Chapter 2-New Moon part 2
Daniel groaned as his senses came back to him. He raised a hand to his head, which felt like it was a pounding drum.
'Damn, what the hell happened?' He thought. The last thing he remembered was…that large wolf, and the pain. Then darkness soon after.
'That voice, was it Veronica?' Daniel winced and held a hand to his head. He hoped that she didn't run into that thing. Since when did wolves grow that large?
Massaging his head, he realized that he was sitting in the middle of a forest. Tall trees loomed over him, and the area was covered in mist, making it hard to see very far. He quickly stood up and brushed his pants off, only to find himself completely clean. His bite wound wasn't even there!
"What's going on?" Daniel muttered. "Is this…a dream?"
It was dead silent, not a sound to be heard save for his heavy breathing. The silence unnerved him more than any sound he could hear in this place.
"Where am I?" He asked, looking around for a way out. He closed his eyes, thinking that if this was a dream, then he should be able to wake up. Scrunching his eyes, he then opened them.
Still in the forest.
Sighing, he tried to figure out what to do now. He couldn't be in this lace forever. Sooner or later, he had to wake up.
Then he jumped at the loud growl behind him. Daniel spun around and saw nothing at first, but then he spotted the faint outline of a wolf in the mist, just a few feet away from him. Daniel felt his heart stop, but strangely, he didn't feel afraid. He could barely see the wolf through the fog, but he knew it was standing there watching him. What did it want?
"Um…hello?" Daniel called out to the wolf. He felt a bit silly trying to talk to a wolf, but he wasn't going to stand there playing the staring game with the beast.
He took a step forward, but the wolf retreated into the fog. He took another step and the wolf backed away again. Daniel narrowed his eyes and ran forward, which caused the wolf to sprint away. Before Daniel knew it, he was chasing after the mysterious wolf, chasing after something that he couldn't bear to be parted from.
"Wait!" He yelled. "Don't run. I won't hurt you!"
The wolf was faster than him, and Daniel had already lost sight of it, but he still ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He needed to find that wolf. He needed to…
Then his vision went dark.
Snapping his eyes open, Daniel gasped hard for air. His heart raced and his forehead was covered in sweat as his mind stilled on the last image he 'saw'. That wolf, why was he trying so hard to catch it? Panting heavily, he slowly began to calm down.
Once he settled down, he realized where he was. The white walls and medical equipment let him know he was in a hospital room. With a grunt, Daniel sat up, wincing at his sore muscles. He looked down at his shoulder and saw that it was heavily bandaged. He winced as he tried to move it, it felt sore and stiff.
Just then, the door opened and a young nurse walked in to do her checkup. Looking in his direction, she stopped in her tracks when her eyes connected with him. Daniel stared right back at her, not saying a word. Then he cautiously raised a hand to wave at her.
Gasping, the nurse dropped her clipboard and ran out of the room, making Daniel sweatdrop.
'Was it something I said?' He thought.
Several minutes later, the nurse returned with a few doctors and Daniel spent the next half hour being examined by them. It was annoying being ignored as they flashed lights in his eyes and poking him, but luckily they were finished and left as fast as they arrived.
"What the hell was that about?" Daniel muttered.
Later on, the door swung open and Daniel was happy to see not just his Aunt Cassie, but also Heather and Sahira flood into the room. All three ladies were both happy and relieved at seeing him awake and well again, almost to the point of tears.
"Hey, guys." Daniel said, smiling at them. He grunted when Cassie and Heather tackled him in a tight hug, and wrapped the two in a hug while Sahira reached over and ruffled his hair. She'll hug him later.
Once Cassie and heather got a hold of themselves, they sat in chairs beside his bed, with his aunt sitting right next to him, running her fingers through his hair, as if making sure he wouldn't disappear.
Cassie Blake was Daniel's paternal aunt, meaning that her brother was his father. She looked surprisingly young for her age, which was 35, with short black hair and dark brown eyes. Her features were mature, with only a wrinkle here and there, with laugh lines around her eyes. Cassie had raised Daniel like a mother, and he would forever love her for that.
"So what happened" Daniel asked. "How long was I out?"
"About six days." Heather said softly. "You were hovering in and out of consciousness. Veronica brought you back to camp, and you were covered in blood. The teachers called the nearest hospital and they operated on you. They said you were lucky to have survived that attack, since wolves usually go for the kill with a bite to the jugular."
Daniel looked down at his sheets, remembering how the wolf attacked him. he was surprised at well that he survived that, considering that all the wolf did was bite his shoulder and throw him away. That was a bit odd. Looking to his left, he blinked when he saw a large assortment of gifts gathered at the front of the room.
"Your friends from school sent you gifts to wish you well." Cassie said, knowing his question.
There were Get Well cards, balloons, even a giant teddy bear and even a gift basket from Terrance. Sahira grinned at Daniel's surprise.
"The teddy was from me." She said.
"You had me worried sick, Daniel." Cassie said. "I rushed here as soon as I got the call about you. Your temperature was rising and falling, and your heart rate would randomly spike…it was a miracle you didn't get an infection from that bite alone."
Daniel frowned at her tired face and took her hand to comfort her. He knew that she still took his father's death hard, and he knew that she couldn't handle losing him too. "Sorry."
"Don't apologize. You're okay now, and that's what matters." Cassie smiled.
The rest of the afternoon went by pretty quickly. When visiting hours were over, Daniel said his goodbyes to his aunt and friends as the doctors came by to do a checkup. He was healing nicely, and showed no side effects from the medication given to him.
