The enemy starship’s forward battery fired.

Crewmen aboard the Casey Jones saw the flash and the inbound beams on their monitors, and their minds added the thunderous roar that the vacuum of space took away. The emissions found their mark and a portion of the Jones‘ hull dissolved into molten metal fragments and crystallized atmosphere.

“Tube two ready.” Jiang cried over the roar of alarms. The computerized command and control systems that normally directed return fire had been knocked out in the first volley.

Wu, fingers flying as he computed the last few lines of a solution, gave the order: “Fire!”

The torpedo shot out of its tube and into the vacuum. Its tiny drive engaged and sent it streaking toward its target. At the last moment, the target fired its thrusters—the crew had just seen what was heading toward them. With a few feet to spare, the torpedo sailed past the enemy ship.

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