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The Assignment ~Gabriel (Private)

[cross posted to blood_quarter]

The Assignment, Paris, France

Gabriel smiled as his class clapped at the end of the lecture. He never would have believed that a man whose entire upbringing had centered on martial lessons and becoming a man of ‘action’ would enjoy the pedantic lifestyle of teaching so much.



Gabriel nodded to his students as they departed aware that a grad student had entered at the top of the hall. He tucked his lecture notes and papers into is attaché case as she made her way down the steps. Despite his seeming distracted, he was very much aware of her. She was a looker - petite blond, curvaceous and well aware of her beauty judging by the sultry walk.

Le Professeur Aubry c'est pour vous,” she said throatily before handing him a small envelope with an old fashion wax seal.

Merci,” Gabriel replied taking the note. Recognizing the seal, Gabriel opened the envelope and pulled out a small note card. There was a single line in bold elegant handwriting.

I must see you immediately.

No signature but Gabriel knew his sire’s writing well. He looked up. The grad student had remained, watching him with hungry eyes. He knew he could’ve taken her bent over the desk right then and she would give little objection. However, his sire’s summons left him no time for dalliance.

Merci,” he said once more with regret in his eyes before hurrying off to the library, the domicile of his sire and mentor.

Niketas Choniates made his home in the basement of La Sorbonne or as it was currently known Paris-Sorbonne Université. The building was old as was the library and had a history and purpose few were aware of. Niketas was the current Head Librarian, a title that extended beyond the university and to the city in general. He watched over the Librarians’ interests in this area.

Gabriel’s sire was waiting for him, opening the door before he could knock. Gabriel drank in the sight of this handsome male. Niketas looked to be in his late thirties with wings of grey at his temples giving him a distinguished air. He had faint laugh lines about his eyes and mouth lulling the unsuspecting into believing him harmless. His frame was thin perfectly suited to a clerk or man of letters. Though, clothes hid that it was a strong, well-defined body forged in a by-gone era bereft of modern conveniences.

“Gabriel,” Niketas a master of many languages, spoke to his childe in English. Giving Gabriel a warm hug and kiss on both cheeks he continued, “I am pleased that you came to visit this night.”

“I got your missive,” Gabriel answered in the same language.

“And you had no plans for the evening?” Niketas asked leading his childe to a sitting room made cozy by a small fire burning cheerfully in a hearth with two chairs set before it.

“None that were more important than you, Niketas,” Gabriel said choosing the seat to the left.

Niketas unstopped a bottle of wine and poured them both a drink before taking his own seat. “You have always been a joy to me Gabriel. I do not think that I’ve told you that before.”

Gabriel uncomfortable with the praise remained silent. Whatever his sire wanted was very important and he would not slow Niketas down with useless questions or chatter.

After a moment, Niketas grinned. Gabriel’s stoic way never failed to amuse him. With his silence his childe was admonishing him to get to the point. “You have little patience but you are still respectful to your sire. I have an assignment for you, Gabriel.”

Gabriel looked up at his sire in surprise. Normally, his duties came from an underling. Niketas rarely had time to issue assignments out even to his own childers. This departure from the normal put Gabriel’s mind on alert. “Assignment sire?” he merely echoed, prompting Niketas to say more as he sampled the wine.

“Yes, you are familiar with the quest for Enoch and his Dark Grimoire?” Niketas asked taking a fortifying sip of wine.

“All guardians have been briefed. It is one of the greatest dangers out there right now,” Gabriel answered easily. The wine was good but the subject matter kept him from digressing.

“Good, good, because we believe we have tracked him down to New Orleans and you have been assigned to recover him and the artifact,” Niketas said swirling the wine in his glass thoughtfully. “This is a very dangerous mission but I am very sure that you will be successful.”

Gabriel raised an eyebrow. This was an extremely important mission and it was being handed to him, who aside for short missions requiring a few days out of town here or there, had never been far from his sire for any length of time.

“I assume I am to go in, storm the city and pull Enoch out. Who will be on my team?” Gabriel asked.

Niketas smiled warmly at his childe, “You are mistaken. You will make your way to New Orleans and establish your identity as a university professor, determine Enoch’s whereabouts by cozying up to his childers who have settled in the city, and then we will discuss extraction teams. Afterwards, you will remain in the city as a Librarian, to determine if a more thorough presence is needed.”

Gabriel was stunned into speechlessness by the faith his sire and the others were putting in him. The sheer magnitude of this assignment was frightening but Gabriel pushed such doubts from his mind. He was a former knight who had fought in the Crusades. Magnitude had been a daily companion and only confidence in his abilities had allowed him to achieve the near impossible.

“Tell me everything I need to know,” Gabriel said focusing on the task at hand.

“No need, you will find all the information is waiting for you in your section of The Vault. Now enjoy this drink with me and then we’ll go over your accommodations in your new home,” his sire invited and Gabriel did just that.

Gabriel drank his wine in silence. As his sire knew he would, Gabriel opened the part in his mind that was a pseudo-shared consciousness and retrieved the file that had been placed in his section. He perused it quickly getting an overview of the fact that Hector, Patroclus, and Achilles had settled in the city after Paris had done so earlier. It was unusual for all four of the ancients to be in the same area for an extended period of time because they had spent eons hiding from Enoch. This gathering meant that they felt safe from Enoch but the Librarians knew the corrupted Methuselah had most likely set it up for them to feel that way. This was a trap and for certain Enoch would be near to spring it when he was ready.

