Wing Commander in Real Time - Day 3 - 1100 Zulu

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The Diligent's umbilical latches onto the Kilrathi ship.


A section of wall glows white hot, exploding inward!
Revealing the Diligent's airlock -- which depressurizes
and opens. Spacesuited Confed Marines come towards us in
a surreal zero-g grace, and leading the


BLAIR can hear radio crosstalk and sounds of battle as he
scans his radar screen. MERLIN's voice comes out of

I'm picking up some strange
electromagnetic emissions from the
Kilrathi ship.


They're Pilgrim. The same ULF
frequency I picked up earlier.

This gets Blair's attention.


Deck two, aft section. The bridge.

BLAIR looks at the radar, considers, pulls out his
Pilgrim cross, kisses it, places it on the outside of his
suit. He attaches his helmet and grabs a weapon. As he
exits t he Diligent, he can see PALADIN and GERALD in the
cockpit, their backs to him.


Blair comes through the hole, weapon ready, swings into
the corridor, and right into a Kilrathi! It's dead,
floating gruesomely in the airless corridor.

Nice. I believe there's another way.
To the right.

BLAIR, looks left, can just make out the signs of battle,
weighs his options, goes right.

Inside of the Kilrathi ship is alien, hard, grotesque.
Sharp angles and exposed tubes give it almost a predatory
feel, like the lair of some jungle animal. He comes to an
airlock. Hitting the pressure plate he steps inside.

The green fog-like atmosphere that the Kilrathi breathe
makes it difficult to see, makes the alien architecture
creepy, gruesome. Blair switches his suit to thermal

BLAIR's POV (THROUGH THERMAL IMAGER): Similar to normal/span>
vision except that forms are more defined, details less/span>
so. Anything "hot" is enhanced.


MARINES push forward hard towards a heavily defended
hatch way. Air is alive with laser fire, the stink of
cordite, and the oppressive feeling of death. Bodies,
both Kilrathi and human, litter the deck. A Marine's
hit, and DEVERAUX pulls him out of the line of fire.


Two Kilrathi warriors stand at the door, weapons ready.
Behind them, a KILRATHI OFFICER prowls nervously, watches
a bank of monitors which show the battle raging in the
ship's corridors. He keys a code into the main console
and glances at the big, RED BUTTON set in the center of
the console.

SC. 231-232 OMIT


(over intercom)
Blair! Blair? Answer your station...

No answer. Gerald turns, looks down the long corridor to
the gunnery station. Empty. To Paladin:

You should have never brought that half-
breed on this mission. His orders were
to stay on this ship. Stay here. I'll
find him.

GERALD locks his helmet in position, cocks his gun and
heads for the air-lock Paladin looks worried.


BLAIR's head appears from a lower deck. Cautious, he
pans the area, climbs up to the deck. In front of him is
a hatchway. He looks through the small window.

HIS POV: The Bridge. THE KILRATHI OFFICER'S fixated on
the monitor. Slowly, he turns to an effigy of the god,
Sivar, kneels before it. Then HE stands, walks towards
the red button, hand raised.

BLAIR drops an explosive round into the grenade launcher
section of his weapon, lines it on the door.


The KILRATHI OFFICER utters a ritual phrase in Kilrathi.
Subtitle's read: "I am honored to die for the glory of
Kilrah, the Emperor, and the Empire."

Three Kilrathi react as the door's blown off its hinges!
Thing spins into the room in an explosion of smoke steel.

KILRATHI OFFICER recovers, brings a clawed hand down on
the self-destruct button. He's blown back by a laser
blast as BLAIR, weapon lined and firing, rolls in.

KILRATHI WARRIORS return fire! BLAIR has to dive a way as
the wall behind him is torn up. HE ends up on the other
side of console.

WARRIORS close on him, weapons firing, slugs tearing into
the console, ripping it to pieces.

BLAIR's POV: Massive, armored feet closing on his
position from both sides, flanking him.

Last second, he rolls under the console, pops up, fires
point blank into the back of a Warrior's head. Blast
spatters tissue and crimson fluid on the wall.

