Chapter 75: Fallout
Vampires did this and left her here in hopes we found her. The blood is fresh, I can smell it, the kill is
still warm, and I can still feel the traces of her heat and her scent around me as though her soul still
lingers. Feel the ebbing away of her emotions and fears in the air around us because they are still so
recent and my gift homes in, tortured by what I can feel. They knew we were looking for her and yet
they waited until we were close enough to kill her completely and I don’t understand why.
Was this a game to them? It feels like they were luring us out here this far for fun and I look around
trying to sense if this might be a trap with so many of our kind out here, but there’s nothing. The vamps
have retreated and gone and only the chaos they have caused is left behind in the air around us. No
hint or traces that they are close in anyway and not even the feeling of eyes observing.
“Meadow… take Carmen and Lorey back to the house. They don’t need to be here for this.” Colton
yanks my focus back to him as he instructs, and Meadow appears behind me like a sudden shadow. I
note that all the other packs are now flooding in to where we are, so we’re grouped as one unit once
more. Obviously Colton linked them, and Carmen’s scream brought them zoning right in. Colton has
lifted up to pull the trembling figure with him to their feet and I look away quickly as he hauls her into
another hug soothingly and let’s her weight rest against him. That stirring of dislike growing like a warm
ember in my belly even though I know he’s only being compassionate. He’s being the Alpha, and this is
no time for feeling threatened.
“Come on you.” Meadow leans in to take charge of Carmen in Colton’s arms and I realize tears are still
washing down my face as I stare at them again in stupefaction. Cooling my skin as the air turns them
from warm to icy cold. Hating myself that I feel inner warm relief when she’s taken from my mate’s
embrace and blush with shame at my own selfishness. I’m so stupidly possessive of him sometimes
that it’s not admirable.
The shock of what we have in front of us comes back into view as I stare in the direction of chaos and it
pushes my own emotions to quiet as Meadow guides Carmen past me. She seems to snap at the
sudden release of his arms and makes a dart for the remains of body once more in blind hysteria. A
painful sob escaping her lips, but this time I am faster and she’s closer to me than him. Meadow is
startled by her sudden change of direction so that she loses grip for a second and I flash my hand up,
catching her in the air, holding her steady and pulling her around, lifting her from her feet and back
towards me. As soft as air and making her fly with my ability.
My gift never fails me, and I glide her to my side and hold her there as she gently meets ground once
more, wide and eyed and still after what I just did to her. The shock silences her completely and I
release her once Meadow gets a grip on her hand and wrist in a way that signals she won’t get loose a
“Carmen go home with Meadow.” Colton alpha tones her again, leaving no room for a second error and
she reluctantly turns on her heel. Her skin white and damp, her eyes empty and blurred and her whole
body sags with sheer misery. Her whole aura is that of grief.
“Lorey… come here, baby.” Colton moves to me, bringing my attention back to him as he pulls me into
his arms and nuzzles me close. With one moment of attentive affection, he wipes away my brewing
green eyed monster and gives me the kind of hug that no one else gets. The ‘I need you’ embrace that
sweeps me up into him and holds me tighter than he held her, while burying his face in the crook of my
neck. Warming my skin with his deep exhale before pulling up to look me in the eye again. I melt like
liquid with his touch and allow him to wipe away my tears with gentle fingers. I can feel his own despair
at what has happened, and it weighs on me heavily. “We need to bury her. We can’t leave her like this.
Go home and wait for me there, where it’s safe, and warm, and see if you can help her… somehow. I
don’t even know how. You’ve been through the loss of your mother, maybe you can …” Colton trails off
at a loss, squeezes me tight, kisses me softly and wipes away the rest of my tears for me as I hug him
back. Aware that most of the wolves are now moving in to see what’s been done and a couple rush to
the bushes to vomit. Not all wolves can stomach things like this, and I’m actually shocked that I am not
one who had to throw up on smelling and seeing this. Maybe these months and what happened before
have numbed a part of me more than I gave it credit for.
