* * * Amy’s POV * * *
When I left the institute, I’d made my way to the packhouse reception and asked a very stern librarian looking woman for Alice as instructed. Alice was the head omega; the position had gone to her head. She acted as though she was a ranked wolf. Not an omega who was either ignored or insulted by the rest of the pack. Alice was an older woman, although her wolf genes would fool a human. She had auburn hair that was always tied in a ponytail, so tightly that it appeared to give her an instant face lift. Her chestnut brown eyes were cold, and years of arduous work had left her with a slim but toned body. If she did not have her wolf genes, I dare say she would have callouses on her hands. She had been a packhouse omega almost her whole life, the longest serving packhouse omega. As such, she had been promoted to head omega. Basically, she made sure all the jobs were completed. A role that had gone to her head. She avoided as much work as possible.
Alice assigned me to clean up at dusk and dawn. Basically, I had to wake at 4am every morning to clean through the communal rooms of the packhouse and again on an evening, which could be anywhere between 8pm and 12am. I was to be unseen and unheard. And while working the dusk shift left me little room for sleep before my 4am start, it did give me the day to myself. My only worry was how I’d handle my first shift. I needed it to be unseen after all. I had lied about my age. They think I am almost 16, not 18.
Luckily, my working shifts means I manage to mostly avoid the rest of the pack. Sometimes there are warriors and ranked wolves lingering during my dusk clean up. This is usually after they’d had some form of party. Loud music, karaoke, and lots of alcohol. Those evenings are unpleasant to say the least, especially if there’s been drink involved. During those nights I regularly receive comments such as "Little orphan omega, you’re beginning to look ripe. I wonder how you'll taste", "Little lady, you are cooking nicely. Look at your perky titties. When you come of age, I will show you a fun time". These comments used to be received while they were trying to touch me. That is until Beta Scott reminded them that pack law stated s****l conduct with an underage wolf was punishable by death. The pack are very firm on this rule. This only led to further comments about what they would do to me once I became of age. But at least the touching had stopped. No wonder the packhouse omegas never last long. It made me wonder how Alice had put up with it for so long. Maybe that was why she was so cold and mean to others.
The nicer evenings with stragglers would be insults, from how I’m worthless trash to how I’m destined to be unmated and unloved. I prefer these nights to the nights with vile comments. Although it is entertaining at times, watching some of them make a fool of themselves singing at the karaoke. Some of the other Omega's complain about the music choices always being predominantly from the 80's. But apparently, it was some kind of unspoken UK culture law, that all parties have to have music from the 80's, especially classics such as Bon Jovi, U2, Nirvana, Guns 'n' Roses and Abba.
Since I had arrived, I had mostly only seen Nurse Winters from a distance. She hasn’t spoken to me in four years, except for the night of my first shift. Man, that had been painful.
Although now and again I’ll catch her looking my way and if nobody is looking, she will smile at me. She’s still working at the Hospital. Alpha James doesn’t think she’s redeemed herself yet.
Every few months since my shift she’ll mind-link me to inform me that she’s written to the council in secret, to inform them of the omega mistreatment, of Alpha James' betrayal to wolf law, providing them with snippets of evidence she’s been able to find through Walt's work. She never gives me very much detail but keeps me informed.
Keera and I had secretly celebrated my 18th Birthday with a stale croissant and a walk in the garden behind the dungeons to familiarise ourselves with it. I had formed my plan to get out of duties for a couple of days to allow a secret shift until the full moon. I had purposely, but accidentally of course, undercooked the chicken, meaning it was raw. The Alpha was clearly furious and ordered it to be binned. I stole a lot and forced myself to eat it. What 18-year-old should have to purposely give themselves food poisoning? But it gave us the time we needed. I received 20 lashes for that stunt and made an example of in front of the other omegas.
The night of the full moon, 12 days after my 18th birthday, we snuck out at 10pm, before the moon was at its highest. Keera had told me it was time. Wolves do not complete their first shift until the first full moon after their 18th birthday. We moved unseen to the garden behind the dungeons. Under the willow tree Dotty was waiting for me.
“Child, you are more beautiful than I ever expected you to be. It is almost time. Let us move further between the trees. Your wolf will guide you through this. The first shift is usually rather painful, but it is essential you try to stay quiet. If it looks like you need a diversion, I will create one for you child”, Dotty had greeted me as we walked to the thickest part of the trees.
