Okay, here we go. The big one. i am crazy nervous, so reviews would be much appreciated.
I have the best readers of all time. And the best beta too. Thanks Donna.
I own nothing Twilight.
Thirty-six vampires and seven wolves move briskly through my forest at daybreak. We are silent and dispersed over about a mile stretch. There is no need to run, but all of us are far too antsy to move any slower.
The throbbing in my head matches my silent footsteps and despite Edward's hand in mine, I can't seem to really feel anything other than the pain in my head and fear for my daughter in my heart. Still, Edward and I move as one being towards the clearing. I can't see any of our allies, but I sense them.
Garrett and Kate are the closest. In the last few days they've ceased their bickering, rarely leaving the other's side.
Jasper, Peter, and Emmett stay near Victoria and her mini newborn army, followed closely by their mates. Carlisle clearly explained the situation, gave the young ones the choice. He was surprised when they agreed to join us. The oldest, Riley, explained that they don't have anywhere else to go.
The Amazonians and Hullen swing through the canopy above our heads, more comfortable travelling through the trees than moving on foot.
The rest are near, moving just as efficiently and quietly while the wolves run ahead.
It is not long before we are emerging from the forest, gathering near the edge of the trees. The clearing is large and flat, resting in a valley between several jagged peaks. We know this land and it is an unbelievable advantage, one Aro has no problem handing over. It's just further proof that he's lost his edge and quite possibly his sanity as well.
No words are necessary as we take our positions. With my family in the center, the rest of the vampires fan out around us in a wide semi circle with the wolves flanking both sides of the arch.
I am in the very middle, standing slightly ahead of Carlisle and Edward on my either side. My husband's grip becomes so tight it is painful, but it is nothing compared to the sensation radiating from my skull.
Jake approaches me, pushing his giant wolf head into my shoulder. I scratch his ears, trying to ignore the fear readily apparent in his yellow eyes.
With a sigh I remove my fingers from his thick russet fur.
"Here," I say, pulling a pouch out of my pocket. The wolf in front of me cocks his head to the side. I've waited for the last possible moment for this, anticipating an argument from Jake. "It's passports for you and Vanessa. If this doesn't go well, you'll be William and Elizabeth Wolfe. There are credit cards in your new name, money, a list of safe houses and keys to the property. I'm the only one who knows so you should be safe. There are plane tickets too."
Jacob let's out a whimper, pushing his head into my shoulder again.
"Just in case," I murmur, reaching around him to attach the pouch to his neck with a great big collar.
He pulls away a moment later, giving me a final pleading look.
"Go," I say. "Everything will work out."
And he disappears into the woods, assuming the agreed upon position. Edward laces his fingers through mine again and there is nothing left to do but wait.
"They are in range," Edward murmurs, saying what we all already know. We sense their approach immediately. I quickly take stock, noting without surprise that the three are accompanied by the entire guard.
Edward let's out a snort and a ripple of surprise runs through our line as heads snap to stare at my husband.
"Aro is a fool," he says, continuing to talk quietly so only our group can hear. "Although he is mildly shocked by our numbers, he isn't even remotely concerned. You were right, Bella. He is blinded by his own power. We are not perceived as a threat."
The vampires surrounding me mutter to each other.
"Does he suspect Dmitri?" I ask. This is one real flaw in my plan. If he suspects Dmitri lied then he'll start touching everyone and we'll be totally fucked.
"No," replies Edward, squinting his eyes as he focuses on Aro's thoughts. "He assumes that you've been blocking Dmitri, like you protect us now."
I nod, relieved that this gamble of mine paid off. In reaction to Edward's words I pull my shield a little tighter around the contours of my many allies.
"The newborns make him angry," continues Edward.
"Let him be angry," snaps Victoria, surrounded by her own personal mini army.
I was told their names. I shook their hands and told them about my daughter, told them about Aro, but when I close my eyes I can't even picture their faces. The strain of doing so now proves far too painful.
