Born For This – 2/2 – HarleyJQuin

Title: Born For This
Series: Werewolves of London
Author: HarleyJQuin
Fandom: Teen Wolf, NCIS
Genre: Crossover, Family, Paranormal/Supernatural, Shifters
Relationship(s): Derek Hale/Stiles Stilinski, Noah Stilinski/Chris Argent
Content Rating: R
Warnings: Hate Crimes/Hate Speech, Violence – Graphic, Mentions of past DubCon, Canon Typical Violence, Minor Character Death
Beta: Alpha: Dark_Nights_Syn, Beta: Annabeth_Crestfallen_LeMorte
Word Count: 66,200
Summary: The Hale Pack are finally returning home after six long years away. They know their return will be tumultuous, but they can’t wait to be reunited.
Artist: Bibbity88



Chapter Eleven

November 27th, 2016

Tony had returned to work with Gibbs after two weeks of medical leave, and he had done well with keeping his changes to himself. So far, he had only one near slip. He had been hiking through the woods with Ziva. They were after a suspect who was wanted for murder and child abduction. She had spent the entire hike needling and trying to provoke him. It was tempting to let the wolf out to shut her up.

Right now, though, he was putting all of his concentration into not letting his broken nose heal. A suspect had attacked his team when McGee had ignored instructions and tried to handcuff the Corporal before he was adequately subdued. Corporal Wurth had been an inpatient at a local psychiatric facility getting treatment for PTSD until he broke out to rescue a teammate who was receiving rehab at John Hopkins.

Tony looked up when he heard the elevator doors open, and he saw his cousin walk out. He snorted to himself when he heard his cousin exclaim, “How can anyone work in a place this orange.”

Derek approached his desk, and in a tone of innocence, he said, “Hi, we’re looking for Agent Gibbs. We were told by the guards at the front desk we could find him here.”

Tony stood and said, “He’s currently in a meeting with the director. Is it something I can help with? I’m his Senior Field Agent.”

Derek shook his head as the others from his team stood back and waited by the windows. “Sorry, Agent?”

“DiNozzo,” Tony confirmed. “Agent Tony DiNozzo.”

Derek looked down at his phone and confirmed the details. He said, “Agent Dinozzo, I understand Agent Gibbs is in charge of the case involving Corporal Wurth. We’ve been sent over to take over the case as it’s part of a larger investigation already underway.”

Tim stood and said, “I’ll go get the boss.”

Ziva, who was sporting a large bruise on her forehead, demanded, “So who are you? You didn’t introduce yourself.”

Derek looked at her with his trademark scowl and admitted, “You’re right, I didn’t.”

He could hear Stiles snickering behind him as they watched Agent Gibbs come down the stairs.

Gibbs approached, looking like he was full of fire and bluster. He assessed the group of agents, curious about what would bring the Talos Task Force to his bullpen. He asked, “Someone’s looking for me?”

Derek held his hand out with his business card and said, “I’m SSA Derek Hale from the FBI. We’ve been sent to pick up Corporal Wurth and any evidence relating to his case. This case is part of a wider investigation that’s already underway.”

Gibbs weighed up the options of his usual meeting room over a conference room. He knew if he went to the conference room, they would end up with the director and the dense duo following. He asked, “Is there any information you can share before I agree to hand it over?”

Derek nodded. “Yes, but only yourself and your SFA have the required security clearances.”

The director scoffed behind Gibbs. “I am sure I am also cleared to hear the details.”

Derek shook his head and said, “No, ma’am, you aren’t. I was told that only Agents Gibbs and DiNozzo have the clearance to hear the details, and that came direct from the SECDEF. Feel free to give him a call if you would like to dispute it. In the meantime, do you have a conference room we can use?”

Gibbs ignored Jenny seething behind him and said, “Follow me.” As he walked away, he turned his head slightly and barked, “DiNozzo!”

“On your six, Boss,” DiNozzo confirmed as he gathered the evidence from the desks of the two junior agents before they could protest. He followed the rest of the taskforce members who had been waiting quietly.

When they all entered the conference room, Stiles closed the door and placed his hand on the back, etching a rune on the door for privacy. As he joined the others at the conference table, he confirmed, “Any cameras and audio equipment in here will appear to fail until I remove the rune.”

Gibbs asked, “What’s going on? As far as I was aware, Corporal Wurth just escaped custody after a psychotic break, a break related to his PTSD.”

Derek hedged. “It’s not that simple. Yes, he’s likely had a psychotic break, and it may be related to his PTSD. But we think it’s more than likely due to the unsanctioned experiments that have been performed on him. Do you remember the investigation that we did into Eichen House?”

Gibbs nodded, “Creature experiments, right? You suspect the same thing here?”

Derek nodded. “We think they are trying to create a super-soldier. After watching the footage of his escape, which was edited before you got there, his eyes flashed gold. We suspect the company has captured an alpha, and they are using them to turn soldiers.”

Tony frowned, “You think he’s feral?”

Stiles shook his head. “Not feral exactly. We think he’s been drugged.”

Gibbs frowned. “The director was meeting with a witness, Karen Sutherland. She mentioned she has defense contracts looking into next-generation prosthetics and alternative therapies to treat psychological issues.”

Derek nodded, “We would like to put Corporal Wurth into protective custody while we are investigating. This seems to be a lot wider-reaching than the Eichen House experiments.”

Gibbs agreed, “It’s all yours. Someone will need to go down to Abby and Ducky to claim any evidence they have. I know blood was taken to see what drugs were in his system.

Derek ordered, “Jackson, Ethan, you two tackle Dr. Sciuto. Aiden, Adam, I want you two to visit Ducky. Peter, Dalton, I want you two to explain to Corporal Wurth what’s going on. We are going to claim the evidence from the bullpen and get the transfer paperwork signed off.”

Gibbs looked at Peter and said, “Follow me. I’ll show you to the interrogation rooms and make sure the cameras are off. Stiles, don’t forget to clear the rune.”

Stiles nodded and put his hand on the door to remove the rune before following Derek out into the bullpen.

Tony set them up on one of the TAD desks to get started on the paperwork for the chain of evidence handovers.

He called out from his desk, “Officer Paddington, do you have a moment?”

Tim frowned from his desk where he was gathering the files they had been given by the psychiatric unit and asked, “Why are you being so formal with your cousin?”

The two men whipped their heads around, and they both demanded in unison, “What did you say?”

Tim shrugged. “I just asked why you were being so formal when he’s your cousin.”

Stiles sent off a quick text to his uncle to let him know that Agent McGee was aware that his cousin is a Paddington.

Tony stated, “My relationship to the Paddington family has never been in the non-classified part of my personnel file, Timmy. Also, the few government records showing that relationship are locked down to a few key people. And none of those key people work at NCIS. So, McSnoopy, where have you been digging that you shouldn’t have been?”

As soon as he heard the question, Derek ducked into the stairwell and sent a 911 text to Gibbs so he would know to head to the bullpen asap, then he called Tom Morrow.

“Derek?” Tom wasn’t expecting a call from the laconic alpha. “Is everything ok?”

Derek huffed. “Not even close. Agent McGee appears to be aware that Tony is a Paddington. Information that I know was locked down above top secret by SECDEF before he even started at NCIS.

“Shit,” Tom exclaimed. “I’ll send through your team so they can do an audit on McGee’s computer. Do you want me to let SECDEF know?”

Derek considered it before he declined, “No, I’ll call him. He’s probably going to come down here after the conversations he’s been having with Lord Paddington lately. Thing’s aren’t right here.”

Tom sighed, “I’ll head in with your team, just in case you need the support. We won’t be long, not if your sister drives us.”

Derek laughed as he hung up. Cora had been taught to drive in a small town in South America, where everyday driving was like being in a war zone. It was usually due to luck if your car was dent free at the end of it.

He walked back into the bullpen, and the first thing he heard was Ziva and McGee yelling at Tony about special treatment. He could tell from what Ziva was saying that she also knew the information about Tony’s family. He noticed Gibbs and the remaining members of his team entering from the elevator.

He whistled loudly to get everyone’s attention. “Dalton, Adam, Ethan, Aiden, I want you four to take those two,” He pointed to Ziva and McGee. “To the interrogation rooms; separate rooms, and guard them until we hear back from SECDEF.”

He turned to Gibbs and murmured, “It would appear Agent McGee has been snooping in Tony’s personnel file, the secret one. He knew that Tony and Stiles were cousins. Tom is bringing the team so they can audit McGee’s computer, and Tom is coming as he has a feeling SECDEF will be pissed.”

Gibbs nodded. “He will be. Porter will see it as treason to a point. After all, there is a reason his info was locked down. Let’s go calm them down while we wait for Tom and your geeks.”

-x-

By the time Tom arrived with the rest of the team, the NCIS director was throwing a rather unbecoming fit; she was yelling at the FBI team about illegally locking her agents away.

“You have no right to hold my agents!” She commanded. “They did nothing wrong.”

Derek stood there impassively with his arms crossed and refused to engage with the redhead.

Tom asked, “What’s going on?”

Jenny scowled and said, “These agents have locked up Agent McGee and Officer David, and they are refusing to release them. All SSA Hale will tell me is that they are being held for questioning under suspicion of hacking and possible treason.”

Tom nodded. “That’s how I understand it. From what SSA Hale reported, they both had information that was locked down by SECDEF as above top secret.”

Jenny replied frostily, “They were following orders.”

Tom narrowed his eyes and asked, “So you’re saying you ordered them to dig into Agent DiNozzo’s classified background?”

“I am the director of this agency,” She said imperiously, “There is nothing about the agents who work for me that should be kept a secret.”

Tom narrowed his eyes and said, “That’s not actually for you to decide. SECDEF made the decision before Tony was hired that his personnel file would be locked down. I know I was told this was for his own safety but also for diplomatic reasons.”

Jenny shrugged, “I needed the information so I could decide if he was the best for an undercover mission I am planning.”

Tom shook his head in disappointment, and he sent off a text to the approaching SECDEF who was dragging the SECNAV with him to the NCIS office. He asked, “Who else was involved in the background check beyond Agent McGee and Officer David? And don’t think I have forgotten that you’ve authorized a foreign operative to have access to our agency personnel files.”

The director sneered and said, “Just Ms. Sciuto, the cybercrime division refused to look past the blocks.”

Tom sighed, “I have a warrant here to search Agent McGee and Officer David’s computers for any sign of the information breach. DiNozzo, if you could point out the relevant computers. It also includes any others suspected of being involved, so we’ll also be auditing the forensic computers. Someone needs to move Sciuto and Shepard to interrogation rooms. Do you have enough space?”

Gibbs nodded. “We do if we transfer Corporal Wurth to FBI custody.”

Derek spoke up. “Deputy Director Conway has sent in a team to pick him up. He also said he’s on his way in with a team to take over for myself and Officer Paddington.”

Jenny was seething as she was grabbed by two of the agents. She yelled, “You have no right to take me into custody. I’m the director of a federal agency!”

Tom shook his head at her behavior, “You breached the security on top-secret files for your own curiosity. You gave a foreign intelligence operative carte blanche to go digging in the personnel files of the agents you are supposed to protect. You exposed the personal information of a foreign agency deputy director, just to assuage your curiosity. You had to know there would be consequences.”

-x-

Sam wanted to bash his head on the table when the teams all got together to discuss the interrogations. Hetty Lange from the LA office had joined them, as SECDEF wanted someone he trusted to look after the agency. The President was taking his time choosing a new SECNAV. The investigation had uncovered a blackmail file on the former SECNAV, Philip Davonport. It was the only reason why he had promoted Jennifer Shepard to the director chair.

Hetty huffed and demanded, “Porter, what fresh hell have you dragged me into?”

James Porter laughed. “Honestly, Hetty, it’s a shitshow. So far, we have evidence of hacking into files classified above top secret. An agency director with terminal brain cancer using the agency to further a personal vendetta; a vendetta that would have blown up in her face considering the target is a CIA CI. In her infinite wisdom, she brought in a Mossad agent, who we discovered was sending classified files home to daddy dearest. And to top it off, she has probably lost us the two best agents within NCIS; because Dinozzo and Gibbs will likely be transferring to MI5.”

Hetty cursed viciously in a language not recognized by many at the table. She asked, “What are we doing about the breach by Mossad, and how much information did she get?”

Sam grinned. “Not as much as she was hoping. Tony had managed to restrict her access without it being obvious, so all she got access to were the missions that were already about to be declassified, so nothing that would harm American operatives. She still went looking, and she still sent classified information to a foreign agency, so she’s headed straight to Gitmo.”

She glanced at the list. “What’s being done about Agent McGee and Technician Sciuto?”

Sam rolled his eyes. “They both refuse to admit they were in the wrong. While they followed orders, it doesn’t give them the right to hack into a federal agency to get information clearly above their clearance levels. They should have followed the example set by the cyber crimes team and refused the order. They are both being charged with Obtaining National Security Information, and they are facing at least ten years each in Leavenworth.”

“And Shepard?” She demanded. “Do I need to worry about her trying to come back to work?”

Porter shook his head. “No, she’s being detained for trial for the same charges as McGee and Sciuto, as well as charges relating to the unsanctioned operation she was planning. It is unlikely to make it to trial as her brain tumor is aggressive. She is privy to far too many secrets to be allowed out on bail.”

Hetty asked, “Have Gibbs and DiNozzo been made aware of the results of the investigation?”

Sam shook his head, “No, nor have Officer Paddington or SSA Hale. Their team has been asked to keep it from them to prevent any possibility of a conflict of interest charge being levied. They are all currently on stand down while the investigation is ongoing.”

She nodded, “I want to see them and give them the details personally. I’ll be using the meeting to find out Gibbs and DiNozzo’s future plans. If they aren’t returning, I am going to call in Callen, Hanna, and Blye to build a new MCRT.”

Sam slid a piece of paper across the table, “This is where they are all staying right now.”

She stood, “I’ll head there now, is there anyone you trust to be my escort?”

Porter thought about the various agents he’d gotten to know over the investigation. He suggested, “Take Balboa; he’s the current lead for the sexual crimes team. He’s worked with the four men a few times on joint investigations. His team is currently working on cold cases.”

She picked up Rick Balboa on the way through the bullpen, and she spent the drive interrogating him on the state of play in the office. Not gossip exactly, but certainly information handy for her to have.

Derek heard them approaching the house. So he stood to answer the door and welcomed them both in. “Rick, Ms. Lange, we’re all in the living room.”

Hetty nodded and followed him through the house. There was already a pot of her preferred tea steeping on the table with a timer beside it. She nodded in approval and said, “Someone’s been telling tales.”

Gibbs chuckled, “Sam called and let us know you and Balboa were on your way over. You and Peter have the same obsession with tea that most Americans have for coffee.” He looked thoughtfully at Hetty and asked, “Do you need introductions?”

She shook her head. “Do you think I don’t already have dossiers on the members of the Hale Pack? There is a reason I lead the Office of Special Projects at NCIS.”

Derek whispered to Tony, “Should we be worried?”

Tony shook his head, “Nope, Hetty is the most honorable person I know. I’m more worried about Balboa knowing.”

Hetty smiled. “Oh, he knows, Rick’s always known. One of his jobs at NCIS is making sure that the directors never find out about the supernatural accidentally, and wiping the knowledge if they did.”

Stiles sat forward, “As nice as all this is, how can we help you, Ms. Lange?”

Hetty smirked, “I have news on the completion of the investigation into Jennifer Shepard, Ziva David, Timothy McGee, and Abigail Sciuto. I asked that I be the one to brief you all as the new interim director of NCIS.”

She went on to explain the charges that had been levied at each of the perpetrators. She also let the group know that it was unlikely that Jennifer Shepard would ever see the inside of a courtroom.

Tony asked, “Did they find out what the undercover op was about? I tried to get details, but she was super cagey about it all, which is why I refused to commit.”

Hetty nodded. “She had issues with an arms dealer known as The Frog, Rene Benoit. She wanted you to seduce his daughter, who is a doctor at a local hospital. There is no way the op would have been sanctioned since he is a CIA asset.”

Tony frowned. “That’s what Kort was talking about? He was more cryptic than usual, so I guess he’s one of the agents at the CIA handling The Frog. Does the daughter even know what her father does?”

Hetty shook her head, “Not even slightly. She hasn’t seen her father for years.” She gave the two NCIS agents a stern look and asked, “Will you be returning?”

Gibbs and Tony both shook their heads. Tony said, “I’ve had an offer to train as my Uncle Clive’s replacement at MI5. Gibbs will be joining me as a trainer, teaching investigative techniques, crime scene procedure, various firearms, and giving sniper training to those with the potential.”

Hetty grinned and said, “Well, I wouldn’t want to separate a mated pair. When will you be leaving? I’d like time for you to train your replacements.”

Gibbs asked, “Callen’s team?”

She nodded. “Yes, they won’t be happy about it, but they are the best team to hit the ground running.”

Balboa said, “I’ll be able to help them as they settle in. Will you be rounding out the team with a fourth member?”

Hetty nodded. “I do plan to, if you have suggestions for someone who would fit, email their names through so the team can choose who would best fit.”

Balboa nodded his agreement as Gibbs finished his quiet conversation with Tony. The younger man confirmed, “We can give you a few weeks before we are expected at MI5. No more than that, though.”

Hetty smiled. “So, should I be calling you Baron Paddington?”

Stiles laughed. “No, we’ve been debating it hotly, and he refuses to take the barony since he’s not actually a Paddington in name. That’s technically still me. I’ll stay the heir until one of our younger cousins is ready to take over.”

Chapter Twelve

December 8th, 2016

Once Tony and Gibbs had worked out their notice under the new permanent director of NCIS, Hetty Lange, they had one last pack night at the Hale House to say farewell. Hetty was sad to see them go, but they had done a lot to train the new members of the MCRT to take over.

Gibbs was reluctant to sell his house in Alexandria, so Sam and his family would be moving in to look after it for him. At some point, he would be ready to let it go, but not yet. Tony was hoping he would eventually find out how the older man got his boats out of the basement.

When they got to London, Clive helped them find a townhouse to buy that would have a decent amount of space for Gibbs to keep building his boats. Clive understood that the boat building was more about relaxation than actually sailing the boat. He’d even arranged with the pack to have all of Gibbs’ tools shipped over to England. That way, Gibbs could use what he was used to, rather than buying new tools. He knew from experience that breaking in new woodworking tools could be a painful experience.

Before they got on the plane, Gibbs took the Talos Task Force director aside and said, “Can you try to get Fornell to switch to the task force. He’s stagnating where they have him right now, and his underlings are going to get him killed. If you can, try to do something about Agent Sacks. He’s definitely the worst offender.”

Sam asked, “You understand that he’s there because he has a family, a child. The unit he’s in has a lower rate of agent injuries than most.”

Gibbs snorted, “Sure. But if he gets any more bored, he’s going to start looking elsewhere for a new job. Why waste time when we all know he would be a good fit for the task force. He’s already in the know, and while he might be human, he’s smart and has great instincts.”

Sam agreed, “I’ll do what I can.”

-x-

By Christmas, the MI5 agents had fully integrated into the FBI arm of the task force. They had noticed a rise in the cases of hunters provoking wolves, and occasionally other creatures, into shifting within range of security cameras.

Danny and Cora had refined the algorithm, so it had a 98% hit rate on the videos, and Kira had developed software that made a range of changes to shifter videos to throw off the conspiracy theorists.

The team of eight FBI agents, and the three homeland agents, had managed to wrangle and bribe their way into having the Christmas holiday off. They were looking forward to heading home to Beacon Hills to spend time with their pack. They wanted to officially introduce the twins to the rest of the pack but also introduce them to the Nemeton. Due to bad timing, the only downside of the vacation was that there would be no full moon run during the Christmas break. However, they would still spend time hunting through the preserve in their full-shift forms, just for the enjoyment factor. As far as most of them were concerned, there was nothing like it.

Noah and Chris were happy to have the family back together, so along with the rest of the Beacon Hills based pack members, they went all out to make the house feel Christmassy.

When they were all gathered in the living room enjoying desert with a hot chocolate, Jackson was quick to share a story about a case they had dealt with a few weeks before the break. Stiles was still muttering darkly about being hazed.

Jackson could barely suppress his giggling as he explained, “They sent us out to the Ocala National Forest in Florida. The local police couldn’t find a reason why so many campsites were being destroyed, and someone suggested calling in the task force.”

Noah asked, “How badly were they being destroyed?”

