Chapter 45: The Glow
As soon as we were back on the road, I used the burner to text a message to Craig. “Cousins coming, get guest rooms in basement ready. 4 adults, six 5&under + 2 babies.”
A few minutes later my phone dinged. I looked at the message. “Sounds like a fun time, we’ll get the beds ready.” I knew he would figure it out. I didn’t like it, but at least for now they would all have to go into the safe room in the basement. This ultraviolet light stuff was becoming an issue, and Jacob was right; there were too many ties out there with members of other Packs if they start digging. Sooner or later they were going to show up at my home, and we couldn’t afford anyone to get popped as a werewolf.
The adults were all busy with the young ones, trying to keep them busy and distracted from the losses they had experienced. That also worked well for the four adults. I helped change Jimmy’s bandages, he was healing well. He told me about the aftermath of the attack, his injury, and being left behind. “I didn’t want to go,” he said, “but Derek was insistent. He needed a warrior to protect this group and I am no good in wolf form anymore.”
“What about Melody? Why didn’t she come?”
He smiled a little. “She’s a stubborn mate, and they need every able-bodied person to get to the secondary site and keep the Pack protected. I asked her, she just told me to hurry back to her when I’m healed up and can move again.”
“Yeah, well, I’m hoping this madness ends soon. There is too much senseless killing on both sides, we need cooler heads to prevail and talk this thing out. We lived in peace together before, we can find a way to do it again.” We walked back out into the main part of the RV just as Maggie was coming out of the bathroom.
“I swear my bladder is the size of a grape,” she said.
I laughed. “Suck it up, buttercup. You’re only having ONE. Mine was the size of a raisin, I think.” We both laughed a little. “We’re done in there, why don’t you lay down?”
“Good idea, my feet are still swollen. If any of the young ones want in, they can nap too.”
It wasn’t long until she had all the kids puppy piled around her in the bed; the older ones had taken off their clothes and shifted, the triplets still in human form. Their wolves had not come forward and been accepted by their human side yet, so they had little control over shifting. It gave me a question I filed away for later.
I went back out and sat with the adults as we played cards and I filled them in on what had been happening with our Pack. They were horrified to hear of Olivia’s fate, and that of the two children remaining from her old Pack. To lose a wolf, in our culture, was halfway to death. Some of them remembered Olivia from our brief visit there.
We listened to some news talk radio since the kids were asleep. It wasn’t good; there were more and more stories of entire Packs being wiped out, statistics from roadblocks and random searches, and ‘cleansing’ of populations. The Department of Defense confirmed they had completed screening of all military units and facilities, and had ‘eliminated’ any werewolf threat within them. Government buildings now had black lights in the security lines, and cities were starting to add ‘werewolf detectors’ to their traffic cameras and surveillance systems.
It was clear what their strategy was; they were making it impossible for us to move, to function among them. They were trying to force us into the wilderness, where their technology could take us out without endangering civilian populations. I pulled out my iPad and checked the news; there was already drone footage of Hellfire Missile strikes on wolves. They didn’t’ say if they were werewolves or wild ones, but did it matter? If it moved, they were killing it.
We had to find a way to shift the momentum of the war before it was too late.
I had a lot on my mind as we pulled into our driveway and parked the RV next to the garage. Tom jumped down and went inside to prep everyone for what was coming. A new house, new Pack, new people could be difficult to handle. Craig decided that it would be best if Natalie helped with the younger ones, as they might relate better to her.
Craig had everyone waiting in the living room when Natalie came up to get the kids. They were nervous, holding on to each other as they looked out the window at the big house. “It’s going to be all right,” I said. “There are good people here, they will help you and keep you safe. All right?”
“Yes Alpha,” Theo said. “Hold on to each other like before.”
“Come on, I can’t wait to show you my room and we can play!” Natalie’s enthusiasm helped overcome their fear, and they filed off the bus and through the garage and into the house. When they walked into the living room, everyone was sitting down and they had put some toys in the center. We watched as Natalie sat them down among the blocks and the games. They pretty much ignored the adults, which was good.
I had Nathanial in my arms while Shelley was following with Laurie. The babies were soon handed off, they were used to Pack so they didn’t fuss when this happened. Maggie was helped onto a chair, and I introduced Estelle and Michael to everyone. Jimmy Erickson had been here earlier to help, so he already knew everyone and fit right in.
