Chapter 31: Pious Returns

Chapter 31 of the Light Father: Abbot Pious, the cruellest of Schimrian’s many Inquisitors returns to Britannia to hunt down Harold and the Scatterlings


Blazing sunshine raked the tarmac and the concrete runways at Bede Airport as the storm-line moved away slowly northwards. Wisps of steam rose up from the super-saturated ground as it was heated directly by the sun for the first time in six years. By the terminus building, a short but obese Father sweated copiously as he waited by the steps of an executive jet.  

“Good of you to meet me, Father Ursaf,” Abbot Pious said as he descended the steps. “It saves a lot of meaningless time looking for you. Are there any Angels here that we can use?”

Ursaf bowed deeply before the scarred Abbot who was cradling a machine-gun. “We usually have eight stationed here to cover the Southern Cities, Eminence, but six are now on patrol near Brigstowe to support our Inquisitors. They are encircling an area where several Unworthy adults were sighted yesterday.”

“Impossible!” Pious exploded. “I personally Inquired of the entire region only two years ago!”

“Um, the sightings have not been confirmed, Eminence,” Ursaf qualified quickly. He paled at the sheer malevolence that radiated from Schimrian’s most trusted advisor. “Whom have you brought with you from the Vatican?” he inquired delicately as two Fathers and three Brothers descended the steps to line up behind Pious. All six of them were heavily armed and carried little in the way of personal luggage. “Were there any from the Conclave with you on this flight, Eminence? I thought Abbot Amherus was with you.”

“Not a hope of that, my son,” Pious said with a thin smile. “Let me introduce the Order’s most accomplished Fathers and Brothers-Inquisitor. These are the only Brothers who are allowed to bear arms in Britannia and the only ones in the entire Order I would trust with my life. Now, if you have pilots available for your remaining rotor-craft, I intend to follow the edge of that storm-line northwards and head directly to this accursed rail-yard that His Eminence wants me to Inquire of. We will ask for Angels from the Abbey to support us in our most holy endeavours.”

“A prudent precaution – two of our best Angel crews were lost in Crawcester,” Ursaf reminded him as they walked towards the hangars. “And before that, Father Bucheort fell to the Motherhood. Great-Abbot Schimrian has distributed images of his demise – those Wiccan harlots of Satan crucified him, Eminence!”

“So I understand,” Pious agreed with a wry grin. “He would probably have welcomed the crucifixion – he did want to be close to our Lord Christ after all but,” he conceded as Ursaf reddened with outrage having served with Bucheort. “He was one of our best Inquisitors and you have my word, my son, that I will personally avenge him. You have kept this airport well, my son,” he added, indicating the empty runways. “If this place wasn’t so quiet, one would think we were back in the Dark Ages of Babylon.”

“Thank you, Eminence,” Ursaf said, grateful for the switch of subject. “We have difficulty keeping the buildings and the aircraft maintained because there are so few of us. We improvise and cannibalise parts but in another three years, we will not have the capacity to reach the Japanese Empire and two years after that, Africa and the Americas will be beyond our reach.”

Pious stopped to stare at Ursaf who felt as though an icy hand was gripping his heart. “Then you will have to work yet more miracles, my son, for we have many years of Inquisition left for us to complete but, have faith, we are almost there. Five years ago we were Redeeming the Unworthy by the thousands but now each Inquisition yields no more than a mere handful.”

“I heard that this was not the case in Italy.”

“Ah, bad news bears the fastest wings as they say. It is true – the Half-Drowned City was rather unusual, my son – all those dark catacombs provide too many nooks and crannies for the Unworthy to hide in and the New Holy See and Aurelio was swarming with Feral vermin complicating matters. Schimrian is right – we should exterminate every accursed Feral to make damn sure that they don’t revert and start to breed.”

“I support the Great-Abbot’s views on that,” Ursaf agreed as they resumed the walk towards the rotor-craft. “But cleansing Britannia of them would be the most we could do in the time given to us before New Jerusalem rises upon the ruins of Crawcester.”

They had reached the rotor-craft and Pious placed a hand on one of the chain-guns. “Such magnificent weapons,” he sighed lovingly. “We have much to thank the Great Computer for.” 

“Don’t forget that two Angels were brought down, Eminence,” Ursaf cautioned. “They are not invulnerable to the dark arts.”

“Those Angel crews failed us because they fell prey to the sin of over-confidence,” Pious snapped irritably. “But whether the Angels were destroyed by weather or by witch, I, however, will not fail the Order! Now, what news of these storms, my son?”

“They are still m-moving north, Eminence,” Ursaf stammered, indicating the ranks of anvil-headed clouds. “Several vortices were seen but they have faded as the rate of the progress north has slowed. The Great Computer forecasts that the central storm-line will move south again in the next two days or so and the storms will intensify again. The amount of energy in the atmosphere continues to rise which makes the movement and position of these storm-lines increasingly difficult to predict.”

