A/N: I'm overwhelmed at the reviews for the last chapter; thank you all so very, very much! This chapter is dedicated to Simaril, whose reviews always make me laugh even while leaving me with something interesting to think about. ~Sari~

Disclaimer: All characters belonging to the Twilight Series are the property of Stephenie Meyer, I'm just playing with them; however, I do own a very warped sense of humor. This story contains mature content, and if you're not 18, you shouldn't be reading it.

Chapter Nine

Nothing Is Ever Easy

Unknown POV

They were fully mated now, and it would be harder than ever to get her away from him. The impatient bastard! If only he'd waited a little longer to claim her as his; my plans were almost ready to be put into effect. Everyone was so very easy to deceive; a few inquiries here and there and I'd easily found out everything I needed to know without half-trying. The only ones who seemed to be reserving their trust toward me were Peter and Jasper, and so long as I stayed out of their way, everything should go exactly according to plan. They were so busy getting organized and bedding their mates that they had little time left to wonder about me, and I was too well-trained to slip up now.

Stephan himself had groomed me for this role from the day I'd been turned, and I wouldn't disappoint my master. From the moment he'd told me of our destiny, I'd been his willing accomplice, intuitively understanding even through the newborn confusion that he saw things as they were meant to be. I had been all too eager to help him gather information on this coven for several years, focusing on learning everything about them and their abilities, and it was finally going to pay off. The only difficult part had been finding a way into it to start with, and Jasper had unknowingly provided exactly the opportunity we'd been looking for. I'd take great pleasure in seeing the look on his face when he realized what he'd helped to set in motion, it would make the role I was being forced to play almost worth it for its sheer entertainment value alone.

I couldn't wait to return home in victory, not only for the sake of the rewards that would come along with it, but so that I could once more resume my natural diet. Living off of animal blood was for the weak and feeble-minded, an insult to everything we were meant to be as vampires, and it was just an added reason to destroy this coven and wipe their foolish ideas from the face of the earth. We were bred to be at the top of the food chain, natural predators that laid claim to what we could take and hold, not to be the protectors of humanity. They were our natural food source, nothing more than cattle to be led to the slaughter at our leisure, and I couldn't wait for the new world we'd soon be living in. It was going to be glorious, and I'd be standing on the right side of the Kings who would rule it with an iron fist.

Bella's POV

It was difficult to wrap my mind around everything that had happened over the last few hours, even though I was lying here in Jasper's arms, my body still tingling from the after-effects of his claiming. I idly traced the mark he'd placed on my neck once more, smiling to myself as I felt the slightly-raised flesh in the shape of his teeth. Had anyone asked me even a few days ago how I'd feel about being in this position, I'd have laughed my ass off at them for even suggesting it. The thought of being claimed would have been enough to anger me and invoke the fierce independence I'd always been known for, leading me to state in no uncertain terms that I'd only ever belong to myself and no other. So much had changed in such a small amount of time that my head was still spinning as I tried to come to terms with it all.

A part of me wondered if becoming a vampire had changed me more than just physically, if it had also altered my perceptions of certain things. While my mind was telling me that I should be bothered by Jasper's talk of me being his, the truth was that I liked it. It made me feel not just wanted, but needed, as if I were an integral part of his life, one that was required in order for him to be happy. That sense of being needed, of being special to one particular person, was something I had never known before, and there was quite a large part of me that was secretly thrilled every time he told me I belonged to him. If asked, I probably wouldn't be able to fully explain why that was, but I wasn't really concerned with the why at this point. Belonging to Jasper simply felt right, as if it was part of the natural course of my life, and despite my previous views on the subject, I was just as thrilled at the thought of him belonging to me. He was mine, and I was his; it was that simple.

I also had to admit to myself that there were definitely certain perks that came with belonging to him. If claiming me ensured we'd often be doing the activities of the last several hours, I was going to be one happy woman for the rest of eternity. My body was still tingling from the effects of his lovemaking, all my nerves still hyper-alert and responsive to his slightest touch. I'd had no idea my body was capable of the feelings his touch evoked within it, and while I was slightly embarrassed by the copious amount of noise I'd made during our mating, I was more than ready for a repeat performance. What woman in her right mind wouldn't be? True, I had no previous experience to compare it to, but I was pretty damn sure that what we'd just shared was something extraordinary. My mate had left me breathless, boneless, and utterly satisfied; what more could a woman ask for?

