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Apex

Apex

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Apex

Bewertungen:
4.5/5 (8 Bewertungen)
Länge:
421 Seiten
6 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Apr 7, 2015
ISBN:
9780062396440
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Author of the epic Star Force Origin series, Aer-ki Jyr's impressive galactic world-building is on full display in this stand-alone space opera adventure reminiscent of Ryk Brown, Christopher Nuttall, B.V. Larson, and Evan Currie.

A new dawn is coming.

It's been eons since Humans controlled the universe. Defeated by a mysterious enemy, the downfall of Humanity brought about a virtual dark age. Culture and technology stagnated in their absence. But now, trade is once again flourishing as Human artifacts resurface throughout the galaxy, resurrecting long forgotten advancements.

And one such discovery might very well alter the course of the future forever.

An epic space adventure, Aer-ki Jyr's APEX is a breathless race to the ultimate prize, with the very fate of the stars hanging in the balance.

The Author's Definitive Edition (previous edition published in 2013)

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Apr 7, 2015
ISBN:
9780062396440
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Aer-ki Jyr is the author of the science fiction serial Star Force. His latest work, Apex, is his first full-length novel. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.


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Apex - Aer-ki Jyr

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Chapter 1

J

ALIA

WOKE

WITH

a start, sitting up in her sleep pod, sweat glistening on her forehead. It took her a moment to realize where she was, for her head was awash with the lingering sensory numbness of the dream state and the only illumination in the dark chamber was the muted blue/green status lights on the wall to her left.

She pressed a hand to her forehead, putting pressure on her temple and settling herself. She’d had another nightmare. The third in the past four days.

The Junta breathed in deep, then shook away the last bit of haziness from her vision before pulling her legs and tail out of the enclosed portion of the pod, crunching her knees up to her bare chest to clear her feet, then swinging them over the edge of the padded sleeping compartment and feeling for the dark floor below.

She flinched when her feet touched cold . . . then realized that she was covered in sweat, worse even than the last sleep cycle. Whatever it was about jumpship travel, the longer the journey lasted the more her unconscious mind protested. Fortunately they were less than a day from arrival in the Hellis System, and Jalia intended to stay awake for the remainder of this jump.

Flicking the sanitation cycle switch on her sleep pod, the nude Junta stepped into the nearby cleansing chamber and closed the arced door on the semi-­clear vertical tube that lit up when she stepped inside. A moment later warm water rained down on her petite, red-­skinned body that appeared black against the mood lighting. Her race reacted to the green spectrum of light with calming neural waves, which helped to wash away the nightmare-­induced adrenaline while the tiny streams of water rid her of her sweaty sheen.

Her fleshy, half-­meter-­long tail coiled up behind her back, itching and rubbing a knot in her spine. Her sleep pod may have been padded, but she’d never grown accustomed to the thing. It hadn’t been custom-­fitted, rather it had been acquired from another unit, repurposed to the captain’s quarters on her ship along with the cleansing chamber and a few other items of Junta technology. Her homeworld and race didn’t possess starships, thus some ad hoc customizations had to be made when she’d purchased the Zaklorn freighter some eight cycles ago.

Jalia took her time beneath the water streams, for there was little to do during jumpship transit. Her ship sat parked inside the massive vessel along with dozens of others being ferried between star systems, and aside from routine maintenance she and her crew had an abundance of spare time on their hands.

Most of her crew had left the ship and secured temporary accommodations in the city that was the interior of the jumpship Vernera, which carried an onboard population upwards of 600,000 not including passengers and the crew of the docked ships. Jalia had spent most of her free time roaming the city while never spending too much time away from her ship. Security was decent on the Vernera, but she didn’t feel completely at ease leaving her home entirely in their hands.

Not that someone could steal it. It was locked behind massive bay doors on the jumpship hull, and even if they were opened and the ship exited, they were traveling 197 times lightspeed. Without the jumpship’s massive engines there was no way for her little ship’s gravity drive to bleed off that much speed. Any hijacker would be marooned to interstellar drift, assuming they didn’t run into a star or nebula, which would end their journey within a microsecond. It was often debated amongst starship crews which fate would be worse.

Either way, you ended up just as dead.

