A/N: Hello everyone! It's been awhile, I know. This fic is a/u, but also what I like to refer to as semi-canon, using elements from both book and movie as well. I don't know what I would do without the help of my very talented beta Emerald Star73 (author of canon story "High Noon: After Breaking Dawn A Twilight fanfic." It is awesome and well-thought out. Check it out!) and am ecstatic to have her help with this crazy little ride I have planned. I anticipate updating about every two weeks. Thanks for reading and I'm always grateful for reviews.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc., are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Terrified for her life, newborn Bella is burdened with the unlikely task of capturing the Cullens' clairvoyant in order to prove her worth to her leaders, unsure of their true relationship to the Volturi. Will she succeed or will the allure of a certain mind reader be impossible to resist?
Missing from Phoenix, Arizona
Date Missing: January 15, 2005
Date of birth: 9/13/1987
Last seen at home. She was wearing blue jeans, sneakers, and a grey pullover sweatshirt with the ASU logo when she left to put gas in the car but never returned. Car was found at Shell Gas Station on Washington St.
If you have any information, please contact Phoenix Police at 555-623-0500.
A long, slender finger separated the paper from the pole. She'd been collecting (and disposing of) these irritating flyers since their coven had ventured north two months ago. As she crumpled the paper into her palm, Victoria wondered if Isabella was even worth the trouble. Laurent assured her that she was, and so far he hadn't been wrong about the two other newborns. And they couldn't very well overthrow the Volturi with just the five of them. No, they were going to need more talent, more power. Right now, James had his sights set on Alice Cullen, and with Isabella's calm temperament, Victoria was hopeful that her plan would work.
Was timid Isabella worth keeping? The girl had not shown a speck of talent, and Victoria wasn't so sure. One thing was certain - sending Miss Swan on this mission to capture the petite clairvoyant was going to be an excellent way to find out.
Though her lungs no longer required it, Bella breathed a sated sigh after separating her lips from the neck of the body who replenished her. Now that the scorch in her throat had been doused, she set down the corpse onto the splintered wood floor. She'd long since made a habit of not paying attention to the eye color, gender, or other identifying features of her victims. It wasn't as though she'd hunted them down for herself, after all.
The blood was merely a means to an end, and now that she wasn't crazed with thirst, her mind was clearer. It had been almost two weeks since the female leader had provided her with a meal, and Bella no longer considered sneaking out on her own, though she preferred the openness of the woods to the shelter of this dilapidated shack. She couldn't argue that it kept her dry from the ever present precipitation of the forest, not that she was prone to illness, but its musty smell and rotted walls gave it more of a prison feel than a refuge. Victoria convinced her that it was for her own good to remain here until she was fed, and that in return for her cooperation, she would be taken care of and provided for. That's what the Volturi did, the redhead explained. They took care of their own. Feeding privately had become a necessity for safety. And since Bella's status as a newborn deemed her unpredictable and daring, she was never left alone for very long.
The door swung open, barely attached by the bottom hinge, and even before he entered, she already knew who it was.
A tall, dark young man with a perpetual frown watched her as she rose. At full height, the top of her head barely reached his chest. As usual, Jacob said nothing, but gestured outside with a single olive-skinned arm.
She knew the drill. Together they would locate a place to bury the body in the forest, settling it into an uneven surface along a shrub or underneath a large boulder as though it belonged there all along. Bella lifted the drained body from the dirty wood floor and threw it over her shoulder with ease. There had been a time months ago when she'd been amazed at her strength, speed, and sharpened senses. Now, as one day forever blended into the next, her abilities felt less than extraordinary.
Jacob and his imposing figure held the door open for her as she walked past, almost in a gentleman-like manner, and Bella pursed her lips at the irony. She knew that Jacob could be quite cruel when he wanted, having little patience with her. His eyebrows appeared forever knitted, and she wondered if when those full lips ever produced a smile if a handsome young man lurked in there somewhere. His skin color and the slight almond shape to his eyes gave away his Native American ethnicity.
He stood with one bare foot planted on a rock, arms folded as she finished leveling the dirt. "She wants to see you," he said, his tone flat.
Bella already knew who "she" was and thought it odd that Victoria wanted to see her so soon since she'd fed. Maybe there were to be more training sessions with the dark-skinned one- Laurent, who'd been the kindest of the three. Or perhaps Victoria would once again question Bella in an attempt to identify the nature of her talent.
Victoria hadn't said so, but Bella already knew the redhead hadn't regarded her very highly. An overheard discussion between James and Victoria revealed that Bella's usefulness had been in question. To her surprise, the blond vampire came to her defense, insisting that Bella just needed time and would prove herself a valuable member to their coven. Frankly, his beady glare had always given Bella the creeps, but striking out on her own did not sound appealing either. Where would she go? She remembered next to nothing of her former life. And if live humans were half as appealing as the deceased ones brought to her, Bella doubted she'd be able to resist feeding from the innocent. Which was expressly forbidden.
