Out of Darkness Ch. 05bylilgirlsix©
Thank you all for your continued interest in the Baxter and Bertrand/Kardos Packs. I hope you keep following their adventures. Don't forget to vote and comment.
And thank you to my Knight, Archangel_M. If you need any help polishing your armor, it's the least I can do in exchange for your wonderful editing.
Island of Sardinia - 1052 A.D.
Erobos stood on the hill overlooking the panthers' camp. He observed Leona with her father as they sat near the fire. The smile widened on his face as he beheld his future mate. They would rule this whole island if he had his way. He walked through the tall grass, his sight never leaving his love.
Leander had sat and listened to his distraught daughter as she poured out her heart to him. He prayed he would be able to give her some peace. "Leona, you and Erobos have been friends since you were cubs. He does not understand what love is. He is infatuated. He will understand soon enough when he finds his own mate. I am sure it is nothing."
He had been horrified to hear what had transpired between his daughter and her werewolf friend. He had been away on a hunt and had just returned hours before, greeted by his sobbing child.
"But Father, I hurt him! I did not mean it, but he would not let me go. My panther felt she was in danger and took over. I should have kept her in control. Now he will hate me, and she does not wish to see him again. What will I do?" Tears fell down her cheeks as she and her panther continued their week-long internal argument. He is not to be trusted!
She fell forward into her father's arms, sobbing uncontrollably. How could her panther hate the one friend she had? He is no friend of ours. You must forget him. My mind will not be changed.
"Hush, my child. I am sure he will forgive you. And he will realize his mistake soon." Leander stroked his daughter's hair and looked up in time to see the figure walking towards them. "There, see? Erobos has come to see you, and he does not look angry at all."
Leona was so glad her father had returned. She needed his strength in order to face Erobos after what her panther had done. She sat back and wiped her eyes, trying to force a smile as Erobos approached.
Leander stood to greet their guest. But he didn't see the cub he'd remembered. Erobos had changed much in the short time since their last meeting. He had a feeling of foreboding that his panther shared. They both were on their guard. "Erobos, it is good to see you. How is your father?"
"Hello, Leander. Unfortunately, my father challenged the wrong wolf and lost. I am the new Alpha." Erobos stood straight, with a slight smile on his face. "And as the new Alpha, I require a mate. I ask that Leona accept my earlier request." He looked expectantly at her.
She was shocked. He had killed his own father? This was not the friend she knew and loved. "No, Erobos, I told you, I have dreamt of my true mate. He waits for me." Leona had gotten to her feet and began to slowly back away. "What is wrong with you, Erobos? You do not look like yourself. Your skin is pale, your eyes sunken. What has happened to you?" She continued to slowly back away from her friend.
Her father stepped between them. "Erobos, Leona can be nothing to you but your friend. She had a dream of her mate. For the panthers this is as good as a betrothal. You must forget this silly idea of taking her as your mate. I am sure your true mate is out there waiting for you. You should continue to look for her. Your mate is not here!" Leander felt his panther close and warred with him about how to deal with this arrogant pup. His panther favored striking him down now.
Erobos glared at the Alpha. How dare he dismiss him that way! "I will give you one week to reconsider, Leander. Leona will be my mate or your pack will suffer the consequences!" He moved his gaze to Leona. "You will be mine, Leona. Have no doubts; you will belong to me!"
"No! I will never be yours, Erobos. Never!" Leona turned and ran crying across the camp.
Leander moved in front of Erobos, stopping his attempt to follow her. "Go home now, Alpha! You are no longer welcome here. If I see you here again, I shall kill you myself!" His icy blue eyes stared into the dark eyes across from him. No, this was not the cub he remembered. He had changed. He was stronger, much stronger.
Erobos narrowed his eyes. The next time they saw each other it would be in battle. Leona would come to him or see her family die. "We will see each other again, Alpha, when your daughter and I mate!" Erobos turned on his heel and shifted, his wolf quickly covering the ground between the camp and the hillside.
Leander stood, open-mouthed, in awe of the enormous wolf that ran from his camp. What has he become?
