"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody has thought"
(Albert Szent-Gyongyi Von Nagyrapolt)
Tucking the light blanket around his sleeping lap-mate to shield the young lad from the chill of the night, noting the soft, steady breathing of the ten year old, catching the whiff's of boy smell emanating from his freshly washed body, Eric speculated in a soft, almost whisper, to Evan, "Perhaps, it'd be wise to keep the presence hidden of the Lejeune's, especially young Bruce, given what you and I are contemplating, just in case."
"I couldn't agree more," Evan responded knowingly. "We understand the dangers, don't we?"
"Yes, but I think we can handle them quite well," Eric answered confidently. "We've handled them in the past."
Eric and Evan were both sound asleep on the couch, each with a boy nestled, warm and secure, on their laps when the teen wolves returned home from their run. Waking at the sounds of their chatter on the way into the house, Eric noted Patrick looked frustrated, Jacques well satisfied, and Henri almost desperate. Chase and Andy agreed with Eric and Evan, once the idea was broached to them the Lejeune's should be secreted away from the general public. It'd be difficult, especially for Ted since they'd be living there, but it could and would be done.
Eric sent Jessie, Tyler, and Jase, along with Franklin, Ted, Flynn, and Stephen, a text with the decision, adding the caveat, all would be revealed why at their next strategy meeting.
"It means no more breakfasts for us at the Pelican," Evan expressed woefully, "at least until we get this whole thing sorted out."
"Life's tough," mused Eric, knowing how well Evan loved eating out.
The week started out and continued to be a very active and educational week for all of the parties concerned. Early in the week, Eric and Evan, after taking Bruce and Mark to the Lodge on Remote Lake where Gaige and Patrick would join them since Tyler, Jase, and Jessie had to work, left for Duluth to do some shopping. They'd borrowed the royal ring from Jessie and Gaige in order to visit with and show it to a jeweler friend of theirs who had a legitimate shop and a clandestine shop there. They'd done business with the individual in the past and could rely on his silence.
Eric showed him the ring and asked if he could make a realistic copy of it, sans real jewels and precious metals.
The jeweler examined the ring carefully, turning it, inspecting the stones with his jewelers loupe, measuring it, photographing it from many angles, zeroing in on the engraved portions. Setting it aside, he asked, "Do you have any idea how valuable this is?"
Eric shook his head. "It's old and the stones seem authentic, so I'd assume it has some value."
"Thought so," the jeweler said, affirming his suspicions. "This beauty should be in a vault so secure our mutual friends couldn't open it. It's really old, but I can't determine how old. I'd venture before the Twelfth Century or farther back."
He offered no more, didn't ask where or how they got the ring, or why they wanted a copy. What he didn't know wouldn't put his own life in danger, that much he did know. They wanted a copy and he could make it. Quoting a fee, noting they didn't blink at the price, and announced it'd be ready in two weeks.
The jeweler did say, as he handed the ring back to Eric, "Guard it with your life."
Eric and Evan made one more stop at the gunsmith they'd purchased their "special" weapons from previously. They purchased a .410ga./.45 cal. revolver and a short-barreled 12ga. pump shotgun. They ordered "special" shot shells with silver shot for both the revolver and the shotgun as well as shot-shells with silver slugs and silver bullets for the revolver. The gunsmith informed them they'd be ready in two weeks.
The next several nights were busy ones for Patrick leading the group on several forays through Averill Creek Pack and Kabetogama Pack territories. It was made difficult since they couldn't reveal the presence of those in the group to others, mainly the Lejeune's and Jennifer. Thus, when it came to explaining the "white wolves" and their place in the hierarchy, rather than meet with them, Patrick could only name them and explain what they signified. The real healer was Dr. Paul Thomas, a veterinarian, but his family were all given white status as healers. Dana, his third son, mated with and turned Norm Haas.
Having a doctor nearby who could treat their injuries and occasional illnesses was a new experience for the Lejeune's and Jennifer. In the past, nurses in the pack were the only source of medical assistance when a Lycan couldn't heal him or herself.
Andy commented about the number of humans in the area who seemed to have been turned and now were werewolves. Patrick admitted there seemed to be so, but he hadn't found it unusual or a problem.
