Chapter 37: Viewer
I woke up in our hotel room again, tucked into bed and in the company of the same four vampires.
"Oh, you're up," said Rosalie when I opened my eyes. "Good morning. Siobhan talked Alice and Jasper into letting you try to de-Chelsea them like you did with your wolf. He's okay, by the way. Choked down some more food late last night, otherwise mostly sleeping. He woke up and was lucid enough to talk for a bit a few hours ago, so Bella told him where you were and that you were safe and so on and he seemed to take it all right."
"That's good," I said. "Are we going to go back to Denali soon?"
"Siobhan didn't say," said Emmett. "We're supposed to call back after you try fixing Alice and Jasper."
"Oh," I said, and I climbed out of bed and walked over to Alice, holding out my hand. She took it, and I tried, just as I had with Jake before. I'm so sorry I seeded you. I was wrong, please don't think what I let her make you think...
Alice didn't visibly react, but Emmett prodded, "So, pseudo-sis, what's your up-to-date opinion on... say... the Volturi's in-house brain-scrambler?"
"Chelsea?" asked Alice, sounding vague, and scrunching up her nose as she placed the description. "She's... well, if she didn't exist I'd probably still be gravel, but I think that's the nicest thing I can think of to say about her unless I went into her value as a go opponent, in which capacity she'd be pretty easy to replace."
"I thought you were a chess girl," remarked Rosalie.
"Only when I have Edward around to play. Anyone else, I have an unfair advantage, playing a game I'm that familiar with. Give me long enough and I wouldn't want to play go with anyone besides Edward, either." She tilted her head. "Are we going to get him out?"
"Do we want Bella to let us live?" asked Rosalie, raising an eyebrow. "Maybe Elspeth could give you a run for your money at chess. You can't see her." Alice shrugged. "Anyway, that seems to have... partially... worked. Jasper?"
I dropped Alice's hand and took Jasper's, repeating the procedure. He was similarly noncommital about the Volturi when Emmett asked. It wasn't clear to me that this was an actual improvement - they hadn't gone back to Volterra when called, after all, so Chelsea had clearly been wearing off some anyway - but Rosalie dialed Siobhan's number and reported a "success, not a resounding success, but a success".
I took out my own phone to join in the call without having to piggyback on Rosalie's. "What's next?" I asked Siobhan. "Did I miss anything while I was asleep?"
"Just generic catchup and speculation. You're the only one with all of the memories besides me; you're useful to bounce things off of, and I wanted to know how much effect we can expect from you deprogramming people besides Jacob before committing to a next action. Everything has been fairly quiet, and with Demetri dead and the Volturi not knowing it, we can afford to bide a little time. As to what's next: next, I try adding various subtitles to the piece of paper Alice may show Marcus, to narrow down his possible reactions so we can make a more precise -"
"Ah!" cried Alice.
"What?" Jasper asked. "What is it?"
"Marcus..." she breathed. "He's..."
"What?" asked Siobhan.
"Show me," I suggested, and braced myself for the vertigo.
Marcus was -
A pile of wreckage in the dungeon -
"Why?" I exclaimed.
"Why what? What's going on?" demanded Siobhan.
"Marcus is in the dungeon in bits, next to my father and David," I said. "Why?"
"I don't know!" snapped Alice. "I see the future, not the past!" Everyone else began to mutter in low voices, some over the phone, some in the hotel room, but I focused on Alice and Siobhan's voices. "And in the future as far as I can see, he's a pile of rocks like the other two!"
"Wait..." Like my father. Like my father, whose uncontrollability hadn't made keeping Addy around a priority because simply by touching him Aro could - "Alice, look at Aro - show me -"
Aro was standing in his throne room, sighing sadly, patting Chelsea's hand - he's speaking to Caius - sideways he confers with Renata, gravely, he will thank Santiago for something - sideways he collects the entire guard, delivers a speech - he's dictating an explanation for Corin to deliver to the wolves - he's placing an apologetic kiss on Chelsea's forehead, looking fatherly - sideways, he shifts to stand, and his hood falls away from his head, and -
And he is wearing, around his neck, a choker made of wire which presses against his throat -
A single, whole, filmy red eye.
