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Authors: Saxon Andrew

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BOOK: Lens of Time
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Kenny stared at Mikal and finally said, “Why are you really doing this?”

Mikal smiled at Kenny and said, “You don’t believe me do you?”

“No, I can see you mean what you’ve said; but you’re not telling the whole truth.”

Mikal looked at Loree and then back to Kenny, “This will probably be the most fun I’ve had in years.”

“I’m being serious, Captain.”

“With all due respect, Admiral, then you need to lighten up. This could be a hoot. I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”

Kenny leaned back in his chair and Loree thought the Captain was insane. Kenny thought about Arvolo and the wild things he had done in the pilot’s chair and he sensed a kindred spirit in the young captain. “What are you going to do to them?’

Mikal laughed and said, “If this new system works, what do you think will happen if I get inside the force field of one of their most advanced ships and start flying around the ship inside the force field.”

Kenny thought about it and started laughing as well, “Now that might be something worth seeing.”

“You will, Sir. I’ll be sending a video feed back showing everything that happens.” Mikal paused, “If I’m unable to penetrate the force field then I will have saved the men in my Wing. We won’t waste our resources building a ship that isn’t effective against our enemy. Either way, it’s something worth doing.”

“We could send a large number of ships to make this determination.”

“If you do that you run the risk of giving away too much. The risk is also greater that many ships will be forced to self-destruct to avoid capture. No, one ship is the most effective way to make this happen.”

Kenny stood up and said, “I wish you success, Captain. Captain Barber will provide you with all the information we’ve been able to gather on the best probable places to find one of their advanced civilizations.” He looked at Loree and said, “Make sure he has the most current information we have. I would also recommend you contact the Hive Master and see if he has anything to offer Captain Roman in the way of new information.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Kenny left the room and Loree said, “If you’re hell bent on killing yourself, I’ll try to assist you in going out with a bang.”

Roman laughed, “I think it’ll be a blast.”

Loree didn’t want to but she laughed, “Let’s get to work.” Loree saw the captain wasn’t insane; he was brave to a fault. It was also a shame to waste such a beautiful man as well.

• • •

Kenny hit his panel and said, “Bob, RV will be back tomorrow. He request’s that we meet him here on the Tampa and update him on what’s happened in his absence. Are you available?”

“I am. What time?”

“It’s eight p.m. ship time here. He suggested ten a.m.”

“I’ll be there.”

“Thanks, Bob.”

Chapter Four

V listened to the two admirals and remained quiet except for a few clarifying questions for more than two hours. That changed when Bob said, “George and I sent Captain Roman here to Kenny to prepare for his mission.”

RV said, “What mission?”

“I just told you we were going to trial the new attack craft against one of the Majors’ most advanced ships.”

“I thought you were going to do that in our next battle?”

“No, Captain Roman will be going to find one and confront it.”

“Just how was this Captain selected?”

“He volunteered.”

“He did?”

“Yes Sir, he did. We did all we could to talk him out of it.”

Kenny said, “I recorded the meeting I had with him. I’ll play it for you on the display.” The video started and RV watched the young Captain refuse to be persuaded to not go.”

“Where is he now?”

“He’s been working with my Executive Officer getting ready to go. They’ve been viewing footage of the last battle with the Majors to decide which civilization he was going to attack.”

“Take me to him.”

Kenny looked at Bob and then said, “You’re not going to talk him out of it.”

“Take me to him!”

“Yes Sir, follow me.”

RV and Bob followed Kenny to the Tampa’s main conference room and found Mikal and Loree were sitting at a table watching the display with thousands of ships being destroyed. When they saw RV enter the room they both jumped to attention. RV said, “As you were.” They sat back down and RV said, “You will not be making this mission, Captain.”

Mikal said, “Is that an order?”

“It is.”

“Then you will be responsible for the loss of life in my wing if this new ship fails.”

“I didn’t say the mission was not going to be done; I just said you weren’t going to do it.”

“Then who is?”

RV said, “I am.”

