Wing Commander: Pilgrim Truth
by Peter Telep

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Rear Cover

CIC Intro

Peter Telep

Draft: 3-15-99

Wing Commander
Pilgrim Truth

(Continuity Novel #2)

Synopsis by Peter Telep


Begin in 2654, on a planet in the Promise system, a planet occupied by Pilgrims. An old man sits on his porch, with his seven-year-old grandson balanced on his knee. They stare up at the night sky, and the old man begins telling the boy about the first Pilgrims to explore the stars nearly 350 years ago, then the scene switches to--

Ivar Chu McDaniel (philosopher and lay-preacher) on a Pilgrim “sloship,” taking 1200 of his people out to the Sirius system in a “final exodus,” circa 2311. A quavering blue light encompasses their ship, and the Pilgrims vanish, leaving behind one man who had been flying scout.

Back to the old man and boy. “So they just disappeared, grandpa?” The old man shakes his head. “They went to a far better place. And some day, you and I will meet them.”

Chapter 1:
Behind the walls of a Pilgrim “safe camp” on Mars, Karista Mullens (the woman who is Blair’s natural pair from the previous book), contemplates her escape, along with several other Pilgrims. Karista has an extrakinetic ability (a highly sensitive and powerful form of telekinesis illustrated in the previous book) but resists using it because of the strain it places on her. During a discussion with several others of the “protected” (think of the Japanese in the US during W.W.II), she experiences a vision: a blue sea that engulfs the stars. She feels drawn to the sea; there’s a powerful scent in the air, not unlike pine or jasmine; and she can hear thousands of voices carried on a breeze--though she can’t understand what they’re saying...

...and neither can Lieutenant Christopher Blair, who has just experienced the same vision while flying his Rapier fighter. The carrier Tiger Claw is at the Pilgrim enclave of Triune to enforce a no-fly zone and to supply fighter support against Pilgrims who have stolen commercial transports. Blair’s wingman, Todd “Maniac” Marshall, saves Blair from an attack and wants to know why Blair “blacked out.” Blair won’t answer. He’s having trouble contending with the explanation himself, but he’s deeply reminded of a moment from his childhood, a visit to his mother’s grave on his homeworld of Nephele. On that day he was first given his mother’s Pilgrim cross, and he realizes that back then he had a similar vision, though he hasn’t remembered it until now.

Chapter 2:
On board the Concordia, Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn and Commodore Richard Bellegarde discuss the latest status on the hunt for the Olympus (a supercruiser taken over by her former captain, Amity Aristee, who turned out to be a Pilgrim). During the conversation, the two officers view more holos of atrocities at Pilgrim systems, enclaves, and “safe camps.” Tolwyn believes that Aristee won’t return the ship, and the best way to draw her into a trap is to destroy all Pilgrim systems and enclaves on his original date: 158. Space Marshal Gregarov still won’t endorse that order, and the senate is ready to call for Tolwyn’s dismissal for going behind their backs in the first place. Gregarov has saved Tolwyn’s job--in exchange for him keeping it quiet that she was the one who actually allowed Amity Aristee and her Pilgrims to build the hopper drive. Gregarov thought she could seize the drive before Aristee could begin operating it. Tolwyn tells the space marshal that they can’t afford to maintain the no-fly zones indefinitely and that a decision must be made.

Vukar and Makorshk (the Kilrathi admiral and tactical officer from the pervious book) continue debating whether they should return to the Kilrathi homeworld of Kilrah. They failed to bring back the Pilgrim supercruiser (in the previous book). If they don’t return, they will become renegades--just like the Pilgrims themselves. Before they reach a final decision, they intercept a communiqué from the Kilrathi emperor to Amity Aristee. They decrypt the code and learn that the emperor is going to meet with Aristee at a designated rendezvous point in interstellar space to discuss how they can benefit each other. Makorshk suggests that they go there and make one last attack on the Olympus. If the emperor strikes a deal with Aristee, his new alliance will definitely come together, and Vukar’s clan, the Caxki, have already withdrawn (due to a deal they made in the previous book with another clan). The alliance cannot form, and the Caxki clan must have the modified hopper drive so they can create their own gravity wells and jump huge distances. The drive can also be used as a planet killer, should it generate a gravity well sufficiently large enough. Vukar changes course and heads for the rendezvous point.

