Timing would be crucial. The particular Ring she’d transited in through was held to have one of the most stable transit intervals of any gate thus far cataloged. Based on that, sensors indicated the next known portal back was due VERY soon.
Nadja planned to exit the asteroid field and then come about and, at full acceleration, race for the Ring. She reasoned her pursuers had made a sufficiently slower time of it, following her in the manner they had, they would not be able to pull the angle of turn she intended in time to catch her before her portal materialized.
Her chronometer indicated it would be very, very tight but this wasn't exactly the first close scrape in her checkered career. She tensed as the last few asteroids tumbled away.
She began to, without realizing it, mutter the mantra that had seen her safely through seventy-some Ring transits and nearly as many combat missions...almost home...almost home...almost…
The words choked off in her throat and became a surprised gurgle as she emerged safely from the field only to be transfixed by the withering crossfire of the two alien heavy cruisers waiting there.
Explorer III vanished in a rapidly expanding cloud of vaporized debris and ionized gases. Almost home...but not quite.
This story excerpt was written for the Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday Snippet forum and is from my work in progress The Blackstone Rings: Legends Of The Explorer Corps.