Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 8 - Installment: i

        There had been a time when they had called it the War Room, but it had proven too easy a term to use casually. The War Room masqueraded as the meeting room in the head office of Lancaster Holdings. Indeed it was genuinely used as the meeting room. Having it referred to as the War Room had somehow slipped into the day to day parlance of the company. It had been determined that the nickname was simply too close to the truth to acceptably be used in the innocent world at large. A firmly worded communiqué had gone out to the company as a whole announcing that henceforth the name “War Room” was to be retired in place of “Board Room.” The decree had initially been widely mocked until, after this third warning for defiantly using the term, one employee was fired. From that point, years ago now, no one had referred to the meeting room as the War Room. Even within the ranks of the Lazarus the space was referred to exclusively as the Board Room.

        There was no reason to place suspicion upon the Lazarus using the room with any regularity. The Lazarus Group was a registered subsidiary of Lancaster Holdings. There was no questioning that the Lancaster Board Room had the most technologically tricked-out of meeting rooms in North America. Why wouldn’t a subsidiary that shared office space with its umbrella organization take full advantage of their state of the art facilities? Of course anyone with clearance to use the Board Room for one of the Lazarus’ strategy sessions would know that the room’s most extreme capabilities had been installed primarily for the use of the Lazarus, not for Lancaster Holdings.

        “What do we know?” Marcel opened the briefing to his lieutenants.

        Seven department heads – several of whom were departments in and of themselves - Marcel and Henri as well as Sylvette’s team, minus Simon, were assembled.

        Pamela Guerin, the head of Intelligence, briefed the room on the details of the outbreak, covering what most of them already knew about the situation at the hospital, it’s lead-up and immediate fall out including the missing officer and child who were suspected to be infected.

        The Strategy and Tactics head nodded in tandem with Marcel before the man they looked to as Patriarch took over.

        “I expect I know the answer to this, but is there any precedent to the outbreak? Do we have any reason to connect this to anything we already know about Nosferatu?”

        “All connections are superficial. They appear to crave blood, just like Type I vampires.” The Lazarus’ dedicated expert on what they termed ‘victamortology,’ Abner Osborne spoke up as Marcel turned to him. “I don’t know if this actually falls into my area of expertise as there’s no reason to believe the victims are the living dead – merely mortally infected.”

        “Until we determine otherwise, let’s assume that the observed behaviour makes them our problem. And for lack of a better answer, they fall into your area of expertise.”

        “Type III?”

        “Type III. I’ll be expecting inter-departmental collaboration from Intelligence and Archives.” Marcel nodded to each in acknowledgement. “Any thoughts?” He kept his cool gaze on Allan Miller. The tired looking historian had clearly spent another night trying to put the genie of his knowledge back in the bottle by emptying one first. Not everyone took the reality of a world inhabited by vampires as well as others. Miller’s encyclopaedic mind more than made up for his inability to handle the truth, and every day he went further down the rabbit hole, morbidly fascinated by the truth that kept him up at night.

        “Well... obviously this dovetails with the myths of nosferatu passing the curse with nothing more than a bite, but no... I’m sure if I was aware of any pattern like this in the past you’d already know about it. But I’ll focus my studies.”

        “So that leaves us no where new.” Muttered Jake.

        “I’d recommend that we continue to monitor the situation, but with the civilian authorities already swarming all over this, our jurisdiction is cramped.”

        The Head of Clandestine Ops cut off the Strategy and Tactics Head, “We will find our place in this if indeed we have one.”

        “I’ll expect regular reports from all departments. Anything. New information, insight, hunches. As you get them. Knowing so little on this matter is currently our biggest liability.”

        The meeting broke down into smaller discussions as communication protocols and preliminary theorizing between department heads was established. Marcel acknowledged that the meeting-proper was over and the proceedings organically dissolved until the only remaining participants were Henri, Jake, Sylvette and Marcel.

        The unofficial portion of the meeting began with a long silence while the three subordinates waited for Marcel to collect his thoughts.

        “To my thinking we have three options. One; we release the Nosferatu as per his promise and desires. Two; we destroy him. Three; we keep him under lock and key indefinitely.”

        As he laid out the possibilities, Henri initiated a graphic display on the main screen of the Board Room, adding the options as Marcel enumerated them. He added a new axis as Marcel moved into the second aspect of his breakdown.