When Jalia had finally recovered from her nightmare she palmed a wide, flat switch on the interior of the clear tube and activated the drying cycle. Air jets replaced the water and she spread her legs, arms, and tail wide to let it get into all the cracks. She leaned her face upward and shook her six headtails, flicking off water as the limp tendrils flopped to and fro. Unlike her proper tail, her headtails had no muscle tissue, only a combination of cartilage, fat, and sensory neurons. They made up for a lack of ‘ears’ that many other races possessed, as well as adding other sensory input . . . which also made them rather tender. One surefire way to piss off a Junta was grabbing her headtails, or in the case of the males, headtail. They possessed one, with musculature, but lacked a pelvic or ‘proper’ tail.

Few ­people in the galaxy knew of that distinction. Most Junta seen in galactic society were female . . . slaves, sold by pirates, slavers, or the clans on her homeworld. Many of her Kella-­clan sisters had seen that fate forced upon them when they reached puberty. Her world was so poor, and morally deficient, that the clans sold off excess female population to the galaxy as servants or sex slaves. Jalia, as a member of Kella’s ruling family, had been exempt from that practice, though arranged ‘marriages’ were common between clans and that was one of many reasons she’d struggled to escape her homeworld through a combination of ingenuity, manipulation, and blackmail. As it was, she was the only Junta starship captain, male or female, in the known galaxy.

Which meant that virtually everywhere she went she was recognized as a slave, being barred or questioned as to her purpose when trying to enter various establishments. She was a second-­class citizen at best, as far as most races were concerned, though the lachar pistol that she wore in a blatant hip holster had forestalled many such assumptions, prompting her to make it a permanent feature of her daily wardrobe.

After making sure she was thoroughly dry Jalia left the cleansing chamber, which immediately powered down as soon as her feet left the pedestal. Her captain’s quarters reverted to darkness, but her eyes adjusted quickly and the faint status lights were enough for her to move about and toggle the main illumination strips to three-­quarters intensity.

Four rows of bars on the ceiling lit with white light, along with two lateral ones ringing the walls just below the short ceiling. Jalia blinked away the excess light and opened a compartment next to her sleep pod, which had already finished its cleaning cycle. She pulled out knee-­length pants, with tail hole, and slipped the flexible garment on, wriggling her tail through the tight opening. To the dark blue pants she added a matching, loose, sleeveless shirt and black strap jacket. She retrieved her gun belt and strap sandals from the small table opposite her sleep pod, slipping on and snugging up the footwear first.

The straps came all the way up to her knees, with bits of skin visible all the way down to her toes. The sandals matched her jacket, equally black and just as gaudy. With practiced ease, she slipped her gun belt on and fastened it below her navel, then grabbed an assortment of currency chips, access cards, and identification slips from the tabletop where she’d dumped them last night. Those quickly disappeared into discreet pockets.

Lastly, Jalia grabbed a thin, blue, flexible ribbon and tied her headtails together so that they hung behind her head rather than resting on her shoulders. She checked her image in the reflective comm panel then left her quarters, thumbing the exterior lock as she left.

Her ship, the Resolute, was small but still over four keets in length, which was just over two kilometers by the old Human standards. A few races used the ancient measurements, others used their own, but most held to the commerce standards, in which ‘keets’ were the designated units of local measurement. Distant measurements, used for space travel, were measured in ‘wesks’ and ‘weskits,’ the latter being 1/1000th of the former.

Most of the ship’s bulk was comprised of engines, fuel cells, and cargo holds. The actual living sections of the ship were sparse, accommodating a crew of eight. Jalia operated with six, including herself. Two were Uria, two Presca, and one Fret. All her crew were bipedal, had two arms, and vocal-­equipped within her hearing range, as per her choice. No Junta crewers were available offworld and she didn’t want to have to train one from scratch, so she chose those most similar in biology from the available recruitment pools. Still, she had little in common with the other races.

One of the Presca was still onboard when she left the ship, going over manifests. She trusted him enough to lock up on his own and headed out the short docking umbilical and into the jumpship’s bay ring, which possessed all types of maintenance ser­vices for the docked ships, ranging from spare parts to fuel stations. Jalia bypassed the ring via a nearby stairwell, jogged up five levels, and ended up on the observation promenade.

Some hundred-­plus ­people could be seen wandering to and fro in front of enormous windows spanning the length of a road-­like chamber stretching off into the distance. To her right she could see the twin set of windows on the far side, which allowed a view of the starboard docking bay and the vessels berthed within. The Resolute was parked in the port bay, nestled up just below the windows and mostly out of sight.

Several restaurants and lounges dotted the open-­air promenade. For some reason, the denizens and passengers actually liked looking out at the motionless starships. Various designs could be seen, from different races and manufacturers, but beyond that Jalia didn’t really see the point. The view hadn’t changed for the past eight days, but nonetheless a fair number of ­people frequented this section of the ship.

