Masks Issue 7: Father Freeman has a visitor [Cutscene]

The metropolitan archdiocese of Halcyon includes not only the city proper, but surrounding areas. A suffragan diocese runs through a portion of the city as well, giving the residents a degree of choice when attending services. Thus, the priest who presides over the church at the corner of Holden and Justice Ave. is familiar with strangers who walk in with questions.

Today’s guest is a young woman - no, a teenager. Father Freeman realizes after a moment that she’s not as old as he first thought. She simply carries herself with a maturity and self-assurance rare for her age. Surely her hair is dyed, but he doesn’t hold that against her. God judges the heart, not the hair.

Well, except for Samson. Freeman allows himself a bit of amusement at the joke.

“Welcome, miss. Can I help you?”

The girl nods immediately. “I have some questions about… about a creator, and my role in his plan.”

Who said kids these days aren’t spiritual? Freeman smiles warmly and gestures to a nearby pew. “God is–”

The girl fidgets. “I’d … I’m sorry, I’d feel more comfortable if we just talk about ‘my creator’. Is that alright?”

“Of course.” Freeman rubs his hands together. At what level should he talk to this girl? He decides to aim at the middle. “Well then. Your creator created you with dignity and rationality. You can act as you will, but the creator wants you to cleave to him of your own accord.”

The girl bobs her head, a look of concentration on her face. So far so good, thinks Freeman. “Your creator offers grace. Through the sacrament, you receive the power to exercise your will, and the guidance your reason requires.”

“Then I’m to love my creator of my own free will.” Freeman’s visitor turns this around. “But I’m made to love him, aren’t I? That’s the plan. I have to freely choose to fulfill my purpose?”

The priest nods slowly. This isn’t the usual line of questioning he gets. Where to park (out back, pull around the corner), what time the softball tournament will start (9:30, please arrive half an hour early if you’re organizing), whether mutants are people (God loves all his creations), that sort of thing. But this isn’t bad. He’s having to think, anticipate, and frame. It’s good. “You are fettered by sin. Your creator wants you to be free. Grace is the key.”

“Grace…” The girl frowns. “Alright. So basically, it has to be my choice. What if I don’t?”

Freeman hates this talk. There’s no happy answer. Either someone wants Heaven for all “good people”, which includes just about everyone except Iron Flag, or someone wants to argue about how it makes God an evil tyrant. He has faith, though. This girl doesn’t seem the sort. He endeavors to be honest, but not too blunt. “It is ultimately your choice. Your creator will not force you to be with him. What will face you is not punishment, but the pain of separation from your creator.”


The girl looks downcast, and Freeman tries to cheer her up. “Free will is a grand gift from your creator. You weren’t just made a robot.”

He apparently said the wrong thing. That flash of anger was unmistakable. But what? No matter. He switches tracks immediately. “What I mean is, depriving you of authority over your ultimate fate would be an affront to your dignity. Your creator made you that way out of love, knowing that you might stray. He will suffer as much as you, if you separate yourself from him. But he would suffer more if he dictated your destiny.”

This causes a flash of pain on her face, and Freeman feels himself at a loss.

The girl clasps her hands together. “But my creator still constructed me a certain way. My abilities, my interests, my potentialities. I feel strongly that I should use these to help people, wherever and however I can.”

Freeman feels immense relief. “Yes, my child, that is what your creator wants. True saving faith is a daily exercise. It’s a work of love that will take your whole life to see accomplished.”

The girl smiles. “I guess I can do that,” she says at last. “Thank you, sir. You’ve been helpful.”

Father Freeman lets out a pent-up sigh, and grins. “I hope you’ll consider attending our services. I would love to talk more with you about these topics, if that’s all right, miss…?”

“Newman. Aria Newman.” The girl waves, heading for the door. “Thanks again!”

author: Bill G.


author: *** Dave H.

This is fascinating. Furiously taking notes.

author: Doyce T.

Unasked and unanswered here is whether demons plug into any existing in-game theology, and the role of any organized churches etc. in dealing with them. But I can imagine us reaching out for some kind of expert advice, if there’s any to be had.

author: Bill G.

Jason, I suspect, both believes in and dismisses “demons” as simply unexplained phenomena. He’s seen too much to be a skeptic that ghosts, demons, magic, etc. exist, but he probably has sets of fancy words (learned from his dad) to classify them, and doesn’t associate them with divine judgment or Manichaean battles of Good vs Evil.

So demons exist, sure, but most probably as other-dimensional entities that can partially cross over into our own, interfere with cognitive processes and flight-fight hormones, and generally act like bullies. They are to be dealt with via force fields and EMP generators, not Latin invocations of Deities and application of water from baptismal fonts.

There is no paranormal or supernatural, just normal and natural that we don’t have the proper referents for. Yet.

At least, that’s his experience.

This will almost certainly lead to an interesting conversation with Ghost Girl at some point. He might even initiate it, once enough flaming chainsaws are no longer being juggled.

author: *** Dave H.

Villains Victorious’s Mr. Big agrees, having explained undead, kaiju, demons, and angels as manifestations of his world’s superpower system.

Here in the real world, we’re only now investigating “hidden sectors”, or domains where particles could exist that don’t interact with most of the fundamental forces. This explanation could hopefully also cover things like dark matter. More here:…

Pneuma came to the church for spiritual guidance rather than help fighting the team’s current opposition (which also lets this conversation have happened at any time). But if there is indeed a “super”-but-essentially-understandable explanation for supernatural phenomena, it’s possible that the traditional guardians against darkness have their own “super” component too…

author: Bill G.

As Pneuma and Numina continue their spiritual journey, they may run into this guy, who’s in NC:

I’m a 20-year ministry veteran trying to figure out how to love people well and to live-out the red letters of Jesus.
I enjoy songwriting, exercising, cooking, hiking, and eating emotionally.
This is a place where I say stuff that I think needs to be said.
I welcome you to say what you believe needs to be said in response, knowing that ultimately the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Thanks for stopping by, and for reading the musings of a flawed, passionate, work in progress.

author: Bill G.

There’s certainly a lot of interesting stuff in the intersection between super-powers, supernatural, AI, and religion – of the frothing and fulminating kind, the covert secret society kind, the nice and thoughtful if sometimes troubled kind, and the use-as-a-leverage-to-temporal-power kind.

author: *** Dave H.