Jackson snorted, “Obliterated. Everything was either shredded or smashed. It’s why we were called. The shredding wasn’t done by anything man-made.”

Noah asked, “What was causing it?”

Stiles snarled, “Fucking pixies. They are little assholes.”

Chris snorted before he schooled his face, and he asked, “How big was the swarm?”

Jackson was grinning as he said, “Only twenty. But did you know they can smell magic? Sparks are like pixie catnip. It was hilarious.”

Chris shook his head. “I didn’t know that. So the equivalent of supernatural rodents took our mighty spark down.”

Jackson nodded. “Yep. He was able to deal with them fairly easily, though… Once he stopped screaming.”

Stiles growled, “They bite, and it fucking hurts, you asshole. Next time you can deal with them on your own.”

-x-

It was the middle of June, and the team had been working together now for three months. Stiles was away on a case with his team, and it was just Derek and the tech guys in the office.

Sam approached the team bullpen, and with no preamble, he announced, “The office in Beacon Hills is ready. Finish up or transfer any cases you’re still working on, then you’ll be moving. The case in California just got a lot more serious.”

Derek asked, “What’s going on? I thought Stiles’ team was just investigating a few missing persons?”

Sam shook his head. “He was, but he’s missed his last four hourly check-ins, and more people have vanished without a trace. It’s time for the Hale Pack to return to Beacon Hills.”

Derek nodded. “We should be able to hand off our current caseload to the other teams fairly easily. I want to move out tomorrow.”

Peter asked, “Do his team know what happened?”

Sam shook his head. “No, and that’s why we’re worried. It seems they don’t remember Stiles at all. Ethan, Danny, and Jackson think they went to Beacon Hills alone.”

The team started gathering all their case notes, and Derek asked, “Any preferences for where to send the cases?”

“Talk to Charlie,” Sam confirmed. “He’s more aware of the caseload right now. I’ve been busy making sure your office is ready for you.”

It only took them a few hours to get everything assigned to the other task force teams. Peter took the rest of the week off to arrange the movers for the things they wanted to take back to Beacon Hills, while the rest of the team took the red-eye to Sacramento. They would be keeping the house in Washington for the pack to use when they needed to be in town for cases.

Connor said he would stick around for a few weeks. It would give the pack time to get settled before he headed to France for his next assignment. He wanted to be around for the fireworks when Alpha McCall found out the Hales were back in town to stay.

They split the team in two when they arrived in Sacramento. Derek would be taking Aiden and Adam to Beacon Hills. They would be trying to find any trace of Stiles and the other missing people. While Cora, Kira, Dalton, and eventually Peter would stay in Sacramento to monitor the population and the team remotely.

Based on the reactions from the team members that were with Stiles, they had a theory that the people in Beacon Hills were being magically compelled somehow to forget the disappearances.

Before Derek took his team home to Beacon Hills, he set up a group chat for the entire pack. Everyone was under orders to check in hourly, no exceptions.

He knew he was already missing a few members. He could still feel them in the pack bonds, but they were muted, like they were out of reach.

Ken and Danny had vanished as the team was flying across the country, and like Stiles, the others in Beacon Hills had no idea who they were, or that they even existed. Derek was worried that it would affect him the same way, and he had planned to hit up the Nemeton when he arrived at home.

Derek, Aiden, and Adam headed for the pack house to meet with everyone that was there. He gathered the pack in the living room and said, “We have an issue, and it appears to be flying under the radar of everyone in Beacon Hills.”

Noah demanded, “What is it?”

Derek asked, “Who is your son?”

Noah shook his head. “I don’t have any kids, well, beyond Allison, who is technically my stepdaughter.”

Derek pulled out a photo that was taken at Noah and Chris’ wedding in England. It showed the happy couple hugging Stiles, with Derek laughing in the background. He passed it to the pair and said, “The man you are hugging is my mate, Stiles Paddington. He was born Mieczysław Genim Stilinski to Claudia and Noah Stilinski. He was here investigating a few missing persons cases that seemed to be centered on Beacon Hills when he disappeared.”

Noah shook his head. “I don’t remember him.”

Chris agreed. “Neither do I. Who else has gone missing?”

Derek looked at the Noshiko and said, “Noshiko’s husband, Ken, and one of our tech analysts, Danny Mahealani, went missing as we were flying across the country.” He started to pace as he explained, “We have had reports of at least ten others who have gone missing over the last week. All of them were reported missing by people outside of Beacon County. We have left a team in Sacramento who will be tracking us all. I’ve also implemented hourly check-in texts to the group chat by all pack members, including those adjacent members like Melissa, Dominique, and Tara.”

They all agreed, knowing it was for their safety, and Connor said, “This could explain the unease I have felt from the Nemeton. It’s not a threat type of warning; it’s something else entirely.”

Derek raised an eyebrow. “I was going to visit the Nemeton tomorrow, but I think that needs to be a sooner rather than later visit. Will you join me, Connor?”

Connor agreed, and he said, “We’ll take Aiden and Adam to guard us while we chat with the tree.”

Noshiko and Asora looked worried, and the older kitsune said, “We’re going to research what could be going on. The fact that they were able to take our memories of these people is a concern, nor is it something either of us has seen before.”

Melissa said, “It’s not just memories.” She handed over a photo album from Noah and Chris’ wedding, and she pointed at a copy of the photo Derek had shown them earlier. “The photos have changed to remove Stiles completely.”

Derek flicked through the album to confirm her theory, and he said sadly, “Danny is missing from the photos as well.” He stood, as he said, “Look, I would prefer if no one was alone while all this is going on. I know for some of you that will be difficult, but it would give me peace of mind.”

Chris agreed. “I’ll hang out with Noah at the office. We’ll do some digging in the system for the names you’ve given us, see if we can figure out how widespread the disappearances are.”

The rest of the pack agreed to stick together. Dominique decided to spend time with Melissa at the hospital during her shift so she wasn’t alone.

Derek left the house as Noah sent the pairing arrangements to the group chat. Peter suggested that they send in their own check-in and a separate check-in text for their partner for the check-in texts. That way, if anyone was suddenly alone, it would be more obvious.

Derek, Connor, Aiden, and Adam headed out for the Nemeton. Derek asked, “Have there been any more attempts to access the Nemeton while we’ve been away?”

Connor shook his head. “Nothing beyond lost hikers. Deaton has kept his distance after the last warning he got from the wards. Whoever you hired to build them made them increasingly punitive. The more he tried, the more painful it got.”

Derek smirked. “That sounds like something Stiles would do.”

-x-

Stiles came back to himself and found himself at a train station with a large crowd of people. They all seemed to be waiting for a train. But he couldn’t remember Beacon Hills ever having a train line.

He knew Derek had lived in the abandoned train depot when he first arrived in town, but it used to be occupied by a company that upgraded train carriages. But he knew they had all be shipped in by trucks. He remembered asking Derek about it one night while they were out searching for Boyd and Erica. It was one of the many companies that went under when the Hale Fire happened.

He stood to walk around, and he recognized a few of the people who were sitting around the station. But none of them seemed aware of where they were or even what was going on. He tried to question a nurse he saw sitting on the bench beside him. She knew she was waiting for a train but couldn’t say where she was going.

He tried to reach the pack on his phone, but it had no signal, and the pack bonds seemed muted.

As he wandered around the weird train station and tried to break into the rooms he found, he heard someone yell his name. He spun around. “Danny?”

Danny nodded. “It would appear that whatever is taking people, it’s supernatural in origin.”

Stiles snorted. “Ya think?”

Danny laughed. “I don’t even remember seeing anything take you.”

Stiles shrugged. “I just remember a wraith wrapping around me. Then I was here. I’ve looked around, but I can’t see anything that indicates where we are.”

Danny suggested. “It’s like a holding station. Look.” He pointed at the destination board, where there was a long list of towns. “None of these towns exist anymore.”

Stiles swore. “Shit, I recognize a few of the names. Remember when I went through that phase of reading the historical files for the task force?”

Danny nodded. “You recognize one of the towns?”

Stiles chuckled darkly. “I recognize several. Pripyat, Canaan, Garnet, and Trenton. They were all towns with heavy supernatural activity before it stopped suddenly.”

Danny narrowed his eyes. “What are you thinking, Stiles?”

Stiles slumped back into the bench seat and said, “Remember how I speculated that we weren’t the last resort, that there was a higher power that would deal with secrecy breaches if we couldn’t stop them?” Danny nodded, so he continued. “I think this may be what we are experiencing. If everyone in Beacon Hills is taken, they will wipe the town off the map, so to speak. Given we have an active Nemeton, that would be bad.”

Ken joined them as Danny asked, “So, what do we do now?”

Stiles said, “We keep hunting for a way out or a clue to where we are.”

-x-

Derek approached the growing tree, and he sat and leaned back against the stump. “I see what you mean. It’s radiating worry.”

in a panicked voice from the ward line, Aiden called out, “Derek!”

Derek and Connor sprinted toward the beta, and they could see a floating wraith waiting on the outside of the ward line that was protecting the Nemeton. Derek demanded, “What the hell is that.”

Adam was panting as he tried to catch his breath, so Aiden explained, “Adam was doing a patrol around the ward line and the wraith looking thing came at him. He sprinted for the wards hoping they would keep him safe, and it worked.”

Derek inspected the wraith as it floated serenely on the other side of the invisible ward line. He looked around and pointed at a ghostly horse that was hiding in the trees. “Is it just me, or is that horse see-through?”

Connor snarked, “It is, so it’s what? A Ghost Rider? So we’re stuck here?”

“Are we, though? It seems pretty fixated on Adam.” Derek commented as he pulled out his phone. He made a FaceTime call to his uncle.

“Nephew,” Peter started to ask what was going on, until he realized what was in front of the camera. “Where are you?”

Derek explained, “We are inside the Nemeton ward line, and the wraith and his horse are on the outside. They seem to be waiting for Adam.”

Derek moved back, and he asked, “Adam, can you walk up and down the ward line?”

They all watched as the wraith fixated on the beta as he moved around inside the ward line.

Aiden waited until Adam was a reasonable distance away, and he stepped across the ward line. He wanted to see if the wraith would notice him. The beta wasn’t keen to get too close; he wanted time to make sure he could escape back across the ward line if the wraith moved for him.

Peter asked, “Is that the same ward Stiles used around the house?”

The alpha wasn’t sure. “It could be. We think they took Ken from the high school. The last text check-in from him said he would be cleaning out his classroom for the summer break. And Danny was at the new office when he disappeared.”

Aiden asked, “So, how do we get out of here? I know it didn’t watch me when I left the ward, but I’m not keen on leaving Adam behind either.”

Connor suggested, “I’m expendable, and I don’t have anyone waiting for me back at the house. I can let the others know what’s going on here and help them plan from that side.”

Adam shook his head. “No, it’s fine. We don’t know that it won’t do worse to you. Just, please let Dalton know what’s going on, so he doesn’t worry.”

Connor said, “Let me approach it first. I am curious if it is fixated on Adam, as a single specific target, or if it will change its target to me if I touch it.”

Peter said over the call, “I’ll admit to some curiosity about this as well. I’ve also sent a text to Sam to let him know what’s going on. We are both curious if the magic that removes all memory of those taken will affect me over the phone.”

Connor hummed, “I hadn’t thought about that. Right, I’m going to start with the wraith. If he does nothing, I’ll try the horse. Adam, record it with your phone.”

Adam laughed. “So if he takes me anyway, I have video evidence for Stiles?”

Derek and Peter both laughed, knowing it was true. Derek said, “We all know he’s the one with the memory for esoteric knowledge.”

Adam pulled out his phone, and he started recording as Connor approached the wraith. Adam thought it was unusual that when Connor stood between him and the wraith, that the wraith would move, so he still had a clear line of sight to Adam.

The alpha tried to talk to the wraith, and he even tried poking it a few times with his baton, but nothing diverted its attention from Adam. He then moved to the horse, and aside from giving him a curious sniff, it ignored him. He was able to approach it and even feel the warmth from its body; he tried to touch the horse, but his hand went through it, and he couldn’t physically feel anything there, just the body heat.

Connor called out, “This is seriously weird. I can feel its body heat, even though I can’t feel the horse itself. The wraith has no temperature changes, though.”

Derek suggested, “Adam, pass me your phone and head back to the Nemeton. It’s out of sight of all the ward lines. I want to see how the wraith reacts. Aiden, if it heads away from us, I want you to shift and sprint home and let the others know what’s happening.” He had a reason for wanting Aiden to let the pack know. He wanted to test how the memory magic affected someone who had seen the wraith before the target was taken.

As Adam was running toward the Nemeton, Derek called out, “Connor, can you get inside the ward line and pass me your phone?”

Connor nodded, and he swapped places with Aiden when the wraith started moving around the ward. Aiden sprinted off for the pack house as Derek and Connor switched phones. Derek wrote a quick message asking Connor to get Adam to return from the Nemeton in his full-shift before swapping back.

Connor read the message, and he smirked. He asked, “You think it’ll work?”

Derek shrugged, “Not really, but it’s worth a try.”

Connor took off toward the Nemeton with Adam’s phone, which contained the video and a text message for Stiles to read. Derek followed the wraith around the ward line. He watched as the wraith stopped moving, the ghostly horse still slightly behind him.

He was talking with Peter as Connor returned, with Adam on his heels in his full-shift form.

Peter asked, “Is it still watching him in his shifted form?”

Derek confirmed, “Yep. Does anyone find it weird how it seems to be fixated on Adam? Since he wasn’t even in Beacon Hills when all this started.”

Peter agreed. “That is odd. Stiles and Danny were there investigating the disappearances. Maybe whatever it is, it sees the pack as a threat to what they are doing.”

Derek asked, “So why doesn’t he try to take the rest of us? He completely ignored Aiden when he ran for the house.”

Peter said, “I’ve been doing some research while we’ve been talking. I think we’re definitely looking at a Ghost Rider.”

Chapter Thirteen

June 15th, 2017

Derek huffed. “Ghost Riders? Aren’t they a myth?”

Peter shook his head. “No, they are part of the Wild Hunt, a last resort, the supernatural boogeyman, if you will. The lore says they are sent in when the supernatural is at risk of exposure. They are sent in to clean up before the supernatural is exposed in an irreversible way.”

Derek asked, “So, what can we do?”

Peter shrugged. “I don’t know. I am still looking. Sam is sending over everything he has on the Ghost Riders and the Wild Hunt. Hopefully, there is something there that can help us. I’ll make sure I bring everything with me on the flight.”

Adam approached the wraith, and he shook his head at Connor as he stepped over the ward line. Faster than they could blink, the wraith approached Adam, and with a flash of lightning, the wolf, the wraith, and its horse were all gone.

Peter could see the angry expressions as he asked, “Do you remember Adam?”

The group all nodded, but they were all pretty sure those at the house wouldn’t know he’s missing. Derek said, “I’ll send a text to the group chat to let them know he was taken. Hopefully, he can work with Stiles, Danny, and Ken to get back to us.”

-x-

Adam found himself lying down on a bench in a train station surrounded by people. He was shocked when he recognized his pack mates sitting across from him, talking quietly. He shifted back to human as he stood and asked, “Stiles?”

Stiles’ head whipped up. “Adam! Thank god you’re awake.”

Adam looked around. “None of them are awake?”

Stiles shook his head. “It’s like a fugue state. They only seem to be active when the riders drop off someone new. They all move away with fear, but as soon as the riders are gone, they move back to their seats like nothing happened. It’s creepy as hell.”

Adam sighed. “Peter thinks they are Ghost Riders, from the Wild Hunt. He’s trying to look into the lore to see how to stop them.” He pulled out his phone and pulled up the video of the wraith following him around the ward line. “Here, we got video of one of the riders and their horse. If you watch, you can see how both the wraith and, to a lesser degree, the horse, seemed fixated on just me. Connor was able to approach, and they didn’t even glance at him.”

The alpha and the two humans watched the video all the way through, then Adam pointed out the message Derek had typed out for Stiles.

Ken thought about the video and asked, “Why didn’t it get any closer?”

Adam said, “We think it’s one of the wards that kept it away; it couldn’t cross the ward line. Whatever the ward is, it’s not one at the house.”

Ken agreed, “They took me from the house. I’d just got home from cleaning up my classroom. Noshiko was there when I was taken. My last check-in was at the school, though, so they probably think that’s where I was taken.”

The alpha had tears in his eyes as he asked, “So, how do we get out of here?”

A voice spoke up from the side, “You can’t.”

They all turned to look, and they found a young man watching them from the side. Ken asked, “Brett, what do you mean you can’t?” He explained to the group, “This is Brett Talbot. He’s one of Satomi Ito’s betas.”

Brett hopped down from the counter he was sitting on and said, “I’ve watched a few people try to escape by riding behind one of the riders.”

Adam frowned, and he said, “But they’re ghosts. Connor tried to touch one, and his hand went right through it.”

Brett nodded in agreement. “That’s true enough, but here, in this weirdo train station, they are solid as you or I. But when people tried to ride out, they burned to ashes every time.”

Stiles tilted his head in thought and asked, “Humans, right?”

Brett nodded, “I thought about trying it, but then I remembered Peter Hale being stuck in a coma due to burns his wolf couldn’t heal.”

Stiles looked down at his tattooed arms and grinned, “I have a theory; it’s risky, though.”

Adam said, “If you want to give it a try, I’ll stay here to protect the pack.”

Stiles asked, “Brett, do you want to come with me? I’m pretty sure I have a way to mitigate the burns. I just need to check my phone.”

Brett nodded hesitantly as he asked, “How sure are you?”

Stiles shrugged, and with a smirk, he said, “Maybe 66% sure. But it’s worth a try, right?”

The beta nodded. “Sure.”

With a wiggle of his fingers, Stiles asked, “Adam, do you want to be my guinea pig?”

Adam grinned. “More ink? Definitely.”

Stiles nodded, and he held up his phone so the group could see the rune he intended to use. Ken asked, “What about the ward? Is that one that can be tattooed?”

Stiles shrugged. “I don’t have the details for that one on my phone. It’s in my grimoire back at the house in DC. I’ll need to wait for Peter to bring it to California with the rest of the books. Derek’s message said he was getting ready with the movers for a cargo flight. Something about shipping the books in a specialty container that was designed for transporting rare books and scrolls.”

Adam agreed, “He is. He is working with the same company that moved us from the UK.” He looked down at his arms, which were pretty full of designs already, and he knew his back was almost full too. “Ok, where do you want to put the rune? I’m starting to run out of room.”

Stiles contemplated Adam’s body and what he could remember of his ink, and he asked, “Can you take your shirt off? I think I remember there being room on your chest.”

Brett frowned, and he asked, “How are you going to do the tattoo? I don’t see any way to do it down here.”

Stiles wiggled his fingers, and he said, “Magic.” He looked over at Adam and suggested, “I think maybe one on each side of your ribs, just to be sure. I’ll be adding mine and the others to our ribs.”

Adam agreed. “Sounds good. Feel up to wrapping them in flames? I can draw it if you need a reference?”

Stiles laughed. “Get drawing. I need at least some sort of reference. Or do you not remember the debacle the last time you got me to freehand that bird? It looked like a five-year-old drew it with crayons.”

Adam held up his hands in surrender. “Alright, alright. It’s just lucky you can remove tattoos just as well as you can create them. Give me a few minutes, and I’ll sketch you something. Do you have your stylus on you?”

Stiles handed it over from the pocket space tattoo at his wrist. “Use Procreate. It’s got the best clarity out of all the apps.”

Adam nodded absently as he was sketching flames around the rune that he’d imported into the app. Ten minutes later, he handed over the phone so Stiles could get on with the tattoos.

Stiles got him to hop up onto the counter Brett was sitting on earlier. “Because I’m doing them on your ribs, I should be able to do both at the same time. Ok?”

Adam nodded, and as Stiles got started on the tattoo, Brett noticed the scent of ozone in the air. He saw the tattoos beginning to form on Adam’s sides, under where Stiles was holding his hands, and the beta wasn’t even flinching.

Adam saw him watching, and he said, “Stiles is a spark. He can create magical tattoos that work like wards. Most of the tattoos you can see on my body are wards of some sort. We put decorative tattoos around them to disguise them.”

Brett nodded. “Cool. I’ve always thought about getting a tattoo of my birth pack symbol, but the idea of a blowtorch is off-putting after the fire that killed my family.”

