"I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree."
Shortly after nine Monday morning, Dr. Paul Thomas, after receiving directions from the attendant at the filling station/convenience store in town, headed his veterinarian truck north towards Kabetogama and "The Pines" where Campbell and Associates lived and maintained their business interests. He discovered, as he visited at the station/store, not many people were really familiar with just what Campbell and Associates did except, "some sort of computer stuff" and, according to one townsperson who happened to be in the store, "seems pretty involved with government projects of some sort!" According to the collective knowledge of the locals gathered there, customers from all over North America and employees from company field offices flew in regularly for meetings. Most were housed in the Lodge on the premises while others roomed at "Suttons."
Andre's revelations concerning Nan Hayes were relayed to Dana when he came home from spending the night at Norm's. In casual conversations with Norm over the rest of the weekend, Dana discovered there were three families living and working at Campbell's; the Campbell family, the Hayes,' and the Bower's. In addition, Gene and Mary Turner – employees at Campbell and Associates and Chad Coleman, brother to Mary Turner, lived in one of the apartments on the grounds as well. Jessie Sutton, whose parents owned and operated "Sutton's Lodge and Resort," located on the shores of Lake Kabetogama, was the boyfriend of the Campbell Twins. The Twins worked part-time at the Resort as well as Jessie and Diondre Carlson, a foster son the Suttons' had living with them.
"If," Paul thought, noticing the big sign advertising the Resort, "I have time after my visit with Campbell, I just might stop by Suttons' and see if I can be of service to any of their guests." A resort, with the amenities he heard they offered, certainly would have guests with pets which might need his medical services from time to time. He didn't have his practice up and running yet, but it wouldn't be long and he'd be seeking patients, of all sorts!
The deep woods, lack of extensive roads throughout ("road density"), and few human inhabitants year around, made the area ideal for wildlife, especially wolves. The presence of timber wolves, also made an excellent place for creatures of his ilk, Lycanthropes, to dwell as well, especially if there were small and middle sized communities close by for them to live and work in during the day. At night, they could shift and run the woods, hunting, and enjoying the life they loved, unless they didn't intrude on another packs territory. That was the least of his concerns, however, since it made no difference to him and his family.
Before moving here, he'd gathered information on several werewolf packs in the area; one near Red Lake and the Lake of the Woods; another in the Cloquet State Forest not far from Duluth; another in the Superior National Forest near Tofte; and a small, relatively new pack in the Savanna State Forest north of McGregor.
This pack, the one at Campbell's, was a surprise to him, although it shouldn't have been. With all of the turmoil in the past few years, packs were moving all over, finding places they thought were safe for them and their families. Unfortunately, not all were successful! The problems in the Northwest had kept him and his wife, Linda, extremely busy and occupied and with her death, he had a difficult time keeping things together. It was at the urging of his oldest son, after accepting a Science Teaching and Research position at Bemidji State, to move to Minnesota, with the three other boys, and make a clean start. His second oldest son transferred to the University of Minnesota at St. Paul, in the Veterinarian College, so he just had Dana and Andre at home. They were both bright boys and this would be, he thought, a great environment for them to live in. The schools were good, the woods were deep, and there was a practice to be purchased!
Driving past the lane leading to Sutton's, Paul continued down the county road, noting it was relatively new or rebuilt within the last couple of years and it appeared new power lines, carrying high voltage, had been strung along the road. His progress was stopped by a very imposing front entrance, with a sign on one of the brick palisades adorning each side of the drive, proclaiming this to be "Campbell and Associates, LLC." The metal barred gates were open, but a stop sign and a notice under it announcing "Private Property -No Entrance without Authorization" beside a small gatehouse, brought him to a stop.
Spotting a four-passenger UTV coming toward him from the direction of the large lodge, Paul waited until it pulled up alongside of him. A young, fairly attractive, well-built man stepped from the UTV and approached his truck, scrutinizing it as he did. Paul immediately sensed this young man was not an ordinary Lycan; he was a hunter, one who could and would pursue his prey and dispatch it without compunction! Hunters, such as him, possessed special skills few other wolves had; Paul was familiar with all of them, having treated a few in his career. In this young man's case, however, Paul wasn't too certain he realized what he was developing into!
Smiling, the man said, by way of introduction, "Franklin Campbell; do you have an appointment?"
