Home > Reaper Unleashed (Deadside Reapers #7)(11)

Reaper Unleashed (Deadside Reapers #7)(11)
Author: Debbie Cassidy

“It can’t be anything bad. There are Loup in there, and we’re Loup. Whatever affects us will affect them.”

“She’s right,” Hunter said.

Grayson nodded. “Okay, let’s do this.”

I pushed open the doors and stepped through. A ripple ran over my skin—the magic no doubt—but I was focused on my surroundings. Strip lights lit up the massive space that spanned practically the whole of the Rising pack building. A metal staircase led up to a grilled balcony that ran along the perimeter, but it was empty of any Loup. However, the main floor was filled with them. So many fucking Loup.

Too many.

I could tell the rogues from the original Rising pack members by their clothes. Rising pack were well dressed, well-groomed, but the rogues were scruffier.

There was a platform to our left, blocked off by the gathering. My pulse beat faster, as I forged ahead with my guys at my side. The crowd parted, confusion a poignant scent in the air as we strode through.

Several Loup stood on the platform. Big guys, wearing ripped jeans and snug T-shirts that showcased muscle, but the one that mattered, the bastard responsible for this mess, was standing smack back in the middle watching me approach.

Ulrich was huge.

He was a hulk, a beast of a man with a jutting jaw and eyes like flint. His head was shaved, and his traps rose up to swallow his neck making him look like he didn’t have one.

His eyes narrowed at the sight of us, and then he smiled, showcasing jagged teeth. He was a monster in human clothing.

I’d heard about him. One of the mutant Loup, the ones that were not pure wolf but something other. Rising pack was renowned for taking in the strays. I’d seen Ulrich in his shifted form, porcupine spines covering his body, but his human form was even scarier.

There was an absence behind his eyes. An emptiness that made my stomach hurt. How had Hunter ever thought to trust him, to help him? It was obvious to me that this creature was beyond redemption.

A group of Loup closest to the podium started to move toward us, but Ulrich held up his hand and they stopped.

His flint gaze fell on me then flicked to Hunter and then Grayson. There was no surprise on his face at seeing Grayson, which meant he was aware he’d escaped. Aware of Uri.

“You took your time.” His voice was deep, like gravel and broken glass. It grated on my senses. It sounded…inhuman. “I’ve been waiting.” He didn’t take his eyes off me, but he lifted his hand to beckon someone.

A tiny Loup male stumbled forward, clutching a leather-bound book. Were his knees knocking?

“I told you, magistrate; I can’t start the ceremony without my future queen by my side.”

Grayson and Hunter growled in unison, and the hairs on my body stood to attention as I picked up on the real threat of violence.

Ulrich, however, didn’t flinch. “Come here,” he ordered me.

We’d hoped for this, for me to get the chance to speak to the gathered. The platform was where I needed to be, but I needed to play the part. I couldn’t go easy.

“I don’t take orders from you.” I lifted my chin. “I don’t take orders from anyone.”

He looked up at the balcony with a smirk. “How about when there are guns aimed at your heads?”

What? No, the balcony had been clear. I didn’t take my eyes off him. “Bastian?”

“Six Loup with guns,” he confirmed.

Fuck. Okay, we’d known this was risky. The plan still stood. Our only hope was to reach the masses and turn them against Ulrich and onto our side.

Ulrich held out his hand. “Take it willingly or your pack dies.”

I wasn’t stupid. He had no intention of letting any of them live, and this…this move had always been a risk, but he was offering me a platform. His platform, and that I was willing to take.

I let my shoulders slump, and dropped my gaze, allowing him to think he had the upper hand.

“Fee, no,” Hunter said.

“I have to.” I broke away from my guys.

Grayson growled and lunged after me, and I wasn’t so sure he was playing a part any longer. Hunter held him back though. My strategist, keeping his cool. But I felt his disquiet as a lurch in my stomach, a warning that urged me to look back at my guys. I locked gazes with them both, channeling reassurance into that one look and then I reached out to Ulrich.

His eyes lit up with triumph as he stepped forward to take my hand. His skin was rough and calloused. His grip made me want to cringe, but I didn’t flinch as he hauled me easily onto the platform.

I tugged my fingers from his grasp and wiped them on my jeans.

Ulrich addressed the gathered Loup. “I bring a new order, and I bring miasma in the form of an alpha female soon to be mated to me.”

Yeah, not gonna happen. I stepped forward. “And I represent Eldrick, the real alpha to Rising pack. The one that brought you, the original Loup, together.”

Ulrich snorted but didn’t try to cut me off.

