Truth 2, by James Orland
When Elspeth was 35, she got pregnant. And even though Bella had said that she wouldn't allow Elspeth to give her grandchildren until at least age 45, she didn't much mind, and was in fact really happy.
Ten weeks later, named after Jacob's mother, Sarah Black was born.
Elspeth's pregnancy went well, and she was born the conventional way; she didn't break any of Elspeth's bones, and didn't chew her way out. When they first saw her, they were taken by her. Even though she wasn't as lovely as an immortal child or even a half-vampire newborn, she was still lovelier than a human, and a very cute baby, too. She had her father's eyes and her mother's hair, and her skin didn't glow. That was expected of any one quarter vampire. And when she was born, no one noticed anything peculiar about her. She didn't seem to have any specific powers like her mother's, that showed very early. Her parents reasoned that either she would develop one later or she would never have one.
At age 6 months, Sarah said her first words, while she played with Elspeth's long head of hair: "Mommy, your hair's pretty!" And it was true. Truer than anything Elspeth could ever think of saying. The very idea that Sarah might be wrong or that what she said could be somewhat inaccurate or biased was tossed away immediately as insane. Nonsense.
Jacob was right there, and he grinned at his daughter. "It is," he agreed simply. He knew Elspeth's hair was pretty, but this was more than knowledge, it was a pressing certainty that felt like it would never leave him.
The next thing she said, after playing for five minutes with mommy's undoubtedly pretty hair, was "Chocolate is good," which prompted Jacob to go immediately to the kitchen and fetch some chocolate for her. Indeed it was one of the human foods she loved, but the fact that chocolate was good was much bigger than that. Elspeth furrowed her brows when Sarah said that and went herself to the kitchen, still holding her daughter, to grab a piece. She'd never thought of chocolate as particularly tasty, just barely passable as human food went; but with such certainty, there was no way that could be right.
And she bit down, and it still didn't have a good taste. Then, Elspeth herself must be wrong, because otherwise chocolate would be good. And that prompted immediate itching from her magic. Elspeth waited until she didn't have her arms busy anymore to touch her face with both hands, which brought an amused expression from Jacob. He hadn't seen her do that in over ten years. She saw Magic and Memory, and both looked very confused.
"What?" Elspeth asked. She didn't want to waste time with that, when she could be wasting time with Sarah, but she had learned not to ignore that itching.
"Something is not right..." Magic started.
"I remember the taste of chocolate and it's not good, not for us," Memory interjected.
"But it should be good. And it's not. And our body can't lie to us. So chocolate isn't good. So that's not true."
"Brilliant," Elspeth said, rolling her eyes.
"We know that chocolate isn't good through experience. And yet, it should be good." Magic continued, and went quiet for a beat. "How?"
"How do we know chocolate is good?"
"Well, of course it's good, because..." She was stumped. Memory offered, helpfully, the image of Sarah saying that chocolate was good. Then it dawned on Elspeth, who stopped touching her cheeks and smiled at Jacob, who was still looking at her and waiting curiously.
"I think our daughter is special," she said triumphantly.
"Well, we know that," Jacob said.
"No, I mean..." She sent a thought to him in her special way: Like this.
"Oh..." Jacob said, and looked at the baby on his arms.
"I'm special!" she giggled, and both felt it was true, but they also knew it.
"Wait. What does she do, then?"
Elspeth thought. "Her power looks like mine... except more powerful. We should ask Addy."
"Chocolate is goooood," Sarah giggled again, and Jake smiled and brought her more, while Elspeth had to magically dismiss the notion that chocolate was good in her head, with furrowed brows.
"Fascinating," Addy said, after touching Sarah. And it was obvious then that Sarah's power was indeed fascinating. Or... hang on...
"So?" Bella asked, expectantly. She had proven immune to whatever power Sarah had, and when they tired to speculate, she stopped to think for half a second and then decided to first see what Addy had to say about Elspeth.
Addy's eyes shone like she had just been given a new toy. "She has a power that's... in many ways... the exact opposite of Gwen's..."
And that was obviously true. "Who's Gwen?" Jacob asked.
"You may know her as the Cardiff Bint, that's how Maggie used to call her," Bella explained quietly. Then she asked Addy, "So, Sarah's power is to tell the truth?"
Elspeth looked curiously at her daughter, who looked confused but happy. "To tell her truth. While wearing her power I'm not even able to lie. If I tried to state that my name is Mary, it just wouldn't come out."
"You just said it," Bella pointed out, even though everyone else instantly believed Addy's words. Everyone else, here, consisted of Elspeth, Jacob, Sarah herself, Edward, Renata (who was paying more attention than usual), Alice and Jasper.