"No," Paul replied and introduced himself. "Dr. Paul Thomas, Veterinarian. I just moved to Orr and will be opening my practice soon," and knowing Franklin Campbell knew damned well what he was because of his scent, asked, "What Pack is this?"
Franklin never answered the question, but did instruct Paul to park in the visitor section of the parking lot and follow him to the main lodge. Walking up the sidewalk, Paul spotted the many security cameras located discreetly, but strategically, throughout the compound, monitoring not only the grounds but the buildings as well. His scanning of the grounds revealed, besides the big lodge they were walking to, four cottages remodeled into nice homes, what appeared to be an apartment or condo building, several storage buildings, a large array of satellites dishes surrounded by a chain link fence enclosure, several electric transformers in another one, and, what appeared to be a generator in another. Most interesting was a fairly large building on the other side of the lodge, quite some distance away and unnoticeable at first, surrounded by chain link fencing topped with razor wire. He was willing to bet the building was the most secure on the premises and where most of the very, supposedly, "government," business was conducted or researched. Other than that, the facility looked like either a resort or a resort remodeled into a home site, complete with docks, boats, and a boat house.
The entire compound reeked of money and secrecy! What really caught his attention was the extremely strong scent of Lycanthropes; werewolves, shifters! His thoughts were interrupted when they entered the Lodge, passed a receptionist, and Franklin ushered him into a rather large office. Standing, apparently waiting for him, were three men, one of a larger stature than the others.
His nostrils were filled with the powerful scent of an Alpha and lesser scents of the Beta and the Pack Enforcer, flanking the largest of the three. His natural conclusion was simply the Alpha was Campbell and one of the other two was Hayes, the father of Nan Hayes who his son spoke of.
Art Campbell viewed the smaller man carefully standing in front of him before speaking.
"Welcome to Campbell and Associates," nodding to his two companions, "I'm Art Campbell and these gentlemen are my partners, Ray Hayes and Ted Bowers," nodding to each as he did.
"Dr. Paul Thomas," he responded and cutting to the chase, asked, "What Pack is this? I asked Franklin but perhaps I missed his response."
Art Campbell, unused to being challenged so blatantly by strangers, especially other Lycans, bristled, "This is the Kabetogama Pack and you are in the presence of its Alpha! I'll forgive your failure to bare your neck in submission as a subordinate since you're apparently new to the area."
Paul nodded, acknowledging the remarks, but remained undeterred and certainly not intimidated by the larger Alpha.
"And I accept your apology for your ignorance or lack of information understanding who I am and what position I hold!"
Campbell uttered a soft growl in anger at the challenge and Bowers and Hayes began to step forward, when another voice from behind him, a new one to Thomas, "Perhaps you'd be so kind to inform us what position you hold, Dr. Thomas, since I have no idea what you're referring to!"
Paul turned slowly part-way around so he could still react to Hayes or Bowers if he needed to, and met an outstretched hand offered by another young man, slightly older than Franklin Campbell.
"Scott Campbell; please forgive us for our rudeness. We've been so busy getting re-established here, I'm afraid we've been out of touch!" as he attempted to calm what could develop into a very volatile situation!
"We've only recently, within the past couple of years, began re-locating our business here from our operations in Canada. Other than a field office in Juneau, the other field offices are in Canada, thus, we've been out of touch with customs or regulations in the Lower Forty-eight concerning Pack hierarchy."
Paul relaxed, yet wary of the three more aggressive leaders of the Kabetogama Pack, so remained on guard.
"Many years ago, Scott, as advances were made in veterinarian medicine, a few, damned few I might add, of our kind began entering the field. Because of our peculiar nature, we also specialized, albeit covertly, in treating our own. Since there were, and still are, so few vets of our persuasion, in order to prevent Packs from deciding who'd be treated by allowing vets to treat only those members of the packs the vets belonged to and hence causing problems of raiding, the Grand Council declared all Lycan or shifters as you might prefer, veterinarians and their families, would belong to no pack, have access to any pack territories, and would medically treat members of any pack, even those in opposing sides in disputes."
"As a result, I and my family members belong to no Pack, but to all Packs and have free and unfettered access to any Pack's territory!"
Scott nodded his understanding and with a small motion of his head, sent Franklin slipping from the room.
Paul Thomas smiled; "Franklin will discover, once he contacts the Grand Council, what I say is correct."
