Ah, a quiet patrol for Captain Stewart and the Endeavour.
They had some, believe it or not!
I know, it seems like all Adam writes about is the exciting stuff, and I understand why. He could probably fill a book with nothing but fluff and filler, with all the minutiae involved in the day-to-day running of an organization like Starfleet. Moreover, he might even be able to make it interesting!
But it wouldn’t move anything along.
So why this chapter?
Well, you’d have to ask Adam, but I think it’s trying to show a ‘normal’ routine for both the Federation and for Artemis, so when things go sideways the reader has more of a sense of the issues involved.
In any case, enough from me.
Don’t forget to enter to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Triumph’s Ashes! This is an Author’s Proof copy, one of the preliminary copies Adam receives to check for errors and proper typesetting and all that other felgercarb (don’t ask me, I just tell the stories, he has to write them down and do the fiddly bits). The contest runs until August 14, so don’t hesitate, enter today! Click the Rafflecopter button below. And you can also buy your own copy of the book if you’re tired of waiting for chapters by either clicking the BUY ME NOW button or any cover image.
“All stations report ready for departure,” Sanzari announced.
“Very good, Number One. Hecate.”
“Captain?” answered the AI.
“Endeavour is ready for departure on your clearance.”
“Go ahead, Captain. She’s all yours.”
Kiri and Candice exchanged a look. Hecate was a masterful operations manager for all of the construction and ships which teemed through her bays, but she absolutely refused to adhere to what either of them thought of as propriety.
“Thank you, Hecate. Endeavour out.” Kiri checked her telltales, then said to Candice, “Take her out.”
“Aye, Captain. Ensign Furber, take us out.”
“Yes, ma’am,” said the helmswoman. The massive ship came to life as her hands danced over the controls, and the view through the bridge window started to change.
“Cleared docking clamps. Thirty seconds to bay doors,” reported Furber. Though she had only recently gone through the accelerated Academy, her voice was confident and steady.
“Very good, Ensign.” Sanzari’s voice matched Furber’s confidence. “Captain, course?”
“Our orders are to patrol, Number One. What course does that suggest to you?”
Sanzari answered immediately. “Our sensors can cover the entire system, so we could theoretically be anywhere within the heliopause and still detect an incursion by Artemis forces. I’d suggest, though, a racetrack course between the orbits of Mars and Venus, above and below the ecliptic, and ahead of Luna’s orbit.”
“Why?” Kiri knew exactly why, and was pleased that her XO had come to the same conclusion, but she was a strong believer in professional development whenever possible.
“We can maintain full sublight for the entire course, allowing us to respond in minutes. If we have to go to warp, we can do that as well and be back to defend in seconds. Staying ahead of the orbit is simply sensible.”
Kiri nodded. “You’re exactly right. Make it so, Number One.”
Sanzari grinned. She’d spent time viewing the old ‘television shows’ that so inspired the Admiral as well, and that particular catchphrase had become something of a private joke between her and her commander. “Yes, ma’am. Ensign, when we’re clear of the bay, set course for Venus orbit, twenty light-seconds South of the ecliptic, full sublight.”
“Venus orbit, twenty light-seconds South, full sublight. Aye, ma’am.”
“Lieutenant Leard, bring the shields online. Fifty percent power. Lasers to standby.”
“Shields online, half power. Lasers to standby, aye.”
“Let’s do this,” Kiri said. “And God help any Artemis bastard that gets in our way.”
“We have a new departure from the habitat.”
Midori Gillaspy-Chang wasn’t really a commander; she was merely the most senior of the techs assigned to the shifts in the long-range tracking room. However, as they reported to both the Solarian Union and the Artemis navies, the honorific was added to ease communication up the chain. Gillaspy-Chang had been doing this for thirteen years, four more than the next technician, and so felt that she had earned some sort of recognition.
“Do we have recognition?”
“Yes, Commander. It’s their new starship.”
Gillaspy-Chang’s eyes widened at that. The original starship had become a commonplace sight in the skies around Luna over the past several months, and they had fairly well measured its characteristics and capabilities. The new ship, though, was another matter. It had only started venturing out from the confines of its construction cradle in the past weeks, and hadn’t done much when it had.
“Do we have anyone in the area who can get a closer look?”
The tech, Juan Chantaca, “The Roosa is returning from the Guild outpost on Vespa; she may be able to alter course.”
No Artemis ship could keep up with the starships if they wanted to evade. For the most part, though, they seemed content to maintain fifty to sixty thousand kilometers’ separation. If you asked the various ships’ captains candidly, they would have agreed with that whole-heartedly. Everyone remembered what the Enterprise did to the Brahe and nobody wanted a repeat occurrence. Nobody actually in a navy ship, at least.
“I’ll contact the Admiralty and see if we can’t shake it loose, officially. Meanwhile, contact their captain and pass on our request.”
Chantaca started to reply, then cut off at a new signal from his monitor. “That won’t be necessary.”
“What do you mean?”
“They just took off in-system at eighty percent of light. They’re gone, ma’am.”
Gillaspy-Chang swore under her breath. It was one thing to know you were outclassed in a fight; it was another to have that thrown back in your face over and over again.
As if reading her thoughts, Chantaca said, “I can’t wait for our starships to come online. Then we’ll finally be able to take the fight to these arrogant pricks.”
“Don’t hold your breath, Juan,” she advised. “My scuttlebutt is that Minister Crozier is scrapping the ship that they had started, and started refitting the three new battlewagons. Something about the new genius from Earth and her warp drive.”
“Three? We’ll kick their ass!”
“Maybe. Even if it works, it’s still months away, and then there’s the little problem of their weapons.”
“They don’t have missiles,” insisted Juan stubbornly.
“No, they don’t, not that we know of. And how much good did our missiles actually do when we fought them?”
She had been on duty when the second battle had occurred. She’d seen how ineffective their Tycho and Huygens missiles were against their defenses, and couldn’t imagine that the Scimitar-class dreadnoughts, for all their increased throw weight, would actually be able to swamp the defenses on their new habitat.
“I don’t know,” he admitted. “But we have to do something!”
“Yes,” she agreed. “Keep tracking them. Record it all, and then we’re going to send it all off to MinTech, just like we do every time.”