23 Last Line of Defense
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Alcide was preparing to leave for the packmaster challenge. I was sitting on the couch not really watching TV and holding a barely touched bowl of pasta. Alcide ran down stairs and stopped next to me. "You need to eat," he told me.
"It's pretty hard to do that when you might die today," I said sitting the bowl on the coffee table. I stood up and took a step towards him.
"I'm going to be fine, I promise." He touched my cheek and then leaned down and kissed me softly. "I'll be back in a few hours. In the meantime you just stay here." He sat me down on the couch and grabbed a blanket to pull around me.
I grabbed his shoulder and pulled him closer to me and kissed him more forcefully than we he'd kissed me. "I love you."
"I love you too." He kissed me again and then turned and went out the front door. As soon as he was gone I grabbed the clothes I had stashed under the couch and changed out of my pajamas. I ran out to my car and in a few seconds I was pulling out of the garage and on my way to the old barn that belonged to the pack.
When I arrived everyone was already inside and I slipped in the door without anyone noticing. A man in the front of the room was introducing JD and Alcide. I walked up to join the pack. No one seemed to realize I didn't belong; they must have been too focused on the presentation. I looked for Rikki and found her in the front row. I thought about going up to join her but I knew Alcide would notice me so I hung back. I was almost trampled by a couple of wolves dragging a teenage guy up to the front of the room.
JD had taken over the center of attention and was ranting out going back to their root and some bullshit like that. I stepped around a few people and stood behind Rikki. Alcide was so busy staring at JD he didn't even see me. "What's going on?" I hissed in her ear. She started but quickly realized who I was.
She didn't draw attention to me by facing me and spoke under her breath. "When two people are up for Packmaster we have them hunt an animal. JD has picked that kid."
"That's a person! You can't hunt a person!" I said shocked. She shushed me as my voice was rising.
"In case you were thinking this isn't much of a challenge, this kid is a track star at the university," JD said. I felt nauseous. JD wanted to kill this college student who had his entire life ahead of him. The more upset I got the more threads of emotion I could see but it was impossible to find JD's. The room looked like a spider web and I thought I was going to have a panic attack. Alcide was speaking but I couldn't hear. It felt like someone was stuffing cotton in my ears. Alcide was close and I could see him now over Rikki's shoulder and things got a little clearer, though this also meant he could see me. His eyes widened but he kept talking to Rikki. I tried to focus on what he was saying but it was still hard. "You can't drop out!" Rikki said. I understood that well enough. I stepped forward and grabbed Alcide's arm.
"You can't let him win, Alcide! He's insane!" I said.
"You shouldn't be here, Rachel," Alcide told me. He tried to push me back into the crowd but JD had already seen me.
"And look who we have here, the pretty human girl that Alcide is dating. What sort of Packmaster dates a human? It's not natural," JD said. He yanked me to the front of the room. Now that I was so close to JD and spaced out from everyone else I could find JD's thread easier. I snagged it and injected it with pain, lots of it and he feel down to his knees.
"I'm not human, you worthless piece of shit," I told him.
"Witch," he managed to get out through clenched teeth.
"Nope, try again."
Alcide grabbed me, making me lose focus. JD gasped in relief. "Stop, Rachel."
"Stop? Like he was going to stop torturing that boy?" I glanced around but the kid must have run. "He deserves this."
"This is my battle, let me fight it," Alcide told me. He launched himself at JD and the two started trying to kill each other. I couldn't separate one emotion from the other even if I had tried. JD finally flipped Alcide and had him by the throat. JD turned and ran after the kid and Alcide chased after him.
Rikki walked towards me. "You alright?" She asked.
"Yeah, I'm ok. What about them?" She didn't answer though I had a feeling we were both thinking the same thing.
Being a vampire wasn't as strange as I expected it to be. Maybe it was because Nora was right and I wasn't one hundred percent vampire. I wanted to call Rachel and tell her but Salome had taken our phones days ago and so I had no way of reaching her. Salome had us moved into actual bedrooms and I was sitting in mine that night when Bill came in. "How are you?" He asked.
"Pretty good, under the circumstances." I looked for a piece of paper and wrote down "Is it safe to talk in here?" He shook his head no and then tapped his forehead. I dropped my guard so I could hear him.
"Salome and the others are planning something. They want to take down the humans and put vampires in power."
"Who am I supposed to trust?" I asked quietly.
"No one." He said in his head, but out loud – for the benefit of anyone who might be listening in – he said, "Everyone here has your best interest in mind."
"Great," I said sarcastically. Bill gave me a look to tell me I wasn't being a very good actress. "Where's Eric?"
"I think he went to find Nora." He started to say something else but before he got a word out Salome was walking into my room.
"Oh, Lily. You must come have dinner with me," she said.
"Oh, I just ate," I lied.
"No matter, come anyways. We'll talk and I'll eat."
I glanced at Bill for help but he didn't say anything. He seemed too passive, as if he could care less about Salome dragging me off to do who knows what, not at all the Bill I had gotten used to. Salome motioned me out of the room impatiently and I followed her down the hall to the holding cells where there were at least twenty humans caged like animals. I felt sick to my stomach.
"Which one do you think looks good? I have a hard time choosing," she said to me. I didn't want to look at them, they all looked so scared. I rifled through their minds looking for someone who didn't have a family, someone who wouldn't be missed. "Well, which one?"
