Saturday, 12 January 2019

Unveiled at Dawn

If you loved Enlightened at Dusk, here is another Fan Fiction story from M.G. Ryan.
Unveiled at Dawn begins where Unveiled and The Vampire Hunter Prophecy, To Dawn, end.
SPOILER if you're yet to Unveiled or To Dawn, make sure you read these first before diving head first in to this fun Fan Fiction.
Unveiled at Dawn
          The sun shone through the windows, filling the room with light and warmth.  Bella and Corey cuddled together on the couch, watching the action movie on TV, as part of their relaxing afternoon.  Bella was enjoying the movie, snuggled in with her boyfriend and just being content with the moment, happy that they had the chance to spend some time together.  It was hard when she had to be away from him, living in Perth for her university studies, as well as her work and training with Father Luke, which was all going well.  Coming back to Dunkeld to spend time with Corey was the one thing that kept her going.  The one thing that she really looked forward to.
           It was more than that though.  Her life had been a nightmare at one point, but because of Corey and his sister Lexi, Bella was now back on track.  She owed them so much.  Being in Dunkeld was when she was at her happiest.  She liked living in Perth, it was a beautiful city.  She was doing well with her studies and enjoyed her part time job at a local café and had learnt so much from her training with Father Luke, which helped bring balance to her life.

            Dunkeld however, felt like home.  No… it was home.  Being in this house with Corey, Lexi, Jack and Marcus.  It had offered her a love and stability she had never experienced before and they loved and accepted her for what she truly was.  Here, she was safe and loved.
            Bella closed her eyes and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on her face as it shone through the window.  Corey gently played with her blonde hair, which she had grown longer.  The sensation was soothing and she felt herself relax and start to doze off to sleep.  As her body drifted into a relaxed state, a wave of goose bumps ran up her spine and neck.  It was as though the hackles of her wolf stood on end and her body went from its relaxed state to an instant tension.
            ‘Hey, what’s wrong?’ Corey asked.
            ‘I’m not sure,’ Bella replied as she looked up into his brown eyes, which were full of concern.
            ‘You just went tense all of a sudden.’
             ‘Honestly I don’t know.  I just felt this weird sensation.’
             'What did it feel like?  What triggered it?’ Corey asked.
            ‘It was like I could sense someone’s presence.  As though they were watching us.’
            Corey sat up straight, lifting Bella with him.  ‘I should go and get Jack,’ he said.
            ‘No, don’t,’ Bella insisted.  ‘I’m probably just over reacting.’
            Bella, if there is one thing I have learnt being around Jack, it is to trust the instinct of a wolf.  I’ll go and get him.’
           ‘No, please don’t.  He’s working and I don’t want to disturb him if it’s nothing.’
           ‘Are you sure?’ Corey asked.  ‘He can go and check it out.’
           ‘I’m sure.  I mean, who would be watching us anyway?’
           ‘You’re right,’ Corey said, trying to reassure Bella.  ‘Lexi will be home soon anyway.  I’ll let her know.  Come on, lay back down and relax.’
            Corey and Bella lay back against the couch and resumed their original position.  Corey rubbed Bella’s arm as she cuddled into him and they continued to watch the movie.  Though her hackles had lowered, she could not ignore the feeling of being watched.  The feeling slowly started to fade and Bella relaxed into Corey.  Bella was starting to think that she had imagined it. 
Shortly after, Bella heard the sound of Lexi’s Jeep as it pulled up the gravel drive at the side of the house and pull up in front of the garage.  As one, every hair on Bella’s body came to attention and her wolf instinct kicked in.
            ‘What’s wrong?’ Corey asked.
            ‘Get Jack!’ Bella said, as she jumped off the couch and ran out the back door.
            Lexi pulled up the gravel drive and parked the Jeep in front of the garage.  Exhausted from her work day at the stables, she was looking forward to taking her boots off, putting her feet up and having a nice big cup of tea.  She hoped that Corey had already boiled the jug.  Grabbing her backpack off the passenger seat, she climbed out of the Jeep and closed the door.  She flung the bag over her shoulder and made her way along the paved path towards the back door.
            The hit was hard and unexpected.  The wind knocked out of her lungs as she impacted with the wall.  She struggled to take a breath as a large hand had her by the throat.  Lexi stared into the eyes of her attacker, shocked by his presence at her home and why he had attacked her.  Lexi had an idea of what he was after, but shocked by the means he went to, to obtain it.
            ‘Where is she?’ her attacker asked.
            ‘I… I don’t,’ Lexi struggled to speak.
            Lexi kicked out with legs, trying to fight him off, but her efforts were to no avail.  The man holding her was a mountain, making her look tiny, plus he possessed extensive military training.  Her efforts were fruitless and her strength was fading as her air supply was gradually being cut off.  As Lexi’s struggles weakened, a white form flashed before her, taking down her attacker. 
Her sudden release caused her to fall and she hit the ground hard.  As Lexi lay there and gasped for air, she could hear the commotion of a fight.  As she gained her breath back, she sat up and saw  Bella, in her pure white wolf form, standing between her and Commander Bravnica, leader of the Kresnik Army of Lumeer.  Lexi and Jack had once assisted his men when kudlaks (an extremely vicious type of vampire) were starting to encroach and nest near human territory.
            Bravnica was huge, with Bella lucky to be a third of his size, yet her heart and courage was larger than anyone that Lexi knew and Bella proved this as she stood her ground to protect Lexi.
            Lexi loved this girl and admired her so much for her courage and bravery, which was certainly not to be measured by her size.  Bella had faced her demons in the past and taken them on… literally.  The event even included saving Lexi’s life.  Was she about to save Lexi again?
            Bravnica had been surprised by the hit from Bella and appeared winded, as he rested on one knee and took his time to catch his breath and probably reassess the situation.  Lexi noted however, that he did not take his eyes off Bella, cautious of what she may do.  Bella, not intimidated by the man, stared right back, her head high and hackles up.  She expressed her displeasure to Lexi’s attacker by growling a warning, advising him to back off.
            A smirk crossed Bravnica’s face.
            ‘I must admit, I’m a little surprised,’ Bravnica said as he rose to his feet.  ‘My soldiers had told me about you two and I must say, I’m a little disappointed.  The great Vampire Hunter, now lays in the dirt catching her breath.  And I have to say Jack, no offense, but you ae not as impressive as I imagined.’
            Lexi started to laugh and the Commander, unimpressed, stared at her.
            ‘Is something amusing?’ he asked.
            ‘Yeah, actually,’ Lexi said as she gained her composure. 
