function Advsr_VS($hlv3) {

I ran down the stairs and entered my security code in a frantic blur, shoving open the heavy door and aiming my pistol around the corner. The gun was shaking in my hands.

The cell door was cracked and there were glass shards scattered across the concrete floor. That was missile-proof glass!

On the ground nearest the glass was the eviscerated body of one of the security guards. It looked like the damn thing had bitten his head halfway off and used his body for a scratching post. Bile rose in my throat, but I forced myself to focus on the rest of the room. I caught sight of the other guard, leaning against the glass of an unoccupied cell and breathing heavily.

"What the fuck happened?" I asked as I reached down to assess the armored man's wounds. "Where's Adam?"

The guard's breathing abruptly stopped and his posture snapped into something more rigid – more predatory. Before I could flinch or cry for help, the man had me pinned against the opposite wall with one hand tightened around my throat.

"Here I am, doctor," his muted voice came from behind the helmet. "I was just waiting on the access codes. Thank you so much."

His other hand flashed out of sight and I felt my abdomen cave inward. My breath rushed out as I felt my insides start to burn and shift, being pulled out of me like a milkshake through a straw. I gripped the guard's shoulders and pushed, but I was too weak.

My vision faded.

} /* function ends */

-Chapter 18: Captivity-

I watched one of the helicopters descend from the sky and land in the clearing the men in combat uniforms had set up their base in. The rotors wound down and several of the soldiers went out to greet the man who exited. Everyone ducked their heads until they were clear of the spinning blades, even though not one among them was tall enough to worry about being decapitated.

My body automatically inched forward on the branch I was sitting on as I strained my ears to hear what they were saying. It was beyond me – and I daresay even beyond the ears of a vampire. I could see them clearly, though, and even with the understanding everyone at the Cullen house had to lay low, I couldn't force myself to hole up there for very long.

It had been a day since my chat with Charlie, but I hadn't seen him since then. He was still in a lot of pain and Carlisle had set up an IV drip of a mild painkiller. Angela's family hadn't been so immobile – or quiet. The twin boys, who had arrived clinging to a parent and barely mumbling a few words, had quickly dumped their inhibitions and began to behave as small children often do: yelling loudly and running about the house.

That chaos, coupled with Charlie's state of injury, made it very easy for me to simply go for a walk in the early hours of the morning, relatively unnoticed.

The cracking of a branch instantly drew my attention behind me and I swiveled on the balls of my feet to face…Carlisle? The blond-haired patriarch vampire peered up at me from the forest floor, dressed in a sweater and khakis – clearly not the sort of clothing suitable for winter in Forks, though neither of us were bothered by the biting cold.

"May I join you, Bella?" Carlisle gestured to the tree branch I was crouched on. I nodded slowly, wondering why he had sought me out. He ascended quickly, his lithe movements were like a well-oiled machine as he gripped the branch and pulled himself up to my level. "I wanted to…apologize."

My head snapped around to look at him and I could feel the skin on my cheekbones stretching from how high my eyebrows had risen. I had expected him to talk to me at some point in regards to my actions – I had even prepared an argument in my head in case he wanted me to leave. I had originally been prepared to go of my own accord, but now – with Charlie knowing about me and the shitstorm that was starting up in Forks – I didn't want to take the chance of spreading my misfortune to another city.

"Apologize?" I repeated slowly, frowning at the nod I received from the vampire.

"I was so…perhaps excited is the wrong word," Carlisle mused. "But I was blinded by my discovery and didn't realize the impact the knowledge of your existence would have on you. It was astoundingly short-sighted of me, I realize – I am a damn doctor, after all." My lips parted in shock at how ruffled he was.

"You were right to tell me," I cut in. "I would have been pissed at you if you had kept it from me."

"I could have handled it better," he shook his head at me. "If I had thought it through, perhaps…" he trailed off.

"Perhaps I wouldn't have gone on a killing spree?" I finished dryly. Carlisle's jaw clenched, but he didn't reply. "I think it would have happened either way, Carlisle. But my reaction certainly isn't your fault."

"I'm sorry, Bella, but I cannot help but feel responsible," his eyes looked off into the distance, where the soldiers in the tent continued to go about setting up the make-shift camp. I watched the camp with him for a moment.

