psul's sandbox

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"In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

"Amen." The word echoed through the darkened vault of the cavern, back to the fifty men who spoke it.

The black-clad man on the dais continued. "We have come rejoicing into the house of the Lord for this celebration, dear brothers, and now we stand with these men, and these women …"

Tomàs watched as some of the men walked between the marble slabs, awakening the unconscious women lying atop them. He glanced down at Agent Diego, her green control patch removed, but still not awake.

"… for us this is a moment of unique importance. Let us listen attentively to the word that God speaks to us today …"

The "priest" gave a glance sideways at Cousin Johnny, who said nothing.

"… let us humbly pray to our God, that he lovingly accept them, bless them, and make them always one."

Tomàs looked over to Veronica, who was standing protectively over the young woman she had called Ashy. She tensed as two of the men approached, but as the priest kept speaking, Tomàs saw her body relax, and her eyes fall vacant.

"Dearly beloved, you have come together into this holy place, so that your intention may be strengthened by the Lord with a sacred seal …"

Tomàs realised suddenly that he couldn't move. He watched helplessly as Veronica was dragged away, limp, towards the edge of the circle of lights. The men pulled Ashy upright on her slab, and Veronica's eyes went wide, but she was still and silent. Her captors left her standing next to the Plague Doctor, his arms bound by the animal control noose with which they had caught him.

The dark figure on the podium went on, his deep voice turning Tomàs' limbs to wax. The air thickened, time curdled, and his will with it. He had to stop the mass, save these women from whatever would happen to them, but waves of sound rolled through the chamber, and the flood overwhelmed him. Tomàs tried desperately to think of a way to resist, to interrupt the flow, but without being able to move it was -

An electronic chime, bright and sharp, cut like lemon juice through treacle.

The priest faltered for a second. The chime rang again - it came from Agent Diego's pocket.

The echoes of the voice died away, and Tomàs could move. He reached forward and fumbled with Diego's uniform, pulling out a phone. The agent began to stir.

"Hey!" Tomàs shouted. Anything to stop the mass. "Hey, shit-eater! I think you have a call here."

He glanced at the phone. Two Snapchat messages - how did it even have reception down here?

The man on the dais turned to face Tomàs, frowning. "The Catholic rite does not permit interruptions, Mr. Rey. You should be holding your peace, like these good girls here."

Agent Diego was awake, and moving like she might sit up. Tomàs put a hand on her shoulder, pressing downwards. He needed to let her know he was Foundation too, without these men realising that she was no longer under their chemical control. He needed every advantage he could get.

He called out again. "What are you, some kind of black moon cult?" Tomàs felt Agent Diego tense in recognition of the phrase. Good. Now to shift attention away from her. He strode towards the dais, talking loudly for the benefit of the crowd of men. "

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