Stiles looked up when the tattoo was finished, and he said, “She’s locked away. Kate Argent, I mean. She tried to infiltrate the FBI as a trainer, using a false identity. It’s just a shame, for her, I mean, that she was assigned to teach a class where my PhD thesis was required reading, and she hadn’t read it. It gave us a reason to look into her identity and flush her out. She’s been locked away for life in the Supermax prison in Colorado, the one that was created to hold shifters.”

Brett smiled. “Good! The bitch deserves it after what she was doing to the packs she attacked. Now, where do you want me?”

Adam jumped down from the counter, and he said, “Jump up and sit with your legs crossed. He’ll need to do yours one at a time. Unless you want yours in the same place as mine?”

Brett nodded. “That would be good, actually. It leaves my back and chest for other designs. That is if I can pay you to do more later.”

Stiles chuckled, “Sure, just don’t spread it too far. I work full time for the FBI and don’t want to end up as the go-to for supernatural tattoos. If you talk to Adam once we sort all this out, he can sort the designs for you. He’s a brilliant artist. Most of his tattoos are his own work.”

Stiles got to work on the rest of the tattoos, including his own. Ken and Danny both opted to have the tattoos on their chest and back rather than their ribs.

They settled back and waited until they could hear the horses approach. Stiles and Brett had talked earlier about the best place to jump on. So as soon as they heard the noise of the horses approaching, they headed to the exit, and they waited by the pillars.

Brett asked, “Are you sure you want to do this? Even with the runes, it’s still going to hurt.”

Stiles nodded. “I need to get back to help my pack. From what Derek said in his message, the riders are going to try and clear all of Beacon County. Once they are satisfied, the towns vanish off the face of the earth. Everyone in them is forgotten by the rest of the world. I only recognized some of those names because the FBI stored the files I was reading in warded storage rooms. The wards prevent tampering by magical means.”

Brett nodded. “Cool. I’ll make sure I let Alpha Ito know what’s going on. Who should she get in touch with?”

Stiles thought about it as they got into place. “She has Connor’s number, or if she wants to contact someone outside of Beacon County, Peter will be in DC or Sacramento, depending on travel times. He’s researching how to stop the hunt.”

They heard the horses approaching. As Stiles jumped on the back of a horse, he yelled, “See you on the other side!”

-x-

It had been about 24 hours since Adam had vanished. The pack were on a group Skype call with Peter in DC and Cora, Kira, and Dalton in Sacramento when Derek felt his mate bond to Stiles surge in awareness. “Stiles!”

Aiden sat up. “Where is he?”

Derek stood without a word, and he ran outside, following the bond to his mate. Aiden, Ethan, and Jackson were all armed as they chased him out the door. Asora and Connor behind followed quietly. They had lost Melissa and Dominique while Melissa was on shift at the hospital overnight.

They’d been running for fifteen minutes through the preserve when they came across Stiles and another beta. They were out cold, and both of them were still smoking. Asora dropped down beside them, and he said, “They both have pretty severe burns, but I think they’ll heal.”

Jackson said, “I recognize the other guy. He’s Brett Talbot. We used to play him in lacrosse when he was attending Devenford Prep. I think he’s one of Satomi’s betas.”

Connor stepped back, and as he pulled out his cellphone, he suggested, “Let’s get them back to the house, and I’ll call Satomi.”

Derek gently picked up his mate in a bridal carry as Asora picked up Brett. The twins ran back to the house to get the medical room ready for the pair.

Connor made a few calls on the way back to the house. His first was to Satomi, to let her know she needed to come to the Hale house.

She was suspicious. “You’re saying I have a missing beta, and you’ve found him in the preserve?”

Connor sighed. “Look, we think the Wild Hunt is in Beacon County. He was with Derek’s mate, Stiles, who was taken by the hunt two days ago.”

Satomi thought about it. “I’ll be there. I’ll be bringing Vaughn with me; he’s our researcher.”

She said she would be there in about half an hour, so he ended the call and made his second call of the night to Noah and Chris. Noah was at the station doing paperwork, with Chris hanging out in his office and Jordan out in the bullpen.

“Connor?” Noah answered as Chris sat up, and Jordan moved to stand in the doorway. “What’s going on?”

Connor took a deep, calming breath before he said, “Stiles is back. We just found him and Brett Talbot in the preserve. They are injured, but Asora said they’ll be fine.”

Noah picked up his keys to the cruiser, and he said, “We’ll be home soon.” He hung up the phone, and he asked Jordan, “Can you stay here with Tara. Same check-in schedule, please.”

Jordan nodded his agreement as the two men ran out the door. Tara approached, and she asked, “What’s going on?”

Jordan grinned. “Noah’s son returned from the hunt.”

-x-

Stiles woke slowly, and he looked around at the group in their medical room. “Derek?”

Derek smiled softly, and he whispered, “You’re not allowed to disappear on me, Mischief.”

Stiles reached up with a hand that was still healing. “I found my way back. I promise I always will.” He sat up and looked across at Brett. “Is he ok?”

Asora nodded. “He’s healing a bit slower than you because he’s a beta, but he’ll be fine. Satomi is on her way to see him. I think the memories are slow to return, but we are starting to remember you. So hopefully, by the time she and her second get here, they’ll remember Brett. She should feel the pack bond, but that has been slow to return for some of us too. I think your mate bond is helping there, though.”

Stiles asked, “So aside from what you put in the message on Adam’s phone, what do we know?”

Derek huffed. “From what we can gather, it’s definitely the Wild Hunt. We still haven’t found how to kill them or even stop them. What we do know, is that they are a last resort action to protect the supernatural.”

Stiles frowned. “I thought that’s what hellhounds were?”

The kitsune shook his head, and he said, “That’s actually a mistranslation from some old Welsh texts. It was translated as hellhound when it actually meant hounds from hell. They are not interchangeable.”

Stiles frowned. “That sounds familiar. There is something I read a while ago; let me think on it.” He looked at Asora treating Brett and asked, “Where’s Melissa?”

Derek shook his head. “Cora said they took her last night a few hours after Adam. She was with Dominique; I think she said she is Chris’ Aunt. They were both at the hospital.”

Stiles swore. “Shit. Do you know if Peter packed my grimoire yet? I need him to send me copies of the notes I added about the wards here and at the Nemeton.”

Derek shrugged. “I’m not entirely sure. We can ask him though, I think he’s still on Skype in the living room.”

Stiles struggled to sit up. “Help me out to the living room, Sourwolf. I need to figure out what’s different in the two ward runes, so I can add whatever’s missing to the house wards.”

Derek looked to Asora, who nodded. “It’s fine if he moves. His burns are healing; it’s just going to be a bit slower than usual due to the magical nature of the burns.”

Derek helped support Stiles as they limped out of the medical room. Derek called back, “I’ll have someone escort Alpha Ito back when she arrives.”

He got Stiles settled on the sofa in front of the camera they were using for Skype. They displayed the group video call on the large TV on the wall.

Stiles looked at the Skype screen, and he implored, “Please tell me you still have my grimoire handy?”

Peter nodded, and he held up the well-used tome. “What do you need? I unpacked the scanner just in case.”

Stiles explained, “About halfway through the book are two pages full of runes, there is no heading for the pages, but it should be clear as they are the only pages with pure runes and no explanation on them. I need you to scan both pages, so all the rune clusters are clear, and send them through to my email. Then I need the book itself overnighted so I can update it and create ward schemes for other buildings in town.”

Noah asked, “Are you going to do the sheriff’s station? We’ve already lost several officers based on the empty desks.”

Stiles shrugged. “It depends on if the ward itself is specific or if it’s a ward that restricts an area to pack only. I need to figure that out first. I did the wards years ago when I was still learning about magic, so I need to refresh my memory before I can make any plans.”

The wolves all faced the door, and Aiden said, “I’ll show her through to the medical room. What do you want me to do with whoever is with her?”

Connor said, “I’ll escort Vaughn here. Satomi said he’s the pack researcher; another set of eyes could be a good idea.”

Chapter Fourteen

June 17th, 2017

Vaughn was happy to join the research party as Stiles was going through his notes. He and Peter had been friends before the fire. Before Laura had restricted access to his hospital room to just family, he had been planning to visit Peter in the hospital.

Stiles was busy going through the notes he had on the wards to try and find what could have blocked the wraith. Derek was looking through their digital library for information on the Wild Hunt and the Ghost Riders. He was pretty sure that if Stiles had read enough to remember bits and pieces, that the information was likely in one of the books that had been digitized.

He was saving any information that looked relevant to a separate file. He wanted the pack to go through it all once they were finished with the physical books.

Stiles got to his feet. He was still a little unsteady, even though his burns were mostly healed. He looked down at his mate and said, “I’ll need your help, Alpha. I found the ward I used at the Nemeton, and I’ll need your help in setting it on the house.”

Noah sat up. “Can we use it on public buildings?”

Stiles shook his head. “No, not in its current form. It’s a fairly strict intent type ward that’s keyed to the pack. So it will exclude anyone who means harm to anyone in the Hale Pack. I’ll need to modify it to be usable on public buildings. Why, what were you thinking?”

Noah looked at Chris, who said, “We were thinking of making some safe places in town. So the sheriff’s station, the hospital, the school, maybe even the dojo. If they can keep people safe from the wraiths, it’ll give us time to figure out how to stop the hunt before everyone is taken.”

Stiles agreed, “Good idea. I’m pretty sure once everyone has been taken, the hunt is completed, and Beacon Hills disappears like it never existed.”

He turned to face the screen. “Peter, can you ask Sam for the details on the wards in the file rooms? Whatever they used to prevent magical tampering, seems to stop the memory wipe. We could use that ward on the pack house in the short term. It would be good backup just in case the ward I used on the Nemeton isn’t what prevented Derek and Connor from forgetting Adam.”

Peter agreed, “Then you’ll know when people are missing rather than relying just on those out of town.”

Dalton asked, “Do you need us to head to you yet? You’re already down several people.”

Derek shook his head. “Not yet. I would prefer we hold you guys in reserve for now.”

Dalton nodded, and Peter confirmed, “I should be with them in a few days. Do we know how far out the hunting grounds are?”

Derek shook his head. “We aren’t sure. It’s hard to know when we don’t know who’s going missing.”

Stiles said, “Brett was in Beacon Valley when he was taken. We both recognized other people in the train station, so that would suggest Beacon County rather than just Beacon Hills.” He snagged Derek’s hand and said, “We’re going to play with the wards. Text if you need us.”

-x-

Satomi was sitting with Brett in the medical room. He still hadn’t woken up. Asora said, “You should start to recognize him as the magic that had taken him from our world falls.”

Satomi nodded, “It’s odd, I can feel a pack bond to him, linking him to a sister in the pack, but I still don’t recognize him.” She examined the burns covering his arms and torso, and she asked, “What caused these?”

Asora explained, “We think they are burns he received by going through a portal that was not designed to carry corporeal beings. Stiles told us they came through on the back of the ghost rider’s horses. He said if it wasn’t for the fireproof wards he gave the two of them, it would have burned them beyond recognition. Brett saw a human try to leave the same way, and they burned to ashes on the spot.”

Satomi frowned. “How did he ward them?”

Asora lifted the beta’s arms to show her the two tattoos on his ribs. “These are magical tattoos. The rune in the center is a fireproof ward, and the design around the outside is art that one of our betas, Adam, would have done. The riders took him near the Nemeton.”

Satomi smiled. “Good thinking. Now we just need to figure out how to get humans across.”

Asora shook his head. “I don’t think it’s going to be that simple.”

-x-

Jackson was reading through the various digitized books, and he asked quietly, “Do we know why the Wild Hunt is here?”

Peter asked, “What do you mean?”

Jackson looked up, and he said, “Everything I am reading states that the Wild Hunt is a last resort, that they exist to prevent the exposure of the supernatural. So, why are they here? What is putting the secrecy at risk?”

“Shit,” Connor sighed. “It begs the question. What has McCall done this time?”

Jackson shook his head. “It’s not something small. The Wild Hunt is a nuclear option. I mean, they literally wipe an area off the map to protect the secret. So whatever is going on, it’s something big.”

Noah snorted. “It’s either something big or something moronic. We know Scott is capable of moronic plans. Look at the plan he created to force Derek to bite Gerard.”

Jackson muttered, “I still think Deaton was the reason for most of that plan.”

Chris asked, “So you think if we can shut down whatever is going on, it might stop the hunt?”

Jackson shrugged. “It’s worth a try.”

Peter suggested, “I think there needs to be a meeting between McCall, the Hale Pack, and the Ito Pack. You might need to explain to Satomi that Scott believes he is the territory alpha, even though he has been told otherwise several times.”

Vaughn snorted. “She’s very aware. She’s also told him and seen him completely ignore the statement. It’s like if he pretends she didn’t say it, it’s not real.”

Ethan muttered, “So he’s still delusional.”

Chris nodded. “Both he and my daughter seem to be at least lost in their own little world. She was in contact with my psychopathic sister, and she didn’t see that as wrong, even though she knew Kate still wanted to kill the Hales.”

Stiles and Derek entered the room, and Stiles said, “We’ve added the ward to the house that should protect anyone here. We can’t use the ward in its current state in town because it works as an intent ward. I’ve also added the ward they use in the file rooms to make sure that the memory aspect won’t affect anyone at the house, nor anything in the house like the photos.”

Derek asked, “So what’s the plan?”

Peter said, “You and Alpha Ito, with your seconds and emissaries, need to meet with McCall. Jackson has a theory that the hunt is a reaction to something specific, and we all mostly agree that Scott is probably at the center of it all.”

Stiles said, “The Wild Hunt has taken our emissary.”

Peter rolled his eyes. “You’re a magic user. You can act as our emissary, you just don’t want to do it, and you’ll use extreme measures to get out of it.”

Stiles shrugged. “There is nothing wrong with using C4 as a negotiation tool.”

Derek nudged him and said, “For the sake of this meeting, I think you would be a good emissary. It’ll put Deaton off his game. I’ll take Connor as my second. He’s been in town the entire time we were away, representing the Hale Pack as the proxy alpha.”

Noah suggested, “How about I arrange it, and we can use the conference room at the station. Stiles can ward it for privacy.”

Stiles agreed. “I need to head to our office to add the new wards. Once I’m finished, I’ll be at the station with Derek to get the warding done in the conference room. Jordan’s still at work, right?”

Noah nodded. “Jordan and Tara are both on shift. I’ll let Jordan know you’ll be using the conference room for an inter-pack meeting. He’ll understand.”

Connor said, “Satomi has already called her second and emissary, and they’ll be here in about an hour.”

He looked at his watch, and he suggested, “It’s just after four now, maybe set up the meeting for six. It will take away the excuse of the school and the vet clinic being open. You’ll also need to be clear that only the alpha, his second, and their emissary will be welcome at the meeting.” He looked at Stiles. “Will that give you time to ward the new FBI building and the conference room?”

Stiles nodded in agreement. “Yeah, that should give me plenty of time. The conference room will be a bit trickier since I will be adding privacy runes, but it should be fine.”

Noah nodded. “That sounds good. I’ll be at the station with Chris doing paperwork if you run into any issues. Maybe Jackson and Ethan should come with us. They can give Tara and Jordan a debriefing from an FBI perspective.”

Jackson grinned. “We can do that. I’ll grab Ethan and our laptops, and we’ll follow you in. That way, I can set us up before the packs arrive.”

-x-

Scott had grudgingly agreed to the meeting, and Noah showed him into the conference room. Dr. Deaton and Allison accompanied him, and they all arrived right on the dot of six. Satomi was already in the conference room with Beta Maria Cruz, her second, and her emissary, Druid Emily White. They had been chatting quietly with the Hale Pack alphas as they waited.

Scott stood belligerently at the end of the table, and he demanded, “So why am I here?”

Connor shook his head at the impertinence, and he said, “Take a seat, Alpha McCall. This is going to be a long meeting.”

As the three of them took a seat, Dr. Deaton asked, “Perhaps you could start with introductions, Alpha James.”

Connor smirked. “Sure.” As he gestured to each person, he said, “I’m sure you all know Alpha Satomi Ito, alpha of the Ito Pack of Beacon Valley, her second Beta Maria Cruz, and her emissary Druid Emily White.”

He then grinned wickedly and said, “Last but by no means least, we have Alpha Derek Hale, alpha of the Hale Pack of Beacon County, and his mate and emissary, Alpha Stiles Paddington.”

Scott stood as he yelled, “What?”

Dr. Deaton sat back with his usual serene mask, and he said, “I was unaware an alpha could be an emissary.”

Stiles smirked, and he snarked, “I’m a special snowflake.” He glared at Scott. “Sit down, Scotty. We have a lot to discuss.”

Scott sat down and demanded, “What are you doing here, Stiles? And what’s this bullshit about you being an alpha.”

Derek chuckled. “He’s been an alpha since he left town, Scott. His father sent him away for his own safety, since he felt your inability to care about others around you would get his only son killed.”

Scott scoffed. “That doesn’t give him the right to be here now. It’s not like he’s part of your pack.”

Stiles shook his head in disbelief. “Wow, Scotty, I joined the Hale Pack after I realized you knew Gerard had taken me and tortured me in his murder basement, and you just didn’t care. I joined that summer as a human member, and I spent the first few months with Derek and Peter, helping them search for our missing betas. But hey, you barely even noticed anything going on back then, especially if Allison wasn’t part of it. After all, you left me alone in the preserve on patrol; when you knew the alpha pack was targeting pack members, and for what? A booty call. By the time I got home that night, Scott, I was covered in blood from head to toe after being attacked by Ennis. You remember him, tall, built like a tank. He was attempting to kill me to send a message to Derek.”

Derek smirked. “He didn’t count on the training we’d given Stiles so he could defend himself.”

Scott sneered. “So you murdered him?”

Satomi frowned. “Self-defense isn’t murder, Alpha McCall. As I understand it, they cleared him of the death, as it was a clear cut case of self-defense against an alpha that was being actively hunted by the FBI.”

Deaton cleared his throat, and he said, “Mr. Stilinski…”

Stiles held up his hand. “You can address me as either Dr. Paddington, Agent Paddington, or in pack business, Alpha Paddington.”

Allison asked curiously, “You’re a doctor?”

Stiles shook his head. “Not a medical doctor, I have a Ph.D. in criminal justice, and I just defended my dissertation for my psychology doctorate.”

Deaton cleared his throat again to get their attention. “Dr. Paddington, are you any relation to Alpha Paddington?”

Stiles nodded. “Alpha Clive Paddington is my uncle.”

“Right,” Deaton nodded. “So you expect us to believe you killed Ennis Browne, as a human?”

Stiles shrugged. “I normally wouldn’t actually care what you believe.” He rolled up his sleeve and pulled out one of the two knives he always has on him. “However, just so there is no doubt, I have a knife on each forearm, and I have worn them ever since I was kidnapped by Gerard fucking Argent. Peter helped me find some runes that would allow me to hide the sheaths from detection, and I laced the blades with wolfsbane. You know, just in case I was attacked by a werewolf.”

He glared at the druid and said, “Anyway, that’s not why we are here. Sourwolf?”

Derek nodded. “He’s right. The first reason for this meeting is to let you all know that the rest of our pack are on their way back to Beacon Hills. Our unit has been assigned to the new FBI office here in town.”

Scott scowled. “This isn’t your territory, Derek. You left.”

Maria asked, “What does that have to do with it? He left a proxy alpha which is standard practice for packs where the alpha is young and wishes to attend college. You were informed that Alpha James was here as Alpha Hale’s proxy. We have all informed you of this several times with witnesses, Alpha McCall.”

Scott shook his head. “You left us to keep the territory safe. We had several issues come up while you were away.”

Connor asked, “Like what, Alpha McCall?”

Allison said, “The Dread Doctors. They created Chimeras and released them on Beacon Hills to create chaos.”

Connor nodded. “They did, and the FBI sent in one of their task force teams to assist our pack in shutting them down. We killed the doctors as we could not capture them because of their phase-shifting ability. We found packs for the chimeras that didn’t want to remain with Alpha McCall. I recall reading in the reports that he took in two of the chimeras and one of their mates. He expected the rest to fend for themselves.”

Satomi nodded. “I took in Hayden, and she is currently attending university out of state. I think Alpha Richardson over in Oakdale took in a couple as well.”

Scott sneered. “I’ll bet you’ll try to claim credit for the assassins leaving as well.”

