Kristine Kathryn Rusch

It started in the far reaches of the sector—ships firing on each other, some destroyed. Keeping track became hard—communications turned sporadic, and who really followed which government was in charge of what anyway?

Rumors started, rumors impossible to confirm as communications throughout the system grew intermittent. Entire ships, destroyed. Cities, gone. A planet, blown up.

But most people saw no evidence of any of it. One would think, if a planet had been destroyed, there would be some kind of repercussion, but most people knew of none. Most people saw nothing.

Until one day the ships appeared overhead.

Most people barely had time to gather the family and the money, barely had time to get away, to find refugee ships.

But “refugee ships” make it sound organized, like an effort conducted by some charity organization or a benevolent and surviving government.

The ships weren’t organized or tied to each other or even very similar. Some were old-fashioned generation ships. Some were commandeered space yachts. Some were stolen trading vessels.

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