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    kbois
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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 - 18. Chapter 18

Disclaimer:

I am not a biologist or particularly well versed in science. I started out as a biology major in college,, flunked chemistry and changed my major. I understand the basics and still get a kick out of the whole baking soda and vinegar volcanoes, but that's where my expertise ends. Just sayin'

Reilly knew Sebastian hadn’t been kidding when he said everyone would be busy. Zev and Ben had sort of adopted Elijah as their new best friend. They made sure he felt welcomed and that he found his way around and got to wherever he needed to be.

It took a couple of days before Donovan figured out how to work with Elijah’s unique DNA, so there were a lot of visits to the makeshift office/lab he was working out of. Donovan had commandeered the smaller of the two kitchen areas at the lodge as his lab. Ample counter space served as work stations for his experimentation on the formula. Not knowing what type of emulsifying agents would work, there were jars and bottles of all sorts of ingredients that he had used.

Elijah’s genetics were primarily human, but his shapeshifter ability affected his DNA enough so that Donovan was able to use the basic formula that Reilly and Kellan had provided and go from there.

The hardest part had been obtaining the sample of adolescent shifter scent. Donovan asked Reilly to help. He had a way with the younger kids that put them at ease. Sandi was recruited as well. The pups in the pack respected her. She could keep them in line with just one look. It proved to be an enlightening experience for all of those involved. Not knowing exactly how much he would need, Donovan asked Brad and Dylan, the other young shifter, to donate to the cause, figuring that a broader sample might expedite things. Dylan readily agreed and other than a quick, high pitched yelp when Donovan first started, it was relatively easy.

Brad, however, was another story. He quickly agreed when asked, but as soon as Donovan lifted his tail, it was like all holy hell had broken loose. He immediately yipped, then sat down, whining. After a stern reprimand, Donovan enlisted Reilly’s help. He’d held Brad’s backside up while Donovan got down to business. You would have thought that the good doctor was trying to kill the pup at the sounds that came out of him. Snoopy would have been hard pressed to top those noises that Brad made.

The procedure didn’t take more than a minute, but it was about fifty-five seconds too long for all of them. Reilly was thankful when Sandi put an end to his shenanigans by threatening to muzzle him. When Brad shifted back, she laid into him but good. Properly chastised, he quietly dressed and sulked out of Donovan’s office.

“That boy needs to go to Hollywood. He’d win an Academy award with those drama skills,” Donovan stated.

Sandi just shook her head. “He better watch it or I’ll drama his ass into next week.”

Donovan barked out a laugh. “Now that I’d like to see!”

Reilly spent a lot of time at the makeshift clinic helping Donovan when needed. It took a couple of dozen tries, but after a few days and several more needle sticks to draw Elijah’s blood, Donovan thought he had a combination that just might work, which was a good thing, as a couple of the attempts had been disastrous, especially the one which resulted in Elijah smelling like raw sewage for hours. Everyone tried to keep downwind of him, but it was still pretty unpleasant.

Donovan explained to Reilly that he was trying to mix Brad and Dylan’s scents to create something unique. The most difficult part was figuring out the right combination. Too little and the formula wouldn’t be effective. Too much and, well, the raw sewage smell highlighted that example of what not to do.

The latest version ticked all the right boxes. Donovan’s biggest concern was not knowing how long the effects would last. Even though what he was doing was a lot of science, it also involved a whole lot of guesswork. However, when they tested the latest version on one of the rats, the little guy managed to hold a shifter scent for several hours, and it wasn’t unpleasant at all.

Donovan managed to create a time-released capsule that he was hoping would last for forty-eight hours. Most animal shifters had a naturally high metabolism, which would be a problem if biologically Elijah was a true animal shifter. However, being able to take on the appearance of an animal was different than if he actually became one. It meant his body wouldn’t process the pills like a wolf shifter would, as he didn’t have their accelerated healing capabilities.

Reilly sent a text to Elijah asking him to come to the lab. Twenty minutes later he showed up with Zev and Ben in tow.