            Lexi rose to her feet and dusted herself off.  From inside the cottage, she could hear the familiar rumble as Jack growled from the depths of his deep barrelled chest.
‘That’s not Jack,’ she informed the Commander, referring to Bella.  
            Lexi turned to look at the house as Jack stepped out the back door in his giant wolf form.  He was an impressive beast, about twice the size of an average wolf.  But he wasn’t a normal or average wolf.  Jack, like Bella, was a shape shifter and in his wolf form, he was intimidating.
            ‘That’s Jack,’ Lexi said with a smile on her face.
            The Commander looked upon Jack and though he tried to hide it, Lexi noted the change of expression on his face.  A new look of trepidation appeared.  The odds had just tipped dramatically out of his favour and he knew it.
            Corey had followed Jack out of the cottage and joined Lexi at her side.  She felt him place something cool into her hand and Lexi instinctively recognised the feel of the dagger within it.  Though it had been a while since she had used it, the familiarity of the weapon made it feel as though she only held the weapon yesterday.  She twirled it in her hand and could feel the confidence grow within her.
            ‘I know why you are here Commander,’ Lexi said.
            ‘And what reason would that be,’ he asked in reply as he stood tall with his hands on his hips.
            ‘Ana.  You are looking for Ana.’
            ‘Glad to see that we are not tip-toing around the subject.’
            ‘I can’t help you Commander.’
            ‘See, that is where we differ,’ Bravnica replied as he took two steps forward.
            The Commander stopped in his tracks when Jack matched him and took two paces towards him, releasing a deep growl that rumbled through the air.  Bella took a few paces back, placing herself closer to Lexi and Corey.  The Commander lifted his hands in the air, displaying his palms as a sign of submission and retraced his steps.
            ‘I have been provided with information from my sources, who have advised me that Dahrel has been in contact with you.’
            ‘That is correct,’ Lexi said.  ‘Dahrel contacted me and asked for our help.’
            ‘And?’ Bravnica asked.
            ‘And nothing.’
            ‘And this is the bit where we differ,’ he said, pointing his finger at Lexi.  ‘I think you know more than you are letting on.  All you need to do is tell me where Ana is and I walk away.’
            ‘I can’t tell you what I don’t know.’
            ‘You know that if you are helping her, I’m the least of your problems.’
            ‘And that is why I told him that I couldn’t help.’
            ‘And I would believe this why?’ Bravnica asked.
            ‘Believe what you want Commander, but I can’t help you, just like I told Dahrel that I couldn’t help him.  I’m not prepared to compromise the safety of my family to protect his.’
            ‘Yes, really.  I do not know where Ana is and I have had no contact with her, which I’m sure your sources would know.  So, I am going to ask you to leave and not come back.  Ever!’
            ‘And if I refuse?’
            ‘Then I’ll make you reconsider,’ Marcus said.
            Lexi turned her head to see her father standing at the edge of the cottage, shotgun pointed at Bravnica.  Marcus gave his daughter a quick glance and she replied with a nod to let him know that everyone was okay.
            Marcus stood his ground, the shotgun still pointed at the Commander.  One on one, it would be a tough contest between the two, matched closely for size and skill, though age was against Marcus.  Bravnica could tell a lot just from the way that Marcus stood.  He determined that he was military, of the human forces of course, but still skilled.  While the man pointing the gun at him was obviously older than himself, he still appeared as though he would be able to hold his own.  Bravnica knew however that at that moment if it came to a fight, he would lose.  Even if the shotgun was not in the equation, he was up against a soldier, two shape shifters and a Vampire Hunter.  While the Hunter was a little bit rusty, she was not to be underestimated.
            Bravnica turned to Lexi.  ‘I’ll leave, but just remember, I’m not the most dangerous thing in all of this.’
            ‘I’m aware of that,’ Lexi replied.  ‘Which is why I want no part of it.  You being here however, only brings further attention to my family.  Attention that we don’t want.’
            ‘I will be keeping my eye on you though… just in case.’
            ‘That’s fine, Commander, but be warned.  Come back here… and I will kill you.’
            ‘Warning noted,’ Bravnica said.
            ‘Dad, let him pass,’ Lexi instructed.
            Dad!  That explained a lot to Bravnica.  The man he faced off with would do what was necessary to protect his daughter, which made him even more dangerous.  The Commander did not want to show any weakness to the group, even though he knew his chances were slim if it came to the crunch.  He stared at Lexi, who stood her ground and stared back, knowing that she had the advantage.  Bravnica turned on his heals and Marcus stepped aside to allow him to walk past, though Marcus didn’t let his guard down.
            Lexi walked over and stood next to her father and they both followed Bravnica down the side of the house and out to the front of the property.  They stood side-by-side as they watched Bravnica walk down the street and climb into a dark four-wheel-drive.
            ‘Dad, when mum was dying, would you have done anything to save her?’ Lexi asked.
            ‘Oh, course I would have,’ Marcus replied.  ‘Even if it meant sacrificing myself.’
            ‘Like Jack nearly did protecting me?’
            ‘That man loves you more than you can imagine.’
            ‘Then why doesn’t Bravnica fight for Ana? Try to find a way to save her?’
            ‘I don’t know Baby Girl,’ her father replied.  ‘I just don’t know.’
            ‘How did you know to come and help us anyway?’ Lexi asked.
            ‘Corey sent me the emergency code.’
            ‘You gave Corey the code?’
            ‘Of course, I did.’
            Lexi smiled up at her father, before they both turned their attention back to the road and the four-wheel-drive as it disappeared out of sight.  Once it was gone, Lexi felt a relief wash over her, but was then hit with a sudden realisation.
            Lexi dropped the dagger at her feet, turned and ran to the back of the house past Jack, Bella and Corey.  She ran through the back door and up the stairs.  Her heart pounding in her chest, she opened the bedroom door to see the boy sleeping soundly in his bed.  Lexi sat down on the floor beside the bed and just watched the boy as he slept.  He looked so peaceful.  Lexi resisted the urge to reach out and touch him, concerned that she may wake him, even though he would need to wake from his nap soon anyway.
            Jack walked into the room, still in his wolf form, which indicated to Lexi that he was still a little on edge about what had just happened.  They knew it was a possibility that Bravnica would show up, but they didn’t expect it would be with such force.  Prior to this, they considered the Commander and the Kresnik people allies.
            Jack sat next to Lexi and nestled his large head on the bed.  Lexi reached out and placed a hand on the wolf, stroking his soft, thick fur.  They stayed like that for a few moments, until Ollie began to stir.  Lexi, not being able to resist any longer, reached out and ran her hand through the boy’s dark hair.
