Chapter 9 - Desperate Measures

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Eve remained seated in her Seraphim while the two technicians busied themselves with the computer they had wheeled in on a platform. It was connected to the Seraphim with a thick black cable via a diagnostic port. The two had been fussing with it for the better part of an hour.

"I thought you just needed access to the starmap," said Eve "What's taking so long?"

"It's not that simple," explained Aaron, the more senior technician "This technology is from an entirely different culture from the one our tech is based on. They're not directly compatible."

"We need to be able to cross reference your starmap with our own," added Myra, the other technician "Which means we need the two to interface to an extent. These are uncharted waters."

"Aaron and Myra are experts at this," said the Mayor-Captain "They have more experience with the technology of the forgotten ancients than anyone currently living."

Eve sighed and leaned back in her seat. It adjusted itself slightly to accomodate her new position.

The two continued to work for a good while longer before Myra gasped.

"It's ready!" announced Aaron.

"Don't waste another second then," said the Mayor-Captain.

With a few clicks of his mouse Aaron brought up the starmap. A tiny holographic projector attached to their computer came to life, and a three dimensional representation of all the stars in known space appeared in the air around them. A holographic image of the entire galaxy.

One by one, in rapid succession, three different stars turned from bright white to red.

"There," said Aaron "There are three stars present in Eve's starmap that aren't found in any of our own."

"Just think," said the Mayor-Captain "Orbiting one of those stars is our new home."

"So you all keep saying," said Eve, still not convinced.

"Thank you, Eve," said the Mayor-Captain "Words are inadequate to express my gratitude. This could be the beginning of a new era for humanity. If there is anything we can do to repay you all you need to do is ask."

"For the moment I'd just like to get as far away from here as possible," said Eve.

"That won't be a problem," said the Mayor-Captain "As soon as the Ray Bradbury leaves this sector and we can jump away without being in danger of being followed we'll do so. The last thing we need at this point is the Empire following us."

"Are you finished with my Seraphim now?" asked Eve.

"We are," answered Aaron.

He clicked his mouse a few more times and the starmap disappeared. As soon as he did so Myra gave the cable a clockwise turn and disconnected it from the Seraphim.

"You must be hungry," said the Mayor-Captain "I'll have some food brought down for you."

The small communication bead clipped to the collar of the Mayor-Captain's shirt made a pleasing beeping noise.

"Bridge to Mayor-Captain," came an electonic voice from the bead "Another Imperial ship just jumped into scanner range."

The young man swore.

"I need to go," he said "Thank you again Eve."

Eve pushed off her seat and jumped down from the Seraphim's cockpit.

"Let me come with you," she said.

"Very well," said the Mayor-Captain "Make sure you keep up."

He spun and took off down the cramped corridor, with Eve not far behind him.

* * *

Everyone on the bridge was watching the primary viewing window. All three screens were focused on the same thing from different angles: the Imperial Seraphim Carrier that had just completed a jump and was even now approaching the debris field.

"If we can see it, how much longer before it can see us?" asked the Mayor-Captain.

"There's no way to know," answered Goliath, the Scanner-technician "They might have detected us already. If we're lucky we might be able to stay hidden for a few more minutes, a half an hour tops."

"Is there any way to retreat deeper into the debris field?" the Mayor-Captain asked.

"We're already operating beyond the safety thresholds as it is," said Ben at tactical "If we get any more chewed up by all this space junk we're going to start taking hull breaches."

Eve felt terror seize her heart. She didn't dare speak and distract any of the bridge crew from trying to find a way out of this.

"We're going to have to jump," said the Mayor-Captain.

"If we do that they'll detect us for sure," said Goliath.

"They'll detect us either way," said the Mayor-Captain "If we make a run for it now, while we still have the element of surprise, we might be able to escape."

"They'll be able to trace our path," said Linus at operations "Follow us."

"How many jumps would it take to get to the Calanor system?" asked the Mayor-Captain.

"One," said Ophir at the helm "If we really push our equipment. Two if you want to play it safe."

"The time for playing things safe has passed," said the Mayor-Captain "Plot a course for a single jump. The electro-magnetic spectrum around Calanor is still all torn up from the war. They'll be limited to short range scanners there. Lots of places to hide. If we can get a good enough head start on them we might be able to make it."

"Plotting a course," said Ophir.

On the viewing window the Seraphim Carrier was getting closer.

"They're using their high density scanners," reported Goliath.

"Take us out," said the Mayor-Captain "As far away as possible. As soon as we're free of the debris field's gravity well make the jump."

Ophir held her breath and brought the Jules Verne back out of the gravity well. The Seraphim Carrier reacted almost immediately.

"Full burn!" yelled the Mayor-Captain.

The Jules Verne's torch drives came to life, vaporizing a cloud of debris behind it and blasting the ship forward with such force that the AG-compensators could barely keep the crew from being tossed around like beans in a maraca.

The Carrier had to turn itself around before it could match course, and in that small amount of time the Jules Verne was able to put some considerable distance between them.

"Jump!" insisted the Mayor-Captain.

"We're not clear of the gravity well yet," said Ophir.

The Seraphim Carrier's own torch drives engaged, and it shot off after the Jules Verne. The two ships were very similar in design but the Carrier was better maintained and supplied. Inevitably it would catch up.

"Jump now!" yelled the Mayor-Captain.

"It's still not safe," insisted Ophir.

"Nothing about this is safe," said the Mayor-Captain "Make the jump or none of this will matter."

With the forces of gravity still dragging it backwards the Jules Verne jumped hyperspatially between two points in space/time, nearly tearing itself apart in the process. The strain on the ship's hull was so bad that the audible groaning of the metal could be heard from inside the bridge.

Within an instant they had snapped light-years away from the debris field and were instead deep in the solar system Calanor, half sensor blind.

"Can we still move?" asked the Mayor-Captain.

"Barely," answered Ophir.

The viewing window showed a nearby planet with three natural satellites.

"Get us on the far side of that moon as fast as you can," said the Mayor-Captain, pointing "We can start repairs once we're no longer sitting ducks."

The Jules Verne was able to limp its way behind the largest of the moons. This blocked their scanners from detecting the arrival of the Carrier.

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