The last thing I remembered before I woke up was Allegra flying away. I had been engulfed in flames, under the light of the sun and she had spread her wings, smooth wings of molten fire and left me standing in the ruined street surrounding my Father’s house.
I looked around now and realized that I was back in my room. My old room. I could see a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of beer on the stand next to my bed, and a fresh set of clothes laid out. My trusty jacket and weapons harness has also been hung on the hook of my closet. I guess someone had grabbed my guns from the foyer.
I winced as I swung my feet out of bed, I was naked, though I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. That shit usually melted everything I had on anyway when I transformed, though I caught myself wondering what unlucky bastard had to carry my naked ass to my room. My body was full of sharp pains as I stepped clear of the sheets, sort of like really bad sunburn. It would pass in a few hours, but that didn’t mean that I liked it any better. I walked into the bathroom and ran some cool water over my face, rubbing it gingerly. I spent a few more minutes cleaning up before I went back and grabbed the folded pile of clothes. It was a pair of thick black cargo pants and a black wool pullover, with a pair of new boots that I wasn’t looking forward to breaking in. I grabbed my harness and checked it over, finding all my pouches had been re-filled and loaded. That meant that Gear was here. He was the only other person who would have known what equipment I use and where it went.
I grabbed the jacket next and ran a finger over it. All the new tears had been patched up and mended, making it just like old again. I was tired, but my Second Sight caught a heavy glimpse of Green Aura in the jacket, more than normal after a repair and I made a note to ask Gear about it. Shrugging it on, I patted down the pockets and found a nice surprise, a fresh pack of smokes.
I wolfed down the sandwiches and the beer before pulling out my lighter, which I had tucked into one of my pouches. Lighting up, I took a long drag before I headed out the door and back upstairs towards my Father’s study. My guess is that was where I would find him, and Gear if he was still around. As I passed the foyer, I could see several of my Father’s underlings repairing the house and cleaning the mess. I couldn’t have been down for to long because there was still a significant part of the mess left.
I walked up the stairs and tried to avoid looking at myself in my Father’s mirror, I could see the orange tined fire a lot more privately than I had the last time I went up those stairs, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. The door to the study was cracked open and I took that as a sign to walk in, unsure of what, or who, waited inside.
What I found may have been the strangest collection of people I have ever been in company with. Dad and trusty Hood was there, Hood burrowing a gaze at Belladonna, who was pointedly not making eye contact with her Father. Gear sat to her left and had some fucking huge ass ogre I’ve never seen before lurking behind him. Next to him where two guys I took the be Vatican officers, mostly based on the collars, but one of them had a big ass sword in the shape of a cross on his back, He had close cropped black hair and definitely had some military training. I hate these guys because they always think they know the best way of dealing with people like us. A good knife and a Hail Mary. The other guy I took as maybe a monsegnouir based on his age and the tabard around his shoulders. He was very calm, sitting with his hands folded.
They all turned to look at me when I walked in, a mixture of emotions on their face. Bell lit up like a Christmas tree, a big smile and bounded to her feet to embrace me in a great hug. It looked like she had gotten some healing because her color was back and when I used my Second Sight; her Aura was flushed with color. Gear gave me a wink and a grin, while tall and ugly behind him didn’t as much as flinch. Dad just raised an eyebrow, the most emotion he was going to show that I may be up to soon. Hood gave me one of his patented withering looks that earned a big shit eating grin outta me. The Vatican people though, they were different.
Sword guy scowled at me like he had just stepped in a pile of dog shit, while the older guy rose to his feet. My Sight already flush, I could see the whirly mass of Blue that encompassed him. This guy was seriously deep in Holy magic, more than Quint, more than Father Mal. This guy was legitimately a serious User, someone on the level of Dad. I gently pulled Bella off and gave her a smile.
“Missed you to Bell. Heya Gear. Sorry you guys missed all the fun around here. Dad had a really interesting block party and you wouldn’t believe which neighbors showed up.”
I took a drag off my smoke while Bell shot me a scowl. She was clearly worried about me but I had too many questions to assure her right now. Starting with who these Vatican guys were.
“I assume you guys are the backup I called for? Vatican officials in the home of a known Ancient? This is a story I am dying to hear. Anyone want to fill in some details, seems I missed something on my power nap.”
