Chapter 2

Ben or Wolf

(*)

Three and a Half Months Earlier

She wandered the compound with neither a word nor a sideways glance to those she passed. Not even those who were her superiors. Which irked them to no end. She didn't care. She didn't care about anything. Nothing else mattered. Save for the mission she crossed this compound for.

Military grade steel toe boots hardly made a sound in their brisk strides down the corridor. A thick coat wrapped to a slender waist draped to torn up camouflage style bootcut pants to conceal little surprises strapped to her thighs and hips. Fingerless gloved hands clutched a tablet close to her chest. Her black sleeveless V-Neck not only showed off the muscles of her toned arms, but also an old tattoo of angel wings with three jagged scars tearing through it right at the crevice of her breast. It's meaning and its origin were a complete mystery to her. As far as she's concerned she was born with this tattoo. But the beast that scratched it out robbed it of any significance it may have contained. Lights embedded in the ceiling every few feet or so passed over a pair of boring square rimmed glasses. The only shimmer on her blank face. Hazel eyes completely blind to the bodies passing by her or that were idling. Long, thick, straight brown hair tied into an up high ponytail swung left and right. Like a horse tail swatting away the flies. The flies being all over these up-tightly dressed agents standing around and whispering about her.

"That her? The rookie?" A woman hissed.

"Yeah. That's her?" A man replied in complete disbelief.

"Dude, look how young she is!"

"She's really allowed to dress like that? How shameless."

"She's got a nice rack. Too bad that grim face ruins them."

"What's with that stupid tattoo?"

Regardless of how hushed their gossiping was, or the number of backs to her in their huddled groups, the sterile steel corridors of the soulless compound carried their voices in an aggravating echo which reverberated deep into her ears. She didn't care about their words. Or their feelings towards her. They were nothing more than insects easily stepped on should she have the mind to. It is just a matter of marshalling the effort.

"Her name's...Amelia...Arm something, I think. Not a very intimidating name."

"She's not exactly intimidating. She's a little too cute to be as tough as the rumors say."

"Maybe that's why she scowls."

"Can't believe a pipsqueak like that was already given the rank of 1st above all the other candidates!"

"I heard she was top in all her classes, including the field exercises. Someone said she brought down an S-Rank Demon in some caves near New York."

"That was a fairytale. Everyone knows it was the officer commanding her class that killed it."

"I don't know. Commander Ashram isn't one for making up stories. And she isn't known for having favorites."

"That orphan always had the officers wrapped around her little finger. She's being promoted early because they feel sorry for her."

"Guess Director Arahm just needs a new toy to fondle."

"HA-HA-HA-HA!" The corridor erupted in mockful snickers. The woman - Amelia - paid them not a single mind. She kept walking to her destination, unable to wait for her first assignment to take her away from these mouth breathing underachievers.

Human failing number 1 - Hateful envy towards those who succeed before they do. Expressing this level of disgust with the spread of baseless rumors, snickering and jeering in their target's presence, demeaning their accomplishments by calling them luck or charity. Humans cannot help themselves when they need to revitalize the pride they lost with a missed promotion. It's been that way since Amelia was first brought here. She knew it wouldn't stop when she graduated, or with this promotion. Precisely why, when she was brought on board, she treated every person in that compound like they didn't exist. She only spoke to them when necessary - hardly ever, and she never gave them a first or second glance when passing them by. She didn't waste energy in practice missions saving those who fell behind, share her rations in survival courses, or offer advice to new recruits. It's every man for themselves in this world. No one cares about an urchin in the gutter. Not unless they can be useful. With that said, unless these soldiers were more useful than mouthpieces for spouting a load of shit every hour, she won't ever show mercy or compassion. So all of these mouths spouting their shit can be struck by a nuke in the next hour for all she cares.

"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE, GIRLIE!" A big brown and sweaty hand gripped her by the arm, stopping her in mid stride. She didn't have to turn to face the six foot man with three short tail braids at the end of his shaven head to know who had stopped her. To be honest, this is the last thing she needed before making it to an important meeting she was five minutes away from being late to. "Where do you think you're goin' without paying the proper respects to all those superiors you just moseyed by?!" He mocked her. A group started to form behind the man. He flexed in that tank top of his, showing his comrades that this girl isn't someone they should avoid approaching. And it was working. Their courage grew from idle whispers to mobbing. "Well?! Anything to say, Girlie?" The man challenged, the crowd snickering around him.

"My...superiors...huh?" Amelia mumbled emotionlessly, refusing to face him. Instead she strained her senses to the tension rising in the hallway. The bodies amassing front and rear had no intentions of letting her leave. And it wouldn't matter to them in the slightest if she mentions the appointment she is about to be late for. She relaxed in his grasp. "You're Charlie Vernan - 3rd rank who served directly under Major Alexandra Glory during the course of his training. It's been three years since your promotion from the stars attached to that badge on your chest." A black patch was seen on the jacket he had draped to his shoulders. Three yellow stripes running down with stars on each one.

"Ain't you the observant one!" He teased, towering behind her. His musty breath curled the hair in her nose. The urge to vomit all over his shoes was intense.

She dragged a raspy breath through her mouth, trying desperately to not taste thestench wafting from the gorilla at her back. He hadn't ceased with his taints, she just refused to respond to any of them. "Since entering this hallway…" She trailed off, allowing the gorilla the chance to shut his filthy mouth, "I've passed 2nd and 3rd classes, lieutenants, privates, and even a sergeant or two." She monotonously reported.

"What's your point?! HUH?!" He pressed, his hand never leaving her arm. He wrenched it hard enough that the others watching them winced feeling their own joints popping.

"You said to pay respects to my superiors. Yet, if you took a second to look at the proper place on my chest..." Instead of a patch that would be on her jacket, there was a pendant the same shape as Vernan's patch. A single yellow stripe ran down it, with another strip crossing through it like a cross. Vernan choked dumbly when he caught on, "You'll see no one in this whole stretch of corridor is my superior. In fact," When she finally mustered the effort to turn and face him, Vernan's stomach churned by the dead glare piercing him past those glasses. Like an animal that has no second thoughts about consuming its prey, "None of you are my equal now that I think about it."

Heated growls reverberated in the throats of the crowd. The air vibrating around Amelia and her aggressor. The air was hot with seething disgust for her prideful, beyond the scope of human arrogance, claim. HER there SUPERIOR? By whose authority? Does she truly think that one stripe means shit to any of them?! Anyone can be given those patches! And any one of them in that hallway could take it away if they all jumped her.

"STUPID BITCH!" He swatted her cheek with the back of his hand. Her glasses fell, the lenses cracking on the floor. The impact the crack of a whip. Her head had twisted to the side, and she'd only been forced to take half a step back to keep standing. SHe faced him again. Her glare was hard, but her expression was void. Her cheek swelled, the shape of his hand taking form, and there was a thin trickle of blood running down her chin. "Don't think bein' a first rank makes you special, Little Girl! No matter who's lizard you fondled to get it, you're still that street urchin the Regime took pity on!"

The crowd roared in agreement around them, pumping their fists and barking for her to remember her place. That she was nothing more than a piece of trash from the street that was shown mercy. A shallow title like hers doesn't change that fact. Nothing she does with her pathetic life will ever change that.

"Too true. I am a street rat. And like all vermin from filth," She swiftly reached inside the jacket at her waist, her fingers slipped inside a sheath obscured at her lower back, "I carry many diseases!" In a blur, nothing more than a gleaming streak, a blade with discolored green and purple edges like a bruise sliced the gorilla man's arm just under the inner elbow. The man hissed at the sharp sting, releasing Amelia. She casually backed away from him, sighing with relief as the circulation returned to her arm. "Great. My arm and cheek have proof of this moron touching me." She grumbled.

Vernan inspected the cut in curiosity of the damage. What he saw made him throw his head back in howling laughter. "Ha! Check it out, boys and girls! The bitch gave me a paper cut! Someone call my mommy to kiss it and make it better!" The corridor was echoing with laughter at such a pathetic attack. Seriously? That's all a so-called First Rank can muster? They slapped each other's backs, slapped their knees, hugged their stomachs, a couple slid down the wall. Amelia wasn't interested. She really needed to get going. "I don't know what Director Arahm sees in you, Bitchy, but I'll make your first day a stain on his IMPECCABLE RECORD!" Vernan lunged with a powerful fist flying for her face. A slap isn't enough for this bitch. She needs a good old fashioned punch to remind her where trash belongs.

