I'd gotten used to hiding my feelings about zoos, so I knew I didn't appear particularly unhappy, but Steve Ross was a perceptive man. Being both my teacher and my friend he could tell that I wasn't really enthused by this visit to the zoo.
“I gather you're not particularly happy about zoos?” he asked. as we strolled along behind Barry and Teddy my little brothers and Jenna his adopted daughter. Carrie Ross was shepherding along Ricky Anders and David Simpson, Jenna’s best friends, who were obviously enjoying themselves immensely.
I grinned,telling him, “I'm going to sound like an old man. I recognize the necessity, but I regret that the necessity exists. I've never liked zoos not even when I was Barry's age. I hate to see animals in captivity, even when it's as nice as it is here.” I stopped and leaned against the railing above the jaguar area, clasping my hands. *Too much wolf in me I guess.*
I looked down at the four jaguars and when I realized that one of them had an aura I tensed with shock. Steve noticed it and asked, “What's wrong?”
I said, “The smallest of those jaguars is were!” I reached out with my mind. Elder Sealed, but no indication why. That puzzled me. An Elder always gives a reason, at least a werewolf Elder would have done, I asked Steve, *Would you join me Steve? I have a puzzle to solve and I'd like a little company.*
*What type of puzzle?* asked Steve.
I told him, *As I said the smallest jaguar is were and she's sealed into that form, but the Elder has left no reason why. Well I want to know why and I'd like a witness.*
*Fine with me.* said Steve.
I reached for her mind and I was doubly shocked when I found that her mind-speech was sealed as well. No ethical Elder as far as I knew, would do such a thing. That cut her off completely from the world, not even able to communicate with her own kind. My anger began to build.
I said furiously, *Well, I don't know why her communication is sealed, but it's not normally a legitimate punishment, so if I can't communicate directly I guess I'll have to go around the seal.*
With my ability as a Healer, I could go deeper than any Elder and I approached the were's mind from the opposite direction, so to speak. I asked the jaguar, *Who are you and why have you been sealed in that form?*
*I am Alameda Montoya, who, who are you, I have talked to no one in five years?* she answered. I saw the jaguar looking around.
I told her, *I am Robby Hansen, Alameda. I am a werewolf Elder. I would like to know who sealed you into that form and cut off your ability to communicate.*
She explained, *It was Dr. Ricardo Estevez. He brought me from Mexico. I thought it was to be the housekeeper of an esteemed Elder. Instead, he demanded that I share his bed. When I refused, he said that he would tell the community that I was stealing from them. When I still refused, things were found in my room that indicated that I was a thief. When I tried to say that I had not done it, I could not speak. My silence was taken as a sign of guilt and they left me to him. He sealed me in this form and removed my ability to speak. He said no one would be looking for me since he would tell them that he sent me back to Mexico.* Alameda almost sobbed.
It was sometimes possible to lie using mind-speech, but not when you were this deep. With a great deal of reluctance, I blurred her memory of this incident. Steve saw what I did, *Why did you do that?*
I told him, my voice calm, but I knew my face showed anger. *I will do what I can for her, but this is not a werewolf matter. In case I can do nothing, I don't want to get her hopes up. She showed unhappiness at the end, but that was because she was betrayed. While she wishes to be human again, she is not unhappy as she is.”
There were four Doctors with the name of Ricardo Estevez, in the city phone book and about thirty other Ricardo's so I called my city contact, Edward Franco. I said to him, “Hello, Edward.”
I told him soberly, “I am not acting as an Elder in this instance, Edward. You should know that from the beginning. I ran into something curious when I was at the zoo, earlier today.” I recapped what I had learned. “As a friend I am asking you if you know of the Doctor that I am seeking.”
He said, “Yes, I do Robby, we keep track of all weres in the city and surrounding area, that we know about.”
“Could you give me directions on how to get there. I'll ask Ishmael to give me a ride.” I asked him.
“I would be honored to pick you up, Robby.” Edward said firmly.
“But this isn't a werewolf matter, Edward.” I protested.
“I would still be honored. As a friend.” Edward said just as firmly the second time.
well, Edward, it'll be easier with someone who knows the city. Thank
you.” I said with all my heart.
Edward pulled into an empty parking space. He said, “This is the area, in which he lives and works, Robby, you said you don't actually want to see him?”
“No, I want to see his people, Edward, to see what they think about him.” I told him.
“Do you speak Spanish, Robby?” he asked me.
I told him, “It doesn't appear to matter, Edward. When I was speaking to the were at the zoo, we weren't speaking either Spanish or English, but something that goes much deeper. Sort of a primal language. A Star Trek Universal Translator so to speak. That's the level I'll be working on. I'll insert Estevez's image into their mind and see what they think about him.”
Looking around, I noticed a man come out of a restaurant for a minute. I pointed to him, saying, “That man with the apron, that just came out of the Mexican restaurant, is were, Edward. In fact, if I were looking for a possible Elder, from his aura, he would be a prime candidate. The others will instinctively know his status so it's likely that it's frequented by other weres. I raided my piggy bank before I left this morning, how about I treat you to a Mexican lunch. I think I can just about afford that.”
Edward, asked seriously, “Why not go to the Council, they might approve of what you're doing?”
I shook my head, saying, with equal seriousness, “And they might disapprove. It is very unusual, for a were Elder, of one type to interfere in the lives of another type of were. If they told me to stop, in this case, my conscience would require that I ignore them. They could dry up what little resources that I do have, by just spreading the word.”
We got out of the car and headed for the restaurant. As I had surmised a least a quarter of the patrons were jaguar weres. Since I knew that they were scarce, to have so many as customers, this had to be a higly respected person in their community. When I ordered I felt a little green about the food, I was about to consume. I like Mexican food but it doesn't like me. I knew that I would suffer tonight.
But it was the ideal spot to do a little spying. It took a little more time to work down to the level that I had used at the zoo, but once there I only had to insert the image of the doctor into their minds, to find out what they thought of him. Which it seemed, wasn't much. They neither respected nor liked the man, but they were forced to trust him, since jaguar Elders were so rare. Unlike werewolves, jaguar weres had developed a method of bypassing the automatic change that occurred to their children. To suddenly have a jaguar kitten appear in a village which was primarily made up of humans, could be very dangerous and only an Elder had the ability to perform that bypass.
