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 Mercy on Us (Maria)

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Brittie

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PostSubject: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:40 pm

The last time Brittany was in a church, she wasn’t even a teenager yet. There were still memories in her mind about the event. Spacious halls, huge candles, abundant lights, loud voices, everything that suits a rave more than a church. If there’s one thing that lingered all of these years, it was the feeling of not fitting in. Not belonging to the sacred, holy ambience of a church. Yet, as weird as it might be, Brittany returned to the place that made her think of herself as an outcast. Not for herself and not for her innate curiosity, but for someone else. A friend.

The day before ended with a sour taste in her throat, something she couldn’t not think about. While she made internal vows of respecting Maria’s personal space and recovery time, the feeling of concern was stronger, so much that it propelled the model to an unexpected visit at Sunlake Palms. Her shoulder still ached from the fall albeit nothing Brittany couldn’t manage. The grip on her handbag strap tightened. Her flawed sense of direction didn’t fail her this time, she almost thanked God for this.

The more Brit’s cautious steps and wary glances took her inside, the more the girl felt dragged into the depths of a giant monster’s stomach. Or a castle’s dark dungeon, RPG-worthy dungeon, however without the excitement of a game. It didn’t help the lights were out and the church was kinda empty.


...Hello? Anybody here?

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Fri Aug 10, 2018 4:16 pm

The Church was indeed dark and it was heavy with atmosphere from the sheer weight of its solemn silence. Mass was not in session at this time, which was obvious enough when the chapel lacked any activity nor any kind of lighting save for the rays passing through the colored stained glass windows. Even then, there were some candles with tiny embers flitting in place in honor of the holy Mother and her Beloved Son. Of course, there were others for Queen Isla's image as well. It seemed as if no one was present, save for--





The voice came from behind her, at least a good distance away. It belonged to a young man relatively taller than Brittany in what looked to be casual wear while holding onto a leather-bound book. Unlike the chapel's uninviting atmosphere, this person appeared friendlier than his environment. The very moment he was close enough to meet face-to-face in normal conversation, he introduced himself. "Welcome to the Sunlake Palms Church. We don't get a lot of visitors, probably because it's all spooky and Gothic here. Ha. So what do you need?"

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Fri Aug 10, 2018 6:35 pm

A voice behind her was not what she expected and while normally Brittany wasn't easy to spook, the girl's hand instinctively went to her chest, precisely over the heart. Much to her luck, it wasn't any demon or ghost, but a single guy.

...Oh my gosh, you scared me!”, Brit smiled, recovering from the initial dread. “Yeah, I can see why people wouldn't come often. Maybe you kinda, you know, need a bit of color in here. Uh, do you work here or something? Because you kinda look a bit too young for that. You aren't, like, a priest, right?”, the following giggle could be seen as playful but it was equally concerning. After all, it was always good to double check and be safe before saying something that could be deemed as inappropriate.

I'm looking for Father... uh, Gi...orgio?”, Brittany picked the business card she received from the hands of Jorge himself, reading the name displayed, thus frowning in what could be seen as an obvious confusion. “Weird... I could swear I had seen another name in Maria's cellphone...

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:19 pm


"Color, huh? I guess that could be a good idea, but I thought about getting the priests to make their sermons fun and invest in padded pews. Maybe people might want to come... But, yeah, I work here as a sort of apprentice. Sorta, kinda. I still go to school, so that's why I'm not being priestly and all with that white plastic collar. Sorry to disappoint." The young man replied nonchalantly. He didn't seem to really care all that much about formal customs by his relaxed posture. After blinking once about Brittany's inquiry, the would-be priest cracked an even deeper smile. "Oh, Jorge. Yeah, we like to call him Jorge. Giorgio is his Italian name. So you want to see the crusty old guy? Yeah, I can bring him in. Wait one moment."

He smoothly strove towards the chapel's exit and disappeared into the meandering hallways inside the cathedral. Even his resounding footsteps against the tiled floor vanished. Brittany would be alone on her own for a moment. Soon footsteps began to return, with one more to the mix.  She could hear a familiar voice in the hallway. "I can take it from here, Greg. Sister Garin wants a word with you."

