The sword was about halfway through Red's chest when he realized what
had happened. Red, who, as far as Saint's go, was still a bit green, had allowed
himself to be captured while on a simple reconnaissance mission. He was merely
supposed to find out as much as he could about a certain pedophile-cum-faux-messiah,
but he wound up tied up to a cross with that very same pedophile attempting
to cut him in half. In the process, he'd lost his very special sword, a Holy
weapon that could cut through any inanimate object but would pass through
a living thing without harming it at all- the very same sword Father David
Patrick was swinging through him. Considering he thought of all this in all
of one second, Red was fairly impressed that he'd figured it out so quickly.
Father Patrick had swung the sword in such a way that it had entered Red
at his left shoulder and exited around his waist on his right side. As the
blade passed out of him, Red could feel the cross start to fall apart. His
shirt and jacket, too, had been bisected, and as the arms of the cross fell
away, the rope that had bound him to it tugged at his clothes. With his weight
no longer being supported by them (a task which now fell to his ankles, bound
to the cross's base) he was able to slip out of his sleeves, which fell with
the cross's arms to the floor. Father Patrick's swing was just finishing its
arc as Red, falling over forwards, grabbed his gun from it's invisible holster
and shot through the ropes restraining his feet. Free from the cross, he rolled
with the fall and, landing on his back, immediately pointed the gun at the
stunned priest. Red felt the overwhelming urge to say "Drop your weapon
and come along peacefully," but since his mouth was still duct taped,
he remained mute.
For one split second, they remained exactly in that position, Red aiming
his gun at Patrick, Patrick too stupefied to react, and the entire churchfull
of onlookers unable to lift their jaws off of their little flip-up kneeling
benches, but then Patrick sprang back into action. He swung the sword around
in his hand and plunged it down towards Red. Red's left hand shot forward
palm first toward the sword, colliding hard with the hilt of the blade, stopping
it dead, its blade hidden in his arm. Red was close enough now to make out
Patrick's face, even without his glasses. As such, he savored the priest's
expression as Red yanked the sword out of his grasp and spun it around so
he was holding it normally, careful not to actually touch the blade to Patrick,
spoiling his 'magic'.
The pistol still constantly trained on Patrick's head, Red slowly made his
way to his feet and slipped the sword into its invisible sheath, causing the
crowd to gasp as it disappeared. Red tore the duct tape off his mouth. After
a moment of stretching his face muscles to rid them of the pain, he said, "You
see the truth now, this man is a liar! It is I who am blessed by God! Yes,
God, does protect the Holy, how else could that blade have passed through
me without leaving a scratch?"
"He lies," yelled Patrick, "It was a trick, he-"
"Oh, yeah?" said Red, pushing his gun right up to Patrick's head, "Well,
is it a trick you know? Because I'd love to see you try it."
He assumed that Patrick didn't know about his weapons' special properties.
If he did, why would he try to use Red's sword to kill him? Red was bluffing-
the gun could no more hurt Patrick than could a dirty look, but it paid off
as Patrick put his hands up and said, "Stay back, my people, don't come
any closer! God will protect his only son."
"Oh, will you give it a rest? If I hear one more peep out of you, your
heads going to be far more 'holy', if you catch me." Red crouched down,
his pistol still trained on the priest, and ruffled through his clothing.
He pulled out the two halves of his glasses, and ripping a strip off the duct
tape that had gagged him, fixed them and put them on. Now able to see exactly
how many people were out there looking at him, Red's nervously grabbed Patrick
around the neck and began backing them towards the doorway to the rest of
the building. "Sorry folks, but I'm afraid your local child molester
has to say goodbye now. I recommend you get your children therapy and, I don't
know, convert to Protestantism. Oh, and don't follow us!"
At this point, Red was more than a little impressed with himself. He couldn't
even remember being in a fistfight ever and here he was pulling off some pretty
impressive combat tricks. "Another blessing?" he thought to himself,
doing his best to maneuver the halls of the church.
"Which way is out?" he asked Patrick, jerking him hard by the neck.
Patrick gestured towards a door. Red pushed Patrick into the door, hard enough
to open it. A van had been backed up to the same hatch the frogs had been
dumped into. The back doors of the van were open, revealing a large machine.
One tube from that machine snaked down into the frog chamber. Another was
pointed up in the air. Two guys for whom Red could think of no description
more fitting than 'henchmen' were standing around the van. They pulled guns,
but did not move towards them. Red shivered, the winter air a bit cold for
a topless man. His nipples stung.
