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Grim Reaper's Release

When the gruesome murder of a pastor is mysteriously caught on tape, what will happen to the vampire race? Suddenly, the world knows about vampires. The Cullens need to get out of Forks. And fast. But what will happen when the Volturi wants to interfere? Or the Southern Armies? And, more importantly, who are these strange vampire twins? Photobucket

...I've been away for a seriously long time, haven't I? O.O

Well, I'm back with a new story and I still haven't decided if I should continue my other stories. A lot's been happening in my life and I'm sure my feelings on all of my other stories have changed drastically. Anyway, this is just an idea that's been floating around my head for probably a year now but I've never really developed it into more than just a smidge of an idea.

Just a few warnings before I continue: This story is seriously...morbid. It's not really a good story at all. There's violence, world domination, chaos, and the world kind of goes insane...but it has a happy ending! Promise!

Also, the chapters are gonna be really long on this. Like, seriously long. It's not that I want to get this done in less chapters or whatever, it's just that in each chapter, a few different character's point of view's on different things need to be included to add other factors of the story. I mean, if I had each new point of view a chapter, we'd probably be up to 50 chapters by the time I get to the middle.

That being said, I guess a few things you should know is that I don't know when I'll be getting new chapters up. I hope, with winter break here, I'll have this story done by the middle of February, maybe? I was planning on having this only 7 chapters at the maximum, but the farther I get into this story, the longer it seems. And, I hope, I'll be getting each chapter up each week. I've already written chapter 2 and 3 but I'm gonna post them weekly.

Next, I seriously need to thank my best mate Kira with this story. She gave me a HUGE idea for it and has been such an amazing supporter of all my stories from the start!

*breathes in relief* Alright, I think that's all for now. Now that I've gotten it all out, go read. I'm sure the story is much more interesting than my babbling. *snort*

24. Infection of the Sun

Rating 3.5/5   Word Count 10461   Review this Chapter

Leah's Point of View

"So they finally got him, huh? Wonder who did it." I looked over my shoulder, my eyes narrowing on Paul who slouched lazily against the doorway. With a quick roll of my eyes, I ignored him, turning back to the food-crusted pan I was scrubbing in the sink.

Everyone who was of any importance was crowded into the kitchen, their unnatural eyes looking at the tiny television in wonder. It was about midnight here and though my body was yearning for sleep, I felt an unexplainable rush of energy so I had settled for busying myself with cleaning up after the Pack. With Sam's help, we had carried in our trash and dirty utensils and I got to work.

When the ‘Special Report' had come on, capturing all of our attentions, it was like a switch had been pulled. In just a second, the atmosphere of the whole property had turned from light and fun to serious and dark. The vampires flocked in, some running at speeds even I couldn't compete with, to crowd around the TVs. I would have laughed at their expressions if mine hadn't been so shocked to begin with. There were multiple televisions stored inside the house but I could tell hardly any of them were used regularly. Their faces had all be masks of shock, curiosity, and stupor as they watched the figures on the screen. I had to remind myself that it was simply because when they were human, such electronically powered devices hadn't been invented. It still didn't stop me from letting out a few giggles when I realized they reminded me of cave men.

Aro, His Creepy Highness, was parked near the sliding glass door that led to the backyard. His hand was stretched up as he stroked the bottom of his chin with his thumb. The motion made me think of the weird, ecstatic masterminds in those cheesy adventure films and I snorted.

"Ah, yes, Timothy Fitzgerald killed. Such a delight," he all but purred, his eyes languidly sweeping over the back yard. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. I knew these vamps were supposed to be on our side and all but sometimes I couldn't help but wonder if they were really just dragging us along, set on making us another victim of theirs once we saved the Cullens.

Maria was sitting stiffly at the table, her head propped up with her hand. Her cat-like eyes were glued to her friend Chester (though, sometimes, I couldn't help but think there just had to be something else going on there. I mean, really, who didn't?). "I wonder if it was one of the Cullens," she murmured wistfully, a crease forming between her brows.

Adam straightened from his position in the far corner of the dark room, his eyes glittering like unclassified gem stones. "It was," he supplied softly, casually, like everyone already knew.

Everyone's heads turned to look at him, their eyes large in surprise. Um, excuse me, but you so do not just reveal a huge bombshell like that without explanation.

The only one in the room who looked unfazed was Eve who sat in silence next to Maria, her eyes downcast and staring at the tabletop. I switched my curiosity from her to Adam, the towel clutched in my hand and the pan dropped in the sink.

One of the Cullens had killed somebody, then? Was that it? I shuddered in repulsion at the thought. Who did it? Which one of those yellow-eyed fiends had finally switched sides on us and killed a human?

Maria looked up callously, her eyes like frosty red ice. "Which one was it?" Her voice was rough, almost guttural, and I flinched from the aberrant tone. Ugh, I thought, why were vampires so weird?

Adam's eyes glanced from Eve to Maria and then he finally opened his mouth. "Jasper," he said, "though he didn't really want to. It was...necessary, you could say." I gaped at him. Necessary? How the hell was killing a man necessary? I didn't care if Timothy was a monster, you just don't do that. I shook my head, disgusted, and turned back to the sink.

"You know what this means, right?" Jared asked quietly, interrupting the awkward silence that Adam's words had induced. I scrubbed the pan vigorously, my knuckles turning an unhealthy shade of white, as I ignored my ‘brother's question.

There was a tired sigh, though I wasn't sure who it came from. "I don't think your treaty is still in account, Jared. Plus, isn't it Jacob who now decides these things? He is the rightful leader." I scowled at Eve's cool voice and how easily she disregarded Sam. And what was he? Cold turkey? I mean, I wasn't a big fan of his all the time but in my opinion, he had done a hell of a job so far.

Maybe a better job than Jacob could have done.

"And we all know Jacob would never want to pick a fight with the Cullens," Paul responded, mockingly, as he pushed himself off the doorframe and walked out of the room. I shared a worried glance with Seth before shrugging and going back to the cleaning. If he wanted to be a pessimistic ass, I wasn't going to stop him.