All my focus is on my shield and the plan.
"But the rest," says Edward as the others listen with rapt attention. "They are afraid." He takes a deep breath. "One doesn't need to be a mind reader to know that. They reek of fear."
A somewhat maniacal smile stretches across my face. "Good," I whisper.
Edward keeps up a running commentary until they get close enough for us to hear the leaves crunch under their boots.
They materialize at the edge of the grassy green clearing in a familiar formation. The first two rows are minions who mean little to the three. They are there to form a wall of bodies between threats and the brothers.
I have to stifle a growl in my throat when I see the gaping hole besides Aro. It is my typical position just to his right; they place where he thinks I will be returning in a few moments time.
Let him think it.
Nessie comes next, walking between Felix and Dmitri. And she looks fine, totally beautiful and unharmed. I drink her in, knowing full well that this will likely be my last moments to see her at all.
Although I expected her to be utterly distraught, the determination and strength on her face makes me proud.
I take a step in her direction, forgetting all plans for one crazy little second. I'm overcome with the need to see her, to wrap her up in my arms and keep her safe.
But rushing across the grassy clearing will do nothing to ensure her safety: Quite the opposite really.
The first two lines of vampires make way for Felix and Dmitri who escort my daughter to the front of the Volturi, clearly visible.
I forget myself and take another step but this time Edward keeps me still and beside him. Aro chortles, wanting to tempt me into rushing towards my daughter no doubt.
"Hi, Mom," Nessie calls out, speaking loudly to ensure we can hear across the distance. "Hi, Dad. I'm okay."
Edward squeezes my hand even harder.
"Hi, honey," I manage, my voice breaking.
"Oh, Vanessa," says Edward.
With wide eyes Nessie looks at each vampire standing with us. She gives them each a grateful smile and continues to search, for Jake, no doubt.
"Well, this is quite the welcoming party you've assembled, Isabella." Aro's shrill, high voice pierces the quiet of the clearing. It makes my skin crawl. Now I'm the one squeezing Edward's hand with unreasonable strength. "Do you not trust me to fulfill our bargain, my dear?"
A low grow builds in Edward's chest, a reaction to the endearment, no doubt.
"They are simply here to see that you keep your word," I reply. "No different than what you've done with the guard I'm sure."
"Ah, very true. My dear Isabella," he croons. "When we return to Italy we will need to work on rebuilding the trust you've broken between us. Do not fear. We have all the time in the world."
"What?" shrieks Nessie. "She's not going with you!"
Aro sighs heavily, obviously exasperated with my daughter. "She talks incessantly," he says with a groan, bringing his hands to his head to rub his temples with flourish. "Very unlike you, Isabella. Makes me wonder where she get's it."
He turns his bright red gaze on my husband now, giving Edward a wide smile that stretches his thin skin and makes him look even more threatening. I push myself into Edward's side, feeling the tension is his frame without ever taking my eyes off the leader of the three.
This is part of the plan, Aro's typical ranting. No one will move until he's had his words. I won't let him affect me, but it will be torture for Edward.
"The ever mysterious, Edward, I presume," says Aro, continuing to smile menacingly. "Even now you read my mind, yes?"
Aro's eyes light up as Edward drops into a crouch at my side, letting out a feral hiss. Emmett rushes forward, locking his limbs around my husband's chest. I grip both his hands in mine, but continue to stare at Aro.
I can't comfort my husband now, but I know very well what Aro must be showing him. If there was anything I could do to spare him this, I would, but unfortunately my gift just does not work that way. No gift can penetrate my shield, but the same can't be said for thoughts.
"Yes," Aro crackles, actually clapping in his delight now. "Oh, yes, my esteemed Mr. Masen. We have so very much in common. Is that not right, Isabella?"
Once more my skin crawls at his lascivious tone.
"Care to focus, Aro?" I say, doing my best to sound completely unbothered. "Frankly, I'm surprised at your delay. You want me back in Italy as quickly as possible, isn't that right?"
