Life and Death
I was exhausted still, not having fully recovered from my magic use. It was all I could do to give my testimony at the trial and stay awake for Yuri and Shura’s sentencing.
Guilty. Sentenced to death.
John had been given a chance to work a deal with Shura, and as I finished my lunch I hoped he could. Werewolf justice was harsh and immediate; our wolves understood that threats had to be eliminated, and we couldn’t risk someone getting out of jail and repeating their crimes. I was picking at the sprinkles in my bowl of ice cream when John’s voice came over the Pack Bond. “Shura wouldn’t cooperate, I’m bringing him to the punishment pole.”
“All adult members of all Packs are to report to the Shed immediately to witness the execution of Beta Shura,” Stan’s voice told our Pack, a message the other Alphas repeated to their own. The dining hall quickly cleared, and I dumped my remaining dessert in the bin as I followed the crowd out and to the building where I had ‘died’ weeks ago. I found Alpha Stan at the front of a section of bleachers, Pack members with him. He waved me over, and I sat next to him. “Has John told you what happens now?”
“No, he was busy with Shura.”
Stan nodded. “The Council will pronounce the sentence, and in our justice system the ones wronged get to participate in the punishment if they wish. That line over there,” he pointed to the people waiting to sign up on a list, “is for the order. Those who lost a mate get highest priority, then those who lost immediate family, then those injured, finally those who lost a friend.” I shook my head, there were forty people in line already. “If the person cooperates, we can give them a quick, painless death with those people watching. If not, we draw it out so every person on the list has their chance.”
“Are you doing it?”
“I have family members here, I don’t want to take away from them. I do need to ask you if you want a turn. Yuri tried to kill you three times, and Shura was his point man.”
I asked my wolf, she wanted to see him die but knew my human side wasn’t ready. All this was new to me, a few months ago I was a college student working at a bar and supporting my mother. “I… I don’t think I can do this,” I said. “I’m still having trouble dealing with the men I killed in Grand Marais, much less the ones I killed in battle. Magic is a tricky thing; if your heart does not stay pure, your magic shifts to the dark kind and eventually your soul is lost too.” I closed my eyes and took a breath to calm myself. “Miriam explained to me that sometimes even a good person has to fight, to kill, but a white witch does not harm except in self defense or defense of others.”
“I understand,” Stan said. “No one will think less of you for not participating, we all know you are new to this life.”
“Thank you,” I said as I relaxed. He put his arm around me, pulling me into a side hug. It felt good, he was my Alpha since my wolf claimed John, and I felt protected with my mate busy elsewhere.
“You did well out there, Jessie. I’m proud of you, we all are. Without you, it might have been a different outcome, and a lot more of us would be dead.” I looked up at him, tears starting to form in my eyes. “But John is right, you can’t just fly off like that on your own. You have a Pack, a Mate for a reason, we’re a team.”
“I found our people and joined them,” I said. “And it’s not like John can fly.”
He laughed. “Maybe not, but have you thought about giving him that ability?” The thought had never occurred to me; I received all that power from other witches, but powers could be transferred willingly, not just collected after death. I didn’t know how, though. “They’re bringing him in now.”
I smiled as I saw my mate, strong and healthy, as they carried Shura in on a large piece of wood and fixed him in place. John walked to stand in front of the Council members. “He refused to cooperate,” he said.
“Very well,” Robert answered. “Beta Shura, you have been found guilty of attempted murder, recruiting rogues, kidnapping and attacking a sovereign Pack. Your sentence is death.” My stomach started to roll, I wasn’t feeling good at all. “Due to the number of people killed or injured, your death will not be quick or painless. Those left behind and those hurt by your actions have been given the option of participating in your death. Those with the greatest hurt, they will hurt you first. As the Alpha of the attacked Pack, Alpha Sven will end you.”
