Beta Coral Sexson’s POV
Arrowhead Beta Home
We said our goodbyes just after seven in the morning in the nursery of our house; I kissed my Hope, then kissed the twins goodbye. Leaning back into Keith’s arms, I let myself have one moment of vulnerability as I relaxed into him. “You’re going to be fine, baby,” he said as he hugged me into his chest.
“I’ve got a bad feeling,” I said. “No matter what happens, you make sure the babies stay safe.”
He turned me around, his hands moving to my cheeks as I looked up at him. “The babies will be fine, and so will you. I would appreciate it if you would control the impulse to kill any of those idiots at the table.”
“A perfectly reasonable and understandable impulse, given the asshole quotient involved,” I said with a smile.
“Try counting to ten before you start kicking ass, love,” he said before he kissed me.
I poured all my love and all my fears into that kiss, finally moving back. A few feet away, Chase let Rori down, her face flushed. “We should go,” he told her.
“You have the presentation?”
He grabbed the laptop from the table. “Teri went over it with us, she and Spider Monkey did a great job putting it together,” Chase said. “Coral will run the slides, and I’ll brief Frank on the contents before his testimony. You can pray that the Alphas listen to the whole thing before they overreact.”
“They’re going to overreact,” Rori agreed. “We need you to stay calm and weather the storm. You know that Oxbow, Cascade, Adirondack, and Donner will vote in a block with us because of our blood ties. Monongahela, Denali, and Casper are solidly against us. Banff, Blue River, and Katahdin are key; we need two of three to vote with us.”
“One is enough to force a tie,” I said.
“No, because Arrowhead won’t get a vote when it concerns us. All three have voted to help us in the past, but do your part to smooth things over with them.” She turned to Chase. “I wish I could be there.”
“I can’t put you at risk, love. Things could easily get out of hand.” Chase kissed her again, I gave Rori a quick hug, and we went down the stairs to the mudroom. Our driver, Warrior Lance, had our Ford Expedition warming up in the garage as we stepped out. Chase opened the front door for me; as Beta, I would ride shotgun. He got behind me, and we pulled out.
“Have you talked to Mom since last night,” I asked.
“No, we’ve been trying to avoid anything that could tie back to us. Teri Skyped with her last night and gave her the information she would need. A lot depends on how the meeting this morning goes.”
“She meets at eleven-thirty our time,” I said. “That’s not a lot of room for a bunch of Alpha Males to quit posturing and decide something.”
“I know. I hate politics. I’m hoping Frank Grimes is enough to beat some sense into them, so I don’t have to.” The drive was silent; I sent back and forth with my mate until the distance got too far. The guards at the entrance to Oxbow Lake waved us through, recognizing our faces. Lance pulled in front of the Pack House, and two of the Omegas came over to open our doors. I got out first, looking around for any threats, then Chase got out beside me. There were a few Alphas and Betas near the door as we arrived; some greeted us with smiles, others with glares.
Yeah, this was going to be fun. Luna Margaret spotted us, and she looked harried from all the hassle of dealing with a Summit on short notice. “Chase, Coral,” she said as she came over. “Welcome.”
“Sorry to put you through this,” Chase said as he gave her a quick hug. “How are you holding up?”
“You owe me big time,” she said with a laugh before she hugged me. “Come on, Frank is in our office. Stay close to him, Coral, the long knives are out today.”
“I’m on it, Luna.” I waited outside as Frank and Chase talked, then he came back out a few minutes before eight. We greeted some friendly faces as we made our way to the meeting room. The large conference table had nameplates at each spot, with chairs against the wall behind each of the Alpha positions for the Betas. We all took our places, then when the Council sat, the rest of us followed.
Chase was sitting to the right of Alpha Michael, the host Alpha for the gathering. He opened the meeting, welcomed them all to Oxbow Lake, and performed the introductions of the Alphas. To his right were my two brothers, Alpha Sawyer of Donner and Alpha Carson of Cascade Pack. My uncle by mating, Alpha Martin Smith of the Adirondack Pack, was to their right. Alpha John Coffey of Banff and Alpha Steven March from Casper sat at the end. To Alpha Michael’s left were the Alphas I was worried about; Alpha Henry Millner of Blue River, Alpha Richard Long from Bitterroot, Alpha Alan Robertson from Denali, Alpha Matthew Kirk of Monongahela. Alpha Paxton Blackledge of Katahdin sat at the end.