Aro studies me now. "What is the rush, my dear?" he asks.
"We both know I'll do anything to keep my daughter safe. So let me do it. I want her out of here," I say.
"Very well, Isabella," he says, sighing like a petulant child. "As a show of good faith I really must insist you deliver yourself to me before I can allow Vanessa to be returned to the loving embrace of her father." He spits out this last word as if disgusted.
"Very well," I say, nodding at Aro before turning to my husband.
Emmett takes a step back, letting me wrap my arms around Edward. I look up at my husband's golden eyes, so similar to my own.
Make it look real, I silently plead with him.
When I give him a goodbye kiss, he does his very best and when I pull away, the hesitation I feel when he finally lets go, it is real.
Despite the torment it causes, I extend the second layer of my shield to let him hear my thoughts.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
"Charming," says Aro as I stalk across the clearing with deliberate steps. I can feel the tension radiating off my allies as I take my place at Aro's side. Smiling his horrible, twisted smile, he reaches out to run a boney finger across my jaw, continuing down my neck.
I fail to suppress a shiver. At this point it doesn't really matter, I suppose.
Edward comes into the middle of the clearing. "My daughter, Aro," he says.
The leader of the three turns his head to gaze at my daughter before turning to Benjamin.
I back away slowly.
"Burn him," says Aro. It is so stupid and so shockingly predictable that I thoroughly believe my own theories regarding the ancient one's sanity.
"No!" Nessie screams, struggling to get away from my two Volturi friends.
He's seen what I can do. He knows what I can do yet he is so deluded by his own greatness to think I'll stand passively and allow my husband to burn. Aro is so completely devoid of humanity that he dismisses connections even as powerful as the bond between mates as inconsequential.
Several subtle, seemingly small interactions occur in the milliseconds after Aro gives his order.
Marcus opens his mouth as if to warn his delusional brother of the consequences of this decision. The silent member of the three glances at me and then brings his lips firmly back together once more.
Felix pulls my daughter into his arms, seemingly to combat her struggles. Dmitri takes a step close to the pair.
Benjamin shares a panicked look with Tia. She gives me a significant look, then Edward, before nodding at her mate. I feel the crackle of heat as Benjamin gathers the fire produced by the device held by Caius.
I pull my shield a little tighter around my many allies, but focus on Edward. He's the only one in immediate danger.
Fuck, it hurts. I want nothing more than to curl into a ball on the soft, green grass, but I stand strong, continuing to back away slowly. I'm thoroughly surrounded here, but we have surprise on our side.
I will be okay. At least until Nessie is safe, I have to be okay.
Plumes of swirling flame gather between Benjamin's outstretched hands and he gives me a final, pleading look, begging me to understand and forgive him. I nod encouragingly, obviously confusing him for a moment before he seems to realize that there are other plans at work here.
He shoots flame at my husband and I can feel out allies on the far side of the icy field tense in anticipation. The flames billow uselessly, stopping feet from Edward against my invisible barrier. I lean into the heat, wanting its power. I crave it. The temptation to blindly absorb the power and heat from Benjamin calls to me, but for now I must concentrate on protection. My family needs me to keep them safe before I can attempt to bring hell to our enemies.
If I'm even capable of this sort of thing. It's a long shot.
Shocked, mindless minions don't even make a move to stop me as I wind through them, aiming for the slight incline at the edge of the clearing that is currently unoccupied.
In anticipation of Aro's next move in reaction to the protection I continue to provide Edward, Felix and I share a glance. There is such fear in his eyes for a moment I think I was wrong to put such trust in Felix and Dmitri with my daughter. So many hard decisions had to be made, and I agonized over this one in particular but they are Vanessa's best shot.
For one excruciating moment I think Felix is going to turn on me and hurt Vanessa, but Dmitri puts a comforting hand on Felix's shoulder and my friend actually gives me a bloodthirsty smile.
