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 steeled myself. I was going to have to kill General Cavanaugh. I could see no other way that would get me—and Nora—out of the Authority compound before dawn.
I didn’t want to kill him—not necessarily—even though his file indicated that he was an asshole.
And an unethical one at that.
After Nora and my tryst, I’d done exactly what a good lackey should; I’d read the files on General Cavanaugh—to get up to speed. It seemed that—even with “close associates”—Roman would collect potential blackmail information. It was a sound policy.
Apparently, there had been a lot of information to collect on the general.
General Bruce Cavanaugh—nicknamed “Buckey” by his friends—had operated in “gray areas” throughout his career.
The dark gray.
From Shadow-Ops during the Vietnam War, to accepting bribes, to numerous affairs—Buckey was definitely no boy scout. However, it was primarily his “darker side” that had convinced President Clinton to appoint him to work with Roman a decade before the Great Revelation. Cavanaugh had been a good choice—matching Roman’s ambition and risk-taking tendencies.
Breaking me from my thoughts, Bill walked into the conference room; he looked surprised to see me there pouring over the general’s files.
He smelled strongly of Salome, sex, and blood. There was no prize for guessing what he had been up to.
“Bill,” I greeted.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I fear this general will be trouble for our cause,” I replied seriously, gathering up the papers in front of me. “It seems he’s been reluctant to work with anyone other than Roman throughout the years.”
“That is what Salome indicated,” Bill said with an air of superiority. Obviously, he had learned of the file’s contents from the horse’s mouth—so to speak.
I preferred my way.
“I am certain that Salome will know how to lead us through this,” I said sincerely, casting a little bait for my former king and current enemy. If I knew Bill, then I figured that he was beginning to imagine himself in the main leadership role. Obviously, he’d already decided that he was “better” than I was in the hierarchy of the Authority.
“You smell of Nora,” Bill said, instead of responding to my comment.
I leered. “I have been reminded—as of late—of just how satisfying sex with a vampire is. Nora and I shared a meal as well,” I misled.
Actually, we had arranged for a human to be brought to us. And we had fed—within reason. Then we’d glamoured him to think we’d had sex with him. We’d gotten away with sparing his life because his blood was truly delicious.
Bill nodded. “I am truly glad to see that you seem unencumbered by the past—by your emotions for,” he paused, “humans.”
He should have said, “a human.” Or—more accurately—”a human/fairy.”
“As I am glad to see from you,” I returned evenly.
Rosalyn chose that moment to come into the room. “I am as stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey,” she drawled before sinking heavily into a chair.
I chuckled. “You should try the dark headed man—the one with the tattoo of a dove on his forearm. AB-negative,” I winked, licking my lips. “Nora and I kept him alive so that he could be,” I paused, “enjoyed by all.”
Rosalyn smirked. “I will have to do just that—after this insufferable meetin’ is over, that is.”
One by one, the other Chancellors entered, each of them looking pinker than the next. Nora and Salome came in together, and it was clear to me that Salome still thought that my sister was her creature. So much the better.
Once we were all settled into our places, General Cavanaugh was led into the room.
His file had told me that, in addition to his shadier activities, he’d also been chosen for his current position because he was one of only two high-ranking generals willing to work with vampires. He had been all for mainstreaming, but it was clear that Roman had lined Buckey’s pockets to grease the wheels. General Michaels, who was Cavanaugh’s “partner” but slightly less superior in rank, was much more “ethical.”
Roman had preferred Cavanaugh.
“General Cavanaugh,” Salome greeted, “what a surprise. So nice to see you again.”
It was a pity that his minutes were numbered. I liked that he could smell our “leader’s” bullshit from across the room.
“Unfortunately, the Guardian is unavailable at this time,” Bill spoke up as if he were the one in charge.
I wanted to ask that same question about Bill in that moment.
Clearly unimpressed, Cavanaugh disregarded Bill quickly. “Well, there’s a shit-storm out there, and Roman’s been ducking my calls. Now I demand to know what’s going on,” he insisted.
“Oh, I see. And who the fuck are you?” he asked me sarcastically.
Indeed, I did regret that I had to kill him. Again, I felt slightly better knowing that Cavanaugh had ordered and participated in some pretty crooked things during his life. Hell—his “classified” record from the late 1960s would have been enough to make most humans vomit.
