Author Topic: A Plot Foiled  (Read 905 times)

Duncan Devereux

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A Plot Foiled
« on: May 06, 2019, 07:12:55 PM »
"This is stupid."

The mutterer was hastily silenced by her companion, who nudged her viciously in the side as they approached the Golden Oaks Daycare Center.

"Orders are orders," he growled back. "It's just one human child. How hard could it be?"

"That remains to be seen," the mutterer replied, with a scowl. She had been opposed to this plan of attack all along, but it hadn't really been up to her to decide. She wasn't the alpha, and it was her job to follow orders, not question them.

"In and out, what's so hard about it?" the male answered her. "You're here to make the boy feel safe. The only trouble might be the Shaw whelp - their view is undeclared."

"If they side with the humans, their traitors to their own kind," the female replied, forgetting that some of their kind had not been born this way, but born human and turned later. "You just do your job, and I'll do mine," she snapped back at the male.

His lips curled in a snarl for a moment before he got control of himself. Their pack was not exactly tight-knit, being made up of rogues who shared a single belief not shared among most. "Try not to get us caught," he growled.

The female growled back, a sound low in her throat. "Speak for yourself, pup," she warned. "Now, put on your game face, and let's do this," she said, forcing herself to smile. If they were successful, maybe the alpha would consider promoting her.

The daycare was rowdy with the noise of toddlers and babies playing under close supervision of the carers peppered throughout the wide play space. As the doors opened to admit a couple apparently taking a tour of the facility, Amaris lifted her head from where she was overseeing the finger painting. She knew that scent - the scent of werewolf - and at this moment in time, in this place, it was enough to set her teeth on edge. It worried her, deeply, sending her eyes scanning the room for Micah Bristol.

No one else seemed to notice that there was anything wrong - not even the security guard who was seated behind a pane of glass, monitoring screens that showed him everyone who entered and exited, as well as the daycare center, at large. The only rooms the cameras didn't monitor were the bathrooms and closets. He knew that posed a risk, but so long as he could see who was coming and going, he wasn't overly worried about it.

The couple seemed to be on their best behavior. Perhaps they were on the lookout for a daycare for their own pups, one that counted a wolf among their staff. Perhaps. Amaris was still supervising her own group, and the next time she looked up was to see Micah toddling toward the bathroom with Nora, the woman looking after him and his group today. The lycan couple didn't seem to have paid them any attention. But when Amaris looked up next, ten minutes later, there was no curious couple, and no Micah. Ten minutes was more than long enough for a little boy to do his business.

"Damn it," the security guard muttered, quickly moving from his chair and exiting his station when he noticed what was going on. He didn't want to create a panic, but he needed to get the rest of the kids and teachers out of the building before anyone got hurt. He hit the fire alarm, which seemed the quickest way to vacate the building.

"Everyone out of the building!" he shouted. "No need to panic!" The cops and fire department would likely arrive shortly, but not soon enough. It wasn't a fire he was worried about, but a kidnapping. "Get these kids out of here!" he ordered to anyone who would listen, which included Amaris.

Obediently, well drilled toddlers and carers rose and began filing out and into the car park out the front of the building, no one even offering the slightest. Of course, someone had to check the toilets, and that was what Amaris appeared to be doing ... but she bypassed the toilets altogether, following her nose as her pace quickened, leading her away from the gathering crowd outside the front and through the increasingly quiet back rooms toward the playground at the back of the building.

Once he was sure everyone was on their way out the front, the security guard made his way toward the bathrooms and the back of the building, not following his nose, but his instincts. He'd last seen the boy being hurried out of the bathroom, not by Nora, but by the couple who'd appeared to have been touring the facilities.

"They have the boy. Suspects last seen heading out the back. I'm in pursuit," he informed an invisible source, as he yanked his sidearm from the holster.

Amaris burst out through the back door in time to see the man scaling the fence while the woman held Micah by the hand. "Micah, munch bunch!" she yelled, and the toddler turned happily and sank his brand new baby teeth deep into the hand of the female werewolf holding him.

The female howled in pain, letting go of the boy's hand as she momentarily drew back in pain, turning to snarl at their pursuers, revealing sharp that revealed her true nature. A shot rang out, as the security guard arrived on Amaris' heels, a single bullet driving its way into the back of the male's right calf. It wasn't enough to kill him just yet, but the bullet was made of silver and if it wasn't removed, it would quickly act like poison in his bloodstream.

The male swore, his features shifting, eyes flashing yellow as pain and poison flooded his system. He glanced swiftly down and made the calculation, dropping down on the other side of the fence to make a run for it. As Micah toddled hurriedly back toward the building, Amaris growled - a genuine wolf's growl - and launched herself at the female, nails lengthening to claws as her own eyes glowed amber with feral fury.

"Stop!" the guard, whom Amaris only knew as Officer Devereux, shouted as the male made his escape. He was about to shoot again, when Amaris got in the way. He growled himself, but coming from him, it was a very human sound. He could choose to pursue the male, but his main objective was to protect the boy.

"I've got the boy. Suspect heading north toward Lincoln Street," he informed that invisible party once again, as he moved over to scoop the boy up into his arms. "You okay?" he asked.

Micah nodded, clinging to the security officer's sleeves as he looked at Devereux with wide, watery eyes. One hand detached to point toward the two women. "Umreese," he said, his worry about one of his favorite carers obviously there for all to see.

