Planet 239, in Sector 12, was the target of a unique comet. It traveled faster than any other object that had been studied by the National Galaxy Alert Program or NGAP. The NGAP, though identified as the alert program, specialized in defensive measures also. Each sector held a minimum of one defensive space station in each of the 140 galaxy sectors, within the Galactic Counsel’s planetary systems.
The NGAP had to wait until the comet was at the precise intercept with a gravity belt, to direct broken pieces away from Planet 239. Throughout their historical records they calculated they had a ninety-nine percent chance of succeeding in destroying the space rock without allowing any debris through the gravity belt. It only redirected smaller comets or other space rocks, larger ones that had a higher mass would be able to penetrate it retaining a majority of its size, remaining on its original trajectory.
An old, rugged looking chair was placed in the center of an old command center. A young man sat in the chair, signifying his superiority over the others in the command center. He was the Commander of the NGAP defensive station assigned to eliminate the comet. It was the lone station in Sector 12 with the weaponry to destroy a comet. “Get the weapons online, the comet will come into range any moment now.” A smile emerged from the man’s scarred face that showed the countless battles he had been in. His duties seemed routine, but destroying a comet always changed that. Rarely would they appear on such a perfect course that could pass through the gravity belt.
The station was one of the oldest; the age of the station was shown through the material used in the command center. The mixing of old and new materials could be seen. An older man was in front of an older control panel, which he began to enter commands into. He was in charge of the ships main functions; he was the commanding science officer, second in command behind the Commander. “The weapons are charging. They should be ready within a minute, giving us enough time to lock on to the comet and destroy it.”
The Commander enjoyed destroying things; it had been a long time since he had order the destruction of something; living or not living. The fact that it was not a routine order added to the enjoyment of giving it. “Good, open the Valastic wine, we are going to be celebrating here soon.”
“The weapons are charged and ready Commander Jenkins,” the older man informed his superior.
“Excellent, now target that piece of space rock!” He couldn’t help but sound happy about giving the order.
The science officer entered several commands into the computers before a holographic screen appeared. The comet appeared on the screen as a red dot. The officer began to target it using a red targeting layout using multiple squares varying in size. In the upper right hand corner of the screen was a forty-five second countdown before the comet could not be destroyed safely. Red circles began to form around the rock trying to create a weapons lock to ensure maximum damage.
“There is something peculiar about this comet; I cannot get an accurate lock on it.” Science officers were rarely challenged by the universe, let alone a single comet.
Commander Jenkins rose from his seated position and approached the science officer. “What do you mean you can’t get a lock?” The contraction was a rare occurrence from the commander, especially a man in his position.
The science officer knew he had misheard him, so he did not hesitate to correct him. “I can get a lock, but not an accurate one. We have less than fifteen seconds to decide.”
The Commander had to decide quickly, but did not like to make rushed decisions. “Take it out!” He always seemed to question quick decisions. He hoped he would not do the same here afterwards.
The science officer didn’t hesitate and entered the firing command quickly. The power in the station flickered on and off momentarily before two red beams were fired from over top of the command center.
The read beams traveled quickly through the cold, starless space. Suddenly to the complete shock of the science officer, the red beams dissipated. The remaining energy from the beams floated back toward the station. “What… what happened?”
Commander Jenkins had never seen a science officer act like the one was now. “You’re the science officer you should know!”
The science officer did not have enough time to respond before something impacted the station. The computer panels exploded launching the officer backwards. He hit the Commander knocking him to the ground. The first explosion triggered a chain reaction, causing every other computer panel to explode.
Commander Jenkins covered his head as his command center began to explode around him. His science officer was lying dead next to him; his body unrecognizable because of massive burns. He got up quickly knowing there were three other men in the command center, but they were all dead. His vision was blurred, when he stood up quickly being concerned for the men. He began to become dizzy when he stumbled forward toward the lone door leading out of the command center.
He tripped on a piece of debris, but was able to catch himself on the wall. Smaller explosions continued to detonate around the command center causing Jenkins’ ears to ring with pain. Once he reached the door, it took him several tries to activate the control panel opening it. Once it was open, he got in just before another control panel exploded near the door. It was the door to an elevator; a shockwave from an explosion pushed him further inside before the door could close again. The door led to an elevator, which he was unsuspectingly forced into by another explosion.
He used a railing in the elevator to pull himself to his feet. The elevator shook violently as it started to move downwards. Once he was on his feet, the shaking forced him back down. Knowing he would need strength, he remained down until it stopped.
