We took a break for lunch, Hammond brought in a tray of sandwiches, biscuits and a bottle of fruit juice. He and Friar Francis then left me alone with my thoughts while I ate. I heard the door lock after it had closed.
I chewed through the meal slowly, savouring the taste as I thought about what the Friar had told me. I’m not sure I believed what he had told me. It seemed more likely that Lazarus was a title that had been handed down through the ages. The history of the early church was fraught with rivalries. Perhaps Lazarus was the leader, or the inspiration for one of these early sects. They had been one of the many losers and had managed to sustain a grudge that had lasted throughout the centuries.
That did seem more logical, more acceptable. However it didn’t explain why they needed me to stop this person. Maybe this person was a Champion? That helped balance it a little, but even so, they still wouldn’t need me. I was still mortal and I assume the other Champions are the same, so a bullet to the head should finish the job.
It was also true that this was a big deal to the Friar and the organisation that he represented. Big enough that they needed me, a not-quite-convicted killer to do the job for them. They had people like Hammond working for them, they didn’t need me for just the killing part. They needed my specialist talent.
I washed the sandwiches and the biscuit I had eaten down with the apple juice. They must have been watching me, as barely a minute later the door opened. The Friar entered, followed by Hammond who quickly cleared the remnants of my lunch from the table. The Friar sat opposite me and after placing an ash tray on the table, lit a cigarette and once again offered the packet to me.
This time I refused with a simple shake of the head. I began the conversation with a question, “So, how does Lazarus intend to kick start the Apocalypse?”
“For the Apocalypse to begin there are many events that must take place, a sequence that signifies that both sides are ready and willing to begin the final battle. There are various prophecies that provide a guide for each side for the events that they need to make happen.”
He finished his cigarette and ground it out in the ash tray. He then continued. “It’s an all or nothing play from Lazarus. If he pulls it off then it’s the end of everything as we know it and he gets the confrontation with Jesus that he is seeking.”
This puzzles me. “I’m seeing a flaw in his plan. His last confrontation with Jesus didn’t go so well. Why would this time be any different for him?”
“He’s taking advantage of what we could probably call a loophole. Each side’s prophecies are meant to be completed by an individual representing them. Once the prophecies are complete the person who completed event will gain a specific power. If Lazarus completes all of the events himself then he will gain all of these powers. With these powers he may be a match for Jesus Christ himself”
Now that is really interesting.
“It does however present us with an opportunity.”
I lean forwards and ask “How so?”
“Some of these events have to occur in specific locations. And some of these locations are in remote areas that are easily monitored.”
“I doubt that Lazarus would show up to one of these places in person.” I interrupt him.
“A year ago that would be the case. Now with most of his network dead or in secret prisons all over the Middle East he has few resources to call on. And some of these events require actions that couldn’t be trusted with strangers or mercenaries.”
“That sounds interesting.”
I’ve not seen that odd little smile of his for a while.
“Let’s me be clear, I am not going to give you details of how to start the Apocalypse or for you to have a chance for yourself to gain these powers. We want you to do a job for us. It is an important job, but some secrets will not share with you. We haven’t forgotten who you are and what you have done. We will tell you what you need to know and we will be closely monitoring you every step of the way. Do you understand?”
I take the chastisement with good grace. “I understand, but this is a new world you’ve brought me into. I need to know what makes this guy tick if I’m to hunt him and hill him for you. I need to know how to find him.”
“We don’t need you to find him, as I said, there are places he, or someone close will need to go. We have all of these under surveillance. We will track him from there. The problem we have is taking him down when we do track him down.”
“Ok, so have you spotted him yet? Has there been any activity at any of these mysterious places?”
“Not yet” He replies.
“What about the other events that he needs to make happen? Do you know if he has achieved any of them yet?”
He pauses for a moment, I’m guessing he is deciding whether I need to know, which answers the question for me.
“Never mind” I tell him. “He obviously has. So, the real question now is how close is he to completing the events?”
Again a little pause before he says “We don’t really know.”
And then it strikes me. “The other side, you don’t know what they need to do?”
“Not everything. We do have some contact with them, for diplomatic purposes. The Vatican and the Order has some of their prophecies in our libraries. They’re not complete, so we don’t have a full understanding of what events their side need to do.”
“Ok then, if we assume that he has completed most, if not all of their prophecies, then how close is he? He’ll leave the difficult ones for last, knowing that with fixed locations they’ll be traps. He’ll plan for that.”
There’s a look that flickers across his face, confession time. I savour the moment of irony.
“He has already completed one of the tasks at one of these locations. He managed to kill the team we had watching the church in question. He completed the sacrifice he needed to make. If has completed the prophecies of Lucifer then he has five events left to complete. We have teams at each location.”
I didn’t bother to hide the smirk. “Are these teams better than the one that got wiped out?”
“We’ve reinforced the teams, but no-one on the teams are capable of taking Lazarus on their own. That’s why we need you.”
And so we get down to it.