Okay guys, third time's the charm! I've posted this chapter once this morning, and once this afternoon, and both times after I hit published they disappeared. Hope this one gets to you in one piece!
Dedication goes out to ballislifegirl11 winner of the Fastest Reader Award! Speech! Speech! Speech! Also, special mention goes to CourageDontDesertMe for coming in close second, and to kiishi5ade for commenting just as I was going to post this!
"Saf, you can't take them both on," Zara argues, grabbing my wrist. "You'll get yourself killed."
Her whispered words get louder and louder, until I have to put a finger to my lips to remind her to be quiet. Zara quickly lowers her voice, but it's already too late.
I turn a panicked look at our attackers. Surprise is the only element we have on our side, and if they realize what we're about to do before we have a chance to act, it's over. If they attack us now, before we're ready, we're doomed.
To my relief, the white and gray wolf have stopped circling us, and have moved back to the edge of the clearing. They're lying down on opposite sides—one to my left and one to my right—both keeping an eye on us as they wait for further instructions. Beta and older brother have moved further back, too, and are carrying on a whispered conversation. I'm curious to know what they're saying—and how it affects us—but I can't really hear at this distance. At least if I can't hear them, they probably can't hear us. That only leaves the Rogue kid, who's pacing angrily back and forth. He seems even more curious than I am about the conversation between his older brother and Beta. He keeps moving closer and closer to them—obviously trying to listen in—which means he's paying absolutely no attention to us.
"I have to do this," I whisper. "This is our only chance."
Nicki's lower lip trembles. "You can't."
"Nicki," I turn to face her, "you need to focus on running as fast as you can. Understand?"
"But what if..." Nicki looks absolutely terrified, poor thing.
"Just do your best, okay Nick? That's all I'm asking."
"Okay." Nicki nods bravely and I want to throw my arms around her and give her a huge hug. Except we don't have time for that—we have to act now, before they suspect anything.
"Don't look back. Just shift and run. The sooner you reach Alpha and get help..." I trail off. "Just go as quickly as you can. We're counting on you."
"I will." Nicki straightens her shoulders. "I promise."
"You can do it, Nicki," Nisha chimes in, squeezing her hand.
"Yeah, we believe in you," Joshie adds, placing his own hand on top of Nicki's and Nisha's joined hands.
Then Zara gives her a hug and Jess whispers a quick good luck, and I start to worry our attackers will start to notice.
"Is everyone Ready?" I ask and wait for them to nod. "Good, now take off your backpacks." The last thing I need is for one of us to get stuck after we shift.
"Oh, right," Zara mutters and moves to pull off her bag. The others instantly scramble to do the same, and the noise of them moving as one is so loud my heart nearly explodes. Have they never fought of Rogues before?
"Stop!" I snap in a loud whisper. "Slowly, so they don't notice."
"Sorry," Zara whispers back. "Come on, Nicki, let me help you first."
I follow her lead and help Joshie with his bag while Jess helps Nisha. When the kids are done, we slowly remove our own backpacks, sending surreptitious glances at our attackers the whole time.
"Okay, good," I say when we're all finally done. "Now, on three. One...." We all tense. "Two..." The tension grows, until it's almost like electricity traveling between us, holding our group together. "Three," I shout, and push off the grass and start running.
I shift in mid-air, tearing my clothes to shreds. They burst at the seams and fall off me in a tattered mess, underwear and all. I am too focused on attacking to feel embarrassed about the bra and panties now lying in the middle of the clearing, but I do feel bad about ruining Zara's clothes. My own baggy sweats and t-shirt may be ugly, but at least they always survive when I have to suddenly shift. It's honestly no wonder Zara owns so many clothes, if she ends up losing entire outfits every time she faces a Rogue.
I don't know why these weird thoughts about clothes race through my head as I close the rest of the distance separating me and Beta. Thankfully, when I'm about a foot away, I focus on the fight ahead of me and aim straight for his throat. I think I might actually luck out and kill him, but he moves to the right at the last second. I try to follow, but I miss and end up tearing a chunk out of his left shoulder instead. I mean a literal chunk of skin covered in blood, which I promptly spit out.
The feeling of my wolf's teeth piercing skin sends a shiver of disgust down my spine and I nearly gag. It's not the first injury I've ever inflicted on a Rogue, but that doesn't mean I enjoy the rubbery feel of torn human skin or the metallic taste of blood. I am used to it, though, so at least I'm still able to keep my lunch down.
Beta doesn't barf all over the place either, even when he takes in his missing flesh, but his shrill cry of pain suggests he's still not doing so well. He grabs at his open wound, giving me the perfect opportunity to attack again—an opportunity to kill—but I know I can't take it. Not if I want to keep the older brother occupied so he can't go after Nicki.
My back's already unprotected, giving the other wolf the perfect chance to attack, and I quickly whirl my head around. Luckily, the older brother's pretty slow to react and is still in human form. I quickly push off Beta's chest with my hind paws and lunge at him, aiming for his throat. I expect him to shift or try to move out of the way, but he holds up his arm in self-defense instead. It's a stupid move on his part, and clamp my jaw around it and bite down, hard.
With a cry of pain, the older brother shifts, and I almost choke again when I come away with a chunk of fur coated in blood. Gross! I spit it out, and then spit again—which isn't easy when you're a wolf—and try dislodge the vile taste from my mouth. It's even worse than Beta's shoulder, and I wonder how I always force myself to bite down when I know this will be the end result. I guess it's not like I really have a choice.
So, what do you think of Saf now?
Were you super grossed out? I kind of was!
And what did you guys think of this chapter? Did you like it? Love it? Hate it?
Is there anything you hope to see more of in future chapters?
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