Chapter 43: Help Me, Obi-Wan
We worked hard through the morning, and I was exhausted by the time we ate lunch. The boys were really hungry and active today, and it was a good thing Natalie was helping me with them. I honestly don’t know how single moms do it; even with help they are a handful.
There wasn’t much new on the news, but the attack on the Brainerd pack was still coming up. Reports from the field stated they had thirty-two confirmed dead, and that there were no werewolves that survived. I looked over at Tony and Tina as they ate their grilled cheese sandwiches, with Olivia making them eat their steamed vegetables. They were right; no werewolves from that pack survived the attack. Just humans.
I was finishing up my tomato soup when I got a ding on my phone for an incoming message. Few people had my number, and I gasped when I saw who it was from.
The message was short and cryptic. “911 motorcycle crash medic help me obi-wan.”
Craig looked over at the text as I started to cry, then a few others gathered behind me. “What does it mean, Ella?”
I looked at it a few times. “911 is an emergency, obviously. Motorcycle crash? When they attacked me on the road outside the Johnson Pack land, it was a simulated crash. Medic means they have injured.”
“And help me Obi-Wan?”
“It means I’m their only hope.” Tears were flowing down my face, at least I knew ONE of my family had survived. “I have to go.” I texted back with the word “Midnight.”
“Wait,” said Craig. “It’s still dangerous out there. Take a few moments and think this over.” He pulled me into his lap. “No werewolves can go with, it’s too dangerous for all of you. So we’re down to Tom, Shelley, Mark, Olivia and the twins.”
I shook my head. “No, Olivia and the twins need to stay here, they just got out of danger. I can’t bring you or the boys, so Mark? Tom?”
I looked at them across the table, they looked at each other and slowly nodded. “We’ll keep you safe, Ella.”
Shelley elbowed her husband. “I’m going too.” He started to shake his head no, but she poked him in the chest. “They are my friends too, and they are going to need medical attention. I’m not much, but I remember a few things. Besides, we can pass off as a family that way, it won’t raise as much suspicion. We can say we’re taking the kids down to Arizona for college.”
“I’ll start getting the RV ready.” I got up to walk out.
“Why aren’t you taking your truck?” Jason looked over at me.
“My recreational vehicle has some special modifications that may come in handy,” I said. “Jason, Melanie, Nadine- I need you to go to the Green’s house.” I wrote down the code to the safe room on a piece of paper. “In their safe room they have weapons and ammo. I’m pretty sure they will be useful since they are still in a fight. Grab everything you can and bring it to the RV. I’m going to get ready.”
“What about the boys?” Mabel looked up, she was holding Darryl who was sleeping.
“Take care of them for me. There’s some expressed milk in the freezer, when that is gone you’ll have to use formula, we have some down in the safe room in the food storage.” I ran up and changed, then put some extra clothes in a duffel bag. I didn’t know if any of the Johnson pack would be in wolf form, so I went to our spare cabinet and filled another bag with shorts, shirts, underwear and sweats in various sizes.
We were on the road by two in the afternoon. Tom and Mark decided to split the driving, with one taking a nap once we hit the freeway. Shelley and I went through the boxes of medical supplies we had brought, making sure we knew where everything was. The guns and ammo were all hidden away in the fake tank under the floor. We had only kept a couple AR-15’s in the closet, handguns and knives in the cab, and each of us was carrying at least one weapon. If we were stopped, hell, we were free humans and we had to protect ourselves from those evil werewolves while we were on the road, right?
Once we had everything organized, I went back to my bedroom to take a nap. I was woken up by Shelley a few hours later. “Checkpoint.”
The checkpoint was between two exits on I-94, and was set up so you couldn’t see it until you were past the last exit to avoid it. They were moving people through quickly, but the basic setup was the same as the one I had seen in Minnesota. When we got to the front, a State Patrol officer got on board and checked everyone’s eyes with the black light and checked the obvious hiding places before getting off again.
I snickered as he left; a decent working dog would be much better and faster at the search, but almost all of them had been killed in the initial panic. I could almost understand the German Shepherds, but killing the Black Labs and other bomb-sniffers was short sighted.
We made it to Red Lake about nine at night, and decided to stop in at a local bar to see what was going on and get some burgers. The place was full of Homeland Security, law enforcement and military personnel since they were flooding the area to establish the boundary around the wilderness. Listening to their conversations was illuminating for me; they were both overconfident and underestimating.
They had no idea that the fight was going to OUR territory, where they were at a distinct disadvantage. The wilderness area they were trying to isolate was huge and rugged; there was no way they were going to be able to shut down all movement across their boundary lines. They also didn’t understand what they were going against, thinking that these were just like wild wolves that they could shoot from the air.
Their enemy was just as intelligent, just as well equipped to battle in human form, but they had no answer to our wolf forms, our healing abilities, or our silent communications. We had a discipline and structure they could only dream of.
They would learn, I thought.
I sent a text from my burner phone to Craig’s letting him know we made Red Lodge. He told me to drive safe and the boys miss me.
We got back on the road just after eleven. The road sign said it was closed twenty miles ahead, but we only had to go twelve. I just had to recognize the place where the ambush occurred, and we would be fine.
Even in the dark, I got goose bumps as the site came into view. It was the place where Darryl had been killed, where I had fought and Remi had been injured. We pulled to the side of the road, turned off the interior lights and waited. Mark made sure the “doggy door” we put on the main door was ready, since we didn’t know what form they would be in.
Twenty minutes later, we were startled by the sound of a dog coming through the door and running into the main area. The wolf clearly wasn’t fully grown yet, its paws still a little big for its legs. She was mostly white, with black socks and one black ear. She bounded over to me, jumping into my lap and licking my face. I squealed as I tried to hold her off. “RENEE!!! Shift, dang it!”
