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American Atheist: #17

by Nelly 

Posted: 02 October 2005
Word Count: 4975

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The sun rose above Rome like the single eye of a wrathful god. It heated the waters of the river Tiber. It beat down upon the spires, churches and basilicas of the Vatican, reflecting fire in a thousand windows. The temperature soared. The sun was unrelenting in its fury. The crowds of pilgrims bore its brunt as they ascended Vaticanus Mons – the Vatican hill. Forced to queue like a vast human snake they suffered the worst of the sun’s effects. Bottled water sold in the thousands, cafes and restaurants began to swell with those desperate to find sanctuary. The day promised nothing but misery for all caught within the sun’s withering stare.

The harshness of the day should have had no effect on Bishop Cecilio; six levels below in a world of perpetual electronic light. The temperature remained a constant 21 degrees and he could hear nothing of the noise above. But yet he sensed the rising of the sun. He could feel the passage of the pilgrims as they passed through the square of St Peter’s, each marvelling at the accumulated wealth and age of the building. Most were astonished by its sheer scale and felt pride at the achievements of their fellow man. He wondered briefly what they would say if they knew how much of the Vatican existed beneath the ground. Six levels dug into the lava rock, over two hundred feet below.

Throughout its history the Vatican had always sought to marry science to religion, believing the two should be irrevocably joined. And it was here in these secret levels that those ideas found their way into reality.

He sat staring at one such idea -the Chimera- or rather the bottle it once came in. A faint chemical smell drifted from its top. It was never called Chimera by the scientists that conceived of it. Its official name was Re-agent 10. The Chimera nickname derived from those who observed it in use. It was designed to bypass the mind’s censor, turning the psyche inside out, unleashing a profusion of secrets. The inner circle of the Vatican seldom gave up their information easily. The internal politics of the Holy See were as complicated as they were vicious. Cardinal would play against cardinal in their endless craving for power.

The average dose of Chimera was less than a thumb-full, usually administered through injection, although it could be taken orally.

Unita had been given the whole bottle.

Her secrets should have been laid bare, but it had barely touched her. She resisted its effects, no matter how much he injected. When she finally gave up the story of Sandy Otway, it had been her decision to do so, not the Chimera’s.

Cecilio turned the bottle upside down and watched a single black drop fall to the ground. Why wasn’t she dead?

Father Elia settled himself into the seat next to Cecilio. “Lira for your thoughts Bishop?” he asked.

“Only a lira, you offer little in way of compensation. I thought the Society of Jesus was renowned for its free thinking philosophers.”

“Our free thinking yes -if not our purses,” the Jesuit priest replied with a hint of humour. He looked across to the cell door and his voice dropped. “What should we do next?”

“I’m not certain,” Cecilio admitted. “We need answers, but not to the questions we have been asking.”

“Go on,” Elia said intrigued. “It should have been impossible for her to resist the Chimera.”

“No, not impossible, just improbable. Unlikely, but yet here we are, so we must look to the improbable for the answers. The first solution: she is really a spy, so well trained she is immune to the Chimera and her story of childhood’s end is in fact a fabrication.”

“Unlikely, the details are too precise. What training could counter Chimera?”

“The higher echelons would have stopped it in any case. Chimera serves America as well as the Papal States.” Cecilio shook his head slowly, “This was not the case, she is no spy. So what is she then?”

Elia rose unsteadily to his feet. “Perhaps,” he surmised, “she is exactly who she appears to be?”

“You follow my line of thought well, indulge yourself.”

“She is a pawn in the games of others, that much is certain. A young American schoolgirl arrives in Rome to meet with Iron Maiden, who must have known she would be captured and brought here to the Vatican, but why?”

Cecilio rubbed at his hands, an unconscious habit of his. “It depends on who Iron Maiden actually is?”

“I don’t understand.”

“She bears a close resemblance to Nasargiel -the Jewish angel of the underworld.”

“So she was designed that way. I still don’t see the connection.”

