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The Last Shewolf Ch. 24-28

Beta Denise Thorssen's POV

"BETAS TO MY OFFICE NOW!!" The command thundered through the bond as we were getting ready for bed. I looked at my mate, wondering the same thing- what the hell pissed him off this time.

"We better get over there before he destroys another desk," Charles said as he took my hand. I put my remaining shoe on before he helped me up. His arm moved around my waist as we moved to the door of our quarters. We didn't have far to go; this wing held only the Alpha and Beta quarters, and our offices. The Alpha quarters took the end of the building, our smaller rooms were on the north side of the hallway, and our offices were on the other. The Alpha's office was next to his quarters, a conference room separated his large office and the smaller Luna office from ours. The Pack House was quiet; we knocked on his door and walked in.

As soon as I saw him, I knew exactly what had happened. He was sitting on the floor, leaning back against his desk, an open bottle of whiskey in his hand. Tears were flowing down his face as his free hand was touching his neck, the mating mark already fading from his skin.

Our Luna, Madeline, had died.

Eleven mated werewolves had gone with Doctor DelMara, and eleven females had died. I rushed over, kneeling by him and pulling his head into my shoulder. I was crushed, losing Connie had almost sent him feral, and to follow it up by losing Madeline was so unfair. Some had spoken in hushed tones about him taking another mate so soon, but I knew the pressures he was under. Everything was going to hell, and he had no heir, no future. A Pack with no heir was an invitation to take over. "Oh, Mitch," I said as I gently rocked him. His emotions broke, the tears pouring out as he sobbed onto the T-shirt I was wearing.

My mate took the bottle from him, going over to the bar and pouring it over ice in three glasses. He sipped on one, waiting for his Alpha to gather himself again. When he finally ran out of tears, he moved over and helped him back into his chair. When he was done, he brought him the bottle and a glass, the other glass he gave to me. As soon as he sat down on the couch, I sat in his lap, his free hand around my waist. "When?"

"I started feeling her pain at about ten thirty, it felt like I was being stabbed in the gut," he said. "I couldn't get out of bed, I couldn't move, I couldn't think. I suffered with her, then the pain started to fade." He wiped away a tear, then took a gulp of his drink. "At eleven twenty, it stopped- the pain, gone, the bond ripped away a moment later. I could feel the mark dissolving, my soul being torn apart again. She's gone."

"She was a good female, a good Alpha. I am proud to have known her," Charles said. "To Madeline, may Luna embrace her and dry her tears." He raised his glass, then I took a sip of the burning liquid. Mitch gulped down the rest of his, getting up to fetch the bottle again.

"Drinking won't stop the pain," I said. "You should rest, let us make the arrangements for her memorial service." We had been averaging a memorial every other day for three weeks.

"I'm fully aware of what is involved in losing a mate, Beta. I don't need your lectures."

"I'm sorry, sir, I just don't want to lose you again. You scared us last year, lashing out, disappearing for days on end." I looked down at my drink. "We are your Betas, we are here to help you."

"Then drink with me." And so we did. Bottle after bottle, until the sun rose and he finally slept.

Vivian's POV

I managed to sleep for a few hours at a time, and my day was ruled by checks and worry over the tiny child. Little Jennifer was a fighter, but she had so much to fight against. I spent an hour in my office, doing research on what I needed to do before I was back in the room. I stared at the tiny form in my gloved hands through the plastic cover. She was no longer blue, she was a bright red now. She refused to take a bottle and was running a temperature. I'd given her antibiotics already, but if she didn't get any milk in she would dehydrate and shut down. "I'll have to put in a feeding tube," I told Jessica, who was nervously waiting for the verdict.

"Have you ever done that?"

"Once, ten years ago, on a full-term baby," I said. I had reviewed the basic process and set up the equipment. She would be on a tube for weeks, allowing me to control better her fluid and nutrient intake. I simply couldn't be here all the time to feed her by syringe. I set Jennifer down as Jessica put her hands in the glove bag. "I need you to hold her, neck slightly back, and head towards you," I said as I readied the tube. Carefully threading it through her nose, then down her throat, I made sure it was in place before taping the tube to her face.

Jennifer did NOT appreciate what we were doing, but it was for her own good. We pushed a few cc's in, checking to make sure it was not coming back up. When I was satisfied, I stood up and stretched. "Next feeding I'll have you do," I said. "We need to make sure she doesn't get tangled up in wires and watch for signs she needs a diaper change." Werewolves could easily scent when she needed it.

We had a chart we were tracking everything on; vital signs, bowel and bladder movements, and feedings. I scheduled one every three hours, and with the tube she could be fed whether she was awake or asleep. "I need to get a nap, wake me before she is due to eat. If her temperature rises another half degree, wake me up," I said. I was nervous about infection, that was the biggest danger right now. I didn't know what effect the bleeding had on her, if she had ingested her mother's blood or another pathogen. At this age, her immune system was weak, a cold would kill her easily.

"I've got it, Vivian. You get some sleep."

"New parents don't get sleep," I smiled as I pulled off my gloves and tossed them away. I went back to the entryway, where the beds were set up. Snake had gone back to the clubhouse, but I saw Moose and Scrape watching television in the break room, bags of chips on the table, rifles within reach. I collapsed into my bed and was asleep in moments.

Beta Denise's POV

Alpha Mitch slept until noon, then he shifted and ran out of the Pack House. He didn't respond to the link, he just ran. "My love, he went east into the woods. He can't be out there alone."

"I'm on it already," Charles sent back. "I have a team set up, we'll monitor." I was worried about him; when the despair of mate loss set it, it was all too tempting to just give yourself over to your animal part. If it went too far, became too unbalanced, the wolf couldn't get its human side forward again. It would attack humans, kill livestock, and continue until it was put down. Taking down an Alpha was hard, taking down a feral Alpha could take a whole Pack.

He ran most of the afternoon before returning. I met him at the door, tossing him shorts and a shirt as he changed back. "Welcome back, Alpha Mitch," I said as I gave him a hug. "Feel better?"

"I do," he said. "I don't feel like risking the whole Pack by killing Doctor DelMara now, so that's progress. Meet me in the conference room, bring the Pack leadership with you." He walked down the hall, disappearing into his office.

Ten minutes later I had gathered my mate, the Head Warrior and his mate, and the Delta in the conference room. Knocking on the door, I let the Alpha know we were assembled. He came in as we stood, our heads lowered respectfully, and took his place at the head of the table. He put the territory map in the center, showing where all the Packs had been prior to the outbreak of SPUDS last year. It was a sobering map.

In Minnesota and western Wisconsin, two dozen Packs had existed. "I've color coded these," he said as he pointed out the Packs in yellow. "These are the Packs that I know still exist," he said. Ours, and four others. He pointed to the ones in pink. "These packs, another twelve, were absorbed whole by other Packs. The rest are missing, presume destroyed, or disbanded." This included the three Packs we had been allied with earlier. "I can't tell for sure which of these remaining Packs is doing the attacking, I just know what happens when they do. All men and boys are killed along with the older women. I'm assuming the fertile females are mated off, and the young girls are being kept as future mates."

