The Journey Homeward

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.

The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind.  Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment

The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting Compagno and Unseating Dibolocos.  Today we get Episode 25

The Journey Homeward.

The light cruiser set up an orbit while injuries and damage could be sorted out. A shuttle picked up Jamison, along with all their usable supplies and logs. Shortly thereafter they were underway to return Chambers and Jamison to the colonies. Battlefield repairs were made, but the ship would have to be docked to allow it to be returned to full battle readiness. Colofer and Colofen came on board too, but they hid themselves so that only Jamison and Chambers understood they were there.

They both had trouble sleeping on the month long voyage. Jamison had been put in a bunk in enlisted quarters, not the normal place for a major, but his commission had not been accepted so they saw him as a civilian. He had to get used to the rush of emotion caused by so many around him being unaligned, or worse being aligned with the Dibolocos. He also had formed an unconscious habit of tracking where on the ship Chambers was. It especially bothered him that she never seemed to lay down to sleep herself. He didn’t know why or what was unfolding but he could tell something was odd.

For Chambers her first victory on the ship had been met with the gratitude of the crew, but the captain quickly grew suspicious of her. She was assigned to sick bay since she had a medical background. Unfortunately the officer in charge wanted to play doctor with her. So she was constantly playing cat and mouse to stay out of reach without creating an open conflict. Since they bunked in the same section she found it necessary to avoid the sleeping quarters when he was there.

During these times she would spend time in the chart room, studying the spread of CDF forces. Her visits there were noticed by the captain, which only raised his suspicions further. They would be traveling by the Capital Nebula, and every time she saw it on the charts she felt uneasy. Then one night she was there, head down taking a nap in the seclusion. She bolted straight awake and in a panic drew her side arm searching the room for a target. Her eyes found nothing, but the automated charts revealed their course had altered to pass immediately beside the nebula. Suddenly she knew she had to get to the bridge.

She ran down a corridor for ten feet before realizing she was headed the wrong way. Back the other direction and around two corners was a lift that came out near to the bridge’s only entrance. She sprinted all the way up, hoping she wasn’t too late. Then she was stopped cold in her tracks by two guards at the bridge entrance that had orders to not allow anyone in, especially not her.

She begged, she reasoned, but the two low ranking men just stared at her with mild amusement. She was considering how to force entrance when the doors opened from the other side. The first officer, a man passively aligned with the dibolocos came out and started at seeing her there.

“Chambers, I was just coming to get you.”

“Why what’s happened?”

“I am demanding the Captain seek a second opinion on his current course of action. You being an outsider struck me as the most logical choice. Follow me please.”

The soldiers who had barred her entrance now followed her onto the bridge. Standing behind her with their weapons held at ready.

“Chambers what are you doing here?” the captain demanded. Then seeing the guards he yelled, “Collusion! Mutiny!” At this he drew his side arm and aimed it at one of the startled guards. The man dropped dead before having a chance to react. He might have fired again, but the helmsman disarmed him. This, of course, made him even more angry and he threatened personal violence toward everyone he saw.

The first officer had him subdued and confined to quarters. Then he explained they had become aware of a supply convoy moving in a similar route to them. Instead of joining the convoy for safety the captain had insisted they move the other direction. Hence the order to approach the nebula.

The first officer objected since this route made them vulnerable to ambush. It’s hard to sneak up on someone in open space. Any object could hide an enemy, but a nebula would be ideal cover for a trap. To make matters worse the first officer was pretty sure the captain had been quietly sending messages off-ship of an unknown manner and destination.

Chambers demanded an immediate halt. They came to a complete stop in space in relative proximity to the edge of the nebula. Then she ordered three missiles be sent into denser pockets of the nebula. All three found a pirate ship. Their hiding place also served to prevent them from seeing the incoming round and do anything to prevent their own destruction. Cheers were rounding out the bridge when the officers realized she was shouting a new order.

“Now, Run! Top speed! Heading 287 mark 65.”

“What are you doing?” asked the confused first officer. His question was answered when a fourth ship came out of the mists. It was huge, and would not have been brought down by a single missile like the others.

The commanders on deck followed her orders and they were off on another wild chase. Again the other ship was faster, but less nimble. They fired their big guns often and the competent crew dodged the shots easily, but as the distance closed it would get harder and harder.

Chambers focused her thoughts to see if Colofen had any ideas, “Make a giant arc back toward the nebula. You will have just enough time to get back before they catch you.”

The route worked, and everyone was hopeful there seemed to be a plan. When they neared the nebula again, Colofen had Chambers command they enter at a very specific point. As they did the mists cleared for about 20k meters. At the end of this spontaneous tube they found another turning off at 90 degrees. They turned and followed the new tube to the end where they stopped. The tubes closed behind them and they were blinded by the nebula. Behind them and close came a massive explosion. The nebula cleared enough to show the big ship had chased them in and when the nebula closed they went straight instead of turning. This caused them to impact a moon sized asteroid.

The first officer would normally become captain when the previous captain was unable to serve. As soon as they were out of danger the man began communicating with the CDF Strategic Command. After giving them a full report he made an unusual request. A few hours later, Chambers was made captain. When the previous captain was told about it, he committed suicide.

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