Chapter 16 snippet

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Striding across the hanger deck, she cut a swashing figure. Dressed in a new flight suit, she felt the reassuring weight of her scabbard in her hand. While it was illogical to bring it everywhere, she told herself, it just made her feel more secure when she had it.

And leaving it behind makes me feel like I’m naked, she thought, shrugging.

As she approached her fighter, she saw Loving waiting for her. Clad in a matching flight suit, she looked at herself disapprovingly. Frowning, she looked up at Kate.

“Christ, Kate!” she said. “You have to take that thing everywhere?”

“I just feel naked without it,” she said, glancing at the scabbard in her hand.

“Kind of like me without a rifle,”

“Which will be hard to place in the fighter,” she said, walking past her. “So I hope you brought yourself a pistol or two.”

“Does a pig wallow in the mud?” Loving said.

“I don’t know,” Kate muttered, examining the wings of her craft. “Does it?”

“Smart ass, sir,” Loving said, slipping the ‘sir’ in the end.

Running her hands over the surface of her fighter, she let the comment pass. What was really bothering her was the dead colony below. Why would Fleet want to do such a thing? Did they want a war? The Sagnar, while not as large as the Alliance, were more then capable of giving them a serious fight.
Besides, she mused, if a war is started with them, it will spill over into the rest of humanity and we’ll have one giant galactic war.

Shivering, she found the entire thought to be extremely disturbing. The numbers of dead would be in the trillions, and for what? Some someone possibly back on Earth could have more power? And to top it off, until she learned more, it was hard to know just how deep the conspiracy went.

“Once again,” she muttered. “You get yourself into more trouble then you can shake a stick at.”

“What was that?” Loving asked, looking at her.

“Nothing,” she muttered, satisfied with her check. “Hop in.”

Following Loving, she climbed up the ladder into the cockpit. Standing in the pilot’s seat, she heard her friend settling into the EW specialists seat. Once Loving was seated, she sat down, squirming around to get herself comfortable.

“Damn, Kate,” Loving muttered. “How do you like being cooped up in this thing?”

“Easy,” she said, lowering the canopy. “Its peace and quiet.”

She reached down and slipped her ear bud and throat mike on. Placing her helmet on her head, she started to cinch up the harness on her seat. There was no sense in taking a chance, she told herself, especially when each atmospheric drop is different in itself.

“Captain,” Paul’s voice was in her ear. “You’re cleared for launch.”

“Thank you, XO,” she said. “I want you to take care of my ship…if anyone pops into system try to get out if you can. If you can’t then slip behind the moon and become a hole in space.”
“I don’t want to leave you behind, Skipper,” he protested.

“Don’t worry about us,” she said. “I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve in this thing…we’ll be okay.”

“Sir-“

“That’s an order, XO,” she said, cutting him off.

Killing the channel, she activated the thrusters. She looked around her as the ladder was wheeled away. Hopefully, she told herself, she would be back to see the old girl…

She lined them up with the exit, its blue force field keeping the atmosphere in. Taking a deep breath, she gave the fighter some thrust. Slowly, they moved forwards, gaining speed all the time. Slipping through the force field, they entered space beyond.

A slight dizziness passed over them as they exited the cruiser’s antigravity. She put the fighter through a victory roll before she applied full thrust. Blasting forwards, they left the orbiting craft behind.

“What do you mean ‘you have some tricks up your sleeve?’” Loving asked.

“This fighter was a replacement from Intelligence for the one I lost at Selvior,” she explained. “It has some…items that aren’t standard.”

“Like what?”

“A visible chameleon system for starters,” she said.

“What is that?”

“It works like the ‘cloaking devices’ did on ancient earth science fiction,” she said. “It allows one to blend into the surroundings and be invisible.”

“That’s interesting,”

“It also has really good EW capabilities,” she said. “I can cover up my entire power discharge, or even make it look like something its not.”

“Everything a good agent would need,” Loving muttered.

“Only if they were flight certified,” she said. “Hang on,”

Entering the planet’s atmosphere, she had her hands full. Through her life as a pilot, she had learned to expect the unexpected. While some planets’ atmosphere would be turbulent as hell to insert into, some were smoother then silk. Proxima six unfortunately, she snorted, was going to be one of the rougher ones.

“Ugh,” Loving said, feeling the fighter bouncing around her. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

“Hang on,” she said, gritting her teeth. “We’re almost through…”
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