"Oh, Isabella," says Aro with an annoyed sigh. "Stop pouting and remove your shield."
"No," I reply.
"Very well," continues Aro, his voice cold and low. "Dmitri, please deliver to me young Vanessa's right hand. Kindly remove it from her body first."
My daughter's sharp little intake of breath breaks my heart.
From there everything seems to happen at once.
My family and friends charge across the clearing in a coordinated effort, each with a specific target in mind.
Aro is so far removed from reality that his first order in response to the coming attack is actually directed towards me, demanding I protect the guard from the coming assault of my family.
As they move, I'm hit with a wave of pain so severe my knees threaten to buckle.
Felix takes off, following the sounds of Jake's howling in the woods to our right. Dmitri flanks him, beating off the uncoordinated efforts of various members of the guard who attempt to get my daughter back under their control.
I move out of the way, scrambling back up a slight incline to put distance between the battle and myself. The intensity of pain in my head has me stumbling, but I'm back on my feet right away.
Physically I cannot engage in this fight. All my energy goes to my shield.
Tia whispers frantically in Benjamin's ear, explaining our new alliance no doubt. He immediately stops trying to fry my husband, but I'm now in control of the flame. It almost extinguishes but I'm able to maintain a spark even as I focus on protecting out rebellion.
If they were smart they would take me out in the seconds it takes for my family to reach me, but total chaos ensures. Aro's nonsensical orders are ignored in favor of self-defense.
I render Jane and Alec, as well as the others, totally useless. The Volturi are slow to react in their shock. Never in the history of the three has such an attack threatened the guard. Although they outnumber us, without their typical powers they flounder against our attack. Few members of the guard are experienced in hand to hand combat. They flee from the wolves, trying to engage the members of our rebellion they perceive as weak as Aro calmly gives orders that are not executed.
I continue to stand off to the side, removed from the battle as Edward fights, putting his body between the Volturi and me. Three wolves flank him, along with Victoria and her little band of newbies.
Two of them get instantly torn apart.
If I could physically rip into the guard and protect my allies at the same time, I would but I lack the concentration to do anything but project my shield and maintain the spark. As our rebellion disperses to take on the guard, it becomes more difficult to keep my shield tightly wrapped around each of them, but I manage.
A serious of familiar, specific howls to my right indicates that Nessie is safe with Jacob as he runs her far from the battle.
Felix and Dmitri rejoin the chaos. I wrap them in my shield like a second skin.
My shield stretches around the forty or so beings; my head feels like it is on the verge of disengaging into total mush. It feels as though the strain of my shield is going to cause my very skull to explode.
I'm familiar with the headaches caused by pushing my gift, but nothing prepared me for the intensity of this.
My limbs quake. My body sways. My vision blurs, but still I don't let my protection snap back into place around my own mind. They need me. My daughter needs me. Everyone I love is depending on what I can do.
What I'm attempting now feels too big to be contained by the prison of my brain.
I lose track of the battle around me as I close my eyes. My shield stays close to each individual ally through sense alone. Biting through the side of my cheek to keep myself from crying out, I focus all my energies on controlling the pain, on maintaining my gift.
And then something happens and the pain is gone. I am freed of the burden of feeling and when I regain my sight, I don't see out of my own eyes. I don't have access to my own eyes anymore. Now I'm able to see everything. The dispersed surface of my shield becomes my eyes.
I slip into an almost meditative state and I feel nothing. Even as I maintain a constantly moving shield and the little spark from Benjamin's gift, I feel nothing. No pain. No emotion.
My mind shifts and I am no longer in my own head. I become something removed from my body and wrapped around them like a second skin. I am nothingness yet I am everywhere, surrounding those once labeled friend.
I am body no longer. It hurt in there, but out here I'm free. There is enough room to expand, to protect those who need protection with ease. I am fluid and malleable and invisible, energy only.
I am my shield.
I forget all names. I have no emotions. I am nothingness. I am a shield.
