We all lapsed into silence as we thought about our predicament and tried to come up with a plausible alternative to possibly being a sitting duck when we landed.
“What if . . .” I paused before finishing my thought aloud because I realized it might be a mistake to share too much information about myself. However, Mr. C and Diantha were already looking at me with expectant looks on their faces.
Oh well. I needed to survive the day more than I needed to keep my secrets.
“What if I knew a fairy that could pop us off the plane to somewhere safe?”
“Brilliant!” Mr. C exclaimed in his normal congenial manner. “That would work perfectly.”
At least they didn’t ask me how I knew fairies.
“Okay. Then I need to use a phone.”
Diantha led me to one of the seats that had a phone embedded in the chair in front of it.
I just hoped she would answer.
After three rings, she finally picked up. “Claudine Crane.”
“Claudine. It’s Sookie.”
“Sookie! I knew you survived that mess in Rhodes but are you okay?” I wasn’t surprised that my fairy godmother knew I was still alive and kicking.
“I’m uninjured but I have a problem.” I paused. “Claudine, can you pop into a moving airplane?”
“Of course I can.” She said easily. “As long as you are there that is. Do you need help?”
“Yes. Can you pop to me now and I’ll explain?”
Before I even finished the statement, Claudine was standing in front of me surveying the plane.
“Hello demons.” She said cheerfully in the direction of Mr. C and Diantha.
They both nodded in reply as Claudine turned back to face me. “So what seems to be the problem?”
For the next ten minutes, I retold our tale from Rhodes and the concerns we had about landing in Louisiana. I finished my story with a request that made Claudine’s eyes go wide.
“You want me to pop the vampires to safety too?” She squealed. “What if they wake up because they smell me!? Some older vampires could do that.”
“Then it won’t work and you need to pop away.”
“They may be too fast and get me before I can teleport.”
“Then we can chain them in their coffins. All you need to do is go get us silver chains and I’ll chain them before you pop them.” She looked thoughtful for a moment so I added. “Please Claudine. I’m not leaving them here.”
“The Queen will owe me a favor.” She said clearly.
Mr. C spoke up from behind her. “I agree. I am authorized to negotiate for her during the day under emergency circumstances. I will insure she knows that you are owed for saving her.”
She nodded at him before finally shooting me a look. “I’ll be right back.”
I sighed with relief as she left. She was going to help us.
“You are very good at thinking outside the box, Ms. Stackhouse.” The demon lawyer said brightly.
“Thanks.” I whispered as I felt some of my adrenaline leaving my body and tiredness creeping in. It had been a long night and the today was barely started.
I had just sat back down in my seat when Claudine popped back in. “Here are some of the chains. I will bring more back with me.” She laid the heavy chains in the seat beside me and popped away again.
I started picking up the chains and saw another hand reaching for the ones I had yet to touch.
“Illhelpya.” Diantha said.
With Diantha’s help, it took almost an hour to trap the vampires in their coffins with the silver chains. Claudine had even popped to a hardware store and bought locks that she gave me the keys to for later.
The problem we all came up with, when everyone was ready to leave, was where we should go.
“The Queen’s compound would be the most secure and the best place for everyone to find donors to heal.” Mr. C offered.
“But it’s also the most obvious if we are worried about a takeover.” I added.
Everyone nodded his or her heads in agreement and we sat in silence for a few moments.
“What about Fangtasia?” I asked.
“Obvious.” Diantha answered.
“Yes, but Eric and Pam are the least injured. Once they’ve fed, then they should heal quickly. Wouldn’t we be safest in their area with vamps loyal to them and the Queen?” I argued.
“There is some logic in that.” Claudine agreed.
Mr. C seemed to think aloud for a moment. “We should gain some time because anyone waiting would probably be Weres, and they would expect us to still be on the plane. They would be confused and most likely wait on the vampires to rise in order to get new orders. That would give Sheriff Northman time to gather his forces to protect the Queen.” He paused before nodding his head. “Yes, this is our best bet.”
