Saint Augustine’s Wrath – Part II

For some reason people tended to believe that the Paris gate was located within the catacombs. There was a certain logic to that, many of the gates were located near cemeteries and mausoleums. However, people often overlooked how popular the Parisian catacombs were, even during wartime.

For some reason people tended to believe that the Paris gate was located within the catacombs. There was a certain logic to that, many of the gates were located near cemeteries and mausoleums. However, people often overlooked how popular the Parisian catacombs were, even during wartime.

While an unnamed cemetery in some forgotten part of town was an ideal location for most gates. A site swarming with tourists, treasure hunters and historians did little to conceal traffic. Instead Clara and Edith stepped through the backdoor of a dilapidated hospital complex and found themselves in the Terminus.

Next week it would be in a different location. In a city the size of Paris, changing the gateway’s location with some regularity helped reduce accidental discovery.

“Right on time children,” said Reverend Mother Augustine.

Clara had never been greeted at the Terminus before, so it all came as a bit of a shock. Since Edith shared the same stunned look, that meant it was a new experience for her as well.

“Reverend Mother,” the two said in unison.

“Come with me,” the Reverend Mother said. “We have no time to waste,” she added without formality.

The girls fell in line, walking alongside the doors designed to confuse. They walked down a few sections until the Reverend Mother stopped and opened a door.

“Through here,” Augustine said.

Clara moved through the door and found herself standing in the middle of the Reverend Mother’s chambers. Apparently there were many ways into the Tower, some that were active only when certain conditions were met.

Once the Reverend Mother entered the premises she said, “Who gave you the name Drusilla?”

“That detail was clearly outlined in my rep—,” Edith attempted to say.

“I don’t care what the report says,” Augustine said. “I am perfectly capable of reading a report Edith.”

Clara found the exchange telling, staff rarely set aside formality for the sake of brevity. Proper marks of respect were to be used on both sides. How else could the staff expect the young ones to follow their lead?

She also noted how a lot of security had been bypassed for no immediate gain. This report must have gotten the senior echelon’s attention, but a key detail was missing. So they had been recalled to tap directly into the source without relying on the war machine’s bureaucracy to relay their queries.

“Yes Reverend Mot—,” Edith attempted to say but was motioned to stop.

Both girls remained silent, clearly the Reverend Mother had something in mind but had not voiced her requirements. Edith was not about to get cut off again and by convention Clara was expected to let her senior take the lead. So she remained silent, besides she wanted to see how far this would go.

“Cat got your tongue,” Augustine asked while staring at Clara.

“Gladys’ partner volunteered the name before sunrise,” Clara said without showing a hint of amusement.

“You have met Gladys before correct,” the Reverend Mother asked.

“Once before, when she killed Father Michael,” Clara said.

“The same woman you identified in Professor Stephens’ class,” the Reverend Mother asked.

“Of course Reverend Mother and the same woman portrayed in Jack’s sketches,” Clara said. After a pause she added a belated, “Reverend Mother.”

Clara glanced at Edith for a moment and realised her partner was just as confused. This information was not new, nor did it provide them with any motivations for their recall.

“Did she recognise you,” the Reverend Mother asked.

Clara thought back over the events of that night. Had this been more than a mere coincidence? Up to now she had dismissed the idea as being paranoid.

“I don’t believe so Reverend Mother,” Clara said.

“Why not,” the Reverend Mother asked.

“Edith was attacked first,” Clara said bluntly.

This implied that Gladys had gone after the biggest threat first. If that thing had recognised Clara, then her rage would have been appropriately focused.

“True,” the Reverend Mother said while pacing. “How did you know where to fire your weapon,” she asked.

“She attacked Father Michael in the same manner Reverend Mother,” Clara said while avoiding to mention that this had been a wild guess.

The Reverend Mother smirked, she had no difficulty in seeing through what was left unsaid. It would be hard to get anything past her, so perhaps it was the time to change the beat.

“Reverend Mother Augustine,” Clara said in an unwavering voice. “This was all covered in our report, surely that is not the reason we were brought here,” Clara asked.

The elder hunter’s immutable face formed a smile. So this had been some sort of trial to see who could break through their conditioning and operate independently?

“Will these tests ever end,” Clara wondered.

Had the Reverend Mother suspected Edith of embellishing her report? Could that have been the reason for their being summoned? Edith was known as a straight shooter, so the Reverend Mother must have wanted to make sure that Clara’s portion was truthful.

“Drusilla,” the Reverend Mother said. “Was one of the first hunters in our ranks,” she added.

Both of the girls cocked their heads to the side and looked confused. Clara would not have guessed the origin of that name, so their mole had been one of their own. The big question on her mind was how long ago that had been?

