Sister Imogene Mary Herdman, Natural Soldier

By William J. Keith


In Nomine statistics (basic)

Corporeal Forces: 1
Strength: 3
Agility: 2
Ethereal Forces: 1
Intelligence: 3
Precision: 2
Celestial Forces: 4
Will: 6
Perception: 10

Attunements: (eventually) Purity of Purpose, Divine Mediation

Relic: (eventually) Pocket Bible

Skills: Teaching and Theology are her main skills -- she's a nun that works with kids in her area, including teaching Sunday School. From childhood, she still remembers a bit about Lockpicking; she actually keeps Fast-Talk and Move Silently at decent levels. She also has the usual human skills: driving, knowledge of her area, how to get along in rougher neighborhoods.

GURPS statistics (Not a straight conversion from the above. The system, not unsurprisingly for such an odd human, broke a bit.)

ST 9
DX 8
IQ 12
HT 9

Advantages: Natural Soldier package (with Celestial Power Investiture +1 instead of Corporeal); (Attunements may come later) Purity of Purpose; Divine Mediation; Strong Will +3; Alertness +6; Clerical Investment.

Disadvantages: Reduced Hit Points -1; Imaginative.

Quirks: wants to find elder brother Roger; energetic about expressing her opinion; smoker (about once a month, but fairly expensive cigars).

Skills: See above for the same general notes.

Equipment: (eventually) Pocket Bible(relic); standard accoutrements of a middle-aged nun in a major city.

It happened in the sixth grade. Imogene Herdman went Mary-crazy.

The Christmas pageant was what started it, of course. She got a picture of Mary and started carrying it around, and after that nobody could say anything bad about the Holy Family around her. Horace Reiner said that Joseph seemed pretty out of it most of the time, and Imogene thought he was saying Joseph was stupid or high or something and gave him a shiner for it. His mom was so mad that she actually went up to Sproul Hill to see the Herdmans about it, and came back with the same eye blacked and her purse missing. Nobody thought it was really fair, either, because anytime someone said something like that and Imogene had given them what-for, she always went down to the church and asked the same questions.

Father Morrison was good about answering them, too. Imogene could ask the kind of questions that made you think very carefully about the answer, like what God used His bow for before He made it a rainbow -- did He shoot things with it? But Father Morrison always had an answer that seemed to satisfy her. He told her Bible stories, the kind he thought a Herdman would like, which might have been a mistake, because he told her about the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah just before the annual pot-luck dinner, and Imogene had asked that Sunday in front of all the middle-school kids how anyone was sure that Lot's wife wasn't in the salt shakers.

That one bothered us, a lot. How did you know, really? So we stopped eating salty foods -- even Eugene, the fat kid -- like potato chips and french fries. The Tasti-Lunch Diner was hit so hard that whole week that they asked a man from the salt company to come out and give a talk, and he explained about where they got salt from (they dig it up from a mine, would you believe it) in Texas, and nowhere near Sodom, which was over in the Middle East. He took the kids down to the Tasti-Lunch Diner and ordered fries for everyone, and Imogene made sure to watch him eat some before she stole pocketfuls herself to take home for dinner. But the adults said that he had paid for the fries already, and it was for anybody that wanted some. Besides, they said, they hadn't ever seen their kids eating as healthy as they had that week, so everyone (except maybe the Tasti-Lunch people) was happy with it in the end.

Eventually some of the kids starting hanging out at church after school in the back pews to hear Imogene (sometimes with her siblings tagging along) ask strange questions of Father Morrison. (It was always Father Morrison, and I learned a long time later that he figured out when Imogene would be coming in the afternoons and made sure he was putting music in the choir's places, and not in the confessional or something, so he could be seen.) It was like catechism, but a lot more interesting. Alice Wendleken, who was in the same grade with me and Imogene, was one of those that stayed and watched, because (she said) she liked to hear Father Morrison defeating the infidel. She was like us, though -- waiting for Father Morrison to get around to Hell.

He had avoided the subject for a long time, talking about Heaven(where you went if you were good), and Purgatory(where you went if you were bad but sorry for it), and staying off of Hell for a while. But he got around to it one day, and we all watched. And he didn't beat around the bush or anything once he got started. He explained about eternal torment, and how you got there (you were bad, and you weren't at all sorry for it), but good Catholics didn't have to worry about it. We all held our breath and looked at Imogene.

