Ascension of a Gamma

Prologue

 

She could count it.

One.

Two.

The first light of day brightened her surroundings, and she drew a deep breath – it was time to go. She slid a thumb under each backpack strap and whispered goodbye. This was it. There was no going back after this. Standing on the territorial borders, a couple of steps and she’d be branded a rogue.

She exhaled loudly and just as she was about to take the first step, a rustling sound came from behind her.

“Stop!” a voice boomed, and she suddenly couldn’t move. Her legs wouldn’t walk forward as she wished so she simply stood, awaiting the next command.

“You’ve never used the Order on me, Alpha Fraser,” she said flatly, hiding her annoyance. He only ever used the Order on kids, and she certainly wasn’t one.

“That’s because I never had a reason to, until now. Now turn around and face me, Anna.”

She did as instruct and wanted to glare at him, but the pained expression he wore made her feel guilty. “Undo the order, Alpha. This is for the best,” she declared.

“No, it isn’t. Everyone’s been looking for you and are expecting your return,” he said firmly.

He walked towards her, his eyes locked on hers, and when he was at arm’s length, he added, “Especially him.”

Her hands clutched the straps, and she remembered her failure last night, and the disappointment that she saw in everyone present. Anna didn’t see his face, how could she? He was just as let down as the rest, she was sure.

Anna looked away from him, and in a matter-of-fact tone said, “I let him down. I let all of you down. I’m unfit to serve the future Alpha and I cannot protect the pack. The Goddess made it clear last night.”

“Don’t make me do this, Anna. You are going back, and if it means dragging you back, I will do it,” he warned.

Her head snapped to him and this time, she showed her annoyance. “Don’t you dare. I am not going back, and you can’t make me!” She crossed her arms and raised her chin slightly to show defiance. “A werewolf without strength is useless. It’s an unwritten rule and we all know it.”

He smirked, then went down on one knee. She raised a brow at him while maintaining her pose, not really knowing what to expect.

“You know -,” he began, taking her hand before adding, “- you were born in the pack, raised by the pack, and you will die in the White Lake Pack, missy. You’re one of us, and you know it.”

She watched him take off his ring and offer it to her. It was a blackened silver with a wolf-head sitting on top, a lustrous black pearl trapped in between its open mouth – the Alpha’s ring. “And you will stay, because you’re the pack’s future Luna,” he said, smiling.

“W-What?” She blinked a few times as her mind processed the information. It couldn’t be. Was he giving her his blessing?

The Alpha’s hopeful eyes locked on hers, he wasn’t lying. When it finally sank, she blurted, “But I’m not suited to be Luna!”, her cheeks blushing.

He laughed at her flustered expression, and in the blink of an eye, took her hand and slipped the ring on a finger. It was too big for her slender finger that it dangled, but he looked at it with a satisfied smile. “You may not be as strong as a werewolf, Anna. But you will carry with you the strength of the pack, as Luna.”

She removed her hand from his and curled it against her chest. He stood straight and awaited her response.

A small smile played on her lips and she asked, “Does he know about this?”

“Ha! If only you saw him last night,” he said, chuckling. “Now come on, they’re all waiting. Sorry to ruin the surprise, but could you pretend you didn’t know?”

“I haven’t even said yes… yet,” she said playfully and he grinned.

“You just did.”

Rolling her eyes at him, she said, “I’d like to have control over my body now.”

“Ah!” She yelped in surprise as he held her in a bear hug and raised her off the ground as he undid the Alpha Order. He spun her around once before putting her down while laughing his heart out. “I want lots of grandchildren,” he said casually, making her blush.

“Why would he still want me? I can’t be of any use to him. And when he finds his mate – “

“You are his mate, Anna,” he said, cutting her off. “He’s decided and I know you want the same thing. Don’t you?”

Her cheeks took on a deeper shade of red as she nodded her head. “I do.”

“Good. Now save those words for the ceremony,” he teased.

He offered his arm and she linked hers with it. They walked in comfortable silence as she played with the ring, and his chest swelled with pride. Suddenly, a number of howls came from different directions. Rogues.

Anna looked up at him and saw that his eyes were rolled back, showing white, as he received a mind-link.

“Have you found her, Alpha?” the voice asked with urgency.

“She’s with me,” he assured. “What’s the situation?”

“Rogues. I can’t put my finger on it, but something’s wrong. Their movements are coordinated, and their numbers are by the hundred,” the voice reported. “Rogues aren’t this tactical. It’s almost like… like they’re a pack.”

“That’s impossible,” said the Alpha. “Even with a leader.”

“There’s no time, Alpha. They’re zoning-in on your location. We’re on our way.”

“Meet us by the clearing. Tell your men to retreat to the packhouse, lure them there,” he ordered.

“Yes, Alpha,” the voice said. “And Fraser, keep my daughter safe.”

“She’s one of us, Aiden. No need to say more.”

His eyes went back to normal as he cut the link, then he looked down at her anxious face. “Anna, whatever happens, just run. Don’t look back and keep running, alright?”

She swallowed the lump in her throat and nodded. She would only burden him and decrease their chances of surviving an attack. The packhouse was kilometers away that help would take a few minutes. She dropped her bag and prepared to run. “Come back to us, father-in-law.”

