Wing Commander in Real Time - Day 3 - 1200 Zulu

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The Tiger Claw, firing on one ion engine, moves away from
the moon crater.


GERALD and PALADIN stand, watch as the massive ship lifts
up. OBUTU works on a shattered console. Blair and
Deveraux wait.

Prepare a drone. Input the Kilrathi
jump coordinates. Send it through the
Charybdis Quasar to Admiral Tolwyn.
(To Paladin:)
They should be able to target the exact
location of the Kilrathi jump entry.
It'll be over before they can get their
weapons on line.

Obutu bangs at the console.

If Tolwyn's there, Mr. Gerald. If he's

Sir, we have a problem. Drones are off
line. Executive over-ride.

Sansky. Without those coordinates,
Tolwyn doesn't have a chance and we're
too big to slip past the Kilrathi and
warn the fleet.

We'll have to send a fighter through.

Impossible. There are over a thousand
singularities in that Quasar. To jump
it would be suicide without NAVCOM

We don't need a NAVCOM, Mr. Gerald.
Blair, you will navigate the Quasar.
Lt. Commander Deveraux will follow your

BLAIR looks at Paladin.

It's statistically impossible, sir.

We don't have another option, sir.
(a beat)
You have the gift.

BLAIR fingers for his cross. Except it's not there. HE
shakes his head.

I don't have the faith.

It's not faith. It's genetics. It's
the capacity to feel magnetic fields.
But if you believe you need faith...

PALADIN reaches into his tunic, pulls a cross from under
his vest--a Pilgrim Cross. GERALD reacts.

Take mine.

HE tosses the cross to Blair. BLAIR looks at it.

Why didn't you tell me?

You didn't ask.

Two men's eyes hold for a long time.

Long range scanners are picking up
Kilrathi ships, sir. Looks like a
destroyer and a cruiser.

We'll create the diversion. Get those
coordinates to Tolwyn.


DEVERAUXS climbing into her Rapier as BLAIR moves down
the flight line. He stops when he hears a familiar
voice: Hunter's:


BLAIR turns to Hunter, ready for a confrontation.

I heard what you did on that Kilrathi
ship. We all heard. I was wrong.

HUNTER extends a hand. BLAIR nods, takes it. As BLAIR
walks down the flight line, each surviving member of the
wing nods to him, shakes his hand. BLAIR stops by
Maniac. MANIAC smiles. BLAIR's about to speak when
Maniac holds up a hand.

Don't say anything. I want to remember
you pretty face just like this. See
you on the other side, bro.

He bangs fists with Blair, and BLAIR swings into his
cockpit. Canopy lowers. Both fighters are firing their
engines up. Sound is deafening. Both salute the deck


Blair and Deveraux's fighters launch into the void, swing
left towards the asteroid fields the Tiger Claw turning
to the right.

Further out: Empty space... Then a long, large missile
with a warhead materializes as if from nowhere. It
adjusts course, AIMS AT THE TIGER CLAW in the distance,

