The Industrious Sisters of St. Joan

By Moe Lane


The symbols of the Order are a crossed sword and ruler ... and every Joanite carries the latter.

Don't bother looking for them: they don't have a chapter on the corporeal plane. They are usually too incredibly busy in Heaven to even be Saints. The Joanites are a pretty eclectic Order: despite the name, they are not exclusively Catholic (or even Christian - there is a large Buddhist contingent). However, they do have one thing in common (well, two): they are all female, and they were all nuns on Earth.

Raise as many eyebrows as you like about the concept of being a "Bride of Christ", but it's a fact that there are a lot of nuns in Heaven. The reasons for this are obscure: Servitors of Destiny smilingly decline to discuss the matter, and there's a faint crackle of ineffability surrounding the situation. Many of them ascend the Ladder, of course, but many do not - and those that choose to stay inevitably get drawn to the Halls of Worship. In fact, 'get drawn' may not be the best phrase: 'swarm' is possibly unkind, but arguably more accurate.

As a result, nuns have dominated Laurence's organization from the very beginning. There are nuns everywhere, ranging from secretaries to administrators to combat instructors (the last may seem incongruous, but only to those that have never attended an American Catholic school). Indeed, the blessed souls that are not nuns are easy to pick out, as they tend to stand out in the crowd.

It should be remembered, by the way, that apparent age is pretty much a personal statement in Heaven: while many Joanites find that an older appearance is useful for their tasks, quite a few see no reason why they should not appear to be, oh, seventeen. This can lead to amusing tableaus when the Joanite is, say, an armored cavalry instructor. It should also be remembered that the formal debate over whether religious vows made on Earth have any validity in Heaven raged for five straight decades. The Archangel of Judgement was finally forced to officially rule that the decision be left to personal choice - until the Almighty saw fit to make a decree on the matter, of course.

The Order has a very loose structure: aside from formal ceremonies, there isn't much of a need for an organization. Joanites do have a Mother Superior: Elena, a sixteenth-century Spanish nun who found herself more or less eased into the position as a result of being Laurence's personal secretary. Luckily, the extra duties are not particularly onerous: whole years can pass without requiring Elena's serious attention to Joanite affairs. Frankly, this suits her fine: she has over six thousand administrators to oversee, and that's just in Laurence's inner sanctum. She barely has time to work on her sociological studies and paratroop training as it is.

In general, the Joanites are well thought of by the Archangel of the Sword: Laurence has always been respectful of the clergy, and he deeply appreciates the work that the Order does. Their devotion to the cause of Heaven is clear, and Laurence formally honors it whenever he can get away with it. Whether or not he notices that in some cases the devotion is more - shall we say, focussed? - towards him is dependent on the campaign. The sillier the campaign, the younger the Joanite (keep them nubile, though) - and the more clueless the Archangel.

Joanites have no formal uniforms - most wear whatever they wore on Earth, suitably modified for active work. Of course, 'active work' can require drastic changes to costume: a variation of a wimple is universal, however. Sixteen-year old battle nuns in skin-tight laminar armor with plasma rifles really should be saved for the silliest campaigns, however ... or, hey, In Anime! They'll fit in just fine there.

Keep the rulers, though.


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