Duluth Dew Drop Inn Motel
I was eating a piece of cold pizza and watching the weather in my hotel room when they broke the news on my Presidents.
We all stopped, watching, not believing it could be true. How could ALL of them be dead? Who could have gotten them all together in one place and chopped their heads off?
When they went to commercial, I called the Oracle. She wasn’t some all-knowing computer geek like in The Matrix; she was a secure clearinghouse for our Club to get word to others. The Presidents had put her in place to pass important information between Chapters, without making direct contact with each other, and without leaving an electronic trail. The Oracle was a clearinghouse, put in place for emergencies, and there were rules. Each person had a password, each Chapter had a different number to call, and you never used your name. Once your code was verified, you could leave messages or receive information as you needed.
To make it impossible for the Feds to listen in, you never dialed form a personal phone, and never from the same phone twice. I went into my bag and pulled out one of those cheap prepaid phones and dialed a number I had memorized. “Identification code,” the woman said.
“Two-zero-six Bravo,” I said. Two was code for my position as VP, 06 was the number of times I’d called, and Bravo was my status. It went from Alpha, which was routine, to Delta, which was an emergency.
“Voice match. How may I help you, sir?”
“Operation failed. Report your status.”
“Five units at rendezvous, none participated,” I said. “Return?”
“Wait for remaining units, then carry out orders.”
I just shook my head; this Nygaard guy was all over the news, and cops would be crawling all over his place all day long. “Understood.” I hung up the phone, then broke it in half and tossed it into the trash bag. “We wait,” I said. “The rest of the guys from the Chapters will get here when they can, then we finish this once and for all,” I said.
Alpha Michael’s POV
Beta Ron and Teri’s Home
Earlier I’d pushed Vic through the tunnels and into the Beta house on a wheelchair, then settled him in the basement guest room with Spider Monkey. I liked the little spitfire of a hacker, and it was obvious they were falling in love with each other. We all went back to the Pack CIinic for our meeting, and nobody said much as we returned to Teri’s home. There were too many things going through my mind.
My entire life had been spent hiding my true self from the humans around me. If our nature became public, EVERYTHING about our lives would change forever. Best case, the townspeople accept us, and we only deal with the religious nuts and the crazies. Worst case? We fight and die, or live to watch our people hauled off in cages for medical experiments. I was having a tough time imagining how this would work out.
Margaret went to check on Vic, while Teri led me upstairs to the home office that she shared with Ron. Their matching desks sat back to back near the windows overlooking the lake. Spider Monkey was sitting in a chair in the corner with her computer on her lap.
“What do we know, Spider,” I asked.
“I’ll tell you soon. I’ve still got the backdoor into the Tezcatlipoca Task Force database. I’m going to see what they know that kept them from warning us of the attack.”
“I have to call the Council.”
“Use this phone; it’s untraceable and works over the Internet.” She pointed to a blue corded phone that went to a device under her desk.
Picking it up, I dialed the number. “Council Headquarters, how may I direct your call,” a young woman answered.
“This is Alpha Michael Ulfson, I urgently need to speak with the Chairman,” I said.
“He is in an emergency meeting, sir, please hold.” The Werewolf Council was not a permanent affair with a building and staff; it was a group of five people who met when needed. Jack Coffee, the former Alpha of the Banff Pack in Canada, was the current Chair. He was starting the second year of his five-year term, after which the Chair would turn to European control. He kept a small office in his home on Banff Pack land but spent most of his time traveling. There were two Council members from each continent; Oscar Millner had been voted in when the American Packs cleaned house over the Arrowhead affair, and Nathan Kirk, former Alpha of the Monongahela Pack in West Virginia, had replaced Charles King after his death in an airplane ‘accident.’ I shared the suspicions that Rori had, but we had no evidence of foul play.
I heard the phone pick up. “Michael? How much worse are things going to get down there?”
“It could be the worst-case scenario, Chairman Coffey. I am calling to request an emergency meeting of the Council and the North American Packs, as soon as possible.”
“Luna, what a mess. We’ve been watching the news. I warned Rori, hell, I warned her just a few days ago to break ties with those bikers, and now this.”
“We can’t waste our time on blame right now, we have to unite to limit the damage from this,” I said. “When I say as soon as possible, I mean today.”
“That will be difficult, your location is still in a blizzard, and there are going to be police everywhere.”
I had thought about this on the way over. “We can host at my Pack. It’s far enough away from Arrowhead to not attract attention. I can arrange pickups at the Minneapolis or Duluth airports.”
