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datatime: 2022-12-08 14:48:58 Author:cVjRaAUa

If they choose me, I shall be certain.

"With you goes the Memorabilia. With you also goes the apostolic succession, and, perhaps-the Chair of Peter.

The latest death toll estimate, the announcer continued, "on this ninth day after the destruction of the capital, gives two million, eight hundred thousand dead. More than half of this figure is from the population of the city proper. The rest is an estimate based on the percentage of the population in the fringe and fallout areas known to have received critical doses of radiation. Experts predict that the estimate will rise as more radiation cases are reported.

Will we now, Zerchi grunted. "But listen a moment."

The area affected by local fallout remains relatively stationary, said the announcer, "and the danger of further windspread has nearly vanished...."

Well enough.

The latest death toll estimate, the announcer continued, "on this ninth day after the destruction of the capital, gives two million, eight hundred thousand dead. More than half of this figure is from the population of the city proper. The rest is an estimate based on the percentage of the population in the fringe and fallout areas known to have received critical doses of radiation. Experts predict that the estimate will rise as more radiation cases are reported.

Thus it was settled. While the sun rose, a shepherd was elected to lead the flock.

Will we now, Zerchi grunted. "But listen a moment."

You're certain?

Will we now, Zerchi grunted. "But listen a moment."

Well, at least nothing worse has happened yet, remarked the abbot's guest. "So far, we've been safe from it here. It looks like we'll stay safe, unless the conference falls apart."

If they choose me, I shall be certain.

No, no,"" he added in response to the murmur of surprise from the monks. ""Not His Holiness. I had not told you this before, but if the worst comes on Earth, the College of Cardinals-or what's left of it-will convene. The Centaurus Colony may then be declared a separate patriarchate, with full patriarchal jurisdiction going to the cardinal who will accompany you. If the scourge falls on us here, to him, then, will go the Patrimony of Peter. For though life on Earth may be destroyed-God forbid-as long as Man lives elsewhere, the office of Peter cannot be destroyed. There are many who think that if the curse falls on Earth, the papacy would pass to him by the principle of Epikeia if there were no survivors here. But that is not your direct concern, brothers, sons, although you will be subject to your patriarch under special vows as these which bind the Jesuits to the Pope."

He moved slowly down the aisle, pausing at each seat to bless and embrace before he left the plane. The plane taxied onto the runway and roared aloft, He watched until it disappeared from view in the evening sky. Afterward, he drove back to the abbey and to the remainder of his flock. While aboard the plane, he had spoken as if the destiny of Brother Joshua's group were as clear-cut as the prayers prescribed for tomorrow's Office; but both he and they knew that he had only been reading the palm of a plan, had been describing a hope and not a certainty. For Brother Joshua's group had only begun the first short lap of a long and doubtful journey, a new Exodus from Egypt under the auspices of a God who must surely be very weary of the race of Man.

It had not been easy to charter a plane for the flight to New Rome. Even harder was the task of winning clearance for the flight after the plane had been chartered. All civil aircraft had come under the jurisdiction of the military for the duration of the emergency, and a military clearance was required. It had been refused by the local ZDI. If Abbot Zerchi had not been aware of the fact that a certain air marshal and a certain cardinal archbishop happened to be friends, the ostensible pilgrimage to New Rome by twenty-seven bookleggers with bindlestiffs might well have proceeded on shank's mare, for lack of permission to use rapid transport jet. By midafternoon, however, clearance had been granted. Abbot Zerchi boarded the plane briefly before takeoff-for last farewells.

Well enough.

The latest death toll estimate, the announcer continued, "on this ninth day after the destruction of the capital, gives two million, eight hundred thousand dead. More than half of this figure is from the population of the city proper. The rest is an estimate based on the percentage of the population in the fringe and fallout areas known to have received critical doses of radiation. Experts predict that the estimate will rise as more radiation cases are reported.

Accipiam, the monk repeated.

If they choose me, I shall be certain.

The abbot smiled. "You heard me badly. I said "burden," not 'honor." Crucis autem onus si audisti ut honorem, nihilo errasti auribus."

He watched two novices carrying a steaming cauldron out of the emergence kitchen. They hoisted it onto a table and began ladling out soup.

Due process, they call it, he growled. "Due process of mass, state-sponsored suicide. With all of society's blessings."

Afterward, the conventual Mass was a Mass for Pilgrims and Travelers.

You will be years in space. The ship will be your monastery. After the patriarchal see is established at the Centaurus Colony, you will establish there a mother house the Visitationist Friars of the Order of Saint Leibowitz of Tycho. But the ship will remain in your hands, and the Memorabilia. If civilization, or a vestige of it, can maintain itself on Centaurus, you will send missions to the other colony worlds, and perhaps eventually to the colonies of their colonies. Wherever Man goes, yon and your successors will go. And with you, the records and remembrances of four thousand years and more. Some of you, or those to come after you, will be mendicants and wanderers, teaching the chronicles of Earth and the canticles of the Crucified to the peoples and the cultures that may grow out of the colony groups. For some may forget. Some may be lost for a time from the Faith. Teach them, and receive into the Order those among them who are called. Pass on to them the continuity. Be for Man the memory of Earth and Origin. Remember this Earth. Never forget her, but-never come back. Zerchi's voice went hoarse and low. "If you ever come back, you might meet the Archangel at the east end of Earth, guarding her passes with a sword of flame. I feel it. Space is your home hereafter. It's a lonelier desert than ours. God bless you, and pray for us."

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