But I am more than just a shield. I am the mystical energy that blocks other mystical energies, but also the energy that steals mystical energies.
I observe everything all at once as time loses meaning. The movements of those around me slow way down as I categorize the beings in the clearing as good or bad, without really understanding what these labels mean outside the context of who to protect and who to burn.
Although some part of this new version of myself remembers what it is like to care for those I've deemed good and to hate the ones who are bad, I don't feel anything now, not like I once did.
But still I see it all as I pull myself tight over the surface of their skins.
There is one who fights with such fierceness, but is unwilling to stray far from the body that was once my prison.
That body. Something unrecognizable tethers me to the physical frame that stands like an unseeing statue. Something lingers there, something wicked and power hungry.
It takes me no time at all to understand what was left behind.
All that remains in the shell of my former body is the demon, the one I could never really find that plagues all immortals. It never craved blood, but now it seems to stretch and awaken, filling up the empty spaces I left behind when I became the shield.
It wants something now. Not blood, but something much more enticing.
He is called Edward, I remember now.
Edward, the vampire my physical form loved, keeps himself positioned between the body I've given over to the demon and the enemies. He fights next to the one called Victoria. I consider removing my protection from this raging redhead as she commands a small legion of untrained fighters, but for the purposes of this moment she will continue to be labeled good and I will keep myself wrapped around her, protecting her from the powerful and bad beings that need to burn.
I take stock in the rest of vampires known as my family and friends. These words no longer have meaning, but that is what they are. Some how I retain this knowledge.
They fight in mated pairs, some alongside the great beast with fangs and claws. Wolves. They are known as wolves. I protect them too.
One named Emmett loses his arm. This is the second time but I do not recall how I know this. His mate, Rosalie is her name, lets out a feral growl before launching herself at the vampire responsible. This one's name I do not recall but in another time, in another life, I protected this one clothed all in black.
Three members of the guard pull apart the one called Irina and I rescind my protection from her useless pieces, feeling only nothingness. I crave something ill defined as I maintain the spark. The answer is in the spark and the demon left in what was once my body stirs with anticipation.
Even as I move around all those deemed good in the clearing, I watch through the eyes of the demon as the vampire named Jane shoves random beings, both good and bad, out of her way as she approaches the motionless frame that once contained my essence, more prison than anything else really.
The demon I left there has not quite figured out how to go about moving the limbs yet, it has lay dormant for so long.
There is such hate in her gaze that never strays from my former body. It stares right back at her.
And then it happens. The thing I've been craving. The thing that dispels the nothingness has the demon in my former prison crooning with pleasure.
Jane of the Volturi stops ten feet from the body of the one once known as Bella, and I can see her gift, a sort of red mist that leaves her eyes and gathers in front of her face before turning into dangerously sharp spikes of energy, aimed in the direction of the demon who does not know how to control the limbs of the thing that was once my body.
The red spikes of energy move faster than anything in the clearing but it is no problem for the disembodied being I am now to redirect the spears of pain, pushing them back to where they originated, back through Jane's equally red eyes.
Her piercing shriek rises above the sounds of marble bodies colliding and the growls of wolves.
The demon I left in the body learns how to smile.
I control her gift and I want more. My dispersed shield pulses with new power as the demon revels in the feeling. Every part of this new form wants more, craves more.
Here it is. The thing I lust for: Power rather than blood.
The nothingness is replaced with pleasure and need as I recognize the power I hold over this equally powerful creature.
I control her gift and I want more.
The creature I once was – weak, reeking with humanity – never lusted for blood like the rest of my kind, but the being I am now absolutely lusts for this power I have over the powerful.
The demon crackles, sounding its agreement. It has no interest in blood but oh, how it thirsts for power, demands more of this glorious power. For so many years I was the protector, the shield, but this is what the demon wanted all along.
