Isla Aukate
Father Mella (left) and Nicky Chen (right) working with some plants
Father Mella (left) and Nicky Chen (right) working with some plants

Mella does not discuss his past lightly but does not hide it either. When Rex’s rule was waning a heavy criminal element was starting to grow on Aukate which included child trafficking and smuggling a few natives off the island. Mella’s parents sold him to such people to try and break themselves out of the poverty that many of the islands’ denizens were suffering through at the time. Mella has no memory of this part of his life but does remember growing up in cages amidst human doctors and men in suits. “Grande! Mas grande!” he remembers hearing over and over again as doctors stuck needles into him and made him run and fight. Soon enough his caretakers got what they wanted as the young boy grew into a seven foot monster thanks to the cocktail of steroids and growth hormone they subjected him to.

The young honeybadger had ended up as a pet to a drug lord in Mexico who wanted to outdo his compatriots who kept lions and tigers on leashes with a seven foot beast at his bidding instead. Mella did as he was told and played his role well, having not known any other world. It went like this until Mella was in his mid teens and began to spend time in his master’s private chapel. The lessons spoke to him and he began conversing with the priest there, even when his owner tried to dissuade him from it, insisting that beasts like him did not have souls.

When he was approximately twenty, Mella had an epiphany. On Easter morning he went to the chapel, listened to the sermon about love and forgiveness and the resurrection, and ripped his collar off. He quietly asked the priest if there was a way for him to escape, and after many tense moments it was arranged. A week later a truck came, which brought him to a boat, which brought him to a strange new island full of people that were similar and yet very different from the people he knew. He insisted he be taken to the closest church to give thanks, which happened to be the local abbey.

Mella later learned that the Vatican in Rome knew of Aukate and through one of the inhabitants there, had paid for his safe release and arranged for his return home. Knowing that his freedom probably did not come cheap he pledged the rest of his life to the church and became a monk of the abbey. Eventually he even took seminary classes and became ordained, and when the abbot of the monastery he lived at needed to step down it was unanimously decided that Mella take his place.

Mella has made some effort to find his parents and let them know he forgives them, but has had no luck as of yet. He tells his story in his easter sermon every year so that everyone who listens knows that even in the darkest of places, even when you are far from home and alone, there is always hope and God always listens.