The perks went far beyond the physical, though. If I'd had to sit down and make a list of every trait I wished to find in a mate, there's nothing I could have listed that Jasper didn't already possess, and he had a few qualities that I wouldn't have even thought to list but that I was very grateful for. He was a man of contradictions; soft and gentle one moment, and a hardened warrior the next. The dichotomy of this had confused me at first, but the more I learned of him, the more sense it actually made. His past had forced him to find an inner strength that most men were never required to tap into, honing him into a force to be reckoned with, both on and off the battlefield. With everything going on currently, there really was no better man to be standing at my side than the God of War, not only for his battle prowess, but for his strength of mind and spirit. He was a man a woman could be proud to stand beside, and I was damned glad he was mine.

"You're awful quiet there, darlin'. Everything alright?" Jasper asked, his fingers idly stroking through my hair. It was such a soothing feeling that I only just barely managed to stop myself from purring. As comforting as his purring was to me, I still found it odd to do so myself, considering I associated it with felines and I wasn't exactly furry.

"I'm fine, Jasper, just lost in my thoughts," I replied, nuzzling my cheek against his chest as I reveled in the fact that this man was mine. I had the oddest urge to bite him as he'd done to me, to leave a mark upon his body that would clearly state to others that he belonged to me, but I was hesitant to give him yet another scar when he carried so many already. The urge was growing, however, and I knew I would not be able to let go of it until I'd either acted upon it or been told not to. There wouldn't be any harm in asking him about it; the worst he could do was refuse.

"Jasper, is it... um... normal for me to want to bite you?" I asked, glad he wasn't able to see my face, for I was sure my embarrassment over asking that question would be readily apparent. At least I wasn't able to blush anymore! He chuckled softly, one finger sliding beneath my chin to lift my face to his, forcing me to meet his knowing smirk despite my resistance.

"It's perfectly natural, darlin'. We're mates, and the urge to mark each other to let the world know it is a natural one for vampires. In addition to the mark, itself, we leave our scent behind in the venom that's injected during the bite, which serves as a warning to other vampires that we've been mated and are off-limits. We're extremely territorial creatures, and very possessive over what is ours, especially when it comes to our mates." His face had been gradually lowering to mine as he spoke, and as he finished, he brushed my lips with his in a gentle caress, catching the lower one between his teeth and sucking on it lightly. I felt a small current of warmth move through me, and was amazed at how such a simple kiss could awaken my body after everything we'd just done. His lips left mine only to trail across my jaw until he reached my ear, where he whispered the rest, sending a shiver through me. "I'd be honored to wear your mark, my mate, just as you wear mine."

His words caused me to purr as I tangled my fingers in his hair, pulling his lips back to mine in a deep, demanding kiss. Our tongues battled for dominance, and I refused to surrender to his, instead pushing against his shoulders as I rolled on top of him, determined to have my wicked way with him this time. I heard him chuckle as I straddled his hips, my hands enjoying their freedom to roam his body at will, and I leaned down to trail moist, open-mouthed kisses down his neck, stopping now and then to nibble softly. I would never be able to get enough of his taste. My hands kneaded the muscles of his chest as my kisses moved lower, and I heard him moan softly as I took a nipple into my mouth, lightly nipping at it with my teeth before sucking strongly. Knowing I could bring him pleasure was definitely arousing to me, and I wanted to see just how far he'd let me go. Despite my inexperience with intimacy of this type, I felt free with him in a way that I could easily get used to, and I was definitely ready for a new experience.

I laved a moist trail with my tongue down the center of his chest, following the path my hands were exploring, stopping to lightly circle his navel as my nails gently scratched down his sides, eliciting another moan from him that went straight to my core. Moving to kneel between his legs, I took my time reaching my ultimate goal before wrapping my hands around his hardened cock and beginning to stroke him slowly, almost teasingly. His hands fell to fist into my hair as I lightly licked the underside of his cock from base to tip, holding on without forcing any movement, and I grinned against him as I felt his hips twitch in response. His taste was as sweet as his scent, and I craved more of it.

Growing more bold, I took him fully into my mouth, grateful that my gag reflex no longer existed, and I swirled my tongue around him as I began to move my lips up and down his length, sucking strongly. I had no real idea of what I was doing, so I was gauging my actions by his reactions, and his grunts and moans of pleasure told me he was enjoying my ministrations as much as I was. I then scraped my teeth lightly along him, and his hips bucked up, forcing him more deeply into my mouth as I increased my pace, one hand reaching down to cup and roll his balls while the other stroked along his inner thighs, gently scratching with my nails.

