Wing Commander Junior Novelization Chapter 8

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Chapter 8
Book Wing Commander Junior Novelization
Parts 2
Previous Chapter 7
Next Chapter 9
Pages 38-42
Source Wing Commander Chapter 8, Part One & Part Three

Dramatis Personae

Part 1 Part 2

Christopher Blair

Jay Sansky


Jeanette "Angel" Deveraux
Rosalind "Sassy" Forbes
Joseph "Knight" Khumelo
Todd "Maniac" Marshall
Adam "Bishop" Polanski
Ian "Hunter" St. John

Paul Gerald
Corey Obutu
Jay Sansky
James "Paladin" Taggart


Charles "Bossman" Chen

Geoffrey Tolwyn


MARCH 16, 2654
0330 HOURS

Part One

Blair settled into a chair and watched Forbes and Polanski play another chess game. Marshall held a the bottle of Scotch and wandered over to observe the competition.

     The youngest of four sons, Marshall had grown up in a competitive household where his brothers had constantly challenged him. Those challenges had made him a great pilot. But to look at Marshall now, you'd never think he was capable of flying. He could barely stand as he drew closer to the chess game. "Take his pony with your castle," he told Forbes, then took a swig from the bottle.

     She moved her "castle" and captured Polanski's "pony." Then she folded her arms over her chest. "Check."

     "Where?" Polanski challenged.

     "Mate," Marshall said.

     "No way," Polanski said in realization. "That's cheatin'."

     Forbes gave Marshall a penetrating stare. "So there's a brain behind that mouth?"

     Marshall flashed one of his trademark smiles. He poured her another drink, and she stood. For a second, her gaze met Blair's, and he turned away.

     "Your friend always this talkative?" she asked Marshall.

     "He just made the fatal error of mistaking Commander Deveraux for your average grease monkey."

     She circled to face Blair and bent down to his level. "What happened?"

     Blair squirmed as he realized that everyone in the room now watched him. "All I did was sit in Lieutenant Commander Chen's fighter."

     Smiles faded. Polanski shifted away.

     Captain St. John looked up from his Scotch. "Who?"

     "Lieutenant Commander Chen. Bossman."

     The cigar came out. "Bossman? Anybody here know a Bossman?"

     "No," someone said.

     "Never heard of him," someone else added.

     Shooting to his feet so quickly that he knocked over his chair, Blair said, "What's with you people?" The coldness in their faces angered him. Was this how they treated their dead friends?

     A big black man with a widow's peak and a nametag that read Knight moved to Blair, his expression calm, his voice nearly a whisper. "Leave it alone, Blair."

     "Leave what alone?"

     "You're asking after a man who never existed," St. John said.

     "I'm pretty sure he did."

     It all happened in a moment as blurry as Scylla. One nanosecond St. John sat before his drink, the next he stood and pushed Blair hard in the chest. "He never existed," St. John corrected. "Now, I suggest you change the subject. Or I'll change it for you."

     Marshall threaded his way through the other pilots and came up behind St. John. "You have a problem with my friend?"

     "That's right. I do."

     "Then you have a problem with me."

     St. John whirled around. "Oh, yeah. You're going to love this--"

     Expecting St. John to rush Marshall, Blair tensed, preparing to leap on the man's back.

     But the pilot whirled back to him, grabbed his shirt, and drove him into the bulkhead.

     Marshall employed Blair's original strategy and leapt on St. John's back, slinging an arm under the man's chin.

     Likewise, Polanski slipped his arm around Marshall's neck and began prying Marshall away.

     As St. John's hands got yanked back, Blair's shirt tore open to expose his cross.

     "He's a Pilgrim!" St. John cried, then released Blair, who had suddenly become a live wire.

     Everyone in the mess stared at the cross. Marshall cursed and pounded the bulkhead. The pilots closest to the hatch shifted back, blocking the exit.

     Forbes elbowed her way through the others to get a closer look at the pariah named Christopher Blair. "Excuse me?"

     "If you ladies don't stand down, you're going to have a problem with me." Blair knew who had said that, but he couldn't see her past the others. Good. She also couldn't see him. Using his temporary cover, he slid his cross beneath his shirt as the pilots snapped to attention.

     "I want an explanation. Hunter?" Deveraux asked, calling St. John by his call sign.