And in that moment, Amaris and her opponent went down in a tangle of limbs and claws and teeth, snarling and snapping at each other.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2019, 07:13:23 PM »
Devereux turned back toward the females, who were now tangled together and fighting on the ground. Apparently, there had been a werewolf right under his nose, but one who seemed more interested in protecting the boy than in harming him. "Can you do me a favor? Go back inside, find someplace to hide, and don't come out, until someone you trust calls you. Okay?" he asked the boy as he set him back on his feet. He could hear sirens approaching and knew his backup would be here any minute. "I'll make sure nothing happens to Amaris. Go on, now. Hurry!"

Micah looked scared, his eyes worriedly following the ferocious fight for a moment before scurrying back into the daycare center. He was good at hiding; it was one of the games Amaris had played with him a lot.

Meanwhile, the fight between the females had become bloody, teeth and claws viciously tearing into the other - one in an attempt to kill and the other to escape. The rogue female tore into Amaris, claws slashing and teeth snapping, desperate to get free, rather than be caught. She reared her head back, snarling in hatred and rage and baring her teeth to close her jaws on Amaris' throat, before a shot rang out again. Perfect aim once again sent the bullet straight though the female's temple, exiting out the other side, her eyes rolling back in her head as she collapsed lifeless on the ground. It had been a split second opportunity and one he didn't waste. He paused for as long as a heartbeat, as if to make sure the female was truly dead, before he rushed forward to check on Amaris.

Blood was pouring from the bite that had come close to severing a rather important tendon between Amaris' neck and shoulder. She swore, rolling away from the corpse, her hand rising to press down on the injury, eliciting a quietly canine whimper of pain from her throat as she did so. Her eyes focused on Devereux, blazing amber for a brief moment before returning to the dark brown he was more used to.

"Micah," she rasped, trying to push herself up.

He reached to help her to her feet, his arm going around her waist. "Easy, you've lost a lot of blood," he told her. "Micah is safe. I sent him inside and told him to hide." He winced as he turned her head to take a better look at the worst of her wounds. "I don't think it's fatal, but it's pretty serious. Need an ambulance here. And a clean-up crew," he said again to whoever was listening. He had already holstered his sidearm and reached into his pocket for a handkerchief to press against the wound.

"No ambulance," she hissed, shaking her head. "They'll take me to a hospital, hospital will take blood. Not my risk to take. I'll heal, it just doesn't look pretty right now." She drew her hand away to let him take a look at the bite. It was relatively clean, albeit deep, the blood flow slowing now. "Micah shouldn't be alone."

Dev scowled, but didn't argue. "No ambulance," he corrected himself. "Still gonna need a cleanup crew. Can you hold that there?" he asked, regarding the cloth he was holding against her neck. "It probably looks nastier than it is. You're already starting to heal." It seemed she wasn't the first werewolf to ever cross his path. "I'm gonna get you inside, find Micah, and then I gotta clean up this mess, okay?"

Pressing her hand down over the cloth, she started to nod and then thought better of it. "I can get myself inside," she assured him, surprised that he was so calm in the presence of a wolf. "I need to clean up so I don't scare my little dude."

"You gonna be okay?" he asked, obviously concerned. Whatever her motives, she'd risked her own life to protect the boy. That had to count for something, even if she was lycan. He didn't bother to explain who he really was or what his interest was here. It was enough for now that they were both on the same side in protecting the boy.

Amaris let out a huff of breath. "In time," was her answer. It was honest, if not reassuring. "Will you? That was no puppy play fight you witnessed today."

A brief smile flickered across his face at her question. "Not my first dog fight," he told her. "No offense intended. Go on inside. I need to clean up this mess before the coroner arrives."

"I'll find Micah, too," she promised, knowing the boy must be terrified. She'd wait until the spoken of back up arrived before deciding whether or not she was the one who had to call his parents.

It was probably obvious by this point that he wasn't just an ordinary security guard, any more than she was just a daycare worker, but any explanation either might offer the other would have to wait. He let her go, waiting until she was safely inside before turning back to the task at hand.

It was only a matter of minutes for Amaris to clean herself up, slap a bandage on her neck, and change her clothes, after which she found Micah, dutifully hiding in a cupboard in the kitchen, hugging his knees and quietly whimpering in fear. When Devereux's promised back up arrived, she was sitting behind the desk with the boy on her lap - the most defensible place in the center.

Backup arrived in the form of a Federal task force, headed by a tall, dark-haired man who looked like he might have a kind face, if he wasn't so worried. Like a swarm of bees, the Feds found their way to the back of the building, several remaining inside to direct the cops and firefighters who arrived shortly afterward.

"Hey, Micah, my man!" the dark-haired Fed said, his smile sincere but strained with worry. "You okay there, little guy?" he asked, reaching to take the boy from the woman's lap. "It's okay. I'm his uncle. You must be Amaris."

She might have asked for proof, were it not for the way Micah lit up and swarmed happily into the man's arms. Rising to her feet, she was careful not to nod, not wanting to make that wound bleed again, aware that her face and hands were covered in enough scratches to alarm anyone anyway.

"I am, yeah," she agreed. "Do I need to call his parents?"

"They're on their way," he replied. "I'm Adam, by the way. Un'ca Adam to you," he said, tickling the boy's tummy. He didn't want to draw too much attention to what had happened there, knowing how traumatic it might be for the boy. Children were resilient, but trauma was trauma.

Micah giggled, hugging just that little bit tighter to Adam's neck than he might usually have done. "Mumma an' Papa comin'?"

