DISCLAIMER: I do not own Twilight or The Host.
How this story came to be: Years ago after finishing reading Breaking Dawn I was pissed off by the ending. I thought there should have been a big epic battle and I didn't get the payoff I wanted after 4 books. That's the beauty of fanfic - I realized I could go ahead and write the ending I wanted. At the same time I was re-reading The Host (which I absolutely love) and all these plot bunnies kept hopping around my mind, eventually intermixing to the point where this story was born.
So there is no confusion, this story begins just after "Breaking Dawn" ends, but PRIOR to the events that take place in "The Host." Essentially, this is the beginning of the invasion.
"Primum non nocere,
First, do no harm."
Chapter One: Concerned
I paced back and forth in the dining room waiting for the last of my family to arrive while I considered everything that I knew. Something was wrong with humanity. Something was off. Something was happening.
It had been coming on for months now. At first I'd been pleased with how nice and cordial everyone was being to each other at the hospital - which was saying something since it was such a high stress environment; and how crime was dropping across the country…
But then I'd noticed it the first time I'd tried to do a standard physical on one of them; the eyes that reflected the light back to me when I tried to dilate Mrs. Davidson's eyes, and then the fact that she smelled different. She still smelled like herself, and yet, different.
Like she had something else in her blood. Something new. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but I knew something was off.
I depended a lot on my sense of smell when diagnosing my patients. I could tell what over the counter drugs they were taking, and if they were being completely honest about what may or may not be in their system which could be crucial in treating them. After Mrs. Davidson I started noticing that a lot of my patients were starting to have that additional smell, what I eventually identified as a faintly metallic scent, almost as if they had too much iron in their system.
I wasn't worried until the kids started to call Esme and me almost simultaneously. It was the summer holiday, and we still hadn't decided when or if we were moving from Forks yet. And so, as usual, all the couples, besides Esme and I, left to go on individual vacations and get some private time. Alice, and Jasper in New Orleans; Rosalie and Emmett in London; and Edward, Bella, Jacob, and Renesme in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
All was proceeding as normal, when yesterday they had all called within an hour of each other to report that something was… off.
A familiar pair of arms wrapped around me as Esme came up from behind. Resting her chin on my shoulder, she peered at me, worry written on her soft features. I tried to reassure her but I feared that the attempt was lost for the moment. She had been with me for too many years and at this point a lie was not something she would easily fall for.
Knowing she wouldn't be fooled, I simply patted her hands before turning around to hug her, holding her tight to my own body. Even after all these years she was still my beacon, my light in the dark and I loved her so very much.
"Please try not to worry," I whispered against her ear. "They'll all make it back safe and sound. Skin like granite you know?" I planted a kiss on the top of her head trying to soothe her.
Esme spoke into my shirt as she replied. "Carlisle, they should have been here hours ago. It's not like Edward not to call."
Holding her tighter while trying to calm her, I didn't respond - couldn't respond. What could I say? Edward, Bella, Jacob and Nessie were beyond late, and their phones were going straight to voice mail. Because of the blocks that Nessie and Jacob gave Alice we truly had no way of knowing what was going on. But even despite that, Jacob at the very least should have checked in, communicating with his pack in his wolf form, but so far nothing from that quarter either.
A soothing sense of peace filtered through me, loosening my tense shoulders. Esme melted against my side, feeling the same sense of relief. Looking across the room Jasper stood leaning on the door frame, concern showing on his face as well.
We were all thinking the same thing.
They would return to us. We knew that logically, but the heart and the head just didn't want to agree. While the mind told us that our family was strong and that we had survived and overcome more than our fair share of trials, our collective hearts were telling us that this may be it; they might be gone. It wasn't a thought that I could deal with easily.
Not when it came to my children.
They were my love. My children. My wife. My family. They were everything to me. I had watched Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper, Alice and Edward figuratively grow from fledgling "children" to the fully formed beings that they were now. Esme and I raised them, instilled a sense of right and wrong in them and I can safely say that no parents could be as proud of their children as we were.
They had each overcome some of the worst evils and had grown into the type of people I had only hoped they could be. Now my family had been extended to include Bella and my granddaughter Renesme. Jacob, despite Edward's outward irritation, was even part of the family now. We had accepted them all with open arms and right now, I wished for them only to be here, safe and sound, where I could keep an eye on them.
But they weren't here. I had no idea where they were and that thought alone terrified me, because I did not know how to protect them.
I didn't know what was wrong; I only knew that something was coming and that this something was bigger than my family. It was not a thought I was comfortable with and I knew that I would do whatever I could to keep my children safe, but this time, I wasn't sure if it would be enough.
"Leah's coming." Alice stepped into the room, standing beside Jasper. The two of them had arrived over an hour ago and yet these were the first words that I had heard Alice utter. Alice couldn't have "seen" Leah coming, but must have heard her, so Leah had to be very close by.
Pulling away from Esme only slightly, I turned to the door expectantly, my eyes taking Leah in as she burst into the room.
A collective sigh was expelled around the room. These were the words we had been waiting to hear for the past few hours.
"Flying's not safe at the moment, so they're running back here. They're somewhere in Mexico. Apparently they have to avoid any sort of mass transit so it may take them some time to get here."
I could feel Esme bursting to ask what was going on. I too was wondering why mass transit wasn't safe but I knew that the question was useless. Laying a hand on her shoulder, I stopped her, trading a single glance with my wife. Leah continued, unaware of the silent exchange of words.
"Jacob said he would have phased earlier but he was injured when they departed the airplane. He had to heal a bit first. We're supposed to get Sam and Billy and be ready to hold a meeting. They should be here in a few hours."
Leah didn't wait for any sort of response. She was still uneasy around us, only tolerating us because as a member of Jacob's pack she had to. Quickly, she phased back into her wolf form and darted out of the room, leaving the rest of us to consider the information that had just been handed to us.
The tension had doubled in a short time as new questions suddenly arose. As I looked around the room, I could see the words on my family's lips. Talk and speculation would quickly get us nowhere though, so I shook my head indicating "no." Alice looked as if she wanted to protest for the briefest of moments, but as we locked eyes, she remained quiet. I would not allow ideas that would only worry everyone all the more to be tossed about until Edward, Bella and the rest of them were safe at home.
