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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Spirit Wolves - 17. Chapter 17

Plans to be made. Let's see what Sebastian has come up with.

The sun was still far beyond the eastern horizon when the charter plane’s wheels left the ground and ascended into the starry sky. Reilly was proud of how Sebastian reacted when he told Alberts they had to return to Montana right after the banquet. Alberts had smugly informed them that the Council’s plane wasn’t available until Sunday, as originally planned. Sebastian had promptly arranged for a private charter to fly them home, courtesy of Council funds of course.

The banquet hadn’t been as bad as Reilly thought it would be. Other than Alberts and his minions, the other shifters that they met were pleasant enough. Still, none of them were comfortable in larger group settings. It was something that Sebastian, and Reilly especially, were going to have to get used to. Reilly had spent eight years of his life trying not to be noticed and now that his and Sebastian’s status had been officially acknowledged and sanctioned, it would be much harder to avoid the limelight.

He knew they were all relieved to be leaving Europe behind them. Being away from one’s pack for any extended length of time was always stressful on their wolves. Having to deal with the shit they were currently dealing with just added to that stress.

“So what’s going to happen when we get home?” Reilly asked, yawning as he let his head rest against Sebastian’s shoulder.

“We need to have a meeting with Caleb, Wayne, Sandi, Rosalie and Silas. Kellan’s dad should be there too. First priority is to see what information we can come up with regarding this new facility Alberts was referring to. It would be nice to know if it’s in Idaho, or if we’re going to have to scour the whole US for it.”

“Knowing my father, it probably won’t be too far away. Whenever he’s involved with something, he wants to be in control. I can’t see him relying on another Alpha to give him permission to do anything.”

“That’s good to know,” Sebastian kissed the side of Reilly’s head.

Another yawn stretched Reilly’s face and Sebastian told him to get some sleep. They were traveling through what remained of the night, once again making a quick stop for fuel and were scheduled to land in Great Falls around noon. Sebastian already asked Caleb to have everyone they needed there for a meeting midafternoon.

It wasn’t long before the only noise was the constant drone of the jet’s engines. It had been an extremely long day, starting before the sun was up. The rest of the papers had been scanned and packed up by lunchtime. The remainder of the afternoon was spent with some of the council members asking questions about the material that they had gone through. So far, most everything seemed to be legitimate.

The banquet had taken up the entire evening. By the time they got to the airport it was the middle of the night. Now that they weren’t in motion the six men and their wolves were sleeping.

The information that they had been able to go through had shown that, for the most part, other than Alberts and Belland, the current council members all held legitimate jobs.

Nat Chusi was in charge of a few of the web-based enterprises that the Council ran. She oversaw an online business that sold beauty products as well as another that sold electronic components for computers. There was always the chance that the businesses were involved in laundering money through them, but Sebastian was doubtful, and Reilly trusted his instincts.

Diana Zimmerman was CEO of an employment agency, mostly providing temporary medical workers such as nurses and aides to hospitals and nursing homes when they were short staffed.

Pieter Schultz was the only council member who resided in the castle full time. He took care of running the place and directed the staff.

Roberto Mata and Simon Jones were business partners who ran several successful entertainment enterprises, one of them being a film studio which produced legal porn videos. They also owned a lucrative record label and Reilly was impressed with the multiple famous artists that the label represented. He knew the others were too. Despite the outward appearances, even Reilly, with his lack of business knowledge, knew they would need to delve deeper.

Gwendolyn Schumann worked in the political arena. She was an advisor to the current Chancellor and was in the know as to all of the latest information filtering through the European Union. She’d assured them that she would keep her ears open for any rumblings through the human population. Politicians were notorious at running their mouths when they would be better off keeping them shut.

Andrew Faulkner was the president of a major telecommunications company. Their services spanned Europe and Asia and he was currently thinking about expanding into the United States.

It shouldn’t be too hard to delve into these businesses and confirm that everything was legitimate. It was Alberts’ and Belland’s holdings that were going to be hard to decipher.

Officially, as the oldest member, Alberts held the top spot on the shifter hierarchy. Until Sebastian and Reilly showed up, that is. Belland was the second eldest, and he had a background in accounting and finance, which, in all likelihood, was going to be an interesting maze to navigate.

Before they left, Robert confided to Reilly and Sebastian that he suspected Belland’s past included questionable financing of major historical events. After all, Hitler didn’t rise to power without some sort of financial push. What better way to thin out the human population than to provide funding for mass genocide?

The very thought horrified everyone.

