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    Grumpy Bear
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Serpent Mound - 9. A Grim Deliberation

The group gathered in the former ballroom of the mansion, which now served as an auditorium where the entire Academy could gather indoors for special events. Present were the entire werebear teaching and support staff, as well as Bernie, Joe, Manny, George, and Peter.

Gary had considered sending Manny and Peter to their rooms, since they were the only two not privy to the existence of were-creatures but decided that they’d already seen too much; leaving them out of the discussions at this point would only make them a liability.

George had found out about Joe’s wolf-lycan nature during their freshman year, when the curious George had followed Joe out into the woods surrounding the Academy on a full-moon night. Gary, Bill and Joe had taken George into their confidence following that night, and Joe and George’s friendship had been strong ever since with their shared secret.

Now, as the entire male staff of the Academy sat in the ballroom with the five boys up front, they looked at the images on the lowered screen on the room’s front wall. Supreme Alpha Taylor had called an emergency session of the North American Lycan Council, including Matthias as a special advisor, and now fifteen concerned men stared back out of the screen at the assembled Academy group.

Taylor asked Bernie to give a 30-minute recap of the events of his life, beginning with the day he found himself removed from his parents’ home and submitted to the ritual of the Tuath Dé, and ending with the experience at the mall.

Once all in attendance were up to speed on the history of the current situation, The Supreme Alpha then asked Joe to report on the events at the mall as well from his heightened perspective as a wolf-lycan.

“Everything from the point when the mist descended upon us was designed to fool three of our senses,” Joe explained, “Based solely on sight, sound, and touch, I would have been convinced that we had been transported magically to that forest.”

“However,” he continued, “Nothing smelled right. If we had been in a forest surrounded by dozens of other lycans as it appeared we were, the scents would have been going off the charts. I tried to get a scent of the wolves, boars, panthers, and even the skinny bear behind the bars in the cave. All I could smell was the mist. This was leading me to believe that nothing we saw or experienced in the forest was real.”

“If Bernie had refused to call the name of the wolf woman,” Axel asked from the screen, “Do you believe that the creatures she had summoned from the mounds would have killed you as they seemingly did to the movie characters?”

“No, sir,” Joe replied. “I tried to shout to Bernie not to respond to her and not to say her name; to call her bluff. However, I’m sure from his point of view, it was all very convincing, and he thought that he had to do it in order to save our lives.”

“Especially with Jenna there as well, screaming and crying,” Manny interjected.

“Right,” Joe replied, “That was a devious little twist. Manny wasn’t in the theater with the rest of us for the movie. He was with his girlfriend who was working at her job in the mall, so the woman sent the mist out into the rest of the mall to find them and bring them into the nightmare world where we were being held captive. The added tension of Jenna thinking that Manny was about to be killed by glowing animal-gods probably added to the pressure on Bernie to submit and comply.”

“So as far as we know now, the members of this cult are on their way to the Mt Savage Academy as we speak to take Bernie back for sacrifice,” Supreme Alpha Taylor said.

“That’s correct, Supreme Alpha,” Gary replied. “She has also mentioned in Bernie’s dreams the possibility of taking some or all of the werebears here in addition to the boy to replace the only werebear that they have in their group.”

“Explain this to me again,” Taylor said, “Why would she be interested in more bears?”

Bernie stood up to address the Supreme Alpha.

“The People are the worshippers of the Tuath Dé, and there needs to be representation for each of the animal deities with the exception of the Serpent. There are several pairs of wolves, three panthers, six boars, and only one bear…”

Bernie paused for a few seconds.

“My Papa.”

“He was not happy with what the woman… Rieka… was doing with me and the other children that they had kidnapped, and he is the one who took me away from the village in the night and returned me to the humans, knowing that he would be punished for his actions.

“I knew that The People could turn into animals, although my Papa rarely changed into a bear in front of me. Before today, I thought that The People were the only ones on Earth with this ability, and now it has been explained to me that the adults here at the Academy are all bears as well, and that there are many more… lycans… living in the world.

