is a wind/air mage, and Monroe is an earth mage.”

“So, are those the only type of mages?”

“No, so far the only other power that we’ve discovered are techno mages. Those are the ones that can manipulate technology. Raven and Monty are both techno mages.”

“So, what makes us different from other mages,” a third asked.

“We also have telepathy. Meaning we can speak mind to mind. It’s how we heard that voice. Because we have both powers and telepathy that is what makes us really different. We’re werewolves. For those that don’t know the stories or the myths, they are people that can shift into wolves.”

“Awesome,” someone in the back said loudly.

I cracked a smile, “You say that now, but it may not be so when the full moon gets here.”

“Why is the full moon important,” the small redhead asked.

“It’s not so much that it’s a full moon. From what was explained, this full moon is special. It’s called the Harvest Moon and it’s called that because it happens near the Fall Equinox.”

“What’s so special about it?”

“It’s one of four times a year a werewolf is forced to shift. All of us here will be shifting for the first time and we don’t know what to expect. Before it’s time to shift we’ll join the prisoners. Hopefully, they will help us through it. After we shift, we’ll run around the perimeter of the camp for four hours.”

“That’s a long time,” someone said.

“I think it’s necessary,” I said thinking. “From the way I’m feeling right now, it feels like I have too much energy and that thousands of ants crawling over us is our bodies way of trying to get rid of the excess until we can fully shift and get it out of our system.”

“That makes sense,” one of the older kids said. “I know that when I seem to have a lot of energy to burn, my body keeps wanting to move to get rid of it, but this is like a hundred times worse. And you say we have to deal with it four times a year?”

“Yeah. Summer and Winter Solstice, Spring and Fall Equinox. Apparently, the solstices aren’t as bad and we can fight the shift.”

The door opened up and Clarke, Raven, Monty, and Jasper entered pushing trays in front of them, laden with food. My mouth began to water as the aromas filled the air.

“Dinner is served,” Clarke said with a smile.

“Thanks,” I said and I addressed everyone, “Go ahead and eat.”

“Um, we think you and Nate should get first dibs,” the redhead said.

“Why is that?”

“Aren’t you our pack leader and Nate is like your second in command or something?”

I looked at Nate and he was as surprised as I was. I turned back to her and asked, “What do you mean?”

“She means,” the older kid said, “Is that you’re both giving off that dominant vibe. His is less then yours. And none of us get that kind of vibe from anyone else, just you two. I can tell you, we won’t eat until you get the first pickings. You do want us to eat, don’t you?”

“Alright, then. No sense in arguing with the masses,” I replied and got up.

Nate and I grabbed plates and loaded up on food. We seemed more partial to the meats, but grabbed fruits, vegetables and bread to even it out. When we sat back down, the rest filed along the carts and got their own food.

I started eating the steak and I made a face and asked, “Does anyone else feel like the meat is over cooked?”

“Yeah, I do,” Nate commented, “But I think we’re going to have to suck it up this time. We need to eat.”

I made a face at him and forced myself to finish the meats on my plate. When we were all done and the questions were all answered, Clarke and Jasper all tranq’d us so that we could sleep through the night.

 

The morning of the Harvest Moon, we all woke up feeling as if we wanted to rip the skin off of ourselves. It was absolutely pure torture. None of us really wanted to move, because if we moved, it would make it worse.

“God, can’t this be over and done with,” Harper complained from her bed. “My skin feels like it’s being eaten alive.

One of the youngest girls whimpered in pain, so I got up slowly and with many deep breaths and groans of my own went to her. I pulled her into my arms and we both lay on her bed. She calmed down immediately, even her shivering lessened. Mine did, too. Almost as if being in contact with someone lessened the sensations.

“Hey guys,” I called out. “Find someone and cuddle with them, I think it helps ease the whole skin sensation crap. I know it’s weird and a little off putting, but give it a go.”

The room came alive as they searched for someone to cuddle with.

“Ooh, you’re right,” Monroe said, “It does help. Maybe now some of us can get a little bit more rest.”

“Amen to that, sister,” someone called out.

When Clarke came into the room awhile later, she stopped short as she took us in. I waved my arm and her face brightened and walked quickly over to me.

“What’s all this,” she asked.

“We have, um, discovered that cuddling helps control the shivering sensation. We all woke up feeling ten times worse this morning. How are the prisoners doing?”

“I had to take the shock collars off of them last night. They were starting to dig around their necks to get them off. They’re locked in their barracks for the day, even have the wolves in there with them.”

“That’s a smart move, Clarke,” I said and then looked at the girl in my arms and said, “Hey, sweetheart, I need to get up for a bit and talk to Clarke privately. I know it’ll kick back up again, but I’ll be feeling it too. I promise, I’ll be back as soon as I can, okay?”

She nodded and closed her eyes tight as I got up. I took Clarke to just outside the door, shutting it.

“I don’t think I can do this, Clarke. I’m not a leader,” I said, suddenly fearful.

She laid a hand on my shoulder, making me squirm, and replied, “Octavia, you’ve got this. If you hadn’t notice, everyone in that room has been listening to you. You’re not demanding. You’re not being cruel. You’re not acting like they’re beneath you. They are responding to that.”

“Yeah, but we all grew up together. They know me. But, how do I know that the prisoners will treat me the same way?”

“They already do, O. They’ve been listening to you. They also look at you when you’re walking around, like they’re waiting for you to say or do something. I know you’ll do fine tonight.”

“I wish I had your faith, but I’m scared.”

“It’s alright to be scared. Hell, I’m scared too. All of us are. We’re doing things that we never imagined ourselves doing. I never imagined becoming the de facto leader and yet, here I am stumbling through the whole mess. I’m just glad our people haven’t been seriously injured or killed on my watch.”

I grinned, “I guess we both have a lot to learn about ourselves.”

“Yes, now you better get back inside, you’re practically vibrating,” Clarke said and gave me a quick hug. “You’ve got this, O.”

I nodded and hurried over to my cuddle partner. We both sighed in relief when the sensation eased.

 

It was probably an hour before it would start that we headed out to the gate. The prisoners were already there, milling about, waiting.

Walking up to them I said, “It’s clear. There are no humans outside of the bunker. If you want to shift, you can.”

They all nodded and some of them shifted immediately. It was weird seeing them shift, but I wasn’t put off seeing it. It was oddly comforting to watch, knowing that I’d be doing that soon too. We stayed separate for the time being as we all waited for the appointed hour to arrive.

A scream tore through the air and I looked to see who had screamed. It was one of the youngest ones. She was curled up on herself and as I watched horrified, I was witnessing what a first shift looked like and it looked so painful, I had to swallow the fear bubbling up in my chest. Some of the prisoners went over to her and started to comfort her through the change. Then another scream and another filled the air until that was all that was heard. The prisoners all crowded around us, giving us comfort. Nate and I were the last to start the shift and when it hit, we screamed just as loudly.

The pain was something I could have never imagined. My bones felt like they were breaking into a million pieces, my organs screamed as something was happening to them. I could start feeling my body contort and things started to recede as other things came out. I must have blacked out at some point, because I came to when I felt several snouts nudging me awake. They helped me stand on shaky legs and when I was standing on my own, they left. I opened my eyes and the world seemed sharper, more intense. I shook my body and it was such a weird feeling. I looked around me and it looked like there were wolves every where even though there were only 32 of us. There was such a myriad of colors, but I could quickly see the difference between my pack and the prisoners.

One of the prisoners walked up to me and inclined his head.

Pakstoka, I am Charlie. You tried to save my sister Jessamine. May I ask how you are feeling?

Pakstoka?

It is the title that is given to pack leaders.

Oh. I’m feeling odd, Charlie. Is this normal?

For first time shifters, yes. The first shift is always the most painful. The next time you shift, you will hardly feel any pain at all.

I nodded my head and he grinned at me.

Pakstoka, it is nearly time for the run. May the Forest Pack join yours?

Absolutely.

Then we are yours to command this night.

Everyone started to surround me and I felt the urge to cower, but I fought it off. Taking a deep breath, I looked everyone in the eyes.

I guess I should lay out some ground rules. When we begin the run, we will be running along the perimeter of the camp only. No one and I mean no one is allowed to enter the camp proper. I don’t think the humans would take too kindly to seeing things destroyed, even if it was on accident. Don’t be afraid to let loose a little, but keep in mind that we’re here to enjoy a run, not beat each other up or hurt one another. Be respectful of those around you. If one of you sees someone fall, stop and help them back up. This is a four hour run. After that we shift back and head back to our rooms for the night. Am I understood?

The prisoners responded with ‘yes, Pakstoka,’ while my pack responded in the affirmative. I looked up at the moon and could somehow tell that we were mere minutes from the beginning of the run. With an unspoken command, everyone began shaking themselves loose and lining up along the perimeter. I automatically headed towards the front, Nate and Charlie not far behind me. When it was time, we started off slow as the first shifters got used to how our bodies now moved in wolf form. Then we started running faster.

When the urge was great, I hollered back to them, Alright, let’s have some fun!

There was a cacophony of yips and howls and I felt a grin on my face as I let loose and enjoy what it felt like to be a wolf. The wind through my fur felt exquisite. The pounding of my paws hitting the ground, the smells in the air, and the pure joy from the packs were all music to my ears. I looked around me and saw that besides running, they were leaping over one another, chasing each other, and just playing around. I joined in the fun and soon time seemed to lose all meaning. Once the run had gone on for a while, I noticed that wolves would pair off and move just off of the path we were creating. I looked around for Charlie and saw him a dozen or so feet ahead of me. I put on a burst of speed and came out alongside him. He looked over at me with a grin.

Enjoying yourself, Pakstoka?

I am, thank you. I have a question though, why are some of you pairing off and leaving the run?

Ah, yes. They are shedding the energy in a different way. There is something you must understand about the Forest Pack. We all have a healthy appetite for sex. Until we mate for life, we have many partners because it is a need that has to be constantly filled. I believe the longest anyone has gone without sex has been two months. We can abstain for a couple of weeks before the urges require us to find a partner for the night.

Realization hit me and I wanted to facepalm.

So, that’s why Nyx has her own hotel room in Old Towne. She really is a horn dog. Damn, I didn’t know that there was a reason behind it. I just thought she enjoyed it too much.

Wait. Are you speaking about Nyx Allistar?

Yes. Clarke, our leader, met and spent a night with her. Why do you ask?

Eight years ago there was an incident that cost many lives, including de Pakstoka’s siblings. They blamed her for betraying the pack and she was banished and a kill order was placed on her for it.

Huh? Well, she’s back now. Clarke informed me that Nyx was hired to help bring you all home. She was just here the other day to warn us about tonight.

I am glad. She was/is very well liked among most of the pack. She is legendary.

Why is that?

She is called Stokripa, the demon wolf. She is very powerful and before you ask it is because she carries five powers, excluding the telepathy.

Five powers?

Yes, but no one knows exactly what they are. It’s a closely guarded secret. Not even the Coalition knows the true extent of what she is or they would imprison her for the rest of her life.

That must make her very dangerous.

It does. She was de Pakstoka’s Second, but the incident happened and she is who she is now.

Sounds like she got the raw end of the deal if it wasn’t her fault.

It is, but come. You are supposed to be having fun, not discussing the past.

Very well, Charlie. Enjoy your fun.

He took off again and lost myself in thoughts about what Charlie had told me. I was brought back when someone bit my neck aggressively and I growled and snapped my teeth at them. He tried again and I bit him at the shoulder. He yelped, but he had a look of determination that I just did not like. I ran at him and pinned him against the wall, growling and snarling at him. I felt some of the wolves stop and surround us as the others continued to run.

What’s going on, Nate asked.

This one seems to think that it’s okay to bite me even after I told him no.

He tried to take advantage of you?

Yes.

One of the Forest Pack came and stood beside me and looking down at the wolf said, William, you do realize that this is their Pakstoka.

William looked at both of us and replied, So? Should she not enjoy this night to it’s fullest extent?

She rebuffed you, William and you tried again and again. I saw you. You have broken the law. She turned to look at me at me and said, Pakstoka, he has broken two of our cardinal laws. One, he tried to lay claim to you, the pack leader. Two, when you rebuffed him, he tried again several times. The most severe of these crimes is his attack on you.

How are these crimes punished under Forest Pack laws, I asked.

It is up to the Pakstoka to decide. Though the most common is castration because he tried to lay claim to you personally. But this is your pack and you make the laws; you and your Second.

Hold him a moment.

We traded places and neared Nate and whispered, I have no clue on how to handle this.

Neither do I. The punishment has to be severe enough that no one else will try that again with you. Castration seems a little heavy handed, but then again the message would be loud and clear. We can’t kill him, which I think would be our right to do so. We could shock him, but we can’t do that until after the run and we have no place we can hold him until then.

I sighed, That only leaves us with the one alternative, because I can’t think of anything else. I walked back over to William and said to the other wolf, What’s your name?

I am Cassandra, Cass. Have you decided?

Yes. Castration it is.

Very well, she said and called out, Phillip, come over here. I have a job for you.

Soon a sleek gray and brown wolf joined us.

You called, Cass.

William here has broken the cardinal laws. He tried to lay claim to Pakstoka and on her rebuff tried again several times. She has decided his punishment shall be Castration. Will you do it?

Of course. With your permission, Pakstoka?

Do it, I said and watched as Phillip bit off Williams balls and then cauterized them with his fire power.

He deposited them at my feet and said, It is done, Pakstoka. These are yours.

Um, ew. I don’t want them. Just, just get rid of them for me, please.

With pleasure, he replied with a wolf grin and then proceeded to eat them making me gag. When he was done, he and Cassandra took off.

I took one last look at William who lay there moaning in pain, then turned my back to him and took off to finish the run. Nate stayed with me for the rest of the night, watching my back.

A little later, howls came from the other side of the wall and the Forest Pack returned the howls.

What is it, Charlie? Who’s on the other side?

He looked at me and said, It is the Priestess and Stokripa and two other members of Forest Pack. They wish to join us in our final hour by running alongside us on the other side of the wall. May they?

Sure. The more the merrier. How do we tell them?

With this: he howled another tone and soon the other prisoners joined in.

There was an answering howl and then everyone took off to race for the last hour. When the hour came to a close, we slowed down and gathered in front of the gate once more. With the easing of the Moon’s pull, I felt the urge to shift and let my body do it’s own thing. There were flashes of pain, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first one had been. Charlie was right.

Harper, Monroe, Nate and a few others went and gathered the shock collars.

I walked up to Charlie and said, “I’m sorry, but we have to put these back on you.”

He spoke for the first time and said, “We understand. I must tell you that some of us are trading places. The ones who have been stuck as wolves will spend some time in their human forms and some will become wolves. We will keep the same numbers so that your humans are none the wiser.”

“Why are you trading places?”

“This is an unfortunate side effect of being a werewolf. If we spend too much time as a wolf, we begin to lose our humanity until there is only the wolf. We don’t want to risk that happening, so we are trading places. Since you and I have a closer connection, I will stay human and help you if I can. I’m afraid after tonight though, I will no longer speak to you as such, but we may communicate telepathically if you need to.”

“Thank you, Charlie. I really appreciate all the help you’ve given me tonight.”

He bowed his head, “It was an honor, Pakstoka. Your pack did very well for the first time. But, please make sure that they understand that they cannot shift around the humans.”

“I will and thank you again.”

I gathered up my pack and we all headed back down into the bunker where’d been staying the last few days. I waited until everyone was settled before I started talking to them.

“Well, we all survived our first shift and our first Run. You all did a good job and should be proud of yourselves. There is something I must stress to you before we turn in for the night. We cannot under any circumstances shift in front of a human. If that happens, you may very well end up getting killed. I don’t mean to frighten you, but that’s the gravity of the situation we are living in. There are too many of them and not enough of us or the mages. We can’t even use our powers. The good news is that we have set up a training area to practice our powers and that would probably be the best place to shift if you have the sudden urge to. In the morning, we can all go back to our own homes. If any issues or problems come up or even if you just want to talk, you can always come to either me or Nate and we will try to help you. Now enough of me talking, I’m exhausted as I’m sure you all are. Let’s finally get some good rest.”

Yawns greeted me and I turned off the lights before I joined them in slumber.

Chapter Text

I woke up breathing in the scent of citrus as I felt the weight of the woman I had spent yesterday with. She had her head underneath my chin and was snuggling up against my side with my arm underneath her. I ran that hand along her side until I settled on her hip. Her arm tightened in response and she shifted her head to look at me.

I smiled, “Thank you for yesterday, Dani.”

She pulled up a bit and kissed me lightly, “It was my pleasure, Nyx. It was good seeing you again.”

I chuckled, “It was good seeing you, too. And real good running beside you. I’ve missed running with other wolves.”

“I could tell,” she replied as she kissed me behind my ear making me close my eyes in pleasure. “But that can’t be all that you missed, hmm?”

“No, it wasn’t. I would have seen you again if I could have. You’re my bondmate, Dani. I’ve missed you.”

She propped herself on my chest and gave me a mischievous grin, “Have you now? God, I’ve missed you so damn much, niron. You’ve been gone for way too long. It hasn’t been the same without you these past eight years.”

“Mmm, it’s mutual,” I said as I ran my fingernails down her spine, making her moan and bury her head in my neck, biting it.

“God, what a simple touch from you does to me. I hope you stay after all of this is over.”

“I don’t know if I will or not, Dani. I have open contracts with the Old Towne Garrison and the Coalition, plus three contracts I have to take care of when I go back.”

“Well, you could still live here and maintain those contracts. You’d just change your home base.”

“I could do that, but that is for another day to decide. Right now I just want to concentrate on you.”

“Oh, I’m quite happy to oblige you,” she said as her hand traveled to my hip and her lips caressed my neck.

 

A few hours later we were crowded in the truck, having a video conference with Lexa, Gustus and the chemist.

“Okay, here’s the plan for now,” Lexa said. “The four of you are going to travel to their camp and offer up the recipe for the antidote we use on ourselves to counteract the neurotoxin. We are definitely not giving them the recipe for it. I have no desire for the humans to be able to create their own and use it against us.”

“Agreed,” I replied. “And in exchange, we remove the girl’s body and her partner and bring them back to Clifton so that everyone can properly mourn the loss of a pack member. How are we on creating a cure for humans?”

“We’re still studying the affects on a human’s brain. The gas still attacks those areas of the brain, but seems to spread through the rest of the brain, shutting down neural pathways as it spreads. In some cases, it’s quick. In others, slow. Our antidote should slow the process down and prevent more deaths from occurring,” the chemist answered.

“I don’t know why we’re even doing this at all,” Gustus said bitterly. “They’re only humans.”

“There’s at least 100 humans that are healthy. We don’t know how many adults they have that are suffering from this,” I replied. “Are you telling me that you’re okay committing genocide on the humans who were here long before the Pack claimed the territory? By rights of occupation, they own Manassas.”

“They’re a subspecies, Nyx. They’re inconsequential.”

“And how do you think the Coalition will react to such a massive culling, even if they are humans? Don’t tell me that they’ll never know, because trust me they will.”

“Are you saying that you will tell them yourself?”

“I’m not saying that. What I am telling you is that they have eyes and ears everywhere. It’s how they keep on top of things. Or did you think they just sat on their collective asses and waited for problems to come to them. It’s not how they work or I wouldn’t have had to do my last job.”

“Enough,” Lexa ordered. “What the Council has to decide is if we allow them to stay within Pack Territory. You’re right, Nyx. By rights of occupation they own Manassas. The one thing going for them is that they do have mages and their own pack. How many pack members do they have?”

“We were able to find out that there are 13 pack members and it doesn’t seem to be growing. What we counted is what they have.”

“So, we have the option of giving Manassas over to their Pakstoka. Making the humans and the mages her responsibility.”

“That’s correct. I believe that once this exchange happens, they will be more willing to begin negotiations on a peace treaty, if you decide to let them take over Manassas. They do have two techno mages, so they have the skills to keep you out. Which makes removal very difficult.”

“Especially, if we dangle the cure over their heads.”

“Right.”

“Alright. I’ll present this to the Council members and we can begin to hash out whether we let them stay or not. If we vote to allow them to stay, then we’ll hash out what we’re willing to agree to.”

“If that’s the case, I’d like to go ahead and get to their camp.”

“Very well. Daniela and David will accompany you and will bring back the girl’s body.”

“Yes ma’am. We’ll let you know immediately when the exchange has happened.”

“Good. Thank you.”

The screen black out and I turned to look at everyone, “Are y’all ready?”

“Yep,” David replied. “Let’s get our girl.”

Everyone nodded and we climbed out of the truck and into David’s and headed to the camp. We pulled up near the shield and I climbed back out.

“You again,” a guard called down to me. “What do you want this time.”

“Same thing as last time. I want to speak with Clarke.”

“It better be good,” he replied and radioed for Clarke.

15 minutes later, the shield dropped and Clarke appeared. I had better control over my desire for her, thanks to Dani.

“Hello, Clarke. How’s everything going on your side of the wall?”

“Hi, Nyx. We’ve lost three more adults since we last talked. And thank you for letting us know about the Harvest Moon. According to Octavia it was successful.”

“I’m glad to hear that it was successful. The four of us joined them during the last hour, running on this side, of course.”

She smiled, “That was nice of you.”

“We wanted them to know that we hadn’t forgotten about them. And I’m sorry for the losses you incurred, but I have a way to at least prevent more deaths from possibly occurring.”

“Oh,” she asked curiously.

“Our chemist has determined that the antidote the Pack uses to counteract the neurotoxin will slow down what is happening to your people. It’s not a cure, just a band-aid.”

“So, you’re here to what?”

“Offer an exchange. The recipe for the girl’s body and her partner.”

“We can do that. I accept.”

“Good. We’d like permission to enter the camp in order for the exchange to happen. Their Priestess would like an opportunity to speak with the Pack and give them any spiritual guidance they may need. I have two pack members with me that will take ownership of the body. And I’d like to speak with your Pakstoka. Will you agree to that as well?”

She thought about it and replied, “I don’t see the harm in it, but we have to be mindful of the humans. They’re a wary bunch. We had to lock them in the bunker last night so that the packs could run.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll be on our best behaviors and we’ll try to refrain from showing our displeasure of being among them.”

“Thank you.”

I turned and signaled everyone out of the truck and they joined us.

“Clarke, I’d like to introduce you to their Priestess, Gaia. And these two are Daniela and David.”

They all shook hands and Clarke escorted us inside. When the pack saw us, they immediately kneeled on one knee and Gaia went over to them. They started speaking in our native language as we continued on our way. We drew looks of curiosity as we walked to the bunker. Several of them started following us, but they didn’t put off that human vibe, so I saw no harm. We walked into the Morgue and were greeted by Jasper and Octavia. Silently, Octavia opened the drawer and pulled out her body.

Dani let out a small cry, and said softly, “Jessamine.”

“I deeply apologize that our people did this to her. I want you to know that I stayed with her the whole time,” Octavia said politely.

“Thank you for that, Pakstoka. We will be sure to inform our Pakstoka that you showed great kindness to a dying girl. May we?”

Clarke nodded and they gently placed her in a body bag and left the room. Clarke turned to me expectantly and I pulled out the recipe and gave it to Jasper.

“As I explained to Clarke,” I said. “This is not the cure. It’s the antidote for those with powers. Their chemist has informed us that it will slow the process and should prevent any more deaths from occurring until a cure can be found.”

“How do we know that this isn’t a trick to kill off the humans,” he determine.

“You can’t. The Priestess and I are willing to stay as leverage until you can see for yourselves that it does what we say it will. You’ll want to place them underneath a brain scan in order to see the results. The areas that hold our powers and telepathy should clear up and the spread of the toxin should slow down immediately.”

“I think we will do that,” Clarke informed me.

I bowed my head and said, “Very well.” I touched my ear piece and said, “Gaia, you and I will stay here until they are able to ascertain the effects of your antidote.”

“I’m more than willing to do that,” she replied. “I have my hands full out here. Oh, and FYI, Charlie doesn’t want to leave the camp. He’d like to stay and help their Pakstoka learn more of what it’s like to be a werewolf. However, there is someone we need to remove, William. Apparently, he thought it was a good idea to try and force himself on their Pakstoka. She had him castrated and I know Lexa will want to punish him further for putting his fellow members in danger.”

“Alright, I’ll let Clarke know and then let you know.”

“Very well,” she said.

I looked at Clarke and said, “Gaia has informed me that Charlie does not want to leave the camp, but rather stay here and help Pakstoka. She’s also informed me that one of the pack members, a William, attacked you, Pakstoka. You’ve already punished him, but we’d like to remove him from your custody and bring him in front of their Pakstoka.”

“Oh, thank you,” Octavia said, relieved. “I didn’t know what else I could do with him. You have my blessing to remove him.”

“Thank you,” I said inclining my head. “We’ll need the shock collar removed and shackles placed on him. In order to transport him back to the capital.”

Clarke nodded and ordered it. I informed Gaia who then informed David. Jasper left to begin making the antidote leaving me with Clarke.

“May I assume that you have questions, Pakstoka,” I asked Octavia.

“I do.”

“Then feel free to ask away. I should be able to answer them.”

“Should I leave,” Clarke asked.

“No, I won’t be giving away any Pack secrets. Honestly, it’d be to your betterment if you learn as well. This is your world now. But, could we find a better place to have this conversation. I’m not thrilled to be talking amongst the dead.”

“Of course, we can go to the Council Room. Do you mind if the others join us?”

“No, I don’t mind. The better educated you all are, the better off you’ll be. I’ll even be able to explain the powers you now possess.”

“Awesome,” she said and radioed for everyone, but Jasper to join us in the Council Room.

We arrived after everybody and we sat down to join them.

“Guys, I’d like to formally introduce you to Nyx Allistar. She’s acting as a go between us and the Forest Pack’s leader,” she said and then speaking to me said, “Let me introduce everyone: Monty and Raven, our techno mages; Nate Miller, Octavia’s Second I think you call it; Harper and Monroe, two of our werewolves, and Eric Jackson, our…”

Looking at him and seeing his medical coat and said, “Healer. Very rare to have that power. There’s only about twenty along the East Coast. You’re very lucky to have one in your camp.”

He blushed and looked down at his hands.

“Octavia,” I said drawing her attention to me, “You have questions?”

“I guess one of the big things on my mind is how did werewolves and mages appear,” she asked.

“Actually, it’s wereanimals. There are were-bears, coyotes, bobcats, panthers, eagles, foxes that we call kitsune, and um, mountain lions. Really any big predator that is found along the East Coast, minus the cold-blooded animals. As to why the appearance after the apocalypse, our scientists haven’t really been able to pinpoint the cause, but it’s assumed that the resulting radiation mutated the genetic code in humans which in turn began producing wereanimals and mages. All of us have various powers. Some strong, some weak. It depends on the person. There’s no telling which power will show up in what person, though sometimes it appears that it is hereditary.”

“Are there other weres in this territory?”

“No, but there are some exceptions. Because of the region itself, sometimes a feline, bear or eagle are born here, but they eventually travel to their respective packs. You’ll only find werewolves in this territory.”

“How many packs are there?”

“I don’t know off the top of my head, but each territory has a head pack and there are usually smaller packs in the territory because of location.”

“Is it common for each mage and were to have only one power?”

“Yes, that is the norm, but with all things there are exceptions. The most I’ve come across is 3 powers and they are on the Coalition Council.”

“Charlie told me that you have more than that. Is it true that you have five?”

I growled low, “He should not have passed on that information to you. No one outside the pack knows about it. But in answer to your question, yes I have five.”

They all whistled in astonishment.

“Can you tell us how our powers work,” Clarke asked.

I nodded, “In each of us, there is a space in us, a well so to speak. As we use our power, the well depletes. If you continue to use your power when the well runs dry, it starts consuming your life energy. If you use that up, you die. So, you must always be aware of how much power you’re using. To use your power, it’s a matter of will. You think it, it appears. When you focus, you can pretty much do or create anything you put your mind to creating. Now, you can create it out of the air, but it takes a lot more energy to do so. It’s best to use physical representations of your powers.”

“What if your power is the very air itself,” Harper asked.

“Then it will not cost you much energy unless you’re creating something big, like a tornado or a huge windstorm.”

“What if you don’t have as deep as well, as you call it,” Monroe asked.

I smiled at her in sympathy, “It severely limits what you can do. You’ll only be able to create small things or complete small tasks, I’m sorry to say.”

“Bummer,” she replied and pouted a bit.

“To get better and to learn to use less energy, you have to practice. It took me quite a while to master each power and I made many mistakes along the way.”

“What if your power is more intuitive,” Raven asked.

“Intuitive powers have their own rules to follow. From what my partner, Ben, said, it’s a matter of sharpening the mind, because that’s where the power lies. Work on focus and you’re able to create more then just shields that can pass through shields. If you put your mind to solving a problem in front of you or an idea you’d like to try, the power will help you see how to either solve it or how to create it. So, the sharper the mind, the more you’re able to do.”

“Out of curiosity, how long have werewolves been around,” Octavia asked. “We’ve read the fiction and myths and it seems like werewolves have been around for centuries.”

“We have been. We were the first weres ever created or born, depending on the theory. The most popular theory, legend, is that we date back to the Capitoline Wolf. The one who nourished Romulus and Remus. Legend states that they were the very first werewolves.”

“Can you tell me how a pack operates?”

“Sure. Each pack has a pack leader and a Second. That would be you and Nate, if I’m feeling things right. In such a small pack like yours, the two of you act as the governing body. You make the laws, everyday guidelines, and appropriate punishments for those that break them. The Second also acts like a head of security. A type of personal bodyguard. Those next on the power totem, are the ones that keep an eye on the rest of the pack. Making sure that everyone is well cared for, babysitting the kids, and teaching and guiding the young ones. After that, the rest of the pack is placed by the type of power. If they have earth, they’ll help maintain crops or if they’re strong enough, you’ll have your own chemist. You’ll have a weapons trainer, scouts, fighters, and so on. The reason why it’s a pack is because it’s everyone’s duty to insure the pack survives. If you live in a territory, you are obligated to sign a treaty with the pack leader of the territory. It usually states that for protection and help, your pack will return the favor. If the territory is in trouble the pack leader may call upon you to help. Typically, it’s a call to arms. The Second will take the strongest fighters and fight for the territory. That’s a pack in a nutshell.”

“One last question, I think,” Clarke said. “What exactly is an Enforcer?”

I smiled and leaned back in my chair, “An Enforcer is a jack of all trades. Espionage, counterintelligence, saboteur, tracker, bounty hunter, investigator, and assassin. It depends on what the client needs.”

“You’ve killed people for money?”

“It’s part of my contract with the Coalition. If they need a threat removed, they usually have me do it. It’s not an easy life, and I don’t always like doing it. If I don’t fulfill my job the Coalition has assigned me, there’s a heavy price to pay that ranges from loss of money to death, so I try and stay on their good side. I want to stay underneath their radar.”

“The Coalition sounds like it’s very tyrannical.”

“They can be. They take any infractions to the laws they’ve created very seriously. If a pack wants to move or set up another base somewhere outside their territory they have to send up written requests and verifiable reasons as to why they’ve requested the move. If another pack is created, the proper paperwork has to be sent to the Coalition.”

“Does that mean, I’ll have to do that,” Octavia asked.

“Eventually, yes. Once you’ve established your own little territory, you’ll have to do it.”

“Are there any more questions,” Clarke asked.

A round of no’s and Clarke dismissed them. Only Octavia and Clarke stayed.

“That was a lot of information,” Octavia said. “Thank you for answering them.”

“It was my pleasure. There’s a lot to handling your own pack. That’s why you have a Second. To split the responsibility. I understand that this is a very new and scary world for you guys and I’m open to helping you out when I can.”

“How do you know about all of this?”

“At one point in time, I was de Pakstoka’s Second. It was my responsibility to learn all of this. I took my position very seriously.” A sudden thought occurred to me and I asked, “Is there any scrap metal in this room?”

“Yeah, why?”

I grinned, “You’ll see. Where is it?”

“Over in that corner,” Clarke pointed to a corner by the far wall.

Without thinking about it, I drew the scrap metal to me and laid them into two separate piles. I looked up and saw them staring at me wide eyed.

“Sorry, I should have warned you about my telekinesis. I sometimes use it without thinking. Saves me time, you know. Anyway, Octavia, would you shift for me and what’s your power?”

“Sure, how do I do that?”

“Um, just let your wolf out.”

“Huh?”

I laughed, “Take a peek inside yourself, she’s there and I’m sure she wants to come out and preen for me.”

“Okay,” she said and closed her eyes briefly and suddenly she was a wolf.

“Your power?”

Water.

I stared at her a moment longer and then said, “You can shift back now, I got what I needed.”

She shifted back with ease and then I took a moment to study Clarke. When I had them memorized and knew what I wanted to create, I held my hands over both piles. They slowly started taking shape as I melted and molded them to what I wanted.

When it was done, in the place of the scrap metal stood two statues. Clarke’s was a statue of her holding a bow with a lightening bolt held in her hands as she searched for a target, with a cluster of small lightening bolts like the one in her hand in the ground beside her. Behind her, were a series of bolts that spanned outward from her back like wings. Octavia’s was much simpler, but more detailed. It was her wolf form standing upon a rock with waves crashing against it as she howled at an unseen moon. The final touch were the names of the statues in my native tongue. Clarke’s was actually in Latin and called Fulgur Magum. Octavia’s was called Pakstoka kom Lanik.

I presented them and they each looked amazed as they took in the details of my gifts.

“Fulgur Magum?”

“Lightening Mage. Latin.”

“And Pakstoka kom Lanik?”

“Wolf of the Sea, in my native language.”

They traded statues, taking each other’s in and started pointing out the minute details. I just smiled, thankful that the liked my gifts.

“These are beautiful. Thank you,” Clarke said as she gave me a hug.

Octavia hugged me too and said, “Thank you, Nyx. These are amazing.”

“Your welcome.”

“I’m going to go put this in my room, right now,” Octavia said and ran off closing the door behind her.

I chuckled at seeing her so happy, it made me feel good.

Clarke set hers on the table and said, “I really appreciate the gesture, but can I ask why?”

I walked over to her and gently tugged her to me and I whispered, “Because you deserve it.” And kissed her.

She wrapped her arms around my neck and deepened the kiss. I pushed her up against the table as my lips traveled down her neck. She moaned and her hands threaded through my hair. I wanted all of her, but I knew I couldn’t this time. It didn’t stop me from lifting her up and laying us on the table. We spent a while remembering each other’s taste and curves.

“They can see us,” Clarke gasped out.

“I don’t care. We’re not going beyond this.”

“Mm-kay,” she said as I found a particularly sensitive spot.

We carried on until Clarke’s communicator beeped. I growled low in my throat and Clarke laughed. I got off of her and rolled onto my back, getting control of my breathing again.

Clarke sat up and pulled out the communicator, clearing her throat before she said, “Yes?”

“The antidote, not antidote is ready for testing,” Jasper said.

“Okay, we’re on our way,” she replied.

We scooted off the table and Clarke grabbed her statue before we left the room. I stopped her before she walked out the door and kissed her gently. We walked out the door and I caressed her ass before I left her alone for the time being.

Chapter Text

I felt a stab of jealousy when I saw Nyx pull Clarke into a final kiss and then caress her ass. She used to do something like that with me every time we were the last to leave a room. I perversely rewound the footage and started watching it again. Clarke putting down the statue and then having a make out session with my Nyx. But, Nyx wasn’t mine anymore. I had seen to that. We may still be bondmates, but we were no longer each other’s loves.

“How many times have you watched that, Lexa,” a voice said from the doorway, making me jump.

I turned around and saw my old teacher standing in the door.

“Just the once,” I lied.

She didn’t buy it, which meant that she’d been standing there for long enough to see me watch and then rewind.

“You no longer have a claim on her, Lexa,” she said as she came to sit beside me in front of the monitors. “You made sure of it during your grief. My question is why didn’t you kill her?”

“I, I couldn’t,” I admitted. “I love, loved, her and I couldn’t bear it to mourn one more person.”

“You gave her a fate worse than death by doing so.”

“Worse than death?”

“You tore her away from her home, her family, her friends. You made sure that she could never return. You denied her the right to mourn the loss of her brother. You broke her heart by not believing her. By being swayed by your grief and the hatred who bore ill will towards her.”

“The facts were irrefutable. There were no indications that Ice Pack had ever crossed that border. Only her marks and teeth were found. On my family…”

“And yet she cannot recall that truth. Instead, she remains adamant that she left her post to only return to find the Ice Pack laying waste to those that were under her command. She sees the facts, but she can’t understand how she could have ever done something like that or why she would.”

“Are you saying that she was manipulated?”

“She could very well have been. You know as well as I do that there are drugs that can manipulate the mind. That there are telepaths who can change someone’s reality and make them see things that aren’t really there. Instead, you chose to believe that she killed your sisters and was marrying you only to remove the Devereux line from being de Pakstoka and place her lineage in that position instead.”

“That was the only rational gain that could have pushed her.”

“Her family has served yours for generations, Lexa. Not once have they shown disloyalty or sought to usurp your family. Not even feeling the need to start a Pack of their own. Her least of all. She devoted her whole life to your family. To you. Why would she be willing to throw that all away just to lay claim to a title none of them ever desired?”

“But it’s the only thing that makes sense,” I yelled. “Why else lie about an attack when there was none. Why else claim no memory of the act. Why else would she kill my sisters.”

“Why would she kill her own brother? The Allistars have always been a tight knit family. Why wouldn’t she have saved him?”

“To make her story more believable, of course.”

“You’re just feeding me the same lines that had been whispered in your ear, Lexa. The question is, now that it’s been 8 years, do you still believe in those lines?”

I looked at her and studied her face. I saw no malice, even though she was their ally. I only saw a teacher who was trying to help a student understand a difficult problem. So, I thought about it.

“I don’t know what the truth is anymore, Indra,” I admitted. “It all made sense at the time. Even now it makes sense.”

“And yet she avoids you, remains professional, and hasn’t sought out to reconnect with her family or her friends. She hasn’t tried to besmirch your name or your family’s. She hasn’t bemoaned about the injustice of it all. She hasn’t claimed that she was framed. She hasn’t done anything to turn the pack against you. Does she even wish to rejoin the pack when this is over?”

I shook my head sadly, “She claims to only want the money and to be able to visit what was once her home. Why would she not want to rejoin the pack? To belong to something again?”

“Why would she want her motives questioned if she chose to do so? Why would she want to constantly look over her shoulder? Why would she want to put her family at risk? Why would she want to place you at risk?”

“She doesn’t want to because it’s safer?”

“I can’t answer that question. What would she even do if she did rejoin the pack. She was trained to be your Second. She has trained to become the best Enforcer on the East Coast. Do you really think she would be happy as a scout or out on patrol? Would she even be allowed to do so? What would the Council be willing to allow her to do for the rest of her life?”

“I need to go,” I said suddenly and stood up to leave.

“Before you go, one more thought for you to think about. Gustus’ family has always been jealous of the relationship between the Allistars and the Devereuxs. Now, the family has moved up the food chain since you chose Gustus as your Second. The Allistars no longer wish anything to do with Clifton. And Gustus nearly killed her on the way to the border, even though you expressly forbade it. Who really had more to gain?”

I nodded curtly and all but ran to my room. I shut the door behind me and leaned heavily against it as Indra’s words echoed in my head. I don’t really remember that time after the attack. What was said or what was done. All I remembered was the grief and anger. And the constant whispering in my ears.

What Indra said was true. The Allistar family had served mine for generations without a hint of wanting more power. They were happy serving de Pakstoka. They felt it was their responsibility and duty to make sure the Devereux line stayed in power.

Nyx only ever had my best interests in mind. She’d shown it time and time again, ever since we were little kids running around. She always protected me. She and her brother always looked out for me and my sisters. As her mother protected mine. I remember that I had to pester her to admit that she loved me and when she finally admitted it, I only saw truth in her eyes. She even felt that accepting my proposal would make the relationship between de Pakstoka and Second become compromised. And yet somehow I had won her over.

I sighed in frustration and walked over to the mantel and took down the statue she had made for me, like she had for Clarke and the pack leader. She rarely made statues. She had said that she only made them for the people that she felt were important to her. People that she really cared about.

I ran my fingers over the curves of the two women that lay in a field of fire. Their body’s entwined as they made love. It was us. It showed the depth of her love for me. She even called it “Woman in Love.” It was an engagement gift. I couldn’t make myself get rid of it or hide it away. Even after everything.

When I saw her sitting in the office, it was like time had never moved forward. She sat as she had many times before, even in the same armchair. She spoke with clarity, with honesty as she had always done when we spoke. She was still breathtakingly beautiful. I wanted her and when she looked at me, I thought she still wanted me. That was why I felt that pang of jealousy. I wanted her. I wanted to claim her again as mine.

But time had gone forward and as it always does, everything changes. I didn’t know that Gustus had left her for dead just on the other side of the border. I thought she’d be grateful that I’d spared her life. That her family would have been grateful. Neither one had.

I put the statue back on the mantel and walked over to the windows to look out over the backyard. Indra had been right that Gustus’s family had always been jealous of the families’ relationship. They had been a fourth tiered family. Now, they were first tiered. They had most definitely moved up on the food chain and lorded it over everyone. Thinking that they were above them. I had chosen Gustus because he was strong, capable and willing to become my Second. None of the other first tiered families wanted to. Not even the second or third tiered. None of them had felt worthy enough to step into the shoes of the Allistar family. The Allistar family had set the bar high and no one thought they’d ever come close to reaching that bar. None.

After Nyx’s banishment, many families had removed themselves from Clifton and joined the Allistars in the south. It was their way of protesting the punishment and the refusal to execute Nyx. Even though they had faith in her, they would have rather seen her die then banished. I didn’t understand it.

A knock sounded on the door, drawing me out of my thoughts and I called out, “Enter.”

The door opened to reveal Gustus.

“What is it, Gustus?”

He bowed his head before he said, “The Council has convened and are waiting for you.”

“Have you had word from Nyx?”

“No, Pakstoka. The only word I have received is that Daniela and David were on their way back with Jessamine’s body and William.”

I was confused, because her brother Charlie should have been the one to accompany her, not William.

“Why is William accompanying Jessamine’s body and not Charlie?”

“They only said that he was involved in an incident during the Running of the Harvest Moon.”

“Thank you, Gustus. Please inform the Council that I will be there shortly.”

He bowed his head again and replied, “Yes, Pakstoka.”

He left and closed the door behind him.

I waited a moment before I made my way quickly back to Ben’s lab. I knocked and Ben looked up at me.

“Is there something that I can do for you, Ms. Devereux?”

“Yes there is actually. Can you contact Nyx or Gaia for me?”

“Of course,” he replied and turned on the radio and called for either one of them.

Gaia answered and he handed me the headphones.

“Gaia, can you tell me why William is escorting Jessamine’s body instead of Charlie?”

“Charlie wished to stay and help the camp’s Pakstoka and I allowed it. William is escorting the body because he tried to take advantage of their Pakstoka and when she rebuffed him, he tried again several times before she brought him down. Cass and Phillip vouched for the incident and were both there when William was castrated for his crimes. In fact, it was Phillip that performed the castration.”

I seethed with anger as she told me. William had broken cardinal law. He would pay for attacking another pack leader. I’d make sure of it.

“Thank you, Gaia, for letting me know. He will pay dearly for his crimes, I promise you that.”

“Yes, Pakstoka.”

“Are you done with the camp?”

“Not yet. We’re still waiting on confirmation that our antidote works on slowing the spread of the antitoxin. Last I checked, they were heading down to see the test.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Roughly half an hour ago. I’m not sure what’s taking so long. She’s been rather silent.”

I looked over at Ben and he nodded to confirm.

I sighed and said, “Inform Ben immediately once she makes contact with you. I’m about to head in to speak with the Council and I need as much information as I can get.”

“Yes, Pakstoka,” she replied.

I ended the communication and looked at Ben, “Is there a way to inform me, without drawing attention to us?”

“Of course,” he said smiling and held out a small earpiece. “Put this in your ear and I can speak with you directly. It’s two way though, so I’ll be able to hear the Council Meeting. If you wish I can draw up a quick non disclosure agreement for you?”

“That won’t be necessary, Ben. In fact, if you can relay the talks to Nyx. I want to have her as informed as she can be.”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll make sure that she stays informed.”

“Good, man,” I said as I clapped him on the back.

He inclined his head and I headed to the Council Room.

The room was once a small ballroom before the apocalypse and the décor showed it. Chandeliers hung from each corner of the room. The ceiling featured a crown molding of running wolves chasing each other. The middle of the ceiling was recessed and bordered with more wolves. In between the molding and the border was simple scrollwork with no real design. On the wall facing outward, there were a series floor to ceiling french door interspersed with candle sconces. On the opposite side was a huge fireplace, the mantel featuring wolves in the scrollwork. Over the fireplace hung a painter’s rendition of the Capitoline Wolf. The walls were done in a plain blue grey wallpaper that went ¾’s of a way down and the last ¼ was simple plaster with a mold running the borders. There were three doors that led to other parts of the house and the floor was different types of wood laid out in a geometric design.

In the middle of the room was the Council table. A simple, utilitarian U shape where the Council members sat along both lengths while myself, Gustus, and Indra sat at the bottom of the U.

Everyone stood as I entered and waited patiently as I made my way to my seat. Once I stood in front of it, I inclined my head and we sat down. They sat a fraction of a second after I did. I looked around the room and took note of everyone’s body language. It was varied and I saw boredom, nervousness, displeasure, and curiosity.

“Thank you for coming here today, Council Members,” I said into the quiet room. “We’re here to discuss the situation that is currently happening in Manassas. But first let us give thanks to Mother Earth for providing us with her wisdom, courage, and strength to guide our Pack and keep them safe.”

We all inclined our heads with closed eyes for a moment then we turned to the business at hand.

“As we know, Manassas has been empty of people since we emerged after the apocalypse. It remained so, because of rumors that it was haunted and thought to harbor bad luck. Recently, a group of invaders entered the town and set up a camp with a little over 100 people. We finally have an answer as to who these people are and where they came from. They are the descendants of the original residents of Manassas.”

Quiet murmuring filled the room as they took this in.

“Where have they been this entire time,” the member representing the north asked.

“They have been living in a bunker underneath the town hall,” I replied.

“If they lived there all this time and weren’t subjected to the radiation as our ancestors were, does that mean they are humans,” the member of the southeast asked.

“Yes, much to my dismay. The majority of the residents are indeed human, though somehow there is a small pack of 13 werewolves and 9 mages. It also means that by rights of occupation, the last 83 years they have resided within the bunker means that they own Manassas.”

“That’s preposterous,” the member of the west cried out. “Humans cannot own any property! We all know this. The Coalition has decreed it so.”

“Now, hold on Silas,” I replied calmly. “I’m not saying that the humans own Manassas. The pack and the mages do. There just so happens to be a large number of humans within the camp.”

“Oh,” he said as he leaned back in his chair, “my apologies, Pakstoka.”

I inclined my head, “We also know that 5 teams were sent to Manassas and never returned. The good news is that they are alive, but are their prisoners. The bad news is that Jessamine Valdez was killed through the misconduct of some of the ones that were assigned to guard our pack members.”

Angry roars filled the room and it took the three of us to calm them down.

“Enough,” I yelled “Enough. The criminals that have done this grave injustice are currently locked up in their prison. The reason that they have not been executed or given a severe punishment is because these people are different. The come from a time when rules, laws, and punishments were different. We cannot fault them for that. Am I understood?”

Begrudgingly, they all nodded, but remained quietly seething.

“Will her body be returned to us?”

“Yes. It is being transported back here as we speak. Now, let me circle back around to the humans, because that is our biggest concern. The 100 we see are not the the whole of the population. When the neurotoxin was released after the first team disappeared, there was an unforeseen effect on the humans over the age of 30. As designed, the neurotoxin inhibited those portions of the brain where our powers and telepathy comes from. Instead of inhibiting, the neurotoxin attacked those areas in the humans and spread outward to the rest of the brain, ultimately killing them. In exchange for Jessamine’s body and one other person, we provided their chemist with the recipe for our antidote. I am still waiting for confirmation on whether it slows down the spread of the toxin.”

“Who has been giving you this information and mediating with their camp,” one of members asked.

“I have hired an Enforcer that the Coalition highly recommended, Nyx Allistar.”

The room erupted into a yelling match between those that supported Nyx and those that called for her death.

“Enough,” Gustus bellowed and smack the table with his fist. “de Pakstoka wishes to speak.”

“Thank you, Gustus,” I said and he inclined this head. Turning my attention back to the room, I said, “I have temporarily lifted both the banishment and kill order in order for her to come here. As I have said, the Coalition highly recommended her. The Coalition kindly showed me her track record on the jobs she has done for them and it is impressive. Every job that she has been assigned was a success with minimal damage, if any. As a freelance Enforcer, all of her past clients have raved about her performance and professionalism, and that includes Old Towne’s Garrison Commander. Because of her reputation and the reviews of her past clients, she is the only choice to complete this job without dragging the Coalition into our Territory.”

“You were saying about the humans,” Indra asked bringing the meeting back to the matter at hand.

“Thank you. Now the only thing we may offer up at this time to the Manassas leadership is a cure for those afflicted by the neurotoxin. If we cannot provide them with that, we cannot begin to discuss with them the possibility of ending this situation.”

“Why not just let the humans die,” the northwest council member asked. “In fact, why don’t we just kill them all?”

“We can’t do that,” I replied. “As Ms. Allistar has told myself and Gustus, if we kill such a large population of humans, it will draw the attention of the Coalition. If we let those that have been struck down by the neurotoxin die, then we leave ourselves open to a more lethal conflict. They have only captured our people and through misconduct, killed one of our own. No other lives have been taken and they have only set up a defensive position.”

Ben’s voice sounded in my ear, “Ms. Devereux, the antidote has been a success. It’s slowing down the spread of the neurotoxin, even receding it a bit. Nyx has been able to bring Clarke and the others to our side of thinking. They’d be willing to set up a meeting between themselves and the Pack. The main concern is how to make the humans agreeable to the fact that they are no longer in charge and the fact they are a subspecies.”

I nodded to myself and turned my attention back to the meeting and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve just been informed that the antidote is doing what we’ve hoped. It has slowed down the spread of the neurotoxin, bringing there leadership closer to agreeing to a summit. Now the harder task that has to be tackled is how to explain to over a 100 humans that the world they knew is no more. That we exist and have become the apex predators and that they are now considered a subspecies.”

“Do you think their pack and mages are in danger,” asked the southwest member.

“If the humans find out that we exist, yes. There’s more of them then there are of werewolves and mages. It’s a dangerous predicament. One I don’t want to see happen. I’m not willing to put them in danger if we can sway some of the humans onto our side.”

“How do we do that?”

I shook my head, “I do not know, that’s why we are all here. We need a way to get the humans on our side.”

Chapter Text

“I’m glad that the antidote is helping your people, Clarke,” I said as we walked back into the sunshine.

“So am I. Now, we just have to see if it drops the mortality rate,” she replied.

“True. The chemist is still working on a solution. It’s a slow process because she has to study the effects on a live human brain. “

“The chemist is conducting on live humans,” she asked, shocked by the idea.

“It’s the only way,” I replied. “Even Jasper would agree. It’s why he used live humans to test the antidote.”

“Does this world really think so less of humans?”

“We do. I’ve already explained this. If there were more humans in the world, that might change, but it is what it is. Even the population in this camp would not be large enough to press for change.”

“So, do you know what happens now?”

“Now the Council knows who you are and where you came from. The amount of humans in your camp. Their priority will turn to making sure the werewolves and mages are kept safe from the humans. Since there is such a low percentage of you, your lives are in constant danger. The Council will not stand by and let that happen.”

“What kind of solutions could they possibly think of?”

“Genocide of the humans here, but they’ll quickly throw that out of the window to keep the Coalition from becoming aware. Removing mages and werewolves from Manassas and setting you up elsewhere within the territory and permanently locking down the humans from ever leaving Manassas. Or turning your humans over to our side and accepting your leadership and that of de Pakstoka.”

“Those are our only choices,” she asked worriedly.

“Those are the ones that I can think of. Your safety is what’s paramount. Then on top of that, Octavia needs to register her pack and show proof that de Pakstoka is allowing her to stay within the territory.”

We stopped by the edge of the field and waited for Gaia to join us.

I dug in my pocket and removed an ear piece and said, “Clarke, I’d like you to have this. That way if there is a need to communicate, we have a means to do so. That way I don’t have to come out here every few days.”

She took the ear piece and placed in her ear and said, “Thank you. But does this mean I won’t see you again?”

I smiled, “It does not. I promise we will see each other again.”

“Good,” she said nodding and returning my smile.

“Is everything good to go,” Gaia asked when she joined us.

“Yes, the antidote does stop the spread of the toxin,” I replied as we walked out of the gate.

“I’m glad. I may not like humans, but as with all creatures, I do not like seeing them suffer,” she replied.

“Nor do I.”

A noise drew our attention towards the forest and as we watched as a buggy burst through it and was coming straight at us. Without thinking, I put myself between the buggy and Gaia and Clarke. It skidded to a stop showering us with rocks and dirt. When the dust settled, a young woman jumped out of the driver’s seat and ran at me. I tensed further, but when I saw her face I became overjoyed. She launched herself and I caught her and twirled us around.

Laughing I said, “Sephy, oh my god! I’ve missed you so, so much!”

“I missed you, too, Nyx,” she replied hugging me tightly. “Indra told mother that you were here and I just had to come. I just had to.”

I put her down and said, “Let me look at you. God, you’ve gotten so big!”

“Eight years will do that,” she replied and both our faces darkened briefly, then we shook it off.

 

 

Clarke

 

I watched as this girl leapt into Nyx’s arms, both of them laughing and crying. I could tell that it was a reunion and I had a brief pang of jealousy. I looked over at Gaia and saw her smiling, tears glistening in her eyes.

“Who is she,” I asked

“That is Nyx’s little sister, Persephone, or Sephy as we call her. She was only eight when Nyx was banished. Without any contact in eight years, my mother and I thought they deserved to see each other again,” Gaia replied.

“No contact in eight years? Why?”

“Eight years ago, something happened along the northern border. On the other side of the border lies the Ice Pack territory. Word had been received that the Ice Pack was planning on crossing into our territory and Lexa ordered Nyx to take a force and protect the border. None of us is sure as to exactly what happened, but when the dust settled, nearly everyone in her command had been killed. They found her unconscious laying on the top of our own people. When there was no evidence to support what was in her statement and all the evidence pointed to her as the sole attacker, instead of executing her, Lexa banished and placed a kill order on her. She hasn’t been able to set foot inside the territory until now.”

“That’s horrible,” I said in horror. “Nyx doesn’t seem capable of doing such a thing. If she was, she wouldn’t be helping my people. She’d be pushing to kill the humans.”

“You’re right,” Gaia replied. “And the majority of the families argued exactly that. The families that bore the Allistars ill will were able to push Lexa into believing that Nyx’s goal was to remove the Devereuxs from power and placing her family there instead. They pointed out that she had killed Lexa’s sisters and the idea that Nyx only agreed to marry Lexa so that she could become de Pakstoka by killing Lexa.”

“Again, that seems out of character for Nyx.”

Gaia nodded, “That’s why when the Allistars relocated to a different pack within the territory, many other families joined them. Leaving Lexa with fewer allies. Now a fourth tiered family controls the position of Second.”

“Why didn’t Lexa have her executed if her crime was so horrendous?”

“Because even in her grief, Lexa still loved her. She thought she was being merciful. Instead, it was a fate worse then death. Nyx is only now really starting to heal her spirit.”

“Seeing them,” I said pointing to Nyx and her sister, “I can understand how it is a fate worse then death. To be denied the only home she’d ever known. To not have contact with her friends and family. I don’t think I could survive that kind of punishment.”

“Most can’t. Lexa even made it impossible for Nyx to apply for membership into another pack. So, she’s been packless and alone for eight years.”

“She’s been denied so much, why would she ever agree to taking on this job?”

“Because she cares about what happens to the pack. And Lexa dangled some very desirable fruit in front of her. But let’s stop this for now, if she continues to want to see you, you’ll be able to find out the answers to your questions. You have a hold on her that I haven’t seen since Lexa.”

I blushed and noticed Nyx and Persephone approaching us.

With a huge grin on her face and her arm wrapped tightly about her sister’s shoulders, she said, “Clarke, I’d like to introduce you to my little sister, Persephone. Persephone this is Clarke, the head mage and leader of this camp.”

I held out my hand and said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Persephone.”

She readily shook it and she did that little shimmy that meant I had accidentally discharged my lightening on her. She grinned and let my hand go.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Clarke,” she replied. “We should be heading back though, Nyx. It’s getting late.”

Nyx rolled her eyes which made me laugh, “Yes, mother. I’m sorry Clarke, but she’s right. We’ve spent too long here and everyone will begin to worry.”

“Of course,” I replied. “I understand. It was a pleasure meeting both of you.”

“Our’s as well,” Gaia replied with an incline of her head, “Come on, Sephy. Let’s give these two a moment.”

“But..,” she whined.

“No, buts, young lady. Nyx will be fine,” she said and dragged Persephone away.

I laughed and looked at Nyx, who had a huge grin on her face.

“You’ve missed her,” I said gently.

“That I have. I’ve missed both of them. I’m just sorry I won’t be able to see my mother while I’m here,” she replied as the grin dimmed.

“I’m sorry, Nyx,” I said as I took a few steps closer.

“It is what it is, Clarke,” she replied and pulled me closer to her. “And now that we’re alone, I can give you a proper goodbye.”

She leaned down and kissed me. I returned it hungrily and tightened my arms around her waist. We pulled away breathless and Nyx chuckled.

“I’m glad I’ve made such an impression on you,” she said, stroking my face.

“I think you’ve done more than that.”

“Hmm. And you’ve done the same to me, beautiful.”

The buggy’s horn sounded and Nyx growled and then sighed, “I apparently have stood here saying goodbye for too long. Goodnight, Clarke.”

“Goodnight, Nyx,” I said and kissed her gently.

She let me go completely and jogged to the buggy, climbing in. I watched as the buggy spun it’s tires and then took off back to the forest. I turned and saw Raven leaning against the gate.

“That was purely magical to watch, Clarke,” she said when I neared her.

I stuck my tongue out at her and said, “Whatever, Raven. So, we have feelings for one another. It’s not a big deal.”

“It is for her,” she said as we walked through the gate. “I overheard Gaia telling you what happened to her. She’s real lucky to have found you.”

“Do you really think so,” I asked serious.

“Yes, I really do. It sounds like this Lexa really did a number on her if she’s only now opening up. You just have to remember that she’s a promiscuous woman and she will more then likely sleep around. Not because she wants to, but that she needs to.”

“My head knows that, but my heart doesn’t like it.”

“Well, come on,” she said, pulling me behind her. “Dinner has been served and your Council awaits.”

“Ugh, do we really have to call it ‘my Council,’” I whined.

“You became the de facto leader. You are the strongest mage. So, yes it is your Council.”

I sighed mournfully and allowed her to drag me away.

Chapter Text

It had taken me three weeks to finally make it to the town of Lock Haven, home of the Bear King and the Ice Pack. That bitch, Nyx Allistar, had nearly killed me that night in Old Towne, but I was sure that I had returned the favor twice fold. She shouldn’t have even been alive, but there was no mistaking a pure black werewolf streaking across the grounds. That didn’t matter now, I was home and I had to face the music.

I limped my way up the castle gates and banged on the door. The door slit opened and I saw eyes glare at me.

“Whadya want, wolf,” his menacing voice asked.

Holding myself as steady as I could, I replied, “I’m here to see the Bear King.”

He scoffed, “His highness has no need for a broken down werewolf. Be off wid ya.”

“It’s important,” I said desperately. “Tell him his spy has returned.”

“You, his spy? Don’t make me laugh, wolf. Now get off or you will regret it.”

I glared at him and then made him open the door for me. Sometimes, having strong telepathy had it’s perks. I walked past him and tapped him on his cheek. He stared dumbly at me and then closed the door. I continued on my way and made it 20 feet into the courtyard before I was surrounded by his guards.

“Just stop right there, wolf,” the head guard said. “State your business.”

“I’m here to see the Bear King. I’ve just come back from Old Towne. I have news to report.”

He barked a laugh, “Wolf, Old Towne was destroyed, killing everyone. No one survived and you expect him to see you.”

“Yes. Tell him that de Pakstoka’s Second didn’t die 8 years ago. He’ll understand.”

He growled menacingly, “What do you mean that bitch survived?”

“It is of no concern of yours, wor heda. It’s for the Bear King’s ears only.”

He glared at me, but then sent one of his men to inform the King. I could barely stand and swayed to keep upright as I waited. When he returned, he whispered in the wor heda’s ear. They both grinned maliciously and I knew that it would not bear well for me.

“The king has agreed to meet with you, wolf,” the wor heda replied, “but I am afraid that you are not attired properly.”

I was roughly thrown to the ground and my arms pulled behind my back as they placed shackles on my wrists. Then I was hauled up and nearly dragged to the throne room, where I was unceremoniously thrown at the foot of the dais that led to the throne. I scrambled to my knees and kept my head down.

“Well, this is certainly an interesting turn of events,” King Roan said, “40 of my sleuth killed and yet the one wolf I employ now lays at my feet. Tell me why I should not kill you, Loufa.”

“My king,” I humbly said, “I have no reason to dissuade you from killing me. I come before you to relay news and nothing more.”

“And what news is that, wolf?”

“Nyx Allistar did not die eight years ago. Gustus lied.”

“And you know this how?”

“She was the one that destroyed Old Towne, my liege. There was no mistaking the werewolf that I fought with from that night. It was Nyx Allistar.”

“I see, were you finally successful in killing her?”

“I do not know. Before the ground opened up and fire rained down from the sky, a hole opened up beneath me and I lay buried several feet underground. She was nearly dead before the hole opened up, but even if she somehow made it, I marked her.”

“That’s the first smart thing that has come out of your mouth, wolf. Do you know what the two of you have cost me?”

I shook my head and replied, “I do not.”

“You have cost me eight years of information on Lexa Devereux. Eight years! I was also paid a visit from the Coalition for violating the laws in regards to unsanctioned moves. On top of that, they knew exactly what you had been up to in Old Towne. Explain this to me, wolf.”

“I have no explanation, my king. We operated under the radar and discreetly. I made sure that there was no leakage. We made sure that the Coalition had no reason to look our way.”

“Apparently, that was not the case, wolf. You have failed me twice now.”

“Yes, Sire.”

“Do you know how that bitch was able to enter the compound without alerting the guards?”

“It is possible that she was able to procure a vial or potion that masked her true scent and made her smell like one of yours. There is only one person in Old Towne who dabbles in were scents. A frikdreina. She would also be the one to tell you where Nyx Allistar resides.”

“And you know how to find this frikdreina?”

“I do.”

“Very well. You have one last chance to impress me, wolf. You will find this frikdreina and use whatever means necessary to find and end Nyx Allistar. And to impress upon you the importance of this, you will be marked. Should you fail me a third time, it will be your last.”

“Y-ye-yes, Sire,” I stammered out, fear gripping me tightly. “I understand.”

“Good,” he replied. “Wor heda, if you will do the honors.”

“As you command, Sire,” the man said and came up behind me.

He pulled my hair aside and tore my shirt at the shoulder. I tensed and then he bit my shoulder, marking me. I bit my tongue hard enough to taste blood so I wouldn’t scream. I sagged and whimpered in pain.

“Thank you, wor heda. Escort her to the healer and make sure she is ready to travel in 24 hours.”

“Yes, your majesty. It will be so,” the man replied and I was hauled up to my legs and taken to the healer.

Twenty-four hours later I found myself sandwiched between two hulking brutes and on our way to Old Towne and the frikdreina’s residence.

We pulled up to her home four hours later and I found myself snarling in disgust. My companions looked down at me and smiled bitterly. I quickly looked back down and we climbed out. They pushed me in front of them as we walked up the path. As we neared the front steps, the door opened and we came face to face with a human. He took one look at us and slammed the door shut throwing a half dozen locks before we heard pounding foots racing away.

“He’ll tell her we’re here,” I said. “She’ll get away from us before we get our answers.”

Two of them quickly rounded to the back of the house as a third crashed through the front door. We entered quickly and began searching for her. I took a whiff of the air and nearly gagged at the stench of all the animal scents she had stocked up on, making it difficult to sniff her out. I growled and stalked down the hallway and paused by the door that led to the basement. Kicking it open, I waited a moment before climbing down. Near the bottom of the stairs, I ducked as a trap sprung and a log of embedded scrap metal swung directly for my head. I heard a grunt from behind me and I guessed one of the bears hadn’t thought to duck. Then came the sound of it being forcibly removed and we continued down. It was nothing but a large room with plenty of hiding places. I took another whiff and smiled grimly when I caught their scent. I looked back over my shoulder and indicated where they were. He nodded and moved surprisingly quietly as he made his way to them from behind. I stalked forward and as I neared the corner, something rushed me. It was the human and he tackled me to the ground, but I easily overpowered him. There was a scream and the bear emerged with the struggling frikdreina.

He must have called his buddies, because soon the basement was filled with four bears, myself, the frikdreina, and her human. One of the other bears grabbed the human from me with an evil glare. I straightened my clothes and approached her.

“Well, well, well, isn’t it Emori the frikdreina and her little pet human,” I mockingly said. “You’ve caused one hell of a problem for the Ice Pack.”

She spit at me and I calmly wiped my face and looked down at my hand. Quickly, I slapped her across her face and the bears laughed.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” I said. “We know it was you that gave Nyx Allistar the vial to make her smell like one of them, frikdreina. I suggest you tell us what you know or your pet human won’t look so good.”

To demonstrate, the one holding him snapped his arm in half making him scream in pain. Her eyes widened in fear, but she remained silent.

“Hmm, maybe a broken arm isn’t enough. Break his other arm.”

There was another snapping sound and the human screamed again. She flinched at the noise, but still would not speak.

“Oh, yes, now I get it; broken bones heal. Maybe we should go after a irreplaceable spot. Maybe the eyes,” I said, watching her closely. “Hmm, no. Maybe the removal of an organ.” Her eyes widened and I knew I was getting closer. “Oh, yes, of course! Now, I understand why you have a pet human. He’s the only way you’ll get laid.”

She looked behind me and said weakly, “Please no. Not that, please.”

I looked behind me and the bear was cupping the human’s groin. He gave it a little squeeze and the human whimpered.

I turned back and said, “If you don’t want us to remove his manhood, tell us what we want and we’ll let the little human live.”

Tears streaming down her face, she nodded, “What is it you wish to know?”

I patted her cheek and said, “There’s a good girl. Did you or did you not sell a werebear scent to Nyx Allistar?”

She swallowed and replied, “I did.”

“Did you or did you not know what she was planning?”

“No, but I knew she was headed to your compound.”

“And how did you know about the compound.”

“Overheard some other werebears discussing the place.”

“Were these bears Ice Pack?”

“No. They were black bears east of Forest Pack’s territory.”

“The most important question then. Do you know where we can find Nyx Allistar?”

She quickly looked up at me and then down at her feet as she nodded.

“Where is she?”

“I don’t know where she is exactly, but I know where she lives. A brownstone on the opposite side of town. Her’s is the one farthest away from the street entrance.”

“Is there anything we need to know about the house?”

“It’s, um, it’s warded against strangers. It’s a powerful ward. No one’s been able to break through it.”

I nodded, “What is the name of the street where these brownstones are located?”

“I’m not sure the name of the street, but I can take you there. Just please don’t hurt John anymore.”

“Ah, he has a name,” I said sweetly, then coldly, “Kill him.”

They both screamed and I turned around and watched as the human was ripped limb by limb apart. The bear calmly licked the blood from his hands and gave me a smile.

I shuddered and said, “Let’s go.”

We walked outside the house and I told them, “Burn the house down.”

As we climbed back into the vehicle, the house was burning merrily away and the frikdreina was a ball of tears. One of them smacked her silent and soon we were moving through town, heading to the home of one Nyx Allistar.

We arrived near dusk and found the brownstone exactly where she said it would be. We all climbed out and confirmed that there was a ward in place. The bears decided to use their powers at once and blasted the ward. If fell in a shattering of fireworks. Moving cautiously, because we knew Nyx’s reputation. Everyone spread out as we searched her home. I prowled around the downstairs, hauling the frikdreina behind me. Sniffing the air, I growled in frustration. The scent was old. She hadn’t been here in weeks. Even so, I continued my search until I came to a warded door. I called for a couple of the bears and together, they broke down this ward too. We made it halfway down the stairs when the ground started shaking violently. I quickly ran downstairs and made a speedy search for anything of note or importance, but there was nothing but a huge set up of monitors, two separate labs, but nothing I could take with me. The ground gave another violent shake and I ran back upstairs. One of the bears still held on to her and I quickly took her and threw her down the stairs, slamming the door shut and jamming it in place. That was when we all heard small explosions in the basement and her screams. The kitchen exploded, then the living room. The upstairs was already engulfed in flames. We ran out of the house amid fire and explosions. When we got back to the car, we turned as the shaking grew more violent, the explosions more concussive. As one, we turned and watch the house implode in on itself and then explode outwards, raining debris over the entire area. We ducked and waited for everything to settle.

I walked among the debris, shoving things aside and turning others over. When I got to where the basement used to be, I only saw bloodstained concrete and a few papers fluttering in the wind. I picked up as many as the papers as I could and held onto them as the wind suddenly picked up. I stood up and looked around and the landscape showed no similar movement. The hairs on the back of my neck stood straight and I quickly bolted from the rubble. I felt the air churn behind me and loose debris began to whirl around. I glanced back and saw a small tornado forming over the basement.

