Libraries Can’t Help With Everything
“Take one more step near my car, and I swear I will shove a knife down your throat,” I threatened menacingly. The man who had been inching towards my car stopped, and grinned at me.
“You know Bella, sometimes being loose, relaxed, calm…it can help out a bit,” he said, chuckling. He stepped away from my car though, and went back to his position next to his best friend, Morgan Alber, who was also my boss, in some senses.
Morgan chuckled also. “I think Meka’s right Bella. It’s good to be alert sometimes, but other times it’s better to be relaxed and more flexible.”
I raised my eyes at him. “Commander, I think you’re just saying that because you want to drive my car too.” His face froze in mid-laughter, and he tried to shake his head. “I know you’re lying,” I smirked.
He shook his head. “You’re way too observant for your own good you know. You only just graduated from your last class!” he exclaimed, running a hand quickly through his jet black hair.
I raised my eyes. “And isn’t that the only reason you’re alive right now? And the reason I work for Zeta right now, as the youngest agent it’s ever had?”
Morgan gave me a warning glance, warning me to not to say anything more. I knew he was being careful, since no one was supposed to know about the existence of our organization.
Zeta was a top secret group of scientists and army soldiers who worked for the American government. All of us had to take a fast track major to help discover and collect things that were too dangerous to be in the hands of other countries or groups, and beneficial to America. Or to counterattack terrorists with too much information. Often, we would be searching for lost artifacts that would be very valuable on the black market.
I specialized in computer technology, things like hacking and programming at a fast pace. I also had a interest in general history, to better understand the cultures of the places I visited and to help search for things that might come up on cases. I'd read so much, that I'd become a walking encyclopedia. And as a private joke to myself, I dabbled a little bit in explosive engineering. Who knew when I might need to make something catch on fire quickly? With my personal past, it was a good thing to know in case I came into contact with someone who personally wanted to kill me.
I also had gained a weapon license and was extremely skilled with a knife. Though it hurt me to have to hurt other people, I was past the hesitation now. What my job entitles wasn’t an afraid girl cowering in the corner; I had to be the one fighting to save the girl in the corner.
“Well, I think we should get going,” Meka said grudgingly, stepping toward my car. I shot him a glance. “Here, you know what? I’ll just go in the back seat so you don’t throw a hissy fit at me.”
I rolled my eyes. “You know what? The only thing in this world that is really mine and not paid for by someone else is that car. Show some decency towards it.”
Morgan chuckled deeply, the sound echoing in his wide chest. “I would listen to her Meka. You saw what she did to Jen when she scratched her car.” Both men looked at me warily at the memory.
I smiled wickedly. “It wasn't that bad. Just hotwiring her car a little so the horn would go off whenever she pressed the gas pedal. Easy enough to fix," I said nonchalantly, shrugging.
“It was to her,” Meka whispered, shaking his head gently. Jen was his fiancée, having proposed right after a short mission in Brazil about three months ago.
That had been one of the easier missions I had been on. Especially while we were in Rio. I had been distracted the entire time, feeling like I was in the wrong place, looking for the wrong things. It had been horrible while we were searching the Ghetto for a black market thief working for someone in the richer class of the country. I had felt the need suddenly to go down a few streets, to a small inn. I had almost been shot in the head from my distraction. Lesson learned there. One that should have been fairly obvious.
No distractions. No past. Only focus on the now.
I wasn’t the same girl I had been a year ago.
No, I had grown up a great deal. When I used to shy away from any arguments, I now took them up easily, in an attempt to forego the violence. I didn’t get ill from blood anymore, since I had been around it enough. But I still felt an extreme guilt for every death and show of violence I participated in.
“Well,” Morgan said as he stepped around my car. “Let’s head out. We need to try and find any history or reports of whatever has been going on in Europe. I agree with the director. It is worrying.”
I nodded, and stepped into my car, quickly putting it into drive. Both men flew forward slightly before managing to put on their seatbelts. Laughing quietly to myself, I pulled out of the parking lot of my apartment complex and Independence Avenue, a straight path to the Library of Congress.
“You know, we risk our lives enough when we’re in the field. Maybe we should try to be a little more careful when we’re at home,” Meka said uneasily as he shifted uncomfortably in his seat.
I looked back at him from the rearview mirror before glancing at Morgan. “What’s up with him?” I asked nodding back to Meka.
Morgan shook his head. “You know how he can get a little car sick. He just doesn’t like your driving much because it’s a little reckless,” he sighed.
I raised my eyes. “You have no idea what reckless driving is,” I muttered under my breath before a twinge of pain rippled the frail edges of the hole in my chest. My face didn’t show the brief pain, though. I had gotten used to hiding my true emotions and feelings.
“Hey, I just remembered…” Meka suddenly spoke up, most likely in an attempt to hide the world flashing by us at an extremely fast speed. No tourists were out right now, since it was well past sundown. Only the homeless and those with late job shifts wandered the streets right now. And the occasional agent of one of the multiple organizations that had headquarters in this city.
“Just remembered what?” I asked him carefully, praying it wasn’t what I thought it was. The leaves were just beginning to change color, and I dreaded the upcoming date.
“Your birthday is in a two days, right? What were you planning to do for it?” Meka asked, leaning forward and bracing himself between the two front seats.
I raised my eyes at him and gave a mock smile. “Oh, you do care! I’m shocked!” I teased. He scowled at me and I became serious. “I wasn’t planning on doing anything actually. The gala is the night before, and then we’re going to be on a plane to Munich the next morning, I thought, to follow up on whatever’s happening out there. There’s no time to do anything.” And I, myself, really wasn’t up for celebrating the horrible event.
