Book III: Chapter 22
“What are we going to d—“ Miriam stopped short as their door to her cell opened and a trio of Brothers entered in upon her and Alan.
“You?” Alan spat in disgust when he saw The Brother in command. “What are you doing here? Did you just come to catch a glimpse of us because we are doomed? Or are you going to experiment on us? Is that it? Well, let m—“
“Alan,” Miriam interrupted, “do you know this man?”
Before Alan could reply, the Brother in question (that would be ME as The Baron) turned to the two guards and advised, “Leave me alone with them please. Don’t worry; it’s quite alright. Yes, please just go stand outside the door. And remember, we are not to be disturbed.”
After the door closed, I turned back to face the captives, yet before I could explain, Alan answered Miriam’s question, “Although the world at large has probably never heard of him, this man is well known among the Brotherhood elite. He specializes in genetic engineering…. more like genetic atrocities! Miriam, let me introduce you to… Baron Von Bodenwerner.”
Miriam eyed me rather curiously and I could tell she was making an attempt to infiltrate my mind. I worked hard to keep her out of my mind. After a brief pause she asked, “What are you doing here, Baron?”
For my part, although I was overcome with emotion at seeing my friends again, the facial alterations made possible by my alchemy covered my real expressions, thus a stoic silence was the only reply I gave them at first.
At last, I whispered urgently, “Are they secret? Are they safe?”
Perplexed by this mysterious question, Alan replied, “What in the world are you talking about?”
“Lazarus! Miriam! It’s ME – John!”
Both Alan and Miriam took a step back at my strange revelation, but I moved closer to them within the cramped room, “Stop. Listen. It’s me, John of Salome. I’m in disguise. This is merely one of my identities.”
“What are you talking about, Von Bodenwerner?” Alan was unamused.
“Shhh!” I motioned to the door. “I use alchemy to alter my appearance. I have a number of different identities that I use to infiltrate The Brotherhood… and other organizations — but that’s not important. Listen, what matters right now is that I’m here to rescue you.”
Unfortunately my friends didn’t buy it.
“Are you honestly trying to coax us into believing that you are THE John of Salome?” Alan scoffed. “That’s preposterous. I don’t care if you are claiming ‘disguise.’ The fact is that I’ve known you as Baron Von Bodenwerner for decades. You’re a scoundrel! Why the horrible things you’ve done. As waylaid as John was, even he wouldn’t have overseen some of the ghastly experiments that I’ve heard YOU were responsible for. What you did at Tikrit back in—“
“Don’t believe everything you’ve heard. Most of those infamous discoveries were just propaganda I fed the Inner Circle – to throw them off track on developing the real thing. Come on, man, think! Haven’t you ever wondered why a true superbug was never fully developed that could provide the Brotherhood with total control of their New World Order?”
“Er?” Alan stammered.
“Because I was the head man in charge of everything! Why, I’ve been misleading the Brotherhood scientists for years. It’s only because of me that they keep getting FARTHER away from the truth. Indeed, left to their own devices, the Brotherhood’s genetic engineers would have profiled a DoomsDay Bug long ago.”
“But, wait a second,” Miriam jumped in, “If you really are John that doesn’t make sense either. I mean, why are you here? John made it pretty clear that he wanted nothing to with us… or Jesus.”
“Exactly.” Alan added, “So what’s changed?”
I lowered my head in shame and took a moment to answer. “The cords of death entangled me and I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.” Here I looked to them for understanding, “But then I called at last on the name of our Deliverer and proclaimed, ‘Oh Lord, save me!’ And in my hour of need, He replied, ‘Be at rest once more, John. I am with you always.’ So I asked myself, ‘How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?’ And the answer was clear – by finally fulfilling my vows to Him and uniting with you to do his work; thereby glorifying his name.”
Before either of them could process my professed transformation, I continued, “Lazarus, Mary, I’ve repented of my sins. I was wrong. You were right. Gabriel reminded me of my mission. I’m here now and I’m going to rescue you.”