We quickly left the area and made our way to a stash house. We were covered in dust, but all of us had made it out of there with minimal damage to our persons. I immediately went to the table and began going through the papers I had collected. Most of them were invoices, cost of materials and delivery slips, emails from clients with the names blacked out for privacy, but my biggest discovery were several photographs. The pictures were of three people. A blonde woman, a dark haired woman, and a dark haired man. I set these aside and threw the rest of the papers away.

One of the bears came over and looked at the photos and asked, “Who are these people?”

“I don’t know,” I replied, “But I know who we can ask. It’s time to pay the Garrison Commander a visit.”

He grinned at me and we began to plan.

Chapter Text

Sephy and I spent hours catching up. She told me how mother was training her to become the next Second for the Southern Pack and I regaled her with tales of my jobs. Finally, she claimed tiredness and I let her climb into the top bunk. Gaia was already asleep on the bottom. I headed out of the truck and climbed onto the roof. I laid there staring up at the night sky, marveling at seeing Sephy again. She had grown up so much in eight years and it saddened me that I hadn’t been here to watch it.

Soon, melancholy settled over me and I couldn’t fall asleep. I sat back up and rested my arms against my knees and my chin on my arms. The past reared it’s ugly head and I began to replay the memory of the aftermath of that night. I remembered waking up in a cell and shackled to the wall. I couldn’t understand why I was there. Hadn’t I nearly single handily pushed back the Ice Pack, I thought to myself that day. I didn’t know how many of my pack had survived or even if Lexa’s sisters or my brother were still alive. Looking down at myself, I was covered in dried blood and covered in claw marks, slashes, and cuts. The claw marks confused me. They weren’t from bear claws, instead they looked like wolf claws. I spent most of the day getting more confused and angry and hurt because I didn’t know what had happened that caused me to end up in a cell.

Guards came and laid down food near me, but they refused to look at me or talk to me. I yelled at them to tell me what I did. I screamed it, but they turned a deaf ear to me and left me alone again. I remember looking at the food and my stomach turned at the sight of it. I remembered that I couldn’t eat or drink while I was there. I had been there three days before someone finally came to speak with me.

I was escorted to an interrogation room and shackled to a table. At that point, my life was merrily turned upside down. I was questioned mercilessly about why I attacked my own pack. I told them over and over again that I didn’t. That I was fighting Ice Pack because they were killing my men. They showed me photographs and pointed out only wolf marks on the dead. Black fur tufts. Teeth marks that resembled my wolf’s bite. Photo after photo were shown to me of the dead. Then they presented me with the worst ones. My brother and Lexa’s sisters. Their bodies were shredded, throats torn out. I burst into sobs seeing those images. But I remained adamant about the fact that it was the Ice Pack who killed them not me. They showed me written testimony of survivors saying that I had gone and killed everyone. That they saw me kill my own brother before I attacked Lexa’s sisters.

Then they began asking why I did it. Was I jealous of Lexa’s power. Did I kill Lexa’s sisters to wipe out the Devereux family. Did I want to become the next de Pakstoka. Had I been paid to kill them. Why did I really want to marry Lexa. On and on the questioning continued until I screamed obscenities at them and tried to use my powers against them, attack them. I was quickly subdued and tranq’d. I was in that cell for a week before they allowed me to wash and given clean clothes. That was when I knew. I knew that I hadn’t been believed. That there was some dark and twisted reason why I killed all those people.

When I saw Lexa, I wanted to run to her and wrap my arms around her and say sorry over and over again. But, I couldn’t and the cold, dispassionate look on her face told me everything I needed to know. Not even she believed me. When I glanced at what was once my place on the Council sat Gustus Sprague. He looked at me with joy that I was going to get what I deserved. He was enjoying seeing me shackled and looking like shit. I sneered at him, but it only seemed to make it more amusing to him.

Then Lexa spoke and I could hear the sorrow, pain, rage and loss in her voice. I nearly crumpled to the floor, but two guards held me up. There was no gloss over of my crime. There was no talk about making a decision. There was only my punishment. I expected death because of the overwhelming evidence saying that I had committed the crime. Instead, she threw me out of the pack, banished me from the Forest Pack territory, and placed a kill order if I ever dared step foot across the border.

I remembered cries of outrage and tears streaming down faces as people broke down. I was taken away and thrown into a truck. I wasn’t even allowed to say goodbye to mother or Sephy. We didn’t head to the border until Gustus climbed in the back. It was just me and him in the back. That was when he attacked me and I couldn’t fight back. He had broken nearly every bone in my body. I felt organs rupture and blood coursing down my body as he slashed me again and again with a knife. By the time we reached the border, I was barely conscious. And he tossed me like a rag doll across the border, leaving me to die.

I shook my head dispelling the memory and forced myself to think only about the present. I heard someone get out of the truck and watched as Sephy climbed up and joined me.

“Couldn’t sleep,” she asked as she sat next to me.

“No,” I replied. “My memories are haunting me tonight.”

“It’s not because of me, is it,” she asked, worried.

I gave her a small smile and said, “No, sweetheart. It’s being here and knowing how much I have missed this place. It’s seeing her again. Since Gustus visited me in Old Towne, my nightmares have come back.”

“I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time, Nyx,” she said softly as she drew my hand to hold onto. “You’ve been through so much and all I’ve done is grow up happy.”

“Don’t feel guilty for being happy, Seph. I glad that you’ve been happy. It makes my banishment feel less like a burden knowing that you and mother are happy and safe.”

She had been idly tracing the lines of my palm when she ran her fingers over my scar. She stopped and brought it more into the light. I cringed at seeing it. I usually kept those scars covered.

“Nyx,” she asked.

“Yes, I tried to kill myself shortly after the banishment. Gustus had nearly killed me before he had thrown me across the border. I was able to crawl to a hiding place where I found a jagged piece of rock and decided that I shouldn’t be alive. I couldn’t face living and knowing I could never step foot on my home again. That I couldn’t see you or Mother. I couldn’t see my friends. Banishing me was worse then death at that moment and I had the courage to do what she couldn’t.”

“But, you’re alive and you’ve made a life for yourself.”

I nodded, “It was because of the kindness of a stranger who had stumbled across me as I was bleeding to death. She took me in and nursed me back to health and she kept telling me over and over again that everything would be okay. That I would never truly be alone because of Mother Earth. Eventually, I began to believe her and that was when my life began again. It wasn’t until much later that I went back to that place and found nothing there. No sign of there ever being a house there. That was when I realized that the woman who had nursed me back to life and given me new purpose had been Mother Earth, Herself. From that day, I vowed that I would do everything in my power to repay Her for Her help. It’s why I became an Enforcer and have the reputation to pick and choose my jobs. Why I had the money to help those that really needed it, but couldn’t afford it.”

“And that’s why you’re here now. You still care about the pack and the Apex at the camp. You’re trying to end the conflict without causing more death and even begrudgingly helping the humans.”

I smiled at her and hugged her, “Yes. That is it exactly.”

Determined to bring on a better mood, she asked slyly, “So, you and Clarke seemed to be getting cozy if that kiss goodbye means anything.”

I made a face and pushed her, making her nearly fall off before she caught herself.

“I wouldn’t say cozy,” I replied. “I’ve only slept with her the one time. This is the longest time I’ve spent with her and I spent most of it answering questions.”

“And yet it appeared that you only had eyes for one another. You like her.”

“I do, but it almost feels like something more then like. Not love, though. There’s something there that draws me in and I want her.”

“Like want enough to claim her?”

I laughed, “Please don’t give my wolf any ideas, Sephy. Right now, all I know is that I want her and she seems to want me.”

“Oh, she definitely wants you. It was as plain as day. You should go after her.”

I grimaced, “I don’t know. There’s just so much craziness hanging over everybody’s head. We have to wait for the Council to decide how this situation will be handled.”

“I think curing the humans would be a big step in creating a solution.”

“I’d like to think so, but they far outnumber the Apex in the camp. These people do not know how much the world has changed and still think they’re at the top of the food chain. Look at what happened to Jessamine. They thought her only a wolf and thought it would be funny to shock her until they were forced to stop. Yet, she still died at their hands. What would they do to those that are still inside the camp if the truth were found out? It would be a massacre.”

“Then you need to convince the human leaders that this is how the world works now and that it’s the Apex who are in charge and not them.”

“I agree, but Clarke and her council of Apex are the only leaders the camp has. From what I’ve been able to glean, the leaders are currently suffering from the neurotoxin.”

She nodded, “All the better to find a cure.”

“Agreed.”

A loud alarm sounded from inside the truck and we both jumped off the truck as Gaia opened the back door.

“What is that noise,” Gaia yelled over the sound of the alarm.

“What’s going on,” Persephone asked.

I rushed inside and silenced the alarm and switched the computers over to my home in Old Towne. I watched as huge men walked into the house and spread out searching. Then a woman entered dragging Emori behind her. They searched and came to the warded door that led to our office. They got the door opened and started climbing down the stairs. They only made it halfway before the ground started shaking. The woman ran down the rest of the way and looked around quickly, but left again as the ground shook more violently. The last image of the basement showed Emori being thrown into the basement before the explosions started going off. I switched the camera to the one that was set up a few houses down and I zoomed in. The men and woman ran out of the house and made it to their car before the house imploded and exploded. I quickly grabbed screenshots of the men before they piled into the car. The woman had returned to the rubble and was quickly gathering papers before the wind had picked up more. When she turned around enough for me to grab a screen shot, I froze.

Eight years was a long time, but I had never forgotten her face. The woman who had spoken to me right before I had walked away from my post. I was sure of it as sure as I knew that Persephone was my little sister.

“Was that…,” Sephy started to ask.

“My house, yes,” I answered.

“What just happened,” Gaia asked.

I shook my head a little to clear it and answered, “Before we left to come here, Ben and I set up multiple wards around the house and in the basement where our office is. When the ward covering the house was broken, it started a chain of events. First, our physical servers downloaded onto another one and then it was wiped. When the process is done, the ground quakes which sets off explosives that we’d laid out over the entire foundation and throughout the house itself. The explosions and quakes then set off the big one and the house crumbles on itself and explodes outward. Lastly, the tornado is what cleans up the debris and destroys any information.”

“So, your home is gone,” Sephy said.

“Yes. There’s nothing in Old Towne to go back to. Ben and I will have to start over,” I said still staring at the screen shot of the woman.

“Why are you staring at this one,” Gaia asked pointing to her.

“She’s the one who got me to walk away,” I said bitterly.

“Who is she?”

“I don’t know, but when I find her, I’ll kill her for doing this to me.”

“Who were they,” Sephy asked.

“Ice Pack. My last job with the Coalition was to gather information on why they were in Old Towne and then destroy their compound.”

“How did they find out it was you?”

“The frikdreina, Emori. They must have realized that I used northern werebear scent to get in. She led them to me. Boom goes my home.”

“Do they know that you’re here,” Gaia asked, concerned.

“No. I told no one that we were coming here,” I replied dispassionately.

“That was smart,” Sephy said.

I nodded, “I need to tell Ben. His set up doesn’t have the alarms.”

“We’ll give you some privacy.”

“Thank you,” I replied and they left. I sighed and turned the radio to Ben’s frequency. “Ben, you there?”

There was static and then Ben’s voice said, “I’m here, Boss. You don’t sound so good.”

“I’m not. The house is gone. Ice Pack figured out it was me that destroyed their compound.”

“Fuck. Did everything go like we planned?”

“Yeah. I watched the whole thing.”

“How do you know it was Ice Pack?”

I sent him the photos and replied, “No one else could have figured it out and there is no mistaking these guys for another bear pack.”

There was a pause and then he asked, “Who’s the woman? She doesn’t look like your typical northern female were.”

“I don’t know, but she’s the one that got me banished. I remember her.”

“You’re kidding, right? Please tell me you’re kidding.”

“I’m not and if she is with Ice Pack…”

“Ice Pack is trying to get to Forest Pack.”

“Yes.”

“That’s something to add to my list of Ice Pack information.”

I creased my brow in confusion and asked, “What do you mean, Ben?”

“I finally got around to looking on their server. It’s not good, boss. They’ve been monitoring the Forest Pack, especially de Pakstoka for the last eight years. Who she speaks with, where she frequents, who she takes to bed, a lot of personal information that they should not have. Information that wouldn’t be known outside of Clifton.”

“They have a spy.”

“It looks like it. There’s even rosters of how many warriors, scouts, etc. each border pack has. Even weak spots of where someone could get in.”

“Ben, lock the server down immediately. Put the strongest encryption you have on it. Speak to no one about this and I mean absolutely no one. Do you understand me?”

“Perfectly. I’ll be done in a few keystrokes.”

“Good. We’re heading back to Clifton. I’ll leave the drones running, the long distance range won’t be a problem. And I’ll lock down the truck.”

“Alright. Should I tell anyone that you’re on your way back?”

“No. Absolutely not.”

“Got it. Be careful, Nyx.”

“I will. See you soon.”

“See you soon.”

I cut the transmission and stepped out of the truck. I found Gaia and Sephy around her buggy.

They looked at me expectantly and waited for me to get closer.

“Is everything okay,” Gaia asked seeing my face.

“No, we need to head to Clifton immediately,” I told her.

“Wait, why,” Sephy asked.

“There’s more then one reason why they blew up my house.”

“What is it?”

I looked them over carefully and discreetly examined their minds. I read nothing but concern and worry. No sign of fear. I relaxed slightly.

“The compound was gathering information on the Forest Pack.”

“That’s nothing new,” Gaia said, confused.

“You’re right, it’s not. It’s the type of information they have. They’ve been monitoring de Pakstoka closely. A little too closely. Personal information. Who she speaks with, sleeps with. Where she goes and for how long. Her favorite food. Everything.”

“Someone’s leaking information,” Gaia said as it dawned on her.

“And we can’t tell anyone. Not until we’re there ourselves,” I said.

“When do we leave,” Sephy asked determinedly.

I looked up at the sky and saw the night sky already fading.

“At dawn we’ll leave. Gaia, you and Sephy will take the buggy. I’m taking the bike. The truck will be fine here.”

They both nodded and helped load the weapons onto the bike and the buggy. I took a small camera and climbed a nearby tree. I placed the camera giving me the perfect view of the truck and the immediate area. I couldn’t trust anyone now.

We ate a quick meal at dawn and then headed out to Clifton. I stayed long enough to set up emergency triggers, took a vidscreen, and placed every ward we had on the truck, locking it up tight. I took one last look in the direction of the camp and then I was racing through the forest.

What usually took five hours, we made it in three. We skidded to a halt in front of the mansion and grabbing a few guns, rushed straight to Ben’s lab. The mansion guards followed us inside the house, but Gaia stopped them at the door. She gave me a look and I nodded, closing the door behind me.

Startled, Ben said, “Wow, that was fast.”

I smiled ruefully and replied, “Time is of the essence, Ben. If Ice Pack knows that we cloned their servers and then wiped them clean, the Bear King may very well decide not to wait. If that happens, war.”

He nodded, “What do you need?”

“Print outs of the most important information from their servers. Her personal information, the rosters of the border packs. Everything else you think pertinent. You know what I need. Then print out those screen shots of the people who blew up our home.”

He had already begun to print out the information as I was talking and I smiled that he knew me so well.

“Here you go, boss,” he said as he handed them to me.

I kissed him on top of his head, making him blush as I took the papers from him. I dug around for a folder and stuffed them inside.

“Ben, do we have one of our null devices?”

“Yeah, sure,” he replied as he dug around in one of the cargo boxes. “You think it’s necessary?”

“Damn right I do.”

“What’s a null device,” Sephy asked as she looked closer at it.

“It disables any and all types of listening devices and cameras,” Ben explained. “It also restricts telepathy, so there’s absolutely no way for anyone to communicate from inside the area to outside it.”

“It’s a way to make sure a private conversation stays private,” I said taking in and putting it in my pocket. “Sephy, I need you to stay here and guard Ben. If anyone tries to force their way in, shoot them.”

She nodded and placed herself in front of Ben who looked at me fearfully.

“I know this is something you are not used to, but you are very important and the information you have cannot be compromised.”

He nodded and swallowed thickly.

I opened the door and Gaia asked, “Got it?”

“Yep, I need Indra, Gustus, and Lexa to meet me in her office,” I answered.

She nodded at me as she quirked an eyebrow. I ignored the fact that I had just said her name aloud and walked quickly to her office. I turned on the null device as soon as I entered and began looking for bugs that I knew would be in here. By the time the three of them had arrived, I’d already made a small pile of the ones I had found and I was climbing a bookcase to get to the top three shelves.

“What are you doing,” Lexa yelled at me.

I said nothing, but pointed to the coffee table. I found five more bugs and climbed back down and tossed them into the pile.

“Are those bugs,” Lexa asked.

“Yeah, I found over twenty bugs planted throughout the office.”

“How? Gustus checks the office everyday.”

I looked at Gustus and asked, “Well?”

He replied, “And everyday there are no bugs, but somehow miraculously Nyx has found over twenty of them in one visit. How do we know that you didn’t plant them yourself? You are a spy after all.”

I bent over and rifled through them until I came to one with a logo and handed it to Lexa, “Because all of mine are custom built. We don’t use store bought listening devices or cameras. It defeats the purpose of having a techno mage partner.”

I then pulled out several of my own bugs and handed them to Lexa as well. She looked them over carefully and then handed all of them back to me.

She looked at Gustus and said, “She speaks the truth, Gustus. These are not hers.”

“She’s lying,” he said loudly, “She is tricking you, Pakstoka. You can’t believe a word this natrona says. Remember what she did. She killed nearly her entire command so that she could take over the pack!”

I quietly seethed as I watched him closely. His eyes quickly looked around the room and I noticed that they would stop at certain spots in the room. Several of them I hadn’t even checked. I pulled the objects that were there to us and quickly removed six more bugs.

“Thanks, Gustus. I knew I hadn’t found them all yet,” I said as I placed them on the pile.

“Lies,” he roared at me. He charged me, but I quickly wrapped him up in metal and he landed heavily on the ground.

“What is the meaning of this,” Lexa demanded.

“You have a spy in your pack, probably more,” I said as I handed her the folder.

She opened it immediately and began going through the documents, face slowly contorting in anger. She handed it over to Indra, who started looking through it herself.

“Explain,” she said, her voice deadly.

“My last job with the Coalition was to infiltrate and gather information on an unauthorized Ice Pack compound in Old Towne. Before I blew it up, Ben copied their servers and then wiped them clean of any trace. This is just some of the information that was on the servers.”

“More lies,” Gustus spat.

“The truth doesn’t lie, Gustus. There is no way I would know Lexa’s daily routine now. Or who she’s been speaking with, who she’s slept with or even know if she was sleeping with anyone. I have no clue as to how many pack members are patrolling the border, nor do I know of any weak spots along the border. I wasn’t lying about honoring the banishment. I have not stepped one foot past the border in eight years. The only one who would be privy to this kind of information is you, Gustus,” I accused.

“Lies!”

“Why would I lie about any of this!”

“You want to discredit me. You want your position back. Of course you would. You planned this when I told you she would end your banishment, remove the kill order and let you back into the pack,” he sneered at me.

I walked over and kneeled beside him, “I don’t care about becoming Second again! Are you implying that I knew that she would eventually lift all of these things? And that you are accusing me of gathering this information secretly for the last eight years. It took me over a year to heal after you left me for dead just across the border. It took me another two to even have the resources to spy on my targets successfully. You tried to kill me even after Lexa ordered you to not to harm me. So, tell me; why would I lie when I thought there was nothing to gain?”

“I told you, Lexa, that he did not obey your orders,” Indra said.

Lexa nodded, “You did. I cannot believe that this has been happening under my nose for eight years.”

“It’s not your fault,” I said standing up and walking over to her. “You were hurt, angry, and grieving. Nobody would have been capable of seeing this if they were in your shoes. Nobody. But I do have to ask, how did a fourth tiered family gain the duty of Second?”

“His family was the only one who volunteered,” Indra said. “None of the first, second, or third tiered families wanted to take on the responsibility. The Allistars had set too high of a standard.”

I nodded, “Then the question arises, what else was he promised for betraying his pack?”

The communicator beeped on my belt, drawing everyone’s gaze.

Pulling it out, I asked, “Clarke, is everything okay?”

“No, it’s not. The antidote that you said would slow down the spread actually does the opposite. It’s accelerates it and now people are dead.”

“How many?”

“Twenty. We stopped the injections after the first three died.”

“Good.”

“Nyx, the humans are calling for retaliation. They want to kill the prisoners. I’ve moved all of the prisoners and have placed them in a more secure location. Octavia’s pack is guarding them.”

I looked around and Lexa and Indra’s face paled at the news, “That’s good. Really good. The pack will know what to do if they’re attacked.”

“How?! They’re not trained to fight.”

“It doesn’t matter. Every wolf knows how to fight, their wolves will too. You’ve got to trust me on this, please. I’m going to do everything I can to fix this, I swear to Mother Earth.”

“I want to trust you, Nyx, but…”

“I understand,” I said heavily. “Give me 72 hours, that’s all I’m asking for.”

“72 hours?”

“Yes.”

“And what happens after your 72 hours are up?”

I looked at Lexa and she nodded her head.

“Then you have permission to execute the prisoners if I can’t get you anything by then. There will be no retaliation from de Pakstoka or the Forest Pack.”

“Alright. You have your 72 hours.”

I looked down at Gustus and snarled, “Your betrayal holds no bounds, Gustus.”

I stormed over to the door and opened it and seeing Gaia, I said, “Bring me the chemist by any means necessary without killing her or damaging her enough that she cannot speak.”

She nodded and took off with two guards following her.

I closed the door and slumped into an armchair. No one said a word for a moment.

Indra asked as she placed the photographs on the table, “Nyx, who are these people?”

Not even glancing, I replied, “Ice Pack members that blew up my house.”

“And this woman? She looks familiar, but I cannot recall her name.”

“That is the woman who convinced me to leave my post eight years ago. She told me that Indra needed to speak with me and when I rounded the corner and out of sight, I remembered that Indra wasn’t even at the northern border, but still in the south. I ran back and then…”

I watched as Lexa took the photo of the woman and as she studied it, she appeared to think of something. She walked over to her desk and went through her drawers. She found what she was looking for and pulled out a file.

“These are the application requests to join the pack from eight years ago,” she said as she placed the folder down on the table and opened it up. Turning the papers quickly, she stopped when she came across a photo of the same woman.

I leaned forward and looked it over. Her name was Echo, no last name. She said that she crossed the border from the west, which had been confirmed, claiming that she was born in black bear territory. Then came the big news, her only power was telepathy and it was off the charts powerful.

Lexa sat down on the couch and laid her head in her hands and said, “You were manipulated. You really thought that you were fighting off Ice Pack.” She moved her head to look at me and said, “I’m sorry that I didn’t believe you. Can you ever forgive me?”

Seeing the pain on her face, I realized that I had forgiven her a long time ago. I got up and kneeled in front of her.

I took one of her hands and said, “I forgave you a long time ago, Lex. If the roles had been reversed with all the evidence contradicting the story, I would have probably done the same thing. I may have executed instead of banishment, but that’s neither here nor there. We have much more pressing issues in front of us.”

She smiled at me and pulled me into a hug that I willingly returned. The door opened up, breaking us apart, and the guards entered with the chemist between them. They shoved her into the room and left. I got up and grabbing her by the throat, slammed her into the wall.

With barely controlled fury, I asked, “What did you do, chemist?”

“I,I,I don’t know what you mean,” she stammered.

I slammed her against the wall and said, “Twenty more humans lie dead because of the recipe you gave me. Twenty! And now you’ve placed your fellow pack members in extreme danger! Did you do this on your own?”

Her eyes flickered around, and I noticed them settle briefly on Gustus’s prone body.

“How much did he pay you to change the recipe? How much,” I yelled at her.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. It’s the same exact recipe that I use for the antidote. There were no changes,” she protested.

I grabbed the communicator and said, “Clarke, do you hear me?”

“Yeah. What do you want?”

“I need Jasper to read me back the recipe.”

“Okay. Hold on.”

I looked around and spotted Gaia and I said to her, “Get me a syringe and a mixing set quickly.”

Once again, she ran off and returned with the items before I heard Jasper’s voice.

“You want me to read you the recipe,” he asked.

“Yes, slowly. I’m going to recreate it.”

“Why, your chemist should already have the recipe and should have vials of the stuff.”

“I now believe that she purposely made something to accelerate the spread. Just please read it back to me.”

“Alright.”

Holding my hand over the bowl, I created each ingredient he told me in the amounts that were given. When the last of the ingredients, Gaia took the bowl and started mixing it up. I cooked it down, releasing the juices which Gaia then drained into a glass. We finished it and Gaia inserted the liquid into the syringe and handed it to me.

I held it up to the chemist’s face and said, “What would happen, I wonder, if I injected this in you, chemist? Hmm?”

“Nothing. It’s the antidote,” she said weakly.

“Tsk, I don’t think so, but let’s see which one of us right, shall we?”

Gaia grabbed and turned her to face the wall, holding her there. I took her head and shoving the hair aside, exposing the base of the skull.

“You see, Lexa, Jasper showed me that the quickest way to reach our powers is through the base of the skull here,” I said as I slowly lowered the needle to the spot.

She bucked a little but Gaia and I held her firm.

“I’m going to give you one last chance. Answer my questions and I won’t injected you with whatever is in this syringe,” I said as sweetly as I could.

“I know nothing. I gave you the antidote, I swear,” she pleaded.

“I’m not buying it,” I said as I inserted the needle into her neck. She screamed, and I said, “Don’t move or I might accidentally push down.”

“Okay, okay. Just please don’t kill me. I’ll tell you what you want to know,” she said through tears.

“Good, but just in case you think about lying, the needle stays where it is and remember don’t move.”

“Okay,” she whispered. “What do you want to know?”

“Tell me what I have in my hand?”

“It’s the antidote, but I tweaked it. Instead of reversing the effects, it accelerates after showing an initial recession of the spread.”

“Did you do this on your own?”

“No.”

“Who helped you?”

“Gustus,” she said, and he growled at her, making her whimper in fear.

“Why?”

“Because they’re only humans, their lives don’t matter.”

“Did he tell you that there are over 100 humans in that camp and besides 19 Forest Pack members, there is another pack of 13, and 9 mages there.”

“No, but I knew about the prisoners.”

“Do you want all of their deaths on your hands because the humans found out about the Apex? There are 13 untrained werewolves protecting your pack members.”

“I didn’t know,” she cried. “I didn’t know, I swear!”

“What did he offer you?”

“A quarter of a million dollars to wipe the sick ones out,” she whispered.

Gaia whistled in appreciation and I wondered exactly how he had that much money to throw around.

“Have you even started looking for a cure?”

“I have, but when Gustus approached me, I abandoned it.”

“How far were you from completing it?”

“It was nearly complete.”

“What was missing?”

“The toxin itself and petals from dragon wings.”

“Did you record the ratio and quantities in your lab notes?”

“Yes.”

“And the boiling process?”

“Yes, I wrote everything down. It’s how I process the information.”

“Good girl,” I said as I looked back at Lexa. She nodded, and Gustus’s eyes widened in fear.

“You’re going to let me go now, right,” she asked hopefully.

“Tsk, you should know better by now, chemist,” I said sadly. “You went against de Pakstoka’s orders and killed twenty humans. You didn’t really think you’d get to live, did you?”

“No! No, wait,” she begged. “I’m the only Earth mage strong enough to be the pack’s chemist. You can’t do this to me! I’m important.”

I leaned in close and said, “You’re not the only one capable of being a chemist.”

She whimpered as I injected her with the serum. Gaia and I let go of her and she crumpled onto the floor. We stepped back, and everyone watched dispassionately as her body contorted and contracted, eyes bulged, and her mouth opened in a silent scream. I turned around when her body had stopped moving and Gaia grabbed the guards to haul the body away.

“I’m sorry you had to witness that, Lexa,” I said as I took a seat once more. “It’s part of the darker side of my career choice.”

“Where did I go wrong, Nyx,” she said as she sat heavily on the couch closest to me.

“I hate to seem callous, but it’s because you trusted Gustus like you had me and my family. It seems like you didn’t look into his lineage or speak with their neighbors or anything to get a good feel for him and his family. Instead, when he offered, you immediately said yes because no one else would.”

“You’re right. I didn’t do any of that even after your banishment, I didn’t look any further then what was in front of me. This is all my fault.”

“I’m not sure that it really is. From the evidence it would appear that you were manipulated and have been continued to be manipulated for the last eight years. If anyone is to truly take the blame, it would be the Bear King. This woman, Echo, is obviously in the employ of him. She infiltrated the pack and then got rid of me, placing Gustus in my stead. Gustus then continued to feed the Ice Pack information about you and the pack. He then seemed to act on his own agenda and tried to kill the humans in Manassas, which would have brought the Coalition here.”

“You didn’t have to kill her,” Gustus said from the ground.

I had momentarily forgotten him, so I lifted him off the ground and at him in the other chair.

“Yes, I did,” I replied. “She betrayed de Pakstoka and the pack. She took money from you in payment in an attempt to kill all the remaining adults in Manassas. Once someone betrays you, you cannot ever fully trust them again. I had de Pakstoka’s permission and I carried out the act, so she didn’t have to order it herself. And because it was me that did it during my duties of an Enforcer, the Coalition won’t be tempted to bat an eye in her direction.”

“Hmph, how noble of you,” he sneered at me.

“Nobility has nothing to do about it, Gustus. This is about doing what’s right and protecting my client. If you ever really cared about the pack or the true duties of being a Second, you would understand this. Instead, it seems to me that you only care about Power. And to bring up an earlier question, what else did they promise you in return for helping to get rid of me?”

“You’re fishing, Nyx,” he said smugly. “You have no proof that it was me who provided the Bear King this information. My failed attempt to kill you was because I always hated you and your self-righteous act. You made me sick. Your family made me sick. How can a family in your position not want to become de Pakstoka? How can a family remain devote to only serving when they can rule? It made me physically ill seeing your families together. Then to see the two of you together, so devoted to one another. So in love with one another. You were too perfect. It needed to be destroyed and I wanted to be the one to destroy it.”

I creased my brow in thought and said, “Let me see if I get this right, Gustus. It’s true that there is no physical evidence tying you to the information on the Ice Pack servers, but then again, we haven’t gone completely through the information. You and your family were jealous of the fact that the position of Second was hereditary and that it was my family that controlled it. Your family was jealous of how close the Allistars and Devereuxs were. You were jealous that Lexa and I fell in love and were planning on getting married, which would have only strengthened the leadership. And the most compelling evidence that you have just presented us, is that you couldn’t just grasp the concept that my family didn’t want to become de Pakstoka. Which implies that you are searching for a way to remove the last Devereux from power. Did I get that right?”

“Yes, wait, no,” he spluttered, “that’s not what I’m saying at all.”

I looked over at Indra and asked, “Did I mishear him then, Indra?”

“No, Nyx. I heard that as well,” she replied. “Pakstoka?”

“It appears that we have a traitor in our midst,” she said, standing up. “And it appears to be that Gustus Sprague is the traitor.”

“Agreed,” replied Indra.

Indra got up and called in two guards. They bowed and waited for instructions.

Looking coldly at Gustus, Lexa said, “Guards, this man is accused of treason of the highest order. He and his family are remanded into your custody until their fates are decided. Make sure that each family member is in a separate cell where they will be gagged and shackled to the walls.”

“Yes, Pakstoka,” one of them said and approached Gustus.

They looked around confusedly because he was still wrapped up in metal and couldn’t move. I quickly got to my feet and placing a hand on the metal, withdrew the power back into myself, leaving shackles on his wrists and ankles. When I moved out of the way, they unceremoniously heaved him up and dragged him away.

I stretched my arms overhead and sighed deeply, “Well, that was fun, but I need to get to the chemist’s lab if I’m going to make the cure. The sooner that’s done, the sooner we can convince the adults about the new reality.”

“Could you hold off on that, please,” Lexa asked.

I looked at her in question, “May I ask why?”

“I need to convene an emergency Council session and I want you there,” she replied.

“And why do you want me there,” I asked suspiciously.

“First off, they need to be informed of everything that has happened. Secondly, I’m announcing the permanent lifting of your banishment and kill order. Thirdly. Thirdly, I want to temporarily bring you back into the Pack and act as my Second until a new one is found.”

“Why would you think I’d accept the position, Lexa?”

“Because you said it yourself, it’s what’s right for the pack. Acting as my Second gives you back all the rights and privileges you once had. You will be directly speaking to the camp as my liaison, not a hired Enforcer. The Manassas pack and mages already listen and respect you. It makes sense to send you there in my stead until we can begin negotiations for a treaty. It makes doubly sense to do it as my Second.”

I growled low in my throat and said, “It’s not fair that you know how to still push my damn buttons, Lexa. Poke at my damn morals and ethics like that and I’ll do anything you want. That was one of the most irritating things about you.”

She laughed and said, “Thank you, Nyx. You won’t regret it.”

“I’m already regretting it,” I said under my breath and then more loudly said, “Then let’s convene the Council. I have work to do.”

Chapter Text

I sent Gaia to let Persephone and Ben know that it was safe to leave his lab, and that I would be in the Council meeting. She grinned at me and walked away. I followed Indra and Lexa to the council room and walked over to a set of French doors and looked out at the landscape. I watched in the reflection as Lexa approached me.

“You know,” Lexa said softly, “this was always the same set of doors you went to when you waited for the Council meetings to start.”

I made a noise that was similar to a scoff and said, “I didn’t realize that I was that predictable.”

She chuckled and leaned against the doorframe, “You are when it comes to where you’ll usually stand or sit or most likely head out to when you need to think. Otherwise, you’re not that predictable.”

I smiled, “So, there is still some mystery left in me. That makes me happy.”

“Thank you for all of this, Nyx,” she said as she looked up at me through her lashes. “At any point in time, you could have told me no and walked away from this whole situation, but you didn’t.”

“You know me, Lex. If there’s something I can do to help, I throw myself in head deep regardless of the consequences. I’ve met the Manassas Apex and they’re good kids. They deserve our help, my help. I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that I’m actively trying to save humans, but these humans were here long before our families resettled the region.”

“Even I can’t get over the fact that we’re trying to save them either. They became a subspecies less then 25 years after the apocalypse and now we have human genetics that comes from before then. I still don’t understand how out of probably 200+ humans, 22 are Apex.”

“More then likely the radiation slowly seeped in and as a whole they absorbed it, but it wasn’t until recently, say the last 25 years, that Apex were born.”

“Now that you say it that way, doesn’t it seem to parallel to what happened on the surface?”

“Huh. You could be right. This could just be a repeat of genetic history. It would make it easier to explain to them so that they understand what happened. I’ll keep it in mind.”

“Good,” she said quietly. “I’ve missed this, Nyx. These quiet introspective conversations when we gained clarity over a situation. We worked so well together.”

“I’ve missed it, too, Lexa. In truth, I’ve missed all of this, but we can’t go back to the way it was before. Not after everything.”

She looked at me sadly and said, “My head knows that, but my heart wants to forget it ever happened. I hadn’t realized how much I missed ‘us’ until I saw you in the office.”

Indra walked up to us then and said, “Everyone’s here.”

Lexa looked over at her and nodded. We walked over and the two of them took their places while I stayed standing behind Lexa.

“Where’s Gustus,” one of the Council members asked immediately.

“He has been removed from the position of Second,” Lexa answered dispassionately.

“May I inquire as to why?”

“You may. It is one of the reasons why I have called for you this emergency meeting.”

“Then why is Nyx Allistar standing in this room,” demanded another Council member. “She has no authority here, even as an Enforcer.”

“She is here at my behest, Councilor,” she said evenly. “Events have occurred that need our immediate attention. Now, as to the reason why Gustus Sprague is no longer Second. Compelling evidence has been brought to my attention that he has been selling sensitive information to the Ice Pack over the last eight years. If asked, the Coalition will confirm this information. On top of working for the Bear King, it has been revealed that he paid our chemist to eradicate the sick humans in Manassas. Which places our pack members, the newly formed pack of 13, and the 9 mages residing there in grave danger.”

One of the Council members slammed his fist on the table and stood up, “Impossible. Gustus Sprague has been a loyal Second since he took over 8 years ago. If anyone sold information to the Ice Pack, it would be the very one that massacred her own people and claimed the Ice Pack did it!”

Lexa stood up angrily and addressed the man, “That is enough! It has also come to light that 8 years ago a woman applied for membership whose only power was telepathy that tested off the charts. And if I remember correctly she came through your assigned border. What say you?”

He flustered for a moment and then replied, “There would be no way for me to know everyone’s true intention as they crossed the border, Pakstoka.”

“True, I will grant you that, but do we get so many border crossings that you would not recall a lone female werewolf seeking membership? The crossing would have happened a little over eight years ago.”

“Eight years is a long time to recall, Pakstoka. My memory is not as it once was.”

“Perhaps,” she replied thoughtfully, “But it is suspicious, Councilor. I recalled her immediately when a photo of her was shown to me. Would that perhaps help?”

“It may.”

She handed me the photo and I walked over to hand it to him. He refused to take it out of my hand, making me sigh in frustration, so I just laid it between him and another Council member and walked back.

“Councilor, does the photograph help you?”

I watched as he barely glanced at it and he replied, “No, Pakstoka. I do not recall this woman.”

“Then how do I know that she came from your border and her application bore your signature?”

Indra scoffed and said, “You barely looked at it, Councilor. Why don’t you look more closely? Even I thought she looked familiar upon seeing this photo and I am older then you are.”

He dutifully picked up the photo and looked at it more closely. When he placed it back down, he reiterated, “No, Pakstoka. I still do not recall her. She may have come through my border and I may have signed the application request, but I do not recall this woman.”

Nyx, Lexa asked.

I smelled a touch of fear from him, but I don’t know if it was because of me or the line of questioning. I’m sorry, I replied.

“Very well, Councilor. I am still suspicious of this lax of memory, but I will table that inquiry for another time.”

“Thank you, Pakstoka.”

I stared hard at him as something niggled at my thoughts and then, Lexa, wasn’t he the one that tried to convince you to sell that piece of land near his pack to the Ice Pack? The one that proved to be very valuable?

I felt a wave of surprise and then she said, You’re right, he did. There was a large deposit of gold found there when we surveyed it shortly after I refused to sell.

“Councilor, was it not you that proposed selling a piece of Forest Pack land near the border that met with Ice Pack land?”

“I beg your pardon, Pakstoka?”

“You know, that piece of land that we thought was barren.”

He thought and his eyes widened at the memory, “Yes, Pakstoka, I do recall the piece of land you are speaking of. I was approached by an emissary of the Bear King’s and he laid out a perfectly reasonable price for the area.”

“Why did the emissary not come with you to propose the deal himself to me?”

“I felt it unwise to allow a member of the Ice Pack further inland, Pakstoka.”

“It is strange that two members of Ice Pack crossed specifically at your border, Councilor. It would have made more sense for the emissary to come across the northern border, wouldn’t it? It is the more direct approach.”

“That is strange indeed, Pakstoka,” he replied nonchalantly, making me narrow my eyes at him.

“Could you tell me, Councilor, what was found on that bit of land after I refused the sale?”

“I believe it was a deposit of gold, Pakstoka.”

“That is correct. Now, why would Ice Pack want an apparently barren piece of land that soon after, we discovered gold on that land? It would seem that Ice Pack knew about the gold deposit and that we were ignorant of the fact.”

“It seems that they did indeed know what was on that land, Pakstoka.”

“So, we had an Ice Pack spy enter across your border that convinced and conspired with Gustus Sprague to spy on me. An emissary from the Bear King came to your border and not the northern border. He approached you, Councilor, with a sale of land proposal. He did not accompany you here to lay out the proposal himself. The land was later found out to have a large deposit of gold. Can you see that this lays a lot of suspicion on you, Councilor?”

He looked around at the room nervously and saw that members were slowly backing away from him, distancing themselves. I saw a look in his eyes that spoke volumes of desperation. I mentally tagged him and when he suddenly roared and jumped over the table to attack Lexa, I slammed him into the ground knocking him unconscious. Guards quickly snatched him up as everyone looked around in stunned disbelief.

“I guess that answers your questions, Pakstoka,” Indra said with a hint of humor.

“It does appear to be so,” she replied. “So, two pack members have been ousted as conspiring against de Pakstoka and the Forest Pack, committing treason.”

“Pakstoka,” a Council member spoke as she stood, “I am afraid to say that I can no longer hold my position dutifully. I resign my seat.”

“Very well, Councilor. I would suggest that you remove yourself and your family to your border pack and venture very little from there.”

“Thank you, Pakstoka,” she said bowing out.

“I think that it would be wise for me to also resign,” another Councilor said.

She waved him off and said, “Anyone else wish to resign? No, good. Then let’s get back to the business at hand. Now, besides leaking information to the Bear King, Gustus Sprague also paid the chemist off to change the antidote to accelerate the neurotoxin in the adults and as a result there have been 20 more deaths. Because of this, the current leader of the camp has removed our pack members to a more secure location that is being guarded by their untrained pack. We have been given 72 hours to come up with a cure before they kill our people.”

“That is not something any of us wish to happen, Pakstoka,” a Councilor spoke.

“Indeed,” another voiced.

“Is the chemist now back to working on the cure,” a third one asked.

“No, she is not. For her betrayal and taking a bribe from Gustus, she was found guilty of treason and swiftly executed. We no longer have an Earth mage strong enough to complete the experiment,” Lexa replied.

“Our men will die then,” someone moaned.

“Not necessarily,” Lexa said soothingly. “I said that we do not currently have a Earth mage strong enough, but we do have Nyx. Her Earth mage power is nearly as strong as our chemist’s. She is willing to continue the experiment.”

They looked at me gratefully and I politely inclined my head.

“Pakstoka,” someone asked, “If Gustus and this spy have been conspiring together for the last eight years, is it possible that they may have had something to do with removing the Allistars from Second?”

“Yes. The fact that she is an extremely powerful telepath, she could have very easily manipulated Nyx’s mind into believing she was really seeing Ice Pack slaughtering her men. Which she then acted accordingly, not knowing that she was really killing them herself. Because of this new information, her banishment and kill order have been rescinded permanently. She is no longer an enemy of Forest Pack. I have also temporarily brought her back into the pack for the duration of this trying time.”

“If you’ve allowed her back into the pack, I suggest that she takes her position as Second back,” a Councilor said.

“I second the motion,” another cried out and everyone else agreed loudly.

“Very well then,” Lexa said. “Nyx, will you become my Second for the duration of this situation and until another family may be found?”

“It would be my honor to serve de Pakstoka as I once did,” I said humbly.

“Then please, take your rightful place by my side.”

I sat down next to her and the room echoed with their cheers, making me blush.

“Okay, that’s enough,” Lexa said and the room quieted. “The plan is to have Nyx finish the cure and then deliver it to the camp within the next 72 hours. It is our hope that they will use the cure on their adult leaders. Once they are well, Nyx will act as my liaison and brief these leaders as to what happened in the 83 years they’ve lived below ground as well as what has happened to their own children. We believe that once they have had a chance to absorb this information, that they will be willing to open up negotiations for a peace summit.”

“What happens after they agree to a peace summit,” a Councilor asked.

“That is something we must discuss once Nyx is in the camp. She will stay there as long as she needs to be in order to convince the adults to agree to the summit.”

“It’s my hope that they will trade me for our pack as insurance that we will not attack nor harm the camp or the humans. As Second, I carry more weight in value then the 19 pack members,” I said.

“True enough,” said a Councilor. “It appears that the two of you have made an executable plan that should be successful. It makes my heart leap in joy to see you two working together again as it always should have been.”

“Thank you, Councilor,” I replied. “Your confidence in us makes me more determined to end this situation in a way that will benefit us all.”

She laughed, “You’ve always had a way with words, Nyx. I’m glad you’re back even if it is only temporary.”

I smiled and inclined my head, “Pakstoka, if there is nothing else that requires my attention, I would think it best for me to head to the chemist’s lab and begin working on the cure.”

She looked at me and smiled, “No, we can continue this without you. You have my permission to leave.”

“Thank you,” I said and stood up to bow. “I’ll keep you informed of my progress.”

She nodded and I left the Council Room. I let Ben and Persephone know what was going on and she hugged me tightly at my change of status. Ben congratulated me and said that there were no new developments at the camp. I hugged both of them and then finally made my way to the lab.

When I entered I was greeted by the most horrendous smell I never would have thought possible. In cages lay three humans laying in their own filth as they moaned in pain. I quickly stepped out of the lab and immediately threw up outside. Holding my breath, I quickly ducked back inside and turned on the fans that would draw the smell outside. I then grabbed several guard members and had them go in and clean the humans and cages out as I supervised. I made sure that the humans were handled gently and soon everything was clean and the humans were placed on hospital beds, lightly tethered to the rails.

I walked over to them and said, “I’m sorry for the way the chemist treated you. She should not have done that. It is my hope that your suffering will soon be over.”

The moaned in fear and I quickly reassured them that I meant cured not killed. They relaxed slightly and I gave each of them an IV to replace the fluids they’d lost and injected a painkiller into their system so that it wouldn’t hurt as much.

Turning away from them, I searched the lab for the chemist’s notes and after digging through what seemed like mounds of useless information, found what I was looking for. She had been truthful in stating that it was nearly completed. I inputted the recipe into the computer and brought up a human brain. I simulated inserting the neurotoxin and sped up the spread until it appeared that the brain had been suffering for several months. Then I simulated the possible cure being inserted and watched as it spread and removed the neurotoxin from the human’s brain. I sped it up until it had receded enough that the humans would be showing signs of recovery, taking note of how long it took. Then sped it up again until the human brain would be able to begin showing strong thought processes and make rational choices without hinderance, once again taking note. Then speeding it up one last time, I noted when the neurotoxin had been completely eradicated from the human brain and body and received an all cured sign.

What it showed me was that humans would begin to show improvement in a little over 24 hours. It would then take approximately one to two weeks to regain cognitive thought and greater mobility. In a month’s time, the strongest humans would be cured and another month and a half the rest would be cured. I was pleased with the result and relieved that the chemist had really been telling us the truth.

With that simulation showing success, I quickly got to work and made a small batch of the cure and injected it into one of the humans. I set a brain scanner on him to monitor the progress and placed a camera to film what was happening to his body. I checked the scan quickly and saw that the painkiller did not seem to affect the serum. I spent the rest of the day gathering up the ingredients and preparing them, eventually leaving them to a slow steep that would take about 18 hours to be ready. I set a timer that I would take with me and checked on the humans. I exchanged IVs and checked the human that had received the serum. I marked that there was already an improvement on the skin and saw that the brain was already showing signs of improvement. I took note of it in my own log and remarked that it would be possible that he would be well on his way to a full recovery before my 72 hours were up.

Speaking with Ben, I had him hack into the various feeds in the lab and set up monitoring alarms if there were any drastic changes and when the IVs would need to be replaced. Gaia had sent me a guard that could be trusted enough to stand watch over the lab and knew how to change the IVs out. I locked up the lab and handed him a key, impressing upon him how important this was. He nodded gravely and I headed back inside.

I walked to Lexa’s room and knocked on her door. She called out to enter and I did, closing the door behind me. She was sitting at her desk, as she was prone to do at this time of night, writing down what had occurred in the Council meeting. I walked up behind her and on impulse, as I had many times before, leaned down giving her a hug and kiss on the top of her head. She leaned back and looked up at me with a small smile on her lips.

“You smell of the earth, Nyx,” she said quietly.

I smiled down at her and replied, “That is because I was playing in the dirt.”

“How many times have we been like this before?”

“Too many to count,” I replied with a chuckle.

“Does this mean that we have moved passed professionalism.”

“It does and I have denied you this for long enough,” I said quietly.

“I see. Has there been anything else you’ve denied me?”

“There has,” I said as I walked around and pulled her up from the chair.

Wrapping my arms around her, I lowered my head and kissed her gently. Her hands circled my neck as she deepened the kiss until we parted naturally.

She laid her head on my chest and inhaled deeply and said, “I have wanted this ever since I laid eyes on you again.”

I chuckled, “I know, Lex. I denied myself the truth in admitting that I wanted you as soon as I saw you. You’ve become even more beautiful with time.”

“I want to reclaim you, Nyx,” she whispered. “I want to make you mine again.”

“But I don’t want to reclaim you, Lexa. I still love you, but time has shown me that I do not care as deeply as I once had. It’s not because of the banishment and it’s not because of what happened. When Mother Earth saved me from killing myself, she gave me more than my life back, she gave me a chance to experience life outside of the pack and the territory.”

 

“I understand. I’m sorry that I caused you that much pain, but I couldn’t stand to lose you to death. Even in my grief, I still loved you as I do now, but I understand. You are no longer the woman I claimed.”

“Thank you for understanding. I may not want to claim you again, but I still love you and I want you.”

She stepped back slightly so that she could see my face. Smiling, she drew my head down and kissed me again. My wolf rejoiced and felt her own stir into wakefulness. I grinned against her mouth and lifted her up, carrying her to the bed. I laid her down and leaned down to kiss her properly. She moaned in pleasure and our wolves howled in delight. I spent the rest of the night remembering how good we were together.

When the alarm beeped, I woke with Lexa in my arms. I leaned over and kissed her neck, smiling. The alarm had woken her as well and she turned around to look at me. We kissed and I caressed her breast making her body arch. I wanted to take her again, but unfortunately I couldn’t. I let go of her breast and with a caress of her side, I let her go. She pouted, but I laughed.

“Mmm, don’t make that face, Lex,” I said as I sat up. “It won’t work this time. The cure is ready to be drained and if I leave it too long, it will begin to burn.”

She sat up and kissed my back along the spine, making me shiver. She chuckled, but stopped her pursuit of bringing me back to bed.

She laid her head along my back and wrapped her arms around me, “No one else has made me sing like you do. I am glad that we had this moment.”

“I am too, perhaps we may have another moment such as this, hmm?”

“I would like that very much.”

I shifted around to face her. I gently took her head in my hands and pulled her in for one last kiss. She sighed in pleasure and she let me go. I got out of bed and dressed in the clothes I wore yesterday. She wrinkled her nose and I told her that I would change and shower as soon as I was done in the lab.

Quickly walking to the lab, the guard opened the door for me and I immediately took the cure and steeped it. I covered the serum and went to check on the human. He looked remarkably better and his eyes were clear. I smiled at him and he smiled back as I checked the brain scanner. In just 18 hours, his brain showed an amazing amount of improvement.

“I’m seeing an astounding amount of improvement,” I said. “How are you feeling?”

He cleared his throat and I gave him a glass of water and I helped him sit up and drink. He laid back exhausted but remained awake. Another thing to take note of.

“Better, thank you,” he replied shyly. “Will the others also receive the cure?”

“Yes, but they will have to wait for a bit longer. Let me tell you why, okay?”

He nodded and I said, “There was a camp discovered a few hours away from here. In this camp there are over a hundred humans. When the first team got there to investigate, they were captured. A second team went in and launched the neurotoxin and it ended up affecting those over 25, 30 years of age. They have been suffering for over two months now. In this camp though, we discovered that besides the prisoners, there were Apex living among the humans. A small percentage, but enough to cause concern for their safety. So, we decided that for everyone’s safety to work on a cure. You appear to be the first success. Now I have to show the current leaders that it is a success by repeating the process in view of them.”

“I understand, but I don’t understand why you are helping them. Don’t you hate us?”

“Yes, I do, but I cannot let hate dictate my need to help those that would benefit from my help.”

“You are different from the others.”

“I’ve been told that countless times, but rest now. You still need to recover. I’ll check on you soon.”

He nodded and closed his eyes. He fell asleep quickly and I left the lab to get cleaned up. I took a long shower, washing the stress of the last 24 hours away while at the same time memorizing what it felt like to have Lexa again. Smiling, I got out and dressed.

Heading down to the kitchen, Chef welcomed me back into the fold and made me something to eat. I hadn’t realized that it had been a long time since I ate, and I was suddenly starving. As soon as Chef laid the plates in front of me, I was shoveling food into my mouth as quickly as I could chew and swallow. Chef wagged a finger at me and I immediately slowed, grinning sheepishly around a mouthful of food. I still didn’t remember how good the food tasted as I made my way to Ben’s lab.

“Well, you looked sated,” Sephy said as I came through the door.

I made a face at her and she only laughed.

“You know, Seph, you didn’t have to stay in here this whole time,” I said as I gave her a quick hug.

“Oh, I haven’t. I’ve taken a few runs and worked on my buggy. I just enjoy Ben’s company,” she replied, taking a seat.

I gave her a funny look, but she only smiled and shrugged.

“How’ve you been, Ben? You’ve gotten out of the chair and walked around a bit, like we’ve discussed,” I asked.

“I’ve been okay. Sephy has been great company and I’ve gotten out of my chair once or twice,” he replied. “So, how’s the cure coming along? From what I’ve seen, the human is looking real good. I’ve tapped into his brain scan and it seems to be working.”

“I’ve already steeped a big batch of the cure. That’s why I’m here actually. I’d like to you to set up some monitors in the lab so that I can video conference the camp to show them from our side that there really is a cure and it’s really working,” I explained. “I want to give them proof before our time is up.”

“That’s smart, sis,” she said.

“I’m trying. I don’t want to head back over with only platitudes and half a cure. We’re already testing their patience. And I’m at the end of Clarke’s patience.”

“So, you’ll be heading back over there when they accept what you show them?”

“Yes. I’m planning on staying there as leverage for the camp. That’ll give me a chance to start training the pack and speak with the real leaders once they get better. I’d also like you to come with me, Seph.”

“Me? Why?”

“Think of it as training for Second. You’ll see a different perspective then the way Mother has been training you. Mother hasn’t been in this type of situation, I have a couple of times. Plus, you get to help me train them. Two trainers working with 13 weres is better then just one.”

“You just want to spend more time with me,” she teased.

“Yes, but I also believe this will be good for you.”

“Alright.”

“Thank you,” I said and then asked Ben, “Do you think it’s safe enough to recall the drones and bring the truck back here?”

“I don’t see why not, but I think it would be best to keep one flying overhead to keep an eye on the camp overall. We still have cameras inside the camp and some of the buildings. I’ll be able to keep monitoring everything and flying the drone from here, no problem.”

“Have I told you I love you, lately,” I said as I hugged him around his neck.

He laughed, “No, I don’t think so.”

I squeezed tighter and said, ‘I love you. I love you. I love you. Thank you.”

“You’re very welcome, Nyx. How ‘bout I get started on those monitors?”

I grinned wolfishly and left the two of them to the lab. While Ben and Sephy set up the monitors, I checked on the human. His vitals were good, the serum was still doing it’s job, he was conscious and he was cracking jokes with me. The other two were still sedated to keep the pain minimal, but they looked worse then they had yesterday. Looking at their brain scans, showed me that it had spread to motor skills and I frowned. If I didn’t give them the serum soon, it was likely that they would both die.

“Hey, boss,” Ben called out and bringing my attention back to the task at hand, “It’s set up from our end. Just need confirmation from theirs.”

“Great. Thank you,” I replied and went to prep two syringes.

Coming back, I laid them on a nearby table and brought out my communicator and said, “Raven, I know you’re listening. We need you.”

There was a bit of static and then Raven replied, “How’d you know I was listening in?”

“Because Ben’s been doing the same. It’s how he stays informed of my communications. He’s a pretty cool guy.”

“Yeah, well I’m awesome and awesome beats pretty cool any day.”

I sighed and rolled my eyes, “Whatever you say, Raven. Anyway, we need you to set up a line for a video conference with multiple screens. Can you do it?”

“Can a coder make an elephant appear? Of course I can. Look who you’re talking to.”

“I can’t, no video feed,” I said sarcastically.

“So, why are we doing a video conference?”

“Our chemist was nearly complete with the cure before she sold everyone out for a quarter mil. That’s the reason why our antidote didn’t work as planned. She tweaked it to accelerate death.”

“How do we know you’re telling us the truth? I mean, you told us the same thing about the antidote.”

“I have irrefutable proof and y’all can see for yourself, through the feed.”

“Don’t got to bite my head off there, Nyx. I’m about ready.”

“Finally. I’m going to let you talk techno to techno now. When it’s set up, get Clarke, Jasper, and your healer friend there.”

“Alright.”

I handed the communicator to Ben and they began speaking in techno geek. I rolled my eyes once more, making Sephy laugh.

Lex?

Yeah?

It’s almost set up in the lab. Will you be joining us? You can finally meet Clarke.

I can’t. The damn Council is arguing over property rights. I’m getting a headache.

Well, I can certainly cure it later.

I know you can, love. Let me know how it goes.

You know I will. Later.

Later.

I looked over at the monitors and saw Raven staring back at me.

“Looking good, Raven,” I said as I walked closer.

“Of course, you don’t mess with perfection,” she said, primping.

I shook my head and said, “Are they on their way?”

“Yeah, Ben’s been telling me about what I’m seeing on my screens. Those two humans look like they’re near death.”

“They are. I’d like to inject them as soon as possible.”

She nodded sympathetically, “I can understand that. We all can. Does this mean your coming to our side of thinking?”

“Eh, not so much. I’m just don’t like people to suffer like this.”

“A wolf with morals, who’d a thunk.”

People appeared behind her and I watched Clarke, Jasper, and the healer sit around Raven.

Showtime, sis, Sephy said to me.

I would have smiled, but I was trying to be serious.

“Okay, we’re here, Nyx,” Clarke said. “What’s going on and why the video conference?”

“It’s simple,” I replied. “Like I was telling Raven, our chemist was nearly complete in creating the cure for the neurotoxin. Gustus, Lexa’s former Second, bribed her to tweak the recipe and we know the results. Before she died, she relayed exactly how far she was and had already written down the complete recipe.”

“Did you just say former Second,” Clarke asked.

“Yes. Long story short, he and his family are currently imprisoned for treason. I’m temporarily Lexa’ Second now,” I answered.

“What does that mean for you?”

“Clarke, as much as I like our Q&As, I’d like to get through the explanation before these humans die.”

“Sorry. Please continue.”

“Anyway, using a computer simulation, I inputed the complete serum and introduced it to a human brain that had been suffering from the neurotoxin for several months. Based on the simulation and using a human test subject, within 24 hours you see a remarkable amount of improvement. In one to two weeks, they’ll be more responsive in cognitive thinking and motor skills. The strongest should be completely cured in about a month. A month and a half later everyone else will be cured completely.”

“All this from a computer simulation,” Jasper asked.

“Yes. If you look at one of the screens, it should be labeled simulation, you can watch it for yourself. Now, on the human subject, I started seeing improvements in about four hours. After 18 hours, he was able to speak clearly, skin was showing remarked improvement, and his brain scan showed that the brain was healing.”

Ben put it up on screen showing the one before serum brain scan and one that was taken just moments ago. We waited as they looked it over.

“All this in less then 24 hours,” the healer asked.

“Yes. He’s awake if you’d like to speak with him,” I replied.

“I would, please.”

“Certainly.”

I went over to his bed and sat him up. Sephy moved a camera and screen so that he could speak and see them.

“They have some questions they’d like to ask you, okay,” I said to him. “Just tell them the truth. I’m not going to get mad at anything you say, I promise.”

He tilted his head to look at me and then smiled slightly, “I really do believe you. If it will help their humans, then let them ask away.”

“Thank you,” I replied and then turned to the screen. “He’s all yours.”

I left them to speak with one another and checked on the other two. Their vitals were looking bad and I hesitated a moment, then I got the syringes.

Interrupting the conversation, I broke in and said, “Sorry, but I need to inject the serum into the other two. Their vitals are dropping into danger zones. Ben can bring up their vitals and scans to show you what I mean.”

They nodded and I immediately injected their IVs with the serum. We all watched their vitals and 30 minutes later, the vitals were improving. I sighed in relief and smiled. I walked back over to Ben and watched their faces on the screen. Clarke glanced at us briefly before she returned to the scans and vitals.

I thought of something and while we waited for them to make a decision, I went back to the simulation and I played it beyond the cured state. There were brief flickers in the two areas and I watched as they slowly sparked to life. I paused it and got Sephy to watch it with me.

Seph, what do you see?

I see the two areas showing signs of becoming Apex. Did we just create a formula that not only cures the neurotoxin, but also makes them Apex?

It looks that way. Hold on, let me check the probability factor.

I had the computer run the figures and it determined that there was a 60-85 percent chance that this would occur in humans.

I can’t decide if this is good or bad, Nyx.

Neither can I, but we got to let them know.

Yes, we do.

We both walked back to the main screens. Sephy leaned down and whispered in Ben’s ear and he looked at me in surprise.

“Um, Clarke,” I said, bringing her attention back to me. “A thought occurred to me while you were watching their vitals. I went back to the simulation and moved past the cured moment. The simulation showed that those two areas began showing activity.”

“What do you mean,” she asked

“It means, that there’s a 60-85 percent chance that the cured humans will become Apex,” I answered.

“So, you’re saying that you’ve discovered a way to turn humans into Apex using the serum?”

“It looks that way and I can’t decide if it’s good or bad. The good is that if it does occur, those that used to be human would be able to fully integrate into society without fear of being killed. The bad news is that it could completely eradicate humans as a species.”

“Did you by chance run a simulation on a healthy human brain,” Jasper asked.

I shook my head and replied, “No, not yet. I felt it more prudent to inform you of what may occur. This means that we have to closely monitor the three here in the lab for at least a month longer.”

“Could you run the simulation now and give us a live feed?”

I looked over at Ben and he nodded his head and with a few keystrokes brought up the simulator. I walked back to the computer and brought up a healthy adult brain and inserted the serum. I sped up the process slightly and at one week there was no change. Skipped to weeks 2 and 3, nothing. Week four showed possible sparks, so I slowed it down. After six weeks, there was a steady pulse but nothing permanent. I sped it up, but it remained pulsing and then started to dwindle back down.

“Okay,” Jasper said, “It appears that after six weeks there’s activity. Then it becomes a steady pulse for a while before it goes away. Which could possibly mean that the humans would experience what it was like to have powers, but it wouldn’t be permanent. What about the cured brains?”

I switched back and continued the simulation. The areas didn’t begin to pulse, but instead showed the areas growing brighter.

“It looks like the initial introduction of the neurotoxin is the key,” I said. “Which means that your adults will show signs of becoming Apex. If they become Apex, any children they have will be born Apex.”

“I concur,” Jasper said and the healer agreed.

“Which leaves you guys with a decision to make, Clarke. Give the adult humans the serum and most likely turn them into Apex or not and they die,” I said.

She scrunched her face in thought and then pulled the other three into a closed conversation to where we could only hear murmuring.

“Does this mean, I’m going to become like you,” the human asked.

I turned to look at him and replied, “I honestly don’t know. It would appear that there’s a strong possibility that it will occur. Is that something you’d want?”

“I mean, it would be nice to not be used like a lab rat or someone’s punching bag. It would also mean that I’m not beholden to anyone but myself. But since I have a family, in order for me to take care of them, I would have to technically own them. Then there’s the stigma of maintaining a close relationship with humans. It’s a rather difficult decision. It seems to me that those people have never had to deal with the way humans are treated now, so they would benefit more from the change than I would,” he replied, thinking out loud.

I nodded in understanding, “With any decision there are always good and bad things that can happen as a result. You have to weigh the results and decide which one you’re more comfortable living with. Now with the camp, it’s a little more complex. Everyone under 30 weren’t affected. Which leaves around 100 pure humans. Some of the sick adults are family members, so they’re met with the same conundrum as you have. They still have to wrap their heads around to the fact that this is the way it is.”

“You’re biggest hinderance, ma’am, is that you have your point of view to express Apex versus Human, but you don’t have it from our point of view. That could possibly help, don’t you think?”

 

I took a long moment to really think about his words and he was right. My version of the world is different than his. Growing up, humans were something to loathe, not good enough to share a table or meal with, not worth giving the time of day to. They were ignored, owned, beaten, and killed. To me that was just par for the course. Apex are prejudicial to humans. We look at those that willingly interact with humans on a daily basis with a combination of horror and disgust. We feel sorry for those that have to deal with humans because of their profession.

I could be viewed as being hypocritical because I still have that strong dislike, almost hatred of humans and yet, I’m trying to save them. I’m listening to a human and actually giving his words weight in regards to the situation. I don’t know that I would have shown the same courtesy outside of the situation, but I probably wouldn’t. It takes a long time to change your opinions about something and if I wanted to change, I’d have to reverse 28 years of prejudice.

I shook my head and said, “You’re right. It would help them to see from the opposing view point. I’ll speak with Lexa and see if she’ll allow a human to speak with their leaders. That’s the best I can offer you.”

“That’s better’n most Apex tell me. I trust you to honor your word.”

“Thank you.”

“Hey, Nyx, hate to burst your little pow wow over there, but they’ve made a decision,” Sephy said.

“Alright,” I replied and gave his knee a gentle squeeze before I walked over to the monitors. “So, what’s it gonna be, Clarke?”

“We’re going to go ahead and give them the serum,” Clarke replied still looking troubled.

“You’re afraid of what the humans who weren’t affected will react to such news, aren’t you?”

“Quite frankly, yes. I’m not sure how anyone will react once they learn what’s outside our shield.”

“It’s understandable. That’s why I’m coming over there. I can at least give the history from my point of view. It’s been brought to my attention, too, that it might be a good idea to get it from a human’s perspective as well. Though that’s something I have to discuss with Lexa.”

“What do you mean coming over here,” she asked.

“I have a batch already to use that I can bring over, plus the recipe book that our chemist used, minus the neurotoxin recipe or anything that could be construed as harmful to either the humans or Apex. It would also be in your best interest to have me and my sister there as better leverage than the 19 prisoners. I’m Lexa’s acting Second and Sephy is in training to become a Second for the Southern Pack. Two Seconds are more valuable then 19 pack members, don’t you think?”

“So, the two of you are willing to stay our prisoners in exchange for the cure and the release of the 19 pack members,” she asked.

“On top of the fact that we can train your pack how to fight, get y’all used to using your powers offensively and defensively, give y’all the history of the last 83 years, and act as liaison between de Pakstoka and yourselves. Personally, I think you’re getting the better half of the bargain.”

“She’s right, Clarke,” Raven said. “We’re going to need all the help we can get if we want to move beyond the shield.”

“Alright, but I want continuous feed on how those three are doing and a guarantee of their safety and upkeep.”

“Done and I know the perfect person to bring in that’ll be willing to do that,” I said with a toothy grin.

“How soon can you get here?”

“Give me three days. She’ll be coming in from Old Towne and I have to set up a separate medical wing for the humans. I also have to inform the Council and a bunch of political crap before we can be over there. Just be prepared, I’ll probably have several transports with me, if I know Lexa. She’ll want to set up a separate residence for me and will insist on sending a crew to make a space or house livable and safe for us. That’s just the way it is. There might be some minor magecraft, so we’ll have to keep the humans away. Then, they’ll all leave with the prisoners and we can really get down to business.”

“Lexa will do all of that for you,” Raven asked astonished.

I blushed and replied, “Um, some habits are harder to break then others when it comes to Lexa and I.”

Realization dawned on her face and she snickered while Clarke glared at her because she didn’t quite understand what I was implying, which relieved me.

“So, now that we’re done here,” I said. “We’ll leave the vitals up and running so that you guys can monitor. While, we get our shit together.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Clarke said, giving me a small smile. “I’ll see you in three days.”

I grinned at her and we left the lab.

Pulling out my communicator, I called up an old friend of mine who dealt with sick or injured humans.

“Hello,” a honeyed, southern woman drawled.

I smiled at her voice, “Hey Scar, it’s been awhile.”

Scarlett, or Scar, screamed in delight at hearing my voice, “Well, bless the angels on high, you’re alive. Nyx, darlin’ we all thought you were dead. You haven’t been to the bar in ages and no one knew where you were.”

I toed the ground and said, “Yeah, I’m real sorry ‘bout that. There was a family emergency and I had to come back home.”

“Wait a cotton pickin’ moment! You’re home?! Like home, home?”

“Um, yeah. de Pakstoka needed my skills and allowed me to come home.”

“Then she must be balls deep in mud if she called you home.”

I laughed as Sephy gave me a weird look, “I guess that would be a good way to describe it. Listen, the reason why I’m calling is that I could really use your help.”

“Whatcha need, sugar?”

“Ya think you can leave the business for possibly a few months,” I asked cringing at the probability that her voice was about to raise several octaves.

“A few months?!,” she asked, her voice indeed traveling upwards. “What in god’s name have you gotten yourself into, Nyx Allistar?”

“I really wish I could tell you, but because of the nature of the situation I can’t. I’m sorry. What I can tell you though, is that I need three humans who are recovering from a virus closely monitored for at least the next month.”

“And why can’t you do that, yourself?”

I sighed and mumbled, “I’m Lexa’s Second and I’ve got other things to take care of.”

“What was that, Nyx? I didn’t quite catch that.”

I rolled my eyes and said more clearly, “I’m Lexa’s acting Second and there are other things that need my attention.”

“You’re what,” she screeched loud enough to cause feedback.

“You heard me, woman. It’s why I can’t monitor the humans, there’s something more pressing that I have to take care of.”

“Don’t you dare use that tone with me, young lady,” she reprimanded and I snorted. “And let me guess, you can’t tell me what’s so pressing, can you?”

“No, Scar, I can’t. Not until you agree to come here and sign a non-disclosure. Scar, you’re the only one I trust to do this or I wouldn’t be askin’. Please say you’ll come.”

“Ugh, fine, but you owe me, missy. Big time. How soon do you need me there?”

“In the next three days?”

“You’re pushin’ me, Nyx,” she said sighing deeply. “Alright, I have to move a few things around, but I’ll be at the border in two.”

