There are a lot of factions out there – 10, in fact – fighting for dominance over the magical underworld of the city. Most of them are pretty creepy, in your experience. Since you’ve Awakened to your new life, you’ve been courted from all directions, most of them unsavory. There’s organized crime, mass surveillance, questionable genetic experiments, and who knows what-all. But the Church of Eternal Life? Oh it smells like a cult, sure, even more than it smells like patchouli. Sometimes its members seem just a little too happy. But you reserve judgment. For the most part, the place feels like a mostly-innocent haven for lost souls seeking the truth. You haven’t bought all the way in, yet, but no harm in working for a bunch of hippies trying to reach a higher plane, right?
The Church’s leader, Guru Dan, is an odd one. He wants everyone to see him as this loving spiritual advisor, who wants you to get to a point of “greater peace with yourself.” You can’t see anything wrong with that, exactly, though you always feel just a little unsure of things when you leave Dan’s presence. Plus, he has some strange ideas about life and death that are…questionable. Long story short, you don’t know if you can trust him or not, but as these things go, he doesn’t seem particularly dangerous. Honestly, he just isn’t the type of guy to have a world domination plan. (You don’t know what he hides in his dreads, but you’re pretty sure it isn’t a doomsday weapon.) Sure, maybe he’s a little too charismatic, even with the slightly orange spray-tan. But you don’t let it affect you. To your mind, the Church is a great place to be who you (now) are, get steady work, and not worry about doing a lot of harm. Nobody was ever killed by a leaflet, and you haven’t seen any Kool-Aid at the office parties. Maybe Dan has some minorly evil plans? You can’t bring yourself to worry about it that much.
Shalini, though – she’s the one who recruited you – she’s a true-believer. She’s so touchy-feely and new-agey that it’s hard to take at times, but she’s just so earnest. If anyone knows the good that the Church of Eternal Life can do, it’s Shalini Vipattiwala. She’s gotten real hope and guidance from this place, and holds together a community of others in the Church who have found the same thing. Her every utterance may be florid and rife with platitudes, but it’s clear that she believes it all. It’s hard not to love her a little, even when she’s saccharine enough to make you puke. And it’s hard to believe that someone like Shalini could be involved in anything truly bad.
Then again, perhaps she just doesn’t know. You don’t, after all.
Once you join the Church you are given a partner in crime – uh, in missions – named Leaf. His initial appearance shakes you: his face is half burn-scars, half cold and dour expression. He does not speak, but instead communicates in a seemingly personal sign language, which further throws you until you realize he is translating directly into your mind.
Curiouser and curiouser.
Another true-believer, he was brought in by Shalini as well, and has found great peace and comfort in what the Church provides. He probably won’t be thrilled to discover that there’s anything wrong in this storefront sanctuary, though as a vampire, his life and death problem has already been solved.
What will you do about yours?