Humanity is inextricably torn in an interplanetary war that could lead to the death of human society. Project Seedcorn is probably the last and best hope for the human race.
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March 01, 1989
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Excerpt from Heritage of Flight by Susan Shwartz
Realspace shimmered, elongated, then twanged back into existence, taking Pauli Yeager with it. The boards of her ridership, too painstakingly maintained to be new, blurred, then solidified once again. Bad transit, she judged. She shook herself mentally, then glanced at the chrono. It should have begun to move as soon as they entered realspace. Reality shimmered for a fearful "instant," then refocused. There: now the damned chrono had started up.
She put out a hand to touch the display, which gleamed ice-blue. Three seconds realtime had elapsed. Very bad transit. Jump was -- or should be -- instantaneous, however long it felt as space curved and light shifted about you. She swallowed hard, and blinked away a treacherous fog that would be the death of her if it hit when she was using armscomp. Despite lifesupport, which allegedly kept her suit at a comfortable temperature, she shivered and sweated simultaneously.
That actual time had passed ... if Jump had been this bad for her fighter and its host, Leonidas, which had the best of a dying fleet's diminished store of matriel, what had it been like for the refugee ships Daedalus and Sir Jeffrey Amherst?
Before her transfer to Leonidas as a senior pilot -- and that seniority was a laugh, if anything about this damned war qualified as laughable -- she'd served aboard the Amherst. That had been temporary duty, another in the frustrating chain of TDYs that cheated Pauli of the advanced pilot training on New Patuxent she'd been wild for since the war had stepped up. New Pax gave pilots the best training, and increased their chances of surviving their first scramble. And if Exploration, the service she had wanted to enter, was no longer an option, the best training was barely good enough to keep her alive.
Wouldn't you just know that the instant Amherst was headed toward New Pax at long last, new orders would divert them to Wolf IV, one of the slagged worlds, half charnel and half rubble, to rescue and lift out as many survivors as possible for resettlement? She couldn't complain of her luck; it was better than any on Wolf IV.
Thereafter, it seemed, they were always on the run, retreating world by abandoned world, system by ravaged system in the Net of Worlds that had linked the Alliance with Manhome Earth, a Net the Secessionists had torn through, God only knew why.
This war made Alliance and Secess' maniacs even in retreat, fighting with the deadliness of scavengers forced against a cliff face to defend their last scrap of meat. This was not a war you could win, Pauli thought, remembering Wolf IV -- the half-melted ruins, the fevered, feral survivors, and the factories stripped by raiders from both sides, desperate for components and supplies now that the production lines were gone, or going.