Chase Nygaard’s POV
Oxbow Lake Conference Room
Frank’s blood filled the air before I could get out of my seat.
I stood and turned just as Coral leaped for Alpha Henry Millner, knocking him on the table. I moved to catch Frank, who was holding his throat as blood sprayed out. “The CLINIC,” I yelled as my fingers moved to his throat. Reaching in, I pinched off the artery as two of the Betas picked him up. They carried him by the shoulders and legs as I ran alongside.
Luna Margaret was outside the room and had doors opened for us along the way. Doc was waiting as we ran into the treatment room and set Frank down on the table. “Vascular clamp,” I said as he came to my side. When he was ready, I let go, and he reached in and clamped off the artery. Looking up, it was eight forty-two in the morning. The damaged artery supplied the brain, and permanent damage would occur in less than five minutes. Blood loss had already rendered Frank unconscious.
“I have the artery, you get the airway,” Doc said. “Tracheotomy kit in the second cabinet, bottom shelf.” I grabbed the kit and tore the bag open, removing the plastic components. The front of his throat had been severed, and the bleeding was interfering with his respirations. I clamped the trachea and the esophagus top and bottom. Now he couldn’t breathe either.
I made an incision between the ridges of the trachea just above his chest, inserting the tracheostomy tube to restore his airway. I saw one of the Betas standing there. “Beta, come here,” I said. I attached the bag to the tube. “You need to help him breathe. Squeeze once, count to four, squeeze again.” I demonstrated, then he took over.
His nurse finished hanging an IV. “He needs blood,” I said.
Doc shook his head no. “He’s human; all we have is werewolf blood. We have O Neg ready in case some of the Alphas got in a fight, but we’ve never transfused humans with it.”
I had human blood at Arrowhead, but he wouldn’t survive another few minutes, much less the twenty minutes it would take to get the human blood here. He wouldn’t survive an ambulance ride to the hospital, either. “Use it, large bore needles and squeeze it in.” I quickly attached the monitoring equipment; Frank’s blood pressure was dangerously low, and his heart was struggling to pump. I pulled on gloves and moved to assist Doc with the surgery. “How is the wound?”
“I’ve clamped the artery and cleaned the ends, hold this while I stitch.” I moved the light to show it better and held the clamps in place. He grabbed a stitch kit and worked fast, his decades of experience making his sutures faster than mine could be. “Nothing fancy, we’ll get blood flow back and then go back and fix any leaks,” he said. As soon as he had enough stitches in, he told me to release the clamps. Frank’s blood pressure dropped as Doc frantically sutured the leaks closed.
The monitors alarmed. “No pulse,” the nurse said.
He’d lost enough blood that his heart couldn’t fill. I hopped up on the table, straddling him as the nurse continued to hang blood bags. “Commencing CPR.” I positioned my hands, then started the rapid compressions needed to move blood again. “Time the breaths at the end of my sets,” I told the Beta as I worked.
More people showed up; Doc must have sent out a call for CPR-trained people to assist. I got off after my fourth set. “Adrenaline and a cardiac needle,” I told the nurse as I cut his shirt off. She drew the injection up, and I carefully placed it at the right point on his chest. “Stop compressions,” I ordered. He sat back, and I inserted the needle, shooting the stimulant directly into his heart. “Come on, dammit,” I whispered as I waited for a beat.
“We’ve got a pulse,” the nurse said. “Forty and climbing.”
“Keep fighting, Frank. Colletta needs you.” I had the guy get off the table, but told them to stick around outside just in case. Frank had received most of one IV bag and two pints of blood with another two hanging.
I moved back to look at the neck. The artery was complete, and Doc was finishing up the esophagus. I assisted Doc as we put his neck back together, stitch by stitch. It took us almost forty minutes to reconnect the muscles, tendons, and veins. I used over a hundred stitches on his skin as we closed up. He looked like Frankenstein; the claws had gone into the neck just above his left collarbone, slicing deep to exit under the hinge of his jaw on the right side. His vital signs were still weak, but he had a chance now.
