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The Shadow's Heart

Chapter Text

Nobody heard them coming. Nobody ever had or would. They, were the ghosts of the world. Not the ones who played hide and seek, in the old world photos taken by housewives, trying to distract themselves from their crumbling marriages or unsatisfying lives. Or the unique holo-pixel formations that might appear in a holostill, captured by the local evo-supernatural club. No, these ghosts were the ones who truly scared the masses because they hid in the fears of those who disobeyed the order. These ghosts were the ones who weren’t always there, lurking in shadows but had one day been introduced to the world on the heels of their first victims and became the shadows themselves. These ghosts celebrated their coming out party, the same night the world scrambled to sort out the supernatural/human coexistence project. These ghosts, were the unbeatable, undetectable and positively lethal, evolution of the hunter. These ghosts were the Shadow Law strike forces.

Seven figures crouched low on the glass roof like spiders, lying in wait in their webs poised to strike. They moved effortlessly as quick, as easy and as silent as the shadows they were named for. Staying in position, not one person moved a hair out of place, a testament to their extensive and grueling training. Stiles, in the middle of them all, peered through the glass, a watchful leader, alert and unrelenting in his dedication to flawless execution of a mission.

The warehouse below was cold. Derek could feel the draft filtering in from some broken window or cracked wall, and caressing his supernaturally heated skin. It didn’t bother him, his kind often ran hotter than most regular temperature drops could affect. The space was dimly lit around him, by several small overhead lights hanging from loose wires, but he saw with perfect vision. Not failing to scope out every obstacle, every idle piece of broken crate or abandoned, half built, mechanical structure erected against a wall or left in his way. Not failing to identify access points and exits, vents and overhead panels that would provide both entry and extraction in the event of unexpected dangers. He moved fluid and graceful like a dancer and all he did was walk. Power emanated from every single pore, ever so controlled, ever so unsuspecting. Yet, anyone who would lay their eyes on the man, the werewolf, would know that certainly, he was not one to trifle with and survive, if the neo-laws allowed it.

As he continued to walk through the warehouse, nearly gliding above the floor rather than actually walking, his hand came up to trace, with feather light touches, the band of genether around his neck hidden by the high collar of his black silkev shirt. The strip fit snugly about him like a choker. It sometimes appeared thick, though at a second glance, one noticed it seemed to almost adhere to the man like a second skin, any possible layers barely visible. It was black but the outer edges matched Derek’s skin tone perfectly and if you really looked closely, you would see what appeared to be hundreds of tiny veins connecting Derek’s flesh to the genether tag.

Abruptly, he stopped, his head straightening forward, his eyes narrowing so that he peered deeply into the dark shadows. It seemed like a moment ago there was nothing there and the next there was. The more he stared the more the figure seemed to take form. This looks like a… he began transmitting his thoughts over the unit link established among every member of a shadow law strike team. A special development brought to life from D.R.U.I.D.E. or Devolpment Research and Unabated Interventional Divison of Engineering, for all intents and purposes their department of research and development. D.R.U.I.D.E. was responsible for developing everything from weaponry to defense equipment utilizing intelligence on the supernatural and supernatural citizens, in order to create effective equipment. The unit link chip they had created, was injected into the brains of shadow law unit members and once connected, could allow the transmission and receipt of thoughts from one or more persons to the next.

Spacial shifter, Stiles responded. This is it people, initiate camouflage now. All the members of the unit reached to their utility belts, tapping the center piece twice, the action releasing the circular metal tab covering a small black button which they all pushed in. Instantaneously, a pulse emitted from the device there. A wave rippled from it outwardly and over their bodies. It looked like millions of tiny pixels flashing over their clothing and exposed flesh until it was at the tips of their fingers, ends of their hair and boots. Suddenly they all faded until they simply disappeared altogether.

“State your business friend.” A hoarse voice called out from the shadows where the figure had formed. The man that spoke stepped a few times toward Derek but not completely into the sparse light of the warehouse.

“Just walking around hoping to find like-minded people,” Derek responded casually.

“Like-minded people are wary of those who come unbidden. It’s hard to trust these days,” the scratchy throat answered, tentatively, reluctantly, as though he were assessing. “What’s that thing they say about the heart of darkness?”

“Stare into the abyss long enough, and the abyss starts back at you.” Derek recited the security response to the man’s question confidently. One could never be absolutely certain about intelligence obtained under duress, and with little time to verify they were running a risk. Nothing ever gained though, especially in their line of business, ever came without serious risk. When the other man continued regarding him, unmoving yet, unthreatening he took the chance, his eyes flashing a gleaming amber, his wolf’s eyes, his access card.

The man finally took the remaining steps out of the shadows and lifted a hand. Several men formed out of nothing the same way he had in the shadows. All of them walked into the light as their eyes all flashed including the one who had come first. “Frederick Groude, welcome to the rebellion.”

That’s our man, Stiles transmitted. Time to take the plunge people. The young shadow reached around to the back of his waist where a black, small hilt stuck free from a sheath fastened there. It appeared to be a design of plastanium, a hybrid, malleable metal, that could be cybernetically enhanced and programmed to shift its shape and form, through either control buttons on the hilt or by utilizing an experimental upgrade, that linked to the mind chip and thus received commands directly from the brain. There was a roping design of grooves thatspiraled out diagonally from one end of the hilt to the other. Long, slender fingers wrapped around the hilt quickly, and controlled, effortlessly and comfortable like it had a hundred thousand times before. Stiles pulled on it and a short thin blade slid free. His hand barely lifted above his head from where he crouched, before he thrust downward between his parted legs, to the right of his splayed fingers on his left hand. The metal pierced the glass as smoothly as if it had gone through water.

As soon as the blade made contact with the glass sliding in until it was half way deep, the other six persons with him followed suit. Their actions just as graceful, their strike just as neat. Is he gonna say it? A husky feminine voice asked, the words echoing in all their heads.

Please don’t, another pleaded this time a man with a high alto tone, the words affected by some rough European accent.

Avengers assemble, Stiles chimed smiling privately, his voice laced with his humor as it echoed in all their heads. As he spoke the words mentally, he along with all the other members of his unit turned their blades swift and harsh. The action sent ripples of cracks weaving a spider’s web of perfect imperfection throughout the panes they were crouching on. Suddenly they all stood to their feet and the disturbance was enough to break the glass beneath them.