On McDaniel’s World, the spiritual center for Pilgrims, an old woman, Sostur Inanna Pandathy, goes into her backyard and stares with awe at a beautiful blue tree with multi-colored leaves. She takes one of the leaves into her hand, rubs it a moment, then falls to her knees and begins to cry...

Chapter 3:
While sleeping in his quarters, Blair experiences another vision and remembers a rainy day on his uncle’s farm when he also had a similar experience. He and his uncle had been fighting over his decision to enter the Confed Naval Academy. Blair’s beginning to realize that he’s had these visions many times during his life and wonders why he hasn’t remembered them until now. He’s contacted by Karista, who touches his “script” in the space-time continuum. Through his mind, Blair is able to be with her at the camp. Karista says she’s not safe and is thinking about breaking out. Blair tells her about his visions. Karista has experienced the same. Blair wishes he could go to Mars to help her. She’ll contact him again to let him know that she’s all right.

In a small officer’s quarters on board the Olympus, William Santyana (the Pilgrim pilot who Aristee conscripted in the novelization’s epilogue) tells his wife Pris that he’s learned through a contact on the bridge that Aristee’s going to make a deal with the Kilrathi emperor. They have to get off the ship immediately. Santyana has been trying to do this since first coming aboard, but this time he vows to get off or die trying.

Elsewhere on the Olympus, Amity Aristee meets with Protur Carver Tsu III (think of the Catholic pope) and seeks his advice. She thought that by using the hopper drive to destroy Earth, she would make a rallying cry to her people. But how can she do that now? The protur assures her that she has already made that cry and that her people have heard her. She doesn’t understand what he means. “You will know the truth soon enough,” he answers.

Chapter 4:
Tolwyn and Bellegarde receive news that one of their ships patrolling near Sirius has vanished. Assuming that Aristee must be in that area, they order the Claw there to sweep for gravitic residuum and to use Mr. Blair and his extrakinetic abilities to help find the Olympus’s whereabouts.

Alone in her field office aboard the Concordia, Space Marshal Gregarov talks to an Intelligence officer. She’s delighted that Paladin saved the Olympus, even though she outwardly displays her desire to have him found and executed for treason. There’s still a chance that the Confederation can recover the drive if Paladin hasn’t turned coat. Tolwyn enters with reports of the strain of maintaining the no-fly zones. He threatens to go directly to the senate. Gregarov says that if does that, they’ll be nothing she can do to save his career. She doesn’t want the Pilgrim systems and enclaves destroyed because she fears Aristee’s reaction--which could include blowing up her ship and the drive.

The Claw finally gets some new pilots to replace Second Squadron (lost in the previous book). The new squadron commander, Gary “Gunner” Berkholtz, confronts Blair about his heritage, and it’s clear that the whole squadron hates Pilgrims. Later that night, three pilots surround and brutally pummel Blair. He uses his extrakinetic abilities to defend himself, but they still get the best of him. He’s left unconscious.

Chapter 5:
Maniac finds Blair. Lieutenant Commander Jeanette “Angel” Deveraux confronts Gunner. Tension escalates between the two squadrons. Blair’s the only one who can identify the pilots who beat him, but he won’t. He’s not afraid; he just doesn’t want to make matters worse.

The Tiger Claw arrives in Sirius to investigate the disappearance of the ship. Though badly beaten, Blair manages to sweep the zone from his hospital bed. He reaches out with his mind and experiences the scripts of the original 1200 colonists who were lost in this area nearly 350 years ago. Those ancient travelers experienced the same premonitions and visions he’s been having. There’s no sign of the ship that disappeared.

