The Cosca - Episode 2: Changing Priorities
Caution: This Science Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, Science Fiction, Harem, Polygamy/Polyamory, Oral Sex, Petting,
Desc: Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1 - Don Guiseppe's family grows, and brings their faith to the stars with them. The finally begin to undertake their mission against the Sa'arm.
The seemingly unending stream of penitents had finally dwindled to nothing, and Father Nicholas O'Donnell had just finished a personal prayer for strength. He was preparing to leave the confessional booth, when he heard the door open and shut again on the other side of the screen. Sighing quietly to himself, he reclaimed his seat and waited.
Presently, he heard a warm contralto begin, "Bless me father for I have sinned. It has been two years since my last confession..."
Twenty minutes later, a much shaken Father Nicholas still sat in the booth, once again alone with his thoughts, and his God.
"How much can we trust this ... information? Are we absolutely certain that this parish priest ... Nicholas is his name? ... isn't just breaking under the strain of his duties?" queried the aging Cardinal.
"We are as sure as we can be, under the circumstances and ... he acted properly in seeking guidance before responding ... we believe that he hoped for clear instructions from Rome," the Archbishop responded.
"It appears that he will get them. How many others know of this?"
"Nicholas swears he hasn't spoken to anyone other than his Bishop. Of course, now, at least one more person at every level knows, up to and including yourself."
"Even higher up than me. The Holy Father himself has become involved. In fact, it seems he has his own sources of information. He intervened even as we attempted to insulate him from it!"
"Really? You don't suppose..."
"He didn't say. He did, however, issue some very explicit instructions, and made it clear that any who opposed them would be excommunicated!"
"May I ask what those instructions were?"
"Read them for yourself. Some of them were for you," the Cardinal said, pushing a file folder across the table.
Several minutes later, the Archbishop looked up at the Cardinal and said, "This is a complex and expensive response to what was a simple request. It has major security implications as well. There is also the consideration that some of the people involved are, technically, criminals."
The Cardinal nodded, "Yes, but you know we have no choice. God chooses his own tools. It is not ours to criticize."
Father Nicholas was afraid, but having just ended three days of constant discussion and prayer with his Bishop, it was clear that he had no choice but to proceed as directed.
On entering the rectory, he unfurled a silk banner and hung it, facing outward, in the window that looked down on the street. The banner displayed an image of the Archangel Michael, sword raised high, preparing to decapitate Satan, represented as a dragon.
This should get the message across, he said to himself, silently. We didn't have a prearranged signal, but she said they'd be watching.
It was a long day, broken only by the occasional confession of minor sins. When it was over, he was almost disappointed that the mysterious woman had failed to appear. As he walked slowly toward the rectory, wondering how long it would take to re-establish contact, he was approached by a familiar face from the neighborhood. It was a boy whom he had seen frequently, but not frequently enough, at mass.
When he reached Nicholas, the boy handed him an envelope, and said, "A man in a fancy suit told me to deliver this to you." The boy then ran off.
Curious, Nicholas opened the envelope as he continued to walk to the rectory. It was an invitation.
My family and I would be pleased if you would honor us with your presence at dinner this evening. I have arranged for your transportation, and the car will arrive at the rectory at approximately 5:30 PM today.
I understand that this invitation is irregular, and given on short notice, but I am hoping you were expecting something like this. If I am mistaken, or if you are simply uncomfortable with these arrangements, please simply send our driver away, and accept our apology.
Sincerely looking forward to meeting and dining with you, I am
Jos. M. Fanelli.
As he finished reading, he opened the rectory door and glanced at the clock on the mantle. It's five o'clock already! He rushed to his quarters and hurried through a "whore's bath" in order to remove the worst of the day's sweat. Throwing on a clean robe, he practically ran down the stairs, reaching the bottom just as someone began to knock on the entry door.
He opened the door to find the biggest man he'd ever seen in his life, filling the door frame. No, not filling it, rather completely occluding it, because the guy would have had to turn sideways and duck, just to get through the door. He wore an expensive Italian suit, with some suspicious lumps under the coat. As if that weren't worrisome enough, when the man spoke he did so in a deep, booming voice.
"My name is Marco. I'm here for Father Nicholas," he announced.
"Th ... that would be me," Nicholas stuttered. "You must be pleased to have been named after an author of one of the gospels," he went on, lamely.
"Yes, sir. Are you ready to go sir?"
"As ready as I'm going to get," he responded, as Marco turned to lead him toward a huge black limousine. "My, my. There was no need to go to this much expense."
