The Mythical Creature's Guide to Modern Warfare (12/26)

"I mean, these days, character isn't destiny any more. Economics is destiny. Ideology is destiny.
Bombs are destiny. What does a famine, a gas chamber, a grenade care how you lived your life?
Crisis comes, death comes, and your pathetic individual self doesn't have a
thing to do with it, only to suffer the effects."

Salman Rushdie The Satanic Verses

Chapter Twelve, Lima

"Life is a fucking, grave-robbing shit-hole in which nothing is ever accomplished, nothing ever changes, and, if we're lucky, there's a war going on somewhere so that a few of the thankless billions get a quick ticket out of this hell and into the next."

The pack, which was gathered around the antique dining room table, looked at me oddly. I didn't know why the gnome-kicking hell the vampires had a dining room, let alone that they'd had one until they'd forced us to eat in there on Thanksgiving despite the fact that I'd protested it was disrespectful to our eastern brothers and sisters to celebrate a holiday which, in its own right, celebrated the anglicization of their culture and the destruction of their people. But they had one, and we were starting Christmas dinner around it, having finished Christmas lunch about ninety minutes before. Sometime before then, Jake and I had helped each other (by which I mean, torn to the best of our abilities with our teeth) out of our elf costumes and returned to our rock/den/lean-to that I need to find a better name for, where were changed into real clothes... after a while. I really swear I'm going into heat for real the way we've been going at it lately, which isn't just the normal hormonal teenage way, I think, but something where we need each other all the time...

Hell, I'm half-ready to kick out the rest of the pack and, er, bury the bone with Jake right now. However, the big difference between this desire and what I'm talking about is that, thankfully, I can control it. This new one... not so much. Thus the necessitated quickie at our place before the finding of clothing.

But back to my pronouncement, which had all of the pack gathered around the table looking at me like I'd gone crazy. Or even crazier then I normally was.

"What the hell, Leah?" Seth asked. As he was sitting across from me, I kicked him under the table. Both of us being werewolves, it hurt my foot and his leg about the same, but it was worth it.

"Shut up, you moron – I'm trying to do a toast here."

"Is that what it is?"

I glared at all four of them and lifted up my glass of eggnog. I hated eggnog, but somehow Esme had managed to make it taste so wonderful I couldn't put it down. Damn these vampires and their cooking abilities. Either that, or the cocaine they bake into their food to make us think they can took. Whatever. You notice for this round of meals Nessie was missing, out hunting with her parents though, which probably means there're stronger drugs in the food this time around. I continued glaring at them until they raised their glasses as well. "Life being what it is, may we get through it without too much hassle."

I downed my glass. The others didn't.

"The first part sounded like Leah alright," Quil said, looking at me curiously. "The second part..."

"I'll have you know," I gestured with the carving knife, stolen from Jake, who'd been calmly using it to try and carve the roast beast and ignore his friends, "I can be nice when I want to be."

I was confronted with three sets of disbelieving eyes and a fourth that wanted me to, kindly, hand the knife back. I did, and picked up the ladle for the cranberry sauce. "I think they'd believe you better, kitten," Jake said, doing the Alpha/patriarch/whatever thing and handing out very large, very plentiful slices of roast, "if you weren't waving the spoon at them."

I waved the spoon at him instead. "Don't call me kitten."

"I agree," said Seth, looking slightly green, "don't."

"Sure, sure. Would you prefer some variant of puppy instead or should I go for the general food-group category?"

Scooping a healthy portion of mashed potatoes onto his plate, Embry gagged and wound up with a fair bit in his lap. "You two are sickening."

"I," said Quil, taking the bowl of potatoes from Embry and upending it on his own plate, "find it hilariously amusing."

"You find Barbie dolls and Disney movies amusing."

"For the twenty millionth time, Claire is three. That is what three-year-olds do."

"I can't believe you imprinted on a child."

"I can't believe you've been talking about it for months, but still haven't asked out Ruth Huntley."

