Order of Protection

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Enemy at the Gates

Jessie’s POV

I was so relieved when he cracked, as I was about to kill a man who was helpless. Watching a man slowly suffocate in a coffin of my construction was not my idea of a good afternoon.

Still, I did what I had to, and John was right- he wasn’t willing to die for Yuri. Now we knew the direction he was coming from and when. The question on the table right now was what to do about it.

I was sitting on John’s lap in the Alpha’s office, with his Beta, Alpha Stan, Beta Peter and the Betas of the Packs who had come to help. All of us were looking at the map of the territory. “His weakness is the use of mercenaries,” John said. “Shura doesn’t have many men left, not now. He’s leading rogues and opportunistic Packs that are hungry for money and territory. If we can sow doubt in their minds, they’ll go home.” He used a laser pointer to highlight the western border. “Put signs up saying things like, ‘We know you are coming’ or ‘Dying ain’t much of a living.’”

“Really? Outlaw Josey Wales quotes?” Sven laughed at it.

“It's a classic line, and it's effective. Break their morale and limit casualties.”

Sven stood up, going over to the map. “I don’t want to limit casualties.” I looked up at him, a little shocked. “Shura is doing us a favor. He’s attracted every lowlife, every dangerous rogue and desperate Alpha in one place. We fight them now and the problem is gone; we let them scatter, and they remain a threat for when we AREN’T ready for them.” He tapped the map. “How long will it be before rumors start about the wealth of our Pack, or of your mate, John? How many times will she be almost killed before they finally finish the job?”

I put my hand over my mouth, my gut was twisting and churning. “I’ll protect her,” John said.

“Really? How did that work the last time.” John growled, pulling me closer. “You have to be right every time, they only have to do the job right once. Sniper, poison, auto accident, explosion- so many ways you could lose her, just like I almost lost my Linnea. I’m not taking a chance on losing her again. This ends today.”

I ran for the bathroom attached to his office, not even closing the door before I was throwing up in the toilet. John was behind me, holding my hair out of my face as I heaved my guts into the bowl. When it was finally over, he handed me a glass of water. I rinsed my mouth a few times, spitting into the bowl as I flushed. "There's new toothbrushes in the medicine cabinet," Sven said as I stood up. I grabbed one out of the package and quickly brushed my teeth.

"You all right, honey?"

"Yeah, I think so. It's just nerves." He led me back to the chair and we sat down again.

“I have to agree with Alpha Sven,” Stan said. “Yuri’s a monster, like an octopus with tentacles. The cops have lopped off a few, the European Council will take some more, but there’s a dangerous tentacle right here and we need to chop it off before it goes elsewhere.”

“We need to capture Shura for the American Council, along with as many of his men as possible,” Peter said. “We need to keep the pressure on Yuri and deliver him to trial. Killing them is easy, capturing their leader is not. He won’t be at the front, he’ll be leading from the rear I bet.”

Stan stood up. “Sven, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to back you up in the South. My men can monitor Shura and his men with drones, then swoop in on them after they leave. I’d like Peter to be in charge of cleanup on the west side. You’ve got to be here, in the command center with your Pack directing the defense of your territory.”

“I have to be down south for the meeting.”

“No you don’t. Shura is just going to kill you if you are there. He doesn’t have Linnea, and you don’t have Jessie or his money. How long do you think it is going to be until he figures out that detail and just attacks?” He was right, I thought. “You’ll have John and Jessie here to link with Peter and I. He won’t attack until you refuse to pay.”

Sven looked over at the allied Beta. “Nobody escapes, Peter.”

Peter just nodded. “Of course. No second chances for those who would kill our men and rape our women. These rogues are savages.” They spent a few more minutes going over the plans, then Stan and Peter left to meet their men. They would each take charge of one of their groups of warriors, and were going to stage on the southwest and northwest corners of the territory. When they got word the attack was in progress, they would sweep down and cut off the retreat.

While they were gone, the explosives experts from one of the allied Packs was setting up shop along the paths from the western border. The boys had Claymores, more gas bombs, and mines. One of the men was in the control room to coordinate with Sven’s pack, while the others were stationed in defensive positions with the remote detonators. It was going to be loud.

Just after three, Alpha Sven got a call. “Do you have my money and Jessie?”

“I do. Where can we meet.”

“At the south end of your territory, where County Road 796 crosses the Embarrass River. Bring no more than one vehicle, just you and one other, and have Jessi’s body in a crate or something, ready to travel.”

“What about Linnea?”

“She will be brought it once you’ve delivered,” he said.

I growled lowly. “How do I know I can trust you,” I said.

“You can’t, but you don’t have a choice here, Sven. Do what I tell you and you can have your mate back. Don’t be stupid.”