Of course, like most military beings, Cavanaugh had been driven by the policies that had been in place at the time. However, at other times—for example, during his deployment in Korea—he’d been truly heroic. But his character was problematic enough to ensure that I wouldn’t feel too bad when I killed him.
I wouldn’t lose sleep—not that I could.
In that moment, however, I couldn’t help but to think about Sookie—to reach out to our bond. I knew that she wouldn’t be so ready to accept that I was willing to kill in order to get to her. But I didn’t give a fuck. I would always kill to protect those I loved.
She’d just have to live with that.
The operative word being live.
Nora spoke. “General Cavanaugh, we deeply regret that Roman’s not here, but can we do anything to help you?”
“That is absurd,” Rosalyn lied—badly. “Those factories were bombed by terrorists.”
Her words were too obligatory—too readied—to sound true. The general picked up on this too.
“Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, Rosalyn,” he chided. “The US government and this Authority have an arrangement. The arrangement is called mainstreaming. It means you don’t fuck with us, and we don’t fuck with you. Now—I’ve been working with Roman to protect this Authority for twenty years. But this time you’ve gone too far. There are high-level talks at the Pentagon right now about how to eradicate vampires from the face of the planet. So I need to speak with Roman!” he finished firmly.
All the vampires at the table looked at each other. I wouldn’t have minded being the bearer of bad news, but Bill spoke before I could.
“Roman is no longer with us,” he said with a hint of challenge in his tone.
“How?” the general asked.
Operation bear poking was going forward—full fucking steam ahead.
Nora seemed to pick up on my operation. Good for her.
“This is a Sanguinist regime now. Lilith has guided us to our rightful place, and there we shall lead all vampire-kind,” she said passionately.
Right. I almost scoffed. That would be Roman and his deep pocketbook—I’d imagine. The general was probably just pissed off that his “sugar-daddy” was no more.
He had no idea that I would soon be his “daddy”—just not in the way he wanted.
“Roman was an infidel who defied the word of Lilith,” Kibwe said. “And now he’s gone.”
I smirked. Unwittingly, everyone in the room was playing right into my hands—as if I were the puppet master this time.
I refrained from rolling my eyes—barely—as he spoke.
“You strike me as a man of integrity, General Cavanaugh. Also a pragmatist,” Bill added, as he walked around the table as if he were always meant to be at its head. “Now this is the situation that we find ourselves in. You can join us or not. I sincerely hope that you choose the path forward,” he finished significantly.
The general put his hat on the table and pulled a data storage device out of his pocket. “We have video of Russell Edgington and Steve Newlin eviscerating twenty-two fraternity brothers at the local Gamma Kappa Tau house last night. There are copies of this. If anything happens to me now or in the future . . . .”
As the general spoke, Nora looked at me—to me. For my own part, I almost laughed out loud. I bet the fuckers regretted killing Molly now! The feisty techy could have likely tracked down and erased any electronic trails.
Cavanaugh had continued his diatribe. “. . . this is gonna be released to the public. You assured the world—you assured the president—that Russell Edgington was dead, and you lied! So if that video goes viral, the human population is gonna rise up against vampires faster than you can say ‘Molotov cocktail.'”
“Your threats are empty, General,” Nora said. Good girl. Clearly, she was on board with my train of thought.
“Are you really that stupid?” Cavanaugh responded incredulously. “We’re prepared. You don’t think we’ve been planning for this? We have weapons. Weapons you have never heard of. We own the day. Vampires don’t stand a fucking chance! Now there’s only one person standing between you and all-out war with the humans, and you’re looking at him. So I suggest you think very carefully about what you say next.” He paused and looked at each of us in turn.
I knew he wasn’t bluffing.
“That’s what I thought,” he said spitefully, picking up his hat and turning to leave the room.
Nora and I shared another look—hers cautioning me not to act.
I weighed the pros and cons.
On the one hand—the well-being of my kind.
On the other—the well-being of my bonded.
I had always been a selfish creature—very fucking selfish.
What the general had said did concern me, but it was a concern for another night.
“Oh God,” he said, understanding from my expression that he was well and truly fucked.
“Oh my,” Rosalyn practically purred. I smelled her arousal at my decisive actions from across the room. Clearly she would have loved to have fucked me on the general’s corpse in that moment, but—until she got some fashion sense—I just couldn’t take her seriously.
Maybe I could hook her up with Pam.