"Personally, I don't really care who killed Timothy. It's in the past and can't be undone. What I'm worried about is Jasper," Tanya spoke up, for the first time since the television had flickered on, from her seat at the kitchen table. My shoulders stiffened at her words. In a way, she was kind of right. I knew that I didn't give a rat's ass about Timothy and was only so concerned about it because of the treaty. I was concerned, though, on what our little friend Jasper was doing right about now.

The rest of the Denali clan murmured in hushed words behind her and I shook my head, deeply sighing to get rid of this pent up frustration and anger. "I mean, where is he going? What does he plan on doing? These are all questions we should be trying to answer. Not who killed Timothy and why." I ignored Tanya's words and kept my face to the faucet, where, from the death glares some of the Volturi were shooting me, I felt like I belonged.

"You don't have to worry about him," Adam protested evenly, though I could make out a more demanding undertone to his deep voice. "He won't get in harm's way or even cause trouble himself. All we need to be thinking about is leaving in the morning. Speaking of which, I'm sure the shape shifters are tired. You should probably get some rest before we start off."

Without giving any recognition to his words, I noisily dropped the pan into the suds and wiped my hands off. I sighed, reaching up to wipe a few drops of mixed water from the sink and sweat from my brow. At least he had the decency to say it kindly. I was sure if it had been, say, Aro, he would have said something more along the lines of "Get out. We don't want or need you here right now so go make yourself useful somewhere else for the time being," or even "Can't you see you don't belong here? Now scat until we need you."

I felt a cold hand on my shoulder and stiffened, looking to the side and into Maria's unexpectedly kind, considerate face. Wow, I thought, personality makeover or what?

"I can finish up," she said, eyeing the rest of the stack of dirty plates and other kitchen items. "Plus," she immediately grinned, revealing perfectly white teeth, "I'm sure I can get it done faster." She winked, which threw me more off balance and all I could do was stand there and nod like a moron.

"Sure," I finally muttered, "knock yourself out." I turned from the sink to find all of my brothers gone except for Seth, who stood with only a trace of discomfort on his face by the door. I glanced at the vampires out of the corner of my eye to find half the room split. Only the Volturi members looked distraught at our presence, their ruby eyes glaring daggers. The rest, I found shocking, looked only maybe a bit concerned for our lack of sleep.

Huh. Well. Maybe Adam really just was being friendly. I still had no doubt in my mind that there was an ulterior motive in his words, an ulterior motive along the lines of ‘We can't discuss things like this with a shape shifter around.'

I reached Seth and steered him out of the room, away from the prying eyes of the vampires. My shoulder bumped into his chest as he walked, kind of like how our shoulders used to bump into each other when we were little kids and the same height. It was a reassuring motion to know that I wasn't alone here. At least Seth was in the same boat.

We slowly made our way out of the house, ignoring the clusters of gossiping vampires. Man, those Special Reports sure knew how to crash a party. The throngs of people no longer danced or talked or played cards. Instead, for the most part, they were huddled together, talking about what had just been discussed on the television.

It felt good to get out of that stuffy, overcrowded house. I breathed in the cool, clean air and felt my eyelids flutter shut as the soft breeze reached my skin. Ok, maybe I had been a bit tired. It was a long day, after all. So much had happened in such little time.

I stopped on the porch steps to give a huge yawn, feeling a fuzzy sort of sensation behind my eyelids. Yeah, I needed to sleep and now.

"Hey, come on," Seth tugged on my wrist from on the ground. "Don't fall asleep yet, Leah. We kind of need to get to the beds first." He chuckled, pulling on me more, and without a word I glided down the steps, just wanting to lay down. "Plus, I so don't want to have to carry you." I swatted sleepily at his arm, my other hand reaching up to rub my eyes.

"Oh, shut up. It's been a long day." He snorted at my words, pushing me along through the numerous bonfires and tangles of ice cold bodies. I looked at the other vampires who surrounded us, their ashen faces being illuminated by the flames of the fire. I watched everything pass through in a dream-like haze, quickly feeling all of the day's tension wash down on me like hale stones.

We finally, finally, reached the sleeping bags and I crawled, dazed, into mine. Embry and Quil were already out, their faces suddenly looking childlike as they snored on. Sam was sitting on his, looking into the fire with eyes that looked more like black in the dark. He had a frown on his face and I immediately wondered why.

Seth reached over to nudge me with his hand. I looked over at him, peering darkly through my eyelids. "Night, Leah," he murmured, breaking off halfway through to yawn. I gave a half-hearted grin and settled back down into the plush mattress.

"Night, Seth," I replied sleepily, looking up at the glittering stars in the pitch black sky. In the back of my mind, I could hear the low rumblings of Jared and Paul discussing something off to the corner, but I was too tired to pay any attention. It didn't matter, anyway. I was sure if it was something important, someone would wake me up.

There was a slight pressure on the right side of my body and I looked over to find Seth already out like a light bulb and rolling onto me for what I assumed was comfort. I gave a drowsy frown at the vulnerable look on his face. I didn't care what he or anyone else said, he was still a child to me and more importantly, still my little brother.

I reached over to him and enveloped his large hand in mine and squeezed gently, just to let him know I was here. His mouth twitched in response and I rolled my head back over to look at the sky as I quickly drifted off to sleep.


Maria's Point of View

I knew now that no matter what happened, I would always be a very solitary creature. I allowed very few people into my heart and even fewer to see the real me. Being alone, by myself in silence, was a heavenly solace to me. As I reached out and pulled back the drapes of the window, I realized tonight was no exception.

Finding out Jasper had escaped was like a blow to me. I had decided I didn't love him anymore, yes, but there would always be some sort of tender feelings left in my heart, some sort of affection. I couldn't bear to stay in that crammed kitchen any longer upon learning of his getaway and learning of his killing only made things worst. It made me feel...closer to him, which I knew was a very, very bad thing to feel.

I had quietly slipped from the room, not escaping Chester's attention, and into my own dark, chilled room floors above. I was sure they had noticed my disappearance but I knew I didn't quite care. I needed to be alone, without their company and their worries.

I sighed, leaning against the window for support, as my free arm wound its way around my torso. Where was he? My forehead fell against the window as I watched my soldiers below me. They were spread out all over the lawn, talking enthusiastically and some had resumed their partying from before. In the far corner of the lawn, I could make out the dim sparks of a fire with tanned, large sleeping forms encircling it. I gave a grim smile at the resting La Push Pack, relieved they were getting at least some rest before tomorrow.