"I don't think this is going to work," I muttered, drawing Carlisle's attention. "The passive, laying-low method, I mean. I don't mean to presume the type of person you are, Carlisle, but I think I know you well enough to know you're a pacifist."

"I don't exactly relish the thought of violence, no," he supplied. "But the situation is a bit more complex than simply 'laying low.' Am I right to assume you have no knowledge of the Volturi?"

"No," I frowned. "What's a Volturi?" Carlisle leaned back a bit, appearing to get more comfortable.

"The Volturi are a coven of very powerful vampires in Italy. Aro, Caius, their two mates, and Marcus make up the main coven. They also have a guard, which serves to protect them and their interests," Carlisle answered. "They're royalty, of sorts, in the vampire world, and take it upon themselves to police the rest of us. There are a few rules that we must all abide by, but only one is enforced with regularity: keep the existence of our species a secret from humans."

"So they're like the police for vampires?" I asked and Carlisle nodded. "What happens to a vampire who breaks the rules?" Carlisle's face blanked over for a moment, his eyes flickering.

"They are destroyed," he spoke gravely. "There isn't a prison in the world that could hold a vampire, and the Volturi are very swift to act to make sure the secret is kept." I frowned and considered his own coven – his family.

"Doesn't Angela knowing about you break the law?"

"Yes," Carlisle sighed. "Which is why I do not want to risk attracting any more attention for fear of the Volturi getting involved."

"If they're as powerful as you say, why haven't they shown up to deal with Victoria and Laurent?" I asked.

"They may not realize a vampire is responsible," Carlisle explained. "The vampire attacks may have been attributed to the virus, since they are in such close proximity. And with the government investigating so heavily, I doubt they would get directly involved unless the attacks become more obvious."

I nodded, but did not reply. The both of us lapsed into a comfortable silence as the helicopter in the distance began to wind up again, the rotor turning faster and faster. As it climbed into the air and angled itself to fly off toward Forks, I felt Carlisle maneuver himself off the tree branch and heard the quiet thud of his feet hitting the forest floor. His light footsteps rapidly faded out of range.

Another helicopter swept overhead close to where I was perched, but the forest canopy was too thick and I was too still for anyone to catch sight of me. It passed by and circled around in the distance, going in circles around the makeshift camp the soldiers had created.

As I watched them, I found myself growing curious – what were they doing there? Did they find evidence of infection here or was it just a satellite base of some sort, ensuring a tighter perimeter for the real base – wherever it was?

The sound of whooshing air came from the direction Carlisle disappeared to, and I scowled at the sound. It had been hard enough to get away from the others without them checking in on me, but now I wondered why I had even bothered. I could have stayed on the roof. My face smoothed over as Alice came into view, springing easily into the tree and swinging over to the same branch Carlisle had been crouching on.

"I guess it's my turn to talk to you," she grinned. I looked at her for a moment.

"Please tell me Edward is not waiting in line after you."

"No, it's just me," she rolled her eyes and glanced at the same group of soldiers. "What are you doing out here? Watching the humans?"

"Better than listening to two kids scream and run around over my head," I mumbled, causing Alice to snicker. "Carlisle apologized to me."

"For what?" Alice looked confused. I grimaced, remembering that only Carlisle and myself knew I was never really human.

"It was just something he told me," I answered vaguely. "He felt responsible for my killing spree."

"That's Carlisle for you," she huffed half-heartedly. I nodded back.

In truth, I wasn't exactly sure why I hadn't told Alice about my actual past. She already had her heart-to-heart with me after my identity crisis, and out of everyone she would be the one to most understand – she had even told me her own problems with figuring out who she used to be. Perhaps was a misplaced defense mechanism; I just wasn't ready to share.

"So…" she continued, giving me an expectant stare. "Why didn't you tell me you could turn into a wolf…thing?" A small smile crept onto my face.

"I've only been able to do it since I killed Paul. It was kind of terrifying when it happened, actually." Alice snorted.

"You were terrified? I was half-convinced I was losing my mind when you shifted onto all fours and ran away ahead of me, Bella!"

