Chapter 2 Friday
While repairing his computer's file system, Rom received a summons to see the Alpha Wolf in his office. If it were some trivial matter, Chaba would have just come up and talked to him about it. No. This smelled serious. Rom scanned his memory for any major infractions he might have committed against the house, but anything he might have done was more than a week ago--ancient history.
Then he remembered his hunt last night. Talbot had said there shouldn't be any wolfy stuff for the next few days, and a hunt certainly qualified as wolfy.
Rom worked on his defense as he ran down to see Chaba. I thought it was only a suggestion. No one told me it was a pack directive
Rom knocked and went into the dark, oak-paneled office..
"Rom. I've warned you about this before." Chaba stood with his hands flat on the desk. From behind deep jowls, and bushy gray eyebrows, he glowered.
"I don't understand, sir," said Rom. "This was my very first solo hunt."
"Solo hunt? What solo hunt? Later. We'll talk about that later."
"Then what did I do?"
"Have you been computer hacking again?"
Rom knew it would do no good to lie. Even if Chaba were across a football field with a stuffy nose, he could smell a lie.
"Yes sir. I can't help it. It's sort of an addiction."
"An addiction?" Chaba slapped the desk and Rom winced. " What do I have to do--convene a howl and take you to the basement for another session at the whipping post?"
Rom shuddered, recalling his one beating at Chaba's hands--'Elso Lecke', the First Lesson--the aversion treatment all werewolves receive to purge the desire to hunt and eat people. Rom remembered back to his Elso Lecke, not all that far back--right after he entered the university. His was a very late Elso Lecke. Most kids get it when they're seven or eight. All of the Cub Scouts already had theirs and they were young enough that the lesson had been taught with a hairbrush rather than with a cane.
"Well," said Chaba, bringing Rom back to the present, "must there be a disciplinary howl?"
"Good." Chaba sat. His features softened and he looked like a friendly uncle.
"But I don't see what's so wrong about hacking."
"Usually nothing," said Chaba, "but doing it here endangers the Prime Precept."
"I don't see how."
"You Don't?" exploded Chaba, the avuncular demeanor gone. "Recite the precept for me. Now."
"The Prime Precept of our people," intoned Rom, " is that to the human world, there must never be any evidence of a living werewolf."
"The wording's a little off, but yes. That's the idea, and your computer fiddling is drawing attention to our community here."
Rom's eyes widened.
"I've heard a rumor," Chaba went on, "that the FBI is here asking questions of the university."
"Oh my gosh," said Rom. "I'm really sorry. You know I'd never do anything to harm the pack."
"Yes, I know, and I don't think any harm will come this time. To be safe though, I think you should leave the campus for fall break."
"Yeah, sure," said Rom, "I can find someplace to go."
"I have a suggestion," said Chaba.
Rom knew that Chaba's suggestions would be better called 'directives'. "Sir?"
"I suppose you know what your Cub Scout pack is doing over break."
"Yes. Tea Biscuit is taking them to New York City for a few days. They're going to visit the Bronx Zoo." Rom thought he caught the drift. "And you want me to go with them."
"Not exactly. I'm afraid Bisclavret can't take them. He's been called home to France for a Grand Family Howl. Thomas will be gone for the rest of the year."
"What? Oh, too bad. Who'll lead the pack, then?"
"You will," said Chaba. "You can take off your Assistant Cubmaster patch. You are now the new Cubmaster of Pack 666, Ithaca New York. I think the responsibility will be good for you."
It took a few moments for Rom to absorb this news. "Sir. Is this a promotion or a punishment.?"
"Well you may ask." Chaba laughed. "In any case, you will take the pack to the city on Sunday as planned."
"You can go now," said Chaba, "but I want you to know that if you hack again--and I'm going to check on you every day--that if you ever try to break into a computer system again, or even look as if you're thinking about breaking in, the pack will be very hard on you. Do you understand me?"
"Yes sir." Rom, contrite, hung his head, "I'll never do it again."
"Good," said Chaba gently. "You might think I'm overreacting but once, long ago, we had to kill a member of the pack to preserve the prime precept."