Drake tries a risky micro-jump in the hope of escaping from the starfighters closing on the ship.
Virtually every display on the bridge went blank as the ship slid into hyperspace. Velocity, nonexistent. Scans, null. Thrust, zero. On the view screens, a dull gray mist replaced the pinpricked darkness of normal space.
Our transition into hyperspace was successful, as expected. The true danger came when the ship returned to normal space, which it would do in three seconds.
The mist vanished from the view screens. The controls flared to life and the proximity alarm blared as the scanners picked the two freighters, both within a thousand kilometers of us.
“Gunners, fire at will!”
The soft whine of lasers discharging sounded just ahead of my command, probably the work of the two Space Patrol vets. The other lasers weren’t far behind. Most of those first shots missed, but a few burned away pieces of the two freighters.
Next came the thunk of launching missiles. We were so close, each launcher got a target lock on a freighter almost immediately. The missiles flashed across the short distance almost as fast as the lasers, giving the enemy crews no time to deploy countermeasures. Flaring circles on the scanner screen marked devastating hits to both ships. The freighter to port disintegrated into a fiery ball that was quickly spent in the vacuum of space. The other ship broke into three pieces, but somehow did not explode.
“Missile incoming from-”
That was all the scanner tech had time to say before the ship rocked from an aft explosion. But ‘aft’ didn’t tell me whether my wife was safe.
Disregarding my own orders to keep the comms clear, I called, “Jeanine?”
A long two seconds passed, then she said, “I’m fine, Drake. Now, concentrate on your job.”
“Yes, my lady.” I shifted mental gears, away from the worried husband and back to the ship’s commander. “Damage report. What did the missile hit?”
The ship’s engineer came over the comm. “The starboard engine took the hit, sir. We’re still assessing the damage, but the engine is offline. I’ve routed all power to the port engine, but even with the extra power you’ve got no more than fifty-five percent of our normal thrust.”
“Understood, Chief. Was the hyperdrive damaged?”
“I can’t say yet, sir, but it’s possible. I’ll contact you as soon as I have something to report. Engineering out.”
Turning my attention back to piloting, I said, “Have we got a scanner reading on those eight fighters?”
“Yes, sir,” the scanner tech said. “They’re coming about, though I don’t know if they’re coming to help what’s left of the remaining freighter or if they’re chasing us.”
“There’s nothing they can do for that freighter, so you can be sure they’re coming for us.” I gradually brought the port engine up to its full thrust. “It will take them a while to reverse course and even longer to exceed our velocity. Captain Tucci, please take the controls for now. I have to confer with Lady Jeanine concerning our next course of action.”
“Aye, sir. And may I say it was a pleasure watching you fly the Lady of Neert?”
“She’s a good ship, Captain, and has a fine crew.”
Everyone on the bridge beamed at my heartfelt compliment. With a nod to each of them, I rose from the pilot chair.
“Jeanine, I’m coming back there.”
“I heard, Drake,” she replied. “Could you have the ship-wide comm turned off, first? I don’t think the rest of the crew needs to hear us arguing.”
The communications officer grinned at me and did as his duchess requested. Wondering why Jeanine thought we were going to argue, I headed for our small suite.
Jeanine was leaning against a high-backed chair with her arms crossed when I came through the door. “We’re continuing on to Gaunner, Drake.”
Jeanine was right—we were going to argue.
Who will win the argument? If you can’t guess–and even if you can–find out who wins and what our heroes do after that in Chapter 6 of The Recognition Resistance.