Amaris smiled faintly, hoping her sudden flash of anxiety didn't show too obviously. She had no doubt that the Bristols were about to find out that a werewolf had been helping to care for both their children as they passed through daycare.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2019, 07:13:44 PM »
"Yep, they should be here any ... Oh, look! There's Mummy now!" Adam said, turning the boy so he could see the front door, where his parents were just arriving. Adam winced just a little at the look on Rhys' face. If he didn't know better, he thought his friend might be on the verge of a heart attack.


Nat skidded to a halt in front of Adam, taking Micah into her arms to hug him close. "Oh, solenyshko, you're okay," she murmured, rocking him as the little boy finally burst into tears. "We're here now."

Beside her, Ana was hugging Rhys' hand, looking worriedly up at her brother.

Rhys scooped Ana up into his arms and hugged his family close, close to tears himself. It had been a long time since he'd cried, but thankfully, these were tears of relief. "See, Ana? I told you he's okay." He had to be okay. There was just no way he'd have accepted any other outcome.

The little girl leaned in as Rhys lifted her up and wrapped his other arm about Nat and Micah, draping herself over her little brother's back as they all huddled together. "S'okay, Mischa," she promised the crying toddler. "Papa's gonna get the nasty horrible persons what hurt you."

Behind the desk, Amaris tensed imperceptibly. Hunters were generally not forgiving of other creatures, but this particular hunter was also her superior in a way he was not yet aware of. It was not going to be a fun conversation when that was made clear.

"But not today," Rhys said. Not while his children were there anyway. His first priority was making sure his family was safe. "No more school for the rest of the week," he told them both. Maybe not at all until all the threats to his family were found and taken care of. He smooched one child's cheek and then the other, reluctant to let go. "Never gonna let anybody hurt either of you. I promise," he told them both quietly. It was a promise he'd made to Nat a long time ago and intended to keep.

"Never," Nat agreed, feeling Micah calming even as she raised her eyes to the woman she had known for several years now, ever since Ana had first started going to this daycare. "Thank you for looking after him, Amaris," she said softly. "It must have been quite harrowing." It seemed as though the identity of the friendly werewolf had not quite made its way to the Bristols yet.

"Actually, Amaris here is responsible for keeping Micah safe," Adam interjected. He already knew the secret Amaris was keeping, but was hesitant as yet to reveal it. He thought it might be better if she did so herself, so that the Bristols understood her part in all this.

"I knew I liked you for a reason," Rhys said, sniffling a little as he smiled with gratitude. It was only then he noticed the scraps and cuts and the bandage on her neck that she was unable to hide. "You weren't, um, bitten, were you?" he asked, in sudden alarm.

Amaris' tension ramped up another few notches, her hand rising automatically to cover the bandage. Oh, well, nothing for it. "I was," she told Rhys quietly. "But, in my case, it won't ... change anything." And there it was, that sense of motion stilled - she was ready to run if it proved necessary.

"Umreese made bad lady go ouchie," Micah offered from the bundle of mother and daughter he was still enveloped in.

Rhys furrowed his brows as what she was telling him sunk into his brain and he tried to sort out what it meant. Being bitten by a werewolf meant becoming a werewolf. There were no ifs, ands, or buts about it. There were only a few reasons why someone might not turn. Either she was immune, like him, which was highly unlikely, or ...

He opened his mouth to speak, to ask what he suspected, but whatever it was he was about to say was cut off by Micah and then by Adam.

"She's one of the good ones, Rhys," Adam assured his friend.

"Well, I guess I should thank you then," Rhys said, looking more than a little conflicted.

Nat raised her head, her expression hardening just a little as she caught up with what was being said around her. That gaze focused on Amaris, who backed up a step from the understandably hostile parents.

"A thank you is a waste of breath unless you mean it," she said quietly, aware that she was probably never going to be allowed to see the Bristol kids again now. That hurt more than it should. "I wouldn't expect you to mean it. I'll leave you be." She stepped back again, taking a wide circle around the family to disappear into the break room.

Natalya frowned, uncertain what to make of all this. "Rhys?"

Rhys said nothing through all of this, only watching as Amaris retreated to the break room, but Micah seemed sure. Micah had trusted her, and he couldn't deny the fact that she had saved him. Instead of answering Nat, he turned to Adam, who didn't seem too terribly surprised by this turn of events. "Adam?"

The dreamwalker shrugged. "I've been trying to tell you for years - there are good people and bad people, despite their species." Except for demons. That much went without saying.

Nat hoisted Micah a little higher on her hip, opening her mouth to comment when Ana tugged on Rhys' collar.

"Amaris teached me the hiding game," she informed her father cheerfully. The hiding game had come in handy a few times, after all.

"And me," Micah agreed, cuddled into his mother's side. "An' munch bunch!"

Ana giggled. "Did you do munch bunch today?"

Micah beamed proudly, nodding.

"Munch bunch?" Rhys echoed, confused, glancing toward the break room, where Amaris had retreated. He still had far more questions than answers.

Adam laid a hand on Rhys' shoulder, looking from one to the other. "Go home. Relax. Get some ice cream or something. I'll handle things here and fill you in later." He was more concerned with the children than with Rhys and Nat. They were adults, but he didn't want the children to dwell too long on what had happened here.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2019, 07:14:07 PM »
Ana giggled. "You know, Papa," the little girl insisted. "Amaris says "munch bunch", and you have to bite the nearest person hard as you can and run away!"

