“I like a man who grins when he fights,”
Joseph’s car lumbered through the heavy snow on the trail through the canyon. Joseph, Tristan and Israel peeled their eyes in search of any trail that may indicate Saren after they found her car at the opening of the path. The snow fall had resurged and fell in a heavy white blanket veiling any hint that they may have found.
“How long have we been at this?” Israel asked with a tinge of panic in his voice, “It feels like we’ve been at this a while,”
“Dude, calm the fuck down,” Tristan reprimanded, pointing at the clock in the car’s dashboard, “It’s been five minutes, relax,”
Israel sighed as he looked out his window again, wringing his hands in worry and wincing again as he remembered his sore joints. He pulled his lucky coin out of his coat pocket and began fidgeting with it. Joseph snatched it out of Israel’s hands and pocketed it as a way of telling him to ‘sack up’.
Joseph said nothing, possessed of rage as he was. After taking the road out of town he did not speak. He just kept his eyes looking out of his windshield for the one that lied to him and his friends.
A scream resonated out through the cold woods. The boys, having been screamed at plenty, instantly recognized it as Saren.
Joseph slammed his foot on the throttle and careened further into the woods in the general direction the scream came from, actively ignoring the fact that his friends weren’t wearing their seatbelts and honking the horn as they slammed around. The car bashed through a pair of small saplings, into a clearing populated with skinheads, corpses and an ill-treated Saren. Joseph spun out into the snow, careening through the clearing, crushing a corpse and spraying the blood across the snowy forest floor.
Joseph, Tristan and Israel all calmly opened their doors and stepped out of the car, cracking knuckles and loosening their wrists in an attempted to look more hardened and threatening than they thought they were.
“Oh great,” Irina sighed, “The bitch boys are here,”
Tristan whipped the Macedonian out of its holster and shot Irina in the sealed wound in her belly.
“I don’t remember asking for a new team name,” Tristan taunted as Irina clutched her now reopened wound.
“Fuck. You,” Irina snarled, trying to ignore the pain she was in.
Joseph set his eyes on the Alpha, mentally working out the easiest way to kill him and end this debacle. Whatever plans he had never got more than a few seconds of thought as the Alpha stepped forward and pointed at him.
“I challenge you, hunter,” The Alpha roared, “One warrior facing another in a battle to the death and let fate decide who’s will is the strongest,”
Joseph looked to his friends then gestured to Saren’s mangled form. Israel and Tristan rushed over to Saren to provide whatever medical attention they could. Joseph took a second to admire the amount of skulls the alpha was wearing on his person. Several on a neckless, one attached to each of his boots, four hanging from his belt, and Joseph wasn’t sure but he believed he saw the bulge of more in the alpha’s torn and worn leather vest.
“Are you insane?” Saren hissed “He’ll fucking murder you,”
“I think he knows that,” Joseph quipped, “But he’s willing to challenge me anyway,”
“Yes,” The Alpha snarled, barely more than a bestial growl, “Yes! Bravado, pride, and bloodlust that is what I wish to see. When you face your ancestors, you may tell them that it was Commodus that slew you and sent you to them,”
“You talk too much,” Joseph drew his sword and settled into his practiced stance, “Guys, try and…” he fumbled for the right words, “Stabilize Saren,”
“Already on it,” Tristan said as he took Saren’s pulse and ignored her glare, “I know I’m not helping, I can’t do jack shit. Look at your fucking leg, woman! There’s nothing to do,”
Commodus hefted two massive axes, dark steel and caked with gore, one in each hand. He and Joseph circled each other for a few moments before he brought both axes above his head and lunged. Joseph sidestepped the attack, narrowly missing getting his arms chopped off, and swung at Commodus’ back, opening a dark red gash.
Commodus roared and pivoted, extended his arms and swung his axes in Joseph’s general direction. Joseph rolled under the strike and stabbed at Commodus’ exposed midriff. Joseph ran him through to the ricasso of his sword and was knocked aside with a massive arm to the side of the head. Joseph hit the ground and rolled away from Commodus’ general location. When he looked up at Commodus’ his eyes widened at the site of a massive beast of a man barely hindered by the large sword protruding from his abdomen charging him.