“She matches early descriptions of Nasargiel, it is extremely unlikely that America would have access to those records. They have been a closely guarded secret. And something else,” his voice trailed away, “…she resembles the Other.”

“The Gift,” Elia said absently. “But the Gift’s source is divine, that much I do know, it is the blood of God.”

“Not quite, but you see where I am coming from.”

Elia sighed, massaging the side of his head. “With respect Bishop,” he said wearily, “ I don’t. What’s going on here?”

Cecilio didn’t answer, but then how could he. Elia stood on the edges of the inner circle, unless Cecilio invited him in, he would always be in the dark. He trusted Elia, valued him as a friend and it was precisely for those reasons, Elia would always remain on the outside. One step closer, then he too would be offered the Gift. Cecilio doubted Elia would stand the transformation, even if he did, he would come back changed. A darker reflection of the man he once was.

Abruptly he stood. “Morning has found us further away from the truth than when we first started, I will report to Cardinal Gallo, but in the meantime I need you to do something.”

Elia shrugged, “Anything Bishop.”

“She came to Rome with aid, whether intentional or not. There must be a record, find it.”

As he made to leave, Naldo entered the room, carrying precariously, three cups of black coffee. Cecilio fixed him with a firm stare. “I entrust into your care Unita’s personal safety.”

Naldo twitched and smiled thinly, “Of course.”

“Naldo, I mean to say, I will hold you personally responsible should she come to any harm. I will extract a manner of repayment as fitting to one of my talents.” He held the others man gaze, “am I clear?”

Naldo’s eyes narrowed, becoming two dark points. “Crystal,” he whispered.

Cecilio picked up his cassock and with a final glance at Naldo left the room.


Naldo watched the American girl sleeping through the glass window of her cell. She was young; he realised, no more than fifteen years of age. Attractive, wide eyes, ebony skin with a slender figure to match. Something in the way she lay reminded him of his mother. The flow of her long dark hair, the gentle curve of her shoulders, the soft sigh from her parted lips…


He twisted away from the door, feeling a cold sweat break out across his face and neck. He would not think of her, she was beneath him and in the care of God.

He turned away from the door, hoping that by blocking out the sleeping girl he would forget his mother.

It didn’t work. The image persisted like a lingering ghost. He struggled with the memory, refusing to give in. He could hear her laughter, her cries, even feel the soft touch of her skin. But the more he struggled the worse it became and eventually he forced himself to relax, taking deep breaths and allowing the memory to play out like an old film, casting his mind back over the years to his own childhood and its abrupt end.

In 1938, Naldo watched his mother entertain men from the local village. They were all elderly for the young were conscripted to fight the Polish war effort.

Between the cracks in the old plaster wall, he would scrutinise their antics on his father’s bed, the pale creamy flesh of his mother standing out in stark contrast to the aged yellow skin of her clients. When they were done, the men would give her a gift, not always money, but something to help them get by.

He hated her. But after each man had left, she would come to him, sit on the edge of his bed and patently explain that with his daddy fighting in the front lines, they needed the money, one day he would understand, it wasn’t as if she enjoyed it.

He didn’t believe her. Spying through the gaps in the doorway, he observed the smile on her face, the sighs and gentle encouragement she made when certain men came visiting. She had her favourites, enjoying them as much as they enjoyed her.

He killed two Americans, one-year later. He had been ten. The front line of the Papal army collapsed one fine September morning and America crossed the Baltic, invading Poland. The incursion stretched all the way into Warsaw and the route was the scene of the most savage acts of barbarism the world had ever seen. The Americans operated a ‘reap what you have sown’ policy, butchering villages and towns on their route to supposed victory.

Naldo saw the first of the explosions the following day. Fountains of dark earth were thrown high into the sky, accompanied by thunderous crashes of noise. He knew the Americans were shelling the towns, but wasn’t overly concerned until the next house down abruptly blew apart. Brick, mortar and wood smashing into his garden. His mother had pulled him from the bedroom, taking him to the cellar, insisting he stay there, no matter what he heard or saw. When he started to cry, she had slapped him hard across the face.

