Chapter 1: Malicious Machinations

Disclaimer: I do not own Trinity Blood or any of its characters or logos. I only own any original ideas in this story. I give all credit to the author, Sunao Yoshida.

The houses that lined the streets of Sicily were falling apart, giving the city a somber and desolate feeling, but one building stood out from the rest… A giant hotel rose above the tiny structures below, engulfing the smaller buildings in its shadow. It was obviously a much older building than the small shacks around it, constructed 900 years ago before the Armageddon. Although the palace-like dwelling was a magnificent sight to behold, the local people tended to avoid it due to circulating rumors.

Nobody stood in the way of the Mafia that ruled Sicily behind the scenes. It had been like this before the Armageddon, and had remained for many years. The only noticeable change had been the shift of power. Although it was rarely questioned by anyone, each mob was presided over by a powerful vampire and other affiliates, and even the Vatican's military forces rarely intervened in the affairs of these organizations.

Unbeknownst to the occupants of the surrounding houses, a dark figure had descended upon the streets and was actively moving towards the large establishment, his shadow rippling across the pavement in the eerie light cast by the street lamps. An elegant top hat adorned his head, casting a mysterious shadow over his face through which an angelic smile was barely visible. Although the rest of his features were not visible behind the collar of his traveling cloak, the man gave off a frightening aura that no ordinary man could accurately describe.

Reaching into his pocket, he drew out a pocket watch to confirm the time of his appointment. The golden instrument was intricately carved with the image of angels and studded with several diamonds, indicating great monetary value. He admired the curio for a moment or two before snapping it shut with a resounding click, and once it had been stowed away in his pocket, the figure continued his steady procession down the road.

After several minutes of traveling, he was greeted by a rather dour chap who appeared to be the doorman. The hotel employee tilted his hat like a gentleman before opening the entry, the strange guest tossing him a coin as he passed over the threshold and into the establishment. A large room greeted the traveler, the plush carpet and extravagant furniture indicating that the hotel was largely built for the convenience of high-society individuals.

The hotel lobby was rather empty tonight, save for a single worker and a pair of guards standing watch by the main elevator. Ignoring the eerie quiet that engulfed the room's occupants, he approached the front desk and rung the bell, eliciting a small scream from the receptionist who had been busy dealing with paperwork to see the new guest.

Scrambling on the floor to collect her papers, she attempted to regain her previous composure. "Would you like a room for tonight?" she asked in a false cheerful tone.

"That will not be necessary…" The man removed his hat, revealing a beautiful face reminiscent of what most people would imagine an angel to possess. Curtains of light brown hair framed his beautiful face, and a small golden chain trailed from the left pocket of his black suit.

The man's handsome features distracted her for a brief moment, but the receptionist made a quick recovery. "If you do not want a room, than how may I be of assistance?" she asked him quietly.

He gave her a bright smile, and although it did not to reach his eyes, the gesture seemed to put her at ease. "I have come here tonight to speak to your superior… A Mr. Hawthorne if I am not mistaken…"

The woman seemed to choke for a moment, her eyes widening slightly as she heard the name of the man she feared most. Her boss was none other than the Methuselah who controlled the more influential mafia in Sicily… While he appeared impressive and well mannered on the outside, Dragone Hawthorne was a short-tempered and frightening man known for raping his female employees in private at the slightest whim before draining them of every last drop of blood. The only reason she kept this job was because she owed a debt to the mob and would have been killed straightaway if she had refused.

"M-M-Mr. Hawthorne…" the receptionist stammered, her voice cracking slightly in fear. "You must know that he is a very busy man. Are you an associate of his?"

"I suppose you could say that." The man sunk into a small bow. "Dietrich Von Lohengrin is my name, and I have some business with your superior that should be carried out promptly… Would you be a dear and call for him so that I need not waste any time, for I am also a rather busy man."

She said nothing for a moment, but when he did not leave she gave into his demand. With shaking hands, the woman pressed the buzzer on her desk. The two guards standing across the room heard her call and came over to investigate the situation at once. They rounded on the visitor, but instead of backing down he merely smiled in response to their bullish behavior, making the significantly larger men uneasy at the same time.

"A Mr. Lohengrin to see Count Hawthorne…" the receptionist informed the security agents.

