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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.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Spirit Wolves - 24. Chapter 24

We're down to the wire.

Sebastian felt a little guilty. Okay, more like a lot guilty, but at the same time he had no regrets about his current situation. He was hiding, plain and simple. Reilly took one look at him after lunch and excused them both. He snuck Sebastian out the back door, into the woods and, after a quick five minute jog, stopped at the base of a large tree. The upper branches still held a rudimentary, but well constructed tree house. Reilly left him there and told him he’d be back in a couple of hours.

Sebastian sat against the far wall of the treehouse, his booted feet pointed at the open space that served as the entrance. The bare boards were weathered with age, and though rough-hewn, they weren’t rotted out. He needed to be careful when he got up or he’d end up with a splinter in his ass. He could make out the top of Reilly’s old house through the tops of the trees, bare of leaves.

The morning had been overwhelming, to say the least. Sebastian quickly discovered the things no one told you when you suddenly became the highest senior Alpha among all shifters.

It was the questions, the non-stop, never ending, conveyor belt line of questions that he was barraged with the moment he had appeared in the kitchen bright and early this morning. Questions that he had no immediate answers to.

It did get a little easier when Nat and the other council members showed up. Nat gave him a crash course in shifter justice. In short, Alberts and Nichols would pay for their crimes with their lives, but it was at Sebastian’s discretion as to when, and more concerning, how. That was a heavy load to place on his shoulders. It was one thing to kill in the heat of battle, but another altogether to consciously decide when someone should die. He understood why, and agreed wholeheartedly, he was just uncomfortable being the one to have the final say. As senior Alpha, he couldn’t delegate that unsavory task to anyone else, besides, he wouldn’t want to lay that responsibility on anyone else.

He also needed to decide what to do with Caleb. That had been the toughest conversation of the day so far. Sebastian thought about what Caleb had told him when they sat down after breakfast.


That one word spoke volumes, especially when given in a tone that reflected the deep-seated hurt of betrayal.

Caleb’s breath hitched. He was trying to hold back tears and failing miserably.

“I’m not happy about what I did. I’m downright disgusted with myself. I did the one fucking thing that no Alpha is supposed to do. I betrayed my pack, putting so many in danger. I placed myself first, selfishly. I thought I was protecting someone I love. I should’ve trusted my pack instead. I know Wayne and Sandi would have moved mountains if I asked them, as would anyone else, but I was so scared,” Caleb admitted.

“What were you scared of?”

“Losing my son.”

Sebastian was speechless for a moment, but then something clicked.

“Vann? Is Vann your son?”

Caleb nodded, unable to speak.

“Does he know?”

This time the answer was a shaking of his head.

“Damn. Start at the beginning Caleb.”

Caleb looked utterly defeated.

Taking a deep, shuddering breath before saying, “His mother was a friend of a friend. A married and very much in love with her mate, friend of a friend. I didn’t know this at the time when I met her though. She was visiting our mutual friend while her mate was away. He had just been promoted to first beta. Their pack was known for, how should I put this? Running some ‘questionable’ businesses.”

Caleb had even done the whole air quote thing with his fingers.

Sebastian shook his head. Christ on a freaking pogo stick, a shifter mafia. He really wasn’t surprised.

“It was summertime and I often had pack gatherings; barbecues and whatnot. It was during one of these that we met. She never said she was married. I found out later her mate had been away for several weeks, so I’m sure she was feeling lonely. The mate scent was faded, and, well, never having met the guy, I mistook the smell for her natural scent. Needless to say, the beer and wine were flowing freely and our judgment wasn’t the best. Coupled with a decision to go for a late night run, well, one thing led to another and we had sex, unprotected. At the time, I wasn’t concerned, after all, I thought she was single.”

Caleb paused, a red flush coloring his neck and cheeks with embarrassment.

