Series 6 Episode 9
Front door blown wide open. House absolutely wrecked from top to bottom. There was mess all over the carpet: ornaments smashed, photos destroyed, and any remnants of the Marsden family home were in tatters.
It was a difficult sight for thirteen-year-old Drew. His entire life had been flipped on its head. He had been forced to grow up quicker than he should have. The only worries he should have had were homework and grades. Somehow, he actually missed the days of school being his priority, considering how much he complained about useless worksheets.
However, his life was falling apart. His pack were gone. His house had been ransacked. Drew wasn’t a very material person, but it went to show – nowhere was safe. What scared him the most, though, was the scent that lingered. It wasn’t human. It was a werewolf, and he knew exactly which one.
Perhaps it was naïve, but Drew couldn’t fathom why werewolves were at war with each other when both packs were being torn down by hunters. It was more than counter-productive, it was plain stupid. They should unite, despite their differences, to overcome their common enemy.
“Mom? Dad?” Drew called out. They should have been at home – it was late, and he knew for sure they had no plans. However, no response came.
Drew cautiously made his way upstairs – perhaps they couldn’t hear him? The house was eerily silent throughout, though; the creaking stairs made the only audible sound. Drew could feel an intense fear against his skin. Something wasn’t right, and he was drawn to his parents’ bedroom. He tentatively made his way there, extremely worried about what he would find.
Inside, Drew’s worst fears were confirmed. The most disgusting, gruesome sight met his eyes, and it broke whatever remained of his heart. Blood was dropping all over the bedsheets, surrounding the two bodies that had been butchered on top. The bodies of the people he loved the most. The bodies of his parents.
Drew felt numb. This had gone too far. His parents didn’t know anything about what he really was, or the war that had been going on in the shadows. They were innocent. He had taken them from him cold-heartedly.
The immense sadness began to hit. He had lost almost everything now. This war had to end, because the only person left was himself. One thirteen-year-old child, armed with more than enough grief to win the war. It was the only option left.
Dylan’s mind was spinning. Everything happening was making less and less sense. The scientists’ plan was worse than he could ever have envisaged, and he didn’t know how to stop it. He couldn’t reprogram the Nemeton like they had, he had no idea how to. They were all human again, and somehow, that didn’t appear to be the end of whatever they were planning.
His friends were still in danger. Their fake werewolf soldiers still had Allyn captured. Somehow, they hadn’t been affected. Why were their eyes still glowing, and their fangs still visible?
“What now?” Dylan called out. The Nemeton was making furious rustling sounds. It was upset and ferocious. The balance was wrong.
“Your kind are a disease,” the female-voiced scientist spoke, “This is the end.”
“What about your little puppets?” Dylan continued. He still had so many questions that he needed answers to.
“They are biologically humans. We engineered them to act like werewolves, but their life spans are limited,” she replied.
“Engineered?” Dylan was disgusted at how little empathy she had, “They were people. Innocent people. They’re not machines. You, though, you’re not human anymore. You lost your humanity a long time ago.”
“What do you want with us?” Drew enquired.
“You are of no relevance to us,” the male scientist added.
Just as they spoke, more of the creatures arrived, dragging somebody over. They were wearing a bright red jacket – one Dylan had seen so many times before. It had ended up in his bedroom by mistake so many times.
“Josh?” Dylan identified. He looked battle worn, but very much alive. He had cuts and marks on his cheeks that weren’t healing. He looked wrecked.
“Your friends failed,” the female scientist mocked.
“Come on, let’s go,” Drew urged, “We’re not relevant, so we don’t need to be here.”
“That easily?” Dylan was baffled.
“Don’t complain,” Drew whispered, “This keeps us alive. Surrendering isn’t giving up, right?”
“Right,” Dylan agreed. He helped carry Josh back away from the Nemeton. He could barely move on his own. They needed to regroup together, and fast.
Taking shelter in the safest place she could think of, Yasmin heaved Drew’s bunker door shut. The walls and door were lined with mountain ash – the creatures couldn’t get to them. They were protected.
The downside was that there was no phone signal. Yasmin couldn’t raise the alarm to Dylan, meaning they were trapped without rescue for the time being. She and Freddie were on their own.
“What now?” Freddie queried.