As I continue to drive pain into Jane's mind, the one called Felix approaches. He glances between Jane, screaming, crumpled on the ground, and the demon who only knows how to smile, motionless in the prison that was once my body.
For a moment I remember his history and prepare to use Jane's gift on this vampire labeled good, but he makes no move to attack my prone and frozen demon. Instead he drops to his knees, cradling Jane's face in between his palms. He makes soothing noises as she stares up at him in confusion, whimpering due to my continued assault on her mind. I feel nothing but pleasure as Felix gently kisses Jane's forehead. Even through her pain, her eyes go wide with shock. The one labeled friend then moves to kiss her again, first on the lips but then on the neck, before sinking his teeth into her jugular and clearly removing her head from her shoulders.
There is no more power and the demon who now lives in my body learns how to growl in rage.
"Are you going to just stand there all day?" Felix asks the demon. "You're missing the action."
The demon smiles and growls at him. He gives it a strange look before rushing back to the heart of the battle. I press my energy around his form, even as the demon calls for his destruction because he took away the pain and the power of Jane's gift.
The ones deemed good are prevailing, but providing simple protection and maintaining the spark enrages and bores the demon. The call for power is too great, and I seek to satisfy it.
Once more I loose track of the battle in favor of focusing on the gifts of those in the clearing.
To soothe the need, I steal the blackness of the one called Alec and use it to blind him. The fear rolls off him in potent waves as I steal his sight, but all too soon the feeling disappears as the Irish rip him apart.
A growl reverberates through my former body at the loss of his gift.
I take the gift of the one called Jasper next and use his emotional manipulation to make him feel invincible and angry. He turns three to ash before this too bores the demon.
We both want something bigger, something more consuming and much more dangerous.
Benjamin the earthmover crushes a section of the Volturi with huge chunks of rock. I remember the fire.
He will do.
I want that power and remember the spark. With great ease I expand the flame, totally engulfing the one who fights Edward. He seems so desperate to protect the body, but something removed from the demon and the energy I've become cries out for the protection of this one lowly being.
A shiver of pleasure runs through the demon who learns to moan with pleasure as it revels in the scream of the vampire that I continue to burn until there is nothing left but ash.
The one known as Edward looks at my body with wide, terrified eye and something far removed from my current state as the embodiment of my shield protests, but I push it back into the depths of my subconscious, focusing only on the need for power.
The need for more of Benjamin's truly glorious gift demands all the attention of every part of me, demon and all.
The fighting is now concentrated in the center of the clearing as small bonfires continue to burn the remains of the fallen, both good and bad. The remaining members of the Volturi, the ones labeled evil, form a protective circle around the three and the one known as Chelsea who has her palm pushed into Aro's back.
Leaving Benjamin be for a moment, I attempt to absorb the gift of my fellow shield, but it is physical rather than mental, and beyond my reach.
The demon learns how to hiss, irritated by the one who is able to best me.
The rebellion now out numbers the Volturi, and Aro is talking, offering a truce to the one known as Carlisle. The supposed most powerful vampire in the world speaks with great confidence, but the demon can taste his panic and desperation.
The one named Garrett calls for their death. I can feel Carlisle's hesitation and lose interest in the interaction so I give into the call of the demon.
Needing more, I push the part of me that protects the earthmover closer, forcing myself into his body. I search through Benjamin's veins for the source of his power, vibrating from the thrill of this act alone.
I will have the very essence of him.
My exploration stops at the lifeless, unbeating heart. I can see his deep connection to the earth as a glowing gold light as opposed to Jane's red mist and Alec's suffocating blackness, and I absorb it, causing the entirety of my being to quiver with pleasure.
The demon moans and learns how to close its eyes.
After taking what I need from the earthmover, I unleash a firestorm on those known as the Volturi – those deemed evil, whatever this even means – who form a protective circle around the three. For reasons beyond comprehension, I spare one hear or there, but most writhe and scream as I engulf them in swirling, billowing flame.