"I was being hypothetical. I had to say 'if' and 'tried' and 'wouldn't', because otherwise it would be just unpronounceable."
"Okay..." Bella said, thinking about it. "Is that it?"
"Not quite," Addy continued. "Her truths are stronger than even Elspeth's. People can still have different opinions from Elspeth's, while the instant Sarah says something, everyone else just can't help but believe it."
Sarah was looking at everyone curiously. Alice smiled in her direction. She'd learned how not to try to pry at any Hybrid's future anymore, to avoid the headaches, and now she could be around Elspeth and Jacob and Sarah with no problems. "What does it taste like?" Elspeth asked.
"Tutti-frutti bubblegum," she replied brightly. Then Addy, and Elspeth too, because she had many of Addy's memories and abilities inside her mind, started thinking about everything that power could mean.
"Jasper," Addy said as soon as Elspeth said, "No!"
"What?" Jasper looked confused.
"She's my daughter! You're not experimenting on her!" Edward didn't say anything. Why didn't Edward say anything?
"No, of course not. He can experiment on me."
"What?" Bella asked, curious now.
"You see, apparently now my truth is absolute. So I was wondering... how much I can extend that. Jasper, could you please try affecting my mood?" Sarah had decided she didn't want to participate in the conversation anymore and she was just giggling while Alice pulled faces at her. Of course, she was a vampire, so she could pay attention to the conversation while entertaining Sarah.
Jasper nodded quietly, and then furrowed his brows. He seemed to be concentrating, and Addy was still smiling cheerfully. "I can't," he finally said.
"What? Why?" Bella asked.
"My truth is absolute. What I am feeling is true, and nothing but myself can change it." Addy looked at Jasper for confirmation, and got a nod in response.
"It's like... I don't want to change it, or my power doesn't... like any mood but hers is incorrect." He actually looked like he was trying to concentrate on something, and Elspeth felt the notion that Sarah's power was really delicious...
And then Elspeth and Addy both turned to Edward at the same time. He raised both eyebrows, and seemed thoughtful. "Yes, apparently her thoughts feel true, too," he said to both vampire and half-vampire. The feeling of deliciousness disappeared as soon as Jasper seemed to get a grip on himself.
"Mine don't?" Elspeth asked.
"Yes, but... not the same way." He couldn't seem to find the words to explain it, so Elspeth gave it a shot.
"What I think feels true because I believe it, but what she thinks feels absolutely true, like there's no bigger truth than that, and anything else must be false."
"...Yes," Edward finally breathed after three seconds thinking about it.
"Chocolate is gooooood," Sarah repeated, because every time she did that a grownup seemed to go get some for her. Her parents no longer fell for that, even though Jake himself was starting to develop an unusual taste for the thing; but as soon as she heard it, Alice bolted away, probably to fetch some, while Bella asked, "So she does like human food..." All the other vampires looked confused, because it didn't make sense in their heads that chocolate could not be good, even though they all knew it wasn't.
Elspeth had an idea. She sent all of them a little blast of 'truth' so that they would know what was real for them and what was real for Sarah. They instantly looked better, and Alice showed up then, with chocolate, and gave it to the baby. Elspeth sent another truth blast towards Alice, which left the little vampire looking a bit confused.
"Can you turn it off?" Elspeth asked Addy.
The vampire thought about that for a moment. "Not at the moment. And I don't think she will ever be able to stop telling the truth, but she may be able to one day tone it down so that other people don't feel compelled to believe her." Addy had to stress the word 'may' because it was a remote possibility, and Sarah's power wouldn't let her lie even by omission. She thought a little bit more about it, and then said, "I think that maybe we have a new Pyotr here."
"What? How?" Bella asked, but Edward seemed to agree with her - in fact, everyone seemed to agree with her. That it was possible if nothing else.
"Well... it will probably not be as strong as Pyotr, because he had to be obeyed, when it worked, but maybe if she says it would be a very good idea to do something, it might be just enough to convince everyone to do whatever she wants them to do."
Of course Sarah wasn't thinking anything like that, and was just chewing on her chocolate cheerfully while she looked at the faces around. "...That doesn't sound very good," Elspeth said.
"Well, of course it would be limited by her nature," Addy continued. It looked like the power just forced her to spill the beans when she thought of some noteworthy aspect of the power. "She'd have to truly believe that it would be a good idea for someone to do a specific something, otherwise she wouldn't be able to even say it." Then she looked annoyed and decided she was tired of having to tell the truth all the time, and touched Edward instead. "It would be lovely if..."
"That's enough, Addy. I think we understand it," Elspeth said, and then sent a new wave of truth to everyone, so that they'd return to having their own opinions. Then she turned to Bella and asked, "So, why do you think you are immune to her? She's not a threat," Elspeth said.
