He moved easily, quickly in the shadows, black hair brushing his shoulders as he crept across the roof of the abandoned warehouse. The moon was full and the gathering would have been going on. He could feel the power of the old ones and even his old pack, the traitors, the false pretenders to the crown of all shifters. They couldn't feel him because he'd seen to it. With an easy grace, he leapt from one building to another, his body covering the alley below like some flying shadow. Around him stretched a boundless array of possible escapes, if he'd been in the mood to run. The old docks district, riverfront, held a plethora of abandoned buildings with warehouses and gutted factories lining the waterfront under the oppressive shadow of the Casino district, which laid just across the river. He glanced at the vampire haven and it's casinos with narrowed, amber eyes. They would have their day as well, but first, Ian and his pack would pay. There were more pressing matters immediately, however, as he'd scented a human that had strayed into their territory.
They were just down the street from a line of night clubs, which meant it might have been one of their more inebriated patrons. No one left that area sober. His muscles bunched and relaxed along his back and arms as he scented the human, a female, and tasted her heartbeat on the air. She wasn't scared, which confused Keadon Argyle to no end. A smirk curved upward, framed meticulously with a goatee, as he realized that the human may not know what she'd gotten herself into. He was willing to bet that the lack of fear would have to mean naivety or ignorance. Without a sound, he fell into a push up position; his hands perched on the edge of the rooftop he'd leapt onto. His straight hair spilled forward to frame his face like black curtains as he watched her move down the alley below him. He needn't look far for his brothers. He couldn't see them, but he knew they were there, waiting, waiting for him to make the first move.
His feet made the barest of sounds as he dropped from the rooftop and landed on the pavement. He straightened himself easily and walked casually down the middle of the alley as if he owned it. As far as he was concerned, he did own it. His movements were graceful in leather pants so tight they looked painted on. His feet were bare on the pavement as he walked over all manner of scattered debris, including broken glass and nails. Keadon had stopped sweating the small stuff when every day became a struggle for his life. His brothers, three of the four, fell in line with him, melting outwards from the shadows and falling in line behind and to either side of him as they approached the woman without a sound.
All three were bare from the waist up, but Keadon was the only one whose body was marked with a crescent moon tattoo on his left pec, small and upturned above a silver nipple ring. The man at his right was auburn haired and tall, muscular but not enough that he looked as if he lifted weights. Conner, even at a shorter height of five foot ten, was thicker in the shoulders, chest and legs. The third was pale skinned with hair so blonde it looked as if it had been bleached several times and then left in the sun. He was the only other one with jewelry in obvious places, a stud of silver through his nose. When Keadon stopped several steps from the woman, the other two stopped as well, six pairs of amber eyes intent upon her as they sniffed the air. Keadon was the first to speak.
"You are surely lost," he said, the barest hint of an Irish accent playing deep in his throat.
Gloria knew the informant was supposed to be here. This was the right alley. This was the right night, the right time. She stopped and turned to glance behind her. There was that feeling of being watched. It prickled against her skin like some kind of internal radar. Gloria Velasquez was many things, but she always trusted her intuition. It was telling her that someone was near and each movement was being noted. She couldn't see anything though; the alley appeared just as it had when she walked down it, empty except for the trash and the shadows. Shaking her head she turned and continued down the alley way. A casual movement brought her hands up and under her jacket as if she were a little chilled from waiting so long outside.
The tip had come in the day previous and she had been the lucky one to get the job of coming out and meeting the woman. It could have been a trick, but the person had sounded sincere, frightened and was seeking to exchange information for their personal safety from what they had described as a group of blood thirsty monsters that were after her. She lifted her face upwards and stared at the large moon that hung in the sky. The pale surface was much like an eye staring balefully down at her. Uncaring and unconcerned that Gloria was out at the docks instead of home, warm and content. Her fingers curled slowly around the butt of her gun in her shoulder holster as she lowered her head to look ahead of her once more.
