EP: BtF Setup, Part Six

Founded on an ultra-conservative mixture of Rapture theology and prosperity gospel, the Blessed Church of Christ Ascendant is the dominant belief system in the region around the Klayman family compound, but it has adherents who either farcast in when possible or who rely on the media feeds and XPs available to keep up on the sermons preached by the pastors. The intense conservative component makes it the last bastion for many memes that have otherwise been dying out, creating a sense of persecution as much of modern society reviles their beliefs.

The head of the church and by far the most charismatic pastor is John Blessed, a man who has a custom-crafted Sylph morph loaded out with everything possible to make him more charismatic and charming. He has sermons five days a week, always at high noon and lasting a minimum of two hours as he works through his sermon, each one calculated to fan the xenophobic fires of his congregation and encourage them to tithe more deeply.

James and Mark Blessed are the other two primary pastors at the church; James relies on his uncanny levels of charisma during his time at the pulpit, making those listening feel as if he might be talking to them, personally. In addition to the Guardian Angels, this means he has a legion of adoring fans who have been effectively indoctrinated to do almost anything he asks of them. Of all the Blessed family, he is the one with the most contacts among local groups outside the church proper, including known members of the guerrilla terror group Martyr’s Blade. James gives sermons each Sunday, as well as 2-3 other sermons across the rest of the week, attended at all times by the Guardian Angels.

Mark Blessed focuses on the Rapture theology aspect of the church doctrine, using the ability to modify the acoustics of the church to his advantage as he plays up the dread and fear, and encourages people to tithe more to be certain that their selflessness will be seen and judged worthy of ascension. His bodyguards, while not as dramatic and obvious as his brother’s squad, typically occupy positions in the guise of parishioners, their high-tech firearms and body armor concealed under colorful outfits. Mark’s connections with several manufacturers of arms and armor ensures that everyone is outfitted with the latest gear, and there is reason to believe that he may be smuggling arms under the guise of aid shipments to surrounding communities.

Maria Klayman plays the role of a quiet and faithful wife in public, with long hair, modest clothing, and no visible signs of cosmetics that obscure a ruthless personality and keen intellect. The clothing is armored smart clothing, with an in-built capacity to form shock gloves should she need personal defense should her bodyguards fail her. While she defers to John in public where congregation members might observe them, in more private locations she rules the three men of her family as an absolute monarch. This level of control may factor in with the potential terrorist contacts of her two children, as nothing short of death seems likely to break her grip over them.

The church itself is built using the latest techniques, with smart nanomaterials providing a high degree of control to anyone able to access the control systems; an AI built to display absolute loyalty to the leaders of the church operates the network, aggressively fighting off any attempts at access. Three primary amphitheaters can each hold upwards of five thousand people comfortably, and numerous smaller chapels fill much of the remaining space, each one able to display the three primary chambers to those within. Total comfortable occupancy of the church is in the vicinity of fifty thousand people.

The building has a security force on par with a small army on top of the personal bodyguards of the clergy; outfitted through Mark’s contacts, they could potentially deal with almost any external threat, but they rely on the church’s mesh network for command and control functions, a significant vulnerability if the network were to be subverted by a hostile force.

At present, the church does not appear to be poised to threaten the Klayman compound in any fashion.

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EP: BtF Setup, Part Six

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