Chapter 63: Our Side
There were two groups that I was thrilled to see walking out of the plane. The first was the Spencers, who had been with us before the war and had fled to Canada. Josh waved at me as he came down the stairs, and my attention was then fixed on the next couple.
Tom and Shelly Harris, my surrogate and Mark’s actual parents, along with the now five-year-old triplets, Sharon, Sara and Sally. They looked like a happy family, and waved excitedly at us. I fought back a tear, recalling that their wolves had to be taken from them with wolfsbane injections as they were unstable after the loss of their families and Pack.
Craig stood tall as they all gathered around, his aura calming the nervous group. “You have all arrived at a perfect time. Let’s get your bags and get this plane out of here, then we’ll head back to the compound.” The flight crew was already unloading, it was a surprisingly small pile of luggage. They put it in the bus luggage compartment by the time Mark and Olivia finally got their lips separated enough to talk. He let her down and she ran over to hug us.
She looked up at Craig, a little nervous. “I brought two people on my own initiative,” she said, her eyes low. “I asked them to stay on board until I had a chance to talk to you.”
“They are humans, and reporters.” I could feel Craig’s grip tightening on my waist. “I met her on a flight to Denver, her name is Linda Remington. She’s a junior reporter at KUSA in Denver.” She looked up into his eyes, sensing he wasn’t angry. “We talked on the flight about the war, she is open minded, but reporters are shut out from our side. Before we landed, I gave her my phone number and told her that if she really wanted the story, she should call me.”
“She did, then?” I was already thinking ahead, I was pleased that she had done this IF she had done it in a way that would protect us.
“Yes, and I told her I could get her an exclusive, but she had to trust me. Her, one cameraman, no cellphones, no known destination, just their gear and their passports. When I had gathered everyone else, I had them meet us in Denver and she took our charter.”
“Fine,” Craig said, “if you vouch for them I’m all right with it. Bring them out.” Mark went with her, never letting go of her hand. I chuckled as Craig pulled me closer. “I’m never letting you get away from me again either,” he whispered in my ear.
We busied ourselves with hugs and introductions while we waited for our final guests. They had been told not to say or do anything that could raise suspicions about them being wolves, and I agreed. If it went south, we’d put them on a plane back out.
“Al?” He walked up towards me. “What do you think of ground rules for them taking video?”
He looked at the plane, deep in thought. “First off, we get to see everything they take and if it could expose our names or location, it’s deleted. Period. Adults and older children will have to have their faces hidden, their voices changed. Too easy to use facial recognition or voice recognition these days.”
My favorite not-so-little-hacker any more, Josh Spencer, now a strapping 18-year-old, walked up and gave me a quick hug. “More than that, sir. We get to edit anything out, then we transfer it all to a thumb drive for them. I go in and make sure the disk drive in their camera is wiped clean. I don’t want anything recovered after we’re done.”
Al nodded. “They can video the ones under five if their parents agree, and wolf or panther forms since that won’t help them identify anyone. Other than that, we need to make sure they don’t learn, or at least don’t share, the location we are at. We need to be up front- if we don’t think we can trust them with our secret, we need to send them packing right now, or kill them.”
“I’m hoping that won’t be necessary,” I said. “I have a little faith in Olivia, she wouldn’t have done this if she didn’t feel they could be trusted.” I looked at the group. “Mark, why don’t you and Olivia take everyone to the main house in the bus. Al, stay with us. We’ll talk to the reporters before the plane leaves.”
“Yes Alpha,” he said. He started moving everyone onto the bus, once they were out of earshot it would be safe to tell them about the island.
Olivia came down with two people in tow, a beautiful young reporter with dark red hair, and a cameraman with a beard who looked to be in his late 20’s. “Elanor and Curtis Black, this is Alan Perkins,” I said as they approached, using our fake names. “Welcome. I trust you had a good flight?”
“It was fine, just a little bumpy. I’m Linda Remington, field reporter for KUSA in Denver. Thank you for having us.” She shook Craig’s hand then mine, she was very bubbly and nervous. She can’t have been too experienced, she looked just a few years older than me.
“Travis Small, cameraman.” He set down his gear bag and shook both of our hands.