“Why not just have it in Minneapolis or a neutral location?”
“I need Arrowhead to be there, and the cops are watching them. Heading to Minneapolis will raise too much suspicion. Also, one of the people I need at the meeting was injured in the attack and can’t travel,” I said. “If you can put the word out, they can contact us directly with their flight information, and we will arrange transport.”
“Hang on.” The phone muted, and he came back on a few minutes later. “I will put out the summons as you requested. If we wait until tomorrow morning, I can get the European Alphas and Council members to attend. There isn’t time to fly them in today.”
“As soon as everyone is here, we will meet,” I said. “Naturally, my Pack will offer hospitality, and I guarantee protection to all, as is customary for Council functions. Each Alpha may bring a Beta, plus their mate if they desire,” I said. My public oath on this was key to the meeting; it meant that I was guaranteeing their safety. If a visiting Alpha found harm on my territory, I would be held responsible. It was the only way Alphas would meet outside their territories with so few guards. “I expect they will be able to fly out tomorrow, after lunch if flying out of Duluth, and after four if flying out of Minneapolis.”
“I will let them know. You should warn your niece; this isn’t going to be a pretty meeting. Her recklessness and failure to adhere to basic Werewolf laws have brought us to this crisis. As Alphas, they will be held accountable for the decisions that brought this about.”
“I will pass that along, Mr. Chairman.” He was right; some would be furious and looking for blood. Chase and Rori might not survive the judgment of their peers after they realize the extent of the breach.
Arrowhead Alpha House
“I’m fine, T, they didn’t even get close to me. The babies are all together on the blanket, Coral is watching them with me, and they won’t let us do anything,” I told Three Tequila over the phone. She and the other Steel Ladies were shocked to find us in the news like this. Mongo was furious, as were the other Club members down there. “The attackers are all dead, and the Sheriff won’t even let me leave my bedroom because of the crime scene stuff.”
“Wait, why can’t you use the other stairway and go downstairs?”
I paused for a minute. “Well, because the Sons came up BOTH stairways and tossed grenades. My Mom and her friend Frank held them off with rifles. They didn’t get close to us, but Mom took a round through her arm and Frank was hit by shrapnel. They’re going to be all right; Chase fixed them up. Trust me, with all the cops around plus Chase rallying our friends, we’ll be safe.”
“You’re sure? We can have people up there today if you need us. The Club will be there for you if you ask, whether you quit us or not. You’re still like family.”
“I’m positive, Tequila. There’s no way Frame would let anyone near me or the babies now that, um, I mean, I’m well protected! We don’t need more!”
“Canvas, what are you not saying? Remember, I can tell when you aren’t fessing up, young lady.”
She always could. Fine. “I’m pregnant again. We just found out yesterday, Tee. I’m due around Labor Day.” I had to hold the phone away from my ear as she started screaming. “Tee! We’re still early, we aren’t advertising that yet,” I said. “Keep it to you and your Old Man.”
“Oh, this is wonderful! You make such great babies, you two. Are you hoping for just one this time, or are you going for triplets, so you have your basketball team?”
I hadn’t even thought about the possibility of multiples. “Oh HUSH, woman! I’m just weaning the two I have, and you want me to get three more?”
“I want you to be happy, Rori. It’s all I’ve ever wanted for you.”
I started to cry a little; I had my Mom and stepfather, but Three Tequila and the other Ladies who took care of me while I was in hiding were family too. The thought of them being in danger even as Trusted Affiliates made my stomach flip. “I am happy. I’m also going to be big as a house this summer when we have the gathering up here.”
She blew her nose; she was crying too. “I love you, Rori. Don’t hesitate to call if you need us.”
“I won’t. I love you too, let the other Ladies know we’re fine.” I hung up, wiping the rest of my tears with a kleenex that Coral handed me. I sent a group text to the Ladies, and then answered a few of the calls. I was blessed to have so many people who loved me and were worried about me.
I was about to put the phone down when it rang again, with the Caller ID saying “Duluth Police Department.” I slid the bar to answer it. “Hello?”
“Rori, this is Captain Mark McCluskey of the Duluth Police,” a deep voice said on the phone.
I froze, recognizing it from my old life. “Uncle Mark?” Mark and my Dad were friends, and he used to take us out fishing on his boat when I was a kid.
“Hi, Rea,” he said. “I’m happy to hear your voice and to know you are all right. I’m thankful we were able to warn you they were in the area.”
