Wing Commander Junior Novelization Chapter 28

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Chapter 28
Book Wing Commander Junior Novelization
Parts 7
Previous Chapter 27
Next Chapter 29
Pages 131-135
Source Wing Commander Chapter 28, Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Nine and Part Ten

Dramatis Personae

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7

Paul Gerald

Christopher Blair

Paul Gerald

Christopher Blair

Paul Gerald

Jeanette "Angel" Deveraux

Christopher Blair


Harrison Falk
Corey Obutu
James "Paladin" Taggart

Jeanette "Angel" Deveraux

Harrison Falk
Corey Obutu
James "Paladin" Taggart

Jeanette "Angel" Deveraux

Harrison Falk
James "Paladin" Taggart



Pierre Christian Deveraux
Marie Sousex Deveraux


MARCH 17, 2654
1245 HOURS

Part One

"Report!" Gerald yelled as an alarm sounded on the bridge.

     "I have a bogie, vector one-nine-seven mark three," Mr. Obutu said, "approaching at a velocity of ... now it's gone. Attempting to reestablish contact, sir."

     Taggart studied Obutu's display, then breathed a curse. He moved to Mr. Falk's primary radar screen.

     "You have something, Commodore?" Gerald asked.

     "It's a Skipper missile. Must be a prototype. We only pick it up when it decloaks to take a radar fix."

     "Can we stop it?"

     The Commodore shook his head, then quickly snapped toward Mr. Falk. "Estimated time until impact?"

     Falk plugged the coordinates into his terminal, then waited for the results on his big screen. "Nine minutes, sir."

Part Two

Blair peered at his radar scope. The contact had disappeared. Time to break radio silence. "I had a strong signal at ten o'clock, headed toward the Tiger Claw. Now it's gone."

     "Accessing intelligence database," Deveraux said. "Give me a sec. All right. Here we go. Contact is a Skipper missile."

     "Can the Claw take it out?"

     "The only thing that can kill it is a starfighter in visual contact." With that she banked hard right, breaking from his wing and climbing above the asteroid field.

     "Hey, what are you doing?"

     "Stay on course. Get through that jump point."

     "Angel? Angel? Don't do this."

Part Three

     "ETA on missile?" Gerald asked, feeling his pulse surge.

     "Six minutes, five seconds. It should decloak in a minute or so," Falk said.

     Mr. Obutu spoke quietly into his headset, his expression holding little promise. "Sir, we can't take a direct hit."

     Gerald nodded gravely, then found Taggart's empty gaze.

     "Commodore, isn't there anything we can do?"

     The man slumped in his chair. "It's in Blair and Deveraux's hands now."

Part Four

Blair jolted as the blip reappeared on his display. "It's back, Angel. Check your scope."

     "I got jack," she said. "Come on ... wait ... got it!"

     Deveraux's fighter, now a blue blip on his screen, chased after the red blip. "It's off to your starboard, bearing two-two-four by one-three-one."

     She followed his coordinates, winding toward the contact.

     "I'm coming back to assist."


     He lit the burners and slammed the steering yoke right, riding the tube of an invisible breaker. Her thrusters gleamed ahead, and she fired lasers at the missile as it cloaked. She continued to lead the Skipper, directing her bolts along its course.

     "Angel. You're too close," Blair said. "Back off."

     A sudden and harrowing explosion erupted ahead of her Rapier. The Skipper shimmered into view and corkscrewed through space, casting off jagged hunks of red-hot plastisteel.

     "Target destroyed," she reported tersely, then pulled up to escape the tumbling debris.

     But her report had come too soon. The Skipper exploded with a burst like an antique flashbulb. The light gave way to a visible shock wave. Circles of force tore through space and swept up Deveraux's Rapier as though it were a paper airplane in a typhoon.

     Her scream shocked Blair. "Angel! Angel!"

     The Rapier's wings tore off as it rolled through the wave. A faint burst of light came from her canopy as she ejected. The escape pod rode the crest of the wave, then suddenly broke free as retros slowed its progress.

