Out of Darkness Ch. 16bylilgirlsix©
Nevada -- Present Day
"But I'm not ready to be a werepanther." Kelly paced in front of Drago as he pulled his sweatpants on.
"Kind of too late to say that now, Kelly. You said you wanted to be a were." Drago sat on a rock and watched her walk back and forth. "You said you were ready."
"Yes, ready to be a werewolf with you! But a werepanther? No, this is more than I'd bargained for."
Drago sighed. "We can't do anything about it now. You're just gonna have to live with it." Drago waited a moment and then added softly, "Do you regret mating, Kelly?"
"Oh my God, no! No!" She ran and knelt in front of him, taking his hands in hers and holding on for dear life. "Never! I'm so grateful to have found you, to be your mate. Wolf or panther, I know my life with you will be amazing. I guess more than anything I'm a little annoyed with my grandfather for never telling me." She smiled when his hand found the side of her face, and she rubbed her cheek against it, purring.
He smiled down at her and leaned forward to kiss her soft lips. "Speaking of your annoying grandfather, he is our Alpha and must be respected. I think your panther will remind you of that in the future."
The panther was busy grooming herself but stopped long enough to agree with their mate. She would be sure to show proper respect to the Alpha, grandfather or not.
"For now, we'd better get back to the compound. All hell is gonna break loose soon. We need to be ready."
Kelly had to stifle a laugh and covered her mouth.
"What?" Drago stood and stared at her. What was so funny?
"You're starting to sound like the Baxter Betas. Were you awake more than you let on in the hospital?"
"Maybe my wolf was paying attention. He's always been good at adapting to new places. I moved a lot as a cub, remember." Drago smiled and put out his arm. "May I escort my new mate to introduce her to the pack?"
Kelly giggled and hooked her arm in his. "You may."
Kelly and Drago walked arm in arm back to the compound. But they weren't prepared for the congratulations from everyone they passed. Apparently, news had traveled fast. By the time they made their way back to their room in the hospital, they were surrounded by Drago's parents, all four of them, and Kelly's grandfather.
"Congratulations, my boy. I know you will take good care of my granddaughter." Leo clapped a surprised Drago on the back as he passed by.
"I'm so happy. I've gained a son and a daughter in the same week." Margareta dabbed at her eyes as she smiled at her son and grabbed Kelly to give her a quick squeeze before making room for Drago's other mother, Carla, to do the same.
Kelly and Drago exchanged confused looks.
I didn't know we'd cause such a stir. Usually all the excitement is confined to the matings of prospective Alphas. Drago wasn't prepared for the answer from his new Alpha.
You will be my heir, Drago. I have waited for centuries to find a Beta strong enough to someday take my place. I love my pack, every member, but none are strong enough to lead. You are the one I have waited for, the one my mate foretold centuries ago. I had given up hope when Kelly decided to leave the pack. I had thought my mate's vision flawed. But all has come to pass as she predicted. Welcome to the Creighton Pack, my boy. Welcome!
Drago was suddenly enveloped in a bear hug from the panther Alpha. He wasn't sure what to do and begged Kelly through their new bond for help.
She smiled and shrugged her shoulders. This was certainly not what she had expected either. She'd been wondering how to tell her grandfather she was going to become a werewolf and then found out she had been a werepanther the whole time.
The joyous mood was quickly ended by Alistair's serious tone. "I'm sorry to interrupt, but Carr says we have about three hours to prepare for Erobos and his minions. I'm afraid we'll have to continue the congratulations at a later time." He wished he could have waited, but there was no time. "Please, the Alphas and their seconds need to meet with the Council in the dining hall now." Alistair took a moment and then continued. "And the female panthers will be meeting in Carr's office."
Drago wasn't happy about being separated from his mate so soon, but his human half assured his wolf that she would be safe surrounded by the other panthers. As long as she doesn't think she is going to fight against Erobos.
And why shouldn't I? My panther says she can take on any wolf and win!
We will discuss it later! Drago reluctantly followed his new Alpha, part of him wishing he could stay sequestered with his mate, away from Erobos, away from any more fighting. But the other part was ready to fight, ready to win!
