Link: Episode 1
0356UST 23.3.2758 Paakari Mine Platform – Tau Ceti System
The sudden change of momentum from the mine elevator always turned Tanners stomach. Centuries ago he would be riding a much slower version from the bowels of the earth covered in a thick layer of dust with a festering case of black lung. In retrospect the momentary discomfort from deceleration did not seem that bad. Most of the other fifty or so passengers had already unharnessed themselves from their seats and were mingling by the door. Tanner reached into his pocket and unfolded his QNP (Quantum Network Paper) and with a flick of his wrist all of the creases disappeared as the QNP became as ridged as steel. As the hatch opened it became apparent that most of the first shift mine technicians decided to break for meal early as a dozen more pods stopped gracefully at the elevator terminal. Looking down Tanner could see the long carbon fiber cables, stretched taught by force of gravity and the stations geostationary orbit to the planet below. On the surface complex his two robotic mining rigs should be on their second turn of their planned route. As Tanner pulled out the QNP again to double-check his calculations he ran into someone, almost losing his rebreather helmet hooked to his belt. A short pixie cut blonde stood in his way.
“Did you see the mineral purity report I sent you”, said a familiar voice thick with the accent of her mother region. “There were some very interesting uranium isotopes on your last pass.”
Tanner regained his composure, “Uh, that last pass was only…”, he checked the QNP, “It completed just three minutes ago. I haven’t even had time to grab lunch yet.”
Tanner pushed past her and made his way to the cafeteria line.
Verusha Kozlov followed with a bemused look on her face. “As mine technician is it not your responsibility to monitor the reports from your sector geologist at all times?”
Tanner knew what this was. Although only three years older than him at 21 she did technically hold superiority over him. But to everyone on shift it was clear what was going on between them. They never saw each other outside the weekend trysts besides between shift change and meals. The whole situation, not without its bonuses, made Tanner nervous.
They took seats in a secluded corner of the cafeteria. Looking past Verusha Tanner could see the curvature of the planet Paakrai and the stars beyond through the ferro-glass.
“You haven’t answered my question”, Verusha now holding a suggestive look in her eye. She was teasing him.
“This has to stop.”
Verusha’s expression changed to something resembling panic. Beyond the glass a meteor vaporized on the shield protecting the platform.
“We have too much to lose from this. People are talking.” Tanner mustered the most serious look he could.
Before Verusha could reply the shield flared again much brighter and the ferro-glass behind her shattered and exploded into thousands of shards. The pressure from the explosion and outrush of air into the vacuum of space caused Tanners eardrums to burst. Tanner held on to the bulkhead as other diners and anything not secured was flushed into the upper atmosphere of Paakari. Deaf and half blind from Verusha’s blood and ferro-glass shards Tanner was able to muscle is way up the bulkhead and secure his helmet. He buried his head in his lap and screamed as the world exploded around him.
0402UST 23.3.2758 EDSS Beijing – Orbit of Eden
“Captain, we have a priority signal from Paakari Station”
“A shipping accident?”
“No they are reporting that…they are under attack sir”
The words took seconds to register. Captain Shahjahan Ardeshir Attar shot up from his bunk and began dressing himself, the new Captain eagles resting heavily on his shoulders. The youngest in the fleet at 28 he was well aware of the burden of command. He made his way swiftly to the bridge, not pausing to return salutes. It had been over one-hundred years since the last separatist attack in the Tau Ceti system, why would anyone choose to attack now? As entered all eyes were on him.
“Commander Johnson, report”
“We received a transmission from Yukiko Kurosawa, the Paakari Station executive administrator, audio only”
Cmdr. Johnson keyed the terminal and the speakers came to life. The message was warped and full of static indicative of high energy discharges in the immediate area of the transmitter.
“…tiple hull breaches…d the s…cables have been cut…sistance…unknown! Send any EDF vess…now!”
Cpt Attar shot Cmdr. Johnson and uncharacteristically concerned look.
“Signal any other ships in the system, tell them to prepare a FTL jump on our mark”
“Sound general quarters, spin up the primary FTL drive and plot a jump within 10k from the station, positive horizon. Transmit this to the other ships in the system. Who else is out there with us?”
Lt. Davis spoke as the general quarters alarm sounded” The Falcon, the Hawk, and the Dealey”
Dealey, Attar thought to himself, that’s Kangjon’s float. Shes aggressive we will need that.
Lt. Davis looked up from his console, “All station’s report ready, maxos guns report loaded and charged.”
At that instant the FTL AI announced that the calculations were complete.
“Commence FTL jump”
The hull of the ship seemed to bend in front of Attars’ eyes and, due to the strange effect of warp space, a ghost image of the Paakari Station already showed through the plated ferro-glass in front of him. As the Beijing returned to normal space it was clear that the station was is tatters. Other ships flashed into existence on the far side of the station. In the center of the screen was a blue grey ship of unknown make, its hull covered in bumps and ridges almost like blisters. It was firing on the station, clouds of ionized gas expanding from the strike points.
“Dealey is moving to engage”, reported Lt. Davis “They are engaging now”
Red bolts streaked from the gun emplacements on the Dealey creating yellow sparks off the alien ships shields. Soon the Falcon and Hawk were joining in the hunt.
“Five seconds until maxos batteries are in range” Davis called out. The time and distance ran down on the CIC’s ferro-glass display. “Engaging”
A small shudder was felt as 8 220mm maxos guns fired on the ship and It’s shields collapsed under the onslaught. It was still dangerous however, the Dealey was taking damage from the weapon system on the aggressor ship; small fires were burning on the hull.
“We are receiving a data stream from the Alien ship. It’s in UIC (Universal Interstellar Code), recording now”
Cpt. Attar turned to his tactical officer, “Are they disengaging?”
“Press the attack”
The Beijing shuddered again as more rounds were fired at the now ablaze alien frigate. Suddenly there was a large explosion amidships of the battered craft and the stern rolled lazily away from the bow.
“Captain the Dealey is reporting that she has taken considerable damage and is requesting assistance, Falcon is inbound to help”
“Sir, the UIC transmission has been compiled. The transmission is of Haakonish origin.”
The CIC was silent.
Cpt. Attar finally spoke, “Alert the marine detachment, Major Willis is to conduct rescue operations on what is left of Paakari Station. Contact task force command on Eden and patch me through to Admiral Mabena, I will take it in my quarters. Commander Johnson you have the bridge.”
Attar left the bridge crew in silence his hands shaking as he walked. He and his crew just lived through a dramatic turn in the history of humanity. Those eagles on his shoulders somehow felt heavier.
< Message edited by CrispMPS -- 3/23/2013 7:44:29 PM >