Another teaser excerpt for you all! Some names have been starred out in this excerpt, as they would constitute spoilers.
Maber Castigon looked across the passenger compartment of the boarding shuttle, watching Zolyn Feior’s lips move behind his visor. The sergeant was clearly talking to someone on a private channel, and Castigon assumed that someone would be Eilentes. Piloting the shuttle meant that she was separated from her lover-boy for a while. Imagine that. Imagine not being able to chat endlessly about… yuck.
He rolled his eyes.
The boarding shuttle was far more cramped than the usual CAGA landers, and lacked gravity plating. It was so compact that the private they called Burner was having to hold himself down with webbing at the back of the passenger compartment. Castigon imagined how disgruntled the Rodori must be right now, being so used to travelling in landers with adapted seating. Good — a disgruntled Rodori could only be a great asset in the fight ahead of them.
Castigon’s legs floated away from the seating mount, inertia causing them to swing slowly every time Eilentes pulled an evasive manoeuvre. He had faith in her piloting skills, faith that she would get them to their target intact. He just hoped the boarding ‘bots would also arrive when and where they were supposed to. They were programmed to approach hostile vessels safely, but in his experience ‘bots were never as smart or as adaptable as human pilots.
He thought about what they might find when they arrived. The ICS ******* was Voice’s flagship for this battle group, and it carried a Mouthpiece in the form of what had once been ******* *******. It stood to reason there would be Shaeld Hratha aboard that turncoat ship, to say nothing of a literal army of Thralls.
Everyone’s limbs swung around in unison, his own included, and he deduced that the shuttle had turned and rolled. It was now approaching ******* belly-first, slowing down to make hard contact.
Sure enough, Eilentes’ voice came over the comm.
“Boarding ‘bots have done their work,” she said. “Be ready for ingress in one minute.”
Castigon clutched his rifle close to his chest, feeling its reassuring solidity. Nobody racked their weapons in a boarding shuttle — they needed to exit quickly, there was no spare time at all for the ill-prepared.
The shuttle juddered and a metallic impact rang through the hull. They had made it.
“Hard contact established,” Eilentes said. “Deploying umbilicus.”
More sounds were transmitted through the hull, and Castigon pictured the stubby, hardened boarding umbilicus wrapping around the lip of the shuttle’s egress port. By now it would be adhering itself to the hull of *******, over one of the holes cut by their ‘bots. It would be mere moments before the soldiers were fighting their way into the ship.
Unexpectedly, the hatch from the cockpit sprang open. Eilentes came through the opening rifle first, pulling herself through the hatchway with her free hand and floating out into the passenger compartment. She snapped her visor down then glanced at her wrist-mounted holo.
“Ten seconds, people. Breach point is ventral, so be ready for the gravity switch.”
“Look ALIVE!” Feior bellowed.
Every safety harness in the compartment unlatched at the same time, and Castigon floated free from his seat. Like the others he grabbed the handhold in the overhead above his own seat, keeping himself in place.
“Seal established,” said Eilentes. “Let’s go!”
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