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CONTENT WARNING
The following content contains discussion of religion, sexual abuse, racism, and homophobia. Please proceed at your own discretion.
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Season 0, Episode 3
Air date 2/25/21
Written by CaT
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Wrong X You is a minisode for Tech Cross, taking place between episodes 9 and 10.

Episode

“You said you wanted to talk?”

After a week of zero communication, Claire had texted Anne saying she wanted to talk to her about something. The two had met in a small, isolated park on the west side of the valley, with the wind rustling the leaves on the nearby trees as they talked.

“Yeah.” Claire said. “Look, about what happened with Messias, I...I know I already said this, but, I’m sorry. Putting the blame on you for what he did to you was wrong. I-I didn’t know he was so...so violent.”

“Yeah, funny thing about rapists.” Anne responded dryly. “They don’t really care about your personal well-being.”

Claire went silent.

“If I’m being honest, I’d always wanted you...wanted everyone...to go through what I did.” Anne looked up at the sky. “Every time people talked about me under their breath, every time they looked at me with barely-hidden disgust, I wanted them to experience what had happened to me, what that hole I had been dropped into really felt like.”

“But that night, you and Challice both tried to protect me.” Claire shifted uncomfortably. “If you wanted that to happen, then...why bother?”

“Because when I had to face the fact that it might actually happen, I realized just how much it made me sick.” Anne looked her in the eye. “Until then, it felt like such an abstract idea, and I was so bitter, that I never even considered how vile of a wish it was.”

“Oh.” Claire looked down at the ground. “So...what now?”

“What now?” Anne repeated with a sigh. “I guess...that depends on you.”

“What do you mean by that?” Claire asked with a confused stare.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that you apologized to me, and I’m glad you were able to drop your ego enough to do so.” Anne said. “But I’m not the only person you need to apologize to.”

“...You mean Challice, don’t you?” Claire grimaced slightly.

“She took a bullet for you!” Anne sternly reminded her. “That’s the second time she’s saved you from dying when she had zero obligation to! How many times is she going to have to put her neck on the line for you to figure out she’s not a bad person?!”

“I just...it’s not like I want to hate her, you know?” Claire threw her arms out to the side. “But what else am I supposed to do? ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’, I know, but if the sin is such a core part of their identity, what’s the point of trying to keep up with that double standard? Optics? Trying to make yourself feel better? It just makes you a liar!”

“Do you really believe people loving each other is a sin?” Anne asked impatiently. “Just because they’re ‘the wrong gender’?”

“Come on Anne, the church says-”

“I’m not asking the church, I’m asking you.” Anne interrupted.

“I believe what the church believes!” Claire protested. “That’s the whole point of living the gospel, isn’t it?!”

“Yeah, but does that make it right?” Anne pressed. “The church has been wrong before!”

“Oh, really?” Claire folded her arms with a huff. “Name one time they did something wrong.”

“Priesthood ban.” Anne said flatly.

“W-well, that was-” Claire stammered.

“Child brides.” Anne interrupted her again.

“Okay, that was in the 1800s, that shouldn’t count-”

“Proposition 12.”

“That’s only a bad thing if you support-”

Covering up sexual abuse!” Anne yelled, making Claire jump a bit.

Claire stood in awkward silence as Anne turned away and tried to calm herself down.

“I just...” Anne took a deep breath and turned around to face her again. Who are you, Claire? Who are you?

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Claire raised a confused eyebrow.

“Exactly what it says!” Anne threw her hands out in exasperation. “Tell me, who. You. Are.”

“Well, I...” Claire paused for a moment. “I’m a young woman, and I’m a child of God. Simple as that.”

“Congratulations, we have successfully established that you are a human female.” Anne grunted. “What else?”

“What do you mean ‘what else’?” Claire huffed. “What else is there?”

“Gee, I don’t know, maybe a personality?” Anne snapped. “Hopes, dreams, ambitions, likes, dislikes, anything that gives me an indicator of who you are beyond a religious shell. Anything!

“What do any those have to do with this?!” Claire argued. “It’s just a bunch of pointless nonsense!”

“If you won’t answer the question, then I’ll do it for you!” Anne scowled.

“What are you-”

“Your name is Claire Smith!” Anne pointed at her. “You like pudding but secretly can’t stand jello! Your dream wedding would be in the Honolulu temple! You love animals and treat them as your friends! In first grade you said you wanted to be a park ranger when you grew up!”

“I- Why does any of that matter?” Claire asked in bewilderment.

