Chapter 62: Happy Returns
A week later, two baby girls were crying in Mark’s arms as Olivia boarded the plane back to the States. Mark wasn’t happy, but he understood. Any movement of a werewolf in the States was becoming risky, contact lenses or not.
I thought back to the discussions we had been having after our return. Our Pack was not ignorant of what was going on in the real world, we had satellite TV news, we just didn’t allow communications out. We needed to find a way to tell our side of the war; Al was adamant that we couldn’t win unless public opinion changed. Her first job, though, was to contact the remaining Packs and collect the stragglers.
She wasn’t carrying much, a travel bag with some clothes and some untraceable debit cards and cash. Her long red hair waved in the breeze; she had dyed it again to match the false passport and driver’s license she was using. We watched as her charter plane took off, and headed back to the Jeeps to take us to our homes. Mark was crying, I was comforting him and the girls as Craig held our boys in the other Jeep. No one slept well that night.
I began to see what had happened in the Pack when I had disappeared; the constant looking for the person you knew wasn’t there. The sudden crying fits. Short tempers. Craig and I were strong for the sake of the Pack, but inside I was terrified my friend would never come back. She was only human, after all.
After losing my beast and gaining another, I knew exactly how weak she was in comparison.
I spent all the time I could with my children and my Pack. We would hit the beach in the morning, and again after dinner when the sun and temperature weren’t too oppressive. There was a long, gently sloping section the small ones played in, with adults rotating in as monitors to keep them safe as they played. A little farther out, the older kids and adults would swim. The waves were big enough for beginning surfers, so that and boogie boards became the new thing to master.
Let’s just say that my previous life as a North Dakota ranch girl had not prepared me for life on a surfboard! The Wyoming folks weren’t much better. Luckily, Juan Carlo, one of the caretakers of the island hotel who we had kept on staff, was a lifelong surfer. He gave lessons several times a day to Pack members of all ages and abilities. Once we got the idea of how to do it, we learned quickly due to our superior strength and agility. I was actually decent at it after a few weeks of practice.
While I was gone on my mission, it had become apparent to Craig that the staff would have to be brought in on the secret of who we were. There were too many chances to be caught, what with people changing, howling, hunting and running- and wolves were not native to the islands. So, Craig and the Pack leadership decided who they wanted to keep on, then made them an offer that required them to swear to secrecy to stay.
Everyone who we offered the jobs to took them. I wasn’t surprised, it was a good job; we paid well, especially after the offer, and we gave them weekends off. Some would go back to the mainland, others stayed. They soon became used to seeing wolves run through the housing, even going so far as to play with the younger ones in their wolf form. Unlike the people back home, they didn’t fear us because they got to know us and knew what kind of people we were.
Olivia was gone the entire month of September, and we were becoming nervous. What she was doing as a human was dangerous on both sides; the humans if they found she used to be a wolf, and the werewolves if they saw her just as a human out to find them. Mark was beside himself with worry, we all were. We kept busy with hunting, school for the children, and making improvements to the island. We were getting regular shipments of diesel fuel, building supplies and machinery. Since we were in the tropics, we mixed our own concrete and poured foundations and walls with steel roofs to withstand hurricane force winds. All of the roofs were flat, with runoff directed to underground tanks to store the precious fresh water. We were also clearing land for crops, our goal being to become more self-sufficient in feeding ourselves.
Tonight was fun, my cat wanted to hunt and I talked Craig and some other Pack members into it. The numbers of wild boar were slowly being reduced, but it wasn’t easy for the wolf pack. The pigs were very intelligent, could smell as well as us, and had nasty tusks that could kill a wolf easily if things went south. We had quickly determined that fighting them, especially the large ones, was too dangerous. Instead, we would drive them towards a cliff and run them off.
This only worked when the cliff was around, so we had large areas of the island that hadn’t been thinned yet. Our plan was still to drive them, but to use my cat’s ambush ability to drop down on a big one while the Pack took down the smaller ones in groups. We moved out an hour before sunset in animal form, the young ones left behind.
We found a place with a large tree overhanging a funnel created by the boulders and dense shrubbery in the area. I could smell them, and see the tracks. We left the ropes, knives and butchering equipment nearby for later. Using the bond, I told them to swing well around to the east and drive them to me. Craig yipped once and the rest of the Pack followed him as I climbed the tree and settled in to wait.
In this style of hunt, the wolves form a wide semicircle around the pigs in the area and slowly close down on them, making noise and howling the whole time. The goal is to get them running and get them tired, as pigs don’t have near the endurance wolves do. I could hear them already, several miles away as they closed in on me. My tail flicked back and forth impatiently as I waited, the rapidly diminishing light not an issue for my panther vision.
