Dead or Alive
Alpha Yuri’s POV
The embarrassment was intolerable.
I could see the hidden smirks, the looks on their faces as I walked from the clinic back to the Pack House after ensuring my Beta was healing well. Watching a man who for decades had been untouchable in training by anyone but me, get his ass handed to him by a kid in thirty-four seconds was a shock. Really, almost thirty of that was just posturing before he unleashed that flurry of blows that left Shura with multiple rib fractures and a concussion, plus a ruptured testicle. He would recover in a day or two, but our standing among the Packs had taken a bigger beating than Shura had.
I used intimidation and threats to hold my position, since I couldn’t claim the cooperation and blood ties other Packs used to secure my borders. I needed to do something memorable, and quickly, before people took this to mean our Pack had grown weak and vulnerable.
“Alpha Yuri, a moment please.” I turned to see Council Member Javier and his mate Abrianna walking towards me. I bowed my head, hating to have to submit to this pompous prick who was taking over the Pack that belonged to me. “I trust the shock of the Council decision has worn off now, and you are ready to talk reasonably about the welfare of the Moscow wolves?”
I pushed down my wolf who wanted to rip his throat out. “You know I disagree with the decision of the Council on this.”
“Yes, you made your feelings abundantly clear,” he replied. “The Council has to think of the well-being of our species and the members. It would not be fair to the Pack to have multiple challenges to the leadership.”
“I WAS thinking of the Pack, sir.” I gathered my wits before continuing. “I know exactly what is going on in Moscow, I’ve taken in enough of their wolves to know everything going on. They are scared and leaderless. They need stability above all, and I was the only one who could give them that and you rejected me. I am the only one who could spare the number of senior Pack members needed to get them functioning again. Yes, they would share an Alpha, but my Betas are enough to be able to combine the Packs and function as one.”
“And the potential of a blood heir challenge?”
I scoffed. “What do you know of this Natalya? What Pack is she from? Her training? Her mate and HIS background? It doesn’t matter what the human courts say, if she’s going to contend for the Luna position, she has to be tested along with her mate and found to be worthy.”
“And she will have to come before the Council and prove herself, just as Patrick had to prove himself today.”
“If she even comes forward,” I said. “All you are doing with your decision is delaying the inevitable. In six months, we will all come back together and agree that me taking the Pack is the best decision. In the meantime, don’t screw it up.”
Javier laughed. “I’m sure I can handle being Alpha again. I just wanted to make a few things clear to you. First of all, I know people have joined your and other’s Packs during this time of uncertainty. Now that the Council has set a path forward, all those who transferred are going to be offered the chance to return home if they wish. You and the other Alphas are not to interfere with this movement if they choose to come back. The Council will discipline any Alpha who intimidates or threatens a wolf for the desire to change Packs.”
I could live with this, most of the men and families who had joined me were men in Mafia crews. With Yevgheny gone, they were better off with me. “I understand.”
“Good. Also, I have asked for help with staffing the temporary leadership from other Packs. I will be bringing in Betas and Gammas I can trust to help run things, using it as a way to build relationships and train younger Pack members who have not yet stepped into their roles. I am not asking you for help, however. I don’t trust your motives, and I don’t want the stench of the Russian Mob on a Pack I am running.”
“What we do to earn and live is not Council business.”
“Perhaps not, but I am now Alpha of that Pack and I won’t allow it.”
I stewed a little more, but I couldn’t attack him or the Council right now. “Anything else, sir?”
“Yes. Next Beta Patrick; I could tell you are pissed at his takedown of your Beta, but it was a fair spar and the Council will not tolerate retaliation against him,” he paused and stared into my eyes, “Or his mate.”
“The Council has no authority to order such a thing,” I said.