As glass shattered and fell, raining down like a glittering storm of falling stars, as the pieces caught and reflected lights on their way down, the seven agents the ceiling previously held were released.Their bodies shimmered into existence. Several figures bathed in shadow appeared where there was once nothing but falling glass. They were like dark angels on their descent, their stances wide, knees slightly bent, bodies coiled and ready, braced for impact, long-coats, on those wore them, rippling out and upward in the slipstream of their bodies’ downward trajectory.

Stiles and a female agent donned the long, sleek, black coats, made of silkev, a smooth and sleek fabric which protected from extreme temperatures as well as a range of arms fire. They all wore variations of a similar bodysuits made of the same silkev fabric. Stiles, as well as most of the team, wore black combat boots with high tops which protected their ankles. They were sealed about the feet with no obvious sealing mechanism. The boots were studded in the back and front with two small silver spikes while three adorned the sides of the boots. Around his waist was a light weight belt with several attachments containing, vials, small metallic balls and hoops with tiny blades attached among other things. Strapped to his thighs were two small pistols with violet grips and barrels and several throwing knives which seemed to shimmer with blue light. There was a holster around his chest for two pistols and a single chain with a golden ring was tucked neatly under the safety of the body suit against his chest.

The others were mostly dressed as he was, some women wearing wedged heel boots with different silver adornments about them, while others were plain black or outfitted with tiny holes. The weapons and belts varied, one agent carried a large war hammer strapped to his back while another had black and chrome batons strapped to his thighs. A tall female figure seemed to be unarmed though she wore a pair of silver and black gloves that arced with blue light and had studs on the knuckles.

The men beneath them looked up in surprise, confusion, fear and a little wonder. Derek kept his gaze steadily trained on the man ahead. As seven pairs of feet touched down, landing as softly as if they’d simply jumped down off a table top, Frederick looked back at Derek and growled, “Traitor…”

“You betrayed us all when you contributed to the rebellion,” Derek retorted easily, keeping the heat in his eyes from touching his tone. His training, his very being wouldn’t allow it.

“Stop them!” Frederick yelled, causing the men who had come after him to move but the shadow unit was on them instantly. There were only six, so Stiles didn’t move from his spot in the middle of his group’s circle formation. Each of his team stepped out so quickly it took a supernatural complete focus to keep up. The men tried to fight, throwing punches and kicks, but they were disabled in no time and with minimal movement from their attackers. As each man fell to the floor, each team member pulled a small, flat and rounded projectile from their belts and slammed it to the ground just in front of where the men had fallen. The projectile upon impact, disintegrated and a black dust erupted from the minor explosion and encircled the men on the floor. Stiles’ six team members stepped back into formation and simply stood tall and at ease. One of the men, the one with batons sheathed at his thighs, fairly tall and with dark, lightly teased, curly hair raised his arms and started tapping at a small console on his wrist but Stiles took the moment to address the man in charge.

“Well well well, what have we here,” Stiles sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. One hand tugged lightly at the collar of his long coat, the material glistened. Frederick as well as any well informed rebel knew that shadow law didn’t don anything that couldn’t be used as a weapon or tool in their missions. Every last item on their person was either a tool to fight or to defend. “Frederick Groude. Director’s been quite uneasy about you. I tell him, it’s all good but he doesn’t believe me, says this one is a serious threat to progress,” Stiles went on mimicking the director’s serious intonation and airiness for effect. “I take it you know who we are.” It wasn’t a question but was left so that he could answer.

“You have no business here,” he growled out, his eyes glowing a bloody scarlet.

“You’re hosting a rebellion meeting, you launched a terrorist attack on the Shadow Law recruitment center thirteen days ago, you, are my business here.” Stiles let his hands down and tapped the blade he still held in his hand against his thigh as he began to pace back and forth in the small circle. “I’m gonna give you a choice here buddy. You can shift this room, bring all the supers in the alter-space back here and give yourselves up peacefully, or we take you in, our way. As some of your friends in the rebellion will attest, it’s not quite pleasant.”

“I would rather die!” He yelled before lunging. Derek met him, moving like a ghost, silent and deadly. He launched a tightly closed fist to the man’s stomach, ducked as his upper body curled over at one side and came up on the other end, bringing his knee up to slam into the man’s face. Frederick went from bending over front to back as he stumbled a few steps. Derek came to a halt a few inches from the circle, watching steadily as the man caught himself before he fell, groaned short and quietly and righted himself. He shook his head as though the sudden dizziness could be relieved that way before he snarled at Derek. “How could a wolf, one of us,” he emphasized with spittle spattering between his grinding teeth, “become the council’s bitch.” Derek didn’t flinch at the words. It wasn’t the first time he’d heard that one and certainly wasn’t the worst he’d ever heard period.

In fact he scoffed, feigning shock and hurt, “That one touched me, right here Freddy,” he pointed to his heart, “I thought we were developing a real swell rapport here.” His hands moved to gesturing back and forth, between himself and the irate alpha before him.

“Enough,” Stiles called, “What’s your decision Fredster?”

The man spat at the ground close to the circle and inclined his head proudly, “There it is, why don’t you lick it up fucker.”

“tsk tsk tsk no need to be such a… a sourwolf,” Derek’s quick eye twitch was the only indication of a reaction to the word, which no one could have noticed. Stiles continued, “and you should watch that mouth Freddykins or someone’s gonna wash it right out with lycagel.” Stiles sighed again as he stopped moving and faced the opposing super. “Ok, tell me where the shifter is and maybe, we might still go easy on ya..”

“Fuck. You. Hosap. Obsolete. Son. Of. A. Cunt.” Frederick stressed out each word as fangs elongated in his mouth, so it sounded like each word was a sentence. Stiles brushed off the insult including the use of the word hosap which for supernaturals had evolved from homosapian and had become their way of insulting humans. From their point of view supernaturals were special and hosaps were simply inferior.

“I guess I knew you’d say that. No worries, we already know where the shifter is. Don’t we Cypher?”

“That we do sir,” a man replied from behind him. The same one who’d lifted his wrist and started tapping at the device on it. He was cold faced but maintained a leering half smile that made him seem a positive menace to the men he considered enemies. His eyes glinted with insult and his voice held a proud humor in it as though, whatever he had been doing on his wristpad was like acing a pop quiz in high school.

