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Chapter 30 - The Absolute Zero[]

CWS Selina Radick
Clan Wolf Mjolnir C Class Improved Cruiser
New Dallas Star System, Clan controlled Territory
March, 3159

[Cham Nguyen...]

This wasn't dying.  Cham thought. He could see stars where the front of the ship should be, and the tumble was pinning him to what was left of the deck...but it wasn't death.

Looks like we got the horns. The piece of wreckage slammed him up and his tangled harness snapped him back. From this angle, spinning as he was centrifugal force almost pulling him apart. He could see the damage.

Engine pack was gone, and the starboard fuel tank was blowing out H3 while the helium tank was torn open right through the armor.  "Status, crew." he muttered, because he wasn't strong enough to pull his arms in and use the keypad.
We left port with 75, how many do we have left? he thought.

61 names showed in green or yellow on the HUD inside his helmet.  The rest were showing dark red.

He could almost see it, with his naked eye as the tumble brought him around.  The ship that had dogged them for seven jumps, he could see it.

His vision began to color red as his suit was flashing a warning from the condition monitor.

He wasn't conscious when the darkness lit with the silver flash of the enemy's destruction.

This probably saved his vision.  He wouldn't know. All he could hear is the choir in the colorless dark...singing.


Cham smelled something that wasn't the smell of the ship or the smell of his helmet after days bottled up...and he hurt all over.

He opened his eyes.  He was in a hospital bed, and the lights were too damn bright.

I must be hallucinating. The plastic taste was familiar-and his throat felt full.

A brown-and gray clad woman with a Wolf Empire patch and a cadaceus on her collar entered his vision from his left, and started to undo and remove the suddenly revolting tubes in his mouth and nose.

Behind her, a Wolf Empire officer in a skinsuit, helmet off and stepped in.

"My men?" he asked.

"We were able to recover sixty one." the woman said.  "That was brave but, that was also mind-blowingly stupid, Commander Nguyen."

"s-s-sorry...didja get him?" he weakly asked

"We did."

"Did you get our data units? the logs?" He asked, trying to sit up, "There's critical information on those-"

The medtech placed her fingers on his chest, and with the gentle force of inevitability, pushed him back down.  "Rest."

"The reconnaissance data you gathered on your little jaunt through the Republic of the Sphere? Aff, we have those as well.  You should have contacted us immediately on entering the system."

"Sorry about that too.  din't know they'd hit you to flush us out..."

"Commander Nguyen, your logs of the past two months make interesting viewing, and interesting reading. I've been enjoying them for the last fourteen days.  My Khan is enjoying copies of them as we speak, as is your Archon."


"Fourteen days." she said, "You are still not recovered. When you are, you will be repatriated to your nation of origin in accordance with both agreements between the Wolf Empire and in accordance with your true affiliation as a Kowloonese."

"Mmmh...thank you." he said.

"It saves us all a lot of time and hassle. Your people have a reputation for making dreadful Bondsmen." she smirked, "That it would annoy our Khan if we kept you from reporting to our allies."

The Wolf officer glided with that effortless grace of a Trueborn in their natural environment, leaned over him, and said;"That trick, trying to ambush a Caspar with a cutter? That was stupid, but it is in line with your...people's reputation for insanely stupid and brave conduct.  When you are mobile again, I believe you will be getting a medal for that."

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