LATE Chapter 102

New Centurion 

 

 

BAM! BA-BAM! 

The house shook as the grenade hit the roof. Sookie sat bolt upright but was immediately grabbed by Bjorn and pulled to the floor, his phone screaming “CODE RED! X30 front and back!” over and over. She was confused and scared and could hear yelling outside and other explosions somewhere at the back of the property.

“Sookie, you stay on the floor until I get back. If you hear anyone coming upstairs, teleport to Eric’s hiding place,” Bjorn said,

“Where are the boys?”

“Up in the gym. Call them to you!” He was crawling back to the side table and reached for the big book. Sookie was somehow not surprised that he pulled a gun out of it.

“Aubie!” The baby appeared in her arms, crying and covered with dirt, splinters and dust.

“Alex!” He was dirty and had blood on left side of his face and arm, and he wasn’t moving, “He’s hurt! Oh my Goddess, he’s hurt! Alex!”

There were screams from upstairs and the sounds of people running through the halls to the stairs as Bjorn tried to raise Jerry, who’d been in the gym with the boys, Bobbie and Amelia, on his radio. “Jerry? Jerry?”

“Are the boys secure?” Jerry was obviously stunned or hurt.

“They’re with me and Sookie. Are any of you hurt?”

“Bobbie is on her way down to you.” Jerry said with a grunt as Bobbie ran into the room. “Amelia is not moving, and the roof is on fire, so the sprinklers are going. I’ve got a knot on my head, but I think I’m OK.”

“Do you need help with Amelia?”

“Alex! Alex!” Sookie was desperately trying to wake him up, pulling the sheet off the bed to try to wipe him off. “Shhh, Aubie, it’ll be OK! Alex! Wake up, Alex, please!”

“No, she’s starting to stir now…” Jerry groaned.

“Drag her to the elevator and head for the basement before the fire knocks out the electricity. We’ll be right down. Sookie, can you transport all of us to the basement?”

“I think so,” she said as Bobbie handed her the long black nightgown, which had been laundered and left on her dresser, then picked Aubie up and tried to quiet him. Sookie grabbed Alex, wrapped her free arm around Bobbie and grabbed Bjorn’s arm, “Basement!”

The five of them were instantly in the basement, Bjorn yelling, “go to the back!” as he headed to the elevator door. It opened on Jerry, his head and shirt covered with blood, and Amelia on the floor, regaining consciousness. Bjorn picked her up and carried her to the other girls as Jerry followed.

Sookie and Bobbie took the babies into the magick room and closed the door. “Get in the circle,” Sookie ordered, holding Alex tightly to her as she poured water into the scrying mirror. Bobbie knelt behind her, still holding Aubie who was whimpering and wouldn’t take his eyes off Sookie. “Show me!” Sookie said and the scene on the grounds appeared in the glass. The house had been hit with a grenade launcher, and so had the guard shacks in back and front. There were armored vehicles in the woods, men climbing ropes to get on the grounds. The guards in the front guardhouse were obviously dead, but the two armored humvees that tried to get through the gates were disabled by spikes that came out of the pavement and pierced the undersides of the vehicles. She could see fluids spilling on the ground, and a half dozen or more soldiers piling out of the vehicles heading toward the house as one vehicle caught fire.

Daemons and Weres set on the group coming over the fence in back, chasing some into the woods, Rafael and another tall daemon blowing up their four vehicles with some things that looked like handheld cannons. The few that got inside the fence headed for the house, and were met head-on by Weres that poured out of the HQ.

“Sookie?” Bjorn was at the door with Amelia.

“Come in! It’s New Centurion! The Daemons have got most of the forces out back, but there are men coming in the front of the property!”

Alex stirred a little and said, “Da –dee!”

“Alright, I want you, Aubie and Alex down with Eric. Bobbie, Amelia, Alicia, Margaret and Octavia will stay in here. The guys in the HQ are surrounding the house, so they aren’t likely to get in, but it’s going to get bloody.”

“OK, Sweetie, Mommy’s got you. It’s going to be OK, we’re going to hide with Daddy now,” Sookie tried to soothe him as she grabbed Aubie from Bobbie. The maids and Octavia were running to the back as Bjorn popped the door to the hidey-hole and helped Sookie get down there with the boys. Once the boys were in Eric’s arms, Bobbie handed Sookie the scrying mirror. “I’ll see what I can do to stop them, Bjorn!” she said as he pushed the lid down and went to a cache of automatic weapons hidden behind the stairs. Jerry left Amelia in the ladies’ care in the magick room and took a station at the bottom of the stairs where he could see anyone coming down them or out of the elevator. Bjorn set him up with an altered .30 caliber machine gun on a strap that could be shot from the hip, and two bandoliers of bullets. Bjorn took one just like it and a bunch of bandoliers and headed for the front of the house.

The babies were soothed as soon as they were in the hidey-hole with Eric and Mommy, and they both became very quiet, watching Sookie with huge eyes. Sookie used the scrying mirror, even though the water had spilled, and she could see two prisoners being dragged into the HQ by Weres. There were about 5 or 6 daemons armed with swords moving around the sides of the house, and a pack of huge wolves came charging around the south side of the house and went straight at the soldiers as they ran past the fountains toward the front door. A silver wolf caught a bullet in his front shoulder, but the daemons swooped down on the men as the wolves attacked, all except one flying daemon who took to the air to catch another grenade heading for the roof of the house. That grenade sailed up into the clouds and exploded before it began to fall. Regular bullets didn’t work on the daemons, who were hacking heads and gorging on blood, as a blue-black wolf tore another man to pieces. The rest of the pack spread out along the front fences, in case there were more vehicles. There weren’t. Rafael called the “all clear” as Bjorn reached the front of the house. The yard was filled with dead and dying soldiers in black gear, a head here, a severed leg there.

Bjorn could hear sirens in the distance, and knew they had to come up with a cover story quick. Sookie could see that the fighting had stopped, and opened the door on Eric’s cache.

“Bobbie?”

“Yeah, Sweetie?” Bobbie looked out from the pink room.

“The fighting is over. Do you have your phone with you?”

“Yeah – want me to call Bjorn?”

“Yes, ’cause I need to help him clean up before the cops get here,” Sookie said, knowing it was up to her to make a cover story since Eric was out. She wished it were raining today so he’d wake early, but it was up to her this time around. She finally had a second to put the nightgown on, then she handed the boys up to Bobbie and Octavia and got out of the hole as the other women came out of the pink room.

“Well, I guess everybody knows where Eric rests now…” Sookie said, afraid he wouldn’t be happy about that.

“What is that? A bomb shelter?” Alicia asked

“Yeah, something like that. It’s a safe place to stay if the house is bombed – it’s not usually visible…”

“Bjorn says it’s safe to go up now,” Bobbie told them.

“Everybody meet in the kitchen. We have to get our story straight for the police,” Sookie said, trying to figure out how to explain the carnage she knew surrounded the property. Sookie took both babies, and led them all toward the stairs. Bjorn was waiting for them at the top, while Rafael and the other daemons set a scene that would conceal their own use of explosives. Bjorn and Jerry stowed their automatic weapons back in the space under the stairs and headed up to join the girls.

“Everyone OK, now?” Bjorn asked as he came back in.

“I think my arm is broken,” Amelia said as Margaret wiped her forehead with a cool washcloth. “I might have a cracked rib, too.”

“OK, there will be an ambulance here any minute. You go with them and just tell them the truth – you were in the gym when the first grenade hit, and you were taken to the basement by one of the guards. Other than that, you don’t know what happened.”

