The new red wolf yawned and stretched its legs out in front, the long line of the body showing the muscles and strength, and I realized this was the first red female anyone had probably seen in an age. She was hypnotizing and elegant if a word could be given to a temperamental and dangerous creature.
The group stiffened as the wolf became self aware and suddenly realized where she was, surrounded. She snarled and became defensive, she was ferocious. It was as if the wolf had been in a cage for 28 years, unloved, never knowing kindness or human contact, and now everyone would suffer for her isolation. She snapped sporadically as the human circle tightened, allowing for no gaps, no way to escape.
Iona squeezed my shoulder and I walked confidently in and kneeled halfway to her, holding out my hand.
“Come here, Red.”
She snarled at me and ignored my command, eyeing the pack members closest to her. I put some depth and cadence to my voice, and called out again,
“Red! Come here! I’m your Alpha, I won’t hurt you.” It was true. She was the pinnacle of everything wolves strived for. Her body had clean slick lines, the fur was thick and soft, teeth white and sharp. I moved to her until she decided I was too close and snapped at me
Flashing out my hand, I grabbed her by the scruff but she still managed to nip my wrist enough to draw blood. I held her tight and was thankful for my naturally large frame and strength.
Flipping her onto her back, I crouched over the wolf’s body, pinning her and holding her head in my two hands. With my palms on either side of her snout, I forced her to look at me, to listen and obey.
She wouldn’t look me in the eye, continuing to try and wrangle out of my hold. It was like she already had an Alpha, and she was choosing to ignore my dominance. I shook my head at my stupidity. Red came from an Alpha, she was literally my equal. Just to look at this wolf, it was clear that she was not meant to yield to anyone. I could imagine Kelly inside probably laughing at me, finding it hilarious that I was trying to dominate a wild beast with logic.
Fuck it, I didn’t need her submission now. I needed her to focus, she still had a man to kill. I motioned over to my father, who grudgingly walked forward with Vince’s shirt.
“Red, listen up.” I grabbed the ratty shirt and forced it into her nose, smothering her in it. She became frantic with the act, but paused a second, breathing deeply. Recognizing the man’s smell, she started into a frenzy, twisting in my grip. I grabbed her one last time.
“Kill him, baby,” I whispered and then walked back to the edge of the circle, nodding to my father that she was ready.
That meth head of a Beta didn’t stand a chance against this force of nature. It drove me crazy two weeks ago when Kelly had unknowingly chosen, and everyone all thought he would get off with a few bites, including him. He was fucking smug about it. Everyone had seemed to forget what kind of wolf Ewan Jones was for all his grace, he was still big and menacing by all accounts. Kelly’s wolf wasn’t any larger than I or Deian, but she would sure as hell scare the shit out of anyone facing her.
My father’s guard dragged Vince in, blindfolded and he was knelt in the ring. The guard ripped the material away from his eyes as he left, and he and the wolf stared at each other across the circle. Her teeth bared and posed as if she was stalking dinner, his eyes widened at the sight of the rabid red wolf.
Vince warily stood, his hands stretched out in front of him, trying to ward her off or fill the space between them. He knew.
“Woah woah woah, there girl.” Vince looked over to my father, quickly glancing so he didn’t give the beast a chance.
“Do I get a knife in this fight or what?”
My father felt his back pocket, not recalling that I had his knife.
“No. You don’t.” I confidently called out. Deian grimaced in my direction. Of course he would try to help his Beta survive. But Deian had forgotten the most important thing in our upcoming transition. I fucking hated him and his trash, and it was hauling day.
Red was starting to circle around the man, forcing him to move and sidestep with her. She crossed in front of me and I watched her body, taut with intent. They circled around twice, Vince starting to lick his lips, his brow visibly coated in sweat and fear. Good.
Remembering all the times that the poor excuse for a Were had beaten on me for some insane reason or another was why I wanted to lead this pack someday. For the revenge I would take on him and all the others, that she would enact. To leave them in the dust and have all remember their time as a fucking joke.
Red was starting to get anxious for blood and stopped the circling dance they were doing, now she was crouched and approached him from the front. Quickly a few steps back, then forth, giving a snap aimed towards his ankles. Vince backed away into the members but was promptly pushed back into the open space. The wolf went in on her own dance again with his ankles, looking for an in, when Vince decided to take initiative and stepped towards her, his fist raised and aimed to bring down on her back.