The Council didn’t look happy at all, and like Rori suspected, Chairman Coffey was glaring at Chase. To his left were the two North American Council Members. Oscar Millner was the former Alpha of the Blue River Pack, and Nathan Kirk was the former Alpha of Monongahela. On the other side were the European members, Yakov Baronsky from Russia and Jurgen Nemmers from Germany.
I stayed alert, watching the Alphas and Betas in case any made a move. Our allied Betas made a block in the middle of the room, and I expected any issues to come from the left.
“I have called this Alpha Summit because we are all in danger of having our true natures exposed in the near future. There will be plenty of time for blame and recriminations later, but this meeting is to chart a way forward in the reality we face.”
“What has that bitch done now,” Alpha Henry said. I saw Chase stiffen, and a few of the other Alphas were posturing aggressively.
“It’s their involvement with the Steel Brotherhood!” Alpha Alan said as his hand slammed down on the table. “You are all over the fucking news, and the Feds are crawling up your ass. We tried to warn you, and you didn’t listen. Now you endanger us all?” He looked at Chairman Coffey. “I move to sanction the Arrowhead Pack immediately. Alpha Nygaard and his mate should be removed immediately pending trial, and the Pack placed under Council control.”
Many Alphas agreed while others looked shocked. Sawyer was the first to respond. “You can’t remove a sitting Alpha without formal charges and a trial,” he said. “We aren’t here for that. Whether Chase and Rori are Alphas or not, humans are about to find out about us with all that entails.”
Everyone looked to the Chairman, who looked ready to explode. “I visited the Arrowhead Pack a few days ago and personally told Alpha Rori that she had to distance herself from humans and follow our laws. I specifically instructed her that the Council would not approve any more requests for Trusted Affiliates. Any further humans who find out our secret are to be killed immediately.” He looked at me. “If she disobeyed my warning, and that is the cause of this breach, you will not save her. Her life will be forfeit.”
Chase let out a growl, and Sawyer had to hold him in his seat. Alpha Michael stood up. “As the Chairman said, formal charges must be filed, and the Alphas are entitled to put up a defense. All of which we can deal with once we figure out what to do WHEN our secret is revealed. WHEN, not IF,” he said.
“How do you know this?”
“Coral, the presentation please,” Chase said. I opened my laptop as the four television screens around the room came to life. “The Federal Government started looking into my background and Rori’s after the events in Orlando.”
“Your biker friends are trouble,” Alpha Matthew said.
“It’s more than that; the Sons are led by Jaguar shifters, and he could be pulling us into a war with the cats,” Alpha Nathan added.
I got the presentation up on the screen, and between Chairman Coffey and Alpha Michael, Chase managed to get through it with minimal interruptions. The last slide showed a diagram, with Chase and Rori’s names in the middle, linked by lines to other names. “What is this,” the Chairman said.
The door opened and Luna Margaret walked in with Frank Grimes at her side. “That is the status of the Government’s investigation into the relationships between Alphas Chase and Rori and those in this room,” Frank said.
“Who the hell are you,” Chairman Coffey said. “A HUMAN?”
“Yes, just that. My name is Frank Grimes, I’m the former Director of the Los Angeles office of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and I am here to help.” It was almost funny watching the reactions as the Alphas and Council processed that he was human, he knew about us, and he was with Law Enforcement.
“I warned her NOT to expose our nature to another human, and she turns around and does THIS?” The Chairman was furious, his wolf starting to push forward.
“Frank Grimes is a good man. He and I worked closely to move against the Sons of Tezcatlipoca before it got even worse,” Chase said. “Even now, he is suspended from his job and under investigation because he still is protecting me. He fought bravely yesterday, keeping men from reaching my bedroom where my family was hiding. He is under the protection of my Pack, and he is here because of his expertise in Law Enforcement.” Chase stared down the other Alphas, waiting until the Chairman sat back down. “Frank, care to explain this?”
