She was scared

She didn't know what was happening.

She thought she would be safe with Bianca. Instead, she was with strangers.

But she said they were like her.

Who were they?

They were travelling. She didn't know where. She sat in the back with two young people. After some uncomfortable silence, the female extended her hand.

"Hi. We haven't been introduced. Name's Jess. In the pack, I'm called Blood Claw. This is Gerome." Reluctantly, she extended her hand as well. "I'm Debbie. Bianca said you were… like me?"

She smiled "Yes. We all bear the sign of lupin." She looked at Jess blankly. "That means we're werewolves."

Debbie was silent. She didn't know what to say.

Jess gently took her hand. "You're just a cub. In time you will understand. For now, you are to be brought before the pack."

"What do you mean? Where are we going?"

"We're going to the lair little one." Said Gerome.

"First we gotta get her clothes. We can't present her to the pack looking like that."

"What's wrong with what she's wearing?"

"She's just wearing a bathrobe."

"So?"

"And nothing else!"

"I don't mind!" he smiled.

Jess sneered, rose, and started to growl. Gerome reacted likewise. She swiped at him, and he dodged. He then started to transform. As this happened, Debbie cowed in fear. Both of them noticed this, and receded back into their seats. They gave each other a final glare, indicating that this matter was over.

For now.

An hour later, it had gotten dark. By that time, they had arrived at The Wolves Lair. The vehicles entered a service area that led down to the lower levels.

As Debbie and the others got out, Cassie approached them.

"The pack will meet in an hour. Make sure you're ready."

"We need to get her some decent clothes. And it smells like she hasn't bathed in a while."

"Give me a moment." She left for a few minutes and returned. Here's a card for room 2704. I'll send someone up with some clothes.

"Good ones. No T Shirts or crap like that."

Cassie stared at her. "I'll see what I can find. Remember that Descharme will be keeping track of this…"

"Then tell him 'I' asked for this. If he thinks she's being presented before the pack looking like some mental case…"

"I will see what I can find!" said Cassie testily. "You know how he is when we go over budget…"

"Jessie?" interjected Debbie. Both looked at her. "Please. I… I don't care what she brings. It will be fine."

Jess looked at her balefully, then looked at Cassie. "I'll meet you upstairs" she said, and went off.


SOMEWHERE IN THE BARROWS

She headed down the street towards Sylene's residence.

She was pissed.

As she approached her residence, a shadowy form materialized, blocking her way. She immediately raised her amulet, which started to glow. "I demand to speak to Sylene. My mistress and head of my Circle!"

"None are permitted by order of Mistress Sylene."

Not attempting to back down or argue, she immediately raised her staff, threatening the shadow. It responded in kind, by manifesting a dark shield, countering her attack. As this was going on, from inside, Sylene sensed this disturbance. Immediately, she approached a dark mirror which, with a wave of her hand, manifested the commotion outside. She smiled. It looked like her niece wished to see her.

Outside, the shadow paused his attack, and spoke. "I have received a call from my mistress. She welcomes your presence. Proceed at your free will." It immediately bowed and dissipated. Bianca stormed angrily inside.

The double doors of Sylene's apartment blew open. She had arrived.

Bianca stood ominously in the doorway. Her cat familiar meekly peeked from behind her.

"Is something wrong?" Sylene said slyly.

Bianca took out the scroll given to her by Descharme, and threw it to the ground. "Why did you let the Lupin Rouge interfere with a council mission?"

"It was to my understanding you had trouble getting help, what with your decision to go public and all. I simply called in a favor."

"But Descharme? The girl I was helping was a young foundling! She has no idea what she is! On top of that, she's from a closed society! She's never been outside her own town!"

"She's a lupin. She'll understand what she is in time. As for Descarme and his curs, they are lupin as well. She's better with her own kind."

"They've been banned from the council! You yourself voted for their expulsion!"

"Do not forget when they offered their aid during our darkest time."

At this, she was silent. Sylene was right. She remembered all to well when Descharme offered his aid to assist the circle after Deidre's murder. Despite being outcast from the Council, their Circle had seriously considered accepting his offer. When her murderer was found however, it became unnecessary.

"I… I didn't expect them to intervene. Especially on a council assignment."

"I understand your feelings on this, although I thought you would welcome any sort of help. I imagine it was difficult doing this on your own, Unless…" she added slyly. "You WERE alone."