Commodus slammed his shoulder into Joseph, sending him crashing through a sapling and face first into the reddening snow. Scrambling to get up, Joseph grabbed a piece of the sapling and drove it into Commodus’ thigh as he grabbed his sword and pulled back with all his might, freeing his sword. He immediately spun and swung it into Commodus’ right arm, embedding itself once again into the massive man and digging into the bone in his upper arm. Commodus dropped the axe that his right arm held and swung his remaining weapon, arcing the flat of the axe-head it at Joseph’s head. Joseph saw stars as the axe struck him, knocking him into the snow once again.
Commodus threw his axe away and grabbed the blade of Joseph’s sword and tore it out of his arm. He inspected the blade, examining the build and make of it.
“This is a fine blade, hunter. After your death I shall wield it to slay other worthy foes,”
Joseph grabbed Commodus’ fallen axe and twisted it so that the bladed edge pointed upwards
“Go to hell!” He shouted as he drove the axe into the much larger man’s left underarm.
Commodus reeled back, bleeding profusely from his multitude of wounds.
“You…have actually caused me pain,” Commodus smiled as she spoke, “I shall grant you…one parting gift,” his body twisted and morphed, becoming lither and lean as well as growing dark red hair. His head and face shaped to that of a beast, then to the obvious visage of a wolf. He roared as the transformation completed, he was his true self, a monster, a werewolf.
Joseph had grabbed his sword during the transformation and once again made his stance. When he swung he hit air, air that once held a colossal wolf beast. Commodus had moved behind Joseph in an instant and swung his great claw, carving open Joseph’s arm and slamming him against a tree. The sound of his ribs snapping could be heard by the stringent crowd.
Irina shouted various praises of her alpha and similar curses of his prey. She wanted to see the beast tear someone apart and add another skull to his collection. She watched with the attention of a child hopped up on ‘learning’ pills at the spectacle before her.
Joseph’s friends, between pretending to provide medical care for the immobilized Saren, were frozen in fear. Resembling the rigor mortis that they’re corpses would gain, that is if the werewolves didn’t eat them before they went cold.
Joseph coughed blood, enough to splatter the front of his coat. He sat against the tree he was thrown against. He barely could think through the sheer agony of his broken bones jabbing his internal organs but he certainly felt the claw around his throat lift him to eye level with Commodus. He smelled Commodus’ foul breath, smelling of rotten meat and blood. Commodus growled in Joseph’s face before parting his great maw and slowly working Joseph’s head into it. Seeing only one opportunity left, Joseph meekly shoved his clutched fist at the wound in Commodus’ abdomen.
Commodus immediately lurched, pausing. Joseph saw something in his foe’s eyes, like those of a beaten dog. Fear, what he saw was pure and simple fear. Commodus suddenly dove and sunk his teeth into Joseph’s non-shredded shoulder. Joseph shouted in pain as dagger long teeth ripped into him, and just as quickly as they entered they exited without any extra damage. Commodus fell backwards, falling on his back and relaxing every strained muscle as he gave his death rattle, dying in the cold snow.
Joseph fell to his hands and knees, still shouting from the bite. He had to breathe between the shouts, the blood pouring out of his mouth further hindering him. The shouts became loud pants, becoming more and more guttural each time, descending into bestial growls. He went dead silent as the blood flow from his mouth slowed to a trickle and stopped altogether. He began to stand, only slightly staggering as he righted himself and looked up at his spectators with his own blood covering his mouth and eyes shining bright yellow.
Saren’s heart sank as she saw her friend rise. Her friend was turned and she was completely powerless to do anything about it in the slightest. She knew that fresh turned werewolves were even more dangerous than a pack of inexperienced youngbloods. The chance of them going feral is at its peak post turn and neither she nor her friends were able to kill one in their condition.
Irina approached her new alpha with a smile. A dead alpha and some dead scrubs were in all a minor setback to the pack but not one that couldn’t be fixed.
“So, new bossman,” she wrapped her arm around Joseph’s bloodied but healing shoulder, “What’s the first order of business?”
Joseph wheeled around and punched her in the face, breaking her jaw and knocking her down.
