Twilight Fan Fiction / Twilight Fan Fiction ❯ I Know My Duty ❯ Trap ( Chapter 45 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Twilight and its three and two half sequels are the creation of Stephenie Meyer. This story is fanfiction based on characters, settings and concepts from Twilight, its first three sequels and the first half of Midnight Sun, all of which are the creation of Stephenie Meyer. No party other than the submitting author may alter this work in any way other than font size and other reasonable accommodations to formatting.

Again, if you're reading this on MediaMiner, I will re-upload with italics and formatting as soon as the system permits it.

Whatever you were going to do, go do it. It's okay to be mad. It's okay to not be mad. Don't cancel your birthday party. Terrorist attacks don't just scare people; they disrupt the economy and it doesn't need more disrupting. Everyone in Kansas or Maine or California who hits the movies or takes the kids to the zoo as planned is lessening the economic impact of the day Boston shut down and shouldering the load for the guy from Waltham who can't get out of bed or the spectator who needs a few days to cool down or the runner who won't be back at work until after surgery. You do not need a rock to hide under.


"If she betrays our secrets, are you prepared to destroy her?" –Caius, New Moon


"This is a bad idea, Edward," said Bella, the edges of her dark gray cloak snapping in the air as she came to a stop in front of me.

"My love, don't set a bad example for the novices," I said in a loud whisper. It had been years since she'd moved at inhuman speed by accident.

"Forget that for now," she said insistently. "The masters sent you after Andrew; that was bad enough—" I tried not to wince at her disloyal words. "—but you don't have to volunteer to go out into the field again."

Heidi shot us a look as she walked past with Richard.

It was one thing for Bella had to criticize the masters out loud at all, knowing that Aro would hear it all the next time he read me, but to have a spat in the middle of the reception area where anyone in the guard or on the staff could hear would make us the target of gossip for weeks.

"Bella, we've been over this. Caroly and I will be fine," I said, moving past her down the hall. I'd had to make a stop in Communications to check our gear. "It's just an errand for Master Caius."

"Xi'an was just an errand for Master Caius!" She stepped in front of me, putting one hand on either side of my face. I didn't want to look at her, but I did. I never wanted to think about what the masters might do to Bella when I was away. It wasn't lost on me that Caroly, Rolfe and myself were her best defenders, and that Caius had stood in the feasting hall that morning and ordered all three of us to Marseilles.

"You know, I could ask Master Caius to allow you to come too. Renata can manage Doreen and Ichiro by herself for a few days."

"We both know she can't. That's not the point. I'm not worried about me," she said firmly. I could see her meaning in the shadows behind her eyes. We'd talked of it earlier.

"What if you're being sent into a trap?"

Caroly had brought Demetri to the practice tunnel where I'd been waiting with Bella and Rolfe. It wasn't the best location for a meeting, but aside from the Tower it was probably the least likely place for anyone on the human staff to be. They didn't generally wander the compound, but it wasn't unheard of.

"What do the attacks have in common?" I asked, tracing out a chart in the dust at our feet. "In Xi'an we were after artwork. What about the others?"

"Cairo was a standard mission," said Caroly. "They sent Laurel and Darien to take out some nomads. Chelsea went with them. Frankfurt was reconnaissance, confirming rumors of possible Romanian activity."

"Who knew about it?" I asked.

"Everyone," said Bella with a dispirited shrug. "Caius gives us our orders in public; anyone who wasn't there could have heard it from someone who was. Logistics hears about what cars we want sent where. Communications knows what equipment has to work with which kind of local interference and who's going to need camera disruptors. Accounting gets the bills. Our best bet is to figure out when and how the information was sent; then we might be able to narrow it down to a department, at least."

Rolfe gave her a mock-suspicious look, "You seem to have put a lot of thought into how to send intel without being noticed, little Bella."

She rolled her eyes. I was less tolerant. "I think we can abandon this line of reasoning," I clipped darkly.

Rolfe rolled his eyes. "Okay fine. But if your mate kills us all when we're not looking and then gets executed, don't come crying to me."

"Your concern for our well-being never fails to touch me, Rolfe," Bella said sourly.

"Completely selfish," Rolfe answered. "You're the only one who laughs at my jokes."

"Have you considered getting better jokes?" she asked.

"Who was sent to Frankfurt?" asked Demetri over his folded arms.

"Alec, Corin, Richard and Marjane," answered Caroly.