The financial trail was going to be hard to follow. Alberts and Belland didn’t provide much information other than account numbers for a few accounts that were most likely legitimate. Reilly was also positive that the real money trail was more tangled than Rapunzel’s hair after a night of tossing and turning. He had listened in on the conversation Sebastian had with his hacker friend. She assured them she was working as fast as she could, but it was slow going. The money in the accounts that were tied to the payoffs to Nichols seemed legitimate, but in reality had most likely been laundered through several shell corporations. It was going to take time that they didn’t have to trace it.

For now they set their worries aside and rested while they could. None of them had really had any decent sleep since leaving Montana. It would feel good to be back. It reminded Reilly of where he grew up, before everything went to hell. Sebastian confided that his wolf felt settled there, even though his pack lands and home were in western Maryland. There was something about the wide open spaces of the Montana mountains and fields that called to his wolf’s soul. Reilly agreed.

Several hours later the wheels touched down and jolted them awake. It was a quick stop for fuel and they merely got off the plane and stretched their legs for a little while before getting ready for takeoff again. Reilly could tell by their scents that none of their wolves were agitated this time. They knew they were headed back to their packs, and that knowledge alone kept them happy.

It was now daylight and the changing landscape passed quickly beneath them as the miles ahead of them were less than the miles behind them. Vast plains gave way to rolling hills and as the plane started its approach to their destination, the details below became clearer and clearer the closer they got to the ground. It was a huge relief when the plane landed in Great Falls and taxied to the private terminal.

They were greeted by Logan and Cooper, who had brought Caleb’s big Chevy Suburban as well as a ten foot box truck that had been rented. Eight strong shifters were able to unload all of the boxes and totes containing the files in a short amount of time and get them packed into the rented truck. Less than a half an hour after getting off the plane the two vehicles left the airport, the Suburban leading the way.

The trip returning home seemed much shorter and it wasn’t very long until they were back on Caleb’s pack lands. A calmness swept over each of them. Reilly and Kellan were used to being on their own, but even they felt a sense of belonging when they breathed in the cold, crisp Montana air. It snowed while they were gone and the ground was covered in a layer of white powder. The sky itself seemed a brighter blue with the reflections that bounced off the snow.

As Sebastian pulled up to the front of Caleb’s home, Reilly saw him looking at it wistfully. It planted a seed in his brain. Knowing that Sebastian was also enamored with the area, he wondered if his new pack would consider relocating. When things calmed down he’d bring it up with his mate to discuss. Pack dynamics were complicated, and at the very least Caleb would need to be amenable to having them nearby. There was plenty of unclaimed territory throughout the state, and it wouldn’t be the first time the pack relocated. After a while, humans tend to notice if their neighbors don’t age.

Reilly grinned as Caleb and Rosalie came out the front door to greet them.

“Hello boys! It’s so good to have you home,” Rosalie greeted, smiling almost as brightly as the shimmering snow behind them.

“C’mon in out of the cold. We delayed lunch so it would be ready when you got here. I figured you’d be hungry after such a long flight,” Caleb remarked.

“Thanks Alpha, I don’t know about the rest, but I’m starving. I know Ben is too, I’ve had to listen to his stomach grumble for the past hour!” Zev stated, poking Ben in the ribs.

Reilly saw Ben push him aside playfully and led the way into the house.

Sandi was in the kitchen, Wayne and Donovan helping out by following her orders. Silas sat at the table, just watching, the corners of his eyes and mouth crinkled with amusement. The smell of fried chicken hit them like a freight train and just like Pavlov’s dogs, they started salivating.

“Oh daaaaamn, that smells good!” Reilly groaned.

“Well don’t just stand there,” Sandi ordered, “Start taking everything out to the buffet tables. The sooner everything is out, the sooner you can eat.”

Sets of hands immediately grabbed whatever was closest. In addition to four platters of fried chicken, there was also a large platter of sliced ham, a huge basket of baked potatoes, trays with toppings for the potatoes, bowls of salad and several smaller bowls with assorted steamed vegetables. Everything was set out on the long buffet table in the dining room and the line of shifters moved quickly as they filled up plates with the delicious food.

In the chaos of the group’s arrival they somehow missed the presence of a young guy who had been sitting next to Silas, tucked back into the corner and had so far kept silent. It wasn’t until he went to take a seat at the table next to Silas, whom he had followed unobtrusively into the dining room, that the addition of another person was noted.

Reilly was the first to realize he was there. His gaze stopped and took in the newcomer’s appearance. He was shorter than all of the shifters, about 5’8”, thin, with a wiry build like a long-distance runner. He had curly, reddish blond hair that was sort of longish on top and short in the back. Hazel eyes looked back at Reilly with curiosity.

