Dr. Paine knocked on the door to Beau’s flat with loud, repeated raps.
With an expert touch, Nellie pushed on the door in several places. “Barred from the inside,” she said. “Picking the lock won’t help.”
Dr. Paine banged on the door louder. “Beau, we know you’re in there, answer the door,” he called out.
“Go away!” Beau said. “It’s the middle of the night.”
“The Germans have captured Seth,” Dr. Paine said. “He’s in Prague. The Chief has a plane ready to fly us there at once to rescue him.”
“I’m sure they just want to ask him a few questions,” Beau responded.
Dr. Paine and Nellie looked at each other in confusion. Nellie pressed her ear to the keyhole.
“He’s with her,” Nellie said, emphasizing the way she said her. Dr. Paine knew who Nellie meant.
“Seth has saved your life more than once,” Dr. Paine said pointedly.
“A fact I’m very, very, very appreciative of at the moment,” Beau replied.
“He might be tortured,” Dr. Paine said in exasperation.
“Seth’s undergone torture before,” Beau said breathlessly.
“He was caught stealing a book called ‘Mysteries of the Vampires,’ or something like that,” Nellie shouted through the door.
Nellie and Dr. Paine heard loud whispered protestations from Beau then Lucith’s voice from the other side of the door, “Beau, we must rescue Seth at once. He is your dear friend.”
Dr. Paine could hear Beau’s sigh through the door.
“Very well,” Beau called to the door. A moment later the door opened and Beau stood aside as he finished pulling up his suspenders and threw on a shirt. Lucith and another female vampire stood next to each other.
“Hello, Doctor, Nellie,” Lucith said in greeting. “This is Sofia.”
Sofia, stopped brushing her short, brunette hair long enough to smile at them, her pointed fangs white against her scarlet lips. Beau slid on a jacket, grabbed the kit he kept ready in his hall closet, threw on his hat and held the door for the others.
“Nellie, don’t look so reproachful,” Beau said as she passed him without speaking. “Where was Seth captured again?”
“Prague,” Dr. Paine said.
“That’s a strange coincidence,” Beau said. “Sofia is from Prague.”
Beau introduced them to the dark-haired vampire.
“It appears our fates are tied together once again,” Lucith said to Nellie. “Sofia came to alert me that the Germans have a secret operation to find and capture vampires for diabolical experimentation.”
Doe-eyed Sofia nodded. Beau was surprised by how easily Sofia could look so innocent. Not for the first time he thought that the greatest danger posed by vampires was by how they could look human and fool people with their masks.
“Sofia and Lucith were departing for Prague in the morning,” Beau said in explanation.
“You’re welcome to work with us,” Dr. Paine told the vampires. “The Chief and two others from the British Library are coming as well.”
“Librarians?” Beau asked.
“Department of Acquisitions for the Special Collection,” Dr. Paine answered.
“Oh well that’s different,” Beau said.
“Arthur is going with you?” Lucith asked.
“Yes,” Dr. Paine said as they walked to his car. “The political situation in Prague is rather delicate at the moment and he thought he better supervise this operation personally. Since the events in Cairo, he doesn’t trust us with the delicate work.”
“You should have forbid his coming,” Lucith said worriedly. “He is too old for this.”
“He’s the Chief,” Dr. Paine said. “We’re just employees.”
“I won’t stand for it,” Lucith said.
Dr. Paine knew that the living Lucy Westenra had been engaged to marry Lord Godalming, the Chief of their organization that fought against supernatural and eldritch horrors. The Chief had built the organization in response to Lucy’s death and transformation into a vampire. The relationship between the two was long and deep and complex, the Doctor knew.
The drive to the airport did not take long. Beau sat in the back with Lucith and Sofia.
“What was your friend doing in Prague?” Sofia asked Beau in her accented English.
“Seth is part of a British Library staff that specializes in acquisition of books and relics that could contain dangerous knowledge,” Beau said.
“What kind of books?” Sofia asked.
“Like the Necronomicon,” Lucith answered.
Sofia nodded. “I have heard of it,” she said.
“The Germans have expressed interest in acquiring such knowledge so the British Museum works to find the books first so they can be locked safely away in a vault,” Lucith said.
“Not destroyed?” Sofia asked. Beau liked the way certain letters rolled off her tongue.
“No, they might hold important rituals or clues that can be useful in the future,” Beau said.
“Why would the Germans want to capture vampires?” Sofia asked Lucith. “How would their government even know of us?”
“It is difficult to say,” Lucith said.
Beau looked at her pointedly, but Lucith did not meet his eyes. Beau knew from Lucith’s history how the Germans would have known. During the Great War, Lucy had slain more than 1,000 Germans in the trenches of France after she had found her husband’s corpse. He had enlisted in the British Army in 1914 and in 1915 he was killed while visiting a friend at an artillery observer outpost. A few Germans who found the corpses, particularly those from the rural regions, must have suspected what had killed the soldiers.
“An army of their own vampires, ruthless, highly effective killers, would seem ideal to the German high command for their upcoming world war,” Beau said.
“Their upcoming world war?” Sofia asked. “Surely it will not come to that again?”
Nellie turned in her seat and looked pointedly at Beau.
“You might be right,” Beau said quietly.
Now it was his turn to look away to avoid Dr. Paine’s gaze in the rear view mirror.
Lucith noticed the silent exchange between the three, but did not speak because she knew she too held her own secrets for a reason. But she did find it curious. In the bond formed by drinking the blood of mortals, she gained many of their memories. But in drinking the blood of Nellie and Beau, she knew there were some memories that were walled up from her. Why did Nellie and Dr. Paine look at Beau as they did when he mentioned the “upcoming world war?” Certainly many suspected the Germans intended another world war and would not be stopped with their recent actions. But they had looked at him as if he had almost revealed a secret.