“When Papa freed me, Rieka imprisoned him in a cave, sealed by heavy iron bars. They’ve been keeping him alive, because without a bear, The People would not be in balance with the Tuath Dé. Now that I understand more of what is going on, I think that she is planning to take some of the men here… the werebears… to try to get them to join her in the village. If she can do that, she would have no more need for my Papa, and she could finally get rid of him.”

Supreme Alpha Taylor pondered what the boy had just told him.

“Cub, do you feel that your Papa is worthy of being saved?”

“Oh, yes!” Bernie exclaimed, “I’d want nothing more than to have my Papa back with me again.”

“Bollocks!” a voice shouted from the screen. It was Matthias.

“You have an objection to saving this bear, Ancient one?” the Supreme Alpha asked.

“You’re fucking right, I do!” the old bear replied. “That bear has been complicit with the rituals and the sacrifice of kindred children for millennia, and just because he’s taken a shine to this one Cub, we’re supposed to forgive the transgressions of the past?”

“I think…” Taylor said, choosing his words carefully, “That is exactly what we must do. When great evil has occurred in the past, it is only when one lycan is brave enough to be the first to stand and resist do we see the good finally prevail.

“Matthias, a few years before we reconnected with you, we faced a great crisis. There were many wolf packs in the American Midwest who had become a dangerous cult. This very Council ignored their behavior for centuries because we didn’t want to get involved. It was only when the actions of those cultists began to affect surrounding packs and this very Council did we finally step in and put a halt to their evil.

“Once dealt with, we could have chosen to put all members of those packs to death, or confine them to indefinite prison sentences, but instead, we gave them the opportunity to repent their prior actions and reform their ways to join in peace with modern society. To date, nearly three quarters of the former lycan cultists have been reformed and integrated into other packs across the continent. Of the quarter that remain radicalized, although they remain in our prisons, we hold out hope that on an individual basis, they can someday be reformed.

“If the bear in question had not made the choice to stand up to these ancient radicals and finally say, ‘No, I’m not going to continue to participate in this any longer,” we would not have even known that they exist, and we would still be unaware of the evil that they have carried forth with them through the centuries.”

“Huh,” Matthias replied after Supreme Alpha Taylor concluded his opinion, “I suppose I’m from a time when the punishment for most crimes was death and forgiveness wasn’t a viable option. If this council feels that lycans have the ability to reform and be forgiven, then you would have every reason to give this bear a second chance. Odin knows that his life must have been one of complete misery, living with those lunatics for thousands of years without another bear for a Mate or a Cub.

“I concede, Supreme Alpha. The boy’s Papa is worthy of saving.”

“Thank you, Ancient one,” Taylor said, “Even when we must weigh your thoughts and opinions against the changes brought forth by the march of progress, we value those opinions no less and appreciate you for them.”

“That’s the fanciest way anyone has ever told me to shove it up my ass!” Matthias replied, and the entire meeting erupted with laughter.

“Back to the immediate urgency,” Taylor said after the laugher had died down, “We need to get backup to the Academy at once. Councilmember Thomas, are you ready to deploy?”

“My Cub is packing as we speak, Alpha,” Thomas replied. “Once the meeting is adjourned, we will be on-site in two hours and thirty minutes.”

“Chad!” Taylor shouted to his Beta off-camera, “Get Apollo on the call immediately!”

“Rieka’s forces can’t be that large,” Taylor surmised. “From what the Cub has told us about his time with them prior to his escape, and from what the boys witnessed in the dream-state at the mall, there should only be twenty-five wolves, panthers and boars or less. The bears at the Academy are currently outnumbered, but once Thomas and Sam arrive for backup, and if we count the presence of Joe, we’re closer to evening the odds, but we will still have to deal with the power of the Tuath Dé at it's source. We’ll need to deploy Apollo’s forces to ensure success.

“Beta! Do you have Apollo yet?”

“Yes, Supreme Alpha,” Chad’s voice could be heard off-screen. “He was… occupied, but he’s joining the meeting right now.”

On cue, an additional attendee appeared on the screen. A handsome, lean wolf with a hint of a five o’clock shadow on his chin. He was hastily pulling a clean white t-shirt over his muscular torso as he sat in front of the camera.

