Authors: John G. Hemry
Tags: #Science Fiction
|Against All Enemies|
John G. Hemry's novels featuring Lieutenant Paul Sinclair have been hailed as "Superior military SF" (Booklist) and "military science fiction at its best" (Rumbles Magazine). Now, Sinclair finds himself fighting for justice once more—and the danger is closer than ever before . . .
After a long tour as legal officer aboard the star ship USS Michaelson Paul Sinclair is anticipating shore duty. Too bad it's canceled when a group of religious fanatics hijacks a freighter and invades an asteroid. Fearing they could threaten the earth with asteroid debris, starships from several countries converge on the scene. But their mission turns deadly when the South Asian Alliance opens fire on the asteroid.
After the smoke clears, Paul suspects the Michaelson's rules of engagement have been compromised—suspicions that are confirmed when NCIS asks him to work covertly as a spy. Someone onboard the Michaelson's is selling secrets, and to uncover the traitor, Paul must walk the dangerous line between duty and honor . . .
First printing, December 2005
A Baen Ebook
Copyright© 2005 by John G. Hemry
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
Electronic version by WebWrights
|For Carolyn, Jack and James,|
for all you are and all you will be.
And for S, as always.
I am indebted to my editor, Anne Sowards, for her usual valuable support and editing, and to my agent, Joshua Bilmes, for his suggestions and assistance. I'd also like to thank the special agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) with whom I worked while assigned to that command and from whom I learned much about how to catch those engaged in espionage.
(a) That the accused communicated, delivered, or transmitted any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, note, instrument, appliance, or information relating to the national defense;
(b) That this matter was communicated, delivered, or transmitted to any foreign government, or to any faction or party or military or naval force within a foreign country, whether recognized or unrecognized by the United States, or to any representative, officer, agent, employee, subject, or citizen thereof, either directly or indirectly; and
(c) That the accused did so with intent or reason to believe that such matter would be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation.
—Rules for Courts-Martial
Manual for Courts-Martial, United States
There were times when the bridge of the USS
became a nerve-wracking maelstrom of activity, with orders being hurled at the watch standers and emergencies from every quarter demanding their immediate attention. Most other times, the bridge simply held the tension of watchful waiting as the crew members there kept alert for internal surprises and external threats.
But then there were times like this. Late at night, the lights on the bridge lowered to accommodate the day/night cycle the
's crew had carried with them from Earth, the infinite stars glowing with amazing brilliance on the viewscreens and dimming the soft green status lights on the control panels. No tension, no special activity, just quiet and boredom on top of too many long days with too little sleep.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Paul Sinclair felt his eyes drooping. He couldn't seem to stop the wave of fatigue settling over him, couldn't seem to force his eyes open. He felt a surge of fear which somehow didn't penetrate the fog falling across his vision. Falling asleep on watch had to be one of the worst things an officer could do. It would disgrace him, place the entire ship in danger if something happened when he was supposed to be alert and watching for the unexpected, and doubtless deal a deathblow to his career.
Paul's eyes fell further. He couldn't keep them open. With a titanic effort born of anger and fear, he wrenched himself fully awake.
And found himself staring at the nearby, dim patterns of the ducts, cables and wiring which ran across the overhead just above his bunk in his darkened stateroom. The moment's disorientation passed, then Paul clenched his eyes shut again.
A nightmare. I had a nightmare I was falling asleep on watch so I woke myself up for real. Great
. He opened his eyes again long enough to check on the time.
And in less than forty minutes I need to get out of this bunk and actually stand watch. I can't believe I just woke myself up when I'm only going to get about four hours sleep tonight as it is
. He tried to calm down from the stress induced by the nightmare, breathing slowly, hoping to get back to sleep quickly.
What a dumb thing to do. I guess as nightmares go that one's pretty harmless, though
Much better than the ones he sometimes had about something happening to Jen.
* * *
About an hour later, Paul pulled himself onto the bridge, wishing that he was still asleep and dreaming this watch away. The time counters in the corner of each bridge display screen all provided the same annoying information – 0345 on the twenty-four hour military clock. 'Dawn' on the
wouldn't take place for more than another two hours, but Paul's work day had begun.
