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PostPosted: Tue Dec 24, '13, 9:46 pm
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Been a long time...

Probably will be revised later for mistakes, but I had to publish it today
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The Numan was heading back to her room after a little snack late at night when she was surprised by the sight of the blonde girl on her knees, with her head tilted downwards, facing the wall of the laundry. That unexpected view left her worried, and she moved quickly to the place her friend was. Her lithe movements allowed reaching very close to the other woman without being noticed.

“Are you feeling well, Anna?” The purple-haired girl asked before noticing that the contrived position seemed deliberate, as the woman had her hands clasped and a calm countenance.

However, her less than subtle question startled the woman, who quickly turned her head at the unexpected guest. For a fraction of a second, Nei could notice a bit of despair in her eyes, but it quickly changed to plain embarrassment. “Oh, no… no… I am fine.” Anna quickly stood up and tried to pretend everything was normal, however she avoided staring at her friend's eyes as her cheeks flushed.

Unaware of what was happening, the naive Numan acted as if her approach was normal, and tried to satisfy her curiosity. “What were you doing, so?”

“Praying! Just… praying…” With her voice shaken, the blonde guardian hoped a bomb would explode nearby, so her companion would have her attention directed somewhere else. But it would not happen, and her blunt reactions only put her in the spotlight. Nervously, Anna rubbed her hands over her dress as if it were in disarray.

"Praying?" The Numan girl asked with a tone that rung as disdain in her friend's ears.

"Yes, praying..." Her voice was fading as she felt smaller and smaller. Instinctively, she sought a place to hide, but there was none.

"What is to be praying?"

Anna started rolling her eyes instinctively, but ended up sighing in relief. She was so worried about not looking stupid that she ignored the possibility that Nei would not know what was to be praying since the girl who had the appearance of someone in her late teens was less than 2 years old and never had formal education.

With her fears that she would be ridiculed by her friend dispelled, the guardian tried to explain. "Praying is something you do when you are religious..."

"So you are religious?"

"Well... yes..." Anna answered while staring at her own feet, trying to hide her embarrassment. Even if the Numan was in her earnest, being asked about her beliefs was unsettling. It was almost like an accusation, or a trial. And it was even more disturbing when she thought that many people were tried, tortured or even murdered for their beliefs in the past.

"Why?" Nei asked with a simplicity that sounded threatening.

"I... I don't know!" The blonde answered with her voice shaken. The fact that she always had to reveal her religiosity in a defensive manner, like if she was confessing some kind of wrongdoing or attesting her stupidity always bothered her. She realized her answer had been the worst possible and tried to elaborate. "It is not the thing we can explain..."

Her remark was interrupted as she tried to fight her discomfort and stare into her friend's eyes, but the inquisitive gaze she met forced her to look away. She was only making a fool of herself, by avoiding the question. Maybe she didn't have a real answer for why she was religious, and she was afraid that if she thought too much about it, she would conclude she had no reasons for being religious. It had hardly been a source of comfort in her tormented past. Yet, that would be best way to explain it to her best friend. "Well, I think it is the only thing that keeps me hanging on life..."

Silence ensued. Talking about personal things was always the hardest thing for the cold woman, and talking about things the others could not relate was even worse. It made her feel weak. Like the eleven-year-old Anna that passively watched her parents and siblings being murdered in front of her eyes. The Anna she worked so hard to destroy during her teens. The Anna that, no matter what, would always be part of her. She hoped the Numan would turn back and leave her alone, but it was like hoping one's numbers will be drawn in the lottery. At least, Nei's respectful silence made her feel somewhat relieved.

"I see..." The purple-haired girl with empathy level maxed out was evidently eager to hear more about it, but her companion's distress was enough to shut her curiosity for a while. "So that is how people pray."

