17 The Voice of Reason
We were unloaded roughly from the back of an armored vehicle and pushed through the doors of the concrete building. It didn't look like much and was not at all what I was expecting to be the head quarters of the Authority. A vampire met us when we went inside and walked towards Nora. "Salome," Nora said. "They're more valuable to us alive than dead. I never had any attention of betraying-" Salome silenced her and stepped towards us.
"Mr. Compton, Mr. Northman, I've heard much about you both. But you my dear are quite elusive; no one can ever get their hands on you. You have the life don't you? All the perks of being a vampire, without actually losing your life. Now which one are you? You have a twin, yes?"
"My name is Lily," I said.
"Well, welcome Lily." She motioned us to follow her. We walked flanked by guards down the stairs and into an elevator with a lock that seemed to analyze her blood. The elevator opened to reveal a reception office which was much more how I pictured the Authority's office to look. It was business professional and many people passed through on their way to other parts of the facility. I was intrigued and under any other circumstances this might even be exciting. We were led through complicated hallways till we finally reached a room full of cells. The four of us were each tossed into matching, silver barred cells. I collapsed to the ground and lay there for a second still in shock.
"Ew, what the fuck is she doing?"
"It's a were ritual, the way they send off their dead," Luna told me. "But I agree it's not pleasant." She went over to Sam who had fallen down and inspected his wounds.
"I think you've done enough here," one man said stepping towards Alcide. "Why don't you take your loner ways and your little human girlfriend back to Mississippi?"
"Gladly," Alcide said grabbing my hand and starting to step into the trees again.
"If I ever see your face around here again I'll rip your throat out myself," the man said. Alcide tensed but I tightened my grip on his hand and pulled him a little into the woods. But before we could get father than a step Martha was walking towards us.
"You killed the pack master, as the new pack master you have an obligation to eat," she said. Alcide turned and stepped towards her slipping his hand from mine.
"I have no interest in being the new pack master, find someone else." He turned and walked back to me.
"There are laws!" Martha called after us.
"Screw the laws," Alcide said without looking back. I followed him through the trees and back out to the street. We found his car parked next to Luna's. I got in and turned to face him.
"Is that true? You're the new pack master?" I asked.
"That's what the laws say."
"Don't you have to then? Isn't there some Authority that can force you?"
"This isn't vampire politics, weres are different. I won't be pack master."
"Why do you hate it so much, being a werewolf I mean?"
"You saw them back there, savages, animals. If I could get rid of this part of me I would but this was how I was born. Werewolves don't get a choice in what they are, not like vampires."
"Fairies don't either. Sure I like what I can do sometimes, but my life would sure as hell be a whole lot easier if I was normal."
"So you understand."
"But Alcide, don't hate yourself." I touched his cheek lightly. "You're an amazing person, you're kind and you aren't at all like them. You make the most of what you are. It kills me to see how much you can't stand yourself when I love everything about you, even the parts that you don't."
"You like to make everyone think you're the frigid bitch, but you aren't. You're hurting just as much as the rest of us but you just want to make everyone else hurt a little less. I don't know how you do it."
"I guess we go together then."
I sat against the wall in my cell bored out of my mind. If they wanted to torture information out of me this was the way to do. I'd surely break any moment now, I'd been sitting in the same spot for hours without a single thing happening. Even Bill, Eric and Nora had stopped talking. Then a voice spoke over the loud speakers, I hopped up quickly.
"Welcome Mr. Compton, Miss Compton, Mr. Northman. I do wish you were all here under better circumstances. Mr. Compton, tell me why is it you and your party made contact with Chancellor Gainesborough?"
"I took her prisoner when I crashed the car; I thought she might be useful. Nora has done nothing wrong," Bill said.
"There were people meeting you at the docks, where were they taking you?" The voice asked.
"No idea," Eric said.
"Please, let Nora and Eric go. They had no choice in what they were doing. Lily is human, what help could she possibly be to you?"
"And the lies continue," the voice said disapprovingly. Suddenly lights came on in all the cells and the vampires around me were screaming, covering themselves with their jackets as best they could.
"Eric! What's happening?" I screamed through the bars I knelt down beside the bars and tried to reach my hand towards him.
"UVs!" He groaned. I looked up at the light above my cell. The Authority sure did know how to torture vampires, and sitting here watching Eric and Bill suffer while I was unable to help was my torture. The lights went out for a second giving everyone time to heal and just enough time for them to think they were off the hook for the time being before they flipped back on again and the screaming continued.
