Evade and Escape
Netzach, one of my newest men, climbed into the cab of the ambulance and started it up while Meghan finished talking with the Alpha and Beta of the Targhee Pack in Idaho. We had come here after one of his men was severely injured, shot by a poacher while on patrol in wolf form. I got onto my Harley, my men getting on behind me, as we waited for her to give her final instructions. “If he shows signs of infection, give me a call, but he should make a full recovery,” she told them.
“Thank you so much for coming, Doctor Meghan,” he said as he shook her hand. “I owe you more than just the fee. You are always welcomed on our lands.”
“Thank you, Alpha.” She turned and went into the passenger seat of the old ambulance that Vivian had purchased almost eighteen years ago. When Vivian died, the ambulance was set to be sold until Meghan of all people came to Church at the Northwoods Riders and made a plea to keep it.
Flashback- Winter 1999
We were finishing up business when Meghan pushed her way in to the room, past a shocked Hammer who was guarding the door. Most of the meeting was dealing with how to deal with some of the things our four dead members had left behind. Snake wasn’t much help; he had withdrawn from the club in his grief, pouring himself alternately into the bottle and his baby. Kelly had moved him in to an extra bedroom in our house in order to be sure Eve was getting good care while he worked his shit out.
He didn’t even make it to Church tonight, Kelly said he was dead drunk on the back porch, having cleared a space in the foot of snow on the back deck. We’d just lose him sometimes, not knowing if it was his grief or his headaches that caused him to withdraw. His head injury had been serious, he nearly lost his life that night in Sheridan, and the effects might linger for years. He couldn’t even ride, the noise and vibration was too much. We were lucky if we could get him to come in and cook, his one escape from his self-imposed isolation.
Scrape’s and Viking’s belongings went to their families, those things they didn’t want were offered to the Club first before being donated to charity. Both Harleys were sold on eBay, none of us could bear to see them around, the money going to their parents. Stain didn’t have a family, he’d left everything he owned to the Club. His motorcycle was sold, and all the proceeds went to the Club treasury. Snake only wanted a few things of Vivian’s, mainly things from their short time together. Her motorcycle was going to be displayed in the Clubhouse, we had drained the fluids and made sure everything was in perfect shape before suspending it from the ceiling joists behind the bar. Behind it on the wall, we had photographs of all the Club members who had died; every day Snake came to work, he would kiss his fingers and press it to Vivian’s frame before going back to the kitchen. The motorcycle was going to stay there until Eve was sixteen, then it was hers if she wanted it.
The big issue was with the Clinic that Vivian had put together in one of the rooms on the second floor. At the time, it was important, and allowed her to treat most everything not requiring a hospital stay. She had treated both humans and werewolves, but our old VP Doc was dead, Vivian had been killed, and Jessica had died giving birth to Eve. We had no medically trained people left to use the six figures worth of equipment she had put together up there. The debate was more about how to sell it than if, at least until Hammer’s daughter came storming in.
“Why in the he… heck would you sell all Vivian’s stuff when we might need it,” she said loudly as she approached my spot.
I turned to her, chuckling a little inside as I saw how she was standing just like Teri did when she was pissed off at Hammer. “We don’t have anyone qualified to use it, and between the ambulance and the medical gear, that’s a lot of money tied up,” I said.
“I’ll use it,” she said with her hands on her hips.
“Meghan,” Moose started to say.
“Don’t you Meghan me! I know I’m young, but you aren’t looking at the big picture. I’m going to be a doctor, maybe even a surgeon in the future. I’ve worked with Vivian, I know how this works, and I’m the ONLY one around here who can help Eve if she gets sick.” A hush fell on the room. “She’s a werewolf, having her blood sample taken would cause all kinds of alarms. What are you going to do if she breaks her arm? Have you asked Gabriel what his plan is should any more of his men get hurt?” She looked around the room, eyes were starting to look down. “They are our friends, they are here to protect Eve, and I’m the closest thing to a doctor they have right now. You can’t take away my gear!”
