The Council's headquarter was located in Winnipeg, in the central Canadian province of Manitoba. Took us a few hours to get there from San Fransisco, where the West Coast pack was located, but finally here we were, driving from the airport straight to the Exchange District.
Manitoba had the biggest population of shifters in Canada, hence eventually they managed to secretly merge into the government and pretty much infiltrate the human authority systems. It wasn't a hostile takeover in any way, on the contrary, having the Council here and quite a lot of shifters being mated to humans, helped establish a peaceful coexistence between races. Of course, mostly people are unaware of us, but Manitoba was definitely an easier ground to be a wolf, where every slip up could be dealt with low key. Some of the areas were also majorly inhabited by pack communities and human mates, so it was a more free environment.
We walked into the Council's headquarters, cleverly disguised as the Manitoba Heritage Association, located in one of the old, but beautiful terracotta cut stone building.
"Hello gentlemen," the receptionist in his 30s welcomed us and followed with the standard question, "how may I assist you?"
"We're here at the invitation from the Association Council, for the...conference scheduled this week." Adam said without a flinch, knowing well that the receptionist, though human, would know which 'conference' he was talking about. After confirming our identities, the man led us to the big hall, where we met quite a few other pack leaders from both, the US and Canada.
There were some new faces, including females but I didn't feel the 'pull' to any one of them. Well, that's about it when it comes to my mate. There was a more important issue at hand now.
Four members of the Council joined the gathering soon and without further a due, they all sat down around a long table to discuss the problematic phenomenon going on recently.
"Ladies and gentlemen, as you all may have heard, there have been a number of dangerous incidents in several packs already, each followed a very similar pattern of the shifters going insane for an unknown reason. None could be apprehended or stopped other than by putting them out of their rampage." Tobias spoke calmly, regarding everyone in the room.
"No fucking shit, we lost a lot of people, friends and loved ones, including the ones who caused it!" One of the alphas banged his fist on the table. Roman recognized him as Sam Winthrop, from North Dakota pack. I heard from Adam that Sam's brother was one of the shifters going crazy.
"Mr. Winthrop, please, we are devastated by your loss, but let's focus on how to solve the issue and prevent further incidents." One of two women on the council, Sophia, spoke softly, trying to calm the man down.
"And how the fuck do you prevent further attacks?! They are our family, warriors, mates!" Sam narrowed his eyes at them "Unless you know something about this madness, maybe you're behind them with some sick experimental virus?"
"Mr. Winthrop that is quite enough! You have no grounds to throw such accusations. And the Council, as well as the government have nothing to do with these terrible cases. We have, however, some idea on how to...contain it. If you would sit down and let us finish." That sounded polite but everyone knew it was basically Tobias telling the man to shut the fuck up or else they will deal with his insubordination.
"What solution do you have in mind? Time is of the essence here." Adam spoke up smoothly, addressing the Council.
Another man on the council, Lucas, answered:
"We have yet to investigate what causes the outrage in certain individuals, however we have confirmed that neither the hunters, nor the rouges have had anything to do with it. They are under our surveillance, so if anything emerges we will inform you all." Suddenly Lucas stood up and walked to the side of the table, drawing all eyes to himself.
"In the meantime, we have chosen a special unit, that will be tasked with apprehending and pacifying the infected shifters, and bring them to custody of the Council for further examinations in search of the cure."
"A unit? Do you mean a unit made of shifters from our packs? We will not send our own to fight their brothers and sisters!" Winthrop again slammed his fists on the table, but I've had enough of his tantrum and intercepted:
"Calm the fuck down and listen for once or I'll shut you up!" My roaring voice and cold but harsh tone resonated in the big room. Sam knew better than to piss me off, even though I was officially a Beta, everyone knew my true strength, and respect I've gained from a lot of packs in the US. Winthrop sat down clearly pissed but not up for an argument. Good, the fool should learn some damn manners.
Lucas cleared his throat, "What I was going to say, is that we have appointed a... special unit, consisting of very talented warriors that, without a doubt, will be able to keep the situation under control." He was about to motion for the guards to open the door on the side, but stopped midway.
"Ah, right, as per the Council's order, the Berserkers are to be stationed at the territory and supervision of the West Coast pack." I could feel my eyes instantly shooting to Lucas, who continued, "The pack is big and has enough resources as well as the best, in our opinion, leadership to accommodate and overlook their training and progress in the mission."
"Excuse me-" I started but Adam cut in at the same time, "Understood. We will honour the order." It caused my face to show a clear as a day 'WTF?!' expression.
What was Adam thinking?! I was most certainly not going to babysit some wannabe warriors from the Council. If they wanted, I was down for dealing with the crazy wolves with my own squad from the pack. They were disciplined, skilled, and followed orders, and I highly doubted anyone would be better for the job. I needed to have a talk with Adam, ASAP!
But then...the most amazing smell hit my nostrils. It was a mixture of rain in the woods and something else...something alluring but also unidentifiable to my senses. Could it be?
At that moment Lucas motioned for the guards to open the door, and several pairs of footsteps could be heard walking in. Interestingly enough, I also picked up the sound of chains. What the fuck?
