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Series 8 Episode 7

Gazing up at the domineering building in front of him, Oscar was terrified. He’d been so settled at his old high school. He had friends, memories and a feeling of comfort there, and not even a full year left of high school anyway. Why did his mum have to go jobhunting at such an important time of his life? He couldn’t understand it.

He’d never moved house before, either, so he felt pretty anxious all over. A new school was the worst part, though. He knew nobody. Would he settle in? Would he even have time to make new friends? Oscar was preparing himself for a lonely few months.

“Oscar Madden-Whelan?” a suited lady greeted him at the front gate. Oscar had seen a picture of her before – she was Mrs. Harding, the principal.

“Yes, that’s me,” Oscar smiled nervously.

“Welcome to Crystalshaw High, I hope you’ll enjoy your time here,” she began, leading Oscar around the side of the building, “I’ve arranged for a student in one of your classes to show you around, I’m sure you’d rather talk to someone your own age.”

She led him over to a picnic bench, populated by three students. One was a girl – pretty, with a gorgeous shade of auburn tinting her hair. The other two were boys – both pretty darn cute in Oscar’s eyes. The first had floppy blonde hair resting around his shoulders, while the second had shaggy dark curls of a similar length. He was the cutest of the two, Oscar thought.

“Yasmin, Jono, Freddie, this is Oscar Madden-Whelan. He’ll be joining some of your classes,” Mrs. Harding introduced, “Yasmin, I was hoping you could show him around.”

“Sure,” Yasmin smiled, shifting her bag so Oscar could sit next to her. He plonked himself down trying to keep his cool, but Jono was directly opposite. He was even cuter up close.

“Nice to meet you,” Freddie broke the slightly awkward silence. He was clearly the chirpiest of the group.

“And you,” Oscar smiled back, “Sorry, I’m kinda nervous.”

“Don’t be,” Yasmin reassured, “We don’t bite.”

“Who are these?” Oscar noticed a gold plaque fixed onto the table top, commemorating two people – Dylan Drummond and Jeremy Chadwick.

“My boyfriend and my cousin. They died,” Jono replied. Oops. Oscar had put his foot in it.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to pry,” he quickly apologised.

“No need, you weren’t to know,” Jono reassured kindly, “What about that tour, then?”

Despite the rocky start, Oscar already felt more settled than he’d anticipated. He got the sense that Jono, Freddie and Yasmin were happy to have him around. Just the friends he wanted.

­­­ Sat nervously outside his own bedroom door, Dylan felt emotionally drained. He’d spent the entire night sleeping in shifts with Jono, making sure Oscar was okay sleeping in their bed. He remembered how strange he felt on his own first day. His senses were all over the place, and he had no concept of control. Oscar was going to have to learn from scratch, and it was Dylan’s responsibility to help him.

In good news, the bite had definitely healed Oscar, rather than the unthinkable alternative. His wounds had healed completely, and his breathing was healthy. He’d slept like a baby for the night, much to both Dylan and Jono’s relief.

Stirring, Jono woke up from his two-hour power nap. Thankfully, it was morning now – no more shifts were needed, even if both of them could have done with a proper sleep. Jono sat up from using Dylan’s shoulder as his pillow, smiling as he rubbed his eyes.

“All good?” Jono queried.

“Still sleeping,” Dylan reported back. Oscar’s heartbeat was steady, and no other sounds had come from the bedroom, “But we’re going to have to wake him.”

“He can’t go to school, surely?” Jono was concerned, and rightfully so. It was extremely risky.

“One of us is in each of his classes, and with the Sanctum closed, we can swap the surveillance from Jeremy and I to Oscar,” Dylan reasoned. It was a huge weight off his shoulders to hear how Ed closed the Lunar Sanctum for good. Freddie had shown him the USB files too – it was grotesque to say the least. Dylan knew he was right to have a bad feeling about that place.

“Freddie, visitor,” Caroline yelled up. Freddie poked his head out of his bedroom door, clearly just awake.

“I’m not expecting anyone,” Freddie looked baffled. Nevertheless, he jumped over Dylan and Jono’s legs, still wearing his dressing gown, and bounded downstairs.