The elevator finally stopped, the doors opening slowly, stopping once they were hidden within the walls. He quickly exited the elevator to find dozen of people lying dead on the ground. He was in a corridor that had been the subject to a massive explosion. Whatever had impacted the station did more damage than he had originally thought.
He moved through the corridor knowing the station was not advanced enough to maintain itself after such damage. Breathing heavily he treated the corridors as a new land to ensure his instincts overpowered the commonly known area. He looked to the right at the intersection of another corridor and saw several men running. “Crewmen stop!” The men heard their commander’s voice and started to gesture that he come to them. Just when he began toward them the wall behind the men exploded. He reached his hand toward the men, but it was useless as the men were enveloped by flames. The Commander’s eyes widened when the entire corridor’s wall began exploding.
He began to run the opposite direction. He could feel the heat of the exploding walls on his back. There was an open door ahead him; above it was a flashing red light. It was an escape pod, one that was about to launch. It must have been activated by someone else who failed to reach it. He reached the door just in time before it began to close. He pressed a button inside closing it faster, once he was inside.
He repositioned himself so he was sitting in a chair facing forward. There were three control panels, each containing functions controlling one or more parts of the pod. The first command he entered was activating the pod’s defensive shielding. He anticipated the corridor explosion impacting the pod. Within seconds the escape pod was shot away from the station. The mysterious comet was directly in front of him. He pressed a blue button that was near the center of the pod; two control sticks appeared. He gripped them tightly, steering the pod away from the comet.
There were three windows, one in the front and two on the either side of him in the pod. When the pod moved into a parallel position with the comet, the Commander noticed an expanding blue pulse originating from the comet. “That is no freaking comet.” The pulse was not easy to focus on, it began to strain his eyes it became blurry. His eyes widened when he realized it was coming directly for the pod.
It impacted the backend of the pod sending an energy shockwave through its systems. The pulse pierced the shielding of the pod as it was not there. Sparks flashed when the Commander tried to touch a control panel. He could hear the humming of the pod’s engines silencing. “I have to reach planet 239, this pod won’t make it any further, if to there at all.” Fear filled his voice with the thoughts of his own death.
The comet had seemed to stop when the blue pulse fired, but now was moving toward the planet again. Jenkins shook his head in disbelief. “What is that thing?” He spoke to himself as answering the question from someone else. “It is certainly not a comet. It acts more like a ship.” He feared what would happen to the people on the planet if the comet reached there before he did.
Jenkins began to transfer as much power as he could to the auxiliary landing engines. He knew they would do very little for flying, but it was better than no engines at all. He needed to increase his speed to penetrate the gravity belt without being torn to pieces. The transfer increased the engine power, border lining it with the needed power to break through the gravity belt. He breathed deeply watching the energy levels of the pod flux.
The comet had already entered the gravity belt when Jenkins was preparing the bow of the pod for the impact. He entered commands into the far left control panel, transferring the energy shield to the bow. “It is not much, but it should get me through in one piece. Then I can contact the planet’s government and deal with this comet thing.” The shielding had been useless against the pulse, but he hoped it would prove useful when gravity distortions impacted the pod.
The Commander put his hands to the side bracing himself for the entry into the gravity belt. It was just a few moments later when the pod impacted the beginning of the gravity belt. He could see the blackish orb-like objects swirling around as if they were not there. Jenkins knew it was there when it knocked the pod away from it. It was an anomaly that had confused scientists across the universe ever since it was discovered. It felt like the pod was going to be ripped apart by the gravity belt as it moved into it. Jenkins began to take manual control trying to move the pod through the anomaly faster. The gravity distortions were greatest when first entering and exiting.
The gravity within the belt fluxed beyond the ability to predict, but was focused around the orb-like areas. It did not flux in a single area; it fluxed in multiple different areas making it difficult to navigate through without having to go through a distortion of gravity. The orbs were in continual movement increasing the gravity distortions around the belt. If a ship within was not protected, it would be crushed, or trapped within the belt. The Commander could hear the metal around him crackling. He flinched when he heard metal snap. He turned around and could not find any visible damage. He spun the chair back around and pushed the manual control forward. The engine’s humming sound began to strain when more metal snapping sounds were heard.
He started breathing heavily, uncertain what his fate was going to be. Flashes of reports he had seen went across his memory. Reports of incidents within the gravity belt. He strained his hands holding onto the manual controls.