Just as Reilly was about to say something Ben piped up. “Elijah! You’re here!”

The rest of the group immediately shifted their attention from the food to the shapeshifter, who now looked like a deer caught in the headlights.

Silas chuckled. “Don’t scare the poor lad. I was wondering when you lot would get around to noticing our guest. Everyone, this is Elijah Garrison.”

Elijah blushed and gave a sort of half wave. “Uh, hi!”

Sebastian, ever the diplomat, apologized. “Elijah, please forgive our manners and for not noticing you. Thank you for coming, we really do appreciate it. How long have you been here?”

“Uh, I, um, I got here yesterday morning. Mr. Caleb. Mr. Wayne and Ms. Sandi have been quite nice.”

Silas cleared his throat.

Elijah turned bright red. “Oh! And Mr. Silas and Miss Rosalie have been wonderful too!”

Silas chuckled. “Ah, it’s just Silas, young man, just Silas.”

“We’ve been getting to know our guest while we waited for your arrival. I’m sure you have a lot of questions for each other, but why don’t we wait until after lunch before the introductions and inquisition starts? Jack should be here by then. He was on a conference call with one of the bankers. Now dig in before everything gets cold,” Caleb suggested.

For the next few minutes the only sounds were the clinking of silverware and the occasional request to pass the salt or some other condiment. Conversation turned to Germany, but mainly focused on the sightseeing that they had managed to squeeze in during the two days they had to wait for information.

As lunch was winding down, Jack Porter came in, bringing a quick blast of icy air in with him through the kitchen. “It’s good to have you all back,” he said, giving Reilly and Kellan quick hugs before grabbing a plate of food for himself.

Once everyone was finished and everything cleared away Caleb asked Sebastian if he was ready to start their little meeting.

“Yes, I’d like to start by thanking Elijah for agreeing to join us and possibly help us out,” Jack said, and proceeded to introduce Elijah to those he hadn’t met yet.

“I have to admit Elijah, none of us have ever met a shapeshifter before. Would you please tell us a little bit about yourself? We know that shapeshifting is a rare ability. Are there others in your family too?” Sebastian asked.

Elijah cleared his throat nervously, like other non-animal shifters, he was a little skittish in a room full of wolves.

“No, there’s no one else in my family who can shapeshift. I’m an only child. My mom has a little bit of Fae in her and my dad’s great-great grandfather was a wolf shifter who married a human. So I think the combination of those genetic traits is what made me a shapeshifter. Mom was a little freaked out when I was a baby and shifted into an exact replica of our cat, and then switched to the dog the next instant. When I was seven I discovered I could shift into cartoon characters. She canceled cable TV after I refused to change back from SpongeBob, annoying voice and all,” Elijah snickered at the memory.

“I would have probably done the same thing,” remarked Sandi, rolling her eyes.

“I’m sure you would have. I’ve mostly kept my ability under wraps. Besides my parents, only a couple of people know what I can do. It took a while to learn the extent of what I could and couldn’t shift into. When I was young it was harder to control, but I used to practice all the time. Now it just comes naturally.”

“Is there a time limit on how long you can hold a shift?” Sebastian asked.

“Not that I know of. Once, I shifted into my best friend, Tyler, for four days so he could go away with his girlfriend. We were sixteen, she was twenty-four. His mom would’ve killed him and brought her up on charges. He was just in it for the sex. That was the longest I had to stay in a shift. It was easy, but primarily because we knew each other so well. I don’t think I could pull something off if I had to become someone I’m not familiar with.”

“What if you became someone new?” Sebastian wanted to know.

“What do you mean?”

“As I’m sure you’re aware, both my pack and Caleb’s have had a pup disappear. Zev has told me that he’s explained what we believe to be the reason behind the disappearances. We need to get someone into the Idaho pack’s territory without raising suspicion. I have an idea, but it’s dangerous and I’m not going to risk anyone’s safety unless they know exactly what they are getting themselves into.”

“Tell me your idea. If it’s not feasible, I’ll let you know.”

Sebastian inhaled, hesitating as if searching for the right words.

“Just tell them,” whispered Reilly.

