Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

Put on the armour of God…

to stand firm against

the tactics of evil.

Take the helmet of salvation

and the sword

of the spirit,

the Word of GOD.

from Ephesians 6:13-17

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.” With his prayers complete, Oberleutnant Johann Kurtz of the Papstliche Schweizergarde rose from his knees and geared up for combat.

For Terran based troops, his quarters were nothing more than a closet, but aboard the troopship, they were considered almost lavish. They contained his rack, a fold out desk and chair and combination collapsible shower and lavatory.

Above the hatch was a small crucifix, and painted on the hatch itself, just as it was painted on his reactive nylar armoured vest and the front of his HUD helmet, was a red cross limned in gold.

At the head of his rack was a framed painting of Christ praying at Gethsemane; below that, a photo of Pope Ignatius XXIV bearing his trademark avuncular smile.

Kurtz studied himself in the mirror, kissed his rosary, pocketed it and retrieved his “sword“, an H&K multi-linear plasma rifle, from his locker and stepped into the corridor.

On the parade deck, he took his place before his men as Papa company’s commander “Good Morning men,” bellowed Oberleutnant Kurtz. “This is the day we have been training for. Our objective is the settlement of New Mecca on Phobos. Alpha company will assault New Medina on Deimos simultaneously. We’ll bring those raghead bastards to their knees.”

The oberleutnant’s words were greeted with a thunderous “Corpus Christi”.

When the commotion had died down, one of the troops raised his hand.

“What is it Soldier,” barked the young officer.

“But Sir, there are Christians in New Mecca as well as Muslims, Sir.”

“Your point, Soldier?”

“Well…, what do we do about them, Sir?”

The young Oberleutnant hesitated for only a moment before calling out “Kaplan!”

The chaplain, Oberstleutnant Karl-Heinz, standing behind the formation came to quick attention, snapped his heels and marched to the front of the formation to take temporary command of the company from its leader. While ostensibly a superior officer to a mere oberleutnant and holding the titular rank of oberstleutnant, the chaplain was a servant of God first and foremost. As such, he publicly disdained his formal military rank.

The CO executed a crisp, about face, threw an equally crisp salute and relinquished command.

The Kaplan, a kindly, scholarly man smiled beneficently and asked, “What was the question again young man?”

“Well Sir…”

“Vater, bitte.”

“Well Vater, it’s just that there are Christians as well as Muslims at New Mecca, students, business people, even religious scholars such as yourself, Vater.”

“Yes, what of them,” he asked, his kind eyes twinkling behind pince-nez glasses.

“Well Sir… Vater,” he corrected, “how will we know the heathens from the chosen?”

The older man chuckled softly before answering. “Kill them all son. God will know his own.”

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