“Supreme Alpha… Councilmembers…” Apollo addressed the meeting, “I assume if you’re calling me at this hour on a Saturday evening, there must be an emergency.”

“Indeed, General Apollo,” the Supreme Alpha replied, “It seems that the Appalachians have once again been hiding an ancient evil. I will have Adam send you the full meeting recording when we are concluded so that you can be fully briefed on your transport to Maryland.”

“Maryland?” Apollo asked. “Are we going to…”

“Mount Savage again,” Taylor interrupted. “The Academy, in fact. There are some minor gods from pre-history who have been surviving the years with a small band of lycan worshippers by consuming the souls of kindred human wolves, panthers, boars, and bears. This has only come to our attention due to one of their intended sacrifices escaping his captors. Now, those worshippers are coming to take him back. Luckily for him, he just happens to be a cadet at the only military school that also accepts wolf-lycans, and he’s befriended your pack’s little problem child… Joe.”

“I just want to say, Alpha Apollo,” Gary interrupted, “Joe is an exceptional student, and he has made great strides in the three years he has spent at the Academy. He will make an exemplary member of your pack once again following his graduation next year, and he has shown bravery and leadership in the current emergency.”

“Thank you, Headmaster,” Apollo replied. “I knew that sending him to you would be the right decision to handle his reform, and Joe… I will let your parents know of this praise.”

“Thank you, Alpha,” Joe said, lowering his head in deference.

“There will not be much time for conversation,” the Supreme Alpha said, assuming control of the discussion once again, “I want you to contact your Beta, Colonel Banshee immediately and the two of you need to have your full team on your C-17 Globemaster in two hours. Understood?”

“Yes, Supreme Alpha,” Apollo replied with a stern expression.

“We spent enough money on that plane, it’s time to put it to use,” Taylor stated. “I hope you can get in touch with Colonel Banshee with little delay?”

The words were barely out of the Supreme Alpha’s mouth when a voice could be heard coming from the background off-camera from Apollo’s end.

“My ears are burning! Sugar buns, why the fuck are you on the computer on our date night when you’re supposed to be keeping me warm in bed, and why is your secret boyfriend talkin’ about me?”

At that moment, Colonel Susie Banshee stepped into camera view behind Apollo wearing a flimsy silk kimono.

Apollo winced and lowered his face into his hand.

“Oh!” Susie said, seeing the assembly of faces on the screen, “Oh, shit! Good evening, Supreme Alpha… Councilmembers… Is this an emergency Council session?”

“It is indeed, Colonel,” the Supreme Alpha said. Everyone else in the meeting had spontaneously put themselves on mute, so they could freak out over the current development on their screens without being heard. “I was just telling… my secret boyfriend… that the two of you need to have your team assembled and be wheels-up on the C-17 in exactly two hours on your way to Mt. Savage, Maryland. Understood?”

“Affirmative, Supreme Alpha,” Susie replied. “If we’re going to Mt. Savage… again… we’ll have to commandeer the regional airport in Cumberland to land the plane and begin mobilizations.”

“Good thinking, Colonel,” Taylor said, “I’ll make the arrangements while you’re in transit and when you get there the airport will be yours.”

“What sort of terrain should we expect for the battlefield, and what sort of enemy will we be engaging?” Susie asked, all business, practically shoving the still embarrassed Sugar Buns out of frame at the computer.

“Battlefield terrain will be mountainous forest,” the Supreme Alpha replied. “The enemy will be two-dozen wolf, boar, and panther lycans, an unknown number of ethereal, undead wights capable of physical attack and mental manipulation, and five ancient, corrupted gods. These are the last survivors of the tribe of the gods, the Tuath Dé.”

“Oh honey-bun, did you hear that?” Susie asked, casually turning to the side, and addressing Apollo, “All we have to do is go to the mountains and fight undead wights and five ancient, corrupted gods. No sweat. We’ll probably be back in time for the pups’ soccer tournament next weekend.”

