'Father.' Guard number two called me back and nodded to my dusty-looking Bible. 'Where did you say you were from?'
Jayci wide-eyed me from under her wimple. 'Catholic Compound Twelve,' I said, as confidently as I could.
Guard number two pursed his lips. I could tell he wasn't convinced by our getup. 'And is Compound Twelve the nearest of the churches hereabouts?'
'I believe that the nearest church to here is Compound Ten,' I said, making my best effort not to blink. 'But between you and me, I think that the reverend fathers there have become rather hardened by years of life in the big city. They don't seem as concerned for the souls of people here as they should be.'
'Is that so?'
I went for broke. 'Our mission is sanctified by Padre Reyes at Twelve. He's been a serving priest under the Fallen Cross for over fifty years and is the holiest man I have ever known.' I placed my hand upon my heart in an attempt to convey my sincerity. If this turned ugly, I was going to have to shoot a man while wearing a cassock, and that would be a first for all of us.
Guard number one balanced his gun where we could see it. 'The military has stood down for now by order of the government. A local team has had to step in for a short while for your safety and security. If you turn around to where the crowd is gathered over there,' he pointed, 'you'll see that there's a notice about a public meeting due to take place in the canyon later today. That will explain everything for you.'
'Thank you, sir,' Jayci said. She touched both her shoulders, her forehead and her heart. 'Blessings be with you. If either of you fine gentlemen find yourself in need of spiritual guidance, you can always contact me-'
'Come, sister,' I said, taking her arm and guiding her away. 'Let us not disturb these good men any further.'
When we'd gained a few yards of safe distance, Jayci whispered, 'Why you gotta do that?'
'Because you're the least convincing nun ever, and the sum total of all the information we gathered we could have got just by reading the noticeboard in the first place.'
'I don't know about that. We got confirmation our guys over there are private security, and ain't no-one else but Di Vio's men could be armed with those sort of guns. And besides,' she said, twinkling at me, 'dressing up is fun, right?'
'Lord, preserve me,' I replied.
Jayci Hail Mary'd and scattered blessings in her wake as we made our way through the crowd to where the notice had appeared. It was a simple poster, six feet wide, hand painted.
'CITY-WIDE MEETING ON SECURITY. ALL INVITED, BY ORDER OF MAYOR BELASCO. BASE OF CANYON 6PM.'
'That's when they're going to make the handover official,' I said.
Jayci pulled off the scarf and the sheet, letting her braids tumble loose. 'Then we should thank the Good Lord that we've got some time to prepare, shouldn't we?'
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