"Don't move or this sick bastard gets it!" Red shouted. The pair
did nothing. "Ok, uh… climb down there!"
"With the frogs?" asked one of them after a moment. A large number
of the creatures were gone, no doubt used in the 'plague', but the entire
floor of the room was still covered with them.
"You heard me!"
"Oh, come on, those things are filthy!"
"Do what he says," said Patrick as Red choked him a little harder.
One of the henchmen pulled the tube out of the hatch and they both climbed
"Oh man…" the first one said, "Ugh… you have no
idea how disgusting this is."
"Don't bet on it," Red said, "Now drop your guns!"
"Oh, come on, now!"
"Just be glad I'm not having you stick your heads down there!"
With a sigh, they dropped their guns to the floor, the hopping mass swallowing
them from sight. Around this time people had begun to emerge from the church
hall. Red quickly closed up the back of the van after pushing the frog-shooter
back within, then shoved Patrick in the passenger side door. "Move over," he
said, "You're driving." Red buckled his seat belt. Patrick started
to do the same, but Red stopped him. "No, thanks," he said, "I
don't want you trying anything stupid."
"You're not going to get away with this," Patrick said, starting
the car with the keys that had been left in the ignition.
"You know, what?" Red said, "That's my line. I'm the good
guy. I don't need to get away with anything; I didn't do anything wrong! Now,
step on it!" Patrick shook his head and obeyed. The van took off, the
sound of frogs crunching under their wheels as they weaved through the parking
Argento had been watching Moulin Rouge for the nth time, crying like a baby
as Ewan McGreggor and Nicole Kidman sang their love for one another, when
Red burst into the room and threw Father Patrick on the floor of their hotel
"What the- sniff- what the hell is this?" Argento said, jumping
to his feet.
"One Father David Patrick," Red said proudly, "Positively
confirmed child molester, and most assuredly not the second coming of Christ,
although he does have some sort of mojo working."
"Please, help me," said Patrick. "He's crazy, he-"
"Shut up, you!" said Red, pointing his gun at Patrick again.
"You perfect idiot!" Argento yelled at Red. "Do you have any
idea what you've done?"
"Uh, yeah," said Red, "I've captured a delusional pedophile
with plans to start a holy war."
"Moron!" Argento shouted. He turned off the television and started
pacing around, looking down at Patrick, who had rolled over on his back and
was looking up in fear at the both of them. "Do you have anything we
could use to tie him up?"
"Oh yeah," said Red, "I found this in his van." He pulled
a roll of duct tape out of his pocket and tossed it to Argento.
"Alright, let's get him subdued." The two of them rolled Patrick
back to his stomach.
"Please," he said.
"Oh, do keep quiet," said Argento, "I am trying to think."
They taped his wrists together behind his back, his legs together at the
ankles and hoisted him into the comfortable chair in the corner.
"Just let me go," said Patrick, "I promise I won't start a
Argento picked up the duct tape and pressed an ample piece over Patrick's
"Sit down, Red," Argento said. Red sat on his bed. Argento stood
in front of him and paced. "Now… tell me exactly what happened."
Red proceeded to do just that. When he finished, he sat there satisfied.
Argento turned away from him for a minute. After a quiet moment, he turned
back around, face red, and shouted, "You're the biggest fool Saint I
have ever had the displeasure of meeting!"
"What are you talking about?" Red said, jumping to his feet. "I
stopped the bad guy! I caught him, brought him in!"
"First of all, it was not your assignment to capture him! You were supposed
to investigate the allegations! At best, you could have saved the children-"
"Hey, hey, those 'children' were more interested in 'welcoming me into
their fold' than in being saved!"
"It doesn't matter! It's not your job!" said Argento. "You're
in Interventions! You're supposed to defend the innocent and prevent bad things
from happening, not judge the wicked or punish them! That's what Retribution
is for. All you were supposed to do was get information!"
"He had me crucified in front of his parish and was trying to kill me!"
"It should never have even gotten to that point!"
"Besides, he was going to start a Holy War even if he hadn't caught
me! Now he can't do that!"
"No, now his followers will start it when they come after us to either
rescue him or get revenge! Great plan."
Red started to talk back to him, but found he had nothing to say. He looked
down at his feet.
"You have to think these things through. There are rules; there are
procedures to follow! You're not a super-hero, you're an employee of a very
powerful and Holy organization, and as such you have a responsibility. A responsibility
to our superiors, and to the greatest superior of all."
