Buried Treasure

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Cat Problems

Beta Coral’s POVArrowhead Pack
Previous afternoon

Teri sent the warning over the Pack link as soon as she read Beta Ron’s warning. “The Sons sent a panther to the memorial service, and he has scented our Alphas. We are to go into lockdown immediately and watch for the attack .”

The Pack responded quickly per the defense drills we practiced at least monthly. I was with the babies in Rori’s home, feeding Hope while one of the Omegas bottle-fed Cheryl. Her guards were at their side immediately, Tom pulling her to her feet. The female warrior, Meghan, grabbed Mark from the crib as we headed for the stairs to the basement safe room. “Where to, Beta,” Meghan asked.

I verified there was no attack in progress with our security center first. The duty warrior reported no alarms and cameras were clear, so I ordered everyone to the main safe room under the Pack House. It was simpler for the warriors to protect one location, and that room was well stocked and prepared. The safe rooms in homes were for no-notice attacks where we didn’t have time to use the tunnels. “Security control, notify Oxbow Lake of the threat and that we are going into lockdown.” Oxbow didn’t border us, but they were family and close allies.

We passed through the theater, the safe room in the basement of the Alpha house, and into the tunnel leading up to the Pack House. They had been a lot of work to install, but they were a big advantage to our defense. They allowed us to move people out of sight between buildings safely and quickly.

We had to wait to pass into the main safe room, and I handed Hope off to the Omegas in charge of the nursery. People were still streaming in from the other homes. I went to a board where the Pack Roster was displayed and moved the magnets for the babies and their guards to the Safe Room column. I moved mine to Outside. Keith joined me with the warriors outside the door to the safe room. “Get a count and keep everyone except warriors in there setting up,” I told Beta Roadkill. Since he and Possum were human, they were in charge of the people in there. “If the count isn’t complete within the next two minutes I’ll have us doing drills every day until it is.”

One minute and fifty seconds later, Roadkill reported the count was complete. Roadkill was a Beta even as a human, so he and Possum were in charge of the safe rooms.

“Attention everyone,” I said out loud for the human’s benefit. “The threat the Pack is under Is grave, but the timing is uncertain. We do know that the Sons of Tezcatlipoca, a violent motorcycle gang whose leadership are all jaguar shifters, know of us now. Our warriors killed some of their men, and we are protecting a woman who they want dead. Because of these threats, we will be remaining in Security Condition Yellow until further notice.” Yellow was the second-highest state of readiness, with Red being an attack in progress.

There was murmuring among the Pack with the news. “The rules for condition Yellow are simple. Unless you are part of an armed security group, you are to remain in the safe room or be able to reach the safe room in sixty seconds. The Pack House entrances will be closed and barricaded. Also, everyone not on duty will remain in the room between 2000 and 0600; the doors will only open for shift change. If you need anything from outside the Pack House, let Security Control know, and they will get it when able.”

My mate Keith picked it up. “A jaguar threat is something no one here has dealt with before, so this is what we know. Jaguar shifters are the size of lions, with excellent night vision and smell. They fight with teeth and claws equally and are too much to take on alone. We prefer to fight them as humans, with scoped hunting rifles at long range, or shotgun slugs up close. Our AR-15’s don’t have enough power to kill them without a lucky shot. Every qualified person outside the safe room will be issued a Glock .45, holster, and extra magazine. I pray it doesn’t get to that.” There were nervous chuckles. “They are ambush predators who can climb and leap, so for Luna’s sake, look up.”

“How do you fight them as wolves?”

“No one goes out in groups of less than four. Surround it, work together, and try to take out the hamstrings. If it runs, even better since they don’t have our stamina. If you can tree it, call for help and remember they can leap between trees.”

I looked everyone over; I was in charge of Pack defense and the de facto Alpha with Chase, Rori and Ron gone. “The Pack roster board is to be kept updated. All warriors meet in the gym after this breaks up. Any questions?”

“How are we handling meals,” an Omega asked.

“The kitchen is within 60 seconds so it can be used, but think about what you can do down here. It could be a while before a grocery run, so use perishables first. Bring things for sandwiches and the like into this kitchen. Prepare menus and get Beta Possum’s approval tonight.”

“What about Heather and Greg? They need to know they can’t come back.”

“They know that already,” I replied. “I will make sure all those outside link range understand the situation.” I would call Charlie and Bonnie; they could decide if it was wise to move Heather again.

The meeting ended as they got to work organizing for the extended stay. I took the warriors into the gym, keeping the link open for the ones working. “Teams A and B, you’ll be securing the homes. Get everything locked up and alarmed, and check with the residents to see if they have urgent needs. Close and padlock the tunnel doors to the outlying houses from both sides.” Every member kept clothes and supplies in a safe room locker, so there shouldn’t be much to pick up. The tunnel system was segmented in case of a breach, the doors giving us more time. “Teams C and D will be on outside patrol. Start at the homes and work out to the border. Double-check the gate and cameras at the entrance road.”

Beta Coral, Oxbow offered to take over border patrol for us. They will have the first pair here in two hours, and keep two out 24/7.”

“Pass along my thanks; make sure they know to report and avoid, two isn’t enough without help.”

“Yes, Beta.”

Team E will take over Security Control and Pack House stations. Once initial rounds are done, C takes outside patrol, D inside, rest is reserve and resting. Swap every three hours. Keith and I will alternate command shifts in Security. Any questions?”

“Beta, half of my team is apprentice warriors. Shouldn’t we leave them in the house and form patrols with qualified wolves?”