Chapter Two: Stories
The dining room was full, and yet, eerily silent. Sam Uley, Billy and Jacob Black, and the entirety of my family all gathered in the main dining room, waiting patiently for Edward to begin. They had entered the house silently only twenty minutes prior, Bella, Edward and Jacob looking tired while Nessie slept quietly in the next room.
Silent embraces were exchanged as the family felt a minute of relief flow through the room, only to ebb away once more as the thought of what was to come suddenly made itself present.
Without question, we all silently gathered around the table, Edward at the head, me off to the side a little. Edward's worry was barely contained and one look at Bella confirmed my suspicion that whatever was going on was bad.
"At first we didn't notice. Or maybe we just didn't want to," Edward had started. I watched as he and Bella exchanged a quick glance.
"Crime slowly was disappearing, even petty arguments that you'd usually see exchanged in the streets in Rio were being replaced by friendly smiles. People were just… nice to each other. And at first, we didn't give much thought to it. Happiness isn't supposed to be something that you question. But then beggars started to vanish from the streets and, well, you can't help but notice that even the favelas were starting to empty out. This was Brazil after all."
Edward paused, a frown on his face while he organized his thoughts. Knowing looks were exchanged by my family around the table. It was true. You really couldn't ignore it when the less fortunate weren't there for people to try and ignore anymore.
"At first I was worried that there was a pack of 'New Borns' running around the city. But then when I started to recognize a few of the beggars in new clean clothes, working, and being taken care of - well, that's when we called Carlisle and decided to come back to Forks." He shook his head. "Something was off. It just felt wrong, you know? And we were worried for Nessie's safety, among other things.
"We knew we needed to come home so we got the first plane out of Rio de Janeiro that we could. About an hour into the flight oxygen masks appeared. Most of the passengers were confused at this point because there wasn't any turbulence and nothing seemed to be wrong with the airplane, but we donned them anyway. We really didn't see any other option, and we really didn't want to stand out, and as for the humans, I guess they figured that it was better to be safe than sorry.
"We didn't notice for a few seconds that the oxygen tasted wrong. Bella and I had been fretting over Renesme, trying to get the mask on her face and didn't realize that the oxygen not only tasted wrong, but had a funny smell to it as well. By the time we made the connection, everyone in the First Class cabin was asleep, including Jacob and Nessie.
"It wasn't until we were removing the masks from Jacob and Nessie's faces, that we smelled something worse." Edward moved closer to his wife and glanced towards the room that held his slumbering child. "The scent of human blood was coming from coach."
The emotion was absent from his voice as he tried to remain calm. That was just how Edward was. Calm until the very last minute.
"Did you see what was happening?" Emmett broke in, impatient to know just exactly what we were dealing with.
"I looked but…" Edward frowned again for a moment, trying to find his next words. "The best way I can describe it is that something that looked like a human was putting some sort of silvery wormlike thing onto the necks of the passengers."
"What looks like a human?" Billy asked, confusion written across his face.
Bella took a deep breath as she began to speak. "They appear human but they don't smell like humans. I saw it too and it's like Edward said. The things the flight crew were putting in the passengers looked like a worm, only silver in color. And we could smell the metallic tinge to the blood."
Bella paused here, and looked at Edward, so he continued. "All we wanted to do was grab Nessie and Jake and jump from the plane. But we couldn't just leave everyone else behind to essentially be murdered."
"This is about the time that I came too," Jacob said, sitting up a little in his chair. "They were silently sitting in the corner freaking out when I woke up. I'll tell you, I've never been happier to have that super healing thing that I do. Anyways, when I was fully awake I calmly-"
"Calmly?" Edward raised an accusing eyebrow at him.
Jacob rolled his eyes in return. "Calmly. I went over to Edward and Bella to see what was going on and to see how we were going to get out of this situation safely."
Edward snorted loudly at that. "More like you woke up and started freaking out because you didn't know what was going on and you smelled human blood."
Jacob nodded and waved a dismissive hand. "Like I said, I calmly got your attention."
I watched as Edward suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. It seemed that whatever external good will the two of them had forged during the last confrontation with the Volturi was gone, at least on the surface. I knew better though; Jacob was in many ways a son to Edward now, and what kid didn't like to push their parent's buttons from time to time? Even Edward, the so-called perfect child, had gone through a rebellious stage.
"Besides, I was concerned for Nessie's safety."
"Do us a favor, next time you are concerned with my daughter's safety, don't start yelling and flailing your arms about."
"I didn't flail."
"It was because of you that the flight crew knew we were awake," Edward snapped. Trying to gain back some of his control, he turned away from Jacob, as if the sight of the wolf right now was his only cause of irritation.
"We heard the flight crew coming forward and we panicked. Bella grabbed Nessie and kicked open the door and the rapid decompression sucked them right out of the plane. I grabbed Jacob and absorbed most of the fall and impact with the ground while Bella did the same for Nessie."
"This is why I couldn't phase and get to you guys sooner," Jacob complained bitterly.
"If I had not done what I did, you would have died."
"I would have been fine."
Edward shook his head. He really needed to learn to ignore Jacob. Jacob only said half the things he did to get under Edward's skin. It was a favorite pastime of the wolf's.
"Our cell phones shattered with the force of the impact," Bella continued, ignoring the way that Jacob and Edward were glaring at each other. She had gotten used to this sort of interaction by now. We all had.
"And since we landed in the middle of the Amazon, there weren't any phones around. Besides, we didn't know how safe it would be for us to go into public. We didn't know what was going on or if this had spread yet. We just knew we needed to get home. We figured running was going to be the safest way and when Jacob was well enough, he'd phase and let you guys know we were okay."
"Yeah, that was a fun idea. We should have just left him," Edward muttered. Bella looked slightly amused by the situation while Jacob glared.
"I was not about to have a bloodsucker carry me home."
