An Encore for Humanity

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Mankind has united and overcome its problems. Global Warming is no more because pollution has been reversed. Science has leapt forward and allowed humans to reach other galaxies, but we are about to come face to face with an enemy of the worst kind. An enemy that will gain ultimate victory, or die trying.

Submitted: May 25, 2016

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Submitted: May 25, 2016

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UNH Space Station - Dry Dock Area, Earth Orbit, May 2121

 

The UNHS Frigate, Firestone, slides slowly into the allocated berth as the ship's commander watches the progress on the various screens in front of her. The damage to the various systems onboard meant that the crew would have a day off as the dry dock's repair crews and machines worked on it. 

Flashes of the battle come once again to the forefront of Commander Rae's thoughts as she replays every moment, every decision. 

Did I do right? How the hell did it go so wrong? 

Fighting for control of her emotions as she remembered the moment the order came through from the admiral of the carrier group.

"Firestone, break away now, go..." choking back her emotions as even the memory of his words were highlighted by the explosions in the background. "You're the only ship left that's fast enough. Warn the UNH."

The frigate turned away, presenting her broadside as an enemy ship broke through the line of cruisers in front, heading right for the Firestone. Rae froze as she watched the enemy weapons powering up, time slowing down as her mouth went dry. 

"Ramming speed!" The radio exploded to life. "... Firestone, make the jump, now!"

The last thing the crew of the Firestone saw as the jump window swallowed them, was the UNHS Carrier Achilles slamming into the enemy hull at top speed, the resulting explosions tearing both of them to shreds.

The hull scraping along the dockside brought the commander abruptly back to the present. Checking the line-up of the ship on the various monitors, she nodded approvingly as, despite everything, the crew were still at the top of their game. 

"Lieutenant Svensson, put me on ship-wide please."

"Done," he replied.

"Attention crew of the Firestone: It will take roughly twenty-four hours to repair all the damage, so I'm told by the automated damage assessment, and I am going to allow you that time as shore leave. You have all been through the wringer, especially over the past week, but I could not be more proud of your performance. I want you to use the time off to contact your families and get some decent food and rest. 

"I am also going to offer the opportunity, to those of you who wish to take it, to be discharged. To this end I will be in my cabin for an hour from now, and for an hour before the end of the leave. There is no shame if you wish to spend however long we have left with your families, you have all served with distinction and I will send you on your way with a handshake, a thank you and a smile. Commander Rae, out."

For the next hour the commander sat in her cabin finishing up reports for the UNH space station's governor, not one crew member came to the door to take up her offer, but, as touched as she was by the loyalty this showed her, her own loyalties couldn't stop Rae wishing they all had. With a sigh, she leaves the ship via the airlock and wanders slowly along the tunnel into the dry dock itself. Before turning away she surveys the rest of the berthed ships undergoing repairs and can't suppress the dread bubbling up inside of her.

Twenty-five ships out of over three hundred. A blanket of impending doom settles over her mood as, with one last look, she turns away and makes her way towards the station itself.

******

United Nations of Humanity, North American Headquarters, May 2121

 

President Maldonado watches intently as the Holographic table in front of him gradually cycles through the last four years of the war, noticing in particular how almost entire fleets disappeared from the display. Four years, he thought, four years to arrive at the brink of oblivion. Disgusted with the grim reality presented by the tactical overview, he walks abruptly away to his desk, waiting for the process to complete. How did it come to this? A hand finds its way to his mouth as he begins to chew his nail.

Today marks the fifth year of his presidency of the United Nations of Humanity. The wave of optimism and fervour which carried him to election victory had long-since dissipated. Such determination and passion replaced by utter despair and grief. Every disappearing dot on the table indicating hundreds of military personnel, every erased icon - a colony of thousands. The president knew his retaliation platform was more than mere rhetoric, he knew full well there would be casualties, but this is nothing short of extermination. 

