The witch led me to a room with a folding table and chairs. Lunch was burgers from a fast-food place. Cold, but still delicious (at least compared to MRE’s). An older gentleman in an army uniform entered as I was gobbling the last burger.
“Hello,” he greeted me.
“Mmph.” I hastily swallowed. “Sir.” I half-rose but he waved me back down.
“What am I to do with you, fairy? Major Kaputt wants to lock you up and throw away the key.”
“Who?” I frowned.
“The man you attacked. He can’t speak, but there’s nothing wrong with his hands. He’s written pages about you and your punishment for your ‘unprovoked’ attack on him,” Oz volunteered.
“It wasn’t unprovoked,” I said softly.
He shrugged. “I think it was self-defense, but I’m not a lawyer.”
“Unfortunately the security cameras were fried. Dr. Foster was killed and Dr. Frank is still unconscious. We have only your testimony and Major Kaputt’s.”
“Mmm…what physical evidence there is, is inconclusive. The only thing we know is that the major’s gunshot Dr. Foster and Dr. Frank. And you tore out the major’s throat.”
“Intent is irrelevant where magically assisted violence is concerned. I should put a silver bullet through your heart.”
“Oh.” I looked down at my hands. I hadn’t realized just how much trouble I was in until that moment.
“I said I should. However, being acquainted with your victim, I’m inclined to believe there was provocation. Besides, it would be premature to execute you without all relevant evidence and testimony.”
Oz snorted. “The major is a xenophobic, homophobic, and racist bastard. Lots of people would consider what you did to be a public service.”
The general gave him a mock glare. “Be that as it may, I am willing to accept your parole until the hearing.”
“What would it entail?”
“Don’t leave the area, show up for the hearing, don’t break any more laws before the hearing and…”
“…and I bind your magic,” Oz finished.
I tilted my head in thought. “Define ‘area’.”
“Well…I may need to go to the beach.”
He blinked. “In January?”
“Um…yeah. Family stuff.”
“What sort of family stuff?”
“Well…” I squirmed. “I’m kinda attending college on probation. My aunt may want to check up on me.”
“No-o-o…more ‘living among humans’ probation,” I muttered.
He narrowed his eyes. “Would there be possible political consequences if you were executed?”
“Um, yeah. Probably.”
He swore softly. “Do you have diplomatic immunity?”
I shrugged. “No idea. We’ve been pretty isolated for awhile.”
“How long is awhile?”
I shrugged again. “Millennia? There’s not a whole lot that you have that we want.”
“Just what are you?” He demanded.
“One of the Mer folk,” Oz answered quietly.
“I thought they were extinct.”
“So did I. Apparently we were misinformed.”
“Yeah, well, given how humans treat those who are different, can you really blame us for hiding?”
“No. I suppose not. How would a Mer become a werewolf anyway?”
“There are three ways to become a werewolf: genetic, infection, or curse. Only humans are susceptible to the disease. The infected then give rise to the born ‘Wolves. Witches curse people. So…our young guest most likely has a werewolf ancestor.”
“The usual way, I suspect,” Oz said sardonically.
The General sighed. “Oz, you are not helping. I need to know if he’s a threat.”
The witch studied me for a long time. “No more than anybody is. Threaten those he cares about and he will defend them. He does need to learn to control his ‘Wolf, but I’m sure the local Pack would be willing to help.”
I snorted. Sure they would. Not. I seriously doubted that they’d open their arms to one of mixed blood. If anything they’d probably tear my throat out. I wouldn’t even have my aunt to protect me. I wasn’t a fighter. I didn’t even know how they viewed herms. Besides, I didn’t want to leave until I knew how Mr. Frank was doing. What if he died while I was gone?
“Stop being a child. It’s for your own good.”
“Stop treating me like a child then,” I snapped back. “Then maybe I’ll stop acting like one. I don’t recall anyone asking what I want. Given the prejudice against occults in general and specifically against those of mixed-blood, what makes you think the local werewolf pack will welcome my presence?”
“What do you mean?” The general frowned. “I was told that you needed to spend time with the Pack to learn to control your shifting. There was no indication that your presence would be unwelcome. Oz?”
The witch shrugged from where he leaned nonchalantly against the wall. “It’s possible.” He smiled thinly. “They don’t necessarily disclose the inner workings of the Pack to me or any outsider. Still…if you don’t learn control you are a danger. Rogue werewolves tend to be shot on sight.”
I scowled. “I’m not a rogue.”
“You attacked a man and seriously injured him,” Oz gently reminded me. “Some forms of lycanthropy are highly contagious. It is a life-altering condition. Since you aren’t a member of a Pack, we could kill you right now without any repercussions.”
Oz waved away my protest. “I meant from the human law or Pack law. However…I suspect the fairies would also protest your death.”
The General snorted. “They could protest all they want. The boy would still be dead.” He leaned back in his chair. “I’m inclined to rule your attack as justifiable self-defense. I do know the major. He could provoke a saint…and you’re no saint. However, you do need to prove yourself willing and able to learn control. Consider spending time with the Pack as part of your punishment.”
“Part of my punishment?” I narrowed my eyes. “What’s the rest?”
“Training with Oz to master your Water magic.”
“What?” The witch exclaimed. “How did I get dragged into this?”
“You are the premier witch in the area. Training new witches falls within your purview.”
“He’s not a witch!”
“Consider it a challenge…unless you feel incapable? I could find someone else…”
“Fine,” he huffed. “Manipulative bastard.”
So it was arranged: I would spend two months with the werewolf Pack and then come back to train with Oz in Water magic. I had no idea how to explain the situation to my aunt, not that I was given the opportunity. The very next day I was packed off to Wolf Camp to spend two months in the Great Outdoors. Goody, goody gumdrops.