Rick looked on unhappily as Sebastian shoved his thick cock up Ron's ass as far as he could. He pulled out, and repeated the move, never giving Ron a chance to adjust his position over the saddle of the bike. The ridge on the gas cap bit painfully into his side. Ron was obviously in pain, gritting his teeth, struggling to keep from yelping at the un-lubed pounding his butt was taking. It was just as obvious that Sebastian didn't care. Rick shook his head and turned away.
Time was when he'd have been the one under Sebastian, and glad of it. Of course, the breeding would have been tempered by something like affection... or so Rick told himself. At least, Sebastian had made sure he was comfortable, and often sucked him off after filling his muscled ass with 'baby batter', as he called it. Rick winced at the term.
Now, he seemed to take pleasure in satisfying himself at another's expense. He was often horny, though the excessive alcohol seemed to dampen that some. He and the others had experienced increased libidos, so by itself, that wasn't strange. But Sebastian seemed to be out to prove his dominance, more than anything else. Certainly pleasure wasn't his goal. Rick had no way of knowing, (and in fact, neither did Sebastian) of what duties that Sebastian had as a daddy to new weres. His insistence upon dominance was in part his unconscious and misguided attempt to fulfill those responsibilities.
And Sebastian's scent seemed to have a hold on them all. He and the others might not like it, but the scent bound them all together. It seemed to quell their feelings of unrest and they just accepted the situation and followed direction. Rick wished he knew more about weres, but asking Sebastian about anything was a delicate matter, and perhaps Sebastian didn't know himself. It wasn't as if they were slaves, more that they were pacified by it; and what the scent didn't accomplish Sebastian made up for with charisma.
Rick had tried talking with the others about this, analyzing the reasons for their behavior; but it was obvious that they didn't have a clue as to why they just went along with Sebastian's plans. Rick's musings were proof that he still had some independence left, some sense of free will. Rick had realized that Sebastian, in another situation, could be a cult leader. He fervently hoped it never came to that. A small band of werebears was one thing, Jim Jones was another. Perhaps all cult leaders started out this way. Originally, not really bad people, but ones who needed the adoration of others to feel good, to make up for something they felt they lacked.
'Ever since he's changed other guys, he's changed.' Rick thought. 'When it was just us, he was... different, kinder.' Sebastian had been loving once. In those days, the two slaked their sexual thirst with each other's cum. Sebastian had cemented their renewed relationship by explaining what he was, showing Rick the might and power of his new form and deliberately discarding the condom the next time they had fucked with the promise that Rick too would be powerful... and whole.
Rick didn't object; after all he was a drifter, with no home and no family to speak of. A clubbed foot had dragged at him all this life. It dragged at his attempts to fit in, dragged at his half-hearted attempts to make friends in school. When Sebastian, handsome Sebastian, popular Sebastian, had paid attention to him in school, he'd glowed. His starved personality blossomed when Sebastian was around. Their first sex had opened Rick's eyes to an unimagined world.
He worshipped Sebastian. He'd stayed around Windsor after graduation, doing odd jobs. Then, Sebastian was convicted and jailed; but he stayed around until Sebastian's sentence was up and he'd been released. Of course, there had been that other guy in prison. In retrospect, Rick realized that guy had fulfilled the same role in prison as Rick had in school and after. He was the one who had given Sebastian the 'gift' after they were out and Rick guessed that he'd given it because it was the most precious thing he could lay at Sebastian's feet. Had Rick been in the same situation, he'd have done the same, offering his were seed up to Sebastian.
Looking back now, it was obvious that Sebastian had been looking for someone to pay him homage. Rick had slowly come to realize that Sebastian needed him as much as he needed Sebastian, if for much different reasons. Then, Rick had only dimly understood the kind of person that Sebastian was. If Sebastian used others, Rick overlooked it; because Sebastian provided him with something he'd never had before, the feeling of being wanted and needed. Even at his worst, Sebastian truly seemed to want and need Rick's presence and adoration in a way that went beyond simple ego. When Sebastian told him some of the changes he'd need to make in his life, Rick just shrugged. He didn't much care for his old life anyway.
