8 The report from every station was the same. The
crew was simply gone! North sat down in the command chair, plugged in
his command com, and took control of the ship. "Computer," he
9 "Yes, sir," the ship answered.
10 "I want you to play me the last twenty-five minutes when the crew
still appears on the command deck out of your automatic data storage."
11 "Processing," answered the computer. A few moments later the image
of the crew as seen from the observation camera mounted over the main
screen appeared. The wide-angled lens showed the whole command deck,
though the image was somewhat distorted.
12 "Computer," ordered North, "can you alter the recording to a normal
13 "Affirmative," answered the computer. The image straightened out,
and North could perceive what was going on much better.
14 "I tell you," Firing Control was saying, "that can't be a Hashon
hold out. THAT thing is HUGE the size of a small planet!"
15 "I don't care WHO it belongs to," answered the Commander, "they're
not stealing from the Empire. Continue to close, at battle speed. We'll
open fire on their engines with a full barrage from the tubes, and
launch a couple of bolts at them."
16 The Firing Control Officer shrugged and returned to his instruments.
17 "Still no response to our orders that they shut down, sir,"
announced Communications, "if anything, they're increasing speed."
18 "Continue to close," the Commander repeated.
19 "Computer," requested North, "show me what they're attacking, and
give me a size grid."
20 "Oh, my God!" cried one of the Officers with him as the image
appeared on the screen. It was a huge, metallic