Decades had passed since news of the existence of the shifter species had first been blasted across TV screens, radio waves, and the internet. Humans, no longer the top of Earth’s food chain, had reacted in fear and panic to the recordings of wolves’ roars and terrifying videos of their distorted bodies mid-transformation. Calls for their eradication from the planet rang out among the citizenry to governments who became mired in debates regarding the revelation and how to best handle it.
As those discussions went on with little or no action taken, vigilante organizations rose up to do the job they believed officials were too weak-willed to carry out. As their membership grew, the advantage in joining forces to destroy a common enemy did as well, and within a year, they coalesced. From the unification of those individual groups, a more brazen and effective faction rose into power, The Mankind Defense—TMD—with the firebrand Colonel Beau Braxton as their elected leader. The war-hardened military mastermind was determined to return humanity to supremacy and claim victory at any cost.
Under his rule, shifters, once proud hunters, became the hunted, trapped by snares and sharp legholds in the forests and mountains. Others were ripped from their homes, their torture and executions recorded or broadcast live over the internet to cheering, bloodthirsty spectators. Before being murdered, each of the captured were interrogated with the use of brutal and violent techniques to glean the locations of friends and family, as well as to gain knowledge about the shifter species. Many were injected with a serum developed by scientists recruited into the TMD to keep them in their wolf form after their deaths, so the last horrible act could be inflicted upon them—they were skinned for their pelts, which were then sold on the black market.
With the intelligence gathered from those they’d tormented, the TMD created a book containing the weaknesses and strengths of what they’d considered freaks of nature, an evolutionary mistake whose existence was their stated mission to end. It became a trusted resource, with a copy sent to anyone who joined the movement.
Unsatisfied with the thousands they’d massacred, the members turned to social media, spreading propaganda couched in enough truth to be plausible, scaring the already alarmed public. News of the legendary Hunger sparked horror, as the TMD concocted a fictitious rumor that, once the overwhelming mating instinct hit, a shifter would crave human flesh and, unable to fight the desire, would consume it until sated. The lie increased the TMD’s numbers a hundredfold.
But… not everyone agreed that shifters were a threat to humanity, and opposition to the TMD arose. Calling themselves The Samaritans, they sought to subvert and disrupt the faction’s influence on the public and their murderous deeds, while the police and other authorities turned a blind eye to what could only be described as ethnic cleansing.
Partnering with the remaining leaders of the shifter packs, The Samaritans held educational conferences and seminars to disseminate the truth and facts of the shifter species and to explain why they had remained hidden in plain sight for a millennium or more. Shifters were encouraged to participate and reveal themselves in that safe environment. Attendees were shocked to learn that their professors, ministers, supervisors, or even spouses had concealed their true identity.
Though decreasing in frequency, the slayings of the shifters persisted until that generation had passed. As the years went by, the prejudiced viewpoints faded into a more welcoming ideology in which opinions had changed from fear-based hate, to tolerance, and finally, acceptance. The aged Colonel Braxton had been found with his throat ripped out, and without his steel-gripped leadership, the TMD splintered.
Still, in the underbelly of society, there remained rogue militias intent on purging the world of shifters and their sympathizers, and they used the book as an integral tool in their war. Once that was discovered, The Samaritans, at their peril, infiltrated those small groups, adding falsehoods to the document to such an extent that after a time, the tome was deemed unreliable, and it was no longer circulated.
Dedicated men and women searched out copies of Ending the Shifter Disorder, destroying each one they found with the support and backing of government resources and legislation that was created to protect shifters in all their forms, granting them civil rights.
Shifters began to go about their lives confidently in the open. Cross-species relationships blossomed and thrived, with many more human women wishing to claim their own coveted alpha males.
Talk of what was contained within the pages of the book waned, and it was thought that it—in all its iterations—had been destroyed.
But one remained.
It had been hardbound with a black leather spine, and the hide of the first alpha executed was affixed to the front and back. Prized more than any of his other belongings, it had remained in the Colonel’s possession until his death.
After Braxton’s assassination, his living descendants, despising any affiliation with him, sold his estate, including every item found on the property. They accepted all bids, regardless of the amount, in their attempt to further break free from him and his legacy. Unbeknownst to anyone, the book had been placed inside one of the many boxes that were shipped to various auction houses across the country. No records regarding the sale were found, so there was no clear direction as to its fate.
A period of calm passed, but then reports began to surface that the book had survived, though its whereabouts were unknown.
And so, the race to find it—by shifters and their enemies—was afoot.
By one, to destroy it. By the other, to use it to slaughter with abandon.