She snuck to the side, but not before his fist glanced off the side of her skull. Still moving down in his momentum though, Red swung behind him and dug her teeth into his back ankle, locking her jaw around his Achilles. The man’s hands fell to the ground and he tried to twist around to grab her. Red jumped back though and circled him again. Vince gritted a pained moan through his teeth. He knelt on one knee and stood up to face her again. The wolf repeated the same process, but this time for the other ankle, ensuring he wouldn’t be able to circumvent her again. He wasn’t going anywhere.
There was an eerie quiet among the members around the circle, watching with wide eyes as their Beta, a well known, but feared, asshole was most certainly not going to be leaving tonight. The Maddock pack most certainly had feuds, but not many deaths for fear of retribution. It was clear though, as the wolf now circled a crippled Vince, that was not the case.
Vince got to his knees now breathing hard and trying to manage the pain while keeping his wits, she circled him once more before charging and launching her whole body on him. The pair fell to the dirt together, and the crowd started to jeer while I paced again. In between the mix of fur and skin, Vince’s fist could be seen flying, while the wolf kept their bodies close. Vince, knowing well that he had to keep his head down to his chest not to expose his neck to her, couldn’t stop her from biting his face though as he tried to push her off.
After a moment of their scuffle and Vince alternating between punching her in the ribs and trying to push her off, he finally raised his head and shrieked, showing a bloody eye.
The wolf’s head also raised up to the sky and her jaws cracked something between them. His eye. She fucking bit out his eye and ate it. Using her distraction, he rolled and she fell to the side. He cupped his hand over his face, now spewing blood and crawled over to the side of the circle to my father who was breathing heavily and in a trance at the sight.
“Deian,...” he pleaded. This was where the Alpha would usually call for an end. An assault on a member would have been satisfied. But on a Luna? On my Luna? It wasn’t enough, and from a few members down, I called out to them both,
“To the end, Vince.” And both of them looked to me, Vince in horror and my father in fury at my dictation.
Kelly, not giving a flying fuck the men were speaking, grabbed a hold of Vince’s torn ankle and dragged him into the center. He rolled onto his back to meet her, but she came up too quickly and finally latched onto his neck. The man still had some fight in him and punched her in the snout and I winced, but she held on while he struggled.
After a moment, Vince’s wails turned muffled, like he was underwater, and his attention turned from her to his own failing body. His throat was bleeding out and it was the most satisfying sound I had ever heard. I smiled with pride. Kelly, the wolf, whoever was driving this show, was vicious and would suit our family perfectly.
The wolf, sensing Vince was now in the death throes, readjusted her grip, and thrashed her head back and forth, trying to pull whatever she had latched onto out from his throat. After a few more moments of whipping her head, she eventually pulled away, a long piece of muscle in her jaws. This time it was his trachea.
Blood started to flow freely and unrestricted from the moving corpse, surrounding and lining his body in the dirt. Vince now lying prostrate gave a few more whimpers. His arms attempted to raise a few more times, but eventually stopped and we all held the silence while Red ate his throat. The smell of blood was now thick in the air and was now causing heavy breathing around the circle.
The red wolf backed away from the dead body warily, on guard that she hadn’t really killed him and he might still get back up. She suddenly shivered, her whole body convulsing in a wave, like she got a chill of perverse pleasure from his murder. Her muzzle was dripping in blood and her hot panting clouded against the slight chill in the air.
Holy mother, I had never seen anything as enthralling and was breathing hard at the sight. I had of course killed other men or wolves from other packs, but something about seeing the first kill from this wolf was something out of old stories of the Hergest, the legends of the Celts. Red was goddamn savage and looked untameable. And she was mine.
I stepped forward to her, when suddenly a movement from my right stopped me. My father also stepped into the space at the same time, a look of desire on his face, and I turned in anger to him. Seeing that face, I knew exactly what was happening in that perverse mind and my hackles rose at the sight.
He was going back on his word, our deal. He wanted to own her. What she had divulged to me on the boat wasn’t really a surprise. The asshole had always considered himself and I as rivals when it came to women. But trying to get her to have some kind of sordid affair after we had made our deal was a new low.
