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Warden Sanchez sat in his office, a bottle of vodka sitting on his desk as he glanced over the folders before him. There had been a riot earlier that day, but it had been quelled and he was looking over those involved now. It wasn’t quite certain what had started the riot, but it had ended up with several people sent to the infirmary with strange cuts and lacerations.

More curious, however, was five of the prisoners involved. They had over their time incarcerated formed their own small gang known as The Pack. He’d read over their files and the information regarding their capture and stories, but there were still several parts that didn’t quite make sense in some cases. Why did the strangest of the lot have to form their own gang?

Taking a shot of vodka from the bottle he picked up the first folder and looked over the picture. It showed a short man in his late thirties, eyes barely looking at the camera. It had taken them several tries to get a good enough picture with how jumpy he was. “James R. Palenko, A.K.A. Jimmy the Rat…”

“There! Hey you! Stop!”

The officer yelled out at a figure he saw dash past a streetlight with a large bag over his shoulder. He was on patrol that night when he heard a call about a break in at a nearby house. He was on his way there when he saw the figure leaping down the street, clearly in a hurry.

Quickly, he turned on the sirens and chased after the figure, lights catching him now and then as he caught up. It wasn’t long before the thief (it had to be the thief, who else would run from a cop?) turned and ducked into a nearby alley. Cursing, the officer leapt out of his car and ran after him. “Halt! Police!”

The chase ran through the alleys of the buildings, and the officer was thankful for all the trips to the gym he made, climbing over the occasional fence and leaping around dumpsters. Whoever this person was, they were in good shape. After a long chase it seemed he lost him, running up to find an empty street, no sign of the thief anywhere.

He stood in the middle of the street, listening, the sounds of traffic in the distance. Damn, he thought. He got away. Chief’s gonna have my gun for-

He froze. He heard something, almost like a squeak of a rat, coming from a nearby dumpster. Carefully, he stepped towards it, pulling out his gun and listening. There was rummaging, followed by the sound of a faint curse. “Come out of there!” he cried out, pulling up his gun. “I know you’re in-”

What came next happened so fast he later wondered if he was seeing things clearly. Some… THING leapt out of the garbage bin, looking almost like some kind of monster. It tried to run down the street, but in his shock the officer fired, the creature collapsing to the ground. When the officer approached it, he found the short figure lying on the ground, blood pooling from the bullet wound in his leg. The bag was lying next to him, opened and with silverware and china spilling out of it onto the street.

The officer lifted up his radio. “Officer Kendall here… I got the thief on Wilson Boulevard. Gave me quite a chase too…”

“…found guilty of breaking and entering and attempted theft. Sentenced to five years. Incarcerated 2007.” Sanchez looked down at the notes again. James had been shot in the leg, but recovered fairly quickly. In the prison he tended to stay out of the way, but listened a lot. Unfortunately he seemed to be reporting information to the leader of the Pack.

He closed Jimmy’s folder and thought over it. Of the five of them, he was the most normal, despite being as jumpy as he was. Maybe he just got bad luck in which group he decided to join up with. Turning back to the pile of folders, he picked up the next one.

The next picture showed a man with untidy brown hair and a long, handsome face that you could trust. Then again, that was what had allowed him to get away with his crime as long as he did. “Cliff Henderson, A.K.A. Clyde…”

“…I promise you, this is the best crack you’ll find this side of the city.”

The detective stood at the far end of the street, keeping a wary eye at the alley on the opposite side, the tall man talking to the plant they had set up. They’d found out that someone was dealing in the area and were trying to find him. Seemed like they finally had, and she was waiting for the right moment.

“Yeah yeah, I’m sure. Look just… just give it to me, okay?” The plant said. He did a good job playing the role of a junkie just trying to get one more whiff. Then again that was why they hired him. He was good at his job. “How much?”

“Two hundred,” said the dealer. “Hand it over.” The plant nodded and took out a wad of cash. “Yeah yeah, just… let me see the stuff first, alright? I need to see it.”

