Being in the camp without Imi around was boring. No one else was interested in anything except making stupid fires-which I wasn’t allowed near because all the grown ups thought that I’d hurt myself again. I tried to play with some of the other wolves, but they just growled at me to go away, so I went to have a look at the woods, except Father ordered me back. The woods were dangerous too. All the interesting stuff was dangerous, so even though it wasn’t bed time yet, I went and had a nap. When Imi got back, she’d play with me.
I was having a really nice dream about playing in the woods with Imi and chasing stuff when there was a really loud bang. I woke up and lots of people were shouting. I could hear Father yelling my name and Imi’s so I went out to see what was going on, except Imi appeared at the door of the family hut. Jasper was with her. I liked Jasper, he had streaks of colours in his coat that looked like old pennies and leaves in autumn. Plus, Imi was always happy with him and he would always come and play chase with me.
“Stay inside Toby.” Imi wasn’t in wolf form and she didn’t look happy like she normally did when Jasper was around.
“Whyy?” I whined. I wanted to play.
“Because its dangerous little one, and I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“I’m not little! I wanna come.”
She smiled a little and she looked more like she normally did. “Not this time, okay? You take care of Mother for me.”
“Okay.” I really wanted to go with Imi, but if Mother needed protecting then I gots to do it.
Mother was just behind me. “What’s happened?”
“Something to do with our guest, Jasper and I are going to check with Father then see what needs to be done. It sounds like there was some kind of explosion.”
Mother nodded, all serious. “Be careful.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll look after you Mother.” I said, looking tough so that she would smile.
Everyone smiled a little, but they all looked serious still.
“I won’t let anything happen to her ma’am.” Jasper always called Mother ma’am. He said that it was because she was the Lady Alpha, but she didn’t like being called that so he was still really nice to her, even though she wanted him to act like she was his Mother too. Not like Father. Father still didn’t like Jasper too much.
“I’ll hold you to that promise, Jasper.” Mother was all serious again.
Imi and Jasper nodded, no smiles this time, and ran off to find Father. Something smelled funny, like fur and fire. There was still a lot of shouting too.
“Do you want me to read you a story, Toby?” Mother was already going to get a book and she looked like nothing had happened.
“Okay then” I jumped up and sat next to her by the fire, which was still glowing like red stars. She pulled me onto her lap, like she did when I was really little or when I got sick during the full moon and couldn’t stay in one form. She had picked on of my favourites and when she started reading, it nearly felt like home, just a bit more shouting than usual.
Jasper and I raced out, human form, as Father was yelling loud enough to make even our (less sensitive) almost-human ears ring. And that's without the effect of the Pack telepathy. Greywolf was there and had apparently given up on quietening him down as he was stood off to one side, hands clamped firmly over his ears. Jasper went over to him as I went and dealt with whatever had sent Father into such a rage. I had a sneaking suspicion that it was something to do with a missing "motherfucker" and the smoking crater where our Main Hall used to be.
"Father!" I gasped, "We can hear you perfectly fine without you waking the entire Pack."
"Watch your mouth young lady!" He snarled, thankfully a few decibels quieter. "Things are bad enough without the Pack hierarchy going to hell as well."
I bit back another rude comment with difficulty and replied. "Well the Pack will want to know what has caused you to get so angry all of a sudden."
"That fucking angel, that's what! He's done the same goddamn thing and made a mockery of all of us!"
I raised my eyebrow, suppressing the urge to point out that it was only he that had been made a mockery of.
"We'll go fetch him again then."
Father growled. "Its not that simple. Before, he was concussed and easy prey, now-"
"He's volatile, potentially injured and definitely pissed." Jasper completed, with a dip of his head in deference to the Alpha. "Let's just say the interrogation technique backfired and some angel voodoo resulted in your Father's scorched tail and this freaking crater."
I whistled softly. That explained Father's fury. No one touched the Alpha and got away with it. Plus, leaving a second crater was not the best way to get into our good books..
"Your Father has all the subtlety of a rampaging tsunami." Greywolf remarked dryly, ignoring Father's growl. "However, he is right in the fact that we cannot let this angel escape again. It may be that this being has information on what was summoned in the Alpha village. It may also be that he has involved us in something much larger than a petty revenge deal."
