Chapter Nine: …To Get Into Trouble
Michael found that he was way out of his element with all of this and the way in which Lycan society worked. The deference made him uncomfortable, even when it was the reason he was sure he could make his play to bring the dens to heel. The members of Seneca's den in majority treated him like royalty.
Seneca's reprimand stung that much more. She picked up on his discomfort with being a strong disciplinarian, and called him on it. He tried, taking her word that he would be challenged should he continue to show the "weakness" of wanting those around him to be equals. Her prediction proved accurate as one of the weaker in the pack tried for a power play.
The fight was almost a moot point. His initial reluctance to engage in the fight was overcome by the look from Seneca, his previous reprimand, and the rage that seemed to be a second skin since his changes. His newly acquired dark streak answered the challenge and no amount of rationalization was going to keep him from kicking the Lycan's ass.
Before Selene – before his hybridization – he had never thrown a punch in his life. That instinct seemed to go right along with his violent bent.
His response to threats, both to his person and those he cared about, was as instantaneous as it was violent. Each passing day his strength grew, as did his abilities. He could taste and smell when threats arose and could answer them before they became a reality.
The former doctor watched as his opponent transformed to save himself an agonizing and bloody death. The howl echoed and reechoed through the man made cavern, raising gooseflesh on his skin.
Already stunned by what he'd done and what the Lycan was doing to heal, the sound of gunfire reaching the gathering staggered his senses.
"Death Dealers! Death Dealers in the tunnels!"
A growl rent from his hybrid throat as his glare moved the direction of that warning. A cacophony of snarls and howls erupted around him, darkly furred bodies streaming past and heading for the threat.
Selene! Her name ran through his head, sure as it was dark down here that she had mounted some kind of "rescue" for him after his abduction. He regretted again not being able to tell her of his plan before he executed it. He wondered what she was thinking about his actions.
His gaze fell to find Seneca still rooted where she witnessed the fight, and did nothing to stop it. A strange expression passed over her exotic features, one Michael couldn't readily identify. Part of it was…satisfaction.
Michael ignored it, realizing that Selene was going to be outnumbered. While she could handle a lot with her new abilities, the numbers would certainly play a role in slowing her down. He slipped past Seneca, catching her falling in behind him in his peripheral vision. The hybrid trailed the majority of the den as they set out to dispatch the threat to their lives and their den.
Through shifting bodies, Michael caught a glimpse of pale skin and thick shoulder length hair. There was another with Selene, and the two of them were doing all they could to cover the hundred Lycans hemming them in.
Unable to vocalize in any other way, Michael's roar cut through the din. The den fell silent and bodies parted before him. Another change, there was resistance to his presence before, and in some of the faces he recognized, he knew even the argumentative ones were following his single command for silence.
Strange…what had he done to command respect so universally?
He intended to keep his cool, play his hand cautiously. All of that planning fell apart as he cleared the inner ring of Lycans and looked full upon the vampire he'd fallen in love with. His skin slipped of its own accord, his paling skin covered in beads of sweat despite the chill in the underground tunnel. He cleared the small space on quick feet.
Before he could engage his brain, he was lip-locked with her, savoring the taste of her lips. It felt as if it had been forever since he last touched her like this. He didn't want to break apart from her, but made himself before he lost all control of the passion that was rising up from down deep.
Michael noted when Selene's eyes widened, "Michael?" There was a taint of fear in her voce and Michael wheeled to see Seneca halfway through transformation. He dashed across the space cutting the female Lycan from any advance on Selene.
"Seneca, what are you doing?"
How dare you! Ripped through his mind, causing him to wince. It didn't hurt, but the unexpectedness of the intrusion startled him.
What? Seneca…what did I do? He didn't voice the confusion out loud, but her reaction told him she heard each nuance of thought.
I took you in…showed you the Lycan way. She rose up on powerful haunches, her silver fur seeming to glow in the low light. Was this your intent the entire time?
I don't understand…
I'm not so sure of that. She leaned into his face. You've assumed Alpha, your actions have proven your right to lead. Yet as soon as you take the role, you move to oust me from my hard won position? You give my position to another without even giving me the right to fight the challenger!
Michael glanced at Selene, realizing too late his folly, knowing the price of his lack of control. He looked back into the fiery gold eyes. I didn't mean…what can I do to fix this?
There is nothing YOU can do to fix it, Michael – nothing except getting out of my way and allowing me to defend my right to be at your side.
