S4

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S4 - REINA REGENTA

In 1888 the rumor of gold was heard tell in the Green River Gorge, and the newly platted town of Franklin swelled with the influx of "Eighty-eighters" hungry for the shiny yellow stuff. Most of the prospectors struck out, but some of these stayed behind in Franklin as fresh converts to the End Dome Church. After the rail line went through connecting Issaquah to the territorial capital at Olympia, it was easy for cousins of the new converts to make their way west to new lives as wives of the former prospectors. When the Washington territory entered the Union as a state in 1889 the End Dome Church had grown large enough and influential enough to ensure the state government did not outlaw cousin-marriage for years to come.

Gradually the tabernacle on the summit of End Dome was expanded into the vast white wooden edifice of the End Dome Temple. When it was completed many secondary tabernacles had been established throughout the US and Europe, but all End Dome funerals still took place at the original site.

After the Great War broke out in Europe many End Dome tabernacles in France and the Low Countries were destroyed by stray shells, or even shelled deliberately perhaps. At the bidding of the Prophet, a special collection was taken up across the US to bring succor in the wartime mission field. With these funds in hand, Prophet Lange boarded the steam liner Reina Regenta in Seattle with about a quarter-million dollars in gold bullion to aid the faithful in those nations torn by the conflict, which was the first truly industrial war in the history of the Earth, raging across much of the world. Survivors of the voyage of Reina Regenta through the Panama Canal and across the Atlantic told of the divine patience of Prophet Lange as he was dogged day and night by a Seattle newspaper reporter on board named Rupert Keller, who obviously had a beef with the End Dome "cult".

When the ship was in the frigid waters almost precisely in the center of the Atlantic Ocean, far from any help, she took two torpedoes from a German U-boat. Reina Regenta listed sharply to the side, drowning half of her lifeboats. Frantically, the lifeboats on her port side were laden with passengers and released but there were not enough of these for everyone and no chance of raising the floundering ones on the starboard side. Women and children went first, and then old men were allowed to board. The Prophet Lange was placed in the last lifeboat, but before it was lowered to the sea he spied a despairing Rupert Keller standing on the deck of the doomed ship. The Prophet bounded out of his place and offered his seat to the reporter. Happy birthday, son, he said with a gentle smile.

Lange was not without fear, for all living things fear death as part of their natural defense mechanism, but he was encouraged by his memories of the Golden Gift, physical evidence of the existence of God which he had been so fortunate to witness, a God whose son had spoken to Inge. And he spread his encouragement around to the rest of the doomed passengers. In this way he made their passing a little bit easier. There was just enough time for the last lifeboat to get away before the ship rolled completely over and took everyone aboard down to the uncharted depths of the ocean.

The Prophet's kind gesture was totally wasted on Keller. He proceeded to give a newspaper account of the disaster which included the Prophet kicking little girls off a lifeboat to make room for his gold bullion, resulting in the sinking of the lifeboat, the death of Lange, and the death of everyone with him. Indeed, Keller said the presence of the gold was the reason the ship was torpedoed by the Central Powers in the first place, lest it aid the cause of the Triple Entente. Only a handful of survivors brought the true tale to the Church elders in Franklin, but that was to no avail.

For Keller's widely published lies did their damage to the popular imagination of the American people. Many former supporters soured on the religion, and the growth of the End Dome Church slowed to a crawl. Shortly after that, by popular referendum, the state of Washington banned marriages be- tween first cousins and the first serious persecution of Endomites began.

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