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D Is For Damien: Chapter 17

Stunning Information

DAMIEN COULD ONLY stare at his uncle, stunned. It was several moments before he could regain his voice, and say faintly, "What?"

"You heard me the first time," Father Damien replied.

Damien shook his head slowly, still dazed. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Of course you don't. You couldn't. It was before you were born." Father Damien locked his fingers over his knees and looked up at his nephew, then nodded for him to sit down. Damien did so automatically. "Damien, there's a lot you don't know about your parents. They didn't even know each other until they met in the cult. And the only reason they married was because they were forced to do so for matters of convenience."

Damien looked a little hurt by this, but swallowed it and asked, "Who was in the cult first--my mother or my father?"

The priest knew they had been over much of this already, but answered anyway. Damien had a need to hear it again. "It was your father," he replied. "As far as I know he joined of his own free will. Why, I'll never know. But he did. Your mother was forced into the cult by some 'friends' of hers. She was supposed to function as what they call a 'breeder'--a person whose only purpose is to have babies for the cult. I tried to get her out but there was nothing I could do. It was too late to save her or your father--they got to him in the end--so I brought you and your brothers and sisters to safety. By the time that was done your parents had been caught and brought back to the compound, and there was nothing left to do."

Damien remained silent. He remembered having the same feeling, of wishing he could have done more, only his feeling was about something different, but maybe not so very different after all.

"So we were born to be raised by the cult," he finally managed to say. "We were possessions to be used and disposed of as they pleased."

Father Damien nodded. "Used and disposed of. I'm afraid that's true. But don't forget, your mother--and your father--both loved you very much and wished for you to be safe. Never forget that."

Damien shook his head to indicate that he wouldn't, even though he only half believed it. He could never be so sure about his father after what had happened with the cult last summer.

His uncle sighed, obviously sensing his reluctance to believe him completely, and sat back to continue. "But you're probably wondering what this has to do with the D. I'll tell you. Scorpio once had all the D's; the gold and silver ones were smuggled out of the cult by your father before he was brainwashed by Scorpio. That's how I got them back. But there's rumor," he concluded, "that he also managed to find out the location of the diamond D."

"He knew where it was?" Damien exclaimed, astounded. "But where?"

Father Damien shrugged. "Remember, I said I couldn't tell you because I don't know. I've heard that there were only about four people who knew--your father, the former leader of the cult, and two others, I believe."

"My father wouldn't tell us," Damien muttered. "He's probably helping them look for it right now."

The priest shook his head this time. "I don't think so. When he was brainwashed, the cult probably tried to wipe out all memories of the D's, hoping no one would ever go so far as to try to find them all since we already had two--them not having any and us not having them all was better than us finding the last one and having the upper hand. But when Luther came to power, things changed--now they want to have the D's."

"That's one down," Damien said. "And the former high priest is dead--we found that much out last summer and that guy on the phone told me that to get in charge you have to kill the high priest, which is just what Luther did. So that's two down. But what about the other two?"

"One is still with Scorpio," Father Damien answered, "so he's probably helping them look right now. But the other I know personally--and this person has denounced the cult for what it is and what it's done."

Damien sat up, growing excited. "You mean he's reformed?"

Father Damien shook his head once more. "Yes, reformed. But it's not a he. It's a she."

"She?" his nephew exclaimed with disbelief. "You mean that there's a woman who's actually been able to escape the cult?"

"There have probably been several," his uncle said, "though for them it's harder, for the punishment for running away is certain to be much harsher. But she escaped, and I know where she lives."

Damien stood up again. "So take me to her!"

Father Damien stood up as well. "It's not that simple," he said. "Since she's escaped she's been terrified for her life. She doesn't trust anybody and lives with her doors locked. Nobody ever visits her except for a boy who stops by once a week to deliver groceries and mail. That's it. Even I had trouble convincing her to let me see her. She's that frightened."

"But we've got to get to her," Damien said, a note of urgency in his voice. "She's the only hope we have. She'll have to trust us!"

The priest sighed and gazed at the carpeting, nudging it with his foot. "All right," he finally said. "We'll try it. But it won't be easy. I'll go alone since I'm the only one she even remotely trusts, and you might frighten her more."

"No," Damien said firmly. "I'm going with you. She has to help us, and I'm not letting you go alone. Not with what happened to me out there last night in my own driveway."

Father Damien looked his nephew in the eye. Damien stared back, determined to get his way. It was obvious that he wouldn't back down no matter how hard Father Damien tried to change his mind. So the priest merely sighed again, nodded, and left, his nephew following closely behind.

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