Connor smirked. “They didn’t leave. They were arrested. We caught several high-profile assassins who are currently serving long sentences at the Colorado Supermax prison. The rest of them left when they realized there wasn’t actually a payday. We also tracked down the creator of the Deadpool list. It was an orderly at Eichen House. He was working with Kate Argent to get hold of the money in the Hale Vault. But Derek wasn’t in town to lead her to the vault.”

Derek chuckled. “The money wasn’t there, anyway. We cleared out the vault of anything important before we left town. My mother had granted too many people access.”

Satomi asked, “Just out of curiosity, which assassins were captured?”

Connor ticked off on his fingers. “We caught The Mute; he’s the one who killed the Walcotts. I caught the Chemist before he could release a contagion at the school, the orphans were captured when they went after Kira at lacrosse practice, and the FBI captured Deputy Haigh when he tried to set fire to our hellhound.”

Derek grinned. “They were good captures for the Sheriff. Certainly took away some of the heat from the unsolved cases and animal attacks that are typical in a town full of supernaturals.”

He looked Scott in the eyes and said, “Our pack has also dealt with a few attempts at hunters trying to move in on the territory and several omegas and feral creatures.”

Scott sneered. “Taking them out like a murder bot.”

Connor laughed. “Oh, I am keeping that nickname. No, Alpha McCall, we sent the omegas to a rehabilitation center we use in Montana. They get the omegas back on an even keel again before they find them a pack that suits their needs. They rehabilitated the feral creatures where possible. Killing them is always a last resort.”

Satomi frowned, and she asked, “If killing them isn’t an option, what do you do with those causing trouble, Alpha McCall?”

“There is always another option,” Scott said sanctimoniously. “Killing is never the way.”

Satomi said, “That didn’t answer my question, Alpha McCall. If killing them isn’t an option, what do you do with them?”

Scott scoffed. “I’m a True Alpha. I can’t be seen to be killing indiscriminately.”

“And?” Satomi asked with a raised eyebrow. “A True Alpha is just an alpha who rose to the rank of alpha out of stubbornness. You still have to protect your pack, and that often involves the death of the threat. The supernatural world is not as black and white as you seem to think.”

Connor laughed. “The last two omegas he dealt with were made to promise they wouldn’t kill anyone, and then Alpha McCall let them go. They proceeded to move into Alpha Richardson and Alpha Matthews territories. They were both killed after they tried to kill a member of their packs.”

Satomi narrowed her eyes. “So, all you did with your no-killing policy is create a mess for the surrounding territories.”

Connor nodded. “Thankfully, they were both aware that Alpha McCall had gone outside his agreement by not notifying a Hale Pack member of the threat. We have since added extra wards to warn us of mild threats to the territory.”

Stiles nodded. “The wards we added initially were only set to warn for major threats. We thought Scotty would deal with any minor threats properly if he, or his pack, came across them.”

Derek smiled. “So, we are back, and we would appreciate you leaving any and all threats to the territory to us to deal with. Our pack is rather large, and we have enough members to deal with any threats.”

Allison rolled her eyes, and she said dismissively, “Whatever. You mentioned that there were two reasons you invited us here?”

Derek nodded. “The Wild Hunt is here. There are at least 200 people so far who have been taken by the hunt, including Scott’s mother and Allison’s great-aunt.”

Scott argued, “My mother? She skipped out when I was born.”

Stiles shook his head, “No, Scott. It’s how the Wild Hunt works. When they take someone, all memories of that person are taken as well. They even alter photos to remove the person. Your mother joined the Hale Pack at the end of the last year, after you and your fiance declared since she was not a wolf, she couldn’t be pack, and you left her vulnerable.”

Scott shook his head as if he didn’t believe a word from his ex-best friend. “Is that all?”

Derek nodded. “Yes. I would suggest you stick to pairs and do regular check-ins by text, so you know if any of your packs have disappeared.”

Scott shook his head, “We’ll be fine. It sounds like the hunt is just after your pack.”

At the incredulous looks on the faces of both of the other packs, Allison asked, “They aren’t going after just the packs, are they?”

Stiles snorted. “Our pack might be large, but we don’t have 200 members. The Wild Hunt is going after everyone in Beacon County. Once they have everyone, they will literally wipe the town off the map.”

He thought about mentioning their theory that they were causing it with their actions, but he figured it wasn’t worth it. Scott was still of the belief that everything was fine in his own little world.

She nodded and stood with Scott. “Thank you for the warning. I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

As the three members of the McCall Pack were walking out the front doors of the station, the wolves overheard Dr. Deaton murmur, “He doesn’t look anything like the Stiles that left Beacon Hills in your Junior year.”

When they had driven away, Jackson, Ethan, Noah, and Chris entered the conference room. Jackson asked, “Well?”

Stiles and Derek both shook their heads in disbelief, as Connor confirmed, “They are definitely in their own little world. They think the hunt is after our pack.”

Satomi sighed. “We need to get going. I want to get the text groups set up. I also want to add Peter to ours if that’s ok? It would be good to have someone outside the area tracking the texts.”

Stiles pulled his phone out of his pocket, and after a quick check with the owners, he wrote down a couple of numbers. As he slid the paper across, he said, “These are the numbers for Cora and Kira. They are currently in Sacramento and are doing the tracking for our pack. Peter will be joining them in a few days. He’s packing our house in DC for the move.”

She passed the numbers to Maria, who would be setting up the chats. She hesitantly said, “I would also like to set up a chat with the alphas of the region. Just so we can all keep each other updated.”

Connor said, “Leave me off the list, please. I am leaving Beacon Hills once we have the Wild Hunt situation sorted. I have a new assignment with an office near the Nemeton in France.”

Chapter Fifteen

June 17th, 2017

By the time they got back to the house, it was pretty late. Satomi had joined them, as Brett was still unconscious when she left for the meeting. Asora had organized a dinner for the group that was easily reheated, and they were thankful that they had no new missing persons in the pack.

The Skype call in the living room was still going strong, and when they walked in with their dinner, Peter asked, “Stiles, does the name Gwyn Ap Nudd mean anything to you?”

Stiles chewed his dinner thoughtfully before he said, “I think so. Isn’t he the Welsh God of the Underworld?” He snapped his fingers when he remembered, “Ooh ohhh, and he’s the leader of the Wild Hunt with the Cwn Annwn.” He slumped. “Well shit, that’s bad.”

Derek asked, “Bad how?”

Stiles looked at him with an incredulous expression. “How do we stop a god, especially when he’s one of the Old Gods?”

Derek shrugged, and he said almost jokingly, “Ask nicely?”

Peter laughed heartily over the Skype call. “It’s the only thing that might work. And that’s a big might. Everything I’ve read says he’s a vengeful god. Very unforgiving.”

Stiles nodded. “I’m sure I’ve read something recently on how to petition a god.”

Asora frowned. “That doesn’t often go well for the petitioner.”

Stiles shrugged, “Honestly, what choice do we have? The Wild Hunt won’t stop until either the threat is eliminated or the wraith-looking things have caught us all.”

Asora added warningly, “Go into the petition with an open mind. I have heard of petitions to other gods, most involved a trade, or worse.”

Stiles muttered as he walked to his office, “Maybe I should offer to trade Scott to Gwyn Ap Nudd. Do you think it would work?”

-x-

Derek and Stiles had found the research Stiles had done into petitioning a god. It was one of the many rabbit holes he dived into during his college years. They both agreed that the Nemeton would be the perfect place to do the petition, as it was safe and protected and out of the way of the town itself.

They were relaxing in bed later that night, and Stiles whispered, “What if the sacrifice he demands is one of us?”

Derek shook his head, and he growled, “Then we move the pack to DC and leave Beacon Hills to Scott, since it was probably him and his pack that’s put us in this situation in the first place. I’m done paying for his fuckups.”

Stiles agreed. “I still can’t believe he just lets murderers go with a stern warning. What does he think that’s going to do? Fuck, what would he have done with Deucalion?”

Derek snorted. “He would have taken credit for saving him from the Darach, then sent him off with a pat on the head most likely.”

Stiles snorted, then sobered, “Damn, that’s hilarious, but not entirely wrong. So we’re agreed, if the petition requires a sacrifice from our pack, we’ll go back to DC with the pack.”

Derek nodded. “We just need to figure out how to rescue our pack from the hunt. You warded Adam, Ken, and Danny, but they now have Dominique and Melissa. They are both human and weren’t warded before they were taken by the hunt.”

Stiles shook his head. “One problem at a time. I should give you the fireproof ward, you know, just in case.”

Derek nodded. “Yes please, can you do it now?”

Stiles sat up and asked, “Are you sure?”

Derek used his feet to move the blankets down to the bottom of the bed, and he manhandled the younger alpha, so he was straddling his hips. He held his hips as he stroked his thumbs in a caress over his hipbones and said, “I want mine in the same place you have yours, on my ribs. I don’t want to run the risk of being separated again with no way to return to you.”

Stiles leaned forward, and he held his hands over the blank spots on his mate’s ribs. He concentrated his magic to do both tattoos at the same time. Thankfully, after doing those at the train station, he had a clear picture of the rune and the outer design in his mind to use as a reference. He decided he would offer the fireproof ward to the other pack members after breakfast in the morning.

When he was done with the tattoo, he leaned forward and bracketed Derek’s head as he kissed him softly.

Derek knocked out his elbows, so his mate landed hard on his chest before pulling him into a tight, life-affirming hug. He said, “I hated the separation. I couldn’t even feel you through the mate bond. You were there, but it was muted. It was only just enough, so I knew you were alive, but that was all. It was worse than the pack bond we had when you were still human. The bond was just barely there; it was worse than that static feeling.”

Stiles snugged in and asked, “When do you think we should do the petition?”

Derek shrugged. “We could wait for the new moon, that’s just a week away, but we might not even have much of the pack left by then. So does it really matter? He’s a god. He likely already knows what we’re planning.”

Stiles agreed with a snort. “He’s not just a god, but one of the Ancient Ones. And that’s what worries me.”

Derek asked, “Why? He’s the God of the Underworld, basically a personification of Death, right? So we already know he’s going to be pretty unforgiving.”

Stiles shook his head. “He’s a Celtic god. They are all vicious; they were all made, or born, so to speak, for war.”

Derek asked, “Isn’t war exactly what this is, though? We are at the front lines, and it’s our job to keep the war from spilling over to the mundanes. The Wild Hunt exists for when we can’t.” He sighed, “We have to accept that whatever is coming must bigger than anything we’ve dealt with in the past.”

“I still can’t believe Scott fucked things up bad enough that the gods have summoned the Wild Hunt to clean up the mess,” Stiles said with a snort. “I mean, he’s not even the territory alpha. It makes me wonder just what he’s done or is in the process of doing that would be this fucking bad.”

Derek said, “Ten bucks says Gerard is involved somehow.”

Stiles shook his head with a laugh, “No way, that’s a sucker’s bet.”

-x-

When they woke, they found they were missing Jordan, who had been taken while working the night shift, and Ethan, who had been taken while out on a patrol run through the preserve.

Brett had woken, though, and he was sitting at the table with Satomi having breakfast. Satomi said, “The hunt took Maria last night. I sent Emily the list Peter had of the pack members he knew about, so she could confirm who was still at the pack house. The list, of course, included Maria, who you met yesterday. Emily was missing Maria, Hayden, and Dave. That list was likely not comprehensive since it only included the members Peter knew about, but it’s enough to know we are missing people.”

Brett said, “It also took a while for my sister to remember who I am, which kinda sucked.”

Stiles agreed. “Yeah, it’s like the magic struggles to undo itself when you escape. I had similar issues when I woke up with those who had been here in Beacon Hills when I was taken. Although it didn’t take as long for those in the pack.”

Noshiko said, “I wish we knew when all this started, it would be easier to tell if it’s escalating if we could track if people are being taken faster or if it’s affecting a wider area.”

Stiles shrugged. “Either way, we need to do the petition sooner than I was planning. After breakfast, I am going to do the fire ward tattoo on anyone who wants it.”

Satomi asked, “Is that the tattoo that Asora showed me yesterday? What does it do?”

Brett said, “It’s how we got through the portal without dying, I think. The humans who tried to escape by riding on the back of the horses burned to ashes as soon as they hit the portal.”

Stiles lifted his shirt and showed Satomi the two tattoos he had on his ribs. “I can either do them on your ribs, both sides, or on your chest and shoulder blade. I did Derek’s last night.”

Brett promised, “It doesn’t hurt. They are magical tattoos, so there is no blowtorch required, not even any needles.”

Stiles nodded. “I just need to either know or see the artwork if it’s something new. We learned the hard way not to let me do them freehand.”

Satomi nodded, “Sure, if it means I can get back to my pack if I am taken, then I am all in.”

Brett said, “You just have to hide behind the pillars, and then when the riders come through, jump on the back of the horse and hold on tight. It burns like hell, but the tattoos seemed to stop the worst of it.”

Derek muttered, “Uncle Peter is staying out of Beacon Hills until the riders are gone. He is not going through being burned alive a third time.” He stood from the table. “I’m going to give the director an update. I’ll let him know we are doing the petition to Gwyn Ap Nudd later tonight.”

Stiles smiled. “I’ll join you in the office once I am done with everyone’s tattoos.”

It took Stiles nearly an hour to get through the various pack members. Derek was still on the call with Sam when he joined him in the office. The director was not happy that they were doing the petition without backup, and he wasn’t at all shy about expressing his displeasure.

He understood that involving more of the task force put them at risk, but he was worried that he would lose the entire pack to the hunt. He didn’t want the only memory of them, being as a footnote in various files in the file room when the Wild Hunt was finished.

Derek and Stiles headed out to the Nemeton at ten. They wanted a few hours to get set up for their petition, which they had decided to do at midnight. The ritual itself was nothing fancy. It was just a matter of burning specific herbs that opened up the area to the older magicks.

They leaned back against the tree as the herbs burned, and they both contemplated what the god could ask for to end the hunt.

Derek looked up when he smelled a change in the clearing. He saw the man sitting cross-legged across from them, and he nudged Stiles. It seemed odd to see a man in a formal three-piece suit sitting on the ground like he didn’t have a care in the world. He looked distinguished, with dark hair, except for the gray at the temples and in his neatly trimmed beard. They could see shadows lurking in the trees, but they both knew better than to ask.

Stiles sat up and asked, “Gwyn Ap Nudd?”

The god nodded. “I am. I got bored with waiting for midnight and decided I would just stop in for that chat.”

Stiles nodded slowly, and he decided in self-preservation to let Derek take the lead. While his ADHD was mostly gone, he still tended to babble when he was stressed.

Derek said, “Thank you. We wanted to know if there was any way to stop the hunt.”

The god raised his eyebrows, and he said, “Straight to the point, I see. Normally I would say no, but I’ve been looking into the town since the hunt was triggered. Tell me about your Talos Task Force. Why did you choose to work for the government to police supernaturals?”

Derek said, “A few reasons, resources mostly. And it’s not just for supernaturals. We police the rogue hunter elements as well. Our goal is to keep the supernatural a secret by taking out those who want war.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd nodded. “So you jail them?”

Derek nodded. “The worst of them, yes. The creatures that are beyond saving end up in our Supermax prison in Colorado. We also have a rehab facility where near feral omegas are treated, and we find them new packs. Hunters that are captured have their memories of the supernatural removed; then we send them to a maximum security human prison.”

The god frowned. “This works?”

Derek and Stiles both nodded, and Derek said, “It’s taken us a while to build the teams up and get ourselves sorted so we can be effective, but it’s working so far, or it was. We’ve only just moved our full pack back to Beacon Hills.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd asked, “Why did you leave town? It seems a lot of the problems in Beacon Hills stem back to when the Hale Alpha left after the fire.”

Derek nodded. “After the fire, my sister was the alpha. She basically ordered me to leave with her, even though she wasn’t my legal guardian. I couldn’t go against her orders until she died at my uncle’s hands.”

Stiles said, “I left in 2011 after a psychotic alpha attacked me. My dad sent me away when I came home covered in blood. Uncle Clive recruited the pack into the Talos Task Force, and we spent the last six years getting the training we needed to take care of an area with an active Nemeton.”

Derek agreed. “It was training we all needed. My mother only trained my sister on how to be an alpha, so I needed the help.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd nodded. “So you’re officially taking back the territory? As you’ve already surmised, the resident alpha, Alpha McCall, is why the hunt has been called.”

Stiles snarled, “He’s not the resident alpha. We left Alpha Connor James in place as our proxy alpha. He took care of things for us, while we were away doing what we could to be the alphas this territory needed. He did what he could, but Scott got in the way a lot, and I suspect his pet druid did whatever he could to disrupt the wards we placed in town.”

“I can’t comment on that.” The god rolled his eyes, and he asked, “Are you aware they nearly triggered the hunt around five years ago? The phase-shifting doctors, they were trying to resurrect La Bête du Gévaudan. If your team hadn’t had shut them down, the town would have vanished way back then.”

Stiles muttered, “So what the hell is Scotty planning now? I mean, what could be worse than resurrecting a 200-year-old werewolf?”

Gwyn Ap Nudd leaned back against a tree and said, “A war. Before your task force came in and shut down the doctors, there were a few attacks on humans in Beacon Hills and Oakdale. One of those that was attacked has become a fanatical hunter. She’s on par with Gerard Argent, the man who seems to be financing her efforts. She’s been traveling around the world looking for humans who have been involved in supernatural attacks, drawing them into her army, and spreading misinformation. They are planning to bring the army to Beacon Hills to shut down what she perceives as the origin of all creatures.”

Derek raised his eyebrows. “So she’s a few crayons short of a whole box then?”

The god smirked and nodded. “Essentially. She’s being provoked by Gerard Argent, who we all know is rabid about human superiority.”

Stiles asked, “So the hunt trying to wipe Beacon Hills off the map before they can get started?”

Gwyn Ap Nudd shook his head. “No, most of their hunters are already here. As you know, the hunt is what you call a nuclear option.”

Derek said morosely, “So there is no stopping it?”

With a smirk, Gwyn Ap Nudd shook his head. “Oh, I wouldn’t say that. I can stop it, but there will be conditions, strict conditions that will need to be followed.” He held his hand out, and a piece of paper appeared. “It all depends on how you plan to deal with Tamora Munroe’s little army, especially those who have triggered the near exposure of the supernatural world.”

Derek shrugged, and he said, “We’d treat them like any other rogue we deal with. We would jail the creatures in the supermax prison. The human’s memories of the supernatural would be stripped from them, and they would go to a standard human jail. The only exception would be Gerard; he’s got a cell waiting in the supermax just for him. We can’t trust that the bite hasn’t changed him somehow.”

“That sounds like something we can agree on,” the god said.

He held up the sheet of paper, and he said, “The names on this list require judgment by the Old Gods.”

Stiles nodded. “They won’t survive either way?”

Gwyn Ap Nudd shook his head., “Probably not. They are a clear and present danger to the supernatural world.” He passed over the sheet to the two alphas. “Here’s my offer. I will give you three months to clean up the mess. I will return all those in limbo within 24 hours. However, I will be leaving a small pack of my Cwn Annwn hounds who will bring those on the list to us for judgment.”

He whistled loudly, and they watched as eight white, wolf-sized dogs with red-tipped ears and tails came out of the trees to sit calmly beside the god.

Stiles squealed, “Cwn Annwn puppies! They are so cute!”

The god looked at him like he was crazy. “They are vicious and bloodthirsty hounds of hell. They aren’t cute.”

Derek chuckled. “Stiles has a warped perception of cute.” He looked down at the list of names. He recognized most of them, and he knew not everyone would be happy with it. “Is the list negotiable at all? The parents of two of them are members of our pack.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd shook his head. “No, not at all. That list consists of the biggest risks to the secrecy of the supernatural world. By either their actions or inactions, each of them is a threat to the secrecy of the supernatural to the world. The false alpha is guilty of both. He first came to our attention when he worked with a hunter and forced you to give that hunter the bite against your will. His actions are abhorrent, and his inactions have led to attacks on humans.” He could see the dismay on their faces. “Look, it’s not a death sentence, yet. We will judge them fairly on their actions and inactions. You’ll be notified of the results once it’s all settled.”

Derek sighed, and he passed the list to Stiles. He was busy trying to get one of the Cwn Annwn hounds to come over for a cuddle. Stiles read through the list and said, “I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’m not, and I can completely understand. Well, except for Theo Raeken. Who is he?”

Derek explained, “He’s one of Scott’s betas. He was one of the chimeras created by the doctors.”