"Are you thinking one of them is going to attack us, Alpha?" The Head Warrior was recently mated, and worried.

"It's inevitable," he said. "The numbers will drive it. Look at this Pack. We've lost women, and now half of our adult males have no mates. There are only a few dozen in the pipeline, even if we changed the rules to allow mating before 16, it wouldn't come close. Every year that this curse continues, women will get pregnant and die."

"So Alpha command the mates, isolate the women during the heat," I said.

Charles laughed. "Good luck with that," he said. "Who is going to keep their horny, sexed-up mates away? The same unmated men who have no hope and no future because there aren't women for them? They are already leaving," he said. "Four have left the Pack in the past month, I know they thought they had a better change of finding a mate as a lone wolf than in a Pack. Plus, having mates separated during their heat is dangerous. The females can die, and their wolves will fight them, insisting they go with their mate."

"The purpose of a Pack is to provide a stable structure for the wolves to mate and raise pups," the Alpha said. "If there is not a path to that, things will break down. I've heard stories from some of our refugees already; higher ranking wolves killing males to take their mates, girls as young as twelve being taken as mates, and we know about the organized attacks. Having enough females in the Pack is required for Pack stability, and we don't have that."

"So what do we do, boss?"

"We get women of our own," he said. He pointed at the Brainerd Pack territory. "This is the smallest of the remaining Packs; I expect our warrior numbers are similar, but we will have the element of surprise. I want to attack within the week."

Jessica's POV

I had a timer set, making sure I checked Jennifer every five minutes while I studied. She was sleeping and was not due to be fed for another hour. I had my books out, working my college algebra homework.

When I came down here, Vivian had a talk with me about my goals. I wanted to be a neonatal nurse; it was the perfect mix of my natural desires and the needs of our species. Vivian had quickly enrolled me at a local community college, allowing me to start getting my required classes out of the way. She told me that she had enough money for Carson and I to live and go to school, provided we agreed to break our Pack bonds.

That was an easy call for me, I never wanted to go back there. I had seen the looks the Alpha gave me, heard the rumors about his plans. Carson would die, and he'd take me as his new mate now that Madeline was gone. We had already agreed to do it, we were just waiting for the right time. Breaking Pack bonds could cause headaches and fatigue for a few days, and we needed to be strong and ready.

I heard a noise, looking up I sensed something wrong. I smelled vomit. I stood up and looked, Jennifer had vomited her last meal and was struggling to breathe. "VIVIAN!!" I didn't wait, I opened the top of the incubator and grabbed a cloth. Turning her in my hand face down, I quickly cleaned the fluid from her face, but she was still having trouble. I set her on her side and reached over and turned on the suction machine, making sure it was at the lowest setting. I carefully used it in her mouth as I held her above the blanket.

Vivian rushed in as I was trying to suck the vomit from her mouth and nose. "What happened," she said.

"Vomited, she was choking," I said as I moved over.

She checked her airway, grabbing the suction bulb and removing a little more. She finally sat back, returning her to her back, and got out her stethoscope. "She inhaled some of it," she finally said.

This wasn't good, it could lead to infection or pneumonia, both of which were a bad idea. We used some thin blankets, so we could lay her on her side, ensuring if she coughed any up it wouldn't go back down. "It's not unexpected, feeding tubes can cause problems. We probably gave her too much too fast. We'll drop the amount and feed every two hours, starting in an hour," she said.

I watched as Vivian held the tiny baby, talking to her. I could sense the bond that was forming. Her wolf thought of the tiny one as her own, despite her father still being alive. I removed the soiled linens and brought a fresh sheet, replacing the one in the incubator as she held her.

"I've got this now," she said, "You get some sleep. And it wasn't your fault, your quick action saved her," she said.

I walked over and gave her a hug, letting the tension go. "You'll be a great Mom someday, but she has a father," I told her before I left.

I could barely her her whisper, "We'll see."

Alpha Clark's POV

The meeting over, I returned to my office. I booted up my computer while I ate the sandwich that had been left on my desk for me. I logged in to AOL, smiling as I heard the "You've Got Mail" sound. My heart skipped as I saw the email; I was shaking by the time I read it, and when I opened the photo, I started to cry.

I had a daughter.

Ch. 25

Beta Charles' POV

One Week Later

I stood behind and to the left of Alpha Clark as he addressed the pack early in the morning before breakfast. Denise was tucked into my side, we were leaning on each other because this could go wrong in so many ways. "Wolves of the Boundary Waters Pack," the Alpha said as he stood on the rock so everyone could see him, "War has come to us. The Brainerd Pack has taken advantage of the panic and losses caused by this terrible plague to establish itself as the dominant Pack in Minnesota. Attacking Packs without warning, taking their women, killing the mated men and the boys. The grieving mates are lined up and claimed by unmated males, along with all unmated females down to age thirteen." He had to wait for the anger to die down. "I've tried to reach out to them, to change their ways and follow our customs, but my efforts have been rebuffed."

I mentally snorted, he had called once, and they didn't answer so he didn't call again. I stood, impassive and intimidating, behind him as he continued. "It is only a matter of time until he attacks us, and by then he will be stronger. I can't risk our women, our future, on the behaviors of a rogue Alpha. As such, Warriors are joining me to take out this cancer on our species. We will be merciful where they are not; we will not kill those who surrender, male or female, and we will give the unmated every opportunity to take a choice mate."

"At least if she makes the choice he wants her to," Denise said to me.

"He wants the pack strong," I answered.

"Let us pray for Luna's favor for a swift battle and a safe return," he said. Taking a knee, the Pack with them, they looked up at the setting moon, nearly full and just above the trees. We each said our prayers, mine was simple; survive.

When the meeting was over, the warriors ate one last meal with their families. By eight, we were loaded into a dozen vehicles for the four-hour trip across the northern part of the state. We had one female who had been part of that pack twenty years ago, and we used topographical maps and her knowledge to plan our attack. We would park the vehicles well away, leaving just drivers, and go over land to the Pack House. The idea was to come in fast, getting to the Alpha and taking him out before the defense really started. If they had a chance to rally, if they held off our assault, it was going to end badly for us.

I sent my final goodbyes to my mate before we were too far away. She was the senior werewolf left and would take care of the children and the ones who weren't fighters. I looked out the window, something felt off and I couldn't place it.

Vivian's POV

I held Jennifer in my hands, calming her after the indignity of another diaper change. She was holding her own; the feared infections hadn't materialized, and despite vomiting several times a day she was starting to gain weight. Her lungs continued to improve, although we still had to keep her on oxygen, and leave her in the heated incubator. It would be five or six weeks until she could be out, if things went well.

"How is she doing," Kelly said.

"Good, I just changed her and she's ready for a nap again." She and Doc had been great; when Jennifer made it past the first two days, they both pitched in and took over some of the care. I could go on little to no sleep for a while, but this baby needed care 24/7 and I was wiped. I couldn't leave in case they needed me, and I was up every few hours.

"Go," she said. "Doc is in the kitchen making you some breakfast. Eat it."

