Xanthera, high orbit
It began at exactly 2:20 earth standard time. The polarized windows were just beginning lighten as the research station fell behind the bulk of Xantera on its lazy orbit around the double planets Xanthera was a paradise its unused surface almost completely covered by forests and warm equatorial seas. It’s sister planet Xanus had much the same climate as Mars. Andre Melcham stared out the lightening windows as the starfield slowly materialized. Then it appeared. Out beyond the planet almost directly away from the sun in deep space a bright light appeared from behind the bulk of Xanus. A bright comet trail trailing out of the back of a glowing body was emerging from behind Xanus. Something was very strange about that comet and not just that the Bulk of Xanus had hid it the whole way in from outsystem, this happened sometimes since the planet’s double orbit placed Xanus almost always facing outward away from the sun. It was this arrangement combined this its proximity to that had led earth to initiate first contact with the Xanthearns even though their level of tech was roughly equivalent to early 1900’s Earth—far to early for contact normally. No the comet was glowing not just reflecting sunlight. The next thing that struck him as strange was the objects motion unless it was just a couple hundred klicks away there was no way it could move that fast then he knew what it was.
At that second the intercom buzzed, “Commander Melcham to CIC we have a ship that’s D-Core.” D-Core was the spacer code for ‘Destabilized Wormhole Core’ a ship whose wormhole generator was disabled removing its ability to move and communicate across the vast distances of interstellar space instantly. Instead the ship was forced to limp forward moving a light year in a day or so. Here two hundred light years from human settlement they would be in for a very long ride.
He arrived in CIC several minutes’ later, “Carlson report,”
“We just picked it up running on GSD drive.”
“Their communications are also silent.” Lisa Berthly said
“They must’ve gone D-Core just a little while ago since we would’ve seen a D-Core ship from a mile away.”
“Not necessarily,” said Berthly, “it could have come in from well out system and with Xanus blocking the view we’d never no.”
“Okay lets do a sensor sweep for radiation they haven’t tried communicating so it can’t just be an instability they must of blown the core to hell and gone which would spew tons of radiation.” Melcham said calmly
“This is stupid no one in their right mind would travel D-Core then purposely hide from possible rescue especially this far out.” Carlson paused running his hands over the radiation sensors pulling them away from the scientists studying the black hole in a nearby system a focusing on the rear of Xanus.
“Let’s just wait and see.” Melcham said uneasily, he knew that out here on the frontier if they encountered anything hostile they probably wouldn’t last long enough for help to arrive. He also knew that they weren’t due for a supply run for a week and a half.
“Sir?” Carlson said unsure of himself, “the space beyond Xanus is clean, there’s nothing but background radiation.”
“And its GSD drive is putting out a different wavefront then ours do.” Berthly said.
“Different how?” melcham asked.
“Well the spatial tear is opened using some kind of magnetic field instead of gravity.”
“Faster?” he asked
“No just different, sir I think we might be seeing a shadow flyer.”
Shadow flyer was a name for a mysterious ship sometimes seen by ships stranded in deep space or on the far edge of solar systems with no inhabited worlds. If was finally making contact with humans then …
“What’s its course?” Melcham asked suddenly excited, “is it coming here?”
“No, its course will take it,” he paused, “straight into the star.” Carlson said confused.
“Well I think this deserves looking into,” Melcham said, “Lisa if you’ll baby sit the scientists Eric and I will go check it out.”
“Sure sir I’ll hold down the fort. Should I give them back the telescope yet?” she said.
“Not yet I want to keep an eye on that.” Melcham responded, “how far is it to the corona?”
“I’d almost there now I would jump strait to the star if I were you.”
“Right, Eric lets move we’ve got maybe a minute before it hits the corona, the stars gravity is slowing it down but not by much!”
They ran from CIC and darted down the three flights of stairs to the outside edge of the station’s habitation ring pulled up the airlock and jumped down into the cockpit of the excursion ship that was kept on-station in the event of an emergency.
“Alright let’s go!” melcham said detaching the docking spars and closing the airlock. The excursion ship was a small five-man ship with forward swept wings and a cockpit in the center. It detached and the centrifugal force propelled it away from the station. They strapped in as the ship fell away and gravity began to lessen as the centrifugal force dissipated and the artificial gravity generator took over. The screens showed that the mysterious craft had just shut down the GSD and deep within the corona slow drifting forward a black dot in the blazing inferno. As the wormhole generator powered up it began to make a strange thrumming noise.
“Is that normal?” Carlson asked.
“I haven’t flown this class of ship since the academy I have no idea.” Melcham paused, “but I think we should be safe,” he began the preflight contacting the station.
“Lisa are you getting this?”