His doctor explained that a few days of rest will do him fine, but his bandages stay on for at least another two weeks. Thankfully, it wouldn't be long before Daniel was allowed to go back home.
When night fell, Daniel laid in his bed staring at the ceiling. His thoughts were still occupied by that dream, and the wolf that eluded him. Why did it feel so familiar?
'Another question for another day.' Daniel thought with a sigh. He closed his eyes and put his arm over them to lessen the headache he was having. Right now, it was time for sleep.
The Counter-Shapeshifter Agency, also known as the CSA, was a government paramilitary force dedicated to handling crimes and incidents pertaining to lycanthropes in the country. They were seen as Amaya's primary anti-lycanthrope force, with its members trained to fight lycanthropes using all of their abilities at their disposal, not just silver.
The field agents of the CSA were called hunters, for obvious reasons. They were the vanguard of the country's efforts to limit lycanthrope crimes and attacks. Training as a hunter was intense work, and not everyone was suited for the job. Lycanthropes were incredibly varied and so were their abilities, if you were training to fight them, you had to be flexible yet strong.
Despite this, there was a high mortality rate amongst hunters, especially field agents. Those who survived and learned from their experiences grew to be powerful fighters and smarter warriors. Some reached a whole new level of power in their long careers.
Tybalt Lancaster was one such hunter. He was descended from a long line of hunters, trained from childhood to fight and kill, much like his father, and his grandmother, and so on. His family had trained for countless generations to combat the beasts that think they could terrorize them in their own homes without consequence. Hunters like the Lancasters were a special breed born in a time when humanity had enough of being beat down and fought back against the monsters.
It was why he was put on the case of the growing werewolf attacks in Central Osea. The problem was getting out of hand, and the higher ups in the CSA realized that whoever was behind this was a pro and shouldn't be taken lightly. Lycanthropes who were essentially professional killers were the kind of criminals Tybalt was sent to handle.
Tranquility was relatively untouched, but the string of attacks were steadily getting closer to the town. As Tranquility had no CSA branch of their own, the local police department requested some hunters from the Agency based in Rickshaw City. The agency had only sent out a couple of dozen hunters they could spare, but most of them were experienced agents, along with Tybalt's veteran status. But Tybalt was no fool to think that finding this lycan would be easy.
"Jenson." Tybalt greeted his partner as soon as he walked in through the door.
Almost everyone in the police station turned to him, which was becoming a common thing with him. Tybalt had an imposing presence that was more than just his long career of being a field commander in the CSA. He was a tall man, and his black suit hid his muscular body that he honed from years of training and fighting powerful lycanthropes. His blond-white hair was short and well-kept, and his eyes were a deep green that could make the healthiest tree go red with envy. The wrinkles on his face and hands showed his age, but it did little to hinder his overall abilities.
"Mr. Tybalt, good morning!" Agent Timothy Jensen greeted his partner. He was a hunter of average ability, but his intelligence on lycanthrope sociology and biology was very acute. Jensen was also a competent man, and Tybalt liked to have competent people on his team. "How are the kids?"
"They're doing well. Jason and Jane are settling in well enough, despite the long ride here." Tybalt said, making no mention of his third child. "Do we have everything set up?"
"Yes, everyone's moving in smoothly. The police department's been a lot of help too." Jensen replied brightly. Way too bright this early in the morning.
The hunter team was being assisted by local authorities in keeping the peace between humans and lycans in the area, but the team's primary objective was finding the cause behind these attacks and kill the lycanthrope leading the case. As long as the police stay out of their business, then this partnership will go smoothly.
Once he was seated at his desk, Tybalt got down to business. "I hear there was an animal attack at Wolfcreek Park."
"Yes, one of the students from Sherman High, Daniel Blake, age 16, was attacked by a large wolf in the middle of the night while he was with one of his friends." Jensen reported, handing the report to Tybalt.
"How large was the wolf?"
"Big enough to match a horse in height. It ravaged his shoulder before running off, and he was rescued by his friend and brought back to camp." Jensen saw the look in Tybalt's eyes and added, "The doctors already ran a blood test and he tested negative for lycanthropy. His wounds are healing at a normal rate too."
"That so," Tybalt said. "But that wolf is definitely a werewolf."
"Lycanthropes are larger than regular animals in their animal form. But normal werewolves aren't as big as the one the boy described." Tybalt explained.
"If that's a werewolf, then shouldn't he have contracted lycanthropy?" Jensen asked.
"That's the thing about lycanthropy, it's fickle. Wolf lycanthropy is incredibly infectious, but there are cases of people not getting it even after an attack. Others could contract it from a single scratch. Trying to apply logic to a supernatural virus is futile, and I'd advise against trying to understand it."
"I'll remember that." Jensen nodded, and continued his report. "The wolf hasn't been sighted since the attack, even though the rangers are searching every corner of the park. The wolf probably took human form and vanished."
"If they can change shape without passing out for a few hours, then the culprit was possibly a powerful werewolf, maybe even a pureblood." Tybalt said.
"This doesn't match up with the other attacks, though. The boy was only wounded in is shoulder, while the other victims were practically mauled before they vanished." Jensen said.
"This may have been done by a different individual. Either way, we won't know until we learn more about the incidents in this area." Tybalt rubbed his stubble in thought. "We'll keep an eye on the boy for about a week, see if anyone makes contact with him. If nothing changes, then he's safe."