“The next day we hung out for a bit, but never mentioned what we did. She left the following day to go back to her pack. I never heard from her until she showed up at my door one night, with a little four year old boy named Vann. She told me he was mine and asked if I could keep him safe for a while. I guess her pack had been dragged into a territorial war and things were getting ugly. She feared for their safety. I tried to get her to stay, but she said she needed to get back to her mate. I never saw her again. Her entire pack was decimated in the fighting that broke out. Come to find out, her Alpha had double-crossed the other pack. The rival Alpha had no mercy, and the entire pack was wiped out, including Vann’s parents.”

Bells rang in Sebastian’s head at the revelation. He remembered hearing about a supposed territorial dispute that had turned deadly. There had always been rumors about illegal activity being at the root of the issue, but there was never any proof.

“Vann was just a little thing, but scrappy y’know? He was old enough to remember his parents, but young enough that so many of the details would be lost. I was on the fence about telling him the truth, but in reality, he was too young to understand. He needed to be protected. It was always in my head that if the other pack found out that there was one survivor, they’d come looking for him. So I told everyone that he was recently orphaned and the regional council asked if we could take him in because our pack was so large. Several families stepped up to foster him.”

“Why didn’t you ask Wayne and Sandi?” Sebastian asked.

“They would have been my first choice, but they were at the beginning of their relationship and Wayne had just taken the Ranger position with the Forestry Service. Sandi was busy with the diner. Wayne actually thanked me afterwards, for not asking them. He said they would have felt obligated to say yes, and neither of them were ready to make that kind of commitment. Hell, even now he says he’s scared to have kids,” Caleb gave a weak laugh.

“So how did you end up working for Alberts? Did you know Vann was going to be taken?”

“What? No!” Caleb shook his head vehemently. “Belland contacted me on behalf of Alberts a few weeks ago, while you were in Germany. He detailed every little thing they had done and were planning on doing to the boy. He hasn’t had his first shift yet, but was just starting to show the signs that it would likely happen within the next six months or so. Jesus fuck, the things that Belland said they were going to do? What they had already done? Torture, Sebastian, plain and simple torture. On a fucking twelve-year old! My son, they were torturing my son!” Caleb wailed, anguish cracking his voice.

Sebastian will never forget the look that haunted Caleb’s eyes. He already knew that Vann had experienced some sort of torture at the very least.

After a minute, Caleb had regained his composure. “They specifically targeted my pack because of its size. We’re one of the largest packs in North America and Alberts wanted my territory under his control because of its size and location. It was pretty brilliant planning on his part. The fact that the pack is spread out over such a big area was to his advantage as well.”

“How so?”

“Well, he already knew that Nichols’ territory, with the mine facility, would be his North American base. I found out they gained ownership of the mine almost six years ago. Alberts had it converted to its current condition slowly, any large deliveries of materials and supplies were done in the middle of the night. The locals had no idea. Construction debris was discarded in the old mining shafts. Other than implementing security patrols, there were no outward signs of activity to alert anyone not associated with them as to what was going on. At some point in the last year, Alberts decided that he needed a pool of skilled individuals to draw from. What better opportunity than a six-hundred member pack within a day’s drive? Being spread out, it wouldn’t raise any red flags if a few people weren’t around for a few months at a time.”

“What kind of skills does your pack have that he would want?”

“When I became Alpha, my dad imparted some good advice. He told me to let my pack educate themselves however they saw fit. As you know, most smaller packs dictate, at least to some extent, who gets to do what in the pack. Say, if a youngster shows interest in building stuff they’re guided toward being a carpenter or architect, or maybe a mechanic. If they show interest in medicine, they’re given the opportunity to be a doctor or nurse or EMT. That way the needs of the pack are met. Well, because my pack is pretty big, we had the luxury of letting its members choose their career path, even if that meant they end up leaving to pursue a job opportunity. I’ve had several pack members go on to colleges and universities and get advanced degrees. I’m proud that we helped foster an aeronautical engineer. He moved out to Arizona and works for Raytheon. I have another who works for a private company that makes boosters for rockets. How many packs really need a rocket scientist? I also have a couple of members who have post-graduate degrees in genetics. Now can you think of anyone who might be interested in their services?”

