Chapter 6

Somewhere in downtown Strasbourg, April 15, 9:00 p.m.

Wrapped in his newly stolen cloak, Azrael leaned restlessly against the hard wall. He had been at his observation post since sundown, carefully following every movement in his surroundings. The European Parliament rose in front of him smoothly and with elegant sweep. It had to consist almost entirely of glass; Azrael had never seen so many even surfaces at once before. How did they manage to keep everything in its designated place and not to collapse the building like a house of cards? It looked very strange to him, it somehow didn't fit into the peaceful surroundings.

An uncomfortable tingling sensation ran down his back. Nervously drumming his fingers on his thigh, his gaze wandered on. Only the river separated him from his closest victims. But so far he had hardly been able to find anything useful. He had yet to learn to act like humans again. But he didn't have time for it. And to be honest, he didn't want to either. He was tired of hiding. So tired ... Again an oppressive feeling rose from the heart of his chest, like so many times this evening.

Maybe he should ... No ... should he? Should he show people that they weren't as alone as they'd always thought? He shifted restlessly from one foot to the other and tried to tame his impatience. But he couldn't go on. He wouldn't find out anything more here. He had to get closer, much closer. With a harsh noise he let out the breath he had been holding unconsciously. Okay, go ahead.

With centuries of practice he searched his surroundings. Nobody was on the move, only a flock of crows sat in the branches of a slender tree some distance away. With a few powerful flaps of his wings, he overcame gravity and swung himself into the air. Now it sailed silently the short distance across the river and came up on the opposite side with a soft crunch.

He carefully draped his clothes so that no one noticed his wings. He could pull them tight, but the holes in the fabric weren't so easy to hide. What would he give for the material from his homeland. It had flowed like a liquid, creating perfect openings for the wings. But it doesn't matter. He had to focus on the present.

Scurrying from shadow to shadow, he circled the building, looking for a way to get inside. Hmm The doors were all locked and something in him strongly advised him not to gain entry anyway. He furrowed his forehead and his gaze wandered up the smooth facade. Maybe he could get on there? Azrael took a few steps back and studied the side of the building in front of him.

No, it wouldn't get up there easily, it was all too smooth. Why did they have to make it harder than necessary for him? Frustrated, he strolled away and pretended to be a lonely stroller. At that very moment two people appeared - security guards as he closed after a brief inspection - and walked past him. They nodded to each other in greeting. Shaken by his own lack of concentration, he made a face as if he had bitten into something sour.

He hadn't thought of that, not for a minute had it occurred to him that logically people could be assigned to guard. Hell, he was out of practice, it wouldn't have happened to him in his day. How could he have forgotten that politically important buildings were being guarded? Was he even making a mistake now? Was he ready to hunt down those who did this to him? What was he doing here? That was madness.

Restlessly he lowered his head and walked slowly on. It had to happen today, he was running out of time. The longer he was in one place, the more likely she would find him. A shiver ran over him. Even if he hardly wanted to admit it to himself: the woman scared him. Her obsession with him was unusually intense. Nothing good ever grew out of it.

He broke his hopping thoughts when he was far enough away. Now he could try again. His gaze crossed the silent night around him. He stood in a small square right on the bank of the river. A bench was placed romantically under a weeping willow and afforded a wonderful view of the moonlit water. It all seemed so calm, so peaceful. It's a shame he couldn't stay. But his release had priority.

Sighing, he spread his huge wings and rose into the air, groaning softly. Skillfully and instinctively, using the warm upward winds, he climbed up and down until the city lay tiny below him. There, there was this so-called "European Parliament". What was it all about? Was Europe now a single state? Azrael shook her head, frowning. No, this could not be. But then again ... he had once thought that humans would never be able to fly. But they did. Nothing was safe anymore in this new world.

He turned gently to the right and sailed in great circles over the sleeping city. Like in old times. Annoyed, he shook his head, so that his pale braid hit him hard in the face. What was wrong with him today? Otherwise he wasn't that sentimental either. He pressed his lips together resolutely and pushed every thought aside. It was time. And plunged straight down into the depths.