“Don’t be a baby,” she admonished.

The shock of the blow silenced his tears and she had left him, closing, then locking the cellar door behind her.

He waited in the dark for an hour, until a gentle rumbling led him to the cellar’s muck-stained window. He wiped away the grime and watched amazed as three tanks lurched into view. Too big to fit into the country lanes, the lead tank tore out great chunks of the hedgerow and the two tanks behind ground the mud in their tracks.

Soldiers clung to their armoured bodies, leering and laughing, rifles in hand. He didn’t like the look of intent upon their faces. When the tanks slowed outside his home, he caught sight of his mother standing in the garden, trembling and begging for the men to spare her life. In answer they dragged her back inside ignoring her frantic cries for mercy.

The tanks had continued on and Naldo ran to the door, listening to the screams coming from his mother’s room. He couldn’t bear to wait in the cellar and slipped the lock to the door. His father kept a shotgun, slung above the kitchen. The cartridges kept in a drawer. His mother would never use the weapon, detesting guns of all kinds, but he had watched his father when hunting game and he remembered clearly how his father had pushed open the twin barrels, ejected the spent cartridges and loaded two fresh ones. He did so now, slotting one in each barrel.

Reassured by the weight of the shotgun he had walked into the bedroom and watched the American soldiers tearing at his mothers clothes, grabbing roughly at her breasts, forcing back her head, thrusting open her legs. He had shot the first one without really thinking it through. Just aimed, pulled back one of the triggers and blew him from the bed into the far wall.

The man died in an instant.

The second soldier had taken longer. Making a desperate play for his own gun, but with his trousers around his ankles he had slipped and fell to the floor.

Naldo pulled the second trigger, punching a hole clean through the American’s skull.

While his mother cried with relief, pulling back her ragged clothes, he broke open both barrels, ejecting the spent cartridges. She noticed when he slid two more in their place.

“For God’s sake, you don’t need the gun anymore,” she shouted.

God,” he had screamed, “isn’t looking down at us today, Mamma. This is a place of sin and He has nothing to do with you or I.” He levelled the gun at her. “Father would not have you now. You’re damaged goods.” She gave him a look of blank amazement and he pulled both triggers.

Naldo had fled into the night, never once looking back to the life he left behind. On the border town of Szczecin, he had tried to cross into Germany.

Szczecin was under curfew. Men found in the streets at night were shot. He had been desperate to get across the American lines, falling in with a Jewish boy, Daniel, who like him wanted to flee Poland and seek sanctuary deep within the Papal territories.

They crept across town, hoping to hide within a truck, but had been caught peeling back its canvas flaps. A soldier came running across the street, shouting in thick accented American for the pair to stop. Naldo did so straight away, but Daniel ran, bolting for the nearest ally. He never made it, the soldier almost cutting him in half with a short burst of machine gun fire. Naldo would have shared the same fate, if not for the soldier needing help to carry Daniel’s body across town. A difficult task as Daniel was near split in two. He was arrested and saw out the rest of the occupation in a cell.

Six weeks later, the Papal States signed an agreement with Germany and the Luftwaffe was seen over Polish skies. America was forced to retreat and Germany was hailed as liberators when they marched into Warsaw.


Unita had woken from a deep slumber, uncertain of where she was. Her face felt sticky and swollen, her jaw ached and her left eye was partially shut. When she touched her nose, dry encrusted blood fell to the floor. Gradually an assortment of memories returned, many of which didn’t make sense, to make matters worse her head pounded as if she had drank more of Zohar’s sherry.

She could clearly remember talking to Mrs Denver, but that was absurd, the likelihood of the teacher being here in Rome was remote to impossible, the chances of Mrs Denver’s being an Italian spy even more unlikely. It just didn’t make sense. She ran back over the encounter, slowly piecing together the other woman’s words. But they didn’t add up. Something was dangerously amiss and she was uncertain of what it could be. There was so much she didn’t understand.

