Wing Commander Junior Novelization Chapter 3

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Chapter 3
Book Wing Commander Junior Novelization
Parts 1
Previous Chapter 2
Next Chapter 4
Pages 24-28
Source Wing Commander Chapter 3

Dramatis Personae

Part 1

Thiraka nar Kiranka


Bokoth nar Kiranka
William Wilson


Unnamed Third Fang




MARCH 15, 2654
2140 HOURS

For the fourth time, Captain Thiraka nar Kiranka walked through the dense green air that filled the Grist'Ar'roc's bridge to check the radar screen. The attack on Pegasus Station had gone exactly as planned. The absence of difficulties had Thiraka wondering when those difficulties would arrive. His experience fighting humans told him they always did.

     Thiraka was born of the most powerful clan on Kilrah, but his father did not believe him worthy of the clan. His father did not believe he could present even a single human death as a gift to Sivar, war god of the Kilrathi people. And his father's beliefs were known by everyone. Thiraka guessed that most of his crew doubted his capabilities. The presence of Kalralahr Bokoth, the Kilrathi fleet's most famous admiral, made Thiraka feel weak and helpless. The admiral had taken over Thiraka's ship and his battle group. I am a lowborn peasant at the kalralahr's beck and call, he thought. I am supposed to be a kal shintahr, a captain.

     Commander Ke'Soick rested a heavy paw on Thiraka's shoulder. "Our officers complain that you're oversupervising them. I've watched you check this screen four times now. Should the third fang here find a discrepancy, he'll report it directly to you."

     Thiraka lowered his massive brow. "To me and not the kalralahr?"

     "We've only served a short time together, but I already know your pain. You can rely on my loyalty, Kal Shintahr. I'm oathsworn to you and you alone."

     Pursing his lips, Thiraka nodded. "A debt is owed. A debt shall be repaid."

     "Have you forgotten how your family strengthened my clan by killing the weakest of us? Now we rise in power and serve aboard the empire's deadliest cruisers and dreadnoughts. But my clan also believes that those who bargain with the humans are the lowest of born, cowards despised and condemned by Sivar."

     Thiraka moved closer to his commander, and with eyes capable of seeing the infrared spectrum, he looked to see if others watched. "Those opinions are better kept silent. But, dear Ke'Soick, I agree."

     Behind them, the lift doors parted to reveal Kalralahr Bokoth. Without a word, the admiral paraded across the bridge, his armor flexing, the colorful clan and battle plumes tied at his shoulders fluttering behind him. He paused at the forward viewport to gaze at the quasar.

     "And thoughts become flesh," Ke'Soick said, eyeing the kalralahr with hatred.

     Second Fang Norsh'kal, tactical officer, approached them with a computer slate. "Kal Shintahr. Sector report of Confederation ship movements." He offered the slate.

     But Thiraka had grown tired of staring at holos and computer screens. "Read them to me."

     The Second Fang purred his acknowledgment. "One vessel remains in the sector, the TCS Tiger Claw. Intelligence reports that she is still out of communication range with her fleet and holding position."

     "Very well," Thiraka said. "Your report tells me nothing new."

     "But Kal Shintahr. One of our surveillance stations on the border of Sol sector intercepted and decoded part of a long-range communication from the Concordia to a merchantman bound for the Tiger Claw. An officer on board that merchantman is delivering an encoded message to the carrier's captain."

     "When will the merchantman reach the Tiger Claw?"

     "We're not sure, Kal Shintahr. The merchantman is headed toward Beacon One-forty-seven, just outside the Sol system."

     "They're not headed toward Vega?"

     "No. And we don't know why."

     Thiraka stepped away from his officers and crossed the bridge, heading toward the kalralahr.

     As he neared the old one, Thiraka bowed his head and spoke in a low hiss of respect. "The Ulysses Corridor is clear. As you predicted, the door to Earth is open. But new difficulties have arisen."

     Kalralahr Bokoth turned his long, pale head toward Thiraka. Bokoth's face looked battle-worn. He had lost an eye, and deep scars spread out from the gloomy socket. "Difficulties, Thiraka?"

     "Yes. One of our surveillance stations--"

     "I know." Bokoth stroked the long, fine hairs on his chin and smiled, as though over Thiraka's surprise. "I'm having all intelligence routed directly to my cabin."

     "Kalralahr, this is my ship. I've paid you tribute enough in turning over command of the battle group. All intelligence will be routed to the bridge."

     Bokoth's good eye widened. "I wondered how long I could push you before you would behave honorably and defend yourself. There's hope for you after all. Now then, let me address your supposed difficulties. Yes, it's unfortunate that the humans have learned so soon of our attack on Pegasus. But that doesn't matter. By the time that merchantman reaches the Tiger Claw, our lead will be too great for them to intercept. If by some small miracle they do reach us, we will finish them as efficiently as we destroyed Pegasus. One carrier is no match for this battle group. Even the lowest of born can recognize that."

     "But answer this: Why is the merchantman not headed to Vega sector? Doesn't that puzzle you?"

     "It does." Bokoth turned his head toward the lift doors as they closed behind a human wearing an atmospheric suit.

     "Where's the celebration?" the hairless ape asked, its voice sounding tinny through the translator attached to its suit. "The door to Earth is open. And you have your prize."

     As the human drew closer, Thiraka noticed a silver cross hanging around the man's neck. He recognized that cross from history holos he had been forced to watch during his training. It represented a clan of humans known as Pilgrims.

     "The NAVCOM AI has been reconfigured to your jump drives," the ape continued.

     "Excellent. Now answer me two questions," Bokoth said in his most demanding tone. "Why was the Concordia alerted of our attack so soon?"

     "That, I'm afraid, was unavoidable. Next question?"

     Bokoth growled. "Explain unavoidable."

     "I think the word translates clearly."

     Raising a paw and extending long, jagged nails, Bokoth said, "If I discover--"

     "You're not in a position to threaten me--after what I've given you."

     Slowly, Bokoth lowered his paw. "A merchantman has been ordered to alert the Tiger Claw. Why isn't it headed to Vega sector?"

     "I don't know. I'd worry about that."

     "If you're lying--"

     "There you go again. Haven't I already expressed what I want?"

     "Yes. Most clearly. You have betrayed your race on a scale unimaginable, Pilgrim."

     "I've lived up to my part of our agreement. Live up to yours. Destroy Earth."

     Bokoth stared long and hard at the traitor. At last, he nodded.