|The Right Call
Author: formenthos PM
Furious, Lieutenant Soban nearly smashed through the sliding glass doors into the Bridge. "I have to hear from the 'new' squadron commander that I've been grounded?" - One-shot short story.Rated: Fiction K - English - Sci-Fi - Words: 734 - Published: 12-09-12 - id: 8779543
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Barreling furiously down the corridor, his ears still rang from the battle. Lieutenant Soban turned a corner and nearly smashed the sliding glass doors onto the Bridge. He locked on the shadowy figure in the dark room, faintly lit by a console.
"I have to hear from the 'new' squadron commander that I've been grounded?"
Hunched over a console before the starfield, the old man didn't budge. "What did you expect? You disobeyed orders; put the mission at risk." He continued reviewing the displays.
"We couldn't scratch them! I ordered them to retreat-" The superior didn't seem to care. It made Soban furious. "Did you see how the Khar-Selim was ripped apart?"
The young man clenched his fist. "I wasn't just going to sacrifice my pilots!" This wasn't getting anywhere. He took a deep breath. "I made the right call."
The Admiral grimaced. "You're not the one to judge that."
"This was supposed to be a rendevous, not a hostile engagement! We weren't prepared-"
"Granted, this was unprecedented. But here we are, and I need to know my men are worthy of the uniform-"
Soban felt as if the wind was knocked out of him. "We recovered the Khar-Selim's flight recorder. 'Your' pilots made it back. What more do you want?"
"Attention." A woman's calm, collected voice breached the tension throughout the ship. "Approaching orbital coordinates. Standby to exit hyperspace."
The Admiral rested his eyes, grateful for the reprieve. "Thank you Karen. Once we're in orbit of Kharak, encrypt a message to the Diamid Counsel with our mission report." He whipped around to face the headstrong pilot. "Lieutenant, we're done here." The Admiral's face contorted, "You can take it up with Fleet Command." A blue light filled the room. "I've got real problems that need my attention now-" As the blue glow subsided, a red beam flashed across his eyes; he squinted.
Karen rang out, "Proximity alert! Evasive maneuvers!"
Before the old man could grasp the console behind him for support, his face met deck.
The gravity shift launched Soban forward, but he caught his footing beside the downed elder. "Admiral!" No response. Soban struggled to his feet, and braced against the console. "Karen!" His eyes widened at the viewport. A charred metal hulk narrowly scraped by. "What the..." and then he saw the planet...
"Kharak is burning."
A bright blast illuminated the corner of his vision. Soban wracked his eyes across the window... One, no, two alien craft, floating between the formation of Cryotrays.
"Unidentified contacts... They are firing on the Cryotrays."
"Launch bay is damaged."
Soban froze. His spine, cold as ice.
"Each Cryotray holds one-hundred thousand colonists. They are defenseless."
He glanced down at the old man, still out. Soban's brow grew heavy with sweat. "Karen, the Mothership cannons," he swallowed hard and struggled to find words. "... Precision?"
"The quantum wavestream has not fully dissipated. Target locks will be inaccurate."
'Maybe I'm not fit to lead.' A white blast illuminated the viewport. The aliens were firing at their ship
"Hull plating damage to sections-"
Soban's closed his eyes. "Fire." The bulkheads rumbled. Cannon fire screamed down on the alien ships. Several explosions bloomed like flowers.
"Contacts neutralized." She paused, "But a Cryotray has been lost."
The young man bowed his head. What was this all for? A hand grasped his shoulder.
"You made the right call Lieutenant. Remember that." The Admiral looked aside and took in the stale air. "Karen, report..."
"Kharak's surface is completely burned. The Mothership scaffold is destroyed, and is decaying out of orbit.
The Admiral turned his attention to the console. "There are no distress beacons. No transmissions of any kind."
"Nothing is left. Everything is gone." A tear rolled down Soban's cheek. "We are alone..."
The flag officer corrected him quickly. "We're not alone."
Lieutenant Soban lifted his chin towards the father figure. Their eyes met.
"We collect the cryotrays. Those colonists are all that remain of our people, our way of life..." The Admiral took a deep breath. "We are now Fleet Command... And our mission hasn't changed." He pressed a button on the console, and a map appeared. "We have the Guidestone map, and twenty years of research and construction, all put toward this mission.
In the background, Karen reported in. "The Mothership is standing by."
"Somewhere, out there, is Hiigara. Our home world."