Out of Darkness Ch. 02bylilgirlsix©
Once again, a big thank you to Archangel_M for his help and guidance. Wouldn't be the same without him.
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Island of Sardinia - 1052 A.D.
Erobos stood nervously, waiting inside the castle for the vampire to return. He had brought him here and said he would only be a few minutes, but it had been almost an hour. Should he leave? No, he wanted Leona and this was the only way. The vampire would help him. He'd promised.
The vampire returned without a sound, suddenly standing in front of the frightened werewolf.
His voice was quiet and soft, almost hypnotic. "So tell me, my young wolf, are you willing to sacrifice everything for this she-panther you love so deeply?" He glared at the trembling male who stood before him.
"Yes, I think so." Erobos did his best to sound calm.
"Think? You must be certain, for there is no turning back, young wolf. The decision you make now will follow you and your panther for all your days. Choose wisely." The vampire smiled to himself. He knew what the wolf would choose. He lusted for a female he could not have. He would do anything to have her.
"Yes, I will sacrifice everything to have Leona!" He blurted it out. His need for her was so great, he would make any sacrifice to have her.
"Follow me then, my young wolf. Your future awaits you." He turned without looking back and led Erobos to a staircase that reached into the deepest recesses of the castle.
Erobos had not spent much time at all in human buildings. His pack lived in caves hollowed out from the side of the cliff faces. He was unsure of himself as he followed the gaunt figure ahead of him. Each step he took deeper under the castle seemed to lessen the hold his father's bond had on him and his wolf. At first, both he and his wolf panicked. But when he no longer could feel his father's presence in his mind he felt free for the first time in his life.
At the very bottom of the winding staircase was a large room, and in the middle was a cage.
In it was the largest wolf Erobos had ever seen. It dwarfed even his own father, who was Alpha of their pack. He stood mesmerized by the mammoth animal. But something was wrong. Its muscles looked too big for its body. Everything looked too big, out of proportion. The wolf salivated as it snarled at them, its hackles standing up on its back. It attacked the cage again and again, smashing its head into the cold metal.
Erobos looked up at the vampire, who watched the giant animal as it mindlessly attempted to free itself. "What is this? It cannot be a werewolf, can it?"
"It is a Dire Wolf. It is one of your ancestors. This is where you began, and this is where you shall end."
Erobos stood dumbfounded, looking from the animal to the vampire. "What do you mean? I will become that? She will never want me then!"
The vampire looked down at the werewolf, so naive in his youth. "Will it matter what the female wants? Only the strong have the will to take what they want. The weak will accept whatever they are given. Do you want the panther? Yes, or no?" His yellow eyes stared into the soul of the werewolf and saw only a black hole. He grinned. This one would serve his purposes well.
Erobos' eyes met those of the vampire and they stood for minutes, looking into the depths of each other's hearts, both blackened by hatred and envy. Erobos would never have admitted to it, but he craved the power the vampires had. He had always wondered why his father had warned him away. "Yes, I want her."
"Splendid, then we will proceed." He quickly closed the distance between them and before the young wolf could move, he had wrapped his arms around him and held his body tightly to his chest, his mouth seeking the hot blood that pulsed under his young skin. He felt the struggle of his prey and reveled in it, letting it drive him to bury his teeth even deeper into the yielding flesh of this eager young fool who sought to change his future.
As the vampire's teeth pierced his skin, Erobos convulsed in his arms, screaming with rage, not at the vampire, but at the panthers who dared to keep him from his love, and at the werewolves who insisted on their foolish traditions and rituals. He would be stronger than all of them! He would rule them one day with Leona at his side, but not as Alphas, as a King and his Queen. His mind swam with visions of their future as the blood was drained from his body. The visions were becoming dim and dark, and his mind slowed, starved for oxygen by the loss of blood.
The vampire felt the body limp in his arms, his strong heart barely beating. He smoothed the young wolf's hair from his pale face. "You will do well for me, young wolf. You will be my apprentice, my student. I will teach you well, all you will need to know to rule over all the Weres." He lifted his hand to his pale arm and used one of those long, yellowed nails to slice his own flesh, blood coming to the surface quickly and put it to the werewolf's mouth.
