Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters in True Blood or the Southern Vampire Mysteries. So neither copyright infringement nor offense is meant. I simply want to make the characters do what I wanted them to do for a while. I am especially “unownerly” when it comes to this story. You will recognize a lot of the dialogue throughout as being quoted from Season 5 of True Blood, though I’ve tried to use Eric’s thoughts to make this story “different” from its source. That said, I claim no ownership to the quoted material and have placed it in bold so that it is set apart from my own words.
I couldn’t help but to notice just how perfectly placed Bill and I had been on the circular symbol on the floor. Just like all older vampires, I recognized the design. It had originally been a symbol for Lilith, but over the millennia, it had become the mark of the Authority itself.
As Bill and I had been pushed onto out knees, we’d had hoods over our heads, so it had been our captors who had placed us so perfectly. We were obviously being recorded. And if the hairs on the back of my neck were any indication, we were being watched by more than just a techy. No—I had the undeniable sensation that I was being studied by someone I could not see.
As I listened to the members of the Chancellery debate my fate, I realized that there were two definite sides to the table. Bad-suit, Dieter Braun, and the little kid were clearly in the camp to kill Bill and myself—regardless of the use we could serve.
On the other hand and the other side, Salome and the black Chancellor, whom I was really starting to fucking like, were clearly advocating to let us live. And I figured that Salome would be outwardly on the side that Roman was actually on. Her argument was to use Bill and me to draw out Russell. It was reasoned and practical, but I wondered if her “job” all along that night had been to make sure that Bill and I lived.
Sure―she’d presented Roman with the stake that he was still carrying around, but when she’d done it, she seemed to be participating in a performance more than truly thirsting for Bill’s and my blood. Yes—Salome was playing her part with just as much expertise as she’d earlier played the role of torturer.
I realized that Bill and my fate was already a foregone conclusion. We would live through the night.
We were always going to.
Given that revelation, my mind started spinning, trying to arrange pieces of a puzzle that had been set before me upside-down.
THAT was what Roman seemed to be following. Somewhere, there was a fucking script! Otherwise, Bill and I would already be dead—would have been dead back at Bill’s mansion or on the pier after we’d escaped the first time.
Had Nora been the one using us? Had she intended for us to be caught? Had she intended for us to provide a distraction? Had someone inside the Authority itself needed that distraction? And for what purpose?
I intended to find out who the fuck had cast me as an actor in this fucked up play!
I scoffed. Yes—Bill and I had been placed on that circle on the floor as if it were a “mark” for actors!
Or perhaps I was reading too much into our position. Perhaps, Roman was just anal about such things; from the look of his perfectly tailored suit―complete with a perfectly pressed red handkerchief standing out of a perfectly-sized little pocket―I knew that Roman liked things “just so.” But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in the middle of a play.
I wondered if this whole production—including Roman’s anger—had all been for the benefit of the others in the room, especially for those on the “bad” side of the table. There was something in Roman’s eyes that spoke of “more”—a mystery of some kind. I wondered what the fuck the mystery was.
I ran through what I knew.
Number one: Nan Flanagan had been sent—as her last act for the Authority—to kill Bill and myself. If she’d have just been sent for Bill, then that would have been no stretch for her—no problem whatsoever. Had Bill been by himself, Nan was old enough to take him down easily.
However, she’d specifically wanted to meet with both Bill and me—together. Or—at least—that was the summons that Bill and I had received from the Authority about ten minutes before Nan had shown up.
And there had been only three guards with her. Nan and three storm troopers would have never been a large enough force to take me out; I was a thousand fucking years old, after all.
And Roman would have known that. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Roman had wanted Nan dead. He just didn’t want to get his own hands dirty. So he’d decided to give Bill and me the parts of her executioners.
Number two: Bill and I were still alive. Why?