Amelia exhaled boredly, pouting her lower lip. 'I'm so going to be late,' She grumbled to herself. The fist was inches from her jaw. She jerked back. A cool breeze carrying the musky smell of cheap cologne tickled her nose. It made her eyes water. Vernan gawked dumbly feeling only air meet his fist. He was pissed at her indifferent expression at him. She was mocking him. The crowd told him to shake it off, cheering to him that it was a fluke. They urged him to kick her ass. Vernan was more than happy to oblige. He gathered his wits and squared up to her. He wanted this to be over quickly. With a deep breath he unleashed a barrage of punches for her head, chest, torso, and anywhere else he could reach.

Never breaking her stone cold, bored expression, Amelia kept her arms folded as she dodged every strike, taking half steps backwards before allowing the final one to meet the wall. It caved in, and Vernan let out a howl of pain. He dropped to one knee as the pain ricocheted throughout his arm to his shoulder. The crowd was at a complete loss for words. None of them were able to follow the ferocious strikes, and yet not a single one landed on Amelia. In fact...she just seems really annoyed that he wasn't able to hit her after all his posturing. Not exactly, but she was willing to let them think those.

Amelia wasn't standing too far off from Vernan's side. She stared deadpanned to him, her body language begging that he be done embarrassing himself now. He growled animally, shooting to her feet once more, and quickly countered with a harsh elbow for Amelia's chin. She ducked, diverting the elbow up sharply, and grabbed at the forearm. SHe used it to pull herself up, smashing the ball of her open palm right into Vernan's chin. His head was jerked up so hard that a harsh crack dazed him for the briefest of seconds but it was enough to send him into a spiral. His vision becoming spotty. Amelia kept hold of his arm. Moving herself against him she swept her one foot to one of his. Feeling his body come onto hers she used her free hand to reach around the back of his head. She moved herself in and low, letting the momentum of his heavy frame bring him toppling over her, and she slammed him hard to the cold metal floor. He choked on the wind being robbed from his lungs, eyes and mouth agape in blinded shock and shame. Amelia towered above him, planting a hand to his shoulder. She launched a final punch. Vernan refrained from flinching, ready to have that small knuckle break against his hard head. Her punch stopping short baffled him. Amelia gave a small smirk, then flicked him with her middle finger. An appropriate gesture for him underestimating her.

"If you're done now, I do have an appointment to keep." She stated in tedium. She is so going to be late. She wasn't able to walk five steps before an exaggerated roar stopped her, making her roll her eyes.

"You aint...goin'...nowhere...BITCH!" Vernan declared, sweating dripping down his form. He was starved for breath, his body throbbing, but he was able to at least get to one knee and be at her height. "You think this is over?! I'm just startin'! And once I'm done, you'll be the one sprawled and fucked on the floor!" The gentlemen of the crowd hooted and cheered, getting hard for their chances at this too. The women chose to remain silent, but were pretty disgusted by the threat. They'd prefer she just have her pretty face bashed in. "You're gonna...gon...go..annaaaa….fleeeeppp…"

Amelia's face was split by a victorious smirk. "Ah. There it is." She purred. Vernan was bobbing like a buoy in the ocean. Losing a couple shades in that complexion of his. He looked like he would vomit. "I see the lightheadedness is beginning to set in. I need to make adjustments for a swifter effect." She stated disappointed, ogling her strangely colored knife. The coloring was smeared at the tip where she scratched him. Vernan seemed too busy trying not to blow chunks on the floor, so Amelia spared him the trouble and approached. "That 'paper cut' you just mocked nicked your brachial artery. You're set to bleed out in less than 70 seconds." Vernan's face finally turned that shade of green where he wasn't able to stop his insides from spilling all over the floor. "Oh. My mistake. The poison coated to my blade is taking effect. So now you have 45 seconds to live." She glanced to the wide eyed sheep who were debating between running and fighting. COnsidering their feet were inchng the opposite direction, running was the likely turn. "If you gawking morons move fast enough you MIGHT be able to save his worthless life." Ooh, saving a worthless life. That's counterproductive. the regime doesn't like that shit.

The veins in his tightening neck were visible and pulsing, ready to burst with each labor breath he tried to draw in. The agony of needles and knives tore at his throat, and a Hellish fire ignited in his lungs. "I...I can't breathe! And my arm is killing me!'' The sweat running down his face like a waterfall was pooling around him, drenching the back of his shirt to the hem of his pants.

"Yes. You're dying of shock, and the pain is the muscles inflaming and swelling. 30 seconds to live." It doesn't exactly get anymore pleasant from there.

"You...you bitch! You better help me!" Amelia had to nod impressively. Most who are in pain breathing don't even try to talk. Here this gorilla man is full blown threatening her. Talk about the tenacity of cavemen.

Amelia's expression faded to irritated indifference and she shrugged her hands, "I don't have to do anything. Street rats only care for themselves and those of their den. And seeing as my den was empty when I arrived here…" It only took a blink for the look in her eye to turn demonic. The sheen across her hazel eyes were sharper than any blade. And those who fell under that gaze felt the thin veins in their necks being sliced, "Every single one of you is expendable to me."

The sting of her words was like the whip of a demon tearing their flesh from their bones. Knees lost their strength and bodies were falling to the floro in terror. Some pressed themselves to the wall in a failed effort to stay away from her. Others were trembling so fervently that they weren't able to move. The rest were tempted to pull their guns, knives, anything at their disposal, and put this animal down.

A haze of white noise flooded the entire corridor. The uncertainty and fear this one woman inflicted to all within the reach was beyond that of a normal human. Vernan flopped over onto his side. Bile spilling from his mouth profusely. Breathing gradually became more and more of a chore the harder he fought. The pain was beyond anything he's felt before. It was driving him insane. He wished...he wished...it would be over. Let him die already.

Amelia meandered to the fallen Vernan. Part of her face was shadowed, but it was evident there was a ravenous animal approaching the man. "Did you guys know that rats feast on decaying corpses and lay their babies inside of them?" She lightly pressed her foot to his head, gradually applying more pressure. Vernan, in his atrophying state, could hear the vessel and his skull breaking. "So who's going to be served up next?!" Amelia dared, twisting her foot. Vernan had just enough strength to whimper like a dying dog. His scalp, veins leaking with blood, peeled under the boot.

"ENOUGH!" A booming, domineering voice roared from the other end of the crowded hallway. On a dime Amelia lifted her foot. The crowd parted like the seas.

A well built Filipino man, dressed in smart black slacks and a red button up shirt with a loose collar and a black dress vest meandered casually through the gap of people with his hands behind his back. While his attire spoke volumes of how he commands authority - not a single crease out of place - his stylishly disheveled brown hair, with a single brad at his temple, said he was a man who was easily approachable. Though the two bald caucasian men on either side of him - the cliche black sunglasses, black suits, and ear pieces like they were elite hitmen - discourage anyone from coming within ten yards. Let alone ten feet.

"Chairman Drake. A pleasure, Sir." Amelia greeted the man with a respectful salute. She stood over Vernan, inwardly laughing that he could not greet his superior officer with due formality.

"While I appreciate you showing your underlings how best to utilize their skills and energy, 1st Rank Amelia Armitage," He said her name as if he'd just read it from her personal file. He's known for addressing people so stiffly, "I would appreciate it more if you would prioritize your appointments. Which you are 23 seconds from being late for." He stated, looking at his smartphone.

"30 seconds? That's more time than I was expecting." She wiped her knife on Vernan's shirt. She paused with the blade resting on his chest. A dark smile twisted her face. "Guess it's true about those with hot air. They're so easy to pop." She is far from a believer, but she mockingly traced the cross and bid the man with defeat frozen to his paled voice. "Requiescat in pace, prick." She excused herself, taking her leave down the hallway. The further down she went, the darker the air seemed to grow around her to the others. The shadow of the Grim Reaper looming in her wake. The spectre was not there to take her life. He was there to collect her next victim.

"I want you all to take notes and subject yourselves to your inferiority! Gaze on in reverence on what the true embodiment of a soldier looks like!" Drake reached inside his vest, pulling out and extending a baton. He poked at the corpse staining the floor. "No hesitation, no weakness, no remorse, and no room for second guessing - not even for those she is supposed to call ally! That is what the Regime covets to employ!"

What the Regime...covets to employ. A weapon. An animal who is treasured by Death Himself. With no other mission than to kill all of their enemies and eradicate all threats. Their targets: every creature mythology deemed nothing more than fairytales and folklore. The flavor of the year was a Lunar. A werewolf by the name of Ben.

