She sobbed softly

“She sobbed softly. "So what now? You’ll toss Lailani aside, and we’ll be together here—with her in our bunk?"

He lowered his head. "I don’t know what to do now. I’m confused. I don’t know how long I have with you here. I don’t know when I’ll see you again after this mission. I don’t know that I’ll even be alive next month. How can I make relationship decisions when we might be torn apart in three weeks—figuratively and maybe literally?"

Kemi nodded, tears on her lashes. "You could have said yes," she whispered. "You could have said you’ll toss Lailani aside. And maybe I’d forgive you. Maybe we’d enjoy at least these three weeks together. But I understand. You’re confused. You don’t know who you want." She nodded and dabbed her eyes with her sleeve. "So I’ll decide for you. I’ll make it real easy for you. I’ll go back to living in the officer quarters, and you should be with Lailani."

She turned to leave the room.

"Kemi, wait." He headed after her. "I didn’t tell you so you’d leave. I don’t want you to leave."

She spun back toward him. "So what do you want, Marco? Tell me. What do you want?"

He was silent for a long moment. "To go home," he finally said.

"Well, we can’t go home." Kemi’s eyes were finally dry. "Not for many years. Maybe never. This is our home now. This war." Lips quivering, she stroked his cheek. "Marco, I heard about what happened in Fort Djemila. And I’m sorry. I’m really, honestly sorry for what happened there, for what you saw, what you had to do. And I’m also happy for you. I’m happy that you found Lailani. Honestly I am. She’s a sweet girl, and you deserve to be happy with her."

But she was crying again. She left the room and ran down the hall.

Marco stood at the doorway. He was about to run after her, to try to make peace, when Osiris’s voice emerged from the speakers.

"Code Yellow. All troops report to the gymnasium for briefing. All troops to the gymnasium. Code Yellow. All troops to the gymnasium."

Marco froze. Along the hallway, doorways opened and troops emerged from their bunks to race down the corridor. Marco ran back into his bunk, grabbed his gun, and followed the others. His heart thrashed, and the voice kept blaring from the speakers, and as he ran across the Miyari , he was running in the desert again, charging over the dunes, firing his gun as the scum leaped toward him.

CHAPTER SEVEN

They stood in the ship’s gymnasium, two hundred enlisted soldiers and their officers.

It was a crowded place, smaller than the mess hall. The gym equipment had been pushed aside, and the soldiers stood pressed together, the entire Latona Company. Three platoons wore the navy blue of the STC. One platoon still wore their tattered drab fatigues from Earth.

Marco felt eyes watching him, and a chill ran down his spine. He turned and saw Osiris standing in the crowd. The android was staring right at him. Her face was pale like porcelain, her platinum hair metallic, her eyes expressionless. Suddenly, so fast Marco barely registered it, Osiris gave him a massive, tight-lipped grin that vanished as soon as it had appeared. He looked away, shuddering to remember how the android had choked Elvis, could have killed him.

She might be more dangerous than the scum, Marco thought.

He turned his eyes toward the front of the gym. The company’s four lieutenants stood there on a platform. Three wore the navy blue. One, Lieutenant Ben-Ari, still wore the green of Earth. The twin sergeants stood at a doorway, saluted, and shouted, "Attention on deck!"

As the company stood at attention, Captain Petty entered the gym, walked onto the stage, and spoke to the crowd.

"Earlier today," the captain said, "we received a distress call from Corpus, a mining colony on a moon bearing the same name."

A hologram appeared before her, displaying a rocky black moon. The word Corpus floated beside it. The image zoomed out, showing the moon orbiting a blood-red gas giant labeled Indrani . The image zoomed out again, showing the gas giant orbiting a star labeled Beta Ceti .

"This is boring," Addy whispered to Marco. "I want to watch Space Galaxy instead." He hushed her.”