Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
A third of the world's population are cursed to become werewolves on the full moon, and walled cities like Seattle protect the Clean Bloods. People like Detective Daria McQueen defend the gates of the city to stand against the packs of wolves, three nights a month.
Daria discovers a breach in the wall while on her patrol, and saves a family from infection by three hungry wolves. Daria herself is saved by a Wolf Hunter she had believed to be nothing but an urban legend, the Red Hood, Maireni Damaschin. The mysterious woman in a red cloak seems to possess inhuman abilities.
Daria and Maireni find themselves caught in a tangled web of deception that goes back centuries, which could spell the end to Clean Bloods and throw the world into servitude.
Victor was yelling at me over the automatic weapons fire and the flame throwers at the gates of the city, “McQueen! Daria! Did you hear me?”
I wiped the sweat away from my face then lowered my riot shield again and nodded as I yelled back, “Yeah, I heard you, you old blowhard! I got the perimeter sweep, switching to coms.” I took a moment to look at the tide of snapping fangs and razor-sharp claws slamming into the main city gate.
The wolves looked rabid, foaming at their mouths. But I knew it was just the burns from the silver strands in the steel bars of the gate burning and foaming their flesh as they threw themselves against it. Damn, every full moon it seems there are more and more of them. Where are they coming from, and why does it seem like they are all converging here at Seattle? The other major cities are reporting only their usual numbers.READ MORE
I glanced up at the full moon hanging over the horizon. We only had to hold for another hour until the sun was up and we were in the clear. I checked the magazine of my tactical shotgun to be sure I had silver rounds loaded, then hopped off the ladder down to the ground. A claw came slashing through the bars, I could hear the sizzle and the putrid smell of burning flesh as an unusually large wolf strained to get to me. Like I'd be stupid enough to step close.
I rolled my eyes, raised my shotgun, and fired, reducing its head to burning and sizzling hamburger. “Bad dog,” I mumbled as its body slumped to the ground. The acrid sulfur smell that marked the transformation filled the air as the body melted back into its human form. Fuckin' werewolves.
I started walking the thirty foot tall perimeter wall that was around the entire city. This portion was the oldest in the city, built in the beginning, when the European werewolves had somehow made it to the United States back in 1899. It was made of silver ore rocks. It reminded me a lot of medieval castle walls with the silver veins sparkling in the moonlight.
I saw the guards on the top, pacing the narrow walkway, shining their lights down on the sea of wolves. They were Seattle PD like me. We all dreaded these three nights a month, during the full moon, when the wolves would come. Pretty sad when we longed for a good mugging or robbery.
Not many women join the police force, I'm one of the exceptions. I have my reasons... when I was ten, wolves had breached the Ballard gates somehow. They went on a killing spree in my neighborhood. They avoided our silver infused FMBs, or Full Moon Bars, that we used to shutter the doors and windows every full moon night just in case of a breach exactly like that. The animals had instead actually dug through our roof and dropped into the house, avoiding the FMBs entirely.
My dad had just got me into the panic cage and was reaching for my older sister, when they attacked. Right before my eyes they tore my parents apart. Then a huge wolf played with my sister, batting her around the room with its clawed paws as she and I screamed. Then when I heard the gunfire and police outside raising our FMBs, the wolf headed toward the collapsed ceiling.
Now I know what we are taught. That they are just stupid, unthinking killing machines when they transform. That they have no humanity left in them and they don't remember what they did during a full moon when they returned to their human state. I'm not so sure. I swear to you that wolf seemed to smile with a wicked gleam in its human looking green eyes when it paused. It looked at me in the cage with its silver plating, then back at my sister, Prue, who was curled against the wall in fear. Then it snapped once at her, biting her arm, infecting her, then he looked back at me for a long moment with a look of satisfaction before it ran.
My sister, just barely seventeen, was contained before she changed minutes later, then given The Choice all the infected had before they turned on the next full moon. A merciful death of suicide by silver nitrate pill or banishment beyond the gates. No infected are allowed to live in the cities even though they are human during the day and all nights except during a full moon.
My eyes watered at the memory as I checked the base of the wall and the FMBs of the buildings I passed in my sector. The last person in my family, my sister Prue, chose banishment. I still hesitate today whenever I kill a smaller wolf, a female wolf, wondering if it is Prue.
I found a defective track on an FMB at a duplex. I made a note of it to have the city engineers come in and fix it during the daylight.
I wonder if she is still alive out there somewhere, thinking of me. I know there are at least five lupine settlements in the area, cities where the people cage themselves on full moons, and live their lives as normally as possible. But the Ferals are the men and women who have been driven mad knowing they are nothing but cursed beasts from hell on those nights and not knowing if they had killed.
