A couple of years ago, while reviewing Leaps of Faith, an anthology of short Christian spec-fic edited by Robert and Karina Fabian, I discovered a short story by the Fabians titled, oddly enough, “Leap of Faith,” concerning a community of Catholic nuns providing search and rescue services to spacefarers in the Asteroid Belt: The Sisters of Our Lady of the Rescue.
Nuns in space? Okay, they had my attention. What really struck me, though, was the Fabians’ portrayal of the Sisters. These were dynamic, courageous young women doing a complex, dangerous, selfless job a long, long way from home–and their faith in God permeated their work.
I only had one problem. There weren’t enough stories! So, with Robert and Karina’s gracious permission, I wrote a couple of my own. The first, “Of All Things, Seen and Unseen,” was published in Residential Aliens online magazine in 2009, and told the story of Sister Claudia, who survives a terrifying mishap that forces her to reevaluate her calling–and shows her that God has a plan for her life beyond anything she could imagine.
Now, another Sister, Monica, re-lives a tragedy from her past that threatens to destroy her, as the Rescue Sisters return to Residential Aliens in “Beatitude.”
”How many rescues have you done?”
She shrugged. “I stopped counting after a hundred. The miners and cargo pilots are living on the ragged edge of safety out here, and things go wrong. A lot. They need us, and it helps them, knowing we’re always nearby, watching over them.”
“Mmm-hm, you Rescue Sisters are practically legends back home. Still, doesn’t it seem a little prideful to think you’re the only ones capable of doing this job?”
“It’s not pride if it’s true. Nobody knows this space and the people we serve like we do. To think you can just waltz in here and take over is…naive.”
“Every member of our team is a SAR expert with experience under fire. We can do anything you can do. Maybe better.”
That tore it. “How can you do better? Because you’re men? Because you’re corporate soldiers? Because you practice the right religion?”
Ty stood up. “I told you, it’s nothing personal. I like you, Sister Monica, and I respect what you and the other Rescue Sisters have done, but I’m going to give everything I’ve got to help my team win this contract…and I’m very, very good at what I do.”
He paused, staring down into his tray, knuckles white against the dull grey aluminum.
“And another thing. Nobody came out of the war clean, but I’m proud of the work I did for Auradyne. I’m going to use that experience to save all the people I can.”
He turned on his heel and took his tray to the recycler.
Every eye in the cafeteria was on Monica, but she was oblivious to the gasps and stares. A single word was caroming around inside her skull.
Dear God, no. He’s one of them.