Answering the Call

May 12, 2015:

The next Magdalena is called.

The Vatican

Secret chambers in the bowels of the Vatican catacombs

Characters

NPCs: The Pope, Cardinal Pech

Mentions:

Mood Music: Tubular Bells


Fade In…

A lone figure strides confidently down the stone corridor. His red robes fluttering behind him as he walks, his stern visage lit by the occasional torch mounted on the walls. He passes a pair of guards who offer a slight bow of respect. The guards, athletic looking men in their early thirties, are dressed in blue and yellow costumes of another age – pantaloons, tunics…even a lace frill around their neck. Though their weapons are decidedly of the modern age – Steyr assault rifles. The robed man reaches the unlocked metal door of the cell at the end of the hall and pushes it open. “It is time” he intones with an air of assumed authority.

Inside the cell a young woman is praying. She kneels on the cold stone floor, facing away from the door, her head bowed before a large crucifix that hangs on the wall – the only decoration in the room. There is also a single bed with rough sheets and a desk with a simple jug of water, a lit candle and, of all things, a modern laptop upon it. Hearing the man’s voice the woman nods before genuflecting as she rises to her feet and turning to face him. She wears a coarse black dress that covers her body save for her hands and bare feet.

“Are you ready, Sister Maria?” the man asks, resplendent in his cardinal robes in the candlelight.

“God wills it, Cardinal Pech” Maria replies before she kneels to kiss the ring on his outstretched hand; and if God has chosen this time for her then she /must/ be ready. Decades of training and indoctrination will finally serve their purpose.

The man studies her for a moment before turning on his heels and striding back down the corridor…Maria will be expected to follow and she does. The pair marches in silence, he slightly ahead of her as befits his position, until they reach a pair of large wooden doors in the grey stone wall. The Cardinal knocks on the door once and there is a slight pause before they creak open to reveal a circular chamber lit by burning torches on the smooth stone walls. In the center of the room is a throne upon which sits an elderly white robed man flanked by two more guards. Behind them is a row of six red robed cardinals.
Pech walks into the room, straight for the throne where he bows to the occupant. “Your Holiness, I have brought the next one” he explains needlessly before rising to gesture Maria onwards. The young woman walks reverently towards the throne, eyes downcast before she is kneeling at the man’s feet and bowing her head.

“Rise child” says the old occupant of the throne though his voice is still youthful and vigorous. He stands as she does, stepping off the dais before indicating for her to follow him. The Pope walks slowly towards a rack filled with weapons from throughout the ages. “We did not expect to have to call on you so soon” he explains with some sadness, “But the last of your line was recently butchered in New York by a demon known as Etrigan…though no doubt it will have many names that it uses.” He stops to look over the weapons, his aged fingers tracing the blade of a sword. “Why she fell to the demon is for God to explain…or not…but it was His will that you will now take up the mantle of your lineage.” He walks slowly past another rack of weapons and then another, stopping where there is an obvious gap amongst the blades and guns. The Pope frowns at the empty space. “Here is where the Spear of Destiny should be. The weapon that pierced Christ should be in our charge…in your hands…but since a whimpering predecessor of mine handed it over to the Antichrist Adolf Hitler in return for peace, we have found it difficult to maintain our hold on it. God is punishing us for being cowards during that war against evil so we can but hope that our penance will be complete soon and it shall be restored to us…to you.” A long sigh before he turns to look at Maria. “We still believe the Spear to be in New York and God wills it then it will return to us. But even if it does not there is still much for you to do there. Hell is seeping into that city, preparing to take it over as it has already done with Gotham, so you must do all you can to prevent this. Do you understand?” Maria nods in reply before the Pope purses his lips in thought for a moment and then resumes his walk around the circular walls. “Cardinal Pech, if you would.”

Cardinal Pech, who has been following the pair, takes a couple of quick steps to get closer before addressing Maria. “We have arranged for you to take up a position in the library of St Peter’s. You will be a visiting PhD student and will have full access to all the vaults. You will reside in an apartment in the cathedral grounds and your equipment will be waiting for you – in a hidden room of course. Only a few will know your real purpose there and they will contact you so do not reveal yourself to anyone first. You will also be able to contact the Council in Rome at any time.”

Maria absorbs all the information quietly and thoroughly before the Pope comes to a halt before a rack that holds her clothes and armour. All brand new since the last suit was ripped apart along with the body that wore it. “Beware the lure of the secular” he notes as he looks over the clothing. “It can be very tempting and is but one of many trials sent to test us. Do not get me wrong, it is not /all/ evil, but you must rely on your faith and communion with God to know the difference and act appropriately. Remember whose blood runs in your veins. Remember who you are.” His hand gestures to the dark cloak hanging on the rack. “You are an instrument of God. You are the Magdalena.”

EPILOGUE:

Night in New York. It is almost summer but there is a chill in the air that is cold enough to cause mist to rise from the damp streets. Maria stands on the sidewalk next to a streetlight, a small suitcase in one hand, staring up at the old building and the solitary light shining through a window on the second floor. The taxi that brought her here drives away and she starts to walk for the door. This is her home now…at least until God wills her end.

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