Three different missions; three different continents; three different leaders. Our enemies were coordinating attacks across immense distances. There was no way they could do it without advanced knowledge of where everyone would be. Other than that, I hadn't been able to discern any pattern. I'd hoped that Demetri would see something that I didn't, pull the trail out of the invisible tracks, but—

Bella shook her head. "But why these people and not anyone else? We had what, six, seven teams in the field? All of these teams had fighters with supernatural talents," Bella had said, and then, what only she would have dared to breathe out loud: "Aro's favorites."

Demetri was Demetri. The thought came without ego, just an ice-clear knife that cut to the center of things: Aside from Jane and Alec, whom in the guard does Aro love more than us?

Perhaps Chelsea. No one else. Even Heidi was replaceable. The question was whether our enemies would know that. According to the masters' memories, for what remained of the Romanian leadership, this was beyond territory and ascension. Stefan loathed Caius with a rich, personal vigor that Marcus had found quite memorable. In some ways, their relationship was as deep as if they'd shared a coven for years. He was more than motivated enough to learn Aro's moves and attack him where he was weak, and the events surrounding Jane's mysterious illness had shown Aro's limitations to our world. Aro's collection of talented vampires was the coven's strength but his own weakness.

And how did you take down a vampire with superpowers, decades of experience and the best combat training in our world? With overkill. With newborns.

"So they don't only know where Caius is sending us," said Rolfe. "They know who's going."

Back in reception, Heidi and Salome were waiting and eager to overhear anything they could bring to Caius as proof of the yellow-eyed witch's treason, and Bella looked at me with wide, careful eyes.

"Don't go," she whispered.

I closed my eyes. Even the desk clerk pointedly pretending not to notice our conversation knew how dangerous it was to even speak of disobedience. I took Bella's hand away from my face, holding it tightly. "I will do my duty," I said, kissing the ends of her fingers. "And then I will come back."

Sometimes I could forget how many people were involved in every mission. In the field, it was all about one's partners, but the preparation could involve ten times as many people. Demetri went to communications to requisition our earpieces. We were unlikely to encounter any infrared cameras, and the preciously expensive new scrambler equipment was still being carefully rationed. I was in logistics arranging a car to carry us out of Volterra and obtain the latest maglev and freight schedules. Felix was in the art department triple-checking the provenance of a painting in Marseilles that Caius wanted us to have a look at on the way back from our primary goal of tracking down a nomad near Montpelier.

Even after all this time, I didn't look forward to time in a cargo container with Felix, but it wasn't nearly as hard it had been. The years had changed things between Felix and me. I had little respect for the man, but Demetri loved him, and there was no denying that he had his qualities. Caius and Aro had given him guidance. Instead of becoming another brute, putting his fabled strength to no better purpose than feeding himself, he'd protected our kind. Among vampires, he passed for a hero. If Bella was right, and there was a set of hostile newborns waiting for my team in France, we could hardly have a better partner. Outside the compound, Demetri and Caroly were my world. I was glad and grateful that Felix's was with them, especially if Bella was right.

Many of Europe's local train lines had been converted to induced propulsion. Individual passenger cars were fitted with powerful magnets. In lieu of heavy combustion engines, electromagnetic field generators embedded in the tracks switched polarity to propel them forward to the next exchange point. It conserved fuel, but it required precise control to keep the cars from hitting each other. Long-distance freight lines, heavy with cargo containers, had enough scale to make the efficiency of magnetic propulsion less attractive. With this much mass involved, old-fashioned fuel cell and conventional engines were inefficient but far safer. A team like ours could be in Montpelier in a matter of hours. The question was what would be waiting for us when we got there.

That was as far as the new transportation technology could take us, however. On missions like this, we could only go to where we knew our quarry had been, and he most certainly would have moved on by then. Demetri and I would go to work, tracing his movements and sending reports back to Volterra whenever it was reasonably safe to do so.

And that was what really made this spy matter so impressive. If we didn't know where we would be, then the spy wouldn't either. Any information had to reach our enemies before it became useless. If our spy were using data packets, occasional updates, then we could only be attacked near our disembarkation point in Montpelier or near the painting in Marseilles. If the spy had installed a recording system or some other method of reporting to the Romanians in real time, then the attack might take place further afield, where they could choose ground favoring an ambush.

I was still convinced that the informant was a human. It was a shame that neither Bella nor myself had much patience for composing sociological papers. Or any way of publishing. The humans of the compound were probably the most intriguing subculture of the twenty-first century. There had been mortals serving the Volturi for thousands of years, of course, but the current dynamic had taken shape after Caius had started turning three and four humans a year for the novitiate, and it hadn't fully stabilized.

I only knew a little about the previous community. Most of my information came from that one round of interviews I'd done with Felix before Caius had ordered me to turn Gianna, God rest her blackened scrap of a soul. From what little I could tell, humans from each department had had little contact with each other. Whenever Gianna saw a new vampire arrive, she'd immediately wondered if it was someone from legal or accounting, the people she'd only seen in memos. It hadn't occurred to her that no one was ever turned.

