The challenge

“Is that so?” The Alpha of the pack asked, coming out from the shadows. He always had this way of blending perfectly into the shadows and revealing himself only when he wanted to do so.

“Yes, it is. I’m sure it is obvious to everyone here. Not so?” He growled at the pack at large, but no one answered. Instead, they all turned their gazes away and busied themselves with doing something else, with most of them doing things that did not even need doing.

“You are treading a dangerous path, my boy.” The gamma of the pack, Sophia’s great-grandfather said solemnly. He was an old man, who was very wise and had led them in many battles before. Now, he served as an adviser of the pack, and pretty much everyone revered him enough to obey what he said. Jonas, however, was no longer in reverence or awe of him, it seemed.

“Shut your goddamn mouth! I’m the beta of this pack and I have the authority over you in case you failed to notice. I didn’t ask for your opinion and so I will not let you stick your nose where it does not belong.”

“Alright. That’s enough! I will not stand by and have you talk to my father, who incidentally is your grandfather that way. No, I won’t. If you have something to say to me, say it out loud and stop messing around.” Sophia’s grandfather said, walking up to where his son stood in the clearing in the moonlight and looking at him eyeball to eyeball.

“You’re damn right I have something to say. Here goes. I do not think you are fit to rule this pack at all. I hereby ask that you step down as leader of the pack or if you refuse, I challenge you to a fight to the death.”

A sigh escaped some of the pack members, who stood by watching the scene, but nobody was surprised at all. In fact, everyone had been low key expecting Jonas to pull this stunt with the way he had been behaving lately.

“You don’t have to do this, Jonas. You do know the gravity of what you’re doing, don’t you?” Thomas asked, his face sad, but his expression resolved. If his son wanted to be an absolute fool, then there was nothing that he could do about it.

“Is that fear I hear in your voice, father? Can you all see the person who is leading you?” He asked the pack at large, pausing as though waiting for an answer, but when none was forthcoming, he continued his speech. “So, do you accept my challenge or should I make you?”

“What has come over you, Jonas?” Thomas asked.

“Nothing. I just see things the way that they are.” Jonas replied. He turned to face his grandfather as the man got up and moved over to where the two were talking.

“Jonas, you might want to reconsider this. The path on which you are treading never ends well. What are your reasons for saying what you are saying?” The old man asked.

“Aren’t they obvious? I have the future and continued survival of my people at heart. If you were not a senile old fool, who knows nothing better than to sit in the dark and give dumb pieces of advice, you would have known that this pack is headed for destruction. The alpha here is not doing what is best for the pack. Take, for instance, that half-blood over there.” He paused, pointing in Sophia’s direction, and almost causing her heart to stop. She ducked back into the house and remained there, heart slamming against her chest as she continued to eavesdrop at the door.

“Had he listened to me, he would have made sure that we got rid of her even before she was born. Now, our pack is not safe because of her, and he is still refusing to get rid of her because he has gotten attached to her. Why would he keep jeopardizing our entire existence all because of this slip of a girl?” Jonas continued.

“You seem convinced that Sophia is going to bring us misfortune. However, she is a mere child…”

“You’re wrong. She’s a full-blown adult. She turned eighteen two months ago, remember? Yet, she can’t shift yet, and neither does she have any other traits of ours. At this point, I’m not even sure if she will ever shift.” Jonas interrupted angrily, his eyes darting this way and that as though he was waiting for something in the shadows beyond them.

“Apart from the fact that she can’t join in fights so that she will not be mortally injured, I don’t see what this has to do with anything. She does not hurt anyone, but most importantly, she is still our blood, in case you forgot.” The gamma put in.

“She’s not my blood and never will be,” Jonas said, spitting. “No human will ever be a blood of mine. I stand by what I said. She is a big threat to us, and I say that we get rid of her, but your beloved alpha here prefers to risk the lives of the entire pack than to get rid of just one person, who incidentally, is the person making us vulnerable.”

“With the way you are going on about this, it almost seems as though there is something that you’re not telling us. Pray, tell us what is it, Jonas.” Thomas said, eyeing his rebellious son and trying to read him. Yes, there was something this child was hiding. 

“Why should I, though? As the alpha of this pack, shouldn’t you be the first to know when something is off or something is about to go down? Look, all this talk is serving no purpose. Are you willing to surrender to me, or will you fight me for the position?”

“Why are you in such a hurry, my boy? In the future, you will certainly be the alpha of this pack, although, with the path you’ve decided to tread, I’m not sure that is a possibility anymore. As it is, the only reason the alpha hasn’t torn you to pieces by now is that you are his son, but don’t push your luck.” The gamma said sorrowfully.

“I’m practically begging to be torn into pieces if he has the mind to fight, but I guess he’s too chicken. The future of all of us is in my hands. I know something that nobody else knows, and I'm the only one who has the power to avert the certain doom that is coming to you all. You’re my family, though, and so, I will not sit by and watch anything bad happen to you all.” Jonas declared, looking around at the members for support, but nobody was ready to support him. No one wanted to support a madman.

“I will never surrender to you. If this is the way you want it to be, then I readily accept your challenge. I will fight to the death with you since that is what you wish for.” Thomas said finally. He had tried his best, and there was nothing more that he could do to dissuade his beta from this.

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