Soulbound ‡ clash

by Wes Leigh

Chapter 14

Death, my son, is a good thing for all men; it is the night for this worried day that we call life. It is in the sleep of death that finds rest for eternity the sickness, pain, desperation, and the fears that agitate, without end, we unhappy living souls.

-- Bernardin De Saint-Pierre, Paul et Virginie

Connor saw Ignatius walking toward Daniel and Hota. He quickly organized the Pack and sent them around to flank Ignatius.

Several witches in Ignatius' group screeched out a new spell. A wave of pale yellow light spread out from them, rippling through the air, heading in all directions. As the light passed over Connor and the Pack, they found themselves transforming unwillingly into their human shapes. They tried to shift into wolf form, unsuccessfully. Werewolf form. Same result. They were locked in human form and unable to shapeshift.

When the strange light reached Daniel and Hota, Hota's body shifted back into his human shape. He glanced down at himself. Though advanced in years, he was still powerful. His body was that of a Lakota warrior, as strong now as it had been in his youth, and he knew he would need all his fighting skills in the battle ahead. Turning to Daniel, he said, "For so many years, I wished to be rid of my curse, and now, when I need it most, it abandons me. But I will fight on."

Hota began walking toward Ignatius, head held high, to face his doom.

Behind Ignatius, the Silvermane Pack anxiously awaited Connor's orders.

Connor stared at his hands. Why couldn't he shift? What was that strange light that had passed over them?

He looked around him at the members of his pack. Ethan. Caleb. All the others. Now locked in their human forms. There was fear in their eyes, and Connor knew his own eyes were no different. He snarled and said, "Time to show this bastard what happens when you corner a wolf."

The fear in their eyes changed to fury, and Connor led his Pack with a shout, rushing Ignatius from the side.

Hota chanted a war cry as he began trotting forward, grabbing a branch from the ground and lifting it like a club.

The two groups collided with a roar. Though locked in their human forms, the lycans were still a match for the vampires in strength, and the lycans fury knew no equal. They quickly overwhelmed the creatures huddled around Ignatius, throwing them in disarray, scattering them and sending them fleeing.

Hota faced Ignatius himself, swinging the tree branch furiously at Ignatius' head. Ignatius dodged back, easily avoiding the blow. He didn't seem to be at all concerned that his vampires and witches were being decimated around him. He even laughed at one point when he saw a witch's body tossed into the side of a building, to collapse on the ground unconscious. He touched the amulet at his neck and muttered a short phrase. A wave of force exploded out from his body, tossing werewolves and vampires alike in every direction.

Connor, shaking his head after being thrown against a wall, saw Hota lying in a crumpled heap with Ignatius standing over him, holding a dark dagger with a wicked, curved blade. Connor jumped up and charged Ignatius from behind. Playing football taught you a few things, such as how to knock an opponent into next week. Connor hit Ignatius low in the back, knocking him off his feet and through the air to land with a thud on the ground. Connor scrambled up quickly and began swinging his fists, striking Ignatius in the face over and over. Blood spattered when one fist connected with Ignatius' nose.

Ignatius was stunned at first, but quickly recovered. With an angry roar, he extended his talons and slashed Connor across the chest and throat, then grabbed Connor by the waist and tossed him to the side.

Connor landed with a painful crash and turned on his side, clutching his neck. Searing pain shot threw his body, making him groan and gasp. He felt the blood pouring from his throat, pulsing past his clutching fingers, and he knew he was in trouble. Turning his head, he saw Ignatius approaching with the black dagger held up to one side. Connor closed his eyes and waited.

A sudden jerk on Connor's foot surprised him. He felt himself picked up in strong arms and lifted into the air. His vision was clouding over, but he saw the face of Ethan above him and felt Caleb's strong arms lifting his legs. Standing between the boys and Ignatius was Hota.

Ignatius was grinning as he wiped blood from his lip. "Out of way, old bear," Ignatius snarled.

Hota refused to move, turning his head slightly to say, "Get Connor to safety. I'll stop this one."

Ethan and Caleb hoisted Connor up and carried him in a stumbling run. Behind them they heard a ferocious battle beginning as Hota and Ignatius clashed.

Connor, his head swinging from side to side, felt the world slipping away from him as his blood flowed from his neck. He closed his eyes and felt at peace, held in the arms of his friends, his packmates. Eagles soar on the wind, free… I want to be free…

Connor heard Daniel's voice, echoing as if from far away, growing stronger, speaking directly to his mind. Don't sleep, Connor. Stay with me, damn it. Don't you dare give up.

Caleb, struggling to carry Connor's legs, asked Ethan, "Where should we take him?"

Ethan nodded his head at a small building across the street. "There. That's where Daniel's mom works. There should be medical supplies inside."