“I love you.” I breathe hastily, that inner insecurity peeking out at me because I am sometimes still that
unworthy girl he rejected. I give him a second kiss, more of a grazing of lips and he nestles his
forehead to mine in the way he does when he’s trying to reassure me. Maybe this time he needs me to
ground him, his emotions are definitely on the needier and cast loose side than mine are.
“I can’t believe I let this happen. I feel like I failed her….. Sun’s coming, so we can do this right and lay
her to rest. I owe it to Carmen and her mom to treat her with the respect of the pack….. Take two
wolves as guards and go catch Meadow and get home. Don’t hang around, especially not this far
outside the borders. I don’t want you around this or helping. You shouldn’t be near this… I love you,
baby. Go home for me.” He sighs heavily and tightens his arms around me once more, craving me yet
needing me to leave him for now. I can feel his conflicted feelings and make it easier by letting him go
with a nod.
Colton lets me loose and nods to two guards who appear beside me in the now dim and less dark light.
I note he’s sending the two who threw up, sensing neither will be any good at helping with what he has
to do. They stand patiently and obediently wait for me to move.
“With many wolves digging it should be fast and then….” He sighs knowing he has to somehow get that
mess buried in some kind of respectful way and I nod, knowing what he’s thinking. I don’t envy the task
of clearing this up and putting every piece of her and her blood in the ground to honor our ways. He
may have to scorch the landscape and burn the surrounding landscape t properly send her soul to the
Taking one last much needed hug to try and calm my distraught heart I turn on my heel to go but pause
a second. Knowing I should catch up and stay close to Meadow, even if my powers make me more
capable than most wolves but something crosses my mind.
“I’ll ask the Shaman to start preparing a ceremony. Help Carmen with closure and allow her time to
grieve. Give the pack a proper funeral service to grieve a kin member…… Tawna’s mate?” I ask
absentmindedly, knowing that Carmen maybe needs to grieve two parents and not one and we should
give her that, even if he’s not someone we should remember. Colton’s face tenses and he signals yes
with the slightest of head movements that makes my heart sink even further.
“Dead, the second her heart ceased to beat. My dad will be in chaos on the mountain too as he just lost
his second in command. Her death wasn’t for nothing but…. I would rather her here with us, than my
father losing some control. Ask the Shaman to mention them both, but only honor Tawna. This is for
her, not them.” Colton’s eyes are filled with unshed tears once more and I can only bite on my lip and
agree with a nod, again crying softly despite the overwhelming empty and numb coursing through my
veins. All of this just feels so overwhelmingly awful that my brain can’t process sit at all. There’s a dark
heaviness taking over me that I know is sadness and I can barely breathe. I can’t imagine how carmen
feels right now.
“Stay safe, don’t be long.” I add in haste, one last glimpse of his disheveled face and take off after
Meadow with my two guards in tow, making light of the distance in hyper speed. I try and focus on
doing rather than feeling and aim to catch up.
I won’t be. I’ll follow once this done. Stay safe, Baby. Knowing your home will make me feel better
about being here. Colton’s voice follows me and in such a short time I manage to catch up to Meadow
running with Carmen, although not at full speed as Carmen seems to be struggling to pull herself
together. I slow as I get to them and pull up on the free side of Carmen’s sagging posture, pulling her
arm into mine and holding her up a little. Her body is icy cold, giving off a wave of devastation around
her and she doesn’t even flinch at my touch.
She’s sobbing, staring blankly ahead as her feet stumble over debris she isn’t trying to avoid, and
Meadow is struggling to keep her on her feet, casting a glance at me that says ‘she’s a mess’.
Overwhelming empathy runs over me, both from her and my own internal emotion piping up at the
sorrowful state of Carmen. I wish she didn’t see what she saw and I don’t blame Colton for tackling her
and holding her tight. No one needs to see someone they love end that way and it will forever haunt
her. Knowing her mom’s last moments were in terror and agony and untold suffering before she took
her last breath.
What are we going to do with her when we get her home? Meadow breaks into my thoughts in a private
link and I try and sort my own emotions from the two invading next to me. Carmen’s despair is so
strong I’m finding it hard to keep my own logic and mind straight.
