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Old August 2 2010, 09:15 PM   #78
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Re: Writing Challenge- The winning entries.

Part 2

Stardate 54533.45 (14 July 2377)
SAR Team 1

“Defensive positions, everyone! We’ve got an inbound target moving at Mach speed.”

Chief Zuan’s team took up defensive positions best they could, but the veteran CPO knew they were too exposed.

“There! Look!” Corpsman 'kel Vernas pointed skyward. Zuan looked up and caught a dark object moving back and forth across the sky with uncanny agility.

“Stand-by on phasers,” he ordered over his communicator. “If that thing attacks, open up on it.”

Zuan pulled the phaser carbine up and gazed through the targeting reticule. The carbine’s tracking system beeped intermittently, then emitted a steady tone. A cold smile formed on the Chief’s lips.

“Come on, bitch – let’s dance.”

* * *

Stardate 54533.45 (14 July 2377)
Border Service Cutter USS Sturgeon
Geo-stationary orbit over Xilien IV

“I have a lock, Captain,” announced the XO, “but atmospheric ionization will diffuse our phasers and we’re too close to the away teams for torpedoes.”

“Stand-by phasers. Maybe we can scare it off.”

Porter held her finger over a blinking control stud. “Just give the word, sir.”


* * *

Stardate 54533.45 (14 July 2377)
SAR Team 1

A sudden red flash dazzled Ruan’s eyes, causing him to blink furiously and take his eye off the targeting reticule. At the same moment, a raucous shriek – louder than all the demons in hell – elicited a gasp of pain from Ruan as sound and pressure combined to assault his ear drums.

He was vaguely aware of a massive form passing overhead before the backdraft caught him and the rest of the SAR team – tossing them about like leaves in a gale.

Zuan landed awkwardly, his breath exploded painfully from his lungs as his diaphragm took the brunt of his collision with a pile of debris. He tumbled down the pile, coming to rest against a bank of dirty snow. He gasped desperately for air, the wind knocked from him.

He was vaguely aware that Corpsman ‘kel Vernas was leaning over him, shouting at him, but he could not understand what she was saying. All he could hear was a muffled roar that seemed to be gaining in intensity.

A shadow loomed over them, blotting out the sky. Ruan caught sudden movement as the Corpsman was snapped up by a massive beak. Burgundy blood sprayed the CPO as the lower half of ‘kel Vernas’ body toppled aside.

Screaming soundlessly, Chief Zuan opened fire with his phaser carbine – raking the monstrous creature across the face and eyes with bursts of concentrated energy.

The creature staggered, apparently in pain, shaking its massive head from side to side. Other Border Dogs began to open fire. While the phaser bursts did not kill the creature or even wound it severely, they did accomplish one thing.

They made it mad.

* * *

Stardate 54533.45 (14 July 2377)
Border Service Cutter USS Sturgeon
Geo-stationary orbit over Xilien IV

From the Sturgeon, Captain Trondheim and the bridge crew watched as the cutter’s phasers caught the creature between its massive wings, sending it wheeling end over end toward the planet’s surface.

Trondheim’s initial sense of relief turned to horror as the pteranodon regained control and dove toward the Border Dogs scattered in the debris of the habitat dome.

He slapped at his combadge hard enough to leave a bruise on his chest. “Bridge to transporter room one – emergency beam-out of all SAR teams, NOW!

There was a moment’s pause before the transporter technician replied. “Sir – I can’t get a transporter lock on the teams. Something is interfering with our tracking sensors.”

Trondheim felt as if he had been punched in the gut. “Keep trying. Bridge, out.” He turned to Commander Porter.

“XO, I want two Stallions launched and I want it done five minutes ago. Inform the pilots that they are to fire on the creature if it approaches.”

“Sir!” interrupted Lt. Tarrawa. “Look!”

Trondheim turned and stared at the viewscreen with incredulity. The monster was now in a steep climb.

And he was heading directly for the Sturgeon.

The XO shook her head in disbelief. “That’s not possible! There isn’t enough air to support that thing at that altitude.”

“Nonetheless, it is doing so anyway,” replied Trondheim, fascinated with the sight. “Lt. Tarrawa – what is its altitude and speed?”