“Yep, that’s the truth,” she tried to laugh, but winced in pain.

“Bobbie, you’re not hurt?” Bjorn asked, a little nervously.

“No, I’m just dirty. I was holding Aubie, so he’s a mess, too.”

“How is the Prince, your Majesty?” Bjorn knew he should have asked this first.

“He’s healing already. I think he’ll be fine by tomorrow,” Sookie said, holding both boys tightly and kissing one, then the other, over and over.

“Octavia, where were you during all of this?” Bjorn asked

“I heard the blast, so I headed down to the kitchen and brought Alicia and Margaret to the basement.”

“OK, good thinking. Anyone else actually see anything?”

“After the blast, I looked out the back door and saw the guard house on fire. I couldn’t see much else,” Alicia said.

“I didn’t see anything,” Margaret said.

“Alright, the police will want to interview everyone that was in the house. Just tell them what you just told me. Sookie, be very careful not to tell what you saw outside. Jackson was on the video in the HQ, so he’s probably the only one that saw what happened on both ends. We’ve got some men injured, so they’ll get treated. Any idea what you want to tell the press, Sookie?”

“First, what happened to the two guys who were taken into the HQ?”

“There were no guys taken into the HQ,” he lied and they all knew it.

“Alright, then, we say it was an anti-Vampire terrorist attack by New Centurion.”

“Are you sure you want to name them?”

“Absolutely. Say we traced the vehicles to them, or something, but I want them out-ed as a terrorist organization.”

“You might have to speak to the press and to the police… hang on,” Bjorn’s phone rang and he answered. “OK. OK – you think they’ll buy that about all four of them? Alright. The story is that the guys were coming over the fence when one of their grenade launchers discharged in a vehicle, and it caused a chain reaction because they were parked so close together and they were carrying so many explosives.”

“A grenade launcher? That’s the thing they had on their shoulders that looked like a cannon barrel?” Sookie asked.

“Yep. Jerry, I want you to go with Amelia and get your head checked out,” Bjorn told him.

“But you need me here…”

“Rafael is here, we’ve already called in reinforcements, and Vincent is on his way. The more casualties we can show on our side, the better. Nobody is to clean up – stay dirty so they can see who was almost killed. That includes the Princes – I want them to see Alex’s injuries, Sookie, then you tell them his private physician will tend to him because you’re afraid to take him off the compound with terrorists lurking…” his phone rang again. “Alright, show the officer in charge into the kitchen. Have the ambulance pull up in front of the garage. OK, everybody, look traumatized,” he winked at Sookie and she nodded, still holding onto the boys. That was not going to be a problem, because she was shaking all over.

Cody came through the living room, followed by an older African-American Detective with grey hair, a woman detective with dark blonde, straight, chin-length hair, and a uniformed officer almost as tall as Bjorn with wavy brown hair. Bjorn stepped forward as the senior detective spoke. “I’m Detective Johnson, this is my partner, Detective Sally Forbes, and Officer Connelly.”

“Hello, I’m Bjorn Anderson, the head of security here today.”

“Is there another head of security?” The older man asked

“Yes, my boss, but he works elsewhere. I’m on the grounds most of the time. I’m technically the Queen’s bodyguard, but I oversee the other guards as well.”

“The Queen?” the older man said skeptically.

Sookie stood up, still holding the babies, “Hi, I’m Sookie Northman…”

“The Vampire Queen?” The woman detective said with surprise. “I didn’t know you lived here!”

“No one does, I hope, but I guess these terrorists found out.”

“You’re sure it’s terrorists, ma’am?” The older man said.

“Yes, they’ve threatened us before.”

“Any police reports of that?”

“No, we tend to stay to ourselves unless something like this happens.”

“Are your boys hurt?”

“Alex is – look at his face and his arm.” The lady detective examined Alex closely as Sookie spoke, noting the lacerations on his left cheek and arm, snapping pictures with her telephone as Sookie continued. “He was upstairs when it happened – they both were, with my doula and my friend,” she nodded toward Bobbie and Amelia.

“The ambulance is right outside…” Forbes offered.

“I was in the gym with them,” Amelia said. “I’m pretty sure my arm is broken and I might have some cracked ribs, so I’d like to go to the hospital.”

“Kerik, I want you to have your head checked out. He was up there, too.” Bjorn explained.

“Come with me, ma’am, sir,” Officer Connelly offered to lead them out to the ambulance.

“What were they doing in the gym?” Johnson asked

“The boys play up there in the mornings so I can sleep in. My husband keeps unusual hours so I sleep very late in the day, but the babies wake up early.”

“I have to ask, are the babies Vampires?” The woman detective was trying to be calm but she was very excited to have caught this case.

“Yes, half, anyway. I’ve already called their doctor to check them out.”

“You don’t want to take them to the hospital?” That seemed fishy to Det. Johnson.

“No, not with terrorists roaming around. This is the safest place for them. They see a specialist that knows about Vampires – I’m afraid a regular doctor might do more harm than good.”

“Alright, if you change your mind, we’ll gladly accompany you,” the woman detective offered. Sookie liked this lady. She could hear in her thoughts that she read about them in the tabloids and was a big fan, especially of Eric’s.

The older detective, however, thought this was a freak show and couldn’t wait to get the hell away from these people. “Any idea how the vehicles in front caught fire?”

“None – all of our guards at the front gate were killed.” Bjorn explained, “The guards in back were under siege and everyone was scrambling to protect the house.”

“Where is your husband, Mrs. Northman?”

“He rests in the daytime. I’m afraid I can’t say where because of extremists like this.”

“Alright, when can we get a statement from him?”

“Around 7 tonight would be the earliest he’d be available.”

“Alright, we’ll plan on that. It will take our crime scene investigators that long to sort out what happened. Anyone else see anything?”

“I saw that the guard building out back was on fire,” Alicia offered, “then Margaret, Octavia and I ran down to the basement as we’re supposed to in case of emergency.”

“Your name, ma’am?”

“Alicia Evans.”

“Your address?”

“I live here – we all do.”

“You all do?” That seemed fishy to Johnson, too.

“Yes, most of us live in the house…”

“Amelia and I live in one of the guest houses out back,” Kerik explained as he helped Amelia toward the door.

“Do all the guards live here?”

“No, only Jerry and I live in,” Bjorn told them. “The rest of them work rotating shifts. There are usually men on standby in the servant’s quarters, where our video feeds are watched.”

“Is there film of what happened?”

“No, we don’t record, we just survey the grounds.”

“I’ll need to speak to the man who was watching the cameras, then.”

Bjorn spoke into his phone, “Jackson? Put somebody else on watch and come into the kitchen. The police need your statement.”

“Be right there, boss.”

“Alright, ma’am, you said you’ve been threatened by terrorists before?”

“Several times. This is the first time this group has lobbed bombs at us, though.”

“This group?”

“Yes, New Centurion…”

“The paramilitary group?” Shit, Johnson thought, this was all he needed.

“Yes.”

“We’ve observed their vehicles following us when we returned from New Orleans a few weeks ago,” Bjorn explained, “and we’ve seen suspicious cars watching the house, and we caught a couple of their people trying to set up surveillance on us from the woods out back.”

“You didn’t report that?”

Thomas Jackson, a lanky Were with bright green eyes, came quickly in through the back door. “Jackson, tell these detectives what you saw on the video screens,” Bjorn directed him.

“I observed two vehicles pulling rapidly up to the front of the house and bombing the guard stand, then sending one over the gate onto the roof of the house.. At almost the same time, four vehicles came out of the woods and men began to throw ropes and scale the fence. I saw men with grenade launchers, then there was a series of explosions – when it was over, the guard shack and vehicles were burning, and men were still pouring over the fence as I called out the emergency code.”

