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   Chapter 102 No.102

The Galaxii Series Omnibus 1 By Christina Engela Characters: 5965

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

The light from the dim emergency lighting in the ceiling was just enough to read by without causing a headache. He wasn't really hungry, but he was eating mainly to keep himself busy – going through the motions. He was eating soup – chicken soup. Good for the soul, someone had once said, if you were lucky enough to have one. There weren't too many of those around these days, he felt – souls, not chickens. It wasn't very good soup, but it sure beat the alternative – not having soup. He'd spent an hour or so reading at the table – the one normally occupied by himself, Billingham, Collins, Dorschech and a handful of other senior ship's officers – including Blaine. Blaine couldn't abide anyone reading at the dinner table – he said it was 'rude' and 'bad manners', but he was old-school that way, originally from Earth. Lofflin was from Mars City, and his family hadn't stood on such formality.

Lofflin's simple act of rebellion against the absent Captain's authority brought a wry little smile to his lips. It wasn't a particularly good book he was reading, but it was a fun read so far – and anyway, he wanted to know how it all turned out… Before the air ran out, anyway – and then he'd never know. Could ghosts read? He wondered. He was halfway down page 43 of the second book of the Stormworld Trilogy, (slurp) Hal Symonedes was locked in a (slurp) perilous mind war with the sinister Lord of the Gaf on (slurp) Death Mountain and –


- Storm Warriors were (slurp) racing up the steep craggy slopes to aid their evil master –


Disturbed, Lofflin flopped the book down on the table, and went to press a key on the intercom panel in the wall. The buzzer sounded like it really meant business. At least that was still working.

"Commander Lofflin?" a

ng before the engines failed, steadily but slowly continuing to close on the astorfield. The range between them and the asteroids was shortening, distance slowly and gradually dropping off the counter all the while. The astorfield loomed ahead on the small display, billions of tons of rock drifting weightlessly in space. Astorfields were natural hazards to shipping and most pilots and skippers avoided them like the plague. All the sane ones did anyway. Many ships had been lost in the early days of interstellar space travel while inadvertently flying into an uncharted astorfield. Lecturers at the Space Fleet Academy frequently made jokes about 'idiot' merchant fleet helmsmen accidentally flying their loderunners into an astor, and the Space Fleet being sent in to search for the black box afterwards – and having to recover anything remotely resembling bodies (if any) to send home to relatives. While it was true that most astorfields were found inside star systems, some were known to exist alone in deep space, perhaps the dead remnants of former star systems themselves. Either way, most seemed only to exist solely to make the lives of deep space navigators more interesting.

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