"Come on guys, we need to think of a plan," Laser encouraged, looking back and forth between them. Rad had been lounging lazily against the bars as he lie on a bench lined on the side of the wall. Brooke sat beside Laser, her back against the opposite side of the wall with her feet propped up on the bench between them. Because of her short legs, she had enough room to lay comfortably on her side of the cell without a care in the world, like nothing was about to transpire in the next few hours.
"We've been thinking since they threw us in here," Rad said after a loud yawn, twittling his purple die in his hand with boredom. "They took the Fat Lady and the peacoat I had with my other gadgets in it. We're stuck in here until something spectacular happens."
"What's with you and those dice anyway?" Brooke asked, staring at the die between his fingers.
"Just an impulse," Rad said casually, looking down at them. "Whenever I'm thinking a lot or I'm stressed out, I like to have them on hand. Its an OCD thing really."
Laser suddenly looked up in surprise as something came to mind. He turned to Brooke. "Did you get to take your Theriatic medicine today?"
"No, it was in my purse, which they confiscated too," Brooke said, shaking her head without hope, but with a level of acceptance. "So as far as I'm concerned, we're fucked."
"Theriatic?" Rad repeated with confusion.
"The medicine I take to stop me from transforming during a full moon. PULSE provides it so that their lycan recruits can operate at night. That's why I don't transform on the WHALE, even though you can see the moon clear as day from the window in my room."
"Yeah, we're pretty fucked," Rad declared, turning his head.
"So that's it?" Laser said with growing frustration. "We're just going to sit here and let ourselves be fucked."
"Basically. Just let life rape us and be over with."
"Rad," Laser said, standing up from the bench. "How many cases have you worked? In total?"
Rad looked up and thought for a moment. "About half a grand. Maybe more."
"And out of all of those cases, you've never been in a tighter situation than this?"
Rad contemplated once more. "I guess I have," he shrugged. "I mean, they were all pretty different from this, but I have been in a lot of sticky situations."
"And how did you end up getting out of them?"
Rad nodded with assurity. "I would sit around, telling myself it was the end, accepting it as inevitable and suddenly I would get saved by some independent variable or third party ally."
"So you've never used your head to get out of a situation like this? Even with all the detective instincts you use on a regular basis?"
"Nope, always been luck. I always think if I sit around and keep saying we're done for, something's going to happen to free us. Its happened many many times before."
Laser sat back down on the bench, defeated. "You're right. We're fucked."
Rad suddenly heard his watch chirp and Reuben's voice chimed in his head. Rad sat up from the bars frantically. "Reuben!"
"Hey buddy, how's it going?" Reuben said vibrantly on the other line. The three of them had spent the past three hours trying to contact him with no answer and now he was finally responding.
"You freaking tell me, Mr. Cullen. You left us out to dry and now we're stuck in this holding cell with no way out, waiting for Brooke to explode as soon as the moon's out and kill us both."
"Calm yourself, Cliff," Reuben said with a voice that sounded as if it were trying to be of comfort but did nothing to help Rad's aggrivation. "I never planned to completely abandon you folks. I still need those other two alive after all."
"How noble of you. So what's the damn plan?"
"Well before I get into that, I'm pretty sure you're going to want to see what I'm seeing right now."
"What are you seeing?"
"Hold on." Rad sighed impatiently and waited for Reuben to do whatever he happened to be doing. Suddenly, Rad's body stiffened and his vision went black, he could no longer see anything from the cell. His vision was then shifted to the top the warehouse where the murder had taken place, overlooking the large church across the street where a large mob was now gathered together on the front steps as the lady who had led the congregation during the vigil adressed the crowd with angry passion. "What the hell is going on?"
"You're looking through my eyes, mate."
"With the communicators, we are connected at the nervous system, which is connected to our brains, which is also connected to our eyes. Its pretty much humanoid Wi-Fi."
"Damn it. This is going to give me a massive headache in the morning."
"Shut up and watch."
As Reuben kneeled on the roof of the church and focused on the scene below, Rad could hear the screaming of the lady that stood on the top step, inticing the angry mob.
