Mortals do not know how truly lucky they are, with their petty worries and limited life spans. They fight their senseless battles, but they have no concept of what battles truly are.

The same cannot be said for myself and the rag-tag band of misfits that makes up the refuge. All but a select few of us are a result of cross-breeding, and therefore outcasts, myself included.

But let me introduce myself, I am Aylrin, and I am a wereva. My mother was a vampire and my father was a werewolf, and I wound up with characteristics from both of them.

The only good thing I can truly say is that due to my father’s werewolf genes I can go out in daylight, as long as I wear plenty of sunscreen and a large brimmed hat, and make sure I don’t stay in direct sunlight for too long.

But oh man, I hate full moons, for then I get double whammied with both blood lust and hunger for flesh. It is the only time of the month when I actually eat.

And I might add that I am the alpha female of the four other werewolf crossbreeds and also sub leader of the refuge, with Hathim being the supreme leader. He is half vamp and half were-tiger, and very definitely IS NOT someone you want to get on the bad side of. He is also my boyfriend.

And man, he has been in a truly foul mood lately, for he just discovered that there is a traitor in our group, though he hasn’t yet figured out who it is. But I have my suspicions. Whoever it is has helped the humans to find our camps twice.

And that means that if the traitor is in cahoots with humans, it has to be one of the five in the refuge who has fully human characteristics.

Hmmm, I wonder if I should make Hathim aware of that rather telling little fact. I think I will do just that!

I should have known that my sweetie would have already figured that little angle out and had already taken steps to have some of those he trusted most watching the ones in question. It will be only a matter of time before the culprit slips up and when they do, there will be no trial…they will be executed on the spot.

But as I said, mortals truly do not know how good they have it. When they fight their small little battles based on grudges or differences of opinion, the battles, if they are between rivals, often end when there are no more disgruntled victims on one side or the other left to fight, even if those battles last for years or generations.

For myself and those at the refuge, grudges hold a far different meaning, and bear a far greater toll on the combatants, for the battles do not merely last years, they lasted for centuries.

And Hathim, I fear, made a mortal…or rather, in our case, immortal…enemy when he killed the son of the head high vamp.

Pure-blood vamps only bear young once a century, and Hathim had not only killed the head high vamp, Karith’s, son, he had also killed his mate when she went rogue afterwards.

And since vamps mate for life, Karith would be having no more young, therefore no heirs. Vamp males are sterile with any but their life-mates.

So you might say that Karith had a real hate on for Hathim…and by association, all of the rest of us for siding with him.

And Karith has vowed to destroy every single one of us.

And as if having the head high vamp after us isn’t bad enough, we are at war with all of the pure-bloods! They slaughter us every chance they get.

But it is as a result of something other than Karith’s hatred for Hathim that has set us at war with the pure-bloods…we had declared independence from the entire supernatural community of pure-bloods…very loudly and very aggressively over three centuries ago…but nobody listened then, or now, to a single thing we had or have, to say. The pure-blood’s simply do not consider us as even worthy of sharing the same air they do.

But war was the least of our problems right now, though, for the humans have devised a formula that is lethal to all supernatural creatures if they have even a trace of mixed blood…especially vamp blood, for the formula contains both silver and garlic.The hunters use dart guns similar to the ones used to tranquilize animals, which, when you come right down to it, is about how the pure-bloods view us, if they even “honor” us with that much of a distinction.

The same humans have also developed a bullet that explodes only once inside a body, and which is loaded with a mixture of powdered silver, pure powdered garlic, holy water and finely powdered wood.

We recently captured a hunter that had been loaded down with the darts and tortured him into telling us where the formula was being created. It goes without saying he did not survive the interrogation. So we have developed a plan to raid the place and destroy both it and any of the formula that we can find.

Three of those at the refuge are scientists and they have literally been working day and night, in shifts based on their kind, analyzing that formula and trying to find an antidote.

Any mixed blood supernatural creature that is shot with the darts dies in great agony as they are literally eaten away from the inside out by the silver and garlic.

And their deaths can take days or even weeks, depending on the type of creature. We have to not only find an antidote, we have to find the main supplier and take them out totally.

So as the sun sets this night, the curtain rises on the activation on our plan to accomplish both of those goals

Once we reach the place, we spread out and began to infiltrate the grounds, moving like shadows. Those who have shape altering capabilities utilize them, myself and Hathim amongst them.

We first take on the form of bats to fly over the gate and take out the guards in the gatehouse and open the electronic gate for the others, who immediately enter and head straight for what appears to be the main building.

Hathim and I take on our mist forms to infiltrate the huge circular shaped fans that sat high up on the walls of what appears to be a factory of some sort, and which sets off a little ways from the main building.

The sounds of screams from the interior guards in the main building can be heard even as we make our way into the factory appearing building. Somehow I don’t think those guards health plan covered a run in with us.

But then again, they won’t be alive to reap the benefits of said health plan anyway, I think with grim satisfaction.

