"No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" Claire says, and her voice rises with each repetition. "They can't have gone! They knew that we'd be coming back with Myrnin, and that there was pretty much a one hundred percent likelihood that he'd be staked."
This surprises me; Amelie would expect Claire to stake him – would have expected me to, even though I had no weapon – and seeing him as he is wouldn't have been a shock. "You mean that she wanted him staked?" I try and confirm, and she shrugs, dropping the vampire down to the floor because she looks exhausted.
Rolling her eyes, Claire looks at me, and I can tell for the first time that she has the attitude I supposed you would need to have, living in this town. The outside world has humans and vampires living together, sort of – or at least in the open, with them being more even due to the fact that there are so many less vampires in the world than humans – whereas here, vampires are at the top of the food chain. "Of course she'd expect that," Claire says to me, the exasperation in her tone accountable to the lack of good guys here – otherwise, my southern manners would be getting the better of me. "He's dangerous, Sookie; you can tell, I know you can…he doesn't know what is him and what is the disease, and that's what makes him the most dangerous, scary, misunderstood and vulnerable vampire there is. He's been fighting this off for so long – he should have been dead by now three times over, according to Amelie and the lifespan of the other diseased vampires – and so…so he needs to be kept under control. Staking is the only way to do that – and he'll be fine. Honestly." She looks sure, really she does, but there's a catch in her voice that sounds as though maybe, just maybe, she doesn't believe that he'll fully recover.
It isn't my issue; it was my job to retrieve him, something I've now managed to do with Claire, and now we need to get him to Amelie, or one of her vampires, to remove the stake and give him blood, so he doesn't hurt us. Then, we can get on with the rest of the mission, to remove whoever this Bishop is, from his seat of power in Morganville.
"Ok, so where do you think we should go now?" I ask Claire, reaching over to grab one of Myrnin's arms. It's a strange name, much stranger than any vampire's name I've heard before – actually, perhaps maybe Eric's maker's name was a little weirder, to be fair – and I was sure it's a girl's name, but that's by-the-by. "Back the way we came into this place…or is that too risky?"
Claire shrugs, and I get the feeling that she doesn't know; I've tried to avoid reading her thoughts, to increase her privacy, but as I listen in, I realise that we're in the same predicament: neither of us know where we are, and there's an enemy around us. No vampires are here, or their human allies, but that doesn't mean that they can't be here within a few minutes, or that they've not set booby traps for us…you never know with vampires, after all.
"Let's go back to where we originally were meant to wait and let's see if they've left any clues," Claire suggest finally, hoisting Myrnin up with me. I feel sorry for her. She's sixteen and she's doing so much…I couldn't imagine life like that at her age, I really couldn't. "After all, I was meant to wait there – and whenever we do meet up, Amelie'll be pissed that I didn't follow orders." She smiles slightly as she walks, and I can't help but laugh at her weak attempt to alleviate the tension.
"Well, she didn't seem very happy when she was arguing with Eric about which one of us to send," I agree, barely paying attention to the conversation as I try and strain to hear anything from the vampires. Even enemy vampires would be acceptable at this point, because there's a chance that they'd be near to Eric and Amelie, so we'd then be saved.
"Amelie's never happy," Claire surprises me by saying; is she not loyal to Amelie by giving her nought but respect? "I mean…she gets what she wants, but that isn't always what she wants, if that makes sense."
The blank look on my face makes it obvious that her words don't make sense to me, so she tries again.
"Ok, so she does what's right for other people a lot – and the town," Claire repeats, yet with more clarity. "But that isn't what she, in her heart, wants; for instance, let's take Sam. She loves him – that much is obvious, right?"
"Definitely," I agree, because they're the only two I've seen so far in this town, who are apparently a couple, who look like they are.
"Well, she hasn't been with Sam for fifty years," Claire continues, surprising me again. "Her enemies knew that he was her weakness, and that to get to Amelie, they need only get to Sam. She didn't want to risk him getting hurt, so she pushed him away, saying she didn't want him, and told other vampires to ignore him on pain of death. And so that's what happened; at the Welcome Feast tonight, that was pretty much the first time they've been in the same room for more than a few minutes in all that time…besides when he got staked, and she saved him, proving her love for him, that is." Claire corrects herself at the end, but I don't reply, because we're back at the cavernous area we were in earlier, the one where Claire, Eric and Sam were told to wait behind.
Absolutely nothing here.
"We're screwed," I say, setting Myrnin down on the floor; his body seems a little paler, or that could just be me presuming the stake is affecting him. "There isn't anyone here! We'll get lost, or we'll be captured and everything will be for nothing."
Claire begins to speak in agreement with me, until she gasps in shock. "Sookie, look!" she exclaims, dragging me to face the same direction as her.
Hovering in the far corner is a hologram of a woman.
"Hello," the hologram speaks, gliding towards us. "You must be Sookie and Claire. My name is Ada.
"I'm the machine that keeps Morganville as it is."
AN2: please don't favourite/alert without reviewing.