“We wait,” Yasmin replied, exasperated. She wasn’t convinced that this was a good idea for her state of mind. Too much quiet time meant too much dwelling. She needed to be kept busy, but she simply couldn’t.
“You’re thinking about him, right?” Freddie acknowledged. He could always read her emotions. They knew each other better than anyone else.
“How did you guess?” Yasmin raised a tiny smile – the best she could muster up under the circumstances.
“Because I’m thinking about him too,” Freddie opened up. They both slouched against the wall, sitting side-by-side along the wall, “He’s my best friend.”
“I know,” Yasmin replied, “I really like him, you know? I’ve never loved anyone like this before. No offence.”
“None taken,” Freddie smiled, “We’re better as friends. Best decision we ever made.”
“If he’s, you know,” Yasmin trailed off. She couldn’t bring herself to say the words.
“He won’t be,” Freddie understood what she meant.
“We don’t know that. If he is, then we need each other more than ever. You and me,” Yasmin rested her head on Freddie’s shoulder.
“I’m not going anywhere, don’t you worry. Besides, George is going to college, he’ll be around less, so I’m going to have to grow up a lot. I’ll need you,” Freddie confessed.
“Did you hear back from the computer shop?” Yasmin asked. She had helped him complete his resumé for a trainee technician in town. He needed a job for when George was around less, of course.
“I’ve got an interview next Monday,” Freddie replied, “If I’m still alive by then.”
“Dude, that’s amazing,” Yasmin felt a massive wave of pride wash over her. For just a moment, her worries and sadness washed away like rain against a car windscreen.
A loud banging interrupted them outside the door. Yasmin jumped out of her skin. Someone, or something, knew they were in there. She put her index finger firmly against her lip, signalling the urgency for silence to Freddie.
The banging continued. The door was strong and deflecting them all, but it was unsettling. Suddenly, the wheel began to turn. They were attempting to get in.
“Maybe it’s Dylan?” Freddie optimistically hoped.
“He wouldn’t be able to open the door. He’d call out for us,” Yasmin reasoned, “Whoever it is, they shouldn’t be able to get in, right?”
The door creaked open. Yasmin’s theory was thrown out of the window. The mountain ash was no good. They weren’t safe after all.
“Wait,” Yasmin noticed a familiar figure entering the bunker, “Brett?”
“What the hell is going on?” he questioned, baffled.
“You’re a werewolf?” Sammi clarified, for at least the fourth time. Jono wasn’t sure how to make it any clearer for her, short of spelling it out. Usually, he would have given her a demonstration of his glowing eyes, but whatever had happened meant he couldn’t even do that. His word had to be enough, especially while he focused on driving.
“Yes,” Jono simply replied, keeping his eyes focused on the road. They needed to get back to Dylan as soon as possible, because Sammi was still in danger.
“And you’re…,” she turned around to face Lily in the back of the car.
“Part-werewolf,” Lily completed the sentence.
“Shit,” Sammi was processing still, “I believe you. I’ve seen it before, but god, I had no idea you guys were involved.”
“Wait, you said that way too casually. You know about werewolves?” Jono jumped on this chance to explore her past, and hopefully, find out some more information about Uncle David.
“I never really got proper answers, but my dad kept moving town. I saw him one night, and his eyes were glowing bright red. He told me never to mention it again,” Sammi recalled, “That’s why I moved in with you. I’d had enough.”
“He’s an alpha,” Jono explained.
“Like Dylan?” Sammi connected the dots.
“Yeah, but Dylan’s a bit different. Dylan’s a hero. Not just my hero, but everyone’s,” Jono wasn’t hesitant to sing Dylan’s praises, though he was being careful not to insult Sammi’s dad. Sammi didn’t reply. It was a lot to process, but at least all three of them had finally been honest with each other.
Suddenly, Jono swerved. The road into town was blocked by an army. The scientists’ makeshift army. Six of them acted like a barricade, blocking their way.
“Everyone okay?” Jono checked as the car ground to a halt. Both Sammi and Lily replied affirmatively. The car hadn’t crashed, but they were surrounded. All doors were blocked.
Jono’s phone beeped. New text from Dylan. ‘Meet at treehouse urgently.’
“We need to get out of here. Now,” Jono directed.
