Rose

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Chapter 44: Luis

Luis Hernandez’s POV

My task force had sprung into action when the call came in, the Scrabble Killer had been captured. We ran down to the garage, loading up in the Suburbans as my driver was entering the address into the navigation system. Lights blazing, we tore out of the city towards the remote location the wolves had got her.

“Boss, you all right?” Agent Cushing was sitting on the other side of the back seat, he had just contacted the local Sheriff’s office for an update as I focused on my phone.

“Yeah,” I lied, “Just nervous the killer is going to die before we get there.”

He laughed. “No perp walk, I hear. They shot off one leg and one hand. Ambulance will be there in a few minutes.”

I looked out the window, fighting back the tears. How the hell did Maitea slip up like this? Our next target was five states away. I reached into my pocket, pulling out the flip phone and hiding it between my leg and the door. I removed the battery and the SIM card, leaving the phone parts in the door. The SIM card I slipped into my jacket pocket, I would dispose of it out in the desert.

One thing was certain, the Cell wouldn’t be happy about this. The plan had been working so well; the werewolves had been drawn into the open, their Packs identified and isolated. They hadn’t struck back at humans yet, the ultimate goal of our plan, but they were close. They had already withdrawn from the task force, the mistrust of humans and our government would only help. If Maitea was down, I’d take her place.

The task force would shut down with her capture, I’d take a month or so of well-deserved vacation, and I’d find a way to reignite the war with these dangerous savages. The Military and Homeland Security weren’t idiots; just because we had a treaty now didn’t mean we wouldn’t have to wipe them out later. All it took was for one Pack to strike back, to harm innocent humans, to cause people to realize again that they were animals in human form. Dangerous animals who should be put down.

I checked my phone and got updates as we went. Clayton was dead, but he hadn’t gone quietly. I texted the emergency number for The Cell: “M capt/inj being transported C out.” I deleted the text, it wasn’t incriminating, but there was no point in leaving it on my phone. I made a few calls, the US Attorney, the FBI Director’s office, and before I knew it we were at the scene.

The FBI always made a show of it, sweeping in and taking over from the backwater Sheriff’s Department that had first responded. I was first out, my team falling in line behind me as I took charge of the investigation. As I walked forward, I casually tossed the SIM card into the rocks and brush.

Something was wrong, but it wasn’t until the US Marshal’s vehicle showed that I got a clue why. “What’s up with them,” I asked Cushing. They pulled in next to our vehicles, and four of them got out.

“Agent Luis,” asked the lead marshal.

“Agent in Charge Hernandez,” I replied. It was my task force, they weren’t coming in. There was no fugitive here.

“Luis Hernandez, you are under arrest for murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder,” he said as his men surrounded me. Two grabbed my arms, the third removed my gun and badge.

“What the fuck are you doing, Marshal?” The cuffs were placed on my wrists.

“My job, Luis. What you should have been doing. Jones, read him his rights.” I didn’t listen, I was cursing him and anyone else involved with language that would make a Drill Instructor blush. “Mr. Hernandez, do you understand these rights as have been read to you?”

“Yes, you pigfucker.”

“Get him out of my sight,” the Marshal said. They started to walk me away as I looked at my team. They didn’t know what to do, so they just watched. I was put into the back seat of their vehicle, where they attached ankle chains before moving my hands in front to cuff them to the ring welded to the seat frame. I didn’t pay them any attention, I was trying to figure out why Alpha Robert Hastings was here with his men. He walked to the group that included my men, the Deputies and the Marshal. I couldn’t read their lips, but they looked at me a few times.

Fucking Alphas, thinking they were in charge. I couldn’t believe the treaty when it was released; the Government had granted them autonomy over Pack lands, Federal agencies needed a warrant to enter. They even had their own court system, out of the reach of Federal courts. It was another reason they had to be ended, we all should be equal under the Law.

The lead Marshal and the Alpha walked towards me along with a few other werewolves I’d seen during the investigation. The Marsal yelled to his man, who opened the door and released me from the tie-down on the seat. “Come on, watch your head,” he said as he helped me out and to my feet.

I looked at the group with disdain, they must have gotten off the phone and realized their mistake. “Finally came to your senses, huh?”

The Marshal laughed. “Oh yeah. Jail is too good for scum like you. I don’t like werewolves that much, but I do admire their swift justice. I bet you’re dead by the weekend.”

“WHAT?”

“Thank you, Marshal,” Alpha Robert said. “We’ll take it from here.” Two werewolves grabbed me and started hauling me towards their vehicle.

“WHAT THE HELL, MARSHAL?” I struggled against them, but they were strong as hell, I didn’t even slow them down. They almost tossed me into their vehicle, one sitting on either side of me.

The men were laughing at me as the door closed. I watched helplessly as Alpha Robert got in and told his lawyer, William Post, to drive away. He looked in the mirror at me. “Too bad for you that you were captured on Pack lands, Luis. The Feds don’t have jurisdiction, the Alpha does. It just took a phone call to straighten things out.”

Robert looked back at me as we pulled onto the road. “So here’s what is going to happen, Luis. You’re going to Gila Pack land, where you will be tried by the Pack and sentenced by me. Said sentence is carried out immediately by our laws.”

“Fucking savages. You will all rot in hell.”

“You know, Luis,” he looked at me like he was looking forward to this, “I hope you stay stubborn. The victims love a drawn-out revenge.” They stopped talking after that, using that infernal mind-link thing. I could tell when we entered their main territory, wolves starting howling and running alongside us as we weaved through the canyons and scrub. By the time we reached the main compound, there were fifty or so, plus a couple big cats.