Tybalt looked at the case file with a hard frown. He was taking this case seriously. As a professional hunter with his reputation, many people thought that having him on the team would be enough to handle any lycanthrope, but that was pure arrogance and stupidity at its finest. To underestimate lycanthropes would be to invite disaster. They were not mindless beasts that could be tricked and beaten, they were intelligent beings who could think and feel, and share a bond with one another that humans could only hope to achieve.
The werewolf behind the attacks and kidnappings was amassing an army for something, and the lack of information was troubling. Something had to be done, or the situation will spiral out of control and turn into something chaotic.
About a week after he woke up in the hospital, Daniel was finally given a clean bill of health. On the day of his release, his doctor, Patricia Mikaela, did one final examination of him. He sat on the bed with his shirt off, with Mikaela running some tests on his bandaged arm. Cassie, Heather and Sahira stood on the side watching him with mixed expressions.
"How are you still able to use that arm?" Sahira groaned. "I've never seen a bite wound look so…bad."
"Guess I got lucky." Daniel grinned. He got a good look at where the wolf had bitten him, and he wished he didn't see it. The wounds where the wolf's teeth sank into his flesh were still red and tender, though they were slowly starting to heal over. Didn't make it any easier to look at, though.
"The wolf's fangs didn't bite deep enough to cause any tissue damage, but your arm will be a little stiff." Dr. Mikaela said. "I'm sorry, but I doubt your arm will be fully useable again."
Daniel rolled his shoulder and winced. "Considering the alternative was having my throat torn out, I think I'd take a weak arm. At least I can still write."
"Daniel, please don't joke about it." Heather said. "You almost died."
"I know." He nodded. "And I'm sorry."
Sahira reached over and pulled at his cheek. "You're supposed to apologize for being attacked by a wild animal, dummy."
"I'm apologizing for being a bit of an uncooperative jerk back at camp. You two were just trying to get me to have some fun, and I realize that." Daniel smiled. "Really, thanks for trying."
Heather blushed and looked away. "It was nothing, Daniel."
"Why don't you two head down to the lobby. Daniel and I just need to talk with the doctor about a few things before we leave." Cassie suggested.
"Okay." Heather nodded and left the room with Sahira.
Once the girls were gone, Cassie and Daniel's expressions turned serious as they turned to the doctor. "So what's the results?"
"He's clean." Dr. Mikaela said, surprising aunt and nephew. "Your son is clean of lycanthropy."
"A-Are you sure?" Cassie was speechless.
"Ran the test three times. All three blood samples were clean."
"But…but wasn't that animal a werewolf?" Daniel breathed. "I should've been infected by now!"
"Not necessarily. Remember, there are cases of people being ravaged by werewolves and coming out without contracting lycanthropy." She said. "It's incredibly rare, but sometimes a person can get off scott free after an encounter with a lycanthrope and remain human. For easily infectious strains like wolf and rat lycanthropy, it's even rarer. You were lucky."
Daniel sagged in relief. He had been informed by one of the rangers that rescued him that the large wolf that attacked him was probably a werewolf in animal form, due to its abnormal size and unusual actions. Daniel had nothing against lycanthropes, but if it got out that he was infected, his social life from now until his dying day was gone. Osea was one of the leading countries that recognized lycanthropes as citizens, but that didn't stop the discrimination against anyone even suspected of having lycanthropy. People have lost their jobs and had their careers ruined over something most of them had no power over, and that didn't even factor in the hate groups.
Cassie was of the same mind, but it was more along the lines of not wanting her nephew being dragged into the werewolf attacks going on. She promised herself to take care of her brother's body, and she was going to do just that.
"Well crisis averted, yes?" Dr. Mikaela smiled. "Remember to keep those bandages on until I tell you to. We wouldn't want that arm infected, would we?"
Daniel laughed and shook his head. "No, we don't. Thanks a bunch, doc. You've been a great help."
Dr. Mikaela smiled. "Just doing my job, Daniel."
Later that day, Cassie drove the children back home. The three friends spent the ride home talking and laughing about mundane things. It felt good to talk something else other than the attack, though Daniel's mind was occupied by other things the girls didn't know about.
They finally made it to the Blake residence, which was just a modest house that Cassie had managed to snag with the help of her brother. Two floors, two bed rooms and a guest room, with a pretty spacey living room and kitchen. There was nothing special about the house, other than the fact that it was bought by Daniel's father and aunt together when she was just starting out as a doctor in Tranquility.
"Home sweet home." Daniel breathed, smiling up at his house.
"I'll have lunch ready in a few minutes." Cassie said. "I know everyone's hungry by now."
"Thanks Ms. Blake. Heather couldn't eat at all this morning because she was so nervous, so it's about time she ate something." Sahira said.
"Sahira, please, don't tell her that!" Heather growled.
Daniel sighed and touched his shoulder, which was already starting to feel sore again, and walked towards his house. Unfortunately, someone else was already walking in his path and he bumped into them.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" Daniel said, reaching out to keep the person steady. "I didn't see you there…"
Daniel trailed off when he saw that the person he bumped into was a girl. She looked no older than fourteen, and had long blond hair tied into pigtails. She wore a stylish black dress that brought out her fair skin, and large red eyes that stared at him in mirth.
"That's okay, I shouldn't have been walking in front of you." The girl said politely. Daniel quickly let go of her arms with a blush.
"Um, are you new in the neighborhood? I don't think I've seen you around here." Daniel said.