I couldn’t take any more. I got up and ran out of the room, ignoring the concerned looks from the others. I burst through the door into the sun, barely making it to the woods before threw up my lunch. I was still retching when I felt my hair being pulled back, and my mate’s hand on my back. “It’s all right,” he said. “It takes some getting used to.”
“I don’t want to get used to it.” I spit the rest onto the ground and stood up, taking the bottle of water from his hand. I rinsed out my mouth and spit it into the bushes. I looked up at him, he eyes were full of love and concern for me. “I don’t feel so good.”
“Come on,” he said as he took my hand. “Let’s go take a nap.” That sounded wonderful, and I clung to his side as we walked back to the Pack House. My hearing couldn’t block the muffled screams or the cheers as the punishment was carried out, and I sighed in relief when the door closed, and it was quiet again. We walked in silence back to the guest room we had been given, and he locked the door behind us.
“I need to brush my teeth,” I said, embarrassed at having run out to throw up in front of everyone from the lowest Omega to the Council Chairs.
“I’ll get the shower ready.” I stood at the sink, watching in the mirror as he stripped and got into the large shower. As soon as my teeth were done, I pulled my dress off and removed my underwear, tossing them into a basket for later. The steam billowed out as I opened the door. My breath caught as he turned to me, his body was so strong, so manly, it made me feel all tingly and warm just to see him.
His wolf was forward, his eyes black as he pulled me close and I stepped under the water. His hands captured my head as he pulled me into a kiss; I felt it from my lips to my toes as my arms wrapped around his neck. We stood there, our bodies pressing together, just enjoying the moment we had until he finally broke the kiss. “I want to do so many things right now, but you need to rest,” he said as he reached for the shampoo.
“I can do something,” I said as my hand moved down to encircle him, he was hard and hot against me.
“Let me take care of you first,” he said. I got my hair wet, and he worked the shampoo in after I turned my back to him. My wolf loved the attention, his fingers felt so good as they massaged my scalp, and all too soon he was rinsing it out. He got the soap and a washcloth and did my back down to my legs before turning me around.
The shoulders and arms went quick, but he lingered at the breasts, causing me to laugh. “I’m pretty sure they are clean by now, and they’re sensitive,” I said. He cupped them, leaning down to kiss them and suck lightly on the nipples. That sent a jolt straight to my sex.
“I’ll be the one who decides when they are clean enough,” he said with a smirk. He continued to nibble and suck on them while the washcloth moved to my stomach and lower. He knelt before me, moving to do my legs and feet, when he suddenly stilled. His eyes widened, and his face pressed to my sex as he took a deep sniff. “Baby?”
“No, I’m pretty sure it’s a baby.” He stood up, pulling me into his arms and kissing me deep again. “Your scent has changed, I think you’re pregnant.”
Pregnant? Me? “Are you sure?”
“We can see the Pack Doctor after your nap,” he said. He rinsed me off, then I helped clean him before we exited the shower into the steamy bathroom together. We dried off, then opened the door and walked naked together to the bed. “We haven’t talked about this,” he said hesitantly. “Your wolf is telling me how she feels, but how do you feel?”
“I’m in shock,” I said. “I guess… there’s so much going on now, I wasn’t thinking of family right now.” He had shifted down in the bed, his head on my thigh, his hand on my belly.
“I love you, Jessie. You’ll be a wonderful mother, just like you are an amazing mate. I’m so happy right now I could burst.”
“That’s how you got me pregnant,” I said seriously, then we both busted up laughing. I put my hands over his on my belly. “We’re going to be parents,” I said softly.
He moved back up, pulling the covers with him. “We are.” He kissed me and pulled me into his side. “Now let’s take a nap as a family.” I smiled and rested my head on his shoulder, finding sleep moments later.
Beta Polina’s POV
I had to kill his wolf, I had to break his Alpha bond with me or I wouldn’t be able to do what I did next. The bond shifted to his mate Natasha, but my wolf was more dominant than her and easily broke that bond as well. His son Anatoly was only five, his wolf was not out yet, and I wouldn’t bond to him. I pulled the chain free from around his neck, the keys jingling at the other end.