Sardinia, Italy - present day
Erobos sat at his desk, staring at the wall. All of his plans so far had fallen apart. First Gary had died before giving him the formula, then Drago had taken his captive out from under his very nose. He had been grooming him to be his aide. What would make him go against his training? There was only one thing! He never should have brought the female here. He had thought the cage would work. He should have had her held in a building with only females.
He heard the tell-tale clicks of heels on the wooden floor. He didn't bother to look up. "What is it, Seraphina?" He had neither time nor patience for her games today.
Seraphina read his mood and noted it. She had kept her head this long by being aware of his every emotion. She'd seen too many die over the last five hundred years. She wasn't stupid. "The agents are in place near the Baxter Pack compound in America. They'll report back as needed and wait for your orders. Do you think Drago will take the female there?" She doubted it. If Drago was smart, he'd get as far away from any werewolves as possible.
"I think Silvano will contact his friend, Xylon, a member of the American Council. And right now, Xylon is with the Baxter Pack. So if Silvano or Drago shows up there, I wish to know immediately. Is that understood?" His dark eyes held Seraphina's for a moment before she looked away.
"Yes, Sir, I understand completely." Seraphina got out of the room as fast as she could. She stopped outside the room long enough to regain her composure. Normally, she did her best to avoid seeing into his eyes. It was too terrifying. She could swear she could see his wolf looking back at her. She took a deep breath, smoothed her hair, straightened a wrinkle in her skirt, and went about her business.
Erobos heard the sound of her heels on the wooden floor as she walked away. If she had waited one more moment, it would have been her last.
The Council members, both American and European, sat impatiently in the dining hall, waiting for the return of Xylon with his friend Silvano. Carr had sent the plane to pick them up at an undisclosed location. It had been decided that the only ones who would know the location would be Carr, Xylon, and the pilot.
There could be spies anywhere, and kidnapping didn't seem beyond something Erobos would do. Carr and Guillame knew all the members of their packs were loyal, but a wolf could be made to do almost anything if its mate or cubs were in danger. They wouldn't take any chances.
Carr suddenly looked up, alert. "The plane just touched down. They'll be on their way soon." He walked out of the room to find his mate.
She smiled when she felt his arms close around her waist. His hands rested lightly on her barely noticeable baby bump. She giggled when he kissed her neck. "I thought you wanted me to have things ready for our latest guests? Now how am I going to do that if you insist on playing?" Lee turned around in his arms and looked up into his playful green eyes.
"Sorry, I just couldn't resist. Ready for the new arrivals?" He already knew she was.
"Our guests? Or the cubs? Yes, we're all set for our guests. We made up the room next to Xylon's." She laughed as Carr took her hand and brought it his lips for a soft kiss. Guillame's European manners had rubbed off on her mate. She liked it.
"And the cubs?"
"I'll be ready for them in about seven months." I hope.
Carr laughed. "You will be a wonderful mother, love. And now you probably won't see me for a few hours." He leaned forward and kissed her quickly on the forehead, trying to ignore the sweet scent of her, cedar and lilac. He dragged himself away, amazed he was ever able to get any work done when she was around. He smiled to himself as he went back to the dining hall.
Finally, the three Black SUVs with tinted windows arrived at the compound. But instead of stopping at the front of the building, they stopped at the back door, enabling the occupants of the middle SUV to only have to walk a few feet before entering the building. The male held his mate protectively as they moved swiftly through the door, surrounded by Betas.
Carr met Brett at the back door. "Did you see them outside the first perimeter?"
"Yeah, thanks for the heads up. We came in from the east instead. Didn't look like they had that covered. I only saw two. Are there more?" Brett was speaking quietly. The less people who knew they had spies watching the compound, the better.
"There are at least six. We've got our own eyes on them. If they come inside the perimeter, we'll take them out. I'd rather hold off if we can, though. They can't find out much from there, and if we take 'em out too soon, they'll just be replaced, and more careful." Carr was glad he'd decided to continue the enhanced security they'd begun when Gary was on the loose. Without it, they never would have noticed they were being watched.
"Brett, be sure that if they go anywhere outside the building, they have at least four guards each. I want them hidden from sight." Carr started to walk away and stopped, looking back over his shoulder. "Take the cars back out later and come in the main entrance so they see you coming back. But have the windows open so they can see there isn't anyone else inside. Let's keep them guessing."
