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    astone2292
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Cernunnos - 43. Chapter 43

Arric snarled as he pocketed the phone, prompting a questioning look from his driver.

“What’s up, Alpha?”

“New development. You don’t leave my side. We need to find Doctor Morgan.”

“Cyn’s surgeon? Why?”

“He’s a mole and told Eike of the cern’s whereabouts when he was in the hospital.” The car accelerated, alarming him. “Relax! No need to get—”

“Anton’s there. I love Walter, but I don’t think he can fight someone like Morgan.”

Realization hit Arric hard. He swiftly drew his phone and dialed his beta. A few dial tones later, and the cheery voice came through, “Hey, Arric! Anton’s going to head to surgery in a few minutes.”

“Who’s performing?”

“Doc Morgan, of course.”

“Stall them, Walt! He’s the one who told Eike where Cyn was when he was laid up. If you have to, get Anton out of the building.”

“Shit! Understood, Alpha.”

“Kieran and I are on the way.” Hanging up, Arric tensed up and clutched the safety handle. “There’s a button near the emergency brake. It’ll turn on the lights and siren.”

Glancing at Arric, Kieran felt around to his left and found the button. A loud siren came to life and he noticed the vehicles in front of him making a path. “Arric? Are you supposed to have this?”

Without a smile, he said, “Perks of my position.” Too much was on the alpha’s mind. Get there, rush to the room, apprehend that bastard!

If he’s got Anton on a table, we need a distraction. He dialed another number. Good thing I saved his number.

“Yes, Alpha Claude?”

“Doctor Ronnet. I need to secure a patient.”

“Yes, Beta Haynes is with me now. Consider Anton in good hands.”

Relief trickled through Arric’s mind, “Stay on your guard, doctor.”

A few turns later, Kieran pressed the button. Parking in the first available spot, they ran to the front door. Skipping the receptionist, the duo opted to take the stairs. Arriving on the floor, Arric quickly asked a nurse for room 249 and followed her directions. As they spotted the door, the alpha saw him. Morgan.

The doctor noticed and made a u-turn. Arric increased his pace, “I’m on him.”

Kieran whispered, “Right behind you.”

Having the wolf trailing him both comforted and scared him. I’ve never seen Key in a situation like this! He’s never been a combatant. Nevertheless, he pursued.

Morgan slipped behind a familiar door. That’s the door to surgery. Knowing it would lock, he craned his head, “Key, get a squad here to surround the building. He’s not getting away.”

“On it.” Kieran backed down and thumbed his phone furiously. “Want me to cover the front entrance? I doubt he’d use—.”

“No. I’m kicking it down.”

Measuring the distance between him and the target, Arric launched his foot. The door gave some, but remained in place. One more! Repeating the attack, it flew open. Yells and gasps filled his left ear. Ignoring Kieran’s attempts to calm the staff, he cautiously entered the room. “It’s over, Morgan! Turn yourself in.”

Clattering noises, metal against metal, came from ahead. Arric growled to himself. Surgery room. He probably has a scalpel or something. Kneeling, he bit his lip. He hadn’t attached his ankle holster. Damn! I don’t even have a knife on me.

His instincts became his weapon. Silently, he traversed the room, keeping an eye on the door. Hearing a light sound, he walked around a small table and rested against a small wall separating the room. He listened. His breathing is close. He might be on the other side of this wall. How do I go about this? He’s collected and prepared right now. Maybe I should unnerve him? He may be a surgeon, but he shouldn’t be too familiar with a physical fight.

Borrowing his wolf’s voice, he let out a phlegm-riddled snarl. It served as a warning, but more importantly, a scare tactic. Another sound of metal clanging followed. Bingo. Approaching the open doorway into the surgery room, Arric smelled a mild laundry detergent. He stepped in and swiftly fell back. An arm flung out with a scalpel in hand, missing him by an inch. Behind the wall!

