The thunder roared and lightning illuminated the sky as the wind howled, knocking the rain hard against the windows. Gabriel Van Helsing sat alone in his quarters in front of a fire, drinking a bottle of red wine. Violent storms caused him dread ever since his experience in Transylvania two years ago. He tried his hardest to not to think about it, but only on missions was when he could completely forget. In times of isolation everything came flooding back as though it had happened yesterday and haunted him. He took a large gulp of his wine and closed his eyes. Like always in times like this he wondered what Transylvania really held in the never ending quest to recover his memory. Since his time working for the Vatican he's only been able to recollect small shards of his past. Even then, none of the shards made sense and even thinking about them confused him. His first encounter with Dracula came into his mind. The vampire seemingly knew Gabriel in life and spoke to him with familiarity. His stomach twisted remembering the terrible smirk on his face as he revelled in his confusion.
We have such history – You and I, Gabriel.
Gabriel took a deep breath. He had offered him what he had been searching for, but was he telling him the truth? Or was it a ploy to distract him from his mission? How much could he have really known? What could he have told him?
Did I mention that it was you who murdered me? It must be suck a burden, such a curse; to be the Left Hand of God.
He thought about that again and again, but was never able to find the solution. What did he mean? What the hell did he mean?! Gabriel threw his wine bottle into the fire in frustration. He buried his in his hands. He thought about Anna, the beautiful gypsy princess he was ordered to protect. Instead, he killed her – No, not him; the monster he became when he turned into a werewolf. She risked her life to save him from the curse and without her he never would have destroyed Dracula or be restored to his own self. Even worse was he never got to thank her or to even see her be free from fighting and live in peace. He kissed her and saw hope for a future in her eyes. Tears ran down his face as he looked back to the day he took her cold body to the Black Sea and placed her on her funeral pyre. Her sprit touched him, and his final look at her was her smiling face as her family final entered the Kingdom of Heaven. He knew he did something good, but all he could feel when he thought about her was pain; even more so when he could hear her voice in his head. Telling him how the Transylvanians always saw a brighter side in death. Many times he wished he could feel the same way. He sometimes found himself longing for a way to have saved her.
But you can't change anything, no matter how much you wish you could, He thought to himself. He sat there for a while listlessly, and when he recovered he got up and stumbled wearily to his bed.
Early the next morning Gabriel awoke groggily to the sound of someone rapping incessantly on his chamber door. He moaned and slowly got up. He cursed whoever thought it was wise to disturb him when he was hung over. He opened the door to find the friar Carl; a brilliant man who designed all his equipment, and since Transylvania accompanied him on missions. He was the only person Gabriel considered his friend in the Vatican.
"What do you want?" Gabriel asked leaning against the door frame shielding his bloodshot eyes from the bright light of the sun.
Carl hesitated for a moment, regretting he had to be the one to have to retrieve him after one of his heavy nights. "I'm sorry to have to bother you, Van Helsing," He said quickly, "But the Cardinal needs you in the armoury as soon as possible."
"That will have to wait," Van Helsing replied, "I'm in no condition to deal with him."
Carl sighed, "As much as I understand, the Cardinal insists. He says it's urgent and will not wait."
"It always is isn't it?" Van Helsing snapped, slamming his fist on the wood frame, "Damn it!"
Carl just stood there, waiting for his initial annoyance die out. Gabriel took a deep breath and apologised, "…I'm sorry, Carl. I'll go and humour the man. What does he want from me this time?"
"I'm sure, honestly," Carl replied, "He didn't tell me."
Gabriel nodded then told the friar to wait. He closed the door and opened the trunk containing his clothes. He put on his customary field clothes which comprised of a wool shirt, a black vest, a pair of black trousers and a long black leather coat. He sat down on his bed and put on his books then went to a small shaving glass and combed his tangled shoulder length hair. He grabbed his wide brimmed hat hanging on his bedpost then stepped out to meet with Cardinal Jinette.
Gabriel and Carl walked into the armoury then parted ways. Cardinal Jinette was waiting for him in his typical rigid stance and stepped up to him.
