9 – Lunatic

The next job Bonnie took was a simpler one. No escorting. No walking with the damned. Her skin still crawled and she wanted nothing more than to scrub her mind clean with the violence afforded to her profession.

There was a Full Moon coming. The Hunter’s Moon.

Worse things came out when the moon was full. Bonnie would know. She was one of those things.

At the very least though, she could focus monstrosity in the right direction.

The Union gave bonuses for anyone willing to work the full moon, so when it came around, Bonnie always went looking for something more…out of the way. Some monsters lurked in caves, others shacked up in abandoned buildings, and some traveled in large groups. Then there were those that walked alone because nothing could touch them.

Fears began to grow on a full moon night. Shadows were large, the wind was louder, howling things let their voices echo. It was a night where hunters became prey. The moonlight was bright, but its shine only illuminated the things that stalked in the dark. A gentle caress for things that reviled the sun. 

Some still traveled, trucks trundling along under the only natural light out there. Their own lamps like eyes in the night. A crash of steel heralded one being driven off the road by a bestial hogrel, its screech of rage sounding out before bullets slammed into its thick hide. It twisted, a boar’s head on an ape’s chest, hoofs digging into the dirt, and squealed all the louder at the guards along the convoy.

A young man stepped out into the waters of a shimmering lake. His pale skin was bare, unlike the robed figures that watched his journey into the reflection of the moon. Under their prayers, a wraith rose from the reflection, white hair a halo around a face with eyes like ivory. She took his head in her hands and bit his lips off.

Goldie Leraje sat in a well-lit bar. She pretended to drink what the bartender gave her and chatted merrily with the men around her. One put a hand on her shoulder, then froze when she asked about a man called Hound. Her revolver pressed beneath his chin before his teeth could lengthen, and her smile was wide as his brains painted the ceiling.

And Bonnie Mercadi was out in the dark, walking in the woods. The woods were where things happened on a full moon, though, really, things happened everywhere. The world turned, the hours pressed on, and the thoughts of mankind whirled in the late night. Worries, concerns, and the fear of the wolves howling at the door collected among the conscious. The night was filled with terror, and everyone knew the true monster to fear under the full moon was the Wolf.

Varcs were wolves in human skin. The ones she found were barely that. The skin they had was torn and frayed, ripped beyond use. Strings of red sinew covered bloodied fur. 

They watched her as she approached. She shed her coat and breathed out the cold as steam. Her head was bowed. She set her rifle down against a tree, then drew her revolver and knife. 

Snarls echoed around her. The varcs began to circle.

Then came the leader. The Alfa.

It wasn’t red like the others. It was white.

A varc was a monstrous wolf in human skin. An alfa varc was a monstrous thing in wolf’s hide. The original human skin had fallen away, and now there were white bones in tight skin pushing through white fur. The skull wasn’t human, not quite, too big, too long. The teeth were tombstones, made to crush. No eyes stared from its sockets.

Moonlight played about its body, glimmering off the grease clinging to its bones. A pair of rotted hearts beat with black and yellow bile, leaking from its open mouth. It was the nightmare in the dark, the wolf that scratched at the door, the one that whispered in a human voice, begging to be let in, begging for succor, for food.

Bonnie lifted her head. She was smiling, showing her teeth, as her yellow eyes glinted in the moonlight.

A red varc lunged and her knife flashed. It drove into the head and cleaved through the brain as she forced it down. As she twisted the blade and made it screech. Her smile grew.

They were on her. Once her six shots were done, she laid her revolver beside her rifle, beastbane and wolfsbane set together, and pried the jaw from her shoulder.

She turned. The moonlight glinted on her teeth. 

She kept the knife. She knew the instant she started using her hands, that was the point she would lose herself for the night. She wanted to though. The urge was there, as was the heat beneath her skin. No wolf though. She swallowed that down and let it burn, fuel for her fury.

Her foot crushed a varc’s skull. She stared at the alfa. Its head tilted with a crack as it regarded her. It stalked forward, moonlight glinting off its bones, and stood at twice her height. The furs clung to its withered skin, its body emaciated. It could feast for a day and its belly would never fill. 

More varcs pulled from the woods, stalking closer, jaws leaking with anticipation. 

She tilted her head, meeting one in the eye, and her smile widened all the more as it flinched.

The alfa moved then, fast enough for its flesh to rip. Fur writhed, blown by the wind. Its hand left its arm, and the hunter pressed in further. The pack lunged in, heeding the alfa’s call, and sharp teeth glinted in the moonlight. 

She lost her knife at some point. 

She didn’t eat. She wasn’t hungry.

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