Something New Ch. 12byloumey1©
Harriet smiled slightly when she heard Misha swarm back up into the trees, taking that faint scent of his interest with him. She was impressed with how silently he moved. He was quieter than even were-cats, which was pretty damned impressive. She had to admit, there were a number of things about her vamp partner than impressed her, and if they both survived the night, she fully intended to further explore his... abilities.
"Now that you're back at your post," she teased. Her mood had automatically improved with his apology. "I'll answer your question. My nose has picked up a number of things, but nothing that is of concern unless someone needs to track down some elk. Was there anything else?"
"Only that it won't bother me if you shift. I've noticed most of the other weres are in their animal forms, and wasn't sure why you weren't. I just don't want you holding back," Misha replied, pleased that she wasn't holding onto her irritation with him.
Harriet sent her amusement down the link before replying. "Oh you don't have to worry about me holding back. I'm keeping human because I'm more agile this way, and I have a feeling that it will be more useful than my strength. Besides, even staying human, my nose is better than most of the wolves when fully shifted."
Harriet felt Misha's interest and curiosity before he spoke. "Do all bears have such sharp noses, or just you?"
Harriet answered, figuring it would help him trust her if he understood just how keen her senses really were. It was hardly a secret, after all. "Yes and yes. All bears have a much better sense of smell than wolves."
Misha heard the underlying pride in her voice. Not that he blamed her, he knew were culture well enough to know that a lot of weres didn't give bears much credit. "Even among bears, though,she continued, my nose is one of the best. My hearing and night vision aren't bad either."
Misha was fascinated, and found himself wondering what it must be like to have that kind of scenting ability. Vamp noses tended to be keen, but it seemed he'd missed the boat on that ability when he was created. He had other senses that were sharper, but sometimes it still bothered him that his nose wasn't that much better than the average human.
"So do..." Misha suddenly broke off, a soft sound in the forest having caught his attention.
Harriet went on high alert, scenting the air for anything unusual.
"There's something at ten o'clock," Misha told her and paused. "I alerted Max as well as Nadia and Jack," he said, naming the neighboring pair that was off to their left. Harriet maintained her focus on the direction he'd indicated. She was just beginning to catch a scent and didn't want to lose it.
"You've got someone who's bending light and shadow to hide themselves," Max's soft voice came into their heads, along with an image of what the person was doing and their current location. "Capture or kill," he told them shortly, letting them know to take action, and that he'd like the person taken alive if possible.
Harriet was surprised at the level of loyalty she felt towards the dragon man. The only other person who claimed her loyalty to this extent was her alpha, and it bothered her that she felt this way towards someone she'd barely met. Later she fully intended to talk to the alpha about it, but for now, she had work to do.
Harriet and Misha consulted Nadia and Jack, and in seconds had a plan of action. Nadia and Jack were going to play backup, and watch to be certain their target didn't have a partner trying to sneak through while they were distracted.
Misha climbed back down to the ground, and moved towards their target, acting as a distraction. Harriet's nose told her the precise position of their quarry, and she quietly maneuvered herself behind them.
She waited for her opportunity, and a moment later she tackled the intruder. A split second after that, Misha was helping her bind and gag the man, and her adrenaline rush was shifting into a sense of accomplishment.
"Neatly done," Max said to them, and they both felt a sense of pride from his praise. "Throw him into one of those cages that Christian brought, and then return to your positions."
Harriet and Misha quickly did as they'd been ordered, and were back on the line, each pleased with the way they'd worked together, and that they'd had a moment of doing something other than watch and wait.
Keisha was busy coordinating her people, but a part of her was longing to join in the fight. She'd shaken Max out of his anger earlier, but that didn't mean she wasn't pissed. She hadn't succumbed to her anger, though she was dying for an opportunity to work some of it out.
No, she thought to herself. If I don't want this turning into a clusterfuck, I need to keep track of what's happening and coordinate my people. I can't do that very well if I'm in the middle of the fighting. Besides, she thought with a slight smile, it's not like they need my help.
"Mate," Carol-Tiu's voice growled into Christian's mind. "We've got the Western slope handled."
Christian heard the satisfaction in his mate's voice, and saw the situation through her eyes. His lips twitched in amusement. She'd decimated the ranks that had tried to attack her. Even the vamps stationed in the area were keeping their distance from her, and usually they flocked to power as much as weaker weres flocked to an alpha
"You have a talent for understatement," he replied, letting his pride in her color his mental voice. He gave her a quick image of how he would reward her later, and broke contact, chuckling at the growl that echoed down their bond.
He checked in with his other teams and found that each was the same. Together the weres and vamps were making short work of the attackers. Christian found himself quite impressed with the effectiveness of the combination. Had the attackers only been facing Keisha's or Christian's forces, the outcome would have been dicey. But together, it was like they had tripled the number of fighters.
If they do this well with no prior training together, imagine what they would be like with it... When this is over, Keisha and I really should talk.
Lisa and the shadow creature continued to study each other. Lisa suspected that if anyone were keeping score, she'd currently be leading, but she didn't kid herself into thinking she'd won the game yet.