“Is that the code red our radios picked up?”

“Yes, I called ‘code red, X30, front and back.'”

“And that means?”

“We’re under attack, 30 men are coming onto the compound through the front and back gates.”

“You counted 30 men?”

“I estimated.”

“Any idea what caused their vehicles to explode?”

“I can’t swear to it, but I think what happened is they bombed the guard shack, then one of their grenade launchers discharged unexpectedly and blew up one vehicle, which was close enough to set the others off, too. They apparently had a lot of explosives with them.”

“Did you see anything that might indicate who they were?”

“No, sir – they were all in black, and it was obviously a professional group. They knew what they were doing…”

“But they blew themselves up?”

“Equipment failure, I suppose. It happens to the best of soldiers,” Jackson shrugged.

“Yes, I suppose it does. Any idea why they would target you this way?”

“They’re anti-Vampire extremists. They’re organized and highly trained. We’re all lucky to be alive,” Sookie said, trying to neither laugh nor cry. “No offense, Detective, but the sooner we have all these strangers off the compound, the better. We were just living our lives, minding our own business when they attacked us with no provocation. All we want is to be left alone. We don’t hurt anybody. They almost killed my children,” Sookie sobbed and let herself dissolve into tears because Bjorn nodded when she started to. “Is our address going to be all over the news?”

“We’ll ask them to withhold that information, ma’am, but we can’t guarantee that they will.”

“It will put us in more danger, you know? There are other fanatics, like the Fellowship of the Sun, that will come at us, too, if they know we live here.”

“Well, ma’am, you seem to be well-protected here…” Johnson said with a bit of attitude.

“Tell that to the families of the men who were killed standing their posts,” Sookie said angrily. “We have to take all kinds of paranoid precautions because these groups think their religion gives them the right to kill people who are different!”

“I understand that, ma’am, but there are some strange circumstances… some of the men out front look like they were decapitated, some look like they were attacked by animals.”

“We’re entitled to protect ourselves. Everybody uses guard dogs…”

“Not everybody uses swords, ma’am.”

“We don’t have grenade launchers here, Detective, we use what we’ve got and what we can legally keep.” Sookie knew that was a lie and didn’t care. These cops weren’t going to do anything to keep her family safe, so she’d rather they just fuck off.

“There are no laws prohibiting ownership of swords, Detective. No one carrying one stepped foot off this property. Considering the way the terrorists were armed, you could hardly call it excessive use of force,” Bjorn let him know he knew the laws and that they were in no legal jeopardy.

Cody came bouncing down from upstairs and into the kitchen. “Fire’s out, boss!”

“Thanks, Cody. How bad is it up there?”

“Not too bad, but we’ll need to get the contractors here before it rains and ruins the floors. It’s kind of wet, but not too bad. The sprinklers did what they’re supposed to do. I don’t know about the clothes up there, though.”

“Oh, no!” Alicia said, just now remembering that Sookie’s wardrobe was up there.

“You had sprinklers for the top of the house?” Johnson asked with surprise.

“I told you,” Sookie said, “we have to be paranoid. My husband does everything physically possible to keep us safe, even if it seems a little crazy. If he didn’t, my house might be burning down around me right now.”

“That’s true, I just never heard of it.”

“When you’re a target, you have to get creative,” Sookie said darkly. She swooned just a little and Bjorn put his arm around her.

“Here, your Majesty, sit down. I’ll get the boys’ high chairs,” he said softly as he guided her down, “Excuse me one second,” he said to the detectives as he went into the pantry and came back with the chairs. Sookie was hesitant to let go of the boys, but she finally did and Bjorn put them in their chairs, then slid them close to Sookie.

“Can you eat some breakfast now, Missus?” Margaret offered

“Yeah, I guess I should eat something.”

“Is the elevator safe to use?” Alicia asked

“Yeah, it should be,” Bjorn told her.

“OK, I’m going up to get her dresses and we’ll see if anything can be saved.”

“Cody, help her, please?”

“Sure, boss.”

Detective Johnson couldn’t believe how calm these people were. It’s like the attack didn’t even phase them. “Well, ma’am, that’s probably all we need right now. It’s pretty clear you were attacked. We just need to make sure there’s no evidence of anything illegal going on here. We’ll let you know if we need anything else.”

“Thanks.” Sookie said as she washed Alex’s face gently with a cloth Margaret handed her. Once the dried blood was wiped away, he didn’t look too bad, and the cuts were healing nicely, but they were deep. She wiped down his arms and legs, then Margaret gave her a fresh one for Aubie. Seeing the boys cleaned up was making Sookie feel a bit more grounded and Margaret made her a steak and cut some up into small chunks for Alex, then ground some for Aubie to enjoy.

At one point, Aubie looked closely as Alex and said, “Uh, Bumby!” pointing to the cuts on his face and pouting a second.

“Yeah, Buddy got hurt, didn’t he?” Sookie said softly to him

“Nah nah!” Aubie touched the cuts and moved his finger in a circle Sookie and Bobbie watched amazed as the cuts on Alex’s face disappeared.

“You saw that, right?” Sookie asked, not sure how to react.

“Yes, I did,” Bobbie laughed, “he healed him.”

“Aubie, look at Buddy’s arm. See the boo-boo?”

“Nah nah!” Aubie said playfully and rubbed Alex’s arm with the same circular motion and the cuts disappeared.

“WOW!” Bobbie laughed.

“I’m glad the detectives left before he did that,” Sookie laughed. “That’s a good boy, Aubie, healing Buddy that way!”

Bjorn came back into the kitchen, looking around to be sure there were no police in hearing distance. “Sookie, did you forget about someone?”

“Someone?”

“Puff.”

“Oh, my Goddess! Where is he?”

“I think he’s still in the summer kitchen, but we need to get these cops out of the back of the property before he comes out. Rafael has a humanoid daemon keeping an eye on the building, but who knows what dragons are like when they wake up?”

“Should I bring him in the house?”

“Where would you put him?” Bobbie asked, not sure that was a good idea.

“I could put him in the basement. There’s not much down there he could hurt…”

“Alicia is down there trying to save your wardrobe, Hon,” Bobbie reminded her.

“Oh, yeah, I forgot. How about the gym?”

“Fire Marshall might insist on inspecting the damage,” Bjorn told her.

“The bedroom? Or the den?”

“If they come back in the house, they could see him in the den. You could close the door of the bedroom, though, and I could say you’re sleeping.”

“Yeah, I’d have to stay with him, huh?”

“Yeah, I’d say so. Who knows what he’d do inside a house?”

“Has he shown any signs of coming out of the summer kitchen?”

“They haven’t heard a peep out of him,” Bjorn told her.

“Hey, Sookie,” Bobbie said, “what if you teleported out there, gave him some fish to eat and told him to be quiet, then teleported back in here?”

“What do you think, Bjorn?”

“It’s worth a shot. Do you have the energy to do it?”

“Yeah, I’ve still got some adrenaline flowing from the shock. Watch the babies,” Sookie said and then disappeared.

Sookie materialized in the dark back room where Puff’s nest was and she found a light switch on the wall. She found Puff hiding under a pile of straw, but he made his purring sound when he recognized Sookie.

“Hey, Puff! Are you scared?” She knelt down to pet him, and said, “Good boy, Puff. You stay hidden in here until I come get you, OK? Here,” She made a stack of about 6 fish appear before him and he crept forward to give them a sniff and gobble them down. “OK, Puff, you be quiet, and I’ll see you after while, OK?” She patted his head and popped back into the kitchen.