(*)

My mission, about three months ago, was to identify and bring you in, Ben! Instead I was swayed by the sheep's clothing you wore. Duped by your charming rhetoric, accent, and mannerisms. I was such a fool...to ever fall in love with a beast. I was...such...an IDIOT...to think...that I could find someone, anyone, to fill that empty, cold, lonely room I always return to.

I was born alone. Therefore I will die alone. But god willing, you will not outlive me...YOU MONSTER!

(*)

Shrill screams of children ricocheted off the tall trees. The tops were losing their leaves as birds of prey were startled from their nests. A young boy and a young girl threw themselves to the dirt. Tears streaming down their puffy cheeks. A man moved before them with his arms outstretched in a barrier. "Just stay behind me kids! Daddy's got you!" Through wavering will he kept his voice from trembling. Though when the shadow of the beast fully engulfed him, he felt his resolve weakening.

The massive, rabid wolf which had come from the depths of the woods raised its massive claws. It frothed at the mouth hungrily for the delectable flesh before it. The man threw himself onto his son and daughter, praying the beast would swoop him up into his grim jaws, giving his children the chance to run for the car and live! He whispered his final goodbyes, swearing he loved them and knows he couldn't be prouder of them if he tried for the amazing people they've become.

As the beast's claws came down, as that father braced himself for his fate, a sharp whirring of an engine pierced the woods. The family was stunned out of their resigned fear, and the beast's ears and head shot to where the sound came from. The engine was growing louder the closer it drew, but it was unable to be pinpointed. The sound ricocheted off the scaling canopy, taunting the ravenous wolf in disorienting circles. The father shushed his children, urging them to remain as silent and still as possible. They could not trust that the beast had forgotten them, nor could it be trusted that whoever was coming in their direction was coming to lend their aid. But what was certain was that each time the wolf darted in the direction it heard the engine rev, it steadily grew more pissed when no one was there. It's jaws baring its fangs, saliva dripping like venom, guttural growls demanding that whatever intruded upon its hunt show itself immediately! It shifted its ears back and forth to pinpoint the vehicle's exact pattern, its nostrils flared trying to pick up on the scent. It ran its long tongue along its grim jaws, trying to taste the flesh of the interloper. Nothing! Where was it coming from?!

At times it sounded as though it came from above and below. The whole ground seemed to tingle from the ferocity of the approaching vehicle. The father, his family, and even the beast, scoured for signs of the vehicle. Lights, a streak of moon on the paint, maybe even a hooting wanker howling like mad because he's breaking the sound barrier. There was nothing. Nothing and no one could be seen in the darkness. And yet there was no denying that the vehicle was drawing closer...closer...closer. The powerful engine was vibrating their bones. The family's hearts about to leave their chest. Their legs unable to recall how to move in terror the wolf would remember they existed and start what it began. But still, he took a leap and turned his head to at least discern if the wolf was distracted. To find that small window to bolt.

The wolf was thrusting itself about in circles. It ran to the left, it back tracked to the right, it dug up the soil in madness wanting that engine to be beneath the grass! Louder and louder the engine grew. Closer and closer it was drawing! But nowhere could it be seen! It was everywhere and nowhere! Where?! Where?! WHERE IS THAT BLASTED DEVICE COMING FROM?! Where were they?!

A shrill revving was followed by pops like a shotgun made the wolf's ears perk up. It veered around with its claws slicing the air into ribbons, nails capable of ripping steel drilling for the blasted vehicle. But...it wasn't a vehicle. What the wolf's claw shredded to thousands of pieces, never to be repaired again...was a speaker? No. A radio? A large radio had come flying towards it, and landed in pieces behind it. The whirs of a motorcycle dying on its broken speakers. The beast and humans were baffled. Where had it come from?

Then there was a whistle. Like calling for a dog. The wolf whipped its head around. A solid metal rod connected with the wolf's snout. A sickening crunch was heard, a couple of canines knocked loose from those grim jaws. The blow so fast and so powerful it sent disorienting rings throughout the beast's head! With flailing arms it managed to stay standing, but a strong breeze would surely send it toppling. Just as the wolf felt the world stop spinning, half a dozen jabs and kicks assaulted its ribs and sides. An uppercut smashed its grim jaws shut onto its tongue, nearly biting through it. A final roundhouse kick to its back and the wolf was dropped to the cold, leaf covered floor. From shoulder to head it splashed in a puddle of mud. Bubbles furiously gurgling as the wolf's snout sank inside.

The family stared in awe and total confusion as to what just happened. An entity within the murky shadows had floored this terrifying beast. When the father focused upon who he had to thank for saving him and his children, he was astonished to find it was no entity or god. But a woman. Their face was covered by the hood of a small, short sleeve jacket and a mask, but the figure he made out in the clad black ensemble was that of a woman. Strong thighs poking out from the black shorts and past the knee boots. The tip of a jagged scar poked out from the boot. An X band holster with frightening military grade weaponry was strapped on her hips. The platting in the fingerless, gauntlet like sleevings stopping at her elbows showed off muscular arms that did their fair share of brawls.

"What are you standing there ogling me for?!" She barked at the family. They were regular deer in headlights standing in puddles of their own making. "You've been given a reprieve from death! TAKE IT!" The father didn't have to be told a second time. He threw his children over his shoulder, sprinting for their Jeep! He cared nothing for the items they came with! They could be replaced.

The start of the engine broke the wolf from its daze. It picked its head up from the mud, shaking and shooting mud from its snout. It reered around dizzily just as the care was taking off. It's fangs, what remained of them, shown in a murderous snarl. It's vision was blurred by the blow but its nose was narrowed to the fresh meat escaping it. It dug claw and foot into the mud, lifting itself from the dirt, wobbling like a newborn deer barely able to get its footing. But the second the wolf was on its haunches, its ribs were caved in by a flying, two footed kick. The wolf was sent rolling through the dirt once more. This time it dug in its claws and slowed to a halt just before a tree met its back. It sat up with a venomous growl, ears folding back like devil horns. The soon to be chew toy that robbed its snout of teeth squared their stance daringly.

"Alright, Amelia...brace yourself. The fruits of your training are what stand between you and a gruesome death." She whispered to herself, steeling herself in place and keeping her anxiety to a minimum.

(*)

1st rank, 2nd Rank, 3rd Rank - they are titles that hold status and power equal to that of Colonel. They are the leading operatives in all field and military operations, as well top brass when it comes to providing security to their figureheads and more pencil pushing members of the Regime. And, if one were to add a bit more drama, they are the most bloodthirsty and elite of all operatives. Although, in some cases, like earlier, there are a small handful who made it there because they throw their weight around. Their lips and noses brown from the asses they kissed, or the so called symbols of power they carried in their back pockets. Friends in high places or just bringing their status into this line of work as if it were the ultimate shield. In truth they're nothing more than fodder for slaughter. Martyrs for their worthless cause to bring the Nobility and Blue Blooded into the fold. Claiming it would bring prestige, honor, and recognition to the whole Regime in ways they could never dream. Nothing but blusters of hot air that ran screaming the second dead skin was peeled from their fragile palms. They won't be remembered or missed. The pleasure I took from watching them die slowly and from their folly was greater than anything Ben ever gave to me.

(*)

Three raps came to an office door. "Director Arahm, I'm coming in." The door slid open with a woosh of air. She crossed the threshold into a massive epicenter of the Regime's Base. Think the batcave but all metal.

Nine massive monitors taking up a whole wall, each with its own 16 other monitors keeping a close eye on the operatives moving about in every single sector of the base. A lounge area off to one side was arranged comfortably like a living room. Grey couches, two large ottomans, and a lounge chair nestled on a white fluffy carpeting. Shelves of books ranging from Anatomy Monthly to...something having to do with the dark secrets of Big Bang Theory? Odd. Odd also was the curved glass table atop the rug. Just past that was...an aquarium? not just any aquarium! It was the size of a habitat in a zoo! Replicas of coral reefs and rocky caves with...SEA SNAKES?! Those are genuine sea snakes...with lion fish floating around in there! AND BOX JELLYFISH! Maybe if she moves the carpet she'll see a pit of scorpions.

"Forgive my tardiness, Director. There was...unexpected traffic in the halls this morning." She apologized with a bow to her superior in the large office chair.

