“…This was a one-sit read. Literally. I enjoyed it so much that I skipped housework and read the book. Take your book, find a 'cave' to crawl into where you can read undisturbed and in comfort, and run with the wolves, at least for a while.” ~ Rainy Day
“They saved the day with SCIENCE!” ~ Melani
“It is said there are no new stories...just new takes on old tales.
“I would say this does not apply to Wolf or, in fact, to the Were Chronicles as a whole. I have never read an more original take on shapeshifters...
“Wolf is a shining example of the skill and excellence inherent in Ms. Alexander's talent.” ~ Danielle
From a review of Random, the first book of The Were Chronicles:
“Random isn't just a story about shapeshifters, it's a story about humanity. It's about what it means to be a member of a family, a culture, a race….”~ Angela’s Library
I had not really thought past that moment, the moment where I Turned and became that wolf in spirit and in name, and crossed over into a shadowy world I really knew very little about. There were no manuals for this, no rule books, no training wheels – and what laws there were, governing this particular event, I had probably not so much broken as smashed into shards and then ground the pieces underfoot into dust. In that car, with the duffle bag – which suddenly seemed filled with irrelevant flotsam and jetsam of a past which I was already in the process of forgetting – at my feet, facing a future of which I knew practically nothing, all I had was that moment. The present. The fraction of a second that I was literally in, the amount of time that it took for an incoherent self-reassurance – something along the lines of, It will all be all right – scrolling across my otherwise empty mind like a marquee.
Yuri Volkov sat in the front passenger seat, next to a silent driver whose face I had never really had a chance to take a closer look at. I had been stuffed into the back, with my bag, and in a way I would have been quite content to have skulked there in silence, ignored and forgotten.
I actually spoke up, once, about ten minutes into the drive.
“Where are we going?” I asked. It seemed as though it was a reasonable question, but it was a long time before an answer came – so long that I had been this close to just assuming that I wasn’t going to be spoken to at all.
“The First Western Compound,” Yuri said at last. As though I should have known this already, and the significance of the information.
I had assumed that I would be assigned to a Lycan Pack, but if I had interpreted what was said and what had been left unspoken correctly, it looked as though I had been assigned to Yuri Volkov’s own pack. He wasn’t just the Prime Alpha, he would be my Alpha, my pack leader. Watching his half-profile from the back seat, the set of his jaw, I caught myself wondering whether it wouldn’t have been better to have waited and turned into that weasel… instead of opting to have it for breakfast.
Too late now, of course.
We kept driving. There was a break for something to eat, at a nondescript roadside diner, and then it was back on the road, in silence, with the driver and Yuri occasionally exchanging a few words in a language I didn’t understand. They did not speak to me.
I slept, eventually, curled up on the back seat with my head pillowed on my duffle bag.
When I woke, disoriented and bleary-eyed, the car was no longer moving. The car sat parked under a floodlight in what looked like a solid concrete underground parking garage, surrounded by several other cars of similar make and color, and Yuri Volkov loomed over me.
“We’re here,” he said. “Bring your things, and come.”
The two of us were alone; the driver seemed to have vanished. I obediently scrambled out of the back of the car and followed Yuri through a somewhat battered and scratched door that looked as though it needed painting into an empty anteroom with scuffed lino floors and what looked like a security camera brooding ominously in a corner. Yuri paused at another, inner, door, which he accessed by punching in a code on a numerical keypad. The door snicked open upon receipt of the correct password, and he gestured for me to follow him. We went through, the two of us, into a long corridor which was carpeted in a good quality wall-to-wall Berber and lit by sconced lights beside several closed doors leading off it. I followed closely as Yuri opened one of them, into another corridor, this one gently curving, one side of it apparently completely made of glass – but looking out into an unlit area, and giving back nothing but reflection. I saw myself slouching along in Yuri’s wake, slope-shouldered, my head tucked down and forward, looking anything but wolf-like. Eventually we appeared to pass into a different wing of the building we had entered, and stepped into a large open atrium which appeared to have a skylight on the roof and three stories of inward-facing open corridors from which you could look down into the atrium over matte black metal balustrades, with doors leading off them as though in a hotel. Yuri stopped at an elevator shaft at the far end of the atrium, half turned to me, and handed me a keycard.
“Room 210,” he said. “Second floor, that far corner over there. Don’t lose that card, without it you cannot access a large number of necessary areas here in the inner compound. There is a lot for you to learn, but I am not going to start that education tonight. Tomorrow, you will report to the lab for a full work-up, so that we can begin answering some of the questions behind what happened to bring you here. We will discuss matters in greater detail then.”
“Yes?” he said, having already turned to leave.
“Where… is the lab?”
He pointed economically to a door opening off the floor we were on. “That is the breakfast room,” he said. “If you want some tomorrow, someone in there will point you to the lab. We will expect you no later than nine – we usually start our work much earlier than that, but we will make an exception for you this once. Tomorrow is your first morning in your new home, after all. Sleep well.”
I took the elevator to the second floor and followed the corridor around to Room 210; the place seemed deserted – I didn’t know how large this pack was, how many people were supposed to be here, but I might as well have been the only one on the premises that night for all that I knew, a ghost drifting in an empty shell of a building. The card opened the door to Room 210 when swiped through the key lock, and it was with almost a sense of stepping into a cell that I crossed the threshold and closed the door behind me. The room itself was almost disappointingly unremarkable, more like a hotel suite in a reasonably up-market establishment than anything like living quarters – but it was a reasonable studio apartment as far as that was concerned. It had a tiny kitchenette, a sitting area with two comfortable armchairs and a flat-screen TV hanging on the wall like some strange blank work of art; behind a curved wall, hiding the area from the front door, was a double bed and a small efficient desk flanked by a (currently empty) bookshelf against the far wall. A half-open closet door faced the bed, and beyond that another door led into a tiled bathroom with a gleaming glass shower cubicle and a number of pale green towels stacked neatly on a small wooden table in the corner.
I wasn’t sure what I had been expecting. Possibly anything I found would have seemed strange. But I had the bizarre feeling of having arrived here for a pleasant vacation rather than a sense of having come to a place which would be home.
They had questions, to be sure. I had no real clue what kind of answers I could possibly give them that they would be satisfied with; I had no doubt that ‘a full work-up’ meant exactly what it said and that every molecule of me that they could get their hands on would be examined very closely indeed – and as far as that went, the process and its results might turn out to be quite exciting for them, I had very little idea of how my Random Were DNA and Chalky’s wild-card genetic contribution would pan out in their tests. I could only hope that I passed at least adequately enough to be accepted. The alternatives… I didn’t really want to think about. I had questions of my own, and I had a feeling that I probably wouldn’t like the answers to some of them all that much.
But that was for tomorrow morning. I figured I might as well try and get some sleep. Unpacking could wait – I took only one thing out of my bag, my sketch book, and tossed the rest into a corner of the closet. The notebook I tucked, with pathetic faith that nobody would search there, deep under the mattress of my bed. I’d find a better place to keep it, eventually, if everything worked out and I stayed here as a fully-fledged young Lycan. Some secrets I wanted to keep. I had no idea what they’d make of my sketch of shapeshifting Chalky.
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