They weren't like werewolves, who could just blend in with the dog population and disappear. There were of course no domestic cats of the size of even a jaguar kitten, so their very nature could put them in danger.
I could see, Edward, looking at me with concern, “Are you all right? You don't look so hot.”
I said flippantly though with underlying gravity, “Nothing that time won't take care of, Edward. Mexican food doesn't agree with me, but right now it's more the thought of what's going to happen tonight, than the actual food.” Looking at the bill, I winced, “And the price doesn't help. Oh, well, there goes my allowance for the next few weeks. Maybe I'll get some money for Christmas.” I gave the waitress the amount on the bill plus a fifteen percent tip.
up, I said to Edward, “Let's go for a little walk. So far, I haven't
found anyone who actually likes the doctor. They don't even respect
him. But they're sorta stuck. Jaguar weres are much rarer than werewolves
and they don't have many Elders. I can't do anything about Estevez,
without providing another Elder and I don't know if that's possible.
Though actually I've seen a couple of prospects, especially the restaurant
When we were back in the car heading toward Benson, I said, “Well I saw several other likely prospects to replace the Elder, but I don't know how their Elders are chosen.” I said, feeling frustration. I hadn't realized how easy my Elder's status had made things for me. “I'll have to talk to my grandfather before I do anything else.”
“Then you'll be going to Mexico, won't you?” Edward said, matter of factly. “I'll provide a passport and visa. I can call in a few favors.” As a Elder I've got so I can read voices almost as well as I could read were minds and I could tell that Edward was determined to help and I couldn't refuse without offending him.
I sighed and said, hesitantly, “Thank you, Edward. I hate to impose. If there was any other way... I'll need a contact in Mexico City, who knows something about how to contact jaguar weres, as well.”
He told me, “I don't think that will be much of a problem. Any of my contacts there, should be suitable, that is one of the primary countries in which they exist after all.”
“Thank you, Edward. I really appreciate it.” I said with all my heart.
I was taking to my grandfather, who was an Elder, but more importantly right now, he was a Werewolf Historian. I had explained to him what had occurred. I asked, “What do you know about how their Elders are chosen, granddad?”
My granddad told me, “I know they only require three Elders to chose a new Elder, Robby, but they are much rarer, I imagine it would be impossible to get three Elders together so far from Mexico.”
I explained my thinking, “I was wondering if their laws are the same as ours, granddad. We require five Elders to choose and then initiate a new Elder, but I've been thinking of that law from every angle. As far as I can tell, it requires five Elders, but there is nothing that states they all have to be werewolf Elders.”
There was silence on the other end of the line, as he thought through what I had just said. It was a long pause before he continued, “You know, Robby, you're right. I can think of two occasions when the Council enacted laws to make sure that the Elders were all werewolves and both times the laws were rescinded in very short order. We've always suspected that the Council answers to a higher authority. That served to confirm to many Historians that they do. What exactly that authority might be we don't know, but we do know it's benevolent.”
I paused for a moment, thing, before I said, “I know Sasquatch law much better than I do jaguar law and their law as regards to Elders is phrased quite a bit like ours. In fact if I didn't know better, I would say that both were written by the same hand. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if jaguar law was very much llke ours.”
“How do you intend to get to Mexico, Robby?” grandad asked.
I asked, indignantly, “You're the second person who asked me that, granddad, am I that transparent!”
He said simply. “Yes, Robby, you are. Simply by your actions over the last year, you have shown your true nature and it is one of honor. Anybody who knows you, will know exactly what you intend to do.”
I sighed, saying, “I guess I am pretty predictable. Edward is going to call in a few favors and arrange for a passport and a visa. I intend to call Sam Reynolds and explain the situation. If he turns me down I'll have to beg from the family.”
He reassured me, “Don't worry, Robby, Sam's a true friend, he'll just ask you how much. But I'll wish you good luck, anyway. Bye, for now Robby.”
granddad.” I said.
I dialed Sam Reynolds, number and received the usual gruff answer, “Reynolds.”
Before I said anything else, Sam said with his abrupt manner, “Edward called me, Robby. He figured you'd be calling. Just in case the Council does put a stop order out, I've transferred nine thousand nine hundred dollars directly to your bank account and opened an account in which I've placed one hundred thousand dollars, with instructions to your stepfather to transfer funds to your account if you need it. The Lear's at your disposal and it's on its way.”
“Thanks, Sam!” I said, sincerely.
“Listen, kid, I don't like or admire a lot
of people, but you're one of them. I'm always available. Just call.”
The line went dead then. Sam didn't like good-byes and he avoided them
when he could, but I felt a warm feeling coursing through me.
I was getting pretty practiced in telling this story, this time to Steve Ross, who already knew part of it. I said solemnly, “So if their law about how Elders are chosen is similar to ours and yours, I would like to have one of your Elders be the third. I think the jaguar weres wouldn't feel as much like werewolves were trying to take over their lives. I can't call on unlimited funds like I do normally, but Sam Reynolds has provided me outright with a little under ten thousand dollars and a reserve of one hundred thousand dollars, so for all practical purposes I do. I know Sam wouldn't want me to skimp on what I feel I need. You're the best one to get in touch with a Sasquatch Elder for me and I'll provide the funds for a round trip ticket and a room at the Heritage Motel.”
“Do you intend to be one of the Elders, Robby?” Steve asked.
I shook his head, telling him, “No, I'm too personally concerned. I think I'll ask Maisie Maillete. It'll be good experience for her, especially working with two other were types.”
Steve nodded, saying, “I'll get in touch with my uncle, Robby. He's an Elder. You didn't meet him when the rest of the family came to meet Jenna, because he couldn't make it at that time, but I think he'll be glad of a chance to see her. So you won't have to pay for a motel, he can stay here, with us. You really don't like spending Sam's money, do you?” he asked.
saying, “No, I feel uneasy about it for some reason, which is silly
I guess. I know Sam won't begrudge the money and he can certainly afford
it. I just...” I fell silent, I couldn't really explain what I was
feeling, but I did feel uneasy. I just shrugged my shoulders.
