“They are on the edge of our territory,” Mason said. “This way.”
“What if we cross into werewolf territory?” Hunter asked. “Will we be killed? Or has that order been rescinded.”
“I’ll ask,” Mason said as if he was totally put out. His eyes glazed over for a moment and then refocused. “That order has been rescinded,” he said. “You and your sisters can now freely roam our territory. Just not without one of us present. Let’s go.”
“Then that isn’t exactly freely,” Hunter mumbled. Mason ignored him.
The werewolves, werecats and Gunnor moved silently through the woods. The rest of us not so much. We pushed our bikes along the dirt ground. I wasn’t sure how long we traveled with the werewolves leading the way and the werecats trailing. Molly stayed close to Arthur’s side. It felt like we traveled for hours. We didn’t hear or see any signs of zombies.
“Should you feed on one of us, Gunnor?” Monica asked after we had traveled for some time. “Like we talked about? You can feed on me next.” She held out her wrist.
“Tomorrow,” he said, “I already drank from someone today.”
“Who?” Richard asked. “I hope not Darren. You said it would be best not to drink from him too often.”
“Not Darren,” he said.
“One of the werewolves?” Tanner asked.
“No way in hell,” Elsie said.
“Then who?” Tanner asked. His eyes drifted behind us to the werecats sisters. They frowned at him. Tanner’s eyes drifted back to the main group just in time to Gunnor’s eyes shift to me for a brief moment before he focused ahead.
“Lily?” Tanner grabbed my arm. He pushed back the sleeve of my coat to look at my wrist.
“It’s already healed,” I said. I pushed the sleeve back down.
“But I was supposed to be there,” Tanner said. “In case something went wrong or it hurt.”
“I didn’t want you to see,” I said.
“Did it hurt?” Monica asked.
“Yeah,” I said, “but it wasn’t too bad. It just felt like going to the doctors and getting a shot.”
“I hate shots,” Tanner said. Grace slipped her gloved hand in his and gave a gentle squeeze.
“That part really wasn’t that bad,” I said. “The worst part was when he licked it to heal it.”
“None of that hurt for me,” Darren said. “It was actually kinda pleasant.”
“That’s because you were charmed,” Hunter said with a frown on his face.
“We’re getting closer,” Mason said. “Maybe everyone should stop talking now.”
“I don’t know that it matters,” Alex said nonchalantly. “They’ll hear us coming anyway.”
The rest of us went quiet. Our bikes made noise as we pushed them along. Our feet made noise as we stepped on the dirt and underbrush.
Alex was correct. They heard us.
“Someone’s coming,” a male voice said from up ahead. “Get ready.”
“Come on out,” another male voice said.
“Well, let’s go out then,” Mason said, “but stay behind us. They have guns.” He said all of this loud enough that the group of men would be able to hear.
“We have guns too,” Monica also said loud enough for the men to hear.
“It can’t be,” Grant’s voice drifted to us quieter than the other voices. We left the bikes where they were and took out our weapons. Gunnor, the werewolves and the werecats were weaponless. The six of them stood in a line in front of us as we revealed ourselves.
“Monica,” Grant smiled when he saw her almost as if he was relieved. “It is you,” he said.
“Don’t get excited,” she said behind Elsie. “Just looking at you makes me sick.”
Molly growled low at the men.
Grant’s smile faded. “What are you doing with Mason and these strangers? What happened to the rest of our group? Oh. I see you met up with Tanner and Grace. Hi.” He waved awkwardly to my brother. Tanner tightened his grip on his bat. Grant noted the movement and swallowed hard.
“Good,” one of the men said. “Mason was one of the ones you told me about right? Their families live nearby. This just makes our job easier. Tell us where you live.”
One of the men couldn’t stop staring at Gunnor. He subconsciously took a step back.
Mason smirked. “Sure thing, but you’ll be dead before you ever get close.”
The man who spoke to Mason shook his head. “In case you didn’t notice, we’re the ones with the guns here. I don’t see any weapons on you.” He waved a hand to indicate Mason and those in the front line.
Mason’s smirk and confidence never left him. The man who kept staring at Gunnor took another step back. “That one’s eyes are weird,” he said.
“Just because you don’t see weapons doesn’t mean we don’t have them,” Mason said. He began to spasm and contort. Alex and Elsie did the same. Their limbs formed into something else as they went to all fours. Their faces contorted into muzzles and tan fur sprouted from Mason’s and Elsie’s skin. Alex’s fur was a dark gray with a lighter gray on his belly and muzzle. As the fur covered their skin, their clothes disappeared.
