The edge, p.31
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       The Edge, p.31

           Leslie Lee
 
moment. The way the other two pilots swung their weapons, they seemed to feel it too.

  Mak pointed to the damage.

  "Been a fight," whispered Jerry. "Wonder who won."

  "Wonder who the sides were," said K'hon.

  "Wonder where they all are." Jerry returned, looking at K'hon. "Top that one."

  "Wonder if I'll punch your lights out," K'hon threatened.

  Jerry laughed showing his black blunt teeth.

  Most of the consoles were offline. Some had been destroyed in weapons fire. There was blood on the floor in some places.

  Mak flicked on his comm. They wouldn't be hanging around if somebody was tracing. "Jamaal?"

  "Hold on." There was a short pause and the background noise went away. "Okay, I'm in a hopefully secure area."

  "The Bridge is empty."

  "What do you mean?"

  "There's no one here. Looks like there's been a fight but there's no bodies."

  "Who's flying the ship?"

  Mak had to smile. "We're not flying at all. We're hung up on a reef."

  "Hey," protested Jerry. "That's my line."

  "Hold on. I'm going to try to contact the security teams assigned to the Bridge."

  The Squad Ops room was equally empty. They continued to roam through the empty control room until they reached the end.

  "Mak," Jamaal said. "Can't raise anyone from the security teams. You'd better get out of there. A Soldier unit is on its way."

  K'hon swore. "Now he tells us."

  They started running for the exit at the other end of the Bridge. They heard the clatter of boots on the decking. They weren't going to make it.

  "Hide?" Jerry suggested.

  "Fight," K'hon said grimly.

  "Get your overalls off," Mak said quickly.

  "Hardly seems the time and place, Boss," Jerry said. K'hon just gaped.

  "You do have your uniforms on underneath." Mak peeled off the overalls to reveal his flight suit. The others did the same, then followed him up to the command console where he stood and waited.

  "Put your guns away," Mak snapped when he saw their drawn firearms.

  Reluctantly, they did.

  The Soldiers rushed in their weapons waving wildly and taking cover.

  "For God's sake," Mak shouted. "What'd you do, stop for coffee? Get over here now. Where's your commanding officer?"

  The Soldiers trained their weapons on them but looked at each other uncomfortably.

  "Come on, Soldier, speak up," Mak barked at them. "We don't have all day."

  A Soldier came to the front. "I'm in command,"

  "Aren't your orders to secure the Bridge?"

  The Soldier nodded. "And to suppress any resistance."

  "In case you haven't noticed, Soldier, this place is empty. The people flying this ship have gone away. You are now going to learn to operate the fleet's biggest damned ship!" The Soldiers looked around. "Jerry, take half the men and man the navigation stations, K'hon take the other half and man communications and weapons." He turned his back on the Soldiers and punched in the codes to put Security onto the big screen.

  A security op showed up on the big Screen. "Security here." She looked suspiciously at Mak.

  "Where's Jamaal? This is the Bridge, where's that security team, goddammit?"

  Jamaal suddenly appeared on the woman's shoulder. "Mak?" he said.

  "I've got the Soldiers, but where's the security team you promised?"

  Jamaal looked blank. Mak turned back.

  "Let's move, Soldiers, let's make it now. Somebody's gotta fly this bird, and it's your lucky day."

  The Soldier officer hesitated, then said, "Alpha group with?"

  "Him," Mak said curtly, pointing at Jerry. "Get those navigation stations online. Now."

  "Beta group with him,"

  "What's your name, Soldier," Mak said sharply.

  "Hasui? sir."

  "You're my liaison then. Who's your commanding officer?"

  "Phillips. I need to contact him."

  "Do that then." Jamaal disappeared from the screen.

  "Comms seem to be out," Hasui said tapping his comm.

  "Then we'll have to do without." Mak thanked his lucky stars, and Jamaal.

  "Our command structure has been damaged, sir. There's been cases of zombifiying and, there's been some odd behavior in the officers."

  "We're going to have to do the best we can," Mak looked closely at Hasui. "This is what we're trained for, Soldier. This is the big time now."

  He wondered if he should pull any more clich?s out of his butt.

  "Yes sir."

  "Come on, Soldier," Mak said, "Let's see if we can contact the other ships. People are counting on us."

  Hasui looked at his comm one last time then came over and helped him clear the debris.

  "Do you know how many Soldiers were up here?" Mak asked

  "No, sir. But it was helluva lot more than none."

