I think the first time I came up with the concept of Vatican ninjas was as a joke during a Dan Brown review. The protagonist stated that he, personally, knew the current pope, and therefore he was certain that the Catholic church couldn’t be behind the plot of The Da Vinci Code, because “the Church didn’t do such things anymore.”
My response was: “Anymore? You mean, the church used to have Ninjas? I WANT MY VATICAN NINJAS.”
And thus, a running joke was born, and, like everything else in my writing worlds, it quickly spiraled out of control.
When I bounced the concept of Vatican Ninjas off of a Catholic Facebook group as a force for fighting the legions of darkness, the first, almost reflex question by a lot of the group was: “Why does the Vatican have to fight the forces of darkness?”
I think my response at the time was “Well, who else would be better equipped for such a position? It’s a long standing institution that deals with the supernatural on a routine basis. The Church would feel obligated to fight back Satan’s forces, of course.”
So … yes, my argument was “With Great Power, comes great responsibility.”
Though my first thought is really: Who else is gonna do it? (This was before I had been exposed to Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International, and the idea of hunting monsters for fun and profit.)
Of course, the Vatican has its own army. It’s not a very big one, granted, but if anyone is going to be able to give shooters training to fight the abyss, it’s going to be a few thousand priests. There would have to be meditative prayers before battle, that can hide them from the enhanced senses of vampires. IE: Basically, if a vampire has the senses of a Sith lord, going through this silent, prayerful meditation would make them invisible. In fact, if it’s a saint versus a vampire, a vampire would have to directly lock eyes on them — assuming, of course, the saint doesn’t have the power to cloud vampire’s minds…
Sadly, I now have a Simon Templar / The Shadow crossover in my head. But that’s another conversation.
The Vatican Ninjas would probably start to become a serious institution somewhere around the Protestant Revolt of the 1500s. It’s when Europe started to really go dark. How dark? Look up the Anabaptists sometime: these guys were so nasty, Lutherans and Catholics stopped fighting each other, looked at the Anabaptists, and promptly joined forces to wipe them off the face of the Earth.
The crucifix fell out of fashion in Protestant areas, and traditional Vampire lore stress a crucifix, not a cross, being a problem for a vampire — otherwise a lowercase T in block letters will do it. This would require forces that are specialized in battling creatures that are stronger, faster, and nigh indestructible.
After two hundred years. and the “Enlightenment” hit, superstition increased. Ouja boards became common. Isaac Newton dabbled in the occult, and had volumes of horoscopes that he had forecast. The mythical age of intellectual brightness really had a five to one ratio of dark, dim occultist crap emerge. The only thing we really discuss today is everything history kept and took with it. (It’s almost like discussing the “Golden Age of Movies,” but if you watch TCM, you see just how much really is garbage).
Of course, in a world where vampires exist, the obvious reason for the increase in superstition during the Enlightenment is simple: the Catholic church used to have local teams to deal with the Supernatural. When the Church left, so did said teams. With the suppression teams being removed, demonic activity spiked. Occult belief was a “rational” response … at least to people who abandoned faith for whatever nonsense they came up with along the way.
So, going to clean up the mess? That’s right. The only organized game in town, who covers … well, the planet. They’d probably be called something like “tegumento daemonium interfectores,” which is what I get when I load “covert demon killers” into Google translate, so I expect this to be hysterically inaccurate. Or “occulte daemon interfectores,” which is Google Translates idea for “secret demon killers.” Though “Excursor Vaticanae” has been suggested by people who know Latin better than I do.
….ANYWAY, no matter the Latin name, the load out for the ninjas would, over time, have to evolve, but it would still be a wide ranging arsenal. Fifty-caliber sniper rifles would be mandatory for removing the heads off of vampires at a distance. There would be silver ammunition components (hollowpoints with silver balls instead of stems– according to Larry Correia, silver is too hard, and doesn’t have the right spiral of regular bullets). They could carry crosses, and holy water, and squirt guns. Their traps would include bouncing Bettys filled with holy water. Incendiary grenades and high explosives would have to be mandatory, I’d figure.
And, even though I have them dealing with a lot of vampires, they will, of course, be trained to deal with other supernatural threats. I figure that demons, elves and werewolves would be in the top five threats in their inventory.
The Ninjas will of course, have a mandatory retirement age of 65. Why 65? Because that’s the retirement age for priests. Why not sooner? Because the ones who survive the field long enough become trainers … if they can be dragged out of the field. Outside of someone who is a careerist, name me one average beat cop or soldier who wants to be transferred too far away from the street / the action / their men.
But as noted, they have to survive the job long enough.
See who lives and who dies in Good to the Last Drop, the conclusion to my Dragon Award Nominated series.
Declan Finn is a three time Dragon Award Finalist. Honor at Stake and Live and Let Bite, books #1 and #2 of his Love at First Bite series, were nominated for best horror in 2016 and 2017, and his co-authored work, Codename: UnSub, was nominated in best apocalyptic in 2017