"Got it!" Brett went about coordinating the Betas for guard duty. It was at times like these he was glad his pack was made up of trained police officers. It made security details that much easier.
Carr closed the door to his office softly. Their guests were jumpy enough as it was. He didn't want to add to their nervousness. He stood at the door for a moment as the couple spoke with Xylon. The male seemed straightforward enough. He didn't act like someone trying to hide anything. He was just scared. Carr could see that his mate was downright petrified. Her eyes were red-rimmed from crying, and she was constantly touching her mate for reassurance.
Xylon heard Carr enter the room and moved so the new arrivals could see him. "Silvano, Carla, this is Carr Baxter, the Alpha of this pack. He's promised to keep you safe while you're here."
Surprisingly, it was the female, Carla, who spoke first. "I don't care about me - just keep my son safe, please!" She collapsed, sobbing, into her mate's arms.
Silvano held her tightly to him, stroking her hair. "It will be alright, Carla. We must trust them. Xylon trusts them; that should be enough." He tilted her face up to look at him, smiled lovingly at her, and wiped her tears. "We will try to right what we've done wrong and hope it is enough to save our son. That's all we can do, cara mia."
Carla finally managed a smile and hugged her mate tightly. She had calmed somewhat by the time there was a soft knock on the door, and she watched a blond female enter the room and stand next to the Alpha. She pulled herself back from her mate and tried to stem her tears. It wouldn't do to be hysterical when meeting the Alpha Bitch.
"Carla, this is my mate, Lee. She'll get you settled in your room."
Lee moved closer but stopped several feet away, not wanting to crowd her. "Hello, Carla. I know this is very difficult time for you right now. We'll try to help as much as we can. Why don't you come with me? Your baggage is in your room. I'll help you get settled." Lee waited with a smile and opened the door. She gently took Carla's arm and whispered in her ear, "If anyone can help your son, the Council can. They're very powerful, and they have plenty of their own reasons for helping you. Trust them." She put an arm around Carla's shoulder and led her up the stairs to her room.
"Silvano, are you ready?" Xylon saw his friend relax when his mate's mind calmed. Lee would keep her busy and that would help to keep Silvano's mind on the task at hand.
"Yes, thank you, Xylon." He smiled and turned to Carr. "And thank you, Alpha, for allowing us to come here."
Carr gave him a nod and opened the door, following them out of the office and into the dining hall.
The Betas held the door open for the Alpha, Xylon, and their guest, and closed it after them, taking their places on either side of the door. They were not to be disturbed.
Silvano stood near Xylon, nervous, not sure what to expect. Xylon had said to trust them, that they would help. He knew that as far as werewolf laws were concerned, he had broken many. By all rights, they could execute him right now. Not that he would blame them. But what of his mate? Would they kill her too? She had no choice in what he'd done.
And what about Drago? He had been an innocent victim of Silvano's crimes. He needed to be protected from Erobos. How could he make them understand? He barely heard Xylon introducing him to the Council Members and the other Alpha in the room. He stared at the floor in misery.
Xylon's quiet voice broke through his despair. "Silvano, tell them what you told me during the flight." He waited and watched his old friend, seeing his pain. He laid a hand on Silvano's shoulder. "Tell them."
Silvano looked at him, closed his eyes, and nodded slowly. He looked out over the expectant faces in front of him and took a deep breath. "My mate and I originally were members of a pack outside of Rome. It was very small and when our Alpha died, Erobos took control of the pack, and we joined with his on Sardinia. I had completed several degrees in the sciences and had traveled the world, working on various DNA research projects. My new Alpha said he had found me a position in America, and he wanted me to take it. He said it would be valuable for the pack in the future."
He looked to Xylon, who smiled and gave him a nod, encouraging him to continue. Silvano looked at each were in turn and saw only their attention, no emotions showing on their faces. He pursed his lips, forcing himself to go on. "I took the job. It was fulfilling, new information to be learned about the werewolf genome and our genetic relationship to humans and wolves. I started working with a brilliant scientist. His name was Gary." He could see the strained looks on the faces of some of those surrounding him and paused. Xylon gave him a sign to go on.