Arric grabbed the arm and landed a hefty blow to Morgan’s side. The doctor’s body recoiled, but with the arm anchored to Arric’s grip, the traitor was going nowhere. Digging the knife out of Morgan’s hand, he tossed it to the side and swept the smaller man’s legs. There wasn’t much resistance. “You’re under the arrest for conspiracy to commit murder and abetting rogues. Now get the fuck up! You run, I’ll catch you again.”

With Morgan on his feet, Arric held the man’s wrists together and ushered him out into the hallway. The gasps filled the bustling hall. Nurses gathered together, whispering to each other. Kieran was up ahead, speaking with security officers. “Need some cuffs!” One of the guards’ eyes widened and nodded, complying with the request. With the steel restraints attached, Arric grumbled, “Get him to the station. I’ll be there shortly.”

The officers took Morgan away without question. Kieran shuffled to Arric’s side, “You aren’t hurt, are you?”

“No. He was careless and hid behind a wall. I knew what he would try to do. Took everything I had not to beat him to a pulp.”

Kieran’s arms wrapped around his waist, “Do… do you mind if we see Anton?”

Embracing the scribe, Arric nodded. They arrived at the room to find the door locked, “Walt? Doc?”

The door slowly opened, revealing Walter’s peeping gaze, “Alpha. Was he apprehended?”

“Yes. Great job locking down the room.”

“Just doing my job. Haven’t seen this much excitement in a while!” Letting the couple in, Arric saw Ronnet hovering over Anton. “The doc called for the staff to stand by. He’ll be taking over Anton’s surgery.”

“It’s a minor one, but it’ll help him heal faster before a proper shift.” Ronnet examined the monitors before approaching the alpha. “I still can’t believe it. Morgan? He’s been here for years and always showed compassion for his patients.”

Arric crossed his arms, “I’ll interrogate him about his reasoning. Until then, I suggest going over his past surgeries and checking on any former-prey shifters. I wouldn’t ignore any postoperative complications.”

“Yes, Alpha. I’ll get the board to get started on that.” The doctor rushed through the door with his phone out, but came back in with furrowed brows, “I think one of the pack members is heading straight for us.”

Concerned for a second encounter, Arric stood in the doorway. A smile came to his face, “Don’t worry, he’s clear.” Watching the taller man pace towards him, Arric stepped forward, “Can I help you, Orson?”

The bear stopped and bared his neck, “I heard about Anton. Is he okay?”

“He’s about to head to surgery, but he’ll make it. Was your patrol called to secure the building?”

Orson shook his head, “No, sir. Sam and Pam’s surveillance team was, and they told me everything. I… I came to volunteer to watch over Anton.”

Arric squinted, “I just apprehended one traitor. This seems a little suspicious.”

Taking a step back, Orson vigorously waved his hands, “N-no, Alpha Claude! I mean no harm. It… it sounds sketchy, but I’ve kept my eye on the little wolf for some time now.”

Examining him, Arric inhaled. He’s genuinely concerned. Very little nervousness, but also no pride or confidence.

Walter came from behind the alpha and swatted Arric’s back, “Alpha, can’t you see? Orson here cares for Anton.”

With the suggestion, he reevaluated the bear. Blushing cheeks? Pocketed hands? I knew Orson played for the away team, but I didn’t expect this. “Very well. This works out since I’ll need Walter to reconvene with other leaders. Take care of the…”

Looking behind him at the sleeping body, Arric snorted. He was attacked. He did his job and led us in the right direction. I can’t call him a runt anymore. He’s earned my respect. Turning back to Orson, he sighed, “Take care of him.”

“Yes, Alpha. I’ll be by his side at all times.”

Nodding, Arric accepted the promise and walked away with Kieran’s hand in his. His instincts told him Walter was right behind him as he hailed the elevator. “Everything okay, Walt?”

A haggard huff came from the older lycan, “I’m alright, but this whole thing is wearing me out.”

Arric bit his cheek. The statement carried weight. Is this it? Is hunting down Eike going to be the event that forces me to ask him to retire?

“I’ve been meaning to ask something, Arric.”

The alpha turned to his beta, “What is it?”

