Wing Commander in Real Time - Day 2 - 1430 Zulu

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Two members of the arming crew, Specialists JONES and
OLIVIA lock down a rack of missiles.

In two Rapiers, KNIGHT and SPIRIT, strap into their
seats, power engines.


Spaceman RODRIGUEZ, 2nd class, a young Latino crosses


The Flight Boss drains his coffee and straps him self in.


Most of the pilots are holding onto their tables or
fastening the seat-belts on their chairs. Except for
Forbes and Maniac.


Engineer DAVIES grabs onto a hand-hold and looks at his
crew mates as various parts of the ship all begin to
VIBRATE, slowly at first, then more and more violently,
throwing any loose objects around.


The vibrations grow worse, as people grab onto anything,
eyes glued on the windows.


BLAIR AND DEVERAUX are thrown together. This startles
both of them, then they deliberately grab for a bulkhead.

The ship's trying to tear itself free
of the space time fabric.

The vibrations grow in pitch, until the sound is almost
deadening. Almost on impulse, Deveraux's hand reaches
out towards Blair's elbow, as if to have one last physical
contact with another human. But it never reaches it!

FREEZE FRAME: The Tiger Claw enters the gap in the space
time continuum. All motion and sound on the bridge stop.
Nothing moves, either human or inanimate. Time has
ceased, as well as any sense of motion or vibration. All
is silent.

SC. 86-87 OMIT


Throughout the ship, men and women are caught, Pompeii-
like, with expressions of fear and bewilderment...

A LONG TRAVELING SHOT past all these crew members.


With a terrible shudder, life on the bridge resumes,
alarms wail. Officers and crew are tossed about.

DEVERAUX and BLAIR: Angel's hand continues forward,
touching Blair's elbow. He turns to look at her, just as

They fall to their knees. The shuddering is intense. It
feels like the ship is coming apart. But Blair reaches
for Deveraux's face and tilts her chin up. Her forehead
is bleeding from a scalp laceration.

You all right?

She is dizzy, but nods. Then Blair turns to glance out
the windows.

Where are we?

THROUGH THE BRIDGE WINDOWS: There is no sign of the
awesome pulsar, now. The blackness of space, peppered
with stars.... A Jovian planet looms in the distance.

We're through the jump point.

RESUME BRIDGE: Even as the others stare out, the
vibrations decrease, then disappear. The alarm ceases.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the
Ulysses Corridor.

Launching Rapiers...Now.

Through the big windows, we see KNIGHT and SPIRIT launch,
bank hard, accelerate away on afterburners.

Shields up. Mr. Obutu, stealth mode,

OBUTU hits a switch and the bridge controls power down.
Red tactical lights kick on.

Going to stealth. Seven percent
electronic emissions, zero

Radar, status?

Scanners picking up strong
electromagnetic signature at 111 mark
43. An asteroid field. I'd say she's
a Kilrathi, sir.

BLAIR has fetched a first aid kit, and is using a small
laser pen to seal Deveraux's scalp wound.



BLAIR tries to check her scalp. As if annoyed by this
enforced intimacy with Blair, DEVERAUX pulls away.

It's all right.

It's still bleeding. If I--

(pulls away)
It's all right.

Yes, Ma'am.

(To Angel:)
Lt. Commander, prepare a recon. I want
to know what's out there.

Yes, sir.

SHE heads out, Blair trailing.

And Deveraux, I don't want them to know
we're here. Not yet.