Once Sebastian was out, Rick assumed things would return to the way they had been before. That didn't quite happen. Sebastian was distant. He moved in with that guy from prison, and saw Rick less and less. He never called, and rarely stopped by Rick's small apartment. But when Rick heard that the guy from prison had died, Rick swallowed what pride he had left and went to him. He still hoped he could rekindle some of what they had had before Sebastian went to prison. His heart soared when Sebastian took him in his arms and embraced as though they'd never part again.
Rick hoped Sebastian would get interested in settling down somewhere, anywhere after he'd put his seed in him. But Sebastian seemed to have other ideas; he changed other guys, strange, silent guys; or cringing subservient ones.
One of those guys, named Benny, had disappeared and all Sebastian said of him was that he didn't work out, that he was crazy and that he'd told Benny to hit the road and to not come back. Rick suspected it was the change that it made Benny unstable rather than merely having brought it out as Sebastian claimed. Rick had pressed for answers, asking "What's Benny gonna do? He'll be on his own for his first change ... why run him off? He could be a loose canon and cause trouble." Sebastian had assured Rick that Benny would be just fine, he'd make his own way in the world. Rick continued to ask more questions. Already drunk, Sebastian got angry and threatened to beat Rick up for questioning his decision to cut Benny loose. It wasn't until Freddie was killed in front of him that Rick suspected Sebastian had killed Benny before his first transformation.
Still, Rick stayed with Sebastian as the group grew. They moved around, fueling their needs with cash from petty robberies. Much of Sebastian's character made Rick uneasy, but still there was that pull that even Rick only partly understood.
When Rick became a werebear his clubbed foot changed, vanishing with his first transformation, and for that Rick would be forever grateful. Rick accepted what he was now as the price for that, and for Sebastian's continued affection. It made him sad that Sebastian seemed only to want to drain his balls into one or two of the others then drink himself stupid, instead of laying with him and spending the night making each other's cocks sing with happiness. Lately, Rick's attempts at intimacy had only been half-heartedly returned. The killing of the old man in the liquor store had shifted his feelings towards Sebastian and kept him from repeating the overtures. The strain between them festered.
The loud grunts snapped Rick out of his brooding and told him Sebastian was nearly done. The gasp and sigh from Ron signaled the conclusion. Sebastian pulled out, wiped his cock on the tail of Ron's black T-shirt and growled out, “Was it good for you?” and then briefly snickered.
Ron pulled his pants up and replied, “I came.” But Rick could tell that, though Ron had indeed ejaculated, it was likely because Sebastian had pounded it out of him rather than any real pleasure the man had received.
“Heh, we're all sluts, Ronnie, aren't we?” Sebastian said.
Ron agreed unenthusiastically, buckled his belt and walked somewhat tenderly over to some bushes to relieve himself, and to get out of Sebastian's way.
Rick knew that Sebastian's next move would be for the booze, and he wasted no time, knowing that Sebastian was likely to start swallowing malt liquor at an alarming rate.
“Hey, man. I thought you said we were gonna lay low for a bit, somewhere quiet. How comes we're heading for Missoula?”
“Don't worry, I got a plan.” Sebastian said, still looking about.
Sebastian gave a rock a vicious kick. “Why is there never enough MONEY?!” Sebastian's voice rose as he spoke, startling the rest of the gang.
“I thought we had enough for a couple of weeks?” Rick said.
“I did, too. But it was all fives and tens under the hundred in that till. We was robbed.” The irony of his words utterly escaped him.
“So what are you figuring on doing?”
“We gotta hit someplace soon. We'll need cash to buy in with my buddy in Cali. Maybe a bank. But not here. Someplace out of the way, I think up in Canada. We'll head north after we clear Missoula. I don't want to go through the border crossing on I-15.” He reached for a St. Ides.
Rick spoke softly. “Aw, come on, man. Don't drink any more of that shit. Why not you and me just spoon a little and get some rest. We been ridin' all day, and you look beat, Sebastian. Come on.” Rick put a big hairy hand on Sebastian's shoulder.
For a moment, Rick thought Sebastian would reject the proffered peace offering, but he turned to face Rick. For some reason, Sebastian's eyes softened and he almost smiled. He took Rick's face in his big hands and kissed him softly, passionately and when he broke the kiss his eyes were still soft and a little distant. They looked sad... and then it was gone, replaced by his usual countenance.