"The Age of the Wolf has come! This is the last time we will sit idley by and watch our children get slaughtered at the hands of some mistake of a creature who has the pleasure of calling himself a human! Hell, the lot of us probably have more so-called 'humanity' in us than they do. They have redefined the word after what they've done to us. And if they all knew that we exist, they would do the exact same to us as the one that murdered little Camille Holden or little Stacy Small or my very own daughter, Katy Mars. Murder us in cold-blood like we don't even belong on 'their' planet. No, we have tried too many times to live in harmony with them. If they want to cut down our numbers one by one, they can do that, but they will be doing it in true self-defense this time. Because we are taking the fight to them!"
The infuriated crowd shouted back at the woman passionately, concurring with her every word. As she continued, a thought occurred to Rad.
"Did she really just say the Age of the Wolf?" he asked with worry. "This is worse than I thought."
"Why do you say that?" Reuben asked.
"I'll tell you when this is over." The woman beckoned towards the crowd and two middle-aged women stepped from it hesitantly, accompanying her in front of the congregation. Tears were flowing down their eyes and the woman that led them was growing more and more emotional as well.
"Ms. Holden and Mrs. Small here have suffered. I have suffered. This whole town has suffered. And all because of some self-righteous waste of life with a superiority complex, who thinks its his job to wipe us from the face of the Earth because we aren't worthy in his eyes. And it irritates me that all of us, not just us lycans, but us creatures who inhabit this planet are so much stronger than them and yet we are forced to hide because of human-run organizations like PULSE, who employ our kind as people as agents and brainwash them and probably secretly want us all put down. You know why they sent their guard dogs here, right? They aren't here to investigate. They are here to make sure we stay in line! To make sure we don't try anything bold and stay in our place, so they can continue to wipe us out. So are we going to just sit here and let them kill us all?! Its time we stand up and end this madness!"
"Is that Fleming watching from outside the crowd?" Rad asked as Reuben narrowed his vision down on one of the lycans who stood away from the assembled crowd with his arms crossed, staring at the woman who had the group's attention.
"Yes, that's him," Reuben answered.
"Why isn't he stopping her? He knows that the killer was probably a lycan?"
Reuben remained silent as he kept his eyes on the Sheriff, surveying his movement. In the blink of an eye, the Sheriff's view switched from the woman straight to Reuben, on top of the warehouse. Rad could feel Reuben tense up and suddenly heard the sound of footsteps behind him. Reuben turned around swiftly but was met with the butt of a weapon and suddenly Rad was jetted back into the cell at the precinct.
"Reuben?!" Rad exclaimed, accessing the communicator again. "Reuben!....Damn it!"
"Now they've got him," Brooke declared irritably.
"That snake," Rad spat angrily. "I knew I couldn't trust Fleming. He was probably the killer all along."
"Actually no," a voice echoed out through the hallway of the jail, sounding as if it were coming from one of the cells. "You got it right the first time."
The three exchanged quiet confused looks with each other before Rad addressed the voice. "Horace?"
"In the flesh."
"What are you talking about?"
"You got it right," Horace called out of view. "I actually am the killer of those three girls."
Rad rose his eyebrows in surprise. "Oh....okay.....um, why?"
"I'm not the mastermind behind the plan if you was wonderin'. But I'm sure you knew that already. That's the part Don is responsible for."
"How do you figure?"
Horace sounded as if he were hesitating but after a few seconds of stalling, he answered. "Me and my brother....my stepbrother....we was never close. But I loved him like a brother. He never returned it, but ever since we was boys, I'd work my ass off to please him. Do things left and right, just to put a smile on his face. It continued on into adulthood. So when he asked me to help him....as he put it, "change the world," I played my part. I now see how stupid I was. Especially when I realized that it wasn't him at all."
"What do you mean?"
"Me and my brother ain't from Neshoba. We come from down South. We moved to Neshoba because he had a plan and I wanted to be apart of it. He said he wanted to start a revolution. He wanted to unite the lycans together and form an army that could take down our human oppressers, and what better way to do that than to travel to the heart of lycan civilization. We been here for about fifteen years; he spent most of that time making a name for himself and establishin' his role as protector of this place by reaching Sheriff status; I just sorta....blended in to the background. But he said the only way to do what he had planned would be through the same means of control that the humans use: manipulation. There's a coalition of folks in this town that knew about this plan all along. Its a small group, not more than about 4 or 5 people. Me, Don, that boy Markus, that girl that you two talked to on the sidewalk"-
"I figured she was in on this," Rad said, nodding as the pieces began to come together in his head.