“Why don’t you go first?” I motioned to the lawyer. “You can direct Claudine where to pop everyone to and I have to stay until the end so that she can find the plane.”
He nodded his head and Claudine walked over to touch his shoulder before they disappeared.
“Runningouttatime.” Diantha said as they popped away.
I hadn’t even thought to look at the time nor did I know how long the flight to Louisiana took.
“How long do we have?” I asked.
I sighed as I removed my ponytail holder and pulled my hair back up in a tighter ponytail. “Of course not.”
Claudine popped back a few minutes later and declared that the demon had located an underground area in the bar that had several unoccupied rooms. She would be popping the vampires into different rooms. She started with the Queen and Seigbert to the first room, followed by Cleo and Bill to the second room, and Eric and Pam were popped to the last room. Each trip she took only lasted about two minutes but she had to take each coffin one at a time. By the time she was done almost fifteen minutes had passed and we could feel the plane starting to descend.
“We need to get Quinn and his sister.”
Claudine nodded and Diantha led the way into the room where she had stashed my most recent ex. When we walked in, a small part of me felt guilty and sad at the sight in front of me. Quinn was covered in silver chains to prevent him from changing or escaping. His skin was burning where the silver touched him and his sister was tied up tightly beside him. I felt bad for her because it looked very uncomfortable and probably painful.
Fortunately, Diantha had gagged them.
Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, the gag didn’t work on their thoughts and Quinn was thinking loudly.
I’m lucky I heard them decide to take us all to that Fanger’s bar. All I need to do is survive until De Castro’s spy rises and can alert him.
I tried to tune into his thoughts more, but they became snarly and indecipherable again once Claudine stepped into the room. I considered asking him about the spy and getting more information by touching him, but the plane was getting closer and closer to landing. The interrogation would have to wait even if we were going out of the frying pan and into the fire.
“Take Quinn first.” I said to Claudine before adding. “Make sure he isn’t seen by anyone other than us and Mr. C.”
Quinn started to struggle and I knew he knew I’d heard his thoughts.
“Whatsthematter?” Diantha asked quickly as Claudine nodded and popped away with Quinn.
“Quinn was thinking about a spy at Fangtasia.”
Where I would have cursed or sighed or screamed at this news, Diantha simply nodded before going over to check Frannie’s bindings.
I wished I could be that calm.
I started pacing around the cabin as I tried to consider the implications of a spy being amongst Eric’s vampires.
“We will find the spy.” Diantha said in a much clearer tone than I was used to her using.
I turned to look at her as Claudine popped back in the room and grabbed Frannie before disappearing again.
“How can you be so sure?”
Great. No pressure there.
I was about to let Diantha know how many things were wrong with what she just said when the fasten seatbelt sign came on and the Captain’s voice filled the cabin. I ignored the scripted ‘arrival speech’ about seatbelts and focused on his estimation of time.
We only had ten minutes left.
And we hadn’t decided what to do about the pilots.
Thinking about the pilots made me realize something else.
“Diantha, why weren’t there any stewardesses on the flight?”
I must have looked confused because she elaborated slightly.
I stared at her for a moment before I decided not to worry about it now. The important thing was that we didn’t have to concern ourselves with a plausible story for human witnesses. However, we still had the pilots to worry about.
Claudine popped back into the room just as I asked, “What do we do about the pilots?”
“Leavethem.” Diantha shrugged.
“The Weres won’t hurt them and the vampires will probably glamour them later.” Claudine added as she grabbed Diantha’s hand. “I’ll be right back and we’ll be done.”
Without another word Claudine and Diantha were gone and I was left on an empty plane with only my chaotic thoughts for company.
For a moment, I started to become overwhelmed with panic and exhaustion. However, I took a deep breath and forced back my emotions since they couldn’t help me now. Instead, I considered what needed to be done next.
We needed to make sure that Quinn stayed hidden and I would have to try to read his mind again to identify the spy. If I could identify the spy before nightfall, then we needed to find a way to keep him in the dark until Eric could take care of him.