The alphas both looked up when they heard an undignified snort from the welsh god. “He was the one who kidnapped the kids who were later experimented on. Most of them were orphans, but he still kidnapped them and helped the doctors with their experiments. He wants to be an alpha.”

Derek asked, “So how do we care for the Cwn Annwn while we have them? How will they take those from the list?”

Gwyn Ap Nudd shrugged. “Just care for them like any other dog. They are pack animals, and they will respect pack hierarchy. When I am not around, they will obey you both as the pack alphas or whoever you assign them to guard. They are partial to raw meat, especially deer, and they’ll love to run with the pack. They will work like my riders. When they take someone, they will vanish from the world, and their target will be brought to us for final judgment. The only people who will remember them are the Hale Pack. In the case of Scott McCall and Allison Argent, their betas will also remember them.”

Stiles commented, “There are more puppies than there are people on the list.”

“You’re an observant little shit, aren’t you.” The god said with a chuckle. “Consider the two that remain as a gift. They will be helpful in your duties with the task force. I may stop in from time to time to check on them, but otherwise, they will remain with the pack.”

He decided against telling them about their skill in disappearing. Like the shadow travel of the hellhound, his Cwn Annwn had the ability to go completely invisible. This included hiding their scent and sounds from detection.

Derek smirked. “I guess we need to find a new vet for the town.”

Stiles said, “I heard Gretchen was looking for a change. She would be able to give Danny more training in how to do the emissary stuff now that we are home, and she’s a qualified vet.”

Derek laughed, “You can debate that one with your uncle; she’s one of his druids.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd asked, “So we’re in agreement? You’ll clean up their mess in three months, and you’ll lead the Cwn Annwn to the six on the list?”

Derek nodded. “It’ll be hard to explain this to the bosses, but we both agree with the level of risk they pose. I think both Sam and Clive will agree as well.”

Stiles nodded. “I’m already sure that Gerard’s actions are the cause of at least two of the previous hunts. I recognized the names on the boards in the train station.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd demanded, “How?”

Stiles explained, “The FBI file rooms have various wards, including one that prevents magical tampering. Any files contained in the rooms seem to have been unaffected by the magic that removes the existence of the towns once the hunt is complete. During one of my research binges, I remember reading the reports on Pripyat, Canaan, Garnet, and Trenton. I know that the events that preceded Canaan and Trenton being wiped off the map were engineered by Gerard and his merry band of murderous thugs. I would need to get access to the file rooms in DC to confirm my theory that he’s behind the other two I remember reading.”

The god nodded. “He’s managed to skip town before the hunt could find him each time. He is the top priority. I would recommend leaving the false alpha, his mate, and his emissary until after you have captured Gerard Argent.”

The alphas both agreed, and Stiles confirmed, “We’ll do our best. I hope you don’t expect him in perfect condition, though. I do owe him for the treatment I received in his basement.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd grinned malevolently, “As long as we get him, we don’t care what condition he’s in.”

Chapter Sixteen

June 19th, 2017

Stiles and Derek ran back to the house in their full-shift form, with the pack of Cwn Annwn dogs chasing them.

The pack came out to join them and to check out the recent additions to the pack. The alphas both transformed when they approached the pack, and everyone leaned down to pat the various hounds that had gathered around them.

Stiles explained, “They have given us three months to fix the mess. However, there are six who have been summoned for judgment by the Old Gods. They are deemed to be a high risk of obliterating the secrecy.”

He looked sorrowfully at the two parents. “Scott and Allison are both on the list. I’m sorry, but Gwyn Ap Nudd said they were non-negotiable.”

Melissa had a few tears already falling, but she nodded in acceptance of the inevitable. Chris said, “Honestly, I’m surprised he didn’t demand they be sacrificed now.”

Derek shook his head. “They want Gerard. He’s the cause of several of the most recent hunts. The Old Gods, well, they are done with his shit. We all agreed that if we hand over the others too fast, Gerard will skip town again to avoid the hunt.”

Stiles said, “He said those that were taken by the hunt from Beacon County will be returned over the next 24 hours. It’s unlikely the mundane population will remember anything being different, but we are hopeful the pack will remember.”

Derek suggested, “We’ll do some extra patrols over the next few days, just to be sure there aren’t any issues.”

-x-

Adam was the last to return to the pack. He said, “Gwyn Ap Nudd, and can I just say that meeting him was utterly terrifying, but he said that those with pack bonds will remember the hunt, but the mundane population won’t remember a thing. For them, the last week will have seemed absolutely normal.”

Derek asked, “What about Scott and his pack?”

Adam shrugged. “I’m not sure, and I didn’t want to ask any questions, ya know.”

Stiles chuckled. “He didn’t seem that scary. But then we saw him relaxing on the ground in a three-piece suit as we chatted about the hunt.”

Adam nodded. “I can see that. He is a nature god, after all. But yeah, I’m not sure about Scott’s pack or any of the other packs affected. I noticed several wolves in the station that were gathered together.”

Derek said, “Well, hopefully, Scott doesn’t find out. The last thing we need is Gerard getting wind of it and running again.”

Jackson asked, “Do we know if he’s actually in town?”

Connor and Jordan both shook their heads, and Jordan confirmed, “We haven’t seen him at all, but there has been an influx of new residents. We were going to bring it up once the Wild Hunt business was sorted.”

“So Gerard’s army is in town.” Derek said with resignation, “We should probably head to the office. We can update Sam and start looking into the new people in town, see if we can confirm links to Gerard or this Monroe person.”

Stiles asked, “What about the team in Sacramento? When are they going to arrive in town?”

Derek checked his phone, and he answered, “They’ll be here in a few hours. They are just packing up and checking out of the hotel. They are going to drop their bags off here, before meeting us at the office to get the tech side of the office setup. Peter is still a few days away. He has the library all packed up and ready for the specialized shipping container to arrive. He’s booked on a chartered cargo flight in a few days.”

-x-

Danny headed straight to his floor in the new building. They had a dedicated server room that took up the entire third floor. The equipment had arrived, but it all needed to be set up by his team. The servers would be dedicated to hunting down videos of supernatural exposure. They had a system set up so they would know where the task force was needed. The system would then set up the videos to be altered, so they would seem fake. The alterations were automated. However, they needed the human sign-off before being finalized.

The rest of the pack entered the second floor. Derek and Stiles headed to the office they shared as team leads. They wanted to get a head start on their investigation into Tamora Monroe. Jackson, Adam, and the twins got set up in their new bullpen, as they began to investigate the list of new residents they had received from Jordan. The two Cwn Annwn hounds they had brought with them followed Derek and Stiles into their office, and they lay down on the floor in subtle guard positions.

In Stiles’ opinion, the best part of the second floor was the large blank wall that was set up purely to be used as a crime wall for their more extensive cases.

The ground floor would be set up later, once their admin staff had moved in. It would have the appearance of an average office. It would function as a decoy for when they had visitors.

Derek said, “Tamora Monroe just started at the high school as a guidance counselor. I wonder if Ken knows her.”

Stiles shook his head. “Not sure I want to expose Ken to her, to be honest. She barely even passes a background check. It’s like the school just doesn’t care anymore.”

Derek snorted. “Did they ever? They hired Gerard as a principal. Even Harris kept his job, no matter how many complaints were made about his favoritism and harassment.”

Stiles nodded. “Good point. So I’ve started a deeper background check into Tamora Monroe, and I sent a request to Danny to pull her financials. I’m hoping she will lead us to Gerard. How did Sam take the news about our meeting with Gwyn Ap Nudd?”

Derek shrugged. “He’s disappointed he won’t be able to put Gerard in the cell beside Kate’s, but he understands the reasoning. We just need to convince the old man to come to town.”

Stiles snarked, “If he’s not already here.”

Jackson peeked in the doorway. “So every single person on that list Jordan gave us is connected with Monroe. She either paid for their tickets to town, or she has been in contact with them since they arrived. None of them appear to be affiliated with any known hunting family. We’ve got the crime wall started already. Aiden is following some leads the searches gave us. He wants to see if he can figure out any other members of her army who may not have arrived in town yet. Adam is concentrating on locating Gerard. I’m working with Ethan.” He glared at the chuckles from his two team leads. With a huff, he said, “We are building the crime wall, tracking the connections.”

Stiles nodded. “Thanks, Jackson. We’ll come out and help soon. I’m just waiting on a background check to run on Monroe, and I think Derek is looking into the other name on the list, Theo Raeken.”

Derek nodded. “He’s completely snowed Scott. His entire background has more holes than the plot of a bad movie.”

The two hounds perked up at the thought of prey. Stiles leaned down to scratch the closest one behind the ears. He murmured, “We really should give you guys names.”

Derek said flatly, “No Stiles, they are not all ours to keep. If you name them, you will want to keep them.”

Stiles laughed. “We are keeping them, two of them at least. Probably these two since they have stuck to us like glue since we got up this morning.”

Derek agreed. “You’re not wrong, although they could just be sticking with us knowing we’ll get them close to their target.”

Stiles shook his head. “No, I don’t think so. They know we aren’t taking them all straight away. Asora is taking care of the rest of the pack back at the house. He sent a few photos earlier. It looks like they are having fun.”

Derek stood, and one of the hounds stood to follow him as he walked out the room. He stood in front of the wall where they had placed the photos of the six people from the list Gwyn Ap Nudd had given them.

Stiles followed him and asked, “What are you thinking, Sourwolf?”

Derek tapped the photo of Theo and suggested, “What if we take him first. He doesn’t seem to be essential to anything, he’s more likely to get in the way, and he’s also expected to stir up the hunters.”

Adam agreed. “I asked Jordan about Theo. He said he wormed his way into Scott’s pack, using a lot of half truths and evasion. He said that to him, it looked like the chimera was trying to gain Scott’s trust, like he wants to become his second in command.”

Stiles agreed. “Isaac is his second, according to Connor. He doesn’t say much in the few meetings he’s attended, apparently. He just rolls over for whatever Scott wants.”

Derek nodded sadly. “Maybe he’s still pining for Scott. He’s not going to take his disappearance well.”

Stiles shrugged. “He’s probably lucky he’s not on the list, in all honesty. I think that the fact that Scott only listens to Dr. Deaton, probably worked in Isaac’s favor. Scott was never good at taking advice from others.”

Adam asked, “Do we know why Allison is on the list?”

Derek shook his head. “I would say it’s due to her contact with Gerard. She claimed it’s just occasional phone calls, but what if it’s not? What if she’s giving him information? What if she’s the reason he’s targeting Beacon Hills?”

Stiles asked, “You think she lied about their calls when she was interviewed last year? That she was able to get around the werewolf lie detector?”

Derek shook his head. “Maybe not then, but since then, after Kate was arrested. She always was close to her aunt; she could be reacting to her arrest by siding with her grandfather.” He shrugged. “Who knows?”

Stiles said, “So we take Theo. Get him out of the way first, then we subtly push Allison into contacting her grandfather to let him know that the Hale Pack has returned to town. That will hopefully draw him and the rest of their hunters in. The hard part will be reducing collateral damage.”

Jackson asked, “So what do we know about this Theo guy? I recall Asora commented that he was unemployed last year.”

Derek replied, “According to the background check I ran and the information from Asora, he’s still unemployed. He’s done a few odd jobs, but nothing serious or long-term. As far as we can tell, he’s been couch surfing, so we are unsure where he is currently living.”

Adam offered, “When Dalton arrives, we can grab one of the hounds and scout out his known hangouts. We can try to capture him before Scott and his pack really start paying attention to the activities of our pack.”

Jackson said, “What if we use Munroe to lure Gerard in. We could let her overhear us talking to Ken at the school about returning to take back the territory. If we head to the school, we can scope her out. If they question us about why we are at the school, we can say we are helping Ken pack up his classroom.”

Derek nodded. “Text Ken and make sure he’s actually at the school. Loop him in on the plan.”

Jackson fired off a quick salute as he and Ethan left the room.

-x-

They were putting details up on the crime wall, photos of the various mundanes who had been brought to town by Monroe, and any details they could find on each person.

Stiles asked, “Do you think the confirmation of us returning to town would be enough to draw in Gerard?”

Derek shrugged. “Maybe. We could make it more enticing by mentioning that it was us that got Kate arrested.”

Stiles scowled. “And put you in his crosshairs? No thanks.”

Derek chuckled. “We have the advantage. The pack is behind us. We have had all the training. So, he won’t win. We just need to draw him out of the hole he’s been hiding in.”

Stiles smirked. “So confident. Are we sure he doesn’t have any tricks up his sleeves? We know from his daughter that he was trying to get his hands on yellow wolfsbane and other poisons that are fatal to wolves. We know he wants those to get rid of the one pack that’s evaded him for so long.”

Derek gestured to the two hounds that were not far away. “We have the Cwn Annwn who can guard us. You know that they can turn invisible, right?”

Stiles asked, “What?”

Derek nodded. “I caught one of them following me last night when I was out for my run. I couldn’t hear its footsteps or see it, but I could hear the twigs and leaves cracking as it was running beside me.”

Stiles pondered. “So they will protect you, Peter, Jackson, and Cora?”

Derek nodded. “I think so. I want you guarded as well. After the basement, Gerard will see you as the one that got away.”

“I think that’s Jackson,” Stiles countered. “After all, Gerard controlled him as the kanima, at least until Lydia was able to free him.”

Derek shrugged. “Maybe, but that’s beside the point. I want you protected, so you’ll have a hound with you at all times.”

Stiles agreed. “Sure, you know I love having the puppies around.”

Derek shook his head as he laughed. “They aren’t puppies, Stiles. They are vicious hounds of hell.”

Stiles was already rolling around on the floor, roughhousing in his full-shift with one of the hounds. One that had already become quite attached to the younger alpha.

Derek muttered under his breath, “As long as you don’t call it Fluffy.”

Stiles shifted back, panting a bit, and he said, “Nope, I’m more likely to call it Sirius, or maybe Padfoot. Even though it’s the wrong color. He’s still a supernatural canine, like Sirius’ animagus form.”

Derek nodded. “I can live with that. Just let me know, and we’ll get him a collar with a tag. While you were horsing around, I sent the text to Jackson to let him know the change to the plan.”

Stiles grinned, “Awesome, oh to be a fly on the wall to watch her reactions. Wait, does the school still have the cameras set up?”

Derek nodded. “Let’s go talk to Danny, see if we can get into the system.”

-x-

Jackson received the text from Derek as he pulled into the high school. They had to wait until Ken had arrived before they could use the excuse of helping him.

He sent a quick text to Ken to let him know they had arrived, and Ken confirmed that Monroe was roaming the corridors.

They strolled through the halls, hoping to bump into their prey. Ethan asked, “Is it weird being back?”

Jackson nodded. “Yeah.”

The woman in question walked past. Her face showed disinterest, but to the two wolves, her scent and heartbeat radiated curiosity. Jackson turned to her and said, “Excuse me.” When she turned and gave him a once over, he hid a smirk, and he said with an air of faux nervousness, “Uh, hi. We’re looking for Ken Yukimura. We offered to help him sort out his classroom.”

She smiled at them and said, “I’d be happy to help you find him. Tell me your name again?”

Jackson thought to himself. ‘Hook, line, and sinker.’ He replied, “Jackson.”

She tilted her head, and she asked, “Jackson Whittemore?”

With a smirk on his face, Jackson said, “… Yeah. You’ve heard of me?”

Ken came jogging down the hallway just as someone joined Monroe with something hidden in their hand. He called out, “There you are. Come on, I have a heap of boxes to carry out to the car. I could use your strong, young arms.”

Jackson and Ethan walked toward him, and just as they were about to turn the corner, Jackson called out, “Thanks for your help.”

She smiled and waved, but the betas both knew she was angry at the interruption. As soon as they were out of sight, Jackson whispered, “What do you think she was planning?”

Ethan offered, “I could smell electricity on the guy that joined her, so maybe tasers? Maybe they planned to capture us both for information.”

Jackson smirked. “Danny will let us know when someone is listening outside the room, so we’ll know when to start talking about Derek.”

Ethan asked, “So they think that hearing that Derek is back will draw the old man in?”

Jackson nodded. “You haven’t met the guy, have you? It will be like taking candy from a baby. He has a hard-on for killing the Hales; we just don’t know why. He’s been targeting this territory since 2003.”

Ken suggested, “We suspect it’s the Nemeton, which isn’t logical since he can’t access it, and he hasn’t been able to since we arrived in town.”

Jackson asked, “Does he know that? I guess it depends on what he’s been told by Scott and Allison.” He looked down when his phone beeped, and he showed it to Ken, who grinned.

He knew what they needed to entice the fanatical hunter, so he asked, “So, you’re all back here permanently now?”

Jackson grinned. “Yep, we all finally finished our degrees, so Alpha Hale said it was time to go home. I think he just wants to marry his mate in their hometown. I know Peter and Cora are happy to be back home.”

Ken said, “I bet they are. It’s been rough for them since the fire. I know when I taught Derek at NYU after the fire, he was a mess.”

Ethan explained, “He’s doing so much better now. He’s a great alpha, far better than the last one we had.”

Ken asked, “Oh, who was that?”

“Deucalion,” Jackson said with a sneer. “He was a megalomaniac. Things around here got so much better after he was arrested.”

Ken asked, “So you’re not from Beacon Hills, Ethan?”

Ethan shook his head, “No, myself and my brother were from a town about four hours drive south of here. But we like what we’ve seen of Beacon Hills so far.”

-x-

Danny was grinning back in his control center as he watched Monroe and the man they had identified as Trent Morgan. They were outside the classroom, clearly listening in to the private conversation.

Cora snarked, “Look at her. She has zero chill. You can read her like a book. Look at the glee on her face as she is texting. Dollars to donuts she’s texting the old man to let him know Derek is back in town.”

Kira smiled from her desk. “Now we just need the old man to arrive so the hounds can take him.”

Chapter Seventeen

June 22nd, 2017

When Peter arrived in town, they had their first full pack meeting. It would be an excellent way to catch up with where they were at, but they also explained the Cwn Annwn hounds and their plans for capturing everyone.

They were now down to seven hounds. Adam and Dalton were able to take down Theo without even really trying.

Adam was still laughing as he explained, “We bumped into him as he was storming out of one of the coffee shops in town. I hid down the alley beside the shop, and one of the hounds was waiting, invisible, at the entrance of the alley for him to pass. I flashed my beta eyes at him when I saw him, and I growled a little, just to tempt him further. As soon as he entered the alley to confront me, the hound grabbed hold of his arm, and ‘poof,’ they were gone.”

Stiles checked the list the god had given them, and he found it had crossed Theo Raeken off the list. He held up the list, and he said, “Oh hey, it looks like the list is self-updating.”

Derek grabbed the list when Stiles passed it over. “Good to know. So we just need Gerard to arrive in town. We can grab him, then work on the other four.”

Stiles stated, “Deaton should be near the top of our list. He’s still trying to get near the Nemeton. The dumb bastard tried again last night. He waited until we were busy eating dinner. He didn’t get through the wards, and from what they reported, he went away in a decent amount of pain again. The dickhead just doesn’t learn.”

Connor laughed. “He doesn’t, no. We also need to do the ritual to remove me from the wards. My transfer has been processed, and I’ll be leaving as soon as I have worked out my notice at the station.”

Melissa asked, “You can’t stay?”

Connor smiled sadly as he said, “No, there is a pack near the Nemeton in France that needs help. Help that I am able to offer, thanks mostly to the Hale Pack. My wolf is an odd one because it is more flexible than other alpha wolves; I don’t need a pack to keep my wolf happy.”

Melissa asked, “You’ll stay in touch, though, right?”

Connor agreed readily. “Of course, and I’ll visit as often as I can.”

Stiles offered, “How about we head to the Nemeton tomorrow night? We can get the wards updated for the territory. I would like to add Peter, Jackson, and Asora to the notifications. Especially with Deaton being so persistent.”

Peter muttered, “Why not just ask one of the Cwn Annwn to patrol near the Nemeton. Then the next time he tries, they can take him.”

Derek nodded. “Agreed. It would be nice to get a night of uninterrupted sleep.”

Noah asked, “Am I going to need to come up with a cover story for their disappearances?”

Stiles shrugged. “Maybe. We aren’t sure, but we’ll be able to help you with that. It’s more the FBI’s deal, anyway. I’m pretty sure Gwyn Ap Nudd said the hounds work the same way as the wraiths, that the magic works in the same way as the Hunt. We probably won’t know until Scott reports Theo missing, if he even notices.”

