The is the start of Chapter 2 when the fleet Admiral realizes Kate is about to stumble upon their well-hidden secret, starting the ball rolling on "the Betrayal" that is to come....
Beatty sighed as he blew cigarette smoke out of his mouth, while he stared at his holographic plot. A single hand reached up and rubbed his forehead while the lit cigarette hung from his lips. He stifled a curse as he looked at two images on his plot with ever increasing worry.
A snort of contempt escaped his lips as he glared at the closer transponder. While the vessel itself was just a heavy cruiser, the Fleet had hundreds of them, the woman commanding it was who worried him. He shook his head as he contemplated how she had ruined many carefully thought out plans over the years. Working alone, and not knowing whom she was up against, Kate Almir had found ways to cause major setbacks to President Carver and their cadre. That alone was enough to make Beatty burn with a hatred for her that would never be abated.
The damning thing about it all, he mused to himself, was that is he had his druthers, she would never have made it command! However, there were limits that even he, as Fleet Commander, could do to control BuPers’ decisions. While he could’ve overruled them, he would have had to have a good reason to do so. And telling them that the woman in question had interfered with illegal plans just wasn’t a good enough reason, he reminded himself as he took a deep drag on his cigarette.
You’ve lived one damned charmed life, Almir, his hatred nearing the surface as he glared at the Roanoke’s transponder.
As much as Almir’s ship worried him, it was the second, solitary icon that caused the hairs on the back of his neck to stand on end. There had been no contact with the Toronto for over a day, and that wasn’t part of standard operating procedure for the type of operation involved. Having been stationary for the entire day, Beatty was worried that the worst had happened. While that ship is registered as a civilian craft, he fumed; it was far from it! If Almir stumbled upon that ship, it would be the end of everything they were finally in position to achieve!
Don’t let her learn about that ship, he found himself praying to a God he didn’t believe existed.
“Sir,” An ensign said as he entered Beatty’s office. In his hands he held a transmission copy for the Fleet Admiral. “We have received a message for Captain Almir.”
Beatty felt his stomach drop to the floor as the words sunk in. His breath started to race as he felt the walls of his office start to close in on him. Jesus, this couldn’t be happening, could it? Almir was at the wrong place and the wrong time-again!
Leaving the Fleet Admiral alone to his thoughts, the ensign left as quickly as he arrived. Beatty looked at the flimsy in his hand, fearful of what it would contain. Oh my God, he mused, how could this be happening again? How could Almir be where she wasn’t supposed to be every time something terrible happened?
“‘Have received distress call from civilian science vessel. Proceeding at top speed to render assistance, out.’” Beatty read the message aloud, his anger reaching the flash point. Crumpling the flimsy up he threw it at his plot with a roar of rage. “God**** it!”
Beatty kicked the side of his desk with a roar that shook the walls of his office. Looking at the dent he put in his dark, cherry desk, he felt a sense of regret from what he just did. Sitting down heavily in his chair, he leaned back with his eyes locked on the ceiling. Just once, wouldn’t it be nice if the person finding the **** weren’t one Katherine Almir? Trying to kill her didn’t seem to work, he cursed, since she wouldn’t take the hint and keep her damned nose out of where it didn’t belong!
“Almir,” Rubbing his eyes he sighed. “Why does it always have to be you?”
The bile rose in his throat as Beatty looked at the manifest of the Toronto. She was carrying a full load of their best material on her, and Almir was going to find it! For the twentieth time he shook his head, cursing fate for its handling of the situation. To think, he told himself, we thought we had done everything to have “The Banshee” bottled up where she couldn’t do us any harm! Now she was going to be in a position to ruin everything again! Just what was it going to take to get the damned woman out of their hair once and for all?
Beatty leaned back in his chair, his eyes closed as he fought to regain control of himself. There was nothing about one Katherine Almir he took lightly anymore. After watching her single-handedly survive a squad of marines hunting her on Selvior, there was nothing she did that surprised him. Thus, in reaction to her ability to overcome anything thrown at her, he had taken a different tack with her: he had taken to assigning her duties that kept her as far away from the action as possible.
Which obviously didn’t work this time, he thought as he rubbed her forehead. Two days…that’s all it would have taken for her to be at the far end of her patrol and well away from anything we were doing!
With a sigh, he opened his eyes and focused on a third plot image. Ten light years from Almir’s position, it was the wild card he had to play. If she managed to track the operations to that location, he could be rest assured that she wouldn’t survive that encounter. Which wouldn’t be a day too soon, he mused, if you ask me.
A wicked smile crossed his face as he contemplated life without Kate Almir. Chuckling with vicious glee, Beatty felt his blood pressure start to drop. Once she was gone, he reminded himself, everything would move forwards without anyone to stop it!
Beatty reached across his desk, his thumb hitting the switch the activate his com system. He surprised himself with how calm and measured his voice had become. With a shake of his head, he took a deep breath before speaking.
“Captain,” he said to his adjunct. “Will you please call Rear Admiral Johansson’s office and have he report to me, please.”
Beatty stared at the pack of cigarettes on his desk, and he felt the bile rise back up in his throat. This was supposed to be the week he quit the damned things, but with the way events were transpiring that was going to be a fantasy. It was all Almir’s fault, he contemplated as he reached for the pack, and if she wasn’t in the picture he could’ve quit! Why wouldn’t the damned woman take a hint and keep her nose out of where it didn’t belong?
This time, my dear Captain Almir, he thought with an evil chuckle. If you misstep I’m going to definitely see that you die!
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