"Yes..." The guardian tried to finish that conversation, but the silence was disturbing, so she added "You know, Nei, all the bad things that happen in our world... if we will think rationally, what living is worth? If life is a just a sequence of banal events manipulated like puppets by Mother Brain or an unending cycle of tragedies for some like you and me with the sole purpose of struggling to survive and pass our genes to our descendants, destined to suffer more or less the same woes as we did, wouldn't it be better to die?" Anna stopped for a moment, staring at her friend's eyes as if she was looking for an answer or any reassuring sign, but deeply inside she didn't want that the woman was taken by her depressive mood, so she quickly added, staring at the tiled floor of the laundry "I think my self-preservation instinct lead me to believe in something else, thus my religiosity. I feel the need to believe that there must be something more than this pointless existence."

"Right..." Nei was speechless. Not because she was shocked by that sudden revelation, but because it was something completely new for her. She had heard things about Mother Brain that looked as if people worshipped it, but as a creature whose creation in the laboratory was overseen by the huge AI system; her creator was too palpable to be considered a superior entity. Especially when she was just an accident of birth, not her Holy Mother's Holy Child. Every mention of religiosity she had ever heard was with scorn, a stupid thing invented by the ignorant people of the past. Now, at the unbelievable revelation that the all cold and rational woman was religious, she had no opinion of her own to say. She just wanted to listen.

But the blonde didn't feel like having a long talk. "Well, I don't want to bother you with things that don't relate to you or anyone else you know, so..."

"No." Nei interrupted her gently taking her companion's hands into hers and smiling. "If it is important for you, it is important for me. I want to learn more about religion."
The guardian could not resist such appeal to her dormant affectivity, but still felt unsure. However, when she realized that the Numan was directing her to sit in her own bed at the empty corner of the laundry, it was too late to run. Thus, she followed her friend and they sat side-by-side.

“What do you want to know, Nei?”

"I want to know what it is to believe in some religion" The Numan answered.

"Hmmmm... there is not much to it. You just feel that you believe in something..."

"No, it is not what I am talking about." Nei interrupted after noticing her friend didn't understand her question. "I was asking about what you believe and why you believe in that."

"Hmmm..." Anna bit her lower lip. It was probably the first time in her life that she would talk about her religion to someone not religious that seemed to be interested in listening to her, so she didn't know where to start. "Well, I believe in God. You know what it means, don't you?"

The purple-haired girl shook her head. It would be harder that the guardian previously believed. She asked somewhat baffled "Have you never heard about God?"

"No, I did." Nei promptly answered. "But what I have heard is hardly what some believer would say, that is why I want to know what you think your God is."

The Numan meant no disrespect, but the way she asked didn't ring well into her companion's ears, and the blonde woman started feeling anxious. "I believe God is the Supreme Being that has created the Universe and everything into it. Also, He rules it, being omnipresent and omnipotent."

"Like Mother Brain."

"Not like Mother Brain, Nei." The thought that God was like a machine invented by humans was disgusting for the religious woman, who promptly tried to break that association. "Mother Brain is just a set of systems that controls the planetary system. For example, I don't believe God determines if it will rain in a certain day or if some creature will be born."

"Hm." Nei made clear she was paying attention.

"However, I believe God is with us all the time."

"How so?"

"Unlike Mother Brain, God knows what we are talking right now. He also knows what we are thinking and feeling all the time." The guardian made a pause to let her friend think about it or say something in order to test whether her explanation was being understood, and it didn't take long for her companion to answer.

"Isn't it scary?"

"Scary?" Anna was surprised by the unexpected the answer and became worried.

"Yes." The Numan promptly answered. "To have someone knowing every little bit of your life, including your most secret thoughts..."

Anna looked at her friend, who had looked down and blushed. She could not avoid smiling at the obvious. Nei was annoyed with the idea because she must have some thoughts she wished no one ever knew. It was so genuinely human that Anna couldn't help but feeling as if she was talking with her younger sister or her daughter. She embraced the Numan and explained.

