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"By The Light Of the Silvery Moon"


Nina
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She was running she could hear them behind her hear the dogs sniffing her trail it was dark and she could barely see, the night was all shadows with silver moonlight scattered through leaves and moss. Off to her left she heard more dogs and looking she saw the flashlight beams flickering back and forth searching.

 

Searching for her.

 

She careened off a cypress tree that suddenly appeared in her path , biting her tongue to stifle a yelp of pain she fell to the damp ground and rolled smoothly up on to her knee. Silently she caught her breath and swallowed the blood from her bit tongue, no need to help them by spitting the blood out. Then she saw another light this one more yellow and unmoving like a lamp in a window.  The sounds of pursuit were moving off to her left the yellow light was to her right. She made it shakily to her feet and headed that way it was further than she had thought but soon she saw the shape of an old shack in the darkness a single lamp glowing in a window. It was the kind of shack you would see I on tv's the swamp people and now she could hear water lapping against a shore nearby.

 

She slowly moved toward the shack; the sound of pursuit lost in the darkness.  As she came closer to the porch the door opened and a man came out holding the lamp from the window, She sucked in her breath when she saw his face. It was one she knew by heart she carried a photo of him in her wallet in her purse. It was her father.

 

“Aww Baby, I'm so so sorry I wasn't there for you So much I need to tell you.”

 

The sound of the dogs grew loud again, and she could hear running feet snapping branches they were here.

 

“Daddy?”

 

“I'm Sorry baby I have to go. Be careful baby be careful who you trust...”

 

The loud cracking sound rang like a gunshot in her ear and Karen Gaunt jerked awake in the front seat of her car and found herself staring out her door window at a big silver ring on a big beefy hand connected to a leather clad big beefy arm...but all she saw was the silver ring.

 

“Ma'am, are you alright?”

 

 

She wouldn't have lasted as long as she had if she couldn't go from asleep to coherent in a hurry, but the sight of that ring, gleaming in the light cast by the golden arches jolted Karen awake even faster than normal, jolting away from the window with a small yelp. Her brown eyes fixed on the ring as her heart beat a mile a minute, and she recovered her poise enough to sit up normally and flash him a sleepy smile.

 

"Good morning, Officer," she replied loud enough to be heard through the window, "Yes, I'm fine. If you'll give me a second to roll down the window..."

 

The stout agent of the law gave her a nod and stepped back ever so slightly as the very pretty brunette rolled down the window, very careful to keep her free hand visible at all times. Even if he didn't have that ring, Karen didn't want to start this morning with an assault on a cop or explain away something she wouldn't have believed 4 months and a week ago.

 

"I'm terribly sorry about this, Sir. I was just on the roadway too many hours yesterday, lost honestly, and couldn't find a motel for the night. Didn't want to nod off behind the wheel and run myself into the swamp," she offered in explanation, aware of her rumpled appearance and wishing she'd at least had a chance to brush her teeth and run a comb through her hair before having this conversation. 

 

Deputy Bufford glanced in the back of the car and kept one hand on his pistol because he wasn't about to end up being gunned down by some crazy meth-head in a McDonald's parking lot. But then aside from the just woke up messy hair she didn't look like any meth-head, matter of fact she looked pretty damn good. Messy hair and all. Plus, the plates matched the car and weren’t listed as stolen, now to see if the car matched the driver.

 

"Quite all right ma'am no law against sleeping in a car unless your loaded." his attempt at humor felt a little flat. "Can I see your license please and the registration for your car? Just routine."

 

Karen smiled up at the cop as she handed them over. he walked back to his patrol car and talked on a radio for a couple of minutes before returning all smiles. "Everything checks out ma'am," he said handing back the documents, "If you’re heading on into New Orleans just get back on 90 here and it will take you right into the city. If you’re looking for a hotel you may want to take the 310 and then take I10 the rest of the way, most of the hotels and motels are off the interstate, but there are a few off of 90 a little way up the road. Either way it's about thirty miles to the city." he steps back gives her a little salute, "You have a safe trip ma'am." And returns to his car.

 

Karen breathed a sigh of relief as the policeman pulled out of the parking lot, she glanced up at the mirror and saw the McDonald's in the reflection. "Right bathroom and coffee."

 

Dan Hawkins was getting ready. The truck now had a full tank, and he was filling the two five-gallon cans for the boats his friends and pack mates would take into the deep swamps tomorrow. He looked across the parking lot at the McDonald's and nodded to himself as he tightened the cap on the last can. "Hate the food, but I do like the coffee." he said to no one as he started to walk across the lot leaving the truck at the pump.

 

The McDonald's was fairly busy with morning commuters on their way to work stopping in just like him, for coffee and something to eat, after all even out here in what city folk called the backwoods, life moved too fast for the old traditional way of doing things.

Dan frowned at his thought then moved up  to the register when it was his turn his mind was on the next couple of days he had already decided where to take those who would be following him, it was an area none of them had hunted in a while so it should be safe. The salesgirl gave him his coffee and bag with his McMuffin and he gave her his money.

 

Karen felt better with freshly brushed teeth and hair and was looking forward to a good cup of coffee and something to eat. She had gotten in line behind a tall drink of water and was busy admiring his butt encased in a worn pair of wranglers when he stepped back and turned to face her almost running her over.