SC. 90 - 93 OMIT




MARCH 16, 2654
1430 HOURS

Spacecraft Ordnance Specialist Justin Jones jogged across the carrier's
shaking flight hangar toward a long, high row of missile racks, where
Specialist David Olivia slammed down pairs of bracing arms, locking the
projectiles into place. "Where the hell have you been?" Olivia asked, then
grunted as he slammed down another set of arms. "Do you wanna be on or
off this arming crew?"
"C'mon," Jones said, then ran ahead of Olivia to reach another brace.
"You know I've still got my problem."
"Well, you'd better do something before it winds up in my report."
Jones's mouth fell open. "So how are you gonna write that up, anyway?"
Olivia paused, holding a brace, his face glistening with sweat. "Easy. I'll
just tell them the truth."
"You wouldn't…"
He wiped sweat from his mouth. "Oh yeah, I would."
"I thought we were friends."
"We are. But now you're screwing with my career. I'm not covering for
you anymore."
"Just give me some more time," Jones pleaded, dashing ahead to seize
another brace. "I think I'll have it solved in a couple of days."
"That's what you said last week. I don't got any more time. You either
get to a doctor, or I'm getting you off this crew."
"All right. All right. But do you think they can do anything for me?"
"For God's sake, man. It's just diarrhea."
"Not this. No way. This is a curse. I wouldn't wish this on my worst
enemy." With that, Jones sprinted off.
"Where are you…" Olivia began.
Then it was obvious.
* * *
In the flight control room, Boss Raznick buckled himself into his seat,
took a sip of his coffee, then placed the mug on the vibrating work surface
of his console. He stared down through the Plexi at his flight hangar. His
department heads seemed to have everything under control. Their crews
battened down ordnance, tools, rolling carts, moorings, and scores of
fighters and bombers.
The readiness reports came funneling back to him, and, as usual, the
arming crew was last to check in. "Specialist Olivia here, sir. My weapons
are tucked in."
"Then move your ass, Spaceman. You've got all of eight seconds to get
to your jump station."
"Yes, sir!"
Raznick dialed up the two pilots who would fly the first security patrol
once the Tiger Claw made the jump. They sat strapped in their idling
fighters. "Knight? Spirit? Report?"
"Systems nominal here," Spirit said, then she muttered something in
Japanese that Raznick couldn't decipher.
"What was that, Lieutenant?"
"Oh, nothing sir. It's just a little prayer."
"We're good to go, Boss. That is, if this old lady survives the jump."
Raznick nodded grimly. "I hear that."
* * *
Spaceman 2nd Class Miguel Rodriguez checked for the third and final
time that the missiles in his section of the Claw's secondary ordnance
room were locked and that all laser batteries held steady at full charge.
With that done, he hurried to his seat and belted in next to Spaceman
Ashley Galaway, her smile as transparent as his. She let out a tiny cry as
the carrier shifted suddenly, and the conduits rattled like metal tubes
striking a tiled floor.
"Don't worry, mi amiga," Rodriguez said, summoning up a false
bravado perfected by neighborhood skirmishes in his youth. "When God
created Senor Miguel Rodriguez, he thought, Damn! Now that is a
good-looking hombre. So there's no way he'll tamper with perfection."
"Or when he created you, he thought, Hmmm. This young man loves
himself too much. When I have the time, I'll stomp him out of existence.
So I guess God's got some time on Her hands…"
Rodriguez looked at her and tsked.
The ship suddenly rolled a few degrees, shoving them against their
Galaway began whispering to God, making her peace. Rodriguez
blessed himself, closed his eyes, and joined her.
* * *
"You know, somebody told me about a time when government didn't
control your personal life, when you could, say, get into a ground vehicle
and drive as fast as you want without wearing a seatbelt. You didn't have
some government regulating your personal freedom, defining for you
what's safe and what isn't. When it came to stuff that you wanted to do,
good old-fashioned common sense was the law. What ever happened to
that?" Maniac searched the faces in the mess hall, but most of the pilots
were too busy adjusting their jumpseat harnesses to listen. "Hey, I asked
you people a question."
Polanski rose and paraded up to Maniac, using his index finger to poke
Maniac's chest. "You wanna know what happened to our personal
freedom? Idiots like you ruined it. You abuse every bit of freedom you get.
And so to control you idiots, the Confederation steps in. So, I'm you, I
plant my ass on a jumpseat and buckle it down. You wanna live to abuse
more of your freedom, doncha?"
Maniac eyed Forbes. She shook her head. No, both of them would ride
this out naturally, unfettered by the convention and cowardice that ruled
the others.
* * *
Staring up some twenty meters at the overhead, Engineer Davies
swallowed as a quake passed through the durasteel, making the engine
room's ceiling look like gray waves fanned by a north wind. He slapped his
palms on a handhold, then leaned out to look at his crewmates, wondering
if the other eighteen-year-olds felt as scared as he did. One new recruit,
Engineer Oxendine, a tall blond boy with big arms but a bag of gelatin for
