"No!" Jana screamed as the red container bounced off the top of the gate to the main reservoir. It had raised just a tenth of a second too late. As Jana watched, container travelled down the reservoir, steadily leaking serum as it went.
"Did we get it?" Jana looked over to see TJ, Matei and Selina running over.
"It just made it into the reservoir." Jana barely held back a sob. "He's poisoned the city's drinking water!" Jana looked around her with tear-stained eyes. Above her, she saw Hartington making his escape on the upper catwalk.
"Jana, what's going on?" Everyone turned to see Jefferies, Whitewood and agent Jones storming over behind them. Jones spotted Hartington and started yelling into her radio.
"All units, tango primary is escaping via the upper catwalks! Pursue and detain at all costs!"
"It's too late." Jana couldn't stop her tears as an alarm sounded and the sluice gates started to open. The three adults' expressions shifted to those of horror.
"Don't tell me he…" Whitewood couldn't even finish her sentence.
"He's poisoned the water with that serum." TJ shrugged. "We were just too late to stop it."
"Control, I need a cleanup team down here to the city reservoir ASAP!" Jones yelled into her radio. "The city's water has been poisoned with chemicals! I need water purification equipment down here by twenty minutes ago!"
"It's too late." Jefferies muttered feeling utterly defeated. "That serum is in the main water supply and was just released. You'll never get it all before children are exposed."
"Then we'll have to damage control this as best we can!" Jones' determination hadn't budged. "We'll have serum ready to de-wolf any human children who get exposed. We can make such a big national incident of this that the entire Humans group will do life without parole."
"I only wish it were that simple." Whitewood looked shell-shocked. "We just put news out there that every single human shares the Wolfblood gene. With this incident, we may have just paved the way for another version of the Humans group. The only thing is that this one would be more dangerous. They'd know what Hartington did can be done and they might try and spin this as a Wolfblood plot against our kind."
"It won't come to that." Jones assured her. "McCoy at the office is putting the report together now. We'll get the truth out there. If anything, this paves the way for Wolfbloods to lead the cleanup effort. If Jana and her pack are willing to pitch in with de-wolfing human kids who are affected, it would prove that Wolfbloods are on the sides of humans." Jana looked out over the water. The grey clouds told her that the weather was looking ready to turn British and it seemed to fit very well with the mood.
"You'll have your backup. We'll all give it everything we have, won't we?" she asked her pack, turning to them. They all gave nods of varying confidence.
"I suggest we start immediately." Jones went to bark orders into her radio again, but Jana stopped her.
"I would wait twenty-four hours and check your serum supplies in the meantime!" she suggested quickly. "We can put out the news of what's happened and give parents a number to call if their child gets affected. We can take down names and addresses and sort all this out systematically." Jones paused and gave it some thought.
"You have a wise head on your shoulders, Jana." With that, she turned to Whitewood and Jefferies. "Can I count on the two of you as well?"
"I'll get Katrina and Robyn on board too." Jana reached for her phone.
"What about the Wolfblood who lose their wolves to the water?" Matei asked.
"We don't need to worry about that." Whitewood assured him. "We have some of the second serum Kincaid developed that grants humans Wolfblood abilities. It can reverse the effects of the anti-wolf serum. If we include a location Wolfbloods who lose their wolves can go to, we can zap them there and give them their powers back. We can get them all before the next full moon." Matei visibly relaxed.
"Then why don't I ask Katrina if we can make that location the Kafe?" Jana asked. "She needs more business and it would help to bolster her 'Wolfbloods Welcome' policy."
"Do it." Jones nodded. "I'll get McCoy to put word out on the news. We'll get things back to the way they should be."
"I'll let her know that she'll be busy tomorrow." Jana took out her phone and started dialling. "Katrina, is that you?"
"Jana, where are you? I've been worried sick!" Katrina's voice could be heard yelling down the phone.
"Katrina, can you meet us by the reservoir? We really need to talk."
The cold night air was a shrieking wind that sliced through skin, sinew and bone. But Jana and her pack didn't care. Even after Katrina and Robyn had arrived and Jana had told them what was happening, they still hadn't moved from the spot they'd been standing on. As Jana had predicted to herself, the heavens had opened. Jana couldn't help but see the irony that they had all the water in the reservoir and yet the only thing they were able to drink was falling from the sky.
"I take it something went wrong then." They all turned at the sound of the young voice to see Emilia walking up behind them.