“How is he, Sookie?”

“A little scared, I think. I left him some fish and told him to stay hidden until I came to get him.”

“You think he will?”

“Yeah, I do. He’s burrowed back under the straw and he only came out when he recognized me. Freyja said they’re shy of humans.”

“Good,” Bjorn said, “because we’re stretching things pretty thin with those detectives. The woman seems inclined to give us a break, but the older guy is really suspicious.”

“Yeah, he thinks we’re a bunch of freaks. On the plus side, though, he can’t wait to get the hell out of here,” Sookie told them.

“You listened in on them?” Bjorn loved it when she used her “Spidey senses” as he affectionately called her gift.

“Yeah, of course. She can’t wait to meet Eric and he wishes he was back in Vice after seeing this mess.”

“Hey, Sookie, I’m going to go help Alicia, if you don’t need me,” Bobbie said as she finished her steak.

“Good idea, Bobbie. Thanks.”

There was a knock at the sliding door in the den and Bjorn went to let the Detectives back in. “Mrs. Northman?”

“Yes, Detective Johnson?”

“We’re going to stretch some crime scene tape around the front and back of the property, but we’ll leave room so you can get in and out of the gates.”

“When can I call the contractors to fix my roof and repair the guard posts?”

“Well, by the time you line someone up…”

“We own a construction company. They’ll be here as soon as I call.”

“Oh, uh, well, we’re still investigating…”

“What’s to investigate? You’ve got their vehicles, what’s left of them, and you’ve got – what’s his name, Bjorn?”

“Jackson.”

“…Jackson’s statement. I need to get a roof on my house before nightfall.”

“Ma’am, we can’t just…”

“Look, when my husband gets up he’s going to be furious at the way we’ve been treated,” Sookie was DONE with this. “Shreveport PD hasn’t exactly been helpful or cooperative when he’s had terrorists attack his club…”

“Club?”

“That Vampire club at the Dixie shopping center,” Det. Forbes told him. “Fangtasia, I think?”

“Right. You all are always raiding the club and finding nothing. You were useless when the club was bombed about 2 months ago. Now you want my wood floors to get ruined because you won’t let me get my roof fixed? Get your men off my property. I’m calling my contractor, then I’m calling my lawyer. We’re tax-paying citizens who’ve been attacked by terrorists in our own home. This is no way to treat victims of violence.”

“Mrs. Northman, there are still dead bodies in your yard.”

“Why? You’ve been here for hours?”

“Not really, ma’am, and we have to be sure there was nothing illegal going on here.”

“Like what?”

“Well…”

“Is it because my husband is a Vampire?”

“Well, yes and we’re trying to determine if there were any werewolves involved.”

“Do you see any wolves roaming around my yard?” Sookie was pushing it now and she knew it.

“Well, ma’am, we can’t find any guard dogs on the premises …”

“Oh, great! You let our dogs get out? Do you have any idea how valuable they are? Your people can’t close a damned gate?”

Bjorn’s phone rang. “Uh-huh – send him in, I guess. Your majesty, Vincent is here.”

“Who is Vincent?” Johnson demanded

“My boss, detective.” Bjorn said, trying not to laugh because he knew Sookie was deliberately trying to piss the guy off so they’d leave.

“I’d like to speak to him when he gets here,” the detective said, hoping whoever this guy was he’d be more reasonable than Sookie.

“He’s on his way in now.”

In just a few minutes, Vincent came in the back door, all 6’3″ of him, in a long black leather trench coat, long chestnut hair in a ponytail. Sookie almost laughed because the female Detective’s eyes bugged out. Sookie had never really thought of Vincent as good looking, but now that she thought about it, he did have sort of strong sexual vibe about him. Vincent looked at Sookie strangely and she wondered for a second if he could hear her thoughts.

“Vincent Oliveri, this is Detective Johnson and Detective Forbes,” Bjorn made the introductions.

“Mr. Oliveri, what exactly is your position here?”

“I’m the King’s head of security. These guards all report to me. Why aren’t the gates secure?”

“Excuse me?” The question took the older detective by surprise.

“I said why aren’t the gates secure? The property is still vulnerable to attack.”

“You think someone would try an attack with our officers all over the place?”

“I don’t know your men, Detective, or from whom they might take a payoff. No one gets through these gates without a background check.”

“Our officers…”

“…Have not been screened to my satisfaction. This is private property, Detective. Your men appear to have finished with their photographs and evidence collection. Why are they still here?”

“Don’t you want our help?” Johnson was becoming exasperated.

“Are you planning to bring charges against the head of New Centurion?”

“There’s no evidence…”

“Bullshit. Every one of these assailants will be traced back to that company. My men already have the license plates traced and most of their identities and addresses.”

“How is that possible?”

“My men are not paid by the hour as yours are. They get paid for results and they have the finest of everything with which to perform their jobs. The King is an extremely wealthy man. We have resources your department hasn’t even dreamed of yet.”

“I assume you’ll be willing to share this information?”

“Of course. Leave your fax number and I’ll send you what we have after we’ve secured the property.”

“They let our guard dogs escape, Vincent,” Sookie said, hoping he’d pick up on that.

“Well, let’s hope they find their way home when they get hungry,” Vincent said without hesitation. “Those dogs cost $5,000 each. If need be, we’ll send a team into the woods to look for them, your majesty. My main concern right now is the safety of you and your children and I’m not satisfied with what I’ve seen. I’m going to double the guard until you leave for New Orleans.”

“When will that be?” Johnson asked.

“On the 10th, but they’ll be flying to Austin and back on the 8th.”

“What airline?”

“Mr. Northman owns a private jet, I think,” Detective Forbes said, and Vincent nodded.

“Vincent, I want to call the contractor to fix the roof in the gym,” Sookie told him, hearing in her head that the Detectives were very intimidated by Vincent.

“Of course, your majesty. Is that a problem, Detectives?”

“There are still bodies in the front yard,” Johnson said nervously, not able to figure out why he found this man so scary. There was something eerie… inhuman… about him.

“Remove them. You’ve been here at least three hours. This is a private home and there are two infants here. Having a roof is essential to their safety, don’t you agree?”

“Yes, I suppose it is.”

“Then tell your team to clear the yard and let me engage the contractors. The King will be furious if night should fall and his house is still exposed to the elements. While you’re at it, you might want to ask yourself how a paramilitary force of this size was able to move through the streets of Shreveport undetected. There are 6 huge armored vehicles out there. None of your patrols noticed 6 armored vehicles full of uniformed men?”

Officer Connelly came back in then, “Detective?”

“Yes?” Johnson responded

“The tow trucks are here. Are you ready to have the vehicles taken in to the garage?”

“Yes, go ahead. Is the coroner finished out front yet?”

“They’re packing up now, I think.”

“Make sure the yard is clear of bodies so they can get someone in here to fix their roof and let’s get out of their way.” Johnson was done, too.

“The press is out front,” Connelly told him.

“If anybody from this department speaks to those vultures, I’ll have his job!” Johnson said.

“I was just thinking the same thing,” Vincent said, to reinforce the fact that he wasn’t going to take any bullshit. Police or not, this was HIS turf to defend in the King’s absence and his job could be on the line if Eric was upset with how things were handled. “Anderson, see that the coroner’s people have cleared the yard while I call the contractor,” he ordered.

“We won’t release your name, Mrs. Northman, but we will have to say this was an act of domestic terrorism,” Johnson warned her.