“So Alberts knew your pack had resources he needed and he kidnapped Vann with the intention of making you toe the line,” Sebastian remarked, beginning to get the picture.

“Yeah, and by mentally torturing me first by waiting weeks before contacting me, he got his way. I tried to keep everyone else out of it. I didn’t approach my pack members who Alberts indicated he wanted on his staff. I told him I wanted to see for myself that Vann was alright and I wanted to check out the facility. That’s why I was here. I needed to see for myself that Vann was okay. You see, right after he was taken, I sent Zev and a few others out to search for him. I thought the pack that had killed his parents discovered who he was. When Belland first contacted me, I honestly didn’t know if I was relieved or if I should be more worried. I knew pretty quickly though that I dug myself a hole too deep to get out of.”

“Is that why you threw Elijah under the bus?”

A sob tore its way from Caleb’s throat. He nodded.

“Alberts must have suspected something. He asked me outright if I gave permission to Wayne to seek permission to petition him. He told me if I wasn’t truthful, Vann would pay the price. I felt I didn’t have a choice, I know it’s a lame excuse. I should have told you everything the minute you got back from Germany.”

“Tell me this Caleb, if Alberts told you to kill me, would you have?”

Caleb hesitated a few seconds before lowering his gaze and nodded.

“You’ve dropped quite the bomb in my lap you know,” Sebastian said, shaking his head. “I honestly don’t know what to do. You know I can’t allow you to continue to lead your pack. Shifter law is absolute. Betraying your pack can be punishable by death. I don’t know what to do with that, Caleb. I understand that you were put into an impossible position, but you always had the choice to go to your pack for help, or hell, even me! Now I have to figure out what an appropriate punishment should be.”

“I’m so sorry Sebastian, I’ll abide by whatever decision you make, even if you feel it’s necessary to put me down. All I ask is that you please make sure Vann is taken care of. He didn’t ask for any of this and I know they tortured him just to get to me.”

Seabstian’s heart went out to Caleb. The man had made a huge mistake and unfortunately would pay a hefty price.

Shuffling noises outside of the treehouse brought his attention back to the present. Reilly’s head popped up in the opening, a broad grin spanning his face as his mate crawled over to him on his hands and knees. Damn, if they were anywhere but here, Sebastian would show Reilly just what the sight did to him. However, it was neither the time nor the place and Sebastian pushed his dirty thoughts to the back of his mind, to be filed away for future reference.

Reilly gave him a rather flirty smirk. He knew exactly where his mate’s mind went.

“Later, I promise,” he said with a grin.

“I’ll hold you to it.”

“You look calmer. Are you ready to head back?” Reilly asked.

Sebastian blew out a puff of air. “As ready as I can be. How are things going?”

“Considering you have a fantastic mate, things are going stupendously well. I took it upon myself to delegate, so Zev and Ben are fielding the questions and requests from the pack members who were merely caught up in the chaos. There are a few families that had no idea whatsoever what my father was up to. They’re understandably upset and Zev and Ben will get things organized for them and help with whatever transition is needed. Hunter and Kellan have been tasked with helping Nat and her crew question the rest of the pack, those that knew what was happening and were participating in some way. They’re working on getting the who, where, why’s and what’s figured out. Nat’s going to bring in a few people she knows to sort out the financials and the paper trail.”

Sebastian leaned forward and pulled Reilly in for a kiss. Gawds he loved this man.

“Did you leave anything for me to do?” he asked, stealing another kiss before letting him answer.

“Yup, you get to sort out what to do with two packs that no longer have an alpha.”

“Aw shit, why do I always get the short end of the stick? Do I have ‘Sucker’ tattooed across my forehead?” Sebastian lamented.

Reilly snorted. “I’ll let you sucker me anytime.”

Sebastian gave his ass a little smack. “Mmmhmmm. Let’s go. It’s time to get back to reality. Thank you for this, by the way. I needed a time out.”

“I know you did. There’s still a lot to sort out and I’ll be with you every step of the way,” Reilly promised.

