Aware of the invasion force, the entire station was on alert. Initial assault troops were quickly placing wall charges before taking cover in troop movement corridors.
The wall charges didn’t look like any kind of weapon. They were long slender objects, each about three meters in length. To the average person, they looked like a light bar used more for decorative floor illumination.
Really they were minimized IED’s. But instead of shrapnel, they dispersed high intensity shock waves. Several lined the full length of each side of the Science hall. They were linked via Wi-Fi and would be triggered from the safety of the troop corridors.
Each charge was positioned so the force of their blast was aimed towards the center of the hall. In this way, they should provide enough power to incapacitate this small invasion force without causing critical damage to walls or station infrastructure.
Sloan and the few men with him were just arriving at the closet. The door was open and a quick assessment determined it safe for entry.
The room was cluttered with equipment and devices he’d never seen before. Visible along the back wall were the LED displays of the beacons earlier placed by the intruders. Sloan radioed the Admiral.
“I‘m in the maintenance closet. Dega and Wheeler are here, both dead. A projection beam is being generated by two devices placed along the floor at the back. It looks like they’re generating a portal of some kind.
They tried to move weapons through, large artillery type guns, and got them stuck. It’ll be difficult to move anything through here.”
“Do you see any way to disable those devices?” The Admiral questioned. “We’re minutes away from a fight and we need to be sure nothing else can come through that gateway.”
Sloan’s mind was racing. How could he disable them? “One moment Admiral, I have an idea.”
Sloan made another call. “Gomez, are you there?”
Gomez responded, “Sloan is that you?”
“It’s me. We don’t have much time. I need you to access the grid table. Do it now, quickly.”
Gomez opened a channel to the database and selected the grid table. It took a few seconds to load.
“Ok, it’s open.” Gomez replied.
“Find the grid coordinates record for Teller Station and change the location data. Just zero it out.”
“Change the location data?” Gomez objected. “Are you sure? That’ll cause grid systems to disconnect.”
“That’s what I am hoping for. Do it now. We’re out of time.”
Gomez grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down the current values so they could be restored later.
“Ok, I’m changing the data now.” He hit Enter to save. An alert popped up on the screen.
“Sloan, I need an authorization code.”
Sloan quickly repeated his personal code to Gomez, “Charlie, Alpha, Four, Sloan.”
Gomez verified the authorization was successful. “I got it. Location data’s been changed.”
“Ok, hold a minute,” instructed a hopeful Sloan. He looked at the LED displays of the projection devices. It took some seconds but they began to flicker and finally shut off.
“Gomez, I think we did it! Great work!” Sloan was excited.
“I hope you know what you’re doing Major. That change by now has crashed a few systems.”
“That’s exactly what I was hoping for.” Sloan changed frequencies.
“Admiral!” Sloan called excitedly.
John grabbed his comm. “Talk to me Major!”
“Sir, The devices are disabled. I authorized a grid location change which looks to have caused them to crash. Unfortunately other grid systems will crash too, but for the moment this portal should be inoperable.”
“Good work Major!” Tucker exclaimed. “Can you remove the devices?”
Seconds later, Sloan responded. “The devices have been removed. I have them in hand.”
“I suggest you get them out of there.” Instructed the Admiral.
“Where to sir?”
Tucker thought for a moment. “Can you get them to Safe Lock?”
Safe Lock was a container facility on the station. Items of high importance were placed into a type of life pod for safe keeping. The military had been using them for years on war ships.
“I’m sending them now.” Sloan turned to one of the privates who was with him. “Get these to Safe Lock and report to me when these items are securely packaged.”
“Yes sir”, replied the private.
Ground units were in place within the troop movement corridors. The science deck was locked down. Security was monitoring the advancing force headed for a not so welcome reception.
“They’ll be on your position in about fifteen seconds.” Security was relaying what they saw on camera. “Ten seconds… five seconds… four,” Everyone took a deep breath. “Three…, two…, one…, Fire.”