“Okay, this may be a little far fetched and, if at any time, any one of you that I’m asking to be involved, isn’t one-hundred percent comfortable, then we won’t do it. Wayne, Sandi, I’m asking for your help too. Reilly was actually the catalyst for my idea. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but when we first met, he was disguised as a young woman. His scent was masked and threw me totally off. What I’m about to suggest sort of falls under that umbrella. Reilly was able to fool me because he has a slight bit of shapeshifter DNA in him. It allowed him to change his features enough to look more feminine. But what really got me was his scent. He ingested a concoction that he learned from an old shifter up north. It hid his true scent well enough that my wolf was confused. There was an underlying mate scent, but there was something wrong with it. My wolf didn’t understand why we couldn’t accept him right away.”

Reilly could see that Sebastian was still uncomfortable as he addressed Elijah, Wayne and Sandi. “I’d like the three of you to pose as a family and infiltrate the Idaho pack. Elijah, you would need to become a young pup just experiencing his first shift. Now, seeing as you don’t have an identifying scent like wolves do, we’d have to create one for you. Wayne and Sandi, we’d need to alter yours too.”

“Is that why you didn’t know I was sitting next to Silas when you got here?”

“It was part of the reason. The other part was because we were all too damn hungry to pay attention to our surroundings,” Sebastian smiled.

“So, just how do you go about making me smell like a wolf pup?”

Sebastian winced. “Well, Reilly drank a specially brewed tea everyday. I’ve spoken with Donovan, he’s working on something for me right now, trying to figure out if it will work. He thinks so, but it might need a little tweaking and a whole lot of bribery.”

“Who would you be bribing?” Wayne asked.

“One of the youngsters who’s just had their first shift. There’s two right now, both from Caleb’s pack.”

“And why would they need bribing, Sebastian?” Sandi wondered, pinning him with her gaze. She knew that one of the pups was her nephew, Brad.

“Because they would have to shift and then we would need to express scent fluid from their anal glands,” Sebastian looked down at the floor.

Wayne and Sandi looked at each other and burst out laughing.

“It’s not that funny,” stated Sebastian.

Sandi controlled herself long enough to reply, “Oh yes it is! You have no idea what a little conniving scamp that boy Brad is. I really want to be there when Doc starts poking his butt to collect his stink!” She bent over double, unable to control herself anymore.

Several others joined in laughter, but Elijah remained stoic. “Um, what exactly do you plan on doing with his butt stink?” he wanted to know.

This set off another bout of giggles around the table.

Even Sebastian wasn’t immune to the humor in the situation. Smiling, he replied, “That’s what Donovan is working on. Obviously, we don’t want you drinking a tea made of that stuff, but Donovan seems to think that he can use a time-release capsule to make you smell like a young wolf. Don’t worry, he says he only needs a miniscule amount of the secretion, but there is going to be a little trial and error period while he gets the dosage right.”

“Wayne and Sandi, your scent alteration should be a little easier,” Sebastian told them.

“Wait, why do we need to change our scent?” Sandi asked.

“I’m asking you to go into a potentially hostile environment and lie. You know as well as I do that a shifter’s scent can change when they lie. By masking or temporarily changing it, you stand a better chance of not being caught,” Sebastian answered.

“It’s not that bad. Reilly smelled like a wet dog, but I got used to it quickly,” Kellan told them.

Reilly shot him a look. “It didn’t taste bad, but it’s not my fault it made me smell gross,” he defended.

“Wet dog? Can Donovan do any better?” Sandi asked, wrinkling her nose at the thought of smelling like that.

“That’s part of what he’s working on,” Sebastian said. “Reilly and Kellan gave him the list of ingredients they used and how they brewed the tea, he’s trying to figure out what can be changed so the smell isn’t so bad for you two.”

“Wayne, Sandi, Sebastian has already cleared it with me to ask you guys to do this. We don’t want an answer right now, even if you think you know what you want to do. Take the night to talk about it,” Caleb instructed.

Wayne and Sandi exchanged a look that said they would agree to whatever was necessary to find some answers.

Turning to Elijah, Caleb said, “You too Elijah, there are still a lot of details that we would need to work out, but it’s all a moot point if you decide that this is something you can’t do. If that’s your decision, don’t feel bad. We don’t want to pressure you. We just want to save our pups if it’s still possible. We can figure out something else if you don’t want to continue.”

“I want to help. So far I haven’t heard anything that is a major red flag for me. Although I’m on the fence with the butt stink pills,” he said with a grin.

Sebastian laughed, “I’m sure Donovan can figure something out. He’ll be here later and you can grill him then.”

“Speaking of grilling,” Caleb segued, “What did you find out while you were in Germany?”

Reilly saw Sebastian’s demeanor get serious once again, as he gave them the rundown of what they had learned while away. On the plane coming home he’d updated the files that Caleb had on each of the High Council members. Background information, how long they had been members of the Council, what business they were involved in and that sort of thing. New notes and observations were added, as well as likelihood of nefarious intentions. Reilly was impressed with the details his mate had remembered.