By the end of the meeting, they decided that the Cwn Annwn would stick to Derek, Peter, Cora, Jackson, and Stiles. They were deemed the most at risk of being attacked by Gerard and his army.

-x-

A few days later, Derek and Stiles were working in their office in town. Derek was working on tracing Monroe’s steps through Europe. At the same time, Stiles looked into the reports of random attacks in and around Beacon Hills. So far, no one had died, but a few people had been hospitalized with gunshot wounds that were not healing. Noah had called earlier to report that someone had shot at the McCall house with an automatic rifle of some sort. He suspected the hunters had been looking for Melissa, so they could use her for leverage.

Derek asked suddenly, “Did you put intent wards on the station?”

Stiles had felt the same ward notification, so he nodded slowly as he started to pale, “Sort of. They aren’t the normal intent wards. I had to set them to where there has to be an immediate danger to everyone at the station before they warn us.”

Derek stared at him, wide-eyed. “Just how much danger?”

Stiles stood. “Something like a bomb threat would do it. We’ll have to go investigate, call Asora, tell him to bring the hounds. I’ll go and get us ready.”

He left the office and sprinted up to the third floor. “Danny, what’s going on at the station? The intent wards just went off.”

Danny and Cora started typing furiously as Kira said, “I’ll go down and help Derek get our gear ready.”

“Thanks, Kira,” Stiles acknowledged absently.

He had started to watch the camera feeds that Danny was able to pull up. He could see a gathering of at least fifteen armed hunters outside the sheriff’s station and Gerard standing smug as you please in the middle of the group. “Shit. Are we sure that’s Gerard? What’s he planning?”

Danny shook his head. “Yeah, facial recognition confirmed it this time. I’m not sure what they’re planning, but if it’s setting off the wards, it can’t be good. I’ll stay here to hijack the camera feeds and set them up to record a safe loop on their systems. I’ll capture the footage on our own servers for evidence, just in case.”

Stiles nodded. “Thanks, Danny. Cora, are you coming with us?”

Cora nodded, and she stood with grim determination. She snapped her fingers, and the Cwn Annwn that had been tailing her followed along happily.

As they got to the stairwell, Danny called out, “Stiles! Scott and Allison just turned up with Monroe.”

Stiles rolled his eyes. “So it’s like that.”

He walked into their locker room as the team was gearing up. He reported, “Gerard is outside the sheriff’s station with approximately fifteen hunters, Scott, Allison, and Monroe. Asora is on his way with the hounds that were chilling at home.”

Derek corrected, “He said one is patrolling the Nemeton, and he won’t return when called.”

Stiles nodded. “That’s fine. Six should be enough with all of us, plus Dad, Chris, Jordan, and Connor, who are all at the station.”

Peter shook his head. “Jordan is waiting for us downstairs.” He flushed slightly. “We were having lunch together when you sent out the alert. He hasn’t heard from anyone at the station, so he’s not sure if they’re aware of what’s going on.”

Stiles’ eyes widened. “Shit, I didn’t think of that. None of those on the ward notifications work for Dad. I’ll definitely have to fix that.”

Peter asked, “What’s the plan?”

Derek pulled a floor plan of the station from a filing cabinet in their conference room, which doubled as a war room. Stiles placed post-it flags to indicate the locations of Gerard’s group according to the camera footage.

Jackson looked at the floor plans before he pulled out a street map that showed the town center. He suggested, “We could go through the garage to get to the bullpen. We know the station has the wards you added to prevent eavesdropping by magical means, so we should be good to plan our defense with your dad and his deputies. Stiles, you can do that thing that amplifies your voice. You could use that to find out what he wants from the safety of the station.”

Stiles agreed, “I’ll do the spell on Derek. That would throw the old man off his game a bit more.”

Derek grinned wolfishly. “It’s the last thing he would want. I’m surprised they are at the sheriff’s station, though. I can’t think of what they have to gain from it.”

Dalton scoffed. “He probably thinks the station has fewer wards, so it would do more damage to the town. Or maybe he thinks he can take over as sheriff.”

Stiles said, “Or he’s hoping to take someone for leverage? We still don’t know why they shot the McCall house up last night.”

Jackson agreed. “If he’s getting his information from McCall, then he probably believes he can force a takeover due to bad unsolved stats. It’s likely he has tried to get at least one of the deputies on his payroll. It would make it easier for them to force the issue from the inside.”

Ethan said, “With what we’ve found about Monroe, she’s been spreading the secret far and wide, but with no actual proof. It’s likely she’s swayed a few that were not officially in the know, but they have seen enough of the Beacon Hills weirdness to believe her without actual proof.”

Adam suggested, “We should use the escape tunnel to get to the station. He probably has the perimeter under observation. Peter, why don’t you grab Jordan and meet us in the basement so we can get moving.”

Peter jogged down the stairs and pulled Jordan into the stairwell silently before making his way down to the basement. He let Jordan know their plan before they met up with the rest of the unit.

They had set the building up with an escape tunnel, similar to what they had set up under the new house. It let them out near the sheriff’s station garage entrance.

Jordan offered, “Let me go first. You guys can put your hearing into practice to see if anyone sees me. Just be on guard. The cameras won’t see any snipers, so keep your ears peeled.”

Derek nodded. “Sounds good. Asora and Noshiko are with the hounds; they are waiting behind the group of hunters. Honestly, they are holding the hounds back. They are pretty keen to bite their targets.”

Jordan left the tunnel through the door beside the bakery. It was unobtrusive and just looked like the bakery had an extra entry for deliveries. The wolves all stretched their hearing and couldn’t hear anyone paying extra attention to the hellhound. Stiles whispered, “Are they seriously focusing their attention on the front of the building?”

Derek murmured back, “Stop trying to apply logic to hunters. You know damn well the only ones who are capable of logic and rational thinking, are the ones who quit.”

They slowly left the tunnel as a group, and they made their way into the station’s garage, where Jordan was holding the door open.

-x-

Meanwhile, at the Nemeton, Gwyn Ap Nudd was sitting against the stump, patting the Cwn Annwn who had refused to leave with the other hounds. He could sense his prey was close, and he didn’t want to miss the opportunity to grab his target.

The Old God had altered the wards slightly. He wanted to let the darach get closer to the Nemeton without giving him access to the sacred tree.

Alan Deaton was using the gathering in the town center as a distraction. He wanted to try a new ritual to try and get access to the sacred tree. In his opinion, as Talia Hale’s emissary until her untimely death and as the emissary to the True Alpha of Beacon Hills, he was the only person with the right to access the Nemeton. He felt that the upstart pack had no right to restrict access to the ancient node.

He found the wards missing as he approached, and with a confident grin, the druid walked in what they could only call a strut toward the tree. He stopped as he saw a man sitting at the base of the tree, petting a large white wolf.

He demanded, “Who are you?”

Gwyn Ap Nudd stood fluidly, and he said, “Are you that far gone in your dark rituals? Do you no longer recognize one of the Old Gods, Druid Deaton?” He tilted his head and examined the druid. “Or perhaps that should be Darach Deaton.”

Deaton glared at the man. “How dare you!”

The god raised an eyebrow in challenge and said, “Did you not do a dark ritual on a stubborn deluded beta to make him an alpha, then spin lie after lie, so he believes he’s some sort of werewolf messiah?”

Deaton stood firm as he defended his actions. “He rose to Alpha by his own will.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd rolled his eyes, and he said dryly, “Keep telling yourself that. Are you aware that when you die, the ritual will end?”

Deaton shrugged. “So?”

Shadows started to form into figures that stepped out from the trees surrounding the clearing. They intoned together, “We the Old Gods have passed judgment on you, Alan Deaton. We have found you guilty of subverting the balance for your own gain. You have practiced dark and corrupted magic, all in the name of a wish to control the Nemeton. They are not supposed to be controlled. They are a sacred grove for those of your kind. Furthermore, we have decreed that you are a grave threat to the secrecy of the supernatural world. Our judgment is final.”

Deaton staggered back, and he attempted to run, but he found the way blocked by several more large hounds. The man in front of him said, “We have notified the Druid Council, the Hunter’s Council, and the various supernatural task forces around the world of our ruling.”

Deaton demanded, “Who do you think you are to pass such judgments.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd gestured behind him. “We are the Gods of Old. I am Gwyn Ap Nudd, the God of the Underworld and the leader of the Wild Hunt.” He gestured to the red-haired man crouched down in front of the hound beside him and introduced, “This is Arawn, King of Annwn. Around the clearing, you will see my wife, Ceridwen, as well as Gwydion, Arianrhod, Rhiannon, and several others who wish to remain nameless.”

As Deaton tried to stammer a retort, the god overheard Arawn asking, “Do you want to stay, pup?”

The hound barked once in ascent, before he weaved his way through the gods standing by the Nemeton to wait at the edge of the clearing closest to the Hale House.

“Darach Deaton,” Gwyn Ap Nudd intoned as he called on two of his Ghost Riders, who took hold of Deaton’s arm. “Your sentence is death. You will spend an eternity in Purgatory, never resting, always running.”

The god smiled as the riders vanished with a screaming Darach in their arms. He turned to the other gods and goddesses as they observed the druid being taken away. Once he was gone, most of them left quietly.

Ceridwen put her hand on the fledgling tree and said, “So much has been done to harm the Nemeton here, my love. I believe it would have been better to let the hunt run its course.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd shook his head. “No, I think the pack that has returned is exactly what we need. They are a powerful pack, yet they do not seek to abuse that power. They just want to help keep our world safe, and they want to protect those who we love so.”

Arawn agreed, “My Cwn Annwn like them enough to want to stay. Never has an entire pack of my hounds wanted to stay in the waking world. I have been watching the pack closely, and I am pleased with what I have seen. They have involved the hounds in their planning, but they have also made sure their plans don’t put my hounds at risk of harm. The alphas already consider them pack, even though they believe their stay was temporary.”

The god of Annwn snapped his fingers, and the hound that had previously taken Theo to the underworld returned to the clearing. His tail was wagging in happiness. He pets the hound as he murmured, “It shall be your choice. You and your pack may return to the Hale Pack after you bring us our prey. All I ask is for is occasional visits; please let us know how you’re fairing.”

He stood and gave the hound a scratch behind the ears before he sent him off to join his pack mate on the edge of the clearing.

Ceridwen sighed, “You are that sure, absolutely sure, that they will protect our Nemeton?”

Gwyn Ap Nudd cupped her face in his hands and said, “Reach out with your senses. I know you can feel their wards. They have done what they can to heal the damage done by the darach with his silver tongue. They added the wards to keep the Nemeton safe, as it has been slowly regrowing. Darach Deaton and his many lies and misdirections convinced the previous alpha of this territory to cut it down. The only reason he got close to the Nemeton tonight was that I left a Deaton sized hole in the wards specifically so we could pass judgment in privacy.”

Ceridwen nodded, “The wards are strong. They feel different from anything I’ve felt before.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd agreed, “They were originally set by a druid, but then they were strengthened and maintained by the alpha’s mate, who is an alpha wolf and a spark.”

She snapped her head up in shock. “Impossible!”

The god chuckled and shook his head. “No, just a one in a billion chance. A rogue alpha bit him against his will, and he killed the alpha seconds after the bite. He was able to survive as an alpha, with full access to his magic. He and his mate, with help from their pack, are exactly what our world needs to survive in the modern age.”

Gwydion asked, “Tell me about this task force you mentioned.”

“It’s called the Talos Task Force. I believe it’s a nod to the automaton created by Hephaestus to protect Europa from invaders. The various mundane law enforcement agencies run the task force,” Gwyn Ap Nudd explained. “Their role is to keep the supernatural a secret from the mundane world, while making sure those who put the secrecy at risk are punished appropriately. They built a prison that has custom-made cells for supernatural creatures. They design each cell specifically for the creature within. Werewolves are in cells with mountain ash and wolfsbane embedded in the walls. Jaguars have foxglove and mountain ash. They even cater to kitsune. They have a specialist team who combat the modern world to keep our secrets, altering video so they can claim any shifts caught on camera to be faked footage.”

Gwydion asked, “Will it work?”

Gwyn Ap Nudd shrugged. “I’d like to think so. They need time to prove themselves.”

Ceridwen nodded. “Then they shall have it.” She leaned against the Nemeton, giving it life, as it grew back to its previous height and strength. “A small gift to help them in their efforts.”

The hounds waited until all of the gods had vanished from the clearing, before they ran toward the pack house. They liked the freedom that came with being pack hounds; they were determined to stay as long as the Hale Pack allowed.

Chapter Eighteen

June 27th, 2017

The pack crept into the station slowly and silently. They’d overheard Gerard and Monroe talking about the deputies they had waiting inside to help their takeover.

Derek shook his head at Stiles, who wanted to go in, guns blazing. He signed, ‘Wait! We can flush them out if we stay hidden.’

Stiles grudgingly agreed, and the pack waited silently in the hall. The four Cwn Annwn dogs faded out of view and spread themselves around the deputies waiting in the bullpen at his quiet command.

Stiles sent a message to his father to let him know they were in the building. He let him know that they were waiting for Gerard to make his first move.

Once he had heard his father’s sigh of relief, the alpha put his hand on the wall, and with a push of his magic, he increased the power to the protection wards on the building. He hoped it would give some protection to those inside the building from the armed hunters standing threateningly outside.

He snapped to attention when he heard Gerard call out, “Sheriff Stilinski, please do come out. We’re here to make a citizen’s arrest.”

Stiles could hear his dad snorting when he heard the ridiculous statement, and he shook his head as he chuckled along with him.

One of the bolder deputies stepped forward and said, “Sheriff, you need to get out there. He sounds serious.”

Noah shook his head. “No, he’s a delusional old man with a superiority complex and money to throw around at the easily corruptible. Are you one of those he has corrupted, Deputy Morris? Is there more to you trying to get me to go outside?”

Deputy Morris shook his head. But he knew his heartbeat was giving him away to the supernaturals in the building.

Noah smirked at the deputy. “Deputy Morris, have I ever introduced you to my son?” He turned to the corridor where he knew Stiles was waiting and called out, “Son, you can all come out now.”

The pack filed out of the hallway and spread themselves out around the deputies, specifically hunting out those whose heartbeats were giving them away.

Stiles and Derek took up flanking positions on either side of the Sheriff, and Stiles said, “Hi, I’m Senior Officer Stiles Paddington of MI5 at your service; on the other side of my dad is my counterpart from the FBI, Supervisory Special Agent Derek Hale.”

They both saw the deputy pale, and they grinned when Peter purred, “Oh look, the deputy has heard of you.”

One of the braver of the deputies called out, “MI5 has no jurisdiction in America.”

Stiles smirked and said, “That would normally be the case. Except we are currently on permanent loan to the FBI.”

Noah commented, “Oh, you should tell them about your current case. Especially since it looks like you are going to close it today.”

Derek nodded. “Oh yes. After all, our targets have nicely presented themselves for capture.”

Deputy Morris scoffed, “Capture, not arrest?”

Stiles whistled sharply, and four large white hounds appeared out of nowhere in front of the alphas. He explained, “These are the Cwn Annwn, otherwise known as hounds of hell. The Old Gods have summoned six from Beacon Hills to face judgment. They have loaned us eight of the Cwn Annwn hounds for a short period to assist in capturing their targets. Gerard and several of his co-conspirators have been declared as a danger to the supernatural world by Gwyn Ap Nudd. They will be judged appropriately by the Old Gods, and they are vengeful.”

Deputy Morris sneered, “And what gives them the right?”

Peter chuckled from somewhere beside the deputy, “Are you really that stupid, deputy. Gwyn Ap Nudd is the God of the Underworld. He leads the Wild Hunt, and when all other attempts to protect the supernatural world from exposure have failed, Gwyn Ap Nudd sends them in as a nuclear option.”

Jackson from the other side continued, “When someone like Tamora Monroe uses the Argent purse to spread misinformation and straight-up lies, they send in the Wild Hunt in order to clean up the mess. My alphas had to bust their gut to negotiate a ceasefire. In return, the traitors are to be delivered to the Gods for their punishment.”

“What about those of us that sided with Mr. Argent?” A deputy asked from the group standing by the doors. “What will happen to us?”

Derek explained, “You will have your memories of the supernatural taken, and they will try you in the mundane court system for whatever crimes you have committed.”

He looked around at the pack and requested, “Ethan, Aiden, Dalton, and Adam, can you please take the deputies that seem to be panicking over this news down to the cells. We’ll transfer them to the FBI cells once we have the mess outside sorted.”

Gerard called out, “Our patience grows thin, Sheriff.”

Derek said, “I can hear several weapons being primed. Stiles, how about that loudspeaker spell?”

Stiles nodded. “Probably easier if I just channel the spell.” He put his hand on Derek’s throat. After he pushed a bit of magic, he nodded.

Derek called out, “Gerard Argent, this is SSA Derek Hale from the FBI Talos Task Force. We’ve been looking for you for quite some time. This is an order for you and your compatriots to lay down your arms and surrender quietly.”

At Derek’s look, Stiles removed the magic, and he asked, “What now? I mean, that was the equivalent of waving a red flag in front of a pissed-off bull.”

Derek held up his hand, and he sent a text to Asora stating simply, ‘Be ready to release the hounds.’

Stiles saw the text and chuckled, “That is great. So that will create a distraction. What if we go out the back and surround the hunters? Danny confirmed they are all still hanging around the front. The wards should prevent major damage to the station.”

Chris gestured to Noah, and he said, “We have our rifles here. Do you want some cover from the roof?”

Derek nodded. “That would be good, disabling shots only. Nothing lethal.”

Chris and Noah both nodded, and Tara said, “Valerie and I are going with you. We can help by being your spotters.”

Deputy Valerie Clarke agreed. “We want to help. I just have one question, who are the targets for the hounds?”

Derek raised an eyebrow, and she said, “I know what the Cwn Annwn are, Alpha Hale. You mentioned earlier that they have targets. I would like to know who, partially out of curiosity, but mostly so if they vanish, I won’t panic so much.”

Stiles pulled the list out of his pocket, and he crowed when he saw another name was ticked off. “They dealt with Deaton. Two down, four to go.” He looked up at the faces of the two deputies who seemed shocked, “Oh sorry, so the list was Gerard Argent, Tamora Munroe, Scott McCall, Allison Argent, Alan Deaton, and Theo Raeken. Theo was taken several days ago, something Scotty hasn’t realized, and they took Deaton while we were breaking in here. Which means he probably tried to break into the wards protecting the Nemeton again.”

Valerie looked at Chris in shock. “Your Allison?”

Chris nodded. “She’s been in contact with her grandfather, likely giving him information on Beacon Hills and the Hale Pack. She seems to believe in the same bullshit my father does about human supremacy. I’ve tried so hard to get her to wake up and smell the truth, but she’s just as stubborn as her fiancé.”

“Shit, that sucks, Chris.” she commiserated. She turned to Tara, and she said, “Let’s go get in place to watch their backs.”

Stiles looked around at the rest of the deputies and said, “I’ve put protections up to protect the building, but that’s no guarantee. You’re probably safer down near the cells or out on patrol. Dad said he’s rerouted all the 911 calls to Beacon Valley, so they will be managing the radio tonight.”

Deputy Midland volunteered, “If you can give us a diversion, I think we all agree we’d prefer to be out on patrol. We’ll make sure that whatever the old man is up to doesn’t spill out into the town. What about the four in the basement? Will they be guarded?”

Derek nodded. “Deputies James and Parrish will be guarding them.”

Deputy Midland nodded as he headed for the garages. “Good. Boys, don’t go easy on them.” He looked back at the alphas before he went through the garage door, and he said, “I’ll toot when we are ready, then we’ll give you a minute before we leave.”

Derek nodded. “That sounds great.” He led the pack out through the garages, and they spread out on either side of the hunters. Their plan was to immobilize as many as possible in the chaos before dealing with Gerard. So they were all equipped with tranquilizer darts filled with Jackson’s venom.

As soon as the alpha heard the beep of the horn from the garage, he sent the text to Asora, ‘Release the hounds. Give one the order to capture Ms. Argent, ask the others to be a distraction.’ And he sat back and waited for the chaos to begin.

He could feel Stiles trying to hold in the laughter beside him as the invisible hounds created absolute chaos. They ran through the gathering of hunters as they scouted out their prey. He watched as one of the hounds captured Allison, and she vanished into thin air.

A few of the gathered hunters made a break for it. They were able to quietly tranquilize a few as they went past. However, three of them got away, mainly because capturing them would have given away their position. Derek was confident that Danny would already have their ID from the station’s external cameras.