 

Dan hadn't noticed the woman who had come out of the restroom and gotten into line behind him so when he turned to leave, he almost ran her over, however his quick reflexes allowed him to twist away so that me missed her almost completely, at the same time he twisted away from the collision, she dodged away as well. with almost inhuman quickness so that only their arms brushed and that was all that was needed. 

 

Karen's eyes locked with the mans and her world spun around!

 

Night, a full moon, the tall man in the wranglers but younger, a knife flashes, the wrangler man  pulls a gun which barks loud, once, twice... the knife clatters to the shell roadway blood on the handle, wrangler man convulses and drops the gun as he falls to his knees and screams, yellow eyes in the night, the moon is full...

 

Dan paused to apologize to the woman he almost ran over, "Excuse me ma'am i'm sorry I ..." but the words died on his lips at the sight of the look of shock on her face.

 

Holy shit, you have it, too," Karen breathed, having avoided trouble with the aid of the crazy dreams one too many times to doubt what she'd seen even if the fact she'd seen it while awake did not help her train of thought as it derailed from the dream of her father and how many miles she'd have to run to pay off this meal to the fact she was less than three feet away from a werewolf. Well, another werewolf anyway. The train of thought reversed a little and repeated a very important fact.

 

She was less than three feet away from another werewolf. And given her own track record...

 

"Holy shit, please don't hurt me," she thought aloud, the blood leaving her cheeks and eyes flashing gold for a heartbeat. She took a step back, struggling to rally the usual suite of pat responses and glib deflections that had served her so well and suddenly seemed moot in the face of a wild goose chase bearing fruit so early and bluntly.

 

So far it was a fairly good morning, for one that he wasn't out in the marsh.   Dan wasn't in a bad mood, but he'd been thinking about what he'd do going into the evening, as it was nearly the full moon.  He'd nearly run over a young woman as he was lost in thought, and even as he was making an apology her words stopped him cold.

His Steel grey eyes met hers and then narrowed.  "I'm not gonna hurt you, it was simply an accident.  Sorry about that."  He knew he looked to be a somewhat gruff individual, and he was,  but generally not with his own kind.  He turned back to the counter and nodded to Karren.  "Order what you want, I'll cover it as an apology, We can go talk about what you said."
 

Well, this was a good start all things considered. Definitely an upgrade from being awakened by the cop with his damn silver ring.

 

"Thank you. Please call me Karen," the brunette replied with an embarrassed smile. Words. Words were good. If words were paint colors, she'd be Picasso. It was when things went past words that life got bad, much as she was prepared to handle that these days, and if he'd been living with this... condition... as long as the apparent age difference between the vision and what she was seeing indicated... Well, words were good. It took an effort to keep the soothing patter locked away as she turned away from the man to the girl at the counter.

"One large coffee, black and an egg Macmuffin, please," she decided aloud to the girl at the register, glancing sidelong at the local werewolf, "May I have your name?" 

 

"Most just call me "Dan,"  Karen.   That'll work between us."   He'd already ordered, and paid for hers.  Once their orders were filled, he motioned for her to follow him, and lead the way to a booth that was well away from the other patrons, and nodded.  "You're not from around here.  Can I ask what brings you this way?"  Obviously he was the sort who got right to the point.   He looked to be discerning enough to realize the "Condition" was a part of it, but was giving her a chance to correct the assumption herself. 

 

Karen took a moment to sip on her coffee before answering, warming her fingers around the beverage.

 

"100% California born and raised I'm afraid," she volunteered with a smile before freeing one hand to doodle on the table with a pointer finger, "Little less than 5 months ago, I started having these strange allergies with really bad breakouts about once a month."

She paused, shifting her gaze from Dan's face to the plastic tabletop where her finger had sketched the crude outline of a wolf's head howling against the moon in condensation from her cup. The brunette waited long enough to make sure he had caught the image before wiping it away and continuing, "What little I've found says it can run in families and since no one on my Mom's side seems to have had the condition, I'm running down my Dad's side of the family tree. He died about 27 years ago when I was too young to remember much, and Mom doesn't talk about him a lot. He apparently came from around here, though, so if you know where I can find a census office or newspaper archive..?"

 

She pulled the much-loved picture of one 'Jack Gaunt' from her wallet, sliding it across the table before unwrapping her McMuffin and taking a bite as if she were discussing the weather.

 

Dan nodded.  "Yeah, I can show you to one of the libraries, They'll have a newspaper archive for sure, and I bed there's somewhere here in New Orleans that can help you out with Census information too, though I don't recall a specific place aside from the courthouse off hand."   

He looked at the picture, and shook his head.  "Not someone I know, though I can ask around, talk to some friends.   If you're right and he was one of us, there's a good chance someone knows him, or maybe even is kin to him aside from you."

 

Huh. Interesting. Just what she landed herself in if there was such a big 'us' factor going on? The internet had said nothing about werewolves being some kind of secret brotherhood. Or it could just be a small town thing. Karen had always had to move more quickly in places like this to avoid problems.

 

"Again, very appreciated. Although, I insist you let me repay the favor by covering one of your meals afterwards. Show me the pleasure of trying something more New Orleans than the golden arches," she replied with a bit of a laugh and another sip of coffee.