The five of them continued to stand, awaiting Franklin's relay of information, if he was able to contact the Council. The room still was ubiquitous with tension, although not as fierce as previously, and awkward as Paul wasn't made welcome to sit nor had anyone else decided to do so. Paul decided to quietly wait which added to the frustration Art Campbell was feeling. Never had his authority been challenged by a stranger; a stranger who seemed to have the Grand Council's blessing. Of course, Art hadn't been in contact with the Council ever, since his type of business kept the three of them fairly isolated and the fact the business was in Canada until recently. The only member of his Pack who had any association with Council activities was Brent Hayes who recently attended a summer convention of young Lycans.
Campbell, Hayes, or Bowers and their families, never had the need to seek the services of a Lycan veterinarian either because of good luck or being able to treat their own minor diseases and injuries through their own self-healing. Jeanne Campbell, Art's wife, is a nurse-practioner and was, thus far, able to handle most medicine emergencies. They all were extremely careful around silver, knowing the deadly effects on them, and hadn't been in any disputes with rival Packs. In fact, they had little direct contact with other Packs and, when they did, it was for business purposes only and not social!
Franklin stepped back into the room, gave Scott a nod, and the tension in the room began to dissolve.
In a much calmer, less demanding and authoritarian manner and voice, Art Campbell invited all of them to please take a seat. Paul noticed he sat behind his desk, Bowers and Hayes sat in chairs to the right and left of it, Scott sat next to him, while Franklin remained standing near the door.
"So, Dr. Thomas," Scott began, "what brought you to our neck of the woods?"
"It was not a move I would've anticipated several years ago. We were quite happy and busy in our veterinarian practice in Washington State. The vast majority of our clients were humans with small animals for pets, along with an occasional patient from our own communities. There are several Packs in Washington and our practice was located not far from the coast and relatively close, although it was some distance away, to the Canadian Border. However, it became apparent I needed to move my family away from the area, for several reasons. My oldest son, who'd accepted a position at Bemidji State, suggested a move here. There was a practice for sale, the schools were good, and I moved here with my other three sons, even though school was already well underway."
"Your wife?" Scott inquired.
"She died a little over a year ago!"
The group waited quietly, waiting for Dr. Thomas to continue.
"A number of years ago, I really don't know for certain how many, a small Pack in Northern Maine was attacked brutally, viciously, and with more rancor than ever been seen before, even in the midst of Pack feuding over territory or mates. The aggressors murdered the men and older boys and proceeded to rape the women, young ladies, and boys and girls who were prepubescent or early teens, seeming to take greater pleasure in those younger ones than the older ones. Once their sexual appetites were satisfied, the objects of their abhorrent behavior were killed as well!"
It was puzzling at first by local Packs, wondering why such an act was committed and by whom, until they finally appealed to the Grand Council to investigate and attempt to determine who the perpetrators were and why. Teams of investigators arrived and found very little to investigate, other than a number of fellow werewolves were killed and raped. There was no clues where the attackers came from or why the attack occurred. They were able to discover the perpetrators, in addition to their ravaging the victims, robbed them as well, taking only small, valuable items, such as jewelry, easily converted to cash, and cash. Some victims apparently held gold coins and those were gone as well. Those items were secreted away by one of the perpetrators shifting to human who walked to a town road where a vehicle waited. From there no further trace was found.
"The deed was done quickly and efficiently," Dr. Thomas noted, "according to what I heard. The killers disappeared and the conventional thought concerning the incident was an act of murder to cover up a robbery and rape on the part of the victors to satisfy immediate sexual needs. There was no other explanation although the viciousness of the attack was unprecedented, but a 'one off' event" so many thought!
"There are always solitary and sometimes multiple deaths in our society by fighting, rivalries, or some sort of disagreements which cannot be resolved by peaceful means or by "blood-suckers," who hate us anyway, or by men who fear us, so those incidents generally don't spark the interest of the Grand Council. However, about a year later, another attack of similar magnitude and viciousness occurred, similar to the one in Maine!"
The attack this time occurred in Northern Vermont on a Pack living near the Border of the United States and Canada. Again the men were killed first, the women, small girls and boys raped, including the teens, and the victims robbed; same "M. O." as before, only this time they made a mistake! A young man, a member of the Pack, happened to come home unannounced, from finishing his college education, arriving on the scene as the ravaging was just coming to a close! The perpetrators failed to notice him concealed, watching, and remembering.
