A Little Late

I had planned to have this post up a couple weeks ago, but the I didn’t want to post something that was incomplete. I didn’t want to stop in the middle of a scene just to put something up. So although it’s a little late, I hope it was worth the wait. Here’s what I’ve been working on for the last three weeks:

Sienna had been trained since she was nine with weapons. She had been born a tracker, and she had been born a powerful one. Her grandfather had seen great promise in her ability so he had trained her to be a weapon. She didn’t have powers like her older brother, but she had enough to defend herself against a magical attack. But her grandfather had wanted her to able to defend herself against more then just magical attacks, her wanted her to be able to defend herself against physical attacks as well.

Of course, she had never really tested those skills out on shifters, and if she was smart, she probably would be running away from danger rather than to it, but she had never run from a fight before and she wasn’t about to start now. She had been taught to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves. It was who she was, and who she would always be, so there was definitely no way she was running away from this fight.

Letting her feet guide her, she followed the scent of death through the empty streets. She could sense rather than hear, Marian not far behind her. If Sienna was tracking what she thought she was, then it was good to have the other woman with her. Because they were definitely going to be needing a healer.

The scent of blood was growing stronger, and now that they were getting closer she could hear soft pain-filled moans and the deep snarl that was more feline then lupine.

“Sienna,” Marian called to her softly. As close as they were now, Marian must have finally caught on to the scents that had driven Sienna on.

Knowing she was not nearly as silent as her new friend, Sienna slowed her steps, trying harder to be silent. For surprise was the only thing she was going to have on her side.

Slowing down also allowed Marian to catch up with her. Sienna was at least smart enough to know not to run in without some sort of plan.

“Are you insane?” Marian hissed when she finally caught up, wrapping a hand around Sienna’s upper arm, “We need to get you to the Hollow, not run straight in to danger. You just barely survived changing. Are you trying to get yourself killed?”

“It’s not my life I’m worried about. Someone out there needs me and I’m not going to run and hide when there is something I can do to help them,” Sienna whispered back as she pulled her arm free from Marian’s grasp. Marian could only stare at Sienna, her mouth hanging open and her eyes wide.

“You two deserve each other,” Marian said with a sigh, “You’re so damn alike.”

Sienna wondered only for a moment what Marian was talking about, but the thought left her mind when she turned to corner to find a large blank panther gnawing on the all too still body of a woman not much older than Sienna herself. The moans Sienna had heard earlier came from the little body lying a few feet away from the woman and animal.

The small body was still but Sienna could hear a rapid heartbeat that let her know that child was anything but unconscious. From her vantage point, Sienna couldn’t see if the child was wounded, one jeans clad leg was covered in blood, but whether that was their own or of the dead woman’s, Sienna couldn’t only guess.

“By the gods,” Marian breathed out as she finally spotted what Sienna had been tracking. Sienna looked over her shoulder to see Marian’s pale face as she looked at the scene before them.

“That’s Taylor. She’s one of Walker’s classmates. I just saw her yesterday morning at the diner picking up breakfast for her family.” Marian told her softly shaking her head as she clasped her hands to her mouth.

“As cold as this sounds, the woman is not my worry right now,” Sienna said as she pointed to the little body Marian had not yet spotted, “That is my main concern.”

“Shit, that’s Morgan, Taylor’s seven year old daughter,” Marian swore.

“She’s still alive and probably vaguely aware of what’s going on next to her. We have to get her out of there before she doesn’t something that will draw the attention of her mother’s killer.”

“Shit, shit, shit,” Marian swore, “Walker took the best fighters with him and they’re all the way at the edge of town. They’ll never make it here fast enough.”

“We don’t have time to rely on the others. We have to do something now. Do you have any weapons on you?” Sienna asked.

Marian just gave her a look and Sienna remembered who she was talking to, “Shifters don’t use weapons. Our whole bodies are weapons.”

“Only if they’re trained to be,” Sienna shook her head. If only she had one of her knives, but they were probably lost in the accident. Along with any of the guns they keep in the vehicle. Marian would be no help either, she was a healer not a fighter. That left Sienna with only one choice.