The Japanese Ops officer tore her eyes from the viewscreen and checked her panel. She swallowed. “Already at 17,000 meters and climbing. Speed already exceeding Mach 1 and climbing.”

“It can’t know we’re here,” whispered Porter, her voice tight.

“And yet, it does,” replied Trondheim, his voice equally quiet but with a note of certainty. “At least it’s distracted from our people on the ground. Helm – prepare to break orbit. We may need maneuvering room.”

The helmsman acknowledged then added. “Captain – the creature will intercept us before we can clear the planet’s gravity well.”

“Of course,” thought Trondheim, “what else can go wrong today?” Aloud he said, “Just get us moving, Mister.”

The pteranodon was now a living missile, hurtling toward the Sturgeon at impossible speed. It weighed more than a Star Stallion and a collision would devastate the cutter, possibly even destroy it.

“Shields at maximum intensity,” announced Commander Porter. “Phasers charged and locked – torpedoes standing by.”

The Captain acknowledged and regarded the approaching creature with a sense of dread and wonder. Part of him loathed the idea of destroying such a magnificent creature – perhaps unique amongst the stars. But his responsibilities lay with the safety of his crew and ship. The monster had proved to be hostile and they had already lost at least one crewman.

“Target changing course,” announced the XO.

“Where away?”

“Veering sharply to 018 mark 80, mark 79 . . . its arcing around for an attack run, I think.”

The viewscreen tracked the creature, dimming as the yellow sun came into view.

“It plans to dive out of the sun,” murmured Trondheim. “It’s intelligent.”

“Could be instinct,” replied Porter.

Trondheim shook his head. “No, Commander, that beast knows what it’s doing. Prepare to fire phasers on my mark.”

The filters on the viewscreen damped the intense glare of the sun, leaving the creature as a dark shadow that was rapidly growing in size.


Twin beams of light lanced out from the cutter’s hull, converging on the monster. It thrashed wildly and banked away before circling around to reengage the Sturgeon.

“Great, Now it’s pissed,” noted Porter.

Trondheim kept his gaze fixed on the monster. Magnificent or not, the creature was hell-bent on their destruction.

“Time to end this. Fire the Mark 9 torpedo.”

“Torpedo away!”

Now the pteranodon began to move evasively. It made twists and turns that would have been impossible for even a high-performance fighter to duplicate.

But the photon torpedo was relentless – its on-board tracking computer making continuous corrections as it pursued its quarry.

In a surprising move, the creature suddenly stopped and hung motionless – its massive wings spread to their fullest. Perhaps it was an indication of surrender.

Trondheim somehow knew it was an act of defiance – its own way of extending the middle finger.

The screen went white as the 12 isoton warhead detonated. Trondheim raised his hand against the glare before the filters had a chance to dampen the burst of light. The orb of light spread before fading away – leaving the distant sun and starfield on the screen.

“Target destroyed,” announced the XO, her tone flat.

The Captain let out a long sigh. “Very well. Give the order to launch the Stallions. Let’s get our people and any survivors out of there.”

* * *

Stardate 54533.91 (14 July 2377)
Border Service Cutter USS Sturgeon
En route to Star Station India

Captain’s Log – Stardate: 54533.9. We have recovered our SAR teams and the lone survivor of the mining outpost on Xilien IV. I suppose we were fortunate to suffer only one casualty – Corpsman First Class Rhijan ‘kel Vernas. She was an outstanding member of Sturgeon’s crew and she will be missed. Chief Zuan suffered severe injuries, but Dr. V’Tel believes he will make a complete recovery.

As to the creature that destroyed the mining outpost, its origins remain a mystery. One theory is that it was encased in the ice for centuries in some form of suspended animation and was released by tectonic activity. We will leave that to others to figure out. USS Rutledge is on station recovering the bodies of the miners and scanning for any other life-forms. Something tells me this creature was one-of-a-kind.

The enunciator to the ready room chimed softly. Trondheim paused his log entry and said, “Come!”

Lt. Sinja Tarrawa entered the office and stood before Trondheim’s desk. She stood at attention with her gaze fixed several centimeters above the Captain’s head.