“Thank you, Scar. You won’t regret this, I promise,” I gushed. “I’ll meet you at the border in two days then.”

“You bet your ass, you will. You and me are gonna have some words.”

“Yes, ma’am. I’ll see you then.”

“Alright. Take care. Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

“A former lover, I presume,” Sephy said as I hung it back onto my belt.

I grinned at her and said, “You presume correctly, but it’s a tad more serious then a one night stand.”

“Oh, so you were seeing her more frequently, but not girlfriend frequent.”

“Right. Come on, kiddo. We’ve got a Council meeting to interrupt.”

When we arrived at the door to the Council Room, the guard opened it and we walked through. Taking my seat at the table, I apologized for being late.

“Were you able to persuade the camp that the serum works,” Lexa asked immediately.

“Yes, Pakstoka. We were successful in that endeavor,” I replied. “I’ve also gotten them to agree to an exchange of personnel. In exchange for the release of the 19, Persephone and I will take their place and live with them for the time being.”

“You can’t be serious,” a Councilor said. “You’d be putting your lives at extreme risk by staying there. We cannot afford to lose two more Seconds.”

“Councilor, I understand, but the gravity of the situation does call for it. Having us there is saying that de Pakstoka is trusting them with something valuable in return for the cure and our pack members. It’s also prudent to have someone there with high enough authority that decisions can be made without having to stop what we’re doing and consult with her or the Council. It will allow us to monitor the situation and if need be, remove the Apex if the humans become violent.”

“It’ll also give us a chance,” Sephy said, “to train the new pack and mages in their powers and fighting techniques. Once their original leaders are healthier, we can begin explaining our world to them, help them understand why having such a large population of humans can be dangerous. Not only for us, but for them as well. This is all essential to ending this conflict peacefully and help bring both councils to the negotiation table.”

“Councilors, they make very valid points,” Lexa said soothingly. “These two are not prone to making hasty judgements nor do they enter a potentially dangerous situation without weighing the risks beforehand. You know how the Allistars are. All of our families have worked with theirs for generations. You know that this is probably the safest and surest bet in coming out successful.”

I bowed my head and said, “Thank you, Pakstoka. You honor us with your words. Councilors, I understand you might be hesitant in entrusting me with this, but please be assured that I do care for the pack. I always have, even during my banishment. That’s the true reason why I accepted the job in the first place. You have always been my people and will continue to be my people. Let me honor you by doing this. Let me show you that your faith is not misplaced.”

“Thank you, Nyx,” Lexa said. “Was there anything you wished to add?”

“No, Pakstoka. There is nothing to be added at this time,” I replied, “but there are few things that I need to address with you privately, when time permits.”

“Very well. Please head to my office and wait, we’re almost done here,” she said in dismissal.

I stood up and bowed, “de Pakstoka. Councilors. Thank you for your time.”

They dismissed us and we walked over to her office, but I stopped at the door and turned to Sephy.

“Seph, you don’t have to stay for this,” I said as I leaned against the doorframe. “Go for a run or find someone to play with. This is a serious situation, but it’s important to take the time and relax. You know what mom used to always say…”

She made a face and replied, “All work means you ain’t livin’ to your fullest.”

I smiled and rubbed her head, “That’s right. Why do you think she and I spent a lot of our free time doing stupid shit?”

“I know, I know. I get it. I’ll leave the two of you to ‘discuss’ what’s going on.”

“Hey, there will be business discussed,” I replied indignantly.

“Maybe for a little bit, but I do remember some of the shit you two got into,” she said with a laugh and ran off.

I shook my head and walked into the office. I went over to the side table and poured myself some whiskey and plopped down on the couch to wait. I was sprawled out on the couch, glass dangling loosely from my fingers, when Lexa came in.

“You better not drop that glass, Nyx. It costs a fortune to have it cleaned,” she said as she walked over to me.

I looked up at her and carefully put the glass on the table. She took the hint and slid down the couch to land on top of me. We kissed languidly and enjoyed the momentary respite. She got off of me and took a sip of my whiskey and made a face.

“I don’t know how you can drink this. I, at least, need something to change the taste.”

I chuckled and sitting up, took the glass from her and took a sip, “You do not change nor dilute perfection, Lex.”

“Is that what you call it? Perfection in a bottle,” she said as she poured herself a different drink and then came to sit beside me.

“Among other things,” I replied. “How’s your head?”

“Feels like someone is trying to turn my brain to granite,” she bemoaned.

I shifted a bit and said, “Come here then.”

She obliged by turning her back to me and scooting closer. I massaged her shoulders as I used my healing to help ease the pain. She relaxed under my ministrations and leaned back against me.

“Thank you. That felt good.”

“Your welcome, Lex, but I really do have matters to discuss with you.”

She sighed, but only made herself more comfortable against me. This was usual behavior for us. When we spoke privately about business, we were always this intimate.

“What’s going on,” she asked as she took a sip of her drink.

“We’ve discovered a side affect of the serum. Those that have been affected by the neurotoxin and receive the serum, will more then likely change into Apex.”

“How likely?”

“60-85 percent.”

“That could be beneficial.”

“Yes, but we don’t know how many adults are suffering and that still leaves the 100 humans that weren’t affected.”

“I see,” she said quietly, “Did you try the serum on a normal, healthy human brain?”

“Mm-hm,” I said as I swallowed the whiskey, “It took six weeks to show any kind of activity, but it eventually faded away. It’s possible that they would experience temporary powers.”

“That could make things ugly if they were ever injected with the serum.”

“Yes,” I said as I slid her hair aside and kissed her neck. “That’s why I gave Clarke choices. Give the sick people the serum and they may or may not become Apex or not and let them die. Though, we all did agree that giving the healthy humans the serum would be a real bad move.”

She exposed more of her neck to me as she asked, “Do our humans show signs of turning?”

“It’s too soon to tell,” I said kissing her neck again. “It’ll be another month at most before we see any results.”

“If you’re in Manassas, how will you monitor them?”

“I’ve called in a friend. She’s a healer that deals almost exclusively with humans.”

“She’s agreed then? Does she know what’s happening here?”

“She’s agreed to come, but I haven’t told her anything yet. I’m having her sign a non-disclosure.”

“Smart,” she said as she turned her head and pulled me down for a kiss. “Was that all?”

“No. The human that I injected with the serum first brought up an important fact. We can present these people with our point of view of the way things work, but we don’t have a way to show it from the human perspective.”

“You think we should allow them to have a chance to speak with a human?”

“Honestly, I’m not too sure on the matter. I would think that from a human perspective we seem cruel and vicious towards humans, but that may be something that they need to realize. Give them the true gravity of our situation.”

“Let me give it some thought about that, hmm,” she said as she turned around and forced me down.

“As you wish,” I replied and pulled her down to me.

Chapter Text

Two days later, I was pacing the border as I waited for Scarlett to arrive. I was kinda nervous. Scar had listened many times to my drunken rants and rages about Forest Pack and Lexa. About how she should have executed me and how much I missed my family, my friends, my position, Lexa. It had probably been exhausting to hear me go on and on, but she stayed. She listened and she became my best friend.

But, today was going to be a different story. Here I was back with the pack, in my position, and friends with benefits with Lexa. She’d probably think I lost my head to come back to all of this after everything that had happened. I couldn’t argue with her, I felt that way sometimes until I remembered why I agreed.

Finally, we saw dust appear on the horizon and I shaded my eyes to see better. When her distinct electric purple rover came into view, I stepped over the border and waited grinning like a damn fool. She was coming in fast, but at the last minute, skidded to a halt turning the car sideways and showering everyone in dust and rocks. I shook out my hair as I heard the door open and close. Before I even had a chance to do more than that, I was tackled into a bear hug and swung around. When she let me go, I had to bend over and place my hands on my knees to get my equilibrium back.

I looked up at her there and said, “God damn, woman. You tryin’ kill me or somethin’?”

“I should, Nyx,” she replied haughtily. “After fucking disappearing on us like that. Then to find out your house was blown up. What the fuck did you get yourself into?”

I stood up slowly and said, “The house was a result of payback for a job I did for the Coalition. Ben and I were already here when it happened. And you gotta sign the non-disclosure before I can tell ya anythin’ else, alright?”

She huffed and held out her hand, “Alright, Nyx. Ya got that paperwork for me?”

I reached down into a side pocket and pulled out a small tablet and stylus. Handing it to her, I said, “It’s a standard one. You promise not to reveal to anyone outside the immediate people involved about what you see and hear, the pack has a right to imprison and possibly execute you if you break it.”

She raised an eyebrow at me and said, “Standard, huh? That doesn’t seem standard to me, hun.”

I shrugged, “Okay, it’s standard for the pack. The information is just too sensitive, is all.”

“Mm-hm,” she said as she signed it and handed it back to me.

I put it up and gave her a proper welcome. We climbed into the rover, with me behind the wheel and the guards opened up the gate.

Once we were away from the gate, Scar asked, “Okay, what the hell is goin’ on that got you to come back to this damn place?”

I looked at her out of the corner of my eye and replied, “A month or so ago, I was visited by Lexa’s former Second. He informed me that a large community of people showed up in Manassas without permission and the five teams they had sent to investigate disappeared without a trace. Lexa wanted to hire me, dangling money and unlimited resources. I denied and he brought out the only things that would have ever convinced me to take the job.”

“Ending your banishment, lifting the kill order, and bringing you back into the pack?”

“Yep,” I said nodding. “So, I accepted. I didn’t really care about being a part of a pack again, but I really missed this place more than I’d thought and especially my fams. Unbeknownst to me, a woman that I’d slept with the same night her Second visited me, was visiting the Garrison Commander in regards to the very situation I’d found myself in.”

“Are you shittin’ me, Nyx? The same damn woman you slept with came out of Manassas to do what exactly?”

“To find out what the rules are regarding the pack teams they had taken prisoners. They went back home when he couldn’t help them because they were in the middle of Forest Pack territory. Cut the story a bit shorter, there are over a 100 humans living in Manassas with only 22 Apex who didn’t know they were Apex until just a little while ago.”

“How in Mother Earth, did they not know they were Apex? And where the hell did all the humans come from?”

“Easy. For the last 83 years they’ve resided in a bunker underneath Manassas Town Hall. The humans have no clue that we exist and the ones that have discovered that they’re Apex are learning and don’t understand exactly why we treat humans like we do.”

“I can get under that,” she said nodding, “So, why am I here exactly?”

“The pack chemist developed a neurotoxin that paralyzes the parts in our brain that control our powers and telepathy. The second team launched that into their camp. Everyone over the age of 30 became sick. The neurotoxin spread out from those spots and attacked the rest of the brain causing some terrible side effects like skin lesions and blindness. The worst was that it was slowly killing them off. It affected their leaders leaving kids in charge. Anyway, we offered to create a cure in exchange for the pack members that are held prisoner. Chemist ended up giving me a tweaked recipe that is used to counteract the toxin when we inhale it, which ended up killing 20 more adults.”

“So, this chemist…”

“Was found out, interrogated, and subsequently executed. The Second had bribed her to tweak the recipe that led to the deaths. Also found out that the Second had been leaking personal information on de Pakstoka for the last eight years. An Ice Pack spy had made it’s way into the pack and convinced the Second to help get rid of me and allowing him to take over. Which led to my banishment and shit.”

“So, you really weren’t at fault,” she said in wonderment. “You were manipulated.”

“Yes. Anyway back to why you’re here…the chemist had nearly completed the formula and it works spectacularly. We have three humans that were injected with the neurotoxin prior to the antidote spectacle. I introduced one of them to the serum about four days ago. Extremely vast improvement. The other two were injected with the serum that same day you and I talked.”

“Okay, sounds good so far,” she said thoughtfully.

“Right,” I said. “There’s a huge possibility that the humans who were hit by the neurotoxin and then given the serum will become Apex a month or so after receiving the serum.”

“But you’re not sure?”

“No, but according to the computer simulation there is a high probability that it will happen. And that’s where you come in. I can’t monitor them myself because I’m heading out to Manassas tomorrow with the serum and recipe book. My sister and I will be staying there to help train the new pack and mages in their powers. Along with other things.”

“You mean you’re willingly turning yourself over to them as their prisoner.”

“In a nutshell. It’s just until the original leaders are well enough and comprehend exactly what they walked into when they opened the bunker. The Forest Pack is willing to talk peace with them, but it’s still about gaining trust.”

“Not to mention they have the largest population of humans this world hasn’t seen in like 50 years.”

I turned to look at her and grinned, “Yep. We want to get this settled before the Coalition can hook their greedy little paws in.”

“Do you trust the current leadership in their camp?”

“I’ve spoken with them and they’ve listened to what I’ve said. The antidote fiasco has been the only issue. That’s another reason why I’m staying. I have to make sure that we give them no other reason to distrust us. I want this to be successful.”

“And it’s got nothing to do with you becoming Second again or that you’re still hooked on Lexa?”

“No, it has nothing to do with those. Becoming Second is giving me leverage and the authority to act as de Pakstoka’s liaison. Lexa and I are back to being friends and lovers, but I have no desire to reclaim her. I guess you could say she’s back to being a notch on my belt.”

“Mmm, and what am I, Nyx,” she practically purred in my ear.

“You, my dear,” I said pulling off the side of the road and pulling her to me, “Are more then a mere notch, Scar. You are something else.”

She chuckled throatily, “And what is it that I am?”

“Indescribable,” I said as I pulled her mouth to mine.

It took us another hour to reach the mansion grounds, but it was worth it. We climbed out of her rover and started pulling her things out.

“So, Scar,” I said getting her attention away from the opulence of the mansion. “I’ve got a room for you set up inside the mansion or there’s an available room in the hospital wing near the humans. Which would you druther?”

She looked forlornly at the mansion and shook her head, “It’s important that I stay near my patients. Makes my response time faster if something happens, ya know?”

“I know,” I said signaling two guards to pick up her things. “Being a responsible adult is a bitch.”

She laughed and grabbed my hand as I led the way to the hospital wing we were keeping the humans. I directed the guards to put her things in a room and then took Scar to meet her patients.

They were all doing remarkably well. The two that were near death were responding slower then the first guy, but I expected that to happen because of close they were to the end. Scar introduced herself and checked their vitals and even got there names, which I didn’t even think of getting. I checked on their brain scans and noted it down so I could put it in a report later on.

When she was done, I escorted her to Lexa’s office to introduce her. There was a bit of a stare down between the two, but they worked it out and were on their way to becoming friends. I handed Lexa the signed agreement and left them to start packing. I picked out clothing that I labeled; workout, everyday, and professional. There was a large pile of work out clothes then the other two combined, but I was going to be prepared to get down and dirty. Training was hard work and things would get messy. My weapons were already loaded up in Sephy’s buggy, so I didn’t need to worry about that. I just needed to find a place to stay, so I headed to Ben’s lab.

“Hey, killer,” I said as I knocked on the door startling Ben and Sephy apart. I quirked my brow at them, but left it alone.

“Hey, sis,” Sephy said nonchalantly, which raised my brow higher, “you get your friend here safe and sound?”

“Oh, yeah,” I replied. “She’s already seen her patients and was speaking with Lexa when I went to pack. How’s everything going here?”

“Everything’s good, boss,” Ben replied, “Seph and I have been going over blueprints of the homes that are still intact.”

“That’s great. In fact, that was why I was coming here to begin with. You find any good leads?”

“Two, in fact,” Sephy gushed. “Ben, can you show her?”

“Sure,” he replied and I was soon looking at some homes that were nearly compounds themselves.

“Are they within the shield,” I asked as I looked at the blueprints.

“Yes. That’s one of the requirements that we were looking for.”

“Requirements?”

“Yeah. A big enough place to house us and the Manassas Pack. Secluded away from the humans. Large enough area to train indoors and outdoors. A tall enough wall that we can build a ward on to keep humans out and give everyone the privacy they need to use their powers or shift. And enough bathrooms to compensate for nearly 20 weres.”

“And you’ve settled on these two?”

Ben nodded and said, “Yep, these two are the prime choices.”

“Okay, so give me the pros and cons of each compound.”

They did and we finally settled on the one that was to the east of the town hall and away from where the humans were residing. I left them to go back to whatever they had been doing before I got there and went in search for who ever was going to be leading the transport and moving company. I found them already loading up the trucks with furniture and cleaning equipment. I let them know that we’ve decided on a place and that tomorrow Persephone will be supervising the move in. They nodded and off I went to find Chef.

That was where I was when Scar and Lexa found me. Scar hopped on the table beside me and snagged my salad. I growled menacingly at her, but she only laughed and started eating it. Lexa had a little more decorum and actually asked. I huffed and slid a plate of steamed vegetables at her. I at least got to finish my steak without either of them trying to take bites out of it, too.

“I just don’t get it, Nyx,” Lexa said shaking your head. “How can you eat it seared like that? It takes the flavor away.”

“It enhances the flavor, not detracts, Lexa love,” I replied. “Some of you just don’t have as refined a palate as I do.”

Scar laughed, choking on the salad, “Refined palate, as if. You once convinced me to clay bake a salmon and I threw up after taking two bites. That shit was nasty. I swear you eat like a human sometimes.”

“Hey, that’s an insult. Take it back,” I said narrowing my eyes at her.

“Nope,” she said as she hopped off the table and began backing away. “Cooking your meat, that’s just plain repulsive. Only humans do that. Can’t get the right amount of protein and such, cooking it.”

I made a lunge for her, but Lexa tackled me from behind and Scar ran around the other side of kitchen, cackling.

“Lexa, what’re you doing? The woman just insulted me. She has to pay,” I said as I struggled to untangle my legs from her.

“I’m sorry, love, but you do like your meat weird. Definitely, human-like,” she said laughing at me.

“Sonofabitch! Really?! The two of you?,” I said as I continued to struggle. “This is what I get for introducing people. I swear y’all wait for this to happen and then gang up on me. This is so not cool!”

“What’s not cool,” someone asked from the door.

When I saw who it was, I groaned because it was Dani. Could my night get any worse.

“Not you, too,” I moaned. “Please tell me you’re not going to criticize the way I eat meat, too?”

“Oh, we’re having that conversation again,” she said laughing and kneeling down to help hold me down. “Lex, how many times have we had this conversation?”

“I think since we were two, maybe,” she replied with a grin.

“Whoa, whoa, wait,” Scar said as she came back over. “Are you telling me that she’s been like that with her meat since practically day one.”

“Yep, pissed her mother off real good, too. She’s the only one in the family that does it. Even Sephy eats her meat raw.”

I was starting to get annoyed, but at the same time I was enjoying myself. Couldn’t help myself with three very beautiful women holding me hostage.

“Alright. Alright, you win,” I said as I relaxed. “I eat my meat weird. Happy?”

“Not quite, sugar,” Scar said as knelt beside me. “Ya see, me and Lexa got to talking and…”

“And,” I prompted.

“And,” Lexa said as she got off my legs, “We’ve decided to give you a night you’ll never forget.”

“Ooh,” Dani said gleefully, “Got room for one more?”

“For you, Dani? Always,” she said giving her a caress.

Scar leaned over me and kissed Dani who in turn fondled Lexa’s breast. I lay there enjoying the show and then they started getting more into it, leaving me out.

“So, what,” I said pitifully. “All I get to do is watch. That’s not a night I want to remember.”

They broke apart laughing and finally brought me into the mix. It really was a memorable night.

 

I woke up in a tangle of bodies that was actually difficult to extract myself from, but when I did, I sighed in relief. I walked into the bathroom and discovered that I was sore, but in all the right places. I smiled as I stepped in the shower and was still smiling as I dried my hair and put it up in it’s usual braid. I leaned against the doorframe in my towel as I watched the three of them sleep. For whatever reason these three women were determined to love me and make sure I knew they would always want me.

I sighed and got dressed. I regretfully woke them up so that they could get doing what they did best. They tried to get me back in bed, but I wasn’t having it. Laughing, I walked out of my bedroom and headed to the kitchen. Chef was busy cleaning up the mess we had made last night and I cringed.

“Sorry, Chef,” I said as I grabbed an apple and hightailed it out of there and headed for the safety of Ben’s lab.

“You know, the whole mansion could here y’all last night,” Sephy said from the bed, making me jump.

I blushed, “Um, you did?”

She grinned at me wickedly, “Well, yeah. Kinda hard to block out the sounds of furniture breaking, glass smashing, various sounds of pleasure, howls, and did I here a cat yowl?”

I laughed weakly and said, “Um, Scar is a werepanther?”

“And no one complained?”

“Um, she’s, um,” I stammered and then glared at her. “You know what, you’re too young for this.”

“Oh, please,” she said rolling her eyes, “I’ve already been to my fair share of orgies, Sis. You started off pretty young too, if what mother says is true.”

I opened and closed my mouth because I could think of nothing to say to her, which was a first for me.

“So, Mom was telling the truth,” she laughed and couldn’t stop. I went and sat in the chair, glaring at her as I munched on my apple.

Ben came into the room and saw Sephy laughing her ass off and me glaring daggers at her.

“Um, hey boss,” he said as he carefully let himself in. “Your, um, women are looking for you.”

“My what,” I said, sitting up and spitting out a chunk of apple.

“Um, you know, the three women, you, um, spent the night with?”

I growled and he backed himself into a corner, which got Seph to get serious and put herself in front of him making me stop. I stood up in surprise and mumbled sorry and got out of there. I shook my head trying to get rid of the idea that maybe Ben and my sister…Nope, was not going to think about it.

Seph, can you make sure everything’s loaded up on the trucks, including my bike? Have Ben give you something to make sure nothing’s been messed with or the people there that are coming with aren’t gonna start shit when we get there.

You’re not going to hurt Ben, are you?

No, sweetheart. I’m just embarrassed about last night.

You know, you shouldn’t be.

I know, but it’s kinda different now. Hard to explain. Please just get the trucks ready?

Alright. Laters.

Laters.

I found them lounging in the sun room having coffee and gossiping with one another.

“You know,” I said as I entered, “I’m not so sure it’s a good idea to leave you around each other.”

“Why,” Lexa asked as she handed me a cup. “Afraid that we’re all going to get into trouble with you not here?”

I chuckled and took a sip, “The opposite actually. I’m afraid that y’all start trouble without me here.”

“Oh, darlin’,” Scar drawled. “Cats and dogs do know how to get along and play nice.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” I said as I sat down.

Dani got up and sat on my lap and started nuzzling my neck and said, “Well, the good news, ladies, is that we have marked her well and good. Nyx, honey, you’re not gonna get rid of us that easily with just one shower.”

I groaned as she bit just beneath my earlobe.

“Easy, Dani,” Lexa reprimanded. “She still has a lot to do today. We need her to be able to move with minimal soreness.”

Dani sighed and stopped, but stayed on my lap. I drank my coffee as I listened to them talk above me. I didn’t mind, I was quite comfortable enjoying the four of us like this. I even had a brief fantasy of us doing this in the future on a more permanent basis.

Sis, the trucks are loaded and we’re ready to head out when you are.

Ben ready, too? He’ll be bringing in the drones and driving the truck back here.

Yep, all we need is you.

Alright. I’ll be there in a bit. I’ve got to stop by the lab and pick up the serum and recipe book.

Gotcha.

“Sorry, ladies, but duty calls,” I said as I scooted Dani off of my lap. “The trucks are ready to head out. They’re just waiting on me now.”

Dani pouted, but relinquished a goodbye kiss. Lexa and Scarlett both hugged and kissed me goodbye with a reminder to check in frequently. I promised and headed to the lab to get the serum and book. With them in my hand, I finally got into Sephy’s buggy and we were off. I radioed ahead to let them know we were on our way. I got a big old ‘okie-dokie’ from Raven and a see you soon from Clarke.

“Wow, they really hit you with their markers last night, Nyx,” Sephy said as she pulled her head out from behind the windshield.

“Don’t remind me, Seph,” I grumbled. “This will take days to rid their scent markers from me.”

“Mom really wasn’t kidding when she said you really made an impact on women.”

“No, she wasn’t,” I sighed. “I’m back in the pack for less then a week and I’ve got three, that I swear, want to do more then mark me.”

“I know you’ve told Lexa that you weren’t interested, but would it really be such a bad thing? To be claimed?”

“Right now, yes, it would be a bad thing. I’ve got more important matters to focus on then who I want to spend the rest of my life with or even if I want that right now. I’m hoping that you’re not that eager to settle down yet either.”

“Oh, no. I’m still having too much fun, but I am finding that I’m already playing favorites.”

“Um, could you guys not talk about the whole claiming and having lots of sex around me please,” Ben said uncomfortably from the back seat.

I turned and looked at him and replied, “Sorry, Ben. It’s just the way the pack is. I’ve told you this, but we’re going to stop. I know how uncomfortable you get.”

“Yeah, sorry, Ben,” Sephy said looking at him through the review mirror.

“Thank you,” Ben said relieved.

We stopped talking about it out loud but our conversation still continued the rest of the trip.

Chapter Text

We dropped off Ben at the truck and continued on our way.

Radioing ahead, I said, “Raven, we should be coming up on the first ridge in a minute. Get ready to take the shields down.”

“Alright,” she replied. “I’ll make sure that they just let y’all through. You know where you’re heading?”

“Yep, there’s a mini compound to the right of Town Hall a bit. We’ll be setting up there. It’s a good place for Octavia’s pack to claim as their own.”

“So, you’re already thinking that Manassas will stay ours?”

“By rights of occupation, yes. Manassas is yours. The Pack Council has no qualms about handing it over to you. Humans are still up for debate.”

“Gotcha,” she said, “Alright, I’ve got you on the feed, just slow down a bit more and you won’t have to come to a stop.”

“Alright. Talk to you soon.”

“I’ll have Clarke, Octavia, and Nate meet you there.”

“Thanks.”

 

Sephy slowed the buggy making the transports slow down as well. It was timed perfectly and we rolled through with no problem. The humans stood on either side of the street, looking on in fear. It made me wonder if it didn’t look like we were an invading force. Luckily, they just stood there watching as we rolled by. About two blocks out from the compound one of the mages jumped out of the truck and set up a ward to dissuade humans from coming closer. It kept us from having to hide our powers while the house was set up. We pulled up and the trucks pulled into the compound grounds and everyone jumped out and started to get to work. Sephy and I got out of the buggy and headed over the the small group. Raven, of course, had invited herself along as well.

“What’s all this,” Octavia asked as her arms swept the entire compound.

“Your new pack headquarters,” I replied. “We’ve brought furniture and food. The mages will set up the running water and electricity. They’ll also reinforce the foundations and set up enclosures for outdoor training and indoor training. It’ll be big enough that both weres and mages can practice without having to hide in a small room in the bunker.”

“You’re doing this for us,” Nate asked bewildered.

“Yes,” Sephy replied, “Think of it as a professional curtesy, from one pack leader to another. Like Nyx told Raven, the Council has pretty much said that Manassas is yours. Having your pack house here in town cements that idea.”

“This is very generous of your pack leader, Nyx,” Clarke said stepping closer to me. “I don’t really understand where the generosity is coming from.”

I took a moment to think about what to say and then, “Every pack that has started up here has received the same treatment, Clarke. Most of the packs are along our borders, so it’s important to get everything up and running quickly before the pack starts guarding the borders. That way packs don’t have to worry about setting up homes, farms, livestock, communications and so on. I’ve told you that eventually Octavia will have to register the pack once this is all settled. Of course, we’re assuming that you all will want to stay here, together, and really makes this a community.”

“Does that include the humans,” she asked cautiously.

“I can’t answer that yet. For now, the humans stay here. There’s a good possibility that the humans will have to be spread out to some of the smaller towns that are nearby or to other packs. We want to keep the Coalition out of our territory and keeping such a large population of humans together could eventually draw them out here. None of us want their involvement if we can help it.”

“Well, at least you’re honest,” Clarke said sighing. “So, what happens now?”

“Now,” I replied, “we cure your adults.”

I went back to the buggy and withdrew the batch of serum and the recipe book. Sephy, Octavia, and Nate stayed to supervise the move. I reminded Sephy that only half of the food goes to the house, the rest to the camps food stores. I followed Clarke down to medical and we met up with their healer and Jasper.

“Is that the serum,” the healer asked.

I handed the serum to him and said, “It’s enough to inject about 20 people. I’d start off with the sickest. You won’t see any changes for about 30 minutes or so. When they start showing improvement’s, I’d move on to your leaders. The sooner we can get them on the way back to being healthy, the sooner we can hopefully get us to a peace summit.”

He nodded and got to work and I handed Jasper the recipe book. He started flipping through the pages and I watched as his eyes got bigger and bigger.

He looked up at me in astonishment, “The chemist created all of this?”

I smiled, “Yes. Chemist’s are phenomenal at what they can essentially cook up. Most of what is made is all plant based. So, my suggestion for you, Jasper, is to build yourself a greenhouse. We’ve brought you some seedlings, bulbs, lighting, irrigation for you to get started. I’ve also included a comprehensive book of the flora in this region that provides what each plant is good for.”

“Wow, thanks, Nyx. You’re not so bad,” he replied smiling.

I smiled in return and said, “We all have to start somewhere, Jasper. You’re one of the lucky ones. I had to scrounge around for my plants and create my own recipe book.”

“Wait,” he said, eyeing me suspiciously, “You’re a chemist, too.”

“Yeah, but I’ve dealt in mostly creating various poisons and paralytics, not medicinals. Which I am not sharing with you, even if I could. My recipe book was blown up.”

“That sucks,” he pouted. “Well, at least I get to have some fun.”

“Sure. Sure. Go have fun,” I replied.

“While we wait, Nyx,” Clarke said, “Do you want to see the prisoners?”

“That was next on my agenda,” I replied, “If you could show me the way?”

She smiled and escorted me further into the bunker. We were met with two of Octavia’s pack members and I introduced myself to them. They moved aside and we entered the room. I was greeted warmly and some of them stepped back at getting a whiff of me with a sly grin. I could only smile and shrug.

I searched out Charlie and went over to him. He got up and bowed at me but I shooed him back down and sat beside him.

“None of that, Charlie,” I said as I looked around at everybody. “I’m just here to let y’all know some things.”

“What’s that, Stokripa,” he asked politely.

“We’re setting up a pack house for Octavia and her pack. They’ll now have someplace to stay together as they learn to fight and use their powers. My sister and I will be staying here helping them along with handling Forest Pack business.”

“Does that mean, you’ve rejoined the pack?”

“For the time being and I’m also acting as de Pakstoka’s Second. Gustus has been removed permanently from the position.”

“Good. I’ve never liked the man or his family. Bunch of liars and thieves the lot of them.”

“Well, they won’t be around much longer to continue their reign. They’re being held for treason.”

“I am not surprised.”

I nodded, “Because my sister and I are staying here, you all finally get to go home.”

A loud cheer erupted and I had to wait a while before it died down.

Grinning, I said, “Yes, you really do get to go home. When you do, your job is to rest and recover. I know you probably haven’t been getting enough protein in your diets for awhile and you’re families are missing you terribly. So go home, be with your families and take your time getting back to full strength.”

Stokripa,” Charlie said bringing my attention back to him, “I would like to stay here, if it is okay? I no longer have a family to go home to.”

“I know, Charlie,” I said, putting an arm around his shoulders, “but I need you to go home. Let your friends help you mourn your loss. Get better. It does get better, brother, but you can’t stay here to avoid everything else.”

He nodded, tears sliding down his face, “I understand, it’s just so hard sometimes. I keep looking for her.”

“I still keep looking for my brother,” I said. “At least you get to mourn her properly.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Stokripa. I did not mean to…”

“I know, Charlie. We all have our crosses to bear. I mourned for him when I stopped mourning for myself.”

He nodded, “I am glad you had that chance, Stokripa. I am also glad that it is your family that is helping the Manassas pack.”

“You honor me, Charlie,” I said, smiling at him. “When they are done setting up the compound, one of us will come back and get ya’ll, okay?”

“Yes, Stokripa. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us.”

“It’s my honor, Charlie. We always look out for one another, no?”

He smiled and hugged me in a moment of familiarity. I got up and made my way back out into the hallway with everybody hugging me.

Clarke smiled at me when I finally made my escape and I smiled at her sheepishly.

“You certainly have a way with everyone, not just women,” she said as we headed back to medical.

“What you saw back there is the result of generations of work the Allistars have done for the pack,” I replied.

“Has your family always been the Second?”

I nodded, “And the Devereuxs have always been de Pakstoka.”

“Why?”

“I don’t really know. When I used to ask Mother about it, she always said that we were chosen specifically for those roles. That our families complimented each other in a way that promoted balance.”

“Will it be the same for our pack?”

“That’s up to Octavia and Nate. Some of the packs here use strength to determine who becomes Pakstoka. Some are elected. Or some are chosen as the successor of the current Pakstoka.”

“Everyday there is so much that I realize that we need to learn. I almost feel like we never will,” she said shaking her head.

I brought her into a side hug and said, “That’s why we’re helping. It’s a lot to learn. It’s hard for us to understand exactly how hard this is for you and your people, Clarke. We grew up in this world and you’ve been thrown into the deep end without knowing how to swim.”

She chuckled as she wrapped an arm around my waist, “We don’t even know how to do that either.”

“Then we’ll show you how to do that, too.”

We walked into the healer’s office, arm in arm, and found him monitoring brain scans. Clarke let go and walked over to him and I followed more slowly as I took the scans in.

“How’s it working, Jackson,” she asked the healer, Jackson.

“It’s working just like the three she showed us,” he answered and turned to me. “Are your humans still recovering?”

“Sure. Would you like to see for yourself,” I replied walking up to a monitor with a keyboard attached.

“Yes, please.”

I typed in the command Ben had taught me and brought up a live feed of their brain scans. All three were doing exceptionally well and I was relieved that it was really working.

“I have my friend Scarlett taking care of them. When we’re all settled I have a line set up so that the two of you can keep in contact. She’s a healer that works exclusively on humans.”

“Thank you, Nyx,” he replied and then turned back to Clarke, “We’ve just injected the serum into the Council Members, Clarke. Your mom got the first injection.”

“Thank you, Jackson,” she said, tears glistening. “That means a lot to me.”

He squeezed her shoulder and I immediately regretted that this hadn’t happened sooner.

“I’m sorry, Clarke,” I said apologetically, “I didn’t know.”

She wiped at her face and giving me a weak smile, replied, “Thank you and I wouldn’t expect you to know.”

“But, still.”

She smiled more genuinely and hugged me. I hugged her tighter and kissed the top of her head.

“Wanna go check and see how the compound is coming? You’ll get to see how we use our powers,” I asked her wanting to cheer her up.

Her smile widened and she nodded enthusiastically, “You have no idea. Let’s go.”

We waved goodbye and we were on our way.

When we entered the front gate, the place was abuzz with activity. When Octavia saw us, she came running and skidded to a halt in front of us, making me laugh.

She bent over to catch her breath and gasped out, “Clarke, you would not believe what is happening in there. You have got to check it out.”

She grabbed Clarke’s hand and ran off with her. I jogged to keep up as Octavia dragged Clarke from room to room. They stared wide eyed and open mouthed at all the magecraft that was going around them. Crumbling walls were being rebuilt and reinforced. Molding was run up the walls and ceilings. Chandeliers were hung. Floors were remade. Furniture was being moved by hands and minds. I’d never seen this myself, so I was as much awed as they were. We eventually made our way to the back area and it was very much indeed big enough to do a lot more then train. I smiled as a very wrong thought occurred to me and I shook my head to drag my mind away from going there, but it was tough, very, very tough. We found Sephy and Nate in deep conversation. As we neared, I heard Sephy mention something about accepting transfers.

“Sis, that doesn’t seem right. The process to accepting transfers is a lot more detailed than that.”

She looked over at me and said, “Maybe for accepting membership into the Forest Pack, but for the smaller packs, it’s more simpler. Usually, transfers are coming from other packs within the territory, not outside. Since they’re coming from other packs, the need for background information has already been checked and verified for the smaller pack. The focus turns to the personal reasons as to why they’re seeking transfer into the pack. Whether it’s a criminal act that removed them or like in our case, a need for a fresh start and away from the politics of the capital.”

I nodded in understanding, “Whereas, we look on their background information, behavior, reasons for seeking entrance, what powers they have and how strong they are, and the recommendation of the receiving pack leader’s review of the person.”

Nate looked at us in confusion and said, “So, there are differences a Second has to contend with based on the size of the pack.”

I nodded as I took a seat on the ground, “Most definitely. I haven’t been trained to work with smaller packs, Sephy has. She’s right that there’s a lot more politics involved, which means I have to coordinate a lot between security, housing, family disputes and so on. I’m literally the one you come to if you want to lodge a complaint, apply for a change in career, applying for a transfer. I’m the first stop before it goes to de Pakstoka, who then decides if it requires bringing in the Council to make a decision. Lexa and I had it down to a science and rarely needed to call for a Council meeting. We were that intuned with one another, but we had an advantage. Our families have been working together ever since the Forest Pack established itself.”

“Which means that Octavia and I will encounter a lot of bumps in the road until we find our rhythm.”

“Yes,” Sephy replied. “According to Indra and mother, new packs have it the most difficult because it’s usually made up of pack members from different packs. Packs that sometimes operate differently. It’s about establishing an operation that works best for yours.”

“The Manassas pack is the smallest pack here in the territory,” I said. “I recommend that once it’s been registered with the Coalition you ask de Pakstoka for families that are willing to transfer and members searching for a fresh start. Each pack has to perform a census every two years with the capital, who in turn sends the information to the Coalition, including any that have left the territory completely.”

“Why would we ask for transfers?”

“It’s to help ease the burden of your pack members,” Sephy explained. “In a small pack, each member often find themselves performing a lot of different duties. Taking in transfers lessens the burden. To give an example, when the chemist had to be executed, we needed an earth mage strong enough to finish the cure. Now to understand something else, someone who is not part of the pack or not under the permanent employ of the pack cannot do such duties because of pack secrets. We don’t want information to move beyond the territory. And because Nyx was not a pack member and not under permanent employment, Lexa needed her to come back to the pack in order to finish the cure. It’s also the same thing with her being Second now. The former Second and his family were arrested for treason, no other family has the training or the want to take up Second, Nyx was the obvious choice again. The Allistars have always served as Second, so she already had the training.”

“Damn, this is some complicated shit,” Nate said, shaking his head.

“Unfortunately, it’s nothing compared to what Octavia has to learn,” I said looking over at her.

She looked forlorn as she said, “But, I don’t have someone to teach me.”

“Another reason why Nyx is here. She can help with that too. Like she said, her and Lexa have gotten their jobs down to a science. She knows as much about leading a pack as she does about the inner workings. Sometimes, according to mother, it was hard to tell exactly which one was de Pakstoka because they worked that well together.”

She immediately looked relieved and shot me a grateful smile. I looked back to the house and saw several men carrying trays over to us.

When they neared, the lead guy said, “Stokripa, we figured you would be hungry by now and the house is still being worked on, so we brought you your meal.”

“Thank you,” I replied as I stood up and took the tray from him.

Nate and Sephy also took a tray and we sat them on the ground. They bowed and left. We uncovered the trays and found fresh meat, vegetables, fruit and several beverages.

“Oh my god, I have been craving fresh meat so bad lately,” Octavia said as she speared the largest one.

I laughed and said, “That’s natural. Wolves are carnivorous, which makes it important for us to ingest a healthy dose of meat. And since humans are omnivores, we also need the rest of the food groups. We’re a healthy bunch, but we still crave the sweets.”

I looked over at Clarke and asked, “How do you like your steaks cooked?”

“Um, medium well, I think,” she asked unclear of herself.

I took a steak and using my fire, cooked it perfectly to medium well and handed it to her on a plate. She smiled her thanks and took a bite of it. Her eyes closed in pleasure eliciting chuckles all around.

“This is pure heaven,” she said around a mouthful. “There are definitely perks to having a fire mage around.”

“Oh, yeah,” Sephy said with a grin. “Definitely have one around on those cold winter nights.”

I made a face and seared my meat the way I liked it causing Sephy to make a face.

“Ugh, I don’t understand why, Sis. Why do you have to ruin a perfectly good steak,” she moaned.

“Oh do not start with me, Persephone,” I replied. “I got enough of that last night.”

“Is that what started that ruckus?!”

I blushed and hid my face, “Um, yeah?”

She laughed, “Why am I not surprised.”

“Why? What happened last night,” Clarke asked genuinely curious and making me blush harder.

Sobering up, Sephy said, “Last night, Lexa, Dani, and Scarlett got on about how she has a habit of ruining meat like steak and fish. They ended up nearly destroying the kitchen and the downstairs before it turned to something else. No one could sleep last night. It’s why she smells.”

“I don’t smell anything,” Clarke asked confused.

Sephy laughed, “You wouldn’t. You’re a mage. Weres on the other hand can. All three of them marked her with their scent. It’s strong enough, that’ll it take days to get rid of it.”

“Wait, you mean,” Octavia said with wide eyes.

“Yes. They apparently wanted to make her last night in the capital very memorable and hard to forget.”

I peeked over at Clarke and saw that she was close to regret, so I glared at Sephy.

Sis, you need to explain better. Look at Clarke.

Sephy looked at Clarke and realized she’d made a mistake in telling the story and quickly jumped to explain, “You have to remember that Forest Pack has a high sex drive as a whole. We tend to have multiple partners and orgies. Nyx was always popular with the girls. Don’t know what it is about her, but it is what it is. So, when she rejoined the pack and declined Lexa’s offer to reclaim, it’s become a free for all in regards to gaining Nyx’s attention. Until she decides to either claim or be claimed, she’s going to be pursued.”

“And the marking,” Octavia asked.

“That’s the hardest part for non-pack members and mages to work through. Marking is a very intimate act. it’s just short of claiming. It’s like when a dog pees on a tree, it’s establishing the tree as theirs. It does’t mean that other dogs won’t pee on the same tree, but it establishes a bit of dominance. In our case, it’s like calling dibs. They’re telling other pack members that if she ever decides that she’s open to being claimed, they have first crack at her. So, Dani and Scarlett have called dibs and Lexa did it just because. It doesn’t mean that she can’t sleep with other women, it’s just a reminder to Nyx that there are women that wouldn’t mind spending the rest of their lives with. It also doesn’t mean that Nyx has to choose only them, she could decide to claim someone else, even a non-pack member or a mage.”

Clarke looked up at Sephy with a hint of hope and Sephy just smiled.

“Damn, even your sex is complicated,” Nate said whistling.

Sephy laughed, “There are a great many things about the Forest Pack that are complicated. We just learn to roll with it.”

“Hey, wait a minute,” Octavia broke through, “Does that mean my pack will end up acting like the Forest Pack?”

Sephy looked at me and I shrugged, “We have no clue. We don’t even know why we have such a sex drive. Or why the Allistars and Devereuxs work so well together or chosen to become the leaders of the pack. It’s just the way it is. Now, in respects to you, we don’t know why suddenly Apex appeared out of your people. We theorize that the radiation slowly seeped into the bunker that it ended up taking nearly 60 years to show the evolution or mutations that are on the ground. I don’t think it necessarily means that you’ll become like the rest of the pack, though.”

“Is the urge controllable,” Octavia asked.

“Yes and no,” I replied. “We can control it up to a point. The urge to have sex on a regular basis doesn’t really start until we become sexually active. Once we become active, I think the most someone has gone without sex is like a month. The average is about every two or three weeks, but many of us have sex nearly every other day or daily. It depends on the person.”

“What happens if you go without it for too long?”

“We slowly descend into madness, or at least that’s what the stories tell us.”

“That is harsh,” Nate said. “Just because you decide not to have sex. What the hell happened to you guys?”

I shrugged, “Wish we knew.”

“Excuse me,” Clarke said, standing up. “I need to go check on my mom.”

Everyone looked up at her with confusion and I felt really bad about the situation. When she was halfway across the lawn, I got up and went after her.

“Hey,” I said when I neared and grabbed her arm.

She stopped and looked at me and I could see the hurt in your eyes.

“I’m sorry about all that,” I said softly. “Sometimes I start to ramble.”

“It’s alright,” she said as she started walking away again.

I joined her and looked over at her, “No, it’s not alright. We’re a blunt people, Clarke, and speaking with y’all, we tend to forget that this is all new to you. Look, I admit that I’ve slept with Lexa, Dani, and Scarlett lately. I’m not going to deny it. They’re familiar to me and I have been with them frequently. It really is something that I have limited control over.”

She turned to walk away, but I stopped her and pulled us into an alcove out of the way, “Clarke, look at me please.”

She did and I hesitantly cupped her face, “It doesn’t mean that I care for you any less. If I admit it, honestly to myself, I care about you more. That one night wasn’t enough for me. There is something truly wonderful about you that just draws me in and I want to drown in it. I want you, Clarke. I’ve wanted you since that night.”

Tears sprang in her eyes and she whispered, “I’ve wanted you, too, Nyx. I just never seem to have a chance to say it.”

I smiled, “Now’s your chance, Clarke. I’m really not going anywhere anytime soon. I’m yours if you’ll have me.”

She nodded and I leaned down to kiss her. She snaked her arms around my neck and pulled me down to her, deepening it. I put everything I’ve been wanting to say into our kiss. When we broke, she laid her head on my chest and I just held onto her.

“It was just so hard to hear, Nyx,” she said quietly. “That three women marked you and that you let it happen.”

I chuckled lightly, “I wish I could’ve prevented it, trust me, but they pretty much left me no choice. But, I’m here with you. I choose to be with you. You are all I need right now.”

“Thank you, but I really do want to check on my mom.”

I laughed, “Then we shall check on your mom, hmm?”

She looked up at me in surprise, “You’re coming with me?”

“Unless, you don’t want me to?”

“No, no. It’s just, I know you don’t like humans.”

“She is the mother of a gorgeous, loving, kind, woman who I’m hopelessly attracted to. Don’t you think the two of us should meet?”

She shook her head and smiled, “I would love to introduce you to my mom.”

“Then,” I said stepping back and holding out my arm, “Will you do me the honor of escorting you to your mother?”

She laughed and took my arm. I tucked her hand in close and we went to see her mother. We checked in with Jackson and took a peek at her scan. There was some improvement, but I could tell that there was a ways to go. When we entered the ward, Clarke guided me to the middle of the beds and went to a woman with long dirty blonde hair and a normally thin frame, but she looked like nothing more then a skeleton with skin. I cringed at seeing the damage the neurotoxin had done. I stayed standing as Clarke sat beside her on the bed. I laid a comforting hand on her shoulder and she looked up at me in gratitude.

“Mom,” Clarke said gently, “Mom, it’s me, Clarke.”

The woman stirred at Clarke’s voice and she turned to face us. I wanted to recoil when I saw the blank stare of the blind. I accidentally squeezed Clarke’s shoulder in anger and she hissed in pain. I immediately let go and whispered ‘sorry.’ She nodded and stroked her mom’s face.

“Clarke, is it really you,” she whispered, voice sounding cracked.

“Yeah, Mom. It’s me. How are you feeling?”

“Strangely, a little better.”

“That’s real good, Mom. You even sound better.”

“How?”

“The people whose territory we live in, found a cure. We’ve given it to you.”

“And it works?”

“Yes, Mom. They’ve already treated three of their own who had been exposed. One of them is doing real well. He’ll be completely cured in a month, we figure.”

“Thank god. We’ve lost so many, Clarke. So many…”

“I know, but we’re not going to lose any more, I promise.”

“Good, good. Tell me how everything is going?”

“We’re letting the prisoners go today. We traded them for the cure. Their people won’t be bothering us like that anymore. They’ve made overtures to end this peacefully.”

“You’ve done so well, Clarke. I’m proud of you. Your father would be proud of you too.”

“Thank you, Mom. I’m trying.”

“You’re taking care of yourself, though, right? It wouldn’t do well for you to get sick too.”

“I’m taking care of myself. My friends are making sure of it,” she laughed lightly.

“Bellamy?”

Clarke jumped slightly at the mention of his name and I remembered that they’d locked him up.

“He’s, he’s doing okay, Mom. So is everyone else.”

“You two need to look after each other. You’re stronger together.”

“Yes, Mom, I know.”

I leaned down and whispered, “I can help Bellamy, Clarke.”

She nodded and her Mom snapped her head in my direction and asked, “Clarke, is someone with you?”

“Yes, Mom. Her name is Nyx. She’s here to oversee the cure and help us understand what’s going on. She’s one of the leaders of the people who own this land.”

I leaned down and laid a hand on hers. Without planning on it, my healing kicked in and sent a wave of power into her. She gasped and gripped my own. I didn’t try to pull away until I felt the power withdraw back inside.

“Sorry about that,” I apologized and I looked at her face and saw that her eyes had gotten clearer.

“What was that,” she whispered.

“Um, something that seems to have helped. How’s your eyesight?”

“I can see light now,” she said astonished. “I’ve haven’t seen light in months.”

“I know, ma’am, and I’m really sorry about that. My people don’t like it when there’s a sudden large group of people show up in the middle of our territory. The gas that was launched into your camp was a neurotoxin that attacks certain areas of the brain. It’s meant to hinder, but we never anticipated that it could do this. On behalf of my leader, I sincerely apologize.”

“Thank you, young lady,” she said sincerely. “Clarke called you Nyx. The Greek primordial Goddess of Night.”

I smiled, “Yes, ma’am. My parents had a thing about naming their children after the Greek Pantheon. My sister’s name is Persephone and my brother’s was Nereus.”

“Nereus,” Clarke mouthed to me, but I could only shrug.

“Was,” her mom asked me.

“Yes, ma’am. He was killed eight years ago.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that. Time never really eases the pain, does it?”

“No, ma’am. Some days are easier than others. But you must be getting tired. We’ve kept you up long enough.”

“How thoughtful of you, Nyx. Take care of my daughter, will you?”

I smiled and said, “I will. You have my word.”

She smiled at me and closed her eyes. We waited a moment longer and then quietly left. When we left the ward, Clarke pulled me off to the side and kissed me. I returned the kiss, pulling her in.

When we stopped, I asked, “What was that for?”

“For whatever it was you did in there.”

“I’ll be honest, it wasn’t a conscious effort on my part. As soon as I touched her, my healing power went straight into her. I just held on until it tapered off.”

“Do powers do that? Just randomly turn on?”

“Not that I’m aware of. But, I’ve never studied the history of our powers. So, it could be possible.”

“Whatever. Thank you for being there with me and doing that.”

“Clarke,” I said, tilting her chin so that she could look at me, “You don’t have to keep thanking me.”

“I know, but I want to.”

“Alright, if it makes you happy.”

“It does. You said that you could help me with Bellamy?”

“I can, but it’s up to you if you want to do it. I have enough telepathic ability that I can manipulate his mind and make him more agreeable to accepting that there are people with powers, so that he won’t freak out again and try to tell everyone.”

“Manipulate?”

“Yeah, it’s not a word I like to use, but that is what I’d be doing. I’d be taking these last few weeks that you’ve had him in the psych ward and make it seem like he really did have a mental breakdown because he got overwhelmed. And turn his mind to be weirded out by the powers, but not enough to betray his friends and sister.”

“Would there be any side affects?”

“No, what I put in there will seem absolutely real, like it really happened. It’s why when I think about what happened eight years ago, I still see Ice Pack killing my people even after finding out my mind was manipulated into seeing it.”

“It seems so invasive, intimate, and personal. I don’t know.”

“It is all of those things, I’m not going to lie, but it would mean that you got your friend back. He’d still be the same person before he freaked the fuck out. He’ll just be more understanding and open.”

“Can I talk to Octavia about this?”

“Most definitely. He is her brother. She should most assuredly have a say in this. I’m just offering an alternative to keeping him locked up.”

“Okay, let’s head back to the compound.”

“Sure, they should actually be almost done by now.”

 

When we got back, we were just in time to watch them start packing everything up. Sephy came up and took us to the head of the moving crew.

“How’re we doing,” I asked the man.

“It’s done. All that’s left is to set up the wards. We’ll do the initial set up and key the five of you into the ward and you can add everyone else as they get here.”

“Sounds good,” I replied. “When everyone’s out, we’ll do it.”

Fifteen minutes later, everyone was cleared out and the five of us were standing at the front gates with the mages that would set up the ward.

“Why so many mages,” Clarke asked.

“We’re setting up different layers of wards to prevent the possible ways someone might try to break through. The most common powers are the elements, earth, air, fire, and water. Then the next layer will be for the second most common and then the third and forth. The fifth layer is meant to repel several powers at once. To lock and unlock the wards, is like using a biometric scanner, but instead of reading handprints, it reads our specific signatures. Which in turn gives us access. Each person with a power gives off a different signature, like a fingerprint,” I explained.

“It’s ready for you,” one of the mages called out.

I nodded and brought Clarke up with me. I held her hand until I felt the slight push back that meant that we were touching the ward.

I took my hand away and said, “Okay, you just need to repeat these words; Ai meika, de klika.”

She did and her eyes widened at the feeling and she took her hand away and looked at it. I stepped up and did the same thing, then Octavia, Nate, and lastly Sephy. Once that was done, the mages finished the ward and Nate and Sephy left to get the prisoners.

“So, what exactly did we just say,” Octavia asked curiously.

“My hand, the key,” I supplied the translation. “All you have to do now is place your hand on the ward, that slight push, and it will unlock for you. The words are what sets it up.”

“So, how do we key in other people; the pack and mages?”

“Nearly exactly the same, but this time one of us has to touch the ward with the person who we’re keying in.”

“That’s incredible,” Clarke said. “So, we can place these wards anywhere.”

“Yes. Anywhere you want to keep people out of, like the Council Room or areas that you want to restrict to only certain people.”

“Wow, thank you so much, Nyx. This is all incredible,” Octavia said and gave me a hug.

“You’re welcome. We want to give you as much as a foothold in this place as possible. This is just the first step. Um, Clarke, I see the prisoners making their way here, why don’t you have that chat with Octavia about what we discussed.”

“Now? But,” she said.

“Hey, that way it’ll give you both something to really think about. Then just let me know what you decide,” I said before I took off towards my pack members.

Meeting up with them, we walked up to the waiting transports. They hurried their steps, but I noticed three or four lagging behind and I dropped back to them.

“What’s going on, Charlie,” I asked.

“Well, you see the four of us have been talking and I know you said we all need to go home to rest and recover, but we’d honestly like to stay,” he replied.

“Are we talking temporary or permanently?”

The looked at one another and Charlie replied, “Permanently. We’d like to transfer to the Manassas Pack. Octavia is a good pack leader, but she still has a lot to learn. We know that you and your sister are here to help, but eventually you will leave. We’d like to make sure that she has someone with more experience helping her through this.”

“That’s kind of you,” I replied thinking. “Right now, I can’t let you stay here even temporarily any longer then you have. But, I think once the dust has settled, de Pakstoka would accept the transfer requests. We want this place to thrive and one way is to bring pack members from other packs here, but we have to be selective in doing so. The four of you have lived here, you’re comfortable with Octavia and she’s comfortable around you. You’ll probably be a tremendous asset to her, but like I said nothing can be done until this is all over. Okay?”

“Yes, ,” Charlie said inclining his head. “We’ll go home, but I can bet you that as soon as we receive the all clear, our applications will be in your hand immediately.”

I chuckled, “Fair enough, Charlie. Fair enough. Stay safe, my friends.”

I watched as they boarded and drove out of sight before I turned to face what was going to become my home for the foreseeable future.

“Hey, Sis,” Sephy said, drawing my attention. “It’d be a good time to claim our rooms, don’t you think?”

“Only if Nate and Octavia have already. You know they get first dibs.”

She laughed and grabbed my hand pulling me inside, “They’re already in there picking their rooms. So, come on.”

I rolled my eyes as we entered and jogged up the steps. I found a room to my liking on the third floor with a balcony overlooking the back. I ran back downstairs and grabbed my stuff and was unpacking when Clarke and Octavia found me.

I looked up from my bag and straightened when I saw their faces, “You’ve made a decision already.”

“Yes,” Octavia said as she sat on the end of my bed. “Can you explain to me exactly what it is you’re going to be doing?”

“Okay, I’ll try,” I said as I sat at the head and they turned to look at me. “There’s a part in our brains that stores our memories, long term and short term. Long term is like remembering the first time you sat down and had a family meal. Short term is more like remembering something you did ten minutes ago to say a month or so. That would be the area of the brain I’d be working on. Now, I can’t remove the memories completely, but I can manipulate how they’re viewed. Give him a different reason to believe why he’s there and not because he tried to run away from you. Then there’s the bit of behavioral manipulation that takes place in another part of the brain. I can modify it enough that makes him more open to the idea that Apex aren’t the freaks he fears, instead he’ll be more likely to accept you for you, powers and all.”

“Will it hurt?”

“No, I didn’t feel a thing when it was done to me. It was automatic, like flipping a switch. And what I give him won’t be anywhere near the image that bitch gave me nor the bloodthirsty compulsion. I’m giving him alternative facts to explain why he’s been in the psych ward. It’s a possibility that he may even have already been feeling the strain of all the pressure that was laid on all of you.”

“How long will it take?”

“I’m not a really strong telepath, so it’ll take me a little bit longer, but it will move faster if I already have a narrative laid out in my mind. You just tell me what it is you want him to remember instead and I’ll lay it there. I should mention that it’d probably be a good idea to have him sedated during this, if you want me to do this. Less likely of either one of us getting hurt.”

They nodded and I waited as they thought about it.

“I want my brother back, Nyx,” Octavia said sadly. “This hasn’t been the same without him. I want to share this with him and I want him to be a part of it.”

I nodded and said, “I understand that feeling. I won’t say I understand what it’s like to have a human for a brother, because it such a rare occurrence that no one really knows how those families deal with it.”

“So, this isn’t the first time that there’s been an Apex and human born in the same family,” Clarke asked.

“No, it’s not. Just extremely rare.”

“Okay,” Octavia said looking at me determinedly. “Do it, tonight. Like right now.”

“Alright,” I said and got up. “Lead the way, ladies.”

They took me to another section of the medical wing and I waited as they quietly talked with the staff. Two of them went into the room that apparently Bellamy had been staying in. There was a bit of a struggle and then the staff left the room. They nodded and we entered. I kneeled down and gently removed the straight jacket and rubbed his arms to give them more circulation. I sat down cross-legged and laid his head in my lap and they sat on either side of him.

“Okay, so what am I telling him,” I asked gently.

They looked at each other and then Clarke said, “Tell him that after the two wolves visited we all got into a heated argument about the wolves that we were holding. That Octavia and I argued again to just let the prisoners go. That since it was obvious that the wolves were important to your people and that after the visit it seemed more important to be lenient. That if we let them go, your leader wouldn’t send any more people to try and hurt us. He argued that if we let them go after the death of one of the wolves, there was no way that you wouldn’t retaliate since the wolves were obviously revered. The rest of the Council agreed with me and Octavia which he couldn’t stand and just freaked out, throwing things around, threatening us to the point that we had to restrain him and bring him down here because we thought he was endangering us and himself.”

“Okay, that’s good. I suspect that this wasn’t a new argument that you’ve had?”

They nodded.

“Got it,” I said as I laid my hands on either side of his head and closed my eyes.

I prayed to Mother Earth to guide and give me strength as I delved into his mind and searched for the specific memory that started it all. From there, I unthreaded and rethreaded the narrative from his point of view until i came to the point where the staff members came into this room. I felt it click into place and scanned over it to make sure it was believable.

Next, I pulled myself to his behavior and created neural pathways that built heavily on his love of his sister and his need to protect her. In doing so, protecting his friends who were all part of their council. I slowly interjected that each had powers, showing him that it was as natural as breathing, but it was a sudden appearance when they surfaced and began interacting with the prisoners. I let him feel how freaked out he was when he saw Nate shoot fire from his hand and how Octavia put it out with her water. I then opened up a pathway that showed him yeah he was freaked out that they had powers and that he was disappointed in himself that he didn’t, but his love for his sister and his friends, that were now his family, overrode that fear. He was working on accepting the difference between himself and them, but knew that he was still needed, still useful. That they needed him to stay grounded. When that was in place, I thanked Mother Earth and backed slowly out of his mind, making sure that I left nothing of myself behind.

I opened my eyes slowly, to let them adjust to the light and breathed deeply and slowly as I came back fully to myself.

“It’s done,” I said softly as I stroked his head.

“Did it work,” Octavia asked.

“I believe so, yes, but really we won’t know until he wakes up. Have the staff put him in a bed and lightly restrain his ankles and wrists. That way if he jars awake, he won’t hurt anyone or himself.”

“You’ve done this before, haven’t you,” Clarke asked.

“Yes, but only in highly traumatic experiences, like kidnappings, abuse cases, something that could prevent someone from moving forward. Or the more mundane ‘I was never here’ move.”

Octavia smiled and said, “So, you only use your powers for good.”

I smiled in return, “I try, but sometimes I’m not able to. It’s the job of an Enforcer. Sometimes you have to do bad in order to do the good things.”

She shook her head, “Just when I think I’ve got you all figured out, you say or do something that just completely wipes everything away.”

“Yep, that’s me in a nutshell. I cannot be adequately defined and categorized. Keeps people on their toes, but come on, let’s get the staff and get this guy into a real bed,” I said as I stood up and stretched.

I helped both of them up and then the three of us made sure that he was well taken of and threatened within an inch of their lives to let Octavia know immediately when he woke up.

I swung an arm around Octavia’s shoulder and an arm around Clarke’s waist as we all trooped back to the compound. We found everyone gathered in the large dining room, a feast laid out. I pushed Octavia to the head of the table, Nate to her right and an open spot on her left that I sat Clarke in. I sat next to Clarke and Sephy sat opposite me. We all waited expectantly as Octavia looked at us wide-eyed.

You need to say something, Octavia. A prayer of thanks or some such, I spoke to her.

Her head snapped in my direction when she heard my voice, but nodded subtly.

She took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, she said, “This is a big change for all of us. Thanks to the Forest Pack, we now have a place to call our own. A place where we will be safe. A place to grow and learn. A home. Our home. And we welcome Nyx and Persephone Allistar to our home and our table. Welcome.”

“Thank you, Pakstoka,” I said as I inclined my head. “This is truly a momentous occasion. The first of many I hope.”

“I think that’s all I got,” she joked. “Let’s dig in.”

We passed the platters around as we grabbed what we wanted to eat. The mages’ meat was already cooked, so I couldn’t show off again. When the food was passed, Sephy and I bowed our head briefly in thanks to Mother Earth and started tucking the food away. Everyone enjoyed themselves and were comparing who had the better room. They also began to discuss among themselves what they were looking forward to learning. I smiled as I heard the discussions around me. I’d comment or answer a question when something was addressed to me. All in all it was a good family dinner. A first for them.

When we were done, several of the pack members took up the dishes and platters and took them into the kitchen to be cleaned. The rest of the pack that weren’t part of the inner circle left to get acquainted with their new home, leaving four werewolves and five mages at the table.

“This place is unbelievable,” Raven said as she looked around the dining room.

“What you’re looking at is what this place looked like before the apocalypse. The mansion is more opulent by far, but this place has a more homier feel to it,” I said thoughtfully as I took in everything.

“It does feel like a home,” Octavia said bemusedly. “Who’d ever think we’d be living in such a place. Bell and I were hoping for a two bedroom house that we could call our own. Now, we have this huge ass place.”

“And who would’ve ever thought that our little Octavia would be a werewolf pack leader,” Jasper said, saluting her with his glass.

“Not me, for sure,” she laughed. “But really, Nyx, Sephy, thank you for this.”

Sephy laughed, “You’re welcome, but I bet you will change your tune when we start training you guys. The pack takes their training very seriously and we usually come away with bruises, knots, scratches, torn clothing, singed hair and many other things.”

“She’s right, Octavia,” I said. “We train hard, because when we do have to fight it really is a life or death situation. Our biggest threat will always be to our northern border, the Ice Pack. I’m not going to go into details, because I don’t want you worrying about it now. For now, we concentrate on developing everyone’s powers and learning how to fight. We won’t begin until the day after tomorrow, because I want y’all to get comfortable with this place, get settled. A night won’t do that.”

“Thank god,” Octavia said, relieved. “I was thinking you’d want to jump right in on the training. I was dreading the notion of waking up early and getting the crap kicked out of me.”

I laughed, “No, I’m not that cruel.”

Before anyone could say anything else, the communicator on my hip beeped. I looked at it and stood up, “Excuse me, but I’ve got to take this.”

Octavia nodded and I headed out of the room and into a quiet sitting room before I answered.

Pakstoka,” I said, concern creasing my brow, “Is everything alright?”

She laughed, “Everything’s fine, Nyx. Not everything we talk about is trouble.”

“Sorry. I guess it’s habit. So, did the pack members arrive safely?”

“They did and we sent them straight to medical to get them checked out. They’re thin, but healthy. Family members have been arriving since this afternoon, getting them and taking them home. Friends of Charlie’s came and got him. They’re going to make sure that he’s not left alone.”

“Good. I’m glad. We’ve got the compound set up for the Manassas Pack and they’re already settling in. The cure is working and the people are getting better.”

“That’s good to hear as well. Scarlett says that our humans are all out of the woods and are on the way to a full recovery. Have there been any issues with the humans there?”

“With the healthy ones? No. We set up a ward to keep them from coming this way while we worked on the compound. Today has been an easy day for everyone here.”

“The Council is still arguing about what they’re willing to give the humans when we finally get to the peace summit.”

“It’s not about what we’re willing to give. This is a matter of how do we keep everyone safe. We have the 22 Apex, an unknown number of adults that may or may not become Apex, and the 100 humans. What can we do to keep these people safe? We’ve already begun doing that by establishing a pack house here. It’s protected enough that the pack and mages will stay safe if anything bad happens. The adults are beginning to get better. Once the leaders become healthy enough…”

“Then we can begin explaining and making overtures of keeping everyone safe, Apex and humans alike,” she answered for me.

I smiled, “That’s it. These kids need help, real help. They need to be taught how to farm, how to raise livestock, get livestock, how to build homes, irrigation. I think we should really consider providing that tutelage, Lex. Teach them how to survive so that when it does come time for the peace summit, they have a chance to make this place a home.”

“Then that’s what I’ll bring up to the Council. What are we willing to provide them while their leaders to get better. Continue to drain our resources to keep them fed, or teach them how to feed themselves. I like that, Nyx. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. It’s what I’m here for.”

“God, I have missed you, Nyx.”

“I’ve missed you too, Lex.”

“I don’t want to ever lose you like that again.”

“I know, sweetheart. I know. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Do you promise?”

“I promise,” I said solemnly. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Good. Let me know how everything goes.”

“I will, Lexa. I’ll make it a habit to report to you nightly, okay?”

“Okay,” she said and I could hear her sniffle.

“Lexa, sweetheart, everything’s going to be okay. There’s no need for you to start crying.”

“I don’t know what’s come over me, Nyx. I feel like I did when I watched you leave for the northern border. Like I’ll never see you again.”

“Lex, this isn’t like going to war. This is a peace mission. The only fighting I’m expecting is in the training arena. Look, find Dani. Find Scarlett. Talk with them about how you feel. Let them comfort you. All you have to do is let them in.”

“Okay,” she whispered. “I love you.”

“I love you too. Go find them and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Mm-hm, good night.”

“Good night.”

I sat down heavily on a chair, leaned back and closed my eyes. It was so weird hearing her like that. So unsure. My heart ached that I couldn’t give her what she needed right now. The only thing I could do was send her to Dani and Scarlett. They would help her, because I knew they felt it too. None of them wanted to lose me and I didn’t want to lose them.

I heard footsteps come in and up to me.

“Is everything okay,” Clarke asked quietly.

I opened my eyes and saw her leaning against the arm of the chair.

“Yeah. It’s Lexa. She’s been thinking more about the past. About what happened between the two of us. She’s beating herself up for listening to the wrong people. It has her worried about me, now that I’m back and we’ve made up. She’s afraid of losing me again.”

“You guys had a really tight relationship,” she said thoughtfully.

“You could say that. Our mother’s used to joke that when they were pregnant with us, that we were each other’s half. That together, we were the most powerful leader in the entire Coalition. Unstoppable. Unbeatable. And for awhile we were. Then it all changed in one night.”

“And now that you’re back, it appears to be falling back in place.”

“It would appear so.”

“She’s afraid to lose that again.”

“Yes.”

“You’re even more special then I thought, Nyx.”

“Why do you say that?”

She sat on my lap and wrapped an arm around my neck and said, “There’s something about you that just tells me that with you, I’ll always be safe. That no matter what happens or where our paths take us, when you’re here, I’ll be safe.”

“Hmm, maybe.”

She looked at me and smiled and said, “There’s no maybe about it, Nyx. I’m safe with you.”

With that she pulled me into a kiss and making me wrap my arms tight against her. The kiss turned into more and eventually, I led her to my room.

The night had turned into so much more then I could have imagined and I was glad when I woke up with her in my arms and knowing that I wasn’t going to leave her like last time.

I was drowsily tracing my fingers along her body when she finally awoke. I smiled at her and kissed her.

She smiled and said, “Morning.”

“It is indeed morning, love. How did you sleep?”

“Better then I have since we left the bunker.”

“That long, huh?”

She rolled us until she was on top of me and kissed me again more thoroughly. I ran my nails along her back making her gasp in pleasure. I chuckled as I grasped her hips and held her tight as her lips traveled south making me gasp in return.

It was another two, three hours before we headed downstairs. Breakfast was pretty much eat what you want, so I made eggs, pancakes and bacon. I handed Clarke a plate and taking one for myself, sat down at the breakfast nook. I poured some coffee and took a sip at it’s delicious flavor. She added cream and sugar to hers and we ate in companionable silence. Octavia came in around the time we were finishing up and told us that Bellamy was awake and asking for them.