Imogene rubbed her ankle for a second, and turned to look at her brothers and sister. "Figures," said Alice. "She'd never think she'd be the one going. She was never sorry for anything she did." I was sorry, though. You couldn't do something bad, knowing it was bad, and then claim you were sorry later, because you wouldn't truly be. But right that moment, I was truly sorry that it would be un-Christian to slap Alice Wendleken.

Because if you'd ever seen Imogene with her shoes off, you'd know that she'd burned her ankle when the Herdmans lit Leroy's (stolen) chemistry set on fire and burned down an old building. And she was looking at Gladys, the youngest, and I saw her face. To me, she looked afraid. Not for herself -- Imogene Herdman would die before she showed fear for herself -- but for Gladys and the rest of them. I think I was right, too, because she turned back to Father Morrison, and with a stare that you could use to ring the bells and a voice that could have been them, asked, "Where do you sign up to be a Catholic?"

And that was pretty much the turning point. Alice fainted dead away, and I don't think she was ever quite the same again. She even helped the Herdmans learn their catechism, though I think she partially wanted to show off too. The Herdmans weren't the best of students -- they still didn't go to school unless they were bored -- but they learned it eventually, and Gladys and Ollie went through Confirmation and everything.

Except for Roger, the Herdmans all eventually graduated high school -- sort of. The high school teachers weren't any happier about having two Herdmans in the same class as the elementary school teachers had been. Some of them might have been able to stomach it, but Imogene and Gladys at least started pulling passing grades, and the boys were terrors enough that they moved on. Roger probably would have graduated if he had stayed, but he had never caught on to church, and he hopped a railroad car at 16 and left town. Some people said Imogene couldn't threaten him hard enough because he was bigger than she was, which I think was maybe true. Anyway, he took the cat, which relieved a lot of people.

The boys that stayed got jobs doing stuff around town, and Gladys left for the city and got married. Imogene had other plans, though. She never really stopped asking questions, and finally Father Morrison decided the only thing to do for it was to send her off to become an expert. The next time I saw Imogene, I had been invited to a dinner with her at a place near her convent because I was moving to the same city.

I knew her instantly. There she was, sitting at a table, comfortable as ever, wearing her habit and smoking a really expensive cigar. If I had ever thought I'd see a nun smoking a cigar and public and not at all ashamed about it, it... well, no, it probably wouldn't have been Sister Imogene Mary Herdman, because I never would have pictured her in a convent in the first place. But there was still something right about it. Something that was very much Imogene and nobody else.

She was looking at a list of names, which I guessed were the kids she worked with. I saw "Laurence" and "Christopher" circled as she put the list in her pocket and greeted me. I didn't know who they were, or why she was interested in them -- but I grinned as I hugged Imogene and thought: whoever they were, boy were they in for it.

Imogene is a natural Soldier who was located just after she took her final vows. It wasn't hard to notice her -- she just talked about things. How was she to know that all nuns didn't start seeing things and hearing music everywhere after they became nuns? Angelic PCs who make contact with the young nun "having visions" (though she's quieted down about them) may be in for some genteel inter-Word rivalry as several Superiors try to claim Imogene's services.

There certainly will be competition -- Imogene will make a valuable Soldier. Not on the front lines -- despite having fleshed out a bit as she grew up (added 1 to Strength) and settled down from her initially scattershot style (added 1 to Precision), she is, bodily, rather fragile. No, what makes Imogene so incredible is the shining soul that lives in her. She combines the elusive (for Heaven) human perspective on the Symphony with a piercing eye for essentials that rivals all but the most perceptive angels, and a will cast in bronze that was forged early in her life. Almost any Word would consider her an asset; the Sword will be particularly appealing to her for its patronage of the Church, the Wind for its excitement and fun in Heaven's service, and Children would reflect her work in the Church, which is trying to reach out to the youth of the city.

Imogene can also be encountered as a recruited Soldier working for nearly any Archangel, possibly provided with both Attunements and the Relic from the recruitment process -- then left with them when she put them to good use in her work. (Imagine a teacher that can quiet down any class by speaking to them, or judge any dispute fairly; and do the same on the rough streets of a bad neighborhood.) She can also make an excellent Disturbance monitor, a good source for clues if she finds out some of the plot (just have her notice something in the story she's told), or a colorfully observant "advisor" NPC.


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