Jacob's talent had impressed the trio enough to let him live this long, not that Bella ever witnessed it for herself. He was strong, as they all were, but as loyal as a dog, following their commands without question. At eight months, Jacob had proven himself competent enough to be in charge of the newborns, namely Bella. There had been others, but Jacob was as tight-lipped about them as he was everything else. She still wasn't clear about what happened to Joshua, who'd "disappeared" before Bella had been turned, but the information they gleaned from Joshua's radar-like ability to locate others of their kind was what led them far into the woods of the Hoh rainforest. Just what or who they were looking for was a mystery to her.
Victoria looked as she always did, large eyes, burgundy like her leaders, a small nose, and red full lips. With the grace and agility of a panther, Victoria circled Bella, always inspecting, always curious. Her mane was flame-red with tight curls, and Bella believed that both her beauty and confidence made her all the more intimidating.
"Isabella," she greeted. The redhead passed the pad of an index finger across her own chin and met Bella's gaze pointedly.
Embarrassed, Bella rubbed at the skin below her own lower lip and spied the smudge of blood on her finger. Victoria smiled in acknowledgement. Bella hated feeling so inferior, but along with clumsiness and weakness, she was happy to add blushing to the list of human traits she didn't miss.
"Bella," she said, straightening her shoulders. Bella hadn't liked being called Isabella, but this was the first time she'd been determined to correct them.
"Bella," Victoria repeated, "We've decided it's time for your first mission. It's a very important one."
Jacob's voice erupted in a low growl from behind. "I don't see why you couldn't assign it to me."
The redhead turned her head in the other direction, and Bella winced at the slight narrowing of Victoria's eyes. "Patience, Jacob," she said.
As expected, Jacob took a small step back and bowed his head.
A smile appeared on her lips, and at once she was at Bella's side. "This is a delicate situation. Jacob will accompany you, of course, but this is your chance to prove yourself worthy.
"There is a coven seventy miles southwest of here...outside the city limits of Forks. The seven of them reside under one roof, and their way of life is a threat to ours. At the rate they're going they will have killed off the population of both Forks and Port Angeles, and Master Aro will not only have their heads, but ours as well. Three have strong abilities, but for now I'm only interested in one - Alice Cullen. She is clairvoyant, and once we have rehabilitated her, we will retrieve the mindreader next."
"Don't they know the rules?" Bella asked incredulously.
Victoria laughed, a high-pitched tinkly chuckle. "Of course. All vampires are aware of the consequences, but these Cullens are the largest coven, so they don't care about their threat to human life and think they are above the law."
"I don't understand. How do I bring her here? Am I supposed to kidnap her?"
"I don't care how you do it, Bella. You're a bright girl. Bring Alice Cullen to us, alive and in one piece. Help us to preserve what we hold so precious."
"But how? If she can see the future, she'll know we're coming." Bella's voice began to rise.
"Don't think about it. She's the Cullens' biggest strength. And if she knows of your intentions in advance, you will be in danger. If anyone gets in your way, you only have two choices: Kill or be killed. They won't even hesitate. And above all, don't let them get inside your head."
"Especially not the mindreader. His name is Edward, and he's as evil as they come. Don't let them talk to you. They'll try to brainwash you like every single one of their coven."
Bella bowed her head, lowering her eyes to the ground. "I don't think I'm ready for something like this. Wouldn't you or James or Laurent be better suited?"
Victoria wagged her finger. "You have one advantage that we don't. As newborns, you and Jacob have incredible strength. Between the both of you, the worst case scenario is that there will be a few less Cullens to deal with."
"But you know more about..."
"Trust me, Bella. This is one time where knowing less is better."
Desperate, Bella tried to argue, "But..."
Victoria looped her arm through Bella's, pointing her in the direction that they came. "Kill or be killed," she told her, as though they were words of comfort and then handed Bella a worn large manila envelope.
When neither Bella nor Jacob made any move to leave, Victoria waved them away, speaking in a stern voice, "That is all."
Grasping the envelope in her hand, she couldn't bring herself to open it. Bella's feet remained planted to the ground. Right now, she almost preferred that Victoria destroy her rather than go along with this mission.
Jacob appeared in front of her, then nodded toward the south. "Your first mission, Bella. Time to prove yourself."
Bella chewed her lip as she started forward, keeping a pace deliberately slower than Jacob's. Time to prove myself, she thought. And she hoped to come out of it alive.