This is my first attempt at fanfiction. Please let me know what you think.
I have to give a special thanks to Projectteambeta and their betas, Twimarti and Ina, for their very valuable input into this first chapter. And, to EveryDayBella for pre-reading this for me.
As always, I do not own Twilight. I wish I did. All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer.
August 3, 1992 – Remote area of the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation – Arizona
The building was dark and quiet, too quiet. The team silently surrounded the small house, creeping ever closer like a tide encroaching on the sand. Each of the men was alert, focused on the target, ready to move into action. The leader quickly raised his palm near his face in a signal to stop, and his men froze against the hard earth. He stared at the house. They were only 20 yards from it now. He lowered his night vision goggles into place and watched the building. There wasn't a single sign of life. It was pitch black. He had the sinking feeling that something wasn't right, that something had gone wrong. He looked off to his left and gave the hand single that sent three of his men around the left side of the house and two off to the right, just off the front corner. He waited for the return signal to tell him. His heart was beating fast, but he ignored it. His mind quickly fell into an extreme focus. He checked his rifle and backup side arm. He was ready.
Then, the signal came from the team. They were all ready. He again focused on the house, assessing any threat that may be there. There was nothing; no movement, no sound, no light. It was now or never. He held his hand up, clinched his fist, and pulled it back down again—the signal to go. He counted to three in his head and began a quick sprint to the front door. He held his body low to the ground as he rapidly closed the distance to the house. He reached the door in mere seconds and quickly fired two short bursts into the door handle. The sound was muted, the gun's silencers muffling the noise. The door swung free on its hinges and he entered the building, rifle in hand. He knew his team was following the same procedure at the back door. Two of his men followed him in through the front door. He peered through the night vision goggles, silently moving through each room. The men rotated their positions as they moved through the house, covering each other's backs as they searched the rooms for what they were looking for. Each of the men's senses were heightened, ready and searching for any attack that may come. But none came.
As he reached the back room, five bodies lay still on the ground. He heard a movement from behind and whirled around to find one of his team standing a few yards back. The team member gave him an all-clear signal. The house was secure. He motioned with his hands that they could come out of silent mode and pulled off his helmet.
"Damn it, they're all dead," he said, disgusted. Someone else had gotten there first. They had known his team was coming. Thank God they hadn't ambushed his team.
"Contact base and let them know we have the inside secure, but that I doubt what we were looking for is even here anymore. They need to get the 'copters up to see if the surrounding area remains secure. We will need a forensics team in here stat." He sighed and shook his head. He was so close. He pulled out his flashlight and took a closer look at the bodies. They were all face down, fully clothed. He went to check the pulse on the first, and as he felt the neck, he couldn't feel a pulse at all, but he could feel the large gash in the side of the neck. Each body was the same.
"No need for an ambulance. They're all dead," he said as anger swirled around him.
"Damn it!" How had they known he was coming? He really thought he'd had them this time. His team began searching the rest of the house more thoroughly for the documentation they had come to secure, but he knew it wouldn't be here. They were always one step ahead, often miles ahead.
In less than ten minutes he could hear the two helicopters hovering over the house. They would secure the surrounding area to make sure whoever had been here wasn't still close by, but he knew they weren't. The bodies were already quite cooled. He would have to wait for the forensic team to show up. He gathered up his men for a briefing outside. As he stepped out into the hot desert air, his eyes quickly found his boss waiting for him near the back of the house. It was going to be a long night.
August 3, 1992 – Scottsdale, Arizona
I loved this time of the day—twilight—the time after the sun has set but before blackness takes over. It turned the entire desert into a beautiful dreamy blue. I hurried across our back yard towards the large outcropping of rock in the corner of our oversized back yard. I loved this rock. It was my favorite place to think. The rock was large and flat, tilting down away from the house so when you were on it, you wouldn't be seen from the house. It was surrounded by ocotillo and desert willow. One large saguaro grew near the side of the rock. The plants sheltered the rock so that I felt isolated, like no one could find me when I was here. If I were to climb to the top of my rock and peer over, I could see my back yard, swimming pool, and the small ranch house—my home. I knew if I did that now, I would see my mother working in the kitchen through the window, probably humming to herself as she prepared dinner.
I lay on my back and stared up at the sky as had done most summer nights. I counted the stars as they slowly twinkled into existence for the night. It wouldn't be long now, and I would be able to start searching for the constellations, remembering the wonderful stories and legends that accompanied each of them. When my father was home, we often sat in the lawn chairs by the pool and he would tell me each story. I loved the story of Cygnus the swan, and how Apollo changed him into a swan and placed him in the heavens when he risked his life to find the body of his friend, Phaethon. Phaethon, the son of Helios the Sun God, had gotten his father to agree to let him drive his sun chariot, and his reckless driving threatened to destroy the Earth, so Zeus struck him down. I liked the fact that Cygnus was loyal and devoted to his friend, even despite his friend's shortcomings.