Cautiously, she examined her surroundings: A plain room with four white walls and just one door, a small glass window set in its centre. A jail she concluded. There would be no escape from this.

She glanced back to the window and gasped. Behind the glass a pair of narrow eyes regarded her, like those of a rodent-cold and intensely calculating.

Slowly the handle turned and the door opened. A man stood there, hands held out before him, his oversize nose twitching as he stepped inside. She knew by the way he held himself, his wary glances to the room outside, that he was not supposed to be there.

She sat hunched in one corner, picking at the scab that formed over her bloody nose. Gradually, trying not to draw attention to the act, she drew her legs beneath her.

The man closed the door then leant back against it, his beady eyes studying her, lingering over her face, neck and breasts. She tried not to flinch.

“Who are you?” She asked, surprised at how brave she sounded.

“Naldo,” the man responded, then licked his lips. “"Should people cheat God?””

“I’m sorry,” Unita said confused.

““Yet you have cheated me,” Naldo continued. “”You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do, I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not shrivel before they are ripe."”

Unita recognised a Bible quote when she heard one; sections of the book were open to discussion groups at Nonchurch, where the class were actively encouraged to find its hidden meanings. Unita had actually enjoyed reading the excerpts, finding the Bible the most violent book she had ever read, still years of schooling could not be denied and stubbornly she said. "Funny how he can’t feed himself.”

“It is not too late for you, God can be merciful, if you repent.”

“Drop dead.”

“”The Lord is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and wrath. He takes revenge on all who oppose him and furiously destroys his enemies! The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet.””

Unita tried one herself. “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."

Naldo jerked his head back shocked.

“Karl Marx,” she said with a smile.

“Blasphemer,” Naldo snarled, “I could kill you and be done.”

“Then stop talking about it.”

For a moment Unita thought that he would.

Voices floated from the room beyond, and she realised someone was coming. She thought quickly. “Better be fast, they won’t like you being in here.”

He trembled, his eyes darting towards the door. “You’re not worth the effort they are spending on you,” and strode from the room.


Cardinal Gallo’s study was part library, part scientist’s laboratory. Offering equipment that was simply not available anywhere other than the Vatican. His personal library contained hundreds of books that lined the walls in expensive oak cabinets. Placed across the vast tiled floor upon marble plinths were artefacts and relics, symbols and art, several of which Cecilio recognised as priceless works of masters.

In stark contrast, a large bulky looking computer chugged away in one corner. Cecilio had no time for electronic devices. He had been shown from time to time, even told they were making leaps in science that simply wouldn’t be possible if not for the Other. It didn’t matter; he still could not fathom out their use and as such dismissed the whole concept as irrelevant, little more than a passing fad, which would soon die out.

The Cardinal poured tea into two china cups, watching the dark liquid swirl around the base. He glanced over to Bishop Cecilio, “Lemon?” He asked.

Cecilio appeared not to have heard. Gallo took both small cups, joining Cecilio by the windows. Below, crowds of tourists surged through the streets of the Vatican.

He nudged Cecilio’s hand and the Bishop looked up shocked. Gallo handed him the tea; “It’s better with lemon.”

Cecilio glanced down at the cup, smiling. “Yes…more pure I feel.”

Cardinal Gallo stared out over the rooftops of Rome. “Ming china,” he said casually, “Expensive, an antique.” He took a small sip of his tea, “fits right in with the other relics this city has gathered.”

“Surely, you don’t feel that Rome is antiquated?” the Bishop asked.

“I’m surprised to find you don’t share those same feelings,” the Cardinal replied. “No, much of Rome has outlived its purpose. The medieval quarter should be torn down, in its place we should build something of the time, of what Rome has come to represent.”

“And what do you think that would be, your Eminence?”

“Why power of course.”

Cecilio sighed and turned away from the window.