     Blair held fast to the stick as the remnants of the explosion rocked his fighter. He turned ninety degrees and flew parallel to the wave, nearing the pod and the long line of wreckage floating beside it. The pod's retros fired again, rolling it upside-down relative to him. He flew under Deveraux, then slid up so that his cockpit stood within a meter of hers. "You okay?"

     "Nothing broken," she said, staring down at him through the Plexi.

     Blair regarded a panel at his elbow. He touched a button, bringing the system online. "Hang on. I'm going to tractor you back to the ship."

     "No. Go on. We can't both disobey orders."

     "I'm not leaving you here, Commander. You'll be out of air in an hour."

     "An hour and four minutes."

     "You're going back to the ship."

     "You disobey my direct order, and Ill have you courtmartialed."

     "Like I care."

     "Then care about the billions who will die if the fleet doesn't get those Kilrathi jump coordinates." She had spoken the truth, a truth that broke his heart. "You're all right, Angel. Guess you know that."

     She unclipped her mask and smiled, then pulled off her glove and placed her hand on the Plexi. "You, too, Chris."

     He could barely look at her as he touched his thruster control, sliding away from the pod. That soft face. That hand pressed on the glass. He would never forget her.

Part Five

Gerald swiveled his command chair toward the radar station. "Repeat?"

     Falk gazed at his screen in wonder. "I said there's no sign of the Skipper missile, sir. One of the Rapiers must've shot it down."

     "Where are they now?" Taggart asked, staring thoughtfully through the viewport.

     "One continuing on course, and one ... picking up an auto beacon from an ejection pod." Falk jerked his head toward another quadrant on his display. "Got two Kilrathi ships at extreme range."

     "Yes, that's about right," Taggart thought aloud. "Knowing our condition they would only send two, keeping the rest for an ambush at the jump point."

     Rising, Gerald joined the commodore at the viewport. "So what now? We have just a half-dozen operational fighters and can barely maneuver."

     The commodore faced him with a renewed zeal in his eyes. "What now, Mr. Gerald? Now we make the Kilrathi on those ships sorry they were ever born." He regarded the bridge crew and roared, "Battle stations!"

     "Kilrathi cruiser and destroyer are in missile range," Falk said anxiously. "They're launching."

     Taggart's eyes widened. "Open fire, Mr. Gerald."

     "Aye-aye, sir." He switched on the shipwide comm. "All batteries, fire as she bears."

Part Six

Deveraux had powered down all but the most vital systems in the ejection pod--especially its auto beacon that would give away her location. She shivered as the pod grew colder than a Belgium winter. Out to port, missiles streaked across the blackness, creating rainbows of vapor. She strained for a better look, but her breath condensed on the Plexi. She wiped it away and took a tiny, rationed breath.

Part Seven

Blair reached the edge of the asteroid field, then flipped over his HUD viewer. All right, all right, he thought, trying to calm himself as he took in Charybdis's colorful fury. Her reds seemed like blood, her blues like veins. He maxed out the throttle and leaned over to power up the jump drive computer. A pair of screens showed multiple glide paths through the quasar, all of them wrong. Or at least they felt so. "Merlin? Check my coordinates."

     The hologram directed his voice into the Rapier's comm. "Coordinates A-okay, boss. Three minutes to jump."

     "Firing jump drive." He touched the switch--

     And an enormous six-G jolt struck the Rapier as the drive dropkicked him forward. His lips flapped, and his cheeks flirted with his ears.

     The quasar smeared into a striped tunnel, and thousands of ghostly claws tugged at the fighter. The stick felt as though it were melting in his glove. As he got closer to the quasar, the jump drive made noises like a wounded animal.

     "Ninety seconds to jump point," Merlin said. "But you're drifting off course."

     "Negative. The quasar's gravity is affecting you."

     "No, it isn't."

     "Merlin ..."

     The little man wisely fell silent. Blair skimmed the jump drive screens, then shut his eyes.

     Mother, you don't want me to come here. But I have no choice. I hope you'll understand. I hope you won't stop me.

     "Warning. Jump drive system reaching point five light speed, PNR velocity for this system," the ship's computer said. "Do you wish to continue?"


     "PNR velocity achieved. System lock activated. Pilot, you are committed to the jump."