The Alpha got out first, he was smiling broadly. He was mobbed by his Pack members, in human and wolf form as he walked to the doors of the Pack House. The wolves made a path for us, letting the vehicle pull out towards a much smaller building nearby. When we got out, I was scared shitless. Wolves were snapping at me, growling, and pushing my legs as the men hauled me to the door. It was heavy duty, several inches of steel, and I passed a control room before I was taken through a door with an electronic lock. When it latched behind us, I was taken down a brightly lit stairway, smelling the blood and piss from the cells there. It was empty, but I was taken to the far end. One man stayed outside the cell with a cattle prod while the other marched me in by the cot. Sitting me down, he removed my shackles. There was a pair of shower shoes, boxer shorts and orange scrubs on the bed. “Strip,” he said.

“Fuck you.”

“I wouldn’t fuck you with HIS dick,” he said. “Now, strip or I’ll have him hit you with a few shocks and THEN I’ll strip you.” Looking around, I figured this wasn’t the time to fight. I took my suit off, laying it on the bed, before getting dressed. He gathered up the clothes and left, not saying a word.

“I want a lawyer,” I said.

“How does it feel to want?” They went up the stairs as I cursed them, turning the lights up. I sat on the bed, taking the time to look around my new digs. There was a steel toilet in the corner, with an integral seat, and a small stainless sink and mirror next to it. The bed was a thin mattress on a concrete slab, with a wool blanket. I could see cameras mounted around the cells, I flipped them off before lying down.

I was starting to get cold, the room was underground and the air temperature was in the fifties. Unfolding the blanket, I set it over me and put the tiny pillow under my head. I had just closed my eyes when the howling started.

I didn’t get any sleep. Between the lights being changed every few minutes between dim and bright, the howling, and the cold, they did a fine job of denying me. By morning I was exhausted. I sat up when a man came down, holding a television in his arms. “Time for cartoons?”

“Nope… reality television,” he said. He plugged the TV in, keeping it just far enough away from the silver-coated bars I couldn’t do anything. He powered it up, starting a DVD playing on repeat. “Enjoy,” he smirked and left me alone again.

I watched the video, it was taken outside, looked like it was here at the Pack. The camera was following Alpha Robert as he walked with a man towards a circular area. The man was dressed in an expensive suit and carried himself like a man with power. The wind kept me from hearing what was being said, at least until the cameraman stopped just outside the ring. A young woman was on the other side of the ring, a man at her side. “You can have her,” the Alpha said. “All you have to do is take her from her mate.” He was tossed into the ring, and the man and woman shifted into scary, pissed-off wolves.

I couldn’t look away, as much as I was disgusted by what they did. It confirmed my worst perceptions of them; they were bloodthirsty, cruel, savage and demonic. They tore the man to pieces, the female taking his balls before the male took his throat. His screams silenced, all that was left was the cheering and congratulations of the Pack members. The two wolves shifted back, covered in blood and gore, before kissing each other deeply. “Thank you, Alpha,” they both said.

Then the scene repeated. Loudly. The screams echoed through my mind long after the scene had ended. I wondered what the man had done to deserve it.

It was well after lunch before the guards came down again. “Hands behind you for the cuffs,” the one on the left said. I didn’t do anything, and he laughed. “Oh, by the Goddess I hope you resist,” he said. “Seth Connors was a good friend of mine, he didn’t deserve to be gunned down at the gate. The Alpha said to bring you, he probably won’t mind if I drag you up the stairs by the legs while cuffed.”

Not the time, I thought. I turned around and put my hands behind my back. The other guard entered and cuffed me, then led me upstairs and into an interrogation room. It was pretty standard; steel table, steel chair bolted to the floor, one-way mirror on the far wall, cameras in the corner. They sat me down and connected a chain to my handcuffs, fixing me in place on the chair. “Please,” the guard whispered, “Please resist. There are a lot of people here who would like to take a shot at you.”

“I have rights, you know.”

He laughed. “Rights. You’ll get lots of rights… crosses, jabs, hooks. Lefts too. You have the right to get your ass kicked. Your Constitution doesn’t apply here.” They left the room, and soon a woman entered.

“Agent Hernandez,” she said as she sat down.

“Melody, nice to see you again. How is life as a bloodthirsty animal treating you?”

“Great, thank you. Now, you’ve been through this routine more than me, so I won’t waste your valuable time. We know you had help, we want to know who.”

“You’ll get nothing from me, Melody.”

She looked up at me, smiling. “I thought you would say that, but let me explain your situation a little better. Your sister was captured. We have evidence tying you to the shooting of Gunny Rodriguez, the killings of two Gila Pack members, and the bombing of the Belden Pack house. If you come clean now, I’ll go easy on you. The Alpha will take your cooperation into consideration when determining your sentence and hers.”

“I want a lawyer,” I said. “I’m not answering any of your questions.”

“Well, we’re working on that,” she said. “My mate is this Pack’s lawyer, but he’s the Prosecutor for the trial. It’s a much easier job. We’re asking the other Packs for a volunteer, unless you have a preference.”

“I do. Eugene Dewey, partner at the Dewey, Dewitt and Howe law firm in Albuquerque.”

“I’ll make a call,” she said. “In the meantime, enjoy our hospitality.” She left the room, and the guards came back in. As soon as they opened the door to the basement, I could hear and smell I wasn’t alone any more. The adjacent cells now were occupied, both werewolves, both in wolf form.

I didn’t get any sleep that night, either. One changed back long enough to use the toilet and complain about Burrito Monday combined with drinking too much Double Bock beer. He shifted, curling up on the bed where he proceeded to release the dog farts from hell all night. He didn’t even flush.

I couldn’t imagine what their noses sensed, it felt like a green fog encircled me as my nasal passages were corroded away. The other wolf just howled. All fucking night.

By morning, I was thinking maybe pleading guilty and being executed was a good idea.

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