The shapeshifter looked a little apprehensive. After the sewage stink fiasco, Reilly could hardly blame him.

“Hey, thanks for coming so quickly. Don’t be worried, I think Donovan’s hit the right combination this time,” Reilly assured him.

“I hope so. I don’t know if I can tolerate another minute of smelling like a dorm bathroom after Taco Tuesday,” Elijah replied, only half jesting.

“Yeah, please don’t make us go through that again. It was pretty rank,” Zev added, Ben nodding in agreement.

“Well, come on over here Elijah. Let’s get this started,” Donovan instructed.

Reilly handed Elijah a glass of water to wash the capsule down.

It didn’t take long before the shapeshifter started to produce a scent that Reilly recognized from the experiment on the rat. It was faint, but Donovan indicated it might take a little time for the full effect to kick in.

Zeva and Ben volunteered to monitor Elijah for the duration. They left, with plans to get together with Wayne and Sandi to work on developing their backstory.

Reilly headed back to the main house. Sebastian, Hunter and Kellan were trying to figure out where his father might be able to set up the facility that Alberts mentioned. Unfortunately, they hadn’t found anything so far.

Two days passed, alternately too fast, or excruciatingly slow. Patience was stretched thin and emotions were running high. They had nothing to go on other than what Hunter and Kellan had overheard. Trying to figure out what type of facility Alberts needed was daunting.

Reilly knew that it had to be able to house medical equipment, be close to a town big enough to provide supplies, and be off the beaten path enough to be hidden. It also needed a source of power that wasn’t necessarily tied into the public grid, so a property large enough to have its own generators eliminated many of the obvious places.

“This is so frustrating!” he growled after several nonstop hours of being hunched over a laptop screen in the big living room of Caleb’s house.

The four of them, and occasionally Kellan’s dad, had been pouring over Google Maps for two days and had come up with a half-dozen locations, none of which were perfect. Reilly and Jack took turns casting doubt on each one. Reilly knew his father had an OCD habit of being a perfectionist. It was a huge reason why he’d been ignored after his mom died. Nichols had seen his youngest son as imperfect, therefore not worthy of his attention. The only time Reilly was acknowledged was when he did something wrong. Then the verbal and emotional abuse reared its ugly head.

The biggest issue they were running into was that the Idaho pack’s territory covered a pretty isolated area of the northern part of the state, close to the Canadian border. They were smack dab in the middle of Kootenai National Forest, surrounded by three mountain ranges. The closest city was Coeur d’Alene, and that was an hour and a half hour drive. Spokane, Washington was another half an hour west of that. While this made for an ideal location for a small wolf shifter pack, a large medical-type facility would definitely be out of place.

“Dammit, why the hell did Alberts leave it to my father to find a place? The Idaho panhandle is too damn isolated. What’re we overlooking?” Reilly huffed, his frustration coming out in spades.

Sebastian pulled him in close, enveloping him in his scent, letting his wolf’s presence calm his mate. It worked for a few minutes. They were all at their wit’s end.

“Reilly, let’s think here for a minute,” Kellan said. “We know your father is selfish and wants to make things easy for himself. He really doesn’t care if others are inconvenienced. He needs to be within, what? A fifty or sixty mile radius of his home? Maybe a hundred at most?"

Reilly nodded.

Kellan looked at the map on the screen and used the draw feature to create a circle with Reilly’s old house in the middle. He immediately eliminated the sections that didn't include Nichols' territory.

“Alright, so if we were Peter Nichols and looked at this area, the first thing he would think is ‘mine’. Then what?” Kellan asked.

Reilly stared at the screen intensely, then all of a sudden pulled it closer and started to zoom in on an area in the southwest part of the circle.

“That’s it! Mine!”

His eyes narrowed as he concentrated on an area near the northern tip of Lake Pend Oreille. He drew back, eyebrows furrowed deeply. “Nah, that wouldn’t work. Would it?” he asked himself.

Kellan bumped Sebastian out of the way, overstepping boundaries any other shifter wouldn’t dare to cross, but his status as Reilly’s Lambda, and the seriousness of the situation had Sebastian keeping his mouth shut, even though his wolf chuffed in indignation.

