Wordcount: 1,476 words
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, Violence and Cursing
Summary: The safety of her friends at stake, Meg isn’t going down without a fight.
Wolves are made for sprinting short distances or for trotting long distances, so Meg stopped a quarter mile from the bus stop to catch her breath. Christopher looked like he’d been out for a walk, not a run, and paced the area while she rested.
This was a bad idea. The adrenaline rush had faded somewhat, but Meg still couldn’t see a better solution. But if Derek got away that has to mean there’s only one of them with a gun and they’ve got limited ammo. She’d gone over it in her head a hundred times on the way here, but there’s no other explanation for why the Hunters didn’t follow and finish Derek off.
So as long as she has Christopher, they should be safe– even if it means she’ll be playing cannon fodder.
Meg huffs quietly, not a bark, but lout enough to get Christopher’s attention. Wolves can’t talk, which complicates things since changing forms takes time and energy she doesn’t have. She pats the ground with a forepaw and plays charades until he understands that she wants him to stay behind her as she investigates.
His body language makes it obvious he thinks this is a horrible idea, but he gives a frustrated nod and waits to her to try and flush out the Hunter.
Now or never, she turns and starts loping down the street towards the bus stop. Firing shotgun should have attracted attention, even over the noise of the bus pulling away which means the Hunter has a medallion on him.
Made by the Silverwitches the medallions works as ‘see-me-not’ for humans and wolves alike. The Hunters are just humans, without the medallions they’d have no chance against the wolves. But with it– unless she steps on him, there’s a good chance she wouldn’t notice him until it was too late.
Which was the plan, sort of.
Meg wasn’t sure what she was looking for, but once she found the blood spatter from where Derek had been shot she spiraled outwards searching for anything that looked out of place.
The actual blood was long gone, but the scent remained. The same magic that let them change from one form to another was quick to dismantle any trace they left behind. Missing arms grew back and severed arms disintegrated– something that had proven a blessing rather than a curse as forensics advanced over the centuries.
The medallions worked the same way, although theirs was an instantaneous magic. So there wouldn’t be a scent to follow here, but there would be footprints, shotgun shells, and other clues that might have been overlooked in the panic.
With luck Theo should have reached the other three wolves by now, warning them to stay at work until someone could pick them up, but Meg didn’t want to take the chance.
The Hunter had to know they’d investigate the scene which means there’s a good chance this was a trap.
If not, then they needed to head over to the restaurant where Kelly worked. Kelly’d be the next on the list if the Hunter was going after wolves that would choose flight over fight.
Meg spent twenty minutes in frustrated searching, but wasn’t able to find anything other than a set of footprints in the dirt in a side alley where the Hunter had laid in wait. Without a scent trail she had no way of tracking them once they hit pavement and she sat down once she hit the end of the trail, trying to sort out what to do next.
The dull roar of a shotgun going off six inches from her head answered that question.
It wasn’t magic silver, but it was still silver and the healing that should have been near instantaneous slowed to a crawl, leaving her blinded and deaf and in worse pain than she had imagined.
It also kept her from calling out for Christopher. Shit.
Her legs weren’t working right and her graceful dodge turned into a stumbled sideways as the second shot went off. It missed her chest, carving another wave of fire into her shoulder and along her back.
Magical silver or not, that was enough to take her down and she flailed madly trying to get back to her feet and out of range before they reloaded.
But the third shot never came and a minute later she could see basic shapes again, enough to confirm that Christopher had the Hunter pinned to the ground, the shotgun and medallion safely out of reach.
Safe for the moment, Meg stopped trying to stand up, panting in pain and fighting down from the adrenaline rush.
The healing magic was already at work pushing the buckshot pellets up and out as it worked from the inside out to rebuild her. The silver burnt like salt in the wounds and she was pathetically glad that it wasn’t real Silverwitch silver, that would have stopped the healing process completely until it was removed.
After a minute the silver was scattered on the ground and she took Christopher’s place with only a slight limp, keeping the Hunter immobile while Christopher changed forms.
“Who are you?” Meg stepped back as Christopher hauled the man to his feet. “Which family are you from?”
“None,” coughed the man, clutching his ribs. “I’m alone.”
“No,” snarled Christopher, slamming him against the wall, “I’ve done this for longer that you’ve been alive, you are never alone. What family are you with? Pérez? Haase?”
Meg took the moment to upshift to human herself, “He’s not good at this.”
“What?” Christopher turned to look at her, maintaining a death grip on the battered Hunter.
“Maybe he is alone, he sucks at this.” She rubbed her cheek, it still sting from the silver but the healing magic has finished its work. “You saw him, he didn’t fire until I was stepping on him– if he’d waited we would have left. If he’d been paying attention he would have seen you. He’s got bad ammo, bad strategy, and since when do Hunters work alone? Or kill more than once in the same area?”
Christopher gave a sharp sigh, but turned back to the Hunter with a slightly less piercing glare. “If you’re alone, where did you get the medallion?”
“Found it on a dead guy,” the man grunted as Christopher slammed him into the wall again. “I did!”
“Right,” said Christopher “and you just happened to know what to do with it? What’s your name?” When the man just glared back, he slammed him into the wall again. “This isn’t a game. You want to stay alive? Keep talking. Now.”
“Corbin,” muttered the hunter.
“Schäfer,” said Meg, suddenly realizing why the man seemed so familiar. Oh my god.
“What?” Christopher started to turn, startled and the Hunter made one last desperate bid for freedom, knocking Christopher off balance and running towards the street.
Meg tackled him before he got more than a few steps away and twisted his arm up behind his back until he stopped struggling.
“Who the hell is Corbin?” Demanded Christopher, back on his feet, his eyes wolf-yellow.
“He’s the old alpha.” Said Meg, “I mean he was– He was before Donny, before my time, but I remember him from the photos. They thought he’d died.”
“You never looked!” Snarled the man, “I waited for you, counted the minutes and the hours and the days and then finally the fucking years and you never came for me.”
“But there was a bonfire,” Meg said, her brain still trying to process the fact that the old alpha was the one trying to kill them. “Just like Donny– there wouldn’t have been anything left.”
“You could have looked.” Corbin protested, but the fight had gone out of him. Meg might have healed but the human was still dealing with broken ribs and bite wounds.
“What’s the rest of the story?” Christopher motioned for Meg to back off and she reluctantly let Corbin go.
“They kept me for a few years–”
“The Hunters?” Christopher cut in.
“Yes,” Corbin glared at Meg, “After a few years of keeping me as a pet they convinced me to renounce kinship, promised me I’d have a chance to make them pay for abandoning me.”
“So where are they now? Did you kill them too?” She snapped back, ignoring Christopher’s sharp look.
“No, no– that was someone else.” He looked away and winced as Christopher moved toward him. “They promised me kinship –I’d get it back, I’d get it all back– you can understand that, right?”
Christopher had gone very still and Meg realized she subconsciously moved away from him. I wonder if they give enforcers classes in how to terrify people.
“Who promised you kinship oaths?” Christopher asked quietly and Corbin blanched.
“Gil, Gil did.”
Gil was the northern pack’s third in command and the leader of the ‘pest control’ squads that that kept the territory free of unwanted wolves.
Christopher glared at him for a moment longer, then stepped back. “And the Northern alpha agreed to this?”
“I don’t know– it was Gil, why would he lie?” Corbin sounded confused and for a moment Meg felt sorry for him.
But only a moment.