Church of the Sacred Heart
Roleplaying Log: Church of the Sacred Heart
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Moonstar goes to Church of the Sacred Heart to find out more about Domino

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: May 09, 2019
IC Location:
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 09 May 2019 23:57
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits: Domino
Associated Plots

Having access to SHIELD's facial recognition software proves to be a significant boon but it still takes a fair bit of digging. With time Dani is able to discover something quite obscure through the system.

Oddly enough, some random tourist's social media turns out to be the first link. Some grainy/blurry photos which had been taken from the "Church of the Sacred Heart" out in Chicago reveals something most peculiar in the form of a young child off in the background of one image wearing a hooded grey robe. There's just enough of their face showing to reveal what isn't a washed out glare and a shadow but a black spot detailing very pale skin. There's also an all white cat in the child's arms.

The social poster claims the picture had been taken sometime around 2005. Clearly their focus had been on the church, itself. It doesn't look like much to write home about, maybe the location held some other significance to them as it is a far cry from a tourist destination.

Despite a promising lead the trail immediately goes cold. There doesn't appear to be any additional clues within the system. However, the Church of the Sacred heart still exists. It also has a phone number. This journey might require some oldschool detective work.

SHIELD may not be back to fighting trim, or a hundred percent (thanks Brotherhood!), but that doesn't mean that the company's resources aren't still available. Or that the agents can't go about their job.

Or, in Dani's case, from using their job to help with a more personal problem.

Which is exactly what Moonstar does. Thankfully, what she's doing looks pretty damn official, as the Cheyenne woman sits hunched at her desk. Her gaze stays glued to the screen of her computer, as she starts to pull up the various programs she has access to. One by one she starts reviewing what data she has at her fingertips. Sure, she feels a pang of disappointment for every stalled search, or every search that reveals nothing, but Dani is dogged in her determination.

She continues to dig.

And finally hits pay dirt with the facial recognition program. Almost she spills her eighth (fiftieth, who's counting?!) cup of coffee when the program pings back with a match. Eagerly, or is that overly-caffeinatedly, the woman straightens in her chair and reaches for keyboard. She touches fingertips to keys and brings up the results.

The robed young girl is given an appraising look. So is the cat. Then the rest of what can be seen in the picture is scrutinized as well.

She clicks a mouse button for more results, but when she finds that's all Moonstar frowns. "Dammit." Mutters the black-haired woman and while she offers that muttered expletive the Agent of SHIELD doesn't let herself be deterred too much.

She searches for the Church of the Sacred Heart and at the sight of the phone number, Danielle Moonstar picks up her cellphone and dials.

———

The line rings for some time. Most people probably would have given up, attention spans not being what they used to be. While it's left to connect Dani would be able to call up the GPS coordinates for the building and have a satellite view of the church and surrounding neighborhood. It..doesn't look particularly high end. A lot more slummy, to be blunt. The years have not been kind to the territory, not that it had been spectacular during any point of its existence

When the call is finally answered the man on the other end has a voice which has aged but remains smooth. The voice of someone who has done a lot of talking to other people in his days. It would be a fair argument to say that a man like him has endless fathoms of patience.

"Yes, hello. This is Father Boschelli. What may I do for you today?"

————

As the phone rings … and rings … and rings, Moonstar reaches for a pencil and pad of paper. As she waits for an answer, or possibly an answering machine, to pick up she quickly jots down - Church of the Sacred Heart and alongside that the buildings' GPS coordinates.

Then her sharp brown eyes flick back to her computer screen, as she eyes the general view of the Church and the surrounding buildings.

To say it's not much is putting it mildly, but Moonstar reserves full judgement for now.

It's only as the line is answered, that Moonstar's attention switches off her computer screen. "Hello, Father Boschelli." Moonstar immediately says, her voice modulated to politely friendly and professional, "My name is Agent Moonstar, and I was hoping I could set up some time to speak to you about a former parishioner of your Church. Do you possibly have any time you could set aside for me to fly out and chat with you?"