BLAIR snaps around, tries to line his weapon on the
second Kilrathi. Too late. Thing's right there. An
armored fist knocks Blair's weapon away. Backhand sends
him spinning back. HE lands hard on the floor.

WARRIOR looms over him, picks him up by his vest, lifts
him off the floor, holds him up.

Four inch serrated claws appear in the thing's right
hand. It cocks its arm, ready to strike ...stops, lets
Blair go, stumbles back.

Lodged in its chest is Blair's Pilgrim cross. BLAIR
watches he thing fall to the floor.

Nicely done.

BLAIR pulls the cross from dead Kilrathi, wipes the

Thanks for the help.

I'm a hologram. Don't touch the red

BLAIR looks around the room. On the counter he dove
behind, he sees a black box with a score of cables
emanating from it, some leading to a monitor that is
scrolling numbers. A piece of the door lies on top of
the box, partially obscures it. He can see the letters

What thee hell?

BLAIR pulls the piece of door away, sees the words
PEGASUS NAVCOM A.I. stenciled on them.

They have the Charybdis jump
coordinates, Merlin.

They have more than that. I'm
picking up strong electromagnetic
emissions from the panel to the right.
It's a ULF signal. They're the Tiger
Claw’s coordinates.

BLAIR moves to the big communications panel, ponders the
strange script and numerical readouts.

What's the source?

...The Tiger Claw.

A traitor on the Claw?

It gets worse. It's encrypted with an
executive level code.

Who has access to those codes?

Only Sansky and Gerald.

Panel flashes, and suddenly, the code numbers and letters
start to scroll by at increasing speed.

It just went from ULF to Ultra High
Frequency. The Tiger Claw just became
a beacon.

Every Kilrathi ship in the sector will
be able to find her.

BLAIR reacts to a sound, spins around, sees GERALD
standing behind him, weapon lined.

You'd like that, wouldn't you, you
treacherous piece of garbage. I'd
should feed you to these things.

Looks like you'll get your chance.
(pointing at Navcom)
They owe you a few favors, don't they
Mr. Gerald?




