Wednesday, December 13

Vatican Assassins I

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Vatican Assassins

Author’s Note: Credit where credit is due. This is not my concept, I’m just the writer. The idea of “Vatican Assassins,” was from a recent radio interview with Charlie Sheen. I’m guessing it’s either a reference to an in-joke, or else a movie I haven’t seen. But, I was immediately intrigued by the notion of “Vatican Assassins.” It sounded like a Dan Brown concept with a dash of Lian Hearn taken via Comic-Con then dumped into a vat of crusader mythology and iced with Masonic legend. In other words I thought it was brilliant and should be a ‘thing.’ As it was unlikely any good author would take it up, I’ve decided to give it a go myself.

I understand there is NO WAY the church would approve of this particular fictional notion, so if you are Christian, specifically if you are Catholic, you may wish to stop reading now. If you are choosing to read onwards, please remember that this is fictional. I have little opinion or knowledge on the organization of the Catholic Church, and even less knowledge on the workings of the Vatican City. However, I’m absolutely certain that they don’t have a team of private assassins on board. Still, it’s a fun idea.

I should also mention that this fiction in no way relates to Charlie Sheen or his interview, beyond the mentioning of the notion that the Vatican would have assassins. I, personally, have no opinion on Charlie Sheen beyond the fact that he is a fantastically talented actor.

Face it, we all knew someone would do it and my life motto is, “If someone’s going to do it, it might as well be me!”

Further Disclaimer: While, I’m confessing my sins here as it were: The Christian name “Quade” comes courtesy of Rugby Union player Quade Cooper and the fact that I was perving on, err watching that is, ‘Australia’s Greatest Athlete,’ while I was trying to decide on a name for my character. The similarity ends there; I just liked the name basically. There is absolutely no similarity at all whatsoever, and I would’ve kept my ‘sin’ to myself except for the fact that it’s an incredibly unique name and almost anyone hailing from the Oceanic Region would guess pretty quickly where I got it from. There is no likeness or special hint, reason or insult behind the choice of the name, I just liked it and thought it would work well for the character.

Vatican Assassins I

The casual polo shirt and chinos felt out of place in the dank, dark depths below St Peter’s Basilica, as did the silent tread of his rubber soled loafers and the swing of the briefcase in his hand. All around Father Quade Jenkins, the footsteps of the other priests echoed down the stone walled corridor. That was, everyone’s steps, except his own. Quade may not be able to deliver a stirring sermon, but if the lord required it, he could walk over bubble wrap without making a sound.

A priest though he was, he always felt out of place when surrounded only by others of the cloth. He walked determinedly though, placing himself in the middle of the path holding his spine straight, his shoulders back, and head held high. Occasionally, he glanced at the others in their cassocks and clerical collars which he had once hoped to wear. There was an order to the regalia, a certain something that went beyond tradition. When you were in the cloth, most other things were irrelevant, your morals and purpose were set for you and were unquestioned save from the most unsolvable souls. Quade thought, that there would be a high level of peace within that surety. It wasn’t his journey though. He understood that, it simply wasn’t how he could best serve the Lord. He needed to blend in with the general public to be able to do the things which Christ most required of him.

As Quade journeyed deeper into the subterranean levels, the number of people in the corridors lessened progressively. Likewise, more of those who were walking past seemed to hold a vague idea of who Quade was. One or two nodded with fearful respect, but the others quickly shifted their gaze, some others lowered their heads to stare at the stone floors, and all of them scurried on ever faster towards the next turn so that they could forget him. They thought his sect to be a necessary evil and most, if not all, of them liked to pretend that the ‘Soldiers of Saint George’ didn’t exist. But, they did exist and their contact from within the inner sanctum had called him here for a reason; one which, he knew, those in the cassocks would rather not think upon. 

At the lowest level there was no one else walking the hallways – only Father Quade Jenkins and the silent footsteps which refused to echo. The doors down here all looked the same, but Quade knew that behind two of them was something other than the tombs of dead pope’s of the past. There were too easily notable he always thought; they were the only two doors with locks and fingerprint scanners. He stopped to glance at one such door like that. Only the Pope himself and three carefully selected others got to enter this room. Neither Quade, nor even his contact ever got to see what was held in the room of secrets. Possibly there were files on Quade himself held in that room, or files of others who over the centuries had held his post. Quade would never know though, he could only guess. Even knowing that there was a door, and where it was located was already more than almost any other priest or bishop was aware of. Other’s simply thought it was another dead pope whose tomb had, for some reason, become contaminated with time and lack of new air.  Casting a final look at the rather obvious thumb panel and the door of extended knowledge it supposedly opened, Quade walked on. Whatever was behind that door, it was less of a secret than he was it seemed.

Through the labyrinth he moved, its every turn recorded nowhere but in his own memory. Finally he came to a door which professed to be the tomb of the dragon slain by Saint George and it was through this door that Quade passed through. There was nothing in here of course, and the unknowing eye would think it simply a strange metaphorical grave for the evils of the world. Quade knew though, that there was more to it than that. This tomb was the entryway which would lead him to the official headquarters of the Soldiers of Saint George. It was symbolic to him, that Saint George’s soldiers had to pass by the empty tomb of the dragon.