Doc injected strong anti-biotics into his IV, then we were done. Both of us looked like extras in a horror movie; our clothing covered in blood, even on our faces and in our hair. It had sprayed onto the walls of the room and soaked the bed. His nurse looked us over. “Shower and change,” she said. “I’ll get help to clean him up and move him to another room.”
“Good idea.” I pulled off my clothes, dumping them all in the hamper by the door. Doc’s office had its an attached shower he would use, so I walked down the hall to the bathroom. It had a wheelchair-accessible shower, and I got in as soon as it warmed up. I stood under the spray, the pink water moving slowly towards the drain. I made use of the shampoo and soap in dispensers on the wall, and the white washcloth turned pink with the blood. As I was cleaning my friend’s blood off, the enormity of what just happened hit me. I’d left during the fight, and no one had disturbed me while I worked to save him. I hadn’t stayed around to deal with the Council or the Alphas; I’d reacted with my medical training and saved Frank’s life.
It was the right thing for a Doctor, but I was an Alpha too. I didn’t even know what happened with Coral! How was Mom going to react? Did the Alphas remove us from power? Did we even have a Pack now? So much could have gone bad, and I wasn’t there.
“Sis? Are you all right?”
There was no answer. I finished the shower and dried off, finding clean scrubs and slippers on the counter. Heading back out, I felt my attitude shift to Alpha mode. Arrowhead was going to protect our human friends, and we would never separate from them. We were going to have to drag the Council and the Packs into the future, a future where we lived in peace with the humans.
Coral Sexson’s POV
Oxbow Lake Conference Room
I snapped at Alpha Millner’s shoulder, my teeth slicing through the fur and skin before I moved away again. We were slipping on the smooth tabletop as we fought, the polished surface not designed for wolf paws and nails. “ENOUGH!” The command of an Alpha froze me where I stood unsteadily on my four legs. Henry slid off the table, and he stopped fighting as well. We both looked over to Chairman Coffey, who looked furious. “Take it outside to the ring,” he said.
I was more than happy to do that. The Alphas opened the doors, and I ran out into the cold. The ring was around the back of the Pack House, a grassy area surrounded by waist-high boulders, with only one entrance. Of course, it was about ten below with a foot of snow on the ground, but my wolf didn’t care. I was worried the Council would stop me from exacting my revenge, or worse, they would agree with his action. In the ring, I could have his blood. My wolf and I were ready.
I ran into the ring, waiting for the others to arrive. Chase was busy, and Alpha Michael came over to me to act as my Second. The other Alphas and Betas stood on or behind the boulders as they waited. “Henry deserves to die for this,” Michael said, “But I don’t like you being the one to do it.” I rubbed my face along his thigh; it was all right. I had been a fighter all my life, I was Alpha blood on both sides, and my wolf could take his. “Henry hasn’t faced a challenge in decades. He tries to end the fight quickly, using his superior size and strength. Don’t let him knock you on your back or it’s over. Use your speed and wear him down, make him bleed and work for it. He’s not in near the shape you are.” I yipped to let him know I understood.
His wolf was pacing on the other side of the ring. His wolf was grey with white socks and belly, and he was above average size for an Alpha male. He outweighed me by about seventy pounds and stood almost a foot higher. He carried himself with the confidence of a seasoned Alpha; he had acted decisively, and I knew he had planned it. It showed in the way he moved close enough that no one could stop him.
I was going to enjoy watching him bleed out into the snow.
“This isn’t right,” Alpha Long said. “If the Arrowhead Beta wants to challenge Alpha Millner, there is a process to follow. The Pack has to support her.”
“This isn’t an Alpha challenge; this is dispute resolution,” Sawyer replied. “Alpha Millner attacked a person under Beta Sexson’s protection, a person tied to her family. She is entitled to this fight to find justice.”
