Silence like dead air filled the void space and no one dared to breathe as they waited to hear the first crunches of earth thundering towards them. It would happen quickly, Jasper knew. Newborns were determinedly single-minded creatures with little humanity and an unquenchable thirst for blood. He watched the small shaft of light hit the top of the largest pine. This was what Alice had seen in her vision.
Dawn broke, not with a sweet song of the summer swallows but with a war cry. A disorganized battalion of Klaus' newborn vampires broke into the clearing, wildly searching for their prey, the source of the blood whose scent still lingered on evergreen needles and leaves that led them to this space.
Jasper took advantage of their confusion and gave the signal that would begin the battle. He and the others burst through the shelter of the forest evergreens, barreling forth in a blur of wind, barely visible to the human eye. The wolves followed next, leaping through the air, their lips pulled back over their teeth, jaws snapping ready to rip at marbleized flesh. This was their destiny, what they were made for and they took to it with gleeful abandon, knowing they served a purpose, to protect human life at all cost.
Bonnie stood in the shadows; a warrior priestess garbed in blue jeans. Her hands fisted at her sides as she gathered the strength of her Wiccan sisters. Jake and Seth flanked her sides, serving as her guardians. She was an honorary member of their pack now and they would protect her as Jake's imprint at all costs.
Words fell from her lips in an ancient language. Wind swirled around her, picking up and gathering speed. Closing her eyes, her arm shot forward, aiming her power towards the direction of the fighting fray. Screams of pain and tearing limbs reached her ears. It was working. Newborn bodies were falling like domino pieces and being ripped apart. A decapitated head rolled toward her like a bowling ball, hitting her leg. She jumped back with a screech, her concentration broken.
"Bonnie!" Stefan shouted at her.
Her head snapped up in the direction of his voice. He was on his knees, grasping at his ears with a newborn swiftly coming up behind him. Damn it. Ignoring the dead, crimson eyes that stared up at her, she pulled back, directing full force at the vampire bearing down on Stefan. He whipped around, grabbing either side of the newborn's head and ripped it off, sending it spiraling into a bonfire of detached vampire bodies and purple smoke that held the scent of burnt hair and maple syrup.
Alaric was perched above them on a sturdy branch, trying to aim his modified diamond cutting laser gun.
"Damn it," he muttered to himself, swinging the barrel of the gun back and forth, looking for a mark. There were just too many of them, moving too quickly he couldn't manage to get a clear shot. "Wait a second." He tracked the movement of one sneaking up on Elijah. "Come on you bastard. There!" He fired off, the beam hitting it's mark, cutting a line right across the chest, effectively severing the body from the shoulders. "And that's how you slay a vampire, human style."
Elijah shot a surprised look at him before sending him a slight nod of thanks and sought out his next conquest.
Rebekah watched from a cautious distance, never joining the fight but instead retreated backwards, out of sight. She had nothing in common with these people, yet, looking out at their faces, knowing that they were fighting out of love and loyalty, she felt jealousy consume her. Would anyone, even her brothers, fight for her as fiercely as they were for these two insignificant human girls and their loved ones? Klaus wasn't even here, not that she could see. Wasn't that the whole point? Wasn't that what her brother had promised? Retribution. There was none to be had that she could see.
She never signed up for this. She had been volunteered. Damn Elijah and his misplaced moral and ethical obligations. What did she care what happened to the Cullens , the Salvatores and those insipid human girls? She retreated even further away, not sure if she was pleased or disappointed that no one noticed she wasn't there, in the midst of things. It just added more evidence that this was a complete waste of time and she didn't belong here.
"Well, well, well."
She gasped, startled. She hadn't heard that voice in over eighty years but she would know it anywhere.
"If it isn't my rebellious sister, Rebekah."
The way he said her name, like a taunting reprimand still sent shivers of fear through her. Stealing her shoulders, she turned around. Klaus was leaning against a tree, arms crossed in front of him. He looked exactly the same, just in modern dress, still carrying that same blase' expression that hid the manic madness that simmered beneath a thin veneer of charm. He leisurely pushed himself off the tree and advanced towards her slowly. His smile was a lazy sneer, close-lipped and one-sided.
"Klaus," she acknowledged him with a stubborn tilt to her chin. "I would say I'm happy to see you again but I'm really not, considering the last time I saw you."
"Oh, come now, Bekah, after all we've been through together? It was you and me against the world once."
"That was before you plunged a stake through my heart and tossed me in a coffin to rot for eighty years."
"You had disappointed me. I was in a mood." He shrugged as if he couldn't care less. "It ended badly, but I know how we can make amends."
"I don't want to make amends. I want nothing to do with you."
"I'm not giving you a choice."
"You can't kill me." Even as she said it, she hoped he didn't pull out a shaft of white oak from behind his back and stake her with it. No, he wanted something from her. But what?
