The Big Bang- A Sky Full of Stars
War brings opportunity. The opportunity for change, the opportunity for death, and the opportunity for the truly fanatical personality to not only exhibit itself but feed itself and grow.
Brian Jones what humming to himself softly as he worked his way through the ventilation shafts of Le Monde, the five star hotel that would be host to A Sky Full of Stars in two nights. He was posing as a repairman brought in to fix the broken air conditioning, which had in fact been sabotaged by another member of his Iron Fist cell that worked here on weekends a bartender. They had all marveled at the coincidence of Phil being employed at the very location of the much publicized event.
“It’s fate, brothers,” Brian had told them as they toasted their good fortune, dancing for joy at the opportunity they had been presented. Together they had planned how best to use this to their advantage, but their suggestions had left Brian cold. They were thinking like amateurs. He had sat back and let them get all worked up over their supposed big ideas, all the while making his own plans.
He would be the one to go in, and so he would be the one to decide what would happen. Continuing to hum as he worked his way through the shaft he let his mind wander to how proud his kids would be of him when he told them what he had done. How proud everyone would be. He would elevate their thinking and show them that unless they got serious about this thing they were going to lose their world to the Fae.
They would see. Then they would understand. You’ve got swing for the fence when fate puts you in the game.
“Vampires don’t get butterflies,” he growled in her ear as he helped her from the limousine at the red carpet entrance to A Sky Full of Stars. She giggled despite her nervousness, the tension easing for moment in her middle and thereby easing in his. He wanted to keep her relaxed, but didn’t dare drop his guard even for second. There were too many unknown variables that were beyond his control.
Before arriving tonight he had run probabilities with her, of what he suspected might happen and discussed what they would need to do if indeed one of these probabilities became their reality. At the end, the result was the same, either she would teleport them away, or he would take her and run. She had wanted to talk about what he would need to do if they were separated again, and he had listened and then followed it up with, “Not going to happen!”
“Experience tells me that in the end,” she had told him, her face buried in his chest, and his arms wrapped around her like steel bands, “It will be the thing that we didn’t see coming that gets us.” He had kissed her rough and hard then, a denial of her words and the situation they found themselves in.
They agreed that they would be most vulnerable when she gave her keynote speech for Brigant Industries, but she would also be safest at that point because the human world would be totally focused on her and little could be done with so many eyes watching. She was to leave the podium and return to him in the audience immediately, rather than heading backstage to return to him in a roundabout way. He wanted to be on the stage with her, but knew that was not a viable option. It would draw too much unnecessary attention to them both to have him standing there. Speculation would run rampant as to why she needed a guard at what as far as the human world was concerned was her own gala. She wanted the focus on her work, not her safety.
His eyes searched the crowd, trying to see beyond the blinding paparazzi flashbulbs and identify any dangers that were waiting for them. As expected The Iron Fist was out en masse chanting with their posters, but they were being held back by local law enforcement. The only thing that reached them was the ridiculous and repeated chant, “The Iron Fist Won’t Clap!” It was written all over their posters as well, and Eric avoided rolling his eyes at what he still considered to be the most ridiculous slogan of all time. Sookie waved and smiled to the people that pressed in on them as they made their way to the entrance, ignoring all the questions being shouted at her from the press and the public. They had agreed that she would forego the schmoozing to get inside as quickly as possible. They had also agreed that she would start to mentally search for Coleman as soon as they arrived.
They had just reached the door when he felt her stiffen at his side. “Got him,” she whispered and then, trusting Eric to guide her, she turned into Coleman’s mind and started digging. He had returned to Niall when Eric released him, and had fabricated a story about escaping because they had underestimated his ability to recover from the lemons. Niall had questioned him for hours, finally accepting that Coleman was telling the truth when he revealed that Alcide had been turned, playing that he had lingered longer to see what the outcome would be and whether he would survive.
Sookie bristled for a moment, and then let it go. They would have found out sooner or later, and she had insisted that he stay in Nevada tonight anyway. It was too risky even without his newborn status to have them both in the same place at the same time. If something were to happen, they needed The Albho to still have a leader. Of course, Alcide had tried to step out of that as well.
“I’m not equipped to lead the Fae anymore, Sookie, surely you see that,” he had told her on the phone when she called him after her return.
‘Oh, and how is that exactly?”
“You’re kidding right? How about the fact that I want to kill everyone who now works for me and drain them dry? Not exactly the foundation for inspiring loyalty.”
“What if it had been me, Alcide? What if I had been about to die and the only way to stop that from happening would have been for Eric to turn me? Step out of your feelings for a moment and look at this objectively. What would you have done if it were me?”
