It is good to see the sun again, Peter thought. He had been cooped up in hospitals and pawnshops for far too long, of late, and the beautiful clear sky reminded him of why he persisted in his sometimes crushing Vigil. He looked about him, in the Cathedral of the Holy Name, as the saints cast their glowing images on the empty pews. Kind faces of pure souls, icons of what the Blessed John Paul II had called “the universal call to holiness”, that beautiful sacred spark that lived in all peoples. Not long before (not long at all), these rows were filled with devout believers, ordinary men and women who turned to the Holy Trinity in these dark times, and were comforted. Here, a community was built, hope was rekindled. It reminded Pete of his time in Chicago, working in soup kitchens and lay missions, and it warmed his heart. The last few weeks, he had been under a doubtful pall in the wake of the events of the pawnshop.
Maria caught him daydreaming. With a sharp ‘whap!’ she brought the padded staff into Pete’s shoulder, and he exhaled sharply in pain. She smiled at him, sweat pouring down her face. They’d been sparring for close on an hour now, but neither of them were quite ready to call it quits yet. Pete grinned through the sting, lifted his mace (wrapped in padded toweling), and counterattacked.
CRACK! THUD! WHAP! The two members of the Congregation pushed bruised muscles and ragged lungs to their limits in the sanctuary of Holy Name. But even good exercise can’t shut off the imagination of a thinker like Father Peter Radcliffe. It just doesn’t work that way, and his mind began to reflect on events once again…
What now, I wonder? Dylan is… upset, of course. Although this wouldn’t have happened without his rash decision, born of panic. He was frightened; he will be forgiven this.
The deacon was starting to wander again, Maria could see it in his eyes. She couldn’t keep the smirk off of her face. The priest from Chicago was a righteous man, and there was no better exorcist in Philadelphia, but he did have this tendency to get lost in his own head. She lined up another temple blow…
Was that creature, that counterfeit, a reflection of Dylan’s darkest urges? For if so, I have reason to fear. Car bombs? Arson? Murdering? We are Hunters as befits the will of The Lord, yes, but violence is not the only path we follow. And to kill without being sure of the righteousness of the act is a grievous sin indeed.
The mace wandered into a lazy defensive position. Here comes the staff.
And Toshi? What next for him? I fear he is slipping, beginning to bow beneath the weight of this vigil. Whence these new allies? And at what price do they hold him ransom to such horrific quotas? He called them with but little hesitation, though that creature was nearly as human as either of us. Had I only been in the room with them, had I only had the chance to show them the Way. Perhaps it would have been impossible. Can you save something that has no soul…?
WHACK! Pete was knocked clean on his ass, and the mace fell beside him, the price for his absentmindedness. Maria pointed the staff at him, the sun glinting off the little gold crucifix around her neck. Her teeth were almost as white as her athletic clothes as she smiled at him, and raised an eyebrow. “Pacis?”
Peter grinned back, sheepishly. “Pax Pacis, Maria”. She helped him up, and the two retired to the basement. They changed and went to lunch at one of the carts, Maria as focused and Peter as distracted as usual. She rolled her eyes. To get Father Peter’s mind to stop humming would be a miracle indeed.