Chapter 8: Alpha Challenge
While I waited I linked back to the men I had left at the Black Dawn pack house. None were warriors, but thankfully Kendrick had been a paranoid man. When the fire finally stopped, we opened up the armory which he had built under the garage of the main Pack House. There were more than enough rifles with silver bullets, explosives, wolfsbane gas bombs and even Claymore mines to set up for what we needed. The group would move to our side of the border after we crossed and set up an ambush; if things went bad, it would be enough to stop any pursuers once if we could get back to our territory.
I gave Shay an hour before I came back to my room. His men were waiting outside, all but one anyway. They were honorable wolves, they had been horrified to find out the rumors about this Pack had been true.
They wanted blood, and so did I, but my girls had called dibs on Alpha Zane and I would grant them their revenge. He had done things to me, terrible things over the years, but his fascination with the twins made me a distant choice when he visited. The world would be better without him using its oxygen.
“Mary? Are they all right?”
“They are fine, Alpha. Nancy has rested well, no nightmares, and Shay seems content just to be with her.” This was good, hopefully it was something they could build on. The bond was a strange thing, it allowed one mate to draw strength and comfort from the other, even if separated or asleep. Nancy’s wolf knew what she wanted, and would help Shay tear down the walls she had built around her fragile heart.
I walked quietly into the room, figuring it was best if Nancy stayed sleeping. Shay opened his eyes, his tail flapping against the sheet as I approached. “It’s time,” I whispered.
Shay’s wolf form rolled slowly away from her and stepped off the bed. She moaned in her sleep, rolling over until her nose was buried in the pillow that was saturated in his scent. He licked her fingers then padded out of the room. I pulled the covers off the floor and pulled them up; if Nancy was sleeping, it was best to let her. All of us had nightmares and difficulty getting back to sleep once we were awakened.
Shay had a pair of shorts on and was packing the rest of his clothes into his satchel when I came down. Nancy was a lucky she-wolf if she would accept him, he was a strong young man with a good heart. I was thrilled for her. “Remember, they will assume you are the new Alpha, and we won’t do anything to make them think otherwise,” I said. “If they find out I’m the Alpha, he’ll challenge me before we can get Tandy and Sheri their chance.”
“That will be easy, but what do I say about you Lunas? You’re going to be a shock, up and uncollared.”
His question gave me an idea. An underhanded, sneaky, unexpected, totally shocking idea. “Sheri, Tandy, can you and the girls meet me at the front door?”
“Sure, be there in a minute.”
“Craig, I need you to fetch me four collars from the cells.” He sounded shocked when he replied, but he didn’t question his Alpha. I met my Lunas outside with Shay; they looked at Craig approaching with the silver collars like I was crazy. “So, I was thinking about some things, and the weak spot in our plan is how we convince Alpha Zane to let us come into his territory without challenging us. He knows us all, and if we’re suddenly free and acting Luna-like, he’s going to figure out something is wrong.”
“No,” Vivian said. “Never again.”
“Hear me out,” I said. “We run to just before the border in wolf form, shift and put on the collars. They won’t be locked, we can take them off when needed. We act defeated, subdued, and afraid, like we just traded one sadistic master for another. Zane has a perpetual hardon for you two, he’ll invite us in just because he thinks he has a shot at you again. It’s all couched as introductions and negotiations anyway.”
Shay picked it quickly. “She’s right, he’d never allow you in with your Luna power evident. With your wolves forward, it’s like a beacon advertising your power.”
“My wolf doesn’t like it,” Sheri said, “but she wants him dead more. Bring them along, I don’t want it on any longer than it has to be.” Craig found a bag to put them all in; they had padlocks but we wouldn’t push those closed and if you didn’t look close you wouldn’t notice.
We gathered in the front yard, and everyone except Shay and I shifted and put on their satchel packs. “Today we bring justice long delayed to an Alpha who has forfeited the right to live,” I said in my commanding voice. “We fight the leader, not the Pack. Be bold, be confident, but if things break down, you get your Alpha out of there and back to his mate.”
Shay looked at me funny, but I continued. “This is our fight, not yours. We will avenge, and we value your help in getting that for us. If we fight, we fight with honor, and if we die, we join our mates in Luna’s embrace. Either way we win, so don’t die for us. Understood?” They nodded their heads, not liking it but understanding it.
“Be intimidating as hell and watch my back,” Alpha Shay said. “It’s going to be a hell of a show.” With that, we both stripped and shifted, one of the women folded my clothes and put them in his satchel. The Lunas wouldn’t have satchels, we wouldn’t be clothed as that would give away the change in status. We howled together, then followed Craig in the direction of the border since neither of us knew this territory.
It was a good run, a fun one for our wolves. We were running three abreast on the trail, and I dropped back to run with each of my Lunas and some of my Pack members. My wolf was giddy with freedom and over the fun to come; she would see justice dispensed, even if she wasn’t doing it. It was our way, the party with the greatest claim to vengeance, was allowed to have it.
