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The button clicked because it depressed. The ON gentle glowed via Pensker’s palm, tinted with the colour of his blood. “Twelve miles! ” The deck was once slanting now, shaking because the generators got here as much as flank. Shaker glanced at Dan; around the sparkling circle of the scope, their eyes met. Lenson unexpectedly remembered one other second like this, within the Mediterranean. Unidentified airplane remaining, the formation socked in through fog and rain, and dependable then a guy who couldn’t make up his brain. He heard back Isaac Sundstrom’s whine, begging for justification, help, sympathy, suggestion. … Pensker acknowledged, “Sir, minimal range—” “I comprehend. regular on the right track one-six-zero. Stand by way of to fire,” stated the captain. clever spoke speedily into his headset. Pensker’s hand moved up, flipped up the purple hide over the hearth button, rested over it. Dan observed Shaker take a deep breath. “All right—” “Combat, Bridge: Lookouts file air touch, exhibiting pink and eco-friendly lighting fixtures and a white strobe, off port bow. ” “Silence,” shouted Shaker. every body iced over. fingers got here up off switches and keyboards. They lifted their heads, eyes distant, mouths open a bit. ready. the fairway blip at the radar jumped forward, and merged with the blot of sunshine that was once Van Zandt. “Combat, Bridge: A airplane simply went over us. Headed northeast. ” “What variety? ” “Can’t inform, all lets see have been the lighting fixtures. a tremendous one. ” “Phalanx to carry fire,” ordered Shaker. A change snapped within the silence and the prepared mild blinked to orange. at the scope, the pip emerged from the blur on the middle, nonetheless headed north. As they watched, it replaced all of sudden right into a semicircle. “AWACs identifies: advertisement airliner,” stated Custer. His voice shook a bit. “Holy shit,” stated clever. They checked out one another. Dan felt his knees start to tremble. They’d virtually shot it down. in the event that they hadn’t nonetheless been at sea, the place the lookouts may possibly see extra basically than within the dust-shrouded Gulf, they'd have. He may possibly scent his personal sweat. He checked out the captain. He, too, appeared frozen, taking a look into the fairway shimmer after the departing plane. He by no means requested me, Dan suggestion during the aftershock of worry. Shaker had held off until eventually there has been now not an additional moment. He’d performed every little thing attainable to set up the bogey’s id. Then he’d made his determination. As a commanding officer needed to. in order that used to be correct. He used to be decisive. yet had the choice he made been correct? What, Dan requested himself soberly, might i've got performed? once he requested it, he knew the reply. on condition that choice—between taking a potential hit and taking pictures down a civilian airliner with who knew what number blameless souls aboard—he knew what his choice could were. He wouldn’t have fired. now not with the quantity of civilian site visitors the following. With chaff, electronics, and the Phalanx, they’d have a good likelihood whether a fighter introduced its guns first. in simple terms then, while he used to be definite, may he shoot to kill. yet Shaker hadn’t visible it that means. He’d determined to fireside first. which ones used to be correct? was once it Shaker—with Strong’s soreness nonetheless shiny in his reminiscence, and doubtless his nightmares—or Dan himself, possibly extra indifferent, larger in a position to care for the location rationally?