Pursuit of Happiness 07byKemMyst©
Emmett feels the intense fear as Lyssa calls to him. He also gets a brief flash of several males.
He, Erich, and Roland stand abruptly as the send hits, knocking over their chairs.
"Where are they?"
"I don't know. Said they were going out for a run to talk about girly stuff."
"I saw males."
Emmett sends out a broad call. [All able bodied males. To the front hall. Now!]
"Emmett, someone's got Jo! We've gotta go!"
"Where, Roland? Give us three minutes to plan."
"Why did Mom have to go into heat today?"
The males all gather in the front hall. Murmuring and speculation begin.
"Quiet!" Everyone immediately shuts up. "We may be under attack."
"I said 'Quiet!' Two of our females have encountered several males. We believe they've been taken. Erich, get the young and the pregnant females to the bunker. Set four to guard, then come find us."
Erich moves off, down the stairs, to the nursery with Paul, Gordon, and David following him while Jeremy goes upstairs to get a pregnant Cassie.
"Samuel, I want another four guarding the house, running wide perimeter. Samuel nods, three other wolves rise to follow him.
"Who saw the images my mate sent? Does anyone know where they were?"
A quiet voice speaks up. "I do. They're off to the northeast."
It was Thomas.
"Yes, Beta. I know that meadow."
"Roland. Inform your father, the pack outside the den, and the other Alphas. Then follow."
Emmett snarls at him. "DO AS I SAY!"
"Alright. Samuel, go. Roland, you, too. All others, with me. Thomas, lead the way."
Thomas takes a deep breath and shoots out the front door, followed quickly by the other males. As he passes Wade, Emmett says [Healer, stay here.]
A stocky brown wolf is closely followed by a large grey wolf and several others.
Although frantic to find Lyssa and Joanna, several thoughts rush through his mind, including a question. [Have you been following my mate, Thomas?]
There is low menace in the question and Thomas stumbles slightly. Regaining his footing, he rushes onward. [No. After my punishment, I would go there to think, to be away for a while.]
Emmett worries. They had heard nothing since Lyssa's initial scream. That meant she was either incapacitated or dead. And what about Joanna?
The rain came heavier.
He feared what they would find when they reached the meadow. [How much farther?]
Joanna knew they were in Ross range, and moving more quickly than a wolf could run for more than a short time.
She briefly considered trying to get away but they'd just run her down and, since he'd already threatened it, she had no doubt they'd kill Lyssa.
She'd tried calling for help a couple of times but the wolf behind her simply chuckled the first time then growled at her the second. They were out of range of anyone but their captors, at least for her.
It was obvious Michael wanted her, for some reason. The Wyeth and Ross packs had always been on good terms. Was he trying to start a pack war? What had he said? Something he should have gotten a long time ago?
The quads rolled out of the fields and onto a dirt lane. Good. They were going to get her away after all. No one was chasing them. No, he was certain they were, but they'd never get close enough now to stop them. Besides, they were on Ross range and that would stop the pursuit. Since they were headed beyond it, the chances of being found were slim.
Wonderful. It was all working out well. The rain was drying up now but they were well away.
He only had to wait four more days. Then he could mate her, and claim her.
Almost there. Just a little more time. He could stand to wait that long.
They finally arrived at the meadow just as the sunlight began peeking out of the clouds. The sun made bright diamond brilliance of the droplets on the white flowers which blanketed the area.
It would have been lovely, but for the heaviness in his heart.
[Stop!] Thomas and the others skid to a halt. [Fan out. Slow walk across the field. If you find where they were sitting, where they went, or...] a hitch in his voice [any other trace, sing out.]
Emmett sits as the others begin a slow walk across the field. He concentrated even though he knew there was almost no chance to contact either of them. [Jo? ... Joanna, answer me.] He sat, and listened, his heart hammering in his chest. Nothing. [Lyssa? Sweetheart, talk to me.] Still nothing. He knew she would call if she could. He resists the urge to curl into a ball and give in to despair.
Alex calls out, [Here.] then Thomas [This way.]
Emmett bolts over. No bodies, thank Selene. They were probably both still alive. No sign of blood. [How many?]
[I make it four.]
[OK, wolves, hold.]
There are imprints from where they had been sitting, prints from four males in wolf man form. [Erich?]
[Do you know where we are?]
[Trail's easy enough to follow. Where'd they go?]
[Ross range, looks like. Four males, it seems. We're holding for you.]
