The night was bright as the moon reached its peak that night. It was white and mesmerizing, as I knew it would be. It was clear in my line of sight while I lay awake in my creamy, satin bed. Though, it seemed to get bigger as I stare at it longer.
I watched it until dark clouds started to slowly cover its beauty, blocking out the light. I let out a sad sigh as the night turned into complete darkness. Like on cue, I heard a piercing howl, dark and filled with rage, from afar. The sound made my heart stop until I understood what was happening.
My bedroom suddenly grew hot. I squinted my eyes as a yellow light surround me. It bites into my skin as it came closer. So I shrieked away as it had gone ablaze. I started screaming for help. I didn’t know how the fire started.
“Roe!” I heard a faint cry of my name.
“Mom! Grandma!” I wailed, trying to get the person’s attention and hoped it was either of the two.
“Roe…!” A voice screamed, then silence followed.
“Mom! Grandma!” I shouted again as fear consumed me.
The door in my room opened. A big black furry creature stood by the threshold as it threw my door across the room. I gasped in shock and covered my mouth to silence my incoming scream. The creature lingered by the door. His head slowly scanning the room. I sluggishly slid down my bed towards a small part of the floor where the fire couldn’t reach.
I crunched into a ball with my arm wrapped around my legs. Then, I placed my head on my knees as I started to whimper. I bit my lips to stop any sound that might come out of my mouth. Closing my eyes, I hoped the creature would disappear. For a second, I could only hear a faint thump moving away from my direction. I didn’t break free from my position until I heard silence. Then I peeked at the top of my bed.
I sat back down and reached underneath, grabbing a medium length leather sheath with a small silver dagger inside. It almost looked like a letter cutter from the size of it. The dagger was a secret gift from my father for my ninth birthday.
With the weapon close to my chest, I slowly moved towards the door. I peeked for a second, looking for any signs of the black furry creature.
As I finally reached the bottom of the stairs, walking with the balls of my feet like how my grandma taught me to hush my footsteps, I let out a soft sigh of relief. The creature was nowhere in sight. Yet the fire in the house was gradually thickening, making my breath ragged.
I stood by the stairs across the main door, which was my only exit, as I continued to scan the room. Suddenly without warning, something grabbed me by the arm, lifting me up and throwing me across the room. I fell down on the marble floor, numbing my backside.
I passed out for a second.
But I was able to regain my composure as adrenaline pumped in my system. I stood back up, holding onto my dagger as I took it out from its sheath.
“Come on!” I screamed in rage and faced the thick black smoke in front of me.
Then, after a moment, a big silver Lycan stood in front of me. Its huge sharp teeth bare out as a deep growl escape its mouth. The Lycan towered over me with its muscle bulging out from its limbs. Fear had been thrown at the back of my head. In my peripheral vision, I saw my mother’s dead body at the foot of the Lycan. On the far corner by the living room, Grandma’s dead body was on her rocking chair. Her whole body covered in blood.
At that moment, I’m not a kid anymore. At that moment, I became the person I was born to be: a hunter, a Kynigan. With one quick move, I run towards the Lycan’s chest, directing the dagger to its heart. My advantage was my height. The beast’s advantage was its strength. In a second, I made the Lycans strength its weakness and the reason for its demise.
I plunged forward as the beast ran towards me in full force – the dagger was in perfect position. The beast let out a piercing cry before its body slumped down on the ground, lifeless. I stood beside it, looking at the dead body without sympathy. That all quickly changed as my hand started to shake, my mind registering what I had done.
I killed someone. I killed a Lycan.
I gasped as my body was brought back to the present.
I sat up on my new bed, feeling restless as I woke up from another nightmare. Though the dream was nothing new, it still got me sweating nearly every night for the past nine years. I thought I’ve already outgrown them. But somehow tonight, the dream was vivid. It might have something to do with me being close to home.