Reilly noticed that Hunter sensed Sebastian’s consternation and wisely positioned himself near his mate. Smart wolf.

Kellan, oblivious to the danger he just put himself in, pointed to the map. “That’s it Ry! It has to be.”

Would you care to enlighten the rest of us?” Sebastian asked sarcastically, his wolf still miffed at being pushed aside.

Reilly snapped back into focus and smiled brightly at him, diffusing the slight tension he felt coming from his mate. In that moment all was forgiven, Sebastian’s wolf’s tail thumping at Reilly’s attention.

“Right here,” Reilly pointed to a very small barren area near the base of a mountain not too far from the northern part of Lake Pend Oreille. The front part of a building was just barely visible when zoomed in on. There was a parking lot big enough for perhaps a dozen cars.

“What are we looking at?” Sebastian asked, squinting at the image.

“This building. I’m pretty sure it's the old headquarters for the mining operation that used to be there. It folded in the late 1960’s, early 70’s maybe. The gold vein dried up and the operation moved elsewhere,” Reilly answered. “It’s close enough to Coeur d’Alene and only thirty-five, forty miles from my father’s place. Look, the access road is well concealed, and I’d be willing to bet there’s some sort of generator system already in place.”

“Wouldn’t the building be too dilapidated for use?” asked Hunter.

“Not necessarily. If I remember our sixth grade local history correctly, most of the structure is actually inside the mountain, carved into the rock. Some investor group bought the property in the mid-80s and were going to convert it into a spa-slash-outdoor living resort of some kind. Something happened at their corporate level, a hostile takeover by two of the founder’s sons, I think. They didn’t want to invest in tourism real estate and I think they defaulted on taxes several years later when internal fighting caused the company to fold,” Reilly explained.

Hunter leaned in to examine the screen too. “It’s close enough to several small towns for basic supply runs and only a half-hour, forty minutes to Coeur d’Alene. Technically, still within Nichols’ pack territory, and, is that a small airstrip?”

“Where?” asked Sebastian.

Hunter pointed to an area a few miles to the west.

Sebastian squinted his eyes to try to make out the details. “Looks that way. If it is, then it’s close enough for it to be a short drive for Alberts and his crew to fly in and out of. I think you nailed it, Reilly. Good job!”

Reilly’s wolf perked up at the praise from his mate.

“So now what?” Kellan asked.

“A little reconnaissance, I think,” replied Sebastian.

“Reconnaissance to where?” Caleb asked as he came into the room.

Reilly was about to answer, but Sebastian cut him off. “We may have narrowed down some sites for the new facility that Porter is establishing.”

“Anything I can do to help?”

“At the moment, no, but we will need some help getting supplies for some outdoor, winter activity, possibly some surveillance,” Sebastian said as he gently closed the laptop.

“That I can do. We have a lot of extra camping stuff stored at the lodge that may come in handy if someone has to hunker down outside. I’ll get a few of my guys to pull it out of storage and make sure it’s in good condition,” Caleb offered.

Sebastian thanked him and Caleb left, eager to help.

Reilly shot a questioning look at Sebastian.

“For now, I want to keep this location between us. I’m leaning toward sending Zev and Ben to check it out. Ben is great at observing and doing it unobtrusively. I think at this stage the less people who know, the better.”

“Why? Don’t you trust Caleb?” asked Hunter.

“I do trust him, however, his pack is huge and spread out. He can’t keep an eye on everyone all the time and you never know when someone else might overhear something they shouldn’t. I’ll keep him updated as things develop. Right now my wolf is telling me to be cautious and I’m inclined to listen to him.”

Reilly’s gut churned. “Do you really think someone here might be in cahoots with Alberts and his cronies?”

“Probably not, but stranger things have happened. I just think that the less people who know all the details, the less chance of important information getting into the wrong hands. Betrayal and deceit have been the downfall of more than one civilization. I don’t want to take any chances, and I don’t want to rely on sniffing out a lie. We know that there are ways around it. Alberts is a crafty old bastard, I’ll give him that.”

