Conflict (2176) Book 02: Lieutenant Chen
Xiu-Li is nearly killed in a science experiment, but Wolf Lobo is along and he resets the fuse delay: she survives the test blast. It was sabotage, so staying on IWG-SS JOHN A. WHEELER is now dangerous for Xiu-Li. On a sector inspection tour, Admiral Custer Beria himself promotes her.
May 2175: Conflict duty on blockade ship IWG-SS/B ISAAC NEWTON; “Jool’s” 25th birthday. Friend Priti Fareyes almost dies in an intercept attempt, (as told by Ensign Ecurba himself). Priti has a crush on the ensign yet she doesn’t even know his name as she talks about events.
Life at the “desert” of Van Maanen’s star has certain ups: Xiu-Li meets Taceo Lacerna and they have a whirlwind affair. Training duty takes a deadly turn on 29 Feb 2176 when the first major deep space battle humans have ever fought occurs as the O.P.P. attacks the IWG training fleet at the posting known as Hellhole.
Small scale “intercepts” of one or two ships against one have been the norm, but at Hellhole, giant tractical cruisers oppose each other at ultra high velocities that can shatter targets – and ships.
Xiu-Li must first rescue injured on a trainer ship she is docked to, then she must enter NEWTON, which has been targeted by an O.P.P. strike team for “coring” of data units. Xiu-Li must lead a team she has never worked with into her badly hit platform ship and attack the O.P.P. strike team, then rescue Taceo (he had similar orders but entered seperately). She gets her team clear before being cut off from them. As she makes her own way clear, her vac-suit signal fails, indicating her death. Xiu-Li still takes a P.O.W., and gets free of NEWTON before it’s destroyed.
December, 2176. Dr.Sara Catsmile and her daughter Ania rescue a survivor from the Battle of Hellhole. Young Ania risks her life, entering an unstable – and boobytrapped – spacehulk to coax “Lucis Nusquam” back to civilization after 8 months in deep space.