Chapter 70: Nobody Kers
“Craig, what’s going on with the helicopter?”
“It’s Panamanian military,” he replied. “They radioed us and said to meet them at the airstrip. I’m on my way with Mark now. Stay out of sight, love.”
“Keep me posted.” I looked over at Derek and Amanda, standing together in their wolf forms. We weren’t the same Pack so I couldn’t talk without shifting, so I did. “It’s a military helicopter, Craig is on the way to meet it at the airstrip. We should get home now, it will be light soon.” I bounded through the jungle, they followed easily since they were much faster than me by nature. We shifted at the treeline and raced into the house. I took a quick shower and fed the babies before going back downstairs; I wasn’t hungry, we had eaten one of the boars while in animal form, but I needed to stay awake to see what was going on.
A half hour later, Craig had pulled into the driveway and the Pack was gathered for an emergency meeting. I joined him on the stairs in the living room as everyone gathered around. “This morning,” he started, “I was notified by the Panamanian Army that an agreement had been reached with the United States regarding the removal of unexploded chemical ordnance on this island. We have been given thirty days to leave the island, in preparation for removal of the materials.”
The pack was shocked, looking around at each other. I was shocked as well; after all these years, we were suddenly being booted? “How long?” was the first question.
“A year. Maybe more.” Everyone started talking at once, and Craig had to growl to get everyone to quiet down. “Look, it was bound to happen. The government has been trying to get the United States to remove the chemical weapons for decades, and now it is happening. I had to pretend to be happy about it, because the ordnance is the big reason this island is so lightly developed.”
There were many more questions, most of which we couldn’t answer. Finally, I had enough. “QUIET.” The group stilled, heads bowed in submission. “We are leaving soon, we all need to prepare. I don’t know how much we will be able to bring with us, so start thinking about what to store and what to take.”
“But how do we know what to take if we don’t know where we are going?” They did raise a good question.
“We came here with almost nothing, we can leave with the same. Don’t worry about it. We will come up with some options and discuss them at a later meeting. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been up all night and the bed is calling me.” There was a bit of laughter at that, but they got the point. “We have a party tonight, we’re doing a pig roast to celebrate my cousin’s visit and their pregnancy. Those of you who weren’t involved in the hunt, please help with the preparation. We’ll eat at sundown.”
The party was epic, over the years we have become experts at roasting big pigs over hot coals. The recipe had evolved a bit, our time on the islands had pushed our tastes away from tomato-based sauces and towards ones that were featuring local tropical fruits and spices. I could tell Derek was hooked, he was drooling even after his fourth serving. We were sitting at a picnic table, watching as some Pack members played volleyball and others gathered around the fire on the beach. “So does anyone have any ideas as to where we can go,” I asked.
Derek looked at me. “Well, first off, do you have papers to travel?”
“Of course,” Craig said. “We have real and fake passports for everyone who has come here, thanks to our contacts. Along the way, we obtained dual citizenship with Panama; it cost a pretty penny in bribes, but it’s another layer. We can travel on either passport.”
“It might be easier to talk about the places you should NOT go,” said Amanda. “Mexico is out, too corrupt and the Cartels are too powerful there. I’d say the same about El Salvador and Honduras, plus some of South America.”
“We can’t go to North Dakota,” Craig said. “After Wolfstock, everyone knows you used to be a wolf and your pack was in Belden. You show up anywhere in that state, you’ll be recognized.”
“Or our Pack,” Derek said. “We’ve got embedded reporters, you’d stick out like a sore thumb. We’ve even got a reporter who used to be in the Pack.”
“I know,” I giggled a little. “We knew Linda Remington years ago when she did the feature on our Pack.”
“That was you?” I nodded. “Wow. I had my suspicions, but you did such a good job hiding your identities I couldn’t tell for sure.”
“Renee’s pack is out too,” Amanda said. “They are having issues with the Cartels down there, and the DEA. They even got raided by the Feds recently. Too hot for you.”
I nodded. “I want to bring Renee to me when the time is right, please don’t say anything to her or Robert about us,” I said. “You know she’ll freak out when she finally sees me, I hate to ruin the surprise.” They nodded. “So, any ideas? I’d really prefer not to go anywhere cold. I don’t think my body could handle it anymore.”
“There’s the abandoned territories of Packs that are gone,” Al said.
“We can’t go back to Alexandria, Olivia and I could be recognized. Plus, most of the properties were seized and sold during the war. Without a surviving Pack member to transfer it to, nothing happens, and we can’t come out as survivors without an explanation.”
We kicked it around for a while longer, when Derek said he had an idea. “I have to run it by some people, but it’s warm and it’s empty. You guys keep thinking of ideas and I’ll call you on the satphone when I get back and talk to the Alpha.” We focused on enjoying the rest of the night before they had to leave; the plane was arriving from the mainland at first light.
A few days later, I got a call back from Derek. The Alpha had given permission for us to stay in the empty territory until we could return to the island; the agreement required us to sign a formal treaty with them, and could be revisited after a year. The Alphas wanted to meet us in person before letting us in, so Craig and I were going to have to leave earlier.
The best news, though, was that he was able to confirm through the Alphas and the DEA that the Soccorro cartel was no more. They had made the mistake of pissing off Renee Hastings, and Renee and Doug ended him. His organization fell apart, the territories being taken over by adjacent cartels. Renee had contacts with the other Cartel leaders; none of them had any issue with what she had done with taking out Jose Hernandez or with me. If I could be safe from the US Government, I might be able to show my face again.