“Why do you keep that form,” Gallo said, his eyes narrowing, “it is old, be done with it and choose another.”

“You would not understand.”

“Careful Cecilio,” the Cardinal warned. “There is a great deal I understand. I would like to hear it from you however. I know for example, that the broken flesh you now wear, has a passing resemblance to the man you once were, and had your life run a more …natural course…then this is what you may have become.”

Cecilio said nothing.

“You are deluding yourself. You suffer none of the effects of old age, the failing of your body -your true body that is.” He tapped the side of his head, “You would lose your mind, your memories, becoming a shell of the person you once were. Trust me the Gift has done you a favour.”

“None of us are immortal, Cardinal, eventually even you will die.”

Their eyes locked, all pretence at civility draining away. Finally with a snarl, Cardinal Gallo said, “Report.”

Cecilio took a deep breath, steeling himself for the worst.

“I’m afraid to report, your Eminence, the girl you have brought before us is immune to the Chimera.”

Gallo’s response was unexpected; he smiled and crossed the room. “You must have theories of why that is?”

“I believe she may have been exposed to the Gift.”

That stopped Gallo in his tracks, he turned to face him. “Impossible –how,” he demanded.

“She talked about her father. There was an element of mystery surrounding him. He appeared to have been in two places at once. Both at the bottom of the Mississippi and in a remote town in America, as if he were a spirit or mythical creature of legend.” He met the Cardinal’s gaze. “Did the Pope sanction agents of the inner circle into America?”

“Of course. Their main purpose to spread dissent, start rumour, spy on the spies, make sure the world is running the way it should.”

“Then this would explain her abilities, but not how she came to Rome.”

The Cardinal waved a hand in dismissal. “It has happened before. Over the years, the sexual appetite of a cardinal, a bishop, even the Pope have led to, how would you say…complications.”

Cecilio thought on this and then it occurred to him what the Cardinal was suggesting. “You mean pregnancies,” he whispered.

“Of course, outside of the labs there is no real way of knowing what the Gift would do to a child. It might prove to be unpredictable, may reveal one of the Great Secrets. We could not allow that, so they were taken care of, best to err on the side of caution don’t you think?”

“Wait,” said Cecilio, “you said outside of the labs?”

“Really Bishop, you are naïve. The Vatican has been home to more secrets than even you are aware.”

“What did you do with the children?”

“They were destroyed,” Gallo said coldly. “They proved either to unwieldy or ineffectual. Human beings it seems are poor conduits in the transfer of the Gift.” The Cardinal arched an eyebrow. “You’re not feeling emotional?”

Cecilio refused to give the other man the pleasure.

“Really, you are a sad beast, clinging onto your humanity the way you do. Remember what you are, how far you’ve come!”

Cecilio slowly curled his hands into fists; he took a deep breath, allowing his frustration at the Cardinal to fade. He could not, would not, argue with this man. “What would you have me do with her?” He said at last.

“The half breed? If she is not a spy and cannot be converted, then destroy her.”


Hello, hello can you hear me. Please can you hear me, can you hear what I’m saying.” The tape recorder crackled with dust and the microphone whined, but the speaker remained reasonably clear.

Cecilio looked up from the device and over to Elia, who grinned like a child.

“What are we listening to?” He asked.

“Don’t you recognise the voice?” Naldo murmured, “it’s her, the American.”

Listen. Please, I’ve been kidnapped. I’m on board a Vatican Nightime flyer, he’s trying to take me back to Rome.

“Where did you get this from,” Cecilio said amazed.

“Searched the archives, it came through a transit ship two days ago.”

It’s not a joke, I’m not joking. I’m on board the Cardinal’s plane, he kidnapped me instead of Bobby, Bobby’s dead, so he chose me instead. They fought, the Nonfather and Angelo, but the Nonfather lost, he was tricked into killing his son and..."

“Who is Angelo?” Cecilio asked, looking to Elia, but it was Naldo who answered.

