Soulbound ‡ clash

by Wes Leigh

Chapter 12

I won't give my freedom away to be safe from death. Death is inevitable... And shall it come for me because I will not change who I am, so be it."

-- From When Dead Men Bleed by K. Weikel

"Let me see if I understand this," a man said from the back of the room. "There is a powerful vampire out there—some guy named Ignatius something-or-another—who has decided to attack Agony. And he's gathering an army of vampires and werewolves to do it?"

"That's right," Daniel replied. "He's caused trouble before. He killed a Lakota family and Connor's parents about twelve years ago."

"Wait? What? I thought the Finnigans died last year," the man objected.

"Gabi and Andreas Finnigan were my adopted parents," Connor explained. "I lived with my birth parents until I was five. Rogue vampires led by Ignatius attacked our home and killed my parents. I escaped and lived on my own until the Finnigans took me in."

A woman raised her hand tentatively, waiting until Daniel acknowledged her. "Isn't there something like vampire police who can come in and arrest him."

Xavier shook his head. "The Covenants all operate independently, with minimal direction and oversight from the ruling council. Vampires will sometimes join together when necessary, but so far I haven't been able to convince them that Ignatius is a serious threat. Making matters worse, he's somehow convinced three Covenants to follow his lead, so that lends legitimacy to his war against Agony."

"Then what are we going to do about these attacks?" the first man asked. Others in the crowd murmured their agreement with his question.

Daniel held out his hand for quiet, then explained, "We've been preparing. The werewolves and vampires of Agony are working together, training to repel the attacks. Our strategies worked last night. We drove them off. They suffered casualties. We didn't."

"What about the government?" another woman asked. "That's what it's for, right? To protect us."

Daniel frowned, "I doubt they would be much help, and I'm not sure how we could explain what we're dealing with here."

"We have to try," the woman insisted. "Call the governor. Or our senator. We need protection."

Trudy stood up and addressed the others. "There's just one problem with that." She glanced back at Daniel, who nodded at her to continue. "When Andreas and Gabi Finnigan died last year, it was our government who killed them."

Trudy explained all she'd learned about the attacks on Agony by a secretive branch within the U.S. government. Daniel and Xavier added comments from time to time, describing how Minerva Smyth had cooperated with the government, thinking it would help her Covenant, only to have them turn on her and kill her too. Eventually, Daniel had outwitted the government officials and forced the President to shut down the operation. Now that it was an election year, the government was acting peculiar again, and Daniel candidly admitted he saw no hope of help from them.

"Can we… I don't know… threaten to expose them if they don't help?" one man asked.

"Do you remember Rob Ransom, the podcast guy?" Daniel asked.

There were several nods around the room.

"So you probably recall the podcasts where he talked about vampires and werewolves living in rural areas all across our country. We used his program to force the government to show its hand, and they shut him down completely. You haven't heard any of his podcasts since then, right?" More nods. "And you won't anymore. He was told to find another use for his spare time. Last I heard from him, he's a radio personality with a classic rock radio station in Cleveland."

"Well, we can't just sit here and do nothing," the man muttered, staring at his hands.

"We aren't sitting around," Connor replied. "I'm calling m'Pack into town. We're moving into the Smyth mansion and any empty houses we can find. And we're patrolling the streets at night from now on."

Xavier added, "My vampires will be on the patrols too, working with Connor's werewolves. We'll protect Agony."

"Can we join you?" a man asked. "I'd feel better knowing I was doing something to protect my own family."

Daniel nodded. "That's an excellent idea."

"No. I won't do that," Coach Sean replied, gripping the school phone in his fist.

The other person was speaking angrily and quickly.

Coach Sean interrupted, "I understand what you're saying, but cancelling the basketball games is not an option. These boys have been working hard all year. For some of them, it's their best shot at college. I won't let you ruin their lives with some phony grade scandal."

The voice spoke again, demanding, questioning.

"I'll take care of it," Coach Sean replied. "We'll bring extra security for the home games and have armed escorts for the away games. We'll get the kids there safely and make sure they all get back home again."

The voice snapped out a few more demands, then the call ended abruptly.

Coach Sean looked up at Daniel and Connor. "That's the third call I've had from an idiot who thinks we should cancel the rest of the basketball season." Shaking his head in frustration, he added, "They've all made a good point about how it's hard to protect our boys during road games. I don't want to cancel any games, but It WILL split up the Agony defenders, sending some with the team and leaving some behind to guard the town."

"We'll make it work, Coach," Connor promised.

"I hope so, boys. I'd hate to shut down the program. A lot of kids would be hurt by it."

Daniel replied, "We won't do that, Coach. We're not giving in to fear. That's what Ignatius wants. He wants us to huddle in a corner and wait for him to attack. It's not gonna happen."

Coach Sean blew out his breath, nodded, then pulled out his playbook. "Okay. So here are the offensive schemes I'm planning for the game on Friday…"

School went on much the same as before, with a few adjustments. Parents began driving their children to school, and there were other parents patrolling the hallways between classes.

