Writer’s Note: Instrument of Surrender (Part Three) was published originally in Jump Point 4.7. You can read Part One here and Part Two here.
Sirens screamed across the bridge.
“Commander, thirty seconds until Tevarin forces have us in weapon range,” called XO Coburn. A mixture of stress and exhaustion strained his voice.
Deep inside Caliban’s asteroid belt, Crescent was caught in a kill zone of its own making. Commander Wallace’s initial plan had been to trap the Tevarin fleet in this exact position, and then unleash a surprise attack to cripple the opposing capital ship, saving the innocent people of Crion from the invader’s wrath.
Unfortunately, the plan had backfired. A debris field now blocked Crescent’s bow while a Tevarin capital ship protected by a thick phalanx shield was bearing down on its stern.
“Starman Odorizzi, we have no choice but to risk flying through the asteroid belt. I want course options.”
“Yes, sir!” Odorizzi responded then turned back, “To where?”
“Doesn’t matter. The more twists and turns the better. Just keep us out of their crosshairs.”
As Starman Odorizzi went to work, Helmsman Ayers glanced in Coburn’s direction and the two shared a look. Coburn and Ayers’ combined service time was greater than Wallace’s age.
“Helmsman Ayers, prepare for precision flying.”
When Helmsman Ayers’ hands came to rest upon the flight stick, Commander Wallace noticed his knuckles whiten.
“Sir, the Tevarin are within weapons range,” XO Coburn reported. “We can’t stay here much longer.”
“And we can’t move until we know where we’re going,” Commander Wallace stayed focused on the hologlobe. “Odorizzi, time’s up.”
Options appeared on the hologlobe, ordered from dangerous to suicidal. Most of the routes started between two large asteroids to their right.
“Sir, if we get to the edge of the belt,” suggested Coburn, “we could quantum jump to safety and then regroup and reassess.”
“If we run, the Tevs will push forward and Crion will be in ruins before we can do anything about it. Right now our job is to keep them focused on us. Is that clear?”
Silence hung in the air. Suddenly, Starman Daughtry called from the scan station, “The Tevs are lining up a shot!”
“Tillman, everything you can to shields,” Wallace called to the scan station. “Helmsman, prepare to move!”
“Which route, Commander?”
She cycled through the options on the hologlobe. There was no time for analysis. One of the most important decisions of her life would be have to made on instinct.
“Rear shields are under attack!”
“Ayers, here. Go now,” called Commander Wallace as she hit the button to send the chosen route to the helmsman.
As the ship lurched forward, she hoped she hadn’t killed them all.