"Yes Mom," I teased. "Day care covered?"

"Yes, Teri and Katie have them this morning. Doc and I will head back before lunch, so get some sleep. Jessica will be back from classes, so she can relieve me, you can get a good four hours in." Carson was escorting her to and from her nursing classes at the community college, and Snake was doing breakfast at the clubhouse so he wasn't here to snug up to. It was all right, I needed the sleep.

I left her after one final check of everything, then I went to the break room. Doc handed me a plate with three eggs, toast and a rare-cooked steak. "You're the best," I told him as I sat down.

"How was overnight?"

"Slow," I said. "I made Jessica go to bed by midnight and spent most of the time doing research in between baby checks." I was making use of the medical libraries in the city, taking a crash course in neonatal care.

"Have you heard back from his father?"

"He asked if he could see her, if he could take her home. The answer to both was no. I explained why, but he hasn't responded." I put the eggs on top of the steak, cutting through both so the yolk ran over and combined with the juices.

"I just hope Snake scared him enough he doesn't try anything stupid. We don't have enough people to make this a truly secure location, and it's too far away from the club for my liking. I'm glad Viper had those surveillance cameras installed, that helps." He pointed at the television screen that showed the four sides of the clinic in split-screen. "I'll be glad when we don't need the clinic and you can be back at the clubhouse."

I knew what he meant, I missed them, I missed the children, and I missed my Snake time. "Six weeks or so, but I'll still come here a day or two per week for research. I'll do most of it from the clubhouse clinic."

I finished up my meal, wiping the remaining juices off the plate with the last piece of toast, then washing it down with milk. "You're the best, Doc," I said as I took the dishes to the sink.

"You're the best Doc," he replied. "Leave them, go take a shower and get to bed." I did, and ten minutes later I was asleep.

Charles' POV

My anxiety was growing with every mile. We were two hours away, and I couldn't ignore it any more. "Boss, something's wrong."

"We're almost there, Beta." He looked out the window at the passing trees. "Everything is on track."

"I've had this feeling since we left, and it's getting worse. My instinct is to go back."

He just laughed at me. "You're nervous, that's kind of funny. How many years has it been since you were last in battle? Ten?" I nodded. "You probably have the same queasy stomach that all the new guys in the last car have." The warrior riding shotgun, a mated father of two named Robert, laughed a little at me. He stopped when I kicked his seat back.
A minute later, a scream startled the driver so much he almost went into the ditch. Robert was scratching at his mating mark while yelling for her at the top of his lungs. "Shit, something happened to Christine," I said.

Two more howls of agony came through the bond. "Boss, we need to go back," I said.

He nodded. "Turn us around and get home!" The caravan turned, but I knew it was too late.

Kelly's POV

The morning was going well, her vitals were stable, and she napped well. I could see her eyes following me, her little arms moving towards me as I smiled. "WE'RE UNDER ATTACK," Doc yelled at me as he ran out of the break room, rifle in hand. "CALL THE CLUB!"

I ran over to the phone on the wall, quickly dialing the number. It rang twice before it picked up. "Northwoods Riders, Scrape here."

"Scrape it's Kelly, we're under att..." and then the phone went dead. I hung it up, trying again, but no dial tone. "PHONE IS CUT," I yelled towards the door. My husband poked his head in. "Did you tell the club?"

"I don't know if I got enough out," I said.

Vivian came running into the room just as the power went out. "Vivian, we've got people surrounding the building, I counted four before I left the room," he told her.

"Cover the hallway," she said. "Kelly, without power the CPAP machine won't work. You need to monitor her breathing carefully, it should be thirty to forty per minute. If she is struggling, you'll have to manually ventilate." She handed me the mask and bag, we had practiced earlier how to do it. "Whatever happens, don't stop. She's too fragile to make it on her own."

"I understand, Doctor. What are you doing?"

"I'm protecting her," she said. She poked her head out into the hallway. "Doc, what's happening?"

"I think they are at the back door," he said.

"I'm going wolf then."

"NO!" I saw him pulling her back into the room. "I know you want to protect her, but this isn't the way. Stay in here." He handed me his .45 Colt pistol. "This room is concrete walls, steel door. Lock it, barricade it and don't come out until the club is here."

"What about you?" I looked over at my husband, panic in my eyes.

"I'll keep them back," he said. "You stay alive, baby. I love you."

"I love you too." I heard the door close and lock as I focused on the baby. Counting her breaths, making sure the oxygen regulator was good, and trying to monitor her color. Vivian handed me a headlamp out of the drawer, it made things much easier. She pushed a cabinet in front of the door, then set to work piling other material against the wall. "What are you doing?"

"Just in case they try to shoot through the door," I said. She was moving another cabinet, lifting it on top of the first one. "Who did you talk to at the club?"

"Scrape, but all I got out was 'we're under' before the line was cut."

She kept piling stuff against the door, just as we heard a loud crash. Doc was opening up with his rifle, growls echoed through the hallway and something big hit the door. They were inside.

Viper's POV

I was going through some of the bills in my office when Scrape started screaming. I was up on my feet instantly, running downstairs to the clubhouse area. "What the fuck is going on?"

"That was Kelly, she and Doc are with Vivian at the clinic. She called, I think she was going to say they were under attack when the phone call dropped."

"Did you call back?"

"No answer." Fuck. "ALL RIGHT BOYS, GRAB YOUR GUNS AND LET'S GO." Crash and Dagger were in the clubhouse, and I knew Trigger was in the garage. I went back to my office, grabbing my pump shotgun and a bandoleer of buckshot, along with my Glock .45 and extra magazines. I ran out the front, opening the doors to one of the panel vans. The boys were right behind me, jumping into the back.

Teri came out just as I was starting up. "Teri, call every member you can get ahold of, get them to the clinic and tell them to come strapped. Vivian's in trouble."

I pulled out of the parking lot, heading for the road. It would take twenty minutes to get there.

Twenty minutes she might not have.

Kelly's POV

I heard Doc screaming, and the sound of him being dragged. There was a thud in the hallway. "Doctor DelMara, this man is seriously injured and is bleeding all over the floor. He's going to die if you don't give yourself up."

My jaw dropped, I started to cry. He screamed, they must have done something to him. She looked at me, then looked at the door.

"Listen, Doc, we want you alive. Come quietly and we'll let the others live. Refuse, and he dies. He only has a few minutes left, I'd say, if he doesn't get help."

"NO DON'T DO IT AAAAAAAHHH!" There was a thud and he went quiet.

"ANDREW!" I started to move towards the door.

"Don't," Vivian said. "Go back to Jennifer." She pulled some combat dressings out of the drawer. "When I'm gone, use these, apply pressure to stop the bleeding and wait for help."

"You can't give yourself to them, Vivian!"

"I can't let you die, Kelly. They'll still take me." She pulled me into a hug, then walked to the door. "I'm coming out, I have to move stuff away from the door."

"Don't waste our time, Doctor, he doesn't have much."