Steve looked at Robby, who was trying to describe his feelings. He was an Elder but he was still a kid and few kids had to wrestle with the things that an Elder dealt with on a regular basis. From what Steve had seen and heard he had always handed it with honor, compassion and sometimes when it was required, with ruthlessness.
Probably part of his unease was that people he liked and admired, such as Edward Franco, Sam Reynolds and now Steve, were falling so easily in with his plans and he wasn't sure why. He didn't realize they were looking at his character, not his age and they considered him an honorable and an admirable person. It was something that would affect him for years, until he finally grew into acceptance and since he was so young that wouldn't be for many years.
I was driving the junior Councilor around, while he was in our area. He was supposed to be some kind of high-powered Elder. Personally, I thought he was a jumped up little twerp, though at about two twenty he wasn't really small, he just gave that impression, at least to me.
We pulled into a driveway in Benson and I could see a bunch of kids playing football in the backyard. From the way they were hitting and tackling they were obviously were. No normal kid could take the type of punishment they were dealing out.
A car pulled into the driveway and I could feel that they were werewolves, so I took a quick look at their minds and that revealed that one of them was an Elder. “Timeout,” I yelled and we began to walk toward the new arrivals.
The driver when he got out of the driver's seat to open the rear door, was huge, he must have weighed almost as much as Steve and was several inches taller When the Elder got out of the rear seat he was simply dwarfed by his driver, though he probably weighed over two hundred pounds.
I nodded my head to him, “Elder, how may I help you?”
Without returning my title, as politeness dictated, he just launched into an order. “I have a report from my contact in the city that you were in the jaguar were section! You never seem to do anything of this sort unless you are involved in some way! If you are interfering, you are involved in something that is none of our business! I am here to tell you to stop, right now!”
I nodded politely, asking. “You have written notification from the Council, do you?” He hesitated, obviously he didn't. “Then you are here as an Elder and as equals I will ignore your discourtesy and just ask you to leave.”
I started to turn away from him, ready to get back to our game and he grabbed my arm. I just looked down at it and then back into his face, “You have something further to discuss, Elder?” I asked.
His face was stiff and he had begun to relax his grip when Barry came to my defense. Yelling, “You leave my brother alone!” he kicked him hard on the shin. While it probably hurt, Barry was wearing sneakers, so it couldn't have hurt that much. I saw rage rise instantly in his face and he slapped Barry.
Everything went still and I felt my anger suddenly blossom full-blown. Now I've experienced rage before but I'd never believed the phase 'he was so angry he saw red'. Well I learned differently that day, because everything suddenly had a red tinge and as Barry went to the ground, I readied a mind-blow that would have devastated this man.
It was absolutely incredible, an Elder and a Council member, hitting a werewolf child. Only a werewolf's parents or guardian could discipline a child, unless the child had gone beyond the bounds of Werewolf Law and come under an Elder's jurisdiction.
I started forward and then I stopped, because I could feel something rising. Incredible power had been awakened and as I saw the rage rise in the boy he had been talking to and whose arm he had grabbed, I realized that it was overflowing from his mind. But I felt that enormous power hesitate for a second and then it struck and the Councilor went down as if shot. I realized that with the hesitation, the power had moderated enormously. He was out for over fifty-one hours, but if the boy had struck with his full power, we would have been burying him. No loss to my thought.
The actual manifestation of the old cliché caught at me in wonder and surprise and gave my brain a chance to regain control. I cut the original power way down and when I struck at him with my mind, he went down, but he would get back up. Eventually.
The boy spoke very softly, but there was no mistaking the menace in his voice. “Get him out of here. He's probably too hardheaded to believe it, but he came within an ace of never getting up again.” He laughed brittlely, “An old cliche saved his life. I never believed that things could actually go red with rage, but it did and the wonder of that caught at me long enough for my brain to take back control, so I only hit him with a bit of the blow that I was going to do, instinctively.”
“Robby Hansen,” said the driver, a statement and not a question.
“Yes,” I answered, absently, going over to Barry, who was just getting up. There was a few tears, but they were tears of anger, not pain. I picked him up, telling him, “Let's go put some ice on that.”
He was looking down at the man who had hit him and there was satisfaction on his little face. He turned to look at me with his big brown eyes, “Huh!”
“A Popsicle or two, should do it don't you think.” I said. Barry had somewhat of a one-track mind, I had switched it to Popsicle's rather than the man who had hit him and he smiled, his eyes lighting up, “Okay!”
I looked at the driver and could feel his anger at what his passenger had done. “You are welcome back, anytime. Don't bring him back.”
Edward had told me about Robby Hansen, but I'd been somewhat skeptical, about some of the things he had said. That a little kid could do what he had mentioned to me. I wasn't doubtful anymore, that was one powerful and dangerous little boy, if he wanted to be. I looked in the rear view mirror at my passenger, with satisfaction. With the seat belt holding him up, he just looked like he was taking a nap.
Once Edward had gotten my passport and visa and arranged for a contact in Mexico City, I called the hotel in the city where Jeannie Reynolds and the other pilot were staying. I arranged for an early morning flight.
When I boarded the Lear Jet, Jeannie Reynolds, who was Sam Reynolds cousin and chief pilot, greeted me with a hug. I just had the carryall that I had gotten in San Francisco and I didn't take Blue. While he would have been comforting, I didn't want to take him out of the country and we'd probably be going to some rough areas.
I slept through most of the trip, Jeannie waking me just before we landed. Once we did I changed into a pair of brief blue shorts that I had brought with me and a white T shirt and sandals.
When I left the air-conditioned Lear, I wished I could have gotten away with even less clothing. It was hot. But the contact that Edward had arranged for me startled me and took my mind off the heat, at least for a little while.
Professor Pablo Reyes
I had met Edward Franco as a young man when he was attending college and he came to one of the guest lectures that I was giving. He had come up to me and revealed that he knew I was a werewolf. In the short time that I had left in the United States at that time we became friends, since he knew what I was, I could be completely honest around him and that felt good. He was a brilliant student and I was surprised when he left school to take over from his father as a pawnbroker. It wasn't until many years later that I learned that he became the primary werewolf contact for the Southeastern United States.
