The Betrayal RW Chapter 5 snippet
“What is it, tactical?” Kate asked, the hairs on the back of her neck rising. “All weapons prepare to fire!”
“I don’t know, sir,” Malone was saying. “CIC isn’t sure either, we don’t have enough data.”
“How far out is it?”
“It should be coming around the planet right…now!”
“Visual!” Kate snapped.
As CIC fed it the new information, the view screen changed. Kate felt her jaw drop as she stepped out of her command chair. That couldn’t be what it looked like, could it? Her eyes bored in the screen as she took a deep breath.
Oh My God, she thought, her stunned brain trying to get back in gear.
What had been a Fleet ship at one time was floating in orbit. It looked like a destroyer, she mused as her eyes traveled over it. The destroyers white hull was gashed like a giant predator had ripped and torn at it. Huge scorch marks marred the weapons bays and plasma trailed behind her as she hove into view.
If there were any survivors, Kate told herself. They’ve been long dead…all the oxygen has leaked out and power to damage control shielding is gone.
“Identify that ship,” Kate spoke, her voice harder then flint.
“CIC says it will take a few minutes to identify,” Malone said.
She came up behind Williams and stopped with her arms crossed over her chest. What was a Fleet ship doing this far out, she wondered. No one else had been assigned anywhere near this sector since they had been.
Who destroyed her? Kate asked herself, clicking her tongue in thought. And why?
“Skipper,” Malone said. “CIC has positively identified her as the Benham, sir.”
Kate felt her breath escape her lips like she had been punched in the gut. Without a word, she stumbled back to her command chair, and she sat down hard. For long moments she stared off into space, tears running down her cheeks, as she felt numb all over. She raised a shaking hand to her face and she wiped the tears away.
“The Benham is destroyer hull number three-five-one-eight, and is class number DD-5351,” Malone said. “She has a crew of one hundred fifty and is commander by Commander-“
“I know who commanded her, tactical,” she said, her voice harder then she wanted it to be.
Memories of a more pleasant time filled her mind, and these she knew where true. When the Hood had rescued her on Selvior, Commander Janice Long had lead the team. During the trip back to Earth, they had become good friends, and did until this day. When she had received command of the Roanoke, Long had sent her a big bottle of Jim Beam in celebration. Now Janice Long was dead, she reflected, and she didn’t have a clue why.
“Helm,” Kate spoke, bitterness showing in her voice. “Match our orbit with the Benham’s, please.”
A pall of silence fell over the landing party like a cloak of darkness. The pain that the Captain felt was the same they felt. Why were Fleet personnel killing each other, they wondered. Was this sick secret that important?
Motioning with her hand, Loving lead the way with and automatic rifle in her hand. The command center was in the direction she was heading, but she wasn’t rushing to get there. Even though it appeared abandoned, she reminded herself, anything was possible.
And I for one certainly don’t want to place an additional load on Kate! She told herself with a sigh.
She stopped, with her back against the wall, beside a doorway. Peering around the corner, she saw no one and she continued to move forward. Base infiltrations were always a bitch, she reminded herself. There were too many ways to get ambushed, and lose your life, before you achieved your goal.
Hopefully everything would go well, she reminded herself and everyone left the base. Otherwise, things might get a bit hectic at any moment.
“Clear,” she murmured through her com unit.
Slipping down the corridor with the silence of a cat, she stayed on point. While she could never match the silence, or the deadliness, of Kate Almir, she was pretty damned close herself. With a fourteen-millimeter combat rifle in her hand, she mused, she pitied the fool that ran into her!
She peeped both ways when she reached the end of the corridor. Letting her held-in breath out, she relaxed for a moment. If CIC was correct, they were very close to the command center.
“How is it looking up there, Lieutenant,” Paul’s voice came through her headset.
“Clear, sir,” She said as she started down the corridor to her left.
Her heartbeat started to rise as she went further down the corridor. The station had to have held several hundred people, judging from the number of ships that fled. If just a fraction stayed behind to guard the base, she mused, then they were going to be severely over matched.
I think it would’ve been better for us to be at the Alamo then here if that’s true, she told herself with a soft snort.
She stopped before a door marked ‘command’ and took a deep breath. How nice of them to mark it for us, she thought as she let her breath out and her muscles started to relax.
She yanked the rifle from her shoulder as something darted across in front of her. Without a conscious thought she pulled the trigger, the rifle kicking back against her shoulder. Ignoring the deafening noise, she tracked the motion, bullet holes lining the corridor. As quickly as it appeared, the movement disappeared.
“Lieutenant! What are you firing at, Goddamn it!” Paul shouted over the com system.
“Movement, sir!” she said, her breath racing in her ears.
“What kind of movement?”
“I’m investigating now, sir!”
Sweeping the corridor with her rifle, she moved forward lightly. The damned thing moved fast, she thought, and it didn’t stat in one place for long! However, she needed to know where it had gone before she could clear the area for the rest of the team.
She felt her ears perk up when she heard a sound coming from the floor. Looking at where the wall met the floor, she spotted the source of the movement. With a chuckle, she shook her head at the white rat before her. All that shooting, she chided herself, for a damned rat!
“Clear,” she said after the chuckling has passed. “Just a lab rat that got loose.”
“Way to give us a heart attack, Lieutenant!” Paul replied.
“Hey,” Jennifer let her shrug show up in her voice. “You pay me to keep you safe, not be loose with the security.”
“We’ll be there in a second,” he said. “Just sit tight.”
“Sir,” Jennifer said with all earnestness. “If I was sitting any tighter I think I’d be boxed up and shipped out.”
The front door to Hell itself couldn’t be as gruesome, she mused as they approached the hulk of the Benham. Janice had died a violent death out her, far from Alliance space, for reasons that were unknown. If it took moving heaven and hell itself, Kate swore, she was going to find out why.
After being powerless on Necko to keep my friends from dying, she thought with utter hatred toward whoever had perpetrated it. I will do something this time, Janice! You can guarantee it!
“Skipper,” Williams said to break her brooding silence. “We’re within a hundred klicks of the Benham.”
“Commander Malone,” Kate said as she stood up. “You’ve got the ship. I’m going over there.”
She left the bridge, not allowing for debate to take place. As far as she was concerned, she didn’t care if people like or her not. It wasn’t their friend who had been murdered! Whoever was behind this had mad it personal, she raged behind the mask of her face, Janice deserved better then this!
‘May God have mercy on my enemies because I will not,’ Kate thought, quoting the ancient Earth general George S. Patton, as she entered the lift.
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