"Oh my word," whispered Alice. "As long as they leave his eye intact, can it -?"
"It must," I murmured. "Normal vision no - normal vision the eye needs to be physically connected to the brain - but Marcus can see relationships with his eyes closed, why not with his eyes detached...? And if that hadn't worked they could accomplish the same thing by just taking his head off entire, he wouldn't be much danger that way either."
"Ew," said Rosalie. "Also, that is bad, bad news."
"If that works and Aro was willing to try it, why didn't he do it a week ago, after the compound was first blasted?" Siobhan demanded. "Why wait?"
"He was away at the time, or Caius wouldn't have ordered Addy executed. He wouldn't have come back until the day after or the day after that..." I said.
"That's still about a week ago," said Siobhan. "This is a weighty decision, but it's a straightforward one. Marcus had a certain risk of learning about Didyme's death on any given day and a certainty of learning it eventually; and there was a relatively fixed risk of any cover story associated with neutralizing Marcus getting that information out early. Chelsea in particular is the one he needs to be concerned with. Alice said her visions indicated a tendency for Chelsea to panic and try to run away if she learned of it. Now, Chelsea wasn't in the compound at the time. She was in Nicaragua with Aro. But Afton was in the blast and she'll believe anything he tells her, so she could still find out in a way that she'd have to take seriously if he stumbles across the memory or if she has him confirm someone else's statement. Or a shared vision. And then she could panic and try to run away."
"Right," I murmured. "Chelsea is... I guess you could call it "addicted"... to being loved... and without her mate she would basically be unable to function. She might get hit even worse than Marcus did, I'm not sure. To the point where I don't think Aro would dare hurt Afton, actually, since Chelsea is essential to the operation, but that wouldn't stop her from freaking out."
"I think we may have to revise our opinions of what Aro would and would not dare," growled Jasper.
"He can't use Chelsea's power by proxy," I said. Jasper shot Alice a nervous look. "Or Alice's, really," I added reassuringly. "Her power would be so much less useful with the steering under her own control -"
"I'd buy that it took Aro twelve hours to come to a decision and act. Not a week," said Siobhan. "And last night, Alice saw Marcus standing in his room, reacting to the shared vision she'd planned to give him like it was news. She never actually sent it."
"Maybe Aro didn't exactly come to a decision. Marcus - or someone else who would have told Marcus - could have just come across the information overnight by chance," said Alice, "and then Marcus could have gone nuts and gotten himself dismantled for his trouble, and now he's an eye in a necklace and scree in a dungeon."
"Maybe," muttered Siobhan, "but then whoever told him would certainly have been found out by now, and I have some doubt that Marcus could have been incapacitated before managing to shout something suggestive. Alice, check the others in the guard...?"
Alice closed her eyes, and after a minute, she said, "All present and accounted for and physically contiguous except me and Jazz, Marcus, and Demetri."
"And Addy," I said.
"And Addy," Siobhan muttered. "Addy sent Jasper and Alice away... Alice? Can you see her?"
"No," Alice said, "and I couldn't see her when she called me, either. She's probably with a half-vampire or a wolf."
"Does it have to be a half-vampire?" I asked suddenly. "Noemi has a quarter-human son, can you see him?"
Alice shook her head, slowly. "No..."
Siobhan muttered something unimportant, then said, "Alice, you and Jasper checked the wolf village - did you take attendance, or ask if everyone was there?" Jasper shook his head, muttering a negative.