"The gentleman from the organization?" One of the suited men replied, observing their guest for a moment behind his dark glasses. When he nodded the two guards escorted him to the elevator, both standing to one of his sides as if they were afraid he would flee at any moment. "His excellency has been waiting in anticipation for your arrival… You will come with us now!"

"Thank you very much…" Dietrich tipped his hat with a gracious expression, looking as though he were about to visit a dear friend rather than the most dangerous vampire in the entire city. "I assume he was willing to comply with our agreement?"

One of his bullish escorts grunted in annoyance as the doors of the elevator slid open. "No more talk here… You may discuss this matter when you see our master in person. Until then I advise you keep your mouth shut if you want to live."

"How droll of you to threaten men in such a way, but I digress… Very well then." The visitor complied cheerfully. A second later, Dietrich stepped over the threshold and into the elevator, the shadow of his hat concealing a devilish expression that would have caused even a grown man to cringe.

This went unseen by his companions, one of which was punching in a special sequence on the number pad so that they could access the top floor of the building where their superior's office was. The woman behind the desk watched as the doors slid shut, blocking the three men from view with a resounding thud. After a moment she turned her head and busied herself with reorganizing old files, all the while thinking to herself that their new guest would never emerge from this building alive.

As these thoughts floated through her mind, the owner of the hotel was already preparing for his arrival. A handsome man sat behind his mahogany desk in his office on the top floor of his. Staring out the window, he let out a grunt of disgust at the moon's pale glow. He was Count Dragone, the feared vampire who led one of the most notorious mafias in the world.

Kicking his chair aside, the Methuselah shuffled across the room and shut the curtains with a quick wave of his hand. The office became dark and forbidding just as he preferred it to be, but his foul demeanor remained unchanged. The engulfing shadows did very little to compliment his handsome features, but the river of jet black hair flowing down his neck seemed to blend in with the darkness that surrounded him.

A sudden knock on the door startled the man for a moment, but his face relaxed after a moment. He seemed to be expecting visitors. After pressing a button on his desk, the doors opened, and standing framed in the door was another man. Despite the fact that his business was with a vampire, the newcomer walked with a calm demeanor, as if he hadn't a care in the world. His two escorts followed him every step of the way, but from his expression it appeared that Dietrich had forgotten their presence altogether.

"Leave us!" the vampire snapped his fingers in emphasis, signaling for his guards to wait outside. They bowed hastily and exited the office, closing the door behind them.

The two remaining occupants of the room remained silent for several minutes, engaged in a sort of staring contest even though neither of them was speaking to the other. Dietrich quickly grew tired of this game and begun to approach the desk, stopping a few feet away to give his host a small bow.

"Greetings, your excellency." He hissed, his voice calm with a note of mockery.

The face of the Hotel owner became alive with frustration and perhaps maybe a twinge of anger. "Puppet Master…" the man uttered, his whisper low and venomous. The full face of Dietrich Von Lohengrin glided through the shadows, his dark uniform gleaming in the subtle light as he approached the desk.

"I trust you have what we want?" Dietrich hissed. His voice sounded smooth and carefree, but a note of malice could be detected behind his smile. The Count realized this and his outrage came to a boil. The only thought in his head was how this Terran scum would dare speak so plainly to a powerful Methuselah such as himself.

Dietrich felt a sense of satisfaction at the vampire's reaction, and continued to eye him carefully as he decided to finish the evening's dealings. "Here… I have your blood money." Dietrich replied as he withdrew an envelope from his uniform.

Snatching up the money, the greedy Mafia head began to finger the cash, counting it three times before lifting his head to acknowledge his visitor. The man suppressed his fangs long enough to retrieve a small item from a draw in his desk. "Here is that which you desire." Growled the Methuselah holding out the strange metallic instrument in his hand. "Take it an leave…"

An evil smile engulfed his features as the young client took the item from the vampire. "The Order of Rosen Kreuz thanks you." Dietrich replied with a slight bow, as he turned to leave.

The Methuselah smiled as his client reached the door of the elevator. Standing, he went into haste mode, moving faster than the naked eye could accurately see. His claws extended and his fangs bared, he lunged at his victim, but found himself unable to move. The vampire stood in awe as his prey turned to face him.