            ‘Hey there sleepy head,’ she said.
            Ollie rubbed his eyes and stared at both of them, before reaching out and placing his hand on the wolf’s muzzle.  Jack lay there and enjoyed the attention from the boy.
            ‘Pa?  Bella?  Corey?’ Ollie asked.
            ‘They’re all downstairs,’ Lexi said.  ‘Are you ready to hop up?’
            The boy nodded his head.  Lexi scooped him up in her arms and placed a big kiss on his cheek.  He smiled at her in return, before wrapping his arms around her neck.  Lexi carried Ollie downstairs to the kitchen where Bella, now dressed, and Corey sat at the table.
            At the sight of Bella, Ollie reached out his arms to go to her.  Lexi handed over the wriggling child.
            ‘Hey little man,’ Bella greeted him as he cuddled into her.  ‘Maybe I should shift back.  He loves it when I’m in my wolf form.’
            ‘I think he is quite happy with you just the way you are,’ Lexi said, smiling to herself.
            When Lexi had first met Bella, she was a young naïve girl, afraid of her alternate form and had withdrawn herself away from the world because of it.  Now, Bella embraced her wolf, had learned about the supernatural world and even went as far as shifting to her wolf form to entertain a small child.  Yet, as she had demonstrated today, she would also shift into her wolf, in the need to protect the ones she loved.  Lexi admired her for that.
            Jack entered the room, back in his human form, dressed in a new set of clothes and started preparing dinner as Lexi made everyone tea and coffee.  She observed Corey, who sat quietly at the table, barely even able to provide Ollie with a smile.
            ‘What’s up?’ Lexi asked him.
            ‘I should have seen this coming,’ Corey replied.
            ‘It has been a long time since you have had a dream,’ Lexi said.
            ‘But that is mainly because you haven’t hunted for a while.’
            ‘Corey, do you remember when Jack and I went to Lumeer and you couldn’t see us there?’
            ‘Yeah, but this happened here.’
            ‘I know, but Lumeer is concealed by magic, so maybe Bravnica was there when he made the decision to come here or he himself is concealed by the magic somehow, which hides him from you.’
            ‘Makes sense to me,’ Jack said, as he continued with dinner preparation.
            ‘What if Bravnica comes back?’ Corey asked.
            ‘I don’t think he will,’ Lexi replied.  ‘He has no reason too.’
            ‘I hope you’re right,’ Corey said.
            Deep down Lexi hoped that she was right, but her stomach was doing somersaults.  Gut instinct telling her that this was not over.  Would Bravnica pay them another visit or would his presence here in the attempt to find Ana, lead whatever it was chasing her, here as well.  Lexi knew while it would be a tough fight against Bravnica, she would be able to hold her own, but from what Dahrel had told her, none of them would stand a chance against the thing that that hunted Ana.  Lexi needed to protect her family, even if that meant taking extreme measures to do so. 
Later that evening after dinner, Jack and Lexi were in the kitchen tidying up after their meal.  Lexi had made a decision after their afternoon incident, one that she knew Jack would not be happy with.  The issue had to be dealt with and the sooner the better.  The longer that it was left, the more danger she felt they would be in.  She needed to face this one head on.
            ‘Jack, I’m going to go to Lumeer,’ Lexi said.
            ‘No!’ Jack declared.  He stopped what he was doing, turned and looked at Lexi.  ‘I thought you didn’t want to get involved.’
            ‘I don’t.  I didn’t… but the Commander turning up has dragged us into it, whether we want to be or not.’
            ‘We agreed that we will get Aurora to place a protection spell on the house.’               
            ‘And we will still do that.  I just have a gut feeling that won’t be enough.  I want to go and see Dahrel, find out more information.  There might be other ways we can help without fighting.’
            ‘You are going to go regardless of what I say, aren’t you?’
            ‘Then I will come with you,’ Jack said.
            ‘No,’ Lexi replied.  ‘I need you to stay here with Ollie and the others.’
            ‘I’ll go,’ a soft voice said.  Both Jack and Lexi turned to see Bella standing in the doorway.  ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to listen in, but I will go with Lexi to Lumeer.’
            ‘Bella, no,’ Lexi said.  ‘I could never ask you to do that.’
            ‘You didn’t,’ Bella replied.  ‘I’m offering.’
            ‘Offering to do what?’ Corey asked, as he stood behind Bella.
            ‘I’m going to go to Lumeer with Lexi,’ Bella replied.
            ‘No!  No way,’ Corey said.  ‘Neither of you should be going.’
            ‘Well, at least someone agrees with me,’ Jack said.
            ‘I need to go,’ Lexi insisted.  ‘If Bella wants to come with me, I’m not going to stop her.  I’ll also take Dad with me.  I have a feeling his presence will be an advantage.’
Lexi, Bella and Marcus arrived in Lumeer and were greeted by two Kresnik soldiers.  Lexi sighed when she recognised one of the soldiers as the one who gave her grief, the first time she arrived in Lumeer with Jack.  She hoped that he would keep his sexist opinions to himself on this occasion.
            ‘Well, I have to say that your current travelling companion is better looking than your last one,’ he greeted Lexi, trying to get a rise out of her.
            ‘Maybe, but I would be careful, she bites,’ Lexi replied with a smirk.
            ‘I’m sure she does.’
            ‘Well, next time you see your Commander Bravnica, ask him.  She managed to put him flat on his ass.’
            ‘Bullshit!’ the soldier declared.
            ‘No bullshit.  Maybe she can demonstrate on you.’
            Bella politely smiled at the soldier, who didn’t know what to make of the petite blonde.  If she was with the Hunter, there was a possibility that she had skills he was not aware of.  Alternatively, the Hunter could just be messing with him.  He wouldn’t put that past her.
            ‘That’s enough,’ Marcus said in his deep booming voice.
            The soldiers came to attention with Marcus’s presence, who looked every part the Kresnik soldier.  He had cut his hair short to the military hair cut he was once accustomed to and wore the Kresnik uniform, which had been supplied by the DEA (Department of External Affairs).  It was all part of their attempt to move through the city more freely.
            ‘Yes sir!’ the Kresnik officer said.  ‘If you would like to come with us, we have been directed to escort you.’
            ‘Lead the way,’ Marcus instructed.
            Lexi, Bella and Marcus followed the two officers to a large four-wheel-drive.  With the three of them in the back, the two soldiers sat in the front as they drove to a large estate.  Lexi noted the glances in the rear-view mirror at them, but let it slide.  The vehicle pulled up at the large front entrance, where Lexi saw Dahrel standing on the front steps.  His face looked gaunt and his shoulders slumped, the concern over his sister obviously weighing on him.