Take her to the med bay, maybe Doc Maigo can give her something to relax her and make her calm
down, I don’t know. The homestead looms into sight and the rustle behind us of the following guards
alerts me that they are still close and keeping watch over us. I turn and glimpse over my shoulder as I
feel the physical change in the air of us crossing the frequency boundaries and the static sizzle of
safety that means we no longer need assistance. We’re safe.
“Go back and help. We don’t need you now. More hands make swifter work. Sun isn’t up yet and there
are dangers for our pack out there.” I order and get two unquestioned nods as both males turn and take
off back towards my mate and my people in a gust of breeze as they hyper speed away.
Meadow gets tired of dragging Carmen and stops to hoist her over her shoulder in an unresisted
maneuver and frees our clumsy deadweight. She takes off in front of me at speed and I follow, running
and skipping through the last half mile of forest floor and fallen trees until we end up on the illuminated
gravel drive. More wolves are out here, some of the less capable sentinel guards which were left
behind, so the house was not completely unprotected, and some from the village have ventured out to
find out what’s going on. Mostly concerned males worried their families are in danger because news
spread fats that most of the capable had spread into the woods to chase Tawna.
“Everything is okay…. Go back to your homes and we will call a meeting for the whole village before
noon. To explain. The pack will be home shortly and there’s no need to worry about them, sun’s
coming, and all is quiet now.” I announce as loudly as I can before following Meadow indoors and we
head straight for the sick room. I know those who heard me will pass the message on and I hope it
brings some calm back to those left behind.
We have twenty-four seven staff in our medical bay because we never know when we may need it so I
am relieved to see the Doctor and a nurse coming to Meadow’s aid. Since moving here to damper air,
the children have been getting sick sometimes, and with playful fearless wolf cubs, they injure
Carmen has stopped fighting at all, in any kind of way and seems to have ceased responding
emotionally. Silent, numb, and staring at nothing as she’s manhandled like a wet rag and does nothing
to stop us. It’s like her mind has left the building and all that’s left is a broken empty shell of shock and I
wonder if life finally played that last hand at her that snapped what was left of her mental strength.
I walk behind Meadow; Carmen’s body is limp, her face partially concealed by her masses of blonde
hair but there’s a heavy ambience of surreal calm because she is so motionless. Her sobbing has
stopped and it’s like all her energy is gone. She’s defeated and broken and despite our past I have
never felt so much sorrow and pain for anyone as I do in this moment. Maybe it’s because I know what
it’s like to lose your parents in one fell swoop, your whole family, when they were all you have. Maybe
it’s because I too witnessed the horrifying death by vampire of my home family of rejects and still live
with the memory of their blood and bodies scattered across the ground, much like we found Tawna.
Either way, my heart pangs for the girl before me and I internally cry for her pain.
Vampires are ruthless and brutal killers. They leave mess and chaos and rip their victims to shreds
when the frenzy to feed takes them. In the case of wolves, they can’t drink too much of our blood or it
kills them, and it somehow makes the murder more violent. They tend to leave nothing but remains
spread across the countryside when they battle our kind. An act of violence purely because they hate
“Luna Alora, it’s my pleasure. How may I assist.” The doctor gracefully moves towards Meadow who is
rolling Carmen from her shoulder onto the bed and flops her back against cushions. Carmen has no
fight in her, her skin ashen and her eyes are red rimmed yet lifeless as she continues to silently gaze
into the air. Her mind somewhere far away. Tears roll down her pale cheeks sorrowfully as the warm
voice smooths over her, showing a hint of acknowledgement she hears her, but she stares at the
ceiling regardless. I gesture the doctor aside and pull her close with a hushes tone.
“Her mother was killed in the forest by vampires tonight…. she saw the remains….. it was traumatizing.
Both her parents are now dead. She needs emotional help to get through the shock and despair tonight
until this sinks in and she’s more able to process what’s happened.” My voice trembles as I push the
memory aside and focus on the task at hand.