"Fuck, Bella... so fucking good," he moaned, his hands tightening in my hair in the most delicious way, his hips beginning to thrust in time with my mouth as if he was fucking it. "That's it, baby... take all of me." His words were only increasing the moisture between my legs, and I knew he was able to smell my arousal by the deep breaths he was taking. I never thought I'd be one to enjoy dirty pillow talk, but I had to admit it was damned sexy coming from him, his soft southern drawl almost a caress in and of itself as it fell upon me like warm honey.

"Do you like it when I talk to you, darlin'?" he asked, and I murmured my assent around his cock as I increased my pace still further, knowing he was getting close. I tugged gently at his balls, relishing in the sounds he was making as I pleasured him with my mouth and hands, and I could now understand his enjoyment of tasting me earlier.

Suddenly, my body was in motion as I was flipped over, his knees landing on either side of my shoulders as he clasped my wrists in his hands, pulling them over my head, his hips never stopping the motion of his cock moving in and out of my mouth. He eyes were locked onto mine, the heat in his igniting my body, and I felt a rush of warm liquid between my thighs in response. This new position awoke feelings in me that were strange, yet appealing, and I found myself enjoying the more submissive posture. His whole manner seemed to change into a more dominant, commanding one, and it was the sexiest thing I'd ever seen.

"Do you like having my cock in your mouth, darlin'? Do you enjoy pleasuring me like this?" he asked, and all I could do was hum an emphatic agreement around his cock. Though I was pleasuring him, the act was also pleasuring me in very unexpected ways, and I swirled my tongue around him with feverish intensity as my own need quickly rose to match his. Between his words and his cock in my mouth, I was almost ready to cum and he hadn't even really touched me yet.

The look of focus on his face intensified, and with a few more thrusts of his hips, he let out a roar loud enough to rattle the glass in the windows as he climaxed, his delicious essence filling my mouth as I eagerly swallowed it. His eyes never left my face as he watched me lick my lips in response to his taste, and they darkened to pitch as he purred softly in satisfaction, slowly backing away and moving to lay at my side, taking both of my wrists into one of his hands. His free hand began stroking along my body, his touch light and teasing as he tweaked my nipples into hardened nubs, and I squirmed beneath him as my hips sought to find the friction I so desperately needed to ease the fast-growing ache between my thighs. His hand slowly moved to my core, his thumb beginning to lightly circle my bundle of nerves as one finger made teasing circles around my entrance, increasing my need, and I moaned loudly at the sensations moving through me. He knew exactly how to play my body like a finely-tuned instrument, and he lowered his head to place his lips right next to my ear, each whisper brushing them against the sensitive flesh there, each word adding to the growing tension within me.

"Tell me what you need, baby," he commanded, then chuckled softly as my hips thrust upwards in a silent response. "You have to tell me, darlin'. How can I please you fully if you can't tell me what you need?" The smug smirk on his face told me he knew exactly what he was doing to me, and I squirmed in embarrassed protest; there was no way I could actually say the words, and if I was still able to blush, I knew I'd be bright red right now. After a few moments of silence from me, he penetrated me with one finger, his thumb still making lazy circles around my nub as he began to thrust in and out of me in a pace that was guaranteed to drive me mad if he didn't increase it soon.

"Jasper, please..." I finally begged in a whisper; no matter how I moved my hips, I couldn't get more than what he was willing to give me, and I was slowly losing my mind. My wrists strained against his hand, but his grip was immovable without being painful, and it was obvious that my hands were not moving anywhere until he decided to let them. Another chuckle wafted past my ear, and I growled in frustration. He was going to make me say the words, and I was so close to giving in. My body needed release, and the tension coiling in my abdomen was becoming too much to bear.

"Uh uh, darlin'. I need the words. Unless you'd like me to stop?" he teased, and I immediately moaned in protest of that idea. I knew he wasn't going to give in on this, and I mustered up every bit of courage I had to give him the words he was demanding before I spontaneously combusted from his touch.

"I need... I need you inside me," I finally whispered, closing my eyes and mewling softly in frustration. I was aching for him. His whisper reached my ear once more, and I almost went into core meltdown at his words; they teased my ear like a caress and any thoughts of embarrassment flew out the window.

"You want me to fuck you, darlin'?" he asked, and my entire body shivered in response to the images his words conjured within my mind. "If you do, you need to tell me, sweetheart. Just tell me what you need, baby, and I'll be happy to give it to you."

He added a second finger to the first as he spoke, thrusting strongly once and then again, and my mewls grew louder as he brought me right to the edge of release but refused to let me cross over into ecstasy. I wanted him inside of me more than I'd ever wanted anything else in my life, and I was almost sobbing with need as my hips writhed helplessly against his hand. Rational thought was gone, replaced with a burning need that I'd do anything to fill.

