The stunned membership sat in silence. A large contingent of hunters moved to protect Dorian’s family, especially his nieces and nephews. Their signature rifles were unshouldered and held at the ready; one aimed at Levi’s head.
Aiden’s eyes glowed red as Ethan’s again shifted between red and blue, causing a purple hue that startled his mate. “Why is it guys like you can’t resist the evil villain monologue when you’re standing over your victim? You always think you’re going to get away with your crimes.” Ethan’s grin was menacing.
Ice crept over Levi’s dress shoes like tentacles, gripping the man and securing him to the ground. It wasn’t until it was half way to his knees he realized he was trapped. Roots from a nearby tree broke through the ground and rose to circle his wrists while another snaked up his spine to wrap itself around his neck. One final root resembling a serpent about to strike pulled back momentarily, before launching forward, entering Levi’s back, and piercing his chest. The beta was in immense pain as the tree and ice increased their grip. Nothing vital had been hit, so his natural lycan healing kept the injuries from killing him.
Ethan’s fists were clenched so tight, his blood dripped to the ground as liquid fire. Small blisters began to form on Levi’s skin.
Changing his focus from Levi to his pup, Aiden had never felt or smelled this much rage flowing off his mate. He knew he should stop Ethan, but could not bring himself to do it.
Casey could tell his brother was on the edge of unleashing his fury against the beta; not that he’d gone light so far. He spoke loud enough for only his friends and mates to hear him as he quoted from a Scooby cartoon. “And I’d have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for those meddling kids” The punch to his arms by Cody and Darius as well as Ethan and Aiden’s glare made him immediately shut up. But at least Ethan was no longer in danger of going full Elemental on the guy and barbequing him.
Dorian’s younger brother stepped in front of the man he always trusted. “Don’t kill him, Ethan. He’s mine. Levi McKinney, you betrayed this pack and my brother’s friendship. I don’t agree with a lot of the things Dorian did since becoming alpha, but I thought he had a reason for the betterment of the pack. You took a coward’s way by killing him the way you did. Just like your family did to Alpha Clark and Alpha Wagner. You don’t deserve to take another breath.” With that he grabbed Levi’s head and broke the man’s neck, watching as the body went limp in the clutches of the roots holding him. Sarah and her daughters embraced him as he returned to their side. He turned to face the dead body one last time. “I should piss on that fuckin’ corpse just for family spite.”
Marshal cleared his throat and got the members’ attention. He waved his hand disgustedly at the body on the ground. “Would someone please dispose of that? Maybe in a wood chipper?” He waited while the body was removed. “Alpha Jackman knew what was coming and made sure his home and office were covered by security video. Not an easy task under the watchful eye of the McKinneys. Thankfully, Alpha Ryan’s security detail assisted, or we wouldn’t know the truth. My stepson had real time video sent to the two men he felt he could trust above all others. There’s one more part to the video Alpha Jackman wanted you all to see. His true farewell to the people he loved.”
Dorian’s image returned to the screen appearing just as he did before his murder. He faced one of the cameras hidden in his office. Resignation was etched on the man’s face as he attempted to smile. “Karissa, Mom, my family, Ethan and Aiden, and my beloved Pit River Pack. I’m about to confront my beta with evidence he’s been poisoning me for years. This is part of the reason I’ve been an ass to so many people. I am deeply sorry for those I’ve hurt and for not being the leader you deserved. I’ve tried to take precautions to survive, but I honestly believe I won’t live to see another day. I’ve come to terms with the fact I’ll soon be dead, and it affords me the chance to let you all to know my last wishes as your alpha.
“First, the McKinney family will need to be handled since they have become a cancer that will continue to destroy this pack for their own gain. Their claws are so deep in our industries it may not be possible to separate them easily, but it needs to be done. Second, the full rights of every non-wolf lycan must be immediately restored. I offer my deepest apologies to the men and women of different species I’ve harmed. Any of the packs I added to Pit River through challenge or intimidation should be given the choice to break from us and go their own way. I set that plan in motion when I returned Graeagle to its rightful alpha. I’m only sorry I couldn’t have done more while I was alive. Since I’m dead, I know it’s up to all of you. But I hope the offer will be made, and if taken, borders would return to what they were for any who leave. A part of me also hopes everyone will want to remain Pit River and help to rebuild the pack’s identity without the McKinneys.