I laid back down on my bed, taking deep breaths. Glancing at the digital clock on my bare nightstand, I watched the green light flashing the time. It was five in the morning. Exhausted, I laid back down again. This was first day of the mission and I wasn’t going to ruin the mood with my dreary dream. So, I started to meditate in order to calm down. Once my heartbeat returned to normal, I glanced back at the time and saw that it was nearly six. I got up and headed to my own private bathroom.
Since this mission was sanctioned by the Order, we were lucky enough to get enough funding to have an over the top three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment northwest of Montana. We arrived at the crack of dawn at Kalispell Airport, giving us leverage to snoop into our new home undetected from unwanted eyes. That same day, the guys had dutifully done their separate task. Kaleb had gone to get our issued car for transportation, while Tony went for groceries and stocked the bare refrigerator. Axel remained in the apartment with me to unpack.
Once we were done, we decided to take the rest of the day off since our supervisor hadn’t reported. Kaleb assured us the last team member was experienced, per his mother’s words. I took it to heart. Having a bunch of young adults doing their first mission without help was asking for a gruesome death. We might hold our own with a Lycan, but if we cross paths with a Pack – a Clan, we’re good as dead.
When I was done making breakfast for the team, they filed out from their rooms, already neat and ready to take on the task for the day.
“So what’s the plan?” I addressed the inevitable while they cleaned up their plates with the last piece of bacon and eggs.
“Since our supervisor hasn’t contacted us yet, I suggest we get to settle in with our cover.”
“College. School. The whole nine yards.”
“Why are you so surprised?” Kaleb turned to me warily. “You’ve read the briefing file.”
“I thought that was just, you know, a cover. Not real. Pretend. You couldn’t be suggesting we should all attend a real one.”
“I am. And mother insisted too,” he firmly stated. “I never thought you’d be against education, Roe.”
“I’m not. I’m just surprised. I hadn’t thought about college at all with what’s been going on…” I trailed off, pursing my lips. In three months, I’ll be taking my place in the Order. As a new member, I would be subjected to a different kind of learning environment. So the idea of even going to college never crossed my mind.
“Maybe that’s why mother suggested it as a cover.” He jested though I noted a bit of truth in his words.
“So where are we attending? And what major am I enrolled in?” I dejectedly inquired.
Without answering, Kaleb picked up a backpack beside his leg, which I hadn’t seen he brought with him. He pulled out another set of envelopes. Rather than a thick one which he’d given us with the report paper for the mission, it was thin. Pulling out its contents, I stared in awe at a school I.D. and a paper detailing our class schedule. Also printed on top was the school’s logo, which was also seen in our I.D.’s.
“Before we head out, tell me your cover.” Kaleb commandingly requested.
“My name is Roe Hunter, Axel’s twin sister and your step sister. Our parent’s remarried five years ago. We are shipped here with our cousin, Tony Reed, for a scholarship grant. We are here with our Uncle, the mysterious member of the team.”
“And if anyone asks where we used to live?” he questioned, a bit displeased at my lack of details.
“We all used to live in England with our parents – hence your accent,” I lightly added, smirking.
“And we’re American. Her mom, my aunt, used to live in Ohio.” Tony interjected, adding the tidbit of information. “How about we tweak the cover a bit and make as all American? I know you can pull it off.” Tony added, addressing Kaleb.
“I’m not confident if I could keep the charade. I’ll stick to my mother tongue, thank you very much,” he grimly admitted.
“Are all my classes identical with Roe, Kaleb?” Axel spoke up, shifting the conversation back to business.
“Yes. As planned, you are tasked to look out for her. Tony and I share the same classes together, but we’re separating on some classes so that one of us would always be a few doors down from your class if an expected situation should arise.”
Axel nodded, liking his response. With that, we ended our morning briefing and prepared for the day ahead. As per what I had said to Kaleb, I wasn’t against education. I had gone to a private high school, which only Custodians were admitted. My surprise was directed by the fact that we were enrolled at a human institution. However, another concern made my stomach churn as I thought about it some more.