God, she hoped this wasn’t the stupidest thing she would ever do. Bending over, she yanked off her borrowed boots and thick socks. She bit back the sharp hiss as he bare feet touched the frozen cement sidewalk. She forced herself to concentrate on anything but the cold as she quickly unzipped Walker’s winter jacket and threw it over the discarded boots and socks.

Sienna wasn’t a shifter expert, but she knew enough to know that they didn’t need to moon or some silly thing like that in order to change. The change was done at the shifter’s command. She also knew that for a made shifter it usually took months to learn to shift on command. But she didn’t have months, she had a minute at most before the panther noticed them. Sienna also knew though, that an Alpha’s hold on their pack was absolute. If the Alpha commanded a shifter to shift, they would have no choice but the obey.

It was the way Shifter magic worked. So right now, she was praying she hadn’t completely lost her mind and that her Alpha would be smart enough not to argue with her right now.

Marian just stood wide-eyed as she watched Sienna strip. Normally, it would have made Sienna uncomfortable to get naked in public, but this was an emergency and by now, Marian had seen every bare inch of her.

“Please tell me you are not going to do what I think you’re going to do,” Marian whispered as Sienna placed the bundle of clothes into Marian’s arms. She was going to need to something to pull on when this was all over, at least she hoped she would still be alive to need the clothing.

“Tell your Alpha he needs to command me to change,” Sienna said as she struggled to keep her teeth from chattering and drawing the attention of the enemy.

“You are insane,” Marian said shaking her head, “he’ll never agree. Not with you.”

“Damn it Marian!” Sienna snapped softly, “We don’t have time to argue. Any minute now that creature is going to notice that there is a fresh meal just a few yards away. Do you really want to listen to that child scream as it tears in to her?”

Marian said nothing but just shook her head. Although Sienna couldn’t hear the words they spoke, she could tell Marian had done as she asked. The pained expression on her face let Sienna know the conversation probably wasn’t going well.

Sienna, do not move. I’m sending Luke now, a voice commanded in her head. She recognized the voice as the one she had head when she first woke. But now that she was more aware, she realized that it was the voice of Marian’s brother. Which meant he was her Alpha. She wasn’t sure how she felt about that man being her Alpha, but she didn’t have time to worry about it right now.

He won’t get here in time. There is an injured little girl who will be eaten alive if I don’t do something now, Sienna thought back, hoping she was doing all of this correctly. She had only been a shifter for a few days, and for most of that time she had been unconscious so she wasn’t even sure if they counted. She had absolutely no idea what she was doing. She was starting to fear she had done something wrong when only silence met her plea.

Then there was a deep growl that sent a shiver down her spine. Don’t do anything stupid and don’t move unless you absolutely have to. Luke will be there in a couple minutes. Wait until he gets there before doing anything. Do you understand?

Sienna nodded before realizing that there was no way he could see her nod, I won’t do anything unless I have no other choice.

She could tell by the growl that echoed in her head that he was not pleased with her answer. As the silence in her head drew on she feared he wouldn’t do as she asked. She was just about to call out to him when she felt his presence in her head.

Change, the order reverberated though her mind.

The sensation was hard to describe. It was like he was there with her. She could feel him but she couldn’t see him. He was all around her, a fierce and primal heat that sent shivers down her spine and set a fire deep within her. The feeling was intense, embarrassingly pleasurable, and yet at the same time almost painful.

The fire that has started deep within began to grow. The heat became all consuming until it felt like every part of her was on fire. Her mouth opened to scream, but no sound left her lips. She doubled over, clutching her middle. Tears gathered in her eyes. The pain became so fierce that the world around her disappeared. She felt herself falling forward and she had no way to stop it. She knew she must have hit the ground by she never felt it.

When the pain had become too much, when she thought she was about to lose her very mind, when she knew she could take no more, it stopped. All that remained where the echoes of the pain, as the fire within her abated and the world around her began to return in brief flashes of sight and smell.