"Him," I said reluctantly. I pointed at a man who from what I gathered didn't have a family and had been found on a street somewhere. Salome shrugged and motioned for the guard to remove him. The guard led the man down the hallway back to Salome's room and then left the three of us alone. He was quiet, unlike the others and that made me feel worse about having to choose someone. I sat down on the couch and tried not to look as she sunk her fangs into his neck. The metallic scent of blood filled the air but my fangs didn't so much as quiver. As soon as she was finished she let his body drop to the ground with a thud and then leaned into the hall to motion for her guard to take it away.
"You're very restrained for a newborn. It's quite interesting. I would have drained a hundred men a day if my maker would have let me." I shrugged. "Ah well, of course you wouldn't have any idea about yourself. You are a peculiar case. A half-blood faeire turned vampire." I didn't know where she was going with this so I just nodded along. "It's such a shame you didn't keep a single power, Russell found that unfortunate as well after he sobered up."
"I'm sure he did. I'm sure you all did. You all just want to use me for your own gain. You want to take over the world? Fine. But you're going to have to do it without my help."
She made a tsking sound. "You are still so very fiery. It's a great trait to have in a Chancellor. I was hoping that you would join us, with or without your powers."
"You have a very interesting view point. You're the most human of all of us."
"How is that helpful?" I asked confused.
"You know their weaknesses, what makes them tick, what they fear. These are useful skills in their own right." She offered me a hand. "Join us."
I didn't trust her but I could play double agent. I could pretend to be in their inner circle but actually work with Eric and Bill to take down the Authority from the inside out. I nodded, "Alright, I'm with you."
"That's the best thing I've heard all day," she said, smiling brightly. "Oh, before I forget." She pulled a necklace out of her pocket, identical to her own, and placed it around my neck. "Welcome to the Authority."
"We should go after them. Someone is going to die," I told Rikki.
She nodded. "The pack will go after them, you stay here."
"I'm coming with you," I told her.
"You said yourself someone is going to die and I'm sure as hell not going to let it be you, Alcide will never forgive me."
"I'm so fucking tired of people telling me what to do and where to go. I chose this life and I'm going to deal with the consequences and if you think I'm going to sit on the sidelines while some crazy werewolf is possibly ripping my boyfriend to shreds you're insane." I turned and walked out the front doors behind the pack not even bothering to check and see if Rikki was behind me.
The pack was faster than me but I managed to not get totally lost behind them. Lucky for us JD and Alcide hadn't made it too far and we didn't have much trouble finding them. We could hear their voices through the trees yelling at each other and I followed them. When I finally got to the clearing I could see what was going on. JD had thrown Alcide to the ground. Alcide looked like he was either knocked out or on his way to being there. The rest of the pack was in front of me still and I ran around them. I dropped to my knees next to Alcide just as JD held up a rock to slam into Alcide's skull.
"JD, stop!" Martha yelled. I was too frazzled to do anything.
"You're going to defend them over your own Packmaster?" JD asked Martha. "He killed your son and god knows what the fuck she is." He hadn't put down the rock and I was struggling for the right web but I was so burnt out that I couldn't grab anything.
"Killing your challenger will only tarnish the whole pack," Martha told him.
"Rachel hasn't done anything but try to protect the person she loves," Rikki said. "I'd like to think you'd do the same but I'm not sure if you even have a heart."
"You're better than this JD," Martha told him. He stared at her for a second and then dropped the rock on the ground.
He leaned towards Alcide. "Find yourself a new pack," he spit. He stepped over Alcide and walked away. Most of the pack went with him leaving Rikki, Martha, Alcide and I alone.
Salome invited me to the meeting that night, my first time sitting at the table as a Chancellor. I didn't get the chance to tell Eric or Bill beforehand and they both looked surprised to see me there when they came in. They sat on either side of me and Salome nodded approvingly. "Alright, now that everyone is here, Nora will you start us off."
"Mainstreaming is a problem around the world. We need to begin contacting our friends globally if we want to combat this disease affectively."
The Chancellors launched into their own ideas for fighting the mainstreamers. Kibwe suggested we have vigilante groups patrolling and willing to kill any mainstreamers on the spot. I bit my lip wondering why I'd ever trusted him; he was just as bad as the others. I wanted to kill vampires as much as I wanted to kill humans, not at all. I remembered sitting in Sookie's dining room talking about Rachel's future and my own. We had planned on being friends forever no matter what but unless I figured out how to take down these power hungry monsters I was going to lose every friend I'd ever had.
"Lily, any suggestions?" Salome asked.
"Everyone's ideas sound good. I don't have the connections you all do, obviously."
"Obviously," Nora said annoyed. There were a few vampires I wouldn't mind killing. I started poking around in everyone's heads but there wasn't any relevant information. Bill was looking off into space and I peeked into his head though I didn't much like doing that, but instead of finding thoughts I found a solid wall. Only someone who knew I would be looking would be able to block me out like that and I glanced at him, he had to be hiding something.
"Tru Blood," Bill said.
"What?" I asked. He didn't look at me.
"It's much simpler than we were all thinking. All we need to do is get rid of the Tru Blood." I glanced at Eric who had the same bewildered look I was sure I had. "There are only five factories. If we bomb them it will force mainstreamers to feed on humans."
Everyone else at the table looked excited and they all began making preparations. I grabbed Eric's hand suddenly terrified there was no way I could take down the Authority as I was hoping. Eric squeezed my hand reassuringly but I knew he was as worried as I was. Even if the odds were against us and we were facing a group of crazy people alone I was so glad I wasn't going to have to do it all by myself.