Beyond the Were War

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Chapter 6: Extortion

Johnson Pack Camp

Alpha’s office

“What do you mean you can’t find Renee?” Derek jumped up from his desk, his Beta had called from the parking lot of the Babies ’R Us. “When was she last seen?”

“About an hour ago, sir. The women split up to do their shopping, she was last seen going back to the dressing room. No one saw anything and no other werewolves have been in the store.”

“Did you follow her scent?”

“Yes, it was difficult, but we found it going through the back of the store and out the back. There was a human smell mixed with her. We are talking to the manager right now, trying to go through the security footage, but the trail is cold. They must have had a car waiting outside.”

“Anyone able to make mental contact with her?”

“No, the other women of her Pack can’t sense her. She’s either too far away or unconscious. No one felt a bond breaking, so she is still alive. There was a syringe on the floor, the police have it now. We didn’t have a choice, the store called them when we found the evidence she had been kidnapped.”

Derek sat down again. “That may be to our advantage. Get the word out to the media that she is missing, that will give us the best chance of someone spotting her. I want Amanda and the other women back here now, though. Load them up and send them back, I’ll send someone to get you later.”

Fuck. He had promised to keep Renee and the other women safe and she had been kidnapped right under their noses. This wasn’t going to be a fun phone call. He lifted the phone and dialed his brother in law. He went straight to voice mail. None of the Betas answered either.


Cartel Safe House

Outskirts of Albuquerque

“GODDAMMIT, REPORT!” Juan thundered over the cellphone, his legendary temper starting to get the best of him. Carlos was working through the video footage of their vault, trying to figure out what had happened since the alarms had gone off. It wasn’t good, it looked like a professional job- men dressed in black, faces covered, gloves on. He watched as they entered and opened the vault, his eyes refusing to believe what they were seeing. They didn’t use explosives, or safecracking equipment- they just opened the damn door!

Juan’s pacing was not getting any better. His men had arrived at the vault, only to be blown apart by another ambush. Half his men were killed, the rest were injured. They were forced to abandon the dead and flee from the sirens they heard coming, the explosions had attracted too much attention. They didn’t even have time to check out the vault. Juan crushed the phone under his heel and kicked a hole in the wall. He couldn’t believe what was happening. It took a few minutes to calm down enough that he could join Carlos in watching the security footage. The thieves were numerous and efficient, the vault was emptied out in mere minutes. “It has to be the Gulf cartel- no one else is that well trained. How long since the alarm?”

“Six minutes twenty seconds right here.” Carlos was impressed as well. It wasn’t for a few minutes when they saw what was being brought back in that they figured it out.

“MOTHERFUCKERS!! I’ll kill them ALL!” As the men carried the bodies past the camera, he could clearly make out the uniforms and faces of his assault team. The fucking wolves were bringing his men back to the near empty vault!

“Boss, the police are arriving at the vault. Anything in there is lost. It’s too late.” He could see the emotions in Juan’s face, he needed to kill someone for this and quick. “Boss, you need to know something. The people who did this knew the combination to the vault. We have a traitor among us.”

“How many people know that combination?”

“Other than the two of us, only three people.” Juan stared him down. “I’ll get them here. We’ll figure this out and people will pay for what they have done.”

“Them... and their families. I want vengeance of biblical proportion.”


Enrique’s Apartment

El Paso, Texas

Anna picked Enrique up and set him on the bed, moving pillows to keep his head up. She tore off a pillowcase and used it to press to the front of his chest, hoping to staunch the blood. She checked his back and didn’t find an exit wound. “Enrique you can’t die on me! Hold on!” Brett was in contact with Pack members, but the shots in the apartment building won’t go unnoticed.

“We’ve got to get him out of here, we can call 911 and get an ambulance.”

Enrique had lost consciousness, his face was pale and she could hear his heart starting to slow. “He won’t last that long.” Making her decision, she partially shifted her jaw and lunged forward, biting him deeply at the junction of his neck and shoulder. It may not work, but she knew deep down the change was his only chance. She released his neck, licking the blood clean as she moved slowly back. “Grab some clothes, we’ve got to get out of here. Have your Pack doctor meet us at your territory.” She waited for Brett to pull on a T-shirt and basketball shorts before she switched places with him, finding clothes for herself she tore off a length of sheet and tied it around his chest to keep the makeshift bandage in place.

“Go into the spare bedroom, grab the laptop computer and the files and bring them with you. I’ll meet you downstairs.” He quickly left as she wrapped her mate in the dark sheets. He was still breathing, there was still a chance. She stepped around the bodies of the Cartel hit men and out the door, ignoring the looks from the residents who were poking their heads out. She made it out the front door, she could hear the sirens, they didn’t have much time. She ran as fast as she could while carrying her mate to the SUV parked just down the street.

