Viper II - Mother of the Dragon Queen, Part 12

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Gently leading Mother Daniella after the priest towards the back door and the gardens I wondered if the Assassini were watching the back, too. If they were I would have to either bet on them still having no idea about what was going on and talk to her and then lead her back to her lodgings or kill those, that would see us. If they were not watching the back my best bet would be to make her disappear, so that she could give us all information she had. Then I would group my little force and raid the Vatican this night. In that case I would desperately need to talk to Carlo and Emberto.

If we did abduct the Cardinals and leave a trace to the compound chances were, that they would try to attack there in force, which actually might give us a possibility to wipe all of them out in one go, if Grandfather, Viper, Franco and the main body of the Polizia Militare stayed inside and Liu, Alphonso, his men, the four young dragons and I lurked hidden in the surroundings waiting for them. But as all plans go that was assuming ideal conditions. Nevertheless the chance was, that it would be a lot easier than killing them in Rome and the Vatican city. Once we’d have them eliminated I could take the Cardinals back to Rome, together with Angelica and Mother Daniella and present the pontifex maximus with our evidence, then free whatever victims we’d find. All really was hinging on what Daniella knew.

All that was floating around in my mind as we stepped outside. Alphonso had my bag open so that he could get at the gun with the silencer, but I would have to let Mother Daniella go, if I needed to fight myself. She definitively sensed my pre fight tensing of the body. I was like a coiled spring.
“What is it you expect to happen, signorina?” she asked as the priest was still in earshot.
“I hope to be able to transfer a bit more of my strength to
you, Reverend Mother.” I replied with a smile that didn’t come easy, as the priest turned and closed the door. “Are the assassini watching the back, too?”
“I don’t think so, Xiăolóng, but once father Joseph comes out and I don’t they’ll surely come looking for me.”
“Instantly, Reverend Mother?”
“I don’t honestly know, I have never tried this.” she replied with a smile “There never was an angel to guide me up to now.”
“If I needed to have Alphonso carry you, would that be fine with you? Two or four assassini would not live longer that two minutes in my presence.”
“Are you going to strike them with lightning?” she asked surprised.
Alphonso chuckled.
“Lightning speed, more like, Reverend Mother “she’ll probably break their necks to make it look like it was her mother, or we better say the ghost of Viper.”

Since so far I could neither see not feel any of the assassini I had noticed I led Daniella and Alphonso out into the Vatican gardens behind the first trees that came into sight. Out of sight now I started moving away from the chapel and the more crowded public spaces toward the Western perimeter. That was when I started hearing and sensing them. There were six now. Did they now know about Alphonso and me? Did it matter? They would certainly not associate a delicate young woman with danger, would they? I would have to kill them, but then the cat would be out of the bag, unless there was a way to actually make the corpses vanish.
“We could hide them in the catacombs, Xiăolóng.” Mother Daniella said.
Was she reading my mind? She actually gave a weak laugh.
“I am old, young lady, and possibly a little frail, but my mind still works fine. I can almost hear what you are thinking in my own mind.”
I could not help a grin.
“Sorry, I will not underestimate you again, Reverend Mother.”

She took the cross she was wearing in her hand and evidently started praying silently, as her lips moved without a sound. Just then three figures appeared further down in the gardens and I heard the assassini starting to run in that direction. They would have to pass right in front of where we’d been hiding. I looked at Mother Daniella and she smiled.

The six men were too intent on finding her to even see that there were three nuns, not a young couple and a nun. The moment they rushed past us Alphonso had the gun out and shot the first two in the back of the head as I got rid of my shoes and sprang out behind the two in the back and had their necks broken even before the two middle ones turned to look where the shots had come from. I jumped with my right foot straight forward at the from my point left hand one, crushing breastbone and ribs and driving the splinters into his chest and apparently his heart, as he simply collapsed dead. The last one had managed to get the poisoned knife out, so as I dropped with my victim I grabbed his arm and with the momentum of my speed twisted his arm and hand to push the knife deeply into his thigh. Before his cry of terror could get out I broke his neck. Quickly Alphonso and I pulled them as well as was possible into the bushes, that were our former cover.

Mother Daniella was stunned to say the least. She looked at me open mouthed and wide eyed. She sighed.
“So what exactly, Xiăolóng, are the dragons?”
“My dragons, Reverend Mother, are, like myself, the followers of an ancient Chinese spiritual teaching. Angelica and I found out, that our source of strength, even though we contact it and use the strength differently, is the same source. I call it the Dragon of the fire of life, she calls it God.”
“Who is that Angelica you keep talking about?”
“A mother superior, Reverend Mother, who once was a novice under your care. She told me about you, when I taught her how to contact the Dragon.”

