Here is the third installment. Please read the first two chapters before this one if you haven't already. This story continues the school year story "The Children of Perikoi" that many of you did when here on field trips. Let me know what you think.
McAuliffe Station. Earth Orbit
“Please come in and sit down,” Admiral Meredith said as he led his command officers into the McAuliffe Station’s Briefing Room. Admiral Mark Daymont was waiting in the room, studying the holographs on the wall. He arrived at the Station two hours earlier on his way home for the holidays from Magellan Station. Behind Admiral Meredith were the Captains of the Lexington and Omar Bradley. Captain Young walked into the room with Admiral Williamson. The last to enter were the Captains of station's training ships; Megan Warner of the Phoenix, Emily Perry of the Odyssey and Stacy Carol of the Galileo. They each found a seat at the large rectangular table in the center of the room.
The Briefing Room of the station was located directly off the Command Deck. Along one wall were holographic pictures of military ships dating back 500 years. Large windows occupied the entire opposite wall. The vivid blues,whites and browns of Earth filled the first three windows. The other two showed the stark blackness of space dotted with diamond stars.
“Lights half,” Meredith said. The lights in the room dimmed to half brightness
“Thank you all for coming.” Meredith said as he sat at the head of the table. “You realize our situation. Farpoint Station was attacked. A surprise attack. News is coming in on the military net but very spotty at best. This is what we know. Multiple alien ships arrived through wormholes. The station had no warning. The radio traffic received over subspace was primarily battle updates. Twelve minutes into the attack the radio went silent. We assume the station is destroyed.”
Meredith pushed a button on the computer screen embedded into the table’s surface near his chair. A holographic view ring rose from the table top to a height of three inches. Hundreds of pinpoint lights appeared, emitting millions of colors around the circle. A ring of color rose slowly to the ceiling. A moment later the color condensed into a sharply focused picture of one of the attacking ships.
“This is a picture of what is believed to be the command ship. I want you to compare this ship to the one I’m about to bring up,” Meredith pushed another button. The color’s changed bringing another ship into view.
“This is a picture sent to us by the Starship Voyager. Do you recognize it Captain Young?” Meredith turned to Capt. Young of the Voyager.
“I do. It is the alien ship we engaged at Perikoi,” Brady looked surprised and concerned. The Voyager’s encounter nearly proved fatal had it not been the courageous actions of the crew of the Copernicus.
“Yes it is,” the Admiral said. “I’ve reread the report you filed. We all know the general story. Perikoi is a planet inhabited by a primitive race of humanoids. The gods they worshiped were alien life calling themselves Hellos. These false gods visited the planet every twelve years to kidnap hundreds if not thousands of children. The children were enslaved. You and the Hellos had a run in. The USS Copernicus was lost. You barely escaped with your lives. And if I’m not mistaken, the large alien ship was destroyed when the Copernicus exploded. Is there anything else you’d like to add?” Meredith looked at Brady. There was a pause while Brady reviewed all the omitted facts.
“No Sir,” Brady responded. “You covered it very well.”
“Their weapons were superior?”
“Yes Sir, very much so.”
“Thank you,” Meredith ended the conversation and turned to the company assembled. “You’ll see from this hologram that the ship destroyed at Perikoi is the same design and size as the ship that led the attack at Farpoint. They have superior weapons. They can travel through wormholes. A science we are decades from achieving. We haven’t a clue how this is done or where they get the power to open and maintain a wormhole. You realize the danger to the Federation. An attack could come without warning. That is why this station, along with all other stations, are at red alert.”
Meredith rose from his seat, turned and walked toward the windows. His hands were clasped behind his back. Worry was etched across his face as he looked down at the beautifully peaceful planet rotating below. "What did you unleash upon us at Perikoi?" He glanced at Captain Young from the corner of his eye. He held his hand up to silence a response.
“Lights full,” he said softly. The room brightened. He returned to his seat and looked at each member of his staff. “I’m not a politician so I won’t comment on the justification of the attack. I'm sure you understand their point of view. We were in their space. We interfered in their governing of Perikoi and we destroyed one of their ships. They see this as just retribution, which makes the fighting very personal. I don't fault your actions Captain Young. You were defending your ship. I only wish the outcome would have been less severe.”
Meredith rose from his seat. “We must be ready for war. We are going to institute the following actions, first.....”