The door to the medical clinic yanked open and Daniel's father, Mike Anderson, ran out, motioning for Caleb and Ethan to cross the street. "In here!" he shouted, holding the door open for them.

Caleb and Ethan carried the bleeding body of Connor inside, where they found Daniel's mother, Judy Anderson. She pointed at an exam table. "Put him over there," she said.

Ethan wept as he lifted Connor's upper body onto the table. "Why is he still bleeding? His body should have repaired the damage by now!"

Judy worked quickly, packing the stomach wound with sterile gauze, then moving to the neck wound to try to stop the bleeding there. "I don't know, boys, but I'll do what I can to help him."

Caleb sobbed and said, "Thank you, Daniel's mom."

Judy gasped and smiled. "You can call me Judy, boys."

The door to the clinic slammed open and Daniel ran inside. "Where's Connor?" he shouted.

Ethan turned to Daniel and cried, "His body isn't recovering, Daniel. Something's wrong!"

Daniel rushed up and looked down at Connor's face, now pale and bloodless. "It must be a spell Ignatius is using. Something is keeping our lycan regeneration from working like it should."

Judy shook her head in frustration. "That's not important right now. He needs blood. Immediately!"

Daniel lifted his arm. "Use mine, Mom."

Judy grimaced. "It isn't that easy, Son. I need to match blood-types. And I don't even know if you two can share blood, since he's a werewolf."

"I'm a vaewolf, Mom. Connor and Xavier made me one. My blood has to match his."

"I can't be sure of that, Daniel. It might kill him instead of saving him."

"He's going to die if we do nothing," Daniel insisted.

Judy nodded. Daniel was right.

Ignatius wove the black dagger through the air in complicated patterns. "I've waited many, many years to meet you."

Hota held the tree branch to one side, ready to swing it at the ancient vampire before him.

Ignatius smiled and chuckled. "A beast of few words. Have you nothing to say before your death?"

Hota didn't reply. His eyes watched Ignatius' feet, knowing they would telegraph the vampire's moves.

Ignatius laughed. "I'm disappointed, Matoskah."

Hota looked up, surprised.

Smiling, Ignatius said, "Yes, I know your Lakota name. Matoskah!" He pronounced the name mockingly. "White Bear. Great warrior and protector of his family."

The two circled each other slowly, Ignatius continuing to weave the dagger, Hota holding the tree branch and breathing slowly.

"You were away when I visited your wife and children," Ignatius said with a grin, "so you didn't hear their pitiful screams when I dismembered them."

Hota eyes flicked up to Ignatius' face. He swallowed and looked back down at Ignatius' feet, watching, waiting.

Ignatius chuckled. "And still he has nothing to say. Stoic. Yes, you are indeed a man of action, not words. I wonder if you will scream like your family did when I kill you." Ignatius moved to the left and stabbed with the dagger.

Hota lifted the branch and knocked the dagger to one side, kicking Ignatius in the stomach and sending the ancient vampire flying backward with a painful grunt.

Ignatius landed hard, rolled, and leapt back to his feet. He was no longer grinning. "You dare touch me, you filthy animal!"

Hota smiled and hefted the tree branch, moving cautiously forward.

Ignatius flicked the dagger from hand to hand and stopped snarling. "It won't affect the final outcome. You must understand that I am more powerful than you will ever be. More deadly. More devastating. I am Fiery Death. Murder and Destruction. All will fall before me—" Ignatius leaped, stabbing with the dagger.

Hota reached out to grab Ignatius' wrist and twist the dagger away, dropping the tree branch and bringing his fist around to smash into the side of Ignatius' face. At the same time, he brought a knee up into Ignatius' groin.

Ignatius' eyes widened in pain and he gasped. Grasping the amulet at his neck, he mumbled a quick phrase. Wind swirled all around them, pulling them together in the midst of a small tornado.

Hota tipped his head back and smashed it forward into Ignatius face.

Ignatius screamed, shoving Hota away. Ignatius, his nose gushing blood, disappeared.

Hota knelt down, looking all around, searching.

Ignatius appeared behind Hota, stabbing down with the black dagger. It struck Hota just below one shoulder blade, burying itself in his flesh. Hota gasped and blinked slowly, staring up at the moon high above. His lips formed a sad smile as he chanted:

"Give us peace
We send our plea
We who…"

His lips could no longer form words. Hota closed his eyes and fell face down on the ground.

"I grant you peace," Ignatius said with a sneer, twisting the dagger in Hota's back.

Hota's body seemed to collapse in on itself, turning rapidly to ash which swirled in the wind and lifted in a gray mist to rise into the sky.