"Yes!" I almost shouted. "Please fuck me..." Before the pleading words were fully out of my mouth, he was moving between my legs, his hand releasing my wrists as both of them moved to my hips. He was fully sheathed in me with a single strong thrust, and I screamed out as the aching need was satisfied. I could feel my inner walls tightening around him already, I was so close to the edge that it wouldn't take much at all to throw me over it.

He lifted me up so I was sitting astride his hips, his arms wrapping tightly around me as he set a hard and fast rhythm, each thrust hitting spots inside of me that I hadn't known were there. Sounds I'd never before made were coming from me, and I couldn't find it within myself to care. I was utterly lost in the pleasure, my hips matching his every movement, and he tangled one hand in my hair, tilting my head back to lick along the mark he'd given me before bringing my mouth to his own neck just as I neared my peak.

"Bite me when you cum. Cum now, Bella!" he commanded, suddenly changing the angle of his hips and hitting a spot that made me literally see stars as I was forcefully thrown over the edge and my body was engulfed in pure pleasure. As I crested the peak, I bit down, partially muffling my screams against his neck as my body shuddered helplessly beneath the onslaught of sensation.

As my teeth broke his skin, I felt my venom flowing into him just as he reached his own climax with a roar of my name, and I could feel the connection between us intensifying as I marked his shuddering body. The feeling was indescribably wonderful, and all I could do was sob quietly in his arms as we slowly came down from the high. He was finally mine.

Aro's POV

The cloaked man standing before me didn't look like a powerful Spiritwalker. He was slight of build, with nondescript features and rather unkempt brown hair, not a single characteristic that would cause him to stand out in a crowd. Even his aura of power was so subtle that most would simply pass it off as a slight breeze or errant thought that momentarily caught their attention. However, despite all this, the man was going to be the key to my ultimate success against the enemies that were even now gathering against me. The attack we'd just returned from may have failed, but I always had a backup plan, and I was impatiently waiting for him to set it into motion.

"Are you certain they'll follow your commands, Spiritwalker?" I asked. "She cannot be harmed in the attempt. We need her alive, at all costs."

"Do not fear, my King. My servants will get the job done to your specifications, and will cause havoc among the opposition. They have never seen the likes of what I will be sending them, and will have no idea how to defeat them. Success is guaranteed." His voice was the only thing that hinted at his true age, its slow cadence rich with knowledge and power. It had taken a lot of hard work to sway him to my cause, but if he was successful, it would be more than worth the time and effort I'd invested in him.

"Good, good. Let us begin, then!" I stepped back, giving him plenty of room to work as my brothers and the Guard looked on in rapt interest. Few outsiders had ever had the privilege of seeing the Spiritwalkers work first-hand, and the excited murmurings of the onlookers filled the throne room.

He began to softly chant beneath his breath, the words spoken in a language older than myself. As his voice increased in volume, it contained a new reverberation that seemed to inundate the very air itself with power. The shadows of the room seemed drawn to him, and as they danced at his feet, they began to take shape, soon forming creatures the likes of which I'd never before seen or heard of. Their faces were monstrous, their features barely formed as if only half-molded from mottled gray clay, and twisted to the side as if slightly skewed. Their veins rested atop their skin instead of beneath, and fluid could be seen running through them in a macabre pulsing that was accompanied by a horrid stench. Ungainly limbs were covered in fibrous growths that flexed in time with their veins, though the inherent strength within their muscled bodies was apparent. In some ways, they looked far more like horrific golems than spirits, but it was certain that their appearance would instill fear in anyone they encountered. Unearthly cries filled the cavernous room as they impatiently awaited their master's command, and certainty rose within me that the girl would be within my grasp very soon.

"Go," he hissed. "You know whom you seek. Destroy her guardians and bring her to us." With those words, the utter darkness within the hearts of the shadow creatures seemed to intensify briefly before they vanished, leaving behind nothing but the sound of air rushing to fill a void.

Jasper's POV

"What are you thinking?" Bella whispered, lying curled into my side as I held her to me, luxuriating in the afterglow of our most recent bout of lovemaking. It was adorable how shy she'd been when I'd told her to ask for what she wanted, but I was determined to show her all sides of myself, and she needed to accept the more dominant Major as easily as she accepted the rest of me. Despite her shyness, I knew it had added to her arousal as much as it had excited me. I should have been surprised that she'd enjoyed it, considering how shy she could be about certain things, but in truth, I was just grateful that she was as passionate as I. I had strong needs, and knowing that she was a good match in that was both a relief and sexy as all fuck. I was a lucky man.

