Chapter 4 – The Resistance
Instinctively, I put my hands in the air and nudged Claude so he would do the same. They might have fear in their eyes but the brains were screaming that every single one of their trigger fingers were itchy. One wrong move and both of us would have more holes than the strainer I used to make pasta at home. The klaxon was silenced, but the red lights still flashed. I tried to concentrate long enough to take in my surroundings, but with so many humans all thinking at me it was very difficult.
There was a metal staircase in front of us, I looked up and around. The whole portal was surrounded by catwalks and metal platforms – and the US armed forces. When I turned to Claude, it was clear he was angry and confused, despite his lack of energy. This obviously wasn’t home. In our universe, the army didn’t guard the portals against ‘encounters’. In the last world, Dracula had risen as a Vampire and rallied the whole species to a rebellion. I wondered what happened in this universe that would have alerted the military to the portals and have them watching them.
We were roughly pulled to our feet and patted down. I wanted to scream that we didn’t have any weapons; that we weren’t there to hurt them … that we just wanted to get back to our own world.
“No weapons, Sir.” A young man with ‘Hardy’ stitched to his left breast pulled my hands behind my back and slipped a cold metal bracelet on each wrist.
I’d never been handcuffed before.
Claude looked completely exhausted and put up no resistance as they restrained him. Both of us looked to the stairs as we heard the heavy footsteps come towards us. My eyes almost popped out of my head when I recognised the features of the man in front of us. A glance at his left breast confirmed that I had reason for my shock.
Gen. T. Bellefleur.
His mind was completely different to that of the Terry who swept the floor in Merlotte’s. It was ordered, clear … sane. As we were pushed away from the portal, up the stairs and into a room with no furniture and smooth white walls, I wondered what other differences we’d find in this universe.
I should have been wondering what the military were going to do with me and Claude. But maybe my mind was protecting me by not letting me think about that. I could ‘hear’ all the human soldiers buzzing around the complex. With no idea of where we were, no-one to ask for information and no furniture in the room, Claude and I huddled against each other in a corner.
When you’re awake and on edge, the smallest amount of time feels like hours. My muscles ached from the tension and my head was pounding from everyone’s brains being on red alert. I had no idea how to piece together the snippets of thoughts I was being bombarded with. For a brief moment, I wished we’d stayed in the Citadel and taken our chances with the Vampires, at least the humans in the Citadel weren’t so loud I couldn’t think straight. There must have been hundreds of minds in a tiny area – the concentration of thoughts was overwhelming.
I tried to close off my mind, actively imagining closing myself off brick by brick. Not blocking their thoughts but shutting myself inside my own head. As if sensing my struggle, Claude gently rubbed at my shoulder and rocked me back and forth on the white floor of the cell.
“You need to stay with me, Sookie; I don’t think I can do this without you.”
Closing my eyes, I grabbed Claude’s hand and squeezed as hard as I could. “I’m trying. There’s just so many of them.”
Despite his exhaustion and whatever feelings he had about us not being back in our own universe, Claude put his mouth to mine and breathed into me. I felt better, much better, immediately but was consumed by guilt when I heard Claude cough and saw how grey his skin was. I left his side and went to the door, bumping my shoulder against it as I tried to get someone’s attention.
“Excuse me? Is anyone there?” I frowned, not knowing what I should ask for if someone came. “Are we entitled to the basic human right of food? If you’re going to prevent us from getting our own food – you need to provide it!”
I jumped back as a slot on the door opened. “Non-humans don’t get human rights, bitch!”
“Stand down, soldier.”
Despite Terry being back, I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief. Instead I went over to Claude and hunkered down next to him.
“My cousin needs food and somewhere to rest. When will you be questioning us? That’s why we’re in a cell isn’t it? Until you can question us and then decide what to do with us.”
“You’re very astute … and familiar. I knew a girl who looked like you once. Her name was Sookie.”
“Was?” I tried to keep down the bile that was rising from my stomach.
“She was executed a couple years back. She was a danger to National security … and there were too many non-humans trying to bust her out of isolation.”
And to think that earlier I’d been proud of myself for not throwing up all over the place. I guess pride does come before a fall. I could hear the disgusted thoughts of General Bellefleur and the soldier next to him.
“Get them out of there and bring in a clean-up crew. That’ll stink up the whole compound if it isn’t dealt with right away. Prepare them for transport ASAP.”
I didn’t ask where we were being transported to. I was too busy thinking about landing in a universe that had already killed me – and by order of the government into the bargain. Claude and I got one look at each other as we were hauled out of the white room. The fear I was feeling was reflected in my cousin’s eyes.
