19 | NUKE’EM
TCD AUSTIN | 0800 HOURS ZULU
The Falcon touched down on the flight deck of the TCD Austin without issue and the pilot began the shutdown checklist by opening the loading ramp for the tired marines to exit.
Gordon gave a sigh of relief as he saw the welcome interior of the TCD Austin.
“Good to be back on board.” Karzarian said.
“You’re right on that one.” Gordon said, “Get the men to stow their gear and then herd them over to the medbay. I want to make sure there are not any hitchhiking genes in any of my men.”
“I’ll take care of it.” Karzarian said, “What about you?”
“I need to talk to the skipper. I’ll join you as soon as I’m done.” Gordon said and patted Karzarian’s shoulder before standing hand walking down the ramp onto the flight deck.
He made his way down to the weapons locker and checked in his R-92 carbine and his G-10 sidearm to the logistics marine and gave his retinal id to sign them back in. Gordon then made his way to the lift and pressed the button for the bridge.
Ships had come a long way since the 20th century on earth. Ships of those days were built for the seas and due to limited technology and tradition, normally had the bridge at the top of the ship were the sailors could have a clear view of the rolling seas around them. It did make them somewhat of an easy target for incoming fire, but the navy loved its tradition and kept this design up until they began building warships for outer space.
At first, the navy built their ships like they did planet side, with the bridge on the top deck with a fantastic view of the cast reaches of outer space. When humans had discovered aether travel, the cosmic radiation that came with aether jumps made top side bridges unsafe and in addition, the blinding white light the surrounded the ship during a jump could leave a sailor permanently blind. The engineers and the scientists finally got their way after a frigate was lost with all hands from a bad jump that blinded the pilot and ended up driving the ship into a sun.
The primary bridge on modern warships were at the heart of the ship, buried deep behind layers of starium plating. It was an efficient design and once the navy finally adjusted to the change in tradition, took the change to heart.
The lift took Gordon up three decks to B deck and swooshed open. The bridge deck was configured in a circle with secondary rooms surrounding the primary bridge. He was just happy to be back in a place where everything was working again.
Gordon made his way off the lift and walked down the curved hall and into the bridge of the TCD Austin. The bridge was a circular room with command consoles arranged in a circular pattern around the primary battle board at the center of the room. The battle board was a massive holoprojector designed to give a skipper a 3D view of the surrounding area so a captain could plan and coordinate ships during a battle. Currently on the battle board, he saw a blue image of the TCD Austin at the center and a 3d model of Mendel station of to the right.
Captain Thomas McAdams was standing next to the battle board with his XO, Commander William Roman next to him. The two were talking quietly as they motioned to the images on the battle board as Gordon walked up, snapped to attention, and saluted.
McAdams saw the motion from the corner of his eye and turned around, returned the salute before dropping it, and held out his hand, “Glad to have you back Gordon.” he said.
Gordon took the hand and shook it firmly, “Thank you sir.”
“I’m sorry about that problem with the transport.” he said apologetically.
“You got there just in time skipper. I’ll call it a win if you do.” Gordon replied.
“Sounds good to me.” McAdams nodded and then motioned to the battle board, “Well Top, what is the sit rep with that station? You mentioned something about hostiles, but I never got a full explanation on what the hell was going on over there.”
“In a word, hell.” Gordon said and stepped up to the battle board and put his hands to the edge. His fingers twitched a bit from the stress of the mission, which he tried to hide by taking a tight grip.
“I can have a security team suited up to go back in there to retrieve your men.” McAdams said.
Gordon shook his head, “No, that would be a death wish and there isn’t enough time left to fight those mutated freaks and the two talishar that are still on station before the reactor blows.”
McAdams nodded slowly and sighed, “I had to offer, I don’t like to leave men behind.”
“Me neither, but we don’t have a choice. No one else needs to die today; there is already too much blood on my hand already.” Gordon said.
“Fair enough. We will get you boys back to Gateway station so you can debrief.” McAdams said.
“Actually, I do have one request,” Gordon said, looking up from the board to McAdams, “I want you to destroy the station.”
“I’m sorry?” McAdams asked confused.
“Blow it to atoms. You weren’t there Tom, if just one of things manages to get off station, it would be a disaster. Did you look at the data I had you download?” Gordon asked.
Thomas shook his head, “No, I had it stored and encrypted.”
“They were genetically altering humans with talishar DNA Tom. Super humans with superior strength, agility, and endurance. At least, that is what was supposed to happen.” Gordon said.
Thomas whistled softly, “Hydra was playing God and it backfired?”
Gordon nodded. “Something like that. Somehow the talishar genes overrode the…the soul of the human test subjects and turned them into something else. Something evil.”
“Demons.” Roman said.
“Anathema.” McAdams added.