Edward laughed. "So you'd rather have a girl do it? Yeah, real manly of you, Jacob. You should be proud, Billy. Your son was too stubborn to allow me to help him but he allowed Bella to hand Nessie off to me so she could carry him while we ran home. Real chivalrous. Oh, and by the way Jacob, in case you hadn't noticed Bella's a bloodsucker now too."
"Boys," Bella intoned.
I had a feeling it was a warning that was shot to the two of them a lot during this trip. It seemed that the stress of the situation had them really keyed up and on edge. I'd thought that they'd moved past a lot of this. Apparently I was wrong. Edward never would have been so outwardly petty and rude before.
"I'm just saying that if he really wants to be with my daughter maybe he should be a little more considerate in the future."
"Not your choice, vampire."
"You'll ask before you do anything, dog."
I was about to look meaningfully at Jasper to have him calm the situation down a bit, when Bella broke in
"Boys," Bella yelled again. "Not now!" Turning to the rest of the family, Bella allowed Jacob and Edward to fume. "So that's what happened. You guys know the rest."
We all sat and considered the facts, trying to absorb everything that we had heard, whether we wanted to or not.
"So it's true. It really is an invasion of some sort," Esme whispered finally. All eyes turned to Alice for confirmation.
Squinting in frustration, Alice half shrugged, half sighed in irritation. "I can't see anything. Well, not anything worth seeing really."
I had watched her try all day to see what was going on but each and every time she was coming up with nothing.
"I think that's the scariest part. When I look into the future, everyone is content, I mean EVERYONE. There is no conflict, no war, no poverty, but at the same time it's like there is no more life on this planet. No one is really happy, because no one is really sad," She frowned. "Does that make sense? I can't see any clear humans. Or rather, I can't see humans clearly anymore. It's like they've all mostly become something other. It's as if humanity has been erased."
Words failed for everyone as the tension spiked in the room. It became palpable, thickening with each moment of silence that passed. No one even dared to move until a wolf's howl sounded from the outside.
Sam and Jacob jumped up immediately, breaking through the door and heading towards the source. By my side, Edward froze.
"It's Seth," he began, and looked fearfully over towards the slumbering Renesme as if to make sure she was still ok. "He's been attacked by them."
Chapter 3: Panic
Seth arrived, panting, having phased back into his human form. None of us had moved from the dining room as of yet. Instead we looked towards Edward as he silently kept us updated, while Alice tried in vain to see something, anything that might be of help. Her vision was blank when it came to the wolves however, and it was quickly becoming the same when it came to humans as well.
"What happened?" Bella asked.
Seth shook his head. "I was waiting at the airport for you guys to arrive. I went to use the bathroom and then the next thing I know, I'm waking up, lying face down on a table with something cutting into my neck. I didn't know what was going on so I just freaked out and flipped off the table. When I saw what the hell was going on, I made the decision to get out of there as fast as I could." Seth looked towards Jacob, a nervous ball of energy. "Why didn't you guys tell me you weren't flying in?"
"We didn't know you were going to the airport."
"Yeah, well, I did. And in return I had some weirdo attack me and try to take my neck off and replace it with a glow worm! Whatever they gave me didn't even allow me to phase at first. I thought I was going insane. I kept thinking, 'they've done it, they've managed to take the wolf right out of me with that glowing mass of blob'."
"Glowing mass of blob?" Leah smirked.
"Shut up! I've been traumatized. The only comfort I have to cling to is the fact that I probably scared the crap out of those freaks since my neck just kept healing every time they tried to cut it."
Emmett laughed loudly, finding the amusement that no one else could in this situation. Sensing the moment was about to get out of control, I stepped forward. If I would have let them, they would have continued on joking. It was their way of dealing with a situation they had no idea what to do with. And as much as I preferred the jokes, we needed to stay on track.
"Did you notice anything different? Any distinct smells?" I asked.
Seth's look became somber as he turned to me. I could feel the anxiety rolling off him but to his credit, he was trying to keep himself under control, sensing how serious everything was becoming.
"Actually, yeah… there was this like almost metal smell that seemed to come from the glow worm blob things they had. At least I think so. I got outta there pretty fast."
"Thank you Seth." Turning to the group that had gathered I took in their worried expressions. For the first time, none of us really knew what to do, and no one even really had a point of reference to start with.
"Carlisle," Alice whispered. "What is going on?"
Taking a deep and unnecessary breath, an act that had become second nature after all these years, I began to try and figure that out myself.
"I think that we've established a few things so far. The first is that there is some sort of human parasite out there infiltrating the human race. Whether it originated here on Earth or came from elsewhere doesn't matter right now. What does matter is that, if Alice's visions are to be counted on, all of humanity seems to be threatened since it appears that humans all become something other in the future."
Alice nodded. "I can't really see them. I can see humans because I was one, I can see vampires because I am one, but since I can't really see them; they have almost nothing of humanity left in them."
"Obviously vampires are safe from them," I said, trying to add some amount of hope to the conversation, wishing to give my family something to hang on to. "They can't cut through our skin to do the parasite implantation, but also, I suspect that they need a living host."
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Bella shift, exchanging a glance with Edward. "I don't think you two have to worry," I said softly. "While Renesme is a living host, she also, thankfully, has a vampire's impenetrable skin, which should protect her.
"And as for the wolves, I think we've all seen that, for the most part, they are relatively safe since they heal too fast for them to do the insertion and they wake before they can complete it."
Everyone nodded as they started pulling the information we knew, and piecing it together. "Which leaves…."
Before I could finish, a quiet gasp escaped from Bella's lips. "No," she whispered, horror etched on her face. "Mom…. Charlie." And within two steps she was at the door.
Jasper was faster. He gently restrained her, asking her to wait and be rational, using his gift to calm her.
"We don't know how to tell if someone is still human or other yet," he tried to reason. "You can't just run out there right now. Not until we know more. You have no idea of the possible risks."
Pulling out of his grasp, Bella looked at him. "We know what they smell like," she snapped. And before anyone could stop her, she was out the door, Edward hot on her heels.