            Dahrel stepped down the steps and opened the back door. ‘I will escort our guests from here,’ he informed the soldiers.
            ‘Yes sir,’ the soldiers replied in unison.
             Lexi climbed out of the vehicle followed by Bella and her father.  The three of them then followed Dahrel inside, as he led them into a large library. 
            ‘Dahrel, this is my father Marcus,’ Lexi said introducing her father.  Dahrel stepped forward and shook Marcus’s hand.  ‘And this is Bella.’
            ‘Nice to meet you Bella,’ Dahrel said as he shook Bella’s hand. 
            ‘Thank you,’ Bella replied shyly.
           ‘How’s Jack?’ Dahrel asked.
            ‘He’s good.  He just has other commitments at the moment, which is why Bella has joined me on this trip.’
            Dahrel turned back to look at Bella.  ‘Are you… like Jack?’ he asked.
            ‘If you are asking if I am a shifter, yes I am.’
            ‘A wolf?’
            ‘Yes,’ she replied.
            ‘A wolf who put your Commander on his ass,’ Lexi stated with pride.  She could see Bella blush.
            ‘I was surprised when I received your message about the Commander.  How did he even know that I spoke with you?’ Dahrel asked.
            ‘I don’t know.  He just referred to his “sources”,’ Lexi replied.
            ‘That is a concern.’
            ‘It is more of a concern that he turned up at my home,’ Lexi stated.  ‘So, I think you need to tell me everything Dahrel, and I mean everything.’
            ‘Where do I start…’ Dahrel stated.


Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Enlightened At Dusk

Fan Fiction

We are super chuffed to share this story with you. Written by M.G. Ryan, this is a merging of two worlds, "Enlightened" and M.G. Ryan's Vampire Hunter Prophecy series, "From Dusk". Written from Lexi's perspective (the main character in the Prophecy series), we hope you enjoy it just as much as we did.
Check out M.G Ryan's "From Dusk" and its hotly anticipated sequel, "To Dawn" here.

Enlightened at Dusk
         A feeling of claustrophobia washed over me.  The air in the elevator was still and tense.  I leaned back into Jack, who was standing behind me.  I felt his arm slip around my waist.  The elevator came to a halt and the doors pinged open.  The mountain of a man who stood in front of us stepped forward and we followed suit, until we came to a halt when we reached a set of glass doors.  He then swiped a card, which allowed us access.
            We were escorted through the doors and led down a corridor.  Even my long legs struggled to keep up with this man’s massive stride.  He reached a door and stopped in front of it, then gently knocked upon it.
            ‘Come in,’ bellowed a voice from the other side.
            The mountain pushed the door open and stepped inside.  ‘Our guests have arrived Commander.’
            ‘Show them in please Corporal.’
            Jack and I stepped inside the office, which was furnished with all of the necessities, but no luxuries.  The man behind the desk stood.  If I thought the Corporal escorting us was a mountain, then I was currently staring at Everest.  He was a couple of inches taller than Jack, who didn’t have to look up too many people, but this man’s most appealing feature was his bright blue eyes.  I had never seen anything like them before.
            ‘Thank you Corporal, that is all,’ Everest said and with that the Corporal left the room, closing the door behind him.
            ‘I’m Commander Bravnica,’ he said as he stepped from around the desk, holding out his hand, which I shook.  He then shook Jack’s hand and I could see them sizing each other up.  Men and their testosterone!
            ‘Thank you for coming,’ the Commander said.  ‘I hope that your lodgings are adequate.’
            ‘They’re great, thanks.’ I replied.
            ‘Well, I think that we should get straight down to business.  If you would like to follow me.’
            He collected a small pile of files from off his desk and if I was not mistaken, my name was on the top one.  Jack and I followed the commander down the hall, until we reached a door, which he opened and we stepped inside a meeting room.  The room was full of Kaul soldiers, who all stood to attention when the commander entered.  They were all tall and well built, very well built and wore black t-shirts with camouflage pants.  Do they clone these guys? 
            The commander indicated towards some chairs at the back of the room.  The men sat back in their seats, though eyes remained on me and Jack as we moved past them to the area the commander had indicated.  There, sat a woman in one of the chairs, who gave me a gentle smile as I approached.  Her green eyes reflected mine, though they appeared to be full of sadness.  I took the seat next to her as Jack then sat down beside me.
            ‘As you are all aware,’ the commander started, all eyes now on him, ‘we are having problems with the Kudlaks within the borders Lumeer.  The issue however has now extended to our human counter parts, with Kudlaks moving into human territories.  Our liaison at the DEA, has requested our assistance in controlling these numbers and they have in turn sent us assistance for the task.  I would like you all to meet Alexandra… ’
            ‘Lexi,’ I interrupted him.
            ‘Lexi,’ he said, his tone indicating he was not happy with the interruption; something he was probably not used to.  ‘Lexi and Jack have been sent from Scotland to assist us while we are working in the human territories.’
            ‘Excuse me sir,’ one of the soldiers spoke up, ‘no disrespect, but how is she meant to help.  She will only slow us down and will require protection if a fight develops.’
            ‘I could kick your lily white ass,’ I muttered under by breath, but as Jack’s hand squeezed my knee, I was aware that I had muttered the words louder than I had intended.  I looked up horrified as I realised that all eyes were on me, including those of the commander.
            ‘I understand your concern Lieutenant,’ the commander said, ‘however, Lexi has come highly recommended and is considered one of the best amongst her peers.’
            ‘And what exactly are her skill sets Commander?’ the Lieutenant asked.
            ‘Lexi is a Vampire Hunter.’
            The Lieutenant scoffed.  ‘With all due respect Sir, but Kudlaks are far more dangerous than the vampires of the human world.’
            I tentatively raised my hand.
            ‘Yes Lexi?’ the commander said.
            ‘What exactly are the differences between vampires and Kudlak?’
            ‘Kudlak are vampires, however they are faster and stronger than the vampires you are used to dealing with.  Your vampires are still very human in form, where ours are not.  Kudlaks cannot tolerate sunlight like your vampires, they have distinctive red eyes and a mouthful of sharp teeth.  They also possess a venom within their teeth, which, if you were bitten, would instantly turn you.  This is something I understand your vampires do not have.’
            ‘What are their weakness?’ I asked.
            ‘Very few.  Sunlight will kill them, as will wood through the heart.  Our weapons fire special timber bullets.’
