By Stuart Warren
"Forty minutes ago I killed a peace officer, Father," a voice came through the silt screen divider. An uncomfortable cough, a shift of weight, returned the admission with a lasting silence.
"Was he sanctioned by the Commission?" Father Gara finally ventured.
"No, no he wasn't," the voice said trembling. "I followed protocol, honest! He just got in the way."
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to revoke your license and report you Singe." Father Gara said routinely. He stood up and brushed off his robes and left the confessional. Before he could walk five steps, the booth emitted a harsh blast of rays, a muffled scream, then nothing. The smell of cauterized flesh lingered in the room for a moment then disappeared.
The Commission for Nefarious Acts Incorporated was put in place to make sure these incidents didn't happen. Sure, the calamitous affairs, the insidious intent, of aged super-villains and their uncanny protagonists, went on with extreme oversight, but it was getting old. Father Gara was tired of it.
Opening his robe a slender tube released from the folds, spewing puffs of smoke. Rolling up the tube he opened his mouth and stoked the electric coals contemplatively. The Commission paid for his habit. He missed the old thing. Cybernetic bodies he opted out of. He'd rather die of high cholesterol than forgo the taste of a cheeseburger for the rest of his innumerable years.
From the corner of his eye Father Gara spotted his page, storming the sanctuary, waving an edict like a depraved idiot. He turned and snatched the paper from Deftus, who panted heavily, bent over.
"Suh.... suh... oh, God... Singe, he..."
"I know," Father Gara said curtly, "I've dealt with it. Why don't you sit down or something."
Deftus laid himself out in a pew, his eyes fixed above him at the large stained glass skybox that enclosed the temple of crime. A flaming sword cleaving the sacred Book of Order, radiated it's glory, transfiguring the sun's rays into a brilliant cascade of evil. Deftus, blinked hard and rubbed his eyes.
"What a fucking amateur," Deftus said, winded.
"Language!" Father Gara countered harshly. "This is the Lord's house you fool. What the hell is the matter with you?" Father Gara looked up reverently, crossing himself and looked over the edict.
Six hours ago, Singe, class 2 meta-felon killed Wayne Constance, Peace Officer of the 28th Department of New Angels in an aggravated assault of Captain Guts and his Glory Brigade on the corner of Matthau and Lemon at approximately 14:37. Singe is considered a minor threat, and is ordered to be immediately suppressed by lethal sanction.
The Annual Commission Family Barbecue will be held next week...Father Gara folded the letter and put it into his robes nonchalantly.
"I hope the potato salad is better this year," he grumbled.
Deftus turned his head towards Father Gara and sighed.
"Do you think it's wrong for the organization to kill offenders?" he said innocently.
Father Gara reeled.
"What the... Where did that come from? What's the matter with you? What are you, stupid? No..." he replied disdainfully. "Put on some real clothes, will you. Mass starts in an hour."
Deftus nodded quickly, got up, and ran to the back changing room. Father Gara enjoyed his page, but the lad was dense. He took him under his wing at the bequest of the boy's father, the Crimson Kingpin. Their family was well involved in The Commission, but the boy lacked the smarts. He wouldn't be choosy though. Any talent, let alone the good kind, was difficult to come by.
Father Gara slid back his sleeves and looked at his watch. It was nearly 15:30. Mass would start at 16:00, the early kind. He approached the altar reverently and knelt delicately. He prayed for the waging of evil and stood up once more. He missed the game, the heists, the assassinations, but the cloth he took up had changed all of that. Singe wasn't the first he had put down. It felt cheap to him. Long ago, a man had to pull a trigger, or wield a knife, but times were changing. Regulation was responsible for most of it, and that was the way things were. Ascending the altar he approached his throne and took a seat. Looking out over the empty pews, he felt the emptiness in his own heart resonate.
But that was his decision. He had made it. And he was fine with it.