“Yeah. Maybe we should rest. Tell those bozos to settle in and get some sleep. And tell 'em to watch those bikes. You and me can sack out over here,” Sebastian said, gesturing to the ramshackle shelter that was off to one side of the abandoned rest stop. It was typical of Sebastian to claim the most comfortable place for himself, but at least this time, he included Rick.
After telling the others of Sebastian's intentions, Rick returned, and the two stripped and settled down. It was, if you worked hard enough editing the image, almost like old times, Rick thought to himself. He shifted into half form, hoping that Sebastian would take the hint and join him. When he did, Rick smiled happily and propped their bed rolls as pillows. Sebastian pulled him to his chest with Rick's backside nestled up against his front. He wrapped his muscular, furry arms around the smaller bear and settled down, a heavy, furry leg bent and resting on Rick's thigh. Rick didn't dare hope for sex. This would have to do. For now, this was enough.
As he drifted off to sleep, the image of Steve in Sebastian's mind finally faded, and he no longer heard the soft reproach of his voice and no longer felt the ache in his heart at his loss. Emotional numbness brought by drink or simple sleep was a reprieve from Sebastian's life-long sentence.
In the bushes on the other side of the road, little Bobby held very still. He had been on the verge of returning home when the noise of the motorcycles caused him to hold up. His curiosity was piqued. The sight of eight very rough looking bearded men mounted on loud, mean looking bikes had caused the naturally shy boy to fade into the bushes, but held his attention. Their rough masculinity had filled him with fear and fascinated him at the same time. He knew he should be on his way home, before his daddy noticed his absence, or his older brother noticed his missing air rifle, but still he stayed and watched, ever so quietly. Somehow he knew his safety depended on remaining unnoticed. There was an almost steady breeze this evening, and although Bobby didn't know it, his position upwind was keeping him safe from detection by acute were noses.
His young eyes had seen things his young brain could make no sense of, things youngsters were never intended to see. But one extraordinary image was burned into his young brain, assuring he'd never forget it; the sight of not one but two men taking their clothes off and changing into what looked very much like bears to his eyes. The Discovery Channel had taught him all about bears, but it had shown him nothing at all like this.
The stars came out and the snores of the men signaled that sleep had finally overtaken the bikers. Across the road, with stealth beyond his years, Bobby crept slowly and silently down the embankment and across the field towards home and the beating he was sure to get from his daddy. Already in his mind, he was framing the story of men changing into bears to be used in fending off or delaying the expected punishment.
- - - - - -
Boris' house was sited on a bluff overlooking Shuswap Lake, north of Anglemont and east of Kamloops. Boris' few neighbors knew him as a friendly but somewhat aloof person; a very successful investment broker who had retired at an earlier than usual age and had purchased this house and land to have a quiet place to pursue his hobbies of writing and wildlife photography. They were correct on all but the age.
Boris Sborovsky was closer to 300 years than the 50 he appeared. He had been changed in Czarist Russia by a member of Catherine the Great's Palace Guard. Boris was a low level member of the court who had caught the eye of the burly and handsomely bearded captain, Alexander Pivnik. They had been secret lovers until Catherine had Alexander imprisoned and executed for 'unnatural acts'.
In the palace there were many secrets and some not even Catherine The Great, Empress and Ruler of All the Russias, knew. One such secret was that the court physician was, in fact, not altogether human. The executioner approached Alexander and fitted the rope around his neck, then threw the lever that opened the trap door. The physician grimly examined the body and pronounced Alexander dead. The doctor was very positive about his pronouncement and that satisfied the palace official who presided over the execution. When all had left, the physician quietly motioned for Boris to enter the room, and gave him a slow wink. He smiled, placing a broad hand on his shoulder, then turned and exited, quietly closing the doors behind him, leaving Boris and the now rapidly healing body of Alexander alone together.
Boris had smuggled the 'body' out of the guardroom after the footsteps of the guards faded down the long corridor, substituting the corpse of an injured serf who had frozen to death begging for bread in the streets. He fit well enough into the coffin, and received a better burial than he might have otherwise. When the four serfs arrived to transport the coffin to the burial site, Alexander and Boris were long gone.
