Chapter 10: Task force alpha
We didn’t know the way, so we had Melody drive us while William took his car. I sent a few emails, updating our Alphas on the people we needed, then I was about to nap when my phone started to ring. I looked down, it was Ella. “Hello Alpha,” I answered.
“I have some more people for you,” she said. “The first one is a close friend from the Fort Berthold Pack in North Dakota, Nadine Anderson. She’s a former policeman and private investigator, and she helped me when I was getting my revenge on the Minnesota Alphas.” I shuddered a little, Gunny had told me her story and no person should have to endure what she did.
“Good, I need another investigator,” I said.
“She’s getting a flight, should arrive tonight and will be staying with us since she used to be in our Pack before she found her mate. The next one I’ll need to help you with, because the government won’t like it a bit.”
“Ella, I can only do so much here.”
“You need him, no one can search metadata like he can. His name is Enrique Mendez, he’s with the Gila Pack and he’s…”
“He’s the former National Security Agency analyst who used his position to steal intelligence on the Mexican cartels and then used it to bring one down. He also hacked the NSA servers, faked his death, and became a werewolf when he found his mate. He got a Presidential pardon, but there are still a lot of people who want to see him busting rocks in a Federal prison.” I shook my head, this wasn’t going to be an easy sell.
“We want him there, though. Look, we’ve got almost no clues as to who is doing this. We need someone who can mine the phone intercepts, emails and social media; someone who hates Werewolves this much probably left a trail,” she said.
“I’ll talk to my boss, it might take a while to get approval.”
She laughed. “Don’t worry about that, Robert’s already chewing the ear of the White House and Justice over this. We expected no less from them.”
I wrote their names in on the organization chart in my notebook. “Thanks for the help, Ella.”
“There’s one more,” she said. “You have a spot open in public relations; on our side, you need someone who is a Werewolf, but can go on television and talk to humans, plus someone who is known and respected to other Packs. Robert is sending Linda Remington.” I smiled, Linda was the reporter who had interviewed Ella in hiding during the war, who had covered Derek and Amanda’s pack, the one whose turning was broadcast live when she found her mate. She had been very involved in Wolfstock and was universally respected by the Packs.
“That’s wonderful,” I said. We talked of a few more things, and before I knew it we had arrived at the scene of the double homicide at their border checkpoint. Melody pulled the SUV to the side of the road, and we got out and waited as William and Rob caught up to us. I followed William as he walked to the small shack by the side of the road.
“This was a simple checkpoint, designed to keep the humans out of the remote regions of our territory,” he said. “There are only a few roads here.” I looked around, it was labeled with signs including PRIVATE PROPERTY, NO TRESSPASSING and my favorite, BLASTING ZONE with sticks of dynamite underneath it. There was a gate across the road with a big STOP sign on it.
“Do you get much traffic here?”
“No, not legal traffic anyway. The Cartels used to try and move things through here, but since our truce with them they don’t go across our lands any more. This isn’t on the way to the city, our Pack doesn’t use it often. We guard it because we want to keep the area free to roam.” He walked over to the outgoing lane of the road opposite the shack. “We found Krista Connors here, she had been shot a point-blank range. From the blood patterns, she was standing on the center line, probably talking to the driver. Seth must have been coming to assist, he was killed right in front of the gate.”
“That must have been a hell of a shot if he was running towards the car,” I said.
“It was,” Melody said. “William and I did some simulations with Airsoft guns. I’m pretty good, but I could only hit him three out of five times with a single shot, and only once in ten tries did I get a head shot. The shooter was either lucky or good, but I lean towards good,” she said.
“You didn’t recover the bullets?”
“No, but we did recover one shell casing. It was turned in yesterday, it’s on the way to the FBI labs. Forty-five ACP.” I nodded, looking over at Gunny who had that look like he knew, but didn’t want to believe he knew. We walked around the site, even parking a car in front of the gate and walking through the scenario as we went between it and the photos they had taken. “Like we said, we figured it was part of the Cartel wars, a test of our security, even a warning.”
“Anything else out of place?”
“Pepper,” Melody said. “The guy tossed black pepper around, it kept us from picking up scents.”
“So, whoever it was, they knew about werewolves and were prepared,” I said. We looked around for a bit longer, then Melody unlocked the gate and we all drove through. I gave up the driver’s seat and went in back with Gunny again as we drove the long way to the Gila Pack house.
