First officer Jon Silverberg of the Fringe destroyer Burlingame, reclining in his seat in the control room, gazed at the pixels assembled on the starmap. He examined in particular the symbol representing the League destroyer Roosevelt. It had been hovering around Campeche for eight months. There were other League ships in the sector. They had been there just as long.
Presently, Silverberg blinked. He examined his fingernails. He updated the starmap and studied it. He rubbed his bridge of his nose. When he was finished with all that, he leaned forward, lifted a small cover on the control board, and pressed the button underneath. Status lights turned yellow.
He slapped the PA button on the arm of his chair. "I don't like the way those gunships are maneuvering."
The voice belonged to McCarthy, the man in the WR. "Got it. I'm awake up here, sir."
Silverberg nodded to himself as the room again filled with silence. Everyone on Campeche knew that the League had to be just as tired of waiting as the Fringe. The picket line could become a battle fleet at any time.
The computer beeped for attention and Silverberg frowned, then updated the starmap. More ships jumping in. So, he thought, it's going to happen today. He put the ship on red alert almost unconsciously.
McCarthy again. "Weapons armed, sir. Um, but--"
Silverberg saw the cause of the man's confusion as the symbols resolved on his starmap. They didn't belong to the League. He slapped his PA on again.
"Those are EAOS ships. What the hell's going on?"
"I don't know, sir."
"Whose side are they supposed to be on?"
Silverberg frowned more severely and updated his starmap. The EAOS ships were gathering around the Roosevelt. They were either forming a support group for the damned thing, or effectively ambushing it. Well, whichever it was...
"Silverberg again. Who's manning the ER?" No response. "Damn. I'm moving in. We'll see who fires on whom."
He ignored the distracted acknowledgments and put the ship on autopilot toward the Roosevelt. He updated his starmap as the ship moved. The EAOS ships had fully surrounded the League destroyer and several League gunships, and had stopped moving.
The computer beeped repeatedly at him. He glared at the status readout, blinked, and read it more carefully.
He got back on the PA. "McCarthy! The EAOS is on our side and they've all just unloaded some torps. Lock on the Roosevelt and fire when ready with all you've got."
It was another moment until the ship stopped moving. He updated the starmap and went to manual control, then adjusted the ship's position. McCarthy was already firing as the ship came to a stop.
"That's a miss, sir, " came McCarthy's voice, as another said, "This is Rogers in the ER, sir."
"Thank you, Rogers. Salvo of two, McCarthy. Keep it up."
The ship shuddered as another round of torpedoes was fired. He swiveled rapidly in his chair toward the window to see for himself, then back toward the controls as the computer indicated that the EAOS ships were firing again. He waited a brief moment, then updated the starmap.
No League destroyer. No debris.
"McCarthy, I need a confirm."
"Yes, sir. It's gone. Destroyed."
Silverberg glanced up toward the hatch leading to the WR, and saw McCarthy looking down at him. "Yes?"
"We got it, " McCarthy said. "We made the kill."
Silverberg grinned, then leaned back in his chair as the computer reported that two League ships had jumped out. He flicked the PA back on.
"Gentlemen, I believe this siege is broken." He switched the ship to autopilot and pulled up a new destination. "We're heading for those gunships. McCarthy, I want salvoes of two, just like last time..."
(Excerpted from: Foster, "Burlingame: The Ship that Made the Kill," 2285)
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