The room burst into an uproar with Kenny, Bob, and Loree protesting the decision. RV ignored everyone else and kept his attention on the Captain. RV saw he was not protesting. RV raised his hand and said, “Be quiet!” The three officers grew silent and RV said, “I notice you’re not protesting me taking your mission.”

“No Sir, I’m not.”

“Why is that?”

“Because you are far more qualified to fly it and you can probably manage to escape where I might fail.”

RV smiled and said, “You’re back on the mission, Captain.”

Kenny swore and said, “What was this all about?”

RV shrugged, “I needed to see if the captain here was smart or crazy. He’s not crazy.”

Kenny sat down in a chair and RV said, “Have you selected a civilization to attack?”

“I have. However, they did not send a ship in the last attack.”

“Why are you choosing them?”

“Both the Hive Leader and Horde Master mentioned during the attack that his fleet should keep their eyes out for a Nexu Battleship and plan to attack them in high numbers. None appeared during the battle.”

“How do you know?”

“No large ship concentrations were directed toward any of the ships that attacked. I suspect that none of the most advanced civilizations participated in the attack.”

Loree said, “They didn’t mention them when Captain Roman asked for the strongest ships in the Majors. I’m sure they didn’t want to see him die.”

“Do they know where their planets are located?”

“No Sir. They have an idea but it is only that, an idea.”

“Then how are you going to find them?”

“That’s really quite easy, Sir.”

RV smiled, “The two systems where no buoys were launched.”

Mikal showed his surprise and then smiled, “You’re as smart as I’ve been told you are. Those two systems obviously have the best defensive system of all the Major’s planets. If the Nexu aren’t there, some one more advanced is.”

“Then why have you been wasting your time here looking at all this material?” RV watched and saw Mikal’s face turn red. RV smiled and said, “I understand.”

Mikal looked at the floor and nodded.

Kenny, Bob, and Loree looked at each other and finally Loree said, “You’ve lost me.” She looked at Mikal and said, “If you knew where you were going, why did you waste the last week?”

RV said, “You don’t have to answer that, Captain.”

Mikal looked up and said, “Thank you, Sir. I’m going to leave tomorrow.”

Loree looked at Mikal and said, “You owe me an answer, Mikal.”

Mikal looked at Loree and after a long moment he said, “I didn’t want to leave before I had some time around you.”

Loree stared at Mikal and after a moment said, “Then you’ve been wasting time because I’m going with you.”

All four men said simultaneously, “WHAT!”

Mikal immediately said, “No you’re not! This mission is entirely too dangerous for you to go.”

Loree said matter of factly, “But not for you?”

“That’s different.”

Kenny said, “Captain Barber, you’re slated to be our next Fleet Admiral. I’m not going to allow you to do this.”

“Then you should stop him as well. I’ve learned over the last week that he knows more about fleet maneuvers than I ever will.”

RV remained silent as the two Admirals and Mikal argued with Loree. He interrupted and said, “Captain, Barber, why do you feel you have to go?”

Loree looked at Mikal and smiled, “It’s not because I’m all ga-ga over you, although you do intrigue me. It’s because this mission is worth doing. I didn’t think so at first but now I see what Mikal has been saying. If we build these ships without a beam to defend them and they don’t work against the Major’s ships; then they’re all going to die. We have to find out.”

RV nodded and said, “But that doesn’t tell me why you have to go with him?”

Loree looked around the room and said, “This new ship is going to need two people to make it work. The pilot is going to have to put his full attention at avoiding the weapons he’ll encounter once he breaks through the enemy force field. He can’t do that effectively and work the weapon controls as well.”

Kenny said, “What weapon controls? He just fires a fusion missile and that’s that.”

“That’s true, but what if the ship he’s attacking is surrounded by enemy ships where multiple numbers can fire on him when he exits? He needs to choose a place to leave before he fires the missile. I know the new force field will stand up to one ship but will it survive the attention of ten or more?”

The three Admirals and Mikal were silent as they thought about what she said. Then she dropped the bomb, “Besides, I know how we can escape.”

Mikal jerked his head up, “How!”

Loree smiled and said, “The black hole’s jet.”