The Reverend Mother carried on for nearly an hour about Drusilla’s history. A woman who had been recruited shortly after Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Quite literally she was one of the founding members of the Tower; a member integral to how the order functioned.

She had moved up through the ranks quickly, very much like Clara had done. However, there was always an appetite for power that no amount of training or self-actualisation could purge. These days students were discharged if that flaw came to light, but back then it grew unchecked.

The day Drusilla was passed over for selection as Reverend Mother was the beginning of dark times for the Tower. It was as though a shadow loomed over that staff and students; dozens of hunters including some of their most experienced disappeared without a trace. Faculty members were found mutilated and tortured just outside the gates.

Until that point, attacks against the Tower had been few and far between. There had been no coordinated campaign against them, nor any strategy behind their attacks. After Drusilla had been turned down, they began fighting a unified front fielded by a whole new class of monster.

No one ever suspected Drusilla, even when the attacks grew more vicious she remained to shore up their defences. At least that had been the image she portrayed on the homefront.

In truth, she had been rallying the enemy, focusing their attacks to weaken her opponents. When the political tables did not shift, she vanished without a trace.

The memory of these attacks faded from the Towers collective memory. Soon a new generation of hunters ventured out into wild, better equipped and informed on what to expect.

A century later rumours began to circulate on a dangerous vampire lurking about. Every encounter spoke of a woman of unimaginable beauty. The Tower ordered out waves of hunters to confirm these rumours and neutralise the threat. Most found nothing or were never heard from again.

A hunter eventually escaped the clutches of what she described as a cruel woman. While she barely escaped with her life, the contents of her report shook the very foundations of the order. That revelation led to many of the security precautions put in place today.

“Her name was stricken from all official records, as were the names of any who subsequently betrayed us,” the Reverend Mother said.

Clara’s eyes brightened when another piece of the puzzle fell into place. Obviously some records remained, since the Reverend Mother knew exactly who Drusilla was. So why were the names stricken from the record? Augustine seemed to sense the question lingering in the air.

“When their names come up, it confirms the intelligence as authentic. Drusilla however, has been clever enough to change her name frequently,” Augustine said. “Because it’s far easier to hide amongst your prey when your name is nondescript,” she added.

“Yes Reverend Mother,” the girls said in unison.

So these names became a red flag to alert hunters that a threat was moving against them. That meant that Drusilla’s name must have sent off one hell of an alarm to get this level of attention.

“We’ve always suspected that Drusilla was responsible for Father Michael’s death,” the Reverend Mother said. “You confirmed it today when you mentioned her name,” she added.

“The man who gave up the name told us she was the mole Reverend Mother,” Clara said.

“That’s probably the truth as he knew it,” Augustine replied. “Do you believe she would have trusted this man with actual information,” she asked.

“No Reverend Mother,” both girls said in reply.

So this was nothing more than an attempt at taunting them. Although the word haunted was more appropriate.

“Why did she vow revenge Reverend Mother,” Clara asked.

“What do you mean Child,” the Reverend Mother asked in return.

“What were the chances of two hunters being called upon to witness the meeting between the Georgians and Drusilla’s party,” Clara said. “They were expecting us to be there to conclude a transaction Reverend Mother,” she added.

The Reverend Mother looked as though she was deep in thought.

“Had Drusilla’s name been used to throw them off,” Clara thought.

“This means that we have a mole within our order,” Clara said out of turn. “One who can issue orders without raising suspicion,” she added.

“Orders,” Augustine said. “What orders,” she asked.

“We received orders through our CO to investigate sightings in that area. Intelligence strongly indicated that a meeting would—,” Edith said.

“Did you see these orders Child,” the Reverend Mother asked.

“—No. These were passed on orally Reverend Mother,” Edith said without hesitation.

That was a departure from the standard operating procedures, hunters were normally given their orders directly. Their COs would have to break the envelope’s seal to know the particulars.

“We should warn whoever remains—,” Clara managed to say.

“See to that child,” the Reverend Mother said to Clara while she kept her eyes fixed on Edith. “Edith you will stay behind to discuss matters further,” she added.

Clara looked over the situation and knew this was the end of an era. Until now they had been inseparable, a formidable force to be reckoned with.

This time Clara had proven her worth as a full-fledged hunter. It had been her quick thinking that revealed Drusilla’s ongoing interests in the Tower.

She left the office quietly without looking back, but prayed that Edith would be fine. She was a good soldier and one hell of a partner so that had to stand for something.

Once Clara reached the main floor, a young acolyte handed her a sealed envelope.

“For your eyes only Miss Grey. You are to open the letter once your mission has been completed,” the acolyte said before he scurried away.

Clara stood there in awe, an impressive feat considering how little time had passed. Or had the Reverend Mother known how this debriefing would turn out?

“She is never one to be underestimated,” Clara thought.

Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!


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