I pinched my nose, the tough thing was that she was right. We hadn’t really appreciated just how much ability she had picked up in her time working with Vivian. “What about the ambulance, we could sell that and keep the clinic?”
“And what? One of the guys gets hurt, and we have to drag him all the way back here to help?” She looked around again, her eyes were sparkling with excitement. “It’s paid for in cash, it won’t be used much so it won’t cost much to maintain. If needed, we can take it somewhere else, like maybe a different Pack, or wherever the Knights are training.”
Sometimes you just had to accept that you were wrong, and this was one of them. “Fine. Let me talk to Gabriel first and see what he thinks. If he finds merit in keeping the ambulance, then we’ll keep it. Decision postponed until next meeting,” I said as I pounded the gavel and ended it. “You, young lady, are very convincing when you put your mind to it.”
“Thanks, Viper.” She turned back to the door where her Dad pulled her close. His arm was still in a sling, he was going to physical therapy three times a week to try and get the strength and range of motion back from the deep bite he’d sustained.
“Just because we have the ambulance doesn’t mean we’re running off and putting you in danger again,” he said as he hugged her close.
“That wasn’t a bad plan, it was bad operational security,” she said. “If the Pack hadn’t been told we were coming, we would have been safe.”
“Doesn’t mean I like it.” I smiled as they walked out together. She was going to be a hell of a doctor someday.
Abaddon and I pulled out in front, two more riders behind us in formation, then the ambulance. We had four more men as an escort. Our show of strength was for good reason; with only a couple werewolf physicians or nurses who had been trained after all the females died, Meghan was a valuable asset- one that was paid very well for house calls.
The second part was strategic. For the past eight years, since the last known shewolf died in childbirth, we had been preaching the Word that Luna have given to us in my dream. It was a hard road, telling people that our destruction had been the curse of our own Goddess whom we had forsaken. Many didn’t like the message, choosing to cast us out instead. After getting attacked a few times, we never left in groups smaller than four.
The world had changed a lot since I started this, I thought as we left the Pack lands heading east. If I had to guess, we’d lost all the female wolves, and eighty percent of the males. That meant our species was only ten percent of what we had two decades ago. In terms of Packs, hundreds had become thirty. Of the thirty, ten were the kind Luna would approve of. They had leadership that respected traditional ways, that honored Her. These Packs, including Targhee, were the ones I visited on a regular basis, to renew our ties and to recruit.
My own pack had doubled in size in the last eighteen years. The losses had hit me hard at the time; I blamed myself for the ambulance being attacked, for my men and Viper’s being lost. Finding out the losses were due to my own man? That hurt. I know it was his sister, but I’d warned them all, mates would do anything for each other, even if the mating was forced.
Alpha Travis Connors was a good man, he was in his early thirties, having taken over after the last shewolf in their Pack died. He purged the Pack of any who had taken forced mates and set them on a new path with messianic zeal. Zeal I was proud to have put into him when his own mate, who he was waiting to be of age, was forcibly mated by his Beta and subsequently lost in childbirth. He was the first man I had thought of when the idea of an Alpha Summit came to mind, and he had agreed to host it.
In a few months, Eve would be of age and the Prophecy would be fulfilled. I would make sure she found her true mate, they would have many children, and those children would find their true mates.
If we were lucky, our numbers could recover in a century or two. I smiled as we made it to the main road to Jackson Hole. It was all coming together.
It had been a two-hour ride east into Wisconsin to our running space. Gabriel had purchased five hundred acres of rolling forest on the north side of Fort McCoy, a mostly shut-down Army base along I-94. We had been coming here a few times a month since I first shifted at age two; Gabriel said it was important that my wolf have her own time, so I would have balance. I loved these runs, we usually did them on clear nights with a moon out. We also did them during the week, before the campers and mountain bike and ATV riders took over the woods on the weekend. I’d asked for a special run since my wolf was feeling antsy, so Gabriel had agreed to send eight men with me as escorts. The rest were either maintaining patrols around their Pack House and our Club or were with Gabriel and Dr. Meghan somewhere out west.