"Even if they had," I said, "that wouldn't necessarily have done the trick; people are often away from the village on errands for more than just a day or two and that's nothing unusual, I wouldn't expect anybody to mention it as a worrisome thing. The day the blast hit, Shawn was in Venice, just him and Lise and Sarah while Camellia stayed home with her toddlers... And Nina and Olivia would have made their grocery run later that day. And Addy would know all that as well as I would."
"So there was an opportunity for Addy to kidnap or entice away a wolf," summarized Siobhan, "which Alice can't check up on directly, or Addy could have the company of Noemi, Iseul, Noemi's son, or... some other hybrid. But still... why would Addy have notified Marcus? Or, for that matter, arranged for Alice and Jasper to desert?" Jasper didn't seem to like the word "desert", probably an artifact of his military background (I wondered if he was technically an actual deserter, not having returned to duty after being turned into a vampire...) but he didn't protest out loud.
"Is she trying to be helpful?" asked Rosalie. "It's certainly a strange way to demonstrate it, but the effects..."
"The effects include the fact that any chance we had of directing Marcus's reaction to finding out about Didyme are gone," Siobhan pointed out. "That could be accidental, since however it happened it didn't involve Alice, but I'm not going to count Addy as an ally just yet."
"Fair enough," said Rosalie. "What is she trying to do? If she's got your power, shouldn't we assume that she's succeeding at it?"
"Or at least making progress," acknowledged Siobhan. "She could be trying to render herself necessary to the Volturi again, and it's only a matter of her bad luck that Marcus turns out to be... usable... without his acquiescence or hers."
"We're relying on someone with Siobhan's power having bad luck?" asked Jasper dryly.
"My power is not good luck," snapped Siobhan, "it's good planning if it's anything. If Addy did communicate with Marcus somehow, then we shouldn't assume on that basis that everything turned out exactly the way she wanted it by chance - we should assume that she has adequate contingency plans to recover from any misfortune this result represents. If she was involved at all, which we do not know, since nearly forty people were blasted with those memories including Marcus himself. Marcus could have found the information without help, reacted in one of several ways that caused him to be disassembled without leaving anyone else knowing too much for their own good, and become a prisoner that way. He could have been informed by one of the guard, who Aro forgave for some reason. Or Aro could have preemptively attacked on the understanding that Marcus would eventually find out, although that leaves us with the puzzle of why Aro would have waited for a week."
"Addy might have gotten rid of your power by now," I pointed out.
"I doubt it," said Siobhan. "It's possible, but seems unlikely to me. I tend not to stick with single plans start to finish - I revise on the fly to react to new information. If she could "taste" that, then she'd hang onto the power until she was done accomplishing whatever it is she wants to accomplish. She's fairly good at not changing powers by accident."
"Her plan could require her to change powers," suggested Emmett.
"That would be a very drastic thing to try," Siobhan said, "since she doesn't have any good way of getting at me to replace the planning power if she needs it again. She might do it anyway, but it'd probably be when she was confident in being near the end of her plan or after putting in motion some series of events that would let her have access to me again. I don't know what she's aiming at, but I doubt the current state of the world is it, so my guess is that she's still holding onto my power."
"Do you suppose," Rosalie said, backtracking to the prior topic, "that whatever Aro did to get the rest of the guard to accept Marcus being deposed just took a week to lay groundwork for?"
There was a silence, and then Siobhan said, "Plausible. Without knowing the official story, it's hard to guess how hard it would have been to swallow, but plausible. Marcus was one of the three kings for more than one millennium and it wouldn't be trivial to undo his status all in one go even if everyone understands that Aro is really in charge."
"So," I said, "what's next?"
"Alice," said Siobhan, "have a look, please, at what Chelsea would do if you just shared the vision of my piece of paper with her."
"Show me," I added, even though I was growing to hate the experience of watching a shared vision, because I wanted to be able to relay everything to Siobhan later in case she was able to pick up some detail from the full vision that a verbal description would leave out. Alice closed her eyes again...