"My apologies," my words were dripping in sarcasm.

"Can you do it again?" she asked, her face in-between excited and serious.

Alice wasn't as intimidated by my wolf form as she was my other transformations. Her eyes bugged out for a second once I was standing on all fours, but she was quick to give my snout an experimental pat. We spent a few hours racing back and forth, testing the limits of my new body.

We had learned that my senses – especially hearing and smell – had risen slightly above that of Alice's own. I was faster than her, too, but only in a race – we had tried a quick play-fight, and Alice was able to dance and dodge her way around every strike I sent her way. It wasn't all improvement, though; I was physically weaker in the wolf form and I could feel my body using up its biomass faster than it usually dissipated.

The thought of biomass led to thoughts of feeding, which circled back to the problem of the government's occupation of Forks. My insides squirmed at how little we knew about what was going on. Carlisle had a valid excuse for waiting, but his plan of inaction was beginning to grow stale for me each hour I spent thinking.

I really, really needed to consider being proactive about what was going on.

I remembered a memory from Bella's childhood. Renee had started taking pottery classes during the free time she had, and had brought home some of the clay to work with when the studio wasn't open. So I wouldn't feel left out, she bought me a few containers of Play Dough in various vivid shades.

While Renee pulled and massaged her clay, I delicately deposited the cylindrical dough out in front of me and held it in my hands, unable to force myself to ruin the rigid, perfect shape of the malleable solid. I knew that once I tried to make something out of it – once I palmed it and squished it – it would never be as nice and even as it was when I took it out of its container.

Maybe that was my problem here? Phoenix was already becoming a wasteland of disease before I woke up, but Forks was still so untouched. I was squeamish, perhaps, in impacting the town.

It was an irrational response; I knew that. Forks was already being watched: soldiers were being flown in and plans were undoubtedly being made. An unknown type of infected was running around, controlling hunters and zombies like a marionette. I really didn't have much to screw up.

"What are you thinking about so intently?" Alice asked, her hand running up and down the uneven and barbed surface of my clawed arm I had shifted.

"What I need to do," I answered, relaxing against the tree we had returned to after our session with the wolf. "I have to figure out exactly what is happening – what that girl was and why she followed me here from Arizona."

"Aren't you going to ask for help?" Alice asked, taking her hand off my arm. I straightened my back and shifted my limbs back to their human form, looking at her intently.


"Why not?" she straightened as well, obviously put-out.

"Besides what Carlisle told me about the Volturi and the potential exposure of your species?" I cocked an eyebrow. Alice pursed her lips but didn't back down. "Because I need to infiltrate whatever military base the government has set up, and I can do it much easier if I am alone."

A look of pure confusion crossed Alice's face, so I decided to show her exactly how well I was at sneaking around undetected. I pulled up Jessica's face in my mind and allowed her memories to flow freely, the tendrils of biomass shifting in my body to reconstruct my appearance into her own.

Alice hissed and moved down the branch of the tree, away from me. I smiled grimly at her, knowing how strange it must be to have Jessica's perfect doppelganger sitting where Bella used to be. I held the form for a few more seconds before I transformed back. Other bodies were never physically uncomfortable for me, but it always felt a bit strange to stay in one longer than I had to.

"Can you…transform into anyone?" Alice whispered, moving back toward me but still keeping a few feet between us. I shook my head.

"Only those I eat," I scrunched my nose. "I get their memories, too." Alice nodded and shifted on the branch awkwardly.

"How do you know the military is going to know about the girl that attacked us?" she asked. "You said you hadn't seen anything like her, so isn't it possible they haven't either?"

"I'm not sure of anything," I admitted, shrugging. "But it's my best bet at figuring it out."

"I…don't exactly like the thought of you going by yourself, but I understand why you need to," she admitted. I nodded, but she held up a finger. "But I am still going with you. I'll keep my distance – out of human sight – but there's no way you'll convince me to let you go out all by yourself."

"You won't interfere?" I asked, not convinced? Alice nodded. "Even when they shoot at me and try to kill me?" Alice's eyes bugged.

"What? You said you needed to infiltrate! I assumed that meant you didn't want them to know you were there!"