"This better be important." Gabriel growled. He wasn't in the mood for the Cardinal, or for missions, or for anything else the man normally asks of him. His head hurt and all he wanted to do was go back to his darkened quarters and crawl into his bed and sleep his hangover off. This was the last thing he wanted.
"It is always important when I call upon you," Cardinal Jinette replied calmly, "Even if the timing is… inconvenient for you." He cocked a brow disapprovingly noting Gabriel's red rimmed eyes.
The Cardinal led Gabriel into a deeper and less congested part of the armoury, "There is someone I would like you to meet. I have been waiting for the right time to tell you we have been training a new agent over the past several months. I thought it would be of great interest to you."
Cardinal Jinette was right, it did interest him. The thought of another agent piqued his curiosity. Another person on the front line of the never ending battle against evil meant he wouldn't be the only one taking the brunt of the Vatican's abuse and places in need of him wouldn't have to wait if he was already on an assignment. Even better bigger more complicated missions would be less a chore with a partner trained to handle it; something Carl – though a useful companion – was not.
They approached a man sitting on a wooden bench whose eyes were studying the brick floor. He didn't seem to notice him or the Cardinal. At first glance he was similar to Gabriel in many ways and if one was not paying attention could be easily mistaken for him. He was dressed in similar field clothes and his hair was almost the same length and colour. They also shared a day's growth on their faces. Cardinal Jinette cleared his throat and the new agent looks up from the floor. Gabriel was struck how similar their facial features were was well. Their faces were similar in shape and structure and well as in the mouth. The only variation was the nose and eye colour. This new agent's eyes were a striking shade of blue, as opposed to Gabriel's hazel brown.
The new agent stood and bowed to Jinette, who then introduced him, "Van Helsing, this is our new agent. We hope he will be of assistance to you until you feel he is ready to work on his own."
"I hope the same," Gabriel said, and found it strange the Cardinal didn't mention this new agent's name, so he decided to ask it himself, "Though it would be much more beneficial if I knew your name."
The new agent didn't say anything for a moment; then looked to Cardinal Jinette who nodded. The new agent smirked nervously then answered, "My name is Raphael Van Helsing."
Suddenly the room went silent. Gabriel stared at the new agent for a long time. Was this some sort of joke? "You can't be serious." He muttered.
"I very much am." Raphael replied.
Gabriel laughed at this sick sense of humour. He looked at the agent angrily. "What kind of prank is this?" He shouted, looking at the Cardinal who said nothing but stepped back.
"I'm not joking with you, even though I understand how hard it is to believe," Raphael said calmly, approaching Gabriel, "I didn't believe it myself until I saw the wanted posters in Paris and found the Order."
He looked at Gabriel pleadingly, who was unable to say anything other than "Do you know me?"
"I do, yes." Raphael said, smirking again.
The man is serious, thought Gabriel. He had wondered many times if he had any family out there, but it was hard to process someone with the same surname and who clearly knew who he was just appear out of nowhere. It like a bizarre dream until he shook Raphael's outstretched hand.
"Are you both finished?" Cardinal Jinette asked after a few minutes observing the two, hoping this wasn't a huge mistake.
"For now." Gabriel answered.
"Good! Now please follow me." The Cardinal led the two men to the projector room. He clapped and the room darkened and the projection of a map of the South-western portion of Germany, "You are needed in Freiburg, a city within the Black Forest region. Over the past few months we have been getting reports of a demon known as a Lamia has been seducing, then killing young men and sometimes children."
"Lamia?" Raphael blurted out in surprise, "But those are only known inhabit Greece."
Gabriel looked at the second Van Helsing. Raphael was clearly disturbed, and it surprised him how familiar he was with the Lamia legend.
The Cardinal clapped again and the light came back on, "Gentlemen, you will be sent on this mission together. I think there is very much you could learn from one another."
They are dismissed and walk to the weapons portion of the armoury where the friar Carl was waiting for them. "Ah, yes! I see you have gotten your briefing! I have everything already to-" Carl stopped once he noticed Raphael, who he was unfamiliar with, "And who might this be?"
"This is Raphael, Carl," Gabriel said, deliberately mentioning his surname, "He is a new agent the Order created."
"Oh, well," Carl muttered, not amused, "I didn't know about that. I had I would have come up with duplicate weapons. Unfortunately, I had only created things for you, Van Helsing; I believe you are going to have to share."