“Ah, but look at this glorious blue sky now above us, Ursaf – proof that God does indeed smile upon us at this moment in time,” Pious grinned and clapped the Father on the back. “He has blessed us with a perfect day in which to carry out our Inquisition.”

“Will they still be there, do you think?”

“Our enemy will either fortify the rail-yard after defeating Bucheort and the Angels or they will flee so we must not keep them waiting, my son. Have these machines and your pilots made ready to fly immediately after we refresh ourselves.”

“The canteen has already prepared a meal for you, Eminence,” Ursaf said with some pride. “We believe in efficiency at Bede.”

“Excellent,” Pious beamed. “You truly are a Worthy amongst the Worthy. So when will these machines be ready to fly?”

“Within the hour,” Ursaf replied eagerly, rubbing his hands.

“Make it half,” Pious said. “If we leave then, we should get there the moment the storms ease over that accursed spot.”

“You must not be too hasty, Eminence,” Ursaf warned. “The downdrafts along the southern flank of that storm-line are lethal. The air is unstable – if you get too close to the edge of that cloud wall or pass into the storm-line itself the turbulence is strong enough to tear the rotors from their mountings and….”

“I’m sure your skilled pilots can manage,” Pious interrupted. “We need to eat but before I do, I need to communicate with the Great-Abbot. Is there a transceiver close to the canteen?”

“Yes, Eminence – my office is next door to the canteen.”

Pious poked Ursaf’s paunch disrespectfully. “I guessed as much.” He slapped the hilt of his sword and indicated the heavy machine-gun on his shoulder-strap. “A healthy body honed by Inquisition is the best temple for God’s Will, my son. Do not repeat the sins of greed and indulgence exercised by Abbot Michael – he sets our postulants such a poor example. I also note that your security here is non-existent. If Brigstowe has indeed been blighted, we cannot assume that all of Britannia is scourged, my son. I want to see guards posted and all your Fathers and Brothers carrying weapons the next time I’m here or I’ll hack all this excess blubber off you myself. Do I make myself clear?”

“Y-yes, Eminence. Abundantly c-clear!”

“Good. You may now leave us.”

They marched to the canteen and Pious saw to it that the two Fathers and three Brothers with him were taken care of by the Brothers dealing with the catering before entering Ursaf’s office. He found it pleasingly neat with walls adorned with charts outlining the rosters, training and maintenance schedules. He tapped in a code on the video transceiver and Schimrian’s gaunt face appeared on the screen. “I have arrived, Eminence,” he reported. “There are only two Angels at Bede but I intend to strike the target from the south as soon as the storm-line clears it. How fares the weather with you? When can the Abbey Angels take to the air?”

“Ah, my son,” Schimrian beamed. “I always feel a lightening of the heavy burden upon my shoulders when you set foot upon our holy soil. We have had a vortex skirt the Great Abbey to the east taking several Sisters with it, I’m afraid. We can now see sunlight to the south but the rain and winds have not abated just yet. I presume the storms have now cleared Bede?”

“Indeed, Eminence,” Pious grinned. “That means the southern edge of the storm-line will soon clear Crawcester so I intend to leave immediately. I am assuming that the storms have pinned them down until now so they will either fight us or flee.”

“The loss of Bucheort’s Inquisition and two of our Angels proves that the Mothers are active there so do not be over-hasty, my son,” Schimrian cautioned. “I trust your judgement but I cannot afford to lose you amongst so many evil portents.”

“I’ve studied the images you sent,” Pious smiled. “This strange man cannot be a threat – it is obvious he knows not how to hold a sword and the others are mere children apart from that cat-like abomination obviously created by that traitor, Farzad.”

“Be that as it may,” Schimrian said, steepling his fingers. “The fragmentary data from the Guides and the barracks-computer in Crawcester indicates that these ‘mere’ Children of Exodus fought Bucheort and his Inquisitors to a standstill and may have defeated him without the arcane assistance of the Wiccans. Children they may be they are also the Children of Exodus and if Farzad’s chimera is any indicator, they may have all been subjected to similar but unknown genetic manipulation.”

“We have nerve gas grenades which we will drop from a great height before destroying the buildings themselves. Both Bucheort and I have tackled powerful covens before only this time I will approach the target with extreme caution. You have my word, Eminence – I will not make the same mistakes he did.”

“I am glad to hear that, my son,” Schimrian nodded. “However, the Great Computer also thinks that this mystery man is worth Inquiring of as he may have come from an alternate reality.”

Pious’s eyes widened in surprise. “An alternate reality? You mean he crossed over like the device that was found in the Black Valleys; the one now forming the core of the Great Computer? That is an evil portent indeed, Eminence.” 

“I agree – he may be a sign that the Devil is amongst us as foretold in the Book of Revelation. He may even be the Devil for it is inconceivable that Bucheort’s Inquisition and two veteran Angel crews should fall in such a short space of time.”

“Then I will show them no mercy,” Pious pledged. “The Inquisition shall be as righteous as it will be thorough.”

“We have God on our side,” Schimrian affirmed, glancing at something off-screen. “As soon as you deal with this matter, I wish to meet with you to discuss certain threats within the Order.”