Bianca was silent. Did she know? She could not be certain. She knew she couldn't admit as much to Sylene, who would no doubt inform the council.

She was stuck

She gave a low bow. "Forgive my outrage. I was concerned about the fate of my charge, and the interference of the Lupin Rouge."

She placed her hand on her niece's shoulder. "You are forgiven." As she rose, Bianca gave her a hard glare. Noticing this, Sylene continued. "Keep in mind you would not be in this situation if you had not gone public. You are to blame more than you care to admit." She continued her icy stare. After a few moments, she relented, bowed, and turned to leave. Moonsox looked behind balefully at Sylene, then turned to follow his mistress.


SOMEWHERE IN THE NORTH BARROWS

A lone falcon flew towards a group of decayed buildings. He landed in the front of a dilapidated building that was a former theatre. Its entrance was flanked by a pair of burly street people. Noticing the falcon, they rose, and approached it. The falcon covered his head within his wings, and started to transform, growing in size into a human form. In a few moments, Jordan's transformation was complete.

"I have an appointment with the council."

"I will inform them." Said one of the guards as he went in. Moments later, he returned. "They will see you."

Moments later, he was in the grand chamber. "You may report." Said the council head.

"I have monitored Bianca as you requested. As you anticipated, she employed some of her friends, the 'In Crowd'.

"I see. Please continue."

"She informed them of the full extent of her assignment as expected, and they assisted her without incident, although a few members expressed concern. Everything went smoothly until they were cornered by a security team from The Academy. I'm not sure how they were able to track them, as she had taken the necessary precautions. I had planned to assist when a third party interfered."

"Yes… we know. Descarme."

At this, Jordan gave a surprised expression. "You know?"

"Yes. We are aware of this development. Please continue with Bianca's friends. How did they react?"

"Well, before the security team appeared, they seemed to be arguing about something. Things seemed to have gotten worse after Descharme's interference. However, she was able to mind wipe them before they returned to the city."

"I… see. Was there anything else?"

"No. Unfortunately the young fledgling is under Descharmes care."

After a few moments, the head continued. "You have done well Jordan. Regretfully, per your request, you will not be rewarded for your most helpful assistance."

He bowed. "I thank you. As I have stated, because of my deception towards my friend, I refuse to accept any award or commendation over this matter."

"Understood. You are dismissed."

After Jordan left, one of the council members spoke up. "This is disastrous!"

"Not necessarily. Despite Sylene's interference, this has been a learning experience."

"But to bring Descharme into this situation is unthinkable!"

"You said the same concerning young Bianca's new friends, yet you wholeheartedly approved of this experiment."

"Only because it became clear we needed their help with the current crisis! Descharme is unpredictable…"

"And yet it will affect him as well as us. For better or worse, we may need his help in the upcoming days. Rest assured, he will be placed on a probation until the situation can be explained to him properly."

"And what of Sylene? It was her meddling that caused this mess!"

"Simply because we failed to let her in on the current situation! If we explained WHY we tolerated her niece's actions…"

"She would NEVER risk her life under such a dangerous undertaking. We all know she has never fully recovered from the loss of her daughter. If she knew that her niece may face a more deadly challenge, she would never allow it!"

There was silence. Then the head spoke up. "As I have said, this was a learning experience. It was unfortunate we could not approach them as soon as they return as we intended, but it is still early, and we may soon have another chance. We simply have to be ready."

With this, all councilmembers nodded in agreement.


BAKKERSVILLE. THE HEADQUARTERS OF TRUE LIGHT

Brother David, and Brother Patrick, the head of the academy, walked down the hallway, towards the conference area. When they entered, the elders were seated. At the very center of the gathering, one chair faced away, toward the window. In the center of the conference table, a large teapot was placed. A pair of teacups were placed opposite, with two empty chairs.

The chair slowly turned around, revealing a handsome man in his mid thirties. "Please be seated" said Brother Bob.

As they sat, he continued. "Brother Patrick, please tell us what happened in your own words."

"One… one of our students has strayed from us."

"I see. And I understand she has not been retrieved?"

"We had traced her outside the facility, but we were unable to retrieve her."

"Why was this so?"

"We believe that she had help. Before her escape, the school was under lockdown. A pair of wild animals had somehow entered the facility. She must have taken advantage of the confusion, and escaped."

