Wing Commander Junior Novelization Chapter 12

The Terran Knowledge Bank
Jump to: navigation, search
Chapter 12
Book Wing Commander Junior Novelization
Parts 4
Previous Chapter 11
Next Chapter 13
Pages 55-61
Source Wing Commander Chapter 12

Dramatis Personae

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Jay Sansky

Christopher Blair

Todd "Maniac" Marshall

Christopher Blair


Corey Obutu

Jeanette "Angel" Deveraux
Paul Gerald
Jay Sansky
James "Paladin" Taggart

Rosalind "Sassy" Forbes
Ian "Hunter" St. John

CS Tiger Claw NAVCOM
Jeanette "Angel" Deveraux
Paul Gerald Jay Sansky
Devi Soulsong


Unidentified Helmsman


Geoffrey Tolwyn
William Wilson


MARCH 16, 2654
1415 HOURS

Part One

Captain Jay Sansky sat at his desk in the welcome peace of his quarters. The antique clock hanging on the bulkhead above him ticked nearly in synch with the drums and violins of a classical song coming from his minidisc player. He had come here to meditate before the jump, to gather some thoughts while pushing others away.

     In truth, he had come to bury the past.

     He turned once more to the holopic, a framed, three dimensional picture sitting on his desk. He smiled at the group of young men and women posed in crisp Naval Academy uniforms, their eyes full of hope, their expressions hard and filled with courage. Sansky had been with them that day, a young officer with a thin face and a full head of hair. Beside him stood Bill Wilson, former commander of Pegasus Station, now assumed dead. Bill wore his twisted grin proudly, and he had never betrayed his rebel's heart.

     Lieutenant Commander Obutu's voice boomed over the intercom.

     "Captain Sansky? You're needed in the chart room."

     "On my way."

     Sansky stared a moment more at the holopic, at the two young men with their whole lives ahead of them, two young men unaware of the fire that lay in their hearts. He replaced the holopic, opened a drawer, and lifted his hip flask. With an unsteady hand, he brought the flask to his lips and took several swigs before returning the whiskey. He started for the hatch, then hurried back to the desk, where he scooped up Tolwyn's ring.

     Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn had an unspoken agreement with the universe that allowed him to take tremendous risks. Perhaps carrying a piece of the admiral would allow Sansky to do the same.

Part Two

As Blair stepped into the carrier's chart room, a huge holographic display swept up his attention. Stretching from deck to overhead, the semitransparent images drew long shadows across the walls and over the navigation subterminal where Taggart sat, keying in numbers and gazing at his screen.

     A red blip designated by tiny letters as the Tiger Claw lay at the holograph's center. The blip flashed as it moved toward a constantly moving set of circles: a mathematical picture of the Class 2 pulsar. The databar beside the pulsar showed thousands of scrolling coordinates in space-time, coordinates being fed into the carrier's NAVCOM AI by Taggart.

     "They told me you were here, sir," Blair said.

     "Look at it, Lieutenant," Taggart suggested, still intent on his screen. "What do you see?"

     Blair shrugged; wasn't it obvious? "That's a Class Two pulsar."


     "Well, unlike a black hole, which is just one doorway, or a quasar, which has the potential of containing thousands of doorways, this pulsar has an infinite number of constantly changing doorways."

     "Great. You remember your academy lessons. Now just look at it and read the map."

     "I don't know what to say. Those doorways, they, uh, each one is capable of taking us to another part of the galaxy. The problem is, most of them are dead ends."

     "With an emphasis on dead." Taggart swung around and cocked a brow.

     The grid surrounding the Tiger Claw began to deform as a long spike pierced it, then gradually pulled itself inside out to form a tube with a thick, wide hole at its neck. Blair watched, fascinated, as the carrier stopped before the gap.

     The chart room's hatch hissed open. Gerald and Lieutenant Commander Deveraux passed into the holograph's eerie glow. Blair craned his head, wanting to vanish into the shadows. Then he cringed as he heard Deveraux's voice. "Why aren't you at your station, Lieutenant?"

     Blair faced them, their eyes like two pairs of muzzles, locked on target. "Ma'am, I--"

     "I asked Lieutenant Blair to be here," Taggart cut in.

     The hatch opened again.

     "Why?" Gerald asked.

     "I authorized it," Captain Sansky said, entering the room and double-timing toward Taggart. "Status?"

     "Coordinates are laid in," Taggart said. "One keystroke to finish the upload." He went to holograph and let his finger follow a course across the wide gap in the quadrant. "The Ulysses Corridor. Four days hard travel using three known jump points. By using the pulsar, we'll be there in'--he glanced to a digital clock above his station--"less than three minutes."

     "If your calculations are correct," Gerald said, grinding out the words.

     Back at his console, Taggart touched the final key, finishing the upload. "They're right."

     Gerald steered himself toward Taggart. "NAVCOM and the finest minds in the Confederation couldn't plot this jump. What makes you so sure you're right?"

     A flicker of a grin wiped across Taggart's lips. "Because they're Pilgrim coordinates, Mr. Gerald."

     "What?" Gerald's gaze swept back to the databar.

     Taggart crossed into the big commander's line of sight. "We'll have a lovely view from the bridge."

