Yup. Here we go again. Last week was chapter 1, and now we continue with your look at the new edition of chapter 2 for A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller.
You’ll note this one is a little shorter than usual. Sorry about that. But a little Sean goes a long way.
A Pious Mercenary
Even in Rome, there were not that many people conscious so early in the morning—just people awakened by the explosion, firemen, and a scattering of pedestrians.
One pedestrian was a jogger, moving along the street casually. His gray jogging suit didn’t stand out at all, and his build was unremarkable underneath all the cloth. Even his face was covered by the hood. He was short, only 5’6”. The only other detail the observant person could pinpoint would be the occasional flash of bright, electric blue eyes.
The jogger slowed as he approached the Vatican, looking over the scene of devastation. He gave a low whistle and pulled back his hood, revealing his pale skin and raven-black hair.
He gave a small, quirky smile. The scene was amusing for multiple reasons, the foremost among them was that a hotel had been wrecked, and he hadn’t been responsible for it. For once.
He murmured, in an almost unaccented voice, “Someone had fun.”
He scanned the crowd, more interested in the people around the crime scene than destruction itself. It wasn’t even all that impressive, as far as destruction went—the only thing really damaged was the hotel room window. And the car.
Well, if you don’t count the body. But body bags aren’t that expensive in Italy, are they?
One person slipped through the crowd. A figure in black, only a little taller than the jogger himself.
Well, if anyone is going to know what’s going on here…“Ahoy,” the jogger hailed, speaking only slightly above conversational volume.
Father Frank Williams heard and looked in his direction, smiling as he headed towards the jogger. “How are you, Sean?”
The jogger named Sean shrugged. “I’m doing well, though I’m wondering why you weren’t at our usual meeting. I waited twenty minutes before I started by myself. After a while, I feel ridiculous firing off all of those bullets solo.”
Father Frank nodded. “Understandable, considering your profession. What are you calling yourself this week, a prostitute?”
The jogger shook his head. “No, a mercenary. I’m not exactly a big operation like Black Lake, but I count.”
The man in black cocked his head. “Black Lake?”
Sean furrowed his brows. “It is Black Lake, isn’t it? Blackpool…? Blackthorn…?” he thought a moment, and then his bright eyes lit up and he snapped his fingers. “Blackwater! That’s the name. The mercenary company.”
The priest shrugged, and blatantly ignored that Blackwater had changed its name years ago. “Sounds better than ‘personal demolition unit’.”
Sean rolled his eyes, the electric-blue orbs looking like circular lightning. “Again, I’m not quite that bad. I’ve only killed a few… dozen … people? I think? I figure I manage to kill a few more, I win a set of steak knives.”
Father Frank was uncertain about whether or not he was joking. “In which case, I will let you get on with your day.” He turned away, then paused, and looked back to Sean. “By the way, I should probably mention, I may not be able to train with you for the next few days.”
Sean raised a brow. “Really? What’s up?”
Father Frank looked back towards the shattered car and the broken person. “Oh, just some business I’ll have to attend to, that’s all.”
Sean nodded. “Okay, then, I’ll see you around.”
The jogger watched the priest wander off, and then turned back to the devastation. He caught a whiff of something odd, and blinked. He looked up to the ruined window, studying the frame, and the faint, lingering cloud of smoke wafting away from it, like smoke at a fireworks display.
Someone used black powder on this? Wow, talk about bombs on the cheap. What did they do, dissect a box of firecrackers?
Sean shook his head. He was suddenly glad that he had left his bag full of guns at the studio; otherwise, he would probably be in even bigger trouble than usual.
He glanced down at the car, studying at the short woman Father Frank had been talking with. She wasn’t too bad-looking, even if she was a few inches short of being a dwarf—and not the kind with a beard and a battle axe. Her eyebrows hair was were a light brown, but her hair was overdone with gold highlights deliberately put in by some hairstylist who may have been holding a grudge.
Then again, what do I know? Sean thought. I’m from California, a silicon valley that has nothing to do with computer chips.
The short woman walked through the crowd with little difficulty as she followed the taller man in a dark suit. Sean quickly flipped up his hood again, hiding his features.
The last thing he wanted to do was get in the way of the head of Vatican security when he was in a bad mood—and having someone land on one’s car was more than sufficient to put anyone in a bad mood.
I wonder if I should make Gianni’s life easier, get involved.
Sean considered it, but only briefly. His resume was cluttered with inconvenient events—explosions, assaults, gunfights, and a body count that would have counted as mass murder if they weren’t all in self-defense—and offering assistance would pretty much ruin Figlia’s day.
After all, it was bad enough that the same person who had slaughtered dozens and had leveled millions of dollars in property damage was also, at that very moment, employed by the Pope.