They climbed down from their perch and walked back to Reilly’s childhood home. The yard had been cleaned up as best as it could be. There was no way to erase blood stains from snow. The blemished marks would be a constant reminder until the next snowfall covered them up.

The dead had been moved to a storage shed so that families could claim them. Anyone not claimed by nightfall would be cremated as per shifter tradition.

Nat saw them coming and waited impatiently in the doorway. As they approached, she stepped aside enough for them to enter. “I don’t want to throw you back into the lion’s den, but we need to talk.”

Roberto, Andrew and Simon were at the kitchen table waiting. None of them looked very happy.

Sebastian settled into the chair at the head of the table and Reilly sat to his right. “Okay, fill me in.”

“It’s worse than we thought. Alberts is still keeping his lips sealed, but from what we’ve learned from the shifters here and back at the mining facility, this operation extends far beyond this little corner of the world,” Nat said, keeping her voice low.

Immediately Sebastian felt the tension creep back into his neck and shoulders.

“Details?” he prompted.

“We received a lot of information from two of the researchers at the facility and Jordan Keirsey, the accountant, is singing like a canary. According to him, Alberts and Belland solicited investors from all over the globe. Most of them believe they are putting their money into legitimate scientific research. In reality, they’re contributing to the research and development of the drug that they use to halt the shifting process,” Nat explained.

She shot an apologetic look at Reilly before continuing. “Reilly’s father knew he had discovered something important when he tortured him all those years ago. His little primitive brain connected the dots and figured out that repeated torture on adolescent shifters produced a chemical that interacted with their hormones and caused the halt. Being the disgusting deviant that he is, he knew that there was money, and lots of it, to be made off of the discovery. We don’t know how he knew to approach Alberts, and we may never know, but he did. He proposed that they go into business together. He would take care of abducting the pups and Alberts would provide the funding for research. Nichols used his connections in the human world to secure the mining facility and Alberts provided the money to renovate it and create the lab. It took two and half years to isolate the chemical and figure out how to produce and administer it. It was a lot of trial and error.”

Nat had to stop as emotion threatened to overwhelm her. Her voice cracked as she tried to speak. “A lot of pups lost their lives in the process.”

Roberto reached over and grabbed Nat’s hand as tears slid down her face. Neither Sebastian nor Reilly could say anything, so many emotions flickered through both of them. Their expressions seemed to mirror each other as the horror of the situation sunk in.

“We need to find out what happened to every one of those pups,” Sebastian ground out through gritted teeth.

“There are records that the crew back at the mine are trying to sort through. We’re pretty sure they disposed of the bodies in one of the old mine shafts. I’m not sure if we’ll ever be able to recover them,” Andrew stated grimly.

“We’ll find a way. We have to. We owe it to those that died. No one deserves to be thrown away like trash,” Nat wiped her tears as she made her vow.

Sebastian nodded.

“Nat’s right, we’ll find a way. What else do I need to know?” Sebastian sighed. “Not that I really want to…”

“You’re not going to like this one bit, but Alberts expanded the operation internationally,” Roberto informed him.


“Fuck is right,” Nat said. “We’re pretty sure that it’s going to be impossible to contain all of the humans that are involved, but we may be able to stop it in its tracks if we act now. I’ll let Simon give you the details.”

Simon cleared his throat and looked down as all eyes landed on him. He seemed to gather his thoughts before addressing the group, raising his eyes to meet Sebastian briefly, then baring his neck slightly as a sign of respect to his higher status.

“As I’m sure you’re aware, Roberto and I own an entertainment company. One of the divisions that we run is an adult production company. Legal porn. About a year and a half ago, Alberts wanted to buy into our partnership. He drew up a proposal in which he would use our company’s name and reputation to create a startup niche company that catered to adult fetishes. His proposal never mentioned underage activities at all. It was mostly bondage, D/s scenes, age play, and a few other kinks, nothing that seemed out of the ordinary. We accepted the proposal on a limited trial basis, two years is what we gave him. His company was run completely separate from ours. Other than a minimum start up cost that we invested, he ran the division and within six months we were receiving profit distributions. Needless to say, we just discovered that the company he created is a cover for his trafficking operation. The website directs potential clients through a screening process and those that pass the initial levels are redirected to a dark site which vets them further. Those that make it all the way to the end of the screening are matched with a hybrid pup.”