“Fine, just make sure you say it’s New Centurion.”

“We’ll see what we can do – it will be up to the watch commander and the public relations department how much information we release. I’ll expect a fax of that information, Mr. Oliveri,” Johnson said as he handed Vincent and Sookie his business card.

“You’ll have it tonight.” Vincent took his phone out and called Eric’s construction company.

“My partner and I will be back at 7 to interview your husband,” he said on his way out.

The detectives were still out front when the trucks arrived half an hour later.

“How the hell did they get a contractor here so fast?” Johnson asked Connelly as they were preparing to leave.

“They’re Vampire royalty. I hear a lot of ’em got more money than god. I thought this guy just owned a nightclub, but it turns out he’s loaded, and owns a lot of businesses all over the country.”

“You think they’re trading drugs? Or V?”

“From what I hear, he not only wouldn’t be involved with that, anybody caught doing it in his territory would have to answer to him. Vamps sort of police themselves. They say he’s got the largest territory of all of them and he’s not somebody you want to cross.”

“I’d love to get a search warrant on this place.”

“There’s no probable cause. They aren’t armed to the teeth or anything like that. If those guys hadn’t had that misfire this morning, their forces would never have been able to hold them all off.”

“I wonder about that,” Johnson said, almost to himself.

“Why?”

“She mentioned that club he owns being attacked by terrorists.”

“Yeah?”

“Those terrorists managed to blow themselves up, too.”

“Now that you mention it, I do remember something about them blowing themselves up in their car.”

“People that try to attack this King seem to end up dead very conveniently.”

“He’s lucky, I guess, because there was no evidence of foul play in that attack on the club.”

“You didn’t see any evidence of explosives on the property?”

“No, just the explosives the terrorists had.”

“We had how many decapitations?”

“Three, a couple of guys were run through, a couple looked like dogs took them down. Several had broken necks, a couple were shot…”

“And there were no survivors.”

“If there were, they got away clean. A few on their side went to the hospital.”

“What were their injuries?”

“One guy had a bullet in the shoulder, one of the women was upstairs and broke her arm when she fell from the impact. A guard that was upstairs was hit on the head by falling debris, and there were a several deaths in the guard posts.”

“One of the babies was hurt, too, but you know what’s strange?”

“What?”

“Neither one of them ever cried. They paid attention to everything anybody said, like they knew what we were saying. You ever see a baby go that long without interrupting in some way, or fussing, or just babbling? They didn’t do any of that.”

“Yeah, but they’re not human.”

“No, they definitely aren’t. They’re so white and they’ve got the biggest, brightest blue eyes I’ve ever seen.”

“The guards say they’re the spit and image of their father, the King. You going to follow up on any of this?”

“No, I’m going to clear it off my desk as quickly as I can, but I’m going to keep the file handy. I’ve got a feeling we’ll be back here before too long. Whatever is going on, somebody wants these people dead, and they aren’t likely to stop until they get what they want,” Johnson said as he headed for his car.

“That cop is suspicious,” Sookie told Bjorn and Vincent.

“He’s got no probable cause for a search warrant, though. We aren’t doing anything illegal,” Bjorn said.

“Yeah, but he doesn’t like us.”

“She does, though, so maybe she’ll get him off track,” Vincent said.

“Yeah. So now what do I do?”

“You and the boys finish eating then go to bed,” Bjorn told her.

“Why?”

“You were up really early today and you’re in shock. You need rest. I don’t want you outside and the gym is off limits. You could hang out in the den, but first I want you to get more sleep.”

“That makes sense. I need to feed the boys, too.”

“Right, so let’s head back upstairs.”

“Good idea. I’ll stay here and see that we’re secure and wait for the King to awake,” Vincent said.

“OK, let’s go, Sookie,” Bjorn said as he lifted Alex out of his chair. Sookie picked Aubie up and she headed for the elevator, Bjorn and Alex right behind her.

“I’m glad the elevator still works,” she said as they waited for the car.

“So am I,” Bjorn said as the door opened and they stepped in. “I took a risk telling Jerry and Amelia to use it when I did, but it’s got manual controls for emergencies, so they weren’t going to get stuck – not for too long, anyway. I needed to get everybody into the basement so I knew where you all were.”

“I felt weird having that hidey hole to go into while the others just had the magick room.”

“Don’t feel weird, Hon. Most people would only have the basement. Eric has that space specifically to keep you from being found or harmed. Everybody understands that.”

“Expect him to panic when he wakes up,” she told him as they stepped off on the third floor. “He’ll be able to smell that the boys and I were in there, and he’ll smell explosives. He’s going to be frantic until he knows we’re safe.”

“That’s why Vincent is staying. He might not if Jerry were here because he could stay with you while I secured the compound, but since he’s gone, somebody needs to be in charge while I’m with you.”

“You could have put Cody in here with me,” She said as she climbed onto the bed and laid Aubie on Eric’s pillow.

“No, he’s not qualified to keep an eye on you three. It’s got to be me or Jerry, or maybe Rafael…”

“Eww – I don’t ever want him watching me do anything!” She said as Bjorn laid Alex on Eric’s pillow next to Aubie.

“You don’t like Rafael?”

“NO, I don’t! He makes my skin crawl.”

“Too serpentine for you?” he laughed as he went around to his seat. “He’s some kind of reptilian Daemon.”

“He’s some kind of creepy. I’m always afraid he’s going to try to touch me. Yuck.”

“He won’t unless it’s to protect you. He’s as afraid of Eric as everyone else is.”

“Good.” She started to snuggle down and planned to snuggle the boys, but Alex sat up and pointed to the co-sleeper.

“Dat, Mamee!”

“Bed? You want to sleep in your bed?”

“Eeah, ma beh.”

“Say, ‘I’d like to sleep in my beD, Mommy,” she emphasized the D so he’d learn the word correctly.

“Ah’d wyg do sweep in ma bed, Mamee.”

“Good boy, Alex!” She gave him a snuggle and a big kiss as she moved him to the other side of her.

“Um, Bumby, Mama!”

“Aubie, say, “I want to go with Buddy, please?”

“Uh wa-do ah Bumby, peas?”

“Pretty good!” She picked him up and gave him a snuggle and a kiss and a tickle and put him next to Alex. The boys rolled so they were facing each other and at that moment the kitten came bouncing in the doorway and up on the bed. “Hey, Kitty! Where have you been?”

“Rowr, mow!” the kitten seemed to answer her and settled against Alex’s back.

“Dood giddy!” Alex said, looking back a little, then he held Aubie’s hand and they fell asleep facing each other, with smiles on their faces.

“Bjorn,” Sookie said softly, “they don’t seem traumatized at all, do they?”

“No, they were fine once they were with you.”

“Alex lost consciousness briefly – should we have Doctor Ludwig check him out?”

“Yeah, actually, we should already have done that, but I was afraid the cops would come in on us.”

“”Call her, please, so I can relax and sleep?”

Bjorn pressed his code for Ludwig on his phone and it only rang once before she picked it up. “Anderson?”

“Yes, Dr., I’m calling for Queen Sookie…”

“Problems with the pregnancy?”

“No, Ma’am, we had a terrorist attack this morning and Alex was unconscious for a minute. We thought maybe you’d want to check him over.”

“I do. I want to check Sookie’s blood pressure, too.” The phone clicked and instantly the little doctor was in the room. “I’m glad to see you in bed, little girl! I smell human blood and explosives. Anderson, fill me in as I check them over.”

“The boys were playing up in the gym when a grenade hit the roof. Alex was up near it, and he had a couple of lacerations and was unconscious when Sookie first called him.”