"Wait," this was news to me. How had I missed it? Oh right, sex with Jacob. "You mean Ruth Huntley as in Tom-Huntley-the-Quarterback-when-I-graduated's little sister?" Quil nodded. I turned to Seth. "You know if you ever do anything that necessitates her brother beating you up, the fact that it'd sorta go the other way around will probably not be good."

"I guess," said Seth once he realized I wasn't making fun of him but merely looking out for the pack, however oddly I might be doing it, "I'll just have to make sure I don't do anything to make her brother want to beat me up."

"How many times have you wanted to beat up Jake?"

"Ah," he said sagely.

Even more sagely, Embry, on Quil's other side, pointed out around a mouthful of roast, "Furt 'e needs tew ast out Rooth."

Jake, who was playing footsie with me under the table (I never said we could control all our hormones. Hot eighteen-year-old Alpha male. Very receptive twenty-one-year-old Beta/Alpha female. No parents. Oodles of free time. The tre-est cool rock you've ever seen. You do the math), looked startled. "Oddly enough, Embry has a point."

"I resent the implication. I always have points. They're usually just not good ones."

"Like the one where you said Tanya would never recognize you as a human?"

"She'd never seen me as one before!"

"And he decided she wanted to fuck you within ten seconds of seeing you as a wolf. The woman's not sane."

"Do you think it's possible her ninth century gonorrhoea continued destroying her brain after she became a vampire?"

"It's possible. I heard hair and nails grow for like six months after you die."


Our conversation – and the eating that took place around it – was interrupted by another one of those deathly midget screams. The dining room rang with dropping silverware and and chairs clattering to the ground as we rushed into the living room, where Alice was shouting, "Hurry!" at the top of her lungs to the fast retreating backs of Carlisle, Emmett, Jasper, and all the Denali's.

"What is it?" Jake asked the elf, her once jauntily-pinned hat now fallen to the floor, her tiny body quaking in her jingle-belled feet.

"Irina," she said quickly, almost too fast for our ears to catch, "she was going to surprise us... Saw Edward and Bella out with Nessie... She doesn't know..."

I phased right then and there, my clothes ripping into pieces as I started running in the direction I'd seen the others go. Only one piece of clothing hadn't fallen off, and that was the silver necklace Jake had given me, thick and long enough to look like a collar when I was phased. There was a small, diamond-shaped pendant too with the words:


If lost, please call

(360) 928 5959

– Jacob –

which had made me both "überhappy" (another German term, this one meaning a she-wolf-who-really,-really-wants-to-ravish-her-Alpha-for-his-Christmas-present, derived from the Latin "happius," meaning horny-werewolf) and ignited a feminist anger in me that had lasted until I managed to get my tongue in his mouth. Even if the number was for the Forks Police Department.

It was fear that gripped me now. Because Irina hadn't been told, like her Denali coven members, that Nessie wasn't an Immortal Child. She hadn't seen her grow in one short week more then most did in ten times that.

Because Kate had, among the various tales of people-whose-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren-are-now-dead she'd fucked, had told us how her creator had been destroyed by the Volturi for creating an Immortal Child, and that kinda thing generally made people kinda paranoid about all sorts of stuff.

Because, if we didn't catch up with Irina and force the truth into her, I knew we were all going to die.

I caught up the stragglers before long, and, together, we followed her scent into the mountains. The rest the pack was no more then five seconds behind me, but we could see where she was going: towards the Rez.

Fuck fuck fuckity bad. I cursed. Either Sam's pack would catch her (if we were lucky) and tear her to pieces, probably igniting a war between us and them (which, again, was if we were very lucky), or Sam's pack would catch us trying to catch her (if we were less lucky) and ignite a war between us and them, or nobody would catch anybody (if fate did that piece of melon-smoking, groin-grabbing shit she usually did when I was involved in anything) and she's ignite a war between us and the crap-sucking, blood-drinking, people-killing Italians that would almost certainly end in our complete and utter destruction as well as the at least partial-destruction of Forks, La Push, and anybody who happened to be en route. Well, at least we won't have to go to Mom and Charlie's wedding now, I thought oddly.

