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Strategos (A Great Captain Roberts Tale!!)

Chapter 24 - Around the Maypole (part Two)

"The trouble will come with the…

…gravitational influences as we get closer," Larry explained. "A gas giant has a LOT of gravity, and we're going to be passing into that influence. There's going to be side-loads on the ship and everyone & everything, aboard."

People were putting on their pressure suits as well, and checking stations, locking down loose equipment, and generally preparing for what was going to be happening in just under two hours.

"Status on the Lynnwood, Mister Samuel?" Amanda asked. She'd not bothered unsuiting after her little walk on the nose of the ship.

"They're almost at turnover, Captain, another hundred twenty minutes at current vector and accel."

"Very good. Lori, we ready to update Illusive?"

"We're ready."

"Do it. Then get suited up, the extra protection might be needed."

"Aye, skipper."

"I wonder…" Samuel almost murmured.

"What, Sam?" she asked.

"I wonder how much loose hardware is rattling on the Lynnwood," he said. "I mean, we are securing everything we can find, the inertial drag, planet's gravity and our own engine power are going to kind of demand it, but what about those guys? Do you think they'll think about this?"

"I expect they will," Amanda commented. "I thought of it, if I thought of it, then they're probably already coming up with a plan to deal with the same thing."

"Difference, Ma'am," Samuel observed.

"What difference?"

'You're crazy," he said. "The other guy might not be."

"Well, I am the greatest THAT guy's ever going to see," she agreed. "Humble about it, too."

Everyone on the CIC deck either cracked up, or had to suppress it.

At first, it looked like…

…lunacy. Or it would, to a man NOT trained by Clan Snow Raven. The Evanescent was going to make a pass so close to the gas giant that normally she'd be in danger of being snagged by the gravity.

At that range, it was scraping the body's magnetosphere, where particulate density is higher than ten atoms per cubic meter.

But then you have to do the math, and Dave Foster was good at the math, he could even envision what she was hoping to lure the Essex II class Lynnwood into. The difference in mass and velocity, if the Lynnwood didn't break off, and insisted on matching frame of reference, they'd line up…

In the upper reaches of the gas giant's atmosphere, where shock plasma would blind their sensors at range, screw with any fighters they had launched, and generally degrade performance…

For both ships, the mass difference matters here. The Evanescent could cut engines at that height and coast, and all that would happen is a slingshot.

For the more massive Destroyer? Well…at the same velocity they'd be in danger. Just enough friction and flux to start losing altitude-something you do not want. The Essex's captain would have to flip-back and thrust out, or risk being a more permanent tourist in the upper reaches of a gas giant's storm-tossed atmosphere.

Inertia isn't the thing here-it's gravity, and that cancels a LOT of inertia, even more when you have atmospheric friction and magnetic fields that generate lightning the size of moons.

"He will have to break off, or thrust out-and he will have to start thrusting out early if he wants to survive breaking off."

"Comms, send acknowledge last update, and let them know we know they'll be out of contact after they hit Hour Five and forty five."

"Aye, sir."

Her vector and angle told him his plan would put him in place to be in play while the enemy was blind and fighting gravity.

"All stations secure for jump in thirty minutes."

"Cancel thrust and begin turnover!

The mass of a prime mover lifted from Bart Inslee's chest, and he could breathe again. "CAG?"

"On it, Lord Captain! Squadron is prepped and ready for launch on your order." The man looked positively worn.

Bart took a hit from his stim-pak, feeling renewed strength from the neopervatin dose. "Alright, stand by for turnover in three…two…one…"

There was the lurch as the ship rotated end-for-end. "Launch fighters!"

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