A Matter of Faith

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A Matter of Faith
Date of Cutscene: 15 April 2020
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Synopsis: After chasing Elektra Natchios and reclaiming a reliquary stolen from Our Lady of Victories at St. Ignatius College, Caitlin receives a divine visitation. He puts her on the path towards spiritual discovery and her full potential.
Cast of Characters: {{{Cast of Characters}}}
Tinyplot: A Matter of Faith

With the ninja known as Elektra going the other direction, Caitlin Fairchild relaxes her shoulders a little and starts down the stairs of the abandoned warehouse. The Brazilian favela is full of noise and outrage; the sound of a roof collapsing in the middle of the night has woken a lot of people and their dogs, and everyone is screaming at everyone else to close the noise down.

Caitlin’s mad pursuit of the ninja might have had something to do with the clamour. And the wrecked rooftop. But the reward for her work was, at least, wrapped twice around her left wrist: an ancient and well-loved rosary of humble wood beads and blown glass.

The Amazonian redhead exits through the front door, a little guilty expression on her face as she’s forced to leave it unlocked. A picture’s taken of the address and the building with her phone; surely, it belongs to someone. A request is texted to HOMER, the AI that runs Stark Industries labs.

<HOMER, can you please find the owner of this building? I broke it and I’d like to pay them back somehow.>

<Of course, Miss Caitlin.> The redhead smiles fondly at the near-instant reply from the AI. ‘Doctor Fairchild’ was too formal for as much as she worked with it, but the propriety of the synthetic intelligence was always there. So, a compromise on the first-name basis.

Somewhere between the abandoned building and the church, the lights around here flickered out. Plunging blackness. Then they came back on, one by one. The narrow street was largely abandoned save for a single old man limping along bowed and stooped under several bags of groceries. Elderly, stooped, but pressing on with a slow shuffle. A tin can drops from his bag when Caitlin passes and rolls backwards down the street.

“Sir? Sir,” Caitlin retrieves the can and turns around to jog back towards the older fellow. She taps him on the shoulder to get his attention from a respectful distance away. The can is offered at arm’s length. “You dropped this.” He turns and looks at the can, looks at Caitlin, and grins. A Caucasian fellow in Brazil was not uncommon, but the way he shifts in place on her approach gave Caitlin pause. He was tall, tall enough to look her almost in the eye. Wire-thin with a thick mane of white hair and bulging cheekbones under deep-set eyes.

“I wagered a pocket of sunshine with Lawrence of Italy that you’d give that back to me,” he informs her, and accepts the can placed in his palm. “Therese bet on your side, too.”

“I—I’m sorry, who?” Caitlin says, looking a little flummoxed. The old fellow sets his bags down and stands up, putting palms to his lower back.

“Not important. I wanted to ask you—” A hand waves vaguely at the rosary tangled around Caitlin’s wrist. “What do you intend to do with that?”

The redhead carefully curls her wrist back from the fellow, her expression wary but respectful. “It’s… I’m going to return it to where it belongs,” she says, carefully. “And they’re… waiting for me, so I should…” She twists a thumb over her shoulder and starts backing up.

“That’s what I thought you’d say,” the fellow remarks. “But it’s really not destined to live at the Church of Our Lady forever. Or in some dusty vault in the Vatican.” Caitlin’s eyes narrow at the words and her shoulders tense as she faces off with him.

“Before I frighten you, I should introduce myself.” He bows politely from the waist. “I’m John Vianney.” His accent—rich and distinctly French.

“That…” Caitlin frowns and the tension leaves her shoulders. “I know that name.”

“Sometimes styled the patron saint of the clergy,” he offers, and smiles again. This time, a soft radiance accompanies the expression. Something cool, and pure. A sense of otherworldly serenity brushing against the soul. It's the sensation of stepping into the spiritual shade of a church or finding a copse of natural beauty, hidden from the world. An unmistakeable salve on the soul.

Abruptly, Caitlin realizes she’s not heard the din of the favela for a few minutes.

“Come here, sit with me,” he invites, watching Caitlin’s jaw flop. The old man finds a table to sit at, and heaves the bags onto it. “Not that I’m not grateful for the chance to offer intercession, but the old bones never stop creaking, unfortunately,” he says, ruefully.

“I’m… you’re… it’s…” Caitlin stammers. “Am I … dead?”

