The fight started off really well, ‘that guy had no clue I was even there’, he thought to himself, as he ran along the packs border, on autopilot. ‘I had him dead to rights, he was exposed, and then…I just lost my cool’. He shook his head as he ran. ‘I have to do a better job controlling the rage’, he thought. ‘I use stealth and cunning to fight, I don’t just come toe to toe and bash, like some fucking idiot. I’m the darkness that waits in the night’.
After a while of running, an amusing thought came to him, well it was amusing to him at least. He was surprised at how much he wanted to defend and fight along side his packmates, ‘even that fucking asshole Jake’, he thought laughing. It truly bothered him that another pack would try to muscle in on their territory. It felt good and right to defend it, and surprisingly, with them.
He stopped suddenly realizing that he hadn’t really been paying attention to what he was doing, or where he was. He was really far out, at the edge of their territory, at least that he had marked. He was very skilled at traveling very quickly through the woods. He listened to, and smelled the area for intruders, he didn’t smell or hear any.
He traveled along the border for a couple of hours, not finding anything out of the ordinary. He began his long way back to the house, he knew he would get there at about dawn. Troy changed back into human form, a couple of hundred yards from the house, so that he would not be seen in wolf form. ‘The herd must not know’, ingrained into him.
Ken left for a couple of days to visit his grandmother down south. Everybody kind of kept to their usual routines including Troy. Three days after Ken came back, Troy came back in from patrolling that night, Troy went in and crashed until about eleven. He got a shower and went out to check the mail. As he was leafing through the usual junk mail and bills, he came across a letter addressed to him, from the US Army. The envelope looked like the address had been changed.
The other envelopes went cascading to the floor, as Troy read the letter that began with, Mr. McAllister, We regret to inform you of the death of Colonel William T. McAllister. The letter went on to list his fathers accomplishments, and to say how proud the United States Army Rangers were to have had a ‘true American hero’, be among their ranks.
Troy dropped into the recliner, mind and body numb. He and his father never really had a normal ‘father son relationship’. With Troy’s mother dying when he was very young, and his father being an Army Ranger, Troy spent most of his childhood on his own. Though he and his father might not have been what many normal families call ‘close’, it was still a huge shock, his father was in great shape after all, and Troy did love him.
The letter stated that the funeral was to be held at the Philadelphia National Cemetery, in three days. ‘That doesn’t give me much time’, Troy thought. ’That’s got to be going through alot of territories, between here and there.’ Troy mulled over the idea of just going stealthily and try to not get noticed, but then thought better of it. ‘That will be the last resort, if someone tries to stop me’,he thought.
He pulled out his cell phone, and scrolled through the names. He stopped on Heartdrinker. He put his head back, let the back of his hands drop to his thighs, and took a deep breath. “I fucking hate to do this”, he said out loud to himself, “but I don’t think there is another way. Just going back to Philly without saying nothing, would be really fucking risky. She wouldn’t have given that city to a bunch of pussies.” He took another deep breath and pushed the call button. “What’s it gonna cost me?”, he said, as he listened to the ring tone.
“Yes,” an unfamiliar male voice answered the phone. Cauldron of the Mountain Laurel Legion explained to Troy that Heartdrinker was occupied with other matters and that he would be one with whom to speak.
“I need to ask you something. I need to go to Philadelphia, in two days, to handle some personal business. I will probably need three days to a week, then I am out of there.”
“Yes, I believe that I can arrange safe passage to your hometown. But I’ll require two things. First, you go and do your business and nothing else. That territory belongs to the Nocturnals, don’t rock their boat if you get my meaning. Second, as a return favor, I want you to report to me on any activity of the Pure in your area. They once had a strong hold near your territory, somewhere outside of Ulysses. Is this acceptable?”
“I can live with that.” After he hung up the phone, Troy thought about the ‘price’, it seemed too easy, and THAT is what worried him. There was another letter in the pile of mail, one from his father’s attorney about setting up an appointment to go over his father’s estate. He set up a meeting for two days after his father’s funeral.
Two days passed and Troy didn’t tell the others he was leaving. He didn’t feel like answering any questions on why he was leaving. The night before he was to go, while everyone was deciding what they were going to do for the evening, Troy walked into the livingroom and said, “I am going to Philly tomorrow morning, I have some business to take care of there, I’ll be gone for about a week. If anything important comes up, this is the number to the hotel I am staying at, or just call my cell.” Troy dropped a piece of paper onto the coffee table. “I’m going out to run early tonight”, with that he left the room.
In the morning he caught the bus in town, and eight blissful hours later, he arrived at the Greyhound station in Philadelphia. He was on alert from the second he got off the bus, just in case someone didn’t get the memo. He got a room at the Hyatt on Columbus Blvd.
The next morning, he got done, put on dress pants, shirt, and a tie. He skipped breakfast, he didn’t feel much like eating, grabbed a cab, and went to the cemetery. As the cab pulled up, he could see a lot of military vehicles parked along side the grass. Troy was surprised at the amount of people already at the gravesite, most were military, but some were family. He estimated there were about a hundred in total.
He recognized about half of the military personnel, some he hadn’t seen since he was a little kid. He knew some of his fathers family, but not many. He and his father hardly ever visited them, and with his father being stationed all over the globe, it was hard to receive visitors.
His arrival was met with mixed reactions among the military personnel. Ones that new him as a kid, were surprised and glad to see him. They saw him as a grown up version, of the child they knew. The others that new him during his training, looked at him in distain, they did not like ‘dischargies’, honorable or otherwise. They saw the hardheaded punk son, of the man they came to honor. He could see in their cold stares, they believed Troy got away with assaulting his Drill Sargent, even though the Rangers couldn’t prove it. He thought to himself, of how they didn’t have a clue, about the far more powerful and clever thing, that now stood in their midsts.
The priest sang his fathers praises, the rifles fired off twenty one times, and then an Army Ranger Coronel, handed him the triangular folded American Flag. Troy stood their numb, as the attendees, bid their final farewell, to the occupant of the polished wood casket. Then it was lowered, and his father was truly gone.
Troy stayed for about a half an hour after, to give his thanks, make his goodbuys, and politely refuse some offers of dinner for that evening. He stayed in his hotel room for the next two days, not wanting to take the risk of getting into any trouble. On the third morning, Troy took a cab downtown to 2 Penn Center, to see Dean Weitzman, his father’s lawyer. The crux of his fathers will, was that Troy was the primary beneficiary. Troy was pretty surprised at this, he thought for sure his father would leave his money to some military charity, or fund, or something. Weitzman explained that Troy would receive his fathers pension, in installments, just as if it were his own. Also he would receive the bulk of what small amount of savings his father had.
Troy arranged for a PO Box in Wellsboro, to receive the checks, and a safety deposit box at the bank for cash and other personal items. He didn’t want the other pack members to know where his money was coming from. ’It’s none of their fucking business anyway’, he thought.