“Why are you helping me, Dotty?” I had asked.
“I promised your Mother I would keep you safe. And I will as best I can dear. There will be time for talking soon. Take off your clothes, the moon is almost ready”
I quickly removed my clothes, feeling a strange energy in the air around me, causing the hair on my arms to rise. The chilly night breeze didn’t bother me. I felt almost too hot. I can do this. I can. I tried to encourage myself. And then I felt my spine snap. I grunted, keeping my scream held in, I do not think I can do this. More bones popping and rearranging. My nails were elongating and grey fur sprouting. I was laid on the floor clenching my jaw, to keep this as silent as possible. To help, I began to hum Dotty’s song. I was vaguely aware of Dotty murmuring words of encouragement to me. You can do this, Amy Keera told me. I felt her pouring her strength into me, easing the pain as more joints popped and rearranged to my wolf form. It seemed never ending. And then I felt myself rise. I felt reborn, powerful, and elite.
“My child, you have the most beautiful wolf I have ever seen, you are truly special. Noble Wolf, may I touch you?” She had asked Keera.
Amy, relax your mind. I would like to mind-link Dotty.
How Keera? We are not sworn into the pack and cannot mind-link the others.
Amy, I can do as I please, so please relax your mind. Think of talking to Dotty.
I had done as Keera instructed, and I felt her push our awareness out towards Dotty, feeling Dotty's mind as she accepted the link. With a look of awe on her face, that an unsworn wolf could mind-link her.
Dotty, my name is Keera. I am the Moon Goddess's very own Daughter, sent to guide and protect Amy. Thank you for watching over the child all these years and the steps you took to protect her from herself. The risk to yourself has been great and beyond the promise you made.
Dotty dropped to her knees. Keera, it is such an honour to meet the Daughter of our Moon Goddess. You are incredibly beautiful and magnificent. Can I ask though, how do you know the steps I took?
Dear Dotty, the memory block spell you placed on Amy would not work on a wolf such as myself. Over time, and with your help, I will grant Amy her memories back. How do you plan for us to leave this place, unnoticed? I am guessing you would like to come with us.
Please Keera, my husband Walt and I will leave with the child. I have been closely watched and my kindness at the institute did not go unnoticed. The Alpha grew suspicious and promoted Walt to Gamma so that he could keep an eye on him and me. However, this will work in my favour. I plan to send reports secretly to the council in order to force a meeting and investigation. When the council arrive, Alpha will be too busy to notice us slipping away.
Very well Dotty. Although we should also prepare for the possibility of staying. I will leave my link for you open. Let us know when it is time.
Thank you, Keera. You are a magnificent creature of the moon, uniquely beautiful. I cannot wait for Amy to see you. Although I hate to sound rude, we must go back before we are noticed. I will go first. Please allow some time to talk to Amy and prevent us being spotted together.
Of course, good night, Dotty.
Dotty crept back into the packhouse while Keera laid under an enormous oak tree. Suddenly she darted and snapped her powerful jaw around something. Then I felt the blood trickle into my mouth. Please warn me before you do that again I asked.
My dear Amy, I am a wolf. Eating prey is natural. When you shift, you need to give yourself over to me. I do not care much about the food you eat. But I give myself over to you. We must live in harmony, Keera explained.
We had spent a short while talking about what it would be like to run free across the national park, howling our praise to the moon goddess. Keera assured me that the time would soon come.
* * * * * * * * *
Over the last year, Dotty has sent Keera random mind links informing her of letters sent to the council and estimated that we should be ready within the next year. She is at times a little vague about what she was sending. She tells me that this is to ensure that I don’t have to carry the burden of the knowledge.
During the last year, the pack has suffered a loss of income from somewhere. Omegas are now only allowed to eat leftovers, and there are hardly any. Alice has taken it upon herself to hand these out and she always does so in order of preference. Some days all I have is a slice of cold toast. Party nights means there’s more left over, so I usually manage to have a toddler-sized portion. I’ve noticed the weight I’ve lost. When I’m able to look in a mirror, I can see that my ribs and hips are becoming visible.
We’re also no longer allowed to order uniforms or clothes, if we need them, they come from discarded items from other pack members. This means I usually wear clothes that’re far too big for me. This actually works in my favour, hiding my blossoming breasts, helping me to mask my true age.
I still have my dreams, which I think show me a fragmented version of my past. I often wake up and I’m unable to recall most of the dream. My wolf Keera occasionally speaks to me; however, this is only when I’m really angry or scared. She tells me she needs to lie low unless needed to prevent drawing attention to us.
