Morash system, Dark Sea constellation – two gates from Litash.
The starships of Imperial Navy task force 3-46 hung in orbit around Morash’s outer gas giant, skydivers darting around them as they refueled for the final move on Litash.
A Starwing-class courier, oversized triple radiators glowing high orange with the backed-up heat of a fast transit from the Core, eased itself alongside the command battlecruiser, CS Unyielding Order. A boarding tunnel was thrown across, the axe-hafts of the side party thudded against the deck, trumpets blared, and its single passenger disembarked.
His meeting with the Admiral commanding was a study in contrasts: he, dark-haired and pale-eyed, cultivating diplomatic blandness to suit the formal white-and-gold court robes of a Stellar Councilman; she, small, blonde, almost birdlike in aspect beneath the uniform with its nine-pointed admiral’s stars… until attention caught upon her space-black raptor’s eyes.
”Here to exercise some restraint?”
”The operation is all yours, Admiral. But since the Stellar Council ordered this special weapons op, I thought one of us should see the job done.”
”Well, that, and we are hanging you out at the end of a long line with this one. I thought a visible sign of support might be useful. And it is good,” he added, shifting modes to the personal, ”to see you in action again, Caliéne.”
”Ha! You always were sentimental, Cyprium. Come on, we’ll get some lunch and I’ll walk you through the ops plan. The Litashian fleet’s already cored and drifting, they just don’t know it yet.”