“One man down,” Jono remarked, “And Josh went out early, didn’t tell me where.”

“Alert, he’s awake,” Dylan added, hearing Oscar sit up on the creaky bed. Standing up, Dylan shared a concerned glance with Jono. Nether of them knew what was about to happen. Nevertheless, Dylan cautiously opened the door. Oscar was sat up on the bed. He had far more colour in his cheeks than the night before, but he looked so confused.

“Why am I in your bed?” he immediately questioned, skipping the pleasantries.

“Remember last night,” Dylan gently nudged. It must have been such a blur for him.

“Wait, you’re both…,” he realised, “…and you…”

“Yes,” Dylan confirmed.

“I’m getting out of here,” Oscar slid off the bed.

“Oscar, we want to help, your body is changing,” Jono tried to reason, “You’re noticing it already, aren’t you?”

Oscar paused, knowing Jono was correct. Then his eyes glared. It was strange seeing that bright yellow colour on him. He bared his brand-new fangs and claws and charged through Dylan and Jono, pushing them cleanly aside as if it were nothing.

“Shit,” Dylan sighed. The chase was on.

Racking his brain to try and figure out who was visiting him so early in the morning, on a school day no less, Freddie was out of options. He’d be seeing all of his friends at school within the hour, and Sammi always texted ahead before dropping round. It wasn’t like he had anybody else.

At least he was having a more restful morning than the one before. Waking up inside the Sanctum and being off his medication wasn’t fun. He was so meticulous about taking his meds, too. The last time he went off them was when his mum died. George, Jono and Josh were his saving graces.

The door had been left slightly ajar by Caroline. Freddie pulled it open curiously. Rapidly, his nerves turned to amazement when he locked eyes with his visitor. Someone he wasn’t expecting, but was so glad to see.

“George,” Freddie grinned. Immediately, Freddie launched into a tight hug with George, “What are you doing here?”

“Yasmin told me what happened. She thought you’d need some brotherly love,” George explained, “I got the first flight over.”

Freddie was awestruck. He hadn’t seen George in person since the funeral, and he had missed him so much. For years, he’d taken George for granted. Living together became the norm, but Freddie finally understood just what George had given up for him once he’d gone.

Opening the door for George to enter, Freddie felt a sense of strangeness wash over him. Living separately to George was more than a little unusual. The Drummond house felt so homely to him though, and it felt great to be living under the same roof as three of his best friends. It was almost like a rehearsal for college.

“How’s London?” Freddie questioned. He’d spoken to George over the phone most days, but catching up in person had such an exciting buzz to it. Phone calls just weren’t the same.

“It’s great,” George replied, making himself comfortable on the sofa, “I mean, studying is studying, but I get to be a tourist too. I got you this.”

George handed Freddie a medium-sized paper bag, the adorable head of a teddy bear poking out the top. Freddie slid it out of the bag, admiring its red “London” t-shirt.

“Thanks, it’s so cute,” Freddie smiled.

“How have you been holding up?” George changed the subject. Freddie averted his eyes. George had been doing so well on his own – he didn’t want to make him worry.

“Fine,” Freddie lied, “Same as always, you know me.”

“Dude, come on, it’s me,” George wasn’t buying it. Darn.

“I know, I can see you,” Freddie swerved. He was doing his best to avoid the question, but George raised his eyebrow. There was no way out, “I couldn’t have my Adderall in the Sanctum yesterday. First day in years that I had to miss out. I hated it. I don’t know who I am off medication.”

“I never thought you’d become so self-sufficient,” George opened up, “It was so big a battle after mom died.”

“I know, that’s why I never forget, but it was out of my control, and I hated that. I can tame a whole fucking werewolf inside me, but ADHD makes human Freddie impossible. Why can’t being a werewolf cure stuff like ADHD as well as physical injuries?” Freddie ranted. He’d been keeping himself bottled up for so long.

“Freddie, you’ve conquered it before. You’ve been through worse, and look at you now. You’re the kindest, most badass guy I know. One day off medication doesn’t change that,” George assured, “That’s not all, though, is it?”

