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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4


Written by Theoreon Marceaux
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 3

It was an immaculately decorated corporate office in Venice, Italy, overlooking the canals. William was seated next to someone he didn't recognize in front of a large oak office desk that was covered in papers and folders. The man in the large leather chair behind the desk was on the phone and had his back turned to them as he gazed out the floor to ceiling window overlooking the Campiello di San Belisario. As William sat there waiting he ran a hand over his shaved head and straightened his tie. He wore round gold-rimmed wire framed spectacles that lent anyone who wore them a dignified appearance. He happened to glance over at the young man sitting next to him. Dressed in a flawless black Giorgio Armani suit and Cartier sunglasses sat Remy LeBeau, poker faced with his wavy brown hair well oiled and pulled into a neat queue at the nape of his neck. His face was handsome and his manner arrogant. William caught the slightest whiff of Hugo Boss cologne gently emanating from his general direction. He guessed that this kid couldn't be more than 19 or 20 years old, although William himself was only 26 at the time, but he considered himself a complete professional at his admittedly young age.

"Uh huh. Uh huh. Si, Signore, si. Gratsi. Ciao." The chair swiveled around with a squeak and the man hung up the phone. "Sorry to keep you boys waiting, but that was urgent business. I'm glad you both made it." The accent was British, the voice somewhat nasal. Percival Braithwaite was an English importer/exporter out of Wales and a part time fence that dealt in all object d'art, but was a particular connoisseur of fine sculpture. Braithwaite had known William for years, having been his first regular fence after William got into the game. He was about 58 years old, clean-shaven and balding, the remnants of his white hair retreating to the areas about his ears.

"What's with all the secrecy Percival, and who's the kid?" William had asked incredulously, his formal British accent more pronounced due to frustration. Remy slowly turned his head toward William, eyebrow raised.

"Please, William, where are your manners, old boy? Trust me, we're all of us professionals here, which is why I'm going to cut to the quick. This man is Remy LeBeau known to those in the know as the Gambit. You've probably heard of him. He hails from my connections in New Orleans, in the States."

"So you're the Gambit." William said looking Remy up and down. "I've heard the name. I'm not impressed." William said dryly.

Percival cleared his throat uncomfortably then turned to Remy. "And this is William Nigel Berthridge, known to the world at large as the Rook."

"Saw some of your work in Copenhagen a few years back. You forgot dat last 'E' syllable in y'code name, hein?" Remy said.

As the two men exchanged glares, Percival took a manila envelope out of a drawer in his desk and started to shuffle through its contents. "There is a reason why I called the 2 of you here specifically. You see…" before he could finish Gambit stood up, straightening his cuffs.

"Come now, Monsieur. You fin' a job difficult enough dat it warrant you contact Gambit. Den you insult Gambit by invitin' a third wheel on de pinch. I ain't got time for games, Braithwaite."

"Excuse me?" William demanded, annoyed and offended.

"Look here, homme," Gambit said turning towards William, all cordialness drained from his face, "If dis job is important enough dat he gotta call me, den he don't need nobody else along. Gambit work alone and Gambit don't do milk runs, comprendez-vous?"

"Why you arrogant little..." William stood up but Percival jumped in.

"Gentlemen! I strongly suggest you calm yourselves and take your seats!" He looked at Gambit and frowned. "Mr. LeBeau, I am aware of your usual solitary working conditions and am quite cognisant of your prowess as well. And I assure you; this is no 'milk run,' as it were. If this is done correctly gentlemen, this could be it. The last big job. We are talking a lifetime payout here, and I won't have your god-forsaken egos botching this opportunity of a lifetime!"

Percival was shaking and turning red. He took his seat and reached into the largest lower drawer of his desk, produced a bottle of Brandy and a small glass and proceeded to pour himself a drink. William had never seen Percival like this and was quite shocked, as was Gambit, who had used him as a fence on and off for a few years now and normally saw him as the epitome of poise, class and control, now reduced to shouting like a commoner in the street. Remy and William took their seats.

"Bloody hell," Percival muttered, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "This god-sodden job will be the death of me. The stakes are so high, the payoff so big..."

"Enough wit' de suspense. What's de job, Braithwaite?"

Percival picked up the manila envelope on his desk and reached inside, producing several black and white photos of 2 men in several different locations. William cleared his throat and began.

"Two days ago I received a call from one Jacob Gavin Senior... I trust you two know the Courier?" They both nodded.

"Well, it turns out he happened to be in Volta Redonda, Brasil two days ago and he caught word from a certain Father Martin Alvito about an oldreligious organisation that currently is based within said country whose members now rank among some of the most powerful influential people in all of Latin America and the Caribbean. Much like the Hellfire Club of England and the States, but these people lean more towards religion based endevours." Percival threw the photos on the desk. "These two men, Aduardo Montalba De Sur and Dom Pedro Calban, are Portuguese nationals currently residing in Brasil and heading up the society which is called the "Seventh House".

"Cute." William said.

"Quite." Percival replied. "The basic premise of this centuries old cult has changed since being embraced by the rich and bored. Nowadays they believe they are the 'chosen,' the crème de la crème, the foam on the top of society and this gives them the right to do pretty much whatever they damn well please. The religious part is a mixture. Basic Catholicism, but with a rather fascinating mixture of West African and Incan Indian beliefs and rituals. These three cultures met probably around the early 1600's in Brasil when Incan Indians fleeing Peru went east and settled on land that became Brasil. As well as the Catholic Portuguese and Spanish settlers who stole the land and introduced the religion also bringing slaves from West Africa. At any rate, they have connections with many other cults and black churches worldwide."