Back on the Olympus, Paladin is against Aristee dealing with the Kilrathi; they’ve double-crossed her once before. She says that she’s no longer dealing with clan leaders but with the emperor himself. They arrive at the rendezvous and wait. A small, jump-capable ship arrives in the zone, carrying the emperor. Paladin is amazed that the emperor would travel so discretely and leave himself so vulnerable. This could be a sign that they can trust him. The emperor comes aboard, and they reach a deal whereby the Kilrathi will repair the Olympus and convert it into the emperor’s flagship. The emperor will now have the power to wipe out any clan who comes against him. The clans of Kilrah will unite and help to dismantle the Confederation. Those who do not join the alliance will be exterminated. Those who remain will join the emperor in a full-scale assault on Sol system. As the bargaining ends, a Kilrathi superdreadnought (the one commanded by Admiral Vukar) arrives on scene and attacks the Olympus before she can escape.

Chapter 6:
During the Kilrathi attack, William Santyana hijacks a troopship, gets his family inside, then blasts off from the Olympus. He knows that Aristee’s people and the Kilrathi will try to shoot him down, but he’d rather die trying. The ship takes heavy fire from the supercruiser and a few Dralthi fighters, and just when it appears that all is lost, the ship plunges into a gravity well that is NOT Santyana’s doing and escapes.

Aristee watches from the bridge as her supercruiser is disabled by the Kilrathi before she can use the hopper drive to leave the system. The Kilrathi emperor assures her that he didn’t plan this. He did order this admiral to find and recover the ship; it seems the admiral finally caught up with them. Admiral Vukar tells Aristee that if she doesn’t resist, he won’t kill any more of her people. She agrees but reminds Vukar that she does have the emperor. Vukar strikes a bargain with the emperor: the Caxki clan will be given the same rights and privileges as the imperial clan, and Vukar and his crew will be regarded as heroes once they return to Kilrah. The emperor agrees.

Chapter 7:
As preparations are being made to tow the Olympus back to Kilrah, someone sets the Olympus to self-destruct, and there’s no way that Aristee can stop it. She turns to Paladin. Yes, he set off the self-destruct. But he couldn’t have done that alone. The XO, Vyson, comes forward and admits that he helped Paladin and says that they can’t give the hopper drive to the Kilrathi. What’s to stop the cats from wiping out Pilgrims as well? She argues that the cats need Pilgrims to help run the drive and that there are still some Pilgrims with extrakinetic abilities on board who can help thwart any Kilrathi resistance. Paladin says that given the time and desire, the cats will figure out a way around both of those obstacles. A frantic escape from the ship ensues. Aristee tries to recover data on the hopper drive but discovers that it has been erased.

Meanwhile, back on Mars, Karista and a few others escape from the internment camp in a jump-capable ship. They head to McDaniel’s World. Although a no-fly zone has been established around this spiritual hub of Pilgrims, she believes she can use her extrakinetic ability to fool the radar officers long enough to get them on planet. She senses that the answers to her premonitions lie there.

Paladin, Aristee, the protur, and a few others leave the Olympus and make it aboard the emperor’s ship. As they jump out of the area, the supercruiser explodes behind them.

Chapter 8:
Enraged by another defeat, Vukar orders all escaping Pilgrim troopships destroyed, then sets his own superdreadnought to self-destruct. Makorshk, his tactical officer, overrides the self-destruct, and the two engage in a blood duel in which both are mortally wounded. As they lie there, dying, they spot the ghostly form of a sleek ship whose hull undulates like a sheet in the wind. The ship dematerializes, and Vukar and his tactical officer die.