She pushed the cabinets back from the door, creating just enough room to open it and get out. She unlocked it, and the door was immediately pushed open. A man reached in, pulling her out, and I heard the ratchet sound of handcuffs going on. "Ahh, the smell of unmated women," the leader said. "Come on." I could hear her walking down the hall.

"What about the woman, boss?"

"Shoot her."

I looked around in panic, there was nowhere to hide. A man leaned in, firing two shots, and I felt my chest explode in pain before I fell to the ground.

Ch. 26

Vivian's POV

"NO!" I struggled against the big guy in vain as he dragged me through the hallway. My ears were ringing from the gunshots, and my heart was crushed by what just happened. Two friends, hell they were FAMILY through the club, had just been killed while trying to protect me. My decision to give myself up hadn't accomplished anything but getting me captured quickly, before help could arrive. "The baby! She's going to DIE, she's an Alpha's daughter!"

He just opened the door and pulled me out, I was unable to resist with my wrists cuffed behind my back. The silver sapped the abilities of my wolf, I couldn't tap the strength of her with them on. "I wasn't sent to get a baby, I was sent for you," he said. He shoved me up against my truck, pushing me down to sit next to the rear wheels. I saw another man come out, he was supporting a third man who was bleeding from the left shoulder and right hip. "Bruce, put him down, then get Frank out of there," he said. "I'm going to get the car."

"What about her?" The injured man was set by the front wheel as the other man asked.

He tossed the injured guy his pistol. "Travis, if she moves, shoot her in the legs." He turned and walked away as I tried to figure out what to do. A big, dark green Expedition pulled into the lot just as Bruce came out with the dead wolf over his shoulder. "The humans dead?"

"Didn't check," he said, "but there's a hell of a lot of blood in the hall."

"Toss Frank's body in the back and cover him up." He opened the back window for him.

"Todd, what do we do about Travis?"

He looked at the injured man on the ground. "She's the fucking doc, Bruce. She can save him." He came over and pulled me to my feet. "You're going to fix him up on the drive back, or you're going to be in a world of pain. Alpha Hans gave me wide latitude in how to bring you back, and there's a lot I can do to you before I maim or kill you."

"I need my kit out of this truck," I said. "And he's going to have to be laid down. I need the seats down, and blankets if you have them." He nodded and went back to the truck, opening the back doors and laying the seats down. I watched as he went to my truck, pulling my emergency kit out of the area behind the driver's seat, and put it in the truck as well. By the time he came for me, they had Larry laid out in the back. It had been at least ten minutes since they attacked, not near enough time for the guys at the Club to make it here. They shoved me in and closed the door, and they pulled out of the lot before I was sitting comfortably.

I took one last look at my clinic, thanking Luna that Jessica wasn't here when they attacked. She deserved the happiness I was going to lose.

Viper's POV

"Can't this piece of shit go any faster?" I ignored Snake. I was bouncing in my seat, adrenaline fueled my veins and I wanted to kill. The idea of someone harming my Club members was enough to set off the demons I knew were inside me, demons I had a hard time pushing back. I knew Snake was the same way, we both had seen combat, we knew what could happen. I looked out at the traffic, the lights, the delays. I wanted to get out and just RUN there, but with a shotgun and midday traffic that wouldn't end well.

"No, and we have to stick together, guys. We don't know what is going on, we go blazing in there alone and you'll get killed. Now sit the FUCK down and let's think of how we are going to do this." The order settled over them, they knew I was right. We all had to get our shit together if we were going to save them.

Scrape turned around from the passenger seat. "We can't go blasting in there, we don't know how many they have or whether they are humans or werewolves. We need to stop a block away or so."

I nodded. "Good idea, I'll drop half of you off before getting there, then drive by the front and park on the other side. I'll cover the front with the truck. Snake, Scrape and Dagger work your way to the back. Crash, Trigger, you guys take the emergency exit, here's the key." I tossed him my master for the building. Keep the gunplay down outside, and no cuts," I said. "Yell 'DOG' when you're going in. Anyone who isn't club, you take them down."

We worked out a few more details, but the plan was sound. Five minutes later I pulled to the curb and Scrape, Snake and Dagger jumped out, holding their pistols low and against their bodies. I drove past, noting the back gate to the driveway was open. "Fuck, they got in back," I said. I dropped Crash and Trigger off, then turned around and parked across the street. I could see the two at the side door; I got out, my shotgun against my leg as I crossed the quiet street. I made it almost to the front doors, still closed and chained, when I heard "DOG."

I ran around the side through the gate to the back when I didn't hear any gunfire. Scrape was kneeling by Doc, who was laying in a pool of blood in the hallway. He checked his neck for a pulse, and shook his head. "SHE'S STILL ALIVE," shouted Crash from inside the surgery room. I went through the door, squeezing through the opening, and my heart sank as Trigger shook his head no.

Vivian's POV

"I can't help him with handcuffs on," I said to Bruce as we were pulling on to the freeway. "His lungs are filling with blood. The bullets had silver in them, he won't heal if I don't get them out. He's already having trouble breathing."

The leader, this Todd guy, was busy driving and didn't even look back. "Bruce, move her cuffs to her ankles. If she tries anything, shoot out her kneecaps. Don't fucking test me, Doc."

"I'm a doctor, asshole. This is what I'm meant to do, even if it means saving the life of someone I should want dead." He uncuffed me, then put them around my ankles. I was still able to move around, and I opened my kit. "Cut his shirt off, pants too. Roll up the shirt and use it to apply pressure to his hip wound while I work on his chest." He immediately complied; one thing about wolves, they followed the directions of someone in authority, and in medical cases, I was the authority.

Travis started to scream as he pressed down on the wound. "Take the pain, man. We'll get you fixed up."

I drew a sedative, making sure it was enough to knock him out. One at a time, I thought. I injected it into Travis's neck, and he was out in moments. "I don't need him moving around while I'm inside him," I explained calmly. I put a headlamp on and gloves, then laid out a scalpel, clamp and retractor on a sterile towel I put next to him. Quickly making my incision, I started working my way down the channel created by the bullet. It had penetrated a rib, shattered his scapula, then fragments had punctured his lungs.

"I'm gonna be sick," Bruce said.

"Turn around then, but keep the pressure on that wound," I told him. He did, which made my job even easier. I continued to work, keeping up a running narrative of what I was doing. When they stopped paying attention to me, I noticed we were in bumper to bumper traffic. Perfect.

I reached in and removed the emergency sedative autoinjectors. They were werewolf strength, designed to knock out a feral wolf in seconds. I waited until Todd was moving again, then I turned and grabbed Bruce from behind. My right hand clasped over his mouth as my left hand injected the dose into his carotid artery. He went limp almost immediately, and I laid him down quietly, his body over Travis's legs.

I couldn't risk taking the handcuffs off, so this would be fun. Taking the second autoinjector, I pretended to work on Travis again, keeping up the narrative, until he had stopped in the traffic. I lept forward, plunging the needle into his neck.

He tried to shove me off, but the passenger seat didn't let him. I put the vehicle in park, then popped his seatbelt. He was starting to slump down. I grabbed him under the shoulder, pulling him backwards between the seats until he was laying next to Travis. I moved over to Bruce, finding the key and unlocking my cuffs.