“Tom, we can’t let those things get out.” Gordon pleaded.
Thomas frowned and looked to the battle board, “You said yourself that the reactor is going to go critical. We might have to do anything at all.”
“You said something was trying to send out a transmission right? What if they fix the reactor too? What if you didn’t cut off the transmission in time and what if whatever was on the other side of that call was listening and comes here to investigate?” Gordon said.
“That’s a lot of ifs Gordon.” Thomas said.
“Dammit Tom, they can’t get away with this. My men can’t have died for nothing!” Gordon said.
Thomas frowned and then looked over his shoulder to a brunette ensign that was operating a console, “Ensign Wright, what is the status of the station and the reactor core?”
“Reactor core build is rising at five percent every hour. Overload will occur in approximately twenty hours.” she reported a moment later.
Thomas tapped the battle board with his fingers as he thought over the situation. “XO, recommendations?”
“Our orders are to keep corporate property intact sir.” Roman replied.
“But, the devil has brought demons into our space sir. He has tested our resolve and we have survived. It is our duty as children of God to punish the wicked.” Roman added.
“They will go after us for this Tony.” Thomas said quietly as he looked to the marine. He looked tired beneath the blood and dirt that covered his face.
“They can burn in hell with those monsters for all I care.” Gordon replied.
Thomas nodded firmly and then picked up the red command communicator from the battle board and turned it on, “Radar, Con. Get me a range on Mendel station.”
“Con, Radar. 20 klicks, bearing 154 mark 232 by 36 z axis.” the sailor reported.
“XO, make your bearing 154 mark 232 by 36 z axis.” Thomas said firmly.
“Helm,” Roman said, “Bearing 154 mark 232 by 36 z axis.”
“Aye aye Sir.” the pilot confirmed and punched in the coordinates into the ship’s computer.
The three at the battle board watched the 3D image of the Austin turn its bow to face the station.
Thomas then clicked on his command comm again. “Weapons, Con. Get me a firing solution for the P-52s.”
The P-52 was a state of the art particle beam accelerator used in most warships of the navy and was the primary beam battery on Confed Mars class destroyers such as the TCD Austin. The four accelerators were mounted on the bow of the ship and could generate enough kinetic energy from charged photons to superheat one inch thick starium hull plating in under five seconds.
“Con, Weapons. Firing solution loaded.” a sailor reported over the comm.
Thomas looked at the battle board as a stream of data began scrolling on the side of the board. He studied it for a moment before speaking, “XO, bring us within eight.”
“Eight. Copy.” Roman repeated as he also studied the board, “Helm, one quarter impulse for twelve and then on the rear for twelve.”
“Aye aye sir.” the pilot responded and plotted the course into the helm control.
Gordon didn’t know a lot about space travel, but he knew enough to have a general understanding of how things works having spent so much time on various ships as his men were taxied from one end of the galaxy to the other. Then general physics of space travel meant that once an object was in motion, it stayed in motion indefinitely as there was no resistance. When a ship went into motion, they had to apply a reverse thrust in order to slow down. During noncombat situations, skippers usually stayed within regs and decelerated for the same amount of time they accelerated. This kept the g-force on the ship to a minimum and put less stress on the hull and engines.
The massive quantum fusion engines of the TCD Austin flared as the ship climbed its way up to one quarter of impulse speed for twelve seconds before cutting off. The forward thrusters then kicked and sent a small ripple through the ship as they began to slow down.
Gordon watched the Captain and the XO as they were not fazed by the back and forth motion of moving a 90,000 ton destroyer through space. Just thinking about all the possibilities that went with navigating a ship just made his head hurt.
“Captain, she has come to a stop.” Roman said as she watched the progress on the battle board.
McAdams turns on his comm unit, “Weapons, Con. Charge batteries one thru four.”
“Con, Weapons. Charging batteries one thru four.” the weapons officer said from the other end.
Thomas then looked over to Gordon, “If you want to change your mind, now is the time.”
Gordon shook his head, “No, I’m sure.” he said.
Thomas nodded and then looked to Roman who nodded as well. The captain then clicked on his comm unit, “Weapons, Con. Fire.”
Gordon watched the battle board as 3D model of Mendel Station began to break up into pieces. Within a few moments, the model winked off the board.
“Radar, Con. Confirm target kill.” Thomas said.
“Con, Radar. Mendel station has fallen off my scope.” the ensign reported.
“Bring up a visual on the board ensign.” Thomas said.
The base of the table switched over from technical readouts to a high resolution image showing the wreckage of what was left of Mendel Station.
“No need to worry about them anymore Gordon.” Thomas said.
Gordon nodded slowly and finally released his grip on the edge of the battle board. “Goodbye.” he said quietly to the marines he was forced to leave behind.