Gambit interrupted. "Y'can't have rich Latin American religious fanatics an' not have drugs somewhere in de picture."

"An astute observation Mr. LeBeau. Yes, the majority of the riches these people wield comes from the cocaine cash crop, and while they are Brasilian, they own coca farms all over South America, most notably in Ecuador and Colombia. As a matter of fact, cocaine plays an important role in their worship, its ingestion is supposed to aid in freeing the mind from worldly thoughts."

William laughed. "Nothing like the 'good word' on a good high, eh?"

"Rather." Percival reached into the manila envelope and produced another set of photos, this time of an ornately decorated crucifix and several rosaries of gold and silver. He tossed them on the desk, and Remy and William picked them up and looked them over. Then Percival continued."Now for your history lesson. You see, back in 1928, two priests from the Vatican went down into a small Brasilian village called Santa Yanga, where they were investigating rumours of visions of the Virgin Mary at a small church. When they got to the church they didn't see any visions, but when they were leaving one of the priests happened to stumble upon a building in the woods of that area. It was a church of sorts and inside was magnificently preserved Portuguese and Spanish Conquistador armour, crucifixes and candelabras as well as many native idols made of gold and silver. These items must have been easily over 400 years old. Against the wishes of the people of the church, these relics were taken back to Italy and placed in various places within the Vatican museums and palazzos. It is

said that the value of these items are inestimable, as they are supposed to have been taken from the 1st Catholic church established in Brasil which, incidentally, was raided in the 1550's by an anti-Portuguese group of natives who would go on to become the Seventh House."

"Inestimable, huh," William said rubbing his chin. "I'd wager I could find a buyer." He said.

"Easily." Remy agreed.

"Don't be so sure." Percival warned. "At any rate, the question of ownership comes into play here because the Seventh House has tried numerous times since 1928 to petition the church to return all the items that their forefathers stole, arguing that it was and is absolutely necessary to their religion as objects of devotion, and that the building they took them from wasn't a Catholic church and they had no right to take the relics in the first place."

"Yah, I could jus' picture Le Grand Abbe handin' over priceless relics to a group of money hoardin' heathen crack addicts." He said wryly.

"Catholic arrogance is well documented throughout history. They probably considered the Seventh House as nothing more than ignorant heretics. " William added.

"The meat of the matter lads, is this: Seventh House is comprised of the devout and ridiculously wealthy. They are tired of waiting and asking, and they want their relics back now. There is an immensely important holy day that is coming up very soon for them, and they say these items are absolutely necessary for the rituals of this day, and with that, the salvation of their souls. They will have their objects back. Vatican approval or no Vatican approval." William's eyebrows went up.

"Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, wait just one bloody minute here! Percival! Are you asking us to do what I think you're asking us to do?"

The smile Percival gave was warm and proud. "Now you see why I need two of you." While William was mentally reeling from what had been proposed, Gambit was all business. "What's de take-home?"

It was then that William had 1st noted that Gambit was really a pro. Young, sure. Arrogant? Definitely. But business was business to him. A job was a job. Percival took out 2 small pieces of paper and wrote the same numbers on both, then slid them to Gambit and William, and folded his hands under his chin.

"You weren't lying about this being the payoff of a lifetime. All this geetus for a few trinkets." William shook his head.

Gambit thought for a second then said, "Dese people believe dese things are integral to their salvation. Tell me, mon ami, how much would you pay for your soul?"

Percival looked down and cleared his throat. "Well, there is one more thing..."

Both Gambit and William immediately looked up at Percival, knowing that in this business the 'one last thing' was always what made the pinch worth the price. "You see, within the Seventh House cult are self-styled mystics. This holy day of theirs coming up will be 'the big one' the Catholic equivalent of Christ returning, full of ritual and ceremony. One document is necessary for their main ceremony. The scrolls of the Nag Hammadi."

William interrupted. "Come again?"

"De Dead Sea scrolls." Gambit explained.

"Ah, so you're familiar with them. And as fortune would have it, they'll be at the Vatican for a short while next month for reviewing by... Oh, what was his name...Bah, some high priest or another… At any rate, this is the stuff of dreams, lads, can you imagine it?" Percival said excitedly.

"Lemme get dis straight," Remy started "You wan' Gambit to break into one of de most heavily guarded institutions on dis planet, sneak into a holy musee` d'art, steal some priceless trinkets for a cult of whacked out Brazilian drug lords, den sneak into de Vatican library an' steal de Dead Sea Scrolls demselves? All dis for enough money to bribe St. Pierre at de pearly gates?"

Percival rubbed his chin, looking at the ceiling. "Mmmm, yes, that's about the size of it, yes."

"When do I start?"

Percival smiled and turned to William. "What about you, lad?"

"You know what I've always said, Percy. Pay a man enough, and he'll walk barefoot into hell."

"Too right, old man." Percival clapped his hands and laughed. "It's settled then! I'll have all the information you'll need in the morning, blueprints, photos, equipment, and gear. There is much to review, so I suggest you boys get a good nights' rest and be here at 8 o'clock sharp in the morning."

As William and Remy stood up to leave, Percival's voice became somber. "You know, both of you, I only called on you because you two are the best there is. No one else alive could pull this off. Hands down, you two are the best."

William cast a resentful glare at Remy while still addressing Percival.

"Some of us, old friend, are better than others."

Remy smirked "Not on y'best day frere, not even in y'dreams."


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