Chelsea will watch, and tip her head to the side ever so slowly, and her smile will falter and disappear, she's drawing her limbs in towards herself like she's cold, she whirls round and goes to (blankness)
"Afton's in the village, or something, I can't see past that because she'll only react so much without him," Alice reported.
"Try again in half an hour," Siobhan said. "I want you all in the car on your way to the Nashville airport now that Elspeth is awake, though."
I started collecting the clothes I'd brought into my suitcase, and Alice said, "But Genevieve..."
"Call her and make something up about why you've got to go, once you think she'll be awake," said Siobhan. "You weren't telling her the truth to begin with, why start now? You can come back and tell her anything you like after this is all over."
There was a silence, and Alice said "Fine," and then the conversation turned to trivialities such as how Alice and Jasper would get on the plane (they had ID forged on their behalf in Italy, but the Volturi were aware of it and would be able to notice where they were going) and where we were going (Denali, but only because Jake couldn't be moved; as soon as he was well enough to travel, and, ideally, the local purveyors of forged documents had filled rush orders for all the undocumented vampires, we would fly out to Heathrow and join the British contingent).
"Wait," said Alice, while we were halfway out the door of the hotel room. Siobhan was still on the phone. "The Volturi can track our ID, like you said. They might wait until they're sure Demetri isn't coming back, but even if they do, this whole mess might take longer than that. And we didn't fly into Nashville. We flew into Gulfport-Biloxi International."
"And?" said Siobhan. "Are you worried someone from Volterra is going to put the pieces together and harm your niece? You didn't tell her anything."
"But she is the only person on the planet I still care about besides Jasper," said Alice. "They could turn her into a hostage."
Siobhan sighed. "Go ahead and extract her," she said, "and bring her with you, but I don't think you had better bring her to Denali proper, not if you're going to leave her human. Put her up in a hotel in Fairbanks. I should probably tell Bella to bring in her parents and stepfather and any extended family she has alive, too..."
"I think she'll say no," I predicted, as I and the four vampires arranged ourselves snugly in Rosalie's new car. "The Volturi can't contact her - as far as they know, she's alone with no phone and an e-mail she's not going to check, and it'd be reasonable to bet she's immune to Dwi, so they can't contact her that way. There's no way for a hostage notification to reach her, so there's no reason to take her parents or stepfather or any other humans she cares about."
"I'll tell her regardless," said Siobhan, "but duly noted. Alice, give me your niece's full name and we can go ahead and add her to your flight. You have enough leeway that as long as you get her to go with you in under an hour you won't miss it." Alice recited the name, and we drove to the little white house.
"My goodness," said Genevieve when we rang her doorbell. "Another unexpected visit! Come in, why don't you."
"I'm sorry to bother you so early, Genevieve, but it's important and might be urgent," said Alice, going inside as the rest of us trailed after her. "Elspeth, if you'd do the honors - one of those convenient summaries?"
"I'm not sure how it works on humans," I said warningly. "It might be better if I just said it in words..."
"I beg your pardon?" said Genevieve. "Humans?"
I puzzled for a second over how to start, and then simply said, "Genevieve, me and Alice and Jasper and Rosalie and Emmett aren't humans. They're vampires and I'm a half-vampire. But we aren't here to hurt you - we're here because you're Alice's niece. She's your mother's older sister -"
"But she's so young!" exclaimed Genevieve.
"Vampires don't age," I said. "Alice was nineteen when she changed and still looks it even though it was ninety-one years ago."
"Vampires are only a story..." said Genevieve weakly.
"I know it's a lot to take in, and I'm sorry to have to spring it on you so abruptly," I said, "but because you are Alice's niece, and the vampire world is gearing up to be at war, it's not safe for you to simply stay here. Someone might hurt you to get to her. We need to take you with us to Alaska."