"Holy fuck," Michael uttered. He swallowed only just realizing just how badly he stepped on his own toes in his dealings with the Lycan Den. How did his intent to gain control of the den lead to this? His intentions only had to do with liaising with Seneca, allowing her to keep her control while using her cooperation to sway the outlook on the vampire cousins. He knew it was going to be difficult to balance that after he found out the terms of his gaining the control he wanted and needed.
You should have thought about that before your public display of affection for your Selene. Now I must win back what is rightfully mine. If I win, I will remain Alpha.
And if you lose?
Then I will be killed…or banished…either way your plan will fail, you will not have the requisite knowledge to make your idea of peace a reality.
I didn't mean…
And you didn't think!
Don't tell me you're sorry! Only humans are sorry! Consider your trap well laid…you even fooled this old girl…now tell her to give over her weapons and prepare her as best you can for what is to come.
Michael's shoulders slouched as he once more stepped over to Selene. "I've made a mistake. Give me your weapons."
"What? Why?" Selene looked angry and incredulous of his request.
"You've claimed something that is rightfully hers." He nodded toward the silver furred Lycan. He tried to get Selene to read the apology in his eyes.
Shock crossed Selene's face. "What?"
"You have to fight Seneca for the right to be Alpha Female of the pack." He raised his hand waiting for her to place the semi autos in his hand. Her expression told him she trusted him, but that she was still confused about what was going on. She placed her guns into his hands. Michael turned away before Selene could lock his gaze, questions burning in her still blue eyes. He glanced back up at Seneca before pushing his body into the loose circle.
Two Lycan's captured the other vampire and Michael was forced to insist on his safety. The two lowered their frames, their ears swinging aft in a submissive gesture.
Michael looked to Selene, now backing and sidestepping as the large silver furred Lycan leader closed the distance on them.
Be careful… and he wasn't sure just who he was sending that mental message to.
Selene locked her gaze onto the Lycana waiting for Seneca to make the first move. Her prowess was in evidence as she merely measured the vampire. The Lycana still circled long after a lesser Lycan would have charged its opponent.
Seneca stopped circling crouching down and bracing herself on the damp cement with one hand. The other was loosely perched on her knee.
Selene also stopped, settling into a defensive position.
Seneca lowered her long head between her muscled shoulders. Her ears twitched slightly, one flicking forward before pinning to the side of her head again. She feinted in her leap, and when Selene ducked to the left, Seneca pulled back and leapt to her right, intercepting her retreat. With a deafening roar Seneca lashed out, her hands nearly as large as Selene's entire head.
Selene's speed and experience were the only things to save her from such an assault. She ducked back to her right under that slashing paw, pushed straight and then punched Seneca in the upper jaw just below one golden eye. As she drew her hand back she grabbed one tufted ear, changing the momentum of Seneca's fall. The move made it look as if the Lycana had been clothes-lined.
Feet kicking as she landed, Seneca was quick to regain her footing, slashing at Selene's ankles to keep the hybridized vampire off of her while she recovered. Selene leapt back, pulling her knees to her chest as she jump-roped over that swinging arm.
Seneca braced herself as Selene came again, as Selene came within range the Lycan slashed once and then again. Only Selene was no longer there, she dodged back, and was leaping as the final arm swung down. The vampire tackled the Lycan with the force of a bullet train, knocking them both to the damp stones. Before Seneca could react, Selene was already moving away.
Michael grimaced, afraid that this was going to be the way of the fight. He watched, sitting on an urge to rush into the fray and end this before it ended in stupidity.
He noted something he'd never seen in Selene before, her eyes were no longer brown, or even the white-blue he was used to when she fought. Her eyes had slid into a faint gold tone. He could only think that it had something to do with the Corvinus blood now added to her veins.
Seneca once more came to her feet, leaping high and crossing the open space in the span of a breath, she landed just behind Selene as she was spinning around. This time her strike landed across the vampire's back, laying open her dark bustier and the contrasting skin underneath.
"Augh!" Selene yelped, but that was all the sign that Seneca hurt her, she round housed with enough momentum that Seneca's body ended up nearly at Michael's feet.
This time Selene didn't wait for Seneca to recover, she was atop the lycana before she could gather her wits about her. Though Seneca was able to get some good licks in she was most certainly on the losing end of the fight.
