Saturday, 4 March 2017

Operation Mollusc: The Heikegani Incident (pt I)

9th November 3302: Heikegani System, Bartlett Gateway

The creaking and rattling of the hull plating subsided as the Cobra Mk3 slid back into normal space. The beige planet watched quietly from below, indifferent to the appearance of the new arrival. The comms chatter of local ships burst through the transition bow wave as it dissipated, and the ship pitched gently to align itself, travelling parallel along the full length of the Orbis space station.

"Faulcon DeLacy call sign Charlie Hotel Alpha to station flight control. Requesting approach vector. Enroute from Lagrange point 4 with cargo for NULL command."

Two shuttles dropped away from the busy space around the station, and started their casual de-orbit to the planet below. Almost certainly supplies and repair crews destined for one of the myriad of small mining stations on the planet's surface.

The Cobra cleared the station's spinning habitable ring and slowed to assess the volume of space around the station entrance.

"Maintain holding Commander, landing pad zero-five will soon be available." The stressed voice of flight control continued with something non-committal. "We're running a little busy here at the moment, wait while we clear some traffic."

Nine ships held still around the entrance, quietly waiting their turn, and sitting in the dark eclipse of the planet. A large and lumbering Anaconda, visible only for its engines and thruster glow, was on final approach to the station's entrance. A complex cluster of communication lights winked acknowledgement of the demand for a security scan, and the Anaconda reduced speed in order to comply.

"Beluga Xray Alpha Victor you have NOT been cleared for launch! There is...<static>". The panicked voice of Flight Control was drowned out completely by a haunting sing-song tone that disappeared almost is quickly as it had begun. The voice of station control broke through again momentarily before the alien signal returned with a vengeance, and a deep thrumming combined with rattling purrs overpowered the channel completely.

While the Anaconda's pilot was still distracted by the security protocols, the Beluga star liner emerged from the station and only saw the darkened incoming ship at the last moment. Both ships initiated slow panicked escape turns as collision klaxons screamed, but it was too little and too late. The blue on blue of shields sparked brightly as both ships were shunted violently into the safety grid.

The alien sing-song died away to an eerie silence. Comms chatter resumed moments later, calling frantically for the launch of rescue ships.

Bartlett Gateway was under attack.