“On my team there are seven members. One super, whom you’ve already met and six humans, four men, two women. All of them… extraordinary,” he explained dramatically, hands gesticulating about the circle of lethal agents. Two of them are technological geniuses. See the moment we stepped in here my friend Cypher, named for his ability to crack any code and hack any system, started hacking yours, something he is able to do in under 40 seconds it’s a new record without an internal server to work from. So approximately thirty two, seconds ago, we were golden. He’s found the shifter, obliterated your exit point and cut off outside communications. I just wanted to give you a chance to do the right thing.” The last few words were delivered in a slow melody and a smirk of sarcasm for punctuation.

As Stiles spoke, both Cypher and Derek grinned a bit as the man’s eyes filled with more than just malice but fear. “Now Eres,” Stiles called, referring to the woman who wore a long coat similar to his. Her hair was pixie cut and she had a wicked mischievous glint in her eye, like she lived for raising hell. “Wreck it,” he finished, keeping his gaze firmly on Frederick. Almost as soon as he said it, he raised a hand to stop her from pushing down on the button she was about to hit with her finger. He didn’t want it to be so informal, so impersonal, using tracker seeking ordinance technology to explode the shifter server box as she was about to, thanks to Cypher’s hack and track of the system. “Not like that. People don’t get to see us in action very often, at least not the people who make it back to society, so, let’s show Mr. Groude what he’s gotten himself into,” he turned to eye her darkly and grinned as he finished, “show him some of that training we’ve been working on.”

“With pleasure,” she said smiling even wider. Her hands dropped and for a moment Frederick thought she wasn’t going to move but then she spun around and stepped out of formation. Her hand went to her back and pulled her blade from where it was sheathed. As she pulled it out, her fingers pressured the hilt in particular points and the blade lengthened like a whip with a broad edge. She lashed out at a cluster of boxes stacked against a hidden metal structure hooked up to a thick cord. Her first strike slashed the boxes clean in half and severed the cord. Eres flicked her wrist and swung her arm around her body as she turned to face the opposite direction. The whip spiralled in the air above her head before it wrapped around the smaller of the metal boxes she had aimed for, the one that held the control system for the spacial shifter and she yanked. The box pulled free with little resistance and sailed through the air. Eres threw her weapon hilt from her hands in a direction that brought the box flying a safe distance from all those standing in the warehouse. She moved quickly, hands going to her hips to retrieve two small black orbs the size of marbles. The woman tossed both orbs at the box and it exploded in the air, leaving her whip intact and falling. Reaching for her sheath, she pushed a button and in response, the whip retracted its end until it was a small blade again and returned to its owner as though she’d commanded it with her very will. With a one handed swipe, she retrieved the weapon now small and unassuming again, slipped it into its sheath and resumed her place.

At the very moment she returned to her spot in the circle the space around the entire group and throughout the warehouse went hazy, almost like staring into a mirage in the dessert. Suddenly the room shimmered back into focus and with it came, what could be counted as nearly a hundred people. They must have all been supers who’d come in for the meeting. Derek moved closer to the group and as he did so they parted to allow him a position in their formation. The movement was so fluid, so cohesive, if one wasn’t seriously paying attention to them, no one would notice.

“Still think this is gonna end well for you, you little shit!” Groude spat with a hideous amount of amusement in his tone and a now smug look on his face. His words caused an uproar of angry voices all leering at and threatening the group that stood in their midst.

Stiles’ eyes moved quickly over the group of people, taking them in and assessing them on the spot. The man’s mind worked like a supercomputer most days and this was one of his better ones. He looked for faces, expressions, body types and telling signs for what kind of supernatural creature they might be. He identified who’d joined in on the heels of Groude’s riot inciting comment and who’d remained quiet with that damning hint of worry, anxiety, fear or concern in their faces.

His team was ready around him, their muscleslightly firmed in battle tension, poised to strike at a moment’s notice. As soon as he’d finished sweeping the room and their new friends with his gaze, Stiles cleared his throat and spoke, projecting a tone of supreme authority and control. “This is a meeting for the rebellion against the Supernatural Citizen Act. This meeting and your organization are both illegal.” The young leader projected his voice as he stood tall, legs slightly parted, knees slightly bent, just like every other member of his team, ready to strike at any time. His voice was commanding and deepened, his face grim so that those he spoke to, could truly understand the gravity of their situation. “We are shadow law unit one and you are all under arrest. You will surrender or we will take you in by force.” There was no question there but the mistake would not be made by any who heard him, that there was a definite open invitation for all those willing to surrender, to raise their hands to the sky and give up.

“You have got to be shitting me,” Groude choked out on a laugh, “there’s a lot more of us than there are of you, we,” he continued as he gesticulated with a hand to stress his point, “have you surrounded. It’s hardly a fair fight.”

“Hardly fair is right,” called the soft wispy voice of Eres, the voice doing the namesake of the ancient pagan goddess of discord justice. She sounded like something transcendent of the world but the mischief was there. Everything about her words and the way she said them screamed troublemaker. “Hey Kitty what’s the word?” She queued clearly addressing another member of their team without turning to look at them.

A gruff, husky voice answered her. It sounded like the voice of a man who spent days smoking old world stogies that would puff out the thickest smoke clouds. He was tall and solidly built his dark brown skin slick and oiled and nearly shining under the low light “Looks to me like it’s a near ten to one equivalent. Definitely ain’t no kinda good odds for em.”

“For us,” Groude grumbled incredulously, a laugh gestating in his throat, “You’re about to be slaughtered, Kitty.” He leered the name, clearly meaning to insult the man who it belonged to but Kitty, simply grinned a wide and dirty grin at him. He’d jumped to the more obvious choice of making fun of something he had yet to understand but the moment the words left his mouth, Kitty marked the man as his personal responsibility and said as much within their mind link.

“It’s all of you who are about to be exterminated, like rodents,” Another man said with a gleam in his eye. The soft, silky tone and blatant excitement about him gave many of the rebels pause.

