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The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story - Chpt 14

 
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:29 am    Post subject: The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story - Chpt 14 Reply with quote

Avatar did this chapter and left it with me to post and so...here it is, Av's chapter:






The Gap Into Knowledge: The Real Story

Chapter 14

We rejoin Angus hot on the trail of the distressed supply ship, hunting her for reasons that Nick Succorso has no inkling of, as his tracking gear chimes to alert him that he’s crossed her trail. But Angus is surprised…it’s at least three hours earlier than he expected. The missing ship shouldn’t be this close to Com-Mine.

Ever alert and suspicious, and careless of the stress on his own body, Angus hauls his ship around and drops spin to improve his scan picture. There’s something wrong with the particle trace...it doesn’t match what would be normal for a ship like the one he’s supposed to be looking for.

So suspicious that it’s like nausea in his throat, he studies his readouts. He can’t accept mere coincidence…in all the vastness of space, a random ship along that specific vector was so far against the odds that it approached impossibility. And if it was the ship, that meant she was close…and that he had the perfect opportunity to set an ambush for Nick, to catch him in the act, to rescue the survivors, to scavenge the cargo and get away scot free.

Angus was torn…torn and terrified. If he guessed wrong, he would lose his chance, and be forced to face the consequences of his attack on Nick. Nick, with his newer ship, his loyal crew, his security collaborator. Angus might be forced to hide in the belt for years, unable to cross the gap, and unable to find shelter on Station.

Sweating profusely as always under pressure, Angus nonetheless acts unhesitatingly…as though he knew all along what he was doing. Searching for the telltale trace of a gap exit, he finds it, follows it, and learns that as expected, the supply ship was decelerating.

Caught in the grip of feverish doubt though, Angus slows down himself, hoping to sneak up on the ship unseen, to lay his ambush for Nick. Even as he worked he planned his attack…planned how he would torment Morn by making her watch…how he would abuse her afterwards until she broke.

But the ship never appeared. Still decelerating according to her trace, she refused to show up on scan. Something he knew should be impossible. Suddenly an answer occurred to him. An answer so terrifying that it stunned him for a vital few seconds that almost cost him his ship and his life.

Just ahead of Bright Beauty, a sudden burst in the trace showed massive acceleration. Here, at this point in space, the lost and drifting ship had suddenly piled on full thrust. A manoeuvre so insane that no crippled ship would ever make it. No ship waiting for help would accelerate…and so it could only be that the ship was not crippled, or waiting for rescue. In a flash he knew that he had been tricked…that there was no supply ship…no distress call. That the ambusher was in fact the ambushed.

Paralysed by the extent of the ruse, he expected his immediate death…certain of his inability to outmanoeuvre the originator of this trick. Trapped, he looked at Morn..still blanked by the zone implant…helpless. Like his beloved ship. Helpless unless he could contrive some way to save them both.

At that moment, I’m not sure which was more important to Angus. And I suspect that he didn’t either.

Clamping his throat around the howl that rose in it, without pause for thought, he hauled his ship around pointing all her sensors at the blind spot that had been created when he cut off spin. Instantly, every warning klaxon went off, howling like the damned.

There, in what had been his blind spot, was a ship coming right for him. Not just coming right for him, but already firing…a flight of torpedoes en route to his position even as he turned.

His terror was absolute. And in his extremity, Angus became superhuman. Provoked by his psychological stress into feats that anybody would be incapable of, he unleashed all the power of Bright Beauty’s thrust while she turned, kicking her off at an oblique angle that threw her tumbling almost out of control, subjecting her to stress that could easily tear her apart.

And making the torpedoes miss.

The gravity generated by the tumbled should have crushed him unconscious. It should have disorientated him so much that any kind of manoeuvre would be impossible. That any kind of retaliation should have been impossible.

Instead, even as Bright Beauty tumbled wildly, Angus opened fire. And his matter cannon came so close that the attacker was forced to veer off.

He couldn’t identify her, but she could only be Captains Fancy. Somehow, Nick had intersected the transmission vector, and had lured Angus to follow him. Then as Angus slowed, he’d accelerated, looped round, and come up behind him. But Angus didn’t care. How it happened, who it was, none of these things troubled him for an instant. Only one thing mattered. He had to fight for his life.

For his life. For Bright Beauty. For Morn Hyland.

Tumbling, unable to read his screens, he still managed to know what the other ship did. To know where she was. And as the other ship came around and lined up her guns, Angus braked, straightened out, and poured on all the thrust he could stand without blacking out. Fire grazed her as she pulled out of range of the surprised attacker.

Crushed by acceleration, Angus could finally read his screens. And the other ship was gaining. But Angus couldn’t accelerate any more. Not without blacking out, where he wouldn’t know what had happened until he woke, alive and drifting, or in hell.

