Werewolves moved all around the pair of us. Once the recovery team had come and found the condition we were all in, they had sent out an alarm, and like a floodgate, the entire community shot into motion. They had stretchered Treena, Bran, and the unnamed assassin. I was left to hobble my way alongside the stretchers. It wasn’t that I was particularly injured; I just ached from head to toe. The vampire stuff seemed to do that to me. It vaguely reminded me of a lecture Stephan had given me on body limiters. If the serum turned off my limiters, well, my body didn’t heal as fast as an immortal zombie did.
When we reached the edge of the forest, Katrina and the boys all emerged around me. They had relieved and happy looks on their faces. Even Allan and Ryan seemed to be caught up in the moment. The elder was running around trying to keep order as just about the entire clan was moving out to the edge of the forest to see the commotion.
“You did it,” Andrew said in amazement, “You’re the Alpha.”
“Is there something wrong with your hand?” Ryan interrupted.
“What, what do you mean?” I responded, moving my hand behind me.
“You seem to have it wrapped as if it was injured.”
“No, I’m fine I-” I started as Rune grabbed my hand from behind and brought it out.
He was gentle but had a good enough grip that I couldn’t wriggle free. He pulled off the bandages and there was a collective gasp. My hand was a lot better than it was. The nails were much less claw-like. The skin had returned to a normal pinkish color. It still looked abnormal though with almost werewolf-ish like traits.
“Okay,” I said preemptively, “So my hand might have turned werewolf for a bit, but see, it’s going away.”
“How is this even possible?” Andrew shook his head in confusion.
There was a long pause before Victor lifted his hand a little bit. The group turned to him, and he gave a sheepish grin.
“What did you do?” Rune snapped.
“Well, I think this might be a side effect of the serum.”
“Side effect?” Allan asked curiously.
“Yes, well, you see, a vampire’s magic is, for all intent and purposes, vampiric. That means it sucks on other living things. Vampires aren’t just bloodsuckers. We suck on anything, energy included. It’s why we are immortal. We fuel ourselves on the energy of the world around us. Now, I’ve trained myself to control and siphon the energy. I don’t just suck anything all willy nilly. However, when Jane drank the venom, she gained some of my magic…”
“So, what are you saying?” Andrew demanded.
“She’s been absorbing magic. Whenever she takes my venom, she’s been absorbing the magic of those around her. In this case, werewolves. In another case…”
“Demons,” I spoke up, causing the heads to turn to me, “That’s how I was able to do what I did all those years ago. I was in a room full of demons and angels. I must have been soaking up all that energy.”
Before we could continue the conversation, the elder moved up to us, “I want to apologize for what you have been through. We had no idea that Bran could be involved in such a horrifying conspiracy. On top of that, he brought poor Ness into it as well. Rest assured, we will be looking at this matter very carefully, thank you for finding the culprit.”
Treena moved up to us as well, waving away the protests of some of her concerned caretakers, “So, it was all Bran from the beginning? The obstacle course was rigged as well. It was almost like someone was deliberately causing equipment to fail. Two of the ropes I selected snapped under the weight and a few gaps seemed to mysteriously change sizes. The two of them couldn’t have been working alone.”
Actually, I was pretty sure that was Xavier. He was distinctly looking away right now, looking extremely suspicious. However, I wasn’t going to reveal that he’d been helping me cheat as a ghost during the obstacle course. However, I still disagreed with what Treena said about Bran being behind everything. Something about it didn’t add up with me. Bran had stated himself that he wasn’t involved in the first attack, and he had little reason to lie at that moment.
The elder grimaced, nodding, “We will make sure Bran tells us all of his co-conspirators. Justice will be found.”
“Not exactly,” A voice spoke up.
The elder turned to see Stephan moving to the front of the group with Daltom trailing behind. Daltom seemed to be helping someone else walk. It was Daniel. I exclaimed in excitement, racing out from the group and slamming into him, giving the half-naked boy a giant hug. Daniel grimaced in pain but seemed to smile at the same time, hugging me back gently. His warm body felt really good, and I had to pull away quickly, fighting a blush before the other boys grew aware.
“What is he doing here?” the elder demanded, “He is still being held.”
“I grabbed him once it was clear he was Alpha. He’ll be pardoning his crime, but he probably won’t be needing a pardoning. I’m going to assume Jane won?” Stephan responded.
“Would you assume anything else?” I answered haughtily.
“Never,” Stephan smiled back.
“She won by a pair,” Rune interjected, causing a blush to form on my cheeks.
“What do you mean?” Treena asked.
Rune shrugged, “Well, you see, Jane has two nicely shaped-“
“No, not you, idiot, I mean Stephan. What do you mean by the fact that Daniel doesn’t need pardoning?”
