Admiral Tucker saw the launch bay control room go red on the computer schematics chart. He burst into tears. Zee was dead.
Tucker repeatedly called to Brimley over comm. but there was no answer. After several attempts he called Sloan. Again more silence. Finally a call came through to him, but not from anyone he was wanting to talk to.
“Admiral, this is Kyle in security. There’s been an atmosphere breach on decks forty two, forty three and forty four. Inner shields are activated and holding. Video feeds show fighting has stopped and all hostiles down.”
Tucker pulled himself together. “Thank you Kyle.”
For the first time in his long career, the Admiral didn’t know what to do next. He’d lost troops in battle before but this was different. His son was part of the loss. He wondered how he’d break this terrible news to his wife.
Mustering courage, he called across on comm., “Kyle are you still there?”
“Please contact surface headquarters for me and let them know what’s happened here. I have business I need to take care of. Let them know I’ll contact them as soon as I can.”
“Yes sir, will do”.
Grid units were frantically trying to re-establish connection with beacons and Captain Marko, as the holo-projection had gone down. Santora was back on the scene.
“What’s happening?” he yelled.
“We’ve lost contact with the beacons. Either they’ve been deactivated or destroyed. We can’t re-establish our link.
Santora screamed. Knocking aside the data officer, he took his place at the console instead.
“Quickly, re-scan the image.” He was furious.
Several attempts to scan the picture of the maintenance closet failed. They couldn’t get the projection back. Santora knew the site must have been destroyed.
Field phone in hand, he demanded last known coordinates obtained from the beacons. Quickly the numbers were written down and given to him. Someone answered on the other end.
“I’ve lost my site. Instruct Mirawey to open the bombardments of Narantu and fire net the following coordinates.” Santora read off the plot points. The general put down the phone.
“Pack it up, now,” he ordered.
John Tucker was on his knees, overcome by grief. He almost didn’t hear his name over the comm. He had the phone in hand, trying to call his wife. But somehow, he just couldn’t get himself to enter the last number.
“John, pick up. Are you there?” He recognized Brimley’s voice.
His hands were shaking as he frantically activated comm. Emotions all over the place, he screamed into the mic.
“BRIMLEY, IS THAT YOU?”
“Yes it’s me.”
“Zee’s here. A bit shaken up but fine.”
John pulled the mic from his mouth and let out a howl. Now his tears were from joy. It was a much needed release of emotion.
“I thought you both were dead. The control room schematics went red.” John was still choked up and trying to clear his throat.
Brimley explained all that had happened and how he and Zee had come to be in space suits.
“We’ve been trying to get out of here but all the atmosphere hatches are closed. Can you get shields and atmosphere restored?”
John replied, “The power’s been knocked out in your sector. I don’t think we’ll be able to ventilate for several hours. How much oxygen do you have?”
“It’s not good news.” There was concern in Brimley’s voice. “We have about twenty minutes left.”
There were several seconds of silence.
Brimley spoke. “I may have a way to buy us more time. I can see the science vessels from here. The Einstein and drill ships are very badly damaged but the Mariner looks intact. There’s a lot of debris in the bay, but I think Zee and I can get to her. If she’s okay, we should have several hours or maybe even days of life support.”
“Yes, get Zee on board. Please hurry. I’ll see what I can do here to get shields and life support up on your part of the station.” There was a pause. “And Brimley… Thanks for taking care of Zee.”
“He’s a great kid John. I’ll contact you when we’re on the Mariner.”
Titan station was on high alert and evacuations in full progress. The word was out concerning the earlier attack on Teller. And now an electrical Tsunami of sorts made its way through the Milky Way at an accelerated pace towards the Teller System.
The Saturn outpost had been obliterated by it earlier. If Titan was lucky, Jupiter would serve as a shield from the massive wave which was now just minutes out. Science ships holding station evacuees were moved into position close to Jupiter’s surface. Here they would wait out the storm.
“Are data sensors ready Commander?”
“Yes Captain. We’ll launch them into the wave as it passes by.”
“Very good! Hopefully we can get some readings and figure out what this thing is.”
Turning to the communications console, the Captain activated comm. “Percy, how far out is the tsunami?”
Seconds later Percy responded, “The storm should pass by here in just over four minutes.”
“Let me know when we’re at one minute”, instructed Dority.
Dority clicked off comm. and turned to his flight officer. Before he could speak, space sonar began beeping wildly.
“Captain, we’re picking up a ship at grid coordinates, 5, 9, 0, 4. It appears to be a fleet vessel, M Class.”
“Hail them private.”
“Channel’s open sir.”
“Fleet vessel, this is Captain Dority of Titan station. You are in the path of a deadly electrical storm moving through this sector. Do you copy?”
The radio crackled with interference but not bad enough that the response couldn’t be understood.