Nat's eyebrows made a creditable attempt to disappear into her hairline as she blinked, putting two and two together surprisingly fast. "That ... is actually rather helpful for a small child to know," she admitted, glancing at Rhys. She smiled at Adam. "You know he isn't going to do that, Adam. I will take them home, through the mists."

From the look on Rhys' face, he was still trying to process all this, but it wasn't all going to fit together until he had a conversation with Amaris. "I appreciate the offer," Rhys told his friend, Nat filling in the blanks. His shoulders relaxed for a moment, as Nat seemed to read his mind, but then, that was why they were such a perfect match - she knew his mind without having to ask. He needed to talk to Amaris himself, hear what had happened from her own lips. "Thanks, baby," he told Nat, wrapping his little family in his arms once again. "I'll be there soon." He looked to Ana and Micah. "You be good for your mama, okay? I'll be home in a little while," he promised them both, touching a kiss to each beloved little cheek before pressing his lips to Nat's. "Be careful."

Adam cleared his throat to gently interrupt. "I'll make sure they get there safely," he assured his friend, knowing Nat intended to take the children not home to Brooklyn but to Avalon.

It helped that the majority of the staff and children had already left, since the daycare had been at the center of an attempted kidnapping. What few remained seemed to all be in on the secret of what had actually happened. Nat kissed Rhys gently, leaning into him for a moment as Ana slithered down onto her feet and embraced her mother's backside out of sheer mischief.

"Be careful yourself, milaya," she murmured, not sure quite what to think at this point.

"I will, don't worry," Rhys assured her. So far, he was handling all this very well. Was it the calm before the storm? Probably. He was going to hunt down the pack responsible for trying to hurt his son and tear each one of them limb from limb. "Love you," he said, not just to Nat, but to his son and daughter, too. Two little words that meant so much.

"Lub you, Papa," Micah mumbled, echoed by his sister's rather more enthusiastic response.

Nat smiled, knowing he didn't need to hear her say it to know it was true. "We will see you soon, dusha moya," she promised him fondly. "Well, now, Adam, shall we show you what the inside of the ladies' toilets look like?"

Adam smirked back at her. "Please, do! I don't believe I've ever had the pleasure," he said, his voice trailing off as he led the little family toward the bathrooms.

Rhys only stood there a moment, watching as Adam led them away. In just a few minutes, they'd be safely through the mists, where no one could touch them. He found himself curling his hands into fists and wanting to punch something, someone, but not Amaris. No, it seemed she'd done her best to protect his son, even to the point of getting hurt for it. But why?

The only way to find out was to talk to her. She had gone into the break room, and when he followed, it was to find her standing in front of one of the mirrors, the first aid kit open beside her, carefully disinfecting the obvious bite wound before it closed entirely. The last thing she wanted was to have an infected shoulder. Saliva could be absolutely awful. She caught his eye as the door opened behind her, through the reflection of the mirror.

"If you want to kill me, I wouldn't suggest doing it here. Security cameras are a nightmare to wipe without being caught."

Rhys stood in the doorway a moment, just watching her. "I'm not going to kill you," he said, stepping inside and closing the door behind him. "Here, let me," he said, moving over and holding out a hand for the cloth and the disinfectant. "How long will it take for this to heal?" he asked, either making small talk or merely curious; it was hard to tell.

She studied him for a moment, the familiar face he was more used to seeing wreathed in smiles and teasing his children solemn. Then she handed him the kit, pulling her hair out of his way. Trusting him to help her. "The wound will be closed by morning," she said quietly. "Maybe two days for the bruise to fade completely? We're faster than humans, but we don't have cheats like the blood suckers do."

"But it can still get infected?" he asked, though that much seemed obvious. He assumed that even though a wound might heal, whatever got into the wound could still cause an infection. That was probably how it worked with silver. He dipped the cloth in disinfectant, warning, "This is gonna sting," before gently dabbing the wound clean.

"Yeah, and it takes longer to heal when it's infected," she explained. "You have to break the wound open again to let the pus escape. It's not pretty. And wolves generally don't react well to being feverish, either." She shrugged her good shoulder at his warning, forcing herself not to flinch away from the sting. "I'm not that different from you. I just ... have moments when I feel like I should be wearing three bras at once."

"Hmph," he grunted as he carefully cleaned the wound and then went about just as carefully bandaging it. "I was bitten once. A long time ago. I was just a kid at the time. Hurt like hell. I was feverish for days. My dad locked me up first full moon. He was worried I was going to turn, but nothing happened. It wouldn't have been my fault if I had. I never asked to get bit. I should have turned, but I never did. I don't think they were hoping to turn me though. I was just prey." He frowned as he taped the bandage in place. "I don't know why I'm telling you this. I assume you already know as much. Seems word's gotten out that I'm immune. Not sure about Ana or Micah, but it seems logical they are, too. That's what this is all about, in case you want to know."

Like any canine, her surprise was obvious, tells that included a tilt of her head, a blink of her eyes, a soft whine of sound from her throat. It seemed as though being a werewolf brought more canine traits to the human form than might be expected.

"You're immune?" With the bandage in place, she let her top tuck about it once again, turning to face him. "I had no idea. The Grandmaster just told us to keep an eye on your children; to be ready to protect them. An immunity to the bite does make sense, though."