"Emilia, I thought I told you to take the young and the old into hiding until I called for you." TJ said as he rolled his eyes, still unable to believe he was now the wild alpha.
"I heard the news on the way here." Emilia ignored the statement. "Eolas also helped. They got Hartington in the end." She stood beside the others as they looked out over the now pitch black water, the moon reflecting off its surface just like the night sky that gave it its current colour. As they gazed out in an almost enraptured trance, Robyn offered Katrina her jacket. Katrina didn't want to admit she was cold, but she couldn't help accepting it gratefully.
"So forgive me if I'm being a bit thick here, but I still don't think I properly get it."
"What else is new?" TJ whispered to Matei who then had to bite the inside of his cheek to kill the laughter. While Katrina didn't hear him, Robyn did. She turned on him with a glare that shut him right up.
"What's actually happening right now?" Katrina asked. "Why do I need to set the Kafe up to care for Wolfbloods?"
"The serum Hartington unleashed into the water will turn human children into Wolfbloods and it'll turn any Wolfbloods into humans." Jana shrugged. "It's happening right now and there's little that Jones and her cleanup team can do to stop it. That means we'll have to sort things out over the next day or so."
"It's the beginning of the end for the Humans group." Robyn mused. "Wolfbloods will be free and the human species will know that we're no threat."
"We'll finally be free again." TJ's voice almost broke as he said that. Jana could see how much stress everyone had been under.
"Freedom to live as Wolfbloods…" Emilia muttered as she stood beside Jana. "The path is now clear for us to lead." Jana felt like a bucket of cold water had been poured down the back of her neck. She hoped she'd just misinterpreted what Emilia said.
"What do you mean by that?" she asked suspiciously.
"I mean that the path is clear for…"
"Yeah, I heard all of that." Jana cut her off. "What are we leading though?" In response, Emilia gestured out to the city that was illuminated on the other side of the water.
"Well… We'll be leading them and everything they do." Emilia said like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"You mean like Hartington just tried to do to us?" Matei looked as his sister like she'd just suddenly turned into a porcupine.
"No, we'll be nothing like that." Emilia shrugged. "We'll respect what the humans are and not try to change them into something they're not. Besides, what of the children who decide they like the power they get from being Wolfbloods? Are you going to steal that from them? They might be sick of being calweiras."
"Cal… What?" Katrina had pretty much given up following Emilia's logic by this point.
"It means 'baldies'. She means you." Jana told her. "It's a wild Wolfblood slang term for humans."
"Don't be simplistic, Jana." Emilia scoffed. "Humans are frail. Their wills are weak and their minds are young. They need protection, but their own species' ego prevents them from accepting that. They need to be shown and maybe this will do the trick."
"Shown…" Katrina couldn't believe what she was hearing. Emilia had been so sweet when they met. She couldn't believe the change in her.
"Jana, surely you can see what an opportunity this would be and has been so far." Emilia carried on. "When the Humans group wanted to chip all the Wolfbloods, it was the organisation of other Wolfbloods that saved them. Now it'll be the Wolfbloods who save the humans. They'll see how lost they'd be without us."
"Is it only the Wolfbloods who are saving them though?" Jana said, looking to remind her.
"Who else could do it?" Emilia asked.
"What about the humans?" Jana asked as she gestured to Katrina with an annoyed expression.
"Katrina and the Kafe are useful, but…"
"Useful…" Katrina gasped. This time she couldn't stop the tears. Robyn's eyes ignited as she moved slightly in front of Katrina to protect her.
"Emilia, do you not see what Katrina did for us?" Jana couldn't believe it. "She took me in when I was homeless and she let Meinir in when she was sick. She gave you a lift when you tracked me to the wild and drove everyone back as well. She's fought tooth and nail to keep the Kafe a safe zone for Wolfbloods. She even helped Agent Jones storm the Humans group gym to rescue everyone. We would have failed so many times over if it weren't for her!" Jana was so angry that the veins swamped her arms with jagged black lines and her eyes ignited yellow.
"Jana, if you can't see the damage the humans can cause themselves and you don't want the task of leading them as well as your pack then just stand down. I'm more than capable of doing this myself."
"Emilia, we didn't defeat the Humans group so that you could take their place!" Jana lost all composure at that moment. "I can't let you do this."
"I can't let you stop me, Jana. Just stand down."
"Then I guess we're at an impasse." Jana growled as Emilia started pacing backwards and to the side, moving herself away from the others. Jana mirrored her moves to open the gap and extend the distance away from the rest of her pack, knowing what was coming. The rain lashed down around them and Jana quickly brushed aside some of her hair that had glued itself to the side of her face and partially covered her eye. If she was right, she was going to need absolutely no hindrances.
