“No, I can’t let that happen.”
“It’s not your call, Julien,” Ashley’s voice took on an impatient tone. “I trust them. Everything’ll be fine.”
“But my Queen, the Vampire Council would skin me alive if I ever let that happen. Please, at least let me be present too so I can protect you in case it’s needed. I don’t trust the mutts.”
“Watch your language. They aren’t dogs.”
“My apologies. But I still think it’s necessary…”
“Alright, fine. You can be there on the meeting.”
“Thank you, my Queen. That will put the other vampires’ mind a bit at ease,” Julien sighed, seemingly still not liking the idea of his queen meeting up with the wolves without bodyguards, but as she said, it wasn’t his call.
It wasn’t easy to arrange it, but there they were, sitting opposite each other. Ashley with Julien, her assistant with long, honey-blonde hair tied together with a black lace strip by his nape, green eyes looking across the table suspiciously; and Adam with Tommy on his side. It was a closed meeting to discuss the recent events. Neither the pack, nor the queen’s vampires liked the idea of not having more wolves and vampires present, but they had to make sure that the information they were about to exchange wouldn’t be heard by the wrong ears. Not that they didn’t trust their people, but they wanted to stay on the safe side of things. They couldn’t be careful enough.
“Thank you for meeting us like this, Ashley,” Tommy said with a serious, but grateful expression, ignoring the grimace Julien made for not using her official title.
“No problem, Tommy. This situation got out of hand way too much. We have serious losses on both sides. My condolences,” she looked at Adam too.
“Thank you. Likewise. We have to stop these attacks once and for all before it’d attract attention from both vampires and wolves that have wanted to get our territories for a long time,” Adam said, his jaw tightening until Tommy put a hand on his knee.
“I agree. Dealing with outside forces in such a situation would complicate everything and divide our attention,” she nodded and looked at Julien. “The folder, please,” she asked and the blonde man handed over a brownish-yellow folder that looked suspiciously like something from the police. But the wolves weren’t even surprised about that. It was suspected that the vampires had their men in the forces too.
Opening the folder Ashley placed pictures of a burned out room with five ash piles and a stake on the white table between them. “These are the pictures the police took on the crime scene where I’ve lost five of my best vampires. That’s all that was left of them,” she waved a hand towards the piles with a heavy sigh. She did care about her vampires’ well-being, not like her predecessor. “The official story is arson.”
Adam picked up a picture and Tommy looked at it too as he scooted closer to his Mate. “There’s no doubt then that we are dealing with a fairly large group of hunters,” Adam concluded.
“Yes, it seems like it,” Ashley nodded with a frown.
“We think there might be a reason behind their actions,” Tommy added.
“What do you mean?” she looked at him.
“We don’t know what yet, but targeting both you and us at the same time is suspicious. We doubt that these are random attacks. Otherwise how would they have known so much about the location of your safe house and ours in the woods with the… cubs,” Tommy huffed and Adam nodded in agreement. “It’s probably to weaken your nest and our pack to deliver the final blow.”
“You must be right. It’s highly suspicious. Are you implying that they are getting inside information?” her lips were suddenly pressed into a tight line, a sign of her anger flaring up from the possibility of a traitor.
“We can’t rule that out. We’ve been thinking about this a lot,” Adam continued. “We tried to look at the options. We don’t have anyone missing from our wolves and not everyone in the extended pack knows about such information, exactly to prevent situations like these. We can talk only about our side. Since we don’t have anyone missing who could be tortured for such information, we have to count with the possibility that someone’s leaking information to the hunters from the inside circle of our pack. I hate to admit this, because we should be able to at least sense it if someone’s up to no good, but if there is a traitor then he or she is very good at hiding this from us. I don’t want to believe that this is the case, because I know them all quite well. But we’ll take steps to check things from our side,” Adam said with a deadly serious expression. His shoulders were tense from thinking that someone from his wolf family had betrayed his trust without him noticing it.
“Obviously we don’t know much about the situation on your side,” Tommy said and lightly squeezed Adam’s knee to comfort him a bit. “Is someone missing from your vampires?”
“I’ll look into it, but I’ve got no such report. I can’t sense all of them the way you do through your bond to the pack, but I’ll do a headcount,” she nodded and both wolves were relieved that she didn’t take it as an offence but thought about it rationally. “Julien, I’ll want you to look into this matter as soon as possible,” she turned her head to her right where her assistant was sitting, taking notes with a stiff expression. He nodded sharply in understanding.
“If there aren’t any missing then I’m afraid… you’ll have to go through your people like we are planning to do,” Tommy sighed. “This threat is very serious to both the vampires and the werewolves.”
“Yes, I agree. Thank you for drawing my attention to this. We have to get as much information about the hunters as possible.”
“Speaking of which…” Tommy reached under his leather-jacket, making Julian flash a warning gaze at him. “Relax, it’s just pictures…” he rolled his eyes and pulled out some photos from his inside pocket then spread it out on the table so the vampires could take a look. He himself didn’t look at them, because it’d have triggered the anger of his wolf, so he rather watched the reactions of the vampires.
“They were taken at Howl after the explosion and at our safe house after the attack,” Adam provided the information.
“Oh my…” Ashley sighed pulling a few pictures closer. “How horrible… But I see what you mean. These methods are screaming hunters.”
“Especially the unique herbal mix they are using to mask their scent and confuse our noses,” Adam agreed. “But they made a mistake at the safe house.”