SC. 254 OMIT



MARCH 17, 2654
1200 HOURS

"Hey, Blair. What happened to you out there? One minute
you're manning the Ion cannon, the next you're gone. Not that
Polanski and I needed your help, but it's nice to know your ass'll
be covered in a clutch."
Blair sat on his bunk, rubbing his eyes with the heels of his
"I didn't mean to make you cry…"
He made a face at Maniac, who lay bare-chested on his bunk,
scratching at his bandages. "C'mon, Chris. What's up?"
"In a couple of minutes, Gerald's going to announce that
Captain Sansky is dead. He might even mention how Sansky
betrayed the Confederation. Hell, he betrayed humanity."
"You're shitting."
"Wish I were. I think Sansky was a Pilgrim. At the least, a
Pilgrim sympathizer."
"So that's why you're bummed. Well, you've been wanting to
find out more about the Pilgrims. Satisfied?"
Blair shot to his feet and unzipped his flight suit. Leaving a
trail of clothes, he headed into the shower. As the hot spray
warmed and loosened his aching muscles, he closed his eyes
and wondered if his mother had engaged in anything as terrible
as Sansky and Wilson.
"Hey, Chris?" Maniac called. "I'm sorry, man. Really."
Without answering, Blair grabbed a bar of soap and a
He needed to get clean.
* * *
By the time Blair finished his shower, Maniac had already
changed and left. He had probably headed down to the rec to get
that drink Polanski owed him. Thankful for the solitude, Blair
stood in his towel and reached instinctively for his cross,
feeling only the chain. He panicked for a moment, then slumped
in resignation as he remembered where he had left it.
Was its loss another omen that he should not explore his
roots? Maybe. But he knew he would never abandon that goal no
matter how much pain it caused. Not knowing hurt more.
He padded to where he had dropped his clothes and dug out
Admiral Tolwyn's ring from a pocket. He needed to give it to
Taggart, who could return it to the admiral.
After donning a new flight suit, he made sure to place the ring
in his breast pocket. He wished now he could keep it, a new
symbol of who he might become.
But the ring had to go back.
Blair felt a distinct jolt as he stepped onto the bridge. The
Tiger Claw ascended, and the shadows folded back to expose
the pockmarked and grooved surface of the crater's wall.
Lieutenant Commander Obutu lay on his back, assisting a
tech with repairs on the portside observation station. The other
officers stared determinedly at their screens, uttering reports
into headsets.
"I heard about your business," Deveraux said, meeting him at
the rail. "Gerald's not going to inform the crew until we're dead
or out of this. He's breaking regs, but he's right. We have to
keep morale high, speaking of which, how's yours?"
"I'm all right."
"Wow. Very convincing."
"I'll be all right. Soon. Maybe."
"At least now you're honest."
He gestured toward Taggart, who stood behind Gerald's
command chair. "I need to speak with him." Deveraux released
him with a nod, and he crossed to stand at attention beside
Taggart. "Sir, I have something for you." He fished out Tolwyn's
Taggart grinned at the sight, then shook his head as Blair
offered it to him. "Keep it for now. We get out of this, you can
return it yourself."
"Thank you, sir."
"Have you ever met the admiral?"
"No, I haven't."
"I'm sure you'll find the experience… memorable."
"Yes, sir."
"We're clear of the crater," the helmsman abruptly reported.
"Very well," Gerald said. "Mr. Obutu. Prepare a drone. Input
the Kilrathi jump coordinates. Send it through the Charybdis
Quasar to Admiral Tolwyn."
"Aye-aye, sir." Obutu slid out from beneath the observation
Gerald glanced back to Taggart. "They should be able to
target the exact location of the Kilrathi jump entry. It'll be over
before they can get their weapons online."
"If Tolwyn's there, Mr. Gerald. If he's there."
Out of the corner of his eye, Blair saw Mr. Obutu smite his fist
on a touchpad. The radar and comm officers gathered around
him, and all three murmured excitedly.
Finally, Obutu spun to face Gerald. "Sir, we have a problem.
All communications and decoy drones are off-line. Executive
"Sansky," Gerald said as though swearing. "Without those
coordinates, Tolwyn doesn't have a chance—and we're too big to
slip past the Kilrathi and warn the fleet."
Taggart gave Blair an appraising glance, then said, "We'll
have to send a fighter through."
"Impossible," Gerald argued. "There are over a thousand
singularities in that quasar. To jump it would be suicide
without NAVCOM coordinates."
"We don't need a NAVCOM, Mr. Gerald." Taggart placed a
hand on Blair's shoulder. "Lieutenant, you will navigate the
quasar. Lieutenant Commander Deveraux will follow your
Stunned by the order, Blair's voice cracked. "It's statistically
impossible, sir."
The commodore tightened his grip. "We don't have another
option." His voice lowered to a near whisper. "You have the
