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CHAPTER THIRTY Vengeance Is Mine

First Marshal Sekah stood in PDC Saint-Just's central command and frowned at the holo sphere. He was a son of the Church, prepared to die for Holy Terra, but the thought of all the deaths which would accompany his sickened him. Yet better that than defilement, he told himself fiercely. Better death of the body than of the soul.

Still, the infidels' quiescence had puzzled him. They'd destroyed his orbital works over a month ago, yet made no move against the planet itself. Was it possible they simply didn't know what to do with it? He grinned mirthlessly, recalling the utter lack of fortification on the captured infidel worlds and the infidel tactical manuals' insistence on keeping combat out in space "where it belonged." As if Holy Terra's People should fear to live or die with their defenders! But even such as they must realize the People would never yield, so why delay? They had the range to slay Thebes from a position of safety-surely they couldn't be so foolish as to think the Prophet might change his mind and surrender to the Satan-Khan as they had!

Now he watched the shifting patterns in the sphere and shivered. It seemed whatever had caused them to delay obtained no longer. Formations of infidel starships were sweeping into position, close to the edge of the capital missile envelope yet tauntingly beyond it, and Sekah's mind heard sirens howling in every city across the planet. Not that it would do any good.

"Summon the Prophet," he said quietly to an aide.

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