Order of Protection

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Poor Cuddles

John’s POV

“Time to shift into your wolf, John,” Viktor said. I had only been able to shift back to human form while we were in the air. The papers stated I was a service dog being sold by the Clarke’s training school to Esca. We had departed Duluth with Alpha Viktor, Patrick and Mischa, Chair Francois and Alpha Javier, plus Larry was along as my ‘handler’. We only stopped once for fuel in Newfoundland. In ten minutes, we would be landing in Scotland.

“It’s all right, Cuddles, you’ll be back soon,” Patrick said with a grin as he sat with his mate. Our plan was simple; the plane would stop overnight for the crew to rest, and Cuddles would pass through Customs with the others. We would all return to Alpha Esca’s castle for the night, then in the morning I would leave as a human, carrying my British passport, and we would fly to Moscow. I just hated having to go through the airport as a dog. It was humiliating.

I moved to the back of the plane, pulling the curtain across. I removed my clothes, putting them in a bag with Patrick’s dirty stuff, then shifted into my wolf. I pushed the curtain aside, and Patrick was waiting with the stupid collar with the name “Cuddles” on it and the rabies tag. Once that was on, my service animal vest was attached. I sat in front of him while he put it on, then lay at his feet for the landing.

The jet landed and taxied to the small terminal, where we were led to Customs. An agent was waiting for us. After stamping passports and issuing tourist visas, she looked at me with disdain. “You have papers for the dog?”

“Of course,” Patrick said. I sat in the heel position, the leash hanging loose from my neck.

She looked them over, then held her hand out for the leash. “The veterinarian needs to examine him before he can be released, and he won’t be back until Monday.” It was now late Friday night. “He’s going to have to be quarantined until then.”

My head shot up, and I started a low growl before Larry mentally told me to behave. “You better fix this,” I said.

Just chill,” he sent back. With all the changing loyalties, Larry was the only one I could communicate with mentally. Patrick had changed his Alpha to Javier while in Moscow, and I was still tied to Alpha Stan from my time in Minnesota. If I had thought there would be any trouble, I would have shifted loyalty to Alpha Viktor on the flight.

Patrick was still working the agent. “Isn’t there anything we can do? If it is a matter of time, I’d gladly pay the vet to make the trip out here. I need to get him to his family as soon as possible.”

She shook her head. “I’m afraid not, the vet we use is on vacation now, and you didn’t call ahead with the need so he’s going to have to wait. Oh, and kennel fees are twenty pounds a day, you provide the food.”

“I have a current vet certificate, I’m sure. He's healthy, never a problem.”

“Quarantine. You can pick him up Monday after nine AM. Pay the cashier on the way out,” she said as she stamped his passport. Taking my chain, she started to walk towards the back. “Come on, boy,” she said.

I’m going to beat the shit out of him for this,” I told Larry as I followed behind her. “His company ships dogs all over the world and they screw this up?”

Just behave, we’ll figure this out,” he said as I went through the door. She led me back to a filthy area with chain link kennels over grates and locked me in the largest one. I whined as the door closed, leaving only a dim light on. The other kennels couldn’t be empty, no, that would be too easy. There had to be a beagle howling, and a Jack Russell bouncing around and yapping in his cage. They hadn’t even cleaned the floor, it had feces smeared around the back and the place smelled like I was locked in a Porta Pottie.

This place is disgusting,” I said. “I’m afraid to lay down, even werewolf healing may not keep me well here.”

“There’s nothing I can do right now,” he sent back. “We just got outside, I’ll talk to Alpha Esca about it.”

I didn’t have much of a choice, I could see the camera in the corner. The last thing I could do was shift and walk out of here. “You better bring me steak chunks or something. If you bring me that kibble again, I’ll shove it up your ass a nugget at a time until you look like a pinata.”

I could sense him chuckling. “You’d probably tell me to bite the pillow because it’s going in dry.” I chuckled to myself, a little upset I hadn’t thought of that first. Larry was a good guy to hang around with, but he still hadn’t recovered from losing his buddy Brian. I was hoping he would find his mate on this trip, he deserved some good in his life. “Just relax, we’ll be back in the morning. I’m going to stay here until you can travel. The others all have to leave without you for Moscow, there is plenty of work to be done. Don’t worry, I’ll be thinking about your situation while relaxing in the luxury room, taking a hot shower, then sleeping on thousand-count sheets.”

“You forgot the breakfast buffet.”

“I wasn’t going to bring that up, but maybe I can bring you a doggie bag or something.” Everyone is a comedian. Instead of being back in my rooms at the castle, being welcomed back by my friends and Pack mates, I was stuck here. Even worse, I was still a member of Alpha Stan’s Pack and I couldn’t shift allegiance without meeting Alpha Esca again. “Beta Jack told me to remind you that ‘If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime’.”

”A real comedian, that one. At least pass my regards to his mate, she’s the smart one of the two.”

We talked for a while longer, then he got all excited. “Good news, buddy. The radio is saying that Alpha Yuri was arrested in St. Petersburg, they found the underground bunker he was hiding out in like Hitler.”

Now that was good news. “Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. As much as I’d like to end him myself, the Chairs are right- it would raise too many questions with the humans. I hope he spends the rest of his life in a tiny, unsanitary, smelly and uncomfortable CELL LIKE THIS PLACE YOU LEFT ME IN.”

“Hey, I can’t do anything about that, you’re pissed at Patrick, remember?”