Hathim and I float high up near the ceiling as we make our way through the building and what we see horrifies us. This is indeed a factory…or to be more precise, a torture chamber for those of our kind.

We find what is left of five that had gone missing over various parts of the last eighty years and their condition shocks Hathim and I both so badly we nearly lose control of our mist shapes.

All five are so far gone that there is no hope of rescuing them, not that we could anyway, for they are locked in cages with silver coated bars and had electrified fencing around their cages. Heartbroken, but accepting the brutal truth, we are forced to move on.

We do not get very far past where the captives were being kept when Hathim psychically spots the first human we have seen since entering the building, and even more important was what the human is holding…

A sealed container that shows the same sickeningly greenish-yellow appearance as the formula. We mentally converse for a few seconds and decide to follow the human.

When the human enters an elevator, we seep in just before the doors fully closed, then hug the ceiling and just hope the human will not look up, as we can be seen in our mist forms if we are as tightly compressed as we are right now.

The elevator seems to descend forever and then it stops. The human activates the door and exits, but the door does not close this time, so we sift out and up to the high ceiling of an underground cavern filled with huge vats of what appears to be the formula, and a bunch of machines.

Hathim and I are in constant mental communication with the others and we share what we are seeing with them through that mental link. They are equally as horrified as we are at the sheer amount of that lethal, at least for our kind, liquid there is.

They also inform us that they are on their way, as they have “mopped up” what few humans had been in the main building, and were just finishing up in the factory type one. We give them directions on how to get to our location, then began to float side by side above the vast underground area.

We have been maintaining our awareness of the movements of the human with the container of what appears to be the formula and now watch as he enters a closed in secured area that he has to use a code to access.

Hathim and I simply use the air vents above the door and are soon floating against the ceiling and what we see has us both very nearly going solid and taking out all five of the ones in that enclosed area, for they have three supernaturals strapped to tables with what appeared to be silver coated restraints…

And one of them to our shock is Karith.

I send a somewhat sarcastic aside to Hathim that this appears to be why things had been so quiet on his front for the past three months. Hathim’s response is not one that I can repeat, but suffice it to say he is clearly of two minds as to whether to leave his accursed nemesis right where he is.

We both know that Karith would have in a heartbeat if the situations had been reversed, but my sweetie, bless his little tigerish hide, has some chivalry and sense of compassion in him despite the…pardon the pun…”bad blood” between himself and Karith.

So there is no way he is going to leave Karith there if there is even the remotes chance of freeing him.

Hathim immediately lets Karith know that we are here. Karith has never been stupid, so he does not let on that he is aware of what is going on around him.

He sends back a mental message full of very bitterly ironic acceptance that it just had to be we who would be the ones who not only found him in that position, but that might end up, if all went well, rescuing him.

To say that he does not seemed overly pleased that we are the ones to find him in this predicament would be an understatement.

Hathim sends word to the others to hurry, as time is growing short. The activity in the room has suddenly increased and we discover why short moments later as three of the five in the room, one of them the human male with the container of the formula, comes to stand beside the table farthest from Karith.

What seems to be the leader takes a syringe and dips it into a vial of liquid which is just a little darker than that which the one whom we had followed was just setting down on a cart near the restraining table. The one with the needle finishes drawing the darker liquid up into the syringe, then he holds it up and thumps it a couple of times, after which he lays it on the little table.

Then he picks up a second syringe and repeats the process, but this time from the paler liquid, which, once he has drawn what he evidently wanted, he holds it up, thumps it, then lays that syringe beside the other one.

The one who filled the syringes then gives a nod to the other two, who then proceed to grab the captive while the first one administers the darker of the two syringes.

The results of that action becomes apparent less than five minutes later as the captives body begins to writhe and convulse and she begins to scream in agony.

The one who administered the dose has begun writing on a clipboard he picked up off of the cart as soon as he laid the now empty syringe down. He continues taking notes while the captive screams till all that is heard is a faint hoarse gurgling. It is all that Hathim and I can do to not just go down and tear those beasts to shreds.

The one who seems to be in charge picks up the second syringe and administers it, then simply stands, syringe in hand, as the other two continue to try to restrain the captive.

The results of that second injection are apparent within less time than it had taken the other one to affect the captive…

Results which send Hathim and I both into shock, for the captive nearly immediately goes still and begins breathing normally. The lungs are one of the first things affected by the formula.

If appearances can be believed, it is as if the captive never received the formula at all.

Over the next thirty minutes, while we wait for word from the others that they are on their way down via another elevator that opens in another part of the outer chamber, those sadistic animals administer the two fluids at least five more times, and always with the same results.

Finally the head human pitched the canister holding the paler liquid, which still retained a small amount in it, in a nearby trash can.

And Hathim and I both now know what that second, paler liquid is…

An antidote.

Oh, the humans haven’t created the antidote to save our kind, they are using it to keep their captives alive so they can experiment on them.

And Hathim and I both know one simple crystal clear fact…we have to get that antidote and take it back to the refuge for our scientists to begin breaking it down.