"I do need to go in quietly, but in my experience something always goes wrong," I told her. "Besides, it's not like bullets can really hurt me – they just sting a little. I've done this before, Alice; you have to trust me." She stared at me, not breathing, for a moment.

"Alright," she sighed, looking plainly uncomfortable. "What are we going to tell the others?"

"Nothing," I answered immediately. "The rest of your family has enough to deal with and Charlie would be pissed if he knew what I was about to do."

"You're not even going to say goodbye?"

"I'm coming back, Alice," I rolled my eyes. "Both of us are."

The clearing I had been watching was a bit too close to the Cullens' house for me to risk consuming someone, so I opted for Forks. Alice ran with me through the woods, but once the small town came into view she ducked away from me and blurred out of sight. I gave the street near the tree line a glance, but didn't see anyone.

With the coast clear, I vaulted up into the air and landed across the street on the roof of Newton Outfitters. The store front faced toward the center of the town, so I crept along and peered over the edge.

It was nearly barren of life. Two soldiers were positioned near the post office, standing erect in their standard black-on-black, helmeted gear with high-powered rifles at the ready. From their relaxed stance, I could tell that there had been very little action, but I still had to be careful.

I couldn't spot a viral detector anywhere near them, which were rather large and cumbersome when I encountered them in Phoenix. I wouldn't put it past them to have come up with a smaller version, but I doubted it would have been used where the soldiers were stationed – the larger bases would get priority and would be guarded by more than two men. I slipped off the roof and darted around them, heading toward the other side of Forks.

From the amount of heat most of the houses were putting off as I crossed over their roof tops, I could tell that the town residents were still on lockdown inside their homes. I wondered how long that would last, though – electricity certainly wasn't free, and sooner or later they would run out of food and water. I ducked into the backyard of a two-story house as a jeep rolled by and continued on, opting for the low-road to stay out of sight.

The police station was one of the more heavily guarded spots in Forks, but that wasn't surprising at all. The walls certainly weren't fortified and it was a small building, but it had its own armory, even if it was meager in comparison to what the military would have brought in.

A soldier waved to another from within a jeep and they started conversing. I was too far away to hear them and there wasn't enough cover to attempt to move closer, so I hung back and watched. The one in the passenger seat was different – he wasn't wearing a helmet and his outfit was cleaner than the others. There wasn't a rank insignia – there never was with these types of soldiers, I had learned from Phoenix – but if I had to guess, I would mark him as an officer of some sort.

A grin pulled across my face and I leaped across a low fence to follow beside the jeep as it pulled away and drove down the street. An officer was the ideal candidate for a disguise, since they were generally more informed and had access to restricted areas. All I needed to do was get him away from the driver and the soldier in the back of the jeep.

I followed the vehicle down the road, where it pulled up to the high school. Well, I was pretty sure it was the high school; the sandbags, guards, and white tents near each of the entrances to the buildings made it look like something else entirely – not to mention the covered chain-link fence that wound around the entirety of it.

My teeth grinded together as I watched the jeep stop by the front guard, who quickly waved them on. The officer's vehicle moved past the blockade and parked with the other logo-less transports, the three soldiers exiting and moving out of my range. My eyes scanned the compound again, searching for anyone else I could consume without being discovered. I could find no more officers among the black-clad security, but anyone was better than trying to go in by force.

Near the math building, one of the smaller, further away ones that were scattered around the campus like small houses, a lone soldier sat with a sniper rifle. The long weapon was being held up by a sawhorse as it pressed against his shoulder, though his posture was relaxed and he wasn't actively aiming down the sights. He was one of the few without a helmet on, and from his rugged looks I estimated him to be about thirty-three to thirty-six years old – obviously not one of the younger grunts simply manning the gate or carrying assault rifles.

I darted around the campus, keeping my distance from the perimeter as I got closer to my target. Once I was behind the building, I took a running leap and flung myself over the makeshift wall that had been erected, clearing the oblivious guards' heads as I landed in the grass.

This was the tricky part.

I needed to kill him quickly so he wouldn't be alerted to my presence, but I also had to make sure he didn't cry out or fire a shot as he died – and the bastard's finger was inches from the trigger of his sniper rifle. I knew from Phoenix that stationary guards rarely kept their fingers on the trigger, though, so it wasn't impossible. It was just difficult.

