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deep groan. Churlstein climbed to his feet.

"There's no reason to hide, either. Everyone knows you're here."



CHAPTER 17



Ix less than a minute, the image of the cruiser had grown to fill over seventy-five percent of the screen. Only the nose of the ship, with its huge fighter bay, and the belly were visible as it rushed toward the Agamemnon. It looked like a giant gun barrel pointed right down their throats. John had launched fighters, evacuated the outer levels of the ship, ordered pressure doors and blast doors sealed. Things had grown quiet over the link. John seldom thought about dying, but as there was nothing much else he could do in the intervening moments, he thought of Anna, and the pain this would put her through. He wanted, more than anything, to see her one more time and tell her he loved her. The cruiser filled the entire screen now. He could see every gun, transmitter, scanner, and sensor attached to the hull.

"Spano," Ross yelled over the link, "watch out!"

Then a jumble of static and sound squawked from the link, and Ross boomed,

"Captain, I'm firing."

"Brace for impact," John yelled.

The cruiser was nearly on top of them. When those explosives went, they could take out the Agamemnon. The fore starboard cannon fired, the laser a line of brilliance against the gunmetal-gray hull of the cruiser, momentarily connecting the two ships. John didn't know if the terrorists set off the explosives or the laser did. He saw two brilliant flares of light in succession, one in the belly of the cruiser, the second, blinding bright, in the fighter bay in the nose. He threw a hand over his eyes. Then, through the diminishing light, he saw the cruiser fly apart, and a huge fragment of hull from the nose flew straight at them. The Agamemnon
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