“So what is the game plan?” asked Hunter.

“Wayne, Sandi and Elijah are going to Idaho. With some luck, they won’t raise any suspicion and hopefully, Elijah gets kidnapped.”

What?!” three voices exclaimed in unison.

Reilly's eyes widened, until Sebastian made a downward bobbing motion with his hands. “Calm down. We need him to get kidnapped. I’m banking on the hope that they’ll put him with the other pups, if they’re still alive. It will, if nothing else, confirm the location of their facility. Donovan is going to place a GPS tracker on him. We’ll know where he is at all times and if we can get Zev and Ben into the area of that mine, then they’ll be close enough should someone need to move quickly. The rest of us will be close by too, but we need to stay just out of Porter’s territory.”

None of them wanted to put themselves, their mate, or their friends in danger, but it was looking like that couldn’t be avoided.

Sebastian’s phone chirped and he pulled it out of his pocket and looked at the screen.

“Seems like Donovan has been successful on his end with the scent changing pill for Elijah. Let’s go check it out.”

Reilly followed Sebastian as he headed over to the lodge, with Kellan and Hunter on their heels.

Donovan, Zev, Ben and Elijah were in the large dining room, waiting for them. Wayne and Sandi were there too.

Immediately, Reilly noticed the smell of sage and oak. Dylan had presented with a scent that held sage and vanilla and Brad’s scent was reminiscent of oak and musk.The new scent held molecules of both, creating a unique smell.

Donovan looked up and was happy to see them. “So, let’s have it. What’s your first impression?”

They were all in agreement that Elijah smelled like an adolescent wolf shifter. Wayne and Sandi’s scents had been altered just enough to be noticeable to those who knew them. Sandi’s natural jasmine scent now held an underlying hint of citrusy grapefruit, while Wayne’s smoky oak aroma was tinged with tea tree oil. Strangers wouldn’t know the difference.

Sebastian asked Elijah to shift a few times. Reilly was surprised when a younger, slightly altered, version of Wayne appeared.

Reilly remembered Elijah telling them he only needed to look at a picture of a person or animal in order to take on their appearance. Wayne had suggested that he transform into his older brother when he was about twelve. After seeing an old photo, Elijah agreed it was a good choice. There was a strong familial resemblance and he would look enough like Wayne to inject credibility to their charade as father and son. As far as his wolf’s cloak, flipping through some pictures online made it easy to pick out a beautiful adolescent gray and white timberwolf.

During the two days of waiting to see if his scent would stick, he practiced shifting into both adolescent boy and wolf relentlessly, until it was embedded in his muscle memory, no longer wavering mid-shift. He would still have to practice, but Reilly was confident that he had the hang of it.

“Will you see if you can halt yourself mid-shift, so it’s a hybrid of the two?” Sebastian requested.

Reilly wasn't the only one startled when Elijah managed to stop his change enough so that he still had a human body, but his head was now mostly wolf and his hands were paws with large claws. His feet remained human, just covered with fur, like the rest of his body. It was pretty impressive the way the combination looked. It was also easy to see where the human werewolf stories had probably originated.

“Good work Elijah,” Sebastian praised, when he switched back to himself. “I’d like to have a strategy session so we can work out the details of some possible scenarios, provided you guys make it into the territory with no issues. Everyone has to have the exact same details of their story straight or this could go south pretty quick.”

“If you guys are all set for the moment I’m going to work on making enough capsules to last a few weeks for Elijah,” Donovan said, excusing himself.

We’ve worked out what I hope is a credible story to explain our supposed defection from our pack,” Wayne said.

“Let’s hear what you’ve got,” Sebastian stated.

Reilly listened intently as Wayne described what they came up with. He knew that details were important, as his father would catch on to any discrepancies.

Wayne explained that they would tell Nichols’ that they were looking for a less stressful life. Belonging to, and more importantly, being a Beta for a pack of over six-hundred was putting a strain on all of them. Having to help govern a pack that was sprawled out over such a large area was taking its toll. He felt like he was spread too thin and couldn’t give his current Alpha the level of commitment he needed to be an effective Beta.