Olivia was sitting on Mark’s lap as Tony and Tina played with the other kids on the floor. Tony was making fast friends with Theo and Reggie, while Tina was playing with the Thompson triplets, Sharon, Sara and Sally at the toy kitchen Mabel had pulled down from the attic. I didn’t even know my old toys were still up there.
Marge and Mabel headed into the kitchen to set up lunch, but I knew they were listening in on what was being said. We spent the next half hour going over what had happened to the Johnson Pack, and our trip. Craig was very nervous about the search. “It’s all right,” I told him. “The hiding places in the RV worked well, and we made it through. We even got into the system as having been verified human, that could help us in the future.”
“It’s too close a call,” he said. “A better search and you’d all be dead or in jail right now.” If I had a wolf, it would be howling in pain at how worried my mate was about me. Alas, I didn’t.
Marge came in and said lunch was ready, so we led the kids into the dining room. Another lower table had been added that was more their size so they could eat together. Marge had made a huge batch of homemade macaroni and cheese, and for dessert they had fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. I was glad to see they were starting to relax in their new home.
“I’m still worried that we can be found out here, Ella. My wolf is nervous, he knows that at any moment we could be attacked just like the Anderson Pack was.”
Jacob nodded. “Marge, Mabel and Ella have lived here for a long time, so they aren’t as suspicious as all the new arrivals. If they start digging, they’ll find the disappearance of all the families in this neighborhood suspicious as well. We have to decide how to keep all of us safe.” He looked at me. “Black Ker’s idea was a big help. Those contact lenses arrived this morning; we did a test, it appears it does work against the black light test. There is still the tiniest bit of glow, but not enough for them to call it positive. That means that if we are wearing them, we can pass for human.”
“That’s great!” I was so happy, this was the best news in days.
“One side effect is that it does affect our wolf vision if we wear them, but that is a small price to pay,” Jacob said.
“What about the kids?” I looked over at the table. “They don’t make contacts their size.”
Craig nodded. “We did some tests while you were gone. It appears that the glow doesn’t show up in their eyes until their wolf starts to move forward in their minds. Mitchell and Darryl can pass for human, Natalie can’t.”
“When do they change?” I looked over at Tony and Tina. I prayed to Luna that we didn’t kill their wolves for nothing.
“I’m not sure, let’s find out.” Jacob went to the drawer and pulled out a flashlight with a black light. I watched as he went over and knelt at the kid’s table. “Hi guys, my name’s Jacob. I need to look in your eyes with this funny light, it won’t hurt and will only take a second.”
“Why?” Theo looked at him, I could tell he didn’t trust him yet.
“Well, I want to see if your eyes glow like mine.” He shined the light at his left eye, and the kids squealed as they saw it start to glow. “All right?”
“Yeah, that’s cool!” Theo leaned forward as he shined the light.
“Wow, they are glowing,” said Reggie. “Try me!” Jacob went through them all, and all of their eyes glowed.
We got to the babies, and they were fine. “So… looks like the line is somewhere between six months and three years,” I said.
Estelle nodded. “We first start seeing signs of the wolf at about eighteen months, so that’s probably the break point.”
“And the contacts only work if you are wearing them. Craig, when they attacked the Anderson pack they had no warning. Even with our surveillance, we’d only have a minute or two.”
Jacob stood up and turned back to the table. “And if they are monitoring with infrared or x-rays, they will know how many people are here at the beginning of the attack. If they don’t find enough bodies, they’ll keep digging until they find the safe room.”
“I hate to do this, but…” I looked at Craig as he stood up. “It’s my first responsibility to keep everyone safe. From now on, werewolves will only be allowed out of the safe room if they are wearing the contact lenses. Even with those, I don’t want any werewolves to leave the property unless absolutely necessary.”
“Good thing these contacts are 30 day wear,” said Nadine.
“But… the children! We can’t lock them up in the safe room, can we?” Maggie looked at them with sorrow.
“We will make it as comfortable as we can,” I said. “You’ll be shocked at how big it is. They will be fine.” I didn’t like it, but my mate was right. The children couldn’t be exposed. “Mabel, I’m putting you in charge of getting them settled in the safe room. Make a list of anything we need and we’ll get it for you.”
