Starbase Virgo One
“Let me go, let meee gooooo youuuuuuu sonnnnnnnnnnn
Ferris scowled, flashing a confused look at her COMLINK operator. “What’s happening to Levvy’s transmission?”
The young petty officer swallowed thickly, searching for a way to say he didn’t know that wouldn’t make him sound as incompetent as he felt.
Polef walked to where Ferris was perched accusingly over the man’s shoulder, and saved the day. “Commander, he’s experiencing time dilation.”
She turned to him, her face a picture of dread as the full meaning of that statement struck home.
Polef looked equally crestfallen as he voiced her grim thought. “He’s slipped deeper into the gravity well. His subspace radio isn’t compensating.”
He could see the torturous progression of her thoughts as they played out through her eyes. He knew where those thoughts would inevitably lead and decided to spare her the painful journey. “He’s too far down to pull out.” He stated firmly. “Not with the resources and time available.”
Ferris gritted her teeth at being forced to abandon her officer before she could even entertain a rescue. She glowered up at him, for a moment blaming the messenger. “Is N’Skatia in any danger?”
“They’re at a safe distance for now, but that could change.” There was a singular pause. “The same goes for us.”
She nodded, and then grabbed her second officer by the arm as he passed, nearly yanking him off his feet in the process. The young Lieutenant Veselov barely recovered in time, coming to rest in a half-assed posture of attention.
“EVAC Yellow. All non-essentials to the escape pods!”
Veselov’s eyes widened. “Yes ma’am!”
He tried to step away, but Perris kept hold of his wrist while she swept her vision around the crowded room. She leaned in. “That includes second watch. Have them clear the deck.”
Veselov was finally released and immediately swatted his combadge to relay the new orders.
“Alien vessel’s been caught in the outer edge of their own gravity pool.” Petty Officer Newman interjected from the other side of the horseshoe bank of consoles.
“Not so smart after all, are you?” Ferris groused with satisfaction.
“They’re not stuck,” Newman amended almost apologetically. “But the good news is that the gravity pool has already slowed their approach by fifty-seven percent.”
Polef snapped his fingers, as if catching on to a particularly interesting lecture topic. “Of course! I don’t think the gravimetric charge was an attack.”
Ferris did a double take. “Tell that to Ensign Levvy!” She spat in a gust of fury.
Polef raised his palms in appeasement. “Commander, think me insane if you must, but I believe we just witnessed a precision drop.” He rubbed his blue chin excitedly. “And I must say, the accuracy involved is staggering!”
Ferris hesitated. Despite herself, she looked up at the tactical monitor, her anger beginning to wane as she considered his statement. “You’re saying the anomaly was an emergency braking maneuver?” Her voice lowered in awe. “Like dropping a drag chute…”
Before her overwrought mind could reconcile the idea, another bulletin was dropped in her lap.
“Commander,” Newman said heavily, “Ground Control is reporting that the alien vessel just entered the exosphere.”
The intruder screamed through the lower blankets of atmosphere, generating a cacophony of sonic booms that echoed across two time zones. Seen from the planet’s surface, it was a streaking fireball as large as the N’Skatian sun that left a trail of churning black smoke in its wake.
The tremendous air friction began to peel away layers of the superstructure and the great vessel began to shed centuries of hull plating.
Towering spires came loose like uprooted trees.
Pillars over two hundred meters long spiraled downward, smashing hover cars out of the air and blasting entire neighborhoods out of existence in a thundering firestorm.
An avalanche of white-hot debris rained over the cities of Temek and Gororro. Buildings crumbled under the deluge. N’Skatians on the ground fled in horror, frantically seeking refuge from the maelstrom of burning metal and projectiles.
City blocks disappeared under the rain of fire. Then complete counties.
The vessel continued onward, roaring across the Straight of De’veena as it lost altitude. Twenty minutes later, it skidded into the desert floor just beyond the capital city of Para.
The impact ripped a chasm into the ground, sending a plume of dirt and rock high into the air. Despite being half buried, the hulk plowed onward, driven by its momentous inertia. It shunted a mountain of boulders before it, until finally coming to a halt at the base of Mount Lanara. The resulting dust cloud would hang over Para for days.