“You love art and painting! You...you stood up for me! You showed me respect and human decency when nobody else would!” Anne started to choke up. “You were my friend! None of that is pointless, and none of it is nonsense! It’s you, Claire! It’s you!

“I know all that! I know I’m me!” Claire snapped. “But I’m not what matters! The church is what matters!”

“Then why?” Anne looked her in the eyes. “Why, for ten years, did you go against what everyone around you was saying and try to be my friend?”

“I just thought everyone was treating you unfairly!” Claire answered. “I thought you needed a friend!”

“I did.” Anne said. “But according to the church, I was being treated just fine. So why, with just this one thing, did you do something for yourself and not for the church?”

“Because I loved you, okay?!” Claire shouted. “You were like the sister I never had! You were family! The most important commandment beyond loving God is loving one another, remember?! Everyone else could say what they wanted to, there’s no way love could be wrong!”

“Then do you see the issue here?!” Anne shouted back.

“That’s different!” Claire protested. “Same-sex attraction is just perversion! There’s no such thing as true love there!”

“You’re wrong” Anne shook her head and solemnly placed a closed fist over her chest. “I used to think the same thing, but over this summer, I realized...if those feelings weren’t true...”

Anne took a deep breath and lowered her hand to her side.

“Then what I’ve been feeling lately wouldn’t exist.”

Claire’s eyes widened.

“W-wait, what are you talking about?” She asked nervously. “You- you can’t mean-”

“I do;” Anne cut her off. “It took me a while to figure it out and come to terms with it, but...” Anne paused, taking a moment to let her anxiety subside as she said this out loud for the first time. “...I’m in love with Teresa Challice.”

A dead silence fell over the area as the two looked at each other. Anne was a bit nervous; she had admitted her feelings towards Teresa in order to try and prove a point, but it was a huge gamble. Even with her long history with Claire, she had no idea how she was going to react.

Claire, for her part, had no idea how she was going to react either.

This was not what she expected to be hearing today, or, in all honesty, ever. Ten years as friends, and she had never even considered the idea that Anne might be attracted to women. Had Anne even considered it before leaving the church? Granted, she had never shown any interest in guys, but Claire assumed it was a result of her experience with Messias, not that she- what on earth-

“I-I think I need to sit down.” Claire mumbled, slowly lowering herself to the ground.

“Well, I’m not sure what I expected.” Anne grunted, sitting down cross-legged in front of her.

“I...I just...” Claire shook her head in disbelief. “You? Challice?

“Yeah.”

Why?

“Because, she’s...” Anne sighed. “...I don’t know, I don’t think you’d understand. Even if you did, why would you care? It’s all just ‘perversion’, isn’t it? Why would the reasons matter?”

Because you’re not like that!” Claire exclaimed. “You’re not a pervert!”

“Neither is Teresa!” Anne pointed out. “Has it ever occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, we’re normal people like everyone else?! That there’s nothing wrong with us?!”

“That just doesn’t make any sense!” Claire argued. “If being gay wasn’t wrong, why would the church be so against it?!”

“Because people don’t like the idea of progress!” Anne said. “Do you even remember its history with things like race?! Ezra Taft Benson called the civil rights movement a ‘Communist plot’, for God’s sake!”

“Stop bringing up random stuff like that!” Claire scowled. “Yeah, the church has a bad history with race, but it’s not the gospel’s fault! All those leaders who supported racist decisions were acting as men, not prophets! They were wrong!

“Then how do you know they’re right about this?!” Anne retorted.

“I...I just know, okay?!” Claire doubled down. “Everybody knows! It’s not up for debate!”

“You’re right, it’s not up for debate!” Anne snapped. “There’s no actual evidence that it’s evil! It’s normal! It’s natural! It’s part of being human! Why can’t you acknowledge that?!”

“Even if everything you just said is correct, that doesn’t make it right!” Claire hissed. “God gives us commandments for a reason! If you of all people say you’re in love, then I guess I have to believe that, but that kind of love isn’t what matters! God is what matters! If he says it’s wrong, then it’s wrong! You can’t let sins control your life!”

“If this love is a sin, I will gladly face God as I walk backwards into hell.” Anne narrowed her eyes to accentuate the point.

“Wha- Don’t say something like that!” Claire’s eyes widened in response. “Do you have any idea how serious that is?!”

“From a religious perspective?” Anne sighed. “Yeah. I know how serious it is. But I stand by it.”

“But why?

“Because if God exists- and I’m not even sure on that anymore- I can’t pretend that I can follow him if he rejects the love he apparently created in the first place.”

“Same-sex attraction isn’t created by God, it’s created by the devil!” Claire stated.