“You got it, Alpha.” She looked at Marge. “Ha, got out of dish duty sis!” She stuck out her tongue and went down the hall to the safe room entrance.
“I have some other stuff to do right away,” Craig said. “Bring the orphaned children forward to Ella and I.” When they were in front of him, he knelt down to their level and smiled. “I wanted to welcome you all to your new home in the Belden Pack. Your Alpha asked me to take care of you, and Ella and I will. Would you like me to be your Alpha?”
Little Sally started to cry. “Our Alpha died. It hurt when he died, just like when Mommy and Daddy died.” Her sisters hugged her, also crying, and Craig pulled them into his arms.
“I know. I’m your Alpha now.” The other children joined his hug, and he said the words that caused the Pack bond to form with him. The other Pack members smiled as the bonds reached them. When they were ready, he handed them over to Natalie to take them downstairs.
When they were gone, the rest of us sat down again. Craig looked at us all. “Now, I know you four still have your Pack bonds with Derek and Amanda, so it’s up to you if you want to change Packs.”
“I’d rather wait,” Jacob said. “This war could end in a few weeks and I don’t want to cut my ties yet, and I don’t want my mate to worry.”
“Same with me,” Maggie said. The elders nodded as well.
“All right then. If you change your mind, know you are welcome in our Pack.” Craig looked around. “I really didn’t expect to be opening an orphanage here, I don’t know what to do.”
Estelle looked at me. “I think it would be best if we took care of them, Alpha. They already know us and it gives us something to do.”
Jimmy nodded. “I agree, it will be good practice for me for when Melody and I finally have pups.”
Marge looked up, she had been linking. “Mabel said she will stay down there and help. They have their own kitchen and everything down there, it makes sense for one of us to take that.”
“That sounds good,” I said. “Those of us who are human or will pass for human will stay up top. Craig and I along with Marge will stay here. Nadine and Natalie can stay here until they return to their Pack. Olivia, Mark, the Greens are gone, so it would make sense for you to take over their house. It’s still fully furnished.”
“That’s fine,” Olivia said. “We’ll take Tony and Tina with us.”
“Tom and Shelley, you will stay in your house. Jacob, Melanie, you should take a house as well. You can have the one next to Olivia. John, Angela, you’ll stay in your house. Josh?” I looked at our hacker.
He looked up, he was tired from spending long hours hacking. “Yes Alpha?”
“We need to get some records developed and planted in the government systems. Identities first, including driver’s licenses so they aren’t tied back to their previous Packs. Once that is done, arrange for title transfers of the houses from my corporation to their persons. We need to hide the trail a little so suspicion of one house on this road doesn’t spread to everyone else.”
“I can do that, I’ll backdate the transactions and spread them out a little,” he said.
“I’ve got a contact who does identities; he’s good, it costs you but they are solid,” Nadine said.
“That would help,” Josh said.
“All right, let me know what you need, Nadine, and we’ll transfer the funds. As long as we are doing this, get new identities for everyone; heck, get new ones for everyone who isn’t from here AND get backups for everyone. If we have to run for it, we’ll need it.” Nadine nodded, she’d take care of it. “Also, I want things readied in case we need to bug out of here on short notice. Vehicles, food, at least two places we can go. Tom, work your magic with the corporations, and we’ll put them in their name.”
“I’ll take care of it, Ella.” Tom smiled and squeezed Shelley’s hand.
We went through a few more items, and then broke the meeting up. Mabel came up a few minutes later with her list; it was heavy on children’s clothes, bedding and baby stuff. “It’s a lot,” I said.
“Let’s take your truck and a trailer, I need some stuff too. We can head for Minot, the Wal-Mart and Babies-R-Us are there, and get most of this,” Olivia said.
“Sounds good.” Everyone else had something to do, so the two of us headed out to the truck. It was about a two hour drive, so we had a little fun. We cranked my iTunes playlist, singing along as we went until we made it.
We parked the truck and went inside, each grabbing a cart. We hit the children’s clothes section first, filling the carts with stuff we would need. We filled both carts, paid for them and took all the bags out to the truck. We went back inside, we needed beds now. We were looking at the bunkbeds when I heard a voice that stopped my heart.
“Ella. I’m SO happy to see you. And Olivia, human now. How fortunate for me. Your asses are MINE now.”
Oh shit. Alpha David Lewis.