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A Matter Of Time

Summary:
A TLYDF Recommendation, Nominated for Immortal Cookie Award, Won Best Imprint in the Silent Tear Awards Two weeks and the whole world can change. Caius and Jane led an insurrection against Aro and are making a mad power grab. Renegades from the wolf pack, unhappy with the treaty with the Cullens, are attacking vampires at every opportunity. Jacob and Renesmee are struggling with the paradox of imprinting. Edward, Bella and all the Cullens must come together to protect the world they've come to love. A tale of action, deceit, intrigue and sexual awakening.


Notes:
Stephanie Meyers owns all things Twilight. My thanks to all the wonderful people at PTB who helped with this story.


13. Chapter 13 Lies

Rating 4/5   Word Count 2379   Review this Chapter

Leah

My team had gotten different instructions from Colonel Freed for the gig in Alaska. We were to man the perimeter and make sure no one escaped. It was a bit of a slap in the face; I thought we’d been doing quite well for a new team. We’d had close to a near perfect success rate on our targets. I guessed it was somewhat understandable though, after what had happened in Egypt. There, two of the four targets had escaped. Colonel Freed said he had a special group of soldiers with some new weapons going in for the kill, but he wasn’t forthcoming with many details. It was all part of a larger plan geared toward extermination of vampires, he told us. If the new weapons were successful, he’d be able to expand our unit.

It was already dark when we arrived at the target house in Denali. I had Solomon and Perry run the northeast perimeter while Jimmy and Evan ran the southeast and Del held the eastern most position. I was holding the west where a steep gorge provided a natural boundary. I saw the firefight start from my position below in the gorge. It was a pretty imposing weapon, whatever was causing the flames up there. The explosion echoing off the hills surrounding the coven house was impressive.

As the firefight started, we pulled our positions closer, on the alert for escapees. We’ve got someone, Solomon and Perry reported. Through their eyes I saw a young female, her back turned to them. They weren’t recognizing the smell. Not a vampire? Why would a human be hanging around a coven house? Obviously, a very stupid human or perhaps it was a random hiker?

Well, this posed a problem. I didn’t want to kill an innocent, but was she part of the coven in some manner? Let our support team deal with this, I decided. I instructed Solomon and Perry to bring her halfway down the mountain where they could hand her off.

I phased into human form and radioed Captain Geary, the point man for our support team. He said he’d get to the hand-off point as soon as he could. The poor guy sounded pretty shaken, unusual for someone who posed as hard-bitten as he did. The supernatural can do that to people, though, and this was probably the first time he’d seen vampires up close.

It occurred to me that I might be more use monitoring the top of the gorge, so I scaled the gorge wall in human form. I topped the gorge and as luck would have it, I was downwind of the fight. That also meant the air was filled with the burning acidic smell of vampire making my nose sting with the strength of it.

There were three vampires walking around, where I expected to see soldiers. Were these our target? Where were our soldiers? I spotted Captain Geary and the others sitting in one of two hummers perched on the lawn. A third hummer was upside down, burning like hellfire. Anger was my first reaction as I realized they were sitting in a car while the vampires were running free.

Where were the goddamn vampire-killing soldiers that were supposed to be here?

I spotted a fourth vampire on the ground. A gust of wind brought her smell to me, one I recognized instantly. That was Rosalie Cullen. What was she doing here? Having a Cullen here could spell trouble for the treaty.

Then Jacob Black came tearing out of the woods, in his wolf form. I recognized him immediately. He attacked the male vampire and the two of them started squaring off against each other. I realized Jacob was defending Rosalie against these other vampires. Confusion and concern warred inside me as I watched him, when suddenly clarity cleared my mind.

Oh no. Those bloodsuckers, they were Colonel Freed’s soldiers. It all started falling together. The girl on the hill, that had to be Renesmee. Jacob, Rosalie and whoever had lived in this house were fighting the vampires that Colonel Freed had sent. Holy fucking shit.