If Roman had wanted to tie up all lose ends, then he would have killed his executioners. He would have washed his hands of the whole bloody mess. On the surface, it didn’t make fucking sense otherwise. Nan was ostensibly sent to kill Bill and me, but we killed her instead. And then—not two hours later—came a force ten times larger than Nan’s. And that force had included a number of strong vampires, including Nora. Did Roman know Nora would try to free me? I didn’t think so, but it was possible.
More likely was that someone else in Roman’s inner circle knew—and the main candidate in my mind was Salome.
Regardless of Nora’s part, however, it wasn’t logical that the larger force wouldn’t just complete Nan’s failed task: to kill Bill and myself.
After all, we had clearly just added to our crimes! And it wasn’t as if we could deny it since there were still bags of Nan and storm trooper goo all around Bill’s office. Hell, there was a chunk of Nan on the ceiling fan that I’d not yet gotten to!
So the question remained: Why would Roman bring us here?
It wasn’t to kill us. That would be an utter fucking waste of resources, and Roman didn’t seem wasteful. No—every action of Roman’s seemed perfectly scripted. There were no extraneous scenes or lines.
Number three: Bill and I had put a wrench into Roman’s plans when we’d escaped from the trunk. Nora had seemingly added to that wrench by helping us after that. But Roman hadn’t been fooled by Nora’s phone call. He’d sprung a trap to ensnare us at the pier.
How did he know we would be there? Were Nora’s confederates on that pier Sanguinistas? Did Roman have a mole in Nora’s group? Or could Nora have been helping Roman entrap Bill and me all along?
No—I didn’t think that could be true. Nora seemed to truly be up the shit-creek now, and I didn’t believe that she was working towards Roman’s ends—at least not on her own volition. She was, perhaps, another unwitting actor in Roman’s production—but she had no knowledge that she was acting for him.
And then it dawned on me. She thought that she was an actor in someone else’s play—a play that was going on at the same time as Roman’s drama.
I contemplated that realization for a moment.
Roman had clearly gone to great lengths in order to find and apprehend Bill and myself. I still wondered why. I wondered if there was something bigger that I was missing.
Nora’s possible connection with the Sanguinistas had obviously rattled Roman. Did the Guardian really think that Bill and I were involved with that group?
I highly fucking doubted it. In our own ways, Bill and I had been visible supporters for the mainstreaming movement. My Public Service Announcements—though a pain in the ass to film—had a large Internet following around the world. Hell—my “fans” had devoted countless Websites to me, most of them ‘litanizing’ and objectifying my every feature as if I were a piece of meat.
Of course, I didn’t so much mind that part. It was quite amusing actually, and lording it over Pamela throughout the last year had been one of the few bright points of my existence after Sookie had disappeared.
Thinking of the blond telepath, I quickly checked our bond. She was still there. Still okay.
I glanced at the man beside me; I knew that my erstwhile king was not a Sanguinista. Bill, though at an extreme from myself, was a very committed mainstreamer. Even though the Festival of Tolerance had been an epic clusterfuck, Bill had spun the situation better than even Nan had. And it had been “fixed” quickly—as even Roman had admitted.
No—Bill was a respected public figure, a natural and consummate politician, with genteel Southern manners thrown into the mix. Roman had to know that Bill and I were unlikely candidates to be Sanguinistas. Hell—if we were his enemies, then we were going about it in a very fucked up way.
Clearly, Roman had been sidetracked because of Nora’s actions and was now being further sidetracked by the menace of Russell Edgington. But there was undoubtedly more going on than met the eye.
There had been a hint earlier, and I continued to process that little nugget. Why had Roman taken out the relic of Lilith? And why had he completed the ritual as if speaking to someone behind Bill and me—as if placing an offering to someone “just offstage?” I had seen the doors behind Bill and me when I’d turned briefly to observe Roman. Now I wondered just who or what was behind us.
And, more importantly, I wondered if there was someone pulling Roman’s strings too. And if so, who was more powerful than the Guardian? Only one being that I could think of was more powerful, but that would be impossible—right?