Brett sprinted past her, opening the rear door and helping her lay Enrique on the back seat. She hopped in and he ran around to the driver’s side. Anna kept pressure on the wound as he took off. “Brett, drive like your life depends on it.”

He did.

“I contacted Alec, he will go to the apartment and talk to the police. He will tell them that Enrique is a werewolf and is being taken for treatment.” He went quiet again as he talked over the mental bond. “Our Alpha is already making phone calls. He is friendly with the chief of police. I have asked that he have the police secure the crime scene.”

“Good, but we don’t want them searching the apartment. If they ask about the locked room, stall them, make them get a search warrant.” She focused on her mate, checking his vitals, before continuing. “Did you tell him about me biting him?”

“Yes, I had to, the doctor needed to know. Why?”

“I was under Alpha command not to bite him. I shouldn’t have done it, but... I had to. I can’t lose him after just finding him.”

“Don’t worry about that right now, let’s get him help.” Brett focused on the driving for a while, they were tearing down the highway outside of town towards the Pack lands. “Why would hit men want him dead?”

“He’s the one who tipped us off to the Cartel attack. They must have figured out he was the source.” Enrique started to cough, blood spraying from his mouth onto his face. Anna lifted him up, cleaning the blood from his face with her shirt, then moved him so he was lying on his side with his head in her lap. “He’s starting to breathe easier, the healing has started.” One interesting thing about turns into werewolves was that healing was one of the first signs of a change. It was a survival mechanism, first to stay alive and then... “You don’t have any sedatives in the car, do you?”

“Why?”

“He’s starting to get warm, the turn will be on him soon. He could come out in a rage, he needs to be sedated heavily to allow himself to fully heal first.”

Brett was silent for a minute. “We’re still twenty minutes away from the border of our Pack lands. Our doctor is coming out to meet us, she’s a few miles away.” As soon as they saw the vehicle cross the median and pull to the side, they slowed down and pulled next to it. The door opened and a young woman jumped in carrying a black bag, and they were off again, followed by the other vehicle.

“I’m Doctor Julia Jones, I need you to move into the front seat while I take care of him.” Anna hesitated for just a second before complying, forcing her wolf down as she didn’t want to leave her mate with a strange woman. The woman examined Enrique for a few minutes, using a light in her mouth and the interior lights of the car. “Brett, I need more light. Got any flashlights?” He went to hand one back but she shook him off. “Give it to her. Anna, I need you to keep that light focused on the gunshot wound, all right?”

She opened her bag and removed a large syringe, pulling out a bottle she drew most of the liquid into it before plunging it into his neck. Anna was concentrating to force back her wolf, she knew he needed to be sedated but this was hard to watch. That was nothing compared to what she had to watch next.

The doctor cleaned his chest area with a betadyne pad, then made a horizontal incision with a scalpel. She ignored the blood, placing a clamp in the opening she spread the ribs apart as she cut through to his lungs. Still holding a powerful flashlight in her teeth, she moved her gloved hand into his chest until she found the bullet and tossed it on the floor. She kept moving around until she had found the source of the bleeding and had brought the torn artery into view. She pulled out a stitch kit, closed the hole in the artery, then moved things back into place. She used tape to hold the skin together and keep air from getting in, then inserted a chest tube and portable vacuum device into the side of his chest to reinflate his lung. Anna was relieved as his breathing returned to normal.

She pulled the surgical gloves off and tossed them on the floor. “Shit, that was close.” Pulling an IV kit out of her bag, she hung it from the panic bar and put the needle in the back of his hand. “This will help restore from his blood loss until we can get back and start a transfusion.”

“He’ll make it?”

“We’ll know in the next 24 hours. It was a bad wound, and then you have the stress of the change. I’ll keep him sedated for a few days, but when he turns we have to keep him from turning feral. You are his mate, right?”

Anna blushed. “Yes, but we hadn’t really talked about any of this. I... I just bit him because I thought I was losing him.”

“It’s a good thing you did, he would have bled out before the ambulance arrived if you didn’t.”

“Doc... he needs to be dead.” She saw her confusion. “Look, he works for the government in a top secret job that he used to help us. When the cops go through his apartment, it’s going to get out what he was doing- or the NSA will just send their people over. He told us that if they ever found out about what he was doing it wouldn’t mean being arrested, they would just ‘disappear’ him. What he knows is far too dangerous. Plus, the Cartel tried to kill him and lost two men doing it, they won’t fail a second time. We need to make it look like they got him, or he will never be safe.”

“How many people know he is alive?”

“Right now just us. We need to make everyone think that he died on the way here. I’ll have my pack mates help me prepare the body, and we will return him to our pack for burial. We need to be convincing or it will get back to them that he might be alive. Not even the Alpha can know. Doc... can you do this? Can you sign a death certificate for us?”

