Authors: Winifred Lacroix
She heard a pair of growls emit behind her and was brushed gently by a wolf tail, a whine as a nuzzle licked her face. It was Bailey, her white fur was unmistakable. "What are these wolves? Get out of here!"
Catherine began to gag and rolled to her hands and knees to vomit again, the pain was unbearable, and she wanted to die. A growl, Bailey was standing in front of her, Finn was circling the man who was shakily fiddling with a small pistol. "No," she cried weakly attempting to stand up and stop him, the fat balding man in the garish orange vest did not look back at her, but at Finn, the dark grey wolf that was diverting attention away from Bailey and Catherine. The latter of which was taking sure and steadying steps towards the man, Bailey was a flash of fur who latched onto his ankle and the man spun, pointing the pistol at Catherine and in a flash she was knocked over by a streak of gold and blood went everywhere, all over herself, all over the autumn leaves, and all over Bailey's white fur. She stared up at the clear sky, the forest was so dark the stars seemed to crowd the vista, the wind knocked out of her, her body in such unimaginable pain, her emotions overwhelming, that all she could do was breathe on the forest floor, and stare. Her shirt was wet and warm, the blood of the man who almost shot her sinking in, sticking to her skin. She lifted an arm up to touch the sky and it was immediately grabbed by a bloody hand that yanked her up so hard she swore her arm came out of her socket. "God Dammit Ivan you never listen," Peter swore, half of his face covered in blood, his hair matted with the same liquid, he grabbed Catherine from around her waist and took off in a sprint up the mountain. "Please be okay Catherine, fuck." He hissed as she felt another wave of nausea flow over her
She couldn't formulate words anymore and all that came out was a low whimper of pain. A silver wolf ran up beside them, each time his paws hit the earth she could feel it. Catherine closed her eyes and willed for the pain to pass but her emotions were running extremely high and there was a searing pain in her side, had she thrown up her stomach? "I'm going to die" she choked out, feeling the pain intensify, did she get stabbed? Catherine felt like her insides were slowly becoming her outsides
"No no no no, god dammit!" There was desperation in his voice, as he seemed to run faster up the mountainside, the grey wolf howled on the side and was rewarded with a response howl from two foxlike wolves on the other side. Another shot of pain wracked her body and Catherine cried out. "Almost there pup, just hold on for me."
Catherine didn't know what to hold onto, the pain kept intensifying, she could hardly feel her legs anymore, she whimpered softly and stared at the ground, darkness slowly ebbing away at her vision, the silver tail that she saw out of the side of her eye suddenly vanished and no longer was there leaves and forest but grass and gravel, and then no longer gravel but tile floors and soft light, Peter collapsed to his knees and laid her out on the floor. "Catherine, please don't die."
"You idiot!" an older voice, one that was unfamiliar "She's a Helian."
Peter snapped up to look at whoever was talking to them "You goddamn wolves can't think for yourselves, why do you think you can get shot and run up a mountainside without feeling pain? She took your pain for you."
"Catherine? But she just was turned."
Catherine closed her eyes; she was going to die here on the floor while people argued over her dead body. "We get a rare breed of wolf and you toss her around like she's some omega, heal yourself you idiot or wait for her to pass out from pain."
Catherine thought the latter sounded like a good idea; she rolled over, her hot cheek resting on the cold tile and exhaled slowly. "Hold on Cat, give me just a few minutes." Peter sounded scared and unsure as he touched her arm, his pants were met with silence, she whined quietly.
The pain lessened and she felt like she could breathe again, she coughed and rolled over onto her back. "Help" she choked out and saw Ivan rush in, his clothing gone
"Stay away from her!" The same voice snapped, "You do her no favors!"
She cried out, releasing a breath she didn't know she was holding, "Catherine I'm so sorry! I had to help Peter" Ivan called from down the hall
She nodded and clutched her midsection, the pain was lessening now. "Is it better? Can you breathe? Are you okay?" Peter asked, a clatter of metal echoed off the floor
He brushed her sweat-drenched hair out of her face and looked down at her hopefully. She opened one eye to meet his black ones. "Peter?"