Sebastian thought he was going to be sick. Reilly too, looked like he was going to hurl.

“Those bastards,” Reilly growled.

“I don’t think there’s a slur horrible enough to describe those two. However, going back to the website they created. It means that in all likelihood they have other facilities already in use or being built in other areas. Some of the guys going through the paperwork here have seen some references to another site in Europe. They’ve narrowed it down to Switzerland, Norway, or the Czech Republic. They’ve also determined that there’s a facility being built in Colombia, which could be problematic. The drug cartels down there are not to be messed with. Makes me happy that shifters aren’t affected by drugs like humans are. There may be a couple of other places too, but we’re still working on figuring it out.”

Sebastian scrubbed his face with his hands, the skin rough with several days worth of hair growth. “We need to get the website shut down as soon as possible. Do we know who was in charge of it?”

“Yes, it was one of the shifters at the mine facility who was killed,” Nat replied.

“Dammit, I’ll get my best guy on it. Dark sites are a bitch to hack into, but if anyone can get it done, he can. How long do you think it’s going to take to figure out where the operational facility is?” Sebastian asked.

“I have no fucking clue,” the big bear shifter growled. Frustration was evident in the furrows that tracked their way across his forehead. “I’d love to find the location in a day or two, but we’ll be lucky if it’s a month or two. We’ve got shifters on the ground in all of those countries, checking on the leads we gave them,” Roberto answered, looking at Simon, who nodded in agreement.

“The biggest problem we have is that a lot of the information that we’ve accessed is encrypted. Trying to decipher it is going to take time, which we don’t have a lot of,” Simon explained.

“Do the best you can, because that’s our priority right now, taking down the websites and shutting down the operational facility, wherever it may be. We’ll deal with Colombia later,” Sebastian decided.

“If you don’t mind, I’ll start putting feelers out there to see what kind of information I can get,” Nat offered.

Sebastian had completely forgotten that she was raised in Brazil and her position on the Council gave her top ranking for all of South America. She would have contacts in all of the countries that had shifter populations. Colombia most certainly did. Shifters that were used to dealing with human cartel leaders.

“Thank you Nat, that would be a huge help. Hopefully it’ll give us a place to start. What else do we have that needs immediate attention?” he asked.

“There are two packs that no longer have an Alpha. Nichols’ pack probably isn’t salvageable. That is unless Reilly wants to step up as Alpha,” Nat said, looking over at Reilly.

“Oh hell no!” Reilly exclaimed, his eyes going impossibly wide.

Sebastian shook his head. Reilly’s horrified expression was funny. “Do we know how many pack members are left after we deal with the ones who were involved in this mess?” Sebastian wanted to know.

“I’m not sure, but I can text Zev,” Reilly answered. “He and Ben were working on figuring that out.”

Sebastian nodded and within a few minutes they had their answer.

“Twelve, Zev says there’s seven adults and five kids.”

“Alright then. I think the best move in this case is to let the families that are left decide where they want to go. Some of them may have connections or family in other packs who would be able to take them in. They can join my pack if they want to. I have no problem taking them under my protection,” Sebastian stated.

“So, that leaves the Montana pack,” Roberto said.

“Yeah. That’s the one I have no clue what to do with.”

Nat reached over and placed her hand on Sebastian’s arm. “I don’t want to be presumptuous, but I’m going to give you some unsolicited advice. The eyes of the entire shifter world are soon going to be on you. Your pack needs to reflect your status. I suggest you merge your pack with the Montana pack and take over as its Alpha. Your Maryland territory can be used as the U.S headquarters for the High Council. I’m sure you prefer not to have to fly to Germany several times a year. The rest of us are used to it, so it really doesn’t matter where we go. Well, except for Pieter. He wasn’t planning on participating in the next election anyway, so he can deal with it for a few years. I’m not a fan of that draughty old castle anyway. I really think this is the right move for you and your Kappa.”

