This is the 4th installment of my new story, An Enemy from the Dark. This story takes place after the mission called "The Children of Perikoi". If you haven't read parts 1 - 3 please do so. You'll find them in the last three weekend postings to this blog.
Pinwheel wormholes continued to open around the McAuliffe Space Station giving birth to alien ships. The larger ships disgorged fleets of small fighters. The smaller ships launched missiles as soon as their launching ports cleared the wormhole’s event horizon. Bright streaks of orange plasma exhaust laced through the dark. A small percentage of the missiles targeted the orbiting station while the majority struck military targets on the planet’s surface. It was a full scale attack of monumental proportions.
Captain Brady Young of the USS Voyager was on Deck 12 of the McAuliffe Station struggling to find an open route to his starship docked in the station’s interior space dock. He had orders to gather the thirty or so remaining cadets from the station’s Command Training Academy and launch from the station, setting course for the Magellan station at Alpha Prime. The orders were direct and simple. Carrying them out was proving to be difficult. The station was under heavy bombardment. What was once the fastest way to space dock was impassable due to fire, debris or hull breeches.
Brady stood in the smoky corridor looking at maps of the station’s interior on a holographic wall screen. Each map stopped long enough for the computer to trace an alternate route to the docking bay - bypassing areas now impassable due to battle damage. The screen froze four maps into the search. A red line pulsated through the diagram showing a maze of still open corridors leading to the bay and his ship. Brady tapped the download button in the corner of the screen. The button pulsed then changed from yellow to green, indicating the information had downloaded into his commbadge’s memory.
Brady turned and touched his comm badge. “Screen,” he shouted over the sound of the collision alarms and distant explosions. Laser lights brightened in the ceiling over head creating a holographic three dimensional computer screen before him. He held out his hand stabbing quickly into the air touching first the recent downloads file then the map he had just downloaded. It appeared. The red directional line pulsed once again, indicating the passageway was still clear.
“Computer, hallway marker directions.” Brady ordered as he broke into a fast run.
Transparent green laser generated holographic arrows appeared in mid air before him. Each arrow disappeared as he ran through it while another appeared further ahead of him. Several times the shaking of the station pulled the floor away, sending the captain either into a wall or down to the floor. Each time he rose and continued through the maze toward his ship.
Thirty cadets ranging in age from twelve to sixteen stood in the station’s inner space dock lounge. Each had a backpack, hastily stuffed with whatever they could grab in the twenty seconds or so they had to pack. Commander’s Houston, Clegg and Powell led them to the lounge before the attack started.
Commander Clegg stood near the large rectangle observation windows watching sparks and debris move across her field of vision. Everyone else sat or stood with eyes fixated on the large wall screen bringing news from Earth. Disturbing images of devastation filled the screen. Cities burned, explosions lit up the night sky on all the planet’s major continents. Surface missiles found their incoming targets creating enormous fireballs in the upper atmosphere. Each defensive hit brought muted cheers from the students. Each surface impact brought silence.
The room shook. The lights went out. A moment later they came back on.
“That was close,” Powell said as she helped two cadets to their feet. “What’s keeping Captain Young?”
“I don’t know but we have a serious problem,” Commander Clegg said while waving everyone to her window. The lounge window framed the faces of 33 people, all looking at the gangplank leading from the docking port to the Starship Voyager’s entry portal. The gangplank was slowly moving up and down. “That motion will rip the gangplank away from either the ship or the station if it isn’t stabilized. If it goes we won’t be boarding the ship. We need to stabilize it. “ Aleta thought for a moment while trying to form a new plan.
“ Quickly, all cadets to the Voyager.” She shouted. “Sheila, you find the Captain and get his orders. Lorraine lead the cadets to the ship. I’m going to stabilize the platform. Let’s Move!”
The cadets picked up their backpacks and rushed through the double sliding doors and down the main ramp leading to the gangplanks. Commander Powell stayed behind working to open a communication link to Captain Young. The group reached the platform. A midshipman stood by the hatch tapping at several controls on the wall.
“Stop!” he shouted to the approaching group. ”This gangplank is not stable. There’s too much movement. I’m trying to stabilize it now.”
Another explosion rocked the station throwing everyone off their feet. Sparks filled the room. The gangplank’s motion became more exaggerated.
“I’ll help you,” Commander Clegg said. “We’ve got to get the cadets into the Voyager.”
The midshipman jumped to his feet and nodded. “Careful,” he said while pointing them through. The cadets started down the long waving connecting tube which joined the Voyager to the McAuliffe Station. It’s constant motion made the gong difficult but they continued ahead, step by step.
“Where’s Lorraine?” Aleta shouted while punching at the stabilizer controls. She looked behind her. Off in the distance she found her kneeling beside an injured cadet. Her hands were bloody. Aleta ran to help turning the stabilizers back to the midshipman.
“She fell and hit her head on this desk,” Lorraine said holding a cloth just above the girl’s right ear.
“There’s nothing we can do now.” Aleta said looking at the gushing wound. We’ll carry her to the Voyager’s sick bay. The station’s will be overwhelmed. We couldn’t get there anyway with all the damage.”
Each women took one of the girl’s arms and pulled her to her feet.
A deafening explosion again took out the lights, sending everyone back to the floor. A moment later half the lights came back on. Power levels were dropping. The air filled with smoke. The station’s fire suppression system was working but the atmospheric filters couldn’t keep up.
“Look,” Lorraine pointed up the ramp toward the Lounge. Commander Powell struggled against two stuck double doors. She was trapped. Aleta jumped to her feet ordering the midshipman to help Lorraine with the cadet while she ran up the ramp to help Sheila.
“Its too late,” the midshipman shouted against the sound of grinding metal. The last explosion tore the gangplank from it’s station moorings. The Voyager’s automatic clamping system detached the clamps from the gangplank’s other end when it sensed the pressure against the ship’s hull increasing past the safe limit. The corridor floated away. The cadets were on their own now. Not even the Captain could get to the ship.
(I've also updated my Cloverdale blog. Enjoy. www.ourcloverdale.blogspot.com)