There was a knock on the door and I sighed, noticing how when I breathed on the cooled pane of glass, it stayed clear and transparent. Who was it now? I glanced over my shoulder at the door and listened attentively to whoever was on the other side. No heartbeat, pulse, or even breathing. Whoever it was, they were being as still as stone.

"Come in," I mumbled, knowing the inhuman creature would hear me no matter how softly I said it. The door creaked open and a blonde head poked in, wide ruby eyes gauging the appearance of the room. Chester.

He came in almost inaudibly, looking more like an angel then the monster we all were. His golden hair was disarrayed and there was even a slight tear in the sleeve over his shoulder, which I inspected with my eyes closely. When had that get there? I frowned at his disorderly appearance in confusion.

"I was training the young ones," he explained, reading my mind. Ah, that explained it. He came closer and sat almost hesitantly on my bed and I turned my back to him, returning to look outside and watch over my people.

"What am I doing?" I asked him, feeling an awful sense of desperation come over me. I needed some sort of reassurance right now, some sort of comfort that I was doing the right thing.

There was a muffled noise of bewilderment as he listened. "What do you mean?" He asked in a flat but concerned tone. I shook my head, reaching up to lay my palm lightly on the surface of the window. They all looked so happy and carefree out there, the soldiers. To them, this was an adventure, an unforgettable experience. I yearned to be in their world, to just tag along for the ride instead of making all of the decisions.

"Am I doing the right thing? Leading them into this?" I let my hand drop to my side and looked down, almost ashamed of the words that were about to leave my lips. "I wish things could go back to how they were before."

And why couldn't they? I was sure Adam and Eve must have some sort of power to rewind the clocks. They could go back to the day before that Canadian newborn made his mistake and kill him before he revealed us all. I could go back to devouring the South with my power-hungry determination and the Cullens could go back to their peace and quiet in little Forks, Washington, unbothered by society. It would be heaven to do so.

There was a moment of silence behind me and I wondered why Chester was so unresponsive. He wasn't exactly the talkative type, but when thrown into conversations, he did usually speak his mind. He never kept too silent for long.

I felt a small smile tug at the corners of my lips; love was a funny thing, as clichéd as it sounded. A week ago I never would have thought I would know Chester this well or love him this much. It was funny how much I had taken notice of before but never really realized, like the way he watched everything with very alert eyes, or his canny ability to slip in and out of rooms and discussions without anyone ever noticing, or even-

I shook my head and turned to him, annoyed he hadn't responded. "What's the matter?" I questioned him. "Why are you so silent?"

He was sitting on the edge of the unneeded bed, his elbows propped up on his kneecaps and his long, thin fingers holding his chin up. He picked his saddened gaze up off the floor and peered at me somberly, his lips slightly pursed. I put my hands on my hips in increasing aggravation at this recent attitude of his.

"I don't," he mumbled through stiff lips. He coughed slightly, like a human would as he straightened up. "I like things the way they are. They feel right." I gave him a curious gaze and he shrugged. "I-I can't imagine going back to how things were, even if it was more convenient." He suddenly looked down and I could see the slightest, faintest blush creep up under his icy skin. "If things hadn't fallen into place like they had, I don't really think I'd be here now."

I froze, blinking in a sudden burst of puzzlement. Be here? As in my army? I swallowed thickly, not even wanting to think about the idea, and apprehensively walked towards him, sitting on the bed beside him gently. "Do you mean you were planning on leaving?" I asked in what sounded like an extremely meek voice.

His head whipped to look at me with wide, almost frightened eyes. "Leaving? No. The thought never occurred to me. Before I thought I'd be here until the day I died." He shook his head slightly, a trace of a bitter smirk growing on his full lips. "No, I just meant I wouldn't be here," he waved one hand around the room, gesturing, before continuing, "with you."

I looked away from him, feeling my face, too, grow a bit warm. It was a sensation I hadn't felt in a long time and I almost reached up to see if I could feel the tingling or even look in the mirror to see the pale blush.

So that's what he meant. I took a deep breath and felt my chest tighten. There was a brief silence as his words sunk in.

"Well, yes, that was certainly an advantage," I said, only half-jokingly. That was probably the only good thing that had come out of this: Chester. I frowned, taking a moment to wonder why exactly we had ‘hated' each other before. Or maybe it was just a way to cover up a subconscious desire. They always said that in a crisis, you saw a person for who they really were. Was that how we were? Hating each other's facades until we broke down under stress and discovered our true selves?

He continued to be silent and I wondered if he had taken my comment a different way then I meant it. I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye and let my eyes travel up his sharp profile as he glared at the opposite wall. His broad forehead complimented his angled, narrow chin with high cheekbones and large, almond-shaped eyes. His perfection was blinding for a moment as I resisted the sudden urge to reach out and touch him, just to let myself know he was really here and really with me.

"I didn't mean it like that," I apologized, letting my limp hands fall into my lap. He glanced up at me and nodded, though his strong jaw stayed clenched. "It's just that everything is so complicated now," I added, even though I felt whiny and bratty for saying these words. "I don't want to be a part of this world. I don't want everything to be changed, for our futures to be in the hands of these humans. I just want to be separate from them, to have our own little world."

"Do you want to save the Cullens?"

The question hung in the air, catching me terribly off guard. I gulped quickly, trying to find a true answer to his imposing question. Did I want to save the Cullens? Did I want them to be alright or did I simply not care? Or, worst, did I just want to have an excuse to see Jasper?

I looked down at the bedspread, tracing the patterns with my eyes as I avoided his gaze. "No, I don't really think I do." I wanted them to be saved, I did. But did I want to personally be the one to open the door and let them free? No. I didn't want anything to do with them. They were different, they were new, and they were something I wanted to live without.

Chester turned his head, looking at me with narrowed eyes. I couldn't help but think he looked a bit betrayed but as soon as I saw it, his face turned to a stony mask. "I thought you wanted to," he muttered darkly.

I gave him a strange look, wondering why this was so vital to him. "I want them to be saved," I clarified wearily, "but I just don't understand why we have to. Adam and Eve could do it by themselves. Hell, just one of them could do it. Why are we being dragged into this? It's only going to mess our world up even more." I knew I was acting like a sulky child, something I wouldn't have been caught dead doing a week ago, but I didn't care. It was the honest truth.