"The Grandmaster?" Rhys echoed, his turn to blink in surprise. Avalon had placed her there to protect his children? A werewolf? "I think maybe you should start at the beginning," he said, closing the med kit and moving to wash his hands in the sink. No, it wasn't about him being a hunter. Not anymore anyway. It was about those who wanted a cure and those who didn't.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2019, 07:15:28 PM »
She tucked her hands into the pockets of her dungarees, watching him carefully. "The wolves of Avalon aren't really talked about," she said easily enough. "My pack have been among the guardians of Avalon for more than a thousand years. We don't often visit the isle, but we are devoted to the Lady. And under your command, Champion, though I can understand why no one told you about us."

A muscle in Rhys' jaw ticked, but as his back was turned to her, she probably didn't see it. "Do they count vampires among their allies, too?" he asked, unsure how he felt to learn Avalon counted werewolves among their guardians. Then again, who better to protect his children against the threat of lycans but lycans themselves? He turned back to her, not really expecting an answer to his question. What annoyed him most was the fact that he hadn't known. "I should have known. The Grandmaster should have told me."

"If they do, I have never heard of it," Amaris admitted to him. "I doubt they would invite vampires into their circle. A pack is close-knit; we're a family. And a long time ago, one of our human ancestors was a knight of Avalon. Avalon is our family too. Vampires don't feel bonds like that."

Rhys grunted again. "The hell they don't," he muttered. After talking to Tobias, he'd realized vampires were just as loyal to their families, for lack of a better word, as humans and werewolves, so it seemed. "Have a seat," he said, indicating a chair. "You like coffee?" he asked, turning again to check the coffeepot. It was the break room, after all.

"No, I prefer water in a bowl on the floor," she said, her expression absolutely deadpan for a moment before she flashed him the smile that he had seen before. "Yes, I do. Cream and two sugars, if you're making it."

"Hey, not everyone is a fan. Some prefer tea," Rhys said, almost shuddering at the thought. His wife was one of them, but he'd never really become accustomed to the stuff. He ignored the jab at her species, unsure if he should laugh or let it go.

"Hey, uh ... Everything okay in here?" Adam asked, as he poked his head momentarily into the break room. "Nat and the kids are good. I saw them off myself."

Amaris was still smiling, watching Rhys wondering whether or not he was allowed to laugh at her poking fun at her own canine traits. She glanced over at the door as the Federal agent - Adam, that was his name - looked in on them. "We haven't offered to kill each other or set a time and location for a duel to the death, agent."

Rhys rolled his eyes as he reached across the table to hand her a cup of coffee, made just the way she'd asked. "She's one of us," he told his friend, hoping Adam knew what he meant by that, without him having to explain further.

"Oh, nice of them to keep us informed," Adam murmured.

"Thank you." Wrapping her hands about her cup, Amaris glanced between the two men with a low sigh. "Most humans don't even believe we exist," she pointed out to them. "And on the isle, attitudes are such that there would be a panic if  we were to become known of. Our agreement is with the Lady and the Grandmaster. It's their choice whether or not to share it."

"I'm in no position to argue with that," Adam remarked, one foot inside the room and one foot outside the room. "I gotta go see how things are going out back. Are you two gonna be okay in here?" he asked, as though he worried what might happen if he left them alone.

Rhys lifted a hand to his friend to assure him he was fine, a strained smile on his face. "No worries. I'm good."

Adam looked to Amaris to make sure she agreed.

Amaris nodded to Adam in her own turn, somehow managing to make herself look very small as she sat down at one end of one of the couches, hunched over her coffee. There was an air of resignation about her; as though she was expecting to be punished for just doing what she had been placed here to do.

"Okay, I'll be around if you need anything," Adam said, the statement directed to both of them. He looked to Rhys, one final remark before leaving them alone, "Play nice."

Rhys grunted again. "Am I really that scary?" he asked, not expecting an answer.

"I'm not scared." Whether it was an honest question or not, it got an honest answer from Amaris. "But I am the predator in the room. It's bad manners not to make you feel safe around me."

"I'm not as helpless as I look. Champion of Avalon, remember?" he pointed out. "Mind if I sit?" he asked, as he took up a cup of coffee for himself and indicated a chair. "This is all just a bit of a shock. I mean, I appreciate you protecting Micah. Really, I do. I can't thank you enough for that. We knew there were ... What do you prefer to be called? Werewolves? Lycans?"

"Of course, be comfortable." She shifted a little in her seat, trying not to look closed off. "Uh, my grandfather likes to call us lycans, my mother just calls us wolves. Not even werewolves. I kinda follow her example. And I would have protected your boy even without Avalon telling me to. I'd have done that for any of the kids under my care. As soon as wolves walked in, I knew there was trouble coming."

"Wolves?" Rhys echoed. "There was more than one?" He glanced to the door, where Adam had disappeared a moment ago. He'd assumed whoever had attacked his boy was dead, but now he wasn't so sure.

"There were two, a male and a female," Amaris told him. "The male got away, but he won't live long. I'd love to know why our apparently standard security guy had his gun loaded with silver bullets."

"Hm, probably because he's not a standard security guy," Rhys remarked, taking a guess. There was a lot more going on here than he'd thought. "I know Adam had someone undercover here keeping an eye on things, so my guess would be Federal Agent. He didn't give me any specifics."

"I figured he was a Fed when they showed up," Amaris admitted. "He was definitely keeping an eye on Micah. If he hadn't been there to shoot the male, I doubt I would have come out of it with just a bite."

"We knew there was a werewolf - sorry, wolf - working in the daycare center, but we didn't know who or what her intentions were," Rhys told her. "Adam will make sure it doesn't get out that wolves were involved," he assured her. They didn't want a city-wide panic, after all.