Marko’s men were taken completely by surprise. Wall charges detonated, knocking the force to the floor. Those closest to the blasts were either dead or unconscious. Those near the middle were down and disoriented. For a moment it was mass confusion.
Teller troops quickly moved from their hidden corridors out into the open, weapons firing rapidly. Those of Marko’s men who could, returned fire. Both sides were shooting.
Brimley could tell the fighting was close. They were huddled down behind the control console. Zee had tears trickling down his face.
“It’s okay Zee. No one can get in here. And besides, your dad’s put a lot of troops between us and the bad guys.”
There was a sniffle, “I know we’re okay. I was thinking about my dad. Is he out there fighting?” Zee was troubled by the thought.
“You’re dad’s fine too. He’s still in his office on the other side of the station.”
Zee was clearly relieved.
Brimley started to smile, “And even if he was out there, I know something about your dad that you probably don’t know.”
“What’s that?” Zee was intently focused on Brimley.
“You’re dad’s a fierce fighter. I’ve seen him take on guys twice his size and win.”
Zee was thinking about that for a moment. “My dad can fight?”
Now Brimley was laughing. “Oh yes, your dad can fight!”
There was a loud muffled explosion. The room seemed to shake.
Brimley continued with what he and Zee had been discussing, “Your dad saved my life one time, when you were just a baby. I guess that’s a side of him you wouldn’t know. And you never should have to. But yes, everyone in the military is trained to fight. If you become a soldier one day, you’ll learn to fight too.”
“I hope so”, replied Zee. “I just hope I’m not too afraid.”
“Everyone’s afraid.” Brimley looked Zee in the eyes. “I get scared too sometimes and your dad’s told me he’s sometimes afraid. It’s what you do with the fear that’s important. We choose to rise above it and perform our duties. Because we love our families and friends and fight to protect them.”
Again Brimley could see Zee was thinking about something. “I just hope I never have to save your life like my dad did. I wouldn’t wanna lose you.”
Brimley started to tear up, touched by Zee’s thoughts for him, “Although,” he said, “if you saved my life, then you wouldn’t lose me. Since I wouldn’t be dead. Right?”
Zee smiled at the revelation, “Yeah, you’re right!”
Brimley was laughing again. “Let’s make a deal. Hopefully I never have to, but, if need be, I’ll save your life. And if you ever have to, but hopefully not, you save my life too. If necessary! Do we have a deal?”
“Deal!” Zee put out his hand.
They shook on it.
The sound of battle was deafening, and now smoke began to fill the halls, obstructing everyone’s view. This provided some cover for those of Marko’s men who could retreat.
Station security was trying to get an eye on everything but the smoke was blinding their cameras. They could see Sloan and his men advancing from the rear, having just left the maintenance closet. They relayed information to him, about where enemy forces were located they could see.
Sloan and his men took position in the north hall troop corridors about a minute ahead of the retreating invaders. His earlier assembled team was there waiting and prepared to manually detonate their payload.
Private Moore had just arrived to Teller Station three months earlier. He’d been in the army for two years, but today was his first actual combat. He held the detonation trigger to the wall charges and was positioned where he could see into the North hallway.
The retreating forces rounded the corner. He panicked, triggering the detonation too soon. The invaders were knocked to the ground but not incapacitated. They were still able to fight.
Sloan gave the order and his troops moved into the open. Marko’s men opened fire killing many. Moore was one of those quickly cut down, an EPW beam hitting him square in the chest. He was dead before he hit the floor.
A fierce battle ensued, turning at times into hand to hand combat. Marko’s men were driving back Sloan and his small contingency, pushing them past the closet and towards the construction zone.
The last of the invaders made it to the beacons, only to find them gone and their retreat completely cutoff. Now they were stuck in the cluttered room. Sloan pressed his attack, focusing his team’s fire power on the door way of the closet. Eventually everyone inside was killed.
Marko lay on the floor, a dead body on top of him. He’d been caught in the first blast of wall charges and knocked out. This actually saved his life.
