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Colman nodded. He wouldn t have risked their deciding to fire first either. Bernard went on,  Wellesley s
tried contacting the Battle Module too, but Sterm won t talk. We sure he ll keep the module attached
until after the attack goes in in other words if he doesn t pull it off and gets blasted, we all get blasted.
The same thing applies if the Chironians decide to press the button. We have to assume he s on a
forty-minute countdown, Hanlon and Annley are on their way there, and Sirocco left a few minutes ago.
Borftein is sending through everybody he can scrape together. What are the chances?
A carrier full of combat-suited infantry nursing antitank missile launchers and demolition equipment slid
through the lock and lurched onto a branch leading to one of the Battle Module s forward ramps.  Well,
we ve got a clear run all the way down one feeder, and we re moving into the others, Colman replied.
 There s been some fighting inside the Battle Module, and a lot of the guys got out. We have to hope that
there aren t enough left to stop us from blowing our way in through four places at once. Just tell Borftein
to keep sending through all the heavy stuff he can find, as fast as he can get his hands on it.
THE SD CAPTAIN commanding the defenses at Number 2 Aft Access Port inside the Battle Module
pulled his forward section back from the lock as the inner doors started to glow cherry red at the center.
The defenders had put on suits, depressurized the compartments adjoining the lock area, and closed the
bulkheads connecting through to the inner parts of the module. From his position behind the armored
glass partition overlooking the area from the lock control room, he could see the first of the
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remote-control automatic cannon rolling through from the rear.  Hurry up with those RCC s, he shouted
into his helmet microphone.  Yellow section take up covering positions. Green and Red prepare to fall
back to the longitudinal bulkhead locks,
 You must hold out to the last man, Colonel Oordsen, who was following events from the Bridge, said
on one of the control room screens.  We re almost ready to detach the module.
 We will if we have to, sir, the captain assured him.
Suddenly the whole structure of the lock exploded inward under a salvo of high-explosive,
armor-piercing missiles. Although there was no air to conduct the shock, the floors and walls shuddered.
Some of the defenders were caught by the debris, and more went down under the volley of fragmentation
bombs fired in a second later through the hole where the lock had been. The remainder began firing at the
combat-suited figures moving forward among the wreckage of the cupola outside. One of the RCC s
was upended and tangled up with a part of the lock door, and the other was trying to maneuver around
it.  Red section, move to fallback positions, the captain yelled.  Covering 
Another missile salvo streaked in and smashed into the walls and structures inboard from the lock,
wiping out half the force that had just begun to move. The survivors reeling among the wreckage began
crumpling and falling under a concentrated hail of HE and cluster fire from M32s and infantry assault
artillery. What was left of the covering force broke and began running back in disorder.  Get everybody
out! Pull back to  The glass partition imploded under a direct hit, and a split second later a guided
bomb carrying a five-hundred-pound incendiary warhead put an end to all resistance in the vicinity of
Number 2 Aft Access Port,
On the Bridge of the Battle Module, Colonel Oordsen turned his head from the screen that had just gone
dead in front of him. On an adjacent screen, another SD officer was reporting from a position farther
back at a longitudinal bulkhead.  Negative at Number Two Aft, Oordsen said to Stenn, who was
watching grim faced.  They ll be through there in a matter of minutes.
 How long before the Kuan-yin is eclipsed? Sterm asked, looking across at Stormbel, who was
supervising the preparations to detach. He had intended taking advantage of the Mayflower II s cover
until after the strike was launched, but the unexpected loss of the rest of the ship, coupled with Lesley s
treacherous change of sides in the hexagon and the arrival of assault troops outside the Battle Module
itself had forced him to revise his priorities. There would be little point in destroying the Kuan-yin if he
lost the Battle Module in the process. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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