"I'm thinking that I never want to leave this bed, darlin'. I'm enjoying the fact that you're finally here in my arms where you belong." I felt her lips curl into a smile against my chest, and my unbeating heart danced at the contentment she was radiating in that moment. It matched my own perfectly, and I would happily spend the rest of eternity making sure she was always this content.

"I wouldn't mind staying here, either," she half-giggled. "Though the others will likely send a search party looking for us if we never leave the room." I leaned back, my fingers smoothing a few stray curls from her eyes as I smiled down at her. The sound of her happiness was something I'd never grow tired of hearing, and I stroked my fingers over the mark I'd placed on her neck, enjoying her small shiver of response. I took great pride and satisfaction in her being marked as mine, knowing that everyone who saw it would know she belonged to me, would smell my scent on her. Yes, I was a possessive bastard, and I felt no shame in admitting it.

"We'll barricade the door and just ignore them," I teased, hoping to earn another giggle from her, and she didn't disappoint, her light-hearted laughter filling the room. I may have been teasing her, but the idea definitely held appeal, and as she nuzzled against me, I could tell that she didn't exactly find that scenario unappealing, either. My thoughts wandered to all the ways we could occupy our time, but just as I was about to put thought into action, I felt her stiffen against me as a small gasp escaped her lips.

"Darlin'?" I pulled away to look at her; she was surrounded by the same golden glow she'd manifested during her change. What the fuck? She softly whispered my name, and then her eyes fluttered closed as her body went limp against mine.

"Bella!" I yelled, frantically shaking her shoulders. Vampires weren't able to pass out, dammit! What the fuck was going on? I needed Carlisle to take a look at her, but there was no fucking way I'd let him examine her naked body, so I quickly dressed her before throwing on my own jeans and calling out for him.

Just as he answered that he was on his way, the air in the room seemed to shimmer, and the bed was suddenly surrounded by five creatures that could only have been drawn from the depths of the darkest nightmares known to humanity. It took barely a moment for my training to overcome the innate horror of the sight before me, and I immediately crouched over my unconscious mate, letting loose a feral roar that shook the walls of the house as I prepared to defend us both.

Bella's POV

I tried to fight against the darkness that was swiftly overtaking me, but my struggle was in vain, and I was soon helplessly drifting within its confines. I had no idea how much time had passed before a dim light began to break through the darkness, and I felt part of me begin hurtling towards it.

I suddenly found myself back in the meadow I'd first visited during my change, but nothing was as I remembered it to be; it looked as if a great battle had recently been fought here. Deep furrows littered the earth, as if giants had torn their way free of its confines, and the trees at the forest's edge had been uprooted and strewn carelessly about the once beautiful meadow. The clusters of wildflowers that had grown amidst the tall grass were trampled into almost unrecognizable clumps of greenery interspersed within the heaps of dirt that cluttered the ground. A faint haze of smoke despoiled the once clean air, blocking out the sun's rays, and the distinctive smell of ozone was burning my nostrils with its heavy stench. Burning piles of something I refused to put a name to were the source of the smoky haze, and no matter how much I wished to erase the devastation before me from my sight, I was unable to close my eyes, as if compelled to bear witness to what had occurred. What the fuck had happened here? A chill ran up my spine as my senses caught the scent of another, and my voice was shakier than I would have liked as I called out, instinctively dropping into a defensive crouch as my eyes scanned the edge of the remaining woods.

"Nira? Is that you?"

As the panther slowly limped from the trees, her appearance both shocked and frightened me. Gone was the beautiful golden fur; it had been replaced by charred flesh streaked with blood that was still flowing from the many grievous wounds she bore. Gone was the golden glow that once shone from her eyes; in its place was a savage fury overlaid with sorrow and grief as she looked around the meadow, approaching me with measured steps that created their own melancholy tune in the still silence of the surrounding forest. My heart was breaking as I ran to her, my hands hovering helplessly in the air as I neared, afraid to cause her further pain with my touch, no matter how well-intentioned it might be.

"Fuck, Nira! What happened to you? To the meadow?" I asked roughly, venom pooling in my eyes as I dropped to my knees at her side. Revulsion washed over me at her stench, and it took everything I had to resist the impulse to put as much distance between us as possible.

"The Lok'ai," she whispered, her voice floating softly across my mind, the only thing about her that remained unchanged.

"The Lok'ai?" I asked.