When the world finally settle around her she opened her eyes to find Marian leaning over her, a deep frown on her lips, Sienna borrowed cloth clutched tightly to her chest.

“Are you all right?” Marian asked.

Sienna opened her mouth to reply only to realize that the muzzle of a wolf, was not meant to make the same sounds as a human mouth. The words she meant to say came out more as a pathetic whine.

Well at least she knew the shift had worked. When the pain had become unbearable, she had feared in that one moment that her new body wouldn’t be able to contain the shifter magic and that it was literally going to tear her apart. She had known ahead of time that there would be some pain involved in the shift, but she had not expected it to feel like she was being burned alive.

She would have to talk to Marian about that later when she had a human mouth and when the life of a child was not on the line.

Now that the pain had all but faded, Sienna realized she was lying on the snow covered pavement. Where her human flesh had felt the bite of the cold, her russet colored fur coat, kept her nice and warm.

Sienna stared at her front legs which had been arms a moment ago and tried to make them move. Everything felt different in this new body. She wasn’t sure how to move, much less make her body stand. She had naively believed that her new form would be as natural to her as her human form. But right now, she felt as help as an infant. Her human brain couldn’t figure out what to do with this wolf’s body.

Sienna could sense her wolf’s amusement at her floundering. She let out an irritated growl as she tired to move her new body and get her feet under her. It took her a few seconds, but she was finally able to get up on all four feet. She was proud of herself until she tried to take a step and landed back on her belly when her legs got tangled up.

Marian’s frown only grew as she watched Sienna fumble, “I don’t think this was a good idea.”

Sienna was starting to admit Marian might be right as she tried to pull her feet up beneath her, and quickly landed back down on her stomach when her back paw slipped on a patch of ice.

Sienna didn’t have time for this. There was a little girl’s life on the line. She couldn’t just lie here and listen when the panther eventually turned its attention to the frightened child. Walker may have send one of his wolves to help her, but there was no guarantee he would arrive in time. Sienna may be the only chance that little girl had. She had to do this.

Too Human. The new voice in her head declared. Not right mind. Need to be wolf, not human.

I am human, she wanted to shout back. Up until a few days ago, she had only been human, therefore she only knew how to be human. Being anything other the human had never entered her mind. She didn’t know how to be a wolf.

Be Wolf, the words came again, this time with a little growl at the end.

I don’t know how! Sienna silently shouted.

Not time for human thoughts, stop being human. Be Wolf. This time there was a definite growl in the words.

Then show me how!

It was as if she had said the magic words. The world around her began to shift. Her senses took on a different quality. Things around her became sharper, scents grew stronger, sounds were louder. But at the same time, things felt more distant. It was like she was there, yet not there.

Be Wolf, the voice in her head said as her body suddenly moved with ease, and she no longer lay sprawled on the icy sidewalk, but instead stood steadily on all four feet. The movements were her own, but she had not done them consciously.

“Sienna?” Marian asked warily as she backed up a step, giving Sienna space.

Sienna huffed in response, as she moved around Marian’s legs to looked around the corner. It was an odd feeling, to feel her body move and yet at the same time not be in control of it. She was starting to almost feel like a passenger in her own body.

Enemy, the wolf in her snarled, as the blank panther came in to view. The wolf lifted her nose and sniffed the air. The sharp scent of copper hit Sienna hard, making her stomach roil.

The wolf sniffed again, where all the different scents would have overloaded her human mind, the wolf took each scent, identifying and filing it away. Sienna recognized the fresh smell of snow and pine, the choking odor or exhaust and motor oil, and the now familiar scent of blood and death. But as her wolf kept sniffing, she realized the one thing she didn’t smell was feline musk. But where the smell of feline was missing, there was another scent the wolf couldn’t identify that Sienna recognized. Not but scent though, for she had never smelled magic before. But the crisp, almost tangy scent that tickled her wolf’s tongue was definitely magic, guardian magic.