The first year had gone so well; billions of people working together to take the new space-going fighters, frigates, carriers and destroyers from concept to a startling reality. The magnificence of every launch a testiment to human endeavour that was never lost on their leader. Their new weaponry nothing short of science fiction made real. 

Then the fighting began. 

The first strike was a major success, zero losses and the enemy fleet destroyed to the last. Maldonado felt his entire position on the war had been vindicated and he rode that wave of elation for three days.

Then they hit back. 

A lightning strike at a colony on the edge of the Milky Way. The few reports they had, pieced together from the telemetry of the fleet which had defended the colony, indicated that the entire carrier group had been decimated in minutes, but what he found hardest to swallow was how rail-guns and energy weaponry, the most powerful and advanced they possessed, had barely scratched the enemy's paint job. Bitterness swamped him, so much so that he felt as if he was about to explode.

There was a chime from the direction of his desk, approaching the source he flicks a button to accept the message from his assistant. 

"Mr President, Sir, it's almost time for the video conference."

"Ok, I'm on my way to the communication room, no disturbances until further notice."

Cutting off the connection with another button press, Maldonado turns and pushes his hand against an innocuous part of the wall, a moment later one of the wall panels slides away into a recess, allowing him to walk down the short hallway to the secure communications room, reworking the speech he has to make as he goes.

******

Edinburgh Castle, UNH Army Fortified Anti-Air Position

 

"Private McCusker, you're on watch tonight."

"For fuck's sake. Again?" the soldier mumbles as he stands at attention, cringing as the C.O. turns back - indicating he had heard the complaint.

"Yes, Private, again. Got a problem with it?"

"Oh no, Sir. I love standing guard at dark o clock in negative temperatures."

"Perfect, you'll enjoy the next three nights then, won't you?"

"Wanker..." the private responds under his breath and with feeling.

 

Checking his watch, Private John McCusker rolls from his bunk and walks out of the barracks, displaying as much bad grace as humanly possible by slamming the door and dragging his feet. As soon as he steps out of the shadow of the barracks the wind hits him as it howls through the open castle gate. He crosses the courtyard and climbs the steps up to the main rail-gun battery and taps the awaiting sentry on the shoulder.

"What did ye do this time?" the sentry laughs out as he recognises John.

"Nowt, he's just into me and is pissed am married."

"So's he."

"Yer point? He could just be balls deep in the closet."

The sentry laughs and makes to walk away, his watch finally over.

"I'm going home." McCusker whispers.

"You've said that every time you relieve me. Will you ever just go?"

"I will, soon enough. They have too much to worry about to chase down one man. I just want to be home with the Mrs when the time comes."

"When?"

John shrugs. "Tomorrow, maybe? That ballbag has placed me on watch again."

"If you do, do it in the dead of night. You know he doesn't inspect night watches."

John nods and takes up his position, staring off into the well-lit city centre spread out beneath Castle Rock. Holly's smiling face floats in his mind, just out of reach, her absence leaving a void in him that had gotten larger since he had seen her four months ago. The loneliness making him more miserable than a freezing night-watch ever could.

"Tomorrow, I'm coming home tomorrow. I promise you.

*******

"Ladies and gentlemen of the United Nations. I thank you for taking the time out from your schedules for this important matter." Maldonado pauses a moment as he adjusts his stance before the large screen full of faces. "As you may have noticed, the war is not going well and it is my duty to inform you that the enemy is at the gates. There is nothing more we can do to stop them entering our solar system and attacking us here."

The silence from the faces on the screen is palpable as the president pauses again to order his thoughts.

"There remains very little we can do, I have already recalled every ship we have available, but I feel it may not be enough to reverse the tide of this war. We have only twenty five remaining..." a collective gasp hisses from the council, before grim silence reasserts itself, "...only two of which are capital class ships, the rest are a mix of cruisers, destroyers and frigates. I have called this meeting because we must take the decisions necessary now, so that if the worst-case scenario develops, as I suspect it will, then appropriate action can be taken without delaying for discussions. Here, we come to the reason for this conference... We need to take the vote on whether to initiate the 'Encore' directive."

