The Hunted Chapter 31 snippet

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A ship appearing from h-space would take an observer by surprise. One moment things would be quiet, the next, a ship would appear in a flash. The excess energy from the jump would bleed off in a multicolored flash of light. For less advanced civilizations, it would almost appear to be magic or some form of spiritual intervention was behind the event.

Before making the jump to n-space, Kate had spotted a lone comet on the navicomp. Its coma and tail was in full development, the shroud of gases around it bigger then a planet, the tail stretching for millions of miles behind. With so much dust and gas prevalent, it would hide their appearance quite nicely.

Once the jump was complete, the comet filled their view on the starboard side. While it had served its purpose, it wouldn’t for the rest of the trip. With a sigh, Kate activated the stealth screen and they disappeared from view.

“Are you sure about this, Kate?” Thad asked. “You’re talking a risky plan.”

“Is there any other way?” She asked. Could he possibly be serious about wanting to second-guess the plan now? “The defenses will have to be neutralized first before anyone can even think of helping us.”

“I still don’t like it,”

Thad could be so infuriating at times, Kate reflected. What wasn’t there to like about the plan? Well, just about everything, but what choice did they have? The retreat had a missile battery that was capable of attacking ships in orbit, along with the other items in its arsenal. How in the name of God was Reyes supposed to get them help if it could be destroyed while in orbit?

“If we had a choice,” Kate said. “I would do it differently, but time isn’t giving us that option.”

To say that time wasn’t on their side was an understatement, Kate reflected. From the very moment Ferini showed her the bomb, everyone had been behind the eight ball. Now, it was up to her to stop him, and Thad to try to hack to defensive systems. Even as confident as she was, Kate didn’t want to place odds on their ability to succeed.

“I’d like to kill the man myself,” Thad said.

“Take a number and get in line,” Kate said. “I’m afraid I’ve got the first shot.”

“I can understand some of your animosity,” he said. “What else happened there?”

“The man raped me repeatedly,” Kate said. “And that’s all I want to say.”

“My God…”

“So, yeah, I have a reason to want him dead,”

The two of them fell into an uncomfortable silence. Kate had never told Thad about that part of her life for a reason. It was something she didn’t want to think about any longer and had hoped to leave behind. However, fate had intervened in its usual, cruel way and put the two of them back together again.

Once again it proves that if there is a God, she thought, he’s one cruel son of a bitch.

With the President’s life at stake, there wasn’t any time to waste. Kate slid the thruster controls into full power and the fighter responded. They arced below the comet and into the open space beyond. Behind them, the small body continued on the same orbit it had for millions of years.

A single question kept nagging at the back of Kate’s mind. Just what were the Hilgarians going to do? All signs pointed towards them being the money behind Ferini, but could there be more to all of this? There had been rumbles that the Empire wanted to start a war with the Barton Republic over the past six months. Could they want to start it with the Alliance instead?

The beauty of an Intelligence fighter was that it could like with the mainframes back on Ireland. While most pilots wouldn’t have security clearance to look at classified materials, that wasn’t so for a Special Ops Agent like herself. When the information came up on the screen, a frown crossed Kate’s face.

What kind of game was the Empire trying to play? They had built up their military forces along the border with the Republic three fold. A quick rundown of the ships showed enough heavy units. There were two squadrons of battleships, three carriers, several battle cruiser groups, along with many cruisers and destroyers.

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