"This… this total bull. I mean, I was just trying to do the right
"Perhaps the only saving grace of your actions. That and the fact that
it was your first mission after all. Those are almost designed to fail."
Red threw himself on the bed. "So what do we do now?"
"We call Hayden and let him know what's happened. Then we do whatever
he tells us to."
"But I didn't do anything wrong!"
"It doesn't matter! We have to do things by the book, and right now
the title of the book is Call It In." Argento pulled out his cell phone
and let himself out of the room.
Red didn't really like that book.
After an hour of driving with nothing but the 80's flashback for a distraction,
Red almost considered it an involuntary action when he finally shot out his
hand and turned off the radio, especially at the prospect of five more hours
of it. "Jesus Christ!" he said. "Aren't you going to say anything
to me ever again?"
Argento was sitting in the passenger seat, his arms folded. It was dark outside,
black masses of trees speeding by, a sea of red dots in front of them, and
white ones behind. With radio off, the only sound was that of the heater on
"I'm sorry, ok?" said Red. "I'm sorry I screwed everything
up! I'm sorry we're stuck driving instead of being home by now. I'm sorry
if you got in trouble because of it or whatever… I'm just sorry."
"You don't have to apologize," Argento said quietly, still looking
out the window.
"Well, if I made Hayden yell at you…"
"Hayden doesn't yell," Argento said, "That's what makes it
so unpleasant to disappoint him. You can tell, he's really disappointed."
"Well, I'm sorry for that then."
"It's ok," he said, turning to face Red for the first time in an
hour. "I told you, first missions are basically designed to fail. I mean,
they don't expect you to die or anything, but they know you'll screw it up
somehow. They figure you'll learn more from your mistakes than from training.
I thought it might be different with you."
Red glanced over at Argento. "Why different with me?"
"Because, you…" Argento turned away again. "I don't
know, just a feeling I suppose. At any rate, you shouldn't apologize. You
were right, you tried your best. You did what you thought was right and for
the most part it worked out. We're just stuck with this fool for a while." He
gestured to the back of the van. Trying his best not to be thrown around too
much was Father David Patrick. Still fully taped up, he was laying up against
his frog-shooting device, glaring at the pair in the front seats. Every once
in a while, Red and Argento's bags would fall over onto him.
"Where are we taking him?" asked Red.
"I told you. The nearest Rechristening facility is in Ohio."
"No, I mean, what is that?"
"One of the punishments Retributions doles out. Usually, it involves
giving the person a new name or life. Sometimes we'll leave all that intact,
but just change their outlook on life. I'm not sure what they'll do with this
bastard… if I had to guess, I'd say they'll just change his mind, make
him a normal priest, so he can go back to his flock and calm them down."
"So why are we driving?"
"Because you stole his car."
"Sorry about that," said Red.
"It's ok," said Argento, "You had good intentions, and I suppose
that's what really matters. It makes you more effective as well."
"What do you mean?'
"Ah yes. Well, as I said, they don't want things to go perfectly on
your first mission, so they don't tell you everything about your sainthood.
For example, as long as you’re doing the right thing, the Holy thing,
your abilities will be better than usual. It's a built in safeguard, to prevent
anyone who has been chosen from going renegade, using their abilities for
their own purposes, greed or whatnot."
"Has that ever happened?"
Argento laughed. "Of course not. We told you, people like working for
us. We only choose those that we think are worthy, and we don't allow for
mistakes in that process. If you've been chosen, it's going to work out, one
way or another."
Red frowned. He saw a rest stop approaching. "You hungry?"
"I could eat."
"Alright." He pulled the van into the entrance to the rest area.
There was a gas station and a McDonalds. Red steered them over towards the
drive-through. There was a line of cars. "I uh… I figured we should
eat in the car because of you know who." He gestured to the rear again. "Should
we get him anything?"
"I suppose we should… It is a long drive. What do you want back
there? A Big Mac?"
Red could hear an "Uh-uhn," sound from the back.
"What… nuggets?" Argento asked.
"Mmm hmm, mm hmm."
"There you have it. I guess I'll feed him after I finish."
"Unless you want a turn driving," Red offered. The idea of taunting
Patrick with his food appealed to him.
"It's quite alright," Argento replied.
They pulled up to the menu. "Can I help you?" called the intercom.
"Yeah, I'll get a number two," said Red, "Plain with ketchup,
a number four and, what do you want?"