The icy wind whipped his face and he suddenly felt as alive again as he had not for a long time. He pressed his wings firmly to his body to get faster. The air seemed more nourishing and all of his senses sharpened. Power flowed like fire through every tiny vein of his body. Every single cell worked at full speed. That's just what the hunt felt like.

Just before it hit the roof of the building, it spread its huge wings and braked hard. With groaning, heavy beats of his wings, he held himself in the air and sat down with some navigation almost silently. Breathing heavily, he tried to keep his balance as the glass was very smooth. He looked around carefully. There had to be a way to enter the building somewhere. The floor he was standing on seemed somehow ... light. And that at night?

Irritated, he crouched down and carefully touched the cool surface. Glass. The building was made of glass. Of course, how could he have missed that? As if he'd been burned, Azrael shrugged and hunched his shoulders uncomfortably. For him this material might be as transparent as a rock wall, but of course not for humans! Did you see him land? Was there anyone else there? There was a light on, but ... With a pounding heart he stared at the building at his feet and tried to make a decision. Should he…?

"Oh fuck it", it escaped his pressed lips and he moved carefully on the smooth surface.

Even now she was controlling him. He couldn't let himself be influenced. He had to be himself. Whoever he was. Looking for something, he found an irregularity in the glass wall. Was it a window? He looked indecisively at this mysterious thing at his feet, but it refused to reveal its secret. Then a coincidence opened the door for him, which would shape all of his subsequent decisions.

The brightness below him disappeared and the eternal hum that pervaded the entire building complex suddenly fell silent. What...? But he immediately recognized the preciousness of this possibility and therefore did not hesitate a blink of an eye. With all his concentrated strength he kicked the "window" (or whatever).

A dull crunch penetrated the perfect silence of the night. Cracks ran through the glass at his feet. Again he stepped on the window and there was a noticeable hollow. With clenched teeth he drew the cool night air into his lungs and convulsively ignored the throbbing pain in his foot as he reached out to strike again.

With a burst, the window gave way and he elegantly jumped down through the narrow opening. He landed on the carpeted floor without making a sound and immediately took cover behind a massive shelf. With his special sense he carefully searched the surroundings.

He was in a large room in the middle of a maze of shelves. But he didn't feel any people. At least there was nobody in this room. Like a scrap of darkness, he made his way through the mountains of files and folders. The people and their obsession with order. Another thing he would never understand. Chaos had so much more to offer.

In the far distance he could feel people rushing excitedly to and fro. There was sure to be what he was looking for. He crept attentively and peeked around the corner. Several masked people with flashlights rummaged through the elegant office, apparently frantically looking for something. Without paying attention to discretion, they simply threw everything on the ground, creating lakes of paper. A woman with a large weapon positioned herself right in front of him and apparently secured everything, also on the opposite door. Azrael frowned in confusion. To be honest, he hadn't expected that.

"It's not here," one of the figures growled indignantly and looked up.

“But it has to be here. Keep looking! ”His neighbor snapped at him.

"The Jönsson is definitely not that stupid to store it anywhere here, let alone leave a copy!" Contradicted the first.

"Shut up at last and hurry up! Our time is running out soon ", the leader looked at the watch on his wrist," Only three minutes left! Then the cops are here! Go Go go!"

What were they looking for? Actually, he didn't need to worry. All he needed was the human woman named Jönsson. Was she here somewhere? Just at the moment when he was about to withdraw, one of the people said:

"There is no other way, we have to question them." Reluctantly, the leader nodded and waved three of his people over:

“You have to buy us time. No matter how. Understand? ”The three of them just nodded curtly and disappeared through the door at the other end of the office.

"Well. You and you "he pointed with his gloved hand at two people," you come with me. "

The group turned to Azrael and he quickly merged into the darkness again. Barely a meter away from him they passed him without noticing anything. You could almost feel sorry for them. As their shadow, he followed them at a distance. They would take him to his prey. One of the people turned around restlessly. He was the only one who seemed to feel his presence. How remarkable.

"Someone is following us," he whispered to his companions, trying in vain to remain silent. But Azrael's keen ears caught every syllable.

“Then find him or stop spinning! And the time is running out! ”He was hissed down.