“He’s alive, despite Ulrich’s attempts otherwise. He wouldn’t want this for you. Those of you who are true to him, know this isn’t what Rising pack is about. It’s not who you are.”

Ulrich crossed his arms over his chest. “If he feels so strongly, he should have come himself. He was too weak to fight me, and he’s too weak to fight for his pack.”

The rogue Loup cheered, and anger simmered to life in my veins.

“You?” I turned on him. “You, he could have put down. But you came at him with a pack of rogues in an unauthorized challenge.”

Murmurs of alarm rippled through the crowd.

Ulrich sneered. “He let his guard down. Bad move.”

“No, he trusted you. That was his only mistake.” I pulled Hunter’s phone from my pocket and clicked on the recording from Eldrick. “He’s healing and can’t be here, but he has a message for his pack.”

I expected Ulrich to attack and wrestle the phone from me, but he didn’t.

I held up the phone and Eldrick’s calm, assured voice drifted across the room.

“My Rising Loup. My pack. My family. I am so proud of what we have built over the decades. I am so proud of all of you. Of your strength and conviction. Now is the time to use that conviction. Ulrich will undo all that we have built and turn our city into a den of crime. I implore you to support my bloodline. I offer you my daughter Seraphina Dawn and her Tribus as your alphas.”

The video ended.

“Tribus?” The magistrate looked at me in shock.

I gave him a shrug.

Ulrich looked confused as murmurs skittered across the crowd, gaining volume.

Yeah, the news of the Tribus was new, and our triad power chose that moment to flare, filling the air with electricity. The Loup closest to the platform moved back and my Regency pack were given a wide berth as the power whooshed outward, touching them all, shielding them and claiming them as mine.

Ulrich wasn’t smirking any longer. “What is this?” he demanded. He grabbed the magistrate by the lapel and shook him. “Explain it.”

“A-A Tribus…” the magistrate stuttered. “A triad. A fated mating of two alpha males to an alpha female. R-rare and powerful.”

Ulrich released the magistrate and turned his head to look at me. “You think you have the upper hand because you have two mates?”

It was more than that, but I wasn’t here to explain that to him. I didn’t need to. The room had felt our power and heard Eldrick’s words. It was all we needed. Ulrich may not have grasped the enormity of what we were, but the magistrate obviously had.

He couldn’t take his eyes off me. His throat bobbed nervously, and his gaze flicked to Ulrich as if he was reassessing being here at all.

It was time to push. “A pack is only as good as it’s alpha. A pack works when it shares common goals and ideals, otherwise you have dissention. So tell me, Ulrich, is the Rising pack really on board with you?”

His eyes narrowed and then a slow smirk spread across his face. “You want numbers? How about this.” He faced the crowd. ”Rising pack only. Step forward if you support Seraphina Dawn.”

There were murmurs but no one moved.

I couldn’t believe this. They were being given a choice, and they were choosing him. I looked down at Grayson and Hunter in shock.

Ulrich chuckled. “Your face… It’s priceless.”

He made a grab for me, and I wasn’t quick enough to evade it. Grayson and Hunter growled in rage and then bullets rained, pinging off the ground and forcing them back.

Ulrich squeezed my jaw, his face too close. My hand tingled, but the scythe didn’t materialize. Shit. What the fuck? The symbols above the door. Oh god. Whatever they’d done to the room was blocking my Dominus power.

“They won’t join you,” Ulrich said. “They know better. They know what happens to those who defy me. I’m not Eldrick, and this isn’t a fucking democracy. You either fall in line or…”

He forced my head to the side, to look out into the crowd as it parted to reveal the horror pinned to the wall at the back of the basement.

The coppery smell made sense now. It was blood. Blood of the ten eviscerated Loup hung on the wall like trophies.

Ulrich shoved me away. “Or you fall. Simple. The Pack is mine.”

No. Oh god. All those dead Loup. Loyal to Eldrick. Strong enough to stand up against Ulrich … They were dead.

He’d killed them.

He’d… Rage flared inside me like ion inferno. “I challenge you.” I glared at him. “I challenge you for alphahood of his pack,”

“Fee, no!” Grayson cried out. “A power challenge can only be taken on by the potential alpha, not the Tribus.”

I didn’t care. I had to do this. We didn’t have the numbers to over-power and overthrow him. This, one on one, was the only way.

“Fee?” Grayson implored.

I couldn’t look at him, wouldn’t break eye contact with Ulrich, If I did, I might weaken. I couldn’t weaken now.

Ulrich ran his tongue over his teeth, looking me up and down. “You want to fight me for the alpha crown?” He grinned. “In the interests of sportsmanship, I should warn you that your Dominus power won’t work in this room. It’ll be your little Loup against mine.”

   
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