He looked at me for a second or two, his face rigid with an emotion I couldn't quite identify. "It's because of him," he finally whispered, looking away. "He's not there, so you don't want to go."

"What?" I exclaimed, totally surprised. "What are you trying to say? That because Jasper," I all but growled his name, "isn't there, I have no desire to go? His presence there has nothing to do with my lack of enthusiasm at this whole damned idea. I don't want to go because I don't want to see them! I don't care! I just don't care!" My scream was turning shrill, rising in octaves and even piercing my own ears.

I never wanted the Cullens to be thrown into my life, I never wanted to have my world and future revolve around them, and I most certainly did not want to have anything to do with them. I wanted to stay on my big, beautiful mansion in the middle of nowhere, free from society and free from the world.

I stood up and paced around the room, needing to somehow work off this energy and frustration. Where had this newfound hatred for the Cullens come from? I hadn't ever realized I felt so strongly until now.

Chester's eyes followed my every move, wide and possibly even anxious. I would have laughed at the expression if I wasn't so infuriated. Seeing Chester, the practically invincible, fearless warrior afraid of me was a bit...laughable, to say the least.

"You really feel that way?" He asked quietly, cautiously, as if he expected me to snap at him again. Or bite his hand off.

"Yes," I bit out, more harshly than I expected to. I glanced at him and was taken aback to find him grinning madly, his eyes alight with happiness. I turned on him, slightly angry at his manic actions and emotions. "What? What are you so damn happy about?"

He immediately laughed, throwing his head back as he guffawed. He calmed down a bit and gave me a slightly sheepish smile. "I thought you just didn't want to go because the rest of the Cullens, as in everyone but Jasper, held no interest for you. I was almost expecting you to dash off at sunrise to find him." He chuckled again, shaking his head, as if he couldn't believe he had ever thought so.

I stood there; my jaw slightly slacked at his words. A part of me was troubled by his lack of trust in me. I couldn't imagine just dropping everything and leaving it all behind for Jasper. Even in my darkest most lonesome moments, I didn't think I had ever been able to do that. Too many vampires depended on me, too many needed me.

"I would never do that," I managed to get out, my shoulders slumping a bit as I did so. His eyebrows arched back, high into his forehead, at the tone of my voice as he listened.

"How could I be sure?" He sounded like he could be talking to himself and I frowned at the desperate pitch in his usually still, collected voice. I let out a shuddering breath as I felt myself calm down and regain control of myself.

I came closer to him, within reaching distance, and stood there, my hands searching out his own. "You have to trust me," I mumbled looking down at the mesmerizing way our hands fit together, like they were sculpted to fit so perfectly.

He snorted and rolled his eyes, seeming more himself then I think I had ever seen him. "That can be hard to do," he replied, truthfully, which I was grateful for. "You're very unpredictable, did you know that?" Though he had taken on a teasing tone, I knew he was serious about it.

I huffed and collapsed on the bed next to him. "I know."

I felt his diffident touch as his fingers stroked my cheek. As if a reflex, I reached up and placed my hand over his, keeping it there. After a relaxed moment of stillness, he spoke. "I think you're doing the right thing."

I looked at him in mild surprise and scowled. "You do?"

He nodded in obvious agreement and leaned back onto the bed, his feet dangling over the edge. "Of course I do," he said matter-of-factly, his lips twisting up into a smile. "You always do the right thing."

I frowned at him, disagreeing immensely, and shook my head. "You're wrong," I told him, drawing my knees up to my chest and hugging them tightly. "I often do the very opposite of right. Even in my human years, I always made the biggest mistakes."

He reached up to touch my bare arm and rubbed it soothingly. "You've never talked about being human. Tell me about it." I rolled my eyes at his obvious effort to change topics and looked away, slightly troubled by the route the discussion was taking.

"I think this is a mistake now," I whispered, ignoring his former demand, as I stared at the opposite wall intently. Couldn't I just keep my army down here, in the deep heat of Texas? Out of sight, out of mind, right? It would be much easier than trailing behind Adam and Eve like lost puppies and maybe I could live without plans to conquer the South.

Chester heaved an exasperated sigh and I could tell I was wearing his patience down. "Maria," he began, softly, like he was talking to a child, "do you know what I think?"

I let out a breath, pursing my lips at his question. "No?"

"I think it's time," he said simply and I looked at him weirdly. It was time. Great, profound words. His lips formed a slight smirk as he watched me smugly, like he had just revealed the biggest secrets of the universe. I nudged him in the side and gave him a weary look.

"Come on, enough with the riddles," I whined. "They do nothing but confuse me in the end, anyway." He grinned at me wickedly and chuckled, his arms moving up to fold under his head as he stretched out on the bed.

"It's not like you wouldn't be able to figure it out if you didn't try," he retorted, rolling his eyes, though the smile had yet to fall from his face. "I just think the world is ready for us, you know? I don't think we were supposed to be kept in hiding forever. No creature on this world is supposed to go undiscovered for all of eternity."

I groaned aloud, smacking my face and then looking at him. "Please, please, do not tell me you're going to go into God's mission for us all. I don't think I could handle the religious speech." Not too many vampires believed in God. It just wasn't a common belief; there were too many unanswered questions that went along with the blind faith in Him. If there was a God, why had He ever created us? Why did He allow this to happen? Why didn't He stop it?

Chester rolled his eyes again and nudged me back, swatting at my torso. "I'm not talking about God, just common philosophy. I'm just saying, to me, I can't imagine anything being on this earth without a reason. Why would anything be created only to hide in the shadows, afraid of society and the people who live in it? We all have a purpose, something to fulfill, and we've spent enough years running from it. Maybe it was because humans weren't ready to know of us and now they are? I don't know, Maria, and I don't think I'll ever know but what I do know is that what's going to happen, well, you can't stop it. It's going to come no matter what you do. We're going to be exposed; this whole army will be exposed. Personally, I'm ready for it and have been since the day I awoke to this world. The world's been in the dark for too long."

I let his words sink in, looking him in the eye. His words made sense, in a way, but almost far-fetched. Who said everyone had a purpose? Who said we all had a sort of destiny to complete? His theory solely relied on his belief of a higher order and that was one thing I lacked greatly.