Solemnly, he crossed the room and pushed the bricks in a place left of the center. It was another piece of the symbolism which held his soldiers to the Vatican City. Another corridor opened before him and Quade stepped confidently over the threshold into it. It was a short hallway with only the one door at the end. Along the side walls Persian style oil lamps had already been lit providing him with a sparse orange guide to his destination. He supposed many might find the walk to be fearsome and eerie, or else possibly even inspiring. Quade felt none of those sensations, he never had. To him, it was just a hallway with medieval lighting and nothing more than simply that. He walked its length at a casual pace, neither fast nor slow until he reached the door.

In fading paint over the steel entry was a depiction of Saint George slaying the dragon, in the foreground in front of him was the sacred cross of Christ. Father Quade Jenkins dipped his fingers in the bowl of holy water against the wall and then knelt as best he could without getting dirt stains on his chinos. He proceeded to make the sign of the cross and spoke the words with the honor he felt they deserved, “in the name of the father, the sun and the holy ghost – ” His prayer was a unique one with and he knew it well, “with respect to my patron, Saint George the Victorious, I fight the necessary fight against those who would indefinitely stain the Earth with poisonous notions. I am your soldier and servant – ”

His personal prayer continued on. When he rose to his feet he felt both more solemn and more dedicated in his duties than he had before. Ignoring the emotion which dizzied him, he dusted off his knees and then placed his thumb on the print scanner, and when it blinked green, he unlocked the door with his key.

Ahead of him was a room entirely sparse. The only furniture at all was a basic wooden, rectangular table, some chairs and more lamps. At the far length of the table sat the man Quade had come to see. He was the most non-descript man Quade had ever met. You could neither call him old, or young. Nor could he be described as either handsome or hideous. It was impossible in this light to see the bluish eyes, but the increasing gray amidst the dull brown hair did shine in the lamp lights. A very vague air of relief to see the end of very boring wait seemed to cross the man’s face, but it was difficult to be sure. Quade bowed his head a moment respectfully and muttered, “Bishop.”

As always, Bishop De Gris, was direct. “We have a political threat which must be stopped before it gains popularity.”

Quade deftly stopped the momentum of the manila folder which the bishop had slid across the table to him as he had spoken. As the other man continued his briefing, Quade flicked through the contents of the folder and memorized the attached photographs.

“Our intelligence people have been monitoring his phone calls. It seems this minister has somehow gained knowledge of, ‘The Room’” He spoke of the door Quade had paused in front of earlier, and he now looked up at Bishop De Gris showing his surprise that anyone outside of the church could find out about it. “We believe there is a mole within the inner sanctum, we have intelligence investigating who that might be.” The man answered Quade’s unspoken question. “In the meantime, this Australian Minister of Security must be stopped before he begins a coup.” The bishop paused, calming some temperate emotion within himself. “He has evidence, photographs and documents that must be destroyed. He has been talking to representatives of a number of other countries attempting to bring a movement through the U.N to gain access to our vault. You understand, that if this were to happen, the contents of the vault would end the holy city, and damage faith globally to an irreparable level. The ordinary person cannot handle full knowledge of the lord or the history of the church and humanity. Their faith in us, and in God, would be irrevocably destroyed.” The bishop appeared more stressed and emotional than usual and Quade took note of it. He was babbling, and that was far from usual for Bishop De Gris.

“At any rate – ” the bishop rubbed the corners of his eyes and continued. “The man needs both stopping, and discrediting. Intelligence has included thorough research on all the people Minister Malcolm Torvey – ” he spat the name as though it were mud in his mouth and then paused for a moment once more to take a deep relaxing breath before continuing. “- The people that Minister Malcolm Torvey relayed vital information to.” He peered deep into Quade then. “They will all need to be both discredited and silenced. If that cannot be achieved, than we need them sent to the arms of the Lord so that He -” The bishop indicated upwards with his hands. “May explain the gravity of what they may have achieved.”

The bishop peered into his soul once more and Quade fought the urge to squirm under the scrutiny. “Father Jenkins, do you understand the importance of this? The dire need to protect the faith by means which most would struggle to understand?”

Quade nodded his dark head up and down slightly. “I understand.”

“Good.” The bishop’s tone moved immediately upbeat. “I’ll be in contact with you when there is information on the person who leaked these photographs and documents.” Quade stood while stashing the folder into his briefcase. “Also!” Bishop De Gris caught his attention once more. “There has been some – talk within the sanctum regarding your sect. I thought you should be aware, so that you may keep your work more low-key than usual.” Quade felt a warning to that statement and suspected it might explain the enhanced emotion the bishop was displaying today. He nodded his understanding once again. It was more for the bishop’s emotional benefit than anything else. His sect was already as low-key as it could be. There was nothing more he could do about that.

Once more staying Quade’s retreat to the sunlight, the bishop spoke again. “I wanted to ask how Father Patrick Carroll was working out. We haven’t spoken since I first sent him over to you.”

“He’s good.” Quade felt relief at this easier conversation. “He’s young and full of ideas obviously, but, he has a lot of skill and understands the necessity of the fight. He is learning everything we teach him with remarkable speed. The only problem we seem to be having is walking silently. He can’t seem to manage that at all!” Quade grinned at an amusing memory.

“Happy to hear!” The bishop beamed. “He had a lot of passion, even as a child. One of my own congregation.” The man exuded pride as though he were the young priest’s biological father rather than his spiritual one.

“I’ll look after him, and teach him well.” Quade smiled reassurance together with a final goodbye to the bishop.

To be continued … (maybe)

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