"No call for apologies, Rookie. I'm sure Vernan's family will appreciate the 'benefits' he accumulated with his many years of dedicated service." The middle aged blond man smirked darkly, a derisive purr vibrating in the back of his throat. He perked up his rectangular glasses, the shine running up the lenses giving a menacing shimmer to his blue eyes. "Especially that promiscuous wife of his. Poor fool never knew she was fathering the children of other men."

Amelia rolled her eyes disinterested. The unfaithfulness of spouses couldn't be anymore boring to her. Although women unable to keep their damn legs closed pissed her off more. "I was told by Officer Tybern that you wished to speak with me about an urgent matter." She aggressively urged him to move on, hands kept behind her back so he wouldn't see the itch in them.

Arahm snickered under his breath, "Always right to business." A no nonsense woman from morning to night. He likes that about her. Their most promising newbie in decades. Possibly one of their most deadly killing machines. He gave a clap of his hands to dispel the tension and put on a big grin, "Well, My Little Rookie, we here at the Regime have an assignment for you." Arham watched every twitch of muscle as Amelia's taciturn leer turned into glowing excitement.

She checked the room for others, waited for some sort of handler to burst in through the door. But from Arham's unwavering smirk, Amelia knew what was in stroe for her. "You...you don't mean...REALLY?!" She screeched with excitement.

"That's right, Rookie. Your first solo mission." Amelia dropped all pretenses and cheered so loud everyone on the other side of the compound heard her. She jumped and pumped a fist. The time has finally come! No more handlers, no more 'teammates' to slow her down, and no more having to look for permission to so much as shit anywhere except a bathroom. The day was hers! Arham chuckled adoringly at her zeal, fanning his before that fire blazed out of control. "Contain your excitement, Rook. You will not be dispatching any creature...yet. This is purely investigative."

That record scratch that usually pops up in cartoons when a real buzzkill just ruined the party? Yeah. Amelia felt that just blew the happiness chemical out of her skull. "IN-ves-ti-ga-tive?!" She bit hard on each syllable.

"Yes, investigative." He sighed, understanding her frustration. All these years of service, completing all field missions and tests with the best marks of anyone...and all she's going to get for it is some binoculars, tacky shades and a baseball cap, plus a bag to pee in on long nights.

"Director, come on! Really?! If you want someone to idle and watch dumbasses cross the road, I'm pretty sure we've got a Frankenstein Doctor who can resurrect Vernan."

"Now, now, calm yourself. Follow me into the conference room and I'll explain further." He motioned his hand to the door just to the side of the aquarium. Amelia followed him in a huff, mumbling every profanity in her dictionary, including some Spongebob sounds.

Arham stood off to the side to allow Amelia to enter first. Ladies first and all that chivalry. It was a little startling that the aquarium was connected to the adjacent room, coating it in a comforting aquamarine glow. More of the sandy bottom, and the reef, came into view. Amelia's heart dropped at the moray eels and rock fish hovering there. AND SEA SNAILS! The man loves his deadly fish. Unimposing, unassuming creatures that will leave any predator dying slowly. How none of them have killed each other is miraculous.

Arham gestured to the chair at the furthest end of the long conference table. A thick file, plus a large coffee press filled with fresh coffee, was waiting for them. "Cream and sugar? I heard you like equal brand sugar." He offered.

"Three and three." Amelia answered in a sour mood, plopping into the chair. She agitatedly tapped a finger to the table, pressing the fingers of her other hand to the side of her head irately. Woken up before the sun has even risen, harassed in the hallways - all to learn she's going to watch from the bushes. Likely the regime will have some strike team in place to take her glory.

Arham made her coffee to order, then his, and finally sat down to discuss this glorified stalker mission. "There was...an 'incident' about a month ago in a little town called Ravenside." Incident was putting it mildly. Arham handed her a copy of Ravenside's biography as well as a map of its general scenery and location.

"Ravenside? As in...Australia...Ravenside?" She scoffed disgustedly. "Isn't that the backwater part of Australia? Where the deadliest creature known for killing a man is sheer boredom?" She stressed each time with a salty attitude to further prove to Arham that he can get any of his pencil pushers to deal with this?

"Sheer boredom...and a man eating creature of legend!" He sold to her like a salesman telling her 'BUT THAT'S NOT ALL,' to sucker her into his pitch.

"Pardon?" It worked. She quirked her brow.

Arham knew he'd hook her. Her curiosity always was her Achilles Heel. "The local livestock was BRUTALLY mangled and slaughtered in their fields at night." He showed her photos sent to him by a previous team, as well as what was uploaded to the internet. Be sure someone in the IT department ensured those photos vanished without a trace.

These images aren't for the faint of heart. Not even the most gory of movies can produce this sort of vore. Amelia isn't weak stomached, but this did slacken her jaw in dismay. Sheeps and goats with their stomachs ripped out, horns pried from the root of their skulls, hooves missing, half their faces gnawed off. Cows were hollowed out from back to udders, bulls had their necks twisted clean off. The chickens...there were only feathers left to prove there even were chickens. She doesn't dare ask about the owners or farmhands. She can guess their unfortunate fate.

"God damn…" She murmured in disbelief.

"Hair raising howls were reported, and two eye witness accounts report of a fanged beast too terrible for even the wildest imaginations."

Amelia admits it does warrant an investigation. For animal control. She neatly piled the pictures into their folder, scotting them back to Arham with a bored leer. "Maybe Ravenside has a pack of coyotes running around. Farmland IS their favorite hunting ground."

Arham snickered at her closed minded assumption. He figured she'd be more open to the idea of a more LARGER canine than a scrawny dog. "No, Rookie, I do not suspect this was a mere coyote."

Amelia knit her brow. 'Will you stop calling me that already?' She snarled to herself. Since the day he met her he's referred to her as The Rookie. The upstart everyone despises that rose through the ranks through less than favorable means. Her competition had a nasty habit of falling ill...or off tall buildings. Since the day she was even old enough to join he's always called her 'Rookie.' It was charming when she was a rookie. She's now a fully capable operative who can take his spot if she wanted it.

"We believe Sleepy, Quaint, little Ravenside is home to a creature the Regime has not seen in well over 200 years. With the exception of the botched case from 20 years ago, that is." He didn't let that one detail dry up the drool running down his jaw.

Amelia's heard of both of these occurrences. In fact, if she can think back that far, during her schooling years one of the instructors covered cold and closed cases where creatures that were rumored to long be extinct or merely remaining underground once roamed this earth like the dinosaurs. Fairies, Gnomes, trolls - long gone. And...another. The instructor took a particular interest in this lesson. One that had the hairs on Amelia's body standing so high on end that she was conducting electricity from where she sat. She couldn't bring herself to believe what she was about to hear.

"You...you don't mean...you couldn't!" Say it. He needed to say it!

"Yes, that's right. We believe we finally have a Lunar Case." A nuke went off in Amelia's head. They believe, after 200 years, they've discovered a genuine, not a guy in a costume, Lunar! "And, better yet, we believe we have a viable human suspect."

Lunars - regardless of the name sake, Lunar are what everyone knows to be Werewolves. Creatures cursed to turn into a beast straight out of Hell by the light of the full moon. The heart or mind of the human spirit is completely quelled by the inhibitions and blood thirsty nature of the beast. No matter how it may sicken the human, the beast will devour and destroy everything and everyone in its wake. No one is said to be able to survive if they are caught alone in the night by one of these beasts. It's even said that the human hosts to this accursed beast develop its depravity.

Arham continued with his report, handing her the case file regarding their suspected target. "The wolf like creature was reported to have emerged from and taken off toward the east woods just outside of Ravenside." From the picture alone there were some dense woods. "There is only one homestead in that vicinity belonging too…" He trailed off, knowing he had a picture of their target, "This man here!"

Amelia took the picture and grimaced. "Jesus Christ! Is he the Sasquatch of Australia!" The guy clearly doesn't believe in razors.

Arham let out a loud laugh. That was pretty damn accurate. "This is Benjamin! A handyman who works there in town."

"A handyman? That's a first." She snorted. She's had vampires who worked at blood drives, witches pretending to be doctors, warlocks disproving gravity. But a werewolf fixing up driveways and houses for a living? She assumed he'd be a farmhand considering how viciously he devoured those poor animals.

"A real shame. From a professional standpoint, he's kind of cute." She turned the picture side to side, admiring the boyish, puppy dog blue eyes he's got hiding behind all that hair. "Sucks if it turns out he is what we're looking for. I might take him for a drink or two."

