6 days Max had been on patrol. He'd slept erratically in the moments he was able and while physically rested the stress of fighting it out with the AioSenti fleets was taking a toll on his mental agility. He was noticing that he was making uncharacteristic errors. Forgetting things. Making errors of judgement.
In a battle these things could prove fatal for him or his comrades. A really bad mistake from a lapse in concentration could result in the deaths of dozens of men. As such EarthHope had a procedure in place to remove pilots from duty temporarily when it looked as if they were becoming close to the edge.
It was a dangerous game but then the stakes were high. AioSenti had fought back most of the colonies and was pushing hard against EarthHope's fleets across the systems. Max knew that if the civilians back home knew just how badly EarthHope was doing in their fight they'd panic and be terrified. It was a difficult responsibility and one that hung heavily over all the EarthHope pilots - more so with each strategic loss.
Would AioSenti show pity or remorse? Would AioSenti be merciful?
It was difficult to know what they would do if they reached Earth itself. Their way of thinking was utterly alien to a human mind. Max had fought enough of them in battle to know that they were slippery fish - they could think fast and were improving every time they engaged. Techniques that worked a week ago were no longer able to be employed. It was only a matter of time before high command ran out of options. When that happened - God save the colonies.