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Best Served Cold (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 7 - Best Served Cold[]

Zenith Jump Point, Cabanatuan System
October 31st, 3050

"I'm detecting ships, this jump point!" the sensor operator called.

"IDs." Star Commodore Romina said tersely.  "Set Condition One."

The lights on bridge shifted to alert status.  "Coming in now.  They are ours.  The Ashes of Remembrance, the Widows Made, the Switchback with DropShips Den Mother, Minnesota, and Wide Range, and. . ." the operator trailed off, swallowing hard before continuing.  "..and the Sarah McEvedy."

Shifting her gaze to the holotank, Lilly nodded.  It was, indeed, the Sarah McEvedyClan Wolverine had only one Cameron-class battlecruiser.  The plans had been found in the Castle Brian in this very system, and with a working knowledge of the upgrades planned for the vessels that left in the Exodus, the Wolverines had been able to build their own, though they lacked the resources for more than one.

Cameron Class Battlecruiser (Delranes Fighting Ships 3061 - Matt Plog)

Cameron Class Battlecruiser, Sarah McEvedy

The other ships were the Lola III & Whirlwind destroyers, and a Invader Jumpship, forming a respectable flotilla with the flagship for the Khan of Clan Wolverine.

"I didn't know the Khan would come in person." Romina whispered.

Lilly was amazed herself, but realized she shouldn't be surprised in the slightest.

"Transmission from the flagship." comms spoke up.  "The Khan requests the presence of Star Captain Lilly McEvedy, quote, as soon as the spots are gone."

Star Commodore Romina looked quizzically at Lilly.  "I guess you had best get moving."

Lilly declined to explain the Khan's choice of words, simply saluting and making for the small craft bay.

-Thirty Minutes Later-

Lilly knocked on the door, which was emblazoned with the Clan Wolverine crest, the rank emblem of Khan, and a nameplate.  Upon hearing the call of "Enter." from within, she opened the door and stepped inside.

The office was exactly as she remembered it, sparse and austere, with nothing not immediately necessary for the duties of a Khan within.  It was the perfect reflection of the woman behind the desk.

Lilly knew the sharp-featured face as well as she knew her own, recognized the close-cropped brilliant blonde hair, two shades lighter than Lilly's longer tresses, starting to come in gray.  The immaculate uniform, every crease and plait in perfect place, and neatly organized desk spoke to the woman's unyielding discipline and authority, and always made Lilly feel slovenly by comparison.

"You asked to see me, my Khan?"

"I did, Star Captain.  Be seated."  It was an order, not an invitation.  Lilly sat.

"I have read your reports.  You have done remarkably well with remarkably little.  I will bring another Trinary of 'Mechs and combat vehicles, more Ferals, supplies, munitions, techs, and facilities to continue your campaign.  Behind me, additional forces are coming to turn this into a proper staging area and set up a supply line to let you strike as deep into the Occupation Zones as you wish."

"Excellent, my Khan, thank you."

Drawing a small box from a drawer in the desk, the Khan continued.  "You will now be commanding a larger force, and your combat and leadership abilities are beyond reproach.  Congratulations, Star Colonel."

"Thank you." Lilly said, opening the box and gazing at her new rank insignia. She looked up to see the Khan watching her expectantly.  "Was there something else?"

The Khan paused for a time.  "How are you, Lilly?"

Lilly stiffened.  "You have read my reports.  You said yourself, I was doing fine."

"I'm not talking about your reports or your military achievements.  I'm asking how you are."

"I am fine."

"Lilly--" her bother tried to ask

"Mother, I'm fine."

"You've lost people, infantry, vehicle crew.  Those deaths don't bother you?" she asked her

"I haven't asked anyone in this unit to do anything I'm not prepared to do.  I've fought beside them every time."  Lilly opened her uniform jacket, pulling it aside to show the fresh scar marring the ornate tattoo that ran across her collarbones.  "I've bled beside them and I'll keep doing it as long as it takes."

"As long as what takes?  Every war needs an objective, Lilly, what's yours?"

Lilly opened her mouth to reply, then clamped it shut.  Revenge, she'd been about to say.  Make them pay, make them bleed, do to them what they tried to do to us, and wipe every last one of them from the universe.

And become the monster they believe me to be.

"I don't know." she finally admitted.

"Disappointing.  I suggest -- and as your Khan, command -- you figure it out.  Quickly."

"Yes, my Khan." she formally answered her

"Dismissed." her Khan commanded her

Outside the Khan's office, Lilly looked at the nameplate on the door.  Khan Jennifer McEvedy Walter.  Walter. Her mother's Bloodname, and the one Lilly hoped to earn one day.  It commemorated not one of the warriors who had founded Clan Wolverine under Nicholas Kerensky, but one of the seventy-eight survivors of the Annihilation who had hid in the jungles of Barbados.  It was to honor them, and because of the necessity of honoring them, that she fought.

Wasn't it?

Stewing and fuming in her own thoughts, Lilly trudged back to the Sarah McEvedy's shuttle bay.

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