Robert, Renee and a few others were waiting for us at the front steps of the large house. I could see how they had hidden in plain sight during the war, it looked like a timeshare resort with the fountains and the gardens. “Thank you for joining us, Rose, Beta Gunny,” she said as she gave us a hug.
“Thank you for your hospitality,” I responded. “Your home is beautiful.” She introduced two people I hadn’t met before, Beta Enrique Mendez and his mate Anna. Enrique didn’t look like the other Betas I had met, he wasn’t big or muscular; he got his position based on brain, not brawn. Anna was shy, a little intimidated by my hulking mate. “Don’t mind him, he’s a big softy,” I said.
“I’ll show you soft,” he whispered in my ear.
I pushed away from him and continued down the reception line. The next couple I recognized from television. “Hello Linda, Andy,” I said. “I loved your work with the Johnson Pack.”
“Thank you,” she said. She was a little intimidating for me, she was strikingly beautiful, the change had filled her out a little. HD television didn’t do her justice. Her mate was friendly, he was not as big as Gunny but he had a ‘don’t mess with me’ vibe I had seen from many Betas so far. “I’m looking forward to working with you. Congratulations on finding your mate, and you daughter as well? You are so blessed.”
“Thank you, it’s been a whirlwind for us,” I said. “I want to find this guy so we can have some time to relax, I was supposed to be on leave!” I was also introduced to the other Betas and their mates; Gunny had explained it was protocol for high ranking visitors. From the line, our bags were taken to our room as dinner was waiting on us.
The Pack House dining room was full, and it became instantly quiet when the Alphas came in, as guests we were right behind them. They led us to the head table, where the Betas took the remaining spots at the table. “We welcome tonight Beta ‘Gunny’ Rodriguez of the Belden Pack, and his mate Rose Conspiell. Rose and Gunny are heading up the task force for the FBI that is seeking the killer of Seth and Krista. Please give them a warm welcome.” The Pack gave us a round of applause as we looked at the hundreds of people, I was a little taken aback at the size of this Pack. When the Alphas sat, the rest of us followed. Moments later, carts were being wheeled out with the food.
Lots of food.
By the end of the meal, I was thoroughly impressed with the Pack and its leadership; they were a big family, and I could sense how much they loved each other. All too soon, it was time for the video conference.
We followed the Alphas into a large conference room, where a huge TV dominated one end of the room. The left side was set up for the person holding the floor at the time, while the smaller boxes showed each of the Alphas as they came into the conference. I glanced through the names and the faces, not recognizing many as this world was new to me. A clock in the corner ticked over to 20:00:00, and Renee opened the meeting. “Good evening, Alphas. Thank you for attending this conference to discuss the threat to our Packs posed by the sniper who has already killed seven of us, in apparent random fashion. In our last meeting, we discussed the attacks we know. Tonight, we are going to talk about the task force. To my left is FBI Senior Agent Rose Conspiell and her mate, Beta ‘Gunny’ Rodriguez. They are the human and Were in charge. On my mate’s right are my Betas who have been loaned to Task Force Alpha; William and Melody Post, and Enrique Mendez. Next to Enrique is Linda Remington.” She changed the screen and the organizational chart I had sent her was displayed, showing the spots I still needed Pack help. “Now, I’ll ask Rose to cover what we know thus far.”
I stood up and looked over the Alphas. “The killer we are after is highly trained and intelligent; he has managed thus far to make multiple kills while leaving behind little evidence. He has used ammonia and black pepper to hide or mask his scent. At this point, we have no leads and no clue as to his motivation. That is where you come in,” I said.
“We need to compile a list of potential suspects,” Gunny said. “Anyone, human or werewolf, who has threatened your Pack or expressed hostility towards your members. We are especially interesting in people with shooting skills; hunting, prior military. Cast a wide net, and report if there is any doubt.”
“Why tell you,” one of the Alphas said. “Why not take care of it ourselves?”
“Because it’s likely a human, and he’s not on our territory when he’s doing this,” I said. “The FBI has jurisdiction here, we have full access to their resources. We will lose that if we don’t allow the process to work, including the human justice system.”
“You’ll have all the resources you need,” Alpha Derek Johnson said as he took the floor. “A jet has been placed at your disposal, along with crew. You are being granted access to any Pack lands, and each of us will assist with anything you need.” He looked right at me. “Just find this fucker before more people are killed.”
“We’ll do our best, Alpha.”
I just didn’t know if that would be enough.