We were un-cuffed and thrown in another room and viciously hosed down with cold water before being separated. I was pulled into a small cubicle and stripped bare by a man I had never seen before. His thoughts on how scarred and tired my body was translated into a look of distaste on his face. I had been violated in many ways before – but none of them were sanctioned by people who ran the country I was proud to have been born in. In a way, that hurt more than anything else I had gone through in the past. A towel was tossed in my direction, along with a yellow jumpsuit. No underwear. And as I dried myself with the towel I thought, ridiculously, they didn’t think we deserved fabric softener either.
My skin was red raw with the cold water and rough towel as I pulled the jumpsuit on – all under the watchful glare of Corporal Ruddick. I held back my tears, I refused to cry. Not because I didn’t want them to see me as weak – but because I knew that’s why they were treating me the way they were. They wanted me to cry. They wanted me to break down. They wanted me to be emotional. Unhinged and easily manipulated.
I stood up straight and looked Ruddick right in the eye. “Enjoy the show?”
“Shut up and turn around.”
I complied slowly, clasping my hands behind my back in anticipation of the cuffs being replaced. Ruddick urged me ahead by using the barrel of his rifle as a prod for my lower back. As if I needed more bruises to add to the one on my chest from Eric’s sword. Two other soldiers took an arm each and pulled me along the metal walkways into a small hangar. There were two small aircraft and a few SUVs. I spotted Claude coming out of a door near mine, his face was red on one side and the eye was starting to swell.
The fact that Claude had been assaulted, and goodness knows what else, while he was being ‘prepared for transport’ made my tears prickle and threaten to spill over more than when it was me being stripped and inspected. I was pushed into the back of one of the SUVs and moments later, Claude joined me. Corporal Ruddick was seated between us and General Bellefleur was in the passenger seat. The driver was also human – and wondering where the hell we came from because he didn’t know of any prisoners that had been transported into Millwood Lake compound.
The only ‘Millwood Lake’ I knew of was in Arkansas, seemed like that was the unluckiest state in the whole country for me.
The car moved slowly from the hangar, but as soon as we passed the security gates it was pedal to the metal. There was a digital display on the dash; I had to crane my neck to see the date – much to the displeasure of Corporal Ruddick. It was 2007 here too.
And I was dead.
Every time I tried to lean forward to look at Claude, I’d be pushed back into my seat by Ruddick. The third time he did it, I snapped.
“I’m just trying to look at the injuries my cousin accrued while in military care!” I spat it out, venomously, and got the butt of his gun in my face for the effort.
My vision was blurred, even after the stars had faded and I was pretty sure he’d broken my nose. My top lip was wet and when I darted my tongue out, I tasted blood. General Bellefleur caught my eyes in the rear-view mirror and shook his head. He was thinking that I should have kept my mouth shut, just like I should have kept my mouth shut back in Bon Temps.
The only good thing about the new universe we found ourselves in was the fact that I knew what time it was. After twenty minutes of watching my nose drip blood onto my yellow jumpsuit, Bellefleur tossed a handkerchief to Ruddick and told him to clean up some of the mess he made. I screamed as Ruddick grabbed at my nose with the fabric. It was definitely broken.
We drove for another twenty-five minutes before the sun went down. With the exception of universe A1 (that’s what I taken to thinking of the world with Wolveswood and the Citadel as), I’d never feared the darkening skies. My most serious injuries were inflicted by creatures that could walk in the daylight – just like these soldiers in the car with me. We drove along highways and on to the interstate, going by the signs we were heading west on I-30. My stomach growled loudly and I closed my eyes, expecting another poke with Ruddick’s gun for not being able to control the sounds my body made.
I stiffened in my seat at the mental intrusion. I glanced at Ruddick and he curled his lip at me. “You’ll get something to eat when you get to the Terrorist Detention Centre.”
I nodded slowly and closed my eyes.
I can hear you … Barry?
Yes! I could feel his relief through the thoughts he was sending to me. Eric is tracking you. A retrieval team is en route.
Eric can still track me? That was a big thumbs up to Marnie for not breaking the bond. I don’t know what’s happening, Barry, I’m not from this world.
You sure as hell aren’t. No-one has ever come back from the dead like this before.
I wanted to tell him that I never died. I was never executed. Instead, I mentally nodded to him and tried to block off any further communication. Either it worked or Barry sensed that I wasn’t up for some light, telepathic, conversation. A retrieval team was en route. I tried not to get excited about that. I had no idea what kind of retrieval team Eric would be part of. I had no idea why Eric would be part of a retrieval team.