“We do, because I intend to ask him to be my Beta, and to use these six months to train him for the Alpha position. Let me be clear, Yuri- I don’t like you or the way you run things. I will never vote to allow you to take over the Moscow Pack. Whether it is Natalya and her mate, Patrick and Mischa, or another mated pair that throws their names into the mix, ANY of them would be a better choice than you. But please, pretty please with sugar on top, do something stupid. Give me a reason to bring the power of the Council and the Packs down on your head so the Russian Packs have worthy leadership again, and I will.” He took his mate’s hand and walked off towards the dining room for the farewell feast while I stood there fuming.
I pulled out my phone and called home. My men had failed me; not fast enough to intercept Natalya before the jet left the airport, they had picked her up in London and then screwed that up. Somehow a simple execution on the motorway turned into a rollover crash that killed three of my men. Now we couldn’t find her. “Good evening Alpha,” Beta Rotmir said as he picked up.
“Where’s Natalya,” I growled.
“We do not know, sir. We have our English friends watching the airports and the Chunnel, nothing yet. I’ve sent additional people there to take up the search.”
“Put out the word, a two-million-ruble reward for her head,” I said. “I don’t care who does it. Let all the Mafia families know, any allied Packs, any scumbags, bounty hunters or criminals. This bitch has to die and fast,” I said.
“It will be done, Alpha.”
“Find some humans we can trust in other families. I need surveillance on this Beta Patrick; I just found out he’s going to be working with Council Member Javier as Alpha trainee of the Moscow Pack.” I hear him growl, but I continued. “I also want surveillance on Patrick’s pack in the States… the St. Croix Pack. Use humans and lone wolves on that one. I want eyes on any Pack that might offer her protection, including this one.” Alpha Viktor had made himself an enemy. He would find a way to punish him for harboring Natalya and helping her escape.
“It will be done, sir. If I may…”
“This Beta Patrick, he was with Natalya and clearly knows her and protects her.”
“She is not his mate. They have not completed the bond. Don’t you think he would do ANYTHING to protect his mate, even defying Alpha command or his desire to protect her?”
He was right. If anyone would know where Natalya was now, it would be Patrick or Alpha Viktor. And what did they have in common? “Good thinking, Beta. I want surveillance on Mischa, use humans and electronic surveillance for this. Track her car, her phone, learn her habits. She’s still going to school in town so we just need to watch her and pick the right time.”
“And make sure nothing leads back to us,” the Beta said.
“You’re reading my mind. Make it happen, I have to go play nice in the sandbox with the other Alphas.” I hung up the phone as my Beta female, Polina, came alongside me.
“Asleep now.” She pulled out her phone and showed me a picture of a man, the other man we saw removing Natalya from the scene of the car bombing. “He came back to the Pack today. His name is Sergey, he’s a Pack Warrior from the Kstovo Pack.”
Proof of Viktor’s complicity, as if I needed any. “He was just doing what he was told, it’s Viktor who is responsible. He’s the one to pay for this,” I said.
“He deserves something,” she said.
“He will watch his Pack be destroyed around him,” I said with a smile. “Losing his daughter will crush him. After we take over Moscow, he’s next on my list. I want him to suffer before I put the pup out of his misery.” She followed me as I walked into the Kstovo dining room like I owned the place. It wouldn’t be long until I did.
Mischa’s parents and Konstantin were busy socializing with the guests as we came to the end of the farewell feast, so I led her over to sit with my parents and Alphas at their table. “You make a lovely couple,” Luna Larissa said as I sat down on the only extra chair, pulling my mate onto my lap.
“Thank you, Luna,” Mischa said. “I’m going to miss him terribly until he returns to claim me fully.”
“It can’t be helped,” Alpha Stan said. “He needs to train for the opportunity to be an Alpha now.”
“I’m so proud of you, son,” my father said as he got part way out of his seat and hugged the two of us. “You did us all proud today at the trials. We showed these European Alphas a thing or two about how an American pack trains!”
“He was amazing,” Mischa said as she laid her head on my shoulder. “Of course, he’s shocked us with his power and skill since he arrived. Luna has granted me a strong mate.”