A reassignment to a small city east of the Urals was quietly arranged for by the physician. It allowed for Boris and Alexander to live quite happily and somewhat obscurely. The court all but forgot about Boris Sborovsky; they certainly had forgotten about Alexander Pivnik who was, of course, dead and buried. But Boris had never forgotten his anonymous benefactor's kindness, and he always wondered about that wink.
After more than a century in Russia, they fled the Revolution and had lived most of the subsequent years in eastern Europe, until Alexander had been killed during waning days of World War II. Both had been caught in the same frenzied mortar attack unleashed by retreating SS troops, but Boris had survived. Alexander's injuries had been overwhelming in spite of Boris' frantic efforts. Disliking the advancing Soviet takeover of the east and it's empty promise of a 'people's paradise', and desolate at the loss of Alexander; he migrated to the United States shortly after the war. He settled in upstate New York, but an unfortunate incident there had forced his move to Canada in the late 60's; and his current persona had him working in finance in Toronto until his 'retirement' in the late 90's. A business hunting trip to Kamloops with clients had introduced him to the area, and he settled there once he retired.
"Boris always DID know that the secret to a good buffet is 'quantity'," René said, loading his plate with another scoop of potato salad. The impressive living room and the deck just off it, with their spectacular views, made a beautiful setting for what was to be a serious meeting. "Do you know who those guys over there? Is the blond one Vic?"
Robert nodded while adding more rumaki to his plate. "God, I love these things," he said, popping another one in his mouth and chewing. He swallowed. "Yes, that's Vic and his cub, Walt. The other two I don't know. I don't think Boris invited them. I'll see if I can find out."
René glanced again at the new werebears a bit suspiciously, but said, "It is not necessary, mon ami. I'm sure Boris will introduce us all. Hand me that pan will you? There's more in the kitchen." René took the empty rumaki pan with a smile as Robert's hungry eyes followed him.
Once all the bears had worked their way through the buffet, they made their way to the large living room. The chairs and couches were soon filled with the invited and uninvited bears as they sat, balancing large buffet plates heaped with food.
Robert sat next to Vic, the couch sagging somewhat under the added weight. "So... why are we here?" Vic asked.
"I'd rather Boris filled everyone in, I think. But you need to tell us about your friends. But wait until Boris... oh, wait," Robert looked over to the doorway where their host had just appeared, "here he is now."
Acknowledging the greetings he received, Boris held up a paw. "Before I begin, I need to make the introductions. We know each other, of course, but Vic has brought some new members of our family." Boris paused a moment to clear his throat and there were a few whispered exchanges as he did so. "Walt, some of you know; he's Vic's cub. That handsome dark haired bear next to Walt is his cub's cub, Mitch. Gentlemen," Boris indicated they should stand.
They did, briefly. Mitch was embarrassed.
"I feel we're intruding, in a way," Mitch said, unconsciously leaning a bit closer to Walt.
"No, you needn't feel that way. Vic assures me we can depend completely on you. Coming from him, that is high praise. It's certainly enough for all of us." Boris next looked at Rusty and Moose.
"But these two are a different story. Vic tells me they are both very new weres, changed under some, ah, very unusual circumstances. This is Moose, and his mate Rusty." Before they could rise, René spoke up.
"Boris, I thought you called each of us here because we were older, experienced bears. It is wise, do you think, to have these unknown quantities participating? How do we know we can trust their discrétion? They have no background, no experience with ze life of ze were." René's French Canadian accent was getting the better of him, as it usually did when he was agitated.
"I agree a hunnerd percent! This is just askin' for trouble." Larry, spoke with characteristic bluntness. Moose started to growl, but Vic put a restraining paw on his thigh before he could say anything. Vic's voice rose over Larry's Texas drawl.
"Look, I can see how this could be worrisome for us all. I know there are good reasons for wanting only older experienced werebears dealing with serious issues. I appreciate everyone's concern. It's true, neither Moose nor Rusty have had much time at all as werebears, Rusty has only just made his first change…"
Before he could continue, Larry spoke. "There. Ya see? Y'all admit these guys are just cubs fresh outta tha den. I think..."
Boris spoke firmly. "Larry, let Vic finish." Vic nodded in thanks at Boris, but Larry didn't sit.