"You are certain of this?"

"Absolutely!"

There was silence. Brother Bob then pressed a button on the table. The room went dark. A screen lowered from behind his chair. Immediately, a projector started, presenting security footage. "Brother David was kind enough to show this to me. I find this footage… interesting." At this, Pat looked at David with fearful apprehension. David returned his stare with a condescending gaze.

The footage showed what happened in the girl's bathroom. It showed Debbie shaking uncontrollably as if possessed. Moments later, she had made her transformation. The film then switched to the loading docks, where the wolf creature escaped. With this, the film ended, and the lights were restored. Brother Bob looked at Brother Patrick with a look of sorrow. "Why did you withhold this from us?"

"I… I hoped to get the situation under control!" he sputtered.

"And now she has left us." He sighed. I had hoped that we could help her. I had promised her mother as such when she told me of her dreams. You were aware of this, and allowed her escape. But this does not disturb me. That you chose to keep this to yourself is unacceptable."

Everyone was silent. Brother Bob then poured three cups of tea, took one for himself, and gave the other two to Patrick and David. Brother Bob then sipped his tea. He then looked at the others. "Please Drink your tea."

Both men looked at their cups nervously. All the while, Brother Bob looked at them calmly. Slowly they sipped, and put their half filled cups down. After a few moments, Brother David started to shake uncontrollably. Then, he contorted wildly. With great pain, he focused forward, while screaming "PRAISE BROTHER BOB!" He then collapsed and died.

Everyone looked nervously at each other, and then at Brother Bob. He took David's cup, examined it, and took a healthy sip.

Nothing happened.

At this, everyone present looked at him with astonishment. A few moments later, he looked at Patrick.

"Praise be to the shepherd responsible for his flock." He then looked at David. "Woe to the one who tries to undermine the shepherd." After a few silent moments, he continued. "Brother Patrick, you will cooperate with Brother Fredrick and his men in finding this girl. She must be returned to the flock to be judged."

Patrick then kneeled before him, grabbed and kissed his hand. "Praise Brother Bob. I will not fail you"

"You will not fail US." Corrected Brother Bob.


LATER

Jess and some of the others led her through a maze of corridors, where other people rushed past them. Some were dressed as waiters, other as cooks, and some she couldn't quite figure. When she passed one area, she thought she saw some burly men beating up someone, but they moved so quickly, she wasn't certain. Finally, they approached a set of service elevators. As they rode up, Jess started to explain. "You gotta make a good show in front of the pack little one. That's why I was speaking up back there."

"But… what do I do? I don't know what's happening! Where are we going?"

"Descharme's calling a pack council. It has a bit to do with you. We just gotta get you ready for it." She still looked confused. "We need you to look presentable. You'll have to shower and get dressed. It looks like you need a makeover too. Don't worry. I've gone through this myself. The key is holding your own."

Debbie nodded, but still didn't understand. She continued. "I'll be with you all the way."

She still wasn't convinced.

LATER

She was showering. They had brought her into a hotel room that was in the midst of being cleaned. She had been in motel rooms before, but none like this one. Everything was HUGE! Then she saw the bathroom. She was astonished. It was almost as big as her room from home!. It had a porcelain sink, tub and toilet, with lots of soft towels and bathrobes.

There was a knock. "Make it quick. We gotta be down there in half an hour."

She got out of her trance and started to shower. The water covered her like a gentle rain. She used the shampoo and soap provided. They had a lavender scent, which was a far change from the bland flake soap they used at the academy. When she finished, she dried herself with the soft towels. She noticed that they left her a pair of undergarments along with a fresh robe. She put them on, and went into the room. Jesse was there with another girl, who stood with a lot of clothing boxes.

"This is Carol. She'll help you with your hair." We got you some clothes you can try on. We have about 20 minutes.

As she got ready for her styling, she remembered something.

She couldn't find the robe that Bianca gave her.

The one that had her card.

"Um, what happened to my robe?"

"That old rag? We threw it out."

"What?"

"Don't worry. We have new clothes for you."

With that, Carol started to do her hair. She pondered. That card was her only link to Bianca. A place where she could find her if something went wrong. Gone.

"So, what do you think?" said Carol, showing her a mirror.