“Good Heavens, no!” the older fellow says, and this time an annoyed schoolmaster’s scowl crosses his face. “Really, I thought you were paying some mind. Come. Sit. Please,” he says, and gestures imperiously. Caitlin swiftly takes a seat, the wood creaking protest. “Now. May I examine the Rosary, for a moment?” Dumbstruck, Caitlin slips the beads from her wrist and hands it to the elderly saint.

He examines it with careful fingertips and searching eyes, then turns to Caitlin and holds it up. The reverse of the crucifix sports initials: IR. “Do you know what this Rosary is? I saw it several times in life.” At the shake of her head, he continues, speaking with a scholars convivial interest in a topic that excites them. “It belonged to a woman named Isabella Romee. It was made when she was born in 1396, and then given to her at her Confirmation. In 1410, she married her husband Jacques d’Arc. And when her daughter Jeanne was Confirmed, it was given to -her-. And she carried it with her until she was captured by the English in 1430. Shortly before she was burned at the stake for being a heretic, Jeanne handed this to a sympathizer in the court, who smuggled it out of Compiegne and back to Paris.”

He reaches for Caitlin’s hand, gently upturns her palm, and carefully places the beads and cross into her hand before closing her fingers around it. “We called her La Pucelle d’Orleans', but the English called her Joan of Arc.” At that point, though Caitlin speaks zero French, she realizes that in fact John has been speaking fluent French the entire time.

An expression of overwhelmed shock crosses Caitlin’s face. “This… was her rosary?” she whispers.

“I believe that’s what I just said, yes.” The redhead pinks at the reprimand, but John speaks on. “Listen child—I have little time, and you must attend me carefully,” he tells her. “You are to be tested, because only through trials can we discover our greatness. There are those in this world in need of a strong shield and a swift sword. Someone to protect them from the darkness within and without of the human soul.”

“Who, me?”

“Of course.”

“I—” Caitlin looks down at the Rosary, then up at John Viannay. A literal saint—and one dead for most of two centuries. Sitting across from her.

“Why me?”

“Because you have a heart, child,” John says, with conviction. “Because you have Faith, and Courage both in abundance, and just enough Doubt to never take both for granted. We have been watching you for a long time, Caitlin Fairchild, and today you have shown you are ready for greater tests. For only in testing ourselves can we achieve the greatness we aspire to,” he says, with a firm conviction.

“What-- what do you want me to do?” she whispers, awestruck.

“Go to the Holy Sepulchur in Jerusalem. You are a woman, so you will not be permitted the simple path.” Caitlin makes a face at that, but John presses on. “There is one way available to you. It is a cistern located near the Western Wall. Bring this with you when you swim.” He touches the Rosary. “I can give you but one hint: the light of God parts all paths,” he tells her. “And tell you for certain that this Rosary, it is meant to be yours. Just as it was meant to be Jeanne’s.”

“And—and then what happens?” Caitlin asks, with a perplexed expression.

“As follows all things that have always been, and always will be: the next thing.” John rises. “You have a good heart, Caitlin Fairchild. Do not question why you have it or where it comes from. Trust it. It will lead you to knowing who you are, and who you are meant to be. Your purpose. Purpose beyond the small tasks you've appointed yourself at the Church.”

Caitlin gets to her feet, awkwardly, also. “I… thank you,” she stammers. “I don’t know what to say.”

“Talk to Father Patrick,” John suggests, walking away from the table. “Even the saints need a saint, once in a while. Think. Pray. This is not a reward, Caitlin,” he reminds her. “This is a test to see if you are worthy of more responsibility. The reward for work well done—”

“—I know, I know. The reward for work well done is more work,” Caitlin mutters.

John shakes his head with amusement. “It’s rude to interrupt,” he reminds her, glibly. “But yes. Good luck, Caitlin Fairchild,” he tells her. “God be with you in all things.”

“A-and also with you, Father. Sir. Saint,” Caitlin stammers. She winces.

John just chuckles again and walks into the shadows. The lights dim and flicker once more and when they come back, the noise of the favela is with Caitlin again.

The redhead looks at the rosary in her hand, holding the fragile wood with a careful concern. She stands there in uncertain silence for a few moments, then binds it around her wrist once more and ties it in place before turning her face towards the distant College of St. Ignatius and the Church of Our Lady of Victories once more. With determined strides, she heads towards it.

Only to walk back a hasty half-dozen steps later, collect the bagged goods, and take them with her. There’s a food bank on the premises that’ll take them.

“There’s always time for the small stuff,” Caitlin mutters, and approves her words with a decisive nod before resuming her path back to the distant College.