I have to admit that I never had any high expectations where Jason Stackhouse was concerned. From what I had seen of him through the years since his sister had entered my bar and my life, he was the epitome of the redneck womanizer. Pam had even once compared him to me, before I became pussy wiped by Sookie’s fairy vagina – her words, not mines. There was no denying that my Bonded’s brother tended to think more with what was in his pants than with his brain and that he had his fair share of past dalliances, Sarah Newlin being the most flagrant example of his poor judgement. But the same thing could be said about me… My own promiscuity had lead to my inability to save my family and I just had to think of how I had used both Yvetta and Nora, the former to forget about the woman I couldn’t have – i.e. Sookie, and the latter to numb the pain said woman had inflicted on me by her rejection.
Yes, in a way Jason Stackhouse and I were quite alike. And as I listened to him, telling us of his plans on how to rescue the women of Bon Temps who had been snatched by the Hep-V horde, I realized that like me he was also quite a tactician. Gone was the man whose game plan when we had raided the Vampire Authority Headquarter more than six months ago was to shot without asking question. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but Jason Stackhouse had grown up. I was willing to bet that it had happened a little before his stint at Vamp Camp. From what I had gathered he had successfully infiltrated the late Governor Burrell version of the Nazis’ death camp, only to be betrayed by Sarah Newlin (what a surprise!) and being thrown to the hungry vampires of the female general population.
“I’m impressed, Stackhouse” I said once he finished.
“Well, thanks… But that ain’t the end. I mean, yeah that’s how I plan on us gettin’ the girls back, but then after that we got bigger fish to fry.”
“Stackhouse, that ain’t what we…”
“Andy, please, let him finish” said Sookie.
My lover squeezed my hand, sending me reassurance through our bond.
“Thanks, Sook. So getting them girls back is just the beginning. We ain’t gonna be safe ‘till we get rid of them vamps…”
I felt my anger rises and my fangs clicked down. What the fuck was Stackhouse thinking?
“Relax, Eric…” whispered my bonded. “This isn’t what you’re thinking about… Let him finish…”
“Thanks, sis. Yeah, what I meant was getting rid of them Hep-V vamps, of course! I ain’t gonna get rid of all of you, I mean I ain’t gonna get rid of Jess and if I was thinking of getting rid of you, then Sook would use her microwave fingers on me… Anyway, we have to find a way to cure Hep-V!”
I sighed. As if the thought of finding a cure hadn’t cross any scientists’ mind in the last six months.
“That’s a grand idea, Stackhouse, but finding a cure for Hep-V could take years, decades… Scientists have been trying to find a cure for AIDS for the past 30 years with no success. And finding a cure won’t be the end of it! Humans have become carriers of the disease and are passing it to healthy vampires. What we need is both a cure for vampires and a cure for the humans! Even if the world best scientist had all the resources and information regarding how…”
“What if I told you there was already an antidote? An antidote that can cure Hep-V and protect vampires from getting it? Like the ultimate vaccine?”
Now that got my attention.
“How do you know that?” I asked, on the edge of my seat.
“After y’all escaped from Vamp Camp, the FBI took over the compound. They fed us people that they couldn’t find anything ‘bout the virus, how it was created, how they had spread it… So yeah, the official story was that Burrell’s goons were able to wipe away all their computers hard drives. But I was there, man! I mean, up ‘til you found me I was nearly dead, but after… I saw the carnage you and all them other vampires did with those people back there, no way they were able to delete everything before dropping dead! So, I had Wade and Rocky hacked the FBI database – don’t ask me how, I just know they did – and they found…”
“You what?!” yelled the Sheriff. “You had Holly’s boys hacked the FBI?! Are you outta your mind, Stackhouse?”
I was confused. Who were these Wade and Rocky? My lover seemed to feel my confusion and whispered in my ear.
“Wade and Rocky are kinda Andy’s stepsons. I’m saying kinda, since he’s not married to Holly yet.”
“I’m the damn Sheriff of this town, Stackhouse! How will it look like when the Feds come knockin’ on my door and arrest those two lil’ bastards?”
The Sheriff and Stackhouse were in such a screaming match that they weren’t paying us any attention anymore.
“If those boys are his significant other’s sons” I whispered to Sookie, “then why is he calling them little bastards?”
A smile spread on my Bonded’s face.
“Back when he first started to date Holly, the boys posted a picture of Andy’s naked butt on Facebook. Oh, and Adilyn has quite a crush on Wade. Andy thinks that if he and Holly were to marry and the kids were to start dating, then it would border on incest.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, lover, but relationship between stepsiblings and cousins and whatnot… Isn’t this a thing that is quite common in the South? The Hot Shot inbreeding Were-Panthers settlement is the best example…”
I was rewarded by a swift elbow kick.
“Relax, Andy! Wade said the FBI ain’t ever gonna be able to track them down! Did some thingy that made it look like it came from Bolivia or something…”
“Gentlemen!” I finally said, making an end to their argument. “Sheriff, I understand the awful situation you are in, being a man of the law and having your stepsons break the law… But just know that if the FBI were to come knocking on your door regarding your stepsons’ offenses, I will make sure that any accusations will be lifted swiftly. A little glamour has never hurt anyone. Now, Stackhouse, what did you find?”