"It is nothing, Father," Marco said. "The limo belongs to my boss."
Nicholas nodded his head silently. It would not be unusual for someone in Joe Fanelli's position to own or have access to such equipment.
Grinning, Marco nodded and said, "Please fasten your seat belt Father."
"Why would a Mafia Don want to do this?"
Marco shook his head and replied, "Father, I am only an employee. I don't have all of the answers you seek. I might have some of them, but I don't have the boss' permission to share them with you. Please be patient, and I'm sure that he will satisfy your curiosity."
Father Nicholas fell silent, but although the limo was appointed well beyond luxurious, the ride became ever more uncomfortable as they left his parish and entered an industrialized area. It didn't help that they drove straight into a warehouse and that the warehouse doors closed behind them.
The car stopped near the door of an office enclosure, and Marco got out speaking to two others, who were just as physically impressive, standing near that door. Returning, he assisted Father Nicholas out of the car and walked over to the office door with him.
The office had a large glass window, looking out over the warehouse floor. Nicholas could see through the glass that there was a large conference table surrounded by chairs. Odd place to hold a family dinner, he observed. As they approached the door, he could see no other entrance to the room, but oddly, there appeared to be a circle of bright, silvery metal on the floor, just inside.
Stopping just outside the door, Marco turned to him and said, "Please enter the room Father, and take a seat on the far side of the table."
Nicholas nodded and turned back to the door. As he stepped through the door frame, he stepped directly onto the center of the silver disk, and for a moment, his world spun. When his vertigo ended, he looked around to find himself in a totally different room from the one he'd been about to enter! A strong hand grasped his arm and pulled him further into the room, and it was a good thing. A heartbeat later, Marco appeared in the middle of the silver disk.
On recovering his balance, Nicholas looked up to see that the hand, which had kept him from being steamrollered by Marco, belonged to a tall aristocratic-looking gentleman, who appeared to be in his late forties.
"Good evening, and welcome to our temporary home, Father Nicholas," the man intoned in a rich baritone voice. "I am Joseph Fanelli. Please come with me."
"What just happened? Where am I? How did I get here? I was just walking into an office on the warehouse floor, and now..."
"All will become clear at dinner," Joe interrupted. "Come, sit and let us have an apéritif first. I trust you had a comfortable journey?" he queried, leading Nicholas into a nicely-appointed study.
"The limousine was very comfortable, of course," Nicholas answered stiffly, "but the trip itself was rather unsettling."
"My apologies," Joe responded, "but it was necessary for security reasons." After showing his guest to a comfortable chair, he collected two glasses from a tray on a nearby table. Delivering one of them to Nicholas, he said, "This is a very nice Vermouth." Both men began to sip.
In between sips, Father Nicholas asked, "Shouldn't we to begin discussing my reason for being here?"
"Not just now," Joe said, waving him off that topic. "Dinner will be ready soon, and such talk goes much better on a full stomach. Instead, I will tell you that I've heard many good things about you, but I want you to tell me about yourself, in your own words. Would you like some olives?"
"Ah ... no thank you. All right ... from the beginning, then, I guess ... I was born in Boston, to a family of Irish immigrants. As the youngest son in a large family, I learned early on about limited resources, and the need to make my own way in the world. I didn't have the build or the personality to be a policeman or to dream of participating in varsity or, eventually professional sports.
"My family wasn't impoverished, but we had very little extra money, and none for college. I was an average, but not exemplary student, academically, so financial assistance for education was not in the offing. I had the fortune to finish high school during a period of relative peace, for the United States, and even the armed forces were being picky about recruiting, so a military career was also unlikely.
"My family, being solidly Catholic, was very active in the Church, and I found that I enjoyed that environment. It was only natural that I gravitated to the clergy, after graduating from high school. Many people felt that I should have waited, and gained more life experience, but I haven't missed it.
"My current service as parish priest is my fifth assignment in thirty years with the Church, and I have been here for ten years now."
"Do you stay in touch with your natal family?" Joe queried.
"Not as much as I should," Nicholas answered. "In truth, my parishioners seem to be more my family, than the one into which I was born. It seems that my own most frequent confession concerns failing to adequately honor my parents."
"As it should be," Joe declared. "Family is important. On the other hand, families grow and change, sometimes evolving into something we don't always recognize. Perhaps you shouldn't beat yourself up too much. Is there anything else you wish to share?"
"I can't think of anything at the moment. No glaring misdeeds or stupendous feats of strength, bravery, or cleverness. I'm a simple parish priest, shepherding my flock, hopefully to salvation.
