Female Crusading Virtue Girls:
Virtues Unite – The First Crusade
Maria Ciliega sat on a chair in the break room after her shift ended for the day. She was an average looking woman in her early twenties. She had light skin, green eyes and wavy caramel-colored hair hanging down to her shoulders. She was wearing her work uniform, a red shirt and black pants. The break room in question had white and black tiles on the floor in a checker board pattern, a black refrigerator, and a white microwave. There was in addition, a television and two vending machines each one for drinks. She sat down watching a superhero show, Agent Jupiter, on the television set; she sighed.
"You always get to save the day." she said looking for the television. "All I am is a simple lot attendant at a grocery store."
Her friend and co-worker, Cheyenne, came in. She was a little heavier set. The two of them were friends since they first met in Kindergarten. She had light skin, shorter brown hair, and blue eyes.
"Hey Cheyenne." Maria stated as she waved to her. Cheyenne noticed her and waved back.
"How are things going, Maria?" she replied as she walked over.
"I'm doing fine. I, finally, get to leave for the day. Eight hours at a cash register is not fun."
"I hear ya." Then a voice was heard over the loudspeaker.
"Maria, please report to the back." the voice stated.
"Really?" Maria stated with a frown appearing on her face. "I just punched out. Do I have to go to the back?"
"I don't know why you are being called to there." Cheyenne added. "If it was one of the offices it would make sense. But why are they calling you anyways?"
"I don't know. Regardless, I'll head back and check. Then, we can head to the park."
"I'm glad you remembered." Cheyenne smiled. "I thought you were going to forget."
Maria left the break room and headed down stairs. She walked past the line of cash registers, the ones in the center were a self check-outs. She walked past the service center and she arrived at the pharmacy.
"Oh, Hello Maria." a guy at the pharmacy said. He was wearing a grey hat and had a braided goatee. Maria turned to him.
"Oh hello there." she replied.
"I was able to fill up the prescriptions that you requested to be refilled."
"Okay, I'll pick them up when I return to the front."
"I'll hold on to them."
She walked to the back area of the store. It was still inside. There were extra groceries ready to be put on the shelves of all kinds, so many boxes and packages. There were two areas for trucks to drop off their good and three compacter; One for plastic, one for cardboard and the last one for trash. But the one for plastic was currently broken. Maria didn't find the one that called her.
"That's odd. There's no one here." She thought. "It might be some sort of prank." But then, noticed the bag of plastic bags upstairs near the stairs heading down. "Just what I need some lazy guy to leave some bag for me to clean up. I just wish things could get better." She picked up the bag and noticed what sounded like a song but didn't understand what was said. "What's that?" She remembered the radio was broken; she heard it from downstairs.
She carried the bag downstairs with her. At the bottom of the stairs, she came to two doors. The one on the left was made of iron leading to the electricity supply for the store. The door on the right was made of dark oak wood. She looked around the door post noticing that a lavender outline was around it.
"Who's doing the paint job down here?" She thought. Before she opened the door, she could hear the song was on the other side of the door and noticed it was a chant of some sort. "Well, here goes nothing." She opened the door and looked inside. "What in the…"
Instead of the spare shelves for the store and a pile of plastic bags that she had gotten use to seeing. She had saw in that small area a field of grass growing where the floor should be and above her was the sky dark blue as in the evening. She walked into the field and the bag in her hand disappeared and a feelings of calm and serenity had instantly removed her stress from the day.
"Wow, it's so calm and peaceful here." she stated. "The designer must have outdid himself." She looked around and noticed that no one was in the room yet the calming chant continued. "What are they saying?" Maria said. She had a feeling from above her and she noticed a star above her moving. "Huh?"
The chanting continued as the star moved towards towards her. Maria stepped backwards in fear and awe. The star changed shape into a ghostly tall humanoid with a slender build wearing a white flowing robe with his palms together as though in prayer. She saw he had one blue eye on his right and a red eye on his left. Those were the only features that she was able to make out.
"Hello." he said. She jumped back in fear. "Do not be afraid. I mean you no harm."
"Is there a reason for this?" she asked him.
"I am here, aren't I?" he stated "Simple as that, you don't have to worry about anything damaged, Maria."
"Who are you and how do you know my name? And what is going on here?" she responded.