"This young man is bright, one of the brightest and most talented in that particular Pack and, come to find out, in our society."
He was able to describe the killers in detail and was able to "eavesdrop" on their conversations! From those casual conversations among the debauchers, he determined their leader already left the area and the rest were just enjoying themselves in their debauchery. The attack was planned in advance, a thorough reconnaissance made prior to it, and carried out at a time when everyone would be home and vulnerable. They were a rogue Pack who, for some reason or the other, hated their fellow shifters and were led by an older, very vicious wolf. After cleaning up the scene, he reported to the Grand Council.
The young man became the first of a very secret, specially trained, very bright elite group of Lycanthropes working for the Grand Council whose mission was to find and eliminate this rogue Pack! The special squad scattered out throughout the nation, near the Border, watching, waiting, and investigating, trying to anticipate another attack. They remained deeply hidden in society, unannounced, unknown, and undetectable by even fellow Lycans. In effect, they were sleepers, ready to awaken and attack the interlopers.
"They weren't able to eliminate all of the attacks," Dr. Thomas lamented, "but they did lessen them by their very presence. They were able to physically stop several, killing some of the members of the rogue Pack, while serving a warning to stay away. Unfortunately, because of their small numbers they are not able to everywhere at once. The one attack they weren't able to prevent was the one taking my wife's life!"
"My wife, Linda, a vet also, received a call to treat a young lad in a small Pack some ten miles or so from the Washington State and British Columbia Border. We were both wary and concerned, but there was no indication of any dangerous activity in our area, although an across the border attack did happen in Montana some four or five months before, but nothing since, at least any we heard of. We thought it'd be safe and, not wanting to refuse a call for medical assistance, she left. While there, the Pack was attacked and she was among those killed while protecting a group of small children. Fortunately, she wasn't raped, perhaps because she was already dead when the attack intended. Unfortunately, it was not the case for the smaller children!"
Dr. Thomas went on to relay the Grand Council's special strike force determined the rogue Pack sends a member or two in human form into an area to reconnoiter an area, determine what valuables the local pack or packs might have, assess the strength, evaluate the possibilities of sexual pleasures, and return to plan the attack. Part of the planning might be a return as wolves to get a more clandestine evaluation and determine if there any of the young boys they might want to take with them. If they were reluctant to join the rogues, they were killed!
The information the Council slowly gathered developed a profile of the types of Packs most likely to be attacked and began sending their elite squads out to those areas with orders to establish themselves, stay concealed, but be prepared.
"I was notified and drove up to receive her body and bring her home for burial. It was a sad time for our family. I became despondent, discouraged, and just wanted to get away to someplace else. When my oldest son went to work for Bemidji State and heard of the vet practice in Orr being for sale, I bought it and moved here with my three other sons."
"I was quite surprised," Dr. Thomas acknowledged, "to find a relatively small, but strong Pack here! Are there any others, than your own Pack, in the vicinity you're aware of?"
Art Campbell frowned, wary on hearing how the rogue Pack scoped out an area before attacking, and was reluctant to answer since he was uncertain Paul Thomas just might be part of the scouting group!
"Not that I'm aware of. I know there is a Pack over in the Red Lake or Lake of the Woods area. They were the closest to the Border, I think, other than ours. We're relatively new to the area so I doubt we're on anyone's radar. Our own pack consists of some employees, our grown sons and daughters, children still at home, and those in school."
Smiling confidently, certain he'd be sending a clear signal, just in case, he said, "We have an extremely sophisticated and effective security system and intruder defense system here because of the nature of our work!" and offered no more.
"You also have Franklin," Dr. Thomas recognized, "who, I'm certain, you know is a 'hunter,' one of those special few who has talent and skills yet to be developed," and offered no more, other than a smile in return to Campbell's previous remarks.
Campbell glared, angered, frustrated he couldn't intimidate the man, so said nothing!
Scott broke the silent tension in the room. "We're really pleased you stopped by Dr. Thomas and sympathize with your loss. We are also pleased to know we have a medical professional in our area we can call on if we need one. I'm certain my father and Mr. Hayes and Mr. Bowers welcome you and your sons to run and hunt our territory."
It was clearly meant as an end to the meeting and a dismissal. Dr. Thomas took no offense; he was quite used to dealing with Alpha's and their teams who sometimes let pride or position go to their head or in this case, something else; he wasn't certain.