I do not know what I was expecting, even though Edward had told me the Elder that was coming was only a little boy. Robby Hansen had a confidence about him that was unusual in anyone, let alone a child. He always acted like he was where he was supposed to be, no matter where that somewhere was, as I would find out when he was in the jungle. I brushed his mind and he smiled, obviously he felt it, yet he did not try to shield it, as others I had come across did, he allowed me access, to see what he was, not trying to hide the good, or the bad and I admit I was impressed. The good far outweighed the bad and he had a sense of honor about him that I had only encountered a few times in my life.
Professor Pablo Reyes was in his mid-sixties and an Elder and as I was to find out, he was a well-respected archaeologist. While not wealthy in the sense that Sam Reynolds was, he was well-off and he invited the three of us into his home, for the duration of our stay. Not that he and I stayed long, he sensed my urgency, brought on by the plight of Alameda trapped in a zoo. As I had told Steve, she was not unhappy were she was, but it was not the place she was supposed to be and that weighed on my mind.
We stayed overnight and the Professor and I left first thing in the morning. It was a long helicopter ride and then an even longer ride in a jeep. Edward had informed him of my sensitivity to Mexican food and we brought along a good supply of food that I could eat without any trouble.
our destination at about mid-afternoon and it was a small farming community
carved out of the jungle and as I found out very quickly entirely made
up of jaguar weres. As Benson was the center of North American werewolves,
this village was the center of jaguar weres in Mexico.
We didn't waste time and we met with the Jaguar Council over a meal. When I took out the food that the Professor had brought for me, I could tell they did not like it. I was refusing their hospitality. I knew without the Professor telling me it could be detrimental to what I was trying to do. I decided that now was the best time to show them what would happen if I ate their food. Closing my eyes, I went deep down to the level that I would need, gathering everyone in the room into my communication, including the Professor.
I showed myself enjoying the food at the Mexican restaurant the day that Edward and I had done our investigation, which was only four days ago. I showed myself enjoying the dinner and then I showed them what had happened that night. I had spent most of the night in the bathroom, throwing up what I had eaten. It had not been a pleasant experience. I told them, *I am sorry I can not join in your hospitality. When I eat your food that is what happens to me.*
I could feel the tension relax around me, a bit of humor coming into their minds. The man I took to be the head of the Council said, *Yet you came, knowing that it might be the only type of food you might have been able to get?*
*It was necessary,* I said, simply. I showed them everything that I had found, from the discovery of Alameda Montoya, his investigation of Dr. Estevez. I told them, *Obviously, this is not the province of a werewolf Elder, so I came here to bring it to your attention, as soon as I could.*
The Council looked at me intently, the the chief Councilor asking, *What would you have us do? Obviously, the Doctor is abusing his authority, but we are a small community. We do not have a lot of Elders, sometimes we must let them get away with things we do not like. We can have him free the girl, we can send an Elder with the authority to do that, but we can not send three Elders to find a replacement for him, so he will remain in a position of authority.*.
I said hesitantly, *I am hoping that your laws are similar to Werewolf Law and Sasquatch Law. As an Elder, I am intimately familiar with our laws on choosing a new Elder. With us, it requires five Elders to confirm and then initiate an Elder, though before nineteen hundred and ten it only required three. With the Sasquatch, they like you require three Elders. Neither Werewolf Law nor Sasquatch Law requires that the Elders must be either all werewolf or all Sasquatch Elders.*
I saw the young Elder sitting behind the Council give a shark's grin and he nodded at me with approval. It didn't take long. Unlike some forums were Councilors were not chosen for their timidity and indecisiveness. The Chief Councilor actually grinned at me and his eyes held a wicked humor. *We have gone over our laws and in fact, in our case, they appear to almost favor such an approach. I will send my nephew, Julio, with full written authority to free the girl and replace the Doctor as you suggest.* Nodding toward the man who had grinned at me. *He went to college at a place called Stanford, so he is well accustomed to your society.*
Julio Arau had an up to date passport and visa for the US and we left first thing the next morning, the trip happening in reverse order. First the long jeep ride and then the helicopter ride to Mexico City, arriving about mid-afternoon.
Jeannie Reynolds and Don Leggett, the other pilot, were lazing around the pool at the professor's house and were somewhat startled that the issue had been settled so soon. Both were werewolves, but they had never had the opportunity to observe the Werewolf Council in action, let alone other weres. They were were more used to the way business and government made their slow ponderous decisions.
I no longer felt the urgency that had been almost driving me for the last few days. I was almost content, as if I had been on a long trip and the end was in sight. The next morning would be time enough to head back to the States. The Professor could provide Julio with a swimsuit, but he told me he never had guests my age so could not provide me with one.
him that I had brought a very good suit. It didn't seem to bother any
of the adults when I showed up naked and joined them. It certainly didn't
The Professor also had a up to date passport and visa for the US and when he indicated that he would like to see the end of this business, I had no objection in inviting him. There would just be Julio and I as passengers in the Lear, so we had plenty of room. He said that he would stay with Edward as he usually did when he visited our area.
Edward was obviously excited to see him and they embraced as old comrades.
I hadn't expected the Professor, but I was delighted to see him and when introduced to Julio Arau, I was deeply impressed. I smiled at Robby, “Your guest of the other day finally woke up. I believe he was unconscious for fifty-one hours.”
I could see that Pablo and Julio were at a loss. I told them what my colleague and friend, Arthur Masters, had witnessed at Robby's house, when he had been chauffeuring the Werewolf Council's junior member about. Robby obviously hadn't mentioned it and they were somewhat... impressed. As in fact was I. I had been representing the Werewolf Council for almost twenty-five years and turf battles between Elders weren't as uncommon as might be thought, more a matter of establishing a pecking order so to speak.
Most settled it amiably but werewolves were aggressive, territorial beings and the Council would discipline an Elder who initiated outright violence. Therefore most battles fought were mind battles and I had never heard of a werewolf Elder ever being hit so hard before and from what Arthur said, Robby had moderated his blow at the last moment.
