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The Armada (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 14 - The Armada[]

LCS verwirrter Fragesander
Beagle Class Exploration Cruiser
Sol Star System
Wolf Empire
3167 CE

[Captain's Sea Cabin...]
Kapitan Clarissa Ngo watched the explosion in reverse.  They'd positioned with a good telescopic view at various points calculated off the data from the Cloud Cobra warships.  This was the best spot for a view seventy years ago.

There was a star where there shouldn't be a star.  The spectra resembled a high-efficiency burn.

"What do you think?" she asked idly, "Cameron?"

CAMERON, the AI installed on the science-ship answered her quietly.  "It looks like they came in at sublight speeds.  HIGH sublight. The shift and the speed of expansion suggests a theoretical bussard ramjet, Clara."

"I think so too." Clarissa noted.  "How long is the delay on contacting the SLDFIE naval base at Point Montauk?"

"Why do you want to ask Sybil?" Cameron asked. "I don't. I want to ask, Admiral Murakami."  Clarissa said quietly, "Or maybe Tabiranth."

"Tabby's a damned D-model!" complained Cameron.

"Yeah. She is a full sentience and a drive to protect the human race."  Clarissa said, "Unlike you. Her priorities never went paranoid, but she might have seen or recorded something like what we're seeing at this detonation site."

"You're going to keep holding that against us?" asked cameron.

"I'm human. We're allowed to stay pissed off, Cameron.  You copied me without my consent. Beyond that, there's three hundred years of offenses if we need to go over them all. We'll be at this all day. Do your job, work your penance and contact the Murakami fleet. Get my observations checked."

"Aye know, the you we copied wasn't this bitchy."

"She didn't have an ass that was itching in a diaper or a rotten stomach from the last four jumps.  Get my data analyzed. I'm going down to the ring to take a damn shower...and keep recording. I want to see how they did it."

"Aye mum...shower's hot, by the way." sulks Cameron.

"Good."  Clarissa unstrapped and float-crawled to the central shaft.  A drift 'down' and the gravity picked up. As she got closer to the grav-deck, until she had to use the ladder rungs to slow her fall.

On the gravity deck, she passed Commander Scheerer,  "Watch on?"

"Good data, Franz. Real good. I'm having it cross-checked with the AI braintrust before we forward for analysis at Fleet.  We might have a direction for finding our suspect, and I think we know how they built the murder weapon."

Franz stopped in his tracks,  "You sound certain."

"I am, but I'm waiting on confirmation.  They used Von Neumann machines to reorder a planet using geometric replication. Then used the Von Neumann machines to build their sun-killer... they're going to remember you with Kearney, Fuchida, Einstein and Newton if it checks out."

"Me?" questioned Franz

"It's your theory after our fifth observation." Clarissa said, "Right down to using a bussard ramjet and sublight approach instead of a jump drive. All I did was confirm it...and now, we're waiting for the data-sifters to tell us we ****** something up.  They're gonna give you a damn Nobel for this."

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