So against all intuition, Angus didn’t thrust. He didn’t take evasive action. He kept straight and level, dropping a flotilla of static mines in his wake while he chewed unconsciously on his bleeding lip.

The attacking ship fired, and the static mines that were hit set off the others until the barrage of signal noise blinded the other ship. With ten seconds of grace, Angus wrenched Bright Beauty off her course, boosted extra hard for a second or two, and shut down his ship. He shut down everything. Thrust…communications…sensors…lights...life support. Everything except his basic systems, and his matter cannon.

He tried to make himself invisible to the foe that had him outgunned, outmanned, and out-powered. Sweat drenched him as his claustrophobic terror clutched his soul. His whole body focused on passive scan until at last he saw the flicker of his enemy under power, moving slowly now, hunting him blindly through the residue of the static mines. Unaware of his location. And suddenly almost under his guns.

He begged her to draw closer. Begged for one good shot. All he needed was time.

And just as he was about to gut her, she saw him, or guessed his intent. Fired thrust accelerating out of his way.

Raging, he sends cannon fire like hate at her, splitting open her side even as she fired back. And it wasn’t enough. She escaped. And she hit him. And hurt him. The sound of her engines roaring to life told him immediately that the ship he knew intimately was damaged. Almost impossible to control, he fought the side-blast of a holed thruster tube and knew that he couldn’t do it alone.

Unable to fail and die, he didn’t know what to do. How to save his ship. And shutting down thrust, he found his enemy poised and ready as he stared down its cannon.

His anger, his hate, his inspiration, were gone. He was helpless against her and he knew it. Suddenly his comm. Channel crackled. Nick Succorso.

“You’re beaten. Remember that. I warned you.”

And without another shot, Captains Fancy pulled away, leaving him alone and damaged. Bereft. Marooned. Unable to understand why he was alive.


Arrow The instant I read this chapter, (I read the whole book at a sitting basically), I knew it was the one I wanted. Reading it, what struck me most powerfully was not the action, not the excitement, it was how much I sympathised with Angus.

“How does he do it?” I thought. In the Chrons, he gives us a character who should be the very epitome of a sympathy case. A man, abandoned by wife and son because of a disease over which he had no control, ostracised by his community, shunned and broken in spirit…and he makes us loathe him.

Now, we’re faced with a man who should repulse us in every aspect. A murderer, a thief, a rapist. And worse. And yet, crammed into the cockpit of Bright Beauty, how can we not feel his fear. His anguish. The effort he exerts against all odds to impossibly rescue his ship, Morn, and his life. Perhaps in that order, perhaps not.

I finished this chapter and wondered how I could possibly be feeling for Angus, but knowing that right there, I did.
--A
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Usivius
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

heheh, great recap ... I felt I was reading the darn chapter!
Wink

And here is the beauty of SRD's writing: there is something nearly for everyone, and everyone will see it differently -- not correctly or incorrectly, just differently.

I, at no time, felt sorry for Angus... you could feel the tension of the hunt, of his predicament, and of the build up of a conclusion, but never did I feel pity for the man. I WANTED him to get what was coming to him. I wanted Nick to be THE MAN! Spoiler:
(and there is where I felt the pity -- Nick COULD have been... but wasn't, and I pitied him for his bad choices made... But that's another story ... Wink


Good stuff, Avatar... Smile
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i felt the same as you did, av. i kept thinking, how can i feel sorry for angus? what is wrong with me?

i've started on the second book now. it is a new book to me, and i am excited to see where the story goes.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 2:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read the series before. I loathe Angus - having been a rape victim myself in childhood - but after reading the series, I came to hate Nick even more.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Usivius wrote:
heheh, great recap ... I felt I was reading the darn chapter!
Wink

And here is the beauty of SRD's writing: there is something nearly for everyone, and everyone will see it differently -- not correctly or incorrectly, just differently.

I, at no time, felt sorry for Angus... you could feel the tension of the hunt, of his predicament, and of the build up of a conclusion, but never did I feel pity for the man. I WANTED him to get what was coming to him. I wanted Nick to be THE MAN! Spoiler:
(and there is where I felt the pity -- Nick COULD have been... but wasn't, and I pitied him for his bad choices made... But that's another story ... Wink


Good stuff, Avatar... Smile


I agree with your feelings toward Nick, especially the spoiler.

Spoiler:
In fact, my feelings against Nick in books 2 and 3 and then against Morn in book 3 were what finally made me stop reading the first time. I just didn't like anyone in the book.



And I agree that I never pitied Angus. I did greatly admire his ability under fire, but never liked or cared about him.[/spoiler]
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