It was a good thing, too. The humans on the staff in those days had ranged from backstabbers to full-blown psychopaths. People without shame tended to make good warriors but disloyal teammates. I began to wonder how long Gianna would have lasted in any case.

I could have asked Caroly, of course, but her human memories, never clear, had faded to shadows. Somehow, the fact that she was pure vampire without any mortal past to torment her was a great comfort to me.

After the calm newborn project had begun, though, many of the old rules had been relaxed. Instead of hiding the truth from our employees, we flaunted it. We made sure that novices were occasionally seen by their former coworkers. Then Marcus had decreed that humans in different departments would be allowed to speak to each other on business matters. He'd even started work on a shared cafeteria, carefully soundproofed, where they could interact. They gossiped almost as badly as the guard, but it was hard to say which changes improved productivity more.

The masters had once had only two criteria for selecting staff: professional skill and personal discretion, including a willingness to sever human ties. Now with Caius having a few of the staff turned every year, a third factor had come into play: potential. It wasn't enough to recruit from the anonymous cream of Europe's finest law and financial schools; Aro wanted humans with possible gifts; Caius wanted fighters and trackers; Marcus wanted ... he wasn't very specific about what he wanted, but he cared more about the selection process than he had before.

Bella and I probably knew the more about the human population of the compound than anyone but their handlers. She liked to learn about them as humans in case they became her students, and I was in charge of ...information security. I scouted for Aro the way I'd once scouted for Carlisle. Here, though, it wasn't the vampires who disappeared when I found trouble. That was probably why Aro hadn't bothered to touch each member of the staff; he knew I was already watchful. But I had been looking for carelessness, not spies.

It would have been hard to fool me, but it was possible, especially if the human in question had been briefed by a vampire familiar with my reputation. Anyone who had access to mission information would also know the intervals at which I monitored the human staff. It would have required nearly vampire-level mental discipline, but a properly briefed human could avoid thinking of his treachery unless it was right in front of him.

Demetri checked in at 3:06 a.m. Send the packet...

Or unless the spy thought that the mind reader had gone to France with Caroly, Felix and Demetri.

"Her," I said, tapping the screen in front of me. "Lydia."

"You're sure?" asked Rolfe.

I nodded. On the screen, the human woman tucked something into her pocket and got up from her workstation. She was planning to walk to the water cooler and, if the coast was clear, sneak off and send her report.

Rolfe gave a good-natured snort. "No thanks to little Bella's acting skills," he joked.

"I'd like to see you do better when it's your ass on the line," murmured Bella.

Rolfe raised an eyebrow.

In the middle of all this, I focused on the woman's thoughts, wondering for a moment how a creature who looked so ordinary could have caused so much trouble. Disciplined indeed. I was amazed that she could focus on her work at all—software for the communications equipment—with the apprehension running through her. Underneath the forms and lines of code, I could see her memories of preparing a data packet with everything she'd overheard and pried out, her hands working a homemade transmitter from a secluded part of the compound, and her plans to do it again. I closed my eyes and saw recording equipment placed at key points in the compound. There was a room I didn't recognize. Had she gone to the Tower?

"Are the others going to be attacked?" asked Bella. Her hand moved to the empty pocket where she kept her com whenever she went into the field. I wanted to warn them too. It had been a necessary risk. To lure Lydia out, we'd needed bait. Demetri, Caroly and I had been a worthy prize.

"It's possible," I added. "She knows that her new masters don't always act on the information she sends."

"What now?" asked Bella.

"We have to get her to Aro, as quickly as possible," I said. My master had known about my plan in advance, of course. My master knew everything.

"Simple enough. Go grab her," said Rolfe.

I shook my head. "If she sees me, she'll know something's up."

"I'll bring her up, Edward," said Bella. "She's seen me before. She'll think it's an interview."

"No, I'll go grab her," Rolfe volunteered. It'll be better if the person who drags her in isn't Bella or her mate, he pointed out. That way it's not suspect. No one'll say Bella framed her to get herself off.

I shook my head. "Bella's right. She'll raise the least alarm."

"Okay," said Rolfe, "full disclosure? I need the boon. I want to ask for three weeks away from the guard to go find—" His words broke off as he looked at his shoes. "It's personal, all right?" And I could see a memory of a dark-haired woman in the sweeping dresses that she'd favored.