Julia sat back and thought about it. If she was found out she could lose her license, but she was Pack first and Pack protected their own. “Yes, I can do it. I’ll fill it out when I get back to my office. I’ll also have to fake an autopsy report and treatment record, but I can do that too. Just make sure he never surfaces again.” She paused for a second, closing her eyes. “Alpha Merino, I’m sorry, but Anna’s mate didn’t make it. The wound was too severe for the change to take place.” She listened for a few minutes. “Yes sir, we are a few minutes out. Can you ask my nurse to meet me at the infirmary, and to bring a body bag and a gurney?” Another pause. “No, Anna is not doing well. They didn’t fully mate, but she’s... she’s not responding right now. I’m going to give her a sedative to help her through this. She needs to be back with her Pack as soon as possible, you know how tough this will be for her. He died in her arms...

She opened her eyes again. “So here’s the deal. The other members of your Pack will meet us when we arrived. I’m going to give you a fast-acting sedative to knock you out, that way you don’t have to try and act out the loss of your mate. Brett and I will transfer him to the body bag and I’ll take him in to do the paperwork. It will take about an hour, then I’ll have your pack mates load you both up and take you home.”

Anna paused. “Will he be all right on the drive?”

“It’s a chance you’ll have to take, the fewer people that know the better. He’s stable now, the change should help him heal. I’ll put a syringe and drug in the bag for you, he will need another shot in six hours. After that your pack healer can take over. Again, the fewer people that know the better. Pick out a new name for him before you get there.”

“I’ve always like the name...”

“Don’t tell us. We don’t want to know. Just keep him safe. He can’t get fingerprinted, he can’t contact anyone from his previous life. It would be best if he never left Pack lands.” Anna smiled, her job was in the Pack house, she could keep him close, there was work for him there and they could be happy and safe.


Cartel Safe House

Outskirts of El Paso

The cargo van pulled into the garage, the door to the suburban home closing before the men got out. Four men entered the van and used crowbars to take the top off of the transport box. Two stood by with tasers while the other two removed the unconscious woman. She was carried feet first into the kitchen, then down to the basement.

The pregnant female was taken into a cell, her arms and legs shacked to a steel bed frame with silver cuffs. The men locked the door as they left. She was in an 8 by 8 foot cage with a concrete floor and back wall. The rest of the room was bare except for a steel chair fixed to the floor and a wall with various torture equipment on it. The men left without speaking, they were highly paid to keep quiet and ignore what happened down here.


Pack SUV

I-25 south of Albuquerque

Robert checked in with each of his men, thanking them for their efforts. Their plan had gone off without a hitch, they were in and out before the Cartel could respond and they had left their message behind. They were operating under strict radio silence, cellphones had been left behind and all communications were by Pack bond, so nothing could be intercepted. Maria was right, this felt really good- they had dealt a huge blow to the Cartel. “Joe, turn on the radio, let’s see if they are saying anything about us.”

“Sure, Alpha. Nothing much on the police scanner now, anyway. They haven’t even gone in yet, they have the perimeter secured and are waiting for the Bomb Squad and ATF.” It took a few minutes to get to the top of the hour on the news-talk station, and the news was sure interesting.

“KALB news talk, our top stories tonight. Albuquerque police have not released a statement yet on an explosion involving several vehicles outside a commercial building on the 1400 block of Mesa Avenue. Initial reports are that multiple men were killed when explosions tore through a pair of SUVs. The killings are suspected to be drug related. In other news, the car bombing death of Albuquerque DEA Agent in Charge Michael Miller this afternoon remains under investigation, DEA officials believe it was related to his work and vow to bring his killers to justice. Three people injured in the blast remain hospitalized.”

“Fuck, who the hell can I trust at the DEA now?” His thoughts were cut short by the next piece of news.

“Local Werewolf leader and symbol of the Were War peace treaty, Renee Johnson-Hastings, was kidnapped shortly after eight pm from a Babies R Us store in Billings, Montana. Video surveillance footage showed masked men injecting her with a drug then carrying her to a waiting vehicle. The FBI is requesting anyone with information regarding this abduction to call their hotline at 1-877-FBI-TIPS.”

The roar let loose by Robert nearly deafened everyone in the vehicle. “GET US BACK HOME NOW.”


Cartel Operations Center

Las Cruces, NM

Juan walked into the interrogation room, following Carlos. Both were pissed. Three men were blindfolded, naked and bound in the room, their hands tied to eye bolts on the rafters above. “Boss, as you requested they have been kept ignorant of why they are here.”