"Maybe not." He eyed her up and down. "But I can rip off your arms and legs quite easily," he said with a malicious grin. "Imagine that, Rebakah, just a torso with a head really. Useless stumps where your limbs used to be, living the rest of your days begging for every scrap of blood because you'd be too helpless to get it for yourself. Reduced to relying on the kindness of strangers. Picture, if you will, the stares of horror and the shrieks from young children every time you dared go out in public, having to be wheeled around like the invalid you would be. I doubt eighty years locked in a box cured you of your vanity. It would be a fate worse than death, I think." He cocked his head at her thoughtfully, silently daring her to disagree.
It was a horrific picture he painted. Rebekah chilled at the image. She had no doubts that he would do it. Klaus had always been cruel and self-serving.
She gave a resigned sigh. "What do you want?"
Klaus chuckled and looked up into a nearby tree. "See Victoria, I told you she would see things my way. No need for excessive violence when we can bargain." He brought his focus back to his sister. "Much less mess that way."
A woman with gnarly, tangled curls of red hair jumped from the tree branch above them. "But a lot more entertaining." Victoria frowned.
"Perhaps. Now, Bekah, this is important. I need to know where Isabella Swan is being stashed. You do know, don't you?"
If she told them, she'd have to leave, run far away so she could never be found. She didn't trust Klaus not to tell anyone where he got the information from. He liked to brag too much. Her life wouldn't mean much after that. Elijah would take it as a betrayal at the very least even if Kol and Finn backed her. She didn't want to think about what the Cullens and the Salvatore brothers would do. Perhaps something worse than what Klaus was threatening.
"Clocks ticking," Victoria reminded her. "And in case you haven't noticed, I'm not very patient. What do you say, Klaus? Right arm first?"
"Stop." Her voice trembled as her bottom lip quivered slightly. "Fine, I'll tell you. She's north of here, in the highest cabin on the mountain. Up there." She pointed, towards a mountain ridge obscured by tall trees. "They masked her scent with the wolves. If you follow that, you'll find her."
"Thank you, sister. Perhaps there's hope for a familial reconciliation yet."
"Don't bet on it."
She watched them go, felt the breeze follow them and consoled herself with the fact that they left her no choice. Turning in the opposite direction, she ran towards the battle with a building vengeance. To join the fight might be the only way her brothers would forgive such a betrayal.
Edward felt the shift of wind behind him. Reaching back, he grabbed hold of the newborn, flipped him over his shoulder and pounced. With one twist, he wrenched the head off the body and threw it at the vampire who was charging towards Esme. It was his fourth kill of the morning but he felt no sense of victory, no sense of rightness.
Something was wrong. He shook off the feeling. He had to believe Bella was safe with every fiber of his being. Thinking any other way would lead to insanity. There was no room for distractions.
"Edward! Look Out!" He heard Carlisle's cry right before he felt it; a piercing of rabid teeth ripping into his shoulder. He roared in pain, attempting to fling the newborn off him but the teeth sink in further.
Just as quickly as it happened, the weight from his body was gone. Grabbing at the mangled portion of his shoulder, feeling the leaking venom seep through what was left of his shirt, he dropped to his knees. Through pain hazed eyes, he watched Emmett mercilessly destroying his attacker. Unable to bear the pain any longer, he dropped to his knees.
Carlisle ran up beside him, frantic thoughts running through his head. "Let me see your arm."
"No time," Edward said through clenched teeth as he tried to stand up.
"No more fighting for you, not if you want to save your arm." Carlisle glanced behind him before inspecting the tear. There were only a few of the newborns left and they were losing quickly. The rest of his family, while not completely unscathed, had fared better than his oldest son. Even now he could hear Emmett's triumphant shouts. "It's almost over anyway."
He glanced down at his appendage as it dangled uselessly from his shoulder, nearly completely severed off. He even had the newborn's broken off teeth boldly embedded in his skin with venom. Edward nodded in defeat and hated himself for admitting it. Yet, Carlisle was right. There would be no more fighting for him today, not in his weakened state.
"Good. I have venom stored at the house. We can seal it there. Your own venom has already started the healing process."
Edward didn't ask why Carlisle had kept venom on hand. He already knew. It was for Bella. Just in case. With his father's help, he stumbled along, each step causing shooting pain to travel up his arm. He hated to leave. He wanted to see it through to the end. He wanted to be the one to kill Klaus and Victoria, to look into their eyes as he ripped their heads from their bodies, wanted to watch the fire as it burned every last particle.
They hadn't been there, he thought in a panic, at least not from what he had seen. Where the hell were they?
Bella had barely begun to sleep out of her eyes before she felt someone shaking her awake. Every time she had closed her eyes, some nightmarish vision plagued her thoughts.
"Everyone up now!"
It was Alice in full panic mode. That was never a good thing. She sat up and rolled her neck around to remove the kinks in it before reaching for her sneakers under the cot. The cabin was cloaked in absolute darkness except for Alice's pale glow blurring around the room. For such a small thing, she was making a lot of noise.
"What's going on?" Elena mumbled sleepily from under Damon's arm.
"Klaus and Victoria are on their way here," Alice explained as she turned on a large flashlight. "Bella, Elena, you have to make a run for it. Damon and I will head them off before they get here."
"Hey, I thought you said they were safe here." Damon sat up gave her an accusing stare.
"We were. I don't know what happened. I just had a small burst of a vision that they were on their way here."