"Hmm... Well, technically, she is. She's a threat to my beliefs and to what I think, since she would force me to believe whatever she believes, and I think my shield interprets that as bad." She didn't have to tell anyone that she agreed with the shield there.
Elspeth and Addy nodded, confirming their suspicions. Then Sarah yawned hugely and said, "Sleepy..." Apparently she didn't need to be very articulate with her truths. They all said their goodbyes, and then Alice said something about a vampire stalking a human in England, and Razi showed up. But that wasn't Elspeth's job, and they just left.
"Are you sure you can't push it?" Addy said. Apparently by borrowing Sarah's power, she became immune to it herself, because her truth was as absolute as Sarah's.
Sarah huffed impatiently. She'd been trying for over a month to use her power without words, like Elspeth's blasts, with absolutely no success. "Yes, I'm sure!"
Addy sighed. Sarah's power didn't taste like much potential, but it could be stretched pretty far. They'd been practicing for a year, all with Edward's supervision of course, to find out all that could be done.
They discovered that, yes, it was possible to compel people with her power, but it was limited. The mate or the imprint bond couldn't be overridden by anything, because even though it felt like there was nothing truer than what Sarah said, there really was nothing truer than the mate or the imprint bond. It was also impossible to convince someone to do something that goes against one's principles or one's mate's/imprint's principles. So, even if Sarah swore on her life that it would be a great idea to eat someone, Edward wouldn't be swayed by that because of how Bella would feel about it.
The power was also instantaneous. It worked at the moment Sarah said anything, but it could be reversed later. Elspeth herself had an easier time doing this because of her power, but anyone willing to challenge the notions implied by the power would be able to do so, after a while. But it was impossible, without Bella's shield, to prevent the power from having its effect.
Addy blinked twice and said quickly, before it became irrelevant, "Sarah, have you ever met Allirea?" How lucky, to have the little hybrid unfaded at that moment. Quite... convenient.
"Good," she said, and thought very hard, hoping that Edward would catch it. She closed her eyes tight to do that, and Sarah looked at her, curious. Then she relaxed and said, "Well, if you can't do blasts... I think we should try distorting the truth a little bit more."
Sarah sighed and hit her head against the table between them. "But that's hard!" It really was. Sarah's power didn't cooperate at all when she tried that. Unlike Elspeth's, Sarah's could detect out-of-context truths and omission lies, and it didn't like that one bit. But there was a trick to it. If Sarah could think of a more important truth that made those omissions and out-of-context truths necessary, it would (grudgingly) help. It would never ever outright lie, that was against its very design.
"I know it's hard, of course it's hard, that's why we have to practice! You've already learned how not to say everything that comes to your mind, now..." And then, she stopped talking, and there was a knock on the door behind her, which opened and let Bella, Edward, Elspeth and an unfaded Allirea in. Addy turned immediately and said as quick as possible, "Please don't fade." Allirea just looked up at Bella, who nodded. Elspeth looked at Addy. "Edward told my mom you wanted Allirea to help with Sarah's power?"
"Yes. I want to see if her truths work while she's faded."
Bella blinked, and asked, "Why would they?"
Addy shrugged. "Just a test."
Sarah, who was absolutely clueless, said, "Wait, wait, wait. What?" Elspeth answered sending a mental summary explaining Allirea's powers with useful examples. "Oh," Sarah said, and looked at Addy. "I don't think that'd work."
"Won't hurt to try, will it?" Sarah looked at Allirea and shrugged, standing up from the chair she was sitting on and walking towards the half-vampire. She thought to ask what would happen when Allirea faded her but realized she already knew the answer. Everyone was looking at her, and then suddenly Edward and Elspeth looked confused about why they were there.
"I can see you!" Sarah said, surprised. The only method she could think of (with Elspeth's summary) to see Allirea while being faded by her was by being shielded by Bella. Bella raised both eyebrows, and Allirea immediately shrieked, letting go of Sarah. "Now there's two!"
Addy was grinning, while Edward, Elspeth and Bella looked puzzled (though for different reasons). "Well, not quite what I had expected, but still quite interesting."
"What is?" Elspeth asked, and Addy kept grinning.
Bella shot Allirea a stern look, but Sarah didn't know what it was all about. "We were just seeing the results of our experiment with Allirea," she said. And then Elspeth and Edward looked at the little half-vampire, and she shrieked even more. Addy's grin couldn't be bigger if she tried. "Bella, are you by any chance shielding us?"
"Allirea, are you by any chance unfaded?"
She cringed at the mention of her name and shook her head, and Addy laughed. "Why, it looks like we just found us a way to cancel Allirea's power."
