Early Shift: Don’t Challenge the Werewolf

Two months after bidding Otto Schneider farewell in Bremen, Zachary departs Poland after shifting to defend an elderly couple from thugs intent on seizing their land. He heads for northern Germany after an online forum reports a werewolf sighting in Bad Dorstal, gladly accepting a ride from a quiet but friendly trucker.

The potato-farming community isn’t too far from the motorway, so he walks to the town’s only diner, owned by single parent Gitta and her mother, Meg. As he settles at the counter for breakfast and tells Gitta he’s looking for work, a man named Hans offers him work “depending on your morals.” Zach understands the unspoken terms and politely declines, then forcibly ejects Hans when he reacts boorishly. Gitta’s not happy that his chivalry drives away most of her morning customers, but as she watches Zach consume two huge plates of food, then carry two beer kegs per hand and tote heavy provisions like cotton balls, she believes her decision might prove beneficial.

Hans returns that evening with his four brothers, determined to kill Zach for his impudence. Out in the forest, as he shifts to scare them away, they reveal that they also possess magic, a power granted to them by the demon Rebecca. Although Zach injures them so severely he expects to never see them again, they appear at the diner the next morning in fine fettle, not a single hair out of place, and the shifter realizes he’ll have to do what he hates most: kill the bloodthirsty brothers.

What follows are a series of clashes between good and evil, the brothers aided by Rebecca and Zachary surprised by a unexpected ally. Just as the conflict reaches its zenith, Daniel, the demon introduced in Untethered Magic, appears to rein in Rebecca, who’s gathered acolytes in violation of immortal law. She’s not willing to concede without a fight, though, and the two immortals wreak havoc while the humans scramble in terror and awe.

Meanwhile, the new SIA director wants to engage supernaturals to help fight the upcoming war, but two renegade agents are determined to seize Zachary as a prize to advance their careers and humiliate the boss, who they view as a weakling. Neither expects what they find on the deserted army base just outside Bad Dorstal.

And Zachary wonders why peace and happiness seem out of reach for the werewolf with a conscience.

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