2.00: The Past

Date: Thursday 18 July 2014ce 1509z
Location: Spartanburg Medical Center, Spartanburg, North Carolina (-0500)

The office belonged to the chief surgeon, but he wasn’t present.

Reverend Robert E Marshal, one of five recently honored to serve as vassal for the Voice of God, made certain of that, having sent him into the ICU burn care unit with a force of will that would, ultimately, lead to questions when said surgeon’s disregard for other patients came to light.

This did not concern Reverend Marshal in the slightest; If the life of the young man in ICU came to an end right then, he would burn the hospital to the ground regardless of any occupants remaining within.

And the body that was Adam Marshal was very close to death; Reverend Marshal could feel it.

Consequently, it was only that connection to his son, the one and only child his corrupted loins would ever produce, that made him certain that the chard and mangled flesh was indeed his son.

And while he had only a few clues regarding what might have happened, those scant hints pointed at one undeniable conclusion.

A conclusion that defied everything he worked hard to ensure.

“How did he do it!”

It wasn’t a question but a demand, a snap of will made at no one, a subconscious effort to force an answer out of the very air.

None would come, though the cabinetry and their contents shook about suddenly just as the door opened.

The round, pig-like man of cartoonish proportions that entered was the only man who could get past the reverend’s private security guards without a fight. The dishevelment of the cabinets, therefore, distracted him for only the faintest of moments.

The man’s name was Doctor Cavanaugh, Reverend Marshal’s personal physician, and he was quite familiar with such displays.

He was, as well, one of the few men that could look the reverend in the eye, though a servant he would always be. But Reverend Marshal knew him to be a loyal one, who had made his allegiance at great personal cost, so it was the undeniable truth of the matter that Marshal saw in the doctor’s face.

“It’s him,” Reverend Marshal said, not needing the confirmation but asking as any father would.

Even for Cavanaugh, the role of loving father needed to be played out.

“Dental records confirm it,” the doctor said.

The doctor understood how crucial Adam was to the plan; In fact, without Adam, there wasn’t much of a plan left.

“How bad is it?” he managed to ask.

Cavanaugh took a deep breath before beginning.

“I’ve never seen wounds like this,” came the answer. “He has third degree burns on seventy percent of his body. The rest is second degree. There are additional wounds on his abdomen, likely made with a giant hook. And there’s…”

“Or claw?”

Cavanaugh considered a moment.

“Perhaps,” he said. “But we’ll need an actual forensic report before anyone could say for certain… But those wounds, they occurred before the burns did. Many of his inner organs were exposed to the flames. Intestines, liver, left kidney. These all received major burns, mostly rendered useless. What’s still working is on the verge of shutting down. Almost everything below the chest requires either major repair or transplant replacement. But even if we were to keep him alive, the damage to his brain is significant.”

Cavanaugh’s report was close enough to what Reverend Marshal already suspected to be devoid of anything truly shocking to him.

Until the final part.

“Brain damage…?” he barely managed to say.

“The entire top and back of his skull was shattered,” Cavanaugh stated. “There are shards deeply embedded in the central sulcus and postcentral gyrus. Lesser shards are in the precentral gyrus and parietal lobe. Brain death is inevitable, if not already a fact.”

Reverend Marshal steeled himself to the reality that his son was no longer an asset, the ramifications immediately clear.

The most obvious was that his sister, with her band of miscreant followers, would abandon him; Adam was the only factor that kept her obedient. She certainly had enough will to keep her people loyal to herself, and even keep them alive for a time, but Adam was the key to long term survival. Her own son was fathered by a lesser breed of man, producing a child of limited potential, and his own choice of mates were proving equally poor.

That, of course, was Reverend Marshal’s doing; The knowledge required to select proper breeding stock to strengthen their line withheld from his sister by his own hand. But she had power of her own, and she could use her brood to strike at him. Without fear of Adam, sent to Idaho to watch over her in the Dakotas, her loyalty would never again be gained through purchase or threat.

“Especially after…” Reverend Marshal muttered out loud.

“Pardon?”

“Nothing,” he replied while shaking his head.

Idaho posed another problem entirely. He had spent decades cultivating an anti-Federalist mindset among the people he had sent there. Adam, through his will, would have easily controlled them. But the world was changing, and once those changes become fully manifest, Reverend Marshal’s reach would not extend far from his own place of refuge. The people in Idaho, fighting for their own safety and security, would not be keen on receiving orders from a man who abandoned them for his own safety on the east coast.

And having started Exodus to Faith Point, the safe refuge he’d obtained for himself with the invaluable assistance of the extremely fat man that stood before him, changing his plans at the last minute presented him with a list of difficulties that would most likely result in chaos and, ultimately, failure.

Yet failure was all that Reverend Marshal could see before him. His own line was at its end, as evidenced by the near-corpse just a short walk from where he now stood. His sister’s line might be restored, but without his direct guidance, it would require a near-perfect genetic pairing combined with divine luck during conception to do the job in a single generation.

He most certainly did not have the time to do it carefully, and her many grievances against him ensured such guidance wouldn’t be welcome unless it was given in complete subjugation to her in payment for his many offenses.

That was never going to happen.

All this was beside the true threat to his continued existence: The Judasborn had risen against him! Strong and defiant, and clearly unrestrained in his infernal vengeance against Reverend Marshal and his family.

But that family had survived since the days of Christ, standing guard against the Antichrist of every age. Even his sister’s life, misdirected as he saw it, was fashioned to facilitate her own survival, knowing full well now what was about to happen.

They were Pauline; Reverend Marshal would not surrender, never admit defeat.

Even if, he knew, the final triumph of the Blood Royal was to go to yet another generation that he may never personally witness.

A generation that would never be born, now that Adam was dead in nearly every sense of the word.

“Unless…”

It came to him like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds of a raging storm.

“He needs to be moved. Tonight. To Faith Point.”

Doctor Cavanaugh couldn’t believe such a request.

“Robert,” the doctor said calmly, one of the few ever allowed to use his first name and yet still only doing so in the rarest of moments. “He’s dying. Even here in ICU, his chances of survival are… He won’t survive the trip. He’s dead already.”

“It must be done,” Reverend Marshal insisted.

He didn’t use his will, but simply projected the pain of a father’s loss to sway the servant.

“Exodus has begun,” Reverend Marshal continued. “I’ll see to it that he lives. And he must be kept hidden from everyone. He’s a John Doe here and will remain so at Faith Point. No one… Absolutely no one can know that Adam is in this condition.”

Those instructions were reinforced with will.

Cavanaugh resisted complying, but it wasn’t a sign of strength; As a medical doctor, his ingrained instinct would have been to refuse. It was with skill that Reverend Marshal applied his will in order to avoid his servant from coming to understand the nature of his enslavement.

Finally, however, the doctor relented. He’d been witness to several of Reverend Marshal’s miracles, unnatural acts far greater than the rattling of cabinetry, and honestly didn’t know if the decision being made was the divinely inspired plan of God’s chosen servant or the desperation of a father.

Such a surprise it would have been for the doctor to learn that he stood in the presence of neither.

“I’ll make the arrangements,” the surgeon said. “But Reverend… I must ask, what’s the point?”

It was the pleading of a friend rather than a servant, an illusion which Reverend Marshal allowed.

“Tell me,” Reverend Marshal said, pulling the doctor closer to him, “are his genitals intact?”

“What?” Cavanaugh responded in stunned disbelief.

Gazing into the future probabilities, Reverend Marshal understood that question to be of greatest import; Only an answer in the affirmative would save him, and his family, from a final and absolute defeat at the hands of the Judasborn.

“Is Adam still producing sperm?”

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