“Ah, you mean the Conclave. I have loyal Brothers watching them closely as you commanded, Eminence, and the moment you ordain them to be Unworthy, I will have them Redeemed.”

Schimrian visibly relaxed. “See, my son?” he beamed. “See how you anticipate my every need and assuage my every fear! Bless you, Pious, for you shall sit at my right hand forever.”

“So – how goes Eternity?” Pious enquired hungrily.

“It is at hand, my son. Azrael has built a medical device to deal with the more mundane accidents of eternal life. It regenerates all manner of damaged tissue so that we may dwell in God’s Holy Light for all time without age, without deficit, without blemish.”

“Amen to that,” Pious grinned. “But I hope some Unworthy do survive or I shall become terribly bored – I’m a man of action in the service of God not some trembling Sister fit only for prayer and prostration before statues of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Be at peace, my son – all creatures have their function before our Lord especially our Sisters,” Schimrian chided. “Even this remarkable invention of Azrael would not sustain our Holy Number for all eternity, my son, so we will always need the wombs and service of our Sisters. You should see his latest plans, my son:  New Jerusalem is a truly magnificent city but its construction and maintenance will present us with many challenges.”

“I hope so, Eminence,” Pious said fervently. “For a man is nothing before God without challenges to stiffen the sinews and sharpen the senses. There are simply not enough Ferals and Unworthy in the world to satisfy my desire to prove myself in the Eyes of the Order and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“Amen to that, my son,” Schimrian beamed, making the sign of the cross. “I am about to take Mass in the Great Cathedral but before that, I will order Camus to despatch all available Angels to aid you as soon as the weather allows. They should only be ten minutes behind you – you could wait for them, you know.”

“I only intend to scout out the yard,” Pious promised. “You have my word that once the Abbey Angels arrive, I shall Redeem this man, these Mothers and these Children of Exodus until they are nothing more than lifeless fragments of flesh.”

“Then may the Son, the Father and the Holy Ghost watch over you. I look forward to seeing you again, old friend.”

“And I you, Eminence,” Pious bowed, hand on breast. “May God light your way and smile upon all that you do. Amen!”

“And thee, my son,” Schimrian said and cut the connection.

Pious stared at the blank screen deep in thought for a few moments but he did not miss the internal security camera tracking him as he left the room. “Ah, I see I’m not trusted by someone here or at the Great Abbey,” he chuckled to himself as he entered the canteen. “I shall prove to his Eminence that there is none more loyal that I – as Camus and Michael will know to their cost.”

“I beg your pardon, Eminence?” one of the Fathers asked, looking up from his meal. “Are there traitors here at Bede? I hope not – this is the best meal we’ve had all year.”

“Relax, Father Aten,” Pious smiled. “There is much work for us to do in Crawcester and maybe later at the Great Abbey.”

“Ah, you refer to those of the Conclave who seek to betray the Great-Abbot,” Aten said indignantly. “I had hoped our New Jerusalem would be free of such petty ambition. Schimrian has led us well up until now so why would we suffer a challenge to his authority?” He extracted a bottle of whisky from his rucksack and as per their particular tradition of Inquisition, he poured them small glasses of the fiery spirit and raised a toast: “Here’s to His Eminence, Great-Abbot Schimrian, and our Redemption of the Unworthy. May God bless our humble Inquisition and confound the schemes and devices of our enemies. Amen.”

“Amen!” they chorused and drank as one.

From the control tower, Ursaf watched them as they headed across the tarmac to the awaiting Angels. One of the Brothers at the main console turned to him. “That man frightens me, Father,” he said frankly. “He’s completely unhinged. I thank God he’s an Inquisitor and not one of the Unworthy.”

“He’s serious about that threat he made to me, my son,” Ursaf said bleakly. “He will carve me to pieces if he finds us so unprepared for battle again. Make sure everyone knows about the need to bear weapons at all times then tell the ground staff that they need to patrol the perimeters from now on.”

“And when do we sleep exactly?” another Brother grumbled sarcastically. “Doesn’t he realise how much work it takes to keep these jets and all the Order’s precious Angels from falling out of the sky? The man’s a vicious, ignorant monster.”

“He’s truly a Worthy amongst the Worthy,” Ursaf grimaced, watching the rotor blades on the Angels gain momentum. “But, Praise and Bless the Infant Jesus, he’s our monster.”

 


(c) 2012 – 2013 Paul D.E. Mitchell – copyright protected

 

© mitch 2017
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2 Comments on "Chapter 31: Pious Returns"

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Belcanto
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Paul, a very imaginative and engrossing excerpt. Well written with effective and impressive descriptions of weather and surroundings, as well as great character development in what is a pretty scary scenario! I’m certainly interested in reading more. Think you have a problem with length, though. That’s surely why others are not commenting. I know I passed it over, at first, because of the word count. Wondering if you could find break points within chapters from now on? I don’t know what word count is recommended on here – you might want to visit the Forums and question the administrators on… Read more »
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