a gut, crinkled his nose and said, "You smell that? Hey, everybody? You
smell that?"
Murmurs erupted, and Davies said, "What? What is it? Fire?"
Oxendine took a few exaggerated whiffs of the air. "No. I think it's you,
"What do you mean?" he asked, lowering his nose to his armpit. "I
don't smell."
"Are you kidding? Your fear is stinkin' up the place."
"Shuddup, Oxy," someone ordered.
"Five seconds to jump," the captain said on the intercom.
Davies leered at Oxendine, then tightened his grip on the handhold.
* * *
With the vibrations increasing by what felt like a factor of ten, Blair
envisioned his arms as sticks of durasteel and hung on to the bridge
railing, his feet occasionally leaving the floor. Deveraux, too, struggled to
keep standing, her poker face faltering as the pulsar tightened its grip.
Taggart, whose cool remained unruffled, clung to the helmsman's chair
and shifted behind the officer, alternating his gaze between screens and
viewports. "Steady now. Steady…"
Apparently bored with simply tugging on the carrier, the pulsar
decided to jerk the Tiger Claw in as though she were a sail-fish on a line.
The force sent Deveraux crashing into Blair. They fell away from the
railing and rose to grab the bulkhead.
"What the hell was that?" Deveraux asked.
"The ship's trying to tear itself free of the space-time fabric," Blair said,
his stomach acting out a similar battle.
Growing in pitch, the vibrations continued until Blair's ears filled with
a single, deafening hum. The pulsar coruscated again, momentarily
blinding him. As his vision cleared, he looked down to see Deveraux's hand
reaching toward his shoulder—
And at that moment, the Tiger Claw plunged into the pulsar, into the
gap in the space-time continuum calculated by Taggart.
The hum, the vibrations, and the taste of bile at the back of Blair's
throat fell off into nothingness. He should feel more comfortable in the
moment, knowing what to expect. But the feeling had returned, and like a
siren, it sang a bewitching song, trying to lure him out to explore the
universe, to move beyond the corporeal, to comprehend eternity in a
billion-year second, to live an entirely different life in which he knew his
parents, really knew them.
Then you'll fall. Like the others.
Such power. And only a thought away. How could he control it? How
could anyone control it? The only thing that kept him in place, bound to a
minute portion of the universe, was the fear evoked by his mother. Yes, he
could refine the feeling, hone himself into a true Pilgrim, he sensed that.
But even with a perfect sense of direction and the power to achieve infinite
mass and infinite awareness, he would still struggle to find happiness,
love, friendship, hope, wisdom, all of the things that defined being human.
Or he could choose to abandon them.
Christopher Blair stood at a cosmic crossroads, and he refused to make
a decision, refused to surrender to the intoxication of the feeling. If he did
that, he felt it would forever control him. There had to be a way to achieve
balance, to preserve his humanity while sharing a relationship with the
universe more intimate than he had ever known.
He searched his thoughts for a way to contend with the feeling, but a
powerful shudder passed through his body, wrenching him from his
introspection. His senses returned with an electrifying vengeance. He
gagged as the atonal roar of the carrier's passage echoed through the
bridge. Sansky, Gerald, Taggart, and the helmsman, once pillars of salt,
now fought to maintain balance.
Deveraux's hand finally settled on Blair's shoulder, and as he turned to
look at her, the deck buckled and tossed her into him. They fell back
toward the bulkhead, and Deveraux's forehead struck the merciless
durasteel with a thud that made Blair grimace. She dropped to her knees,
and he grabbed her shoulders, shifting her back to observe a bleeding
laceration on her forehead. "Are you all right?"
Her eyes seemed vague, her head swaying. "We make it?"
A glance to the bank of forward viewports gave Blair his reply. The
pulsar had slid back into her gloomy cavern of gravity that lay four days
and three jump points away. In the distance loomed a massive planet, a
gas giant banded in mauve, yellow, and orange. Several large spots
blemished its surface, and tiny points of light hovered about it, moons
gliding peacefully in their orbits. Beyond the Jovian-like system lay the
quiet and dark vacuum, bejeweled by ancient starlight. "We're through
the jump point."
Even as Blair finished telling her, the carrier's alarms clicked off, and
the rumbling deck and bulkheads grew still, giving way to the routine din
of the bridge's instrumentation.
Taggart considered the helmsman's screen, then glanced through the
viewport. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Ulysses Corridor."
Lieutenant Commander Obutu craned his head toward Captain Sansky,
one hand on his headset. "Launching Rapiers. Now."
After a few seconds, two fighters shot by the viewport, their
afterburners aglow. Blair followed their path until they ascended out of
"Shields up," Sansky ordered, getting to his feet. "Mr. Obutu, stealth
mode, please."
Obutu threw a toggle. Every console grew dim. "Going to stealth. Seven
percent electronic emissions, zero communications."