“Titan Station, this is the Mars Vessel Reunion. We’re aware of the approaching storm.”
“Reunion, you need to get out of there. It’s moving fast and has already destroyed the Saturn outpost.”
“Yes Captain,” responded Reunion. “We’ve been briefed. We’re going to match vector and velocity with the storm so we can get inside of her and see what we can learn.”
“Understood Reunion. Be careful. The storm will pass over us in just a few minutes. We’re prepared to launch sensors and get some data ourselves. We’ll forward it on to you as soon as we have anything.”
“Roger that Titan. Thank you.”
Percy interrupted, “Captain, we are at one minute and counting.”
“Thank you Percy.”
“Reunion, I must go. We’re under a minute here till impact. Titan out.”
The Captain switched frequencies and addressed the other vessels now huddled up against Jupiter as tight as they could get, “Brace for impact.”
For three minutes, the storm raced past them at lightning speed and was finally heading away. Probes had been launched and now it was a matter of waiting to receive the data readouts.
Just as predicted, Jupiter deflected the wave around Titan Station thus sparing it from the same fate as the Saturn Outpost. Dority had a small crew at sonar monitoring Reunion. Sensor readouts began pouring in, suggesting the Tsunami’s speed to be much faster than they imagined.
“Percy, have medical and rescue teams assembled for immediate action. I want us ready to respond to Reunion if she makes it through this.”
Percy squawked in, still some crackling in the system, “Yes Captain. We’ll have them ready sir.”
On the Reunion, Commander Howells was being relayed data already coming in from Titan sensors.
“Sir. The storm is moving faster than we thought. It looks to be trans-space four.”
Howells was caught by surprise, “Trans-space four. Are you sure?”
“Yes sir. Its speed is confirmed by Titan Station.”
Commander Howells nervously swallowed. TS4 was just a bit faster than his ship could go.
“Navigation,” Howells was concerned. “How soon till the wave reaches our position?”
“In about two minute’s sir.”
There was still time. The Reunion could hit maximum TS in one point two minutes.
“Helm, match storm headings coming to your screen now and get us out of here, full speed ahead.”
Seconds later helm responded, “Coordinates locked in. Engaging engines now.”
Dority’s team was monitoring the wave and the Reunion via the space sonar grid. The storm was approaching her quickly.
“How long till the wave hits them?”
“About fifteen seconds sir.”
Everyone was holding their breath as the wave passed over the Reunion. It took several seconds to completely swallow her, the blip on the screen disappearing from view. A couple minutes felt like hours. But then there was activity. Amazingly, she reappeared.
Dority grabbed the comm. “Reunion? Come in Reunion. This is Captain Dority of Titan Station. Do you read me?”
There was crackled silence. Reunion was not responding. Again Dority called.
“Reunion, are you there? Can you read me? Come in Reunion.”
There was only more silence.
“Percy, we’ve lost contact with Reunion. We see her on screen but have no communications. Deploy search and rescue immediately to the following coordinates.”
Everyone was on high alert because of the attack on Teller Station earlier that morning. It was yet unknown if the storm was coincidence, or a form of secondary attack. For now, it was search and rescue, but they could turn it into a fight if necessary.
“I have a visual on Reunion,” helm turned toward the Commander.
Reunion was adrift in space. Set against her backdrop was the fading blue light of the Tsunami as it raced onward towards its next victim. Electrical interference was still hanging around.
“Helm, decrease speed and bring us alongside.”
Commander Barnslay surveyed the Reunion for visual damage. Everything looked intact.
“Reunion, Come in Reunion. This is Commander Barnslay, Titan Search and Rescue. Do you read me?”
There was still no reply.
“Scan life support and critical systems,” Barnslay ordered.
“Scans show all life support and critical systems to be fully operational and functioning correctly. They should be hearing our hails and responding, sir.”
Barnslay continued to call but was only met with silence.
“Prepare for forced boarding,” the order was given.
The Titan vessel moved into position underneath Reunion. Forced docking was in progress.
It took several minutes to lock ships together and decompress entry chambers. Once LED Go lights displayed green, troops began boarding the drifting ship.
Cautiously moving from room to room, they could find no signs of life. But also, no bodies of any of the Reunion crew. The ship was completely empty of people.
By now, a Mars Search and Rescue vessel had arrived on scene and docked itself with the Titan ship. Soon they were doing their own sweep.
Reunion logs were accessed and scanned but turned up no evidence of what had happened. As a part of protocol, all log files were downloaded and stored for transport back to Mars Station, where they would be more thoroughly examined.
For now, the only usable data collected from the storm was that which came from Titan sensors. The storms trajectory was clearly headed towards the Teller System and Teller Station was the next in its way.
Admiral Tucker received the news. It was estimated that Teller Station would be swept over in just under three hours. Once again, everyone was on high alert and evacuation procedures in full progress.