Becky’s final adventure begins as her mate and she are swept into the turmoil that threatens to engulf all of the werewolf world. They must use their wits, physical abilities, and all the luck Lady Fortune can give them to stop their foes from controlling everyone and everything.
"Are we there yet?"
The whiner was me, Becky, werewolf initiate extraordinaire. Right then I felt like a werewolf shaken and stirred. The place was a dusty road in the middle of nowhere. The vehicle was an old pickup truck just short of being an antique and well on its way to being scrap yard material. The time, some hours past lunch. The company was a few bricks shy of a load, or, to fit my hunger, a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
"This old truck isn't going to go any faster on these damned roads," Rick growled at me through the cab window.
He was the driver, an old cantankerous man with a shotgun at his side full of silver bullets. Beside him sat George Stevens, lord of the werewolf region of Manutia and a general pain in the ass.
On the other side of Stevens was Steve, a human young man about eighteen who looked like he'd rather be studying at some college than hanging around with a bunch of werewolves and a crazy old man out on a quest to save the werewolf race from self-extermination. At least, I think that's what we were doing. My brain was so rattled from the rough road that I hadn't lost the marbles inside my head, but I was pretty sure they were all broken.
"That's enough," Luke scolded us. His back was leaned against the side of the pickup bed and his eyes were closed. I don't know why he even tried to fall asleep on this rough road.
It was a week after our escape from New York, or the werewolf equivalent of it. The city of Bolton was far behind us, and far in front of us, somewhere beyond the small towns and cities of Manutia, lay the region of Scientia. The northern land of Manutia was a heavily populated metropolis, but this southern part was more like a mix between the fields of Agropolis and the wilds of my new home, Wildlands. There were scattered towns and the occasional larger city, but Rick had packed enough supplies in the back of the truck that we were able to skirt civilization for this long week.
I plopped myself down beside Luke and sighed. "Remind me again what we're doing out here in the middle of the middle of nowhere," I asked him.
"Our safest route to enter Scientia is to find a hole in the region defenses," he explained.
"How large is this region? I mean, can they really be patrolling most of it?" I wondered.
"It is quite large, and we have the advantage there," he told me. "Unfortunately, we do not know how many werewolves they have convinced to join them, so they may have a regular patrol on all parts of the border."
"I won't believe so many werewolves would join that madman," Stevens spoke up.
Rick looked at him with a sneer. "You did," he reminded him.
Stevens frowned back at the old man. "I was not obeying out of loyalty nor my own free will," he argued.
"Uh-huh, so you're going to tell us again how ya were controlled by a smell they shoved up your nose that made ya like a zombie?" Rick guessed.
Stevens' eyes narrowed. "If you were a werewolf that would not sound so impossible," he countered.
Rick snorted. "If I was a werewolf I wouldn't be tolerating your words. We would've duked this out a lot time ago."
Luke frowned and leaned his head back toward the cab window. "Our enemies are Lance and the others. Do not lose sight of that," he interrupted our compatriots.
As you can tell, tensions were running high among our little group. This exciting road trip with this dysfunctional family grated on everyone's nerves like cheese on a-well, a grater. The closer we came to our destination the worse our tempers flared. The only one unaffected by imminent death was Luke, and I had to admire and envy his ability to remain calm in the face of this massive danger. After all, we'd had a close shave in Bolton. I expected more than a knick in Scientia.
Rick grumbled, but settled down into driving us along the rock-strewn back roads of Manutia. "Well, his Lordship better know where we're headed because I lost my way twelve turns back," he mumbled.
"I know my own territory, and I am sure that the least amount of patrols will occur around the forested swamps. The smells from the rancid waters are very disgusting to our kind," Stevens assured him.
"How much farther to the swamp forests?" Luke asked him.
Stevens glanced up at the darkening sky. It would be night in an hour. Another sleep on the hard ground, but I had my Luke pillow to soften the dirt. "The day after tomorrow at midday we will reach it. There is a town between here that we must skirt around," he told us.
"Skirt around nothing. We're running low on gas and supplies," Rick spoke up. He tapped the fuel gauge which showed near empty. "Hopefully that town isn't very far because we've only got one more can to empty into the tank."