His hair was red with blood that had begun to drip on his chest, he had no clothing on either she noted. Peter smiled wanly down at her, stroking her hair with his thumb "I'm tired." She let her eyes flutter shut and he kissed her lips gently. "It's time to sleep now, Catherine."
"Idiot dogs, how can you call yourself an alpha? Take her to a bedroom, call the doctor." That same strange voice called before Catherine slipped into blissful sleep once again.
She gasped when she woke up to feel John pat her face down with ice water. "Oh Catherine!" John sat back into his chair, afraid of scaring her again like he had in the cave, he fiddled with the wet rag he had been dipping into a cold bowl of ice water. The walls were made of stone, it looked like a dungeon cell but the bed she was in had lavish fabrics and furs with wooden furniture that was ornately carved.
"John! Are you okay? Is Peter?"
"Oh," he looked down and blushed a little, "Yes I'm fine thank you. But you're not okay, you've been sick for days."
"I've been asleep for days?"
"You're very sick," He grabbed the pitcher of water and poured some out shakily "we're all worried, you have to get better before the changing."
"When is that? What is that?"
"Your first changing is in a few weeks. If you're weak…" John didn't finish the sentence but handed her a cold glass of water. Catherine looked down at it before taking a small sip, the cold water felt refreshing, and also reminded her that she was very hungry. What would happen if she were weak during that first changing?
"Did you…were you born a werewolf?" She stared down into the cup of water, ripples forming on the surface as she spoke
"No, I was changed when I was young. Alpha bit me while I was camping."
Her mind began to question how she was turned but forcefully stopped herself, a dull headache forming. "You remember?"
"You'll remember eventually too, it's a drug they give you after you're bitten to make sure you become one with your wolf before the changing. Many people die if they fight their wolf and you're very precious to alpha," he fidgeted with his fingers and left a long pause that hung in the room "you're very precious to all of us."
"Why?" she asked softly, her voice no more than a whisper
"You've got a gift that no one else has"
Catherine was irritated, why would no one tell her what this supposed gift was? Everyone seemed to be hush hush around her when it came to who she was. "What is it?"
"You're able to-"
The door swung open and Catherine groaned, she was never going to find out. She laid back into her pillows. Ivan walked in and shot John a look that made the smaller man back quickly away from her bedside. "Catherine," his voice held no room for argument, he looked furious "You're awake, and you need to come with me."
"What? What's wrong?" She stepped out of the bed only to realize all her clothing was gone, she grabbed a large blanket and wrapped it around her midsection, tucking the end in to hold it up. Her legs were sore from inactivity but it seemed at this time that Ivan didn't care, he grabbed her wrist and led her out of the room, John trailing quietly behind them.
Gwen was waiting timidly outside with a small black robe that she immediately swung over Catherine's shoulders to clothe the small blonde and barefooted and cold, she began the solemn procession through the dimly lit hallways. Was this a dungeon? Was it a castle? Everything was made of stone; there was no electricity only sconces that made black marks behind the fire trailing up the wall. No one explained, she swore no one breathed. Catherine looked back at Gwen who gave her a small reassuring smile, but it looked like she hadn't slept in days.
The last flight of stairs led them to a lit hallway, tall, skinny windows flooded with daylight on either side and she heard muffled speaking down the hall. Ivan grabbed her arm and pulled her forward as they approached a set of heavy oak doors that were almost two times as tall as her. A heavy thud followed by the whine of the hinges as the doors opened to reveal a large round room with high ceilings and no windows. She looked up to see the ceiling was letting fresh sunlight in from an aged yellow skylight that had specks of dirt and leaves. In the middle of the room, on white marble floors was Peter, cleaner than she had seen him last, his blonde hair pulled back into a neat ponytail, in a black cloak and it seemed like a velvet suit with too many buttons, and he looked desperate.
In front of him were six older men behind a large wooden desk, their hair all white, in black robes discussing among themselves in hushed tones, they were outside the light that the shadows cast, it looked sinister to Catherine who suddenly felt a great fear welling up inside of her. She backed up but Ivan gripped her wrist and pulled her forward. A man on the far right, his white hair framed his face gently, his eyes a deep green, closest to them took notice of the new guests in the room and the small girl they had brought. "Is this the girl?"