———

From the initial sound coming from the Father it could be assumed that he was expecting a call back about getting a heater repaired or something involving repairs to the roof. Not..someone going by the name and title of -Agent- Moonstar. Neither of those are common words within his lifestyle!

"Oh, uh..'Agent,' you say? Of course, of course. It is my hope that there have been no wrongdoings, I am available to help however I may. I am always here at the church, please feel welcome to visit whenever is convenient."

And thus begins Dani's trip into the armpit of Chicago, which..is something of an armpit, itself.

The satellite view didn't do the area proper justice. There's abandoned cars left to rust along the sides of the street, missing wheels and with broken windows. Graffiti can be found in more places than not. The pavement is scattered with potholes as if targeted by a giant shotgun. The sidewalks are cracked and twisted from the roots of overgrown trees.

The church itself is something of a beacon of light within the neighborhood but it's one whose radiance has been kept dim for some time. Crumbling cement stairs and rusting metal railings lead up to heavy weather-worn wooden doors. The first sign of regular maintenance comes from the hinges, kept oiled so as not to be disruptive to those inside.

The interior is what could be expected. Everything is old, run down, worn out. Just like the priest who can be found inside, an somewhat brighter point thanks to the white colored robe. Only a few others can be found in the pews, the room kept dim and quiet with some candlelight flickering against the encroaching shadows.

Dani's arrival does not go unnoticed. The robed man smiles as he comes closer, a hand airily gesturing off to the side in a motion to come in. His voice is cast low and kept soft around the edges, affording some privacy in a room which naturally wishes to carry an echo.

"Welcome. You are the agent I had spoken to the other day, yes?"

———

Chicago. She's been here a time or two, though not necessarily at this particular destination, but here she is.

Moonstar is dressed in the height of conservative agent wear; black pants, white top, black blazer and black boots.

As she walks through the rundown neighborhood, the Cheyenne automatically catalogs everything she sees. Graffiti, state of the sidewalks, the streets, the buildings, the people. She takes it all in. When she arrives at the steps of the Church the woman casts her gaze over to house of God for a silent second, then she moves quickly up the crumbling steps.

Gently Moonstar opens the door and slips inside. It takes her eyes a second to adjust to the dimness with, but when they do the Agent finds the priest already approaching her position. Automatically she gives the man the once over, as well as the interior, and at the motion to move off to the side Dani does just that.

"Good afternoon." Comes Moonstar's equally soft words, "And yes, I am." She extends her hand outward to the robed man, "Thank you for taking the time to speak with me as well, I appreciate it."

There's a small pause between those last words of hers and the next. The pause allows the Agent to reach into the pocket of her blazer for a folded piece of paper. Unfolding the paper, Moonstar offers it to the priest to look at; it's a printed image of that robed young girl, holding that white cat. "Can you tell me about this picture?"

———

Dani's offered hand is taken within both of Boschelli's. His touch is warm and compliments the aura that he puts forth. Really he's probably the one force which has kept this poor church in operation. That, and a stubbornness on his behalf about not letting these people down.

"It must weigh heavily upon your mind to have gone through such trouble to find us. If you may find peace here then it is my duty to help you discover it."

His patience returns while the folded page is retrieved and offered over. His expression is one of concentration at first. Failing eyesight, perhaps. Though seconds later the hardened lines upon his face melt away into a gentle and wholly genuine smile.

"Little Neena. It has been many years since I have seen her. Please," he motions further into the building with a hand. "If you would follow me. There is much for us to discuss."

Father Boschelli leads the way down a narrow stone hallway, permitting them a bit more isolation from the rest of the world. Soon he's looking at the picture again, reminiscing at the same time he seems troubled.

"Before we begin, please tell me. Is she okay? When we had last seen her here it was under …troubled circumstances. And not just because she had asked to leave her beloved Christmas behind. Sister Jasmine was allergic afraid of cats, bless her soul. When Neena had first come to us, all she had was that white kitten. None of us had the heart to tell her he could not stay here with her."