“They did?” It was Julien, who spoke for the first time since they sat down.
“Yes. One of them got wounded and we managed to gather a blood sample. It was sent to one of my connections at LAPD. Of course no hit came up during the blood analysis,” Adam explained, opening a similar brownish folder to slide it across the table with the blood results. “But we know that it’s from a human woman and there were traces of vervain in her system, which means that she was taking it to keep vampires from drinking her blood or compel her in case she got captured.”
“Other proofs that they are indeed hunters. Very much prepared for anything that might happen to them,” the queen said.
“Exactly,” Tommy agreed, seeing Julien flinch and Ashley’s frown deepen. “Adam’s contact at the police assured us that if anything else comes up in connection with this woman, he’ll let us know right away. But we think this was all that the humans and their technology could give us in the matter.”
“It’s more than nothing. It’s hard proof so we don’t have just theories now. My men and vampire connections outside the city reported that there have been some vampire hunter activities in the area in the last few months, but nothing major. A few attacks here and there. But nothing this big. They haven’t seen hunters gathering and preparing in a large group, so I don’t understand.”
“It’s possible that they came to town in smaller, 2-3 unit cells,” the Beta suggested.
“I agree. My brother, who’s an advisor of the Werewolf Council, reported the same to us. No prominent hunter activities, just the usual occasional attacks. And if they can move so under our radar, it’s more than worrying. And I think they are helped by someone from our or your ranks. Which is absurd, but we can’t pretend that it’s not possible.”
“The end justifies the means,” Julien frowned then looked up from the pictures when he felt everyone’s eyes on him. “That might be an explanation for that,” he shrugged and watched the wolves nod in agreement.
“Probably,” the female vampire shared his opinion too then she leaned back in her chair and let her eyes wander on the white walls of the office room they were sitting in. It barely contained any furniture because this building was just finished and still on sale. It was a perfect neutral place to meet up like this without the fear of being overheard. Not that their people didn’t swipe the room for possible monitoring devices or traps. “And we can’t deny that at least one vampire is involved. According to your words, Tommy,” she turned her gaze back to the Beta.
“I’m afraid, yes… The human who blew up himself in Howl was certainly compelled by one.”
“Alright, if there’s nothing else to discuss, I believe we all know what to do,” Ashley rose from her seat once the wolves shook their heads and the men followed her example. “I’ll call Tommy with what we find out. Please do the same. We have to catch and stop these hunters before they do more damage or attract more attention on us.”
“Agreed,” Adam nodded as he let the vampires pass them then he slid a hand on the small of Tommy’s back to guide him towards the door. Not that he would’ve needed it, but their wolves wanted the small physical contact when they felt their humans so distressed because of the situation.
“And Adam,” Ashley turned back from the door where Julien was about to open it for her but paused when she did.
“Yes?” he focused on the vampire queen again.
“Take care of your own.”
“You too, your majesty.”
“Just Ashley when others aren’t around,” she smiled at him then turned around and nodded to her assistant to open the door.
“Thank you,” the Alpha said then they followed the vampires outside, soon meeting up with Isaac, Terrance and a few Deltas from the pack. They didn’t go far from the meeting place, just like Ashley’s vampires that were lurking in the shadows.
“How did it go?” Isaac asked them while watching the vampires disappear into the night.
“As expected. Once we get back home, fetch me Sutan. We have to talk to him,” Adam said and glimpsed at Tommy meaningfully.
The blonde nodded in agreement, knowing what Adam was thinking. They had to start monitoring and testing their own pack in search of that possible traitor. Probably one by one. It’d be the first time he’d see Adam’s Alpha power on full display if it’d come to that. But Tommy hoped that they were all wrong and no one would be able to assist in such horrible things as tipping off the hunters thus causing the death of the innocent cubs and wounding other members of the pack. It’d question Adam’s abilities as a leader and would probably draw rival packs closer to challenge him. Hopefully that wouldn’t happen. Tommy didn’t want Adam to have to deal with challengers on top of everything.
“They started interrogating us.”
“We knew it could come to this,” the neutral voice replied over the phone.
“Yes. But I’m not happy about it,” came a snarl.
The man shortly chuckled then his voice became calm again as he walked down an alley. “How are they doing it?”
“They call the pack members in one at a time and make them drink some potion. It’s Harry Potter all over.”
“The books, the movies. With the veritaserum. You know, truth serum. And of course they try to snoop through our bonds to them.”
“I see. They are clever, but not too subtle.”
“They forbade to the ones already questioned to talk about this.”
“Then how do you know about their method?”
“I have my ways. I’m not a beginner.”
“Oh yes. I know, you are a sneaky one,” the man smirked, which his conversation partner couldn’t see, of course. “Did they get to you, yet?”
“No, they started from the outer circle. What should I do?”
“I’ll text you the number of a witch who owes me. She’ll give you something to avoid problems when you’ll be questioned.”
“Alright. You know how important it is for me to stay under their radar.”
“Yes. You proved to be useful so far.”
“A deal is a deal.”
“Exactly. There’s one more thing I need you to do, though.”
“What is it?”
“Buy another burner phone and spread the word among the rival packs that Adam is weak and under attack. Now is the time to create more tension among the wolves,” he smirked. “His pack will be soon gone and we can move to the next part of our plan.”
“As you wish,” the voice on the other end said then he hung up.
“Let’s the real games begin,” he snickered and locked his eyes on a pretty female. Tonight’s dinner. She never saw him coming.