Now don't do a double take on her. Amelia is a young woman in her twenties. She has wants and needs that her right hand and toys can't fulfill 24/7. And none of the men around the base are remotely close to the physique she's attracted to. She bypasses personalities for a very strong reason being the minds of every man and woman here are proud blowhards with parental issues.

"I'm glad to hear you say that!" Arham gushed, cupping both hands to one side. "And you know the best way to get him for that drink? Cornering him at a job site. And YOU, Rookie, are about to become his next client."

"I'm what?" Amelia droned confusedly, arching a brow.

"As Ravenside's newest resident, you've just bought a real fixer upper of a house. It's going to need the best handyman around, you see." He crooned impishly. Amelia's face dropped to disbelief. She isn't doing recon. She's bait! 'ASSHOLES!' "Hire him. We need you to get to know him VERY-WELL. Ask lots of questions. Discreetly, of course. Find out about his family line, his heritage. Watch for behavioral patterns that will be indicative of a man with...secrets." For lack of a better word. "If he is who we believe him to be, he'll be hesitant to open up to you. Sooo we'll need to break down his defenses.

"And...we plan to do that...how?"

"HOW?!" Arham guffawed. What an adorably stupid question. "SE-DUCE HIM, my dear." Amelia blinked astonished. Arham rose up, leaning in close to her with his hands on the arms of her chair. "Make him fall HEAD…" He cupped her chin, "Over...heels…" He trailed the hand down her knee to her foot. A light pink tint flushed her cheeks. Both from Arham's closeness...and the idea she'd have to debase herself to a woman's least attractive quality. "A smitten heart is the Achilles Heel of a man's secrets."

'I...I'm not...so sure about this.' Amelia gets it to be sure. For the good of the mission it is imperative that this Benjamin...Aussman - cute name - be made to lower his guard enough so she may see if he does get a bad case of dog hair once a month. She understands that. And, in all seriousness, there are other ways of discovering his secret. But playing with a man's feelings to get to the truth? It's effective, and Amelia isn't above dirtying her hands. But the heartstrings of a handyman who happens to be a hermit? Who's just trying to make a living like everyone else? It could be just one huge coincidence that Benjamin lives in the woods where the beast ran off to. More so, his lack of razor skills aside, nothing stands out that should now. Now that she ponders a bit longer, there are no humans reported injured by him. Could...is it possible he just eats livestock? Is he even the wolf?

'Why does this bother me?' Why is she hoping that he isn't who Arham wants him to be? What is it about this Benjamin that is...speaking to her.

"What's this?!" Arham glowered. "You look...conflicted?" Amelia shied away shamefully. She didn't mean to display such weakness in front of him. She bounced her fingertips together nervously. Arham caught her eyes glancing to and from the picture of Benjamin. It all made sense, relaxing him into a smile. "Ahh, I see. You've never hunted a supernatural creature with a human side. You feel..." He studied her for a few seconds, noticing she hadn't taken her hand from Benjamin's photo, "Guilt." He hit the nail on the head. Amelia sank into her seat. Arham chuckled at the adorable naivete she's had well since childhood. It's actually one of her more charming qualities, if not a potential hindrance. Arham knelt beside her, placing a kind hand to her shoulder. "Rook, there's no need to feel compassion towards a Lunar!" He said with disgust. "They may have a human side, but it isn't REALLY human. These creatures are ruthless killers. Monsters! The devil's own hellhounds sent to devour the innocent and helpless!" He looked her dead in her rippling eyes, seeing clearly he'd reeled her away from her folly. "Does that sound human to you?"

A monster killing machine pretending to be human…taking its prey in the dead of night without remorse. Why did that sound so familiar? Why does Amelia's chest feel tight whenever she looks at a picture of this man? Maybe it's the puppy dog blue eyes. She loves blue eyes. They remind her of the ocean.

'A monster with a human side sent from hell.' That's what her instructor told her as well.

Lunars are as crafty as they are dangerous. They pull their human victims in with sweet nothings in their ear, seduce and beguile them with their animal magnetism and charm. All to ensnare and devour them the second their guards are lowered, and they have no chance of escaping. Their human bodies will become physically stronger, their stamina beyond that of 20 soldiers, their strength unimaginable. Their minds become that of sociopaths. Capable of imitating human emotion, when in truth they feel nothing but the call of their hunger.

Oh sure the humans will resist the temptation at first. They will swear they are still the man or woman they were before the curse set in. That they would never become the monster everyone fears them to be. But they are nothing more than dogs. And once a dog tastes blood...when the rabies of that sweet nectar touches their tongues...that is it. There is no turning back. It is pointless for them to fight. It'll be much easier for everyone involved if they just close their eyes and wait for the bullet to break through their skulls. This Benjamin will be made to do just that onces she's done with him.

Amelia cleared her throat. She took a deep breath rising from her chair. She faced her superior and bowed in disgrace. "Please forgive me, Director Arham. You are absolutely right. Be they Lunar, Fallen, Witch, or Changeling, creatures like this have no business in the world of humans."

"Exactly." Arham was pleased by her answer. "I'm glad we're on the same page here." He rose to his feet, tenderly taking her hands in his to have her raise her head. "Bottomline - a Lunar would be of endless help to our cause. Not to mention confirming his true identity would be VERY beneficial to your career here." He sweetened the honeypot. He slyly gestured to the chair she sat in, and the table she stood near. Amelia lit up, gawking around the room incredulously. Surely he couldn't mean… "It's no secret that I've been needing someone at my side to help ensure day to day operations run smoothly. It's also no secret that there are those who drag their heels or try to stall me with their own redtape." He caressed a hand to her cheek, running a thumb along the blush heating her face. "Someone like you who has no qualms with eliminating troublesome elements would guarantee that I ascend to the throne I so rightfully deserve. You by my side would discourage any from taking up arms against me."

"Director...I…"

"Sshh." He put a finger to her soft lips. "There will be time for that later." He whispered. When he took the finger to his own lips, the sneaky lick he trailed to the tip made Amelia squirm. Her heart skipped a beat. "Now pack your things. You leave in an hour."

"Yes sir! I won't let you down!" She saluted. She was already out the door.

Arham tapped his lips hungrily, "I know you won't…" A misty blue, white glow radiated from behind his glasses. The mist trailing from the corner of his eyes...had a second pair appearing behind him. A demonic grin tracing in the dim lighting.

(*)

I was chosen specifically for this mission. The fact I was supposed to sit on my hands and wait for Ben to reveal himself is now moot. I know what he is. The signs present for the past three months have now blown up in my face, leaving peice of my demolished pride riddled about to show how easily I allowed myself to be swept up in that idiotic emotion called LOVE! Well no more!

I will not fail you, Director Arham...not again.

(*)

Little...bitch! The wolf snarled. Though to Amelia it was nothing more than a guttural growl. The wolf charged full speed, it's jaws opening wide. Amelia was caught off guard. She dove into a clumsy dodge roll, bracing herself on her forearms. tHe wolf charged again while her back was to it, claws fanned to gorge out her sides. Amelia spran high into a backflip, able to watch as the wolf passed under her with a dumbfounded expression. Her feet safely touched ground, and the side of the wolf's head met with a tree. Amelia pulled a knife from the sheath at her thigh. She twirled it by the ring at the butt of the hilt, angling the blade backwards. The wolf slumped to the mud in a daze. Amelia dug in her foot, breaking into a sprint. She angled the knife for its neck. She'll plunge the knife into its neck and out the other side, ripping it clean from its shoulders.

"THIS ENDS!" Amelia roared. YOU'LL PAY FOR MAKING A FOOL OUT OF ME!

A hind kick connected with her chest, throwing her off her feet and onto her back. She landed in a pretty deep puddle of mudd. She choked on the bit that landed down her throat, able to shake off the blow and roll back onto her hands and feet. She gaped at her empty hand. The knife was gone. She rummaged in the muddied water desperately to find it. The wolf was getting back up as well. It's golden eyes radiated with hate, its growls vibrating her body.

"Shit!" The knife was nowhere to be found, and the wolf was prepared for another attack. Not that a frontal assault with such a small knife will benefit her whilst the wolf is still at full strength. She put the knife out of her mind. The beast was drawing near her. She reached around and drew her two batons, twirling them into a defensive stance, challenging the wolf to come at her. The wolf took her challenge. Its long tongue running from one side of its mouth to the other. The trails of saliva running down its jaws were like the venom of a serpent longing to bury its fangs in the wild rabbit it's cornered.