“Do you want to come with us,” Clarke asked me.

“I’ll come if you want me there, but isn’t this really a matter between the three of you? I’m a stranger to him,” I replied.

“No, I want you to come,” Octavia said. “Let him see that you’re not some sociopathic killer.”

Clarke smiled, remembering something, “He did think it was highly suspicious that you had a luxurious hotel room with women’s clothing and allowed us to stay after one night of sex. He was bound and determined to believe that you had some ulterior motive that would wind up with us dead.”

I laughed and stood up, “Well, then hopefully I’ll be able to put him at ease then. I may be a killer. I don’t think I’m a sociopath and I am not going to kill you in your sleep. Too messy.”

They laughed and we went down to the psych ward. When we reached his room, I hung back as the girls entered. He was so happy to see them. I watched to make sure that what I had done yesterday was holding and was happy when he apologized for freaking out when Nate and Octavia used their powers for the first time.

“I’m so sorry, Octavia,” he said, tears streaming down his face. “I shouldn’t have reacted that way. It just really freaked me out.”

“It’s okay, big brother. It freaked us all out, too. But we’re getting a handle on it. All of us are, but we’re not using them in front of anybody else. We’re being careful not to frighten anyone.”

“That’s good. That’s smart,” he said, nodding his head.

“Clarke,” he asked, “do all of you have powers?”

“The ones on our Council do, but there have been a few others as well,” she answered carefully.

“How is it possible?”

“We don’t know, Bell. We haven’t been able to figure it out. We may never figure it out.”

He nodded, “Maybe it’s for the best. Where is everyone?”

“Um, we’re not sure actually. Monty and Raven are probably in their lab working on something. Jasper is probably doing the same. Monroe and Harper are in lockup because of the girl.”

“Girl, what girl,” he asked wide-eyed.

“Remember the wolf-not wolf that was killed,” Octavia asked gently.

“Yeah, yeah. I remember. She was a werewolf, right?”

“That’s right. Because Harper and Monroe were involved, we had to arrest them and lock them up with the others.”

“Okay. How are the adults doing? Did we lose anymore?”

“We did,” Clarke said sadly, “but we finally got a cure.”

“That’s great. How?”

“We got a line of communication opened up with the leader of the territory. She was willing to find a cure for us since it was their canister that caused it. They didn’t know that it would react like that to people without powers or those over the age of 30.”

“She didn’t ask for anything in return,” he asked warily.

“Just the return of her people. They went home yesterday when they gave us the cure.”

“Nothing else?”

“No. They’re actually helping us, Bell,” Octavia said. “They really don’t want anything bad to happen, it’s just that when we suddenly appeared out of the bunker we scared them.”

He nodded as he looked around the room, thinking and that’s when he finally saw me.

He narrowed his eyes and asked, “Who are you?”

“Bellamy, this is Nyx Allistar,” Clarke said inviting me closer.

I stepped closer, but stopped at the edge of his bed.

He looked at Clarke and said, “The Enforcer? The one who let us stay in her hotel room?”

“Yes.”

“Is it safe to have her here?”

I chuckled and said, “It’s safe. I’m actually de Pakstoka’s Second. I’m the one who finished the cure and brought it here.”

“The Garrison Commander made it seem like you weren’t allowed here, so how are you here?”

“It’s a long and complicated story, Bellamy. She did hire me on as an Enforcer and brought me here to end the situation, but something happened and it’s just easier to say that she brought me back into the pack and made me her Second again.”

“And you’re here because…”

“Because I’m the liaison between our people. I’m here to help train those that have powers so that they don’t accidentally hurt their own people. I’m also here to speak with your leaders once they are able to. de Pakstoka wishes to have a peace summit in order to figure out what to do about this situation. Outside this shield, the largest groups of humans is no larger then ten. Here, you have over a 100.”

“And the people like you, don’t like people like me.”

“I’m afraid so. Yes, we think of humans as less than desirables and we treat them bad. I’m not denying it. Some have even gone as far as owning them as slaves. We tell ourselves, it’s because we want to protect them, but it’s really about making sure they know that we’re the dominant species. Because of that whole mindset, having such a large population of humans in one place is risky and dangerous. Something we don’t want to escalate, so that’s why we’ve kept this all under wraps. We want to come up with a solution that will keep everyone safe and relatively happy.”

“So, you don’t want to kill all the humans?”

“God, no! That’s just reprehensible. Neither de Pakstoka or I would stand for it.”

“Why did you have all those women’s clothing in your hotel room?”

“Because I sleep around a lot,” I answered automatically.

“Was Clarke just a one night fling for you?”

“That was my intent when I went to the bar that night, but no, it’s a not a one night thing for me.”

He nodded, “Good.”

Clarke’s communicator beeped and we could hear Jackson’s voice come through, “Clarke, you and Nyx need to get over here now.”

“Why? What’s going on? Did something bad happen,” she replied worriedly.

“No, not bad. It’s actually good. Really good. Just get here.”

“Okay, we’re right down the hall, we’ll be there soon.”

“Sorry, Bellamy, but we’ve go to go.”

“Don’t worry,” Octavia said. “I’ll have the doctors check on him and see if he’s ready to leave.”

Clarke nodded and we ran to Jackson’s lab. We burst into the lab expecting to find just Jackson, but we found Clarke’s mom waiting with him.

I skidded to a stop just inside the door as Clarke rushed to her mother and hugged her tight. What I saw in front of me shouldn’t have been possible. There was no way, that someone as close to death as she had been should have recovered this much over night.

“Jackson,” I asked as I edged over to him. “What happened?”

“I’m not sure exactly,” he said, happily. “I came in after lunch to check on everybody and there Abby was, just sitting up and looking around.”

“Her brain scan?”

“Look for yourself,” he said and brought it up on screen.

The neurotoxin had been completely eradicated and where you would see powers, hers was glowing a bright and steady yellow. I looked at her in amazement.

“This should have happened two months from now, not overnight,” I said in wonder.

“That’s what your simulation projected. But something happened yesterday and we caught it on the scan. Look.”

He scrolled back the scans until he came to the footage he wanted to show me. He hit play and there was a sudden burst of light that lit the brain completely up. After a minute or two it slowly went away. There was a mild improvement that shouldn’t have happened that soon after receiving the serum and as he moved forward, the spread withdrew at an alarming rate until we came to the most current scan.

I stepped back in shock as it dawned on me. That quick unconscious use of my healing power had ignited the serum, accelerating it to an unimaginable speed.

I looked around, finding a scalpel, I grabbed it and then grabbed Jackson’s hand, “Sorry, Jackson,” and sliced his palm open.

“What the fuck,” he cried out trying to snatch his hand away, but I held firm.

I covered his hand with mine and called my healing up and was washed with relief when it responded. When I took my hand away, his palm was completely healed.

“What was that for,” Clarke demanded.

“I had to make sure,” I said. “I’m sorry, Jackson, but I had to be sure.”

“Be sure of what?”

“Remember when I touched your mother’s hand yesterday. I told you that my healing just decided, on it’s own, to go into her and we saw her eyes clear up enough to see light.”

“Yeah, I remember,” she said confused.

“Well, Jackson just showed me what happened on her brain scan when it happened. For whatever reason, my power decided to accelerate the cure and this is the result. I freaked and for a moment. I thought I lost the power. That’s why I sliced Jackson’s palm open.”

“Because, Abby is a healer,” Jackson said in awe.

“Yes. I’d bet my life on it.”

“How?”

“I really don’t know,” I said as I leaned against his desk.

“And Mom, you’re feeling okay, right,” Clarke asked her eyes going everywhere over her mom’s face.

“I feel perfectly fine,” she replied. “Actually, I feel great.”

“I wonder if it can be done again,” Jackson wondered aloud.

“What you think, if I touch someone else, it’ll happen again,” I asked incredulously.

He shrugged, “Maybe.”

“I’m not sure I want try on a maybe answer, Jackson.”

“It couldn’t hurt to try,” her mom said, “The worst that could happen is nothing will happen.”

“No, it’s not. The worst that could happen is that I could be drained dry and may not be able to stop until it kills me.”

She looked at me in surprise and said, “Oh.”

But then a niggling thought entered my head, “But then again, I could be wrong. The other council members were stricken too, right?”

“Yeah, Jaha and Kane,” Jackson answered.

“Take me to one of them,” I said, as I felt a pull that I didn’t recognize.

“Um, okay. Who?”

“Kane,” her mom said. “Take her to Kane.”

“Okay,” he said and grabbed a portable brain scanner and off we went, all four of us.

Kane looked like her mom had yesterday.

“You ready,” Jackson asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I responded and placed my hand on his.

The same thing happened again. My healing was pulled into him and I glanced at the brain scan. It flared bright and as I felt the pull lessen, so did the light until I could remove my hand. We crowded around the scan and watched as the toxin receded and heard Kane stir. We looked down in amazement when he opened his eyes.

They searched our faces and then focused on Clarke’s mom, “Abby,” he whispered.

Abby let out a cry of joy and sat by Kane. We watched her as her hand trembled as it stroked his face.

I stepped back and away from everyone as I tried to comprehend what had just happened.

Clarke saw me back up and quickly came over to me, “Are you okay?”

“I, I don’t know,” I said dumbfounded. “I don’t even feel a drain on my power. It’s like I was just a conduit or something.”

“Has this ever happened before?”

“No! Never! What the fuck?!”

“Hey, calm down, Nyx,” she said as she hugged me.

Confusion seemed to engulf me and I closed my eyes and focused on Clarke holding me. Soothing me. I calmed and took some deep breaths.

“Better,” she asked as she felt me calm down.

“A bit,” I said. “It just doesn’t make any sense. None. I don’t know what just happened.”

“What made you change your mind and want to try again?”

“I just had this niggling feeling that I needed to try again and something pushed me towards your leaders.”

“Do you have that feeling anymore?”

I looked into myself and did indeed feel like I needed to do it again.

“Yes,” I whispered.

She looked over at the bed and called out, “Jackson, can you take us to Jaha.”

“Um, sure,” he said and started walking.

Clarke held onto me as we walked over to another bed. Jackson set up the scanner and with an even deeper breath, I touched the man’s hand. There was that sudden burst of power and then it receded. I nearly collapsed and Clarke quickly sat me in a chair. I leaned down with my head between my legs and fought off the sudden dizzy spell.

Clarke kneeled down beside me and asked, “Are you okay? This didn’t happen before.”

“I got real dizzy when it receded this time. I don’t think I can do it again. Three shots, that’s all I had.”

“Why do you think it happened?”

“Something want’s your leaders up and running again. Quickly.”

“Maybe, you should lie down?”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right,” I looked up at Jackson and said, “Did Kane or Jaha show any powers?”

“Kane did,” Jackson said. “He’s a werewolf and a wind mage.”

“And Jaha?”

“Human.”

“Holy shit,” I said as it suddenly came all together. “A council made up of the three types of groups here in this camp.”

“The perfect trio of leaders,” Clarke whispered.

“Uh-huh.”

“The solution we’ve been looking for, but why?”

“Mother Earth provided,” I whispered.

“What?”

“Mother Earth used me as a conduit to heal your three leaders, giving them the powers that are needed to helping solve this situation.”

“Can she do that?”

“She saved my life when I tried to kill myself. She helped Gaia speak to the pack members who were prisoners and your pack. She may have done even more, but I’m not sure.”

“What else could she have done?”

“I think she saved my life twice more. I nearly died when I was at the Ice Pack compound that I was contracted to destroy by the very same werewolf that got me to kill my people. Then I was attacked the first day I arrived here. The healer was surprised that I was still alive and semiconscious because I had already lost a lot of blood. This can’t all be a coincidence, can it?”

We heard someone come up and I looked up to see Abby approaching.

“Nyx, are you alright,” she asked.

“Heh, I think alright is a subjective word, right now,” I said as I continued to work through my dizziness. “I think I’ve just been subjected to being chosen by Mother Earth.”

“Mother Earth?”

I moaned as a wave of dizziness swept over me and Clarke explained, “Mother Earth is revered by the people. Apex, they call themselves, ourselves, worship her and She is a very active Goddess. Nyx believes the Mother Earth is using her for a greater purpose. It’s why the three of you received the rapid healing.”

“Mother Earth is real? I thought she was just a myth. A story to explain how the earth formed.”

“She’s real,” I said as the wave passed. “As real as wereanimals and mages. We were all once considered myth. Now, we’re the reality and in charge of the world.”

“Wereanimals? Mages?”

“Mom, we’ll explain later, I’ve got to get Nyx to a bed,” Clarke said as she helped me stand up.

I leaned heavy against her, sweating and now fighting nausea.

“Of course, I’m sorry.”

“Jackson should remove them to a separate area,” I said weakly.

“I’ll tell him. Do you want to lay down here or in your room?”

“I don’t think I can make it to my room.”

“Okay, let’s get you to a bed then.”

Chapter Text

I got Nyx into a bed in a room by herself and gave her something to help with the nausea along with something to help her sleep. I watched her for a bit, making sure that she wasn’t about to vomit or fall out of the bed. When I was satisfied, I headed back to the ward.

I spotted Jackson and walked over to him, “Jackson, I think it would be best if we moved them to a separate area. That way we can keep a closer eye on them and make sure that their recovery is on par with my mother’s.”

He nodded, “I’ll have the staff set it up and move them.”

“Thank you,” I said and walked over to where mom was sitting by Kane.

“Did you get Nyx settled, honey,” Abby asked as I came up to her.

“Yes. I gave her something for the nausea and to help her sleep,” I replied as I took a seat on a nearby stool. “How’s Kane?”

“Kane is doing okay,” he replied weakly.

“Can you explain what’s going on, Clarke,” mom asked.

“It should really wait until Jaha can hear this, but I can answer a little bit. Nyx believes something happened to us, roughly 25 years ago. We’re assuming that radiation had leaked in and created mutations like it had 25 years after the apocalypse. The radiation created a new species, Apex, after the term apex predators. The new species was split in half. Wereanimals and mages. Humans have slowly been dying off since then. There aren’t that many left. That is until we came out of the bunker.”

“So, what was myth is no longer myth?”

“Right. Blew our minds when we found out about it. We realized that we were different when Octavia, Bellamy, and I traveled to Old Towne looking for help. Octavia and I were treated a lot more respectfully then Bellamy. They treated him like he was below dirt. One night, we were visited by two wolves, a large black wolf with black eyes and a pure white wolf that was smaller than the black one. Anyway, something happened and the prisoners started crying, so did Octavia, Miller, Harper, and Monroe. When they calmed down enough, they told us that the white one was a priestess of Mother Earth. Shortly after, Jasper called us down to the morgue and what we had thought was a wolf was actually a werewolf. We had accidentally killed a girl.”

“Was that the first time you knew you were really different?”

“Actually, no. When the wolf was brought down here to see if she would live through the shock treatment, the doctors did a complete body work up. Bones, nervous system, brain scan, MRI. They found anomalies. Her bones looked like they had been broken, healed, and then broken again, like her bone structure changed on a regular basis. Then came the brain scan. It showed two areas of the brain that aren’t usually active except in extremely rare cases before the apocalypse. One area of the brain is where it was theorized that developed telepathy. Another area was theorized to hold power, supernatural abilities. Both those areas showed activity. The area that showed power looked like it was building something and then crumbling only to do it again. It was amazing to watch.”

“So, what happened next?”

“Well, Octavia felt real bad about what had happened so she came down to keep the wolf company and was the one who was told about the anomalies. Bellamy and I came down to check on the wolf and talk about the new situation. Whenever Bellamy would talk, she would growl. But when Octavia told her to stop and explained that he was her brother, she settled down and stopped growling. That was when we realized that the way Bellamy was treated wasn’t just an isolated incident.

The next day we wanted to see if this was an isolated incident or if there was something more to theses people. Octavia convinced one of the prisoners to let us do a brain scan on him and another, healthier wolf. To show that the scan was harmless, Octavia went first. Her scan showed the same active areas as the dead wolf. Then the wolf and man showed them as well. So, we knew that whatever they were, Octavia was as well. Then the eight of us decided to have our brains scanned and four of us discovered that they had the telepathy and powers. The other four showed only powers. Bellamy didn’t show anything. While we were discussing what it meant, Miller all of a sudden shot fire out of his hand and lit a banner on fire and Octavia immediately doused it with water. The little images that we saw in that area indicated what our powers were. Monty and Raven are techno mages, Miller is a fire mage, Octavia is a water mage, Jasper is an earth mage, Harper is an air mage, and Monroe is a weak earth mage. Bellamy freaked out and had a mental breakdown and we had to hold him in the psych ward until he got better.”

“And when did you discover that some of you were werewolves?”

“That was because of Nyx. She visited us and explained that during the Harvest Moon, the prisoners and our people would be forced to shift into wolves. She advised us to remove all the shock collars and keep the humans away for the four hours they would be forced to run. You see, because of the full moon being so close to the Fall Equinox, werewolves build up a ton of energy to the point that they literally feel like their skin is crawling with thousands of ants. They can relieve some of it by shifting and running around a few hours, tranq’ing themselves or as Octavia discovered cuddling with one another. Weird, I know. It occurred to us that we might not be the only ones, so Monty and Raven built a brain scanner that our people walked through and it would beep whenever it came across the anomalies. We separated the werewolves and mages. Then did what Nyx advised. They ran the perimeter for four hours and found out that Octavia is the pack leader of our pack with Miller as her Second.”

“That’s how you discovered you were Apex.”

I nodded, “There are 13 werewolves, well 14 with Kane and now 10 mages including you.”

“So, why did Kane and I become Apex?”

“The neurotoxin that was launched into the camp is supposed to inhibit those parts of the brains on an Apex. Instead, it attacked those parts in those over the age of 30 and spread throughout the brain which led to the deaths. When Nyx finished the cure, she ran a computer simulation and then for some unknown reason ran it past the cure. She discovered that there was a 60-85% chance that the adults would become Apex. You’re the first two to become Apex, but now I’m thinking that it might not be a coincidence. Mother Earth decided that the three of you should represent the three groups that now live within Raven’s shield.”

“And the land we’re on?”

“Is ours by rights of occupation, but Manassas lies in the middle of the Forest Pack Territory. Their leader is called de Pakstoka, the Wolf. As far as I know, everyone that lives in the territory is a werewolf. Each wereanimal has their own territory. The mages tend to live closer to the coast.”

“So, what is Nyx’s role in all of this?”

“Nyx is de Pakstoka’s Second. She’s the liaison. Her and her sister are here to help train the werewolves and teach us how to use our powers. On top of that she’s here to explain exactly what happened during the time we were in the bunker. The goal is to figure out what to do about the humans.”

“And the humans are the lowest on the totem pole.”

“Yes, and having this many humans in one place and in the middle of someone’s territory is dangerous.”

“We ended up creating a really complicated situation, didn’t we?”

I smiled wanly, “Unfortunately, yes.”

Jackson came up with a few staff members and it was time for them to move Kane and mom to their new rooms. I said good night and went back to Nyx’s room. I pulled up a chair and made myself as comfortable as I could, so that I could keep an eye on her.

A while later, there was a knock on the door and Octavia came in, carrying a food tray.

“Jackson told me what happened,” she said as she laid the tray on a table. “How’s she doing?”

“She’s sleeping peacefully. She really gave me a scare when she collapsed after healing Jaha,” I said as I lifted the cover from the food.

“I bet. Bellamy is going to spend another night here for observation. I’ve already let Sephy know what happened and that Nyx is down here.”

“Thank you, I was wondering if she was beginning to worry when she hadn’t seen or heard from her.”

“She was, she got really worried when she couldn’t reach out telepathically.”

“Is she coming down here?”

Octavia shook her head and grinned, “No, she knows you’re down here with her. Telepathy is so cool sometimes. I can have two conversations at the same time.”

I grinned back and replied, “You would think something like that is cool.”

“Yeah, well, I’m gonna head back to the compound. It’s dinner time and they are serious about not eating until I get there. It’s kinda annoying.”

“They’ll probably get out of that habit soon enough, especially once you start training.”

“Ugh, don’t remind me. Sephy has already said that just because Nyx is down does not mean that we can put off training for another day.”

I laughed, “Then you better go, get something to eat, and call it an early night. And thank you for the food.”

“No problem. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She left, quietly closing the door behind her and I ate my dinner.

I must have fallen asleep sometime later, because I woke up to find myself in the hospital bed with Nyx’s arm around me.

“What the…” I said when I realized where I was.

“I woke up and saw how uncomfortable you looked, so I brought you up here,” Nyx said sleepily behind me.

“Oh. How’re you feeling?”

“Better. Still sleepy. I’m going back to sleep. Don’t leave me, please.”

“I won’t,” I said and she pulled me in closer and we both fell back asleep.

 

We fully awoke when our internal clocks told us it was morning. I carefully got out of bed and stretched while Nyx watched me.

“God, you are beautiful,” she said, making me blush.

“Oh hush,” I said as I walked back over and gave her a kiss. “Rested?”

“Mm-hm.”

“Good. We should probably shower and change.”

She sighed dramatically, but got up and said, “Fine. You’ve been wearing those clothes for two days anyways.”

I laughed and tugged her out of the room. I lead her to my room in the bunker and we kissed before I went in to shower.

When I emerged, I went to check on mom. I found her speaking animatedly with Kane and Jaha.

“Well, I’m relieved to see you all up and nearly about again,” I said as I gave Mom a hug.

“We are, too,” Kane replied. “Is your friend Nyx, okay?”

“She is,” I replied. “She’s back at the compound cleaning up. It took a lot more out of her then we thought.”

“Compound,” Jaha asked.

“Yes, it’s really the Manassas Pack House, but it’s just easier to say compound. It’s where the pack lives.”

“I see,” he said thoughtfully. “How are our people doing?”

“They’re doing as well as you would expect. We still don’t travel outside the shield. de Pakstoka was kind enough to send fresh meat and produce yesterday when Nyx arrived to set up the compound. Which is great since it’s past harvest season and we were only able to get last minute crops going. We still don’t have enough food to last us through the winter, though.”

“Do you think de Pakstoka will be willing to help us out in that regards,” Kane asked.

“Possibly,” I said thinking. “I’d have to speak with Nyx about it.”

“Why is that,” Jaha asked.

“She’s de Pakstoka’s Second,” I explained. “Um, the next person in charge. She typically has a lot of duties when she’s in the capital. Basically, she’s the one that makes sure that the day to day operations run smoothly so that de Pakstoka can focus on more important matters.”

“If she’s that important, why is she here?”

“She’s the liaison between us and the Forest Pack. She’s here to help train our pack and the mages in how to use our powers. Most importantly she’s here to speak with the three of you. Explain what has happened in the last 83 years and how the world works now. It’s nothing like the way it was.”

“I want to speak with this Nyx,” Jaha demanded.

I didn’t take to kindly to his tone, but answered nonetheless, “You will. Like I just said, she wants to explain what’s happened and what’s going on. You’re still recovering, Jaha. Give us time to set up a Council meeting, so that we’re all informed, not just you. You’re no longer in charge here, Jaha.”

“How dare you,” he said angrily. “This Council is in charge here, girl. You and your council are no longer needed.”

“Jaha…,” Kane said, warning him.

Angrily, I bit out, “My council is in charge, Jaha. Humans no longer run things. Mages and Weres do. It would be in your best interest to learn that and accept it.”

“I will do no such thing!”

“Then you will find yourself forcibly removed and if you threaten any Apex or harm any of us, you will wish that you’d died from the neurotoxin,” Nyx said, her voice deadly, from the doorway.

I spun around as Nyx walked with purpose into the room, confident in her authority as she looked menacingly at Jaha.

“You have no authority…”

“I have all of the authority. You are in my territory and a guest here. Do not test my patience.”

“Now, see here,” he said as he started to get out of his bed, but made it no further before he was slammed against the wall and held there as Nyx walked up towards him.

His eyes widened in fear as Mom and Kane looked on in shock at her display of power. I stood there mesmerized watching her, realizing why she commanded so much respect from her pack members.

“The time of humans has passed,” she said deadly quiet. “If you wish for the others in this camp to continue to flourish and live, I suggest that you wrap your tiny, little mind around that fact. I will not hesitate to kill every last one of you if I get a hint that the Manassas Apex are in trouble from humans. This is my only warning. Take heed.”

He suddenly dropped and cowered against the wall.

She looked at me, her face softening a little and said, “Clarke, if this man is the leader of the humans, I am afraid that I have no choice but to bring several squads to ensure the safety of your people.”

“What will happen to the humans,” Kane asked.

She sighed, “They will be quarantined to the bunker under heavy guard.”

“And Jaha?”

“Will be remanded into custody. Harper and Monroe will be here shortly to take him to his cell where he will be shackled and gagged.”

“Is this really necessary,” Abby asked.

“Do you wish to make sure the rest of you recover from the neurotoxin?”

“Yes, but you wouldn’t…”

“I would not, but he may certainly try.”

“Nyx, this isn’t what we wanted,” I said quietly as I came to stand by her and looked down at Jaha still cowering.

“I know, but he has just proven why we are leery of your humans. If this man is the example of your humans and after they thought it was funny to shock Jessamine in wolf form, then they are a threat and will be treated as such until I can be convinced and proven otherwise,” she said gently.

“It’s been less then an hour and our goal is already threatened. Why did Mother Earth allow this man to be saved?”

“Because we needed a human to understand just what kind of world we live in. He has just gotten a taste of the new reality. It’s up to him to realize that there is a reason why humans are now a subspecies.”

There was a knock at the door and I turned to see Octavia, Nate, Harper and Monroe enter.

“Nyx,” Octavia said.

Without taking her eyes off of Jaha, she replied, “This human here is a threat to your pack and the mages. He is to be taken into custody, shackled and gagged. He will only come out, under guard, to attend our council meetings. Harper and Monroe will stand guard over his cell. Once that is done, convene a council meeting. We now have much to discuss.”

“You heard her,” Octavia said.

Harper and Monroe edged around us and hauled Jaha to his feet. Nyx stepped up to them and holding out her hand over his, created shackles for his wrists and his ankles and then stepped out of the way. We watched dispassionately as he was taken away.

“I’ll go convene the council,” Nate said and took off.

“What just happened,” Octavia asked.

“I came in here to check on how they were recovering,” I started. “Jaha started demanding to speak with Nyx. I told him that he would have his chance. He didn’t take to kindly being informed that he was no longer in charge. Nyx came in as he started to threaten me.”

“What happens now?”

“I will explain at the meeting,” Nyx said and turning to mom and Kane, “I know that you have barely recovered and you have just been witness to something you never expected to see. I am sorry for that, but the two of you will also be attending.”

Kane nodded numbly and Mom looked at me in fear.

“Clarke,” Nyx said to me, “why don’t you help them get ready?”

“Sure,” I said as I looked at her.

“Thank you,” she said and left, Octavia following her out the door.

Mom sat on the bed suddenly and whispered, “Dear god, what have we just walked into?”

I sat on the bed next to her and gave her a hug and said, “A completely alien world, Mom. Nyx did what she had to do. Her job is to make sure we stay safe from the humans.”

“Just how powerful is Nyx,” Kane asked.

I looked up at him and said, “I have no idea. But I now understand why she is Second. This is the first time I have ever seen her like this, displaying her authority and power.”

“Is she really going to bring soldiers here?”

“She already has,” I said quietly. “Come on, we’d better get the two of you ready for the council meeting.”

Chapter Text

I paced the council room as I waited for everyone to arrive. I hated what I just did. This is not how I envisioned this going down. I wanted to keep this peaceful. I wanted to leave the humans alone as we came to an understanding, but one man changed all of it. I was no longer confident that this would end peacefully.

Lexa, did I do the right thing?

Yes. As unfortunate as it is.

I hate this.

I know you do, sweetheart. You’ve never enjoyed this aspect of your duties. Neither do I. But we’ll get through this, just like always. I have faith in you. In us.

I bowed my head as I tried to take strength from her words, but I still felt weak.

I’m afraid. I’m afraid that I’ll fail you again.

What happened wasn’t because you failed. Or because you’re weak, Nyx. We were both manipulated. This isn’t about manipulation. This is about keeping our people safe. We do what we have to in order to keep our people safe.

That’s what I thought I was doing that night. Keeping our people safe.

Trust in Mother Earth, Nyx. Trust in yourself. This is just one obstacle. Not the end of the road.

You’re right. Thank you.

You’re welcome, love. I’m always here for you.

We broke contact and I looked up to find Sephy coming in the door. She came up to me and hugged me tight. I took comfort in the physical contact and gathered more strength from her.

“You are doing the right thing, Nyx,” she said as she looked up at me.

I crooked a smile, “That’s just what Lexa said.”

“Mother says the same.”

“Then it must be so,” I said with a smile.

“So, do I get the inside scoop?”

“No. Are the mages and pack secure in the compound?”

“Yes. Locked up tight and frightened.”

I frowned, “An unfortunate side effect, but it’s for their own safety.”

“I understand that, but they don’t.”

“They will soon enough.”

We watched silently as everyone started trickling in. Clarke with Kane and Abby came in last and shut the door behind them. Sephy went up and locked the ward and then took a seat. I walked and stood behind my own chair. They quieted down and looked at me expectantly.

“Just a little while ago there was an incident that has caused me to reevaluate the situation here. As you know, Abby, Kane, and Jaha were rushed through recovery. Abby and Kane each developed powers. Jaha did not. This was Mother Earth’s answer to coming up with a solution to get the three groups of people here in Manassas. The mages, which Abby represents, the pack, which Kane represents, and the humans, which Jaha represents. This morning Clarke went to see how they were doing and through the course of a conversation, Jaha did not take too kindly being told that what was his council no longer mattered. That he was no longer in charge. I walked into the room to find Jaha being defiant to Clarke’s authority as leader of this council. I made a judgement call and Jaha now resides in a cell. Because of the threat that he now represents and the accidental death of Jessamine Valdez at the hands of humans, I have had no choice but to order several squads to take over this camp and remove the humans to the bunker until such time as we can decide what to do with them.”

“You can’t just make a decision like that because of two isolated incidents,” Bellamy said. “No one else knows that you even exist.”

“I understand that, Bellamy, but I cannot afford that risk. Just like your people captured mine and held onto them because you feared retaliation if you let them go. de Pakstoka wanted to end that situation peacefully, so we did not retaliate. Can you assure me that this will not happen if your people found out about us? Or that they won’t try to kill us because we are vastly different from them because we have powers that could kill them if we put our minds to it? It is a long standing tradition in our history to either destroy what is different or try to oppress those that are different. Humans greatly outnumber us 4:1.”

He shook his head and replied, “No, I cannot make those assurances.”

“I would like to propose something since it is obvious from my brief encounter with him, that Jaha be removed from the old council permanently and have Bellamy take his place. Representing the humans for both councils.”

“Why would you propose such an idea?”

“Because you are more open to listening and seem willing to work on coming up with a solution. Am I wrong in believing this?”

“I just want our people to stay safe. Everyone.”

“Then I second the proposal,” Monty voiced.

“All in favor,” Clarke said.

It was a unanimous vote of “ayes.”

“Do you accept, Bellamy,” I asked.

“It looks like the decision has been made for me,” he said, surprised by everyone’s vote of confidence.

I smiled at him and replied, “We always have a choice, Bellamy. It’s what we do with those choices that matter.”

“Then, I accept.”

I took a seat while everyone pounded on the table until I called for quiet.

“Since we’re all here, we might as well talk about what happened on the surface after the apocalypse. Sephy, did you by chance bring the projector?”

She grinned, “I figured you might want to start.”

She tossed the projector onto the middle of the table and turned it on. It showed one of the last news videos of the apocalypse as it was happening.

“83 years ago, our world ended. It destroyed most of the world, killing everything that was caught out in the open. Humans hid in bunkers across the globe and waited it out. We estimate that after only 20 years, the earth was already beginning to heal, or at least, the East Coast of the United States did. Five years later, humans were back on the ground and beginning to rebuild society. What they didn’t know at the time was that a new species had also emerged. The Apex. As time moved along, more and more Apex were born and the humans began dying off. We don’t have a concrete number as to how many are left. Apex consider humans a subspecies. We recognize that we came from humans, but no longer associate ourselves with them. Because they are a subspecies, they are looked upon as lower than dirt and do not deserve any kind of respect or recognition. Bellamy can attest to our treatment of them.”

Sephy took up the thread and said, “Once Apex asserted control over the humans, it was pretty much game over for them. What Nyx has not reminded you is that the Apex are made up of two different species. Wereanimals and Mages. Along the East Coast, the animals we shift into are based on regions. To the north of us, lies Ice Pack made up of northern black bears. To the west, black bears; southwest are the felines, bobcats, panthers, and mountain lions; to the far west are the coyotes, directly south of us are the smaller predators like the foxes, or kitsune. To the east of us lies the area that is mostly occupied by the mages.”

“Each pack, as they are referred to loosely, are lead by one head pack with smaller packs near the borders to protect them,” I spoke up. “Because there are so many different groups, the Coalition was created. The governing force that watches over all the territories. They are made up of some of the strongest weres and mages. They have emissaries, ambassadors, councils that all report to the leaders of the Coalition. They are simply referred to as the Coalition. They are known to be tyrannical and dictators. Every pack tries to avoid bringing them within their boundaries, because of the simple fact that when they get involved, it’s usually bad for the packs. That’s why we are trying very hard to keep this within our borders.”

“So, what exactly is it that we are trying to find a solution to,” Kane asked.

“Pure and simple; the humans,” I answered. “Since the humans began dying off there hasn’t been this many humans in one place in over 50 years. We simply do not know how the Coalition will react. The absolutely worst thing that could happen is to call for genocide and kill all the humans here. The only protection that can be offered to the humans would be to own them as slaves. Not ideal for the humans, but it would keep them alive. Having such a large concentration of humans within our borders is dangerous for us. We could be seen as either a sanctuary for humans and get flooded by the ones remaining outside our territory. We could be seen as amassing a human army. None of this is good for the pack. As of right now, we recognize Octavia’s pack having ownership of Manassas, the humans belong to her pack.”

“There’s no way in hell that I’m okay with owning over a 100 humans,” Octavia spoke.

I smiled, “Neither are we. Your pack is too small and too new. You have no infrastructure to even begin being able to control or handle that many humans. Not to mention, no one likes to be owned.”

“So, our biggest obstacle is to get our people, the humans, to understand that 1) they no longer hold any merit in how the world is run and 2) to accept the leadership of the Apex,” Kane said thinking.

“And 3) just because they outnumber the pack and mages here, they cannot force us to give them control. If they do that, they are inciting a war within our borders. If they incite a war, the Coalition will get involved.”

“And all the humans will die regardless,” Bellamy said.

“Yes. The cold, hard truth, Bellamy, is that if they try and fight us, we will very easily kill every last one of them regardless if they are willing to accept the pack’s leadership or not. I don’t think anyone here is willing to use their powers in that way.”

“How long will we have to keep the humans in the bunker?”

“That’s up to this council to decide. Winter is nearly here and you just don’t have the food supplies needed to feed that many people. I can train the earth mages you have here now to accelerate the growth of crops, but you still have to contend with getting fresh protein and the pack needs fresh meat in their diet.”

“Which means work details set up to farm,” Kane said. “I take it the pack will be able to hunt for the meat?”

“Yes. Once my men are in place, the pack can start hunting. The surrounding packs can probably provide some meat, but the majority will have to come from the pack themselves.”

“How long until the rest of the adults will recover from the neurotoxin completely,” Abby asked.

“Anywhere between one to two months depending on how far along the neurotoxin had spread.”

“And we don’t know who will be Apex or human?”

“No. There’s no way to test for that.”

“When will your men be here,” Clarke asked.

“By morning. I can tell you that it is going to be ugly. Many of the humans will be beaten and bruised and angry at what is going on. The men will know not to use their powers, but I cannot guarantee that there won’t be any slip ups.”

 

We spent the rest of the day until dinner time hashing out the details. No one left the council meeting happy, but they all agreed that it had to be done. All of us headed to the compound, but I followed at a slower pace as I continued to run the plan over and over in my head, looking for possibilities of trouble or if there was a less harmful way of getting things done.

“You’re going to walk into something, if you keep thinking like that,” Clarke said as she came back around a corner.

I looked up at her and smiled wanly, “It’d serve me right if I did. I figured you’d already be inside with your Mom.”

“Kane’s with her,” she replied as she walked in step with me. “How’re you doing with all of this?”

I looked at her, “I’m not liking it. I feel like the bad guy, locking people up because one man threatened us. You know, I should be asking you that question. I know you never expected anything like this.”

She shook her head, “No, I didn’t. This is what we feared would happen after we took your men. It’s why Raven built the shield. Now, I have to lock up my own people.”

I smirked, “Neither one of us asked for this and yet here we are.”

“Here we are. How are we going to convince a 100 people that we are doing this for their own good?”

“I don’t know. This is absolutely new territory. I’m making this up as we go along.”

“You know, you’re not the only one in this. All of us are.”

“True. There’s just so much riding on this. A 100 lives hang in the balance.”

“With winter coming, we don’t have a lot of time,” she said quietly.

“No, we don’t,” I replied. “This sucks.”

She laughed, “It most certainly does. We’ll figure it out.”

We had neared the gate and I stopped us in the shadow of the wall and pulling her close to me, I said, “Thank you for being understanding about all of this.”

“You are what you are, Nyx. I’ve learned that you think long and hard before you make decisions like this. I know that your heart lies heavy when you have to put lives at risk. Even if it’s the human’s lives that are at risk. You’re a good woman.”

I leaned down and kissed her sweetly and took our moment in the shadows hidden from the light. No one was really surprised to see us come in late, except for the new additions to our table. I saw Abby give Clarke a look, but didn’t say anything. Tonight was a somber affair. Octavia had already explained to the pack and the mages what was happening which was a big moment for her. Bellamy kept looking at me as if he seemed to be trying to figure something out, but I ignored him. Sephy and Miller were having a silent conversation as Abby spoke with Jackson and Kane just took everything in.

After dinner had been cleared away, everyone called it an early night and went to their rooms. I watched as Sephy went off with Octavia and Nate, Abby took Clarke to the side, and both Kane and Bellamy went off and did their own thing. I poured myself some whiskey and wandered into the back area and watched as the moon rose.

“Ms. Allistar,” a voice called from behind me.

I turned my head and saw Kane approaching me and I said, “Nyx is fine, Kane.”

“Then please call me Marcus,” he said as he came to stand by me.

“Very well, Marcus. What can I do for you?”

“That display you put on early, when you stopped Jaha. What exactly was that?”

“Telekinesis. Being able to move things with your mind.”

“I see. The other power you used, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“I’m a metal mage. I’m also a fire mage, earth mage and a healer.”

“Does everyone have as many powers as you do?”

I chuckled, “No. I’m the only one that does. What makes me even more rarer is that all of my powers are strong, including my telepathy.”

“Why aren’t you part of the Coalition if you’re this powerful?”

“Quite simply because I’m too dangerous to keep alive if the Coalition ever found out. So, to them, I’m only a fire mage werewolf and I intend to keep it that way.”

“I can understand that. Can I ask you another question?”

“Go ahead.”

“Can you tell me about pack life?”

“Smart question. Packs are families. We each have our role to play and we look after one another. When someone dies, the entire pack mourns the loss. If there is a birth, they rejoice. If someone is sick or injured, they take care of them. And on and on. In a werewolf pack, the leadership is held by two people, Pakstoka and the Second. They’re the ones that make the laws, guidelines, handle punishments, settle disputes. Typical leadership duties. The Second handles the more mundane. The families fall into typically four tiers. The first tiered are made up of the leaders’ families, advisors, council members. Second tiered are your specialists, craftsman. Third and fourth tiered are your grunt workers, the ones that work the fields, patrol the borders, things like that. Usually, it’s because they have the weaker powers. Though third tiered get the better choice of jobs than fourth tiered.”

“How is the leadership chosen in the packs?”

“In the head pack, de Pakstoka and Second are hereditary. The Devereuxs and Allistars. It’s been that way since the pack was first formed. The leaders in the other packs all use different ways to be chosen. Election, survival of the fittest, chosen successor, and hereditary.”

“And my pack, I guess you’d call it?”

I nodded, “The Manassas Pack. This is a new pack, so the infrastructure hasn’t been built yet. It’s up to Octavia and Miller to figure out the laws, guidelines, etc. and how they want to pass on the leadership.”

“Where do I fall in this pack?”

“I’d say that based on what comes off of you, you’re role is directly under Miller.”

“What comes off me?”

“Tell me something, when you approached me, what was your gut reaction?”

“That I needed to be respectful and mindful of what I did or said. That you’re dangerous and not to be trifled with.”

“And when you neared Octavia?”

“That she was to obeyed, respected, feared, and some other things that I’m not sure how to express.”

“Your life is hers. You have enough clout that if she gets angry or something along those lines you’re not going to completely cower and offer your throat to her, like most of the pack. That’s how you know who the leaders are. We give off an aura of dominance.”

“You give more than an aura of dominance, Nyx. You give off power, but it’s like halved,” Kane said in bewilderment.

I grinned toothily, “That is because I am one half of a whole, Marcus. The other half of the power is de Pakstoka, Lexa Devereux. It’s why we are the head of the Forest Pack.”

“How do we use our powers?”

“It’s a matter of will and intention. The power comes from inside you. It’s not a bottomless pit, so you have to know your limitations. You’re a wind mage, so it’s a bit harder to notice out here when you use it. You think about what you want to do then place your will behind it and there it is.”

“Is there…,”

“There you are,” Clarke interrupted as she came through the doors. “I’ve been looking for you.”

I smiled automatically as she walked up. She slid an arm around me and kissed me rather forcefully, making me frown.

“Is everything okay,” I asked her.

“Couldn’t be better,” she said as she looked at Kane. “Mom’s looking for you.”

He coughed and then said, “Then I’d better go see what she needs. Thank you for answering my questions, Nyx. It was very knowledgeable.”

“Your welcome,” I said and watched him walk away. When he was out of ear shot, I turned to Clarke and said, “Okay, what the hell was that about, Clarke?”

“Can’t I give you a kiss,” she asked sweetly, tracing the curve of my shoulder.

I stepped back from her and said, “You know you can, but you just forcibly kissed me.”

Her body completely deflated and she said, “I got cornered by mom and then by Bellamy. They both noticed that you and I were quite comfortable with one another.”

“Okay, so what?”

“Mom took me aside and started asking about us. How did we meet, how long have we been seeing one another, is it serious, was I sure it was a good idea to get involved with you. You know typical mother daughter dating questions. And I was okay with answering those, because you know, parents worry.”

“Then,” I prompted.

“Bellamy cornered me soon after. Really giving me the third degree about you. Reminding me that you sleep around. That I barely know you. That you’ve shown yourself to be very dangerous. You’re a werewolf, I’m a mage. He made it sound like I didn’t know any better. That I was just setting myself up to either get my heart broken or killed.”

“So, you got upset.”

She nodded, “Yeah, I got upset. And I guess I wanted to show them.”

“By forcing yourself on me? That’s kind of messed up, Clarke. I’m not someone you can play those kinds of games with.”

“I know and I’m sorry. I just, I don’t know,” she said and started crying.

I sighed and gathered her in my arms. I knew she didn’t mean the implication of what she did, but I wasn’t happy about it.

“Clarke, listen to me. You know I sleep around. It’s my nature, but the one thing I never do is force myself on anyone. Never. I don’t tolerate it when someone tries to do it to me. If you try this again, you’ll know what it’s like to receive a cold shoulder from me. Do you understand?”

She nodded and got herself under control, “I think the day has just gotten to me and I’m not thinking straight. I’d forgotten that Bellamy tends to act like that.”

“Overprotective?”

“Mm-hm. I’m sorry, Nyx. I really am. I shouldn’t have treated you like that.”

“You’re forgiven. Why don’t we go to bed. It’s late and tomorrow is going to be a bitch,” I said as I led her inside.

 

Breakfast was a mini planning session as we went over what was going to happen this morning. Clarke would call for a general assembly in front of the Town Hall where the humans would gather. Sephy and I would take command of the towers on either side of the gate, while Octavia and Miller stood at the foot of the gate keeping the guards away. Raven would drop the shield when the transports neared. The transports would come in and head straight to Town Hall where my men would disembark and hold the humans there until I arrived. After a brief explanation, they’d be escorted down into the bunker and placed under lock and key. The rest of the pack and mages would stay inside the compound.

That was the plan. Now we waited for the execution. The four of us headed into the garage and we started pulling out armor and weapons. We helped Octavia and Miller put on the armor and gave a quick run down on how to use the rifles. When I got word that they were thirty minutes out, I had Clarke sound for the General Assembly. We left, locking the ward, and headed to the gates.

Sephy and Miller took the left side as Octavia and I took the right. I ran up the stairs, taking two at the time. There were two humans standing guard and looked up at me in surprise when I topped the stairs.

“It’s time for you to leave,” I said as I pointed my rifle at them. “Leave your weapons.”

The held up their hands and slid their weapons to the ground. I grabbed the shackles I had on me and had them put them on. When I was sure that they were secure, I nudged them to the edge of the stairwell.

“Move. Now,” I said coldly.

They started down the stairs and I watched as they made their way.

Two on your way, O.

Octavia looked up and watched as they descended.

Have them.

I looked over at Sephy, Good?

Clear.

Miller?

In hand.

Take them to the Town Hall.

Copy that.

I watched as Octavia and Miller escorted the guards to the Town Hall to join the rest of the humans. When I couldn’t see them, I turned and faced the countryside.

Four down, 96 to go, Sephy said.

Do you remember how may guards they have patrolling the wall?

10.

I radioed Raven and said, “Gate’s secured.”

“Roger that,” she replied. “Shield is a go to come down on your word.”

“Copy.”

Stokripa, we’re ten minutes out. Is the gate secure, a voice asked.

Gate’s secure.

Roger that, Stokripa.

Five minutes later, I saw the first truck coming over the ridge.

“Raven, first truck is on the ridge.”

“Copy that, two minutes and counting until the shield is down.”

Two minutes until shield is down, I passed down to who was ever in the lead.

Copy that, Stokripa. Orders?

Head straight to the Town Hall. Circle the trucks around the humans and disembark. Holding pattern until I get there. I need 20 from the last truck to get out at the gate, 10 to either side to bring in guards.

Copy that.

When they crested the last ridge, I opened the gates and the shield came down. Sephy and I watched as they entered slowly and made their way down the main road. The last slowed down long enough for twenty men to jump down and spread out along the perimeter. I closed the gate and we headed to the Town Hall.

When we were a block away, we could hear the crowd yelling and trying to break free from my men. Glancing at the stairs leading up to the building, the council stood by watching. We hurried our steps and skirted around the trucks. The lead truck had stopped in front of the stairs and I jumped easily up onto it’s hood. I reached into the cab and grabbed the mic for it’s speaker.

I stood for a moment, looking out at the crowd and then loudly called out through the speaker, “Silence!”

The crowd quieted down, but I could still hear a low murmur of voices.

“By the authority of de Pakstoka of the Forest Pack, you have been found guilty of threatening the safety of the people of the Forest Pack. As such, you are to be taken back into the bunker and placed under house arrest. You will only leave that bunker during your work detail. You will remain in the bunker until de Pakstoka and your council come to terms. You fight, you die. You resist, you die. If you want to remain living, I suggest you go quietly into the bunker.”

The crowd went wild as I signaled the men to start moving them.

Warning shots.

I fired over the heads of the humans as did some of the men. That quickly got them back under control and they began moving towards the bunker. I jumped down when they started entering the bunker itself.

“That went a lot better than I expected,” I said as everyone neared.

“Threat of death and warning shots will do that,” Kane said as he got closer.

“Sometimes you have to play hardball to get things done,” I replied.

“This was more than hardball, Nyx.”

“You’re right, it was. This is about ensuring the safety of our people while trying to get these humans to understand that they are no longer in control.”

“And you expect them to just listen and agree.”

“No, I don’t. I expect them to value their lives more than attempting to take control of Manassas.”

“This is insane.”

“Look, I didn’t want this, but after what they have done because it was funny to them, then to have Jaha immediately demand that he be given control of the council because he won’t tolerate being considered a subspecies. I had no choice. I will always choose the safety of our people over the lives of some humans.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t deal with this now,” Abby said throwing up her arms. “I have to check on them and make sure they’re okay.”

“Fine. If that’s what you want to do, but if you use your powers or go in there without a detail, you are putting your life at extreme risk. Clarke just got you back, don’t do anything stupid.”

She stared at me in shock before she turned away and walked into the bunker.

I looked over at Jackson and saw the indecision on his face and said, “Jackson if you want to help her, go ahead. Just do me a favor and check on the recovering adults.”

He nodded and took off.

About twenty minutes later as we were discussing how to set up various schedules for work details and meal times, a voice called my attention.

“Well, if it isn’t Stokripa,” the voice said. “The prodigal daughter returns from the dead.”

I spun around and took an involuntary step backwards and said, “Lincoln, I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Or see me at all, right,” he said as he stopped a few feet from me. “You did leave me for dead at the border.”

“I didn’t know…”

“You left a lot of dead and dying that day. I should kill you, you know that right? I watched you massacre my entire family. Ripping their throats out and tossing them around like rag dolls.”

Fear coursed through me with with every word he said. This was the first time I’d heard anybody tell me what I did that day. I could only stand there numbly, staring at him.

Sephy stepped in front of me and said, “Leave her alone, Lincoln. I know damn well that Indra told you what really happened. Can you really lay the blame on someone who’s mind was altered to see only enemies killing everyone? She’s paid for what she did. She tried to kill herself because she knew that she deserved to die for what she did. Do you even know how hard it was for her to come back here? The guilt she carries with her. We lost a brother to the Ice Pack. We lost a lot of people to the Ice Pack. She may have been the one killing, but it was only because of the Ice Pack that she did.”

Lincoln looked surprised at her vehemence and said, “I understand that Persephone and I accept that she is not the one to truly be blamed. I’m just telling her that I remember what happened that day.”

“As if she needs those visuals, Lincoln. How dare you come here and speak to her in this way. In front of everyone, laying out the dirty laundry so that everyone can hear about her one moment of weakness.”

He looked around at everyone as they watched this exchange and bowed his head in regret, “I apologize, Stokripa, for speaking without thought. Seeing you brought those memories back ten fold. I humbly ask for your forgiveness.”

I couldn’t find the words to accept his apology or give one of my own, until I felt someone take my hand. I glanced over and saw that it was Clarke. She gave me an encouraging smile and I found my words.

“Ahem, Lincoln,” I said, my voice cracking, “I give my forgiveness. I hope that you can do the same. It breaks my heart knowing that I have caused you such pain. That I caused so much pain to those that lost loved ones that day. I live with that pain every day, Lincoln. I’m just trying to do better this time.”

“Thank you for your forgiveness. I give you the same. What are our orders?”

I closed my eyes briefly and focused on the present and said, “I need a two man detail sent to relieve two of the Manassas Pack who have been guarding a high value prisoner at the jail. Set up a rotation for the perimeter and the bunker. Then find housing for the men. For now, all we need is to keep the prisoners under control and working the fields to prepare for winter.”

He snapped to attention and inclined his head, “Considered it done. May I ask which way to the jail?”

“I’ll show you,” Octavia said.

He inclined his head and they walked away.

“I need some space. I suggest that the rest of you start drawing up schedules for the humans and figure out how to calm them down to get them to cooperate,” I said and headed back to the compound.

Chapter Text

We watched as Nyx strode away, with her head down, towards the compound. I felt torn. I knew that I needed to help with the humans, but at the same time I wanted to run and comfort her. What that man had said was horrible and the look on her face when he spoke, the fear and anguish, it broke my heart.

“You should go after her,” Kane said quietly.

I looked up at him for a moment, nodded, and then took off after her. She was already in the compound’s garage when I caught up with her. I watched as she methodically put the armor and rifle away before I walked in.

“Nyx,” I asked cautiously.

“Now’s not a good time, Clarke,” she replied, refusing to turn around.

“I think now’s the perfect time,” I said as I came up behind her and wrapped my arms around her waist.

She stiffened, but didn’t try to get away. Without releasing her, I walked around until we were eye to eye. She had tears running down her face and that anguish I had seen was even more prominent.

“Oh, baby,” I said and pulled her tight against me.

She broke down and started sobbing as she wrapped her arms around me and laid her head on my shoulder. I let her cry herself out, comforting her. When she was calming down, I led her to the hood of the buggy and we leaned against it.

“I jus-, he ju-,” she tried to say through her sniffling.

“Hey, hey, you don’t have to talk about it, okay,” I said gently. “He shouldn’t have done that. He had no right to. But you can’t let what one man says stop you.”

She nodded, “I know, but…”

“No. There are no but’s, Nyx. He knew that you were here. He knew that you were in charge. He came up to you with the intention of hurting you, even if he apologized for it. I know that you had no control over what you saw that day and you acted the way anyone would have acted. You wanted to save your men and your family. He doesn’t know what you saw. He can’t because it was meant only for you. Nyx, you’re more then that one day. Look at all the good that you did before that day. All the good you’ve done since. We’ve all made mistakes.”

“Not everyone’s mistakes cost the lives of dozens,” she whispered.

“Maybe not, but it was still a mistake. You’ve learned from it. I mean, you may not have realized exactly why you saw what you saw, but think about how you helped people by using the same technique. You told me that you’ve manipulated minds to help people move beyond traumatic events. I think that’s rather cool of you.”

She nodded.

“Look at me, Nyx,” I said gently. She refused, so I took her chin and turned her head to me and said, “I love you, Nyx. Regardless of what’s happened in your past. Lexa, Dani, and Scarlett love you. They know what happened and they haven’t turned away from you. They don’t despise you. Even your own sister doesn’t hate you, nor your mother. Those are the people that matter, not some jerk who only wanted to hurt you.”

She smirked at my name calling and I smiled a bit. I wiped the tears away from her face and leaned in, kissing her gently. Her arms wrapped around me tighter as she deepened the kiss.

She laid her forehead on mine and whispered, “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, love.”

She cleared her throat and said reluctantly, “I guess we should be getting back.”

“We’ve got time. The council can handle the scheduling and Seph can take care of your men if the need arises. Let someone else take the burden for awhile, hmm?”

She nodded and I stood up, pulling her with me and said, “For once, let someone take care of you.”

Taking her into the house and up to the bedroom, I showed her that I didn’t care about what she’d done or why she did it. I just showed her how much I loved her and cared for her.

 

I woke sometime later and automatically reached over to where Nyx should have been, but I encountered empty space. Opening my eyes, I saw that she was only sitting up with her knees to her chest and staring out the windows. I took this moment to study the tattoos on her back. Taking center stage was a triskele done using a Celtic knot and in the center of it was a beautifully detailed head of a wolf. It looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it at the moment. Following her spine was an interwoven braid made up of a vine and fire, wrapped around a chain stopping just above her waist. On her left shoulder blade was an image of a woman with her back towards me, walking through a field of wheat with her hands brushing over the sheaves. On her right, a man stood on a rock, his arms spread wide as water split on either side of him. Her left hip was a phoenix rising above smoldering ashes. Her right was blank, but it was marred by what I could only guess was a wolf bite. Each tattoo was beautifully done with such great detail that they must have taken hours to do.

I felt my hand itch to draw her like this, the exposed vulnerability amidst the tempered power of who she was. She quite simply took my breath away and I could understand why Lexa claimed her. Why women wanted her. Why I wanted and loved her. And then she turned her head and smiled at me and time seemed to stop, to allow me to catch an even more amazing image of her.

She lay back down, stretching her full length as she faced me. Still smiling she gently removed my hair away from my face and like a feather, traced it with her fingers.

“Hey,” she said softly.

“Hey,” I returned with a smile. “What were you thinking about?”

“Oh, this and that. Nothing serious. And I was speaking with Lexa, letting her know how this morning went. Touching base with Seph. They’ve hashed out the schedules and guard rotations. Your mom and Jackson reported that there were only bumps and bruises and a couple of broken limbs.”

“Did you tell her about Lincoln?”

“No. There was no need thanks to you,” she said as she leaned over and kissed me, my mouth parting for her.

The kiss deepened and I rolled us until I was on top. Our bodies demanding one another and rejoiced as we came together.

 

When I woke up this time, I heard her slow beating heart against my ear, her arms holding me loosely, her softness very evident, and the peace she felt in this moment. I wanted to lay like this forever, never losing this moment. Feeling nothing but peace as if everything was alright in the world.

But everything was not all right in this world and our peace shattered as I felt a growl build in her chest. I had barely moved when she shot up and pinned me to the bed, straddling me as her hands wrapped around my throat. Panic struck as I tried to fight her off, but she was too strong. Her eyes were wild as she gave me a feral grin, growls escaping her throat. As her hands tightened around mine, my vision became tinged in black. My voice barely a whisper as I called out her name. Fear pushed my will to live and in a desperate move, I placed my hands against her chest and called my lightning.

She flew across the room and into the wall, crumpling down onto the floor. I rolled off the bed and landing on all fours, I struggled to get air into my lungs as tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t grasp what had just happened. Why had she suddenly snapped and attacked me. Watching her, I got up shakily and hesitantly made my way to our piles of clothes. Searching through them, I finally came across one of the communicators. I quickly backed away from Nyx and hid in a corner.

“Seph,” I croaked around the pain in my throat, “Persephone.”

“Clarke,” she answered, confusion in her throat. “What’s happened?”

“It’s Nyx. Something happened. Get my mom. Hurry, I don’t know how long she’ll stay knocked out.”

“I’m on it,” she said, panic in her voice. “Find someplace to hide and stay quiet. We’re on our way.”

I swallowed making my throat lance with pain as I desperately looked for someplace to hide. I looked behind me and the closet was right there. As quietly as I could, I opened the door and closed it behind me. I felt around me and couldn’t find anything to block the door, so I crawled into a back corner and hid myself under a pile of clothes.

I heard something stir in the bedroom and then the clicking of claws on the hardwood floor. I covered my mouth to try and stifle my breathing. I heard the furniture being moved and crashing against the walls. The glass breaking as something was thrown through them. I felt a scream in my chest, but I swallowed it down. I could hear her sniffing as she came closer to the closet, growls coming from her. I dug myself deeper into the pile as I waited, my heart beating furiously in my chest. I desperately wanted to know why no one was here yet and then I heard the noise I had been dreading, the door slowly opening. I curled myself tighter, squeezing my eyes tight, my breath coming in shallow gasps. She crept closer, sniffing and growling, as I prayed for her to not find me.

The clothes flew off of me suddenly and I screamed in terror as her jaws clamped around my leg. She started dragging me out of the closet and I reached for anything to stop her or pull myself away from her. My hands clamped down on the doorway as I screamed at her to let me go, but she only pulled harder as my fingers began losing their grip.

Just as I lost my grip, the door burst open and Seph rushed in and threw Nyx away from me, ripping my leg open, making me scream. I looked over and saw Nyx trying to move, but Seph was holding her down. Mom rushed in next, ran straight for me and pulled me out of the room.

“Jackson,” Seph yelled. “I can’t hold her down much longer, she’s too strong. You have to put her under, now!”

He ran into the room and I heard a yowl of pain and then silence. Mom had her hand over my leg and was in the process of healing it, when Seph emerged and leaned against the doorframe. When she had caught her breath, she made her way over and kneeled down beside me. She took my head and tilted it to look at my neck.

“Do you know what happened,” she asked, fear and worry in her eyes.

I shook my head because my throat was on fire.

“Here, let me,” Jackson said and Seph got out of the way so that he could heal my throat.

I sighed in relief as the pain in my throat and leg receded. I swallowed experimentally.

“She was asleep and suddenly I could feel a growl in her chest,” I said weakly. “Next thing I know, she had me pinned against the bed with her hands around my throat. I tried to fight her off, but I couldn’t, so I shocked her and threw her across the room. When she woke up, she came after me. Why would she do that?”

“She had a waking nightmare,” mom said as she sat down. “It can happen in soldiers who experience a traumatic event during conflict.”

“She was back at the northern border,” Seph said in horror and then angrily, “It was that bastard, Lincoln. If he hadn’t said anything, this would have never happened.”

“Wait a minute,” mom said, “we don’t know if that was the cause. It could have been something completely unrelated.”

Sephy shook her head, “You didn’t see her face when he told her what she’d done to his family. She actually feared that he was going to kill her. There was so much pain and horror on her face, Abby. It was so bad, that she couldn’t even stay to coordinate everything. That’s why Clarke was here. To help her from doing something stupid.”

One of the men came up the stairs and entered the room. Moments later, he had Nyx cradled in his arms.

“Can we still get into the psych ward,” Sephy asked.

“Yes,” Jackson answered.

“Good,” she said and turned to the man. “Take her there and pump the neurotoxin continuously into the room. It’s the only way to keep her from using her powers.”

He nodded and left.

“What happens if she’s exposed to the toxin for too long,” Abby asked.

“Her powers will remain permanently dormant,” Seph answered sadly. “She’ll be human.”

Octavia appeared with a duffel and said, “I was able to get into your room, Clarke. I’ve brought you some clothes and I’m setting up the bedroom that’s between mine and Nate’s. It’s the safest place I could think of that wasn’t in the bunker.”

“Thank you,” I whispered.

Sephy helped me stand and down the stairs to the room with everyone following us. She guided me to the bed and when I was sitting, everyone left except Mom. She sat down next to me and I turned to her, sobbing. She held and rocked me like she used to when I was little.

I must have cried myself to sleep because I woke up under the covers of the bed. My entire body ached and it was difficult to reach over to the nightstand to turn on the lamp there. Mom had left me something for the pain and a glass of water. I took the medicine and sank back into the bed.

There was a knock on the door and Sephy poked her head through.

“Can I come in,” she asked when she saw that I was awake.

“Sure,” I replied as I sat up and pulled the covers over me.

She came in and sat at the foot of the bed and asked, “How are you?”

“Like my body is just one big bruise,” I said with a weak chuckle.

She nodded, “I’m glad we got there in time. When you called, my heart froze in my chest.”

“I think she would have killed me if you hadn’t gotten there,” I said quietly.

“It would have destroyed her if she had. When she realizes what she almost did, I don’t know what she’ll do. I’m scared for her.”

“So am I. It was like she wasn’t even there, you know. All I saw was rage.”

“I’m sorry that it happened to you, Clarke. What’s messed up is that legally, Lincoln didn’t break any laws so he can’t be punished,” she said as she looked at her knuckles that I now noticed were bruised and bloodied. “So, instead I showed him what it meant to mess with an Allistar.”

I could hear how angry and bitter she was and I didn’t want to press, but I had to know, “How is Nyx?”

“I had to turn off the neurotoxin and pump in sleeping gas. I still can’t reach her. She’s locked in whatever it is she’s created for herself. We’re hoping that when she wakes up, she’ll have enough control to shift back and sane enough not to use her powers to try and escape.”

“God, I can’t even imagine what she must be going through.”

“None of us can. Not even our veterans have come close to experiencing what she’s been through. I had to tell Lexa what happened. She’s sending Indra and Dani in the morning to take over while Nyx recovers, if she recovers.”

“Seph, we have to believe that she will get better, especially for her sake,” I said as I scooted closer to her. “She doesn’t deserve this and we have to keep telling her that she’s forgiven and that this wasn’t her fault until she believes it.”

“I know. It’s just real hard right now. I grew up without her, but what I remember about her…she was the best sister I could have ever asked for even though there’s such a huge age difference. It never bothered her when I would tag along with her and Lexa. She always had time for me. She made time for me. And now I see her like this and I wonder if she’ll ever be the sister I remember.”

“She’s still in there, Seph. What happened on the northern border changed her, but she still fought back to find herself again. I think she’s stronger now than she was, just from living through it and pushing past it. Because of that, she made it her life’s mission to continue to help those in need. With our help, she can get through this too. I’m sure of it.”

“For all our sakes, I hope so. I talked to Ben and Scarlett about what happened. They pretty much told me the same thing. In the beginning, she used to wake up from these nightmares just screaming and it would take them hours to calm her down. She had to take medication to help control it. Eventually, the nightmares tapered off and she stopped taking the medication. Ben said that he hasn’t heard her have a nightmare in at least a year.”

“These things take time. She knew that coming back here might trigger them again and she’s been doing real good about it.”

“Until Lincoln.”

“Right. We just have to have faith in her.”

She smiled crookedly at me and said, “Faith is all I have.”

“So do I.”

“Thank you for letting me get this off my chest, Clarke.”

“Your welcome and thank you for letting me know.”

“You deserve the right to know. She loves you.”

I gave her a small hug and said, “I love her, too. What time is it?”

Sephy looked at a band on her wrist and replied, “It’s late. I should let you get some rest.”

“Alright, but only if you promise me that you’ll get some too. Real rest.”

She laughed, “I promise. I will get some real rest. I’ll keep you updated about Nyx.”

“Thank you. Good night, Sephy.”

“Night, Clarke,” she said and gave me a hug.

 

The feeling of hands tightening around my throat and my leg screaming in pain startled me awake as I tried to scream, but no sound came out. I felt tears stream down my face as I fought to bring air into my lungs. My eyes finally flew open and I quickly sat up seeing no one there. I scrambled out of bed and threw myself into the corner, my entire body lighting up like a Christmas tree. My hands flew to my throat as I gasped to breathe, but there was nothing there. Looking down at my leg I could only make out faint lines from where Nyx’s teeth had ripped through it. Sobbing, I could only curl up on myself as fear paralyzed me and lightning skittered across my skin.

The door burst open and I screamed and tucked myself tighter into a ball, trying to make myself as small as I could and prayed that whoever had come through that door wouldn’t find me.

“Clarke,” a frightened voice called out.

I only tried to make myself smaller and quiet my breathing.

I heard cautious steps walk into the room, “Clarke, it’s Octavia. I’m coming in, okay?”

Lightning shot out towards the voice and I heard a yelp and a thud.

“Shit!”

“O,” a man’s voice questioned.

“Stay out there, she’s using her power.”

“I’m getting Abby,” he said and I heard footsteps running away.

“Clarke? I need you to calm down, okay? I’m not going to hurt you. I need you to trust me.”

Lightning struck out for her.

“Clarke, it’s okay. I promise. I heard you scream. I’m sorry that I came in the way I did, but it scared me. I only want to make sure you’re okay.”

“Don’t, don’t come any cl-cl-closer,” I stuttered.

“Okay. I’ll stay right here. Will you talk to me, please?”

I shook my head violently.

I heard her sigh and then she said, “Your mom’s on her way, Clarke. I need you to calm down, though. You’re using too much power. If you keep this up, it’s going to drain you, Clarke. Remember what Nyx said…”

At the mention of Nyx’s name, lightning shot out a third time.

“Okay, note to self, don’t say her name,” I heard her mumble to herself.

Octavia didn’t say anything more as we waited. I couldn’t remember what we were waiting for and it confused me, making my lightning surge outward in a small circle and making her yelp in fear.

“Thank god,” she said as footsteps raced to the room.

“Octavia,” a familiar woman’s voice asked.

“Abby, I think she had a nightmare. She screamed, waking me up and I kind of came through the door hard. I can’t get near her. Every time I move, she shoots out lightning. I can feel the power coming off of her, if she keeps this up for much longer, she’s going to start draining her life force,” Octavia explained in a rush.

“Clarke, honey, it’s me. It’s your mom,” the woman, mom, said soothingly.

“Mom,” I said, confused. Why was my mom here?

“That’s right. I’m here,” she said. “I need you to listen to me, alright? You need to stop using your power, sweetie. I can’t come in until you do.”

“Mom,” I said again.

“I’m here, baby.”

“She’s not here, is she?”

“No, she’s not. She’s in the bunker. She can’t get to you,” she replied soothingly.

I started to pull the power back into me, but then I heard footsteps approach and I pushed it back out again, but didn’t shoot lightning in the direction of the sound.

“Baby, I’m just trying to get to you. To make sure you’re okay. Can you let me do that, please,” she begged.

I wanted my mom. Needed her, so with great effort, I pulled in my power. The room automatically darkened now that I wasn’t lighting up the room.

“That’s great, sweetheart,” she said, her voice still soothing. “I’m going to come closer now, okay?”

I didn’t say anything, so she made her way cautiously and telling me exactly where she was to not frighten me. She stopped a few feet from me and knelt on the ground.

“Clarke, I’m going to have Octavia turn on the lights, okay. I need to see.”

I nodded ever so slightly and shut my eyes tight. There was a sudden flooding of light, making me cringe.

“There’s my sweet, baby girl,” she said softly. “Honey, can you look at me?”

I opened my eyes and peaked at her over my knees. She had a soft smile on her face. Seeing that smile and seeing her, relief rushed through me and I lunged at her. She caught me and held me tight. Sobs racked my body as she rocked me gently back and forth and rubbed my back like she used to do when I was little.

“Mom,” I cried out.

“Shh, baby. It’s okay. I’ve got you,” she said soothingly as she worked on calming me down.

My crying subsided and I hiccuped. She continued to hold me until I pushed away from her a bit. I sat back as I looked at her and she moved the strands of hair that covered my face.

“Can you tell me what happened, sweetie,” she asked quietly.

I thought hard as I tried to recall what happened. In flashes, I remembered hands and teeth and I recoiled, but she grabbed and held me tight again.

“It’s alright, Clarke. You’re safe. No one’s going to hurt you. I promise. Do you believe me?”

I nodded against her chest.

Taking a deep breath, I answered her as I stammered, “H-h-hands a-around m-my th-thr-throat. Teeth. P-p-pain in my l-leg, b-b-bad pain.”

“Would you like me take a look?”

I nodded and she gently took my head and lifted it to look at my throat. She let go and extended my leg, turning it slightly. I glanced down at it and only saw light scars from where Nyx’s teeth had been.