I was a little embarrassed by what Edward said, though I could see that both the Professor and Julio were impressed. I realized embarrassed or not, that it was something that would help in the current venture.
I said a quick goodbye to Jeannie and Don who had cars at the airport and would be going back to their hotel, to wait until things were resolved and they could fly the Professor and Julio back to Mexico City. Also, if they were needed for anything else before that, they were available.
We went to Edward's first, to drop off the Professor and Julio, Edward having volunteered to accommodate the jaguar Elder, then we headed for Maisie Mailette's. Since she was a new Elder, it took a little persuasion before Maisie decided to accept. But as I told her no other Elder had been involved in this type of venture before, so the fact that she was a new Elder might even be a help.
As Mom once told me, somewhat reluctantly, I lie very well. Oh, I thought Maisie was ideal for this, but I didn't think it mattered much whether the Elder was new or had been around since the Ark.
Then home, where I called Mom and then had lunch and then I flaked out on the couch, for a few hours sleep, joined by Blue. Can you imagine, my little brothers woke me up by attacking my defenseless person. After a glorious ten minute wrestling match, I had Teddy pinned face down on the floor, sitting on his bottom and Barry defenseless before my tickling. After a few minutes, Barry, tears of laughter flowing down his cheeks, fled the scene and I was free to deal with Teddy.
After some vigorous tickling, Teddy surrendered, conditionally at any rate and I spied Barry sneaking up on me again, having recovered from his previous defeat. I thought longingly of a good hard football match. I could hear the usual after school gang, doing their homework on the screened in back porch.
I said, regretfully, “Timeout, guys, I haveta go see Steve and his guest. An Elder's work is never done.” and I rolled off Teddy and stared up at the ceiling, just long enough for Blue to take up residence on my chest. I stared into eyes which were as green as mine and told him, “Sorry about this, but I've got to go out, so your bed has to leave.”
*Since I have to get up anyway, I'll go with you.* Blue told me.
I nodded, saying, “All right, then, let's go.” He jumped off my chest and getting up I followed him to the back door, stopping for a moment at the fridge and opened it onto the porch.
Wil looked up at me, “I've been keeping notes for you and you'll have all that homework to do when this thing is settled.” he grinned, gloating.
I waited until he turned back to his homework and then I took the glass of water, ice water to be exact, that I had gotten out of the fridge and being careful to keep it away from his homework, poured it over the back of his head and back. With laughter coming from the rest of the group and giggles from Barry and Teddy, I said cheerfully, “I sorta thought that might be your attitude, so as you see, I came prepared.”
I took the towel that Jenna threw to me and dropped it on top of his head. Since my house has the largest backyard and an enormous back porch, we usually played there. The others all kept a couple of complete changes of clothing and several towels just in case rain, or a practical joke, required a change of clothes.
Cheerfully, I left, pushing open the screen door and Blue and I headed for the woods and the path that Jenna and Wil had worn between their houses and mine. I knew that once I got back to school, Wil would have his revenge. My Mom discourages squirt guns, since Barry and Teddy had inadvertently hosed down the minister and his wife.
I knew Wil's little brother had one of those enormous ones you see advertised on television and since Mom believes in revenge when it comes to practical jokes, I know she would make an exception for Wil, so one day when I least expected it, I would get a good hosing down.
When I got everyone together early in the afternoon I must say that it was a formidable group of people. Barney Ross, the Sasquatch Elder, was impressive to say the least. In his early fifties, probably, with pure white hair, he was a couple of inches taller than Steve, six eight and probably outweighed him by twenty pounds. Then there was Steve at six six and three hundred and twenty pounds. Julio at close to six five and two hundred and forty pounds and the Professor, about six three and two hundred and twenty pounds.
Only Edward among the men was anything close to what I would call normal size at five ten and one hundred and eighty pounds. Even Maisie Maillete at five feet seven inches, was nine inches taller than my four foot ten inches. It was a good thing I wasn't easily intimidated. I felt a little mournful though. All that height around and I knew that if I was lucky I might gain two or three inches over the next three or four years.
We had completed our planning for the nights activities, based on information that Edward had been gathering while I was in Mexico. Edward, Steve and I would kidnap Doctor Estevez from his home and take him to a warehouse that we had access to, for the duration.
as a jaguar Elder, would gather the community at the warehouse. We didn't
need all of them, but we needed the more prominent members. Maisie and
Barney Ross would wait at the warehouse to act as Elders when the time
came. Professor Reyes would wait at the warehouse with Maisie and Barney.
Maybe it wasn't surprising that the Doctor didn't have an alarm system in his home. Too damn arrogant. We put on gloves before we started and Edward said it was ridiculously easy to get in. Edward did a quick search of the upstairs and located the Doctor's private papers and his passport. The private papers he left, the passport he took and gave to me. Someone who looked a lot like the Doctor was going to use that passport and go to Mexico. We got word on the radio that we had brought with us, that Doctor Estevez left his office just a little after six. We waited in the dark for the Doctor to arrive. It took about an hour to get from his office to his house and he left the office at six. If you needed an appointment after that, you were out of luck, unless you happened to be rich and powerful.
We heard the Doctor's Lincoln pull into the driveway and a few minutes later, he opened the front door and turned on the light. He just had time to show surprise at seeing Edward and I sitting on his furniture, when I shot him with the tranquilizer gun.
I felt a little guilty. Oh, not about shooting him, but the gun was the only item that I had access to as an Elder that I was forced to use. This particular dart was loaded with an inhibitor, so it would keep him under for about two hours. Normally the drug lasted from eight to twelve hours for a werewolf in wolf form and twelve to eighteen hours in human form. However, with special drug inhibitors we could pretty well tailor make a dart that would act for any shorter length of time that we wanted.
Steve was in Sasquatch form and caught him as he started to fall and slung him over his shoulders in a fireman's carry. I didn't want any human DNA on the Doctor. If I'd built a house just so I could kidnap someone, I couldn't have designed a better one than the Doctor's house. Most of the driveway was hidden from the road by trees and it was on the top of a hill, so nobody could spy on it from above.