“It took me a couple of minutes to wake him up, but he didn’t cry or anything. Aubie healed the cuts.”

“Auberon healed him?” That took the doctor by surprise.

“Yeah, when he noticed the cuts, he sort of rubbed his finger over them in a circle and they disappeared.”

“Well! That’s the first bit of Fae magick we’ve seen from him, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I guess it is. Alex was already starting to heal, but it was amazing to watch them just fade away as Aubie did that.”

“Where were the cuts?”

“His left cheek and his left upper arm. One of the detectives took pictures of them.”

“Try to keep them from seeing him again so you don’t have to try to explain where they went,” the doctor advised as she looked Alex over.

“OK.”

“Anyone wounded on your side?”

Bjorn continued, “Amelia has a broken arm and maybe some cracked ribs. Jerry got hit on the head, so he went to the hospital with her. We had one Were who caught a bullet in the shoulder, and we lost 5 men in the explosions that hit the guard houses. We’d never have taken them without the Daemons.”

“There was no way to keep the police out of it, I suppose.”

“No, there wasn’t. We didn’t call them, but someone probably saw the explosions from the highway.”

“I hear construction upstairs…”

“There’s a hole in the roof that’s being repaired.”

“Any survivors on the other side?”

“None.”

“How did you explain that?”

“We told them their vehicles were destroyed when a grenade launcher discharged unexpectedly and it set them all off because they were so close, and they had so many explosives with them, and that if anyone survived they made a clean getaway.”

“Did they buy it?”

“Not entirely, but they don’t have anything solid against us.”

“They weren’t happy about the evidence of sword fighting,” Sookie reminded him.

“What did you tell them?”

“That we don’t have grenade launchers so we have to use what we can legally keep on the property.”

“Did they know you were lying?”

“I hope not. We do have a right to protect ourselves and they came at us with explosives and guns. I think that warrants a few decapitations,” Sookie said as the doctor put the blood pressure cuff on her arm.

“When are you leaving for New Orleans?”

Bjorn answered, “the 10th.”

“Any reason you can’t go now?”

Bjorn thought for a minute. “Well, Eric and Bill were supposed to do a short tour tonight and the next 4 days, then we have the opening in Austin, then we were going to leave that Monday.”

‘He won’t be going anywhere tonight, you can count on that,” Ludwig told him. “When he finds out what happened here today, his tour will be postponed. You tell him I recommend heading for New Orleans to let things cool off a while,” the doctor said as she looked at the blood pressure reading and shook her head. “I’m giving you a shot, Missy, and I want you in this bed until you have to travel.”

“But…”

“No buts – do you want to lose that baby?” Ludwig was pretty aggravated – this was a complication they didn’t need.

“No, of course not!”

“Then you stay in that bed. All this stress is no good for you. If things don’t improve, you might have to take some extreme measures.”

“Not the sleeping pills again!”

“No, you might need to go to Elfyria or to Freyja’s for a bit. Strike that – you might need to go to Freyja’s. That may be the only place to keep you safe.”

“I don’t want to leave the boys!”

“You might not have to. Their powers are increasing. I was very surprised by the results of those blood tests we did.”

“You were?”

“Yes, the combination of your innate powers, the Ambrosia, and Northman’s thousand year old blood is more potent than we expected.”

“Would it do any good to go like I did where we’re there for a week but I was only gone from here for 1 day?”

“Let me consult with Freyja about that. It’s possible we could send you there until you reach your first trimester, but you’d not be gone long here.

“There’s another consideration, Dr.,” Bjorn realized, “I’m afraid the police might come back here with a warrant to search the premises. ”

“We’ll have to have stronger protection put around the buildings and property. Will you see the detectives again?”

“They’re coming back at 7 to interview Eric.”

“Sookie, look in the book Nivian sent to you and see if there’s a spell you can work to persuade the detective that there’s nothing amiss here.”

“I thought I couldn’t affect free-will?”

“You can affect it, you just can’t override it without paying a price. What you’ll probably need to do is to find that seed within the detective’s mind that naturally doesn’t want the hassle of pursuing the issue and make it dominate any suspicions he has.”

“That actually doesn’t sound too difficult,” Sookie was surprised to say.

“Alright, now, lie back, little girl, because that shot is going to knock you out for a few hours. It’s stronger than I normally give you, but it won’t last as long.”

Sookie was unconscious before the doctor finished that last sentence.

“Alright, Anderson, tell the King to call me if he has any questions, but I do want you to consider changing your plans. Anything you can do that they can’t have anticipated is good. If the babies wake up hungry, just put them in place. She probably won’t even stir.”

“Alright, we’ll have a security meeting as soon as Eric gets here.”

“Be safe.” The doctor said very seriously and disappeared.

Bjorn suddenly remembered that he left the gun that goes in the hollowed-out book somewhere in the house. He was pretty sure it was in the basement, and that he’d put it in the cache for the weapons. He forgot to take it out… no, he decided not to take it out because the police were coming. That’s right. He’d go back and get it when there was a guard to watch Sookie and the babies. He was glad they were all asleep. The doctor was right, they needed rest, and he was pretty sure they weren’t going to get it here. The press would be all over them when the story got out.

If he were Eric, where would he take his family to keep them safe? They were definitely less likely to be attacked in the middle of New Orleans, but Bjorn thought he might recommend that they go to one of Eric’s clubs for a week or so. No one really knew about them outside of the Supe community, they had crazy good security now and New Centurion had already failed an attempt at one of the clubs, so they might consider them a bad risk. Of course, this house turned out to be a bad risk, too.

As usual, nobody would be reporting back to headquarters. The down side was that this time there were bodies in the morgue. That’s sloppy and Eric wouldn’t be happy about it. It did draw attention away from their own explosives, though, leaving armed soldiers who stormed onto private property as evidence of an unprovoked attack. Fucking terrorists, going after Sookie and the babies like that. He knew they assumed their bedroom was on the top floor. In most big houses, the main bedroom would be on the first or the top floor. He was sure that’s why Eric’s room was on the third floor – no one would logically think to look there first, so it gave extra time to avoid an invasion, or to prepare to react to intruders. The problem was, if they tried again, they’d go for the bottom floors and try to burn the whole place down.

The fact that they didn’t made Bjorn wonder what the real goal was. Were they trying to kill the whole family? Or did they think they’d get Eric, but not Sookie and the babies? That made more sense – a guy like Garner might consider it wrong to go after a woman who was not a direct threat. A Vampire and his sons, though, a King and his Princes, to boot, would be the real goal. They were trying to kill the Vampires and not the humans. They would consider killing armed guards to be collateral damage, but killing women was something else. Sookie had been seen on TV early in the morning, and they think she’s human. They think Sookie keeps a normal schedule, so she wouldn’t be up there. Alex was with her that time in New Orleans so maybe they waited until Eric would be at rest and Sookie would be up tending to the babies, because babies wake up early? They probably wouldn’t try to kill Sookie, then, but they might try to kidnap her.

Bjorn laughed to himself. Boy, would that be a mistake. Sookie was much more dangerous than every Supe on these grounds combined and then some. Speaking of power – how were they able to penetrate Sookie’s protection of the grounds? That needed to be addressed, too. She either needed to pump it up daily, or there was something that let them get through. Could they have some kind of magick working on their side? Would fanatical Christians use magick to strike at Vampires? Man, he couldn’t wait for Eric to get up. He kept going over the events of the day over and over, trying to examine every move and every possible angle, just as he knew Eric would.

“Knock, Knock!”

“Come on in, Margaret!” Bjorn was surprised to see her up here.

