The Hidden Ones

This story is set in the same "world" as LadyDragon623's stories about werefolk, vampires, fae and other supernatural creatures.

I have her express permission to use the "world" and characters she has mentioned in her stories if I feel they would fit into my stories here.

This story is a bit unusual for me, as it is almost all dialogue, primarily the narrator. I hope you all enjoy it.

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"I'm not sure just how you found us, but I suppose that it wouldn't hurt to tell you our story. It's not like anyone out there is going to believe you, anyway. I mean, everyone knows that there isn't any such thing as "natural shape shifters", it's all just a pipe dream, a fantasy, eh?

"Well, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, there, Mr. Simons, but you and everyone else out there are dead wrong.

"The problem, though, namely you being here, Mr. Simons, will need to be fixed. I suppose it can wait until after you hear our story.

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"Hmmm... my people, whom you can see as they go about their tasks here, have been here for nearly as long as the First Nations peoples. There are some who suggest that we might have been here even longer than that, but we have no records to verify that, I'm sad to say.

"We've roamed the lands of this country that you call the United States of America since time immemorial, and we will continue to do so. The difficulty we face, though, is that the world does not know of us, and to be honest, we would prefer that things remain that way.

"My name is Valentina Brightwing. Well, that is my name now. It wasn't always my name, though, as I was born as a male.

"Ahhh, you seem to be shocked at that. No matter, it's the truth, I have no reason to run around telling lies about myself.

"Our abilities to shift begin to come out around the time that we go through puberty. For me, that happened many years ago.

"What? You dare to doubt my word? Here, look at this, you fool!", as I toss a small billfold to him, over the leaping flames of the campfire. I waited as he shakily opened the billfold and pulled out the worn birth certificate, then looked at it and over at me in shock.

"That's right, Mr. Simons, I was born in 1841, in a shack on the outskirts of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The only reason we have a birth certificate was that I was born right in the doctor's office as my mother was being examined by a small, elderly woman, perhaps the doctor's mother?

"I don't know all of the details, just that my mother had been taken to Dr. Burton's offices due to possible birth complications.

"In any case, things progressed in the usual manner, the whole birth process taking a bit over a full day before I finally appeared."

Mr. Simons, still looking rather shaky, handed my billfold to a girl beside him, my younger sister Amelita, who brought it back to me.

"Thank you, Amy. Stay near him, he doesn't look too good at the moment. Perhaps I could tell this story another time?"

Amy shook her head and replied, "I don't think so, sis. There's something off about him. What it is, I'm not sure, but he's half scared to death."

"Well, Mr. Simons, do we wish for me to continue to tell you about us? Or should I wait until you are perhaps feeling better?"

The young man, his face a rather pasty white that definitely did not suit him, muttered, "Please... continue."

I nodded and shrugged. It wouldn't be my decision as to how he would be dealt with later, that would come from the pack leaders.

I nodded and continued to tell him about us. "Back in those days, Mr. Simons, doctors were few and far between. The fact that we were able to find Dr. Burton in his little shack was a stroke of good fortune for me, as my mother was watched over quite carefully the entire time.

"As I said earlier, I eventually came into this world, being born at 4:27 AM on July 5th of that year. The doctor noted the time and actually went so far as to mark it on the original certificate, of which this is but a humble copy. In any case, the time and my state of health were duly noted.

"My family, and the pack of which we are a part, are all natural shifters as I have told you already. If it had not been for the possibility that my mother would have had major issues with birthing me, I'm sure she would have done so out in the woods like most of our folks do.

"I spent the first several years of my life roaming the wilds of Louisiana with my family and the pack.

"Then the war between the states started and we fled deep into the wilds of western Colorado Territory to avoid notice.

"A few pack members were drawn into the fight, choosing to do their "duty" while hiding their true nature from the people around them.

"There are some stories told of how, during a battle, strange wolves or cats would appear and drag someone away from the place. It pains me to say that these were often times when one of our members, witnessing a friend fall in the battle, would slip away, shift, then save the friend.

"The friend would often recite garbled tales of how they were pulled from the battlefield by the wolf or cat, then treated by our folks.

