Chapter 60: Cartel
I woke to an empty bed and sun streaming into my eyes from a crack in the draperies. Stretching, taking a deep breath of my Rose’s scent, I listened for her in the room and didn’t hear anything. I got up, took a quick shower and went downstairs, following the amazing scent.
“Good afternoon, Gunny,” Marge said as she pushed a plate over to me. My mouth watered as I looked it over; an open-faced prime rib sandwich, with a huge side of mashed potatoes and covered in beef gravy. “Eat up, then you can go downstairs.”
I grabbed the plate and silverware and sat at the table, looking around I saw the people present. “Hello, I’m Beta Gunny Rodriguez of the Belden Pack,” I said to the nervous people.
“Beta Richard Steele, of the Adirondack Pack,” the closest man said. “This is Beta Reggie Carlson, of the Telluride Pack.” Richard was a typical Beta, strong and intimidating, but Reggie was something else- six and a half feet probably, and close to three hundred pounds. We stared at each other for a moment before he looked away, my dominance established. Something about my cat unnerved the wolves.
“Thanks for inviting us, I’m so happy to be able to get some revenge,” Reggie said. “You’re Rose’s mate?”
“Yes,” I said after swallowing a big bite. “I was changed last year, I found her after the war when we had to visit Washington.”
“She seems to be taking to the change just fine,” Richard said.
“She is. We were going to wait until the investigation ended, since she was the human representative to the task force, but when she was hurt… I couldn’t let her suffer at human healing rates. Now we are together in all ways.” I finished my food quickly, draining a glass of milk. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to catch up.”
Marge pushed my shoulder down as she slid a piece of pecan pie with French vanilla ice cream in front of me. “Stay put, they’re all coming up here,” she said. “Not enough room for everyone in the control room anyway.”
I looked out the window, the pool was packed with Moms, teens and kids. I could see the outdoor kitchen was getting a workout with steaks, hot dogs and other food. The teens had the middle of the pool commandeered for a big volleyball game, extra teams waiting at the wings and socializing. The smaller children were in the shallow end, and some older kids and adults down near the waterfall. I recognized my own Pack members, and some from Gila, but a lot were new. ”Ella goes all out for a party,” I commented.
“It’s a good cover for everyone being here,” Richard said. “The invitation was innocuous, we all brought our mates and families, and they are having fun. No one would suspect that we’re having a war council in your living room.”
I quickly finished, putting my dishes in the sink before heading to the stairway to the basement. The door opened, and Rose was there; tired, stressed and beautiful. She fell into my arms, wrapping herself around me as she pressed her face to my chest. “I missed you when I woke,” I whispered as the rest of the people passed us on the way to the living room.
“I had work,” she said.
“I can see, you guys were busy.” She pulled back and led me into the big room, where the couches were rapidly filling with Alphas and Betas. She sat me in a chair, then stood with Ella and Josh at the front of the room.
When everyone was in the room, Ella asked for their attention. “My friends and allies, we have learned much in the past few days about the Scrabble killer and the people behind it. As some of you have already seen, the conspiracy was much larger and had an evil purpose none of us could guess at. They want nothing less that the restart of a war with the humans, one that we will lose quickly and decisively,” she said. There were gasps, comments and outrage in the room, she gave it a minute to settle down. “You were invited here because you are allies and friends of the Gila and Belden Packs, or you were directly affected by the Scrabble Killer. The killer who was killed on orders of the same group that trained, funded and supported their reign of terror.”
Josh put a map on the huge television that dominated the wall behind them, as my mate stepped forward. “The conspiracy goes back to money and drugs. At the end of the Were War, there were three Cartels that controlled the trade across the US border. The Pacific, Socorro and Gulf cartels,” she said pointing the maps, “Controlled California, Arizona/New Mexico and Texas routes. Now, the Socorro cartel messed with the wrong Alphas,” she nodded to Robert and Renee, then Alpha Jesus and Maria Merino, “and were wiped out.” The map changed behind her, showing six months ago. “The Gulf and Pacific cartels tried to carve things up between them. They were only partially successful. This is what we have now.” The screen changed, showing a new player, the Zetas, moving through northern Mexico into New Mexico. “The Zetas are the newest and most dangerous players in the drug trade. Former Special Forces, they switched sides and quickly dominated the trade through Florida and the South. They are pushing out, aggressively taking over territories from weaker cartels through extreme violence, intimidation, and intelligence.”
“Intelligence? What do you mean,” one of the Betas asked.
“Unlike the criminal focus of most cartels, the Zetas take a military approach. They spend a lot of time and resources on developing sources, cultivating cooperating agents, subverting law enforcement agencies. They have nearly unlimited resources and can buy experts and mercenaries for whatever is needed. We know that they did, and we were shocked at how many people in government are working for them. Some are being forced to do so, but the majority are in it for the money. Their agents are the reason Maitea avoided capture, why she was able to continue killing our members. People within government and within our own task force were helping her, not just her brother.”
“How do you know,” Alpha Jesus said.
“There is a man, Charlie Stillwater. He’s a mountain lion shifter, he got his family through the war by working for the Socorro Cartel on US smuggling routes. Along the way, he became an expert in cultivating agents to protect his routes. When the cartel fell, he was able to escape the other two, and planned to live out a quiet life.” She looked around the room. “The Zetas found him, used him to develop their smuggling routes. Agents he had cultivated were added to the large number they already had. He came to us a few days ago, his mother and sister were being held by the Cartel to ensure his compliance. In exchange for help in rescuing them, he provided us with everything he had on the Cartel’s sources and methods, plus the reasoning behind the Scrabble killer. They were using her to push humans and werewolves apart, to raise tensions. When the investigation failed, it was expected we would take things into our own hands and attack humans. Now that we are out in the open, it would be easy to wipe us out.”
