LXVII: The Society
The taxi driver left me on a dirt track along the bluff, and I picked my way carefully along the coastal rock until I reached a barely visible beaten-mud road. Determining that it must lead to the Society's haunt, I proceeded carefully. They were expecting minions after all, so it would be best to be on my guard.
The road led to a monastery-like building, of unusual design for this area of the world. It was not of Mexican design, indeed, it seemed a curious blend of the starkness of German architecture and the Italian love of domed towers.
Two guards stood at attention by the front doors, assault weapons at the ready. A third man, who by his odour hadn't bathed in days and had a love for cheap whiskey. He remained alert however, despite his stubble and unkempt hair. His eyes burned with fervour.
And to my right, a guard more lax in his duties. He tapped the assault rifle against his leg with impatient boredom, muttering to himself.
Seems it's the back way in, then.
I proceeded slowly, carefully, keeping my back to the rocks.
Gripping the man's mouth tightly, preventing him from making a noise, I whispered in his ear.
'This isn't personal, but you're keeping someone I'm looking for. You're going to tell me whether the Professor is inside. Just nod.'
The man nodded his head, making affirmative noises.
'Good. Sorry about this, but I can't have you raising an alarm.'
I drained the man, lowering his body to the ground quietly. His blood had left me charged, ready to take on the Society. I regretted his death, but there was no possible way for me to have got around him without being spotted.
Besides, hissed the Beast. He was hardly an innocent. You should kill them all. They'd kill you, and seek blessing from their God for doing so. Return the favour! Kill them, drink from them...
'That voice will get me killed', I muttered darkly, forcing the irritating buzz out of my mind.
Another guard patrolled around the back. This one stalked from side to side, a heavy sniper rifle in his hands. Good for shooting things at a distance, useless in close quarters. The man found this out to his detriment as I jumped into his face, snapping his neck. He tumbled to the floor wordlessly, dropping the rifle. Again I hid the body, before returning to pick up the rifle. 'Could come in useful, after all', I mused. 'I really should send a thank you letter to someone for leaving me so many supplies...'
I flicked my lock-pick open, and got to work on the door, moving as quickly as it was possible to move while remaining quiet. The lock was simplistic. Perhaps they weren't expecting the hordes of LaCroix to attempt to get in unnoticed. Were they so amateurish? Or was it the everyday Kindred, so impressed with his sense of immortality and nigh invincibility that made them walk to their deaths guilelessly? My thoughts were halted by the click of the lock. Carefully, I pushed the door open and went inside.
The inside of the monastery was a little more serious. Laser tripwires were positioned along all the possible exits, with boxes of explosives at the end of each wire. Through the laser beam I could see a hunter kneeling by an altar, praying devoutly. He clung to a crucifix around his neck, his eyes closed. Oblivious.
I moved to the laptop computer, accessing the power menu. Using the password 'soc', wondering at a world-wide society of vampire hunters who were content with three letter passwords, I shut off the laser beams surrounding the small chapel. Creeping past the praying man, I moved onto a branching corridor. I was here to get the Professor out, not start a bloodbath. If I could avoid the hunters, I would.
Switching off another laser, I ducked into a room on the left as the guard continued his patrol. For some reason I couldn't discern, they weren't noticing the lasers being switched off. Was it possible only I saw them? It seemed unusual, but I couldn't really explain it otherwise. The room was a simple bedroom, with a pallet in the corner, and a small writing table in the corner. On top was an open journal. I quickly scanned the contents, hoping for some idea of what to do next.
I closed the journal. So, the Society was well aware of what was happening. Their vision of LaCroix on fire was one I could get behind. Unfortunately, other than that, there was nothing else of real use in the journal. I left the room as the guard walked past towards the chapel, and opened the door at the end of the hallway.
Up the stairs, I could hear several voices, one possessing a thick Irish accent. I climbed the stairs slowly, stepping lightly to avoid making the old wood creak.
'Now, d'ye think we should be feed'n the prisoner?', spoke the long-haired hunter, leaning against the wall. 'It just don't seem roight, keep'n him loike that.'
'Bah, let the bastard starve', growled another man, bearlike, with a nasty scar running along his jaw. 'He's as bad as the vampires. If he hadn't unearthed that fucking Sarcophagus, we all wouldn't be in that mess. Word is, we're in the end times.'
More superstitious bullshit. I moved to a table in the corner, well covered by the night, and picked up the key to the wine cellar. It made sense that a prisoner would be kept in a basement level. I made my way down the stairs as quietly as I had come, and switched off the wires blocking the opposing door. The key fit the lock perfectly, and I closed the door behind me just as the guard's boots became audible.
'Now why is this idiot facing the wrong way?', I muttered under my breath. The guard didn't hear, immersed in his cigarette. His hands were crossed across his chest, his demeanour one of a man not expecting trouble. Not an unrealistic view, given the security upstairs. Walking silently past the man, I paused, feeling a draught of air coming from the far end of the cellar. I approached the bottles and barrels of ale carefully, a suspicion growing in me.
As I had suspected, one of the barrels had been empty, blocking an access tunnel that led deeper into the earth. I climbed down the ladder, pulling the barrel back into position, masking my trail. At the bottom of the shaft, a wide tunnel had been carved, with a sturdy door at the end. I marveled at the work, wondering how long it would have taken to complete the task. I shrugged. In reality, it wasn't really important. I scratched at my left eyelid irritably. The socket itched, tingled. It was possible the eye was regrowing. Quicker than LaCroix or Beckett imagined, that was for sure. Maybe by the end of the night I'd have normal vision again.