Head bowed, the figure seemed to wonder for a moment whether it should really do this, but apparently decided against it and did not hurry to lose touch. Fortunately for Azrael.

They crossed the labyrinth of shelves and came to an anteroom with a large door, in front of which an armed giant stood guard. The leader nodded to him and he released the door, which immediately closed again behind the group. Hm, crap. He had to go into the room and hear what was happening there. So he moved perfectly camouflaged in the shadows behind the mountain of muscles. He stabbed him precisely in the neck with the dagger he had just made and severed the spinal cord. Even before the person could fall over or even scream, Azrael made a minimalist twisting motion in both directions and the carotid artery and the windpipe were severed.

The man sagged dead and fell back on Azrael. A little surprised by its weight, his knees buckled and he was half buried in the crowd. Damn it! It wasn't planned that way! With some effort he managed to wriggle out from under the body and roughly dragged it into the next dark corner.

"You can wait here," he mocked quietly and turned his attention back to what he had come to this snake pit for in the first place.

A soft babble of voices reached him through the door, but he couldn't quite understand it. Sullenly he pressed his full lips together and looked around. Was there another way in? He crept smoothly through the dim darkness. But he did not find anything. He only came across impenetrable walls no matter where he looked. Then it had to be, even if he hated it a little. It was so terribly primitive. But what had to be, had to be. He took a few steps back and started running.

The door shattered under his targeted kick and he landed elegantly in a crouch in front of four puzzled pairs of eyes. Slowly he straightened up and looked at his counterpart with cold, red eyes. He already knew the three men, but he discovered the slim body of a bound woman between them, who stared at him with terrified eyes. And he saw recognition in her gaze. As she noticed in his too.

Seconds of tense silence passed before people even responded. They would have been lost if he had wanted it that way. But somehow he didn't feel like such a senseless and unfair fight. Where was the fun then? At least he wanted to have that in his probably only very limited free time on this planet. A dark-clad man came up to him, gun drawn. He kept looking at his leader questioningly. But he just stared at the intruder.

"I just want to question her," Azrael broke through the cloak of silence that had fallen over her, arms raised, "Then you can have her back." Or what would be left of her.

"Is that supposed to be a bad joke?", Growled the man who threatened him and loaded his weapon with a crash. Azrael gave him a long look:


Again it became so quiet that you could hear the pounding of hearts in the room. Nobody dared to take the first step.

“You can give it to me voluntarily or I will take it from me. I don't care, ”said Azrael with a threatening undertone, which made people stand on the back of their necks and sensed the danger they were in, and took a step towards them.

The woman gave a low whimper. She knew more than exactly what to expect. What a smart girl.

"Stop, not a step further," hissed the gunman, pressing the cold metal of the barrel against his neck.

Azrael saw him intact in his narrowed eyes. What he saw was uncertainty. And fear. Lots of fear. Good Excellent. The way it should be, the way he loved it. His eyes met the leader's.

“I'm not making my offer again. Give it to me, ”he broke the tense silence again.

"Kill this fool," he ordered just briefly and still half turned while speaking. How extremely rude.

Without even looking at the man with the gun, he knocked the gun out of his hand from below and cleverly caught it again. It snuggled perfectly into his hand. How long had it been since he last held a handgun? Too long anyway. A quick pull on the trigger and the human face was history. The shot echoes deafeningly in the absolute silence of the building. Then there was only the disgusting slap of the corpse on the polished floor. And it became as quiet as before.

"The woman," demanded Azrael in a harsh voice, aiming the gun at the leader's chest.

To his surprise, he did not look at him in shock or fear, but rather with raised eyebrows with interest. Then he just nodded and the people stepped aside. Azrael was slightly irritated, but didn’t show anything. He needed all the information he could get. The woman burst into tears when she saw him approaching and tried to crawl away.

"No, no, no, please don't!" She sobbed.

"Yes," he contradicted, crouched down and put down the gun. He roughly grabbed her hair and forced her to look into his face.

"You know why I'm there," he began in a soft voice. The woman was trembling all over now.

“Do you remember what happened to her? She also thought at first that she could lie to me. She was so naughty. But you're a good girl, aren't you? You would never lie to me, would you? ", He continued gently and gently stroked her tangled hair. She just sobbed louder and flinched away from him.