As we approached the border we slowed and shifted. Border crossings were always done in human form, to do so in wolf form was considered aggression. Everyone shifted and turned away before the Lunas and I shifted. This wasn’t going to be easy. Craig approached with the collars, and my wolf growled but I shoved her back. The all-to-familiar feel of the leather lining against my neck, and the loss of my wolf, came all to quickly for me. “Remember to keep your eyes down and act meek,” I said. We took our spots near the back of the group with the weakest soldiers of the rear guard.
A short walk later we were at the border, and I looked through my hair to see the familiar face of Alpha Zane. He was standing with his arms crossed, about four dozen warriors arrayed behind him, and looked unimpressed as we approached. We were shielded behind the line of Cascade Creek Warriors, but close enough to hear everything. “You’re the one who took out Alpha Kendrick?”
“Alpha Shay Kirkpatrick,” he responded as he held out his hand. It took a moment before Alpha Zane extended his. “I’m here to notify you of the change in leadership in the Black Dawn Pack, and to start negotiations on a treaty.”
Zane looked Shay over, he was trying to look unimpressed, but I could tell his men were afraid. I could see they had been shocked to hear the news that Alpha Black had been overthrown, as he was much stronger than their Alpha. The combined group ran through the woods, protocol being what it was it was, we all stayed in human form. I was winded, the silver collar sapping my strength, as we arrived at the main dwelling.
His land was laid out like a small town, with a main street filled with shops and a large training building. The Pack House was at the center of the town, it was three stories tall and the size of a small hotel. The side streets off the main drag had houses for the mated couples and parks for the children. The only thing that distinguished it from a typical small town was the ten-foot-high fence that enclosed it, the fencing carefully camouflaged.
We followed him into the training building, where a welcoming meal had been laid out for us. Since we were slaves, we stayed against the wall behind the warriors and acted grateful for the paper plates of food we were given, no silverware of course. I kept my ears open and waited.
Shay was playing his part well; he was a stronger wolf, and Zane was assuming he still had the power of Kendrick, not knowing that had been destroyed in the explosion. Zane was eager to try and solidify his borders and enter a treaty, so Shay led him along. “I just am not convinced that you or your Pack is strong enough to be an equal partner to my own Pack,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I just take over your Pack and absorb it into mine instead?”
Zane pretended to be outraged. “My pack is strong, and I am as well. We can hold up our side of the treaty. Together, we will be feared and respected.”
Shay shook his head. “I just don’t see it. Honestly, I think my Beta could take you, hell, any of my warriors could too. In fact, I bet any wolf I brought with me today could beat you in fair battle.”
Zane slammed his hand on the table. “You dare come to MY territory and insult me?”
“You are the one saying you are strong, I’m wanting to see it for myself. You can pick any wolf I brought here for an opponent, and if you beat them in a challenge you can have your treaty. Lose, and you lose your Pack since you obviously aren’t strong enough to hold it.”
I could see Zane’s hands going white as he gripped the end of the table. “Anyone?”
“Anyone. Beat the wolf and you get your treaty and keep your position.”
Zane jumped to his feet, a sneer on his face as he walked through the hall. He passed the higher-ranking wolves and didn’t give the warriors a second glance. He pushed through the line in front of us and stopped in front of Tandy. He was almost giddy as he grabbed her arm and pulled her up. “I’ll fight this one. She’s a lot of fun to have under me, and it won’t be the first or last time she submits to me.”
Shay acted like he was outraged. “Really? Not just a woman, but a SLAVE woman? Surely you have more pride than that.”
He grabbed Sheri with his other arm. “I’ll take her on as well, they are more fun to have together. Something about the look on twins faces as I blast my load on them.” He marched them forward. “And when I beat them, I keep them. Think of it as payment for insulting me in front of my men.”
Alpha Shay stood and stared him down. “Done. Ladies?”
Sheri and Tandy reached up and pulled their silver collars free, tossing them to the ground. I pulled mine off at the same time along with Vivian, throwing them into the center of the room as we stood tall. The Luna power of each of us surged forth, causing the Pack members to bare their necks to us. Even Zane was shaking as his wolf realized what he had just done. “Luna Sheri and I accept the challenge for the Alpha position of the Black Death Pack. Said challenge to occur immediately, and is to the death.”
“No submission?” Shay let the question hang.
“We will never submit to anyone again,” Sheri said. The challenge being given and accepted, the Pack members left through the doors and headed to the challenge circle behind the building. It was an area about thirty yards across, with rocks marking the edge. Our clothes had been given to us, so we all were fully dressed as we took our spots on the edge of the circle to watch.
The rules of the challenge were sacred to us. The three of them would go into the circle, and since submission was out one side would have to kill the other before it was over. The only rules were the combatants couldn’t leave until it was over, and no one outside the circle could interfere.
Alpha Zane shifted into his wolf, he was black with grey patches and was nowhere near as impressive as Shay was. Hell, even Moose was more intimidating. It was clear he kept his power with politics, not strength. I watched as Sheri and Tandy shifted into their wolves. They were multicolored, mostly black and gray with white paches of fur underneath. They were maybe two-thirds the size, but they were sleek and fast, and their wolves were out for blood.
“Begin,” Alpha Shay yelled, and the three wolves rushed for the center.