“All right then, some ground rules,” Al said. He went through what we had talked about; they were a little hesitant, this was a lot for a reporter to give up control of.
“I assure you, this is a necessary thing for the people you will meet. What we are offering is a chance to talk to and experience a real Werewolf pack outside the war. You can meet with their leadership, see how they live, how their children are raised. You can talk to them about the war, what happened to them and their families, and why they are taking refuge here with us. All we ask in return is that you help us to ensure it can’t be traced back to our families or where we are now. The government can use facial recognition to find and track us, our voice prints can be used to identify our phone calls. That is what we are afraid of, that you will bring them to us. That’s why you were blindfolded for part of the flight, and why the flight crew won’t tell you where you are. If you can’t agree to these terms, then we will escort you back onto the flight and you will be returned to Denver with no hard feelings.”
She looked at Travis, who gave a small nod. “I can live with those restrictions,” she said. “I don’t reveal my sources, and I’m fine with you using false names. I just want to bring your stories to my viewers. No one has been able to get this kind of access before.”
I shook her hand and motioned them to the Jeep. Travis loaded his gear in the back as Al went and got their luggage from the hold. The plane closed up and taxied for takeoff as we were leaving.
She asked a bunch of questions for background as we drove, since we didn’t want any photos of the island or the beaches that could identify where we were. I told her the basics of Pack life; the structure, the sizes, and how it was like a big family. She was surprised that Craig and I were the Alphas, she expected someone older. “My parents were killed, I was eighteen when I became Alpha,” I said. I told her about the basics of mating and turning of humans, emphasizing it had always been punishable by death to turn someone without consent and approval of the Alphas. By the time we arrived at the Pack House, she had the basics down.
I sent a mental command to the Pack, letting them know that we had reporters and what the rules were. I asked them to cooperate, to use false names, and if they weren’t comfortable being photographed in human form they could stay out of sight or shift.
Mabel had already set up a room in the house, basically a small closet without windows, that we could use for the interviews. With a single light on below and behind the chairs in the room, a person could talk and their face would be hidden in shadow. Josh said that he could alter the voices as he transferred the files, so that wasn’t an issue. I let the two know, which shocked them until I explained how Pack could communicate mind-to-mind.
Craig and Al went to take care of other duties, and I gave them a quick tour of the area. They saw the children playing on the beach and Travis went to take video, careful not to show the horizon or anything identifiable. He didn’t want to lose the footage of the young children, some in wolf form, playing with each other.
We walked past where the boar was roasting and I could hear her stomach rumble. “Come on,” I said, “Let’s get some breakfast before we continue.” We walked into the dining room where a buffet breakfast was set out. We had lots of bacon and eggs, and pancakes. Linda moaned at the taste of the bacon. “We have lots of wild boar around, and we smoke the bellies ourselves. We like our food fresh, and we don’t use chemicals or additives. Soon we will be self-sufficient in our food and energy production.”
“Even with all the new people today?” She hadn’t known until after the plane left that all her fellow passengers were actually werewolves, coming her for sanctuary.
“Yes, because there aren’t idle among us. Think of us as a big farm family, there’s plenty of work to do and everyone pitches in. We’re growing more of our food now, and we’ve installed several large wind turbines and solar panels with more on the way. We only need to run our diesel generator a couple times a week now.” We finished our breakfast, and she asked if she could get some questions on video. I called Craig to the room and we sat down at the desk, our faces backlit. Linda verified that the camera wasn’t picking up our faces, but to be sure, we decided to wear surgical masks. If they couldn’t see most of our face, they couldn’t use their recognition programs.
Linda sat to the side of the camera, so her face was illuminated gently and she stayed in frame. “I’m in an undisclosed location with the Alphas of a werewolf pack. Elanor and Curtis are the leaders, or Alphas, of this Pack which is in hiding from the government. Alphas, thank you for agreeing to talk with us.”
“You’re welcome,” I said. “I think it is past due for Werewolf leaders to come out and tell our side. We didn’t want this war, and it never should have happened.”
“Why do you say that?”
“We’ve been in the United States as long as you have,” Craig said. “When the Mayflower came over, there were werewolves among them. We’ve lived among you for centuries, peacefully coexisting, being a part of your society and our country.”
