Accidental Surrogate

Chapter 188


I lean over the back of the sofa in my quest suite, my hands closed in white- knuckled fists around the
frame. My phone is lit up on the table in front of me, Gabriel’s name glowing on the screen. Hugo and
the Black Alder Alpha, Callahan, stand beside me, looking on with somber expressions. “Talk to me.
What do we know?”

“It’s bad, Dom.” The Vanaran King reports. “My spies say that all signs point to utter ruin. Civilians are
fleeing the territories in droves, and the governments they’re leaving behind are scrambling. The packs
have all fallen to Damon, and the human regimes are considering extreme action to hold off the

“Do they not realize what they’re up against?” I demand. “After all, the upper echelons of government
have always known the secret, they know h0w far ahead our SOcieties are.”

“And they’ve been planning contingencies.” My father interjects. “Sovereigns from other continents are
offering their aid, there’s been talk of employing weapons of mass destruction… of secret laboratories
working for decades on projects inventing next-gen arms capable of combatting our own. They’ve been
preparing for this sort of eventuality since day one.”

“And what have they come up with? Any weapon deadly to shifters will also be lethal to humans.” I
remind them.

“From what we can tell, even the best of their labs haven’t come close to matching the sophistication of
our technology.” Phil!ppe reveals. “They’re at least fifty years behind. But that’s less important than the
likelihood that they’ll deploy them anyway. Some we can stop and neutralize- others we shield against,
but there are others still that we cannot defend against once they’ve been deployed, only try to mitigate
the damage.”

“Im afraid things are reaching the point where the humans may very well decide to abandon their own
people left under Damon’s rule, for the sake of taking him out once and for all.” Gabriel cautions,
answering the second part of my question. “They see them as lost causes, collateral damage.”

“That’s ũnconscionable.” I snarl. “What kind of leader would contemplate k!lling their subjects so
indiscriminately, as if they’re nothing more than pawns in some larger game?”

“It’s containment.” Ella chimes in, her sweet voice clashing with the harsh words. “They’re panicking
and they want to fight fire with fire. Damon isn’t holding back no matter the impact on the shifters under
his rule, and the humans are being faced with the choice between losing some of their populations, or
having the entirety enslaved.”

“As we said.” Roger sighs, “things are worse than we ever could have feared.”

“Are the pathways out of the continent still open?”

I inquire, trying to quell my wolf’s rabid energy.

Are we still able to bring refugees to Vanara?”

“We need more planes.” Dad replies. “One trip a day isn’t enough anymore, and we need to allocate
more funding to supporting them once they arrive.”

“Authorize it.” I order, knowing my voice sounds harsh and biting, but unable to help it. “Has there been
any word from packs on the other continents? What of the rebellion?”

“Dom, our spies are reporting all the same intel that Gabriel’s are.” Roger shares, “the rebellion is all
but in shambles after this… there’s a strong undercurrent of anger and hope among our allies back
home… they’re eager to fight, but right now our biggest concern is making sure they live to fight
another day.”

“We’ve had word from the Veran King.” Gabriel adds, referring to the continent west of Vanara.

He’s eager to speak with you. Things haven’t devolved to violence there or in Sevka, but the human s
are in an uproar around the world. They’re anxious about our future.. they’re willing to offer any help
they can to get this under control.”

“Thank the Goddess for that.” I breathe, even though I don’t have the first idea how to do such a thìng.
The only thing that comes to mind is inventing a time machine and going back to kit Damon before he
ever got a chance to put any of his diabolical plans in motion. If I hadn’t been such a noble we
could have avoided all this.

“What are your orders, Alpha?” Phil!ppe inquires, his voice full of belief that I will have some sort of
answer. I’m grateful for him, but also at a loss.

“Ella?” I ask, wishing I could see her. “You know the ways of humans far better than we do. Do you
have any thoughts?”