Stephan nodded, “Well, Daniel didn’t perform the murder. Although, Bran isn’t the guilty party either.”
The declaration caused most of the nearby werewolves to silence, perking their ears in our direction. It was clear that within a moment the attention of the entire camp was on us.
“That’s preposterous,” the elder snapped nervously, “Bran was practically caught red-handed. He had a clear motive.”
“I’m sure,” Stephan responded, “Bran had a motive. However, you had an even greater motive.”
“Me!” The elder gasped, taking a step back.
“The elder council and the Alpha have always had a check and balance relationship. A strong Alpha means the council has little control. However, a weak Alpha would ascend you to power.”
“No, that’s not true.”
“I’ve spent all day collecting proof,” Stephan said, lifting a small manila folder, “This is your evidence. You conspired in the murder of Jorgan, the sabotage and attempted fixing of a tournament, and imprisoning an innocent man.”
Several emotions appeared on the elder’s face, but then his hand fell and the power left him, “It’s true. There is no use fighting it now. I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you and your meddling human.”
There was a burst of hundreds of people talking at once as the camp suddenly exploded infighting. It looked like it was about to burst into an all-out riot at any second.
“Quiet!” A voice bellowed across, ceasing the sound like a knife; I was shocked to find that the voice belonged to Daniel.
Once again, he had the aura of an Alpha male. Why did he have to look so sexy and cool when he did that, even if he was covered in bruises?
“I tried to save us,” the elder spoke in a near whisper, “Danger is coming. The disappearances of the werewolf pack were only the beginning. We are too set in old traditions. It weakens us. We need more than a strong Alpha male. We need to break from those traditions if we hope to survive the oncoming storm.”
“I agree.” Daniel nodded slowly, causing the elder’s eyes to open. Then he spoke loudly for the rest of the clan to hear, “That is why I met with Jorgan on that fateful night. The two of discussed the role of an Alpha, and what we must do. An Alpha needs to be strong, true. However, they also need to be cunning. They need to have plans and ideals for our future. They need to be able to learn from their mistakes. They need to be able to grow. I… am not ready to be Alpha yet.”
There was a burst of yells of disappointment, but Daniel cut them off, “I am not ready yet, but one day, I will be. I must leave you for now. There are things I must do, lessons I must learn. These things I cannot find in the sanctity of the clan. I most go out into the world and learn those things. However, there is someone here who is strong. They are cunning, clever, and a natural born leader. Someone whom I trust with my life, and the future of this clan. In my absence, I choose them to be your acting Alpha. Treena!”
The clan exploded once again. Several men started rising in anger. An incredibly stiff look from their wives seemed to quiet them in an instant. The women began cheering, and shortly after, the men started to join them. Within short order, the entire camp began to chant.
“Treena, Treena, Treena, Treena.”
Tears began to form in Treena’s eyes, a complete look of shock as she turned towards Daniel, “Do you really mean this?”
“I always thought you were the best person for the job. Jorgan and I had already decided that whoever won, we’d nominate you in this manner,” Daniel nodded to the elder, “He’s right, the times needed to change. I think a woman Alpha is about due.”
Treena wiped her tears from her eyes as the shouting started to diminish.
“Alright!” Trina bellowed, “Cloud, Sandy, put the elder in prison. Keep him under surveillance and suicide watch until I get a chance to talk to him about these looming threats. Someone gather the rest of the elders. We need to have a chat. We’ve got a lot to do, get to it!”
The camp suddenly exploded in activity. It was amazing the difference in how the werewolves moved. They were always active, but now they bustled almost like a beehive. Without the leadership of an Alpha, they almost seemed lethargic in comparison.
Daniel turned to me, “Jane, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you’ve done. I love you today as much as I always loved you, but now I know without a doubt there can be no one else but you.”
“Well,” Katrina interrupted Daniel, “Now that that is over with and we have some free time, the two of you march, we need to have some private conversations, mom to her kids.”
“Mom?” Daniel protested as Katrina moved behind and began pushing him.
The scene looked ridiculous. The bruised, shirtless Alpha male protesting as a mom half his size leaned forward shoving his back. One sharp look at me and I followed without too much protest. I was too tired to argue right now.
“Look, those eggs aren’t getting any more fertile. You need to know the best positions for conception and you’re going to be practicing them regularly if I have to get in there and guide you myself.”
Katrina dragged the pair of us into her tent, both of us too beat up and tired to resist. At some point, one of us would need to set her straight on the whole nature of our “mate” thing. I leaned over, placing my head on Daniel’s shoulder. Katrina was somewhere around discussing how to turn a premature ejaculation into baby making opportunity and why oral sex was counterproductive when my body drifted off to sleep. As long as I didn’t wake up naked in bed with a boy, I’d be fine, but hey, what are the chances of that happening again?