I hit the front portion of the machine like an arrow. The glass windshield splintered and the whole helicopter seemed to shudder and vibrate.
The blades made a whining sound above me. The giant black wasp-like machine went into a violent tailspin. Seizing the moment, I reached for the co-pilot. With my claws buried in his chest, the black visor covering his face smashed open, revealing a drooling snout.
“Oh no you don’t!” I roared over the rushing wind. I couldn’t risk the Skinwalker changing into a wolf on me – not hundreds of miles up in the air as I clung to the side of a helicopter. That wasn’t good.
With my claws still buried in the Skinwalker’s flesh, I shot upwards and away from the helicopter. The creature howled and barked, its helmet splitting in two to reveal its huge skull. I hovered over the spinning blades below and let go of the Skinwalker. He clattered into them. The blades carved through him, shredding him into thin ropey strips which flew away into the air. Entrails became entangled around the blades and the motors that propelled them. They made a chugging noise as the helicopter began to lose altitude.
Throwing myself into a nosedive, I raced after it and back towards the ground. As I gathered speed, I felt a crushing feeling against my chest and my cheeks began to pull tight across my face under the sheer swiftness of my decent.
My wings had tucked themselves in against my body, so I tore through the sky like a bullet.
I’m gonna have to pull up! I yelled inside, the ground racing up to meet me.
Hold her steady, I told myself, drawing level with the cockpit.
Another rapid volley of gunfire tore all around me.
Reaching into the cockpit, I ripped open the throat of the pilot as he shouted frantic messages, I guessed, back to the police station control room in Wasp Water.
With the Skinwalker spraying blood from his throat, I pulled up sharply, soaring upwards.
My wings fanned out on either side of me, as I flew just a few feet above the fields below. I felt a blast of heat wash over me as the helicopter exploded just below.
I raced back towards my friends. Meren was racing through the air, her father in her arms.
I could see the blood pumping through his fingers which were clutched to his side. There was one helicopter remaining, picking off the half and half’s. I scanned the sky and could only see Alice, Peter, and Gayle left flying. I followed their blazing wings as they raced towards the helicopter. Gritting my teeth, I pushed forward.
Coming up behind the machine, I roared around and tore after it, as the co-pilot released another volley of gunfire.
“Peter, its right behind us!” Alice yelled, her eyes bulging with fear.
Perhaps Murphy had been right. Maybe these half and half’s weren’t ready to fight yet.
They didn’t seem able to move with speed and agility as other Vampyruses. But then it had taken me time to learn how to master the art of flying.
“Try and shake it off,” Gayle hollered.
“I can’t,” Alice screamed, as the co-pilot fired at will again.
I rolled sharply to the right, then to the left, dodging the gunfire as I raced through the sky towards the helicopter. My wings beat powerfully up and down, their claws snatching at the air.
“I can’t shake him!” Alice screamed as the helicopter thundered after her.
Wave after wave of gunfire lit up the morning sky, as I lurched from side to side and up and down.
“Alice, he’s right on you!” Gayle hollered.
The helicopter hovered right behind Alice.
I looked to the left and could see the pilot sitting in his cockpit. He turned to face me and raised the visor on his helmet. His eyes burnt red and orange in their sockets.
Then over the sound of the roaring helicopter, I heard someone yell, “Form up on my right! Form up!”
I looked back over my shoulder to see Murphy and Meren racing through the sky towards us. Murphy still had one hand pressed against his side.
“I’ve been hit! I’ve been hit!” I heard Alice scream as she fluttered away, her wings in tatters.
Murphy swooped alongside me, as did Gayle, while Peter shot through the sky after his plummeting sister. “We’ve lost too many out here!” Murphy roared at me. “We can’t afford to lose one more.”
Together, the four of us raced after the helicopter. Reaching its tail, we split, Murphy and Meren one side, me and Gayle the other.
Reaching out with our claws, we took hold. Like black-winged locusts, we scurried over the helicopter and towards the cockpit. The pilot lurched the machine violently left then right trying to shake us free. My stomach flipped over.
Murphy went to work on the other side of the helicopter, removing large pieces of the machine with his claws. The engine made a whining sound as I reached the cockpit. With one quick swipe of my arm, I reached inside, yanking the co-pilot from his seat. I threw him screaming into the air.
Gayle plucked him out of the sky with her claws.
She shook him all over as she tore the Skinwalker in two. Both parts of him span away towards the ground, entrails fluttering like kite tails.
