After Saul, only four names remained on Zane’s list. Of course, he didn’t call the names of the guests. We weren’t important enough.
“We have much business to conduct today,” Zane said. “We will meet for approximately two hours each session, with breaks between for food and any other needs. Alphas, remember that our cardinal rule is respect. Each other, yourselves, and me. Those of you who have accompanied your alphas to this meeting, please remain silent unless asked to speak.”
A few minutes of bureaucratic procedural stuff followed. I zoned out. I dealt with enough of that kind of thing at work, since my boss seemed to think he should run meetings according to some old rulebook or something. Besides, if I wouldn’t be allowed to speak, there wasn’t much point in my knowing how the meeting would be conducted.
There was some discussion among the alphas about the bureaucratic stuff. Then they actually started the business part of the meeting. “To begin, we have a new pack to formally recognize,” Zane said. “Tobias Rogan, Alpha of the Boston North Pack, please stand.”
Tobias did. There was a little grumbling in the peanut gallery. Apparently the decision to recognize our pack as legitimate didn’t meet with everyone’s approval. None of the alphas made a sound, but I had the feeling that was mostly because Zane had told them not to.
“Tobias Rogan, for over a century the Boston North Pack has existed as a subset of the City Pack,” Zane said. “You have been indulged with the allowance of attending these meetings as alpha; however, officially you have not until this point been alpha of your own pack. As Arkhon of the Northeast Region, I now confer upon your pack official status, and confer upon you the official title of Alpha of the Boston North Pack, pending the approval of the majority of your peers.”
Of course it couldn’t be as easy as Zane just saying it was so. Even though he had the power to do just that, evidently he ran the region the same way Tobias ran our pack. As a modified democracy. Zane doubtless would have final say, but he preferred to put things to a vote.
I just hoped that wouldn’t bite us on the ass.
“Thank you, Arkhon.” Tobias bowed his head. “I am honored to have my pack thus considered, and I await the word of my peers.”
Both Zane’s words and Tobias’s were clearly part of some ceremony. As Zane had said when he’d greeted us, a lot of things in the shifter world seemed to be ceremonial. I didn’t know if knowledge of the right words came with being an alpha or if they had to rehearse, though I hadn’t heard Tobias practicing any lines. And I’d certainly spent enough time around him lately.
“Alphas of the Northeast Region.” Zane turned his attention from Tobias to look at each of the other alphas in turn. “The Boston North Pack has run under its own leadership for many years, since before City Pack existed. Rather than subsuming the smaller pack, when City Pack arrived its alpha reached an agreement with Boston North’s to allow coexistence. Throughout the changes of alpha which have occurred in both packs, that agreement has remained intact. As Arkhon and as wolf, I believe it is now time to formally acknowledge this pact and grant Tobias Rogan and his pack official status among you. Who agrees?”
The “yeas” which rang through the room sounded like they came from most of the alphas present, judging from the volume. I couldn’t help grinning. I’d been worried, but apparently I had nothing to worry about.
“And those who disagree?” Zane said.
Several of the alphas said, “Nay.” Their voices were nowhere near as loud as the agreements had been.
“Then it is agreed,” Zane declared. “The Boston North Pack hereby is recognized as autonomous and legitimate by the alphas of the Northeast Region. Tobias Rogan hereby is officially instated as Alpha of the Boston North Pack.”
“You can’t be serious!”
I recognized the voice, and wasn’t a bit surprised to hear it. Saul.
“Saul Hughes, Alpha of the Erie Pack, rise and state your complaint,” Zane said. “And remember that we respect each other in this room.”
Saul stood. He was broad-shouldered, with a dull brown crewcut that stood out against the long hair worn by almost all of the other alphas. With his back to me, I couldn’t tell much more about him than that. Not that I wanted to know any more about him.
“I apologize for my outburst, Arkhon.” Saul’s apology sounded anything but sincere. “I am concerned about placing a new pack under the rule of an alpha as weak as Tobias.”
A hand went up, and Zane nodded at its owner, whom I couldn’t see until he stood. It was Chal. “The Boston North Pack is not new,” he said. “It has existed longer than my own pack, as the Arkhon just stated. Tobias has been its alpha for over three decades, and he has ruled well, as I can attest since his territory is nearly within my own. He has shown no sign of weakness.”
“He claims a man as his mate.” Disgust pretty much dripped from Saul’s words.
“And that is weakness?” Zane raised an eyebrow.
“I believe so,” Saul said. “I don’t believe anyone who engages in such behavior is fit to govern a pack, and I will not stand for it occurring now.”
“So much for respecting each other,” I muttered to Suzannah, forgetting about the hyper-hearing.
“Silence among the guests,” Zane said, the ring of compulsion in his tone. I discovered that his compulsion had no more effect on me than Tobias’s usually did, but I shut up anyway.
“You have no choice but to stand for it, Saul.” Tobias’s expression and voice gave no indication that Saul’s comments bothered him. “The alphas have voted and have accepted my pack and me. It is done.”
“It is done,” Zane agreed.
“No fucking queer is going to run a pack.”