She tucked my leg back in and looking up at me with a gentle smile said, “Your neck is healed and so is your leg, sweetheart.”

Looking at her in confusion, I said, “It felt so real.”

“It probably did, but it was only a bad dream,” she replied. “What happened was terrifying and it’s okay to be scared, honey. It’s over now, she can’t hurt you again. We’ve made sure of it.”

“Is she…is she dead,” I asked even though I wasn’t sure which answer I wanted to hear.

She pulled me to her and said, “No, honey. That’s not what I meant. She’s still very much alive, but she’s heavily sedated and locked in the psych ward. She can’t get out.”

“Oh,” I said quietly.

It relieved me to know that she was still alive, but at the same time the feeling of fear crept up my chest. If she’s alive and if she knows that I’m alive, would she try to kill me again. I shuddered at the thought that she might try again.

“Mom,” I asked quietly, “if, if she got out…would she try again?”

“She can’t get out, Clarke.” She answered. “Honestly, we don’t know where her mind’s at. When she wakes up, she could very well still be stuck in the past and not realize that the danger is long past. It’s why she’s locked up and heavily sedated.”

I nodded, “That’s smart.”

“Yes, it is. How are you feeling, now?”

I thought about it and replied, “Confused, hurt, scared. I don’t think I can sleep.”

“I understand. It’s only an hour past dawn, you don’t have to go back to sleep if you don’t want to. I was about to start my rounds to see how our people are responding to the cure. Would you like to come with me and help?”

“I, I think I’d like that, Mom.”

“I’d like that, too. Why don’t you go and wash up. I’ll meet you in the kitchen, okay?”

I nodded and using the bed for support, stood up. Mom did the same and she embraced and kissed my forehead before she left the room, shutting the door with a soft click.

I sat on the bed and took a moment to regain some clarity. Logically, I knew exactly what I had just experienced. I’d been attacked and I was clearly traumatized by it, hence the realness of the dream. I understood that Nyx had a nightmare about what happened and that because of Lincoln’s description of what he witnessed, had brought it forward and made her relive it again to the point that she actually thought she was really there. So, it made sense that when she woke up, she didn’t see me as me, but me as an enemy. That was her reality.

Except in reality, it had been me and not an enemy she was trying to kill. In reality, she would have killed me if Sephy hadn’t gotten there in time. In reality, she has become dangerous to those around her. In reality, I loved and feared her at the same time. In reality, I didn’t know what to do.

I took a deep, shuddering breath and got up from the bed and forced myself to wash up. I had a feeling that I was going to have to force myself to do a lot of things, because all I wanted to do was hide under the covers and never come out again. I couldn’t do that because there were people that relied on me, people that needed me. I couldn’t let them down. I was determined not to let them down.

When I came down into the kitchen, Mom and Octavia were sitting around the breakfast table eating. I went straight to the coffee machine and poured myself a cup, making it the way I liked it. Joining them, Octavia silently slid a bowl of fruit my way. With a silent nod of thanks, I started eating.

Octavia sighed and said, “I am not looking forward to today.”

“Why’s that,” I asked after taking a sip of coffee.

“Seph informed me last night that Lexa is sending two of her people here to oversee their pack members. Indra and Dani,” she replied. “Indra’s the pack leader of the Southern Pack. Seph doesn’t know exactly what Dani does.”

“And you’re worried about what they’ll think of you because you’re new to being a pack leader?”

“That’s an understatement. Indra is an experienced pack leader and a trusted advisor to de Pakstoka according to Seph. Whereas, I am just stumbling around trying not to trip on my own feet.”

“I’m sure they’re aware of the fact that you’re very new to your position,” Mom said. “This may very well be beneficial for you. This Indra may be able to help you understand your role more and maybe let you shadow her while she’s here.”

“God, if she does that I’d willingly be indebted to them forever.”

I chuckled, “Octavia, we’re already indebted to the Forest Pack. They’re letting us stay and lay claim here. I don’t think we could become more indebted than that.”

She lifted a corner of her lips in a smile and replied, “True, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and turn away any help they’re willing to give.”

“That’s a positive attitude,” mom said. “Just don’t let them take over your pack completely or they’ll run roughshod over you. You have to maintain the mindset that this is you’re piece of territory and that they’re just here to help.”

“So, maintain authority while at the same time learning from them.”

“Right,” mom said and then asked me, “Clarke, honey, are you about ready to go?”

I looked down at my bowl of fruit and seeing I was nearly through and replied, “Yeah, I think I’m done. I’m really curious to see how everyone is doing.”

She smiled and replied, “Then let’s get going, shall we?”

I smiled in return and we left the compound for the bunker.

Chapter Text

I was glad that Abby found a way to distract Clarke from what happened yesterday. When Seph told me what happened, it scared the living daylights out of me. That this woman, who’ve we all come to respect and had treated us in kind, turned on a dime and tried to kill someone she loved. It frightened me to no end. All I could think about is that whatever happened on the northern border 8 years ago must have been a truly horrific event, if she continued to have nightmares about it. Then Lincoln had to open his big mouth and send her over the edge like that, it was mind boggling.

I had spent the afternoon with Lincoln and he truly seemed to regret his actions. He told me that before it happened, Nyx had been the kind of leader that drew undying loyalty from those under her command when she had to command. That the entirety of the pack looked up to her and tried to follow her example. I’d seen that and felt it too. She made you want to do better, to learn to work beyond your limitations, because she did that every day.

He explained to me that he hadn’t been that keen to be back under her command. That what had happened had changed the opinion of those that had survived. They feared her because of the immense strength and power that she commanded. They had tried to bring her down, stop her, but she’d simply tore through them, leaving nothing but death and chaos behind. I realized how tightly she held onto keeping all of that under control. There were times when we were given a peak at what she was capable of, like when she handled Jaha. You could just feel it coming off of her in waves, the control she exerted to use only what was necessary. She was disciplined and never did anything without knowing exactly what was going on around her.

But now, she seemed broken. When I’d gone down with Sephy to check on her, seeing her trying to fight the neurotoxin and escape, there was no sign of the person I’d grown to respect. All I saw was the wolf. A wolf that was doing everything in her power to fight. That was when Sephy ordered the sleeping gas to be vented into the room. Nyx had tried to fight that too, but eventually she succumbed to the gas and had collapsed. When Sephy had turned away from seeing that, her face was nothing but anguish and fear.

She told me that that was the hardest thing she’d ever had to do. Watching her sister as she seemingly had descended into madness. Making it worse was the fact that she couldn’t reach her, none of us could. It was terrifying to watch. That was when she contacted Lexa and let her know what had happened. Lexa had sounded just as anguished, but her voice was also tinged with guilt. Then she became determined and I heard the quick decision making that only a leader could. She informed Sephy that she would be sending Indra and Dani to take control of her men and hopefully help Nyx through this. Sephy had informed me that Indra had been one of Nyx’s teachers, weapons training. Dani was one of Nyx’s closest friend and had become her lover again.

That of course, still through me into a loop. Multiple lovers even when Nyx said that she loved Clarke. Talking to Nyx one day about the whole nymphomania that the Forest Pack were known for, she told me that the women that she spent more time with were women that she had great feelings for. Women that she loved but didn’t want to claim. I couldn’t understand that. How could you love multiple people and then go around and still sleep with other people? It made no sense and she couldn’t adequately provide me with an answer because she truthfully didn’t know why it was the way it was. The entire pack was just as confused as she was, but just rolled with it as they had for generations.

Sephy came into the kitchen and broke through my reverie and as she poured herself a cup of coffee, she said, “I’ve gotten word that Indra and Dani should be here in a couple of hours.”

“That’s good, I guess,” I replied taking a sip of my lukewarm coffee. I grimaced at the taste and wished for a second that I was a fire mage to warm it up and said, “How are you feeling that they will be taking control over your pack?”

“Relieved honestly,” she replied as she took a seat. “This is way out of my wheelhouse. Mother had barely begun training me in this type of operation before I came down here.”

“What can you tell me about them?”

“Well, Indra is the pack leader of the Southern Pack. My mother is her Second, which means that I follow her orders. She’s fair in her judgements and doesn’t make rash decisions. The pack respects her and she returns the respect. She’s not one to give out orders that she’s not willing to do herself. She’s one of the most skilled weapons trainer in Forest Pack. She’s also very picky as to who she’s willing to train and she is a hard taskmaster. She also doesn’t take any lip from anyone, not even de Pakstoka and she speaks her mind. She’s a good leader and friend, but she can seem to be standoffish until she gets to know you.”

“And Dani?”

“I’m not sure what Dani does, but she works exclusively for de Pakstoka and only answers to her. Her, Lexa, and Nyx were close friends. She’s probably the least serious of the three. Always dragging them away to have some fun and make sure that they weren’t always so serious. She could get them to do some crazy things that drove our parents up the wall. When Nyx left, she wasn’t the same anymore. From what I can remember, she focused on her work and rarely got out to enjoy herself. Then she and Lexa had a major fallout right before Mother moved us to the Southern Pack.”

“Do you think they’ll be able to work together?”

“I don’t see why not. They’re both professionals and they know what needs to be done. I don’t know what they think of one another, but de Pakstoka wouldn’t have sent them here if she thought there’d be any issues.”

“Got it,” I said and looked at the clock. “So, what do we do for the next hour and a half?”

She gave me a grin that I was learning to dread, “Feel like a bit of training?”

“Am I going to get my ass kicked?”

“Probably, but I’ll try not to kick it that bad. Promise.”

I sighed and said, “Alright, I’ve got nothing better to do anyway.”

She got up and dragged me out of the chair, giving me barely enough time to sit the cup on the table. We went out to the back because the weather was to nice to train indoors. Taking off our jackets and boots we started working on the moves she had just taught me the other day. When I was getting the hang of it, she attacked me without warning, I felt my wolf stir and I blocked and countered without thinking. She gave me a grin and attacked again. I countered successfully. She gave me the come hither gesture and I felt my own grin. I attacked, she blocked, and I countered the block with another attack. It felt good to let loose like this. My mind focused on the moves as my body moved as if I’d been doing this for years.

We were progressing on the next set of moves when a sudden alarm started blaring through the camp. We both stopped and looked up trying to figure it out what was going on.

“Shit,” Sephy yelled.

“What?!”

“She got out.”

“I thought she was sedated?”

“So did I. Come on, we’ve got to get her before she gets to the gates,” she said and took off running.

I took off after and then I remembered, “Clarke! She was headed to the bunker with her mother!”

“On it,” she replied and began relaying orders telepathically.

“Dammit, she’s nearly out of the bunker! We need to shift!”

“What?! The humans.”

“They’re about to get a very rude awakening. Now shift!”

We shifted and ran through the streets towards the bunker.

We need to get to her, Octavia. She’s out of the bunker. We need to cut her off.

Right. How do we stop her?

Everybody, listen up! Stop her by any means necessary, short of killing her. We need to stop her before she hurts anyone or makes it out of the gates.

We put on a burst of speed and came out of a side street. There was no sign of her or her pursuers, so we cut through another street to try to head her off the main road.

Persephone, she’s repelling our attacks. She made a telekinetic shield. We can’t touch her, someone said, sounded like Lincoln.

Got it. Octavia, you’re about to get a crash course of using your power while in wolf form. If she’s got a shield around her any direct attack will be sent back to us. Any ideas?

What if we send an attack on the ground in front of her? She wouldn’t be able to repel that, right?

Good, but if we do it too soon, she’ll just avoid it. This has to be timed perfectly. When I tell you to, envision your power going through the ground and coming out right before she steps where you envision it coming out of the ground. Picture something like a water geyser and hitting her with that, but keep the pressure low enough that it won’t kill her.

How do I do that?

Just tell yourself that you only want enough pressure to immobilize her. Trust me, it works.

Alright. I trust you.

Good, because here she comes. Get ready.

We watched as a black streak ran straight on, heading for the gates. She didn’t see us coming up on her left side. When Sephy told me, I did exactly what she said and I felt the power surge through me and into the ground to come up exactly as she ran over the spot I’d chosen. She was shot straight up into the air and flew backwards, body limp. Then something cushioned her fall and brought her down slowly until we could get there. I felt Sephy’s power surge and I knew that she was forcefully keeping Nyx down. Looking behind us, I saw Harper running over. She must have used her power to stop her from falling too fast. Another wolf came up with something in its mouth and shifted mid-run. It was Lincoln and he had a tranq stick with him. He skidded to a halt, landing on his knees and plunged it into her neck. Nyx shuddered and still seemed to be stirring, so another tranq was used. Still didn’t seem to work. It took two more tranq sticks to get her to stay down. Sephy shifted back and felt for a pulse.

“We’re good. She’s out,” she said breathlessly as she leaned back on her heels.

We all shifted back and Lincoln bent to pick her up. The rest of the group that had been chasing her had finally reached us and acting as our guard, escorted us back into the bunker. When we reached the psych ward we encountered the damage that she had caused to get out. The door to the room where she had been kept was blown off it’s hinges. There were cracks and chunks of concrete littering the floor, walls, and ceiling. Medical staff were working on at least a dozen guards and other staff that she had knocked out.

“Fuck,” Sephy said as she took it all in. “How the hell are we going to contain her, if the sedatives don’t work?”

“We may have a solution to that,” Raven said as she ran down the corridor.

“What do you mean?”

“Ben and I got to talking last night and he told me about a nullifier he had designed. His prevents any listening devices from sending data outside it’s area of influence while at the same time preventing telepathy from going past that area as well.”

“Go on.”

“He explained how he was able to restrict the telepathy and we hashed out how we could use that to inhibit powers while also giving us low level telepathy. This is what we came up with,” she said as she showed us a small circular disc.

“What do we do with it?”

“It’s meant to be placed right below the ear and just past the hinge of the jaw. All we have to do is shave that area and stick it there. There’s a clamping system, so that no matter what she does, she can’t knock it loose.”

“Does it work?”

“Oh, yeah, it works,” Kane said as he slowly joined us. “I hadn’t realized how much my body had changed with the cure. I felt a void where my power lies and was very disoriented while I had it on. It’ll work.”

“Great,” Sephy said. “Let’s get her into another room.”

Kane led the way to an empty room that had absolutely nothing in it and Lincoln laid her down gently. He took out a knife and shaved the area where the disc would be placed. Raven then kneeled down and placed it on the spot. She pressed down on the head and a little red light came on.

“That’s it,” she said, getting back on her feet. “When she wakes up, she won’t be able to use her powers.”

“Will she still be able to shift,” Sephy asked concerned. “When she’s in wolf form, she’s ten times stronger than in her human form. She could still do some damage.”

“It allows her to shift. Do you have anyone that could force her to shift, like the Harvest Moon, but backwards?”

“No, the only one who could possibly get her to shift would be de Pakstoka, but she needs to be able to get inside Nyx’s mind. Her mind is still blocked.”

“Should we have restraints installed to keep her movements to a minimum until she shifts back on her own?”

“We could try, but she may just end up using the restraints to hurt herself,” Sephy replied. “Lincoln, what was the dosage of each tranq?”

“Enough to take down a werewolf, but in her state it took four of them to take her out.”

She nodded and then said, “She’s also been able to shake off the sedative. I have no idea what to do.”

I heard footsteps echoing on the concrete and turned to see Abby and Clarke cautiously make their way over to us. I walked over and stopped Clarke from getting to close. She looked at me and I shook my head. She nodded in understanding and stopped where she was.

“What do you think, Abby,” Raven asked as Abby knelt down and examined Nyx.

“Do werewolves have the same physiology as humans do when in their wolf form,” she asked Sephy.

“We do,” she said. “Why? What are you thinking?”

“If that’s the case, we could put her into a medically induced coma. It’ll keep her from waking up and trying to either harm herself or escaping. At least, until we figure out how to get her out of this mind state.”

Sephy thought about it for a few moments and then said, “Do it. I’d rather have her like that then dead or gone.”

“Alright. I’ll get it set up,” she said standing up.

“Thank you, Abby,” she said. “I know you don’t like her very much after what she did to Clarke. I’m glad that you’re willing to help her.”

“She needs the help whether I like her or not. It’s our only option until we can come up with a solution. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll get started.”

“Of course,” she replied and everyone stepped out of her way.

Sephy closed the door and locked it. She leaned against the door and closed her eyes.

“Lincoln,” she said with her eyes still closed, “get the men back to their posts. We still have humans to guard.”

“Yes, Persephone,” he said and inclined his head before leaving us.

“Seph,” Clarke said as she walked over to her now that the door was closed and locked. “Are you okay?”

“No, I’m not, Clarke,” she replied, opening her eyes and standing upright. “But there’s nothing I can do about it. At least your mom has a temporary solution and Raven’s come up with a way to stop her powers. We have some semblance of control. I’m just not sure how long we can keep this up. We need her back up and running.”

“I’m sorry,” Clarke said as she laid a hand on her shoulder.

“You have no reason to be sorry, Clarke. If anything, I’m surprised that your not angry or hurt by this.”

“Logically, I understand what happened. Lincoln triggered a regressive nightmare that turned into a waking nightmare. She acted out and I got caught in the crossfire. I can’t really be mad about that, except at Lincoln for causing it. But emotionally, it’s taking everything inside me to stay here right now. I’m scared of her now. I don’t even know if I’ll ever be able to look at her again and not want to run away and hide.”

Sephy nodded, “I can understand that and I’m heartbroken to hear you say that. I’d forgotten exactly how powerful she is.”

“Exactly how powerful is she,” I asked.

“She’s the most powerful werewolf that’s ever been born. When Mother Earth created her, she really broke the mold. And Nyx always kept herself tightly under wrap to keep something like this from every happening. This is why there was so much carnage at the northern border 8 years ago.”

“Holy shit,” I said in shock. “No wonder she keeps herself under the radar. From what you’ve told us about the Coalition, I think they’d try to clone her and create super werewolves.”

“They’d most certainly try, but she’d kill herself before that ever happened.”

The radio crackled on Sephy’s belt.

She pulled it out and said, “Yes?”

“Pakstoka Indra and Daniela have just arrived,” a voice said on the other end.

“Thank you for letting me know. Please have someone escort them to the compound. We’re heading there now.”

“Roger that,” he said and the communicator when silent.

She sighed deeply and said to me, “Well, this outta be fun. Come on, Pakstoka, it’s time to put your game face on.”

I gulped in trepidation and said, “Let’s go, then. We don’t want to keep them waiting.”

“No, we don’t,” she said and led the way out of the bunker.

Chapter Text

I watched as Octavia and Sephy jogged back to the entrance of the bunker and then turned around to face the door that separated us from Nyx.

“Clarke, that’s not a good idea,” Raven said when she saw me take a step forward towards the door. “It’s not an image you want to have when you think about her.”

“I know, Raven, but it’s like one of those things that’s so horrible you have a compulsion to look and watch,” I answered.

“Behind that door is not her. It’s her wolf and seems to be as if there’s no humanity there, just the wolf. A wolf that knows it’s trapped.”

“But she’s unconscious, right,” I asked as I took another step forward.

Raven stepped between me and the door and said, “Yes, but we don’t know for how long. It took four tranq sticks to knock her out. Four. She’s in her strongest form. If you look, it will change the way you see her, trust me.”

“She has to be in there somewhere,” I said as I tried to push past her, but she grabbed my arm.

“She may be, but she’s not coming out. She has blocked everyone, including the one person who may get her to shift back into a human. If Lexa can’t reach her, she’s stuck and she’s losing any humanity that she may have left. Don’t punish yourself with that, please.”

“I’m gonna need to face her sometime to get past this, Raven. Why not now?”

“Because it’ll hit you that much harder. Remember Finn? Remember how you and I felt when he died. That’s what this will be like. You’ve got to trust me. Let it be for now.”

I looked over at her and the look on her face told me everything there was to know, so I relented.

“Okay, Raven. I won’t look,” I answered and saw the relief on her face.

“Thank you,” she replied. “Come on, let’s get out of here. This place gives me the creeps.”

I looked around and had to agree with her. The psych ward had always been creepy, especially when the screams, moans, and indistinct conversations had echoed through the bunker.

“Yeah, let’s get out of here,” I replied and we walked away, but I spared one last glance at the door and I could have sworn I saw one black eye looking back at me mournfully. Then it was gone in a blink.

I shook it off and told Raven about the how the people were recovering. There were already people beginning to speak clearly and had clarity of mind. There was still a long ways to go, but it looked like the projections on complete recovery was right on track.

 

Later that day, I took my drawing pad and a box of graphite pencils and headed to the sunroom. I found a comfortable chair that was laid out in the best light. I let my mind wander as I laid pencil to paper.

“You’ve really captured her essence,” a woman’s voice startled me and made me squeak. “Shit. Sorry, I forget I’m rather silent when I walk.”

I looked over at her and saw a tall, lithe, woman standing a few feet behind my chair. She was absolutely stunning and I felt something tugging deep in my heart that I didn’t understand.

I cleared my throat, “It’s okay. I sometimes get rather lost in myself when I’m drawing. You were saying?”

She pointed to the paper I had been drawing on and repeated herself, “I commented that you really captured her essence in your drawing.”

I looked down at the paper and realized that I had drawn Nyx when she had been sitting up in the bed and looking out the window.

“This is the last thing I remember before everything went to hell,” I said as I sighed and laid it on a nearby table. “She was so beautiful in that moment. So vulnerable and at the same time, I could feel the tightly controlled power coming from her.”

“That you did,” she said as she picked it up. “You’ve even got her tattoos down to the last detail. She didn’t have them when she was banished, well the ones in the three corners. The center piece was done when she had just turned 18.”

“Do you know who the people are,” I asked curiously.

She smiled, “It’s real easy to tell. On the left is Persephone, named after the Goddess of the Harvest. That’s why she’s walking through a field of wheat. On her right is her brother, Nereus. The Sea God who predated Poseidon. He was the son of the primordial god, Pontus. That’s why he’s pictured splitting the sea in half. The phoenix on the other hand, I’m not sure. It could represent Lexa, who’s a fire mage, or it could possibly be something like a remembrance of what they once had. It’s interesting that she doesn’t have her mother represented here.”

“Why do you think that is?”

She shrugged, “Don’t know. It could be that she just hasn’t found the right image to represent her. Then again, Simone may be on her sleeve somewhere.”

“Who are you anyway,” I asked when I remembered I was speaking with a total stranger.

“Dammit,” she sighed. “I’m doing a really horrible job at this. I’m Daniela Rendon, Dani, and you’re Clarke, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. Good,” she said taking a chair next to me.

“Why is that good,” I asked perplexed.

She chuckled, “Because I wanted to see how you were doing.”

“Oh. Um, okay, I guess,” I answered her.

She tilted her head at me and asked, “Why do you say that you guess you’re doing okay.”

“Because I don’t know how I’m doing, honestly. I feel like I’m on autopilot right now.”

“Ah, now I understand. I felt like that after Nyx was banished. A lot of us did, even Lexa. We kind of all went through the motions until we realized that she wasn’t ever coming back,” she recalled sadly.

“That must have really been hard for you.”

She lifted a corner of her lips in a smile, “It was. It’s why I threw myself into my training and then into my job. That’s all I became. My job. No more fun. No more jokes. No more pranks. Nothing that was a part of the real me. And then suddenly, she was back in our lives, but she wasn’t truly back, you know? Just like me, she was all about the job.”

“But she’s not about the job anymore, right?”

“Mm-hm. Something changed and I don’t think it was about finally being found innocent.”

“What do you think changed her?”

“Well, after talking to Gaia and Seph, we all concluded that it was because of you.”

“Me? How could I have done that?”

“Because I can feel the same pull as Nyx had described to them. It’s like you’re pulling people into your orbit and our lives depend on the gravity you exert. There’s power there, but also goodness, caring, loving, nurturing, and a hint of darkness to balance it all out.”

I was taken aback at her bluntness and blushed at being described by that.

“Um, thank you? I don’t think I’ve ever been described that way before.”

She chuckled, “It’s true, but it’s the best analogy that I could come up with.”

I scrunched my face in thought and made her smile wider, “And you feel that same pull as Nyx?”

“Mm-hm. Weird, isn’t it?”

“Definitely.”

Our heads snapped in the direction of the door as we heard footsteps approach.

“Crap,” Dani said and tried to hide in her chair, making me giggle. “She’s found me.”

“Ah, there you are, Dani,” the woman said as she came in. “We’ve got work to do and no time to dally on. Flirt some other time.”

Dani sat up indignantly, “I was not flirting, was I? No, definitely no flirting on my part, I swear, Indra. I was just chatting with Clarke, here. Oh, by the way, Clarke this is the Pakstoka of the Southern Pack, Indra. Indra, this is Clarke, leader of the mages here.”

Indra bowed her head in greeting, “Clarke, I am honored to make your acquaintance, but you must excuse us. I have some words to exchange with Lincoln.”

Dani gave me a look and I smirked before she got up and followed Indra out the door. I could see the allure that called Nyx to her bed frequently. I sighed and turned my attention back to my drawing. Picking up the pad, I finished the shading that I had been working on when I’d been interrupted. I held it away from me and looked at it this way and that. I smiled at what I saw and took it up to my room and tucked it underneath the mattress. Why I hid it, I wasn’t sure, only that I wanted to.

When I came back downstairs, Sephy was sitting in the office looking over some papers. I knocked on the door and she looked up, startled.

“Sorry,” I said. “Didn’t mean to startle you.”

She sighed and leaned back in chair as she said, “It’s fine, Clarke. Come on in. Indra’s just given me some homework, so to speak.”

“Oh,” I said curiously and walked into the office. “What kind of homework?”

“Logistics,” she replied, making a face. “I have to figure out how much food we’re going to need for the next four months with roughly 2-250 people to feed. 75 of which are werewolves.”

I sat in a chair facing the desk and said, “They’re expecting to stay here for that long?”

“They’re expecting this to be a long term occupation,” she replied. “No one in the Forest Pack has dealt directly with humans. We stay within our own territory and only leave it on the rare occasions. Gustus’s trip to Old Towne was the first time a member had left the territory in over 25 years and Nyx’s banishment doesn’t count. We just don’t know what to expect, so Indra is erring on the side of caution.”

“This really is new territory for everyone involved,” I said thinking. “Well, we have earth mages, right? So, they’ll be able to grow crops as we need them, won’t they?”

“To a point. I have to give them an idea of how much needs to be grown and at what intervals. Yes, they can speed up the growth, but they have to make sure it’s not too fast or there will be problems with the soil. Move to fast and the nutrients found in the soil will disappear and then take months to regenerate. Then there’s crop rotations to not lose those nutrients as well. The goal is to maintain a healthy diet of vegetables and grains. Then of course, deciding how much livestock will have to be brought in for dairy and fresh meat. Hunting season is nearly over, which means less wild prey.”

“And werewolves need a lot of protein in their diet.”

“Exactly. That is why I am sitting here, behind this desk, going cross-eyed, and comparing what we have with what we need.”

“Is that a normal duty of a Second,” I asked curiously.

“Yes. This is usually planned during the winter months so that come spring we know what to plant and how much of it we need.”

“I’m surprised you don’t have Miller in here helping you with this,” I said. “He is going to have to learn this at some point.”

Her eyes brightened a huge grin spread over her face, “You are absolutely right, Clarke. Miller should be here learning this. Hah! Now, I won’t be the only one miserable.”

I laughed softly, “Glad I could help. Anyway, two heads are better than one.”

I got up and decided to walk around the camp for a little while since I didn’t really have anything to do. Moving about the camp I saw that buildings were beginning to be renovated, the pack not even hiding their powers thanks to this morning’s escapade. It was a relief, really, knowing that I didn’t have to hide my powers or that our pack didn’t have to hide what they really were.

I made my way over to the fields and watched a bit while huge greenhouses were being raised in preparation of growing crops during the winter. They had the humans helping and it saddened me to see that their body language radiated fear. I wanted to go over and tell them that they didn’t have anything really to fear. That this was a result of what happened after the apocalypse. That the Forest Pack didn’t want to truly hurt them. But, I think right now, it was too soon to offer that kind of support.

Making my way to the Town Hall, I spotted four figures in a tight knot. As I got closer, I saw that it was Indra, Dani, Octavia, and Lincoln. I guessed that Indra was having those words that she wanted to exchange with him. His body language portrayed submissiveness and I felt bad for him. I don’t think he realized that he’d get this much grief for a single voiced thought or that it would have such a detrimental effect. I sighed and waved slightly when Dani laid eyes on me. She gave me a wink and then turned her attention back to the conversation. Octavia looked torn between Lincoln and Indra, but remained silent even though I could see her body tense like she wanted to speak.

Entering Town Hall, my footsteps echoed through the empty building. I ran into Bellamy as he rounded a corner. I made a noise and he grabbed me to keep me from falling.

“Clarke,” he said, his face brightening. “I was just on my way to see you.”

I looked at him in confusion and asked, “You were?”

“Yeah. I wanted to see how you were doing and ask you something.”

“I’m doing okay,” I replied. “So, what’s the question.”

He pulled me off to the side and asked, “Do you think I could speak with Jaha?”

“Why would you want to talk with him?”

“I need some advice on how to speak with our people. I want to help them understand what exactly is going on, especially after this morning’s display from the werewolves.”

“I’m not sure that is such a good idea, Bellamy. Sephy has told me that they’ve tried to reason with him, but he’s just not having it. He is incensed that you’ve taken over the leadership and that he’d have to join the rest of the humans as a laborer.”

“Well, can you blame him,” he said. “Jaha has been in charge for the last five years. I know none of us like the man, but I don’t think it’d be that bad for me to speak with him for a few minutes.”

“Is it that important to you to speak with him?”

He nodded, “Yeah, it is. Since you’re the leader of the mages, do you think you could allow me to talk with him?”

I shook my head and replied, “Under normal circumstances, I’d say yes as long as you were under guard presence. Unfortunately, it’s not my call. The Forest Pack is running things for the time being. You’d have to speak with Pakstoka Indra to gain permission. And when you speak to her, I’d tell you to have exactly what you wish to speak with him about and that you won’t deviate from those talking points.”

He sighed, “I was hoping to avoid speaking with her. It’s exactly what Kane said I should do when I asked him.”

“Then there’s your answer. Last I checked, she was outside giving Lincoln a tongue lashing.”

“Then I guess I’d better head out there before she leaves.”

“Good luck,” I said and watched him walk out of the building.

Instead of the council room, I headed to Raven and Monty’s lab. Monty was the only one there.

“Hey, Monty,” I said as I neared his worktable.

He jumped, but didn’t lose his grip on whatever he was working on.

He turned and looked at me and gave me a small smile, “Hey, Clarke. Is there something I can do for you?”

“Actually, yes. Could you get me in contact with Ben. I have a question I want to ask him.”

“Sure,” he replied, got up and walked over to the array of monitors.

Pressing a few buttons and waited for Ben to answer the request. When Ben’s face showed up, Monty left me alone with him.

I sat in the chair and faced Ben’s image.

“Clarke, this is unexpected,” he said a little uneasy. “Is everything going okay?”

“It depends on your definition of okay,” I replied. “Nyx broke out of her room and tried to make a run for it this morning. We got her and she’s in a medically induced coma for now.”

His face fell at the news and I could see the sadness in his eyes, “That’s bad, Clarke. The Coalition has been sending me emails to find out when she’d be able to return to the city. I’ve been able to hold them off and telling them the job is taking longer than expected. I gave them an estimate that we may be done by Spring and let me tell you, they were not happy about it.”

“And I take it that pissing the Coalition off is not a good thing.”

“It’s not, but right now there’s nothing any of us can do about it,” he said and then asked, “So, why the call?”

“Oh, right,” I said as I remembered what I had been thinking about. “Do the kids still attend school now?”

“They do. It’s still structured similar to what was in place before the apocalypse. Why?”

“Do they teach about the history of what happened after the apocalypse?”

“As far as I know, yes,” he said confused by my questions.

“That’s good. I was thinking that we could give a course to the humans on the history of what happened after it. Give them a valid explanation.”

He had been typing while I was talking and he gave me a grin when he spotted something, “There’s a video presentation explaining the whole thing. The down side is that it’s skewed to our point of view.”

“Yeah, but that’s because of who created it,” I replied. “What’s in the history books is what’s written and published by those that were in power at the time and the victors of armed conflicts. It wouldn’t be anything new. What would be great too, is if we could find some scientific evidence of why the humans have been dying out or strong theories.”

“Scarlett might be able to get that for you. She’s been studying the human decline for years now, trying to understand why she’s lost seemingly healthy humans, including children, to heart failure.”

“That could work. Can you ask her for me?”

“Sure, no problem. Was there anything else?”

“Not really. Can you send all of that soon?”

He smiled and replied, “The video is already sent. My suggestion is to sit down and watch it before presenting it to the humans. Make sure that it’s what you want. I can look around some more and send what I find.”

“That would be fantastic. Thank you, Ben.”

He blushed and replied, “Your welcome, Clarke. Thank you for letting me know about Nyx. Lexa hasn’t been really forthcoming in that department.”

“That’s probably because her break happened only yesterday.”

“You’re probably right. I’m just really worried, especially since she’s nearly died twice and had our home blown up.”

“I can understand how you feel, Ben. I promise I’ll try to keep you informed in regards to her.”

“Thanks. I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Alright. Bye, Ben,” I said and the transmission was cut. I turned around in the chair and called, “Hey, Monty. Ben sent us a video on the history of the post-apocalypse. Can you bring it up?”

He came back over and said, “Sure. I’ll even set it up on one of the tablets so you don’t have to sit here and watch it.”

I smiled, “You just don’t want me in your lab to disturb you while you work.”

He smiled sheepishly, “You’ve caught me, but here’s the tablet and it’s cued to watch the video.”

“Thank you,” I replied taking it from him. “I’ll get out of your way, then.”

I got up and left the lab, but once I was out of the door, I debated if I wanted to go back to the compound to watch or head to the Council room. I decided to head to the Council room. If there was anybody in there, they could watch it as well.

Pushing the door open, I saw Kane, Mom, and Raven pouring over various paperwork. They looked up at the sound of the door and Mom came over to give me a hug.

Looking down at my hands, she asked, “What have you got there, sweetheart?”

“I spoke with Ben about seeing if they taught the history of what happened after the apocalypse to the children. He sent me this.”

“What are you thinking,” Kane asked as Mom and I walked over to them.

“I’m thinking that we could show this to the humans to help them understand what happened after the doors to the bunker were sealed.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” he said thoughtfully.

I nodded, “I also asked if there was any hard evidence about what was happening to the humans to cause them to die off. He said that Scarlett would be the best person to ask. He’s doing that for me.”

Mom perked up at that and said, “That would be really great. After that speech Nyx gave us, I was wondering what could have caused it.”

“My point,” I replied. “I came in here to watch it.”

Raven took the tablet from me and plugged it into the holo projector Sephy had placed in the middle of the table and said, “We might as well watch this together and see how they teach it.”

“That was my thinking if there were people in here. Ben did tell me it was skewed to the Apex point of view, but that’s to be expected.”

“You’re right,” Kane said as he took a seat.

We all took a seat and Raven hit play. When it was over, we all sat back absorbing the information.

“That was surprisingly very informative. It answered every question I could think of,” Kane said into the quiet.

“It most certainly did,” Raven said, surprised. “Of course, the way the humans were depicted was atrocious.”

“I don’t think it was any different from the way minorities were portrayed in the history books prior to earning their civil rights back in the day.”

“If that’s the case, I have to wonder if our humans won’t demand the same treatment?”

“Probably,” I replied. “They’re already accustomed to those civil rights. To have them denied now, would most definitely cause issues.”

“Then we really have to make them understand and agree to having a peace summit with the Forest Pack, so that they can continue to have at least some of the civil rights returned,” Kane said thinking.

“Of course it all depends on what the Forest Pack is willing to provide us and if the Coalition would allow the humans to remain here in town,” Raven said.

“But that’s for another day to decide,” I said. “Now the big question is, how do we want to disseminate the information. En masse or small groups?”

“I think the best way would be in small groups with Council members leading the class. They’ll more likely respect us and maybe we can demonstrate our powers,” Kane replied.

I scrunched my face in thought and said, “I agree with the small groups, but I’m not sure I like the idea of demonstrating our powers.”

“How about if they ask for a demonstration,” Abby replied. “That way, they are the ones asking for proof and we’re not just trying to show off.”

“That I like,” I replied. “We could also take the opportunity to tell them that there’s a possibility that the people that were struck down by the neurotoxin may develop powers because of the cure itself.”

“Show them the brain scan simulation as proof,” Raven said, smiling in anticipation. “I could set up a whole presentation.”

“That would be perfect. I’ll speak with Pakstoka Indra and let her know what we’re planning on doing. She’ll probably insist on having more guards present.”

“I think we can live with that. It makes sense once the information is passed on from the first group,” Kane said.

“Then, I’ll go find her and let her know,” I said, standing up.

“And I’ll make that presentation,” Raven said.

“Sounds like a plan,” Kane replied. “Good luck, both of you.”

We nodded and left the room. I was halfway out of the building when Mom stopped me.

“Clarke,” she said as she caught up with me.

I stopped and said, “Yeah, Mom?”

“How are you holding up?”

I sighed, “I’m already getting tired of people asking me that. But this is good for me. It’s keeping me distracted from worrying about Nyx or thinking about what happened.”

“You know we’ll have to do something if you start having nightmares.”

“I know. It’d probably be a good idea to have someone stay in my room to keep an ear out on me.”

She smiled wanly and replied, “That was what I was going to suggest. If you don’t mind, I’d like to do it.”

I smiled, “No Mom, I won’t mind. It’ll be like when I was little.”

“Thank you,” she said and gave me a tight hug. “I’ll let you get back to work.”

“Thanks, Mom. I’ll see you later. I want to do a round and check on their recovery.”

“Just let me know and I’ll do the round with you.”

“Alright. Love you.”

“Love you, too,” she said and turned back to the Council room.

Heading outside, I didn’t see an immediate sign of Indra so I asked the first guard I came to. He told me that she had gone back to the compound to speak with Sephy. I thanked him and hurried over there.

I found the five of them in the office discussing the food supplies. I knocked on the door and Sephy waved me in. I joined them and listened in.

“So, you’re positive that we’re going to need that much in the way of crops,” Indra said to Sephy.

“If I did my math right, and honestly I double checked with Mother, that is how much we’re going to need.”

“And there’s how much in the stores?”

“Not enough to last the month. We’ll have to ration and we’ll still not come close to meeting a month’s supply.”

“How long do we have before the first crop is ready,” Dani asked.

“No more then six weeks if we use exclusively our earth mages. If we use those that reside in Manassas, it could take up to three months. They’re just not trained in the use of their power yet. We haven’t had the chance to really train anybody in their powers.”

“So, their training needs to done immediately and it’ll have to be rushed.”

“Yes. They’re willing, but I don’t want them to over do it. It won’t do them any good if they kill themselves to try and match what ours can do.”

“We also need to get the water mages involved as well,” Dani said thinking. “We’ve got to make sure we have fresh water for the duration and that includes irrigating the crops.”

“That sounds like a lot of work before the first snowfall,” I cut in.

“We’re in the middle of October,” Indra replied. “As long as the weather holds like this for at least the next month and a half, we’ll be okay. Tomorrow I’ll start sending out hunting parties to bring in some fresh meat.”

“Have we sent out requests to the other packs to see if they can send some of their stores to us,” Sephy asked.

“Not yet,” she replied. “I’m going to bring that up with de Pakstoka tonight.”

Sephy looked up at me and asked, “I know you’re not here to listen to this, Clarke. What’s on your mind?”

“I actually came here to speak with Pakstoka Indra about something,” I replied.

“What is it that you wanted to speak about,” Indra asked.

“I think I might’ve come up with a way to get the humans to gain perspective about the world. Ben gave me an informational video on the history of what happened after the apocalypse. Some of the members of my Council watched it with me and we all agree that it’s worth sharing with them,” I answered her.

“So, you want to show this video to them?”

“Yes. I’m hoping that Scarlett will also be able to provide a scientific theory as to why the humans have nearly died off. From what Ben’s said, the healthy humans seem to die of heart failure.”

“That could work,” Dani replied. “We’ll have to increase the guard presence of course, as the information is disseminated.”

I nodded, “That’s what we figured. Some of them have already seen us use our powers and shift, so I know that information is already spreading. Now we can give them an explanation as to why we have powers and they don’t.”

“It’ll have to be done in small groups,” Indra informed me.

“Again, that’s what we figured would be best. Too large a group and they’ll be harder to contain if they take exception to what they’ve learned. Especially, since it does paint humans in a bad light.”

“Have you thought of a way to bring up what may happen to the people recovering from the neurotoxin,” Octavia asked.

“Right now, show the the simulated brain scan so they see how the cure works and the possible outcome. It’d be nice if we could have a ratio, but I don’t think they want to know that. It might frighten them more.”

“Or give a bigger incentive to try and wrest control from us.”

I nodded, “And with Jaha still bound and determined to gain control of the Council and exert the fact that the humans outnumber us, it’ll be suicidal for them.”

“What if we performed the same mind manipulation that was done with Bellamy on Jaha?”

I grimaced, “I’d not like to do that if we can help it. I felt bad enough for doing it to Bellamy.”

“Even if there were no moral conflicts, we don’t have a telepath powerful enough to do it. Nyx and the Ice Pack spy are the only ones that could,” Indra supplied.

“Which means Jaha has to stay separated from the rest of the humans.”

“Agreed. As to what you want to do, give us a couple of days to get the guards set up and we can begin the process.”

“Thank you.”

“Your welcome. Was there anything else that you wished to speak about?”

Hearing the dismissal in her question, I replied, “No, that was it. I’ll leave you to get back to your meeting.”

“Very well, thank you for bringing this up to me.”

“Of course,” I said and left the office.

I wandered into the kitchen and made myself a light meal. I sat eating while I looked out the window. I could see some of the pack running the obstacle course that had been installed. It was rather amazing to watch as they moved about it. Even though they had just learned that they were werewolves, they ran as if they’d always known how to do it. I sighed, a little jealous of what they could do, but I don’t think I could ever want to be one of them.

I saw Dani in the reflection of the window and turned to face her and asked, “Meeting over?”

She made a face and replied, “No. I can only stand so much discussion over logistics. It’s not what I was trained for.”

“Oh, what were you trained for,” I asked, instantly curious.

She took a seat and plucked an apple out of the fruit bowl and took a bite out of it before she answered, “Most of it I can’t talk about. I’m a part time courier for Lexa, since I’m one of the fastest wolves in the pack. If there’s time sensitive information that another pack needs, I’m the one she sends to do it.”

“Wouldn’t using a vehicle be faster?”

“Sometimes, yeah, it would. But there are a multitude of issues that may spring up just using a vehicle. Most of the roads have been reclaimed by the forest, so travel is more difficult. If the vehicle hasn’t been properly maintained, it could break down and I’d be stuck until a mechanic could reach me. Delaying the information. So, it’s faster just to use a wolf courier, because there’s no chance of a delay.”

“I get it. What else can you tell me about your job?”

“Um, I’m a military strategist and air mage which are the only things I can tell you, I’m afraid.”

“Fair enough.”

“Can I ask you a question?”

“I guess,” I said shrugging.

“It’s gonna sound weird, but what was it like to go this long and not know that you had powers and suddenly discover that you do?”

I chuckled, “That is a very good question. It was a complete and total shock. None of us realized that this could even exist outside of fiction. I guess you could say that coming out of the bunker possibly jumped started our powers and that they had lain dormant. I think it would have freaked everyone out if someone had suddenly shifted into a werewolf or if someone used a power. But I think that was a good thing. We’d probably be dead if it had happened.”

“See, that’s something that is real hard to grasp for us,” she said leaning forward. “We’re born with these powers, so it’s as natural as breathing.”

“I’m still getting used to it,” I said. “I’m not even sure if my power is very useful outside of a fight.”

“What is your power?”

“Lightning,” I said and held up my hand and allowed sparks to move between my fingers.

Her eyes widened and she grinned, “That’s awesome! Lightning mages are real rare. I’m impressed. No wonder they consider you their leader.”

“So far, the only thing that’s come out of it are sensual contact and protecting myself.”

She gave me a look and said, “Sensual contact?”

I blushed and coughed, “Yeah. I was accidentally giving off charges to random strangers. They seemed to enjoy it. Confused the hell out of me when they kept giving me grateful looks.”

“Does that still happen?”

“No. I seem to gotten control over that.”

She pouted slightly and made me laugh, which made her grin.

“You have a beautiful laugh, Clarke,” she said with a gleam in her eye that I couldn’t comprehend.

“Okay,” I replied, blushing redder.

“You even blush beautifully,” she said, her voice softer.

I swallowed quickly and felt a different heat begin to rise, which I didn’t think possible especially after what happened with Nyx.

“Um, I really should get going,” I said standing up quickly. “I told my mom, I’d go on rounds with her.”

“Of course,” she said, sitting up straighter. “I shouldn’t have kept you this long.”

I put my plate in the sink and quickly walked out of the kitchen. I took a quick glance back, but she was staring out of the window. Her eyes flicked to my reflection and a small smile played on her lips.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I left the gates. I billowed my shirt trying to cool off from whatever had happened in the kitchen with Dani and trying to calm my racing heart. Walking quickly, I avoided as many people as I could keeping my head down and tried to work out what had just happened. I wasn’t paying attention and I walked into someone. They stopped me from falling and I looked up to see who I had walked into. It was Lincoln.

“I, I’m sorry,” I said as I looked up at him. “I didn’t mean to walk into you.”

He smiled slightly and I could see his nostrils flare slightly, making me back up.

“It’s perfectly alright, Clarke,” he replied amiably.

“Thank you,” I replied and tried to walk around him, but he stopped me.

“Clarke,” he said as he let go of my arm, “I’m sorry about what happened. I didn’t realize that she’d have some kind of break when I spoke.”

“How could you have known, Lincoln,” I said. “You haven’t seen her in 8 years, so you have no idea what she’s been through.”

“You’re right. I don’t know. I wasn’t even there when she was banished. I was in the hospital recovering.”

“You were angry, Lincoln,” I said, looking at him dispassionately. “I get it. We all do, but it’s not an excuse to bring it up in front of people or be that callous.”

He took a step back and said, “Yes, I was angry. You have no idea what went on that day. The only reason why I’m even alive is because I hid under the dead. She did that. She killed my family.”

“Yet, you’re still angry, bitter even. You wanted her to feel what you felt. Well, guess what, you did. Congratulations, you almost got me killed for your effort,” I replied vehemently.

His eyes widened and he took another step back, but I took a step forward and said, my voice menacing, “Thanks to you, Lincoln, Nyx is in a medically induced coma! You wanna know why? Because she fucking tried to kill me and this morning she tried to escape! She won’t even talk to anyone, much less shift! Why? Because you were fucking callous, rude, inconsiderate, and so many other things I can’t think of right now! We fucking need her to get out of the damn mess and now we don’t know if we ever will! All. Because. You. Couldn’t. Keep. Your. Damn. Mouth. Shut!”

With every word I spoke, I felt the lightning surge through me. By the time I bit off my last sentence, lightning struck at his feet and he jumped back as each strike emphasized each word.

“I would kill you if I thought that it would bring her back, you fucking coward,” I said and pulled it all back in, and walked into the bunker.

 

Octavia

 

The meeting was finally over with and I was in the kitchen, drinking a cup of coffee with Sephy, when Dani came running in and slid to a halt right in front of us. She whispered something in Sephy’s ear and her eyes bugged out as her mouth formed an ‘o.’

“You’re kidding, right,” Sephy asked Dani.

Dani shook her head, “Nope. Not in a thousand years would I joke about something like this.”

“You know, he’s going to ask to transfer back to the Southern Pack.”

“Duh! And you know very well, Indra will deny his ass faster than he can say please.”

“Okay. Hold up,” I said, completely confused. “What the hell are you two talking about?”

Dani tried to keep a serious face, but she just couldn’t hide the shit eating grin, “Okay, you know how Lincoln has done nothing but apologize since Indra got here?”

“Uh-huh…”

“Well, he just tried to apologize to Clarke.”

“What do you mean ‘tried?’”

“He did the whole ‘I’m sorry’ line and then he dug himself a deeper hole. No one could hear exactly what was exchanged until Clarke raised her voice.”

“Go on,” I said, completely invested in this story now.

“She started yelling at him about the fact that Nyx nearly killed her and had to be put in a coma. But, as she was yelling, her lightning flared up and she blazed with it, shooting sparks everywhere. Then to emphasize her point about not keeping quiet, lightning shot down at his feet making him jump like five feet backwards each time. The last thing she said to him was that if she thought it would bring Nyx back, she’d kill him!”

I leaned against the counter hard, my thoughts momentarily frozen.

“Damn,” was the only word I could say.

“No kidding,” Sephy said. “Nyx would be proud of her standing up to him like that, defending her.”

“Yeah, she would have,” Dani replied, but all humor had left her. “Dammit! Lincoln should be in the fucking coma, not Nyx.”

Sephy went and hugged her and said, “I know, Dani. I feel the same damn way. If only she’d just talk to us.”

Watching them comfort each other made me realize just how important Nyx was to these two. A sister, friend, lover. They were suffering along with who knew how many out in the camp. Lincoln had done more damage in a few sentences then we did when they killed Jessamine.

Dani sniffled and she said, “I would’ve given anything to see that confrontation.”

Sephy giggled, “Oh, god, you would. You always did like a good fight.”

She shrugged as she let go of Sephy and replied, “So I know what I like, sue me.”

“If I sued you, what would I get? Nothing. That’s what. Nothing, but air.”

“Har-de-har-har, imp. And who was it that insisted on flying like a frickin’ squirrel when they were little? You. A fucking werewolf wanting to be a damn squirrel. That’s just plain weird.”

“Weird?! What’s weird is your incessant supply of beauty products? Who needs twenty different shades of olive toned concealer?! You need at the most only two. And don’t get me started on the hair products. Who do you even go to for that shit?”

“Hey, don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. I need each and every last one of them.”

“No, you don’t. You’re a freaking narcissist. I saw your bathroom upstairs, you know. There’s barely a space to walk from door to shower. You’ve got to tiptoe through that shit.”

“How bout I tiptoe your ass to the moon, girlie,” she said, eyes flashing mischief.

“As if you could,” Sephy replied mockingly.

I just kept standing there watching with merriment until they both turned and looked at me.

“What’re you smiling at, O,” Sephy asked.

I stood up straight and schooled my face, “Oh, um, nothing. Not a thing. Ya know, I should probably take a couple of runs out on the obstacle course. Training and all.”

“You know, that’s not a bad idea, Seph,” Dani said with a gleam in her eye. “I think it’s time to see what this young pup can do.”

“I am no young pup,” I declared. “I’m older than Sephy.”

“Oh, is that a challenge I hear,” Seph said with a feral grin.

I started backing away and they followed. I looked between the two and I knew I was going to get my ass kicked.

“Shit,” I yelled then turned and ran into the back with them chasing me.

We shifted and we spent hours trying to best one another. It’s was a good time and we forgot what we were worried about.

 

Clarke

 

I was finally able to leave the closet I had locked myself in after dealing with Lincoln and made my way to mom’s office. I looked in and saw her pouring over records, making me smile at the memories of seeing her like that often. I knocked and she looked up and smiled, then her faced creased in worry.

“Clarke, is everything alright,” she asked as she got up from behind the desk.

“Yeah, Mom. Everything’s okay,” I said as I gave her a hug.

“Sweetheart, you’re flushed. You’re not getting sick, are you?”

I chuckled weakly, “No, Mom. Nothing like that. I just had an encounter with Lincoln outside the bunker. He keeps sticking his foot in his mouth every time he apologizes. It was my turn to endure it.”

She tilted my head up and looked me in the eyes and sighed, “Alright. He really is not good with apologies, is he?”

“No, he’s not. He just makes things worse to the point you want to beat him up to make him be quiet.”

She chuckled, “Well, don’t do that.”

“I’ll try, but it’s so hard to resist with him,” I said and looked at her desk. “Are those the latest scans?”

“They are,” she said as she moved some of them around. “They’re doing better every day. More of them have started to show a return of motor skills along with verbalizing coherently what they need. Seeing how slow the process is, makes me glad that Nyx gave me an insta-cure.”

“At least they are getting better. Trust me when I tell you that it is such a relief not to see people dying any more,” I said shuddering at the thought. “It was very hard to watch them dying slowly and knowing we couldn’t do anything about it.”

“You know,” mom said, thinking out loud, “it amazes me how effortless these people use their powers. It’s an extension of themselves, like a limb. I wonder if we’ll be able to come to terms like that with our powers.”

“Well, from what we’ve been told, mages like techno mages and healers use their power intuitively. They think of a problem and because it’s all mental, their minds work through the possible solutions and then pick the most likely to succeed. It’s really obvious when you see what Raven and Monty have come up with.”

“I agree. It took Raven less than 24 hours to come up with that disc and only after a brief discussion with that Ben guy.”

“That Ben guy, as you refer him as, is actually Nyx’s business partner,” I told her. “He’s the one that built and designed most of the technology that she used as an Enforcer. Each build was meant to make her job easier and safer.”

“He must really care for her.”

“He does. She took him in when no one would and accepted him for who he is and he blossomed under that acceptance.”

“She really is quite the person. The way she draws loyalty and trust. From what I’ve been told about the type of person she was prior to 8 years ago, she really cares for her people and took her job very seriously.”

“That’s what I’ve been told too. She’s remarkable.”

“Anyway, shall we take a look at our patients?”

I smiled, “That sounds like a very good plan, Dr. Griffin.”

“Then after you, Ms. Griffin,” she said chuckling.

The patients were doing well and we spent the rest of the afternoon just talking. We talked about everything. It was nice to finally get things off of my chest that I hadn’t realized I’d been keeping inside. We came back to the compound right before dinner and I was confused when I didn’t see Octavia, Dani, or Seph already at the table. I sat down in my regular seat and couldn’t help but feel the void next to me.

Finally, they showed up and they looked the worse for wear. They all sported bruises, cuts, and various limps. Mom got up, concerned, and headed straight for them.

“What the hell did the three of you get into,” she demanded as she looked them over.

“We were just training, Abby,” Octavia replied.

“Yeah, but I think it got a little out of hand,” Seph said as she grimaced.

“If I remember correctly, ladies,” Indra said. “It looked more like rough housing then training. Dani you know better.”

Dani had enough presence of mind to look abashed, “You’re right, Pakstoka. My apologies.”

“Hmph. Abby, you don’t need to heal them. They’ll be fine by morning,” Indra told my mom.

“How do you know that,” Mom asked curiously as she came back to the table and sat down.

“A perk of being a were. We’ve been gifted with accelerated healing. Injuries like those don’t last more then 8 hours. They’ll heal while they sleep.”

“Sonofabitch,” Sephy cried out as she slapped the table. “That’s what I was forgetting. God, I’m stupid.”

Looks of confusion spread across the room and I asked, “What did you forget?”

“The accelerated healing,” she explained. “That’s why she keeps waking up from the sedatives quicker than she should. Everything about Nyx is like supercharged. Her powers are all equally strong, none of them are weaker then the other, including her telepathy. Her wolf is bigger, stronger then any other werewolf in the territory. Which means her metabolism is faster.”

“And that means she burns through the sedatives faster,” I supplied.

“Exactly. God, how could I have missed that?”

“We all did,” Dani said. “We were more interested in keeping her contained that we forgot about her metabolism.”

“So, the coma was actually the best thing to do,” mom asked.

“Yes, at least temporarily. We’re going to have to bring her out of it in a few days and see if we can get through to her or if she’ll shift voluntarily.”

“If we can’t, we’ll have to put her back under if she gets violent or tries to get out again,” Sephy said sadly.

This quieted everyone, including Bellamy. Dinner was another somber occasion and everyone drifted off. I went straight to my room, pulled my pad from underneath it, and laid down, looking at the drawing.

I traced over the lines, remembering the feel of her skin and how her muscles twitched when I ran my hand lightly over her. How open she was in that single moment. The realization that she really loved me and I her. In that one single moment there were so many truths found that I wanted to capture. I did, but I wanted so much more than a single moment. I was afraid that it would be the only moment, memory, that I would ever have.

I wiped my tears away when a single drop landed on the page, blurring the lines of her right hip. Sighing, I propped it up on a pillow facing me and looked at it until I fell asleep.

Chapter Text

The few days were up and I followed Abby down into the bunker. Dani, Indra, Octavia, and Clarke followed us, all silent. The bunker, itself, was silent. There were no voices, no hums of electricity, or random bangs from pipes. It was if the world waited with bated breath to see if Nyx would come back to us.

When we reached the door, Abby’s assistants were already standing by as were ten guards with tranq rifles loosely aimed at the door. We stood back as the door was opened and they entered the room. After what seemed like forever, they left pushing equipment in front of them and closed the door behind them.

Abby walked over to us and said, “She should be waking soon. I don’t know how she’ll react, but be prepared for anything.”

“Thanks, Abby,” I replied.

She gave me a hug and I squared my shoulders and walked up to the door. I peaked inside through the small window in the door and I felt tears spring up in my eyes. She looked so deflated, not an ounce of her strength or spirit showed.

I turned to look at everyone and said, “I thinking Indra and I should be the only ones to go in. It would be a bad idea if we all stepped in, crowding her.”

“I agree,” Indra replied and everyone nodded.

Clarke stood at the fringe of the small group and I could see how tense she held herself and the fear that wafted from her.

“Clarke, if this is too much,” I said, keeping my voice calm, “you can leave and we’d think nothing less of you.”

She shook her head and replied, “No. I need to be here. She needs to know that I’m here for her.”

“Okay, just keep your distance please. We can’t lose you.”

She nodded and I turned back to the door. I took one last look and walked through the door with Indra following me. We stayed near the door and crouched so that we would be at her level. After about five, ten minutes of waiting, she started to stir. We held ourselves completely still as she rolled over onto her belly.

She shook her head and rubbed it with her paw, trying to dislodge the disc. She mad a noise in irritation and got up on shaky legs and proceeded to rub her head against the floor in an attempt to get rid of it.

I took a deep breath and sent a prayer before I said, “Nyx?”

Her head snapped around and she bared her teeth. The good news was that she didn’t immediately attack. I put my hands in front of me, showing that I meant no harm.

“Nyx, it’s okay. It’s just me and Indra. We’re not here to hurt you, we just want to talk, okay.”

She stood stock still, growling low.

“Nyx,” Indra said drawing her attention. “We need you to listen to us. If you stay like this, you’re going to go full wolf. None of us want to see that happen, Nyx.”

“We know that you didn’t mean to do it. That you didn’t mean to hurt Clarke, but she’s okay. She’s right outside the door waiting for you. She wants you back, Sis.”

At the sound of Clarke’s name, she stopped growling and started whimpering. Her body language betrayed the pain and sorrow she felt.

“Nyx, you need to talk to us or at least shift back. We can’t help you otherwise and we want to help you. You’re our family and we always look after family, right?”

She shook her head, making us sigh. A thought occurred to me and I decided to roll with it.

“So, you know our asshole friend, right? Well, Indra tore him a new one as soon as she got here.”

Indra smiled fondly and said, “I’d like to think I lit a fire under his ass. I told him that in no uncertain terms was he allowed anywhere near responsibility. I gave him the worst possible punishment I could think of. Standing 16 hour shifts guarding that one guy in jail. What was his name?”

“Jaha,” I supplied.

“Right. Jaha. That’s all he’s allowed to do. He’s been demoted and he’s back at being the lowest man on the totem pole. I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything worse then that, Nyx.”

“Oh, and there’s this awesome thing that happened a few days ago,” I said with a smile. “So, asshole has been making rounds apologizing to everyone on the Council and I mean everyone. The only thing that has done has made them dislike him even more, cuz he keeps sticking his foot deeper down his throat. Anyway, the other day he comes across Clarke. He starts in on his usual spiel about how sorry he was about doing it, blah, blah, blah. Then he goes ‘I didn’t know this would happen.’ And Clarke’s like ‘duh, she hasn’t been around in 8 yrs and you don’t know what she’s been through.’ He’s like, ‘I was in the hospital recovering when she was banished.’ Oh, that really started to tick her off. She calls him callous, btw I think that’s her favorite word at the moment, and that he was angry. He admits that he was angry and tries to lay on the guilt, you know garner sympathy. She was not having it, no sir, and now she’s real mad by this time. She tells him that he only wanted to make her feel what he had felt and that in the process shit turned ugly. Tells him that because he was rude, callous, see there’s that word again, inconsiderate, asshole, forced us into this current situation. By the time she gets to the end, she’s shooting lightning at his feet making him jump back to get her point across. The the piece de resistance, she told him that if it would bring you back, she’d kill him. Straight up, Sis. No lie. She’d kill him for you.”

I looked over at her after I’d finish my story and saw that she had sat down with her head cocked to the side, listening.

“When Dani and I heard what she’d done,” I said, still smiling, “we could not stop laughing our asses off. We hated that we weren’t there for the fireworks and there were fireworks. She did you proud, you know. She made us all proud of how she stood up to him. Oh, and Dani and I started baiting each other again. We ended up dragging Octavia into it. I think we damaged the back training arena. Oops.”

She shook her head in disappointment.

“I know. I’m sorry, but we fixed it. Sorta. Hey, you know you’re doing real good, right?”

She scratched behind her ear in irritation and looked at me balefully.

“Oh, right, that,” I said apologetically. “I don’t know if you remember, but you tried to get loose. You blew the door to your other room open and damaged the bunker on your way out. When we got you back here, Ben and Raven came up with a disc that would prevent you from using your powers. That’s that thing you keep trying to take off. The only thing it allows you is low level telepathy so that you can talk to us and the ability to shift. We had to do it to keep everyone safe. The plus side to that fiasco is that we don’t have to hide our abilities from the humans anymore.”

She had a hang dog expression and Indra said, “I know you’re sorry about that, Nyx, but it inspired Clarke to find a way to educate the humans about what happened on the surface when they went into the bunker 83 years ago. The classes start this afternoon. Now, listen to me, Nyx. We can see that you’ve come out of that hellhole he put you in. I need you to do us a favor, okay? It’s really important. I need you to shift. I need you to shift so that we don’t lose you. Can you do that for me? For us?”

She looked at the two of us and shook her head. She then got up and walked to a corner where she sat down and faced the corner.

“Well, that’s a no,” I said sighing. “Nyx, will you at least talk to us?”

Her only answer was to place her head directly into the corner, nose pointing downward.

Indra got up and stretched her legs, “I think that’s all we’re going to get out of her today, Persephone.”

I got up and did the same. I looked at her and felt a single tear slide down my face. I absently wiped the tear away and then looked at Indra. She had the same look of sorrow that I felt.

“Come on, let’s go,” I said and left the room.

We walked to Abby’s office and everyone crowded into it.

“How’d it go,” she asked.

“She’s out of the memory/nightmare,” I replied. “She was able to understand what we told her and used body language to convey her response.”

“That’s a good thing,” she said. “It means the episode is past and she’ll start to recover.”

“I got the feeling she doesn’t want to recover.”

“Why do you say that?”

“When I told her that she needed to shift, her answer was to shake her head and sat in a corner not looking at us,” Indra replied. “She even refuses to talk. I tried to speak to her telepathically, but she’s still blocking. She knows that if she starts talking that way, it’ll open her up to Lexa’s command.”

“Thus allowing Lexa to make her shift,” Abby replied.

“Exactly.”

“Do I need to put her back into a coma?”

“No,” Indra answered. “Since she made no effort to make any kind of aggressive move there’s no need. Just in case, though, I’ve left a guard with a quadruple dosage of tranq darts. They’ll use them if there’s a need to.”

Abby nodded, “I guess the only thing that can be done from here, is to keep trying. What got her to respond anyway?”

“We told her about what’s been happening to Lincoln. The forced guard duty and what happened during Clarke’s encounter with him the other day,” I replied. “Also told her the reason why she was scratching behind her ear. She responded pretty well to that tidbit.”

“My suggestion would be to talk to her like that. Tell her about what happened the day before. Funny anecdotes. Things of that nature. Maybe keeping her in the loop will be beneficial.”

“Well, it certainly won’t hurt,” I said. “We’ll keep the visits to only on or two of us, so we don’t overwhelm her.”

“Sounds like you’ve got yourself a plan.”

“Now, it’s back to the world of training and reports,” Indra said and we all groaned in unison, even Clarke.

We said our goodbyes and like good little trainees, followed Indra back to the compound.

Chapter Text

I washed up after lunch and headed down to the bunker. Kane and I would be the first two Council members to lead the class. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, but it had to be done. Someone had to be first.

I met Kane outside the classroom door and when he saw me, he asked, “You ready for this?”

“No, but it’s like a band-aid. You just have to rip it off in one motion and get it over with.”

“True, but we have 10 band-aids to rip off.”

“I think after the first five we won’t dread it as much,” I said with a small smile.

He smiled back at me and said, “That’s the Griffin spirit. They should be here shortly. Why don’t we go inside and make sure it’s set up.”

“Sure. And also make sure that there’s nothing in there to be used as a weapon beyond the seats.”

“Exactly,” he said and opened the door.

We did a little walk through and when we were done setting up the presentation, the first class arrived. They filed in looking at us and then back at the guards that stood by the door. I tried to give them a reassuring smile as Kane nodded in greeting. When the last of the humans arrived, one of the guards told me that they’d be right outside. I nodded and he left, closing the door.

As soon as he left, one of them asked, “What’s going on, Clarke?”

“Yeah, why are we here,” another asked.

“Are the rumors true,” asked another.

Kane held up his hands to stem the questions and said, “It’s alright. That’s why we’re here. To help you understand what’s happening.”

“What rumors are you asking about,” I asked.

“The rumors that these people can turn into wolves and have superpowers,” someone said.

“Those rumors are true. The people whose lands we are on are called the Forest Pack. They are werewolves and they do have powers.”

There was a sharp intake of breath and they looked at us with wide fearful eyes.

“They are not like what we’ve seen in old movies or fictional novels. They don’t go out terrorizing innocent people or killing them. They’re much like us except for the fact that they consume a large amount of fresh meat.”

“What kind of powers do they have,” a voice in the back asked.

“Different kinds, but don’t worry, we’ll get into that a little later,” I said.

“Now to the reason why you’re here,” Kane said. “A lot has changed since our people sealed the bunker 83 years ago. We’ve been able to collect information that will help you understand what’s going on. So, please, save your questions until the end.”

I turned on the video screen as Kane turned down the lights. As the video progressed, many of them sat mesmerized as they watched. There were the appropriate noises when they began hearing how humans became a subspecies and started dying off. They became irritated at how humans were portrayed, which we expected. At the end of the video, the lights came on and the questions started.

“Quiet,” Kane boomed. “We know you have a lot of questions and we want to answer them, but we need you to cooperate and ask one at a time.”

They grumbled, but one of them asked, “Is that video accurate?”

I nodded, “It is. From what the Apex understand of their own history and as it was written down. This is what happened. Something in the air genetically mutated the humans DNA and created wereanimals and mages. The humans have been dying off, but they are not sure why. We do have another presentation done by a healer who works exclusively on humans and has begun studying the reasons why.”

“Why are you referring to everyone as humans? Aren’t you like us with no powers?”

“No, I’m not. I’m Apex. I’m not a werewolf, but I do have a power. Now, we’re not sure why some of us came out with powers when we exited the bunker, we only know we did. We can only guess that the radiation started leaking about 25 years ago and started altering our DNA. So, some of us are werewolves and mages.”

“Are you an Apex, Kane?”

“Yes, but I’m a werewolf. There’s no pattern as to who is a mage and who’s a werewolf. From our people, there are 14 werewolves and 10 mages. The people that you chose to lead our people are all either werewolves or mages, with the exception of Bellamy. We chose him to represent you.”

“Does that mean that everyone locked up in the bunker are human?”

“Yes it does. And the reason why you are here and not on the surface is because there have been incidents that put our small number of Apex in danger,” I answered.

“So, even here Apex are treated with more respect than the rest of us.”

“Unfortunately, that’s correct. The Forest Pack’s liaison determined that we were in danger and as per her orders to keep Apex safe, had to call in reinforcements and place you under house arrest in the bunker.”

“She wasn’t happy about doing it,” Kane said. “Both herself and the leader of the Forest Pack wanted to keep it peaceful. They’re still hopeful that we can come up with a way to coexist.”

“What about the people who got sick? Will they continue to die?”

“No. They created a neurotoxin that’s meant to incapacitate Apex for a short period of time. They didn’t know that we were humans and they never bothered to test the effects it may have on them. When they learned what it had done, they began working on a cure. Those that were affected by the toxin have all received the cure and are on their way to a full recovery. I’m here because of the cure.”

“Are the rest of the Council better as well?”

“They are. We do have a presentation to show you exactly how the cure works, but it does have an unusual side effect.”

“What’s the side effect?”

“Some of those that were affected by the neurotoxin and then received the cure will become Apex,” I replied. “Just like my mother and Kane. We don’t know who will change and who will stay human. It’ll be at least another three weeks before we’ll start seeing the change on the brain scans.”

“Can you show us?”

“Of course. What you’re about to see is a simulated brain scan of someone affected by the neurotoxin and then given the cure.”

We started it off and then stopped it when the brain became clear.

“This is where the cure has succeeded and people are fully recovered. As you can see, it takes roughly a month. With what my mother and Jackson have seen in those recovering, this is an accurate depiction.”

As we progressed, the areas began to become active until there was a steady bright color.

“The computer calculated that there was a 60-85% chance of our people becoming Apex.”

“Which means that at least half of them will become Apex.”

“That’s right.”

“Will we begin dying off like the rest of the humans that have been on the surface?”