"I live on the other side of town. Tranquility's nowhere near as big as a city, but it's still pretty big." The girl smiled sweetly at him. "I better get going. I actually have a meeting I have to get to and I don't want to be late."
"Don't let me keep you." Daniel said.
The girl watched him jog over to his house and send her one last wave before going inside. She smiled and strolled down the street, humming a tune to herself.
'Looks like Tranquility has a new wolf pup amongst its herd.' She thought. 'I better have Morgan watch over him just to be safe. What luck that we would run into each other like this?'
Cassie had Daniel stay home for a couple more days before allowing him to go back to school. Staying at home wasn't too bad, but not being able to hang out with his friends was hard. It was almost a relief that he got to head back to school again…almost.
As expected, Daniel learned that news of his attack had spread like wildfire throughout the whole school and as he walked through the halls for the first time since his recovery, he noticed everyone give him weird or concerned looks.
"Hey, you hear what happened to Daniel?"
"Yeah, I heard he was attacked by this huge ass wolf on the camping trip. It was pretty bad."
"I heard he almost died."
"You think he's gonna turn into a werewolf now?"
"I'm surprised he can still use that arm. I heard the wolf nearly tore it off."
The gossip in high school could give the political whispers of medieval courtiers a run for their money. Daniel sighed and reached his locker, where he lightly banged his head against it. Not even first period and he was already tired. That must be a new record.
He felt a nudge at his side and looked up to see Heather and Sahira smiling at him. "Glad to see you back in the open world, Daniel." Heather said.
"Yeah, we were getting worried." Sahira said.
"Yeah, well, other than a slight headache, I'm totally fine." He said, grinning at them. Heather however frowned when she heard about the headache.
"Headache? I thought you were better enough to walk around." She said concerned. "Are you sure you're—"
"Heather, I'm fine." Daniel said, though she didn't look convinced. He smiled and threw an arm around her shoulders. "Seriously, I'm fine. I'm obviously not going to be a hundred percent even after getting out of the hospital. I wouldn't joke about this."
"He's right. He's going to need more than a week or two to get back into fighting shape." Sahira said and looked at Daniel critically. "Speaking of which, how's the arm? Is it still giving you problems?"
"Actually, no." He said. "It's still aching and feels a bit sore if I strain it too much, but it doesn't feel as bad as when I woke up at the hospital. I don't think that will be as bad as I thought it would."
While not totally reassured, Heather nodded, knowing that Daniel wouldn't push himself too hard and worry those close to him. Smiling, Sahira moved to Daniel's other side and wrapped his arm around her too. The three shared a laugh and moved out to head to class.
Suddenly, Daniel felt a strange sensation. It felt like a buzz at the back of his head, and reverberated throughout his entire body. Eyes widening, his body seemed to react before his brain did, and pulled Heather and Sahira down a bit with him, making them yelp in surprise. Two seconds later a football sailed over their heads and hit a teacher in the back of the head.
"AH!" The teacher shouted in surprise. Daniel stood up with the girls, who looked at him in confusion. They turned round and saw Roland with his arm outstretched, looking just as surprised as them.
"Mr. Zellinski!" The teacher roared, marching towards the terrified footballer. While Roland was being grilled on the spot, Heather and Sahira looked at Daniel.
"Nice moves." Sahira commented. Daniel just blinked at her, still surprised and confused at what just happened.
"Yeah, that was pretty fast. How'd you do that?" Heather asked.
"I…" Daniel looked at her, eyes wide. "I don't know."
Things only got stranger during English class.
Being interested in reading and writing in general, Daniel didn't mind English all that much. Sure it got boring in some parts, but he was probably one of the few students who wasn't immediately put to sleep once it got started. But for some reason, Daniel was having a hard time focusing.
Leaning his head on his hand, Daniel was suffering in silence as he massaged his aching head. It felt like an earthquake was rumbling in his skull. And was it just him, or was the teacher talking very loud, even though he was in the back of the classroom? From where he was sitting, it was like the teacher was talking right next to him. And it wasn't just that.
Brow twitching, Daniel looked at the clock on the wall.
It was like listening to a mega speaker!
Then he heard a deafening buzzing in his right ear and spotted a fly buzzing around on the other side of the class. Though in his state, you'd think it was hovering right over his ear. Blinking at the tiny insect, it started to look like it was slowing down right before his eyes. His vision was also very strange, as his eyesight suddenly magnified as he focused on the fly. He was even able to track the slow pattern of its flapping wings, the twitch of its legs, and the slow, echoing buzz.
Grunting, he grabbed his head as he was assaulted by another wave of pain. His ears started ringing, and every little sound felt magnified in his ear drums. The ticking of the clock, the teacher's voice, the tapping of a girl's pencil against her desk, and the screeching of the chalk against the board…it was all so loud!
Gritting his teeth, Daniel struggled to block it all out, but it was easier said than done.
Eyes shooting open, the boy shot his head up. At that moment, all the noise and extrasensory overload just disappeared. He looked around and saw the whole class looking at him. Daniel spotted Heather looking at him with concern, as well as Ashely struggling to hold back her laughter.
"Mr. Blake, while you are doing very well in my class, it does not give you the right to daydream." The teacher scolded. Daniel groaned and rubbed the back of his head.
"Sorry, Ms. Masters. Um…can I got to the bathroom for a bit? My head's a bit woozy." He asked.
"You may go, but if you're not feeling well, please go to the nurse's office." She told him. She knew that he wasn't a hundred percent yet and had been keeping an eye on him to see if he was feeling well.