I could tell by the grunts and sounds of large animals crashing through the underbrush that they were coming. A few deer were scared up, but we allowed them through, we wanted to sustain that population. I got up on my paws and waited, and soon the frightened pigs were almost on me. I picked my target carefully, a dominant sow who probably weighed over six hundred pounds.
Timing my leap perfectly, my cat jumped onto her back, my claws finding purchase in her flesh and my teeth grabbing her neck just behind the skull. The sudden weight caused her to stumble and roll, but I held on tight. I could feel ribs break and my wind was knocked out, but my long teeth just kept pressing for the spine. A smaller boar would be dead already from a broken neck, but this one was so huge my teeth couldn’t get all the way around the bone. She squealed in fear, frantically trying to get back up, but my Pack mates were on her. Wolves jumped in from all sides, the younger ones grabbing legs while Craig went straight for the exposed neck. He tore a chunk of flesh out and was rewarded by a spray of arterial blood. We all held tight as her life drained into the sand and she finally slumped to the ground.
Craig shifted, covered with blood and dirt, looking every bit the dominant male that he was. Others shifted as well, rolling the sow off me as I coughed up blood. “Shit,” Craig said as he knelt naked by me, “are you all right?”
“I’ve had worse, just got rolled on. Next time, I think I’ll use a .300 Winchester Magnum.” I shifted in place and he picked me up, careful of my bruised side. “Just set me down, I’ll be better in a few minutes.” He put me on a nearby fallen log, where I watched as my Pack went about the business of butchering our kills. In addition to the big sow, we had taken four others that weighed between fifty and two hundred pounds.
I could practically taste the fresh bacon.
I could breathe again by the time they were cutting down branches to carry the boar home with. Craig didn’t want me exerting myself, so I shifted back and trotted by their side as we walked the few miles back to the hotel. Still sore, I laid on the grass between the hotel and the beach and watched as the meat was processed. I soon had almost all the little ones in both forms playing on or around me, although they were keeping clear of my chest.
The smaller hogs were butchered and stored, but we decided to roast the big sow whole using a local method. A thick steel rod became the rotisserie, over a bed of coals and burning wood. The tough meat was injected with a mixture of spices, fruit juices and fresh herbs, and the flesh rubbed with a dry rub. The cooking would take place over the next full day, with cooks rotating off until we would feast tomorrow night.
Our Pack was big enough to eat it all, and our human help and their families were going to be there too.
Craig took me to bed, making tender love to me before falling asleep with his head on my stomach. He loved to hear the heartbeat of our little one inside me.
I woke up to the smell of roast pig, the wind had shifted and was blowing the smell right into our rooms. My stomach growled a little, so I moved Craig off of me and went to the bathroom. As I was getting my bikini on with a sundress, John Johnson came over the Pack bond. “Alphas, we have an aircraft approaching. A big one.”
That was enough to get Craig up and moving. I called Mark, Al and Marge to come with us as Mabel took over care of the young ones still asleep. Five minutes later we were driving the small bus and the Jeep towards the airstrip.
John was right, the plane was larger than normal, but our runway was plenty long for it to use. We regularly scraped it flat and filled in holes, never knowing when it might be needed. The plane was on final approach, it was a twin turboprop charter plane capable of holding maybe fifty people. If Olivia had rented this, she needed it.
“Let’s be ready just in case they aren’t friendly,” Craig said. The vehicles had weapons lockers hidden away, and we removed the rifles and set them where they wouldn’t be seen, but could easily be reached. In the back of our minds was the possibility that someone had tracked us down. We watched the plane land and stop, then turn around and taxi back to where we were parked. Mark and Craig walked out to meet them.
The hatch opened and the flight crew let the stairs down, and as soon as he stepped back a mass of red hair came flying out of the plane. “MARKKKKKKK!” She made it halfway down before leaping off the steps and into his arms. He spun her around as their lips crashed together, her legs wrapped around his hips. I smiled and walked towards the plane, satisfied that we weren’t in danger.
People started to walk out of the plane and down to the stairs, looking around curiously at their surroundings. I could tell they were all werewolves, a few even recognized me and smiled. They started to gather around Craig and I, instinctively gravitating towards the most dominant wolves. I snickered a little as they got close enough to scent that I wasn’t a wolf, most had never met a werecat, so they didn’t know what to think. All told, there were twenty-two adults and eighteen children, from babies to early teens. “Welcome to our island,” I said. “I am Alpha Ella, and this is my mate Alpha Craig.”