"Yeah, it was all apart of the plan. He had me murder them girls. He told me to keep doin' it until the town became desperate enough for an answer. He said they would only be sacrifices; that they'd be dyin' for the cause. Once the town grew more and more belligerent, we figured it was time for phase 2, which would be to call up you Majestic 12 fellas. Gettin' you down here to cause more arousal in the people and just make them that much more suspicious. They didn't count on you figurin' out that it was a lycan that did it, but they did anticipate it, so he gave that girl the signal and traced everything back to me. I was the fall guy, the expendable one. They'd have me arrested so ya'll would be pleased, then have you stay at the hotel or leave if you chose to. If you stayed, he would have unlocked the hotel's shut-down system at the last minute and let the varmins in to getcha, but you kept snoopin' around so Don ended up turnin' the whole town against ya. As for me, he didn't seriously lock me up anyhow. This cell is even unlocked. He told me to wait in here until ya'll were gone, ya know, to keep up appearances, but while in here I got to thinkin' and now....I'm seein' another side of things."
"So let me get this straight," Brooke said in thought. "Your brother is manipulating the townspeople into thinking that a human killed those girls and he's using their anger to turn the town into an army?"
"Pretty much. He made them think that I was arrested falsly, which further builds a case against ya'll. Believe it or not, I'm actually looked on in somewhat of a positive light around here, despite what Don might've told you, so it was a blow to the community, enough to get them even angrier."
"So what's the point of letting them rally up tonight?" Rad asked. "What's a group of ravaging werewolves in the same place supposed to do?"
Horace could be heard sighing in the cell beside them before he answered. "Its the grand finale."
"The only people that will be transforming tonight is every lycan in the city except me and my brother."
"What? How is that possible, do you have Theriatic Medicine?"
"Nope, even better. Me and Don are both Therians."
Rad almost gasped with surprise and a look of speechlessness hit his face. "Wow...."
"Wait, what's a Therian?" Laser asked confusedly.
"Yeah," Brooke said, just as confused. "I've been a lycan for 12 years and I don't know what that is."
"A Therian is a shapeshifter who can control when and where they take their form. They used to be an actual race but they went extinct a few hundred years ago."
"I know," Horace responded. "They still are actually. Me and my brother learned how to become Therians."
"You can learn that kind of thing?" Brooke said with shock, turning to Rad.
Rad nodded slowly. "Its probably one of the most difficult kind of training exercises a being can possibly go through though. Its like learning how to give birth to a child through continuous child birth. Most lycans can't handle it. I used to have a lycan friend that I helped learn it. But there's only one thing out there that you can learn it from."
"Yep," Horace said. "And right now, Don is going to be using it to turn the entire town into Therians by the end of the night."
"Wait, how?" Rad said, getting up and leaning against the bars, his face pointed out towards the hall. "I thought it takes weeks, even months to do it, even with the book?"
"What book?" Brooke exclaimed, standing and trying to get Rad's attention again. "What are you even talking about?"
"There's a spell," Horace answered. "It only works for large groups of lycans, never a single one. It can start the transition in only a minute. The transformation works like it would with a grasshopper. You know how they say if you rub a grasshopper's leg gently for 5 seconds every hour for about 4 hours, you can automatically switch it into swarm mode AKA changing them into a locust?"
"I vaguely remember hearing that somewhere, yeah," Rad answered.
"Yeah well, you know how in large groups, its nothing for a grasshopper to turn into locust form; as long as they are together, they will swarm, becoming an almost unstoppable force? That's what will happen if those lycans become Therians. It will happen immediately and they will swarm. You think they're angry now, wait till tomorrow morning."
"This is not good," Rad said, pacing around in the cell. "Therians have been known to topple entire civilizations in these kinds of numbers."
"Rad!" Brooke called, snapping in his face. "Pay attention. What book is the Sheriff using to cause this?"
"Uh..." Rad struggled to remember its name. "The Apocalyptican. He's using the Apocalyptican."
"What is that?"