Ethan McCoy had hoped that school would be cancelled, given the town emergency, but his parents quickly disabused him of that notion.

"You ARE going to school," Shauna McCoy said, pinching his earlobe lightly.

"OWWwww, Mum, okay, okay."

"Your pop and I will be there too, keeping an eye on things. Be glad you're getting an education, and I don't want to hear another word about cancelling classes."

Donny chuckled at the scolding his brother was receiving. Sure, it sucked being stuck in a classroom all day, listening to boring teachers, reading dry stories in textbooks, taking tests, and all the rest. But Donny was also worried that the "boring" days of school might soon end, violently, and that life in Agony would never be "normal" again.

There were no more attacks on Agony, but there were strange bands of werewolves who roamed the prairies outside of town every night, howling at the moon, setting nerves on edge.

Residents of the town began snapping at each other over ridiculous matters, but when you couldn't sleep at night, you tended to have a short fuse and less patience with those around you.

The streets were empty most of the time. People locked themselves inside their homes, coming out only to buy food and supplies. Agony began to look like a warzone, without the bomb craters and demolished buildings.

As planned, school continued on, although many extracurricular activities were cancelled. Clubs stopped meeting. The Pep Band continued practicing, but they didn't plan any performances for away games. Trudy changed her mind about the next play, choosing A Chorus Line instead, hoping the lighthearted musical would lift spirits around town. The basketball team continued practicing after school, while bands of vampires and werewolves patrolled the school grounds around the gymnasium, on the alert for hostile forces.

The Agony Cougars won on the road against the Allentown Mustangs. It was the closest game of the season, with the Cougars pulling out a last-minute win, 53-49. Daniel's passes were picked off time after time, something that had never happened before, but he was distracted most of the game, scanning the bleachers, searching for strangers who didn't belong. After the game, the Cougar team hurried through their showers and quickly reloaded their bus to head home.

Connor sat beside Daniel, his arm protectively around Daniel's shoulders, pulling him close. He didn't care what the rest of the team thought. He hugged Daniel and kissed him on the top of the head.

"How much longer is this going to last?" Daniel asked, his voice soft and exhausted.

"I don't know, Big D," Connor replied. "But I gotcha right now."

Daniel patted Connor's big arm and snuggled back against Connor's warm chest. He closed his eyes and allowed the rocking of the bus to lull him into sleep, hoping it would be devoid of haunting visions.

The cabin became their oasis.

For a few hours every night, they set aside the worries and struggles of the day, refusing to even speak about it.

With naked bodies intertwined, their lips began the love-making by gently brushing over cheeks, necks, earlobes, growing more passionate with each caressing kiss.

On this night, Daniel and Diego were chest to chest, playfully touching their tongues and giggling.

Connor snuggled up behind Diego, sliding his thick boner between Diego's legs and up under his balls. Diego reached behind him, grabbing Connor's butt and pulling him close. Connor nuzzled the back of Diego's neck, nipping the skin and making Diego shiver in delight.

Xavier lay behind Daniel, nibbling on Daniel's earlobe. Daniel stopped kissing Diego and turned his head slightly to kiss Xavier. You taste like cinnamon, Daniel thought.

It's my gum, Xavier replied. Do you like it?

Daniel nodded and kissed Xavier again. I do. It's delicious.

I want a taste, Diego said, lifting himself up to lean over Daniel and puckering his lips.

Xavier kissed Diego, sliding his tongue out for Diego to suck.

Daniel pretended to be jealous, shoving on Diego gently. You have Connor. Quit stealing my kisses.

Diego snickered and dropped back on to the bed, rolling over to thread his arms around Connor's body. That's okay. Connor gives the best kisses.

Yes, I do, Connor agreed, and he put his thoughts into action, holding Diego's face in one hand as they pressed their mouths together.

Xavier winked at Daniel. They don't love us anymore, Daniel. Maybe we should find another cabin and make wild love to each other, leaving these two to suck face without us.

Diego giggled and snuggled closer to Connor, enjoying the feeling of being held against Connor's warm chest and belly. He reached down and stroked Connor's thick shaft as he nibbled on Connor's lip. Go ahead and leave, Diego replied, but you'll be back. You both love Connor's huge cock too much to go without it.

Chuckling, Daniel turned over and spooned Diego from behind. Reaching across Diego's hip, Daniel placed his hand around Diego's and together they slowly stroked Connor's thick shaft. Yeah, Big C has a big c, that's for sure.

They all four laughed, but their silliness soon gave way to panting and moans as their love-making began in earnest.

Daniel spun around and placed his head at the foot of the bed, pulling on Diego's hip until he rolled over to face Daniel. Daniel pulled Diego's smaller cock down and slid it into his mouth, toying with the foreskin and sliding his tongue all around the cap. Diego was leaking already, and the taste was sweet on Daniel's tongue.

Diego moved his mouth down to suck Daniel's balls, moaning at the musky smell. He sucked them both into his mouth, rolling them around with his tongue, then pulling off so that they popped out, making Daniel jump. Diego moved back in, sucking first one, then the other. Then he licked his way up Daniel's inner thigh and began sucking on the tip of Daniel's cock.