I finished off the smoke and failing to see an ashtray, dropped the butt in an empty glass. In the past I probably would have wadded it up and chucked on the floor, but at this point, I think even I felt a bit bad for all the shit this job had put Dad through. I lit up another and pulled up one of the study’s overstuffed chairs as Bell sat back down by Gear. The old Vatican guy started off.
“Allow me to introduce myself, Monsignor Everett Malkin, at your service. I believe you once worked with my brother, Edward, Mr. Develin. The man to my left is the Vatican’s top Hunter, Father Shepard. First allow me to assure you that Father Quinton is doing well. The doctors stabilized his condition and he is receiving healing as we speak, we also healed your friend Ms. Dellacroix. When we received your call, I was dispatched immediately, due to my familiarity with both Santa Diego and yourself, via my brother. “
“We also received your belief, one which Father Quinton vehemently corroborated, that Brother Tristan was working against the Church. We are here to support you in your cause as your new Agents, until such a time as Father Quinton can re-engage his duties. We are also very interested in finding the angel Serapha, for Father Quinton has informed us of the prophecy she foretold. We at the Vatican believe this girl to be the key to unlock many of these mysteries.”
EVERETT MALKIN! I had no idea that old Mal had a brother in the service. We had shared a lot over the years and you think this is the kind of thing a guy would tell you. Still this guy was of a power level that Mal had never crested before and that in of itself made me curious. I was also guessing that he had a few questions about Mal and how he died. Questions like how good I was at my job that he wasn’t gonna like the answers to. Shepard the Hunter shouldn’t have surprised me though; no way was a guy like this traveling with a little more conventional protection. Hell, he probably had agents surrounding the place as we speak.
“Glad to know you Monsignor. Your brother was as fine a man as I have ever known and I am sure you have some questions for me about him. Questions I’d be more than happy to answer any other time, but right now we have more pressing matters. I’m glad to have you aboard.”
Malkin nodded and took his seat as Dad grabbed this queue to chime in.
“Good to see you up and about son. As you have most likely guessed, after the herald Allegra came, you collapsed in the street. We managed to drag you into the shadows and put you in your room. With the arrival of False Dawn, and you failing to appear or answer your calls, Bella brought your friends back with her, including Mr. Dent here, worried that you did not arrive.”
I shot Bell and Gear a grateful smile. We both knew what coming back here meant to her, as well as me. Though I was coming to realize that my Father may be more than he appeared to be in my youth, in any shade Hood was still a prick, doing what he had to her and her Mother.
“What you don’t know is that this wasn’t the first time a Herald of Light came here looking for you. From what I guess, before your arrival at The Academy earlier, agents arrived looking for you here, thinking that perhaps you would return home for answers as to why the Dark Walkers and Fell had turned on you. They were not as….skilled as the Herald Allegra though and we fought them off.”
I had figured as much when I saw Pop patching himself up on my arrival. That filled in some blanks, though I was gonna have to corner Gear and figure out why he was getting mixed up in this. Gear was my friend sure, but I don’t know if he knows what kind of shit we are getting into. Watching over Quint and Bell at the hospital was one thing, but coming here was a big decision. Worse yet, it painted a bigger target.
Still, knowing this group was looking to me was a first step. I knew I could trust Bella and Gear, and maybe even the meathead following him around, and if Mal Sr. and his junior sidekick were half as good as the Aura’s they kicked off, it made for a good start. I was also fairly certain that my Dad had already done about as much as he was willing, or even able to do, so now I have to figure out what the next step was. Find Tristan and Serapha and figure out the power behind them, or confront my sister and try to stop the apocalypse. I knew these two things were connected, I just was missing a few pieces, and if I remember correctly, the first step at solving a jigsaw puzzle was to fill out the borders and work your way inward. Allegra was at the heart of this matter, first I needed to get the border pieces. Then maybe the big picture would be clearer. I grabbed another drag of my smoke before starting.
“Allegra is waiting for us, for me. There’s no way we can stop her unless we know who else is involved in this fucking mess. We find Tristan, we find Sera. Tristan is the key. Whoever put the muscle behind him doesn’t want me talking to her. The same person is providing Dark Magic and worse, Dark Walkers to do a holy man’s bidding. This is the connection we need to figure out. We find the link between this; we find a link to Allegra.”
Bell was the one to ask the first question.
“Where to then Alex?”
“There’s only one place you can hire muscle like that as a norm, holy man or not. We gotta go to The Copper Cup.”
I gotta see Julien. See the man I failed most of all.
End of Line.