11. Yes or no
The silence is deafening after my question, and all present sit still as if they’re bewitched into statues. Their opinions regarding my decision to ask Blake if he wants to become my gamma don’t matter anymore; it’s his answer that does. The younger members we bring here tend to behave like hormonal power-seeking brats who haven’t learned manners. I don’t know how many times I have to prove to them why I’m the alpha and given my luck in life; I can guarantee that it’ll happen more times.
“I’m honored that you think of me at all for such a high-esteem position in your pack. Can I have a few days to ponder my answer?” Blake asks and looks at me uncertainly.
“Of course! I don’t expect to get an answer right away; I understand that you and your own must have the opportunity to discuss the decision. It would mean great changes, not only for my pack but also for you as a clan. I can give you three days to think it over, and then I must have an answer,” I answer thoughtfully with a little smile playing on my lips.
“Thank you, I really appreciate it, alpha,” he replies, smiling back.
The silence breaks after our brief conversation, and conversing around the table resumes. I’m chatting with the new vampire next to me, and it turns out we have a lot in common. At first, he’s silent, and to call him insecure would be an understatement. He’s got to start standing up for himself, or he’ll get trampled. Lucas is pretty funny; he jokes and relaxes the more we talk to each other. Blake looks our way sometimes and smiles when he sees the newborn vampire talking to someone without fear. Everyone stays until the food is eaten, but I stand up to speak before anyone can walk away.
“Barry, you’ll be punished for your past conduct and opinion,” I say, and everyone around the table listens carefully out of curiosity, especially the vampires who don’t know how we punish our members.
“What will be my punishment, alpha?” Barry asks with a low whine.
“You’re going to fight me,” I respond, and others gasp in the room.
“Fight you? But there’s no way I can do it!” he exclaims with wide eyes.
“Wasn’t it you who called me a weak alpha earlier?”
“Yes, I did. But-.”
“Well, if I’m a weak alpha, prove it by fighting me. I saw it as a challenge for the alpha title. If you win, then you’re the alpha and can do whatever you want with the pack. But if I win, you’ll start to pull yourself together and do as you’re told,” I growl and slap my fist on the table.
He nods slowly and looks like he’ll start crying at any moment. Barry is young, and I’m aware of how young, inexperienced werewolf males behave. It’s difficult for them to maintain control when they haven’t trained themselves in controlling their wolves, but this isn’t the first time it happens.
“You have ten minutes to get to the training grounds; the rules are brought up before the fight begins,” I say and walk away.
The newborn vampire, Blake, and Luis follow me shortly afterward. We stroll towards the site slowly, enjoying the sun’s rays. I’ve got a plan with this, and my companions understand it. Otherwise, they would’ve tried to stop me. My goal is simple, teach him to think before he does.
“Blake, can you be kind and tell the rules when the time comes?” I ask without opening my eyes.
“I don’t know the rules, alpha,” he answers hesitantly.
“Luis, can you please inform our potential gamma about the rules of fights regarding the alpha title?”
“Needless to say,” he replies, and I shut out all the sounds to concentrate on my breathing.
To avoid losing control later, I have to prepare my temper and hybrid about what’s to come. We can’t lose control; if we do, we might kill Barry by accident. I know he can’t win, so I won’t kill him but will continue until he submits. I sit on the grass without looking and feel that Lucas does the same. We don’t talk but enjoy the sounds of nature and the sun’s warmth while waiting for the minutes to pass. In the end, it’s time, and I open my eyes to watch the spectators. My eyes have changed color to my hybrid; we’re one.
“Can both fighters step into the ring,” Luis says out loud for everyone to hear.
I enter first with confident steps while Barry stumbles on unsteady legs of uncertainty. He’s scared, and even though he should be, it’s never a good idea to show it to your opponent; it makes you weak. I smile softly at him to show that this is for his own good.
“The rules are as follows:
One. The fight goes on as long as it takes; only submission or death can release you.
Two. No one else is allowed to intervene under any circumstances.
Three. No one gets to mindlink any of the fighters.
Four. You have to stay inside the ring all the time.
Five. Barry can shift at any time while Aleida isn’t allowed to shift at all,” Blake clearly states.
“It’ll be unfair if she doesn’t get to shift!” one of the spectators exclaim.
“I’m a good warrior and can handle myself without shifting, trust me,” I answer and wink to the others.