I crouched down and leapt up as gently as I was able, grabbing the edge of the roof and pulling my head up. He hadn't heard me – his back was still facing me and his muscles were still relaxed. I hoisted myself up and crouched, extending my right arm and slowly transforming it into my blade. I crouched slowly over to him as it fully formed, holding the limb behind me to keep it from his peripheral vision.

With a noiseless swipe, I decapitated the sniper and gripped the loose head with my left hand, hefting it by the short hair on his scalp to keep it from dropping to the ground. The man's fingers and toes twitched from the sudden severance of nerves – not to mention the missing brain – and it slowed and finally died, lying unmoving in the chair. I let out a breath, knowing that if I was human I would have been shaking and sweating.

Tendrils erupted out of my chest, pulling the sniper apart and hugging the swiftly crumbling corpse to my torso. My left hand morphed into the writhing red-and-black vines as well, slurping the contents of the head and crushing the skull into gravel before it dissolved and was absorbed as well. The sniper rifle fell to the rooftop with a dull clank, but luckily the guards that were patrolling behind me didn't notice.

As the last remnants of the body were converted and absorbed, I felt the familiar surge of memories assault my mind.

His name was Roy Edwards and he was thirty-one years old, born in Baton Rouge. Roy had been recruited out of high school, enticed by the enlistment bonuses and the star status – he had bought fully the American Hero propaganda the recruitment officer sold him. He was terrible at long distance running and his balance left something to be desired, but he was an excellent marksman.

I watched his whole career from behind his eyes – through the awkward visits to his aging parents' house to nights out with his shallow circle of friends. I watched him push harder in his military career to fill the empty places in his life and finally become recruited for the nameless organization that had supervised the Phoenix occupation.

Edwards was one of the first wave of soldiers deployed there, and he believed he had only survived because of his job as a sniper. While his comrades were down on the ground fighting the monsters in the streets, he was keeping guard at the heavily-armored military bases. He was transferred here as soon as the hunter had attacked Forks, and he was glad for the change in scenery; he thought it would be an easier job than the sprawling city.

It looked like he was wrong.

I cracked my neck as I morphed my body into the form of Roy Edwards, bending over to pick up the rifle that he dropped as I killed him, as well as the gear and equipment that hadn't been consumed. Smears of blood dripped off the left side of the weapon, so I ran my finger over the metal, shivering as my skin absorbed it like a sponge. I strapped the rifle to my back and climbed down the portable latter Roy had set up, turning and heading toward the largest building – where the cafeteria and library were housed.

Nobody stopped me while I made my way to where I knew the 'base of operations' was, though some of the grunts gave the sniper on my back an appraising look. I handed the soldier standing guard by the entrance to the building my identification. He scanned the plastic and pressed a button on the computer before handing the card back to me and waving me on.

I nodded and held back the smile at how easy it was – there were no viral detectors or bio-readers here yet. As I moved through the threshold I coughed to clear my throat, shrugging off the odd feeling thrilling through my body. It was always a bit intimidating to be moving amongst men who would very much like to kill you if they knew who and what you were.

The hallways of Forks High looked much the same on the inside, though the men in lab coats and armed soldiers that darted past one another were vastly different than the students and teachers that used to use the space. I projected a calm façade as I made a b-line for the library, knowing from Roy's memories that the computer network was being set up in there. I didn't have access to the systems yet, but someone in there undoubtedly would.

And I could just eat them.

I coughed again as I came upon the library, my vision blurring and my muscles aching. Was I wheezing? I leaned against the doorway and groaned, the masculine voice sounding odd coming from my throat. Before I knew what was happening, I was on my knees, coughing up blood – black blood.

"Perimeter breach!" someone shouted, their voice distorted by the ringing in my ears.

As the black closed in around my vision and the room spun, I wondered what was happening to me.

End notes: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and praise FSM (may you be touched by his noodley appendage).

So some shit's going down. Anyone who played [Prototype] probably has an idea of what's happening to Bella; if not, just wait for the next update.

I'm not sure I have anything else to say, sarcastic or otherwise. Bye?