Daniel thanked her and stood up, shooting Heather a smile before leaving.
Once he was out of class and walking down the empty hallway, Daniel massaged his temple. He then let out a gasp as a jolt of fiery pain ripped through his skull. Gritting his teeth, he caught himself from falling by leaning against the lockers. Reaching up to feel his forehead, he felt his skin slick with sweat, and he felt warm to the touch.
'Damn it, am I getting a fever?' Daniel thought, closing his eyes to block out the pain.
"Hey, are you alright?"
Daniel jumped and nearly fell over, but someone gripped his arm and helped him upright. He looked up and saw a handsome boy with short blond hair and emerald green eyes standing there, a look of concern on his face.
"Huh?" Daniel said dumbly.
"Are you okay?" The boy asked again. "You're looking a bit…no, really pale."
"I'm…fine. My headache just got worse and I got dizzy." Daniel took a deep breath, relieved at feeling the throbbing in his head lessen. "Sorry if I worried…wait, who are you?"
The boy grinned at Daniel's confusion. "The name's Jason, Jason Lancaster. I just moved here with my dad. My sister and brother also go here too. You would've ran into me a week ago had you been here."
"Oh, welcome to Tranquility, Jason. Sorry you had to see me like this. Daniel said. "I'm not usually this…bad."
"No need to apologize." Jason said, slowly letting Daniel go but ready to catch him if he fell again. "Do you need help getting to the nurse's office? I'm on free period and—"
"I think I can handle it from here, Jason." Both boys turned to see Veronica standing behind them and they jumped in unison. They didn't hear any footsteps coming behind them!
"Veronica!" Daniel exclaimed. "You're…okay!"
"Of course I'm okay, silly. You're the one who's been bedridden for more than a week." Veronica giggled. She took his hand and pulled him along. "Daniel here just needs some fresh air, Jason. He'll be fine in a few minutes."
Jason, feeling a bit out of his element, looked to Daniel, who said, "Actually, Veronica, I really do think I should head to the nurse for this. Besides, we can't just leave the school and do whatever."
Veronica gaped at him, but Daniel turned to Jason and smiled at him. "Hey, if I'm free we should hang out sometime. My friends and I know a few places in town you might like."
"That sounds great." Jason smiled. "Now get going before you pass out. I'm sure you've worried enough people already."
"You have no idea." Daniel said and walked away. "If I'm feeling better, I'll see you later, Veronica!"
As Daniel disappeared around the corner, Jason turned to look at Veronica, only to see that she was gone. And without a sound again!
"How did she…?" Jason muttered.
Heather dragged Daniel's backpack in her hand. It was heavy with books, some for school, but most were those chunky fantasy books that were hell to shove into a bag. She and Sahira had just left the nurse's office, where Daniel had been resting at for the rest of the day. He had already left once school was out, and now they were trying to find him at his usual places.
"He really must not be feeling well if he's running from us like this." Sahira said.
"What makes you say that?" Heather asked.
"He wouldn't be running around in his condition unless he was hiding something." Sahira crossed her arms. She tried to hide her worry, but even she was starting to lose her composure. "Danny's really starting to worry me here, Heather."
"Same here." She replied, checking her phone. Heather was just about to call Daniel when her phone rang, almost making her drop it.
Sahira's hand shot out and caught the phone before flipping it open and answering it. "Yeah…wait, Danny?!"
"Daniel? What's he doing?" Heather shouted, but Sahira clamped a hand over her mouth.
She talked softly into the phone for a little bit before hanging up and tossing the phone back to Heather, who fumbled with it a bit before catching it. "Daniel said to meet up at our usual hideout."
"At the old factory? What's he doing there?" Heather asked.
"No idea, but he sounded a bit shaken up." Sahira said seriously. "Come on, let's go."
The girls ran out of the schoolyard, running past Morgan, who tracked their movements intently before discreetly following after them.
The factory district near the edge of Tranquility, locate just across the river from the downtown area, was full of uninhabited and abandoned buildings that were once used for the production of vehicles and machines. Some of them were still standing, mainly because of their historical value, and the factory building closest to the river was where Daniel, Heather and Sahira had made into their own little base.
It wasn't anything grand or special, just a place where the three friends could hang out in peace, away from the rest of the bustling town. A place where they could be private in public. And private was definitely what they needed right now.
Heather and Sahira pushed the heavy metal doors of their hideout open and ran inside. They found Daniel sitting by the window, sitting by the window on an old couch they hauled there from a junkyard. He looked spooked and deathly pale, which didn't make the girls feel any better.
"Daniel?" Heather called out.
He jumped and looked up. "Heather, Sahira?"
"Yeah, it's us." Sahira said, looking at him weirdly. "Danny, what's going on? You looked terrible at school earlier and we didn't find you at the nurse's office either."
"Is it your arm?" Heather said, running over to Daniel. Up close she could see the sweat on his forehead. "God, Daniel, you look sick."
"I'm sick all right, but not in the way you think." Daniel muttered and looked away. "At the nurse's office and was on my phone looking up what I might have. Something told me that these…episodes I was having weren't normal."
"What symptoms?" Sahira asked.
"Headaches, sensitive hearing, high body temperature, blurry vision…in English class every sound I heard was magnified to the tenth degree, and my eyesight was zooming in on every little thing I could see. I nearly passed out in the hallway from sensory overload."
