Wing Commander Junior Novelization Chapter 23

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Chapter 23
Book Wing Commander Junior Novelization
Parts 3
Previous Chapter 22
Next Chapter 24
Pages 109-112
Source Wing Commander Chapter 23, Part One, Part Two and Part Four

Dramatis Personae

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Thiraka nar Kiranka

Christopher Blair

Jeanette "Angel" Deveraux


Bokoth nar Kiranka
Willam Wilson

Jeanette "Angel" Deveraux

Paul Gerald
James "Paladin" Taggart


Unnamed Techs (3)


The Emperor

Todd "Maniac" Marshall


MARCH 17, 2654
1000 HOURS

Part One

Commander Ke'Soick looked toward the lift doors at the back of the bridge. Thiraka moved cautiously away from his captain's station, eyes trained on Admiral Bokoth. The kalralahr stood at the forward viewport, staring at the quasar.

     "Kal Shintahr," Ke'Soick whispered, standing near the doors so that the admiral could not hear him. "I want to kill Bokoth. Permit me the honor."


     Ke'Soick's lips curled back. "Then his trust in the Pilgrim will kill us all."

     "Easy, my friend. It won't come to that."

     "You've let it come this far, haven't you? He's of your clan. You have much more to lose. I understand, Thiraka. So permit me the honor."

     "I won't sacrifice you."

     "There's no other way. We must be aggressive, decisive, and above all, ruthless. You should lead this battle group."

     "But I won't lead it without you."

     "Kal Shintahr?"

     Thiraka glanced across the bridge. The admiral had turned from the viewport, his one eye panning the room. "Here Kalralahr," Thiraka said. He hastened away from Ke'Soick and tensed as he arrived at the admiral's side.

     "The whispering of young warriors troubles me," Bokoth said, resuming his study of the quasar. "As we grow older, our power shifts from muscle to mind. Does that shift weaken us? Hardly, but you don't believe that. You'd like to be rid of this old one who has taken over your ship and your battle group. Am I correct?"

     Thiraka hesitated. "If I answer yes, I admit to treason. If I answer no, I call you a liar."

     "And if you don't answer honestly, you will die where you stand."

     Retreating a step, Thiraka said, "Your presence here weakens my authority. It reminds my crew that my own father doesn't trust me. And the loss of three ships--"

     "I alone accept responsibility for those losses."

     "You should have sent a larger force," came a tinny voice from the shadows. The Pilgrim approached them. "The Tiger Claw is alive and still a threat."

     Bokoth flared at the traitor. "Go to the ConCom. Prepare the jump coordinates and transmit them to the fleet."

     The human held his scowl a moment, then stormed off.

     "What about the Tiger Claw?" Thiraka asked.

     "We'll place the ConCom within range to find her." The admiral glanced at Thiraka. "You don't agree?"

     "You serve the Emperor, Kalralahr. And I serve you." Thiraka bowed before his superior.

     "That is no answer."

     "For the moment, it is the only one I have."

Part Two

After the bombing had stopped and the Tiger Claw had grown quiet, Maniac had fallen into a deep sleep, his body jerking as though the day's painful events were replaying in his subconscious.

     Blair could have used some sleep himself, but he had too much on his mind. He returned to the flight deck, where he found pilots heading up their own maintenance teams. Three techs had already cleared the rubble from his Rapier. Although Blair's fighter had not sustained major damage, many of the other fighters and bombers, nearly one hundred in all, had fared far worse. Wings had been crushed, cockpits shattered, landing gear snapped off. Blair stared sadly across the great sea of mangled metal.

     After catching the attention of his crew chief, he started toward the woman. Then he shifted course as he spied Deveraux. She squatted near her fighter's portside landing skid and stared up into the runner's compartment.


     She emerged from under her fighter, eyes swollen, hair disheveled. "What is it, Lieutenant?"

     "Can we stop this game, please? I'm sorry about Forbes."


     "Don't." He shook his head. "Whena friend dies, it hurts. It's supposed to."

     "You're the authority?"

     "You can't forget the people you loved. They deserve more than that."

     She closed her eyes. "What do you want?"

     "Maybe I can help. Maybe we can help each other."

     "I'm all out." She turned away.

     "Maniac was crazy about her."

     "He was crazy about her?" She spun to face him, all woman, all fire. "She was my best friend. I loved her."

     "You weren't alone. You know he blames himself for what happened."

     "And so he should."

     "His confidence is shot. He's questioning every move he made. He can't go back up in that condition. And right now, we need every pilot we have."

     "That's right. But you expect me to put him back on the duty roster?"

     "Just do the right thing."

     "I'll think about it."

     "Maybe you can talk to the others. Maniac's a good guy. And he's sorry, really sorry. There's no reason for anyone to hate him."

Part Three

Twenty minutes later, Deveraux was summoned to the bridge When she arrived, she saw Taggart at the radar station, staring into nothingness as the telltale beep of an incoming ship grew louder.

     She headed for the transparent wall of the radar screen. "What's out there? Another destroyer?"

     "It doesn't matter," Gerald called after her. "We can't take another round of bombardment."

     Her expression grew hard, meant for him and Taggart. "I have four Rapiers ready to go. We'll go down kicking and screaming."

     "We'll do better than that, Angel," Taggart said. "That ship up there is going to save us."