ONE | CAPTAIN STONE
“Captain! We still haven’t resolved the matter of Lockwood’s greenhouse obstructing my view!”
I sighed and rubbed my eyes; I had no idea how these people continuously had these “problems” that they couldn’t figure out themselves. They were adults and had been living amongst each other for years, but as the Captain of the Blue Moon pack’s northern location, it was my job to deal with this crap.
“Mr. Owens, we’ve discussed this already. Mr. Lockwood’s greenhouse is within an acceptable range concerning shape, size, color, and height. Its also sitting far enough back from the property line, established by Alpha Black, to not intrude on the neighbors. I will not force Mr. Lockwood to relocate or destroy the structure, he’s breaking no rules,” I calmly replied.
“But it’s hideous! It’s poorly made and an eyesore. What about property values, or the peace and tranquillity that come with living in a well-manicured village? Does the Alpha not care about that?”
“If he didn’t care, then he wouldn’t have spent millions of dollars on the new packhouse and cottages. Or the clubhouse and recreation center for the kids. This was money that came out of his own pocket, so think very carefully before you speak again. The lives of every wolf here have improved tenfold since Alpha Black took over, and to say anything otherwise is a blatant lie and will not be tolerated,” I firmly stated.
“My apologies, Captain. I didn’t mean to speak negatively about our Alpha, but he’s all the way in California. He cannot see what you and I see every day, I’m sure if he did, he would agree that the greenhouse should go,” Mr. Owens reasoned.
He was an old wolf, an original Canyon Woods member until their Alpha Thorne lost his f*****g mind, then lost his title, his pack, and ultimately, his life. Now, Mr. Owens had to become acclimated to a new way of life, and it was proving to be difficult and frustrating; for everyone, especially me.
“The Alpha is very busy; he cannot make a three-hour trip just because you think your neighbors sense of taste is less than desirable. How about this? Why don’t we FaceTime the Gamma and see what he thinks? As I’ve already said, the greenhouse is within regulation, but if you’d like a high ranking member to judge the aesthetics of the structure, I can make that happen right now,” I suggested.
The Gamma was my older brother Matt, and I’d been relying on him a lot to help me manage in this new role. I’d never been in a position of power before, and it was because of Matt’s strong faith in me and my abilities that I got the job in the first place. And, as third in command, a word from him was usually enough to silence the masses and avoid having to bother our Alpha Xander with trivial issues.
Mr. Owens smiled and quickly nodded his head. “Yes, please, Captain. That is an excellent suggestion, thank you.”
I pulled out my phone and made the call. When it was answered, the screen was filled with the face of my oldest niece Genesis. She had a beautiful smile, that was identical to my brothers, on her precious caramel-colored face, humongous teal eyes, and a mass of golden-brown curls cascading over her shoulders. Every time I saw Matt’s kids, I felt mixed emotions. They were adorable, and always smiling, and I was happy that my big brother had his life so put together. Then I would feel sad for myself because I hadn’t yet achieved even a fraction of what he had. It wasn’t jealousy; I celebrated every milestone in my brother's lives like they were my own, but I was envious.
“Hi Uncle Wio!” she yelled into the phone. Apparently, I looked extra funny to her, because she then began to giggle uncontrollably.
“Hi Princess, where is your daddy?” I asked.
“She’s a beautiful child,” I heard Mr. Owens say behind me.
“She is. And she has the brains to match. She’ll do incredible things for our pack when her time comes,” I proudly replied.
“Gigi, sweetie, you can’t play with daddy’s phone, I get important calls on here. Go get your phone; it’s on my desk,” Matt said as his face replaced that of his daughter’s on the screen. I heard her squeal, then giggle in the background, and I assumed that she was content with the deal that was in place.
“Sorry about that, she’s learned how FaceTime works, and none of our phones are safe. What’s up?” he asked.
“Gamma, I have a pack member here with me who would like your opinion on his neighbor's greenhouse,” I began. As officially as I could, I told him all the details of the dispute, as well as the fact that Mr. Lockwood had broken no rules.
“But it’s ugly!” Mr. Owens yelled over my shoulder, making me frown, and Matt slightly smile.
“Mr. Owens feels that it ruins the aesthetics of the village, and would appreciate the opinion of a ranked member of the pack,” I finished.
“Seriously?” Matt asked with a sigh.