"For reasons that are kinda complicated, I just didn't feel I could leave these guys on their own. Besides, Rusty hadn't made his first change when Boris called; that happened on the way here. I had to bring them." Vic took a slow sip of his beer and then looked directly at Boris and Boris alone.
"If you think my new kin shouldn't be here, for security or any other reason, well and good. They will leave, with no hard feelings and no delay." Moose nearly jumped up, but this time, it was Rusty who restrained him. "But if they go, I'll go too." Vic sat.
Boris looked worried. "Vic, there's no need for that. They can easily stay here, and..." Vic interrupted.
"No, these bears are my family and we need to be together just now. Maybe it's just best if we leave now."
Walt and Mitch started to get up as the room was filled with bearish voices, arguing loudly. The weres that knew Vic personally, Boris and Robert, were inclined to allow the new weres to stay, at least to hear what the problem was if not to participate in its solution. René and Larry, who had not met Vic before this day, were opposed.
Boris took control of things. "Bears, please!" The room went quiet, "This is… unseemly. We always welcome new our new brethren, yet here we seem to be driving the newest of our family away. I propose a compromise. Moose and Rusty are very welcome to stay here for a long as necessary, and that they be permitted to at least hear what brings us together. They may as well know both the negative as well as the positive side to their new lives." Such was Boris' position of respect in the werebear community that there were reluctant murmurs of agreement from René and Larry. "Afterwards, we can discuss our new kindred in more detail.” There were a few more mutterings that faded away. Boris cleared his throat. "Gentlemen, we have a rogue bear."
There was a somewhat stunned silence that was finally broken by René. "This is indeed a serious business. We haven't had a rogue in many decades, at least a hundred years. Is this certain?"
"It's closer to a hundred and fifty, the incident during the gold rush in Colorado." Boris interjected and some of the bears nodded knowingly. "When Robert came to me with this information, I, too, was doubtful. We police ourselves well, and the old legends give us both stern cautions as well as sound advice. But Robert assured me that the facts were not to be disputed. There is a werebear, named Sebastian, now living in Montana, who is changing men, some of whom are not kindred. His purpose appears to be the creation of a sort of gang, and he appears to be calling attention to himself and his 'family' through criminal activities. Already, there has been unwelcome attention. We all know we cannot just let human justice take its course, but things are getting more tangled by the day, it seems."
A chorus of voices rose, all questioning at once.
"Where are these guys?"
"Who are they, do we know their names?"
"What criminal activities?"
"Whyer we pussyfootin' around? We need to git movin'."
"Have you had contact with this guy, Robert?"
"Yes, has anyone confronted this guy?"
The hubbub grew. Vic's voice rose over the others, "Yes. We need more information. We don't want to walk into this blind."
"Way ahead of you." Robert looked around at the gathered bears, and Boris raised a paw for quiet and nodded that he should proceed.
"I've made it my business to find out everything I could about this guy, mostly because Steve was a dear friend. This Sebastian is some piece of work in a nasty, thuggish sort of way. Sebastian's always been in trouble... school, work, you name it. Always small stuff, nothing really big; and he's a charming guy, he was usually able to talk his way out of any major trouble; but it adds up. A number of run-ins with the police, mostly small time stuff again, but enough so that when he was convicted of breaking and entering, his record got him a two year stretch in the state prison at Windsor." There was a rustle among the bears. "Ah, I wondered if that would ring a bell with someone."
Mitch nudged Walt and whispered, "What's Windsor? I mean, why should it ring a bell?” Walt just shrugged and returned to listening intently.
"For the benefit of those of you who may not know, a bear friend of mine, name of Steve Branson, was in Windsor, back in Vermont, serving a ten year sentence. There was a notorious case maybe 12 years ago, popular local politician got himself killed. The guy was a real sleazeball, kiddy porn, some drugs, too; but that wasn't known at the time. He was popular back then. BIG outcry, demand that the police DO something. Eventually, Steve was arrested and charged with the murder."
Robert looked at Boris, who indicated that he should continue.