Freddie barely knew where to begin. He was the best at acting – he put on smiles for everyone, but only Sammi had seen a glimpse into how he really felt. How could he help George understand what he’d been going through for months?

“Come with me,” Freddie stood up. George needed to see for himself.

Sat alone on the dock overlooking the lake, Lily was immersed in her thoughts. She could have stayed at the lakehouse forever – it was the perfect place to de-stress and offload, and she truly needed that with everything going on around her.

It was a relief to have helped Ed close the Lunar Sanctum down. The staff were being watched like hawks while Ed tried to find evidence that could implicate them without exposing the supernatural world, and that made Lily so glad. Dylan and Jono were both safe, and that mattered to her more than anything.

That said, Lily knew it wasn’t time to rest yet. Jono said he saw Monroe at the school. She was in Crystalshaw, no doubt with Jamal in tow. It wasn’t going to be long before they showed their faces.

“Hey,” a voice joined Lily. A male voice, but it wasn’t Alex. Lily spun around to see Nolan stood a couple of metres back.

“Hi, come and sit,” she suggested, “All okay?”

“Yeah,” Nolan replied, dipping his toes into the lake, “No, they’re not. Dylan told us about Monroe.”

“I heard too,” Lily replied, “It’s okay, we’re all in this together. She can’t hurt you without getting through all of us too.”

“That’s what Liam said. He’s inside right now,” Nolan informed, “I wanted to check you were okay. Sammi drove us over, she’s so nice.”

“Thanks,” Lily smiled, “I’m okay, sort of. I know it’s only a matter of time until Jamal finds us, so I’m trying to stay calm.”

“What’s he like?” Nolan worriedly asked.

“Stubborn and ruthless,” Lily replied honestly. She still couldn’t shake the gut-wrenching vision of Nicolas’ dead body. It was horrific, even after all he had done to her.

“Like his mom, then,” Nolan noted.

“We’ve got each other,” Lily reminded, “Don’t forget that.” Lily smiled. Nolan was so innocent. He didn’t deserve this.

“There you are,” Liam jogged over, Alex and Sammi following behind.

“Just getting a moment of quiet,” Nolan smiled at him, putting a brave face on. Liam perched next to him, dipping his own toes in the lake as well.

“All okay?” Alex sat next to Lily, planting a cute peck on her cheek.

“I think so. For now, anyway,” Lily admitted, “Where’s Sindy?”

“Having one of her shower concerts,” Alex laughed, “Trust me, we’re better off out here.” Lily chuckled. She loved how easy it as for Alex to put a gigantic smile on her face.

“I feel like a fifth wheel out here,” Sammi remarked, crouching down behind Lily.

“Fifth wheel? I thought it was third wheel,” Lily was confused.

“Yeah, but there’s four of you,” Sammi justified. Lily couldn’t help laughing, even if she was still baffled by the logic behind Sammi’s misquote.

“This looks cosy,” a dreadfully familiar tone came from nearby. Lily knew exactly who it was before even seeing them. Nervously, she spun around to see Jamal, stood by an older lady in her late thirties. Worryingly, she was holding a gun at them.

“Hello Nolan,” the lady smiled devilishly. Monroe. Nolan looked petrified. She’d found him.

Tagging along with Johnny’s idea, Brett felt nervous. The hospital was the last place he wanted to be; it felt like he was approaching the lion’s den, and heading straight for a mauling. That wasn’t stopping Johnny, though. He was determined to approach the basilisk and attempt to get through to him. Would it be that easy? Brett sure hoped so, but his expectations were low.

Brett called Yasmin and Josh for back-up – the brains and the brawn. Yasmin had brought the lift key to access the basement, and the lift journey felt like it had taken hours; anxiety really slowed time down in Brett’s mind.

The lift doors slid open as casually as always. Brett looked at Johnny. He could read him like a book. He was putting on a brave face, but underneath, he was just as scared. Offering support, Brett linked his pinky finger with Johnny’s. Just like last time, they had each other.