Those dark eyes sought out the woman that was supposed to be there and wondering if the reason for her absence was, that it was too late and whatever she had been running from had already gotten her. Approaching the end of the alley she came to a stop and looked out over the river. The gleaming lights of the casino shone back at her a beacon in the darkness. Gloria felt a shiver a disgust crawl across her spine. If she had her way that whole island would be sunk. It was a permanent reminder of how far they had to go before this city was free of the supernaturals that lived in it.
The voice made her turn. She did so slowly, casually, but those dark brown eyes narrowed slightly as she saw what waited for her. She had expected a woman and instead had gotten three men. Each of them looked different, yet there were some features that appeared similar. She looked at the other two and then let her gaze focus on the one that had spoken. The hand upon her gun tightened slowly as she gave them a look that was clearly chastising. Her tone was without accent and held a superior note in it.
"Let me guess, you are here to help me find my way back." She let her gaze drag over him purposefully and then finally return to his eyes. "Thank you, but I'll pass."
She noted the lack of shoes, lack of attire and might have written them off as homeless, if not for the power that clung to them and the way their eyes seemed to almost shine. Lush lips compressed into a thin line as she turned and began walking away from the three of them, taking a right and heading along the dock front. There was no fear in her attitude, there was annoyance as if they had done something wrong and she was restraining herself from taking action against them.
"I know my way home." She tossed over her shoulder as if dismissing them. Her thumb slowly eased the safety off of her weapon as she moved. She had left work and come to meet the informant and hadn't changed from work. The knee length skirt didn't allow her very large steps, but she stretched her legs to make her walk a brisk one. The jacket she wore was loose but it clearly showed the white dress shirt that was worn beneath it. She wasn't exactly dressed to take on three supernaturals and while Gloria Velasquez was a brave woman, she wasn't stupid. Tactical retreat and a filed report on the encounter would take care of them as soon as a team could be organized.
They disappeared from sight as soon as she turned away from them, three figures disappearing into the darkness of the alleys. The peroxide blonde was the first to appear in front of her, his stance easy as he leaned back into his posture and gave her a smile. He was smaller than the other two, thinner with skin so pale it was almost translucent in the light of the full moon. The stud in his nose glimmered with the moonlight and a brownish tint from the light of his pale, amber eyes. "My, my, what long legs ya' have," he said with his smile drifting into a smirk. His accent was purer Irish than the man that had spoken previously, his Hibernian tone carrying softer vowels and harder consonants until his words flowed in a lyrical sort of way. "What's a nice lass like you doin' in a place like this?" His smirk remained, though it became more of a leer as his eyes moved over her body, his tongue dipping outward to moisten his lips.
Those spiked heels came to a sudden stop from the click click that followed her with every step when the man appeared before her. She gave him another disapproving look.
The tallest of the three came around the corner of the building that the blonde had appeared from, his eyes narrowed, chest raising and falling more quickly than it should have been. He leaned against the brick of the building, his hands pinned behind his bottom as he leaned in a pair of beaten jeans, and his bare feet spread to brace him against the wall. The muscular, black haired man was missing from the line up, but he was watching from nearby, his eyes shimmering in the darkness like two pinpoints of light that caught the moon's luminescence.
"You are going to make this difficult aren't you?" She stated the obvious, annoyance in her words now and that hint of a Spanish accent showing itself. "Be a smart man, turn around and walk away while you still have the chance and take your friends with you." She seemed to wait for him to do what she had directed and arched a slender brow upwards when he remained where he was.
"You really have no idea who or what I am, do you?" She gave him a look of pity. "No wonder they sent you out here first. Where is the other one? Watching somewhere to see what I do to you while he remains safe?" She took several steps to the side so that she could turn and face the two with her back towards the water. "So let me guess, you are the bait. If I don't kill you, they will come out of hiding eventually. If I do kill you, they get rid of you and let me go?" She seemed to consider the options presented before her.