Gerard and Scott both roared in fury as the remaining hunters raised their weapons, ready to fire on the next hound to cross their path. They were confused, as the hounds had managed to capture one of their own, despite the mountain ash surrounding them. Gerard yelled, “Cowards! At least come out and face us.”

Stiles saw Scott in his beta shift. He nudged Derek and whispered, “Look at his eyes.”

Scott’s eyes were now a brilliant electric blue, something the former alpha was yet to realize. Stiles wondered how his wolf eyes could be blue when the alpha was so against killing people. He wondered if it was the ritual Deaton did to give him an alpha spark.

Stiles and Derek moved out into the open, just inside the wards that Stiles had set up earlier. They knew that their pack would protect them from any trigger-happy hunters.

Scott growled, “Where is Allison? What have you bastards done with her?”

Stiles laughed. “Always quick with the conclusions, Beta McCall. We haven’t done anything with her. The Old Gods took her for judgment. You’ll see her again, I’m sure.”

Derek agreed, “You will.” He addressed the hunters that had accompanied Gerard and Munroe. “This will be your only chance to prove you are redeemable in the eyes of the law. Drop your weapons and surrender.”

Gerard snarled, “Don’t you dare. The Old Gods have no authority over humans.”

Derek asked, “Are you though? Human, I mean. You did force me to give you the bite. I can’t see how you would count as human after that.”

The hunter standing to Gerard’s left lifted his gun with a snarl, and he fired a shot at Derek’s head. Derek didn’t even flinch as the ward sent the bullet back to the hunter.

Derek saw some of the hunters recoil, both at the news that Gerard had taken the bite, along with the way the wards had protected the two alphas, so he stabbed the metaphorical knife in further. “I mean, you went to a lot of effort to get the bite, forcing a Kanima to your will. You even kidnapped the human son of the sheriff, purely so you and your granddaughter could beat him bloody for six hours straight as a message to Beta McCall.”

Stiles waved. “He means me, and it wasn’t just a beating. They both used shock sticks repeatedly on me, to the point that if I hadn’t been bitten, I would have needed a new heart before I turned 20 due to the stress the repeated electric current put on it.”

Monroe shook her head. “Lies, it’s all lies.”

Stiles snarked, “Says the woman who has spent the last two years spreading lies and myths to get people to join your cult.”

Derek roared, “This is your last chance! Drop your weapons and surrender!”

He smirked when he saw how green a few of the hunters were. However, a few of the more fanatical hunters lifted their rifles to shoot the pair of alphas. They figured multiple shots had more of a chance of breaking the ward. For a ward set by a druid, that would definitely be the case, but wards set by sparks are much stronger and more resilient.

The hunters were shot by the pack with tranquilizer darts as soon as the guns came up. The rest surrendered and lay down away from the paralyzed hunters.

Gerard snarled, “What makes you think you can take me?”

Derek shrugged with an air of indifference. “I don’t actually have to.” He whistled sharply, and he smiled as Gerard stumbled back when he saw the five large white hounds standing in front of himself, Monroe and Scott. Derek explained, “These are the Cwn Annwn, the hounds from hell, not to be confused with a hellhound, which is an entirely different beasty. They’ll be taking the three of you for your turn in judgment by the Old Gods. Please do pass on our thanks to Gwyn Ap Nudd for the loan of his hounds.”

One of the hunters that was lying on the ground took aim at the alphas, but before he could fire, a shot rang out from the roof of the station, and the hunter dropped the gun as the bullet impacted their shoulder.

Stiles called out, “We aren’t messing around. Guys, start cuffing them and call in a bus to transport them to our cells.”

Scott cried out, “You can’t do this Stiles, you have no right!”

Derek ignored the beta, and he looked Gerard in the eyes as he asked, “Any last words? No?”

Gerard snarled as Derek and Stiles both waved like children. As the hounds grabbed the arms of their prey, they watched dispassionately as Gerard, Monroe, and Scott vanished before their eyes.

Stiles muttered, “Well, that was anti-climactic. Let’s get these guys processed so we can work on finding the few that managed to run away.”

As the two alphas walked through the mountain ash barrier that was still standing, one of the hunters on the ground asked, “How?”

Stiles smirked, and with a wiggle of his fingers, he said, “Magic.”

Valerie and Tara came outside and offered to help with the arrests. Stiles asked, “Is Chris ok?”

Tara shook her head. “I know they’ve been estranged for years, but she was still his daughter. Your dad is comforting him as he comes to terms with it.”

Stiles nodded sadly. “Melissa is going to need the same, if not more. She was still in contact with Scott. They both understood why it had to happen. It doesn’t make it easier, though.”

Tara gave him a quick hug before she said, “I’m going to help out with the arrests. Let me know if you need anything.”

-x-

With the four deputies they had arrested earlier, they had a total of 19 people on the prison transport bus to be contained in the cells in the basement of the new FBI building.

Derek had updated Sam to let him know they would need help to interview the large number of mundanes they had arrested. He put in a request to see if he could get hold of Tony. He and Jethro were expert interrogators, so they could nail down what the hunters had done, how they had discovered the supernatural, and who else they knew that was part of Gerard and Monroe’s army.

They had a feeling that for everyone they had arrested, there would be another two in the wind who needed to be hunted down and at least interviewed.

Sam agreed to send Charlie and Bryant to assist in the interviews. But the deputy director was a bit worried that they would run out of room to hold all the hunters in Beacon Hills by the time they were done.

Sam suggested, “We have a few portable holding cells that will fit in the garage level of your building. They will need to be warded, but I’m sure Stiles can handle that easy enough.”

Derek agreed. “He can. Clive is sending us a druid who can help him and our emissary out. We are hopeful she will arrive soon, as we have meetings coming up with the other packs in the area to explain the disappearance of Beta McCall. She will be able to help split the load with Danny for the diplomacy side of the meetings.”

Sam asked, “What about his betas? I believe there are four betas that will need to find a new pack.”

“Isaac has let me know they are ok,” Derek confirmed. “He’s been in touch a fair bit over the last few years. I plan to meet with them tomorrow, find out what they want to do. We are going to use the conference room on the first floor. To them, it will be a neutral place to meet.”

Sam agreed. “Sounds good. Keep in touch and let me know if you need more help. I have a few teams that are working on cold cases I could send in.”

“Send them,” Derek said. “We will probably need them to hunt down the full army when it’s all said and done.”

Sam hung up, and he arranged early flights for the two teams, as well as Charlie and Bryant.

Derek checked on the holding cells, and Stiles confirmed that those in the standard cells were mundane. Most of them had been twisted by Munroe and her misinformation.

Derek asked, “It looks like there are some missing?”

Stiles nodded, “I have a couple in the warded cells downstairs. Two are from the Calaveras family. There is also a hunter from the Eventide family. I believe she is Victoria Argent’s cousin.”

Derek looked over the faces of the various mundane prisoners. They would need to lose their memories of the supernatural at the minimum, and some would be facing lengthy prison sentences.

Stiles said, “I put the locals in the cells at the end. It turns out several had been exposed to the supernatural; either because of Scott shifting in front of them or doing nothing to prevent an attack of a feral on a human before James could get involved.”

Derek shook his head. “We probably should have visited more often, done more to help James keep the area secure.”

Stiles disagreed, “Look, what happened sucked, but how were we to know just how corrupted Scotty was. Even I never thought he could be that delusional, and he was my best friend for years. What’s done is done. Now we just have to clean up the mess.”

Chapter Nineteen

June 24th, 2017

Stiles woke slowly in his exhaustion. They had managed to round up another ten members of Munroe and Gerard’s army. It turned out Munroe had come to Gerard’s attention when she was recruiting for her army in Europe. She’d discovered the story about La Bête du Gévaudan and had been researching in the old libraries in France.

Stiles whispered, “When do you think we’ll hear from the old ones?”

Derek shrugged. “Soon, I hope. I know the wait is killing Chris and Melissa. Dominique has kept the judge updated on our progress. He’s glad that the hunter army he’d heard rumors about has been effectively shut down.”

Stiles took a calming breath. “I completely forgot about him. I guess he’ll be happy to know that Gerard is likely dead and will never return.”

“Dominique said he sounded unusually chipper,” Derek confirmed. “Hopefully, that will help us out in the long run. She let him know that we have prevented The Wild Hunt, for now, and that the Old Gods were passing judgment on the six that have been taken.”

Stiles snuggled down into Derek. “I’m shattered, and I don’t want to get up, but we have Tony, Jethro, and Gretchen arriving today.”

Derek nodded. “I know. We also have that meeting with Scott’s former betas this afternoon. Corey and Mason are visiting for the weekend to find out what happened.”

They heard a knock on their door, and Jackson poked his head in. “Sorry guys, there is a car pulling into the driveway. I think it’s the guys from London.”

Derek let his head drop to the pillow. “Thanks, Jackson. We’ll be down shortly.”

The alpha got up, and he started the shower in their large ensuite. He chuckled as he saw Stiles trying to burrow into their blankets. He sat on the edge of the bed. “Come on, Lil Red, we can take a vacation when the mess is cleaned up. I can smell waffles and bacon, which means Peter’s cooking, and you know that doesn’t last long.”

Stiles poked his head out of the blanket nest, and he pouted. “I don’t care. I’m tired, I just want to sleep.”

Before he could react, Derek had stripped the blankets off the bed and had Stiles off the bed in a fireman’s carry.

Stiles was shrieking, “Don’t you dare, Sourwolf!”

The alpha ignored him and walked them both into the shower stall before placing his mate on his feet.

Stiles poked him in the chest. “That was unnecessary, and you know it!” He looked down at his sleep pants that were already soaked, and he watched with growing interest as Derek dropped to his knees to help him out of them.

-x-

Tony smirked at his cousin when they finally came downstairs. “Busy morning?”

Stiles flicked him the bird and kept walking to the coffeepot. Derek said, “He was planning to stay in bed all day. I had to distract him. It’s been a busy few days.” He looked around the kitchen before he asked, “Where’s Gretchen?”

Tony said, “We dropped her off at the Animal Clinic this morning. The lawyers have already accepted her offer on the practice. She’s there assessing what needs to be altered before she can reopen.”

Gibbs asked, “Clive said you have people that need interrogating?”

Derek nodded. “Yeah, we’ve got a few stubborn hunters who are resisting all non-magical attempts for interrogation. We could use magic, but it invalidates the interview, as we can’t use the transcripts in court.”

Gibbs grinned. “We’ll crack them. Do you know why they are holding out?”

“They are the actual hunters,” Derek confirmed. “A couple of Calaveras, the Eventide matriarch, and they tried to hide their family affiliation, but we found a couple of Gilpatrick hunters.”

Jethro said, “I remember reading about them. Their reputation is supposed to be squeaky clean.”

Derek shrugged. “Well, somehow, they got caught up in this mess. It’s not going to look good for them when the Hunter’s Council finds out.”

Tony asked, “So you need a list of names of others involved, but you also need to know if they are there on behalf of their families? Anything else?”

Stiles said, “It would be nice to know if Gerard roped them in or if they joined because of Munroe’s little tour. Especially since the Gilpatrick family is supposed to be Europe based.”

Tony nodded. “Should we get Uncle Clive to pull in the family’s patriarch for questioning?”

Stiles shook his head. “Not yet. I would rather wait until we know more first. Charlie and Bryant are our best interrogators, and they are already on site. They are staying in the rooms on the fourth floor of our new building.”

Tony stood. “We’ll head in now.” At Gibbs’ noise of protest, he clarified, “We’ll be stopping on the way for coffee.”

Stiles laughed. “We have the good coffee machines on each floor of our building and a decent supply of coffee. And trust me, it’s better than what they serve at the only coffee shop in town. Its dishwater they claim is coffee.”

Derek agreed. “We cater for coffee fiends at the office. You should have access to the third floor kitchen. There is a jar on the coffee shelf labeled ‘Toxic Waste,’ that’s a Gibbs strength coffee.”

Stiles added, “I just put a pot of it on in the kitchen. It should be ready in a few minutes. We have a bunch of travel mugs in the cupboard above the machine.”

-x-

Jackson took the twins and Danny into the station with Tony and Gibbs. Jackson, Ethan, and Aiden wanted to observe the interviews to see how they could improve their techniques. And Danny was knee-deep in the camera footage from the confrontation. He wanted to see if he could clean up the images to identify all those who ran.

On the way to the office, Stiles and Derek stopped in to see Gretchen at the clinic. They wanted to check in and see how she was going and talk to her about giving Danny more training for the emissary position.

She glomped Derek, and she said, “It’s good to see you looking so well!”

Derek chuckled. “I feel much better than the last time you were in Beacon Hills, for sure.”

She turned to Stiles, and she said, “He looked ghastly the last time I was here. The state of the Nemeton was affecting him badly.”

Stiles asked, “Are you up for a visit to the Nemeton tonight? I thought we could go after we’ve met with the former McCall Pack members. We’ll need a few hours with them. We need to find out what they need in the way of a pack.”

Gretchen agreed. “That would be good. We could seal the emissary bond for Danny with the Nemeton.”

Derek grinned. “I should warn you, we have a small pack of Cwn Annwn hounds that are staying with us. We thought it would be just two of them staying behind. But we got home after the confrontation and found all eight of them waiting for us.”

Gretchen raised her eyebrows, and she asked with a note of disbelief, “You have Cwn Annwn hounds. Large white hounds with red ears and tail?”

The hound that stuck to Stiles like glue became visible, giving the new vet a fright. She said, “Wow, ok, so they are bigger than I expected. Do they need any special care?”

Stiles shook his head as he gave his hound a hug. “No, Gwyn Ap Nudd said to just treat them like any other canine. They love running with us when we are out in our full-shift.”

Gretchen laughed. “I bet that’s a sight, aren’t most of you nearly completely black in color when you’re shifted?”

Stiles nodded. “Well, the wolves are all pretty dark in color, the kitsunes, not so much. They look great, though. So we’ll stop in on our way back home to pick you up. It should be no more than a few hours.”

Gretchen asked, “You think it’ll take that long?”

Derek nodded. “Yeah, one of the betas was around when Stiles was bitten. He’s not going to take it well.”

Stiles snorted. “He’s going to take it with the grace of a rampaging harpy. He wasn’t my biggest fan.”

-x-

The two alphas entered the conference room where Dalton had left Isaac, Liam, Corey, and Mason. Stiles asked, “This is going to be a fairly long discussion, so does anyone want a drink?”

They all nodded, so Stiles sent off a request for Dalton to bring a coffee tray in. He figured that would be easiest. He saw Isaac was giving him a weird look, so he asked, “What’s up, Isaac?”

Isaac narrowed his eyes. “I know you. Why do I know you?”

Stiles chuckled. “Well, I hear being on the same lacrosse team in high school will lead to knowing people.”

Derek took pity on the beta and said, “Stiles, be nice.”

Stiles smiled. “For you, sure. Sorry, Isaac, I left a long time ago. It’s not surprising you don’t recognize me.”

Liam frowned. “I remember you, but not looking like that. The last time I saw you, you were lanky and a lot shorter.”

Isaac snarked. “And human.”

Stiles flashed his red eyes, and he said, “I definitely didn’t leave Beacon Hills as a human. I was bitten about two hours before I left town. I got home covered in blood after Scott abandoned me on a patrol run for a booty call. Dad was pissed, and he sent me to live with my uncle in London.”

Isaac was curious, and he asked, “How did you handle the change without help?”

Stiles shrugged. “I had help. My uncle is an alpha, the Queen’s Alpha, to be precise. He assigned me two guards who helped me with my change. You met Dalton; he’s the one who escorted you in here. He was one of the guards assigned to me while I lived in the UK.”

The curly-haired beta gestured between Derek and Stiles, and he asked, “So how does that work, having two alphas in the same pack?”

Stiles grinned. “Well, I am the alpha mate. We run the pack together, and it’s a pretty large pack.”

Mason asked, “How large is large? We were told the McCall pack was pretty big with eight members.”

Derek pondered. “Would you count the hounds?”

Stiles nodded. “I think so. That would make the pack 27 strong, with three pack adjacent members. Although that’s dropping to 26 next week when Connor leaves for France.”

Corey asked, “Would you accept us?”

Derek nodded. “Sure, if you fully accept the pack and the pack bond. No wavering. If you can’t accept our pack, then we can help you look for another pack that you will be comfortable with.”

Isaac asked, “Even me?”

Derek nodded. “Yes, Isaac, even you. If you can handle me as your alpha again.”

Mason asked, “Can you tell us about your pack?”

Stiles grinned. “I can give you the basic rundown. So we currently have three alphas, Derek, myself, and Connor James, who is the one leaving next week. We have seven betas, five humans, three kitsune, and a hellhound, oh, and the eight Cwn Annwn hounds we mentioned earlier.”

Isaac frowned, and he asked, “So what actually happened to Scott? It’s not really clear, all we know is our pack bonds broke, and we haven’t been able to find Scott. When we asked around, most of the people we talked to didn’t even know who we were talking about.”

Stiles explained, “The Old Gods took Scott, Allison, Theo, and Deaton for judgment. They’ve been accused of serious crimes against the supernatural world. It was that, or they would have had the entire town wiped out of existence by the Wild Hunt.”

Mason asked tentatively, “Wait, the hounds you mentioned earlier. They are hell hounds?”

“Close, but not quite,” Stiles said with a grin. He snapped his fingers, and the two invisible hounds allowed themselves to become visible, much to the surprise of the others in the room. “These are Cwn Annwn, otherwise known as hounds of hell. They loaned us eight Cwn Annwn hounds to capture those who were summoned. After their job was done, it would seem the hounds have asked to stay.”

Mason asked, “Why is there a distinction between a hellhound and a hound from hell?”

Derek chuckled. “Hellhounds have a human form, like werewolves and other shifters. However, these guys, while intelligent, don’t have an alternative form.” He looked around at the small group and asked, “Do you have any more questions?”

Corey gestured to Mason, and he asked, “What about the two of us? We’re still in college?”

Stiles asked, “Stanford, right? I remember Asora mentioning something about it when we got back to town.”

They both nodded, and Derek reassured them, “That’s fine. We are big believers in education. Isaac, I thought you were planning to attend college?”

Isaac shook his head. “I couldn’t get a scholarship, so I have been saving up to attend with work at the coffee shop.”

“Are you still planning to be a social worker?” Derek asked. He wasn’t sure if the beta’s plans had been changed. “Or did you find something you wanted to do more?”

Isaac nodded. “I thought about being a child psychologist. I want to help those in situations like mine come out the other side a bit less damaged. I was awarded a few partial scholarships, but not enough to cover everything I would need without working three jobs on the side.”

Derek frowned. “And, of course, you didn’t get an offer of help from your pack.”

Isaac asked, “What do you mean?”

“Most packs have an education fund,” Stiles explained. “Pack members pay a tithe into a central fund, and they earmarked a portion of it for education. But I guess a new pack wouldn’t have the time to build up a fund.”

Derek said, “We can discuss support for future education, regardless of what pack you join. Take a few days to decide. We don’t need your answer straight away.”

Isaac shook his head. “Look, I regretted joining Scott’s pack after a few months, but you were already gone. I didn’t know who to turn to for help. I’ve managed to stay out of his more dubious plans, including refusing point blank to work with Gerard in any way. I’ve done everything I can to protect these guys until I was able to get them out of town for college.”

Derek nodded. “We know, Connor kept an eye on you for us while we were gone.”

Liam asked Isaac, “You trust these guys?”

Isaac nodded. “Derek is the alpha that turned me before Scott, and his idiocy chased him out of town.”

Derek chuckled. “Actually, Scott didn’t chase us away. We got an offer from the FBI to leave for training so we could better protect the Nemeton. I left Alpha James as my proxy, which Scott knew.”

Isaac scowled. “He told us you left and that he was the new alpha for the territory.”

He looked around at his fellow pack members and asked, “Could we have some time to talk about it privately?”

Derek nodded. “Sure, we have some paperwork that needs to be completed. One of our agents will be working in the public bullpen, so just let them know when you want us to return.”

They were in there for an hour, just talking about their options. They were sure they wanted to stick together, but Isaac still wasn’t sure of his welcome.

They heard a knock on the door, and Liam called out for the person to enter. Jackson walked in with a tray of snacks and said, “We thought you might be hungry.”

“Jackson?” Isaac asked incredulously. “You’re in the Hale Pack?”