When the warm, rich blood of the vampire touched his mouth, werewolf instinct took hold. His mouth latched on and sucked, weakly at first, then more and more strongly, taking every drop he could before the vampire's skin healed over. But it wasn't enough. The wolf took control and his teeth tore into the vampire's arm, slashing the vessels, blood gushing from the wound into his greedy mouth. The blood tasted better than any he had tasted from any animal in his life. He wanted more. But the vampire pushed him away.
"No, Erobos. You must stop." The vampire couldn't let him take more. He had taken more than he had given to anyone before. "Now you take his." He pointed to the Dire Wolf that had smelled the blood and wanted it for himself. It was insanely trying to escape from the cage, hunger driving it crazy. It had been locked in this cage for weeks, starved.
Erobos attempted to steady himself. He felt stronger and stronger by the moment. He stood up to his full height, only a few inches less than the vampire. He looked at the Dire Wolf, its teeth trying to gnaw its way out of the cage. He breathed deeply, sensing the fear and panic in the beast. He smiled at his mentor. Just a few minutes before the animal had frightened him, but no more. He felt more powerful than ever before. He stood before the door to the cage.
"Open the cage, Erobos. Feed on the blood of your ancestors. It will give you strength beyond anything you ever imagined." The vampire backed slowly to the edge of the room.
Erobos slowly reached for the cage door, undoing the latch. The door was pushed open with one lunge of the wolf that leapt at the youth standing in front of it. Erobos shifted into a wolf, larger and more powerful than even his father. The Dire Wolf, weakened from starvation, was no match for the young werewolf, who slashed at its throat with his long, white teeth.
The Dire Wolf never had a chance.
Nevada - Present Day
Xylon slammed down the phone, his face a mask of rage. He tried to control himself before he spoke, but it wasn't easy. The Greek werewolf spun around to face the other Council members who had been listening to his end of the conversation. They waited patiently. All they'd been able to hear were Xylon's angry answers, grunts, growls, and then the slamming of the phone. "There's been a break-in at my lab. It appears someone was after Gary's research."
"Did they find it?" Alistair was deceptively calm on the outside. On the inside, his wolf wanted to return to their mate. He was sure whoever wanted the research wanted Jenna. Alistair tried to reassure him that one had nothing to do with the other. His wolf didn't care what his human side thought. The only thing that mattered was Jenna.
"They found his journals. I don't really know how much information was in them. The formula to turn on the Dire Wolf gene is not in the journals though, that much I do know." How did someone get inside the lab; that's what I really want to know. Xylon had always prided himself on the security procedures at the DNA lab. There was far too much sensitive information that could be used against the were species. It had been bad enough that Gary had used his lab to his own ends. He had meant to institute full background checks on every employee that he himself had not hired. Was this an inside job?
"Which means that someone knew about Gary's research. Did he have a partner?" Rhys had always wondered how someone like Gary could have carried out all his plans even after he had left the lab. How did he pay for all the equipment necessary to make his concoction? The massive were sat quietly as he pondered his questions. For all his imposing size, he was amazingly calm and in control of his emotions. Of course, anyone who thought to test him would find out quickly that he did not suffer fools lightly, especially if they attempted to harm his mate. Niklas Metzger had found that out firsthand. And now the former Council member's body was buried in the Nevada desert.
"I think I need some expert help. I know that most of the Baxter Pack betas are police officers. I'll speak with Carr about a few of them doing background checks on my employees. I just don't see how anyone could have gotten in without some sort of assistance." The very thought had Xylon sick to his stomach, but he needed to know. If anyone was able to get their hands on the formula it could mean disaster for their race. If every werewolf who carried the Dire Wolf gene was changed into a Dire Wolf they would destroy the remainder of their species. They had no conscience, no sense of right and wrong. They lived on instinct and survival of the fittest. And they were larger, stronger, faster, and more deadly than a werewolf.