"We were lucky that those stories were assumed to be tall tales and all but one of our boys returned when the fighting finally ended.

"It was during that war that I finally entered puberty and began to assume what I thought would be my adult form.

"You need to know, I did not dream of being a girl as a child, although I did play with corn husk dolls with Geneva and Amelita, my sisters.

"In any case, it was in the early winter of 1862/'63 that I matured. It wasn't until mid-spring of 1863, though, that my oddity was discovered. One morning, I awoke before the rest of my immediate family and tramped out to the homely well we had set over a natural spring. I was just rising from having ducked my face into the bucket to get it wet and wipe it down when I heard a gasp from somewhere near me.

"I turned slightly to my left, and there, coming from the small barn near the other end of the property, was my sister Geneva. She gasped again as I fully straightened up, showing my shirtless chest, then pointed at it once more before she slowly walked up to me and touched my chest.

"Dear brother, I do believe you may actually be another sister. You have what looks like the breasts of a young girl."

"I looked down in shock and she was right, there were small but noticeable mounds on my chest. I shrieked and promptly fainted.

"I'm told that Genny called dad and told him to get our medicine man. A few minutes later, I woke to find myself being examined. It was an odd experience, to say the least, as the medicine man would touch my chest now and then, then break into strange sounding chants.

"After some time had passed, he finally ended his chants and nodded at me. Genny, dad and several other people who had gathered around to see if I was okay began to drift away, returning to their various chores as the medicine man spoke to me while we sat near the covered well.

"He spoke to me for some time, telling me that I was an unusual person, fated to be female from the time of my conception, but my physical appearance at the time I was born led Dr. Burton to assume that I was fully male, and so I lived my early years under that assumption.

The truth was otherwise, as I was now discovering to my shock. It took a good bit of time before the medicine man convinced me.

"At that time, people like myself were rarities and were usually forced to live as males until circumstances made that impossible. Well, perhaps not rarities in the strictest sense if you lived in one of the cities, but when you live in the back woods instead, it's quite unusual. What made it even odder in my case, though, was my extremely delayed puberty. I was, at the time I'm telling of, almost 22 years old.

"From that time on, I lived as one of the women in our little community in the deep woods and mountains of western Colorado Territory.

"Things remained like that, with me adjusting to life as a female, until just after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

"Several members of the pack once again entered the war effort, using forged documents so as to not reveal their true ages. I can just imagine the shock on an army or navy recruiter if someone walked up who produced documents showing they were 432 years old.

"Yes, we have a few folks who have been alive for that long, one of those being Philippe, the Frenchman sitting three to your left.

It was amusing to watch the startled Ed Simons' head snap around to look at Philippe sitting near him, then back at me in utter disbelief.

"You find that hard to believe? Philippe here was born on the dirt streets of one of the smaller towns ringing the city of Paris in early 1509, during the reign of Louis the XII. He spent his early years roaming the streets of fair Paris, then wandering all over northern France.

"He came into his 'gift' as a natural were in the fall of 1524 when he was just reaching his full growth as a young man of fifteen summers.

"He had hardly known his father, who had only dropped by when he was in the area, being a ship's mate on a French pirateer. The father was lost in a battle somewhere off the north coast of Africa when Philippe was ten, and Philippe's mother died of an ague when he was fourteen.

"Philippe there," I pointed at Philippe, "Had known his father had served on board ships, so he thought to follow in his father's footsteps. He signed on to a French sailing vessel as a cabin boy, someone who does many of the most menial of shipboard duties while at sea.

"It was while they were at sea that Philippe's gift finally revealed itself and he changed in the presence of half a dozen stout seamen. They were taken unawares for a moment by the young wolf standing in front of then, then again when he changed back a few minutes later.

"Some of these seamen had led long lives at sea, seeing many parts of the known world and had learned of oddities that would be unusual anywhere. It was one of these, a man by the name of Jean Valpierre, who convinced his fellow seamen to leave the boy alone.

"It took further talk by Jean before they agreed that having a young wolf on board during the night watches meant two of the men could sleep. Thus it was that young Philippe was informed when he awoke the next morning of his new duties, those being approved by the captain.