"I don't suppose there are any good trailheads around here, are there? My... allergies get pretty bad and I'd rather not be around people when they flare up. Just about due for another round of misery." 

 

He nodded.  "Of course.  I know some great places if you want a taste of real Cajun cuisine.  You will likely have never heard of them, but I promise, you won't forget them after having their food."

He drank his own coffee and sighed.  "I know all about those "allergies"  I suffer some pretty bad ones myself.   Tell you what, I've got an extra room at my place, you can have that, until you get a chance to look around and find you somewhere else.   It is abit off the beaten path, not being by the city, but It's got power, and privacy.   Do you normally stay in when you suffer this, or do you let it Run its course naturally?"   He figured he made what he was implying fairly clear, if she bound herself up during the change, or ran free as a wolf.

Had anyone else fed her a line like what he'd said, it would have been a thinly veiled come-on, but this didn't feel like that.   There was no inkling of attraction, just a certain type of understanding.   

If she was gonna be in the area, she'd need to join a pack, or end up dead, one way or another.   Getting to know Karen first was paramount for him, to decide if he was going to vouch for her to his own.

 

Karen smiled, the game afoot and loving it. She reached over to recover her picture for stowage in her wallet.

 

"First two times I didn't know what was going on, so I sort of let it take it's course by accident. The last two times, I hiked a day or two away from civilization and avoided any... immediate... problems," she replied, the smile dying by inches as fever-bright visions of the people she'd hurt and eaten during those first two nights flashed in front of her eyes. How much she'd liked it while it was happening, and how disgusted at herself she felt afterwards.

 

"I was hoping to do the same thing this month, but I don't know if our symptoms might get worse together. Wouldn't want to hurt my host. Get kind of short-tempered and snap at everyone over anything. Hate it," the brunette concluded bitterly, chugging a slug of her coffee, "You probably know something I don't if you're offering though."

 

"You won't harm me, unless you intend to, same goes for me, regarding you.  We're sorta wired that way.   No one with the condition unintentionally harms someone else with it.  So yeah, I reckon we'd be pretty safe together.  It also helps that I know the land, and what and  who we're likely to run into out in the marsh and bayous.   The whole Tempers flaring part is natural, I can't promise I'll be a vision of calm, but at least we'd be away from anyone else."

She really had no idea how to be a wolf, what it meant, what being part of a pack was like.   He'd have to show her alot, before making introductions.   He resolved that he'd make a phone call or two when he got home, to see if he could find any of her father's kin.

 

The brunette swallowed another bite of food and followed it up with some more coffee, absorbing that information, dark eyes considering, "Sounds like this is a conversation that can continue more freely in a more private setting. If you've got things to do, point me in the direction of one of those libraries and we can meet up there later after I've done my first digging. Names are fickle things, but if I can catch him in a photo above an old article..."

 

She looked down and up again, eyes gleaming as she considered what this first success could mean, "Bumping into you is one of my biggest pieces of good luck since this started happening, Dan. You have no idea."

 

Dan nodded.  I can t"ake you there if you want.  You can follow me, and I'll help you look for awhile.   I do have some errands to run in town, so I'll swing back by to lead you to my place."

He smiled.  "Of course, having your phone number and you having mine will facilitate communication alot better."

 

"Certainly," she replied, producing a notebook and pen from her purse and scribbling down her number before ripping out the page and sliding it across to him.

 

"Quick question before we wrap this up. The Deputy, Bufford I think his name was, he woke me up in my car this morning. Does he know about us? Because he was wearing a *big* silver ring on his right hand, the same hand he kept near his gun when he thought I might be a crazy person." 

 

Dan furrowed his brow at the unexpected question. "Which Bufford, Charles, Clarence, or Jefferson? Was he a big fellow, short hair no mustache?" He asked Karen.

 

"Yeah he was big, don't know about his hair he was wearing a hat, but he didn't have a mustache." Karen answered a bit taken aback that there were three deputy Bufford's.

 

"That's Clarence, he's mostly harmless and no he doesn't know or probably doesn't" He pauses looks over at his truck. "Tell you what Karen. Where we are going is in the city and theres a lot of criss crossing streets and one ways and it's real easy to get lost if your not used to driving here. Why don't we go in one vehicle, you can drive I'll navigate that way you get a feel for it and I can fill you in on some things you need to know about...this whole thing."

 

Karen studied her new 'friend' a moment considering. She was a good reader of people she had to be in her line of work and she didn't doubt his sincerity, so after a momnet she nodded. "Alright that might be easier than following you, but what about those errands?"

"Ain't nothing that can't wait till we done in the city." he replied, "Just let me lock up my truck and make a call to my cousin tell him to come get the gas before it goes disappearing."

 

He walked over to his truck pulling out his phone while Karen cleared out the front of her car that she had pretty much been living in for over a week. After the third ring someone picked up. "Hey There, This Cabe? It's me Dan."

 

Cabe Lowery hadn't been expecting any calls especially from his cousin Dan. He set is fishing rod to the side and stared off at the water lapping at the bank. "Yeah Dan, This Cabe, something wrong?"