Raphael looked over the weapons. They were typical devices used to combat demons and would make the mission harder than it needed to be. "You don't need all these," He said, "It will only complicate things and that's something we can't afford with something as dangerous as this."
"What do you suggest then" Carl said, clearly offended.
"The right way to kill a Lamia is actually quite easy. The difficult parts are getting close to one and surviving long enough to kill it." Raphael explained pulling out a large knife from his belt. He had acquired it during a visit to Athens, "First, you have to stab it through the heart with a silver knife blessed by a priest – which I have. Then you need decapitate it and covering the body in a mixture of rosemary and salt. After you do that, you need to burn it. It takes a man incapable of being seduced it to do the job without being devoured by it."
Gabriel knew Raphael had a point, but allowed Carl to bring his weapons anyway in an attempt to appease him. He didn't want to listen to the friar complain, though he knew he probably would anyway. He would call the new agent arrogant, a trait Carl had presented in Gabriel himself. Raphael sighed and didn't say a further word; even though he knew they were as good as useless.
The three men trotted their horses down the road leading to the German city of Freiburg. It would take them the entire night to get there by morning. They had been travelling all day and they all could use a rest. They decided to make camp in a clearing in the forest not too far from the road. Carl went to sleep almost immediately, but Gabriel and Raphael stayed awake, sitting by a small fire.
Gabriel watched Raphael for a long time. He had so many questions, but he wondered if they could all be answered. "So, what are you in relation to me?"
Raphael smiled, "Will you grow angry again?"
"Not this time," Gabriel replied, "Not much should surprise me at this point."
"You're the oldest," Raphael said, "But that's all I can tell you. I cannot reveal too much."
"Why's that?" Gabriel asked.
"This is your journey to make, Gabriel," Raphael replied, "I'm only here you help you along, you have to figure the rest out on your own."
And there it was; faith testing him one again. Gabriel was used to it, bit always felt when he took one step forward he ended up taking two steps back. For now it was enough. Maybe during this assignment fate would give him the chance to reveal more. He bid his brother good night and turned in to rest.
The next day they entered the city. Unlike in Transylvania no one here gave them any strange looks or attempted to swarm them in an angry mob. The inhabitants were used to strange people visiting their city. They found the inn and settled into their rooms until the evening when it was time to go on the hunt.
The dark streets were the trouble reportedly occurred were quiet and empty. The two Van Helsings sat in their positions for a few hours and began to wonder if anything would happen at all, but patience paid off after a while. A drunken young man barely out of his teens tripped out of a pub all alone and made his way passed them and up the street. Not too long after they spot an impossibly beautiful woman heading towards the man. They knew this had to be their assignment.
She passed the young man, but stopped and looked at him when he called to her. She smiled innocently and went near him without saying anything. They watched the woman take the man into her arms and kiss him. When she had him in her spell she pressed him against the wall and began to change from a beautiful girl to a serpent like creature with a female face. The Lamia did not hesitate and devoured the man quickly.
As if by impulse, Raphael ran at the Lamia. Gabriel tried to stop him, but he was too quick. He shouted her and tried to attack her, only to be hit in the chest by her powerful tail. The Lamia hissed at Raphael and was about to devour him as well, until she saw Gabriel rushing towards them and made her escape. Raphael recovered and staggered to his feet. Gabriel grabbed him and shook him.
"What was that?" He yelled, "What were you thinking?!"
"I thought I could catch her off guard." Raphael replied.
"You can't just run at the creature without thinking like that!" Gabriel continued, "That could have killed you! You never do that!"
"Why can't I?" Raphael shouted back, "I could have gotten her if you have given me the chance!"
"It was reckless! Where the hell in your training did you learn that?!"
"I didn't learn it from training I learned it from you!"
And that was the end of it, the two men were silent. They both knew full well the only way they could work together was with a plan. The two nodded and shook hands, then made their way back to the inn.
They sat and talked trying to come up with something the three of them. They all had different ideas and there and to be a way to compromise and who would act as a decoy to get the job done.
"I'll do it." Raphael volunteered. It would give him a chance to redeem himself.
"Are you sure that's wise?" Carl asked.