The detective stifled a chuckle as the dealer held out a bag of white powder. Whoever this Clyde guy was, he was sloppy, dealing in the middle of an alley. He started to hand the stuff over, and the money touched his hand… when suddenly he seemed to sniff, and pulled his hands back with both the cocaine and the money. “You’re setting me up!” The detective cursed. “Shit, now!” Suddenly, from the other end of the alley two policemen appeared, guns drawn and aimed at the dealer. He whirled around and yelled at them before spinning and knocking down the plant, taking off into the street. Frantically, the detective chased after him. “Stop right there! Hey!”

Though the detective considered herself in good shape, the dealer was amazing, running along the street at an incredible pace, almost inhuman! The detective panted as she pulled up her radio and yelled into it. “Suspect running down… down fifth, passing Washington… he’s fast, dammit!” Suddenly sirens went off, and the dealer leapt down another road.

The chase lasted almost half an hour, and any time the detective seemed to be catching up the dealer seemed to find another burst of speed. Finally, the other policemen managed to cut him off, one of the cars nearly slamming into him. He froze and whirled around like a frightened animal before the detective ran up and tackled him to the ground. The dealer let out a strange nickering cry as the detective grabbed her handcuffs. “You have the right… to remain silent…”

“…found guilty of unlawful possession and distribution of three different illegal drugs. Sentenced to 15 years. Incarcerated 2007.” Sanchez drowned another shot of alcohol. After the arrest, cops found and searched over Cliff’s apartment and found several stashes of illegal drugs, though complained of some stench that they couldn’t identify.

Sanchez looked over the picture in the file. Cliff was in fairly good shape when he was brought in, but a half an hour run at speeds as fast as any sprinter was unheard of. He thought he was doing some sort of steroids or drugs, but the urine tests showed him clean of anything of the sorts.

In The Pack, Cliff had found his way as the voice of the group, using words to get the other prisoners to listen before force would be necessary. He was also a hell of a fighter, and many who had crossed him had come in to the infirmary wondering if they’d ever be able to bear children.

The warden sighed and turned to the third file, opening it up. Inside was an image of a young kid fresh from college, maybe 21 with black hair. He had a white dyed streak through it, and looked, quite frankly, petrified. “Anthony Ryan, A.K.A. Stripes…”

“…and how do you plead, Mr. Ryan?”

“Innocent, I swear! It was an accident!” Cried the kid standing before the judge.

“It was an accident that you ran out of the store in question with a radio?” Asked the judge, eyeing him warily.

“I, er, um, yes it was…” Anthony said, stumbling over his words.

“Explain this, please,” said the judge. “Because I’d like to hear how running out of the store and then leading the mall security on a fifteen minute chase would qualify as an ‘accident’.”

“Well I, er…” The young man muttered. “I was, um, browsing for a new stereo… you know, for my apartment? When some guy startled me and I spr… I um, got scared and ran.” He looked down at last part.

“Some man startled you and you ran with a brand new radio?” The judge asked, disbelieving. “Hard to believe.”

“It’s true, I swear! I forgot I was holding it until I was outside and several stores down, and when I saw the mall cops after me I got scared and…”

“And you kept running, I assume?”

“Yes! I panicked! When you see police chasing after you you just… I don’t know! Keep running, even if it’s a misunderstanding!”

“At least until you trip and fall into the mall’s fountain and ruin the radio you stole,” finished the judge.

“I didn’t steal it!” Retorted Anthony desperately.

The judge just sighed. “No, you didn’t, just borrowed, is that it?”

Anthony was nervous, a bit of sweat dripping down his forehead. “I… I was going to bring it back, I swear, but I don’t have the money to pay for it after it fell in the water. Look I-”

“Mr. Ryan,” the judge said, looking down at him intently. “If you could not purchase the radio, why were you holding it? And why give some flimsy excuse like ‘you were startled’? I’m sorry, but since you can’t produce a valid excuse or pay for the damages I’m going to have to find you…”

“…guilty of petty theft. Sentenced to six months. Incarcerated 2008.” Sanchez remembered hearing about the trial. The kid was dragged out of the room screaming something about “knowing changes” or other. It wasn’t quite clear. The whole thing may have been an accident, but there was no way of knowing.