“This could go on for weeks. Get them the experience; all can shoot, and fighting in wolf form is a last resort.” They left, and I went to Control. “Still quiet?”

“Yes, Beta. Those cameras out on the ice fishing houses were a great idea; it extended our detection capability on the lake.” We’d installed WiFi cameras, with night vision and motion detection, on ice houses we owned, since the lake was the weak spot in our defense. I watched until Keith took over at dinner time and all was quiet.

Rori’s suggestion came in as the patrols headed out; it was a great idea. I had warriors go to the Alpha’s house and carry Heather’s dirty clothes and bedding through the garage and down to the safe room, rubbing her scent onto the walls and handrails. The Omegas cleaned her bedroom and her room at Possum’s house to knock down those scents. I left two volunteer Omegas and the sealed bag in the Alpha’s safe room with instructions. They were to stay there, every 12 hours reapplying the scent, and keep the door to the tunnels open.

I slept as much as I could from dinner on, while our Alphas and Vic traveled to Oxbow. Keith had it handled; he kept reminding me every time I would ask. The Alphas were coming back from the hunt when I took over the midnight-to-six watch from him.

Coffee is my friend until three AM, then I have to stop, or I won’t get sleep after breakfast. That meant I was dragging by five-fifty-five as the day team finished eating early breakfast. The cameras were still quiet, and sunrise was over an hour away.

The alarm system beeped, and the camera with the motion alarm came up on the big screen. Two shapes, moving quickly across the ice. As they got closer to the ice house, I got a good view. Big cats, running fast with bags in their jaws. “WE’RE UNDER ATTACK,” I blasted over the Pack link. “Three panthers, 200 yards out on the lake and coming fast. Execute the false trail plan.”

The Pack House came alive as all available warriors went to set ‘repel boarders’ and guard all entrance points. Footsteps tumbled through the house as people raced back to the safe room. The panthers slowed for a stealthy approach, seeing some lights on in the early morning. The safe room was closed and locked before they touched dry land, all except the door from the tunnels. Six armed warriors guarded that.

The cats stayed in the shadows until they caught Harleigh/Heather’s scent by the side door to the garage. They shifted, pulling on clothes and shoes, then picking up what looked like H&K machine pistols. “Entering via Alpha house garage, all three armed with sub-machine guns,” I sent.

Scent trail-ready and I’m at the door,” Linda said. One of our fastest wolves, the Omega had the open clothes bag in her teeth just inside the tunnel. Mackenzie, another Omega, had covered her scent with popcorn butter and was hiding in the safe room.

The Alpha house cameras showed them breaking in and entering the kitchen through the attached mud room. They stopped at the stairway, the lead male scenting upstairs before leading the two females downstairs. They followed the trail into the safe room. Linda was closing the door, and the male grabbed it when it was nearly there. She shifted and sprinted for the Pack House with her clothes bundle as the panthers strained to get it open again.

The three got in the tunnel just as Linda burst through into the safe room. Six men shoved the door closed and latched it; it would take explosives to get through now. The male pounded on the door in frustration, and then they heard the door behind them close.

Mackenzie had emerged from her hiding space when they entered through the door and latched it closed. The tunnel complex section was now sealed with electronic and mechanical locks, trapping them like mice.

I watched in amusement as they ran back and forth, looking for an escape and finding none. When they stood together outside the Pack House vault door, I got on the microphone as I watched them on camera. “Bad kitties,” I teased. “Who are you, and why are you here?”

The man turned to the camera above the door and glared at me. “We are here to take the human girl, Harleigh Ryder. Turn her over, and the Sons will not kill you for your Pack’s part in the death of Jose and his men.”

“Can’t do that, Spots. Harleigh is under our Alpha’s protection. You could have left her alone; she wasn’t even born when Jesus lost his wife. Haven’t enough died already? Manilo was correct in saying that peace is the best option now.”

“My mate will stain the snow with your blood if I am not released,” one female threatened.

“Ah, Mrs. Manilo. He must not think much of your life if he sent you here to die. We’ve been expecting you since yesterday afternoon. Any last words for your husband? Jose can’t be the only one who records the demise of his enemies.”

The male stared me down. “It will be an open war on your Pack if we die.”

I just laughed into the microphone. “It was war as soon as your front paw crossed into our territory.” Setting the microphone down, I turned to the warrior at the panel. “Arm the flooding valve,” I said.

I touched the button on the microphone one last time. “I hear jaguars like to swim. Let’s see.” I ordered him to turn the switch, and a ten-inch valve stroked open on the bottom of the pool. Water rushed in through a pipe behind them, rushing down to fill the tunnel below. If they acted quickly, they might get through a door, but they didn’t. They cursed and pounded as the water rose inexorably towards them. They even fired a burst of 9mm into it before realizing gunfire in a narrow tunnel didn’t work well.

“Not very sporting, is it, Beta?”

“Sneak attacks aren’t very sporting either,” I responded. The water kept rising as the male shifted, his claws scraping at the steel door to no effect. They gasped at the remaining air, which vented outside through a six-inch ventilation duct surrounded by a foot of concrete.

The camera went underwater, and I forced myself to watch as they drowned. They chose to come here and hurt my family; death was the required response. “Good job, everyone. Linda and Mackenzie, you two were perfect. The attack is over, but our world just got much more dangerous,” I said.

I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve,” Keith responded.

You protected the Pack well, and your Alphas are proud of you. This is bigger than just our Pack now. Our Council will have to get involved now.”

Thank Luna it wasn’t the same Council as before Rori ascended to Alpha. This one might help.

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