Chapter Three: The Mysteries of Space (Part 2 of 2)   Leave a comment

(Part 1)

While Sir Victor sent and received messages from Prince Flavius, the rest of the pilgrims talked among themselves in the Observation Station’s rudimentary cafetorium. They were a bit put out by Sir Fitzpatrick’s bizarre nature: his weird way of speaking, his refusal to enter the same room as they, his insistence on rigorous decontamination. A lone xenobiologist in an outpost shorn of religious iconography – hardly the place for a Li Halan noble. Manx inferred that Sir Fitzpatrick might be an embarrassment to the family, an inference he kept to himself.

The pilgrims’ ride to Kish turned out to be a commandeered Scraver vessel, the Pitiless, captained by one Yori Jaehar. Jaehar greeted the pilgrims with ill humor, pulled down some rough benches in his cargo bay, and flew them to Kish with little ceremony. At the spaceport, the pilgrims were greeted by a flitcar to convey them to the Governor’s palace and an audience with Prince Flavius Yue Se Chou Kung Li Halan.

Prince Flavius Li Halan, Governor of Kish

Prince Flavius, after inquiring after the pilgrims’ health and hearing their remarkable tale, called for refreshments for them while he and Sir Victor talked. Pacing through his gardens, Flavius grilled Victor on the extent of his theories about Emperor Alexius’s parentage – and whether he had any evidence to back up his claims. Victor, remembering that he was speaking to a one-time claimant to the Phoenix Throne, deftly avoided incriminating himself, soothing the Governor with bland pronouncements. The talk then turned to the Li Halan homeworlds. Prince Flavius suggested that the pilgrims would do well to visit each one before continuing on, as the common people would have their spirits lifted by seeing their holy quest. “Yes, but your word of our visit would also be a boon to their souls,” Victor replied, not wanting to go months out of his way to visit Icon and Midian. Having deftly avoided several diplomatic bear traps, Victor consented to Prince Flavius’s last suggestion: that, in light of the pilgrimage having lost a member, Flavius might send another along with them.

In an opulent anteroom nearby, the pilgrims gorged themselves on whole foods for the first time in days. Captain Jaehar, drunk on Li Halan wine, tried to start a fight with Captain Manx by dissing the Muster. Manx defused the situation by going on about the role the Muster played in bringing order to the galaxy, a role sanctioned by the Church. “And,” Manx added under his breath, “I happen to be in good with your boss Dean Toth, and if word of this gets back to him, he will come down on you like a guillotine.” Jaehar gritted his teeth but backed down after that, showing deference to all members of the party.

Captain Yori Jaehar, Scravers Guild

Brother Sand and Apprentice Fannagus, meanwhile, ducked out to perform a quick blessing over Lady Corezza’s personal effects. “Kish has a marvelous cathedral,” Sand said. Laying out her belongings on the altar, Fannagus discovered the quantum core that he had been sent to retrieve – and which Corezza had secreted away in her satchel. Shaking with rage, he explained the full story of what had happened in the arcology on Sutek. “It doesn’t belong to her!” Fannagus insisted. “It shouldn’t be with anyone but the Engineers.”

Brother Sand calmed the young man, whose curses were echoing through the cathedral’s beams and drawing the attention of a few acolytes. He promised to surrender the quantum core into Fannagus’s care, so long as he kept the discovery secret from the others. “We mustn’t quarrel amongst ourselves,” Sand insisted with an odd fervence. “The pilgrimage is all.”

Posted October 24, 2011 by John Perich in Uncategorized

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