3. Family MattersMature

I stood outside the cave, scanning the trees for any sign of Willow and Jasper. It was almost eleven. Shade was getting nervous, his sturdy black form fidgeting next to me.

We had taken the form of wolves, finding it would be easier to last the night on the run in a powerful animal.

The cold crept in under my fur and my paws were frozen to the cold rocks, but I stayed still. I looked back at the sound of a whimper. Faline's soft brown pelt stood out against the dark russet of Brooke and Rusty. She whimpered in her sleep and shuddered against the cold night air, pushing closer to her brother's pale body  for warmth. Leo sat up and looked around before moving to settle down on the other side of the shivering female.

"It's really cold for a July night..." I said softly, laying down on the cold stone.

"The caves are always cold." Shade replied as he settled down next to me, his warm body chasing away the cold.

The stars glittered far above us in the cloudless, velvet sky. I wondered where Willow and Jasper were. And if they were safe.

"They'll be fine, Echo, just relax. Willow and Jasper have been on the run together for longer than most of us have...."  Shade's voice was soft as he watched the trees.

I wanted to call to them. I had just found this family, I didn't want to lose them so soon. "What about the Hunters? What if they've been caught?"

"Relax, ok? They will be here soon..." It sounded as if he was trying to comfort himself more than me.

His breathing slowed as he fell asleep beside me, his great, black  pelt rising and falling with a steady rhythm. I couldn't sleep. I wanted to know that Willow was safe.

I swiveled my ears at every sound, a snapping twig, a rustle in the bushes. It was close to eleven-thirty now. I was scared. In half an hour i would have to wake the pack and move deeper into the trees.

I could hear footsteps, human, too heavy to be a shifter, too loud, all shifters moved quiet, no mater the form, as a survival skill.

Getting up, I listened closer. Voices, male voices, rough words that i couldn't quite make out. Were they Hunters?

Moving silently through the bushes, I followed the sounds, the closer I got the more I picked up. I could smell gun smoke and blood.

"We know there are more!" A gruff voice ordered, a strangled yelp answering his demand.

I caught sight of a large man in Hunter gear holding a slight woman by the hair.

Willow! I wanted to call out to her, to rescue her, but there were five other men, all holding large guns and silver pistols on their hips.

Jasper was thrown against a tree, blood dotting the corner of his mouth. Was it his or one of the Hunter's? I couldn't tell. Around his throat, something shiny cause my eye.

Silver! Of course! that was why they didn't shift and take these guys down. Silver was the only material that could contain a shifter, it couldn't hurt us in the form of chains or cages, but it prevented our power from working. And I could almost bet those guns were loaded with silver bullets.

I turned on a paw, racing back to the caves as fast as I could. They were looking for us, and they already had two.

"Shade! Shade!" I barked, trying to push him to his feet. "They have them! The Hunters have them!!"

"What? Echo, calm down..." He looked up at me. "What do you mean?"

"Willow and Jasper! The Hunters caught them! They have them chained with silver and they are coming for us next!"

He was on his feet in a heartbeat. "Wake the others, we have to move."

"But what about Willow and Jasper!? We can't just leave them!"

"What happened to Willow and Jasper?" Rusty's head raised up out of the clump of bodies.

"The Hunters have them." Shade explained. "Wake everyone up."  He looked at me. "We can't risk the younger ones."

"But we can't just leave them!" I snarled.

"Leo, Brooke and Faline are plenty old enough to keep themselves safe." Salem said, his sandy pelt brushing mine as he stood beside me. "We need to rescue our packmates."

Rusty nodded. "I agree. Together they will be fine. Willow and Jasper, they are the ones in need right now."

Leo, Brooke and Faline stood side by side at the cave entrance. "We will be fine..." Brooke assured us. "Go rescue our family..."

My heart went out to those three as we left them in hiding. They were so brave for ones so young. I knew I was never that brave. I just hoped everything was going to be ok.

The End

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