The blonde tilted his head in an almost doglike look of curiosity as she stood up to him, his eyes widening just slightly, but his smile remained. "Now what makes ya' think ya' can kill me, deary? I know what you're not," he said as he knelt on the pavement, remaining in her way, but crouching casually. He glanced down, his fingers painting absently against the stone of the pavement until he found a small pebble, which he flicked away before raising those amber eyes back to her once more.
"It does seem that either way you don't exactly win in this situation," Gloria said. There was a slight taunting in her voice as if she were purposefully goading him. Her words were in truth, nothing more than a distraction as she casually glanced around to see if she could spot the missing man who had spoken to her first. She didn't like not knowing where he was while the other two were in front of her. Gloria didn't have much choice in the matter but she had the feeling that continually turning her back on this group would be a dangerous thing to do. Better to face off with them and see exactly what they wanted. She was one of the best interrogators in FBI; she knew how to play one person off another, how to plant doubts and most assuredly how to manipulate a situation with words.
"Maybe we dunt see ya' as much of a threat." His smile broadened as he flicked his gaze towards the wall where the second man stood. The larger man, his body lithe compared to the one that had spoken to her previously, but undeniably capable of doing damage, returned the look with a knowing one of his own.
"You aren't a vampire," the taller one said simply, his eyes moving to her once more. He pushed away from the wall, his walk easy and graceful despite his lankier frame. He stopped well outside of her reach and her outside of his, his head shaking softly as he tsked his tongue in his mouth.
"No, I am not a vampire." That was easily discernable. The way the pale one was acting she guessed that they were wolves. Gloria hadn't actually been close enough to have a conversation with them before. Usually they were large, hairy, hulking masses with few language skills, large teeth and even larger claws.
"You also know something of us, don't you?" the tall, lanky man asked. He didn't smile and from the look of his mouth, his face and his general demeanor, he likely didn't smile much at all, if ever. His voice was somber, but without an accent, as if he'd been away from his homeland or in the city for a very long time. His nostrils flared with several sniffs as he tilted his head up and smelled the air, his lips quirking slightly as his body shuddered and then straightened. "You must be packing some heavy hardware to be so unafraid."
She watched the two of them and remained calm and poised. It was only her eyes, those dark brown pools that glimmered with anger. Why was it that supernaturals always assumed humans were there personal play toys? Gloria withdrew the gun in her left hand, her finger on the trigger guard and she kept it pointed at the ground, announcing it was there.
"This is one of the reasons, though I am wishing there were different bullets in it at the moment." She eased her other hand into the pocket of her jacket and pulled out a small container. It was identical to the ones that women normally carried mace in. She flipped off the top casually and placed her finger on the button.
"This on the other hand, is something that I think you will like. Do I have a volunteer to see exactly what it will do that will let me walk out of here and leave you all on the ground behind me?" she asked.
Her gaze eased between the two of them. The poker game had commenced and they had just been waiting for her to show her cards. It was the can that their gaze went to, their frowns evident as they saw the small, aerosol spray can.
The gun was ignored altogether, as if it were little more than a plastic bat or a squirt gun. She could have been carrying rounds meant especially for shifters and for all they knew, she was bluffing about the sort of ammunition she was carrying, but the can could only hold one thing.
The blonde and the short haired man straightened and replaced their smiles, a prickling of power the only thing that betrayed what was going on behind her. Keadon let out a low growl as he reached around her and grabbed her wrists, pulling them both down towards the pavement. He pressed his hard body against her back as he did so, his lips moving as his goatee entwined with her hair and brushed her cheek.
"A diversion and little more, though I do appreciate you showing your weapons up front like this. We couldn't very well be left guessing," he said in that deep, growling tone. He inhaled deeply with his face pressed against the side of her face, his breath warm and moist against her skin as he let it out in a shuddering breath. The two others were already approaching, albeit cautiously. Even with the woman's hands pinned by that impossibly strong lycanthrope strength, they had respect for the weapons she carried.
