Chapter 16: Dead Reckoning
We pushed hard though the night, our paws creating rolling thunder as we set them down before striding forward again. I was beyond pissed; I wanted blood, just like my wolf did. I would stomp the life out of the man who dared attack my Pack and harm its members.
I looked over at Seamus running by my side. His huge wolf had it easier than mine on the flats, his long stride ate up the miles with ease. He struggled keeping up with me on the hills, due to his size and weight. He looked intimidating as hell in wolf form, with big muscles rippling under his dark fur. On his left side ran Shay, with Nancy alongside him. To my right ran a worried Moose, whose family was now in danger. Vivian was on his other side.
Our Betas formed the next ranks, and we had about fifty wolves total. More were coming from surrounding Packs, but we simply couldn’t wait. They could kill every woman and child before we arrived, if Mary couldn’t hold them back.
The scenarios echoed through my mind, making me ignore the pain and the fatigue during our run. I could see the same determination in everyone else as the forest flew by in a blur.
I felt a bond being ripped from my chest, as my wolf howled in loss at David’s death. I stumbled, but recovered quickly, until the next message. “I’m sorry, Catherine, I couldn’t stop them.” Mary.
I tried again and again to link with her, but her walls were up and I couldn’t break through. I let out a furious growl, matched by others who had heard the same.
My sister was dying, and I was still miles away.
I pushed to go even faster, the mud flying up from my paws as I moved ahead of the rest of the Pack. I crested a hill, and I got my first view of the Pack houses. I could see the flames, I could smell the smoke and the death already. My wolf let out a furious howl and I charged forward.
I crossed a creek and was moving up the other side when I felt a searing pain in my chest as Mary’s bond was torn away. This time I couldn’t stay upright, I stumbled and rolled several times before I could get to my feet again. I wasn’t the only one, my other girls had felt it and we howled in grief together, but there wasn’t time to waste. We couldn’t let her death be in vain.
Ten minutes later, we crested the last hill and could clearly see the devastation before us. The night sky was lit by the fires of homes burning and the screams of women and children. We charged into the main area, where Pierce’s men had gathered my Pack’s most vulnerable on the grass in front of the burnt-out Pack house. He stood there with Alpha Roger to his left, their arms crossed, Betas and Warriors behind them.
“Stop and change, Catherine. He’s not killed them yet.” My mate was right, I had to think of their welfare first. We stopped in the shadows before the first burning house and shifted; Seamus tossed me a long shirt and a pair of shorts before he dressed as well. My Pack was soon in human form.
“How should we play this, Seamus?”
“He doesn’t know about us, about Shay. He thinks you’re still weak and outnumbered, and that will make him overconfident. Goad him into a fight, it will be fun.”
I snickered, I knew exactly what he was thinking. “I’m sure he’ll want to challenge the Alpha of this Pack. And when he does, my love?” I put my hand on his chest and leaned in to kiss him. “Remember that he used to fuck me every chance he could get.”
His eyes practically glowed with anger as I turned away. “Stay behind me and watch my back,” I told the other Alpha pairs and my mate. I moved forward through the town, the fires lighting my way. Seamus stayed back with Shay, both of them walking next to Moose, as if three huge dudes wouldn’t be noticed. Alpha Pierce moved forward to meet me alone, our respective Packs arranged behind us. “What do you want, Pierce?”
He bristled at the insult, I could see my very existence as a free woman gnawed at him. “I want justice for my friend, Alpha Kendrick. You killed him like the weak, pathetic Alpha you were before your capture.”
I stared him down, waiting a good thirty seconds before responding. I could sense he was getting nervous; my Pack wasn’t as big in numbers, but he was dwarfed by more than a few of my members. “Justice.” I looked around the village. “You’re here for justice, and somehow burning the homes of widows and scaring children is part of that?”
“No, that was just to get you here. I believe you know the deal being offered, you’ve done it before.” I shuddered as I waited for his next words. “Submit to me, accept your collar and your position as my sex slave, and I will allow your Pack to live. Fight me, and when you lose I will kill every last one of them in front of you before I collar you and take you anyway.”
I put my arms across my chest and brought my right index finger up to my chin, as if I was seriously thinking about this. I could feel Seamus’ anger through the bond, he was barely holding his wolf back. I looked at Pierce, then at Alpha Roger. “Seamus love?”
“Yes my lady?”
“Tell Shay he can have some fun tonight as well. Alpha Roger liked to take our back doors when he came a knocking.” I heard a growl from behind me and smirked. “The answer is NO, Pierce. If you want this Pack, challenge the Alpha and see what happens.”
He looked shocked, the smirk was wiped off his face. “You’re sure about this, Catherine?”
“I’ll never submit again, Pierce.”
He let out a sigh. “Fine.” He pulled his shirt off and tossed it to his Beta. “I, Pierce Robert Kraft, Alpha of the Bighorn Pack challenge the Black Dawn Alpha for her Pack.” He looked at me expectantly, but I remained silent.
Finally, the silence was broken by the low voice of my mate. “Challenge accepted,” Seamus said as he pulled his shirt off and handed it to Shay. I was laughing inside as I watched Pierce start to shake when he saw just how much bigger and stronger Seamus was than he was.
“WAIT! I challenged the Alpha, not HIM. He’s an elder, law prohibits him from fighting another Alpha.”
Seamus came up next to me, his arms could swing over my head without touching, and he made Pierce look like a boy in comparison. “You should have paid more attention to your studies, Pierce. The Law prohibits an Elder from challenging another Alpha. And I am no longer an Elder.”