I was brought out of my reverie as Roman put an end to the Chancellors’ “debate.” Yes—I realized, looking into Roman’s eyes—Bill and my survival had been a foregone conclusion, but Roman, too, had played his part well.
“Chancellors, thank you for your input,” Roman postured. “Be assured that I will take it all,” he paused, “under advisement.”
I noticed a knowing look pass between Roman and the black Chancellor. Yes—we were all playing our parts―weren’t we? Even if some of us didn’t know it, our strings were being pulled left and right.
“Bless the blood,” Roman said, his words marking the dismissal of the Chancellors.
“Bad-suit” gave me a brief sneer as she passed by, and I gave her a little wink as I fantasized about twisting the cheap pearls that hung so tightly around her throat until her head popped off. Yes—I thought—that would be satisfying.
As the others were leaving, Roman asked Salome to stay. Clearly the scene was not quite over yet. I narrowed my eyes and watched the pair, wondering what would happen next. I knew for fuck sure that it would not be Bill and my true deaths.
As soon as the chamber door closed, Roman began speaking as he casually put the stake away. “The Sanguinistas have turned Russell Edgington into some kind of hero for ripping out a man’s spine on T.V. He has become the poster-boy for the anti-mainstream movement—their Osama Bin Laden.” Roman paused briefly as he walked toward Bill and me. “Do you know the one thing more dangerous than a martyr?”
He answered his own question. “A three thousand-year-old vampire who hasn’t fed in over a year.”
I fucking agreed, and I checked my bond with Sookie because of that agreement. She was still okay.
“Suffering does not kill the appetite for power,” Roman continued as if speaking from experience. “It exacerbates it.”
Roman was scrambling to hold onto his control of the situation. He was scrambling to keep the Sanguinistas at bay and to keep his power intact. Perhaps, the Guardian had been hoping to procure Bill and my help to do just that all along. Perhaps, that was the reason we had been brought to the Authority’s headquarters.
He’d likely been monitoring Nan for a while, so he may have known that she planned to try to entice Bill and me to her side. Thus, when we killed her, we’d unknowingly proven our loyalty—to Roman’s side.
Roman had not known about Russell—clearly—but he was no idiot. If the Sanguinistas had broken Russell out, then he might be able to find his greatest enemies by drawing out my greatest enemy—or, rather, using Bill and myself to draw Russell out. Roman could kill two birds with one stone.
It was practical.
Indeed, Roman had clearly decided to use Bill and me for his own purposes; he’d most likely decided to do that even before he sent Nan to kill us.
Again, I wondered if there was an ultimate puppet master in the wings of the stage.
As Roman finished his little speech, he looked straight into my eyes. “Do you understand what I am saying?”
I returned Roman’s direct look. I understood more than Roman’s words. “Absolutely, Guardian,” I responded.
Bill answered, “We’ll bring him in,” he paused, “or die trying.”
I checked my bonded. Sookie was okay.
Yes—I would die trying. I had to make sure Sookie stayed safe. The fact that she didn’t want to be mine was no longer consequential. It hadn’t been since my conversation with the Were.
Roman looked toward the ceiling and signaled. The gesture was likely designed to communicate to whoever had been recording—or whoever had paused the recording of the proceedings.
Less than a second later, a couple of vampire guards had Bill and me in their grasps and on our feet again. They led us out of the room and into the corridor—this time without the hoods over our heads. The hoods had evidently been a prop for the other Chancellors to see―not a devise to keep Bill and myself from finding our way back to the meeting room.
Yes—I had just been an unwitting actor in a play.
“Well,” Bill said as soon as the door closed behind him, “that could have gone worse.”
“I wonder,” I said enigmatically.
Bill looked at me in question, and I gave him a little smirk.
“So,” I winked to the guard who was holding my arm, “who will I have to screw around here to get a shower and a wardrobe change?” I leered at him. “You?”
As always, thanks Sephrenia for all the character banners for this story!!!!!