"Howdy." Lieutenant Junior Grade Brad Pullman yawned even as he greeted Paul. He waved one hand toward the screen facing the junior officer of the deck watch station. "It's still there. They're still there. We're still here."
"I know. I checked the situation out in Combat on my way up here." Paul studied the screen, even though it held nothing new or unexpected. A fairly large asteroid filled most of the screen, slowly tumbling over and over just as it had for however many millions of years it had wandered through space. As the asteroid's surface turned, the
's fire control systems painted a constantly changing set of aim points and firing solutions on temporary structures scattered across the bare rock.
The next screen showed a much larger view, in which the asteroid occupied only a small section. Scattered around it were the highlighted symbols which announced the presence of an even dozen warships and hired merchant ships. All the other ships carried temporary "friendly" identifiers, but they, too, had firing solutions pasted over their symbols.
Pullman followed Paul's gaze. "Is it true this is the biggest gathering of warships in space? Ever?"
"Yeah," Paul confirmed. "My chief checked."
"So this is what making history feels like."
"Do you mean boring but tense, or just tedious?"
Pullman grinned and stretched. "Both. Any other questions?"
"Is anything scheduled for this morning? I didn't have anything listed in Combat."
"If we had anything, the Combat Information Center would have it, too. And I guess they'd tell you, Mr. Combat Information Center Officer." Pullman smiled again.
Paul snorted. "Yes, they would, but sometimes different orders get passed to the bridge and somebody forgets to tell Combat. It never hurts to make sure that didn't happen."
Pullman yawned once more. "To answer your question formally, no, there's nothing new laid on this morning. Unscheduled events can occur at any time, of course."
Like somebody starting to shoot at somebody else
, Paul thought bleakly. "Otherwise just hold position and monitor events."
"Otherwise just hold position and monitor events," Pullman agreed. "Same old."
Paul scanned the status panels one more time, noting what equipment was ready to go and what rested in standby. "Okay, I got it." Paul saluted. "I relieve you, sir."
"I stand relieved." Pullman returned the salute. "On the bridge, this is Lieutenant JG Pullman. Lieutenant JG Sinclair has the conn."
"This is Lieutenant JG Sinclair. I have the conn." Paul kept his hand locked on the nearest hold while Pullman unstrapped and swung himself out of the watch stander's seat, then pulled himself down and refastened the straps without having to look at them. The gesture had been repeated so many times by now, on so many watches, that Paul was sure he could fasten those straps in his sleep if he needed to. "I'll try to keep things quiet so you can catch up on your beauty sleep, Brad."
Pullman rolled his eyes. "Wow. A couple of hours until reveille. Isn't there some regulation about letting us get enough sleep?"
"Yeah. Every officer is supposed to get at least the necessary minimum hours of sleep in each twenty-four hour period."
"So what's the necessary minimum?"
"The regulation doesn't say. It leaves that up to the individual ship. Which of course means the XO." Which meant the ship's Executive Officer, the second in command. Which on the
still meant Commander Kwan, who still didn't particularly like Paul. But in any case XOs had never been known for their kindly and casual ways.
"The XO sets the minimum," Pullman mused. "Which I guess means the minimum is whatever you manage to get."
"Bingo. But cheer up. If the minimum wasn't good enough . . ."
"It wouldn't be the minimum." Pullman waved a farewell with his free hand as the other grasped a nearby handhold to propel him toward the hatch leading off the bridge.
Paul grinned, turning to offer his own farewell to Lieutenant Kris Denaldo as she finished turning over officer of the deck duties to Lieutenant Val Isakov. Kris nodded back, then raised one hand with the thumb and forefinger held out parallel to each other and only a short distance apart. Paul grinned wider at the hand gesture signifying that Kris was "short," as in not long left before she transferred off the ship. "You're not gone, yet," he reminded her.
"No. But another day's gone. I'm very, very short." She smiled. "Soon I'll be short enough to walk under the lines painted on the deck. And soon after
I'll actually get to sleep every night instead of standing watches."
"I thought you intended doing other things during your free nights."
"Depends if I find the right guy. Has Jen told you to take a hike, yet?"
"Fine. I'm tired of waiting. You're off my list. I'd love to stay and chat the rest of the night away, but my bunk is calling."