They are barely rational in human form and have, for some reason, started converging in the area the past few months. Like it is a coordinated effort. Ferals try to spread the curse by not locking themselves down on full moons, so the National Guard has units to keep them pacified. But there are not enough men brave enough to go beyond the gates of the cities on a full moon, so the platoons move across the nation. Then there are the Wolf Hunters, who are sanctioned to kill any Feral wandering on a full moon. They are paid by the head.
But once a werewolf returns to human, it is illegal to kill them as they have most of the rights of a Clean Blood, a human free of the infection. I just see Wolf Hunters as animals themselves, they are out there just for the thrill, little more than the beasts they kill. We haven't seen one in Seattle for over a decade.
I paused, pushing my thoughts aside as I heard something over the battle receding in the distance. The howling and growling of the wolves on this side of the wall, faint and deadened by the mass of the stones. It was a splashing sound and a rumble that was so low it was more felt than heard that caught my attention.
The hairs stood up on the back of my arms and at the small of my neck. I knew the sound almost intimately, the deep growl of a wolf on the hunt. My shotgun was up as I swept the area. I glanced at my riot gear then scanned the alley the sound was coming from.
I was whispering into my coms, “This is officer McQueen, sector 1A. I have a breach situation. Alley at North 145th and Stone.”
Headquarters was on coms instantly. “All units, lupine incursion North 145th and Stone. Officer on scene.”
Then Victor was on the TAC channel, I could hear him breathing hard, he was running. “Talk to me McQueen, are they contained? Numbers?”
I responded in a whisper, “I don't know. I'm heading into the alley to check.”
He was almost growling. “Don't do anything stupid kid! Wait for backup!”
I paused at the alley entrance and glanced in quickly before pulling back. I had definitely seen one tail and more shadowy shapes milling around. I didn't know if that alley was a dead end or if they could escape from the other side.
I was about to report in when I heard snarling then a yelp and the smell of burning flesh wafted out of the alley. I grinned, the FMBs were doing their job. Then there was more snarling, snapping, and scratching, followed by the sound of siding tearing. Shit! They were going to go through the wall. I could hear people screaming inside the apartment building.
I growled out a “Son of a bitch!” Then raised my weapon and ran into the alley. I almost tripped over a manhole cover leading into the sewers. That's how they got in, there was a breach somewhere down there.
I inadvertently kicked a discarded soda can when I dodged the open hole in the ground. The one wolf I could see snapped its head toward me, snarling, and leaped. A normal wolf can jump about fifteen feet and almost twelve feet straight up, but a werewolf can do twice that. Whatever supernatural curse makes them these demon spawn, gives them enhanced speed and strength, and even a bit of it in human form.
This one covered most of the forty feet between us in that single leap. He was big, even for a werewolf, and his pelt was a mangy grey and black. There was no intelligence in his yellow eyes, just savage intent. I fired and tore half of his skull off as the silver buckshot burned his flesh and brain alike. He had so much momentum that his body slammed into me sending me to the ground and my shotgun skidding and spinning away from me.
I scrambled out from under him as two other wolves turned from their attempt to enter the building and flung themselves at me, snarling and snapping. It felt like about two hundred pounds of wolf transforming to human that I had to move off of me. I rolled across the ground and over my shotgun, snagging it as I rolled past and coming up pumping off two shots. I winging the closest one and it yipped and skittered away.
The third one was in the air, and I swung the barrel of my rifle to it as fast as I could manage. I paused, it was smaller, a female... I brought up the shotgun crossways between it and me as it landed, knocking the wind out of me.
Its jaws were snapping trying to get to me, but I kept the shotgun held out. Its claws were tearing at me. I could hear my riot armor cracking under the assault. I wasn't going out like this God damn it! I yelled, “Get back mutt!” I dropped the shotgun and punched the she-wolf in the muzzle with all my strength.
I think it surprised her more than hurt her, as she stepped back slightly. I saw the other wolf moving to my side with a limp. The bitch curled her lips, revealing killing fangs and started to lunge just as something landed soundlessly by my side, I had just caught the motion in my peripheral vision. Almost faster than I could follow, wolf fast, a fist shot out from a billowing red cloak.
I heard the crack of bone as the wolf went tumbling, paws over tail, and crashed into the opposite wall of the alley with bone-jarring force. A woman's voice came out from under a thick red hood, smoky and smooth as she said calmly, “She said get back.” It scrambled to its paws and the two wolves dove on my savior.COLLAPSE