Episode VII - Sudden
Jasper and I had trained together for about two or three weeks; it was hard to keep track of time as a sleepless vampire. Though I had all 24 hours a day now, the fact that waiting wasn't as restive or tedious as it had been as a human, I couldn't tell how fast time was actually moving. It also didn't help that I was suddenly capable of moving at such a fast pace, or that I could still not control my thoughts and emotions.
"NO!" Jasper shouted again as he grabbed my neck. "You would've died there."
"What am I doing wrong?" I frowned. Once Edward had gained some confidence that I could somewhat sort through my chaotic brain, he had asked me to try training with Jasper. The quietest of the vampires was their greatest fighter with decades of experience in combat. He feared that with my uncontrollable emotions and lack of mastery in melee, or my thirst for that matter, I would be an easy target for the Volturi. It would be a tough battle and we would be completely outnumbered, so there were no spare units to protect me.
"You never let any fraction of your back face your enemy. That gives them an opportunity to attack," Jasper sighed. "You better hope your brother is as bad at this as you are." I knew that would not be the case.
"I'm sorry, maybe you and Alice can show me again," I half-joked, attempting to bring levity to the otherwise grave truth that my brother could kill me almost instantaneously if he wished.
I knew that I could learn to fight, I could train to use my fearful ability to compel my opponents. Like Alice and Edward, I should have an advantage that would allow me to win an overwhelming battle, completely outnumbered. Unfortunately, my advantage was also my biggest flaw. Unlike Alice, I had absolutely no control over my gift. I saw the tiny girl fight, and it was incredible. I thought she would be the weakest, but she hardly moved when she faced Jasper, her eyes closed and swaying her body only slight seconds before the bigger blonde attacked her. When she got bored, she kissed him in the neck and said, "Oops," and just like that, she beat the best fighter in the Cullen family.
Every day that passed, I felt more and more helpless as my training - both mental and physical - had gone nowhere. While I had good days where I could go without mistakenly tapping into someone else, I also had terrible days were Jacob's tainted blood tantalized my lips.
"I think we should stop for now," Edward broke our sad excuse for a fight. He and Bella would always stay besides me when I trained, and the instant he saw my mind clouding with the thoughts or feelings of others, he would intervene. Jasper was able to keep his emotions at bay with his confusing ability, but his mind was a vast territory of unexplored horrors.
"Thanks," I mumbled, unable to look into the eyes of my trainer for fear of his disappointment and enfeebling memories of death and burning flesh.
"You're finally improving," he said kindly, though I knew my abilities were far below what he wanted. "You can finally defend yourself from Nessie...maybe."
"Ouch," Bella chuckled.
"I'm sorry I'm such a burden in every way," I frowned. I couldn't fight, my abilities were a downfall to every fighter on our side, and my depression and anxiety for my brother's safety left me defenseless. The Cullen's had a better chance of winning without me.
"That's not true," as always, Edward rescued me from my debilitating self. "Without you, Brad is sure to be against us. You're our only hope to turn him to our side."
"And if I fail?" I already knew the answer to the question, but I wanted to hear it. I saw that few of the Cullens, Esme, Alice, and Carlisle had no intention to harm or even attempt fighting my brother, but the others were different. Jasper had Brad as his primary target, fearful that if his abilities overpowered Siobhan, the Volturi were sure to win. Edward was blinded by his need to protect Bella and Nessie that he was willing to kill anyone necessary to do so. Rosalie and Emmett seemed less willing to harm him, but they didn't think there were any other options.
"You can't fail," Jasper scowled, though he knew I would and had no intention to wait for me to do so.
"You won't fail," Jacob grinned. "If you really think your brother is like Leah, he'll come around."
"How did you-" I was startled.
"Wolves share thoughts," he smiled. "I don't know what you did, but I think you're the first person she doesn't hate."
"I...I didn't do anything," I mumbled. If anything, she should hate me most for the horrible way I treated her.
"She won't fight him," he reassured me.
"The alpha's order is not always guaranteed," Jasper chided.
"She doesn't need an order, unlike some people," I spat out. I instantaneously regretted what I said. It wasn't like me to attack people this way, but lately, I've found myself less like the David I used to be and more like who I was afraid to become.
"I will only do what I have to in order to protect this family," Jasper said roughly.
"What you have in mind is unnecessary," I challenged, planting my legs firmly in the ground. If we fought now, I would surely lose. Edward placed a hand on my shoulder as if to remind me to come back to myself and out of the dense swarm of pervading senses.
"My thoughts are not necessarily what I will do," he dismissed me.
