There were objects rushing in at the Starfighter Command’s primary facility on a straight course for Terra. The station’s powerful sensors showed them as rocks, with a few metals within that refused to lock on.
Vice Marshal Briggen was in the operations centre.
“Target them with everything, tell the ships around us to get clear.”
The station’s plasma batteries, not used in combat for centuries, opened fire. Streams of energy pulses leaped from the orbital facility and smashed hundreds of rocks out of the sky. But it wasn’t enough. They kept coming, as if from a limitless supply.
Ships tried to get out of the way, but some were smashed apart by the sheer amount of rock. Many of the rocks didn’t break up, simply piling through anything they touched, their solid forms strengthened by whatever metals were in them.
Briggen watched as the HMS Black Down split open where it had been hit amidships, its shields overloaded and its hull penetrated multiple times. The two ends flamed out, power gone, and smashed into other ships too slow to move out of the way.
“Holy gods,” he breathed. The screams of the dying on the Black Down had been playing throughout, the throats of terrified crewmen ripping through the speakers.
“Shields are overloading, Vice Marshal,” an officer called out.
The officer shook his head. “I don’t know, sir. Could be something in the rock, the metals we can’t identify.”
The station was shaking under the impacts now as the shields dropped. Sparks cascaded like waterfalls at the sides of the ops centre, a conduit blew and tore a chunk out of one wall, taking three officers with it.
“Abandon the station. Get to the escape pods and shuttles. Everybody move like you’ve got a purpose.”
Rocks ripped the outer platforms and hangars to shreds, killing thousands and exposing more to space.
Briggen had barely given the order to evacuate when he was thrown backwards with an almighty thunderous roar of rushing wind and screeching and screaming of tearing metal. The ops centre had been exposed, ripped open by a rock the size of a man.
The station commander got a grip on the edge of a console, as the air rushed out of the command centre. He was lifted from the floor, his feet dangling towards the hole. He could see everything going on, but he couldn’t hear anything over the wind; the alert was flashing on the screens, and the lights had turned red, but still no noise.
Even the screams of those unlucky enough to be pulled out into space were silent.
He knew it wouldn’t last.
As soon as he thought that, the doors slammed shut, and he could feel the vibrations of the bolts locking into place to prevent anymore catastrophic air loss for the rest of the station. The wind stopped, and he dropped to the deck with a clatter. The artificial gravity was still working, but now the air was gone, sealed off from the rest of the station.
He had enough time to feel his lungs burning before another rock, about the same size, smashed through the forward windows and ploughed through Briggen and the deck he was lying on.
* * *
Eagle Station broke apart in flames.
One of the main fuel conduits ruptured, and a spark lit it all up, burning off the atmosphere in much of the station, killing the crew. Propellant-fuelled flames licked out into space from the broken sections, parts of it falling away, caught in Terra’s imposing gravity well.
The main section was the last to fall, pounded relentlessly by the rocks as they raced towards the homeworld.
Much of it burned up in the atmosphere, the remains slamming into the Indian Ocean on a spiralling trajectory that would have killed any survivors from the sheer centrifugal force.