Alistair nodded his head in agreement. "Good idea. I'm sure Carr will be more than willing to help. The last thing any of us wants is any more Dire Wolves in our midst." Speaking about them brought the fight clearly to his mind. And the first sight of his mate, battered and bruised, brutalized by Gary, their leader. His wolf circled, wary, ready to act if necessary. No one would touch their mate!
I'm fine. Please don't get so worked up. Nothing is going to happen to me in the middle of the compound. Jenna's comforting words flooded his brain. He immediately relaxed after hearing her through their bond. He still wasn't used to being so closely bonded with anyone. He'd really given up all hope of finding his mate. But she had been there, waiting for him to rescue her. And now he would never let her go. Nothing and no one would ever come between them!
Island of Sardinia - Present Day
The last few hours were a jumble. They'd left the smoking building, she clinging to his neck as he ran. How could he have carried her so far so fast? The streets seemed to whiz by. And he wasn't even winded. They'd stopped for a few minutes at a bank. He had spoken with a manager and then walked out with a case filled with Euros. How could he possibly have that much money? They'd then stopped at a store, where he'd bought a new cell phone and an iPad. She didn't say a word. She didn't try to run. Where would she run? They were on an island in the Mediterranean.
They moved fast, without a word between them. Now they were sitting in a travel agency. He was whispering to a female travel agent who was practically drooling as he sat close to her. Why did that bother her? What did she care if the woman thought he was drop-dead gorgeous? Every so often she could make out a word; her Italian wasn't that good. It suddenly dawned on her that he was the only person she'd come into contact with in that building who spoke flawless English. The others were obviously Italian, and their English was a second language. But he was different. What had he been doing here?
"C'mon, we don't have much time." Drago grabbed her by the hand and practically ran out of the travel agency. He seemed to know exactly where they were going and weaved between the other pedestrians on the way to their destination.
Suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks and she almost bumped into him from behind. She watched him inhale deeply, his nostrils flaring. Something about his features changed. His face became harder, his eyes looked almost feral, and his body stiffened. She wanted to ask what was wrong but thought better of it when he pulled her into the nearby alley. He held up a finger to his lips. She understood. She stood watching the entrance to the alley while he quietly climbed a fire escape. It felt like they waited forever, but she knew it couldn't have been more than minutes.
The two men looked like businessmen, not like they were hunting for an escaped woman from a glass cage, until they saw her. "The boss will be happy we found you. You might have gotten hurt wandering alone out here." The man who spoke looked around the alley. "No Drago? He dumped you off? Guess he finally got smart, figured once the boss had you back he'd forget about him, huh?" The other man snickered. "The boss never forgets!"
She backed away from them slowly, never taking her eyes off them. Her heart pounded in her chest. She couldn't hear anything else.
They followed her deeper into the alley, taking their time. Too bad the boss wanted this one. She would have been a fun diversion. If the boss was happy with them, maybe he'd give them a reward.
The smiles on their faces scared her to death. She was almost glad that their boss wanted her back. She had a feeling that, if he hadn't, they had some ideas about what they could do. She'd finally reached the end of the alley, and she flattened herself against the wall at her back. Oh please, please make your move now.
Drago was above them and silently dropped to the ground, surprising them. Drago grabbed the smaller one by the top of the head and the chin and twisted quickly to the side, snapping his neck. He fell to the ground in a lifeless heap. Now that the element of surprise was gone, he knew he'd have a fight on his hands.
"Just you and me now, Magnus." The two men circled each other slowly. Magnus was older and more experienced, but Drago was faster and stronger. They'd faced off many times in the gym. More times than not it ended in a draw. This time Drago had no choice; he had to win.
"You know the boss won't let you live, Drago. Let me kill you now. It'll be quick. I won't make you suffer. We've been too good of friends for me to do anything different. But if the boss finds you, you know it'll go hard for you." They continued to circle, moving slowly, watching for weakness, for an opening.
Drago never took his eyes off Magnus' face. He didn't say a word. Focus, it's all about focus.