"The town will be reached by mid-afternoon tomorrow," Stevens replied.
"We may also be able to find some information about the facility. The location is still unknown to us," Luke reminded us.
Stevens scoffed. "It won't be hard to find. Mullen and the rest of Scientia like to brag about their discoveries."
"Possibly, but Lance will have demanded secrecy, and chosen a site hidden from casual observers," Luke argued. He glanced up at the darkening sky. "But let's rest for tonight. The night will be cold, and I would rather we not light a campfire any closer to the border," Luke advised.
Rick parked the truck on the side of the dusty dirt road and we made camp. It was a simple procedure of gathering sticks and stones, making a fire in them, and settling down on the few blankets alloted to us. Rick and Steve took the back of the pickup as a mattress while Stevens' soft posterior demanded the cab. Luke and I shared a blanket on the ground, but that made us closer to the fire than the others so I was warm, especially with my mate by my side. We ate our small portions of food, meat caught by Luke and some food Rick had stowed in the truck, and everyone settled down to sleep.
Everyone, that is, except Luke and me. Long after the others had struck up a snoring chorus Luke sat on our blanket and stared into the fire. I sat beside him and pressed myself against his side. "What's the matter?" I whispered to him.
"Stevens' account of the scent which controlled him still remains a puzzle to me," he admitted. "I cannot fathom what my brother has created, but the danger it poses to our kind is unfathomable. It may destroy our society."
I furrowed my brow. "Can a smell really be that powerful?"
"I am not sure. I can only guess he has figured out some way to amplify a smell that is unique, and that he can control," Luke told me.
"What kind of smell would he be able to control?" I wondered.
"His own, or that of our family," he replied.
I tilted my head to one side. "We have a family smell?"
"Each scent of a werewolf is different, but those in a close family, such as you, Zeke, Lance and myself, have a similar smell," he explained.
"And you think he's done something with this smell?" I guessed.
"Perhaps, or perhaps there is something in nature he has learned to control, such as the wolf's bane," he mused.
"Well, whatever he's done we need to stop it before it becomes a hot commodity on the werewolf black market, right?" I asked him.
"Yes, though I doubt Lance would ever allow his life's work to slip from his clawed grasp," Luke replied.
"Life's work? He's been working at being a madman for that long?" I wondered.
"He has been eager for power for a great many years," Luke admitted.
"Well, we'll just have to make sure there's disappointment waiting for him at the end of his dream," I commented. I glanced up at the night sky. The stars twinkled down at us and brought to mind memories of Stacy's twinkling eyes. "You think the others are all right? Alistair, Stacy and Baker?" I asked Luke.
Luke smiled. "They are all very capable of caring for themselves, and I suspect with their minds put together they may reach Scientia before us. They may already be there," he mused.
I looked over my shoulder at the snoring forms in the truck. "You know, I've seen enough action movies to know the bad guys aren't really going to let us waltz in there and destroy Lance's life work. Are you sure it's a good idea bringing any of those guys with us?" I wondered, gesturing to the truck.
"Much as he is a bureaucrat, Stevens does know how to fight," he reminded me. He glanced over his shoulder at the two forms in the bed of the truck and sighed. "As for the humans, we have no place to keep them safe and Rick's silver bullets will no doubt be useful."
I sighed and snuggled closer to Luke. "Well, I suppose that means we're stuck with them until the battle's over. You think we'll win this thing?" I wondered.
Luke chuckled. "Perhaps, especially as I have yet to finish your training," he pointed out.
My shoulders slumped and I stuck out my tongue. "Ugh, more rabbit chasing?" I muttered.
"More rabbit chasing, and perhaps a bit more polishing in your manners. When we return home I shall teach you how to dance," he teased.
I sighed. "Home." That seemed so long ago we were there. "Poor Zeke must be bored out of his mind without us causing trouble," I mused.
Luke chuckled. "No doubt he's enjoying the reprieve for when we return."
"We'll have to regale him with all the fun he missed," I added.
"I'm sure the stories will make him regret not coming with us on this pleasurable journey with such company, but we had better rest. Tomorrow we may find trouble closer to the border," Luke advised.