Shakespere’s Widow was not a large vessel. The long-bodied Escort was modified with an extra crew module and an armored spine housing the guts of the over-powered laser system needed to launch and power the new Cerberus fighters. Despite all this, the ship had a crew of twenty-two, and was crowded. And those were just the humans.
In the forward maneuvering room, 7Hatawe Ahn paced. They were under gravity now, due to accelleration, but it was a tenuous thing; enough to walk and sit somewhat normally, but light enough that one could catch the dropped items long-time spacers inevitably let go of in mid-air. 7Hatawe spent enough time in little or no gravity to be modified for it. Her body’s fluid sensors were evenly distributed, her bladder and kidneys had implants, and her reproductive systems was purely decrorative.
Still, she liked having some gravity. Hatawe was old-fashioned like that.
Next to Hatawe, keeping time with her without intruding, was a quadcoper drone. The body of the drone was a miniature model of the Cerberus HACV, and in the drone was slightly less-than-sophont AI mind of one those fighters. The tiny shipsprite followed Hatawe like a pet.
She called the question out into the air. The air answered back.
“Logisitical hulls 127 through 181 nominal. 62 to 71 on bachrisichrone within 1% of projected limits. Hulls 21, 24, and 29 -”
“Just think it to me.” Hatawe said.
Like her new boss, Prime 3Vonday Ginal, Hatawe didn’t like to waste her surface thoughts on number crunching. At her command the report on her convoy’s position, vectors, drive efficiencies, and half a hundred other particulars was downloaded directly to her memory. If she needed the specifics, she had them, without having to distract herself. In the meantime, the impression of that data, that the impromptu convoy of two hundred spacecraft slowly tracing the grand arc from the gas giant Erishkagal to their outbound StarGate at L5. There were six Gates at the L5 point, and half of them opened from points in what had become Stellar Administration territory. Most systems anywhere near the Librans were like that now.
“How are the rest of my babies? Data only, please.” Ahn said, and a comprehensive report on Widow’s compliment of fighters became something she knew. The shipsprite next to her hovered up to eye level, trying to get Hatawe’s attention.
“Don’t be restless, Ham. We’ll get some sim-time later on, have some fun shooting bad guys. You’ll like that, won’t you?”
The ‘sprite bobbed up and down happily.
A voice intruded. “Lord Hatawe? Flight.”
“Is that anyway to talk to your mother?”
The voice chuckled. “You’ll never change, Ma. Rad signature from one of the inbound gates just spiked. Somebody’s coming in from AdStar.”
“Keep me posted.” Hatawe Ahn turned back to the banks of windows in the lounge. The armored shutters were closed, but visual displays were alight all over the curved wall. Hatawe imagined she saw a flare way out beyond Shakespere’s Widow on the forward camera. A flare that would have happened almost eighteen minutes ago.
The ‘sprite bumped up against Hatawe’s leg.
“Hamlet! Be good!” She chided.
The forward camera view Ahn had been looking at suddenly became highlight in red. A three - no, four drive signatures caught the attention of Widow’s sensors. Data scrolled across the image before her.
“Mom, Flight. AdStar destroyer division en route. ETA thrity hours to intecept, twenty-six to outer engagement range.”
“For them.” Hatawe smiled a feral smile. “Aknowledged.”
Alarms sounded and lighting changed, the Escort Carrier went on alert. 7Hatawe Ahn walked toward the gastights that led to the corridor. The forward lounge would be shut off during the alert. That was fine by Ahn - she would be in the armored guts of the ship, in the Flight Conrol Room.
Well, this body anyway.“Come on, Ham,” She tapped her thigh and the drone followed closer. “We’re going for walkies outside, for a change.”