MARCH 17, 2654
1100 HOURS

Deveraux knew that Sergeant Cogan did not appreciate her
leading his Marines into the ConCom ship. His jowly face
screwed up into a knot when he first heard about the plan, and
his expression had not changed. Deveraux was not a Confed
Marine Corps lieutenant, nor did she have any special training
in tactical boarding operations. For all intents and purposes,
she should not be commanding the Marines.
However, she possessed one piece of knowledge that had
convinced Commander Gerald to assign her the task. As part of
her academy training she had spent two months flying a
captured Dorkir-class freighter similar to the ConCom. She
knew the layout of those vessels better than any grunt in
Cogan's squad. Sure, Marines received intense training in
enemy ship design, but no solider could memorize thousands of
deck plans. Without her, the squad would rely on field slates
and constantly have to pause to check their coordinates via
computer. She could get them to the bridge far more
swiftly—not that Cogan appreciated the advantage. Deveraux
was not a Marine. Period.
And while she stood at the front of the squad, immersed in
the sparks and shimmer of the superheated hull, Cogan
reminded her of that fact. "When the door blows, hold back,
Commander. Let my people do their jobs." His face shield
barely hid his contempt.
"I'm leading this group, Sergeant. I recommend that you take
that literally. Are we clear?"
"Yeah, we are. At least your corpse won't weigh very much in
zero G." He marched back and began shouting at his troops.
"Five seconds," a Marine reported, waving a small scanner
near the cutting line.
Deveraux began a mental countdown, but the copper-colored
section of plastisteel thudded to the deck before she reached
one. She felt the umbilical's air tug on her shoulders as it fled
into the Kilrathi ship. As suspected, the cats had turned off the
artificial gravity in this section in order to slow the Marines'
progress. In a surreal zero-G dance, she glided forward and
turned into a triangular corridor clogged with a thick green gas
and festooned with conduits. A silhouette stirred ahead, and
she strained to see through the fog, her rifle stock already
jammed into her shoulder.
A yellow bolt tore a jagged hole in the bulkhead just a
half-meter away. She returned fire but couldn't pick out a
target. She touched a button on her helmet, engaging her
thermal scanner. Data bars beamed at the corners of her
faceplate. Forms grew more defined, details less so. The torn-up
bulkhead throbbed red.
The Marines charged in around her, cutting loose an
incredible wave of suppressing fire that stirred the alien gas
into hundreds of tiny whirlpools.
"Hold your fire," Cogan ordered.
She studied the corridor via the thermal scope. No movement
or heat sources. "Tito! Marx! Take point. Second team. Watch
our backs. Let's move."
* * *
Blair kept Polanski and Maniac in his sights as the two
engaged another pair of Dralthis that had sprung from behind
the asteroids. "They're coming up behind. Let's kickstop 'em,"
Polanski told Maniac.
"On my mark. Hold… hold… hold… mark!"
Maniac and Polanski broke into hard ninety-degree turns,
holding their new courses for a moment. The Dralthis overshot
them, and the Rapiers spun back 180 degrees to lock targets.
Missiles flew, and the cats paid with interest for their mistake.
"Lieutenant, can I have a word with you?" Merlin asked, his
voice coming abruptly from the intercom.
"Little busy right now."
The hologram flashed into view with his usual flourish and
sat cross-legged on the Ion cannon's console. He thrust out his
lower lip and blew a stray lock of hair from his eyes. "I'm
picking up some strange electromagnetic emissions from the
Kilrathi ship."
He leaped onto the crossbar joining the firing grips and
obscured Blair's view. "They're Pilgrim. The ULF frequency I
picked up earlier. Do I have your attention?"
"Yeah. Can you pinpoint the signal?"
"Of course. I wouldn't have brought it up if I couldn't."
Blair gaped at the little man. "Well?"
"Deck two, aft section. The bridge."
Decision time. He glanced at the radar display: all clear.
Maniac and Polanski could handle themselves for at least a little
while, barring an onslaught. Man, that's weak justification, but
it makes me feel a little less guilty. He lifted out his cross,
kissed it, then climbed down from the gunner's dome. Moving
gingerly away from the ladder, he stole a glance at the bridge.
Taggart and Gerald sat at their consoles, their backs to him.
Good. He unlatched a rifle from its bulkhead mount, checked
the charge, then fetched his helmet from the rack.
He winced as the airlock doors parted, and tossed another
look back at the bridge. Taggart and Gerald had heard nothing.
He double-checked his helmet's binding, then ventured into the
umbilical, feeling his weight decrease before the suit's gravity
boots automatically kicked in.
Dense fog unfurled toward him, and once he reached the
opening to the ConCom ship, visibility had been reduced to a
meter. He turned into a corridor and something brushed his shoulder.
He recoiled with a cry, lifting the rifle, finger tensing over the trigger.