I flicked off the light and opened the door for Steve, not that he needed it. He could perfectly well carry the Doctor with one arm and I let him open the rear car door. I gave a wave to Edward as he headed for the hidden car that we had come in and Steve shoveled the Doctor into the rear seat and shut the door. I changed into wolf form and jumped into the front seat and across to the passenger seat as Steve got in and adjusted the seat as far back as it would go.
I thought it was so nice that the Doctor loved really dark tinted windows. The only way they'd be able to see our unusual driver was if they stopped the car and Steve would have time to change back if that occurred. He even had documents from the Doctor asking him to take care of the car while he was in Mexico.
I sat on my haunches, looking out the window and the cleaner's truck passed us when we were about a mile from the Doctor's house. They had been especially asked to do the cleaning tonight, before the house painter's started bright and early in the morning.
That should take care of any signs we had left in the house and the painters would track up the driveway enough so that any tracks we had left in the driveway should be covered up. The car that Edward had used to drive us there would be in the junkyard crusher very soon and that took care of the car. The Doctor had such a nice car but it too would end up in the crusher before the night was over. But I still felt guilty about the tranquilizer gun.
We were using the office in the warehouse and it had windows which looked out on the warehouse floor, which at the moment were all covered up. We had a hidden camera with wire video feed out to a couple of big screen televisions that had been set up in the warehouse proper. The more important members of the jaguar were community were watching.
The Doctor was sitting in a chair with his hands handcuffed in back of him and his elbows tied together. I'd once been tied up, but with my hands and feet in front of me, I had no problem changing. The way the Doctor was tied, he couldn't change without seriously injuring himself. I saw him move and then he came awake, the drug we used allows a person to become completely alert almost as soon as you woke.
He looked at Julio and recognized a fellow jaguar Elder, he didn't even look in my direction, lying almost hidden in a corner, Blue beside me. Julio began to question him in Spanish. Obviously, he was getting nowhere, so he began to use mind-speech. Since it was still only on the surface of the mind, it was still in Spanish. I realized from the way Julio was acting that the Doctor was one of those rare beings. Someone who could actually lie while using mind-speech.
I spoke to Julio, *It seems that the Doctor is better prepared than we thought. Well at the level that I use, it's too deep to lie. I'll tell you when I reach that level and begin broadcasting it to everyone in the next room.*
I closed my eyes to help concentrate and I delved into his mind, until I came to the primal level. I joined all of the weres in the warehouse together and then told Julio. *Now!*
Julio began his questioning over again, still in Spanish, but since it was being filtered through the front of the Doctor's mind to the primal level, I could understand it.
*What happened to the girl, Alameda Montoya?*
*I told you I sent her back to Mexico.* <Ha, try to find her. Little bitch. She refused to go to bed with me. Well I fixed her. I wonder how she's liked the zoo for the last five years.>
*You are in charge of the community funds, what have you done with them?* Julio asked.
*I told you the market took a downturn and I lost most of it.* <Yeah, I lost them. Into my Swiss bank account. You're welcome to try to find them.>
*What do you think about the people you serve?* continued Julio.
are fine upstanding people and I take great joy in serving them.* <The
idiots. To think I once enjoyed serving them. Well no longer. Now I
serve me, only me!>
Julio kept up the questioning for another five minutes, with me translating for the people in the warehouse. Finally, Julio said in English. “Thank you, Doctor. You have answered all of my questions to my complete satisfaction.” He looked over at me, “Coming, Robby, Blue?”
I joined him, giving a growl as I passed the Doctor and Blue hissed at him. I could see his astonishment as I passed him and then worry on his face. He realized that I was were, but not that I was an Elder, but my presence was not comforting.
When Julio closed the door behind him I changed back into human form and picked up Blue. One of the younger men asked, “How can we know that what you are broadcasting is the truth?” I saw one of the younger women, looking at him shyly but with obvious interest and I wondered if I could do a little matchmaking.
I told him, “Perhaps a little demonstration, would help. I'll ask you a question and you lie out loud and see if I can't show all here the truth.”
He nodded, not knowing how much I was going to embarrass him. All in a good cause of course. I asked, “Do you like any of the young women here, tonight?”
He answered indignantly, “Of course not!” <Of course. Juanita, she is beautiful, but she also has a brain one can respect. I wish I had the nerve to approach her father.>
He reddened and Juanita giggled as he got his thought returned to him, as well as everyone in the warehouse, except for the Doctor. Her father, the restaurant owner that I had picked out as the most likely Elder successor said, smiling a little slyly. “I have no objection to you courting my daughter, Eugenio, as long as she does not object.”
The redness was gone from his face as he and Juanita looked at each other, interest obvious on both sides. It might not end in marriage, but a little romance wouldn't hurt anyone.
Eugenio looked back at me, saying, “It appears that you show truth. But what do we do? He is our only Elder. We are aware that you brought an Elder from Mexico, but he cannot stay long.”
Really, I had expected these questions to go to Julio, he after all was their Elder, but it seems like I was stuck with it.
I was amused at the way Robby looked, like an animal caught in a trap and I knew exactly what he was thinking, 'Why me and not Julio?'. He didn't realize how much of himself he had shown when translating the Doctor's lies. I was a stranger, after what he had done, he was not.
Stuck with it, I had to answer, “When I was in Mexico I also talked to your Council. The laws of the three were types that we know of at the moment, all state that Elders must choose and initiate a new Elder, but not that they must all be of one were.”
“Of course one were must be of the were of the Elder being chosen, that is Julio.” He changed briefly into his jaguar form and he was as impressive as a cat as a human, as Blue said, *That's one cool cat.*
Barney Ross was next and changed into a Sasquatch. He was covered with a dense thicket of curly fur, which covered his whole body, but it was gray instead of the black that Steve and Carrie sported. It was a little easier than with them to tell that his face was more apelike. His gray eyes were enormous and he sported a crest of almost pure white fur, only a tinge of red in it, which stood straight up.