Walter, with half of a smile, put both hands on his hips, “This whole rogue mess… particularly having to secure Anton, got me thinking. I don’t think I’m fit to lead anymore.”

“What?” Arric was blown away. He didn’t expect Walter to initiate this conversation. I thought Shea and I would have to pin him down! “What makes you say that?”

The beta grumbled, “I can’t lie to you. I froze after you hung up. It took Ronnet passing by for me to snap out of it and ask him for help. The thought of getting into a fight didn’t bother me, but my hesitation did. I should have acted quicker.”

The elevator doors opened, but Arric wasn’t moving a muscle. “What are you saying, Walt?”

“I’m saying… I’ll be putting in some nominations for my replacement.”

He didn’t know how to respond. Arric wanted to growl, but knew Walter deserved better. He thought about asking the wolf to reconsider, but knew it would be pointless. Once the old man makes up his mind, there’s no going back.

Walter slapped Arric’s shoulder, “I ain’t backing down from this either. Quit trying to think of a way out.”

A lull sat between the three men before Arric whispered, “Who are your nominations?”

The beta hummed, “Off the top of my head, I see three options. Pierce is a viable choice. He’s connected to every major human office in the surrounding territories, and openly combats your initial decisions. It’d be good to have that in your council. That, and he has a mean right hook.

“Then, there’s Jaime. He’d be a wild card. Not exactly social, but he can dig psychologically and formulate attack plans with your commanders. He’s gifted with the technological mumbo-jumbo and whatnot, so that’s another brownie point. His only flaw is being too much of a kidder.”

Walter sighed, then turned to Kieran, “You’re my third recommendation.”

The scribe stammered, “M-me?”

Arric glanced at his boyfriend, but understood his beta’s train of thought, “I agree. You’re more brilliant than you give yourself credit for. The only thing I have against it is our relationship.”

“Why?” Walter smirked, “Who else has your ear at the moment? One of the three isn’t here.”

Kieran seemed visibly unsure, “This… this is a lot to take in. I already have a lot on my plate with teaching!”

“Hey, hey.” Arric held the wolf’s back, “It’s just a nomination. You can reject it at any time.”

The beta took a step forward, “The job isn’t hard, Kieran. It’s mostly giving your opinion on how to help run the pack and being there for our alpha.”

Looking between the higher councilmen, Kieran backed away, “Whoa… Are you two trying to set me up for this?” He stared at Arric, “Is this why you took me to breakfast the other morning? To try to push me towards the position?”

The question alarmed Arric, but Walter cut in, “I just dumped this on Arric, okay Kieran? Our leader asked his advisor for my recommendations, and I answered them honestly. The coincidence of my retirement and your relationship with Arric is just that; coincidental. That would be a conversation between the two of you.”

“Walt’s right,” Arric pocketed his hands, “We haven’t talked much about keeping our work and love lives separate yet. Whether you decide to pursue the nomination is completely up to you.”

The scribe stared at the floor for a minute. After a sigh, Kieran pulled his hair back and tied it with a band. Seeing the poofy ball of curly hair amused the alpha, but he kept the emotion hidden.

“I think I need some time to think about the nomination, but like I told you, my work with students comes first. The same goes for the pack.”

Arric smiled and took Kieran in his arms, “Take all the time you need. Remember that I’m here for you, Key."

Copyright © 2021 astone2292; All Rights Reserved.
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The complication of Anton going into surgery under Morgan forced matters to a direct confrontation and Morgan condemned himself by trying to run and then attacking Arric. It signals he's guilty of more than a simple phone call.

Walter shows why he's been an ideal beta by knowing when to step down. I believe he knew this day was coming; his nominations came too quick.

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Just how many have succumbed to Eike's way of thinking?

Is there a position in the Pack for an Elder Stareman, an emeritus perhaps for Walt to fill. Something where he could still advise but be out of the chain of command.

Does Key need an official position as Beta? Arric will listen to what his mate, (yeah I may be a bit ahead of the official statement but we know it's coming unless you've become a twisted ****) has to say regardless. The other concern is as Beta, Arric would need to dispatch him to do the same things as Walt, will Arric be able to send Key into harms way?

