Chapter 17 snippet

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“Skipper!” Paul interrupted, stress showing. “We’ve got a transition alert!”
She looked at Loving with a worried look. That complicated things; if whoever dropped in went to max speed, they could keep the two of them from getting back! Damn it, she mused, another hour and they would have been gone!

“We have a Sagnar Task Group entering n-space,” he said. “One Lion-class battle cruiser accompanied by two Sheffield-class heavy cruisers.”

“Fire up the Ion drive, XO,” she said. “ETA for their arrival?”

“At their present speed,” he said. “We have four hours.”

“Get ready to break orbit,” she said. “Lieutenant Loving and I will be back in an hour.”

“Yes, sir,”

###

“Commodore,” Captain Alwyn’s baritone sounded calm. “We have detected a ship in orbit around the colony.”

Ducharme felt her pulse increase for the first time in days. Sitting up in her command chair, she looked over at White-Green. With his lips pursed, he nodded to let her know the contact was indeed real.

“Identification?”

“CIC has a preliminary ID,” Alwyn said. “It’s a Alliance Wichita-class heavy cruiser.”

“I’ll be damned,” she said, eyes lighting up. “We’ve got her!”

Ducharme couldn’t believe her luck. The very first planet she called upon, she had found Almir! With luck like that, she mused, how couldn’t she try to capture her now? Even a woman as lucky, and dangerous, as Almir could run out of luck sooner of later!

“Captain Alwyn,” she said. “Bring the Task Group up to maximum speed. Bring all weapons on line and bring our shielding up.”

“Yes, Commodore,”

###

“Skipper,” Paul said. “The Sagnar have increased speed, ETA is now two hours.”

They were running through the tundra grass. Gritting her teeth, she cursed having to bring Loving with her. No matter how much she loved her friend, she could’ve been back at her fighter by now. When she got back to the ship, she snorted, she was going to have to have a discussion with Paul about this!

“Understood,” she said, spotting the fighter. “We’ve gotten to the fighter.”

“All weapons are on line,” Paul said. “And the h-drive is ready once we clear the outer marker.”

Slipping into the pilot’s seat, she skipped the pre-flight checklist.

###

“Commodore,” Alwyn reported. “CIC is reporting that they’re intercepting communications between the cruiser and the surface.”

“Interesting,” she said, rising an eyebrow. “What are they about? They have to know we’re here now.”

“It appears to be between Captain Almir and her XO,”

“Thank you, Captain,” she said, muting the com line.

“So,” she said, looking at White-Green. “Almir’s on the surface. Possibly checking on her work?”

“If the messages I’m hearing are any indication,” he said. “I would say the answer is no.”

“Interesting,”

She rubbed her chin in thought, watching the tactical plot before her. Almir had been in the planet’s surface for some reason, she mused; the question was why? Her gut was going crazy, telling her that it didn’t believe that Almir had killed their colonies. However, when she was leaving the scene of the crime, it made it hard for her to think otherwise.

I just hope I’m right on this
, she thought.

###

Streaking through space, she flew the fighter at maximum speed. There wasn’t any time for fancy tricks, she told herself. They needed to get aboard the cruiser and get the hell out of there. If the Sagnar captured them, there would be hell to pay for that dead colony below!

Blasting through the hanger bay force field, she landed the fighter. Hitting the deck in a run, she left Loving behind. She jumped into a waiting lift as she felt the cruiser move around her.

She stepped out on the bridge as the planet disappeared behind them. Paul saw her coming and vacated the command chair. Sitting down, she looked at the view screen before her. Everything happened so fast, she reflected, that she hadn’t even been able to change out of her flight suit!

“Tactical report!” she snapped.

“The Sagnar Task Group is still a light hour behind us,” Paul said. “Once we get up to top speed, we should be able to maintain that distance over their cruisers.”

“How about that battle cruiser?” she asked. “Does she have the legs to get us in range?”

“No,” Paul said. “She is slightly slower then us. Enough to hang around for a while, but not catch us.”

“How long before we hit the outer marker?”

“We have one hour fifteen minutes,”

“That was cutting it close,” she said, wiping the sweat from her forehead.

###

“Commodore,” Alwyn said. “The cruiser has broken orbit. She’s making full power for the outer marker.”

“Damn,” Ducharme muttered. “The only units we have that can keep up are our cruisers…and I don’t want to leave us undefended.”

“Orders, sir?”

“Drop speed,” she said. “Let’s see why she was there.”

“Yes, sir,”

You’re luck will run out one day, Almir
, she thought. And I’ll be waiting for when it happens.
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