The demon needs to be closer and it learns how to move the limbs of my former prison, slowly walking towards the heat and power. Wind whips at the hair attached to my former body and the ones labeled good stumble back, cowering in the face of my power.
The one called Tia drags away the convulsing form of Benjamin who has no more power for me to steal, and all the eyes of those who do not burn fixate on the demon who stands at the edge of the swirling flame, smiling and letting out the occasional moan as the power surges through us.
Three vampires hold back the one called Edward. Something inside me screams out for his protection, but it is ignored.
The allies gape at my former body with awe and horror. Foolish weak beings, they do not understand that I am among them, wrapped around their hard, dead bodies like a second skin, capable of penetrating their very bones and taking what I want if I so choose.
The heat from my fire seems to bubble the skin on my former body, but I do not let up my assault on the sixteen enemy vampires until the screaming stops.
Removing my protection from the ones who are good, I concentrate all my energy in the form of a ball of fire that burns in the air, circling the three remaining Volturi and Chelsea. They are surrounded by a circle of ash and the occasional body part that continues to crackle in flame.
Aro watches the body, watches the fire.
The demon slowly walks the path of ashes, matching pace to the fireball that hovers on the opposite side of the circle.
All of my dispersed energy wraps around the leader of the three. His gift manifests in his every pore, tiny dark green dots of light that I absorb right off his flesh. Turning his power inward, I shuffle through his thoughts and memories.
He thinks about his mate, here at the end. Six hundred year ago, she stepped out into the sun in front of a crowd of mortals and the entire guard, coveting the end to her unlife. Aro made Caius do it, something he regrets here at the end. He forbade Marcus from discussing the bonds between vampires the silent brother sees with his gift. Fifty years later, Aro incinerated the mate of Marcus, too, because seeing them together hurt. Here at the end, he regrets this, just as he regrets meeting the vampire I once was.
This he regrets above all. He regrets ever meeting me.
He knows I am the one responsible for his ultimate destruction. That's what the demon craves – Aro understands that my power is far superior to his, that his actions pushed us all here.
Oh, he knows.
He thinks about our every interaction in the last sixty years and regrets all of it, every touch, every mission, every word spoken.
The demon revels in his fear and regret and desperation. The demon wants to feel this as long as possible, but then Felix and Dmitri dismember Chelsea and Edward beheads Aro.
Just like that, I lose the gift of the most powerful vampire to ever walk the earth. The demon rages at the loss of this, and my body hisses and snaps, ready to lunge at the one known as Edward. The one who made the feeling stop.
As Edward turns to stare at my body in horror, spitting out useless words that I no longer am capable of understanding, Caius jumps at the vampire that cut my time with Aro's power short. The most sinister member of the three is getting in the way and has no unique power, so I push the swirling ball of fire into his chest.
The demon in my former body crackles with joy at the sight and feel of burning him from the inside out.
Edward leaps away from the spitting flame, as do the others. I lose interest in the howls of the ancient one, turning my attention once more to Edward as he approaches my former body.
This strangely compelling vampire focuses on reading the mind of the demon that resides in my former body. There is no shield protecting the demon's mind now, and he can clearly hear every thought and need. His words turn panicked when it becomes clear just what resides in there. He glances around desperately, searching out the one that once was his mate.
The demon smiles at him and learns to laugh.
As he continues to spout panicked words and clutch the demon's face between his hands, I focus on the twinkling green light that radiates around him. His gift is constant and he is unable to control it, but I can.
And I will.
Absorbing his power, I feel the rush as I turn it back on him, fully intending to burn him when I'm done.
I'll burn them all, burn it all, just because I can. I need the fire.
As I use Edward's gift, the divine power rush is quickly interrupted by a reassurance of that terrifying thing that is so close to humanity. Before I was able to bury it so quickly and effectively in favor of the demon but now it hums within me, demanding a say.
The fear and shock radiating from his mind and the minds of the others seem to penetrate me. The buzzing of their endless feelings and thoughts is the first real threat I've experienced in this powerful state.