Lisa decided to take a risk and examine some of the creature's bonds more closely. Something about them still bothered her on a very deep level, and she knew whatever that something was, it was important.
I'm not going to get much that I don't already know from this end, she thought to herself. I need to trace one of these and see the person it's attached to.
"I can help with that," Raven spoke up, following her thoughts.
Lisa quickly agreed, deciding to strike while the iron was hot, and Raven moved to mask what she was doing. Lisa chose the most recent of the attached bonds, getting the feeling that it would be less likely to detect her than if she tried an older, more established link.
Lisa traced it quickly, knowing her time was limited, and was surprised to discover it linked back to Tim, the factory worker responsible for the sabotage.
She could see the bond was only recently established, perhaps even within the last twenty four hours, and as a result, the bonding was fresh and not yet well concealed. Lisa studied it carefully.
Crap! No wonder this is bothering me so much! Lisa cursed to herself, and then quickly fled back just as Raven began to tug at her.
Even though she'd sped back as quickly as possible, she was still a hair too late, and she felt the shadow creature reach into her for a moment. It didn't last long, but she knew it had found something to use against her the moment it smiled.
"No wonder you had no interest in sex, you've already found a very ... talented partner. I should have realized he was more than just your bodyguard." it said smoothly. Lisa was surprised how well its musical voice conveyed warmth and understanding, even though she knew it felt neither. After all, her empathy was working just fine.
"If I had such a one, I wouldn't be interested in much else either. That shifted form of his is quite ... impressive and leads the imagination into so many ... possibilities. It is not often that a dragon's bonded is able to take on their aspect. He is quite special."
Lisa remained silent, though she did wonder how it knew enough about dragons and those they bonded with to make that statement. She knew the creature was leading up to something, and she didn't want to feed it any more details than it had already gained.
"Oh do not worry, I have no interest in doing anything to him," it paused and its smile grew wider. "Unless, of course, he wanted to do something to me," its voice dropped lower and took on a husky note, leaving no doubt just what that something was.
Lisa was unmoved by its words. She knew Max, and what the creature was suggesting was completely outside the realm of possibility.
"Of course he is an honorable man, so I doubt I would ever be presented with such an opportunity," it said, managing to sound disappointed. "So tell me, have you asked Keisha to turn you yet? She is the logical choice since weres do eventually die."
Lisa simply remained silent again, using the time to balance her disgust over what she'd seen about its bond to Tim. She needed to get her reaction under control so that her revulsion wouldn't be used against her.
"I see," it stated, watching her closely. "You've decided to ask her, but have not told her yet. How very courageous of you to change for him," it complimented, and once again, its words sounded of genuine emotion that it did not truly feel.
"I wonder if after you're turned, your fangs will be able to get through those scales of his. You wouldn't want to break one, after all. I hear it's quite painful. If you can, it should be quite interesting to see is reaction to vampire venom. I saw how ... motivated he is as a partner. The additional drive provided by your bite ought to be quite an experience, and is sure to keep things interesting for a long time."
Lisa was starting to wonder if the creature had a point to make or if it was just trying to get her to let her guard down. Either way, this was beginning to get tiresome, but she knew that, like a schoolyard bully, if she gave it any reaction it would only be encouraged.
"Keeping things interesting is so very important," it continued, speaking with the air of one with vast experience. Of course in this case, it did actually have experience. "The centuries get quite long..." It paused, giving her a look full of understanding, and once again, Lisa was careful not to fall for its acting ability.
"Not that I think he'll leave you. The thing about honorable men is that they will hold to their word no matter what." Lisa now understood where the creature was going with all of this. It was implying that eventually she and Max would end up trapped together, neither one interested in the other anymore, and with endless years before them.
Lisa kept her expression smooth, but this really didn't bother her. She didn't know what the future would hold for her and Max, so she didn't worry about what might happen. It may be that eventually they would tire of each other, though she hoped not. If it ever did happen, she knew without a doubt that she would release Max from any promises made to her, and she knew if she asked, he would do the same. It simply was not in her nature to make another person miserable.
And tomorrow I could be killed crossing the street, she thought to herself. The future will bring what it will bring, and worrying about it is pointless.
The creature narrowed its eyes, once again frustrated that its words had no impact. It could tell at this point, that she wasn't merely putting up a façade. No, this woman was genuinely not affected.
"The cavalry is finally here," Raven cawed into her mind, while 'catching' and passing a link to her. Lisa allowed the link to form, feeling like she was joining hands with the other person. She was a bit surprised when she felt Sonja, coupled with Eldingar mesh with her. As the link settled, she also detected a third person that was holding an anchor back to the physical.
Lisa took one look at that anchor and realized this was her pathway back. She could now leave at any time, and she felt relief at the same moment she prepared to stay and hold her ground.
Lisa looked again at Sonja-Eldingar and almost gasped in shock when she finally saw something she would never have expected. "You're the original bond!"
"Yes, I'm afraid that is so," Eldingar said softly. "Only the death of one of us can break that bond."
Lisa's surprise increased. She didn't know why, but suddenly she was able to see much more about Eldingar than she'd ever seen before. "Yes," Eldingar's voice whispered into her mind. "Yes you have seen clearly. The creature before you is of my making. She was once great, but then she chose to become this. She was my greatest joy, and my greatest sorrow."