"Thank you." She nodded gratefully. "We could do it ourselves, but it would likely not be quite so smoothly done." At this point, she met his eyes straight on. "I was not put here to protect your children," she told him. "I was working here a full year before Ana came to the Oaks. I was just made aware that they were the children of the Champion and the Priestess. Avalon is trying not to directly impact your lives unless it is absolutely necessary."
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2019, 07:15:55 PM »
Rhys took that in, too, and made a quick assumption. "This is your day job, then," he said, knowing she had to pay the bills somehow, even if she was a Guardian of Avalon. "I don't really believe in coincidences though. Someone either led us or led you to this daycare center. My guess is Avalon, but that's beside the point. I'm also guessing the threat is still out there." He paused a moment to take a sip of his coffee, letting the caffeine somehow calm his jangled nerves. "Would you be willing to help us track them down?"

"I suppose you could call it my day job," she conceded, offering a surprisingly cheeky smile as she added, "I own this place. But sure, call it my day job." The smile faded as she considered his words. "I have their scent, I can track them easily now. But they had a number of scents mixed with their own - they're a rogue pack. There's no knowing how many you're up against."

"You own ..." Rhys echoed, his voice trailing off. That was definitely not what he'd expected to hear. He let that go as he focused his attention on what else she was telling him. "I don't care how many," he said, eyes narrowed, letting her see a hint of the rage that was just beneath the surface for those who'd dared try and hurt his son.

He'd call in every favor he'd ever been owed for this one. Hunters, Guardians, Feds, vampires, wolves - he didn't care who. He wouldn't rest until the threat to his family was wiped from the face of the Earth.

"You should care," she countered firmly. "Have you ever seen wolves fight? Really fight? It's ferocious and it's deadly, and you are going to need back up if there are more than three wolves to take down. Will you let me scout it a bit first?"

"Have you ever fought a horde of demons?" Rhys countered, with a straight face. "I have. Besides, I don't plan on doing this alone." Wolves, it seemed, were nothing compared to demons, as far as Rhys was concerned. It wasn't that he was taking the threat lightly - just the opposite, in fact - but he wouldn't rest until it was finished. "But I'm willing to do it your way," he added, with just a hint of a smile.

"You need to know what you're walking into," Amaris told him seriously. "You need numbers, at the very least. I can find them, but if you want, I'll take someone else along with me, someone you trust. And if you need me to, I can tap my pack. I have two brothers and my mother in the city - wider out, we can call in upwards of twenty wolves if you want."

"You'd do that for us?" Rhys asked, more than a little surprised to find wolves who were willing to help hunt down their own kind. His thoughts turned to Tobias and his offer to help with the rogue vampires, and he couldn't help but wonder.

"Just so we understand each other, I'm gonna be completely honest with you," he told her. "It's not just wolves I'm after. It's vampires, too. Another group of rogues. I know your kind hates each other, but we have a common enemy here. Fact is, until a few days ago, I wouldn't have believed your kind could be trusted. Either of you, but it seems I was wrong. I've learned that most of us just want to live in peace, raise our families in peace. We might be different. Under other circumstances, we might even be enemies, but in this we're the same. We want the same things. Maybe, just maybe, we can share this world together; work together; live in peace together. We owe it to our children to try. Because if we can't, what kind of future are we leaving them? What do you say, Umreese? Are you willing to try?"

She held his gaze for a long moment. "I can't speak for my pack without speaking with them first," she warned him. "I can only speak for me. I've never had a bad experience with a vampire, but I do know wolves that have. The first step would be meeting your vampire friends. I can't make any promises beyond that. There is a lot of bad blood between our kind, but for Ana and Micah, I can set it aside."

"Friends?" Rhys asked, reaching across the small distance to offer her his hand. Even if she was a wolf, she was a Guardian of Avalon - a friend and an ally. She had saved his son from only the Gods knew what. Friendship was the least he could offer her.

Her lips twitched, trying not to smile as she felt her tail wagging. In her human form, she didn't have a physical tail, but the reaction of it wagging happily when things were going well was still a very palpable sensation. She reached forward to take his hand.

"Friends," she agreed. "I'll pass the word on to my pack, and I'll scout out your rogues for you. Give me a couple of days. Your wife has my phone number."

"She's in Avalon, but one of us will be in touch," he promised, giving her hand a squeeze. Instead of anger and hatred, he felt a strange sensation well up inside him - hope, gratitude, and maybe just a touch of fondness. For a werewolf, no less. Miracles never ceased to exist. "My son adores you, by the way. Just so you know," he added with a smirk.

Amaris laughed, shrugging innocently. "What can I say? I'm good with pups," she told him cheerfully. "Why else would I open a daycare center?" She chuckled.

"Thank you again," he repeated, a smile on his face - one of warmth and gratitude and friendship, but the moment didn't last long. There was a lot that needed doing, but first, he needed to make sure his family was safe. "I have to be going, but one of us will be in touch." He had a lot to tell Nat, and he knew she wasn't going to like any of it.

"I'm easy to find," she assured him. "I would advise against trying to punch the Grandmaster, though. He's very quick on his feet for a man his age and size."

Rhys chuckled. "I'll keep that in mind," he said as he rose to his feet. Years ago, he recalled suddenly, the Lady had warned him of a threat, but he'd never expected it to be this. "Be careful, Amaris," he told her, just before he ducked out of the room, leaving her alone with her thoughts.