     But before the man could answer, Blair hurried forward to address Lieutenant Commander Deveraux. "Hunter and the others were just making Lieutenant Marshall and me feel at home, ma'am."

     She stared suspiciously at him, then at St. John. "Lieutenant?" ~

     The captain gave Blair a slight glance and said, "Uh, that's right, Lieutenant, ma'am."

     Blair couldn't hide his dark feelings. "There, you see, ma'am? I guess this conversation never existed." He bolted through the open hatch.

Part Two

In the dimly lit and silent chart room, Captain Sansky looked up to consider the red dots on the ghostly tactical schematic that Lieutenant Commander Obutu had pulled up for him. Those 7 holographic dots moved toward the broad limbs of the Charybdis Quasar. Behind the quasar, a single yellow line stretched toward a floating Earth.

     The hatch opened, and Gerald stepped inside. Captain James Taggart followed, lifting a hand to cover a yawn. "Captain Sansky. From one captain to another--never wake up a tired sailor unless we're talking life-or-death situation."

     "Then let's talk, Mr. Taggart."

     Moving beneath the holograph, Taggart stared at the Kilrathi battle group arrowing toward the quasar. "They're in a hurry," he muttered.

     "I know of you, Taggart, but I'm afraid I don't know you. You're a civilian captain flying a requisitioned transport, yet you come to me with classified orders from Admiral Tolwyn."

     Taggart smirked. "And you don't trust me, Blair, or the disc."

     "Would you?"


     Sansky nodded to the holograph. "This tactical schematic outlines a nightmare, Mr. Taggart. It tells me that the Kilrathi have a NAVCOM, and with it, the capacity to jump into Earth space. Based on that nightmare, I must take radical action that, if it and you are a lie, could compromise this ship, her crew, and Earth--all of which are unacceptable. Before I put my command in harm's way, I must be certain that you and the orders you bear are legitimate." Sansky reached into his breast pocket and produced the decoded disc. "So, I ask you, Mr. Taggart, what proof do you have that this is authentic?"

     Taggart reached into his inner vest pocket and withdrew a small, shiny object. He tossed it to Sansky, who caught and quickly examined it. Between his fingers rested a gold class ring, its surfaces worn, its emerald dull. Sansky held it to the holograph's light and read the inscription: ANNAPOLIS NAVAL ACADEMY, 1941. He closed his now trembling hand over the ring and stared with disbelief at Taggart. "How did you get this?"

     "Tolwyn gave it to me eight months ago. He thought it might be useful in situations like getting a captain to follow his orders."

     Gerald crossed to Sansky and gestured to see the ring. Sansky handed it to him, then turned to the intercom. "Con. Plot a course for the Charybdis Quasar, full speed."

     Lieutenant Commander Obutu shifted from the tactical schematic console to read the navigator's coordinates on another screen. Obutu, an earnest black man, tough as titanium, with a thick brow and a face that seemed regularly haunted by a past of which he would not speak, remained a comfort and a mystery to Sansky. As the lieutenant commander further surveyed the screen, a query creased his face. "Sir, the nearest jump point to Charybdis is four days hard travel from our present position. How are we supposed to get there in time?"

     "There's a class two pulsar eleven hours from here," Taggart said. "We can jump there."

     Obutu began a rapid-fire sequence of key commands, then looked to Sansky. "Not on the charts, sir. NAVCOM does not have those coordinates."

     "I have them," Taggart said.

     "No one's jumped a pulsar for forty years," Gerald pointed out, eyeing Taggart with an ugly look. "And even then, they were Pilgrims."

     "I don't believe we have a great deal of choice, Mr. Gerald," Sansky fired back. "If the battle is to be decided at Charybdis, then we have to be there." He regarded Taggart. "Plot your course."

     With a nod, Taggart headed for a navigation subterminal.

     Swearing under his breath, Gerald moved close to Sansky, out of Taggart's earshot. "Sir. This ring means nothing." He returned the antique to Sansky. "You shouldn't--"

     "This ring has been in Tolwyn's family for sixteen generations. Any man who carries it has the admiral's full confidence."

     "Tf it's real--which it may not be--then I can't believe Tolwyn gave it to a civilian."

     "Believe it. And you have your orders. Prepare for jump."

     As Gerald saluted and left, Sansky watched Taggart, wishing he could see past the man's mysteries.

     Life had become far more interesting. And dangerous.