The cargo hold of the Craft was really far too big – with a diameter of nine kilometres, it didn’t truly register with Rashid as an enclosed space. In many parts of the galaxy people lived their entire lives in smaller places.
‘You’re impressed by this,’ said Sam; she seemed amused at the thought. Rashid bowed his head, eyes downcast, aware of the need to maintain decorum in front of the Craft’s captain.
‘To one such as you, O Patron, I am sure the sight is less than nothing at all. However—’
‘Quite,’ said Sam, and went to the railing. From here, halfway up the spherical chamber, one could see warehouses full of munitions set amongst parkland, artillery pieces settled besides copses of intricately gene-engineered trees producing rations, and the regiment of Holy Warriors occupying several of the normally-empty residential blocks.
Sam nodded, then glanced at the captain of the Craft, whose forehead was planted firmly on the cold metal of the walkway. It was an unsettling sight to Rashid, whose childhood had involved many parables about the respect due to members of the military – and to officers especially – to see a man who ranked higher than most planetary governors bow lower than himself.
‘When will we be ready to leave?’
‘All supplies are loaded, Endless One. If it is your wish, we can leave in one hour and nine minutes.’
‘Make it so, then.’
‘I am impressed by it, Sam,’ said Rashid, when they were alone. ‘It’s so… much. I almost feel sorry for the fools who oppose you – with all this, there’s no way you can lose.’
She turned to him, leaning against the railing, and smiled sadly. When he came close enough, she put a hand on his cheek.
‘That’s sweet of you to say, pretty one. But the truth is that all of this…’
The Patron, who had guided the fate of humanity for close to a thousand years, sighed. Rashid took hold of her hand and, gently, kissed her fingers, one by one.
‘Well,’ she said. ‘We’ll find out soon enough.’