It’s been a few weeks. Admiral Tolwyn and Commodore Bellegarde have had no leads regarding the Olympus’s whereabouts. Ships continue to search. The Kilrathi have been closely monitoring Confederation movements, and Tolwyn remains deeply concerned over tying up so many ships on this search-and-destroy mission and on the no-fly zones. The cats are probing for weakness and will soon attack. During their conversation, word reaches them that three days prior, Pilgrim saboteurs infiltrated the Confederation senate on Earth and killed many. Believing he now has the fuel he needs, Tolwyn heads to Earth to persuade the joint chiefs and what’s left of the senate to allow him to wipe out the Pilgrim enclaves and systems. The public will demand retaliation. This act will represents what they want and will demoralize Aristee. Space Marshal Gregarov tells Tolwyn that going to Earth will be his last act as a Confederation officer.

Chapter 9:
Karista has made it to McDaniel’s World. The Confederation no-fly zone has certainly taken its toll. Although food and supplies have been allowed in, the real changes lie with the people, who have grown exceedingly militant. Many Confederation Marines have been killed, their weapons confiscated. Karista makes her way to the protur’s rectory and speaks with several of the protur’s concubines. She knows them since she was a dancer and chanter in the protur’s private troupe. The concubines take Karista into a catacombs beneath the rectory and show her ancient holoart that depicts Ivar Chu McDaniel’s ship being transported to “the higher plane.” Karista’s unimpressed, though a blue light does catch her attention. The concubines tell her that the art was produced by an eyewitness from whom the legend began. A descendant of this man, Sostur Inanna Pandathy, is still alive and living on McDaniel. Karista should talk to the old woman.

In the mean time, Paladin, Aristee, and the protur have been imprisoned on Kilrah. The emperor intends to learn as much as he can from them so that the Kilrathi can exterminate both the Confederation and the Pilgrims in one fell swoop. The protur warns the emperor that continuing to hold them will result in severe consequences.

Chapter 10:
Blair is contacted by Karista. She’s on McDaniel, trying to figure out what the premonitions and visions mean. She thinks she’s getting close. Blair has nearly recovered from his beating and will begin flying out to maintain the no-fly zone over Promise. With each message he receives from Karista, his relationship with Angel grows more strained.

Although Paladin has been a Kilrathi prisoner of war before, he doesn’t respond well to the torture. The cats have perfected the psychological end of pain and force him to relive experiences with his father, whom he has never forgiven for turning to the Pilgrims instead of the Confederation. His mother stayed on Ares station while his father went off to fight and die for the Pilgrims. For Paladin, this is one Pilgrim truth that has plagued him for his entire life. The Kilrathi set up a scenario in which Paladin is forced to kill his own father, and they’ll make it stop if he’ll answer questions regarding Confederation secrets. Paladin refuses, and the psychological torture continues. As he nears collapse, a voice in his head says, “Be brave, Brotur. You won’t suffer long...”

Chapter 11:
On McDaniel’s world, Karista travels to speak with Sostur Inanna Pandathy. Before she can reach the woman, Karista is apprehended by Confederation Marines who are on McDaniel’s world “to keep the peace.” Karista is identified as the woman who stole a ship on Mars and slipped by the Confed no-fly zone over McDaniel.

Tolwyn and Bellegarde arrive on Earth, and Tolwyn delivers a passionate plea to the senate. He’s confronted by senators who call for his resignation, but he’s also embraced by others who believe that one massive act will put an end to this conflict (think of Nagasaki and Hiroshima).

Chapter 12:
Scene begins with Aristee on McDaniel’s World, being called “Motur Aristee,” as though she’s a high-ranking priestess among Pilgrims. She’s in a throne room of sorts and viewing holos of Confederation worlds that have been devastated by her people. The protur enters, and through the conversation we learn that Aristee has been used by him. He yanks off his Pilgrim cross, extends the cross’s blade, and punches it into her heart. She shrieks and finds herself in a Kilrathi torture room (now we’re back on Kilrah in real time--or so we think). Aristee is now staring at her parents. They chose the Confederation side during the old Pilgrim War, and like Paladin, she has never forgiven them for their choice. She is forced to watch as they are killed for their treason against the Pilgrim Alliance. It’s a moment that she never witnessed but one drawn from her imagination by the Kilrathi. As she slumps in torment, the same voice that Paladin heard asks her, “Sostur. What is your truth? And why should you know it?”

