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GTFO

A devastating explosion tore a pirate cruiser in half. Even though it was already beaten, the Diomedes didn’t stop its Diomedes' unrelenting bombardment. Both halves of the cruiser drifted from each other, as smaller fires and explosions continued within them. 

To add insult to injury, the Diomedes' continued cannonade tore into the burning wreckage with savage intensity.

It was as though their erasure was necessary.

Nearby, dozens of pirate fighters were deeply entangled with the Federation fighters, and were losing terribly. Though the pirates had the upper hand in the early stages of the sortie, the Federation fighters had quickly adjusted to their tactics and turned things around. 

The chaotic sleight-of-hand strategy they were designed for was of little use in a protracted engagement, especially against an experienced, highly-trained military force.

On the other side of the Diomedes, the pirate cruisers who were scooping up the evacuees were also experiencing their share of troubles. Since the start of the fight, they were peppered with accelerator fire from the relentless battleship.

One of them was hit the most throughout the fight, and had lost a great deal of power. Its energy readouts sank further and further until its primary powerplant sputtered its last gasp, and the whole ship went dark.

"We need to get the fuck outta here!," cried one of the other pirate captains. "Full retreat!"

Klaxons blared as the cruisers' jump drives spun up.

Pirate fighters immediately disengaged and ran back to their home cruisers without hesitation. The captains certainly weren't going to wait for the fighters, and if they weren't within jump range by the time the drive was charged, they were going to be mercilessly left behind.

The Federation pilots didn’t give chase and allowed them to retreat. After all, their primary objective was to protect the evacuees, not annihilate the enemy. Instead, they moved towards the cloud of lifeboats who limped their way towards the Diomedes and provided close escort instead.

One by one, the cruisers jumped out in a blinding flash of light, their tails tucked firmly between their legs.

~

Admiral Tori stroked his beard as he analyzed his fleet's handiwork, a wide grin etched on his face.

"Report," he said with an amused tone.

"Sir," exclaimed an officer. "Three enemy capital ships have been neutralized: two down, one out. Thirty-seven enemy fighters have been neutralized: thirteen down, eight out, and sixteen yields."

We neutralized over a third of their fleet, thought Tori. They'll certainly think twice before attacking another station again.

"In addition," continued the officer, "scanners indicate that sixty-three lifeboats are en route to the Diomedes. Roughly twenty lifeboats are estimated to be in the neutralized cruiser's hold. Requesting permission to oversee rescue operations, sir."

"Granted," Tori responded with a nod. "The bridge is yours. I'll be retiring to my quarters."

After the Admiral left the bridge, the tension immediately let up. The officer then turned towards the rest of the bridge crew and gave a much more casual order.

"You heard the Admiral. Let's scoop everyone up, and then get the fuck outta here."

~

Down in the hangar bays, Eva, Miko, and all the other passengers on her lifeboat were safely shuffled off to the side. They were being looked at by a medical team, while an emergency crew dealt with the lifeboat wreck.

The emergency crew took apart the boat and carted the wreckage away with great speed and precision. There would soon be many more lifeboats and many more evacuees, and so clearing the landing pad was critical.

And to some degree, a similar situation was happening with the evacuees and the medical crew nearby. They were checking everyone's health as carefully and as quickly as they could. After all, the whole place was soon going to be filled with evacuees, and they wanted to make sure they were ready for everyone.

Even though the passengers were in a massively dangerous situation where they were all a hair's breadth away from utter annihilation, not a single one was critically injured. Sure, they all had a whole mess of bumps and bruisers, but nothing any more serious than that.

A few of them even thanked Eva and Miko for helping them all get away, especially the frightened passenger. He, along with the nervous crewmember, were practically on their knees before the two of them, and thanked them both with every fiber of their being.

Eva really wasn't sure how to handle this situation. Sure, she might have saved these people, but it's not like she did all that for them, specifically. She really only wanted to get away from the pirates.

Now that she thought about it, she might have been a little too reckless. In fact, if she had tried to stay stealthy and out of the enemies' sensors, they might not have been targeted at all, much less gotten shot at!

She inwardly cursed herself for her tactical error and hoped no-one would realize her blunder. Still, she learned quite a lot from the experience and didn't just throw it away. They made it in the end, after all.

"G-get up, please," she stammered. "I just, you know, made the choices I thought were best... At the time. If I was a better pilot, we wouldn't have gotten shot at all. So no need for thanks!"

When she said that, the other evacuees were overcome with shock at her humility. A better pilot?! If it wasn't for her and Miko, they would all most likely have been taken prisoner right at the start! Who knows what circumstances they'd be in if it wasn't for the two of them.

Even Miko was a little awed at how unpretentious Eva seemed to be. She had fully expected her to be more boisterous and boastful, and was astounded to see she was the exact opposite.

"You were amazing," she said.

All Eva could do, when faced with all sorts of admiration and attention, was simply blush awkwardly. She had never gotten much praise in her old life, and hearing them now made all sorts of emotions run right through her. Tears started to pool in her eyes, so she quickly turned away in order to control them.

But when she did, she instead came face-to-face with one of the medical officers. He was a stunningly handsome man with brown wavy hair. He looked as though he was in his late 20s, but his eyes shone with a wisdom far beyond his years. Although they were facing each other, his attention was fully focused on the readouts on his medical pad.

"Commander Chase, Navy Physician," he said perfunctorily as he slowly looked up. "Let's get you examined and... check…"

He was immediately stunned the moment he laid his eyes on Eva. His voice trailed off as he involuntarily gulped, his attraction to her more than obvious to everyone. Everything he had on his mind simply vanished, and he found himself desperately trying to find words to fill the void.