“YOU TOLD THEM TO DO THIS TO ME?” his scream was filled the rage and pain that he had been barely containing since he awakened to his new world.
“What the hell, Sookie? Why? Why would you do this to me?”
“You are my second in command, one of my oldest friends, and I could not bear the thought of losing you. You are irreplaceable, Alcide, in more ways than you know. Tell me that if the situation were reversed you would not have done the same for me, and I will let you go right now.” Silence filled the line for several moments as her words sank in.
“I can’t,” he finally growled out, and she heard a loud crash come from his office as he vented his frustration on his furniture.
“You are now one of the most powerful beings that I know of in existence. Aside from the initial prejudices and assuming you can manage to not eat your staff, you are better positioned than ever to run Nevada and The Albho. Can you still walk in the sun, Alcide?”
“Yes,” he answered her, his voice filled with emotion as he thought of his worst fear from all of this, that he would be forced to walk the night forever. However he had found the morning he returned to Nevada with Pam that he could walk in the sun and did not die every day as vampires do. He had been ecstatic, until the hunger had overcome him again and he had been forced to take sustenance. Then, faced with the reality of what he was again, he had spiraled back into depression and anger, which is where Sookie’s phone call had found him.
She took a deep breath, relieved to hear that he could still move in daylight and then shifted tactics again. “Then I need you to stop being such a little bitch about this and fairy up!”
“Little bitch?” he asked her incredulously.
“Yes, that’s right. It’s done now, and there is no going back. I need you to get off your ass and on your feet and do what needs to be done. Clear?” She heard the phone creak in his hand as he searched for a reply.
“Clear” he finally managed to spit out.
“I could have stopped them Alcide, I chose not to. Pam did what she did out of love and fear of losing you, something that I believe you would have done for her as well as me. Your anger is misdirected if you are targeting her. She did it, but I am the one who chose to let it happen. If you have to be an ass to someone, then put it where it belongs. And where it belongs,” her tone becoming more strident to get her point across,” Is right under the allegiance you swore to our cause and to me. If we survive this, there will be plenty of time for you to hate me, and if we don’t then none of this really matters does it?”
“You sound like, Eric. He told me that the night I woke up.”
“He is where he is for a reason. So are you.”
She knew that telling him to stay away tonight was the right move strategically, but part of her wished her were here. Forcing herself to focus on Coleman she dug deeper to see what else she could learn. A moment later she froze mid-step forcing Eric to stop beside her.
“No,” she whispered, her emotions spinning out of control and sending Eric into a tailspin. He immediately began searching the crowd for what she was sensing, all the while moving them to the nearest wall, placing himself in front of her.
“What is it?” She sobbed before answering, fighting to get control of her pain and anger.
“They have started Z-Pop. He wants to find you and tell you tonight. There was nothing he could do to stop it without revealing himself. He’s very frightened that you won’t believe him and that you will carry through on your threats against his family.” She started digging again and found out that the first contamination’s had been carried out in the highest populated cities around the world. They would branch out from there, working down to the rural areas last, but their plan was very well orchestrated.
“Is there nothing we can do?” Eric asked her, still watching the crowd and sheltering her as she recovered from this latest information. She shook her head.
“Maybe, their drugs are well designed, and only require a single introduction into the water supplies to affect the populace.” She hesitated a moment and then clenched her jaw. “Phase two, is also underway, that one they are starting in the rural areas and working back to the major population on. Niall…” she hesitated then. “Niall upped the time table and launched both initiatives as two prong attack when he failed to capture me. Too many variables and he felt too at risk to wait. Fuck!” Her butterflies had been burned in the fires of the rage now churning inside her.
Eric, while deeply disturbed by what she had revealed, forced himself to remain focused on where they were and worried that now the cards were on the table that Sookie would lose all sight of self-preservation and launch herself directly at Niall in retaliation. “Aqua Phineas?” he asked , trying to keep her focused on damage control, now that stopping the plan was completely out the window. She nodded and registered that Eric had his phone out immediately.
“Aqua Phineas,” he said and terminated the call immediately. She took a moment that they didn’t really have to admire the man before her. Aqua Phineas had been his idea. She had asked him to take her from the moment and show her what might happen so that she could be prepared and he had out performed even her wildest expectations.
Anticipating that they might fail to stop the introduction of sterility producing chemicals into the water supplies he had suggested that they organize The Albho Water Fae to try and remove the chemicals through magical means. It was the best shot they had to lessen the impact to the human population and they were about to find out how well it would work. Teams all over the world would now go into motion to track and locate the chemicals and hopefully remove them before too much damage could occur. She reached up then, placing a hand on his face, making him look at her, and she felt herself come back together and locked onto a center of calm.
