“Saint preserve me,” Olympia Nucci grumbled as she switched off the vid. She turned to glower at Portent Calhoun. “Now my nephew’s going rebel.”
Her attache shrugged and said, “Perhaps not. What if he just goes to his quarters and sulks?”
Nucci snorted a laugh. “He’s *my* nephew, Mr. Calhoun. You might think he got where he is through nepotism. No doubt, that is how he entered the ranks of the exploration service. But he ascended only through competence and sheer, stubborn willfulness.”
She checked the tactical display holo showing the Kanyist vessels taking up their positions around the statue in its decaying orbit, shepherding it toward her homeworld’s certain doom. The Medici, now under the command of Vidalia Bessler, kept a safe distance and made no maneuver that could be perceived as aggressive by the Church. Nucci didn’t expect Warwick to mutiny against Bessler. He respected that woman more than he had any of his wives. But she knew better than to expect him to blithely accept what was about to happen. He simply couldn’t let go when a crusade took hold, even if it might prove utterly futile. So much like his parents in that way, she thought.
A new green dot appeared in the holographic haze, identified as a thopter departing the Medici’s shuttle bay.
“Is that…” Calhoun looked from the display to General Nucci, who just sighed and nodded. The dot adjusted course, with a predicted trajectory somewhere near the throat of Saint Kanye. Along the way, the thopter would pass between the Chevalier and several other Church warships. “He can’t think this will work.”
Nucci shook her head. “I’m certain he knows it *won’t*. He’s making a point.”
“The thopter’s not armed.”
“No,” she agreed.
“Does he plan to ram it? The reactor explosion *might* decapitate the statue. Not much else. It’s not likely to save Da Vinci.” Calhoun seemed genuinely aghast at the thought of whatever madness might have gripped Warwick Equinox.
“I’m not entirely sure he’s got what anyone would call a coherent plan,” Nucci said.
“General, they’ll…well, they’ll blast him to atoms before he can get close enough to do anything. Shall I open a channel?”
“We could,” she said. Open a channel, tell Warwick to come to his senses, stand down, return to the Medici, and await the inevitable demise of Da Vinci. “We won’t.”
“No point,” the general said. “He won’t listen. He won’t answer. He knows what I would tell him. He certainly knows what the Kanyists would say. He’s past that now.”
“We’re not doing *anything*?”
“Get me a drink, Mr. Calhoun,” Nucci said. “Something stronger than coffee. Then let’s see what happens next.”
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