Honor Among Enemies | Page 1 of 233

Author: David Weber | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 16360 Views | Add a Review

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Copyright © 1996 by David M. Weber

First printing, June 1996


“Got a problem here, Skipper.”

“What is it, Chris?” Captain Harold Sukowski, master of the Hauptman Lines freighter Bonaventure, looked up quickly at his executive officer"s taut announcement, for “problems” had a way of turning deadly with very little warning in the Silesian Confederacy. That had always been true, but the situation had become even more dangerous in the past year, and he felt the rest of Bonaventure"s bridge watch freeze about him even as his own heart began to pump hard and fast. To have come so close to their destination without problems only made the sudden, adrenaline-bitter tension worse, for Bonaventure had completed her translation back into n-space barely ten minutes before, and the Telmach System"s G0

primary lay just twenty-two light-minutes ahead. But that was also twenty-two minutes"s com time, and the Silesian Navy"s Telmach detachment was a joke. For that matter, the Confederacy"s entire navy was a joke, and even if Sukowski could have contacted the detachment commander in time, it was virtually certain there was nothing in position to intervene.

“We"ve got somebody coming up fast from astern, Skip.” Commander Hurlman never looked up from her display. “Looks fairly small—maybe seventy, eighty k-tons—but whoever it is has a military-grade compensator.

He"s eighteen-point-three light-seconds back, but he"s got an overtake of two thousand KPS and he"s pulling about five-ten gees.”

The captain nodded, and his expression was grim. Harold Sukowski had earned his master"s certificate over thirty T-years before. He was also a commander in the Royal Manticoran Naval Reserve, and he didn"t need Chris to paint him any pictures. At six million tons and with commercial-grade impellers and inertial compensator, Bonaventure was a sitting duck for any warship. Her maximum possible acceleration was scarcely 201 g, and her commercial particle screening held her max velocity to only .7 c. If her pursuer had military-grade particle shields to match the rest of his drive, he could not only out-accelerate her but pull a sustained velocity of eighty percent light-speed.

Which meant, of course, that there was no possible way for Sukowski to outrun him.

“How long to overhaul?” he asked.

“I make it roughly twenty-two and a half minutes to a zero-range intercept even if we go to max accel,” Hurlman said flatly. “We"ll be up to roughly twelve thousand seven hundred KPS, but he’ll be hitting almost nineteen thousand. Whoever he is, we aren"t going to shake him.”

Sukowski gave a choppy nod. Chris Hurlman was less than half his age, but like him, she was one of Bonaventure"s keel plate owners. She"d been the freighter"s original fourth officer, and while he would never have admitted it, Sukowski and his wife regarded her very much as one of the daughters they"d never had. Deep inside he"d always hoped she and his second oldest son would someday settle down together, but however young she might be for her rank, she was very good at her job, and her appraisal of the situation matched his own perfectly.

Of course, her estimate was for a least-time intercept, and the bogey wouldn"t go for that. He was almost certain to decelerate in order to kill his overtake velocity once he was certain he had Bonaventure nailed, but that wouldn"t make any difference to the fate of Sukowski"s ship. All it would do was delay the inevitable . . . slightly.

He tried desperately to think of a way— any way—to save his ship, but there wasn"t one. On the face of things, the possibility of piracy as a paying occupation shouldn"t have existed. Even the hugest freighter was less than a dust mote on the scale of interstellar space, but like the ancient ocean borne vessels of Old Earth, the ships which plied the stars followed predictable routes. They had to, for the grav waves which twisted through hyper-space dictated those routes much as Old Terra"s prevailing winds had dictated the square-riggers". No pirate could predict exactly where any given starship would make her alpha translation back into n-space, but he knew the general volume in which all ships would do so. If he lurked long enough, some poor, unlucky son-of-a-bitch would sail right into his clutches, and this time it was Sukowski"s turn.

The captain swore with silent venom. If only the Silesian Navy was worth a fart in a vac suit, it wouldn"t matter. Two or three cruisers—hell, even a single destroyer!—deployed to cover the same volume would cause any pirate to seek safer pastures. But the Silesian Confederacy was more of a perpetually ongoing meltdown than a star nation.

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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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