The Eiffel Tower shone in the twilight, lights glimmering like gold before their eyes.
Bobby marched over, squared up and puffed out like the fighter he was, ready for anything; Fleet moved sharply but cautiously, eyes darting around to check for any threats while taking in the beauty of the surroundings; Tames gazed up at the Tower with wonder in her eyes as she moved slowly, drinking in every last drop of the scenery; and Delacroix smiled as she moved towards the all-too-familiar landmark - she'd had a few strong drinks here a while back, and it gave a pleasant feeling to be returning.
They finally met at the entrance of the stairwell, and upon each of them seeing the identical invitations realised the situation and greeted each other.
Delacroix languidly shook hands with the invigorated Tames whilst the wiry grip of Fleet accommodated the bulbous calluses of Flint, and the four made their way up the stairwell towards the top of the Eiffel Tower.
The windows were wide open, and the lights in the room were off. Tames glanced at her watch - 6:29PM.
"So, Miss Dela... Dela..." Bobby stumbled over the name, and her eyes rolled.
"Delacroix. And what is it, Mr Flint?"
"What exactly do you do, then?" he sheepishly replied.
She was about to reply when the minute ended, and a great chamber floated up to the open windows. Upon closer inspection, the chamber was the helm of a great airship that shimmered like silver as it moved across the skies.
Within, the room seemed sparse. A bookshelf to one side, filled with books from Homer and Virgil to Robeson and Heinlein; a small worktable to the other, with papers neatly placed on one part and various tools laid out on the other. Delacroix looked at the notes that had been written, only to realise that they were in absolute gibberish.
Bizarre symbols coated the pages in small, delicate handwriting, and small diagrams alongside them ranging from dimensions of what seemed to be a temple to the workings of a small spherical device.
And there in silhouette, sat before the great window and the bizarre steering equipment, was a figure on a black leather chair. He was dressed plainly to match the room - a black dress shirt and trousers with black leather shoes to match. His eyes were dark, and gleamed from the little light that the dimming sun offered as he scanned his guests.
Even in the shadows, a smile could be made out on his face - a warm, welcoming smile, as if he were greeting an old friend once again.
Finally, he stood, and moved towards them in smooth, measured steps.
"Salutations," he said, his voice a resonant baritone, "and many thanks for your arrival. I'm glad you could all attend." He bowed in Oriental fashion before moving to the wall and pressing a small button - as if by magic, four chairs rose from the floor and locked into place before each of the guests.
They took their seats, and Bobby was the first to break the collective silence.
"So who are you? What're you playing at?"
Fleet fixed her eyes on their host while Tames glanced wistfully towards the books before focusing on him again.
"Yes, who exactly are you? You called us out to Paris without us knowing who on Earth you are..." Fleet began.
The host merely flashed another smile and chucked heartily before he spoke again.
"My name," he said as he leaned towards them, "is Atlas Silver, and I need your help."