"Perhaps," Chase said, "it may give us a decided advantage over the Red Wolf and those who'd destroy our Prince. Until they catch the wolf scent on a human, they'll have no idea who is and who isn't. If they spot it on a few, they may conclude there are many."
Franklin was busy installing hidden cameras and very sensitive motion detectors on and near the Lodge, Eric and Evan's house, and Ted's rented home. He configured all of the devices to send alerts to his cell, Eric and Evan's, Jessie and the Twins, Ted Symthe, and the Landry's. Jessie's house was already well protected so there was little to do there. Satisfied with his work, he was confident they had not only electronic surveillance, but with their own alert senses and patrolling the area, visual, auditory, and scent surveillance in real time as well. Art Campbell knew the situation and pledged his security system and monitors in aiding the surveillance of the properties. He also would send help when the attack came when it was called for.
Jessie, Jase, and Tyler purchased two high tech commercial drones and used them to make a photographic and video record of all of the properties. From the air, the drone's cameras revealed the topography, the areas which might prove to be the most vulnerable, and those best protected. It also gave them an excellent idea of the places they might use to cause the battle to happen, giving them the "high ground" and the advantage. Basically, they were hunting for a place to ambush the attackers, perhaps by decoying or enticing the marauders to attack.
Henri lasted until the end of the week before his horniness brought him to heel, agreeing to Lindsey's demands to impregnate her. Within two minutes after he told her, both were naked, she was on her back with her legs wrapped around his waist, and Henri was happily engaged in plunking his magic twang-er balls deep, and spewing copious amounts of his baby makers into her womb.
Patrick, in his pursuit of Jennifer, wasn't quite as successful as Henri. Her scent, while on their runs or whenever she was near him, indicated she was ready and wanted him but still thwarted any attempt he made to mount her, either as a wolf or as a human. Jennifer, for her part, knew he wouldn't give up, so intense was his desire and sexual urge, and seek another. She didn't suspect he knew how badly she wanted him as well. Every time she saw him, heard him, or caught his scent, her young virginal female slit quivered and burned with desire for the large cock and ample balls he possessed inserted inside her, gripped tight, and to his balls, pumping his man-juice into her as she milked it for even more. It wouldn't be long, she thought, maybe a couple of days and she'd no longer be a virgin.
Photos from Stephen and Flynn, posing as tourists in search of property which might be turned at a profit or as a place to spend winters, began flowing electronically from their cell phones to Chase's, Jessie's, and Eric's cellphones soon after their arrival in Louisiana. Photos of individuals inside and outside the Red Wolf's tavern, of people in and around the small settlements nearby, and people in the settlement where the Red Wolf's Pack members lived, including any over age fourteen and capable of shifting, were sent as well. Pictures of the Lejeune, Landry, and Le Compte abandoned homes were added to their electronic transmissions.
Stephen and Flynn made no attempt to disguise their wolf sides since the others could detect their scent. They made the usual submissive actions to the Red Wolf, but informed him they were members of a strong pack in the mountains of Montana and wouldn't be in the area long and, as a result, appeared to be no threat to the Red Wolf or raise suspicions in any manner.
Chase, Henri, and Jacques, along with the Lejeune's and Jennifer, spent considerable time identifying and categorizing those individuals they could. They sorted out those they felt were fighters and those not likely to be. The fighters they were definitely able to identify were those survivors of the massacre of the Bayou Parish Pack. The Red Wolf lost quite a few of his veterans in that fight and would have to have added more. Hence, individuals who were most likely to be fighters were posted as part of the probable strike force. They also identified and posted, with names, the Red Wolf, noting he'd be readily identified by his limp caused by the wounds Marie Le Compte inflicted, his Beta Mauton, and his Enforcer Tregre. All in all, some two dozen potential fighters were tentatively identified, more than enough to make one hell of a fight.
Chase wasn't certain the Red Wolf would commit all of his force, preferring to leave some behind to defend the woman and children in case some other pack might decide to have a go at it. The Red Wolf did have the mercenaries to fight for him and they'd be more than just a little vicious. In fact, he thought they'd be the most difficult to defeat.
Saturday morning, Chase received a series of pictures of five men, none identifiable to him or the others, with a cryptic note, "Leaving this AM; see you soon; have much to share."