He found nothing but an awkward silence, and his normally stoic face turned rosier with each moment that passed.

Eva never thought of herself as remotely attractive, and was generally unaware that she was truly beautiful. Perhaps jaw-droppingly so. She certainly caught a lot of stares from the people she came across, but she shrugged them off. 

She knew that some people were attracted to her, but she just chalked it up to bad taste on their part.

And now that she was in a whole different universe, with a powerful new body and a much sharper mind, she wondered if she had become more attractive as well. If everything else about her was improved to certain degrees, then it would make sense that her physical appearance would also change.

She shrugged inwardly, regardless. If men were interested in her, then why should she care what she looked like in the first place? Wasn't their attraction enough?

In her past life, she simply shied away from all such encounters, too afraid and insecure about herself to even try. In this life though? She had absolutely nothing to lose. So for the first time in her life, she decided to risk it.

Besides, Commander Chase was hot!

He was a medical officer in the Federation Navy, and so was rather well-rounded. His combat training and medical knowledge gave him an aura of strength and wisdom, which she found wonderfully masculine. 

She glanced him up and down, and took note of his strong jaw and squared shoulders. She imagined what his muscles must've felt like, under his uniform…

And the uniform itself! It was straight and cleanly pressed like all the others, except he had rolled up his sleeves. It made him look like a man of real action. 

Well-groomed and duty-bound, but willing to get his hands covered in blood and dirt.

"Your face looks pretty flushed, Commander," she said. "Did'ja sprain something on your way here?"

Her heart thumped as she flirted lightly with him. The thrill was incredible, even if short-lived. 

He immediately shot to attention.

"What? No, no," he stammered, "I'm fine. It's you that I need to look over."

"In detail?"

"Yes, every detail," he replied with a nod.

When he responded, it was from his professional point of view. It actually was necessary for him to review her health from every angle. 

Just because she was walking around without visible wounds didn't mean something wasn't wrong. So he had to do his due diligence and check every detail. 

It was his job.

After a moment, he realized the innuendo behind her words. His face turned from flushed to bright red as he imagined her 'details'. He quickly regained his composure, and forced himself to buckle down internally. 

But thoughts were stirred, the damage was done, and his pants became slightly tighter.

"I mean," he said stiffly. "Just please show me your palm."

She gave a light laugh as she complied.

In order to keep his thoughts from straying again, he quickly took out a device and placed it over her hand. It then popped up before it spun around her randomly, as it scanned her. 

After a quick trip around her body, it stopped back at her palm, and Commander Chase picked it up. He then reviewed her data on his pad as it came in from the device, and his brows raised in surprise.

"Your mental fortitude's top notch," he said.

"Shouldn't we all be pretty healthy?" she asked.

They all had just respawned, so logically their physical bodies and mental states should all be "fresh" and without any ailments, physical or mental.

"Yes, technically, everyone's healthy. But you're above and beyond that. Way beyond everyone else's readings. You don't have your DI installed, so I can't tell exactly why, but I'm going to guess it's because you have a rare Genetic Trait."

DI? Genetic Trait? What the hell was all this? She had never heard those in Bellum Aeterna, and so naturally had no clue about them.

From the look on Eva's face, Commander Chase quickly realized that she didn't know anything about what he had just said. Which made sense, considering they were newly awakened. But he scratched at his head when she asked him what they were. He just wasn't sure where to start.

"The, uh, DI," he said, "stands for Digital Intelligence. It's implanted into us when we're still young, so, erm, it's just something we grow up with. It's kind of like having a heads-up display attached to your retina. Ah, except it's not that, exactly. It's a nanocomputer that connects directly to your central nervous system and 'talks' to your brain."

She was surprised that the DI was some sort of cybernetic implant, and a neurological one at that. Bellum Aeterna also had cybernetic implants, but they were usually physical in nature. Punch harder, jump higher, see further, that sort of thing.

"It's kind of like," he continued, "an interface that helps you organize your life. Sort of like having a personal assistant. Except, that only you can see and hear. And use. And access. It does a whole lot more. Oh, but in regards to traits, a DI is the only way to see yours."

She tried her best to understand as he explained it, and from the gist of things it sounded like they made a hallucinogenic productivity tool. It sounded amazing.

But what got her really riled up was his explanation of Genetic Traits.

"It's sort of a unique enhancement that everyone has," he began. "Everyone is born with one, but a few can end up unlocking a second one. They're usually beneficial in nature. Take mine, for example."

He then tapped at his medical pad, then turned it towards Eva.

On the screen was an icon of a snake entwined around a wooden stick. It was labeled, 'Rod of Asclepius,' and had a silver border. The accompanying description said, 'Your medical skills are greatly enhanced, and your treatments are much more effective than normal.'

Incredible!, Eva thought to herself. So my trait probably makes my mind tougher, then? Or faster?

"Mine's a pretty rare trait," he said with a bit of pride. "The common version says 'slightly enhanced' and 'somewhat effective' instead. And then there are incredibly powerful ones out there whose chances of emerging are one in a billion, and they come with severe negatives. Take the Grand Minister's ultra-rare trait, for example."

He then changed the trait on his pad.

The icon became one of a bearded man holding a lightning bolt. It was labeled 'Zeus' Dominance,' and had a gold border. The accompanying description said, 'Your rule is wise and benevolent, but your morality degrades with time."

Eva’s eyes widened with shock.

"Get the fuck outta here," she said. 

CeritusOrbis

This novel will most certainly have explicit language, violence, and sexual scenes, though none will be over-the-top or gratuitous. Later on, there will be scenes that deal with various traumas, from emotional to mental. There's going to be lots of heavy stuff.

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