The Lycans, who are possibly going to the same college as us, were another dilemma. From the data given to us on the area, we are vaguely aware of a possible Lycan Clan living here. After the dreadful night that befell on my family, there were no permanent Custodian to look after this side of the country. So the Lycan count and their activity had been vague to us. Although we were sure there would be a Clan in the area, we weren’t sure if they were cooperative. The reporting Custodian doing check-ups only stated they were well maintained. I’m not sure what it insinuates.
My mind swirled with images of beasts living so close to us. But no fear or shiver passed through me. I’ve seen enough Lycans in my life to not flinch upon seeing one. When I was rescued after my family’s death, I hadn’t stayed scared and fragile. I took up a weapon and learned how to use it. For nine years, the custodian school I attended prepared us for what we were born to be – protectors against Lycans. I only hope those nine years of training would be enough for what was about to face.
After tucking the small dagger and its sheath in my black boots, I got out from the front passenger seat of our truck and joined the rest of my friends. I felt rather than heard Axel walking a good distance beside me. Kaleb took the lead with Tony flanked on my right. For those who know where to look, it was obvious how the three stood in a protective stance around me. It wasn’t my concern right now. My eyes strayed away from my companion towards the building standing in front of us. I peered at the large lawn, where most students were lounging around underneath what was left of the summer sun before autumn came. The place was packed and busy even though it was still eight in the morning. I kept my head low while I stared at my surrounding, trying to stay at Kaleb’s back to keep people away from me.
“You’re doing fine, Roe. Just don’t glower or stare too much,” Tony suddenly muttered beside me.
Realizing the crease between my eyebrows, my expression softened. “Sorry. I’m still nervous.”
“Just imagine the place like the Custodian School back home. They already look like us, minus the enhanced abilities.” Tony offered another context to comfort me. “And we’re more well-built, taller, leaner, and studier for sure.” He added with a chuckle.
“It’s not the humans I’m worried about,” I admitted and halted when I noticed Kaleb stopped walking in front of me.
It took me a second to notice we had reached the entrance to the school. Without looking back, I watched Kaleb’s shoulder slump before he continued walking. Tony and I stopped talking and quietly followed him with Axel right behind us. Reaching what seemed to be a lounge area, where students had gathered around and talked in groups, Kaleb finally turned to us.
Axel walked up and stood on my other side, while Tony took another step closer to me, angling his position to protect most of my right and back.
“Axel, have you memorize the blueprint of the school?” Kaleb asked, twisting his attention towards him.
“Yes. I know all possible exit from all our classroom.”
“Good. Roe, please do not stray away from Axel. Could you do that for me?”
“I’m not incompetent, Kaleb. I could protect myself just fine. But to ease your worry, I would keep Axel with me – except when I have to go to the ladies’ room. He’ll have to stay outside the door for that,” I teased lightly, turning to my friend.
“I think Axel doing something rebellious as going in the girls’ toilet should be considered. It’ll be a good character build up for him,” Tony fueled my comment.
When Axel hadn’t met any of our gazes, I felt bad for making him uncomfortable. To ease his anxiousness, I patted his arm and tugged him away from the group. “Well, I think that’s enough suggestions for now. We’ll see you guys later for a break or whatever. They have that right?”
Kaleb’s serious expression broke as he gave me an amused smile. “Yes, of course. Even back home, you were adamant at taking snack breaks even if it’s in the middle of the morning lesson.” Now it was my turn at being the center of the joke. I scoffed and hurriedly asked Axel to lead the way to our first class.
Walking by a few similar doors and identical hallways, I huffed in frustration at trying to remember the outline of the school. After Kaleb insisted we go to school this morning, I wasn’t in the mood for taking the remaining minutes memorizing the blueprint of the place as Axel. Between the two of us, he shined on that area. He was good at learning things under pressure.
“We’re here,” he spoke up for the first time since we’ve broken off from the group.
