Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns everything in the Twilight universe.

AN: It continues, finally. The prologue is third person, but the "real" chapters will continue in the same manner as The Cold War. If you are a new reader, it is actually imperative that you read that story first. I'll encourage you by saying TCW is currently up for two awards, took second in the first incarnation of the Sparkle Awards (Best Post-Breaking Dawn) and made it to the final round of the Indie Twific Awards for Best Canon Story and Best Original Character. It was recced recently on twifans dot com!! (See my profile for details.)

Thank you edward-bella-harry-ginny for beta-ing and encouraging!!!!

Acts of Aggression. Now in an open war by proxy with Volturi, the Cullens fight for survival. Although hampered by the hybrids, Alice still suffers from disturbing but vague visions of the future as Carlisle and Edward seek to preserve the alliance. Sequel to The Cold War.

Prologue. Ill Will.

By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
MacBeth, Act IV, Scene 1. Shakespeare

Demetri knelt, as was his preference, on the stone floor of Master Aro's private sitting room. He stood high enough in La Guardia to be witnessed in private. In truth, he relished the opportunity to be alone with his Master. Well, as alone as he ever was anymore. The hybrid female knelt at his elbow. If he would kneel before their Master, she would certainly do so as well. It was right.

"Demetri. Is there anything you wish to share with me about your visit to America which I did not learn from Sarah?" Master Aro gave him the fatherly smile that Demetri had begun craving centuries ago. The Master's hybrid female and Renata stood in attendance. They never left his side, a situation as problematic as his own. The hybrids required sleep and had to feed much more often than i vampiri vero.

Demetri's face darkened for a moment. Sarah's behavior disgusted him. He performed his duty, which was to carry out the will of the Masters. She seemed to revel in using her assignments to wreak pleasure and pain on others solely for her own enjoyment. She had been chastised by Master Aro, but Demetri would rather not have had to work with her again. It rankled that she had been in charge of the visit to America, despite her lower standing. It had been a practical decision based upon her influence over the hybrids, but he still chafed at her ridiculous demands.

"No, Master. Her report of the events was thorough."

"You have no opinions to share with me?"

"My opinions are irrelevant, Master. You know I seek only to serve." It was the truth, the core of his being for many centuries. The world required order; he was all too aware of the chaos which resulted from the uncontrolled.

"Share with me, Demetri." The Master raised his hand, and Demetri touched him, ecstatic to be able to serve yet again.

Aro witnessed through Demetri that events were truly as Sarah had seen. He wondered that Demetri himself still had not understood the implications of his own actions, his own behavior. Aro wondered how much longer he would hold the complete loyalty of his most faithful hound.

Sarah's ability to discern, in her limited way, the greatest fears and desires of an individual was far more useful than her sadistic power over the newborns. Not for the first time, Aro considered separating Demetri from Joham's third daughter. He suspected that a change in the status quo would force introspection on Demetri's part, an introspection which would be quite dangerous. He would leave them together, for the time being. After all, if any of the various plans he had set in motion were successful, there would be nowhere for Demetri to go.

"You still have not sent the new phone to the Cullens?" demanded Benjamin. "Have you broken with the alliance but not yet shared that fact with the rest of us?"

"Do not overstep your bounds with me again. I have no patience for your adolescent bickering," said Amun to his young protégé. "My decisions for this coven are made with our future in mind."

"That's an admission of your choices, right there. I will leave you if you choose this path." This confrontation was a long time coming – Benjamin had waited as long as he could stand. Tia and Kebi were out, and he could confront Amun without involving them.

"The Cullens are heretics. Their unnatural lifestyle has warped their view of the Volturi." Amun was, as usual, inflexible.

"You demanded they come here in March, and the Volturi attacked them, openly. Did you have a part in that?" Benjamin had his suspicions, but nothing concrete. He had kept his mouth shut, constantly placated by Kebi. Her requests were important to him since, more than likely, she was the one to suffer the brunt of Amun's rage when Benjamin defied his sire.

Amun was silent for a moment. "I was not responsible. The Cullens were not careful."

"How can you know that? We have had no contact with the Cullens since the plane coming to us was destroyed."

"I have spoken with other members of the alliance."

"When? Which ones?" Benjamin was now in a full-out rage. He had been barely sixteen when changed, and he could revert to both the surly silence and the irrational rage of a teenager.

"This discussion is over. I will not speak with you again until your behavior is under your control."

Benjamin ground his teeth in silence. He had no proof. Until he was sure, he didn't feel right about separating Tia from the coven. He wished he could contact the Cullens on his own, but Amun had been very secretive about how they could be reached. Finally, he slipped out into the Cairo night. He would need to hunt to return to any semblance of a calm demeanor.

Thirty-eight! No one could possibly guess thirty-eight. Of course, her driver's license said thirty-one. She looked far better than she had ever looked at twenty-eight. Maybe even twenty-six. Having the money to pay for botox, collagen, and microdermabrasion was like dying and going to heaven. Everlasting beauty: that was what it was all about. Oh, one couldn't forget one's colorist. She would never have gray hair, not even when she was in her sixties. Pilates was ensuring that she wouldn't need a surgical procedure for at least five years.

She turned a page of her magazine, and stopped mid-turn to admire the unbelievable manicure she had just gotten. This was definitely the right color, a perfect complement to the diamonds in her new ring. She twisted her hand slowly to the right and the left, mesmerized by how the light played off the diamonds and also the shiny surfaces of her manicure.

Yes, all of this was worth every minute she'd had to spend traveling to ridiculous places with that unbelievable bore Chandler. Who was named Chandler these days? And what kind of hobby was collecting…what had he called it? Incunabula? And art. Whatever. Old crap that David wouldn't let her sell or throw away. And, of course, all those days visiting Chandler in the hospital. At least that part had worked out properly. She flipped another page of the magazine. And she'd been able to get rid of Josh. David was still mad about that little improvisation of hers. Of course, if she couldn't get rid of Josh with restraining orders, there had been another plan to make sure all the money stayed hers. Mostly hers. She frowned a little. She kept hoping to find a way to make it all hers. Anyway, Josh might be young and inexperienced, but he was much better looking than Chandler. David had warned her she might still have to work on that plan. Josh was sadly well-connected in Atlanta – he might find a loophole in the will yet. Maybe she would invite Mr. Kimani Ellis to lunch. His wife was old – at least fifty. Surely Mr. Ellis would be amenable to suggestions she might offer. This might work even better than her plans for Joshua.

AN2: Welcome back, Cold War readers! Chapter 1 is getting very close to being done. I hope this will tide you over a little and give some hints about things to come! If the style of the prologue remind you of The Wheel of Time, it was intentional (don't worry – no plans here for 11 (or is it 111) volumes). If it didn't remind you, don't worry about it. Please check my profile for the "Current Contests!" TCW is up for two.