“Dead, your Majesty. Dead, my lords and gentlemen. Dead, Right Reverends and Wrong Reverends of every order. Dead, men and women, born with Heavenly compassion in your hearts. And dying thus around us every day.”
February 5th, 2007
It had been six years since Lauren had been Embraced by Vincent Moon and inducted into the mystery cult, and she had learned a great deal about them over the years.
There were three masters, the 'Residents' of the Golden Room. They were known to the rank-and-file as the Sun, the Demon, and the Spider. They were vampires, powerful and influential, with over a millennia of experience between the three of them. Lauren, by virtue of her unique position, was acquainted with two of them.
Vincent Moon was the Sun, around whom all revolved, the illuminating mind that had given birth to the Golden Room. The choice of his cult-name had been a fraught one, for the Sun is never a friend to vampires. The Demon was the one that Lauren did not know, though there had been hints she would be introduced in the near future, a brutal killer and enforcer for the mystery cult. And then there was the Spider, Sophie Penrose, who built her intricate webs of silk and poison, and wrapped it all together with a pretty bow.
Tonight, quite casually, Lauren was introduced to another one of the Golden Room's secrets, that of the half-mystical haven where they dwelled, the infamous Golden Room itself.
One Canada Square.
It was a skyscraper. An office building, really, a center of finance here at Canary Wharf. It was filled with real estate agents and insurance companies. There were few places that were more mundane in London. In a city filled with ancient castles, centuries-old palaces, and roads dating from Roman days, One Canada Square was the last place to look for the headquarters of a mystical cult. Except... it was dark. And it was tall, and it stretched out to the sky. The air felt thin. Perhaps due to the wind, perhaps due to another reason. It was capped with a pyramid, an Eye of Providence that looked down on all of London. It was a latter-day demon's tower, a Bad Place built of steel and glass.
Somewhere in the center of the building, there was an elevator shaft, one which the mortal herd did not know about. It led directly into the London Underground, accessible by secret tunnels and guarded by two stone gargoyles, a passel of security cameras, and -- if Sophie's off-hand comment was to be believed -- claymore mines with infra-red sensors. The Golden Room took security seriously.
Despite that, Lauren had entered the elevator unmolested, because she was in the company of one of the Residents. Sophie Penrose was an attractive, elegant woman, blond-haired and reserved, presently dressed in a sharp business suit of some soft, white material. There were two bodyguards as well, a slender, red-haired man and a big, Afro-Caribbean man with a buzzcut, both dressed in grey suits that concealed a plethora of metallic nastiness.
Sophie had been speaking on the phone since picking up Lauren outside her apartment in a chauffeured, pure-white, Italian sports car, discussing something that sounded like it involved chemical formulas, stock prices, and FDA approval for sale in the United States. Finally, with a cold grimace, Sophie closed the phone (small, ultra-powerful, and silver-plated), and looked at Lauren.
"My apologies for that." Sophie said. She looked Lauren over, a dissecting gaze, from head to toe. "Yes, I think you'll have to do."