If all goes well, we might be able to reproduce enough to heal the ones who had been shot by the hunter we had captured and who had told us of this place.

Out of the seventeen that had been shot by the hunter and the four that had been with him, all of which, save for the one we had interrogated, had been killed on the spot, only eleven still hung on by an increasingly slender thread, their agony barely made bearable by our healers.

In truth, they are kept sedated most of the time to save us hearing their tortured screams and to give them some peace.

All at once something about one of the figures holding down the captive catches my attention, something about the way they held themselves and moved, the tilt of the head. All three are wearing surgical masks and have their heads covered by some sort of hood, which is attached to the garments they are wearing.

I bring that one figure to my sweetie’s attention and it does not take him long to let out a long string of words even I hadn’t been aware could be used to express fury and disgust.

And those words are all attached to one name…Zamisha. The were-raven was rare in the refuge, for she is a pure-blood. She had been found wandering, half starved and dehydrated, in a desert in New Mexico. Her story had been that her entire nest clan had been wiped out by humans and she had been the only survivor.

And she is one of the very few amongst those at the refuge who do not show traces of their true nature, but rather appear to be fully human. Of the other four, three are were-dragons and one is a were-cobra in their supernatural forms, all pure-bloods, but outcasts because of their natures and kinds.

And all five are the ones that Hathim suspected of treason…and it appears that he has been right in those suspicions.

I mention to him that I wonder how many of those captives we had seen in the cages on the upper level had been captured as a result of her. Once more his reply would curdle water.

His last words just before word comes that the others are in position are “She is my kill…and I will tear apart any who get in my way, friend or foe.”

From his tone I know he is not joking.

Moments later he gives the signal as he and I both go solid behind the huge changing screen that sits in one corner of the room. Hathim mentally picked the mind of the one who had opened the door for the code, then sends it to one of the team outside the room.

Mere seconds later all holy hell breaks loose as the door flings open and about nine were-beasts, all in true form, burst into the room with howls, screeches, roars and growls.

The humans don’t stand a chance and the encounter is over moments later.

The moment that the others burst through the door I went hyper speed and grabbed the closed container that held the antidote from the trash can and placed it behind a bank of large old fashioned computers along the back wall of the room.

It is a good thing I did, for the trash can got dumped and kicked around in the resulting chaos and we would have lost the antidote if I hadn’t moved it.

As for Zamisha, she lives only long enough for Hathim to rip her mask away, taking part of her jaw with it, so that he can verify her identity, before he literally tears her to pieces.

Once it is all over, Hathim searches what is left of the main scientist’s lab coat and get’s the remote control that releases the shackles holding the three captives. Four of those who had burst into the room begin helping the two weakest ones to their feet, then stand supporting them, waiting for Hathim and I.

As for Karith, he sits up the moment the restraints are removed and now simply sits there gazing at Hathim and I with a slightly wry smile half curling his lips. He shakes his head and then simply says six words…”Debt paid, the feud is ended.” Then, after touching two fingers to his head in a mocking salute, he goes mist and heads for the elevator without another word, leaving Hathim and I simply standing there, staring after that mist in shock, unable to utter a single word.

Neither of us can believe what we just heard, but we both know that Karith, despite being an arrogant so-and-so, is a vamp of his word.

We look at each other for a few moments, then one of the other members mentions that it will be daybreak soon, and while I myself might be able to prance around in the daylight, there are those among those gathered here who cannot. So Hathim gives his okay for all of us to pull out.

Once we are clear of the building and far enough away that we have a chance of escaping once the bombs that the rest of the team had planted all over the two buildings and in the underground cavern go off, Hathim presses the button and the night is lit with a flare of light so bright that it is almost as if daylight has come early.

The explosion, despite our being so far away, is so huge that we feel the tremors even where we are standing. Satisfied that no one would ever be gaining access to that formula without very heavy earth moving equipment, I tuck the canister that holds that precious amount of the antidote in my backpack and we take off.

About two weeks after our destruction of the labs, we get a visit from Karith. He brought us, in writing, his guarantee and promise to never seek vengeance against Hathim again and furthermore tells us that if we ever need help, we can count on him.

He also tells us that he will be posting a proclamation to all vamps in the area that Hathim, myself and all at the refuge are officially off limits, and that any creature caught harming one of us will be put to death immediately.

Hmmm, if Karith keeps this up, I may…(GASP!!! GAG!!!!!) actually begin liking the guy! Man, what is this world coming to!

And as for the antidote, our scientists were able to duplicate it with no problem and soon those who had been afflicted by the formula were once more well.

Hathim and I helped in administering the antidote once it was ready, and as I sat on the edge of one of the recovering victim’s bed a rather odd thought passed through my mind…there was a human saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, and it suddenly occurred to me that that saying was all too true.

For if I had not rescued that container of antidote and brought it with us when we left the lab, those who were now on their way to recovery more than likely would have died. That scientist’s trash had truly proven to be a treasure for us.




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