“She certainly has,” Council Member Javier said as he put his hand on my shoulder, having walked up while I was focused on my mate. “May I join you for a moment?”
“Certainly, sir,” I said. My father got up and brought over an extra chair for him. “When do I find out the results of my assessment?”
“Well, the full results will take a few weeks to document, along with recommended training and mentoring to shore up areas you were found to be weak in,” he said. “However, you should know that all of us were pleasantly surprised at your strength and intellect. We all agreed that you have the potential to be a strong Alpha pair in the future, which is why I’m here now. With your permission, we would like to share the evaluation with the North American Council, in case an Alpha position becomes available there.” He looked at my parents and Alphas; my parents were proud and smiling, the Alphas as well, but all of them had a look of loss as well. I think they all knew now that I would not be taking over for my father. “I know that you have plans for Patrick to return home and continue his training. The Council members and I do not believe that is the best way to prepare him for his future.”
“What would you recommend,” I asked.
“As you know, I am taking over the Moscow Pack for the next six months. After today, Patrick and Mischa are strong candidates to take over as permanent Alphas. He needs practical experience in running a Pack, and I have a need for a strong Beta on a temporary basis. I am asking you to accept a temporary appointment to the position as Moscow Beta.”
My mind was spinning. “You’d only be a few hours away,” Mischa said as she squirmed excitedly on my lap.
“I don’t know the people, the language,” I started to say.
“We would start intensive language training along with the mentoring,” Javier said.
“Wait.” I looked panicked at Mischa. “You become of age in four months, this assignment would be for six. I don’t want to be away from you after we mate.” I put my hand under her chin. “You’re the most important thing in my life.”
“I still have to finish high school,” she said. “We can still see each other on weekends, I can take the train into Moscow or you can come here. We will be fine,” she said. “Wait, my father.”
Javier smiled. “Your father has agreed that this is the best course of action, and he wants you to work with Luna Abrianna on the weekends. Konstantin will accompany you to Moscow and work with me as well, since he is the Alpha heir of your own Pack, until you are fully mated.” He looked directly into my mate’s eyes. “Let me be frank here. I don’t like Alpha Yuri, and I want the Moscow Pack to have stable and honorable Alphas. I believe the two of you could give me that and bring peace to the Packs in this region. I’m doing this so you two can show the Council that you are capable of the job six months from now. It would be a smooth transition of power, and the Pack would already know you.”
“What do you think, Papa?”
“It’s an amazing opportunity, being mentored by an experienced Alpha like Javier is only going to help you,” he said to me.
“May I have a moment to talk with my mate and my parents?”
“Certainly. I’m going to get a drink, I’ll stop back in twenty minutes or so.” He got up and walked over to the bar, greeting a number of people along the way.
“What do you think,” I asked them all. We talked about the advantages and disadvantages, it was a great opportunity, but I would be leaving my family and Pack and joining one where I knew almost nobody. The new job had a big benefit, though; I could see Mischa every weekend instead of just after four months. I looked over at Mischa. “Do you want this? To be a Luna at eighteen? What about your dream of being a doctor?”
She held my hand. “Being a Luna is in my bloodline, it’s what I’m made for, I just didn’t see it happening anytime soon,” she said. “We don’t know if it will end up that way. Natalya and her mate might end up with the Pack, or some other couple. What I do know is that it is a great opportunity for you to show everyone the kind of man you are and the Alpha you could be.” She smiled and buried her face in my chest. “Having you closer just makes me want it to happen more.”
“I have responsibilities at home, a business,” I said.
“I’m sure he will understand if you need some time to put your affairs in order,” my father said.
In the end, Mischa and I put our heads together and gave our answer. “I need a month to put my affairs in order in the States, then I would be honored to join you in Moscow,” I told Councilman Javier.
“You won’t regret it,” he said as he shook my hand.