Before Michael could stop himself he inserted his body between Selene and Seneca, realizing just how out of control of this situation he was. He snarled into Selene's face, mere inches from her as he backed her down from the fight.
He slipped to human form as he turned to Seneca.
What are you doing? The Lycana snarled in his head. She looked to the rest of the crowd and Michael's gaze followed, seeing hackles rise and lips snarling all around him. He caught edges of thoughts, all of them echoing yet another fuck up on his part.
I'd rather lose this ill gained position than see you killed, Seneca.
Stupid – you've just signed all of our death warrants! She pushed to her feet, gathered herself, and leapt the crowd around the two. Blood sprinkled them all as she landed the other side with a howl. I would suggest you retreat if you wish to retain your miserable life.
"Wait! Seneca!" He wheeled toward Selene. "Shit."
He tossed Selene her weapons, and then leapt across the space toward the vampire that had accompanied her. He was already in hybrid form by the time he landed. He slashed the two guards holding the vampire, yanked him free, and then bull-dozed his way through the thinnest portion of the Lycan wall surrounding him.
He thought he might have managed that aloud when Selene said, "On your heels."
He knew it was impossible he hadn't managed human vocalization since he was turned. He didn't question the miracle of their communication as the three of them fled a worsening situation.
Howls followed their retreat, but the sound faded. He thought he picked up on another voice recalling their tail. The Beta's must have assumed Alpha and were calling their children to them. That didn't mean that there would be no one to challenge their retreat, they would just be delayed and in greater numbers when they did take up the hunt.
Michael slowed as he realized that no further pursuit hounded them. He sniffed, wanting to catch up with Seneca. He owed her an apology for the mess he made of her pack. He picked up her scent, and stalked after it even as he allowed himself to relax his warrior's stance and form.
"Michael, what the hell just happened?"
Michael glanced back at Selene catching both her and her vampire companion's curious looks. He clenched his jaw, not wanting to admit that Selene was right. He was not nearly as accomplished in Underworld dealings as he would like to believe.
"Tha' has to be the oddest exchange I've evah seen."
"Michael?" She grabbed his bare arm wheeling him around to face her. "What have you been doing down here?"
"Trying to do my part." He snapped.
She pulled her chin into her neck.
"You planned tha'?" the darkly skinned vampire asked.
"That wasn't exactly how I imagined it going down, no."
He turned his face up the tunnel. His nose wasn't deceiving him; Seneca's scent was getting stronger.
"How exactly was that supposed to go?"
"It was supposed to end with the Den on our side. It was working."
"So what happened?"
"He learned just enough to get him into trouble," Seneca stepped out into the lighter shadows. She was in her human form again, unabashedly naked. Her golden eyes brimmed with tears, "and ruined my world in the process."
She slapped him before he could complete that apology. "Don't apologize to me! Don't! I should kill you!"
"You'll have to go through me to do it." Selene was next to Michael in a heartbeat.
Seneca smiled bitterly. "Aye, I bet you would die or kill to save him. He smells of your influence."
Selene stayed mute, her hand clenching her gun.
"So, just why are you following me?" she looked to Michael now.
Selene and the other vampire also fixed him in their gazes.
"I…I think your experience can still be of value for our," he looked at Selene, "goal."
Despite the betrayal behind her eyes, she looked intrigued. "I no longer will hold sway with this or any Den, Michael, I don't know what you think I can still do."
"Help us show that our peoples can work together."
"Lucian tried that."
"In secret, yes, and it failed. This would be an open alliance."
"You stand to meet stiff resistance to such a change."
"We know that," it was Selene who chimed in. Michael shot her an appreciative smile. "But we must start somewhere or it will never start."
A/N: Holy Crap an update...yeah I know...I apologize right now for the length of time it has taken me to finally shape this chapter. I honestly thought I had written myself into a corner, and had several choices to get out of it, the easy way...and of course the realistic way. This you will find is the realistic way...and though I am not entirely happy with it, I am posting it...I may go back and edit again later, but not right now!
I was also dealing with some soul searching regarding my handling of the characters and whether I was truly slandering them or letting them grow. I took some of the OOC comments on board, tried to explainmy takebetter...(I will be going back through and reposting the first nine chapters with the "updated" material). Others of it I decided were honest character growth for Michael and allowed to stand.
Thanks to all for their patience, and all of the reviews asking me to continue this, they have been a boon through a rough patch of writing in the story.
Comments, questions and of course critiques are welcome!