Then out the corner of my eye, I saw the cockpit window blow inwards. I snapped my head to the side to see Meren shove her face through the opening she had made with her claw. Snapping wildly with her fangs, she lunged at the pilot’s throat. With blood spraying from her mouth, she threw her head backwards, ripping the pilot’s windpipe free. She spat it out and wiped her lips with the back of one claw.
“Done?” I asked her.
“Done,” she grinned.
“Let’s get out of here then,” I smiled back at her.
We fluttered away as the helicopter spiralled out of control towards the uneven and rocky ground below.
Luke had been gone just moments before several of the Skinwalker cops entered the room.
I stood up, but one of them forced me back into my seat with a rough pair of hands. Surprisingly, Seth took a seat beside me. I glanced right at Jack. He sat staring ahead with his bright eyes, and his expression was unreadable – blank.
I looked back at the cops. There were four of them. Snapping her head forward, Lola barked at them as if prompting them to speak.
One of the cops was holding a clipboard.
He stepped forward, and looking at me, he said, “You have been found guilty of murder.”
“Murder?” I laughed. “I haven’t murdered anyone. I haven’t even had a trial.”
From the clipboard, the cop took what looked like a piece of paper and placed it on the table before me. I glanced down at it. It was a photograph of me holding the dead wolf boy in the barn.
“It is forbidden for a human to take the life of a wolf,” he said.
“I ain’t no human,” I smiled, glancing at Seth. I had him to thank for setting me up so that photograph could be taken.
“You are also convicted for being a traitor...” the cop continued.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it before,” I said, trying to sound my most cocky and arrogant, but deep in my heart, I didn’t have a clue as to how I was going to get myself out of this mess.
I glanced at Seth again. He stared ahead, and for once, his eyes looked black and dead. The light had gone out of them. Quicker than I believed a Lycanthrope could move, Seth had got up, the flesh from his arms had gone and two meaty, fur-covered claws were raised before him.
The cops looked at one another, then realising they were in trouble, two of them ran at him. I watched as Seth sliced his claws through the air, tearing open the cops’ faces. Fur oozed from between the red openings as they threw their hands to their faces and howled. The remaining two cops leapt at Seth and I watched in amazement at what I saw unfolding around me.
Seth opened them up so quickly that if I’d blinked, I would have missed all the fun. The skinwalking cops dropped to the floor where they kicked and thrashed, clutching the bleeding wounds Seth had opened in them. As they fought for their lives, the human skins they had stolen fell away, and I looked in disgust at their faces, which now lay bare. The cops’ heads were misshapen – elongated – and they each had a crisscross of open wounds weaved about their skull. Their mouths were huge and gaping, made of long fleshy lips that flapped in and out like giant gills. Wispy lengths of wolf hair hung from them.
Even I turned away in disgust as one of the dying Skinwalkers turned on one of his own and began to devour him. The sound of slurping and breaking bones was disgusting, and if my hands weren’t secured behind me, I would have covered my ears.
The door to the room crashed open and a fresh batch of Skinwalkers burst in. Seth turned to face them, his claws held above his head. He snarled, his thin twisted lips recoiling to reveal his pointed teeth. Seth moved towards the cops with such speed, that he had cut through four of them before they’d a chance to fire guns, which they held in their hands. The others came at him, the sound of their breathing deep and rasping as they started to change shape. One of them managed to release off a volley of bullets, and the room flashed bright white. Seth fell to the floor. At first I believed he had been shot. Then spinning on his back like an upturned turtle, he swiped away at the legs of the cops and brought them crashing to the floor. No sooner had he knocked them over, he was up again, leaping through the air at the remaining cops.
I saw it coming but was powerless to act, as I was still manacled at the rear. Lola bounded into the air, colliding with Seth and slamming him into the wall. Seth looked at her, and not for one moment did he show any sense of feeling or pain – his face was expressionless. He then ripped open her throat with his teeth. Lola made a whimpering noise as she kicked out with her back legs and thrashed her tail from side to side.
Eventually she fell still, dropping to the floor in a pile of white fur. I looked up at Seth and he looked back at me.
He rushed towards me. But instead of killing me, as I believed he would, Seth reached behind me, and broke my chains free. Jumping to my feet I looked in his eyes, which were now blazing again.
“Why have you saved me?” I asked, rubbing my wrists.
“I didn’t do it for you, I did it for my sister,” he said, his face wrinkled and hollow-looking. “I did it for Kiera.”