Jalia walked down the promenade until she arrived at a primary lift hub, hopped in a transit cube, and jetted off through the jumpship’s interior toward the city proper. She emerged at the intersection of two of the city’s passenger streets, with her cube popping up from below ground next to niches for three others, presently unoccupied.

She left the cube and two Herrans took her place. The quadrupeds barely fit in the compartment together, but they managed and quickly rose up through the ceiling, moving to one of over 150 levels within the city.

Jalia wandered the streets, passing by a number of entertainment districts before she arrived at the center of the city where a vast open-­air park sported rolling hills and a large central lake. The ceiling of the chamber was some 50 levels up, with high-­priced apartments situated above, able to look down at the park through their transparent floors.

The Junta walked out through the grassy knolls, avoiding the clusters of ­people gathered for all manner of recreational activities, and ended up at the edge of the lake where a small cluster of thick-­trunked trees rose up and shaded the ground from the warm overhead lights. She sat down and leaned back against one, pressing her headtail bundle against the rough bark. She tolerated the mild discomfort and let the organic sounds and smells wash over her senses.

She relaxed for a long while, having nothing else to really do and not favoring the crowded kiosks that reminded her of her overpopulated homeworld. There were few ­people in this section of the park and Jalia appreciated the seclusion. Eventually, her growling stomach prompted her to stand up and consider whether to head for one of the smaller restaurants on the jumpship or to hit the foodstuff stores for a snack.

Before she decided, she noticed a ripple on the lake. Frowning, she slipped her second eyelids into place, enhancing her distance vision by a factor of five. There was no aquatic animal life in the pond . . . or so the Gorovan information network said. The interstellar corporation’s jumpship brochure stated that it would be both logistically improper and potentially hazardous to keep unsapient life-­forms in a public access body of water, not to mention potential allergic and viral medical complications.

The database cited an incident by their primary rival in the jumpship industry, Yiori, in which a male Teeri died from petting an ilkori saber fish in a decorative pool. It had been a freak allergic reaction to a chemical in the fish’s scales, but Gorovan pressed the point for all its worth, noting that they valued the wellbeing of its passengers too much to take the risk of a similar incident no matter what aesthetic value was lost.

Jalia had been to the lake every day this week and had yet to see so much as a crease in the reflective surface. With no wind, the lake’s surface was normally a flat mirror, which made this moving ripple all the more curious.

Whatever was causing it, it was moving towards the shore, a bit down the sandy edge from Jalia’s position. She leaned back against the tree, arms crossed over her supple chest, and watched closely. A few steps out from the shore the ripple slowed and a mass of brilliant green hair broke the surface, followed by a smooth skinned, blue female’s face.

Jalia blanched, blinking several times, not immediately trusting her eyes.

The figure walked calmly out of the water, her tight-­fit black bodysuit shaking off the water and appearing to dry almost instantly. Her blue arms were bare and immediately rose up to her head and wrung the water out of her long ponytail. After finishing she retrieved a thin grey robe left on the shore’s edge and wrapped herself in it. Her blue skin disappeared, her face hidden deep within the robe’s folds, and the Cres quietly walked up off the sandy shore and headed across the dark green grass, ostensibly back into the crowded city streets.

The Junta followed from a distance, cursing herself as she did so. Stalking someone was immensely rude, but she couldn’t help herself. Cres had always fascinated her, and were rarely seen outside their own territory. They even had their own fleet of jumpships . . . so what was this one doing here? Jalia felt compelled to follow her, though she didn’t really know why.

Normally, drifting into the packed streets would deter pursuit, but Junta were used to living in crowds so Jalia had little trouble tailing the Cres from a discreet distance. Their race was the most reclusive in this part of the galaxy, and not a lot was known about them except that they were highly intelligent, militant, and worshipped the long extinct Human race. It was rumored that they went to great pains to recover even the simplest of Human artifacts, though they weren’t alone in that endeavor.

Very little remained from the mysterious race’s empire. The Great Purge that wiped them from the face of the galaxy had apparently been a thorough one, and given that their technological prowess far surpassed everyone else’s, or so the story went, many races and individuals fell over themselves to track down any hint of a Human archaeological discovery.

All Jalia knew was that the Humans were gone and that many revered them. Some races even claimed to possess Human genetics, though those claims were never confirmed, given that no intact Human genetic profiles existed for comparison. Not surprising, given that their demise was supposed to have occurred some 20,000 cycles ago, before many of the more prominent races had even attained space travel.