This wasn’t about getting rid of the leeches; this was a full blown vampire war. The stand-offs I’d seen in Forks had never come to bloody violence, but something had changed. The gloves were off now; vampires were dying. My stomach lurched as I realized my pack and I were being used as pawns in it. We’d been recruited into playing some kind of unwitting role in a battle between bloodsuckers. I gasped at the enormity with which I’d been played. I swallowed the lump in my throat and fought back the nausea which threatened to overwhelm me.

I knew Jacob Black well; I’d been in his pack for a while. His loyalty to the Cullens was misguided, but I knew if he was on one side, and the vampires I was supposedly working with were on the other, then I was pretty sure I was on the goddamn wrong side.

Colonel Freed. His face flashed in front of my eyes. More lies, more stinking lies. The pit of my stomach tightened until there was a hot burning ball sitting in it.

Jacob feinted and dodged around the vampire, the glow from the fires uniting them in a demonic dance. The vampire tripped over Rosalie’s thrashing figure, and Jacob swooped in on top of him. With a flick of his head, he beheaded the fallen vampire. I fought the urge to stand up and hooray.

My sense of victory was short-lived however, as I saw a fireball come out of nowhere to splatter against Jacob. Still he sprang towards the other female vampire but with a swift kick, she caught him full in the chest and he went sailing off the edge of the gorge.

I turned from my hiding place and scaled down the gorge in record time. Jacob was on the beach by the river, knocked completely unconscious. He laid crumpled in a ball, the flames still dancing around his fur. Using my hands, I splashed the river water on him. I looked at his forelegs, impossibly twisted. Well, while he was unconscious, I might as well try to straighten him out, before the rapid healing process began. I laid him on his side and gently pulled his legs straight.

I phased into wolf form. We’ve got problems.

Del was sitting up on the east hill above the house, watching the inferno. Looks like it’s going great to me. Did you see those fireballs? Cool or what?

You idiot! This is not what it appears. We’re in the middle of a freaking vampire war. Pull back! Pull back now. I’ll meet you all at the rendezvous point in 30 minutes.

I felt the pack’s confusion and distress as I phased back to my human self. I had some huge problems on my hands, not the least being what I was going to do about Jacob. I looked at him crumpled at my feet. I couldn’t just leave him here.

I cursed Jacob in my mind. If he hadn’t been so cozy with the Cullens, this wouldn’t have happened. When was he going to face the truth about our species? I ran through the options in my mind, but I came up with nothing. I heard some faint sounds from the south.

Back into wolf form. Jimmy, Evan, report!

Sirens. Fire trucks on their way.

Jacob Black is here. He’s been wounded. I need to get him to help.

That leechlover? Solomon’s voice rang disparagingly in my head. Leave him where he is, I say.

Goddamn you, Solomon. He’s a Quileute!

I felt Solomon wince at my vehemence. Uncharacteristically, Evan spoke up in Solomon’s defense. Not the way I see it. He’s a traitor. He’s been kissing Cullen ass so long his nose is brown.

So, you’d leave him here to die? He’s a second or third cousin to almost all of us. This is how you treat a member of your family?

Solomon’s thoughts got sullen. He’s been asking for it.

I surveyed quickly the minds of the rest of the pack. The tenor of all their thoughts ran along those lines. I was deeply disappointed in their attitudes and they all saw it, with varying degrees of shame. Loyalty to the tribe was paramount in my book. Had I misjudged the depth of their resentment toward the Cullens? Was it just the Cullens or was it resentment toward Jacob?

My thoughts were cut short as I caught whiff of a familiar scent. That was Renesmee’s scent, not as bad as her parents, but still with an acrid tang. She obviously thought she was being cautious as she picked her way up the rocky beach, but her scent gave her away immediately. I couldn’t believe how tall she had gotten. The kid couldn’t be older than what six, seven years? She was as tall as I was.

She was Jacob’s imprint. Good, problem solved. She could take care of Jacob. She could call that grandfather doctor of hers. I phased back into human and hissed her name.

She was dazed and confused, obviously. I told her to get Jacob to Carlisle as soon as she could and turned to go. She called out to me as I turned. “Leah, what are you doing here?”