“Did you get out without him seeing?” Yasmin queried.

“Yeah, he was asleep, Jono was on Oscar watch,” Josh replied. None of them wanted to burden Dylan with this when he had so much to deal with already. Brett agreed, though he wasn’t sure it inspired any confidence in him. It was obvious why Dylan was the leader of the pack – he was strong and logical, yet also empathetic. Just the person Brett wanted on his side.

“They’ll be okay, right?” Johnny looked guilty, “I feel like Oscar should be everyone’s priority right now.”

“We’ll all be dead if we don’t do this,” Yasmin reasoned, “Besides, they’ve got Freddie to help too. They’ll be okay.” Brett surprisingly found himself agreeing. They had to deal with this before it got worse, and it was bound to, based on past form within the supernatural world.

Together, they cautiously traipsed down the corridor. Flashbacks from his last visit dashed through Brett’s mind. He couldn’t shake the image of the burns on Johnny’s skin, or the fear that pulsated through him. Coming back was difficult.

“Can you hear anything?” Brett wondered, trying to keep focused.

“Yeah, one heartbeat,” Josh reported back.

“No scent,” Johnny added, “Just like the other day.”

“How can something have no scent?” Brett was baffled.

“Let’s find out,” Yasmin motivated. They had reached the end of the corridor. Around the corner was the lab. All four of them peeped around, keeping themselves out of view. There he was. The basilisk, in human form, looking back at them. Their hiding wasn’t good enough.

“Hey,” Johnny held his hands out, “We’re not here to hurt you, I promise. We just want to talk.”

“You were there,” the man spoke for the first time, staring directly at Brett. Where was he? Was he talking about the other day?

“Where?” Brett queried, confused.

“The Lunar Sanctum,” he continued. Of course. Brett was there with Ed, Jono and Nolan when they went looking for Liam.

“Saving our friends,” Brett replied, “The Sanctum is shut down now, it’s gone.”

“It’s never gone. They’ll regroup and find a way,” he seemed doubtful.

“Then let us help out,” Johnny interjected, “But you need to stop hurting us. Can you do that?”

“I’ll try,” he nodded. Brett felt relieved – perhaps this would go to plan after all?

Frustrated and scared, Jono should have seen this coming. He remembered how he felt after he was bitten. It was the strangest, most disorientating time of his life, and it changed so much. His life just a few years ago was miles away from how it was now.

Most of those changes happened for the better, of course. Saving people was such a thrill, and he’d made some of his best friends along the way. That was before he even considered Dylan, who was undoubtedly the best thing to ever happen to him. The pros outweighed the cons, and they just needed to help Oscar see that. Before he caused chaos outside.

Just outside Dylan’s house was the forest – a minefield for a newly converted, out-of-control werewolf. Oscar’s animalistic instincts would have been right at home in the vast, mysterious forest. However, buried inside was the human Oscar, who was bound to be terrified. Jono had to help him out.

“I’m sorry, I know this can’t be easy,” Dylan mentioned as they skipped over a collapsed tree trunk.

“We’ve both been there and got the t-shirt,” Jono reminisced, “Not my finest moment, but I got through it, thanks to you. Now we both have to make sure Oscar gets through it too.”

“You were right, you know,” Dylan added, “He is sweet. I can see the appeal.”

“Yes,” Jono playfully smiled.

“Yes what?” Dylan looked back at him with the cutest look of pure confusion he’d ever seen.

“I do know I was right,” Jono winked. Dylan couldn’t help laughing, even if he was obviously trying not to.

“That was awful,” Dylan giggled. He was so cute when he laughed, helped by his beautiful smile. The amount of hours Jono had spent gazing at photos of Dylan in his absence was crazy, but he would never regret adoring somebody so special.

“It’s why you love me,” Jono teased.

“Too right,” Dylan kissed him. Jono had learnt never to take that feeling for granted ever again, “Come on, we’ve got a werewolf to find.”

Dylan was right. It was important that they didn’t lose sight of the goal. Oscar needed both of them urgently, and Jono felt a sense of responsibility for what happened to him. It was up to him to find him safely.