"Jasper!" Alice shouted out. Her interruption was exactly what I needed to clear my thoughts and try to restore my own mentality. "They've changed their decision! Come in, we're talking with everyone!"
"Let's go," he nodded, and we all followed him and Alice back into the small apartment. We had to rent out a whole new room with the number of people who joined us. There were a large group of us now, many with powerful abilities like me and Edward. Some of the vampires had asked why we had not moved to Forks in Washington where the Cullens' home was, but there were many reasons such as putting the citizens there through more than what they deserved. Bella's father and friends lived there, along with Jacob's family. The other wolves were there as well, and while I didn't fully understand the relationship between the two packs, I knew there was some tension and it was decided that it would be best to leave them out. Though I knew we would benefit from the addition of an entire pack of wolves, the enmity was best avoided. Jasper also thought it would be better if they fought in a field unknown to the Volturi, which would give the Cullens a slight upper hand, and we needed all the help we could get.
"They've decided to come sooner than expected," Alice said concerned. "Jasper, will you go over the full battle plan with everyone?"
"This time around, we're lucky to have some extra help," Jasper said pointing out some of the vampires. They were all new to me, and I couldn't get all of their names down, but I knew that a few were new even to the Cullens. At this point, I spent every spare minute with either Edward or Alice. This was the only way Jasper would trust me, and even then he would supervise us at times. The sheer number of things I had to deal with increased dramatically as more vampires poured into the tiny home. At the roughest times, Edward would take me out hunting, or ask some of the other vampires who had similar abilities to help. One vampire, Zafrina, who I've quickly grown accustomed to would often attempt to help me, but even her mysterious ability to cloud one's thoughts in serenity could not break through the squall.
"This is Fred," the one called Tanya introduced a young, blonde vampire. "He is very talented." She was one of the members of a coven who also feasted purely on animal blood. Their golden eyes were reminiscent of the Cullens, and like us, they were tied with a strong bond.
"Please, it is nothing," the athletic vampire shook his head.
"Fred?" Edward frowned as he studied the new addition to the team. He was familiar. He was trapped in a tiny home with over twenty other vampires, each one fiending for blood and brimming with ire. They all hated each other, but were forced into creating allies, only for the sole purpose of their survival. But he knew they were just toys, their lives were soon to be sacrificed for someone's selfish deed, but he didn't care. He only wanted to be freed from the misery of what he had become. Luckily, his ability could protect him, but alone he was capable of nothing. However, a young girl would always be besides him, as though they made a tacit agreement that they would be allies. She was weaker than the others, and would surely be killed given the chance. He protected her, shielded her with a noisome cloud that he quickly learned to control.
"You're Bree Tanner's friend," Edward gasped at the vision that was racing before my eyes. Bree Tanner? The young girl hiding behind Fred with her many books. Her loathing and spite towards the Volturi was obvious. She knew their motive, she knew that they wanted nothing more than to eradicate the Cullens, and in her final moments she shared that with Edward.
"I was hoping that would not come up," he frowned. "I apologize for what pain she may have caused you, but I am willing to forgive her death if you forgive our attack."
"We wanted to help her!" Bella shouted out instantly. I had no idea who Bree was and I hadn't the slightest idea of what they spoke, but I saw the horror of the Volturi. Four hooded figures, crimson eyes burning through the blackness. The smallest of the group stared at the tiny girl curled up on the ground before the Cullens. Pure anger and wretched agony filled those demonic eyes as she demanded the girl be destroyed for her sins.
"Dave," Edward whispered to me, again placing his supportive hand on my shoulder.
"I'm okay," I lied, shaking through the hazy memories that clearly did not belong to me.
"Unfortunately Jane would not allow someone who knew so much about the Volturi survive," Edward added.
"I see," Fred nodded. "So it was fate that I come here to fight the Volturi to avenge her death. I hope my powers will be of use to you all." Suddenly, the room filled with a noxious feeling. I could no longer see Fred in the room, and the worst feeling was exuding from the spot where he once stood. The cloud was an amplification of the way he shielded the girl with the books. The pain of leaving her behind and knowing she was dead was apparent inside of him. We all had a reason to fight the Volturi. We were all robbed by their maniacal schemes, and it made me believe that we may actually win.
"That is his talent," Tanya smiled.
"What? What can he do?" Bella asked.
"Of course she protects," Tanya laughed. "This is great news for our battle!"
"Interesting..." Jasper grinned. "His powers will surely be put to good use. I actually wanted to discuss the new ability the Cullen family has come across."
"I am very interested in your newborn's powers," the one called Zafrina, said. Along with Alice and Edward, she had immense difficulty in mastering her powers, and she proved to be a valuable asset in helping me control myself. "The Cullens seem to stumble across many talented vampires."