"Adrienne isn't worth you, Rolfe," Bella said bluntly. "She had her good qualities—" Bella's eyelid twitched, her tell for lying. She was being diplomatic. If Adrienne had good qualities, they did not include courage, love, loyalty or depth, and Rolfe had all four. "—but she was never worth you."

Rolfe eyed Bella sullenly.

I just want to know where she is.

It was beyond sad. The capacity to love someone forever was one of the true blessings about being a vampire. But when it was unrequited... If Rolfe were human, it would have been possible for time to be his friend. As things were, not even Chelsea could help him. His only hope was that some intense experience would come along to change him as dramatically as Adrienne had, and even then it might not purge his longing and give him peace. Until then, he was the object of pity.

"It won't make a difference," I murmured. She'd only laugh at him. Or use him and throw him away.

But what if seeing me again does the trick? You said your old sister didn't feel the change for her mate until after he'd felt it for her.

"A difference of days, Rolfe," I explained. "And Rosalie at least..." I pressed my lips together. "Rosalie actually liked Emmett. She wanted to love him; she half loved him already. She'd have married him even if it had never gone past that. Adrienne was only using you." I put my hand on his shoulder. "If I'd had the slightest idea that your feelings ran this deep, I would have warned you. I am so sorry, my friend."

His eyes were as red as ever, but something in them felt gray.

"Then you owe me," he said simply. "Let me ask. Let me try." And in his thoughts, I could see every minute we'd shared together, every joke that had deflected the coven's anger away from me or Bella, and every time I'd ignored or slighted him, preferring to pour my trust into Demetri or Caroly.

"Not on this," I said quietly. "We're so close. If she gets spooked now, we might lose it all." I would find a way to make it up to him. In the meantime, I turned to Bella. "Take her to the west elevator," I said quietly. I listened carefully for my master's mental voice and found him talking with Alec in the library. Good. "Rolfe and I will have Master Aro waiting on the second floor when the doors open."

Bella nodded tightly and hesitated at the door. Impulsively, I reached out and she hugged me tightly around the neck. If I had a heart, it would be pounding. One touch and Master Aro would know Bella wasn't the spy. One touch and Caius would have his traitor, and this would all be over.

Rolfe started toward the stairwell at a quick human pace. I registered his surprised grunt as I moved past him at top speed. I didn't force myself to be still until I was outside the library doors, but I didn't bother to smooth out my cloak or unmuss my hair. In my mind's eye, I could hear Lydia's alarm as Bella walked toward her with gentle eyes and her mouth fixed in a calm smile.

Rolfe caught up to me as I was dipping to one knee in front of Aro. "Forgive me for intruding, Master, but there is an urgent matter that demands your attention."

Alec looked at me with curiosity, but Aro didn't do more than raise an eyebrow. "Of course, young Edward," he said, taking my arm.

The amusement in his mind fell away as he read my news in his thoughts. Already? he thought. I must allow Caius to motivate the boy more often. "Lead the way," he said.

In the basement hallway outside the communications department, Lydia was beginning to grow suspicious, thinking of the waves of sweat that broke out on her palms as Bella's cloak swayed with her steps. I felt something inside me clench. There was something wrong here. There was a darkness in Lydia's mind. Fear was bright; it made people’s thoughts flutter like birds. Lydia seemed too heavy.

Why wouldn't Aro move faster? Solving this problem was worth a few seconds of indignity.

You must read her right away, sir, I urged. Before anything can go wrong.

There is no need for paranoia, young Edward, though Aro. Telling the future was never your gift. And there was a familiar ache at the empty space in my mind.

They'd reached the elevator. Bella pressed the button and smiled, "They can send dogs and monkeys to Mars, but they can't make these things go any faster?" Bella said companionably as Lydia forced a laugh. But Rolfe had been right about her acting. Even Lydia could see the tightness at the ends of her mouth.

Does she know? Lydia wondered. I have to look a fright. Oh God, she knows.

As they boarded the elevator. I felt the human's thoughts go black, moved toward something that she'd avoided thinking about, that she always avoided thinking about.

"Master—!" I said, grabbing Aro's hand so that he could see what I saw.

I swore. I'd been wrong. Lydia wasn't some fading beauty queen who was afraid of crow's feet. She was like Andrew. She still had some tie to the human world, and the Romanians had gotten hold of it.

Lydia closed her eyes against tears. Oh God, Bella hadn't noticed her reaching for the pill in her right front pocket. However our enemies had gotten to Lydia, they'd found something worth dying for.

"I see it," Aro said darkly, and the hallway dissolved around us. We were at the elevator shaft before another second had passed. We passed Alec, who looked up in alarm.

"Lydia, what have you—wait!" through Lydia's eyes, I saw Bella grab her wrist, force her mouth open and dig out the dark gray capsule. Lydia choked, spitting one lower tooth out onto the floor. And the blood on the linoleum gave her an idea.