Silvano watched with mixed emotions as Drago walked with his new Alpha. Although Silvano was technically a Beta, he had never been a warrior. He was a scientist. He felt Carla wrap her arm around his waist and move in close to him. He looked down and smiled, kissing the top of her head.
"You're proud of him, aren't you?"
"Of course, cara. Why wouldn't I be? Our son is now second to an Alpha! And he will fight side by side with his father, as it should be." Silvano wished he could be there, fighting with them. But he knew he would be of no assistance. He hoped that Xylon would find something useful for him to do during the fight. After the meeting, he would speak with him. Xylon wasn't a fighter either.
Kelly was the last to enter Carr's office. She felt all eyes upon her as she looked for a place to sit. She had met Jenna and Orsolya once, but the others were pretty much strangers. She looked at each of them, and suddenly realized they were looking at her mating bite. She self-consciously tugged at her collar and turned beet-red.
"Males don't like you to cover up their bites. They get downright mad about it! Troy wouldn't let me cover mine for weeks." The woman giggled and turned away, whispering to the blond sitting next to her. They shared a private joke and just couldn't stop laughing.
What the heck is her name? I have it on the tip of my tongue.
My name is Danielle, but you can call me Dani.
Kelly whipped around and saw the hazel eyes laughing at her. "I'm sorry, I forgot we can all hear each other, can't we? There are so many voices in my head, I'm getting kind of confused." Kelly could make out snippets of conversations between the different women, but couldn't tell who was who. Each voice was different, but she was just downright lost.
Orsolya walked over and sat down next to her, taking her hand and patting it gently.
"Don't worry, Kelly. It will get easier. The other girls have adjusted well. They were all human until just a few months ago. Until then, I thought I was the only panther left. Remember that we met briefly yesterday? I am Drago's aunt. You are among friends and family, my dear. We will all help you." She smiled warmly and hugged Kelly around the shoulders.
Kelly watched Orsolya closely and saw tears forming in her beautiful pale green eyes. "What's wrong?"
Orsolya gently held Kelly's face. "I just can't get over how you look so much like my dear sister, Zsálya. You even sound like her. It's like having a part of her back with us." She smiled and leaned back in her chair, still holding Kelly's hand.
"Orsolya, what are we supposed to do now?" Jenna looked to the older woman for guidance. None of them had a clue.
"I'm not sure. Kelly's grandfather insists that we can do something to help. But I really have no idea what it could be. The only panther I ever knew from home was my grandmother, and she was alone. She never spoke about the Seven Sisters or any other special powers other than visions." Orsolya sounded sad that she had no information to help them.
Tracy spoke quietly. "Maybe we shouldn't try so hard. What if we just relax, and see if our panthers tell us what to do. They certainly seem to know things we don't." She looked at each of her sisters in turn, her grey eyes hopeful.
The women smiled at the little blond, who was usually so meek she barely said a word. She seemed such an unlikely mate to the big Czech Council member. He was boisterous and outgoing, while she was quiet and subdued. Maybe between Konstantin and her panther, she would come out of her shell.
"That's not a bad idea, Tracy." Katy was amazed at the things that came out of Tracy's mouth. It seemed that when she did decide to talk, it was always something of importance. "Let's just sit back, relax, close our eyes, and wait for our panthers to tell us something." Katy was the first to take a deep breath, relax her body, and wait.
One by one, the other six women did the same. The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. But something had changed. There was a presence in the room.
Orsolya was the first to open her eyes. Something was calling to her. She gasped and smiled broadly, whispering, "Grandmother!"
The other females opened their eyes and sat, open-mouthed, watching the apparition in front of them with silent awe.
Jenna could only stare.
The other panthers looked from the floating figure to Jenna and back again. They'd heard that Jenna looked exactly like Orsolya's grandmother, but they hadn't been able to compare for themselves. Now they could see it!
Hello, my dear. I have missed you so. But I have watched from afar. I was pleased when Guillame found you again. I had hoped it could have been sooner, but such is fate. The ghostly presence looked at her granddaughter with a loving, warm smile.
I have been sent by the ancestors to guide you as best I can. You are now the Seven Sisters, but you are un-trained. The hope is that, with my help, you will defeat Erobos once and for all. He is an abomination that never should have been born. My great-grandmother, Lysandra, regrets she did not take the one opportunity she had.