Maisie was next and in her way was as impressive as the others. Much smaller of course, she was a pure black, not a strand of white in her fur. It didn't follow that the color of the fur mimicked the color of the hair. It did with me, I had a reddish color fur and it did with Teddy, his fur was as blond as his hair. Barry's fur was a close color to mine, but his hair was very dark and I had seen black werewolves in wolf form with fur as light as Teddy's.
Julio stood up. He said, “I have written authority from our Council to chose and initiate a new Elder and then to punish the Doctor for his transgressions. We Elders have been examining your minds, since you first got to the warehouse and we think that Gerardo Cepeda,” he grinned, “Juanita's father,” and he got a laugh, despite the seriousness of our business, “is the best choice to replace the doctor.”
The ceremony was not much different from our own, but it was in Spanish. I learned later through Maisie that the other two were deep enough in Cepeda's mind that they could understand what was being said. After they opened up the channels in his mind, I examined Julio and Gerardo's minds and, aside from the personality, their abilities were identical, though of a different magnitude, Julio showing the years of experience.
I could feel the Doctor getting impatient, still confident that nothing could be proved, not that he was going anywhere. The chair was sturdy and it was bolted to the floor so he couldn't tip it over. The jaguar were community discussed the Doctor's punishment and the rest of us stayed out of it. We might have had feelings about it, but it really belonged to the others.
Eugenio spoke up, for a young man he seemed quite sensible and he exhibited signs that he could be an Elder as well in a few years. “Personally, from the way he treated Alameda, he should suffer the same punishment and he should be stripped of his powers as an Elder.”
I nodded, saying, “I agree about suffering the same punishment, but I don't know if he can be stripped of his abilities.”
Robby said, in his soft voice, but with complete confidence, “I can do it. I'm a Healer as well as an Elder and I can reach much deeper than an Elder can. I can close the channels that are opened when you initiate another Elder. In fact, if you were wondering if you need the doctor to help Alameda, you don't. I can remove the seal that the Doctor placed on Alameda, to stop her from changing or talking. I did not touch it when I found it, because I didn't know why it was placed, whether it was justified or not, though from her mind I was pretty sure it wasn't.”
I looked around the room and I could see that a consensus was forming, they agreed with Eugenio's suggestion and since we now knew that we could do it, I was inclined to agree with him.
I saw Robby talk to Edward before we went into the warehouse office and he got on his cell phone. Robby, the new Elder Gerardo Cepeda and I went into the office. Gerardo and I to witness the punishment and Robby to administer it.
Robby turned a chair around and sat looking at the Doctor from about four feet away, his arms along the chair top and his chin on his arms and Blue sat on his haunches just in front of the chair, tail curled around his feet. They were very cold green eyes, from both boy and cat. They weren't even directed at me and I felt a bit nervous.
Finally after about five minutes with the Doctor, showing obvious signs of agitation, Robby began to speak in a very soft voice, “Just in case you were wondering if your lies worked. They didn't.” And with his mind, he replayed the entire question period. The questions, the lies and the real answers.
Robby said gravely, “I don't know if any of your Elders will ever be able to do it, but I will show you how I do it.” He linked with us so we could see what he was doing and then reached into the Doctor's mind. Just having opened the channels in Gerardo's mind, I was very aware of them. I watched as he acted as a Healer and closed the Doctor's channels one by one and sealed them, with a power possibly no other Elder could equal. I found out later that if he had joined with Blue he could have brought even more power to bear.
He showed no evidence of pity and as I learned that day, he was far more ruthless than I, as he stripped from the Doctor something that was very precious. The Doctor did not break down and cry, though he was close, but he was totally defeated when Robby was finished with him.
Robby did one more thing before he left. “Doctor, eventually you will be freed, when does not concern me, but the money in your Swiss bank account,” and he gave a number and I saw the Doctor's teeth grinding. “will no longer be there. I have Edward arranging the transfer back to the community members, at this moment.”
I felt no pity for the man in the chair as
I left the office, followed by Blue, the first part of his punishment
completed. He had betrayed the people that he had sworn to serve and
protect and he had deserved what I had done and the remains of the punishment.
Now as an ordinary jaguar were again, he could be guarded by ordinary
weres. He would be kept under guard until his final disposition was
pulled up to the back gate of the zoo and the driver gave his papers
to the guard at the gate. The truck appeared to be from the usual outfit
that did this type of transfers for the zoo. The papers, signed by the
Director of the zoo, who was on holiday
the exchange of one male jaguar for one female jaguar. s
Everything seemed to check out. Zoo Security called the other zoo to see if they had the transfer on their records and according to the fax that they were sent it was. They weren't aware of the fact that their call was redirected, until the zoo Director returned from his holiday.
A brief investigation was launched but the truck couldn't be found. It had gone to the crushers the same day. The man driving the truck couldn't be found. He'd been wearing a disguise and it wasn't surprising that he had been wearing driving gloves and kept them on when they unloaded the male and then loaded the female jaguar.
clues the investigation just trailed off, after all they had lost a
small female jaguar, but they had gotten a much larger and more valuable
male in her place. After inquiries, it was found that no zoo had lost
a jaguar, the courts felt that the zoo should keep the male. The fact
that the male seemed not to be able to produce any offspring didn't
concern them that much. Wild animals often had trouble breeding away
from their natural habitats.
Twenty miles from the zoo, the truck that we were following pulled into a secluded picnic area and stopped, the driver got out and pulled the signs off of the side of the truck and threw them in the back. I got out of the car and approached the truck, thinking that Edward had a marvelous disguise. Getting into the back I made sure that Alameda was aware of who and what she was before I released her from the cage. Then we headed back toward the very large stretch limousine.
Putting my fingers in my mouth, I gave a piercing whistle and kids seemed to appear from everywhere. Barry and Wil were in the limo with Sam Reynolds, who wanted to be in on the end of this. I made sure that all of the lookouts were there, Teddy, Gary, Lyle and Jenna and then we piled into the car.
Even for a stretch limo it was somewhat crowded. There were seven kids, including me, two cats, one great big one, Alameda and one large domestic cat, Blue. Two adult humans, Sam and Jeannie who was driving, as I mentioned before she usually chauffeured his planes, but he wanted to keep this in the family.