"I go by the name of Jonathan." he said. "I've been waiting for you."
"Waiting for me?" she said stressed out. "For what?"
"For your destiny to emerge and for us to meet face to face, duh."
"What's this destiny thing?"
"I can't say right now, but I will say this. You will end up back here again tomorrow."
"Until then, see you later." He turned back into a star and went back into the star and the chant stopped. She left the room and up a few stairs turned around and went back down, seeing the room return to normal.
"You mean that field was just an illusion?" Maria thought with a look of disappointment on her face.
"Maria. Maria." She started to hear Cheyenne's voice.
"Cheyenne?" Maria asked; she turned around and saw her.
"What are you doing down here?"
"I was just putting a leftover bag of plastics down here." She looked and noticed the ring around the door was still there. "It's still there."
"What's still there?" Cheyenne asked.
"The lavender ring around the door." Maria replied.
"What ring?" She asked. Maria pointed to the ring. "Maria, I don't see a ring."
"But it's there, don't you see it?" Maria replied.
"No, I don't." Maria sighed.
"Okay, we should leave and go somewhere." Maria was trying to get what she saw out of her mind as she and Cheyenne punched out. As they left, the pharmacy man tried to pursue to get their attention.
"Wait, Maria." he stated. "You forgot your prescriptions." He wasn't able to get their attention or catch up with them.
The two girls decided to go to the park for it was a beautiful day in early spring in the year 2038, she and Maria sat down on an iron bench with pine wood by the sidewalk. The flowers have yet to bloom. They were having ice cream cones during that time.
"This is sad." Maria said. "None of the flowers or creatures has come back yet."
"Yeah." Cheyenne replied. "But that's life, you have to keep waiting."
"I wonder what it'll be like." Maria stated.
"I'm not sure."Cheyenne replied. "This is the only green spot in the entire city. You can't get your hopes up."
"I'm also imagining what it would be like…" Maria asked.
"You can't be thinking about the past." Cheyenne replied. "It just a bunch of old stuff nobody cares about. You got to think about the now. You can't be thinking about fantasies."
Just then, a pizza car was driving by and it hit a pothole. The tire blew out as the driver lost control of the car. It stopped in front of the girls. The girls jumped out of the way.
"Hey watch it." Cheyenne replied.
"Well, sorry." the guy in the car said. The car window rolled down and Maria's breathe was taken away. The driver was a slightly muscular man with blue eyes and had spiked short red hair. He was dressed in green shirt and blue jeans. "It didn't mean to get to the side.
"My apologizes." he stated as he left the car. He checked the car and saw that his back right tire was blown out. "Damn, the tire's gone bad." He went to get the spare tire from the trunk and Maria walked up to him.
"Watch your tires next time." Cheyenne said.
"What's your name, though?" Maria asked him.
"Me?" the man said. "I'm Brian. I'm sorry for scaring you."
"No, you didn't do anything wrong." she replied.
"Thanks." he replied. "I'll get this tire fixed and I'll be on my way."
"Hey, Brian." she asked. "Will we see each other again?"
"Possibly." he stated I work at the pizza shop.
"Okay. I hope to see you later." She said.
"All right. Same here." He replied.
"That was unexpected." Cheyenne stated. "A guy gets in an accident right in front of you."
"I know. That was unexpected." She answered in reply.
"If you want to see him again, then go to the pizza shop and ask you want to hang out." Cheyenne stated but she saw that Maria was watching a chipmunk running around the tree.
"That's a cute chipmunk." Maria added.
"You never changed since Kindergarten. You tended to have a clueless yet happy-go-lucky attitude." She answered.
"And you're little Miss Richie." Maria stated to her.
"I heard that." Cheyenne rebuked. After spending some time with Cheyenne, Maria went home.
That night, Maria was lying in bed in her pajamas. The image of the field and the mysterious stranger couldn't leave her head. She clung to her teddy bear.
"What did he mean 'my destiny'?" she thought. "Well, he said I'll be there tomorrow, so I'll ask him when I get there." She went to sleep after those thoughts.
The next morning, she woke up and after getting dressed and realized that she forgot to pick up her prescriptions at work.
"Oh no. I forgot my meds." Maria said. "Why am I such a scatterbrain? And the latest issue of Agent Jupiter was coming out today." She rushed over to the store she worked at and made it to the pharmacy counter.
