Failure to Communicate
The phone rang twice before it picked up. “Yes?”
“Abort mission. Return home immediately,” I said.
“Wait, why are you not mind linking? We can’t raise you.”
“I’m fine, we’re just enjoying lunch. I’m going to stay here a day or two, I’ll drive myself home. Pack them up and go home, that’s an order.”
“Yes sir,” he said and he hung up.
I looked up at Sven. “You really screwed up when you blocked my link. They don’t know what to think now.”
“Well, I hope they listen. We’ll know in a few minutes.” He pulled up an iPad and set it on the table; selecting a few programs, cameras came up on a four-wide screen. “Technology is a wonderful thing,” he said as the views toggled through. “Border patrols always were an ineffective means of security; they were good to make sure the border was marked, but easily avoided in an attack. We replaced them all two years ago with a top-of-the-line surveillance system. The cameras as well hidden, with full coverage of the border by at least two cameras. They have normal and infrared capability, motion sensing, and some are remotely controlled. We replaced half our security patrols with one person sitting in the control room.”
“Impressive. How much did the upgrade cost?”
“It’s actually quite reasonable now. Our whole system cost just over a hundred thousand dollars, but it replaces eight men required to cover 24/7 patrols.” We both saw the alarms come in, as motion sensors picked up the movement of the wolves. “Your orders weren’t followed,” Sven said.
The werewolves were moving fast from the south, two wide and in a line six deep. Backpacks held weapons as they ran hard for us. “Shit.” I called the number again, this time no one answered. I didn’t have my mind link, I couldn’t stop anything. I felt so helpless. “Please, Sven, don’t kill them. They’re doing what they were trained to do.”
He was busy linking his warriors. I watched the screen, it showed an area where the trail narrowed as it passed through large boulders. “Watch,” he said.
As they entered the narrow passage, a white gas was released. The werewolves stumbled, falling to the ground in a heap. “What’s going on,” I said.
“Gaseous wolfsbane,” he said. “All likely attack routes where the border is within ten minutes of the compound are protected by them, and they are remotely actuated.” The gas sapped their powers, preventing them from communicating and causing them to shift back from their wolves. It took a few minutes for the gas to disperse before they were able to stand up again and gather their gear. As they tried to regroup, Sven’s men surrounded them. The twelve men were quickly disarmed and sat down along the trail.
“What of the other group,” I asked, then the cameras showed me.
“Entering from the east, I see. Well, we better get going. We don’t have static defenses there, too many hikers and hunters that way this time of year. Come on.” We walked out the front of his house, a big wolf was waiting there. “Climb on, you can’t shift,” he told me. “You have to stop them before this becomes a bloodbath.”
I jumped onto his back, embarrassed at having to be carried into battle, then Sven shifted into his black wolf and we ran off to the east. A dozen defenders around the compound joined us as we tore out of there. Most had rifles or packs strapped to their backs.
It was a fifteen-minute run from where they entered to the compound, and we ran for five minutes before we came to a clearing in between two ponds. Everyone stopped, and I jumped off. Alpha Sven shifted and stood next to me as his men fanned out. I saw the men with rifles taking up positions behind the trees, even up in them, while other men joined us or went to the flanks. The wind was in our faces, so they’d never know until they were on top of us. Wolves running all out had little time to respond anyway.
I could hear the pounding of paws as the dozen or so men approached. “Stand with me,” Sven said. We stood together at the center of the trail, wolves lying down behind us to block the path. As the group entered the clearing, a volley of rifle fire tore up the ground in front of them. The lead wolves stopped, turning to the side only to find they were surrounded. Some shifted, but any who reached for their weapons were quickly convinced by the snipers to let them go again. “STAND DOWN, YOU’RE SURROUNDED,” Sven yelled at them.
“STAND DOWN, I TOLD YOU TO ABORT,” I yelled when they still didn’t surrender. We walked towards the group, they were in a defensive circle and about half were shifted. They looked at me in surprise. “Alpha David, you’re alive,” Fergus said, his red hair matted with sweat.
“I called off the attack, what the hell did you guys come in for?”
He looked at me, confused. “You told us if you called you were under duress, and to ignore whatever you said,” he told me.
“Dammit, son, I said if I called YOU to ignore it, not if I called James or one of the others,” I said, getting pissed off.
“That’s not what you said, sir. Are you all right?” I thought back to my order, I hadn’t been specific enough and it could have resulted in men being killed. It was the kind of error an Alpha couldn’t make.
“I’m fine. I’m safe, and I’ll be staying here a day or two. Jessie and John were here, but they left after a night. Someone else killed them.” Fergus just nodded. “Alpha Sven’s men will be escorting you back to your vehicles. Thank them for not killing you when they could have and drive back to our Pack.”
“Yes sir.” He tried to link someone, then looked at the Alpha. “I can’t reach the other patrol, Alphas.”
“They were ambushed with a wolfsbane gas bomb,” Sven said. “They will be fine in a day or two, right now they are heading back to their vehicles. I’m sorry, but it was a better way to stop the attack than just killing them.” Fergus just nodded and took charge of his men.