"Philippe wandered the high seas for many a long year, slowly working up the ranks until he ended up with his own ship in 1552. He was by that time 43 years old, but hardly looked a day over 25, and his legend as a fierce protector of the innocent caused him much grief, often resulting in his ship and men entering fights where they were outnumbered but apparently not outmatched and rescuing said innocents.

"Philippe retired from the sea life in 1596, at which time he was actually 87 years old, but appeared to be about forty.

"He had made enough from his various enterprises while at sea to set himself up as a merchant selling fairly decent 'claimed' weapons and other gear of the fighting life that he had acquired over the years. Every so often, he would close a shop, move somewhere else and start again.

"It was this habit that saved his life on numerous occasions over the years. As you can see, he still looks to be no more than fifty or so.

"In any case, Philippe and nearly a dozen others joined the US war effort, most going overseas some time in 1942. Five of the almost a dozen were at the Battle of Dieppe. Four of those survived, although one lost a leg and was sent home as they expected he would die.

"He didn't, though, he held on through sheer stubbornness, returning to us without revealing himself, then shifted and was shocked when he found that he no longer had his left hind leg as a wolf. That would be Sean McCoy, sitting over there," as I pointed at another man.

"Seven of the original near dozen, now down to nine, were at the Battle of Normandy, landing at Utah, Omaha and Sword Beaches.

"Of the seven who fought there, five survived, all of those with multiple wounds but nothing considered immediately life-threatening.

"Those five returned home in the early winter of 1944/45, after spending some time at a base in the UK receiving additional medical care.

"The last two members of the group had been on the northern fronts almost since they arrived in Europe. They came through it all unharmed.

"As for me, I wasn't allowed to go and fight with them, thanks to the rules the military had in place then. If I could have, I would have, you can bet your last dollar on that, Mr. Simons. Just because I may be female doesn't mean I can't fight like the meanest bitch you've ever seen.

"And yes, Mr. Simons, I said bitch, and I meant bitch. My were form is a silver and brownish black wolf bitch of rather large size.

"I saw that snort, Mr. Simons. So you don't believe me, eh? Well, I guess I'll prove it to you, then," I stated as I casually stood up in the presence of close to 35 men and more than a dozen women, then stripped until I was naked before I howled and assumed my wolf form.

As I had said, I'm a rather large bitch, standing as tall as many a full grown male timber wolf, of which we have several in our pack. To say that Ed Simons was startled would be a major understatement, even more so when I stalked up to him in wolf form and howled at him.

That howl was taken up by almost all of the other werefolk who were present, except for the four cats, who yowled in happy chorus with us.

I could tell by the smell coming from Ed Simons that my sudden actions had caused him to piss his pants, and I quickly resumed human form. I took a moment to look down at the stain on the front of his old jeans, then chuckled and strode back to my seat by the huge campfire.

"Well, now you know that I speak the truth, Mr. Simons, and it is rather obvious to all of us that we scared the piss out of you a moment ago. Oh, we also know about your actual physical condition, Mr. Simons, three of our people work as nurses in local clinics and hospitals. Well, if you can call something local that is around a hundred miles away, I suppose. Mr. Simons, why aren't you carrying your seizure medication?"

"I... I for... forgot to put it in the pack before I left home today," Ed Simons replied, stammering as he started speaking, then calming a bit.

"So you came all the way out here to wander some forest trails without your medication? Goddess, why are there such stupid fools?" I growled as I leaned down to pickup my clothing, putting it on piece by piece as if I were alone in the clearing. Modesty is not one of my traits, obviously.

I sighed as I finished getting dressed, then took my seat again, with a brief look around the clearing and the people around the campfire.

"Mr. Simons, Tomas," I pointed to another male seated around the large fire, "Will guide you out of the forest and to your car. Oh, just to make it clear to you, even if you somehow convinced Tomas to bite you, you will not become one of us. We are natural weres, the hidden ones."

Tomas stood, walked over to Ed Simons, helped him to stand, waited for him to put his pack on, then led him away from the forest clearing.



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