An abomination floated next to him, a uniformed beast so
hideous that nature had not yet forgiven herself for its creation.
The thing's pale, elongated head had been torn open by laser
fire, and its huge paws were locked in a death clutch. The corpse
rolled over, and the yellow eyes stared at Blair, convex irises
now inert, lids twitching involuntarily.
Taggart had been right. The Kilrathi would not be entering
beauty pageants anytime soon. And Blair felt fortunate that his
first close encounter was with a dead one.
"Nice," Merlin said through the comm. "I believe there's
another way. To the right."
His gravity boots peeled off the deck and made traveling
furtively more than a little difficult, though the haze did help.
He reached a door at the corridor's end and frowned at the
control panel labeled in Kilrathi.
"Translating," Merlin said. "Hit the big button."
"Of course."
Green fumes poured through the doors as they slid apart. He
tpuched a control on his helmet, bringing the thermal scanner
online. Two pipes affixed to the bulkhead glowed red, otherwise
the corridor appeared cool. With his rifle at the ready, he
moved inside.
* * *
"Aw, hell," Deveraux moaned as a half-dozen Kilrathi
troopers stamped up the corridor. The Marines traded a dozen
bolts with the aliens, then fell back into an intersecting passage.
"That the only way?" Cogan asked, popping out an energy
magazine and popping in another.
"It is now," she answered grimly. "They've reported our
position. They're already sealing us off back there."
"Grenade!" someone cried.
Deveraux looked down as the cylindrical concussion grenade
rolled across the deck, just two meters away. Cogan seized her
shoulders, driving her back as the bomb exploded. A bluish-red
fireball swelled overhead. They collapsed, and Deveraux fought
to recover her breath. Somehow, she managed to sit up.
Three Marines lay dead in the intersection, their arms and
legs gone or twisted at unnatural angles, their space suits
whistling as O2 units mindlessly pumped air.
A sweaty and scared-looking grunt rounded the corner,
ducking from incoming fire. He took one look at his
dismembered comrades, gagged, then forced himself toward
Deveraux. "Ma'am? Got another squad moving in behind us. We
are pinned down."
"Lieutenant Polanski? Report," Gerald ordered.
The young man's masked face shown on the comm screen.
"No contacts, sir."
"I concur," Marshall added. "We're jamming local
transmissions, but that doesn't mean our buddies didn't get off
a signal. Better set the table anyway."
"Understood," Gerald said. "How are we doing back there,
No response.
"Lieutenant Blair? Answer your station." Gerald tapped on
the ship's security cameras. He flipped through the images until
he found the empty gunner's dome. "Look at this," he shouted
at Taggart. "You should've never brought that half-breed on this
mission. His orders were to remain on this ship." Gerald bolted
up. "Stay here. I'll find him."
Picturing himself with a gun shoved into Blair's forehead,
Gerald slapped on his helmet and tore a rifle from the rack. He
glanced to Taggart. That's right, Commodore. You should look
worried. Now your boy is going down.
* * *
"Which way, Merlin?"
Blair had reached the end of the corridor, where a more
narrow passage ran through it at a seventy-five-degree angle.
"Go left. Then down."
His elbow scraped along the wall of the tube, which quickly
widened into a standard-size corridor with increasing gravity.
Blair's stomach suddenly greeted his knees.
"There's a floor panel on the deck. Pull it up," Merlin
He found the handle and slowly lifted the panel while
balancing his weapon. He peered into the hallway below, hoped
to God that it would remain clear, then dropped to the deck.
"See that hatch up ahead?" Merlin asked. "That's the bridge.
ULF signals are peaking the meter now."
After a second glance at the hatch, Blair dodged to the
bulkhead. Large, cross-shaped windows built into the doors
revealed two Kilrathi officers, their heads lowered to their
consoles, their bodies outlined in the faint red of his thermal
scanner. He cocked his rifle. Full charge. Keeping to the
shadows and thicker fog near the wall, Blair advanced. He threw
a look back, and when he faced forward, light flickered across
his display.
Two towering Kilrathi skulked out of the gloom near the
bridge door, and one of them took massive strides toward him,
its booted feet rumbling the deck, its mouth opening to expose
diseased gums and a grotesque set of gnarled, razor-sharp
teeth. Blair stood immobilized in the image as the warrior
launched itself toward him with improbable speed.
His finger found the trigger, and he blew open the alien's
abdomen at point-blank range. The thing gurgled and bled over
its legs, took a step back, and dropped.
In a blur, the second Kilrathi appeared behind the first.
Blair lifted the rifle. The cat came at him, bulbous eyes
widening, arms lifting, claws springing from its paw. A victory
grin split open its horrid face.
Blair fired!
Pain rocked visibly through the alien, robbing its smile and