"Yes, quite the luck," Carlisle nodded.
"Luck is hardly the word," Jasper scowled.
"Jasper, please," Edward frowned.
"It's ok, I get it," I muttered. I couldn't imagine the torment Leah went through knowing everyone felt about her the way Jasper felt about me. There was no hatred, but a vile distaste in my decision to become a vampire and my inability to fight. He knew I would be more of a threat than a help, and he did not want me involved, but his family went completely against his wishes. I knew how he felt, I knew what it felt like when all you wanted to do was protect the important people in your life, but they wouldn't listen. He dealt with this his entire life. It was easy to deal with when the newborns would not listen, but when his loving family betrayed his wishes, it was harder to accept. No, to me, it was unconscionable.
"Dave!" Edward's hand pressed tightly into a shoulder I could no longer accept as my own. "I-Dave!" he shouted out as his knees buckled and he collapsed on the ground.
"Edward!" Bella screamed out in fear and I felt him slip away. The hand was gone, the smiling face in the shadows vanished into the carnal mist of my convoluted imagination.
"Bella no, he needs me!" the unfamiliar voice echoed through the violent screams of all the dying people, of all the vampires suffering a second death. Tearing flesh, the smoky ash of burning bodies, spilling blood quickly lapped up by those lucky enough to avoid the flames.
"Is he doing all this?" Senna, a member of Zafrina's coven gasped as Jasper snarled wildly, held firmly down by the Romanian vampires. Alice stared in horror.
"Unbelievable," Benjamin, another gifted vampire with the ability to control the elements smiled. "I see that our chances of winning are more than good with these new additions to the team."
"Let's not get cocky," Jasper would say to them. The woman in the flowing dress would smile at him.
"My dear, they stand no chance to your military genius," she said.
"Dave, please focus!" the strange voice kept echoing randomly into the vision. I wasn't myself right now, these memories were not my own, but I wanted to continue, I wanted to see what events would unfold.
"I need you to get rid of him," she said. Who was she talking to and who must be removed?
"Jacob! We need you!" the same prodding voice echoed.
"I'm sorry," Jasper's heartache filled the entire room as he reluctantly ended the life of another member of his coven. No, he wasn't murdering this one; he had already murdered him when his teeth sank into him, ruining what would've been a great life. What he was doing now was the monstrosity of once again stealing what could have been with the tiny bit of life he was able to regain as an immortal. Every conversion was nothing less than murder. Every vampire he subsequently killed, he was barbarously murdering for a second time. I was a monster.
"Dave!" I recognized this voice, the warmth, and the radiance of the sun's heat penetrating the hardened earth.
"Brad?" I looked into the dark eyes of the smiling face before me. I couldn't remember what my own brother looked like, but the voice was so familiar.
"I look nothing like you, I have beautifully colored skin and a beating heart," Jacob flashed his trademark smile. "I'm not a lifeless, marble statue."
"You're slightly outnumbered to be talking like that," I grinned.
"I underestimated you," Jasper looked at me, intrigued. "But don't think I'll let you do that again." I finally understood where his antagonism came from, but I couldn't quite grasp exactly what just happened.
"You're getting stronger," Edward smiled, though I knew he was worried. My growing abilities would be a concern to anyone fighting alongside me until I could learn to control it. Mid-battle, I could compel every member of our army and lead to the consummate death of everything we strived for. This is everything he feared. Edward frowned. "I guess I can't hide anything from you anymore."
"Annoying, isn't it?" Jacob scowled.
"Mind control, what an ability," one of the larger vampires chuckled, as Jasper composed himself.
"Let's not get cocky," Jasper repeated the words he told the ostentatiously dressed female years ago. Edward's grip on my shoulder tightened, and I nodded, assuring him I could keep my mind in check.
"The Volturi also has acquired some new allies. One of them is Dave's twin brother, and he has strict instructions that nobody attack him. He will take care of the brother himself." He paused and looked at me. His plan had not yet changed, and we both knew it, but he continued to put up his facade.
"Unfortunately, like Dave, his brother has some nasty powers, which we are assuming Bella cannot protect us from. But, Dave claims that Brad will fight on our side," again he looked at me with eyes of distrust. "We may not be able to count on this so-"
"We can count on it," I heard a female voice.
"Leah!" Jacob had the same expression of shock that all the Cullens shared.
"And I'll have no problem breaking the rules if he doesn't," she added coldly. I sensed no desire in Leah to protect Brad, but I also found peace in the fact that her desire to destroy him had vanished completely. Jacob winked at me, making me shift awkwardly. He knew something that I could extract from him or from Leah herself, but I was in no position to manipulate my powers. I was still at the point where they had control over me, but my curiosity of the mental conversation between the wolves burned within me.
