Action Stations by William Forstchen

Action Stations by William Forstchen

Author:William Forstchen [Forstchen, William]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2011-03-14T00:00:00+00:00


Chapter Nine

KILRAH

CONFEDERATION DATE 2634.220

The alarm for jump transit sounded. Jukaga sat and strapped himself into his chair. The excitement on the bridge was electric as the admiral’s staff and helm officers secured themselves and then started to break into their battle chants.

Jukaga looked up at the view screen. To port he could just barely make out the pinpoint of reddish light that was Kilrah. It disappeared from view as a heavy battleship, theKitagki , swung in behind them. A swarm of nearly a hundred ships was gathered at the jump point; light frigates, destroyers, transports, courier vessels, intelligence surveillance ships, supply vessels, fuel tankers, mine layers, and heavy landing assault craft. It would take the better part of a day for the ships to complete transit through the jump point. It was one of the advantages, though, of being on the admiral’s flagship that there was no waiting for access to a jump point. As soon as his vessel arrived, a way was cleared for him and the other battleships traveling in line astern.

The only ones who had gone ahead were the forward picket ships and the Crown Prince’s six carriers.

Jukaga still felt a ripple of resentment over what his father had done. He should be on the carrierUkshika rather than a hanger-on to Nargth’s staff. The glory was to be found in a fighter, and in his feverish dreams he had imagined himself leading the first strike in to destroy an enemy carrier. Instead, he had to endure the quiet stares of contempt from the admiral’s staff, for they undoubtedly knew that he had been given the position because of influence and some undoubtedly suspected that he was a coward who did not want to fight.

There was a small part of him now that wondered if indeed there might not be some validity to the accusation. Yes, he did want to fight, but he could not help but wonder against whom he should fight.

The jump alert rose to a high quavering tone and snapped off. An instant later the image in the view screens wavered, distorted, and then snapped off. Jukaga felt his stomach heave as artificial gravity was lost. There was a sickening sense that somehow he was being ripped apart as their ship slipped through a fold in space. What was strange was the feeling that it was impossible to judge the actual time. Ships’ chronometers registered that the jump was instantaneous, yet one’s own senses argued differently, that there was a frightful sensation that the jump, if it had gone slightly awry, might have stretched into an eternity of endless falling. On rare occasions something would indeed go wrong. Usually a spray of debris would eject out the other side, or the ship would simply disappear forever. It was often a source of macabre speculation just prior to a jump.

The sensation of falling dropped away with a sickening lurch. For a brief moment it was impossible to focus as Jukaga looked up at the screen. He could see the jump nav specialist already leaning forward in his chair, checking the coordinates.



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