An exasperated groan would follow, but there was no protest. The two footsteps separated from here on. The one that was drawing closer towards Brittany got louder with each step until it finally hit against the chapel's carpet.



"Hey, hey. Good to see you here, Miss. I hope Greg wasn't too cheeky with you. He can get awfully bored."

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Sat Aug 11, 2018 3:38 pm

Italian name, huh? So he's foreign? She couldn't say it wasn't unexpected, but the idea never really crossed her mind until it was explicitly mentioned. Maybe that would explain the weird quirk involving jumping through windows, though frankly Brittany couldn't remember any accent from the old priest.

Alrighty, I will be waiting here then!”, she said, as friendly as the guy was, while her eyes accompanied his departure. My, why hasn't Maria told her there were eyecandies in the church? She'd come confess in a hurry if she knew beforehand! After Greg's disappearance, there weren't much for Brittany to do but to take a few steps here and there with no compromise, analytical stares from one stained glass to another, then to candles... There was some palpable melancholy everywhere she looked, or maybe it was the feeling of loneliness and foreignness once again paying a visit. Again, Brittany wasn't a fan of churches, this kind of place isn't for her. However, the amicable appearance of Father Jorge helped soothe the returning sensation of not fitting in a holy ground. At his sight, she opened a relieved smile. It was good to see him, this time in better, not drastic circumstances.

Hiii! Cheeky? Oh no, he was very nice and all. We were talking about how dark your church looks and how it would be nice if you could, like, bring some color and flavor to make people actually want to come, you know? But I kinda wonder why would a guy so young and so cute be interested in a life of celibacy... I always thought priests were usually old and that's why they became single and priest--”, Brittany quickly placed both hands over her mouth, realizing the errors of her speech and the embarrassment her clumsy tongue has just put her in. “Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry, I-I didn't mean that... At least, not all that, one part I definitely meant, but... am I grounded for heresy or something?

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:17 pm


He raised an eyebrow at the direction of where this conversation was going to start. But the moment she quickly apologized, the priest immediately chuckled and shook in amused mirth. Such was the flippancy of youth, intentional or unintentional. "Well, well. I didn't think you were the cheeky one after all! Ha! No sweat, you're fine. We aren't so up-tight that we wouldn't allow some roasts."

He knew very well Brittany didn't mean it. She seemed too nice and have too much well-intention to mean any harm. But then again, she wasn't quite wrong. Aye, there was that sting. So many old geriatrics coming into the order and a good number of them were waved away for obvious reasons within the group. He continued while gesturing back towards the exit. "Well, even guys like Greg here have their own reasons for working here. I'm sure you're here for Maria, but she's off at a Cadet meeting. She should be back soon, actually. But until then, do you want any tea from the kitchen and have a talk as we wait? We have lemon, green, and jasmine. I've been meaning to get to know you. Maria never said anything about friends to me."

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:38 pm

In a way, she was glad Jorge was so easygoing. He seemed like the perfect misconstruction of her image of clerics and all kinds of servants of God, contrary to the bad impressions she gathered from childhood. The other part of Brit's core was still embarrassed and guilty for such an impolite comment about Jorge's nature and age; being uncomfortable at the church or not, she was still in a holy place and in front of a holy man. He deserved some respect, after all.

As for Maria, well, Brittany had still some time. She was early for her job (not counting the fact there weren't photoshoots scheduled for that afternoon) and as for her other obligation... the girl was still pondering whether to go or not. Regardless, the girl could understand Maria had her own obligations, though the mention of her active duty as a cadet, in contrast to her active role as a terrorist, left a sour taste in her mouth.

I usually have lemon, so...I'll take jasmine then!”, Brittany answered, amicably. Felt like being introduced to the real parents of Maria, which was completely awkward the more she thought about it. Then again... Jorge probably is old enough to be her real father, and he really did act like it. “Okay. Sure, we can talk. Is there something you wanna ask or... you know... ask?