“I’ll sedate her for now. Let her sleep, as it might be the last she gets for some time when she wakes
up. I’m so sorry.” The doctor is one of our gentler femmes, with compassion and a big heart. She
trained with humans in a medical university and learned a lot about mental health and ways to deal with
human reactions to certain things. Death to wolves is not as normal as humans, so our grieving can be
completely horrific when we do lose someone we love. I guess that’s the downside to being almost
unkillable and having long life spans.
The doctor moves aside as Meadow comes to my side and they switch places. The doctor checking
over Carmen and wiping her tears away as she checks her pulse, and temperature and generally looks
her over. Meadow sighs heavily and casts me an intense look that translates to ‘I feel helpless, I wish I
could do something’. Despite her history with carmen, Meadow is still a caring wolf and wouldn’t wish
this on anyone, even her. I nod knowing this is exactly how I feel, and I gesture her further from the bed
in a bid to give them space to let the Doctor do what she needs to do.
“Doc is going to let her sleep; we should take it in turns to sit by her until she’s more with it. I’ll ask
sierra too, maybe for a few days we can rotate and switch out femmes to comfort and support her. So
she’s not alone.” I don’t know what else to do as I was so young and surrounded by grief when I lost
my own family that it was completely different. We have been at peace for years so the horror of losing
our people isn’t as numbed out as it was a decade ago. I have no experience of how to comfort
someone else in this way when I was never comforted in any kind if way at all.
“Luna Alora, Luna Alora!” A wolf bursts into the med bay startling us out of our huddled somber and
makes me jump with the speed and urgency in which he shot in. We spin on him, glaring to pipe down
seeing as he startled the crap out of everyone.
“What is it?” I ask in a harsh tone, hating how panicked he looks and the raised high pitch of a
distressed tone coming through his words. My stomach churning in unease at this interruption and my
gut instantly tells me something is off.
“Come quickly, there’s something … in the air.” He throws his hands up, look somewhat confused and
“What?” Meadow and I exchange glances and follow him at speed, leaving Carmen with the doctor and
her capable care and speed outside to the main entranceway of the drive to see what he’s talking
Sure enough, just like he said there’s some sort of green smog in the air in the far distance of the
mountain, which seems to be rolling down and into the forest at great speed like a heavy blanket sliding
over the landscape. It’s like smoke, or a dense cloud and the rate it’s moving is alarmingly fast and
swallowing all things in sight wherever it slides.
Colton something is coming towards the pack…. a fog. Get back here NOW!! I link rapidly, in panic and
fear, reaching out to my mate in case he hasn’t looked up and seen it heading his way. I don’t know
what it is, but all my senses are telling me they should get the hell away from it and get back here to
safety behind the rune border.
“What the hell is that, Chica?” Meadow stares at the same thing I am fixated on and we watch in horror
as it splays out and spreads sideways through the forest, expanding as it travels and encompassing
everything as it moves. It seems to extend and move widthways until it starts to curve around the
homestead at a distance and still continues to head this way. It seems to be grower larger and denser
and picking up speed.
We see it, we’re moving. It’s fast as hell and almost here. I have them heading back. Colton quiets
some of my anxiety by responding and I will him to get here. Whatever it is it’s not natural and the way
it came down from the mountain raises all kinds of alarms. We long ago figured the vamps use the
mountain to stay close enough to mount attacks, maybe have tunneled inwards, and they definitely use
it as a vantage point to look over the lands surrounding. We know they have witches, and I don’t like
whatever this is, even if it might be nothing more than a harmless strange colored fog.
Colton it’s spreading. It’s taking over the forest and circling us. My mind link doesn’t hide the panic in
my voice, and it wobble uncontrollably, my heart racing as all I can do is watch this monster smog eat
our landscape so effortlessly.
Stay in the homestead boundary. It may be a way to let the vamps move in daylight now the suns
coming up. Stay behind the runes. We’re coming.
I grab Meadow’s hand in a tight grip as we watch and I can tell by her fixated gaze on the fog she’s
linking Cesar, checking on her mate as it moves at us with deadly haste. It feels like an eternity and not
the few seconds it’s been in reality. Both poised, numbly quiet and just waiting.
