I can hear the tires squeal on the pavement of East Hastings as I gun the engine of my Honda Oddyssey and swerve into the right hand lane, cutting off a van with Geek Squad emblazoned on the side. I’m a little slow on the go though, nicking the rear left corner of the soccer mom’s Toyota Windstar and frightening her and her cargo of twelve year old faces.
Normally I’d stop to apologize and exchange information, but then again, normally I would be doing the speed limit, and not 40 kliks over. Of course, being chased by three motorcyclists with guns while a body bounces around in the back of my mini-van is very, very, not normal.
To say “it all began a few days ago” would be…misleading. The true story begins much further back- with my “coincidental” meetings with Chance.
That would be Derek Chance, a soldier-for-hire cum half-turned Red Court vampire. Chance and I kept “bumping into each other” in odd times and places, from his clandestine meeting in Las Vegas with an archbishop I was attending, to a church in Tokyo where he and a companion, Akira, took refuge from the Yakuza. Of course, all of this was back when he was still human.
I don’t know the details of his “transformation”…neither the circumstances nor the process, as the Church primarily focuses on the Black Court variety made popular in film and fiction. I do know that Chance is a man living on the edge, fighting a battle against the demon inside of him. The battle of a righteous man seeking redemption. And for that he has my full support.
I had recently contacted Chance through a mutual acquaintance, an army chaplain whom I will affectionately refer to as Father Mulcahy, to assist me in tracking down a Denarian coin, one of the 30 pieces of silver that bought Judas’ betrayal. Unfortunately the trail went cold, and I was waiting for further instructions from my superiors when Chance came to me for assistance on another manner.
A…I hesitate to say mutual acquaintance, as the woman named Raven continually makes it clear that she does not care for me or for the Church, for reasons that are unclear to me – let us call her a pagan potioner we both happen to know- was concerned about a woman and her children who had been abducted by the woman’s violent and abusive boyfriend, a member of a local Satan-worshiping drug gang known as the Devil’s Own. On the possibility the gang’s diabolic influence might be more than just a front, Chance felt I might be able to assist, hence I got the call.
With very little to go on, we went to a bar called Pirate’s Bay, located in Vancouver’s infamous Downtown Eastside, a poverty-stricken neighbourhood where I spend much of my time doing missionary work. While there we learned a little about the gang, but next to nothing about the missing woman, her children, or her boyfriend. We were also confronted by a man from Chance’s past; apparently Chance killed this man Tommy’s brother at some point in the past. As Chance is so clearly struggling to make amends for his past deeds, I intervened on his behalf, rather than let things turn violent; although Chance is to meet Tommy in a more discreet place to “settle accounts”, I am hoping they will be able to do so without Chance having to compromise the spiritual progress he has made these last few months.
As for the matter that first drew us to Pirate’s Bay, we were in luck; a call from the aforementioned Akira, who also happened to be in Vancouver (and claims to be able to speak to the lost dead- those who still wander the earth, rather than finding eternal salvation or damnation) drew us to Stanley Park, where he and Nathanial, an actual bona fide heaven-sent angel (who I shall speak more of at a later time), had located the ritually mutilated form of the poor innocent children we were seeking.
After an eventful trip to the park (an odd encounter with one of Tommy’s lackeys delayed our arrival), we found Akira and Nathanial engaged in trying to close a temporary hell mouth that had been created with the ritual sacrifice of the two children. Invoking the name of our Lord Saviour, I was able to assist in sealing the hell mouth, while Chance kept the otherworldy creatures on the other side at bay with gunfire. Unfortunately, one such entity’s appendage carried with it doom for Chance’s Chevy Impala (affectionately nicknamed Vlad the Impala), which would later lead me to retrieving my mini-van, which in turn helped lead to my current circumstance of dodging a hail of gunfire while a corpse bounces about in the back.
In any event, with the hell mouth closed, I was able to attend to the children, and deliver last rites; Akira has assured me that my ministrations were sufficient to release the souls of the children from their earthly bonds and allow them to find the rapture of Heaven.
A curious man, Akira. Quiet, religious, but in a sense that would once have been looked upon as heathen by such as myself; but of course, not only have times changed, but so to the Church’s understanding of its place in the world. His Grace, Pope Benedict, may have a reputation for sterness, but he has moved us into the 21st Century in a way that I think no one could ever have predicted. And so, though I may not necessarily call Akira friend (at least for the present), I do call him brother.
Raven, on the other hand, remains a different story. Vindictive towards and dismissive of anything to do with Christianity, she is nevertheless religious, practicing some form of paganism. I question (though not within her earshot) the efficacy of her faith however; the purification ritual she performed on the murder site, though eventually effective, was only eventually effective, taking over 24 hours to complete. While I saw little of the ritual (I chose instead to assist Chance in moving his deceased automobile to a new location), I do wonder about the power of a faith that requires one to completely disrobe under claims that artificial fibres “block the flow of energies”, or some such. The simple fact is that man-made or not, all things are through God; therefore all things can be made to work in harmony, and even strengthen each other in coming together as one. It is a concept that I believe Akira understands very well, but which I fear is completely lost on Raven. Of course, to engage her in a conversation around such a topic would be…pointless, to put it bluntly. Perhaps it is her own zealotry that makes her so confrontational; perhaps there is something in her past, a difficult encounter with a fallen member of the Church. Whatever the case, it is clear that any approach on my part will only be met with disdain and hostility. A shame.
But I digress.
Now where was I…