Looking at himself, the vampire could see thin string-like fibers connected to his body.

"What is happening to me!" the enraged Methuselah bellowed as he struggled to free himself. Despite his best efforts, his body still refused to react. Looking up into Dietrich's eyes, he saw a vindictive happiness that seemed inhuman. The desire to rip this Terran's throat out intensified as he continued to stare at his opponent's carefree grin. He wanted to break that calm face and drink the every drop of sweat blood from his body.

As the count continued to struggle, he saw a faint glint through the subtle light. The strings that were buried in his skin were also attached to the ends of Dietrich's fingertips. It was as if this Terran was controlling his body like a marionette. A deadly realization hit him as it dawned upon him why this man was known as the Puppet Master.

A loud series of crashes echoed throughout the room as the men outside struggled to open the door. With a swift kick the board sprang off of its hinges, allowing the two guards to reenter the office. The suited thugs thundered into the room with murderous expressions, their eyes scanned the surrounding area just in time to see their master rendered helpless. The vampire was frozen in an awkward position and unable to move, instantly alerting them that something was seriously wrong.

Both thugs glared at Dietrich for a moment and readied their weapons. "What did you do to the boss?" the first shouted with outrage.

Their visitor found little amusement in their words and turned back to face the trapped Methuselah, only angering them further. Without a single word of warning both began to pull the trigger of their respective weapons, but a jungle of strings descended from above and attached to their bodies before either of them was aware.

The strange apparatus forced their arms to point towards each other, and in seconds they had shot each other and died. Blood spewed everywhere as their bodies crumbled under the force of the impact, but because they were attached to the strings neither body fell to the ground. Dietrich revealed a bored expression and made a cutting motion with the fingers of his right hand, causing them to fall motionlessly onto the floor. He watched the men struggle for a few moments, but they soon succumbed to their wounds and collapsed into pools of their own blood.

Count Hawthorne was a harsh and cold-blooded man who cared nothing for the death of his servants, but seeing this terrible evil left him stricken with fear… An emotion that was unheard of to most Methuselah. "H-H-How is that possible? What kind of sorcery is this?" he sputtered in shock, looking incredulous at the prospect.

After observing his prisoner's reaction, Dietrich seemed satisfied. "I can control your entire nervous system through the power of those string-like devices. From excruciating pain, to the minor annoyances of a pinch, I can manipulate your body to feel any kind of sensation and perform any task I wish. Even the victim's senses are under my complete control. So long as I will it, they must do whatever I command…"

"What the hell are you… Some kind of demon?" Dragone screamed out, his eyes bulging with the desire to kill.

"I am merely a human, yet a very gifted one at that… Many vampires are arrogant to believe that no one but one of their own is worthy of recognition, yet here you are trapped at my mercy. My power far surpasses yours… Your excellency!" the Puppet Master replied mockingly. "Allow me to show you what exactly I mean."

"I will rip you apart. Do not underestimate me, you filthy Terran!" the vampire roared and struggled with all of his might to attack his adversary.

A feeling of agony filled every nerve of the vampire's body as if someone had taken the worst pain he had ever felt in his life and spread the sensation throughout every fiber of his body. His screams echoed through the room as excruciating pain burned through his nerves, forcing him to writhe and thrash in misery. With a snap of his Dietrich's fingers, the pain stopped, leaving the vampire lying on the cold tile floor twitching uncontrollably.

He stared murderously at his attacker. "You are obviously no ordinary client. Who are you!" groaned the Methuselah, as he struggled to get to his feet.

Dietrich smiled evilly, eying his victim with slight interest. "It really won't matter where you're going, but considering that you are going to die, allow me to tell you anyway. I am Dietrich von Lohengrin, Rank: Magus, Title: Puppet Master. As you already know, I was dispatched by the Order of Rosen Kreuz to collect this piece of technology that your other clients salvaged."

Dragone shot him a furious look, which did not have the affect that he had hoped. Instead of scaring the other man, the Puppet Master reacted with a look of mock pity before grinning with indifference. "Oh please… if you had controlled your pathetic bloodlust, you may have lived." Dietrich replied.

