He was smaller than the commander had expected. And hairier. He lay within crisp hospital linen like a broken bird fallen in snow.

“Jeez, what a mess. Status?”

The medician consulted his tablet. “In a bad way, as you can see. Extensive lacerations, traumatic injury to the limbs, abdominal puncture wounds…”

“Any good news?” he cut in.

“He’s been beaten and flogged half to death, nailed through the feet and wrists and left in the sun to die. How would you feel?” the med retorted.

He grunted – then saw the other figure in the room. One of The Order. “What’s she doing here?”

The med shrugged. “Translator. How’s your Aramaic?”

The figure in the bed stirred. One bruised eye flickered open. The woman gasped, rushed across, bent her head to his. A whisper escaped his lips.

“What?” he said. “What did he say?”

She paused, swallowed. "He said ‘blessed are the servants in my Father’s house.’ "

The commander stared. “Are you fucking with me, sister?”

She flinched, but held her nerve. A monitor bleeped softly.

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