“I’ve got an idea,” Sammi suggested, “They’re stupid. They might still think I’m the Anpao.”
“If it fails, we die,” Lily wasn’t convinced.
“I don’t think we’ve got any better suggestions,” Jono was keen to try. If they didn’t act, his car wasn’t going to last.
“I’ll go first. Follow me,” Sammi thought bravely, and on her feet. She stepped out of the car first, and sure enough, the creatures calmed themselves down. They recognised and respected her. The plan worked. Jono and Lily slid out after. Jono’s heart had never pumped faster; it was as if it were dancing a samba. The creatures examined him as he walked by, but they weren’t attacking. Jono could hardly even look at their grotesque faces, with body parts chopped off and others stitched on in their place. It was horrible.
Once out of the group, they ran. They could retrieve the car later. They needed to get to Dylan.
Breathing in a sigh of relief as he sat safely inside the treehouse, Dylan needed a change of plan. It was too late to stop the scientists, so their new mission was to reverse the damage.
There was one gigantic problem though: he didn’t know how to fix this. Normally there was some sort of logical exit route, but Dylan genuinely couldn’t spot one. How could he reprogram the Nemeton? It felt ludicrous to even think he could put things back to normal.
One thought did cross Dylan’s mind. Perhaps this wasn’t such a bad thing? Perhaps the end of everything supernatural meant a return to normality? He couldn’t deny how much simpler his life would become.
Deep down, Dylan knew it wasn’t so simple. The way the Nemeton reacted was violent, as if the balance of the world had been upset. It would have been selfish and naïve to leave things the way they were, especially seeing Josh so battle worn. He should have healed, but instead, he was in agony.
“Here,” Dylan passed him a cushion to rest against.
“I’m okay, I promise,” Josh insisted. Dylan knew better, though. He didn’t need to be able to hear Josh’s heartbeat to suss out his lies.
“What happened?” Dylan queried, “Where are Yasmin and Freddie?”
“I was the decoy. They got out while I fought,” Josh explained. He had a large gaping wound on his chest that was still worryingly dripping blood.
“We can’t waste any time,” Drew interrupted, “He needs to be able to heal.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Dylan stressed. He didn’t need people piling on top of him – the urgency of the situation was blindingly obvious.
“Hey, Dylan, it’s okay,” Allyn spoke gently, “But we do need to start thinking now.”
Dylan knew she was right. They couldn’t waste any more time. What could they do between them?
Climbing up the treehouse steps, Freddie could already hear the chitter-chatter of voices. However, it was a strange sensation, not being able to hear more clearly. He should have been able to make out every word they were saying at such close proximity. Whatever had happened, he was keen to find answers.
As he reached the top, Freddie was met by a couple of surprises. They were the last to arrive back to the group, though they had been mostly without phone signal for a while. Sat amongst the group was Sammi. She looked okay and unscathed, if a little tired. Any evidence of the Anpao being there seemed to have gone. Furthermore, in the corner sat a battle-worn Josh, scarred and cut, but alive. Freddie felt a wave of joy filling his body.
“Hey,” he smiled, glancing in particular at both of them. Brett followed him in, with Yasmin bringing up the rear. Her face lit up the minute she met eyes with Josh. She didn’t say a word, but instantly went to lock lips with him.
“Ouch,” he remarked.
“I’m sorry,” Yasmin backed off, sitting next to him, “I’m so glad you’re okay.”
Freddie approached Sammi. He wasn’t sure what to say, but he wanted to see her properly.
“Long time no see,” he awkwardly greeted, saying goodbye to any hope of keeping his cool.
“I’ve missed you,” Sammi blushed. She looked so cute, even then.
“Same,” Freddie grinned, feeling warm and fuzzy in his stomach, “Are you okay now? Are you safe?”
“That’s where we need you,” Dylan broke up their reunion, “The scientists somehow reprogrammed the Nemeton to cancel out supernaturals. You know the software, right?”
“Not really, but I figured it out before, I can do it again,” Freddie warily agreed.
“Not to add pressure, but you’re our best shot,” Dylan added. Freddie opened up the laptop, ready to give the software another shot. He had to be able to figure it out.
“Those creatures,” Brett informed, “They’re in the streets.”
“They’re the grunts. They’re not going to kill us, but they might do some damage,” Drew replied, “Josh found that out first hand."