With some outside help, Karista manages to escape from the Marines and make it to Sostur Inanna’s house. The woman speaks enigmatically and confirms the visions and premonitions that Karista’s been having: They are ecstatic visions and mean she is in direct communication with “the Divine”--just like Ivar Chu McDaniel had been. But Karista has the feeling that these visions mean something more, and Inanna says that there is legend that no one talks about. In it, the original Pilgrims return in great numbers to deliver their people from exile. However, believing in the “return myth” is to contradict the fact that Ivar Chu and his people ascended to the higher plane, a plane from which no one would want to return, so most Pilgrims dismiss the legend. Karista wants to know why the Pilgrims didn’t return during the old war, but Inanna doesn’t know why. She does know that the Pilgrims are coming now. How? She takes Karista into her backyard and show her the beautiful blue tree with multi-colored leaves (the one we saw earlier in chapter two) stands there. Inanna says that the tree has been in her family since Pilgrims first settled on McDaniel. It has never bore leaves until now. She plucks a leaf and hands it to Karista. “This is your proof.” Karista balks at the notion, but the leaf does have a strangely familiar scent. Inanna tells her to have someone analyze the leaf.

Chapter 13:
Tolwyn learns that the senate has voted against his request to destroy the Pilgrim systems and enclaves. Not only that, Space Marshal Gregarov has begun an investigation into his actions of the past few months. She’s looking to indict him on charges of misconduct and failure to operate within the chain of command. Gregarov doesn’t care if Tolwyn goes to the joint chiefs regarding her cover-up of the hopper drive. She’s already established an air-tight alibi. In the meantime, Tolwyn learns of a massive build-up of Kilrathi forces along the Confed-Kilrathi border. The cats are mobilizing to attack, as he suspected. He orders ships to break off from their search of the Olympus and head for the Kilrathi border in Vega sector.

Paladin and Aristee are in their cells while the protur is off being tortured by the Kilrathi. The protur returns with a cocky expression on his face, and if Paladin didn’t know better, he’d swear that the Kilrathi look scared. The emperor arrives and says that they’re being released. Paladin is stunned. He asks why. The emperor exchanges a look with the protur, then leaves. “What did you tell them?” Paladin asks. The protur smiles. “The truth.”

Chapter 14:
Blair is once more contacted by Karista. She needs help getting off McDaniel’s World. She says she has proof that the Pilgrims are coming. She’s worried that the Confederation has acted too brutally against her people and that Pilgrims will make them pay. The Confederation has no idea of the power of these people. She needs to get her proof to someone who can get Confederation forces to stand down.

Paladin and the others board a Kilrathi ship and will be taken to the Confederation border. Paladin is still amazed that the Kilrathi are letting them go and notices how the cats are preparing for a massive engagement.

Blair goes to Angel and says that they he needs a few pilots to jump with him to McDaniel’s World. They have to escort Karista back to the Tiger Claw. She has information that Captain Gerald and Admiral Tolwyn need to have. With only Blair’s word as proof, Angel must deny the request.

Chapter 15:
On McDaniel’s World, Karista has made it back to her ship. She contacts Blair. Is he coming to help? Blair says that his request was denied. She says she’ll try without him.

Guilt-stricken, Blair tells Maniac that he’s going AWOL to help Karista. Maniac doesn’t have to think twice about breaking the rules and helping his wingman--both come easily, but...

...their conversation is overheard by a pilot from the new squadron who has been keeping tabs on Blair. He goes back to Gunner, the squadron commander, and says that Blair and Maniac intend to go AWOL. This is just the break that Gunner has been looking for to lose one Pilgrim half-breed.

Chapter 16:
While still on Earth, Tolwyn and Bellegarde learn that the President of the Confederation has been assassinated by Pilgrims. An emergency meeting of the senate convenes. Tolwyn asks for another vote, and this time it’s unanimous: destroy all Pilgrim systems and enclaves. Space Marshal Gregarov says she’s ready to present her findings on Tolwyn to the joint chiefs. Bellegarde counters with info he’s dug up on the space marshal. Her air-tight alibi isn’t so tight after all.