The guys I was with were intimidating as hell until you got to know them. All of them looked like fitness models, all six-pack abs and killer arms below perfect faces. Women were constantly flirting with them, and they were constantly turning them down. All of them had taken a sacred vow, forsaking all other women, and all to protect me. It was a lot to take in as a young girl, hearing that the future of your whole species depended on you. I didn’t want it, I never asked for it, but they wouldn’t be here protecting me if it wasn’t true.
The pressure of it all got to me sometimes. I wished I could be like other girls, like the daughters of the Club members who got to go to school and do things on their own. I was homeschooled, Kelly and others helping me through until I could use the Digital Campus learning. I was officially graduating next month, although most of my senior year I had been taking college-level classes in art and literature. Art was my way of escaping the cocoon that had been carefully weaved around me by so many well-meaning people.
I just wanted to go to the mall and hang out without a ten-person escort and a backup detail.
We pulled off the road, down the trail that led to the parking area we had set up. The area had a shack, a place to store dry wood, food, water and extra clothes. We turned our bikes, parking them in a line facing back towards the road, then shut them down. We all got off the bikes, stretching, taking our jackets and helmets off and placing them over the bikes. I went into the shack, turning on the LED light and closing the door to shift in private.
I pulled off my clothes, placing them on the shelf, then called my wolf forward. The change was magical, almost instantaneous, and I was standing on all fours, looking in the small mirror on the back of the door. I loved my wolf form; she wasn’t half the size of the men outside, but she was fast and flexible. My eyes shined in the dim light, the light blue striking against the silver-colored fur. I was a solid color except on top of my head, where a crescent moon-shaped spot of black went from between my eyes up to the top of my head. I shook my fur out, waiting for the signal the men had all shifted. There was a scratch on the door, and I pushed it open.
I rubbed my face against Michael’s as I moved to greet the others. Michael was still the Vice President and in charge of my security with Gabriel gone. After we all had a good sniff and rub, I gave a quick yip. Michael answered, that was my cue to go play my favorite game- chase.
I took off running, knowing I had a five-minute head start. I was perfectly safe on our land as four other men had left hours earlier and did a complete patrol of the territory before we arrived. My wolf loved to run free, and it was good training for the men to have to track and find me. I wasn’t going to make it easy for them.
I ran hard, trying to put some distance between us before I started to do evasive maneuvers. There was a stream that ran across the land, it would be a good spot for my first tricks. I reached it, turning right I ran in the shallow water for a few hundred yards before I reached a large oak tree with branches reaching over. Shifting to human form, I climbed up into the tree, moving all the way to the other side before dropping back to the ground in wolf form again. I ran as quietly as I could back the way I came, keeping a few hundred yards away from my track and downwind.
I grinned in my mind as I heard the group thundering towards the creek, they were making so much noise they’d never pick up mine. When they were past, I ran hard until I was closer to the road that ran along the south border of the territory. I turned left when I got close enough, running at an even pace. My goal was to loop around the outside of the territory, then after I had won the bet on how long I could evade them, make a run back for the bikes.
Everything was going perfectly, I thought as I crossed a small ravine.
I should never think that again. As soon as I reached the bottom, I was knocked off my feet and rolled. I got up, not recognizing the male werewolf who was staring at me with crazed red eyes. Before he could recover from the shock of me being female, I took off the way I came. “Michael, rogue wolf, I’m at the southeast corner of the territory, running west. Send help!”
“On the way,” he said. I heard a bone-chilling howl in the distance, and a loud growl behind me. I poured on the speed, hoping I could evade him long enough for the cavalry to arrive.