Dad wasn't around as much as he used to be. His job kept him very busy in those days. So when he wasn't around, I would steal myself away to my rock, watch the stars, and tell myself the stories of the constellations and imagine him there with me. I lay still as twilight turned to night. The crickets came out of hiding and began making their beautiful music. In the distance a coyote yelped to his pack. The yelping was returned by the remaining pack as they coordinated their movements in the hunt. These were all noises that I was familiar with, noises that comforted me, that told me I was home.
I continued to stare into the sky, searching for my favorite constellations, Sagittarius, Scorpius, Lyra, and Cygnus. A quiet calm enveloped me. Mom would be calling me in for dinner soon, but I was content to lie here awhile longer. It was then that I noticed how quiet it had become. The coyotes had suddenly fallen silent. It was strange the way they had become so silent. The crickets had stopped too. In fact, I couldn't hear any animals at all. My skin began to prickle.
Then, the sound came to me fast and furious and pierced the quiet, shattering it to pieces. It was a sound that would haunt my dreams for the rest of my life. The blood curdling scream coming from the house. Every hair on my body stood on end. I was frozen in place from terror. It took seconds, but felt like hours, for my body to respond to what my head was telling me. Mom was in trouble, and I had to get to her. I finally flipped myself over and climbed up the rock to see over the top. As I reached the top, the second scream came barreling over the air and was suddenly cut to silence. I knew it was going to be terrible, that I was too late. I immediately stared over the top of the rock, ready to bolt over it and across the lawn to Mom, but what I saw stopped me in my tracks.
There were three of them standing on the back porch between the pool and the back door. They were well dressed, all in black. Their skin was pale as the moon. Two of them smiled at each other. It wasn't a smile of friendship or joy, but evil, menacing. Two more came out of the house, moving effortlessly across the porch. They began talking amongst themselves, but their lips moved so quickly they surely couldn't understand each other. After a few minutes they turned to leave across the yard, out to the desert mountains behind our house. But what I saw then chilled me to the core. As one turned to leave, he stared in my direction and his eyes shown bright red as blood. I slid down the rock, heart pounding out of my chest. Oh God, please don't let him have seen me, please. My mind was reeling. Could I have really seen them? I was frozen in sheer terror curled up on my rock, and that is where I stayed until the morning broke and my Dad's frantic cries pierced the breaking dawn.
August 4, 1992 - Phoenix, Arizona
It had been a very long night. Nine months of work down the drain, wasted, and for naught, his thoughts consumed him. The initial debriefing had finally wound down after hours of reviewing what went wrong. The four men at the table were exhausted.
The agent who led the failed mission looked at his watch to see it was close to four in the morning. He was tired and just wanted to go home. As he stared at his cold cup of coffee in front him, he listened to his boss's phone conversation with the forensics team. His thoughts drifted away, replaying the weeks leading up to this disastrous night, trying desperately to figure out what happened.
"Mark from forensics is on his way over here. He should be here in about five minutes." His boss's tired voice brought him out of his thoughts and into the present moment.
"Uh, okay." He rubbed his hands along the stubble of his chin and up over his tired eyes.
"After we talk to Mark, you can go home. Take the rest of the day off, but we are going to have to break this down more." His boss's eyes were just as tired as his, but they still contained the same disappointment and frustration as the rest of the men at the table. His boss would want answers, and he knew it wouldn't just end there. He would have others up the chain of command who would want answers too.
The door opened suddenly, and a very bright-eyed young man came swiftly into the room. He plopped himself in the chair next to him and dropped his folder on the table. "They didn't die at the house," he blurted out as soon as he sat. Mark Coleman was new to the forensics team, but was very good. He loved his work. Nothing excited him more than solving the puzzle pieces of a good crime.
The agent looked at him, confused. "What?"
"They didn't die at the house. They were obviously moved to that location after death," the young man stated. He had a big grin on his face. Mark loved his work. He was completely energized by it, regardless of how gruesome it was.
"That doesn't make any sense. We had contact with them an hour before. They were at the house."
Mark looked at him quizzically. "Well, then they left and were brought back. "
The agent sighed and rubbed his eyes again. It didn't make sense. "Why? How do you know this?"
Mark smiled and almost bounced in his seat. "The bodies all had large lacerations to the side of the throat. This was the cause of death. They must have bled out tremendously. All five were almost completely drained of blood, which is weird, because it is hard to drain that much blood just by allowing someone to bleed out. Usually, you would have to mechanically remove the blood to get that much out."
"But that doesn't explain how you know they didn't die at the house."
Mark looked at him, eyes focused on him. "Did you notice blood around the bodies when you first examined them?" he asked him.
"No." Now he understood.
"Right," Mark continued. "There wasn't any blood at the scene. With lacerations of this type, there should have been tremendous amounts of 'blood splatter' around the room. For that matter, where was any of the blood? The bodies were nearly drained of all blood, yet there wasn't any pooling blood around the bodies. In fact, there were only a few drops in the room."
He paused for a moment while we took in the information.
"They had to be moved. However, there are no blood trails around the house or leading into the house. They must have been wrapped up and brought in. Really, the lack of blood anywhere in or near the house is amazing. "
He sighed. They were too good, and he was beyond frustrated right now.
The secretary's voice came in over the phone system. "Agent Swan, I am sorry to interrupt, but there is a call for you on line two."