"Ah, there you are, Maria." the pharmacy guy said. "I was worried you wouldn't come back."
"I just remembered in time." But while traveling through the store, she heard a load intrusion coming from the entrance.
"EVERYONE, GET ON THE GROUND!" She heard a guy shout. She heard gun fire too. The sounds of panic echoed throughout the store as Maria fled in fear into the back forgetting about the reason why she was there. She saw one of the intruders following her; in terror ran down the stairs. She went through the wooden door on the left hand side. And pulled out her cell phone and tried to call the police.
"Crap, there's no signal." she stated. She heard a criminal was coming down the stairs, so she hid behind the pile of plastic bags. And the armed criminal came into the room. There was silence in the room. He laughed.
"I know you're in her somewhere." the criminal stated. "Come on out, I'm not going to hurt ya. Much." Then, some chant was being heard again. "What the hell?"
"I remember this chant from somewhere but what is it?" Maria thought. Then, a star appeared from the ceiling and change into the humanoid shape from before. "I wasn't imagining things. It's John."
"Who the hell are you?" the criminal asked him. John said nothing but he gave off a bright flash of light at him. He dropped his gun, screaming in pain. "AHH! MY EYES!"
"Away with you, foul being!" he shouted towards him. "Leave NOW!" And the criminal ran away. The area turned back into the meadow and sky from before. John turned to Maria with calm eyes. "Maria, don't be afraid. But I understand why you decided to hide. Fear is a basic human emotion."
"What am I to do?" she asked him.
"Maria, you have a great power that you have and until now you were completely oblivious on its existence." He explained.
"But I'm just a lot attendant." Maria rebuked in disbelief. "How can I fight them?"
"You have a power to fight the forces of darkness in this world that mourns, pleading for aid." he said. "I want you to fight the intruders off from the store with your power… unless you're chicken."
"I'm not a chicken."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure."
"Then, I shall ask you this." he explained. "Will you, Maria Ciliega, fight against the forces of darkness in this world with the power that has been granted to you?" She sighed gathering her courage.
"Yes, I will." Maria said.
"Maria Ciliega, humilis Virgo, excitare de somno." he said. Maria's eyes widened as a light came from her chest engulfing her completely.
Her clothes disappeared as an ambient wind blew around her. It was replaced with a violet top and skirt. She had lavender lacing under the skirt and lavender gloves and boots. On her chest was a plumb of lavender with an amethyst crystal in the center. Then, some of the ambient winds that swirled around her came to her forearms. In the right hand, it solidified and turned into a gladius. On the left arm, it solidified and turned into an iron shield.
"Wait," she thought. "What is this feeling?"
"This is the power within you." he replied. "It is now awake and the gentle winds are at your command."
"So, I've become like Agent Jupiter?" she asked.
"Yeah… you're now like Agent Jupiter." he said. "Can we get back to what is going on?"
"Fine, so what do I do now?" she asked.
"While this happened, the police are approaching the store but won't make any progress. The burglars will try to escape through the back." He explained. "Where we are currently are. You must prevent them from leaving that way."
"And I have to fight them?" Maria asked.
"Our advantage is that they are unaware of your presence." He added. "My purpose is to guide you on your journey. As for now, you must fight." He disappeared as a star and Maria returned from the downstairs to the back room of the store. She still had her new look on.
"Okay, Maria." She said. "Get it together, girl."
"Hey, there is no way out of the front." A bandit from the other side of the door said.
"I'll head to the back and make an escape route." Another stated. A bandit ran through the door and saw Maria. "Out of the way, girly." Maria lifted up her hand by reflex and a powerful shot of air blasted him in the face stunning him. Seizing the opportunity, Maria headed towards him. He aimed the pistol and fired but missed every shot. A sword strike from Maria knocked him out.
"How did I do that?" Maria thought as she looked at her hand. "Well, at this point there is no going back now." She noticed another bandit coming so she hid inside the open meat cooler.
"Hey, what's going on back here?" That bandit asked." He noticed the unconscious person. "Holy crap." He picked up a com-radio he had with him.
"Guys, we got company back here." he stated into the com-link. "I don't know what's back here."
"Well," a voice stated. "Find out what it is. I'll send back some more guys to aid." Maria hid in the shadows as more came. All of them came in with guns.
