Alpha Michael’s POV
I hung up the phone and leaned back in my chair, trying to figure out how the hell I was going to get out of this alive. Yuri laid it out for me; I had to help Shura escape and kill Jessie, or my involvement would be known. The Council wouldn’t have to kill me, there would be a fucking LINE of people waiting to kill me, and some of them would be in my own Pack.
I leaned back and closed my eyes, thinking back to how this all started.
Flashback- Four Days Earlier
“Your actions can either destroy you, or make you,” Beta Shura said over the phone. “We know Alpha Sven reached out to you after his Luna was taken. You should be more careful who you ally yourself with.”
“I have no quarrel with you or Alpha Yuri,” I said.
“No? You involved yourself anyway. I know your Pack is currently sheltering most of Sven’s pack.”
“We have treaties, and it doesn’t involve me in anything else. I’m doing nothing here except shelter.”
“Michael… do you think we are that stupid?”
“Of course not, Beta.” I got up and walked to the window, I needed to move, to hit something, but not yet.
“Let me lay it out for you. Sven pulled a fast one on Yuri, and Yuri WILL kill him for it. With Sven and Linnea gone, the Pack will collapse. Their territory, any remaining wealth, all there for the picking. Yuri doesn’t want their territory or their people, he wants his money back and he wants revenge. You are involved whether you want it or not. Either you stand with him and get destroyed, or you help me now and we leave you with what is left. No one would fight your claim on his lands and Pack; his leadership will be gone, you hold the women and children, his land borders your own. You double your lands and gain the wealth he has hidden, and you don’t have to raise a finger to do it.”
I leaned my head against the window, looking out at the lawn where the children were playing in the light snow on the ground. They would pay the price; Yuri was Russian Mafia, they were ruthless, and they would destroy me. “What do I have to do?”
“Keep up the act that you are a loyal ally. Comfort his people, hide them in your Pack. I need you to pull all your warriors back to your Pack House.”
“I have some warriors who are mixed with the Vermillion Pack defenders, they are already in place.”
There was a pause. “Leave them there, but when the battle starts, they are on their own. If they don't fight, Sven will know you betrayed him. Hopefully they are smart enough not to fight my men when we come swarming in. And about that, I need something else.”
“What else could you need?”
“I need you to tell me what you know about the Vermillion Pack defenses.”
It was fifteen minutes later when I finally hung up, after describing what I knew of the static defenses of Sven’s Pack and the plans he used to position forces in forward, reinforced positions. My wolf was pissed at me, but I had to make a tough choice. No one could withstand the storm that was coming with Shura, and I had a responsibility to my Pack to stay out of the way.
Our Pack was close enough that we didn’t need to impose on Sven for lodging; I was meeting after a very early breakfast with my Betas and Warriors who were traveling with me for the trial. The Council expected it to take several days to deal with everyone, and Shura would be last. The rogues were easy, we would question them, and they would be killed. Mercenaries got no mercy in war. For the Pack members, they would stand trial with their Alphas if they were still alive. The Council would have several Packs to deal with when this was done; an Alpha teaming with rogues and attacking another Pack without warning was a capital offense.
I put an Alpha command on them first, ensuring they could not speak out or warn anyone of what was going on. I laid out what had happened, and what we would be doing today. The men were shaking, their wolves fighting to get free, but my Alpha command was absolute. “What happened has happened,” I told them. “We don’t have a choice in this. We go forward or our Pack is destroyed.”
“They are our friends,” my Beta said.
“They defied the Russian Mafia, they have been dead for weeks and didn’t know it.” With that, I sketched out our plan.
Thirty minutes later, we were parked in the grass, well away from the normal driveway of the Vermillion Pack. We got out, twenty of us total, and my men fell in behind me as we walked towards the large dining hall where the trials would take place. I smiled as I saw a harried Alpha Sven dealing with what I’m sure was his twentieth crisis of the morning. “Alpha Sven,” I said as we shook hands.
“Michael, thank you for coming,” he said with a relieved smile.
“The place is a zoo, how are you holding up?”
“Barely. The Council, fourteen different Alphas, and their entourages all expecting to be treated properly? It’s a mess. I was hoping you could help.”
He looked at the men on security. “I’m running short of warriors, and I have a number of warriors who need to be part of the trials or want to watch. Their friends were killed. and they want to see justice done.”
“Let my men help. We can relieve those on patrol, hell, I’ll take over security for the Northern border completely. We can take over the cells, and if you want, I’ll post myself in your security center and coordinate everything between our Packs. That will give your men a break and let them attend the trial.” He was thinking about it. “Plus, you really don’t want men with a grudge guarding the prisoners. The Council won’t look kindly on it if they are mistreated because they wanted their own revenge before the trial. My men weren’t involved at all, they will do a good job of it.”