"Uh, okay, thanks, I'll take it." He reached for the phone. "Excuse me for a second, gentlemen." He lifted the receiver to his ear. "This is Agent Swan."
"Hello, Agent Swan, I am so sorry I missed you this evening." All the exhaustion left his body in a microsecond as adrenaline flooded his system. He had never heard the soft velvety voice before, but he knew instantly who it was. The others in the room stared at him after noticing his response. He quickly motioned to his boss to begin recording the call and to put on a trace.
"Yes, well, you should have stuck around," he replied, trying to sound calm and cool but unable to hide the irritation in his voice.
"Ah, it would have been so much fun. I have so wanted to meet you in person, Agent Swan." His voice sounded so jolly, as if they were old friends.
"I would have expected that from you. I was disappointed you didn't stick around. I thought you would have seized the opportunity for an ambush. I don't see you as a man who would have left his work unfinished." He was baiting the voice, hoping for it to slip up.
He heard the laughter on the other end. "Ah, Agent Swan, you are so delightful. I didn't leave my work unfinished at all. My wonderful distraction worked charmingly well. I was able to accomplish so much this evening." The voice paused. "Now, Agent Swan, you really must remember who you are dealing with."
"I know exactly whom I am dealing with," he said with acid in his voice.
"Now, now, Agent Swan, don't get upset. It has been such a wonderful evening for me. I wouldn't want to end it on a bad note." There was pause on the other end, and then the voice came in low and more serious. "By the way, Agent Swan, your wife looks lovely in lavender." Agent Swan's eyes opened wide as his jaw dropped. Seconds seemed to be years, and he couldn't find his voice as his whole body froze like a statue and his mind raced to catch up to the realization of what he had just heard. Before he could respond, the voice continued, "I really must go, Agent Swan. Please take care." The line went dead.
The other agents in the room stared at his reaction. He looked at his boss and choked out the words, "Renee. He's been to the house. Renee! Bella!" At that instant, the entire room burst into activity. Agent Swan ran from the room to get to his car, the members of his team on his heels. In the same instant, his boss was on the phone barking orders to get the police to Agent Swan's house and to make sure the trace worked on the call. Agent Swan didn't hear any of it as he was already in the parking lot running for his car.
August 4, 1992 – Scottsdale Arizona
I stayed on that hard rock, unable to move until the cold night air took me away and I passed into a fitful sleep. I dreamed of red-eyed beasts and dark shapes coming for me. I dreamed of my mother holding me tight, singing to me. I dreamed of my father pointing to the night sky, telling me fantastic stories of magical beings that didn't exist. Finally, I dreamed of a bronze haired boy with emerald green eyes whose smile brought warmth and happiness to me. He reached his hands out to me, beckoning me to come with him, and I smiled back and reached to take his hand. I would follow him to the ends of the earth. But as I reached for him, he became farther away. I tried harder to stretch for his hand, and I couldn't get there. His smile faded, and he looked scared. He began to call my name. "Bella. Bella. Bella." His voice was pleading and scared. I kept reaching for him, but I couldn't get to him. I had to reach him. "Bella," he cried again. Why couldn't I reach him? I stared into his emerald eyes as they turned pitch black, and he screamed, "Beellllla!"
My eyes jerked open, my breathing coming fast. I could hear the voices calling for me. They were panicked and desperate. I lifted my head and saw that I was still curled up on my rock. The sun was rising over the horizon, bathing the desert in long blue shadows as the darkness slipped to day. Then, it all came back to me like a wrecking ball. I began to shake, unable to make my body respond.
"Bellllla! Bellllla!" I heard my father's pleading cries, and I cried out to him in a trembling voice, "Daaaddddy!"
"Bella! Over here, she's over here." I heard him scrambling around my rock through the desert willow to get to me.
I turned my face to his as he scooped me into his arms and began rocking me. "Oh God, Bella, you're safe, your okay. Oh God, Bella, Oh God." He kept saying it over and over again as he rocked me. My whole body shook violently as sobs escaped my throat, and I clung desperately to his shirt. Suddenly, we were surrounded by lots of people who were trying to coax me out of my father's arms. He clung to me tightly and refused to let go of me. I could see the tears streaming down his face. He lifted me in his arms and began to carry me around the side of the house and into the front yard. It was then that I noticed the police cars and ambulances around the house, and I knew that all my fears were real.
That day, August 3rd, my life was stolen from me. It would never be the same. It would never be as it should have been. My mother was stolen from me. I would never again hear her laugh during our playful games, or feel her soft kisses on my forehead at night before I fell asleep. My father, as I knew him, was stolen from me. I still had Charlie, but he would never be the same man again. My home was stolen from me. Within weeks of my mother's death, Charlie packed us up, quit his job, and moved us to Forks, WA. My childhood was stolen from me. My innocence was shattered, and gone were the days of simple childhood enjoyments. I grew up that day and grew up even more in the years that followed as I helped to take care of Charlie in our new home of endless rain and responsibilities. My life was stolen from me, and from that day, I vowed to find the man who stole it and get my retribution for it.