We set up a charter flight back to the States for us, leaving Mark and Olivia in charge behind us. Craig and I arranged to meet Gunny at the airport, and as soon as our fake ID’s cleared Customs he was loading us into an SUV and heading for the Gila Pack. Gunny filled us in on the events recently in the Pack; although Renee and Robert were now fully mated, a lot of other events had gone on. The Cartel war was over, and her Pack members were now members of the Gila Pack. Seven months pregnant, and she was on bedrest with the twins.
We were met at the edge of their territory by a guard who searched our vehicle and then escorted us to the house; the Pack was still on edge after everything that had happened. We pulled up next to a huge resort house, where two men and a woman were waiting for us. Gunny jumped out and opened the door, helping me out then Craig followed and took my hand. We walked over to the two men, and Gunny spoke first. “Alphas Craig and Ella Anderson, may I present Alpha Robert Hastings and his counsel, William Post.”
Craig shook their hands first, but I reached forward and hugged Robert before shaking William’s hand. “Thank you so much for inviting us, and I’m so happy my favorite little cousin found you for a mate!”
“No more than I am, she’s amazing.” He gestured for us to follow him as we went up the stairs into the spacious entryway of his Pack house. “I’ll have to hold the tour until later, Renee knows Alphas are coming to talk and she’s itching to do something other than watch television.”
“Does she know who we are?”
“No, and that’s what will be fun with this. I told her it is a Pack that is looking to relocate because their properties in the Midwest were confiscated and sold during the war.”
“Let me go in first,” Craig said. “This should be fun.”
We got to the Alpha wing and I hung back while Craig went in right behind Robert. I listened in through the open door as he made introductions. “Oh, it’s wonderful to meet you Alpha Craig, welcome to…”
I snuck forward to see and started to laugh to myself. She had a confused expression on her face as she pulled Craig’s arm to her face, sniffing it wildly. “This can’t be… how…”
“Reports of my death have been exaggerated, Renee.” I ran into the room and gave her a big hug as she tried to get her mind around things. It took her thirty seconds to put two words together as we cried on each other’s shoulders.
She sniffed my neck, and was confused again. “I can tell you’re mated to Craig, but why do you smell like a cat?”
It took an hour, sitting next to her on the bed, to bring her up to speed with where we were on everything. We had agreed not to talk about Ker, so we left the danger we were in generic to the government for some things I had done during the war. “We’re not ready yet for everyone to know who I am and where I’m living,” I said. “We were happy and safe down in Panama, but now we have to be kicked out for a year. That’s why we thought of the Santa Fe area, we wanted a territory with no established Pack we can settle in to quietly, that doesn’t have snow.”
“Of course you can use the Santa Fe territory! I couldn’t ask for better neighbors than my favorite cousin. You have to promise to visit, though.”
“We will.” We stayed for a few more hours, then drove to a property Gunny had located which we might be interested in. I looked at the property on the Internet while we drove there. It looked promising; the six million dollar asking price was reasonable, and the fifty-acre ranch butted up to thousands of acres of the Santa Fe State Forest. From the satellite view and photos, the canyons and forests would provide lots of cover for Pack runs and hunting. The main house was big enough at seven thousand square feet, with six bedrooms and seven baths, but we would have to subdivide some of the bedrooms to make rooms for the many children. It had a barn, shop, large kitchen, outdoor kitchen and my favorite- a pond with a swim-under waterfall. We toured it with the realtor, and let Gunny in charge of buying it under the name of one of our dummy corporations. We also tasked him with getting the stables cleaned out and the building turned into a guesthouse.
“No problem there, why, you’ve given me almost three weeks to pull off a three-month project,” he complained.
“Suck it up, Gunny. Find a way.” I smirked at him as we walked back to the car; I was willing to bet he would get it done through sheer willpower. He had Craig drive back to the airport so he could start calling general contractors, and he had one picked out and meeting him at the property in an hour. We boarded the flight and went back home.
We had another Pack meeting that night where we went over the location and the new property, and all were in favor. “No ocean,” John Johnson complained, “but the pond is cool, humidity will be low and I’m imagining all that forest to run after being on this island.” It was also nice to have allies on each side, with Renee’s pack to the west and their allies, the El Paso Pack, to the east.
I sent my mate with Mark and Olivia back to the states a week early to get the new house ready while I supervised the move. We were putting a bunch of stuff into storage, as the military wanted to use the old resort as a base of operations for the bomb clearance operation. The US government would be renting the property and the vehicles, as well as providing compensation for us being relocated, so the financial hit wasn’t so bad. We left them large map in the office of the northern part of the island, where each known unexploded ordnance was located. I said they were each marked with stakes and orange flags, each with a number, that a bomb-sniffing dog had found when we brought him in.
Of course, we had lots of bomb-sniffing wolves, and we had mapped everything when we first got here for our own safety.
We had everyone pack their belongings being left behind into watertight cases, and left them in a storage room. By the time we got word it was time to leave, each person was down to a couple suitcases of possessions. It helped that the desert climate we were going to would require similar clothing! We were all carrying our US passports, mine with my fake name Elanor Black, and our other identifications were well hidden in our suitcases for when Customs would inspect them.
There were more than a few tears as we went wheels-up and watched our island disappear below us. I had a funny feeling we would not return to the place I had grown to love.