“I thought I was keeping him safe,” Jono confessed, “By not telling him about werewolves. He sat with us, hung out with us, and it was great. Oscar got to be normal, and so did we, for a bit.”

“I know,” Dylan nodded, listening as intently as he always did.

“How did we end up here? We’re cursed, Dylan. We tried to keep one person safe, just one person, and now he’s roaming the woods on his own,” Jono ranted.

“We will keep Oscar safe. Remember, being a werewolf isn’t a death sentence, we’re doing alright, aren’t we?” Dylan suggested.

“If you take away the hunters, maybe,” Jono was far less convinced, but he appreciated Dylan’s optimistic take nonetheless.

“He’s got all of us, don’t worry,” Dylan reassured.

WHAM! Something collided with Jono, smacking him to the ground with a harsh thud. Jono could barely pay attention to who his enemy was, but the blonde, shaggy hair gave it away. It was Oscar, fully shifted, out of control. Jono could hardly believe this animal was the same Oscar he cared for so much.

Taking deep breaths as they neared their destination, Freddie was feeling very anxious. It was the first time he had been there in five months, and the emotions and memories had already been triggered. The final glimpse of Dylan in the control room. Jono’s exasperated, despairing face when he realised what was happening. Sammi’s pure silence. It was horrible.

“Do you know where we are?” Freddie asked George. His arms were folded, and he felt unusually insular. He’d rather have been anywhere but there. Of course, he had taken George deep into the forest. A place that he hadn’t been in months, but had dreamt of every night.

“The warehouse. The explosion,” George identified.

“Our lives changed right here. When I had to stop Jono rushing back into an explosion to save his dead boyfriend,” Freddie explained.

“But Dylan’s alive? I saw the WhatsApp picture,” George replied.

“Yeah, that’s great, honestly, but we all still grieved for him. Jono grieved for his boyfriend. Sammi grieved for her brother. Dylan and Jeremy being alive doesn’t rewrite how we felt for five months,” Freddie opened up. It felt good to talk to George. He hadn’t been that open with anyone, not even Sammi.

“I get it,” George replied, listening intently.

“But do you? How would you know?” Freddie lashed out. Immediately, he regretted it. None of this was George’s fault.

“Come here,” George commanded, opening his arms. Freddie obliged, collapsing into the warm hug he desperately needed from his big brother, “Listen. When mom died, I had to be the strong one, and it was hard. I ended up confiding in Mrs. Gardner at the care home when I started work. Well, Margaret as she made me call her when I left. Anyway, she gave me the best advice, and I felt so much better just for talking to someone. Don’t bottle anything up, Freddie. There are no prizes for being the strong one.”

“Got it,” a teary Freddie replied. Then it clicked. George said it so casually that he almost missed it. Freddie ungripped from the hug, ensuring he was thinking along the right lines, “Wait, reverse a second. Mrs. Gardner. What did you say her name was?”

“Margaret, why?” George didn’t make the link.

“Jeremy’s carer was called Margaret, and he said she went into a care home,” Freddie realised. Immediately, he began to sprint. This was major.

Meeting eyes with Jamal immediately sent vibrations of terror through Lily’s body. His smug arrogant smile stank of hatred, and it was clear that he got it from his mum, too. She looked like she was enjoying her reunion with Nolan, who seemed more on-edge than ever before. The anxiety in the air had never been stronger.

Slowly, Alex slipped his hand around Lily’s. It was the simplest of gestures, but Lily instantly felt more at ease remembering he was right there beside her. In the corner of her eye, she noticed Liam had done the same with Nolan, too. They had each other’s backs.

“What do you want?” Nolan asked, with both fury and terror in his voice.

“Can’t an old teacher drop by on one of her top ex-students?” Monroe smirked.

“There’s probably safeguarding protocols about that,” Alex piped up, leaping to Nolan’s defence.

“And there’s three new faces,” Monroe turned her attention to Lily, Sammi and Alex, “Miss Lily Chadwick, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you. You’re a unique specimen, after all.”

