Let me take you in to a world, where men (and one woman) turn into wolves. A world, where there are no coincidences and only fate.
It's seven years since the 'almost war' and the rumours of giant wolves are increasing.
A new pack of shape shifters come to La Push to investigate and find more than they bargained for.
What will happen when the three packs meet and Leah gets in the middle?
How will the packs work together against an unknown foe?
Who will they fight for when they must choose only one path?
CHAPTER ONE - SUNSET
As I looked out across the icy Arctic Ocean, I couldn't help but wonder if the stories were true and what they would mean for us.
It was such a long time ago that the rumours started. My brother had been running the Alaskan border, when he first overheard some loggers talking about a large russet wolf loose in the forests. Initially, we put the report down to Chinese whispers; someone had no doubt seen an overgrown animal and the tale had been exaggerated from there. Unfortunately, over the years the strange sightings had grown, in particular around the Canada and Washington State area. Our interest was finally peaked when we realised the stories were getting closer to home.
There were several paths I had to choose between. It was an interesting idea that there might be creatures other than vampires and skin walkers; after all, why should we be the only ones?
However, I discarded the thought. My biggest priority right now was to keep an open mind and find out if there was any threat. If 'they' existed, who's to say they would be peaceful? Furthermore, if we decided to approach them, we could be unknowingly signing our own death warrants.
My mind came back to the present as my eyes absorbed the impending dusk. My heart could never get enough of the warming sun. When you spend most of the year under cloud, and two months of the year between polar-night and twilight, you learn to appreciate its true beauty and meaning. It was a burning light that drew me in because it never faltered and was the one certainty in my life. I could always trust that the sun would rise and the sun would set.
If Corey were here, he'd be telling me to quit whingeing already; I tended to moan about the weather a lot. There had even been times growing up that I imagined escaping this place, but they were long gone. I now felt the same way my parents did - it was our heritage. I was also proud to be among a select group of people that could live within the Arctic Circle. It was a beautiful and deadly environment, and I knew I was lucky enough to experience a life that very few others could even imagine.
I pulled my thick coat tight around me, lifting the fur hood over my head. I didn't really need it, but it was habit and for appearances sake. If a normal person walked around without their snow gear on, they wouldn't stand a chance. I tasted the air using my heightened senses; the temperature was currently around -17°c and it was an average day. I chuckled; I couldn't wait for summer - on a hot day in July, we'd maybe get up to 8°c.
The sun had finally sunk low behind the horizon, which meant I was due back. I turned and walked along the coast, taking in the snowy beach. As I reached the city limits, I was pleased to see that the festivities were continuing. The Spring Whaling Festival was coming to an end, but the streets were still busy, and the pack's absence wouldn't be noticed. I turned right along the outskirts and smirked as I passed a sign reading, 'Warning: Polar Bears!'
Finally, I came to my usual spot - a huge boulder, which was set several meters back from the unpaved road. It was the best cover for phasing and a secure place to hide my bulky clothes. I surveyed the barren landscape; there were no trees this far north. The vegetation consisted of only mosses and lichens and nothing grew higher than a few feet; we had to be vigilant at all times to avoid being seen.
Once I was happy my clothes were safe, my body hummed in delight and shifted shape. My senses went into overdrive and automatically pushed me forward to our meeting place at Avak Crater. It was the most suitable place for us to gather because the crater sunk low into what was an otherwise flat surface.
On my arrival, I was pleased to see the pack waiting for me in human form. They were minimally clad, and I guessed they too left the larger parts of their clothes behind. Taking me as the signal, they threw off their trousers and phased - our seven minds became one…
We started by showing each other our memories of the day and making the usual jokes and greetings. Once this passed, Corey's mind spoke out the loudest and addressed me. As my beta and brother it was to be expected, and he called out to me using my other name. "Suka, have you made a decision?"
"Yes I have." Everyone's thoughts were patient, so I continued. "I know there's mixed feelings on this, but we have a responsibility. If there are werewolves, then we need to deal with them. Imagine the danger they could pose, let alone the attention they could draw to our world."
Lee then voiced his concern. "What if there's nothing there, and it's just idle gossip? You're asking us to leave our lands unguarded, based on some rumours!"
I looked at them one by one, taking in their different animal forms. "I know what I'm asking, but there's been no danger in Barrow for years. I won't command any of you to follow me, but I can't personally sit here when there's any chance of exposure or human life at risk. It's not why we're like this!"
"If there's ANY chance of a fight, I'm in! You're not having all the fun without me." It was pleasing to hear Shay's thoughts. I had been hoping I could count on him.
"Me too brother." Corey nudged me with his shoulder; it felt good to have support.
At this point, Dylan and Alex started chasing each other's tails and letting out low excited yips. Their minds were shouting at me in unison, "We're in!"
Jaden was mentally frowning. "Ok look, I also don't think we should abandon the area completely. On the other hand, I don't trust you guys to go alone either. So how about this: Lee and the twins stay to patrol while I come with you? It's no good sending just you three; what's brawn without some brain?"
Dylan and Alex immediately looked appalled and froze.
Lee was plain horrified. "In other words - I'm babysitting!"
Oh God, why was no one ever tactful?
Dylan and Alex were already arguing with Jaden, while Lee looked put out. However, Jaden had a point; it would make sense to leave eyes and ears behind. Plus, none of them were fighters and the twins were easily over excitable. We had to play to our strengths.
Suddenly, Corey entered my mind; his thought was laced with amusement. "Please stop them before someone loses a limb."
I looked up to see the twins trying to nip at Jaden and immediately started to laugh out loud. It came out as a gargling noise, but in my head it rang clear. If the scene was being documented for National Geographic, then it would definitely win awards and a spot on You Tube:
Two arctic foxes were prancing and snapping at the air, trying to bite the feet of a snowy owl. The owl was clearly taunting them and hovered mere inches above their heads.
A polar bear was in the middle of the commotion, trying to catch the little nippers, but they were too nimble and stayed out of his grasp.
Turning to the left, an arctic hare lay flat to the ground; it was only visible due to a shaking motion. Like me he was laughing. Zooming further back from the scene stood my brother and I- two snow white wolves, just watching on.
As if to the emphasise the weirdness of the situation, all of us were extremely overgrown and if you looked close enough, our eyes were still human.
It was then that Shay finally managed to pin Dylan and Alex under a paw each. They began squirming and clawing at his heavily padded feet.
When he didn't release them Dylan directed his anger at him. "I don't know why you're going! You're hardly stealthy! Everyone knows it was YOU who started off the yeti rumours again!"
"You weren't even phased at the time either!" Alex's thought stabbed at Shay, trying to get a rise from him.
I knew it was time to interrupt before Shay lost it. Skin walker or not, you don't piss off a polar bear. "ENOUGH... If you two don't want to be treated like cubs, then knock it off."
My mind turned to Shay. "Really? Pinning them? They were hardly going to catch Jaden!"
Once they had calmed down enough to remember their place, they settled and waited for me to conclude the meeting. "I agree with Jaden - three stay and four go." Lee went to interrupt, but I cut him off. "It's not up for debate any more. That's the plan and we leave tomorrow morning at six. Now let's all go home."
Big thanks to my beta imadoodlenoodle!