Part V:
White Smoke, Black Fire!
The Shedding

Fourteenth Chapter

      Episode Six

             The mid-morning sun broke out in a chorus of penetrating rays that warmed the throngs huddled shoulder to shoulder in St. Peter's Square. The funeral was just minutes away and as the time grew closer the volume increased the crescendo of Ave's ascending into the morning sky. All was in readiness for pomp and circumstance, for the ritual of the Requiem.
             The small noble band of resisters were not among the mass of humanity that packed the Square. Few were aware that the Legion was reeling, disintegrating as evidence from the fate of Elena Grabe, her memory baked on the asphalt of the courtyard, never more to seen or heard of, except at Gehenna's gates.
             Divide and conquer was the unplanned strategy of both forces this morning. On the southwestern side of St. Peter's the explosive coffins had been loaded onto the box cars, the coal stoked and the engineer Dominic Nicolosi was prepared for the journey north. Time was of the essence as the locomotive built up steam. Meanwhile east of the tracks and south of the Basilica in the modern Pauline Hall, Jordan Collier had trapped himself in the tunnel from the Nervi to the entrance beneath St. Martha's Place. He had not counted on two gates. The gate he had locked with a thundering thud had signaled the guards in the Nervi Hall to lock down the gate at the entrance to the tunnel for fear of fire backdrafting into the Hall. Now Collier was sealed in the tunnel, along with 28 explosive-lined coffins that had not been loaded due to Collier's spontaneous ploy which would seal his fate forever.
             While the vile six and their cohorts sunk deeper into defilement as the nefarious Black Mass progressed beneath the Pantheon, Stephen, still shaking from his encounter with the Basilisk, had returned to his office. There he washed his face, refreshed, applied the shaver and then retrieved his cell phone He needed to check Grabe's room, but first he had to make sure the potentially deadly candles would not be lit as he inched his way through the cordoned off area beneath the columns towards the Basilica.
             As the Cardinals lined up to process from the Sala Regia into St. Peter's, Pat had reached the room in the turret of Sant'Angelo where Niki awaited with the ailing pontiff Pope Clement XV.

      Dateline: Rome - Turret room in the walls of Castel Sant'Angelo - November 6, 9:58 a.m.