There was also the multitude of questions I wanted to direct to General Bellefleur. But it would be rude and disrespectful to ask a man how he managed to rise to General and not go nuts instead. Strangely, I was proud of this Terry – not because he thought me and Claude were terrorists and aided in our brutalisation – but because he’d succeeded where my world’s Terry didn’t. Terry was never the same after he came back from Vietnam, I concluded that this Terry either avoided the trip or never needed to go there in the first place.
They always say that when you’re waiting for something to happen, it’ll happen when you get distracted. ‘They’ say a lot of stuff, but in this instance they’re right. While I was pondering the history of Terry Bellefleur, the SUV swerved violently.
“How in the hell did they know we were in transport?”
Ruddick grabbed my head and pushed it down toward the floor. I have no idea if he did the same thing with Claude; I was busy trying to muffle the sound of gunfire with my knees pressed against my ears. The SUV shook and I heard a man scream fairly close by.
“Go! Go! Go! Run the fuckers down!” Bellefleur shouted at the driver but the car didn’t move.
The engine was revving and I could feel the vibration of the wheels turning, but the car wasn’t going anywhere. I was too scared to look around and find out what was going on, I had no way to protect myself and I had no way to try and escape – so I did what seemed to be the best thing to do in that situation – I prayed. I prayed while I felt Ruddick’s weight being removed from my back (he had been leaning on me while firing his rifle out of the window). I prayed while the door made hideous screeching noises as it was ripped from the side of the SUV. I prayed while hearing General Terrence Bellefleur begging for his life. I didn’t stop praying until I heard someone say my name.
“Sookie? It’s Claudine, can you hear me?”
I opened my eyes to see my beautiful cousin gazing down at me as I lay in her arms.
“Talk about coming back from the dead!” I chuckled tiredly and relished her comfort as she popped us to a safe location.
Claudine put me down on a mattress in a dimly lit room and removed the cuffs. I had no idea where we were but I knew the first thing I wanted to do was check on Claude. I stood up and asked her where he was.
“Which one?” She pursed her lips and frowned. “The one you came through a portal with or the one who’s been here the whole time?”
“The one who’s with me, the soldiers beat him.”
Claudine nodded. “He’s in the other room receiving some healing. You’ll see him once I’ve dealt with your injuries. Questions can wait until you’re both able to think clearly.”
She told me to lie back down so she could try to fix my nose. I watched her take a deep breath and raise her hands but we were disturbed by the door of the room being thrown wide and Eric rushing in. Claudine jumped back and pulled a long silver chain from beneath the sweater she was wearing.
“I’m not here for you.” Eric sneered before looking down at me. “I don’t know where you’re from or how you managed to get so much of my blood in you but it’s lucky that you did.”
He bit into his wrist and held it out to me. I sat up and watched the blood ooze from the wound.
“If me having so much of your blood causes confusion, why do you want me to have more?”
“A little more won’t make a difference, I know how much is too much, and it will work quicker and more effectively than Fae healing. I have questions and I want answers, the sooner, the better.”
I turned to Claudine; she nodded and confirmed that Eric’s blood would be more efficient than her magic. As hard as I tried to concentrate, I couldn’t feel this Eric at all – which meant that he hadn’t had enough of my blood to form a bond. Eric kept his eyes closed as I drank from his wrist; if he was enjoying it (like he seemed to in my world) he hid it well. I could feel my nose knit together and my body thrummed with nervous energy. I remembered how I felt after having his blood in Mississippi. After the last couple of days I could look back fondly at being staked and think ‘good times’. Whatever my world put me through – I was never on the run to save my life. Not like this.
Eric pulled his wrist away and looked at the floor. “When she’s ready, Claudine, please bring her to the meeting room.”
Claudine nodded and watched as he left the room. She gently took my hand and showed me to a bathroom. “Get cleaned up, I’ll try and find you some clothes.”
What followed was definitely number one in my top ten showers of all time. It was warm, there was decent soap and I was alone. Bliss.
When Claudine led me to the meeting room, I was tickled by the sight of two Claudes sitting staring at each other. Then I thought about how I would feel if I was sitting across from myself and sobered. There were a lot of people there that I didn’t know but some that I did. Eric, Claude, Niall, Andre, Quinn, Amanda, Dr. Ludwig and Barry were all there, staring at me with wonder. I nodded to the room and went to sit quietly in a corner, but I was stopped by my Great-Grandfather’s voice.
“Sookie, I must say – it’s wonderful to see you again.”
“Thanks but … I’m not the Sookie that you saw last.” He laughed and some of the others smiled or chuckled. “I’m not even sure who most of you are.”