———

His comment about the weight upon her mind brings a slight pause in that rustling. Her brown eyes rise upward to look at the man for a heartbeat. Perhaps surprise can be seen for that singular moment, then the agent's facade reasserts itself.

When he takes the piece of paper the black-haired woman keeps her attention focused wholly upon the man. Especially his face.

And when his expression turns to something happy some of Dani's tension eases. There was a worry there that the priest wouldn't recognize Domino in that picture.

The mention of little 'Neena' causes Moonstar's expression to twitch, but other than that the Cheyenne doesn't react to the naming of Domino.

Instead Moonstar inclines her head in agreement when he requests her to follow him. Dutifully Moonstar follows the Priest down the stone hallway.

She only pauses when he does, and when he looks at that picture again Moonstar watches him very much like a hawk would.

That initial question of his brings a thoughtful look to Moonstar's own expression, but finally she nods. "She is." Which isn't necessarily a lie, but Moonstar can't help but feel relief when Father Boschelli continues to speak. Holy Men and Women aren't people Moonstar likes to directly lie to.

"What sort of trouble caused her to leave?" And then, "And what originally brought her to the Church?"

———

"I suppose today is as good of a day as any for a story," Boschelli chuckles softly while pushing a side door open. "And a stroll down memory lane."

The room inside is dusty, it probably hasn't been used in some time. Old furniture such as a dresser line the walls though there isn't a bed to be found. The printed picture is set aside before he digs out an old style key hanging off of a cord to unlock the dresser with.

"She first came to us with her mother. Neena rarely spoke of her, I got the impression they had never been very close. Bella..Brenda..no, what was it," he mutters while trying to dig up the old memory. "Bea? Yes. Beatrice, I believe was her name. Same dark hair, same pale complexion, same sharp blue eyes. They looked so very much alike, aside from Neena's peculiar birthmark."

"Beatrice brought her to us one night, begging us to take her in. As forgiveness figures heavily into our teaching we did not question her motives. No one wished for a child to be left out on the streets. She was around thirteen years old. From the moment we first saw her I could tell that she had a troubled upbringing. We offered to provide the stability she seemed to require."

He continues to search through the drawers one at a time, seemingly with no sense of urgency at all. Papers and items are carefully removed, inspected, then set aside as he looks about.

"We tried our best, of course. But, Neena never could leave this darkness of her past behind. We never learned what it might have been. She never had much to say yet trouble always seemed to find her. But Christmas?" he chuckles softly. "He would follow her everywhere. They were inseparable."

Here he finds what he's looking for, removing a water-stained wooden box with its own share of dust. Inside are a handful of photographs. Some of them happen to include the albino child. Sure enough, Christmas is usually close at hand. The feline's immediate proximity seems directly connected to the proportion of the smile, or lack thereof, upon the girl's face. One picture in particular is of her holding the cat while beaming with cheer.

"The last time I saw her she looked particularly troubled. She insisted that Christmas stay behind with us, saying that it was no longer safe for her to be here. She was only sixteen, but we couldn't stop her."

———

The mention of a story prompts something more than just an agents response from Dani. A smile graces her lips for a moment, as she murmurs, "Every day is a good day for a story."

It's something she learned from her grandfather.

Then Moonstar steps into that side room and she glances about herself. Again, dutifully, she follows the Priest as he steps over to the dresser. She stays relatively quiet to allow his words to flow without interruption and when he starts to take out the papers and other items, Moonstar steps closer.

Beatrice. The name is committed to memory. Also the fact that she too was pale skinned like Domino - Neena.

Idly Moonstar reaches for the papers that were removed to possibly rifle through them, but before she can get too far the small wooden box is retrieved by Father Boschelli.

The sight of the pictures brings Moonstar gaze over to the Priest. "Animals always sense who needs a true friend." Murmurs Moonstar, a peculiar note to her voice, "They always give unconditional love to those that need it the most."