Static answered but behind them the small wormhole generator was now thrumming louder they were about to turn back but the mysterious ship was almost at the photosphere almost at the photosphere. Melcham activated the drive. A stream of frothy blue glowing bubbles shot out of the ships bow under the cabin and extended outward before curving back outward engulfing the ship in the sphere of energy. Then the sphere shrank rapidly and disappeared in an elongated flash.
A thousand kilometers above the stars corona the ship reappeared in a flash of bluish light. Immediately Melcham was slammed into his seat the drive core shaking like a thing alive sending shock waves through the ship.
“Shut down the core!” Melcham screamed as the ships hull began to buckle under the force of the tremors.
“It won’t power down, the shock waves took out the capacitors!”
“Then ditch it!” Melcham said overriding the safety controls.
“Ditching drive core!” Carlson responded.
A bluish point of energy barely got out of the bottom of the ship before exploding in a huge sphere of frothing bluish beads of energy engulfing the ship before growing and shifting red into a huge fireball blasting out a wall of ultra-hard radiation as it finally collapsed in on itself. As the small ship and its two occupants vanished into the unstable wormhole, far below the alien ship floated towards the edge of the photosphere.
Lisa Berthly saw the blast and immediately issued code orange—send help immediately: loss of life imminent. But all she got in response was a wash of static and a strange thrumming coming across the hyperradio bands. They were on their own.
She quickly seized all the telescopes and focused them on the alien vessel. The gritty image revealed the objects true nature. It was a giant ring roughly 150 klicks across with a large squarish shape wrapping partway around the outside of the ring also on the outside mounted at ninety degree angles to each other were four smaller rings. Even as she watched four columns of stellar gas rose from the photosphere itself being pulled off of the sun’s surface traveling up into the smaller rings vanishing as they reached the ring’s center. The large central ring flashed white in the yellow wash of the star. Hundreds of smaller objects flew out. What the hell? Berthly thought as they streaked out hundreds at a time. Then the collision warnings went off and she knew, missiles!
She put the code orange on automated loop and sounded the intercom.
“All hands this is Lieutenant Lisa Berthly Commander Melcham has been killed in action and I am assuming command of the station there are hostile enemies incoming! Repeat we have incoming! Battle stations this is not a drill, Repeat this is not a drill!”
She then alerted the governments of Xanthera and swung all the gunmounts starward using emergency thrusters to propel the station into view of the aggressor. This was a frontier station she wouldn’t give it up without a fight. Already the full CIC crew was arriving filling empty stations scanning the missiles with powerful AEGIS systems and prepping for the battle ahead the lead missiles were only four minutes away from impact with the station and three minutes from the planet.
“Radiological warning! Missiles are hot!” one of the crew shouted as an alarm went off.
“Alert the planet!” Berthly Said. The missiles were three minutes away.
Berthly watched with grim satisfaction as the crew went about their duties flawlessly, they were a good crew; it would take more then a few missiles to take this station. Two minutes left.
“Sir targets entering maximum firing range!”
“Acquire firing solution.” Berthly said.
The beads of weapon fire raced sunward exploding in a wall of light that stretched across the sky. Hundreds of the aggressor weapons exploded and died but hundreds more raced on towards the planet.
“They’re breaking through!”
“Redirect fire and knock them out!”
Hundreds of screams for help flooded the airways as the cities of Xanthera blossomed in nuclear fire and still they kept coming not leaving an inch of ground untouched in minutes the entire dayside of the planet glowed in the nuclear apocalypse and began to circle to the nightside. One minute left.
“Sir they’re closing on our position”
“Emergency thrusters get us out of the line of fire! All hands stand by escape pods!” Berthly yelled into the intercom.
The missiles were exploding by the hundreds but for every one destroyed three more made it to impact the planets surface.
“They’re breaking through! Thirty seconds!”
“Abandon station! All hands abandon station!”
New York City, Earth
Commander Richard Johnson (Retired) walked slowly down the New York street his cane tapping lightly on the concrete keeping the weight off his right foot, a tribute to his service in the fleet. He glanced up the concrete canyons of New York as he shouldered his way through the rush hour crowd toward the base of the Christianson building, the 410 story military capital of the Confederacy the principle government of Earth and its colonies. As he approached the base of the tower he tossed a dollar to each of the beggars on the corner. He entered the building and crossed the vaulting lobby to the elevators. He was waiting for the elevator when the receptionist stopped him.
“Sorry mister but you can’t go up there,” she said walking over to him.
“Oh, I’m here to see Admiral Tucker.”
“Do you have an appointment?” the receptionist asked.
“No he just called interrupting my poker game I might add and told me to get down here.”