I watched as the men packed their weapons and left the clearing, escorted by Sven’s men. “Your defenses are impressive, Sven. I guess they can teach an old dog new tricks.”
Sven laughed. “Sometimes we just need to let the younger members flex their skills. We have a few members who in the old system would be Omegas, low in dominance and fighting ability, but they are amazing with technology. I had to appoint one a Beta because of his importance to the Pack, despite not having a warrior bone in his body. Things in our world are changing so quickly anymore, the old rules don’t work. Do you know what the biggest threat to us being discovered is now?” I shook my head. “Game cameras. Hunters are putting these up all over the forest, motion activated cameras and video. Despite the signs, we find them on our land too. Add in Google Earth, and it’s much more difficult to hide in plain sight these days.”
I got back on his guard as Sven shifted, and we ran back to the compound at an easier pace. Linnea was waiting for us at their home, and she tossed him clothes as I got off. “Well, shall we eat then,” Linnea asked. “The food is getting cold.”
Beta John’s POV
We spent the afternoon going between self-defense drills in wolf form, human form and just plain rolling around making love because we were new mates. By the time dinnertime came, we were both famished.
We went into the cabin, and I had her take a shower while I figured out what we could eat for dinner. The supply of meat we had was gone, so I dug through the cupboards and found some pasta and tomato sauce. I got a large pot of water onto the stove and started heating it, then dug around looking for something else I could put in there. I found a can of mushrooms and a green pepper. “Do you like mushrooms and green pepper in pasta,” I asked.
“Sure,” she said. I started chopping up the pepper, then paused as one of the boats was getting closer than I thought was normal. In the late season, few boats were out anymore. I heard the motor idle then reverse and put the knife down. I moved to the front door and saw a fishing boat pulling up to our dock. Alpha Sven was driving it, his Luna seated next to him, and another man was facing away from me.
“Jessie, we’ve got guests,” I told her as I walked down to the dock. By the time I got down there, they were unloading three huge coolers and five boxes onto the dock. “Alpha, I didn’t expect you so soon,” I said as I walked out to them.
“Sorry to just show up,” Sven said. “This is retired Alpha David of the St. Croix Pack. He’s Stan’s father.”
“It’s good to see you, son,” the grey-haired man said as I gave him a hand up to the dock. “We feared you were lost.”
“We’re just fine,” I said as I helped Linnea step up from the rocking boat. I looked at David. “What brings you up here?”
“Me and some guys from the St. Croix and Highlands packs came up here kill the Alpha and his leadership.” I froze, trying to figure out what he was saying. “We thought they had killed Jessie for the money.”
“We got a hell of a lot more money doing things my way,” Jessie said as she came out onto the dock. “Rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated, Alpha David.” She came down to my side to greet the three Alphas.
“Wow, that’s some power you have in you,” Sven said. “And the smell…”
“You got your wolf!” Linnea pulled her into a hug. “She’s a dominant one, isn’t she?”
“So I’m told,” Jessie said. “She is strong, I can give John a run for his money in a fight now.”
“Definitely an Alpha female,” David said with a smile. “What broke it loose?”
She pulled her hair and sweater aside and showed the mark on her neck. “We think the spell broke when we mated,” she said. “I’ve only had her for a couple days. It’s all so new and exciting!” She started telling the story of her first shift as we carried the food and supplies up to the cabin. She had them in stitches about falling on her face as I went back down with David to get the rest.
“It’s killing me not being able to tell anyone you two are alive,” he told me. “Sven filled me in on what you did and why, and I agree with it. That kind of reward was too much to ignore.”
“I’m kind of enjoying having this time to ourselves,” I said. “Once the snow flies, it won’t be so fun. Why so much food this time?”
“There is a cold front coming soon that will send temperatures near zero for a week or so. Once the lake starts freezing over, it will be weeks before there is enough ice to get a snowmobile on. Until then, we can’t get supplies to you. The meat and cheese in the coolers, If you leave it on the porch, it should stay frozen long enough for the weather to take over. The rest you’ll have to pile up in the house.” I hadn’t been in a Northwoods winter, but Jessie had told me enough stories about the weather farther south to make me wary. The days were getting shorter and the nights were dropping below freezing. It wouldn’t be long before it was dark by dinnertime as far north as we were. It took a few trips for us to carry everything up to the cabin.
We still ended up eating pasta for dinner, but we added meatballs to the sauce along with the mushrooms and peppers. There was no table big enough to eat at, but we made do. I enjoyed the conversation, finding Sven and Linnea to be good friends and fun to talk to. I hadn’t laughed so much in years.
It was dark out by the time they had gotten what they needed from us. We waved goodbye as they pushed off the dock, the boat speeding across the lake under the light of the moon. “Do you think it will work,” I asked my mate as she leaned back into my chest.
“I don’t know,” she said. “If they do the right thing, it will. Meanwhile, we’re going to be trapped here for WEEKS. What could we do in all that time?”
“I have an idea or two,” I said as my hand moved under her sweater to cup her breast. “Last one in bed sleeps in the wet spot.” She squealed and took off for the cabin, me right on her heels.