A Confederation ConCom ship encounters wreckage of the Olympus in interstellar space. The ship’s captain realizes that this information must get to Admiral Tolwyn as soon as possible since it might affect his decision to launch the attack.

Blair and Maniac head out for “a routine security patrol.” As they break away to go AWOL and jump to McDaniel, pilots from the new squadron intercept. After a fierce dogfight, Blair and Maniac manage to escape and jump, though Blair’s Rapier is severely damaged.

Chapter 17:
Blair and Maniac meet up with Karista’s ship and help her get to the jump point. Blair’s forced to abandon his Rapier and go aboard Karista’s ship. They jump back to the Promise system, where they are surrounded by Rapiers from the Tiger Claw. Angel contacts them: “Lieutenants Blair and Marshall? You’re under arrest.”

Cuffed and in the company of two Marines, Blair, Maniac, and Karista try to tell Captain Gerald about the coming Pilgrims. He doesn’t buy any of it. Karista tells him to analyze the leaf. He does. Recorded within the leaf’s cells are holographic images of millions of ships (like the one Vukar and Makorshk saw before they died). Gerald recognizes the system around them as Sirius, but he still doesn’t believe what he’s seeing; it could’ve been manufactured. Karista tells him that Sirius is just one entry point of the Pilgrims. Pull up long range telemetry. Gerald does, and what he sees renders him cold and speechless. Hundreds of thousands of ships are headed his way. They have to contact Tolwyn.

Chapter 18:
The order to destroy all Pilgrim systems and enclaves is relayed directly or via communication drones to the ships presently maintaining no-fly zones. Various captains grimly accept the orders and prepare to launch planetary missiles or troopships with Marines. Even as Gerald sends off a message to Tolwyn, he receives his orders to attack the planet below.

Paladin, Aristee, and the protur have reached the Confederation border and are sent off in a small launch that should take them to the nearest supply lane. They’re overwhelmed as they spot thousands of the sleek ships. “...and they will return in the night for their children,” the protur says reverently, quoting from Pilgrim scripture.

Chapter 19:
Klaxons blare on the Tiger Claw as the battle begins. Despite going AWOL, Gerald allows Blair and Maniac to fly, much to the dismay of the new squadron. Pilgrim fighters are everywhere, but they won’t fire unless fired upon. Blair reaches out and touches the script of the Pilgrim pilot in his sights. He’s amazed by the clarity and order of the woman’s thoughts--and she’s only in his sights because she wants to be there. The Pilgrim fighters carry superior weapons and are far more maneuverable than the Confederation’s.

Fighters and great Pilgrim warships are appearing all over the Confederation. Captains over the no-fly zones are so tied up with the appearance of this new threat that only a few launch their missiles. Even so, those missiles are summarily obliterated. We go to the Promise system, where that old man and grandson we read about in the prologue are looking up at the night sky, at thousands of tiny lights. “What are they, grandpa?” The old man shakes his head in astonishment, sensing the truth. “I told you that someday you would meet your broturs and sosturs. Well... the day has come...”

Paladin, Aristee, and the protur are picked up by a Pilgrim flagship. Aristee can’t believe what’s happening, and she’s overjoyed. On the other hand, Paladin is shocked. “You see, James? You chose the right side after all,” Aristee tells him.

Chapter 20:
Tolwyn and Bellegarde are conducting operations of the fourteenth fleet while receiving reports from the other fleets and other sectors. The Confederation is losing this battle on all fronts--

And the same goes for the Kilrathi. The emperor prepares for ritual suicide. One of the older admirals (a Kilrathi we saw in the previous book), drives his supercruiser directly toward a Pilgrim warship but instead finds himself plunging into a gravity well.