He looked confused, so I pulled my shirt aside and proudly displayed his mating bite on my neck. “We mated yesterday, so he is now Alpha of the Black Dawn Pack.”
Seamus put his hand up and his fingers traced over my mating bite. He brought his huge hands out in front of him, cracking his knuckles loudly. “And I heard what you did to my mate, Pierce. I’m going to enjoy this.” With that, he shifted into his wolf, which was the size of a horse.
I heard the liquid dripping before the smell hit; Pierce had pissed himself. His men were shocked, but quickly sized up the situation and stayed out of it. Everyone knew they would have a new Alpha soon, and nobody wanted to piss either of us off. “The challenge for Alpha is on, any interference will be punishable by death,” I ordered.
Pierce looked around, the two Packs had formed a wide circle around them and there was no one to help him now. He gulped, then shifted, his sodden shorts kicked aside. His wolf was dwarfed by Seamus. His only chance was to stay away and use speed to tire the bigger wolf out, then get lucky.
He didn’t even have that chance. Seamus was deceptively quick, and before Pierce could jump out of the way he had bowled him over with his shoulder. Before he even stopped rolling, Seamus had taken a chunk of fur from his chest. Pierce jumped up and spun, but Seamus was already moving, this time taking a chunk from the opposite side. He tried to attack, but each time Seamus avoided his teeth while his own found purchase.
Ten minutes later, blood covered Pierce’s fur from the dozens of bites. Seamus was experienced; he didn’t want the fun to end too quickly, so he didn’t bite too deep or break any bones just yet. Pierce was yelping with each bite, each move, but Seamus methodically took him apart like a jigsaw puzzle. I watched as Pierce tried for his throat, only to have his left ear ripped off. Seamus played with it before tossing it aside as Pierce moved away. It must have been a fun toy, because another yelp showed him with his right ear missing.
I watched the crowd, seeing how most of the other Pack was already taking a submissive posture. Some couldn’t watch the systematic dismantling of the man who had led them for the last five years, while others appeared to welcome the change in leadership. I saw Roger try to slip away into the darkness. “Nancy, Roger is trying to leave. Can you and Shay take care of it?”
“Gladly,” she responded. I watched as the two and a few others slipped into the shadows after the disappearing Alpha. A pained cry brought my attention back to the ring, where Seamus had Pierce by the base of the tail and was dragging him backwards. He started to spin in place, his weight and strength lifting the Alpha from his feet and spinning his around in a circle. He howled in agony until there was a loud crunch and he went flying, his tail still in Seamus’ mouth. He trotted over to me and dropped it at my feet, his front paws stretching and his shoulders dropping like he wanted to play.
Play? I preferred another toy. “Seamus?” He looked up at me, tail wagging. “FETCH BALLS.”
He yipped and spun around, quickly finding Pierce trying to get to his feet. He turned to run, but that was short-lived. With only a stub tail left, his balls were vulnerable and Seamus’ teeth reached in and ripped them clean off. He rolled on the ground in pain as Seamus trotted over to me, dropping them in my waiting hands. “Good boy,” I said as I scratched his ears. “PIERCE!” He looked over at me from his spot on the grass. I lifted his scrotum up in my hands, then squeezed my fingers together until they popped like a zit, squirting fluid everywhere.
I tossed it aside and looked over at the beaten Alpha. He was truly pathetic, he didn’t even look like a wolf any more. “I’m tired and I want to go to bed, Seamus. End this so Shay can have the ring.” He yipped and trotted over to Pierce, who raised his neck, hoping for a quick death.
With a mighty bite and a quick shake, his neck was broken, and it was over.
Seamus howled his victory to the moon as I moved next to him. He changed back to human form and I hugged his waist, looking for wounds and finding none. The Packs submitted to us, kneeling and exposing their necks. “Rise,” I said. “Who was responsible for the death of Luna Mary?”
One of the Betas ran forward and bowed. “Beta Scott and his men were ordered to collar her and return her to the Alpha’s house. She killed herself rather than take the collar.” He looked at the ground. “They are at our Pack Infirmary, and await your judgement, my Alphas.”
“That can wait,” a low voice said as Alpha Roger was pushed into the ring by a furious Alpha Shay. “First we have to deal with this coward. He abandoned his Pack and ran like the little bitch he is.” Shay punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground.
“Do you wish to challenge him, Alpha Shay?” I looked at the two, remembering Roger’s visits.
“Cowards don’t get challenges,” he replied. Shifting one hand into a paw, he used the razor-sharp claws to rip across Roger’s stomach. Blood sprayed everywhere as his guts spilled into his lap. “Leave him to die alone,” he ordered.
The now combined Pack walked away from the two Alphas, one dead, the other dying. I looked at my mate, who was covered in sweat and blood, but had never been more desirable. “There’s nowhere left to sleep here,” I said.
“SHIFT,” he commanded, and within a minute the entire Pack was in wolf form. He led us to an area of soft grass, hidden from the wind and heated by the smoldering fires, and asked me to sit. I did, and he sat next to me. Shay, Nancy and Vivian sat by us, and soon we were surrounded by the rest of our Pack. I lifted up my head to the moon and howled, the low howls of Shay and Seamus joining me, then the rest. When the echoes died down, I lay on the grass on my side and Seamus curled his oversized body around me. It looked like dominoes as the Pack settled in.
I fell asleep with my nose buried in Seamus’ neck fur, finally safe on our own lands.