The first sign was a slight tapping. Barely audible, but in the quiet of the council room, the tense silence sitting thick, all eleven men looked toward the door. It was so slight. Almost imagined. They knew it wasn't.
The door flew open in a hail of splinters, kicked with perfect force directly above the doorknob, shattering the fragile locking mechanism. There had never been much of a chance, really. Not against the Church.
The eleven councilmen stood up almost simultaneously, hands suddenly gripping their armrests or the edge of the table with unnecessary force. Their eyes turned to the door before darting back to the equally terrified eyes of their cohorts. Escape? The unanimously crestfallen eyes told the same story: this was the end of the line.
At least a half a dozen armed policemen stood in the doorway, firearms raised in the councilmen's direction. They moved without especial precision, lacking grace in their bulky uniforms, thuggish. Not the most formidable force, not the most highly skilled, or trained, but it didn't matter. The policemen parted, four entering the room and flanking the sides, as a new figure emerged from the dark corridor.
A collective shiver stole across the men at the table. Although the subterranean council room was cold, they had a different reason altogether to show such fear. Brother Silus stepped through the door.
He did not carry a gun. Unlike the policemen at his sides, he had no need for one. He surveyed the room briefly, eyeing the eleven men at the table with barely a glance, taking in the dim room, the lack of windows or other escape routes. The men stood motionless, paralyzed with something like awe for this calm man in black, uncertain how to react in this strange situation. Finally, one spoke up.
He took a clumsy step forward. "Brother. We are peaceful men. We mean—"
Silus stopped him mid-sentence. There was little emotion in the glance he gave to the white-haired man, apparently their leader. "This council has been determined heretical. Its members are to be arrested for questioning." He signaled to the police, who were quick to move in, guns raised.
The councilmen's leader was crushed. He looked helplessly from the policemen to the Brother, mouth slightly open, as if he was only moments away from his next protest, the one that would surely convince the authorities that the council would not dream of heresy.
"We are sanctioned by the Brotherhood! This council has been in existence for two decades, we are no heretics! You have no right to do this!"
The police laid hands on the members, heavy handcuffs ready, and any skill they might have lacked in formation organization was made up for with skill in pain compliance techniques. Several of them attached themselves to the leader, still agape. Silus watched with calm calculation.
The police were outnumbered almost two to one. Favorable odds, certainly not the worst he had come against. These councilmen were not fighters. Dangerous, yes, he had determined that, but not violent. Their danger came from their ideas, a far more potent source. They would not resist, but he observed the arrests nonetheless. It was part of his job.
Silus watched the police snap the shackles onto the leader, three more moving down the line, silver flashing occasionally. Two guards watched the group from the outskirts, guns raised, while the last guarded the door. It was proving to be a smooth operation, a welcome end to a long month of observation.
Halfway down the line one of the councilmen broke. The tension, near panic, exploded. Not waiting in line to be arrested, interrogated, sentenced, he broke free, dashing madly for the door. Foolish. Even if he made it past the guards, he would not make it past the Brother.
Silus put an end to his vault for freedom with a quick flash of his arm. He seized the runaway's wrist and gave it an expert snap—and the councilman, middle-aged and portly, crumbled to the floor howling. Silus held the wrist delicately between his thumb and forefinger as he looked down at the sobbing man.
"You can't do this. You can't."
"This is the Holy Office. You know we can," he said softly.
A policeman pulled the council member away, neatly slapping a cuff on his broken wrist amid more cries of pain. Silus stood quite still as the police finished their work and began to lead the prisoners out.
"By order of the Holy Office you are arrested on suspicion of heresy. You are under charge of the Church and will be required to provide proof of your innocence. Failure to do so will be considered an admission of guilt. This council and its members are under investigation and will be tried under the Holy Office for crimes against the State and Church. Under Ordinance 712 of the Parliamentary Committee of the Brotherhood, heresy will be charged as a capital offense."
He said the last words to an empty room. The councilmen, once men of great standing, now prisoners, struggled softly in the corridor beyond. His words resonated off the walls, and only he was there to hear them.
A/N: A little look at Silus' ordinary work. In my timeline of events, Silus began work in the Department of Technologia (as seen in A Death in the Family) before working his way up to the Holy Office, where we find him in the movie. This one owes its religious politics to Malachi Martin's Windswept House. Let me know if there is still interest in this world. I have ideas for this guy.