FOLLOWED IN SPACE!
The Starsong was beginning to pass between the two huge red binaries into the thicker sprawl of stars through which the channel led. The channel was not straight, and you could not take it too fast—in that swarm of suns the fabric of a ship could be torn apart in some deadly gravity drag or vaporized in collision. The only thing was that the Orionids were still following them.
But Birrel said nothing. This was Garstang's job and he let him do it. The enormous pairs of red suns flashed past them on either side and were gone, and they were in the channel. Under his feet he could feel the Starsong quiver, wincing and flinching like a live thing. On either side the overhanging cliffs of stars seemed to topple toward them. He looked upward at the nebula, like a glowing thundercloud roofing the channel, and then down at the shoaling suns below.
Garstang said flatly, "We didn't get away quite fast enough. They'll be barrelling in here after us and they'll have us in range before we ever get through the channel."
"As far as I can see," said Birrel, "we've only got one way out of it."
He looked up at the screens again, at the vast glow of the nebula overhead.
Garstang was silent for a moment. Then he said, "I hoped you wouldn't think of that."