Chapter 4: Lockdown
"Charlie's fine and on his way to LaPush," I sighed while snapping my cell phone closed. "Edward and Bella are on their way to Jacksonville right now to check on Renée and Phil."
If there was one thing to say about Bella, it was that she was just as determined to protect her family as I was. "Bella was wondering if perhaps a few wolves couldn't shadow Charlie on his way to LaPush just to make sure he gets there unhindered, and - more importantly - still human."
"On it," Seth hollered on his way out the door. "He'll stay with us. Mom will like that." I watched as Seth phased before he even reached the tree line.
"Maybe Nessie should come with me to LaPush until this all blows over," Jacob suggested.
"How do we even know LaPush will be safe?"
It was a valid question, but coming from Rosalie, it sounded more like an insult. Out of everyone in the family, she was the one that was the least okay with our alliance with the werewolves. She and Leah actually had a lot in common; they'd be horrified to learn that, of course, and probably would refuse to acknowledge it.
"We know how to take care of ourselves," Jacob snapped.
"Is that why Bella had to carry you practically all the way here?"
"I was injured."
"Yes, you were, and most likely you'll be injured again," Rosalie pointed out. "Nessie stays here."
"It's not up to you."
"And it's not up to you either Fido. It's up to Edward and Bella."
"Yeah? Well they're not here right now."
"Jacob," I sighed. Tension was running high in this house. I knew that. Added to that was the tension that always arose between Rosalie and Jacob. I couldn't have any more of this running through the household. We needed to stay calm and stick together if we had any hope of getting out of this.
"Why don't you stay here? It'll make Renesme more at ease to have you here and you won't send Edward and Bella into a panic when they get back wanting to see their daughter and find her gone."
Jacob looked like he wanted to protest, but perhaps he heard the pleading in my voice and frowning directly at Rosalie, mumbled "fine." The conversation was done for now, but I had a feeling that as we waded further into this situation, it would be brought up more than once.
"I'm thinking we're going to have to put the reservation on lockdown for the next couple days. At least until we know what's going on."
I nodded in agreement with Billy. He was uneasy in my home as well, but he and I had come to a silent truce. We both had our families to look out for and because of that, we would work together with ease.
"I don't want anyone one in or out. It shouldn't raise too many eyebrows so long as they keep First Beach open and accessible to the public," Billy continued.
"I think that's probably for best," I replied.
"Also, Charlie needs to go ahead and take some of those vacation days that he has saved up. He doesn't know it yet, but he's not leaving La Push until the lockdown is over."
Jacob laughed at his father. "Are you going to be the one to tell Charlie that? Because I'm thinking that's not going to go over too well. He'll want an explanation and then the moment he gets one, he'll want to pretend like he never heard that explanation."
Billy grunted in response. I had a feeling that Billy was going to try and save the pleasure of telling Charlie what was happening until the last moment possible. He could maybe stave of Charlie's curiosity for a day or two, but beyond that… it wasn't going to happen. Bella got her stubborn streak straight from Charlie, from what I had observed.
"We also need to check the residents of the reservation to see if they are one of them." Billy continued. "This should be easy enough. We can put it around that it looks like there may have been an outbreak of the flu or something and Dr. Cullen needs to check everyone out."
"If someone was infected, do you think you could remove it?" Jacob looked at me with hope, no doubt wondering how many of his friends were already lost to him.
"I don't know. There is so much that could go wrong that I may end up killing the human. We simply don't know enough about them yet. Plus we still don't know what effect they have on humans. Perhaps it is not as bad as Alice thinks…" I trailed off as I saw the look on everyone's faces.
Everyone knew not to bet against Alice.
"I better get to LaPush and have a chat with Charlie," Billy said. "Jacob, check in every couple of hours. I know you'll stay where the girl is but that doesn't mean that you don't still have obligations to your family, or to your pack."
Jacob nodded quietly, not even attempting to argue.
"Carlisle, I'll put the word around that you'll be on the reservation tomorrow. We can start examinations in the morning."
"I'll be there first thing." The sooner we found who was infected, the sooner maybe we could come to ending this nightmare.
Chapter 5: Infiltrated
The day started with a feeling of dread. As Esme and I had made our way to the LaPush clinic, I had an overwhelming fear that not only would we find an other but that I wouldn't be able to fix whoever it was that had been infected. That's what it would come down to in the end. The family members of the infected would expect me to perform a miracle that I wasn't sure I could do.
However, It was evening now and so far not a single person I had seen had shown any signs of the infection. My relief was palpable, setting not only Esme at ease, but Embry and Quill as well. The four of us had methodically checked each of the LaPush residents and so far, we had been lucky.
"I have to admit," Embry started as Quill ushered out another patient who had been cleared. "I never thought I would see the day when I was actually glad to have Vampires around."
Quill nodded. "You guys really are the only ones that can be counted on not to be changed. I'm going to have to begrudgingly say thank you for your help today."
I turned to tell them that I was just happy that we could all be in the same room without fighting, when Jacob burst through the door. In his arms, was an unconscious Emily.
"Phase and go into the woods. Seth needs help restraining Sam." It was a barked order towards Quill and Embry and one they complied to without a moment's hesitation. "Send Leah back here!" he yelled as they rushed out the door.
"What happened?" I motioned for Jacob to lay Emily on the table, Esme already rushing about for any necessary supplies I might need.
"I went to meet up with Sam to talk about last night when I heard a fight break out inside. When I got there, Emily was unconscious on the floor and Sam and Leah were trying to kill each other."
I looked down at Emily. Other than some bruises that were forming she seemed ok. Not a scratch… and then I was suddenly startled. The old wolf attack scars that used to mar one side of her face were completely gone. Also, given the scent that was coming off of her, I didn't even have to ask why Leah had attacked her. The tinge of metal that hung heavy in the air was all the answer I needed.
Leah burst through the door, snapping my gaze from what used to be Emily's body. A paper hospital gown was wrapped around her human form. Clearly her clothes had not survived her phasing that morning.
"Jacob, she's not Emily," she quickly explained.