“One of the tools of law enforcement is social network mapping. If you think back to the movie ‘The Godfather,’ when the FBI agents were writing down license plate numbers of the wedding guests? They were using that to find out who the other Families were, by tracing the personal interactions between a person of interest and others. You go to those people, dig into THEIR interactions, and map it out using sophisticated software. We can map organized crime, drug cartels, gangs, practically any organization can be mapped out from the outside with the right data. The programs the FBI and DEA use have a lot of data sources we can use to build them.”
“Like what,” Carson asked.
“Phone records are the easiest. Electronic communications like text messages emails. Surveillance data, like where you go and who you see. Bank transfers. Social media like Facebook and Instagram. All the data goes into the system, and analysts look for patterns. They haven’t been doing this long, but the diagram shows how far they have already gotten.” I handed him a laser pointer, and he pointed to Chase’s box in the center of the diagram. “For ease of understanding, family interactions are red for blood, friends or acquaintances are blue, and business green. The thicker the line, the stronger the tie between the two people. Coral, filter family only,” he said. I selected the color, and most of the people and lines disappeared. “This is the easiest, but it shows all of the relationships they’ve identified for both Rori and I. Multiple Packs are included, and not just Alphas.” He told me to bring in Friends. “To simplify matters, I’ve had Coral set it so that human acquaintances are hidden, leaving only Packs, and only direct contacts to Rori and I. Here’s the first level.” There were a lot of lines, a lot of people. “Now we add in what they have found from the next level.” The number of people went up tenfold, with Pack members listed under their Alphas. “Give them another day, and they will have identified every member of every Pack in North America, just filtering by this software and organizing by location.”
“By Luna, we’re fucked,” someone said.
“There’s more,” Frank said. “In the attack on Chase’s home, two of his wolves were killed in wolf form. Their bodies were sampled for DNA before being returned for disposal, and crime scene has processed the scene. In two days, the results will come back that show ONLY human DNA is present, no Canine. They will ask questions and dig in further. Discovery of what you are is going to happen gentlemen.”
“Arrowhead has killed us ALL,” Councilman Kirk said as he leaned back.
“It was inevitable,” Frank said. “You men think you can exist side by side with humans and keep your secret, and you are fooling yourselves. Technology beats hiding. We have satellites, drones, surveillance cameras, facial recognition software, trail cams, DNA tests, fingerprinting, REAL ID laws, property records… it’s all against you. Without control of the databases, you will not be able to shift identities, transfer properties, and hide your true age any longer. How long after the Government realizes you are a century old and look to be thirty before they wonder why? You don’t have the numbers to fight them, and you are too exposed and dependent on them to survive on your own.”
Chase picked it up from there. “It’s a new age, and we as a people need to get ahead of it. Frank has a contact high in government, and my Mother is meeting with him three hours from now. We have provided her with information that she can use to go two ways. One is to pressure the Government to stop looking into me, in exchange for additional information on the Sons and the compromised agents they still have. The other packet provides proof that werewolves exist, and seeks to make a deal.”
“Why would the Government listen to her,” the Chairman asked Frank.
“Because I sent her. Colletta Nygaard has claimed me as her mate, and she can be the bridge to lead us into this new age.”
“MADNESS!” Alpha Millner stood up, shaking in anger. “This CANNOT be allowed, humans cannot mix with us!”
“I love her, and she loves me,” Frank said.
I should have been faster, I thought as I jumped forward in reaction to Alpha Millner’s lunge. Frank had no chance to defend himself against werewolf speed. The Blue Ridge Pack Alpha partially shifted, claws extending from his right hand and slicing like butter through Frank’s neck. Blood sprayed everywhere as I crashed into the Alpha, knocking him onto the table. We both shifted and started tearing chunks out of each other as we fought on the fancy table.
Frank was my responsibility, and Henry Millner had killed him. His death would kill my mother’s wolf, then her.