"You must listen to me, little one. There is not much time. Great danger is here for you, and I should not have summoned you to me, but I had no choice. You needed to be warned. We have been betrayed by one of our own, the Lok'ai. He is a Spiritwalker, only he has fallen into Darkness, allying himself with the forces you are destined to fight against. He found a way to breach the barrier between the planes and allowed our enemies entrance to the spirit plane, fighting at their side in the attack that caused the damage you see around you. Fortunately, your kind can not exist for long within this plane, and they were forced to leave before finding what they were seeking. He left with them before we could stop him, but they will keep returning here until they find it or you destroy the Lok'ai."

"What were they looking for?" I interrupted, wondering how I was supposed to handle another issue with all that was already weighing me down. Would the shit never cease coming my way? I felt as if it wouldn't take much more to throw me over the edge, and I was barely holding on by my fingernails.

"The Crystal of Kajura," she answered. "It houses the purest essence of your spirit, and is hidden here on the spirit plane. Should it fall into the wrong hands, your enemies will use it to control you, turning you against your allies and sending you into a spiral of Darkness your spirit would not recover from. This must not be allowed to happen, little one. You must find and destroy the Lok'ai before he is able to mount another attack upon the spirit plane."

"How can I find him?" I wondered, hoping against hope that there was a definitive way to do so.

"He will be well-guarded and near the seat of power of your enemies. You must be wary of the Sirrinar he is able to conjure to protect himself and do his bidding. These spirits take corporeal form to attack, and are extremely difficult to destroy. They will consume a great deal of his power, however, and he will be weakened for awhile after summoning them." Of course he'd have guards that would make getting to him difficult. Why would I expect this to be fucking easy when nothing else ever was? I could feel my temper starting to get the better of me, and I concentrated on taking deep breaths until I was as calm as I could possibly be in the current situation.

"Is there a way I can identify who the Lok'ai is?" I needed some concrete information here; I was tired of the cryptic bullshit that always seemed to come at me, never offering nearly enough in the way of helpful advice.

"He will bear the same marking upon his palm that you currently possess, only inverted, with the stars on the inside, surrounded by the glyph of Destiny." For a moment, the most random of thoughts ran through my overloaded mind. I felt a little like a superhero learning of their arch-nemesis, the twisted and evil version of themselves. Shaking my head to clear out the stupidity currently taking up residence within it, I focused once more on the task at hand, determined to get as much information as possible before I left this place again.

"How can the Sirrinar be destroyed?" I asked, hoping it wasn't some complicated scenario.

"You must destroy their core, located where a human's heart would normally be found. If you destroy the core, they will be banished from your plane." Ok, that didn't sound too bad. "Beware, though, their strength and speed exceed yours, and getting close enough to their core to do damage will be difficult." Guess I was wrong. Fuck me.

"How long before the Lok'ai is able to attack the spirit plane again?"

"It will take several days for him to regain the necessary power to breach the barrier once more. We are rallying our own forces and will not be caught unawares again. However, you must work quickly, little one. No chance can be taken with the Crystal of Kajura. Should they find it, all hope is lost." Of course, it was always with the doom and gloom. Why couldn't anyone ever give me some good fucking news?

"I got it, Nira. Kill the Lok'ai, avoid the Sirrinar if possible, do it fast. Are you going to be alright?" I asked her. She looked as if she was at death's door, which made little sense since she was a spirit, but I didn't really know what to think anymore, and the thought of her death stirred something within me that I wasn't prepared to face at the moment.

"I will heal in time. For now, you must return to your own plane and begin your search. It will not be safe for you to return here again until the Lok'ai is destroyed. Good luck, little one, and remember that you are never alone. Trust in yourself and those closest to your heart."

Before her last word had faded from my ears, I was overwhelmed by the darkness once more.

Peter's POV

I was feelin' like a new man and Peter Jr. was doin' his own happy dance as Char and I walked back to the house, our hands laced together between us. There was nothin' like gettin' a little lovin' to make me a happy camper, and I smugly noted the blissed-out smile Char was wearin' as we strolled beneath the leafy canopy of the forest. Gettin' my arms torn off had been a fuckin' pain, in more ways than one, but the end result was more than worth it. Wifey was real good with the sympathy now and then, and just thinkin' of how her mouth had felt wrapped around my cock was enough to get ole Peter Jr. ready for another round of lovin'.