"Are you sure there are no other options? 'Encore' is a last resort, an extreme one at that." The council member for the United Kingdom interrupts, Maldonado registers the despair contained within the man's voice.

Sighing, he directs his gaze at the position on the screen where the question came from. "Unfortunately, there are no other options left to us, I wish there were, but we must vote on it and I ask you to do so now." Most of the faces nod, and so Maldonado presses a part of the screen in front of him which instructs the system to open the voting options. 

Within a few minutes the votes show a majority in favour of using the directive should the situation call for it and after thanking each of the representatives, the president ends the conference. 

'Encore', he muses, I could almost laugh at the name; if we're forced to use it I very much doubt anyone will be demanding another performance.

******

UNH Space Station, Governor's Office, May 2121

The governor of the latest incarnation of what was once called the International Space Station - Karl Bradbury - leaned against the bulkhead opposite his desk, staring out, literally, into space. Since he had taken over this post, he never failed to recognise what a privilege just being up in orbit was. The vast emptyness of space on one side was a humbling contrast for the fragile and relatively tiny beauty of Earth on the other. It astounded him, every time he had a few moments to spare to consider it. Lately, that had been all too often; his main role was to keep the fleets supplied and moving back and forth all across the Milky Way and beyond as well as co-ordinating relief and support for the far-flung colonies, but as the war progressed his responsibilities had been eroded, bit by bit, until he was left with managing a space force which had become a mere shadow of its former self.

Every fleet lost had stolen a little part of him, they were his responsibility and every single ship, every crew member lost was a personal blow. Worse still, were those colonies, 15 of them full of men, women and children who had braved the perils of space travel to make a home amongst the stars. 

All gone.

No, not gone, killed... by a relentless enemy.

Destroyed.

Devastated.

Decimated.

... and now the enemy was on its way... here. They will arrive in the solar sytem in the next twenty four hours.  

An hour ago he had been in on the video conference between the president and the world representatives as they were told the grim news and made a grimmer-still decision.

'Encore', he thought, so we've finally come to this?

His mood was becoming heavier by the moment. Even with the highly-experimental weaponry they were even-now fitting to the remaining frigates, destroyers and cruisers, they were in trouble. How can we expect these twenty-five ships to succeed where three hundred failed?

This is it. 

The end of the human race, just as we finally get our shit together.

******

Bollocks, fuck, shit... Private McCusker's internal voice continued to swear as he jogged through the area on the outskirts of the city. The streets were empty, but there was an air of misery hanging over the place. People knew what was coming and stayed in at night for fear of panic-fueled riots, everyone had the same idea though, and the riots had not yet materialised. At least not here they hadn't. 

John continued on, pushing himself to keep his pace steadily eating up the miles. 

An hour ago he had finally had it up to the eyeballs with his night watch and made a run for it. All he wanted now was to make it home to his wife, to be with her. 

Most men run from their wives, not to them, added the sarcastic voice in his head, which always seems to sound exactly like his dad, and he laughs as his feet continue to carry him further away from his post. If he can just make it a few miles outside of Edinburgh then he'll be too far for them to bother chasing him, or at least that's how he reasoned it out. The thought he tried to block out again and again keeps sneaking through. Holly is pregnant, and their child would likely never see the light of day. That one thought always threatened to crush him under his own grief. For as long as he can recall he had never been able to comprehend his own death, an instant panic welling up whenever he tried, but now he no longer cared and would trade every last breath he has left to give his child life and save his wife.

The tears made it hard to see despite the streets lights so he clamped down on the wandering thoughts and picked up the pace, aiming to be lost in the West Lothian countryside by the time dawn hit. 

