This is the second section of the thirteenth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
It was over an hour before the light from the flight plumes of the fighters reached Saturn where Jane was watching for any activity from the last known location of the Freedom. Nearly a dozen new stars in the sky and even without knowing anything about the fighters it was possible to calculate the rate of acceleration. Over thirty G of acceleration rules out manned fighters so there was only one possibility. Missiles. Much cruder than the relativistic missile carrier of the earlier attempt but much more deadly. In under nine hours they’d be at Earth travelling at a good few percent of the speed of light either to drop missiles or to just ram the Earth directly. Ramming the Earth would send Earth back to the stone age and there was nothing she could imagine that could stop them short of the Habitat. Time to see what the motives of the Habitat really were.