"Excellent! Gentlemen allow me to introduce to you the Berserkers, compiled of our specially selected individuals who will deal with the crisis for the time being, until we find the solution to this sickness." He explained, but I could hardly hear anything the man said. My eyes were preoccupied with scanning the group of who I simply assumed were convicts. What was the Council thinking giving us some outlaws as protection?! And why the hell did I just smell my mate among them?
Mate. Find mate.
My wolf was calling out in my head, but I was stuck in confusion over the group, and my inability to identify the right person.
I was frantically scanning them. There were three guys and two girls, and all of them had a very distinct smell, but none smelled like werewolves do. Well, they did, partially, but there was something else, strange fragrance that simply didn't match either humans or shifters. Also a faint smell of my mate, but I couldn't exactly pinpoint it to either of the girls, and the guys...well, were not my personal preference.
The bunch didn't even remotely resemble soldiers, or any warriors, or even athletes for that matter!! They looked... raggedy. They didn't regard the Council or any of the alphas in the room, instead, they either ignored everyone or chatted among themselves. Tobias cleared his throat to get their attention.
"Show some respect to the gathering!" He ordered, but it was met with a laughter from one of the guys from the unit.
"Respect? You drag us all out here, from across the country, hell, across the world, pull us from our comfortable lives in.. oh, that's right, PRISON! And expect we will just do what a bunch of dogs tells us?" He was visibly upset but was playing it off with a smirk. "Nice try... I'm out! Thanks for holding me a prisoner for 5 years...had a blast! But I'd rather skedaddle." He starts walking to the main door, constrained by his chains but not immobilized.
Another man, taller than the first guy, with dark skin and short, but dense and curly hair, quite well built, said calmly:
"I'm out too, Tobias. This was never going to work anyway, who are we kidding? I'd rather go back to my cell" and walked to the exit.
One of two women, the taller one with a curvy, voluptuous figure and long, wavy hair in the vibrant, chestnut colour, pursed her plump lips, letting a disappointed sigh. She flicked her hair over one shoulder, clearly displeaces with the outcome of this gathering.
"What a waste of time! And here I thought I'll get to have a fling with a hot werewolf. Well, since we're all free, let's go to a better party in town!" She, as well, headed for the door, clanking the chains on her wrists.
The third guy, younger than the other two, with a kind of punk-rockish style and blue hair, was ogling people around the table with an undecipherable look. He had a metal mask blocking his mouth, locked tightly on his head. I swore he was looking at us like at a piece of meat, as in literally meat, not an object of physical attraction. Was this kid a cannibal or something?
"Y'all gonna leave me with 'crazy mouth'?!" Shouted the shorter, asian girl with petite figure, wearing dark goggles, which Greyson swore were also secured on her head not to fall...or be taken off.
"I can't control the freak! Guys!" She started panicking, and I couldn't get why.
All of this mess was happening all at once, and people gathered in the hall were too confused and stunned while trying to make sense of this unruly bunch being their supposed 'saviors'. At the same time I still could smell the alluring fragrance that I swore belonged to my mate, but was positive it wasn't any of the people present here. What the fuck was wrong with these idiots?! And what on earth were the councilmen thinking, giving us an insubordinate punks as the last resort for the deadly virus circling around, or whatever the hell it was!
Within a split second, the skinny kid with blue hair, yes the one acting like a lunatic in a trance, opened his freakishly wide mouth and the mask that was previously blocking it, fell apart. Even though he still had chains on his wrists and feet, he was able to move enough to launch straight into our direction, causing everyone to get up from the table and dodge whatever he was gonna do.
"Hungry, hungry, HUNGRY!!!" The kid screamed bloody murder as he was trying to chase after each and every wolf in the room.
What the fuck was going on?!
The guards FINALLY moved their asses and tried catching the blue-haired kid, but to no avail.
"Ooooh sweet, I haven't seen a good murder spree in decades!" The first guy who headed for the door shouted, clapping his hands like a child. When another guard tried charged at him to prevent him from leaving, he swiftly jumped over him, landing behind the guard's back and within a second, one of his hands changed it's structure and shape, causing the muscular and armed guy to drop on the ground, with a stab wound to his head.
What the hell?!
I saw it as clearly, it wasn't a hallucination! A huge, trained man was down on the ground within a second, by a guy half or even a third his size!
Meanwhile the blue-haired kid was still trying to hunt down any of the shifters in the room, and damn the 'crazy mouth' was fast!
The other three didn't seem to want to engage in the ruckus, but the guards made sure to direct their guns at them. They most likely had silver bullets in there.
The trio just stood there with their hands in the air.
It was a total madness, I had enough of this and gave ZERO shits about whether the Council appointmed this circus troop as the rescue squad or whatever the fuck crazy plan they had. I would kill the guy with blue hair with one good strike, without batting an eye. I whistled at Crazy Mouth and when the kid changed his trajectory towards me, my stance got ready to smash his skull.
"Alistair, you glutton, I've got something for you. Come over here!"
A melodic voice resonated in the room and right through my ears. It wasn't too high or too low, it was...perfect. Along with it came the fragrance I seeked and craved ever since it reached my nostrils.
My head instantly whipped in the direction of the voice, convinced it belonged to the my destined match.
My face dropped the moment I locked eyes with the slender figure at the entrance of the hall, and found the stranger's silver irises.
That...that couldn't be. My mate was...a male?!