“All ships, break and attack in three…two…one…now,” Jack counted down and felt his Avenger’s systems come alive around him. T&J shifted into the drumbeats of war, and he slammed the throttle forward to send them accelerating towards the Shang. Avengers, Hellcats, and Blackhawks accelerated all around him, diving towards the Shang en masse. The warships came to life behind him, destroyers and frigates accelerating with the two heavy cruisers and a single light carrier.

The combined cybernetic intelligences of an entire small fleet went to work and he watched the plot come alive with targeting plans refined by lashing the Shang with full-powered sensor sweeps. A blind man could have felt them coming in his teeth, and the Shang were not blind at all.

They recognized the trap they’d flown into in an instant and reacted the only way they could. They turned from Thunderer and her battlegroup and began accelerating straight towards Jack’s tiny fleet. Betty brought their new path up on the plot and Jack recognized the slingshot maneuver that would spin them out the other side of New Earth’s Red Line long before his force could come around and chase them down. They had exactly one good shot at this.

Thunderer and her ships spun to fire full salvos into the Shang’s flanks. Deflection grids flickered and armor buckled, but the Shang had far too much acceleration for the British battleship to keep them in range for long. But it was bringing the Shang and Jack’s little force directly into each other’s best firing range.

“Oh Lord, for what we are about to receive may we be eternally grateful,” Jack whispered and flexed his fingers.

“Amen,” a chorus of voices said from the communications display.


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