I was in the seat and buckled up again before the traffic started moving.

Viper's POV

Vivian was gone. Snake ran up, panicked, confirming my fears.

I walked back into the hallway, looking down at Doc's body in the hallway. His shoulder had been torn up, he had bite marks and chunks out of his arms. His rifle was by his broken right arm. "What do we do? We can't explain this kind of death."

"Snake, go get the truck and pull it in back." I tossed him the keys and he ran out. "Crash, Trigger, carry Kelly out back, set her on the grass by the dumpster. Leave Doc where he is, try not to step in the blood." They carried her out, she looked bad.

I went back in to the surgery room, taking the hose off the oxygen regulator and opening the valve fully. As the big bottle depressurized, I lifted the cover of the incubator and wrapped baby Jennifer in a blanket. She wasn't breathing, she was blue, and I was crying as I wrapped her so her body couldn't be seen.

I walked out with her as Snake pulled in. I handed him the baby, then opened the back and pulled out the fuel can from the back. I ran back inside, spreading the fuel over the couches in front, trailing it back over Doc before tossing it into the surgery room. I got to just outside the back door and took a matchbook out of my pocket. Striking a match then setting the whole book ablaze, I tossed it into the gasoline trail.

The oxygen-rich air caused the flames to burn much hotter than normal. "Crash, you were out getting lunch when you saw the back door open, Kelly was in the hallway, you pulled her out just before the flames came. Trigger, go somewhere and dial 911. Scrape, with me, let's get the fuck out of here."

We pulled out, I could see the flames starting to push through the windows in front. We drove back to the clubhouse, knowing Crash would stay with Kelly, and Trigger would be stuck talking to the cops.

Snake wasn't talking, he was just holding the bundle to his chest, rocking back and forth as his sobs racked his body.

We all felt like shit. A brother didn't deserve to get burned like that, it wasn't right, but it had to be done. It was the only way to protect DeWalt's secret.

A secret that placed our whole club at risk, and a secret that had gotten her wolfnapped.

Ch. 27

Crash's POV

I was holding Kelly in my lap as we sat on the grass by the dumpster behind the old animal hospital. I had my shirt over the hole in her upper right chest, and a towel over the hole in her right shoulder. Viper and the others had taken off, and Trigger was out calling for an ambulance. "Hang on, Kelly, help is coming," I said as I rocked her gently.

She was pale and coughing blood. Her breathing was strained, so I put her down on her good side, still holding the pressure on her wounds. She coughed hard, blood spraying the grass. "Come on, Kelly, keep fighting," I said. "The kids need you. The Club needs you." I prayed for the first time in years that she would be all right, that the help would get here in time.

I could feel the heat from the building now, flames were starting to burn through the boarded-up windows and smoke was pouring out. I looked at the building, then where I was; if I waited much longer, the ambulance may not be able to get back to me. "Shit," I said to myself. "Wrong place to wait for the bus!"

I shifted, picking her up so I could make the run for it. I could hear sirens in the distance, but I couldn't wait. I kept close to the fence, ignoring the heat as I ran through the open gate and along the driveway that went along the side of the building. I could hear and feel the fire building, it was roaring now, consuming everything. I had just made it to the road when I heard an explosion; dropping to my knees, I used my body to protect her as the heat wave rolled over us.

Trigger ran up just in time. "Take her," I said. He picked her up and I ran alongside, holding pressure on her wounds again. We got about a block away and set her on the grass between the sidewalk and the curb, making sure no cars blocked us from view. He set her down, me directing her to her side again, and Trigger ran into the road to flag down the help.

The first to arrive was a police officer; he parked to block incoming traffic, then grabbed his first aid kit. "What happened," he said as he ran up.

"Shot twice," I said. "We pulled her out of the building before it went up."

He tore open some bandages and placed them over the cloths we were using, then used a roll bandage to hold them in place. "Don't you take off the shirt first?"

"Nope, leave it on or you break up any clotting and the bleeding restarts," he said. He called in the situation on his radio. More police were arriving, then an ambulance parked by us and the paramedics took over. "Who is she?"

"Our buddy's wife. He's still in there." He went to call that in, I stopped him. "He's dead. The bastards killed him."


Trigger stepped in front of me. "Don't know, I saw them running out the back as we were walking back from the minimart. They had pillowcases filled with stuff in their hands. Probably hit the drug cabinet."

"We went in the back," I said, "but the flames were already hot. I checked Doc, he was dead, he found Kelly in the surgery room. We barely got her out before the flames made it to the hallway. We couldn't go back in to get him." The EMT's had just finished loading Kelly up. "I have to go with her," I said.

"Go," Trigger said, "I'll stay with them." I followed them to the ambulance, they loaded her in and I jumped in after him. I watched and listened during the ten-minute drive to the hospital emergency room; I didn't understand much, but I could tell they were worried. She had an oxygen mask on, an IV, and the monitor with her blood pressure was alarming every minute or so.

When we pulled up, they had me wait until they were out. The nurses wheeled her in, and I was left in the waiting room. I got shunted to admissions, I couldn't help much there. The only person she wanted was burned in the fire.
Beta Denise's POV

I was in the office, catching up on paperwork to distract me from the nervousness I felt at Charles' absence. I didn't like being away from him, there had been very few days in our twenty years as a mated couple where we hadn't seen each other. I didn't like the attack, I didn't like how things were going, but there was little I could do to change this Alpha's mind about things.

With the warriors gone, the remaining females who could fight were handling security. We didn't have enough people to do normal patrols, so we were down to two women on a five-mile perimeter. After the attack group had left, I gathered the remaining people to go over the drills. We had a safe room in the basement of the safe house; pregnant women, children and those who couldn't fight were told not to go too far away. The weaker warriors would protect the basement, while the stronger would fall back to the house and protect it. Fall back and protect the vulnerable, that was the plan.

I looked out the window of my office, the sun in my face, looking at the pines and birch trees of the surrounding forest. I couldn't see patrols, but I could see the children playing in the playground, the mothers gathered at the picnic table watching them. A few of the young were shifted, play fighting in the grass closer to the woods. It all seemed normal, but something was wrong. "Julie, Margaret, anything abnormal in your patrols?"

"North side is normal, Beta Denise," Margaret sent.

I waited for Julie, she didn't respond. Just then I saw a column of wolves heading towards the house at full speed. They weren't ours, and they were huge. "WE'RE UNDER ATTACK! WOLVES COMING FAST FROM THE SOUTH!"

I ran from the office as all hell broke loose. The front door was open, and wolves were rushing in, but they weren't ours. I shifted immediately, leaping into the fray as two of them ran towards me. Fighting and slashing, taking bites to my flanks and back, I tried to get past them as they ran for the stairs to get down. The brown one forced me back, while the gray one tried to flank me. "They are going for the safe room," I sent as I frantically tried to get past them.