"There had been an archeological dig that found an immense frozen wolf. It didn't match any known species. Gary and I were analyzing the DNA of the new species and that's when we came to the same conclusion, it was a Dire Wolf. It was enormous, much bigger than any wolf or werewolf. And that was when we found out how close the DNA was to that of our own species. Much closer to a werewolf than to Canis lupus."
Silvano had to stop for a moment. "I'm sorry, I - I - I've tried for so long to forget this all. And now it is back to haunt me, haunt my family." Xylon handed him a glass of water, which he gratefully accepted and took a long, soothing drink. "Thank you." He carefully set down the glass, his hand lingering for a moment.
I'm with you, caro. You can do this. You must, for Drago.
He closed his eyes and sighed to himself. His mate's loving support would help him get through this. Thank you, cara mia.
"The Alpha had told me that I should keep him apprised of my research, so I told him what we'd found. He immediately was very interested. He called me several times a week, wanting to know everything. He seemed to know quite a bit about Dire Wolves and told me he had encountered some in his youth. After I had worked with Gary for about a year, my mate wanted to return home. She was despondent because she had been unable to bear cubs. We had been trying for three hundred years, to no avail."
Silvano could feel his mate's sorrow as she followed his story. I am sorry, cara mia. I have to tell them everything.
I understand, Silvano. Don't worry about me.
Silvano cleared his throat and took another sip of water. Several of his audience noticed the slight tremor of his hands. He was nervous.
"Erobos wanted me to stay. I tried to explain why Carla needed to return home. She needed to be with her family. She wanted to be surrounded with their cubs. I begged him to allow us to leave. He said he would think of a compromise. I thought he would bring Carla's family to America. But he didn't."
Silvano's nervousness increased, and he took yet another sip of water. Rhys and Alistair exchanged glances. What was going on? What had he been hiding that scared him so to reveal it?
"The Alpha appeared one day at the home where we were living near the company. He had a little boy with him. The cub was maybe five or six years old at the time; this was in 1982. He was confused and scared. He said he couldn't feel his parents anymore. He was just about hysterical. Carla was drawn to him immediately. As soon as she saw him she almost ran to his side, comforting him as he cried in her arms. Erobos told us he was an orphan, that his parents had been killed the day before. He said he was the son of a couple who had left the pack years earlier and come to America. He had just decided to visit with them before coming to us, and, fortunately for the cub, was there to rescue him."
Rhys was silent for a moment, but had to speak up. He stood slowly, not wanting to startle their guest. He spoke quietly, but firmly. "Silvano, did anyone inform the Council of this? I don't recall any reports of orphaned cubs in that time frame." Rhys locked eyes with the anxious male, who shook his head. Rhys sighed loudly. No report made. "Even if they weren't members of a pack, it should have been reported to the Council so there could be a search for family to take the cub. You already knew this, didn't you, Silvano?"
Silvano's breathing quickened and his complexion turned ashen. "Yes. I knew. But I said nothing. We accepted him into our care, our home, and our hearts. He bonded almost immediately with Carla and shortly afterwards, with me. I can't tell you how he changed our lives. I no longer had a reason to leave the company, so we stayed, and I continued to work with Gary."
Carr was shocked at not only the breach of protocol, but the insensitivity to the cub's family. He might have grandparents, even great grandparents who would have wanted to raise their own blood kin. How could anyone rob them of that?
He was about to lash out at Silvano for his crime, but the tears in the were's eyes stopped him. He'd known it was wrong, but couldn't bring himself to hurt his mate. Carr had that figured out pretty quickly. And from the looks on the Council members' faces, they did too. What would any of them have done in the same situation?
Xylon could see that the atmosphere of the room had changed. He urged him to keep talking. "Go on, Silvano. Tell them the rest."
He dropped his head, looking at the floor. How could he face them after he admitted to his crimes? His only hope was that they would protect his son, even if they killed him. "It was the Alpha's idea to try to find a way to turn on the latent Dire Wolf gene. I was hesitant and after some time of soul-searching, knowing the things he had told me about Dire Wolves, and learning more about their physiology, I had become convinced it could be extremely dangerous to do so." He saw the nods from some of the Council members.