There were also injured vamps that would need healing. My heart hurt as the memory of Eric’s burns flashed behind my eyes. Again, I pushed away my emotions and focused on the problem at hand.
All the vamps were going to need blood to heal and I was guessing that they would be rather dangerous to any humans that came close to them before they were healed. I thought the problem over for a minute and decided to ask Mr. C about the hobbit doctor I’d seen when the Maenad attacked me. Perhaps she would be best suited to tell us how to take care of the vamps, since she seemed to be a doctor for supernaturals.
All of these plans sped through my mind in the two minutes or so that it took Claudine to pop back to my side. We didn’t speak as she grabbed my hand and suddenly I felt like I was falling into nothingness. I didn’t have time to contemplate the feeling further though, as my feet were suddenly on solid ground again. I’m sure my face was a perfect picture of my shock and awe at what had just happened as I turned to look at Claudine.
She simply smiled at my reaction.
It took me a couple of moments to recover before I remembered my manners. I reached out to hug Claudine in thanks but she stepped back.
I’m sure my face showed my hurt and confusion.
“Sorry.” She said smiled softly, “but this place is already going to smell like fairy and all of you are going to have slight traces of my scent. It’s going to be hard enough to control the injured vamps without smelling more like me.”
I smiled in understanding. “Thank you for all of your help.”
“You’re welcome.” Claudine replied warmly before popping away.
I sighed as my closest daytime ally left, but I understood that she was uncomfortable around the vampires and that we didn’t need her scent to be any stronger in the underground area. Straightening my shoulders, I shored up my determination and set out to find everyone.
I took a moment to take in my surroundings before deciding which direction to take.
I knew I was in the basement of Fangtasia and Claudine said there were several rooms down here, but I didn’t know my way around. I’d never been in the basement of Eric’s bar. I was currently in a rather large room with boxes, which appeared to be bar stock, sitting in the far right hand corner. Other than that, the room was rather sparse with only a locked cabinet along the left wall and several chains hanging from the other walls.
I closed my eyes for a moment and shook my head when I saw the chains. I didn’t have time to let my thoughts linger on the implication of those chains.
Before I could get lost in my thoughts, I turned to my right and started walking towards the only other door in the room. As soon as I opened it, I heard voices and was surprised I hadn’t heard them before. As I closed the thick door behind me, it occurred to me that the rooms behind the door were soundproofed to the room and bar beyond. Interesting.
There was a light on in the short hallway I entered and I was thankful. I also saw two doorways on either side of the hallway, making a total of four. I ignored them for now and walked straight down the hallway to stand beside Mr. C and Diantha. They grew silent with my arrival so I decided it was time to put my plans into action.
Starting with Mr. C, I shared my thoughts. “The vamps are going to be thirsty and angry when they rise. I would like you to call Dr. Ludwig. I assume you know how to contact her.” He nodded. “Have her bring as much bagged blood as she can for the vamps. They would likely drain any live donors and we just don’t have time to deal with that right now. I’m sure the Queen and Eric will pay her well for her trouble, and perhaps she knows of a way to start giving them blood while they are still dead for the day.”
Without waiting for any further response from the lawyer, I turned to Diantha. I momentarily paused when she smiled at me knowingly. I don’t know what the smile meant and I didn’t want to ask.
“I have to question Quinn.” I said calmly. “Would you please join me?”
I knew he was tied up in silver but I had no desire to be in a room with him alone.
Diantha nodded and led the way to the first door on the right while Mr. C took out his phone and started dialing. I paused slightly before following Diantha into the darkened room as a wave of exhaustion hit me again. I had been up for over twenty-four hours, nearly been killed, been through an emotional reunion with Eric that was rudely interrupted, teleported from a moving airplane, and I was starving.
Well, I wouldn’t be sleeping anytime soon but I could surely do something about food.
I stepped back from the doorway and called to Mr. C. “After you talk to the doc, could you order us some food? I’m starving and we need to keep up our strength.”
The demon nodded his head as he continued to talk on the phone and I turned back to the task at hand: Finding a spy.