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:09 pm


"Jasmine? Not a bad choice. I was beginning to think our larders were too full of it. Good to know you're giving the effort to help us empty out the excess. Come, I'll show you the way there. We can talk over there." Jorge would exit the chapel with her and lead her through the hallways. It was quiet, but less somber than the solemn atmosphere in that area of worship. What Brittany could see were actual offices and even meeting rooms inside the Church. None of them seemed to be of much interest as they were dark inside from inactivity. This was the weekday, after all. Not many bothered to visit aside from the weekly Holy Mass. It was a painful truth all clergy had to accept.  

The kitchen was spacious and lead to what looked like a sizable cafeteria-break room. He pulled up a chair for Brittany and for himself at a near by table inside the kitchen. And even while his visitor sat, the priest was quick to produce a tea kettle filled with water to be set onto the stove. It would take a while for the water to boil and the kettle to hiss. Even with his eyes on the kettle, he asked the girl. "So tell me, Britanny. Are you alright right now? After what happened yesterday?"

Jorge didn't exactly pull any punches here. It was obvious why Brittany was here right now. Or at least, what his gut was telling him at this time. It was better to get to the meat of the matter while they still had this moment.

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:34 pm

In sight of Jorge's invitation, Brittany followed right behind him, with her eyes wandering around, checking every corridor in a stupid attempt to memorize the reverse way out in case she needed.

When they reached the kitchen, Brittany felt better. Small rooms and hallways didn't suit well with her, she preferred large, spacious ambiances that didn't hinder her freedom, movements and behavior. Anyway, she sat down while anticipating what would Jorge want to talk about, though the feeling down her stomach had a hunch. A hunch that later proved itself correct.

Uhhh... yeah, I guess? I mean, nothing happened to me after all. I'm more concerned about Maria... How's she doing? Why's she on duty after what happened yesterday? Like... shouldn't she take the day off? I just can't understand it...”, Brittany asked, in her clear confusion. She had lost some lot of blood and still found strength to be up for her job the day after. How could she?

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Mon Aug 13, 2018 10:56 pm

The room would screech from the chair moving as Jorge pulled up a seat for himself near Brittany. It was remarkably empty with just the two of them, but it's what he needed. Yet, he was going to need more than just a moment to be alone. He paused for a second when she asked about Maria. His lips pursed together in thought as he pensively diverted his eyes to the floor. It wasn't an easy thing to begin with. There were a lot of secrets not meant to leave these walls. Technically, they were within them, but an outsider wasn't supposed to know.




"It is a very complicated matter as you can tell, Miss Brittany. But Maria has what we could call a 'contract' with the higher establishment in the Church in return for her power to fight against demons and Psyche-Terrorists. According to the Contract, she must follow orders from our higher-ups even at the cost of her life." His voice was slow and deliberate, as if making sure Brittany was listening and understanding each and every word he said. Between these words, there was a tinge of regret staining the sentences from his lips. There was a look on his face that seemed to be grimacing a very old and hated memory. He continued. "I've protested against this arrangement, but you can only do so much when your bosses have more power despite your seniority and when the person you want to save is zealously willing to make the sacrifice for power... Such absolute foolishness, that girl."

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:28 pm

Initially, Brittany's reaction was pretty much what any shocked person could expect: silence. She hasn't in her will to interrupt Jorge and protest, instead listening with her fingers fidgeting on her lap. Once he was done, the girl would keep staring at him, lips partially opened at the mention of saying something that struggled to leave the plane of thoughts.

So... What you're telling me is that Maria is a pawn to the church...?”, Brittany asked, wanting to make sure she got the right, summarized idea behind the lengthy explanation. Revolting, to say the least. “She can't object, she can't say "no", she can't give up or retreat, she has to, like, follow these orders and put her life in danger because of other people? Why haven't these people done it themselves instead of, you know, placing it on a girl? This is not fair!

