Exhaustion swept over Van Helsing in waves as he entered his chambers, causing him to sway wearily on the spot. He and Carl had just gotten back from the hell that had been Erabez, and Cardinal Jinette had already given the monster hunter another assignment for the next day. Well, Van Helsing thought, his weary mind recalling Melannen, her charm, her beauty, her inhuman grace, maybe it wasn't a total hell.

He'd hardly shut the door when a small knock came. Confused, the archangel opened the door to find none other than Carl standing in the hallway.

"The Cardinal wants to see you," the friar said, annoyance plain in his voice. Van Helsing sighed wearily.

"What does he want now?" the archangel asked as he walked down the hall with Carl.

"I don't know," his companion replied, "But he only wants to see you. I can't go in."

Van Helsing knocked on the door to the briefing room and entered at the Cardinal's command, leaving Carl in the hallway outside.

Jinette spoke before Van Helsing could form a single question.

"Your assignment for tomorrow is being changed," he said shortly, "There is a new menace that must be dealt with."

"What do you mean?" Gabriel asked, his exhaustion-clouded mind trying to make sense of the Cardinal's last statement, "What, or who, is causing this?"

"It is a vampire," Jinette replied, "In the morning you will need to go to the heart of Spain, to Madrid. Your hunt will begin there."

Van Helsing nodded and began to leave the room, but the Cardinal's voice stopped him.

"Also," he said, adding onto his last statement, "Carl will accompany you."

'Is this because you think I'll need backup," the monster hunter asked innocently, "or is it because you've gotten used to the lack of explosions around here?"

He left Jinette still pondering these last words.

Van Helsing sighed as he re-entered his chambers and closed the door behind himself. Why a vampire, after what he'd just gone through with Maximus? And why so soon, when he had not slept in God knew how long? Now, sleep deprivation began to take its full toll on Gabriel, causing his legs to weaken and his vision to swim.

Black waves of exhaustion broke over the archangel, and the effort to keep his eyes open suddenly became tremendous. Not even bothering to change, he collapsed fully clothed onto the bed. The instant his heat touched the pillow, his eyes closed and his body relaxed, sending Gabriel into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Outside the light of the Vatican, a dark figure crouched level with Van Helsing's window. Remembering what the man had done to his brother, fury consumed the creature, and he longed to attack the man now, while he slept. As he continued to watch the sleeping angel's face, a plan formed in the figure's mind, and inspiration came. He could get twice the revenge this way!

With his wicked plan in mind, Maximus Dracula took off into the night.

Author's Note: He's baaaaaack!