"And what if they don't accept us?" I eventually asked, quietly, as I uncoiled from my position to sit cross-legged next to him. A stark white strip of flesh was exposed between the edge of his shirt and his pants and I timidly reached out to touch the bare skin. He shivered under my touch and watched me out of the corner of his eye.

"Does it matter?" He shrugged and smiled at me, reaching up to tuck a loose strand of my hair behind my ear.

I nodded in response, crawling closer to him for some sort of consolation. My legs came out from under me as I leaned over him, spreading out, as I wrapped my arms around him and placed my head on his stomach, hugging him close to me.

"No, it doesn't," he murmured roughly and I felt his hand rub my back comfortingly. "They can't hurt us, even though I think they'd like to. Whether they know it or not, they have to accept us, Maria. We have the upper hand, we have the strength, and once they see us, they'll realize it. They won't have any hold over us, any sort of control, for we could overrule them all. You'll see. In a month, give or take a few, you'll see. We'll be fine."

I sighed and leaned further into him, my face nestling into the soft cotton of his shirt. What he said all sounded good and dandy to me but how could it be possible? It sounded too good to be true but I didn't have the heart to tell him so. He seemed so sure it would play out just like that and I wasn't able to crush his vision of a better tomorrow.

"We'll be fine," he repeated again, softer, and I closed my eyes tightly, wishing more than ever that he was right.

It was nearly five hours later when the sun slowly peeked over the horizon, its rays sneaking through the window and spreading its radiant light throughout the shadowy room. I opened one eye reluctantly to look out the window at all of the sparkling, excited forms of my soldiers. This was it.

Chester's long fingers stroked back my hair and I opened my other eye, this time quite willingly. He hovered above me, his face almost blinding from the way his skin reflected the light like brilliant diamonds.

"Are you ready?" He asked quietly as he leaned down to place a tender kiss on my collarbone. I gulped uneasily and glanced back at the window and what was outside, waiting for me. Somehow, staying here with him seemed like a much better option than facing what was to come.

"Is that a joke?" I bitterly asked, looking back up at him. He did nothing but smile at my nervousness and then straightened up, sitting beside me on the bed.

"They're waiting for us, you know," he told me, leaning down to put his lips on my hand. I sighed, sitting up along with him, and reached up to smooth the bodice of the dress I was wearing and pulled my fingers through my knotted hair. I eyed him closely from the corner of my eye and grimaced.

"Who's waiting?"

He rolled his eyes. "Everyone," he said pointedly. I gawked at him for a moment before cursing and jumping from the ruffled bed. Everyone? Everyone. A low hiss escaped my lips as I stood in front of the mirror, grabbing my old-fashioned brush and yanking it through my hair recklessly. My dress had been turned somehow during the night and I straightened it, wriggling my hips to ease the movement.

"Are you ready?" Came an annoyed voice behind me and I rolled my eyes. I reached for one of those very convenient hair ties and pulled my hair back quickly. Really, I took a moment to think, whoever created those was a genius.

I looked back at him once in the doorway and scowled. "What do you mean? I'm ready. You're the one holding us up."

He glowered at me as he scrambled up from the bed, leaving it messier than it had been before, and came towards me. "Liar," he growled faintly as he slid past me in the doorway, escaping into the hallway. I bit back the growing laugh as I turned to follow him and glanced at my empty room behind me. It'd be a long, long time before I ever saw it again, I figured.

I shook my head, forcing the thought away as I followed him down the hallway; thinking about the next time I would see this house depressed me a bit. Though I wasn't used to having a set ‘home', I had gotten quite attached to the decrepit mansion.

Downstairs was no different from the eerie silence that covered the second story. Everything looked untouched, like it had been sitting here unaccompanied for decades. I trailed a fingertip along the clean surface of a tabletop absent-mindedly as I looked around. The soldiers who had used the house for their celebration last night had cleaned up well. Everything was in perfect order, organized no differently than how I had placed it before.

"I don't think they're what you would call patient." I turned towards Chester's agitated voice and smiled. He was by the doorway, the one that led to the front yard, with an edgy expression on his face. I walked towards him, heaving a sad sigh.

"You're probably right," I murmured, placing my hand on the knob.

He snorted lightly. "Aren't I always?"

I ignored his smugness and yanked the door open, revealing not only a swarming yard but a huge, bright sun beaming down on all of us. "I wonder if that's a good omen," I thought aloud, looking up at the big ball of fire in the sky. Chester shrugged, slipping out behind me and closing the door with a light click.

As I looked about the yard, I realized the bonfires had mysteriously disappeared. Sometime during the night, they had all been extinguished and the pieces of wood put out of sight. Bone white figures moved across the lawn, their bare feet crunching the blades of grass as they moved about.

From this view, it was easy to spot the different groups. Painfully easy. The Volturi, their black cloaks swirling, stood close to the middle, their eyes shifting about nervously at the other wilder vampires. The shape shifters were towards the right, quiet and still under the canopy of the large oak tree they had set camp up under. They were dressed in the usual shorts, the males bare-chested and the lone girl clad in a summery tank top. They each had bags, the new stylish kind that humans called ‘back-packs' which I could only assume were full of food, clothes, and other necessities.

It was when I searched through the rest of the crowd for my army that things began to get messy. The Loreto group blended right in except for the rare zebra skin coat or even rarer designer clothes. Most of the others could easily be mistaken for one of my soldiers, especially the former warriors Peter and Charlotte.

Chester grabbed my hand and pulled me down the steps, looking eager to be down where the action was. I internally groaned at his excitement. This was where he belonged, what he looked forward to but me, the hermit, would rather sit back and let the twins take control.

Once we reached the middle, where Adam and Eve stood, facing each other mysteriously, we finally stopped. I swear, never in all my years of living had I seen anything like the pair before me. The look in their eyes as they gazed at each other was intimate in a way that brothers and sisters shouldn't be. Looking at the two of them, though, it was hard to imagine them being siblings. They shared no similar features what so ever except their glorious perfection. Eve's face was all elegant angles, softening or hardening to her will, with icy violet eyes. Adam's was broad planes with compassionate orange eyes.

