He opened his eyes to see a little manog girl wearing a blue dress with ruffled hems. She couldn’t have been more than five. Her eyes had a serene quality. As hard as he tried, Brad couldn’t see his enemy; only another version of Moriah.
“Lord forgive me; I can’t do it,” he whispered, ending the grenade’s whine with a twist back.
He waited with lowered head, finding the silent seconds before his demise unbearable.
“Just do it,” he said brokenly.
The lower half of a grey, pin striped suit appeared in his downturned vision. By its bulk alone, he knew he faced a manog, let alone the hair covered elongated feet. Brad winced, fearing the jaws that would crush his skull with ease.
“You don’t remember me; do you?”
Brad couldn’t help raising his head. The voice sounded familiar. He studied the massive being wearing the immaculate suit for a time. In his mind’s eye, the silver flecked fur of age fell away, leaving a younger manog.
“Hunter?” he asked meekly.
“Hunter no more,” said the manog. “Cadoboras now.”
Brad looked about the room, gaping at the gathered faces.
“They’re my church,” said Cadoboras.
Brad looked at the manog, unbelieving.
“I’m a Christian now,” said Cadoboras.
He hugged Brad tightly.
“You don’t know how long we’ve searched for you.”
Both human and manog surrendered to tears as the church looked on.
One little manog girl tugged her mother’s hand.
“Mum; why are they crying?”
“They’re just brothers,” she whispered.
None dared interrupt them until they had spent their tears. When they pulled away, Brad pushed back his goggles.
“I finally get to see the face at last,” said Cadoboras. “For 40 years we could only catch a glimpse of you on the rooftops. We didn’t dare approach you because of all the weapons you carried.”
“Don’t be. We understand you had to protect yourself… and others. You became very frustrating to Entabaran.”
“My brother, led the pack I was with. You took a lot of people out of the city. He didn’t like that, nor did he like it when I became a Christian. Our law says we have to kill anyone who betrays the pack. I should’ve been eaten alive. My brother instead, ordered my exile. I found men and merge mutations. Over the years, we formed a church.”
“If I could hear you from the foyer, the pack can hear you from the street,” said Brad. “They should have detected you by now.”
“I can only assume my brother led the pack away from us all these years, but that’s coming to an end very soon.”
“Only the strongest can lead a manog pack. My nephew is growing stronger, while my brother grows weaker. That’s why we were looking for you.”
“What do you mean?”
“You come to the city a couple of days then you disappear for weeks. You’ve got sanctuary somewhere; haven’t you; a place where you can heal and prepare before coming back here?”