“Good.” He looked with disgust at the formerly trusted men he had before him. All were senior in his organization and had been with him from the early days, but one of them was a traitor. “OK, boys, this is how it is. One of you has worked with the werewolves to steal my money out of the vault. If you admit to it now, I’ll make your death quick and your family will be spared. If not,” he looked each in the eye, “they will not be.”

He turned to Carlos. “Cut them down and leave them in here. You have one hour to figure out who the traitor is. If no one admits to it, I’ll assume you are all guilty.”

One of the men dared to question him. “Boss, please, I’ve done nothing!”

Juan pulled out his gold-plated .45 caliber pistol and pointed it at his face. “Those bastards came into MY place!” He moved the pistol down and shot him in the left leg. “They opened MY vault!” He shot his right leg. “They took MY money!” He shot him in the left hand. “And someone in here gave them the combination!” One more shot, this to the right hand. The man writhed about on the floor, scared to even look at the man he once considered a father figure. Juan pointed the gun at the others, all immediately lowered their eyes. “You have one hour to figure it out.”

Carlos followed him out of the room, the door locked securely behind them. “Boss, you know you won’t get a solid answer out of this.”

“I know. See what they say, then kill them all.”


Gila Pack House Garage

New Mexico

The caravan of vehicles arrived and parked in the underground garage. They should have been ecstatic at their successful raid, but the mood was somber and angry.

Their Luna had been taken from them.

As soon as they were back on Pack lands, Robert was on the phone with Derek. The news wasn’t good. They had no clues as to where she was, but the police and the Pack warriors and trackers were still out there looking. Derek had placed the rest of his pack on lockdown, including the remainder of the mates and children from the Gila pack. They were in the safe area with his own pregnant women and children, protected by him and his strongest men. Robert had already mind-linked with his Betas to find they had already taken that action and all were safe. It was back to protecting the vulnerable and his lands.


El Paso Pack Clinic

Texas

The SUV pulled into the Pack driveway and slowly moved towards the clinic. The road was lined with El Paso Pack wolves, some shifted, some not, but all there to provide support to a woman who just lost her mate. Their wolves knew instinctually that their support, their touch, their presence might help the widow from spinning into darkness. The loss of a mate usually meant such a deep depression that the person became suicidal or gave themselves completely over to the wolf side, becoming a danger to everyone. It didn’t matter to them that the widow wasn’t from their Pack, she was under their protection.

The vehicle stopped in front of the clinic where a wheelchair and gurney were waiting. The four Gila pack wolves along with a nurse were waiting. Caleb opened the door and removed Anna’s seatbelt before lifting her out and over to the wheelchair that Maria was holding. Anna was still asleep. “Sedative, she was starting to lose it in the car and we couldn’t calm her down.” They wheeled her into the clinic.

The nurse then rolled the gurney up near the side door and handed Julia a body bag. She unfolded it on the floor then she and Brett lifted Enrique off the seat and into it, zipping it nearly closed. Brett looked out at Linda and Andy. “Take his feet, we’ll pass him out to you.” Nodding, both took hold of the end of the body bag and they worked him feet first onto the gurney. Both exited the vehicle, their clothes soaked in blood and their faces somber.

Julia turned to her Alpha, who was standing next to the gurney, his hand on the railing. “Alpha, I need to do an autopsy and fill out the paperwork, then I will release his body. Andy, do you want him burned here or are you going to return to Gila?”

“We’ll take him home. Our business here is done, and with everything going on our Alpha will want everyone back.” They had heard the news about Renee as well, it had passed like lightning through the El Paso pack bonds when it came over the radio.

“I understand. I will alert your Alpha.”

Andy shook his head no. “Please don’t do that, the Cartel must have been able to intercept communications in order to figure out Enrique was a threat to them. I can’t trust anything but face to face or a Pack bond. We just need to leave, quickly and quietly.”

As the gurney started to move, the Alpha stripped and shifted, those in his Pack in human form following. He let out a powerful, mournful howl. The second time, his Luna joined in followed by the Betas. The third and final howl was joined in by the entire Pack.


Cartel Operations Center

Las Cruces, NM

“Get some men to bury them out in the desert.” Carlos nodded, wiping the blood splatter from his face as they exited the room. In the end, no one knew anything so Juan killed them all. “At least we have some good news. Renee Hastings is secure in the El Paso safe house.”

“Good. Arrange transport for us, I want to talk to her in person. She’s the key, Robert will do anything to keep her alive, including giving all the money back.”

“Will you be satisfied with just getting the money, boss?”

“No. They will pay with their lives.” He turned back to his most trusted adviser. Carlos nodded, trying to figure out where he was going. “Now let’s get out of here, I don’t want to spend another moment in the presence of a traitor.”