“Alicia is working on the Missus’ wardrobe and Bobbie is helping her, so I took it upon myself to bring you some lunch. Everyone is all off schedule now!”

“Thanks, Margaret. I did forget to eat.”

“There are two bottles here for the babies, too, and I’ll put this sandwich in the fridge for the Missus,” she said with a smile as she put the tray on the table and his dish in front of him.

“Are you alright, Margaret?”

“As well as can be expected. That was quite a scare this morning but we’re all in one piece so I’m focused on that.”

“You’re not going to quit on us?” He smiled at her.

“If you can take it, so can I. I’ve lived through worse.”

“You have?”

“I’m from Northern Ireland, my dear. It’s not the first time I’ve been around terrorists and bombs. They can turn up anywhere, any time, no matter who you are or where you live. At least here, we’ve got lots of power and protection on our side.”

“Anybody ever tell you you’re a badass, Margaret,” he teased her gently as she bent to put the sandwich in the mini-fridge.

“You have no idea, Bjorn! I’ve got this sweet young lady and two precious babies to take care of, and that’s what matters to me most. Nobody is going to scare me away from them.”

“Me, either,” he agreed as Margaret stood, patted his back and went back downstairs. He smiled to himself as he bit into the roast beef sandwich, starting to feel a little better about the events of the day. As horrible as it was, it could have been much, much worse, and he needed to remember that. Vincent was probably talking to the families of the men who were killed. If they were still in Shreveport, Sookie would insist on going to their funerals. What a security nightmare that would be. He’d better remind Eric of that when they talked, because there would be no stopping Sookie and that might be another reason to head for New Orleans or Austin sooner than planned. The boys woke up and wanted to feed, so he put them in place, let them feed as long as they wanted, then tucked them back in. They barely made a peep. He went over and over the day for what must have been hours, stopping at about 4:30 to tell Vincent what the doctor had said.

“You in there, Boss?” Jerry called from the stairs.

“Yeah, come in, Jerry! How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine. Not even a concussion. I already tucked Amelia in out in the chalet.”

“How is she?”

“Doped up. Her arm was cracked, but not broken, and her ribs are sore as hell. They taped her up and put a protective cast on her so the arm doesn’t go ahead and break.”

“Vincent still downstairs?”

“Yeah, he’s going to stay until you can both talk to Eric. He knows Eric will be beside himself. You want me to take over for you?”

“No, you go back out to Amelia. Unless there’s an emergency, I won’t expect to see you until tomorrow. See how she is then, and if you think it’s necessary, we’ll move her into the house so Alicia and Margaret can tend to her. You want Alicia to stay out there tonight?”

“That’s not necessary. She’ll sleep most of the time, and it shouldn’t be anything I can’t handle. I can cook for her if I need to, and help her with whatever. OK, see you in the morning.”

“Good night.”

Eric’s eyes popped open, and he knew something was wrong. He came out of his cache like a shot, but Vincent was standing in the doorway.

“They’re alright!” Vincent said to him.

“They’re not hurt?”

“No, they’re not hurt. They’re in your bedroom sleeping. We’ve had some casualties among the guards, some fighting wounds and a minor injury with one of the Witches, but no harm to your wife or sons…”

“But the girl…”

“That’s why she’s in bed. The doctor gave her a shot so she’d sleep. Her blood pressure was a little high, but otherwise, she’s fine. Just a little scared, as you might expect.”

“Who was it?” Eric motioned to the elevator and they talked as they walked.

“New Centurion.”

“How many?”

“About 30. I’ve reviewed the tapes over and over. Our response couldn’t have been much better. They came in using grenade launchers. That’s how they killed the Weres that were hit in the guardhouses. There’s also a hole in your roof, but it’s been covered for the night, and the construction will continue tomorrow. The police will be here at 7 to talk to you, so we should go up and talk to Bjorn. I’ll stay as long as you need me tonight and I’ve doubled the guard.”

“Thank you. I’m glad you were here.”

“I got here after the fighting. The bulk of the fighting was done by the Daemons. You’ll have to explain a few decapitated soldiers and some animal wounds. The Queen told them you had guard dogs that got out of the fences.”

“How did the police find out?”

“The explosions were visible and audible to the highway. Someone else called them. Sookie did her best to make them think we were not in possession of explosives.”

The elevator door opened on the third floor and Eric was out like a bullet.

“Sookie? Sookie?” He knew he should let her sleep, but he was desperate to see her awake and know she was OK. She opened her eyes and gave him a sleepy smile, “Hey!”

“Hey! You are not hurt?”

“Nope, I’m fine. Alex had some cuts but Aubie healed them.”

“What? Are you dreaming, Sookie?”

“No, I know what I’m saying. Alex had deep cuts on his cheek and his arm, and Aubie rubbed his finger over them in a circle and they disappeared. Have you talked to Bjorn and Vincent yet?”

“Only briefly.”

“Go do what you have to do. We’re fine. The cops will be back at 7.”

Eric pulled her up into a hug and lingered for a second, then kissed her lips and let her settle back. He stood up, telling Vincent and Bjorn “let’s go see the damage.”

The three of them went up to the fourth floor to find the floor damp and the hole in the roof covered with plastic and plywood for the night.

“Was anyone up here when it happened?” Eric was trying to be calm, but he was furious.

“Jerry, Amelia, Bobbie and the boys,” Bjorn told him. “Alex was up near the roof when it hit. I think Amelia tried to catch him, but the impact knocked her down and nearly broke her arm. Jerry was hit on the head with debris, and Bobbie and Aubie were mostly just dirty.”

“Bobbie is not hurt?”

“No, she’s fine. She’s helping Alicia try to save Sookie’s clothes that were up here. They’re wet and smell like smoke.”

“Where were you?”

“I was watching Sookie. When I heard the impact, I pulled her to the floor and had her call the boys to her, then she teleported the boys, Bobbie and me to the basement. I told Jerry to drag Amelia into the elevator and meet us down there, and Octavia, Alicia and Margaret came down while we were deciding what to do. Sookie used a black dish thing to see what was going on outside.”

“That black thing that was in my space? She used that?”

“Yes. I got two automatic weapons from the hiding space down there, and left Jerry with one in case anyone came down stairs. By the time I got up there, the fighting was over, and I heard sirens, so I stowed the guns and we went up to the kitchen to get our story straight. Rafael did most of the cleanup and came up with the story about their grenade launcher misfiring and setting their own trucks on fire. They said they were so close and had so many explosives that the one grenade set off a chain reaction.”

“What actually happened?”

“I’ve seen the tape several times,” Vincent said. “They came screaming up to the back and front at the same time. 2 armored vehicles stopped at the front gate and blew up the guard shack, then sent a grenade over the fence onto the roof. They came through the gate, but the spikes disabled their vehicles. The police apparently did not find the spikes, but they may once they examine the cars. At the same time, four armored vehicles came out of the woods, blowing up the guard shack and scaling the fence with ropes. Rafael and one of the others blew up the vehicles with our own grenade launchers, while others swooped onto the men behind the fence. The ones that made it into the compound were stopped by Weres and Daemons from the HQ. Two were taken for questioning. Daemons with swords swept around each side of the house, and the wolves formed a pack and attacked from the south. Bullets had no effect on the Daemons. One Were was injured, but all of the soldiers were killed before they could enter the house. They had released a second grenade, but a flier caught it and threw it into the clouds. It exploded before it came back down. I made a point of asking the lead detective how an armed force in 6 armored vehicles managed to travel the streets of Shreveport undetected.”