"I went to Sam's to have the meeting with the two of you, and I got there before you, so I was waiting inside alone with Sam. Not that I wanted to, but you were late. Sam was annoyed because Emily was gone. She hadn't listened, Jake. She went outside of LaPush to attend a doctor's appointment despite the fact that we are on lockdown."
Leah looked toward Emily's prone body, shaking her head in disbelief. "She got home and had just entered the living room when I smelled her. She smelled just like everyone said they would. Like metal. And then I saw her. All of her scars were gone. She was one of them." Leah spat the word out in disgust, going from confused to angry at the drop of a hat.
"I did the only thing I could. I phased and attacked before she could attack us. Sam had no clue what was going on so he phased and defended her. That's around the time you came in, Jacob."
"You should have come and got me," Jacob hissed. "You shouldn't have taken matters into your own hands."
"And what would you have done if you were in my place? If it had been Nessie she was walking towards?"
Jacob looked away. Leah had done what any of them would have in that situation. It didn't mean he had to like it though. And with Emily's still body on the table next to him, Jacob couldn't help but hate Leah a little for what she had done.
"You're not to go near Sam and you're to stay away from Emily."
"That's not Emily anymore."
"Don't go near her, Leah. It's an order." I could tell Jacob did not say that last part lightly.
I watched as Leah stepped forward. She couldn't argue with Jacob, not that he had now given an order, but she was going to try and piss him off. It was engrained in her to do so for some reason, and right now, that was not what we needed. Already these parasites were pulling us apart and that was something we couldn't afford to do. I was afraid that if we let them, then we'd soon be gone as well.
"Jacob, please go out and try to calm Sam down. Tell him I'm treating Emily and that nothing will happen to her while she's in my care."
"Treat her? Why would you treat her? She's a threat to us all!" Leah yelled.
"I made an oath to do no harm. I don't plan on breaking that. Now Jacob go. Seth is going to need your help with Sam. And Leah, please go get Billy and the other council members. There will need to be a council bonfire tonight, and we'd like to attend if that's alright."
Jacob left the room, giving Emily one last look. Leah soon followed.
"Esme, please tell my next patient I'll be with them in a moment."
As the room cleared, I looked down at Emily. No, not Emily, one of them. My mind told me this, asserted it even with force, but as I looked down at her, I couldn't bring myself not to care about her well being. Resigning myself to protect her, even while the rest would want to kill her, I went about dressing her wounds.
Thankfully most of her injuries seemed superficial, but I couldn't be sure until I examined her when she was awake. Most likely she was just going to be sore and a little bruised when she woke up. Unfortunately, that was going to be the least of her worries. Frowning at this thought, I gently picked her up and moved her to another hospital bed, pulling the privacy curtain around her.
She was fine for now, and could wait, plus I needed to finish the evaluation of the half dozen residents remaining now. But I couldn't leave her unguarded. I had no idea what to expect from them.
"Esme, send in the next patient please, and then please keep an eye on – Emily here." My voice tripping over Emily's name. I didn't even know if she was Emily anymore - and that was the problem. None of us really knew anything about them other than Alice's ominous looks into the future.
And I knew better than to bet against Alice.
Chapter 6: Council
In years past, not only would I not have been on the Quileute lands, but I certainly would not have been sitting casually around a bonfire with them. Though I supposed that nothing about this situation was casual. It didn't help that I was certain that there were still some who would have gladly thrown me in the fire and watched me burn. But I couldn't blame them. Though I knew I was no threat to them, how could they be certain? No, they were right to want to protect their families.
The council was meeting tonight to discuss one thing - Emily. No one knew what to do with the situation that had arisen. Sam had not phased back into his human form since it had happened and now he simply sat, staring into the fire with dull eyes. As I looked at him, I knew I had done the right thing by vowing to protect Emily. If only to offer him some sort of peace of mind.
"What was she thinking?" Jacob hissed. "She couldn't have rescheduled her doctor's appointment? She couldn't have waited a few more days? She wasn't sick."
"We're not here to question Emily's actions," Billy said, causing the lower murmur over what his son had said to end. "We're here to discuss what is to be done now that she…" he trailed off. What had happened was still hard to deal with and no one had yet figured out an easy way to describe what was happening.
"Have any other… invaders been found?" A council member asked, turning to me slightly.
I shook my head. "No."
"What do they want from us?" Someone else asked.
"I don't know. No one has been able to talk with her yet."
"Forget talking. We're not really interested in that. I say that you remove the worm from her head and get Emily back." The council murmured positively at that suggestion, and I couldn't help but feel dread.
It was a difficult situation that we were in. Everyone wanted the parasite removed from Emily but the fact remained that we did not know enough to try it. Or at least we did not know enough for me to feel comfortable trying it.
"I can't do that. It could harm her. Possibly kill her."
A low growl sounded from my right as Sam shifted, letting his opinion on the matter be known.
"I will not let anything harm her, Sam. If we are to remove the parasite from Emily, I will only do it when I know for certain it is not going to kill her."
"Then our job right now is to figure out how we can make that happen," Billy said solemnly. "Carlisle, you seem to be the only unbiased one here that has Emily's best interest at heart. I think it would be best if you were to interrogate her, along with Edward as soon as he returns. He'll be able to tell if she's lying or not and given the circumstances, I don't want to take any risks."
"You can start right away then." Seth's voice called out as he approached the council. He bypassed them all, going straight to me. "Edward and Bella just crossed into reservation lands. They've got two people with them."
"Where are they now?"
"It looked like they were headed towards the clinic."
I nodded. "If you'll excuse me, I'd like to be there before they have a chance to see Emily." I didn't wait for the council's response. Instead I took off, running towards the clinic.
I rushed into the room to find Edward trying to calm Bella down. The two humans that Seth had spoken of were currently knocked out, resting on one of the exam tables. I recognized them right away to be Bella's mother and Phil.
Seeing me, Edward came to my side, leaving Bella in Alice and Jasper's care. "I knocked them out the moment we got there," he said, trying to keep his voice quiet so as not to upset Bella further. "We were too late." Edward shook his head sadly. "By the time we got there… Carlisle, you have to fix them. Bella is frantic and… you just have to fix them."