“I’ve been waiting for years; I wouldn’t miss it cause of a few rogues,” he said, chuckling. “Now go!”

Anna sprinted through the woods, unhindered by the trees and protruding roots. She had only one thing on her mind – she must stay away from the Alpha to buy him enough time for the warriors to arrive. The thunder of paws echoed around her, but she paid it no heed. Although the rogues wouldn’t pick up a scent from her, she wasn’t completely safe. She wasn’t a target, for now at least.

However, luck wasn’t on her side.

A brown wolf jumped in front of her and she halted in her tracks. Two more brown wolves joined from both sides, snarling, and snapping their jaws. They inched towards her and her shaking legs carried her backward.

They seemed to enjoy watching their helpless prey retreat, a small payback for their loss. One of the wolves sped towards her and she ran to her left, hesitating to lure the rogues to the Alpha.

In their wolf form, they should’ve been able to catch up to her easily, but they purposefully slowed their pace, raising her hopes of escape, adding more thrill to the chase.

She didn’t glance back once and continued to run, praying to the Moon Goddess for protection. As if hearing her plea, she saw a gray wolf running towards her, its eyes a light blue. Anna’s eyes lit up. “Father!” she exclaimed but in her distracted state, failed to notice an arching root and she tripped over.

The rogues were almost upon her, but the gray wolf leaped in the air and latched his teeth into a brown wolf’s neck. It happened too fast that the enemy’s companions froze for a moment. The gray wolf ripped the flesh off and immediately attacked another.

However, as his canines were buried into his second kill’s neck, the last rogue managed to bite on his shoulder. Aiden let go of the dead rogue, who dropped on the ground, choking on his own blood.

He tried to shake off the rogue on his shoulder, but it only worsened the pain. He snapped his jaws to bite into the enemy’s body, but the latter was out of his range. Then, the rogue suddenly howled in pain, releasing him. He took advantage of the opening to rip the rogue’s throat then turned to face a smiling Anna.

“Wolfsbane powder,” she said proudly, showing off a teensy vial that hung around her neck on a silver chain. “A werewolf’s poison.”

Aiden noticed the Alpha’s ring on her finger and smiled inwardly to himself. Soon, he will give his daughter away. She shifted on one foot. Aiden signaled for her to climb on his back, but she shook her head.

“The Alpha needs you, Father. I’ll be fine on my own,” she said. He growled in disapproval and lowered himself on the ground. Then he whimpered while looking up at her with pleading eyes and she couldn’t help but give in. He always knew how to get to her.

“Fine!” she said and straddled his back. He ran towards where she came and the howls came again, louder this time. The rogues were getting close.

He mind-linked the Alpha and they met up within seconds, speeding towards the packhouse, with the enemy on hot pursuit.

As they focused on escaping, they didn’t pick up on the scent of a man who waited for them. Patiently waiting behind a tree, he intentionally sent his pack to chase their targets into the clearing, and when they came into view, gunshots rang in the air, followed by a thud as heavy beasts made abrupt contact with the ground.

Anna was thrown off at the sudden stop and rolled a few feet from her father. She hastily got on her feet. Horror painted her face at the sight of the mighty Alpha and his Head Gamma panting heavily as red coated their furs. Their wounds weren’t healing, and warm liquid oozed continuously, which meant that the bullets were not only silver but they were also coated with wolfsbane.

The enemy caught up to them and began to surround them. Tears invariably streaked her cheeks, but she wiped them away and slapped her face to get herself to focus. She bit into her left wrist, puncturing the delicate skin and letting the blood drip into each gaping wound of the gray wolf. He whimpered as the wounds healed at a snail’s pace.

“Come on, come on,” she said as she squeezed more of her blood. She moved to the Alpha and did the same. But it wasn’t enough – the blood, time – she desperately needed more.

The enemies continued to encircle them but didn’t dare attack. Then a howl came from behind her and the rogues parted to carve a path for their leader.

He had inky black fur and the dominating aura of an Alpha. An ugly jagged scar stretched over his left eye, catching her attention. But she couldn’t determine which pack he was from – she had never seen him before in any of the gatherings.

He approached them slowly, biding his time like a predator stalking its prey.

Her protectors forced themselves up and staggered on their feet, intent on keeping her alive. She wanted to scream at them to stop but the fear invoked by the newcomer made her choke her words.

The two communicated in a mind-link and formulated a plan. They knew death was imminent but neither cared for it. They would gladly return to the Goddess if it meant keeping her alive.

The rogues backed away from them to provide more space for the much-anticipated boss battle.

When the rogue’s leader was close enough, the two sprang into action. One faced off the enemy while the other lifted her off the ground and sprinted into the woods. The rogues immediately set chase, to drag them back in front of their leader.

Anna looked back, just in time to see the enemy rip off her protector’s throat – an image that was forever burned into her memory. Tears crept down her cheeks and her throat muscles tightened as she let out silent screams.

When they were a good distance away, the Alpha dropped her carelessly on the ground. His deep blue eyes locked with hers, for one last request. Then in a flash, he was gone, heading off in the opposite direction to distract the enemy.

It wasn’t long before a triumphant howl echoed through the air, followed by many more.

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