In the circle, Red was starting to snap in anxiousness at the restlessness of the crowd, feeling their rising excitement. She suddenly sprinted towards the opposite side of the ring, charging the men there so they had to move aside. Behind me, I nodded towards Aaron’s light brown wolf and he took off after her.
My father stood out in the middle of the circle, breathing heavily, psyching himself up, psyching the pack up for a shift. He would never change, I realized. Always the same selfish asshole who would never think of his son first. But now I had a reason to put me first, and he wanted her.
He turned to me and we locked eyes, a silent exchange passing between us, and he threw off his cloak. Through the thin linen pants he was erect. This fucking man, wanting to steal a future from his own son because he felt his had been stolen. Meeting my heated stare, I grunted and walked forward, raising my voice for all,
“I challenge Alpha Deian for the pack.”
My father’s jaw snapped towards me, not surprised but angry. Good ole crazed Deian Maddock had appeared and I detested the sight of him.
His canines had elongated and eyes had turned, that bastard wolf of his was itching for it too.
“We fight as men!” I bit out across the space and I spoke softly so only he and I could hear over the growing barks and rumbles of the members on the outside, readying for another fight.
“I want to see your face when I do it, old man.”
He paused in his stride around the circle, a little fear entering his features. Good. He knew, just like Vince, where this would end. The Alpha wolves were more or less equals, and his had lost his mind a little over the years enough to lose any fear. And to die as a wolf would be peaceful for the man. But as a man, he would feel it all.
Now that Red had started up their blood lust, the pack, already some half changed, was eager for more and were excitedly jostling each other for another fight. It was the way with wolves, always hungry for more.
At his acceptance, I removed my shirt and threw it to Iona, now standing among the near frenzied members with a look of worry on her face. “Get out of here, Iona.” I muttered to her when her eyes suddenly glanced to my right and I turned with them. My father had closed the space between us and aimed his right hook to my already bruised cheek, knocking me to the ground.
A loud cheer erupted from the men watching, and his boot connected with my gut on the ground. I sucked in air before my father’s hand found my scalp and pulled it up and back to scathingly confess into my ear while he put a knee in my back.
“Don’t worry, son. I’ll take good care of her. I’ll even let her out to walk around every now and then.” I growled alongside my inner wolf who was now chomping at the bit to be let out. Since Deian was speaking low into my ear, I aimed a fist up to where his face should be.
It connected and he lumbered back, stumbling off my back. Quickly regaining my feet, I looked down at him, remembering all those boring years of warfare tutoring. End it quickly. Deian was crafty, but I was stronger. The longer this went on, the less chance I had. I caught him by the ankle and yanked him off balance.
Swiftly moving behind him, I grabbed his head in a lock and he tensed his neck muscles against mine. Our roles were now reversed and I strained my arms against his chin, trying to break his neck. A hand came up against my face and I felt a sharp line being drawn across my cheek and down, searing in pain. The bastard had let his wolf take over enough for his claws to come out and mark my face. I felt blood starting to seep out and down my chin.
Marking his own son, another scar. I mimicked him and leaned into his ear for a final goodbye as his strength was waning and he was resorting to desperate tactics.
“The wrong parent died that night,” I whispered and with a final strain, lifted his neck up and to the side. The satisfying crunch of the top of his spine breaking apart sounded under my forearm and my Da went limp. I heaved breath in and out while the others surrounding us started to roar with the death and I let my exaltation and ridding the world of the worst part of my life with a howl to the sky. It was quickly followed by all there, creating a deafening howl that most likely was heard by the nearest village.
I threw his body off and let it lie a few feet away from the dead Beta, nearly floating in his own blood. It was a perfect picture, throwing out the dead weight of the pack while a new generation rose. A new era of red wolves reborn. It was fucking thrilling thought and I howled again and let my wall down, letting the wolf in. As I felt my eyes bleed into his, my canines grow and my whole body start to change, I bellowed to the others with a fevered air,
“You fuckers run to the North,” and I looked to the South, where Red had taken off, where she had run from me, again. My blood boiled with lust and fire after the kills, and I could smell her must. It drove me wild and I looked at the place she exited in excitement.
“I’ve got a bride to catch.”