Comrades in Arms

Free Comrades in Arms by Kevin J. Anderson

Book: Comrades in Arms by Kevin J. Anderson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kevin J. Anderson
ship, he could not escape the conclusion. Even after they reached the observatory, Click had little chance of going much farther. He had not managed to come up with a viable plan.
    He felt dismayed that this abortive “second chance” as a Deathguard had accomplished nothing—not for himself, not for his people, not for Click either. It was just a delay. And when Rader’s cyborg systems finally broke down, Click was not likely to last long alone on the observatory asteroid. He’d wait there until food supplies and life support ran out, like a man stranded on a desert island.
    Short-term thinking. But it was better than shorter -term thinking. They were still alive. Rader had to hope they would find some other ship, or supplies … or a miracle once they got to the asteroid.
    In the pilot seat, Click seemed satisfied. If he detected Rader’s troubled thoughts, he did not show it.
    As they made their final approach, Rader studied the enhanced images, saw the framework of bowl-shaped radio telescopes reflecting starlight, the automated tracking mirrors of optical telescopes gazing out into the universe to gather astronomical data.
    And he saw the recently installed military fuel depot, large tanks of spacecraft fuel, as well as Earth League stockpiled missiles, a forest of javelin-shaped warheads ready to be launched. He stared, realizing that this asteroid was not as forgotten and abandoned as he had hoped.
    When Click scanned the rear navigational sensors, his glassy black eyes clouded over. “Rader …”
    Two pursuit fighterships swept up behind them like cruising sharks. They came straight toward the sluggish Jaxxan cargo ship.
    “I cannot accelerate enough to outrun them,” Click said. “And we have very little fuel remaining.”
    Rader glanced at the type of ship, knew their capabilities. “Those are the League’s fastest fighterships. We don’t have any chance of outrunning them.”
    When the pair of pursuers circled the cargo ship, Rader saw the Earth League insignia, but the image blurred and shimmered in his unfocused vision. The face that appeared on the comm screen, though, was a Jaxxan, demanding their surrender.
    “Why don’t they just destroy us from a distance?” Click said.
    “They will want proof—or trophies.”
    The squad of hunters was composed of humans and Jaxxans working together; Rader wondered if the Earth League soldiers had orders to kill their alien comrades after a successful mission—especially now that they had seen the unexpected missile stockpile hidden on the observatory asteroid. Commissioner Sobel could not possibly want the Jaxxan high command to know about the depot.
    “We cannot defend ourselves,” Click said. “This cargo shuttle has no weapons.”
    Rader held his laser rifle. “We can defend ourselves.”
    A clang of metal thrummed through the hull as the two fighterships attached to the Jaxxan airlocks. “I have sealed the airlocks and denied them access,” Click said.
    “They’ll burn their way through.” On the visual monitors he discerned a glow on the inner hull: one airlock being cut away by a powerful laser rifle, and the opposite lock rippling from a continuously applied energy-web. Even a Deathguard couldn’t defend both hatches at the same time.
    Limping on his faulty leg, aligning his weapons systems with the vision from only his artificial eye to minimize errors, Rader picked a defensible position at the entrance to the cargo ship’s cockpit. He braced himself there, holding his laser rifle ready, his targeting sensors attuned. His artificial heart pumped nutrients through his cyborg and biological components, but the Werewolf Trigger remained silent. He didn’t need it. Or maybe that, too, had malfunctioned.
    Both hatches surrendered at the same time, and on the visual monitors he watched the remaining members of the hunter squad move with brisk efficiency through the corridors up to the cockpit. The humans were wearing mirrored armor, which

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