Chapter 21 snippet (new writing)

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She watched the Intelligence array grow on the view screen. Seeing that she was right brought no desire to gloat; all it did was further emphasize what was happening in this sector. Everyone has something to hide out her, she mused, and from the Sagnar to the Alliance neither one of which had clean hands.

While she was happy on one hand that there wasn’t a dead colony to be found, this was more troubling. The destruction of an eavesdropping array would make sense, killing colonies didn’t. Everything happening out her, she reflected, was like a puzzle and she was still missing pieces to be able to put it together.

Just what did Fleet Command want to achieve out here? Were they trying for a war? Or did they want to cause trouble and cast doubts onto someone else? Just what the hell was Beatty up to back home?

Whatever it is, she thought, you can guarantee it isn’t good!

“Tactical,” she said, crossing her legs. “Are we still clear?”

“Aye, skipper,” Commander Lisa Malloy, the chief tactical officer said. “We’re clear as far as we can read.”

“I want a close eye kept on those sensors,” she said. “No telling if our buddy from Fleet is hiding out.”

“CIC,” she said, hitting the stud on her arm. “Any luck on decrypting those files on the vessels?”

“We’ve got a partial decryption sir,” Lieutenant Roberts, the duty officer said. “But it’s slow going.”

“So far we can tell it’s a standard Fleet battle cruiser design out here,” Roberts said. “But that’s all we’ve got unencrypted.”

“Any luck on the second file?”

“Once we get this one cracked,” he said. “Then that one will be easy.”

“Understood,” she said. “What class of battle cruiser are we looking at?”

“It appears to be an Alaska-class ship,” Roberts said.

An Alaska-class, she snorted, more then enough firepower to over match her cruiser. Why would they send such a ship out here where it could run into Sagnar battleships?
Something had to be special on that ship, especially for it be involved with Intelligence. Damn it, why couldn’t the pieces to the puzzle come together sooner?

“That’s not good,” she muttered. “I want you to keep working on those files, Lieutenant. We need to know what we’re up against.”

“Aye, sir,”

She killed the connection and rubbed her chin in thought. A battle cruiser eh? That would certainly preclude them taking her on toe to toe. To do so would be suicide, and whoever commanded that ship knew it too. By now, she told herself, they had to know her cruiser was out her, and they would be hunting for her as hard as she was hunting for them.

Why do I get the feeling that when I do put the pieces together, she thought, that I won’t like what the make?

She turned her attention to the view screen. As they pulled to a stop by the array, she noted that the damage was to the living quarters only. Whoever did this, she mused, wanted to taunt the Sagnar. By killing their crew, but leaving the array intact, it would certainly enrage the other government.

With a sigh, she closed her eyes. Everything seemed to be pointing towards a war, but for what purpose? What did Beatty, or President Carver for that matter, have to gain from this? They obviously wanted to expand their version of National Socialism, but would they risk intergalactic war to do so?

“What’s our distance to the array?” she asked Williams.

“Ten klicks, Skipper,”

That was well within suit thruster range, she reflected. If there were any information left on the array, it would have to be accessed manually. Licking her lips, she made her decision.

“XO,” she said. “You have the bridge. I’m going over there.”

Paul knew better then to argue with her again. The look she shot him told him that he didn’t want to question her this time. Every clue they found was important, she didn’t trust anyone else to handle it but her. If he didn’t like it, she reflected, then he could just stew on it!

“Lieutenant Loving,” she said, stepping into a waiting lift. “Please meet me at airlock three.”
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