"Looks like it's time to lock and load." His eyes went to the two laser guns courtesy of Ric. "Bella and Elena should take the Vampinators."
"Vampinators?" Bella shoved her hair from her face and cocked an eyebrow at her brother. "Seriously?"
"I thought it was funny and apropos."
"Are we really going to argue over pet names for the guns?" Alice crossed her arms at them. "What part of 'Klaus and Victoria are on their way' did you not understand. Just take them and go. Hurry!"
Bella and Elena ran out the door of the cabin, scrambling through the woods with only the barest hint of sunrise to guide their way. They would have to hike upward, Bella thought. If they went down, they ran the risk of running into Klaus. She looked at the terrain around them and realized she wouldn't be able to do it, not with Jake's clothes making her movements cumbersome. She shed the clothes as they went, tossing them in different directions hoping it would throw Klaus and Vicki off their trail.
Her breath swirled around her in a vaporous mist as they trekked over rocks, pushing tree branches out of their way. She hadn't accounted for how cold it would be without the layers of warmth Jake's clothes provided her with. She felt too exposed, too vulnerable out here, not to mention she left her scent everywhere she moved.
She tried to remain hopeful but it was difficult. There were too many variables against them, against all of them. Running was futile wasn't it? She had no doubt they could be and would be tracked. Did Damon and Alice stand a chance when she and Elena had the only weapons? Two against two sounded like a fair fight but Damon wasn't a cold one. She hated to think of him as weak. In comparison, he may be as cunning but he wasn't impenetrable, not like Alice was. If he were to be bitten, what then? How would the venom affect him?
"I have to go back," Bella told Elena as she gasped for air. The high altitude mixed with the running were making her out of breath and dizzy. "You go on ahead."
"What?" Elena stopped short and turned around, her jaw agape. "No." She shook her head stubbornly. "We stick together. If you go back, I go back."
"No, Bella. I won't do it. Don't ask me to. I know what you're going to do. Count me in." She gave a determined smile and tightened her fingers around the weapon growing heavier in her hand. "Besides, would you leave me to face them alone?"
Bella's lips compressed. Elena had point and she knew it. She wouldn't abandon Elena if the roles were reversed. Knowing what she knew of her new friend, she should've anticipated her reaction. Edward would flip if he knew what they were going to do. She could practically hear his voice in her head, demanding that she run the other way.
"Okay, fine, but first we need a plan."
It was over, Jasper thought as they stood around the bonfire of broken off limbs, torsos and heads, watching the dark purple smoke waft upwards and dissipate into the sky. He should feel victorious but he didn't. He was reminded of his days in the Civil War where brother fought against brother and no one felt the loss of life or their hand in it until the fight was over and the adrenaline wore off. It was too easy to lose sight of what you were doing only because you thought what you were doing was right. By the time it was over and done and you were staring at the destruction you had a hand in reaping did it really hit full force.
It wasn't much compensation knowing that these were the burning bodies of newborn vampires whose only purpose was to kill them first or that the world was better off without these blood ravenous un-dead beasts. They never asked for this life. They didn't have a man like Carlisle, easing them from certain death and guiding their way. They were someone's child, parent, brother, sister, lover. They were the faces on missing persons posters plastered all over the walls of police stations in every county in Washington State and beyond. They had been loved. Now they were the dead pawns in the twisted vengeance of a madman.
"Why so glum, chum?" Emmett bumped his shoulder against his as they walked back to the house. "We kicked ass out there today."
Jasper offered him up a grim, tight lipped smile and kicked at a rock in his path, sending it flying. "Yeah, we definitely did that," he agreed in a soft voice that was anything but sincere.
"You're worried about Edward, aren't you? He'll be fine bro. Carlisle will patch him up as good as new. He must be pissed though, he had to pull out just as things were tidying up. Can't help wondering why Klaus was a no show. I was looking forward to whipping his ass into the next century."
That was another concern. Where was Klaus and his red-haired side-kick? He had expected them to make an appearance towards the end after sending in their pawns first. But they never showed.
A wave of guilt hit him and he knew it wasn't his own. He stopped, his eyes darting around, trying to pinpoint where it was coming from. Again it hit, this time almost knocking him to his feet. He gaze landed on the blonde haired Original and snarled. She met his stare and looked away, recoiling.
"You!" Jasper stalked up to her but Kol stepped in between them.
"Back off, Tex." He went to push Jasper back but he was quicker and grabbed Kol's wrist, stopping him.
"I wouldn't if I were you. Your sister knows something. I want to know what it is."
"What could I possibly know?" She threw her arms up defensively. "I've been fighting along side all of you the whole time."
"Not the whole time, Rebekah," Elijah reminded her, sounding like a chastising parent.
"Thanks a lot for throwing me to the wolves, 'Lijah." She shot him a hard glare. "So much for the family loyalty you're always going on about. I'm out of here."
"The wolves are behind you, darlin' and they're not the ones you should be worried about." Jasper blurred around Kol and grabbed Rebekah's arm. He gave her his best Southern charm smile, but his eyes darkened perceptively. "Now, why don't you explain to me why you feel more ashamed than a whore in church on confession day?"