"That's it for me. Perhaps you would like to tell me how you became Don Giuseppe?"
Joe paused thoughtfully. He couldn't identify any purpose in withholding the requested information.
"I am not Sicilian, but my birth certificate indicates that my mother was Italian. I was told by others that my father also was Italian, but was conscripted by the military and died in action before he could do the honorable thing. That was all that anyone would ever tell me about him.
"Shortly after I was born, my mother was killed while crossing a busy street, by a drunk driver. It fell to my aging and infirm maternal grandparents to care for me, and truthfully, they were not up to the job. My father's family, whoever they were, was either ignorant of or uninterested in my existence. The upshot was, I was placed in a Catholic orphanage, in Chicago. My grandparents died shortly thereafter. This is all a matter of public record.
"The orphanage staff easily fit the stereotypical hard-faced Catholic sisters; but they also genuinely cared for the children they were charged with nurturing. It was not always appreciated, but they gave me discipline, education, motivation, spiritual guidance, and yes, even love, for all of the years lived with them. I participated in ROTC while in high school, and entered the Army the day after I turned eighteen. I continued my education while I served, and eventually received my commission. I spent twenty years in the Army, and took retirement at age 39 as a Lieutenant Colonel. While serving, I acquired a BS in Military Science, and an MBA.
"Following my retirement, I moved back to Chicago, on the promise of a job from a friend of a friend. My rank, education, and experience qualified me as a member of upper management, but jobs were scarce, so the offer of a position as a group supervisor with a medium sized mercantile company was a good one, although it was pretty far down the food chain. I fared well in competition for advancement, though, and I got my first my promotion after being there only six months.
In my new job I was permitted to have my own secretary, but the person who would have been my secretary was an older woman, who she decided that she didn't really want to break in a new boss. Since she was eligible for retirement, she decided to leave.
"Her retirement caused me some inconvenience, but when we advertised, there were numerous applicants for her job, and she agreed to stay on long enough to get her replacement up to speed. After interviewing some thirty or so candidates, and evaluating their qualifications, I selected a young lady who was very much overqualified, having recently graduated with a BA degree in Business. Her name was Maria DiCatania.
"Miss DiCatania only lasted about a year as my secretary, for two reasons: first, as I said, she was overqualified for the job, and it wasn't long before more lucrative opportunities arose for her elsewhere in the company. Secondly, she became my wife, so for obvious reasons, she could not remain my secretary.
"It was only after we married, and I learned that her father, Vincenzo, was a ranking board member and majority stockholder in the company I worked for, that I began to notice that everyone who worked there had an Italian surname.
"Eventually I became Chief Operating Officer for the company, and some would say that my rise in the company food chain was meteoric. It wasn't. The DiCatanias are totally intolerant of nepotism. That is not to say they didn't take care of family - they do! But they don't put you into a position of responsibility and authority based on how closely you are related to the boss. I earned every promotion I got, just as Maria earned every one of hers.
"Only after I proved myself, by successfully running the company for several years, was I considered for expanded authority in other family business interests.
"Maria only continued working at the company for a year or two, but eventually she bowed to family pressure to begin having babies. By then I was making pretty good money, and had never had any real debt, so that was fine by me. Toward the end of my tenure as COO, I came home one day to find her sobbing, and with some difficulty, I found out that her father had been diagnosed with a rare blood disorder, a myeloma that did not respond to any kind of treatment. His prognosis was terminal in three months.
"Maria was an only child, you see - no brothers to take over the reins of family power, once the father was gone. Unknown to me, when I married into the family, I became the heir apparent. My performance in the mercantile company reinforced that status, and the effective death sentence for my father-in-law greatly accelerated his plans for me - plans about which I had known nothing.
"He actually held on for nearly a year, much to the amazement of his doctors, and in that time he made certain that I learned the nature and scope of every aspect of the family's businesses - including those for which the authorities hold some antipathy. He also used the time to introduce me to his captains and lieutenants, and to make certain that they knew I would be taking over his duties. Finally, he went to great lengths to reassure Maria of his love for her - he was the last of her natal family, her mother having preceded him in death several years before.
"I can't say he died happy - neuropathy was a constant companion, and no one can happily suffer that much pain - but I think he was satisfied that I would effectively carry out the business responsibilities that he left in my hands, and that I would take care of Maria and our children in every way. I think that it gave him the peace of mind he needed in order to let go. As I said family is important.
"As a last request, Vincenzo insisted that I take the family name - at least for conducting in-house business - so to the world at large, I am still Joseph Fanelli, but to the cosca, I became Don Giuseppe DiCatania. And now, our conversation has carried us into the dinner hour. Won't you follow me to the dining room?"
