Chapter 6: Andrew John

3.4K 384 112

Valeri's mouth hung open in disbelief. The holographic recreation was paused at the moment the massive ship was unleashing it's fury on the little pirate fighter.

"My team fell back to the salvage ship, collected the pilots of our disabled fighters and burned straight out of Jupiter's orbit." He paused dramatically, pointing at the larger ship. "It has no engines. At least none that I recognize. There are no exhaust ports, no flares. It just moves without any visible means of propulsion. We ran the data by one of our research teams. Had we not, I would still believe that this ship was not of human origin." He paused again and his eyes swept the four members of the room. "But it's Terran. Of that we are certain. Closer observation shows that construction elements such as screws, bolts, and glass are all in use. That, however is not what you paid for, as exciting as it is."

Using a keypad on the conference table, John rolled the recording back and pointed to one of the ships as it left the outer ring of Jupiter.

"This is a prototype reconnaissance vessel. It is equipped with the most advanced tech we could lay our hands on. The squadron halted at the edge of the planetary system and initiated detailed scans of that beast. While we couldn't find an engine or a signature, we did lock a radiation emission pattern. That signature was unique. Then, the ship vanished."

He paused, entered another series of keystrokes and the hologram widened upwards showing an overview of the solar system.

"In an attempt to find mining sites with valuable minerals, our organization has set up research outposts around the solar system. One of our most recent is in the Kiuper Belt orbiting the planetoid Eris. From here," he stabbed a finger at a tiny white dot on the edge of the solar map, indicating Eris, "to Jupiter is a distance of roughly 5.8 billion miles. 62.8 astronomical units. Our outpost on Eris caught the same radiation signature as that ship less than a tenth of a second after it disappeared from Jupiter. For those of you that haven't brushed up on your math, that is the equivalent of 321,000 times the speed of light."

Demos gave the pirate a look that indicated a question of the large man's sanity.

"I know, old friend." John stated, holding his hands up to deflect the look. "But we have never seen weaponry such as that. Our strongest ordinance didn't scratch the hull. We have never seen a ship defy physics and move about with no means of propulsion. We have seen cloaks, but never a ship simply disappear from scanners. It wasn't until we boarded the salvage ship that we knew what we were looking at."

Valeri choked down a word of protest. That was her job. "The data on the ships nav systems was wiped clean," John continued, glancing at Valeri, "all records of what the salvage operator was after, gone. But the man wasn't stupid. He actually charted his mission on paper. With a pen."

Even Valeri was impressed. There was a reason nav systems were computerized. There were so many variables that went into Deep Sol navigation that it was nearly impossible for a pilot to do alone. Factors such as planetary orbit and excintricity, fuel consumption and rate of acceleration were easy when factoring against masses and densities of planetary bodies and how they would affect shipboard functions. It wasn't impossible, but a pilot would have to be thinking months in advance and crunching numbers constantly to allow for variable factorizarion.

"We followed the chart, backwards. He was calculating the drift pattern of a ship from half a millenium in the past. We borrowed some information from the archives and figured out what he was after." Unconsciously, the Heads of the factions had all leaned slightly forward as the pirate played out the prize.

He hit a button on the keypad and a solar war erupted in the holo. At the center of it were two ships weaving in and out of a dense cloud of fighters, delivering destruction every time their weapons engaged. Hellish red blasts, deadly accurate, lashed out and destroyed ship after ship. John paused the video and angled closer to the two ships. The massive fighter at the center of the fray was unmistakable.

DawnhammerRead this story for FREE!