Hands Of The Jury
Alpha Coral Sexson’s POV
Arrowhead Pack Conference Room
I just wanted to bang my head in frustration.
The ‘trial’ of Rori and Chase had ended forty hours ago, and we were no closer to the end.
I had to hand it to my Sister-in-Law and my twin brother; they were forceful and unrepentant throughout. They took every argument in favor of the law on humans and turned it around, showing why it was not in our best interests to do so. By the time their testimony ended eight hours later, the divide within the Packs was greater than ever.
Our jury reflected that.
Our side was solid. I voted with Rori’s Uncle Martin, Luna Ashley, Alpha Michael and Alpha Carson in a block that wanted no punishment at all. On the other side, Alphas John Coffey, Richard Long, Steven March, Alan Robertson, and Paxton Blackledge were voting together in favor of severe punishment. The death penalty was no longer under discussion, but they wanted the pair removed from the Alpha position and imprisoned.
A two-thirds majority was required to determine punishment, so two Alphas peeling off would be enough to end this. “Look at this realistically,” I said. “This isn’t your standard Pack we are talking about here. Rori and Chase built it from nothing, taking in people other Packs had harmed, with a leadership that doesn’t see things the same way. Punishing them won’t accomplish anything except drive a wedge between the Packs. We all know they will do it again if they think it is the right thing to do.”
“That’s EXACTLY why they must lose their positions of leadership,” Alpha Robertson said. “They looked us in the eyes and told us they would not accept the Council’s judgment or the Council’s laws. We cannot allow that to go unchallenged! Our structure and laws will fall apart if a Pack can choose to ignore them without consequence.”
“How can you expect that from her after how those same people have treated her,” Carson answered. “The way she rules is the way the Packs should be emulating, not punishing. We should end this fruitless deliberation and get to the real business, which should be updating Pack laws.”
“You will not get your majority there, either,” Alpha Paxton Blackledge said. “It takes the same two-thirds vote.”
We went another few hours until it was time to break for lunch. There were more attempts at bridging the gaps, but our block knew what Chase and Rori would accept, and what they wouldn’t. All of the proposals involved imprisonment or removal, and were non-starters.
“I think it is time we admit defeat and report to the Council,” Alpha Martin said. “We are deadlocked.”
“Hung jury in a trial where the accused pled guilty,” Alpha Steven March grumbled. We voted, and for the first time, we had a unanimous vote.
The Council was sitting together in the dining room, and they weren’t happy either. None of them had planned to be here beyond two days, and now no one knew when it would end. Everyone had issues back at their Pack to deal with, appointments to keep, or mates who needed them.
Something had to happen.
I went to the kitchen, getting the packaged meals for the Chase, Rori, and myself. The Council Enforcers wouldn’t let anyone in the Alpha’s rooms except family, so I had been taking my meals there. As I was leaving, Chairman Coffey came up to me. “Alpha Coral, I think it’s time I intervene personally with the Alphas.”
“I don’t know if that will work, sir,” I said. “They were clear about what they would and would not accept.” We moved through the big building, exiting into the cold, sunny day, and walking towards the Alpha’s home. “You are right in that we need to do something. The jury is getting nowhere.”
Our feet crunched through the snow until we entered the big house on the point, leaving our boots by the door. The Enforcers came to attention as we passed them in the upstairs hallway. I sent to Chase that the Chairman was here with me, and he mentally told us to come in. Chase was sitting on a couch in their sitting room watching the news, with Rori’s head in his lap as he absently played with her hair. “Time to get up, love,” he said as we walked in.
“Thanks for letting me sleep,” she said.
“You are pregnant, and it’s not like we have a busy schedule,” he replied as she sat up. They could execute Pack business on the computer or by mental communication, but not in person. They both stood and welcomed the Chairman to their rooms, inviting him to sit on a nearby chair. “How can we help you, Mr. Chairman?”
“This trial has not gone well for anyone,” he said. “The jury is deadlocked on your punishment, as you know. All attempts to forge a compromise have not succeeded because you have instructed your supporters not to accept them.”
“The jurors are Alphas; I cannot command them or control them. If they do not accept a compromise, it is because they don’t find it in the best interests of their Pack and the Council,” Rori said diplomatically.
“Of course, and neither can I command or control them on this. It does leave me with an interesting conundrum; I have Alphas who pled guilty to serious charges, but whom I cannot establish a punishment.”
“If you are here to negotiate a plea deal, Alphas Sawyer should be here.”
“No, but I have decided the next step in this mess. Call your brother, he should be here for the next part. I will call Alpha Kirk.” He pulled out his phone and texted him.
Chase looked up after the mental send. “You will be wasting our time, as we have no intention to accept any of the deals that have been put forth.”
“And I am not here to broker one; that would be an abuse of my power as Judge. Please, sit and eat before it gets cold.” Chase turned the television off, and I went to get more chairs out of their office. I laughed a little as Alpha Kirk came in. He was unusually tired and irritable today, with good reason. The Omegas had heard his outburst about what should happen to their Alpha female, and they were getting even in creative ways. His expensive dress shirt had an uneven pink tint after it “accidentally” got into a load of laundry with a new red T-shirt. His eggs this morning were cold, the steak with it cooked like shoe leather. A plumbing issue took away hot water to his room, and his wake-up call came an hour earlier than he asked. I could see a stain on his tailored suit where a server had spilled coffee on him at lunch.