Edward's eyes closed for a brief moment. He already knew what I was going to say. He himself had two medical degrees. He understood my feelings on the matter. Like me though, he was scared. The urge to protect Bella, to make everything okay for her, was overwhelming him.
"I know," he whispered. "I just hate seeing her like this.
"I promise I'll do what I can." Resting my hand on Edward's shoulder, I gave it a firm squeeze. Edward nodded his head once before returning to Bella's side. She had calmed slightly, due to Jasper, but was still looking at the inert forms of her mother and Phil, with ill ease.
Renée and Phil were soon placed in another room, with Emmett standing guard. It had been decided, that since only vampires seemed to be immune from the parasites, that we would be the only ones to guard for the time being. This was a job that Emmett was all too perfect for - though it seemed that he was hoping for a fight, or at least a wrestling match.
Meanwhile Alice and Jasper had taken Bella back to the house, hoping that the sight of Renesme would soothe her. Edward kissed her goodbye before he followed me to Emily's room.
"So the council believes that these creatures are going to willingly just give up the information we need to extract them from their host bodies?"
I nodded. "Apparently."
"You know that's not how it's going to be though, right?"
"Yes. But it's worth a try at the very least. Maybe we can learn something about them. Although, therein lies another problem."
"She won't talk to anyone."
Edward smiled at that, "She'll talk to me." I raised a questioning eyebrow, and Edward, clearly hearing my silent question, waved it away. "I heard Renée and Phil, or rather the parasites in their heads just fine."
A slow smile formed across my lips. Things were suddenly not looking so bleak.
Chapter 7: Questions
As Edward and I entered the dimly lit room, I looked to my side and saw Esme. She smiled weakly at me and shook her head. The girl still hadn't said anything to her. Rising from her position next to Emily's bed, she quietly slipped out of the room, squeezing my hand affectionately before she left.
And then there she was. Curled up in a corner, Emily was silently rocking back and forth, staring at Edward and me with fear etched across her face.
I'd only met Emily once before, but this clearly was not the girl I remembered. Edward nodded silently in agreement, also comparing her to the recollections he'd seen in the minds of the wolves.
"She would have fought back," Edward murmured, too quiet to be heard by the girl, "and she never would have cowered in a corner like this."
Obviously this was no longer Emily.
I walked slowly up to her, making sure to stop a few feet away. I didn't want to frighten her more than she already was, so I very carefully sat down, so as not to tower over her. Immediately she flinched, looking as if she were trying to climb inside the wall.
My attempts to not scare her obviously failed.
Smiling my most reassuring smile I began with the only thing that came to my mind. "Hello."
Silence. It was what I had expected at least.
"I'm Dr. Cullen, and this is my son Edward," I continued, waving back towards Edward, who was very pointedly keeping his distance. "What's your name?"
Her body tensed at both my introduction and my question, and even though she didn't answer, one look at Edward showed me that her thoughts had betrayed her. My question had hit home.
I decided to be upfront and honest. She knew that we knew she was not Emily and I was afraid that if we danced around the subject much longer, I would risk her possibly harming herself if she thought we knew too much. Not that I thought she would. Such a fragile creature could never do any harm to herself or anyone else - or so I believed at the time.
"Look, I know you're scared. I know you're wondering how we know so much, and the truth is we don't. We only know that you aren't Emily. We know that you are using her body to live in, and we don't want to hurt you, but we also care very much for Emily, and want to make sure that you are both OK. Can I do that? I just want to make sure you weren't seriously injured by Leah."
At the mention of Leah's name she shuddered again and started to look frantically around the room.
"No, she's not here, she can't hurt you." Edward answered her silent question from his corner of the room.
Visibly, she relaxed some. Then, in a very quiet voice, one that even I had to strain to hear said "Snow."
"What was that?" I asked gently. "Snow?"
"Is that your name?"
Slowly, she shook her head. "Snow falling on ice castles," she said in that same quiet voice. "But Snow is easier."
Snow falling on ice Castles? That was quite a mouthful, but I was glad for something else to call her. I couldn't call her Emily for obvious reasons, and it felt wrong to just call her "the girl." So, Snow it would be.
"Well Snow," I said, standing up slowly and extending my hand towards her, "would you please let me take a look at you? I just want to make sure you're ok."
She eyed my hand warily, looking back towards Edward warily. Her eyes rested on him for a moment before turning back to my hand. "He won't hurt you either," I promised, hand still extended, "no one is going to hurt you."
"Sam," she whispered.
"Sam's not here either. And he would never hurt you," I replied even more gently, afraid to shatter what fragile rapport we had.
She gave off another shake of her head, still not taking my hand.
"That's not what she meant," Edward answered quietly enough for only my vampire ears to hear. "She… well, she's worried about him, and wants to know if he's ok?" He finished with a question in his voice, as if he doubted that he'd heard her right.
I looked at Snow curiously for a moment, a thought forming as I took in this new information. It would seem that either Snow had access to all of Emily's thoughts and feelings for Sam, and now felt them herself, or it had something to do with the imprinting phenomenon. I couldn't be sure. I wanted to look towards Edward for his take on it, but was afraid that if I moved my eyes from Snow, she would bolt. The trust I had built so far was tenuous at best.
Still holding my hand out to her, I crouched down again to her eye level.
"Sam's OK," I said, "Leah didn't hurt him, and he's outside wondering if Emily's OK."
Her face flashed in relief and then pain when I mentioned that Sam was concerned for Emily and not her, and I chastised myself for being so thoughtless. First do no harm.
Despite my thoughts, despite the oath I had taken years ago, I knew I was about to hurt her again, because the truth was I needed to check her out, and I needed to see if there was a way to bring Emily back.
"Please Snow," I pleaded moving my hand slightly closer to her. "Please. For Sam."
That did it. With slow and shaking fingers, she extended her slim bronze hand towards mine. I heard her gasp slightly when her fingers touched my skin and she stared up at me as if realization and some memory had just hit her.