“Wait,” Freddie interrupted, pondering aloud, “You were modified by them, Sammi, like the army. Why have you shifted back now when those things haven’t?”
“I don’t know,” Sammi worriedly replied. Freddie suddenly felt sceptical. If he switched things back to normal, Sammi would be at risk of the Anpao taking over once again. If he didn’t, Josh could die. This was a horrible dilemma, and Freddie didn’t know what to do.
Whether they had a workable solution or not, Dylan wasn’t yet sure. Freddie had been typing away at the laptop, but even he seemed unsure of whether they could actually stop this or not. Either way, they had to try.
Being back at the Nemeton felt unsettling, and the branches were shaking even more vigorously. It was upset, and it was Dylan’s job to put things right.
However, he wasn’t stupid. He knew that Freddie was in between a rock and a hard place. Save the day and save Josh’s life, or keep things as they are to stop the Anpao reclaiming Sammi. Both sides posed huge risks, and Dylan wasn’t sure what Freddie would ultimately decide. The code he had written didn’t have to be used. Dylan’s job as alpha was to be prepared for either outcome.
On the bright side, they were one button press from potentially saving the world. All they had to do was transmit one signal in the same way the scientists transmitted and created fear. Everything should then return to normal, or so Dylan hoped.
“Where did they go?” Dylan thought aloud, noting the delightfully empty clearing surrounding the Nemeton.
“Their work is done, they’ve made a run for it,” Drew theorised.
Dylan walked with a visibly nervous Freddie towards the enormous trunk. He was shaking, and looked like he was one small prod away from collapsing into a heap. However, the laptop was ready. It was crunch time for Freddie.
“I know this is hard,” Dylan reassured, “But remember, we’re doing the right thing. We can still help her.”
“Right thing? How is there any sort of right thing?” Freddie looked to be on the verge of tears.
“You know what it is already, in your heart,” Dylan reassured. Freddie focused. He glanced at the screen for a few moments, but they felt dragged for Dylan. He was just as nervous as Freddie. He was praying their idea would actually work.
Freddie slammed his finger down on the enter key. The signal transmitted. Instantly, the Nemeton began to quieten down. The rustling stopped, and Dylan could feel the wolf inside him waking up. He was the alpha again – for better or worse.
“No!” Freddie cried out.
Dylan spun round. Sammi had Lily in a tight headlock. Her eyes were back to their old red colour. The Anpao was back already.
“Don’t think about it,” she warned Yasmin, who looked ready to pounce. They all knew Yasmin was the only one with a chance of fighting the Anpao, “You were all helpful, as were the scientists. You all accelerated the process, but this was always going to happen. Sammi was always my vessel.”
“She’s a kid,” Dylan begged, arm around an emotional Freddie to keep him calm. This was where he had to step up, and prove he was the alpha that his pack needed.
“Just you. You’re the only one I talk to,” the Anpao demanded.
Dylan nodded to the group. He could hold his own, and he wasn’t going to let Lily be hurt. The rest of the pack filtered out, leaving Dylan standing strong in front of the Anpao. Dylan was more determined to win than ever.
Jono’s emotions were skyrocketing off the charts. His cousin, possessed by some creature of darkness, was one wrong move away from killing his sister and his boyfriend. He felt uneasy, and he had to think of a way out. The rest of them regrouped just outside the clearing.
“What the hell can we do?” he paced, thinking aloud, “We won’t get anywhere near her again.”
“We’re dead,” Freddie looked blankly ahead, avoiding eye contact with everyone.
“No, we’re not,” Drew firmly reminded, “It’s not over until it’s over. Dylan’s the best at optimism, why are you all giving up on him?”
“You say that like you’re not one us,” Yasmin pointed out.
“I’m different. What I’ve seen,” Drew began to explain.
“Can we discuss this later?” Jono interrupted. There was no time to argue.
“Hey,” Brett pointed into the bushes. There they were – the scientists. Watching them, as if it were the latest episode of a highlight anticipated television show.
“Get ‘em,” Jono commanded, sprinting over. He couldn’t let them get away. He pounced onto one, digging his claws into their clothes so they couldn’t crawl away. Instantly, Jono removed their mask. Underneath was the face of a terrified human male, who must have been in his thirties.