There’s a short pause, and then her silken voice floats up from the device. “People are afraid, and right
now they see us as their enemies… as monsters from horror films who are all cut from the same cloth
as Damon. I think the best thing we can do is show them that they aren’t suffering alone. Show them
that Damon does not reflect all shifters, and that our people don’t want him in power any more than
they do.” Another pause, and I can imagine my mate’s beautiful face scrunched up in deep thought. “I
think we should extend our rescue operations to include human civilians.

Reach out to every state and local government you can to offer aid, whether it’s money or resourcès,
and publicize it. We need shifter allies, but I think human allies might be even more urgent now.”

“Well put.” Dad praises, “we need to combine PR with diplomacy and hard line action. This isn’t just our
fight anymore.”

“Do it.” I agree. “I trust you all, authorize whatever funds and resources we can, and put out feelers to
contacts throughout the continent. Forward me any correspondence for approval before sending it out,
and have our spies start spreading the word on the ground. Half of Damon’s strategy is propaganda
and fear mongering, we can counter it with a whisper campaign of our own. Don’t let people lose hope,
don’t let Damon convince them we’re enemies. Print up flyers supporting the rebellion if we need to,
whatever it takes.”

There are a few mumbled agreements, and when a hush falls I turn my attention to the person I want to
speak with most. “Can I have a minute alone with my mate please?” I request, though it’s actually an
order. I listen as the men on Ella’s end of the line shuffle out, and wait for the Black Alder Alpha and
Hugo to leave as well.

When we’re finally alone, I ask. “How are you holding up, trouble?”

“I’m a little overwhelmed.” She admits in a soft voice, “I never imagined thĩs could happen.”

“I don’t think any of us believed Damon would be so reckless.” I share, feeling more at ease now that
we can speak one on one. “I always knew it would be a disaster if he came to power, but I have to
confess this is so much worse than I feared.” I don’t add that I hate not being able to fix it, because she
already knows. “I need to see you tonight.”

“I’ll try my best.” Ella promises with true longing, as though she wants nothing more herself. “I’ve just
been so tired with all the summon it planning and the refugees. I’m out the second my head hits the

“I know baby.” I sigh, feeling guilty even though I know a dream date would comfort us both. “I suppose
I shouldn’t keep you half awake in dreams all night anyway… I just miss you.”

“I miss you too, so does Rafe.” Ella relates, “He asks for you- in his own way – about ten times a day.”

“Maybe I can record some purrs for you both, so it can feel like I’m there even when I’m not.” I suggest.

Ella’s breath catches, and I wonder if she’s been struggling even more than she admits. “I’d love that.”

“Then it’s done. As soon as we’re off the phone.” I vow, wanting nothing more than to spend the rest of
our call talking about each other and our pup, but knowing there’s still some business left to cover.
“How are plans for the summit going?”

“Well, for the most part.” Ella reports. “Everyone’s looking forward to the ball and Roger is helping me
plan some especially sneaky events to win over the reluctant Alphas. Though we’re going to have to
reevaluate a few things now.” She pauses, sounding wistful. “And the Black Alder pack?”

“Alpha Callahan was reluctant to join us this morning.” I say ruefully, “but it seems he’s had a change of
heart, what with the pact being broken expect the Alphas here are going to be much more motivated to
help us now, as shifters living among humans are probably going to be looking for an escape – and
what better place than the hidden territories?” I glance at the door, recalling the tense conversation I’d
shared with the Black Alder Alpha Over breakfast. “Vanara is the last place on earth shifters Can exist
in secret now, and for the first time in the history of the hidden territories, their own society is at risk
because of events in the rest of the world. It’s an important wake-up call.”

“Then maybe some good can come out of all this pain.” Ella assesses sorrowfully.

“I hope so.” I agree, wishing I could wrap my arms around her, breathe in her wonderful scent.”But for
now we just have to wait and see. This is a new world we’re living in, and if we can save it then it will be
up to us to build a new, hybrid society unlike anything before seen in history.”

“And if we can’t?” My precious mate squeaks.

“Im not going to let that happen, Ella.” I remark firmly. “Il die first.”

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