Caleb assembled a team of shifters to go through all of the information that had been scanned over. They were sequestered in Silas’s house trying to find anything useful. Sebastian had asked them to focus on what pertained to Alberts and Belland. He didn’t think they would find anything, but one never knew.

“Jack, I’d like you and your family, including Reilly, to see if you could put together a list of possible locations where Alberts might be able to set up a sort of lab facility. Maybe local warehouses or vacant medical buildings. They would need access to utilities and probably wouldn’t want to be too far from a decent size town where they could stock up on supplies. Somewhere big enough to have a Sam’s or a Costco maybe?” Sebastian suggested.

“Off the top of my head, I can think of at least three or four places that might fit the bill. The kids will probably have some suggestions too. We’ll brainstorm after dinner and see what we come up with,” Jack answered.

Right now everyone was scattered, doing their own thing to help out where they could. Connie had set up an informal classroom for the younger kids in Sebastian’s pack. It was important for the kids’ schooling to continue. Most of them had attended the local public schools, and with the current situation, it was unclear when, or even if they would be returning to western Maryland. Lynn offered to help, she needed the distraction to take her mind off missing Milo.

Over the past week, while their Alpha was away, most of Sebastian’s pack had found a way to help out with whatever needed doing. Ronan had a couple of extra hands at his repair shop and Sandi had recruited a few of Sebastian’s pack to help out at the diner, including Kellan’s brothers. Both businesses had seen an uptick in customers and it made things a lot easier having enough help.

Donovan joined them later that afternoon. Reilly could sense how relieved Donovan was when Sebastian enfolded him into a tight hug, calming his wolf. Donovan was a wonderful pack doctor, but his wolf didn’t relish the responsibility of leading the pack, even temporarily.

“Donovan, what have you got for us?” Sebastian asked when everyone was seated.

“Well first of all, welcome back. Secondly, I think I may have figured out how to counter the wet dog smell of Reilly’s scent masking recipe. I’ll let you judge for yourselves. Come on in Rosalie,” he called.

Rosalie came in the room and immediately all of the shifters inhaled, catching a whiff of---wait, Italian food?

“She smells like garlic and oregano!” Kellan exclaimed.

The other shifters agreed.

Rosalie giggled and looked at Donovan. “I guess it works.”

“What did you do to the formula to change the smell?” asked Reilly.

“Well, at first I tried adding different essential oils, herbs, seeds, pretty much anything I could think of. All it did was make the wet dog smell worse. So instead, I subtracted. I decreased the amount of wolfsbane by just a smidge and then tried adding in some stuff. The only things that worked were oregano seeds, garlic, tea tree oil and grapefruit rind, of all things. Rosalie liked the Italian version of oregano and garlic, so that’s what you smell,” he explained.

“Huh, I wish I had known it was that simple. I wouldn’t have had to put up with Reilly’s stink for so many years,” Kellan yelped as Reilly smacked him upside the back of his head.

They scuffled good-naturedly for a minute until Sebastian told them to knock it off.

“What about me? Did you figure out how to utilize the butt stink to make me smell like a young shifter?

“Ummm, butt stink? Care to clue me in?” Donovan asked, his face totally confused.

The look on his face made Reilly and Sandi start laughing again. Sebastian explained what had happened earlier.

As understanding sunk in, Donovan chuckled. “Yeah, well, if you decide to go through with this then it will probably take a few days to adjust the formula to get it right. It’s not like the tea for Wayne and Sandi. You get a pill formula, and adding in the so-called butt stink might be tricky. I also need to run a few blood tests on you, make sure you’re not allergic to anything. I’ve never worked on a shapeshifter before, but basic anatomy among shifters is built on human DNA, so I’m hoping there won’t be any issues.”

Elijah nodded. “I’ve made my decision. I want to do this. I feel like I have to help. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night wondering if I could have done something.”

Wayne and Sandi chimed in. “We’re in this too. We don’t need to think about it anymore. We have to do whatever we can to get our pups back,” Wayne said.

Reilly saw Sebastian’s posture relax slightly as some of the tension in him eased.

“Okay then, tomorrow we start pulling a plan together. Tonight, get some rest. I have a feeling we’re going to be very busy from here on out. Let’s hope we can make this work.” Sebastian crossed his fingers, pulled Reilly against him and kissed the side of his head.

Can't wait for the comments on this one.

Aaaannnddddd, GO!

Copyright © 2021 kbois; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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