The day of Nicte's execution had finally arrived, and to say that tensions were high was an understatement.
Despite everything being in place with their plan, Tally was still an anxious ball of energy—though she tried to get it under control.
When that failed, Sarah had threaded their fingers together as they walked to the hangar bay. She gave her hand a lingering squeeze before they branched off.
Alder's eyes flickered over to M and Gregorio—they had each positioned themselves on opposites of the bay. She could see Raelle, Abigail, and Tally each take their places on one side of the bay, spaced out for the seed boxes to be effective.
She released a breath, her biddies whispering reassurances through the link to help. Her eyes moved then to the pole that Nicte would be tied to. She had requested that Nicte have a sack placed over her head so that her new face could be hidden until the reveal, once the boxes were opened.
She nodded to Petra as she stepped up onto the stage, taking her position next to President Wade.
"Madam President," Alder greeted, dipping her head.
"General Alder, are we ready to make history?" Wade asked, a self-satisfied smirk on her face. "I do hope you got what information you could out of her."
"Of course, Madam President, we retrieved some helpful data. I have no doubt it will help us in our fight against the Spree," she replied easily.
Wade grinned, no doubt readying herself to take credit for much of what was to occur.
Before long, the entire bay was filled with all of the cadets, officers, and brass from Fort Salem.
"Would you like the honors, Madam President?" Alder asked graciously.
Wade's eyes brightened, and she stepped up to the microphone. She gave a grateful nod to Alder as she checked the sound—then nodded to the camera man.
"My fellow Americans, this is a great day. Under my direction, General Sarah Alder, has captured the leader of the Spree, Nicte Batan. We are gathered here today to witness this momentous occasion—one where we are awarded a decisive victory over the Spree. I know that many of you, have been angry and upset with the Army's lack of progress in subduing the Spree…"
Alder's jaw clenched.
"…but today that has changed. With the capture, and eminent execution of Batan, we will send a message to those that oppose this great nation that we are not to be trifled with; that we are mighty and united; that we are together in our desire for peace here at home, and abroad. Though many might think this is drastic, this execution…it is to send a clear message to the Spree that we will win this war, that we are the greatest force on this continent, and that we will always prevail."
Boots began to stomp at a rapid pace, cheering the speech on as President Wade finished. She turned and looked at Sarah then, nodding her head for her to speak and address her troops.
When Alder took to the microphone, the sound of stomping grew into a great crescendo before she held up a single hand. She clasped her hands behind her back, straightening her posture and glancing over the crowd—notably checking that each of the holders of the seed boxes were in position.
"I am honored to stand before you all—and at the side of our President to mark this momentous occasion. I know that there has been a diminishing of faith in our Armed Forces to protect our interests at home with the recent, bold attacks by the Spree. Today that changes. I am grateful to all of the witches that have made this moment possible—for their sacrifice in the service of this great nation is nothing short of heroic. I ask that we take a moment of silence for our fallen," she stated. Her eyes fluttered shut and she took in a deep breath before releasing it. When her eyes opened, she gave a single nod to the soldier holding tight to Nicte.
They brought her to the pole, chaining her to it.
"Let this be a message to those that oppose us," she began, eyes looking straight into the camera before her. "We will not be silenced. We will not back down nor waver in our pursuit of justice. With storm and fury we will defeat you."
Boots echoed throughout the hangar as Alder unclasped her scourge from her belt and stalked toward the pole.
It was the moment of truth, and she sent a silent prayer to the Goddess that this would work.
The moment she nodded for the covering to be taken from Nicte's head, the boxes were to be opened to play out the scene for everyone. All Nicte needed to do was hang her head and keep her eyes closed.
When she was sure the cameras were focused on her and Nicte, she gave the nod and twirled her scourge as if she was readying herself to strike. The hood was pulled free from Nicte, and Alder hoped the sound would be loud enough to effect those viewing at home as well. They'd never had to broadcast their Work like this, and she was taking a gamble.
She hummed lowly, blocking any sound from her ears. She glanced to the side, watching as Major Verger opened her box and gave her a nod that it was being done.
Sarah held her breath and waited. She stood at the ready—posing to strike.
What does it look like? she asked her biddies.
Their eyes are all glazed, Analese commented.
Sarah released a breath she was holding. It was working.