RV laughed out loud, “How long did it take you to make that intuitive leap?” Loree’s face turned red. RV said, “Come on, Captain. You made him confess.”

Loree took a deep breath and said, “I’ve been struggling with the thought of Mikal dying and I just had a major problem with that thought.” She looked at Mikal and said, “I don’t want to lose him. He’s made me laugh more than I have in ten years.” She looked back at RV and said, “Then it occurred to me that you and the Connors had gone into M-87 safely. Why couldn’t the same process be used to exit?”

Mikal said, “I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”

“The jet that erupts out of M-87’s black hole extends more than a hundred and twenty thousand light years. That jet is too powerful for most ships to even think about entering. However, this new ship has a force field three times stronger than any we’ve been able to develop. It might be able to jump into that stream, accelerate away from the black hole until the stream weakens, and enter Sierra Space from there. There’s no way the ship could be tracked from there except visually. Any pursuing ship would have to enter the stream right behind us.”

RV said, “How do you know that?”

“I pulled the report from your escape and I took a look at the Sierra Space that your George Communicator was operating in. You were a light year away from that jet and it was roiling and boiling even that far away. Any trace of a jump would be erased instantly inside the jet. The jump location would have to be visually plotted.”

“How do you know you can jump from Sierra Space that is being distorted that much, even at the end of the stream?”

Loree smiled, “I don’t know for certain but this offers hope. Nothing else does; it’s worth the effort. Someone is going to have to make the jump into that jet at the outer edge.” She looked at Mikal and said, “You’re going to be too busy to do that while fleeing from any pursuers, right.”

He stared at her and said, “What do you mean by do it right?”

“You should not jump into the center of the jet. You must jump in just outside the center. I’ve talked with Dr. Hendricks, who is our best physicist, and he says there may not be Sierra Space where the center of that jet is located. It will require two jumps; one to just outside the jet where readings will be taken and then a jump into it. This is the only chance of you surviving this mission and I’m going to be there to make it happen.”

RV took a deep breath and said, “We’re going to leave the two of you to discuss this. Let us know what you decide.” RV looked at Bob and Kenny and nodded toward the door. They followed him out of the room.

Once they were outside Kenny said, “RV, she is too valuable to lose on this hair brained mission.”

“This mission is more important than anything she’ll do as an admiral, Kenny. How many attack craft do we have in our fleets?”

Kenny thought a moment and then said, “You’re right, as usual. She would have to lose an entire major fleet to come close to those that would die if this doesn’t work.”

RV smiled, “Those two in that room figured that out before we did. He was the first to see it and Captain Barber is probably right. Mikal should be in a major leadership position.”

Kenny smiled, “It’s good to have you back, Sir, and if I might add, you look smaller than the last time I saw you. Have you been exercising?”

RV’s face turned red and he smiled, “Let’s go get a beer and discuss it.”

• • •

Mikal was struggling and Loree knew it. He finally said, “I’m going to cancel this mission if you don’t agree to stay here.”

Loree came around and sat in a chair next to him and took his hands in hers, “If you do that, I’ll go alone. You’ve made me see the importance of doing this and it must be attempted. Millions of lives are at stake in this decision.” Mikal stared into her eyes and finally nodded. Loree said, “Honestly, my life would be less if I lost you. I have to go with you to make sure I can continue to laugh…”

Mikal looked at her and said, “What are you saying?”

“Mikal, I don’t know how I feel about you. I just know that when I look at my days without you in them, they just look dull and boring. You’ve been the most fun I’ve had in years. This way I’ll have at least one more day with you in it.” Mikal continued to stare into her eyes and then he smiled. Loree leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the cheek. The kiss lingered for moment and then she leaned away.

“We should leave the day after tomorrow.”

“I thought you were planning to leave tomorrow?”

“I want a day with you off this ship. Then I can go.”

Loree smiled, “I know just the place.”

Mikal softly said, “I was hoping you would.”

• • •

RV sat in his command chair on the Havana and said, “Cyanna, pass these coordinates to the eighth fleet and have them ready to jump.”

BOOK: Lens of Time
6.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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