There’s just FIVE days to go till Wanderer – Origins hits the shops, so it’s time for a another sneak preview…
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t read the first three Wanderer books then what follows will contain spoilers!
Jess sat lost in wonder as he soaked up information from the Wanderer’s sensors. Since escaping slavery on the Wanderer he had grown used to travelling through the swirling mists of jump space, but this… this was something else.
Jump space existed alongside normal space, though it was very different. Ships travelled far faster in jump space but with no way to change direction or speed. Other ships were never seen and sensors couldn’t penetrate the mists at all. Normally. The Wanderer was the exception to both rules, being able to change direction in jump space and detect other ships. Even so, when travelling through jump space Jess was always aware that they were somewhere very different from real space.
Jess had believed jump space was as fast as any ship could go. Now he knew differently. The Wanderer was moving far faster than was possible in jump space. A journey which should have taken months would now take less than seven hours.
And yet the Wanderer wasn’t moving, by some measures at least. Compared to nearby space the Wanderer was stationary. Local space was moving just as quickly as the Wanderer, heading for the same destination.
Jess felt a presence in his mind, nudging for attention. The Wanderer. The presence had stopped feeling strange not long after his connection to the ship was forged. Now he couldn’t imagine life without the link. Without taking his attention away from the amazing display outside the ship he absorbed what the Wanderer was trying to tell him.
He gazed at the wonders surrounding him a little longer, then sighed deeply and tore his attention away. The Wanderer was right, there were things to be done. The ship was in terrible condition after the most recent run in with the Imperial fleet that had dogged his footsteps. Every shield and weapon was down. The hull was smashed open in several locations and cracked in many more. All thrusters were out of action, as were the jump engines. And those were just the most pressing matters.
Jess didn’t know whether the Imperial fleet had followed, but he thought it was likely. They had already chased the Wanderer across a number of systems and even through the Quarantine Zone. Jess still didn’t know quite how the fleet had been able to track the Wanderer, but they certainly had. He was pretty certain the fleet wasn’t far behind.
Even if they weren’t he couldn’t count on a peaceful reception at the other end. While the jump engines were down the Wanderer would be trapped in normal space. With no thrusters the ship would be a sitting duck. With no weapons or shields it would be a dead duck.
The running battles with the Imperial fleet had taken their toll on the Wanderer’s supplies. Any repairs would be fuelled by cannibalising other parts of the ship. Given enough time the Wanderer could completely change its shape and structure, forging a complete but smaller ship out of the partly wrecked form it now had.
But there wasn’t enough time. It would take the Wanderer at least a day, and probably closer to two, which was far too long. He would have to prioritise the most critical repairs and oversee them himself.
Where should he start? The jump engines were a must. Without them the Wanderer could be hunted down by fast interceptors which would inflict more damage and bring her down. Fixing them wouldn’t be enough to see him safe. The fleet’s uncanny ability to track the Wanderer through normal and jump space meant nowhere was safe for long.
But in jump space the pursuing fleet couldn’t draw closer. In fact the Wanderer would be able to increase the separation. And all the while further repairs could continue.
The jump engines were top of the list, along with getting some shields online. Not for defence against hostile ships, though that was a useful side effect, but to keep the ship safe within jump space. Without shields the Wanderer would be obliterated within seconds of jumping.
Weapons were less critical. Jess wanted to get a few online for point defence against missiles and other debris, but other than that they could wait. Thrusters were another matter. Currently the Wanderer would be adrift in space when it reached the end of its amazing journey.
Jess had no idea whether the ship would gently exit at rest compared to the local system or be flung out at immense speed. Whichever it was, or if it was something in between, the ability to manoeuvre and avoid dangers would be critical.
The hull… that was a whole series of issues. Some areas could be patched up. Others needed major repair work, especially if the ship was to withstand combat. Then there were hundreds of damaged subsystems which the main systems relied on. Even focusing on just the most critical issues there was enough work to keep dozens of people busy.
That’s it for now, but stay tuned. The last preview will be the entire first chapter…