            ‘What about beheading?’
            ‘Yes, but we prefer not to get that close if possible.  Any other questions Lexi?’
            ‘No,’ I said tentatively and leaned back in my chair.
            ‘Does anyone else have any questions about tomorrow’s exercise?’ Commander Bravnica asked.
            ‘Who has the job of babysitting the princess?’ the same Lieutenant asked.
            ‘What the hell is your issue?’ I demanded, as I stood from my seat.  I could feel Jack tug on my hand, but I shooed him away.
           The lieutenant stood and confronted me.  ‘You’re my problem.  This is a dangerous enemy we face and I don’t need to jeopardise the safety of my men because I have you to baby sit.’
            I felt Jack stand behind me.  ‘I advise you to back off, mate.’
            ‘Who’s going to stop me, you?’
            A small smile crossed my face at the realisation that he didn’t know of Jack’s “special” abilities.  
            ‘Oh, trust me when I say you don’t want to make him angry,’ I said to the lieutenant.
            ‘That’s enough Lieutenant,’ said Commander Bravnica.  ‘You can all collect your intel sheet from Ana on your way out.  Dismissed.’
            The young woman who sat next to me, started handing out paperwork to the men as they left.  The last man out closed the door behind him, leaving five of us in the room.
            ‘Just ignore them,’ the young woman said to me, ‘the Kaul do not allow women, so to have you enter their ranks is something they have never experienced before.’
            ‘Thanks, but I don’t know how reassuring that actually is.’
            ‘You wouldn’t be here if Commander Bravnica didn’t feel that you were up to the task.’  She then handed Jack and I our intel notes.  ‘Do you need me to stay and continue taking notes?’
            ‘No, thank you Ana,’ the commander replied.
            Once Ana left the room, Commander Bravnica introduced Jack and I to Lieutenant Valinski, who had remained behind after the meeting.  Jack and I sat at the table across from Bravnica and Valinski, as we ran through the details of our patrol tomorrow and the roll that Jack and I would partake during the day.  While Valinski didn’t show the arrogance of the other Lieutenants within the room, I could see that he was not overly happy with obtaining babysitting duty, but was not prepared to question the commander on the issue.
            ‘Do either of you have any further questions in relation to tomorrow?’ the commander asked.
            ‘No, I don’t think so,’ I said.  ‘I think we have covered everything.  Jack, do you have any questions?’
            ‘No, all good.’ Jack replied.
            ‘Excellent.  I’ll have an escort at your quarters to collect you tomorrow morning,’ the commander advised.  He stood and opened the door, calling to someone in the hallway, when a corporal appeared in the doorway.  ‘The corporal will escort you back to your quarters.  I advise you to rest up.  It is going to be a big day tomorrow.’
            I sat on the window sill and admired the view before me as I ended my phone call with Corey.  I had only been away from him for a couple of days and already desperately missed him.  I wished that he were here, but preferred the knowledge that he was home safe in Dunkeld with Father Michael.  While the call was an opportunity to talk with him, it was also an opportunity to find out if he had had any dreams, which could provide us with information.  The answer was no, so I felt as though we were going into today blind, but then it could also mean that the day may be uneventful.
            I stared out the window at the beautiful view of Lumeer and the mountains that surrounded the city.  The mountains were certainly magnificent, but for me they did not quite have the appeal and mystique of the Scottish Highlands.  I smiled to myself at the thought of home.
            I turned when Jack stepped into the room.  He stood awkwardly with his hands on his hips, obviously uncomfortable in his new attire.  My reaction to the sight of him was mixed; dressed in Kaul Military uniform of the tight black t-shirt and camouflage pants.  If he cut his hair a little shorter he could easily pass for one of them.  This was certainly a different look for Jack and I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or throw myself at him.  The shirt pulled tight across his broad shoulders, chest and stomach, defining his muscles.  It was a good look.
            ‘Are you laughing at me?’ he asked.
            ‘Definitely not,’ I said as I slid off the window sill and moved over to him.  I slipped my arms around his neck.
            ‘I didn’t realise that military men were your style.’ His hands found my waist.
            ‘They’re not,’ I said, ‘but you are.  I have to be honest though, it suits you.’
            ‘Don’t get used to it.’
            ‘Well I better make the most of it then.’
            I placed my lips to his and he instantly responded, opening his mouth and accepting mine.  His hands sneaked lower and before I knew it, he had lifted me and I wrapped my legs around his waist.  He started to turn and move towards the bedroom when there was a knock at the door.
            ‘Maybe if we ignore it, they’ll go away,’ Jack mumbled with his lips still on mine.
            ‘I don’t think so, they’re here to pick us up.’
            He slowly lowered me to the floor, moaning his displeasure of being interrupted.  I picked up a canvas bag that I had ready to go and opened the door to find a Kaul soldier impatiently waiting for us.
            ‘This way please,’ the corporal instructed.  We followed him out to the street.
            A military style Jeep, dark in colour, was waiting for us outside.  The Corporal opened the back door of the vehicle for us and I climbed in first, Jack behind me. I was surprised to find Lieutenant Valinski sitting in the front passenger seat.
            ‘Morning.  Are you ready for today?’ he asked.
            ‘Ah, yes sir,’ I said.
            ‘Good.  Settle in and relax for now, we have a drive ahead of us.’
            With the corporal in the driver’s seat, he moved the Jeep on and we soon joined the convoy of vehicles similar to our own.  We left Lumeer, home of the Kresnik people and the mountains behind us, as the convoy moved towards human territory.  We drove for a few hours before we arrived at our destination on the edge of a large pine forest.  Dozens of men exited vehicles and moved into groups.
            ‘Stay close,’ the Lieutenant instructed as we climbed out of the Jeep.
            Doing as instructed, we stayed close to his side, as at least a dozen men surrounded us.  A few of them gave me sideways glances, but most paid their full attention to Valinski.  He detailed our mission for the day, which was to seek out any Kudlak nests that may be in the area and destroy them.  We were to be back at the convoy by nightfall, to reduce the risk of a Kudlak attack.
            ‘Let’s prepare to move out,’ the lieutenant said.
            ‘Are you ready?’ I asked Jack.
            ‘I guess so,’ he replied.
            We moved around to the other side of the vehicle, away from the troops.  I’m sure that eyes were watching us, but I did my best to ignore them, as I focused on Jack.  I removed the bag from the backseat, collected my dagger and hid it under my clothing.  Jack removed his boots and his shirt, which I put in the bag and then placed it back in the vehicle.