The five men, four with clear facial shots and one well-dressed gentleman with no clear facial shots, were clearly strangers. Unable to identify them or why they'd be so important, Chase sought out Jessie, Jase, and Tyler. They looked over the phots carefully.
Jessie finally spoke up. "Four individuals we don't know, but his one," pointing at one in particular, "we do know. His name is Warren Floyd and is a real asshole."
"Several years ago, before we married and Jessie was mated and turned, Warren Floyd was being interviewed for a position with Dad's company," Jase said. "He tried to put the make on Jessie."
"Yeah!" snorted Tyler. "We discouraged him."
Little else was said, until Prewitt, fliting about with Dusty, chimed in. "I'll bet those are the guys, the other guy," pointing at well-dressed man, "hired to fight for him. I know what he looks like but I never saw these fellows before."
"We need to have a meeting right after Flynn and Stephen return," Eric announced, concerned over what he now suspected the photos showed the mercenaries and the unknown "Mastermind" behind the attempt to assassinate Gaige. "Monday, at the Lodge."
Ted left the "Pelican," after breakfast, with his appetite well satisfied and with a firm resolve. Bev Johnson was his waitress, as had become routine. The more he saw her and visited with her, the more convinced he'd become to woe and win her. Evan declared, the first time he was with the two elderly gentlemen, Bev was available. From what he could discern, not only was she available, but seemed to be available to him, willing to allow him to pursue her. The only problem he could see wasn't the ready-made family of four boys he would gain, but his current situation. It'd be difficult to explain he was deeply involved in thwarting a plot to kill a werewolf prince and how many of the people Bev thought was human were actually Lycanthropes.
Nope, it wouldn't do at all! Not only would he be breaking his word and silence concerning the members of the supernatural, nether-world, but if she discovered his role in it and his knowledge, it'd not only put his friends in danger, but fuck up a courtship. There was much to consider! He really couldn't get too zealous in his courtship until the problem with the Red Wolf was resolved, if he survived the attack.
Driving through the front gate at The Lodge, he was aware he was under constant electronic surveillance from a good half mile down the county road. He looked at The Lodge in a different way now. It appeared to him to take on an entirely altered appearance, now looking like a fortress, a bastion, a citadel, or garrison ready to defend and protect those within its keep. Perhaps the others saw it in a similar manner.
Eric and Evan met him as he walked into the Great Room where the meeting was to take place.
"We've ordered a couple of weapons for you," Eric announced, "with very special ammunition." He continued to explain to Ted what the weapons were and the ammunition composed of silver shot and bullets rather than lead.
"They'll be damned good and affective," Evan explained with a knowing, experienced voice, "especially at close range. We've used them in the past."
"Think I'll need them?" Ted questioned.
"You will if the group goes along with the plan we've put together," Evan said.
Stephen and Flynn opened the meeting, with Eric presiding, explaining why it was urgent to have it and what to expect in the near future.
"By pure luck," Stephen began, "we were in the Red Wolf's tavern when five men, strangers to us even though we'd been in the area for almost a week, walked in and approached the Red Wolf."
He projected the images of the five on a white board Franklin set up prior to the meeting.
"You notice we have facial images of four of the men but, the well-dressed man, we don't. He seemed to be in charge. We think the other four are the mercenaries brought in as per Prewitt's report. As the five of them, accompanied by the Red Wolf and two others, walked into the office, we overheard the 'suit' tell the Red Wolf he was sending two of his men to our area this next weekend and wanted two of the Red Wolf's pack members to go with them."
"Stephen and I think," Flynn added, "they will drive up here, giving us at least two days before they leave to arrive, if they drive all night. Driving would draw less attention and allow them to bring in items they couldn't if they flew."
"We," Jessie interjected, "were able to identify one of the four. He is Warren Floyd, a rejected applicant for a position with Campbell and Associates several years ago. He also made an unsuccessful attempt to have a sexual liaison with me. He was, shall we say, discouraged by Jase and Tyler. We don't believe he'll be on the initial team to scout us out since he'd be taking the risk of recognition by the three of us. There's no doubt, however, he'll be involved in the assault."