“Houdini, don’t scare them into fighting. Last time we had numbers like this, Kitty and Sledge backlogged the inmate treatment center for a week. I’d prefer not to deal with the nasty looks from the nurses again, especially Leslie oh my gosh the attitude and flared nostrils on that one, really kills me sometimes as in put a gun to my head and pull trig, not to mention the director’s lectures on…”

“Captain,” Derek drawled all too familiar with how very easily Stiles’ mouth could run away with him. He’d swear that man was the most impressive operative he’d ever known but when he started talking sometimes…

“Right, back on problem. I’m only saying this once. All of you can either come in peacefully or we can take you down. The latter won’t be pleasant especially physically. Make your choice, you have five seconds.” He threw the words out and started counting in his head. His body was ready for the fight. Four sets of hands went up immediately and as fast as they’d shot into the air, several hands from the shadow circle threw projectiles at the ground in front of them so that upon impact the same black dust encircled them. A few rebels lunged at the defectors but were tossed back harshly by an invisible wall.

“Mountain…” Groude began to say but Stiles cut him off.

“Time up.” The captain launched himself in the air rolling three times before he landed easily in the midst of four men. They were all tall and stringy. Their fists clenched and brought veins that hadn’t already been obviously outlined to the visual surface. Their faces were mean and they all looked alike, perhaps brothers. Their eyes followed Stiles a bit slower than he’d anticipated but he didn’t give them time to catch up with his movements. He elbowed the one behind him in his gut, grabbed the man’s head over his shoulder and tossed him into the man in front. The one on the left threw a punch he ducked and caught before the man could bring his limbs in. He held the fist, twisted it with both hands until it snapped audibly. His leg shot out to kick the man’s left leg from under him bringing him to his right knee. Stiles climbed his knee and wrapped his legs around the arm he’d grabbed. He twisted his body so that he and his victim spun through air. He untangled himself mid spin and used the momentum of it to bring his leg crashing down on the man’s head.

As the captain landed in a crouch his hands moved on their own, his body reacting a hyper second before his mind. His arms crossed above his head, stopping the leg that was slamming down from impact. His hands turned and fingers curled around the ankle, twisting it, disabling it, before he pulled the leg and used his body’s ascension to toss the man into the pile of his broken brothers. As soon as he let go he reached for a mountain ash dispenser and launched it just an inch from the four men. The ash circled them, sealing them within its transparent prison as it did the others before them.

I win, Stiles exclaimed as he turned around to catch the rest of his team in action. His growing smile, halted and morphed into a scowl as he caught another watching him with glee. Houdini.

Yep I win again, sorry sir. The man sent the words to Stiles as he marked his next target and leapt off after them, seemingly fading into nothing as he did. so like a shadow drifting out of existence. He’d put down five rebels in the same time Stiles had taken down four allowing him to win the ongoing bet to see who could take down the most guys in the opening of a battle. Somehow Houdini managed to win a lot if not always. It was things like that, that earned Isaac his call sign, that and his exceptional manipulation and incorporation of stealth technology in his battles.

Stiles shifted his attention to the woman surrounded by four men of her own off to the side where Houdini had disappeared. He knew better than to think the agent would try to assist the woman. Erica, or Widow as she would be referred to on mission was capable and deadly if her opponents weren’t careful. It was because of this and the firm knowledge that his team were all beasts in the field, that he ran off for the next target, leaving widow to play.

She eyed the men about her with a cool glare. Her fists covered in those silver and black gloves were raised to her chest, a half-finished stance but one who knew her, would have expected she was only half paying attention to the morons around her. Two men rushed forward both transforming as they did so. One’s arm seemed to meld it’s fingers, hand and arm into one long leathery green whip which looked a lot like a snake. The other man gained talons and a beak with dangerous glowing silver eyes. Erica’s extensive training and experience with supers, summoned to mind the knowledge of both supernatural beings. The snake shifter was an ichchhadhari nag an ancient Indian shapeshifting snake while the other one, a hawk shapeshifter was called an avian. They attacked simultaneously, snake hand lashing out low while the hawk jumped and went for her face with his beak.

There was a shadow of a smile on widow’s face before she twisted her body horizontally, spinning herself between the attackers, suspending herself with just enough rotations to avoid the co-ordinated attack. As the avian leaped over her, she grabbed his ankle, coming out of her spin and slammed him to the ground while she planted her feet. The nag swung at her again and she rolled beneath the attack to get up close to him. Tightening her fists, her gloves arced with that same blue shimmering light. Widow kneed her victim in the stomach and backhanded his face as he buckled. The impact coupled with the amount of electricity generated by the outer-layer of the glove sent the super reverting back to his human form, as he fell to the ground a few feet away.

Widow looked over her shoulder just in time to see the two other men, transformed into two wolves rushing her. She quickly tossed a blade from her array of weapons fastened to her belt at one beast. As he preoccupied himself with dodging it, putting him out of sync with his partner, widow ducked an incoming right hook with a roll of her back. As she rose she blocked another punch with her forearm before grabbing his bicep to leverage his body to support her as she kicked him in the stomach to double him over and then roll over his back to bring her kick down on the other super who approached.

The second wolf fell beneath the impact and as she landed, she plastered three quick punches to her first victim’s abdomen causing him to grunt in matching rhythm. She then softly lifted his chin with a gentle middle and forefinger, so he could behold her smiling face before she punched him square in his jaw, his consciousness drifting with the shock of the arcing gloves impact. The man dropped in a heap. She back-flipped onto the other wolf, not forgetting he had not yet been disabled. She came down straddling him and grabbed his head firmly in her hands, then slammed it to the ground once, before lightly back handing him to deliver a healthy dose of electricity. She picked herself up fluidly and grabbed at the man’s collar, dragging him closer to his partner before she secured the two groups of men she had targeted with mountain ash.

The rest of the team was having just as much fun and just as easy a time disabling their own opponents. Sledge a tall bald man wielding a giant hammer usually kept strapped to his back was tearing through body after body of oncoming supernatural. They were being knocked down so quickly by the power of the man’s hammer they had no time to organize into parties on the attack. Sledge moved meticulously each step precise as he gripped the handle of his hammer with both hands tightly. One swing to the left and a middle aged native Indian looking wolf was sent flying back. One to his right tossed an unidentified heavily clawed and fanged creature in the same manner as the first. Sledge twisted on his own axis and brought the hammer swing around with the force of his built up momentum and smashed into another super.