How do you like that? A bunny that has some spunk. How adorable!

The wolf stalked from one side to the other, immersing itself in the rain and darkness. Amelia had to train her sights hard to not lose track of it. Easier said than done. The night truly safeguarded its children. The wolf began to circle her. Massive paws made nary a sound nor disturbed the the surrounded mud as it was stalking the woman in a wide circle, never diverting its narrowing golden eyes. The beast's expression had a twisted grin splitting its face down the middle when it was behind her. Oh she didn't budge an inch. Didn't twist or straffe to keep the beast within her sights. She was rooted in place, attempting to put on a fortified front. But beads of sweat betrayed her by running down what flesh was visible. And it wiped the wolf's appetite. Gradually the beast was closing in with daunting snaps of its teeth. Hard huffs of hot breath spread noxious fumes tainted with the iron taste of blood into her nostrils and over her skin. Let his new toy know how close he was getting, and that he will be picking out bits of her from between his teeth. Vicious snarls that would fool its quarry to run, and...what could only be assumed to be...a mocking, growl of laughter reverberated his prey's bones.

What a cute little bunny that has wandered into the den of the wolf.

Amelia's ears perked at a sudden crunch of twigs. Snarls between rampant breaths vibrated her ears straight to her spine. The beast leapt at her like an arapaima. Claws and teeth wanting to peel her flesh from her bones. Putting all her weight into her lower body, Amelia swiftly split her legs apart and dropped hard to her palms. A breeze with musty wolf breath flew over her. A couple of seams were nicked but she remained planted where she was. Fingers hooked in the soil, the toes of her boots bolted in. The wolf twisted its body, sliding to a sloshing halt. It padded its paws and broke into another charge for her. It frothed at the mouth like the rabid animal that it is. Amelia shot up to her feet, drawing her batons. The wolf blindly flailed its arms, claws slashing after Amelia's small frame. The wolf was bulky but god damn it was fast. Pouring all her strength into her legs she skipped backwards, weaving to sides opposite the wolf's swings. The tips of the claws tearing tiny holes in a shirt already hugging to her body. Small hisses came from Amelia every other scratch breaking the skin. The wolf charged her like a bull. She crossed her batons at her core. The wolf's skull rammed into the batons like a bull charging a matador. Painful vibrations shot up her arms into her head, disorienting her for barely a second. She planted the balls of her feet. The wet ground a slip and slide as she futilely battled against its insane strength. She grimaced when she peered around to see a tree on the fast approach to breaking her spine.

Aww, look how tough the bunny is trying to be! I LIKE TOUGH MEAT WHEN ITS TENDERIZED!

Amelia didn't have anytime to think, or anywhere else to run. Taking a deep breath she threw herself back to the ground. The wolf snatched the brim of her hood by the teeth, dragging her like freshly caught game.

POOR MISTAKE! NOW TO HAVE YOUR FLESH RIPPED FROM YOUR BONES!

Amelia wasn't going to waste energy trying to pry herself from deadbolt jaws. She jabbed her elbows into the dirt, wincing at the rocks splitting skin and muscle, and wrenched her body into a curl. She missed the pops of strings in her hood. With her knees to its stomach and the curl of its body in its run, Amelia planted her feet into the wolf's stomach. She rolled back, using the momentum of the run to launch the wolf into the air. It met the tree head first. The other side of the trunk exploded out, sending the tree toppling away from the wolf and Amelia. The sound it made was as though a warning strike of thunder was hurtled right at them.

The wolf wobbled dazedly, willing itself to get back up on its feet. The world was spinning nauseatingly fast, nothing would come into focus. Even the steps of his prey behind him were muffled by the blood pounding in its ears. The little human muffled her steps stalking closer to him. The hairs on its back stood on end, her scent filling its nostrils and making its tongue salivate. Those muffled steps grew rampant. She was coming! She darted off course to scoop up the little knife, putting her batons away. The slight screech of a blade leaving its sheath caught its ear.

I THINK NOT, LITTLE BUNNY! The wolf balled its claws into tight fists. Amelia leaped for it's back. The knife shimmered in the full moon. A streak tracing the night air, barreling for the wolf's back. A large paw latched onto that wrist, halting her strike midair. A sharp squeeze made her fingers release the knife. The blade staked into the dirt. A devastating punch connected with her ribs, sending Amelia skipping like a rock across a lake. A steep slanted hill stopped her on a dime, but not without her whole back and head smashing to patches of fallen branches. The wind was robbed from her lungs for the briefest of seconds. A burst of white light filled her eyes, high pitched ringing in her ears. Dry heaves exploded from her throat wehn that fresh air returned. She threw herself onto her hands and knees. Bile and blood were choked out of her. She starved for air to return faster. The ringing was clearing from her ears so she heard the wolf getting primed for another charge.

"Get...your...ass...UP!" She roared at her weakness. Look at her. Wobbly pathetically like a newborn fawn. She's taken harder hits in training! No man nor beast will keep her down! "You will...finish...what you started! You will accomplish your mission! YOU WILL KILL YOUR TARGET!" This beast will die! By her hands and her hands alone! Daggers in her glare she staggered onto her feet, her upper body heavy as lead. Taking in slow, heaving breaths she squared off to the beast stalking from one side to the next, drawing closer and closer.

How precious. The little bunny is back up.

The wolf's deep growls coming through as a demonic chuckle brought Amelia back to her senses. Her emerald eyes glimmering in the moonlight absorbing the full image of the hellhound encircling her. A hideous black aura wafting from its ebony fur able to send the more weak spined of prey running for its life. Only to prompt the wolf to give chase and toy with it until it dies. The beast was taking in long draws of her scent, purring in orgasm of the delectable feast it would partake upon. Fresh blood was spilling from the cuts she sustained. She smelt sweet. Her meat would be tender in its teeth.

Quite the kick you possess, Little Bunny. Let us see those legs work when I rip them off! The wolf dug at the mud for solid traction. It launched like a missle, tongue lapping in the wind. It darted from one side the next. She would not get the better of it again.

Amelia knit her brow. She'd had enough of this. She steeled herself as her maker would sure be meeting her soon if she so much as wavered a second. She didn't follow the wolf, nor did she allow the swelling panic to get the better of her. She merely listened, waited, and sensed the wolf draw ever closer. Until its jaws came down upon her. Or rather, it bit down on one of her batons. In the blink of an eye she had brought the baton out and caught it chomp upon it. She dropped to one knee so she'd be able to fend against the wolf's immense strength, and bear some of its weight. The wolf tightened it's jaws, baring down all of its weight to make that tiny arm snap in place. Amelia's glare sharpened. She drew her second baton. She pressed a button on its side. Two fanged prongs appeared out of the top. A thin string of electricity surged between them. With a roar Amelia stabbed the baton into the beast's abdomen. Thousands upon thousands of volts shot in and out of its body. The stench of fur burning filled AMelia's nostrils, turning her stomach nauseatingly sharp. The wet fur sparkled like thousands of shards of diamonds. Jewels snaked their way up her arm. But AMelia didn't flinch. The flaring lights of the taser illuminating her own carnal beast lurking within. She pulled the baton out of its stomach, easing away to have its body crumble.

The wolf clutched at its stomach, stooping to its knees. The baton still in its mouth. Amelia rammed her knee into its chin. A tiny yelp was accompanied by a metallic crunch and tiny splotches of blood, the wolf's body jerking upright. She ripped the baton free, gramcing at the cracks, but proud of the tooth she claimed. She put a couple feet of space between them. In a rapid barrage she struck the beast with all her might from knees to snout. The wolf stumbled back. Amelia used its broad body as stepping stones to deliver punches and elbow jabs. She'd landed a few kicks, then dropped low to sweep its feet out from under it. The wolf recovered quickly and smashed a paw to the leg. Amelia wailed, feeling the bones bend, but yet to break. The wolf brought a fist for her head. Amelia deflected it with a double swing of her batons. The wolf released her leg, but wouldn't let her get far. It smashed a hand to her face, burying it halfway into the dirt. It lifted her and threw her like a pod of whales throws a seal to kill it. She curled into a ball to ease the impact. Her slide to a halt was not a gentle one. It left her shaking.

Oh yes. You will make a fine meal when I've tenderized you...bunny!

Amelia spat out dirt, blood...and a frog, pulling clumps of mud wads from her head and body. Her ribs were on fire with pain with each breath she took. The harder she fought to get to her feet, the louder her body screamed for her to stay down. The cold night air amplified the damage wrought by that one blow. And the scratches were stinging fiercely. She choked on not just the bile trapped in her throat, but also her underestimating the beast considerably.