They weren't fighting as I expected. One passed up a shot at my throat, breaking my front left leg instead. It was only when my left front leg was in the brown wolf's jaws that I realized what was happening. They didn't want to kill me, I was a female. They were fighting to disable. With two legs out, I couldn't fight, and the grey one was on my back, jaws on my neck, forcing me down. The other shifted. "Yield, female. It's over."

The other increased the pressure on my neck, his teeth bloodying it as it became harder to breathe. "They have taken the safe room, Beta Denise," I heard over the link. I relaxed my body, it was over. As I showed my neck, the big male over me released it.

"Shift." I obeyed, holding back the tears from the pain I felt from my torn and broken arms. "You are Beta Denise, you are in charge, correct?"

"Yes," I replied softly.

"Order them to stand down before more die. It's over."

I closed my eyes. "Stop fighting, surrender. It's over, they've taken the Pack House," I sent. The sounds of war and fighting stopped. They pulled me to my feet, I kept my eyes down as the shame of defeat washed over me. I was escorted out the front door, following instructions to have everyone meet in front of the house. We formed lines, many of us naked after the shift. No adult males had been spared, and some of the warrior females were gone too. I could see wounds on the attackers, we had gotten some licks in, but their numbers were greater than ours. Without our men here, we never had a chance.

The attackers formed a line in front of us, with some still searching the house and buildings for stragglers or guarding escape paths. A large, heavily scarred warrior stepped forward. "Welcome to the Brainerd Pack, I am Beta Chris Timms. Alpha Hans Johannsen sends his greetings. Be not afraid, cooperate and the violence is over for you. Alpha Hans has the largest Pack in the state, fully able to protect you and your families, unlike Alpha Clark. Now, please separate into three lines. Unmated females over thirteen in front, mated females in the second row, others in the third. Quickly now."

There was grumbling, and some didn't want to cooperate, and the wolves surrounding us started to growl and bite at those who weren't moving. "Cooperate, don't make it worse than it already is," I ordered. It took a minute or so for the line to form. The three adult women, all newly widowed in the fight, and eight teens were shaking as they tried to cover their bodies. They knew exactly what was going to happen as naked men started lining up in rank order. "Please, these girls are not of age to be mated per our laws," I said.

"They are old enough by nature," the leader said. "Our laws adapt to the crisis we now have. Men, make your choices." One by one the men walked down the line, some stopping at their choice for a mate. Grabbing the terrified female and tossing her over their shoulder, they took them into the Pack House, their arousal clear for all to see. Their screams died out as doors slammed, and I felt their Pack bond drop as the men claimed their new mates, biting into their necks as they came. While our former Pack members were being forcibly claimed, one of the young warriors was handing out clothes from the cabinets of extras we kept on the front porch. Soon all who had shifted in the fight sun dresses, or shorts and T-shirts on. I stood in the T-shirt dress, my eyes down in shame, as my failure grated on me.

The attacking males were smug, celebrating the new mates their Pack members had found. The ones who hadn't chosen were walking us in the second row, placing bites on our necks to indicate their choices. We couldn't be mated until our mates were killed. The attacking Beta himself, Chris Timms, moved towards my shoulder. My arms were still broken, but I head butted his face, following up with a knee to his groin. He quickly grabbed my leg, lifting and dropping me hard to the ground on my back. His body followed me down, forcing the wind out of me. One big hand forced mine together across my chest as he straddled me, too high up for my knees to dislodge him. He leaned down and bit into my shoulder. "I'll enjoy your submission to me, Beta." I glared at him.

He got off me, pulling me to my feet as his big hand bruised my upper arm from the grip. "Restrain the remaining women and female children," Beta Chris ordered as a line of SUV's pulled in front of the house. Boxes were taken from the back of one vehicle, and the warriors donned heavy leather gloves before pulling out silver-coated shackles from them. "Step forward one at a time to be shackled for your own safety," he said. "The shackles are designed so they don't hurt you if you don't struggle. We want you safe and healthy for your return trip, do not test us," he said.

"Comply and stay together," I ordered as I walked forward. It would be the last mental communication I made; the silver handcuffs tied my broken and cut up arms in front of my body, and the silver shut my wolf down. No pack link, no shifting, no wolf strength. I was escorted into the house and sat on a couch in the big living room area. The room quickly filled with prisoners and escorts until all the females were here. The female children and some of the women were crying as we leaned on each other for support, all forty-two of us in the room were now no more than property, waiting for our mates to be killed so we could be taken by another. They were out of linking range, and I prayed their attack would work.

The Beta walked in, escorting some young males who were shackled. I could hear screams for mercy from outside. "What are you doing?"

"We have no use for young boys or weak males," he said. "We only keep what makes our Pack stronger." The silver blocked the feeling of the Pack bonds, but we all heard the sounds of our Pack members being slaughtered. I was crying, begging him for mercy, but none was to be found. I begged Luna to intervene, to stop them, but she was silent to me. The noise of death stopped quickly, but the two women whose mates had just been killed were screaming in agony as their mating marks dissolved from their necks. The men who had chosen them ran forward, pulling them up the stairs to find an open bedroom they could use for their claiming.

The Beta went to the phone on the wall and dialed a number. "Alpha Hans, the attack is complete. We have fifty females total, and six teen males of promise." He listened for a moment. "I understand, sir. We will be ready for them."

He was smiling as he turned towards us, his dominance rolling over the room. "Alpha Hans is pleased you are now with us. He tells me your males are more cowardly than he thought. They turned around, there is no attack, they aren't going to extract a revenge. Our spy reports they are an hour away from slinking back into this territory with their tails between their legs." He looked at the warriors, silent commands going out. "They'll be dead before they see you."

Ch. 28

Vivian's POV

I had to get this vehicle off the road, but that wasn't going to be easy. I had two unconscious wolves in the back seat as I drove back towards St. Paul. Both would be knocked out for two more hours or so; Bruce and Todd were laying down and breathing evenly. Travis was dead, I had heard his lungs rattle before stopping. I never removed the silver from him, and the sedative was too much for his body. Good riddance.

My wolf wanted them dead, she wanted to bathe in their blood for what they had done. They had killed her friends, those she thought of as her Pack, but that wasn't all. They left the baby there to die, the baby my wolf had bonded with, the one who fought to live with all her strength. An innocent. She wanted to rip them apart while they screamed for mercy she wouldn't give.

I didn't know whether they were lucky or unlucky that I needed information more than revenge right now. I had exited the freeway, and drove around for a few minutes until I found a pay phone I could use from the SUV. I couldn't get out, my scrubs were covered in blood from Travis' emergency surgery. I called the clubhouse. "Northwoods Riders, this is Teri," she said.

"Teri, it's Vivian. Is Viper or Snake there?"

"Oh GOD, VIVIAN! Are you all right?"

"I'm fine, I need to talk to them." She yelled to Snake, and he ran to the phone. "Snake? Baby?"

"Oh God, Vivian, you're alive," he said. "We got to the clinic and you were gone."

"What happened, Snake?" My heart prepared itself.

"Doc's dead, baby. Kelly is still alive, she was taken by ambulance to Regions Hospital, we're sending some club members to stay with her. Crash is with her now, Trigger is still at the clinic along with some other members. We had to torch the place, too much evidence," he said.