She sat in silence for a minute after he'd left, going back over the conversation. Her grandfather would not be happy about her agreeing to any of this, but he wasn't here. She was pretty sure her brothers and her mother would be fine with it, so long as they weren't expected to become best friends with a vampire. Everything had become very complicated in a matter of hours, but they could handle it. Hopefully.

A knock on the door drew her out of her thoughts. "May I come in?" It was a man's voice, one she might recognize as the supposed security guard who'd helped her take the female wolf down.

And then there was that problem. Amaris rose to her feet, turning toward the door warily. She knew he was armed, and that he was armed with weapons that could kill her. "Sure," was her answer, along with a nod. "Friend or foe?"
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2019, 07:16:18 PM »
The man whose friends called him Dev stepped into the room, a puzzled look on his face at her question. "Friend, I think. Would you rather be enemies?" he asked her, leaving her to decide.

"I don't go out of my way to make enemies," she said, hugging herself warily. "But then, most people I meet aren't armed with the means to kill me with one shot. I don't mean to be unfriendly, but ... silver terrifies me."

"As it should," he replied, drawing his sidearm from the holster, but not to point it at her. Instead, he unloaded it and set it aside, so that there would be no doubt in her mind that he meant her no harm.

She tensed visibly as he drew the gun, but relaxed as he set it to one side. "Thank you." Amaris considered him for a long moment. "I guess this is where we introduce ourselves properly, huh?" She held up a hand, wriggling her fingers in a wave. "Hi, I'm Amaris Shaw. I don't usually tackle women to the ground and try to tear out their throats, but she'd earned it."

"I know who you are," he said, with a hint of a smirk. What kind of agent would he be if he didn't, after all? "Duncan Devereux," he said, exchanging her introduction with one of his own. "My friends call me Dev. I should probably explain."

"Yeah, you should," she agreed with a faint smile. "Because carrying a gun around toddlers and infants? That's a big no in my daycare." Her expression made it clear that she wasn't mad about this, but only because his gun had saved her life. She was more annoyed that he hadn't made himself known to her when he'd taken the job.

"Sorry, but being undercover means being undercover," he explained, moving to pour himself a cup of coffee, just as the man before him had, only there wasn't any left, so he set about making a fresh pot. "I hate to sound clichéd, but what I'm about to tell you is Top Secret."

"Yeah," Amaris drawled in amusement. "I'm not supposed to exist, so I think you can trust me to understand about secrecy." She smirked, watching him move around the little kitchenette.

"Yeah, well, I know all about secrets," Dev replied, turning to face her, while he waited for the coffee to brew, arms crossed against his chest. "You've probably already figured out that I'm a Federal Agent. I'm part of a special task force that deals with the supernatural. Sort of like the X-Files, but without the aliens."

"It makes sense," she said thoughtfully, absentmindedly brushing her fingertips against the hot, bruised feeling beneath the bandage at her neck. "Why are you undercover here, though? Am I being watched?"

"No, not you," he replied. "Well, I mean, we knew there was a lycan working at the daycare center, but we weren't sure who, and we weren't sure if they were friend or foe. I was here to find out ... and to keep an eye on the boy. We knew there was a threat, but that's all we knew. Personally, I would have preferred not to involve the boy at all, but it all happened too fast." He glanced at the bandage on her neck, knowing how close she had come to being another casualty. "You did a good thing, Amaris. It's very possible you saved that boy's life."

"You thought the threat might be the wolf working here," she extrapolated, rolling her eyes at the obvious conclusion, however wrong it was. "No, I did save Micah's life. And you saved mine. So, thank you, Dev. I owe you a beer."

Dev shrugged, smiling. "How about I take you to dinner instead, and we can call it even?" he asked, that smile turning into a smirk. Was he asking her on a date? Absolutely. Why not? So what if she was lycan? She had been willing to put her life on the line for the sake of a human child. In his book, that made her a hero.

Amaris' smile rose automatically in response, her eyes lighting up with surprised pleasure. "Well now, I wasn't expecting that," she confessed cheerfully. "Even knowing what I am? You're pretty ballsy." And rather handsome too, in his own way. It was certainly a way that appealed to her, anyway. "So when are we going out?"

He gave her a one-shouldered shrug. "I might work with a unit that investigates supernatural events, but that doesn't mean I'm prejudiced against preternaturals. There are a lot of things in this world that we don't understand. Learning to understand each other helps us all get along." He turned to check on the coffee. "As for your other question, how about we contemplate that while I drive you home?"

"Well, I think we're both here until your team are finished with the place," she pointed out. "I'd rather stay to lock up than be called back in, and I'm pretty sure you're on a break right now. If you want to take me home ... sure, why not?"

"I'll take that as a yes," Dev said, that smirk on his face again. "This is liable to take a while though. Are you sure you want to stay?" he asked, knowing it would be at least a few more hours before they wrapped everything up. He didn't even want to start thinking about the amount of paperwork he wasn't going to have to finish once that was done.

She sighed. "I've got work of my own I have to do," she admitted. "A lot of parents to call and apologize to, for a start. The joys of being the owner no one actually realised was there."

Dev's expression turned serious. "None of this was your fault or your doing. They'll understand that, eventually. Actually ..." He couldn't help but smirk a little again. "As far as they're all concerned, a fire broke out in the break room. Nothing serious, but enough to close the place for repairs for a few days." The smile faded as he sobered, once again. "Seriously, Amaris. No one has to know what really happened here." The only flaw in his plan was Nora, who'd already been sent to the hospital for evaluation, but so long as she hadn't seen anything, he was sure they could convince her of just about anything.