"No, we're at an end!" Emilia growled as she crouched down.
"Girls, please…" Matei desperately tried to diffuse the tension.
"Stay out of this!" Emilia roared with enough force to make him back off. Everyone knew there was no hope of stopping this now. Jana could see Robyn moving round in front of Katrina to protect her.
"Stay back, alpha!" she whispered quickly. "I'll protect you."
"We stand together or not at all." Katrina whispered back as she wiped her eyes dry and leaned out from behind Robyn.
Jana mimicked Emilia's crouched position. In seconds, wolves stood where they once did. Despite all the wind that was howling in the Wolfbloods' faces, none of them felt like there was any air left to breathe. Matei and TJ had watched their fair share of bad werewolf movies since Matei moved in with TJ and Imara to their flat. In the movies they saw, the werewolves that were about to fight would stand there and snarl while circling as they tried to measure each other's weaknesses. Only after a minute and a half of that would they clash in a bloody frenzy of teeth and claws that lasted a good five or six minutes before one managed to get a lucky shot on the other's jugular vein or overpower him through brute strength. In real life, it was very different. The fight lasted no more than two seconds.
Emilia charged at Jana, snarling furiously to try and intimidate her. When she reached her, she sunk her fangs into Jana's upper right foreleg before she had time to react. Jana snarled with pain before grabbing Emilia's neck in her jaws and ripping her away from her leg, then slamming her into the ground by her neck. Her foreleg gave out, causing her to collapse forward on to Emilia's throat. Emilia choked out a growl at the increased pressure and kicked her back legs frantically, looking for a way to escape. There wasn't one. Matei could see blood on Emilia's fangs both where she'd bitten into Jana and where she was coughing it up as Jana's fangs bore deeper into her throat.
"Jana, don't kill her!" Katrina yelled as she ran over. Robyn tried to stop her, but she shrugged off the arms that tried to hold her back and knelt down by Jana's side.
"Jana, I'm begging you. Please stop this. That's enough! How's Matei going to feel if he loses his sister?" Suddenly, everyone saw the muscles in Jana's jaws relax from where they'd been straining against Emilia's windpipe. She'd been more than capable of delivering the killing blow, but Katrina was right. She couldn't take Matei's sister away from him. As they returned to human form, Katrina helped Jana up. Her right arm dangled uselessly at her side. Emilia had clearly done more damage than had first been apparent.
"The humans are under my protection now." Jana growled as Emilia pressed a hand over her throat in a frantic effort to breathe. The level of damage sustained in the brief fight was now becoming clear.
"Emilia, just come home with us." Matei begged as he went over to help her. "It's not too late." As he reached out to help his sister, her hand intercepted his halfway. He let out a yelp as she cruelly bent his fingers back.
"Yes it is." Emilia's voice was barely a hoarse whisper. She regarded him coldly before speaking again. "I loved you, brother." With that, Emilia crouched down again. The split second she hit wolf form, she was running for the hills. They could hear her ragged breathing through her damaged throat a long way off. It was torture for Matei, who was close to being a sobbing wreck. Once again, his sister had turned him away. TJ reached over and pulled Matei close, not caring how it looked. This was one of those times that Matei ideally needed a family member. In the absence of anyone living, TJ would have to do.
Jana stood there after Emilia left. She was dumbfounded as to how she could just turn away the one person in the world who still loved her truly. As she listened to Matei dissolve into a wreck on TJ's shoulder, a wave of dizziness swamped her. The next thing she knew, she must have fallen because Robyn's strong and slender arms were surrounding her and lowering her gently into a sitting position.
"Babes, you're bleeding." Katrina told her as she started dabbing at the blood running down Jana's clothes with a tissue in the hope of limiting the stains.
"She's going pale." Robyn added as she pressed a hand to Jana's forehead to check her temperature. Katrina took off Robyn's coat and wrapped it around Jana.
"I'll be fine."Jana assured them as Robyn helped Katrina rip up a spare shirt that Katrina had. It had cost a fortune and she'd been picking out the leggings and heels to wear it with, but she didn't care at the moment. Jana needed it more than she did. Working together, they managed to sling Jana's arm up into a secure position. "Guys, I'll be fine." Jana assured them as they fussed around. "It's Matei I'm more worried about right now. I think it's fair to say we're all facing an uncertain future."