"See, Steve had killed the guy, but it was in self-defense, not murder. He'd confronted this guy over a drug deal involving the daughter of a guy Steve worked with. In the struggle, Steve partially changed. Somehow, this sleazeball politico escaped, then started to blackmail Steve. You know, 'Five big ones in a bag, or some people find out what you really are'. Anyway, Steve confronts this guy again. This guy has gotten silver bullets from somewhere, has a cross, the whole nine legendary yards; and he starts taking shots at Steve. Well, you know how strong Steve was, and what a temper he had. It truly wasn't his fault, and the lawyer worked his butt off and got the charge reduced to manslaughter, though he wasn't able to get the jury to go completely with self-defense. The DA's case was sloppy and politically motivated, but there were some things that our lawyer just couldn't use in evidence, forensic stuff mostly. Too risky for Steve; and too risky for us." He looked at Rusty and Moose. "Being a werebear has its problems, too."
"The judge wasn't happy, he and the DA were golf buddies. He gave Steve the maximum sentence he could; ten years. We even tried to arrange a prison break of sorts before they had a chance to transfer Steve, but they moved really fast, getting him out of there and into Windsor before we had a chance to organize something. The best we could do was to let him know that we'd take care of things for him while he was in, and once he was out, an 'accident' would be arranged so he could disappear and start life over someplace else."
Rusty whispered intently to Mitch. "What's all this got to do with us and the rogue?" Mitch shrugged, and Walt shook his head and put his finger to his lips.
"The last two years of Steve's sentence coincided with Sebastian's two year term. Sebastian's gay, and he knew he'd need some protection inside. He'd been assigned to work in the creamery, same place as Steve. He was attracted to Steve. Boris doesn't think so, but I really think there must have been some feeling there. I just don't see Steve not sussing out a complete fake. Anyway, Sebastian and Steve get along, then they become more involved. I don't know if they had sex while they were in prison, but I DO know that by the end of Steve's sentence, he really had fallen for Sebastian, and Sebastian professed love for Steve. They agreed to set up together once Sebastian got out, about a month after Steve. Steve asked us to postpone the 'accident' for a while." Robert paused.
"When I talked with Steve, it was obvious to me that he had real feelings for this guy, and that he believed that Sebastian had feelings for him. 'This is real,' he said to me. Well, Steve always was a romantic, but I believed him. I didn't trust Sebastian, but I believed Steve. So, when Sebastian got out, no one was surprised when he moved in with Steve. Whether Steve explained what he was to Sebastian while they were in prison, or afterwards, I don't know; but Sebastian was willingly changed by Steve. Later, before he made his first change, we staged the 'accident' that let them disappear and start new lives. That wasn't easy, by the way." Robert looked at Vic. "We really need to get someone into databases and shit like that. Arranging new identities used to be easy. Now it's getting harder and harder."
"Anyway, and this is the ironic part, Steve and Sebastian move to Montana, get jobs and start new lives. Steve's working construction, Sebastian is in retail. Things are good for about six months. Sebastian seems to be turning over a new leaf. Then bang!, Steve gets killed by a falling beam on a construction site. Skull crushed. A fake accident 'kills' him, and then the real thing comes along and actually does." Robert shook his head. "Some of us traveled there to see Sebastian, offer any help we could. Now, I never liked Sebastian from the start, but Steve loved him. And he DID seem to be making a clean start; and he was family now, so we made the trip."
"What happened?" Moose asked, speaking up. Rusty elbowed him in the ribs.
"Sebastian disappeared. We got there and he was gone, cleared out. No funeral arrangements, nothing. All of Steve's stuff was left behind, just a few pictures were missing, as far as we could tell.” Boris nodded. “We had a hell of a time getting Steve's body released for burial because none of us were family. We all knew we couldn't just write Sebastian off, but it took a while to find him again. When we did, I more or less dedicated my time to keeping track of him. I felt I owed it to Steve, and I just knew we'd have to do an intervention sooner or later. I'd no idea what he was up to, though. It wasn't until later that I found out he was changing guys. That's when I got in touch with Boris."
"Robert, I know you kept close tabs on Sebastian, but no one suspected what he was up to, so don't feel bad." Boris said, "Apparently, he's very... convincing."