A lean, dark brown wolf with two white socks on his forelegs streaks into the meadow. He slows, walks around the assembled wolves, stops at the retreat trail.
[Five leaving. Four large, one small. One deeper, carrying something.] He tracks back to the capture area. [Surprised. Joanna shifted, struggled, no contest. Lyssa grabbed, then on the ground. Someone came over, one print deeper, standing on one leg?] A pause. [They were both grabbed, Lyssa was knocked out, the leader threatened to break her neck or crush her skull so Joanna would come quietly.] He heads off on the retreat trail, with the others following, but shortly skids to a stop.
[What are you doing? Follow.]
[We're on Ross range. We need permission.]
[I don't care! They have my mate and the Alpha daughter!] A breath, two. [ Calvin will allow it. Follow.]
Erich whines and paces slightly. At Emmett's growl, he takes off again.
He comes across the ATV tracks. [Quads. We'll never catch them.]
[The trail is fresh. We follow.] He thinks a moment. [Justin. Jamie. Return to the den. Get a car and the Jeep and find us on the other side of the Ross range. Go!]
The twins, dark and not yet filled out, turn as one and run for the den. While they were two more males, they were young and wouldn't be much good in a fight.
After driving down another dirt lane, the quads come to a stop.
Two Dodge pickups sit nearby. "Jason. With me. Gerry, Alan, put her in the other truck."
He dismounts and shifts to human form. "Joanna, come."
She sits, stubbornly refusing him. The wolf man behind her picks her up and sets her on her feet. "Now."
She glances back at Lyssa, limp, completely helpless, and sighs. She could only push him so far.
Ignoring his hand, she climbs into the back of the truck. Michael gets in beside her.
As Jason gets in the driver's seat, Michael runs his fingers down Joanna's face.
She pulls away, getting as far away from him as she can. He barks a laugh. "You'll learn to appreciate me, my dear. In five days, you'll have no choice."
Joanna's breath catches and she freezes. The situation strikes her with instant clarity. He was going to force her to mate with him. If they didn't get away before her birthday, Michael Ross would rape her, and claim her as his mate.
It was rare for a mating to happen before maturation and was only allowed if both sets of parents and the Alpha agreed to it.
However, consensual mating would happen any time after a wolf achieved adulthood. Females were considered strong enough to cause considerable damage to any male pursuing unwanted advances. But they weren't. Not really.
Oh, Joanna could hold her own against many of the women in the pack, but she'd never sparred against a male. Her mother was a fierce fighter in her own right, and could take half the males in the pack. Even Lyssa had been sparring with Emmett, Erich, and Alex.
She wouldn't be able to resist Michael.
If he wanted her badly enough, he'd beat her senseless and then mate her.
For adult females, the appearance of a male's bite implied consent.
She'd never do it willingly. They had to get away, somehow. And she couldn't leave Lyssa to be killed. What was she going to do?
The tracks of the quads are easy to follow in the woods and fields.
Erich leads, followed by Emmett and the other males.
He slows when they approach the dirt lane.
Everyone stops as he checks the sign. Making his decision, he takes off again.
[They're not trying to hide their track.]
[Probably figured we wouldn't follow them in.]
[We shouldn't be here.]
[I don't want to hear another word about it. Any other pack would do the same.]
[I'm not sure Randall would agree.]
[For his daughter?]
[If they were yours, Erich, what would stop you?]
Erich continues on, following the ATV tracks on the muddy lane.
Roland tries to get through to his parents.
His mother's cycle has a strong hold on her and, while she may have heard that her daughter had been taken, the pull to mate, at this point, was stronger.
Randall had his hands full with Ariel and briefly considers having her sedated so he could deal with the situation. He slows his thrusts and she voices her displeasure. [I need a couple minutes, El.]
[The pups and Cassie are in the bunker, under guard. We've got a running perimeter around the den. The outside members have been informed. I was going to call the other Alphas.]
[Is there any other sign that we are under attack?]
[Beyond that, no, sir. Emmett is chasing the kidnappers.]
[Alright, tell the other Alphas to tighten their perimeters and keep watch on their females. Let me know if the situation changes. And have Wade bring me a filled syringe.]
Ariel bares her teeth and growls just before he deepens his thrusts.
Randall watches her breasts bounce in time as her claws dig into his forearms and she begins a light rumble in her chest.
Joanna had a vague idea of where they were. She had, of course, never been on the Ross range. But, her senses told her which way home was.