“Yeah. Any word from Jessie?”

“They went into the meeting with the FBI just before we landed, nothing yet. Hey, we’re going to be out of range soon, any messages?”

“Tell Jessie I love her. Oh, and tell Esca to bring lawyers, guns and money, they shit has hit the fan.”

“I think finding a vet on short notice would be more help, but ok. Take care of yourself, John.”

“I’ll try. Steak, in a CLEAN bowl, in the morning if you please.” I put my head down, leaning against the chain link in what seemed like the cleaner part of the kennel. The dogs were still yapping and jumping around, and knowing the Jack Russell breed it could go on forever. It was going to be a long night.

Beta Polina’s POV

I slept into the early afternoon, exhausted from the drive. I wouldn’t meet my supplier for another day, but I had other things I needed to do.

I had a list of those I wanted dead, those who were responsible for my Shura’s death.

Council Chair Francois, who passed judgment on my mate.

Council member and Moscow Alpha Javier, who also voted for his death.

Jessie Donato, who started this whole thing.

Alpha Viktor of the Kstovo Pack, who sheltered Jessie and allowed her to escape to the States.

Patrick Clarke, who embarrassed my Shura in the challenge fight.

As I drove here from St. Petersburg, I knew it was going to be impossible to pick them off one by one. Most of them were well-protected, and my freedom of movement was still restricted. If I was to get them, I had to get them with one attack. There was only one place I could find them all together, so that became my objective.

My contact was getting what I needed, but I needed access to the building. Security would be tight, but there were always ways around it if you looked hard enough. I couldn’t trust a phone, I had to do this in person. I checked to make sure my new hair color looked right, put on some sunglasses and a hat, and headed out to my car. I drove to an apartment building about a mile away from the Moscow Pack headquarters and waited in the parking lot until I saw her come home from work. I slipped out of my car, moving silently until we met just as she was reaching in her purse for the keys to the door. “добрый вечер Елизавета Климова,” (Good evening, Elizaveta Klimova).

She looked over at me, recognition then shock hitting her face as she saw through my disguise. “Бета Полина, ты жив!” (Beta Polina, you’re alive!)

“I am. We should get out of view, though.”

“Of course, Beta.” She opened the door and walked to the elevator, I followed along, careful not to show much to the cameras in case anyone was watching. The Moscow police weren’t as advanced in surveillance and facial recognition use as the West, but you never knew who might be watching. Soon we were in her nineteenth-floor apartment and she was making tea. “What may I do for you, Beta? Your photograph and that of your mate are everywhere, you are the highest-ranking members not captured yet.”

“Shura is dead,” I said calmly. “Alpha Yuri is no longer in control of the Pack. I have a plan, a plan to avenge my mate’s death, and for that I need your help. You will help me, won’t you Elizaveta?”

“Of course,” she said. “I owe you everything.” She did, too; her brother had been captured by a Colombian cartel when a drug buy went bad. The Moscow Pack lost their entire team in the firefight and was ready to bomb the safe house to kill them all. Her brother would be collateral damage.

Yuri sent me instead. I tracked him to the safe house being used, then seduced one of the guards in a local bar. He brought me in past the security, no one checking my tight dress for weapons or thinking a tiny thing like me was a danger to anything but a man’s virginity. I bathed the house in their blood, methodically working my way through with my knives until they were all dead. I then drove her brother out of there, along with a trunkload of cash and a shipment of cocaine. “How is Pascha doing?”

“Good,” she said. “He found his mate last year, a nice girl from Tallin. I suspect you are not here to discuss family, Beta. Please, how may I serve you?”

“I need access to the basement levels of the Moscow Pack House,” I said. “Myself and four hundred pounds of high explosives.”

“When?” I smiled to myself, most people would ask why or react in shock, but Elizaveta just needed to know how to serve. Yuri had wanted to recruit her to his Pack, but I had talked him out of it. Elizaveta was still a member of the Moscow Pack, but she did my bidding when I asked.

“When the Council chair is there, along with Javier, Jessie Donato and Patrick. The more leadership, the better,” I said.

She sat back, sipping her tea. “They are all arriving tomorrow. Their will be a celebration dinner with the Pack, and they will be staying late for meetings. The following morning Francois leaves for Paris, but Alpha Viktor and Mischa return to Kstovo late that night.”

“Security will be tight.”

“Yes, but the Pack will be busy. I am attending the dinner, then at eight the watch changes. I’ll be in the security control room until midnight.”

“Perfect,” I said. I handed her a burner phone. “I will call you on this when I have what I need. I will need your help to access the building and get to the basement. Once I am in place, you need to leave and never come back.” I handed her a card, it held an account number. “This will cover your escape. Travel, hide, I don’t care, but you can never come back to this Pack again.”

She looked down at the card. “I have had an escape planned since Yevgheny died. Do not worry about me, Beta, I will be fine.”

“I know you will. This you do for me, it squares our account.” She stood and gave me a hug, when I pulled away it was the end of my emotion. “I’ll let myself out.”

“Good luck, Beta.” I walked out the door, keeping my head down as I took the elevator back to the parking level. I still had a lot of things to assemble; I needed a delivery vehicle, uniform and identification. It was going to be tight, I needed to buy the explosives and detonation timer, get them boxed up, and get into the basement before the Kstovo Alpha left the building.

If revenge is a dish best served cold, it is very cold in the Moscow winter. I would bring the entire Pack down for what they did to my mate.

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