“I thought people your age were supposed to be happy about turning nineteen. You can finally drink legally in Canada!” Meka protested and I chuckled at him.
“Like that really matters to me at this point? The only difference between now and when I turn twenty-one will be that my ID actually gives out the right age. I'm not really going to get to act my age much anyways.” I snorted. No one had wanted people to think the government was training kid’s fresh out of high school to be government agents. Though my story was slightly different than that.
“Here we are,” Morgan said as I pulled into the parking lot of the large library. He pulled a black card out of his pocket, and Meka and I did similar. They were our IDs, which granted us passage and immunity throughout the world. It was pretty nice to have when you got pulled over. No one could give me a ticket now, especially when I was working. Police in the area had learned to ignore the calls of a speeding black Mustang with a red stripe down the middle. My baby.
"Who or what do you think could be causing all the thefts and break-ins in Europe right now?" Meka asked in a hushed voice as we were accepted into the large library. No one answered him as we went to the side, to the utility hallway. We stepped into the third door on the right, slipping in our IDs to the key lock. Morgan put his thumb to the discreet fingerprint scanner disguised as an office sign. The door opened to a room lined with books, and a large desk in the middle made of Plexiglas, with several computers and room for books and charts on it. The walls were black, and the lighting mostly came from the bulbs illuminating the bookcases. None of us bothered to turn on the light; we wouldn't be here long, and didn't need to attract more attention than necessary.
I answered him as we stepped in. "I think I might have an idea, but I want to look into it further first before seriously considering it," I said, walking over to a shelf built into the wall, grabbing a very detailed book on different cults and sects in the old Catholic church in Italy. "Do either of you have any ideas?"
Meka shook his head, looking at the thick book I was holding with suspicion. Morgan though, had also grabbed a book, one on and old Nazi group thought to still be in existence. I frowned at his choice, and he noticed. "Hey, I can have my own theories too, right?" he asked with a shrug. "Anyway, a lot of old Nazi groups have been known for stealing things that they had originally taken during the Second World War. A few of the books that have been taken have been traced back to old Nazi store houses. And some of the old technology," he said with a significant look, raising his eyes at the thick volume I held.
"Just because it says cults and sects of the Roman Catholic church doesn't mean that they can't be interested in science too." Then an idea came to me. "Though our ideas may be mixed. The particular group I'm interested in may have had members with roots to Hitler's regime." I frowned, opening the book and quickly leafing through it for the cult I was worried about.
"That could be true," Meka said, leaning back against the wall. His Hawaiian tan seemed more prominent in the darkness of the room, making him blend in with the shadows. "A lot of groups sided with the Nazi's, trying to get on their good side so that when they took over the world, they would be able to force their ideals onto more people more efficiently."
I nodded absently, sucking in a breath and letting it out as I found the section I wanted. "Here we are. The Guardians of the Shadow. A very, very old society dating all the way back to the time of the Knights Templar. Maybe even before, though no record says for sure. They belonged to the Vatican, apparently part of the group that hunted witches and burned them at the stake. Their job was to hunt down all of "The devils creatures" and send them back to hell. They had to hunt witches, werewolves, poltergeists, fairies and..." I swallowed once. "Vampires, mainly. They became too...fanatical and extreme though, in the late fifteen hundreds and were ordered by the papacy to disband and stop their work. They did stop for a period, but never stopped their search for true mythical beings," I finished, looking up at the bewildered faces of my two teammates.
"You think a group of old witch hunters could be behind all the thefts?" Meka said, his eyes wide. Morgan just stared at me, clearly worried for my mental stability. I could almost see him wondering in his head if I had finally lost it, if going through what I did finally made me snap.
I smiled smugly at them. "One of the stolen pieces was the original Dracula by Bram Stoker," I said. "And some artifacts were silver bullets, old wooden stake found in an old Nazi leaders home, and..." I looked down, "a very, very old key that has long since been believed to lead to an arcane source of wisdom of power, created by a group of immortals. Whoever has it can supposedly create these immortals and unleash their power upon the world."
Meka still looked at me like I was crazy, but Morgan now was nodding at me. "That actually makes sense. And a lot of the things you mentioned seem to have to do with vampires, which fits the criteria of the Guardians of the Shadows. And the Nazi connections..." he trailed off, obviously thinking. Then he nodded and smiled at me. "Good work, kid," he complimented. I shook my head at the nickname almost everyone at the office had for me. It got annoying.
Meka shook his head. "I can't believe we're going to be chasing a group of psychos who think vampires are real," he muttered, and I fought back a flinch. Then he sighed. "Okay, I guess we have our target. You gonna bring that book with you?" he asked.
I nodded. "There's a lot more on this group in here that might be useful to us," I said. He nodded and took it from me, quickly scanning its barcode under the red laser in the corner of the room. He handed it back to me, giving me a careful look. I rolled my eyes. "I know, I know. This book is super old. Don't do anything that could damage it and lose the info it that might be needed for other missions. I get it."
Morgan laughed. "Meka, she's been with us for almost a year now. She gets the drill by now." I nodded. "And we should get going. Bella has to study for her next test." Now I scowled.
I already had one fast track degree: one in computer sciences—basically I was a hacker. But I was going for my second right now, in explosive technology. I would be the youngest one in the department with a double degree, but I was also the only one who hadn't served in the special services, having been recruited green. I wanted to make up for it by being even more helpful.
"Okay boys, let's go," I said with a sigh, leading the way out of the room that really didn't "exist."