Despite the apprehension of the others, I was looking forward to meeting the bloodsuckers. It would be interesting to see how they worked, and how different they were from us. I sniffed the air as we approached and noted, to my surprise, that there was human mixed amongst the reek of vampires. They must have brought Bella.
Yes, that's her, confirmed Jacob, and I felt his wave of happiness at the idea of seeing her again.
Aww, Jake, cut it out! I grumbled, and Paul and Embry echoed the thought.
Guys, concentrate, came Sam's voice. Right, this is what I want you to do.
I listened as he explained how we would go into the clearing, but stay back near the trees. Leah, Seth, Collin, and Brady would hang back, and then come forward to see the Cullens' reaction to our extended pack.
I still don't see why I always have to come last Leah complained, and Seth agreed with her. As I stepped into the clearing, I was momentarily distracted by Leah's angry speculation that Sam was trying to irritate her on purpose.
We stepped out of the shadows and faced the line of vampires in the clearing. The two largest males stood closest, while the smaller one hovered protectively in front of Bella.
"Damn, did you ever see anything like it?" the big one asked, and we gave a collective grin at his reaction to our numbers. Bella couldn't see us yet, and I felt Jacob's slight guilt that he hadn't been able to tell Bella more when the mind reader explained our larger numbers to her.
The one in the middle, who seemed to be the leader, stepped forward.
"Welcome," he said.
"Thank you," Sam replied, and the mind reader repeated his words. "We will watch and listen, but no more. It is the most we can ask of our self-control," Sam continued.
"That is more than enough," said the leader. "My son Jasper has experience in this area."
Son? I asked.They think of him as their 'father' Jacob explained.
Shush! Sam growled, then asked the bloodsuckers about the vampires we would be fighting.
The leader explained how these vampires would be new, and that we could have ten of them to kill. I growled excitedly with the others. Finally, something fun to do! No more boring patrols – soon we would get to do some real fighting. I grinned with anticipation. I couldn't wait to test myself against something that might provide a small challenge.
Sam spoke some more, then we settled down to watch. The blond one called Jasper came forward and then turned away from us to face the Cullens.
Rude, grumbled Embry.
No, I think he's nervous, I said, and Paul snickered.
We watched as Jasper and the big one fought, moving in their inhumanly fast way.
"Don't do the obvious," he had said. The big one was supposedly a good example of the way these new vampires attacked. I looked at what he was doing, and couldn't help feeling confident at how easy it would be. After a couple of minutes of Jasper moving in that unnatural way, they froze, with his teeth at the big ones' throat. I gave a quiet rumble of appreciation.
Not bad, Jared commented. We can take these foreigners easily.
I agreed with him, as did the others. Next, the tiny female came forward.
"I know you worry about her," Jasper told Bella. "I want to show you why that's not necessary."
She always worries about people who can take care of themselves, doesn't she? I asked Jacob, knowing he would feel my mental grin. One of the things I liked about Bella was how she was comfortable around us, and how she never seemed to worry about herself.
The next exhibition of fighting was fascinating, if a little odd. The female was the one who saw the future, Alice. She stood with her eyes closed, seemingly doing nothing. I thought at first they were just running through some steps they'd rehearsed, to let Bella see that Alice could move just as fast and easily as the others. Then I realised she must be seeing the moves Jasper was making. She spun and twisted, making the unnatural, fast movements seem almost elegant.
I wish I could move like that, sighed Leah enviously.
What, like you're dead? sneered Paul. I'm sure that could be arranged.
Paul! Sam shouted. That was uncalled for.
We watched the rest of the fights, with the other vampires taking it in turns to fight Jasper. Finally, he called a halt, and turning to face us said "We'll be doing this tomorrow. Please feel free to observe again."
Yes, said Sam, we'll be here. It might help us avoid mistakes tomorrow if we could get to know your scents. It'll be easier for us if you stand still.
Oh great, closer to the smell, complained Seth as, groaning, we raised ourselves to our feet and padded over.
Sam went first, and, after sniffing Carlisle, called the rest of us over. I stood cautiously at the end of the row of vampires, and carefully breathed in the revolting stench. It was very hard, I thought moving to the next one, to avoid acting on the instinct that told me to pounce on them and rip off their limbs, before they did the same to me.
You managing there, Paul? Embry asked, and I grinned at the mental snarl he got in reply.
Once we'd finished, I moved back and watched Jacob as he went over to Bella.
On your own head be it, muttered Sam, turning away into the woods.
Don't push it, Jake, I said, Fang-boy looks ready to intervene.
I'll be fine, he reassured us, as we backed away into the woods. You guys go ahead, I'll catch up with you.
We raced off into the trees, all reflecting on the information we'd gleaned during the session. It had been interesting, to say the least. Once we were far enough away, I slowed down with Embry and we stopped to wait for Jake. I shook my head. Despite what we had learned today, I still couldn't understand why he stood being near them, even if it was for Bella. I settled down on the forest floor to wait for my pack-brother to return.