“Alpha Sawyer is correct,” the Chairman said. “The combatants have voluntarily entered the Circle. The fight is to death or submission, the choice being with the victor. Seconds, exit the circle.” Alpha Michael scratched my ears and walked off. The snow was cold and dry; it would pack enough to give me a grip but not so much I would slip. I moved back and forth, waiting for the signal.
“Sis, I’ve seen him fight before,” Sawyer sent. “He likes to rear up on his back legs, holding with his front paws as he goes for a bite. It’s a dominance thing, and he would have the advantage with his weight.”
“Use it.” I turned towards the Alpha, moving forward a few steps. I stood tall, growling deeply with my teeth bared and hackles up. He growled back, ready to pounce.
“FIGHT,” the Chairman said.
I took off towards him, gathering my back legs as I saw him do the same just before we would crash together. He lifted up, but I faked the same before lunging forward under him. My teeth ripped into his back left leg, tearing at the fur and muscle before I darted away. He raked his claws across my back, but I was out of there before his jaws snapped on air.
He let out a furious roar as he took off after me. I avoided him, moving quickly and trying to stay on the side of his injured leg. This was my kind of fight; move quickly, avoid the big male, and make him pay with my counter-attacks. The snow soon packed down and turned red with blood as my teeth kept striking home. I wasn’t unscathed, but my legs were still good.
He was becoming desperate as the battle turned in my favor. Henry’s backers were shouting for him to take me down, and he tried to rush me. The last four times I had dodged to my left, but this time I kept turning and ran for the edge. He was right behind me, focused on my back legs, and his teeth caught only air as I leaped into the air. He saw too late where I had led him, and skidded into the big boulder with a loud thud. I pushed off the rounded edge, sailing over him as I twisted in the air. I landed and bit down hard on his back right leg, shaking until I heard the bone snap.
He howled in agony as he turned towards me, his teeth catching my ear and shredding it as I stepped back. I grinned with my bloody muzzle as I circled him; with both back legs hurt, the advantage was now mine. He put up a good fight, one worthy of an Alpha. It didn’t matter; he had no base, he couldn’t spin or lunge, and I was still as fast as when we started.
I took him apart piece by piece. Blood loss was weakening him, and the snow around him turned red.
I could get him to submit, but he didn’t deserve to live. He had already killed Frank, and who knows how much trouble that could bring with the humans. If he survived, he would be one of the Alphas who would vote to dissolve my Pack. He had to die.
I waited for the right moment as I darted in and out, dealing pain with each bite. I ripped open his shoulder, he raised his head and howled in pain, and that opening was all I needed. Lunging forward, I took his neck between my teeth and bit down hard.
He struggled, but I pushed him onto his back while holding on. His paws tried to claw at my stomach, one last attempt to turn the tide, but I spun away. I shook my head, tearing his neck out, then spat the chunk of flesh into the snow next to his head.
I could hear him struggling to breathe as I turned my back on him. It was the ultimate insult for a wolf, your enemy not considering you a danger to them. I shifted back as I walked towards the entrance to the circle, where Sawyer and Carson were waiting for me. “Good job, sis,” Sawyer said as he wrapped me in a blanket. I relaxed into my big brother as he picked me up off the cold snow.
“What happens now,” I asked.
“Let’s get you patched up first, Coral.” He started to walk me towards the Pack Clinic.
“Where’s Chase,” I asked as he carried me through Clinic doors that Carson was holding open.
“Still in surgery with Frank,” one of the warriors standing outside the room said.
“He’s still alive?”
“He’s a fighter, Alpha Coral.” It was at that point that it hit me; I had defeated an Alpha in battle, and I could claim his Pack or reject it.
Sawyer carried me into an empty room, laying me on the exam table. “Since the people with medical skills are busy, you get us,” he said with a smile as he pulled out bandages and alcohol. “This won’t hurt too much, I think.”
He was wrong. It stung like a bitch, but an Alpha didn’t show weakness.