Barry immediately looks calmer when he realizes that I seriously can’t shift during the fight, which is another stupid idea for his part. Never ever in a war do you have permission to relax, not if you want to get out of there with your life intact. I stand in a defensive position and wait.
Barry doesn’t hesitate for a second to pounce on me, which is a stupid idea, considering that I’m smaller in size and faster than him. I slip between his legs and give him a neck stroke that makes him fall forward. He slowly gets up and looks at me with rage. Again, he uses way too much strength and too little strategy, making the match easier. We continue like this for half an hour; only now, he shifts to his light gray wolf, and let me tell you; that wolf is pissed. Attacking someone in pure rage is also not a good idea because he acts before thinking. I grab his throat and throw him on the ground in a pile with a thud. At least one of his ribs is now broken, and I literally knock the air out of him. Barry’s trying to get up, but now I’m tired of his behavior. I growl at him and straddle his body. His head is stuck between my arm and my upper body; he won’t be able to get out of my headlock. A few minutes go by before he gives up and submits. I immediately step off him, and he shifts back to his human form. Luis gives him a pair of shorts he puts on, and I wait patiently for him to finish. Barry looks at me shamefully and hangs with his head. He doesn’t look angry, just utterly broken.
“I could’ve killed you if I wanted to, Barry,” I start. “But what’s the point of killing you when I can train you to control yourself instead?”
“Are-aren’t you going to hurt me?” he whispers.
“If I wanted to hurt you, I would have. Not once during the match did I hurt you. The only thing I did was use your careless movements and weight against you. The reason for this was because not only you but everyone present should see how easy it is to tire out their opponent if you know how to do it, so no, I’m not going to hurt you,” I reply, smiling.
“Thank you, I’m sorry about the problems I caused,” he quietly says, smiling back.
“What you’ve got to understand, Barry, is that you can’t use anger alone in a fight. Furthermore, I’m a stronger creature than you are. It would’ve been enough with a few seconds to kill you if I wanted to. You need to train yourself to control your beast, understand why I’m the alpha, and start respecting those who are your superiors. Because even if the vampires are our guests, they’re stronger than you and can kill you if they want to. But since they respect me and we have a mutual agreement of them being here, they won’t attack you. So please explain to me why you think you’d be an exception to that rule after I explicitly said no one touches our guests?”
He looks down at his hands. The guilt and shame he feels are apparent across his face; I now realize that he understands what I mean and has learned his lesson. Barry is a good apprentice, and the more he knows, the better he’ll be. But if he’s going to waste his potential on trifles, there’s no point in training him at all.
“As I mentioned earlier, I can offer to train you because I know you can do better. That also applies to the rest of you. Many of our warriors have I trained personally. If you don’t believe me, feel free to ask around in the pack how much knowledge they had before I took the step in to help. Thank you for listening,” I say and start walking towards the forest.
I deserve a run after this! Nature has always reassured me in a way nothing else can; if we ignore my puppies’ proximity, of course. I undress my clothes and put them behind a tree before shifting to my animal shape. Elisa howls at the joy of being free. We’ve learned how to be united, connected, and focused together. This is why I do breathing exercises every day to train myself on the self-control that I still miss from time to time. I’ve made progress, but there’s still a fair bit left on the road to complete self-control. I take a step back in my and Elisa’s shared mind to let her take over for a while. She jumps over rocks and rubs against trees we pass by. Elisa settles on the tall grass and rolls around like a dog in a sandbox. I laugh at her and her puppy behavior. Suddenly she stops, and her ears listen for a sound. She sneaks up to a bush where two wolf cubs tumble around; they look fearfully at us when they notice our closeness. Elisa gives back control, and I frantically look around for their mother. It isn’t like a she-wolf to leave their young ones alone; even so, I have two trembling puppies in front of me. How do I know it’s wolf cubs and not werewolves? Because it’s infrequent that a werewolf can shift at such a young age; moreover, they’re far too small in size to be werewolves. A werewolf puppy is almost the size of an ordinary wolf, and they’re pretty significant. I smell and try to find some other fragrance without succeeding. My nose moves towards the cubs, and they rub against me. I have to take them with me from here; this forest at night isn’t safe for the puppies alone. I lift them in the scruff of their necks and hurry back towards the packhouse. This may be a good thing; my maternal instincts may calm down a bit if I have something small to take care of. If nothing else, I might at least be able to give them both a new home with creatures that are half the same race as them—a home where they’re safe.