After their lesson, Conner advised Jamie to wait with him until nightfall. When asked why, he replied, "There are some things I can only teach you in your wolf form, and since you can't shift at will yet, this is a rare opportunity to teach you properly."
"Teach me what, exactly?"
Once night fell, and the full moon could be seen rising over the treetops and buildings, Jamie automatically felt herself begin to change. As usual, she was surprised by how painless the transformation was, and before she knew it, she had completely turned into a large, gray wolf. Conner stood by her, in his own wolf form, and asked, "Before we go anywhere, do you remember what you just felt?"
"Uhh... sort of. Why?"
"Part of learning how to switch between forms is focusing on the feeling you experience when you transform, and trying to duplicate it mentally. That's a hard trick to master, and it isn't my place to teach you how it's done; I just want you to remember that feeling, and hopefully, that'll help you a little."
"No problem. Now, we have an hour or so before we meet with the pack, so allow me to teach you a few things."
Without warning, Conner swiped at Jamie's face. The blow seemed to almost come at her in slow motion, and she quickly backed away before it made contact. Conner chuckled, and asked, "See that?"
"Your reflexes are much faster in your wolf form. As a human, you might not have seen that coming."
"Oh... Cool! What other cool stuff can I do now?"
"This isn't 'cool stuff', Jamie, these are survival skills. You need to know what you're capable of."
"Okay, fine. What else am I 'capable of', then?"
"Your senses should be even more powerful now, as should your muscles. You've obviously learned how to talk already, so we don't need to cover that. You still need to learn how to blend, howl, and defend yourself..."
"Defend myself? From what?" Jamie sat back on her hind legs, and asked, "Why are you guys so intent on teaching me how to fight? Do you expect me to get into fights often?"
"It's going to be your duty as a member of the pack. You didn't think we gained control of the eastern seaboard peacefully, did you?"
"No. We had to obliterate and push out other packs so that our prosperity could blossom into what it has today. Not a very nice idea to grasp, but it was a necessary sacrifice on their parts."
"But... why do we still have to fight? Aren't we too big of a force to mess with?"
"There are still those that dare to oppose our authority. Most wolves outside the pack know their place beneath us, but the other weres-"
"What do you have against the idea of letting me finish my sentences?"
"Yes, there are other weres. You could have just as easily been bitten by one of the various species of werecat, or possibly one of the bears, among countless other predatory species. But luckily, you wound up on the winning team, so to speak." Conner looked up at the moon, and asked, "Have you ever tested just how fast you were?"
"No... not really."
"Then now's as good a time as any to try it. We're going to be running all the way to Central Park. Just follow my lead."
"Wait, what? Can we run that far?"
Conner looked back at Jamie, with as close to a smile as he could manage with his canine feature. "We're wolves, we could run from here to Canada without stopping if we wanted."
Conner began running off into the trees, and Jamie followed along at his pace. At first, it seemed like they were going at a normal speed, but Jamie soon noticed that Conner kept speeding up, to the point where every tree and building passed by in a blur. She kept up with Conner effortlessly, and mimicked his every move. Soon, they were blazing a trail down deserted alleys, and under a highway. The Triboro Bridge loomed ahead, and grew considerably larger with each passing second. Instead of running across the bridge where they could have been seen, Conner led them under it, and into the river. Jamie wasn't sure if she could swim any faster than normal at first, but once she leaped into the freezing cold depths and started paddling, she was pleasantly surprised by how quickly she could move through the water. Conner took off like a rocket once they hit dry land, and Jamie did her best to keep up as they raced along several city streets, and hopped over a short stone wall that separated Central Park from the rest of the city. Once they were within the boundaries of the park, Conner slowed his pace, and eventually stopped near a small man-made lake on the north eastern side.
As midnight drew nearer, they were joined by countless other wolves; most of them sported black or gray fur, but an odd few could be found with patches of white. Only Amaury's fur was white all over, and when he finally arrived, he stuck out like a sore thumb. Right at midnight, Alpha slipped through the throng of wolves, and sat down atop a large rock. For a moment, he just looked out at the crowd in silence, taking in every face. His old eyes scanned the area, and a fleeting look of surprise crossed his face when he sniffed the air. A moment more of silence, and then he said, "We are not alone."
The faces staring up at him grew confused, but kept their silence while he continued. "I'm not sure how any of you could have missed it, but the air reeks of another pack. I fear that we are going to be ambushed any minute now." Like everyone else in the crowd, Jamie breathed in, and caught what Alpha was talking about; there was a faint trace of several unfamiliar scents floating around, and they were still fresh. Alpha looked calmly out at the congregation, and said, "Those among you who wish to fight, stay with me. Rhea, I need you to take the uninitiated, the pups, and any others who don't want to fight to a safer place. We'll meet again when the battle's over."
At this point, the crowd quickly split in two; the younger wolves, and several who were older, but weren't full members of the pack grouped around a wolf with dark brown fur, whilst the rest surrounded Alpha, Razor, and several others who appeared to be generals of some sort. Jamie struggled to rush through the crowd and find Amaury, who was likewise trying to find her. They met somewhere in the middle of the crowd, and just stared at each other. Jamie asked quietly, "Who are you going with?"
Amaury looked at the ground, and replied, "I have to fight."
"Me... I know it would be safer to stay with you, but-"
"I figured you would say that..." Jamie sighed, and fought to keep her voice even. "Just, do me a favor and don't die, okay? It would be pretty sweet if you didn't die."
"Don't worry about me," Amaury said as he buried his face in the fur on Jamie's neck for a brief moment. He breathed in her scent deeply, and whispered, "I plan on coming back to you," before turning and running over to the rest of the warriors.
~Note from the author~
I'm really sorry to do this, but... the story's gotta go on a hiatus for a little bit. Between school, work, and let's be honest here, general laziness, I don't have much time for writing at the moment. Hoping to be able to kick the story back into gear soon though, so check back every once in a while. Thanks for reading!