Part Three

"Maniac" Marshall jockeyed for a look through one of the huge portholes outside the pilots' mess. The once black and distant mass of the pulsar now took over the view, its edges streaked by dying stars. The pulsar reminded Maniac of Scylla, though it flashed brilliantly every three seconds. The other pilots took no pleasure in the carrier's present position. Maniac would educate them. He drew back from the porthole and addressed his audience.

     "Do you know what you people are staring at? Do you have any idea?"

     With a sigh, Hunter replied, "A Class Two pulsar, mate. I've seen a lot of 'em."

     "No." He cocked his thumb toward the porthole. "That, ladies and gentlemen, is the ultimate rush."

     Sure, the others looked at him as though he were crazy. He could live with that.

     As long as he had Forbes smiling.

     Which he did.

Part Four

Blair took up a position near the back of the bridge, beside Deveraux. She noticed him and edged away. He gave a slight snort and held his ground.

     A triangle of consoles divided the forward bridge, with the helmsman seated at the triangle's top and gripping his wheel. Sansky and Gerald manned observation consoles at the bottom angles. Taggart stood at the helmsman's shoulder, having carefully chosen his position.

     Sansky touched a key on the shipwide intercom panel. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain. I'll put an end to the rumors by informing you that in sixty seconds we're going to jump the Class Two pulsar directly ahead. We've been ordered to the Ulysses Corridor, and we need to get there quickly." Sansky went on to give a capsule summary of the events surrounding the destruction of the Pegasus Station. When he finished, he looked over his shoulder at everyone on the bridge, and Blair found his own fear mirrored in the captain's face. "May God be with us all." Then Sansky favored the helmsman with a nod. "Take us in."

     The carrier lurched a moment, then started for the pulsar. Anything that wasn't battened down--and even a few things that were--began to tremble with a sound that reminded Blair of the earthquakes on Nephele. He found a nearby railing and gripped it for support. Deveraux folded her arms over her chest, refusing to join him.

     As they glided closer to the pulsar, it better resembled Scylla, but this Scylla, maybe a distant cousin, had only one head and the twinkling eye of a Cyclops. She gobbled up stars, planets, planetoids, and smaller debris. In her work Blair sensed a perfect balance, a simplicity that tingled at the base of his spine. He felt her magnetic fields.

     And in his mind's eye, he saw an avenue through space-time itself, a shiny black funnel of infinite mass that he sensed promised infinite awareness.

     "Attention! Attention! Course error. Adjust course immediately," came the NAVCOM's automated voice. An alarm squawked.

     "Ignore that," Taggart said. "Helm. Hold steady as she goes."

     "Captain," the NAVCOM called out. "The ship is headed into the Point of No Return zone of an uncharted Class Two pulsar. One minute before gravitational pull is one hundred percent."

     Sansky spun toward the helm. "What about it, Taggart?"

     "The readings are wrong. Your AI's sensors are not calibrated to the pulsar. They've already been warped by the gravitational field."

     "I must insist that we change course immediately," the NAVCOM argued. "Initiating AI override."

     "No!" Taggart screamed.

     The Tiger Claw suddenly bucked,and Deveraux came crashing forward into the railing, near Blair. She found her grip as the ship began pulling to port, throwing them parallel to the rail.

     Taggart, who now held fast to the helmsman's console, shouldered his way to a touchpad. "Manual override! Now! Disregard your artificial intelligence--or we're all dead."

     "Captain," Gerald said through clenched teeth. "I believe you should reconsider."

     Sansky cocked a brow. "I already have. Steady as she goes, helm."

     Like a cosmic predator with claws of gravitational force, the pulsar reached out and grabbed the carrier. Fighting to stabilize the ship's pitch and yaw, the helmsman ground his teeth as the carrier's bulkheads shook and her ceiling threatened to cave in.

     "This is the captain," Sansky said over the intercom. "Brace for jump point interphase. Fifteen seconds to jump point."

     But Blair scarcely heard the captain, scarcely saw the bridge or felt the rail. His senses began shutting down as they had when nearing Scylla.

     And the feeling, the awe-inspiring feeling, lived in him. He saw the entire Ulysses Corridor as effortlessly as he saw his own hand. He saw Nephele, the Sol system, whatever he wanted to see, because distances no longer held meaning. Time no longer held meaning. He thought of his mother. And there, before him, she gave a mild frown, her hair and complexion as smooth and dark as he remembered. "You shouldn't do this to yourself, Christopher. You weren't meant to see me. This is not your continuum."

     "It is mine. I chose it."

     "You don't have the right to choose. Only one does."

     "What do you mean? There aren't any rules. I feel this. I can do what I feel."

     "Then you'll fall. Like the others."

     "You're not my mother, are you?"

     "I'm everything your mother was, is, and will be. I'm in every part of the universe at once, as you are now, as you shouldn't be."


     "I wish you could understand. I wish that more than anything. But I've seen your path. And there's nothing I can do to change it." Her features grew younger, more narrow, until Blair stared at Lieutenant Commander Deveraux, who said, "Didn't you hear him, Lieutenant? Fifteen seconds to jump. Better hang on."

     He reached with trembling hands for the rail and blinked as a burst of light shot from the pulsar.

     Then he found Taggart staring at him. Blair could only imagine how strange he looked. He had not just seen a ghost.

     He had seen the universe itself.

     And the experience had left him frightened of who he was and might become.

     No warning had stunned him more.