Future Imperfect

Aro was uncharacteristically lenient when he allowed Bella to leave Volterra unharmed and unchanged whilst spouting about happy endings. Were you fooled?

This prologue is set just after the conflict with the newborn army. Jane and her accomplices return to Volterra with bad news for the Volturi - all the Cullens survived. Fearing Carlisle's coven is becoming too powerful and knowing Bella would be a useful shield once changed, Aro puts a plan into action to punish the Cullen's and reassert Volturi power. His goal: add Bella to his collection of talented vampires. After all, being a vampire was just what Bella wished for, right?

Canon characters/AU, includes some lemon action, vampire immorality/violence. Dark but HEA promised.

Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns the Twilight universe. No copyright infringement is intended.

I haven't seen a prospective talent so promising since we found Jane and Alec.

Can you imagine the possibilities when she is one of us?"

- Aro about Bella Swan in New Moon


Volterra **June 2006

Aro, Marcus, and Caius sat in waiting.

Perched upon their fine-crafted, jewel-encrusted thrones, they commanded the appearance of true royalty. Over their tailored silk garments, they donned velvet cloaks secured around their necks by solid gold clasps embossed with the Volturi coat of arms, the symbol of their brotherhood and their kingdom.

Caius wore the same disgruntled look he had perfected over the centuries as he tapped his Bagatto-clad foot in impatience. The former Etruscan general was never particularly fond of his role on the sidelines as the overseer instead of the warrior. On the battlefield he ruled as judge, jury and executioner.

In contrast, Aro idly studied the priceless ruby and gold ring on his right third right finger. The blood-red gem stolen from Oddone, Count of Savoy, gleamed radiantly in the flickering low light of the main chamber. Aro grinned as he swam through the memory of how he had met his royal singer and consumed his regal Italian blood; an act that Aro believed christened him into monarchy.

Marcus meanwhile appeared disconnected. His interest in events had long faded with the death of his mate and one true light, Didyme. However, at Aro's side, he tried to believe his life held at least some purpose...

The moaning and creaking of ancient wood doors heralded the envoy's return. Caius and Aro's milky eyes sharpened in anticipation.

Typically Aro preferred his guard to prostrate before him while offering their hands so he could feast on their thoughts and memories. After which he would command them to declare victory aloud to all who would bear witness to Volturi might and cunning. But today, the court was closed. This was a report on a covert mission. A threat had demanded containment, and if possible, complete annihilation.

Carlisle Cullen had been amassing a unique coven and its strength had captured Volturi attention, particularly Caius's. Aro knew Carlisle was an intelligent man, and had enjoyed the invigorating conversations the two had shared around science and the arts. However, Carlisle's disdain for their lifestyle was always obvious on his face, an unfortunate bone of contention. Still, Aro viewed Carlisle as a curiosity, a subject worthy of study and a source of amusement. But Aro eventually acquiesced to the fact that the guilt Carlisle felt for what he was would prevent him from ever embracing his true nature and becoming a permanent resident of Volterra. They had parted ways amicably, although Aro pitied the man who would deny the pleasures of his existence, and therefore, could never reach his full potential.

This memory caused Aro to stiffened in his seat. Obviously he had been mistaken. Maybe Carlisle was interested in power after all. His coven was now composed of several gifted members and several skilled fighters, held together by some pseudo-belief they were something more - a family. This bond was strong, but it was also their Achilles heel. Aro sneered - the Cullens' ridiculous values would be exploited and become their downfall.

So, on this glorious day, his envoy would affirm the demise of that coven. Aro recalled how the perfect vehicle for their destruction had dropped right in his lap several months ago in the form of a vengeful mate. Caius was instrumental in covertly channeling the seeds of the final plot to the puppet, Victoria. It was all quite simple actually since Aro had finally been able to corner the future-seer, enabling him to delve into her head. Once there, the keys to evading her gift unfolded before him.

But the plan was risky. An army of newborns wreaking havoc on the Seattle area threatened exposure of the secret. It also drew attention, and outright called for Volturi intervention by the clandestine vampire community. Timing was critical, and the dim-witted, red-headed witch was taking too long. So an envoy was sent to Washington to move the plan along.

However, successful or not, Victoria and her army's fates were sealed. No witnesses were to survive. It was the Volturi way, after all. Nothing could stand in the way of protecting the secret - or preserving power.

The envoy assembled before their masters. On one knee, they bowed their cloaked heads.

"Jane, Demetri, Felix, Alec! Children, so glad you have returned to us. Speak your truth," Aro joyfully exclaimed.

Jane stood and removed her hood. "Master." Her crimson eyes blinked too rapidly.

Aro rose fluidly. "Speak, daughter! Has the threat, those who deny themselves and disregard our rule, how have they fared?"

"The newborns and their creator have met their doom per law."

"And their target?" Aro inquired, his eyes narrowing and piercing Jane's

"What of the Cullens!" Caius snapped, growing impatient with Aro's delaying double-speak.

"Masters, they fared well. No losses."

Caught in utter disbelief, Aro could feel his lips begin to curl and his polished restraint slipping. The goblet he had recently taken from a silver serving tray crushed in his grip. The thickening red fluid that had been prepared as a celebratory victory toast now oozed down his hand and dripped to the cold marble floor, wasted.

The guard stiffened. The blood singed their throats, but they knew they had more to be concerned about at the moment than their unquenched thirst.

"You failed?" Aro hissed.

Unable to hold his tongue, Felix whipped off his hood and addressed Aro in a plea for leniency, "The red-headed bitch failed! She let her emotions rule her, a fatal mistake. But our plan was compromised none the less."