"I think," Jase said with conviction, "he'll want revenge on Jessie and perhaps all three of us for our intervention when he went after Jessie."
"If the Red Wolf sends two of his people, he'll send the two who went into the office with the others," Chase added. "Those two are," flipping two pictures up on the white board, "Mauton, his Beta," pointing at one man, "and Tregre, his Enforcer. We've added these to the file folder you can download onto your laptops or cellphones."
Jessie explained the group, once they arrive, would try to identify who the players on this end would be, where the most vulnerable and the strongest places are in the territory claimed by the Averill Creek Pack and probably the Kabetogama Pack as well. The most vulnerable was Eric and Evan's house according to them.
"And," interrupted David, wanting to head off the suggestion Jessie's place might be the safest, "the most impregnable would be The Lodge. Wouldn't you agree Franklin?"
Franklin was taken aback somewhat by David's question, but quickly recovered, understanding David's reasoning. He didn't want to reveal the existence of the underground bunker and escape route built into the structure and could again be put to good use until a more appropriate time.
"David, with the way your Grandfather built this citadel in order to protect himself from rival thugs and from law enforcement agencies, and the additional electronic security I've added, I'd agree. It's probably safer than any place, other than Campbell and Associates, in the area. It could withstand a massive attack by any group of Lycans."
His comments quickly left Jessie, Jase, and Tyler's place as a secondary site and Ted's rental as not even in consideration. He was human and they intended to keep his participation at a very low profile.
Eric and Evan listened carefully, taking notes, but offering nothing to the discussion.
"They'll not only want to come up one time," Chase warned. "If I know the Red Wolf he'll send at least one more group up to look us over, in order to finalize his plans. There has to be a way we can find out when this next group would appear."
"Oh, but there is!" giggled Prewitt, disengaging himself from Dusty's stiff appendage. "Can't we Dusty?"
"How?" Henri asked, not quite certain of what he heard.
"Well, there's Pixies, Brownies, Nymphs, and Fairies, to name a couple," smiled Prewitt knowingly. "Just leave it us to us. We may need to be gone for a few days, with the Prince's permission, of course."
A pause in the conversation gave Eric the opportunity to offer his opinion. "You know," he said perceptively, "if you want to catch a mouse, you use a bit of cheese. If you want to catch a rat, you offer a bigger piece of cheese. If you want to catch a wolf, you offer an innocent lamb. Evan and I have a plan. Want to hear it?"
Eric, with Evan interjecting as needed, spent the next hour and a half carefully, meticulously detailing their proposed plan. He presented it to the group with the same care and manner he'd used many times over the years in presenting his client's case or story to the jury. His presentation was compelling, made sense, and workable. The group agreed with him and began to formulate how they'd implement it.
"Franklin," Eric asked, "it'd be handy to know who the mastermind behind this plot is. Are we any closer to discovering who this might be, this well-dressed stranger?"
"Actually, closer than you think," Franklin answered. "We got a lucky break! This sort of operation, this upcoming attack, takes money- a great deal of it. Several months ago, actually about three, one of our security IT people noticed an anomaly show up on one of our main servers. It wasn't much, just sort of a blip. Once he decided in wasn't some sort of computer glitch or hiccup, a team set about trying to find out if we'd been hacked. We had been and the hack had been going on for several months."
"It took some time, but they identified the hacker. A young man, brilliant by the way, who'd been deep into computers since he was in middle school. We sent a team to interview him. At first he thought our team was after him for a sever he'd hacked where a great deal of money was moved to an offshore bank sometime back and now some large sums were being withdrawn. He was relieved when it had nothing to do with that. Campbell and Associates made a deal with him to leave us alone in exchange for future employment with Campbell and the provision of a college education. It'd be of great benefit to us to have him on board in the future. The young man figured it'd be better than going to jail or something worse."
"At the time, I paid little attention to this detail in the written report from the team. I happened to remember it a week ago, re-read the report, and decided this young man could help us. I contacted him, he gave me a tentative identification of the suspect and will join our team soon. In fact, he'll be flying into International Falls tomorrow. He's damned good, sixteen years old, brilliant, and best of all, a Lycanthrope."
Chase aske, "What's his name?"
"Oh my god!" gasped Stephen. "He's my cousin!"
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