 

The sun started to nudge away the darkness as an exhausted John walked fast along the roadside, at the edge of Edinburgh, he had stumbled upon a bike and borrowed (stole) it. Which allowed him to make great time, right up until he decided it was a fantastic idea to take a set of stairs at top speed. It all went so well for the 3 seconds before he tried to land, then the wheels buckled, the bike stopped abruptly and the saddle attempted to ream him.

It took an hour for the pain to pass, but he kept moving. 

Cars were starting to pass by, silently heading to and from Edinburgh, John found it amazing that some people would want to spend their last days at work instead of home. Told ye, most men run from their wives. 

"You should know you're not helping..." he sits down on the edge of the road. "You could be better put to use finding me a way to get home quicker, but instead you're making jokes an' bein' an all-round git!"

A car scrapes to a stop just to his left. Wandering over to the passenger side he leans down to look in the open window and instantly grimaces, oh fuck.

"Get in!

The driver is John's commanding officer.

Looking for a way out he turns his head left and then right. Panic begins to gain a grip on him.

"McCusker," the C.O. whispers softly, "... just get in before we're both caught."

Wait, what?

He gingerly opens the door and slips in to sit on the empty seat. "Major, you said...'before we're both caught?' Are you running too?"

John sees the man's jaw clenching and then relaxing as the car pulls away from the roadside and begins to pick up speed. "I can only take you as far as the centre. My wife and kids are there..." he shrugs as he seems to run out of words to use in explanation.

"I get ye, I'm goin' to my wife too, that's where I want to be..." John adds to the faltering conversation. 

The awkward silence continues for a few minutes as the car passes through the empty countryside and into empty streets of the small towns and villages in the Eastern Sector of West Lothian.

"You'd think there'd be more panic." 

The C.O. nods and smiles grimly, "I was just thinkin' that. It's eerie, but then what would be the point? If it's the end then it's the end, it's not like we can shout 'run' to escape the danger that's coming, is it?"

"We reversed pollution, united the world over, eradicated poverty, created a society in which everyone's needs are met and crime is virtually non-existent," John cringes as he recalls the stolen and damaged bike, "... it's sod's law that just as we manage all that and more, we're going to be exterminated."

Turning off the road they're on to take the route to the centre of West Lothian, the conversation ceases as they look around the outskirts of the largest town in the area. 

"Roll up the windows." 

They both press the button to close the door windows and look at each other, thinking the same thing, you spoke too soon.

The place was carnage. They passed burnt-out husks of cars and houses. Their own car had to negotiate discarded furniture and smashed appliances. They rounded a blind corner and John's C.O. had to slam on the brakes, the road was blocked.

"Shit, they're bodies." John blurts out as he notices limbs splaying out from the wall in front of him.

The Major throws the car into reverse, a second before a flickering object flew over the barrier, shattering and spreading its flaming contents all over the spot where they had been just a moment before. With a curse or ten, the C.O. spins the car and speeds away from the scene, gunfire erupting behind them. McCusker's heart was thundering and he felt suddenly naked without the weapons he had left back in Edinburgh. 

"That moment when you realise what a colossal fuckwit you are for not bringing a gun."

"Come again? I really didn't think Majors had a sense of humour."

"We do, we just don't share it with the likes of you..." The smile and slight chuckle from the C.O. robs the comment of any malice. 

"Your dash is blinking..." Adds John as he spots a light flashing on the display.

"Answer... Hello?"

John realises the car's communication system had engaged and did his best to switch off to the conversation as a woman's voice chattered away. A few moments later the call ends. 

"Well, looks like I'll be getting you closer to home after all, the wife is at her sister's which is close to you in the West sector." The Major says at last. 

"Thank you, Sir." 

"No, not Sir, call me David, the least we can do is part on first name terms. I think I may have to have a word with the wife about her impeccable timing."

Smiling, John turns to look at David's profile. "Yep, it was really nice of her to warn us of the riots, we could've been shot at... or petrol bombed or something."

