It had been a long day and a half since the capture of Nikolai, and the organization had been monitoring the situation at the hospital all day. They had always been busy – always – but this was a truly unusual level of immediate concerns.
He had only just settled in for a few hours of desperately needed rest when he had received the call about that fool new recruit. Yet another issue that couldn’t be left un-attended. Simon had returned to the training complex in the early morning with a young woman. He had brought her through security as if there was no reason to have security. If this were a job, Simon would have been unceremoniously fired. But that wasn’t an option. It simply wasn’t the way things worked or even could work for the Lazarus. A certain level of trust was a necessity, in theory made stronger by recruiting only people who had no remaining ties and whose drive for the cause would be considerable. But there was no antidote for stupid.
Henri gave Simon a verbal dressing down in two languages, only one of which Simon spoke, but the fury that launched Henri into French did more than the words themselves could achieve. A hale adult in his prime, girded by the transformation wouldn’t normally feel threatened by a frail old man like Henri, but his anger combined with the certain knowledge that he was only saying what Marcel, or Sylvette, or the massed collective of the Lazarus would have expressed was quite intimidating. He was behaving like a rogue agent. That could not be tolerated in their circumstances, it was simply too risky with such a wealth of secrecy behind them. Though he didn’t out right say so, Henri made sure that Simon would feel as though he would not be given a second chance, and that should he step outside the operational boundaries of the Lazarus again that the consequence would be dire. The more complicated discussion would follow; the one with the girl.
“I hope you will forgive us. We don’t mean to be inhospitable locking you in like this.”
Sarah had only checked the doors to the lounge out of curiosity. She had not even been surprised that she was effectively a prisoner. The room itself was comfortable. She had tried to watch some television – catch up on the news of what was going on downtown, keep her mind off her past two nights. Mostly it was re-caps of what had happened so far. Families were getting angry and concerned about their loved ones quarantined inside the hospital, and had set up vigils outside the cordoned-off perimeter. Nothing dramatic enough to keep her exhausted body awake. The couch was soft and warm and seemed to nearly devour her slim form whole. She was content to slip into a deep rest for as long as she might be allowed.
She couldn’t tell how long she had been asleep – a few hours at most – when the knob turned and the elderly man stepped in. She couldn’t help herself from wondering if he might be a wizard or something. Hell, there are vampires. Why not wizards? But he didn’t dress the way she would have expected an urban wizard to dress. He would have fit in better on The West Wing in his suit than on The Dresden Files or Buffy.
“We are...” Sarah guessed from his accent that he was pausing to find the right words in English. “...very busy.” Or maybe not. “Your appearance here tonight is an extra complication which we are somewhat under-manned for. Do not feel as though there is any threat.” By which Sarah took to mean that there was indeed some kind of threat.
“My name is Henri.”
“Are you in charge of the Lazarus Group?” She could tell from the look on his face that he was not prepared for her to know their name. She had shown a card. That may not have been a good move.
“I am trusted to make decisions on behalf of those few above me in the organization. And now we must decide what to do with you.”
Definitely a sense of threat.
“Well, let me try to help, ‘cause I am running out of options. Your man outside confirmed what I suspected, so I’m confident you aren’t going to think, or feign that you think, I am nuts.”
“Last night a vampire killed my father. The night before, the same vampire killed my boy-friend. The night before that, I thought vampires were nothing but either myths or larpers. This particular blood-sucker may be after me personally. Either that or it’s a huge coincidence that she got both my boyfriend – and a half dozen of his friends, I might add – and my father. It may seem like I’m not as scared as I ought to be, but I’ve been staring death in the face for as long as I’ve been alive, so really I’m mostly adjusting to the fact that there are vampires and that one just fucking killed the only two men in my life. I don’t know what to do or who to turn to, and I haven’t really got much else. I don’t even really know what you people do – for all I know you are allied with the vampires – but I have little left to lose. This is kind of my hail-Mary pass... if that’s appropriate.”
So much for keeping cards hidden, that was just about all she had.
Henri sucked his teeth in contemplation.
“This is a very unique week.” He sat in a well-padded arm-chair opposite Sarah. “The Lazarus is made up of individuals who have nothing left to lose. People who have come to that point to a large part because of vampires. We make a habit of finding them. No one has ever found us before. This is very interesting, but it is also gravely concerning. I can’t tell you how we will proceed – this is too unique a situation for me to determine without consulting our leader. Nor can I promise that it will be fast or that it won’t be unpleasant. But if what you say is true and you are so clever that you found us of your own devices, then you are absolutely in the right place.