"But you don't need to fear Him, Nei. He is not to judge us."

The girl with cat-like ears seemed confused. "So what is the point? Why does this god of yours need to know everything you and I think or do?"

"It is not a necessity, Nei. God knows everything about us because he is omniscient, but no matter what we do, He will always love us and be with us."

"Please, don't be offended, Anna, but if it is so, I don’t understand the purpose of such a God. Looks like having an imaginary friend."

Anna distanced herself a bit from Nei and shook her head, but remained in silence. It was useless to try to explain to Nei what she believed in. Religion in Algol had been quickly suppressed in the past and survived in obscurity. The blonde guardian sometimes questioned the logic of her own beliefs. Maybe she was wrong and all the people she considered futile and vain were right about the non-existence of anything else besides their biological life, and the whole lack of purpose of the existence. Maybe she was just wasting her time trying to solve the crisis affecting Motavia. Maybe she would be better doing like the people she despised and she should just quit her current occupation and live her life without worrying about anything else other than her own well-being. If that kind of reality was stupid, at least it looked less stupid than a concept that she tried to explain to her best friend, but her message came across as if she had created an imaginary friend to provide her some comfort to her loneliness.

With her own faith shaken, Anna tried to end that painful conversation. "Well, Nei, there is a lot more to it, but I don't think it is worthy explaining. Maybe my beliefs are just some kind of glorified imaginary friend, but the laws and the teachings of my religion are what sometimes prevented me for giving free reign of my person to my darkest side." The guardian sighed deeply. "Maybe it is even the only factor that makes me not want to put a bullet through the skull of a certain non-human."

"Anna!" The Numan reacted with a mix of fear and awe. She had never seen he friend be so bitter about anything, and the girl was afraid she had offended the other girl so deeply that it was reason enough for her to break their friendship, or even to start hating her.

The guardian was mad and burst in rage. "But it is true, Nei! If it weren't for my belief in God, I would be like those people that harass you and threaten to kill you because they don't care if a person dies; they just want to see their ridiculous lives free of anything that annoys them! They don't care that you are a girl with feelings, dreams and the ability of loving other people! They just want to squash you under their feet as if you were just a disgusting bug!"

The girl swallowed hard as tears started rolling down her cheeks. "But no, I wouldn't do that
and do you know why? Do you have the faintest idea?"

"No..." The purple-haired girl was so frightened that she could not hide her hands were trembling with fear.

"Because God taught me to love the others as I love myself! That... that is why... I don't want to see you suffering... crying... That is why I love you as were my little sister..." Her voice was fading as she started to weep harder. "Many times I failed, and my sins will grant me a place in the hell, but at least I tried... I tried... I swear I tried... I tried to love everybody..."

The blonde burst in tears, leaving the Numan speechless, and relieved the anger was not directed towards her. Nei hated to see people crying; especially when it was the one she never expected to cry. She was certain that her remarks had offended her friend. If God had taught people to love each other as they loved themselves, nothing else was needed. It was so much wisdom in one sentence that Nei could not deny that despite she not understanding almost anything of what Anna tried to say, the guardian did not need to say anything else in order to justify her beliefs. The Numan was convinced and satisfied.

She stayed in silence, looking around, and waiting for her friend to recover. There were some objects over the drawer that attracted the curious Numan attention. Her tongue was burning inside her mouth, but out of respect, she waited for a while, and then approached her friend carefully, gently caressing her hair.

"Anna..."

The guardian answered between sobs. "Forgive me, Nei... I overreacted..."

"No, dear, it is I who own you apologies..." The purple-haired girl added with a sweet and reassuring voice.

"No, Nei... I... I am the one to blame... I am so silly pretending I am though and rational... and superior..., but I am a hateful woman..."

"It is alright, Anna, you know you are my best friend here...”

"Nei..."