“Glad your lapdog has spoken so highly of me,” Lily remarked. She refused to let Jamal get the upper hand on her.

“I’ve been looking forward to this,” Jamal grinned. His face was so punch-able. Lily felt sick.

“Of course, we’ve come to make an offer. Nolan, Alex, Sammi, you don’t have to be part of this,” Monroe began her pitch, “Join the right side. Protect yourselves.”

Lily knew what Monroe was doing. She was forming an army, and only inviting humans. Her intentions were crystal clear, and Lily was furious.

“Shove it,” Sammi quickly replied, much to Lily’s relief.

“Agreed,” Alex concurred. Of course, she didn’t doubt either of them, but she knew it was a risk for them to stand against hunters on team supernatural.

“Nolan?” Monroe’s softly spoken voice remained calm as she piled the pressure onto poor Nolan. He looked like he was about to crumble.

“Fuck off,” Nolan responded, an unusual coating of confidence draped over his words.

“Well, in that case, you’ll be hearing from us later,” Monroe turned around, heading back away from the lakehouse, “Sooner than you think.”

“Wait,” Lily called out, “Where’s Misha?” It was the only piece of the puzzle that didn’t make any sense.

“Of course. My daughter. You would think she’d have listened to her mother, but no. The Lunar Sanctum are taking care of her, after you and your banshee friend poisoned her mind,” Monroe announced. Lily was disgusted. There was no maternal instinct in Monroe.

“The Lunar Sanctum’s shut down,” Sammi mentioned. Lily almost missed that detail. Why were the Sanctum involved?

“And if you believe that, you really do deserve what’s coming,” Jamal laughed. They sauntered away, as if neither had a care in the world. Liam went to attack, but Nolan pulled him back. He needed support, not defence.

“What did I miss?” Sindy strolled out, her hair wrapped in a towel while another preserved her modesty. Lily couldn’t help chuckle – if she didn’t laugh, she’d probably cry.

“We need to help Misha,” Alex was quick to say.

“But where is she? The Lunar Sanctum building is shut down, they’re operating elsewhere,” Lily thought.

“Ed,” Sammi thought, “He’s been tracking the staff. He might have some sort of clue.”

“Best idea we’ve got. Come on,” Lily took the lead. They were motivated and fired up, so they had to put it to good use. Misha needed them.

Impressed at how well Johnny was handling the situation, Yasmin was all-ears. She was desperate to know more about the basilisk. Everyone had a story, especially in the supernatural world. His was bound to be interesting.

Josh stood side-by-side with her. In some ways, she was pleased that things had slotted into some sort of normality with him. Holding grudges was exhausting, but at the same time, he deserved it. Yasmin had no more tears or anger left inside her, though she wasn’t ready to forgive and forget yet.

“Who are you?” Johnny led the questioning. The basilisk had captured him – it made perfect sense for Johnny to extend the olive branch.

“Marcus. Marcus Deegan,” he replied. In human form, the basilisk was a terrified young man. He was surely only a few years older than they were, and his posture indicated he was worlds away from the creature he became.

“Do you know what you are?” Yasmin questioned. Of course, not everyone was fortunate enough to have a bestiary lying around.

“No,” he replied, still scared, “I know I’m a monster, and I can’t control what it does. Please, help me.”

“You’re a basilisk,” Johnny explained gently. He was doing the most amazing job of being kind and approachable.

“I don’t know what that means,” Marcus cried, “I just woke up one day, naked, in here. There were two scientists examining me.”

“The scientists,” Josh realised. Of course. Now it was beginning to make sense.

Unexpectedly, Marcus collapsed. He looked like he was in immense pain. His breathing grew heavy, and he had his hand over his heart. He was struggling.

“What’s happening?” Yasmin panicked.

“My body’s rejecting it. I’ve been ill for months, and it’s starting to give up,” Marcus explained, forcing himself to sit up against the wall, “They changed me. They made me this. I waited for them to change me back, but they’re gone.”

“Is that possible? Can you be changed back?” Brett wondered, glancing around the room for a solution.