An alarm sounded from the wall speakers bringing the station to battle readiness. The Admiral in mid sentence. His heart raced with a sudden rush of adrenaline. He touched his comm badge. “Command,” he said to the automatic switchboard in an unsteady voice.
“Command,” a small voice was heard.
“This is Meredith.”
“We are picking up odd energy patterns in multiple places around Earth,” the voice answered.
“Wormholes?” Meredith asked. He knew the answer before he asked the question.
“Thank you,” Meredith said touching the badge to close the link. He stared into the dark. Despair seemed written across his face.
“My God,” he said looking into the faces of those present. “Our fleet is still hours away. I believe they attacked Farpoint to learn about our defenses and our weaknesses. This attack will be their decisive blow.”
For a moment time seemed to stand still. Every eye was focused on the Admiral. Every ear waited for his orders. He ran both hands through his gray hair, down his face and under his chin. He looked out the windows. “It has begun. Day is turning to night. Look.”
Everyone in the room stood quickly and moved to the windows. Dozens of pinwheel lights were forming. Some were closer to the station while others far away.
“Something is coming toward us,” Stacy shouted as she backed quickly away from the window. Out in the darkness appeared several lengthening lines of glowing orange plasma exiting the nearest wormholes. Soon every wormhole in view was shedding the same orange arcing light trails. Each line trailed what appeared to be a missile. Several were streaking toward the station.
“Full Shields!” Meredith shouted into his comm badge. The station’s shield generators came on line instantaneously. Metal shielding slowly descended over the windows hiding the missiles from view. “Gibbons and Andrews to your ships and launch at once, defend the station. Go Go,” he said to the captain’s of the Lexington and Omar Bradly. They were up and out of their seats before he finished the sentence. “Williamson, get your cadets into the Voyager. We can’t use the transporters with full shields. Perry and Carroll take your ships into the Voyager’s shuttle bay. Warner, launch the Phoenix. Brady prepare the Voyager for launch. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor . One more ship won’t make a difference. I’m thinking of the safety of the cadets. Captain Young, launch and warp to the Magellan Station. Take Admiral Daymont with you. Move!” he shouted. Everyone ran from the room leaving Admiral Meredith alone, a commander at the wheel of a floundering ship. The party crossed the Command Deck and into the turbolifts.
“Deck 12,” Williamson said as the turbolift doors closed. The lift began moving. Williamson tapped his comm badge. “Command Training,” Williamson said.
“Clegg here,” came the worried voice of Aleta Clegg.
“We are on our way to you. Where is Lorraine,” Williamson asked.
“She and Shelia are helping the cadets get packed,” Aleta said. “This is bad isn’t it?” The sound of the station’s weapons was heard over the humming of the lift.
“Yes,” Williamson said. “Get the cadets to the Voyager at once. They take only what they can carry. No more packing. Hurry.... we are under attack.”
“Why don’t we beam the cadets to Earth. Won’t they be safer there?”
“The shields are up. The Voyager is the only thing we can do. We have orders to report to Magellan Station.”
“Yes Sir,” Aleta said. "Will you be joining th........"
There was an explosion. The Command Deck took a direct hit. It sounded like the outer hull of the station twisted and folded upon impact. The lift shook violently and stopped. The lights failed momentarily.
“Come on Come on,” Brady shouted as he pounded the wall. He felt moisture near his mouth. His nose was bleeding. “We've have to launch," he said looking for something to stop the flow.
“What happened to the shields?” Emily asked picking herself up off the floor. “They couldn’t fail so quickly.” There was another explosion. The sound was further away. The lift rocked again. Whatever was holding it in place dislodged. It resumed its course. The deck numbers changed. The lift seemed to be running slower.
The screen above their heads flashed ‘12’. The lift doors partially opened. Smoke from multiple electrical fires filled the lift. Williamson and Brady moved toward the blocked doors. Each took a door and pushed. The doors parted with a grind. Deck 12 was littered with debris and full of smoke. The lights seemed unsure whether to stay on or off. Sparks from exposed wiring flashed up and down the corridor like fireworks on the fourth of July.
“Go Go Go,” Brady shouted. Everyone ran from the lift coughing from the fumes. Another massive explosion rocked the station. The floor fell six inches beneath them. They struggled to regain their footing. They had to get to the Voyager. Hopefully the cadets would be waiting. The station was running out of time.