"Stop her!" I called down the shaft, knowing Bella would hear me. Bella realized what Lydia was doing just as she clicked open the penknife. "Alec!" I called out, turning my head.

I'd never seen a human that determined. She didn't hesitate. They always hesitated, but metal met flesh and Lydia's last clear thought was the sight of her arterial spray striking Bella's face and clothes.

"No," I growled out loud. "No, no, no."

What in blazes is going on? Alec thought behind his mask of a face, looking from Aro to me and back as he trotted toward us.

"Alec, the elevator," Aro said quickly, "everyone on it."

"Yes, Master," he answered.

In the back of my mind, I could feel the chilling field start to form, but it wasn't going to be fast enough. It was already too late. Right now, the key witness in my wife's defense was bleeding out or—worse—my wife had just given in to the bloodlust and killed her.

As the elevator clicked into position in front of us, Rolfe asked, "Okay, what did I miss?"

Faced with one death glare from his master and another from me, Rolfe backed away. I leaned my palm against the elevator frame, not caring that Aro saw my weakness. And Caroly and Demetri, the risks they'd taken. Had they been for nothing too?

There were more footsteps. I recognized Salome's thoughts behind us. What's happening here? Is there danger? besides Alec's wordless focus.

I calmed myself quickly and drew myself up straight as the doors began to open. Damage control. It was time for damage control.

The light from the hallway spilled inside and I saw Bella crouched over Lydia's dead body, burying her face in one corner of her cloak.

No, not her dead body... My mind lightened, despite the scent of blood.

Lydia's arms and legs were as limp as cut leaves, and Bella was trying to wipe the blood from her mouth. The wound on Lydia's neck was red and raw.

And sealed with venom.

"Did—did I stop in time?" she was babbling. "I don't know if I—"

I kissed her full on the mouth, heedless of the blood loosening her lips.

"You did," I said. "Her heart is still beating."

"But she went limp; she—"

"That was me," Alec added helpfully, as he eyed Bella as if seeing her for the first time. Not a sign, he thought skeptically even as his influence licked at her sides, ineffectual as mist around a pillar. He'd known that Jane's powers didn't work on her, but he'd always suspected that his own would be more formidable.

I didn't want to turn around, but I did, and Aro's eyes were like ice behind their gray.

"Master," I said, reaching out to him. Master, you have to do it, I thought, showing him Alec's unquestioning focus, Salome's vigilance, Rolfe's benign trust that someone would tell him what was going on any minute now.

"Alec, you can release the human," he said, crouching down on the floor of the elevator and carefully placing his hands on either side of her temples.

"But Master, she's been bitten," said Alec. The venom. The master should not have to live through that.

"I realize that, my dear Alec," he answered. "But young Edward and little Bella have done their duty, and I must do mine."

Salome brushed past us into the elevator and put her hands on Lydia's arms just before they began to twitch. Rolfe followed, holding her legs down. I wrapped my arms around Bella, tucking her head under my chin, and hoped.

The anesthesia in Lydia's mind receded, replaced by pain. I'd watched people's thoughts warping in that heat, but never through Aro's eyes. Even for my master, seeing her memories was like looking through flames. Faces blurred. Words were lost in the crackle and hiss. There was an image that might have been either Stefan himself or Andrew's mystery nomad, and a voice that might have been Lydia's mother. Eventually, Aro released Lydia's head and rose to his feet.

"Master?" Alec asked carefully.

"Yes, my dear Alec?" asked Aro.

"Now that you are finished, shall I stop her pain?"

Aro looked toward the human who'd begun to whimper into the edge of Salome's cloak. The few thoughts that I could pick out of her head were useless. But Aro had seen enough, from her and from me, to know that she was a spy. That would be enough, wouldn't it? It would save her.

"That will not be necessary, Alec," Aro said. "The human was a traitor." I could have wept with relief.

"Then should we not kill her, Master?" asked Alec.

Lydia's heart was strong, and she would come into her immortality within days.

But how many of her memories would be ash?

"Not yet, my Alec," said Aro. "She still has something I need."


The magnetic engine system is already used in airports to propel big carts full of baggage around.

This chapter was written last month. I like to get a good way into the next chapter before posting. The theme is coincidental. I don't live near Boston, and the members of my extended family who do are reasonably well. I believe Stephen Colbert put it best: These people are so tough that they had to buckle their hats on. Then there's the Boston PD. It must have been hard to bring him in alive, but that's what the city, the U.S. and the other forty-nine countries deserve.

drf24 (at) columbia (dot) edu