“We don’t know the answer to that question. If we’re at the beginning of where Apex began appearing, it’ll be at least 25 years before a we see any drastic results, if there are any. So, it’s safe to theorize that most of us will be in our fifties or older when if it begins to happen or if any of the children that are born during the next 25 years will also be affected.”

“What’s causing them to die?”

“Here, let’s show you the study that the healer has conducted. She promised that she’s kept it in laymen’s terms without all the scientific words that we don’t understand,” Kane said.

True to her word, Scarlett kept it simple enough to understand ending that there was no way to predict who would die. Children, adults, and geriatrics have all succumbed to heart failure.

“Well, at least it’s not a horrible way to go, unlike dying from the neurotoxin,” someone said.

“It still sucks,” someone else said and got a small amount of laughter from the class.

“So, out of curiosity, what kind of powers do you two have?”

“I’m a lightning mage and Kane is a wind or air mage,” I said.

“Can you show us?”

“If that’s what all of you want to see?”

Everyone said yes and I created a ball of lightning in my hand that showered sparks off of it. They looked on stunned and enthralled as I brought it back in.

“Mine on the other hand, is way less impressive and harder to show since it deals with air manipulation,” Kane said with a chuckle.

They joined in the laughter and then someone in the class asked the one question that I had been dreading.

“If humans are dying off and there’s not many left, what does that mean for us?”

“That’s the question of the century,” I said. “Our camp holds the largest amount of humans this world has seen in a long time. Because of that, the Forest Pack leader and her Council don’t know exactly what to do. Killing all of you would be the simple answer to that question, but none of them want to commit mass genocide. So, your lives are safe. Having such a large community of humans poses a threat to the Forest Pack. From what we’ve been explained, the Coalition, who is their government, may not be keen on having such a large mass of humans in a single territory. If we keep you together, it could seem that the Forest Pack has become a sanctuary for humans to live in or that their amassing an army of humans to wage war on whomever. You could be dispersed throughout the territory into manageable groups. We just don’t know, but we do know is that we want to keep the Coalition out and come to something that we can all live with.”

“And in our case, the truly major hiccup is how do we survive if no one sees us as having authority.”

“Yes. Staying here may afford you the ability to survive, but you’d have to rely either on yourselves or the kindness of a pack. As it stands right now, you’re technically ‘owned’ by the Manassas Pack in order to ensure your safety at the moment. That’s what many of the humans outside of the pack territories have done to survive, become slaves to the Apex. Not a pleasant thought or experience. It leaves them at the mercy of their ‘masters.’ Ugh, I really hate having to describe it that way. Makes me feel like we’re back in the 1800s and not in the 22nd Century.”

“We don’t like it either.”

“The purpose for this class,” Kane said, “is to educate everyone on what happened after the apocalypse and have these kinds of discussions. The Forest Pack does not want to harm any of you and would rather have a peace summit to discuss your future. They want to make sure you’re safe and that you survive for ever how long possible. But at the same time, they want to make sure you won’t harm the Apex that are here. You vastly outnumber us. We could easily kill all of you and that is not what we want to do. So, please, we know that you’re going to be questioned by everyone else, try to drive home the fact that we don’t want to harm anyone and that we are working on a goal that saves everyone.”

“We know that there will be people that hate this, hate us,” I said. “Especially, when they learn that people without powers, humans, are treated like garbage outside this camp. Like Kane said, we want everyone to be safe and end this so that we can all get on with our lives.”

“I have one last question. What’s happened to Jaha if he’s fully recovered?”

I sighed, but it was Kane who answered, “He threatened the lives of Apex and the council. Because of his threats he’s been put into solitary until such time as he is willing to accept the way the world works now. He presents a danger to everyone, not just Apex.”

“And Bellamy is our representative?”

“Yes,” I replied. “If you have questions or concerns, he is the person you go to so that they may be brought to the Council’s attention. Whatever issues you have, we will treat them with respect and try to come up with an amicable solution.”

“Well, you’ve never done us any wrong, Clarke, so I think it’s safe to say that we can respect that.”

“Thank you.”

“Now, if there are no more questions, I’m afraid our time is up and you’ll be escorted back.”

They got up and filed out the door. I breathed a sigh of relief and sat on the desk.

“That went a lot better than I hoped,” Kane said.

“You and me both,” I replied. “I was expecting a lot more disdain and anger.”

“I think it helped that we were truthful and didn’t try to sugarcoat anything.”

“It could be. It’s something that we should pass on to the other Council members when it’s their time to lead the class.”

“I agree. Do you think we should convene a council meeting to discuss what transpired?”

“I guess. Hopefully, we can keep it short and sweet. I’m getting tired from the tension I had during the class.”

He chuckled, “I completely understand that feeling. I’ll set up the meeting. You should go get something to eat.”

“Sounds good. I’ll see you in a bit.”

I got up and left, heading back to the compound. The council meeting went well and everyone came out of it more relaxed. Bellamy grumbled about having the possibility of enduring hours of listening to people lodge complaints, but was also grateful that we entrusted him to get the job done. He seemed to need a lot of that kind of reassurance and none of us would deny him that until he built up enough confidence that he didn’t need the constant reminders.

 

The next morning, I snuck out of the compound to see Nyx. I couldn’t put it off any longer. I needed to see her and talk to her. I didn’t want to continue to be afraid of her. I cornered the Chef who prepared the meals for the pack and left carrying a basket of seared steaks and a small breakfast for myself.

When I neared her door, I hesitated, suddenly unsure of myself. But I gritted my teeth and the guards let me in. I stayed by the door and watched Nyx for a little while. It was weird that she hadn’t woken up when the door opened and closed, but I had a feeling that she was pretending to be asleep.

“I know you’re faking, Nyx,” I said calmly. “There’s no way that the sound of the door or the smell of the food I brought wouldn’t have woken you.”

She sighed and shifted so that we could look at one another. She whined at me, but didn’t really move. I pulled out the steaks and hesitantly made my way to the middle of the space between us. She got up and walked backwards, away from me. I couldn’t tell if it was out of respect of the fear I felt or that she didn’t want to come close to me. I put the plate down and retreated to the door. I sat down and took out my own breakfast.

“Since it’s early, I thought that we could share breakfast,” I said and to prove my point, I took a bite of the fruit salad I had been given.

She cautiously made her way to the meat and after sniffing it, she grabbed a steak and retreated a bit to eat it.

“I had to sneak out of the compound to come here. I knew that if anyone saw me, they’d try to keep me from coming here. I know they mean well, but I needed to come see you. I’m having nightmares about what happened and if you couldn’t tell, it’s hard for me to be here.”

She whined a bit and I knew she was sorry.

“I know you’re sorry for what happened. I don’t blame you. I blame Lincoln. Sephy told you what happened between him and me. When it was over, the adrenaline just left and I felt sick. I hid in a closet so that I could calm down. It felt good to give him what he deserved. I think I even surprised myself that I was that pissed to aim lightning at his feet. I could hear the other guards laughing at the show, but they were laughing at him and not at me. Mom of course, knew something had happened, so I told her. She was rather impressed. And apparently everyone else was, too.”

I took a few more bites of fruit and drank some water before I continued.

“Yesterday we led our first history lesson and Q&A with the humans. Kane and I were surprised how well it went. I think they left satisfied with our answers. I know that yesterday was probably a fluke and we had the ones that were pretty much open minded as to what was going on. I even demonstrated my power and they didn’t freak out as bad as I thought they would. It made me feel better. Then we had a council meeting about what we experienced with the class and told everyone that the best approach seemed to be to answer truthfully and respectfully.”

I paused to let it sink into her as I watched her eat. She’d look up at me on occasion and I could see the sorrow in her eyes.

“I still love you, Nyx. That hasn’t changed. I really want you to get better and shift back into your human form. This is really hard on everyone. They think you’re doing this so that you’ll go full wolf to punish yourself. We know you feel guilty, but none of us want you to disappear, especially me.”

She whined a bit and backed up.

“Hey, it’s alright. I’m not going to push you. I’m just telling you how everybody feels and how I feel. I know you regressed and thought you were back there and I know who’s really to blame. I’m not blaming you. Do you remember that moment where I woke up and saw you sitting there with your knees drawn up and your head laying on them as you looked out the window. I immediately wanted to draw you. You were so beautiful in that one moment and I wanted to treasure it always. I wanted to treasure you always. Still do. I did take the time to draw it, even the tattoos on your back. Which by the way are beautifully done. Your tattoo artist is really good. Dani explained who the people on your shoulders are and I think that it’s cool of you to remember them like that, especially when you thought you’d never see Sephy again and that you missed your big brother. The phoenix on the other hand confused Dani. She has no idea what it represents. I’d like to know what it represents. She was also wondering why your mother wasn’t on your back, but figured she was on your arm sleeve.”

I stopped and ate some more and watched through my eyelashes as she crept closer. I hid a smile and ate.

“You want some of the fruit,” I asked. “I think the mess chef put another bowl in here, if you’d like some.”

She nodded and I took it and slid it over to her. Some of the fruit bounced out, but she got them and dragged the bowl closer to the plate. It was kind of funny watching her eat the fruit and I let out a giggle. She looked at me and I could just make out the fact that she quirked an eyebrow.

“I’m sorry, it’s just weird to watch you eat fruit. It’s like the people who chew with their mouth open. Of course, it’s more disgusting to watch them do it, but not you. Here, he also gave me a big bowl of water,” I said and got it out, though this time I carried over to her.

“God, it just occurred to me. How are you talking care of business now? I mean, I don’t see anywhere that you could use, which makes me think that they put you on a leash and walk you around until your done. That seems kind of embarrassing to me. Very undignified, too. You must be miserable having to endure that.”

She gave me a look that told me exactly how she felt and it made me chuckle.

“Oh, I do have something that I wish that we could really talk about instead of this one sided conversation. How do I put this, um, Dani has been flirting with me.”

She looked up at me sharply and then made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a chuckle and shook her head side to side.

“You’re not surprised. Indra made it seem like she’s a constant flirt, but I haven’t noticed that she flirts with anyone else. Just me. Anyway, she told me that she feels the same pull as you’ve described to Gaia and Sephy. That really threw me for a loop. That’s when she really started flirting. I don’t know how to handle it, Nyx. It really doesn’t help that I kind of get hot and bothered as soon as she flirts with me. Is that normal? Or why is this happening to me? I know you’ve explained that the women you frequently have sex with are the women you love, but I’m not a werewolf. Why am I feeling the same draw to her, but on a lesser level than I do with you? This is all very confusing, Nyx.”

I could tell she wanted to talk to me about this, but she was afraid to.

I sighed and said, “So, you still want to go full wolf, huh? Just leave me here to muddle through all of this myself. You’d be running away, Nyx. That’s not who you are. You pushed through the guilt and pain of what happened 8 years ago. I know that you frequently had nightmares and had to take medication, but you got better because you faced it. You’ve got to face this, too. So, do I. At least I’m making the effort.”

She whined again and belly crawled to me.

“Don’t keep trying that on me, Nyx. Do you know how many people you would destroy if you went full wolf. Sephy, your mom, Dani, Scarlett, Lexa, Indra, me, and my god, Ben. Do you really want to put us through that? Isn’t that just a bit cruel? Selfish? And all because you don’t want to face what happened.”

She sighed and looked at me long and hard as if she was making a decision.

She shook her head and she spoke, I’m afraid.

I looked at her, taken aback by the simple fact of her speaking.

“What are you afraid of?”

That I’ll do it again and that next time there will be no one to stop me. I want to die, Clarke. I don’t want to hurt you like that again. I remember what I did. Sorry isn’t adequate enough to tell you how bad I feel. I hate myself for letting him get to me.

“Look, there’s no guarantee that you will or you won’t. There’s no sure answer for it. You’ll probably start having nightmares frequently again, but this time you’re really not alone. This time, you are surrounded by people who love and support you. We’re not going to turn our backs on you. Even if you do have to start taking medication again to help you get through it. You’re not the first one to have experienced such traumatic events. I’m sure in those long ago wars that people who dropped bombs down from the sky into a crowded town, felt like you do. Or those that survived only to find out that they’re the only ones that made it. Sure some of them killed themselves, but others got the help they needed and learned to live with the memories and were able to function again. You can, too. You’ve proven it already once. Why not, this time?”

I want to believe you, Clarke. I really do. A part of me wants to get through this, but it’s such a small part. The rest of me wants to either die or turn into a wolf permanently.

“And screw everyone else, right? You know that’s the coward’s way out?”

She hung her head, I know. I’m a coward for not wanting to face this, but the guilt is overwhelming.

“You’ve got to try, Nyx. If you won’t do it yourself, do it for us. Please, I can’t lose you. Not like this. I want to grow old with you, Nyx. I love you with my entire being,” I said and hugged her. “Please don’t leave me alone.”

She whined as she felt my tears fall on her fur.

I don’t want to leave you alone, Clarke. I don’t want to leave anybody alone ever again.

“Then fight, Nyx. For us, please fight.”

For a long moment I held her and then I felt her body shudder and suddenly she was holding me. I sobbed harder and she joined in. When the tears dried, I leaned back and looked at her face. There was still so much guilt and pain, but I didn’t care in that moment. I only cared that she had come back to me. I took her head and crushed her mouth with mine, kissing her with a passion I had never felt. She held herself stiff for a long moment and the she wrapped her arms around me and was kissing me back with as much passion. We ended it when we became breathless and were gasping for air, our foreheads touching and our hands running over each other’s bodies.

“You know they probably saw this, Nyx,” I said with a chuckle.

“That’s alright. I guess I’ve done enough wallowing. Thank you,” she said as she brought my head up for a much gentler kiss.

“Oh, god, how I have missed you,” I said.

“I was so afraid that I hurt you so bad that you’d never want to see me again. That you wished that I would die,” she said as her voice cracked and tears slid down her face.

“There was a small part of me that did wish that, but my love of you pushed those thoughts quickly aside. I love you, Nyx Allistar. With all of your flaws. I love you with my all of my soul.”

“And I you, Clarke. You are my everything.”

“Good, but what am I to do with Dani? Why the hell am I even attracted to her?”

“Part of it is Dani being Dani, but if you both are feeling that pull, it means that there really is something very special about you.”

“Don’t tell me I’ve been dragged into whatever Mother Earth has planned with you. I don’t think I’d like a Goddess meddling in my life, especially if it’s as unpredictable as she’s been with you.”

She laughed, “That would be something and ironic. All the women I love are part of a great conspiracy that Mother Earth has concocted.”

“Don’t even joke about that,” I said, slapping her arm slightly.

“My ass is cold and going numb,” she said randomly.

I smiled, “I bet it is. Will you stay you, if I leave and get you some clothes?”

“Mm-hm, as long as I’m not bombarded by our friends suddenly, I won’t shift.”

I kissed her and said, “Okay. I’ll let the guards know not to let anyone in while I’m gone, but you know I can’t prevent them from talking to you telepathically.”

“I’ll just keep them blocked out for the time being,” she said sighing. “Just hurry back, please.”

“I will,” I said and gave her a last kiss before I stood up and left the room.

I informed the guards and they assured me that they’ll make sure no one comes or goes. I thanked them and took off running to look for something suitable for her to wear. When I got back, no one had appeared yet and I was relieved to see it. The guards let me back in and I had to look around before I spotted her in the far corner.

“You don’t have to do that, you know,” I said walking over to her and handing her the clothes.

“The guards peaked inside,” she said as she pulled them on. “Made me nervous. Like I’m on display.”

“Mm, I can understand that,” I said and pulled her into a hug which she returned with exuberance. “Now, we need to talk about what happens next, Nyx.”

“I don’t think I’m comfortable yet leaving this room. I’m not ready to face everybody,” she said as she sat back on the ground.

“Okay. That’s probably what my mom would suggest. I would also suggest we keep the disc inhibitor on you for a while longer, in case there’s any flare ups.”

She nodded, “That would be smart. Though it feels weird not to feel my powers.”

“Yeah, Kane didn’t like it either.”

She chuckled.

“I am going to have to change rooms, though. I need a toilet and sink. No mirrors though.”

I nodded, “I’ll have mom arrange it.”

She pulled me to her so that I sat between her legs and encircled me with her arms. I melted into her and laid my head on her shoulder, enjoying the feel of her again.

“I wish we could sit like this forever,” she said softly.

I chuckled, “You can’t be serious. Our lower bodies would lose all feeling in them. Nah, I prefer a bed.”

She chuckled and moved my hair aside so that she could kiss my neck. I leaned into her and turned my neck to allow her more access. One hand slid under my shirt and traveled until she was cupping my breast. Her other arm tightened to bring me closer. I closed my eyes in pleasure as she teased the spot behind my ear. I reached up and held her head as I moved slightly away from her and brought her lips to mine. I decided that the way we were wasn’t enough, so I turned and faced her, bringing her mouth to mine once more. Her hands slid around my back, pulling me close as my arms encircled her neck and my fingers weaved themselves in her hair. She broke the kiss and her mouth traveled down my throat, nipping it lightly making me shiver. I gasped when she found a sensitive spot and then she continued downward, leaning me back. I felt the familiar pull and wanted her to never stop what she was doing.

The world had other plans for us, though. My communicator went off, making Nyx pause.

“Forget it. Whoever it is can wait,” I said breathlessly.

She continued, but it went off again.

“You should answer, niron,” she said as she lifted her face to look at me.

Niron?

“Lover,” she replied with a smile that made me blush.

Again the damn thing went off. I sat up straighter and growled in frustration, but stopped what I was doing and answered the damn thing.

“What is it,” I said in irritation.

“Clarke, where are you,” mom’s voice asked. “No one knows where you are.”

I leaned my head on her chest and felt a low chuckle vibrate through it.

“I’m with Nyx,” I answered.

“You’re where,” my mother screeched loud enough that I pulled it away from us. “Did you lose your mind, Clarke?! Nyx is dangerous!”

“Geez, Mom. Thanks for the vote of confidence. Nyx at this moment is not dangerous.”

Nyx decided to take the opportunity that I presented her and began kissing the back of my neck, making me close my eyes and shudder in pleasure.

“Oh, of course she’s not,” she said exasperated. “You know very well that can change any second.”

I pushed her slightly away and looking at her, I quirked an eyebrow in question. She shook her head with a smile and took the hand that I pushed her back with and kissed the palm. She was really starting to make me forget how to think coherently. With a heavy sigh, I took my hand away and pushed her against the wall to keep her away from me while I talked with Mom. I shook my head at her and she pouted, but stayed put.

“Mom, look,” I said as calmly as I could muster, “I came down here without telling anyone because they would’ve freaked like you’re doing now. It’s been a week and I needed to see her. Confront my fear. I had a heart to heart talk with her over breakfast. She willingly started talking to me and shifted. We’ve been talking.”

“She did what,” she screeched again and we both winced at the feedback.

Nyx must have had more sensitive hearing because she covered her ears as she shook her head to clear it of the noise. I leaned over and kissed her briefly in sympathy and turned my attention back to mom.

“She has shifted and she is talking in a coherent and clear manner,” I told her and rolled my eyes, making Nyx giggle.

I smacked her, which made her giggle harder.

“Is that Nyx,” mom asked.

I sighed, “Yes, Mom. She’s just being silly.”

I smiled when she suddenly pouted, so I reached over and tweaked her nose and made her laugh. Satisfied, I turned my back to her and she immediately wrapped her arms around my waist and pulled me to her. I leaned back and she just laid her chin on my shoulder.

“Alright,” she said. “I’m coming down. Don’t either of you move, do you understand me?”

“Yes, Mom. I understand. Just don’t tell anyone yet, please. She doesn’t want to be rushed by people or voices.”

“At least she’s smart about that. I’ll be there shortly.”

“Alright,” I said and laid the communicator on the ground next to us. “You know, she’s going to think you’ve lost your marbles, giggling like that.”

“You shouldn’t have rolled your eyes at me,” she said as she nipped my earlobe.

“Stop that,” I said, but didn’t move away. “We have to be serious right now. Grown up. We have to adult.”

“Oh, I’ll adult alright,” she whispered. “I’ll adult you right out of your clothes.”

“Not two hours back and you’re already trying to get me undressed.”

“To be fair, you were making it really easy,” she said chuckling.

“Hmph. Okay, I missed you. All of you,” I said as I relaxed into her.

“I must be doing something right, if you missed me after only a week.”

“Oh, hush,” I replied. “It’s been a very stressful week.”

“And you need to get rid of the stress and tension.”

“Exactly.”

“You could always ask Dani to help you with that. She has some very magic fingers and what she can do with wind, mmm, you’d love it,” she said dreamily.

“I do not need to hear about your sexual escapades with Dani, Nyx.”

She smiled, “Why? Making you jealous? Or is it that you’re starting to fantasize?”

“Nyx, knock it off,” I said huffing, “This is getting out of hand.”

She sighed and gave me a quick peck on the head, “You’re right. I’m sorry. I’ll behave.”

“Good, because Mom should be here any second.”

“I’m in trouble, aren’t I?”

“We both are, so brace yourself.”

We sat silently as we waited and did nothing more than take comfort from one another. I felt her chest begin to vibrate, almost like she was going to growl, but it was much softer and pleasant.

“Nyx, why is your chest vibrating,” I asked her confused.

It immediately stopped when she replied, “My chest was vibrating?”

I nodded, “Yeah. Almost like a growl, but very different. It was actually quite pleasant.”

“Huh. No one’s ever told me that my chest vibrates like that. Wonder why?”

“Another mystery to add the the woman known as Nyx Allistar?”

“Sounds like it,” she said sighing. “Your mother is taking her sweet ass time getting here.”

“Yeah, she is,” I said thinking. “She’s up to something. Let me check something.”

I picked up the communicator and called her.

“Yes, Clarke,” she said sounding breathless. “I will be there in a minute.”

“Mom, you sound weird,” I said. “Like you’re out of breath.”

“What? No, I am fine. Just bringing some equipment down with me. It took a while to find everything.”

Nyx nudged me and when I looked at her, she mouthed, “She’s lying.” I nodded.

“Mom, you’re lying,” I told her. “I can tell. What are you really up to? You didn’t tell anybody, did you?”

“Well, I…”

“Mom, I told you not to tell anyone! She can’t handle a lot of people or voices in her head. If they come in here, they’ll undo the work I just did. I can already feel her tensing up with anxiety. Please send everyone away. I’m begging you,” I pleaded.

I really could feel Nyx tense up and she was emitting a low growl in her throat.

“Calm down, Nyx,” I said soothingly. “I’m not going to let anyone near you, okay? Just focus on me. The way I feel in your arms. How good it feels.”

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she tightened her hold around me and buried her head in the back of my neck. I stroked her leg to soothe her.

“Mom, I’m serious. I’ve got her barely calmed down,” I told her. “If anyone else tries to come in with you, I won’t hesitate to knock them on their asses with my lightning.”

“Can you at least let Indra or Persephone come in with me?”

I felt her shake her head no and I said, “Absolutely not, Mom. Only you can come in. I also know that she’s still blocking any telepathic communication, so they can quit trying.”

“Alright, Clarke. They’re leaving.”

I felt her nod, letting me know it was the truth and I said, “Thank you.”

“I’ll be there in a couple of minutes,” she said sighing.

“We’ll be here,” I told her and ended the call and focused on Nyx, “Hey, how could you tell if she was lying or not?”

“Tonal inflections,” she replied, voice muffled by my neck. “I could here it in the pitch of her voice. Interrogation training.”

“I thought something was off. How are you doing?”

“Not good. Just give a minute or two. I’ve got it nearly back under control,” she said as I felt a tear hit my neck.

I turned around and held her in my arms, she relaxed and let more tears fall as she got her breathing under control. A minute later, there was a knock on the door and a guard opened it to let my mother through. I glared at her over my shoulder and she looked at me apologetically.

“I’m sorry, Clarke,” she said as the guard closed the door. “I…it’s just when you told me that you were in here with her, my first thought was to bring people here that could keep you safe.”

“Mom, I’m quite capable of keeping myself safe. It’s also why we have guards stationed outside the doors with tranqs that have 4x the normal dosage. When are you going to learn to trust my judgement?”

“I want to, Clarke, but after what happened to you barely a week ago, it’s difficult.”

“I wouldn’t have come down here if I thought I couldn’t handle it. Yes, I was scared. Yes, I moved backwards when ever she moved towards me. Yet, as you can quite clearly see, I’m kinda over it.”

She nodded and asked, “Can I come closer?”

I looked at Nyx and asked softly, “Can she?”

“I, I think so,” she whispered back. “Just make sure she doesn’t make any sudden moves.”

“Alright,” I said and told my mom, “You can come closer, just don’t make any sudden moves. She’s still skittish.”

She nodded and approached slowly until she was a couple of feet from us and kneeled down.

“Nyx, honey,” she said soothingly, “I’d like to check your vitals. Will you let me do that?”

Nyx took a deep breath and looked up at her for a moment then she let me go and scooted around me. I turned to watch, keeping my eyes glued to Nyx.

“Okay, Abby,” she said quietly, her voice just barely above a whisper. “You can check my vitals. Just keep it slow, please. I’m still calming down.”

“Thank you, Nyx,” she replied and held out her hand.

Nyx hesitantly reached her own hand out and laid it on her’s. Mom took a vital cuff and placed it around her wrist and clicked it shut, making Nyx wince. Mom eyes glanced at her face, but didn’t say anything and just focused on the cuff. When it beeped, she removed it and got a tablet to pair with the cuff.

She smiled at Nyx and said, “Everything is looking good, Nyx. You’re heart rate is still high, but we know why. How are you feeling?”

“Mentally or physically?”

“How about both.”

“Physically, I’m fine. I’ve got a slight headache and feeling disoriented, but I think it’s from the disc inhibitor. Mentally, I’m not sure how I’m doing. My mind feels jumbled and dark and very conflicted. I think that the only reason why I’m doing this well is because Clarke is keeping me grounded,” she answered truthfully.

“So, she’s your anchor.”

“I guess you could say that,” she said unsure.

“How are you feeling now that you’re not physically touching her?”

“Um, just a little bit anxious, nervous.”

“Do you think you could move a bit more away from her?”

“Um, I don’t know,” she said confused.

“I would like you to try,” mom said. “I would like you to move as far as you comfortably can before you need to be by her again. Can you try that?”

Nyx looked at me panicked and I said reassuringly, “I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here.”

She nodded and taking a deep breath, got to her feet and walked slowly away from us. She made it maybe ten feet from me when the door burst opened and a guard entered and aimed a rifle at her. She immediately shifted and dove behind me.

“What the hell is going on,” I yelled at mom.

“You need to move out of the way, Clarke,” she replied. “It’s for your safety.”

“Like hell it is! I trusted you! I’m not going to let you hurt her.”

“Clarke, be reasonable. She’s just coming out of mental break. You saw what just happened. She’s still not well enough for you to be down here alone with her.”

“I was perfectly safe until you decided to bring people with you! Then you just had to have a guard burst through the damn door and try to tranq her! She only did this because you pushed her over the edge!”

“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to step away from her,” the guard said coldly, still aiming the rifle in Nyx’s direction.

“Like hell I am. If either of you take one step closer, I will shock you to next week” I said and lit my hand up to prove my point.

Nyx whimpered and whined behind me and I could feel her body shivering in fear.

“If I get them to go away, will you shift back,” I asked her quietly as I kept my eyes on the guard and my mom.

She didn’t talk to me, but pressed her body into the back of my legs. I sighed in frustration. If I couldn’t get this situation under control, it could be another week or more before she’d be willing to open up again.

“Great,” I said to Mom. “Thanks to you, I don’t think she’ll want to speak or shift again for days or weeks, maybe. All you had to do was trust me, Mom. That was it. That’s all you had to do.”

“Clarke, you don’t know what you’re doing. She could kill you,” she said trying to get me to see it her way.

“If she wanted to kill me, she’d have done it as soon as I came through that door. She didn’t. No one else has been able to get through to her, but I did. It doesn’t matter how I did it, just that I did. So, yes. I do know what I’m doing. So the two of you need to back off, right now. I’m not playing games.”

To emphasize my point, I shot the cart my mom had pushed in with lightning, make everything fly off. Mom screamed and the guard quickly backed away.

“Now,” I said, evenly, “I suggest you two remove yourselves from this room so that I can get her calmed down again.”

The guard looked over at Mom and she nodded. He left keeping his rifled trained at Nyx.

Mom tried one last time, “Clarke, be reasonable, please.”

“I am being reasonable, Mom,” I replied, my voice sounding cold. “I had it under control and you thought just because I’m your daughter you knew more than me. I am 23 years old. I am the leader of the mages. I am the leader of the Council. I gained the trust of the leaders of the territory. Not you. Not Kane. Not Jaha. I did what I had to do, just like I’m doing now. So, I will not ask again. I am telling you to remove yourself from this room and I better not hear you trying to undermine my authority ever again.”

“Clarke, I…”

“Leave. Now!”

She dropped her head and walked out of the room. I walked quickly over and made sure that there was no one else waiting outside. I rushed back over to Nyx and sitting down, pulled her onto my lap. It was a long while before Nyx finally stopped shivering, but she made no effort to move off of me, so I just sat there petting her.

“Nyx, sweetheart,” I said softly. “Will you talk with me? Or shift?”

A soft growl emerged letting me know that she wasn’t ready.

“Alright. Then do you mind if I get a little more comfortable and lean my back against the wall?”

She got off of me slowly and I stood up to get some feeling back in my legs before I walked over and sat back down. She came over and laid her head on my lap. I stroked her as I tried to figure out what to do. The only thing I was sure of was that it looked like I needed to stay down here with her.

“Nyx, would you allow me to leave,” I asked.

She opened an eye and looked at me for a moment then shook her head no. I sighed and began to plan. Since she didn’t want me to leave, I needed to make sure that at least I was comfortable.

Picking up the communicator, I called Jackson.

“Clarke,” he said. “Your mother told me what happened. I’m so sorry. Is Nyx okay?”

“No, Jackson. She isn’t. That’s why I called you,” I replied.

“Oh. Okay. What did you need?”

“I need you to set up a room for me. Bed, bathroom with no mirror, a small cot, table and chairs, and a computer with a video feed. Can you do it?”

“Yeah, sure. Do you mind me asking why?”

“She’s not going to let me leave right now. I feel it’s in everyone’s best interest if I stay with her until she’s willing to shift and talk with us again. Mom pretty much blew up the work I was able to do this morning.”

“Ah, I see. Consider it done.”

“Thank you. Just let me know when it’s ready.”

“Will do and I’ll come and escort you myself.”

“Thanks.”

“I’ll talk to you in a bit.”

I leaned back against the wall and closed my eyes as I continued to stroke Nyx’s head. We must have fallen asleep because when the communicator beeped, we both startled awake. Nyx growled and I laid a comforting hand on her head to quiet her.

I answered the communicator, “Yeah?”

“It’s Jackson,” he said. “Sorry it took so long, but the room is ready for you guys.”

“Great,” I replied. “Thank you.”

“Your welcome. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes.”

“See you.”

I looked down at her and said, “Okay, we’re going to move to another room. That way we’ll both be more comfortable. It should only be Jackson and the door guards outside the door, so just try and stay calm. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you or take you away from me. Do you trust me?”

She nodded and got up. Using the wall for support I stood up and stretched, wincing as I got feeling back into my butt. There was a knock on the door and I walked cautiously over and peaked through the window. It was Jackson and he smiled and waved at me when he saw me looking out. I nodded and turned to Nyx. She walked over and leaned heavily against me when the door opened up. She was large enough that I could bury my hand easily into her neck, which I did and we left the room to follow Jackson.

“Jackson, where are we going,” I asked when I noticed we were moving further away from where the hospital rooms were.

“I figured that the hospital rooms could only provide so much and that your staying here might be a tad long, so I found living quarters outside the quarantine area. One bedroom, living area, kitchen, and bathroom. It’s already loaded up with groceries, clothes for you and Nyx, and a computer with a video feed. That’s why it took so long,” He answered.

“Wow, that was nice of you.”

He shook his head, “I think that what Abby did was wrong in her approach. I mean, I understand that she meant well, but you understand more about what’s going on then she does. If you say that you’re not in any danger, I’ll believe that you aren’t but I’ll keep a close eye on the situation if things go bad.”

“Can you convince Mom of that? It’s like, just because of this one incident and the freak out I had afterwards deemed me unstable and unable to make decisions of my own.”

“It was terrifying to witness, Clarke,” he said. “I’m just glad that the two of you are on the mend and that your feelings for Nyx haven’t changed.”

“Thanks. It means a lot.”

He looked over at me and smiled, “You’re strong, Clarke. If you weren’t, we’d never gotten this far. The council trusts you, it’s time the old council does too.”

We walked further in silence and I continued to reassure Nyx through my touch that nothing bad was going to happen. We reached the door and Jackson gallantly opened it up and let us enter first. He followed us in and shut the door behind us. I walked around with Nyx so she could get used to it, unfortunately it was much what you would do when introducing a new pet into your home. When we came back out into the living area, Jackson was waiting patiently.

I smiled and said, “Thanks, Jackson. This will work out real well.”

He smiled in return, “That’s what I hoped. The mirrors are all taken down. I’ve also removed most sharp implements except what would be needed to cook.”

“That’s good. Thank you again.”

“Your welcome,” he said and then his eyes widened. “Oh, I know you haven’t really had a chance to practice your powers, but I can help you set up a ward over the door so that only you can come through.”

With relief, I said, “Oh, could you? I was hoping that I’d learned that by now, but I haven’t exactly had the time.”

“Sure, just give me a minute,” he said and turned to face the door.

I watched as he walked up to the door and held up his hand up. Closing his eyes, I could feel a little peak of energy and then he turned to me. I walked up until I felt the push and said the phrase. I stepped back and Jackson finished up.

He turned to me with a grin and said, “You’re all set, Clarke. There’s already a meal ready for the two of you. Figured you’d both be hungry by now. Just don’t close us off, okay?”

“Don’t worry, I won’t do that,” I said with a grin. “I’ll keep the council informed on her progress.”

“That’s what I wanted to hear. I shall leave you to it then,” he said and left the room.

I immediately set the ward and then flopped down on the couch and closed my eyes. Nyx jumped up next to me and laid her head on my lap. I absently stroked her fur as I let my mind wonder.

“You know you’re going to have to talk to me sometime, Nyx.”

She huffed.

“You were doing real good this morning. Don’t let this one incident drive us back a week, love.”

She sighed and only made herself more comfortable.

“As much as you don’t want to admit it, but we can’t stay down here forever. We have people that depend on us.”

She said nothing, so I sighed and sat up.

I looked down at her and said, “I don’t like to have these one sided conversations, Nyx. If you continue to act like this, I don’t know what else we can do.”

She ignored me and I slid out from under her and stood up. She immediately snapped to attention and watched me.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m only going to take a shower. Too bad you want to stay in wolf form. I wouldn’t mind the company.”

She whined and I just shook my head. Grabbing a towel, I went and started the shower. I took my time washing, hoping that she’d join me. She never did and I spent the rest of my time crying softly because of it. I got out when I felt the tears ease.

Wrapping the towel around me, I opened the door and found Nyx laying across the doorway. She whined when she noticed me looking down at her. I ignored it and stepped over her and headed to the bedroom. I heard her follow me into the bedroom. I purposefully laid the towel on the bed and walked over to the closet to look for something to wear. I didn’t look behind me, but I did hear her whine again. I shook my head and continued to ignore her as I dressed. I kept up the act as I grabbed the food that someone had made for us. The meat had been seared and was still warm, so I put them on a plate and put it down for her to eat. I warmed my plate up and took it over to the table where the computer was laid out. I went into the bunker’s servers and found the archive of old tv shows. I found the one that I had been watching recently. Ironically, it was about three sisters who found out that they were powerful witches soon after their mother died.

I sat back and watched it as I ate and felt Nyx come up behind me to watch it, too. She would make a scoffing noise when it showed something unrealistic, but otherwise stayed quiet. I got through an episode and a half before I was finally full, so I turned it off and cleaned the dishes. I got a bowl and filled it with water and set it on the floor for her. She immediately gulped it down and I had to refill it. Going back to the computer, I finished watching the episode and found myself nodding off by the time the credits started rolling.

I stood up and stretched before turning it off. I looked to see where Nyx had gone off to and found her asleep on the couch. I walked over to her and scratched her behind the ears before I retired to the bedroom and fell immediately asleep.

I woke up the next day to find Nyx as close to me as possible, still in wolf form. I pushed her away from me, but she only sighed and decided to stay limp. I got up and went to the kitchen and made myself some coffee. Taking the coffee, I sat in front of the computer screen and called up the compound’s computer. Sephy answered.

“Clarke,” she said with a smile, “I’m sorry about what happened yesterday. You’re mom made it sound like you were in grave danger or something like that.”

I rolled my eyes and took a sip, “She would. I wasn’t in any danger until the guard came bursting into the room. I had Nyx shifted and talking until it happened. Now, we’re back to square one. She’s refusing to do either.”

“So, do you have a game plan?”

“Of a sort. I’m giving her the silent treatment. I’m giving her the bare minimum of contact that I can. I’m hoping I can guilt trip her out of it.”

“Is it working?”

“Too soon to tell. Seph, I even tried to entice her to take a shower with me and it didn’t work.”

Her eyes widened in shock, “Wow, I can’t believe that didn’t work. She’s always had a thing for sharing showers. Where is she now?”

“Asleep in the bed, as a wolf. She fell asleep on the couch last night and when I woke up, she was on the bed next to me.”

“Hmm, I wish I could give you something that would help, but we’ve been apart for eight years,” she said sadly.

“I know,” I replied sympathetically. “And I’ve only known her for a few months. I’m just playing it by ear. But enough about Nyx, how are the food supplies?”

“It’s still real low, but the greenhouses are built. Our earth mages are already working on the vegetables that grow fast and the ones that can provide a adequate amount of protein. Your earth mages are working alongside them to learn how to do it. Hands on training. Surprisingly, your girl, Monroe, is really good at promoting food growth. She’s grown a lot more confident in the last couple of days.”

“That’s great. What about the meats and dairy?”

“The hunting parties are being sent out daily. It’s only been maybe two days that they’ve been heading out. The parties are a mixture between our packs, so that yours learn how to hunt on their own. In the dairy department, Lexa’s sending cows and goats out of her own herds here.”

“I’m impressed that she’s doing that. And confused. She has her own herds?”

Sephy laughed, “Oh, yeah. It’s how she turns a profit to compensate for spending her time leading the pack. She’s not just a pretty face.”

“I wouldn’t know. I’ve never seen her.”

“I’m sure you will. You’re taking care of one of the few people she cares deeply for. She’s going to want to be kept informed. It’d be easier to do that vid face to vid face instead of going through mediators.”

“I’ll remember that. Is there anything else regarding the food supplies that I should be aware of?”

“We found a meat packing plant just on the other side of the camp, so that’s where where the meat will be stored. There’s also a dairy farm a few blocks from it. We’re fixing them both up and extending the camp walls to bring them within the boundary.”

“That’s a big relief. I couldn’t figure out how we were going to store the meats and take care of the cows and goats.”

“Figured. We’ve also got supplies coming in from the border packs. All except the Western Pack. Lexa’s investigating the entire pack looking for more pay offs, bribes, spies, and anything else you could think of. It’s slow going for her. We’ve got her two best people that would make the process faster.”

“Who’s that?”

“Nyx and Dani. If you break their duties down to the key jobs, Nyx is the Enforcer and Dani is the Interrogator.”

“Hey don’t be letting out pack secrets, Sephy,” Dani’s voice came over the microphone.

Sephy looked over her computer and replied, “I’m only talking to Clarke. When you look at the dynamics of everything, she is pack.”

“Oh, if you look at it that way, of course,” she said as she came into view behind Sephy.

“Hey, gorgeous, how’s our girl doing,” she said to me.

I immediately blushed and replied, “She’s being stubborn now. And wallowing again.”

She tsked, “That is not good at all. I wish I could help you, but Indra’s got me busier than a bee hive.”

I laughed, “That must be pretty busy. I’m surprised you have time to chat.”

“I don’t. I’m hiding,” she said with a grin.

“Hiding,” Sephy asked. “You came into the office to hide?”

She looked down at Sephy and said, “It’d be the last place she’d look.”

“Or the first,” Indra’s voice sounded.

I laughed seeing Dani cringe and duck behind the chair.

“Fun times over, Dani,” Indra said and Dani slunk out from behind the chair.

“Yes, Indra,” she said pitifully making both Sephy and me laugh.

“Hey, Seph,” I said drawing her attention. “How are you holding up?”

Her face immediately fell and she replied, “I’m barely holding, Clarke. I don’t want to lose her after just finding her again. I’m keeping myself as busy as I can to not think about it. Does she even care how she’s making the rest of us feel?”

I sighed and leaned on a propped up hand, “She does. She’s scared that she’ll do it again and that there will be nobody around to stop her before she kills someone. There’s still so much self-loathing at the moment. She told me that she either wants to die or turn into a permanent wolf to avoid that from happening.”

“God,” she said sitting back into her chair. “This must have been what it was like for her after the banishment. Abandoned.”

I nodded, “I think so too. The biggest differences are that she didn’t kill me and the fact that she has a very large support base for her build on. I’m back to getting her to believe that again.”

“Well, I wish you the best of luck, Clarke. I’m here if you need me. We all are.”

“Thank you. I need all of the support you can give me.”

She smiled, “I trust you, Clarke.”

I smiled, “Thanks. I’ll let you get back to work. I need to check in with Kane and the council.”

“They should all be in the council room at this time of the morning.”

“All right. I’ll touch base with you later, yes?”

“Please do,” she said and cut the feed off.

I called the council room and Raven’s face immediately appeared, making me lean back in surprise.

She laughed at my response and leaned away from the computer, “Hey, Clarke. We were just talking about you.”

“I’m sure you were. I’m just calling to get a status update on everything. I’ve already spoken with Sephy and she’s let me know about the food supplies. How’s everything else?”

“Hold on a sec,” she said and signaled to someone off screen. “Kane would be the best person to ask.”

Kane appeared and he pulled up a chair and sat down, “Clarke, it’s good to see you. Your mother gave us quite a scare yesterday.”

“I know. I’m not happy with her at the moment. Can you tell me what’s been going on?”

“Sure. We held two classes yesterday. There were issues with both of them, but it was handled pretty quickly and no one was hurt. They were more vocal about wanting to speak with Jaha and weren’t happy when we told them it wasn’t possible.”

“Yeah, I figured that was a possibility. Has there been any upheaval in the quarantine area?”

“Some minor upheaval, but the guards took care of it. They had to remove five people and move them into solitary. We’re keeping them away from Jaha.”

“That’s good. How’s everything else?”

“Everybody is training. Our earth mages are working alongside theirs to learn. The pack is going out hunting with them. The rest are usually in the compound working on using their powers to gain better control and efficiency. Everyone is doing weapons training and fighting techniques. No serious injuries that couldn’t be easily fixed.”

“That’s good. How many classes are scheduled for today?”

“We’re going to keep it to two classes a day. After breakfast and after lunch. I think if we add another after dinner would be asking for trouble.”

“Seems reasonable. Anything else?”

“Jaha is demanding to speak with me. Well, what he’s really demanding is to speak with the council leader, but the assumption is that he wants to speak with me. We’ve been denying him. Should I reconsider before he gets violent?”

“If Jaha wants to speak with the council leader, then we’ll give him that. If he wishes to voice any concerns then he can voice them to me, not you.”

“I understand. Should I arrange a meeting then?”

“Yes. It’ll have to be via video because I’m here for the foreseeable future,” I said with a sigh.

“Alright. I’ll set it up. Would it be alright if we listened in?”

“I have no problem with that. In fact, I would prefer it that way. Make sure that everyone’s on the same page so that he won’t try to use it against me or anyone else. Make sure Bellamy’s there.”

He nodded, “Okay. There’s really not much else going on the moment. Persephone, Octavia, and I have been keeping each other informed of everything that’s been going on. We’ll keep doing that until you can return.”

“Good. Just remember to keep me in the loop, too.”

“We won’t forget. I’ll let you know via communicator when the meeting will be.”

“Thanks. I’ll be waiting,” I said and ended the call.

I got up and reheated my coffee and headed back to the bedroom to check on Nyx. She was still asleep on the bed, so I went back into the kitchen and started making breakfast. I burned the toast, bacon was a little crispy and my eggs were a little runny, but it wasn’t too bad of a meal since I’d only cooked five times before this. When I was done, I heard Nyx’s claws clicking on the floor. I put my food on the table and took out two steaks and set them on a plate next to the water bowl. She looked at the raw meat, then up at me, and whined.

“No,” I replied sternly. “If you want to continue to be a wolf, you’ll eat like one. Raw meat, no fruits and very little vegetables. No coffee, no alcohol either. Only water. I’m not indulging this behavior from you. When you’re willing to shift, you can eat what you want. Not until then, am I understood?”

She whined and laid down in front of her plate to stare at it.

“Staring at it, isn’t going to make the meat sear the way you like it. No powers, remember.”

She growled low, but didn’t move.

I shook my head at her and taking my own plate, headed for the table. I ate slowly making faces at how bad my cooking was, but finished it all by the time I heard Nyx grumble and began eating her food. I set the plates aside and pulled up an old computer game of solitaire, ignoring her. I listened as she moved about the room and came to sit beside me. I petted her a bit and then returned to the game. She laid a paw on my leg, but I moved it off of me. She did it again and I did the same thing. This time she laid her head on my lap and put some weight on it to keep me from removing it. I looked down at her irritably and she whined.

“What, Nyx? I’m busy.”

She whined at me again and I said, “What?”

She lifted her head and walked over to the door and then looked back to me.

“Oh, you have got to be kidding me,” I said. “If you have to go, then go use the bathroom. Like a human. Like everyone else. I don’t have time to take you for a damn walk like you’re my pet.”

She looked at me hard and then she squatted like she was about to do her business.

I jumped out of the chair and screamed, “Don’t you dare, Nyx Allistar! I swear to god that if you do, I will use you to clean it up and then shove you in the shower and find the harshest brush to clean you. Then I’ll use that brush and bruise your ass. Do you understand me?”

She laid down with her ears back as I yelled at her and let out a loud whimper.

“Fuck,” I yelled and looked at her. “You’re not even gonna shift are you? You’re going to make me walk you out of the bunker, where there are people, to let you do your business. God, I’m gonna be so embarrassed by this, walking my girlfriend, like a pet, to get her business taken care of. Fine, let me go put on my boots and I’ll freaking take you for a walk.”

I headed to the bedroom, taking my time as I found socks and my shoes. I dragged putting everything on and then heard the noise I’d been hoping for, the opening and closing of the bathroom door. I listened closely, but couldn’t hear anything because of the closed door. I took off my socks and boots and waited patiently on the bed. The bathroom door opened and I heard the clicking of her claws come towards the bedroom. She poked her head at me and whined.

“You didn’t make a mess in there, did you,” I asked.

She shook her head and I smiled at her, “Good. Now neither of us have to be worried about embarrassing ourselves with that kind of nonsense. And if that’s the only time you’re willing to shift, I’ll take it. Baby steps, Nyx. Looks like we gotta use baby steps.”

She gave me a wolfish grin and bounded into the room and jumped on the bed making me laugh. She laid down next me with her head hanging over the side and looked up at me.

“Look,” I told her. “This was good. It really was, but you still have to get over your fear. I know yesterday freaked you out. It freaked me out, but I stood my ground. You need to remember how to do that with yourself. I’ve already told you how this is hurting your friends and family. Me. Nyx, I want the woman I love not her wolf beside me. And the longer you stay like this, the more of what makes you you disappears. Then what happens? When do I mourn? Do I mourn when there is no more humanity? When you leave for the forest? When you eventually die? Or do I mourn now, knowing that all of that will eventually happen? Can you even imagine the pain this will cause us? Or the guilt we’ll carry around for the rest of our lives because we weren’t good enough or strong enough to keep you with us? Or the void you will leave behind? This isn’t just your life you’re talking about here. It’s all of our lives. You’ve made such a huge impact on all of us. Staying like this, refusing to talk, is slowly killing not only you, but us too. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to handle this, Nyx. It’s hard enough now.”

I stroked her head and then got up to go to the living area. She stayed behind in the bedroom as I took comfort in watching old tv shows. I hadn’t heard anything from Kane before lunch, so I made us lunch. This time around, I did sear her meat and mix a bowl of vegetables for her. We ate and when I couldn’t find anything to occupy myself with, I took a nap.

Nyx nudge me awake and I could hear the incessant beeping of either the communicator or the video call going off. I rubbed my face and headed out there. It was the video call. I answered it and saw it was Kane.

“Kane, is everything alright,” I asked as I yawned.

He smiled, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve set up the meeting with Jaha about thirty minutes from now.”

“Didn’t you say that you’d call me on the communicator?”

“I did and I tried, but I guess you were too sound asleep to hear it.”

I looked down at Nyx, but she only shrugged so I sighed.

“Alright. Sorry. There’s not enough to down here to keep me occupied and I’m not in the best place to practice my powers.”

“I understand. I’ll let you wash up a bit and call back in thirty.”

I smiled, “I’ve got horrible bed head, don’t I?”

He grinned, “Maybe just a tad. I’ll speak to you soon.”

“Okay,” I replied and turned off the screen. I looked at my reflection in the darkened screen and saw how terrible my hair looked.

I grumbled and got up to head straight for the bathroom. I ran my brush under the water and tried to gain some semblance of order and pulled it back into a braid. Then I headed to the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee. Nyx looked at me expectantly and I shook my head. She was not getting coffee. I smirked and sat back down to wait.

Thirty minutes later my screen flared to life and I was greeted with a split screen of Jaha and Kane.

“Where’s Kane,” Jaha asked immediately. “I was told I would be speaking the council leader.”

“You are, Jaha, speaking with the council leader. Kane is otherwise occupied with council business,” I replied coolly. “I understand you have some concerns you wish to speak about.”

“This does not concern you, Ms. Griffin. I do not recognize your authority.”

“Very well then. You’ve seem to have wasted our time in setting up this meeting, so I’ll inform your guards that you won’t be receiving your evening meal,” I said and glanced over at Kane.

He nodded and sent a silent message to somebody. I could hear Jaha’s cell door opening and then someone call the guard back. The door closed again and Jaha looked sharply behind him.

“What did you just do,” he demanded when he turned back to face me.

“What I said I’d do. You’ve wasted my time, my guards’ time, my councilors’ time. Therefore, for your insolence you will go without your evening meal, Jaha. Have a good evening,” I replied and went to turn off the video feed.

“Wait,” he said. “Now, wait a moment.”

“Why should I wait, Jaha? You’re wasting minutes that I could use to address other matters that are more important than you,” I said my finger still hovering over the end call button.

“You’re the one I speak to if I have any concerns?”

“I am for the moment. When you return to the rest, any concerns you have will have to be brought up to Bellamy. Who is your council representative.”

He scoffed, “Bellamy Blake? He’s my representative? You must be joking.”

I narrowed my eyes at him and said, “He was voted in by a unanimous vote from the council to represent the humans. The humans have accepted his leadership with no qualms. Now, is there something you would like to discuss or are you still wasting my time?”

He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. When he let it out and opened his eyes, he said, “Yes, there is something that I would like to discuss with you.”

I sat back and replied, “Very well. What is it that I can help you with?”

“I would like to inquire about how much longer I will be held in solitary.”

“I see,” I replied, nodding. “Have you been properly educated as to the history of the last 83 years?”

A glance at Kane showed me that he had been.

“I have.”

“Do you understand what has happened?”

“No, I do not.”

“What is it that you do not understand?”

“The entirety of it.”

“Explain.”

“I do not understand how the earth became livable again after less than 25 years? From a scientific standpoint that is not physically possible. When we opened the bunker, that was the soonest our projections had indicated that the earth’s surface was livable again.”

“You are correct. Scientifically speaking, there shouldn’t have been life so soon after the apocalypse.”

“So, then how is it possible that it apparently happened or is it a big lie?”

“I assure you that it’s not a lie. I can have diary entries, newspaper clippings, videos sent to you that will verify that it truly happened this way. And I’m not talking about the information that is here in Forest Pack. I’m speaking about information that comes straight from the Coalition.”

“So, how did it happen?”

“Divine intervention,” I replied calmly. “Mother Earth no longer wanted to be considered a myth and healed at least this portion of the world. And in using the radiation that was already mutating human genetics created the Apex.”

“How do you even know that there really is a Goddess and not some mass hallucination that is brought in by the very air we breathe?”

“Me, personally? I don’t have any empirical evidence to support this. The wereanimals have a much closer bond with Mother Earth than us mages. They are the ones who have born witness to Her.”

“And yet you believe them? I never thought you’d be one to go on the words of others, Ms. Griffin.”

“I have no other way to explain how quickly the earth rebounded back to life, Jaha. Sometimes there is no simple explanation to answer a question. My only answer that I can give to you is to pray to Mother Earth and hope she’ll provide you with something tangible enough to make you see that it is the truth.”

He scoffed, “Be that as it may, Ms. Griffin. That video seems to rely heavily on faith and very little on science.”

“That is because it is still being figured out, Jaha. We only have theories. We can guess at what the radiation levels were at, but without knowing exactly what was in the breathable air, we cannot decipher exactly how the earth recovered or what caused the mutations that created the Apex.”

“Okay, I can concede that point. Though why did they not immediately begin searching for the answers bothers me.”

“It’s possible they did. For all we know they were either too busy dying or trying to figure out what had happened to them when they first learned they could shift or came across the fact that they had powers.”

“Speaking about that, the sudden appearance of powers. How is it that some of you gained yours?”

“That is something that we are working on ourselves. Luckily we have a record of what was in our air going back to when the bunker was sealed. We’re still pulling data from it. From what we’ve theorized is that around 25 – 30 years ago something slipped into our breathable air, low level radiation or a slow leak. This caused mutations in the children born after that time. We theorize that the changes were always there laying dormant until the bunker was unsealed. Only a small percentage of that age group showed up as Apex. The majority of them are humans.”

“This is all conjecture, correct?”

I nodded, “It is. Our medical staff and Jasper, our earth mage chemist, are working on what exactly happened.”

“I’m not surprised to find out that Jasper is a chemist. He was rather fond of his creative uses for plants.”

“Which is a by product of his power,” I replied. “It’s why Raven and Monty have created most of the technology that we’ve implemented since setting up camp.”

“I see. Now can you better explain why it is that us humans are dying off?”

“I’m afraid I can’t. The explanation given by Scarlett is the best information we have. And before you ask for a second opinion, she is the only healer who works with humans and has actually made the effort of trying to figure out the why.”

“That is unfortunate. So, humans are now a subspecies because of our lack of power?”

“Yes. As unfortunate as it is. Outside of this camp, humans are a rarity to see. From my experience in Old Towne, I didn’t come across any other humans besides Bellamy.”

“That’s because we’re dying off?”

“Right.”

“But those that do exist, are either in hiding or owned like slaves.”

“From what Scarlett has informed us, yes that’s true.”

“So, what does that make us humans here in this camp?”

“The Forest Pack leadership considers the humans of this camp owned by the Manassas Pack and the mages.”

“Which makes us slaves.”

“Only in the way the world sees it. None of us consider or even like the idea of owning people. It’s the reason why we’re working with the de Pakstoka of the Forest Pack to figure out what to do. Having this many humans in a central location is dangerous. Not just for the pack, but for every person in this camp. That is what we’ve been trying to stress to you, Jaha. If word gets out beyond these borders, we will all be in danger. If the Forest Pack is perceived to be amassing a human army or providing sanctuary to humans, some very nasty possibilities arise. If push comes to shove, de Pakstoka wouldn’t hesitate to kill every last one of us in this camp to avoid a violent confrontation with the Coalition. It’s what I would do if my people were at that much of a risk.”

He looked at me aghast and said, “You’d really do that?”

“If it meant keeping my own people safe, then yes I would. I wouldn’t hesitate. Jaha, the safety and well being of my people is paramount for me. That includes the humans in this camp. But I can’t do that if the humans continue to be a problem. If it comes to safety of the Apex or safety of the humans, I will always choose the Apex.”

“I don’t understand how you’d be so willing to kill the people you’ve grown up with, that you’ve protected.”

I scoffed and raised my eyebrow at him, “Really? You don’t understand how I’d be willing to just kill people I’ve know my whole life. Jaha, you’ve been doing it for the last five years as council leader in the bunker. How many people did you order executed because their acts placed the people as a whole in danger?”

“That was different,” Jaha argued.

“Explain to me how what you did in the bunker to keep your people alive is different from how I’m willing to keep my people alive.”

“That was about survival. I did what I had to do to make sure my people survived. What you’re talking about isn’t about survival. It’s genocide.”

“It is about survival, Jaha. Let me ask you something and I want you to think long and hard before you answer me. If one of us suddenly showed powers or shifted, how would you have responded? How would your people have responded? Knowing that this is someone you knew, someone you may have cared about or loved. What would you have done?”

He opened his mouth like he was about to object but shut it when he saw the seriousness of my face. So, he did the smart thing and thought about it.

He slumped his shoulders and admitted, “They would have probably been executed because they were perceived as a threat to the survival of my people. They would have been killed by the people they knew. I would have killed them.”

“Because you would have seen them as a threat to the survival of your people.”

“Yes.”

“That is why the humans are in quarantine and guarded. We perceive them as a threat to our survival, but we don’t want to kill them. The sad truth, Jaha, is that if the humans tried to take control of this camp, they may kill one or two of us, but we’ll end up killing every human. We have powers to make the earth swallow you up, drown you, suck the very air you breathe out of you, electrocute you, kill you with a touch or create a weapon that you’d never see as a threat and use that to kill you. None of us ever want to use our powers like that on the people we grew up with, care about, or are related to. None of us.”

He took a deep breath and swallowed thickly, “I think I’m beginning to understand the gravity of the situation.”

“Good,” I said with relief, but then Nyx nudged my hand.

I looked down at her and she shook her head no. I looked at her quizzically, but she didn’t clarify what she meant. I sighed and scratched behind her ears as I turned my attention back to Jaha.

“Can you tell me what will happen to the people that are recovering from the neurotoxin?”

“The ones that have no power will join the rest of the humans in quarantine. The rest will come up to the surface and begin training in the use of their powers.”

“It’s as simple as that.”

“It’s as simple as that, Jaha.”

“Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, Ms. Griffin. You have given me a great many things to think about.”

“Your welcome, Jaha. I’ll have the guards return you your dinner.”

He inclined his head and I turned off his section of the video conference.

“Before you send Jaha his dinner, make sure that there are two guards with the one bringing the food, Kane. Something doesn’t feel right,” I said.

“You felt it, too,” Kane asked.

“Nyx did, but now that I’m thinking about it. He acquiesced too easily. There wasn’t enough arguing or belligerence. He decided to listen when I showed him that I meant business by taking his meal away. That shouldn’t have been enough. He’s planning something.”

“He also didn’t like the fact that you’re willing to kill a large amount of people to protect less then 50 Apex. Nor did he like the fact that you told him exactly how powerful we are.”

“No, he didn’t. If we let him anywhere near the humans, he will definitely turn the information I’ve just given him to his advantage.”

“Which could be what, exactly,” Bellamy asked as he sat next to Kane.

“Incite a riot at a moment that we wouldn’t expect it. Like say when we decided to release them from quarantine or when they think that we’ve become comfortable in thinking that we’re safe from them. Hell, if he could get his hands on Jasper, he could force him to create something that would kill us.”

“How do you figure?”

“Because that’s something we’d do if the roles were reversed,” Kane answered for me.

“So, how do I handle this?”

“Right now,” I said. “You treat it like we never had this conversation with Jaha. No one outside the council knows about this. Just keep working on reassuring your people that no one wants to hurt anyone, that we’re educating the populace as to what happened, and that we’re trying to come up with a solution that will make everyone somewhat happy.”

“And bring any concerns to the council.”

I smiled weakly, “Yes, that all concerns brought to you will be heard by the council.”

He ran a hand through his hair and sighed, “Then I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing and really limit any contact I have with Jaha or those in solitary.”

“Thank you. I know this isn’t easy, Bell. We’re all doing the best we can.”

“I know, Clarke. Who’d ever believe that we’d be the ones to carry this weight on our shoulders?”

I chuckled, “I sure didn’t. All I wanted to do was become an engineer like my dad.”

“And I just wanted to take care of my sister.”

I sighed, “Was there anything else we needed to address before we call it for the night?”

Kane and Bellamy looked at one another and Kane said, “No. That was it. I’ll let you know how the first class goes tomorrow.”

“Okay. Good night then.”

“Good night,” they echoed and the screen went black.

I got up and stretched to ease the tension that had built up. I walked around the room thinking about the conversation. I couldn’t pinpoint what he had said or that I had said that would have caused me to be even more cautious with him. Nyx would be able to tell me, but she was stubbornly refusing to talk. I stole a glance at her and she just lay on the floor looking at me.

“I could really use your help on figuring this out, Nyx,” I said as I sighed. “You saw or heard something that I missed and I wish I knew what it was. I’ve never trusted the man even though our families had been long time friends. I even dated his son for a little bit, but that’s besides the point. I think I’m right about guessing that he’ll try and turn the information to his advantage and turn around to try to take control again. I don’t really think he believes that we could really kill that easily or that if it came down to it that we would. I know he sure won’t seek answers from Mother Earth to better understand just what happened. That’s the problem. He relies on cold hard facts. The fact is that humans grossly outnumber Apex here in camp. So, he technically has the numbers. We may be small, but we have the power. He doesn’t believe that we have that kind of power, because he hasn’t seen it in person. If we showed him video footage proving my point, he’ll only say that it’s a fake. Not real. So, the question is how do we get him to realize the truth. That we are more dangerous than the humans and that we don’t want to kill them. Or that the Forest Pack doesn’t want to kill them.”

I looked over at her, but I couldn’t discern if she was trying to tell me anything, so I laid down on the couch and groaned in frustration. She came over and licked my face, making me scrunch and turn away from her.

“Okay, that’s just gross, Nyx,” I said as I wiped my face off. “I do not want to be slobbered on by my girlfriend.”

She gave a wolf chuckle and climbed on top of me, making me squeak and gasp for air.

“You’re too freaking big for this, Nyx. And heavy,” I said trying to get air in my lungs. “Damn, you’re heavy. So, heavy.”

Her answer was to make herself more comfortable and shove her snout in my neck.

“Oh, come on, Nyx,” I said as I tried to wiggle out from under her, but she only went more limp and making herself heavier. “I can’t breathe.”

She blew air at my face and I wrinkled my nose in disgust.

“That nasty wolf breath is not helping,” I said as I redoubled my efforts.

Finally, I got myself out from under her and plopped onto the ground. I lay there gulping in air as she looked down at me from the couch, smiling.

“You’ve got to be kidding me, right,” I said as I wiped the sweat off of my face. “Don’t tell me you did that, just so you could have the couch.”

She answered by rolling onto her back and continued to grin at me.

I sat up and pushed the hair away from my face and gave her a dirty look. When I felt like I had the energy, I got up from the floor and glared down at her.

“You know what,” I said as I threw my hands up in the air. “That’s fine. You can have the couch, no problem. I’m just going to grab the communicator and head to my very comfortable, very big bed. And you are not welcome, missy.”

With that I grabbed the communicator and rushed into the bedroom before she could make it to the door of the bedroom. I landed on the bed, spread eagle and cackled in glee. She came in more sedately and looked at me with a sad face.

“Nope. Na-uh,” I said wagging my finger at her. “You wanted the couch, I gave you the couch. The bed is mine. All mine. Now be off with you, stinky mouth. I want to rest before I try cooking again.”

She placed a paw on the bed like she was going to get on, but I shot her down and shooed her out the door. Before she left she looked at me over her shoulder sadly, but I held firm. She heaved a sigh and left. I chuckled to myself and closed my eyes. That jovial moment had been good for me. I felt more relaxed and the tension eased further.

An hour later, the communicator beeped and brought me back down to reality.

“Yes,” I asked.

“Hey, Clarke. It’s Octavia,” she said.

“What’s up,” I said as I sat up on the bed.

“I’m sending someone down to you with a basket of dinner. Dani decided to cook for us and oh, my, god it is amazing. It’s some kind of pasta in meat sauce. It like literally melts in your mouth. The entire meal is delicious. She even made these bread sticks that are infused with garlic oil. The whole thing is an experience that you have got to try.”

I laughed, “Okay, O. Sounds like it’s a meal I don’t want to miss. How long ago did they leave?”

“They should be there in like five minutes.”

“Okay. How was training and whatnot?”

“I finally got to go out and hunt today,” she said excitedly. “It was such a rush. One of the Forest Pack caught a whiff of a herd of deer and that was all that it took. We surprised them and took like five down. I got my first kill!”

Laughing, “Well, congratulations. Good job. Did you use your power to take it down?”

“No,” she said glumly. “They wouldn’t let us.”

“So, that means that you did it using only your skills. That is a big deal, Octavia. You should be proud of yourself. I’m proud of you. Now we know that at least one of us can keep us fed,” I joked.

She laughed, “You’re right. I’m the Manassas Pakstoka and I have just proven that I can provide meat for my pack.”

“That’s right, Pakstoka. You did. Now prove to me it wasn’t just beginner’s luck.”

“Oh, way to kill my buzz, Clarke. Thank you. Love you bunches,” she replied sarcastically.

I chuckled, “That’s me. I’m a buzzkill. I set you up, then I knock you down. But how is everything on your end? Still trailing after Indra and Dani?”

“I’m still trailing them, but sometimes they disappear for hours and when they come back, they’re surprisingly in a better mood. It’s odd.”

“I don’t think that odd is the word you’re looking for, O. You do remember the one thing they’ve been very candid on, don’t you?”

“You mean? Oh, shit, I actually forgot. If that’s what they’re doing. Dani seems to do it a lot more frequently then Indra. She disappears several times a day, every day.”

“Okay, that is weird,” I said as I walked out into the living area and nudged Nyx awake. “Maybe she just needs it more then most, you know. But you’re not having those feelings, are you?”

“God, no. Bellamy would kill me. No, I’m being good and only hanging out with Nate and Seph. I’m perfectly safe with them and no one has really caught my eye. Honestly, you’re the heathen in the bunch. The rest of us are pure as snow compared to you and Seph.”

“I beg your pardon,” faking sounding offended by her comments. “Just because I’m having sex with my girlfriend does not make me a heathen. It’s only hedonistic if I’m having sex with more than one person, which I am not.”

There was a knock on the door and I walked over to peer out the door. I noticed it was Sara holding a rather large basket.

“Who’d you send, O?”

“Sara. Why?”

“She’s outside the door. I wanted to make sure she was the one you sent.”

“Yep. Now that you’re food’s arrived, I shall let you enjoy your dinner. I’ll talk to you laters.”

“Laters,” I said and unlocked the ward and opened the door. “Hey, Sara. What’s in the basket?”

She smiled and held it out for me to take and replied, “One of the best damn meals I’ve ever eaten. Dani sure knows how to cook. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Oh, and there’s something in there that she calls grated parmesan. It goes really well with the meat sauce.”

I smiled and said, “Sounds great. Tell Dani and Octavia thank you for me.”

“I will,” she said and turned around and ran off as soon as I had the basket firmly in my hand.

I closed the door and locked the ward before I held the basket up to my face and inhaled the aroma that was wafting out. Nyx’s head snapped up as she sniffed the air and then bounded off the couch to come at me.

“Hold up, Nyx,” I said as I lifted the basket higher. “You are not eating any of this if there’s only enough for one. Understand? Now, let me put this on the table so I can open it up and see.”

She backed up just enough to let me go around her, but when I moved passed her, she was right on my heels. I put it on a chair and started pulling containers out. Two bowls of the pasta with meat sauce, one much larger than the other. Another bowl of just the pasta, one of the meat sauce, a small container of grated something (probably the parmesan), container of a dozen bread sticks, some butter, and a salad big enough for two with a bottle of some kind of vinaigrette. There was also a bottle of chilled red wine and two glasses.

Nyx looked at me eagerly and I grabbed the bowl that was hers and took it into the kitchen. As soon as it was down, she had her face in it and was already working through it. I laughed and grabbed two bowls from the cupboard and split the salad in half. I poured the vinaigrette over both of them and on impulse put some of the grated parmesan over both. I put her salad next to her and took mine over to the table.

Octavia had been right. The meal was delicious with the bursts of flavors and spices that seemed to erupt over my tongue with every bite. I ended up having a second helping before I could finally say that I was full. Even the wine was good and accentuated the meal perfectly. I was very pleasantly surprised by Dani’s prowess in creating this meal.

Nyx of course, ate every last bit of pasta, sauce, bread crumb that she could find. The downside was that she made a huge mess and I had to clean her and the kitchen up. I admit she did try to help clean up, taking a rag and wiping the floor with it under her paw. When everything was cleaned and put away, Nyx immediately went into a food coma and fell asleep on the couch and I drowsily watched old tv shows with a few more glasses of wine.

The computer chimed breaking through the tv show I was watching. I answered and was surprised to see Dani on the other end. She smiled wide when she saw me and I couldn’t help but smile in return.

“Dani,” I carefully said through the alcoholic buzz, “this is pleasantly unexpected.”

She blushed lightly and replied, “I was just wanting to check on how the two of you were doing.”

“We’re doing okay,” I replied. “Thank you for the meal. I’ve never eaten something that delicious before. It was perfect.”

Her blushed deepened and she looked down and replied, “I’m glad you liked it. I thought it would be a great way to show my appreciation for what you’re doing there.”

“Well, your appreciation is greatly noted and this wine is just the icing on the cake. Where can I get some more?”

She laughed, “I’ll make sure to get you a few bottles when I go home. My family makes the wine.”

