The blue and green lights seemed to call them onward encouragingly, radiating from the walls like a welcoming glow. Jess and Levon descended lower with each step, feeling a warmer air greet them as they went. Jess could hear a pulsating sonic sound coming from the walls, as if large computer systems were speaking to each other through the stone or mutterings of the dead from the graves.
“Is it always this elaborate, going to see him?” Jess asked, minding her head as they came to a low beam section.
“I thought you might like the clandestine way.” Levon said. He had been here before, naturally; but they also seemed to change the systems of entry frequently. “And who said anything about a him?”
Jess looked at him for a moment, confusion and understanding swimming around each other.
“The Bishop is a she?” She asked, hoping to sound less surprised than she was. Levon smiled at her.
“Change anything?” He asked her.
“Not a damn bit.” She replied, lying slightly.
They carried on down the stairs until they came to a less formal but equally solid door. A blue strip of light bathed the space outside the door and Levon stopped just before it.
“You first.” He said, nudging her forward towards the light. Jess stepped into it and suddenly changed to a deeper blue.
“It checks for contaminants, among other things.” Levon said, watching as the light hummed and pulsed over her.
“Let me guess what the other things are, S.I.N markers perhaps?” She said, irksomely.
“You be surprised what they check for.” He replied, noticing the light switch to green; followed by a successful ‘tink’ sound, like the finishing of a coffee machine.
“Looks like you’re good.” He said as she stood back and he stood forth into the light.
“Hmmph.” Came from Jess as she stood back and watched Levon go through the same process. It took longer, but he too received the same acceptance, and once complete the doors before them opened and they could see inside the room.
Before them a laboratory had been made up around the stone coffins, clearly down deep in a crypt under the church. About four people peppered the room, working at stations and swirling strange coloured liquids in tubes under lights. Computers and machines clicked and hummed and the same blue and green lights gently lit the space; washing the walls with a calm and sanctuary like illumination. Coming towards them suddenly came a woman dressed in a lab coat. A red face mask covered her mouth, but Jess could see she had kind gentle eyes. She pulled the mask down as she approached them both.
“Nice to see you Levon, a treat indeed for you to come down into the vault and see us.” She extended her hand towards Jess who noticed the red gloves that extended up to her elbow. “And you must be Jess, so nice to meet you. I’m Karen.” Jess extended her own hands and shook them.
“Nice to meet you too.” Jess said, looking around the room.
“Not many get to see the vault, so please excuse the mess.” Karen said. Jess noticed little mess, but large extraction machines, screens scrolling through vast amounts of data and blueprint plans tacked up on a board on the other side of the room. The effigy of a saint looked down upon them from above.
“Jess doesn’t know anything, I thought it best to leave it to you to explain what goes on.” Levon said, with a smirk across his face. Karen sighed, leading them in further to the room.
“I hope you don’t have the same disdain as Levon does for what we do here then, his attitudes become quite tiresome sometimes.” Karen said, smiling.
“Not just his attitude, he’s quite a pain most of the time.” Jess said, returning the smile to her.
“Siding with the Bishop already, who’d have thought?” Levon cut back to her. Jess looked surprised.
“Oh Levon, you and your names for people. Should I call you The Cleanser then, or do you prefer your usual name devoid of the implications or grandiose expectations?” She asked him coyly. Levon smiled back, enjoying the teasing.
“You…you’re the bishop then?” Jess asked, folding her arms both defensively and from an anger.
“I’m afraid I am, for all my faults.” Karen said, he face remaining warm and open.
“And you’re not ashamed for what you’ve caused people, what your system of selection has done. Playing god the way you do?” Jess was angry, but she was trying her best to stay calm.
“I understand you have a personal qualm with me and what we do then?” Karen replied.
“Not just me, many. When you can help the all and yet only choose the few.” Jess spat back. “You have the means to cure everyone, but you limit to whom you feel are warrant of changing. How are you any different from the others, or the likes of Akio?”
Karen let her speak, understanding of her compliant. She then calmly took off her gloves, revealing a blackness that stained its way up her arms.
“I will show you how.” She said, her eyes flaring with an excitement.