You're one fucked up piece of goblin-shit, Leah.

The other three echoed Embry's sentiment.

Well, what the fuck are we going to do? We can't go onto the Rez without Sam getting at our throats. They can't go on the Rez without needed glue and an ice pack afterwards. And yet that's where she's going.

Jake, doing the Alpha thing that made certain hormones go out of control but which other ones, like adrenaline, luckily seemed to be keeping in check at the moment, Are you within Edward's hearing range?

Yeah. The worst swear-word I've heard him use so far is "drat." Sexually-repressed, secretly gay, mind-raping Victorian.

Tell him we'll take La Push and try to cut her off at the far boundary.

I looked towards the bloodsucker in question briefly as I ran, trying to get to the near border. He nodded, and started telling the others where to head. Leaving me heading onto the Rez informal treaty had kept me from entering since late September.

I crossed into Sam's land easily, though the more-or-less sudden shift of smells away from the pine-and-earth of the land we patrolled (and thus made smell even pinier and earthier) to the ocean-breeze-and-fire-ashes of the other pack was startling. Even if I hadn't once patrolled their very land, I could have told you their routes without much thought. Fear crept into me that Sam or Paul or Jared or one of the younger boys would come across me and... well, keep me from catching Irina, which was the future I really didn't want, but generally try and bother me too. The others were just too far back to see me in the darkness, though I could have no more then a quarter-mile on them, and thanks to the soft sprinkle this Washington night had given us, they could at least make out my paw prints in the mud if they couldn't catch the sugary-sweet-and-bitter trail.

Fucking beaver-banging, horse-humping, elephant-eating, squirrel-smoking, lemur-licking, bunny-killing, bloodsucking bitch! I don't know if it was to Irina I thought this unique curse to, or fate for doing this the moment I tried to toast her.

For some reason, this made Quil think of English. There once was a girl named Irina who liked to sleep with hyenas, he began.

But try as she might, all day and night, my little brother of all people finished, it always ran out of the arena.

I was just beginning to pass the houses on the very far outskirts – Ms. Call's, the guy who drives the Frito-Lay truck's, one of Ruth Huntley's uncles' houses – and the smell of Sam's pack was getting stronger. As was Irina's. Oh my great, 'nad-stealing, horn-blowing, bottle-fucking God, I'm going to die listening to idiots, I thought loudly over them. I am going to fucking die listening to my pack make up limericks about a vampire whore not a mile from home, having done nothing with my life but... What had I done? Besides Jake, a lot?

And the smell sea-smell was getting a lot stronger, despite the fact I was running parallel to the ocean. The others were catching up with me – dizzyingly, I could see myself in their eyes now, even if I was too far ahead to make out very clearly – and could smell the same thing.

Sam wants another pussy fight.

Hello Captain Obvious, I said.

You think he sent anyone out after Irina, or he decided to have them all come and watch him yell at us?

My brother, ever the optimist, assured us, The Cullen' will head her off.

I don't think so, Sargent Stupid.

How come Quil gets to be a captain?

Jake groaned. Doesn't Sam have a fiancée he's supposed to be making doilies with or something? His mental picture of Sam and Emily making doilies together nearly caused me to trip with laughter. There were pink aprons involved, and not on Emily.

You know how it goes: if Sam ever lets himself have any fun, the rod'll fall right out of his ass, and we all know how much he doesn't what that. I tried very hard with this statement to not let my mental comparison of Sam, a.k.a. Mr. Have-We-Started-Yet? (a.k.a. Mr. What-Do-You-Mean-You're-Done?), to Jake, who is Jake, no further explanation needed. Not only would it probably kill my brother with embarrassment, but because I didn't need Jake's ego any more inflated then it already is. We don't want him to be the Great Flying Werewolf of La Push, now do we?

The shadows were so deep I didn't see the wolf step out in front of me until I'd almost run into him.

Chapter Thirteen