He smiled at Robert, then turned to the rest of the bears. "We know that Sebastian has changed some of his cronies from prison or maybe guys he'd known on the outside before. If it was willingly or not, we don't know, but I suspect that at least some of them had no idea. Robert tells me he knows for a fact that at least some of them aren't kindred, and that at least one became so wild in his first change that Sebastian had to kill him. It's never a good idea to change someone who isn't kin, of course. I know others have disagreed with me, but the legends tell us that ones who aren't kindred will often go mad if they are changed and here we have the proof. I'll bet anything the one who went mad wasn't kindred." Boris growled in disgust.
"So. They function as a criminal gang, petty theft, the occasional convenience store or small bank. It appears that he deliberately changed four or five other men so he could have a gang of sorts. Some criminal activity is easier when you're a werebear, I guess." Boris paused and took a drink.
Robert spoke again. "What makes all this so bad is that now he's killed someone local, I mean local to him in Billings. He killed an old guy who ran a liquor store. Why he did it doesn't make sense. The old guy didn't own a gun and in previous robberies he cooperated completely. I can only guess that the store owner saw something, maybe one of them changing, and Sebastian decided he didn't need any tales of werebear gangsters floating about. Really, really careless on their part, that's the first thing Steve should have taught him and probably did, but Sebastian isn't the sort to listen to 'authority'. His response seemed to be to kill first and think later."
Boris set his drink down. "This is why we are all here. We have to do something, before it's too late."
René leaned forward. "I agree, we must do something. For obvious reasons we cannot leave this to the authorities. Do we know where to find them?"
"Well, as of two days ago I did," Robert explained. "They've holed up in an old ranch house outside of Billings. I think they don't plan on staying long, so they may have moved. We should move fast."
René interrupted. "Wait. I know this seems urgent, but we must consider carefully. Our sudden arrival might scare them off. And we ourselves aren't exactly inconspicuous; we may make suspicion in the minds of the town."
"Oh, Billings is big enough, I doubt we'd be noticed that much," Robert said.
"Perhaps. But my concern runs deeper. What do you propose we do when we get there? Discuss politely with them? Fight? It does not seem that they would be amenable to the friendly chat." René said.
Vic, who was more astute than he sometimes appeared, caught a whiff of some other concern under René's words. Mitch, too, felt there was more to this than met the eye, or ear. He leaned over and whispered to Vic. Vic nodded.
Boris spoke next. "Let's be frank. We all know what this means for us, what's at stake here. We cannot let the local authorities take care of this. Imagine the consequences if a policeman, or several policemen, reliable witnesses, saw a change. Or if one or more of Sebastian's gang were to be seriously wounded and taken to a hospital, or attended by a paramedic." Boris turned to Moose and Rusty. "One of the reasons there are such strong prohibitions against criminal activity among our kind is to avoid situations just such as this. Our deeply rooted customs of self-policing arise out of our need to be inconspicuous, unnoticed by the general population. Our survival depends on it."
René spoke up. "But, to kill?"
Shocked, Rusty leaned over to Mitch and said, "What does he mean, 'kill'?"
René's were-sharpened ears caught the comment and replied. "Yes. I said 'kill'. We all understand what Boris and Robert are leading to, even if you do not. I do not fault your lack of knowledge, for you are young and new to all this. But Boris, and Robert, too, I think, feel that we must do something soon; and what choice does he present to us but to eliminate these rogues?" Robert nodded, but Boris was still.
"Boris, we had discussed this before," René continued. "There are too few of us to idly consider reducing our numbers further..."
"Not 'idly' at all, I assure you," Boris interjected.
"And even more of an issue is that of were killing were. It goes against much of what we fundamentally are.” René's voice rose with his excitement. “We may need to kill these rogues, but I beg you to consider it only as a last resort."
There was a moment of silence, then it seemed that everyone spoke at once. The hubbub increased until René's voice rose above it.
"Our traditions strongly discourage bear killing bear. Always there have been too few of us, and we are ever-mindful that such violence brings unwanted attention from the rest of the world, especially where there are so many legends and superstitions about werekind."
Boris looked around. "I have never liked violence, but I fear that in this situation, we have no choice. Even if they saw reason and agreed to change their ways, we would always have to be watchful of them."
"At least let us give them that chance," René all but shouted. Larry jumped up to answer him.
"Y'all know where ah stand on this. They're a threat to us, ever' one. They violated one of our oldest customs. We cain't let the public deal with it. It's up ta us. We gotta kill 'em an' do it soon, 'fore they kill again or someone finds out 'bout 'em... or us." René glared at Larry, who stared back, eyes flat.