The car turned on to the main road heading to the West Sector as fast as the Major could make it go.

******

UNH Space Station - Dry Dock, Earth Orbit

Commander Rae leans back in her chair as she finishes off the supply check, as promised she had arrived on board an hour before the shore leave ended, but so far not one crew member had availed themselves of the offer of discharge. Unable to find any more busy work to do, she stands and leaves her cabin. The door leads directly onto the bridge and she notices the pilots and weapons crew members are already at their stations.

"Lieutenant Svensson, how many are we still waiting for?"

"None Commander, all crew present and accounted for."

Pleased, she turns to weapons control. "Lieutenant Mullen, how much do you know about the new weapons?"

"A bit, ma'am. They're theoretically impressive. Diamond drill-tipped for penetration and through some weird new physics I can barely grasp, they apparently create a vacuum ten times more efficient than that of space and the theory is that this would cause everything in the immediate area to collapse in upon itself."

"Do they work?" Rae asks.

"Not-a-fu... ahem, sorry, no idea Commander. As far as I am aware they haven't yet been tested."

Fantastic, not only do we have a terrifying enemy bearing down on us, but our own scientists are giving us pseudo-science which may very well kill us as well. 

"Are we fully supplied?" The Commander throws out to everyone on the bridge.

"Weapons - check."

"Food - almost, five minutes to replenish supplies."

"What about spare underwear?" The attempt at lightening the mood falls flat on its face as the bridge crew collectively groan.

"Forgive me Commander, but any more jokes like that and we'll hand you to the first alien we see," a young ensign replies and everyone within earshot holds their breath.

Rae can't help but laugh, loudly, before walking over to the sensors board to check the scans and after a few moments everyone else finally exhales.

 

"Yes, Admiral, understood." At a sign from Rae, the comms officer ends the connection with the flagship.

As the ship with the only commander with any actual battle experience, UNHS Firestone was being attached to assist the cruisers as they protected the two remaining carriers. Every ship in the fleet was on the move now, the enemy would arrive within the hour after three contacts were picked up by sensors entering the solar system. 

The fleet was moving to engage, the twenty five ships flying in staggered formation with the Firestone beneath the six cruisers to protect them from being flanked underneath. 

Less than an hour later alarms began to sound. The three large objects picked up by the sensors had used the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter to mask their approach from the fleet. Every ship in the formation adjusted its course to intercept and Rae felt a shiver run down her spine as adrenaline shoved its way through her blood stream in anticipation.

"Sound battlestations!" she ordered without a moment's thought.

"The cruisers are picking up speed, commander." 

"Svensson, match them... Mullen, load all missile tubes with the new weapons, activate all anti-air autotracking systems." 

Her gaze cycled around the different views presented on the large HUD at the front of the bridge on instinct. The three enemy ships came on, seemingly oblivious of the threat bearing down on them.

"Any sign of weapons powering up?"

"None, ma'am, in the enemy's case anyway. The Ares and the Nergal are powering up their main weapons though..."

Nodding slowly, Rae wondered why the enemy always waited so long to engage, in her three previous battles with them they always waited. Then again, if you know you'll win you have the luxury of time, the bitterness she feels is surprising even to Rae herself.

"Commander, we're receiving a burst of static again."

"Strange, have you had a chance to analyse it?"

"There seems to be distinct pattern in the noise, perhaps the computer can do something with it."

"Go ahead, let me know if you get anything."

Just as Rae finishes speaking, the cruisers begin to fire. Their main weapons blasting out a super-heated beam at the three enemies in front. 

In only a few moments the shots hit their targets, but the enemy hulls appear to absorb everything thrown at them. A continuous build up of light shows, even at this distance, on the lead ship and then a long stream emits from the same place, carving the Ares in half as Rae watches on in horror.

"Incoming small craft."

Snapping back to her task, the commander issues orders and waits. 

