Gold Cross / Gold Shield
By Eric Bertish
Being a Soldier of God is tough. You can find yourself halfway around the
world being stalked by demons, when you have an eight o'clock board meeting
to present a proposal you haven't had the time to write. Sometimes your
assignments are so ineffable that you question your sanity and/or faith, but
you can't talk to anyone about it because a priest will think you
blasphemous and your therapist will diagnose you as dangerously delusional.
You risk life and limb and soul for The Greater Good, but selflessness
doesn't put food on the table or pay your daughter's orthodontist bills, and
your job is in jeopardy because angels don't quite understand that humans
need downtime for rest.
Enter Marc. His choir nature enables him to understand the nitpicky details
of human existence, and through his Word he sees that acts of selflessness
by Soldiers of God often cause them more harm than good. That isn't a fair
Gold Cross/ Gold Shield doesn't really exist; it's actually several
wholly-owned subsidiaries spread throughout the corporate healthcare system.
If it were one company, it would far too easy for Gamesters to track
Soldiers through the paper trail. As it is now, Marc has several Kyriotates
whose sole job is to lose paperwork and change procedure, while at the same
time using multiplicity multitasking to keep the system running and
accessible to other angels of Trade. This system, codenamed Gold Cross/Gold
Shield, provides benefits to Soldiers and their families as a part of what
Marc calls "Heaven's Compensation."
Every Soldier of whom Marc is aware -- and his people are in constant
contact with Laurence's -- is issued a new health insurance card. Sometimes
this is through the Soldier's old healthcare system, if a policy change
would arouse suspicion, but frequently a new account is opened with a new
provider. There is absolutely nothing special about this card, as it is
neither relic nor reliquary nor talisman. It is simply a card for an account
with a specific routing number, and when a Domination of Trade sees this
number he contacts his friend here who talks to this other Kyriotate
there and... well, it gets confusing at that point. The upshot of all
this is that Gold Cross provides 100% subsidized healthcare for not only the
Soldier, but also his immediate family. This includes not only the standard
medical/dental/optical package, but also comprehensive counseling and
substance abuse programs, as well as elective/cosmetic surgery procedures.
(Looking good means feeling good about oneself, which leads to increased
confidence, which leads to happier and more productive Soldiers.)
It is important to note that at no time is money stolen from individual
humans or insurance companies to pay for all this. The vast majority of
funds come from yet another of Marc's projects, More Money Than God (to be
detailed in another post if I can ever get help with it), and the rest from
Marc's personal salary.
At first, this sounds like a life insurance policy. And, to a certain
degree, you'd be right. Gold Shield does in fact pay off in the event that a
Soldier is killed in the line of duty, at rates which will not attract much
notice but will still ensure the financial stability of a family if its sole
breadwinner is killed. (Disablement is rarely a problem, as in extreme cases
angels with extensive knowledge of Corporeal Healing and large Essence are
sent to administer "physical therapy".) Its biggest benefit, though, is one
that is rarely seen but constantly felt: peace of mind.
It's all well and good for a human to endanger himself by serving Heaven and
fighting demons -- that's the point of free will -- but is it fair to
endanger his family as well? Marc doesn't think so, and so he subcontracts
with Zadkiel to provide Protection for the Soldier's dependents.
Unfortunately, God may infinite but angels aren't, so it is frankly
impossible for every family member of every soldier to be under 24-hour
watch by an attuned Cherub. However, every family is guaranteed at least one
guardian angel whose sole job is to protect them from demons and the more
violent aspect of corporeal life. Vessels in the form of domestic pets are
favorites, especially in families with children. Angels of Children
frequently work closely with this branch, and Cherubim of Jordi sometimes
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