“This Charlie, you have him? If he helped, he must die,” the Alpha of the Adirondack Pack said.
“That is not our choice, he understands the gravity of what was done and will face the Alpha Tribunal in time. Right now he is in our cells, with his mate.”
“Cats don’t have mates,” Beta Richard sneered. “Well, except you guys. Until you panthers showed up, no one had ever heard of werecat mates.”
“A fact I think is more attributable to their isolation than nature,” Alpha Nichols said. “His mate is my sister, she recognized him immediately, he felt the pull but didn’t know what it was. In any case, he has helped us greatly.”
Ella pulled everyone back on topic. Josh put a diagram up showing the President and his Cabinet, highlighting the agents at the Zeta’s disposal at the highest levels and down through regional contacts. “Holy shit,” was the basic comment as people’s eyes gathered the size of the conspiracy. It took a few minutes and a few more slides before everyone had a good idea of what we were facing.
“We don’t have the resources to take on the Zetas, not even if we combine,” Rose said. “They are insanely violent, and we would suffer great losses. So, we made the decision to fight this as a proxy war, following the model that we used with the Socorro cartel. They can’t realize it is us behind what is happening to them. We have to do things like Gunny’s team did.”
I rose and looked at everyone. “When we hit the Cartel safe house, we made it look like the Pacific cartel did it. We destroyed all evidence of werewolves being there.”
“And we have started the same plan from here,” Josh said. “We’ve been generating false email traffic, phone calls and text messages to make it look like the Cartels are starting an open war. We’ve used agents to direct law enforcement to hit Gulf and Pacific cartel targets, leaving behind information leading back to the Zetas. We’ve also sent information to the other cartels on Zeta operations and locations, helping them to hit back. Right now, we have Betas delivering packets of information to our allies in each Cartel. We’re giving them everything they need to hit the Zetas and hit them hard.”
“How can we help,” one of the Alphas said.
“As far as I am concerned, anyone working for the Zetas is complicit in the attacks on us. There are hundreds of files we have compiled, far more than our Packs can handle. What we propose is to split things up, roughly geographically. We give you the information on them, and you find a way to take them out or use them to create more issues for the Zetas. Either way, they get hurt. Just make sure it can’t be traced back to us,” Ella said.
“We’re still compiling things, but we’ll have it all ready for you before you go. I’ll give each Alpha a jump drive with all the information you need. We’ll meet later tonight and go over a few suggested strategies,” Josh said.
Discussions went on for ten minutes, eventually all agreed that this was the only way forward. “What about the government? Can we trust them, can we use them,” Alpha Jesus asked.
“Enrique and I have a plan for that,” Lisa Giovanni said. “I’d rather not reveal anything else right now, it’s better you don’t know.”
The meeting ended, and some people returned downstairs; there was a lot going on down there, and our computer guys were swamped. Rose moved to go there, but I stopped her. “Take a moment, let’s go check on Charlotte and the others.”
We walked out to the pool, waving at Charlotte as she played volleyball with her friends. We were working our way down to the waterfall when a person grabbed me from behind, her large breasts pressing into my shirt. Rose snarled, and she quickly let go. I turned to her, it was Kelsey Stillwater. “Sorry,” she said. “I just wanted to thank you again for rescuing my mother and I.”
Rose pushed her back to a decent distance, she was jealous of the buxom woman. “I’ll cut the bitch if she touches what is mine again,” she sent.
“I only have eyes for you, love.” “It was a good operation, we saved people and no one got hurt,” I replied.
“How is your mother doing?”
“She is resting and healing, Doc said she would be fine in a few days. I brought her along, there wasn’t anything else he could do in the clinic, and she wanted to be with her family.” She jumped back into the waist-deep water, the unmated males in the area paying close attention to her boobs as she did so.
Rose pulled me back towards the house, visiting hours were over. “Ella put her and her family in guest rooms. If I catch your scent near there I’ll rip your nuts off.”
I pulled her into my arms. “How many times can I tell you, love, YOU are the only one I will ever want. No other woman interests me.”
We stopped at the kitchen, I made her a plate to take back down. As we were putting it together, Tom came into the pool area. “How was your search,” I asked.
“Good. I got enough hotel suites reserved for the visiting guests,” he showed a bag full of key cards. “I also got a line on three nearby properties, and one large chunk of land. I have to see if Craig and Ella want to proceed.” He suddenly froze, a scent catching his interest. Moving quickly and with complete focus, he followed the scent to the pool area. I heard him mutter “MATE!” as he moved. “Stay clear, Tom’s scented his mate,” I sent to all my Pack members. I saw the mated and juveniles start to move away for safety, while the word spread quickly to the unmated females. He stopped at the edge of the pool, pulling a woman up and into his chest.
It was Kelsey.
He buried his nose into her shoulder, then pulled back confused. He smelled her again, her hair the most. “I smell my mate, but it isn’t you,” he finally said. “Whose smell is on you?”
Her jaw fell. “My mother’s…”
“In the guest room, she’s…” He let go, causing her to fall back into the pool as he turned and ran for the house. We all stayed out of the way, he nearly took the sliding door off as he raced inside.
We heard a door crash open followed by a loud scream. He yelled “MINE!” and she screamed again, this time you could hear the pleasure and lust in her voice as he marked her.