Nah—I thought to myself—Pam wouldn’t like Rosalyn. Not at all.
[Context reminder: The last bit of the previous scene is sort of an inside joke. You might remember that one of Rosalyn’s progenies had taken over as sheriff of Area 5 in Eric’s absence. Tara eventually kills him. But Rosalyn feels this and goes to Fangtasia. Pam will confess to the act and will be taken into custody. Meanwhile, Jessica was sent by Bill to turn Jason, but she didn’t. Following this, she seeks sanctuary in Fangtasia. And we get this awesome line from Pam: “Since when did I become a half-way house for wayward baby vamps?” (Gotta love Pam’s one-liners.) Rosalyn will see Jessica at Fangtasia. That’s how Jessica and Pam are eventually brought to the Authority.]
“Do you have any idea what you have done?” Kibwe asked.
“He was a dick,” I said evenly—arrogantly.
“I’m glad he killed the bloated windbag,” Rosalyn crooned.
Maybe I’d misjudged her. Maybe she was a MILF. I looked at her more closely and sighed. Nope. She could be, but not without a bit of help with her truly horrible wardrobe.
“They have weapons,” Kibwe said fearfully. “Now we’re vulnerable.”
“He was bluffing,” Rosalyn responded cockily, still appraising me—wanting me.
I winked at her.
“I’m just saying I have known this rattlesnake. I knew his family,” Rosalyn said, winking back at me. I could learn to like Bad-suit Rosalyn. But I would never sleep with her.
“Shut up, Rosalyn!” Salome said, desperately. Truly, they were pathetic. Had they really been following Lilith, they would have never even contemplated working with humans—no matter what weapons they had!
“We need to clear this up,” Bill said practically.
Ah—practicality! My favorite language!
“What do we do?” Kibwe asked.
Seriously! Hadn’t these people been in government long enough to know how to clean up a mess without panicking?
But the perfect opportunity for me to insert myself into the situation—as the solution.
“Listen!” I said loudly, getting everyone’s attention. “I admit, I might have been a bit impulsive here, but I can fix this. I’ll go on a glamouring campaign, eliminate all memory that the video exists. It’ll be like none of this ever happened,” I added.
“Yes,” Nora chimed in, following my lead, “and I know the general’s chief of staff. If we act quickly, we can contain the situation.”
Salome looked at her most trusted associate. “Okay, go. Take the AVL jet and report back when it is done.”
“Take a security detail,” Bill said through narrowed eyes. “Might need the backup.”
“Of course,” I said evenly—as if an escort had been in my plans all along. Honestly, it didn’t matter. Russell was older than me. So was Salome—though she was no warrior. Other than them, I was the oldest vampire in the fucking compound! And no security detail of two would be able to do a damned thing once Nora and I were clear of the area.
I checked my bond with Sookie. She was still feeling a myriad of emotions. I was just glad that one of them wasn’t intense fear.
I looked at Nora to signal that I was about to make my move as we approached a stoplight turning from yellow to red.
A red light equaled “go” in my world.
“You guys mind if I change the station?” I asked the storm troopers Bill had sent to guard/protect us.
One of them shook his head no. That would be his last mistake. The second to last error that he’d made had been placing a stake on the dashboard.
For easy access.
Easier for me.
It would have taken longer to adjust the dial.
Quickly, Nora and I exited the car.
I’d left my little Authority insignia—which reminded me of a fucking Star Trek badge—in the car.
We smiled at each other and then flew away before the light turned green.
I flew toward one thing and one thing only—my bonded. I wouldn’t reach her before dawn, but I would be close.
Nora followed me, but—even if she hadn’t—my destination would have been the same.
Whether she wanted me for her mate or not, Sookie Stackhouse would always have me for her protector.
I needed no green light to show me that.
A/N: This was another difficult section to write-as I had to try to explain why Eric killed Cavanaugh. I really do think it was all about escaping-and (I hope) to get to Sookie since danger was looming. I also felt the need to make Cavanaugh into a questionable figure. I think that his appearance kind of lends itself to my interpretation of him, however. He’s obviously willing to use blackmail to get what he wants. And-yes-his nickname is in “honor” of TB’s Buckey. 😉
Hope you enjoyed,
P.S. Who else is glad to be out of the Authority??? I’m so glad. My “rules” made me stay there and go through all that craziness, but it was so claustrophobic, even to my writing! Imagine how it was to Eric!