The Fall of Terra #47: Helpless


As the asteroid hit, Scarlett and her crew could only stare.

Somebody wept.

Scarlett herself was shaking with rage, her fists bunched tightly by her side.  The Minotaur was shaking with her, the incredible natural forces released by the rock’s impact translating into space.  Other ships were not so lucky.

The Wellington, Gloucester, and Night Binder were smashed apart like kindling by the sheer destructive force of the concussion wave.  The Zabul was hit and shunted sideways into the ancient Dawlish Orbital Shipyards, the two smashed together and knocked out of orbit.

She noted that dozens of civilian ships were wiped away, their less heavily shielded hulls unable to withstand the horrendous assault.

She felt sick as she thought about the incredible death toll on the surface.

“Commander,” the acting chief engineer whispered in a voice unable to go very loud anymore after too much shouting.  She approached quietly not wanting to draw too much attention to herself.

“Is it as you feared?” asked Scarlett.

The young officer, one of the few Academy-trained engineers to make it out of the engineering deck alive, nodded.  Scarlett had to force herself to remember that both she and the engineer were still, technically, Ensigns.

“Yes, ma’am.  The teleporters are down.  It’ll be at least a couple of days before they’ll be online again.”

“Frag,” cursed Scarlett.  “Alright, keep this ship running as long as you can, Lieutenant.”  She felt suddenly very weary and had to surreptitiously lean on the nearest console.  She worried that maybe she had more of an injury than she had initially thought.

Maybe I’m just exhausted, she reasoned, unable to remember the last time she had slept.

Looking around, the rest of the crew had similar expressions of tiredness and sorrow plastered across their faces.

Oknoff was looking at her, an expectant look on his arrogant face.

“Recall the shuttle, and then break us out of orbit.  Helm, set a course for…” she stopped, and looked over at the newly promoted Lieutenant.  “FTL?”  The engineer shook her head.  “Set best speed or Pluto Station.  Try and convince some of the civilians to fly with us.”

“Aye, Commander.”

Oknoff nodded and recalled the shuttles.

She was surprised he didn’t argue.

Just as eager to leave as anyone.

Tears forming in her eyes, she stood watch over the Minotaur’s abandonment of her beloved homeworld.  Oknoff saw this, but didn’t say anything, murmuring something under his breath.  She presumed it was a prayer.

As the crumbling planet began shifting towards the left of the wraparounds, she saw several of the bridge crew muttering goodbyes and whispering prayers to those left behind.

She whimpered, but refused to stop watching.

She felt the planet deserved that much at least.

“Goodbye,” she whispered as well.

The HMS Minotaur left orbit bound for Pluto Station, accompanied by fifteen civilian freighters, personal yachts and one super-heavy tanker.

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