Little Jane of the Volturi was, as some say, ‘sucking up' to the royal king and queen. She stood, an innocent look glued on her vicious face, behind Eve, holding a white, lacy parasol over the figure of Eve. I gave her a pointed look of disgust and quirked a brow at Eve, who turned to greet us once we arrived. She simply shrugged, her bare white shoulders lifting just as the corners of her lips did the same thing.

And that's when I noticed it. Eve looked sickly under the bright sun, her skin pasty and sallow in response to the sun's rays. Her eyes were duller, a washed out shade of violet that blended right in with the pallid exposure of her skin. Even her hair seemed a bit lankier, hanging slightly limp over her shoulders and sticking to her moist skin.

My eyes widened; her moist skin. Did that mean Eve's vampiric body produced perspiration? I gaped openly, not even bothering to close my mouth. Yes, I had seen Eve in the sun before but had never noticed it before.

Eve's faded eyes lit up a tiny bit and she shot me a small smile. "It's a hot day, isn't it?" She reached up to fan her neck and glanced gratefully at Jane, who clutched the parasol tightly, as if her life depended on it.

"I don't understand...how are you doing that?" I gestured at the bead of perspiration that gathered at her hairline, crushing down the desire to touch it, as vulgar as that may sound. I had never seen a vampire sweat, it was simply impossible. I needed to make sure I wasn't hallucinating.

Eve swiped at the gathering beads with a white handkerchief and glanced at Adam uneasily. "It's the sun, you see. It weakens me a bit, not enough to do any real damage, just as the moon diminishes Adam's powers."

"Even under our destined enemies, we're still more powerful than all of you combined," Adam clarified, his sparkling skin flexing in a threatening way to remind us that we still held no chance against them. I bit my lip and Chester simply just frowned at Eve.

"You're more human than any of us, aren't you?" The idea seemed ironic to me. The most powerful of all vampires had human weaknesses while any other vampire did not.

Adam sent me a cool gaze, his eyes darkening. "But more inhuman than any of you could wish to be."

I ignored his statement and turned away from him, admitting to myself that, yes, Adam did intimidate me. I hated to admit it, hated to confess that I feared another vampire but I could just tell, see it in his eyes even, that even though he wore the mask of a compassionate ruler, there was an undertone to his friendly smile. I had a feeling that being on his bad side was something no vampire survived.

Chester turned to Eve, his eyes lingering on her dress. "That's why you're not wearing your usual black, isn't it? It attracts the sun." I hadn't noticed it before but Chester was right. I had never seen Eve wear anything except her black, old-fashioned Victorian dress and matching cloak. However, now she wore a thin white off the shoulders sun dress. Not a modern sort of dress with clingy material that ended at about the knees. This plummeted from the bodice, trailing on the ground softly, made of what could only be described as cotton.

Adam rolled his eyes, a gesture I didn't think he was capable of with his usually old-fashioned remarks and dialect. "Are we going to spend the entire day discussing her fashion choices or can we begin?"

Chester's brows lifted and he apologized quietly, not bothering to look at Eve for a response of any sort.

The crowd around us had thickened, I immediately realized, coming closer and waiting for demands and orders. Over their heads I spotted the shape shifter pack, hanging loosely on the outskirts. They were easy to spot, their dark skin standing out magnificently from the pearly complexion of all the other vampires.

"How do you expect to get us there?" I suddenly asked, speaking aloud. Honestly, I had no clue what they planned to do. They hadn't bothered to fill me in on the details and now that it was the last moment before takeoff, I wanted to know. Eve had mentioned to me earlier of using Chester's power, a power he very rarely spoke of or even used. It was what made him a ruthless, invincible fighter.

Adam and Eve glanced between the two of them and Adam grinned, exposing his blinding white teeth. He turned back to me and his smile never left his face. "We're transporting you," he simply said.

I glanced at Chester who was fighting greatly to keep his face void of any emotion. Transporting us. Was that even possible? My lips turned down into a deep frown. They just planned to mentally take us there, one second we were here, the next there?

Aro sighed theatrically from behind Eve, his hands laced together before him in a tight knot. "Transporting? Really? And where would a power like that come from? It surely must be unique."

Eve tossed him a loathsome look. "Why do you care? Let me guess, you want whatever vampire who has this power to join your little cult of pretenders?" Aro's jaw slackened and he glared at her. Once she turned her back to him, he bared his teeth but stopped when Marcus, ever the silent Marcus, reached up to smack him upside the head.

Someone, somewhere, giggled quietly at not only Eve's insulting words but Marcus' actions and I sneered. At least one of the Volturi was somewhat rational and knew better than to get in Eve's way.

"How do you plan on doing that?" Chester asked quietly, his eyes probing and questioning. Obviously, I shared his curiosity. It wasn't everyday that you just got transported somewhere. I gnawed on the inside of my cheek, glancing around at the identical expressions of shock and even displayed terror.

Eve trilled a laugh and smiled brightly, turning around in a circle, which sent Jane on a wild goose chase as she tried to keep the parasol balanced. I could tell there was tension there but couldn't place why. Jane's evil twin, Alec, was close by with fury evident in his eyes as he watched Adam and Eve. Twin rivalry? Was that it? Adam and Eve were the more powerful set of twins and controlled Alec and Jane?

"I know you are all frightened at the prospect but please, trust us. It'll go simply, I promise. One second you'll be here, the next, we'll be about two short miles from the Cullens, in the woods that surrounds the building."

I looked around at the unsure faces that encircled me. They were slowly beginning the panic; I could see it in their eyes. I couldn't blame them, I really couldn't. With so much of the unknown intruding upon our lives this past week, it was only expected that when everything came together, they would snap. Their shifty glances and furrowed brows convinced me that we were finally about to lose them completely.

Because, you see, newborns were actually very weak. They were emotional, often dependent on others, and slightly naïve. When you had them all together in one big herd like I did, their weaknesses became more pronounced. Most of these vampires had never been outside the state of Texas or even ten miles away for that matter and suddenly the idea of going halfway across the country seemed overwhelming to them. Even the older ones, the beginners, were antsy and nervous.

I could feel that we were losing our grip on them. They were starting to doubt our plans and themselves. One even shook her head and took a few steps back, as if cornered by her worst enemy. I threw a withering glance at Eve, who looked awfully unsure of what was happening, as I stepped up to the plate.