"Bears, BEARS!" Boris said. "This gets us nowhere. Please, René and Larry, sit. René, I know you are loath to kill weres. You come from a long and distinguished line of werebears, and your words carry great weight here. Under most circumstances, I would agree wholeheartedly with you. But Larry has a legitimate point. This endangers us all. And not just us, but werebears everywhere." The big bear turned next to Vic.
"Vic, you have been quiet. What are your feelings?"
Vic rose and spoke. "I feel much as René does." Here, René smiled and looked at Larry almost in triumph. "Our blood and seed give life, and we should think carefully before taking it away. But I have to agree with Robert and you. It appears that we may well have no choice here." Vic sat.
"Walt? Mitch? Would you like to add anything to our discussion?" Boris looked expectantly at the two. Vic hadn't been wrong in judging character yet, and he was interested in what these two might have to say, given Vic's endorsement of them.
Walt hung back, but Mitch cleared his throat and spoke up.
"I know that none of you know me, and it is true I haven't had time to learn much about being a werebear yet. But before this guy here gave me my life back..." Here, Mitch gave Walt's shoulder a squeeze and Walt looked down and blushed. "Before that, I was a geneticist. I would think that even a cursory bit of blood work would reveal to a tech or a doc that the patient or body he was working on wasn't exactly what it appeared to be. So there is a very real danger in a police confrontation and shootout of forensic work being done at the scene. Obviously, people in Billings who might see one of the gang change would open the door to all sorts of unwelcome questions." There were nods from the other bears, but Mitch knew he was going over old ground. "I hesitate to offer a suggestion here, but..."
"No, please. Go ahead," Boris nodded. Mitch took a deep breath. He knew there had been comments about 'the new bears'.
"Well, what about a compromise? We go to Billings and confront these guys. We're prepared to do what we have to, but we give them the chance to reform. If it becomes obvious that they aren't interested in that, well..." Mitch left the obvious unstated. "But, they have a choice then. Robert said that some of them might not have known what was going to happen to them when they had sex with Sebastian. The unwilling ones might not want to continue with Sebastian's little plan. After all, they only have Sebastian's view of what it means to be a werebear. We give them an out by offering the gang a chance. Any who do agree might need to be 'adopted' so that they learn from more experienced bears and perhaps in this way, they can be salvaged, but I don't expect that Sebastian is salvageable. From what has been said of him, he's a bad seed and is likely to try to charm his way out. Then, as soon as he feels confident, he'd turn on us. Anyway, that's the way I see it." Mitch sat, and Walt kissed him, pride in his eyes. Vic murmured quietly, "Good cub!"
Boris looked at Mitch appraisingly. First, it took guts to stand up among strangers who were both more experienced and perhaps less than completely welcoming. Second, his idea had a great deal of merit. Finally, it had been expressed quietly and with conviction, not heated emotion. This was a bear to watch.
There was some further discussion, with Larry still holding out for immediate termination of the all rogues, but in surprisingly short order, the consensus was reached that Mitch's suggestion should be the course of action, at least for now. Later, as the bears were relaxing on the deck as the sun went down, Boris spoke with Vic.
"Your Mitch has his head, as you say, 'screwed on correctly'. Where did your cub find him?"
"Oh, Mitch and Walt go back to high school, but they've only been back in contact with each other for about six months. Walt had a thing for Mitch in school, but Mitch never knew. They met up again at a class reunion."
"Well, he has much sense and what you Americans call 'spunk'. It takes guts to speak up like that in front of a crowd like this." Boris gave Vic a bear hug. "Thank you my friend, for bringing them."
Larry interrupted them. "Hey, you ol' Czarist bastard. You still got that hot tub downstairs?"
Boris chuckled and said, "Yes, and it is all fired up and hot."
"Woo-fuckin'-HOO! Let's git nekkid!" With a whoop, Larry bounded off towards the stairs, shedding bits of clothing as he went.
"He may be a gun-toting redneck and a hard-liner, but he's got some good ideas," Robert said, as he pulled off his shirt over his head and followed the Texan bear down the stairs. Rene followed him.