So this chapter is going to be uber short, but it's kind of important.

USS Reagan

In his ready room, Admiral Shane watched in silent horror as he played and replayed the final images that had come in from the F-18 before it went down.

There was always a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach when someone under his command died as a direct result of one of his orders. Today he'd sent Kenny Johnson- one of the best pilots after Melody- to see what exactly the Sampson and the vessels near it were dealing with. Shane hadn't known he was sending Johnson into a combat situation. He'd thought it would be a simple reconnoitering... and it was dead and, although rationally Shane knew the unknown enemy had been responsible, in his mind it had in fact been he who had killed Johnson. He thanked his luck stars that it was Melody, She had become like a second daughter to him and even though he blamed himself for Johnson's death he was still happy it wasn't Melody.

And even worse was the matter of Hopper.

For it most definitely was Hopper who had been blown backwards by the energy of that... whatever it was. Even from the height of the F-18 had been flying, taking photos, Shane recognized him. If nothing else, the massive officer nicknamed "Beast" being there had more or less assured Hopper's presence; Beast was big enough to be recognized from orbit. If he was out there, then surly Hopper was commanding the boat, and that had probably been Raikes at the gun. Man down! Those had been the last words the he had heard from Johnson before the pilot's horrified scream and image dissolving into a blast of static.

Sam and Melody are going to kill me...

"Admiral, you were saying...?"

It was thoroughly unprofessional for Shane to let his mind wonder during such a high-level briefing, even if the man he was talking to wasn't in the room. Shane pressed the phone tighter against his ear to focus himself and said, "Sorry, Mr. Secretary. I was just... reviewing the latest Intel."

"So what's the situation there?" came the Secretary of Defense's voice over the phone.

"You saw the video we just transmitted?"

"Yes. Incredible. Horror. That platform is obviously some sort of enemy device. Maybe it's even- and I can't believe I'm saying this, because it sounds like something out of James Bond movie- some manner of weather control machine."

"I share both your opinion and your incredulity, Mr. Secretary. Furthermore, we've lost comm with everyone on the other side of the barrier. We can't get in or out. I've already lost one pilot; I'm not going to lose another, even if we could get someone through. We sent two surveillance sorties up to determine how far it extends."

"It. You mean this water barrier?"

"Yes, Mr. Secretary. We also have a submarine, the Stingray, doing soundings to see how deep it goes as well."

"Well... how large is it?"

According to the Stingray, it goes all the way to the bottom. No way under it. Or through it. Or over it. Or into it."

For a long moment the Secretary of Defense was dead silent on the other end of the line, then very softly, "Holy shit."

"Yeas sir," said Shane, "I think that about sums it up."

So how was this chapter?