Gabriel blinked a few times as his mind returned to the room with his sire, and spoke with a frown, “Yes, I can see why we are so interested. However, if Enoch is aware of us tracking him then this could very well be a trap for us as well.”

“That was one of the contributing factors in your being picked for this assignment. You are not a well-known Librarian. Those who do know of your association think of you as a low ranking worker. Enoch would be expecting us to send someone better connected than you if he were looking for our involvement. By sending you as the forerunner for establishing a house, we are sending out the signal that we are merely following logical lines of expansion to our power base and nothing more,” Niketas explained with a proud smile for his astute protégé.

Retrieving a tablet computer from his secretary Niketas pulled his chair closer to show Gabriel his choices for homes in the Big Easy. “When we noticed the gathering of Ancients we commissioned several possible abodes for one of our Librarians to eventually take up residence in and keep an eye on the situation. Three are near enough to completion that minor work and whatever specifications the inhabiting Librarian required could be finished in a matter of a few weeks at most.”

Gabriel took the tablet from his sire and looked the choices over. There was an old plantation house near the edge of the city and a three story walk-up in the French Quarter. Both were beautiful but the moment he saw the third option, Gabriel fell in love with a century old bank in the Warehouse District. “This is the one,” he said to Niketas with boyish enthusiasm. “I hope the vault is intact it would be quite useful.”

“Indeed it is,” Niketas said. “Since digging underground is chancy at best in that waterlogged region, we thought that the safe would be an asset. In addition, there are some secret spaces that were found during the remodel which were left over from the prohibition era. You’ll find this home to be well-suited for your purpose. Look it over tonight and talk to the contractor in the morning with whatever additions you wish made. The Librarians will foot the bill. Also, select a secondary location just in case things go wrong. I’ve already sent the information to you via email, my childe.”

“So generous,” Gabriel commented as he handed over the tablet.

“Money is merely a tool and it can often ensure that a job is well-done. I would not see this assignment fail merely because you weren’t equipped properly, Gabriel. Now, you must begin preparing immediately. You are scheduled to depart in two weeks, earlier if possible. Due to the time constraints, I was only able to secure you a position at University at New Orleans. We have only a few connections at that institution but were lucky when one of the professors went out on medical leave. If you have any problems, I will work on securing a position at a university more favorable to our organization,” his sire said. “Though, I doubt there will be any problems, since you came with an endowment to set up a comprehensive lab for the archeology and anthropology departments.”

Two weeks! Gabriel wanted to exclaim. For a nearly immortal creature two weeks was an absurdly short period of time and in that span his entire life and purpose would be utterly changed. The once knight of the Crusades found himself filled with the excitement of it all. This was a challenge and in his heart Gabriel was a fighter who valued conquering such.

“Thank you sire. I will not fail you,” Gabriel said quickly leaning down to kiss Niketas on the cheek.

“I know that you will not, Gabriel. I have had faith in you from the moment I saw you beaten and torn lying in the floor of my house. Your proud noble heart refusing to give up as you mind worked to find a way to rescue my people. You will do what it takes and save as many innocents as you can,” Niketas said hugging Gabriel to him. “Sleep well Gabriel I will accompany you to the airport when you depart.”

Gabriel departed and the next two weeks went by in a rush to him and his thrall. They packed up his Parisian flat, had his cars shipped overseas, and oversaw the contractors of his new home via the wonders of the internet. By the time the day of his departure arrived, Gabriel was looking forward to the trip in hopes of getting a bit of rest. Thankfully his thrall had been efficient and capable in dealing with the chaos. Gabriel had sent the young man ahead with most of his things to get the new home ready before his master’s arrival.

As promised, Niketas rode with him to the airport. His sire chatted the entire time. Sometimes it was advice on how to handle the locals. Other times it was reminders to speak with the vampire prince of the city to make sure the proper authorities knew what was going on. An ounce of prevention was Niketas’ motto. Most problems could be avoided with proper planning, including upsetting the presiding prince by making him think you did not respect his dominion.

A chartered jet would take him across the ocean though he’d be in a special case for the ride to make sure he wasn’t accidentally exposed to the sun. Charlie, his thrall would be waiting to receive him on the other end, further ensuring Gabriel’s safety. The private car drove right up to the bird sitting on the tarmac. She looked sleek and fast and would get him across the pond in no time.

“Once again, sire, thank you for this and for believing in me. I will endeavor to make you proud,” Gabriel said as he waited for the driver to open the door for him.

“Oh, one more thing!” Niketas exclaimed as he produced a small jeweler’s box from his pocket. Opening it, he withdrew a wooden pendant on a leather thong.

“This is an ALD Kabbalah amulet of protection. Traditionally, such are made of silver but this one carved out of mistletoe. It will offer some protection against necromancy and warn you when dark magic is near you,” Niketas hung the simple charm about his childe’s neck. “Be safe, Gabriel.”

Gabriel found himself touched by this gesture. He had a great love for his sire and would miss Niketas terribly. However, it was time for him to stretch his wings and fly on his own.

“Thank you sire, I will return before you know it.”

“I will most likely come for a visit before then. I am unused to being away from you for any period of time,” Niketas said fondly drinking in his childe’s face.

Gabriel shook his head and smiled. “Paris,if not the entire country of France would fall apart in a day without you but I hope to see you soon, sire.”

The driver opened the door and Gabriel kissed his sire before climbing out. He strode off to his new life without looking back.

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