The kid had only arrived in the prison a month prior, but in just a week he had been taken into The Pack and nicknamed Stripes. Nobody could quite figure out why he was accepted so quickly when other prisoners had been trying to get in for a while now, especially when Anthony seemed to smell worse than any of the other prisoners when they’d gone a month without washing.

Sanchez turned to the fourth file, opening it up to reveal a man in his late 20’s with ragged gray hair, his lips curled in an angry snarl. This one was an unknown, nobody knew his name or any history, and he insisted on being known under a title. “Name Unknown, A.K.A. The Werewolf of Manhattan, A.K.A. Beta…”

“…I’m sorry, did you just say you wanted this gang?”

The man in the ragged clothes grinned. “Yeah you heard me right, fucker. I should be the Alpha in this gang, not you.” The other gang members watched from nearby as he faced their leader of three years.

The leader laughed. “Oh is that so? And why the hell should I make you the grand almighty leader of the Wolf Gang?”

The man grinned. “Because I’m the fucking Werewolf of Manhattan, that’s why. Can’t you see it?” He held his arms out. For whatever he called himself, he looked pretty pitiful. Barefoot, with ragged hair and torn clothes.

The leader lifted his head back and laughed. “The WHAT of Manhattan?! Fuck man, you look like you were MAULED by a wolf! Why don’t you go back to whatever hole you crawled out of and let the big boys do their work.” He waved his hand dismissively, shooing the man off.

The man wouldn’t take it, however. “Oh I see,” he said. “You can’t see it either. You can’t see how fucking perfect I am to lead this gang. Nobody else could. Nobody else believed me.”

The leader chuckled. “What are you, crazy? You’re just some punk I picked up off the streets. You couldn’t lead a horse to water!” This got a couple chuckles from his groupies.

The man fumed. “You don’t think I could do it, huh? Well then we’re the Wolf Gang, how about we settle this like wolves? I challenge you to a fight. I win, I get the gang. You win, and I’ll lay over and let you lead.”

The leader raised an eyebrow. “You fucking serious? I’d break both your arms like twigs, no way you’d win.

The man gave a malicious grin. “Dead serious. And I’ll see you dead before me. Hand to hand, right here, right now. You and me. Or are you too much of a chicken to fight me?”

That got the leader. He stepped forward. “I’m no chicken, I eat them for breakfast. You and me right here.” He gestured at the other members of the gang. “Make a circle, make a circle!”

The other members backed up, forming a wide circle around the two. The leader tore off his shirt, saying he wanted to use it to mop up the blood when he was done. The man just stood at the other end, glaring at him with an inhuman madness in his eyes, eagerness in his grin.

The two backed up to the edges of the circle, facing each other. The man growled at the leader, watching him as they paced, the other gang members starting to cheer on. “Come on,” taunted the leader, beckoning. “Come on you, let’s see what the great fucking Werewolf of Manhattan’s got!”

Nobody was expecting what happened next. With a savage, inhuman cry the man leapt forward at the leader. Fear was written on his face as they grappled, blood flying almost instantly. Several of the gang members thought for just a moment, they saw an actual werewolf fighting in the dim light.

The battle was a short fury of yelps and shouts and barks and cries, but it ended with the leader, dead on the ground, strange claw marks over his body, his throat hanging out of his neck. The man stood there over the body with his hands covered in blood, panting, before he tilted his head back and let out a long howl of victory. Finally he cried out, “I AM THE ALPHA! I LEAD THIS GANG!” He looked around at the other gang members. “Anyone dare question me?”

Nobody said a word.

“…convicted of three counts of first degree murder. Sentenced to life in prison. Incarcerated 2006.” Beta led his Wolf Gang for half a year before police managed to capture him. The gang had killed few people before, but Beta’s kills were notable in that none of them had bullets or blade wounds. Each one looked like it had been viciously mauled, with the throat torn out. Sanchez rubbed his neck as he thought about that, and poured himself another shot of vodka.

