Chapter 20 - Escape

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Terris gestured for Haden to silence the communication band.  Between the rifle reports, the howling of the Wolves, and the clash of metal on armor, Terris' mind reeled with images of the bloodbath that was taking place.  Whatever was going on inside that carrier was brutal.  If any of them made it out, he was going to make certain there was something to make it out to.

It was obvious that the Owl fleet was both drastically outnumbered and heavily outgunned.  Orange and red flashes decorated the blanket of space, signaling burning oxygen and hydrogen from human forces.  He registered the loss of life on a deep level.  Those werent merely flashes.  They were mothers, fathers, children, friends.

Terris was not accustomed to the thrust engines, yet, but the power and inertia he felt during maneuvers was intoxicating and dulled the sting of death.  His mind was processing combat, but the urgency of intervention gave his movements decisiveness.

Dawnhammer was en route to the heaviest fighting.  The one they called Patricia was giving orders to the entire fleet and managing to barely stay ahead of the curve on defense. Time and again, her focus on tactics forced her attention away from immediate combat and left openings in her defensive fire.  The enemy seemed to realize it, too. Terris intended to tip the scale in her favor.

"How long until the main engine is online?"

"Ten minutes or less.  The Starfires are consuming the fuel cores from the Lazarus at a much faster rate.  If we keep them burning, we won't have the power to leave the system."

"You said the main engine locks Dawnhammer into the gravitational well of two bodies?"


"If we we're in physical contact and hydrolocked with another ship, would they jump with us?"

"Yes.  Due to the nature of the drive, I can jump several at once. The previous Gaurdian Corps tried it, but it's very difficult.  More often than not, the damage caused by the attempt to physically contact each other rendered the participant useless.  I spent quite a few days in dry dock getting reskinned.  Keep in mind, though: I was designed with efficiency in mind. The power consumption required to lock more than a few ships will drain our fuel cores and reserves quickly."

Terris shook his head.  Efficiency.  When the forward battery of cannons were fired, hell itself was being summoned.  How efficient could Dawnhammer be as it delivered that hellish nightmare?

He was used to looking Haden in the eye, used to seeing a face.  He kept forgetting that the hologram and android were merely an interface.  Haden was a combat vessel.  A ship.  Not a humanoid.  It wasn't the android that felt emotion, but the very vessel he stood on.  The magnitude of the concept was staggering. Perhaps that was why Dawn referred to him as 'ship'; so she wouldn't forget that.

"I have an idea that might," The pilot broke off what he was saying and abruptly rolled to the decking on his left.  Dawnhammer mirrored the movement, dropped and spun counterclockwise.  A red trail of light faded away, inches from where the ship had been.  Terris looked behind him in the holosphere to see the newcomer that fired it.

Several observations hammered into Terris in the span of a thought.  First, two independent green blazes burned out in the vacuum, their trajectory showing that they were attempting to intercept him.  Haden's attention was on ship repairs and Terris had lost focus, allowing them to stealthily approach from the rear.  Second, the cannon flashes he caught from his peripheral vision that allowed him to instinctively dodge the round had given birth to shots that could take out the dense alien craft that the other Owls in the system could not.  And last, the cannons were mounted under sleek mirrored wings that bore the insignia of the Black Angels.

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