Four exceptionally long years of being a pack house slave. I’m even a slave to the other omegas; Alice makes sure that she leaves me her jobs too. So often I have to clean the kitchen and wash the pots too. Sometimes I have to work all the way through the gap between my shifts to complete her work. It’s unfair, but I doubt anybody will care if I tell them.
Today’s no different. I began my dusk shift at 9pm. It is now 3am and I have finally completed the dusk cleaning, washed the pots, cleaned the kitchen, and completed the laundry tasks. I have time for a quick toilet break before I begin my 4am shift.
It's now 5am and I tiptoe across the Alpha wing of the pack house. Alice left a note to say the Alpha would be leaving his suits to be dry cleaned and I must do them. As I make my way across the wing, I hear a phone ringing and pause.
Amy, stop, stay quiet and listen, Keera instructs.
"Hello" Alpha James whispers, I think he is trying not to wake Luna Louise.
"It's rather early, Councilman Eric. What is the nature of this call?"
"I see, I see. An urgent pack meeting. Can I ask what it is regarding?"
"Okay. Yes, I understand it would be unfair to know before the other Alpha's. You can't blame an old boy for trying."
"Yes, Yes, using our pack for the meeting would be more than OK. As you say, we are central to all packs, which would reduce the travel time for a lot of Alpha's. When is this meeting to be held?"
"Excuse me" Alpha James coughs. "Saturday, as in two days"
"No, no, that's not a problem. It must be very urgent, Councilman Eric. Thank you for the call. I appreciate being given time to put provisions in place to accommodate such a big meeting."
Why I stopped to listen I don't know. Why would Keera want me to hear that?
It's happening. The council are coming at the weekend. Saturday is the day we can work towards leaving this place.
I ask Keera if she would care to share what she knew.
I can't say. Not Yet. Please trust me. Keep moving and pick up Alpha's suits. NOW
I walk to where the suits are hanging just as Alpha James exits his bedroom. "Forgive me Alpha and good morning. I have come to pick up your suits. I apologise if I woke you". I try to sound sincere and not guilty.
"Yes, yes they are just there. I was already up. Once you have taken them to the laundry room, make sure you gather all the omegas. I have an announcement to make. I expect everyone to be in the dining hall at 6am sharp" Alpha James instructs.
"Of course, Alpha, right away."
"Wait, Amy, isn't it? I haven't seen you in some time, child. I hope you are still recovering well. What is it two years until you shift? Perhaps with a wolf, you will remember your past.”
"Thank you, Alpha. Yes Alpha, I will not let you down". I answer, while leaving the Alpha wing and rushing his suit to the laundry room.
I decide to knock on Alice’s door first. I gently tap and wait for an answer. After waiting for a couple more minutes, I tap a little louder. I hear her getting out of bed. The door opens, revealing Alice in her nightgown. “What on earth are you doing here? I gave you my job so that I could rest. How dare you disobey my orders? The Alpha will hear of this, and you will be punished”, Alice tells me sternly.
“The Alpha sent me, Alice. He has called an urgent pack meeting. We are to be in the dining hall by 6am. All wolves, no exceptions” I explain.
“Well, why didn’t you say so? Fancy only giving me 45 minutes' notice. Do you think it’s funny to leave me unprepared?”
“No Alice, I have come straight from the Alpha wing now. He caught me collecting his suit.”
“Very well. Knock on the doors on the right-hand side, I will take the left”, Alice instructs. Together we walk, the Omega wing of the house banging on the doors as we pass.
Doors begin to open, revealing the omegas in their nightwear and looking very sleepy. It is room share on this wing, unless you are Alice or the select few Alice has chosen. This can mean up to four wolves per room. My room is a cupboard.
Alice waits for all omega wolves to be visible before stating, “The Alpha has called an urgent pack meeting. You are all to be ready and in the dining hall by 6am” she pauses, counting heads. “Where are Rose and Jenny?” Alice barks.
“Madam Alice, Rose has gone into labour at 2am. I took her to the Hospital and Jenny found her mate at the last full moon. Remember” answers a timid wolf named Amber. Amber was new to the pack, and usually kept herself to herself. She did not really interact with other wolves. At times it felt like she was watching me, but whenever I looked over in her direction, her gaze would be elsewhere.