I looked at her in surprise and said, “Wait a minute? You’re family makes wine?”

She nodded, “We do. We have a vineyard southwest of here. A lot of the first tiered families have a special way to bring money into the pack and our homes.”

“So, Lexa’s is dairy herds. Your’s is wine. Do the Allistars’ have their own specialty?”

“They do,” she replied with a smile. “They’re the artisans. Nyx’s mom’s paintings are breathtakingly beautiful. Nyx sculpts. Nereus used to make wood carvings. And I believe Sephy also paints. Their works of art have brought thousands of dollars into the pack. You can see most of their work displayed in the homes of some of the more powerful Apex on the East Coast.”

“Wow. You guys are all amazing,” I said in wonderment. “And the three of your families are like the most powerful in the pack, right?”

“I guess you could say that,” she said thinking. “You’ll always hear about how tightly knit the Allistars and Devereuxs are and how they’re the pillars of our leadership. We purposefully make people forget that the Rendons are part of it, too.”

“Why would you do that?”

“My family is the one that truly works behind the scenes. We’re called Trikova kom de Pakstoka. Shadow of the Wolf, or simply Trikova.”

Understanding dawned and I said with a small grin, “That’s why you can’t tell me what it is you really do.”

She nodded, “Yep. It’s why the three of us grew up together.”

“If you are called Trikova, and Lexa is de Pakstoka, why is Nyx’s title only known as Second?”

“That’s what the title actually is; as in Second in Command. The family is also referred to as de Shuda, the Weapon. Nyx herself is usually called Stokripa or demon wolf.”

“That’s because of how many powers she has and how powerfully dangerous she is.”

“Right,” she said nodding.

“This is just mind boggling, Dani. When I stepped out of the bunker, I never thought I’d find myself here or that my life would become so crazy.”

“Do you wish that the doors had never been opened,” she asked curiously.

“No. I’ve spent plenty of times wondering what the hell I’ve gotten myself into and worried that I’ll do the wrong thing, but I don’t regret stepping out of the bunker,” I said honestly.

“I’m glad. I think the world would be missing something if you weren’t in it.”

I blushed and looked away from the screen and she chuckled softly.

“Thank you. I’m not used to people complimenting me like that.”

“I’m sure that the people who care about you feel the way I do. They just assume that you already know so they don’t say it as often. But, you are truly an amazing woman, Clarke. From what Octavia and Seph have told me, you’ve always put your people before you. You don’t ask for special treatment. You work tirelessly for what you believe in. You care about everyone. You never hold back or let things hold you back. You’re special, Clarke.”

“You hardly know me, Dani,” I said softly.

“I know enough. Who else would be brave enough to face their fear alone and succeed where the rest of us have failed. Who else would have stood their ground in front of their mother and a guard that had a rifle aimed at them. I can’t think of anyone other than you, that could have done all that you’ve done, Clarke.”

I smiled ruefully and said, “Well, the only thing I’ve accomplished today is getting Nyx to use the bathroom as a human.”

“Which is a big step, Clarke. I know you’ll get through to her. I have faith in you. We all do. Just keep doing your damndest and we’ll all help.”

I chuckled, “Thanks. That’s all I’m trying to do. I love Nyx and seeing her like this is heartbreaking, Dani. She’s been through so much and has had to deal with it by herself for so long. It’s almost like, because she’s no longer alone, she’s more fearful of failing us, so she doesn’t want to risk it. You know?”

“She sees that she has more to lose now,” she said softly. “She didn’t see what kind of impact her banishment had on the people she loved. Now, she does. The reality of it is what’s making it harder for her to move past this.”

“Yeah. I just don’t know what else I can do besides be here for her and try to break through the stubbornness any which way I can.”

She smiled, “That’s all you can do, love. She’s hardheaded with a heart of gold. You’re just going to have to keep pounding at it until she just gives in.”

“Ugh. It doesn’t help that I want her physically and the only comfort I can get from her are wolf kisses and body warmth.”

“Keep reminding her of that. That you’re with her, but want more then just a furry companion for the rest of your life. Who knows, maybe that will be the key.”

“I’ll try,” I said and then yawned hugely. “God, what time is it anyway?”

She laughed and then looked at the time, “It’s almost 4 in the morning. I should really let you get some sleep.”

I laughed, “I think it should be the other way around, Dani. You’re the one with things to do, I’m just twiddling my thumbs and sitting on my ass.”

“You’re right, but I’m sorry that I’ve kept you up this late,” she said apologetically.

I shook my head and said, “You have nothing to be sorry for. I should be the one apologizing.”

“No worries. Just take care of our girl,” she said with a cheeky grin.

“Always,” I said and we said goodbye.

I finished my glass and put the wine in the fridge. I leaned over the couch and kissed Nyx on top of her head before I headed to the bedroom.

My head was pounding when I woke up and I groaned as I slowly got up. Too much wine. I looked around the room and found a large glass of water and some pills on the nightstand. I didn’t hesitate and took the pills and drained the glass. I set it delicately on the surface and laid back down to wait for the medicine to kick in. I heard Nyx’s claws click as she came into the room and I turned my head slightly to look at her. She was looking at me with concern and I absently patted the bed for her to join me. She walked to the other side and as gently as she could climbed onto the bed and lay next me, her head on my stomach.

“I shouldn’t have drank all that wine last night, Nyx,” I said softly so I didn’t make my head feel worse. “But that is some of the best I’ve ever had. Then again. I think that’s the first time I’ve had wine. For some reason we had champagne in the bunker and some other alcohol, but no wine. I’m going to need you to remind me not to have that much again. My head hurts so much right now.”

She blew a puff of air out making goosebumps ripple across my stomach.

“I know. It’s what I get for drinking. Dani called last night. She wanted to know what I thought about the food. She told me that her family is the one who made the wine. Then she told me that your family makes art to sell. I think that’s awesome that you do that. I don’t think I’d have the courage to even think about selling one of my drawings. Regardless, of how many people love them.”

She grumbled and I reached down to scratch behind her ears, making her sigh in contentment.

“What are we doing, Nyx? Hiding down here while the rest of the world moves on without us. I know I’ve been here only for a few days, but I feel like I’m letting everyone down. They’re up there working their asses off so I can be down here with you and help you get better. It just doesn’t seem like I’m doing anything special to deserve them willingly giving up their time like that.”

She didn’t have an answer to that so I sighed and sat up. She picked up her head and looked up at me and I smiled wanly.

“I’m going to take a shower. Maybe that’ll help clear my head more,” I told her and headed into the bathroom.

Chapter Text

I watched her as she left the bedroom and so wanted to follow her, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It was difficult to even shift just to use the bathroom. And this morning I had to force myself to shift just to get a glass of water and medicine for her. I growled at myself because I couldn’t understand why this time around was feeling so much harder then the other day. I knew I was safe. I knew that Clarke wouldn’t allow anyone to hurt me, especially after standing up to her mom like she had. I knew she wouldn’t push me to leave until I either did it willingly or she felt I was dragging my feet.

I just didn’t know what was going on with me. I closed my eyes and prayed to Mother Earth like I had every day since that day, looking for guidance and the strength to take that first step in recovering. But that guilt. That painful, gut-wrenching guilt weighed more heavily on my heart and I could hardly breathe. It was unbearable at times and I wanted nothing more then to bash my head into a wall, just to relieve myself of that pain. I never could, though. I couldn’t allow myself that freedom knowing the pain, guilt, and loss that I’d leave behind.

That was the crux of my situation. The reality was that if I tried to end my life or even succeeded, there would be so many people that could be destroyed from it. My guilt told me that they would be better off without me. That they’d be freer and would never have to worry if one day I would truly snap and kill them with no remorse until I was done. Hurt them or the possibility of hurting them. Then there was the part of me that said, you won’t know until you try. Maybe this time things will be different. I have the support that I didn’t before. That there were people who are willingly risking their lives to help me through this. They’re not running away but doing the opposite, running towards me.

These thoughts. Theses were the thoughts that ran in my head, non stop. Take that step and either fail or pass. Not take the step and lose myself. Kill myself to end the self-torture. Kill myself and deeply traumatize the people who love me. Kill myself and everyone will sigh in relief. The indecision kept me stuck and I didn’t know how to take that leap of faith, so here I was. Laying on a bed large enough for two, wanting to hold the woman I love, wanting to take up the fight again, and I couldn’t even break my silence to let her know that I heard her. That I heard everyone.

I got up from the bed and nudged open the closet where I buried myself in the darkest corner and wept.

 

I heard Clarke come back into the bedroom and quieted myself so that she couldn’t hear me. I listened as she came up to the closet and searched for something to wear. She closed the door completely leaving me in total darkness. I continued to listen as she got dressed and then left.

I could hear her calling for me, but I couldn’t bring myself to come out. I listened as she became more frantic and doors opened and closed as she looked for me. I could only bury myself deeper, hearing the fear in her voice and began weeping again because I just could not move to let her know I was still here. I didn’t want her to find me, but I knew that she would soon. I couldn’t make myself invisible. I couldn’t use my powers to keep her out.

I cringed when the closet doors opened and sudden light filled the small area.

“Nyx,” she cried out as she dropped and pulled me to her. “What happened, baby? Why were you hiding?”

I wanted to tell her so badly, but I just couldn’t do it. I had no voice. I only had pain and fear. So I wept and I whined and I shuddered. The only things my body would let me show her how I felt. She held me tight and rocked us back and forth as we both fought to end our fears.

“Nyx, please,” she whispered hoarsely, “You’ve got to let me in. You’ve got to talk with me. I can’t help you like this. I know you’re scared. I know you think you’ll hurt me or someone else, but that’ll only happen if you won’t let me help you. Let me help you, please.”

Oh god, how I wanted her help, but I was frozen. And it tore me up knowing that I was pushing her to a limit I never wanted her to face. Not with me. I was broken. Flawed. Unworthy. Unlovable. Dangerous. Deadly. Untrustworthy. She shouldn’t love me. Angry. Hurt. Pained. Worthless. Useless.

I growled and got off of her and pushed her out of the closet. She tried to stay with me, but I only growled more menacingly and bared my teeth at her. I watched as she swallowed down the fear I could smell coming from her.

“Not going to happen, Nyx,” she said determinedly. “I’m not running away from you. You’ll have to kill me.”

I deepened my growl and took an aggressive stance. I was determined to win this, but she was just as determined. I watched as she called her power to her and wore it like a second skin.

“You are not pushing me away, Nyx. Neither of us want to hurt the other. You need to back down. Now.”

I snapped at her and she sent a spark in response.

“Nyx, I know you don’t want to do this. Back down.”

I took a menacing step forward and snapped at her again. She sent a light shock to my snout. I shook it off and took another step. She sent a slightly more powerful shock and stood her ground.

“Nyx. Stop. Now,” she demanded, looking me in the eyes. “Don’t make me do this.”

I only growled more and lowered myself to lunge at her. Her eyes widened when she saw what I was planning on doing.

“Don’t. Nyx. Don’t do it. Don’t make me hurt you.”

I ignored her and lunged. The last thing I remembered was hearing her scream and the pain of being electrocuted. Then nothing.

 

What are you doing, Nyx Allistar, a old woman’s voice said to me.

I opened my eyes, but I only saw light. Was I dead finally?

You’re not dead, child. She got your heart started again.

An old woman emerged from the light and walked towards me.

I sighed and said, It’s you.

Yes, Nyx. You’re doing it again.

What am I doing again, Nomon?

You’re trying to run away again.

I’m not running, Nomon. I’m trying to end this. I’m too dangerous.

To whom, child.

To everyone. It’s not safe to let anyone close to me.

Why do you think that?

I killed my brother. Killed Lexa’s sisters. Killed people who trusted me. I nearly killed Clarke, Nomon. I can’t risk it. I won’t.

Nyx, Echo made you think that your brother and her sisters and all those others were your enemy. You did what anyone would do if they thought that their people were being killed. It was an unforeseen tragedy. You’ve paid the price for that already.

You should have let me die then, Nomon.

Then you wouldn’t be here to broker peace between your lovers, Nyx. If you weren’t alive, Lexa would have killed everyone here and burned it to the ground. She would have never known that the people here are worth saving.

Are the humans really worth saving, Nomon? Our world is slowly killing them and they cannot be trusted not to harm our kind.

You are not the judge in deciding who is worth saving, Nyx Allistar. Your job is save them regardless.

I scoffed, My job is to save them. How? I can’t even save myself. I don’t want to save myself.

I didn’t save you all those times to just have you squander your life away and then run when things got too hard again. Your people need you, my child. I created you because this world needs someone as special as you. They need the people you have surrounded yourself with.

So, you’re telling me that without me, the world will what? End? That the people that I have gathered to me will fall apart and tragedy will befall the world? No one mortal has that kind of power, Nomon. I am not the one you want. I’m not worth it. Just let me die so that they can move on.

That’s my point, Nyx Allistar. If you die, they won’t be able to. The humans in the bunker will riot and your people will be forced to kill them. That will destroy them and they will turn their anger on the Forest Pack. Which will bring the Coalition into the territory and destroy the pack. Everyone and everything you love will be gone, if you die.

Why me, Nomon? Why did you choose me? What makes me so special that my life has that much responsibility on its shoulders?

Because your spirit has shown me many times before the strength, the nobility, the loyalty, the purity, the integrity, the honesty, the goodness and the darkness that is needed in this world. Things are changing again and I need you there to help keep the balance. That is why I chose you. What makes you so special. I know you’ve had a hard life, Nyx. That life is what makes you stronger. The people around you support and love you unconditionally. Allow yourself to be vulnerable with them. You’ll draw strength from those deepened bonds. I can’t make another one like you, Nyx. I really did break the mold when I created you.

So, I have to persevere and push myself past my limits?

She smiled at me and laid a hand on my cheek and said, Child, you haven’t even come close to reaching your limits. Your powers are truly limitless, a never ending well of power. They only reason why you haven’t realized that is because you only thought you had a limit like everyone else, but you don’t. You need to pass it on eventually.

Great, I’m even more dangerous than I thought.

You’re only dangerous to your enemies. You can train yourself to limit your powers around your allies. You just have to will it like with all powers and you’ll never put them at risk again.

Mind over matter. Limitless power. Change is coming. And I’m meant to help keep the balance?

Yes, Nyx. You are my lynchpin and I need you to get over yourself and get back to fighting strength. You still have Jaha to contend with.

How the hell do I even deal with him. I can’t kill him, can I?

She smiled, No, you can’t. Give him what he wants. Show him that the world is a much crueler place to those without powers. When he sees the world for what it is, he will be much more understanding and willing to toe the line.

Very well, Nomon. I’ll stop trying to kill myself and I’ll fight to get better.

That is all that I ask, Nyx. Now let’s forget we had this little conversation, shall we?

 

I woke up in massive amounts of pain and moaned as I tried to take a deep breath. I opened my eyes and found myself still in the closet. I rolled onto my belly and slowly took stock of myself. Nothing broken, just the severe pain in my chest. She must have shot her lightning directly at my heart to keep me from hurting her. I sighed in regret at having to force her to do that. I strained my hearing and I could hear her crying softly in the other room. I got up slowly onto my legs and took a few shaky steps out of the closet before I had to lay down again. I panted until I got my breath back and my heart slowed. I shifted and it was a slow one. My body protested the shift and the wolf didn’t want to relinquish control. I just reminded ourselves that the woman we loved was crying in the other room, because she shocked us hard enough to kill us and then had to bring us back. She backed off and I finished shifting.

Sighing at seeing arms and hands where there had been paws, I slowly climbed to my feet. I treaded carefully out of the bedroom and peaked around the corner to see where Clarke was. I spotted her laying on the couch, crying into the back. I took a breath and walked into the living area. I kneeled quietly by her head and laid a hand gently on her back. She jumped and shocked me away from her. I landed hard against the coffee table and crumpled from the pain. I heard her gasp and come down next to me.

“Nyx,” she cried. “Nyx!”

I slowly raised myself from the ground and looked at her with all the love I felt for her.

“Nyx,” she said again and hugged me, making me cry out in pain.

She quickly let me go and shoved the table out of the way. Unceremoniously, she pulled my shirt up and with the gentlest touches examined my back. Then she made me take the shirt off to look at my chest.

I smiled at her and stopped her hand with my own and pushed them against my heart. She looked up at me and burst into tears. Gathering her to me, I let her cry herself out again.

“I’m so sorry, Clarke,” I whispered into her hair. “I should have never put you into that position. I’m so sorry. Please say you’ll forgive me.”

“I killed you, Nyx,” she said through her tears. “I killed you.”

“I know,” I said softly. “I gave you no choice. I was just in such a dark place in that moment. I forced you to do what I wanted. I shouldn’t have ever done that, Clarke. It was selfish of me and cowardly.”

“Then I, then I started your heart again and you wouldn’t wake up. Why wouldn’t you wake up?”

I thought about it, but there was only a vague memory of something profound and I couldn’t grasp it, so I said, “I don’t know. I’m sorry I scared you.”

“I thought I lost you, Nyx. For good.”

“Wanna kill me again for putting you through that,” I asked.

She shook her head, “No, I think shocking you into the coffee table was good enough.”

I chuckled softly, “That’s good. I’m not sure my torso can take much more punishment tonight.”

“Are you in a lot of pain? There’s some medicine somewhere. I can go get some,” she said as she made to move.

I shook my head and smiled, “No. No, I don’t need anything, Clarke. I’m fine. Or I will be after a few hours of sleep.”

“Oh,” she said and settled herself more comfortably. “Nyx?”

“Hmm?”

“Are you really, really back this time?”

“Yes, Clarke. No more shifting unless I need to, not because I’m trying to avoid something unpleasant.”

“Good. That’s good.”

“You have no idea how badly I’ve been wanting to hold you like this, Clarke,” I said quietly. “I tried so many times to shift, but I just couldn’t. Even now, it was slow and I had to really fight for it. But I did. I did it because I didn’t want to hurt you anymore.”

“Did you do it for yourself, too?”

“Yes. I don’t want to keep living in the darkness, Clarke.”

“Good, because I love you and I don’t want to lose you to the darkness again.”

“I don’t think I’ll be allowed there anymore.”

“Why do you say that?”

“A vague memory.”

“Nyx, look at me please,” she asked and I looked down at her.

I smiled, “I’m really here. You’re not dreaming. I’m not doing that again.”

She nodded and brought my head down for a kiss. It deepened naturally, but there was no need to rush. There was only a need for love.

She giggled when our lips parted, making me chuckle. She stood up and held out a hand to me. I took it and she helped me up and then guided me to the bedroom. It was a long, slow, drawn out night where I bared my soul to her and she embraced it.

 

I woke up to the incessant beeping of the communicator and growled at the annoyance. Clarke tensed underneath me and I immediately stopped.

“Sorry,” I said and kissed her bared shoulder. “The communicator is going bonkers.”

She rolled until she was looking up at me and smiled, “You’re still you.”

I leaned down and kissed her gently and said, “Yes, I am still me. Can I kill the communicator now?”

She laughed, “No. I’d better answer it, though. I didn’t talk with them at all yesterday.”

“You didn’t tell them what happened,” I asked as I sat up.

She shook her head as she got out of bed and rifled through the clothes until she found it, “No. I didn’t have the heart to tell anyone that I nearly killed you.”

She climbed back into bed and I pulled her to me as she answered.

“Yes?”

“Clarke,” Sephy said, “Thank god you answered. I was about to send the guards in to check on you. Is everything alright?”

“Yeah,” she replied. “Everything is fine. We just had a bit of a hiccup yesterday, but we’re doing much better.”

“Hiccup?”

“Nyx and I had a bit of a rough misunderstanding, but we’re okay now.”

“How rough of a misunderstanding?”

“I tried to kill her, she killed me and then brought me back to life,” I answered before Clarke could try to lie.

“Nyx! Is that really you,” Sephy screamed.

I grinned, “Yes, baby sis. It’s really me. Yesterday proved to me that I was truly being a giant jackass and coward, so I decided to stop.”

“Everybody is going to be so thrilled. Thank you, Clarke. I don’t care how you did it, but thank you!”

Clarke laughed, “Your welcome, but you know we still can’t be bombarded with people. She may be back, but we’re not out of the woods yet. This is going to take time, Seph.”

We heard her groan and then she said, “I know. It’s just I want to come down there right now and kick your ass, Nyx. I’ve aged because of you being such a complete and total fucking idiot. Do you have any idea what you’ve done to people. You will have hell to pay. Mark my words. Your day will come and you will be on your ass for most of it.”

I grimaced but replied, “And I deserve all of it. Just try to stick it out for awhile longer. I’m not blocking anymore either. Just don’t yell at me 24/7 like I know you want to.”

“Fine. Just don’t do this again. I couldn’t take it.”

“I swear on Mother Earth that I will not close myself off like this again or try to permanently wolf out.”

“Good. So can I spread the word?”

Clarke looked up at me and I shrugged and said, “Sure. I guess. Just no rushing to see me or talk to me. I’m not leaving the bunker anytime soon.”

“God, Lexa, Dani, and Scarlett will be so thrilled when I tell them.”

“Just remind them not to yell at me too much. I’m still touchy.”

“You know that’s going to be nearly impossible with them. I have also found out that when Scarlett get’s pissed she gets scary polite. Like Southern Belle polite laced with venom.”

“That’s my girl,” I said with a wry chuckle. “She’s the devil’s own when she gets angry. God, I hope she goes easy on me.”

“Well, look. Now that I’ve got you both on the line. There is some news that needs to be passed on.”

“Alright,” Clarke said cautiously.

“There was a riot after the morning class. The humans tried to gang up on the guards that were present. Some 12 strong against 40 humans. The guards had to use their powers to stop the riot. No one killed, but nearly all the 40 are being treated for broken bones, ruptured lungs, concussions, impalement, and minor injuries. We’ve cancelled the classes indefinitely and we’re pulling in more pack members.”

“That’s not good,” Clarke said worriedly. “What was the overall reaction to the riot?”

“The humans are scared shitless. We won’t allow Bellamy in the quarantine without at least 5 guards. He’s not happy about it, but we can’t risk his safety. They’re frightened and some of them still want to fight back. They’re also demanding the release of Jaha. They don’t believe what we’ve told them about how humans are treated and that they’re slowly dying. They think that it’s only a scare tactic to keep them in check.”

“That’s really not good, Seph,” I said thinking. “I wish I had an answer for you, but right now I don’t. Sorry.”

“It’s okay, sis. It’s why we’re bringing more men in. If they’ve rioted, they’ll try it again and again. And when we have our first casualty is when shit will really hit the fan.”

“The worse thing we can do is to shut them off completely. Keep letting Bellamy in to show that we’re willing to listen. Even if they won’t really talk to him without the guards. Hopefully, seeing him willing to listen will give them time to think about what it is they’re really hoping to accomplish. I know it’s unfair to ask Bellamy to do this, but he’s our only hope in trying to convince them otherwise.”

“What if Kane or I went with him a couple of times,” Clarke suggested.

“No,” we both replied loudly.

“No,” Sephy said. “We can’t risk either one of you. Especially you, Clarke. They may see you or Octavia as the ones who brought this on them. And they know that Kane was someone they could trust in the past, but now that he’s one of us, that throws that trust right out of the window. I’m sorry, it’s just too risky. And we sure as hell can’t let Jaha back into the populace. That’ll just get them all killed.”

She sighed heavily and leaned back against me. I wrapped my arms tighter around her and kissed the top of her head.

“I hate this,” she said. “I grew up with these people. They’ve been my friends and now I have to be afraid of them. There’s just no easy way out of this. I’m almost tempted to say let’s ship them out and place them all along the East Coast and shove reality down their throats.”

“Well,” I said, “technically we can do that. But it would bring us under the Coalition’s attention which we agree would be bad. So, that’s not the answer.”

“Wait,” Sephy said. “What if we sent out a few of them? The ones we have in Solitary say. Give them enough food and money to last a week and then drop them down in the middle of Old Towne or somewhere else nearby.”

“And make sure Jaha is one of them,” I said thinking fast. “Show them what it really is like for the humans outside this camp.”

“Well, that would show the ones that we take out of the territory, but what about everyone else. They’ll just think we killed them.”

“Not if we implant them with microscopic camera lens in their eyes. We could give them live footage of what happens to them. If they die, they see them die. If they’re captured and sold into slavery, they’ll see that to. At a minimum, they’ll see that even with what money they have, no one will be willing to take it or if they do they won’t get anything in return,” I said, thinking out loud.

“I like it,” Sephy said, “But would your council agree to this, Clarke?”

“I don’t know. At this point, it appears that what we’ve been trying to do is not working. Maybe it’s time we started playing hardball with them and stopped trying to be their friends. Get with Raven and Monty and see about creating these lenses. And we’ll set up a meeting to go over our options.”

“Sounds like a plan. God, I’ve missed you, Nyx. This is exactly why we need you for this situation. And why we need Clarke, too.”

I laughed, “I’m just sorry that it took this long to get my head out of my ass.”

“No worries, sis,” she said. “I’ll set everything up and we’ll let you know when it’s time for the council meeting.”

“Thank you, Sephy,” Clarke said. “You’ve got a good head on your shoulders. Your mom would be proud of how well you’ve handled everything so far.”

“Thanks, Clarke. That means a lot coming from you. Now, I am going to let you go and recover. I’ll talk to y’all soon.”

“Bye,” we said and Clarke laid the communicator on the nightstand.

“What do you think about this,” she asked me.

“About sending some of them out and then letting the humans see a live broadcast of what happens outside the camp?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s a good one. It’s better then just killing them all or beating them into submission,” I replied. “It proves that we’re just not blowing smoke up their asses to keep them in line. I don’t know what’s going to happen to the ones we send out, but it’ll be the truth. Sometimes you really do have to see something with your own eyes to believe what you’re being told.”

“So, we’re doing the right thing, then?”

“I don’t know if it’s the right thing, but it’s our best option to get them to understand. And we need them to understand.”

She nodded and then said, “Well, I need to understand something.”

“Oh, and what is that?”

“I need to understand how much you love me.”

I grinned, “And how can I help you understand the depth of my love for you, Clarke.”

She straddled my lap and with a grin, told me exactly how to help her understand.

 

A few hours later, I was in the kitchen cooking while Clarke still slept in the bedroom, when I felt a mental caress.

Lexa, love. I’m here.

You really are, aren’t you?

I am. I’m sorry.

It’s my fault. I didn’t remember that Lincoln had been there that day.

Lincoln’s good at his job, Lex. He was an obvious choice. He’s always known for opening his mouth and inserting his foot ass deep. I just wasn’t expecting him and it threw me off hard when I saw him again. And I know you didn’t have the time to send me a roster to look over before they arrived.

True. I’m just glad that you’re here again.

So am I. I don’t ever want to go down that path again. And I still have a long way to go before I can be comfortable again in my own skin. I don’t know when I’m going to be able to take control of the pack unit here.

I understand. Just get better, please.

I want to, so I will. I’m mad at myself because the only reason I’m back is because I forced Clarke to kill me. I had to have a come to Jesus moment to get my head outta my ass.

Jesus, Nyx! Of all the idiotic, psychotic, stupidest shit you could have done, you made Clarke kill you? You are such an asshole!

I know. I know. That’s just where my head was at. It was cowardly of me to do that and to hide myself from facing everything. I saw it, but I couldn’t stop myself. It was just so dark, Lexa. I was drowning in it. I just wanted it all to stop.

Was that how you felt when you were banished?

Yes. I thought I had already lost everything and everybody back then and I couldn’t live with that guilt. This time I thought I was protecting everyone from myself and I didn’t want to live with the possible guilt if I killed people I loved. The guilt is still there, Lexa. It never left me. I still live with it every day alongside the pain. It’s why his words sent me out of control again. It made it more real for me. And I lost it.

So, what happens now?

Now, I have to learn to live with the guilt and the pain and not let it control me. That’s the hardest part is not letting it control me. There are going to be days where I won’t want to get out of bed. Where I’ll be inconsolable. Where I’ll contemplate suicide. Where I’ll just be a complete and total bitch. But there will also be good days too. When I’m on top of my game. Where I’ll laugh and joke. Where no one will have to worry about saying the wrong thing to me. The goal is to make the good days happen more than my bad. It took me five years to learn to cope without aid. I’m hoping that it won’t take me so long this time around. That’s my goal. I’m just going to need a lot of help reaching it.

And you’ll have that help, Nyx. I swear to you that you will.

Thank you. I’m gonna have to let you go. I hear Clarke waking up in the other room and the food’s just about done.

I see at least one thing is already back to normal. I’ll touch base with you later. I will be able to, right?

Yes, my love. I’m not blocking anymore.

Good. Give Dani my love.

I will.

I turned off the stove and set the food on the plates before I headed back into the bedroom. I leaned against the doorframe as I watched her languidly stretch, making me smile.

“Do I smell food,” she asked as she finished stretching and looked at me expectantly.

“You do in fact smell food, niron,” I said as I sat beside her on the bed. “Just finished. All that’s missing is you.”

She laughed and gave me a hug, “I’m am so glad that you’re back to you again. I am a horrible cook.”

“You are,” I said with a kiss. “I must make the effort to teach you.”

“Mmm, you can teach me whatever you want, Nyx. I will gladly learn.”

I laughed, “Enough, wench. You haven’t eaten since sometime yesterday.”

Her stomach agreed and she laughed as she got out of bed. She got dressed and we sat down to eat together for the first time in almost two weeks. We took the time to really start talking about ourselves. I regaled her with tales of my misspent youth and she told me what it was like growing up in the bunker.

We were nearly through the meal when the computer chimed. She leaned over to answer it and found Kane on the other end.

“Nyx, good to see you again,” Kane said. “It hasn’t been the same without the two of you here.”

“Good to see you, too, Kane,” I answered. “Are we having the council meeting now?”

“Yes. The humans have jumped our timeline since this morning,” he replied.

“What happened,” Clarke asked.

“The humans that we had taken to the medical wing took some of the medical staff hostage and demanded that everyone be released from quarantine or they’d begin killing the staff,” he explained.

“Okay. What’d you do?”

“We immediately cut the vents off and sucked out the air forcing them to collapse and then turned the vents back on and pumped in sleeping gas.”

“A bit on the dramatic side,” I said. “So, where are we on that?”

“We’ve placed all of the beds on the ground, removed anything that could be used as a weapon and created eyebolts embedded into the ground and now have them all shackled to them. The ones that needed IVs are in a separate area from the others”

“Did we lose anyone,” Clarke asked.

“Unfortunately, yes,” Kane said sadly. “We lost one of the staff members when the person who held them collapsed and severed his throat. We also lost two humans who were barely out of surgery.”

“Damn,” I said slamming my fist on the table and making Clarke jump. “Do the rest of the humans know what happened?”

“No. We’re not planning on telling them anything.”

“Good. Did Raven and Monty come up with a lens?”

The camera panned to Raven and she replied, “We did and did you one better. An implant that will project visual and audio directly from the person that it is inside to monitors that we’re installing in the commons areas and along the hallways of the quarantine area.”

I smiled, “Perfect. Does this mean we all agree on the mission?”

“After yesterday’s riot and this morning’s hostage situation,” Bellamy said and the camera panned to him. “I have no qualms about sending some of them out to get a taste of the real world. I sure as hell didn’t like it, but I had Octavia and Clarke with me. They won’t have anybody.”

“So, the mission is a go,” Kane said, camera once again turning to him. “The implants are ready and working perfectly. They’ll be injected into the base of the skull of our prisoners, who will then be loaded up into a transport with enough food and water to last them a week, plus enough money to pay for at least on night in a motel room if they can get it. The transport will take them directly into the middle of Old Towne where they will be dropped off and it will return immediately to the border. They’ll also be given a brand to identify them if they make it back to the border and will be allowed in and returned to camp.”

“Very well planned out,” I said as I leaned back. “I can see nothing wrong with it.”

“Neither can I,” said Clarke, “but I would like to add something to the plan. I know that we’ve marked some of the buildings for deconstruction. Why not also give them a bigger example of what we can do. Take a couple of earth mages and have the earth swallow the building whole. Have them make a big show of it.”

I grinned and said, “I like where you’re going with it. By the time they see it, the implants should be working and the humans should be in the common areas for breakfast.”

“Which would show them that we could bring down the quarantine area without damaging the rest of the bunker,” Kane said shocked.

“Exactly. It’s tacky, it’s a waste of power, and will frighten them even more. The downside is that it could incite another riot just out of fear.”

“I’ll make sure we have plenty of guards in there to squash any chance of that,” Sephy said.

“So what is this, a game now,” Bellamy said coldly. “Ooh, let’s see how frightened we can make the puny humans. Let’s let them fear us so that they’ll do whatever we say. Let’s show them who’s got the biggest set of balls. Come on, this is getting out of hand. Our goal is to help them understand what’s going on and why we need cooperation. Willing cooperation from them. You’re not going to get that if you keep showing off your powers.”

I sat back feeling like shit suddenly and so did everyone else.

“You’re right, Bellamy,” Octavia said. “If we did this, it would just be like when they thought it was funny to shock someone they only thought was a wolf. We can’t stoop to that level.”

“I’m sorry, Bellamy,” Clarke said. “I shouldn’t have been so thoughtless. Thank you. Are you still okay with sending them out tomorrow?”

He sighed, “Yeah. They need to see and then we need to impress on them that we don’t want them to have to deal with that reality. Do we have any options that may be doable if we can get to a peace summit?”

“Nyx,” Sephy asked. “You’ve been dealing with this the longest. Do you have any thoughts?”

“A few,” I said sitting up. “The obvious one is that they remain here under the protection of the Manassas Pack and mages. Downside is how will the Coalition perceive such a large gathering of humans. Secondly, would be to distribute the humans throughout the territory in small communities. Like hiding in plain sight. Downside to that, would be that they would be forced to rely mostly on themselves without pack protection or the ability to trade with any of the border packs. Thirdly, would to just shove them out of the territory along the East Coast and wish them good luck. The Forest Pack would have to deny any involvement in the distribution. Fourthly, we brand them and either sell them at a special slave market or spread them out into the other packs within the territory. Lastly, would be to give them their own territory between ours and a willing ally. Lack of protection and limited trading.”

“If we went with creating a new territory,” she asked. “Which pack do you think would be our best option?”

“Um, if nothing has changed in the last eight years, I’d say the Floridian Pack would be our best option. Since it’s made up of the small predators, they might actually see it as a benefit to have the humans there as an added source of protection and possible big game hunters.”

“What would happen to the territory if the humans did begin to die off,” Bellamy asked.

“Probably reabsorbed back into the original territory or territories if each gave up an equal portion.”

“I’ll make sure de Pakstoka knows what you think,” she said. “Of course, this is all contingent on the humans. If we can’t receive any cooperation, the only real option is to kick them out of the territory using force and wipe our hands clean of them.”

“So, you expect us to abandon our own people if they refuse to listen,” Bellamy asked defensively.

“If you want to continue living within the Forest Pack territory, you’ll have to,” I said. “Any that don’t want to abandon them are free to leave with them, but they’ll never be allowed back into the territory.”

“Pack safety is paramount,” Sephy explained. “We won’t endanger the entire pack because a small group refuses to give up their humans. We’re being lenient enough as it is letting this go on for as long as it has. If we don’t have it resolved by Spring…”

“Then it doesn’t matter what we want. The decision will be made for us.”

“Yes.”

“Nyx,” Bellamy asked. “Do you agree with her?”

“Yes. We have until Spring to resolve this. If we can’t, then I’m sorry, but the humans will have to go,” I answered truthfully. “Like Seph said, pack safety is paramount and we won’t risk going to war with the Coalition over humans. That’s the equivalent to suicide.”

“We’re sorry that we have to put it like that, Bellamy,” Sephy said. “We know that is not how any of you were raised or that it’s hard to imagine going to war over something as simple as a large population of humans in the wrong area, but this is our reality. We have to place nice with the Coalition if we want to continue to survive as a pack and keep our territory.”

“You all keep telling us that you want to keep the Coalition out of the territory and your business. Wouldn’t it be simpler to have them come and and make a ruling,” he asked.

“Nothing with the Coalition is simple, Bellamy,” I replied. “They don’t just simply come in and help resolve an issue. No, they completely dismantle the infrastructure and create a new one that is completely under their control. Packs lose their autonomy and the territory becomes Coalition owned and operated.”

“All that because a pack asked for their help?”

“To ask for their help means that you are too weak to handle the situation yourself. If you’re weak, you’re exploited. You need to be controlled. The leadership is not fit enough to run the pack nor operate a successful territory. If the situation bleeds outside a territory’s border and begins to affect another, they come in and rectify the situation. Not with finesse, but with a sledgehammer. No one, and I mean no one, wants them to get a whiff of a situation that may be out of control.”

“I think we’re getting off topic here,” Kane interjected. “We’ve decided that six people, including Jaha, will be transported to Old Towne tomorrow morning after having received a telecommunications implant and a brand identifying them to the Forest Pack border patrols. They are to be given enough food and water for a week and money. The humans in quarantine will be able to watch what happens to them and so will we. The goal of this is to show the humans that what they have here is a lot better than what waits for them on the other side of the border. This is an effort to gain cooperation with them, so that they may actually have a say to what happens to them before Spring arrives. Does everyone agree to this?”

Agreement from everyone ended the meeting and everyone went back to what they needed to do.

“I think you should be there in the morning, Clarke,” I said softly.

She looked at me in surprise and asked, “Why? Kane is perfectly capable of handling this.”

I looked at her and with a small smile replied, “Because you are the Council Leader, not Kane. Indra, Dani, and Seph will be there in my stead because I mentally cannot step beyond that door. You, on the other hand, have no such issues. Just because I can’t doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. I don’t want you to put a stop on your life for me, Clarke.”

“I’m not putting a stop on my life, Nyx,” she said, taking my hands. “It’s why I had the computer system set up. So, that I can continue my work and still be here for you.”

“I know that, love. But, I’ve seen how bored you’ve been. This part of my recovery is about pushing beyond what I currently feel as safe. One of those is to have you leave here and leaving me alone. Even if it is for only ten minutes. It’s not healthy to use you as a crutch or a safety blanket that I need 24/7.”

“If I’m out there tomorrow, it won’t be for 10 minutes, Nyx,” she said carefully. “It’s probably going to take several hours.”

“True, but you’ll have your communicator on you and I’ll be able to see what’s going on out there, so I have that to help.”

“Do you really want to try this so soon?”

“Not really,” I said, chuckling. “But it’s necessary. We need to resolve the human situation before Spring, which means I need to be back on my feet and outside this room way before then.”

“At least you’re honest,” she replied with a smile. “Alright. I’ll do it. If it means that much to you.”

“It does. Thank you,” I said and pulled her into a kiss.

She sighed and leaned her head against me and said, “Our food got cold.”

I looked down at our plates and said, “Would you like me to make you something?”

“No,” she said and picked up a link of sausage and bit into it. “It’s still good.”

“Alright,” I said with a smile and we finished eating our cold lunch.

Clarke washed the dishes and I took a long shower. When I came out of the bedroom, she was laid out on the couch with a book she must have found.

“Did you find something to read,” I asked as I sat her up and laid her back against me.

“I did,” she said and showed me the cover. “It takes place after the Second World War in Scotland. The main character, a woman, comes across a circle of standing stones, like Stonehenge but much smaller, and she ends up falling back into time 200 years. It puts her right before the Scottish Highlanders try to take Scotland out of the hands of British control. It’s interesting. I’ve only just gotten to the part were she has fallen through the stones.”

“Ah, you must be referring to the Jacobite Rising of 1745,” I said. “The conflict really did happen and the Highlanders were decimated. Many of the men who fought or thought to have ties to the Rising were found guilty of treason and subsequently imprisoned, executed, or placed on transport ships and sent to the British colonies here. Clan chiefs no longer had any kind of judicial power and wearing clan colors, tartans, were outlawed. The Scottish education shifted to become more geared towards the Monarchy of England and the Church of England to stop future generations from becoming disenfranchised of the British Empire.”

“How do you know about this,” she asked.

“It’s part of my family history,” I replied as I kissed the top of her head. “The Allistars have ties to Scotland and Ireland.”

“Wow,” she replied impressed. “So, your family history is important to you.”

“Not just me,” I replied with a smile, “It’s important to all of us in my family. Everything that has happened in our family, we take it as an opportunity to learn from it and then teach what we learn.”

“Is there anything you don’t fully commit to, Nyx?”

I chuckled, “No. When I commit. I commit fully. Heart, mind, body, and soul. As do all Allistars.”

“Hmm, I’ll remember that. So, now that you’re done with your shower. I’ll take my own,” she said, sitting up.

I grinned, “And I shall try to find something to occupy my time.”

She laughed and gave me a kiss, “Behave yourself. I won’t be long.”

“Mmm, where’s the fun in that.”

She smacked me on the arm and left. I leaned back on the couch and reflected on the last week and a half. I still couldn’t quite grasp exactly why Lincoln’s words had affected me so much and so violently. Was it because of the image he invoked? I remembered his family. I remembered them all being there that day. It wasn’t odd that entire families would serve at the same time in the same unit. I remember seeing the photos of those that I had killed. It had been a surreal moment and the photos didn’t go with what I remembered, but it was physical evidence of what I’d done. I could easily imagine what I’d done to cause this one’s death or another’s, so him saying he watched me as I killed his family shouldn’t have sent me over the edge. I remembered the fear that I felt when I saw him and that I took a step backwards because of it. Why was I fearful? I wasn’t fearful of Gustus nor Lexa. I should have been, but I hadn’t.

So, the question that I needed to find the answer to, was why did he cause me to want to back down in fear when I’d never done it before? Why did I freeze when he spoke? Why couldn’t I respond until Clarke held my hand? There was something about him specifically that caused my reaction. It had nothing to do with the sudden image overlaying the memory I had. Nor the words that he spoke, because Gustus pretty much told me the same thing. It had to be him. But what?

Indra?

Nyx? How good it is to hear your mind voice. Is everything okay?

Yes. I’ve been thinking about the why of my break and I have a question. Was Lincoln with his family when they left to join me at the Northern Border?

Actually, no he wasn’t. He took a few men to help the Western Pack with a flooded pass four days prior to the call.

Do you know if all of them left to join me after they were done?

They were instructed to, yes.

When did they leave the Western Border to go to the Northern?

They would have arrived the day of the incident. What are you thinking?

He should not have affected me like he did. No one holds that kind of dominance over me, but I got fearful and couldn’t move or talk. And when Gustus came and saw me, there was no fear. Nor was there any when I saw Lexa. I felt fine speaking with them and interacting with everybody else. He’s been the only one. Then there’s the fact that I was shown photos of what I’d done when I was questioned afterwards. It’s true that I was in shock and denial at the time, but even now when I can see those photos vividly, all it does is make me feel the usual amount of guilt and pain that has remained since then.

So, you’re saying that you shouldn’t have had a break with just him speaking about watching you kill his family in front of his eyes.

Right. Now there were survivors, right?

Right.

Who were they?

The men with Lincoln and another unit from the Western Border. They were all heavily injured and had to be taken to the hospital immediately.

Were their injuries consistent as coming from me?

I don’t know. You’d have to speak with the hospital staff that handled them.

This is going to sound like a stretch, Indra, but what if something happened to them on the Western Border while they were there. Like another mind manipulation. The man who tried to kill me my first day here in the territory was a survivor. Gustus admitted it. Then I come across Lincoln, another survivor and I have a break where I almost killed Clarke and have wanted nothing more than to kill myself because of it. Right now, it’s just a coincidence, but what if it’s not.

You mean, you think it’s possible that this Echo is playing the long game with you?

I think it’s possible that she could have very well put contingencies in place if I lived and was in the territory. At some point, I would have had to come across one or two of the survivors. Why not manipulate them to manipulate me into dying, either by their hands or my own.

So, how can we test your theory?

Maybe start by showing Lincoln the picture of Echo. See if he recognizes her. Unfortunately, there’s no way a brain scan can show this kind of manipulation. It’s flawless. Find the rest of the survivors and do the same thing. Get their medical records and compare their injuries with those that were on the dead.

I can most certainly do that, but what if no one recognizes her? Right now, it’s too soon for you to even come out and see if there’s a reaction with or from these people.

I know it’s a long shot, Indra. But there’s just something about this whole thing that feels off. I should not have had this bad of a reaction. My nightmares should have increased in frequency, not a full blown out regression.

All right, I’ll do it. Just don’t exert yourself over something like this. You want to get better not worse.

Yes, ma’am. I understand. Goodnight, Indra.

Good night, Nyx. And try to get some real rest.

No promises.

“Well, you were certainly off in you head for a while,” Clarke said as she came to sit next to me.

I blushed, “Sorry, I was speaking to Indra over something that had occurred to me.”

“Care to share?”

“No harm in it. More minds the better really,” I said and settled the two of us more comfortably. “I was thinking about my reaction to Lincoln. I realized that the way I reacted was the complete opposite of how I normally react when someone speaks to me.”

“What do you mean?”

“Because of how powerful I am, I don’t submit to anyone. Not even Lexa. I recognize her as my pack leader and therefore I act accordingly. When Lincoln spoke, I was frozen in fear. I wanted to run away, but I couldn’t move, speak, or think. I could only listen. When he said that he watched me kill his family, it was shocking, but he didn’t go into too great of a detail. Just me ripping their throats out. Truthfully, hearing how I kill in my wolf form is nothing new. When I came to myself after the incident, I was shown picture after picture of the people I’d killed. Along with evidence showing that it could have only been done by me.”

“You’re saying that the fear you felt shouldn’t have happened and that him describing what happened shouldn’t have bothered you much more than the images you’d already seen?”

“Right. I am dominate among dominates. I can still vividly recall the photos that were shown to me and still function on a normal level.”

“You were manipulated to see the Ice Pack murdering your men when you returned from where’d you gone to by a single woman.”

“Right, the Ice Pack spy. She’s the one that got Gustus to leak information about Lexa and the pack to the Bear King. She’s also the one I ran into when I had to blow up an unauthorized Ice Pack compound. The mark on my hip is from her. She was also the one that broke into my home and blew it up.”

“You’re thinking that she may have done more to keep you from taking your rightful place as Second?”

“That’s my theory and it’s what I would do. I love contingencies over contingencies. That way if one fails, one of the others will succeed. Now, the first day I arrived back in Clifton, I was attacked in my bathroom by a survivor of the incident. He nearly succeeded in killing me. Then comes Lincoln, also a survivor, and he opens up his mouth and a chain reaction occurs. I nearly kill you, which then makes me want to kill myself or turn wolf permanently. If either of these two separate incidents had been successful, Gustus would have stayed as Second and the spying would have never been found out or Lexa would’ve been permanently without a Second. My mother would have refused to step up and Seph isn’t trained in handling a large pack.”

“And you told Indra this?”

“Yes. She’s agreed to show Lincoln and the rest of the survivors a photo of the spy and have the medical staff that worked on the survivors compare their injuries with the ones I used to kill. I’m starting to think that they won’t match. The reason being, is that based on what I recall of the photos, I didn’t let go until I knew the person was good and dead and then tossed them aside and moved on to the next person.”

“What if they don’t recall seeing this woman or if the images do match?”

“Then it remains a theory until it can be proven or disproven otherwise. I’m not planning on fixating on it, or at least consciously I won’t .”

“At least, you’re being healthy about this,” she said as she snuggled closer to me.

I chuckled drily, “I’ve been through this once before, unfortunately. I know how my mind works and I know what’s probably going to happen. Which makes me better prepared. Which means I can catch myself or let others know when something feels different.”

“Does that mean nightmares?”

“Nightmares, arguments, I’ll try to beat myself up, I’ll hide, cry, sleep all day, and so on. This isn’t going to be easy, Clarke. I am going to be mean to you. I’m going to try to push you away. I’m going to throw things at you. I’m going to be on both ends of the spectrum in what I say to you. You still willing to stay here with me day in and day out?”

“Yes. I love you, Nyx. I won’t leave you. I may run away crying, but I’ll always come back, because I know you’re not really meaning it.”

“Then that’s all I can ask of you, Clarke. I will do my hardest to beat this. For myself, for you, and for everyone else that cares and loves me.”

“And I will do the same,” she said and kissed me to seal the promise. “So, what do we do now?”

“In regards to what, love?”

“The rest of today. The meeting is over and done with. There are no pressing concerns that we need to take care of. It’s too early for dinner and bed. So, what do you want to do, because I have no idea.”

“Um, how about I help you train with your powers? I may not be able to use mine, but I can still help you.”

“Could you,” she asked excitedly. “It’s been bothering me that I only seem to have a little bit of control and most of what happens is reactive.”

I nodded, “Then we shall work on that. Now, scoot back from me a bit. I don’t want to get shocked anymore than I have already.”

She chuckled and moved a way from me.

“Now, we say that you’re a lightning mage and it’s true, but you’re more than that. You actually have control over electricity. This means that everything that runs on electricity, you can manipulate or pull the electricity from it.”

“So, I’m not just pushing out an electrostatic discharge?”

“Well, that is what comes from you,” I said carefully, “That well of power inside of you is like a capacitor and when you call it up or use it, that’s the discharge. You actually have the ability to recharge yourself from an outside electrical source, whereas most of us have to rebuild the power over a period of time. For someone like me, I use less of my own power when I have a nearby power source like a flame or the ground, but it still comes from me.”

“If I don’t want to use my own power, I can pull it from somewhere else and use that instead?”

“Yes,” I said with a grin. “And I’m about to show you how.”

She tried to look at me serious, but there was a smile that constantly played at her lips and making me smile.

“Okay, you see the light above us,” I said and she nodded. “Now, close your eyes and listen for the electrical hum that comes from it. Let me know when you hear it.”

She closed her eyes and tilted her head slightly as she listened for it and then she said, “I hear it.”

“Good. Now open your eyes and hold out your hand.”

She did and looked at me expectantly.

“Now, this is the important part. What you’re going to do is draw that electricity that you hear into the palm of your hand. But you want to do it slowly, so you don’t create a surge of energy. Too quick and one of us will get hurt, too slow and it’ll fizzle out into the air on it’s own. Think of it like you’ve pulled the plug holding water inside a container and there’s a slow steady stream of water falling into your cupped hand. It’ll naturally stop on it’s own, but you have to tell yourself that you only want the energy that is in the light, not beyond it or your hand will overflow. Got it?”

She nodded, “I think so. Should I try?”

“When you feel you’re ready, go for it. Just keep your eyes on your cupped palm and your mind focused on what you’re doing.”

“Okay.”

I sat silently patient as she began concentrating on pulling the electricity to her. After about a minute, the light began to dim and a small blue ball appeared in her hand. She got a little excited at seeing it and there was a sudden influx of energy, but I reminded her to slow down and the growth slowed down substantially. When it was the size of a baseball, she stopped pulling and held it in her hand.

She grinned at me and I grinned back, “Good. How did it feel while you were pulling it to you?”

“There was an initial feeling of resistance, like it didn’t want to come to me, but when it did, it was just like a small stream of water. When I got excited, the stream widened and I had to force my mind to stem the flow.”

“How’d you know when to stop?”

“When it felt like a trickle.”

“Good. Now with this little ball of electricity, you can do just about anything you want with it within reason. You can push it into something that needs the electricity that you want to work. You can place it inside a hollow object and use it as a shock grenade or bomb. Throw it at a target and short them out or electrocute. You can even play with it. Roll it between your fingers, toss it from hand to hand. You get the idea. Now, I want you to reverse what you did and put it back into the light.”

“Wait, I can do that too?”

“Yes. This time, you’re feeding it the energy. Imagine there’s the hole you pulled it from and it’s still open. You’re going to push it through that hole, like you’re feeding string into it to fill the space. Move slow so you don’t create a surge.”

I watched her closely as she pushed the energy away from her and back into the light. The lighting grew brighter the more energy she fed it until there was nothing left in her palm.

“Good, now grasp your hands together.”

She looked at me funny, but did it and asked, “Why?”

I smiled, “If there was any residual energy left in your palm, you equally discharged it over the rest of your body, so you won’t shock anyone or something. How do you feel?”

“Like I did nothing more than think. There was no exertion and I don’t feel like I used any energy at all.”

“Which is what’s supposed to happen. You pulled the power to yourself, held it, and then released it back. If you were low on your power, it would have refilled your power well.”

“And I can do this with any electrical power source?”

“Yes. Even people.”

“People?”

“Systems in our bodies create electrical currents, like our brain. If you have no qualms about killing someone, you can pull it from them.”

“When I shocked you, I overloaded the electrical current that your heart produces and caused it to stop?”

“And how you got my heart to start beating again. Like jumper cables for a car battery. If you wanted to use a human as a power source, it’s a good idea to know exactly how much electricity a body can harness naturally and how much current each system produces,” I said soberly. “The plus side of learning about the heart and brain is that you, personally, can use your power to restart both again. So, in that respect you save a life instead of taking one.”

“I’m not a destructive force?”

“You are both, you can take and give. That’s the beauty of some of our powers. Like air mages, they can suck the air out of your lungs or they can push air into the lungs.”

“So, my intention is what controls the lightning.”

“Yes. Admittedly, all powers can be either destructive or constructive. Like how we were able to restore the compound or build crop fields. We can destroy buildings or crops as well. It’s the will or intention driving the power that decides what it does.”

“Like how you use your telepathy to help people, while the spy used hers to hurt.”

“Exactly,” I said smiling sadly. “There’s always a duality to everything.”

“That’s heavy,” she said cracking a smile.

“It’s why it’s important to practice your control and to strengthen your mind.”

“I understand,” she said thinking. “Can you show me how to build a ward?”

I nodded, “Sure. Let’s head into the bedroom. I’ll show you how to ward the closet.”

“The closet?”

“Well, the front door is already warded and I definitely don’t want you to ward the bathroom,” I said laughing and standing. Holding out a hand, I said, “Let’s go.”

She grabbed it and I pulled her up and took her to the bedroom. I opened the closet door and took a couple steps back from it.

“It’s actually really easy,” I said as she stood next to me. “What you’re doing is picturing a wall the length of the closet, or even the shape of the closet, and where the door is, you’re placing another door. What’s your favorite color?”

“Blue,” she replied automatically.

“Can you guess what mine is,” I said with a smile.

“Black,” she hazarded.

“No, but it would make sense because of my name, the color of my wolf, my hair and my eyes. My favorite color is maroon. Look at my clothing next time, you’ll see it somewhere on them. Anyway, the reason why I asked is because I want you to visualize the wall you’re about to build in that color. Easy to remember.”

“Okay.”

“You’ve got the image of it in your mind?”

“Yes.”

“Now, with your power behind it, imagine the wall being built over the length of the closet. From the ground up to the top of the closet. Now, I can’t see it and that’s the point. When you’re done, build a door in it. One that only opens to certain people.”

“Done.”

I walked over to the closet and placed my hand on where I thought the wall would be and felt the slight push away.

“Good. Now make it strong. I want to feel the push more.”

I felt the push more and more.

“Okay, stop there. Now come up and hover your hand over where you’ve placed the door.”

She did and I nodded, “Tell yourself that you only want to allow yourself into the closet and feed your power behind the thought. When you feel that the ward understands your intention, say the key phrase.”

I took my hand away and watched her. I felt it click and then said, “To make it permanent, send a chain into the ground from it and imagine an eyebolt or something of that nature to anchor it into the earth. Then that’s it.”

She looked at me, “That’s it? That’s all it takes?”

“Yes. Why don’t you walk in?”

“Alright,” she said and did.

“You did tell it that you only wanted to allow yourself in, right?”

“Right.”

“Now, watch this.”

I walked up to the closet and tried to walk into it, I couldn’t.

“How do I know you’re not just faking it to make me feel better?”

I grinned at her and stepped further back and ran at it. When I hit the ward, I fell backwards and landed on my ass.

She laughed and helped me up.

“Okay, so it keeps you out. To keep myself out, I just lock it like the compound?”

“Yes. Give it a whirl.”

She did and found that she couldn’t walk in. She shook her head from the impact and looked at me, “So, how do I remove it?”

“As with most things, you reverse the process. Unanchor the the wall, close the door and deconstruct it by pulling the power you used to create it back into yourself.”

She did that and I could easily walk into it.

“And voila, you know how to create a ward,” I said with a smile. “Everything else just requires practice, practice, and more practice.”

She came up to me, gave me a hug and asked, “Is there anything else you can show me?”

I grinned at her as I stepped back and replied, “There is one more small thing I can show you. But it’s pretty special and I’m not sure that you’re ready for it.”

“Oh, come on,” she pleaded with a smile. “Don’t hold out on me like that. What is it?”

I pretended to really think about it and then I grinned slowly, “If you really want to, I guess I can show you.”

“I really want to learn it,” she said excitedly.

I sighed and said, “Alright, hold out your arms.”

She did, giggling, “Okay, now what?”

“Picture that you’re wearing your power like a glove just underneath your skin of your dominant hand. I don’t want to see it. Also keep the power level real low, just above barely noticeable.”

“Okay,” she said and looked at me expectantly.

Facing her, I pushed up her shirt sleeve of her non-dominant arm and laid mine gently over hers. With my other arm, I held it under her other arm.

“Okay, now this is the hard part,” I said looking her in the eyes. “Without looking down at your hand, I want you to trace just random lines on my arm with only your fingers. Don’t jab down hard or hover. There has to be physical contact.”

She nodded and looking me in the eyes, she slowly touched me and glided her fingers over my arm. We both gasped at the same time and I swallowed thickly at the sensual feel that her power was giving me. Her mouth parted and her eyes became slightly heavy lidded as she continued to look at me.

“Do you feel it,” I asked softly.

She swallowed and answered, “Yes. I can feel what I’m doing with your arm on my arm. How is that possible?”

“It’s a mirror effect. When you and I touched, we created a complete circuit. As long as there is skin to skin contact, wherever I place my hand, you will feel it there.”

“Show me,” she said, her voice slightly husky from the sensation.

I removed my arm from hers and slid under her shirt and laid it on her side. I felt her body shiver at the sensation and her muscles contract as she gasped again.

“God, that feels oh, so good,” she said closing her eyes.

“This is one of the most intimate acts you can do with a partner,” I said as my voice coated with desire. “If I could use my fire power, I could return the favor.”

“Mm-hm,” she said as she stop tracing my arm and brought her hand to cup my head, making me moan and shudder in pleasure.

She pulled me close and brought me into a passionate kiss.

“Let go of your power,” I whispered against her mouth, “You don’t want to drain yourself.”

I felt it leave and kissed her again. I picked her up and laid her gently down on the bed. I looked down briefly before I laid down beside her and taught her how to make her body sing.

Chapter Text

I woke up the next day still feeling the effects of last night as I moaned in pleasure, stretching.

Nyx chuckled beside me and asked sleepily, “Would you like me to make you something to eat before you leave?”

I smiled and leaned down to kiss her languidly, “No, love. I’ll eat something at the compound afterwards. Go back to sleep.”

“Mm-kay,” she replied and snuggled deeper under the covers.

I kissed her head before I got out of bed on shaky feet. I shook my head in amusement and went to take a shower. I got dressed quietly and making sure I had the communicator secured to my side, I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of coffee. With one last glance at the bedroom, I left and walked up to the surface.

When I reached the surface, I paused briefly and inhaled deeply the crisp autumn air. Nyx had been right, I’d been down there too long. I saw the transport truck waiting by the jail and walked towards it. There were already people milling around it as I neared. I inhaled sharply as my body reacted to seeing Dani standing there speaking with Octavia and Sephy, but I continued forward anyway. At the sound of my footsteps, all three of them turned and watched me approach.

Sephy looked at me worriedly, and asked, “Are you sure it’s a good idea to leave her alone so soon?”

“I’m not to keen on it,” I replied shaking my head, “but she insisted that I come here to see them off.”

Octavia hugged me and replied, “Well, I’m glad to see you, Clarke. It hasn’t been the same these last couple of days.”

“I’ve felt the same way,” I said and said to Sephy, “I’ve got my communicator on me, if she’s feeling to uncomfortable, she’ll give me a call.”

Sephy nodded and hugged me, “Okay. I’m glad to see you, too.”

“It’s good to see all of you and I hadn’t realized that I was feeling closed off until I came up here.”

“Aw, you missed me,” Dani teased as she gave me a hug, too and I swore she inhaled a little too deeply. “It’s good to see you. Too many somber faces lately.”

I made a face at her and replied, “Somber seems to be the overall mood. So, what’s going on?”

I could tell that Dani wanted to keep an arm wrapped around me, but let me go and took a step back as she replied, “Jackson, Raven, and your mother are injecting them with the implants now and making sure they’re all up in running. They should be up here soon.”

“Kane?”

“Indra is training him this morning,” Octavia replied. “She’s been training him one on one since he’s quite a bit older than the rest of us.”

I smiled, “That’s good. It’d be funny to watch him try and keep up with the young ones.”

“It was. As much as shifting feels natural and our powers come easily, he just can’t keep up physically since his body is still regaining it’s muscles after laying in the hospital bed for so long.”

“That has to suck,” I replied thinking. “This means that those who become werewolves will have to go through some heavy physical therapy to rebuild their bodies up.”

Octavia nodded, “Speaking of those particular individuals. It’s been almost three weeks since they’ve received the cure. The majority of them are moving about and doing real well. They’re ready to get back to the surface and join in preparing for the winter.”

“That’s real good,” I said. “Has anybody told them why they’re still in the ward?”

“Jackson and Abby have,” Sephy said. “They’ve explained that it takes the cure a full month to remove the toxin and that there are side effects that have to monitored until they can be released.”

“Have they been told the side effects?”

“That I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them.”

“Then I will after this is over.”

“And speak of devil and he shall appear,” Dani said looking past us and towards the jail.

We turned to watch as the six people we were sending to Old Towne were escorted by guards walked over to us. I watched as they each seemed to carry some level of fear on their faces, except from Jaha. He was angry and still defiant. His body language spoke volumes. Jackson, Raven and Mom followed them. Raven’s pace quickened when she spotted me and hugged me immediately as they got to us.

“Oh, I’ve missed you, Clarke,” she said as she stepped away.

“I’ve missed you, too,” I replied as I hugged Jackson and my mom.

Mom’s return hug was a little unsure, but it was still a hug.

“So, is everything set up,” I asked them.

“They’re ready to go,” Mom replied. “Is this really necessary?”

“Yes,” Jaha said. “Why are you killing us? We’ve done nothing but voice our dissent as is our right.”

“We’re not killing you, Jaha,” I said authoritatively. “We’re sending the six of you to Old Towne. Those implants you’ve been injected with are so that we can monitor you and allow the rest of the humans a chance to see what the world is like outside this camp and outside the border.”

“From what you’ve told me, that is the equivalent of sending us to our deaths.”

I shrugged, “What will happen, will happen, Jaha. I’m allowing you to witness exactly why it’s imperative for all of you to work with us. You need to understand that this world is no longer the world we left. You’ll still be allowed to return if you can make your way back to the border.”

“As if I really believe that we’ll be allowed to return,” he scoffed. “This is how you’re planning on removing us from the border. Your own version of thinning the crowd, a culling.”

“This isn’t a culling, Jaha,” I said as my eyes narrowed at him. “The reason for the brands you received is so that the border guards can identify you and bring you back here. We have no interest in killing you or your people. I suggest you learn that and learn it quickly. We cannot move on until your people understand that.”

“I think that’s quite enough,” Dani said, her voice tinged with anger. “Guards, load them up. Your packs are already inside. Once you’re in Old Towne, your shackles will be removed and you will leave the transport. What happens afterwards, is up to you.”

We watched silently as they slowly got into the transport, Jaha was last.

He turned to look at me and said deadly serious, “You’ll regret this, Clarke. This is a mistake that will cost you dearly.”

“It’s already cost us lives, Jaha,” I replied coldly. “And it’s all because you all refused to listen to us. Make no mistake, this is for your own good. Godspeed and good luck.”

With those parting words, the guards locked down the transport and they left.

When the truck was out of our view, Mom turned to me and asked, “Have you eaten yet, Clarke?”

I shook my head, “No, Nyx offered to make me breakfast but I wanted her to sleep some more.”

“Care to join me at the compound for breakfast?”

“Sure,” I answered and joined them as they made their way to the compound.

“How is Nyx,” she asked.

“She’s doing okay for the moment,” I replied. “She believes that her reaction to Lincoln shouldn’t have been so severe. From her standpoint, what he told her was no worse than the photos of what she was shown after the incident.”

“She’s right, Clarke,” Dani said. “I’ve seen the photos, what he described was mild compared to them.”

“Okay, at least that part is true,” I said thinking. “She also told me that her physical reaction at hearing and seeing him were way out of character as well.”

“What do you mean?”

“She said that she was completely afraid of him. Frozen. Couldn’t move, couldn’t speak, or think. All from just seeing him. She said that she’s so powerful that she doesn’t even feel an ounce of submission towards Lexa.”

“Again, she’s right,” Dani said carefully. “If alphas were real, she would be the Alpha among alphas. As far as we know, there is no one more powerful than she is. She has a healthy amount of fear for the Coalition, but it’s because of what they can do, not because they’re supposedly the strongest of our kinds.”

“What you’re saying,” Abby said, “is that the mental break and subsequent regression should have never happened?”

“Unless, her psyche is more damaged then even she thought, no, it shouldn’t have.”

“Let’s say that she was as stable as she was ever going to get after the initial trauma, what could have caused the snap?”

“Mind manipulation,” Indra said as she came up on us. “She had me look up some information in regards to what happened prior to the incident.”

“What happened prior to it,” I asked.

“All the survivors had arrived to the Northern Border the day of the incident. They had come from the Western Border after helping with a flooding situation there. I showed the pictures of the female spy and some of them had a vague recollection of seeing her on the Western Border.”

“How does this help Nyx,” Dani asked.

“Not much,” Indra admitted. “We know that this woman, Echo, sought to transfer into our territory around the same time and she would have been at the border awaiting approval.”

“Then it’s inconclusive,” Sephy said.

“Yes, but she also wanted someone to compare their injuries to the ones she inflicted on her men. Scarlett was kind enough to do that part.”

“What did she find?”

“Some of their injuries were sustained by her, but the majority of them were not. They actually attacked one another.”

“Why would they do that,” mom asked.

“To keep Nyx away from them. If they’ve been injured and lay among the dead, she would have walked right past them and never given them a second glance.”

“Or, if they were manipulated like Nyx suggests, they could have done it to themselves to avoid suspicion from your investigators,” I said thinking.

“Either way, it’s hard to prove,” Indra said. “There’s no way to find out if a manipulation or compulsion was placed on them. Nothing would show up on a brain scan.”

“And there’s no way that we can bring them to Nyx just to see if they did something or affected her.”

“Correct. The only way we could, is if we got a full confession from the spy, but she’s in the wind. No one has seen her in 8 years.”

“At least, I can tell her that some of them do recall seeing her and that some of their injuries weren’t done by her.”

“That might be a bad idea, Clarke,” Mom said. “It could make her obsess over this even more, if she’s not already.”

“I’d think it would be worse to keep this from her, Mom,” I countered. “If she finds out from another source and then finds out that I already knew, that could lead her to believe that I didn’t think she could handle the truth. Creating a cycle of distrust between us. And right now, she needs to trust me.”

Mom sighed, “As her physician, it’s my recommendation that she not be told, her psyche is still vulnerable.”

“Duly noted, Mother,” I told her.

She gave me a look, but I stared her down and waited for her to add any more comments. She didn’t and I let it drop. By this time, we were all in the kitchen and Dani was cooking up something that smelled delicious. I got up from my chair and made myself a cup of coffee.

“What do you think, Dani,” I asked her as I leaned against the counter and watched her cook.

“As to whether or not she’ll obsess over this bit of news,” she asked for clarification and looked at me.

I nodded and she sighed.

“Nyx has a sharp mind,” she replied. “One of the best advantages of working with her is that she can look at a plan and view it from every angle and pinpoint vulnerabilities and ways to counteract possible obstacles. Then, she can take that plan and say if it failed this way, we can then do this to keep on task.”

“Contingencies upon contingencies.”

She nodded, smiling, “Exactly. In a way, it is obsessive. But because she thinks like that, she succeeds. I think that’s why she was doing so well outside the territory. Now, to point something out, she was able to look at her reaction to Lincoln and compare it to her behavior and character in an objective manner. Things didn’t jive to her, so she sought out advice from Indra. When she hears this news, she will know that there’s no way to actively prove her theory. She’ll know that she can’t risk exposing herself to the other survivors, since the possible outcome would be her death if it really is a telepathic manipulation. The reasons that we stated as to why the injuries of the survivors did not match with the dead, would be the same ones she’d come up with.”

“But would she obsess over trying to prove that her theory is either correct or incorrect?”

“No, I don’t think so. She’ll know it’s a long shot to go searching for the answers, but she’ll keep an eye out for possible connections if they should appear.”

“Then I should tell her?”

“If you’re asking what to do,” she said and turned to face me, “I can’t tell you what to do. Clarke, I’m not your mind nor your conscience. The decision is up to you. Just go with what you feel is right and hope that it was the right thing to do.”

I sighed, “You’re right. But thank you for letting me know what you think.”

She nodded and smiled, “Sure. We’re all worried about her, Clarke. She’s not ready to let the rest of us in yet, so all she has is you. Treat her with respect, honesty, and love and things will work out the way they’re supposed to. Trust me.”

“Thanks,” I said and went to sit back down at the breakfast table.

Soon, Dani was finished and we were all eating her delicious omelettes. They were so good that I surprised myself by eating three of them. As they finished, they went on their ways to do what they had to do that day, leaving me with Mom.

“Clarke,” she said as I finished eating. “Can we talk?”

I looked at her and said, “Sure. What do you want to talk about?”

“I want to apologize for what I did the other day. I should have trusted you,” she said looking at the cup in her hands.