Sandi chimed in, adding that she wanted more time to keep an eye on Elijah. The diner was keeping her so busy that her son didn’t have much supervision, and she didn’t want him getting into trouble with some of the other more mischievous youngsters.

They would make sure that Nichols was told that Caleb had given them his blessing in their quest for a smaller pack to belong to. No Alpha would intentionally harbor pack members who broke away without their own Alpha’s blessing. Inter-pack tension was something they didn’t need.

Wayne added some smaller details, such as the fact that he and Sandi liked the vastness of uninhabited spaces that they had heard about in Idaho and wanted to see if there was a pack willing to give them a chance.

Elijah’s new character was a little more challenging. It took a while to decide whether or not he should be timid, outgoing, smart, average, or whatever personality traits would get him noticed by Peter Nichols or one of his sons. But in the end it was decided that Elijah should be smart, but a little reserved. He would be outgoing enough to make friends, but not so much that he came across as pushy or smartass-ish. He needed to be likable, but not climb his way straight to the top of the teenage popularity chain.

Reilly was impressed. He added a few minor suggestions, small things that he knew would appeal to his father’s sense of narcissism. Wayne needed to convey that they wanted a strong Alpha, capable of providing for his pack. Sandi and Elijah would need to remain quiet, unless directly spoken to, answer questions briefly, and try to throw in a compliment whenever possible.

It was important, Reilly stressed, to not make any waves. If they could do that, he was sure his father would at least take them in on a trial basis. That was all they needed, a foot in the door.

Sebastian was satisfied and dismissed the three, tasking them with packing up their stuff, so they would be ready to head out when needed.

Reilly gazed at their little mini-pack, relieved that there were five souls he could rely on without a single doubt.

The next order of business was to get Zev and Ben up to speed. Reilly explained how he thought he may have figured out the hidden location Alberts referred to. Showing them the spot on the map, he described the area as best he could.

Sebastian took over from there. “I’d like you two to head out there and do a little digging. You’re going to have to be as unobtrusive as possible. The old mine is on the very edge of Nichols’ territory. If you get caught, they’ll try to kill you.”

“We’ll be careful,” Ben promised.

Reilly saw Zev look at the map. “What’s that?” he asked, pointing to a large area several miles to the west, not far from the small airstrip they had identified earlier.

“It’s a ski resort,” answered Reilly.

Zev grinned at Ben, “What do you say we take a little vacation? Hit the slopes, maybe take the snowmobile out for a spin. Get a little “lost”?

“Brilliant idea. Just an outdoor-loving gay couple taking a little getaway vacay. Who knew they were so directionally challenged?” Ben chuckled.

“Zev, I’d like you to keep the location secret for now. Only the six of us will know the exact area we’re looking in. That means keeping the information from your pack and your Alpha. I’d never ask such a thing under any other circumstances, but the stakes are too high. Alberts has to have more help than Reilly’s old pack and yours is the closest large pack that could potentially have someone who could be recruited. So until we know more about what we’re up against, and who’s involved, we need to be cautious,” Sebastian said.

“I understand. When do you want us to leave?”

“As soon as possible, I don’t want you to have to lie, even by omission, to Caleb. There are two other spots that we identified, but they both have some serious flaws. I’d like you to stop at those first. If anyone asks, then you can honestly tell them either of those locations. Caleb was going to get some winter camping gear, in case you need it for surveillance. Once you take an inventory and get packed up, you can head out. The sooner we get confirmation, the better. I really don’t want Wayne, Sandi and Elijah to spend more time in Nichols’ territory than absolutely necessary,” Sebastian stated.

“How long do you think it will be before they try to get into the pack?” Ben wanted to know.

“I need to go over a few things with Caleb, but hopefully within the next few days. I’ve booked an Airbnb for you, and will text you the details. That should give you two at least two or three days headstart to scout out the area. If it’s not what we think it is then at least you’ll be close enough to Nichols’ territory that you can get there quickly if something should go south,” Sebastian replied.

