When the Wolf first emerged from the criminal underworld on Earth, clawing his way to the top of the heap, the wealthy families who had relocated to the Moon and the first class living installations there didn't pay much attention. Those who had dealings with Earth were used to the changing regimes of the crime families that now reigned supreme behind the politicians left on Earth. For the Moon Families, their planet of origin was no longer much of concern. It was considered a teaching tool, an entire planet sized museum of the past, but their focus was on the future and the stars.
Then the Wolf became a household name, and Earth a testing ground, for a certain generation among the Moon families. They wanted the taste of danger, the thrill of escape… for the Wolf would occasionally select one or two of the young men and women who would visit Earth for schooling or leisure, and they would disappear. Sometimes for days, sometimes for months. Those who spent the shortest amount of time with the Wolf returned with wild stories of orgies and incredible sex, of pain and pleasure, and the adrenaline rush that could only come with the fear of death.
Perhaps not surprisingly, their peers immediately began to make trips to Earth in droves, secure in the knowledge that they most likely would not be taken… but wanting to tempt fate. Their entire lives had been safe, stale… and so far none of those taken by the Wolf had ever failed to return.
Of course, there were those who disappeared for months. When they were returned to their families they never spoke of their ordeal; the only way it was known that they had spent time with the Wolf was when they were recognized by those who had been returned after only a matter of days and were bragging about the experience.
His following and power was such that the press was only able to obtain a few photos and little information. Most of what was known of the Wolf came through those few who had been taken or the intermediaries of Earth who dealt with the Moon in business transactions.
But the tourist trade on Earth swelled, as the wealthy denizens of the moon continued to court danger, never knowing who might be taken next.
Bella woke slowly, feeling groggy. The inside of her mouth tasted awful. The inside of her head felt even worse. She moaned, shifting a little bit and wondered why she was laying on something so hard and uncomfortable.
"Bella," a familiar voice whispered urgently. "Bella, are you awake? Are you okay?"
"Alex?" Her voice came out as a hoarse croak. She forced her eyes open, blinking and squinting as the light blinded her for a moment. "Alex, what's going on?"
There was a muffled whimpering sob behind her and Bella tried to turn to see who was there, only to be pulled short by the cording around her wrist, secured to a pole. Horrified, she stared at the cording, before blinking and looking in the direction that Alex's voice had come from.
He was sitting up, leaning against another pole that his wrists were tied to.
What kind of sick joke was this?
Memories swirled. Bella and her boyfriend Ken had come on vacation to Earth with his best friend, Alex and Alex's girlfriend Lisa. They'd only had a few days left before going home when she and Alex had gone out to a museum that neither Ken nor Lisa were interested in. Unfortunately, neither she nor Alex had anticipated how interested Ken and Lisa were in each other. They'd come back early from the museum, feeling bad about deserting their partners, to find that Ken and Lisa hadn't missed them at all.
Bella had been horrified, Alex had been angry, they'd both packed up their stuff immediately, ignoring the pleas from Ken and Lisa, and gotten in a taxi. She'd been so glad that Alex had been there; Bella knew she was a bit of a pushover and if it hadn't been for Alex's righteous anger she wasn't sure that she would have been able to resist Ken's manipulations and explanations. Not to mention that her family had been incredibly approving of their relationship; Ken's father was very influential when it came to assigning space in the housing installations. It had been Alex who had helped her to realize that she had every right to break up with Ken, that it wasn't her fault he'd cheated on her, and that she needed to get away. Now.
But what the hell had happened after they'd gotten in the taxi? She remembered crying on Alex's shoulder and then... nothing.
"I'm sorry, Bella, I'm so, so sorry," Alex said miserably.
"What's going on?" she asked again, her voice becoming a bit shrill.
"Shhh," he said, doing his best to be soothing, although it was obvious from the tension in his body that he was suppressing his own amount of panic. "Stay quiet." There was enough of a forceful demand in his voice that she pushed down the scream that wanted to bubble up out of her throat.
Another whimper behind her had her scooting toward the pole so that she could sit up the way Alex was and look around. A fragile looking young woman was also tied to a nearby pole. She had practically wrapped herself around it in fact. With her big crystal blue eyes, white-blonde hair, and slight figure, she looked like a captured pixie. She looked incredibly young, but she was so slight that she could have been quite a bit older than her looks indicated.
"What's going on?" Bella asked again, unable to completely keep the panic out of her whisper.
"I'm so sorry," Alex repeated, looking even more miserable. "We should have never come to Earth… never gotten into that taxi..."
Slowly the hazy memories coalesced. She remembered Alex asking the driver why he was descending into the city when they should have been ascending to head to the space port... the sickly sweet smell that had filled her nose and mouth and Alex shouting...
"Oh my god..."
"Bella, it's okay, be calm."
"Calm? Be calm? How can you say that?" Her voice rose to a shriek, which was cut off when metal scraped against concrete. Immediately all three of them turned towards the sound and Bella's breath strangled in her throat.
The biggest and most dangerous looking man she'd ever seen in her life filled the doorway. The room they were in suddenly felt much smaller than it had a moment ago. His cold gaze swept over all three of them, lingering on the little blonde, who whimpered again as his lips hooked up in a cruel smile. The man had the same white-blonde hair as the young woman, although his was barely half an inch long, cut very close to his head, and his eyes were a clear grey. A vacant, sinister grey. Bella didn't blame the other woman for whimpering, she felt like doing so herself and he'd only looked at her for a moment. There was something about him, the way he held himself maybe, that screamed violence and danger. This was the kind of man that would never be approved for immigration to the moon, based on that alone.
Dressed in dark pants with lots of pockets that bulged, a grey t-shirt and a vest that also looked to have filled pockets, the first word that went through Bella's mind was "Mercenary."
"Good. You're all finally awake."
The cruel smile widened in anticipation and Bella finally understood why her roommates had wanted her to be quiet.