"What sort of trouble was she always in?" Questions Dani, "The typical sort of trouble kids get into; especially trouble children? Or something more? She never once said anything about her past? Or what caused her to leave? Has anyone in all the years since she left ever asked about her?"

And finally, "I know I've come here as an Agent, Father, but if I'm completely honest I've come here as someone who's concerned about her. I want to help her."

———

It's a lot of reminiscing, a lot of information exchanging hands. It is no surprise to Boschelli that it in turn results in a number of additional questions. Though it's Dani's assurance given after the battery of inquiries which seems to put his own mind at ease. Moonstar picked the right words to say.

'I want to help her.'

The priest breathes a long sigh while knitting his fingers together. "Violence..mostly. I would say 'getting into fights' but to be truthful she was often what ended them more than the one initiating them. Sadly, anyone who stands out for one reason or another seems to become a focal point for negativity. In this part of town she struggled in particular due to the color of her skin."

"However, she did happen to befriend a small group of misguided youths for a time. It troubled me but I was glad to see her having a reason, and a desire, to go outside. Then one day she simply stopped going out to see them. She wouldn't leave the grounds. Wouldn't talk to anyone. Then..I came across this."

A page from an old newspaper is removed from the drawer, dated 2008. The article in question talks about a fire claiming the lives of four adolescents.

"Please understand that I have never passed judgement upon her for what might have happened. It may not have been related at all. But the timing was such that I could not ignore a possible connection to these events. For days she refused to speak to anyone, right until telling me that she would be leaving."

Boschelli has a heavy look about him now, further offering "She never spoke so much as a word of her past, and no one else had ever come looking for her since. This is why I was thankful to have taken your call and arranged for this meeting, to see if she might have found her peace."

————

Color of her skin. A nod is given.

She understands completely what the Father describes.

When that page of an old newspaper is offered, Moonstar reaches out and accepts it. She drops her gaze to the article and skims it quickly, then pauses to re-read a few salient points from the article. The story itself, or perhaps the Priest's words, pulls the corners of Moonstar's mouth downward into a frown. "May I keep this?" Asks the Agent of SHIELD as she motions to the clipped news article, "If not I can take a picture of it."

And whichever he allows Moonstar will either tuck the paper into her pocket, or take a picture of the article with her phone.

Now it's back to the conversation at hand. "It seems unlikely that it's mere coincidence. Especially if her behavior changed during that time frame as well. Clearly something happened to her."

And while more can be said Boschelli's last words give the Agent pause again. Peace. How to answer that particular question.

Finally, with something that possibly sounds apologetic the Cheyenne says, "I can't say she's found peace yet, but she's found friends who are going to help her figure things out."

———-

Father Boschelli nods softly at Dani's request to keep the article. "I believe I have hung onto it for long enough," he suggests with a light smile. Then he nods once more regarding the event being more than a coincidence. "I would agree. For anything to have shaken her so deeply to leave Christmas behind… She has been the subject of countless prayers."

With Dani's honest response Boschelli smiles again, genuine, as he reaches to take one of her hands within both of his once more. "She needs good people in her life. People like you, Moonstar. I can feel the goodness of your heart and the strength of your resolve. Perhaps you will be able to reach her where we had been unable to."

One of the photos is picked up again, the priest silent as he looks down to the ghostly image printed upon the card. "I always knew that she would have a long journey ahead." Then looking back to Dani, he asks "Is there anything else that I may do for you?"

————

While Moonstar doesn't say anything to it, she can't help but smile at the Father, at his mention of the countless prayers he's said for Domino.

When he takes one of her hands, Moonstar reaches with her other hand and places it atop one of his own, followed by a squeeze. "I appreciate you saying that, Father - and I hope we can help her as well."

Moonstar doesn't break the silence once it falls; instead she allows Boschelli to speak first. "The wheel always turns, Father." Begins Moonstar, "Journeys end and new ones begin. We can only hope and have faith they're happier ones. Especially for those that have the hardest journeys straight from the get-go."

His question of whether he can do anything else for Moonstar prompts a quick shake of her head.

"You've already done enough. Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me."

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