Teller troops ran by him as they pressed their defense, driving his men back towards the closet. Now he was awake and lifting himself off the floor.
Two others, who had gained consciousness just before him, were at his side helping him to his feet. The bodies of troops from both sides were spread around the hall.
They could hear the fighting taking place in the direction of the beacons. The sounds of their troop’s weapons, easily recognizable, were diminishing. Marko sensed his forces were on the verge of defeat. He motioned to the others to follow him away from the fighting.
Finding a side room open, they entered taking cover out of sight. Marko began removing items from his pack and assembling them into a detonation switch.
“Are you gonna blow it Captain?” One of the men asked.
“We can’t let them find the beacons or get into Edok. I have no choice.” answered Marko.
Neither man objected, though they knew this meant they’d never be going home again. The portal would be destroyed. Bravely they took up position close to the door to defend it and give Marko as much time as possible.
Moments later, Marko held up the completed switch. By now the gunfire had stopped. There was only silence.
Each man looked at the other. “It’s over Captain. The fighting’s stopped.”
Marko hoped the reconnaissance team had set detonators. He pushed the button.
An explosion shook the entire station, blasting through three decks. All over Teller, people were knocked to the floor.
Admiral Tucker picked himself up. He was looking out the bubble down the length of the station. Debris flung into space in several directions. Bringing up the schematics chart on the monitors, he could see that shields were down in multiple shuttle bays, including the bay of the science deck.
The explosion had jarred open the door to the control room, leaving Brimley and Zee exposed to the fighting in the halls outside. Brimley looked up to the control room window and out into the bay.
Shields were down, the bay in shambles from the suction created when it failed. Fifty plus men and women who were working there moments earlier, were dead. Many of them Zee had just met.
Movement caught Brimley’s eye. The control room window was cracked and the break, slowly expanding. It represented the last two inches of barrier to the deadly space atmosphere. Powerful suction would impose itself upon him and Zee when it finally broke. There wasn’t much time.
Running to a closet, Brimley pulled out space suits and gravity boots. “Hurry Zee, get into these.”
Brimley helped Zee suit up. Working fast, He fastened Zee with a harness and tied him off with locking straps into the wall mounts. These were used to tie down loose furniture and objects when anti-gravity and decompression drills took place. Satisfied Zee was set, he then did the same for himself.
He had just clamped a cable to his harness and tied it off to a wall mount, when he looked up to see an enemy soldier entering the room. He raised his EPW and fired, killing the soldier instantly.
A second soldier entered the room. Again Brimley fired.
Marko saw his men go down in the doorway ahead of him. Pulling his weapon from his side holster, he ran towards it, rapidly firing into the room where the door lead. The blasts narrowly missed Brimley striking the wall just feet behind him. Their concussion knocked him forwards to the floor.
Entering, Marko saw Zee and started towards him. He was distracted by Brimley jumping up from behind a control console and screaming. Marko turned and fired at him, missing.
Brimley had his gun quickly aimed, but couldn’t shoot. The soldier before him already had Zee in a hold. There was too much chance of hitting the boy.
Marko made his way back towards the open door, pulling Zee along, but the cable that Brimley used to tie Zee down, reached its full length. Marko couldn’t drag him any further. For a moment he looked to see what was hindering their movement. It was a distraction Brimley needed.
Turning towards the shuttle bay, he fired rapidly into the cracking window. It gave way and a great suction exerted force on everything not tied down. It happened so fast, Marko didn’t have time to react.
He was sucked into the launch bay and off the station. Brimley and Zee were caught in the suction as well, but their harnesses held them in place, tied to the wall until the pressure equalized and they dropped to the floor.
Zee was crying. Brimley untied himself and moved to his side.
“You’re okay Zee! You did great!” Zee grabbed him around the waist.
Brimley put out his arm, trying to offer comfort as best he could. “I need you to stay strong for a little while longer Zee. We’re not done yet. Can you do that for me?”
Zee nodded yes, through tears behind his space mask.