On board The Protector, there was one more week
of quiet regularity. Functionary cherished the pleasurable nature of
the boredom and dullness of the waiting, appreciating the comparative
virtues of its mundane regularity, of its safety and its security in
sharp counterpoint to the extreme risk, terror and high probability of
death which was imminent. Suddenly, the most ordinary, empty and normal
moments, became periods to savour.
Service intelligence guessed wrong. While the Voracious swarmed on the far side of the Flour Sack, the invading force failed to take the obvious short route towards to the boundaries of the System, where the Fleet Battle Group lay waiting and prepared. Instead, the Voracious fleet took a longer circuitous route along the far side of the Flour Sack, before appearing as a distant, indistinct blob on the longer-sighted sensors possessed by some of the warships of the Fleet. Hurriedly, the Fleet lumbered to intercept the Voracious, each group of vessels having to move at its own pace. The service vessels were left trailing in the distance and even military vessels like The Protector struggled to keep in contact with the fastest and more modern vessels. By the time the Service Fleet intercepted the Voracious, any chance of surprise had been lost. Similarly, the highly organised battle fleet was now chaotically spread across space with carefully laid plans now being rapidly and regularly redrawn. The Voracious were now able to dictate to pattern of engagement and pick-off small groups of Service vessels.
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