Pilgrim Stars by Peter Telep

Pilgrim Stars by Peter Telep

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

Chapter 13

Vega Sector, Day Quadrant

CS Tiger Claw

High Orbit, Netheranya


0900 Hours Confederation Standard Time

“Relayed drone message from the Concordia coming through now, sir,” Comm Officer Zabrowsky reported.

Gerald nodded sharply. “Decrypt and route to OS station two.”

“Aye, sir. Decryption in progress.” The freckle-faced boy swiveled back to his instruments. “Routing to OS two.”

As Gerald pulled his tired frame to the portside observation station, he muttered, “It’s about time.”

The Tiger Claw had reached Netheranya three standard days ago and had assumed a high orbit of the mottled brown world whose oceans comprised only ten percent of her total area. Gerald had sent off a drone to Naval Station Gemini near the Enyo system to inform the admiral that they were at station. Gemini would in turn send off a jump-capable drone to the Concordia , now orbiting McDaniel’s World.

Intership, long-distance drone communications did little more than snail along, but the Hell’s Kitchen system stood in an area of space known as the Vega cluster, with Enyo, McAuliffe, Dieno, Pephedro, Blackmane, and Cambria all within the grid and just a single jump away. With so many systems in the area,

Gerald had assumed there would be other fleet operations within direct communications range. They had detected and contacted several Confed merchant and cargo vessels as well as several civilian and commercial transports, but they had failed to find any capital ships from the 14th Fleet. Gerald had grown a bit unnerved by the prospect of the Claw , the Mitchell Hammock , and theOregon being the only capital ships within half of Day Quadrant. He wondered why the admiral had spread the fleet so thinly, and he hoped the communique would explain that.

Appearing to be his usual impeccable self, Tolwyn gave his customary nod of acknowledgment and said, “Sorry for the delay, Mr. Gerald. We’ll get right to it. Interstellar probes detected a Kilrathi battle group between Lafayette and Tamayo systems. The cats are obviously after theOlympus . I’ve dispatched six strike carriers with orders to find and destroy that battle group. In the meantime, we’re going to call Captain Aristee’s bluff. At this moment, nearly one hundred CF-20 ConCom ships are deploying drones throughout Vega sector. Each drone will broadcast a long-range transmission for Captain Aristee. I’ve attached a copy of the transmission for your review. In sum, she is ordered to surrender her vessel—otherwise every Pilgrim system and enclave within Confederation territory will be destroyed and all surviving Pilgrims within our borders will be arrested and imprisoned until she stands down. That last part won’t be too difficult since many of those Pilgrims have already sought shelter in designated camps.”

Gerald paused the message. Had the admiral lost his mind? Yes, he might be calling Aristee’s bluff, but if he actually ordered the destruction, he would be personally responsible for the deaths of billions. The senate would hang him. It took a moment more for Gerald to realize what Tolwyn had done, and he smiled inwardly. The senate probably had no idea of the admiral’s plan.


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