“Axel, I want to clear up something about this situation…” I started but trailed off when someone bumped my back. Surprised, I stepped back and defensively stood by Axel. It didn’t take two seconds for him to protectively stand in front of me.
“Oh, gosh! I’m so sorry! I was walking backward and I didn’t see you…” a blonde-haired girl sheepishly stood with a guy gripping her arm, like he was about to pull her back.
I tapped on Axel’s arm, telling him to stand down, before walking around him. “It’s okay. I’m fine.”
The girl glanced between Axel and me in awe. I knew what she was thinking, as most human thought of Custodians whenever we were within close proximity. Our endearing looks, our tall frame, and well-built figure, we look like we’re a race that Michelangelo carved to life. Our beauty and figure were envied, yet we never humor such vanity. It was who we are.
“I’m so sorry. Are you two enrolled in this class?” she finally asked, snapped out of her trance.
I pulled out a small paper of our class schedule tucked in my front pocket. “Is this American history?” I asked and read the course description of our first subject.
“If it’s Mr. Andres, then yes, this is American history.” The girl replied gleefully. “Oh, where are my manners? I’m Lucy. This is Trevor, my boyfriend.” She added and offered a hand towards me.
I studied it for a second and shook it. “I’m Roe and this is my twin, Axel.”
“Twins? Wow! That’s neat. But you don’t look that much alike,” she exclaimed and trailed in wonder.
“Not all twins are identical, Lu. Look, they aren’t the same gender either,” Trevor spoke up for the first time, bringing my attention towards him. When our eyes met, he gave me a weary smile. “Trevor. Nice to meet you.” He stated out of formality.
“So, where are you guys from? I know you aren’t from around here. Most people who go here are from a local high school in the district. I’m certain I would have seen you at least once if you were from any of those.” Lucy glanced at us with more interest.
“Are the student’s here already well-acquainted?”
“We aren’t all friends. But growing up here, you get to familiarize people’s faces. Besides, the youth population isn’t that much.”
Our conversation was cut short when Trevor nudged Lucy. His eyes watching a man in an old tailored suit entering the other entrance of the room. “Let’s finish the ‘getting to know each’ part later. Mr. Andres is here.”
Arriving in the classroom, Lucy guided Axel and me to an empty seat on the third row next to them. There wasn’t much talking that ensued since Mr. Andres was the type of teacher to get straight to his discussion. He didn’t even bother calling out the new students, which were Axel and I, in his class. Once the lecture was finished, Lucy was back to her talkative self and inquired about our schedule – finding out whether we have the same pre-requisite subjects. To her joy, we had American history, Literature, and Humanities together.
“Since we have the same literature class next, how about we all walk together?” Lucy offered, beaming expectantly at Axel and me.
Beside her, Trevor didn’t have the same enthusiasm though he wasn’t against her actions. Not to be rude, I nodded and allowed her to wrap her arms around me – dragging me along with her. I was surprised at her friendly manner towards me. It made me question whether she had other friends beside Trevor – who really was more of a special kind of friend.
Once we reached our next class, Lucy abruptly stopped in her tracks while talking about this new pastry shop that had opened at the local mall. Her words trailed off as her eyes gaze fixated across the hall.
“Lucy, are you alright?” I asked a second later; curious what had made her react so suddenly.
“Trev, is that who I think it is?” she murmured almost breathlessly, her eyes still glued at the group walking towards us.
Out of curiosity, I followed her gaze while Trevor replied. “It’s him. I didn’t know he was back in town. They said he was going to college in Washington or something…”
“Who should I be looking at?” I jumped in, trying to crack the sudden tension between them. Whoever the person they were looking at, the two seemed to shrink at knowing he was back in town.
“The mayor’s son, Cole Blackwell.”
As those words flew out of Lucy's mouth, my eyes found the right pair of clear blue eyes in a sea of students. Now I was as scared as them. For those pair of eyes belonged to the first Lycan I saw in school.
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