Yes, she definitely had access to Emily's memories, to include knowledge of the Cullen family, and all the ways we weren't human. But she didn't let go, so thankfully those memories told her enough to know that she was safe with me. At least I hoped they did.
Gripping her hand tighter, I gently pulled her to her feet and lead her over to the examination table.
I didn't bother turning the lights on; I could see just as well in the dark, and she seemed to prefer the dim light. I began a routine examination, and aside from all bumps and bruises, and the light reflecting from her eyes when I tried to dilate her pupils, she seemed fine. More than fine. As Leah had pointed out before, all her facial scars were gone.
"Snow, might I ask what happened to your scars?"
Snow just gave a miniscule shrug of her shoulders. Behind me, Edward gave a quiet breath of surprise, and I knew he'd heard her unspoken response. I had to remember to ask him about it later. Right now, I wasn't about to betray her trust in front of her like that. If she didn't want to tell me, then I wouldn't press.
Deftly moving to the back of her neck, my thumb brushed her scar there. "If your other scars are gone, then why is this one still here?" There wasn't even a shrug in response this time.
I sighed to myself, realizing that either trust was quickly fading, or that it was never really there to begin with. Finishing up her exam, I stepped away. She was fine.
Looking into her eyes, I weighed my next words carefully. While I knew that she would probably never answer me, there was a good chance she would still think of what I needed to know.
"Snow," I said slowly, preparing myself for numerous reactions. "I need to know, is there a way to get Emily back?"
Snow looked back at me in horror, her eyes widening. "No!" she gasped. It was the loudest I'd heard her yet. As if startled by her own voice, just as much as she was by my question, she fled back into the corner.
"No! There is no Emily," she mumbled quietly to herself. "Just me. I'm me. This is me." She hugged herself into a ball again continuing to rock back and forth.
I looked at Edward and he nodded his head. She was telling the truth, or at least what she thought was the truth. I thought of Sam's anguished face when I told him the news, of how I would feel if it were me, and it was Esme who was gone. No! I couldn't give up, there had to be a way.
I kneeled down next to Snow again and asked a slightly different question this time. "Snow," she didn't stop her rocking, "is there… Is there a way to remove you from Emily's body without hurting either of you?"
She froze at that question, horror filling her eyes again before she snapped them tightly shut and resumed her rocking. Clearly she wasn't going to answer me. I glanced back at Edward to see if he'd had any better luck than me at catching her answer, and at his grim smile and swift nod in my direction, I knew he had.
I just had one last question left, and this one was mostly out of curiosity, but it was one she should be able to answer.
"This is an easy one, Snow," I said quietly, still trying to keep my voice as calm as possible. "Can you tell me why Emily left the reservation and went to a doctor's office outside of La Push when she knew the reservation was in lockdown?"
Though her rocking faltered for a moment, it didn't stop completely. Snow had paused and considered what she should tell me, most likely digging through Emily's memories for the answer. A look of shock crossed her face as she obviously gained her answer. Behind me, Edward hissed in surprise.
Chapter 8: Waiting
Once again, we were back where we started. All of us, minus Esme who had volunteered graciously to watch over Snow, were back at home, inhabiting the dining room. Billy, Sam, Jacob, Charlie and Sue Clearwater joined us, crowding into the room to discuss the matter at hand.
"After speaking with her, things became very clear," Edward started. He held the floor again, explaining calmly what, for right now, he and I only knew. "For starters, she's got access to all of Emily's memories. She even realized who I was eventually and tried to hide her thoughts from me. Thankfully, she wasn't very good at it."
Bella smiled. I expected that she liked the fact that she was the only person that Edward could not hear. It was something she took pride in.
"They are indeed invaders. They are parasites of the worst kind. While they don't kill their host bodies, they do something worse: they absorb all the host's memories, and then erase the sub-conscience, or in other words they implant a new soul inside that host and take over their life. And ironically enough, they refer to their own species as "Souls."
"They've been slowly taking over the human population for months now and have already taken over nearly half of humanity. Eventually even the humans will begin to notice. But not for a while; these creatures are very good at what they do, and imitate humans quite well - to a point. As I'm sure you've noticed, they aren't violent at all. They abhor violence of any sort and are, from what I could gather, quite perfectly civilized to each other, without any sort of lying, malice, or war in their society."
"Except for the part where they take over and enslave humanity," Emmett broke in dryly.
Edward smiled bitterly at that, "Yes Emmett, except for that part. In fact they don't even think that what they are doing is wrong. They think that they are helping humanity since prior to their arrival, humans were embroiled in wars all over the globe, along with mass poverty and starvation. All of that is quickly going away thanks to them." Edward raised a hand to stave off more comments from Emmett and continued.
"Snow Falling on Ice Castles tried to hide from me her purpose here, but like I said, she wasn't very good at it. Most of Forks has been taken over at this point – Charlie, you were lucky to get out when you did. In fact I suggest you inform your deputy, who has already been turned, that you will be on an extended leave of absence visiting Bella in Brazil, since no one in Forks knows that any of us are back yet. I'd like to keep it that way.
"Snow's job, as the first of the LaPush residents to be taken, was to scout out the area and see when would be a good time for insertions to begin on the other residents of LaPush, and then start the insertion procedure. She is what they call a "Healer"; their version of a doctor, and again she tried to block me, but I saw a lot that she didn't want me to see regarding insertion procedures.
"So, that leaves us with the question: What do we do next?"
"Simple," Jasper said. "We kill her." Everyone looked at him with a mixture of disapproval and agreement. They wanted to say no because this was Emily, or at least it was her body, but the threat she posed was very real How could we, in good conscience, keep her alive. And yet, I didn't see how, in good conscience, we could kill her. It was an impossible situation.
"That's not an option," I said firmly.
Jasper shook his head. "Carlisle, she knows too much about Vampires and the wolves."
Sounds of agreement both sounded from Rosalie and Emmett. Our family was becoming divided on the subject more quickly than I had expected.
Just as before, a low growl sounded from Sam, who was now in human form. It quieted the room with a snap as all eyes turned to him.
