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An animalistic, harsh snarl filled the room as shadows moved. As though there were many, not just one. Dark, brutal shadows, glowing eyes advanced.
Storme stared at the aberration. The merciless eyes, the face that seemed too young, and yet too cruel. And she memorized it. Memorized the creature that she knew would kill what was left of her family.
Her brother jumped in front of their father, to save him, Storme knew. That was James, so protective, so loving. As the Coyote latched onto her brother's fragile shoulders, Storme covered her mouth with her hand to hold back her screams and watched in horror.
Dear, beloved James. He played word games with her, made her laugh, and as she watched in horror one of those horrible monsters grabbed him, bent his head, and tore James's throat out.
Blood sprayed as another explosion outside lit the room with brutal light, displaying the scene in harsh detail.
Bile rose in her throat as it tilted its head back, the face, so like a human's, covered in blood as its lips opened and a howl echoed around her.
They could smell fear. They could smell her. Her father had warned her of that.
He had made her swear to protect herself and the secrets he had risked his life to steal.
If she stayed, she was dead. Her brother was already dead, and she knew her father wouldn't survive.
Because of the Breeds. Because of the human animals these scientists had created, trained, and were now turning loose on the world. Breeds, like the one now tasting her brother's blood.
She backed down the stairs. The darkness enfolded her, wrapped around her. She could hear her father screaming, denying that his daughter was there. She was gone. He had sent her to stay with relatives.
He swore he had no information. He stole nothing. His daughter had nothing. He was screaming in pain and fury.
They would know better. They would have smelled her presence in the house if they had passed by it. They were that good. But here, deep beneath the earth, cocooned as though in a grave, she was safe.
The smell of her father's and brother's blood above, the smell of smoke, fear and death would hide her for a little while. And once she was through the tunnel and into the small town beyond where the tunnel exited, she would have a chance to run.
She was alone.
She could feel it.
A strange sense of disassociation filled her, washed over her and stopped the tears. Fear choked her, made it hard to breathe, but her mind felt mercifully numb.
As she felt her way through the drainage tunnel her father had dug into years before, Storme knew he must have foreseen the chance that he and her brother could be caught doing whatever it was they had been doing.
She had known for years that they were frightened of the people they worked for.
That they couldn't leave. That only Storme had the ability to travel back and forth from school in America to this small community her family lived within.
The place her mother had died just after Storme's birth.
Had those who had killed her brother killed her mother as well?
This place, these Breeds--because of them, because of her father's loyalty to them, everything she had held dear had been destroyed. They had destroyed everything that was love and security to her.
She shouldn't be alone. Her father and her brother should have come with her.
They should have saved themselves and damned the information they were so desperate to destroy.
Information that her father swore would destroy so many innocent Breeds. Were any of those creatures truly innocent?
As she made her way through the damp, muddy tunnel, the sight of her brother's death flashed before her eyes, over and over. The memory of the Coyote's head bending--
canines curved and wicked, flashing in the light of the explosions outside and tearing into his throat--sliced through her mind.
There was nothing that could numb that memory. Nothing that could erase it or the nightmare vision that insisted on invading her soul at the thought that her father was suffering the same fate.
Breeds. Killers. Animals. They were monsters. Evil, wicked monsters that man had created, that man was now losing control of, just as her father had warned them they would lose control. The Breeds were turning on their creators, escaping, killing, turning the world into a place of conflict where their very humanity was in question. There was no redemption for the Breeds; they had no mercy, no compassion, just as the other scientists had always warned her father. A Breed was a Breed. A Coyote was still a Breed, and a Coyote had just destroyed her world.
They were without souls.
And now Storme was without family.
As she reached the metal ladder below the drainage gate just outside the small Chilean town, Storme forced herself to find the energy to climb to it and push it open.
The serene calm she had seen in the town during short visits didn't exist now.
People were pouring out of their homes, standing and watching the display of light and explosions on the mountain above their homes.
Storme slipped silently along the edge of the crowd, her gaze locked on the mountain. Howls echoed from above, enraged and filled with fury as gunfire and explosions continued to rip through the night.
Moving quickly, hurriedly, she began to run through the shadows to the house outside of town. The one her father had promised he would meet her at.
He wouldn't be there. It wouldn't matter how long she waited, he would never be there. Only death would find her there if she waited, and she had promised her father she wouldn't allow death to find her.
As she reached the house, she didn't wait around. Racing into the small attached garage, she threw the canvas from the old, rusted pickup that sat there.