"I can't go to Alaska!" exclaimed Genevieve. "What about Snowflake? What about the crocheting workshop I said I'd teach? Or the -"
"We will pay to kennel Snowflake if you have nowhere else to put him, for as long as necessary," put in Alice. "Everything else has to be second to your safety. The people we are dealing with are not going to leave you alone just because you didn't do anything."
"I have a dentist appointment a week from this coming Friday..." Genevieve said.
"And with any luck you will be home in time to keep that appointment, but you need to come with us to Alaska first," I said. "You can tell everyone you've just decided to take a vacation, can't you?"
"But I can't go to Alaska... And you can't be vampires, vampires aren't real." She didn't sound frightened or anxious, which was probably Jasper's doing, but she did seem quite adamant on those points.
"You must, and we are," I said.
"But I - I can't."
"At what point," whispered Jasper, pitched above Genevieve's hearing and sped up too fast for her to parse even if she'd heard the words, "do we just pick her up and leave with her whether she likes it or not?"
"I don't think we can do that," trilled Alice back. "Hard to get an unwilling woman onto an airplane without threatening her, and I don't want to do that..."
"If we can't convince her..." replied Jasper.
"If we can't convince her she'll just have to stay here," said Alice tightly. "I'm not going to drag my niece unwilling onto a plane to Alaska."
"Genevieve, please," I said, hoping to render that argument moot. "We aren't lying to you. You are in real danger because you're related to Alice, and we want to help. Is there any way we can prove to you that it's true?"
"What about the rest of my family?" Genevieve asked. "Hattie and her -"
"I don't think they'll be hurt," I said. "They're more distantly related, or not related to Alice at all if they're on your father's side of the family. And we're in a hurry and can't stop to explain all of this to more people. Please, Genevieve, how can we convince you to come with us?"
It took a lot more repetition and pleading, an impromptu demonstration of Emmett's superhuman abilities in the form of plate-juggling, and an exacting comparison of Alice's face with the one surviving photograph of human Alice that Genevieve had, but eventually we coaxed her into the car with us. (Alice sat on Jasper's lap to make room.) Genevieve called her cousin Hattie about Snowflake the dog and then packed a bag with our help. I spent the rest of the car trip to Nashville gently explaining to her the same basic concepts over and over. It was surprisingly difficult to make it sink in - she didn't think I was lying, but once advanced the opinion that I was "a very imaginative girl" and suggested that I'd perhaps "read this in a book somewhere and then forgot where you heard it".
Alice and Jasper parted ways with the rest of us when we got to the airport, so they could sneak on while we rode conventionally. Rosalie took a detour to give away her car. She looked regretful when she rejoined the group. Genevieve slept through much of the flight, while I amused myself with browsing my stored memories and chatting about nothing in particular with Emmett and Rosalie. During the second leg of the flight I fell asleep, too, only to be awakened at our destination.
After the dreary trip, and a reunion with the illicit passengers, we set up Genevieve in a hotel in Fairbanks under the assumed name "Jean Baker". Alice wanted to leave someone to guard her, but Genevieve insisted that she would be fine without a "nursemaid", and that as long as someone would come and tell her when it was all right to go home again, she could simply enjoy a vacation in Fairbanks on her own.
"Not going to turn her?" Emmett asked Alice on the way back to Denali.
"She's not dying," said Alice. "She's only old."
"Bella wasn't dying either," Emmett pointed out.
"I know that," Alice replied. "But no, I'm not planning to turn her. I don't think she'd like the idea, considering, do you?"
"No," admitted Emmett.
I split off from the vampires part of the way to Denali - they were going to the houses, and I was going to see Jake up in the mountains. He was asleep when I arrived and didn't stir when I sat nearby. I was mildly surprised to find my mother still hanging around nearby, since there was no longer a reason to keep the Denali houses visibly innocent of features that would attract Volturi notice, but I supposed she was just keeping an eye on Jake, and she said, "Sure, why not," when I suggested this. This seemed like a strange way to phrase the answer, but I decided that whatever was causing her to do so wasn't important.