Page 102 of Redemption Road

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“I get to live,” the man said.

Benny snorted. “You think shooting your new Alpha is going to increase your longevity? You didn’t get the job done, by the way.”

“Who says I’m done?” Campbell countered.

“I do,” Benny said coldly, then dropped his filters and let the man see just what he was up against. Campbell paled. “So let’s talk. I gather your grandfather thinks he’s a better partner for the conspiracists who want to overthrow the World Council? Delusions of glory?”

Campbell shrugged. “Can’t be worse than McKenzie. Really, we should be thanking that brother of yours for getting rid of him. I told Angus that we’d be better off to try to get the new Alpha to step up to partner with the Chinese than to try to run this pack ourselves. But Grandfather is raging. And so, like the rest of the family, I just shut up and did as I was told.”

“Which included running this camp of would-be militants? Starving young shifters to nearly feral states? Doing dominance fights to the death? Those your ideas? Or are you going to blame Angus for them?” Benny asked.

“Actually they were Bjorn Hansen’s strategies,” he answered. “But they were working. So I continued them. Locking my cousin up in the basement was my idea though. Grandfather liked it —belt and suspenders. Bait to lure the Alpha in, and I get a shot at him. Or who knows? Mark steps up and takes the Alpha out himself.”

“That would have been a surprise to you all when Mark Campbell became Alpha of the pack, though,” Benny observed, watching the man. Ah, he thought, seeing the man look smug. “You would have shot him then.”

“Like I said, Grandfather likes belts and suspenders.”

Benny snorted. Why anyone thought that was a good thing or a compliment was beyond him. It was actually an insult, but never mind. “So this grand plot,” Benny said, shoving his dominance at the man. Alpha’s question didn’t require a pack Alpha, contrary to popular belief. It just required dominance. “Originally it was Chen in Vancouver, the Chinese Alpha, and McKenzie. Who else?”

“The recruiter,” Campbell said, then looked puzzled as if he wasn’t sure why he was answering.

Benny raised an eyebrow. “The recruiter,” he said neutrally.

“A man out of Vancouver,” Campbell said slowly as if he too was curious about the man. “Chen charged him with finding likely recruits and sending them our way. We gave them some training, and then sent them on to Chen as he requested. And all of that came to a screeching halt two weeks ago. But you probably know more about that than I do.”

Benny shrugged. “Probably,” he agreed. “Bjorn Hansen must have been pissed.”

“He lost it,” Campbell said. “Went on a rampage. Sent our most experienced wolves after various targets in Vancouver. None of them came back. He threw more of them away. He was after something he called dònglì diànchí.” Campbell mangled the word so badly, Benny barely recognized it. “Said if we had that, nothing else would matter. No one would be able to stop us.”

“Did he tell you what it was?” Benny asked, not mentioning it was a who, not a what.

“He may have told Grandfather, but I wasn’t in the loop,” Campbell said. “I was told to just keep the recruits flowing.” He sounded bitter.

“Do you have a name for the other partners? The Chinese? The recruiter?”

“The Chinese Alpha I met years ago,” he answered. “The last time McKenzie made a bid for power and got left holding the bag for the rich and famous. He was introduced as the Emperor of China, and his men all called him Emperor, not Alpha. Was one of the most dominant men I’ve ever met —more than Anton Vuk, if you ask me. Of course, no one did.”

Interesting, Benny thought. He thought briefly about letting this man live so he could learn more. No, his wolf insisted. Kill. Benny assured him he would.

“And the recruiter?”

“Goes by the name of Li, Barry Li,” he replied. “No clue if its real.”

“L-i or L-e-e?” Benny asked. Campbell stared at him.

“You think I got a look at his driver’s license or something?” he demanded. “No clue. He’s Chinese. Must be close to full-Chinese, because he’s even shorter than you are. I’m guessing he’s in his 40s? Not as young as the recruits, although you can’t tell by looking.”

Benny nodded. Would have helped to have known if he was out of the Mandarin or Cantonese community. There were a lot of Chinese in Vancouver.

Shifter, his wolf warned. Behind us. Stranger.

Benny pulled the trigger, shooting the man in front of him between the eyes, and then whirled, and pulled the trigger again at the man his wolf said was there. He pulled the shot just a bit in case his wolf was mistaken and it was an ally, not a threat. He immediately moved to his left and dropped to a crouch behind a tree.

His wolf huffed at the idea of such a mistake. Benny snorted. He heard the crash in the underbrush caused by the man falling to the ground, but he waited. He didn’t hear the man move. Benny was confident he got him, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t dangerous.

He waited. Dying, his wolf pronounced. Benny moved silently in a half-circle to approach where he thought the man was. He was right — but the man was expecting him and brought his gun up. Benny flattened, and then crawled forward until he could take another shot.

Stranger, he confirmed. He had no way of knowing if the man was Penticton pack or not — probably was, he had the look — but he didn’t much care. He’d shot at him. And Benny considered that act carried a death sentence. He fired again, hitting the man in the T-zone.

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