Nowadays, the Cres were the revered race. Respected by all, feared by many, they were elusive and uninterested in most galactic affairs, as far as the news feeds reported. Nearly all diplomatic invites sent out to the Cres came back with a negative response, though Jalia didn’t blame them. Interracial accords, conferences, and exchanges were a waste of time in her opinion . . . one more reason why Jalia liked them.

They were the no-­nonsense race, but a moral one. Their hatred of slavers was one aspect of their psyche that wasn’t a mystery, as evidenced by the few holos of their combat engagements available to the galaxy. Several million slaves owed their freedom to the Cres, and the prominent slaver shipping lines had adjusted to keep well clear of Cres territory, though it was rumored that the blue-­skinned aliens would still occasionally hit one of them at random, giving all illicit shippers pause for concern.

Jalia didn’t fear them. Her cargo was legit. Spare parts, food, a few novelties, and a load of prefab shelters in this shipment. Still, their presence gave other races pause and even as the Junta tracked the Cres, she felt the need to keep her distance.

Two trinket kiosks and a jot through an art gallery later, the Cres suddenly disappeared from Jalia’s awareness. The Junta approached the point she’d last spotted her slowly, blending in with the crowds then standing against a wall waiting on a water fountain to clear. She scanned the area with her keen eyesight and ample hearing, but the Cres had been so silent that the latter did little good . . . and the grey hood had equally disappeared from sight.

She doubted that she’d had ditched the cloak, her hair alone would have stood out, not to mention the stir her presence would probably have made.

Deflated, Jalia shook her head and knelt over the now open water fountain. She sucked in a quick pair of icy cold gulps and decided to let the mysterious alien go.

Then a flicker of thought caused her to glance to her right, catching the fleeing glimpse of that grey cloak disappearing down a side street. Suppressing a smile, Jalia merged back into the meandering pedestrian traffic and rejoined the hunt.

Three more times she lost contact with the Cres, and three more times she reacquired her trail, which led her into the residential district. More specifically, the temporary quarters for passengers where her crew were probably now billeted. She hadn’t inquired, their time away was their own, so long as they were back at the ship when their shifts came up.

The streets had narrowed and the crowds thinned, which made tracking the Cres easier, but also made it harder to disguise her pursuit so Jalia laid back further, meandering to and fro, trying to blend in as much as possible. When she paused near an information board the Cres quietly ducked into a stairwell and proceeded to walk down to the next level.

Jalia followed a few seconds later, but lost track of her quarry yet again. She sighed and glanced around, hoping to pick up the trail again. Intuition led her to head off to the right, and she quickly found herself in a small courtyard outside an apartment complex.

The Cres was nowhere to be seen.

Cursing her luck, Jalia walked over and sat down on a public bench and waited a spell. No use in chasing down empty roads. She wondered how far off the Cres’s quarters were, or if she was meeting someone. No way to tell, now that she’d lost her.

Oh well, she thought. It had been an adventure while it lasted.

She stood up and walked over to a different exit to the courtyard, wondering where she should go next. Maybe catch one of the Elos in the entertainment district or, now returning her attention to her growling stomach, finally get some food.

Suddenly Jalia felt her pistol slip from her holster. She reflexively grabbed for it, but found herself knocked to the side and her back smashed up against the stone wall, then forcefully held there, staring into the hooded face of the Cres she’d been following.

The enigmatic alien didn’t say anything, but her eyes locked with Jalia’s. The Junta felt paralyzed and entranced at the same time, unable to look away. The intensity behind the eyes was hard with warning, but they softened after a moment and the arm across her chest relaxed as her pistol was returned to her hip holster with a subtle grace.

You track well, Junta, the Cres said with smooth, eloquent resonance before walking away and quietly disappearing around a corner.

Jalia didn’t move, still stunned by being jumped . . . and then let off that easy. Not to mention being spoken to, and complimented by the Cres.

And how did she get behind her anyway?

Knowing better than to continue to follow, Jalia walked away in the opposite direction, pondering what had just happened.

A long while later, she ended up back on the observation promenade, seated along one of the long windows in a cushy chair, staring out at the docked ships, lost in thought.

Then one of the ships in the back row, partially obscured by a Uria military frigate, exploded.

Chapter 2

J

ALIA

FROZE

. For a moment she didn’t know how to interpret what she was seeing, then her mind went directly to the status of her ship, mentally plotting the debris trajectory.

No, her ship should be fine. Plenty of other ships in the way.