With a second snap of his fingers, Dragone felt the excruciating pain returning. His eyes widened in fear as he felt his own hand rummaging through his coat. As he looked on, his own fist plunged into his chest, ripping out his own heart. Blood stained his coat as he stared in horror at the organ, still beating in his hand. With a blood-wrenching scream, the unimaginable pain coursed through the vampire's body. He let out a terrible choking noise as he saw his own fingers close around his heart, crushing the vital organ with a horrible squelching noise.

With a small chuckle, Dietrich released his strings, causing the vampire's hand to fall back onto the floor. His body lay motionless on the ground, his eyes glazed over and emotionless as death claimed him at last. The Puppet Master turned towards the exit with an angelic grin. "Igne Natura Renovateur Integra." He mused to himself. "Through fire shall the earth be renewed…"

In the Vatican

Lady Caterina of the Vatican stood by the window of her office, staring into the sky. It was times like this that unnerved her, and awakened some unpleasant memories of times she would rather forget. Thunder roared as rain splattered against the roof of the Vatican. As she continued to gaze out over the city of Rome, her clear blue eyes became unfocused, and the world around her seemed to vanish.

***Flashback ***

A young girl ran through the darkened crypt under the city of Rome. Beads of sweat formed on her forehead as she looked back at her vampire assailants. Looking upon the faces of her pursuers, young Caterina knew that she would not survive, but as she arose from hiding, the young girl found the blood-stained corpses of her captors, littering the tomb.

As she looked away from the bodies, the figure of a man could clearly be seen staring down at her through the night. Something about him was different from the others. He looked down on her with lighthearted smile, his hand held out to her. Wiping the tears from her eyes, young Caterina looked upon the face of her savior. "Who are you?" she asked. "Someone who has come to protect the lives of humans… I'm here to protect you." Answered the man as she reached out to take his hand.

***End Flashback ***

It was always times like this when she thought of Abel, and how a stranger had saved her from the servants of the Contra Mundi. Her thoughts returning to the present, Lady Caterina drew in a deep a breath. She had called Abel to her office an hour ago, and he was late.

Putting her fingers to her temples to soothe her weary mind, she rummaged though the pocket of her Cardinal's Robe and glanced at her pocket watch as it dangled for its golden chain. She silently laughed to herself as she realized how late Abel was. Of course, she expected no less of the clumsy priest. She would have to scold him for that later.

As she tucked her watch back into the folds of her robe, Caterina's pattern of thought changed to her dealings with the Eastern Empire. She knew that the idea of peace between the Vatican and the New Human Empire would benefit the world and foster peace between humans and vampires. However, the concern of her brother's input on the matter lingered in the back of her mind. His warlike protests and hatred of all vampires was sure to act as an obstacle, and as usual Cardinal Medici had a very large group of supporters convinced that was immanent between the Vatican and the Empire. Such a conflict would surely create a second Armageddon, which would likely destroy the world that they had worked so hard to rebuild.

Her thoughts were disrupted by a nudge on her shoulder.

"Are you alright, your eminence?" Came the voice of her old friend, Vaclav Havel.

"I'm all right… I was just thinking of the old days." The weariness present in her voice was something those closest to her knew too well. There were times when she wished her father Pope Gregario had never acknowledged her as his daughter. It was actually by chance that this happened, considering how many children he had fathered. Despite being one of the greatest and most resolute leaders that the Vatican had ever seen, the former Pope was known for being quite lecherous and had been married many times.

Father Havel looked upon the face of his old friend with an understanding smile, as if he could easily perceive what she was thinking about. His understanding smile calmed her nerves. "Do you wish to discuss your feelings?" he asked courteously.

"No… I'm all right. Just give me some time to collect my thoughts." She replied as her eyes gravitated towards the window, and she spent several minutes staring into the drops of rain pouring down from the heavens.

"If you need me, I'm here…" replied the priest as he turned to leave her office. Vaclav Havel knew that she would open up and speak to him when she was ready, but left her presence so that she could have some well-deserved time alone.

He closed the door behind him with these hopes in mind, but seconds later the bumbling form of Abel Nightroad shot past him and into the Cardinal's dwelling. The silence was shattered by the slamming of doors, and standing in the doorway was none other than the drenched form of Father Abel Nightroad. Despite his ragged appearance, he appeared optimistic nonetheless.