Elspeth looked at Addy with wide eyes, and Bella looked very impressed. "No!" Allirea cried. "That wasn't part of the deal! Make them stop!"
"Wait, what happened?" Sarah asked, still very confused, while Bella answered, "We will, but could you please stay unfaded so that... this... newfound... ability can't be used against you?"
"...Fine," she said, and everyone looked at Addy, except for Elspeth, who was looking at her daughter.
She cleared her throat just for effect, and said, "Sarah's power deals with her own truth. And nothing but herself can change that truth, as we've first seen a few years ago with Jasper and tested so many times. So, when she first saw Allirea, it was true that she was there. And even if Allirea didn't seem important anymore to anyone, it was still true that she was there, and the importance of that truth couldn't be ignored. And when Sarah talked about Allirea's presence, it was clear that she was here, because it's true.
"Also, apparently she can't use her power while faded on anyone but Allirea because no one's paying attention to what she's saying, and just the memory of her doing it doesn't seem to quite cut it."
Allirea scowled, and tried fading again, to no success. Everyone knew without a doubt that she was truly there. Then she unfaded again and said, "Well, how do you fix it?"
"That will probably be me," Elspeth said, sending a blast of truth at everyone, like she usually did when Sarah stated too many things. She considered keeping Sarah's truth for herself so she would always be able to see Allirea, but her Magic itched that it wasn't true in the right way, it was a forced, foreign truth, and so she sighed mentally and erased Sarah's influence from her own head. "Done."
"I have one last test, before you fade again," Addy said, and she touched Elspeth once, because she was closer, and said, "There. Fade again." Allirea did, and was satisfied to find that only Sarah and Bella seemed to notice her anymore, and then she unfaded, while Addy nodded. "Apparently my truth doesn't become sacred anymore while I don't have Sarah's power, so I can't see you - or notice you."
"Are we about done?" Allirea asked, strained because of all the attention she was getting all of a sudden.
"Yes," Addy answered. "I think we've had enough for today. Tomorrow, same time, Sarah?"
Sarah nodded, and Allirea faded, which made everyone forget her existence. "Well, what a disappointing day. I hope tomorrow we meet more success," she said, and trotted off.
The others left at a leisurely pace. Forks had ended up being their main base, now that she had enough staff to keep every capital open all year long. While they walked, Bella thought of something. "Allirea... would you want your children and grandchildren to know you existed all the time?"
That question seemed to leave the little half-vampire stumped. Yes, it was true that she didn't like being noticed. But she also loved her children, and wanted them to remember they had a mother. "...Yes," she said, after half a minute thinking. Edward and Elspeth were ignoring Bella, assuming she was talking about unimportant topics with Sarah. Bella looked at her grandchild.
"Could you lend Addy your power so that she could tell Allirea's family about her?"
Sarah nodded absentmindedly. Her power did say a lot about her, she was all about the truth. So she was curious, and even though she didn't like much exercising with Addy, she wanted to know more about her own power, and that day felt like she'd just found a new application of the word truth, not any new ways to use her power.
And so, Addy borrowed Elspeth's power, savoring the bubblegum, and brought Allirea to notice to her family.
One year later, Sarah floofed. No one had given that possibility much thought. Well, in fact, they'd given it a lot of thought, but while she was growing up she kept everyone else busy with her fascinating power.
When she first phased, she looked different. Her fur was silver, and glowed in the sun. Her teeth were sharper than a regular wolf's, and her enhanced senses in human form carried over to her wolf form.
Furthermore, no one had given much thought to what would happen once Jake's pack shared a mind with a quarter vampire whose thoughts forced everyone to agree with them. And she also had so much room. Much more than a regular human's mind, even if less than a half-vampire. So, when she first turned, everyone shut up, and the first to talk was a wolf whose name Sarah never memorized, asking, "Whoa, did we just get fifty new wolves activating at the same time?"
"No, I'm Sarah!" the wolf thought. Of course, they didn't use words to talk in wolf form, but that was the general idea. "I'm..."
"My daughter," Jake completed as soon as he phased. Everyone snapped out of the stupor and welcomed her enthusiastically, and the surge of anger in the little quarter vampire was gone. Her power knew it wasn't hers, not really, that rage, so it tried to block it, but she argued, using the higher truth that she needed that fake rage at least once to phase, which got a temporary permission for the fake rage to build up.
But it was gone now, of course. Her power made her even better than Bella herself at sending her emotions away, because all she had to do was realize if they were true to her, and if they were not, they were crushed. The downside was that if they were true, and justified, her power enhanced them more than Elspeth's. If the half-vampire wore her heart on her sleeve, her daughter wore it as her regular outfit.
And suddenly everyone felt that feeling when someone who just imprinted phased, and Seth Clearwater thought: "Sarah."