             Eyes closed in prayer, Niki huddled near the stricken Pope, comforting him in performing the fullness of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. A welcome smile greeted Pat as he shuffled into the room from the Hadrian passageway.
             "Made it," sighed Pat. "How's he doin'?"
             "Considering the circumstances," Niki answered, "much better, my friend, than one would expect. God is good."
             "I've got nourishment for him. Here's some fresh water, and bread, and --"
             "Deo Gratias," exclaimed Niki as he sprung to his feet to gather up the refreshments Pat had lugged from the Papal Chambers. Niki gathered it up and rushed to the Holy Father's side, offering water to his parched lips.
             Pat followed behind. "Got some Demerol, Tylenol and--"
             "Please, Patrick, yes, the Demerol. That will help him, along with this bread. Hopefully it is not too late and his system will not reject the food."
             "Sure as hell hope - whoops, sorry, Nik."
             "Just the fact you caught yourself in your profanity is an improvement, my friend."
             "Hey, old habits are hard to break, Nik."
             "I understand, and I am sure His Holiness does, too. He is most grateful."
             Niki continued to nurse the Vicar of Christ, helping the weakened Pontiff swallow the water and bread. Pat prepared the syringe and carefully, reverently jabbed it into the Pope's buttocks.
             "Imagine it'll take a while for the Demerol to work, Nik."
             "Do not be too surprised, Patrick. The medicine will make him sleep, but he should be stronger when he awakes."
             "So you've gotta be hungry, Nik. Here, eat."
             "Thank you, I will. As weak as His Holiness is, he has been talking to me, incoherent at times, but to me I understood him perfectly. He wants to make a statement for the universal Church while he still can. If it is not too dangerous, I am afraid, my friend, I must ask you to return and retrieve some paper, stationary would be preferable - -"
             "Papal stationery?" Pat quipped.
             "That would be ideal, but..." Niki seemed puzzled as he could see a sly smile crease Pat's mouth.
             "No prob, Nik. This tunnel leads straight to the Holy Father's own Papal Apartment. I can get the stationery and bring more food, more --"
             "Can you get your computer?"
             "My computer?"
             "Yes, the one you had at the Field of Death."
             "Ah, it's at the hotel, but what good'll that do," Pat quizzed. "Fasif took the Reflector card. Remember?"
             This time it was Niki's turn to turn the tables. Smiling, he rose to his feet to his satchel where he retrieved the Reflector card. "Is this what you need, my friend?" A big grin breaking out on his countenance.
             "How'd you get it, Nik? Damn, I coulda used that when--"
             "It was not safe then, Patrick. Not until now. Now, it is necessary, very necessary."
             "Well, as far as I know my laptop is still back at the hotel. Haven't been there for a few days in case you didn't notice."
             "That does pose a problem," pondered Niki. "Will that work with any other computer?"
             "If it's a newer version with the flash card slot drive, yeah," Pat replied.
             "I doubt, Patrick, that His Holiness had a laptop in his quarters, but it is worth a--"
             "Hey," Pat interrupted, the eureka exploding in his voice, "Maybe Stephen has one I can use. He's back in the Holy Father's place with Sr. Bridie!"
             "That would work. The Pope has been mulling over a very important pronouncement and if you can document it on the Reflector card and I have the candle and wax, it can be sealed with his Fishermen's Ring seal. That will make it authentic. After that, you will need to get it to the Cardinals in the Conclave."
             "Great if they'll let me in," Pat wondered.
             "Oh, what you will present will give you entrance, I can guarantee you that, my friend."
             "What's he gonna say that's so important?"
             "Let us just say," cautioned Niki, "that I can sense the Holy Spirit preparing a landmark Papal Bull. It is in God's hands now. If it is meant to be, God will keep Papa Clement with us a little while longer."
             "What else will you need? Might as well kill two birds with one stone," quipped Pat emoting a huge yawn.
             "Your phraseology is unique, Patrick. Perhaps an hour of rest might reinvigorate you. Then, with a little rest, if you could return to the Papal Quarters and bring..."
             As Niki ran off a list of other things that would help comfort the Pope and help him prepare a short document, the great bells above the Basilica and throughout Rome clarioned that the funeral procession at the other end of Via Della Conciliazione had begun.

      Dateline: Vatican City - St. Peter's Basilica and Square - November 6, 10:01 a.m.