“You really are brilliant, my love,” she told him staring deeply into his eyes. He allowed himself a small smile at her compliment before shifting his attention back their location and the people who were moving around them.
“We need to move,” he told her. She nodded and took his arm again, ready to head deeper into the belly of the beast. She forced herself to start scanning again looking for information or threats that they would need to face before the evening was over.
I’ve never seen you look more like a Queen than you do now, he sent to her as she took the podium to deliver her speech. She looked at him and smiled, letting him know that she heard him, as she waited for the applause to settle. She was about three minutes in when his phone vibrated in his pocket. Taking it out he saw a number he didn’t recognize.
“Yes,” he answered curtly.
“Plan B is to add lemon juice to the water storage for the building and then trigger the sprinkler system in the middle of the party.” Eric recognized the glamoured voice of his former Nevada captive and bit back his urge to drop fang in the middle of the crowded party.
“Twenty-one hundred hours.” Eric glanced at his watch, he had less than ten minutes.
“I hope it kills every one of those fairy fu-” Eric disconnected the call, looking around and spotted Niall looking at him from left of the stage. He immediately began to make his way toward him. Several of Niall’s fairy guards rose to intervene but Niall motioned them to step back and let Eric approach. He got right to the point.
“The Iron Fist is planning to flood this place with lemon juice filled water in less than ten minutes,” he told Niall, leaning close to keep the conversation from prying human ears. Niall looked at him, his contempt shining clear.
“You have bewitched my granddaughter with your lies, what makes you think you can do the same to me?” he asked coldly. Eric looked at the man before him and tried very hard not to rip him to pieces. There had to be some way to get him to see what was happening around him. There had to be some way to reach him before it was too late.
“Why are you doing this?” Niall blinked and stepped back, reassessing the vampire before him.
“I do only what needs to be done.” It was in that moment that Eric saw the man behind the curtain for himself. It had been easy to see him as some evil looming figure in the dark, a faceless enemy to fight in this battle that he had decided to join, but when faced with the man himself, it shaped up a little differently. He looked deeper then, trying to see the man that must be in there somewhere to have raised a woman like Sookie. Only a truly extraordinary individual could have had a hand in creating his beloved. An extraordinary individual that had somehow in trying to save his people had lost his way.
Looking into his soul Eric saw the weight of what he was doing bearing down on Niall. From his perspective, he was saving his race from their own destruction. What he was doing now had started in place of great love, it had just gotten twisted somewhere along the way.
“Sometimes, when we start a thing, we can’t see how it will turn away from our hands and into someone else’s. We can’t see how they will twist it and change it into something that is far from what it started out to be.”
Eric’s words tore at Niall as though he had landed a punch on him and he was torn between killing the vampire that stood before and taking him by the arm and forcing him to tell him if the rumors were true, that he loved Sookie and that she loved him. He could barely fathom such a thing as possible but all his spies told him the same thing over and over. The two of them from their political alliance had bloomed into a love affair for the ages. Hearing Eric’s words to him now he could almost understand why she would love him. He reminded Niall just a little of himself, or rather the self he had been before he had taken the weight of his world on his shoulders and placed their welfare above all else.
“I do what I do for my granddaughter herself, and all our kind!” Niall responded, feeling that he had to defend himself, and growing angrier at the realization that he defending himself to a vampire!
“If that is true then you will hear me now. The Iron Fist is planning to attack the Fae here, and if they succeed, not only will everyone here be at risk that you care about, Sookie will be their main target. You have six minutes to get everyone out of here!” The crowd was applauding now, Sookie’s speech was done and she was descending the main stage back into the crowd as they had planned, but Eric was not there to greet her.
Instead, at the front of the stage stood The Council themselves, arms open to greet her. Eric saw Morgana, her grandmother, hug her first and whisper something in Sookie’s ear that he could not hear over the applause but he felt a flash of pure terror from his bonded as they turned to find him standing next to Niall across the room, a sea of people between them. One by one he cataloged the ancient supernaturals that formed a buttress behind Sookie. Bartolos, the Demon, Ramsey the Were, Octavia the Witch, Acara the D’jinn, and Samuel the Shifter. He heard Niall gasp beside him as he took in the meaning of this display.
The Council had aligned itself with Sookie and The Albho. They might not be willing to set race against race, but they wanted it to be clear to all who were present they stood united with her against The Ciar, and against Niall.