I could see the relief on his face. “That would be a great help,” he said.
“Then it’s done. I’ll talk with your Beta, get these men assigned to replace yours, and I’ll have my men guard our border.” I put my hand on his shoulder, my ring positioned carefully, the pinprick on his skin going unnoticed. The poison would work its way into his system over the next few hours, and he would be dead by sundown. “Go get some breakfast and take a moment with your mate before things get really nuts.”
“Thanks, Michael. You’re one of the few I trust, and after this is done, we should get our Packs together.”
“Our Packs will be together shortly,” I said with a smile. He just didn’t know how.
Council Chair Robert Steele’s POV
The morning had been easy, now the fun was starting.
I gaveled the hearing into order after the break for lunch. So far, we had questioned and sentenced five rogues to death for their part in the attack on a Pack. Three were defiant and said nothing, but two confirmed that Beta Shura had recruited them and told of his attack plans. The two that cooperated were given a painless death and their bodies would be burned to release their spirits; the others would be torn apart in the ring by the families of those who lost loved ones, their body parts buried where no one would ever find them.
“The Council Trial for Alpha Lucas Mattson, Beta Darrell Thompson and Warrior Todd Kelly shall come to order. Guards, bring in the prisoners.” I looked at the table we were at, it was raised slightly above the others at the back of the room. To my right were my fellow North American Council members, to my left was European Council Chair Francois Wolfe, Moscow Pack Alpha and Council member Javier Ortiz, and Alphas Sven Hirkkel and Stan Larsen. Only the Council members in North America could vote, but any of them could question the witnesses.
The three men were brought in by two guards each, shackled in silver at the wrists and ankles. The Alpha was defiant, struggling against the bonds until he was kicked in the back of his knees and forced to kneel with the other two before the table. “You have been accused of joining with rogues to attack a sovereign Pack with no declaration of war,” I said, my voice carrying across the room. There were hundreds of chairs set up behind the barrier separating the accused from the witnesses, and they were filled with observers. “How do you plead?”
“Fuck off,” the Alpha said. “I don’t accept your authority to pass judgement on ME, I am ALPHA.”
I looked over at the other members, each of them nodding agreement. “Not any more. Lucas Mattson, your Alpha position is removed, and your life is forfeit.” I nodded to one of our Council Enforcers, who came up behind the Alpha and grabbed the back of his head and his chin in his large hands. One twist and a loud snap later, the Alpha was dead on the floor. “Beta Thompson, Warrior Kelly, any previous Alpha commands placed on you are now removed. How do you plead?”
The two men looked at each other, then the Beta nodded. “Guilty as charged, Chairman, but we request to make a statement prior to sentencing.”
“Proceed.” I nodded to the guards, and they pulled them to their feet.
“We did not want to be part of this, but we did not have a choice, either. Our Pack was in trouble, the Alpha had lost money gambling and our homes were about to be foreclosed on by the bank. Beta Shura promised enough money to forgive the debt if we participated.”
“Did you kill anyone in the attack, Beta?”
He nodded. “I did my job, sir. I only regret what I fought for. Warrior Kelly was with me the whole time, he was carrying a pack and was injured early in the fight. Do what you will with me, but please spare his life. He is young and has a pregnant mate, he should have a chance.”
“Warrior Kelly, do you have anything to add?”
“I’m sorry, sir. I’m not proud of my Pack or what we have done.” There were no more questions, so the Council members gathered quickly in a room just off the dining hall to deliberate. It didn’t take long.
We entered the room and called it to order. “Warrior Kelly, you have pleaded guilty and are sentenced to one-year confinement in the Vermillion Pack cells. Upon completion of your sentence, you may apply for membership to any Pack that will accept you. Your own Pack is being disbanded.” I heard a cry of relief from the back, probably his mate realizing he would not die today.
His face fell, and Alpha Sven stepped in. “Warrior Kelly, I will allow your mate to live with our Pack until your sentence is completed. I will not separate a man from his family, even if he is in prison.”
“Thank you, Alpha, Council Members.”
I turned to Beta Thompson. “Beta, you have plead guilty and have been sentenced to death. Your body will be burned tonight. Any last words?”
“May Luna have mercy on my soul, sir. I am sorry for what I did.” He knelt, hearing the Council Enforcer come up behind him, and his neck was snapped a moment later.
“Alpha Mattson’s body is to be buried in an unmarked location. We will convene in fifteen minutes for the next case.” I went to pound the gavel, but the doors flew open and a warrior burst in.
“Alpha, the prisoners… Beta Shura is gone, and someone knocked out the guards.” The crowd jumped to its feet, warriors and Pack leaders rushing out or moving to protect their Alphas.
How the FUCK did he break out with all these people around?