             The crowd had lulled to a hush when the Sistine Choir's first tones of "De profundis" wafted out from the side of St. Peter's Square as the first coffins came into view on the left side of the Square. Gradually the chanting of this requiem prayer of the Psalmist David, trusting in the mercies of God, reached the ears of all. Slowly the funeral cortege wended its way with coffin after coffin emerging from Paul VI Hall via the side columns of the great Bernini Colonnade and out into the great square where a six-foot path had been cordoned off for the entourage which included six pall-bearers for each coffin.
             Lost on the hundreds of thousands standing elbow to elbow inside and outside St. Peter's, was the unceremonial exit of the sturdy iron horse chugging away from the Vatican Railway Station, backing through the arch of the portal wall and across the viaduct trestle over the busy Via Aurelia and beyond until it had cleared the tracks leading to the Vatican. With Luigi in communication with Pietro back at the station, authorization was granted to switch tracks as the rails coupled to the new route once it reached the area adjacent to Via Paolo II. Steam heaved all around the funneled smoke stack as the gears picked up speed and soon it lunged forward picking up speed. It was gaining more power, heading northward toward Poggio.
             While the locomotive put more distance between Vatican City and its deadly content stacked in the holds of two box cars, another train grew fuller and closer to St. Peter's. The entire string of caskets were now in full view as the lead cortege entered through the great doors of the Basilica and up the aisle toward the assigned places circumferencing the main Altar.
             When most had already been set in place, the trumpets sounded three times and from the right side slowly came the entourage of the College of Cardinals. They had descended the Royal Staircase from the Sala Regia in the Vatican Palaces through the Bronze Doors and out into the Square along the narrow cordoned-off area that led to the steps of the great Basilica. The modes of the choir's Miserere mixed with the moans and cries of anguish emoted from the crowd once the ornately adorned Papal Bier came into their view. Stately and with all pomp it was carried by six Pontifical Guards for this special and saddest of occasions. Cardinal Julies Mendoza, as the Dean of the College, led the caravan of red-hats as they processed slowly through the formed pathway leading into St. Peter's.
             One could not decipher what was in the hearts of these men from the expressions on their faces. One could not tell a liberal from a conservative for Cardinal Raul Carteaga Santiago's countenance was no different than Cardinal Gregory Zachmunn's or Cardinal Auguste Ribera Lorenzo, the oldest Prince of the Church in procession. The oldest cardinal - His Eminence Cesare Carlo Giongiolosi, 97 and wheel-chair bound Cardinal Guido Marcini had been escorted to a special place in the Basilica ahead of time.
             The Bishops and priests had followed the coffins of their peers prior to the Papal Bier and the entourage of the Princes of the Church making their appearance. Slowly the train of cardinals made their way to the steps leading to the Basilica. Through the Filarete Door they glided, on the rails of a shroud, into the packed expansions of this venerable place where from the highest rafters of stone and cupolas reverberated the solemn Gregorian tones of the "Subvenite".
             All the coffins were in place circumferencing the main altar as the red-robed princes of the Church sidled into their assigned prie-dieus on both sides of the tomb of St. Peter in front of Bernini's great Baldacchino. Slowly, meticulously in sync with the music the Papal Guard pall-bearers bore the Papal Bier to its stanchion directly in front of the entrance to the Apostles's crypt, the head of the coffin towards the altar.
             As they placed the white casket with gold handles on its posts, the whir of Nikons could be heard even as the last strains of Subvenite, the entire hymn repeated for the third time, concluded with the last verse "Offerentes eam in conspectu Altissimi".
             The main celebrant Cardinal Mendoza, accompanied by his Cardinal deacon his eminence Georgio Castiglione and his subdeacon from Uganda Cardinal Mbuta Celestin Kabwela, mounted the steps of the altar beneath the great Baldacchino. Facing east with the choir, prelates and Vatican personnel behind him and the clerics, family and religious to his right, non-Catholic and government dignitaries to his left, and the rest of the packed throng in front of him stretching out into and beyond the great square. The aisles had been flooded with flesh. There was not a square foot of empty space anywhere except in the main aisle and sanctuary. The doors of the Basilica remained opened as those in attendance as far away as Via del Falco tuned their ears to hear. Loudspeakers, strategically placed, resonated the Spanish Cardinal's intoning of the Introit, "Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine." The Guila Choir took it from there, responding with the mellow sounds of "et lux pereptua lucent eis..."
             The Funeral Mass had begun as the response of Psalm 64 continued in the Mother tongue. While those within the great Basilica called upon the angels to bear these deceased up into the Heavenly Jerusalem, across town another incantation was being completed calling upon the demons to do their deed.
             Incense from both the Funeral Mass censer and the Black Mass censer curled upward. Despite the distance in space, the time continuum was one. It was as if the milky white smoke from the gold and jewel-encrusted censer in St. Peter's merged with the sooty serpent of vapor wafting up from the silver and black censer utilized at the Satanic Mass in the depths of the Pantheon. In this suspension of time, they entwined - the white and black smoke - merging the spiraling snake-like plumes of smoke into a reptilian pendulous funnel, transforming into an ascending grayish mass of venom as the white smoke surrendered to the caliginous, noxious clouds of blackened smoke, engorging the good. The light could not penetrate the darkness.

      Dateline: Rome - Subterranean room beneath the Pantheon - November 6, 10:31 a.m.