“That’s a lot to take on. Reilly and I will need to talk it over. Everything you said makes sense, it’s just such a big leap.”

“It’s a leap we’re confident you can handle,” Andrew assured him.

“It sounds as if you guys have already discussed this,” Reilly commented.

“We did. It’s dangerous to have a large pack like the Montana one without an Alpha. Wars have been started over similar situations,” Nat noted.

“Why don’t we give you and your mate a chance to discuss things. The sooner we have this settled the better,” Simon suggested.

Sebastian and Reilly exchanged glances.

“I’ll text the guys,” Reilly said, automatically knowing that Sebastian would not make a final decision without them.

Nat and the others left and a few minutes later Zev and Ben came in, followed by Hunter and Kellan. Everyone sat at the table. Sebastian gratefully took the fresh cup of coffee his mate handed him.

After filling them in, Sebastian asked, “Well, what do you guys think?”

“You said that a lot of the information is encrypted?” Zev said, smiling.

“Yes. Simon is concerned because it’s hindering their progress,” Sebastian answered, puzzled by Zev’s shit-eating grin.

“I can definitely help with that!” he declared gleefully.

“Could you be a little more specific?” Sebastian was still confused by Zev’s enthusiasm.

Ben chuckled and answered for his mate. “Zev here is a genius with patterns. Ciphers and cryptograms are like child’s play to him.”

Sebastian smiled as the realization sank in. This was the first bit of good news that he’d heard all day. “Awesome! As soon as we’re done here, head back to the mine and put your skills to work. Now, getting back to the pack situation, any thoughts?”

Hunter spoke up first. “I think it’s the right thing to do. Nat’s right, as senior Alpha, you need a large pack. We know that you’re more than capable of managing a pack of six-hundred, but the court of public opinion will be judging you until you prove it. Kellan and I will support you, however you need us too.”

Kellan nodded his agreement.

“As much as I’m hurting from Caleb’s betrayal right now, I am more than willing to pledge my loyalty to you, if you accept our pack as your own. I can’t think of anyone else I would want to lead us,” Zev vowed.

“You have my pledge as well, Alpha,” added Ben. He knew wholeheartedly that he belonged in the shifter world now.

“Thank you. It means a lot to me. It also cements my decision. If Reilly agrees, then it would be my honor to take over the Montana pack. I also think that keeping the Maryland territory and using it as Council headquarters is the right thing too. That way if any of our original pack wants to return, they can make sure everything is kept up properly when we’re not there.”

“I would follow you to the ends of the world. You know I will be right by your side. We can do this,” Reilly promised, getting up and sliding into Sebastian’s lap, needing to physically connect.

Sebastian wrapped his arms around his mate and kissed him, then looked at the others. “We still have a lot to do and some of it’s not going to be easy. Sorting out all of this shit is going to be a bitch and a half and I have no idea how long it will take. Are you all onboard?”

Five united voices pledged, “Yes, Alpha!”

Sebastian smiled. There was a long road ahead of them, but together they would tackle it. He tightened his arms around Reilly’s middle and got a resounding rumble in reply.

“I guess before we do anything we need to feed my mate. Can’t have him wasting away now, can we?”

Reilly laughed and broke free from Sebastian’s hold. “I’m pretty sure a couple of the remaining families have been manning the kitchen today. They’ve made sure sandwiches and stuff have been available as everyone gets hungry, so let’s go see what they’ve got and then let’s get the fuck out of here. I really don’t want to spend another night in this territory.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more. We’ll let Nat and the other council members know about our decision and they can figure out where they’re staying tonight,” Sebastian declared.

The men knew that there was still so much to do. It was a daunting task that lay ahead. One which no one was looking forward to.

Not quite to the end, but almost.
As always, comments are welcomed and recommendations are appreciated!
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.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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