"Whew… That's a relief. It's been quite long time since I've seen a storm this bad, wouldn't you agree Miss Caterina?" Abel replied with an awkward smile.

His superior let out a small laugh before returning to her desk, turning her back toward the pouring rain visible outside her window. As she stared at his ragged form and wet robes, she raised an eyebrow, a slight look of amusement on her face. "So… Abel… you're late. May I inquire as to why you could not meet our previously scheduled time?"

"Well, it's not my fault if that's what your insinuating. I… well… I was… detained." Replied the clumsy priest as he fidgeted in his seat.

Pressing her fingers to her forehead, Caterina prepared for the excuses that were sure to follow. "Let's hear it." She sighed in exasperation.

"Well… you see. I ran into some problems down stairs." He stammered. "I was… heh heh… it's actually a funny story. You see… I lost my identification card, so I was forced to register at the office of the Inquisitorial Department before the guards would let me pass through the front gate."

"I should have known that you would find a way to make a mess of things. There is no excuse for your own lack of responsibility." The Cardinal added sternly.

From her expression, Abel could tell that she wasn't amused, but continued anyway. "After that, I got lost in that mazelike hallway between the Pope's meeting room and the area where the nuns do the laundry. I accidentally fell down the stairs… and they made me pick up and fold the all of the clothing after I knocked over a large stack of robes. Funny, huh?"

"Despite your fascinating views on the subject, I find no amusement in your story." Replied the weary Cardinal as she continued to listen.

"Then I took a shortcut through the courtyard and as you can see… my clothes were soaked. So… here I am now." He finished rather lamely.

"Come now Abel. How many times have I warned you about this?" she scolded.

Abel straightened his glasses and thought for a moment. After a moment, a look of embarrassment crept onto his face. "Well… I…" he began rather lamely

"Precisely." Interrupted Caterina as she took a pen in her right hand and began to shuffle through the numerous papers in her desk. "You're an adult Abel, I keep telling you that but I'm starting to wonder if you are really trying to the fullest extent possible. Surely you must agree that your constant tardiness is becoming a problem."

"Of course I do. But I offer my apologies for what they're worth." he replied, staring down at his folded hands.

Caterina gave him a small smile, as she had rather come to expect this from her long-time friend, but her expression hardened less than a second later. "That is good to hear. I trust that you place nothing less than your full efforts to keep things in order in the future."

"I will… your eminence." The priest nodded in agreement, bowing his head in reverence. "You have my word as a deputy enforcer."

Lady Caterina nodded and turned toward the clock on her desk. Pushing her monocle back into place, she continued her search until she found the paperwork that she needed. Signing the paper with her signature, she handed it to the clumsy priest who immediately began to read it. As his eyes scanned the paper, they began to widen in shock and soon enough the silence was broken once again.

"Whaaaaat! You're sending me on another mission for the AX?" shouted Abel nearly falling out of his chair. "I just returned home yesterday, and if the truth be told I haven't had a decent meal or a full night's sleep in several weeks."

Caterina eyed him through her monocle for a moment before answering him. "Yes… I need you in the field right now for an important assignment." she replied coldly.

His lack of sleep since his last mission contributed to his defiance, and his bloodshot eyes betrayed his weariness. Despite this, Abel's protests did little to remedy the situation. As the argument came to a close, he slumped back into his chair in defeat. "As you wish."

Letting out another sigh, she began to stare into his eyes. "I'll brief you on your mission. If you are ready, I will begin."

Abel nodded and settled himself into a comfortable position. He knew from his past experience in the AX that this mission would not be a pleasant one. He knew her very well, and the look in Caterina's eyes was enough for him to see that this mission was crucial. "Now Abel… You remember your mission in the Empire with Sister Esther?"

"Well of course I do… I almost didn't make it through that experience alive. I'm still very exhausted after that disaster, and if it weren't for Esther and the Earl of Memphis, I do not believe negotiations with the Empire would have been possible."

Cardinal Caterina relaxed her shoulders slightly. "You deserve some credit as well, Abel. It was my impression that the both of them may have died if you had not been there to aid them on their journey."

"Thank you your eminence, I am grateful for your praise." The priest replied in a quiet tone, as he returned her smile."