Jumping Jaime from a relatively minor position to second in command seems a stretch. 

From a strictly tactical point I think Pierce the most logical choice. Note, I did not say best.

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6 hours ago, drpaladin said:

The complication of Anton going into surgery under Morgan forced matters to a direct confrontation and Morgan condemned himself by trying to run and then attacking Arric. It signals he's guilty of more than a simple phone call.

Walter shows why he's been an ideal beta by knowing when to step down. I believe he knew this day was coming; his nominations came too quick.

I love the analytical recap! What is Arric going to find from interrogating Morgan? 

Walt's a thinker. He probably had the thought on his mind, but with spouting three options "off the top of his head," he wasn't prepared for Arric's demand of options. 

4 hours ago, dughlas said:

Just how many have succumbed to Eike's way of thinking?

Is there a position in the Pack for an Elder Stareman, an emeritus perhaps for Walt to fill. Something where he could still advise but be out of the chain of command.

Does Key need an official position as Beta? Arric will listen to what his mate, (yeah I may be a bit ahead of the official statement but we know it's coming unless you've become a twisted ****) has to say regardless. The other concern is as Beta, Arric would need to dispatch him to do the same things as Walt, will Arric be able to send Key into harms way?

Jumping Jaime from a relatively minor position to second in command seems a stretch. 

From a strictly tactical point I think Pierce the most logical choice. Note, I did not say best.

Put yourself in a wolf's... shoes (I guess)? There is now an extra step in the hunting process; are they or are they not a shapeshifter? Just as in our real world, some don't like the sudden change in their daily lives, and some will go to extremes to protest. 

I love the opinions on the nominations, particularly Kieran's. Don't tempt me... I'm easily tempted to make changes. :devil:

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1 hour ago, astone2292 said:

I love the analytical recap! What is Arric going to find from interrogating Morgan? 

Walt's a thinker. He probably had the thought on his mind, but with spouting three options "off the top of his head," he wasn't prepared for Arric's demand of options. 

Put yourself in a wolf's... shoes (I guess)? There is now an extra step in the hunting process; are they or are they not a shapeshifter? Just as in our real world, some don't like the sudden change in their daily lives, and some will go to extremes to protest. 

I love the opinions on the nominations, particularly Kieran's. Don't tempt me... I'm easily tempted to make changes. :devil:

I would agree that an extra step during hunting is hard, but the way I see it, Eike isn't hunting at all. He is deliberately going out of his way to murder prey shifters. And he doesn't seem to be doing it very quietly. And when you think about how many pack can smell Cyn, and understand he's a shifter himself, not falling back on your smell in a hunt just seems rather suspicious. It seems like anyone on a hunt should be able to smell a shifter, unless they're nose blind. Which is a possibility.

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7 minutes ago, Yeoldebard said:

I would agree that an extra step during hunting is hard, but the way I see it, Eike isn't hunting at all. He is deliberately going out of his way to murder prey shifters. And he doesn't seem to be doing it very quietly. And when you think about how many pack can smell Cyn, and understand he's a shifter himself, not falling back on your smell in a hunt just seems rather suspicious. It seems like anyone on a hunt should be able to smell a shifter, unless they're nose blind. Which is a possibility.

Just had to stick up for my evil characters a bit :P What's been lingering in my mind is the concept of Shea mating with Cyn, a former-prey shifter. What would Cyn think if Shea wanted to go hunting non-shifter prey (deer)? Or would Shea completely give up hunting? I think this might be a conversation in the near future...

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2 hours ago, astone2292 said:

Just had to stick up for my evil characters a bit :P What's been lingering in my mind is the concept of Shea mating with Cyn, a former-prey shifter. What would Cyn think if Shea wanted to go hunting non-shifter prey (deer)? Or would Shea completely give up hunting? I think this might be a conversation in the near future...