Connor rubbed lube on his thick cock while toying with Diego's pucker. Diego moaned and spread his legs wide, encouraging Connor to continue. Connor slid a finger inside Diego, moving slowly in and out until Diego relaxed and Connor was able to add a second finger. He gently pressed deeper, causing Diego to sigh and say, Quit fucking around, Connor. Stick it in me.

Chuckling, Connor rubbed his cock tip on Diego's pucker and pushed gently until Diego's hole opened up slightly. Connor thrust forward again, sliding the cap inside and past the gripping sphincter. When Diego groaned in pleasure, Connor continued slowly pushing forward until his cock was fully inside his young lover, nestled comfortably with his belly pressed against Diego's soft butt cheeks.

Xavier reached across to Connor and took the bottle of lube. After coating his own cock, he lubed up Daniel's hole and wriggled his fingers inside.

I'm ready, too, Xavier, Daniel said, burying Diego's cock in his throat.

Xavier positioned himself and quickly slid inside Daniel, beginning long, deep thrusts that struck Daniel's prostate over and over.

Daniel arched his back. The sensation of Xavier spreading him open, Diego slurping his cock, and the taste of Diego's precum on Daniel's tongue was more than Daniel could take. His body quivered. His balls tightened. His cock throbbed, spewing into Diego's mouth.

That was quick, Connor said with a snicker.

The first one always is, Daniel replied, continuing to suck on Diego.

Diego licked the side of Daniel's cock, slurping up the salty juices that had escaped his mouth. Keep going, Xavier, Diego said. I want seconds!

"So you won't help us?" Xavier asked, his face flushed with anger.

The members of the vampiric ruling council stared back at Xavier, unblinking.

Xavier slapped the table before him. "He's an ancient vampire. He's created an army of werewolves and vampires, and he has plans to destroy Agony."

The leader of the council leaned forward and asked, "Do you deny that your covenant allies itself with the Silvermane Pack? How is that any less a violation of our regulations?"

"It's for our own defense!" Xavier shouted. "We have no choice. We must work together to protect our homes and our families."

Shaking his head slightly, the council president replied, "From where we sit, this is a territorial spat. Whoever comes out on top can apply to the council for recognition and authority to rule over North Dakota as they see fit."

Xavier snorted. "You actually believe he'll stop with North Dakota? You know how ambitious he is. Agony is only the beginning. If you don't act now, he'll continue growing more powerful until none of you will be safe. He won't care that you are members of the ruling council. HE wants to rule, and he won't stop until every enemy is destroyed."

"We've reached our decision," the vampire said, closing the folder in front of him.

Xavier turned and stomped out of the room, fuming at the short-sightedness of the vampiric council. "Idiots," he muttered as he walked up to Daniel, who was waiting for him in the outer hall.

"What did they say?" Daniel asked.

"They won't lift a finger to stop him. They're bloody fools."

Daniel took Xavier into his arms and hugged him. "You did your best. Now it's up to us."

Diego hovered in the air above the werewolves as they loped along, heading across the prairie. He'd been following them all night, using his spells to hold his position high up in the sky above them.

By dawn, they had reached a small out-of-the-way inn. Transforming back into their human forms, they walked up the front steps, laughing and joking around. They opened the door and walked inside, bragging about scaring the rabbits of Agony once more.

Diego gestured with his fingers, causing the winds to die down and lower him gently to the ground. He crept around to the back of the inn and found an open window. Kneeling underneath the window, he used his enhanced vaewolf hearing to pick up the conversation inside the inn.

"They spend most of their time holed up in their houses," a snarling voice growled. "I doubt they'll poke their heads out when we begin the assault."

"As I had hoped," another voice replied, deeper and slippery and foul. "I shall schedule the final attack when Michel returns with the information I require."

"He is here," the first voice snarled. "He arrived just as we returned from our patrol."

"Then have him come in."

Diego leaned closer and heard footsteps.

"Ah, Michel, I trust you were successful in your mission? What did you learn?"

A third voice replied, "I was able to find government records that documented the reputed abilities of vaewolves."

"Yes? And?"

"They are able to teleport through space like vampires, but also through time itself. That is most likely how they were able to respond to our first attack. One of them probably jumped back in time to prepare their response."

"Interesting. Hmmmm… witch, the spells you've been preparing… will they work against vaewolves?"

A scratchy female voice replied, "Our spells weaken both vampires and werewolves. They will do the same to these mongrel half-breeds."

"Excellent. Then prepare for the final assault. We attack in three days at midnight."

Diego focused on a distant cabin, high up the hills above Agony, and teleported there. He told Connor, Xavier, and Daniel everything he'd heard.

Connor pulled out his phone. "I'll call Hota. He'll want to be here."

"I have to tell my family," Diego said. "They need to know."

"They'll insist you stay in Houston," Xavier replied.

"I know. And I'll insist they come back to Agony." Diego grinned impishly. "We'll see who wins. My dad and his tight lips. Or me and my puppy dog eyes."

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