“Lt. Tarrawa reporting, sir. I am presenting myself for disciplinary action.”

Trondheim suppressed a smile. “Lieutenant – please, have a seat.”

Tarrawa stole a puzzled glance at the Captain before doing as he bade. She sat ramrod straight in the chair.

He sighed. “Sinja – relax. You’re not on report.”

Some of the tension seemed to leave her body, but her expression still showed dismay. “Sir – my actions on the bridge earlier today were inexcusable.”

“Really? My judgment must be faulty – I thought you performed admirably.”

She swallowed and lowered her gaze in shame. “My . . . outburst . . . they were inexcusable, Captain.”

Trondheim smiled. “Considering what we were facing, I think your . . . ‘outburst’ as you put it, was rather mild. I’ve heard far worse from officers more senior than you under less stressful circumstances. I think you should cut yourself some slack, Sinja.”

“Yes sir, if you say so.”

He cocked his head to the side. “I do have one question, though.”

She looked up. “Sir?”

“The words you spoke, in Japanese I assume . . . what did they mean?”

She looked down again, embarrassed. “It’s silly sir – something out of Japanese mythology. I was just startled when I saw the creature on the screen.”

“The Norse are well-versed in mythology, Lieutenant. Please – I’m interested.”

She nodded. “ ‘Kaiju’ – that means, ‘giant monster.’” Her face flushed slightly.

“An accurate description, Lieutenant. And the other word?”

“ ‘Rodan’ – that is the name of a monstrous flying reptile from our mythology. It supposedly terrorized the people of Japan and fought against other monsters until finally leaving Earth.”

“I see. What became of Rodan?”

“Forgive me, sir – I’m a bit rusty on my mythology – but as I recall, Rodan came under the control of an advanced alien race on planet X.”

Trondheim’s eyes narrowed. “Planet X, you say?”

A small smile formed on her face. “A bizarre coincidence, I agree.”

He nodded and stood, signaling the end of the meeting. “Thank you, Lieutenant. And please, put your mind at rest. You performed your duties well today.”

She stood, obviously relieved. “I appreciate that sir.”

“Good. Dismissed.”

Tarrawa turned to leave the ready room.

“Oh, Lieutenant – one more question?”


“Did this . . . Rodan . . . were there more of its kind?”

“Honestly, sir – I don’t recall. It was a myth, after all.”

“Of course. Thank you – that will be all.”

As Tarrawa left the ready room, Captain Trondheim sat behind his desk and stared out the small viewport at the streaming starfield, a pensive expression on his face.

* * *

Stardate 54536.31 (18 July 2377)
Xilien IV

The ground quake measured 7.2 on the Richter Scale, or would have if anyone had been around to record it.

The USS Rutledge had departed the day before, taking with her the bodies of the dead miners and what little equipment could be salvaged. All that was left was the debris of the habitat domes, and heavy snowfall was effectively erasing that from view. The Corps of Engineers crew had sealed the mine entrance until the company could come and assess whether future operations were viable.

The quake lasted for nearly three minutes, causing localized avalanches. Without power for the force fields, two of the mine tunnels collapsed.

The quake also opened a shaft to a cavern that lay some 300 kilometers west of the site of the mine and 80 meters below the surface. Air and light filtered down into the cave for the first time in four centuries.

Two dark objects lay amongst the ice and rocks of the cave. Each was ovoid, about three meters in length and half that in circumference.

One of the objects began to move and expand. A leathery membrane rose and fell, rose and fell.

An eye opened for the first time, revealing an elliptical pupil surrounded by a gold and green iris. The eye hinted at intelligence and malevolence.

The creature slowly unfurled and stretched, revealing razor-sharp talons and a serrated beak. It spread its wings and began to flap them, clumsily at first, then with real purpose. It emitted a high-pitched shriek before taking flight. It rose up through the opening of the cavern, slowly and unsteadily but quickly gained speed. It burst through a thin veil of snow and ice, soaring into the pale blue skies of Xilien IV.

It realized it was hungry.

* * *

"Understand, Commander: That torpedo did not self-destruct. You heard it hit the hull, and I was never here."

-Admiral James Greer
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