Obviously, not what I had thought. “I’m beginning to wonder about that myself. This was never about you or your family. I am sorry you all were here, we didn’t plan it this way.”

“Plan what? Leah, where have you been? Everyone’s been worried—“

“Listen, Renesmee, this battle has been going on for centuries. We’ve been sparing your family, but lines are being drawn. Tell Jacob the day is coming when he’s going to have to make a choice.” That was as much as I could give her.

I ran back to our rendezvous point and dressed quickly before the rest of the pack showed up. They gradually straggled out of the woods, buttoning up and tucking in their shirts. Solomon and Evan wouldn’t meet my eyes. I attributed it to the guilt over their shameful treatment of Jacob Black. You just don’t do that to a fellow Quileute.

I had them drop me off at the airport and told them to drive back to San Francisco. I was going the fast way; I needed to get back there fast. I needed to have a conversation with Colonel Freed that wouldn’t wait.

I flashed my Special Forces papers and commandeered a helicopter out of Fairbanks. I was back in San Francisco by morning. With each hour that had passed, I found the burning pit in my stomach getting hotter and hotter. I strode down the hallways of Halcyon, allowing myself to feel the anger more with each step that brought me closer to Freed’s office. I burst into the room to find him sitting behind his desk. When I saw his deceitful, devious face, I couldn’t contain the explosion of my anger any longer.

“You cocksucking son of a bitch!” I roared as I slammed my hand on the desk. “What game are you playing?”

“Leah, welcome home,” he said, trying to remain calm. I could smell his fear, though. In fact, as I inhaled again, I caught another scent, an acrid burning smell that only a vampire would leave behind. Of course, fucking perfect.

I grabbed a chair and yelling, slung it through the window, where it shattered the plate glass into a million pieces. I turned to him and placed my hands on his desk and leaned into his face. I’d gotten past the white hot anger, now it was turning cold. “You want to tell me what the fuck vampires were doing in Alaska, on our side?”

“L-Leah,” he stuttered, “why don’t you have a seat and I’ll explain.” He gestured to the remaining chair on this side of the desk.

“No, I won’t sit down and listen to more of your bullshit. What lies do you have for me today, Colonel?” I looked in his frightened eyes and all I saw was a weak man looking to protect himself. “Special group of soldiers, isn’t that what you told me? They were fucking vamps, Colonel. You’re sending us in with bloodsuckers to kill other bloodsuckers?”

I turned away from him, watching as the bits of shatterproof glass swayed with the sudden breeze. “This has been a lie from the beginning, hasn’t it?”

Freed stood up, but remained cautiously behind his desk. “Come on, Leah, don’t be naïve. You got what you wanted, a good paycheck and a chance to kill vampires. Isn’t that what you were after?”

I hated being played. “Not if it meant helping some other leeches!” I turned to look at him. “What did they promise you? Money?”

He just stood there, hands on his hips.

“Immortality? A chance to be just like them?” I shook my head. “Do you really think that’ll happen? Now who’s being naïve?” A thought struck me. I remembered what Mary in Boston had said. “Caius sent you, didn’t he?”she had snarled. I studied Freed. “It’s Caius.”

I saw him blanch under his tanned face. He looked down at the desk and touched the papers there. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“He’s the one pulling your strings. He’s been here in this office. The stench is sickening.” I turned to the door. “You’re on the wrong side.” I grabbed the doorknob. “Don’t count on Team Lupus anymore. We’ll be resigning immediately.”

“Don’t say ‘we’, Leah.” He lifted his chin. “It seems your pack doesn’t have the same exceptions that you do.”

“What?” I whispered.

“I got off the phone with them an hour ago. They’re fine with it. Solomon’s ready to be Alpha.”

I sucked in my breath through my clenched teeth. I felt like I’d been sucker-punched. Those foolish, reckless idiots. Didn’t they realize they were being conned, by vampires no less? That they’d been sucked into some kind of vampire war, and they were likely on the wrong side?

I gritted my teeth. “We’ll see about that,” I said grimly as I yanked the door open and stormed out.