"Leviathan and Hydra have scrambled fighters to intercept."

A group of the enemy break away, heading straight for the Firestone"Take evasive action... Go weapons-free." 

To Rae, it feels as if the ship shivers in anticipation as the rail-guns begin to fire, the flickers of light and small explosions from direct hits are the only indication of anything going on outside of the ship. The radar section of the HUD indicates smaller contacts arriving from behind as the fighters from the two carriers join the fray. Within a few minutes all the smaller enemy ships are destroyed or running back to the larger ships. A cheer erupts from the bridge crew, but Rae remains silent as she assesses the various screens.

During the skirmish the larger enemy vessels had closed with the cruisers...

... and all three were powering their weapons. 

*****

United Nations of Humanity, North American Headquarters

 

The holotable was refreshing quickly as details of the battle filtered through via the computer link on board the ships. One cruiser was lost in the first exchange and although the dogfight between the UNH fighters and the enemy had gone well, Maldonado knew the larger ships were the real threat and now they had closed within a few hundred miles of the Earth fleet. 

Time to accept the inevitable, the president thinks as he moves to his desk, opening up the secured computer there.

A few taps of the screen connects to the 'Encore' system and he enters the 20 digit passcode, places his thumb into the print scanner which pops open on his left and then stares for a few moments as the computer scans his retina.

"Activate Encore Directive... Are you sure?" the disjointed voice asks.

"Yes."

"Command confirmed. Security credentials - confirmed. Countdown set to twenty minutes..."

President Maldonado sits back feeling utterly dejected as the timer counts down.

20:00

19:59

19:58

...

He watches the seconds tick away. 

******

Three shots from the enemy ships, three more cruisers gone. The battle is fast turning into a massacre as Rae wonders what she can do when the larger ships are being brushed aside as if they weren't even there. For the moment though the Firestone and the other smaller ships are being left alone. 

We're not a threat to them, the thought makes the commander angry at the arrogance of the enemy to dismiss her so lightly. 

"Engage thrusters... full speed ahead." She orders whilst watching the screens as the ship picks up speed with an aching lack of progress. 

14:39

14:38

14:37

Firestone begins to make headway as she passes beneath the remaining beset cruisers and moments later they begin to pass the closest enemy ship. 

Rae holds her breath, just a few moments more, time slows as her frustration builds. Come on, girl, come on. 

"Fire port thrusters, only... Mullen, target their engines with everything..." The ship swings around on its axis, bringing the Firestone's full weapons array to bear. "Fire!"

Plasma balls, missiles and railgun rounds flash across the screen on their way towards the target and Rae prays... The plasma balls and railgun shots appear to be absorbed by the hull, but the 30 missiles strike their target simultaneously, penetrating and disappearing from view. For what seems like an age, nothing happens. 

"Enhance that view," the screen zooms just in time to see the enemy hull begin to buckle and collapse inwards. 

"Holy shit, they work!" Lieutenant Mullen jumps from his seat and punches the air as his commander smiles. 

The enemy ship disappears into oblivion even as the Firestone is moving onto its next target.

"Reload those missiles... Prepare to fire..."

As Rae moves on with the intention of getting a second kill, another frigate has followed her lead and fires its own array of experimental missiles into the rear of the other remaining ship. Less than a minute later the crew are cheering as the third and final enemy ship implodes. 

Breathing heavily with the excitement, the commander looks up again and reviews the various screens in front of her and freezes. During the excitement of the kill she hadn't noticed that all the cruisers had been wiped out, along with one carrier and a dozen destroyers.

Six ships left? Where she had felt elation only moments ago, there now remained only despair, compounded by the fact that the sensors had picked up another three contacts heading right for the scattered and battered fleet.

11:02

11:01

11:00

******

Western Sector, West Lothian, Scotland

 

John jogged raggedly along the street heading away from where the Major had dropped him off. He had never been so tired in his life, barely able to regulate his breathing as he pushed himself to keep going despite the build up of pain in his chest. 