Felix's feeble excuses only enraged Aro further. "She failed? I send the elite Volturi guard to handle a handful of newborns and a clan of yellow-eyed, passive traitors and you stand before me passing blame? You disappoint me. Maybe you should be replaced?"

Jane wordlessly returned to her knees, drawing Aro's attention.

"Did you fail on all fronts?" he inquired coolly through gritted teeth, hoping to have at least dealt some blow to the coven that repeatedly mocked their power.

Unknown to his brothers or the others, Aro had sent Jane on a sub-mission: she was granted the authority to lure, by whatever means, any of the gifted Cullens back to Volterra. No use in wasting good talents...

"Yes, Master," Jane spoke only above a whisper, her eyes downcast.

Aro moved toward Jane with the speed and precision of a striking cobra, Renata stood no chance of catching up from her usual station, invisible behind Aro's chair.

Grabbing Jane by the neck, he pulled her to her feet. Alec raised his head to protest, but was deterred by Caius' pointed, wintry stare.

All were silent and waited as Aro took what he wanted from Jane's mind. His eyes glazed over as he witnessed and spoke her thoughts. "Edward and Isabella broke off from the rest drawing Victoria to them... Edward knows of our involvement through the mind of a young newborn... Isabella is - - still human."

Aro released Jane, leaving bloody fingerprints on her white marble neck.

Marcus's eyes widened with interest, but Caius could no longer hold back his displeasure. In barely contained rage, he lapsed into his native tongue, "They ridicule us. We grant clemency and give a second chance and this is what we get in return - disobedience!"

Caius's eyes narrowed as he pointed a finger and rose to move slowly toward Aro. "And you let them go. We could have finished all three of them easily - the mind-reader, the future-teller and the shield."

"I am sorry, brother, but I couldn't," Aro responded also speaking in the dead but flowing language of the Etruscan people. "What we achieved at the time was so much more fruitful than their deaths. A look into Edward and Alice's minds! Priceless. And after viewing Isabella's gift first-hand, knowing what Isabella could become... Letting her go instead of draining her was the only acceptable solution. The only way we could try again."

Aro paused for dramatic effect and then added, "Maybe Alice and Edward won't choose to join us, but Isabella ... she can be convinced."

Marcus rose to his feet. "Edward and Isabella's bond is strong, based on more than the desire for power or advantage. You know this to be true, Aro. How would you convince her?"

The brothers knew Marcus had a valid point, but neither acknowledged his comment.

"What are you planning, brother?" Caius inquired of Aro.

Raising his arms and donning a broad smile, revealing pleasure with himself, Aro addressed those in assembly in Italian so he would be understood by all, "Our victory has merely been delayed. The shield Isabella will be ours. Her power will strengthen us."

Caius scoffed before returning to his throne. "Are you blind or merely daft, brother? The future-seer will be trained on us now that he knows of our involvement. How can we get past their defenses?"

"Oh, you are correct in your assumption - they have been shaken and she will be watching. However, they will soon foolishly put their trust again in Alice's abilities. For you see, their bond is their weakness - and our advantage. They will again blindly trust in Alice's ability to protect them.

"And Edward, I know his tormented mind. His confusion over this human is extreme; he will continue to fret over the inconsequential fate of poor Isabella's soul. Meanwhile, Carlisle will passively allow all this idiotic emotional turmoil to fester. They are predictable. Flawed. Time is on our side."

"And you have a plan?" Caius remarked, his interest piqued.

"Yes, my clever brother, but you may object."

"If you can finish this display of mockery and defiance, if you can deal the fatal strike to Carlisle's coven, I could tolerate almost anything. But they cannot continue to grow in power and undermine our authority."

Aro's ageless perfect grin broadened. "We shall steal the human from them, and make her part of us. Edward will have no choice but to join us to be reunited with his mate. Then, safe within Isabella's shield, we will be free to plot what we wish for the rest - be it the Cullen Coven or anyone else who ever decides to use their talents against us."

Caius steepled his fingers in thought. "And how do you assume to get Isabella from them?"

Aro broke into laughter, it echoed callously off the unforgiving walls. "Alice herself has disclosed how to accomplish this task! Naive, unsuspecting girl. Her mind gave up all its secrets to me, and she thought she was actually protecting the human girl!" Again, Aro paused to appreciate his fortune and shrewdness before continuing. "I learned there is another - a being whose future she cannot see around."

"Who?" Marcus questioned.

"The wolves."

"Werewolves?" Caius responded with a shudder, torn between shock and disgust.

"No, brother, not children of the moon. Shape-shifters who take the form of large wolves. Involvement with them blocks the seer's sight."

"And how do you plan to acquire one of these false wolves?"

Aro cocked an eyebrow. "That, my friends, has already been arranged..."

Welcome to my newest fanfiction! It has been several months in the making and I am so excited to be finally posting. I plan to submit regualr updates starting in September 2011.

This is a Bella/Edward fic, however, there is no bloody pregnancy and no freaky baby with teeth! Bella and Edward move to Dartmouth as planned. This fic will include a little bit of everyone from the Twilight universe, including a new character named Dominic. He will be introduced in chapter 1 and is the key to Aro's plan...

I'd like to also introduce you to my FI Team (I have a team because you deserve a great story, and they are going to make it great!). My story/character consultant is Ashling92 – she knows Twi stuff! My prereader and advisor is RosaBella75, and polishing it all up at the end and making it pretty, is my beta, RowanMoon.

Stay tuned, more to come soon - oh, and comments/reviews and questions are always welcome!