Her memory seemed to come back instantly.
“Sister Angelica!” she whispered “She came visiting and I never had the strength to really talk to her.”
“You always were more like a mother to her than an abbess, Mother Daniella. That is why she told me about you and your predicament. To me she is like an older sister. You will meet her again later. Right now we have to hide these six corpses and then we need to get you out of here unseen.”
She was still a bit stunned, I could see that, but we were not really in a hurry now, as I did not see any of the Assassini carry any means of communication and there had been no shouting whatsoever.
“Where, to your knowledge, Reverend Mother, is the closest access to the catacombs?”
“The official one will be no use to you, Xiăolóng, as there will be visitors still. There is a secret access behind the sacristy of Sant Stephano. It is hardly visible, but we’ll have to be careful as you’ll have to cross the lane between the gardens and the shrubs behind the church.”
She thought for a moment.
“Actually there is one a little further, close to the Fontana della Conchiglia, but there is a lot more cover to get there. We need to go around the far end of the palace of the governors.”

Peeking out from our bushes I found that looking feasible. I decided to leave the two with the broken necks as deeply in the bushes as we could, so that if we could not come back for them at least they were the most mysterious deaths with a clear association to the known method of Viper. Then I asked mother Daniella if she trusted me to infuse her with some energy. She smiled.
“Nothing you can do now will surprise me, Xiăolóng. What do I need to do?”
I smiled and gently removed her wimple, then put my fingers on four points on her head and sent her energy and knowledge about the stealth of a dragon.
“Lead the way, Reverend Mother.”
She straightened her back, put back her wimple and gave a quiet laugh.
“So that was how Jesus worked his miracles?” she asked.
I grinned.
“If he had contact with some ancient Chinese, who knows?”
Alphonso and I grabbed two of the remaining corpses by the necks of their black robes each and started dragging them after Mother Daniella along the line of bushes towards the fountain. There was nobody in sight.

Behind the actual fountain there was some kind of crumbling structure among the trees and that was where she led us. I saw a solid wooden door in a derelict looking arch and found Mother Daniella leading us there. Again I was missing my Dì yī qíshì, this time for his skill with a lock pick. Being impatient I simply kicked the door hard enough to break it close of the lock and it swung open towards the inside. A dark and dank stairwell led down into darkness. We dropped the four corpses down the stairs and then Alphonso went back for the other two while I stood with mother Daniella near the fountain, pretending to admire it. Mother Daniella took my hand and smiled.
“It is good to feel the warmth of a human being touching you, my child, as watching you one has to doubt whether you actually are.” she whispered.

I gently stroked her cheek.
“I am very much human, Reverend Mother, and I like you very much. You are just as highly spiritual as Angelica.”
Just then Da Silva returned with the other two Assassini and we stripped them of their gloves and poisoned daggers.
“Why do you take their daggers, Xiăolóng?”
“They are poisoned with a with a very nasty poison, Mother
Daniella. One scratch with the blade and the victim dies in incredible pain over more than half a day, screaming for mercy.”
She shuddered.
“How do you know?”
“I used the dagger on the ones that came to kill all the poor victims of Don Michele and his men. I had the Cardinal who forced you into his service watch until he broke and told us about the assassini threatening your family. I had smelled the poison and Grandfather actually knew about it.”
“Grandfather? Whose grandfather?”
“Mine, Grand Master Wang Dà Lóng, he who made me the Dragon Queen, Lóng Nǚwáng.”
“How many of you are there?”
“Here? Grandfather, my sister Mei Ling, Master Hong, Master Liu, my Dì yī qíshì, that means first knight, Měilì de Yàmǎxùn, she is my first Amazon, four young dragons who trained with me under Wang Dà Lóng, Alphonso and four men of his unit of the Polizia Militare, my Mother, the Viper, and the Mother of my first Amazon and finally my elder sister Angelica, she’s not a fighter, though and neither are Master Hong or my sister Mei Ling, they are healers.”
“That is like a small army.” she sighed “And all of you came here for me?” she asked incredulously.
“Not quite, Reverend Mother,”I replied “we came here to end the corruption that has permeated the Vatican. Viper has been fighting it already in the war. There were quite a few who violated sanctuary and their vows to help the Nazis, you know.”

She shook her head.
“I never imagined that one day I would be glad to get out of here.” she sighed “But my experiences here showed me the corruption and I was forced to take part in some of it. I know where they keep the poor children they use for their pleasure. Had it not been for the vision, that told me of the day of reckoning coming I would have despaired. And now you are here and it has begun.”

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