“Heavens. After Alpha’s meeting, we are having an urgent staff meeting. I thought I had more time to replace Jenny, but now with Rose in labour we will need to recruit two cooks. Hopefully, Rose will be back shortly to resume her duties. After all, she was floozy enough to get pregnant with a wolf who was not her mate. Fancy that. I’m sure her Mother will be turning in her grave. Now get ready. You have half an hour.”
Alice will announce this at the pack meeting to the Alpha, I am sure of it. You need to put us forward for cooking work. Until Rose comes back, of course. This is our chance.
Are you sure? Why will cooking help us? Alice will never allow that, I am sure.
Speak up when she mentions it. Say to the Alpha that you have cooked today’s breakfast as a trial. This is important. I can feel it. We have to be present when the Alphas and council members are here. Let’s go to the kitchen before people wake up and cook.
Keera sounds excited. I’m stunned that Keera chooses this moment to speak to me. I rub my eyes and yawn to appear sleepy, so people won’t question the faraway look I’d had in my eyes.
I watch as the omega wolves return to their rooms to get themselves ready for the meeting. I make my way to the kitchen.
Keera help me.
As the area was empty, we use our wolf speed to make a large variety of breakfast dishes. Using wolf speed is amazing. I often beg Keera to let us use this when completing our dawn shifts so that I can get to bed quicker. She never lets me, for fear of being caught having a wolf.
The kitchen has large industrial sized ovens with multiple hobs for frying. There’s a larger portable food warmer trolley against the back wall.
We cook hundreds of rashers of bacon, hundreds of sausages, and eggs. Adding them to the food warmer once they were done. We made whipped cream for the pancakes and gradually moved all the plates and cutlery to the underneath compartment of the trolley in between cooking. The oven beeps. It was 05:50. I quickly put the croissants and pancakes in a warmer compartment.
No more wolf speed, I can hear people coming. Keera tells me as she dashes us across to the hobs, adding bread to the frying pans. Use non-wolf speed now to gather the French toast.
I find this much more difficult without Keera’s aid. I try to push the toast into a compartment within the warmer. Very aware that it’s now 6am. After adding the last of the toast, I switch off the ovens and start to push the trolley through the double doors that lead to the dining hall.
“OK, quiet everyone. Is everyone here?” Alpha James addresses the hall.
“Alpha the omega slave Amy is not here, despite her being the one to inform me of this meeting. Can I suggest added duties for her as punishment?” Alice informs the Alpha, appearing smug at reporting me.
Before Alpha James could respond, I bump the trolley into the door and the walk into the dining hall. As I enter the hall, I speak. “Apologies Alpha, I thought I could manage this quicker. You see, our cook, Rose, went into labour overnight and it left us with nobody to cook breakfast for the pack. I had already begun preparing breakfast to help. And when you called the meeting, I thought I could finish the job and the pack could eat together”. I hope I sound genuine enough. I have to hide my smile at the furious look Alice gives me. She was hoping to be able to speak to the Alpha herself and having no cook would have been the perfect opportunity.
“I see. I hope it is all cooked properly, unlike your last attempt. There will be punishment otherwise” he states sternly.
“Yes sir, I learnt from my last mistake. I hope there’s enough,” I answer.
“Very well, as Amy has been thoughtful enough to prepare at such short notice, gather your breakfast and then I will begin. I will be reporting to the other warriors via mind link at the same time. And then, later in the morning, to the entire pack”, Alpha instructs.
The wolves present were eager to have breakfast. I plate the Alpha’s breakfast while the other wolves line up to self-serve and return to their tables. “Alpha James, I have your breakfast here”. I await his permission to place the tray in front of him.
“Forgive me for assuming, but I have prepared you pancakes, with bacon, sausage, eggs, and syrup. And a side plate of French toast and a croissant”. I inform him of the plate’s contents, then bow and begin to walk away.
“Amy” Alpha James calls. “This is incredibly good at such short notice and working alone. Thank you” he adds, leaving me shocked at the praise. I glance at Alice, who’s clearly furious with the praise I have received.
I walk across the hall to sit with the other omegas, waiting for the pack to finish their breakfast. I can feel Alice glaring daggers into me.
I hate to say it, but I am good, Keera teases in my mind. This will make it easier to put ourselves forward when Alice mentions needing cooks. Dotty has mind-linked me to inform me that the council is coming due to the evidence she has submitted. She is assuming that this is what the meeting is for.