From the upcoming Mil-SF novella “Enemy of my Enemy”
I glanced around at my team, the scientists, Bozan and al-Asiri, the wounded… The chill in the air seemed to drop another ten degrees. “Sahito, where are you?”
“On the Hephaestus, Captain Dante. Where else would I be?”
I let out an exasperated sigh. “Fine. Where is the Fleet?”
“Fast-burning to the Kepler System Fold-Space Transition Point beyond K-186F orbit.”
Approaching the planet’s moon, two-hundred and forty thousand miles away… Sahito gave the answer so casually, at first I thought Zombie Six’s tactical A.I. had just made a joke. The next two seconds were dead silent as I waited for the punch line.
It didn’t come.
“How long to Fold-Space transition?” I asked. I sensed I wasn’t going to like the answer.
“Four minutes and 27 seconds. The jump engines are spooled up,” the A.I. reported crisply.
My reaction split me quicker than atoms in a tactical nuke: white-hot rage in my head and icy despair in my gut. Zombie Six had not just been reported as dead; we’d been left behind.