“I don’t think so,” Yasmin replied nervously, but she couldn’t have known for sure. The supernatural world surprised her every day – being open-minded was important.

“The Lunar Sanctum,” Marcus continued, struggling to speak, “They caught me. Experimented on me. I got out during a fire drill, but they’re looking for me.”

“You’re the fourth person. Dylan, Jeremy, Liam, and you,” Josh realised, speaking gently, “Listen, my brother is Dylan Drummond. He’s an alpha, and he was in the Sanctum too. He’s not going to let anyone hurt you.”

Marcus nodded, wincing as the pain continued. His skin was pale and his movements were slowing down. He was slipping away.

“Text from Sammi,” Brett interrupted, “He says the Sanctum’s still operational.”

“You need to take them out for good. I can help,” Marcus muttered, but his words were becoming harder to understand. His movements ceased. His eyes slid shut. His body fell lifelessly against the floor. A silence followed. Nobody knew what to say.

“What now?” Josh nervously asked.

“Now we fight,” Yasmin confidently replied, “That’s enough death.” Nobody was going to take the pack down.

Thinking quickly, Dylan knew he had no time to waste. Oscar was seconds away from tearing Jono apart, limb from limb. Dylan knew exactly what was going through Oscar’s mind; his humanity had been sidelined entirely in favour of a new, fearsome beast that was desperate to assert its dominance. There was no element of control; Oscar hadn’t had time to learn yet.

Jono was doing his best to keep Oscar at bay, but it wasn’t easy work. Something had to give. This was on Dylan. He needed to be the alpha. Oscar was his beta. His responsibility.

“Oscar,” Dylan commanded, giving permission to his inner wolf to shift. The mere command wasn’t enough, though. Dylan had to speak in the only language the animal understood. Thankfully, it was as easy as flicking a switch. Dylan unleashed the loudest roar he could. He was in charge, and this beta had no choice but to accept that.

To Dylan’s relief, it worked. Oscar stopped attacking and stood up, offering a helping hand to Jono. His posture slumped and he was avoiding eye contact. He was mortified.

“Thanks,” Jono broke the silence, smiling at Dylan. It was clear that Oscar didn’t know how to react. Dylan felt so sorry for him – he was new to this, it couldn’t possibly have been his fault, but he could have caused so much damage.

“I can hurt people,” Oscar said, still averting his eyes.

“Yes,” Dylan replied. There was no use in lying to him. He had to know the reality of what his life now was.

“Will I kill people?” Oscar queried.

“Not if we can help it,” Jono assured.

“I’m scared,” Oscar glanced up, looking each of them in the eye. His usually pale cheeks were an embarrassed red, and a trail of tears trickled down to his jawline.

“Good,” Dylan replied, “Emotions keep you human. That’s how you control the wolf. That’s how you stop yourself from hurting someone.”

“Thank you,” Oscar managed to raise a smile, “For not giving up on me. You’ve had every right to.”

“You’re my friend, Oscar. We’re a pack. We’re all family. That includes you, too,” Dylan explained. He caught Jono smiling proudly. Dylan knew how much Oscar meant to him. He owed him this.

Whoosh! Dylan caught a tranquiliser dart in his hand. Someone was attacking them.

“Get down,” he commanded. Immediately, he crouched behind a fallen tree trunk. More darts fired, all whizzing over his head. Jono ducked next to him, but Oscar was too slow. He’d slumped to the floor, a dart proudly sticking out of his neck.

“Oscar!” Jono cried out.

“No, they’ll get you too,” Dylan commanded. Whoever this was, they knew exactly who they were targeting. Dylan felt scared. This felt all too familiar. He knew what hunters did.

Two guards emerged, collecting Oscar’s body. They had the Lunar Sanctum logo on their uniform. Now they had to fight back.

Dylan gave Jono a nod of approval. Together, they stood up, fully shifted. They had a friend to save. The guards were unfazed, though. Whoosh! Two darts came their way, but neither of them dodged in time. Dylan felt his eyes snapping shut with a massive sense of urgency. He couldn’t fight. They had won. They had Oscar.

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