 

"No cous, I.. I run into a old friend at Micky D's," Dan couldn't say why he suddenly didn't feel comfortable speaking openly but he did. " She's, ah, blood, you know? Look I'm thinking of bringing her out to the get together tomorrow but She trying to find some relatives and she not sure they still here a bouts." Dan really hoped Cabe was getting what he was saying.

 

Cabe for his part was a bit confused but then he was the Bayou Pack's alpha leader and was used to people talking weird to him. He think he understood. "Okay Dan I hear what your saying what's the name of these folks?"

 

Dan nodded to himself, "The Family name is Gaunt her daddy was called Jack Gaunt. He died back where she's from when she was little and that's the only name she has. You know any Gaunt's"

 

Cabe thought for a minute. "There's some Gaunt's over in Belle Chasse, or used to be, I don't know em but daddy did business with them back in the day. But far as I know they ain't blood." Cabe thinks for a minute silence over the phone. "Dan you sure this friend's blood? If you are might want to go out and visit Emily, anyone know it'll be Emily. Anyway, you go on and bring her, we take care of our own. Talk to you later cous."

 

Dan disconnected and put the phone up then after making sure the truck was secure joined Karen at her car.

 

Once they were settled int he car  Karen pulled up to the road "Which way?"

 

Dan pointed to the right "Just get on 90 and stay on the high way keep to the right. Look you said something about Clarance's ring, it being silver. That's all movie and story book crap, mostly. But there is things you need to know especially if you want to stay around here.." He looked over at her to make sure she was listening.

 

"Of course I want to know" Karen said keeping one eye on the road and the other on Dan.

 

"OK First Silver ain't nuthin' but pretty. But you have to watch out for wolvesbane. It's poison too much can kill you, a little will make you weak and even take you out of worf form if you get some in your system and keep you from even turning while it's killing you. So stay away from it."

 

Karen laughed a little, "Wolvesbane where am i likely to find that it's not like it grows all over the place. Does it?"

 

" No but you can count on the witches and the vampires having it."

 

"Wait...what?" Karen looked square at Dan before peeling her eyes back to the road as the car started to swerve.

 

"What you’re a werewolf, did you think we were the only supernatural creatures?" Asked Dan "Look we have the next few days I'll fill you in on whatever you need to know but for right now let me just give you the five cent intro. There are witches and there are vampires and there is us. we all have interests in New Orleans have since the city was founded hell since before then. For centuries we fought over it and sometimes we was winning, some times one of them was winning. But ever since the nineteen forties there has been a truce. There's rules we all have to abide by. One of them rules is we ain't allowed in the city on the full moon or the day before and after, the days we suffer the curse. Getting caught in the city could get you killed or start a war. so, we avoid that by going deep into the sticks where we can hunt and be safe. Some of stay out there and only go in when we have to and some of us like to live dangerously and live right there with the others. That’s mostly the Crescent Wolves but lately even some of our younger members have started staying in the city. But blood is blood we all family with the curse triggered or not. We take care of family."  Dan took a sip of now tepid coffee.

 

"Now that other thing, my cousin knows of some people which your name but he don't know em personally and he don't think they are blood. Now we may be able to find your daddy's picture in a book somewhere but there is another place we can go. There's a old grandma she live ou tin the swamp, she's blood probably the oldest one living, Cabe says if anyone know about your daddy it be Miss Emily.

So we can go into the city or we can go an ask Miss Emily. What you want to do?"

 

Well. Wasn't that nice?

 

It took her very best poker face discipline to keep from giving Dan a sidelong 'wait what?' glare of disbelief. And with all this talk of blood this and kin that... The bitten turning into wolves probably wasn't as big a deal as she thought.

 

"The library will still be there after the full moon, Dan. If you're offering to introduce me, I'd be my most sincere pleasure to meet Miss Emily," she replied, eyes firmly on the road, thoughts dancing to innocent Coraline laughing last Halloween and the macabre shadow games that could await her if she ended up with the same problems. Not if Karen could help it.  

 

Dan nodded.  "Then we head out to her house.  It's way out, away from the city. so far that I hate to say it, but we're gonna have to walk the last mile, as there ain't no road past that."

He knew the way, all the wolves did, She was over seventy, probably the eldest of them in the area.  She had ties with both packs, and everyone respected her.   

Once Karen nodded, they threw their trash and left in her car.   Dan guided her out to where the road ended, and once it was locked, he smiled.  "Alright, let's hike  the rest."   

The trek wasn't hard,  but there were no paths for the car, and They came to a part of the Marshland that cleared slightly.  Nestled beside one of the small, unmarked bayous that crossed the Marshlands of Louisiana was a small house, built almost entirely of cypress wood, With a sturdy aluminum roof.  "There's actually cypress moss under it to act as a sound muffler and shock absorber for when it rains, otherwise It'd be way too loud."

He commented as they drew near.  "Now, Miss Emily is well respected, by all of us around here, but she's not one for new ways.   It's a good bet she already knows we're here, so just be honest"

As an afterthought, he asked.  "Do you speak French?"

With that he reached up to the sturdy door and gave it a good knock.  "Miss Emily, it's Daniel Hawkins, I brought someone who needs some help, and We thought coming out to you would save a trip to the city."