Beta was about as bloodthirsty as he was ambitious. He was the second-in-command of The Pack, and the guards believed him the instigator of the riots, fighting throughout them until he was hit by a tazer round. He always looked pissed off whenever anyone called him Beta, and he clearly wanted to be the leader of The Pack.

Not that that was going to happen anytime soon, considering the leader of the pack. The final file opened to reveal an image of a serious-looking asian, built like a tank and six and a half feet tall. Sanchez downed his drink as he looked at the file. “Benjamin Wong, A.K.A. Old Big Ben…”

“…Sir, Mr. Wong is standing outside here. He says he wishes to see you.”

The manager looked up at the woman looking in his doorway. “Mr. Wong? What’s he doing here? I thought I fired him two weeks ago.”

“I know that, sir, he says that’s what he wanted to talk to you about,” she said. She looked spooked, like she had seen a ghost of some sort. The manager sighed and waved for her to let him in.

Mr. Wong walked into the room a few moments later and slammed the door behind him, his face displaying a mixture of fury and eagerness. “Ah Mr. Wong, what can I-”

“Don’t Mr. Wong me, you bastard,” Mr. Wong said, striding up to him. “I want my job back. Now.” He slammed his hands on the manager’s desk, a deep-throated growl escaping from his throat.

The manager had to admit, if Mr. Wong was trying to intimidate him, it was working. “Ah… Mr. Wong, you know I can’t do that. Considering why you were let go-”

“That was bullshit and you know it!” Mr. Wong roared, pointing a large finger at the manager. “You give me back my job right now you fucker or I’ll tear your heart out and throw it across the room.”

The manager felt a drop of sweat flow down his neck. “Are you threatening me, Mr. Wong?”

Mr. Wong smirked. “Yeah I’m threatening you. What the fuck are you going to do about it?”

The manager summoned up every ounce of bravery he had. He’d had angry workers before and had dealt with them, he could deal with one more. “Mr. Wong, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to le-” he was suddenly interrupted when Mr. Wong threw the desk to the side, crashing it against the wall before grabbing the manager by the throat and slamming him against the wall behind him. The manager grabbed the thickly muscled arm, trying to free his throat, to no avail.

“You little shit,” Mr. Wong said, leaning in close. “You stiff me on my paychecks, you treat my work like shit, and then you fire me when I consider reporting you to your superiors. And don’t think I don’t know how you were banging the secretary on the side.” He sniffed the manager’s collar. “You did it this morning, didn’t you? I can smell her on you, you know.”

The manager tried to gasp for air, to say something, but his windpipe felt like it was being crushed. His arms weakly pushed at the man before him, finding himself start to black out, before Mr. Wong threw him to the ground. The manager gasped for air desperately, when he saw Mr. Wong hovering over him. “I am going to enjoy this VERY much, ‘boss’.” He grinned, and then drove his hand straight into the manager’s chest.

The last thing the manager heard before a silent ringing entered his ears, was his secretary’s high-pitched scream. And the last thing he saw before sweet darkness enveloped him, was a terrible monster standing over him, placing his heart into its mouth, his blood dripping from its claws…

“…convicted of two counts of first degree murder. Sentenced to life in prison. Incarcerated 2004.” Sanchez shivered as he remembered the photos from the murder scene. Both the manager of the company and his secretary had their hearts torn out, and Benjamin had blood all over his hands and mouth. A worker had called the police as soon as he heard the crash, but it took three shocks from tazers to put the brick of a man down.

Benjamin was one of the biggest men in the prison, but managed to put them all to shame. Everybody feared him and respected him and wanted to be in his Pack once he formed it, but he was very specific in who got in. Nobody knew what he saw in the other four, or why he wouldn’t take other prisoners, but he said he had his reasons. Something about “The Next Evolution of Humanity”.

Sanchez sighed again and downed the last of the vodka. As he did, he glanced at the files one last time, only to get a weird shock. Each of the profile shots had changed, looking like the heads of animals. A rat. A horse. A skunk. A wolf. A white tiger. He shook his head and suddenly they resumed their human appearances. “Ugh, I must’ve drunk more than I thought…” With a groan, he closed the files and put them away, settling himself down to another night at the prison. It was a long day, and he needed the sleep.