2702.7.24.15.02 – In transit; CFV-D Erebus
When I eventually regained consciousness, I saw that a familiar face was gazing down at me.
“Hello, you.” Nova bent down to kiss me gently on the lips, before taking a handful of my medical gown in her fist, thumping me in the centre of my chest and scolding me in a low voice. “Don’t ever do that again! You scared the life out of me.”
“How long have I been out?”
“Just over a week. We had to keep you under while Doctor Christensen did the DNA reconstruction therapy to plug all the radiation damage. Plus you were pretty badly banged up by all that debris flying through the bridge. We were picking pieces of metal and composite out of you for a couple of days.” Nova sat on the edge of the bed and smoothed the covers. “The good news is that you’re clear – no tumours.”
“Where are we now?”
“In transit. Headed back to the Bubble.”
“How many ships made it out?”
“Forty-one, plus our frigate and corvette squadrons.”
“Christ. Is that all?”
“Yeah. Mostly Titans from the main assault force. Only a few assault cruiser crews survived the radiation exposure. You’ll be glad to know that Odysseus was one of the lucky ones.”
“Jesus, what is Fleet going to say?”
“I think they’ll be pleased to know that the Thrinax have been neutralised.”
“What the hell happened to them, anyway? It all happened too fast for me.”
“Number Six didn’t sell us out after all. The unscrupulous alien bastard used us as bait for the Elder, but it wiped the Swarm World off the face of the galaxy once and for all.”
“We’re not really sure, but Marciano has a theory. Number Six and his fleet used the power output of the Swarm World to trap it permanently in the higher dimensions of warpspace.”
“Hmm. I’m still going to slap Number Six with a few thousand mass driver shells upside the head if I ever see that traitorous fucker again.”
“I doubt you’ll get the chance. The rebel fleet vanished along with the Swarm World.”
“And what about Umbra? They can't be pleased that the Swarm World escaped their grasp.”
“Well, that's their fault for hedging their bets and arriving late to the party, isn't it?” Nova cupped my cheek, her smooth fingertips slipping down to my neck. “We managed to get out before they arrived, which was probably for the best. They still got all our sensor records though, so they'll have a wealth of data to analyse. Should keep them busy for a few years while they try to recreate the techniques the Thrinax used to manipulate the black hole.”
“That's something, at least. Though I'm still not sure I like the idea of Umbra having their own pet black hole. Maybe the Elder was right. Perhaps we’re not ready as a species for that kind of power.”
“Yeah, but at least we can afford to worry about that later. Now that the Swarm World and the Elder are gone, there’s a good chance that the war will end soon. With no way to replenish their numbers, the remnant Thrinax forces will be forced to open peace talks.”
“Negotiate, or face extinction. It’s not much of a choice, really.”
“Not if they’re as intelligent as we think they are. And Fleet’s got to be happy about that.” Nova smiled. “You should get a medal, at least.”
“I’ll be happy if I escape a court martial.”
“Oh, before I forget. You might like to know that we had a wedding on board yesterday. Mitchell and Marciano got hitched. Your counsellor did the ceremony. It was quite sweet, actually.” Nova’s smile twisted playfully and she laid next to me on the bed, in a seductive mood, her fingertips tousling my hair. “And that's not the only good news."
"Go on. I could do with cheering up."
"I'm pregnant. Well, as close as I get to it, anyway. Last night I finished the first stage of nucleo-synthesis in my bio-factory to fuse our DNA into a fertilised embryo. I'll put it in vitro to kick off the next stage when we reach Sol."
"You're sure that's what you want, Nova?"
"Oh, absolutely. I don't want the baby from our time on Chrysus to not have siblings. There's nothing worse for a kid than growing up as an only child. We're going to have lots of children, if I have anything to say about it, anyway. I love you, Gus."
"Ditto." I turned onto my side, to pull Nova against me, her warm lips brushing mine, lingering tantalisingly for a moment before drifting over my cheek up to my earlobe.
"So when are you going to make me an honest woman, now that you’ve had your wicked, despicable way with me and I’m the mother of your unborn children?”
“I don't know, I'll have to check my schedule." I replied guilelessly, pausing for effect, pretending to check my diary via my neural link. "Are you doing anything this afternoon?”