He knew the older wolf loved to have visitors,  especially those who thought more highly of her knowledge than the City she technically called home.   Dan wasn't unknown to her either, She'd loved hearing him tell stories at the gatherings, even some she herself had told him.  He'd taken to the True Cajun culture of his family, and while he lived far closer than she did, he understood the value of the old ways.

 

The house stood silent for a minute then two only the noise of the marsh disturbs the quiet. Then the front door opened up and an old woman stepped out onto the porch. She was holding a dish towel and drying her hands casually.

"Well Dan Hawkins. Did Caleb send you  out here to fetch me to the meet?" she said as she looked Karen up and down with a practiced eye. "And who is this? I don't recognize her."

 

"Karen Gaunt, M'am," she volunteered, the old axiom 'in a young man's profession, beware the old man.' flitting through her mind.

 

"And no. I'm not local, although my father apparently was from what little I know. He died 27 years ago when I was too young to remember much. But from the little I've been able to learn, right or wrong, he did leave me something very... Dangerous. I killed someone five months ago, hit them too hard in a fight, and the next full moon I... changed and killed someone else. And then the other powers started coming in but I was too pig-headed to accept that I was some monster out of a god-damn movie, so the next full moon happened..."

 

She shook her head, clamping down on the torrent of words, breathing in and out through her nose before continuing.

 

"Anyway, I started taking long hikes once a month, and looking for answers about what was going on, and stumbled on Dan here to my good luck. And my daughter's if she has this, too."

Dan looked at her for a moment, considering she'd said nothing of a daughter before, before turning his attention back to Miss Emily.   "No Ma'am, though when it's time, I'll come get you for it if that's what you want."  

"I did bring Karen here out to visit you because I thought if anyone could remember one of us from over thirty years ago it was you, as you pretty much know all of us.   I remember Aunt Clotille telling me to come to you if I wanted to know about the members of the packs when I was younger, that no one knew more, so here we are."

He gave her a knowing smile, 'Karen's Father was Jack Gaunt.   Now the Gaunts over in Belle Chase aren't of the Blood, but sometimes I know that it can happen."

"Do you recall a Jack Gaunt?"  He motioned for Karen to produce the picture and showed it to Miss Emily.  "We do have a picture if it helps."

 

Dan almost missed the slight shake of Emily's head as he spoke Jack Gaunt's name, but even though he caught it, it was too late the words had already left his lips.

 

The open door behind Emily opened wider and a very tall thin man stepped out his long white hair and full mustache gleaming in the sun. The man smiled a big wide grin at Emily and the newcomers, Then he leaned down and gave Emily a peck on the cheek. "Fine fine meal, Emily, as always. Arn't you gonna introduce me to your friends.?" The man stepped down off the porch and toward Dan and Karen.

 

Emily clasped her hands in front of her and nodded, "Of course, Dan, Karen, this is Colby Walker, an old friend from... out west. Colby, this here is Dan Hawkins and his friend Karen."

 

Colby steps closer and extends a hand to Dan. "Nice to meet ya Dan." Dan takes the hand and a flash chases across his vision at the touch.

 

A large white wolf the largest Dan has ever seen howling at the blood red full moon behind him the scattered remains of dozens of corpses the howl finishes and the wolf looks directly into Dan's eyes

 

Colby releases Dan's hand and extends his toward Karen "And very pleased to meet you, Karen Gaunt." He grins at her.

 

Ah Hell  The thought went through his mind.  He was always fairly straight to the point, and that worked against him sometimes.  This was gonna be one of those times.   Nothing for it now though, and he damped down the tension the vision gave him.  This guy was not someone to be trifled with, and giving out that name, he'd likely already stepped in it deep.   Still nobody sane would start shit in broad daylight.   He could only hope Karen had caught that shake too.   That little vision was something else.  There'd never been a wolf like that, well not since ancient times.

 

Just who the hell is this guy?  Clearly he was someone to be careful around.  Dan kept his own neutral expression, and there was a shadow of memory clawing its way to the surface of his mind.   There was once a Wolf Patriarch here by the name of Colby Walker, but that was back in the early twentieth century...  It wasn't impossible for him to still be around, and after a certain point wolves really didn't seem to get much older.  

Yeah, They'd stepped into something bigger.   Nobody came to Miss Emily without reason, and If this guy really was the Former Patriarch and Alpha, well something big was about to happen in the Big Easy.

To think, today started off so good...

 

There were perks to being a people person, one of them being alert to the little tells of a situation on the verge of going sour. And nothing stank like family history, especially if you didn't know about how it was coming back to bite you in the ass. She would have oh-so-many questions for Dan later.

 

"The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Walker. A friendly face is alwa..!" Karen's introduction ended in a yelp as she touched him to return the handshake and got the violent vision as well, complete with heart-stopping glare climax. She retreated two steps from him before she could gather her cool again, hand curled against her chest as if scalded, eyes flashing gold at the perceived threat.

 

"My apologies. You would be the third werewolf I've ever knowingly met, and my... abilities… are reacting strangely."  

 

Colby tilts his head to the side still looking down at Karen, he gives a little chuckle, "Little lady, you stay around here I think you are going to get a lot of eye opening. Best learn to control your reactions, not everyone is a friend and not everyone likes people who know secrets about them." He turns away from Karen back toward Dan and Emily,

 

"Thank you for the meal Emily, I'd best be going on, looks like you have things to attend too. Nice meeting you Dan Hawkins," He turns back to Karen and smiles that shark grin. And an incredible pleasure meeting you Miss Gaunt."