Orsolya couldn't believe her eyes. Grandmother looked exactly as she had when she'd last seen her in Hungary. Grandmother, why have you never contacted me before if this was possible for you?
My dear, it is only because of the Seven Sisters that I am able to be here with you now. The seven of you have drawn me here from Beyond. You needed help. Your panthers called out, and I was sent.
Danielle had never seen anything like this before. She clutched Rebecca's hand so tightly that Rebecca pinched her until she let go. "Ow!"
The apparition whirled around and faced Danielle, smiling warmly. Danielle, you and Rebecca are very powerful together. You have just learned that yesterday. But today you will learn how much more you can do. You must be brave.
Danielle nodded slowly, unable to even form a thought in her head.
Leona turned slowly in mid-air, the flowing gown she wore billowing around her. Her long black hair floated about her like she was in a wind. She looked like Jenna's twin, but different somehow.
Jenna, what do your visions of the future tell you? What have you seen for the packs?
Jenna took a deep breath, afraid to put it into words, afraid to share what she saw. I see death, broken families, orphan cubs. There were tears in her eyes. These visions had been coming to her the last few days. But she'd been preoccupied with Leona's memories coming to her and had tried to fool herself into thinking they were just nightmares.
Katy leaned over to her friend and whispered, "Jenna, why didn't you tell me? You've carried this around yourself? I'm so sorry!" She wrapped an arm around her and squeezed her tightly.
Jenna smiled gratefully at her friend. "I didn't want to burden you, Katy. There's been so much going on."
Tracy suddenly found herself staring into the transparent eyes of the spirit in their midst. She tried not to show her fear and bit her lip nervously.
Tracy, you must tell us what the enemy is thinking.
How would I know? Tracy looked around at her fellow panthers. She didn't know anything; she hadn't been out of the compound in weeks.
All you have to do is think, Tracy. Concentrate, you can do it. Focus on the strangers amassing at the edge of the town.
Tracy shut her eyes and tried to do it, but didn't know what the heck she was doing. Nothing is happening.
Katy had a thought. "Tracy, James and Steve are watching them. Maybe you can connect with one of them somehow and that will lead you to them.
Tracy looked at her for a moment and nodded, shutting her eyes again and furrowing her brow in determination.
She found the familiar minds of James and Steve. She was good friends with James' mate, Sarah, and could feel his fear for her and their unborn cub. She tried to ignore it as she pushed forward to the werewolves the two Baxter Betas were focused on. There, she had it.
I feel... excitement, anger, fear, uncertainty. Tracy's eyes popped open. Okay, now what?
Leona turned to Danielle and Rebecca. Now it is your turn. You must find those that feel fear and uncertainty, and amplify those feelings in them. Make them so frightened they turn and run.
Danielle and Rebecca exchanged a quick glance before taking each other's hands and focusing. They would use the same trick Tracy had, find James and Steve first and then move on from there to the strangers.
Their panthers moved together, finding the frightened first. The fear seemed to radiate from them. They moved into their minds, unknown to them, linking them all at once, enabling the panthers to speak to all of them as one.
Some of the werewolves stopped in their tracks, listening. Was it their wolf speaking to them?
The voices spoke together, in almost a hypnotic cadence, hoping to magnify their fears.
You will die a horrible death, your bodies scattered for miles. The Baxter pack destroyed a pack of Dire Wolves. Do you really think you will survive? And now they have been joined by two packs that have a need for revenge against Erobos. They will not surrender. They will not run away. They will fight to the death! And that death will be yours.
Among the scattered groups of werewolves that had gathered along the highway, individuals began to sweat, their faces turning a ghostly white. They looked for their friends and whispered. They were able to sneak away, unnoticed by the crowds of wolves trying to get a look at their leader, Erobos.
James and Steve cocked their heads as they saw the few start to back away from the group, then turn and run. The larger group didn't seem to notice.
Carr, the odds are getting a little better. I'd counted up to over four hundred, but about forty just ran out of town.
Carr sighed. "Don't know if it's because of the panthers or not, but their numbers are down a few, but it's still going to be more than three to one."
