Archive for August 3rd, 2008


Cleansed by Fire, Part 7

For the previous installment of this story, click here

There is also a link under “Categories” in my sidebar for Cleansed By Fire, to more easily access all the installments of this novel; alternately, you can click on the “cleansed by fire novel” link under the Tags heading for this post (or click here) for a complete listing of installments.

Cleansed by Fire

Chapter 2, Women and Children (continued)

Domina xec-Academie waited for three hours after Peteris Gregory Dyson and the security detail had left what was to be her new apartment before she began the first of her preparations. A few minutes of soft grunting, three strategic gyrations and one small sigh later, she had a compact stunrod in hand, which she wiped clean and slipped into a hidden sheath in the light jacket she planned to wear very frequently during her stay.

The  quasi-organic materials the cutting-edge weapon were made of were part of the reason the device had gone undetected when security had screened her before her audience with the Peteris. The lack of power cells—a deficiency she would correct tomorrow—was the primary reason it hadn’t set off any alarms at the security station, though. Of course, the lack of power cells also had relieved her of having to constantly worry about what an errant stunblast to the uterus would feel like.

Even once it had power cells, the stunrod wouldn’t be of any great use. She could expect only two full-power blasts from the tiny thing and maybe an third mild shock to distract someone in a melee. So she began the second and final of her preparations.

It took her nearly an hour of careful exploration of her scalp in the refresher to find the one false hair in her strawberry blond mane. After that came more than fifteen minutes of soaking the end of the hair in a small drop of water and alcohol, which she would soon introduce to the primary data unit of her apartment’s lightdesk cubicle.

A single-cell nanotech device could never hope to achieve much even against the most underachieving computer security system. But she didn’t need much. Just her ace in the hole. A small window through which she could contact the Nazarene and at least let him know she was in place.

* * *

Serving as captain of Scion’s Dream was an honor above most in any military of any nation of Earth. She was one of only four warwagons that remained in orbit after the Conflagration and the one that had dealt the killing blow to the last of the roguewagons more than a thousand years ago, before any warwagon had borne an actual crew. Bartelle D’Onofrio had been master of her bridge for 12 years now, a tiny fraction of her life but nearly a third of his entire career. He helmed the Vatican’s most deadly weapon, and that gave him as much clout as a pope’s steward when it came to creature comforts and political pull. Sometimes, he wished the church commanded more than one of the vessels—after all, Europa and Old Africa were staunch allies and that meant the Vatican was outgunned by two-to-one in space—but the fact his vessel was the only one of its kind in the Vatican’s armada made him all the more important than he would have been otherwise.

But all that was coming to an end in a week. Once the millennial celebrations were over, Bartelle would be handed a governorship groundside.


That he had never had to take Scion’s Dream into a real battle mattered not a whit. She was a warship through and through and capable of laying scorching waste to an entire nation with relative ease. Bartelle was a warrior. The military was one of the few places a citizen of a Vatican-held nation could rise to any kind of real institutional power without having to take the vows and relinquish his or her name.

In a week, he would leave the Orbital Navy to take those vows and cease to be a D’Onofrio. He would leave his birth family behind and become a member of the Vatican’s family. His father would be the Black Pope himself. His uncles the other two popes. His brothers and sisters all the other ranking politicians in the Office of Regional and National Administration and anyone else under the Black Pope who had likewise taken vows to the Order Administrum. His cousins all those who had taken vows to other orders in the Vatican.

Bartelle xec-Administrum.

It was the name that threw him the most. It seemed ill-fitting. But the office itself seemed ill-fitting as well.

From captain of Scion’s Dream to governor of Pacifica.

At least there was plenty of civil unrest to deal with, which might give him just enough taste of battle to soothe his martially steeped soul.

And, at least he had done plenty of whoring in his youth, and never wanted a wife that wasn’t a space vessel, so the vows of chastity didn’t bother him.

But still.

A politician. A governor. A stuffed shirt. Or perhaps stuffed vestment would be a better term.

He would leave the Scion’s Dream. She who was both his wife of a sort and, he sometimes thought—as ridiculous a notion it was given their respective ages—his daughter as well.

He would gain more personal power in the end, but he would give up the only family that had ever mattered to him to become Bartelle xec-Administrum.

He supposed it was worth it in the long run.

If there was a long run, of course.

He glanced down again at the floor to his left. To the cooling body and the sticky puddle of blood that had finally stopped spreading.

He sighed and began to assess his options for disposing of a body and cleaning his cabin before someone had to bring him a report or request a signature.

All in all, the final preparations for the launch of his political career were turning out to be much more messy and a lot less honorable than his 35 years of military service had been.

(To read Part 8 of this story, click here.)


Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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