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Liam bounded across a stream deep within the woods. This was Therianthrope territory and he'd spent many hours exploring it with Dom, but he still had to pay attention in order to recognize the markers that had been grilled into his brain over the last year. Tonight, he wasn't following his own path, but the trail of two suspected members of a clan who was turning citizens against their will. The regular police force in Evermore didn't handle species disputes; that was left to the guards. However, tonight, he was only on surveillance. He was gathering information in hopes of finding out where their leader was keeping captives. This was his first solo mission, which was a long time in coming. Granted, it probably wouldn’t have taken Liam over a year and a half to earn his freedom from his trainer if he didn’t have the tendency to let his feet do the thinking instead of his brain. He could be reckless and it showed. He wasn’t very good at slowing down and thinking before jumping headfirst into a situation, completely certain he could handle it on his own. Sometimes, it turned out fine and the young Ailward Guard came out of a scuffle with nothing more than a few bumps and bruises, but sometimes there was a lot more mess for Dominic Howlett to clean up and Liam knew that he had to get his act together if he wanted to stay in his superior’s good graces. Despite the fact that he’d passed his initiation, it didn’t mean he shouldn’t be trying his best.
It was a cool night and nearly the end of November, and the end of fall was dragging out in biting wind and falling leaves. The branches of the trees above him were just beginning to be bare and allow moonlight to pass through. It only made disguising oneself in the forest another level of difficult. He had to focus his limbs in order to keep from his excessive movement. The crackling leaves and branches under his feet would make it especially easy to have noise be the thing that alerted the shadowy people he followed to his presence, but Liam hunkered down in the bushes and remained still.
The two people ahead stopped walking. They appeared to be a man and a woman, but in Evermore at night, anything was possible. “Do you smell that?” The first voice was low, quiet, almost a whisper. “Someone’s following us.”
“We checked three times before we came from the meeting, brother.” The other voice replied. It sounded female and younger, about the age of Belle. Although, it was hard to imagine his younger sister wrapped in a swirling criminal enterprise. “We won’t lead them to him.”
“You can never be too sure.” The first voice was more of a growl than actual speech, as he turned towards where Liam hid.
Before the human could gather his thoughts, the shadows before him morphed into the shape of a giant cat. Caught by surprise, he stumbled backwards. No matter how many times he saw evidence of the supernatural in this city, it still seemed like the first time. Only now, a large black cat was only feet away from where he was hiding. When it came down to it, he was never one to freeze in the moment, as the panther’s green eyes came closer and closer staring deep into the shrubbery, Liam drew his knife and prepared to defend himself. However necessary.
Dominic was gazing up at the stars that twinkled in between the leaves of the tree as the brisk wind blew through the forest. As much as he wished he was home and doing this outside with Sio, a beer in hand, in the hammock by the fire pit, he couldn't complain too much since this mission he was currently on was so close to home. Perhaps if this intel assignment was over soon enough, he could do just that, but then again, nothing ever went so smoothly when it came to Guard work. If he wasn't getting into a fight at some point, that usually meant something went sideways.
His leg dangled from the very large branch he lay on, rather precariously some would say being as high off the ground as he was. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the bag of peanuts he was munching on while waiting to hear back from his current partner. Liam was eager and wanted to prove he was ready for the field. Dominic admired the guy. He had passion and drive, but tended to dive into a situation too fast without assessing the facts which was why Dom had given the guard in training a chance to prove himself with a easy task of surveillance. However, it truly wasn't easy at all, at least for Liam and Dominic knew it. Tailing people was probably harder for Liam then actually being in the middle of a battle scene. Boring work, in fact. Dom was much the same when he first joined the Guard too and it had taken him a while to learn the importance of patience and fact gathering before flying in with punching fists. Perhaps that's why he liked Liam so much. He saw a bit of himself in the man.
As the last peanut went out of his hand and into the air, before falling into his mouth, Dom stuffed the plastic back in his pocket. He lifted his cell phone off his chest and looked at the time. Two minutes passed deadline. Liam was supposed to call with a check in and he hadn't. "Shit." Pocketing his phone, the therian swung his legs over the side of the tree limb and lowered himself from the branch, hanging for a moment before dropping to the ground. His supernatural instincts took over as he tried to pick up on Liam's scent which was still faint as this was the last place the two stood before he was told to head out on his scouting mission. It had taken them weeks to finally get a lead on where this so called cult was bringing victims and Therian woods had seemed to be where their base was.
Dominic hurried in the direction of Liam's steps. It had only been his fellow guard's scent for some few minutes before that of two more seemed to join. A sigh escaped his lips as he was now becoming a little more concerned, quickening his pace. The smell of another therianthrope hit him hard and his hues zeroed in on a female silhouette before he had even seen the black panther that was stalking closer to some bushes. Dom let out a whistle before pulling his knife from his belt to grab the giant cat's attention as well as the woman who now faced him. He spun the blade in his hand and gave a wave, averting his eyes from the bush, no doubt where Liam was currently hiding. There wasn't a chance the cat hadn't picked up on Liam's scent by now, but the therian decided to distract from his partner's location as much as possible, his eyes flashing white from his Omega status. "Any chance you two know a good place to eat out here? Been walking a mile or so and I'm starting to think I got bad directions." The panther immediately turned his attention to Dominic and darted for him as the woman pulled out a small handgun and took aim.
Liam saw the exact moment that everything went wrong. It played out in his head only seconds before it happened, only to be shoved off as a case of the nerves. His intuition was known for being flighty, but this time it hasn’t abandoned him to run down a rabbit trail; instead, it looked more like his target was going to make dinner out of him any moment. It wasn’t a good feeling to be staring down the nose of a giant cat, wondering which he’d lose first, his nose or the hand that he’d wrapped over his moth to keep any obvious breath from escaping. His heart was racing and the meditation exercise that he had learned were the furthest things from his mind. This was actual danger and like some crazy person, Liam had signed up to be in the middle of it!
Just as the cat came within twelve inches of him, there was a rustle in the bushes that turned the head of the giant canine to the left and away from the rookie spy. Before his supervisor fully appeared in his vision, Liam wondered if he was going to watch someone else earn the fate he’d rolled only moments ago. He certainly didn’t have it in him to stand by, but his fighting skills were below par at best. He didn’t have time to go all worst case scenario before a familiar voice rang out into the underbrush. He shouldn’t have been surprised that Dom was following him: reverse their positions and Liam would tail himself. He was impulsive and although he hadn’t
technically made any missteps this mission, it was only moments away from being too much for him to handle.
The young guard sighed, biting his lip. How was he ever going to prove himself when he didn’t have the chance? Yet, what if his only chances were too much to handle? He waited, silently, until the enemy theriantheope morphed once again into a human, revealing his face in the moonlight. “Catrina, I told you we were being followed.” The same green eyes shot daggers at the young woman in the shadows of a giant willow tree.The long path between the three figures closed as the two strangers eyed their new companion. "I think you may be lost. Perhaps you should go."
Liam tilted his head, wondering what Dom was planning. If he’d even been following remotely, he’d heard the same conversation that Liam had. The human felt an amount of courage building in his chest, although it was tempered by the closeness of the beast he’d only just seen. With a sharp whistle that resembled a local owl, he moved toward the back of the pair, as quietly as possible. This situation could be redeemed.