 

 He reaches up and brushes his knuckle against his brow in an old fashioned salut then steps past her and starts walking on down the same path Dan and Karen had come up.  Before he goes about ten feet he starts to whistle and soon he is in the trees and out of sight the only evidence is the whistling which also fades away.

 

"You two better come on inside I'll fix some coffee and then hear what you have to say." Emily ushers them into the house and shows them the sofa before heading back into her kitchen. Dan and Karen can see that there is a mostly eaten plate of food on the dining table as well as two glasses of half empty tea. There is a sofa and two lounge chairs set before a fire place. There is electric lights but no TV or radio that can be seen.

 

"Dan see if you can get that fire going while I get the coffee" Emily hollers from the kitchen

 

Dan nodded, abit relieved that he simply left, but he knew it was far from over.   In the meantime, he head over to the Fireplace, and with minimal effort, he got the fireplace going.   His own home had one too, so it wasn't as if he were unpracticed.  He didn't ask about Colby, if she wanted him to know, she'd tell them, or him alone later.   Still it didn't seem like it was the most pleasant of visits.

 

Dan nodded, abit relieved that he simply left, but he knew it was far from over.   In the meantime, he head over to the Fireplace, and with minimal effort, he got the fireplace going.   His own home had one too, so it wasn't as if he were unpracticed.  He didn't ask about Colby, if she wanted him to know, she'd tell them, or him alone later.   Still it didn't seem like it was the most pleasant of visits.

 

Karen offered to help with the coffee but was politely turned down so she stood in the living room of the old house while Dan made a fire. In a short time, Emily returned bearing a tray with a very old fashioned coffee carafe and three cups as well as a bowl of sugar and a cup of milk.

 

"Don't have none of that creamer you young kids use so you'll have to use milk." Emily said as she set down the tray on the coffee table then poured three cups. Taking one of the cups she sat in one of the comfy chairs and took a sip of the black brew.

 

"Well two surprises in one day, enough to set a woman's heart to beaten a bit two fast. Where you come from child? Ain't been no Gaunt's with the curse around here in almost a hundred years. And to have Colby Walker reappear in the area on the same day that's just too much of a coincidence." Emily set her cup down. "Who'd you say your daddy was?"

 

Karen took a cautious sip of the black stuff and had to mask a grimace at how strong it was. Hmmm. She didn't need any more caffeine this morning anyway.

 

"The greater area of San Jose, California, Ma'am. At least on my Mom's side," the brunette answered, producing the photograph for the older woman's inspection, "And his name was Jack Gaunt. And at least the last part of that was his actual name because your... guest seemed to recognize it enough to feel very strongly about it. Bad blood or something close enough to it."

 

Her dark eyes burned with concern, glancing at Dan as a thought occurred to her, "Who the hell is he? Is he a threat to my daughter, the kind that I've been trying keep away from her? That monster of a wolf I saw when I touched him..."

 

Dan winced openly.  "Well, at least you waited to say that after he left."   He took the offered coffee and added nothing to it. "I know of a Colby Walker, but if that was him, then he's at least a hundred years old, and an extremely powerful Werwolf.  He was the Alpha and Patriarch of the Pack here In New Orleans, before it became two packs."

 

"Not someone to cross, ever."

 

Emily took the photo but kept her eye on Karen. She had caught the reference to a monster wolf but remained silent. She looked at the old photo in her hand and sat back in her chair hard a look of shock on her face  "This cannot be real. This is your daddy Karen? When was this picture taken?" There was a sense of urgency in the old woman's voice.

 

 

Meave was not in a good mood she had arrived at work and noticed some of the other employees her cousin Dave Jr. and his pal Corey, both of whom worked as stockers at the store were giving her looks and laughing among themselves. Her uncle Dave had called her over and gave her a work order. a list of groceries to collect ring and then she would have to actually deliver them. Delivery was one of the services the store did for the older and disabled members of the community. Today she was delivering out to Emily Parker a old woman who lived out in the swamp. The boys found it amusing. She soon found out why.

 

"It is a bit of a hassle, but Miss Emily is special and at least she doesn't get a lot." he handed her two canvas carry all bags with long straps that you could sling over your shoulders. "You'll need these the road out to her place ends a bit short of her house so you have to haul the groceries in.'

 

A little short she checked the map on her phone again she would have almost a mile to walk carrying this old hags groceries. "This sucks" she said out loud as she got out of her car and looked over at the Prius with California plates that she had parked behind. Meave wondered who was out here and if they were visiting this old lady. Suddenly she had that shiver run up her spine that you get when someone is watching you.  She quickly looked around and saw no one but when she turned back toward the direction of her destination, she saw an old tall thin man standing right next to the Prius. He hadn't been there a moment ago she could have sworn

 

"Sorry missy didn't mean to startle you there. Fancy car ain't it" he said with a long drawl indicating the car in front of him.

 

"I suppose so sir" Meave replied tensing ready to run or defend herself if need be

 

"Well now is that an Irish brogue i hear?" he asked when she spoke

 

'Tis." she said in return.