He’d pissed off the wrong people, and to complain to the Host Alphas would show him to be weak.
When Sawyer arrived, the Chairman spoke again. “I am going to declare a hung jury when the Court convenes this afternoon.”
“You can’t do that! They pleaded GUILTY to the charges,” Alpha Kirk said.
“The ruling does not change the plea,” he said. “Since the Alphas cannot agree on a sentence, I am continuing the trail for three months. We will reconvene the Alphas here on April Third to resume deliberations.”
Sawyer shook his head. “The sides are dug in; I don’t know how that will change in three months.”
“Minds can change, events can change, and leaders can even change in that time.” I didn’t miss the subtle warning there, wondering which leaders he was referring to. I had a few ideas, and if I didn’t have my own Pack already, I’d have challenged Alpha Kirk on general principle. I’d have to speak to Mom about whether she wanted back into the Pack life, or if she was going to stay retired with her new mate. “Three months will allow emotions to settle and saner heads to prevail.”
“What about my clients? They are in limbo while we wait.”
“The Arrowhead Alphas will remain under confinement, but the restriction will be to their Pack lands. Council enforcers could be left behind to monitor compliance, but I would expect more from Alphas. Your word that you would remain on your lands would be enough,” he said.
I looked over at Rori; she didn’t like it, but it was better than the alternative. “Chase and I will remain on Arrowhead Pack lands until the jury convenes again,” she swore.
Sawyer moved behind them, placing his hand on his brother’s shoulder. “It doesn’t seem like enough to get two-thirds. You need two Alphas to change sides.”
“Not this time. The ruling affects us all, not just those in North America. In the next deliberation, ALL of the world’s Alphas, save Arrowhead and Monongahela, will decide your fate.”
My mind whirled at this, while Sawyer was shaking with anger. “You can’t change the rules in the middle of the trial,” he growled.
“Do not growl at me, pup,” the Chairman said as he stood. “The Council has decided. If you don’t like it, strike a deal before then. Either way, we will settle this the next time I am here.” He looked to Rori and Chase. “The proceedings will resume at one. I will be departing for the airport immediately after it ends, so I would like to thank you for your hospitality.” He extended his hand to Rori and Chase. “You have balls, young Alphas. I hope they don’t get caught in the machinery of justice.”
I watched him leave, a smug Alpha Kirk behind him. “Fuck,” I finally said. “What does this mean?”
“It’s not good,” Sawyer said. “European Alphas are older and more traditional than American ones.”
“They still have to get two-thirds, and we have three months to make our case,” Rori said. “There are some that will never change; we need to focus on the ones who were trying to find common ground.”
“And if we can’t?” I looked at my family, nervous that our strategy had backfired.
“Then we make a deal,” Sawyer said. “It’s better than removal and prison.”
Beta Ron’s POV
Arrowhead Pack Offices
It had taken a week to get everything back to normal after the Council and Alphas left.
It didn’t help that Roadkill and Possum were gone; he did so much with facilities and the motor pool that things quickly fell behind. The people he trained were doing their best, but it wasn’t the same. Having our Pack Nurse gone wasn’t a hardship since Chase could fill in, but still.
The Alpha pair wasn’t in a good mood. Having their children hidden for protection, and accomplishing nothing that would bring them back, was eating away at them. They were going to miss them growing, their first steps, their first words at this rate.
I almost hoped someone was stupid enough to attack us, just to give them an outlet for their rage. The danger of attack was greater than ever before. Both sides knew they needed to change the minds of an Alpha or CHANGE Alphas. Attacking us solved the problem at the source, while they would have to take out two Allied Packs to turn the jury against us. Their brothers needed warriors back home in case someone tried to take them out.
We made sure before the Alphas left that they knew an attack on one of our Packs would mean war.
So we trained and trained hard. Every person in the Pack was getting firearms training, and I was working on improvised explosives and ambush positions.
All of this left Vic Knightly and his pregnant human love Spider Monkey in limbo. Spider had purchased the lake home just around the lake from our lands, so ‘technically’ the Pack was not hosting her. She wasn’t here long, as she and Vic were in Mexico with his daughter and her mate from Oxbow Lake. They were getting married on the beach.
“You got mail, baby,” Teri said as she walked into the office and gave me a passionate kiss. We found out three days ago that she was pregnant with our first child, and both of us were walking on the moon over it. Rori’s theory was that Luna was blessing those on her side because she favored it. I didn’t care how it happened.
I pulled her into my lap and buried my nose in her neck as my wolf assured himself all was well. She handed me a letter with no return address, postmarked from Orlando. Opening it up, I found another envelope inside with Greg’s name on it. “It’s from Heather,” I said.
“Are you going to forward it?”
“Not after this letter from Greg.” I opened my desk drawer and got the letter that had arrived from Russia the day earlier, in which he dumped her like she was diseased. “I don’t have her address, and I can’t be sure who is forwarding her letters.”
Teri read the first paragraph and handed it back to me. “Asshole!”
“Yeah.” I tossed the two letters back in my drawer. “Heather might do something stupid if she gets this, like trying to find Greg. I think it’s best if they handle their relationship issues face to face when he returns.”
“If Heather is back here by then,” she said. “Luna only knows what will happen with the next jury.”
I pulled her close as my hand covered her lower belly. “We will get through this, my love. Come on; it’s almost lunchtime.” I set her on her feet, and we walked out.