Mech Zero: The Dominant

Mech Zero: The Dominant by B. V. Larson Page A

Book: Mech Zero: The Dominant by B. V. Larson Read Free Book Online
Authors: B. V. Larson
Tags: Military
most of the inhabitants of his world he valued quiet learning and the arts above all else. Unfortunately, rare job openings in the dramatic arts went to those with appropriate connections. Theller had been born without chattel or title, and was lucky to be contracted into the unappreciated Space Service. He had told himself the arrangement was only temporary, and in time he would return to his true, higher calling. But now these blasted cruisers had arrived and he was expected to resist them. From his vantage point, his entire life had been a series of unjust disappointments. Really, this was the final straw. It was one thing to be sentenced to an ignoble post chasing tax-dodging miners, but it was quite another to be expected to die in the cold, unforgiving void above his homeworld fighting a fleet built by Mendelian psychopaths.
    Theller’s gaze and thoughts drifted down again to the captain’s tight, shapely posterior as she marched by. Redemption’s entire crew, all eight doomed souls, stood at attention on the prime deck of the patrol boat. Stood was perhaps something of a misnomer, as only Captain Beezel was short enough to stand fully erect in the ship due to the low, contoured ceilings. The rest of her crew were forced to bow their backs and press their heads up against the skin of the ship, such was the curvature and nearness of the hull.
    “Our mission is to die well,” Captain Beezel continued. “A flotilla of cruisers from Mendelia can’t be stopped by our squadron. We all know that. In the end, our planet will be enslaved and our descendants will rattle their chains despondently, bemoaning their fate.”
    Ensign Theller winced as the woman’s words clashed against his ears. The captain hadn’t a shred of human empathy. He found her directness, honesty and unrelenting bravado painful to endure. Couldn’t she at least lie to the men? Couldn’t she give them false hope to die for?
    “But,” Captain Beezel continued. “When our people grovel and die they will not be blaming us ! They will know pride when they think of our sacrifice this day. It will never be said the Space Service did not fight the good fight!”
    The men around Theller cheered. He looked at them, startled. His eyes swept from one face to the next. Every expression was resolute and not an eye in the cramped space was dry, save for the captain’s lovely artificial orbs and his own, which were wide with alarm.
    “Are there any questions?” Captain Beezel asked, ringing out the words.
    Theller could tell from her tone she did not want, nor expect, any questions. He could not help himself however, and lifted a thin finger to gain her attention.
    Her eyes swung to meet his, and they narrowed. She nodded to him, giving him leave to speak.
    “Captain,” he said. “As your second in command, I feel it is my duty to present alternative courses of action.”
    Beezel slid her jaw to one side and back again, but she nodded, listening.
    “Wouldn’t it be prudent instead to lure the enemy into a chase? While we can’t last long if we engage them, we have the speed to stay out of their grasp for days.”
    “I’m well aware of that, Ensign Theller ,” she said, emphasizing his rank and name as if she spat out sour seeds. “But our orders are clear. We are to stand and hold as long as we can.”
    “If the goal is to give Home Defense more time, captain, then a chase would do exactly that,” Theller pressed in desperation.
    “We will not run in the face of the enemy!”
    “But if we could give Home Defense more time to—”
    “And what would they do with more time?” she asked. “Dither and argue as they’ve done for years? Perhaps they will trim a budget or enjoy an iced caf!”
    “Uh—they could dig in, they could arm—perhaps ships from the Nexus might arrive as they promised decades ago and aid in our defense.”
    “Fantasies,” Captain Beezel snapped. She stepped close and looked up into his face.
    Theller sputtered, shaken

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