With this, the Cardinal began to speak again as she sorted through her papers. "Now I will fill you in on the details of your next mission." Abel nodded in acknowledgement as she continued to speak. "I need you to inspect some mysterious killings in Sicily. Many people, both vampires and humans alike have been found dead without cause."

"Well, things like that happen everyday in our world. I do not mean to tarnish the value of human life by saying thee things, but what makes these simple murders fall under the Vatican's jurisdiction? Surely the Ministry of Holy Affairs can leave such small incidents to the local authorities?" Abel questioned.

She handed him a paper and shook her head. "What makes these murders so suspicious are what the victims have in common. Each person who has been killed in Sicily is a mafia head or someone else of wealthy status, and evidence found suggests that this was not merely a war between the mafia heads."

The priest's eyes scanned the death reports listed on the paper in his hands. Setting down the paper on her desk, he let out a long breath. "It appears someone is trying to pick off the wealthy and powerful. But what exactly is the reasoning behind this odd string of assassinations?"

Caterina shifted uncomfortably in her seat, and handed him another paper from the pile of forms blanketing the surface of her desk. "We have our suspicions, but according to that second report that I just handed to you, each person killed is known to have dealt with Lost Technologies at one point or another."

"I see…" Abel replied as he begun to read it for himself. He straightened his glasses before starting, but the more he learned from the report, the more serious his expression became.

"These vast majority of these individuals are also known to have made a number of deals with criminal organizations. Our intelligence and information also gives us reason to suspect that each and every person killed so far has had some encounter with servants of the Contra Mundi. It also appears that each of them were someway involved in the smuggling of Lost Technologies." Caterina elaborated for him. "I'm sure you know exactly what this means?"

The priest's eyes widened as he finished reading the paper. "Hmmm… so the Order of Rosen Kreuz is behind these horrific murders?"

"That is our suspicion… The most recent murder was that of a prominent vampire named Dragone Hawthorne, and a man fitting Dietrich von Lohengrin's description was supposedly seen in the area that night." replied the Cardinal as she got to her feet. "Sister Esther who knew him in person read the testimony, and confirmed this for me."

"So would I be correct to assume that you need me to look for this man." Abel questioned with a slight look of dread.

"Nothing as direct as that…" Caterina explained. "Your mission is to head towards Sicily and investigate these murders, going off of any leads necessary. I personally believe that the Orden is attempting to eliminate anyone who knows too much about their weapons. You leave tomorrow to begin the investigation."

"Very well." Abel replied as he too stood up. "With all do respect, will I be assigned a partner on this mission… or am I alone on this investigation?"

Lady Caterina gave a small nod. "Sister Monica Argento and Father Leon will accompany you during this mission. That also reminds me…" Abel sat in silence as Caterina searched through her desk and withdrew an envelope. "Here are the funds that we will provide you for this mission."

His eyes widened in shock as he read the amount written on the check. "Oh… th-thank you, your Eminence. I promise to spend it wisely!"

"Don't get too excited, Abel. Those funds have to cover all three of you for about a week." Caterina simply smiled, as she knew what his reaction would be. The clumsy priest froze in his tracks "WHAAAT! This amount can't possibly last three people an entire week!" shouted the frustrated priest as he turned back to Caterina. "You can't be serious…"

As he continued to stare at his employer, her gaze became cold as ice, and he knew that arguing would gain him nothing. "You'll just have to stop that irrational spending of yours. You leave tomorrow, so calm down and go get some sleep." "Very well." Sighed the weary priest as he walked through the office doors and back down the dimly lit halls. Caterina smiled slightly as she watched him leave. "Same old Abel" she thought fondly.

Note to Readers: I deleted this story awhile back, but decided to revive it in case anyone cares. Considering the new releases of many Trinity Blood Manga Volumes, and Trinity Blood Novels in English I have more material to use. Since this fanfiction story is largely based on the anime, I have a lot of characters I can use from the novels and/or manga. I think my writing skills have also improved since my first attempt at this story, so lets see what the readers think.

Too bad Trinity Blood probably doesn't have many fans left, but it was and still is a great story nonetheless, and one of my all-time old favorites. If you would be kind enough to review, I would greatly appreciate the input.