The general’s mind was set.
Olympia Nucci, forty-eight years into her service to the Da Vinci fleet, watched the Medici’s shuttle transit from the planet toward the waiting ship from her office aboard Follett Station. She knew that she risked a charge of treason. Beyond her personal peril, Nucci also understood that such defiance might end funding for the exploration service. But her nephew, Captain Equinox, was right when he asserted that resources might vanish within minutes of that bedeviled statue crashing into the surface of Da Vinci.
She zoomed the holo feed for a close-up of Saint Kanye’s ravaged face: his stone visage now lacked a left eye, most of the nose, the mouth. He still had a left ear lobe along the rim of the fresh crater. The shattered portions of the statue’s face drifted as a dusty halo around his head.
Nucci’s aide, a young lieutenant from Sibilly named Portent Calhoun, stepped into her office and announced: “Incoming transmission from the Chevalier, General.”
The Chevalier, flagship of the Kanyist church, showed on sensors as a blip emerging from the planet’s dark side on an intercept course with the orbital outpost. It would arrive within the next fifteen minutes. Nucci dismissed Calhoun and accepted the transmission.
The bust of Captain Edward Blinn materialized above Nucci’s desk. “As a courtesy, I am informing you that the Chevalier will dock at Follett Station, at which time you will yield command of the Da Vinci Exploration Service to me.”
She crossed her arms and eased back into her cushioned chair. “Why would I do that, Eddie?” He was half her age. She’d been good friends with his atheist parents, Monty and Peri, when he wore diapers. Now, he was an errand boy for the zealous hardliners like Xebec. His parents would be ashamed if they hadn’t been executed in the Heretic Purge.
He clenched his jaw upon hearing her informality and dismissive tone. “I have orders from the Enclave,” Blinn said. “Under the terms of your financial agreement with the church, when the service makes clear that it can no longer function in the best interests of the colony, the church is to assume full authority of operations.”
“The service is doing the best it can with the hand the church dealt to it,” the general replied. “We wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for the Enclave.”
Centuries ago, it had been the Enclave that voted to capture a massive asteroid and turn it into a sacred work of art. Yesterday, it had been the Enclave that voted to try to defend Saint Kanye’s head from an incoming meteor by firing six nuclear Holy Hand missiles, which ripped the meteor apart but left a chunk large enough to slam into the statue.
And now here they were, faced with an apocalypse and bickering over blame.
“Let us do our job, Eddie,” Nucci urged. “We’ve still got time. We can deploy the sonic drones. We might not completely demolish the statue, but we might reduce it enough to save hundreds of thousands of lives on the surface.”
“My orders are sacrosanct,” Captain Blinn said. “You will surrender the station, whether peacefully or through conflict. Your choice, General.” He ended the transmission.
Nucci watched the Chevalier continue her approach for a few moments before she summoned Calhoun back into her office. “Sound general quarters, Lieutenant. Battle stations. Prepare for invaders.”
Continued in Da Vinci Colony Installment 5.