“Six o’clock at 796 and the Embarrass River, one vehicle, one other person, be ready to transfer Jessie and the money. Anything else?”

“It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Any cops, patrols, or other werewolves around and I’ll kill her while you watch.” He hung up.

“Did you trace it?”

My tech guy nodded. “Burner phone. Cell tower was thirty miles east of Grand Rapids. They are on the way.”

I looked at my watch. “Time to get everyone in position then.”

Beta Shura’s POV

Our convoy was moving rapidly east towards Sven’s territory, avoiding the other Packs along the way. I was getting pissed off; my man holding Linnea hadn’t responded to my calls or texts, and we were running out of time. I was certain Sven would insist on talking or seeing her before he would pay, and they better be at the rendezvous point we’d set up in Embarrass by five thirty.

My plan was pretty simple; we would distract them with the transfer on the south side of the territory, with me bringing three dozen warriors in a show of force. We’d be obvious, and Sven would have to bring his warriors forward to back him up. As soon as the transfer was done, we’d let Sven start to head back with his mate and then we would attack from the north and south sides at once.

Most of my men turned north as we approached, while six vehicles led by me continued to Embarrass. We stopped at the McDonalds there, waiting in the parking lot for my men. He still wasn’t answering the phone, and by 5:45 I didn’t have time to wait. “Do you think Sven found her?”

“I don’t know. This is going to go bad very quickly.” I got on the phone and talked to my Theta, who was leading the invasion force from the north. “We don’t have the Luna, and Sven may know that,”

“What do you want us to do?”

“Set up on the border at six, and go on my signal.”

“It shall be done, Beta Shura.” I changed my plan, and soon we were arrayed in a line facing the Embarrass River from the south. I made sure my men’s vehicles were pointed towards the Vermillion Pack territory, and everyone had weapons at the ready.

“A vehicle is coming,” my scout linked. I got out of the SUV, standing in front of my warriors as they took stations next to their vehicles. A Jeep was driving down the road, it was an open-top model and I could see a big cooler in the back. It stopped just short of the bridge, and I watched as Sven got out with a younger man, obviously a bodyguard. They walked around to the back of the Jeep as I walked up, lifting the cooler and carrying it forward. They set it in the center of the bridge and walked off. “Is that Miss Donato?”

“It is,” Sven said. “Now show me Linnea.” Good, he didn’t have him.

“Not until I verify.” I walked up to the cooler, guards on each side. I had my cellphone open in my hand, ready to send the text message to my Theta to start the attack. Sven had backed up to the front of his Jeep and was typing something on an iPad. “Open it,” I told my man when we were near it.

Yes sir,” he said, and he unlatched it at both ends and opened the lid. As soon as it opened, there was a flash, and white gas came shooting out under pressure. I turned to run, but this stuff was a white cloud that surrounded and choked me. “Wolfsbane gas,” I warned as I tried to escape. I pressed SEND on my phone, dropping it as my strength left me. The world started to spin, and the last thing I remembered was looking at the blue sky as the white gas blew over.

Alpha Sven’s POV

We watched the transfer in the bunker under the Pack House, where the security command was set up. The two men who were in the Jeep were volunteers, both unmated, and close friends of the men Shura had killed. They wanted to avenge their brothers, and I let them, with a little help from Jessie.

Bill was spelled to look like me, and they were off. “How long can you hold the illusion,” I asked Jessie.

“A few hours, as long as I don’t get too distracted,” she said. We went back to watching the screen, as the Jeep stopped. Shura’s men, it looked like at least twenty in six vehicles, were spread out along the south end. “John, does Stan have the drone up?”

John linked for a minute, then nodded. “Drone is live, and they are ready a few miles south.”

My men were a mile back from the line so they wouldn’t be scented. “I hope they go for this,” I said nervously.

“We’ll find out in a minute,” Jessie replied. My men placed the cooler on the bridge, then backed up to the Jeep. They had portable air packs and weapons right next to the doors, in bags that would hide them from view. We’d gone with the Jeep so there wouldn’t be doors in the way. I watched as Shura walked up with his men.

“Jessie, if they set it off, drop the illusion,” I said. “He needs to be in his own form to fight.”

“I’m ready,” she replied. We watched the lid open, the gas went off, and my men grabbed their masks and rifles as Shura and his men scrambled to escape the cloud. We had included a smoke bomb with the Wolfsbane gas, so the cloud prevented his men from seeing our men coming fast. My two guys were sitting in the Jeep, masks on, and firing through rifles with infrared-sensing scopes that could see through the fog. It was a turkey shoot, men were dropping left and right and Stan’s men were still a few minutes out.

“BREACH ON THE NORTH BORDER, DOZENS OF THEM,” one of my men shouted. I looked at the screen and my gut fell.

They were supposed to attack from the west.

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