Where are you now? Colton, how far?
I tap my foot on the ground, aware my feet are human again, naked, and I’m standing on gravel but
oblivious to the pain. My only focus is them, my heart and soul out there who needs to come to me so I
can be sure he’s safe.
Not far, it’s almost……
I wait for him to finish his sentence then glance at Meadow again as nothing comes. She screws up her
face indicating something is up with her link to Cesar too. I can feel it between us, the swirling rise of
concern and panic as we both wait out this endless silence.
Colton? What were you trying to say. I ask, waiting patiently but no response at all comes through the
link. Instead, an eerie solitude that I haven’t experienced for a long time, not since Colton cut me off
many moons again when he rejected me swirls around me. It starts to dredge up my inner anxiety with
a fury as I pull at my mind to make the connection but feel like I’m facing a blank dark wall. Meadow
moves forward and she stares at the tree line, seemingly trying to concentrate real hard and I realize
she maybe too has lost her link to Cesar. This is not a coincidence.
“He’s not responding anymore.” I point out, distress rising in my throat and I watch as she moves as far
to the edge of the trees as she dares. Her face stiff, her eyes wild and dampening by the second as
hysteria rises in her and points ahead suddenly with a shaking finger.
“I think I can see them in the woods….. moving fast but the fog it’s with them, all around them.”
I move beside her, my heart lurching into my throat and stare as far as I can see into the woods and
strain to distinguish in the dim light of dawn. The woods are dense but she’s right and I spot dark
shadows in semi wolf form hammering this way like lightning and sigh with relief. Exhaling heavily as
my body loosens lightly and I almost laugh as emotions swirl and cave in indescribable joy.
“Maybe the fog stops the gifts, like the frequency does?” I point out and Meadow shakes her head and
points out into the shadows.
“I could have sworn some are turned and in wolf form so surely that means their gifts are fine. We need
to get closer to the boundary, something is stopping them from getting closer, it’s been too long…. look,
they haven’t come nearer.” I stop my inward rejoicing and turn and look where she’s gazing to see for
myself that she’s right. Despite being close enough to leap home in under a second, they aren’t
appearing beyond the rune border but instead seem to be lingering on the other side of it. I move
beside her and nudge her.
“We don’t need to. Here.” I lift my hands, flattening them palm to palm and point forwards as though
slicing into the forest and slowly move them apart, splitting the trees and pushing foliage and branches
back with my gift. Clearing a passage of sight so we can view all the way to the border of the boundary.
A tunnel of unrestricted vision where I can see the fog has met the border and seems to be rolling up
into the invisible protective wall and climbing higher to get past it. It’s smothering all beyond in a dense
haze which makes it hard to really see anything.
Sierra’s family magic is keeping it back but it’s completely clouding our wolves from sight with the thick
fog and we can’t see any of them coming our way.
“Why aren’t they coming?” I ask numbly, fear slowly dwindling around me once more and I know if
Colton could link me, he would. He isn’t able to. We have a break in communication because whatever
that stuff is it’s doing something to keep them out there.
“I have to go look; I can’t leave them out there in this with no contact.” Meadow’s voice breaks, her
tears becoming evident as she loses the will to hold them in anymore, her own emotions stifling me.
Her love for her mate and her pack reigning supreme and I can’t argue with her. My need to know
Colton and my pack are okay overwhelms me too, and I walk past her, against Colton’s wishes, and
head to the tunnel I am still holding apart. Meadow follows without question, without hesitation, both
holding our breath in anticipation and we carefully, slowly, walk the long distance until we come almost
level with the smog.
“Look” Meadow points up and we see from this angle how it’s risen more than thirty feet up, still
blocked by our protective barrier and doesn’t seem to be able to climb any higher. Instead, it’s travelling
the entire perimeter of the boundary, spreading, and looking back I see it’s far behind the other side of
the homestead at an equal distance. Surrounding us on all sides and leveling itself off, but it can’t pass
the rune border and it’s still too dense to make out the pack out there among the trees.
For the time being, we’re cut off, with no links, no visual and I stand here motionless unsure what we
are meant to do.