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The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye (Cover Art)

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Chapter 49 - The Glow of a Worm inside a Child's Eye[]

The alert came over black box on August 5, 3050...

..."it says, 'do not continue to Blackjack, Confirmed Jade Falcon forces burning in to the system'." RTO Jenny Cohen lowered the offprint. "it's pretty explicit, Milady."

Elizabeth scowled from the navigation station. "does it give probable enemy force sizes?" she asked.

"It's a warning order, they aren't going to give intelligence like that in a warning order." Tabby's remote stated from the captain's station. "AFFC is being very, very clear here."

"My brother is on that planet." Elizabeth stated coldly. "Likely the brothers and sisters of thousands of other Lyrans are also there, and that isn't counting the civilians, we know what they're after."

"Elizabeth Anne NGO!! What is the first rule!?" the PA in the command deck echoed Tabiranth's scolding.

"If you can't afford to lose it, you can't afford to use it...rules, are worthless if they don't help." the girl hissed back, "They attack, and we fall back. They conquer, and we fall back. Every time because it's the 'smart' move or the 'safe' move...we fall back. The Generals...I'm losing confidence. We have to fight them sooner or later and the longer we wait the less we have to fight with and we keep falling back!!"

"This is perilously close to outright rebellion, Baroness. The Archon knows what she's doing-"

"That's not her brother down there. That order is a general order, Tabiranth." Elizabeth muttered darkly, "I'm a civilian...and so are you." she turned to the XO. "Does anyone here think we should let one more world fall without a fight? a real fight?"

"What are you doing?", Sam Daimh asked.

"Simple enough XO, I am the baroness of the Kowloon system, this vessel is sworn to the Coast Guard, and I am asserting my rights as your Liege Lord-we are going to aid the defense of Blackjack, and if necessary, provide cover for the retreat in the event we can't hold it...but we're not leaving a Lyran world to be defended by an unsupported cadet Battalion and sunday-soldier militia!!" she clenched her fist, "Or, you can place me under arrest and do what the planners at Mount Asgard want you to do."

"Captain?" Samantha looked up at the bridge Camera, "Do you support the Baroness in this matter?"

The AI processed all the likely outcomes. "I will only support this if I have command rights in the battle, without exception." the machine said, "That means I give the orders and everyone, including you, Elizabeth, obeys."

"What are your orders, Captain?" Samantha asked.

"Everyone suit up, skinsuits and the vessel goes to condition one." Tabiranth stated, "Just like we've trained. I'm currently checking with the rest of the patrol. We will have Sampan IIIs in Escort for this mission. CGS Patricia Nuevo-Pueblo is to advance to non-standard point position to gain overwatch on the enemy force. We need to know how many ships they have, that should take half an hour or so, so everyone suit up...if we're really doing this."

"We are." Elizabeth stated. Samantha muttered something in her native Gaelic, then, "Aye, the crew is with you...we're gonna die, aren't we?"

"Not if I can help it...but we may all be facing arrest and trial when it's over." Tabiranth stated, "and there are likely to be consequences beyond that...get suited up, we're going to be running hard vacuum when we hit the system."

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