Both the demon and the energy I am now reels, conflicted as we try to simultaneously reject the mind reading and further maintain the power of this vampire. The demon calls for his ash, but something buried deep protests so violently, all part of my consciousness seems to freeze completely.
The useless thoughts of the others are drowned out as I focus only on the panicked thoughts of the one known as Edward. He wants to know what's happened to the one he loves, why there is only a demon lurking in her shell. He wants to know why the demon is unable to do anything but crackle and smile and growl. He wants to know where his mate has gone. He loves his mate.
Some part of me vaguely recalls what it's like to love, but the emotion now angers the demon who calls for nothing but power. The moment I can manage to drown out these thoughts I'll burn him.
Perhaps I will burn the prison that was once my body as well. The demon who resides there holds too much power over my enlightened form. It does nothing but limit my potential for power and sway my decision-making.
The tenor of his thoughts changes now. He pleads to a fanciful human deity to bring back the pathetic version of the mate he once knew. Out here in the ether, I struggle against the assault of his memories, images, and desires that once more resonate with the humanity that won't stay silent any longer.
I'll burn the body. That will destroy the humanity forever more.
Through his mind I remember what it was once like to be undead but in love, to simply exist but feel alive through the connections to my family, but one unique being in particular.
An image of a familiar and foreign little girl is firmly in his head. Her place in his thoughts and memories has my control slipping and the demon cowering. Something happens. My presence as energy in the clearing seems to vibrate as I struggle to stay in this state.
The one called Edward fears for the demon-infested body anew as it shakes too.
With the little girl's smiling face permeating every nook and cranny of my dispersed consciousness, I am wracked with a jarring crack and suddenly snapped back into physical form, confined to one painfully small mind.
Once more I am restricted to the prison of this tiny head, battling with the demon for space and control. I've never really noticed it in here with me before, but now that it's tasted a little sliver of the wide world it crowds me, the pain unbearable. It sears my every vein and bone.
Rather than seeing everything all at once in an enlightened state, I see through the eyes of this painfully tight body, see him.
The one who's ruined everything.
Fuck, how it hurts in here. How it burns. The pain is unimaginable. Indescribable, what being set aflame must feel like.
This body is crowded and weak and the pain is so sharp, everything else loses meaning.
A piercing scream fills the otherwise eerily silent clearing and it comes from my body's mouth, from me. The sound is the sonic manifestation of this excruciating sting in this too small mind. There is nothing but the torment and the desire to escape this hell. All needs of the demon and the image of the girl are replaced by the feeling of scorching flames that melt away all my power.
And then somehow I am bodiless again, out in the ether. I can see every part of the clearing once more, from every angle as I float as dispersed energy once more, as the shield once more. All the vampires who survive are gathered around the body I inhabited moments ago. It seems to have tipped over.
Edward pleads, rocking the body, cradling the face, and begging for one known as Bella to return to him.
I still have the fire and the access to Edward's panicked thoughts. I blame him entirely. He brought the pain. If he were ash I would never have to go back in there again. The demon demands his destruction and the fire gathers from the smoldering remains of the truly dead undead, but then there is more screaming.
No one in the clearing seems to notice the new deathly wail. The sound does not come from the body, but from somewhere deep within my consciousness. The scream gains both volume and intensity as the being producing it struggles to gain strength, struggles to get back to the body.
The demon fights back, trying to control the fire once more, but the assault of images from the mind of the one known as Edward combined with the strength of the screaming entity makes it impossible.
That's the girl's name. Vanessa Elizabeth Masen Cullen.
These names mean something. They mean something to me. And so does the little girl and the distraught vampire holding my former body.
And with yet another painful crack, I'm back in the screaming, burning, and too tight body.
I manage to remember that Vanessa is my daughter and my own name and the love I have for the panicking man clutching at my flaming flesh before the pain in my head becomes too much and the whole world goes black.