Then her thoughts raced to the outer hull, and the egress doors. Had they been punctured?

The debris cloud had lost its fire, but it was too thick to see through. Behind her the noise level began to rise and her neck stiffened against the building tension in the air. She stayed in her seat, watching, wondering what her next move should be.

Not a lot of options. Stay here, head into the city, or back to her ship which was stuck inside the jumpship, unable to go anywhere or do anything. More importantly, what had caused that ship to explode? And was it any danger to her ship?

Jalia’s magnification eyelids slid into place and she took a closer look at the spreading debris and smoke cloud. The docking area was unpressurized and had no artificial gravity, so the unchecked matter was spreading rapidly in all directions, thinning out as it progressed. Not too long after a hazy image of the damaged ship’s hull appeared, listing down . . . and up, severed into two large pieces along the midsection.

Internal explosion, Jalia guessed. Her stomach clenched with anxiety. Somebody’s ship had just broken in half. No idea how many crew had been aboard. Thoughts of the same thing happening to the Resolute came to mind and a surge of helplessness rushed through her.

Which was quickly forgotten as the glass in front of her cracked from an unseen debris impact.

The Junta leapt out of her seat on reflex, literally jumping up and over the back of it, landing deftly on her feet. Her acute hearing detected no atmospheric hiss, but she was still thoroughly rattled.

Suddenly a large, heavy panel dropped down from the ceiling, quickly covering the glass and cutting off all view of the docking area. Fear of decompression gone, Jalia glanced around as the promenade quickly emptied, with streams of panicking ­people rushing for the exits.

Kitja, she swore. She needed to get back to her ship.

The nearest stairway to the bay ring was backlogged with ­people, mostly crewers by the look of them, but a lot of others too that looked like they had no idea where they were going. Jalia held back, let it thin out a bit, then rushed through a gap and ran down the stairs, hopping over the railing on a switchback and bypassing four more ­people.

She moved down the five levels as quickly as she could, passing through an emergency atmospheric containment field that glowed blue in one of the archway junctions. Since the ­people on the other side weren’t exploding from decompression, Jalia figured it was only precautionary and continued to nudge and wiggle her way through the crowd. She hit a bottleneck half a level from her exit, slamming her into a wall of ­people and getting wedged into them by the panicky aliens squeezing down behind her.

Jalia growled, then grabbed the railing to her left and stepped up on top of it. She deftly ran down it four steps then jumped a good two meters into the air, landing in a small open area next to the bay ring entrance. She melded with the flow of crewers, most of whom gave her a measure of space, if for no other reason than the pistol she wore. Soon she was into the wider commons area next to the docked ships and the crowds thinned out, allowing her a modest jog as she wove her way back to the Resolute.

She was relieved to find the airlock still intact and entered her ship through the short umbilical, unlocking the access door with an 18-­digit color access code. She darted inside just as the sound of weaponsfire echoed down the bay ring behind her.

Jalia stopped three steps inside and turned around, listening intently, then ran back through the umbilical and looked outside towards the sounds that were getting increasingly louder.

If she had to she could detach her ship from the umbilical. It still couldn’t move with the docking clamps attached, but it would prevent anyone from getting on her ship short of taking a walk through vacuum . . . but she needed to know what was going on first.

Slipping her pistol from its holster, Jalia tentatively poked her head out the umbilical, seeing that the weaponsfire had cleared out the crowds rather quickly. She began skulking down the bay ring, keeping to shadows and cover as much as she could. The area was sparse, but there were enough archways and support struts dotting the area in between kiosks to keep her out of sight.

Jalia dashed about in little spurts, gradually making her way forward without spending more than a ­couple of seconds in view each time. A small explosion prompted her to hunker down behind a low shelf jutting out into the walk area. The interior of the shop had been sealed shut, and the shelf had a sturdy metal panel locked over its contents. Either it had been closed down before the explosion, or someone knew trouble was coming and decided to take cover inside.

All the better. Jalia preferred keeping to herself right now, and a panicked shopkeep could have gotten in the way.

Her top two headtails peeked up over the edge of the shelf, followed by a dark red forehead and two keen green eyes, mag lids clicking into place as another grenade exploded far ahead. No one was in view yet, but the slight curve in the bay ring didn’t afford a good line of sight. She could make out the black smear mark on the wall where the grenade had just exploded on impact, with several lachar blasts following it, making small pockmarks of their own.