They had taken a couple of turns, on paved roads, and were now pulling into the driveway of a modest house.
The trucks pull into the garage and stop. The door comes down and the men exit the vehicles.
Michael indicates Lyssa. "Get her downstairs and chained."
The two men, Gerry and Alan, grab Lyssa and, none too gently, haul her into the house.
Since she's still sitting in the back of the truck, Michael grabs Joanna and drags her out. "HELLPP!"
For that outburst, he backhands her again. Shocked and frightened, she stops.
"Quiet, or I will have you gagged until I can get your vocal cords cut. I rather fancy you keeping your tongue." He leers at her and licks his lips.
"Come with me. We've made up a nice room for you here until I can take you home."
He takes her shoulder and, squeezing it painfully, guides her into the house. Jason follows, blocking her escape.
Michael pushes Joanna into the basement, where the others have already chained and collared Lyssa.
"Alright. I have told you what needs to be done. Hold her here." He points at Joanna. "She is not to be touched."
"Any time the other starts to wake," he holds up a couple of syringes, "give her another dose. Jason is in charge when I'm not here."
He turns and strides up to Joanna. "I've left you some things to entertain yourself. I have duties to attend to but, before I go...," he grabs her and crushes her lips with his.
As he releases her, he says, "A down payment for later. Mate."
She spits blood at him, wipes her mouth with the back of her hand. "I'll never be your mate."
He smiles. "I do so look forward to our mating."
She glares at him. "Bite me."
He chuckles now. "Oh, I will, darling."
He turns on a heel and leaves with only one word to the three males. "Guard."
Roland catches Justin and Jamie in the garage.
"Where are they?"
The answer comes out in stereo, with both twins answering at once.
"Erich is leading them into the Ross range." Roland sucks in a breath. "Emmett sent us back to get vehicles and wants us to catch up with them on the other side."
"Alright, I'm going with you."
Roland takes the wheel of the car as Justin and Jamie follow in the Jeep. He drives quickly, though mindful of his speed. He had no wish to be stopped by the police.
He leads, taking public roads on the fastest route to the opposite side of Ross.
They find the abandoned quads. Unfortunately, someone had sprayed them with vinegar and bleach. The scents were obliterated.
Erich tries a couple of spots, gets a noseful, and sneezes.
Emmett lingers, his nose and eyes burning, looking for any trace of his mate.
One of the quads had a rope on it, so he examines that.
The others stand back.
[Two vehicles, looks like trucks. Five sets of prints. One small.] A pause, as he watches Emmett handle the rope. [Em, we'll never catch them.]
Emmett looks at him and Erich sees anger and fear in his eyes. [Keep going. Don't stop until we find them.]
Erich breathes in, and out, then puts his nose down and follows the track.
Emmett looks at the rope. They'd tied something down so it wouldn't fall off. He continues to examine it as the others take off down the lane.
In one of the twists, he finds it. A few red-brown hairs.
Lyssa's fur. They had brought her this far. They were still on the trail of those who had taken his mate.
[I'm coming, Erich. I found some of Lyssa's fur in the rope.]
Erich refrains from asking Emmett if he was sure it was Lyssa's and continues to follow the tire tracks.
[Jamie. Justin. Where are you?]
The reply is rather faint. [Roland's leading.]
[Just got on 134, Em.]
[Don't get off the pavement.]
Joanna goes over to Lyssa after Michael leaves.
She's lying on the floor, which is covered in green indoor/outdoor carpet. A metal collar rings her neck, and the chain connected to it is bolted into the concrete of the floor.
Joanna touches her friend. "Lyssa? Lyssa, are you alright?" [Lyssa?]
The three men chuckle. One of them says, "Aw. Is your widdle friend not talking to you?"
Joanna jumps up and snarls, claws out. She takes two steps toward them and sees a flicker of emotion cross Gerry and Alan's eyes. "Bastards!"
Jason's voice, low, stops her. "He said not to touch you but we'll defend ourselves. And we will hurt her."
Joanna's chest heaves as she crouches down again beside Lyssa. Over the pounding of her own heart she hears Lyssa's heartbeat, sees the rise and fall of her chest. She was alive. But, as long as she was out, she couldn't get a call to Emmett.
She looks around. If this basement was to be her prison, she should find out what it held.
The entire troupe of wolves fade into the hedgerow as a car comes down the lane.
After a few minutes, Erich sticks his nose out and the others follow along in the ditch. [Can you still track them?]