It felt like hours later that the lights finally went out and a few moments after guards appeared to drag each of us to interrogation rooms. I was sat in a chair in the middle of a concrete room. There was nothing in the room that could hurt me but I guess it would be unneeded; the vampires were faster and stronger than me. A man around his mid forties entered and held out his hand, I stared at him a second before realizing he was waiting to shake my hand. "I am Kibwe Akinjide," he said introducing himself. "I am sorry about the pain we had to put your friends through but my colleges needed to show them what we are capable of."
"Why are Eric and Bill so important to you?" I asked.
"Mainstreaming is the principal that the Authority was founded on. We want to coexist with the humans. Mr. Compton and Mr. Northman are seen as threats to our cause."
"But that doesn't make any sense. Bill and Eric are some of the most mainstreamed vampires I know. Bill's been trying to blend in with the town he left decades ago, he has human friends and he contributes to the town. Eric owns a touristy bar, people fear him a little but it's all part of the gimmick. Humans love a little fear. Not to mention they've both been in relationships with humans."
"But you aren't human."
"I'm half human and that's enough for me."
"Tell me, how did you come to know what you were?" Kibwe asked.
"Bill figured it out. Then later Claudine showed up, a full faerie, and confirmed it."
"What can you do with your powers?"
"This really doesn't seem to pertain to the topic at hand," I said avoiding the question.
"You're right of course but you see the Guardian finds you interesting."
"He believes you have the potential to be the ultimate vampire, assuming that you keep the traits you already possess. You are stronger than you let on and we believe that as a vampire you will be stronger and more talented than any other vampire ever known, even some of the ancients."
"So basically you want to use me as a guinea pig to see if it's possible to create a whole other race of vampire-faerie hybrids."
"The Guardian wants someone to become his heir so to speak, he thinks you might be it."
I paused for a second letting all of this sink in. "I still don't quite understand what this has to do with the investigation into Bill and Eric."
Kibwe sighed. "Have you heard of the Sanquinistas?" He asked.
"Nope," I answered.
"So, Bill and Eric are not part of this group?"
"I pretty much know everything about them; I would've heard them mention it before. What is a Sanquinista?"
"The Sanquinist are a group of fundamentalist vampires who follow the literal translation of the vampire Bible, they believe humans are nothing but food. We believe that Chancellor Gainesborough is part of this movement."
"That's definitely not Eric or Bill but Nora…I don't know."
"Has Nora mentioned the movement?" Kibwe asked.
"Not in so many words. I've only know her for a day or so but I overheard an argument between her and Eric and she was upset that I was a human. She said that humans had no place in a vampire's life. That sounds a whole lot more like what you just described than what Eric and Bill do. If you're accusing them of being Sanquinist I'd think again, Nora should be the one you're looking into."
"We will take this into consideration when making our final judgment." He stood to leave.
"Please, don't kill them. I'll stay here if I have to. You can do whatever you want, use my powers as a human or turn me. Just let them live. They've made mistakes but so has everyone; they're just trying to help."
"Here I've been thinking that you were their pet human, they want to protect you no matter what, but really it's the other way around. You protect them and they don't even notice how hard you're trying. Maybe you're right about those two being pro-mainstreaming." He got up and left the room motioning for one of the guards to lead me back to my cell. When I arrived Eric and Bill were already there.
"You two look like shit," I said.
"They pumped out veins with silver," Bill said.
"These guys aren't messing around," I mumbled.
"Did they hurt you?" Eric asked.
"No, they just asked me a few questions. They really wanted to know about my powers but I wouldn't tell them anything. He finally just gave up and asked me if you guys were part of the Sanquinista movement. Obviously I told them you aren't, that's ridiculous. As if it's not evidence enough you're lugging a human girl around with you. They want me to become a vampire though."
"You mean they want to use your abilities for their own gain," Eric said.
"They think I can be a super vampire, if I keep all my powers."
"And if you don't you'll no doubt meet the true death," Bill said.
"But if I could make a trade-" I began.
"If you were to be made by anyone other than someone you trust completely you would be forced to do whatever they asked, your powers would be exploited and you would never be free. Please tell me you aren't actually considering this. We aren't worth it, Lily," Bill said.
"The Guardian will see you now," one of the guards said coming in. The cells were opened and bags were placed over our heads, we were led to a room where the pushed us to our knees.