Nicholas hadn't been paying much attention to his surroundings, concentrating instead on keeping up with his host. As a consequence, he was somewhat startled on entering the dining room. The room was large, and there seemed to be few straight lines. The ceiling wasn't flat, either, starting high over the entry, and curving down to merge into the top of the far wall. That wall was nearly completely covered by some expensive-looking drapes, apparently concealing what had to be a large picture window.
The centerpiece of the room was a huge teak table, surrounded by at least a dozen matching chairs, few of which were empty. As they entered the room, everyone stood up. Joe moved to his place, at the head of the table, and indicated that Nicholas should take the place to his right.
"Father Nicholas, I would like you to meet my family," Joe began. "The dark-eyed beauty you see standing at the far end of the table is my wife and my love, Maria."
"Benvenuto, Father," she greeted him, smiling. "Thank you for accepting our hospitality"
Nicholas recognized her voice, and gave Joe a quizzical look.
"Yes Father," Joe smiled, "It was Maria who delivered our request to you. I might add, it was principally because of her gentle urging that we concluded we needed to make that request."
Turning back to the table, Joe went on. "You've already met Marco." Nicholas nodded to the giant seated to the right of Maria. "The equally large fellow on Maria's left is Frank."
Nicholas gave Frank a salutary wave, and queried Joe, "I am curious. Is it customary for you to take your meals with your employees in attendance?"
Joe laughed. "Marco and Frank are much more than employees," he said. "I told you, this is a family dinner. They are family. In fact they are Maria's first cousins, on her mother's side."
Joe continued introducing family members, hop-scotching around the table in order to do so, finally ending with the two children seated to the right of Nicholas. "And these hooligans," Joe said, gesturing to the children, "are my offspring. Maria's, too, when she claims them." Maria stuck her tongue out at him. "Please meet my daughter, Rosa Maria." The little girl stood and curtsied to the priest. "And my son, Michael Vincenzo."
The older boy stood and offered his right hand, saying "Welcome to our table, Father." Nicholas was impressed with the manners displayed by the children, and willingly clasped the boys hand in friendship.
"And now," Joe concluded, "Father Nicholas, would you be so kind as to say grace?" Everyone around the table linked hands with their neighbors, and bowed their heads expectantly.
Nicholas nodded, and offered up a heartfelt prayer of thanks, and a plea for blessings on the food. When he said the final Amen, everyone sat, and food was passed around the table. It's just like any large family, he marveled. Just to look at them, you wouldn't know they were mafiusi!
There was the usual Babel of conversation and laughter as the meal was consumed. At length the meal was done, and Maria stood and announced, "We are having ice cream for dessert! Everyone please keep your seats!"
She drafted Frank to help clear the dirty dishes, and the two of them disappeared for a moment. While they were gone, Joe called Michael over and whispered something to him.
Maria and Frank returned with trays of bowls containing the frozen confection. Moving down opposite sides of the table, they distributed their bounty, and finally took their own seats. As they did, Michael left his, and approached the wall behind his mother. In a surprise move, he drew open the drapes, exposing a very large picture window.
Nicholas didn't notice at first, but when he did, he felt as if his heart had stopped. He didn't remember it, but years later, others at the table would swear that he crossed himself and started muttering in Latin. The view was spectacular, with the harshness of the black sky and whites and grays of the lunar landscape offset completely by the gentle blues, greens, and browns of the mother planet, fully centered in the window.
When Nicolas regained his composure, somewhat, he looked to Joe for an explanation.
"After hearing what Maria told you, you didn't really expect to find us living on Earth, did you?" Joe asked, archly.
Nicholas took his time responding. "I still don't see how I could be here. I just got out of your limo and walked into an office..."
"Where you stepped onto a transporter terminus," Joe interrupted, "which immediately sent you here."
Looking out the window, Nicholas sighed and began again. "As difficult as it is to believe, I can see that we're on the Moon, but that just raises more questions."
"I understand," Joe responded. "Let me tell you a few things that may address some of those questions." He paused for a moment, then continued, "Part of what may be confusing you is where here is.
"You will recall that I welcomed you to our temporary home. It is temporary in the sense that my family doesn't actually live here, at least on any full time basis. We have homes in other places that we use most of the time. Those places are, however, much too far away to serve as a venue for this meeting.