Finally one of the fighters appeared, running backwards and ducking for cover. Another Presca followed, then a third. A fourth came into view and was shot in the head before he could make cover. All of the scaly aliens wore Gorovan security uniforms and were obviously retreating from something.

In her direction.

OK, I’ve seen enough, she thought, glancing back over her shoulder before beginning her own hasty retreat. She zigzagged a bit to gain distance, then sprinted her thin legs off all the way back to the umbilical. She darted into her ship, sealed the hatches, then disconnected.

The umbilical retracted away from her ship, giving her a good four meters of vacuum between the Resolute and the firefight. Jalia waited a while, steadying her breath and hoping everything would just pass her by . . . but if this wasn’t some isolated incident, and was part of some larger takeover, then her docking port may have just been added to enemy territory.

She chewed on her lower lip for a moment. There were a few windows on her ship, but none on the bay ring, so she had no way of knowing what was going on outside her front door. The only option she had was to get on the ship’s comm net.

Jalia went back to her cabin and logged into her personal terminal, quickly linking up with the Gorovan news feed. The explosion of what was tagged as a Morrin Corporate transport was already being replayed on holo, but nothing on the security forces had come up yet. The reporters kept downplaying the seriousness of the explosion and repeating pointless safety advisories.

If there’d been a hull breach the decompression would have been over by now.

There . . . an advisory that the bay ring was being closed down just popped up on the info strip, ostensibly for safety regulators to check for structural breaches. That meant the firefight was out of control and they didn’t want anyone knowing about it. Jalia was glad that she’d gotten down here when she did, else she would have been cut off from her ship. Her crew, however . . .

She pulled up the personal message channel and checked to see if any of her crew were online, with no luck. They were who knows where within the city. They might not even know there was a problem yet.

Jalia hoped that meant they were safe from harm, but anything that involved a ship blowing up and had security in full retreat was serious. The Vernera was still hours away from arrival in the Hellis System, with no way to receive reinforcements or even call for help until they got there.

Then again, maybe that was the point. Getting there. This attack was happening now, why not earlier? Was it coincidence that this fight was happening right before arrival? Maybe there was help waiting for the attackers insystem.

Punching the comm panel in frustration, Jalia leaned back in her seat and fought the helpless feeling creeping over her. She had no idea what was really going on, but organized fighting onboard a jumpship was rarer than rare. If it was happening, then something big was going on . . . and Jalia knew she needed to get her ship as far away from the fireworks as possible. Whether it be pirates, slavers, or military engagements, private shippers were always getting caught in the middle.

And when that happened, they usually didn’t make it out alive.

Jalia had kept clear of trouble for eight cycles, which made her one of the more experienced captains in private ser­vice. Start-­up shippers usually didn’t make it two cycles, being considered easy prey. The one big advantage that shippers had was the vastness of space and losing themselves in it. Getting stuck inside a jumpship with nowhere to go was just plain maddening.

Jalia stayed at her comm panel, monitoring the news feeds for the next two hours before the firefight finally made the broadcasts. The destruction of the ship had been reclassified as an act of terrorism by a group of Cres commandos that had surreptitiously boarded the Vernera. Security forces had pinned down the Cres to the docking area, securing the onboard population from harm, but they had not yet captured or killed the remaining Cres, whose numbers had been ‘significantly thinned’ by this time.

All docking areas and support facilities were under lockdown until the situation was rectified, and the deceleration jump into the Hellis System would continue without incident. The jumpship engines were unaffected by the explosion, and the terrorists had no access to that part of the ship. Gorovan apologized for the disruption, but assured that debarkation would continue on schedule once they reached their destination.

Jalia unconsciously shook her head. That wasn’t right. The

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  • (5/5)
    A great conclusion to the trilogy, wrapping everything up in a way that's both surprising and satisfying.
  • (4/5)
    Action-filled conclusion to Naam's Nexus trilogy (Nexus, Crux, Apex). Against a backdrop of geopolitics, drug policy, fear of the unknown, development policy, and human rights, transhumans, AI, and humans clash. Though the first book (Nexus) provided the basic "science fictional" elements, here we see how these play out on the political scene, with its many actors with different motivations. Recommended.
  • (4/5)
    Picking up right where Crux ended, Apex provides a satisfying conclusion to the Nexus Trilogy. At times in the middle it gets bogged down by too many viewpoints, taking too long to switch back to a given plot thread. But the action picks up towards the end as the characters converge on the climax. The ending is fitting; the main plot threads are concluded, but there's unfinished details to not feel too tidy. And it has it's sad elements, like the previous two books.