"Why did you do it, Drago? What is it about this little human that made you want to commit suicide?" Magnus looked at the female, watching wide-eyed from the back of the alley. He looked from her to Drago and smirked. "Oh, now I get it. But you won't get a chance now, Drago. You're dead, and she goes back to the boss. But don't worry, maybe the boss will give her to me when he's done..."
Magnus didn't get a chance to finish the sentence. Drago let out a low growl and attacked. His first punch shattered Magnus' jaw. The second crushed his larynx. He laid on the ground struggling to breath. Blood trickled out of the corner of his mouth. He looked up at Drago, begging silently.
His voice was gone but she could hear the whisper, "Please, kill me."
Drago got down on one knee at his friend's side. He dropped his head for a moment to listen and slowly nodded his head.
She couldn't see around Drago's large frame, but when he stood up, Magnus was still, his eyes closed. His chest had stopped heaving. She looked up at the man who'd saved her life. He looked ... different somehow, wild, savage. She should have been afraid of him, but she wasn't. She watched as he moved the bodies behind a dumpster. He found their cell phones and turned them off, handing them to her. "Hold on to these a minute." He went through their pockets and pulled out their wallets, taking the cash. "Need every bit we can get." By the time he'd turned back to face her, his face looked normal again. "Let's go!"
But she couldn't move. She felt rooted in place. She stared at the bodies and back at him. Tears fell down her cheeks. "They wanted to..." She couldn't finish the thought. She knew what they wanted to do, if their boss hadn't wanted her back. She'd never seen anyone look at her like that, like she was a meal. She dropped to her knees and covered her face, sobbing.
He watched her for a moment, lost as to what to do. His wolf knew. He took over the human for a few moments. Wolves were pack animals. When a member of the pack is hurt or frightened, you give support. He sat down on his haunches and slowly reached an arm over her shoulder. He wasn't really sure what to do with it, but he'd seen humans do this before.
When she felt him close she turned into his body and grabbed him around the neck, sobbing into his chest. "I was so scared. I thought they were going to kill me or... or... oh God." She cried even harder. Her tears pooled on the ground beneath her.
Drago couldn't help but inhale her scent from this close. He closed his eyes and savored it - lavender and orange. He put his other arm around her and held her tight. His hand stroked her silky black hair. "We have to go," he whispered into her ear. "We can't let them find you. Please, we have to go. You have to be strong." He slowly pulled back from her, just far enough so he could look into her eyes, her amazingly blue eyes. His heart was pounding; it hadn't been a moment ago.
She sniffed as she looked up into his rugged face. He'd just saved her life for the second time. But he was one of her jailers. Why am I so confused?
She dropped her eyes, and he ducked to try and look her straight in the face, making an attempt at a smile. Her hair had fallen over her eyes, and his hand gently brushed it aside. He felt a sudden urge to be closer to her, but they had to go. He closed his eyes for a moment to gather his wits. His wolf nudged him forward. He wanted to shift and taste her for himself if his human half wasn't going to take advantage. He forced the wolf back. It wouldn't do them any good to scare her even more.
His hand stroked her hair, holding a long strand between his fingers. "We must go now, before they come looking for us again." He straightened up to his full height and held out a hand to assist her.
She stood, and suddenly realized how big he really was. Why hadn't she noticed 'til now? He picked up his bag and waited for a moment. Was he scenting the air? How bizarre. What was he trying to smell? When he seemed satisfied, he gestured for her to follow him out of the alley.
They stopped at a gas station long enough for Drago to throw the two cell phones into the open cab of a gasoline truck while the driver paid his bill. Minutes later they were at the docks. She'd feel better as soon as they got off this island! But where were they going? And how could she get out of Europe? She didn't have her passport. It was still in the apartment she'd rented in Rome. She started towards the ferry but felt Drago pulling her in another direction. They stopped in front of a little fishing boat.
"We can't take a chance on a ferry. They'll be watching all the docks on the mainland. We're going to make our own dock." He smiled as he took her hand and helped her into the small vessel.
"Are you sure this thing is seaworthy?" She looked around at the nets stowed on the deck. Everything smelled like fish.