"It is also temporary in that we are not in a building or fixed facility. We are aboard a spacecraft, and we will be moving very soon. There is far too much Confederacy activity in the space surrounding us to risk staying too long. I am uncomfortable with even staying the duration of our meeting, especially with my entire family aboard, but we have all agreed that the risk is necessary.
"And that will do as a segue into the real purpose of our inviting you here. Do you have a response to our request, or do we need to discuss it further?"
Nicholas nodded. "Yes to both. I have a response for you, and there are things ... conditions ... that we need to discuss."
"Conditions?" queried Joe. Looking at Maria, he said, "You, Marco, and Frank, with us, in the study." Maria nodded and rose to hustle the children and other relatives off to other parts. As she did that, Joe left his chair, and with a gesture, indicated that those named should follow him.
On reaching the study, Joe prepared and served a glass of Chianti for each member of the group. Raising his glass, he saluted his family and their guest, and then indicated that everyone should take a seat, as he did so himself. Maria and Nicholas seated themselves, but Frank and Marco preferred to stand, one on each side of the door.
Old habits die hard, Nicholas mused. These guys are always alert for trouble, even in the sanctity of their home! Then he remembered that they weren't exactly in someone's house.
"So tell us about these conditions," Joe bid the priest, opening the discussion.
"I don't actually know about all of them," Nicholas replied glumly, extracting a large, sealed manila envelope from his robe and passing it to Joe. "I've been told of a few of the ones that apply directly to me. I do know that there are several more, and that they come directly from the Vatican."
Looking at the envelope, Joe was disappointed, but not crushed. "Frank," he said, handing him the envelope. "Please, take this and make sufficient copies for everyone in this room. Allow no one else to see it." Frank took the envelope and left to do the job.
Directing his attention back to Nicholas, Joe said, "I really didn't expect this level of involvement by the Church."
Nicholas shrugged, and replied "I couldn't just disappear. I have responsibilities that have to be met. Also, I am required to obtain the blessing of my bishop before moving to a new post. He felt that your request was important enough to escalate it even higher. Truthfully, though, I did not expect the Holy Father to get involved!"
Joe almost dropped his glass. "The Pope himself knows about us?" he almost shouted.
"Where did you think those conditions came from?" Nicholas asked, smiling. He went on, "Of course, I know that only because my bishop told me." He sat back, sipping his wine. Everyone else sat back and made small talk, sipping their wine, as Joe silently considered the possible ramifications of Nicholas' revelation. This could easily get out of hand!
Presently Frank returned with the requested copies, and passed them around to those present, giving the originals back to Joe.
"Let's not try to discuss this thing piecemeal. Instead let's read it completely, then spend some time discussing it," Joe said. Everyone nodded their agreement and started reading.
The opening paragraphs of the document were actually a message to Joe from the Pope. Not by name, of course, since Father Nicholas hadn't known his name until today, but it was addressed to the leader of the cosca who had made the request for Nicholas to minister to them.
Reading the message, Joe was both worried and grateful. Grateful, that the Church was going to grant the request, but worried, because that grant was going to come with strings attached. It seemed that His Holiness had taken a much longer view of things than Joe had anticipated.
Because Joe was the leader of what would likely be the sole surviving splinter of humanity that still practiced religion, His Holiness assigned him personally responsibility for the ultimate survival of the Church. Father Nicholas was to be in charge of all things religious.
The plan called for some major changes in the structure of the church, as well as its customs and the way that the religion was to be practiced: changes that would likely meet some resistance from the more conservative members of the cosca, not to mention the clergy.
Two of the more likely sticking points all had to do with the institution and practice of marriage. He looked up to see Maria's eyes boring into him. He knew that she had just reached the same point in the text as he did, but he couldn't read her expression. That was worrisome.
Glancing around, his eyes settled on Father Nicholas, who had blanched and appeared to be trembling. Frank and Marco were relatively stoic.
Forcing his attention back to the immediate task, Joe noted that the plan also called on him, and the cosca, to participate in a significantly larger evacuation effort than he was presently prepared to undertake. Meeting those demands would be fraught with peril for the family.
He had to re-read several sections of the plan in order to reassure himself that he didn't misinterpret them, and by the time he finished and looked around, it was clear that everyone else was waiting for him to say something.
In answer to the questioning looks, he said "I don't think we can deal with this without some further thought. Father Nicholas, would you remain with us tonight, and meet with us again in the morning?" Seeing Nicholas nod his agreement, Joe continued, "Marco, please have the pilot take us to a safe zone for the next 24 hours. Frank, would you please show the Father to our guest room?" Without waiting for an answer, he rose, took Maria by the hand, and led her out of the room.