"Sensory overload?" Heather was sitting next to Daniel on the torn couch, with Sahira sitting on the other side. "Daniel, how's that possi…" She trailed off when she slowly began to make the connection.
"What is it?" Sahira asked. "What am I missing?"
"Sahira, all those symptoms are common reactions of the body when it's been infected by lycanthropy. Sensory overload is a sign of the body's physical state changing." Heather explained. She looked at Daniel's worried face. "Daniel, don't tell me you actually have…lycanthropy."
Daniel was too nervous to really say anything, so he just nodded.
"You were infected? How? I thought your doctor said you were clean after three blood tests!" Sahira yelled.
"I…I don't know. I was fine before and after I left the hospital. My wound was healing at a normal rate and…" Daniel froze and reached into his shirt to tear at his bandages, startling both girls.
"Daniel, what are you doing? Stop it!" Heather cried out.
Daniel ignored her, throwing off his shirt and tearing away his bandages. He was expecting to see the tender, ugly pink flesh of his bite wound that was still healing and was probably even bleeding a bit. What he got instead was a small lining of pink flesh but no bite marks. His wounds had been completely healed over, and even the soreness was fading away.
No one said anything for several minutes as they processed the implications of this discovery. Daniel had contracted lycanthropy and was probably already on his way to being converted into a werewolf. Any sense of calm Daniel had starting that day had completely gone out the window, and ow he was trying to figure out what to do.
"Daniel," Heather began. "It's…it's not the end of the world. You can make it through this."
"How? There aren't any werewolf packs for miles of Tranquility, and I don't fancy hunting down the bastard that bit me to be accepted into his, or her, growing army of kidnapped wolves." Daniel said. "And what if this gets out? What if Aunt Cassie loses her job because of me?"
"Danny, calm down." Sahira ordered him. "Don't lose your cool over this."
"How can I not lose my cool? I'm going to turn into a giant bloodthirsty wolf at the next full moon!" He shouted.
Heather raised a hand and slapped him hard across the cheek. Not expecting it, Daniel nearly fell off the couch, his face a look of shock. Sahira also was surprised by Heather's uncharacteristic action. She beat her to it!
"You are not going to turn into a monster." Heather growled, her voice shaky. "You're going to be fine, we can get through this together. But panicking isn't helping anyone get anything done."
Daniel stared at her with wide eyes for a minute before he calmed down. He looked away from her and slowly stood up. "I'm going to head home. I need some time to think."
He avoided their gazes as he picked up his bag and walked away. Heather tried to stop him, but Sahira held her back and shook her head.
"Let him have some time to process this." She said. "Maybe he'll feel better tomorrow."
Heather sighed sadly and looked at Daniel's retreating form. She didn't want him to go through this alone, and even though she too wanted to give him some space, with everything that's been going on in the news, she was afraid for him now more than ever.
Daniel walked down the empty streets leading out of the factory district towards the bridge that connected the two halves of the town together. He didn't want to be around people right now, especially with his senses going haywire at random like that.
He knew he shouldn't have exploded at his friends like that, but he was running on an emotional high right now. Osea was one of the leading countries in giving lycanthropes rights, but that didn't stop the social stigma it brought. There were plenty of cases of working class men and women suddenly getting laid off once it got out that they had lycanthropy. Soldiers infected by a wereanimal on the job were similarly giving medical discharge as if they were crippled in the line of duty.
As for teenage lycanthropes, well…the treatment was only slightly harsher. Thanks to Heather, he saw plenty of news reports of teen lycans going berserk in their own schools out of revenge for how they were treated by their fellow students and even the teachers. Daniel was lucky that Heather and Sahira went like that, but he honestly didn't know what to do when it got close to the full moon.
Even now, with his emotions running all over the place, he felt his anger rising. Anger at that damn wolf for biting him, anger at how unfair this whole situation was, anger at how few options he had. It was all so stupid!
"This is such bullshit!" Daniel yelled and swung his fist at a nearby wall. His punch was hard enough to make the bones in his arm rattle, but it wasn't as jarring as seeing the wall actually crack from the force of his blow. And the thin scratches on his knuckles actually healed over in a second. "Whoa."
"Whoa is right."
Daniel spun around to see who spoke. Standing just a few feet away from him was a teenager. He looked like a stereotypical biker dude, with black leather pants and a black jacket over a white shirt. He even had sunglasses on! The jacket didn't fully hide his muscular, yet slender physique, and despite his lazy posture, something about him put Daniel on his guard.
"Who are you?" Daniel asked.
"Name's Johnny, and I'm going to have to ask you to come with me. My boss has her eye on you and she doesn't want you getting all banged up before you meet."
"Boss? Look, I have no idea who you are, but if you could leave me alone, that'd be great." Daniel said and turned to walk away.
"You sure you wanna do that, little wolf pup?" Johnny asked. Daniel froze and turned back to him, eyes narrowing in anger at the smirk on Johnny's face. "That caught your attention, didn't it?"
"What are you—"
"You know exactly what I'm talkin' about." Johnny interrupted. "You know, newly infected lycans are a danger to themselves as well as the people around them. If someone ticks you off, you could get violent and seriously hurt someone. Do you really want that?"
"No, but as I said, I don't know who you are, and I'm sure as hell not going anywhere with you just because you say so." Daniel said.
Johnny shrugged. "You know, ordinarily I'd agree with you. Not my fault if you rip your mom's face off in a blind rage or something before the full moon." He said carelessly. "But my boss is very insistent that I retrieve you. Nothin' personal, bro, but the minute you were bitten was the moment you were conscripted."
