home | login | register | DMCA | contacts | help | donate |      

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
А Б В Г Д Е Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Э Ю Я


my bookshelf | genres | recommend | rating of books | rating of authors | reviews | new | форум | collections | читалки | авторам | add

Loading...



* * *


HMS Hexapuma and HMS Warlock emerged from the central terminus of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction, exactly one T-year from the day Midshipwoman Helen Zilwicki, Midshipman Aikawa Kagiyama, and Midshipwoman Ragnhild Pavletic had reported aboard her. Now Ensign Zilwicki sat beside Lieutenant Senior Grade Abigail Hearns at Tactical. Naomi Kaplan would live, and return to duty, but her injuries had been so severe that she'd been returned to Manticore for treatment months ago. Abigail was undoubtedly too junior for permanent duty as a Saganami-C -class heavy cruiser's tactical officer, but Captain Terekhov had flatly refused to allow anyone to replace her before Hexapuma's return to Manticore.

Helen was glad. And she was glad some other people were still aboard, as well.

She glanced over her shoulder and hid a broad mental smile as her eye met Paulo's. Ansten FitzGerald had been less severely wounded than Kaplan, but although he'd been permitted to return to active duty for Hexapuma's voyage back to Manticore, he was still in obvious pain and more than a little shaky. That wasn't especially amusing to anyone who knew and respected the Exec, but watching Aikawa Kagiyama hovering-unobtrusively, he undoubtedly imagined-in the background while he kept an anxious eye on FitzGerald certainly was.

"Message from Invictus , Sir," Amal Nagchaudhuri announced.

"Yes?" Terekhov turned his command chair to face the communications officer. HMS Invictus was the flagship of Home Fleet, no doubt in orbit about the planet of Manticore.

"Message begins," Nagchaudhuri began, and something in his tone made Helen look at him sharply.

"'To Captain Aivars Terekhov and the men and women of HMS Hexapuma and HMS Warlock , from Admiral of the Green Sebastian D'Orville, Commanding Officer, Home Fleet. Well done.' Message ends."

Helen frowned, but before the message had time to sink in, the main tactical display changed abruptly. In one perfectly synchronized moment, forty-two superdreadnoughts, sixteen CLACs, twelve battlecruisers, thirty-six heavy and light cruisers, thirty-two destroyers, and over a thousand LACs, activated their impeller wedges. They appeared on the display like lightning flickering outward from a common center, a stupendous globe thousands of kilometers in diameter, and Hexapuma and Warlock were at its exact center.

Helen recognized that formation. She'd seen it before. Every man and woman in Navy uniform had seen it, once every year, on Coronation Day, when Home Fleet passed in review before the Queen… with its flagship in exactly the position Hexapuma and Warlock now held.

Even as she stared at the display, another icon appeared upon it. The crowned, golden icon of HMS Duke of Cromarty , the ship which had replaced the murdered HMS Queen Adrienne as the royal yacht, sitting just beyond the threshold of the Junction. A Junction, Helen sudden realized, which had been cleared of -shipping- all shipping-except for Home Fleet itself.

The vast globe accelerated towards Cromarty , matching its acceleration rate exactly to Hexapuma's, holding formation on the heavy cruiser and her single escort, and the raised wedge of every ship in that huge formation flashed off and then on again in the traditional underway salute to a fleet flagship.

"Additional message, Sir," Nagchaudhuri said. He stopped and cleared his throat, then continued, and despite his throat clearing, his voice seemed to waver about the edges.

"Message begins. 'Yours is the honor.'" He looked up from his display, meeting Aivars Terekhov's eyes.

"Message ends, Sir," he said softly.


Epilogue | The Shadow of Saganami | The Shadow of Saganami:







Loading...