Much like her previous marks, their size and body build are what prompt the initiatives she took to defeat them. Creatures with speed and agility, she attacked their legs or lured them to terrain difficult for them to maneuver. Targets much larger than her, she went for their legs to bring them down to size. There have been some who are stronger than her and she merely turned their strength against them. No matter who or what she was up against, she always managed. This Lunar was different, however. It was strong, it was fast, and it was able to recover. And with the full moon, coupled with the stark night, the wolf definitely had the advantages here.

She spat out blood and mud. Shifting her body she worked out the kinks and stretched out the sore muscles. A crack of her neck and she was ready. Her knife was out of reach. The wolf wasn't about to let her anywhere near it. UNderestimating it again would cost her.

You can't fool me, little bunny. I can see you trembling. Hear your heart pounding. Practically smell the fear wafting from your flesh. Oh yes, you are afraid. You want so badly to run. Please do. Give me a small dose of entertainment...BEFORE I RIP YOU OPEN AND FEAST UPON YOUR INSIDES.

There. Her eyes had finally adjusted to the moonlit night. And the buzzing in her nerves finally quieted with the cap partially tightening on her adrenaline. Truth be told, the beast has the upperhand in the stark darkness. Those paws hardly made a sound - save for when it wished to make her jump - despite the length of its claws. Still she wouldn't let that advantage take away from the small lead she has.

Amelia hadn't diverted all energy into just one sense. She slowed her breathing, thus slowing her rampant heart rate and rushing blood, allowing her mind to quiet itself and heighten each sense. Her sight kept the beast locked on for when her attack would come. Smell and taste so that not even the forest would mask the monster from her. Her hearing in the event all she would be able to use to locate the beast was his ravenous, raspy, growls of breath, or when it would run its long tongue along its snout. Most importantly was her sense of touch, and her sixth sense for her enemy's position. Predicting when and where the beast would attack would be difficult, but for the satisfaction of feeling its bones break under every one of her strikes fueled that sense to stay on point. Fueled her desire to the brink of exploding in a howl of grief to bring this...this...shadow of a man she thought she...she could...NO!

Nothing, no one - not this monster, the urchins from the gutters, nor those peons back at the Regime Headquarters - would be able to defeat her. No weakness will be uprooted, no hesitation will ever come from her strikes, and never will she show an ounce of mercy. Any who get in her way, any who believe they can bring her to her knees, or any who think they can subject her to any form of degradation or humiliation...they are now dead and buried. Their graves shat upon by mutts on a stroll with their owners.

This monster won't get a grave. The son of a bitch beneath the mangled fur will not be remembered. Neither of them will so much as come up in conversation once she is done with them. There will be nothing left to prove they ever existed in Ravenside. Not even her. She will burn all traces of her presence, including the cabin just miles away, turn on her heels, and leave Australia. Taking up her next mission to destroy beasts of this ilk and all others that dare pose as humans.

From her years living on the streets to the years of brutality she underwent as a soldier's grunt to the trials she overcame to rid herself of the stains of being the world's doormat, Amelia, under no circumstances, will allow herself to be prey to any sort of feelings she had for the man she thought...would be her salvation.

That's right...keep your eyes on me, BEAST! What a damned fool she was that day. To claim that Ben was anything but a beast.

(*)

"So tell me, what brings you about?" Ben tenderly inquired.

Amelia's cheek flushed slight pink at how his blue eyes rippled like the ocean. The sparkled with such a purity that he resembled a fuzzy angel. A fuzzy angel who works out on a regular basis. "Oh-oh, nothing! Nothing! Just some random business!" She shyly tucked hairs behind her ear, waving her hands for him not to think too much of it! 'Why the hell are you behaving so flustered?' SHe snarled at herself. She needed to get a hold of herself.

"Oh yeah?! What kind of business?" He couldn't help asking.

Amelia froze briefly. A foreboding hue shaded to her face. 'He's the curious type. I might have to kill him early.' Especially considering she's supposed to be the interrogator. "I'm afraid that's rather...complicated." She said pathetically. Ben could easily tell she was keeping something. Amelia inwardly cursed herself, 'SNAP OUT OF IT! YOU HAVE THE BEST POKER FACE OF ANYONE! WHY ARE YOU FALTERING?!"

Ben snorted under his breath. "A woman of mystery, I see. Say no more." He raised a hand, halting this line of questioning. He can accept he was being rather invasive with his questions. "Well, let's have a look at this place." He insisted.

"Yes, please." She said politely, but silently imploring that this be put to bed. He is a dangerous man to be around indeed.

Ben's whole aura - he's warming, welcoming, and gives off this energy that he's willing to give the shirt off his back if hse would ask. 'What...exactly...is hiding beneath that shirt?' She scolded herself a second later for thinking such lewd thought. NOt that it could be helped. He was...so charming...so sweet. He was a muscular man, very fuzzy, but his demeanor was like an oversized teddy bear. Amelia felt an overwhelming need to hug him. What's come over her?

Ben must have walked no further than five steps into the fixer upper and was nearly floored by the sorry state of this place. Hell, he might break the damn floor if he did. This place was another strong breeze from being condemned. The place needed a damn hug. Lots of them. HOwever, it did have its saving grace. Original flooring that he could sandown, restrain, and patch up. It'd be an absolute sin to tear it up. He'd make Amelia an envy with floors like this.

The electrical was really shitty, though. WIred in the sixties, if he had to guess. The roof was leaky. She wouldn't have to worry about a water bill. Just wait for a good rain and she'd have water for days. Might even be able to create an indoor spring. Weak beams, moldy walls, arms heavy, knees weak, palms sweaty, mom's spaghetti - the whole disastrous nine yards.

Amelia stood off to the side in silence, admiring him studying the spot. SHe'd hazard a guess that he'd forgotten she was even in the room. He was off in his own world. He was taking notes with both his eyes, and that stylish notebook. He muttered every so often, letting a few words out louder than others. He'd absentmindedly make marks on the walls, put X's and dashes, put some short hand chicken scratch - he was buzzing with inspiration and dread. It was...kind of cute. She's never seen someone so dedicated to their work. Kinda reminds her of, well, her back at the Regime Academy. Nothing could distract her when she had the mind to drown herself in her training and studies. A real shame this guy is suspected of being a monster.

"Look, Mate." Ben called her from her thoughts, "This ain't a quick fix. And it won't be cheap. As a craftsman, I'd be willing to get my hands on this place and work on it for years." He was drooling at the challenge. His adrenaline was pumping. 'He reminds me of that time Jane dared me to reassemble old guns to working order. Won $300 a pop from her.' "But, uh, all business and my obsession aside," Obsession is the blood, sweat, and tears behind his work, "I might advise you to reconsider. You could get a nicer house on the west side. Wouldn't even cost you a fraction of what it would take to fix this place."

"Sorry to go against the advice of a true professional," She folded her hands behind her back, smiling charmingly at him, "But I'm going to stick this out. With that said, I'd love for you to be my handy dandy handyman for this."

Ben snorted at how driven she was to have this place fixed. He can see it clear as day in those brilliant green eyes. She won't take no for an answer. He likes that in a woman. "Alright. Then I'm your man. I can be my first thing tomorrow."

Days turned to weeks, a month had gone by - day after day Ben would come by, spend hours working away in all weather conditions well into the next morning, only to be back bright eyed and bushy tailed the following day. At first it was a couple of strangers forced to share a space for an uncomfortable amount of time. Neither would speak to each other for longer than hi, how are you. They'd smile and nod to one another, AMelia would offer him a beverage. But...gradually...they started to become bear buddies. Laughing, joking, playing tricks on each other. Ben would come to find he's spent a whole day just talking with Amelia rather than work. Not that she or he minded. Their company was becoming...pleasant. AMelia and Ben, two loners, were beginning to feel a lot less lonely with one another.

That bliss didn't last long when he barrage of questions to learn about him were turned on her. After all, she was there to learn if he does have a drastic change once a month. But him trying to learn about her scared her. The more he pried the more naked she felt. She often told him she had to be somewhere and left him to finish his work. Never knowing she was reporting in. But when she'd come back...she'd be filled with unbridled joy. Like...a wife returning to find her husband working on a structure they'd raise their family in.