“Yes, Gamma, we are very serious,” I replied.
I loved to call Matt by his title whenever we had these calls. Mainly because the pack members felt it was more official if I asked the input of our Gamma rather than my big brother, but it also annoyed the hell out of him. So it was a win-win for me.
Just look at the f*****g thing and tell the old man that we’re not making Lockwood tear it down. He’s had me out here for fifteen god damned minutes, and I need to pee! I secretly mindlinked Matt.
You’ve got to stop doing this. The pack members are supposed to respect your word as law, but they won’t if you need me to back you up every time you have an issue that irritates you.
Yeah, yeah, I get it. Can you just do this for me, please?
Fine. But you’re babysitting this weekend.
Matt cut off the mindlink before I could respond and addressed Mr. Owens.
“Good Afternoon, Mr. Owens. Would you explain to me what you find so unacceptable about the greenhouse, and Captain Stone, please flip the camera so I can see the structure as it’s being explained to me,” Matt requested.
Mr. Owen proudly stepped forward and began pointing out every square foot of the greenhouse, taking issue with the entire thing. “And to make matters worse, Gamma, he’s painted the trim gray, but his cottage is white and blue. I mean, who even does that?”
“I see what you mean, sir, but our Alpha established rules for the pack to follow, and per your Captain, your neighbor abided by those rules. We will not ask that the structure be removed, but if at any point it begins to fall apart, rust, corrode, or become a danger, then we can revisit the issue,” Matt stated.
“Yes, Gamma, that is reasonable and acceptable. Thank you for your time. And your daughter is absolutely stunning, our future Luna will be a real head-turner,” Mr. Owens stated, making me roll my eyes. This old fart was laying it on thick for Matt but would give me s**t without a second thought.
Matt noticed the annoyance on my face and smiled brightly. “Thank you, Mr. Owens, she lights up our world each and every day. And Captain Stone, it will be all five of them; we will see you Friday afternoon.” Matt then abruptly hung up the phone, leaving me speechless. All five? I’d only had two at a time before, and he was throwing all five of the kids at me? I just hoped we all survived.
“He’s such a fine young man; if he weren’t already married, I’d set him up with my granddaughter. Are you still without your mate, Captain?” Mr. Owens asked.
That was enough, and I’d lost my last bit of patience. I still had to pee, and now I was the consolation prize for Owens’ granddaughter since Matt was already married with kids? Nope, not today.
“I have to go now, Mr. Owens, but I will see you tonight at the pack meeting in the clubhouse. 7:30 sharp,” I said as I quickly walked towards my cottage, and the sweet relief it held inside. I needed a drink, a good solid workout, then another drink, a huge one.
“Alright, everyone, if we could save questions for the end, I can get through everything and get you all home on time,” I announced to the crowd. It had been six months since Xander had taken over this pack, and just a few weeks since all of the construction finished. The ten new cottages that had been built, eleven of you count mine, were top of the line, and understandably, everyone wanted one of them.
“As was the original plan, the new cottages are for the omegas who were displaced when the old packhouse burned down. They will be returning from California this weekend to begin getting settled in,” I announced. As I expected, boos and angry objections were offered in response.
“Why are the wolves at the bottom of the barrel getting the best cottages? They’ve always lived in the packhouse basement; put them back there, and give the cottages to those of us who deserve them!” someone yelled out.
If there was one thing I’d have to say was my biggest pet peeve living on the northern campus, it was the way these wolves viewed omegas. There was a deep-seated system of hatred and oppression that I’m positive their old Alpha encouraged against the omegas that was sickening and infuriating. As I calmed myself to find the appropriate words to respond, I heard a loud growl behind me that instantly quieted the room.
“How about I put you in the basement? Or even better, why don’t I banish you from my pack? The next time I hear about anyone speaking like this about our omegas that will be the last thing they will ever say or do as a member of the Blue Moon pack, do I make myself clear?”
“Yes. Alpha!” the room responded in unison.
“The new cottages are reserved, end of discussion. Now, if your current cottage requires repairs, let Captain Stone know so that we can perform an inspection, and if needed, place you on the waiting list for renovations. Everyone under my leadership will live comfortably; I don’t care what their bloodline is,” Xander stated.