No scars showed on them, but they'd seen those sorts of weapons used and didn't plan on being on the receiving end of shifter rounds or spray. It was like acid across the skin; a wound so vicious that even their rapid regenerative powers couldn't repair the damage. Keadon's grip was firm on her wrists, his fingertips squeezing hard enough to be painful, but not quite hard enough to grind the bones beneath his fingers to dust. He could if he wanted to, but there would always be time for that if she chose to fight back with her legs.
It was a lot like getting hit by a wall and having that wall land on top of her. She found herself face first on the pavement. Large hands gripped her wrists and the scrape of her fingers across the pavement as she struggled to hold onto the weapons from the force of the impact that knocked the wind out of her. She hadn't been expecting the creature to come up behind her. She grimaced as the thing on her spoke. She felt her cheeks flush in humiliation but kept quiet at the taunt. She quickly went over her options.
They weren't very promising for her at this point and she knew that in those next few moments, they would decide if she lived or if she died. Gloria was a fighter; she would do whatever it took to ensure that creatures such as these wouldn't harm another living soul even if she had to give her own life to see it happen.
The blonde spoke as he approached his head shaking as he chuffed out a light, melodic chuckle. "I'll kill the little blonde one," he said with a high pitch to his voice, as if he were taunting her by mimicking her. "We're lucky you're not a vampire, love. Our tastes run a wee bit warmer blooded," he said with a wink, that Irish accent thick as he chose the hand that she held her gun in and yanked the firearm out of her grip, breaking her trigger finger if she'd slipped it into the trigger guard.
"My tastes run to those that don't lick their own ass." She countered as she began to writhe under the muscled frame that covered her.
When the blonde came closer she tightened her hand around the canister she held, knowing exactly what they did, the gun was of little use other than a minor annoyance. The bullets in them would do no more damage than if she had stuck them with a pointy stick. When he leaned forward to grab the gun she loosened her fingers and simply let him take it, she also depressed the button on the canister and let the clear liquid spray outwards. Hopefully she caught either the blonde's hand and arm or the one atop of her as he held her wrist. It would do absolutely nothing to her, but she had seen it tested on video and had watched as the creatures flesh disintegrated as if it had been dunked in hydrochloric acid.
The blonde man, Boyd Banning, tossed the gun unceremoniously into the water once he'd retrieved it, but took several, impossibly fast steps back as he heard the tell-tale sound of a spray can being used. The words were no sooner from his mouth before the taller man began to scream, loud and uninhibited, almost a baying howl. The flesh ate upward from his fingers, sizzling and stinking in the air with a smell that overpowered the salty smell of the river.
Keadon's face twisted with anger, his grip coming harder against her wrist until her fingers ceased to work under the constricted lack of blood flow. The faintest sound of splintering could be heard from Gloria's wrist, a small break meant to cause her pain, and it would.
Gloria didn't so much hear the bones in her wrist cracking under the pressure as much as felt it. She gave a muffled scream and her first instinct was to pull her wrist away from what was causing it pain. The canister was held as long as she was able to, but that didn't seem long enough in her mind even as she heard that eerie scream that told her she had at least gotten one of them.
It all happened in a matter of seconds as the gangly werewolf held his arm away, his neck straining painfully to keep from his arm whilst the sizzling substance crawled up his skin, revealing bone and leaving parts of his muscle and blood to drop in wet globs on the pavement.
"Do it," Keadon said, his tone a growling issuance of dominance and command. As soon as he spoke, Boyd was in motion, moving towards the large werewolf almost too fast for the eyes to catch, the blonde wolf's hand ripping apart with vicious claws that sprung from within him. A quick swipe and a louder scream and the large, skinny werewolf's arm was severed at the elbow, leaving that boiling mass of flesh that had been his arm to fall to the pavement. Blood gushed from the wound. With her wrist broken, Keadon released Gloria's right hand and went for the spray can, tossing it into the river and in one, sweeping motion, he returned his hand downward to tear her jacket open at the back, ripping it clear of her arms and nicking her back enough to draw thin lines of blood.