“I’d like to know that, too. This was a bold attack. They thought they had enough men to take our guards, but they didn’t know our guards aren’t human.”

“Yes, your majesty. That’s the only thing that tipped the scales in our favor,” Vincent pointed out the obvious, just to make sure they all knew where they were.

“Dr. Ludwig came to check Sookie and the boys. She recommended we get out of town for a while. She said if we can’t keep her safe, Sookie may need to go to Freyja’s until she’s past her first trimester,” Bjorn told him.

“Where would we go?” Eric asked, knowing he would have suggestions.

“Austin, or New Orleans. We need to do something unplanned. Another thing to keep in mind, if we’re in Shreveport when they hold the funerals for the men we lost…”

“Sookie will insist on attending,” Eric finished his thought.

“That would be a logistical nightmare, Eric, and you know we wouldn’t be able to stop her.”

“Not with her being able to teleport, you wouldn’t.” Eric agreed. “Vincent, you’ll see to the families of the slain men, their expenses and pensions?”

“Already in the works, your majesty. They’ll receive no bills, their children will have scholarships and the families will each have a trust set up for them.”

“Good. I…”

“ERIC!”

“Up here, Bill!”

“What in the world…?”

“We were attacked today. Let’s go to the servant’s quarters and watch the tape. I’ll fill you in.”

“Sookie and the children are alright, then?”

“Yes, they’re fine. Alex received some minor wounds, but he’s fine now. Let’s all adjourn to the HQ. I assume the police do not know there is film?”

“No, we told them we just watch, we don’t tape,” Bjorn confirmed.

The group of them went down the stairs and through the house. Eric stopped in the kitchen to hug Margaret and thank her for staying. He was getting as bad as Sookie, he thought to himself, viewing everyone as family.

Eric and Bill watched the tape twice, since it wasn’t very long, and Vincent narrated. They were talking about their possible next steps when the front gate notified them that the detectives had returned. All four of them went into the house and waited in the living room as the detectives were directed to park in the driveway in front of the garage. Margaret showed them in. Eric and Vincent were standing at the fireplace, being as imposing as they could, which was lot, while Bill sat in a chair to the side of the room. Bjorn stood near the front door, so he was behind them.

Vincent made the introductions. “Your majesty this is Detective Johnson, and Detective Forbes. Eric Northman, King of the Louisiana and Nevada territories.” Eric caught a whiff of attraction from the female, so he gave her a lot of eye contact, though she never spoke.

“Detectives, I’m sorry we couldn’t meet under more pleasant circumstances. You wished to speak to me?”

“Your wife seemed to think that this attack was perpetrated by a paramilitary group called New Centurion. Do you have any reason to believe this is true?”

“Yes, I do. They followed our caravan when last we returned from our home in New Orleans, and we’ve caught their men trying to establish surveillance on our home here.”

“There have also been strange cars staking out the property,” Bjorn added.

“How do you know it was New Centurion?”

“We traced their license plates. We interviewed the men we caught. They tried to bomb one of my businesses in another city but their plan was foiled before anyone was hurt.”

“Did you report these incidents to the police?”

“We did not. We handled each incident internally.”

“We need to know about these things, Mr. Northman.”

“You would have done nothing to help us. My relationship with your department has been strained, to say the least. Shreveport PD regularly raids my club in town. There was little effort made when the club was bombed a couple of months ago…”

“The people who did it were killed.”

“They were a part of a larger group of fanatics, but your department never bothered to follow through.”

“People who try to kill you have a funny way of blowing themselves up, Mr. Northman.”

“Fanatics often let their zeal override their good sense. Extremists are rarely competent in anything but hatred.”

“If this was New Centurion, they’re trained soldiers – the best of the best. You don’t think they’d be competent?”

“I think equipment failure can defeat even the finest soldier, and explosives are volatile and unpredictable.”

“So we’re just supposed to believe that you’re that lucky?”

Eric didn’t like his tone and let him know it. “No, detective, you’re supposed to investigate whence came these men, who paid them, and why they attacked my family. My wife and children could have been killed.”

“How many werewolves do you employ, Mr. Northman?”

“Do I employ werewolves? I have no idea. I don’t do the hiring. Vincent does that for me.”

“These assailants were hacked to death, and torn to pieces by animals.”

“May I be frank, Detective?”

“Shoot.”

“These men came on my property and tried to harm my pregnant wife and two infant sons. The manner in which they were dispatched is of no concern to me. I only care that they were stopped, and cannot try again.”

“How do we know this wasn’t a drug deal gone bad?”

“I’m a family man, detective, I have no interest in anything but the care of my family and the administration of my properties. I have more money than you can imagine. It would be absurd for me to involve myself with anything as seedy and high risk as the drug trade. My wife and I are under constant scrutiny by the press. We’d never be able to hide something like that. We’re too well known.”

“Mr. Northman, I have a feeling you think you’re above the law.”

“Not at all. I’m a law-abiding citizen. I pay my taxes, I run my businesses, I care for my family.”

“You take the law into your own hands.”

“When do you suppose I did that?”

“I think you had something to do with those people who tried to bomb your club blowing themselves up.”

“And your proof would be…?”

“There is none. But today…”

“I rest in the daytime, detective. It grieves me to say that I could not come to my family’s defense when they needed me. Because I can’t always be there, I hire the best guards I can find and I pay them extremely well. If those men had never come on my property, they would still be alive. If they’d never thrown those bombs, several of my men would still be alive. We are the victims here, detective. These people have erroneously decided that Vampires are evil. My children have been called “spawn of Satan” which also tells you what they think of me. Their bigotry has driven them to kill, which as you well know, is not unusual behavior for bigots. I have done nothing to these people, yet they attack my family when it is at its most vulnerable. You, detective, should be as outraged as I am. You should be defending our civil rights, our right to simply live our lives in peace.”

Sookie walked into the living room with a baby in each arm then and said, “excuse me, Eric, it’s dinnertime,” and continued into the kitchen with them.

“Yes, Sweetheart, we’re just finishing up here. Anything else, detective?”

“Don’t leave town.”

“Oh, but we probably will. We’ve just been discussing that it might be better to go to one of our other homes for a while. We had planned to leave on the 10th, but we think it might be wiser to go sooner.”

“Our investigation will take some time and we’d like your cooperation. Your men used excessive force…”

“Men in armored vehicles came at us with bombs and guns. We defended ourselves with swords, dogs and only a few hand guns. We are all lucky to be alive.”

Vincent pulled a sheet of paper from his coat. “Here’s the information you requested. Follow the trail – it goes right back to New Centurion, and so should you. That’s my phone number there. If you need anything further, contact me. I’ll be able to get in touch with the King no matter where he is. We won’t be giving anyone information as to where they are going and when. One request before you go – please show the King the pictures you took of his son’s injuries this morning?”

Sally Forbes was so excited her hand was shaking, but she managed to pull up the pictures of Alex’s wounds. She never saw such a mixture of sadness and fury in anyone’s eyes as Eric showed then.

When he could speak, Eric said, “Do you have any concept of how special these children are? How rare the blessing that I was able to father them? You get the people that did that to my baby. If you don’t want me to take the law into my own hands, then you go get them. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my family is waiting dinner for me.” Eric stalked out of the room without another word. Vincent shoo’d the detectives out the door, answering another minor question or two as he walked them to the car.

Eric went into the kitchen, pulled Alex out of his highchair and sat down, hugging him tight, his cheek against Alex’s forehead, big hand stroking his son’s back, his eyes closed and brimming with red. No one spoke or moved for a long time, knowing too well what was going through Eric’s mind.

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