“A cardinal, I met him only a couple of times, a young man, yet to be tested.”

“What happened to him?”

“Dead,” Elia said, “His plane crashed in America and was delayed coming back for a day, then went down over the Atlantic, the same transit ship found his remains bobbing around in the water like a cork.” Elia looked hard at Cecilio, “His head was bereft of his body, blasted off at the neck, the wound cauterised.”

“By an intense heat,” Cecilio pondered, “but what could have caused it?”

Elia smiled. “Not what, but rather who?”

Cecilio easily followed his friend’s line of thought. “Of course the answer has been there all along, Iron Maiden is the missing piece of this puzzle.”

Running with the idea, Cecilio continued to speak, his voice speeding up with his excitement. “So Angelo captures Unita and tries to bring her back to Rome. He must have known, guessed there was more to her than first met his eye, as I can sense a cardinal he in turn must have known she was touched by the Gift. Unita managed to gain control of the Comm link, broadcasts this message, hoping to be rescued, but it’s none other than Iron Maiden who turns up.”

Elia carried on where Cecilio left off. “Who must have brought Unita to Rome, then abandoned her to us. Why? Returning one of our own to the flock, or is this an attempt to gain access to the Gift. Surely it can’t be the later, we are protected by not just the physical, Iron Maiden would know that, any attack would be repulsed.”

“So she is using Unita then,” Naldo finished. “We should destroy her before what ever plan this Iron Maiden has bears fruit.”

“No, Naldo we will not.” Cecilio said sternly. “We are in the business of saving souls, not damming them. Unita has started this great odyssey and has almost reached her goal, what say we help her come to the final objective?”

Naldo’s face went red with anger. “Show her the Source, the Other, are you mad? That is precisely what this Iron Maiden wants. We should kill her.”

“No, we will convert her.”

“She is an atheist, a life of brain washing cannot be undone by us three in one day.”

“We will give her the evidence that she so desperately requires. We will prove to her the existence of the divine.”

Even Elia was shaking his head. “I’m not sure about this bishop.”

“She has already come into contact with the Gift.” Cecilio explained, “How else do you think she survived the Chimera? Her father, this Jeremiah, was one of the inner circle, his seed carried with it the Gift.”

“Even more reason to do away with her, half-breeds are unpredictable,” Naldo spat.

“You knew?” Cecilio said, shocked at Naldo's words.

“Knew what?”

“The experiments on the children, the pregnancies.”

“Yes of course, no different to the horrible games you played out here over the years Bishop.”

Elia stood up, his face trembling with rage. “That is enough Naldo.

Only at Elia’s request did Naldo stop, he cast a final furious glance towards Cecilio and fell quiet.

Cecilio watched him for a while. Naldo’s breathing was short and he wiped at his forehead with the cuff of his sleeve. He considered picking up the argument where Naldo had left it, to explain that his work was done in the name of God. But the argument was without sustenance, it had no merit and more importantly it wasn’t true. He decided to let it go, Naldo would either work with him or he would let him go, he did not have to explain his actions to this broken man.

“Tell me more about Angelo?” He said to Elia. “Naldo would you be so kind as to take a seat.”

Naldo did not look up and crossed the room before dropping down into a chair.

Elia cleared his throat, “Young, came from a poor family, worked his way up through the ranks by sheer naked ambition and a close friendship with two members of the inner circle.”

“Well connected is all you need these days,” Naldo said sardonically, “not like the old days, not like it should have been.”

They chose to ignore him. But Cecilio was already having serious doubts at the validity of keeping Naldo involved in this operation. “What happened to the body?”

“Brought back and kept in storage, until the proper funeral arrangements can be made.”

Cecilio smiled. “Excellent. Elia I want you to speak with Unita. Let’s go for full disclosure. Nothing but the truth.”

“What about yourself?”

“I have…other ideas.”

Cecilio gathered his cassock around him; “I may be gone for a while. Trust in God to provide.”

