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Gizmo

The Church of Swordology IC

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Erik Espadas tugged uncomfortably at the collar of his dress shirt as his sister helped their mother wheel herself off of the bus and onto the sidewalk. "Is this really necessary?" he grumbled as the trio started off toward St. Stephens.

 

"What, running around in tights makes you too good to go to church with your mother?" Gina Espadas countered from her wheelchair. A dark haired woman in her mid forties, she's made a point of maintaining her athletic build regardless of early retirement. Though her features weren't quite so angular as those of her two children, it was clear where they had inherited their mannerisms.

 

Her son winced. "Jeez, Mamá, trying to keep somebody out of the loop on that, y'know?" The young swordsman was still adjusting to the new situation with his family and secret identity as Jack of all Blades.

 

"Nobody's around to hear," Ellie countered, stifling a yawn and absently smoothing a crease in her black pants. "Everyone else is asleep at this hour." With her hair cut shorter and dyed dark, the resemblance to her mother was considerably more pronounced.

 

"You'll live, dear," Gina opined wryly, easily rolling herself up the church's ramp.

 

"Late nights," Erik stated, holding the broad door open for the ladies. "One more reason to rethink this 'sidekick' thing, hermanita."

 

Ellie responded with a snort as the family entered the building. "That's 'partner', hotshot."

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Inside, the church was more crowded than they'd anticipated. St. Stephens was an older congregation in many ways, both in terms of the church itself (which had stood since the Colonial period and been expanded on heavily) and the generally older congregants. It was the sort of place where new arrivals got a friendly hello, mostly from nice blue-haired ladies wearing rainbow badges and sensible shoes. But besides the older folks, there was a good sprinkling of younger people and kids: as far as Erik could judge from his experience, this was a healthy, thriving church. It helped that there was an ANGEL doing door-greetings, a flash of the spectacularly divine in the mundane settings of a church lobby. "Hello! Welcome to St. Stephens!" The avatar of Heaven's justice and mercy sussed out the family relationship in a hurry; shaking Gina's hand, then Erik's, then bowing to Ellie. "It's always nice to see new faces here. My name is Heyzel, I'm one of the ushers. Is there anything I can do to help you?"

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The Espadas family thanked Hayzel before moving off to the end of a pew toward the back of the church which Gina could pull her chair up next to. "Kinda gimmicky, isn't it?" Ellie whispered, arching an eyebrow and stealing a quick glance back at Hayzel.

"Actually, I met that guy once," Erik admitted, rubbing the back of his neck and shrugging. "He's, well, I mean... the wings work, anyway, and he does this, like, celestial choir thing that's just... I dunno, he's more or less on the up and up."

His younger sister gave him a sidelong look, trying to figure out if he was pulling her leg or not. "...bull."

From next to her, Gina gave Ellie a light swat on the back of her head, reminding her, "Language."

Erik spread his hands. "Hey, I got killed by real demons once, so it's not like --"

"You what?!" Gina interjected sharply while Ellie covered her eyes with a gloved hand in exasperation.

"I, uh, I got better," the elder sibling explained weakly as a few of the other people in the church looked over at their whispered conversation.

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The service was an easy enough one to listen to, perhaps because it neither told the congregants they were wonderful people in a world of sinners, or damned them all to hellfire if they didn't put money in the collection plate. They sang old hymns while the massive old pipe organ played, the little kids came up to hear a message about how David and Jonathan loved each other as very best friends, and the pastor gave a talk about the church's volunteer work with prisoners and their families over at Blackstone Federal. Sharp-eyed Erik easily spotted Heyzel, the angel sitting attentively in the front row, and it wasn't hard to tell that quite a few people were there for the angel of Freedom too: the pastor had had to gently remind everyone not to take flash pictures during the service, but that didn't stop people with cellphones.

Just as things were winding up, though, Erik felt a tingle at the back of his neck: danger! The older folks were just starting to pass out the collection plate when suddenly the rear doors burst open, chunks of antique oak flying everywhere as a foul field entered the picture! The congregation screamed as one as a shambling monster hobbled into the sanctuary: a pustulant assemblage of stitched-together bodies that looked like a cross between Frankenstein's Monster and Chunk from The Goonies. "Deathstar Smash!" it howled from its several mouths. "Get Revenge on Church!"

The angel of Freedom was on his feet in an instant, flaming sword in his hand as wings spread out behind him as he stalked fearlessly towards the shambling undead half again his size. "I would greet you with mercy, but you have chosen to enter my home with violence! Wretched abomination, thou will begone from this place and these innocent souls!"

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"Well," Erik deadpanned as he hastily leapt from his seat and maneuvered his mother's chair away from the shambling beast, "we probably should have seen that coming."

Gina swatted at his hands as Ellie ran up beside them, turning herself around with practiced deftness. "I can take care of myself, get to work, both of you!" she chastised. "And don't you dare let this freak make you look bad!"

"Best madre ever," Ellie declared with a broad smirk, kissing Gina quickly on the forehead then dragging her brother behind an outcropping in the church's architecture before he could begin to argue.

Moments later, as Hayzel finished delivering his righteous ultimatum, a pair of matching figures in royal blue and crimson leapt forth, the grinning swashbuckler perching nimbly atop a pew while the coltish young woman hung back, hands glowing with energy as pale blue force fields appeared between the horror and the churchgoers. "You heard Tall, Light and Wrathful! I'm Jack, this is my sister Jill, and buddy, your name is mud."

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Freedom Angel didn't hesitate a moment when the two heroes leaped to his aid, and thought nothing of where they'd come from. Of course heroes would be in a church rescuing the worshipers there for an evil undead monster; where else would they be on a Sunday morning. "Aye! Together, we shall smite you and your dark master! Tell your maker now: Wretched sinner, the world will be cleansed of your taint!" And with that he went into action, flying up as high as he could maneuver inside the church to distract the monster. "Heroes!" he called. "Strike at the joins of its foul body; they are its great weakness!" And with that, the battle was joined!

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"Sounds like a plan, Wings," Jack called to the airborne angel, leaping forward from pew to pew. Throwing his hand backward, he cast out for the nearest source of energy he could use to fuel his powers. "Lemme just- woah!" A flicker of the white flame from Hayzel's blazing spatha shot down the swashbuckler like a spear of light, erupting into a rapier adorned with delicate filigree the moment it make contact. To Jack's metamagi senses, the blade was forged of resounding church bells and far off Gregorian chant, a feeling of warmth and well being extending up his arm and into his chest. "Oh, ho. Wow," he grinned fiercely as he continued forward, bringing his new sword down across the shambling horror's shoulder in a flurry of shining blows.

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