[Yeah, Emmett. There's enough here to follow.]
They approach a more highly traveled, paved road. The vehicle tracks indicate a turn.
[That's it, Em. We can't follow them on pavement.]
Emmett growls. [Roland, we're at the dirt road off of Moreland.]
[Coming. About 3 minutes.]
The wolves sit, obscured, while Emmett seethes. They couldn't track on pavement and the trail was growing colder by the minute.
Someone had taken Lyssa and Joanna. And now there was no longer a trail to follow.
[Lyssa? Lyssa, answer me. ... Joanna?] Nothing.
His mate and the Alpha's daughter were gone.
He resisted the urge to howl his loss to the sky.
Roland rolled up a couple of minutes later.
[The rest of you, back to the den. Roland and I are going to look around.]
[I'm coming, too, Emmett.]
Emmett sighs. [Alright, Erich. Alex, please inform the Alpha of our progress.]
The males all scramble for sweatpants and climb into the jeep.
Erich slides into the passenger side of the car. Emmett growls, but says nothing, climbing in the back. [It'll be easier for me to see something, up here.]
[I know.] Emmett understands but is not happy.
Roland drives, rather slowly, while they all look for signs.
There were new tracks in a couple of the driveways but the treads were wrong. Erich gets out a couple of times to check a dirt lane and a long driveway. No good.
[They could have gone anywhere, Erich.]
[I know, Rolly. Give us a little more time, see if Emmett catches up.]
A few minutes later they both hear Emmett's breathing deepen and turn at the snarl and the sound of things breaking. He's destroyed the inside of the door. "They're gone."
"OK. So, we go back to the den and plan a search after we check on things."
"They could have taken them anywhere, anywhere." A pause. Lyssa. Joanna. He closes his eyes, scrubs his hands over his face. "Luna. We've lost them."
Roland turns the car around and speeds back to the den.
The Alpha pair stand in the garage when they return. Randall is pacing. Ariel is leaning against one of the posts, trembling rather violently.
As the three of them exit the car, Randall barks. "Erich. Report."
Erich stands stiffly. "Four wolves, apparently male, surprised Joanna and Lyssa in a meadow to the northeast. Joanna struggled initially and then went with them. Lyssa was knocked out and I believe one of the males threatened to kill her."
"We tracked them into Ross range, where they had quads waiting."
"We tracked the quads to a wide spot along a dirt lane where two vehicles were waiting, probably trucks."
"We tracked the vehicles until we hit pavement."
"The rain washed it away."
"Even on the ATVs?"
"Sprayed down with bleach and vinegar."
"Emmett found some of Lyssa's fur caught in a rope they used to tie her to one of the quads."
Emmett grinds his teeth. "Yes, sir."
"In other words, we don't know who, why, or, more importantly, where?" His voice gains volume with every word.
Randall stands, clenching his fists, looking at the three of them.
Ariel's voice sounds small, and is higher pitched than normal. "Randall? Our baby." She has her arms wrapped around herself.
Randall takes a deep breath. "El, you should lie down. Roland, take your mother to our bedroom."
"I want to be here," she replies.
Randall looks at his son. "Roland. Please."
Roland turns to his mother. "C'mon, Mom. Let's see if we can get you settled." [Stephanie?]
[To the Alphas' room.]
"Emmett, Erich. With me." Randall strides for the command center.
An image showing the Ross range and the surrounding area was pulled up on a large screen.
"Alright. Show me where."
Erich goes to the screen. "They were here. Tracks showed four males, intermediate form."
"And how did you determine their location so quickly?"
"Thomas recognized the meadow in Lyssa's send."
Thomas drops the box he was holding, and shoots upright. [Yes, Alpha.]
[Do you know anything about my daughter's disappearance?]
[No, sir. I only recognized the field.]
There is a pause while Randall considers. [Thank you.]
Thomas begins picking up the gauze that had spilled out of the box.
Randall looks at Erich. "Continue."
"They crossed in to Ross range here." Erich indicates a point at the boundary. "Just inside, they had left four ATVs. We followed through here, down this lane, then this one. They had two vehicles here. We followed to Moreland where they made a left hand turn."
"Both vehicles in the same direction?"
Roland walks in. "It's gonna be difficult to keep Mom relaxed and quiet. Stephanie's watching her."
Randall closes his eyes. "Get everyone out of the bunker. There is no attack. We may have to put her there."