Daniel's heart was racing a mile a minute. "For what?"
Johnny took off his glasses and opened his eyes, revealing a pair of bright amber gold pupils that took up most of his eyes. The eyes of a wolf. "Our army."
Daniel literally had no time to react before Johnny was immediately in his face. Moving faster than Daniel could follow, Johnny's arm shot up and snatched him up by the throat. Daniel was pressed up against the wall of the building next to him, held off his feet by the lycanthrope with only one hand.
"Sorry I have to be this rough with you, kid, but my boss can be very persistent when she doesn't get what she wants. You're one of us now, a wolf, and that means you're a part of this grand army we're making to take back this world." Johnny said over Daniel's choking noises. "It'll be fun, at least after you get past your first few full moons. But whatever the case, I'm not letting you go. I'd rather it be your ass than mine on the chopping block."
Daniel tried to breath with the tight grip around his throat. Johnny wasn't choking him, but his grip was tight enough to partially constrict his airways. Seeing that Daniel was trying to speak, Johnny loosened his grip a bit.
"What'd you wanna say, kid?" He asked grinning. "I'm all ears."
"F-Fuck you!" Daniel spat, coughing. "I'm not one of you! I'm no criminal!"
"…Criminal?" Johnny lost his smile and now wore a deep frown on his face. The look in his bestial eyes made him look rather terrifying to be honest. "You think we're criminals? Take a good look at the poster boys in the CSA and tell me if they're heroes if you really knew about the shit them behind the scenes!"
Johnny slammed Daniel harder into the wall, lifting him up again. He raised his free hand and Daniel watched horrified as the bones in Johnny's hand shifted, his fingers growing longer, and his nails sharpening into claws. Johnny pressed a claw against Daniel's cheek and lightly tapped it.
"I didn't want to get violent, kid, but if you're gonna resist this much I might have to beat you down a bit. As a newblood, you're at the bottom of the food chain, and the boss won't mind if I rough you up a bit to teach you some manners." Johnny's fingers curled as he lowered his claws to trace Daniel's chest. "Don't worry, you'll heal from almost anything as a werewolf. Can't say that you won't feel pain?"
"You've got balls pulling that kind of shit in this town."
Johnny froze and looked behind him. The voice came from atop the roof of another building right across the street. A girl was sitting there, glaring down at him like he was trash. She wore a short sleeve grey shirt and torn jean shorts with black combat boots. Black bracers hugged her toned arms, and her black hair was tied back out of her face. Daniel recognized her coal black eyes and deep gaze almost immediately.
'Morgan?' He thought.
"Who the hell are you?" Johnny growled.
"I should be asking you that." Morgan said. She leaned forward and fell off the side, falling down onto the street before landing on her two feet as if she didn't descend from a story tall building. "What the hell are you trying to pull? This is the territory of the Crimson Moon clan. Forcefully recruiting unwilling newborns is against the rules."
"Fuck your rules. Your clan isn't even a real lycan group." Johnny spat, dropping Daniel onto the ground. "And since when did you fence sitters get involved with what happens in your territory? You bastards are more concerned with playing human than living is up as a lycan."
He shoved a finger in Daniel's direction. "This kid is a werewolf, and thus he belongs to us. And no smart mouthed little bitch is going to stop me!"
Morgan snorted and shook her head. "You know, I really hate assholes who think they're better just because they bark louder."
Johnny's patience finally ran out as he was suddenly lunging at Morgan, slashing his claws as her face. Morgan swiftly dodged his attack with just as much speed, leaping up and kicking him in the chest. Johnny flew back and slammed into a tree, nearly knocking it over. Morgan was already charging at him, and before Johnny could move, she was on him, throwing a kick at his head. Johnny ducked down and her leg smashed through the tree trunk like it was plaster, completely smashing it apart.
Daniel pulled himself to his feet, watching the fight with wide eyes. He always knew that lycanthropes were stronger and faster than humans, but seeing it for himself was something else entirely. It wasn't like in the movies where they just blink out of eyesight and they're right on top of you the next second. It was more like they were moving too fast for the human eye to follow, not quite blurs but too hard to track with simple human perception. Despite this, Daniel could clearly see that Morgan was completely dominating Johnny in this fight. Go Morgan.
Morgan chased Johnny around the street, deflecting his punches and claw strikes while delivering punishing blows. Each blow that connected made Daniel wince, as his enhanced senses could pick up the faint cracking and crunching of bone.
Eventually Johnny got sick of being chased around like a calf and stopped running. He spun around and threw all his weight into his next punch, his face marred by an enraged expression that seemed vaguely wolf-like.
"Don't underestimate me!" He roared and focused all of his strength into his punch, which move too fast for Daniel to follow.
Morgan wasn't even that concerned, not even trying to dodge as she tilted her head a bit to let the punch sail over her right ear. Johnny's punch had missed, and now he was left completely open to her counterattack, a wicked right hook that caught him in the jaw and sent him spinning through the air.
Even without his growing senses Daniel could hear the loud crack of Johnny's jaw being broken. The werewolf actually spun around in the air in a full rotation before sliding across the ground, hitting the wall of the building near them head first. He didn't get up.
Morgan kept an eye on him to make sure he wasn't getting up before finally letting her guard down. She smoothed her shirt out and looked at Daniel.
"You okay?" She asked curtly.