Naldo rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “Always,” he said.


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Comments by other Members

paul53 [for I am he] at 14:54 on 03 October 2005  Report this post
Great stuff. This just keeps getting better and better.
Only a few minor points:

Soldiers clung to their armoured sides,
Better if the soldiers "clung to their armoured bodies" as I see them being swept under the tracks.
His father kept a rifle, slung above the kitchen. The rounds kept in a drawer. His mother would never use the weapon, detesting guns of all kinds, but he had watched his father when hunting game and he remembered clearly how his father had pushed open the twin barrels, ejected the spent cartridges and loaded two fresh ones. He did so now, slotting one in each barrel.
The rifle sounds like a side-by-side shotgun. If so, call it a shotgun, and the ammo as cartridges or shells, but never rounds.
“Yet you have cheated me,” Naldo continued. “You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings …
As he is quoting scripture, this is best shown in double quotes, so:
“‘Yet you have cheated me,’” Naldo continued. “‘You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings …’”
or done in italics.
“Surely, you don’t feel that Rome is antiquated?” The Bishop asked.
?” the Bishop
Keep it coming.

scarborough at 20:57 on 03 October 2005  Report this post
hmm, an interesting change of pace. I like the way that you've used a fresh character's perspective to widen the picture, and I'm enjoying wondering where this is all leading.
One thing I would say is that I think the flashback is a little random at the moment.
'In 1938, Naldo watched his mother entertain men from the local village' makes it sound like '1938' is a village down the road or something. perhaps some line of reflection about Naldo's origins from him or his superior might lead into this segment a little better?

Nelly at 22:51 on 03 October 2005  Report this post
Scarborough and Paul,

Cheers both for having a look through, all valid points and shall have a good edit through to reflect them.

With the rifle/shotgun I visualise a big blunderbuss type affair, but I am guilty of not researching guns, something I had meant to do, but somehow it slipped to one side in my haste to get this chapter finished.

Scarborough I completely agree with the flashback, it was originally the start of the next chapter and much longer in content. I felt as if it is a bit sudden when in context with the rest of the upload but wasn’t sure whether it was just myself getting too close to my work.

Actually this whole chapter seems hasty to me, after uploading it I noticed several mistakes when reading back through. I think I need to learn to relax with the book and try not to bang out chapters on some kind of mental schedule I've got wrapped up in my head.


Patsy at 03:50 on 04 October 2005  Report this post
Hi Neil,

Just finished reading.
I was glad to find that Unita was not done for! I must admit I was worried she'd have mush for brains after the previous section and the description of the Chimera. You played the opening very well, with talking about the dose, and the empty bottle.

This entire section made me wonder what else was going on down there under the Vatican, but it also made me afraid to find out!

I'm getting an odd vibe from Cecilio. I feel that he almost regrets his "gift". It's like he walks in two worlds. He enjoys power, but yet he still "feels", and regrets, and longs for the life he had before this one. He shows bits of compassion that lurk deep down in his soul. You write him very, very well.

Naldo gives me the creeps. He reminds me of a young Hitler. Someone cranked his bolts a bit too tight at some point in his making. I get the feeling that he's going to snap, and go out of control at any moment.

Elia is harder to read. He seems to be a good friend of Cecilio, and a guard dog for Naldo, but what he really thinks about anything is veiled.

Found one thing to check near the end:
Even Eila was shaking (her) head. "I'm not sure about this bishop."
. . . (his) head. "I'm not . . .

I liked this section as we get deeper into the vatican. I can't wait to see what Cecilio is going to show Unita, or to find out Iron Maiden is really up to, or what she really is.

Patsy :)

Nelly at 00:24 on 05 October 2005  Report this post
Thanks again Patsy,

I'll edit in your point and everyone else's with some spare time I have tomorrow.

Elia and Naldo have history, which is why Elia can exert some control over him for now. I had planned to go further into that in this chapter, but have decided to set it back for the next one instead.

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