Chapter 33 snippet

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With the ship damaged as it was, the long walk to CIC was even longer. Passing antigravity beds in the hallway, she looked at the wounded. Each man or woman who passed by her tore at her heart strings some more. Could there be anything worse in life then knowing that the deaths of others are on your hands?

A medical team emerged from a section of engineering before her. She stopped to let them pass and nearly jumped when something grabbed her sleeve. Looking at a bloody hand, she spotted its owner on the gurney.

A newly minted ensign looked at her, his face covered with his blood. Streaming from his nose and the corner of his mouth was fresh blood. She fought back tears as she looked at him. He couldn’t be more then a kid, she thought, no more then seventeen at the best!

“Captain…”

She looked up at the medical team to get a report on him. The lead medic looked at her and shook her head. There was nothing they could do for him, other then to make him comfortable. Despite his injuries, she could tell his wasn’t in any pain. Thank God for that, she mused, because it would just make things worse for her…

“Yes, Ensign,”

Trying to make her voice gentle for the boy was the hardest thing she ever did. The tears were right on the verge of flowing from her eyes. All she could find herself thinking of was Patricia and her death. Both of them were due to her decisions, and that was something that was damning to her soul.

“You are the best Captain in the Fleet,” he gasped. “Orders?”

“Full speed ahead,”

“Aye, Skipper…”

The life ebbed from his body before her. She felt like a five hundred pound sledgehammer punched her in the stomach. As the medics pulled the sheet over his head, the first tear let loose. She clenched her fists, trembling with the effort to keep herself under control.

Pushing herself away from them, she walked a few paces down the corridor. Leaning her head against the bulkhead, she closed her eyes. The young ensign and Patricia flashed through her head. As the tears ran down her cheeks, she could feel the saltiness of it in her mouth.

This has gone on far enough, she told herself, standing up straight again. Even if it the cost was my own life, this has to be stopped!

She punched the lift control angrily. Beatty and Carver were going to pay for this, she raged behind her mask. All of this was because one man, Carver, wanted absolute power. Well, absolute power corrupted absolutely, and she would prevent him from getting it!

The lift lurched into motion; the upward movements making her stomach churn. Even with the artificial gravity more stable, it didn’t cover up the lift’s motion. With all the things the Chief had to worry about, she wasn’t going to open her mouth about it.

The lift stopped and the doors opened up. She stepped out into a dimly light room, whose main lighting was a light blue color. She let her eyes shift for low light mode, and everything jumped out at her. Banks of computers lined the walls with large vertical holographic plots filling the center. Around the room, tactical technicians worked on the data they had. In the far corner from her, engineering techs worked to repair a terminal that had been damaged during the fight.

“Skipper,” Roberts said, coming up to her. “What can I do for you?”

“What do you have about that base, Lieutenant?”

“All we got readings on were the weapons,”

“They can’t be too far from the base itself, can you give me the coordinates?”

“Certainly,” he said. “They were located here…”

The holographic plot before them changed to show a grid of the planet’s surface. Looking at the snowy surface, she saw the weapons placements mark. Red circles filled the screen in several locations that surrounded a large empty area.

That had to be the location of the base, she mused, looking at the plot closely. They wouldn’t have put weapons far from their location with the climate like that. It would make servicing them something very difficult and the power relays would be laid out too far. No, they would have to have the base in the empty center.

“What do you make of this large empty section in the center, Lieutenant?”

“I would say it makes an interesting case, Skipper. Why would you have that with the weaponry surrounding it?”

“An underground, or shielded, base perhaps?”

Roberts looked at the image closely. She watched with interest as he moved to inches from the image. His eyes moved back and forth over it like a scanner, the information kicking around his brain. When he turned back around the face her, certainty was in them.

“No doubt about it, Skipper. There’s a hidden base underground there.”

“What makes you so sure, Lieutenant?”

“Because I spotted a small vent for their spaceport,” he said. “It isn’t something that would allow us to destroy it though…only the twentieth century movie ‘Star Wars’ made things that simple.”

“Is it your opinion that someone on the ground could take out that base?”

“Depends on the skill of the person involved, Skipper.”

“I wouldn’t call myself unskilled, Lieutenant,” she said, forcing a smile on her face. “Can you send that information to my fighter?”

“Yes, sir,”

She turned and started to walk away. Options were starting to race through her head about dealing with the base. While she had trained for ice planet insertions, she had never actually done one. Equipment and items that they would need to stay alive were on her mind as she pulled the com unit off her built.

“Almir to Loving,”

“Loving here, Skipper,”

“I want you to meet me in the hanger bay in thirty minutes,” she said. “Bring what you will need for a base infiltration, and two sets of Ice Gear.”

“Are you going to do what I think you’re going to do, Skipper?”

“Yes,” she said, smiling in a way that could only charitably be called one. “We’re going to take out that base…”
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