“Finally, I know there are several wolves who can succeed me as alpha, and I hope they’ll step forward to help with my wishes. I think we as a people need time to heal from this mess. I’ve learned a lot about this watching the Lycan Council recover from their own problems. I ask you to accept our pack be placed as a protectorate territory under the supervision of the Parker Valley Pack. I know they’re far away, but they can help you. You won’t lose your identity as Pit River, Shasta, and Lassen.
“For the time being, Ethan and Aiden will hopefully agree to be your interim alphas. They will be good and fair leaders who’ll know when our people are ready to stand on their own again. My original enforcers, Thaddeus and Wade, have agreed to return and help, possibly taking the mantle of leadership if the people wish it. Like Ethan healed me and let me see what was happening, he and his mate can help to heal this pack’s wounds.” He smiled for the first time since he began talking. “You might even decide to make them your permanent leaders. Despite my many mistakes and errors in judgment, attacking neighbors, and everything else, it has been my deepest honor to be your alpha. Goodbye my family.” A solitary tear ran down the man’s face.
The silence of the members was deafening. A few sniffs and sobs were all that broke the quiet.
Members of the McKinney family fled the meeting after Dorian mentioned them in hopes of escaping the retribution of the pack. Once the farewell message was complete, several dozen warriors shifted to fur and took off after them. The hunt had begun and they were out for blood.
Karissa Ryan moved from Sarah’s side to hug Ethan and whisper in his ear. “Please say you’ll honor his request.”
Ethan had to wipe tears from his eyes before he faced the pack. “Being an alpha is more my mate’s calling than mine.” He squeezed Aiden’s hand for support. “Even if I’m physically an alpha, I’m not sure I’ve been a wolf long enough to take the position. But it’s something my friend asked of me, and I won’t deny his request.”
Aiden wrapped his arm around his smaller mate. “Neither of us will force ourselves upon your pack. We have no ties to this land or the people here. Dorian felt an outsider might be best, at least in the short term. Ethan and I can be regent alphas through this transition and step aside when someone with the pack’s best interest comes forward. We can also remain your alphas after all the problems have been sorted. The choice must be yours, whether that’s to accept Alpha Jackman’s wishes or pick your own alpha now. My mate and I will do our best to help you.”
His head turned slowly as he spoke to each member of the pack. Aiden’s attention finally focused on Alpha Ryan and Dorian’s family. “Ethan and I won’t be able to be here all the time as we have commitments elsewhere that also require our presence. There are plenty of logistical concerns to work out, but we’ll handle them as they come up. For this to work we’ll need the assistance of everyone. If there’s anyone among you who wishes to lead and has the support of the people, we won’t stand in the way, and will still offer any help we can.”
Dorian’s older brother moved to the front. “He wouldn’t have asked you if it weren’t incredibly important to him. For my brother to pick someone he’s known less than two years to take over the pack tells me all I need to know about you. Unless one of our own steps forward, speaking for the Jackman family, I pledge my support and loyalty to these men for as long as they stand as our alphas.” He knelt before the two Elementals and looked to his family. His sisters soon followed his lead. Moments later the rest of the family took to their knees facing the pair.
One by one, the members joined the family as they made their decision. They would respect the wishes of their fallen alpha.
Marshal spoke quietly with the former council and elders before also dropping to his knee. “It is the unanimous decision of the Pit River Pack. We pledge our loyalty to the men chosen by my stepson to lead us and asked them to accept this responsibility. Long live Alpha Ethan Jacobs-Tucker and Alpha Aiden Jacobs-Tucker.”
I would like to express my deepest thanks to @Carlos Hazday and @Backwoods Boy for their assistance on editing this story. It's a pleasure working with you both.