Father Horst

Priest of Lalonde Group Seven. Assigned by the Unified Christian Church to that location because of his general faultiness as a religious leader, his skepticism and shaky faith. Horst is a recovering alcoholic. He brings a “medical block” with him to Lalonde. Rectangular in shape, the block measures 25 centimeters long, 25 wide and three thick. It has several peripheral accessories and a powerful stored knowledge of every known human illness and suggested treatments. This makes him Group Seven’s primary medical specialist in addition to his religious standing. Discovers the existence of Quinn’s Satanic cult from a conversation with Ivets as they build his church. This is too much for the weak priest and he immediately responds to the obvious sacrilege of such people building his church by going on a drinking binge with a bottle of Scotch. Later, he witnesses the coming of the reality dysfunction with the sacrifice of Powel Manani. The unstable priest is almost a victim of possession himself but for the distraction created by the Ivets discovering Camilla. He escapes to Aberdale and is able to warn Ruth and Jay Hilton just become the village begins to burst into flames and the possessed begin to overtake the unsuspecting settlers. At Ruth’s urging, he takes Jay and flees into the jungle.

The next day following their escape from the destruction of Aberdale, Horst and Jay Hilton returned to the village to determine the situation. He saw that only the children of the village remained “normal”. All the few remaining adults were acting “devoid of purpose, walking slowly, looking around in befogged surprise, saying nothing.” When one adult blasts their own child with a fireball, Horst rushes out of hiding and confronts the possessed person. Another fireball if aimed at Horst. He holds out his crucifix and ignores the pain that the attack causes. His lack of fear (and perhaps the crucifix itself) intimidates the possessed somewhat. But, when he accuses the possessed of being the Devil’s servants, one responds. Hamilton writes: “A spasm of fright crossed Brigitte Hearn as the silver cross was shaken in front of her. ‘I’m not,’ she said faintly. ‘I’m not the Devil’s servant. None of us are.’”

When Horst asks why the possessors are sequestering innocent humans, he is told of the utter nothingness that awaits in the beyond. He further inquiries as to why so many bodies are being possessed. The reply is that “Together we are strong. Together we can change what is. We can destroy death, Father.” He is then told that the children are not possessed because the souls from the beyond want to come back to strong, vital bodies, not the frail ones of children.

Horst takes the injured child and all the children with him. Jay assists him by fetching various items as the group leaves Aberdale for the last time. The event had changed his life. He lost weight, toughen up with all the manual labor he was suddenly required to do. His situation gave his life (and faith) renewed meaning, to protect the children and see them to safety. He promises the children every night that the Confederation Navy will come to their rescue. In the meantime, the tiny group have taken over an abandoned homestead on the savanna.

During routine foraging one day, Father Horst happens upon the Reza Malin scout team and immediately believes he and his horde of children are saved. His experience on Lalonde, though terrifying and hazardous, has renewed his spirit. “I have seen such evil, foul, foul deeds,” he tells the Reza scout team. “Such courage too. I’m humbled, the human spirit is capable of quite astonishing acts of munificence when confronted by fundamental tests of virtue.”

He arranges a service of commemoration at Tranquillity for those who sacrificed their lives for the children Joshua brought back on the Lady MacBeth. In presenting the news to Joshua and seeing the anguish in Joshua’s face that he harbors for the entire affair, Horst says: “There is more to death than the beyond. Believe me, I have seen how much more with my own two eyes.” He does not reveal to Joshua what this is. He simply states that it would be something different for Joshua, leading the later to conclude that “We have to come to faith in our own way.” After the service is held he approaches Joshua and gives him a small wooden crucifix telling him that “I had it with me the whole time I was on Lalonde. I’m not sure if it’ll bring you good luck, but I suspect your need is greater than mine.”

In a discussion of his experiences on Lalonde with Tranquillity’s bishop, Father Joseph Saro, he disagrees with the bishop’s perspective on the relevancy of Jesus Christ. Who can tell what the real truth about Jesus is anymore, the bishop wonders. Horst responds that the only relevant fact is that Jesus existed historically and that His essence has been carried by the church through the centuries. “Christ showed us the human heart has dignity, that everyone can be redeemed,” Horst says. “If we have faith in ourselves, we cannot fail. And that is the strength we must gather if we are to confront the possessed.” Horst is completely confident that there is something more to death than the beyond. When the bishop wonders about the myriad of faiths and all their differences in the face of the absolute reality of the beyond, Horst answers that all faiths have the same origin. “The notion that we are something more than flesh and mind alone. People must have faith. If you believe in your God, you believe in yourself. There is no greater gift than that."