The massive flagship burned in a decaying orbit over a green-blue gas giant, making a slow death spiral toward the crushing gravity below.

Vard Bokren had imagined an end much like this. He just hadn’t expected it to come now at the hands of the little temperamental lizards that the late Zar’s loyalists had scraped up as allies.

The Star Stalker groaned in protest as the Medilidikke navigator tried to level off, to no avail.

Nall warships packed a stronger punch than Bokren had expected. He wouldn’t make the mistake of underestimating them again. Assuming he survived.

“Controls aren’t responding!” growled the panicked navigator.

Bokren gave a slow nod. “I’ll look into it.” He used his good hand to clutch a railing until he could pass through the bridge hatchway into the main corridor. Then he slammed a fist against an escape pod hatch access button. “From outside.”

He was about to duck into the pod when he heard a furious roar from the grizzled old orange-yellow Demarian: “Abandoning us?” Several felinoid refugees followed behind Imperator Stumppaw Sandwalker.

Bokren frowned. He wanted to simply say yes and disappear into the pod, shutting the hatch behind him before launching the pod and taking his chances beyond the reach of the gravity well. But they had made a deal. Like it or not, he might actually need Sandwalker to succeed with his own plans.

“Get in,” Bokren snarled.

By Brody

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