"A Big Mac," said Argento.
"And a number one."
"What would you like to drink with that?" the intercom asked.
"Cokes ok?" Red asked. A racket sprung up from the back. "Ok,
ok, settle down. Diet Coke?" The noise quieted down. "Two cokes
and one diet."
"That'll be thirteen eighty-six. Please drive around."
Red pulled them forward about a foot, behind the line of cars ahead of them
between them and the windows. Argento took out his wallet and pulled out a
"So how did you like Moulin Rouge?" Red asked.
"It was excellent," said Argento. "I don't think there was
ever a film like it."
"Yeah, maybe visually," said Red, "But the script?"
"The script was not important. It was a series of love songs brought
to life against the most interesting visuals in years."
"But it was so predictable," said Red, pulling them forward a cars
"Of course it was predictable," said Argento, "They tell you
exactly what's going to happen right at the beginning. He says she's going
to die, then when he tells the story of the musical they're writing, it's
the plot of the movie."
"And you don't think that's retarded?"
"No, I think it's clever." Argento's cell phone started to ring. "Hold
on a minute. Argento."
The cars pulled forward again. "Thirteen eighty-six," said the
young woman in the window.
"What kind of problem?" Argento said, handing Red the twenty, who
then passed it to the girl.
"Six fourteen is your change," she said, handing the remainder
back to Red.
"Oh my god," said Argento.
"Please pull forward to the next window."
Red put the change in the drink holder next to him and pulled forward as
far as he could.
"Of course," said Argento, "We'll go right away."
"What's going on?" Red asked. Argento tersely held up his index
finger to silence him. Red sighed. "What else is new," he said under
"She's what?" Argento said. "How is that possible?" His
jaw remained open as he fell silent for a few moments.
The car in front of them drove away, and Red pulled them up to the final
"All because of…" said Argento, trailing off.
"Here are your drinks," said a young man with green hair sticking
out from his blue company issued visor. Red pulled out the additional cup
holders in the dash, then he took the drinks.
"Why would she kill herself?" said Argento, "She was always
so much more… I see…"
"Hey, which one is the diet?" Red asked.
"Uh… jeez…" said the green headed one. "I'm not
"It's ok," said Red.
"It'll just be a moment on your food."
"Alright," said Red, sipping the first cup of soda. "Regular," he
said to himself.
"But she doesn't even remember him," Argento said.
"Eeeuch, diet," Red said, putting down the second cup. "How
can you drink that stuff?"
"If you think that's the best plan."
The window opened as the green-haired boy returned. "Would you like
any sauce for your nuggets?"
"No thanks," said Red causing a ruckus from the rear of the van.
"How much should I tell Cain?"
"Alright, barbecue," said Red, "How about telling me everything?" The
Argento covered the Mic on his phone. "Red, please!" He removed
his hand. "Yes, sir, of course." Patrick was still thumping about.
"Make that sweet and sour," said Red. The noise ceased.
"Is everything alright back there?" asked the boy.
"Yeah, it's fine."
"I understand," said Argento.
"Here are you sandwiches and fries," said the boy, handing Red
a large bag. "The nuggets are almost done."
"No problem," said Red.
"Not a problem, sir," said Argento. "We can handle it. Yes,
sir. No, sir. God bless you as well, sir." Argento hung up his phone.
He stared ahead for a moment.
"Well?" said Red. "Are you going to tell me what the hell
is going on this time, or is it company policy to keep everything under wraps
at all times?"
"We're not going to be able to make it to the Rechristening center right
"We have to go to New York."
"Why do they have a better one there?"
"Well, yes," said Argento, "But that's not it… something
has come up."
"So we're going to drive to New York? The city you mean?"
"Where are we going to stop for the night then? Ohio is about half way
"We're not," Argento said. "This is important."
"We have to drive straight through? We'll have another… twelve
hours at least!"
"It doesn't matter. This is important. The two of us will have to drive
in shifts, take turns sleeping."
"And we'll have to drag this chump along the whole way!"
"What part of 'this is important' don't you understand?"
"What could be so important," Red asked, "That we need to
drive for fifteen hours straight with a pedophile tied up in the back of a
"If we don't the world will end, alright?" Argento's face was red
with frustration. "The world is going to end and it's because of you!"
Red turned back to his left to see the green haired boy staring at them.
Red snatched the bag from his hands.
"I didn't do anything wrong!" he said, and drove off.