Heroes Need a Captain by Sharon L Reddy
Approx. 185,630 words.
Published on June 6, 2011.
Dream Realm 2000 Science Fiction Novel of the Year.
The selk-changed pairs could see the "rainbow slides" into another area of space. When the selk disappeared, they became too valuable to be free. The frontier sectors were only connected by the slides. Corporations found war too profitable to allow them to end. Life contracts were legal slavery, until a slide led back to Earth.