El Paso Pack Clinic

Texas

“Anna, it’s best if you just continue playing as if you are sleeping, fewer questions and problems that way.” She nodded. “In this bag I’ve put the supplies you will need for the trip. I need you to change his dressing if it soaks through, and in four hours I need you to give him this shot. I’ve written up the real record of what happened, you need to give that to your Pack doctor when you arrive.”

She then turned to Linda and Andy. “Drive straight back to your Pack, don’t stop for anything. Keep him flat in the back and covered with a blanket, make sure no one can see him from the outside. And keep your speed under control, you can’t afford to get pulled over.”

“Yes ma’am, we’ll take good care of him.” Andy helped her move him onto the gurney, then they zipped up the body bag leaving a few inches open at the top for air. “Thank you again for the help with this, he’s an important guy to Anna and our Pack.”

“It’s my pleasure, just make sure you keep him hidden. If his true identity comes out, I’ll lose my medical license for falsifying the death certificate. Get him a new identity soon and make it a good one.”

“I wouldn’t worry about that, he’s a computer genius. Next week you won’t find anything about him except the obituary.”

Linda walked in, having just come from the Alpha’s office. “We should get going if you guys are ready.”

Julia handed her a manila envelope. “OK, here are copies of his autopsy and death certificate. I’ve already made the phone call to the county, since the autopsy is done I told them I’ve released him for burial. By the time people figure it out you’ll be back home. Good luck, everyone.” She hugged them goodbye and watched as they wheeled the gurney out to the SUV, Anna asleep and held in Andy’s arms. They laid Enrique in the back cargo area and buckled Anna in the seat row just in front of it. Caleb and Maria were already in the middle seats, and Linda entered the passenger side. Andy paused before getting in, turning to face the Alpha and his Betas lined up behind him. “Alpha Merino, I and my Pack appreciate your assistance in this time of trouble. I will be sure to convey that to my Alpha on my return.”

“Thank you as well, Beta Andy, and may you find your Luna soon and safe.” Nodding, Andy got in and they pulled away from the house.

“Anna, don’t wake up until I tell you we are outside Pack lands, all right? Let’s settle in, we will stop for lunch in a couple hours.”


Cartel Safe House

Outskirts of El Paso

Doctor Hector Martinez nervously stood at the door of the basement. His family practice normally did not involve house calls, but when you are basically owned by the Cartel, you do what they tell you.

Hippocratic oath be damned.

He was regretting every decision that led to this point, starting with accepting money under the table to patch up a man with a gunshot wound. His greed kept him going deeper, to pay off his loans, his house, to buy stuff for his family. When he wanted out, they laughed at him. “Shut up and take the money, Hector, your family lives as long as you do as you are told.”

The call an hour earlier had been cryptic, just to have his Werewolf kit and trauma case, and to be outside his house in ten minutes. Men had come in a cargo van, loading him in the back; he was blindfolded until he was in the garage of a house. “Here’s the deal, Hector. We have a werewolf down there. She was injected eight hours ago with 2.5 mg of midazolam and again with 2.5 mg four hours ago. The first shot also included 5 mg of wolfsbane to keep her wolf inactive. Your job is to check her over and make sure that she remains stable and sedated for the next six hours. When that time is up, she needs to be conscious but minimally functional until we’re done. Keep her wolf down the whole time, understand?”

“Yes, I do. Did she have any adverse reaction to the injections?”

“Not yet. Keep it that way. Oh, and she’s several months pregnant with twins.” Hector’s anger was building, he couldn’t believe they had given that sedative to a pregnant woman with no medical supervision. Screw it up and she could lose her babies, even her life. He gripped his bag tighter. “She is an important hostage to us, if she dies so do you. Understand, Hector?” He nodded. The door was opened for him. “Come on, let’s get this over with.”

The guard brought him down the stairs and unlocked the door to the cell. “I need to take a dump, I’ll be back to check on you in a few minutes. Don’t worry, those chains are silver, she won’t be able to escape or hurt you, and she has enough wolfsbane in her to keep a shift away.” The man left him alone in the cell with a woman. Looking over, he recognized her as Renee Johnson-Hastings.

FUCK. How could they do this to her after all she had been through? And why was the Cartel holding a Werewolf Alpha hostage? He didn’t have time to figure out all the reasons, but he knew he had to help her. He couldn’t live with himself if he was a part of her death.

Moving over to the bed, he moved her hair out of her face and lifted her eyelids to check her pupils. She should be starting to wake up soon, he thought, as he checked their response. Turning to his bag, he prepared an injection and administered it into her arm. The stimulant would counter the effect of the sedative while the second chemical would block the Wolfsbane. It didn’t take long for her eyes to open, but before she could do anything he had to warn her.

