"Tell me where they are!"
I flinched at the sound of a hand hitting Willow's face. I wanted nothing more in this world to rush out there and rip those Hunters apart. But the Ventatores were cruel, tricky creatures, trained since birth to kill. My own brother was one. It was a good thing he didn't know my secret.
"Echo, wait!" Shade snapped. I hadn't even realized that I had started to move into the circle of Hunters.
"We can't just hide, they need us!" I shifted from paw to paw, my silver fur on end.
"Rusty, come with me. You two spread out and surround them. Stick to wolf form unless you need a stronger form." Shade ordered, heading off around the group, Rusty on his tail.
Salem nuzzled my cheek. "Don't worry, Echo, we'll save her..." He murmured before trotting off in the opposite direction to take up his position.
I waited for the signal from Shade, my tail twitching with anticipation. I was ready to rip open their soft flesh.
"I want names!" The man roared, hitting Willow again.
"Maybe we should try the male, sir." One of the other Hunters suggested, pointing his shot gun at Jasper's head.
I saw a flash of defiance in Jasper's blue eyes. I could see the fury rising in his face. he and Willow had been together forever and hitting her in front of him was an idiotic move. "Try me." He growled.
The large man dropped Willow into the arms of another Hunter and turned on jasper, a cruel smile on his lips. "Well, boy? Where are your little friends hiding? Can't be far, can it?"
Jasper clenched his teeth, his eyes locked on the Hunter's. "Why would I tell you anything after you beat my mate unconscious?"
The man laughed. "Because if you don't," He pulled out his pistol, pointing it at Willow's limp body as the Hunter set her down next to a tree. "I'll kill her."
Jasper didn't even flinch. "You Venatores really are getting bold, you know...."
The man sneered. "You think I won't do it?"
"Oh no, I think you will, because you are just that stupid. A smart man would realize that if you kill my mate, not even silver will keep me from ripping you to shreds." Jasper's voice was cold, but his eyes burned with a wild fire ready to engulf the Hunters.
"Tell me where your pack is!" The man demanded.
Jasper smiled. "I don't have to..."
A sharp howl rang out. Shade's signal. I let out a war cry that shook my own heart as I crashed through the undergrowth. Four snarling wolves surrounded the Hunters, black, tan, russet and silver, each with bared teeth and burning eyes.
"Echo! Get the chains off of them, we'll distract them." Shade ordered as he leapt on to one of the Hunters, ripping away his guns and tossing them to Salem.
They must have done this before since they were so well organized.
I slipped over to Jasper, turning human as soon as my paws touched the silver on his ankles. "How did they catch you?"
"They were waiting at the diner for us." He grumbled.
I pulled at the at the chains, tugging the slipknot loose. "Are you ok?"
He nodded. "I will be once you get these chains off me."
The chains on his wrists were heavier and thicker, tearing at my hands as I pulled them loose. Jasper's free hands went to the latch on the collar and snapped it open. no locks or keys to deal with, it made it easier and faster to contain a Shifter.
"Echo, please, just get Willow out of here, she can't fight and I don't want her hurt." He pleaded.
I nodded. "Can do."
He smiled and moved free of the silver bonds, shifting into a dark brown wolf, tackling the nearest Hunter.
I rushed to Willow's side, picking her up and moving her out into the trees. Fighting the silver as I moved, I know she would be safe at the caves. I had to hurry.
When I finally reached safety I was greeted by Leo. "Is everyone ok?"
I nodded. "Yeah, but Willow needs some attention." I laid her down in the cave, snapping off the collar. "Take care of her, I have to get back."
"Be safe Echo!" Brooke called as I rushed out, throwing the collar away from the cave.
I became a wolf, rushing back to my pack. They needed me.
I felt a sharp bite in my left shoulder, making me stumble and roll, shifting as I did. Silver bullets. I looked up, a young Hunter stepping out of the trees, shot gun raised.
"I never would have thought."
I recognized those brown eyes, that voice. It had been three years since I heard it.