She wasn't seeing a suspected monster at all. HIs behaviour and patterns were nothing like Arham or her instructors warned her he'd be like. He was...just a man. A man wanting to have a normal life. She almost envied that. What would it be like to have a normal life like his?

(*)

A lone tear running down her cheek glistened beneath the moon and stars, splashing to the drenched ground. Her hopes, her dreams, her wishes for...for...a future beyond that of hunting down monsters...was soaked up by the soil. Unconditional love carried for that man. Her grief and sadness when he'd push her away so she'd never see his weaker moments! Anger when he'd cancel their dates. Unbridled joy whenever he'd surprise her at her house and stay by herself. Nothing more than the folly of a child who thought she'd finally found her escape. Amelia stomped to where that tear fell, twisting and grounding her foot to smash it and all of those weak feelings it contained with it. She squeezed by those pathetic tears, and a glare brimming with thousands of daggers locked onto that wolf. CLAWS DRILLED FOR HER EYES.

"SHIT!" Amelia cursed, swiftly ducking down and the side at the very last second.

The claws nicked her skin, drawing a scratch from the corner of her eye to her ear. She gripped at his arm, pulling herself up and putting a knee to its shoulder. She maneuvered to wrap her strong legs to its neck. The wolf grabbed at her to pry her off, snapping its jaws for her legs. Amelia activated the powerful taser on her second baton. She jabbed both into the wolf's shoulders. The jueles tore straight down through its body. It howled in agony, throwing its body back in a final attempt to fling her off. Amelia threw herself back as well, hanging on by its neck. She brought it down with deadweight, her palms coming to the mud and sinking a solid foot. The weight of the wolf was bending her back to the point she felt her spine pang with pain. She curled herself forward right as the wolf hit the ground. She pressed her hands to the shoulders and freed her legs, using the wolf as a springboard. The wolf narrowed its sights. It's monstrous paws grabbed hold of her on either side of her torso. It lifted her off and smashed its head into her face.

"AAHHH!" Amelia howled. Nothing broken but shit did that hurt. Her head was ringing. The batons left her hands when she clamped onto her head.

I'VE TOYED WITH YOU LONG ENOUGH! It leaned up on one elbow, took her by the collar and slammed her into the dirt. She wasn't lucky enough to bounce away this time. No. This time the wolf had her pinned. She tried to brace her fall. Instead her arm was nearly twisted out of its socket getting stuck under her back. The wolf straddled her hips, trapping her other arm in a vice like grip. Amelia struggled in its hold but there was no give. The sloshing ground wasn't stable enough for her to wiggle free. And the more she struggled the more she sank. The mud was already at the corners of her mouth. The wolf chucked triumphantly. That's right, little bunny, I have you now! There will be no more running, no more kicking, certainly no more fighting. You're going to lie there, nice and quiet...while I tear you apart!

This was it! She was done! Her first solo mission...her last. She refused to succumb to despair! Refused to look back with any regrets! She regrets nothing she's done, or what she's accomplished in life. You had a good run, Amelia. You lived a good life. ALthough, if the die was cast differently, she would have loved to have one more night with Ben. One more time...so he would know… "I still love you…"

Now to see the cute face I will be devouring. The wolf took a single claw. It moved hauntingly slow when it hooked to her mask. Her eyes raged with defiance as she refused to wince away from him. With one single swipe of that claw the mask, all the way to the chest, the fabric was shredded. A scarlet red line bled, making the wolf drool hungrily. Yes...yes...how delicious you will be. He leaned down, tongue stretching out to take the sweet nectar in its lips. Golden eyes moved to watch the horror that would consume his little bunny's face. Then he stopped. No...he froze.

"Whh...hhhh…." That face. The young girl beneath him. The body he smothered. It made him tremble. The tongue wasn't moving. It hung limply...while the wolf remained frozen in abject terror...and nausea. The golden eyes...rippled with despair. Tears welled up inside of them. The beautiful brown curls, eyes green as jade, and that tasteless tattoo peeking out near her shoulder. "B...B… ...ay… ...bee…" Amelia's breath hitched in her throat. Her heart stopped. She quaked in place, her eyes stinging with tears of sorrow. WHat...what did he just say? She couldn't have heard that right. She's hallucinating. "Ba… ...by…?" Gold eyes turned to blue, tears running free.

Baby...That's his nickname for her Generic and zero creative points, but it was hers! The wolf….the wolf wasn't talking. It was...it was..."Ben?"

The moment she said his name is when his blue eyes returned to gold. The wolf spirit within became enraged. It howled piercingly loud to the moon, driving its fangs for her. Amelia, with her last ounce of strength, pulled her arm free from her back. A loud BANG echoed up the trees, then all fell silent. The wolf's jaws had frozen at her throat. The tips barely punctured the skin. The wolf's eyes lost their light and he fell over. A gun was revealed in Amelia's hand. Smoke still coming from the barrel. She stiffly turned her head, swallowing a massive lump at the tranquilizer dart sticking out of his abdomen.

The dart was meant to take down a horse. She packed it thinking it would be strong enough to bring down a lunar. Looks like she was right. He was sound asleep, and hers for the taking. She brought tranquilizer bullets in the event taking the beast back alive was possible. A live specimen would be preferable to a dead one. Arham could extract information from him, maybe learn where more are located. At least that's the rational option. The safe option...is to put this dog down. She can't possibly transport him knowing how volatile he could be. She needed to kill him. He...he has to die.

Field exercises taught her that regardless if a mission calls for a live subject, having spare bullets to put the beast down is the difference between a dead operative and a future leader. Amelia reached to her belt, drawing out one bullet. She put it in the chamber, clicked back the hammer, and aimed right between his brow. All she had to do...was...was...just-pull...pull the...

"Ugh...grrr…" Her hand...it won't stop shaking! Her fingers were stiff as stone! Her nerves...they were gone! The harder she tried to pull the trigger the more her arm felt like it would split! She bit down into her lips, drawing a thin trickle of blood. her rage at her hesitation was boiling over. She...she couldn't do it! She can't pull the trigger. "WHY?! PULL IT DAMN YOU! WHY WON'T YOU DO IT!" She had him! He was right there! SHe just had to pull the knife across his neck and she was dead! It was going to be over! He was...he was...he...he?

He. Not it, not thing, not creature...not...wolf. He. When...when did she start registering him...as a person again? Why would she? He's...he's a...a Lunar. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing. He's only pretending to be human. He's a monster. He isn't...the man...you...you wanted to...to...spend the rest of your life with.

How can she deny it? Lying there in the puddle of mudd, listening to the beast unconscious beside her breathe, it dawned on her harder than any blow he dealt. Why she wasn't able to kill him. Why she couldn't fight him all out. And why...why it's breaking her heart...to even contemplate...killing him whilst he was helpless. She still loved him. Even knowing what he was...even after….seeing those chains in the basement a while ago...never once did her feelings for him waver. If anything, they only intensified. Right now, as she moved her hand over one of his paws and squeezed, she felt her love for him grow so much that she broke down crying.

"Why...why am i so sad?! WHY THE FUCK SHOULD I BE?! I'VE KNOWN WHAT YOU WERE SINCE I FIRST FOUND YOUR BASEMENT!" "YOU KNOW! THE BASEMENT YOU TRIED SO DESPERATELY TO KEEP ME OUT OF!" The answer was obvious. It was obvious the day she was assigned to spy on him. Regardless if she consciously admitted it or not. It is because, much like him, she had no choice in the demon she would become. She too was a monster that pretended - wished with all its hearts - that it could be human. That it could be like everyone else...if for only five minutes. And she couldn't bear to lose that.

Amelia rolled onto her side. She gripped BEN by his chest fur. He was so heavy that when she pulled in a fury she pulled her into him. She wrapped her arms tightly to his shoulders, burying his head into her chest and resting her head atop his. She sobbed loudly, screaming until her throat went raw. Lightning ceased to flash, thunder no longer roared...and the rain lightened to a sad drizzle. The full moon broke through a gap in the clouds, shining down upon the two monsters...that wore the skin of humans.

The wolf...Ben...opened his eyes. Amelia would never know, but the hateful golden orbs were his beautiful ocean blue eyes. His ears detected her sobs, and the smell of her filling his nose made his heart beat like a war drum. Baby...He closed his eyes, tears streaming down his fur. He and the wolf spirit within...were too exhausted to fight anymore. So there they lied in her arms, both they and Amelia falling into a slumber's embrace, not caring if the next sunrise would come for them or not. Ben...for as long as the heavens would allow...just wanted to be in her arms...one last time.