“Renee, I am Dr. Martinez. I am going to help you. They are watching us, so it is very important that you not respond to anything I say or do. Don’t open your eyes, don’t move, don’t change your breathing or they will figure out that I’m not on their side. If you understand, move your thumb slightly.” He waited until he saw it happen, then continued to whisper, low enough so any microphones wouldn’t pick it up but loud enough for her sensitive werewolf hearing. “I was told to keep you sedated for another six hours. You need to pretend you are still unconscious during that time, but the drug I just gave you will allow your wolf to come forward again soon. Whatever you do, don’t shift or give any indications your wolf is present."

He saw the thumb move. "Right now you are locked in a cell, you will have to choose your time carefully. I will be back in five hours to check on you again. Good luck, Mrs. Hastings, you’re going to need it.” During their conversation he had completed taking her vitals and checked the heartbeats of her twins. He stood up when the guard came back and unlocked the cell. “She’s doing well, the babies are fine and she should remain unconscious for another five to six hours.”

“OK, come back upstairs with me and we wait.”


Gila Pack SUV

I-10 near Crestland, TX

Andy relaxed as the city of El Paso faded in the rear view mirror. The El Paso pack escort had left them twenty minutes earlier, now they just had to make it home without any Border Patrol searches or other stops. He set the cruise control at 61 and tried to settle further into the seat for the long trip.

CAN ANYONE HEAR ME THIS IS RENEE HASTINGS.” The voice thundered through the Pack link, Andy hit the brakes and pulled over to the side of the road as Linda responded.

Renee this is Linda can you hear me?” Nothing. “Renee this is Linda Remington can you hear me?”

Andy tried next, but was not successful.

CAN ANYONE HEAR ME THIS IS RENEE HASTINGS.” They tried again, she was too far away to link with. It was only her Alpha power that allowed her to broadcast farther than a normal Pack wolf.

Linda looked across at Andy. “Pull over and park, I need to make a phone call.” She frantically dialed a number on her cellphone while she looked through the glove compartment for a map. “Alpha Merino? This is Linda. Say, you remember that thing we lost? I just got an idea of where it might be, but our car is having trouble. Do you think you could send a couple of strong young men out to meet me? I might need help loading it up.”

There was silence on the line while he thought about it, but she heard him agree. Soon it was time to say goodbye after making arrangements to meet at the parking lot of the student center of University of Texas-El Paso. She was confident her message got across, however coded it was so it wouldn’t be obvious to monitoring.

Two carloads of Betas and Warriors were going to meet her soon.

Andy had turned around and they were heading back by the time she was off the phone. “So what’s your plan?”

Linda turned around and looked at Anna, Caleb and Maria. “You three are going to drop us off and travel back to the Pack without us. We’ll hook up with the El Paso pack Betas and search for Renee.”

Maria looked back at her. “How will you find her?”

Linda pointed at the map. “We know an Alpha can broadcast about twenty miles while a Pack wolf can communicate about ten. We’re going to drive around until we can link to her, then draw a ten mile circle around that spot. We go until we can’t link any more, then draw another circle. You get enough data points and you can narrow down where she is.”

Maria looked doubtful. “That still could be a huge area in a city like this.”

“Then we’ll drive through the area hoping to catch her scent, or that she can give us some details on where she is so we can get to her. That’s why I need the help of the El Paso pack, we need some muscle and we need cars. Andy, you’ll drive in a vehicle with one group and I’ll go to the other. When you make or lose contact, give me a call or link to me and tell me the location, I’ll keep up the map.”

She made contact just before they reached UTEP. “Renee, this is Linda, can you hear me?”

LINDA! I HEAR YOU! Where are you?”

“We are just west of El Paso near the university. Where are you and are you all right?”

“I’m OK, I’m chained up and locked in a cage but physically OK. I’m in a basement of a house, no idea where, I was out when they brought me here. Why are you here?”

“We came to El Paso to help Anna get to know Enrique, but that went south pretty quick. Cartel gunmen broke in and shot him, she had to bite him to save his life. He’s still out, we are taking him back home and getting him a new identity. Now, what else can you tell us about your surroundings?”

“Not much. I can’t hear much traffic or noise from outside. They have at least three men here plus a doctor. The doctor is helping me, I don’t know why, but he gave me something to counteract their drugs so I could use my wolf again. He told me to play possum until the time is right.”

Linda smiled, if the doctor was helping she would not be knocked out again. “OK, our plan is to use the mind link range to narrow down where you are. Andy and I will be joining with El Paso pack wolves to search for you. We will go in and out of range for a while, don’t broadcast to us unless you need to, just answer when one of us calls, all right?”

I’ll do what I can. Doc said that in five hours or so there is something going on I need to be conscious for. Hurry up, I don’t want to know what that is.


Gila Pack House, Alpha Office

New Mexico

“Alpha, we have two men at the east entrance who want to see you. Both are unarmed and say they represent the Gulf and Pacific cartels respectively.”