Actually, I think Cyn might be okay with it. He's definitely in tune with the natural world, and more than that, early in the story, he was very much survival of the fittest. It doesn't seem like it would be hard to convince him that hunting weaker deer would make herds stronger while still respecting the natural order and ensuring food for the wolf pack.
Now if he realizes the wolves are basically hunting for fun, *THAT* might be an issue.

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22 minutes ago, Yeoldebard said:

Actually, I think Cyn might be okay with it. He's definitely in tune with the natural world, and more than that, early in the story, he was very much survival of the fittest. It doesn't seem like it would be hard to convince him that hunting weaker deer would make herds stronger while still respecting the natural order and ensuring food for the wolf pack.
Now if he realizes the wolves are basically hunting for fun, *THAT* might be an issue.

I like this. I can see this happening...

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Packed with action!  Another chapter with little surprises!  Walt stepping down... Nominating 3 good candidates for beta...Kieran being one of the nominations.   All 3 would make good betas.  I think Jamie would be the "underdog" so to speak but it might be a great fit.  Key would be my first choice (of course) but would the relationship get in the way?  Could Arric send his mate (or soon to be mate?) into a dangerous situation?  I agree that Pierce might be the most qualified but is he a good fit?   As much as I want to say Kieran, I think I like Jamie.  It would force him to be more serious but I think he could step up and really shine.  I know Kieran could, as smart as he is, but the relationship might be his hindrance.  And I really like Jamie...he might bring some lightheartedness to the super serious Arric...  Gotta say that I'm going to miss Walt.  Love that old wolf!!!  He definitely needs to be in a position to lend his vast knowledge - elder maybe?  Anyway, awesome chapter again!!!!

Edited by Patch1
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1 hour ago, Patch1 said:

Packed with action!  Another chapter with little surprises!  Walt stepping down... Nominating 3 good candidates for beta...Kieran being one of the nominations.   All 3 would make good betas.  I think Jamie would be the "underdog" so to speak but it might be a great fit.  Key would be my first choice (of course) but would the relationship get in the way?  Could Arric send his mate (or soon to be mate?) into a dangerous situation?  I agree that Pierce might be the most qualified but is he a good fit?   As much as I want to say Kieran, I think I like Jamie.  It would force him to be more serious but I think he could step up and really shine.  I know Kieran could, as smart as he is, but the relationship might be his hindrance.  And I really like Jamie...he might bring some lightheartedness to the super serious Arric...  Gotta say that I'm going to miss Walt.  Love that old wolf!!!  He definitely needs to be in a position to lend his vast knowledge - elder maybe?  Anyway, awesome chapter again!!!!

I'm sure Walt will stick around, but Arric and Kieran have a lot of thinking to do. 

Always happy to see your comments, Patch. 

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May the best man/person/wolf become the beta...that's all...while we ruminate about an eventuality...there's still bad wolves to catch!!!! Focus peeps...focus!!!!!!

More importantly...Just what does the good doctor know, and as he spills his secrets, will the location of possible hideouts become known...Timing is an issue here lest Elke gets a heads up and skedaddles to other places unknown!!

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11 hours ago, drsawzall said:

May the best man/person/wolf become the beta...that's all...while we ruminate about an eventuality...there's still bad wolves to catch!!!! Focus peeps...focus!!!!!!

More importantly...Just what does the good doctor know, and as he spills his secrets, will the location of possible hideouts become known...Timing is an issue here lest Elke gets a heads up and skedaddles to other places unknown!!

We'll get back to the manhunt soon enough. I'm not sure if Morgan has many secrets to spill involving Eike. I wonder where he's lurking...

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On 9/15/2021 at 2:49 PM, astone2292 said:

Just had to stick up for my evil characters a bit :P What's been lingering in my mind is the concept of Shea mating with Cyn, a former-prey shifter. What would Cyn think if Shea wanted to go hunting non-shifter prey (deer)? Or would Shea completely give up hunting? I think this might be a conversation in the near future...

Somebody's got to stick up for the Bad Guys.  If not their creator, then who?  

Personally, Aaron, I like the worlds you create with a wide range of character types and their stories.

Zeke

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