While he played whack-a-mole with his victims Erys and Cypher, tag teamed a circle of supers. Cypher, almost a confusing blur of black, darted about, flipping this way and that through the air. Electrically charged batons in hand, he beat down his opponents with precision strikes, wherever they landed, announced by groans and cries of pain, shock and irritation. Erys utilized her sliptail, the blade which could shift forms to the extent of becoming a long metallic whip among other things. She had started favoring the blade when Stiles had demonstrated his prowess with it in a training session. He was the one to teach her the many different ways the weapon could be wielded to do certain damage to an enemy. She used it in conjunction with her favorite close quarters explosive charges. The bombs were not strong enough to do serious damage, but were powerful in blasting back an opponent, incapacitating him or through a localized body charge disabling limb function temporarily. It was almost mesmerizing to watch her latch her sliptail whip form around someone’s neck to reel them in, land a quick kick punch combo, while planting a charge on them and then watch that opponent be blasted back a few feet when the detonation occurred.

Stiles had rolled out of the path of destruction of a thunder kitsune, this being determined solely on the being’s ability to destroy objects in its path with a chaotic rumble of sound that sounded a lot like thunder. The agent got to his feet, twirled gracefully looking more like a dancer than a warrior, raised his right knee, extending the leg as he made a full rotation and then bringing it down hard on the long, flat and slanted surface of a plank of wood so that it lurched up in the air, off the cylinder beneath it that made a pivoting point. As the plank sailed down through the air, Stiles thrust out a palm and sent the wood hurtling toward the kitsune. While the glowing eyed, dark haired woman roared another thunderous attack that shattered the wood like glass, Stiles rolled toward the woman from her side so as to avoid the attack and land his blow up close before she’d have a chance to properly defend or take better aim.

As she opened her mouth to roar once more, Stiles round house kicked her, smashing his boot into her cheek as her mouth yawned opened. She grunted in pain, her body twisting over. Stiles pulled his sliptail from its sheath at his back before his foot reestablished ground contact and with a quick mental command, it changed its form into a whip. With a delicate conductor’s hand he manipulated the whip to twine about the woman’s wrist and then leg and with a forceful toss threw her free offher feet against a pillar holding up the roof. Before she fell to the ground a circle of mountain ash surrounded the entire pillar. Stiles looked up to see Derek had been the one to throw it. Thanks to D.R.U.I.D.E. the genether tag and the black capsule casing, the ash was contained in, made it so that despite being a supernatural creature himself, he was able to use it.

Glancing over the man’s shoulder, Stiles noticed the trail of body’s behind him all trapped in their own ash circles. The corner of Stiles’ mouth barely rose, but Derek could tell just how amused he was, how much fun he was having. The captain loved his job. Derek didn’t need personal experience to tell him that. He raised a brow and turned away just as Stiles did the same. The two of them headed over to Kitty, who was just stabbing enormous metal claws into the hand of one super Groude had sent, as an advanced guard, to protect himself, or determine his enemy’s potential. It was anyone’s guess, but the good money was on cowardice.

“I’m guessing somebody just figured out why my name is Kitty,” the dark skinned man said as he pulled his metal claw attachments free of his victim with a slosh and crunch, indicating the damage he’d left behind. His claws were long and gleaming plastanium as were most of the D.R.U.I.D.E. developed weaponry and attached to his wrist by some fingerless gloved contraption which allowed for recession with a simple flick of the wrist.

He eyed Groude with a disturbing sense of pleasure and stood to his full height. Step by step he slowly moved forward not even sizing up the opponent, simply holding his eyes in some hypnotic, binding connection that Groude couldn’t seem to shake off. “It’s because of my obsession,” he drawled the word to express its importance, “with my claws…” As if to punctuate the word, he lunged forward swatting left and then rolling right in a fake out which succeeded as Groude reacted only too quickly to the first strike, bringing himself further into Kitty’s reach and on Groude’s own blind side. Kitty struck stabbing forward the metal claws sliding like a hot knife through butter, into the super’s shoulder. Kitty kicked his legs from under him causing the blades to slice through flesh and tendons with an awful ripping sound. Groude howled in despair as he felt the onslaught of terrifying pain.

Stiles and Derek arrived behind Kitty just as three supers came running to Groude’s aid. Derek cut them off growling loudly before lunging for the one closest to him. The man threw a punch to counter but Derek simply blocked it with a raised forearm and turned into the man’s arm putting himself right against the man’s body before kneeing him in the stomach and then swatting him with claws from one side before punching him down on the other with a tightly clenched fist. The second man came jumping down in front of Derek but Stiles was there crouched low and sweeping the second man’s feet out from under him.

As the second super fell awkwardly, Derek went to his knees and punched him several times, then grabbed two fistfuls of the man’s coat, rolled over with him and used the force to pivot and toss the super onto the crumpled body of the first. As he turned about, Derek noted Stiles standing feet from the third super with his sliptail changed to whip form and severely wrapped around the third man’s neck. Stiles lifted a leg over the extension of the whip to kick the man in his face, then brought it down on the long silvery length of the whip, forcing the super to fall to his knees as to avoid choking to death. Stiles released him switching his sliptail, then sheathing it so quickly the super had no time to do anything but grab at his throat, before he realized Stiles was back-flipping bringing his boot into contact with the super’s face. The man was thrown onto his back and unconscious.

Stiles sealed the three in a ring of ash and ran over to Kitty who had been trading blows with Groude. A quick glance about told him there were only two men left standing besides Groude thatWidow and Cypher made quick work of on opposite sides of the room. There was a loud grunt of frustration as Groude swung with a wide right hook but missed only to be uppercut, leaving his mouth bloody from the unexpected, landed blow. Kitty quickly maximized on the opening and threw a hook of his own, connecting with the super’s cheek. Another hit, took the other cheek. Two swift jabs left Groude’s eyes manifesting sizzling stars. Kitty spun and kicked twice almost like a ballerina in battle. His final kick was a hard push heaving Groude roughly to the ground on his back. Kitty jumped, flicked his wrist so that his claws shot forth and he pinned the man by burying the claws into his shoulders. Groude screamed, “Enough,” Stiles called reigning in his agent before the man took it too far.

Kitty looked back for a moment, then pulled his claws free, retracted them and got to his feet. He gave Groude one final smirk of triumph before turning around and walking away. He tossed a pellet over his shoulder and a ring of ash ensnared the rebellion leader, or rather one of them in their vast network. “Are you trying to get sent to anger management or something,” Stiles asked idly as Boyd or code name Kitty, as he was called on mission, approached and halted, folding his arms against his chest heavily, eyes closed, though a brow was raised. He sighed, “He’s a wolf he’ll heal.”

