Rose

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Chapter 56: Combined efforts

The house was quieter as most of the warriors, and our mates, had left for Patagonia. They would be under strict phone and radio silence during the trip, as we couldn’t risk the Cell learning where they were and what they were doing. It sucked, knowing I was going to go another couple days without my Gunny.

My stomach started flipping in knots, and I ran out of the room to the bathroom again. I was just finishing throwing up when Ella came in, handing me a dixie cup of mouthwash that I took gratefully. “Wow, that morning sickness is really getting to you,” she said.

“Four times the hormones,” I said. “Didn’t you have trouble with your twins?”

“Yes, that’s why I brought you this.” She handed me a glass, it looked like water but smelled funny, I turned my nose away. “What is THAT?”

“Water mixed with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a tablespoon of honey. It isn’t pleasant, but it helped me with the headache and nausea.”

I looked at it, at this point I was desperate. I gulped it down, the honey helping to hide the taste of the vinegar. “That’s not good,” I said.

“Give it ten minutes, then try and eat something again. We need to keep your fluids and electrolytes up, we can’t do that if you’re throwing up all the time.”

I finished in the bathroom and followed her back to the room, where a glass of water and a glass of juice was waiting for me. I looked over at Josh, he was starting to nod off. “Josh, how long have you been up now?”

He looked at the clock on his computer. “Maybe thirty hours,” he said.

“That’s too long, you’re losing your focus,” I scolded him. “Now that we have the location of their safe house, you need to get some sleep.”

“I can’t, I have to…” He stopped when three people walked in. “Enrique! Anna! What are you guys doing here?”

“I couldn’t let you have all the fun alone, Josh.” The two bro-hugged. Enrique was six years older than Josh, had a Masters from MIT, and had worked for the NSA as a human before meeting his mate Anna and being turned. “I got back from assignment in Utah and Anna went into heat. We spent it at a remote cabin, when we returned this morning, Renee updated us on what was going on and sent me to help.”

“Me too,” Anna said. “With all the extra people, I figured I could help Marge and Mabel in the kitchen and stay with my mate.”

“And I’m here to collect you, Josh,” Charlotte as she led him away. “I feel like a nap, and YOU need to hold me.” He looked like he was going to refuse, even looking at Ella and I for support, but we shook our heads.

“Three of you now, you work in shifts,” Ella commanded. “Josh, you can be back here in six hours. Carl, you can get him familiar with everything, when Josh returns you’re taking a break.” The command in her voice didn’t allow for them to argue, and Josh meekly followed his mate out the door.

Ella made a plate for me and forced me to sit and graze while I filled her in on what we had found so far. I had taken Lisa’s notes and added a few of my own. “So, I can roughly divide the piles in thirds. One group is the true believers. They were recruited because of they want to see us dead and see the war against werewolves started again. They are being paid modestly or not at all. I’ve gone through and put black tabs on their pages.” I showed her the pile. “The next group are the mercenaries; they are being paid to cooperate, some rather well. I put purple tabs on them. Finally, we have a group of people that are being blackmailed into cooperating. The Cartel has dirt on them, is threatening or holding their family, or some other means to get what they want. They have blue tabs.”

She looked at the stacks, all the agencies, all the people. “What do we do about this? Go to the President?”

“Maybe. There are a couple problems with that, though. We have one witness who can testify against them, Charlie. If he’s dead, we’ve got probably cause for search warrants, but this isn’t enough to convict. You’d have to catch them in the act, find something in the search warrant, get corroborating witnesses. This many people, plus we don’t know if there are others that Charlie doesn’t know about. My legal opinion, Ella? Best case, a third of these guys get convicted of something, a third lose their jobs or are disciplined, the rest we can’t get.”

“That won’t satisfy the Alphas, Rose. Pack members died, they were plotting the destruction of our kind. They will want blood, and I agree with them.”

I let out a deep breath as I looked at the folders on the table. “If we go after them, it could go bad for us quickly. First off, how do you think the Feds will take it if we get caught capturing and killing their people? We’d be killing hundreds to make a dent in this, they would restart the war with us over a dozen,” I said. “And that’s not the only way it could backfire. The Zetas aren’t likely to appreciate us taking out their agents. I know Renee took out one cartel, but the Socorro cartel was a high school football team while the Zetas are like a pro team. They have us outgunned, they have better trained people, more resources, more everything. Plus, they are brutal; if we get into an open war with them, the Government can just sit back and wait for us to be destroyed.”

