Hello you lovely 21st century people!
I'm back with another story for you.
This took place several weeks after the end of the War, and it was... well, read the story.
"Direwolf 1314, report."
I grumbled at the comms, but I knew I couldn't ignore them. Danni would just send a message through my implant if I didn't answer, and...
"Direwolf 1314, all systems green." My ship's AI answered before I could make up my mind.
Brie would have grinned if she could. "I was tired of hearing her, boss. You okay?"
It was true. Flying my Direwolf was supposed to be my escape from the political mess building a new nation entailed. I loved the idea, but I'd never been much for details. Planning? That was for other people. I was best at the pointy end.
Unfortunately, as the face, and voice, of the Terran Federation, everyone looked at me for leadership.
And I didn't know shit about how to put a government together.
Sure, I talked with Cass, but my wife was busy. She was overseeing the final fitting-out of the newest ship in the fleet, the TFS Constitution, and no detail was too small. The fact it was her command, her first command, may have played a part in her diligence.
The net result was my usual sounding board was unavailable. The rest of my ohana were just as busy with their own parts of the growing Federation.
So I enlisted.
More or less.
Maybe I told Danni I was going to fly patrols over Luna and there wasn't a Zeus-blessed thing she could do about it, Commander.
Which led, inevitably, to the position we were in now.
"1314, put Cassidy on." Danni was stuck in an awkward position. If she called me Admiral, she couldn't give me orders. If she called me Kendra, she was taking unwanted informality.
Brie's shrug was in her voice. "One moment, Commander."
"Thanks for trying, Brie. Put her through." There was a pause and the quality of the audio changed. "Cassidy here."
I'll give Danni this. I knew she was pissed at me, found me irritating in the extreme, and wished I kept my brass ass back on Njord, but except for a tightness in her tone nobody would have known.
"No activity detected, Nymeria Actual." Danni, as Deputy Commander Attack Group, didn't have a squadron any longer. She'd retained her former call sign when Nymeria squadron was disbanded, though, and used it on the infrequent occasions she got into the black. "Scopes clear." Just as they have been since the War ended.
"Don't get lazy, 1314."
"Nymeria Actual, out."
Flying a dozen kilometers above Luna's surface was challenging, from a technical perspective, but boring. Simply put, since the surrender, there weren't any targets. Even though I was a retired assassin, I didn't enjoy killing people, whether in person or from the cockpit of a Direwolf. I couldn't deny the thrill of the hunt, the surge of adrenaline I got when I was in the middle of a kill-or-be-killed furball.
I missed it.
Brie's voice pulled me out of my reverie.
"Missile launch! Big fucker and fast!"
Missile launch? What the Hades...?
"Confirm that!" Fuck, fuck! "Danni!"
"I see it, Kendra." Her professionalism calmed me. "Do you have a course for it yet?"
Brie anticipated the request and had it on my heads-up display. "It's leaving Luna in a hurry." I shut off the mic. "Brie, are you sure about that heading?"
"Unless it does one hell of a jink? Yes."
It didn't make sense, but Brie wasn't likely to be wrong. "Danni, we have it on course for Earth."
"Are you in position to intercept? The squadron is spread out to hell and gone in the wrong direction." Direwolves were the fastest sublight ships in space, but Newton always got his way. If you were traveling in the other direction, you weren't going to turn immediately.
"What about a Defiant?"
I heard Danni's headshake. "Already commed Admiral Whitmore. Nike is on rehab, Defender II's crew is on leave, and Defiant is docked with a Martian cargo ship doing an inspection. No joy."
And I knew Endeavour and Enterprise were out of the system. No warp-capable ships were going to come to our rescue. Looked like it was up to us.
"We'll catch it." Intercept. Right. Oh, we were already on course to intercept. When did that happen? Funny how the body will take over from the brain.
Fuck, that thing was moving fast.
"Brie?" I tried forcing more power out of the engines. From the numbers Brie was sending me, this missile was pushing nearly six hundred g's, which would be a problem for any other Direwolf. I'd...tinkered. More like, I'd gotten my electronic henchwoman to tinker. We could match its speed, but we were out of position.
It was going to be close.
"Compensators maxed, boss."
I felt it. The compensators negated most of the impact of the thrust we were putting out, but six gravities anchored me to my seat.
"Can we catch it?" At 600 g, it wouldn't take long for the missile to plunge into the Earth.
"But?" I was pretty good at reading what she didn't say.
"Boss, that thing's stuffed with antimatter."
"Are you...? No, of course you're sure. How much?"
"Enough to put a hole in the world."
That upped the stakes. Any antimatter that got into Earth's atmosphere would detonate as devastatingly as if the missile landed.
Fuck. I'm not as smart as my wife, but I can figure things out, especially at an instinctive level. I could see we'd intercept the missile, but far too close to the planet for my liking. But we had a chance, if...
"Take the safeties offline."
"They're called safeties for a reason, Boss. I don't want them to clean your guts out of your chair."
"And if you take them offline we get another ten percent top accel, which means we intercept fifty kiloklicks from atmosphere instead of ten. Do it."
"Taking them offline."
See you in two weeks!
In the meantime, here's a couple books for you on deal!