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Catstacker

Magna Verita

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You would never expect such a powerful man to be found alone in such dark, austere surroundings. Wrapped in cold grey stone and lit by only a handful of guttering candles, the secluded chapel was hardly suitable to receive the father of the Holy Church, and uncontested ruler of Magna Verita. But here is where the pontiff was when the glorious news arrived.

 

“Your Holiness…” a wavering tremor of a voice dared to interject into the Holy Father’s prayers.

 

The eyes opened, the inner contemplation ceased, “What is it, Father Durand?”

 

The young attendant-priest took some solace in not being instantly subjected to the Pope’s most sudden and wrathful temper for such an unorthodox intrusion. He wanted desperately to continue delivering his extraordinary news, hoping somehow that The Holy Father Jean Malraux I could sense the urgency of his report—possibly the pontiff, in all his power, already knew the details.

 

Durand shook his head to clear away the meandering thoughts, “Grand Inquisitor Palliere’s scouts have returned, Your Holiness. They confirm the heathen Gaunt Man’s claims to be true. The planet called Earth does exist, and is in fact inhabited by the faithful…at least to some extent.” Malraux frowned at the insinuation of faith. The young priest bowed his head, reassuming the hesitant, subservient cadence that his master was accustomed to, “They certainly lack the true light of God of course, and are fractured in their beliefs, Your Holiness. But there is some semblance of Christ-worship, and as you have proven in past crusades, this works to our advantage.”

 

Malraux sighed, complacent in his underling’s simplicity and loyalty. “Yes Father, it most certainly does. To bring the heathens out of darkness and into the hallowed light of Mother Church, it helps that they have the rudiments of faith already burning in their hearts. But it is no matter: they are heathens all the same, and never once has their pitiful ilk been able to resist God’s will.”

 

“May His will be done, Your Holiness”

 

“Now leave me to my prayers, Durand. Summon Cardinal Palliere to come before me, and give word to the rest of the council that the crusade commences as planned.”

 

The priest bowed and with a reverberating thud closed the heavy oaken door of the chapel and scurried away to do his master’s bidding. Pope Jean Malraux I returned to his prayers gazing up at the stained glass and dull marble with a slight grin of satisfaction, as his inner mind returned to its revelry…

 

God the father, savior and bringer of all enlightenment, bless thy mercy in allowing me, your humblest of servants, the honor of bringing your holy radiance to the cursed and the wicked who would not otherwise know it.

 

Bless thy virtue, and with it as my sword, allow me to slay those who would refute it. Give me the power to show them that eternity in hell is their only alternative to submission.

 

And finally my lord, bless thy wisdom. In its greatness, you have chosen me to bear the Ebon Cross, and together--as one--we shall spread that wisdom throughout the cosmverse, smiting those who resist us in sacrilege, blasphemy, and witchcraft.

 

Amen. End program.

 

 

* * *

 

 

The VX image faded as Jean Malraux removed the cable from the jack behind his ear. The text of his prayer began scrolling across his field of vision for editing as the words were automatically transcribed to a datachip housed beside the EpiphaNeur jack. After deleting 'End program' Malraux called up the location of Grand Inquisitor Palliere’s homing device, which showed the Cardinal diligently hurrying to this very location. The Cyberpope did not really need to display this information upon his inner-eye: Cardinal Mark Philippe Palliere was renowned for his dedication and obedience to the Church, as was his ruthless execution of Her directives. The usefulness of such a man would be etched upon Malraux’s mind even without the neural enhancements and boosters that helped him plot new and ever more sinister errands for his most trusted disciple.

 

After dispensing with the usual protocol, Palliere began “Your Holiness, I trust that you have received my advance team’s report?”

 

“Yes I have, Mark Philippe. It is promising to say the least. What of the Gaunt Man’s claim of ‘near limitless power’ that is to be found on this world of Earth?”

 

“My scouts tell me, Father Malraux, that the Gaunt Man’s claims are not exaggerations. The leader of the expedition, a Knight with no less than six Holy Crusades experience, assure me that there is more power on Earth than he has ever seen before. His words were, ‘the energy is almost palpable there, and only the rapture of God’s enlightenment prevented it from being paradise.’”

 

Even still the Cyberpope looked unconvinced “Yes, I took the opportunity of downloading the full debriefing while I waited for you. I find it hard to believe that such a world exists. We would be wise to continue with our plans cautiously until we better understand this world and our new Allies.”

 

“Of course Your Holiness, I will redouble my prayers for guidance and wisdom as we proceed.”

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Yes, I am doing a tech-surge'less papacy. A papacy where the tech axiom is well-understood, and utilized. Possibly even a papacy with a few more points of social--as well, if allowed--to accommodate for the vast amount of telecommunications.

 

Other than that it's the same old diatribe, complete with most likely an Avignon bridgehead. Although I will think about looking elsewhere if Europe looks like it is going to be crowded.

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Very interesting! The Torg rules place telecommunications firmly within the Tech axiom (though I agree there should be a Social requirement for certain applications,) so Social 18 should be enough for your needs, and I think you've got the feel of their society alright.

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Percy is once again at his evening shift. His fathers taxi service still works fine despite the disruptions from the struggle between the new Pope and the secular government of the US and there is much work to do. He doesn't really get those new gadgets they build in all the new cars nowadays, especially after the Pope proclaimed that technology brings one closer to god or something; he's just comfortable in his old but sturdy Mercedes. His next fare is to the Citronelle restaurant; one of the best in french cuisine they say. Not that he'll ever get a table there. But this nice guy with his girlfriend somehow managed to eat there for their 10th year. That he knows them already and asked them if they'd like to eat there is just a minor detail; they most likely don't even have to pay, important is only that he got a reason to be in the vicinity.

 

He lets them out at the restaurant and parks in the side-street at the kitchen entrance. Nobody bats an eye as he changes clothes in the cab, waits about half an hour and then walks through the kitchen. Nobody stops him, even as he clearly doesn't belong here; some even nod at him. Suddenly he bursts through the kitchen door into the main room.

 

Clothed in light blue and silver, with even a cape and a face-concealing mask that looks a bit like a silver helmet he goes straight for the table where the elderly Bishop Simmons is seated. The bodyguard wastes no time to draw his weapon, but gets interrupted as the massive Percy throws a table at the bodyguard showering him with fine coultry and food, not to metion slamming the table itself into him and burying him under it.

 

Percy goes straight for the bishop and grabs him at the collar and shouts: "Your damn false pope won't stay long here! You tossed the real bishop out of his church and forced everyone to accept you with your thugs! You went for the Congress and the President even! Prince Charming won't just stand by and allow that, even when WWE, ECW and TNA just fled there are a few still left who will fight you! We..." at this point though the bodyguard scrambled from below the table and shot at him, hitting him square in the side. With an angry "ahk!" he only punches the Bishop once in his face and throws him straight at the bodyguard, both lying stunned in a heap. But there was no time to waste, running back through the kitchen.

 

By the time the Papal guard arrives, the assailant is nowhere to be found, and nobody thinks anything about questioning the simple taxi driver who takes a pair of shocked diners away as fast as possible...

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