"You've heard of the Necronomicon, right? The Book of the Dead from H.P. Lovecraft stories?"
"Yeah, of course."
"The Apocalyptican was the inspiration for that. Only its not The Book of the Dead, its the Book of the End. Its a grimoire that details various prophecized scenarios in which a civilization's way of life is to come to an end and actually has a meter in it for each prophecy that measures how much longer it will take for it to occur."
"A meter?" Laser said in amazement. "That actually moves?"
"Yeah, its enchanted or something. It doesn't say which civilizations specifically but its been speculated that it means individual parts of the world, like where governments reign. Like the US would count as a single civilization. Some people argue that the book's definition of 'civilization' means the entire human race as a whole but I've never"-
"What does it say about what's going to happen now, Rad?" Brooke asked sternly, losing her patience.
"Well apart from the prophecies, it also has spells, rituals, and instructions on various dark activities which are connected to each prophecy. In the chapter with the ritual that turns a lycan into a Therian, there's a prophecy called the Age of the Wolf, in which it describes an uprising of super-intelligent 'wolves' that will rise up and enslave the human race. That ritual is what Don and Horace used to become therians and its what Don is going to use to start the uprising, fulfilling the prophecy."
"Well is there a way to stop it? Or any of the prophecies?"
"Yeah, it happens all the time. That's why the world is still intact, its just a matter of the right people being in the right place at the right time, knowing what to do and working things out. But the contents and prophecies constantly change, especially when one is foiled, so its like an infinite doomsday clock. Even if we stop this one, there will always be another prophecy to replace it and so on until it finally wins."
"Damn, that's morbid," Laser said, shaking his head.
"How do you know so much about this book?" Brooke asked with a slight suspicion.
Rad hesistated, rolling his eyes. "I used to own it."
"And how exactly did it get into the hands of a madman?"
"I told you, its enchanted. Its apparently got a binding spell on it that makes it pretty much impossible for it to stay in the possession of one person for longer than a month at the most, if that. I'm also willing to bet Don wasn't a madman before he got his hands on it."
"No, he was," Horace's voice rang out again. "And I'm gonna be the one to stop him."
"Horace," Brooke asked turning to the bars and speaking out through them. "What did you mean when you said you realized it wasn't him at all?"
"I'm not going to answer that. I've given you too much information about him as it is. This is my fight and ya'll are gonna stay out of it."
"You said your cell was unlocked," Rad replied. "If you wanted to stop him, why haven't you done it already?"
"You ever heard of planning, Agent Munday?" Horace said with annoyance. "I'm waiting for the right moment."
Rad sighed and walked away from the bars in defeat. "Great. Now we know who our enemy is and still, we have no way to get out or find a way to him....wait, Laser what time is it?"
Laser closed his eyes and spaced out for a second but returned shortly. "6:59."
Rad turned towards the cell's window and he could see it. The moon was currently being obscured by a clutter of clouds but it would only be a matter of time before it was visible and they would be in deep trouble. It was still light out from the sunset and twilight was on the horizon but with the moon out, nothing would be able to stop this transformation. "Oh crap," Rad muttered under his breath, whipping to Laser, who sat on the bench beside him. "Okay, Laser, I'm going to need you to focus like you've never focused before."
"Okay," Laser answered nervously. "For what?"
"Have you ever tried mind control before?"
"Uh, yeah but it doesn't really work on human minds. It only works on primitive creatures and even then its kind of hard."
Rad thought for a moment, then looked at Brooke, who swallowed with a bit of worry herself. It was an interesting sight, seeing a woman with such a tough exterior actually show a brief sign of weakness. "I have an idea. When she starts transforming, I want you to focus all of your mind control energy on her. You can not let her get out of control, do you understand me? She will kill us both if you do. I need you to gain control over her and use her to break us out of here."
"Are you sure this is going to work?" Brooke said anxiously.
"No, I am not. Laser, start focusing now, get a headstart."
"Right," Laser said, looking over at Brooke, as the two made eye contact. Brooke swallowed hard as she waited, backing up towards the bars of the cell and placing her back onto it. She gripped them hard and sighed heavily as Rad turned away and looked outside towards the sky, waiting.