 

"Well how about that this day getting more and more interesting. Looks like my rides here." He points back up the road where a black Navigator is slowly approaching. "Do me a favor missy, I figure you taking them groceries to Emily Parker when you get there tell that Karen girl, she should buy American."

 

"Of course, sir, I'll be sure to do that. Have a nice day." She offers the man a small smile and a nod before moving to the back of her own car to begin unloading it, taking her time and keeping the older gent in the corner of her eye. When he finally got into the Black car and she was firmly in the rear view mirror, she finally lets herself relax, letting out a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding.

"Christ. Clearly, I'm too wound up right now. Let's just get this over with."

 

She casually slings the grocery bags over her shoulders, before setting off down the road. At least the longer she was on this delivery the less she had to put up with Corey or the younger Dave. 20 minutes up the road, 20 minutes back, however, long to drive. An hour, an hour and 20, easy.

 

Coming up to the door, she lets out another breath before pasting a smile on and knocking on the door.

 

"Excuse me, Miss Emily? Delivery from Dave's for you!"

 

Karen was a bit taken aback by the old woman's reaction, "I don't know really, probably around the time I was born, I would guess. A couple of years before he...before he died."she answered softly.

 

Emily handed the photo back to Karen and gave Dan an appraising look. "And you just happened to run into this young woman today?"

 

"Yes ma'am I was filling gas cans for the boats for tomorrow I was planning on taking my group down the east side the Baie Du Cabanage."

 

"Oh really, your group? Your not alpha yet Dan even if there be some who think ya ought to be. You best be careful naming things yer own before they is," Emily chastised Dan.

 

"Now, them Gaunt's over there in Belle Chasse they ain't got no bloodline connections they moved in here during the war and stayed after.” Emily pushes herself ou tof the chair and walks over to the fireplace, stares at the flames. ”Ain't no Gaunt's with the curse I even heard of least ways not down here in the swamps.

 

But there were some went by the name Gant. They come like a lot of the old when the Acadians got sent here. But the last of them was killed during the big war in '34. 

 

It was a much different time back then. We din't have tv most of us hadn't even seen a motion picture yet. And people knew. Knew about wolves, and witches, and god help us the goddam vampires.

 

'34 was a year of upheaval and change hereabouts. Huey Long was still in power and he all but declared war on New Orleans for political reason is what your history books will say and there is truth there but his real reasons was because the Vampires that had ruled this area and kept his machine at bay had left.

 

The Supernaturals in this place were in a turmoil and Long made his move he sent troops in and he sent a pack of werewolves led by the Gants.” While she was talking she had moved across the room to a book and curio shelf where she seemed to be looking for something then she pulled an large book a sort of album from the shelf she thumbed through it and then stopped and stared at some thing then she walked over to Karen and Dan and handed Karen the book and pointed to a photo

 

The picture was old and showed a dozen uniformed men posing in front of a couple of old cars and trucks, some of them were holding Tommy guns.

 

One of the men was the spitting image of Karen's father.

 

Coming up to the door, Maeve lets out another breath before pasting a smile on and knocking on the door.

"Excuse me, Miss Emily? Delivery from Dave's for you!"

 

“Dan, you mind taking care of that.?”

 

Karen relied very hard on her best poker face not to smirk at the small but very present spark of familial pride she gained as she processed what could be behind the wild story she was being told. She knew from 17 years worth of parental arguments and inevitable comparisons to her more boring half-siblings that the lions's share of her... more wild talents and impulses came from her Father, but this… This was the kind of con she'd be green with jealousy to see pulled off.

 

"Does she share our allergies, too, Dan?" she directed at the, surprise surprise, apparent rising alpha before leaning forward towards Miss Emily, voice dropping to a whisper, "Well, with all due respect, however my Father managed it, he got out with his skin intact unless he made a deal with one of these witches as insurance assuming that's a thing. This... war... Would it be the same one that saw your other guest leave town?"

 

Dan grunted in assent, and head for the door, Moving to it, and opening the Door Carefully.  "Miss Emily is with a guest, I'll sign for her delivery."  he said calmly, and then he actually noticed exactly who it was.  "There's no way this is coincidence."

 

He looked back "It's Maeve, do you want to speak to her, or should I just take this?"

 

He looked to the younger werewolf and smiled.  "Did you meet an older gentleman on your way here?"

 

Maeve blinked in surprise. She hadn't honestly expected to run in to anyone on this little excursion, barring Emily herself. Still, nice to see a friendly face. She returns a beaming smile of her own.

 

"Hey, Dan. How's it goin? Yeah. Ran into some older guy down at the bottom of the road. Guy's intense. He's gone now, though. Headed off in a Federale wagon."

 

She looks around curiously.

 

"What brings you out here, anyway? Visiting family?"

 

Dan smiled.  "No, actually I met someone today who's new, and like us.  She came here searching for her Kin, so I brought her out here, since Miss Emily knows all the Local Families and our histories." 

 

He almost wanted her to stay, to meet Karren, but she was on the clock with her job, so he wasn't sure.  Plus it wasn't his home to invite someone into.

 

Meave tried to look past Dan, "Is her name Karen?"

 

That startled Dan a bit but before he could reply Emily called from the living room behind him. "Have her come on in sounds like she knows more'n  she should anyways."

