Chapter 12 snippet (new writing)
Proxima Six was an average star by ever account. A main sequence orange dwarf, it was slightly smaller then Sol. With a small, five-planet solar system around it, there was nothing that was special.
Which makes it a perfect place for someone to commit atrocities, Kate told herself.
Looking at the bridge plot, she felt an eyebrow rise. They were a scant handful of light years from the hidden base. Would they have used their weaponry here? A day’s trip would certainly be something they could’ve done with any vessel.
“Tactical,” she said, not looking up from the plot. “Do we have any signs of inhabitants in the system?”
“Negative,” the tactical officer on duty said. “We’re too far out, and according the computers, no one had any colonies out her.”
“Yeah well,” she said. “Intelligence wasn’t supposed to have a base out here either. I want a full scan done once we’re in range.”
“Are you thinking what I am?” Paul asked her, looking up from across the plot.
“That this might have been somewhere they used those weapons on?” she asked. “It’s only a hop, skip and a jump from Beta Scorpii to here.”
“It would be a logical first place to test it out on,” he said. “Do you think they would have done it that way?”
“I wouldn’t put anything past them,” she said, tapping a finger on the plot. “But something about this bothers me.”
Paul looked at her, waiting for Kate to finish the thought. The entire situation had bothered him, he mused, so why would it change now? Fleet personnel killing each other were something he had hoped to never see. Shivering slightly, he spoke up:
“What is that, Skipper?”
“The biggest question I can’t answer,” she said. “Is why this sector? The Sagnar are close by, but, as far as I know, they don’t have any colonies in the sector.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” Paul said.
“Which brings me back to this: What does Intelligence have to gain by using the weaponry out here?” she rubbed her forehead in thought.
“They could perfect them without anyone knowing about it,” Paul said.
“Yes they could,” she agreed. “But the Sagnar have been known to patrol this sector too…why take the risk of them finding you?”
“XO,” she said. “Something stinks out here, and I just can’t quite finger it.”
“Captain,” tactical said. “We have gotten within range of the second planet.”
“What do you have?”
“Open transmissions,” he said. “No voice or data.”
“That isn’t good,” she said, looking up at Paul.
“Any ships in sensor range?”
“Helm,” she said. “Take us in, nice and easy. Let’s not make ourselves an inviting target.”
Drumming her fingers on the plot, she considered their options. Even in a non-disputed, non-claimed section of space, there were issues to worry about. The first issue was that the Sagnar tended to patrol the sector. With their borders a scant twenty light-years from where they were, it made sense for them to.
However, she realized, if they ran into a Sagnar patrol, things would get interesting quickly. There wouldn’t be a legitimate excuse she could use for their presence. Their home borders were one hundred light years away, putting them way outside where they should be. Even a rookie Sagnar captain would know that fact!
This is the zone between us, she thought, grimacing. They won’t send a rookie captain…it’ll be someone experienced.
“We’re going to have to tread lightly, XO,” she said. “And keep and eye out for Sagnar patrols.”
“I concur,” Paul said. “We don’t have a good reason for being her.”
“If we were a scientific ship,” she said. “We could excuse ourselves…but not a heavy cruiser.”
“Helm,” she said. “How long before we make orbit?”
“At current speed, Skipper,” Williams said. “It’ll be twelve hours.”
“I want a close eye kept on the sensors,” she said. “Any sign of a Sagnar ship and we drop power to everything but life support.”
The best defense, she told herself, in space was to use its size to your advantage. Drop power to everything and become a hole in space. Unless someone was really paying attention to their sensors, they wouldn’t pick you up.
Which is what happened to us at Selvior, she shuddered, thinking about her experience with Task Force 3.1.
“Skipper,” Paul said. “You’ve been driving yourself hard. You should get some rest while you can.”
“I would be better here,”
“Kate,” he said, keeping his voice where only she could hear him. “You’ve been through a lot the past couple of days. Let me watch the bridge, and allow your body to get some rest. Who knows when you will be able to do it later.”
She opened her mouth, but closed it back up again. There was no way to argue with him, she told herself, he was right as usual. While she didn’t feel exhausted, she knew how it could creep up on her, making her decisions less focused. The best thing she could do would be to take his advice and rest.
“Okay, XO,” she said. “You have the bridge.”
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