Orduff switched off the wailing klaxon. He knew the scout’s drive reactor, breached by the Nall cannons, was going critical.

The alarms didn’t help. They just distracted.

An Einkep in the warrior caste of the Hekayti, the Ledelkrig, he had been on patrol near the Plosa Nebula when the rumor he had come to investigate proved all too true.

Orduff checked the sensors, confirming that the four Nall warships remained in pursuit while he pushed thrusters to maximum velocity. New contacts pinged into view, fighters spilling from the belly of the carrier. He wouldn’t elude them for much longer.

He opened a transmission to the nearest relay, encrypted for Konterbeid ciphers, and sent his most recent sensor records along with the following message: “The Zarist Supremacy has teeth. Heavy fleet, confirmed as Nall. Serious assets. Full aggression. It has been an honor serving the Grand Moot. For the fathers and all the great houses.”

He gazed out at the sprawl of purple and pink stretching for millions of miles against a sea of starry black.

If I have to go, he thought, at least the view is something to see.