Anna stared at her friend, with her eyes wet. There was such a blue glow into them that provoked a strange feeling inside the Numan's chest. Such a warm and pleasant feeling, a blissful moment. The girl with cat-like ears was so moved that she started caressing her friend's cheeks and soon both girls were locked into an embrace of the purest affection.

They stayed in silence for a while, experiencing a fragment of heaven, until that blissful feeling dissolved as both girls became aware of their materiality again.

"May I ask you something?" The Numan asked shyly.

"Of course." The guardian answered calmly, as if the previous argument had never happened.

"What is that cross?" Nei asked pointing at the silver object over the drawer.

"Oh, the cross..." The blonde girl felt relieved it was not that difficult to explain. "It is a symbol of our faith."

"Hmmm, interesting."

"According to our beliefs, once our Lord has made himself human to save the mankind for their own pride and selfishness that was leading them to forget God and live only according to their own desires. Much like people here in Motavia nowadays. But it happened in ancient times in a remote place, said to be outside Algol.”

“Wow! Really?” The Numan was really impressed; her mind was crowded with different thoughts and feelings. “To think the same kind of thing happened in another place in another time… isn’t life strange?” Then, turning to Anna, she said, visibly excited “Tell me about what happened.”

The blonde woman was not very sure about how she would make a summary of the story, but she decided to not think too much before answering.

“According to the records that survived, it seems that He lived in a very poor place, born from poor parents, and had the life of a common man of His time, and it wasn’t until He turned 30 that He started his mission, preaching, teaching and showing people the truth about our eternal lives, and the real God. However, the rulers of that age used religion to oppress the population and keep their power through distorted views of their gods, so they condemned the God's son to death.”

“So there are other gods too?” The Numan asked.

“I believe only in one God, but some people used to believe in many different gods too. I know it seems strange, but in the past, different cultures used to have different religions. I have read some scientific theories about that too, but I think I digress here.”

Satisfied with the answer, and realizing a good explanation would make her friend lose her thread of thought, she went on to ask another question that was bothering her. "Okay, but your God had a son?"

"No, Nei, we usually refer to his incarnation as God's son, but it was part of God himself."
The Numan looked confused "I don't think I understand... But, tell me about him. What happened?” Nei tapped repeatedly her friend’s thigh, as a sign of her excitement.

“After he helped many people and taught them things about life and afterlife, fought prejudices and denounced the hypocrisy of the ones who claimed to be religious authorities, He was condemned by these authorities and crucified”

“What? Did they kill God?” The Numan was genuinely disturbed. Wasn't god supposed to be the most important thing in the life of a religious person? How could common people murder the omnipotent?

"In a certain way, eyes." Anna explained. "But it was part of His mission in Earth. His body died, but he forgave humanity's errors and resurrected in the third day to provide people his last teaching: that life continues after the corporeal death."

The purple-haired girl interrupted with a question. "So do you believe we survive our deaths?"

"Yes, I do. I don't believe we would live that struggle for nothing. That is why it is important to have a dignified life and fight for what is right."

"I understand..."

The Numan scratched her head. "Not really, I am still quite confused…”

"I know, but it is not something you can learn in fifteen minutes." The guardian laughed. "But did you know that centuries ago there were many temples that bore large crosses here in Algol?"

"Really?" Nei asked, surprised, since she had never heard about that religion before.

"Yes. My religion was followed by many people back then."

"Interesting. I wonder what happened..."

"Beats me." Anna shrugged. "Probably materialism and Mother Brain made people stop believing. Religion is a personal thing, but thrives in communities of people with the same beliefs."

"Well..." Nei was trying to organize the information in her own head. "How did you learn about all that?"

“It was during my dark teenage days..." The blonde was laconic as always when talking about the past. "I had nothing to do but to read old books no one cares about these days and I came across some religious texts. The message touched me, and it was what gave me strength to carry on during the hardest days of my life... I believe I would not be here if it was not for my beliefs..."