My blood pressure spiked. “We didn’t get any warning, Mark. They almost got to our bedroom and my babies!”
“WHAT? THOSE MOTHER…. FUCKING TASK FORCE! I’M GOING TO BARBECUE HIS ASS IN MOLASSES!”
Task force? “What happened, Uncle Mark?”
He let out a loud sigh, and I heard him sit down. “Last night we got a tip of some suspicious people gathering at a hotel at the north end of town. We identified members of the Sons of Tezcatlipoca from multiple chapters on the surveillance video, and they are all stuck there in the bad weather. I called the County, asked them to park a cruiser on your house, and told the Task Force about it.” I heard a loud smack when his hand hit his desk. “They told me they would warn you, so I focused on the guys I had here in town.”
“Are they still there? Am I still in danger?”
“They are still there, and we think more are coming. We’re getting SWAT together, and as soon as the airport opens, the FBI will Hostage Rescue Team will be here. The Task Force is sending a plane too, not that I trust them as far as I can throw them.” He let out a breath. “I’m sorry, Rori. I fucked up. I’m not letting them get close to you again.”
“I know you won’t. I have to go, but thank you for telling me,” I said.
“I’m glad to know you’re still alive, girl. When you disappeared after the hospital, I didn’t know what to think.”
“Goodbye, Mark. Tell Lucy that I miss her.” I hung up, then used the bond to update everyone. “Well, now we know where the problem is,” I sent.
“This FBI Deputy Commander enjoyed that conversation with Frank a little too much. Teri, you and Spider Monkey dig into his background after you figure out what the Task Force knows. I need to know if we’re fighting more than an ambitious law enforcement agent,” Chase said.
“Alpha, do we still want to send Vic and Spider to Oxbow? We’ll be more productive if we stay together here, and Spider promises to restrict Vic to the bed,” Teri said with a giggle.
“He can stay, but out of sight,” Chase said.
“We need to move up the evacuation of the rest of our vehicles and people,” Luna Margaret sent. “The storm is winding down now. If you can plow the streets, we’ll lead a convoy home before the parade of law enforcement shows up this afternoon. We do it before the Deputies start asking more questions.”
She was right; we had to get people out. We’d evacuated some of their Pack, but if we were under threat here, I needed all non-combatants out of the way. “I need you to bring my Omegas with you too.”
Colletta’s mental voice broke in. “There’s more. Frank got a call back from his friend, the Homeland Security Director. He got a meeting with him, but he can’t fly to Washington. He thinks I should go in his place.”
“You would go,” Chase asked.
“Yes. With the lack of evidence and the recording from the Task Force, Frank thinks he can get the Task Force to back off. If we need to manage the reveal, I’m there and able to represent us. I’m just a Grandma, nothing to see here,” she said. “The meeting is tomorrow at 12:30 PM and the Alpha Summit will be tomorrow morning. We have to have someone in place if we decide to reveal ourselves.”
“Frank needs to go to Oxbow and attend the Summit in the morning. He’s the only one who might get through to those men that the secret is coming out, whether they want it to or not.” Colletta was right about that.
Chase reluctantly agreed. “I’ll tell the Deputies that I need to send Frank and Colletta to the hospital because I don’t have enough painkillers or antibiotics here, and they will need X-rays and to be examined. I can get a driver to take them, dropping Frank off at Oxbow before Colletta goes to the Duluth airport. Mom, buy a ticket there and stay off the phone. Call Frank from the hotel when you get in.”
“What about Heather,” Coral asked. “What if they aren’t here to get us after all? They might be setting up for a massive search for the missing daughter of the traitor. She’s out there somewhere with one bodyguard, while we have dozens of warriors here.”
She was right. “We had identified people before the storm and had a plan to go find them; let’s send them out at the same time Oxbow vehicles leave. It might be slow going, but it gets them out of the way just as well as going to our neighbors.”
“I’ll make it happen,” Keith said.
“One more thing,” Chase said. “Teri, make sure a bag from your safe room makes it into one of the Oxbow vehicles. They’ll be able to put it to good use.”
“We don’t need the money, Chase,” Margaret protested.
“You’re in for a share, we insist,” I added. “Your Pack wants a new pool, you know.”
“Fine,” she said. “I’ll put out the orders, when can you have the roads cleared?”
“Roadkill says thirty minutes, he’s getting the plow out of the garage now,” Chase replied. “We’re going to be stuck here with interviews for a while. When we are allowed to leave, we’ll go to Keith and Coral’s place. Good luck, everyone.”