“You’re impossible,” Stiles teased before turning around to do another check. “Cypher report?” the captain called as the others ensured the entire space was secure before coming over to join their teammates.

“Room’s clear captain, I’m certain the entire building is as well, did a couple scans there’s nothing out of the ordinary coming up.” Stiles nodded as the man responded. “Erys and I were gonna do a quick sweep to make certain we’re all clear here.”

“Houdini go with them, once you’re done, return quickly for in field debrief, the processing team should be here soon.”

“Sir.” They all answered in unison

“Widow hail them,” Stiles said and then he was tapping away on his wristpad.

*

The after action procedures carried on in the same old same fashion that Stiles was very much used to at this point. In his head he quipped about the tedium but outwardly he maintained utter professionalism and integrity while carrying out his duties and supervising the others. More than half of the time he felt like a fixture propped up against a wall when he wasn’t saying anything which was the majority of the time he spent there. A few moments Derek caught his eyes and he caught Derek’s in a silent acknowledgment of the night and the teamwork they’d shared. The last time he looked over at the man was right as his car was landing beside him with all the silence and sleek elegance of a Raspburn first class luxury transport. The compact yet intricately adorned black on black hover craft alighted gently. The four turbines beneath the chassis powered down causing the body of the vehicle to lightly buckle as it met the ground. The doors were electric sliders with guidance groves along the back and front body for them to slide over when they opened. The black tinted window in the back door shimmered and then seemingly disappeared but that was only the invisicom system making it so that one could see through them and communicate unhindered. A pale face framed by a hood of raven hair peaked out at him and smiled revealing a clipped grin of pearly white teeth with one diamond fang winking in the meager access to moonlight provided Stiles’ position to the window.

“Your father worries you might be late Master Stiles.”

“Then he shouldn’t have pushed me into the Shadow Law Charlie, we just finished mish…” Stiles retorted as the door retracted for him to enter. He sat opposite his father’s major-domo, the head steward for his family and their estate who also sometimes acted as his personal baby sitter when it suited director Noah McArgent Stilinski. “Tell me why is it you aren’t out picking up Allison or Scott hmm?”

“Because they are already at the gala and all are awaiting your arrival,” Charles responded, ignoring the impetuous tone in Stiles’ voice.

Stiles sighed, “It doesn’t start for another hour.”

“Yes but as the sons and daughter of the directors of Homeland Supernatural Security Directorate, Shadow Law Division and the Surgeon General who are the hosts of this event in conjunction, with the Director of the Supernatural Citizen Registration Initiative, it is expected that you arrive before the most important guests, to greet them among other things.” Stiles pursed his lips at the company line the major-domo was giving him.

“Whatever Charlie let’s just get on over to the party then.” The words were absently drawled as he turned his attention to the window. It had become darkly tinted again. Good job tonight avengers, I’ll see you in the office tomorrow, he addressed his team and heard their sarcastic retorts and sign offs before Derek punctuated the chatter with a, See you at the gala tonight sir. Stiles blandly agreed with a clipped mental communication before he switched off his unit link mind chip.

The transport fired up as Charles Carver directed the driver to get them to the McArgent-Stilinski estate post haste. Derek was looking at the window, and if Stiles didn’t know that x-ray vision was certainly not one of his supernatural abilities, he would have sworn the man was looking right at him. Hazel green eyes, keeping a hold on his light brown ones as he rose into the sky within the confines of his car, until the vehicle flew off into the night.

***

Stiles had been dressed and ready to go in under fifteen minutes, his clothing having been picked and steamed for him under the watchful and ever present eye of Charles. You’d think a man with the title of major-domo would have a lot more to oversee than his clothing choices but Charlie had always been an overachiever. Also, with Noah being the head of the family and estate, Charles had always paid a bit of extra attention to Stiles as he tended to be the most rebellious of the household. It had been that way since Stiles’ mother had died and Charlie went from being just a regular steward to Stiles’ guardian as well. When he had risen through the ranks of the household, the position changed nothing when it came to Stiles, whom the man had come to regard with quite a measure of affection as if the younger man was his own son.

The gala was being held at the Jade Mountain Estates, a beautiful hotel compound decorated in multiple shades of green paint, fixtures and art pieces with trims of silver that gleamed in any and all light. The place had been chosen for it’s grand ball room which spanned several feet with high ceilings to accommodate intricate and rather large crystal and diamond chandeliers woven in intricate patterns that could be reset into symbols to suit the guests and their event themes. Tonight they were set in patterns that mimicked the house crests of the honored guests attending.

The floor was golden marble and polished so well that it gleamed in the light and reflected images of those who moved across it’s surface in a dim likeness. The front doors which opened out to the top floor accessed a grand terrace and helipad which would be used to fly in the guests expected to attend. This was where Stiles’ transport had landed.

He took a deep breath and exited the vehicle ahead of Charles who wore one of his four piece power suits with a coat-tailed jacket in royal blue, the colors of the McArgent-Stilinski House. Stiles adorned a long tunic that fell to his ankles, with slits at its sides up to his waist so his skinny legged pants could be seen. Daggered sleeves, extended a few inches from his cuffs and the legs of his pants lay lightly over his polished boots. His tunic and shoes were a deep royal blue while his pants were a dark silver.

Entering the ballroom, took his breath away just a little. He was astounded by the beauty of it. Stiles found he never truly got over settings like these, no matter how often he attended the events which brought him to such places. Something about it made the world seem kinder, less segregated. He brushed the thought away as he spotted his father, stepfather and stepmother at the top of a double staircase which led to a second floor balcony. Noah caught sight of him and tilted his head to a side, giving his son a pointed look while pursing his lips.

Stiles knew without words exactly what his father was saying. You’re late. Despite the fact that no one was here yet besides the organizers of the little shindig and the staff who would work it. But as far as Noah McArgent-Stilinski was concerned, being ten minutes early only amounted to being twenty minutes late. Stiles noticed Chris follow Noah’s gaze to him and sighed in relief when the man smiled at him and then very obviously chided his husband for being so hard on Stiles even at a distance. Melissa jumped to his defense too based on their body language and past experience that allowed Stiles to read the situation, and he saw his father visually relent.