"Let the girl sit," a man said. I was pulled back up from the ground and placed in a comfortable chair. My guard removed the bag from my head and I looked at my surroundings. There was a table full of vampires and a small sitting area where I had been placed; Eric and Bill were knelt between me and the other vampires. Nora was there too, away from the rest of us. One of the men, the one I assumed was in charge began speaking in a strange language and gave each vampire at the table a drop of blood. He began talking about Nora and I tuned him out, I was too interested in the décor, there was an odd symbol on the doors not to mention the weird blood ritual. Bill had taught me the basic of vampire government but this was an all new territory. I was interrupted from my survey of the room by Nora being dragged away scream across the room. The vampire, who introduced himself as Roman was listing off the things Bill and Eric had been charged with; rocket launchers on main street, the festival of tolerance, Nan's death.
"Excuse me," I said. "I saw the witches myself. My sister was even possessed by one of them; the threat was very real and very dangerous. They were the ones behind the festival of tolerance turning out the way it did. What Eric and Bill did, attacking the witches store, while reckless was what they thought was best. The festival did turn out badly but in the overall causality count very few people were actually killed and even less actually know about it now."
Everyone was staring at me; I guess you aren't supposed to interrupt the Guardian. Roman smiled though. "You little faerie are quite a surprise aren't you? I like you, you have spunk. You know much more about these two than we do, I think you'll be very useful. You're well spoken too, that spiel of yours made plenty of sense. Tell me though, if we were to say that the festival was all the witches fault and that the attack on Main Street was the only choice to contain the threat, how do we explain the last charge? Nan's death?"
"Self defense, doesn't that deserve a lighter sentence? And Nan told us herself she was next on your list of vampires to receive the true death, they simply helped you with that."
"But still she was Authority. Chancellors what do you think? Miss Compton may have a future career in law yet."
The redheaded woman spoke first, some country bumpkin nonsense until she got to the important part. "The true death for these fellas."
"They destroyed a very real threat to all vampires, as Lily pointed out," Kibwe said. "And as we know there was extensive efforts to conceal what happened. No one knows and the event possibly saved our lives."
"The killed an Authority member!" The child yelled.
"As Lily said she was on her way out, really they did us a favor; we didn't have to get our hands dirty."
"You can tell we've been debating this topic among ourselves," Roman said. "Mainstreaming is the most important thing for vampires. It is vital to maintaining the survival of our species. The fundamentalists are heading down a dead end road, we tried that for centuries and it isn't working. Mainstreaming is the answer." He paused and glanced at me. "You aren't going to interrupt?"
"I was waiting till you finished," I said with a shrug.
"By all means have the floor."
"Eric and Bill make mistakes, we all do. Yes, they make a few more mistakes than the average person but overall they're doing what they think is right. If they were human they'd have a following of people supporting their cause, but because they're not their actions tend to not always have the effect they were hoping for. They have their head in the right place. They aren't fundamentalists or Sanquinistas. As I told Kibwe, Bill is constantly giving back to the small town he's from and now lives in again. He spoke to the veteran's descendant's society just last month about the civil war and they love him and he loves them and Bon Temps. Eric owns a gimmicky bar that sells over priced food and drinks and thrills people just as much as a haunted house does, tell me that isn't extremely American. They are mainstreamers just like you. I really don't see what reason you could possibly have for killing them is. Put a closer watch on them; make it easier for them to get help when situations like the witch one occur. Doesn't the Authority have a 911? There are many other options besides the true death and at least with these two you know what you're dealing with, with any other vampire put in their position you never know."
Roman nodded considering. "Do any of you have anything else to say before I pass sentence?"
"I propose an exchange," Bill said. "Our lives for Russell Edgington."
"Russell Edgington is dead," Roman said.
"Sheriff Northman and I put him in the ground but he was still alive."
"He has now broken free," Eric said. I wanted to hit my head on the coffee table or stake Bill myself, all that diplomacy on my part ruined by him adding another charge against him. And this time I wouldn't be able to fix it because I hated what they had done about Russell too, maybe even more than the Authority did. If Bill had just let the Guardian pass sentence, there was no way he couldn't have seen the light in my arguments.
"Ignore me if you wish but of all the vampires that could ruin your mainstreaming agenda Russell Edgington is the most psychotic and powerful of them," Bill said.
"Why would you keep him alive?" Roman asked.
"The true death was too good for him, he deserved to suffer."
"For two vampires that are so involved in mainstreaming you do not consider the repercussions of your actions. Russell may have deserved his punishment but the world does not deserve Russell. There is nothing more than I wish is to stake you right now, but I unlike you can control my feelings."
"Russell will want revenge; he will hunt us down and when he does you will be there to end him. I believe that mainstreaming is the goal but it will not be possible with Russell alive. I fully expect to meet the true death either way but Russell Edgington must be stopped."