“Help us,” Jono commanded, Freddie, Josh and Yasmin stood behind him while Drew and the others ran after the female scientist.
“You’re dangerous. She will wipe you out, and good riddance,” the man spoke. He had so much hate in his aggressive tone.
“You think she’ll stop with us? The Anpao dances with darkness, she will kill you too,” Yasmin reasoned.
“Worth it,” he simply spewed.
“Look, when you examined me,” Josh interjected, “What did you find? You didn’t chop off my nose. You tried to understand my mind, right? What did you see?”
“Death,” he replied.
“What about family? Friendship? Strength? Love?” Josh reasoned, “I had none of these things. I now have them all. You may want rid of supernaturals because they scare you, or because they don’t fit your scientific view of the world, but there’s one of them facing her now, all alone.”
“I saw a werewolf kill my parents,” he interrupted, “You’re dangerous.”
“No, the werewolf you saw was dangerous. The one out there is the exact opposite. He stands up for what is right, and protects everybody else without ever asking for thanks,” Josh continued, debating expertly, “His name is Dylan Drummond, and he’s my brother.”
Jono was impressed. Josh’s words amazingly seemed to be making him reconsider.
“Open the laptop. Now,” the scientist instructed. They still had a shot.
Dylan didn’t know what to do. He had so many questions to ask, but time was of the essence. He could see the Anpao’s grip on Lily, and it terrified him to see her expression. She was family, and family mattered. More than anything.
“What do you want?” Dylan demanded. Perhaps there was still room to bargain?
“Darkness. Death is the darkest occurrence in your world, and your kind are so easy to kill,” the Anpao reasoned, with a disgusting, evil smirk, “Even you, an alpha, the most powerful of all. As close to a true alpha as you could get.”
“Take me, then, but this has to stop. Lily, Sammi, my friends, and everyone. It all stops if you take me,” Dylan dealt. This was the final straw. This was him stepping up.
The Anpao laughed. A sinister, deathly laugh, like it was mocking Dylan.
“Fine, take me first, then target everyone else, but they won’t go down without a fight,” Dylan insisted, keeping his cool. He wasn’t letting the Anpao see any weakness, “You’re only doing the scientists’ bidding anyway. They brought you out in Sammi to keep us at bay. You’re a lapdog.”
The Nemeton roared again, the ferocity of the swishing branches accelerated. Something had changed again.
Lily slumped to the floor; the grip loosened. The Anpao simply stood still, as if it were frozen. Lily swiftly got up and ran to Dylan, looking just as bewildered as he did. Then he spotted Freddie with the laptop, hiding just out of view. He had undone the signal once again, but this felt different. Dylan’s inner wolf felt unaffected.
“Go, Yasmin,” Freddie yelled. Yasmin sprinted over to Sammi and took her hand. Immediately, a dark smoke lifted from her skin. The Anpao was leaving. It had more darkness in Yasmin’s nix powers than it could ever wish for.
The Nemeton sucked it up like a hoover, the branches once again resuming normal service. The threat was gone.
“Are you okay?” Dylan checked with Lily. She looked terrified.
“Yeah,” she replied, raising a slight smile, “What was that?”
“Freddie fine-tuned the signal. It affected the Anpao only this time,” Yasmin responded, hugging an inconsolable Sammi. Dylan looked over to Freddie and raised a proud smile. He saved everybody’s lives, including Sammi’s. They had succeeded.
Returning to school the next morning was such an unsettling feeling for Freddie. The adjustment back to normal life, around people who genuinely had no idea about what had been going on under their noses, just felt insane. He had saved their lives, and nobody would ever know.
On the bright side, he wasn’t alone in such a position. He had the best friends he could have asked for – friends he never would’ve had without Josh biting him, and Dylan taking him into his pack. With everything they had been through together, they were the people who made him feel accepted and worthy.
Arriving at the bench, Freddie sat next to Sammi, immediately placing a peck on her cheek and intertwining his hand with hers. The girl he had really began to like was safe, and his worries were over. The relief was second to none.
The general mood at the table was surprisingly positive for that time in the morning. Yasmin still had her textbooks out, of course – there was never an excuse to pause her studies. George and Lily were linking arms next to her on the opposite side of the table, both with uncontrollably wide grins on their faces.
