Crackling bands of fractal energy tore at the Chimera as the great galaxy class cruiser fled the Helios and a ruined Earth. Slipping along the thread connecting Earth to the Damascene colony, fractal space did its best to tear through the ship’s protective hydrostasis bubble and finish the work the Helios had started.
Selena’s shoulders ached from the strain of following the thread. She breathed out and shoved sweat-crusted hair out of her eyes with one hand while maintaining connection to the navigation sphere with the other. How long could she keep this up? How long could she bear the full weight of drawing the few survivors of the Helios onslaught through the twisting folds of The Everything? How long until her mind started to unravel? And would it happen before or after fractal space ripped the ship to shreds?
Ugly and blackened, a gaping chasm caused by a nuclear blast had opened the Chimera’s foredeck to the vacuum of space. Debris and the bodies of the dead filled her forward command, her navigation sphere silent. Veins of glistening yellow-chartreuse emergency sealant filled cracks in her duraceramic supports. Only the repeated detonation of defensive countermeasure nukes had stopped Helios warheads from obliterating the Chimera. Even with the countermeasures, Selena had been forced to take them into fractal space before their hydrostasis field unfurled. She wouldn’t have had a chance if not for Theo’s sacrifice—flying the Helvictus into the gaping maw of the Helios attack. Sacrificing himself.
She’d lost him. Forever.
Her body seemed to vibrate, the intensity of her feelings like a destabilized core in danger of shaking apart a trawler. Why had she let herself grow close to him? Why had she shared her secrets?
Because I didn’t have a choice.
The Chimera had drawn them together, allowing them to see each other with an intimacy impossible under normal circumstances. A part of Theo still lived inside her.
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