Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stars of Heaven: Chapter 10

Chapter 10: Thy Will Be Done

Jethro had never seen Dima so serious before.  He was never what you would call bubbly. He alway had a businesslike air about him, but he was never dour...until now.
Jethro’s family were at Dima’s hab.  It had become an after church ritual on Sunday. The adults enjoyed each other’s company and the children had a larger space to run around in.  Jethro’s parents were living with Dima anyway because they really couldn’t afford to be seen on Mars, so it all made sense for them to get together.
Today after the noon meal, however, Dima had called Jethro away from Mary Kate and Tasha and the kids and his parents, over the what Jethro thought of as the business nook.  Dima was very serious and when he spoke we was quiet yet clear.
“Jethro,” he began very softly. “I will tell you to do some things now and you must just trust me. If you ask me questions,  I will not answer.  You understand?”
Jethro was quiet and still for a long moment and then he nodded his head yes.  He had learned Dima’s way: Don’t write anything you can say; don’t say anything that can be whisper; don’t whisper anything that can be conveyed with a look.
“Good,” Dima said.  “You and your family must leave Mars as soon as you can. When Mary Kate asks you why, do not say it was because I said; in fact wait until Tuesday to tell her. Tell her you heard something on the news and you need to protect your hab from the roaches. Send me word when you leave, and I will take care of having your parents meet you. But you must go.”
“I understand,” Jethro said.  He was concerned.  He was confused.  He took the drink of vodka that Dima offered and drank it in one gulp like a pro.
“Good,” said Dima.  “Now we do the hard thing. We go back to family and pretend nothing has been said.”
Padre Gustavo was having lunch with Adriano da Silva.  Adriano had come to Mars a few years previously from his home in the Belt to study for the priesthood.  Padre Gustavo could see that he had a good heart and would be a good pastor for some parish.  He was good in dealing with people in the pain that is so much a part of this life.  He was smart, but not so bookish that he would ever be drawn away into scholarly pursuits.  While he didn’t necessarily have any managerial skills, he had more than any of the other of the religious on Mars.
Adriano was due to be ordained as a priest in about four months anyway.  What Dima had shared with Padre Gustavo, however, meant that Adriano’s career would have to be sped up considerably.
Padre Gustavo took a sip of wine to clear his throat.  Then he spoke.
“Adriano,” he said.  He then waited until Adriano finished the bite he was chewing and looked him in the face.
“Yes, Padre,” Adriano said.
“There is much you should know that I cannot tell you now and that you will only learn in time,” Padre Gustavo said.  “Knowledge is often a tool, but there are times when it is a burden and at those times obedience is necessary. Do you understand that?”
Gustavo looked into the twenty year old boy’s eyes and knew that of course he didn’t really understand, but as he was twenty he would think he did.  When he was fifty, he would finally know.
“Yes, Padre,” Adriano answered. “I understand.”
“Good,” Padre Gustavo said.  “Then understand this.  I am going to ordain you as a deacon tomorrow, a priest on Tuesday, and a Bishop on Wednesday.  On Thursday you will leave Mars and you will not look back.  Ask me nothing because I can tell you nothing.  If anyone asks you anything, do not tell them even this much.  Do you understand?”
“Uh,” Adriano stammered. “Yes, Padre.”
Of course you don’t, Padre Gustavo thought, but if you live to be fifty you will.
The lunch finished in silence as Adriano’s thoughts drifted off to the events of the coming week, and Padre Gustavo’s thoughts drifted off to his conversation with Dima.  Gustavo had Dima’s trust, but with that trust had come a horrible responsibility.  Things had to be handled delicately.  While part of him said the government should be informed, a larger part of him said that it would be the worst thing to do.  But the lives of everyone on the planet were in jeopardy. He wanted to save the lives of as many as he could, but saving them too quickly would mean that few would be saved.
One person would have to make the plan, implement the plan, and carry out the plan.  In this case, that meant that the one person would probably have to die in the end.
That’s what we all do, anyway, thought Gustavo.  
“Thy will be done,” he muttered out loud.
“Padre,” Adriano asked. “Did you say something?”
“Nothing that you need worry about,” Gustavo said.
If anyone had shown up looking for Klaus Johansson’s hab in the place where it had always been, they would have been surprised.  It was gone and so were the rocks that had been floating out to the side.  
The roaches had indeed come by.  He had been prepared to wait for years for them to come, but as luck would have it, they had found him quickly.  Actually, it probably had more to do with the proximity of his hab to that of Wild Bill’s than anything else.  In any case, the roaches came, he paid, and they left.  As soon as they were out of sight, he went to the rocks that were floating near his hab and began fitting them with engines.  Once this was done, he began to send them off from their current almost circular orbits into much more eccentric orbits. Orbits that would intersect those of Mars, Earth, and even Venus.
Once all these rocks were set loose, he set his hab on a course for other parts.  In particular, he headed beyond the Belt, out into the uninhabited Trojan asteroids.  

It had only just begun.

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