It was no strange occurrence to be in a family headed by triad parents. polyamory had become a legal relationship status recognized by every aspect of government and society long ago. But for Stiles, who had only ever known his mother and father, to be his parents, who had loved his mother more deeply than he had ever known possible, right up until she died, it was difficult to get accustomed to the new state of things. First his father began dating again, seeing new people, and Stiles had worked hard to over time, stop disabling the guidance systems in their transports which navigated them to his home. He had learned to stop calling false emergencies at their residences to get them to leave. He had even stopped adopting dangerous pets, after his lycanther, which he trained to growl and threaten callers who would stop by for dates.

He did want his father to be happy and he had finally understood after a very deep and very heartfelt talk, that it would never mean that Noah had stopped loving his mom or that he never did. But hearts weren’t meant to live alone forever and his mom would not want her husband to be sad and alone for the rest of his life, because she was gone. Stiles knew that that must be true because his mom was good and kind and loved them both too much to want them unhappy. So he relented.

Shortly after he did so, Noah Stilinski and Christopher Argent had fallen in love with each other. Chris would come for long visits and sometimes spend the night. Chris was kind and though he could be very serious, when he smiled Stiles felt a little lightening in his heart like, there might be room in there to care about someone else the way he cared about his dad, or his mom. Chris treated him very well and was actually the one who began his combat training when he noticed the raw talent that was Stiles Stilinski.

Eventually Stiles met Chris’ daughter, Allison Argent and though they did not get along so well at first, over time, things righted between them and he started to think of her as a sister. It helped that his long time friend Scott McCall had a crush on her and they always seemed to get along with each other. So Stiles had again found himself trying for the ones that he loved.

He couldn’t remember quite when it had happened, but suddenly instead of just his dad and Chris hanging out together, Melissa McCall had begun to join them. When he really thought about it, Stiles would think that his father must have been carrying on with Melissa secretly until Chris expressed affection for her as well. Or maybe Noah simply explained that he was not willing to give up one for the other and so they had decided to try to make it work as a tripod.

Somehow though, it had. Stiles could see that Melissa and Chris shared something between them that was both equal and different to the thing they shared individually with his father. So he again allowed it to happen as his father seemed to be made happy by both these people, and why should he interfere or make things difficult. He had seen triads before and those families always seemed so happy.

Not long after he resolved to be open to their relationship, the three of them got married. The house of McArgent-Stilinski was born and Stiles gained two siblings. Scott had always been something of a brother and he had eventually gotten closer to Allison and thanks to them, the whole thing was made loads easier.

So as he looked up onto the balcony at his father, glancing back at him after being lectured by his wife and husband, as he watched Noah Argent-Stilinski smile defeatedly at him and then roll his eyes, light-heartedly, something his father reserved specifically for teasing him, or sharing inside jokes with him, he said a soft prayer of thanks for his stepmother and stepfather, because the truth was, he could have done a lot worse, but they quite alright.

Two figures approached him and his eyes darted downward. It was Scott and Allison. Scott wore a royal blue double breasted military trench coat, with a silver spotted blue ascot peaking out under his neck beneath the high collar of his silver shirt. His pants were blue chinos and he wore a pair of blue-silver oxfords. Allison was stunning in an off the shoulder royal blue, mermaid gown with silver sequins running over the surface. Her shoes were pointy toed silver sandals which matched the small silver clutch in her hand adorned with stones of sapphire at it’s clasp. She wore sapphire earrings set in silver and a sapphire crossbow pendant around her neck at the end of a glittering silver chain which looped her neck leaving only a thin length of silver across her creamy skin. Her hair was coiled in an intricate pattern of loops which met their peak toward the back of her head and were held in place by two silver picks with sapphires at their tips.

“Noah was going to have a heart attack if you didn’t show up soon,” she admitted as they approached. She embraced him warmly and kissed his cheek before looking him over and approving with a nod.

“He needs to stop being so uptight or I’m afraid dear old dad won’t live as long a life as we all would like,” Stiles responded smiling to her wickedly.

“Mission ran long?” Scott asked as he hugged Stiles as well.

“A little,”

“Trouble?” Came Allison.

“Oh nothing we couldn’t handle,” Stiles flailed an arm in the air in an attempting at swatting the proposed trouble passed his head but only succeeded in performing a vigorous and failed princess wave at one of the servers getting into position.

Allison chuckled, “Don’t go changing Stiles.”

“Who me, never!” He stressed the word with a hand on his chest in faux offense at the very thought.

“We better get up there, I think it’s starting s...”

“As I live and breathe.” The words that cut Scott off, had come from behind them. A man was walking into the ballroom and had an easy view of them all as Stiles had barely gotten a few feet from the door when he had stopped to revere his surroundings. Stiles did not need to turn around to know who was speaking but he did so anyway, out of courtesy.

Peter Hale stood just passed the doorway a top hat tipped just so on his head. The light of the room seemed to be absorbed into his obsidian swallow tail coat with purple embroidery. The purple buttons of his high collared black shirt disappeared behind the larger purple buttons of his obsidian vest, carrying the same embroidery as his coat. His pants were pleated with a sharp crease down the front of the leg and his loafers were a brightly polished obsidian. There was a straight black old fashioned neck tie about his neck and collar which lay down the center of his chest. His smile was wide and a little peculiar. Stiles thought peculiar because he didn’t want to think seductive which is the only other suitable word that came to mind.

“You fine agents of Shadow Law could not look more breathtaking if you tried, or perhaps you could, I embrace the possibility of surprise.” Stiles tried not to look somewhat uneasy as the man spoke. He may have addressed them all but his eyes, as Stiles had turned to see, were fixed entirely on him. They hadn’t moved an inch, despite the words that came out of his mouth. Scott and Allison noticed it too and bless her heart she cleared her throat and then gave a courtly bow which Scott quickly followed.

“Director Hale, what a pleasure it is to see you arrived.” Stiles made a mental note to buy her a couple pounds of that imported chocolate she loved so much for her intervention. He joined in on the bowing and Peter turned reluctantly to Allison, jarred by her throat clearing and her words.

“Why thank you Captain Argent. It is a pleasure to be here, and to see you, all.” The all, Stiles thought was an afterthought. Allison smiled generously.

