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Jace speared a large piece of bacon with his fork and lifted it to his mouth. He was about to take a bite when the door to the mess hall burst open and Hal Peters, his second-in-command, rushed into the room. Hal was good at his job, but he could be over-excitable, like an enthusiastic puppy-highly strung and oh, so eager to please.
"Sir, we have a problem," Peters twittered.
Jace put down his fork and sighed. "What is it this time?"
"A report has just come in of another attack."
"So get a team assembled." Jace made a grab for his fork, but Peters didn't move from his position.
"Uh, that's not the problem," he said, shuffling nervously from foot to foot.
Jace drew his eyebrows together and waited. When Peters wasn't forthcoming with a reply, he asked, "Would you care to enlighten me?"
Hal's gaze darted around the room, purposely looking anywhere other than at Jace.
"I'm not a mind reader, Peters. Now would be good, before my breakfast gets cold, yeah?" Jace picked up his coffee and took a sip. It tasted like shit. Nothing unusual-he'd become used to drinking the garbage since he'd taken on the job in the desert sanctuary.
Hal chewed on his bottom lip. "The eyewitness report suggests the wolf was standing upright, sir."
Jace snorted coffee up his nose. When he'd finished coughing and spluttering, he glared at Hal. "Do I even need to tell you how ridiculous that sounds? You know as well as I do that 'wolf-men' are the stuff of fiction. Where did the reports come from?"
"Well, there you go. Probably some drunk who fell out of a casino or a junkie off his face on sludge."
"The doctor we spoke to said the witness is in pretty bad shape, sir. She said he was practically torn apart."
That got Jace's attention like nothing else. He might not give any credence to tales of werewolves that could walk around like humans, however if there was a wolf out there that was harming humans, let alone killing them, it was his job to bring them in. How they were punished wasn't up to him, but he'd yet to see anyone convicted of killing humans being allowed to live. Shifters that killed generally showed no remorse or had no regard for rules of any kind, and the sanctuary was all about the rules. The space inside the walls of the compound's prison was already limited so keeping prisoners was discouraged-a waste of time and resources.
"The witness is still alive then?"
Hal nodded. "He's being treated for lacerations at Sunrise Medical Centre. The doctor said he's not in a good way. They were able to question him when he arrived. However, he's lost a lot of blood and his injuries are bad. They don't know if he'll make it through the night, sir."
The metal legs of Jace's chair scraped across the concrete floor as he stood. "Get the men together-two teams. Be ready to leave in ten minutes."
When Hal left the room, Jace carried his plate through to the kitchen and slammed it down on the counter top. "Goddamn it!"
Since the council elders had passed the vote three years ago for shifters to reveal themselves to humans, there had been more violent incidents than ever before. It seemed the humans would have been better off left in the dark, after all. They were scared, and scared humans were dangerous.
Vigilante groups had sought out packs and decimated them. Now it was the wolves that were running scared. Most packs had disbanded, but without the discipline of an alpha, the wolves were becoming dangerous-both to humans and to themselves. And that was just the wolves. The other supernatural species had never had the restraint of wolves because they'd never had an alpha to answer to and now they were even worse. Many saw humans as open targets. The world had changed so much in the past three years that it was practically unrecognisable-a war zone. Man against shifter...and anyone who got caught in the crossfire was just a casualty of that war.
As a result, the government had set up the shifter facility, deep in the heart of the Mojave Desert. The compound was huge, the size of a small town, and more shifters were arriving every day.
There were whispers that the base used to be what people referred to as Area 51. Naturally that was a rumour that would never be confirmed or denied by the government. If it was true, then they had decided to devote their time and manpower to species that were from closer to home. The government had named the facility the 'desert sanctuary'. Humans with a lot of anger and little imagination called the place 'hell'. To the many shifters who lived within its confines it was simply home.
The facility itself wasn't a prison, it was a safe haven-a place where shifters could live out their lives without looking over their shoulder every minute of the day. Jace was leader of the special ops task force that had been set up to capture shifters that had harmed humans and to clean up the mess they had left behind. Some of the shifters Jace brought back to the facility were punished. Some were able to be rehabilitated and integrated back into a pack, but the others...</block>