Rounding a familiar corner, he gets a second wind and sprints the rest of the way to his house and the door swings open, having automatically detected his approach. The door whispers closed behind him and he stands in the hallway trying to catch his breath. 

"House," he says addressing the house AI, "... where's Mrs McCusker?"

"How the hell should I know? Do I look like a fuckin' GPS?" the cantankerous AI responds.

"So, you can detect me comin', order shoppin', adjust temperature and all-but clean yourself, but you still cant answer a question without givin' me yer cheek? You're a dick."

"I'll tell her you said that."

"Don't you have to find her to do that? Computer: Override, disengage 'Surly teenage wanker-AI' profile."

"Command not recognised... and by the way... Fuck you!"

Giving up, John wanders into the living room and spots his wife outside in the garden enjoying the early sunshine. He smiles and stops to watch her as she tends to her plants.

04:30

04:29

04:28

"AI, search 'Our Song', please."

"Which one; the one she knows it is or the one you think it is?"

"I hate you. The latter."

"Queued."

"Volume 100%, repeat track. Play."

The song starts and he watches Holly straighten up and look around, the look of lonelines almost destroying him. Within a few strides he is at the patio window and slides it open. Her brow furrows in confusion, but then he sees the beginnings of her beautiful smile and, like the first time he saw it, his stomach flutters, his tongue sticks to the roof of his mouth and he falls for her all over again. 

Moving closer, John takes her in his arms feeling the slight bulge of her stomach against his. They hug intensely and as he pulls back slightly to look into her brown eyes, he notices the dread and fear there.

As the song begins to pick up in tempo he slips his right hand around her waist and lifts her right hand up in his left and he leads her in the dance from their wedding, the only one he had ever learned. The song begins to reach the peak of its build up and his eyes are still locked on hers as they glide around the garden. John spins her as they match the beat before pulling her back in and continuing to dance her around the garden as Holly's cheeks flush with her delight and some of the sadness falls away from her to be replaced by a look of pure joy. 

00:05

00:04

00:03

00:02

00:01

00:00

******

Commander Rae could barely see, she can feel the blood running down her face, but can't remember how it happened. The bridge was a mess of exposed wiring and bodies.

"Report..." she coughs out, hoping someone is still alive.

"We're fucked," replies the familiar and strangely comforting voice of Svensson.

"Commander, the computer has finished the analysis of the static... It's a message." Rae couldn't place the owner of the voice.

"Play it."

The AI, the only thing apparently unaffected by the catastrophic damage to the Firestone, drones the message out and the commander's jaw flaps in despair. Gathering what remains of her wits, she orders someone to send it in a databurst back to the space station, a heartbeat later the bridge decompresses and the ship tears itself apart exposing the crew to the hard vacuum of space.

******

Governor Bradbury watches from his office as Encore's effects ripple across the surface of the Earth, the mushroom clouds from the deliberately-catastrophic overload of the fusion power generators used everywhere were having the desired effect. The directive was created as a last-resort plan to destroy Earth as an alternative to enslavement by an alien race and it was doing exactly that, the seemingly innocuous-looking clouds were vaporising men, women and children everywhere.

"Governor," a message from his assistant breaks through his despair-filled thoughts as he watches the human race all-but destroyed, "we received a databurst from UNH Firestone just before it was destroyed. The message says you really need to hear it, their AI translated a burst of static they had encountered before."

"Play it."

The station's AI takes a few moments to process the request, then in a broken, machine-like voice it passes the message on:

"We... looking for... new home. Why... keep attacking us? Please... let us... to your leaders... No... more... war."

By the time the message ends the governor is on his knees, his crying echoing off the walls around him as he mourns the human race knowing they could have all been saved.

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2017 M K Brown. All rights reserved.

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Book / War and Military

That Bastard Seagull

Short Story / Humor

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