He wasn't saying something. "Jennifer?" My voice was weak, pleading for good news.

"I'm sorry, baby. She didn't make it." Tears started flowing down my face. "Where are you?"

"North of Minneapolis. They got sloppy, I took them out, but we need information out of them. I don't know how they found us, but they were looking for me specifically."

I heard the phone being handed over as Snake said some words. "DeWalt, it's Viper. Don't go to the clinic or the clubhouse, both could be hot. You've got prisoners?"

"Yes, but if someone gets a good look inside this SUV I'm going to jail," I said.

He paused, letting a breath out. "Drive to my house, we'll meet you there. I'll have the garage door open and we'll be ready."

"Thanks Viper." I wiped away a tear. "I'm so sorry about Doc and Kelly. I never should have..."

"Just stop, DeWalt. It's not your fault. Drive safe." The line cut out and I hung up. Rolling up the tinted window and turning the air conditioning up higher, I headed back for the freeway.

Trigger's POV

Statements given, I stand behind the police tape and stared at the shell of a building that used to be DeWalt's clinic for pregnant Werewolf females. It's a total loss, the roof has collapsed in at the front, the flames had completely consumed everything inside. Stain, Tiny and Katie, and Rocket and Taser stood by me as we watched the fire crew overhaul the scene.

We heard someone yell, and a crowd of police detectives, firemen and the coroner were standing around a place where pieces of the roof had been removed. It was in the area of the hallway, I knew what it meant. "They found Doc," I said. "I feel like shit having to do that to him, he didn't deserve to be burned like that."

"He would want to protect DeWalt, you know that," Tiny said. "He didn't feel anything."

"We should have had more people here," Rocket said. "Any word on DeWalt?"

I shook my head. "No, she was gone before we got here. Snake's going nuts, I'm glad Viper took him and Jennifer. He was pretty protective of her, too, he's got to be crushed right now."

"I'll go call the club, see if they heard anything," Taser said. Rocket went with her as they walked to the pay phone at the minimart.

"You think the cops suspect anything," Tiny asked as he watched the others leave.

"I don't know. The power and phone cables were cut, the back door was pried open and bent. With what Crash and I told them about it being junkies seeking drugs, they should accept that. Easier than the truth."

He nodded. "Arson for money is out, the building is leased and DeWalt didn't have insurance on anything. She's out a ton of money." We continued to watch. Rocket and Taser's bike drove up just as they were removing a body bag from the rubble. We stood tall, hands on our hearts, as he was carried to the coroner's vehicle.

One of the cops looked at us. "Friend of yours?"

"Yes," I answered. "And a veteran, an Army medic. One of the finest men I've ever known." He nodded and walked back to the others. As the coroner's van pulled away, the police and firemen all stood at attention and saluted him.

When he was gone, Taser gave us the news. "Kelly is in surgery, Rocket and I are going down there. Viper needs you guys back at the clubhouse. He said he and Snake have something important to do in his basement, and they are bringing Hammer.

I smiled. Bringing Hammer, the club Master at Arms, meant only one thing. They caught one of the bastards who did this.

Vivian's POV

It had taken thirty minutes of nervous driving to make it to Viper's home. As promised, the garage door was up; it was a big garage, fitting of a guy who liked to work on his motorcycles. I could see a few bikes outside as I pulled in, recognizing Snake's and Hammer's rides. I pulled in, and before I shut it off the garage door was going down.

The guys rushed the truck as soon as the door was closed. Snake practically ripped open the door as I removed the belt, pulling me out and into his arms. He checked me over for wounds. "I'm fine," I said, then he pulled me into a kiss that took my breath away. We poured all our worry and love into that kiss, coming up for air only when Viper cleared his throat. "I love you, Snake,"

"I love you, Vivian. Now, who are these guys?"

"Werewolves from the Brainerd pack. The injured guy died, Doc took him out. The big guy is Todd, he's the leader of their bunch, and the one that gave the order to shoot Kelly and leave Jennifer behind. The other is Bruce, he was the one who shot her. I gave them a powerful sedative, they will be out for another hour at least. The dead wolf in the back is Frank, Doc killed him. Todd told me he had been sent here specifically to find me and return me to Alpha Hans."

I could see a smirk forming on Hammer's mouth. "I guess we should show our guests to their room then." He reached in and grabbed Todd's arm, pulling him out. He threw a shoulder under his arm and started walking into the house with him while Snake grabbed Bruce and followed him.

"What do we do with the other two," I asked Viper.

He walked over and grabbed some tarps. Laying one on the ground, he pulled Travis out, then rolled him in it like a burrito. He used some duct tape to hold everything in place. He then did the same with the wolf, before putting both back in the car. "When a few of the guys get here, I'll have them go bury the bodies out in the woods. We'll drop the SUV off at a chop shop, it's fairly new so it will get us some cash." He closed the door up. "Now come on, we've got to get you cleaned up."

He brought me into the guest bedroom of his house. "The shower's in there, towels are in the cabinet to the right of the sink. I'll find you something to wear and leave it on the bed," he said.

"Thank you," I said, my voice starting to break.

He pulled me into a hug, kissing my head. "I think of you as a daughter, Vivian. I haven't felt fear like I did when I heard about the attack since my wife got her diagnosis. I thought I had lost you, and I was barely hanging on." I hugged him back as I started to cry with him. "I'm just glad you are the toughest old lady in the club. Captured by three werewolves and you take over and come home to us."

"I did what I had to, Dad."

His eyes were full of tears. "We all will, that doesn't make it any less heroic. Now take a shower, our guests will wake up soon and Snake is waiting for you." He walked out the door and I went to take my shower. I tossed the soiled clothes into the garbage, stepping into the warm shower felt fantastic. I stayed in too long, until the hot water was gone, then I dried myself and wrapped a towel around my hair. I dried my body, leaving the towel on the counter as I walked out and froze.

Snake was sitting on the bed, staring at me. He had changed into scrubs, and he looked like a fantasy doctor come to life. His eyes bugged out, his jaw was dropped, and there was no mistaking the lust in his expression as his eyes raked my body. "Vivian..."

I didn't let him say another word. I rushed into him, pushing him back onto the bed as I straddled him and kissed him hard. I couldn't get his clothes off fast enough, and we didn't wait for his pants to pull off. I reached back, getting him aligned and dropping down as I moaned deep into his mouth. This time wasn't about romance or love, it was pure animal need and my wolf and I loved it. He rolled me onto my back, pounding me hard until we both came together. I pulled away from his mouth. "All I could think about was not having you with me any more," I said into his ear as he rolled me onto my side.

"I couldn't handle losing you," he said. "I was ready to burn the world to get you back." We kissed again, only to be interrupted by a knock on the door.

"If you two are done bumping uglies, our guests are waking up," Viper said.

"Couple minutes," Snake said. He got up and started to get dressed as I grabbed some underwear that had been left for me. It must have been his wife's, he'd never been able to get rid of her stuff. "You don't have to watch this, honey. Getting answers out of them is bound to be bloody. Hammer doesn't mess around."