“I have a suggestion,” Reilly offered. “Why don’t we get some burner phones? Especially for the three going into Idaho. That way if my father or brothers get ahold of one there won’t be anything potentially incriminating for them to find.”

Sebastian kissed him. “Damn, you’re smart! Excellent idea. Hunter, why don’t you and Kellan make a quick trip into Great Falls and pick up, let’s say, a dozen? One for each of us and a few extra that I can distribute as necessary. We can program all the numbers in them and enter fake names.”

Hunter nodded. “Text me if you think of anything else we might need,” he added as they headed out the door.

Sebastian pulled his phone out of his front pocket and quickly typed something out. The answering buzz came back only a moment later.

“C’mon, Caleb can meet with us now. There are still a couple of details I’d like to hammer out. Right now it sort of feels like a three ring circus that’s just barely under control.”

Zev and Ben headed to their room to pack and Reilly took Sebastian’s hand as they went to meet Caleb at the main house.

Caleb was in his office and beckoned them in when Sebastian rapped his knuckles on the doorframe. They sat in chairs in front of a beautiful black walnut desk.

“Can I get either of you anything?” Caleb asked.

“No thanks, I’m good,” Sebastian replied. Reilly shook his head.

“First of all, I had a couple of my guys get the camping gear that Zev and Ben will need. It’s on the back porch. There shouldn’t be too much that they’ll need to add to it. The tent is almost new, I think it was only used once last winter. There are two sleeping bags rated for minus thirty degrees. Stove, thermoses, storage containers, flashlights, pretty much everything. Have you decided on an area for them to scope out?”

“Yes, there are a couple of abandoned properties for them to check out that seem promising. I don’t have a lot of information yet, but hopefully something will pan out. I promise I’ll keep you in the loop whenever possible. The boys are going to head out as soon as they have their stuff packed up. Thanks for the gear, by the way, it’ll save them a trip to the store. I’m sure there are plenty of outdoor outfitters around, but time is just as important as money, and in this case, probably more so.”

“Where are you going to be during all of this?” Caleb asked.

“I’m not really sure at this point. It’s all going to depend on what Zev and Ben come up with. Plus Wayne, Sandi and Elijah are going to leave for Idaho in a day or two. So everything is going to hinge on what happens when they get there. I think Reilly and I might head over toward one of the towns that are close to the border of Nichols’ territory and lay low until we have more information. Just which one, I’m not sure. If you have any suggestions, they’d be welcome,” Sebastian said.

Caleb thought for a moment before answering. “I’ll write down a few towns that at least have a bed and breakfast, if not an actual motel. I have a couple of families in that area that are technically part of my pack, but they keep mostly to themselves. One has a small farm and the other is a wilderness guide for the Ranger service. I’m sure they’d be able to help out in a pinch too.”

“That would be great. Hunter and Kellan will be with us. I don’t think either of their wolves would be too keen on not being able to protect us.” Sebastian stated.

Reilly knew for a fact that neither Hunter nor Kellan would shirk their duties as his and Sebastian’s bodyguards.

“Caleb, thank you again for your help. I know it’s not easy having another Alpha in your territory calling the shots,” Sebastian noted.

“Yeah, my wolf has been a little cantankerous about the whole situation. But honestly, your status as senior Alpha goes a long way toward placating him. You have a long road ahead of you, my friend, even after all of this shit gets taken care of. I truly don’t envy you. I’m not sure I could spend the next several decades being head honcho,”

“I don’t know about head honcho, but you’re right, this status comes with a helluva lot more responsibility than I ever imagined. Once things are settled and Alberts and his crew have been taken down then I can figure out what’s best for me, Reilly, my pack and shifters in general. I never really pictured myself as a Grand Poobah,” Sebastian joked.

“More like Pooh Bear,” Reilly laughed.

Sebastian gave Reilly a little glare. “Come on Piglet, let’s go grab something to eat and then go check on the rest of the gang in the Hundred Acre Woods.”

The sound of Caleb’s laughter followed them down the hallway.

Okay, thoughts? Comments?

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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