Everything in Eric wanted to grab Sookie and run, but he had a chance here and now to get through to Niall and put a stop to this once and for all. It was a chance he could not pass up. He turned back to Niall, counting the seconds in his mind, knowing when he would need to cut and run and get her out. He planned to use every second he had left to reach Niall.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw her making her way to his side through the crowd and he knew he had to talk fast. “Help me get them all of here and then we can sit down and talk about the best way to resolve this for all parties.” His words were lost on Niall, who had just had the remainder of his self-delusion shatter when he saw The Council unite against him. Until that moment he had hung a lot of justification for his actions on the fact that The Council had not intervened. He had taken their lack of action as consent for what he was doing. He had allowed himself to believe that Sookie was just misguided and that if he could talk to her one on one that she would come to see his way was the best way for their people.
But now, he saw those delusions for what they were. If The Council agreed with Sookie, then perhaps the vampire at his side was right, and he had lost his way. He felt numb inside and sick to his stomach at the things he had done. He turned to Eric and opened his mouth to speak.
If Brian Jones had been a better man he likely would not have crawled through the ventilation shafts at Le Monde two days before A Sky Full of Stars. If he had been a better demolition expert his bomb would have gone off at 21:00 as planned, but he was neither a good man nor a good demolition expert, from there it all fell like dominos.
The clock he selected was defective and on sale in the bargain bin for that reason. The clerk who had put it back on the shelf for re-sale should have returned it the manufacturer, but that was too much paperwork and she didn’t want to be bothered that day with forms in triplicate.
It’s the little things, that don’t seem connected at all that wind up having the biggest impacts in our lives.
Before Niall could speak the first explosion rocked the building and ceiling gave in above the ballroom falling in massive chunks on the unsuspecting people below. A few had just enough time to look up before their lives were extinguished by the falling debris. Eric’s eyes were on Sookie and as the first explosion started he saw her light up and then he felt her hand on his arm.
He turned to look at Niall, reaching for him and in that split second he saw Niall’s pain and regret for not listening to him, and for so many other things as well. He saw Niall deliberately step back and under a chunk of debris that would have missed him. The last thing he saw before Sookie teleported him out was a look of peace settle on Niall’s features and then he was gone, buried under a ton of rubble and Eric was lost in the purple.
She put him on the sidewalk and moved to go back when he grabbed her, “No! You can’t go back. The sprinklers are loaded with lemon juice!” She jerked from his grasp and started walking toward the hotel ignoring him. He moved in front her, grabbing her shoulders, “Stop, Sookie! You can’t go back, The Fist has sabotaged the sprinkler system. It would kill you to go back in there now.”
” You go then,” she ground out, still pushing her way back. “Bring them out to me and I will take them home.”
He nodded once and then was gone. One by one be brought out the wounded and the dead. If they were human he laid them on the red carpet, but the supernaturals he stopped in the doorway next to where Sookie waited and she teleported them away. Eric took off his jacket so she could touch them and not be damaged, not that she cared at this point. She wanted to burn but she knew that it would inhibit her ability to do what needed to be done, so she had taken his jacket and tried to protect her skin as much as possible as she took them home.
In that moment she didn’t care if they were Ciar or Albho, she only cared they were Fae and therefore kindred. The other supernaturals in attendance received the same careful treatment from her. She waited for Eric to bring out The Council members who had come tonight to align with her and when he brought out Samuel the Shifter and he was dead she screamed her rage and denial of the loss. One by one he brought The Council out, and one by one she took them home, all dead. Morgana, her grandmother was last, hanging on by a thread. Eric laid her gently on the ground and Sookie knelt beside her crying as she watched the light and life fade from the only mother she had ever known.
Morgana reached up to touch her face and then stopped when she realized that she was covered in lemons. She smiled instead, through her blistered face and whispered, “Find Pythia, when all seems darkest, find Pythia.” Sookie gasped realizing for the first time that the Ancient Pythoness had not been in attendance tonight. Silently, she gave thanks for her safety, and then broke into sobs a moment later as her grandmother died and she couldn’t even hug her goodbye. Eric wanted to hold her as she cried but he was covered in lemon juice from the sprinklers and she was denied his consolation as well. His heart was breaking for her, and then he felt the shift in her emotions so suddenly he rocked back.
“I think my grandfather was right,” she said coldly as she looked across the street and the protesters who had now gathered back and began to chant and laugh at the misery that one of their own had caused. Shouts of “We Won’t Clap!” rang through the air and he felt her grow colder in the bond as if every emotion had drained out of her. The air around them was still full of dust and the building was moaning on its foundation, trying to decide if it was going to stand or fall completely. Eric had pulled out all the human survivors and all the supernaturals, dead or alive had been teleported away except Morgana, and Niall’s remains. “Get my grandfather, Eric, please.” he was gone and back in less than a minute with Niall’s body wrapped in a table cloth, he had been totally crushed and he had not wanted Sookie to see that.
The sirens were growing closer when Sookie, still kneeling, put one hand on Morgana, and one on Eric who held her grandfather’s remains and she teleported them all home Fae.