Lisa digested Eldingar's words quickly, her mind already shifting to something of greater importance in this moment. "Please, you must tell Tiernan and the others..." Lisa showed Eldingar all she had learned in one quick burst.
There was a brief pause before Eldingar spoke again. "He has been told. You have seen further than even I. What it has been doing... This should not be possible, but it explains much."
"Healer," Tiernan's voice came through the link, and Lisa clearly felt Eldingar's and Sonja's shock at his presence. "We have seen this once before. The item that Amergin and I created will help."
''When have you seen this before?" Eldingar asked with some suspicion.
"Do you really wish to waste time on this now?" Tiernan replied, dark amusement in his mental voice. "As I recall, we are short on time."
Lisa could feel the subtext in his words, and figured there must have been some sort of argument between him and Eldingar earlier.
"Fine, but you will explain later," Eldingar replied, a slight smile in her voice.
"If the two of you are finished verbally sparring, could we get on with this?" Lisa interrupted, knowing there wouldn't be much time before the shadow creature figured out that something was different.
"Of course," Tiernan replied. "My people have been getting into position. As soon as Eldingar relayed your information, I sent them to keep it trapped here. It will be tricky, since it has so many bonds, but all of my people are at my disposal."
"All? What about Thom and Shari? Who's protecting them?"
"You have many friends," Tiernan answered. "Suffice to say, Our land and Our friends are being well guarded, along with ensuring your ability to return."
Lisa was a bit surprised. From his words, she gathered that Tiernan had turned over protection of the physical lands that linked to his part of Underhill. That took a tremendous amount of trust, and Lisa knew she'd want to hear this story later. In the meantime, she had work to do.
"So how do we use your little gift?"
Max was on high alert. He and his team had caught and killed a number of people that had slipped through the fighting. Considering how well Christian and Keisha had managed to decimate the attackers, he knew the ones getting through had been sent on a different mission than the 'cannon fodder.'
He'd seen this type of thing before, but it still left a bad taste in his mouth. To spend so many lives on a suicide mission, simply because you desired something held by someone else was just ... petty and small. It would be a different story if Christian were prone to attacking his neighbors or represented some other type of imminent threat, but that was not the case. Christian's pack was strong and he had a fierce reputation, but along with that was his reputation for leaving his neighbors alone unless provoked.
Max shook his head in annoyance. He's certainly been provoked now. If the Calliehg alpha isn't killed during this little action, Christian may well decide to take care of the problem when this is complete. I may even help him. It would certainly help settle any other covetous thoughts that may be out there, he thought to himself, before catching a flicker of movement from the trees across the circle.
Max zeroed in on the area and caught yet another person that had not only slipped through Keisha and Christian's lines, but his as well. Max alerted the pairs stationed nearby and prepared himself to attack if necessary.
A moment later Max was able to stand down, as yet another attacker was taken out by the efficient members of his team. They'd been working together amazingly well, and Max was impressed.
They'd been lucky so far. The largest group of attackers had only three people, though Max did not expect that trend to continue. The problem was that every one of them had a way to conceal themselves. The most successful of these had been able to mask scent. Max was grateful for Misha's preternatural hearing when that one had come through.
"It's like fighting fucking assassins," Max heard one of his people grumbling after reporting in to him. He agreed with the sentiment, and wondered just what these attackers were after. Any questioning of the ones they'd captured only sent them into a catatonic state, rendering them useless. He kept his senses sharp, drawing on everything he had. Something just didn't feel right.
Max reached deeper into his bond with Ember, and was gratified when his contrary partner didn't hassle him, and gave Max unrestricted access. It was like a dripping icicle compared to a raging waterfall, and he felt Ember steadying him while he got his 'feet' under him again.
As soon as Max was solid, he extended his new senses into the clearing and the areas surrounding. There was literally nothing that could hide from him. He could even sense the mosquitoes happily getting meals from his team. Too much information, he thought to himself, and Ember helped him filter out what he didn't need to see.
"What is that?" Max asked.
Ember sighed briefly in annoyance. "What else would they be but shadows?" Ember replied.
"They're the ones concealing the people getting through, aren't they?"
"Right first try," Ember replied dryly.
"The forest is full of them... Can they do anything aside from concealing people? Do you know how to get rid of them?"
Ember huffed another sigh, "They're ability to influence anything physical is limited, but problematic just the same. It's a pity the shaman is out right now. She could handle such as these easily. Still, there may be something we can do together. You should warn your people."
Ember showed Max what he intended to do, and Max barely got out the warning before Ember moved through him, and flames blanketed the clearing. Ember was in full control, and the flames did not burn a single leaf, nor did they put any heat out beyond pleasant warmth. However, anytime the light from those cheery flames touched the shadows, they burned to ash in seconds.
"Watch the forest, not the flames!" Max's mental voice barked out to his team. "Nothing gets through!"
Max felt Ember's surprise. "It cannot be easy to ignore all of this. I'm impressed with these people," he commented. "Warn them again. I'm going to spread this out while we still have the energy. The cost of this is not small."