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Tina It is early afternoon in El Dorado, and the great stained-glass windows of the church admit a brilliant kaleidoscopic display of sunlight. Among the pews walks Sister Tina, lighting staff in hand, busily relighting any of the candles in the many candelabras that have gone out. The pleasant outside temperature ensures that the auditorium is empty, and she finds herself humming an uplifting hymn as she works.
Zealot Shreya Zealot Shreya walks in from the heat outside. She stands just inside the main doors, bulged out eyes staring slowly around the room until finally coming to rest upon you. "Have we not met before?"
Tina Tina turns, regarding the Zealot curiously. "We have, I believe," she says after a moment, smiling. "Welcome to the Church, Miss Shreya. How may I help you this day?" she asks warmly.
Zealot Shreya Zealot Shreya shakes her head. "I was hot so I came in for shelter. Tell me something, why do you continue worshipping the nailed god when his prophecies of Armageddon didnt come true?"
Tina "Please, do come in," Tina says, nodding her assent. "Because no one knows the hour of His coming. Likely the apocalypse we saw was not /His/ apocalypse. Many have predicted the time of His coming, and all have failed. So I just don't pay attention to predictions like that anymore. He will come when He comes, and I am content with that," she adds, smiling.
Zealot Shreya Zealot Shreya nods. "There are so many contradictions in that book but I didnt come to persecute you for your faith sister. Have you any water? I am parched."
Tina "We do, yes. Please, follow me," Tina replies, beckoning to Shreya. Blowing out the wick of the lighting staff, she leads the way through an arched doorway to one side of the podium and the pulpit upon it, into a dimly-lit hallway.
Zealot Shreya Zealot Shreya follows along. "Thankyou. We are not so different, both seeking an elusive truth. You are very kind."
Tina "You are most welcome. But that is our way. The church has always been a sanctuary, and we try to uphold that tradition," Tina replies warmly. She turns through a doorway into a better-lit kitchen area of sorts. Taking up one of a number of recently-washed glasses, she fills it from a jug taken from an honest-to-Atom working refridgerator that was old decades before the bombs fell. Only four such jugs will fit inside it. "It has been purified, so you need not fear for your health. But it's not holy," she says impishly.
Zealot Shreya Zealot Shreya shakes her head. "There is no need to purify. The glow is not something to fear but to embrace it." She does take the water. "Is there no priest?"
Tina "I don't know how long it has been since last there was a priest here. I received my training from a senior nun, who also trained my superior, Sister Neva," Tina explains. "I have only been with the Church for a few years, you see, so I am technically the junior nun."
Zealot Shreya Zealot Shreya nods. "I see. But you were a Catholic all of your life? Do you not find it cruel that your God forbids you from having love of a man or a woman? It seems so lonely."
Tina Tina shakes her head. "I have only come to the Church in the last few years, Miss Shreya. My life was different before that. Though I should point out that our vows are not as restrictive as they once were, or as they are described in the history books. This was true even before the bombs fell. This is not to say that I have pursued romantic relationships during my time with the Church... I doubt I would have the time to devote to such things. But I do have friends in the community, so I am not really lonely."
Zealot Shreya Zealot Shreya nods. "We are free to pursue who we will though my imprisonment with a group of Raiders called Finns Warlords ruined my desire to be with any man again. Its just sickening now. Do you mean to say nuns can marry now?". She looks incredulous. "I thought they were married to Jesus?"
Tina "Much has changed since the old days, even if it was a long and slow process. I doubt many of us do marry, but it is allowed," Tina replies. She gives Shreya a deeply sympathetic look. "Yours is not a new story to me, but it is no less tragic all the same. I am truly sorry you have suffered so. Is there any way I can help you to heal from your terrible ordeal?"
Zealot Shreya Zealot Shreya smiles greatfully. "This water is of help. If you would like to understand I will be preaching Monday at sunset. You might learn even if you do not believe. What has happened to me was mine to bear and those men, they found their own death."
Tina "Killing is a terrible thing... but is it a greater evil to allow such people to live to destroy again? That is a question I cannot answer," Tina observes softly. "I only know that He will guide us to choose wisely when we must face such a terrible choice. For that reason, I am glad that they can never harm anyone again, and that you no longer must suffer at their hands."
Zealot Shreya Zealot Shreya shakes her head. "I did not kill them, the forsaken of Atom and their own foolish curiousity killed them. I was only set free by their death. I am glad they are dead. I would have killed them, but so many. I would have died surely."
Tina "Someone provided for you in your time of need, I say. And I am grateful," Tina replies gently. "Sometimes the choice is not ours to make. Sometimes evil extinguishes itself."
Zealot Shreya Zealot Shreya nods. "Sometimes. But tell me, surely something must have happened to make your faith so strong. What was it?"
Tina "Something I would rather not talk about, honestly. But I will say that I was persecuted for something untrue that I had no control over, as was my entire family before their deaths. Something that I thought was my life ending turned out to be a new beginning, and I have embraced it fully. I only hope that provides some satisfaction," Tina says softly, bowing her head.