"Petty?!" Father fumed.
"Yes, petty." Greywolf continued calmly. "Now, Imi, do you remember the legend of the Apocalypse. The humans have it in some of their Bibles."
I thought for a moment. "You mean the End of Days?" I replied in confusion. "Horsemen, fire and hell on Earth?"
"Yes, that one."
"You don't mean-"
"I believe Toby may have opened one of the scrolls."
Oh shit. Jasper signed at me, drawing an amused glance from Greywolf.
Father, not knowing sign language, growled. "I've warned you about that, Trison."
"Sorry, sir." Jasper dipped his head, suppressing a smile.
"Well, now that we have established that it potentially really is the end of the world if we don't find out what's going on, how are we going to find this bastard?" I still wasn't too happy about the fact that Toby may have been in close contact to a psychotic angel and the freaking devil incarnate.
"We could take the human, draw him back here? She would be a weaker target than him."
"Harming innocents is not our way, Jackson." Greywolf reminded Father gently. "Though I understand your frustration, we cannot involve the human any more than we already have."
Father snorted but remained silent. No one was quite sure who thought of it-such is the way with Pack telepathy sometimes- but soon we realised that we had very little else to do.
"Summon the Hunters. We'll go in force to the town. Maximum force, minimum exposure." Father's tone was that of the Alpha and even Greywolf obeyed without question. Some of the more militaristic Hunters were already assembling in the centre of the camp, Father barking instructions over their forms. Human only. Weapons. Minimum bloodshed; capture and recovery mission. Any collateral was to dissappear.
It wasn't often that these sort of missions collided with the humans anymore. Demons, vampires, even weres these days avoided the human population at all costs. Exposure was not something any of the races wanted. We had all seen the films and the scientists. None of us wanted to become a freak show.
"Piece of shit." Jasper muttered, catching my thoughts. "For an angel, he's not doing much good. Threatening Toby, hiding behind humans, involving them, risking exposure."
I made a noise of agreement. It seemed like such a low thing to do, not at all fitting with what I knew of angels in the lore.
Jasper caught my shoulders. "You don't have to come y'know." His deep green eyes looked deep into mine, filled with concern as he sensed the doubts nagging me. "If your judgement-"
"My judgement is fine." I said, shrugging off his hands. "I just find it hard to believe this asshole is an angel when he's not only put Toby in danger, but that whole town too. An angel would be a freaking demon magnet. They'd love to take one down. Not to mention the fact that he's now forcing us to come out like this. He has to know that we wouldn't just let it go. It makes no sense."
"I know." He replied heavily. "A lot of us are thinking the same, but no one seems to have another option or any better ideas. And you know as well as I do that your father won't consider leaving it alone."
I sighed, shoving a large, slim pistol into a holster along my ribs. "Yeah, well, this sucks."
He laughed, wrapping his arms around me and humming his agreement. I rested my head on his, taking comfort, until Father's shouts for everyone to assemble became too irritating to ignore.
It made for an impressive sight. Fifty or so men and women, all looking to be in the peak of physical fitness, all dressed in black, all with a lethal air about them. If you looked closely, their skin was a shade too pale and their eyes held something that made humans shy away. The pupils were a little too black, the irises a little too intense in their colours. It screamed alien and yet, we looked just like any other human. Well, except for those who had popped their fangs. Those looked like the vicious, half-vampire beasts that we were when the Hunt was up. It had been at least a century since we last Hunted like this. Despite my misgivings, I felt my excitement rise. Such was the thrill of the chase.
Father was giving a motivational speech, mixed in with our marching orders. It was essentially, get the bastard without getting locked up. Try not to kill anything. Oo Rah.
"Find this scumbag. This so-called 'angel' who would hide behind the humans, laughing at us and bring him here. Then, we will teach him the true meaning of avenging. We will show him what it truly means to cross the Hybrids."
"No need." A familiar, yet oddly cold voice emerged from the trees, followed by a figure wreathed in white flame. "This angel is already here."