Before I could make my plan known, however, my fuckin' gift started pokin' the hell outta me, and I knew somethin' bad was happenin'. With as peaceful as the last several hours had been, I should have known that trouble was about to come knockin' on our door, and it seems to have arrived with a fuckin' vengeance. Even though I'd instinctively picked up our pace with the first tingle of trouble, it seemed I wasn't movin' fast enough for the powers that be, cause the next tingle was enough to almost drop me to my fuckin' knees. I staggered to keep my balance, almost draggin' Char down with me, before I got my footin' and started fuckin' high-tailin' it to the house with wifey right on my heels. She knew to keep quiet and let me figure out what the fuck was happenin', knowin' I'd fill her in as soon as I had anythin' concrete to tell her. Bits of knowledge were comin' at me almost faster than I could think, and all of it added up to just one fuckin' thing.

"Pumpkin's in trouble," I muttered, pickin' up speed that I wasn't aware I had in me as we sped toward the house that was lit up like a fuckin' Christmas tree. As we neared, a chorus of howls went up, and the scene was like somethin' outta a fuckin' horror movie. Not good.

As we neared, I saw Jasper come flyin' through the wall of the house, landin' on his ass on the ground and leavin' a good-sized hole behind him. Before I could so much as figure out what the fuck was goin' on, he was leapin' back in through the hole with a roar that would have shattered glass if there had been any left intact. Wolves were howlin', vampires were growlin' and snarlin', and it was utter fuckin' chaos. What the fuck was goin' on? Before we reached the front door, Carlisle and Emmett came flyin' out the opposite side of the house, takin' part of the wall with them, and the look of fear on Emmett's face was enough to make me wonder if vampires could shit themselves after all. I'd never seen that fucker look scared of anythin', and if whatever was in that house could put that look on his face, we were in some serious fuckin' trouble.

We burst through the front door just as one of the most unearthly fuckin' war cries I'd ever heard split the air, and I pulled Char behind me as we raced up the stairs, both of us automatically movin' into war mode. Somethin' wicked this way comes? Fuck that! Somethin' had already taken up residence and was obviously goin' on a fuckin' rampage of epic proportions. As we reached the top of the stairs, Edward was runnin' outta one of the rooms on the right, and I'd never seen a vampire look as fuckin' white as he did in that moment. His eyes were buggin' outta his head, and if he could have shit himself, I knew we would be smellin' the stench right then and there. I grabbed his collar, slammin' him up against the wall and gettin' right in his face to ensure I had his full attention.

"What the fuck is goin' on, Edward?" I yelled at him, my face mere inches from his, and it took him at least three tries before he finally managed to stammer out a semi-coherent explanation.

"I don't know... never seen anything like them... oh my god... how are we supposed to fight those?" He wasn't makin' any sense, so I threw him to the side and ran into the Major's room, stoppin' short in the doorway as I walked into hell. My own eyes bugged out as I took in the chaotic scene in front of me, and I barely heard Char's shocked curses as I tried to make sense of what I was seein'.

The Major was in full-on battle mode, fightin' against two creatures that looked to be spawned directly from the fuckin' bowels of Hell itself, and from the sounds comin' from the other upstairs rooms, I'd guess that more of these fuckin' things were creatin' their own havoc elsewhere. Pumpkin was lyin' on the bed, passed out cold, and the Major was havin' hell's own time tryin' to keep them away from her. Eleazar and Carmen were tryin' to help, but it was obvious they had no fuckin' clue what to do. Char and I rushed to the Major's side, flankin' him in our usual positions as I yelled to the other two to guard pumpkin while we dealt with these fuckin' things.

They were agile bastards, easily slippin' out of our grasp every time we tried to get ahold of them, and I'd never done more fuckin' flyin' through the air in my life. There were Peter-sized holes in all the fuckin' walls by now, and Char and the Major weren't doin' much better. There had to be a way to kill these fuckers, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how. Their bodies were pockmarked with holes made from our fists, but they didn't even seem to slow them down, let alone harm them. We'd managed to remove a hand from one of the spawn, and it was crawlin' around the floor like somethin' out of a grade B horror flick, grabbin' at us when we got too close to it. The whole scene was utterly fuckin' surreal. Just as I was gettin' myself outta the wall for the umpteenth time, Char came flyin' into me, and the force of the impact sent us both through it and into the hallway beyond, her elbow landin' on Peter Jr. in a most unpleasant way.

"Fuck!" I screamed, my hands instinctively movin' to cup the family jewels as pain streaked through me. We may be indestructible, but an elbow to the fuckin' nuts still hurts like holy hell.

"I've had about enough of this shit!" she growled, gettin' to her feet and chargin' back into the room, and I had to admit, I was in full agreement with wifey. I got to my feet rather painfully, then followed her in just in time to see the Major jump on the back of one of the creatures, but before he could get a good grip, he was sailin' over its head and landin' at our feet, lettin' out a feral roar of frustrated rage.

