Episode 11--From the Empire
Masked and costumed throngs, fireworks: Carnival time in Venezia. On a back street, two thugs curse and attack a blonde woman who makes easy work of them. Their confederates scatter, and she then wakes the semi-conscious Abel, who tells her that street violence really isnít as acceptable here as in her home country. They attacked first, she shrugs (and is not dissuaded when Abel quotes the Scripture about turning the other cheek). Abel tells her that his support--presumably he means the Vatican's--gives her the strength of a hundred men; we could arrest this culprit right away and you could return to the Empire with pride. I don't need help from a Terran, she snaps, I can capture him myself. (Interesting: either Methuselah have no way of recognizing each other, or Krusnik Abel is so different from an ordinary Methuselah that he "reads" differently to another.)
==They reach their destination. This is the site of the 4th incident, Abel says: the victims were the federal judge Marco Corleone and his entire family, and all had bloodsucking marks. She suspects "the worst mass murderer in the Empire", Count Endrei of Zagreb. He killed 300 Terrans in his native country before being exiled. There are so many cities with humans in them; what is such a person doing in Venezia, Ast-san? --he asks her. She retorts that she never gave him permission to call her by such a silly nickname: she's Astharoshe Asran, Viscount of Odessa, an Imperial noblewoman, and should not be addressed so familiarly by a Terran. But it's so formal to say "Viscount of Odessa" every time; as long as this mission lasts, after all, we're comrades--protests Abel. Comrades? Tovarash? She grabs him by the lapels and lifts him off the ground, snarling that he ought never to use that word again: it belongs to someone you can trust with your life, not the likes of him. (---OK, we have firmly established that the Lady of Odessa cannot tell Abel isn't human.) He apologizes; she drops him and stalks off, muttering that he should just stay quiet.
They come to a casino. Vatican intelligence reports say that a dealer here was dating the victim's daughter. Astha strides straight in and picks the guy up by the throat, heedless of Abel's attempts to call her off, a manager-type and a huge bouncer hurry up and Astha's quarry beats a fast exit. She pursues him, leaving poor Abel to placate the bouncer. The dealer rushes upstairs and into a darkened office. Owner, he cries, a strange customer is downstairs, ordering us to bring out that girl. The owner gazes out the window: he sees the dealer's reflection in the glass, and it's not alone. Is this customer a girl with blonde hair and a red streak? --he asks...Astha throws the dealer aside and walks straight up to the boss's desk. It's been awhile, Astharoshe-kun, he says coolly; the Empire must be short of qualified personnel if they'd send a little girl like you. She catches her breath. Endrei!--she howls, and whips out a hidden weapon, a staff with a glowing green crystal in the tip.
The window blows out with an enormous blast and customers flee the casino as the two vampires streak into the street like black comets, Astha in pursuit of Endrei. She fires another blast from her staff, but misses Endrei as he shoots suddenly upward. She continues to fire recklessly, toppling walls and towers without landing a shot to her quarry; people are clustering in fear in the streets. She leaps to the top of a bridge and there finds Endrei, holding a human girl with his arm around her neck, sharp talons at her throat. Doesn't this bring back memories? the moon was just the same that night, he says. But that time, the girl shaking in my arms was you. And the one in your place was Count Ren Janosh...your precious comrade.
[We see his flashback: a younger Astharoshe caught in the same grip, a resolute, dark-haired man facing them, armed. He cuts her neck with his sharp nails, grins broadly and viciously as Janosh glares.]
Astha screams in rage and leaps at him; he throws the girl off the bridge as Astha's blast strikes. Abel comes running up, sees the unconscious Terran in the water and goes to her rescue. Endrei releases a device he's wearing: three spheres fly free to hover around him. Take this!--Astha yells, and her weapon opens up to deliver a tremendous blaze, but to her shock the spheres create a triangular shield before him and the blast bounces off, ricocheting blue needles into her body and--as he climbs the bank with the girl--into Abel. He collapses with a cry.
[Astha's flashback nightmare: Count Janosh with blood spilling from his throat, saying something to her with a dying smile before falling.] --she awakens with Abel leaning over her, and struggles to sit up, though clearly in great pain. Endrei!--where is he? --she gasps. Don't try to move; if you weren't a Methuselah this would have killed you instantly, he says. I'll get him!--she cries and again tries to go, but he pulls her back. Ast-san! --he demands of her, haven't you killed enough? And for the first time she looks around and sees the destruction her reckless hunt has caused, the piles of rubble, the bodies floating in the river. Did I...do this? --she asks in shock; before he can reply Abel collapses at her feet.