Alpha Robert Hastings looked up from his desk in surprise, the fatigue evident on his face from his lack of sleep and the emotions of the past day. “Search them thoroughly, blindfold them and bring them to the house.” He sent for his Betas to join him, this could prove interesting.

Twenty minutes later, they were in the conference room when two men in expensive suits arrived. “I’m Alpha Hastings, what is your business with me?” His voice dripped with disdain, he didn’t differentiate between Cartels when all were involved with drugs, human trafficking and kidnapping.

“Alpha, thank you for seeing us. I am Robert Johnson, I am a lawyer for the leader of the Gulf Cartel. My colleague is Victor Alvarez, he is a negotiator for the Pacific cartel. We have come here under the authority of our bosses to keep your battle with the Socorro cartel from becoming an all out war.”

“Why would you be concerned with that?”

Victor looked around the room. “Look, we understand how this started and why you are going after them so hard. We respect that. It does have the potential to affect our business, though. The killing of a senior DEA agent, explosions in the streets of a major city, kidnapping of celebrities... all of it could result in problems for us. We also don’t want to see Packs in our territories pulled into a war against us, we have nothing against them. We would rather work with you to eliminate your problem and reach an understanding that allows us to live without conflict.”

Robert sat back in his chair. He didn’t like who these men represented, but he was also realistic. He couldn’t let his Pack go to war in the civilian world either. “So what are you offering?”

“Our assistance in taking out the Socorro cartel and its leadership without the involvement of werewolves. It is much easier for the public to accept a war between cartels than between cartels and civilians, or cartels and Packs.”

“We can provide you intelligence and some support in that effort. As you probably know, we are totally defensive right now and my mate is being held by the Cartel. Any assistance you could provide in returning her would go a long way with us and our allies.”

“We understand that and we are already working our sources for leads,” Robert said. “Juan wants something, do you know what it is?”

“Well, he wanted his fuck toy back but she’s Pack and he can’t have her. Oh, and he probably wants all his money back.”

Victor laughed. “We figured that was you. That must have really pissed him off, and it weakens him significantly.” He pulled two cards out of his jacket. “This is contact information for our intelligence centers, there are multiple means of contacting them. If you have anything that can help, you can pass it along to those numbers and we will get it to the right people.”

Robert sighed loudly. “Yeah, we don’t trust electronic communication that much these days. We had a contact within the NSA who was giving us intel, but they must have tracked him down because he was shot and killed last night.”

He turned to one of his Betas. “Make two copies of the intel he provided us and give these men a copy. You should know that he had access to pretty much anything, and now Juan’s contacts must have the same. He also told us that the deputy at the Albuquerque DEA was a Cartel plant, since the car bombing that means the whole office is tainted.”

“What do you want from us?”

“I want you to take these bastards out. I don’t care about low level guys, and I don’t want their families hurt, but the leadership needs to go and I don’t want anyone taking their place. The cartel just needs to end. After that, I don’t want an alliance, just an understanding. We can never be friends, too much of what you do offends what we are. We can stay out of each other’s way. I want Pack borders recognized by the Cartels so you stay off our lands, and we will leave you alone as long as you leave our Packs alone. If you come on our lands, we will impose our justice on you, and Pack law is death to those who rape, kidnap, or harm children; no trial, just death.”

Victor and Robert conversed quietly, the wolves could hear them but pretended not to. Finally, Victor spoke. “Our organizations would accept such an understanding. We would ask that you not actively aid the authorities against us if we are not on your lands, of course.” He and Robert stood and offered their hands.

“So it shall be done. I will inform the Alphas of the arrangement. It would be best if a representative of your organization visited each Alpha in your territory to exchange contact information and affirm this in person.” Robert then handed them each a flash drive. “On here is the information we have on the Socorro cartel. Detailed information on the leadership, their homes, habits, and anything else. Known safe houses, meeting places, smuggling routes. I suggest you act on it quickly before he changes things.”

Victor smiled. “We each have teams standing by to do just that. We will take care of Juan and Carlos and all their men soon.”

Robert’s face hardened. “If you capture one of them alive, I would appreciate the chance to end their lives personally when you have what you need from them. I want them dead most of all, so don’t wait for me. Kill those fuckers wherever you find them.”


Cartel Safe House

Outskirts of El Paso

The five hours had passed slowly for Renee, she had focused on two things- helping Andy and Linda figure out what area she was located in, and trying to get clues as to where she was. Both efforts were slow. They had her narrowed down to an area about four miles square, and were now driving through the streets hoping to find her scent. She knew that would be a tough thing. The opening of the door interrupted her thoughts, she remained ‘unconscious’ and focused on not moving or reacting as the men came down the stairs and her cell was unlocked. She could smell the guard from before and Dr. Martinez.

