My head snapped up at that. "We don't have to sentence the Quileutes to death, either, Emmett!"
"Chill, Bella." His expression was no different from when he was contemplating fighting anacondas. Even the threat of annihilation couldn't change Emmett's perspective, his ability to thrill to a challenge. "I didn't mean the pack. Be realistic, though - do you think Jacob or Sam is going to ignore an invasion? Even if it wasn't about Nessie? Not to mention that, thanks to Irina, Aro knows about our alliance with the pack now, too. But I was thinking of our other friends."
Carlisle echoed me in a whisper. "Other friends we don't have to sentence to death."
"Hey, we'll let them decide," Emmett said in a placating tone. "I'm not saying they have to fight with us." I could see the plan refining itself in his head as he spoke. "If they'd just stand beside us, just long enough to make the Volturi hesitate. Bella's right, after all. If we could force them to stop and listen. Though that might take away any reason for a fight___"
There was a hint of a smile on Emmett's face now. I was surprised no one had hit him yet. I wanted to.
"Yes," Esme said eagerly. "That makes sense, Emmett. All we need is for the Volturi to pause for one moment. Just long enough to listen*
"We'd need quite a show of witnesses," Rosalie said harshly, her voice brittle as glass.
Esme nodded in agreement, as if she hadn't heard the sarcasm in Rosalie's tone. "We can ask that much of our friends. Just to witness."
"We'd do it for them," Emmett said.
"We'll have to ask them just right," Alice murmured. I looked to see her eyes were a dark void again. "They'll have to be shown very carefully."
Alice and Edward both looked down at Renesmee. Then Alice's eyes glazed over.
"Tanya's family," she said. "Siobhan's coven. Amun's. Some of the nomads - Garrett and Mary for certain. Maybe Alistair."
"What about Peter and Charlotte?" Jasper asked half fearfully, as if he hoped the answer was no, and his old brother could be spared from the coming carnage.
"The Amazons?" Carlisle asked. "Kachiri, Zafrina, and Senna?"
Alice seemed too deep into her vision to answer at first; finally she shuddered, and her eyes flickered back to
the present. She met Carlisle's gaze for the tiniest part of a second, and then looked down.
"I can't see."
"What was that?" Edward asked, his whisper a demand. "That part in the jungle. Are we going to look for them?"
"I can't see," Alice repeated, not meeting his eyes. A flash of confusion crossed Edward's face. "We'll have to split up and hurry - before the snow sticks to the ground. We have to round up whomever we can and get them here to show them." She zoned again. "Ask Eleazar. There is more to this than just an immortal child."
The silence was ominous for another long moment while Alice was in her trance. She blinked slowly when it was over, her eyes peculiarly opaque despite the fact that she was clearly in the present.
"There is so much. We have to hurry," she whispered.
"Alice?" Edward asked. "That was too fast - I didn't understand. What was - ?"
"I can't see!" she exploded back at him. "Jacob's almost here!"
Rosalie took a step toward the front door. "I'll deal with - "
"No, let him come," Alice said quickly, her voice straining higher with each word. She grabbed Jasper's hand and began pulling him toward the back door. "I'll see better away from Nessie, too. I need to go. I need to really concentrate. I need to see everything I can. I have to go. Come on, Jasper, there's no time to waste!"
We all could hear Jacob on the stairs. Alice yanked, impatient, on Jasper's hand. He followed quickly, confusion in his eyes just like Edward's. They darted out the door into the silver night.
"Hurry!" she called back to us. "You have to find them all!"
"Find what?" Jacob asked, shutting the front door behind himself. "Where'd Alice go?"
No one answered; we all just stared.
Jacob shook the wet from his hair and pulled his arms through the sleeves of his t-shirt, his eyes on Renesmee. "Hey, Bells! I thought you guys would've gone home by now___"
He looked up to me finally, blinked, and then stared. I watched his expression as the room's atmosphere finally touched him. He glanced down, eyes wide, at the wet spot on the floor, the scattered roses, the fragments of crystal. His fingers quivered.
"What?" he asked flatly. "What happened?"
I couldn't think where to begin. No one else found the words, either.
Jacob crossed the room in three long strides and dropped to his knees beside Renesmee and me. I could feel the heat shaking off his body as tremors rolled down his arms to his shaking hands.
"Is she okay?" he demanded, touching her forehead, tilting his head as he listened to her heart. "Don't mess with me, Bella, please!"
"Nothing's wrong with Renesmee," I choked out, the words breaking in strange places.
"All of us, Jacob," I whispered. And it was there in my voice, too - the sound of the inside of a grave. "It's over. We've all been sentenced to die."
We sat there all night long, statues of horror and grief, and Alice never came back.
We were all at our limits - frenzied into absolute stillness. Carlisle had barely been able to move his lips to explain it all to Jacob. The retelling seemed to make it worse; even Emmett stood silent and still from then on.
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