“Actually, I asked him about that.” Anne said. “He just kind of gave me a weird look and said “Why the hell would I do that?”.”

“Wait, asked who?” Claire’s face scrunched up in confusion.

“The devil.”

“How would you even-”

“You remember that Lucius Raivent guy?” Anne asked. “He’s the devil.”

“What do you mean ‘he’s the devil’?”

“I mean he’s the devil.” Anne reiterated. “Hellfire and everything. Saw him take a guy’s soul a couple days ago. Pretty sure it’s why Messias was so hostile to him, come to think of it.”

Claire stared intensely at her, eyes wide, brow furrowed, and mouth agape.

“...You’re screwing with me, aren’t you?”

“I kind of wish I was, but no.” Anne shook her head. “Look, we’re getting off-topic. Let me just run through this chain of logic real quick so I can understand your reasoning.”

“O...kay?”

“You think homosexuality is wrong because God thinks it’s wrong, correct?”

“Duh.” Claire rolled her eyes.

“And how do you know he thinks it’s wrong?” Anne asked.

“The bible is pretty blunt about it.” Claire answered.

“Well, who wrote the bible?”

“Prophets, obviously.” Claire snorted.

“How do you know they were prophets?”

“It says so in the bible.”

“So you know the people who wrote the bible were prophets because the bible says they were prophets?” Anne questioned pointedly.

“I can see what you’re trying to do here, so knock it off.” Claire huffed. “Look, you can give me these run-around arguments as long as you want, but it’s not going to change the fact that I have a testimony of the church. I don’t need worldly justifications to know it’s true.”

“And there’s the lynchpin.” Anne sighed. “In the end, it all comes down to faith, doesn’t it?”

“Exactly.”

“Well then, you’re right about arguing with you being a waste of time.” Anne tsked. “That said, I do want to know; what exactly is the center of your faith?”

“Jesus, duh.” Claire snorted. “It’s literally called ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’.”

“Ah, yes, of course, it should’ve been obvious from your behavior!” Anne sarcastically remarked. “Remember all those times Jesus said ‘Yo, bullying the gays is epic’? It was my favorite lesson in Sunday School.”

“Oh, come off it, Anne!” Claire scowled. “You did all the same crap as me when you were in the church! Where do you get off trying to invoke him now?

“You’re right, I did do the same things as you.” Anne admitted. “I was so afraid of losing the only friend I had that instead of trying to be a positive influence, I just kept caving and enabling you. I wasn’t even following my convictions like you were; I was just being a coward.”

Claire wanted to say something in response to this, but she didn’t really know what point she’d even be trying to make.

“If...if I had been stronger, you and I probably wouldn’t even be arguing right now.” Anne continued. “If I had just said something, maybe Teresa wouldn’t have had to suffer so much.”

“Okay, don’t you think you’re being a bit overdramatic about the Teresa thing?” Claire rolled her eyes. “You’re talking like we actually got her to kill herself or something.”

Anne’s only response was a silent, solemn glare. It took a few seconds, but Claire eventually picked up on the message and turned a bit pale.

“C-come on, you’re not saying she actually tried, right?” Claire stammered, trying to rationalize to herself that she was reading the situation wrong.

No response.

“...Well, um...” Claire cleared her throat as her hands started to feel a bit clammy. “...Might have taken it a bit too far, then.”

“You think?!” Anne snapped.

“How was I supposed to know that would happen?!” Claire protested.

“Did the thought not cross your mind once that she might try to kill herself after you kept repeatedly telling her to kill herself?!” Anne demanded.

“I didn’t think she would take it seriously!

“How else was she supposed to take it?!” Anne asked incredulously. “We’ve already established that you hate her just for existing!

“I don’t know!” Claire replied. “Just...not like that!

“It’s a shame your heart wasn’t in it.” Someone sighed nearby. “I was almost proud for a moment.”

Anne and Claire turned their heads towards the voice. Standing near them, casually twirling a white parasol, was Joshua Messias. The two of them scrambled to their feet, with Claire looking frightened while Anne stepped in front of her, reaching into her pocket.

“What are you doing here?!” Anne growled. “How long have you been standing there?!”

“One question at a time, please.” Messias tsked, taking a moment to put down his parasol and adjust his suit collar. “I just got here a few minutes ago, actually. You two were so busy with your little discussion here that I was able to simply walk up unnoticed.”

He stopped twirling his parasol and folded it up, using the tip to point at Claire.

“I was rather impressed with how you held your ground until you learned that the Challice girl almost died.” Messias said. “You’re still lacking that last little bit of dedication there.”