"I'd appreciate having your sons identify themselves to me before they do!" Art added sharply!
"Oh, there'll be no need for that," Thomas smiled, "you'll know right off when you see them; they're white wolves, as am I! With that said, I'll take my leave and thank you for the opportunity to visit with you," adding seriously, "I'm not certain you realize the gravity of the situation, Mr. Campbell; there is evil and wickedness lurking and none of us are immune from its carnage even with sophisticated security and intruder defense systems!"
Abruptly turning to Franklin and Scott, showing his back to Campbell, "No need for you to show me the way out, I can manage just fine!" and left the room.
The five of them stood silently for a moment after Thomas left. Scott looked at his father; "You know, Dad, there are time you really know how to piss people off and there's one we shouldn't! I think he was just trying to get acquainted and offer us his assistance!"
Art growled his displeasure by his son's remarks, but Scott just shrugged it off and he and Franklin left the room.
"Jesus, Art," Ted exclaimed, "what the hell got you so uptight? Something we're not aware of?"
There was a great deal bothering Art Campbell and his visitor just exacerbated his concerns. His concerns weren't business related; in fact Campbell and Associates was doing very well, very well indeed! If it continued to expand at the current rate, they'd have to add at least two, possibly three, more IT people to the staff. Profits were up and the location was ideal for feting potential customers or entertaining current ones.
No, his concerns were personal. As an Alpha, he was responsible for the protection and welfare of his Pack; as a father, he was also responsible for the protection and welfare of his family. Therein lay the concerns!
His family was maturing, albeit he still had a couple of younger ones at home, but he felt he was losing control of parts of the maturing children. Scott and his family were perfectly happy here, but Franklin was showing some signs of restlessness. Thomas's remarks concerning Franklin hit home; Franklin did have skills, damned good skills, when it came to hunting and killing, for that matter. It wouldn't be long before he'd want to leave and, even as much as Art wanted him to stay because he was a valuable member of the company and the family, he knew he'd have to let him make the final decision!
His twin sons, Jason and Tyler, and their Averill Creek Pack, as they were known, seemed to be developing into a separate Pack rather than a sub-Pack of his and happened to be the major source of his concerns! It now had eleven members or so with the addition of Diondre Carlson and he had no idea how many of the younger ones now at home would want to join as well. If many joined, it would weaken his Pack, the Kabetogama Pack!
Art began noticing changes in Tyler and Jason some time back when he realized they were able to block unspoken communication with each other from him, something other Pack members weren't able to do. He watched carefully, since they "turned" young Jessie Sutton when they mated him and now, as "alphas" of the Averill Creek Pack, they also had an "alpha mate;" not female, but male! The three of them could also block any communication he might try sending to them. Very unusual and strange, to say the least! If he was not mistaken, the rest of the young people in the Averill Creek Pack could do so as well.
Jessie Sutton was an extremely bright, young man and possessed, now as a "shifter," with extraordinary sensitivity to smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste, many times more than the normal Lycan. In addition, he was extremely perceptive; the type of individual who could take five or six more seemingly unrelated incidents and form an extremely accurate conclusion. Art wouldn't have been surprised if he didn't possess some sort of "sixth scenes" or "extrasensory perception" abilities as well!
The other young pack members were fiercely protective of Jessie, as well as Jason and Tyler, quickly springing to defend them or him or shield him from harm, even to the point of sacrificing themselves. Jason and Tyler definitely would sacrifice their all for their mate. Their pack mates also sought Jessie's advice and counsel on situations, school, or anything. Jason and Tyler often sought Jessie's opinion before acting. Clearly, they all had intense loyalty and trust in him!
Sadly, Art thought it wouldn't be long until the Averill Creek Pack would want to be on their own! He knew it was coming someday, but hoped when it did, they'd remain linked to his Kabetogama Pack as friends, family, and allies!
All of this concerned him, but not nearly as much as Dr. Thomas' visit shocked, angered, and unfortunately, frightened him. As he listened to Dr. Thomas speak of the rogue Pack, he was suddenly jarred, remembering something Franklin relayed to him after the Peter's house burned. Franklin and Jessie, as wolves, tracked the unknown perpetrator to a road and lost him or her when he or she drove off in some sort of vehicle. Jessie's wolf sat on its haunches, sniffed the air several times, stood, walked over to where the vehicle previously was parked, looked around, and said,
"by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes!"
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