“Allow me to escort you to our parents, I believe they have been waiting for you.” She offered her arm, and just when he glanced at Stiles and opened his mouth to make some counter proposal which would have surely involve being alone with Stiles she added, “this way, please.” Her pearly white doll’s smile glinted in the light and her compelling gaze did not waiver. Peter looked between the three of them, smiled wider still, and then took her arm in his. Allison ventured a quick glance back, her eyes narrowing under a raised brow as if to say, you owe me big time. Stiles mouthed a heartfelt thank you and gestured for Scott to follow him in the opposite direction.

They were only able to escape for a little while as the guests began arriving shortly after Peter did. Scott and Stiles had to join their family along with Peter in standing at the base of one side of the staircases, in order to greet people as they arrived. The invited persons were a hefty list of name brand families and those with noble or honorable reputations in society or government. The list also included everyone who had an influential hand in the running of the Supernatural Citizen Registration Initiative which was head by Peter Hale.

This was something Stiles had always found curious as Peter Hale was part of the Hale family, and all the other Hales of that family, were born werewolves. All except for him. Somehow, he had not only avoided the gene but also managed to work in government on creating a system responsible for monitoring and disciplining supernatural persons, something which could sometimes become a tad gruesome. Not everyone was willing to submit themselves to the registration act. Not everyone was eager to put on a genether tag and give that much control of their life to the government. To give up their freedom to a degree.

Fortunately, the Hale pack had supported the registration act. That was why they were also among the honored guests to arrive. Talia Hale, Derek’s mother was alpha of their pack and Grand Alpha of the wolves of the United Westerlands. She was practically the queen of her people. She had decided to support the registration act and was one of the first to accept a genether tag, deciding to lead by example. She had also nominated her son Derek, to be the first supernatural member on a shadow law strike team. Sometimes Stiles couldn’t tell if it was wise or weak but then he remembered it wasn’t his place to decide for the supers. The riots of 2335, where gangs of supernaturals terrorized the nation and brought about unchecked and untold destruction, had led many to believe that they should never be left to their own devices again.

He watched the family he was just thinking about, walk in through the grand double doors and all the lines of separation between them melted away, as he regarded their grace, elegance and beauty. Their house color was purple and they all looked as royal as the color suggested in it. Talia Hale led the clan. Her raven hair was slicked back along her scalp and toward the back of her head became a weave of intricate pattern that designed a closed triskelian, the symbol of the Hale clan. Her dress was a boat neck medieval design of satin, the skirts of which pooled elegantly around her feet. The gown was embroidered with links and twining wheels of gold which rounded the padded boat neckline and danced down the body of the dress. A measure of gold chain thin and tightly woven circled her petite waistline and fell down the front of the gown, swinging pendulously as she walked forward. Her sleeves were silk daggers that matched the length of her skirts and the back of her gown was crisscrossed with purple from her waist up disappearing beneath the padded boat neck. Her lips were purple and her jewels were gold. A thick circle of gold at her ears studded with amethysts, rings on her fingers, all slivers of gold along her long digits that made her look like a fairy tale sorceress or enchantress. In her hair was a small tiara with a large square amethyst set at an angle at it’s heart. But around her neck was nothing but her genether tag. The strip was purple to match her garb as if it were a choker about her neck.

She was absolutely exquisite. If she were truly the queen of the wolves, Talia Hale certainly dressed the part. And her children all walked out like royalty behind her, princes and princesses of the blood. She had two girls one of them as statuesque as she the other, looking like a pixie but both were dressed with every bit as much detail and elegance as their mother. Their dresses were more modern and slightly less extravagant but they were still jewels among shiny stones. Her sons were all strong and proud looking in their modern suits of excellent make and exquisite adornment. But the most beautiful of all of them, Stiles thought, was Derek.

At the helm of his four brothers was Derek. His thigh length sherwani fell perfectly against his body showing off his slim powerful build and the shape of his chest. It was largely embroidered along the left side with gold ribbons and it was sleeveless. There were slits at it’s sides from his waist down and a slit down the front, beginning at his navel which allowed for a secret showing of sun kissed skin, just above the waist line as he walked. His harem pants were loose but not baggy and tapered at the ankles. They also maintained the gold ribbon embroidering down the left. His feet were sheathed in gold loafers and his arms were bound in circlets, hoops of gold which ringed the length of his biceps caging them like wild beasts in captivity. His forearms were clad in royal purple leather braces laced on the inside of his forearms. He wore one gold ring on his left index finger with an amethyst set into it. Stiles couldn’t see his eyes widen at the man’s approach but he felt how his body responded and rushed to settle it.

“Welcome Lady Talia,” Peter said taking his sister’s hand lightly in his own and giving her a reserved half bow.

“Brother,” she uttered, her voice like milk and honey, deep and soothing and subtly feminine. Stiles, in his attempt to distract himself from Derek who had started staring right back at him, turned to regard the interaction between human brother and supernatural sister. Peter had stiffened when Talia called him brother. Probably weary about reinforcing in the minds of his colleagues that he was related to a super, by blood. They could call it what they wanted, Stiles thought but there was still so much racism going on.

Peter gave his sister a stiff smile and passed her hand over to Noah. “You remember Director Noah McArgent Stilinski.”

“Director,” Talia called pleasantly and let him take her hand. The man gave a much better reception than her brother had.

“Lady Talia, you are most welcomed here. And of course you remember my husband and wife, Director Christopher and my wife Doctor Melissa McArgent Stilinski.”

“Yes indeed, it is an honor to stand in such esteemed company, thank you for having us.”

“The honor belongs to us Lady Talia,” Chris said kindly, smiling with sincerity as he took her hand, kissed it and bowed before guiding it to Melissa who shook it.

“And these are our children,” Melissa began, gesturing to the three of them, “Stiles, Scott and Allison.”

“Ah, two captains of shadow law strike teams, you look marvelous and you Scott captain you may not be, but I’ve heard tell that your abilities vast exceed the requirements to lead a team of your own.”

Scott blushed, “Thank you Lady Talia.”

“These are my own children. I don’t believe I have ever attended an event with them except my eldest son. Allow me to present, my daughters, Laura and Cora, and these are my boys, Reece, Sebastian, Trystan, Adrian and of course you know Derek.”

Derek shook the hands of the men and kissed the hand of the women but when he had come to Stiles he seemed to change. Stiles extended a hand staring him full in the eyes. Derek took it gently but instead of shaking he simply held the man’s hand and returned his gaze. “Captain Stiles,” he uttered in his deep voice.