“Combined, all the Packs, we could take them on,” Ella said.

“At a very high cost. We just got through a war that killed the majority of our kind, it will take decades for us to recover. Do we really want to go to war over this?” I tossed the folder I was looking at back on the table. “Hell, we’d be better off cutting a deal with them, like Robert and Renee did with the Gulf and Pacific cartels. No one would have to die, and they would stop targeting us if we allowed them to move drugs through our territories.” I couldn’t believe I was even suggesting that.

Ella leaned back, her fingers over her pregnant belly. “I don’t want those animals anywhere near us,” she said. “They can’t be trusted, you’d be making a bargain that would end up ruining your Pack. If we get caught aiding drug smuggling, any political support we might have evaporates.” She rubbed her temples. “The whole thing gives me a headache.”

“Come on, I need a break,” I said. Picking up the food tray, we stepped out of the room and walked upstairs. I dropped the stuff off in the kitchen and saw through the windows that the kids were all out in the pool. Armed guards posted around the back yard due to the threat, but the pool itself was hidden by the buildings and rock walls. The kids were safe as long as they stayed in the pool area. “Want to play with them for a bit?”

Ella smiled, she loved playing with her children and the other kids in the Pack. “Sure… my cat wants out.” She pulled her dress over her head as she walked outside, tossing it in a lounge chair before shifting into her black panther. I grabbed a couple towels from the stack and tossed them and my clothes on the adjoining chair. Shifting into my panther form, I shook my fur out and trotted over next to her. We made an intimidating pair, my tan coat with black rosettes and her all black look. I wasn’t quite as big or muscled as her, but it was close. The kids hadn’t noticed us yet, they were all playing in the shallows. “Watch this,” she said. She lifted her head and roared, I joined her a second later.

The kids had been in human form; hearing and seeing their Alpha caused almost all of them to shift into their wolves or cats. The sound of kiddie howls and roars filled the air as we ran towards them. Ella leaped into the water in front of them, her front paws and chest splashing water over the whole group. I headed into the deeper water, diving in and swimming underwater. I loved being in the pool in cat form, I was a powerful swimmer. I moved along the bottom of the pool, moving into the middle of the group of kids before I stood tall and shook my fur out. There were excited yips, then the ones not play attacking Ella started coming after me. Soon, I had a half-dozen pups and one panther grabbing onto my fur with their little teeth.

It didn’t hurt, and it was good training for the young ones. I walked to the waterfall, letting the rushing water knock them from my body before I turned and laid in the shallow water next to it. The bigger kids kept playing, while the smaller ones climbed on my back and watched. My mind was still chewing through the revelations of the past day, trying to find a way out. I looked around, and it gave me an idea. “Ella, I think we should have a pool party tomorrow,” I said to her.

What? We’re in the middle of all kinds of stuff right now and you want to host a party? Who the hell for?”

“The Alphas and Lunas of all the Packs that lost members to the Scrabble Killers.” I watched her, she stilled, then looked at me with her mouth open. “I was thinking about what we can do, it’s bigger than just our Pack and Gila. People will want blood, but not everyone on this list was involved in the killings. We find the ones who were complicit and divide them among the Packs. I found one DEA agent who was assigned to spy on our Pack and scout shooting locations. We should deliver him justice for his part in killing Lance Albertson.” She growled as I said his name. “We deliver the files to the affected packs for justice. For those who provided general support, we divide them up amongst the packs based on who is closest.”

“It would make things easier if we had five targets instead of five hundred,” Ella said. “It would also appease the families, dividing up one kill wasn’t enough for them.”

“It’s also a good cover for our activities down in Patagonia. If all the phone traffic and cars show us having a party, no one will suspect we’re attacking elsewhere.” I started to move through the water to the foot-deep portion, telling the kids to jump off because I had to leave. I apologized to the ladies supervising pool play for our interruption, but they just laughed as Ella and I left. We shook off, then changed into human form and dried off by our chairs. “I have to get back down there,” I said. “I’ll start a list by Pack of who they should go after.”

“Eat something,” Ella nagged as she dried her hair. “I’ve got phone calls to make. This pool party has to be better than the LAST one I organized for visiting Alphas,” she said.

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