"I understand." Nei smiled. She didn't know much about the mysterious woman's past, but she knew that it had been at least as tragic as hers, and probably much worse. The tragic past and the loneliness were what drove one girl to the other and the Numan was glad for that thing she didn't comprehend fully existed to save all that sweetness and kindness in her friend from destruction. Yet, there was still something bugging the curious Numan's mind.
"Anna, why do you pray?"

"I pray when I want to talk to God. Sometimes we pray for things to happen, some we thank Him for the blessings, sometimes we pray for our family, friends and deceased, and sometimes we just want to get in touch with our Father."

"But he is always with you and knows everything..."

"He is always with me, but..." Anna blushed, "I am not always with Him. That's why I have to take some time to focus my mind and heart on Him..."

"Hmmm..." Nei was now feeling guilty for interrupting her friend's prayers. "Forgive me for intruding; I didn't know it was serious..."

"Don't worry, dear." Anna gave her a reassuring smile.
"If you feel at ease talking about that, I am curious to learn about what you were praying for."

"In fact, according to the tradition, tonight is the night people celebrated His birth as a man. We call this day Christmas. That is why I was praying..."

"Hmmm..." Nei was embarrassed. "Can I... pray too?"

"Of course you can!" Anna had a broad smile in her face.

"But I don't know how to do it or what to say…"

Anna changed her position in the bed, turning to Nei, crossing her legs over the bed and stretching her hands with palms turned upwards. "So give me your hands, close your eyes and think about good things."

Nei shyly followed Anna. She sat on the same position, facing her friend, and held her companions hands. It was a strange thing to do, and she could not focus her mind on good things as her companion has ordered. Suddenly, Anna started whispering some words. At first they startled Nei, but there was such a power in the way her friend spoke those words that the Numan became involved. "Our Father who art in heaven... Hallowed be thy name..." The purple-haired girl started feeling something peculiar, as if her companion's hands were getting warmer. "Thy kingdom come... Thy will be done..." The warmth seemed to be irradiating to the Numan's body. She was feeling as if the other girl had cast a technique on her. "On earth as it is in heaven... Give us this day our daily bread..." The warmth reached the Numan's heart, and before she could notice her mind was focused on those words. She was mesmerized by the power of those simple words. "And forgive us our trespasses... As we forgive those who trespass against us..." Nei had become completely absorbed by the prayer. "And lead us not into temptation... But deliver us from evil. Amen."

After Anna had finished praying, she opened her eyes and noticed her companion still held her eyes closed. Out of respect, she closed her eyes and resumed praying, in silence. A few minutes passed before the Numan left her trance, taking her hands back.

"Wow! It was... different... than anything I've ever experienced." Nei smiled at Anna.

"Thanks."

The purple-haired girl stood up and started getting ready to leave. Anna felt no need to ask her friend what she had thought of praying. It is something personal and she didn't want to force the other girl to give her an answer. Besides, she didn't want to force her into her own religion. She loved Nei the way the Numan was, and in her mind she knew that regardless of her beliefs, the innocent hybrid of humans and animals was destined to go straight to heaven after she departed that world. However, she had something to say.

"Thanks for spending the night with me, Nei. It was the first time in my life that I had celebrated Christmas with someone else."

The Numan turned back and answered with a smile. "I promise you it won't be the last."
The Numan left the laundry and went back to her room. It was quite late, but she was feeling comfortable. She felt so light that she could almost float in the air. The girl had many doubts about religion, she was not sure if she had understood what Anna tried to explain. Above that, she didn't know if she was a believer of not. She didn't feel a strong drive towards religion, neither a great opposition. And the girl didn't want to take any decision at that moment.

However, she had a lot to thank Anna's God. It didn't matter if he existed or not, the fact that he was responsible for saving all that sweetness and kindness for being destroyed by the terrible circumstances her best friend had to endure in her life, there was a lot for Nei to thank him for.
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