The dagger pulsed with a white glow. Ignatius opened his mouth wide and inhaled deeply, absorbing the bright power from the dagger. He frowned. "Werebear? Mighty and sturdy, yet… hairy. Disgusting! I don't know how these lycanthropes can endure the transformation process, but perhaps it will come in handy down the road."

He slid the dagger into a sheath at his hip and walked through the swirling ashes in search of his next prey.

Daniel's heart forced his own blood into the needle, down the tube, and into Connor's body, one pulsing heartbeat at a time.

As Daniel's vaewolf blood entered Connor's bloodstream, Connor's body responded with alarm. An enemy was present, but the enemy seemed familiar.

No, it wasn't an enemy after all. It was a cousin, with elements of lycanthropy tainted by Sanguine Vampirus.

His body reluctantly welcomed the alien blood, carrying it from Connor's arm to his heart, which still beat valiantly, struggling to pump blood around his body, despite the losses he had endured. Vaewolf blood mixed with werewolf, and his heart pumped it throughout his body. When the vaewolf blood reached the stomach wound, it surged to the surface, struggling to heal what the werewolf blood could not. The jagged edges of sliced organs gradually mended. The blood loss slowed and stopped.

Connor's body, no longer purely werewolf, but now an odd fusion of vae and lycan, began to heal at last.

Xavier and Trudy led their group through an alley, bent over and running quickly, trying to avoid being seen. At the end of the alley, they found Donny and several of the Silvermane Pack huddled behind stacked crates, now in their naked human forms.

"Why aren't you wolfed out?" Trudy asked.

Donny snarled, "We can't! The witches did something to us. Cast or spell or something that keeps us from shifting forms."

"Can you still fight?" Xavier asked.

"We ARE fighting!" Donny snapped, frustrated. "Sorry, Xavier. It's been bad." He sobbed and tears began falling down his cheeks. "Ignatius killed Hota. Stabbed him with some kind of dark blade and… and his… his body turned into ASH and he just blew away in the wind."

Xavier gulped and wrapped Donny in his arms, pulling the crying youth to his chest.

Donny coughed and said, "That's not all, Xavier. Ignatius hurt Connor. It was serious. We saw Connor go down. Ethan and Caleb carried him away while we fought off the creatures fighting for Ignatius. They drove us back here into this alley. Then they ran off. And when we tried to go back to help Hota, Ignatius killed him before we could get there. And now we don't know where Connor is."

Xavier stared into the distance, crying out with his mind, Connor? Daniel? Where are you?

A weak reply came from Daniel. The medical clinic on Second Street. Mom is giving Connor a transfusion of my blood, so I'm a little dizzy right now… but Xavier… Connor's hurt.

Is he going to make it, Daniel?

His body is healing now, but he's still unconscious.

Xavier squeezed Donny. "Connor is alive. Daniel is giving him blood. They're at the medical clinic, and we need your help to get there, Donny. You understand?"

Donny nodded, wiping the tears from his eyes. "I can't lose him, Xavier. He's my alpha."

"I know," Xavier replied, massaging Donny's shoulder. "I can't lose him either. He's my soulmate."

Donny gestured for the remaining Silvermanes to get up and follow him.

Like commandos sneaking through bombed out city streets, they all scurried from cover to cover, making their way down several blocks to the clinic where Connor was fighting for his life.

Xavier held Connor's hand as he leaned down to kiss Daniel. Tears fell from Xavier's eyes, landing on Daniel's face. Daniel smiled and reached up to stroke Xavier's cheek. "Mom said Connor is improving quickly," Daniel whispered.

Xavier looked down at the plastic tube filled with precious blood, still flowing from Daniel's body to Connor's. "How much longer?" he asked, pointing at the needle taped to Daniel's arm.

Judy Anderson walked over and checked Connor's blood pressure. "I think he's out of danger now. His blood pressure is still low, but the wounds have healed and his breathing is slow and steady." She began clamping off the transfusion line and removing it from Daniel's arm. "He'll have to do the rest on his own."

Trudy, standing at the front window looking out in the streets with her gun pointing at the ceiling, asked, "When can we move him?" She turned to look at Judy and explained, "I see them searching buildings across the street. They may be here any time, and I doubt we can hold them off."

Mike Anderson walked quickly into the reception room and looked out the window. "Werewolves. Vampires. Witches. A large group of them." He lifted his own gun and ejected the magazine. "Not that it matters… but I'm empty."

Trudy handed Mike another magazine. "It's my last spare."

He snapped the magazine into place and looked out the window. "They'll be here any minute."

Judy looked at Daniel, confused. "I thought you had a way to kill them."

Daniel nodded. "I thought we did too, Mom. But they're blocking everything we have. Our bullets. Our lycan powers." He glanced at Xavier.

Xavier sighed. "Our vampires can't teleport. We're powerless against them."