Blair slid out of Taggart's hold and looked to the deck,
reaching for his phantom cross. "I don't have the faith."
"It's not faith," Taggart said, coming up behind him. "It's
genetics. It's the capacity to feel magnetic fields. But if you
believe you need faith—* He circled in front, reached into his
tunic, and withdrew a Pilgrim cross. "Here. Take mine."
Awestruck, Blair took the cross, then gazed curiously at its
owner. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Taggart cocked a brow. "You didn't ask."
The reverence in Taggart's eyes when he had examined Blair's
cross and the pain he suffered when speaking of the Pilgrims
were now clear. But how had he come to fight for the
Confederation? Blair hoped he lived long enough to find out. He
attached the cross to his own chain, then thought better of
tucking it under his flight suit. People should see it. People
needed to see it.
"Long-range scanners are picking up Kilrathi ships, sir,"
Obutu told Gerald. "Looks like a destroyer and a cruiser."
"Mr. Blair. Can you do it?" Gerald asked.
"I think so, sir."
"Not good enough, Lieutenant!"
"Sir, I can do it, sir!"
"Very well. I'll have the Kilrathi jump coordinates
transferred to your Rapier and copied to Deveraux's. We'll
create the diversion. Just get those coordinates to Tolwyn."
"Aye-aye, sir." Blair quickly exited the bridge, and Deveraux
joined him in the lift.
"I guess we're in for a wild ride," she said.
"You don't have to come. I can get Maniac to fly my wing. He's
brave and stupid enough."
"And I'm not?
"You're smart, Angel. Very smart. That's why everyone
respects you."
"I'd like to believe that."
"You should."
"Well, in any event, I'm coming along. Commodore's orders.
And you can't change my mind."
"Then I'm honored to fly with you, ma'am." He eyed her
sternly. "Just don't get me killed."
Men sacrificed themselves over a smile like hers. Blair would
be no exception.
As Deveraux hurried off toward her fighter, Blair continued
along the flight line. The order had come down from the bridge
to prep two Rapiers, followed by a second order for battle
stations. Flight crews jogged to Rapiers and Broadswords,
finished hasty repairs, and criss-crossed the hangar in
ordnance carts. The energy created by them struck and excited
Blair. He saw Polanski, Hunter, and Maniac in the throes of
preflighting their fighters. He thought of saying good-bye to
Maniac, but his friend seemed too busy for the interruption.
Ahead, his own flight crew swarmed his Rapier, and he
quickened his pace, wanting to lend them a hand.
"Pilgrim," a familiar man called out.
Blair craned his head as Hunter came toward him. I don't
need this now, he thought. Why can't this bastard just let it go?
Blair held his ground, muscles growing tighter with Hunter's
every step.
"I heard what you did on that Kilrathi ship," the big Aussie
said. "We all heard. I was wrong." He extended a hand.
Trying to hide his feeling of relief, Blair took the hand and
give the pilot his firmest shake.
"Good luck." Hunter ambled back to his Rapier.
As Blair turned, he found Maniac standing in his path. "You
trying to sneak out and die without me knowing?"
"Unh-uh, don't say anything. I want to remember your pretty
face just like this. See you on the other side, bro." He banged
fists with Blair, then winked and dashed off.
The bellow of firing turbines seized the flight deck as he
reached his fighter. She had waited faithfully for him, and Blair
ran fingers along her fuselage. One last hurrah, old lady. That's
all I ask. With the crew already finished, he settled into the
cockpit as the commotion outside came to a crescendo.
"Somebody said you're going to navigate the quasar, sir," his
crew chief shouted, her short blond hair tossed by thruster
wash. "Is that true?"
"How did you hear?"
"I just did. Is it true?"
He nodded. "Wanna come?"
"Sure. But I got nothing to wear." She slipped under the
Rapier and emerged on the starboard side to lift a thumbs-up.
"That's a nice loadout." Then she stared wistfully at him, as
though he were already dead.
Blair returned a tight smile and a thumbs-up, then tapped a
switch, lowering the canopy. He broke external moorings and
routinely performed the rest of his preparations, despite the
growing lump in his throat.
Within sixty seconds the deckmaster waved him into position
for launch. He saluted, got clearance from Raznick, and for the
first time in his military career felt uneasy about punching his
thrusters. The Rapier accelerated through the energy curtain
and over the runway. He flipped on his VDU and watched the
Tiger Claw shrink into the vast tableau. Deveraux formed on his
wing and sent him the order to maintain radio silence as they
entered the asteroid belt.
He glanced down at Taggart's cross, which had turned onto
its back. He noticed an inscription and lifted the cross to read
He turned over the cross and whispered, "Well, Amity, I
think he does."