We look at each other across the small table. He starts with saying that I know who he is, Friar Francis Magnus. I nod, yes I know who he is. He repeats that he is a member of the Dominican order. I don’t know the significance of this, so I ask. He tells me they are the order of preachers, also known as the Black Friars. As well as spreading the gospel they were formed to combat heresy.
Heresy, the word is familiar but I don’t really know its meaning, so again I ask. As a member of the order of preachers he is eager to teach. Heresy is the corruption of the teachings of the church he explains. I ask is that really an issue in this day of age? And as some fragment of a news story bubbles to the surface, I ask, how does that measure up to the accords being built with other faiths?
I leave the real question unsaid for now.
He continues explaining that the work of the order and that of the Holy Inquisition isn’t as public as it was, but it is still of vital importance to the church. I interrupt him again, the Holy Inquisition? The Holy Inquisition is the body of the Catholic Church that fights heresy. Why two organisations? I wonder.
The Holy Inquisition is the more public face, they deal with the more mundane heresies, such as books claiming that Jesus never died upon the cross and had a family of his own. They also keep an eye on the priesthood, to make sure that sermons are preaching the right message.
Okay, and the order.
The Dominican order’s battle against heresy is of a more secret nature. While the Jesuits tend to deal with the more supernatural manifestations of evil, the Dominicans deal with more human threats.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but a history lesson of the Catholic Church was not high on the list.
Friar Francis continues, combating heresy isn’t just about preventing the corruption of the word of God, it’s also about defending the faith from threats. Some of these threats are often not just a problem for the church itself, but for mankind in general.
Now we are getting to it.
Throughout history there have been individuals that have abilities beyond what the secular authorities are equipped to deal with. The church has spent the last two thousand years dealing with these dangers, in previous ages it was possible to work openly with the authorities, but in this more secular time more discretion is required.
Over the past few hundred years, secret accords have been established with Governments around the world and the Vatican. These arrangements allow the secular governments to pass along individuals that form a special type of threat.
So I am one of these special threats?
He pauses for a moment, unsettles me with the peculiar smile of his. I am, but that isn’t something we are going to discuss today. For now it is best to just understand that the church has measures in place for dealing with people who have unique abilities. Abilities that would make a normal prison a play thing for them.
Again there is that odd little smile.
I’m feeling thirsty again so I ask for a drink of water. Hammond provides it for me a moment later. I drink the small cupful in a single swallow and then ask.
So what happens now?
For now, he says, you are in our custody. There is no right of appeal and as we have demonstrated there is no way to use your powers to escape this prison. There is, however, a way out for me. We won’t talk of it yet. For now I should return to my cell, sleep for the night and in the morning we will discuss things further.
Hammond brings some more water and the Friar places two tablets in my hand. He tells me that I should take them, they will help me sleep. I look at them suspiciously, but what can I do? I could refuse, but I’m sure they would just force me to take them. This is not the time for confrontation, so I swallow them.
I am then taken back to my cell and thankfully it no longer smells like a pub toilet. The cells must be soundproofed as I did not hear any cleaning, but it smells and looks cleans. Against one wall is a cot, with a thin mattress and some blankets. There is even a pillow. In the far corner a potty with a handle has been provided.
Before closing the door the Friar says one last thing to me. “What would you do for a chance at redemption?” After he has left, I slip under the blankets, enjoying the feel and the warmth of them. For a moment I ponder his question. Redemption, I know what the word means, but it has no meaning for me. As I fall into the haze of sleep I can feel myself smiling.
Redemption? They’re going to have to do better than that.