A long groan caught their attention. Connor's eyes were open and he was reaching up to touch his own neck. His voice was gravelly as he spoke. "What's going on, guys?"

Judy leaned over Connor and shushed him. "You're safe, Connor. In my clinic. You're going to be okay, and your body is healing now. But I don't want you trying to get up just yet."

Connor pushed her hands away and sat up. "I feel fine, ma'am. I have to get up." His head swayed from side to side and he clutched the edge of the exam table, squeezing his eyes shut, then opening them wide. "I'll be okay. Just… just give me a second."

"You need to rest," Judy insisted.

Connor looked around the room, getting his bearings. He saw Daniel and Xavier. Hey, guys. I sure do love you boys.

We love you too, Big C, Daniel said with a grin.

Don't ever scare us like that again. Understood? Xavier asked, smiling to show he wasn't serious.

Connor looked at Judy Anderson and said, "Ma'am, I sure do appreciate you fixin' me up and all, but I gotta get up now and get back in this fight, or none of us are gonna get out of this alive." He threw his legs over the edge of the table and tried to stand up. His knees were wobbly, but he felt his strength returning quickly. "What's this?" he asked, pointing to the transfusion line still piercing the vein in his arm.

Judy deftly pulled it from his arm and dabbed at the hole, which was already closing up. "We had to give you blood."

Connor looked over at Daniel, lying on the table next to him, finally understanding. "Daniel? What did you do?"

Daniel grinned. "Gave you back what you gave me. A bit of vaewolf blood. Hope you don't mind the flavor of vampire mixed in." He smiled as he recalled the moment Connor had bitten him, injecting the lycan cells into his blood. "But it wasn't as much fun this time," Daniel added with an impish smile.

Connor chuckled, remembering that wild and crazy night when he'd been thrusting his cock deep into Daniel's butt while Xavier gave Daniel a blowjob. The mating frenzy had overtaken Connor's mind, causing him to bite Daniel's neck and infect him with lycanthropy. Xavier, with Daniel's cock repeatedly brushing the venom gland in the roof of his mouth, had been unable to resist the urge to bite into the shaft of Daniel's cock, injecting vampiric serum into Daniel's body. They had all worried that Daniel might die that night, as the lycanthropy battled against the vampirism for domination in his body. Fortunately, Daniel had survived by transforming into a creature that was half vampire and half werewolf… a vaewolf. And that had been the beginning of their connection as soulbound mates.

Connor's memory of that desperate night reminded him of how serious their situation was now. Why were they always fighting to survive? When were they going to catch a break?

"Guys… I hate to tell you this," Trudy said from the window. "They're coming this way."

"Is there a back exit?" Xavier asked.

Judy nodded. "This way." Leading them down the clinic halls, she took them through a break room to an exterior door. "This leads to the alley behind the clinic," she said.

"Come with us, Mom," Daniel said, grabbing her elbow. "We have to stick together."

Judy shook her head slowly. "Daniel. My dear boy. It's not going to make much difference now. You know that, right?"

Daniel sighed and nodded. "I know, Mom. I saw all this coming. And now it feels like I'm in the middle of a nightmare, fighting to wake up, and I can't. I'm headed for the end of the nightmare and nothing can stop that. But I have to keep trying. You understand, don't you?"

She nodded and gently pushed Daniel toward the door. "Go, son. I'll stay here and—I don't know—distract them or something."

Daniel's father put his arm around Judy's waist, pulling her close. He handed his rifle to Daniel and said. "I'm staying here, with your mother. You understand why, don't you, son?"

Daniel nodded, no longer able to keep the tears from falling.

Mike looked intently at his son. "I'm so proud of you, Daniel. So incredibly proud."

Judy gripped Daniel's arm. "I am too. Of all you boys. Now find a way to stop these sons-of-bitches."

Daniel tried to laugh through his tears. "When did you start cussing, Mom?"

She struggled to hold back her own tears. "When these bastards invaded my town and tried to hurt my boys." She looked over at Connor and smiled. "Go on, Daniel. Do whatever you have to do to stop them."

Daniel nodded and opened the exit door. He motioned for the others to move past him, dismayed as he counted how few of his people remained. Connor and a dozen werewolves, stuck in human form. Xavier and six vampires, unable to teleport. And Trudy with four other humans carrying guns that couldn't hurt their enemies. What the hell were they going to do?

Judy closed the door behind them and pulled a white smock from a hook on the wall. "You should wear this, Mike," she said. "And put a stethoscope around your neck. It will make you look very professional." She smiled and leaned into her husband, kissing him tenderly on the lips.

Together, hand in hand, they walked calmly to the front of the clinic, breathing deeply to calm their nerves as the front door opened with a crash.

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