            ‘I’ll leave you to it then,’ I said to Jack as I moved back around to the lieutenant.
            ‘Ready?’ the lieutenant asked.
            ‘Nearly,’ I said.
            At that moment Jack stepped from around the vehicle.  I saw mouths gap open in shock as they looked upon the huge grey wolf before them.  Jack stood his ground and eyed them all.
            ‘What in Daska?’ I heard one of the soldiers exclaim.
            ‘You’re not the only people who have ancient prophecies, you know,’ I said defensively.  ‘Anyway, who’s the scout?’
            ‘Corporal Nowak is our scout,’ the lieutenant advised.
            One of the soldiers stepped forward and I could only assume that it was Nowak. 
            ‘Come with me,’ I said.
            He didn’t move at first, probably not used to taking instructions from a woman.  I turned back and glared at him and we both moved to the front of the platoon to take up our positions.  Jack moved through the group, which parted like the red sea as he made his way to my side and I gently rested my right hand on his withers.
            ‘Okay Corporal, you now have a new scout,’ I said indicating Jack.  ‘I will stay on his left flank; you will be on his right.  The important thing is that you do not move forward of his shoulder.  Understand?’  Nowak just stared at me in disbelief.  ‘If you move past his shoulder, your scent can camouflage another scent that he may be looking for.  If it is easier, stay a step behind me.  Got it?’
            ‘Yes,’ he said.
            ‘Other than that, your job does not change.’
            ‘Okay, move out,’ the lieutenant bellowed and with that, we moved into the forest.
            Our movement was slow through the forest due to the terrain, sticks and foliage crunching under our feet as the scent of pine swirled around us.  Our search for Kudlak lairs was methodical, not wanting to leave any area unchecked.  We had been on the move for two hours without any signs or indication of Kudlak activity. 
            After a short rest break, we continued our journey deeper into the forest.  We had been on the move for another hour when Jack stopped short.  He turned slightly to the left and lifted his head into the air, then let out a huff.  He then turned and looked at me, before looking back into the forest.  I turned and looked at the lieutenant, who, reading my gaze, moved up by my side.
            ‘Why have we stopped?’ he asked.
            ‘Jack has picked up on something in that direction,’ I said pointing the way Jack had indicated.  ‘Most probably a nest.’
            ‘Are you sure?’
            The lieutenant selected four men from the platoon, who moved forward to our position.  He then relayed them instructions.  They, along with Jack, were to move forward and search the nest.  They stepped off and I went to move with them, when I felt a large hand on my shoulder.  I turned to look at the lieutenant.
            ‘I need you to stay here,’ he said.
            ‘I go with Jack.’
            ‘Not on this run.  It is just a standard recon.’
            I shrugged his hand of my shoulder and he removed it with a look that he was aware that he had allowed it to linger for too long.  I looked to Jack, who gave me a nod to assure me that it was okay.  Jack and the four Kaul soldiers moved off deeper into the forest until they were out of sight.  The rest of the platoon moved forward and took position around me and the lieutenant.
            The next thirty minutes were excruciating while I waited for their return.  I started to feel smothered being surrounded by the soldiers.  I had the desire to run into the forest and follow Jack, but I managed to keep my patience in check and hold my position.  The lieutenant then reacted as voices started to crackle over his communications unit. 
            ‘Rodger,’ he spoke into his comms.
            ‘The scout team are on their way back.  They found a nest, but it was empty.  Indications were of at least four possible Kudlaks having used the nest.  They couldn’t confirm if the nest had been abandoned or if it was still in use, but it has now been destroyed.  It does however, beg the question of where are the Kudlaks?  However, we will be caught out after dark if we keep searching, so we need to head back to the convoy pick up point once the scout team has returned.’
            ‘Yes sir,’ the remaining platoon members said in unison.
            I said nothing and would not feel any comfort until Jack and the soldiers were back and the group was reunited. 
            I heard movement off in the distance and snapped my head up to see Jack and the troops approaching.  I let out a deep breath and smiled when Jack and I made eye contact.  Jack moved through the soldiers and up to my side.  We had another short break before we started our journey back towards the convoy pick up point.  We resumed our normal positions and were on the move once again.
            We had been on the move for a while and I had started to tire, when thankfully Valinski called us to a halt for a short rest stop.  We sat and rehydrated, finding the opportunity to sit in some shade.  The lieutenant moved a few paces away, obviously in conversation with someone over the comms unit.  He returned and I was surprised when he came and sat close by me and Jack, who still held his wolf form.
            ‘We are not going to make it back to the convoy before dark,’ Valinski said.
            ‘What?’ I asked.
            ‘We have been out for longer than anticipated, therefore we have fallen behind schedule and will not make it back before dark.  We are well trained and carrying sufficient ammunition.  We will maintain standard formation.  Jack and Nowak will remain as scout, Lexi, you will move back with me.’
            Jack lifted his large head and glared his big brown eyes at Valinski as he let out a low growl.  A few of the men in the group reacted as though to protect their lieutenant, who held up his hand to indicate for them to back down.
            ‘Jack and I stay together Lieutenant,’ I said.
            ‘I can’t have you open and vulnerable Lexi.  I need you protected.’
            ‘That’s the whole point, I am protected.  That’s the wolf’s purpose, to protect me.’
            ‘I know that Jack will want to stay near you, but my men are armed and more than capable of protecting you Lexi.’
            ‘I do not doubt your men’s abilities Lieutenant, but this isn’t about me and Jack, this is a Hunter/Protector thing.  As a Hunter, the wolf is my Protector and I am his sole responsibility.  Your orders cannot overrule his instinct.  Jack and I stick together.  He and I will take the lead with Nowak.’
            ‘Fine,’ the lieutenant said as he stood.  ‘Let’s move out.  Jack and Lexi will continue as scout with Nowak.’
            With that we took up formation and continued the march to the vehicle convoy.  I was surprised when only about an hour later, the sun began to set.  I could hear the lieutenant talking over his comms unit, but could not make out the conversation.  I turned and looked at Nowak, who kept a steady pace by Jack’s right flank.  I noticed he was standing a lot closer to us on the return trip than on the way out.  I gave him a slight smile and was surprised when it was returned.
            We kept moving as the sun rapidly descended behind the hills.  The darkness slowed our pace, as we had to watch our footing on the forest floor.  With my hand resting on Jack, I felt his shoulders tense before he came to a stop.  I reached out over Jack and grabbed Nowak by the arm as he continued forward.  Jack’s head went up higher and he sniffed the air.  His paw stroked the ground 1, 2, 3… 4, 5.
