Wing Commander Junior Novelization Chapter 13

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Chapter 13
Book Wing Commander Junior Novelization
Parts 1
Previous Chapter 12
Next Chapter 14
Pages 62-65
Source Wing Commander Chapter 13, Part Six

Dramatis Personae

Part 1

Christopher Blair


Jeanette "Angel" Deveraux
Paul Gerald
Corey Obutu
Jay Sansky
Devi Soulsong
James "Paladin" Taggart
Unnamed Helmsman
Unnamed Rader Officer


MARCH 16, 2654
1430 HOURS

Blair clung to the bridge's railing. The vibrations increased, and he nearly slipped to the floor. Deveraux, too, struggled to keep standing, her poker face failing as the pulsar tightened its grip.

     Taggart kept his cool and held tight to the helmsman's chair, alternating his gaze between screens and viewports. "Steady now. Steady ..."

     Apparently bored with simply tugging on the carrier, the pulsar decided to jerk the Tiger Claw in as though she were a sailfish on a line. The force sent Deveraux crashing into Blair. They fell away from the railing and rose to grab the bulkhead.

     "What was that?" Deveraux asked.

     "The ship's trying to tear itself free of the space-time fabric," Blair said, his stomach acting out a similar battle.

     Growing in pitch, the vibrations continued until Blair's ears filled with a single, deafening hum. The pulsar flashed again, momentarily blinding him. As his vision cleared, he looked down to see Deveraux's hand reaching toward his shoulder--

     And at that moment, the Tiger Claw plunged into the pulsar, into the gap in the space-time continuum calculated by Taggart.

     The hum, the vibrations, and the taste of bile at the back of Blair's throat all fell off into nothingness. He should feel more comfortable in the moment, knowing what to expect. But the feeling had returned, and it sang a bewitching song, trying to lure him out to explore the universe.

     Then you'll fall. Like the others.

     Such power. And only a thought away. How could he control it? How could anyone control it? The only thing that kept him in place was the fear caused by his mother. Even with a perfect sense of direction and the power to experience the universe in a single breath, he would still struggle to find happiness, love, friendship, hope, wisdom, all of the things that defined being human.

     Or he could choose to abandon them.

     Christopher Blair stood at a cosmic crossroads, and he refused to make a decision, refused to surrender to the powerful feeling. If he did that, he felt it would forever control him.

     He searched his thoughts for a way to live with the feeling, but a powerful shudder pulled him away. His senses returned with an electrifying vengeance. He gagged as the harsh roar of the carrier's passage echoed through the bridge. Sansky, Gerald, Taggart, and the helmsman, once statues, now fought to maintain balance.

     Deveraux's hand finally settled on Blair's shoulder, and as he turned to look at her, the deck buckled and tossed her into him. They fell back toward the bulkhead, and Deveraux's forehead struck the durasteel with a thud that made Blair flinch. She dropped to her knees, and he grabbed her shoulders, shifting her back. He tilted her chin up to observe a bleeding cut on her forehead. "Are you all right?"

     Her eyes seemed vague, her head swaying. "We make it?"

     A glance to the bank of forward viewports gave Blair his reply. The pulsar had slid back into her gloomy cavern of gravity that lay four days and three jump points away. In the distance appeared a massive planet, a gas giant banded in yellow and orange. Several large spots blemished its surface, and tiny points of light hovered about it, moons gliding peacefully in their orbits. Beyond the Jovian-like system lay the darkness of space. "We're through the jump point."

     Even as Blair finished telling her, the carrier's alarms clicked off, and the rumbling deck and bulkheads grew still.

     Taggart considered the helmsman's screen, then glanced through the viewport. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Ulysses Corridor."

     Lieutenant Commander Obutu craned his head toward Captain Sansky, one hand on his headset. "Launching Rapiers. Now."

     After a few seconds, two fighters shot by the viewport, their afterburners aglow. Blair followed their path until they climbed out of view.

     "Shields up," Sansky ordered, getting to his feet. "Mr. Obutu, stealth mode, please."

Obutu threw a toggle. Every console grew dim, and standard lighting darkened to red. "Going to stealth. Seven percent electronic emissions, zero communications."

     Arriving at the radar station, Sansky leaned over the beanpole of a boy seated there. "Status?"

     "Scanners picking up strong electromagnetic signature at one-eleven mark four-three. An asteroid field. I'd say she's a Kilrathi, sir."

     Sansky nodded, then brought himself to full height to consult with an angry-looking Gerald.

     Meanwhile, Blair struggled to his feet. "Don't move," he told Deveraux. "I'll be right back." He hustled to the rear of the bridge and unclipped a first aid kit from the wall. He returned with the kit and removeda laser pen from its holder. "Don't move," he said, then lifted the pen to her forehead.

     "You already said that."

     "This time I really mean it." He thumbed on the power and began sealing the cut. "You're a good patient," he said softly, then his aim shifted.


     "Sorry." He finished the seal, lowered the pen, and edged closer to her, studying his work.

     "It's all right," she assured him, drawing back. She lifted her brow, breaking the seal.

     He quickly shook his head and brought the laser pen toward her. "It's still bleeding. If I--"

     "It's all right," she insisted, then grabbed his wrist, forcing the pen away.

     "Yes, ma'am." He stood and proffered his hand.

     She dismissed the offer. Using the bulkhead for support, she clambered to her feet.

     Blair opened his mouth, wanting to tell her he was sorry, that all he had wanted to do was help. He also wanted to say that her perfume made him lightheaded, that her skin seemed like the smooth surface of some ripe, exotic fruit, and that he would like to explore the secrets in her hair. He wanted to tell her most of that, well, some of that, but Captain Sansky suddenly came between them. "That head all right?" he asked Deveraux.

     "Little scratch. I'm fine."

     "Good. Security patrol's been launched, but I'm keeping them in tight. I want you to prepare a recon. I want to know what's out there."

     "Yes, sir." She started for the corridor.

     "And Deveraux," Sansky called after her. "No contact with the enemy. Not yet."

     She looked over her shoulder and nodded, then faced Blair. "Let's go, Lieutenant."

     As they left the bridge, Captain Sansky spoke on the intercom: "As most of you have guessed, we just made one heck of a jump. It is now oh-three-hundred hours, March seventeeth, and we've taken a shortcut into the Ulysses Corridor, where, as I told you, the Pegasus Station was attacked and destroyed. The main Kilrathi battle group is in the quadrant and headed for the Charybdis Quasar. In just over ten hours it'll be in position to jump into Earth space. Our mission is to find the Kilrathi, assess their capacities and plan of action, and if necessary, stop them. We're the only Confed ship in the area, people. We'll have no help and no rescue. We can only count on each other. That is all."