J. Malcolm Patrick
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Chapter 1 – Starship Down
Chapter 2 – Patrick Rayne
Chapter 3 - Inquisition
Chapter 4 – Your Mission Aaron
Chapter 5 – The Un-dynamic Duo
Chapter 6 – Honor Above Loyalty
Chapter 7 -
Chapter 8 – Journey to
Chapter 9 – Fight Lee Fight
Chapter 10 – Brutus Bannon
Chapter 11 –
Chapter 12 – Spy Games
Chapter 13 – Honor Guide Us
Chapter 14 – No Shenanigans!
Chapter 15 – Shenanigans!
Chapter 16 – Article 39
Chapter 17 – Mission given, Mission accomplished
Chapter 18 – Separatists
Chapter 19 – Fates of Many
Chapter 20 – You Were Deceived
Chapter 21 – Opposing Force
Chapter 22 – Proud Mother
Chapter 23 – Fight—And Run
Chapter 24 – Surrender
Chapter 25 – Fortune Favors the Bold
Chapter 26 – 70 Years of Peace
Chapter 27 – Excalibur
Chapter 28 – Define Irony
Chapter 29 – You’re Not Dead Yet
Chapter 30 – This Madness Ends
Chapter 31 – No One Lives Forever
Chapter 1 – Starship Down
Three hours had dragged by since the distress call.
The first hour filled Commander Aaron Rayne with hope.
The final hour, a sense of hollowness rose inside him each time he replayed the end of the distress call from the freighter . . . “
If he felt this helpless, he couldn’t quite imagine the despair tormenting the crew and passengers aboard the freighter. By now, the raider had jammed the freighter’s comms, and its captain had no way of knowing help was on the way.
Aaron slipped away from the bridge into his ready room, needing a brief respite to change his soaked uniform. He pulled the grey long sleeve tunic over his head and sighed. Since receiving the distress call, the conclusions of a United Fleet review into
Reckless, how was he reckless? Before he could reflect further on the absurd and typical
The ship was under attack.
He flipped on a fresh tunic and bolted for the exit. The hatch almost didn’t part. His heavy boot heels pounded the deck as he stormed onto the bridge. He’d been gone less than three minutes.
His XO and senior operations officer Lieutenant Commander Avery ‘Vee’ Alvarez looked up and moved towards him. They stepped down the slope along the deck towards the tactical station. Alvarez reported as he fell into step.
“Two contacts, Commander, bearing zero-three-zero mark zero-six-one. Still piecing it together now. They appeared from nowhere. There’s no stealth system in existence that could let them creep up on us like that!”
Alvarez was sturdy and lean. His dark parted hair greyed slightly at the edges. He was a pillar of strength. His features mirrored that of a protective older brother. Aaron absorbed the information displayed across the tactical station. The hostile interlopers were above and ahead relative to
The deck lurched again. Senior tactical officer Lieutenant Malcolm Lee called out. “Sir! That ship doesn’t match any known configuration. Definitely familiar technologically in its design and power emissions, but nothing even remotely similar in the database. Seven hundred thousand kilometers and closing—and his lasers have quite the sting, Commander!”
Aaron had moved from the tactical station, took the command chair, and adjusted display panels on either side of the seat, which would give him basic information from
Another piercing sound emitted from the bridge speakers, a new alarm.
“Polarization on the outer armor is buckling,” Lee reported. “They’ll start burning into our forward section any moment.”
Time to punch back.
“Helm,” Aaron said. “Come about one-eighty relative to target and ahead flank speed. Get us some distance. We’ve felt their sting. Let’s see what they’ve got for speed.”
“Aye, sir. Coming about one-eighty relative—flank speed,” Ensign Yuri ‘Flaps’ Miroslav said. He looked almost too young to be at the helm of a starship. His eyes were youthful and curious. He had a boyish grin on his face at the strangest times.
Raiders in advanced starships? Aaron couldn’t make sense of it, but it was sure to puzzle the men and women at Fleet Intelligence. He had to get away from these attackers and aid the freighter. Lengthy delays might mean higher casualties if the raider damaged its life support systems. Families crewed and resided on many freighters. It was their home. Much like the
He shook thoughts of the future away.
“Lieutenant Lee, deploy starboard and port railgun batteries, keep forward and rear tucked away for now.” He studied the approach of these brazen bandits—the general brute force of their attack was not standard starship combat tactics. But
Alvarez took his station beside him.
Aaron looked over at him. “Vee, clearly they’re relying on the assumption their ship is superior and we’re a mere fly to be swatted with disdain,” he said.
Alvarez cupped his chin. He was an indispensable Executive Officer and a true friend. “I see no fault in your conclusion, Aaron. They simply pounced like a wild animal from the brush. There’s not a trace of tactics or strategy in their approach. But it’s having quite the effect.”
Aaron grunted. “For now . . . those laser strikes were never going to penetrate reinforced armor from the distance they struck. Something isn’t all right with this scenario in more ways than one.”
“That much is certain,” the XO said. “Either they’re reckless or they’re untrained in the intricacies of starship combat. But what if we’re wrong somehow?”
“I’ve been wrong before. Better to choose a strong course of action and stick to it and adapt, than allow indecision to drain the intensity from your actions.”
“Sounds like an all-or-nothing approach, Commander,” Alvarez said. “Some would call it reckless.”
Aaron flashed a wide grin. “Effective.” He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Our priority is the freighter. Either we force the hostiles to disengage or we destroy them. There’s no other outcome. I won’t let them get this one. Not this time.”
Lee interrupted them. “Both targets have come about now and are increasing speed, Commander. Distance eight hundred thousand kilometers. They’re faster than us. High accelerati ...