“Yes, Mom, you should have,” I replied. “I’m not little anymore. Which means that I don’t need you to hold my hand constantly. Mom, I love you and I will always need you, but you hurt me.”

“I realize that and I’m sorry. It’s just the attack and then the nightmare…it was like you were that little girl again. I was so scared that she was going to kill you.”

“I was too, but I had to try. I have enough confidence in my powers and in Raven’s inhibitor disc, that I knew that I would be okay if she suddenly attacked me,” I said taking her hand in mine. “You didn’t see how she reacted when she saw me. Mom, she backed away from me, putting as much space as she could between the two of us. And the sadness on her face was heartbreaking. She remembered what she’d done and she felt so guilty about it. I got her to think about how the ones who loved her were feeling about the possibility of losing her. It guilted her enough that she started talking and then shifted. I didn’t coddle her. I didn’t bribe her. I just told her the truth. About how they felt. About how I felt.”

“That doesn’t change the fact that she is still vulnerable and anything can set her off again.”

“I realize that, Mom. That’s why we spend a lot of time talking through everything and being truthful with one another. She has to relearn how to live with the guilt and the pain of everything’s that happened. We both know that it’ll be a long recovery and there’s going to be a lot of bad days mixed in with the good. We’re not naïve to think it’s going be easy. She needs me as much as I need her. If having me there helps her, then that’s what I’m going to do.”

“So you’ve made up your mind and you’re fully committed to helping her.”

“Yes, for better or for worse. I’m going to be there for her,” I said as I got up from the table. “And in that regard, I really should be heading back.”

“Of course,” she replied. “Here, I’ll take care of the dishes and you head back.”

“Thank you,” I said. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep everybody informed and the guards are still outside our quarters.”

“Just don’t shut me out, Clarke.”

“I won’t. I love you, Mom,” I said and gave her a hug bye.

She nodded and I left the kitchen and walked briskly through the house. I was suddenly pulled into an alcove and screamed. A hand quickly covered my mouth and found out that it was Dani who had pulled me in it.

She lifted her hand gently from my mouth and I glared up at her and said, “What the hell, Dani? You just can’t grab people like that.”

She blushed and said, “I know. I’m sorry. I just…I just wanted to have a private moment with you.”

“Why?”

She looked very unsure of herself and was blushing furiously which made me very confused.

I laid a hand gently on her arm and she flinched at the touch, “Dani, what is it? You can tell me?”

“It’s, um, it’s not that simple,” she stuttered out.

“What’s not that simple?”

“Heh, ahem, um, you see…I, um, well, god,” she said growing very flustered and blushing even redder.

I smiled gently at her and said, “Breathe, Dani. Just breathe, okay?”

She nodded and took a few deep breaths, but when she tried to talk again, she could only open and shut her mouth.

She shook her head and was going to try again, but then she just said, “To hell with it,” and crushed me to her and kissed me deeply, hungrily, and passionately.

I was so surprised that I could only stand there as she kissed me and then I felt something uncurl and I was kissing her back with just as much passion. When we broke apart, we were left gasping and I looked at her very confused and very surprised.

She looked exactly like I felt and then she mumbled, “Sorry,” and took off running, leaving me in the alcove trying to catch my breath and figure out what had just happened.

I leaned back against the wall and closed my eyes. I took some steadying breaths to calm myself down as I raised my fingers to my lips. I knew that she liked me and said that she felt a pull similar to Nyx’s, but I had never imagined that she would have just straight up and kiss me like that. Or that I’d return it with an equal amount of passion. This was so very confusing for me and I had no idea what to do about it. I loved Nyx. Loved her with every fiber of my soul, but Dani? Dani was supposed to be the constant flirt, the one that probably had more one night stands than Nyx. So, why was I attracted to her in such a way that I would kiss her back like that. I even felt like I wanted her and that I didn’t want the kiss to end. There was a small part of me during that kiss to take it even further.

What the hell was wrong with me? I loved Nyx. Wanted to be with Nyx. I felt that to the core of my very being. So, why would I kiss Dani passionately and want more than just the kiss. It made no sense. Absolutely none. Oh, this was just so very confusing and I needed to talk to Nyx about this. No way was I going to hide this from her. I couldn’t. I just hope she didn’t want to hurt either one of us or be hurt by what happened, but how could she not. I just cheated on her, didn’t I? Ah, hell. I just needed to tell her the truth.

I shook my head and pushed myself away from the wall. I walked slowly back to our room trying to figure out what I was going to tell her. I stopped in front of the door and took a deep and steady breath and unlocked the door. I walked inside and saw Nyx sitting in front of the computer watching something. When she saw me, she smiled and got up to hug me. I was a little hesitant in returning the hug and she noticed straight away and stepped back to look at me, her smile fading.

“Clarke,” she asked worriedly, “Is everything okay?”

“Dani kissed me and I kissed her back. I liked it, I think,” I blurted out and cringed.

“The two of you kissed and you think you liked it,” she asked confused.

“Uh-huh, please don’t hate me,” I said and peaked at her face.

Her face was unreadable and I thought that shit was about to hit the fan, but she just took my hand and gently led me to the couch and we sat down.

“Dani kissed you and you kissed her back?”

“Yes,” I said ashamed. “I, I don’t know what came over me. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Niron,” she said and tilted my head so that I would look at her. “I’m not hurt. I’m surprised and knowing Dani, she probably just grabbed you and then kissed you.”

“How can you not be hurt? I kissed another woman,” I exclaimed, taken back by her reaction.

“It was just a kiss, sweetheart,” she said gently. “Let me explain something, before Lexa and I claimed one another, we still slept with other women even though you could say we were in a committed relationship. The nymphomania, as Octavia calls it, isn’t something that we can control. Most of the times, it was because someone else needed that urge met and we would help ease it. Monogamy isn’t something we necessarily confine ourselves to. Even my parents slept with other pack members after their claiming.”

“But I’m not a werewolf,” I said, still very confused.

“And you didn’t grow up in a sexual dynamic like this,” she said as she traced a finger around the edge of my face, making me close my eyes at the feeling.

“The way your pack is so open about sex is incomprehensible. I still don’t know why I want her, too.”

“Dani is a sexually attractive woman, even to non-werewolves,” she said, thinking, “Besides that, it’s perfectly natural for everyone to be attracted to other people. In normal society, they may fantasize about sleeping with that person, but rarely act on it. We don’t have that inhibition. Honey, it’s up to you if you want to sleep with her and act on it. I may be a little hurt, answering truthfully, just because you and I have been rather exclusive since I’ve been here. I’m not going to hate you for it. Or throw you out. Nothing like that. I’d probably suggest a threesome,”

“Seriously,” I said surprised. “A threesome?”

She shrugged and grinned, “Or a foursome or even a fivesome. I like having multiple partners at once. I know it sounds bad, it’s just what I like, but don’t worry, I wouldn’t force anything like that on you if you don’t want it.”

“God, you’re horrible,” I said, shaking my head. “And thank you for being considerate of my feelings. There is so much I don’t know about your pack and every time you tell me something new, it’s like mind boggling.”

She chuckled, “It usually is to outsiders. We are what we are and we’re quite comfortable with ourselves. It’s why there’s usually no hint of jealousy or feeling cheated on.”

“This is so weird,” I said leaning against the couch.

“Wanna watch how the six are doing? I figured out how to put it on the wall. All six views,” she asked.

“Yes, please. Anything to take my mind off this conversation,” I answered relieved to have something else to do.

She smiled and leaned in to kiss me, “Then it shall be so.”

Getting up, she walked over to the computer and soon enough all six cameras were on the wall. They were still in the transport and talking amongst themselves.

“They’ve forgotten already that we can hear everything they’re saying plus the fact that we have sharper hearing,” Nyx said as she pulled me to her and I snuggled into her arms.

“Have they said anything interesting,” I asked curiously.

“They’ve been talking about hijacking the truck and heading to the Coalition headquarters, but they have no idea where to go. And if they asked, they wouldn’t get an answer.”

“God, they are in for a world of hurt,” I said worriedly. “How much longer before they reach Old Towne?”

“They should just be at the outskirts of town.”

We watched in silence as they bounced along and continued to plan, making us laugh at their idiocy. Of course, it was Jaha pushing everyone to the plan. It took them a good forty minutes to reach the center of town. We watched in anticipation for them to make their move and when they did, it was hilarious to watch. They had barely made a step before the guards were on them and they forcibly threw them out of the truck and immediately took off before the last one had hit the ground. They immediately huddled together to come up with a new plan.

“What do we do now, Jaha,” one them asked, Matt was his name.

“Yeah,” another one said, Chris.

“We should find some place to stay for the night,” Jaha said, confidently.

They nodded and looked around to figure out a direction to go in.

“They said we’d be in the downtown area, right,” Matt asked.

“Yes, if we’re downtown, there should be a hotel or motel nearby,” Jaha replied. “Let’s try this direction, gentlemen.”

They headed off and constantly looked around them as they moved. I could make out other people walking down the streets going about their business. There weren’t a lot of people walking the streets this time of day, I guessed that they were probably at work.

From the other guys’ point of view, Jaha walked confidently and would only glance around every once in awhile. It was a little disorientating watching five views swivel all over the place as they took everything in.

“Man, look at all these buildings,” one of them said. “It looks like bombs went off everywhere.”

“It’s from the blasts and shockwaves of the nuclear bombs mostly,” another one answered. “I’m surprised there’s anything left standing. From what I heard, the East Coast was hit pretty hard.”

“If this is a small city, where are all the people at,” Chris asked.

“Probably at work,” another answered. “They still have to put food on the table and have a place to live. They have to have a way to pay for everything.”

I saw people approaching them and focused on Jaha’s view. When they neared, I could see the look of surprise on their faces and then it was replaced by derision.

“Excuse me, sir,” Jaha said as the closest of them neared for easy speaking, but he was ignored.

He tried again with the next one and got the same reaction.

The third try resulted in Jaha getting shoved to the ground and a growl.

Dirty human was heard among the men. Matt helped Jaha up as some of them turned back and watched the man who had shoved Jaha. The man turned his head and his hands flashed fire before it disappeared.

“Were,” Nyx whispered in my ear and I nodded.

Jaha brushed himself off and they took off again. This time, when Jaha saw someone approach, he didn’t bother to speak. Some of the people glared at them and flashed their powers, like they were flexing.

“I’m surprised no on has called the Garrison on them,” Nyx said.

“Why would they,” I asked. “They’re just walking.”

“There are six humans, tightly grouped,” she answered. “It’s rare to see that many humans together. The most you’d see is a group of three, but usually it’s one or two of them. And they’re someone’s slaves.”

I nodded. They had reached a big intersection and Jaha scanned in every direction. He finally spotted a motel sign to their left and they crossed the street. It looked seedy, much like the one we had initially stayed at. Seedy was probably their best chance of finding a place to stay.

As they made their way, storefronts began to be seen. At the entrances, there were signs saying ‘no humans allowed unless with an Apex/owner,’ ‘no humans allowed,’ or ‘humans go to the service entrance.’ When Jaha approached the door to the motel, I saw a sign for ‘no humans allowed,’ but Jaha ignored it and went through. The men followed, but huddled closer together. Nyx leaned forward slightly and I knew something was about to go down.

The clerk looked up and watched as they approached.

“No humans allowed,” the clerk said. “Be best if you turned around and left.”

“Sir, we’re not here to cause any trouble,” Jaha said trying to sound non threatening. “We’re just looking for a place to stay the night.”

“What don’t you understand about ‘no humans allowed,’ human?”

“We have money. We can pay.”

“Like I’d take money from a filthy human.”

“Now, see here sir,” Jaha said, his voice changing to one of authority. “There is no reason to speak to me in that manner when we are willing to pay for a room.”

“No, you see here, human,” the clerk said standing up. “No humans means no humans. Now get out of here before I make you.”

“I will do no such thing. I want to speak with your manager.”

He barked a laugh, “I am the manager, human. Anton!”

I huge barrel of a man came out of the back of the office and said, “You called, boss?”

“Yeah. Show these humans what we think of them.”

Anton grinned maliciously and walked around the corner. Everyone except Jaha backed away. As he walked, he shifted into a huge bear. A couple of them bolted and ran from the door. They made it outside and across the street. When Anton was close enough, he swatted Jaha and he slammed into a wall. Before anyone else could react, they all got the same treatment. It went dark and the only view of the motel came from the two that had escaped. Suddenly, bodies started flying out the door and land in the middle of the street with thuds. I could here the thuds come from them, which told me they were still alive.

As the bodies landed, the two rushed into the middle of the street and started carrying them across to the side they had been on. When the four were safely laid out, the two started to check their pulses. When one of them checked for a pulse from a guy named Freddie, there was a shake of the camera.

“Freddie’s dead.”

The other guy looked at him and asked, “Are you sure, Mike?”

“Yeah,” Mike answered. “No pulse and there’s blood pooling out from the back of his head.”

“We need to wake these guys up and get the hell out of here.”

They did the only thing they could think of, they started slapping them across the face until the men started to respond with moans and groans. They helped them to stand and they stood there, each holding the back of their heads or necks.

One of them looked down and saw Freddie laying on the ground and looked at Mike, “Freddie?”

“I’m sorry, Chris. He’s gone. I know the two of you were tight,” Mike said sympathetically.

Chris went over to Freddie’s body and closed his eyes for a moment. Jaha approached him and laid a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m sorry for your loss, Chris,” he said.

“He shouldn’t be dead,” Chris said angrily. “I’m going to get that bastard.”

Chris stood up and took a step towards the motel, but Jaha stopped him.

“Don’t. The man shifted into a bear, Chris. You have no way to defend yourself. You’d be killing yourself. Don’t let the people back home see that happen.”

“But Freddie,” Chris said weeping.

“I understand. We all mourn for him, but we’ve got to get moving.”

“What do we do with Freddie’s body,” Matt asked.

Jaha looked around and spotted an alley.

“There,” he pointed. “We’ll put his body there.”

“In an alley,” Chris said incredulously. “We’re just going to leave his body to the rats.”

“We have no choice, son,” Jaha said apologetically. “We have no tools to bury him nor can we carry him until we find a place to do that. I’m sorry.”

Chris nodded sadly and Matt joined him as they picked him up and carried him to the alley. They laid him down halfway and searched him for the money he had been given. Someone had already grabbed his pack. They stood around him and said a brief prayer and then made there way back onto the street.

“Should we try another motel,” Mike asked.

Someone shook his head, “Nah, man. We shouldn’t risk it.”

“Nonsense,” Jaha said. “Just because one establishment decided to act in this abysmal way does not mean they all will.”

They walked until they came across a hotel. They cautiously approached and there were signs of relief as they saw a sign that read for humans to go to the service entrance. Jaha was about to ignore the sign again.

“Jaha,” Matt said, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. The sign says to go around back.”

“I will not be treated like a second rate citizen,” he replied forcefully.

“You know what, I think I’ll stay out here and wait for you.”

The other men agreed and Jaha looked at them sternly, but when none moved to follow, he entered the door alone. He only made it five feet before he was stopped.

“I don’t think so,” the man said. “Humans go through the back.”

“Sir, I am only here to inquire about a room.”

The man didn’t answer, just grabbed Jaha by the collar and forcibly shoved him out of the door. The man looked at each of them and pointed to the sign before he went back inside. After Jaha gained his composure, he led the group around back and found the service entrance.

They opened the door and filed inside where they encountered a rather clean interior and a clerk. The clerk looked up at the sound of the door and stepped back at seeing them and then stepped back up to the counter.

He glared at them as they approached and waited.

“Our pardon, sir,” Jaha said diplomatically. “We are new to the area and we would like to inquire if there are any rooms available.”

The clerk laughed, “There ain’t no rooms for humans. Only beds. Just so happens we have exactly five beds that are free.”

“How much for the beds, then?”

The man’s eyes glanced at them and said, “600.”

They looked at one another and started pulling their money out to count.

“How much money were they given,” Nyx asked.

“I think a 100 a piece,” I answered.

“They’ll have just enough then.”

They finished counting and handed it all to Jaha. He presented the money to the clerk, who then proceeded to examine each bill to make sure it wasn’t fake.

“Alright, then,” the clerk said. “Sign this log with each of your names then head down the hallway and take a right at the first intersection. No meals, so you’ll have to figure out how to feed yourselves. Communal bathroom is at the end of the room. Enjoy your stay.”

Everybody filled out the log and followed Jaha to the room indicated. It was nothing but a long room filled with bunks. There were people scattered about who looked way worse then our group did. They found five beds near each other and laid their packs on them.

“That was all of our money, Jaha,” Chris said. “What are we going to do now? We won’t be able to spend another night here.”

“That’s alright, Chris,” Jaha said placating him. “We’ll figure something out. Let’s just eat some of our food and rest.”

They dug into their food and sat around eating quietly as they looked at the other people in the room. Some of them looked at their food hungrily and watched them intently.

“These guys look like shit,” Mike said quietly. “What the hell did we get thrown into?”

“You think all of them will look like that,” Matt asked.

“I’m sure they’re just homeless,” Jaha answered congenially. “Ignore them.”

Nyx muted the sound and said, “I don’t think anything else will happen today.”

“Damn,” I said. “Freddie’s gone. His parents will be devastated once they find out.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Thanks, but I think I’m okay,” I said, thinking. “I mean it’s bad, but I didn’t really know him.”

“I wasn’t expecting a death so soon.”

“I don’t think anyone was. I wonder how they took it.”

“Probably horrified.”

“Do you think they’ll do anything.”

She shook her head, “No. They’re probably glued to the screens watching to see if anything else happens.”

“Well, that killed a few hours,” I said stretching.

She chuckled, “It did. Are you hungry for lunch?”

“Mmm, yes please.”

“Alright then,” she said and hugged me tightly before she got up and stretched. “Sandwiches good?”

“Yep.”

She went into the kitchen to make lunch and I headed over to the computer and checked in with Jackson to see how the patients were doing. They were doing well and had been told that there were possible side effects. They were also informed that they had another week of recovery before they could be formally found cured of the toxin. We chatted for a bit until Nyx was done with the sandwiches.

“Nyx,” I said after carefully judging her mood, “I spoke with Indra this morning.”

She looked up at me and said, “Oh. Anything interesting?”

“She made the inquiries you asked for.”

“Did she find anything,” she asked, perking up a bit.

I nodded, “She did. She showed the photo of the woman and some of them recall vaguely of having seen her around the time that they were at the border. It’s possible it was just a coincidence that they were there at the same time, since it was around the same time that she was applying for admittance into the territory.”

“Makes sense.”

“Then she had Scarlett compare their injuries to those in the photos. Some of their injuries came from you, but the majority of them weren’t. The theory is that they did it to each other.”

“Which could mean that they were telepathically manipulated, but most likely they did it so that I wouldn’t notice they were still alive.”

“I’m sorry it’s not the news you were hoping for,” I said and squeezed her hand.

She smiled wanly at me, “It’s alright. At least I know that I was partially right in regards to them. They did see her and that their injuries weren’t from me.”

“Does that help you any?”

“It does. It’s a bit of a relief knowing that I didn’t cause them physical pain.”

“You’re not going to go overthinking about this, are you?”

“No. If they were manipulated into having compulsions, it’s impossible to tell by a brain scan or by an average telepath. I’m not strong enough with the inhibitor to go sniffing about their brains to go looking. It’s a bit of verification for me.”

“Dani told me that she agrees that your reactions were very uncharacteristic for you.”

She nodded, “That’s what I hoped. Sometimes I can inflate my own abilities to appear bigger and whatnot then I actually have.”

“And you’re sure you’re okay with this?”

She smiled and leaned over the table to give me a quick kiss, “I am. I’m not going to lose any sleep over this news.”

“Good,” I said and we finished the meal.

We checked to see how our group was doing, but they weren’t doing anything so, we found another way to pass the afternoon away

Chapter Text

That night was the first time I experienced Nyx having a nightmare. She woke up screaming in the middle of the night and it took hours to calm her down enough to let her get some more sleep. We were both exhausted by morning and she kept apologizing to me.

“Nyx, you don’t have to keep apologizing,” I said around a yawn as she made breakfast. “We knew this was going to happen eventually.”

“I know, but I feel bad about it,” she said looking at me. “I had forgotten how bad they could be.”

“Hey,” I said as I came up and hugged her from behind. “It’s okay. We’ll get through this.”

She nodded, but her mood stayed melancholic. When the food was ready, we sat at the table and I checked my messages.

“Damn,” I said. “Jax was killed last night.”

“What happened,” she asked, looking at the screen.

“There was apparently a scuffle last night and another human killed him trying to grab his pack. The others stopped him, but it was too late to try and save him.”

She looked up at the wall where their cameras were still playing and unmuted the sound. They weren’t saying much, just hurrying down the streets and keeping an eye out. There were more people out at this time of day. We watched as people avoided them, knocked into them, and even a woman with a child saw them and quickly crossed the street in fear. It was a little hard to watch so I returned to my meal.

Nyx continued to watch as she ate her meal, frowning at what she saw.

“What are you thinking,” I asked curiously.

She seemed startled and looked at me a little surprised, but replied, “Um, it’s this perspective. It’s slightly unnerving to watch. From a human perspective, you know? There is so much hate and disdain coming from the Apex. I realized that I probably looked at them the same way. I never even considered how they felt at their treatment, but now I am.”

“Does this mean you’re starting to like humans?”

“I don’t know, but I think I’m starting to sympathize with what they go through. What we consider normal behavior isn’t always the right kind of behavior, I think. I mean they’ve only been in the city maybe 24 hours and two of them have already been killed, it’s sad.”

“This is hard to watch,” I said. “It’s not because I grew up with these people, I grew up believing I was human. If I wasn’t an Apex, that could be me. I seriously doubt you’d have given me the time of day, if that were the case.”

She looked at me thoughtfully and said, “You’re right, I wouldn’t have. I may have noticed how beautiful you are, but I wouldn’t have cared if you lived or died. Plus, you wouldn’t have been allowed in the bar.”

“That says a lot about how Apex are raised.”

“I guess it does,” she said falling back into silence.

I reached over and muted the sound again and glanced one last time at the screens.

“Nyx, are you feeling alright,” I asked concerned over her mood.

She gave me a crooked smile and said, “Probably not. Nightmare, lack of sleep, and watching this isn’t a conducive environment to being in a good mood.”

“Wanna try and get some more sleep?”

She sighed and looked around the room and said, “I guess I should, but you should too. You’re just as tired as I am.”

“Maybe I will, but I’d like to take a walk first. Are you okay with that?”

She frowned as she thought about it, “Not really, but if you really feel like a walk, then you should take a walk.”

“What if I got you a tranq stick? That would help you sleep deeply and you might not be disturbed by your nightmares.”

“Yeah, that sounds good, just not four x dosage. That knocked me out nearly all day.”

“Two x?”

She nodded, “Yeah, that sounds good. I’m in my human form, so it shouldn’t burn off nearly as quickly as it would when I’m in my wolf form.”

I leaned over and kissed her and whispered, “Okay. I’ll let Jackson know and maybe he’ll give us a few so that you can rest easier.”

“How about we use them only if I can’t sleep or the nightmares are bad?”

“Deal.”

“Thank you,” she whispered to me and pulled me in for a deeper kiss.

I got ahold of Jackson and was soon in possession of four tranq sticks. Nyx settled into the bed and injected herself with one. I stayed with her until she fell asleep. I moved the hair off her face and gave her a kiss on her forehead. Her mouth quirked in a small smile before it went slack.

I left the room and strolled towards Mom’s and Jackson’s office. Mom was sitting behind the desk when I knocked on the door.

Mom looked up and a smile lit her face, “Clarke, what a pleasant surprise. Did you need something?”

I shook my head and came in, “I was wondering if any of them were showing signs of developing powers.”

“As a matter of fact, there’s a few. Want to see for yourself?”

“Please.”

She brought up a total of five scans and zoomed into the sections. They were weak, but showed a definite spark. It was too soon to tell their powers, but you could tell there were three werewolves.

I leaned back in the chair and said thoughtfully, “You know it’s interesting, Mom, that there are more werewolves than mages.”

“Why is that interesting,” she asked currently.

“Well, when we did the brain scan on the people who hadn’t been affected by the toxin, we had 13 werewolves and only 9 mages.”

“Do you think it means anything?”

“It could. Since we’re in werewolf territory, the cure is trying to create enough werewolves to make a bigger pack.”

“How can a cure do that? That doesn’t make sense.”

“It does if you consider that Mother Earth could be manipulating the mutations. She is the original creator of the Apex, after all.”

“I’m still wrapping my head around the fact that this is all real. That Mother Earth actually exists,” she said shaking her head in disbelief.

“Well, it’s hard to ignore the fact when you can do this,” I said and created a small ball of lightning in the palm of my hand. “On top of the fact that the pack can communicate with Mother Earth.”

I let the ball fade back into my hand as my mother looked on in awe.

She cleared her throat and asked, “How is Nyx doing?”

I sighed and replied, “She had her first nightmare last night. We were up a very long time before she could calm down to get some more sleep. I had to tranq her just so she could get some solid rest.”

“You had to tranq her?”

“Yeah, it was the only way I could get out of there for a little while. We only used a double dose though.”

“You know it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better,” she said worried.

“I know, Mom. I just hope that I’m up for it.”

“You can always ask the others to help, too, if you need to take a break from keeping an eye on her.”

I smiled wanly, “Only if Nyx allows it. Right now, she only trusts me.”

She frowned, “That’s not good, either. She needs to let the others back into her life.”

“She has to a point,” I replied. “She speaks to them telepathically if they search her out or her them. Or she calls them up on the computer. She’s not keeping them out of the loop and ignoring them completely.”

“Still, you’ve got to start letting them into the room so she can adjust being around them. It’s not always a good plan to continue to isolate herself.”

I nodded, “I’ll talk to her about it. Mom, I better get going. I want to walk around for a bit more before I try to get some sleep of my own.”

“Alright, sweetheart. Just remember that if you need to take a step back there are other people who would be willing to step in.”

“Thanks, Mom. I’ll see you later,” I said and left the office.

She had given me something to think about that honestly, I had forgotten I could do. It would be nice to have some more solid help, but it was something that I had to discuss with Nyx before I could ask them. And really, it was only one nightmare for now. We’d see over time just exactly how bad it was.

I walked into the sunlight and shaded my eyes until they could adjust. I walked around heading towards the fields and the new greenhouses. Walking into one was like walking into fields of crops. I ran my hands gently over the new stalks as I walked through it. The earth mages were hard at work and I watched as the pack members taught ours in how to efficiently use their powers. Monroe looked around and when she saw me, smiled and waved. I waved back, but didn’t walk over to her. She needed to concentrate and I was glad that she found something that let her feel good about herself.

Next, I headed over to the compound. Mainly, because it was habit. I entered it and headed straight to the back yard. Stepping out, I noticed that there were a lot of things going on at once. Some of the wolves were working out on the obstacle course as others were learning to use their powers while in their wolf form. Mages were working on efficiency and target practice. I watched a little bit of that and was mildly impressed at how well they seemed to be doing. I saw Dani over by the obstacle course and made my way over to her. I felt we needed to have a conversation about the other day.

She apparently had a bit of sixth sense because she turned towards me as I started walking across. She looked about like she was looking for someplace to hide, but when she couldn’t find one, she walked over and we met in the middle.

“Hey, Clarke,” she said shyly.

“Hi,” I replied. “Can we talk?”

She nodded looking a little worried, but I smiled at her as we walked back to the house.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to yell or anything,” I said to reassure her. “I just want to understand the other day.”

“Oh, okay,” she said looking out of the corner of her eye at me. “Look, I’m really sorry that I did that out of the blue. It’s just that I can’t seem to get you out of my mind.”

“Really,” I said, intrigued. “Come on, let’s head up to my room.”

“You sure that a good idea?”

“It’s the only place where we’ll have privacy, Dani.”

She nodded and said, “Okay.”

We walked up to my room in silence. When we got to my room, I warded the door and she looked at me with renewed worry.

“To keep people out,” I replied. “And to keep you from bolting like you usually like to do.”

“Oh,” she said and sat in the chair by the desk.

I sat on the bed and crossed my legs so that I was sitting fully on the bed.

I looked at her, but she couldn’t look me in the eyes.

“Can you tell me the why behind the kiss?”

She blushed a scarlet red before she glanced at me and quickly back down. She sighed and said, “It’s just that I couldn’t take it anymore. Like I said, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you. The more I’m here, the greater the pull towards you. I’m visiting the barracks nightly trying to curb what I really want to do.”

“Which would be to sleep with me,” I said.

She nodded, “I know how it sounds, but I just had to kiss you. I think it was a mistake to do that, because it makes it even harder to control myself.”

“I had a conversation with Nyx about what happened.”

“Oh,” she said looking up at me. “What did she say? She’s not mad at me, is she?”

I shook my head and smiled, “No, she understands and is quite comfortable with it.”

She visibly relaxed and said, “I’m glad. I was worried that I put a wedge between you two.”

“No, she surprised me really. She took it like it wasn’t a really big deal and told me it was frequent to have multiple partners even if you’re in a committed relationship with someone.”

She grinned sardonically, “She would. She’s always been so chill when it comes to things like that. Honestly, Lexa is too.”

“Really? They seem to be quite the pair, don’t they?”

“You have no idea. Even after they claimed one another, they always welcomed me into their bed if I wanted to.”

“Did that surprise you knowing that they were planning to spend the rest of their lives together?”

“A little, but it spoke volumes about them. They knew that I was a little hurt that neither one of them wanted to claim me too.”

“So, they gave you the next best thing.”

She smiled, “Yeah, they did. We were inseparable as kids and our affection grew with one another.”

“Nyx made it seem like you made a habit of grabbing women and kissing them.”

She blushed, “I may have done that a few times when I wanted to steal a moment.”

“With them?”

“Yeah, it usually turned into more than just a kiss. I knew that I couldn’t do that with you, though. I figured you’d have a hard time understanding that this is natural for us.”

I nodded, “It is hard to understand, but I’m beginning to.”

“Oh,” she replied hopefully.

I chuckled, “Yes. She helped me understand that what I was feeling towards you was natural. That it was okay to be attracted to other women even though I’m with her.”

“She told you that,” she asked surprised.

On impulse, I got up and kneeled before her.

I smiled shyly up at her and said, “Yes, she did. I’m gonna kiss you now.”

She looked at me surprised as I stood up and held her head gently in my hands. Her eyes widened, and her breath came in short gasps as I leaned down and brought my lips to hers. The kiss naturally went deeper and I felt desire building and let myself accept it. Her arms reached around me and brought me closer. I sat on her lap as we continued to kiss. When we parted, she looked at me in wonderment.

“Why,” she asked me hoarsely with emotion.

“Because I wanted to. When we first met, I could understand why Nyx fell in love with you.”

“Really,” she asked surprised.

“Yes,” I said smiling. “You’re a very attractive woman, Dani.”

She smiled and I chuckled.

“And when we were in the kitchen alone and you kept complimenting me, I started to feel attracted to you. Made me really confused.”

“Hmm, and now that we’ve kissed again?”

I smiled and said softly, “It’s still there and a tad more.”

“How much more?”

In answer, I leaned down and kissed her again. She ran her hands lightly up my back and my body shivered in response. She chuckled huskily, breaking the kiss and feeling emboldened, her lips traveled down my throat making me gasp in pleasure.

I started to lose myself as her lips traveled lower and I didn’t want her to stop. She kissed my breast through my shirt and the friction cause my nipples to raise and I moaned.

“God, you are so beautiful, Clarke,” she whispered.

I looked down at her as she looked up at me, her eyes filled with desire. I felt my own desire respond to hers and I greedily captured her mouth with mine. She moaned, parting her mouth and I plunged deeper into the kiss. Her hands had traveled back to my waist and I felt them tighten. Her thumbs slid under my shirt and inched it upward. I allowed her until it was off of me and she stared in wonder. She looked up at me and I nodded slightly. She took a breast in her mouth and I moaned. I lost myself as she picked me up and carried me to the bed.

I woke up laying amidst crumpled sheets and Dani’s breath in my ear. I lay there, amazed at myself at what I did. It was so unlike me to just randomly indulge myself like this. I shifted onto my side and looked at her. Her arm tightened around my waist and pulled me slightly closer. Once more, stirred by something greater than me, I leaned over and kissed her. She willingly parted her lips and shifted so that I lay on top of her. I couldn’t believe I wanted her again, but lost myself a second time.

This time, I woke up to Dani tracing my face and I smiled up at her.

“Regrets,” she asked.

“None,” I replied.

“Me neither,” she said and kissed me gently.

“Now, I understand why Nyx spoke about your power in such a way.”

She chuckled, “Well, you gave as much as I did.”

“I did?”

“Mm-hm.”

“I didn’t realize I did that.”

She looked at me confused, “You didn’t?”

I shook my head, “I kinda got lost in the moment.”

“Hmm. That ever happen before?”

“Frequently with Nyx,” I answered softly.

“Speaking of Nyx, you should be getting back to her.”

I made a face and replied, “You’re right, but I need to take a shower first.”

She grinned slyly, but I shook my head and said, “Alone, Dani. I don’t think I can handle a third time.”

She pouted, but let me go. When I got out, she was already dressed and waited patiently at the desk.

“You didn’t have to stay,” I said as I dried my hair.

She laughed, “I probably would have left, but you warded the door, remember.”

I blushed and said, “I forgot. Sorry.”

“No worries.”

I pulled on my boots and took down the ward. Dani came up behind me and wrapped an arm around my waist. I leaned back into her for a moment and she gently kissed behind my ear.

“You didn’t have to do this, you know,” she said softly.

“I know, I just wanted to,” I answered and turned around.

I looked up into her eyes and saw a look of worry in them.

“What are you worried about?”

She cracked a smile, “I’m worried about what all this means?”

“What do you mean,” I asked creasing my brow.

“I feel a bond between us,” she said carefully. “And at the same time, the bond between me and Nyx feels stronger. I’m starting to wonder what it is about you that is pulling us together, the three of us.”

“So you think I’m at the center of all of this?”

“I’m beginning to believe so,” she said as she moved a strand of my hair behind my ear. “You are a remarkable woman, Clarke.”

I blushed and she grinned, then planted a kiss on my lips.

I opened the door behind me and left, leaving Dani leaning against the door watching me. I chanced a glance back and she smiled at me, I smiled in return.

 

When I got back to our room, Nyx was still asleep. I made myself a cup of coffee and turned the sound on to the screens. It looked like they had found shelter in an abandoned house. They were discussing whether or not they should make their way back home since they’d already lost two of their own. Jaha, of course, wanted to stick it out, trying to reassure them that they were perfectly safe. Seeing the look on their faces, they didn’t agree with him. Jaha actually wanted to make his way to the Coalition and expose the Forest Pack and the fact that there were over a 100 humans being held captive here. I scoffed. The man didn’t even know where the Coalition had their headquarters. For that matter, I didn’t either.

I heard a rustling from the bedroom and I muted the screen. Nyx came slowly out of the room and made her way to the couch where she flopped down, laying her head on my lap.

“Did you get any rest,” I asked noticing how tired she still looked.

“I’m not sure. I was dreaming in fragments, good and bad,” she answered, looking up at me. “I didn’t wake up, but my mind still feels like it’s been beat up.”

“Hurts?”

“Mm-hm.”

“Let’s see if I can help with that,” I said and put my coffee down on the table.

I turned around a little bit and started massaging her shoulders. She groaned when I found a knot and tensed as I worked it out. She sighed when she felt it ease. I moved up to her neck and then the base of her skull. I worked my way up until I was gently working on her temples. I could tell the pain was lessening as she continued to relax.

“Better,” I asked as I rested my hands around her neck.

“Much, thank you,” she said, her eyes closed. “How was your walk?”

“It helped,” I said. “Mom showed me brain scans of five people showing signs of becoming Apex. Three more werewolves and two mages.”

“And not even a full four weeks yet,” she said.

“Mm-hm. I starting to think that the cure will produce more werewolves than mages.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Well, Octavia’s pack has more members than there are mages right now. When you throw in Kane and the three in recovery, that brings the total to 17. Mages number 11, I think.”

“Mm, it’s possible,” she said thinking, “but we’ll know more soon. Go anywhere else?”

“Just the compound,” I replied casually. “Watched them training for a bit.”

“How are they looking?”

“Good. They’re really catching on quick.”

“When you accomplish a goal successfully it builds confidence. Then it keeps building and you don’t freak out so much when you fail.”

I smiled and said, “I can attest to that. It’s an amazing feeling when you do something right.”

“It is, but sometimes it can lead to overconfidence, which in turn can become deadly.”

“Double edged sword?”

“Mm-hm. It’s important to find a balance between confidence and a healthy dose of common sense. It’s why I stress learning your limits.”

“I can understand that,” I said thinking. “I, um, ran into Dani at the compound.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, we had a talk about the kiss.”

“And?”

“She told me that she hasn’t been able to stop thinking about me. That she’s been visiting the barracks nightly trying to get me out of her mind. Didn’t work, so she kissed me, which in turn made it worse for her.”

“Oof, that’s heavy, but I can understand how she feels. I had the same problem.”

“Really,” I said, smiling.

She looked up at me bemusedly and said, “Really. It’s hard to describe, but there’s this constant desire and pull when it comes to you. I can tell you feel the same way.”

“Oh, really? Do tell.”

She chuckled, “Every time I’ve come into the same room where you are, you never stop looking at me and sometimes there’s this hungry look in your eyes. You initiate as much as I do. You’re probably have had more sex in the past three weeks, then you’d ever thought possible.”

I laughed, “Yeah, you’re right. I’m surprised that I can walk straight.”

She smiled, “Something else happened today with Dani, didn’t it?”

I blushed and said softly, “Yeah, um, we ended up sleeping together.”

Her smile widened, “And I don’t think you mean actually sleeping.”

“No.”

“That explains why I feel closer to her.”

“She said that she felt the bond between you two grew stronger and that she feels one between me and her,” I said confused.

“Ah, I’d forgotten our bond.”

“Bond?”

She sat up and turned to look at me and explained, “A bond is something that is deeper than a claiming. It’s extremely rare because bondmates actually feel one another, like they’re connected in similar ways to twins. The three of us, me, Lexa, and Dani bonded nearly 15 years ago. It could have been because that’s the first time we all slept together. After that, it grew stronger as we got older and we could tell exactly what each other was thinking without looking at one another. Sometimes we would scare the Council when we’d finish each other’s sentences or spoke nearly identically.”

“Did it go away when you were banished?”

“It didn’t go away, per se, but it diminished greatly because we were no longer in contact with one another. Our bond strengthened when Lexa and I made up and rekindled our relationship and got stronger the night we all slept together. Even my bond with you has gotten stronger.”

“Wait, you knew we were bonded?”

“Yeah, sorry I didn’t mention that before. It became apparent when you got me to talk and shift for you.”

“So, the three of us are bonded? Wait, does that mean I’m bonded to Lexa, too?”

“Yes to the first question. I don’t know if you are bonded to Lexa. The two of you would have to meet and see if there’s any kind of pull towards each other, similar to what happened when you met Dani.”

“Oh.”

“It doesn’t mean that you have to claim either one of us, if that makes you feel better. It just means that we’re more deeply connected than normal Apex.”

“Hold up,” I said, looking at her sternly. “I can claim you or Dani?”

“Yes,” she replied. “Mages claim differently than weres and it usually occurs between a were and a mage. It’s different than our biting. Mages actually brand those they claim if it’s a were.”

“Does claiming make the bond different?”

“Actually, yes it does. It binds them closer and it becomes like they’re constantly in the back of their mind. Not invasive like you lose the difference between yourself and the other person. They’re just always there.”

“How come neither you nor Lexa claimed Dani?”

“Honestly?”

“Mm-hm.”

“Because we thought she didn’t want to be claimed. We figured she would say something if it was something she was interested in.”

I shook my head and said, “She thought it was because neither one of you were interested in her that way.”

She laughed, “God, we never knew. We spent most of our time with her trying to get her to claim us. It wasn’t because we felt bad for her or anything. We were giving her a choice. Man, we should have just had a conversation with her after we claimed one another.”

“But it didn’t and she thinks that you didn’t want her in that way.”

“Looks like at some point, she and I will have to have a long conversation.”

“I’d say that it’s a long overdue conversation.”

“You’re right.”

“Now, can you tell me why I’m not running for the hills over all of this?”

“No clue. You’re just special.”

“God, I’d wish you would stop telling me that. I feel like everyone is in on some giant secret that they refuse to tell me.”

“Nope, we’re all in the dark with you.”

Something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye and I turned towards the screen. The four of them were suddenly on the run and from their glances back, they were being chased by three people. I reached over and turned up the volume.

We watched and listened as they pushed each other to run faster. We started to see the ground shoot up around them, fire in front of them making them change course, and water trying to trip them up.

“What the…,” I said not understanding what was going on.

“Slavers,” Nyx said quietly. “They’re trying to capture your humans to put on the slave market.”

“There’s a slave market? Like an actual slave market?”

“Yeah, but these guys aren’t official looking, meaning it’s black market slaving. Which is real bad if any of them get caught.”

“What are you talking about? Can’t we call someone,” I pleaded.

She shook her head, “No, there’s no one to call and even if we got somebody to listen, they would want to know how we know. We can’t have them associated with us in anyway.”

“Fuck. What do you mean by bad?”

She started ticking things off of fingers, “Sex slave, fighter fodder, human experiments, game hunt, food, torture, any evil thing you can think of and it’s there.”

I shuddered at the impending horror as I watched in dread. There was a grumbling noise and suddenly earth shot up right in front of everyone. All but one hit the earth and immediately blacked out. The one that got away, ran even faster and eventually found an abandoned house to hide in. The audio on the three knocked out men was still working and we could hear the conversation the other three were having.

“That was nice work, Billy,” a voice said. “Bribing that clerk was the smartest thing you’ve ever done.”

There was a low whistle and then a voice said, “Will you look at these boys? Wherever they’ve been hiding sure kept them fit. They don’ look like they nev’ missed a meal.”

“Yeah, Sullivan will be as pleased as honey on a biscuit when he sees this haul.”

“How much you think we gonna get for ‘em?”

“Mebee 500 a piece? I don’ know. It’s too bad we lost one, tho’”

“Yeah, he’d a been good for a game hunt. I hear Ice Pack lookin’ for some fresh meat.”

I felt Nyx bristle at the name and laid a hand gently on her arm and gave it a quick squeeze. She placed her hand over mine and squeezed back, her eyes glued to the screens.

“Well, come on den. Bes’ not keep the boss waitin’ for these fresh pickin’s.”

We heard them grunt as they hauled them up and moved them. We heard a door open up and three thuds as they were dumped in the vehicle. The door slammed shut and the engine started up.

We looked over at the one who had escaped and he was crying. My heart went out to him.

“Can we get him,” I asked.

“It’s not up to me to decide, Clarke,” she said shaking her head. “Your Council will have to decide and then petition Indra to send someone out to fetch him. I don’t think that’s likely though. She’ll see it as a waste of resources. I’d agree with her. It’s not worth our men to get one human back here. If he wants to make his way back, all well in good, but we’re not going to help him.”

“What about the other three?”

“They’re as good as dead, Clarke. Raven needs to increase the encryption on the implants, like 50 times, to keep anyone from getting any information off of them.”

“What kind of information could they possibly get?”

She looked at me and coldly said, “Where they came from.”

“No. We can absolutely not let them know where they came from. They’ll try and take everyone.”

“Exactly.”

“Let me get in touch with Raven.”

“Tell her not to cut the feeds of the three from the rest of the humans until after they’ve been sold.”

“Why not now?”

“The humans still have to know what happens when the wrong Apex capture the humans for slavery.”

“I’ll let her know,” I said sadly.

I went over to the computer and got ahold of Raven. She was just as taken aback about keeping the cameras rolling after I explained where they were being taken. She didn’t like it, but she agreed to do it. When I hung up with her another vidcall came through. I answered it and was surprised at seeing Ben on the other end.

“Ben, what a pleasant surprise,” I said. “Did you need to talk to Nyx?”

“Yes, ma’am if you please,” he said. “It’s important.”

Nyx came up behind me at hearing Ben’s voice.

“Ben,” she asked warily. “What’s going on?”

“I think you better sit down for this one, boss. By the way, it’s good to see you back in human form.”

“Thanks, Ben,” she said dryly as she sat down.

We scooted ourselves so that we could both see him comfortably.

“I got some bad news.”

“Okay. Spill it.”

“The Garrison Commander was found dead this morning after being missing for over four weeks.”

“Damn. How?”

“Torn apart limb from limb. Much like the human that witch kept.”

“You think it’s the same people?”

“I’d bet on it. He disappeared the night our house blew up.”

“Fuck. This can’t be good. What the hell did that bitch find that would’ve brought them to visit the Garrison Commander?”

“I don’t know, but they were captured on video speaking with him outside his home and then walking into it together. They’ve put out a bolo and are asking anyone who may be able to help identify them.”

“Did you send them what we know?”

“I did, through anonymous servers and emails, including the name of the woman.”

“Good man. Any other news?”

“I’ve been watching the camera feeds you implanted into the humans. I recognized the name they said, Sullivan. Nyx, he’s real bad news. He’s the one you go to if you really don’t want anyone to know you’re buying humans. Only the worse of the worse buy from him, including Ice Pack.”

She rocked back into her chair and I could feel her vibrate with anger.

“Sorry, boss, but it also appears that they’re roaming the market for fresh meat as well as hunting you down.”

“Thanks for letting me know. Have you already informed de Pakstoka of this?”

“Yeah, boss. She knows and wanted me to pass on that the Western Border is closed down. No one’s getting in or out. They’re replacing the entire guard and leadership. The rest are being tried for treason.”

“What the fuck did that bitch do?”

“I don’t know, boss, but it took her eight years to find out that the border was a huge ass leak. Who knows what information went out that way.”

“And there’s nothing for you to follow either, is there?”

“I’m afraid not. Not a single file, image, bit, or paper trail. Whatever information they got a hold of is gone and probably in the Bear King’s hands.”

“Dammit,” she seethed.

“It’s alright, Nyx,” I told her, rubbing her back. “There’s time to figure the Ice Pack out. We have other things to concentrate on. Like you getting better.”

She nodded and closed her eyes. She took some deep cleansing breaths and slowly relaxed. When she opened her eyes, they seemed clearer.

“Thanks for letting me know, Ben. I appreciate you keeping me in a loop,” she said.

“No problem, boss. Just work on getting better. Maybe you should consider taking the medication again.”

She nodded and smiled at him wryly, “I’ll think about it. I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Right-o, Nyx. Bye,” he said and the computer screen went back to my inbox.

“Nyx,” I said worriedly, “are you okay.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I’m okay,” she said, not looking me in the eye.

“Nyx, look at me.”

She glanced at me, but then quickly turned her attention to the wall.

“Seriously, Nyx. A glance isn’t cutting it.”

She heaved a long sigh and looked at me. There was burning rage in her eyes and she was tense again.

“Nyx, there isn’t anything you can do about it,” I said carefully keeping my voice calm. “You’re wasting energy. You need to relax.”

She shook her head and replied, “I’m trying. It’s just that every time I start to think about everything, my mind goes right back to the bitch and the Ice Pack. They ruined my life and are now hunting me because I’ve cost them information on Lexa and the pack. And I can’t do a damn thing about it. I’m stuck in this damn room, because I can’t get myself to take one step beyond that door. I should be out there hunting her down and ending her and the Bear King. Make them pay for everything.”

“Nyx, that’s not the answer. You can’t just kill them because they messed up your life. The better question is to ask why. Why did they feel the need to get rid of you? Why are they so desperately looking for a way to take Lexa down? The question is why?”

“It’s not fair, you know,” she said sniffling. “I did everything right. I trained. I learned. I kept Lexa safe. Then they destroyed it in a single day. It took me so long to feel halfway normal. To move on. To forgive Lexa. To learn to love again.”

“I know, sweetheart. It’s not fair that they can continue what they have been. Thanks to you, Lexa found out the truth. You’ve shut down the leak. You’ve shut down the Western Border. Ice Pack won’t be able to get back in here.”

She scoffed, “All we’ve done is slow them down. Whatever their endgame is, they’re not going to stop. I’ve done nothing.”

“You’ve bought the pack time, Nyx,” I said, forcibly trying to get her to listen to me. “Nyx, you’ve done good. You went above and beyond what you were hired to do. You proved that what you saw was real to you. You ousted a spy, uncovered a conspiracy, welcomed back into the pack, made up with Lexa, and you’re right where you’re supposed to be. This is just a hiccup. A slightly dangerous hiccup, but a finite one. You’ve got to trust yourself again and we can help you regain that self-trust. You are worthy of our help and trust and love. Don’t let the Ice Pack win by losing yourself. Fight.”

She sighed and laid her head on her arms and sounding muffled said, “Logically, I know you’re right. I know that. Then there’s all these self-doubts and I’m beating myself up mentally because I feel like such a failure. Like all of the good that I have done these last 8 years are meaningless, no matter how many people I’ve helped or saved. Not even the reputation that I worked so hard to cultivate. That confidence is gone and I’m not sure I’ll ever get it back this time.”

“Nyx, the very fact that you can identify and voice these thoughts and feelings is a sign that you’re fighting to get better. You know what to work on. Now, you have to stay motivated to changing those thought patterns. That’s why I’m here, in this room, with you. That’s why everyone else wants to help you beat this. You are worthy and you are loved.”

She shifted her head until she looked at me with one eye and said, “We’re going to be having this conversation or some variation for awhile, aren’t we?”

I smiled at her and replied, “Until you start believing it, yes. Nyx, I love you. I realize that this sucks and you want to just curl up and hide in a corner of the closet, but you can’t do that. I won’t let you.”

“You know,” she said as she propped her head up to look at me better, “I’m not so angry anymore.”

I leaned over and gave her a kiss, “That’s because we talked, silly. Talking helps.”

“Hmm,” she said and pulled me closer. “Thank you.”

I nodded and kissed her again. She deepened the kiss and when we parted, she said, “I love you, Clarke.”

“I love you, too, Nyx.”

Chapter Text

Three Weeks Earlier

Kneeling in front of the throne, I glanced briefly at the Bear King. I knew he wasn’t going to be happy with me when I told him the news. I trembled at the thought that this might be my last moments alive.

“What news do you bring me, Loufa,” he asked, coldly.

I took a deep shuddering breath and said, “I have failed you a third time, Sire. Nyx Allistar still lives. I was unable to find her in Old Towne.”

He roared and I shrank into myself and waited for the axe to fall. He stomped down the dais and hit me so hard that I flew several feet until I landed in a heap. My head was swimming and my body was racked with pain as he strode over to me. I whimpered as he stood over me.

“I warned you what would happen if you failed me a third time, wolf.”

“Y-y-yes, Sire. I deserve to die for failing you. I expect nothing more,” I stammered and waited fearfully.

“Before you die, were you able to learn anything that might be useful?”

“Yes, your highness. We did gather new information.”

“Tell me,” he demanded impatiently.

“I was able to find a photo of a woman in the wreckage of her house. We took it to the Garrison Commander. We were able to identity the woman in the photo, her location, and learn that Nyx Allistar went on a sabbatical for an indeterminate length of time.”

“Do you have the photo?”

I reached into my jacket pocket and shakily removed it, handing it to him. He unfolded it and stared intently at it before turning his cold stare to me.

“Who is she and why is she important?”

I swallowed and answered, “Her name is Clarke Griffin. She visited the Commander along with two companions. An Apex and a human. They came out of Forest Pack Territory and informed the Commander that they and their people moved into Manassas without knowing where they were. They captured several pack members and were wanting to rectify the situation. He of course, could not provide them help, but gave them her name.”

“Interesting,” he said and crouched in front of me. “Tell me more.”

“I tried to get in contact with our informant to gain further knowledge, but was unable to reach him. We went to the Western Border to enter and investigate ourselves. I was able to persuade someone to tell me why. Our informant, Gustus, was found out and he and his family were subsequently arrested for treason. Nyx Allistar had been seen in the territory and was supposedly the one who discovered Gustus.”

“So, that is where the bitch is hiding. Continue.”

“Yes, Sire. De Pakstoka had hired her to get her pack members released by those that are currently residing in Manassas.”

“Had?”

I nodded, “Yes, had. When Gustus was discovered, they found out that I had been involved in what happened eight years ago that ended in her banishment along with the plot of gathering information of de Pakstoka. She has been pardoned of her crimes and is back as her Second.”

He roared and back handed me, splitting my cheek open and causing a mouth full of blood.

“How did she discover this?”

“I, I do not know. I was careful not to be seen anywhere.”

“You failed, wolf.”

“I did,” I said weakly. “I am afraid to also say that the Western Border has been closed indefinitely. I am not sure of the cause, but I am assuming it is because their Council member was also found out.”

“So, you are informing me that two of their borders are now cut off from us.”

“I am.”

He got up and began pacing as I waited fearfully. He would occasionally glance my way and I could hear the growl emanating from him. I trembled harder at each growl.

Wor heda,” he yelled and the man came forward and kneeled.

“Sire,” he inquired.

“She’s yours,” was all he said and the look in the man’s face was one filled with gleeful anticipation.

I cowered as the man walked up to me and hauled me to my feet. I didn’t resist because I knew he wanted me to and I was pulled to the dungeons. There were screams coming from every corner of it and I was tossed into a cell like a rag doll. I just laid there, unmoving as he laughed maliciously.

“You and me are going to have some fun, wolf,” he said as he shut and locked my cell door. “You’re going to wish you’d died in that hole.”

I flinched, but stayed unmoving until he walked away. When he was gone, I got up and moved to a corner and waited.

 

I was forced to endure three weeks of torture before they finally got bored. I was nothing but a bloody mess of broken bones, flayed skin, nearly toothless, hairless, and every fingernail and toenail were gone. My throat was raw, my tear ducts dry, my body numb to any pain. All I could do was pray for it all to end. That’s all I wanted now, was for this to end. There was no answer. There was never an answer. Despair was my only companion as Death kept it’s distance.

I heard the door open and I couldn’t move or make a sound, not because I was trying to make myself appear dead, but because I couldn’t. I was grabbed and dragged out of my cell. They didn’t bother to carry me and I was sure that I left a bloody trail behind me. This was it. This was finally the end and I was so grateful that I wanted to cry in relief.

I was dumped inside a brightly lit room that I could barely see through my one good eye. My other one had been ripped out long ago.

“The Bear King wants this one to live. God knows why,” someone sneered. “Heal her.”

I heard footsteps near and someone knelt next to me. I felt my arms lifted and turned as was my head. When they let go of my head, it lolled to the side. The person stood up.

“How does he expect me to do that,” the healer said. The melodic voice belonged to a woman.

“I don’t know, healer. He just wants this done.”

“He expects me to perform a miracle. She’s a heartbeat from being dead. I do not want my life forfeit because I could not save her.”

“Not my problem, healer.”

I heard a sigh and then she said, “Then lay her on the table so I can get to work.”

I was hefted up and landed with a thump on a hard surface. My breath rattled in my chest and my heart fluttered. I prayed that it would just stop. Then it did. Four times it stopped and four times she started it again. The fifth time and I was gone. She had failed.

 

It’s about damn time, child, a voice said and I opened my eyes to find myself in nothing but light.

I laid there unmoving. Not understanding what was going on. I knew I was dead, so how was I even here thinking about this or hearing a voice.

You’re at the cusp, Echo, the voice said. You have a decision to make. Give yourself a chance to redeem yourself or die and know nothing but darkness as you face your sins.

Show yourself, I demanded as I sat up.

There was a sigh and an old woman materialized out of the light.

Who are you and where am I, if I’m dead?

She shook her head as she neared. A pair of chairs sprang from the light.

Sit down, she said as she sat in one of the chairs.

I got up and sat as if compelled.

Good. As to who I am, I’m Mother Earth. Where you are is known as the Inbetween. As I said, you have a decision to make, child. Die and let the darkness consume you as you deserve. Or a chance of redemption.

Redemption?

She nodded, Yes, indeed. Redemption. A chance to make up for what you’ve done to my beloved Forest Pack.

Beloved?

She smiled, You would know why if you had made it across the border before your group was attacked with powerful magic.

I remember the attack. The Forest Pack attacked us and my entire family died.

Then you were supposedly rescued by the Bear Queen and trained to be a spy for them. You gave them your loyalty and fealty for attacking your family.

They did not attack us.

I’m afraid they did. They do not like anyone trying to leave, regardless if they are bear or other. They manipulated you, Echo. Now’s your chance to get back at them, if you want to.

How would I do that, if what you say is true?

Complete your task. Kill Lexa Devereux and Nyx Allistar.

Wait. You want me to kill the leaders of your beloved pack? Why would you ask me that?

I cannot tell you. If you do this, the truth will begin to reveal itself and lead you to the path of redemption.

I can’t even get into Forest Pack without being killed on the spot.

You will find a path on the Eastern Border that will take you right to them. It will be difficult and perilous, but you can survive if you choose this path to find out the truth.

What’s in for me besides redemption?

She chuckled, Smart. You’re not one to follow blindly. How about the chance to become part of a pack that needs you, even if they don’t know they do. You have a powerful ability that could help them achieve their destiny. Learn why Nyx has been able to avoid death after all of your attempts, because the truth is, you’ve succeeded every time except for this last time. She failed to kill herself after you implanted those compulsions in the people who survived her massacre.

Are you saying that after everything I’ve done, they will forgive me and allow me to join their pack? Why would I ever want to do that? And you’re telling me that I have succeeded and failed at the same time to kill Nyx Allistar. How is that even possible?

You will have to prove yourself to Lexa and Nyx that you are worth joining their pack. You still yearn to be a part of a family again. It’s what drove you to doing every thing in your power to get the monarchy to accept you. To answer your last question, it is because Nyx has a greater destiny than that of the Forest Pack. So, I’ve saved her time and time again after you succeeded.

You did?!

Yes, child. Even you have a destiny, Echo. One that I cannot afford to lose.

I thought about what she was telling me and I found no sense of it. I was dead. I had failed at every turn I had taken in the last eight years and Mother Earth was telling me that I had a destiny to do something that involved the very people I have been trying to eliminate. It was preposterous. How was I even going to get close enough to kill Lexa and Nyx? They were too well guarded and not to mention I had no idea where they were within the territory.

Lexa is in Clifton and Nyx is in Manassas, she replied, reading my thoughts, which was creepy to have the talent turned on me. You have time to kill them. You’ll be given the opportunity midway through Spring.

How will I even accomplish this? I will have no tools nor shelter to wait until Spring.

Does this mean you will do this task for me?

I sighed, It doesn’t feel like I have a choice in the matter. I’m not sure I’m ready to face what I’ve done.

She grinned wide and said, Excellent! Now as to how you will live through winter, there is a cave system you can stay in and keep watch over Manassas.

Why would I want to watch Manassas?

Because that is the catalyst of what is coming. You may even learn something.

And you’re not going to tell me what I’m supposed to learn or why I’m watching over the town.

Nope. Now as to the tools you’ll need. There will be a cabin near the border. In there you will find everything you need. It is up to you on how to utilize what is there.

A cabin with everything I’ll need? And how will I get there? I’m in the middle of Ice Pack territory. I’m beyond repair.

As we speak your body is being carried to the dumping ground. That is where you will make your escape. As to your body, you’ll be right as rain when you wake up. When you get to the border checkpoint, follow the border five miles to the left of it and you will find your way in.

I sighed, she had answered every question I could think of. Except for what was coming and what I would learn.

Fine, Mother Earth. Send me back.

She clapped her hands and I found myself in darkness. I slowly became aware of an incessant buzzing and gnawing sounds. A sharp bite on my leg brought me back to awareness and I jerked my leg sending whatever had bitten me scrambling backwards.

I opened my eyes and found myself staring at a blue sky. It was daylight. I gingerly sat up expecting pain, but felt none. I looked down at myself and saw that I was indeed right as rain and naked. My leg was marred by a large bite mark and I looked around to see what had caused it. I found the culprit, a regular wolf that was staring at me hungrily. I growled and sent it whimpering away. The rest of the wolves who had been enjoying their feast ran away as well.

The buzzing was the sound of hundreds of flys circling around the dead. I breathed through my mouth and crawled over the bodies and out of the ravine that held them.

When I was out, I moved away from it and sat down. I looked around my surroundings and didn’t find a living soul. I sighed and shifted and melted into the forest.

Chapter Text

It took me two weeks to make it to the Eastern border of the Forest Pack territory. I gave it a wide berth as I made my to the border checkpoint. Rounding the corner of a huge pile of boulders, I saw the cabin I had been told about. I cautiously made my way over and sniffed around it, but I smelled nothing but food inside. Sighing, I nudged the door open and shifted once I was inside with the door closed.

Looking around, I found a cot against one wall, a crate, and a fridge. I went directly to the fridge and found it full of food. Grabbing a slab of raw meat, I dug into it as I opened the crate. Inside I found clothing, a plethora of spy equipment and a rifle case. I pulled the case out and found that a sniper rifle lay inside with ammo. So, that was how I was supposed to kill them. Easy enough and I wouldn’t have to get close to them. I pulled out the clothes and found a duffel underneath. I finished the meat and hurriedly put the clothes on. I was mildly surprised that they fit me perfectly and I surmised that the old woman had stocked it. I grabbed a smaller slab and a bottle of water and sat on the cot.

Eating, I thought about everything that had happened. I had died and had a conversation with Mother Earth. She told me that I needed to kill the leaders of the pack after I had made my way to Manassas. I had until Spring before I could kill them once the opportunity had showed itself. I was to learn everything I could about what was happening in Manassas, which was where the woman, Clarke Griffin and her friends were from. I didn’t understand how they could even have made it that far without anyone knowing. I was also supposed to learn something important in that city, but wasn’t told what. I had a destiny and it apparently was tied in with whatever destiny that the Forest Pack was unaware of.

All this thinking was giving me a headache and I laid down to sleep.

 

I sat up straight as the memory of Nyx killing her own people assaulted my mind for the fifth time since I fell asleep yesterday. I was sweating from it and my heart was racing. I pulled my knees to my chest and laid my head on them as I caught my breath and calmed my heart. This had never happened to me before, reliving a memory. I didn’t know why this was happening to me. It wasn’t just that memory. I was forced to dream about everything I’d done to Forest Pack to bring them down. From the manipulations at their Western Border to recruiting Gustus. It had to be Mother Earth’s doing. There was no other reason because those events never bothered me before.

I shook my head to clear it and pulled food and drink from the fridge. I sat back on the cot and tried to guess just how far I was from the border gate. As long as I continued to head south, I figured that I should come across the gate late afternoon depending on how well I remembered. After the gate it was another five miles before I could enter the territory unseen. I looked at the crate and sighed heavily. I would have to walk on my own two feet the entire way to Manassas because of the gear I needed to bring with me. Licking my hands clean, I kneeled in front of the crate and took out the duffel bag. I felt a crinkling in one of the side pockets and found a large plastic bag, big enough to hold the meat that was currently in the fridge. There was also a map of the territory that showed the points of interests I needed to focus on. I was right in figuring out that it would take me most of the day to reach the gate and there was a spot about a mile from the gate marked. It looked like it might be a place to hide and rest until morning. Upon further examination, I estimated that it would take me a week and half, maybe two to reach Manassas. Again, it notated the best cave to hide out in. There was also indications that a wall had been built over the central area of the town and several buildings were marked. I couldn’t make out what they were, but memorized their locations out of habit. There were also tools for camping and several more items of clothing, including an all weather jacket and an extra pair of boots. This bag was bigger than I had initially thought.

I immediately started placing the equipment inside and using the clothes made sure that the more sensitive objects were protected. Finally, I added the food and water. Zipping it up, I hefted it and found it to be relatively easy enough to carry without causing me too much strain. I strapped the rifle case crosswise over my shoulder and then slung the bag over that. I snug them both down and taking one last look around the cabin, I headed out the door and turned north.

 

The sun was beginning to set when I saw the border gate ahead of me. I found an outcropping of rocks that would give me a good view of it and made my way there. I laid my things on the ground and pulled out the binoculars from the bag. I watched them and studied their routines. Two guards manned the gate as another watched the horizon in a small tower. There was a radio tower to the south of the gate, meaning at least one person inside manning it. There was at least probably one more in the office that bridged behind the guard tower. All total five people manned the gate at any given time. There was a long building further inward that was partially obstructed from view. The guard barracks. As the sun dipped lower, four guards came from the barracks and relieved the other guards. This meant that sunset was when they changed guards. Now all I had to figure out how long they stood guard and how many actually manned the border. When I had learned everything I was going to, I pulled out the map and figured out where I was in relation to the place that I would spend the night. Scanning the area, I found the direction I needed to head and with one last glance at the guards, moved towards it. I didn’t reach the location until after night had fallen and found a small cave. I looked around, making sure that there was nobody nearby, and ducked into it. I pulled a small lantern out of the duffel and turned it on before I pulled out some food and water. When I was done, I listened for the night noises and identified them. Satisfied, I turned off the lantern and shifted. It was much warmer and comfortable to sleep as a wolf than huddled and cold as a woman. I slept lightly and only woke when the wildlife began to move about to find their breakfast.

I made my way back over to the gate and watched to make sure that nothing had happened over the night. Everything seemed normal and I started my five mile trek.

It felt wonderful to slip into the forest as I crossed the border and stopped a moment to take in the fresh, crisp air that only a forest could have. I didn’t stand there for long, I didn’t trust Mother Earth to be right that this was an unmanned area. I carefully made my way deeper into the forest and headed towards Manassas.

 

It took me two weeks to reach the edge of the forest that surrounded the town. I grabbed the binoculars and leaving my things hidden, I climbed a tree high enough to overlook the wall. I scanned the wall until I came to the closed gate. On either side of the gate stood two outposts manned by three guards each. Two of the guards stood lookout, east, north, and south. The third guard in each tower sat and seemed to be the log keepers. As I continued to watch, the gate would open up occasionally and a group of five wolves would emerge and head in different directions, possibly hunting or running patrols in the forest. One group came towards me and I hid the binoculars underneath me and tried to breath as slowly as I could as they ran into the forest directly below me. I was surprised when none of them hesitated and there was no nose twitch of them catching an unfamiliar scent. I quickly looked through their minds and found out that they were hunting for meat to last through the winter. I also caught the words human and quarantine from them. That made me curious and when they were out of sight, I turned my attention back to the wall. I couldn’t make out much beyond the roofs of houses and a large structure in the middle. It looked like it might have once been the center of the towns local government, but I couldn’t be sure. Satisfied for the moment, I climbed down and as quietly as I could, grabbed my stuff and headed for the cave.

The cave was in a secluded area and the entrance was hidden by boulders five feet from the cave. I explored the cave and found a fresh water pool towards the back and a small hole in the ceiling for the fire I would eventually need. Opening the duffel, I laid all of the spy equipment and examined them. There was a small drone with a camera and about ten metallic looking baseballs. Each ball had a depression on one side and when it pressed, legs sprang out and a small lens was revealed. There was a small beep and the tablet turned on by itself. As I turned the bug, the tablet showed the cave wall and a close up of my eye. That made me smile and I depressed the button again, turning the bug back into a ball and the tablet turned off. From the looks of it, all I had to do was throw them over the wall and they would do the rest and meant I wouldn’t have to try to sneak in to spy.

I laid down to take a nap after I had decided to wait for nightfall before I threw them into the camp.

Chapter Text

I shot straight up on the couch as the dead reached out to grab me, making me gasp for air. This was the third time tonight that I’d had that dream. Their dead mutilated bodies swarming me, wanting to drown me in their blood. I felt like the nightmares would never end and that I wouldn’t be able to move past them.

I drew my knees to my chest, my body drenched in sweat, and worked on calming down my racing heart. That was the reason why I started sleeping on the couch. These dreams were happening several times a night and I woke Clarke up every time. It wasn’t fair to her to lose sleep because of my nightmares. She tried to convince me that it was okay, but the haggard look on her face told me it wasn’t.

It had taken me nearly three weeks to stop waking up screaming. For the last month, every night those dreams visited me. I wasn’t eating. Wasn’t sleeping. I could barely stand to be around anyone. I was embarrassed to let them see me this way. The looks on their faces whenever they saw me filled me with despair. They tried to hide the looks of horror, sadness, and pity. God, I hated that pity and it always made me angry seeing that look. I’d started so many fights because of that look. I screamed at them, chased them out of the room and tried to get them to stop coming. They hadn’t. They kept coming, day in, day out. When it got too bad, one of them would convince Clarke to go with them. I never knew what they did, but I was starting to feel jealous. Not because she was spending time with other people doing god knows what, but because she was given a chance to escape the craziness. My craziness. I couldn’t leave my craziness behind like you could a jacket. It was constant, never ending torture for me.

I had half a mind to have Jasper make me something that I knew would keep the nightmares away and give me some semblance of control again. Unfortunately, I’d sworn to Scarlett that I would never make or use it again. When normal medication and herbal remedies had failed, I had created my own drug. It had allowed me to put some distance between myself and the nightmares, which in turn, made them infrequent to the point that I eventually stopped having them. It apparently lifted my mood to the point that I was constantly in a good mood and I was able to continue working each job successfully. Scarlett only figured out something was off about me when I started seeing her several times a day to have sex. It made that compulsion, that need for sex, unbearable. The drug was highly addictive and I couldn’t stop because it made me feel like I was normal, except I wasn’t. Scarlett forced me to go cold turkey and it took weeks to get the need and urge to use out of my system. It wasn’t pretty and it was hard to keep it from Ben. When I eventually didn’t need or want it anymore, my life was so much better for it. It was a crutch that I wanted to never use again.

Only now, the constant nightmares, th