She wasn’t sure how she recognized it, but she knew without a doubt that panther before her was definitely not a shifter. She had heard of guardians who were able to wield a magic similar to shifter magic, but she had never met them.

They were called Skin Walkers. They were an outcast group among the guardian clans because their magic relied on death. From what her older brother had told her, in order the take the form of their chosen animal, they first needed to kill the animal and skin it while the body was still warm. Then they needed to weave their magic to bind the animals spirit to the skin. Once the animal’s spirit was trapped, the skin walker would place the still warm and blood soaked skin on his body, and bind the skin to him.

Sienna had only been ten at the time when her older brother Jordan had decided to enlighten her about the darker side of their magic. Sienna had then watched as her brother picked up her pet rabbit and snapped it’s neck. He grabbed the hunting knife he had brought with them, taunting Sienna. Telling her he was going to bind her rabbit’s soul to its skin and bind the skin to Sienna. Then she could always been with her pet.

Sienna had gotten sick at her brother’s taunts. She had gotten sick, throwing up all over her grandmother’s prized rose bushes. Jack had arrived then, feeling his twin’s pain and fear. He grabbed Sienna’s rabbit from Jordan’s hand and grabbed Sienna by the arm. Pulling her away from Jordan’s taunting laugh and dragging her in to woods behind their family home.

Sienna just sat there and cried as Jack buried her pet. She told him what Jordan had said. What he had threatened. Jack had vowed then to protect her, to always protect her so that Jordan could never hurt her again.

But Jack wasn’t here to protect her now. And this creature before her tasted of the same taint as her brother. Which meant only one thing, Jordan was probably behind this attack and the accident that had landed her here. He was the reason three of her friends were dead. He was the reason she had taken the risk of being bitten. She must have found something out, something worth killing her for. But what? What had she learned that she couldn’t remember. What had happened in those days she couldn’t remember? What had she learned that was worth killing three of his own clans-men and his sister? What couldn’t she remember?

The sound of a little girl’s cry told her she didn’t have time to worry about that now. The panther had finally turned it’s attention to the child. Sienna wasn’t sure how far away Walker’s wolf was, all she knew was that they had run out of time.

The panther stalked toward the little girl. Blood dripped from its muzzle. Gore covered its large front paws. The little girl began to cry in earnest. She struggled, her small body trying to twist and turn, yet some invisible force held her in place. her cries turned it to screams as the panther got closer. She had just seen it feast on her mother’s corpse and now it was coming for her.

“Shit,” Marian growled as she realized something was wrong, “Where the hell is Luke?”

No time, the wolf inside her said, and Sienna completely agreed. They were out of time. Luke may get here soon, but he wouldn’t be here in time. By the time he arrived, the child would be dead. Sienna could not allow that to happen.

Her wolf was in agreement. Before Sienna even had time to think, the wolf took control of their body once more and dashed out in to the open street.

The skin walker did not seem surprised but her arrival, Instead it sat back on its haunches and waited for her, blood dripping from its open maw as its bright green eyes followed her every movement.

Her wolf didn’t hesitate for a moment to place itself between the skin walker at the child. Fangs bared, deep growl reverberating through her entire body.

The panther lifted it’s lips, exposing blood stained teeth, in a parody of a grin. A huffing sound escaped its open jaw. If Sienna didn’t know better, she would have thought that the animal was laughing at her.

Sienna watched then, as the panther began to shift, as limbs stretched and and the body became more erect. She watched in utter fascination as the creature’s front legs length and sharp talons retracted to become human hands. The process was mesmerizing, nothing at all like a shifter’s change. There were no bones breaking or limbs shifting. It was almost graceful to watch as the panther became a man.

Where a blank panther had been a moment before, now stood a tall fit man dressed in a gray suit you would expect to see in a board room and not in the middle of sneak attack on a shift village. The suit was pristine and clean, not a speck of blood or dirt on it.

A black pelt lay over the man’s back, the arms hanging over the man’s shoulders. The scent of the pelt stung the back of Sienna’s tongue. It tasted like ash and putrid blood, it tasted like death.

