The priest’s pointed helmet hung at his side. His vac suit was completely black.
Engineer Beketov didn’t get it. It was too strange, too … medieval. The holy man waved the crucifix over the salt package and recited a prayer. Beketov had been told the salt was for cooking a lamb stew that would be shared by all the dockyard’s techs and engineers.
“Father Toyan, it’s time for us to EVA. Let’s go.” The priest nodded and followed to the airlock.
“How far did you travel to get here?” Beketov asked.
“From Earth, from the Great Ararat Monastery, to be exact.” The priest’s voice was reedy, and his beard bunched against the visor of his strangely-shaped helmet.
“I’ve never been to Earth,” said the engineer. “Father, I’m curious, why is your helmet peaked on top? When other priests visit the station, their helmets aren’t like yours.”
“Priests who are not married wear these, my son. The peak symbolizes our dedication to the Lord,” he explained.
The airlock hatch slid open, and the bright light of Dustri’s star made their visors darken. They slowly moved toward the dockyards, their boots’ magnetic soles clicking with each step.
“How long have you been working in the yards, my son?”
Beketov laughed. “Close to a year, but it seems like forever, Father. The one we’re going to was just an empty shell with I first arrived. Look at him now.”
One of the dumb servo-mechanoids rumbled toward them. Beketov gently grasped the priest’s shoulder to stop him from entering its path. It wobbled past with no sign of notice.
“Father Toyan, no disrespect, but how do you feel about this? Coming all the way out here to, well, to bless …”
“An engine of destruction? Actually, the church’s blessing is for the crew, to humbly ask God for their safety and protection, and that they will always be in His grace.”
As they walked, Beketov watched the priest’s gold crucifix sparkle in the starlight. A transparent pouch filled with small plastic globlets hung from his belt: Holy Water for the ceremony.
“Here he is, Father.” Beketov could see people watching them, crowded together in the observation blisters and viewports surrounding the dockyard.
“Are you a believer, Engineer Beketov?” the priest asked.
“I don’t know, Father. Sometimes it’s hard not to be when you look up and see all this,” the engineer said, pointing toward the stars. “I do know that a man needs all the help he can get, right?”
Toyan nodded. “Fair enough. Now, if you will, let us pray.” The priest keyed the comm controls on his suit sleeve and began to broadcast.
“Almighty God and Creator, You are the Father of all people. Guide, I pray, all the worlds and their leaders in the ways of justice and peace … ”
The priest made the sign of the cross in front of the new starship’s gigantic gray hull.