Arriving at the radar station, Sansky leaned over the beanpole of a boy
seated there. "Status?"
"Scanners picking up strong electromagnetic signature at one-eleven
mark four-three. An asteroid field. I'd say she's a Kilrathi, sir."
Sansky nodded, then brought himself to full height to consult with a
dour-looking Gerald.
Meanwhile, Blair struggled to his feet. "Don't move," he told Deveraux.
"I'll be right back." He hustled to the rear of the bridge and unclipped a
first aid kit from the wall. He returned with the kit and removed a laser
pen from its holder. "Don't move," he said, then lifted the pen to her
"You already said that."
"This time I really mean it." He thumbed on the power and began
sealing the laceration. "You're a good patient," he said softly, then his aim
"Sorry." He finished the seal, lowered the pen, and edged closer to her,
studying his handiwork.
"It's all right," she assured him, drawing back. She lifted her brow,
breaking the seal.
He quickly shook his head and brought the laser pen toward her. "It's
still bleeding. If I—"
"It's all right," she insisted, then grabbed his wrist, forcing the pen
"Yes, ma'am." He stood and proffered his hand.
She dismissed the offer. Using the bulkhead for support, she clambered
to her feet, wavered a moment, then found her balance.
Blair opened his mouth, wanting to tell her he was sorry, that he didn't
mean to move so close to her, that all he had wanted to do was help. He
also wanted to say that her perfume made him lightheaded, that her skin
seemed like the smooth surface of some ripe, exotic fruit, and that he
would like to explore the secrets in her hair. He wanted to tell her most of
that, well, some of that, but Captain Sansky suddenly came between them.
"That head all right?" he asked Deveraux.
"Little scratch. I'm fine."
"Good. Security patrol's been launched, but I'm keeping them in tight. I
want you to prepare a recon. I want to know what's out there."
"Yes, sir." She started for the corridor.
"And Deveraux," Sansky called after her. "No contact with the enemy.
Not yet."
She looked over her shoulder and nodded, then faced Blair. "Let's go,
* * *
Twenty decks below the bridge, in a dank, cramped latrine, Specialist
Justin Jones struggled up, gripped his stomach, then released a moan. He
was, he suspected, the only man alive who had jumped a pulsar while
seated on a toilet.
Then again, some feats were better left unreported.
Flight Boss Raznick swore as he removed the coffee mug from his lap. A
large stain darkened the front of his uniform. He vowed to find the idiot
responsible for convincing the captain to jump a pulsar. And when he did,
he would have that idiot busted down to spacehand. The laundry detail
repeatedly did a poor job of cleaning his uniforms; they could never
remove a stain of this magnitude. He looked up to the heavens and
demanded a refund for the day.
He thought he heard God laugh.
* * *
Miguel Rodriguez reached into his shirt and withdrew the St. Christopher
medallion hanging from his neck. He kissed the patron saint of travelers and whispered a thank you.
"I think we made it," Ashley Galaway said, removing her seat straps.
"We did, mi amiga," Rodriguez said. "Come. Give me a hug."
"Yeah, right."
"No, really. On my world it's customary to hug the nearest person after
a dangerous situation."
"On my world, the men don't lie to get close to their women."
"Oh, come now, mi amiga. Do you see a lie in this face?" He mustered
his most sincere look.
"No. I see lust." She stood and abruptly kissed him on the cheek. "Don't
try so hard. If we're going to violate regs, let's make it worth it." She
strutted off, leaving him to contend with his runaway pulse.
* * *
"That'll be a nice bruise, mate," Hunter told Maniac as the older pilot
inspected Maniac's forearm. "Have you found your manhood yet? Or does
the quest continue?"
Rubbing his swelling arm, Maniac smirked and left Hunter, weaving
his way through the mess to join Forbes, who had gone to fetch a drink.
As she spotted him, her eyes lit over the rim of her glass. "That was
good. Very, very good," she cooed.
"Some men know how to show a lady a good time"—he scowled at
Hunter—"and some don't."
"And speaking of time, have you noticed the shift?"
"What time is it?"
"It's nearly oh-three-hundred Zulu."
He checked his watch; it read 1434. "It only took a few minutes to make
that jump."
"But we still lost over half a standard day."
He lifted his brow. "Then we have some time to make up."
She began to answer, but the intercom speaker emitted a short beep.
"This is the captain. As most of you have guessed, we just made one hell of
a jump."
"Is that what that was?" Polanski groaned.
"Actually, we've just taken a little short cut into the Ulysses Corridor,
where, as I told you, the Pegasus Station was attacked and destroyed. The
main Kilrathi battle group is in the quadrant and headed for the Charybdis Quasar.
In just over ten hours it'll be in position to jump into Earth
space. Our mission is to find the Kilrathi, assess their capacities and plan
of action, and if necessary, stop them."
Maniac exchanged a look with Forbes: Action! Yes!
"We're the only Confed ship within range, people," Sansky continued.
"We'll have no help and no rescue. We can only count on each other. That
is all."