The man smiled at her, flashing bright white teeth. His face was clean of gore, but Sienna could still smell it on him. His handsome face was nothing more than a ruse hiding the evil within. He lifted a dark brow at her, when she made no move to shift.

He chuckled, his laugh deep and emotionless, just like his dark eyes, “You are far greater a prize then your brother promised. He had informed us that there was a guardian in this little village who had survived the change. But he did not tell us you would be able to shift so soon.”

Tracker, Sienna’s brain screamed. This man was a a tracker just like she was. That it how he was able to find her. That is how he knew who she was.

“Your family should be proud. To have two such prodigies in their family. Never before has a guardian survived and change, yet here you are. Not even three days after your near death and you stand before me in all your shift glory,” The man said as he took a step towards her.

Sienna’s wolf snarled at the man, baring her sharp fangs, letting him know not to come any closer. Her flashed her a grin, as he dared to take another step. The wolf lunged at him, her fangs snapping, ready to draw blood.

The man just chuckled and shook his head as if she were nothing more than a silly child, “I wonder what powers I would gain if I were to take your skin. A shifter-changed guardian, I can only imagine the taste of the power that flows through your veins.”

She watched in disgust and he liked his lips, his eyes traveling over her new body greedily.

“Not as fast as a panther, but I can imagine the strength in those limbs,” He said as that greasy smile returned to his lips as his dark eyes met her own. “It’s too bad I don’t have time today to play, little wolf. Your brother just wanted us to verify your continued existence. He has great plans for you. And so do I.”

Sienna felt the man drawing magic to him and she knew he was about to flee. Her wolf understood too, and refused to lose her prey. She lunged, her fangs snapping shut over his hand and biting down hard. Bitter blood filled her mouth as the man let out a howl.

His dark eyes flashed as he tried to grab Sienna’s jaws to pry his hand free. But Sienna held tight, using the all the strength in her body to pull him down. Her entire attention was turned on the man that she didn’t hear Marian’s warning until too late.

“Sienna! Behind you.”

By the time she heard the words, her body was already shaking and shuttering as volts of electricity shot through her. Her jaw opened and the man pulled his hand free. Sienna crashed to the ground, her body shaking uncontrollably, her mouth foaming.

“Idiot, we’re not supposed to kill her yet,” The man snapped as he clutched his bloody hand to his chest. Sienna could do nothing but lay helpless on the ground as the remnants of the magic coursed through her veins.

“If she dies from that little shock, she is not worth the Blackwell name she was born to,” a woman sneered as she appeared in the corner of Sienna’s vision. She was no skin walker, of that Sienna was sure, but she carried the same taint as the man before her. Whatever they were, they had corrupted their souls and tainted their magic. They didn’t deserve to be called guardians.

“You stupid fool. We have no idea how guardian magic will react in her body. We need her alive,” The man roared, and he grabbed a handkerchief from his pocket and wrapped it around his blending hand.

“She’s still alive,” the woman said blandly as she looked down at Sienna still body, a sneer on her lips.

Sienna tried to growl at the pair, but all that came out was a weak whimper. The woman just snorted.

“Its time to go. The white one is on his way and he is not happy,” The woman smirked as she held out a hand towards the man. The man glared at the woman, but took her hand. Once again, Sienna felt him draw upon the magic around them. She knew if she didn’t do something they would get away. She tried to move, tried to stand up, but she couldn’t even lift her head. The wolf wanted to howl in frustration, but no sound left her lips.

Sienna could only watched as the man and woman disappeared in a flash of light. They were gone. They had gotten away. They had wrecked death and destruction on these people and they had gotten away.

As Sienna lay there staring at the place they had been only a moment before, she made a vow to everyone who had lost their lives that day. Now that she had their scents, she would hunt them down and make them pay. For every life they took she would make sure they suffered in kind. They had made a mistake in letting her live. She would find them, and the next time they met, she would have the upper hand.

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