The driver's compartment was legal in any jurisdiction because it only had lightly tinted windows, but you couldn't see into the passenger compartment at all. I watched Edward take off with the truck, headed for the crusher. “There goes some more of your money, Sam.”
“All in a good cause, Robby. All in a good cause.” Sam said and actually smiled, which I hadn't seen all that often. Blue and I got busy with Alameda and while it took time, it wasn't really difficult for the two of us. And suddenly there were seven kids and three adults and only one cat.
The Werewolf Council sat along one side of the table and most of the rest of us sat on the other side. Except for one man and one woman, who were seated on the same side of the table as the Council. I could tell they were weres and from their auras, the woman was Sasquatch, the man jaguar.
The chairman used his gavel to call the meeting to order. He said gravely, “Judging from written reports that I've been getting from the junior Councilor, he is under the delusion that this is a disciplinary hearing of some kind, dealing with the actions of Robby Hansen. Nothing can be further from the truth. In point of fact we are here to hand out some congratulations and to deal with the position of junior Councilor, which is up for review, the year's probationary period being almost up.”
He waved at the two people on their side of the table, saying, “Mr. Arau, who is the cousin of Julio Arau, who many of you have already met, is attending medical school in the US and is also the liaison from the jaguar Council. Ms. Anthony serves that same position for the Sasquatch Council. While these positions have existed for generations, this is the first time that they have been filled. Both Councils wish to thank the Werewolf Council for what occurred, from the Jaguar Council for the direct help werewolves gave to depose one corrupt Elder and put a good one in his place. From the Sasquatch Council, we received the thanks that we included them in possibly the most important event that has ever taken place between weres of different types.”
He put his hands in front of him steepling his fingers, as he continued, “We have accepted their thanks fully, while at the same time explaining that the Werewolf Council had absolutely nothing to do with what occurred. They say that we showed the wisdom of choosing the Elder who is responsible despite his tender years. That part of it we'll accept. We would willingly have helped, if we had the information that the junior Councilor appears to have had at his disposal. For some reason it seems he was having this Elder watched and when the Elder began to move he instructed him to stop instead of informing us of what was going on.”
The junior Councilor was wiping his sweating brow with a handkerchief, obviously the air conditioning wasn't cool enough for him. The Council head continued, “When the junior Councilor was chosen, he was the most outstanding Elder of his generation, but when Robby Hansen was chosen only a few months over eleven years old, it seems he fell into the trap of jealousy.”
He turned and looked coolly at the junior Councilor, saying, “When the incident of Estelle White and Pietro Balducci came to our attention, we were inclined to deal harshly with Mr. Balducci. The Councilor argued so vehemently on Mr. Balducci's behalf that we decided to go along with him. We were totally confident that if Mr. Balducci appeared in Benson, to kidnap his son, that Robby Hansen would be able to deal with him, quite handily, as indeed he did.”
“Since that time the Councilor has behaved more and more erratically and it has been decided unanimously among the rest of us that his presence is no longer required on our Council.”
The junior Councilor screamed, “No!!” and he went for the gun in the shoulder holster that he certainly shouldn't have been carrying. They didn't know who he planned to shoot, or whether it was to be random shootings, though they had a pretty good idea that Robby would be on the list. But his hand suddenly jerked to a stop with the gun half drawn and then it began to move again, slowly. From his wildly rolling eyes, it was obvious that he was no longer controlling his hand. They just had to look at Robby to see who was.
The gun moved slowly and steadily until the muzzle was in his mouth. No one made any move to stop Robby. Everyone there figured he would have been the first target. Robby said very softly, “Bang.” and then the gun was withdrawn from the man's mouth and he placed it on the table and moved his hand away from it.
Robby moved into the man's mind and everyone there saw him strip an Elder of his powers, Robby spoke, “Unlike Dr. Estevez, I don't think you are corrupt. I don't think you're insane but you're certainly unstable, so I'll remove the memory of those abilities that you had, so they won't torment you. As a Healer I will also block your ability to breed, so you will never have children. Instability of any kind is not needed among our gene pool. You will get up now and go out and sit and wait, in the waiting room.” The man pushed back his chair, got up almost mechanically and strode to the door and opening it, exited from the room.
Robby looked back at the Chairman, humor now in his large green eyes. He said, “I hope you don't want me for the Council.” He looked at the gun meaningfully.
The chairman laughed, “No. I don't doubt you could handle the job, even at your age, but you have enough on your plate. An Elder, a Healer with two or three patients a week and you seem to attract trouble like gamblers to a casino. We certainly would like to have you available for advice especially in the area which has advanced so much in the last week. But we can do that over the telephone.”
“Well,” said Robby, judiciously. “I was thinking of that. I certainly knew that it wasn't because of what I did. I got all the announcements, of bills paid, refunds made, for every expense that was incurred during this operation, through Edward, so I knew you approved. And the next time you send someone to summon me, you might want to make sure either he doesn't know anything about it, or it's not a werewolf. The guy who delivered the message could hardly keep his face straight and he was giggling so strongly in his mind that I could hear it without even trying. Since it was the same guy who chauffeured your former Councilor the day he hit my brother, I figured it must be about him.”
“I'm aware that the Council is not always made up completely of Elders. I know that at least three have to be Elders and it's been about twenty years since an ordinary werewolf was chosen. But the person I want to suggest is an Elder, just not for very long and she also was involved in this. I can't think of a better choice right now than Maisie Maillete.”
Did the Council pick Maisie? Of course they did, they're not stupid. And did Wil get his revenge. Oh boy, did he. It was on a Saturday, about a week and a half before Christmas. Of course, Wil doesn't play football with us. He says as a human he's not stupid enough or durable enough to play werewolf football.
So the ones who did were taking a rest, sitting on the back steps during one of our football matches, when Wil yelled from above. I realized that he must be on the roof of the porch. Did I look up. Of course I did, I'm a kid remember and sometimes I do dumb things and Wil dumped the water from the rain barrel, on the lot of us. Paul and my Mom must have helped him get it up there but I don't know how he managed to get the water that cold. Maybe some dry ice would've done it.