        “Whichever choice we pick should be determined based upon a cost/benefit analysis of the possibilities. Nikolai’s promise in essence is that he can be useful to us as a mole amongst the Nosferatu with the implication that he can turn the tide in our struggle. This may or may not be true. He could be lying, he could be deluded, or he could be both. Am I missing anything?”

        “That’s twelve possibilities. For each one there are best and worst case potentialities.” Offered Jake.

        “As well as a spectrum of more likely middle-range eventualities.” Henri contributed as he added a third axis to his graphic.

        “That is worth considering, but let’s not get mired in it. Our goal here is to determine our ‘best bet’ and then I’ll decide if I am comfortable with those odds. Break it down.”

        “As we have previously learned, the extended jail option merely postpones whichever of the first two options we inevitably choose.” Henri opened the discussion.

        Sylvette jumped in. “Agreed. If he is lying, deluded or both we are burning time and resources, if he actually can help us, we are undermining his capability to do so, perhaps even turning him back against us. Keeping him only weakens the potential benefits.”

        “Can you refute that Jake?”

        “The logic seems solid to me.”

        “Prolonged incarceration is off the table then.” Marcel decreed with authority.  “In the case that he is lying, deluded or both and we destroy the nosferatu there is no loss on our part.”

        The junior QB spoke up first. “I’m surprised you are even considering anything else.”

        “So Jake favours destruction.”

        “On the contrary.” He countered. “I find it unlike you to have any other possibility on the table.”

        “We’ve never been faced with an option like this. What is your take on letting him survive, Jake?”

        “If he is telling the truth and can deliver on his promise, well you pretty much said it…. We’ve never had an opportunity like this. We may never get another. This war has been on for much longer than any of us have been alive and in the time we’ve been fighting it, if anything, we’ve lost ground. If we had not been taking the side of humanity, where would we be? This could actually be an opportunity to take the upper hand.”

        “C’est vrai.” Henri agreed.

        “Very well.” Marcel pushed the conversation onwards. “And if we set him free? You’ve outlined the benefit. What if he isn’t an asset?”

        Jake continued, “Then we are no worse off than before.”

        Henri challenged. “If Nikolai is not on side and we let him go, then we are outed. He said it himself. Until now we have been little more than a rumour amongst their ranks. But now he knows for certain. I don’t think we can measure what effect showing our hand would have.”

        “Only if he is lying.” Sylvette. “If he is merely deluded, then he is still on-side. We can quickly determine if he is an effective mole, and if he doesn’t measure up, he can still be eliminated.”

        “That seems morally dubious.” Jake played devil’s advocate.

        “Morality does not play into it with the stakes we are playing.” Marcel asserted.

        “If he is lying he becomes vulnerable to us. His public persona is corrupted.” Sylvette again.

        “He is famous.” Henri. “He can’t hide, and yet with his cover compromised he must. It’s not an easily worked position.”

        A silence wedged its way into the debate as the four participants considered the implications.

        “This is an intriguing dimension.” Marcel broke the brief silence. “You are correct. I would rather see the nosferatu destroyed. Simple numerical assessment, there are more reasons to leave him in the daylight than release him into the night. The benefits do not measure up to the potential losses if you consider them balanced possibilities, but if Nikolai is the asset that he claims he could be the opportunity is unlike anything else we have ever faced. So it comes down to this; Is he telling the truth? Henri, old friend, you make a compelling argument.”

        Marcel paused in his summation, allowing all to consider the spectrum of the circumstance before he continued.

        “I figure a twenty four hour absence is not inexplicable. I will leave this until this evening. If any of you have a good argument to change my mind by then I want to hear them. If not, we will let him go overnight. If you can counter the logic currently on the table, then we won’t even wait for sunrise. We will stake and burn him immediately.”

        Only his daughter had the brazen courage to comment upon what was obvious to all. “You’ve never left a nosferatu free before.”

        Henri. “In the end you have always destroyed them all. ”

        “The only other one we’ve ever kept couldn’t promise us the destruction of more of her kind. Do not mistake this. I may not destroy this vampire, but only because we might destroy far more as a result.”
     Chapter 9

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Necropolis by Kennedy Goodkey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at necropolisnovels.blogspot.com.