One of the Claudes came over and sat down next to me, holding my hand like it was a life-raft. I figured that was a pretty good indicator of how to tell the two Claudes apart. The other Claude simply raised an eyebrow.
“In your world … are we mates?” He asked loudly. I saw Eric’s fingers twitch.
“Ah no. We’ve just been through a lot together in the last couple of days.”
“More than I ever thought I would – without Sookie I would have been stranded in another world, a world more dangerous than this one.”
I rubbed lightly at his hand as he told everyone the story of how he tried to open the first portal and we ended up in Universe A1. That night in the woods behind my house seemed like forever ago now. The crowded room was focussed on Claude, except Eric. He stared at me as he listened, not with malice or fear or love or even affection. It was … indifferent, like he was assessing me. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that our relationship here was nothing like the one we shared in my world.
When Claude was done, it was our turn to ask questions. It turned out that after the Vampires came out of the coffin, there was a backlash when a Conservative politician’s daughter was reported missing after visiting a Vampire bar in Arizona. She was never found. But while the BVA were fighting for the Vampire’s right to own property in my world, properties that were reported to house Vampires in this one were being burned down.
From there it was only a matter of time before other Supes were earmarked for detention facilities. The NSA didn’t have to ask too many questions around Bon Temps to get the impression I wasn’t quite all human. Quinn picked up the story for a while, his violet eyes looking at me sadly as he spoke.
“A lot of the two-natured are still living like they did before. But down here in the south – they conducted ‘humanity’ tests. When the prospect of people being able to turn into animals became government knowledge, the police rounded folks up for the full moon. You know we have to change then, there’s no stopping it.”
“How did they find out about the portals?”
“Quite by accident, I’m afraid.” Niall leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees. “A policeman was conducting a routine search and one of the Fae exited the portal right in front of him. Murry always was stupid, he’s dead now, but not before he gave them a wealth of information from behind iron bars.”
“So all non-humans are terrorists?” My Claude was still holding my hand. “And you’re … freedom fighters?”
Claudine grinned. “We try to keep as many Supes as possible from being imprisoned. There are Resistance cells all over, it was you, Sookie, who had the idea that we should band together.”
“Me?” I gulped.
Apparently ‘The Resistance’ all started with Sam Merlotte busting me out of a jail cell in Bon Temps. At my insistence the two of us freed Vampires (one of them Eric) from detention cells and those Vampires teamed up with us when we started freeing all the other Supes. The Fae joined in to try and make their portals safe to use again. And the rest, as these guys were saying, is history.
Despite my infusion of Eric’s blood, I started to feel weary. But I had one more question before the meeting was adjourned.
“Did the Vietnam war ever happen in this universe?”
I wasn’t surprised when my Claude took my hand and followed me to the room I’d be sleeping in. I was actually a little thankful of the extra body there when Eric whizzed past us and blocked the doorway.
“Ah … you wanted to talk to me. I get it. Why don’t you come inside and I’ll answer your questions.”
“I won’t be able to ask many if you keep the Fairy around.” He smirked at Claude and I saw my cousin go a little green at the gills.
“Now you just stop that buddy!”
Eric hissed at me. “Buddy?”
I remembered this altercation going a little differently back in my world. I sent Claude into the room and promised him I’d be there as soon as I could. Eric led me through the hallways and out the front door. He sat down on the steps of the porch and turned to stare at me as I followed suit.
“We are lovers in your world. I can feel your affection for me.”
“Yes … we’re a little more, I guess, we’re bonded.” His eyes widened a little at that. “And we’re married … Vampire style. Neither of us really asked for those things to happen.”
“Uh … well, we ended up bonded because you gave me your blood a few times and you had mine … a good few times.”
“Mostly, although there was one time you were injured. Anyway, Andre wanted me to be tied to someone in Sophie-Anne’s retinue – he wanted it to be him but you stepped in and saved me from ending up bonded to Andre instead.”
“Why would I do that?” Eric was genuinely confused; you could see it in his eyes. That hurt a little.
“Because you liked me. We had shared some experiences together, you had feelings for me. That’s why you tricked me into marrying you too.”
“You didn’t return those feelings and I had to trick you into marrying me?” The confusion was turning into incredulousness.
“No. You tricked me into marrying you so the King of Nevada wouldn’t take me away.” I sighed and rubbed my temples. “Look, why don’t I tell you everything – a story. The story of the Eric and Sookie from my world, then you can tell me how different it was for us … them … here.”
Eric nodded and I took a deep breath. I hoped Claude didn’t mind being left on his own for a little longer.