“Colonel Banshee,” the Supreme Alpha said in a stern voice, “Do you have anything else to say about your mission?”

“No, Supreme Alpha,” Susie replied, “But is now a good time to tell you that Apollo and I are Mated?”

“Mazel tov!” Matthias shouted.

****

The bonfire crackled in the middle of the village. Rieka the wolf sat facing the fire with Namir the panther and Everett the boar on either side of her. Filling the rest of the space around the fire were The People.

They awaited Rieka’s instructions. She controlled the wights and spoke directly with the Tuath Dé. Her word was law in the village.

“People,” Rieka began, “We have the location of the bear kindred boy. After so many years, he has finally spoken my name aloud and that connection has made his soul burn as brightly as this bonfire to my vision.”

“How far away is he?” Namir, asked. “The wights can transport The People there to retrieve him and return him home again, but you know that they do not travel as fast as the humans are capable in this age with their machines.”

“He is approximately five hundred miles to the northeast within this same mountain range,” Rieka replied.

“The wights will require most of a day to transport us each way,” Everett said. “When do we leave.”

“You and Namir leave right after this meeting,” Rieka replied. “I want all three of our panthers in the company as well as all six of our boars. Six wolves will join you, leaving the remaining six wolves and myself to defend the Tuath Dé and guard the three sacrifices.”

“Should we employ a specific strategy?” Namir asked.

“The wights will direct you to the boy, wherever in their school campus he may be hiding. However, be aware that the teachers and staff of this school are all male, and they are all werebears. Karhu has outlived his usefulness. If you can incapacitate any of the bears, take them as captives. We will hold them here with us in the village until they learn to be one with The People. Balance must be maintained, and the bear-god must have new worshippers.”

“It will be done as you command,” Everett replied bowing his head to the wolf.

Namir looked infinitely more skeptical that their small team would be able to overpower and capture full gown werebears, but she too nodded her head at Rieka.

“As you command,” she repeated.

“People!” Rieka now addressed to all in attendance. “Boars and Panthers, join your leaders in the circle.” Namir and Everett had already moved to the side of the bonfire to stand within a circle of white quartz crystal stones.

“Six male wolves, enter the circle. The six female wolves will remain with me and defend the village.”

The six pairs of wolf mates gazed at each other for a brief moment to say goodbye, but the males quickly complied and entered the circle along with the panthers and boars.

“Wights!” Rieka cried, looking to the sky, “I can see the boy’s soul now, burning brightly as a flame! Take these People with you and go to him now! Collect our sacrifice and any others the People can capture and bring them back to the village with all of your speed!”

At her words, the white mist formed over the circle and began spinning faster and faster above the heads of the People. A funnel cloud formed, and the walls of the small cyclone lowered around the circle, enclosing the People within the eye. In a flash, the funnel rose from the ground becoming a cloud of mist once again, but the People no longer stood in the circle. They were within the dream-world of the wights.

“Go!” Rieka commanded the cloud, “And do not return without our sacrifice.”

Copyright © 2021 Grumpy Bear; All Rights Reserved.
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Wow, we are in for one almighty battle. All the gang back together again, fighting to save the life of Adam and his Papa.

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Oh, all hell is about to break loose.  Can't wait.  OMG, did not see the Apollo and Susie situation coming at all, good one....

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OMG! Supreme Alpha Secret Boyfriend and Sweet Buns! I could see everyone rolling on the floor laughing and screaming and crying with this one, to the utter confusion of the boys. Good thing they were fast on the draw with their Mute buttons! :rofl:  Really never saw Apollo and Banshee coming! She’ll keep him on his toes, though, when she isn’t making his face red with embarrassment! 🐺🐺 They’ll make good Mates.

Well, the battle is on the way. Hopefully, Apollo and his cohorts will get there in time. They’re going to have their hand full with this one.

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Apollo and Susie!!!!!!!!!! I forking knew it! Susie couldn't have stayed single for long, especially to Big Daddy Apollo! And they've mated? While this chapter suggests that bad things are coming, I am on cloud nine with this new relationship!

Sorry, secret boyfriend Supreme Alpha Taylor...

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