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The attack forces' courier drones confused the blocking force gunboats, for they clearly suggested that the enemy had somehow gotten a relief force through the warp point the gunboats were charged to block. Surely that was impossible. The attacks on the enemy's support echelon had put the blocking force behind schedule, true, but not enough for that. Unless, of course, the Fleet had misjudged the enemy's initial deployments. The Fleet had been unable to scout the intervening systems before attacking, after all. It was possible that the enemy's "relief force" had actually been a routine reinforcement echelon which had already passed through the blocking force's system of responsibility en route to the front when the trap was sprung, and the fact that it had included none of the attack craft mother ships made that seem even more likely.

But whatever had happened, the courier drones had reached the blocking force well before the enemy's survivors, and this time the gunboats would be waiting.


CHAPTER FORTY-THREE | The Stars at War | * * *