Wing Commander Junior Novelization Chapter 2

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Chapter 2
Book Wing Commander Junior Novelization
Parts 4
Previous Chapter 1
Next Chapter 3
Pages 15-23
Source Wing Commander Chapter 2

Dramatis Personae

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

Christopher Blair

Christopher Blair

Geoffrey Tolwyn

Christopher Blair


Todd "Maniac" Marshall

Todd "Maniac" Marshall
James "Paladin" Taggart
Geoffrey Tolwyn

Richard Bellegarde

Todd "Maniac" Marshall
James "Paladin" Taggart


James "Paladin" Taggart
Unnamed Flight Instructor

Arnold Blair
Jay Sansky

Arnold Blair


MARCH 15, 2654
2130 HOURS

Part One

First Lieutenant Christopher Blair lay sprawled out and bare-chested on his rickety bunk in one of the Diligent's tiny cabins. Trying to ignore the uncomfortable surroundings, Blair read his hard copy of Claw Marks, the onboard magazine of the TCS Tiger Claw, a gift from one of his flight instructors. He absently touched the four-inch-long silver cross hanging around his neck. From a distance, the object appeared like a cross set against a rising sun.

     Out of the corner of his eye, Blair saw a bright flash appear on the shelf above his head. Merlin had decided to show himself. The small, holographic old man was created by Blair's Portable Personal Computer. The computer was a tiny device in Blair's wrist, and Blair could use the computer by speaking with Merlin. The little man tossed his waist-length ponytail over his shoulder, then smoothed out his black tunic and breeches, as though he had been somewhere to wrinkle them. "I know there's a war going on--but a requisitioned merchantman? What are we on, a garbage run? Delivering groceries?" Merlin's clean-shaven face tightened like a piece of stretched leather.

     Blair ignored him, having learned since age five that Merlin's complaining would soon stop if he didn't have an audience.

     "The Diligent?" Merlin continued. "Please--the Dilapidated is more like it. The Deluded. The Dilatory."

     Frowning, Blair glanced at the upset little man. "Dilatory?"

     Merlin snorted. "Of course. Inclined to delay, tardy, slow." He smirked. "I'm not keeping you up, am I?"

     "Where did you pick up that sarcasm? My father didn't put that in your program. And I know I didn't."

     "I downloaded it from the mainframe at the academy while you were in--" Merlin looked up.

     "What is it?"

     "Lieutenant Marshall is approaching the hatch."

     Slapping the magazine over his chest to conceal his cross, Blair flinched a little as the hatch cycle opened and Todd Marshall stepped into the cabin, his regulation blue uniform hanging loosely from his skinny frame, his short blond hair brushing along a sweaty pipe. He raked fingers through his hair, looked angrily at the conduit, and muttered, "What a bucket."

Then that slightly crazed gleam returned to his eyes, and his oversized Adam's apple worked overtime. "Up and at 'em. Captain wants you on the bridge. Top priority."

     "Really? For what?"

     Marshall shrugged, moving around the bunk to stare at Merlin. "He didn't sound thrilled. Come on. We'd better get upstairs." Marshall started for the door.

     "I'll meet you," Blair said, reluctant to rise and reveal his cross.

     Marshall began to mouth something, then simply shrugged and left.

     Blair sat up and took in a long breath. A chill ran up his spine as he whispered the words, "Top priority." He reached for his shirt and hurried from the bunk.

Part Two

As Blair entered the Diligent's bridge, he got the feeling that he was inside the stomach of a robot who really liked spicy food. Tubes and wires were everywhere. He found Marshall seated to starboard in the co-pilot's chair, studying a navigation screen mounted on a swivel arm. He saw the captain stepping out from the galley next to the bridge, blowing on a steaming mug of coffee.