In all honestly, I knew newborns the most. Just like Chester's specialty was with fighting and killing, mine was with newborns. And why wouldn't it be? I had been raising hundreds, maybe even thousands, for almost three hundred years.

I lifted my head and raised my voice, knowing that my children would hear me, even if I had been whispering. "I am sure none of us have anything to fear. Adam and Eve would never lead us into anything perilous." And just like that, oh so simply, they began to calm themselves. Give them the false security they need, and all of their fears evaporate.

Eve nodded her head and looked around her. "Maria is right. We'll protect you no matter what." A tender smile softened her features and I wasn't sure if it was sincere or not. She looked overheated, dehydrated, and maybe even sickly; she probably had others things on her mind than a hundred or so newborn vampires.

Adam cleared his throat and spread his arms wide. "Come closer," he beckoned to the surrounding vampires and even shape shifters. Everyone strained their necks, trying to get a look at what he was about to do. He outstretched an open palm towards Eve, who grasped onto it with a slight tremor wracking through her fingertips. I observed the two curiously, watching as Adam's eyes narrowed on her shaking hands worriedly.

If they had known each other for all of eternity and he was concerned over her tremors, did that mean it was unusual? I kept my gaze on their interlocked hands. Was something wrong with Eve? Adam's fingers tightened on her hand, possibly trying to calm the quivering, but it failed.

"Chester," Eve calmly stated, pulling my attention from her shuddering hand to her face. "Once we get there, I'll need you to use your power. I know you've never had this many people to wrap it around, but you can do it. I know you can." Her lips pulled into a wan smile as she directed him.

Beside me, Chester nodded, though somewhat reluctantly. "Of course," he murmured, "though couldn't you just do it? You said before you had every possible power-"

"It'll be good practice for you," Adam interrupted, his voice dark and reserved. Chester gulped and just shrugged in response, now suddenly very willing to do anything the two asked of him.

Adam looked down at Eve, whose face was half shrouded behind Jane's still parasol. "Are you ready?" Eve nodded, squeezing his hand visibly, before her eyelids drifted shut. My gaze was torn from Chester to her face as I saw the sunlight hit it as Jane lowered the frail-looking umbrella. Eve's eyelids were a pale mauve, resembling bruises, with fine blood vessels weaving their way right under the surface. Her eyelashes brushed the planes of her pasty cheekbones as her shoulders stiffened.

I glanced at Chester unsurely, wondering if he was seeing her the way I was. Last night she had been as perfect as ever, flawless and unblemished. Today, she looked like a human patient of one of their fatal diseases. Her lips were tight and colorless, her hair was dry and frizzing, and her skin looked like it was about to peel right off of the bone.

I swallowed a thick breath and looked away from the image of the corpse-like Eve standing spindly and brittle next to the glowing, positively iridescent Adam. All around me, I could feel the breaths of the vampires' breeze against my skin, feel their eyes staring right through me, and even feel their increasing confusion.

There was a tingling sensation that begun deep in my stomach and I wrapped my arms tightly around my torso. It was a human sort of feeling and I didn't like it what so ever. It felt like my unneeded organs were being torn apart and then set on fire simultaneously. I gasped in pain and almost doubled over, was this happening to everyone?

I peeled open my eyelids to look around me, only to find everyone else in the unmerciful grasps of the sharp pain. Just when I thought the piercing in my gut couldn't get any worst, it started up in my head, like someone was physically reaching into my skull and tearing my brain apart. I was about to reach up and clutch my head but when my fingertips connected with the fine hairs on my head, it stopped.

Just like that, it stopped. The pain vanished, leaving me breathless and more than slightly disturbed. I had never in all of my existence felt such gut-wrenching pain since...since the transformation. I blinked several times, not trusting myself to move until the dwindling pain had completely departed.

I lifted my hand up to the sky, about to look at my fingers to make sure all of my body parts were still where they should be, but noticed something. The sky, above me, was no longer the open heavens it used to be. Instead, wiry branches stretched up above me with green lively leaves poking out and even little bugs running up and down them.

I looked down in wonderment to find I was no longer on the front lawn. All around me was a forest, not the usual, empty yard of the mansion. Thick roots ran up and down the forest floor, scars of the earth, with blossoming flowers and leaves sprouting from the ground and nearby bushes. Broad tree trunks shot up from the ground and canopied above us, creating a welcomed shade.

And that wasn't all. Vampires surrounded me; the Volturi were standing as still as statues, their faces frozen in infuriated shock, the shape shifters were coughing and wheezing in another corner of the forest, their bodies still hanging over in severe pain, and the rest looked as dazed and disoriented as the rest of us.

Chester was suddenly behind me, practically appearing out of thin air, and his face was full of relief as his gaze fell on me. "You're alright," he sighed, taking my hand in his.

I nodded and squeezed his hand. "Yes, but..."

"But I never want to relive that. Ever," he finished for me, completely summing up what I was about to say. I gave a shaky laugh and nodded.

Adam and Eve materialized before us, their hands still intertwined together. Adam looked about, his eyes sweeping over the forest and its sudden occupants. He nodded once, a stiff, tense nod, and then smiled a bit. "Good, we're all here."

I scowled at him, still feeling a bit cloudy. "Why wouldn't we all be here?" I managed to get out, looking at him closely.

He simply shrugged, his face looking unconcerned. "It's very rare we lose someone along the way but it does happen." My jaw fell open. Lose someone along the way? Lose them where?

"How could you possibly lose someone?" Chester asked for me, his face a bit repulsed at the idea of suddenly being just gone in the middle of one of the twins transporting you somewhere.

Eve released Adam's hand and wandered about, her eyes evaluating all of the vampires. "It's happened before," she answered, slightly distracted. "Not often, of course. Sometimes, though, we find someone is just simply not suited for transporting. We just...lose them. They're lost somewhere in between."

"Between where?" Aro stepped forth, looking completely engrossed in the conversation. His eyes were alight with hardly contained excitement and I rolled my eyes at his childlike curiosity.

Adam made an impatient sound at the back of his throat as he leaned against a tree, his arms crossed on top of his bare chest, as he watched Eve move around the makeshift campsight. "Between worlds," he edgily said. "Between the physical realm of where they just were and the realm of where they were going."