Debbie saw that she had spiked up her short hair, and had given it accents. "It… it looks okay."

"Just okay?"

"Cmon cub, you need to get dressed. Lets try shirts first."

She chose a cream colored shirt with a cranberry vest. She also chose a pair of tight jeans. As she looked in the large mirror, she looked like a different person.

"It's almost time. Lets go." Said Jesse.

As they rode down the elevator, Jesse suddenly exclaimed. "Oh shit! We forgot your name!"

"My name? It's Debbie Thom…"

"No no. Your pack name! The name you need when you are introduced to the pack!"

She gave an impression that she still didn't understand.

"Mine is Blood Claw. Carol here is Moon Runner, and Descharme, he's the leader, is Death Howl."

"We gotta think of something quick."

"No, SHE has to come up with her own. You know the rules."

"But…"

At that, the doors opened. They were greeted by Cassie.

"There you are. There getting ready."

"We're not ready. She needs a name."

"Have her think of something. It's almost time."

Jess stared at her, then relented. Cassie led them through more corridors. While they were walking she pondered what she could call herself. She looked at the ones who accompanied her. They seemed to stride with a confidence she lacked. Everyone she had met so far seemed to consider her 'little'. Not as an insult, but as a matter of fact. Truth be known, she FELT little in front of everyone she met. From her mother, the church and the school, who treated her like nothing, to Bianca, Jesse and her friends who treated her as someone who needs to be protected.

The pack also referred her as 'cub'. To her it brought up baby animals. Helpless on their own, but protected by their families and those like her. She knew her mother and the church would never accept her new situation. But her new friends?

Little. Cub.

It was then that they arrived at what appeared to be a lounge. Descharme and two others were there to greet them.

"I see you're ready. We can get started." He offered her hand to her, and led her through a set of doors to a crowded amphitheater. As they entered, all conversation went silent as the head of the Lupin Rouge approached the front area. As he took his place, a pair of musicians on one side played a gentle tune. Debbie looked at all assembled. Most looked older than her, and seemed more rugged. Some appeared to look at them nonchalantly, while others seemed bored. She then noticed Jesse and her friend near the front row. She gave a meek smile, which she returned by smiling back. Descharme raised his hand, and the music ceased.

"Tonight, my children, is a turning point for the Lupin Rouge. The council of the night, who's services we have dismissed, have chosen to bring us back into the fold. And we owe it all to this young girl."

Debbie looked around. Everyone started to look at her as she suddenly became the center of attention. Descharme gently put his hand on her shoulder and continued.

"Young child, we welcome you into our clan. From this day, you are one of us. From this day, you are not alone, for we are your family." At this, someone came on stage carrying a huge goblet, It seemed to contain a sweet smelling dark red liquid. Descharme took it and took a healthy swig. He then turned to Debbie. "Child, as you enter our fold, you must choose a name. What shall you call yourself?"

In the corner of her eye, she noticed Jessie looking at her with apprehension. She pondered for a moment, then spoke in a low voice. "Little Cub."

There was a long silence. Everyone in the room seemed to give no reaction to her name. Jessie however, looked at her balefully, as if she made a stupid choice. As she looked at Descharme however, he smiled. "So be it." He then handed her the goblet. "Drink up Little Cub, and become of us."

She drank from the goblet. The liquid tasted sweet, warm and strong. Having never had alcohol, this was something new. She felt… different. She started to smile, as if encountering new feelings she never had.

"Tonight, Little Cub, we howl for you." With this, everyone rose. Descharme raised his head. As he did, his face seemed to change, and became harier. He extended his arms, and bellowed out a loud howl. Immediately, others joined in. Debbie, feeling light headed, looked at everyone. Her eyes focused on Jessie who howled as well. She then gave her hand to Debbie, who came down to her. Everyone around her patted her on the back, welcoming her in their own way. Someone had started passing drinks around. Jessie managed to get two for them. She was hesitant, but after being encouraged by her new friend, started to partake. She smiled. She could not remember when she was this happy. She finished her drink and had one more. All around her were those she knew to be her friends. She felt safe. It didn't matter that she felt light headed, and the room seemed to spin. She soon found herself in the meadow. She was on the hunt. There was plenty of game, and the dark ones were far away. She climbed a ledge overlooking a wide valley, and gave out a loud howl. She was happy. She was safe.

She was free!