“I-I mean, I don’t actually want to kill anyone!” Claire stammered out.

“And Nephi didn’t want to kill Laban, but nevertheless, he did what the Lord commanded of him.” Messias stated. “The scriptures teach us that sometimes we must lay our own moral scruples aside and do what is best for the gospel, not what is best for us.”

“That’s a riot coming from you.” Anne hissed. “All you care about is satisfying yourself.”

“Well, now, that’s hardly true.” Messias scoffed. “You have no idea what I do with most of my time. Just because I need to relieve myself of my worldly desires occasionally, it doesn’t mean that the rest of what I’ve done suddenly counts for naught.”

“And what exactly is it that you’ve been doing?” Anne narrowed her eyes.

“Preparing, of course.” Messias answered as if it should have been obvious. “There’s still much work to be done before this Christmas.”

“Christmas?” Anne looked at him suspiciously. “What are you planning?”

“You’ll see when the time comes.” Messias waved her off. “At any rate, I do believe I still need to explain why I’m here in the first place.”

He abruptly lunged at Anne, trying to grab at her neck, but she quickly rolled out of the way.

“Are you seriously trying this again?!” Anne snapped, pulling the Silver Break BootLock out of her pocket.

“Yes and no.” Messias huffed and dusted off his sleeves as he spoke. “See, I’m trying to get you and Challice in the same place at the same time. I tried abducting her to use as bait for you, but there were...some unforeseen complications with that. So I’m trying it the other way around. Simple enough, don’t you think?”

“Why do you want to catch us together in the first place?” Anne glared.

“We’ll just say I have plans and leave it at that.” Messias stared down at her. “Now, if you would kindly contact her for help, we can get through this much faster.”

“No way in hell.” Anne spat. “I’ve hurt her enough already. I’m not going to put her in harm’s way again.”

“Do as you will, I suppose.” Messias sighed, pulling out an item resembling a keycard and scanning it in front of his left eye. “She’ll come either way when she finds out I have you.”

Anne pulled up on the BootLock’s loop as Messias loaded the keycard into the slot on the back of his hand. Through the purple light of her transformation, she could see a thickly-armored module generating around Messias’s arm and sprouting a massive mechanical claw.

“I’m giving you one chance to leave, Messias.” Silver Break cracked her knuckles. “I’ve gotten some practice in with this form. Get back to whatever factory that android body of yours crawled out from, or-”

She was interrupted as the claws on Messias’s arm module suddenly retracted and a small cannon was produced from the center, shooting her in the gut with a blast of green light. The attack shut down her transformation and sent the Silver Break BootLock flying out into the grass nearby. Stunned from the sudden detransformation, Anne was left open as the module’s claws extended again and grabbed her by the abdomen, pinning her to the front of the module with a hydraulic vice grip.

“You really would have been better off just listening to me.” Messias tsked. “Challice already knows about that ability of mine and could have warned you ahead of time.”

“Screw off.” Anne hissed.

“Always so hostile, honestly.” Messias rolled his eyes. “Now, I’d like to have both of my arms free by the time Challice arrives, but I need to keep you from going anywhere in the meantime, so...”

The module’s claw abruptly tightened its grip, producing a sickening crunch as it snapped apart Anne’s spine, making her scream in pain. Messias casually lifted her into the air and tapped on her knees to make sure her legs’ reflexes were gone.

“That takes care of the legs, but I suppose there’s still the possibility you might crawl away using your arms.” Messias mused, bringing Anne back down to eye level. “Tell me, would you rather have those crushed or removed? I’m flexible.”

“Messias!”

He turned to find Claire holding up the Silver Break BootLock with a terrified expression.

“I-I mean, Bishop Messias!” Claire gulped. “Th-this was y-yours, right?”

“Ah, I almost forgot about that.” Messias hmmed. “Claire, you’ve always done as I’ve asked. Bring that over to me, would you?”

Claire nervously approached him, glancing at the limp lower half of Anne’s body. Anne was groaning in pain; while she couldn’t feel her lower body anymore, the claws had crushed a significant amount of tissue in her torso above the point where the spine had been broken, and she was still perfectly capable of feeling that.

“You see this, Annabelle?” Messias gestured to Claire as she came to a stop in front of him. “If you were more like Claire, you wouldn’t be having to endure any of this right now.”

Messias reached out his hand, waiting for Claire to hand him the lock. She lifted it up, but instead of giving it to him, she whirled around and placed it in Anne’s hand, pulling up on the lock’s loop for her. Messias tried to knock her away, but it was too late, as Anne transformed into Silver Break and immediately channeled some of her power through her torso, shattering the entire front end of the module.

