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CHAPTER TEN "To Smite the Infidel . . ."

First Admiral Lantu watched the display as the destroyer slipped into orbit about Thebes, and frowned. He was too dutiful a son of the Church to begrudge the Synod's orders to return and confer, yet he found himself resenting the priceless time it took.

So far, the infidels had failed to mass a proper force against either First or Second Fleet, but he'd spent too many hours poring over captured data to expect that to continue. He'd smashed far more of their fleet in Lorelei than he'd dared hope, but they had reserves. And the Federation had grown far vaster than the Synod had believed possible. The infidels had found some way to make colonies spring up like weeds since the Year of the Annunciation, and Holy Terra's Sword must strike deep, and soon, or be overwhelmed.

He sighed heavily, and Fleet Chaplain Manak chuckled beside him.

"Patience, my son," he murmured.

"Is it so obvious?" Lantu asked with a grin.

"To one who has watched you grow from childhood? Yes. To the Synod? Perhaps not, if you keep your wits about you."

"I'll bear it in mind," Lantu said softly.



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