“I think that is one reason your reveal was such a shock,” Linda said. “Suddenly we realized that dangerous beings were among us and could strike at any moment.”
“Yet we didn’t,” I said. “What happened was a tragedy for both sides, and clearly a werewolf started it all. We had one man go insane and attack a school. The werewolves who were there tried to stop him, they did stop him. We don’t execute all the children when we have a school shooter, that doesn’t make sense. It could have been stopped, but the local Packs were more afraid of being revealed than what would happen when they left. You saw the changes, that is what happens when a turn occurs in a violent way.”
“It isn’t always that way?”
“Not at all. There are some of us who find our spouses, our mates, among humans. There is a process of explaining the change, receiving permission from the Alphas, and always with the consent of the person being turned. The turn of a mate is a much different thing, because the mate and the Alphas are there to stabilize the new wolf when it emerges. You see, a new wolf is frightened by its surroundings, by having to share a body and a brain with a human. The Alphas or mates anchor the wolf, allowing it to calm down and accept its new nature. We have turned wolves in this Pack, you should talk to them about their experience.”
“So that carnage at the school didn’t have to happen?”
“No; if the people who were scratched and bitten were sedated, then placed with an Alpha for support, they could have become normal Pack members,” I said.
“But what if they don’t want a wolf? Isn’t it permanent?”
“No, it is not. The wolf can be killed, but we won’t go into how because we don’t need the government using it against us. The point is, if we would have talked and come together to solve the problem instead of defaulting to shooting on sight, it would have been a different history. Now the hunters of the night are the hunted. We are being bombed, targeted by drones, and executed on sight. Do you really think we wouldn’t strike back?”
Craig picked it up. “It’s not like we have been perfect either. We used economic sabotage, terrorism and sneak attacks because we didn’t have the numbers to fight otherwise. Instead of helping our cause, it only hardened the attitudes towards us.”
“So what happens now? How does this end?”
“Hopefully, saner heads will prevail and we find a way to live together again,” Craig said. “We aren’t going to go quietly to our mass graves, I guarantee that.”
“This war is hurting everyone,” I said. “This Pack was formed as a sanctuary Pack at the start of the war.”
“So why here? Why a sanctuary?”
“Because when Packs came under attack and fled to the hills, there were some that couldn’t go with,” I said. “We were a very small pack, easy to hide and out of the way. We were allied with a much larger Pack which was bombed early in the war, losing entire families in a few moments. The pregnant, the badly injured, the orphaned young ones- they had nowhere else to go. We went to get them, and soon more people were coming to us. Just today, almost two dozen war orphans were added to our ranks. We came here and formed this Pack because these children are innocent, and they deserve a life.” I wiped the tear from my eye as Craig gave me a hug. “This war has gone on for over two years with no end in sight. We put our money and our lives on the line to find a safe place to wait it out.”
She asked a few more questions, then we arranged to have some others come in to talk. By lunchtime, Linda was complaining she had a headache from all the rethinking she was having to do. There were a few people who didn’t want to be on camera, but would talk on the record. She also got a few of the young orphans to talk about what had happened to them and their families.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house for them.
I used the satellite phone and called the charter company, asking them to send a much smaller plane to us in the morning to return them to Denver. They participated in and filmed part of the party that night, as we feasted on the wild boar our Pack had taken down. They loved the video of the wolves playing, but when I changed to my panther things really got fun. “Beautiful, isn’t she?” Craig was standing next to Linda as Travis recorded me playing with the pups.
“I didn’t know they had werepanthers,” she said.
“They aren’t common,” he replied. Pulling off his clothes, unconcerned with his nudity, he shifted into his large black wolf and went to play. The cubs climbed over their Alpha pair, their excited yips and leaps making for a great photo opportunity.
Overnight, Josh and Al worked with Travis to go through all the video he had taken while Linda spent the night going over her notes from the interviews. In one day, she had gone from low-level local reported to a player on the national scene. We waved goodbye as they got on the plane, hoping for two things.
One, that the interviews would make a difference in the war.And two, that this wouldn’t come back to destroy us.