At the Vatican, Catarina lowers her head into her hands. A holy war in the midst of a carnival, she says; it was such a mistake to have expected common sense from a Methuselah. Sister Kate, who has evidently brought her the news, worries that the Empire's investigator may not settle for returning empty-handed. Cease cooperation at once and have her sent back, orders the Duchess, and as Kate vanishes, adds regretfully to herself: even though it's our last chance to open a channel between us and the Empire...
Astha visits Abel in the hospital; he's touched by this show of concern, and comments it's no surprise that she's already healed (--then why hasn't he?). She notes a man standing by a nearby bedside, remarks that Terrans as well suffer when loved ones die. Abel tells her there's really no difference between these people and her own. I'm stupid...I caused you so much trouble, she says sadly; thank you. She begins to leave but Abel calls her back, preparing to get out of bed and come with her. I need to get this out first--he struggles with the intravenous needle. Idiot! You're injured! --she scolds, but he's getting into his priest's robes, saying surely she'd be embarrassed to have her comrade in pajamas--oh, that's right, he wasn't supposed to say "comrade"-- Astha smiles at him. --Kate's voice sounds in his earpiece, and he answers, then looks at Astha with dismay...
As we heard, she's been ordered off the case, and they must part. She asks Abel to stop Endrei for her, and he replies with a formal salute--"For sure." --More fireworks fill the sky. Abel explains that there's to be a special Mass tomorrow at San Marco Cathedral to commemorate the discovery and return of the bones of the city's patron Saint, San Marco (St. Mark) to Venezia from Rome: he's coming home after an absence of hundreds of years. He adds that His Holiness will be attending. Astha snaps to attention: The Pope is here in Venezia? Of course, don't you read the paper? --asks surprised Abel, but of course she doesn't read Terran newspapers. =) She's suddenly certain that's why Endrei came to Venezia, tells him the Pope may be in danger --Endrei has tried to open warfare between the Empire and the Holy See before--and asks when the Mass is to be. Midnight.
It would cause all-out war if the Pope were assassinated by an Imperial noble, says Abel, shocked. The Empress doesn't want that, that's why I was sent, she says. She grips his lapels: that was highly classified info that should never have been leaked to Terrans, and I told it to you, she says; she looks into his eyes with deep emotion. Comrade, she says, we are the only people who can stop him.
In the beautiful old church of San Marco, we see Pope Alessandro walk down the aisle with a procession. The 399th Pope of the Holy See, Alessandro XVIII, announces a voice; I am from the New Empire, Count of Zagreb, Endrei Kuzar. He's wearing proper robes but has a hatchet up his sleeve: give me your neck! --he shouts, and charges the Pope, but is stopped by the leader of the procession--who's wielding a green crystal staff. Astha, in disguise. You!--Endrei draws back, startled. The other cleric standing by throws back his cowl; it's Abel, who draws his gun and arrests Endrei for attempted murder. How did they catch him? Abel found a memo in the safe of the judge Endrei killed; he had been forced into faking the relics--the bones of San Marco--that prompted the Pope's visit here. Give yourself up, idiot, you've dug your own grave, says Astha.
He bolts; Abel fires; again he grabs a hostage and releases the floating spheres. Astha chases him but hesitates to attack and he commends her for realizing the Aegis shield will stop her spear. Drop it, he says, and with a wince she does; getting in the way of my ambitions is a grave sin. Such a degenerate as you shouldn't speak so grandly, she growls. What?! You're cowardly, incompetent and a pervert; only your conceit is above average, she slashes back. Infuriated, he grabs up her spear and charges her in a blind rage. Now! she cries, and dives to the floor--behind her is Abel, who shoots Endrei point-blank.
He crumples in a howling tangle, pouring blood. It's a silver bullet, so suffer awhile, she comments. I can't believe he fell for such trash-talking, remarks amused Abel, and Astha notes that the Aegis blocks all incoming force but has to drop its barrier when he attacks. I believed in you, tovarash, she says, and holds out her hand: thank you for taking care of me. They shake hands. The day this land belongs to the Empire, I'll hire you to groom my cat, she adds, and he replies that he'll look forward to it.
And at the Imperial Palace: she gives her report to the Empress, and adds that the Count will be delivered soon. The veiled Empress --in a deep, stately voice--notes that at times in the report, Astharoshe speaks quite favorably of the Vatican agent who cooperated with her. No, she stammers, I only mean that for a Terran he was usable--I can alter the report.
==No need, you may go.
And as Astha leaves, the Empress' real voice is heard: a little girl's giggle. I guess that means you haven't changed, she says...
...go on to Episode Twelve.
...return to Trinity Blood Episode Guide.