“Get a room, you two,” Freddie jested.
“I got my college acceptance, I’m going to Washington,” Lily exclaimed.
“Hey, congratulations,” Freddie beamed. It scared him to think he would be in a similar spot in a year’s time. What would become of everything werewolf related by the time they went to college? That was a worry for another day, though. This was Lily’s moment, “Have you told Jono?”
“I texted him earlier, he stayed at Dylan’s last night,” she replied.
“Josh is probably slowing them down,” Yasmin chuckled. It was shocking to believe it wasn’t even twenty-four hours prior that they thought Josh was dead, and now they were back to their usual banter like nothing happened. Everything they did had become so normalised, but Freddie never took anything for granted.
After all, he hadn’t let go of Sammi’s hand, and he never wanted to again.
For the first morning in a while, Dylan woke up feeling optimistic. He didn’t have the weight of the world on his shoulders for a change, and everything was just the way it should be. School was back to being his top priority and he felt surprisingly motivated – hearing Lily’s good news had reminded him of just how close college really was for him now.
Waking up next to a much calmer Jono was bliss, too. They could finally focus on each other again, without the panic of Sammi, or the scientists, or anything remotely supernatural. No matter what they really were, it was important to ensure they always remained human at heart.
The return to tranquillity made Dylan appreciate the little things in life. The gentle sunlight on his walk to school. The goodbye kiss from Caroline on his way out. The banter he had with Josh every day. The soft touch of Jono’s hand enclosed in his, and the calming sensation of their lips colliding while Dylan’s hands ruffled through Jono’s beautiful mop of curls. He would never take any of his favourite things for granted ever again.
Dylan, Jono and Josh arrived at the school gate at precisely eight o’clock, just as they always did, but Dylan felt unusually motivated. The events at the Nemeton proved that he could conquer anything with the help of his friends, so it was time to conquer school. No excuses.
“Hey,” Dylan smiled at Drew on the way in. Unusually, he was lingering around the gate, as if he didn’t want to come inside.
“You look relaxed,” Drew commented.
“You don’t, no offence,” Dylan replied playfully.
“One of them escaped. We spent all night looking for her. Allyn, Monty, Noah, Kamilah, and me,” Drew explained. He wasn’t feeling the same optimistic vibe.
“Ed’s on the lookout, he’s got the other scientist in custody. They’re human, they committed murder, it’s his area,” Dylan explained.
“Except we’re still at risk. We spent all night cleaning up their mess, rounding up the army. They’re all dead already, Dylan. Fifteen innocent people dead, because those monsters wanted to target us. I can’t let that lie,” Drew justified.
“So you’re going with them to find her,” Dylan realised, feeling a little disheartened. Drew was a vital part of the pack, and Dylan didn’t want it to change.
“This is what I need to do,” Drew justified, “It gives me purpose, and it gets me away from the ghosts that haunt me in Crystalshaw. Besides, I’m only a phone call away. I need you to remember, though, to stay vigilant.”
“Always,” Dylan immediately replied.
“More than usual. The alpha is coming, and you’ve not met him before, but his daughter is in your pack now. There’s no way he’s going to let that lie,” Drew warned.
“Noted,” Dylan nodded. He was a little worried about Jono’s uncle, but he kept telling himself it wasn’t a worry for today. They could cross that bridge when they came to it, “Thank you. For everything.”
“I don’t do soppy,” Drew bluntly responded, “But the bunker’s yours now. Oh, and Dylan, no matter what, you’ll always be my alpha.” He raised as much of a smile as Drew ever did. Dylan felt mixed emotions – it was going to leave a gaping hole in his pack, but this was what Drew did best. Saving the world.
“Go get ‘em,” Dylan encouraged, feeling a little emotional. He still had Jono’s hand wrapped around his. They still had each other, and even though Drew wasn’t going to be around, he was still fighting the good fight, with the one he loved. For all their differences, he and Drew weren’t such drastic opposites after all.
As Drew walked away, Dylan, Jono and Josh arrived at the bench. Josh shared a welcoming kiss with Yasmin. Unusually, everyone on the table was coupled up. Dylan glanced at Jono – he still adored him just as much as the very first day they met. He never would have guessed all that they would go through, and everything that would become of them.
He was the luckiest kid in the world.