A moment later, a naked teen was hugging me and crying on my shoulder. Shelley brought over a T-shirt, panties and a pair of shorts while the men looked away, giving her a little privacy. She quickly dressed, then told everyone to turn around. “Thank you for coming… it’s been…” She broke down crying.
I pulled her into my lap and hugged her tight. “I know, cousin, I know.” When she was able to look up, I had to ask. “Who… who made it through the attack?”
Tears streamed down her face as she started to cry. “Only half the pack,” she shuddered out. “Alpha Derek is taking them into the mountains, we have caves there we can hide in.”
My jaw dropped. “Derek? But Doug… Remi…”
“Dead.” She looked down. “So are Dave, Alice and Nathan. The first bomb took out the Alpha wing and almost all the senior Pack leadership. The Greens, too.”
“Oh Luna.” I pulled her to me and sobbed with her, my heart breaking as my worst fears were confirmed. “How did you survive?”
“I was on a sleepover at Nancy’s house, their cabin wasn’t targeted in the first strike and we made it to the safe room. We stayed there until Derek came back to search for survivors.”
“Where was he?”
She blushed. “Amanda got her first heat a few days ago. He took her to the cabin on the western border. They ran back as soon as they could. It was a good thing, too, I’m not ready to be Alpha!”
“You don’t have to be, Renee. Are you coming back with me?”
“I called you here because we need help, Ella. We have to relocate the pack seventy miles inland, over heavy terrain, and do it all while they are trying to attack us. Not everyone can make it. Derek asked me to take the old, the pregnant, the young and the injured to you. He figured you could get them out of the zone and care for them until he can come get them.”
I looked out the window. “Where are they?”
“Waiting for my signal.” I nodded; she went back and opened the door, whistling like a warbler. A few minutes later, wolves and humans came up from the treeline below. Some were carrying young, some were helping each other out. All in all, there were twelve of them.
Much fewer than I had anticipated.
“I know, one of their bombs scored a direct hit on the safe room for the Pack House. We lost a bunch of people there. These people were in the infirmary, we were able to evacuate them before it was bombed too.”
They started to enter the bus. “Elder Whitfield!”
“Please, call me Estelle, child. This is Nathaniel.” She handed me the baby, he couldn’t have been more than two weeks old, and then she sat down on the recliner. “By Luna, it feels good to sit down.” Shelley was already busy, getting glasses down she gave her a glass of milk and a granola bar. When she was settled, she gestured for me to give the baby back because more people were coming in.
The next man up was missing his left arm above the elbow, and bandages covered his chest and legs. Oh no… “Jimmy?” The last time I saw him was at Thanksgiving when he played on the “Off Constantly” team.
“Hi Ella.” Tom raced forward, helping him to the couch.
There were six children, all holding hands as they were led by Maggie King into the bus. Maggie looked like she was about to pop, she was heavily pregnant and waddled to a seat on the other recliner. She introduced the children; Theo (5), Reggie and his twin Ryan (4), identical triplets Sharon, Sara and Sally (3). Last onto the bus was Elder Michael Campbell, he was holding Laurie, who looked to be about six months old.
“Is that it?” I hoped for more, I really did.
“That’s all of us,” Michael said. “The rest went with the Pack into the mountains.”
“Shit. All right, Craig wanted me to deliver arms and ammunition. Do you have anyone who can take it?”
“Not now,” said Renee. “We can hide it and come back for it later.” I opened up the hatch leading to the secret tank and jumped down, handing the rifles and ammo cans up. The able bodied walked them down the hill; we used garbage bags to protect them, then covered the lot with stones and brush. In twenty minutes, unless you stood on it you’d never know it was there.
When we got back into the RV, everyone we were evacuating was settled and had been given food and water. It had been a long walk for them to get to this point without being caught. “All right, everyone, I need you to pay attention.” All eyes went to me. “We are going to drive back to my Pack, but the road isn’t safe. The humans have found a way to identify werewolves using a black light in their eyes. So, if we run into a checkpoint, we need you all to hide until we are past it.” I moved over to the floor panel that led down to the tank. “This tank is big, but not high. I need the children down here, along with one adult.” Elder Michael volunteered. “When you are down there, you need to be still and quiet. If one of you makes a noise, all of us are in danger.”
“What about me?” Maggie looked at the hatch with an “oh hell no” expression.
“Come with me, Jimmy, you and Estelle will also be in here.” I showed them how the bed platform unlatched and lifted up, exposing a space just big enough for the three of them. “It will be cozy. When you are in, just pull the handle down until it clicks and latches.”
Jimmy practiced with his good arm until he was satisfied. “It will be tight, but it’s only for a short time, right?”
I nodded. “Last roadblock on the way here was a ten minute backup. They didn’t even do a good check of the vehicle, not even looking in the luggage compartments. We can’t count on them being lazy again, though.”
It was time to go. “Everyone find a place to sit down, and make sure the babies and young ones are secure since we can’t use car seats. Try not to make it look like there are a bunch of people here.”
“Dibs on the bed,” Maggie said.
“Mind sharing?” Jimmy smiled as she nodded, it was big enough for both and they both needed the rest.
I moved back up towards the front as Renee started taking off her shirt, then dropped her shorts. “What are you doing?”
“Leaving.” She gave me a big hug, then turned for the door.
“You’re not coming with? But…”
“I can’t, Ella. I’m Next Alpha of the Johnson Pack now.” She moved to the door and dropped her underwear. “I’m fighting.” She shifted into her wolf and bolted out the door, running quickly for the treeline. I watched until she disappeared, a pit in my gut was the feeling I would never see her again.
Mark drove off and we headed home.