Jenkins activated a map the area around him. His pod was marked by a blue dot and the comet was still on the map, marked by a red dot. The gravity belt was not recognized by any maps, but was only visible to the naked eye. The Commander was jolted forward when the pod came spiraling out of the gravity belt just after another orb impacted the pod. He gripped tightly on to the manual controls trying to stabilize the pod.
The escape pod continued to spiral out of control toward the planet. The gravity belt varied in width and its placement in space. It had moved forward, slinging the pod out. It was moving faster coming out than it was going in. Jenkins had lost complete control of it and could only hope he survived. He crossed his arms and closed his eyes hoping he would live to see another day. Before he closed his eyes he saw the comet had already entered the planet’s atmosphere. The increased speed had the pod heading into the planet’s atmosphere sooner than it would have normally.
He opened his eyes realizing he could try to communicate with the planet. He forced himself upright trying to activate the communication systems, but the pressure of the spiraling pod forced him back into the chair. The pod began to heat up as it passed through the atmosphere. Sweat began to cover his face; Jenkins knew the protective shielding of the pod was failing. It was not created for entrance into an atmosphere on such lower power.
Jenkins’ vision began to blur as the area around him continued to heat up. He tried blinking his eyes to clear his vision, but it only seemed to make it worse. Blackness was enveloping his vision, until everything went black. He laid weakly in the chair unconscious.
A smoke-like gas filled the pod when Jenkins opened his eyes. It stung his eyes causing him to close them again. His entire body ached, which overwhelmed the stinging of the eyes when he opened them again. He moved his arms around trying to disperse the gas. The efforts were useless. He reached around the pod until he found a lever. He felt around it before grabbing onto it. Once it was within his grasp, he pulled up on it. The front of the pod suddenly broke off and was launched into the air by small energy discharges.
The gas immediately left the pod and started to mix with the planet’s air. Light replaced the gas in the pod, continuing to sting his eyes. It took only a few moments for his eyes to adapt to the light. He leaned forward in the chair and stared out of the pod. It was bluish green sky over top. There was not a single cloud in the sky. It seemed unusual, but he ignored the cloudless sky and climbed out of the pod.
Dropping to the ground he started to crawl away from the pod, realizing he couldn’t move his legs. He shook his head in shock. “No, no, my legs.” Grabbing his left leg, it had no feeling in it. He smashed his hand against the ground in frustration. Blindly throwing down onto the ground, a sharp pain shot through it from a rock. While shaking his hand, he realized he was on top of a hill. He used his arms to crawl forward. He reached the top of the hill and looked out across what almost immediately dropped down into flat lands.
Across what seemed to be endless miles, was a large factory-like city. He could see large metal towers, with smoke rising from them. He had been on the planet multiple times before and it was never like this. It had never had major factories. They were an advanced planet, but had never been ones to build factories. They had strong connections with the NGAP and were supplied with all they needed.
His eyes widened when he could now see the comet emerging from the smoke above the factories. “Now that certainly is not a comet. These people must have some sort of secret weapons factory, one that they have hidden from us for a long time.” Suddenly pain shot through his leg, but instead of grimacing, he smiled. He knew the pain was telling him that his leg was not paralyzed and would hopefully heal fully.
There was no way of communicating to any NGAP ships or stations without reaching a settlement on Planet 239. A high pitch screech echoed his ears. He dropped completely to the ground holding his hands to his ears. He tried to look around for the source of the noise, but it was too painful to try to move.
He could feel the massive force of a ship hovering above him. He managed to open one eye to see a similar thing to the comet. Thousands of tentacles were released from its underside, gripping tightly onto Jenkins. Once he was in its grasp, the screeching sound stopped. His eyes widened with horror as he was devoured. His skin felt like it was being burned off his skin as he was lifted ever higher.
My name is Jeremiah Sater; I am 17 years old and a freshman in the college; second semester. I live with my family; I have two brothers, in which I am the middle child. I have been writing for nearly half of my life, starting when I was nine years old. I started by writing short fictional stories about myself. I branched into longer pieces, varying from fiction to fantasy. Leading up to a 450+ page novel I have written and currently editing hoping to get published in the future. While I have been editing it, I have written short stories on the side. All being in the fiction genre, only recently have I branched into science fiction. I have not been published yet, I am still awaiting that first publication. I am going for my English degree at college to hopefully pursue a career in writing while trying to make it as an author. (Congratulations on your first publication then! Jay)