“What is happening?” One of the men asked. They looked to Grant for answers, but he was as shocked as they were.
“His eyes are weird,” the man who watched Gunnor practically shouted. Gunnor smiled showing his elongated canines. The man raised his gun at Gunnor. Gunnor moved in a blur. In a breath, the man’s arm that held the gun was severed from his torso. The man screamed. The other men raised their guns at Gunnor, but paused as Gunnor smiled with his elongated canines about to pierce the man’s neck.
The werewolves growled low, bared their teeth. Gunnor sunk his teeth into the man’s neck. The man screamed louder clearly in pain. Gunnor did not bite gently nor pull his teeth out gently, but instead tore out half the man’s neck. The man was silent and clearly dead as Gunnor let him fall to the ground. Blood covered the lower half of Gunnor’s face. His red eyes glowed with a frenzy. His fingernails were extended sharper than little knives.
Grant fell to his butt in an effort to scramble away. Several gunshots went off as they fired at Gunnor. Gunnor just smiled as the bullets pierced his skin, but were then pushed back out with his vampire magic. His wounds were already healing.
“Shit,” one of the men said. Then he pointed and shot at the werewolf Elsie. Elsie didn’t avoid the bullet. I didn’t know if that was to prove she could take it or to protect Monica who was standing behind her. The bullet didn’t faze Elsie as she leaped impossibly high in the air among the trees. The men stared at her and didn’t see Mason and Alex as they streaked the short distance. They moved so quickly that the men wouldn’t have had time to react anyway.
Mason tackled one to the ground. Blood spurted from the man’s chest as Mason dug in his long claws. Blood bubbled at the man’s lips. He was dead in a blink.
Alex bit one of the men’s thighs and shook him so violently his neck snapped. Alex tossed him into a tree. He was already dead so he didn’t feel it when his back broke against the trunk of the tree.
The men now knew Alex and Mason were among them, but before they could react to that new threat, Elsie landed on top of one of them. She bit into his skull. There was a loud crunch as his head caved in. Blood and brain matter spilled out.
Grant scrambled to his feet and tried to run away. The rest of the men followed, but before any of them got very far, all three werewolves were blocking their way.
Elsie transformed back into her human form. She wiped away the blood on her mouth. “There are worse things out there than zombies,” she said. “If you ignore this encounter and try to attack our families, just remember you’ll be facing a hundred werewolves.”
She stepped aside and the men ran past her Grant leading the way. “And remember, vampires live only to rip your throats out and feast on the blood. Sweet dreams,” Elsie called out sweetly to their retreating backs.
Gunnor’s eyes still held that intense frenzied glow as he looked at the blood that covered the bodies and forest floor. Mason and Alex transformed back to their human forms and came to stand beside us. “That,” Mason said indicating Gunnor, “is why I would never leave my sister in the hands of a vampire.”
Gunnor didn’t even seem to register his words. The blood was his sole focus. Then he blinked, his eyes cleared, his canines and fingernails went back to their normal length. He shrugged and left the bodies where they were as he came back to our group.
“And you,” Mason said to the werecats, “were of no help at all.”
“You had it handled,” Zoe said. “I thought it best we not lay out all our cards at once.”
“Those men aren’t going to be back for us to lay out more cards,” Mason said. He looked at the blood on his hands and clothes. “Let’s get out of here,” he said.
The werewolves led the way. Gunnor and the werecats quickly followed. The rest of us stayed where we were.
“What?” Mason asked when he realized we weren’t following.
“I didn’t realize you could kill humans so easily,” Tanner said.
Mason shrugged. “They were the bad guys, right? They threatened your family and mine.”
“I guess,” Hunter said.
“Let me guess, you’ve never had to kill a human before,” Mason said.
“No,” Hunter said. “Only zombies.”
“You’d better get used to the idea,” Mason said. “I’m sure they are not going to be the only ones who will be a threat. You’ll do anything to protect your family right?” This wasn’t directed only at Hunter. It was directed at all of us. When Mason’s eyes met mine, chills went down my spine. I found myself nodding before I realized it. I would do anything to protect Tanner and Mackenzie even if it meant killing men like the group Grant now associated himself with. I wasn’t the only one who nodded. We all did. Even Arthur.
“Then let’s go kill some venefici,” Mason said. This time we followed him.