"Ivan!" Peter cried looking not at his beta, but at the slip of a girl he had brought with him "I told you not to bring her here"
"I don’t have to listen to you! Show them, alpha!" Ivan roared next to her, Catherine wanted to back away but he instead pushed her forward towards Peter who did not move towards her but instead backed away
"Show them what?" Catherine asked, her voice panicked and shrill, looking between a furious Ivan and a stunned Peter.
"Show us why this alpha killed sixteen men just outside our door for you." Stated a bored looking man with greyish white hair that was pulled back into a loose ponytail who sat near the middle of the group of judges. "And perhaps we will show some mercy"
"Mercy? What? Peter-"
"As you may not know, murdering so many commoners so close to the compound has a dangerous effect on all those who reside within it. It could lead to some commoners becoming curious as to what else occurs on this mountain, and we can't have that, can we?" A man to the left of the ponytailed man replied.
"So what makes you special?" The first man asked again, more insistent, as he leaned over to get a better look at Catherine who was still trying to back out of the circle.
"Take her back Ivan!" Peter cried "For Gods sakes, you know not what they will do to her!"
"They will kill you!" Gwen cried from behind Ivan, tears streaming down her face "We can't live without you alpha"
"Then it is a sacrifice well made! Good for nothing beta, take the girl back to her room!"
Ivan approached Catherine and grabbed her arm, Peter looked relieved but it quickly turned to fear as the large blonde man dragged Catherine across the floor towards Peter. He let go when she was in the center of the room and Catherine stumbled to her feet.
She saw it, it was a flash in the aged yellow sunlight that was streaming down from the high ceilings, and before she could do anything more, a searing pain ripped through her shoulder as if she had been stabbed, her screams echoed off the chamber walls as she collapsed to her knees, her left hand flying up to cover a wound that was not there. She doubled over and sobbed, the pain flowed throughout her body.
"What have you done?!" A loud voice overcame her cries of pain. Her head snapped up to see Peter removing a dagger from his shoulder easily before turning it around towards Ivan, but the man who had looked intensely bored before had stood up, leaning over his desk to stare at Catherine
"It can't be." The old man gasped and another one rushed around his desk to Catherine's side. The other six men eagerly chattered amongst themselves as the blonde sobbed quietly on her knees.
"It is true, she is a Helian."
"In our commune? How can it be? And she is not even of noble birth! We must know more of the extent of her powers."
"She has not changed yet, if this is her powers now, what will they be when she becomes reborn?"
"That is correct, she has not changed" Peter cut through the chatter, "and cannot be taken for any examination until after, or you will have lost the Helian and her powers."
"Very well Peter, this is not the first outbreak of yours, but we are hoping that having such a precious commodity will calm your…blood thirst? Next time we will not be so lenient. After her changing, if she survives, she will be in our care until we can understand the extent of how she can help the community." The ponytailed man seemed to be the leader, and he smiled at Catherine before sweeping out a door that had been behind the desks.
Ivan looked confused as he watched Catherine stumble over herself to get away from him. She finally got to her feet and rushed back out of the room, brushing past Gwen and Shawn who watched her leave with the same agonized expression as their beta. She was sure her right shoulder must be dislocated or some other terrible fate as she held it but it was lessening with each step.
She rushed down narrow hallways blindly, her robe fluttering behind her as her bare feet deftly hit each step down spiraling staircases and as the pain waned, her steps slowed and when she hit the bottom of the last stairwell she realized she was lost. The hallway was dark, with doors on each side. They were the same heavy oak as before, and extended down the short hallway that seemed to go into a main room.
She walked slowly, hoping not to disturb anyone who may be in those rooms, afraid that they would be unkind like so many of these werewolves seemed to be, but as she reached the great room at the end of the hallway, no one made a sound.
The hall seemed to open up into this room, an ornate living room with a wall of windows, the glass tinted and yellowed like many of the other windows she had seen in this maze of rooms, and couches and two or three bookcases, a fire crackled gently at one end of the room. "Can I help you?" A voice asked off to the right, she turned to see a picturesque man, in jeans and a white t-shirt with dark hair that was swept back holding a book open as he walked back towards the couch.