  "Alright then. When Security shows up I want to make sure we're not taken by surprise."

  "Surprise by who?"

  "That's part of the surprise, Soldier." He straightened up and flicked on his own comm. "Th'han'dra, this is Mak."

  "Th'han'dra here."

  "We're covering the Bridge with the help of a platoon of a Soldiers. What have you got?"

  There was silence. "Say again, Mak. You've got Soldiers helping you?"

  "Affirmative."

  "I've gotten a hold of Silver Shark and White Wolf. Haven't been able to contact other pod crews yet."

  "Let them contact the other crews. I need help on the Bridge and I need you to run Squad Ops. Any warm body that's still functioning bring them with you."

  "Got it."

  "Mak out." He turned back to the Soldier officer. "I need to know how weapons, navigation, and communications are doing."

  "Yes sir." He hurried away.

  He realized Security was still on the screen. Jamaal had been watching the whole time.

  "Any status?" he asked carefully.

  "Security team is on it's way to help you out. They'll get there about the same tine as Th'han'dra. Internal scanners are deteriorating. The ship's going dark."

  "Emanating from that rock?"

  "Yes? sir." Mak tried not to wince.

  "Alright then. Send a general evacuation order get them close to the Bridge. Tell the Soldiers these are Bridge orders and they can contact Hasui to confirm. What about the reports of zombies?"

  Jamaal gritted his teeth. "Reports are the closer you get to the rock the more likely you are to come across them. For now, they just seem to stand there. We have a few in the brig but as far as we can tell, they're awake but non-responsive."

  "What does Ives have to say?"

  Jamaal looked even bleaker. "She was arrested by the Soldier contingent in sick bay. She's not been heard of since."

  "We need her expertise, goddammit," Mak said loudly. "Hasui. Find out where she's being held. Now's not the time to take the Chief Medical Officer out of the game because she's not wearing her dress uniform."

  The Soldier started working a console to get communications.

  "I'm also contacting other units, sir," Hasui said. Mak stiffened slightly. "They're units that we can trust, I think."

  "Very well then, Hasui. Carry on." The Soldier wasn't dumb after all.

  Jerry smiled at Mak, shaking his head in wonder.

  They continued to clear away debris and get stations up and running. Sometimes, Hasui would be interrupted by his comm and at one point he yelled back, "Look, sir. There's nobody running this damned ship so unless you have any better ideas, this seems our best chance right now."

  A security team showed up startling the Soldiers into taking up their arms. Mak just yelled at the team to get moving.

  Th'han'dra dragged in a motley crew of engineers, techs, and crewmen. She gave a nod to Mak and organized them into teams.

  There was a brief cheer as the big board suddenly sparked to life showing the po
sitions and status of Battle Group Cobra. The sudden rise in spirits was quickly extinguished. The ships were unnaturally clustered together. Even the Kyrzal Colossus group was in the cluster. But the worse things was what was in the middle of the cluster: The X.

  "You think they're close enough?" he heard K'hon snarl.

  "It's just love, man," Jerry answered.

  "Any ships missing?" Mak asked.

  Two or three people manned the few stations still working. Getting information was trial and error as each little team would try to coax the system into responding.

  "The M'hin'rah and her ships don't appear to be around here," somebody shouted out. "There, yeah. There they are. They're on the outside still maneuvering."

  "Can you raise them?" he asked the people at the comm station.

  They didn't answer as they worked the controls. There was a loud burst of static over the speakers at the command station causing Hasui to jump. Mak just covered his ears until it died down. They yelled out their apologies then suddenly the dry voice of the captain of the M'hin'rah came over the comm.

  "So somebody is home after all, goddammit." She sounded tired and tense.

  "We had to do some house cleaning," Mak said.

  "Mak? Are you back in command?"

  "Yes."

  There was a short silence. "Where's General Tennet?"

  Who the hell's that, he wondered. "Unknown as of this moment, The Bridge is being manned by Soldiers and crew gathered from around the ship. The Bridge crew is MIA."

  "Understood, We were about to evacuate the area. Our Gold Ghost pilot is starting to fail."

  "I take it that's whats happened to the other ships?"

  "The X's ships have cleared the area. That little ramming maneuver of Suth's gave some of the non-protected ships a chance to retreat. We suspect it also increased our ability to remain in the area. But our Gold Ghost pilot is definitely in decline. She's out cold though her vitals are still strong."

  "That's not gonna last."

  "Figured. Mak, there's a traffic jam around you. We can't maneuver close enough to take anybody on. And

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