“Sorry mister but unless your on my schedule you can’t go up there.” She said referring to the elevator.
He sighed walking over to the desk and leaned over the desk pressing the button on Admiral Tucker’s intercom.
“Hey mister you can’t—“ she groaned and walked back over to the desk.
“Hey Bill your secretary won’t let me see you so unless you want me to leave I’d tell her to get her butt out of the way.”
“Linda let him go.” Admiral Tucker said through the intercom as she approached the desk. She let him go.
“He whistled row, row, your boat as the elevator climbed to the senior staff offices. He got some curious glances as he limped into Admiral Tucker’s office still singing row your boat. The Admiral was seated at a large oak desk kept perfectly neat.
Richard! Glad you made it.”
“This is New York you’re always glad if you make, now what’s so important you had to drag me here at ten thirty at night?”
“This,” he said gesturing at the map of the frontier bases. “Twenty-four hours ago we lost contact with a research base here” he pointed at Xanthera, the star system the station orbited. “That was just the beginning we’ve lost contact with all the bases monitoring the CGM-549 star system.”
“Putting one base that far beyond the border was a bad idea and I told you that so you put four there. You were looking for trouble and it found you congratulations if that’s all I’ll be going.” Johnson said standing up.
“Don’t go yet we’re just getting started shortly after losing contact with Xanthera we began getting this signal, it lasted for twelve minutes then stopped.”
A deep thrumming came through the desktop speakers but underneath was a strange warbling signal.
“We managed to clean it up partway.” Tucker paused for affect, ”It’s a code orange.”
“Once more congratulations.” Johnson said standing again, “unless you actually want something I’m leaving.” He started back for the door.
Tucker sighed, “I want you to lead a mission back to Xanthera to find out what happened.”
“And for my trouble I get what?”
“Johnson I could have brought anyone in but I was told you were the best for the job. Now do you want the command or not?”
“There’d be conditions.” He said
“I choose the ships, I choose the officers, and most importantly I choose the pay.”
“Alright I’ll need a minimum of a cruiser and three destroyers. The cruiser would be the Nightwatch; the destroyers would be the Alexandria, the Nero and the Ethan Allen.
“None of them are in port except the Nero and it’s down four days for repairs.”
“So while your fixing the Nero call back the rest of them with the wormhole drive you can have them hear in ten minutes.”
“Their on patrol.”
So switch them out. As for officers I’ll command the cruiser; for the destroyers I want Anna McClaren, Bryan Watermen, and Andrew Desoyer.”
“Fine, why them?”
“They're the only people I’d trust my life with. As for my pay it would be a minimum of five million up front with two thousand a day. That’s for me and all my officers.”
“Great and one more thing, I need my own office.”
Anna McClaren stood on the bridge of the Predator a medium class destroyer with a small tightly knit crew she watched the windowscreen on the bridge with minimal interest as the destroyer probed the depths of the gas planet they were floating above she hated it. Ever since scientists found a flying form of algae in the gaseous atmosphere of Tiio half the fleet had been out scanning the gas giants. It was stupid their were plenty of life bearing planets that people could just go walk and contained far more complex life forms on why go mucking around with gas planets the most advanced thing they’d find there was algae if they were lucky. Just them the transmitter on her chair’s arm screen chirped bringing her out of her reverie. She swung the six inch screen up from where it was hanging level with the arm support to the angle she preferred and pushed the connect button interfacing her screen with the callers; the video light on top of the screen blinked on. The grinning face of Richard Johnson appeared larger then life on the screen.
“Hi Anna just called to check up on things find out what’s happening with my old crew.”
“You realize your hacking a military channel don’t you?”
“I see your well,”
“Rich you could get arrested for this.”
“Still not one for small talk I see.”
“And don’t worry I’m not hacking military channels I’m speaking from a military consol on military business.”
She was about to reply but he backed up showing he was wearing a new uniform with commodore stripes.
“Ah, I’m back and with a promotion,”
Again he interrupted before she could say something
“But lets cut to the chase, I’m looking for a daring young captain to command the Ethan Allen on a dangerous quest to correct the things command’s screwed up and you’ve been chosen at random out of a possible 50,000 candidates, she’s yours if you want her, what do you say?”
“Let me think about it,” she said.
“Great, I expect you here by Monday.”
“But I haven’t—“
He cut the signal. She leaned back in her chair thinking. He didn’t wait for a reply, he didn’t need to, he knew what her answer would be.
Well there it is keep in mind this is just chapter one.
Stern Chase chapter one
Do you have creative writing skills?? Think you can charm the masses with a story or two?? Perhaps you can create a mini-toon based on Armada. Then give it a go right here.
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2 posts • Page 1 of 1
2 posts • Page 1 of 1