I was free.
I had to sterilize this place first. The servers contained all the information on his Pack and his illegal operations, everything that I couldn’t allow to be discovered.
I knew my mate would have been involved in all kinds of things, but I always protected myself. I rarely left our Pack offices unless it was to kill someone, and then I only took orders from Shura or over the link from Yuri. Never was I in the room planning something, never involved in the discussions. I was always the one dealing with Pack issues, education, maintaining the properties, all the things a good Beta female would do. It worked well, because Natasha was the perfect Luna, all about the Pack and the children. In the public eyes and of the Pack, I was not part of the Russian Mob.
The reality was that I was Yuri’s best assassin. A smart weapon he would launch, one that never came back to him without the target being destroyed.
The computers were the only place that could tie me to him that way, so they had to go. Yuri was paranoid about security, so one of the items he obtained from Russian military sources on the black market was a radical new weapon. The warhead was designed to knock out electronics, and instead of a normal blast it generated a high-energy pulse of ultra-high-frequency radio waves that could melt electronics nearby. If our escape route to the bunker had been blocked, he might have used it.
It would be the perfect diversion for my escape.
Buried just below the foundation of the office building, it would turn the servers into useless scrap while knocking out all electronics, phones, computers and vehicles in a five-block radius. Beyond that, power would be knocked out for another ten or so blocks. All in all, the place would go dark and quiet and in the confusion a wolf could easily sneak out.
The blast wouldn’t do much damage to the building, and Yuri would survive in the bunker. Eventually, the police would find him, but he would never talk. He would die first.
I went to my room and got my go-bag; along with some food, water and some clothing, it held what I needed to get out of the country safely. I checked my escape documents; fake passports, driver’s licenses, cash, untraceable debit cards, accounts only used for escape. Going to the ones for Yuri, Shura and Natasha, I took the cash and debit cards and transferred them to my own. The stylish backpack was easy to carry in human or wolf form. I wasn’t a stupid woman, I had been paid handsomely for my wet work and I had my own hidden accounts. When this was all over, when I had my revenge, I would retire with a new identity and new appearance, never to be noticed again.
I went into the server room, pulling the dead technician out of his seat. The timer for the EMP bomb was under a glass case, and needed a key that I had taken from Yuri. Turn it one way, and the device detonates immediately; turn it the other, and there is a two-minute timer. I put the key in and set the timer. A computer voice started counting it down as I ran to the emergency escape.
The bunker only had one entrance, but it had a second exit. A foot of vault steel, covered by rock veneer, in the ceiling of a maintenance tunnel for the underground electric grid. I unlocked the padlock, again with a key from Yuri’s key ring, then started moving the levers that held the plug in place. I got to the last one, then waited until I heard the explosion and everything went dark. The last lever was pushed aside, and the hole in the floor opened up as the plug crashed into the tunnel.
I dropped the backpack down, then lowered myself into the tunnel. Only four feet tall, with cables running along it, the tunnel was completely dark and it was totally silent. I headed east, using all my senses to navigate the complete darkness, until I came to the access point three blocks away. Climbing the ladder, I used my strength to pop the manhole cover off and shove it aside. When I poked my head out, it was chaos.
Lights were out, people were milling about in the streets wondering what had happened. The police were busy dealing with accidents and trying to prevent a riot, no one paid any attention to the tiny woman with a hoodie and backpack walking away. It took me hours to reach the safe house, it was far enough outside the city it still had power. I could sense it was empty, no one had been here in weeks, and I let myself in.
I locked the door behind me and went through the kitchen to the garage. Inside was a car, clean title, registered to a shell company that couldn’t be traced to Yuri. I tossed my backpack in the passenger seat, opened the garage door and drove out into the night. Making my way to the main roads, I headed south towards Moscow.Moscow was where my vengeance would begin.