"We stand at currently 31 vampires and the 5 werewolves of Jacob's pack," Jasper continued, ignoring Leah's affirmations. "From what Alice can tell, the Volturi have us outnumbered at over 40 fighters. The good news is that many of their powers will not work with Bella on our side. Unfortunately, the Volturi know this already, so Bella will be a prime target. We will have Zafrina and Fred with their powers protecting Bella at all costs, and anyone who can afford to help her, please do so as well. Siobhan will remain with Bella and use her powers to try and skew the battle to our favor. Stefan, Vladimir, and Emmett will focus on Jane and Alec, as without their powers they will be easy targets for those with brute strength." The two Romanians who it seemed everyone avoided grinned for the first time I've seen since their arrival.
"I will be happy to finally be able to end their lives," Valdimir smiled.
"Demetri, Felix, and Caius are the strongest of their fighters, so Rosalie, Alice, Edward, and I will deal with them. Vladimir and Stefan will join us once the twins are down. Another problem is Chelsea who can break bonds between us, so I will have the wolf pack focus on her as their ties are unbreakable." Jacob nodded. "I will divide the rest of us in groups based on our compatibility to deal with the miscellaneous vampires. Marcus will most likely be no threat, as he has no desire to fight. Do not focus your efforts on killing him; he can be spared. Aro will be a prime target once we deal with the others as he will avoid fighting until absolutely necessary.
"The other problem comes with the twin's ally. Alice sees that she has not yet made the decision to fight, but she follows his every step. If he fights, she will fight as well. We are sure she has the powers to induce effects of comatose, but we do not know if Bella can defend against her powers. I believe Kate, Tanya, Carmen, and Garrett together should be able to ambush her before she can use her powers. She wouldn't know about Kate's powers, so everyone shield her so she can get a zap in, then destroy her. Keep focus, and be careful. Expect for plans to change according to the battle, keep yourselves safe, and do not lose hope."
The battle plan seemed flawless, and each vampire here was extremely skilled. While I feared that we may inevitably lose some fighters, I knew we had a huge chance to win this fight. I just wished that I didn't have to lose Brad, and that he would join the right side of the fight, skewing the battle even more in our favor. If he refused to join us, Jasper would kill him immediately after Felix, Demetrix, and Caius were down. If I were stronger, I could convince him to join us, manipulate his partner to fight alongside us. If I were stronger, I could protect Brad the way I promised I would.
"No more pain," I smiled as we entered a new world filled with hopes and dreams. The tiny studio apartment that we would work endless hours to pay for. This was our dream. The stained carpets that would be our bed, the greasy stoves infested with vile creatures would be our ember waves of joy, and the crumbling walls our sanctuary, protecting us from the woes of the world. We had finally escaped, and nothing could harm us now.
"It's only us," my brother smiled for the first time in years, the deep scars on his face unbearable to look at, but in no way did they take away from the natural beauty of his olive skin.
"Pothos," I grinned, pointing at the only bit of color in the lifeless graveyard we called home. The tiny plant grew in a cup of murky water.
"They were her favorite," though I could hear sorrow in his voice, the smile did not vanish."They're quite miraculous plants. They can survive for years with very little care."
"Like you?" I chuckled at the similarities. The resilience in the simple green and yellow leaves, the waxy surface so hard to puncture. And even when you tore them apart, uprooted them, one tiny piece will find ground or water or anything it could hold onto in order to continue its life as if it were never disturbed. The miracle plant, the miracle brother, it was all I needed to view what anyone would call a pile of trash as a castle full of finesse.
"Like us," he corrected, the flashy grin I rarely saw, but so full of character and life. The resemblance of that crooked smile is what made me so comfortable with Jacob.
"As long as this pothos lives, I promise I won't let anything happen to you."
"Then I guess you'll have your work cut out for you," he chuckled.
"You still here?" Jacob asked, concerned.
"Yeah...just thinking," I grinned.
"Don't worry, we'll do our best," Edward smiled, clearly moved by the memory that had just crossed my mind. I wanted to believe that our best would be enough, but our chances of saving Brad, even if he wanted to be saved, would be slim.
Everyone seemed to understand their responsibilities, and some were even pumped about the battle. There were only days left. The vampires were taking turns feeding to pump up their powers to the maximum, and we all embraced for a tough battle. Each of us knew that we may not make it, but we tried to mask such fears. The one thing I refused to accept as a possibility was the death of my brother.