"We're not going to kill her, Sam," Jacob said, tossing a murderous glance towards Jasper and all that were in agreement with him.
"We couldn't do it." Sue stood from her seat, taking a stance behind Sam. The line had been drawn.
"She could kill us all," Jasper stated. "We don't know what she's capable of."
"Edward said they don't have a history of violence," Sue retorted.
"They just killed off half the human population. I'd say that's pretty violent."
"Look," Jacob snapped. "Like it or not, Sam is still imprinted on Emily, meaning he is imprinted on Snow Castles or whatever her name is. The point is that some portion of Emily is still around. He can still feel a connection. No matter how weak it may be, it's still there. So if someone kills her that forces Sam to attack her murderer. Now how do you think that is going to play out?"
I could see Rosalie, Jasper and Emmett ruffle slightly. A fight between Vampires and Wolves would follow, and from experience, nothing good would come of it.
"Besides," Jacob said, softer this time. "How would you feel if this was happening to the person you loved?"
I felt proud of Jacob in that moment as he managed to get each and every person in this room to see the true nature of this problem.
"No one is killing Snow." I stepped forward with this declaration, putting an end to any further argument that may arise. Although, after what Jacob said, I wasn't sure how anyone was supposed to fight this. "I will not allow it." I looked pointedly at Jasper and Emmett, making myself clear. "Emily was three months pregnant prior to Snow's insertion. Meaning Snow is still pregnant."
I looked at Sam solemnly. This wasn't how I had wanted to break the news to him but given the direction of the conversation, I didn't see any other way.
Sam sat, frozen in shock as he looked at me blankly. I think a part of him was trying to come up with a reason as to why I would lie to him like this. I almost wished I was lying.
The room was in a similar state as they tried to process what I had just said. No one could quite believe it though. It wasn't foreseen, nor was it ideal. Unfortunately though, this was reality and this was what we had to face.
"Well that's just perfect," Rosalie hissed. "A glow worm can get pregnant but I still remain sterile."
Bella raised an eyebrow. "I can't believe you just said that." Neither could I.
No one said anything more after that but it was clear that nothing was to happen to Snow at this point. She was safe. At least until the baby was born.
The silence following Rose's outburst grew, until I finally broke it by turning to speak to Bella, ignoring Edward's warning glance. It was her mother, and she had a right to know.
"Bella, Edward did see in Snow's mind a way that we could try to remove the parasite and perhaps get your mother and Phil back."
Bella's eyes brightened with hope at my words, but Edward quickly cut in. "We have no way of knowing if it would actually work, and we could end up killing them," he warned.
"Who would you have us try the procedure out on first Edward? Emily? Mike? Angela? Every human in Forks is someone's loved one." I said quietly.
Edward was about to argue back, but Bella stopped him. "No, he's right. If it doesn't work then I'm no worse off than I was before, and if it does work, then I get my mother back." The pain and angst was clear in her voice.
"I'll do my best, Bella."
"I know, Carlisle."
After another awkward silence Billy Black spoke. "Unfortunately this still has not solved anything as far as our people are concerned. Not all of us are wolves, and none of us have the, um, natural protection that the Cullen family has against the invaders. What are we going to do to protect our people?"
"Snow is supposed to report back to them in a week," Edward said. "We can probably coerce her to report via phone that she is still not ready to begin implantation on the rest of the humans here. This may only buy us another week though. So whatever we're going to do, we need to do it quickly because we only have one week, two at tops, before they know that we're on to them."
"Then we need to evacuate." I'm not sure where the decision came from or when I had made it. It seemed like the logical choice at the moment however, and as I looked around the room, I saw that most agreed. "The women and children and anyone who knows about the wolves and vampires need to go to Esme's island.
"I'm not willing to take the chance that the wrong person will become infected and they suddenly know what we are and how to stop us. If we send everyone to Esme's island, that should prevent any unfortunate scenarios where that is concerned. The island is large enough to support everyone that we need to send and it's nearly impossible to infiltrate. And if it comes down to it, it's easily defendable. We'll just have to stock it with food before we send anyone."
"I know this doesn't sound ideal," Alice began. "But have the Volturi been contacted yet? Maybe they could help."
I frowned. The Volturi were the last beings I wanted to go to for help. Especially given the history between us all. Unfortunately, they were strong and had resources that we didn't. I hadn't, at the time, seen any other way.
"Yes," I began slowly. "I spoke with Aro earlier today. It seems that they have noticed a changed as well, but, as Aro put it 'They now taste better than ever Carlisle, you should try one.'" Behind me, Edward growled. The Volturi were never a favorite subject with him. "In short, they see no reason to prevent an invasion. Vampires can't be infected so they don't see this as a threat."
No one seemed especially surprised by this turn of events, and after a few more mumbled responses, everyone started to disband. Sam hung back though, waiting for almost everyone to leave before he stepped towards me. I was afraid of what he was about to ask, not knowing if I could give him an answer that wouldn't cause more pain.
"Did you need something Sam?" I asked as gently as I could. He was going through so much.
"I… can I…. can I see her?" Sam asked, struggling to maintain his composure.
I paused. "Sam I don't think-"
"Please," he said simply, but his face was a mask of contorted pain. "Please. I just need to see her. Only for a minute. Please."
I opened my mouth to protest again, when suddenly Alice danced over, a huge grin on her face.
"Carlisle!" she sang. "Something's changed!"
I raised an eyebrow in confusion, but then I saw Edward look up from Bella to stare at Alice, mouth hung open in surprise and wonder at what he saw in her mind.
"The future," Alice trilled. "It's changing Carlisle. There is hope again!"
A/N: As you may or may not have noticed, the original version of this story has been deleted.
This is because it just went through a massive edit & I simply didn't have time to update each and every chapter on here.
Also, I always intended to publish a paperback version of this story for my own bookshelves, so I did that at LULU. com (where you can purchase your own copy, AT COST. I am NOT making a profit.)
You can also download a free e-book/pdf version of the story at LULU. com as well.
Here's the link: www. lulu product/download/event-horizon/6047813
Thanks for all the loyal reading! :) Love you guys!