Chapter 21:
Back in the Promise system, Blair is shot down by pilots from the new squadron. His Rapier plummets into the planet’s atmosphere. He ejects, but his pod will still burn up.

On Kilrah, the emperor makes a formal announcement that the Kilrathi empire will surrender to the attacking Pilgrims. For many clan leaders, the shame and dishonor is too much to bear. Some commit ritual suicide.

Chapter 22:
Flames surround Blair’s pod. Life support failing. And then... darkness. Bright lights. And his pod is sitting on a strange flight deck. He’s been taken aboard a Pilgrim ship. Rescued. Why? The pod opens, and Paladin is staring down at him. Tense moment as Blair doesn’t want any help from his fallen mentor. “You should’ve let me die,” Blair says. “It would’ve been easier than watching you now.” Paladin says he’s not a traitor, and he knows Blair won’t believe that. Not yet. They go up to the bridge of this Pilgrim flagship, where Blair is introduced to a well-groomed man of forty: Ivar Chu McDaniel V. Blair is astounded by the large number of ships, the advanced technology, and the fact that McDaniel is only the fifth Ivar Chu in nearly 350 years. Where did the original 1200 Pilgrims go and how did they manage to advance so far? McDaniel just smiles and says, “We had help.”

Meanwhile, the acting President of the Confederation makes a stunning announcement: The Confederation will unconditionally surrender to the Pilgrims, whose ships are seemingly everywhere. Tolwyn and Bellegarde are furious and would rather die fighting. Then they watch as the president receives a communication from Ivar Chu. He’s coming down to Earth to address the senate.

Chapter 23:
Back on the Pilgrim flagship, Blair watches as Ivar Chu says that they’ve come for all Pilgrims who are willing. The original Pilgrims were religious separatists--and that hasn’t changed. They live now in a place so far away that it will take humanity a hundred billion millennia before they reach it. They have no intentions of ruling the Confederation or the Kilrathi empire. They just want to pick up all Pilgrims who are willing and leave. As proof, Ivar Chu returns the ship that disappeared in the Sirius system, stating that it fired upon them and they didn’t want to engage it. He has returned ships to the Kilrathi as well. He doesn’t care if the cats and Confederation kill each other. “Contrary to the belief of the Pilgrims who live here, these stars are not ours, they’re yours. Destroy them if you want. We’ve found our own.” A senator springs to his feet. “Why didn’t you come for your people during the first Pilgrim war? Don’t you realize how many died?” Ivar Chu slowly nods. “Our people started that war alone. And they had to finish it alone. It was a grave error, an act of hubris, and they paid dearly for it. But now they shouldn’t pay for one rebel’s ambition. It’s time for them to come home.”

Paladin and Blair discuss whether or not they’ll go; both are torn and both face consequences if they stay. Ivar Chu returns from Earth and has the protur and Aristee arrested. “He’s no protur, and she... she needs time to find truth in her life,” says Ivar Chu. Later on, Paladin and Blair run into William Santyana and his family, who were saved by the Pilgrims and have decided to go with the them--something Blair finds ironic since Santyana’s spent most of his recent days plotting escapes. Santyana says that his Confederation experience got him into this war in the first place; getting far away from the Confederation is exactly what he needs. They’re excited and nervous about a new life.

Back on the Tiger Claw, Karista wants Blair to go with him. He seriously considers going. Does he really belong here? He remembers the beating and the abuse he’s taken all of his life about being Pilgrim. But he realizes that despite that, he’s made a place for himself here. She leaves with a promise to contact him, to tell him all about the Pilgrims, about a life he could still have.

Blair returns to his quarters, where Angel is waiting for him. Through the porthole behind her, he sees hundreds of Pilgrims ships streaking into a deep blue haze.

“Blueness doth express trueness.”
Ben Jonson (1573–1637), English dramatist, poet. Amorphus, in Cynthia’s Revels, act 5, sc. 2.

“Truth is always congruous and agrees with itself; every truth in the universe agrees with all others.”
Daniel Webster (1782-1852)