"I can handle it," I said as we walked out the door.

We went out and got my medical kit out of the SUV, in case I needed it. We got downstairs and walked through a steel door into a room that had concrete walls and a ceiling. The door itself was sealed, and when the door closed you couldn't hear anything from outside. "The walls are eight-inch solid concrete, insulated on the outside. It's completely soundproof, they can scream all day and no one will know anything." The guys were dressed in scrubs, except Hammer. He wore black leather pants, a black shirt and a black, long leather jacket. He looked intimidating as hell.
The two prisoners were chained to metal chairs. Bruce was in front of the table, a single lamp on it illuminated him and the tools laid out for use. Todd was placed next to the table, his back to us. He could see Bruce, but not much else. They had used the silver chains I had made to hold them tight. They weren't fully conscious yet, but I could fix that. Opening my kit, I drew up two syringes. Each contained two chemicals; a stimulant to counteract the earlier sedative, and wolfsbane to retard their healing. I handed the two syringes to Hammer, and he took care of the injections for me.

A few minutes later, both men were awake and screaming. Wolfsbane feels like fire going through your veins and sets the nerves afire. We sat in the darkness as Hammer did his thing. "Welcome to my hell, boys," he said as he stood in front of them like a huge angel of death, which he basically was now. "You two have sinned greatly." He picked up a heavy construction hammer from the table, making sure the two saw it. They couldn't link each other, but I could see Bruce as his eyes got wide and filled with fear. Hammer knelt down in front of him. "They call me Hammer for good reason. I like this one," he said as he showed them the head. "It turns flesh into a waffle fry." He brought the hammer down hard on Bruce's left instep, and the scream of pain was immediate.

"Please," he begged.

"Oh, don't start now, I'm not even ready to ask questions yet. I'm just doing this because you pissed me off." He brought it down five more times, once on each toe on his left foot. Bruce was screaming and begging for mercy now. "Ooh, that must have hurt. That little piggy isn't going to market anytime soon."

I could smell the blood as he set the hammer down. "I can't have you bleeding to death now, can I?" Taking a propane torch, he lit it in front of his eyes, then knelt in front of him. He screamed and passed out as the torch cauterized the wounds, stopping the bleeding. Hammer stood up and shook his head. "Your friend doesn't have much of a pain tolerance, this is going to take all day Todd."

"Fuck you. You don't scare me."

Hammer just smiled at him. "Good. I'm hoping you provide a little more of a challenge." He used the blowtorch directly, burning off each of the toes on his left foot as he tried not to scream. "That's better." He worked on him for twenty minutes, using a hammer, blowtorch, linesman's pliers and a couple knives to introduce him to new levels of pain.

And he never asked a thing.

Bruce had woken up during the work and threw up on his shirt when he saw what was happening to Todd. Finally, Hammer stood and faced them. "You two are going to die, there is no escape from that fate. You killed my best friend, put his wife into intensive care, and let an innocent baby die. The only question is how much fun you let me have before I end you. The one who answers my questions gets a quick and relatively painless death. The other? I'm going to make this last DAYS. There's a whole line of people who loved them, people who want nothing more than to have a chance to torture the shit out of you until you beg for death. Now, which one is it going to be?"

The two looked at each other and both shook their heads no. Hammer just smiled. "I was hoping you would say that." He walked over to Todd as he put brass knuckles on. With one powerful right cross, he was out. "I didn't want interruptions, Bruce." Walking back, he used the brass knuckles on his ribs, you could hear them cracking as he methodically worked his way from shoulder to stomach.

It took an hour to break him, and he sung like a canary. It turned out he and the others were lone wolves, who sought to join a Pack. Alpha Hans said he didn't need men, he needed a doctor, and the only one he knew of that was left had fled the Boundary Waters pack. A spy there told him they had contacted her via a guy named Moose at Bill's Gun Shop. "He told us if we brought her back, we could have a place in the Pack, fifty grand each and a chance to pick a mate. He wanted Doctor Vivian DelMara, said that without her they had no chance of finding a cure. That was two weeks ago. We started following Moose, it took a while but we saw him go to this closed pet clinic with some other men. We sniffed around, there were two there, but the young one left in the morning. We watched for three days, and when we knew there were only two humans there with her, that's when we struck."

"Why kill the humans?"

"Frank was shifted when Todd used the crowbar to open the back door, he took down the human but was shot a couple times. We couldn't risk a human knowing of us."

"And the baby?"

"Not what we were sent to retrieve. I thought she was lying about it being an Alpha's child, no baby has survived."

Hammer's shoulders slumped. "Who else knows about the clinic?"

"No one else is down here, but the Alpha knows about Moose. It didn't take us long to figure out he was with a biker club, especially since it was the same club she helped save a guy with. A little research at the library and we found her marriage certificate and her new name. It wasn't hard, really. We haven't talked to the Alpha since we left, but he's going to find out. He's attacking the Boundary Waters Pack, he'll beat the information out of their Alpha." He looked Hammer in the eyes. "You have no idea how valuable this woman is. A pack doctor is gold, rumor is that she's the last one. Was that really an Alpha's daughter?"

"Yes, she was premature, but she survived. The only one from twelve mothers to do so. She was a beautiful baby, and she's lying dead in a cooler upstairs thanks to you."

Bruce looked down at his feet. "I'm sorry about that."

Hammer just turned his back to him, taking a combat knife from the table. "I know." Turning back, he slammed the knife into the top of his head, killing him instantly. He wiped the blood off his hands and the leather. "Come on, we need to talk." I allowed Snake to lead me out of the room, and Hammer turned out the light as he left. Todd would wake up to his buddy dead, a knife sticking out the top of his head.

We sat at Viper's kitchen table, he handed out Cokes as we sat down. "Your cover here is blown, DeWalt. I can't protect you."

"I can't ask you to, Dad. They'll kill more Club members to get to me."

He took my hand. "You two need to get the hell out of here. I'll have Marcus and Jessica come here, you can take them along. With Snake and a male werewolf, you have a chance if they don't know where you went." He got up and walked into his bedroom, returning a few minutes later with a bag. "There's about seventy grand in cash, plus some clothes."

"I'll trade you for this, I have stocks and bearer bonds in my room. I need the rest of the cash in there, though." I wrote down the combination of my room safe on a piece of paper for him. "Have Jessica grab my passport, identification, everything else in there and pack a bag of clothes for each of us. We'll get more later."

"I got that," Hammer said and went to make the call.

Viper put his hand on my shoulder. "I'll take care of your Harleys, and let the club know why you had to leave without saying goodbye," he said. "Don't tell me or anyone else where you are going, and don't call back. We'll pull the bodies out of the SUV, you can take that, no one knows it is stolen. If you need to talk, send a letter to me here, not at the clubhouse."

I was starting to cry, everything was falling apart, and I was running again. I leaned into Snake, sobs racking my body as Viper moved over to hug me around the waist.

I hugged him back, sensing deep down I would never see them again. An hour later, the four of us drove off into the unknown.
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