 

Dan's steel grey eyes narrowed as he looked at Maeve, curious as to how she knew that, then recalled she'd met Colby on the way here.  He probably mentioned her.

He stood aside and opened the door.  "Come on in then, if you have the time.  The ladies are in the living room by the fireplace." 

 

"Should have a few minutes, at least. Deliveries gotta allow for a certain leeway in time, at least. Thanks, Dan."

 

He stood there until she came in taking the groceries from her, and heading to put them away for Miss Emily after closing the door

 

Making her way into the main room, Maeve offers both of the women already present a slight smile.

 

"Good afternoon, Miss Emily, Ma'am." She offers a nod to Emily and Karen respectively.

 

"Thank you for the invitation. My name is Maeve." She tucks a strand of dyed grey hair behind one ear, a nervous habit she'd yet to break herself of. Still. At least she wasn't fidgeting.

 

The striking brunette stood up as the new arrival got invited in, the fragments of conversation causing her eyes to narrow. Oh hell no. She'd deal with this. Somehow. An indrawn breath and she plastered her third best smile back in place.

 

"Yes, please do come in. At least long enough to shake the cold off," she added pleasantly.

 

The old woman looked the newest  guest over with a critical eye, "Your Andy Richters girl, aint ya? The one from Ireland." she said pointing to the couch where Karen was seated.

 

"Yes ma'am." Meave said as she took a seat.

 

"Well these uns can catch you up on what ya missed later." said Emily before picking up the photo book and pointing a finger at the man in the picture. "This here, the one look an awful lot like yer daddy, his name was John Gant. He and his brothers they were sent in by Governor Long to pacify New Orleans. you see the city has always been independent of any outside force originally because of the witches but when the Twins came well they brought a plague of a different sort. The Vampires ruled New Orleans for damn near  two hundred years. But in nineteen thirty two they up and left and New Orleans had a power vacuum and everyone wanted to fill it.

 

All three of the supernatural Factions went to war to take over and that's when Huey Long made his move. The Gant werewolves along with a coven of witches came in and took over They paid off the Vampires and the witches. New Orleans was Longs and wasn't anything anyone could do. But then Colby Walker made a deal with Lilith Rambaux One of the only vampires from the twins organization left, she had not taken sides but Colby allied himself and gave her the keys to the city for all intents and purposes. It's what led to the split in the pakc. She called in favors they made a vampire army and with us the Gants and their witches didn't stand a chance. It was slaughter. none of the gants survived even john. I was there I saw their bodies. It didn't stop there though. Lillith wasn't going to leave a werewolf pack that would have vendetta agianst her. No she hunted them all down and killed them all. and Colby helped. It was after that that the packs split The ones who followed Colby stayed int he city and the rest of us we went into the bayous and the Bayou pack was born. A few years later Colby renounced his leadership of the Crescents and left went out west.

 

Lillith hunted all of the Gants everywhere their entire pack. She wiped them out. And now here you are. Gaunt is a form of the name Gant and your daddy was called Jack, a nickname for John.  And out of the blue after seventy years Colby Walker shows up on my doorstep and then you do too. That ain't coincidence honey."

 

That... Was a lot to catch up on. Still, no call in letting that daunt her too much. Only those who dared could succeed, after all.

 

"Apparently not, Ma'am," Karen agreed, thinking back to her dream the previous night, "You say Walker and Lilith hunting down all the wolves. What about the witches? What can they do? Because unless my Daddy was secretly Jesus, too, I'm willing to bet it would take magic to trick all of you or come back from the dead. And it doesn't sound like he was exactly saint material, so I'll toss that first possibility aside."

 

She smiled wryly, trying to take the sting out of her words, spreading her arms to include Dan and Meave in what she was saying next, "If you'll have me, I'd love to learn all I can about how this all works and what to look out for. I can make a living almost anywhere. But all I *really* need is a place to stay during this full moon."

 

Dan listened to the story, and sat there thinking quietly without interrupting. After she finished, and Karen made her request, he nodded.  "I made that offer to you before, It is still good.   There might be some trouble with the Pack, but You are not your father, and, while feud and Vendetta are still things that happen down here, I can't see anyone turning you out over it just yet."

 

"Speaking solely for myself, I' will give you a place to stay for the moon, where you can avoid the worst of it.  What others might say, well that's for them to decide."   He'd already given his word, and he wasn't going to go back on it.  More than that, he drew a line between himself and the pack, if only so they wouldn't be drawn into a war if Colby came looking for one.

 

"She'll be safe enough with the Bayou pack, ain't any gonna connect Gant with Guant without prompting and aside from Colby and me only the Vampires would have memory of that  time and ain't that many of them that old either." Emily stood and began collecting the cups. "If you feel uncomfortable staying with a man your welcome to bed down here tonight. and you can run with the pack tomorrow.

 

The real question after that is what do you intend. we'll assume that somehow your daddy is related to John Gant as crazy as that may be, but you have heard the story there ain't no kin of his around here now maybe in Baton Rouge but even there I don't know how you'd find them. But I suppose we can figure that out after the full moon passes."

 

 

EDITORS NOTE: The preceeding was written by Shamless, Exile, Kao, and Nina

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