"Why are you after me?" He wanted to know with a cruel smile.

"We ... we ... we ..." she started, shaking, but then bit her tongue and looked down at the ground. So in the uncomfortable way.

He formed a dagger, which he pulled out of his jacket (people didn't have to know more than they should) and drew it with light pressure with the blunt side over the tender, tear-stained cheek.

"Why are you after me?" He repeated his question. Gunfire rang out somewhere in the background, but he simply blocked out his surroundings. Only the human woman bothered him at the moment.

"I ... I don't know ..." she started stuttering, but broke off whimpering when he let the sharp point come to rest just millimeters from her eye.

That had always been people's greatest fear. To lose their seemingly most important meaning. They were so dependent on him. But why did they never notice that you could see a lot more without him?

"Don't lie," Azrael reminded her gently. Tears ran down her cheeks.

“ She ordered it. She had her sources. I was just a messenger. Please, you have to believe me ... Please! ”She finally burst out.

“Who says I don't believe you?” Azrael replied softly, “But you know more. I can feel it."

The blade slid through the woman's skin without resistance. She screamed pointedly and tried with all her strength to wriggle out of his iron grip. Vain. He precisely drew the ultra-sharp edge under her skin and pulled the scrap off elegantly, so that one could see the red muscles underneath. She was crying freely now, but the tears ran down her raw flesh and stung like acid. She punished herself. How poetic. With a peaceful smile, Azrael touched his blade again.

"NO!" The human woman screamed loudly.

"Then talk," he asked.

"Yes, yes, ... She spun her network from here . She knew everything, could get at everything. I don't know how she did it , but ... She has contacts. Powerful contacts. "

Thoughtfully, Azrael ran his blade over the woman's chapped lips. She understood it as an invitation to keep talking.

She 's the head of Bioresearch Cooperation." He looked at her questioningly.

“A large research company that organizes and conducts research for the client in exchange for money. With rather opaque cash flows, if I may put it that way, ”replied a deep bass. The other people, he had completely forgotten them!

"Go on," he urged his source after examining the leader intensely.

But she pressed her lips together and stared at him in silence. With one movement too fast for the human eye, he pulled off another large piece of skin. Again she screamed like a stick and was finally ready to give further information:

“There was some kind of project here in France. I don't know exactly what it was about, but you played a part in it. ”Azrael cocked her head and nodded lost in thought.

“There were money problems, the boss wasn't getting on fast enough. Mr Sanchez, Doctor Jansen's assistant, only wanted financial support and in return promised us an insight into the research results. But somehow she got more involved the more she found out about the project and what was going on. I don’t know what got into her , but she didn’t let it go. “, It gushed from the human woman.

"We have to go, the cops are coming!" Suddenly uttered one of the people present.

Azrael and the leader looked at him more annoyed than frightened. But he wasn't done with the woman yet! But the leader merely nodded and trudged past Azrael. Almost casually, he took out his pistol and shot her precisely three times in the head. She was dead instantly, and her delicious blood spilled into a perfect pool on the floor. Azrael started up angrily and also a little stunned. Picking up the gun on the ground did not occur to him.

"Get out of here," the leader merely replied to the barely hidden anger look and withdrew with his men. One of the people pushed him roughly aside as he trudged past.

Azrael remained frozen. How dare he ?! His chance for more names was gone! In his hate-drenched state, he didn't notice the patter until it was too late. He really had to go.

He hurried to the door, only to find that it was locked. And it was clearly made of a material much harder than wood. He would not be able to break through this easily. He turned quickly. The other also failed, from there people ate. But there weren't any more. Maybe a window? Now slightly panicked, he stepped next to the corpse in the middle of the room and looked around, but he couldn't tell which of the walls around him were made of glass or just walls. He was literally trapped. Suddenly he had an unbelievable suspicion: Was that how people planned it? Did they want to blame him for everything? Who did you think you were ???

A good dozen armed men and women stormed into the room and pointed their weapons at him. Out of the blue, only one Italian word came to mind that described the whole situation in which he was now, for better or for worse: Merda. Crap.

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