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             She thought herself lucky.  Even though her adviser droned on and on and on, she regarded him as the most capable attaché she had ever had, but there were times when she wanted to pick up a chair and bust it across his teeth.  Mind you, if she did that, she would have to break in a new attaché, and that was much, much worse.
            “Has the regional council made a decision yet?”  She interrupted his droning’s.
            He readjusted his glasses as he spoke.  “No.  I believe it will be at least a month before they agree on a resolution.”
            She looked out at the sunny afternoon without.  She would go for a swim later she decided.  It was warm enough, and the water would still be cold.  She hated swimming in warm water.  You were supposed to cringe when you first entered the water.  It was a way to remind one of one’s insignificance next to something as immense as the ocean.  She just hoped she wouldn’t run into another shark.  She turned her attention back to her attaché as he recited profit and loss figures, annual expenditure, harvest yields, product sales and other things that were important to her. 
            “What has happened with the summer residence?”  She asked.
            He readjusted his glasses yet again as he replied.  She found the nervous habit annoying and distracting.  “The lower three fields have been sown; the new agricultural laboratory is installed and operational; our dairy facilities have been expanded to accommodate the new cheese production house; lamb yield was fifty percent higher than expected; and, the village has been extended to accommodate the ever increasing employment force.”
            She breathed in deeply.  The next question was certain to make him drop his glasses altogether.  “And how many more death threats have I received.”
            Surprising her, he put the documents in his lap to one side and looked at her squarely.  “Three in the last month.”  His tone was rock steady.
            She rose and, over his objection, strode to the window.  She was tired of hiding.  “Is there progress in the investigation?”  She asked quietly.
            From behind she heard him sigh with resignation.  “I’m afraid not.”
            She turned back to face him.  “Please request that they redouble their efforts, I would prefer not to leave The Pack leaderless.”
            He rose and bowed deeply.  “As you wish, Baroness.”
            She nodded in deference to his respect.  He was a droning, boring bag of hot air, but his devotion to her and his duties had been above reproach for the last two centuries.  She was grateful for him and the sense of continuity he projected.  In those rare times she was honest with herself, she was actually quite fond of the man.  She motioned for the two of them to walk.  It was lunchtime and she was starving.  They had just stepped out of the parlour and into the hall when a gun-shot rang out.  From beside her she heard a short sharp crack and saw her attaché fall to the floor, blood flowing from a wound to his knee.  The cracking had probably been the bullet breaking the poor man’s knee cap.
            She looked back to see a figure dressed entirely in black with a balaclava over his head.  For a moment she was amused at the absurdity of his dress given it was inner city Melbourne, Australia in the twenty-first century and not Moscow, Russia during the Cold War.  He fired at her but she was prepared.  She easily evaded the bullet and sprinted forward to knock the gun out of his hand.  What she was not prepared for was the strength with which he returned the blows she was raining down on him.  This was no average assassin; this was one of their allies’ kind.  With that, she flashed into her Human/Lycan hybrid form and called on all her speed and strength. 
            She extended her claws and raked them across her attackers’ chest, drawing first blood.  He screamed and vaulted over her and ran on through the house.  She followed him, startled servants and Embassy staff quickly running out of the way of the pursuit.  One thing she realised was that he was a professional.  He was beginning the turn into corners even before he had got to them.  He was clearly familiar with the Embassy’s floor plan.  She didn’t care; she dug the claws of her feet into the carpet and pushed off with a huge burst of strength.  She leapt up and came down on the back of her quarry and the two went crashing to the floor.  He kicked her off and valiantly attempted to get back up, but she was just too fast, as all of her kind was.
            She leapt onto his chest and tore the balaclava from his face.  She was not familiar with him, but that didn’t matter.  She wanted information, not a reunion.  With her weight on him, and his arms pinned to the floor by her feet, she leant forward.  He looked up into her face, which was a mix of human and wolf.  Her teeth were longer and her incisors were three inch fangs that could rip out a man’s throat with little effort.  Her ears, normally somewhat pointed, were now extended by about four inches.  Her eyebrows were now much fuller and her jaw line was much sharper and somewhat distended.  Sharp, silver eyes dared him to break her gaze.  For anyone it would be a sight of horror, but her quarry appeared not to be scared easily.  Even now, futile as it was, he tried to break free.
            She casually slapped him across the face.  It got his attention.
            “Stop moving around.  You know you can’t shift me.”  She informed him almost nonchalantly.  “You will tell me why am I being targeted and by whom?”
            He spat at her, his own elongated incisors making that a somewhat messy task.  She backhanded him across the face, this time drawing blood. 
            “That will get you nowhere even faster.”  She drawled.  “Who?”
            His struggles ceased and his breathing began to slow.  He stared at her with undisguised loathing.  “The Red Council.”
            She rolled her eyes and backhanded him even harder the third time.  His eyes momentarily glazed over with the pain.  She was many times stronger than him.
            “What are they?”  She asked quietly.
            He replied through a slight slur.  “The Red Council has tired of its association with the mongrels of history.  They will kill you, and then The Pack.”
            As he finished, two of her most trusted security staff entered the room.  She motioned for them to take him away.  “Interrogate him, thoroughly.”  She instructed.
            As they left, she shifted back to her human form.  She would need to call a meeting.  Thankfully, she did it so rarely that she was always obeyed when she did.  Just because one had influence did not mean one was permitted to abuse it.   
          Not even Karolinya, the Baroness Holfensteim; Marquise of Tolseichner; Viscomtess of Laschavia, and Regent-Hereditary of Wallachia.

The above excerpt is from a work written by Damien Timms and is protected by International Copyright lodged in Australia and the USA and may not be reproduced in part or whole without the written permission of the author.
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