             A senior citizens busload of Belgian tourists were mulling about on the main floor of the ancient Pantheon, marveling at the immensity of the structures and the great corona exposing the sun above. Maybe it was beneficial for these visitors that they were directing their attention upward rather than downward. Indeed, if their olfactory senses had been acute, they might have smelled the stench wafting up from the subterranean regions where the Satanic Black Mass was just coming to its conclusion.
             All those present in the lowest recesses of this pagan temple had been satiated with the innocent blood of the three victims, now discarded in the holocaust of the burning embers that reeked of human flesh and entrails in the recessed stone cavity which had served as a water storage well beneath this ancient structure. It had long gone dry. This day it was like a furnace. It was surprising the European sightseers couldn't feel the heat. Had they known what vile activity was being staged beneath them, they would have fled back to the buses and far away from this iniquitous monument.
             During the Offertory, all had pledged their allegiance to the Satanic Pontiff as Lord Vendhem took the Luciferian Oath. Then, consecrated hosts, stolen from communion services at various churches in Rome, had been presented by each participant and then, urged on by the lustful, frenzied, and hypnotic chant of the participants, the victims had mercilessly been dispatched.
             With the formal permission of the Knight of the Scimitar, Vendhem had taken the curved blade from the subdeacon and had handed it with great pomp to a black-hooded executioner representing the subdeacon on the left. Vendhem had repeated the process by presenting the sword to his deacon Macelli, who in turn had given it to the executioner representing him on the right. Still bound and gagged the young victims' cheeks had ballooned in agony, but they could not let out a scream. Blood had begun to ooze in their eyes, full of shock and horror. Just this sight would have curdled the stomach of any decent person.
             But these were definitely not decent human beings. The question could be asked whether they were human at all. Especially when the gore had grown worse as simultaneously the hooded ones had meticulously sliced the breasts from the two girls and placed them near the chalice. Vendhem, with the aid of hooded acolytes and Macelli, had squeezed, like one does a grapefruit, the bloody mammaries into the chalice, symbolizing the milk of the spirit. After the Knight of the Scimitar had held up the chalice, the fleshy, blood-soaked severed paps were discarded.
             Then, the executioner representing the deacon had thrust the sword into the abdomen of the gypsy woman and extracted the not-fully-formed fetus from the womb, holding it aloft for all to see as the chanting had grown more feverish.
             Ripping his finger into the tiny unborn, the deacon had pinched out the infinitesimal heart which ceremoniously he had presented to Vendhem who deposited it in the cup. Then, with the two females' muffled screams drowned out by the discordant cacophony of the chanting with the participants bobbing up and down in a frenzy, both hooded presbyters had ended the tormented squeals in a swift final agony.
             In sync the hooded ones had simultaneously plunged the sword into the bleeding chest cavities of both and had extracted the hearts of the two teen-age girls. They had presented the oozing ventricles to Macelli who had offered two patens. He had then ceremoniously presented the dripping patens to Vendhem while the subdeacon had incensed the entire altar and celebrant.
             As Vendhem had prepared for the Canon of the Black Mass, the lifeless and mutilated nude victims, their vital organs extracted, had been removed from the altar and cast into the stone fire-pit, already fully ablaze. Burning flesh had vied with the frenzy of insanity in those still breathing.
             At the consecration, Vendhem had elevated to the Master the desecrated hosts and then the communion cup where the meat of the flesh of the hearts were mixed with the blood of the two young women and the six-month-old fetus at the faux Haec commixtio.
             Each had come forward to receive and be transformed further in union with Lucifer as they had insanely ingested the black communion, each intinctioning a distributed desecrated host in the chalice of fetid blood and organs, stirred into a thick, foul-smelling liquid mass, black in color.
             Now, from past experiences in this putrescent ceremony, vomitorium urns had been distributed where many were making use of save for a few. One definitely not availing himself of it was Edwin Blix, who instead smacked his lips and gulped down the remainder at Vendhem's request. The German prelate, whose aspirations as the next Pope he assumed everyone in this room had concorded, could not stomach but a few sips of the fetid substance. He had washed it down with plenty of water as the subdeacon purified the chalices and patens. Macelli still looked green around the gills as did the Belgian Eislaume.
             The hedonistic, sadistic ecstasy of the event had subsided and now stomachs were rebelling as the demons rumbled and roiled within these participants of this ultimate Black Mass. Because of obvious nausea among the human creatures that were present, they would linger longer, much longer than anticipated, in the blood-soaked fuliginous bowels of the Pantheon.

      Next: PART V: The Shedding FOURTEENTH CHAPTER Episode Seven

"White Smoke, Black Fire!" is an original work, registered with the Writers' Guild and all rights are the exclusive rights of The DAILY CATHOLIC who owns the copyright. Because of the nature of the internet and the importance of sharing, we hereby give the reader permission to collect and disseminate by e-mail each episode as it is presented in each issue of The DAILY CATHOLIC, provided that one includes this 1986, 2001 copyright statement and source - www.DailyCatholic.org - and take nothing out of context, nor reproduce it for profit. This work, seventeen years in the making, is a work of fiction that replicates the reality of today in many ways. However names, characters, places and incidents are used fictionally and any resemblance to actual persons and events, except those recorded in history, are purely coincidental.


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