Jackson nodded, and he sat down where his alphas had sat earlier. “Stiles found me in London after my parents had forced me to move. He helped me get into Oxford, and then we both joined MI5.”

Isaac asked, “Is there anyone else I know in the pack?”

Jackson nodded. “Danny joined not long after me, and Kira joined about a year later. Oh, and I’m not sure if you met them, but the twins from the alpha pack joined a year ago.”

Isaac frowned. “I thought they died.”

Jackson shook his head. “It’s a long story, but their merged form saved them. The FBI spirited them out of Beacon Hills, and they eventually joined Derek and Peter at GWU with Danny and Kira.”

Liam asked, “Wasn’t there another Hale? I remember Scott ranting about her at some point.”

“Cora,” Jackson confirmed. “Derek’s younger sister, she joined Stiles and me at Oxford.”

The human in the room was trying to work out the math, and he asked, “Are you all the same age as Scott? I thought you left at the start of your junior year.”

Jackson nodded, “We did. Cora is two years older than Stiles and me, so she had already graduated from high school when she arrived in London. Stiles and I tested out when we got there, and his uncle was able to get us a late interview with Oxford University.”

Mason’s jaw dropped. “How? That’s supposed to be impossible.”

Jackson shrugged. “He’s alumni and a Deputy Director at MI5. It opens doors. Thank’s to his support, we were able to complete our degrees faster than most. I ended up with a doctorate and a master’s degree. I got a law doctorate, and a master’s degree in criminal justice. Stiles has dual PhDs. He has a criminal justice doctorate, and he just completed his second doctorate in psychology. He also has a master’s in forensic accounting.”

Mason gaped at the beta. “Are you serious?”

Jackson nodded. “Yep. Stiles is smart and extremely driven, and he dragged us along for the ride. Part of it was due to the Nemeton. We discovered that the six of us were born close to the Nemeton, and it gifted us with intelligence. We suspect it was a last-ditch effort to save itself. The rest, though, is because of Stiles. He’s good at building training and study schedules that don’t stress you out. The three of us in London were on a fast track for MI5, which helped.”

Corey asked, “I heard some talk in town about an FBI supernatural task force. Is that you guys?”

Jackson nodded. “The Talos Task Force. It’s a joint task force between the FBI and MI5. Derek and Stiles lead the team here in Beacon Hills, Derek is the SSA for the FBI side of the team, and Stiles is the Senior Case Officer for the MI5 side of the team. We also have three tech analysts from Homeland Security on the team.”

Corey grinned. “That sounds so cool. So you deal with all the supernatural weirdness?”

Jackson shook his head. “No, local stations dealt with most of the cases. We are called in when it looks like the supernatural will be exposed. They called here us to deal with a spate of missing persons cases that looked supernatural in origin. It turns out Gerard and Munroe’s little war invoked the Wild Hunt.”

Isaac sighed. “Hence why Scott, Allison, and the rest of them were taken by the hounds. I would love to swear up a blue streak, but we all knew something like that would happen. Scott just refused to listen to reason, and Allison was always right there with him.” He looked at the others at the table, and when they all nodded, he said, “Can you let Derek and Stiles know we’ve made our decision, please?”

Jackson nodded, “Sure, I’ll just go and get them.”

Chapter Twenty

June 24th, 2017

Derek entered the conference room and asked, “You’ve decided?”

Isaac nodded. “We would all like to join your pack, Alpha Hale. We would like to be part of a pack where the alpha, or in your case, alphas, care about their betas.”

Derek nodded. “Are you all sure? We have contacts in several packs around the country, and we would be happy to help you find a new pack, if that’s what you wanted.”

Isaac shook his head. “We would like to stay together.”

Liam nodded. “Honestly, the four of us have stuck together like glue since we joined. Scott talks big about being a good pack that does the right thing and how the pack is family and other blah blah bullshit. But he barely spoke to us, unless it was to order us on patrol runs, or to yell at us for the deaths of the latest big bad.”

Corey snorted. “We got blamed by him for so much, when it wasn’t even us.”

Derek asked, “And if the Old Gods return him? Will you want to return to him? Are you sure you don’t want to wait to see what their verdict is?”

Isaac snorted. “Even you don’t believe he will return without some sort of punishment. Either way, we would prefer to be part of a pack that actually wants us for us, rather than using us to stop the urge to bite random people.”

Derek asked, “Umm, what?”

Liam rolled his eyes. “He bit me without my consent. I was trying to get away from a Wendigo that was attacking people in the hospital. Scott saved me from falling to my death… with his teeth.”

Derek hesitantly asked, “Did he say why?”

Liam laughed derisively. “Not with anything believable. Honestly, he has two perfectly good arms, but no, he caught me with his teeth.”

Derek nodded. “Ok. So, where are you currently living? I know Corey and Mason are at Stanford, I’m guessing in the dorms?”

Isaac said, “I technically live with Scott, but I spend most nights in Liam’s spare room. His parents were nice enough to offer when they realized just how stuck we all were.”

Derek asked, “Do you have anything at Scott’s you want to pick up? What about the rest of you? We have plenty of spare rooms in the house we had built out in the preserve.”

Liam smiled. “I think I speak for all of us. It would be good to finally get out of my parent’s place. All of us end up staying there when it’s break time from college.”

Derek offered, “Why don’t you go home and pack up the essentials for now, and we can get you set up at the house. We’ll have a pack meeting tonight so you can meet everyone. Liam, your parents are welcome to join us. I’m sure they’ll have loads of questions.”

Liam shook his head. “They actually don’t. Mama McCall has been singing your praises for months now. She works with both of them at the hospital.”

Derek suggested, “Ok. If you meet us back here at five, you can follow us out to the house. We’ll do the pack bite at the house if that’s ok?”

Mason asked, “Pack bite?”

Derek explained. “It’s a specific bite that brings you into the pack bonds. We can even do it to humans so they can feel the bonds without having to be turned.”

Mason frowned. “Oh, we didn’t have that.”

Derek grimaced. “That actually explains a lot. So I’ll meet you all back here at five. We’ll be making a quick stop at the animal clinic to pick up another new pack member, Gretchen, on the way home.”

They all nodded their agreement, and they jumped into Mason’s car for the trip back to Liam’s house.

-x-

When they finally got home, Derek found a note on the side table beside the entryway. He showed it to Stiles. “So it looks like our pack meeting will be at the Nemeton. For everyone.”

Stiles nodded. “I’ll gather everyone up. Do you want to go talk to the new betas, give them a quick lesson in how to address one of the Old Gods?”

“Yeah,” Derek agreed. “I’m sure they’ll be fine, but just to be on the safe side. Come on, it looks like we’re dropping you in the deep end.”

Stiles sent a group text to the pack telling them they needed to gather outside ASAP for a meeting with the Old Gods. He then went looking for Asora. He often left his cellphone in random places when he got distracted.

It took about half an hour for everyone to show up, including the three pack adjacent members, Dominique, Tara, and Valerie.

Stiles was the first to approach the regrown tree, and he was stunned. He looked back at Derek and hoarsely asked, “How?”

From the edge of the clearing, Ceridwen said, “A gift.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd, Gwydion, and Arawn joined her. The latter was crouched down in front of his hounds, who had come to greet their king.

The pack as one went to one knee in respect as Stiles said, “You honor us all with your gift.” He stood and addressed Arawn, “King Arawn, thank you for the loan of your hounds. They were a tremendous help.”

Arawn smiled. “You cared for them so well they have requested to stay with the pack. Never before has a pack of Cwn Annwn requested to stay in the waking world.”

Derek pat the hound that had returned to his side. “We would be honored to have them, Sir.”

Arawn said, “Sit all of you, please. There is no need to kneel. I think we’ll be here for a while, and the clearing is quite comfortable. As for the hounds, they will occasionally visit me to let me know how you all are doing; we’ve left them a portal in this clearing. One that only they can use to cross between worlds.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd cleared his throat once everyone was sitting comfortably. “We have returned with the verdicts of the six you sent us.”

He glanced at the two Argents and said, “We have sentenced Gerard Argent to a lifetime in purgatory. He will spend eternity running from those he has harmed.”

He looked at Chris and said, “Your daughter, Allison Argent, received the same sentence. She was working with her grandfather to kill the revived Hale Pack. She didn’t care that they would’ve killed you as collateral damage.”

Chris sagged. “Fuck. I can’t figure out where I went wrong.”

The god crouched down where Chris was sitting snuggled up to Noah, and he reassured, “You didn’t. You did the best you could. Victoria and Kate manipulated her. They were very clever about keeping her in the dark about the supernatural, as per your agreement, while at the same time preparing her for her future as a hunter. By the time she met Gerard, she was well on the way to fanaticism.”

Chris snarked, “Yet she stayed with Scott.”

Ceridwen nodded. “She loved him, but she would have killed him in a heartbeat if she ever fell out of love with him.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd sighed. “As for Scott McCall. His sentence was a difficult decision to make.”

Gwydion nodded. “It really was. He hated being a werewolf. We thought about sentencing him with the removal of the wolf and a memory wipe. Give him a fresh start. But he wouldn’t have survived it.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd nodded in agreement. “Without the bite, he would have died in his senior year of high school. He was already living on borrowed time. We would like to let you know about the others that were taken before we return to the issue of Beta McCall.”

Melissa nodded her agreement, so Gwyn Ap Nudd said, “Darach Alan Deaton. He has a lot to answer for, and he will be answering for it in purgatory. He’s the reason Talia Hale cut the Nemeton down. And he was using his connection to the Hale Pack as the emissary to leech power from the land.”

Peter asked, “He wanted the fire?”

Gwyn Ap Nudd said, “Sort of. He wanted a more malleable alpha, which would have been Laura. But she ruined his plans by leaving town. So he started a backup plan and started grooming Beta McCall from a very young age to be his weapon, so to speak. His pet alpha. If Scott hadn’t gone into the preserve that night with Stiles, Deaton would have found another way to get him bitten. However, he needed to be sure Scott wouldn’t join the Hale Pack, so he used lies and misdirection to build up Peter’s actions as the actions of a monster, and Derek as his right-hand man.”

Stiles had a suspicion, so he asked, “Was Deaton behind the death of my mother?”

The god nodded. “He was. He saw her as a threat. Sparks are a lot more powerful than druids, and Claudia Stilinski was no exception. He’s also the reason you were bitten. He wanted you out of Scott’s life. He just didn’t realize how much of a stupid move that was.”

Stiles shrugged, and he said pragmatically, “From his point of view, it was a great move. It’s well known that sparks don’t survive the bite. From everything we’ve read, I am a very rare case.”

Ceridwen motioned to the tree, and she explained, “We asked the tree how you could survive. You were bitten not far from here. The Nemeton did what it could to prevent your death. You were born to protect the Nemeton, and it saw your survival as necessary.”

Stiles asked, “So that’s why my change happened so fast. I mean, I could talk to my wolf by the time I got home. From what I gathered from other bitten wolves, it was unusually quick. But I figured that was because of the alpha spark I gained at the same time.”

Ceridwen nodded. “It was a bit. But mostly, it was the Nemeton shoring up your wolf, so you would survive the turn with no ill effects.”

Gwydion explained, “It knew that you were the lynchpin for the pack. As much as you would protest it, you are the heart of the Hale Pack. It knew that if you died, everything would change, perhaps not right away, but it knew. Without you, there wouldn’t be a Hale Pack. The Hales would have gone to New York after further betrayals by the false alpha and his druid master. The Nemeton would have died. You already know through your research that the Nemeton gifted six of you with heightened intelligence by virtue of proximity to the Nemeton at the time of your births.”

Derek cleared his throat that was suddenly dry, and he asked, “What would have happened if the Nemeton died?”

Ceridwen said, “The death of one would corrupt the others. It is why there are packs in place to protect them. Once they start dying, that corruption would then disrupt the link between the gods and the waking world.”

Peter heard Stiles gasp, and he glanced at him briefly as he saw the younger man grasp the horror of the situation. He said, “Which would remove the ability of The Wild Hunt to protect us from exposure.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd nodded. “Exactly so.”

Stiles muttered, “I’m just me. I’m not that important.”

Derek pulled him into his lap and whispered, “You are important, Lil Red. I agree with Ceridwen. You are the heart of our pack.”

Stiles asked, “What about the other two? Theo Raeken and Tamora Monroe?”

Gwyn Ap Nudd huffed in amusement at the subject change. He said, “Beta Raeken is waiting in your cells at the FBI building, and we have left evidence on Alpha Hale’s desk of his many crimes. There’s a couple of murders and several kidnappings, including two of your new betas. They were both kidnapped from orphanages, but they were still minors at the time according to your laws.”

Arawn sighed. “As for Ms. Munroe, she isn’t actually guilty of anything beyond spreading misinformation and inciting others to violence. She wouldn’t even get charged according to your own laws. So we have removed the last five years of her memory and dropped her in a hospital near her family. Medical records have been altered, so it looks like she survived a bad car accident and has severe amnesia. I have warded her to avoid the supernatural. If she is ever around a supernatural creature, she will feel uncomfortable, and she will want to get away from them.”

Peter nodded. “That sounds like a wonderful solution. Was she manipulated by Gerard?”

Arawn shrugged. “Eventually, but it was actually Allison who drove most of her actions. Allison came across her after she’d seen Beta McCall wolf out, and she used a combination of manipulation and misinformation to lead Ms. Monroe down the path she was on.” He chuckled. “Allison even told her that when wolves are shifted into their beta shift, that they are feral and will mindlessly kill anyone in their path.”

Peter rolled his eyes. “Which would have led to the conclusion that Allison saved her life. We’ll add her to a watch list, just to make sure she stays out of trouble.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd sighed. “And that brings us back to Scott. The primary reason it took so long for us to return to report our decisions. We have a left-field suggestion.”

Ceridwen said, “We would like to give him a second chance.” She looked at Melissa. “A second chance that can be with you, or we can find him another pack.”

Melissa sat up and asked, “How would this second chance work?”

Ceridwen explained, “We have done a ritual that has reversed his age back to being a newborn. You and Chris Argent can raise him within the pack as the son of Scott and Allison. He will have papers to this effect, so you will have no issues legally.”

Melissa asked, “What will people think happened to Scott and Allison?”

Gwyn Ap Nudd said, “It will be reported as a car accident. If he’s agreeable, the accident report will have the baby being delivered by Beta Dunbar on the side of the road by emergency cesarean.” He looked sternly at the pack as a whole. “It is vital that he gets a fair chance at a new life for this second chance to be effective. He will be a blank slate, and he will have a chance to be the start of the next generation in the Hale Pack. If you can’t do this, speak up now.”

Derek nodded when he saw the hope on Melissa’s face. “We’ll do it.”

Ceridwen walked behind the Nemeton and came back with a sleeping baby boy in her arms. She approached Melissa, who stood as the goddess passed over the newborn. She said, “He has kept his lycanthropy so he won’t have the issues with asthma that he had in his previous life. I am sure that with all the wolves in the Hale Pack, you will have plenty of help with how to raise him as a born wolf.” She’d also made some minor changes so he wouldn’t grow up as an exact duplicate of his former self. That news she would keep to herself.

Derek nodded. “Definitely. Thank you, for everything. Especially for the gift of a healthy Nemeton. We’ve been trying so much to help it grow, but it was so badly damaged by all that had been done to it.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd smiled. “The wards you have protecting it shows you care for it greatly. If you could assist the other packs that are protecting Nemeta around the world in adding the same wards, we would appreciate it. The balance of intent versus protection wards is frankly brilliant.”

Stiles blushed and said, “I can show other sparks. The wards I created work more on spark magic than anything a druid could do. I think that’s why they could keep Deaton out.”

Gwydion smirked. “If he hadn’t been allowed through a hole we created in the wards, he would have died either during this attempt or the next due to the increasingly punitive nature of the wards.”

Stiles scowled. “He’s been trying that often? I know I turned off the notification when we were out here several times a week because we thought that animals were setting it off.”

Gwydion nodded. “The animals triggered the intent ward. They were under the control of Deaton. He was trying to find a way through. He was annoyingly persistent.”

Gwyn Ap Nudd cleared his throat as he faced the pack. “You have grown into a powerful pack from a rocky beginning, and you have a very clear future as one of the most influential packs in North America. You are going to bring change to the supernatural world, you and your task force. A welcome change, one that will see the supernatural world feeling less hunted, less haunted.”

He turned to walk away, and he watched as the other gods stepped through the portal that had been created for the hounds. Before he walked through, he turned and reminded them all, “We’ll be watching.”


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30 Comments:

  1. Wow that was just wow.
    Loved reading this. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Well, that all took a very interesting turn. Great story! It was good to see the Argents, Deaton, and Scott get what they deserved. (Though, I think you went easy on Scottie, lol.) The whole supernatural joint task force idea is really neat. Thank you!

  3. What a wild ride, no pun intended xD This was such a fascinating story, I had a great time reading it. I live the mix of supernaturally inclined FBI and involving the old gods in the sentencing.

  4. This is just brilliant! I love how much story you’ve packed in so seamlessly, without any sense of overloading or just wanting to get it over with. I can’t choose anything as ‘the best bit’ because it’s all so good. (Though I have to admit that the idea of Ziva in Gitmo and McGee and Abby in Leavenworth is very appealing ;).)

  5. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!
    Thank you for creating this much better TW world.

  6. A very impressive take on the supernatural world. Now I need to find time to read the whole saga again (more slowly) to pick up the points I’m sure I missed. Thank you for sharing your stories.

  7. What a cracking second part to this series. I got my Tony and Gibbs fix, super yay! And hell hound pups!!!! Very satisfying end to the series and even some redemption for Scott to round things off! Would love if you decided to continue this after the challenge because the world building and blending of fandoms so seamless and fun. Loved it!!!

  8. So awesome! I just screwed over my workday morning so I could devour this awesome story. And, it was worth every second of my wasted productivity. Thank you!

  9. Love the sequel and the Gods getting involved.

  10. Oh wow. That was awesome. Thank you so much for sharing.

    This is such a cool concept. I liked how you moved all the players and saved as many as deserved it. The task force was inspired. Very enjoyable, will definitely read again.

    Thank you

  11. That was fantastic! After the first part I wasn’t sure how it could get better but you outdid yourself. I love how you set different plot lines in different locations so they felt contained and focused. And the way you used bits of canon from the later seasons but twisted them was fun to read. The direct intervention of the old gods was definitely my favorite part though. Thank you for giving us this fantastic story for QB.

  12. Absolutely amazing story. Thank you. 🥰😻

  13. Damn … what an awesome sequel. Love that you got the old gods involved and how they controlled the Wild Hunt. Scott’s ‘punishment’ is an intersting one.
    Thank you for sharing. <3

  14. Spectacular! Even though I don’t like Scott, I do like the 2nd chance you gave him… very clever. Great story! 💕

  15. Wonderful series, very fun.

  16. that was fantastic, thank you!

  17. Oh, much better than canon and I really enjoyed it!

  18. Great Story. Thank you for sharing

  19. Wow, what a ride from the first story to the second. Thank you. I enjoyed the stories.

  20. This was a fantastic sequel! I loved seeing the the story built from the first one, and the old gods were fantastic. Amazing! The way you dealt with Scott was awesome as well, he had no chance in this story between Deaton/everything else and so giving him a second chance, and giving Melissa him back in some ways, was really sweet.

  21. Brilliant! Love that you brought in Gwyn Ap Nudd. Terrific MI5/FBI solution to the supernatural issues. Thoroughly enjoyed the story. Thank you.

  22. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I really enjoyed reading about their return to Beacon Hills and how they dealt with the Wild Hunt.
    And a big yeah for keeping the puppies !

  23. This was lovely, thank you for sharing!
    Stiles playing with hounds and cooing over them is hilarious.
    I was surprised about your solution for Scott, but it makes sense. I just hope everyone will be able to separate the baby from the person he was before. I can imagine that will be difficult for some, but I’m so happy for Melissa that she gets a second chance with her son!

  24. I had a lot of fun reading this! Thanks for sharing!

  25. I devoured both Lion Inside and this story. They were so amazing and fun to read. Thank you for sharing these.

  26. Brilliant.

  27. Good story, thanks for sharing it with us

  28. This was a fabulous, fun read with an intricate and intriguing plot. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and I’m sure I’ll be back to read it again. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  29. Wow. Frickin amazing story. Love the seamless continuation of the previous series. Great job pulling he various plots and people together to an extremely satisfying conclusion. Loved it.

  30. Awesome

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