"What is our plan?" Leo spoke up. Drago fidgeted next to him. Leo acted as if he didn't notice. Drago, all will be well. But you must remember that you are now my second. Watch your father; he shows no emotion, regardless of what is happening.
Drago snuck a glance at his father, standing next to his Alpha, Guillame. He watched everything going on around him, but giving no hint of his own feelings.
Zsigmond felt eyes on him and looked up to see Drago staring at him. Being a second can sometimes be very frustrating, my son. You cannot show your own emotions or fears. You must be his support. If you are unsure of anything, ask me. I will help you.
The corner of Drago's mouth curled up into a half smile. He stood at his Alpha's side, a slight nod to his father his only movement.
"The packs will meet Erobos and his wolves at the midpoint between here and Elko. We can't let them make it to the compound." Carr would not let anything happen to the females of his pack if he could help it. "The female Betas who are not pregnant will guard the Omegas and other females, and the members of both Councils will guard the compound."
Zsigmond could feel Drago's restlessness. My son, you could not hope for better to guard your mate. Three of the panthers are mates to Council members. They would die to protect them. I know it's hard to leave a new mate, but you will, and you will fight to protect her.
Thank you, father. Drago was grateful to Zsigmond, and called him father for the first time since he had been taken away from his parents as a cub. He could feel his father's love through their new bond and returned it, wholeheartedly.
"Gather your Betas, and we'll meet outside the compound in fifteen minutes." Carr swept out of the room, Cole hot on his heels. "Our goodbyes have to be fast, Cole. Don't be late." Carr never gave Cole a glance and took the stairs two at a time to the third floor and his mate.
Cole watched his brother for a moment before running out the door to find Karen. He knew she was waiting for him at the well where he had first seen her wolf.
The first sight of her was always the same, wonder that they were together, all-encompassing devotion to the only woman he would ever love. Her long auburn hair fell over her face as she sat on the edge of the well, her fingers gripping the edge. He sat down next to her and closed a hand over hers.
"This is all my fault, Cole. If we had never met, you wouldn't have come into contact with Gary and the Dire Wolves, and Erobos wouldn't be coming here. It's all my fault!" Tears flowed freely down her cheeks.
"Pet, nothing is your fault. Even if you weren't in the picture, it still may have ended up this way. Now stop it! I have less than fifteen minutes to say good-bye, and I don't want to waste it talking about what might have been, okay?" Cole pushed the hair out of her face so he could see the dark brown eyes he loved so much. They were full of tears, and he leaned forward to lick the saltiness from her face.
"But this is so much worse than the fight against Gary, so much worse." She grabbed her wonderful wolf and hugged him close. Would she ever see him again after this? She couldn't imagine her life without him. "Don't go, Cole, please, don't go."
Cole held her trembling body and stroked her hair. "If I had a choice, I would never leave you, Karen. But you know there's no choice. I have to help protect the pack, not just you." He held her tight, feeling the waves of fear and dread she couldn't keep from coming through their bond. "And if this is my last fight ever, I wouldn't change one minute of my life with you. We're going to bring another life into this world, what's more important than that?" He reluctantly pushed himself away from her and tried to catch her eyes, ducking down until his green eyes met hers. "And you have to tell him everything about his father if I'm not here to do it myself." He felt Karen's nails dig into his skin. "It could happen and you have to be prepared, pet. But believe me, I will do everything I can to make it back to you, everything!"
Karen threw herself back into his arms, sobbing. "I know, I know." She whispered in his ear, kissing his neck and hugging him tightly.
Cole backed away from her embrace. "I have to go, pet. Knowing you're here waiting for me is the best incentive I could ever have. Before I met you, I had nothing. Now I have everything, and I aim to keep it!" He took her face gently in his hands and kissed her, not wanting to let his lips leave hers for one second. I love you pet, more than you'll ever know.
Karen wished this kiss would never end, but knew it would, far too soon. I love you too, Cole.
They walked hand in hand back to the compound which was filled with females in tears. Karen looked around and found Sarah, standing alone, crying. Karen had forgotten that James was on patrol today, watching Erobos and his gathering army. He wouldn't even be able to say goodbye in person. She gave Cole one last look and a quick kiss, and mouthed the words she said through their bond. I love you. Come back to me, Cole.