“Anyone,” he growled, “Who was stupid enough to be loyal to this dead fucker,” he spat the word ‘dead’ as he kicked Commodus’ corpse “Fuck off or I’m tearing you open and leaving you to be eaten by whatever passes by,”
The surviving wolves quickly scampered away, terrified of the person that tore their pack apart.
“Joseph?” Saren said, barely above a whisper. Joseph turned his attention to his friends, who, with Saren’s exception, had a hand on their firearms, “Please. Don’t tell me you’re one of them,” her voice cracked as she spoke, she would later claim it was hoarse from yelling, but the truth was that she was moments away from breaking down and crying.
Joseph calmly walked over to his friends and picked Saren up, bridal style.
“I’m still people,” he said, in a voice that for the first time that night, sounded completely human, “You lying bitch,” Which also meant that he absolutely wasn’t going to let Saren forget this night, not that she needed help remembering.
Israel walked over to Commodus and knelt down, running his hands over the corpse’ eyes to close them,
“May you burn and your ashes fuel the growth of things of greater worth,” he grabbed at the wound Joseph attacked in his last desperate move and pulled his lucky coin out of it, he smiled at the fact that Joseph remembered he called it his ‘lucky silver’, “Rest in chaos, you psychopath,” He pulled out a flask, another thing he found in Saren’s basement, and poured the kerosene contents on the dead werewolf before striking a match, tossing it and lighting the corpse on fire, just as Saren did for the first wendigo they saw.
Saren smiled as she saw her team doing what they should do. Burning the bodies and inspecting what they could use for trophies and death proofs so that they’d get paid for clearing the pack out.
“Joseph,” she whispered again, finally realizing the immense pain she was in from her destroyed knee, “Do you think we could speed things up, my leg is really-,” Joseph just grabbed Saren’s off kilter leg and straighten it with a sickening crunch noise. Saren froze and whimpered through her clenched teeth as Joseph walked to where Tristan and Israel were crowding.
“What’d you guys find?” Joseph asked. He was met with Tristan hefting a large sawn-off double barrel shotgun with a smile on his face, “That answers my question,”
“Small question,” Tristan asked, looking for any ammo in the clutter of what was apparently a storage box, “You’re uh…kinda sounding different man. You’re not gonna turn out to be that big fucker possessing you or anything, are you?”
“I sound kind of off because I’m still regenerating from my ribs stabbing through my lungs. Which, might I add, is a very painful process,” Joseph would have smacked him if he wasn’t still holding the whimpering Saren, “You towhead jackass,”
“Yup,” Israel said, inspecting a dagger, “It is absolutely still Joseph,” when Israel pulled the dagger out of its sheath he found it shined much more than steel would, “This motherfucker had a silver dagger,” he said putting back away, “I totally call it,”
“Why,” Joseph found he had a new natural repulsion to the material, the same as an animal backing away from fire, “Why would he have that?”
“Same reason people make mustard gas,” Israel said, attaching it to his belt, “Kill shit,”
“Please,” Saren sobbed, “Can we please go home now?”
“Sure thing, you lying bitch,” Joseph grabbed one of Commodus’ axes, “Tristan, grab the other axe. Iz, you’re driving Saren’s car home with her in the back,”
“He’s not driving my fucking-,” Joseph shifted Saren in his grip, jostling her leg slightly and making her quiet, “Oh...why?” she whined.
“Fucking hell,” Tristan struggled to pick up the axe with one hand, “How did that guy swing these things? They weigh a fucking ton,”
“Wolf steroids,” Israel said, “Wolfroids,” he was clearly proud of himself for that one.
Joseph dropped Saren into Israel’s less bruised and mangled arms. He got into his car with Tristan, the axes, and the shotgun and began to drive off.
“He’s mad at me,” Saren grumbled as the car lurched away, “he’s so fucking mad at me,”
“Of course he fucking is, you lying bitch,” Israel said, never losing his smile as he trudged through the snow back to Saren’s car, “But I think the bigger thing on his mind is that fact that his last name is now even more fitting,”
“Yeah,” Saren began nodding off, realizing just how little sleep she’s gotten in the last forty-eight hours and just how much she’d done, “Yeah,” she said as she lost consciousness.