Suddenly, with an immediate flash, the sky went completely dark. Midnight dark. Just as quickly, the clouds in front of the moon parted in opposite directions and dissipated against the night sky as the moon came into full view. "Whoa," Rad said aloud. "I've never seen anything like this."
Brooke grunted loudly and Rad whipped around to her, backing up to the opposite side of the wall. Her skin was turning pale and she was beginning to sweat profusely. The moonlight from the window was shining directly on top of her. Outside in the distance, howls could be heard in the night. Brooke began to flex her chest forward and exhaled forcefully as if she were dryheaving. All of a sudden, she flung her head forward and her bottom jaw came loose, dropping down towards her chest. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head as her jaw suddenly shot back up but now it was jutted past her face and then her head grew until it met the end of her jaw bone. She shook her head violently and her body began to shake as her muscles contracted and her bones began to shift inside her body. Hair was growing profusely from the pores of her skin and her moans and grunts grew more animalistic with each movement. She kept her hands gripped to the bars but they too were growing as her fingernails began to form into claws.
"You getting a grip, Laser?" Rad asked nervously, as he watched Brooke undergo her transformation right in front of him.
"I'm trying," Laser responded, a strain on his face.
"Please try harder, my friend."
The transformation stalled slightly as Brooke began to pant in exhaustion, her voice now a twist between feminine human and growing behemoth. Her clothes were so tight on her body now that they were about to tear off at any moment. She kept her head down, so Rad could not see the extent of her facial change, but it was apparent that this was not over. In an instant, she brought her head up and stared into Rad's eyes with a pair of her own huge yellow wolf headlights. Her snout was now extended and she was growling viciously as the remainder of her muscles extended and she grew in size, towering over both Rad and Laser.
"I've almost got it," Laser said, focusing as hard as he could, his eyes shut tight.
As Laser kept his focus, Brooke suddenly began to lift off of the ground and she finally released her grip on the bars. The wolf now looked confused as it began to float in the air, wiggling its arms and legs viciously.
"That's telekinesis, Laser, we're looking for mind control here!"
"I know, hold on, I've almost got it."
As Brooke finally reached her full form, Rad noticed that the white streaks that had been in her hair were now running from her wolf head to her back and sides. It was a good thing; it made her easily distinguishable from the other werewolves, so they would be able to find her later. Now that the wolf was in full control, Brooke began to flail angily as she swung her claws in Rad's direction, growling and snarling savagely.
"On second thought, keep doing what you're doing," Rad said with wide eyes, his back pressed against the back wall harder than ever.
"GOT IT!" Laser declared as the wolf suddenly dropped down onto its feet and looked up in wonder. "I can see through her eyes now."
"Good," Rad said, taking a breath of relief.
"This is incredible," Laser said, as the wolf looked down at its own claws and body.
"All right now, try bending back the bars."
The wolf turned around delicately, moving with Laser's own mannerisms and fixed its claws in between the bars of the cell. With much ease, Laser had Brooke pull them back and stepped through.
"Nice," Rad said through heavy breathing. "Good job. Now sma"-
"Agh," Laser called out in pain as the wolf grabbed its own head. "My head is pounding."
"Focus, Laser, you can do this," Rad said, trying to be encouraging.
"I think I've still got it." The wolf looked as if it had regained its composure and was now back under Laser's control.
"Okay, now have her smash through the wall."
Laser strained even harder and the wolf pounced forward, breaking through the hallway corridor and sending chunks of brick and wall fragments into the green grass outside. A large hole was left behind.
"Now what do I do?"
"Run. Just run as far as you can. Make sure she can't retrace her steps."
The werewolf charged forward on all fours, galloping out into the field across from the station and hopping over a nearby house until it was almost out of sight.
"That's it. Keep going for as long as you can."
"Okay," Laser said, a drop of blood sliding from his left nostril.
Rad looked over at him and saw it. "Dude, your nose is bleeding."
"Really?" he replied, smiling slightly. "I can't even feel it."
A few minutes passed and Laser inhaled forcefully, his eyes open wide. "Okay. She's pretty far out. She won't be able to find her way back, not in that state."
"Good," Rad said confidently. "Let's get out of here."
Laser wiped the blood from his nose and Rad led the way to the bent bars only to be met with the sight of an even larger werewolf, blocking the large open hole in the wall. It growled menacingly at the sight of them.