"I'm hardly going to tell them that a child was attacked by werewolves on my watch," she pointed out in a drawl. "No, I was just going to give them the schpiel about safety first, and recommend a few friends who should be able to take on extra kids for a couple of days without notice."

"Someone might have heard gunshots, but we can explain that away, too. It's kind of what we do," Dev promised, glad she was willing to do this his way. There was no reason anyone needed to know what had really happened here. "I'd like to say it's over, but it's not," he added, turning grim. "I'm assuming there are more where those two came from," he said as he poured himself a cup of coffee.

"Yeah, there are." There was no need to keep that a secret, after all; he'd worked out that there was more going on here than an opportunistic attempt to kidnap a child. "But there's already plans in place to start dealing with that."
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Duncan Devereux

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« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2019, 07:17:23 PM »
"Good. You can count me in," he said, turning back and claiming a seat, his cup of coffee resting on the table in front of him. She wasn't going to be able to talk him out of it either. It wasn't just because of his connection to Adam either. He was part of this now, whatever this was, and he was going to see it through to the end.

"Without even knowing what you're volunteering for?" she asked, half-bemused and half-impressed. She sat down opposite him, watching him curiously. "What do you think is going on here?"

"What do I think or what do I know?" he countered, unsure which she wanted from him or how much she herself was aware of.

"What you know," she said. "Let's start with that, anyway." They might only know as much as each other, but she had a feeling she knew a little more about the wolf side of the equation here.

Everyone, it seemed, had their secrets. They were no different. He was willing to share some of them, but perhaps not all. He knew Adam wasn't telling him everything, and that was okay. He only needed to know where to find those responsible for trying to hurt Micah. Silver bullets would take care of the rest. "I know there's a pack of wolves who want to take out the Bristols. I don't know why. I don't need to know why. It's my job to protect the public at large. I took an oath to do just that, and I take that oath seriously," he told her.

The word she used was definitely not a word that should be spoken around small children. "I ... did not know that they were in direct danger," she said, rolling her eyes as she shook her head, inwardly cursing Avalon's habit of playing things entirely too close to the chest. "I can't tell you why, it's not my secret to tell you. What I can tell you is that I'm going to be scouting out that pack and finding out how many they are."

"Alone?" he asked, the only thing he said for a long moment, brows arched upwards. She was a daycare worker, and yet, she was also a wolf. "I'm willing to help, if you'll let me," he said, though he wasn't sure how much help he could be. She was lycan; he was just a man, but a man who wasn't afraid to do whatever needed to be done.

"Hmm ..." She considered this thoroughly. "You know, that might actually work. They'd know me for a wolf the second they smelled me, but most humans carry the scent of wolves they've met without knowing it. You could probably get pretty close without alerting them."

"That sounds like a plan," he said, grinning back at her, pleased she was letting him help. He had no delusions about that; he knew she could just as easily have refused him. "We'll work out the details later. Not over dinner," he added, still grinning.

She laughed, leaning back in her seat. "Oh, so you have a plan for this dinner, huh?" Brown eyes danced with amusement as she looked over at him. "You do know I'm supposed to be paying you back for saving my life, right? I don't see how you taking me to dinner does that."

"Maybe I'm paying you back for saving the boy's life," Dev countered, though he didn't think it was his place to really do that. He exhaled a sigh. "Look, it's just dinner, okay? We'll see where it goes from there." If it went anywhere.

She sobered, her smile fading. "Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you." Glancing toward the window, she chewed on her lip for a moment. "I guess I should make a start on those phone calls."

"You didn't offend me," he reassured her, narrowing his eyes at her a moment, as if wishing he could read her thoughts. "Is it so hard to believe that a man - a human - wants to take you to dinner? It's not forbidden or anything, is it?" he asked, curiously.

"No, it's just ..." It was her turn to sigh, softening the sound with a smile in his direction. "You saw me turn feral. You saw me part-shifted, and you still want to take me to dinner? It's a lot to take in. Most men wouldn't react half so calmly to a woman who can grow claws and fangs on demand."

Dev shrugged again, a small smirk on his face. "And you saw me kill one of your own kind with a silver bullet. I'd say that makes us even." The smirk faded, as he turned serious. "Do you know how hard it is to find someone who won't freak out to know all of this isn't just a load of B.S.?" he asked, with a wave of his hand to indicate what had just gone down there.

"Oh, I'm freaked out by the bullets," she assured him, "but I get it. Just ... it's a scary thing to meet a human who knows what would kill me and has it on hand. Most humans with that knowledge would not hesitate to shoot me, because that's what they do."

"I'm not most humans," he reminded her, but he knew she had a lot to do yet, and so did he, so he moved to his feet, taking his cup of coffee with him. "I'm going to be a few hours yet. Let me know if you need anything, okay?"

"I will," she agreed. "I'm not going anywhere." Rising to her feet herself, she moved to pour a fresh cup of coffee before heading for the door in his wake. "You let me know if you need anything, okay?"

"Yes, ma'am," he replied, a charming, almost roguish smile on his face. Why wasn't he spoken for already? She'd have to ask him if she wanted to know. He joined her at the door, parting ways until later, both of them with work of their own that needed doing. It was going to be a long day.
"The function of wisdom is to discriminate between good and evil."

- Marcus Tullius Cicero