"I don't see any other solution, and I'm the one with the knife."
"What are you going to do?" Gabriel said.
"Remember when I told you the steps to kill it? We're going to go through those. I seek the Lamia out and since she'll be weary she'll most likely lead to where she is hiding. You follow with the salt rosemary mixture until I finish the job with the knife. We cover her with the mixture then set the place on here and run like hell out of there."
Gabriel wasn't sure about it. There were too many variables that could go wrong. Though, they wanted to get this done quickly and it didn't seem possible to do without a risk. He also didn't want to see the new agent die on his first assignment, especially before Gabriel figured out everything about him. Reluctantly, he had to agree.
The next evening Raphael wandered the street where the Lamia was last seen alone. He knew the other two men were waiting in the distance, but he couldn't calm his nerves. He pulled out a flask from his pocket and took a sip from it. He leaned against a post and waited, hoping the creature would take the bait. Like the last night, the Lamia finally appeared when he was about to give up. She passed him at first, like she did with her last victim.
"Hey you." Raphael called out to her. She stopped and looked at him. "A pretty thing like you shouldn't be walking alone at night," He went on, "Let me walk you home."
The Lamia smiled and nodded. She gestured for him to follow her. Raphael gave the signal and Gabriel and Carl followed as well. They follow her to the outskirts of the city to an old abandoned barn. He left the door open as he entered. They stood there for a moment then the Lamia beckoned to him. He obeyed and went into her arms. She kissed him with her cold lips then knocked him to the floor. The time was coming and he would have to be quick. He laid back and closes his eyes for a slip second, giving the Lamia time to change into her demon form.
Gabriel and Carl watched in fear. Had something gone wrong? What was Raphael doing? Time froze for Gabriel and a vague feeling came over him and images starting flashing into his mind. In a moment Raphael went from a stranger with answers to someone he knew. He remembered something! Something important!
"I remember him." He muttered.
Carl looked at him confused, "What?"
"I know who he is!" He said running towards the barn.
Raphael opened his eyes again just in the nick of time. Before the Lamia had time to tear into him he pulled out his silver knife and stabbed into her chest. The Lamia let out a high pitched scream and spit blood onto him. When she fell to the floor Raphael pulled the knife out of her chest then used it to remove her head. He looked up to see Gabriel and Carl running into the barn. He nods and helps them over the creature with the mixture.
Gabriel looked up at Raphael, "I remember you know," He said to him, "Raphael Van Helsing…My brother."
"Very good," Raphael said smirking, "I was hoping you would at some point."
The group stepped out of the barn and Raphael lit the match and threw it inside. Flame engulfed it in no time and the Lamia issue had been resolved. Raphael patted his brother on the back and they returned to the inn.
Carl sat in the Munich train station with his arms crossed, "Now, Van Helsing, you know the Cardinal will be furious when I tell him where you are."
"That's the point, Carl." Gabriel said, ushering friar to the train back to Rome. He had decided to send Carl back to the Vatican to announce the job had been done. He and Raphael will be spending a few days catching up before returning themselves. This wasn't the first time he did something like this, and the Cardinal never really bothered to punish him for it.
"Just don't forget everything we told you to tell him." Raphael added as Carl boarded the train, and waved goodbye to him. As soon as the train departed the two men made their way to a tavern.
They sat at the bar and laughed for who knows how long. It was one of the rare occasions for Gabriel that was happy and involved alcohol.
"So, how'd you find me?" Gabriel asked.
"I was visiting Paris and found one of the wanted posters," Raphael replied, "I was in England and decided to visit and see what was supposed to be special about it."
"Did you find it?" Gabriel laughed, he had never liked France…and France never liked him.
"Not really, no." Raphael said beginning to laugh himself, "A few of them thought I was you and it was very hard to convince them otherwise." The two men laughed and drank merrily.
"Will you be staying?" Gabriel said, "With the Order?"
"More than likely," Raphael said, "I have nowhere else to go. I've wandered aimlessly for years and that gets a bit boring after a while."
That pleased Gabriel. It was good to have another hand on assignments; a like-minded partner that would be on his side for once. He smiled; glad to no longer be the only one causing trouble and causing the Cardinal a migraine.