"Oh shit," Rad exclaimed, trying to move slowly back into the cell but the werewolf suddenly pounced forward. Just as it did, however, another large dark figure blindsided it and slammed it against the wall at the end of the hallway. Rad and Laser stepped out of the cell to see the two werewolves wrestling on a pile of wall debris as the above ceiling lights began to flicker. The werewolf on top held down the other by the throat and turned to the two of them.
"GO!" It shouted as Rad quickly realized that Horace had just saved them. He nodded quickly and led Laser down the hallway to the staircase up to the top level of the precinct. Roars, howls, and thumping footsteps could be heard outside clear as day as the beasts began to run wild throughout town. The place was empty but didn't look like it had been locked down before the 'awakening.' It seemed as if the town either forgot or just didn't care this time around. Or the Sheriff knew that this town would be left in their rearview by morning. As they sprinted back into the precinct, closing the door to the lower cells behind them, they continued on until they reached the Sheriff's office in the back.
"Why are we going in here?"
"I need to confirm something really quick." Rad tried to open the door but it was locked. He backed up from it, then prepared himself by mustering all of his might and kicking the door open. They walked in quickly and Rad headed to the computer on the Sheriff's desk.
"Keep watch at the door," Rad said, sitting down in the seat in front of the computer. "Try to hurl anything that might burst in back out, okay?"
"Okay, I'll try," Laser said, keeping a look out as Rad logged on. There was no need for a password, as the Sheriff had been using a guest account and when Rad pulled up an internet window, it went straight to a Yahoo account log-in page. Rad double clicked the email bar and the email address showed up under it for a clickable option. He clicked it and the password automatically inserted in the section below with it. One final click and he was in the inbox with ease. He searched through a couple of the emails to find that most of them were being sent back and forth between another email address. Searching through the emails, Rad could see that the two had been speaking with one another about the overall plan that was taking place tonight, the initiation of the Age of the Wolf. The thing that confused him though was that the content only focused on plans; plans for how to earn the trust of the residents of Neshoba and plans following the uprising and how they were going to take over the human population. It was obvious that the two were working together but it was almost as if they were both in on the same agenda, both aware of certain work that they were supposedly both meant to do, but could only feasibly be taken care of by Sheriff Fleming himself. Then one line in an email from the sender made everything clear. "We will do this together, my friend. We are bonded forever and it is our destiny as the saviors of the lycan race."
"It's a disorder!" Rad declared aloud.
"What? Laser said, looking back at Rad.
"I've seen this before. This was what Horace was talking about when he meant Don wasn't doing this himself. He has a Lycan-exclusive mental illness brought on by his Therian transformation. Its probably because he did it at such a young age."
"I don't understand," Laser said, shaking his head.
"Just hold on for a second. I'll explain in a bit." Rad focused on the emails once again and discovered that one of the older ones contained several photos scanned from the pages of the Apocalyptican itself. They were the pages taken directly from the Age of the Wolf section of the book. The entire chapter was sent in separate emails, page by page, 4 pages per email at a time. But these emails were from a different source. An email address titled municipaldragon34. Rad frowned hard as his mind began to speculate something that he desperately hoped wouldn't be true.
A crash erupted in the precinct. Laser caught the sight of a large lycan that had barreled its way inside and was now headed in his direction. He held his hand out in front of him, lifting the lycan off the ground and then, with both hands, hurled the creature out of the front entrance, the momentum of which nearly caused him to collapse as he used the border of the door for support.
"Alright, I'm done," Rad said logging off of the computer and following Laser outside. "Let's get our stuff and let's go."
The two headed for the cabinet behind the receptionist's desk which Laser had discovered was the location of their belongings by use of his astral projection much earlier. They opened it up and pulled their things out, re-equiping their arsenal. Rad pulled out his peacoat, slid it on, then pulled out the Fat Lady, kissing it gingerly.
"I know you missed me, baby," he said with a smile, before tapping the button on the bottom and flicking out the bow-sides of the crossbow. "Let's find a car and get out of here."
"And go where?"
"To find Sheriff Fleming."
"And how do we do that?"
"Easy. He'll be the only human looking one out there. Well him and Reuben. Wherever the hell he is."