"Do you ever find them?" Aro queried, his voice light and airy. My eyes wandered back to Adam and I listened for his answer.

Adam's eyes narrowed and he studied Aro quietly, almost thoughtfully, as if he was a new piece of information. "No," he replied flatly, not exactly coldly but certainly with the tone of saying this discussion was over.

Aro's mouth turned down in a frown and he turned around, put out by Adam's impoliteness. Adam watched him go and talk to Caius with hardly interested eyes. I let go of Chester's hand and hesitantly came closer to him, hoping he wouldn't brusquely turn me away, too.

"What you said," I began once I got closer, "was that true?" For some reason, the idea of it all intrigued me. Out of all the powers I had seen come and go among vampires, I had never seen someone be able to transport others. I had heard of a vampire who was able to transport himself, but never others.

Adam's eyes lazily came over to me and I felt myself shiver. He certainly did have abrupt mood swings, I decided. I had seen him act as an inspiration to the rest of us at some moments and then, at the next, be barking out orders with that strong voice of his and growling at anyone who got in his way.

Personally, I liked Eve much better. Though she had her cold, indifferent moments, she at least seemed rational at all hours of the day.

"Yes," he said softly. "Why?"

I shrugged, "I was just wondering. It seems-"

"Painful?" He asked, looking up at the sky. I was about to shake my head and tell him that ‘painful' wasn't precisely the term I was about to use but decided to ignore it. He probably already knew by reading my mind. "It is, you have no idea. I did it once."

I frowned in confusion. "You mean you lost someone between...realms?" The term was unfamiliar on my tongue and I said it unsurely. Adam shook his head, looking into the forest for something I couldn't see.

"No, I mean I was lost once." He said it so casually and nonchalantly that I almost missed the words altogether. I stared at him for a moment, stunned beyond words, and finally was able to open my mouth.

"How?" How on earth could you lose yourself in between ‘realms'? How could you even get out? His words were like plunging into a cold bucket of water. Wasn't he supposed to be faultless, without any weakness? I had always thought of him and Eve as virtually invincible, without any sort of vulnerability.

"It was a long, long time ago," he murmured quietly, almost inaudibly. "I made a mistake, one that almost cost me my life, if you can believe that." He then straightened, towering over me like a giant, as he pushed himself off the tree. "But it doesn't matter. It was all in the past and this is the present and since we're here, not all those centuries ago, I think we should follow them." His full lips turned up at the corners in a sort of gentle, easy-going smile. It reminded me of the way a teacher reprimands a young student.

I turned around, looking for whatever he was talking about, and found the forest almost empty except for Chester, who stood about twenty feet away, his attention divided between something that was veiled from my eyes and myself. He reached out to me, his palm open and welcoming.

"Come on," he said, "it's time to go."

I looked back at Adam but found an empty space next to me in his stead. I opened my mouth and then closed it, unsure of what to say as I turned back to Chester. "Where'd he go?"

Chester chuckled and shook his head, "Maria, he's still there, he's just invisible. Well, actually, if you really want to know, he's currently walking ahead of you but-"

"Invisible?" I asked, puzzled and feeling like I was going out of my mind. I rubbed my temples vigorously; this was why I never wanted to leave the mansion. First I had to go through severe pain as I was physically dragged from the spot and dropped miles away, then I find out you could simply be lost between worlds, and now this? People going invisible on me?

Chester threw me a strange look, "Yes," he said slowly, "I'm using my power."

I puffed out a short breath and shook my head. Right, yes, of course, Chester's power. That made sense. I sighed and walked towards Chester, feeling my legs grow weak. I didn't think I would ever be able to get used to that. Chester had the ability to make himself and others invisible but hardly ever used it. Sometimes, very rarely, he'd use it to teach the newborns fighting or in actual hostile fights with other vampires.

Often, when people said he had that ability to go unnoticed, it was just because he was using his powers.

I finally reached him and placed my hand in his. The second I did, I felt a growing sensation begin in my legs. Oh, not again, I thought, remembering the last time I had felt an odd feeling start within my body. This time, though, it wasn't painful. It was just...dizzying, momentarily making me lose my balance. It spread from my toes and through the rest of my body. There was no description for it, it was just like sinking into the air around you, like the molecules and cells of your body were breaking down and blowing into the atmosphere.

I opened up my eyes to find the forest the way it just had been and full of vampires, unlike a moment ago when I had been talking to Adam. We were behind, I noticed, with the rest of the group, nearly three hundred of us, running through the forest ahead of us.

I looked down at our hands questioningly and Chester smiled. "I just thought it'd be easier your first time if you had someone keeping you up. Otherwise, you probably would have just fallen to the ground. Most people did." He chuckled dryly as he looked to the distant sprinting forms.

I nodded, my mouth feeling dry of any venom, and took a deep breath. Everything felt different, like I wasn't whole, like I was made of numerous different pieces that were just floating there. I looked at Chester and opened my mouth. "Does this feeling go away?"


It wasn't Chester who replied and I jumped, surprised by Adam standing behind me with an amused expression on his face. I had thought we were alone.

Chester's eyes fell on Adam in a mix of curiosity and abhorrence. "You'll get used to it. I know it feels like you're just kind of floating there, but trust me, you're not. The first time I did it, I stood in front of a mirror for ten hours, making sure I was still together."

I was about to open my mouth with another question but Adam interrupted again. "Before you ask," he said breezily, stepping past Chester and I with his head bowed. "You can see yourself in mirrors. You can see anything and anyone in the unseen realm. Others who are not there cannot see you, obviously, or it would deplete the purpose of the art of invisibility. People in this realm with you, though, can see you and you can see them. Chester's an exception. His eyesight allows him to see people in this realm whether he's invisible himself or not. Alright, good, all questions answered. Now come along, we have to catch up with the others."

I watched him walk on, his head so close to smacking into branches with his incredible height. I shared a glance with Chester and he rolled his eyes, pulling me behind him as he followed Adam.

"Show off," he muttered almost noiselessly under his breath. I snorted quietly.

"I heard that," Adam called over his shoulder.

Chester shot me an exasperated glance andI placed my hand over my mouth to quiet my laughter as I realized he was completely, utterly correct.