Post by Constantin Albescu on Jun 4, 2015 20:52:40 GMT -5
“Take this up to the Voivode. You’ll be fine, just be the most polite you’ve ever been.”
Timotei stood outside the heavy, dark door, folder clutched in hands that he was trying to reassure himself were not damp. Most of the time, working in the old castle was pretty neat, even if it was cold and dark. He lived in the barracks just outside, which were regimented but reasonably well-supplied with comforts, he was paid well for his work, and he got the vague sensation of being part of a larger organization, a secret one that worked for the betterment of all humanity. Really, life was in pretty good shape for a young man from Cugir.
And then, he got sent up here. Why his boss couldn’t do it, or couldn’t even just email it to the Voivode, this was beyond him. Instead, Timotei had to do it, had to climb the stairs, walk past security, had to get eyeballed by one of the special guards, and now had to knock on this door, alone. And knocking on this door was one of the reasons why, sometimes, working in this place sucked.
Why was he so afraid? It’s not like people vanished, or were taken out back and made to dig their own graves or anything. He’d heard of a few people deciding to quit, or being fired, and they had been fine. But even so, they had heard the stories. They knew that the Voivode, and the Forţele, had killed people, had made them disappear. Even if that activity was directed outwards, and even if there was no evidence, there was a certain anxiety that naturally was derived from such actions.
He’d be fine. He’d be fine. He just needed to knock on the door. Knock. There might be a camera out here or something, maybe he’ll think he was here to kill him. No, just knock. Knock. Knock!
He knocked, two raps too close to be comfortable. The door felt immovable.
The voice was muffled by the door, but still intelligible. He froze, paralyzed for a moment, before taking hold of the door’s grip and pushing. It was heavy, true, but well-placed and well-oiled, and swung with surprising ease. He was grateful that it wasn’t a simple knob, but a handle, so that he was forced to grip it. Otherwise, it might have slipped from his hand.
The room on the other side was large, but not so large as he might have thought – it was inside an old castle, after all, not a custom-built mansion. There were full bookshelves lining the walls to his left and right, while the wall opposite the door was occupied by several windows. Pale, natural light streamed in, backlighting a figure that sat at a surprisingly small desk. Between him and the desk was a large table, currently clear, and several wooden chairs, everything resting on thick rugs. Overall, the room was . . . not quite as intimidating as he’d been afraid.
“You have something for me, Ionescu?”
His eyes widened slightly. The Voivode knew his name? What had he done? Why had he been sent up here?
“Mmmmyes, yes, sir.”
“Please bring it to me.” The backlit figure extended a hand. Timotei began moving, not quite against his will, approaching that desk. After all, he could hardly stand by the door, paralyzed, while the Voivode had his hand extended – he didn’t want the file eventually, he wanted it now. The rugs were soft under his shoes as he navigated the room, moving in as straight a path as possible to the Voivode.
The man’s face was hawkish, angular, almost gaunt, with his long, black hair tied at the back of his head and half-lidded eyes impaling Timotei with a dispassionate gaze. With one sure movement he took the file, placing it in the center of his desk and opening it with near-mechanical precision.
“Thank you. Please, summarize, while I look this over.” He spoke without looking up, giving none of the little tells that most people give when reading – his head didn’t move, nor did his lips, nor did his fingers trace or touch the paper.
“Yes, sir. We’ve been reexamining some older intelligence reports, looking for anything that may have been overlooked at the time. One thing in particular that we noticed was a particular member of the von Galen bloodline who established a family in Germany and then moved to Japan. Some years later, he died, as did his spouse – but there was no record of his son’s death.” His voice relaxed some as his speech continued, the Voivode’s attention distracted by the papers before him. Really, it was almost like speaking for the benefit of a recording.
“Upon further examination, we found that there was no record of the son’s death because he did not die. He was, in fact, taken in by another family member, and has continued to live in Japan for this time.”
“What is his current status?” the Voivode asked, moving through the file’s documents at an even pace, not looking up or giving any other indication he was paying attention.
“Ahh, we currently have only surface-level information, Voivode. We know that he is currently operating as a doctor in Tokyo. Further investigation will require resources that we do not control.” Private investigators, diplomatic inquiries, net-trawling specialists, who knew what those resources could be; regardless, their use was far beyond Timotei’s pay grade. He was just an analyst.
“A satisfactory summary, TImotei. Are there any indications that the von Galens have made contact with this person?”
“Not that we have noticed, but there would be little evidence if they had.” The Voivode looked up, and Timotei stood a bit straighter. Well, it was true, wasn’t it? Had he missed something?
“You are quite right. But sometimes sloppiness happens. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.”
Timotei tried to shrug and bow at the same time. “I’m happy to work as a part of your team, Voivode.”
“I’m sure you are, TImotei, but your supervisor indicated to me that your assessments were vital in making this connection. Well done. I am sure we will have more work for you in the future.” Timotei fought back the urge to stutter or stammer a response. Those eyes were still upon him. Instead, he just nodded. The Voivode smiled, a thin, flat thing.
“Please go now, and close the door behind you.”
- - -
Constantin had considered a number of different approaches with this man, this Walter. There was his place of work, although that ran the risk of interfering with his job, and it would never do to be seen as that sort of intruder. There was infiltrating his social circle via one of its links, and meeting him casually at a party; that seemed equally intrusive, but in the opposite sphere. The simplest route seemed to be catching him at home, although the man’s busy schedule made that more difficult than it would have been for a homebody. Still, it seemed the way to best approach him politely, to give him the home advantage so he would be comfortable. That would be important.
A week’s observation hadn’t turned up any known Quincies, Japanese or otherwise, in his sphere, so it seemed unlikely that he had been snatched up by any other house, but his reiatsu was strong; he could be an excellent addition to House Albescu. Constantin supposed it was somewhat rude to attempt to snatch him in this way, but it seemed fair; the von Galens had had his entire life to track him down, and the Japanese had had many years to detect and recruit him. He would make his pitch, and see if the man was interested.
With even, unhurried steps, he left his car and staff behind and approached the door into the condominium building. The late morning air was warm and becoming increasingly humid, but he paid it no mind; his suit, despite how dark its material was, was light enough to not be uncomfortable, and was tailored well enough to act in if things went south. If things went very south, his travel team was lingering in the area, headed by Octav Ruthvenski, and he could signal for retrieval. Still, with only a small amount of luck, this would be a simple, polite conversation, where he got what he wanted and the man received reasonable compensation.
He pressed the keys to call Walter’s condo; he could acquire the codes to get in, if need be, but he would try the polite approach first.