Lieutenant (junior-grade) Michael Jamussa (known the pilots and EWOs by his call sign of Kaboose) knelt beside the window in the Raptor’s hatch. “Looking good, Sidewinder,” he said to the command pilot (and senior Raptor pilot aboard Scorpia
) Lieutenant Stefan ‘Sidewinder’ Greene. “Two more meters . . . back a nudge . . . good, good, CONTACT!” The EWO toggled a switch beside the hatch and there was a dull thud. “Hard dock, Sidewinder. Magnetic grapples secured and locked.”
, Sidewinder,” the pilot broadcast. “We are docked with Typhon and are opening up now.”
“Roger Sidewinder, report in at five minute intervals. ETA on Marines and tech team four minutes.”
,” he answered as he unbuckled his harness and carefully made his way back into the small troop/EWO bay. “Ready, Kaboose?”
“If I said no,” the EWO answered sourly, “would you wait on the Marines to arrive?”
“That’s a negative, Kaboose.”
“Thought so,” he answered as he drew his sidearm and chambered a round before sliding the weapon back in its holster. “Well, in that case, Lieutenant Sir, we cocked, locked, and ready to rock.”
“Open her up, wiseass.”
“By your command,” Kaboose said in a monotone voice reverberating into his helmet.
The hatch opened outwards without a sound in the vacuum. Sidewinder took the lead and he jumped across the one-meter gap between the Raptor and the open hatch, and he bounced back into the air on the far side. “Internal gravity is down, Kaboose. Watch your step.”
, Sidewinder. Emergency lights are on in power conservation mode—batteries must be low. Negative internal atmosphere and gravity—en route to command deck.”
“Roger, Sidewinder. Watch yourself,” the radio broadcast.
“What? No kind words for me?” Kaboose lamented, and a chuckle came over the radio. “Kaboose, Scorpia
. Nope. Not a one.”
“I get no respect at all,” the EWO muttered.
“Respect is earned, Kaboose,” Sidewinder said as he swept the hand-held battery-powered torch he carried down the corridor. “You haven’t so far,” the pilot paused. “Is that what I think it is?” He asked as the torch illuminated a rust-red smear along one bulkhead—and a matching icy pool on the deck.
“Frack,” whispered the junior officer. “Is that blood? Frozen congealed blood?”
“And bullet impacts on the bulkhead,” the pilot said slowly. “Scorpia
, Sidewinder. Signs of an internal firefight—no bodies. We are at the access ladders and climbing to the command deck.”
Colonel Jayne shook his head. “Smugglers? Could the Fleet have decommissioned the station and then criminals had a fire-fight? Even scraps of supplies could be valuable—let alone the tylium stores and munitions.”
Mathias nodded. “There are no indications of kinetic or missile strikes on the exterior—Typhon was only lightly armed, but any hostile ship should have alerted the crew and there would be some
evidence of a fight. There is another possibility, Tom,” he said quietly.
“Mutiny,” the XO snarled.
“It is not unknown,” the commander answered. “Sidewinder, Scorpia
Actual. Try to find the station logs when you reach the command deck—they might be in the commander’s quarters on Deck Four if they are not in CIC.”
The two pilots slowly made their up the core of the station along the access ladders—steeply sloped stairs as civilians referred to them. They passed more blood stains on the way and in the dark cold interior, the sound of their breathing was thunderous.
“All this blood, and not a body to be found,” Kaboose said in a quavering voice. “Where are the bodies?”
“Easy, Lieutenant,” Sidewinder ordered. “Someone policed the station afterwards; no way they all got sucked out to vacuum.”
“But what happened?”
“That’s what we are here to find out.”
“Sidewinder, Arclight. I am docking at the port bay with a team of Marines and techs; Jester is delivering a second team to engineering.”
“Roger, Arclight. Scorpia
, we are at the command deck.”
. Confirm you have reached the command deck.”
The command deck was as silent and lifeless and frozen as the remainder of the station had been—but there were a large number of patches of blood-red ice on the deck and bulkheads and consoles. Sidewinder approached the engineering console and he scrapped off the ice with his gloved hands. “Scorpia
, Sidewinder. Power plant and environmental controls were manually shut down from the command deck. I have emergency power only—batteries at . . . 8.7%; we have the juice for a system restart. Request instructions.”
Actual. Fuel status?”
“Tanks read seventeen thousand five hundred and forty-four tons of processed and refined tylium, Scorpia
Actual. Just over 13% of her total capacity.”
Mathias exchanged a look with Tom who nodded. “That would top off our tanks, as well as the reserve storage for the Vipers and Raptors, with some to spare.”
He lifted the phone. “Fire her up, Sidewinder. Warm the tanks to reduce the slush and have the engineering teams check the status of the fuel transfer pumps and lines—when everything is on-line we will bring the ship to dock and transfer fuel.”
The commander adjusted the dial next to the phone. “CIC to Chief Sinclair,” he broadcast, and then waited.
“Chief, I want a team assembled for fuel transfer and a second to inspect any spare parts and munitions aboard that station—bring over everything we can use, and what will fit in our holds. If the Fleet did decommission Typhon, I’m not about to leave ordnance sitting out here for criminals to get their hands on.”
“Our magazines are over two-thirds as is, Commander. We won’t be able to fit all of it aboard if Typhon has a full load.”
“Understood, get what you can, and get it safely stowed.”
“I’ll get a crew cracking on it Commander.”
Actual,” he continued as he switched the phone back to that channel. “Any progress on those logs?”
Actual. Final entry was . . . seven months and ten days ago. Shows a Fleet shuttle arriving in system with cargo for the station. Nothing after that. No mention of the Fleet mothballing the station either, at least none that I can find.”
“Get the logs back here ASAP, Scorpia
Mathias racked the phone and he shook his head. For several moments he said nothing and then he nodded. “For now, Tom, we are going to concentrate on getting those pumps working and the fuel piped aboard—as well as whatever supplies and spares we can salvage. I’ll be in my quarters—dock the ship once the Marines and engineers complete their sweep and the pumps have checked out. Once that operation is complete, we will jump into Cyrannus and find out just what the frack is going on.”
“Aye, aye, Sir.”