"Morgan, that was…holy shit." Daniel breathed. "I'm…Morgan, you're…you're a…"
"I'm a werewolf, Daniel. Just come out and say it." Morgan snapped.
"Sorry, sorry, I'm just…wow." He gave a shaky laugh. "That was awesome and terrifying at the same time."
"Oh shut up." She huffed and marched towards him. Daniel stumbled back in panic.
"Whoa, what are you doing—hey!" He shouted when she grabbed his shirt and pulled him along. "Where are you taking me?"
"I'm taking you home. You don't want to be out at night when you have lycanthropes hunting you. That's just asking for trouble." Morgan said, not looking at him. "Get some sleep, go to school tomorrow, but after that, meet up with me at the courtyard. I'm taking you to see someone who can help you get your shit together."
"Hold on, I'm not going anywhere with you!" His resistance would have been more impressive if she wasn't dragging him around like a ragdoll. "How do I know that you're not in the same group as that greaser wannabe? How can I trust you when I've got werewolves trying to induct me into some fucking criminal syndicate?"
"You don't." Morgan stopped and turned to face him. "But you don't have any options. The full moon is in a month, and you don't have a damn clue about what to do to prepare for it. That prick Johnny? He's a part of the group that's been on the news. The werewolves turning and kidnapping people. You're on their list and you need protection. Something we can provide."
"Who's we?" Daniel asked.
"Come with tomorrow and you'll find out." Morgan said, giving him a little smirk.
Daniel was at a loss. He didn't really trust her after seeing that little display (no matter how awesome it was) but she was right. He had no options. He had nowhere else to go.
"Fine." He said. "I'll meet you afterschool tomorrow."
"Good. Now let's get you home, it's getting late."
She placed a hand on his back and led him out of the district. It was going to be a long night.
It was night when Jason was finished packing.
After running into Daniel and Veronica, the rest of his day had been relatively normal. He was still a bit worried about Daniel, but he seemed okay so it was nothing to be too concerned about. Which was good, since he might have made his first friend at Sherman High since moving to Tranquility. It'll give him a reason to stay away from home at least.
Afterschool he returned home and went straight to doing his training regimen down in the basement. With Jane downtown, he might have some peace and quiet while getting some work done without worrying about his punching bag being lit on fire. He basically wasted time until everyone got back home. Tonight was a special night. It was going to be his first hunt.
"So you're going out?" A quiet voice asked from the doorway.
Jason looked up and saw his little brother, Damien, standing there looking nervous. Damien was just two years younger than him, but his frail and skinny body made him look younger. Damien was the only other child aside from Jane who got his features from their mother, with darker blond hair and heterochromatic eyes, his left eye blue, his right eye green.
"Yup. Tonight Jane and I are going to accompany dad on his hunt." Jason said. It wasn't information he was supposed to be sharing with civilians, but Damien was smarter than he looked. "We're taking out a group of werewolves that might be involved with the recent attacks going on."
Damien nodded, and looked down at his feet. Jason sighed and got up to walk over to him. "Damien, I'll be fine. I've been training for this since I was little."
"Yeah, but this is the real deal. Training with other humans doesn't compare to fighting a lycanthrope in real life, especially professional killers." Damien said. "If you go in thinking that they're going to run upon hearing dad's name, then you're going to end up as another name on their scoreboard."
Jason had nothing to say to that. Damien was right, he needed to rein himself in before he got into trouble. Lord knows that he heard enough of his father's lectures and horror stories to know what happens to cocky hunters.
"I wish I could go with you." Damien said, taking Jason out of his thoughts. Due to complications of his birth, Damien had a frail constitution and had asthma for most of his life. Any type of serious exertion was a hassle for him. Not the type of person suited for hunting supernatural creatures.
"I wish you could too, but then you'd have to deal with Jane." Jason joked. That got Damien to smile, which was all that he needed. "I'll see you later, little bro. Be good, okay?"
"Okay." Damien said and the two brothers hugged each other before Jason went to get his things, hefting a large leather case onto his shoulder and heading downstairs.
Tybolt and Jane were waiting outside by their van. Like Jason, Jane was wearing black body armor that was a mess of composite materials and Kevlar, something that would've weighed down a regular human, but not someone as well trained as Jane. His father was also decked out in hardy but flexible body armor, armed with a sheathed longsword he was placing into the trunk.
"About time you got down here." Jane huffed. "We're on a time crunch, Jason. We don't have time to wait for you to fool around with that little monster."
"You're acting like I care about what you think, Jane." Jason shot back and placed his weapons into the trunk.
"Enough." Tybalt said, silencing his children. "We have a long night ahead of us, and we're wasting time with our childish arguments."
"The only one being childish is him." Jane muttered.
"Get in, the others are waiting and I will not keep them waiting." Tybalt ordered.
The siblings nodded and got into the van. Once everything was in place, Tybalt started the van and drove off. For most of the ride, neither Jason nor Jane said a word, saving their energy for their first mission as provisional hunters. Tonight, they were going to do what their family did best. Tonight, they hunt.
There's chapter 2, where Daniel gets involved with the world of shapeshifters deeper than he should, and Jason undergoes his trial by fire. And in case you're wondering, there is a reason Daniel's blood test showed negative at first before his conversion. Now, this story is new territory for me, so the writing's a bit off for me compared to my other stories, but I'm doing my best to make it work. Nothing much else to say other than thanks for reading, please leave a review, and stay safe for the rest of this unholy plague we're going through. Until next time!