“Thanks, man. So… The scientist, the one who created Hep-V… Well, she started out as legit, you see? She was looking for a cure for Hep-D, for both vampires and humans since, you know, humans are carrier of the disease. But as she was studying it, manipulating it, she accidently created a more deadly version of it, Hep-V. That’s according to the notes we found, I guess they were her research diary or something… Anyway, she was pretty messed up by what she had done. She was looking to make a good thing and instead she created something evil. So she kept it quiet and only told her research advisor, while trying to find a cure for this new virus. The research advisor was a Doctor…”
“Overlark” I snarled.
“How do you… Oh, yeah! I keep forgetting you met him when he was the head honcho at Vamp Camp. Anyway, so she told Overlark. In her note she said she trusted him, he was her mentor and she never thought he would betray her, but…”
Your closest friends are often the first one to betray you.
“What she didn’t know was that Overlark was a member of the Fellowship of the Sun. He took her founding to Sarah Newlin who had shacked up with Burrell… And you know what happened next…”
Yes, I knew too well what had happened next. Burrell plan’s to imprison and annihilate the vampires had been sent into motion, all thanks to Bill Fucking Compton’s bombing of the Tru Blood’s factories. No… As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t completely blamed Compton for it all. Burrell, Newlin, Overlark… Even me… It was my turning Willa that had precipitate Burrell’s use of the virus… And Nora had been the first one to pay for my decision – not that I truly regretted turning Willa. No, my new Childe was a promising one.
“And that scientist? What happened to her?”
Stackhouse took a deep breath. That wasn’t a good sign.
“She joined Overlark at Vamp Camp, but continued to work on finding a cure for Hep-V. And she did. She was able to create it and successfully test one of the samples before… Well, I guess she was found out by Overlark and Newlin. Her diary ends there. After that, nothing from her.”
I frowned. “What do you mean, nothing from her?”
“All we could find about Cynthia Lambert – that’s the scientist name, by the way – after that was an autopsy report. Her death was ruled a suicide, gunshot wound to the head. But the report came from Overlark’s office, so we can’t know for sure if that’s how she really died. If you asked me, Overlark or Newlin or even Burrell had her killed, you know to keep her silent and as a way to keep the truth about the cure from the outside.”
“She must have left a trail? Her notes about the cure? Were you able to…”
He shook his head. “Looks like Overlark was careful to destroy everything ‘bout the cure. But we did find everything ‘bout the virus itself, you know its DNA and everything.”
He produced a thumb drive.
“It’s all there. Hope you know a bunch of very smart people who’ll be able to understand it all.”
“Do you think Doctor Ludwig could help us?” asked my Bonded.
“She could. But it could still take months, years even, before she can produce a cure…”
I frowned. We weren’t anywhere close to…
“Stackhouse, you said this scientist, Doctor Lambert, she created and tested one of the samples… So there was more than one sample? Was it destroyed or…”
A huge smile appeared on his face.
“Yep! There was another sample and that’s where it gets pretty interesting. After we found Doc Lambert’s diary, the boys, Wade and Rocky, they did a keyword search on all the other docs that was in the FBI database from Vamp Camp for ‘cure’. There was only one hit. An internal note from Sarah Newlin to Overlark… She took the damn cure, injected herself or drank it, I don’t know, but she took it and now, according to the note her ‘body is the only temple holding those spawn of Satan’s salvation’ and that she’d ‘rather die and meet the Christ than let them have it’. I never thought I’d say this, but damn am I glad I didn’t kill that bitch when y’all escape Vamp Camp!”
I couldn’t help but smile at the irony. For all her hatred of vampires, Sarah Newlin was now our savior! And just like him, I was damn glad Jason hadn’t offed her during the whole escape from Vamp Camp.
“So all we’ll have to do is find Sarah Newlin and use her blood to synthesize and duplicate the cure?”
“Yep! Though we’ll have to find her first…”
“Don’t worry about that, Stackhouse, I know exactly who will be able to help us with that little problem…”
Yes, Willa would probably be able to help us with that. The next 20 minutes were spent polishing our rescue plan. It wasn’t without risk and it killed me to put my beloved in that type of danger, but I knew her well enough. She would do anything to help her friends.
“So tomorrow, at sunset?” I asked, as the Sheriff and his Deputy prepared to leave the farmhouse.
“Yep and we’ll bring down Sam too, if it’s okay?”
I reluctantly agreed. Merlotte might be a stinky Shifter, but he was Mayor of Bon Temps and his woman was one of the abductees. I didn’t know what his attachment to the woman was apart from the fact that she was carrying his child. From what I had gathered from Sookie, this Nicole was quite the rebound for Merlotte. A pretty young thing, much younger than Merlotte’s mid-thirties (but who was I to criticize him for having a much younger girlfriend? I was 40 times my lover’s age!). He apparently hopped into her bed and got her pregnant not too long after the demise of his Shifter girlfriend during the whole Authority debacle. And they say dogs are loyal and faithful creatures… Sam Merlotte was the exception to the rule!
“But keep it quiet, we wouldn’t want this vigilante group you told me about to get word of our plan. They could blow everything in a matter of second.”
“Yeah, that Vince guy, he ain’t no big fan of Sam…”
“Still bitter for havin’ lost to him at the election…” added the Sheriff.
We said our goodbye and escorted them out of the house. I sighed once I was what – or most specifically who was waiting for us in the front yard.