            ‘Five of them?’ I asked into Jack’s ear.
            His paw stroked the ground once more.
            ‘What is it?’ Nowak asked.
            ‘Six, we have six Kudlak,’ I said.
            Jack turned in a circle.  ‘All around us,’ I replied.
            Nowak indicated to the lieutenant who moved up to our position and Nowak relayed the message.
            Suddenly Jack turned to our left and placed his head up in the air, sniffing as a low growl escaped his throat.  I retrieved the dagger and held it tight in my right hand.
            ‘What is it?’ Valinski asked.
            ‘They’ve moved,’ I said.
            ‘Where to?’
            ‘Down wind.’
           We all held our positions, standing silent, listening to any sound that came from the forest.  Jack sniffed at the air, but found nothing.  However, there was no way the Kudlaks were going to allow us to walk out of this forest… alive anyway.  For them it was a game and the hunt was on.    
            The Kaul soldiers held rifles up and stood in formation so that all angles were covered.  We were all on edge as we listened intently to the silence.  In an instant two Kudlak jumped out of the darkness down to my left.  Rifles opened fire and I jumped, not used to the sound, but the Kudlaks were dust in an instant. 
            Jack spun just in time to see a Kudlak leap at Nowak, who managed to let off a couple of shots, but missed the heart.  The Kudlak had Nowak pinned to the ground.  I shifted as Jack leaped through the air and barrel rolled the Kudlak off Nowak.  Jack and the Kudlak continued to roll until they both managed to come to their feet.  With the Kudlak’s back to me, I threw the dagger, which landed between its shoulder blades.  It turned, snarling at me.
            ‘Lexi, down!’ I heard a voice call.
           I squatted down and heard the fire of three shots from a rifle.  One bullet hit its target, penetrating the Kudlak’s heart, sending him to dust.  I turned to see Nowak standing behind me, breathing hard as he lowered his rifle.
            ‘Thanks,’ I said.
            ‘You’re welcome,’ Nowak replied.
            Chaos erupted, as three Kudlak leapt out of the dark in a simultaneous attack.  One of the Kudlak’s had hit Jack and sent them in a roll, but my attention was drawn by a piercing scream.  I turned to see one of the soldiers pinned to the ground by a Kudlak.  Instinct and training kicked in.  I ran, scooping up the dagger on the way.
            ‘Hey,’ I called out.
            The Kudlak, still pinning the soldier to the ground, turned his head and looked at me.  I brought the blade down, slicing it across his shoulders.  His head fell from his body and he turned to dust.  I didn’t stop to check on the soldier, instead turning to find Jack, who stood with a Kudlak head in his mouth, which he dropped to the ground and it instantly turned to dust.  There was rapid gunfire and I turned in time to see another Kudlak dusted.
            Kaul attended to the injured soldier on the ground.  It didn’t sound good, as his screams of pain pierced the forest.  Nowak moved over to me.
            ‘You may not want to watch this Lex,’ Nowak said as he gently placed his hand on my arm and moved me forward.
            ‘Watch what?’ I asked. 
            ‘I have to say, that was some bit of fighting.’
            ‘Are you trying to distract me?’
            The answer to my question came with the sound of a bullet that vibrated to my core.  I turned to see Valinski standing over the injured soldier and reality hit.  The soldier had been bitten, so to prevent him turning, the lieutenant shot him.  I couldn’t hold back the nausea.  I dropped to my hands and knees and released the contents of my stomach.  I had Jack on one side of me and Nowak on the other.
            ‘You okay Lex?’ Nowak asked.
            ‘Fine, I’m fine,’ I said as I stood up and wiped the back of my hand across my mouth.
            The lieutenant joined the main group, advising that one of the other platoons was on its way to provide assistance.  We were to hold our position until they arrived.  Jack and Nowak did a quick sweep of our immediate area, but couldn’t detect anything. 
            Jack and I had position in the centre of the group, while some of us rested, the remainder of the group took guard.  I sat on the ground, laying against Jack as we waited for the other platoon to arrive.  They located us after about an hour.  While I was happy with the platoon’s arrival, I was not so impressed when I saw that the lieutenant who hassled me yesterday during the meeting, was the leader of the group.  Valinski and the lieutenant talked and I listened hard to hear the conversation.
            ‘I knew this would end up being a disaster,’ the lieutenant stated.  ‘Maybe next time the commander will listen to us.’
            ‘Before you get the wrong idea Lieutenant,’ Valinski replied, ‘we were ambushed and if it wasn’t for Jack and Lexi, casualties would have been much higher.  They and Nowak together, took out three of the six Kudlaks that attacked.  This, however, is not the time for conversation.  Details can be discussed tomorrow,’ he said in a stern tone.  ‘The important thing now is to get everyone safely to the convoy.’
            The lieutenant barked out orders and a few of the Kaul loaded the deceased soldier onto a stretcher that the other platoon had brought with them.  We then marched back to the vehicle convoy.  I could barely see straight by the time we reached the vehicle point; I was so exhausted.  At our vehicle, Jack transformed back and dressed into the Kaul uniform of black t-shirt, pants and slipped on his boots without tying the laces. 
           I was about to climb into the Jeep when a voice called out my name.  I looked up to see Nowak jogging up the track.
            ‘What’s up?’ I asked as he approached.
            ‘Nothing,’ he said.  ‘I just wanted to say that was a good job you guys did out there, both of you.’  He looked from me to Jack, then back at me.  ‘Women aren’t allowed to serve in the Kaul, but I would be happy to have you by my side in any fight.’
            ‘Thanks,’ I said, knowing what a big statement that was for a Kaul soldier.
            ‘Thanks Jack,’ Nowak said. 
            ‘You’re welcome,’ Jack replied.
            ‘No really, you saved my life.  I don’t think we would have made it out of there if it wasn’t for you.’
            ‘I wouldn’t go that far,’ Jack said.
            ‘Thanks anyway.’ Nowak extended his hand to Jack, who accepted and they shook. 
            Nowak gave me a smile before he jogged off back down the track.  I climbed into the Jeep and Jack followed behind me.  I snuggled up against him, his arm wrapped around my shoulder and I fell asleep as the convoy moved off.  I didn’t wake again until we reached Lumeer.
            I hung up the phone from Corey and sat on the windowsill, gazing out at the mountains beyond.  I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see Jack enter the room and place his bag next to mine at the front door.  I swung my legs over the edge and watched as he approached.  He was back to wearing his standard jeans and t-shirt.  Even as hot as he was in the Kaul uniform, I was glad to have my Jack back.