Xander stood looking over the crowd for a few moments longer, and I was happy I wasn’t among them. Xander was a huge guy, well over six and a half feet tall, with a muscular fighters build, and ice blue eyes that seemed like they could see into your soul. When he was pissed and turned those things on you, it gave you the chills, as I was witnessing happening to a few of the unfortunate wolves in attendance. When I felt that they all had sufficiently tucked their tails between their legs, I pulled Xander's attention to me.
“Hey, I didn’t expect to see you up here today. What’s the occasion?” I asked.
“Tyson says that the sensors on the northern border have been glitching the past few days, so he wanted to come up and take a look before it became a bigger problem,” Xander replied.
I looked over in the corner, where our Information Technology and Security Officer, aka Tyson, was leaning against the wall, tapping on a tablet. If I thought Xander was huge, he looked like a pup next to Tyson. Tyson was a bear, descending from the original line of werebears, which made him massive. He towered over everyone and looked like he could punch through a brick wall with little to no effort. But as intimidating as the guy looked, he was really cool and down to earth and insanely good with computers. He could probably hack into any server, build any gadget, or track any person around the world, with just that tablet he always had with him, and a few simple tools.
“Yes! Tyson, can you help me with my soundbar in my living room? It’s hooked up, but I’m getting no sound, I don’t get it,” I said.
“Gio, I’m not the damn Geek Squad, I don’t hook up stereo equipment,” Tyson replied, never taking his eyes off his tablet.
“But you’re pretty much my brother-in-law, and that makes us family, so, you kind of have to do it,” I countered.
“First of all, I’m not your brother-in-law; your brother and I are married to the same woman, there’s a difference. And second, I don’t have to do shit.”
“Don’t question our family tree; it hurts my feelings, man. And how can I watch my action movies if I can’t properly hear the explosions? You’ve got to help me out,” I begged.
“Whatever. Matt did say that you agreed to watch the kids this weekend, so I guess I can get you set up. You’ve got to have something to keep them all entertained,” he responded.
“I didn’t agree to anything; I was told that I was babysitting.”
“It’s the same thing in my eyes. Xander, I’m going to head up to the border to see what’s going on with the sensors, then I’ll meet you back at the packhouse in about an hour.”
Tyson left the room, and Xander moved to take a seat in the corner. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m sitting in on the rest of the meeting; I didn’t mean to interrupt originally, and I know there are a few more items to cover, so, please, continue,” he said.
It was a good thing that I wasn’t nervous around him anymore, or this would be bad news. If I knew one thing, though, it was that I would get through the rest of this agenda with no objections whatsoever; no one was bold enough to question their Alpha’s word with him sitting right there in the room. So, I nodded my head and smoothly moved through the final announcements in record time. And, surprise, surprise, there were no questions or concerns afterward, so I ended the meeting and released the pack to enjoy the rest of their night. As everyone filed out of the clubhouse, Xander walked over and smiled.
“You’re getting better and better, Gio. I know it can be frustrating when they question everything you say, but you just have to remain firm and stop calling Matt.”
“s**t, he told you about that?” I asked, slightly embarrassed.
“It’s still my pack. If I don’t know what’s going on, then I can’t be an effective Alpha. I understand why you do it, but you’re undermining yourself every time. If you say the answer is no, then the answer is no. You may not be a traditionally ranked member, but you’re their Captian; that’s more than enough.”
“I get what you’re saying, and for the most part, I don’t have any issues. It’s the older wolves who are set in their ways that push back. They are more traditional, so a Captain means nothing to them. You have to be either the Alpha, the Beta, or the Gamma; otherwise, you get no respect,” I stated.
“And because they are old, you tend to be a bit more lenient. Respect for your elders, right?”
“Yeah, I’m sure that’s a factor too.”
“You can’t think like that; you can be a leader and still be respectful to everyone, regardless of the stage they are at in life. These are werewolves; they are used to hierarchy and change. The younger generation may be more pliant, but with the older ones, you have to command respect to get respect. Put your foot down, Gio.”
“I can do that, and I’ll also cut back on phone calls to Matt,” I replied.
“I’m not saying for you not to call Matt, he’s a great source of information and advice that will help you out more than you could imagine. His knowledge of ancient scrolls, dark and light magic, and prophecies, is unmatched by anyone I’ve ever met; I’d be lost without your brother. What I’m saying is for you to do your job and not expect him to do it for you. I didn’t make him Captain; that position was given to you, so steer the ship.”