“It will just take me a few minutes. I have to examine her to see how she is reacting to the treatment first, then I have to give her an injection to bring her part way out of her sleep. I’ll also get more wolfsbane into her.” He took her pulse, listened to her breathing and checked her belly before giving her a shot. “She is doing fine. She should wake up in the next ten minutes or so, but it will take a couple hours before the sedative is completely gone from her system.” Renee knew the timing of what she had to do, she started singing a song in her mind that she knew was three minutes long. Do it five times, then she would start to wake up.

She could hear equipment being set up in the room during the third and fourth run through. Before she got to the last time, the door opened and a number of men came down the stairs. “Are we ready?”

“Yes, Juan, everything is set up for the Skype.”

“Good, wake the bitch up and let’s get this started.” A couple of guards entered the cell and one started slapping her face. She resisted the urge to kill him and slowly came awake. Looking around, she saw Juan and Carlos standing outside. “You know who I am?” She nodded. “You are going to be on video soon with your mate. Your only chance of getting out of this alive is if you both do what you are told. Do you understand me?” Renee nodded. “Good. Start the video conference.”


Gila Pack House, Alpha Office

New Mexico

Robert looked up at his computer, wondering who it was who was trying to Skype him. He didn’t use the service much, and he didn’t recognize the number. The name came up as Juan and Renee. He accepted the call, and was greeted by a man he wanted dead more than anyone. He started to record the conversation.

“Alpha Hastings, I have something of yours.” He moved the camera back so he could see that Juan was sitting on a bed, and Renee was chained on it. She looked at him, she was alive but not really sharp, probably still drugged. “Renee, say hello to your mate.”

“Robert... I’m ok. The babies are OK.”

Juan then covered her mouth with duct tape. “This is going to be a short call, Robert. You have things I want. I want Maria. I want my money. And I want revenge for the men you killed. If you deliver those things to me- every dollar, Maria, and yourself to my justice- then Renee will be released. Your Pack will be without you, but they will have Renee back and she will bring forth the next generation. If not... well, you know how I liked to use Maria. Renee is a bit old for me, but I’ll make due. I’ll be sure to send you videos of all the fun I have with her.”

“You bastard, I’ll fucking skin you alive!”

“No, Robert, you won’t. In the end, you’ll sacrifice everything to save your mate. It's what your wolf will do. Get everything ready, in two hours I will call you back and give you a location to bring it to. I shouldn’t have to say this, but if you bring in the cops, if you send your wolves out after me, if you try anything stupid... she will suffer for it. My men haven’t had a good gang rape in a while. I don’t think your babies will survive, though, they can be a bit rough with a new toy. Accept your fate, Robert, and she lives.” The conversation was stopped.

He called his Betas in while he started to watch it again, looking for clues. They watched it a half dozen time before it was noticed. “Boss, what is she doing with her right foot?” As they watched, they could see she would twitch it to the outside in seemingly random patterns, but the rest of her body was still.

It was Will, the Johnson pack Beta, who figured it out. “It’s a tap code. They used to use it in Vietnam, we learned it because it could be used when a mind link couldn’t. Back the tape up and get me a pen and paper.” As he took them, he explained. “The tap code is a grid, made up of one to five taps. The first gives you the row- the way to remember is ‘American Football League Quits Victorious.’ The second set of taps is the column. Let’s see what she is saying.” They watched the video, pausing after each set. “Don’t do it rescue coming. Love you.”


Gila Pack Vehicle

I-10, Gas station

Caleb was filling the tank and Maria was in using the restroom while Anna was checking on Enrique. His vitals were still good, she changed his dressing and it was looking better. It was time for his injection. She found the syringe in her bag, removed the cap and held it up to push the air out.

She screamed when something grabbed her arm. Her reflex was to clench her fist, which caused the contents of the syringe to spray out into the car. She looked down, his arm was on hers, his face clenched in pain. He was starting to change.

“What happened?” Caleb had run around to the passenger door and was looking back at her.

“He’s starting to change, he’s waking up.”

“Shit, well, give him the shot and that should knock him out for a few more hours.”

“I can’t. He scared me and the shot is gone now. He’s going to wake up, he’s going to change. We need to get him out of here now, and away from all these people before he goes into a rage.” She mind liked with Maria, who came running back to the car. “Maria, get back here with me, help me keep control of him. Caleb... drive. Drive to the middle of nowhere and get there fast.”

Caleb put it in gear and tore out of the gas station, heading north away from town. “Anna... it’s up to you. You have to keep him calm, get him to recognize you as his mate. If he goes into a rage and we can’t get him to come back to us, we’ll have to put him down.”

Anna laid down next to her sleeping mate. “He’ll come back to me. He has to.”

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