     Captain James Taggart hadn't said much during the voyage. His silence, Blair figured, came from the embarrassment of commanding a tape-and-coat-hanger transport like the Diligent. Funny, though. Taggart didn't look the part of gypsy cabby contracted by the military. Dark, neatly groomed hair. A face that barely showed his middle years. And there seemed something rugged, something handsome, something pirate-like about the guy that made you just know he had seen a lot more in the universe than would ever escape his lips. Marshall could take a few lessons from the man.

     Blair found the captain's gaze. "Sir?"

     But the man's stare lowered to Blair's chest, and a strange look came over his face.

     A quick glance down revealed that Blair's cross had slipped out from behind his V-neck shirt. He quickly tucked it behind the fabric and stiffened nervously to attention, waiting for a severe interrogation.

     "I don't know who you know, Lieutenant, but you just received a Confed One Secure Communication." Taggart gestured with his coffee mug toward the bridge's center console.

     Blair sighed with relief over the captain's decision to ignore the cross, then went to the console, slid over to the comm screen, and keyed an activation code on the touchpad.

     The screen filled with the God-like face of a man for whom the phrase "living legend" fit very well. "Admiral Tolwyn."

     "At ease, Lieutenant."

     "Yes, sir."

     "I need a favor," Tolwyn said matter-of-factly, his gray eyes flashing.

     Blair swallowed. "Anything, sir."

     "You're currently outbound for Vega sector and the Tiger Claw. I need you to hand-deliver an encrypted communications disc to Captain Sansky. Message is incoming."

     As he waited for the download to complete, Blair grew more confused. The comm recorder beeped. He removed the minidisc and held it up. "Begging the Admiral's pardon, sir, but why not send it on a drone to Pegasus? It would be quicker--"

     Slowly, Tolwyn shook his head, driving Blair into sudden silence. "The Pegasus is gone, destroyed by a Kilrathi battle group twelve and a half hours ago."

     Blair's mouth fell open.

     "See that Captain Sansky gets that disc," Tolwyn added.

     "With all due respect, sir, why me?"

     Tolwyn's lips curled in a smile. "Right now you're all I've got." His gaze dropped a moment as he seemed to consider something. "I fought with your father in the Pilgrim Wars. He was a good man--you look like him."

     "People say I have my mother's looks, sir."

     At the mention of Blair's mother, the admiral's eyes narrowed, as though he remembered something. "Yes, it must've been hard. They were both good people. Godspeed. Tolwyn out."

Part Three

On the Concordia's bridge, Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn read the obvious look of displeasure on Commodore Bellegarde's boyish face. The commodore rarely wore that look, and Tolwyn found it impossible to ignore. He cocked a brow. "You don't approve, Richard?"

     "Of using Blair's kid? No, sir. I do not."


     Bellegarde stepped forward. "I think we both know why."

Part Four

The Diligent's navigation screens woke from their powerless sleep to create 3-D grids as Captain James Taggart began tapping in coordinates. Blair stood behind him, watching: "This milk run just got a little more interesting," the captain said. "Set a course for Beacon One-four-seven, one-quarter impulse."

     Marshall nodded and worked his touchpad. "Course for One-four-seven. One-quarter impulse." He frowned at a flashing red warning that appeared at the top of his screen. "One-four-seven is off-limits, sir. There's a one-hundred-thousand-kilometer no-fly zone around it."

     Taggart puffed air. "I said Beacon One-four-seven. It's a shortcut. Lose the sir."

     With an exaggerated shrug, Marshall regarded his screen, banged in the course, then booted the engage pedal.

     As Taggart fell back into his chair and yawned, Blair noticed a small, dark tattoo on the man's neck. Blair recognized the writing: a set of four vertical lines that made up the Kilrathi language. Taggart caught him staring, and Blair looked away.

     The Diligent streaked by the planet Pluto, on its way toward Beacon 147 near the edge of the solar system.

     Taggart got abruptly to his feet. "I'll be in my quarters. Call me when we come within a hundred klicks of the beacon."

     "You got it," Marshall said. He waited for the captain to leave, then whispered to Blair, "I don't trust this guy."