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With a long, risky jump like this, Dejanus would have expected Corregidor’s astrogational AI to take at least ten minutes to aim the ship as precisely as possible to the distant star’s center. She was therefore surprised and somewhat alarmed when the flagship signaled to the rest of the fleet that they could start to match her trajectory after only half that time.
“Goddammit, what’s the rush?” she said to Koenig who was the only other human on the Bridge. “There’s no possible way the Jab fleet can catch us before we jump, even if we take another hour to do it. Why not take a few extra minutes to get the most accurate trajectory possible?” When it became clear that Koenig had nothing to say, she continued. “Astro, I want you to check the flagship’s alignment with Alpha9 while we match vectors. Let me know if you think the flagship’s vector could be better.” That extra task delayed Excalibur’s alignment, and therefore she became the last ship in the fleet to signal her readiness for the jump.
“Fleet Commander on Tac2, Commander,” said the com AI.
Dejanus switched channels to her Command Pod. “Excalibur Actual speaking,” said Dejanus in the formal form of address that ship COs normally didn’t bother with.
“What’s taking your Astro so long to get aligned, Commander?” Rostov didn’t bother to hide his annoyance.
“Just double-checking the overall jump trajectory, Admiral.” Dejanus thought she heard Rostov swear under his breath, but it could have been her imagination.
“You tell your Astro that if Excalibur isn’t aligned in the next two minutes, I’ll order him replaced and transferred to a cargo hauler. FC out!”
The astro AI managed to get the ship aligned within the deadline to no one’s surprise. With all ships in the fleet now aligned perfectly with the flagship and jump velocity attained, the order was given to enter hyperspace.
It was 131.3 hours later when both Koenig and Dejanus were on the Bridge again watching the jump chronometer countdown to the second when the ship should drop back down into normal space. Koenig watched the countdown clock hit zero and then start counting up again. After ten more seconds, Dejanus began shaking her head. She had a horrified expression on her face.
“We’ve missed. That bastard has killed us all.”
Genre categories: space fleet, military SF, space opera, galactic empire, alien invasion, first contact, space exploration.