Let me know the moment the boxes close, she told them.
Her eyes rested on Nicte's "unconscious" form. She had chosen the face of someone from their shared past—an undoubtedly safe choice.
It is done, Corinne said quickly.
Alder twirled her scourge through the air and back to her as if she had just completed a strike.
Nicte's collar was still on, but unbound so that she could perform another glamour on herself—one that was beaten and bloody.
Alder turned on her heel, eyes landing on Petra and Wade as she subtly hummed under her breath to dispel her deafening seed.
Petra gave a tense nod, believing that it had been successful.
Alder walked the distance back toward President Wade, stopping just before the stage to look up at her.
She gave Sarah a bright, pleased smile—and Sarah felt a wave of relief crash through her and Tally in the link.
"Goddess be praised," Tally said.
"Indeed, my love, indeed."
She stepped back up onto the stage, resuming her place at the microphone. She waited until Wade gave the command to turn the cameras off, and when that was done—Sarah addressed the bay once more.
"My fellow witches, I know that Nicte Batan was the leader of the Spree…but she was still of the blood—and for that I ask you all to join me in a blessing for her journey." She looked upon the glamour of Nicte. "Mother of all things, watch over her tonight, hold her in your arms, until the morning light. Blessed be the mother goddess, by all her many names. May she bless our sister, here this witches' place."
Sarah stepped back from the microphone. "My word is done, as the rising moon and setting sun."
She turned and faced Wade, extending her hand to take the other woman's and shake it.
She could see from the corner of her eye that Izadora was taking the body down from the pole to take it back to her lab—where Nicte would be able to drop her glamour.
Their pleasantries were quick, and Sarah saw the President off as all the attendees left the hangar bay.
She was still tense as she led her biddies to the Necro facility. Her steps were quick and sure, and she ignored the complaints from her biddies about her speed. She needed to get out of public view so that she could finally breathe. If anyone found out about what they had done—it wouldn't just be Nicte's head on a pike.
The door closed behind them as she descended the stairs. When she saw Nicte—free of her glamour—and Izadora's pleased smile, she finally breathed.
"Did it work?"
"Perfectly," Izadora assured. She had volunteered to watch the broadcast to make sure that she was affected by the seed.
Sarah's shoulders finally sagged with relief as she slunk down into a chair.
"What, were you worried I wouldn't do my part?" Nicte questioned with a smug smile.
Sarah looked at her tiredly. "Not at all. It was your life on the line after all."
She could hear the door to the facility open above—and the sound of multiple pairs of feet approaching.
"Did it work?" Tally asked, eyes wide as she stopped next to Sarah. She rested her hand on her back.
"It went as planned," Sarah assured. She took Tally's hand in her own—sighing as she felt Tally's relief. Her presence wrapped around her like a warm blanket, and all she wanted to do was crawl into bed with her.
"As soon as we are done here," Tally told her.
"So now what?" Nicte asked, eyes flickering to Petra.
"Now, we get you a discreet collar and get you settled in. Welcome back to Fort Salem, Batan," Petra told her with a smirk. She approached, taking the collar from Izadora and placing it around Nicte's neck.
"Petra, will you make sure Batan is all set?" Alder asked as she stood from her seat and threaded her fingers with Tally's.
"Of course, General."
"We can take it from here," Major Verger assured, glancing down at their entwined hands and smirking.
Tally blushed and turned to her unit mates, giving them quick hugs before she, Sarah, and the biddies all headed topside.
They remained silent all the way back to their room—the biddies filing off to their room as well.
When the door clicked shut behind Sarah she let out a shaky breath—and Tally wrapped her arms around her.
"We did it," she whispered into Tally's hair. She placed a kiss to her head—breathing in the smell of her shampoo.
"We did," Tally replied, tilting her head up to beam at Sarah. "Sarah, you managed to work with the leader of the Spree, save a witch's life, and fool everyone with a fake execution."
"That is a very positive way to say I committed treason," she quipped.
"We all committed treason," Tally urged. "And it was the right thing to do. The Camarilla are our priority, you know that."
"You are right, my love," she breathed, leaning her forehead against Tally's. "As always you are my compass in the storm."
Tally smiled against her and kissed her lips—brushing them lightly against Sarah's. "Always."