narrowing its gaze. It released a spinetingling shriek and
stumbled onto its back.
As Blair stepped around the cat, he exchanged a look with a
Kilrathi officer behind the bridge's door, then stole his way to
the windows.
On the other side, one alien stood fixated on a monitor while
another, presumably the captain, turned to kneel before a
copper-colored statue of Sivar. The captain's mouth moved.
"This is not good," Merlin said. "That Kilrathi in there just
spoke a ritual phrase. He says that he's honored to die for the
glory of Kilrah, the Emperor, and the Empire."
The captain rose and turned back to a center console, where
Blair spotted a red button that needed no translation.
He fell back from the door, dropped an explosive round into
his rifle's grenade launcher, aimed, and—
With a faint thump the bomb left his weapon, struck the door,
and blew it off its tracks in a column of flames edged in black
smoke. Exploiting the lingering cloud, Blair rushed toward the
hatch, then crouched to pick a target.
Reaching for the red button, the Kilrathi captain jerked as
Blair's first round tore a ragged hunk out of its shoulder. Two
more bolts punched the now-howling captain to the deck.
Blair flinched as the remaining two bridge officers returned
fire from the cover of consoles. He dodged through showers of
sparks and flying debris, then dropped to his stomach behind a
long row of stations. He inched forward, careful not to move the
colossal swivel chairs beside him. From between the widely
spaced console legs he saw armored feet closing in on him from
flanking positions. In a half-dozen heartbeats, the cats would be
standing over him.
He waited for four of those beats, then rolled under the
stations and popped up behind a warrior, jabbed his rifle into
the thing's long head, and squeezed off a bolt. The warrior
dropped, most of its brain on the wall behind it.
But where was the other officer?
Pivoting frantically, Blair couldn't find him. Then, out of
nowhere, the thing abandoned its rifle and sprang. An armored
fist sent Blair's weapon tumbling, and an even faster paw across
his face hurled him to the deck.
This Kilrathi did not smile as the earlier one had. The pure
thought of killing narrowed its eyes to slits, kept its lip crimped
in a sneer, and fueled a long, steady growl. It reached for Blair's
chest, grabbing him by the fabric of his space suit. With little
effort, the thing hoisted him high into the air as it extended the
talons of its free paw. Then it lowered him a little, wanting to
stare him down before the unceremonious gutting.
In a second of movement so well choreographed that it made
Blair feel he had stepped outside himself, he jabbed his thumbs
into the cat's large, yellow eyes. The paw gripping him relaxed,
and he fell, palming a console for balance as the alien wailed in
Blair bounded for his rifle, came up with it, and finished off
the Kilrathi with a pair of bolts to the head. Flesh sizzled.
"Nicely done," Merlin said, seated on the forward edge of a
nearby monitor.
"Thanks for the help."
"I'm just running my program. And by the way, don't touch
the red button."
He looked at the self-destruct switch and sighed. Then his
gaze wandered the rest of the bridge, and he noticed a black box
partially hidden behind a piece of the exploded hatch, the
letters N-A-V visible on one side. The box sat on the station he
had hidden behind, and a score of cables emanated from it,
some leading to a monitor that scrolled numbers and letters,
some into a bank of consoles he guessed were part of the
ConCom's communication system. "What the hell?"
After crossing to the device, he set down his rifle and lifted
away the piece of plastisteel. His mind raced as he read the
words PEGASUS NAVCOM AI. "They have the Charybdis jump
coordinates, Merlin."
"They have more than that. I'm picking up strong
electromagnetic emissions from the panel to your right. It's a
ULF signal. I finished translating the code. They're relaying a
ship's coordinates."
"What ship?"
"The Tiger Claw."
"Damn it. What's the source?"
"The original signal comes from the Tiger Claw herself."
Blair's jaw dropped. "A traitor on the Claw?"
"It gets worse. It's encrypted with an executive-level code,
one I recognized immediately."
"Who has access to those codes?"
"Only Captain Sansky and Commander Gerald."
The monitor flashed, and the code numbers and letters
scrolled by at an increasing rate.
"What's happening?" Blair huddled over the screen.
"The signal just went from ULF to Ultra High Frequency. The
Tiger Claw just became a beacon."
"Every Kilrathi ship in the sector will be able to find her,"
Blair said, nearly losing his voice.
"Lieutenant, someone is—"
Reacting to the sound of footfalls, Blair whirled to lock gazes
with Commander Gerald, who, with inflamed eyes and teeth
flashing obscenely, raised his rifle and started onto the bridge.
"You'd like my ship to fall, wouldn't you, you treacherous piece
of shit." He gestured with his weapon toward one of the dead
Kilrathi. "I should feed you to these things."
"Looks like you'll get your chance," Blair said, then patted
the NAVCOM. "They owe you a few favors, don't they, Mr.