“You little-” Messias seethed as he grabbed Claire by the hair and threw her to the ground. “What do you think you’re doing?!”

Silver Break scooped up Claire and jumped to safety a few meters away, setting her down on her feet.

“You just spent several minutes explaining why we cannot tolerate those with same-sex attraction!” Messias snapped at Claire. “Why would you throw away your standing with me to assist someone who just admitted to being unashamedly homosexual?!”

“Anne is my friend!” Claire said, still noticeably shaking. “I-I can’t just sit here and watch you torture her!”

“Then leave!” Messias yelled. “This isn’t complicated!”

Claire moved to respond, but Silver Break stopped her.

“Don’t bother trying to reason with him.” Silver Break advised. “He’s too far gone.”

“You should save some breath yourself, Annabelle.” Messias growled. “You’re not going to have much of it left.”

“Try me.”

“Are you forgetting how this ended last time?” Messias dispelled the remainder of the broken module and shifted both of his arms into cannons. “You still need Challice to save you either way.”

“I know perfectly well what happened last time.” Silver Break replied. “That’s why I’ve been practicing.”

“There’s more of that deluded cockiness of yours.” Messias narrowed his eyes. “It’s about time I corrected it for you.”

Messias fired off a volley of energy blasts at Silver Break, who jumped into the air and used her powers to propel herself further upwards, volleying over the attacks. Initially disoriented by this sudden display of athletics, Messias simply took aim and fired towards her again.

She used her shattering on the air once more to create a vacuum that pulled her sideways, out of the energy’s path. While this strategy had been working out so far, she knew there were only so many blasts she’d be able to dodge. Glancing around the area for any potential environmental advantages, she caught sight of the trees nearby and came up with an idea.

While dodging another volley of shots from Messias, Silver Break started angling her vacuums to make her start spinning in midair. She began channeling her power through her entire body, which combined with the spinning motion to kick up a small but powerful wind funnel that she aimed at the trees, stripping them of their leaves until a massive spiral of them formed around her.

She adjusted her angle again and shot herself and the tornado of leaves flying straight at Messias. His attempts to shoot her down were foiled as the energy blasts only succeeded in blowing apart several chunks of greenery.

Silver Break slammed into Messias at full speed, performing the same double-footed energy-channeling kick she had on Crow’s Turnabout. Without Turnabout’s Target-Reversal Field present to deflect it, the attack’s effects were immediate, sending waves of shattering force through Messias’s body and shattering at apart all at once.

She skid to a halt on the ground behind where Messias’s body had stood, taking a moment to breathe before standing up straight and detransforming. The tornado of wind died out, allowing the leaves to slowly flutter to the ground around her.

“You really have been practicing.” Claire mumbled, staring at her wide-eyed.

“...Yeah.” Anne turned around to look at her. “Thanks for the save, but...why’d you do it?”

“I already said why.” Claire’s brow furrowed.

“I know, but with the conversation we were having, I guess...” Anne sighed. “I just didn’t expect you to think I was worth it anymore.”

“I’m not soulless, Anne!” Claire huffed. “Even if you are...that, I know you. You’re a good person. You don’t deserve any of what Messias did to you, and you especially don’t deserve to suffer it even more.”

“Then do you understand, at least to some extent, how I must feel about Teresa?” Anne asked pointedly.

Claire went silent. Anne walked up to her and put a hand on her shoulder as she passed.

“Just...call me if you want to talk, okay?” Anne said. “I don’t know if this friendship can ever really be salvaged, but...I think it’s worth a try.”

With that, Anne left Claire alone to reflect, the wind continuing to blow through the trees as she went.

Characters

Notes

  • You only wish I was joking about an LDS prophet calling the civil rights movement a communist plot.
  • I only wish I was joking about the LDS church covering up sexual abuse.
  • Most if not all of you aren't gonna have a clue what the Nephi and Laban story is, so let me explain:
    • In the Book of Mormon, Nephi was a prophet and God sent him to get some golden plates (plates like ancient tablets, not silverware) from this guy called Laban. Laban got blackout drunk and fell over in the middle of an alleyway or something, and God was like "yo Nephi, now's your chance, kill the dude" but Nephi was like "but God, isn't murder bad?" to which God said "actually if I tell you to do it it's epic" and he eventually convinces Nephi to cut off Laban's head and steal his clothes so he can sneak into his house and yoink the golden plates.
      • Kids get told the story of Nephi a lot in the LDS church and I'm not gonna lie in hindsight it was pretty weird that I was taught "murder is okay sometimes" at age 4.

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