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   Chapter 24 No.24

Dead Beckoning By Christina Engela Characters: 6601

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

"Sound like a useful place for him to start over?"

"It's not very big." Blachart said, sounding doubtful. "It's in ruins anyway, and I doubt it could be useful as a reboot of Meradinis – the vegetation was hard to get along with, made life very difficult. I wouldn't choose that planet for a base. But I suppose any port in a storm, right?"

"Lt. Linson, take us to Yalta. Nordyke, encode and send the Mordrake the following update – vector of line of corpses points to Yalta 198. Request you rendezvous at that destination, please confirm, Captain d'Angelo commanding."

"Sir?" Linson hesitated. "Should we bring them aboard first?"

In his haste to pursue Kilroy, Mykl had nearly forgotten. There was a code among the military that went 'leave no one behind' – hence, the Allenby markers. His thoughts dwelt on that concept as his eyes roamed the desolate void ahead, with just the glint of distant stars and the faint flicker of the bloated freeze-dried bodies of the dead.

"Go ahead." He nodded. "Just have the transmatter operator check for booby traps first."

"Captain, " Lt. Nordyke reported. "Mordrake acknowledges."

"Noted, thanks."

The task of retrieving the bodies completed, the Antares resumed her course now for Yalta, and Mykl released Blachart for the time being. Duty shift changed, and Ripley went to the flat to handle a few personal things before dinner time, while he lingered a little longer to tie up some loose ends. It seemed there were several bodies that revealed booby-trap mines designed to be activated by a transmatter, so his note of caution had been useful and well placed. The fiendish devices would detect the energy transfer, which would set off a timer so that they would detonate moments after re-materializing on the jump platform, with the intended result of causing heavy internal structural damage and loss of life to whatever ship had been unfortunate enough to beam them aboard. Fortunately, the Antarse had advance

system, which consisted of four whole planets, each with several small moons that seemed, quite frankly, to be the debris of a few larger planets that had broken up in ages past for some reason nobody really cared about. Correction – nobody but astro-archeologists cared about.

Antares and Mordrake separated and cruised the system from the outside in, taking courses that set them at right angles to each other. Their sensors ran constant, deep probing sweeps, in their search for their adversary. Yalta 4 was a desolate, misshapen lump of ice that looked more like an ice cube than an actual planet. Yalta 3 was a landscape of craters within craters atop other craters and surrounded by the remains of older craters. The nearby dense clusters of astors the planet would pass through in its eccentric orbit provided a clue as to why. Yalta 1 was a small bleak, semi-molten nightmare with no hope of ever supporting life, much less any kind of Corsair base. The old, allegedly deserted Corsair maintenance base – and the only energy reading in the system – was on Yalta 2, the second planet from the sun. It was the only one in the habitable zone, being close enough to the star to support life and not too close, to turn it to ashes. A signal from Mordrake came over the bridge com, direct from Captain Lofflin.

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