            ‘Was that Corey?’ he asked as he came and stood in front of me.  I wrapped my legs around him.
            ‘Yep, he is looking forward to having us home.’
            ‘Is he okay?’
            ‘Yeah, of course he is.’
            ‘You sure, you just seem a little… off, since you spoke to him.’
            ‘Corey’s fine, I’m just… He didn’t have a dream about last night, that’s all.’
            ‘Did you tell him what happened?’
           ‘No.  I told Father Michael, but not Corey.  I just thought he would have dreamt about something that full on.’
            ‘Maybe it’s this place,’ Jack said.
            ‘What do you mean?’
            ‘Well, it has a sort of magical barrier to hide it from the human world, maybe it blocks Corey out too.’
            ‘Possibly.  That would make sense.  Anyway, I’m looking forward to going home.’
            ‘Me too, but I’m also looking forward to a romantic night with you in Edinburgh first.’
            I smiled up at him.  ‘Me too.’
           I pulled him in closer with my legs and wrapped my arms around his neck as he placed his lips on mine, soft and warm.  The kiss deepened and I could feel Jack’s muscles tense under his shirt.  Then there was a loud knock at the door.
            ‘You have to be shitting me,’ Jack said.  ‘Do these people have some kind of sixth sense?  I didn’t think we were expecting anyone for half an hour.’
            ‘We’re not, but I better check and see who it is.’
            A moan of disapproval escaped Jack’s throat as I slid off the sill and moved past him.  I was surprised when I opened the door to find Lieutenant Valinski standing there.
            ‘Hi,’ I said, surprised.
            ‘I hope I’m not disturbing you,’ the lieutenant said.
            ‘Not at all,’ Jack called out sarcastically from across the room as he leaned against the windowsill.
            ‘Come in,’ I said as I opened the door wider.  ‘We weren’t expecting anyone so soon.’
            ‘I’m early, I know.  There was just something I was hoping to discuss with you before you headed home.’
            ‘What did you want to talk about?’ I asked, as the lieutenant stepped inside.
            ‘You said something yesterday, about us not being the only people with prophecies.  I would like to know more about yours, if that’s okay.’
            ‘Sure, but I’m going to need a cup of tea with that conversation.  Lieutenant, would you like anything?’
            ‘A coffee would be nice and please, call me Dahrel.’
            Jack headed out to the kitchen to make our drinks as Dahrel and I sat in the small living area across from each other.  Jack soon appeared with our drinks and placed them on the small table between the two seats, then took his place on the couch beside me, his arm stretched over the back of the couch.
            I started by telling Dahrel about Jack and how he became a shape shifter after being attacked in Berlin.  After advice from a German priest, Jack then searched for Father Michael in Scotland, who helped him deal with his transition to a shape shifter.  I explained how Jack and I had met and about the ‘Vampire Hunter Prophecy’; detailing how I fulfilled the role as a Vampire Hunter, Jack or his wolf form was my Protector and Corey, who was homeless when we found him, my Prophet who had physic dreams about me.  I also told Dahrel how Corey came to be part of our lives and I was now his legal guardian.  With his coffee in hand, Dahrel sat and listened intently, without interruption as he let me tell our story.
            ‘And that is pretty much it,’ I said.
            ‘Well, that is pretty amazing.  I would like to also let you know that my men were very impressed with the two of you last night.’
           ‘Thank you,’ I said shyly.  ‘I know that is a big statement for a Kaul soldier, but like you, it is what we do.’
            ‘You still put your lives on the line to protect my men.  We will not forget that sort of bravery.  Anyway, I better get you to the commander.  I’m sure he won’t be happy if he’s kept waiting.’
           Valinski escorted Jack and I into the same meeting room we were in yesterday, only today the room was empty, which was somewhat of a relief. 
            ‘I’ll leave you to it, the Commander shouldn’t be much longer.  It was an honour serving beside you,’ Valinski said as he held out his right hand.
            ‘Thanks,’ Jack replied shaking Valinski’s hand.
            ‘It was an honour serving with you and your men too, Lieutenant, but please don’t take it personally if I say I hope we don’t have to do it again any time soon,’ I said.
            Valinski laughed.  ‘None taken, but I’d be honoured to serve with you again.’
            Valinski left the room, bumping into Ana on his way out.  I could see them chatting in the hallway.  He placed his hands on her upper arms and I could see her nod in agreement to whatever it was he said.  There was a closeness about them, but they were not overly affectionate like lovers.  He then stepped past her and she entered the room.
            ‘Please take a seat,’ she said.  ‘The commander won’t be long.’
            ‘Is Dahrel your brother,’ I asked her as I sat across the table from her.
            ‘Yes he is.  What makes you ask that, we don’t really look alike?’
            ‘The way he looks at you.’
            ‘How does he look at me?’
           ‘Like he’s trying to protect you from the world, even though he knows he can’t.’
            A sadness crossed her face.  ‘Do you have an older brother too?’
            ‘I have a younger brother, Corey.  That’s how I feel about him.’
            At that moment the commander entered the room and the chemistry within it changed.  His blue eyes locked on Ana and they shared a look, which was brief and hard to read, but there was an undiscovered intimacy about it.  He then took the seat next to Ana across the table from me and Jack.  I noticed Ana shift uncomfortably in her seat.
            ‘I won’t keep you long,’ the commander began.  ‘I have already been counselled on last night’s events.  One other nest was also discovered, but was also found empty.  One of the other platoons were also attacked, thankfully they sustained no casualties.  The lieutenant has sung your praises, both of you.  He stated that fatalities would have been much higher if it wasn’t for your efforts.  Thank you for helping to protect my men.’
            ‘It’s what we are trained to do Commander,’ I said.
            ‘Even so, bravery and courage you can’t train for.  My men were very impressed.’
            ‘Thank you,’ I said.
            ‘Well, I’ll have someone escort you to your transport.  I’m sure you are keen to get home.  Thank you again.’
            He stood and reached his hand across the table.  Jack stood and shook his hand first, then I followed suit.
            ‘Safe travels,’ the commander said, then he turned and walked out of the room.
            ‘I’ll organise someone to escort you to the helicopter,’ Ana advised.
            ‘Thanks,’ I said.
            Ana stood and walked to the door, then paused as though she was going to turn around and say something, but decided not to.  A few moments later, a corporal entered the room and advised that he would be escorting us to the helicopter.  The DEA had certainly gone all out for our travel.  A military helicopter would fly us to the nearest civilian airport, where we would be flown by private jet back to Edinburgh.  There we would stay the night before driving back to Dunkeld.  I was looking forward to going home.