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Tue Aug 14, 2018 3:00 pm

Jorge accepted her condemnation silently. She wasn't wrong in the slightest. It was the bare truth, but not a complete one. It was enough to give her a good idea. People commonly thought a religious hegemony like the Church was a place for morals and piety. But it was much more deeper and much more incorrigible than that as the young girl was beginning to notice.


The light from the kitchen and from the windows flashed across his glasses, hiding the expression in his eyes for the moment. He somberly explained to her. "Because she was the only one of the rare few people who could use that weapon you saw. What she uses is a demon's power inside it, not one of a Persona like the Cadets or the Psyche-Terrorists. Out of thousands who tried and failed, Maria was the only one who can harness it... at great cost. She chose to use this weapon, but at the same time she didn't have a choice for other reasons that I will allow Maria to explain herself. It was by unfortunate circumstance of her own goals intertwining with the Church's."

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:12 am

The only one who could control a demon weapon? It sounded familiar. Way too familiar for Brittany to say a word. It hit too close to home for her, and that's just one more reason to feel indignant at how reckless and unconsiderate they were to human lives, to children in the name of a goal they deemed holy and fair.

...They did it to her, didn't they?”, she finally said, with a less cantankerous posture than before, her eyes shifting in direction, not aimed to the priest anymore but a downzed gazed at her own lap. Now her voice only sounded saddened by the presumable past of Maria. “They used her for experiments with demons... isn't that what you mean? Scientists turned her into what she is... Why do they do this to kids? It... shouldn't be like this... You believe in God, don't you? You believe He's out there. Why would God allow it? I... I can't believe He would. Forgive me Father, I'm not, like, religious or faithful, I have never been this type of girl, but if He exists, why does He allow kids to be taken for stuff like that and have their lives destroyed because of the desires of adults? What's the purpose in all of this? I swear I'm trying to understand, but I can't... I really can't...

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:33 am


"Very much so, more or less. At the same time, it was something necessary to keep her alive at the time or she would have died. As I said before, her circumstances were unfortunately in-line with what the Church needed." Jorge admitted, but not before raising an eyebrow at her. Man, it would be a good time for smoke just right about now. His fingers were feeling all twitchy from all of this. He wanted to feel more mellow of it all, but he figured Brittany wouldn't appreciate the reeking smell of burning tobacco. Instead, he opted to stand from his seat and walk back towards the stove when the tea kettle began to scream. It wouldn't be long until he returned with cups presumably with the tea he promised. "I once wondered about that for a very... very long time. I asked this question on many occasions. I even meditated and prayed on it. Perhaps, He deems it as a trial for them to overcome through their own will. Ever since my induction within the Church's ranks, I believed it is all the fault of Man's innate disgusting nature. Yet, we sought him out as our own custodian for our own failings and at our own struggles... Ridiculous. I can't say, really. For all of my efforts to enlighten myself, I don't know."

He blew gingerly on his steaming tea cup before taking a small sip from it. It was a sobering moment for the priest. What the Church stood for, but what it actually pursued, was more or less a sham to anyone who really knew what was happening behind the scenes. It eked out a question of what exactly was the point of it all? A question that posed itself in front of Jorge again and again. But there was a reason why he stayed even to this day. In the distance, there was a beeping sound. It was the tell-tale sign the gate was being opened for entry. "She's back. I'll bring her here."

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PostSubject: Re: Mercy on Us (Maria)   Thu Aug 23, 2018 5:58 pm

At this point, Brittany held a melancholic, downed gazed that only shifted directions from her own lap to welcome the tea's trembling, steamy surface. Though originally she felt like treating herself something to drink, the whole conversation only served to drag her mood down and sour. As Jorge departed in sight of the announcement of Maria's return, Brit couldn't help but sink in compassion and pity for what she had been through, and remorse for unleashing it all on Jorge. Maybe he was an accomplice, maybe he was just powerless, but definitely he was good-natured and saw things under the same light as hers. That was enough for now to Brittany, and while she decided to wait for her friend to come, she picked the cup by its wing to blow some air and cool it off a bit.

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