"Okay, spread out and search for anyone who should get in our way." the bandit said to the rest. "Then, either kill them or capture them for an extra hostage." A bandit went over to look for Maria. She was hiding and the bandit found her.
"I found a girl in a purple skirt." A bandit shouted.
"Capture her." the bandit leader said. "She'll make an excellent hostage and…" She banged his head against her shield. "GET HER!" The bandits ran to her. The bandits didn't draw the guns not thinking she was an actual threat.
A bandit from the front charged and she bashed him with her shield. Another charged and she swung her sword and he got back from her. As this occurred, a nebula formed at their feet covering the ground. A bandit from the rear tried to flank Maria, an arm formed from some of the stuff. That arm lengthened and punched the attacking guy hard in the solar plexus knocking him back.
"What the hell is this?" that bandit asked. Maria didn't notice the strange arm but noticed the ectoplasm. From it, a silhouette of a man formed with glowing yellow eyes. He was behind Maria but looking towards the bandits.
"LEAVE THIS PLACE AND NEVER RETURN!" the silhouette shouted at the bandits behind her. The bandits dropped their weapons, screamed in terror, and ran away in fright. The silhouette turned to her. "Maria, go and fight. I shall protect your flanks and rear." She turned and saw the specter. From his voice, she knew it was Jonathan protect her.
"John, you look scary right now." She stated to him.
"Okay, since you put it that way. I'll possess cute little animals from now on." He replied. She brought her shield and sword up and fought the bandits. The bandits that didn't fight fled towards the front terrified and fled through the front door.
"RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!" they shouted. "THE STORE IS HAUNTED!" The news had sent shivers down the spines of the employees. The bandit leader heard this and slapped his forehead.
"For crying out loud," he replied. "There is no such thing as ghosts." At that moment, Maria as the maiden of humility came in.
"Hey you," she stated to him. "You shouldn't be picking on these people." He saw how ridiculous she looked and busted out laughing.
"Are you, out of all people, going to stop us?" the bandit asked her.
"Uh… Yeah." she replied.
"Well then, I'll just have to kill you then." he replied. He pulled out a machine gun and started to fire at Maria. He brought up her shield and dodged behind a counter. She fired some wind blasts at him. The wind knocked out and jammed the gun as she advanced towards him. He pulled out a spare pistol and aimed. Maria got close enough and swung her sword before he could fire any ammo. The gun was thrown to the side. "I'm not going to give up that easily." He stated as he headed toward his pistol.
"Quick, use your finishing move." Jonathan said to her.
"I have a finishing move?" Maria asked.
"Yes." He replied.
"I don't know how to use it." she replied back to him. She threw the sword at the bandit leader. The blunt end struck the bandit's head knocking him out.
"That was not exactly what I had in mind." he stated. "But excellent job."
"Thanks." She replied.
"You better get out of here." he added. "The police will arrest you thinking you are with the other bandits." The police came in as she left through the back. Everyone was in confusion on what happened. People did get pictures of her fighting the bandit. Meanwhile, Maria and Jonathan were in the back storage room where the ring was.
"Can you promise me one thing?" Jonathan asked Maria.
"What's that?" Maria asked in reply.
"Never reveal to anyone that you are a magical maiden." he replied. "Never reveal that you were the one that fought the bandit."
"How come?" She asked.
"You would endanger yourself and those around you if you did." he explained. "This will not be the first time that you will become the maiden of humility."
"Okay." She said. "Now, now do I transform back?"
"Wait, don't transform yet…" he added. But it was too late, she transformed back but she was in a very ridiculous outfit. Jonathan gave her clothes back completely folded neatly.
"Your clothes were teleported to a pocket dimension, so they could be stored for later use." He explained. "I asked you to wait so I can get them." She grabbed her clothes and hid behind a crate to put them on.
"Wait, if my regular clothes are there, then what am I wearing?" She asked. John held up a mirror to her and she was shocked. "Holy cow, I end up looking like Madonna."
"And not the Virgin Mary, either." He stated breaking the fourth wall. Maria came out completed dress this time.
"Just what exactly are you anyway?" She asked.
"Like you said before a ghost." He explained. "The ghost of a man that used to be." Then, he faded away.
"Well, at least I don't have to worry about this anymore." she thought. "It's probably a one-shot comic issue."