"We need a better plan, Major. They're kickin' our asses," I muttered at vampire level, hopin' those fuckin' things wouldn't be able to understand it. I'd never seen anythin' other than the wolves that could even come close to our speed and strength, but these bastards were tossin' us around like leaves at the mercy of the wind. It was frustratin' as fuck. It didn't seem like the others were havin' any more success than we were, either, judgin' by the sounds of combat echoin' throughout the house. The Major was radiatin' just as much frustration as I was feelin', which wasn't helpin' things; we'd been fightin' against these fuckers for almost half an hour now. Just as he started to speak, pumpkin's voice rang through the house, startlin' the fuck outta us all.

"Sirrinar! Destroy their cores, where human hearts would be. It's the only way to banish them!" she yelled, jumpin' off the bed and rushin' to stand next to us, lookin' for all the world like she'd just seen a ghost.

"How do you know?" Char asked, and that was a mighty good fuckin' question in my opinion.

"Not now, Char! Just trust me!" What the fuck, we had nothin' to lose at this point.

Bella's POV

Waking up was like going from one nightmare to another, my eyes opening to see my new family in battle against two hellish creatures that shouldn't exist in a sane world. Still badly shaken from my visit with Nira and everything she'd told me, it took me a few moments to comprehend what was happening and realize that these must be the Sirrinar she'd warned me about. Fear was trying to overwhelm me, but I forced myself to fight against it; I couldn't allow it to incapacitate me when I was the only person who had any fucking idea how to fight these bastards. My family needed my help, and it was time to stop being the weak link and start carrying my own weight. If I was going to lead a war, I had to put my big girl panties on and woman the fuck up. Leaping from the bed, I rushed over to Jasper, giving them the condensed version of what I knew; a full explanation could wait.

"Bella, stay back!" Jasper yelled to me, but I just rolled my eyes at him. If he thought I was going to stand there like some helpless damsel in distress while they all fought, he seriously needed to think again. We were all dodging the creatures' swings, dancing around the room and trying to stay out of their reach. As my eyes darted around, I noticed an exposed beam in one of the walls, and a plan came to mind. Darting over to it, I pulled it out, ending up with a few feet of wood in my hands that ended in a jagged point that would be perfect for what I had planned. Pointing the wood at one of the creatures, I took charge, the mantle of leadership feeling odd, but somehow natural and right at the same time.

"Grab its arms!" I yelled, and after only a moment's hesitation, the others moved into position, flanking the creature and then leaping forward, grabbing at its arms and pulling them back as far as possible to leave its chest exposed to me. Before it could shake them off, I gripped the wood securely in both of my hands, then lunged forward, hoping my aim was true as I thrust the wood at where I estimated its core should be with every bit of strength I could muster. The shock of the impact reverberated up my arms, and I almost lost my grip on the wood as it plunged into its chest, triggering an unearthly scream of pain just before the creature disappeared as if it had never existed. Shock held me still for a moment as I realized my plan had really worked, but I was quickly brought out of it as Jasper's panicked voice rang out.

"Bella, look out!" he screamed, and as I started to turn around, I was grabbed from behind, hard arms encircling my own and pinning them to my sides in an unbreakable grip.

Jasper and Peter both leaped for me just as the room began to spin in a way that would have sickened me had I still been a human. My eyes instinctively closed as a brief flash of excruciating pain moved through me, over before I could even draw in a breath to scream, my body feeling as if it had been torn apart and then pieced back together all within the space of a mere second. I staggered for a moment within the confining arms that held me, taking in labored breaths of unneeded air as I tried to regain my equilibrium, wondering what the fuck had just happened.

Delighted laughter reached my ears, and as my eyes opened, I found myself in a cavernous stone room, staring at three vampires standing before matching golden thrones. The dark-haired one in the middle slowly stepped forward, and the look of triumph in his crimson eyes sent a cold chill shivering down my spine. This was not good, and I felt my heart sink as his musical voice echoed across the chamber.

"Welcome to Volterra, my dear."

A/N: I'm so sorry for the delay, and hope the chapter was worth the wait; I've been ill and my mind wasn't able to focus enough to write anything that made sense. However, I seem to finally be on the mend, and hope to be back to my regular posting schedule shortly. I really appreciate your patience, and please take a moment to let me know what you thought of the chapter. Thanks! ~Sari~

Recommendation: The Last Mile by catonspeed – From heartbreaking to hilarious, this Jasper/Bella story will touch you on every level.