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** Preface ** All Seeing

Posted on Sun Aug 8th, 2021 @ 7:41pm by Captain Abigail Laurens & Lieutenant Alexis Aenera

Mission: Double Bind
Location: Space Station in Orbit
Timeline: Six Months Ago

The three scientists looked down over their world in consternation. The asteroid had grazed the atmosphere, missing out on impacting the planet by less than fifty kilometers before altering course radically and slingshotting back out into space. If it had been closer by as much as five more kilometers, Caetov's gravity would have captured it and the world as they knew it would already be gone.

There had been little warning to be had from the planet-killer, a freak collision in asteroid belt by a comet three months previously had deflected this one at high speed along with shattered small pieces of the comet acting almost as a tail of its own. In what was a stroke of luck for the world, the pair of moons had stripped those smaller fragments away from the asteroid, but bad luck for the fledgling colonies of a few hundred people when they shattered the small habitation domes. The only redeeming factor was that the same debris would have likely killed thousands on the home world.

The denizens of the station, however, were doomed. As the asteroid hit the atmosphere and bounced, it shed a significant amount of debris, most of it falling into the gravity well and either burning up or spreading through the atmosphere as small bits hit the ground or exploded in midair. The rest again grazed off the atmosphere but failed to be ejected out of orbit and was catching up to the station. It would be about twelve hours or so before the first period of danger came up. Until then, all the three man crew of the station could do was wait. And watch. Atmospheric conditions meant they couldn't leave orbit, even if they had a vehicle with which to do it with and no rescue vessel would be able to leave the planet to retrieve them.

What was the worst was that salvation was within reach. The first actual tests of the faster-than-light engine would begin within a matter of months, with a moon around one of the system's gas giants deemed marginally habitable. Some of their people had gone there and returned, albeit very slowly ad taking multiple years each way. With a faster way of getting there and back, habitats could be built and the start of a colony could begin. Then, once enough of a population to ensure survival was there, the survival of the Caetovans wouldn't be like the proverbial all eggs in a single basket.

The massive electrical storm that raged over the southern ocean was just another harbinger of an event that would change their home one way or another. Climatologists were already trying to predict what was going to happen even as they observed from the surviving satellites what new phenomena were occurring. Several theories abounded, the first being that the planet would suffer from a minor cooling period until the contaminants were out of the atmosphere with an average drop of the equivalent of one degree Celsius. Another was that parts of the world would be rendered uninhabitable as holes in the ozone layer were stripped. The options continued to be varied until the last prediction: An ice age of the likes never seen before would occur, covering the world in several dozen meters of ice and being virtually non-survivable.

Among them and their colleagues, the first and the last of the theories were most prevalent, with the latter being supported by ice cores from the northern-most part of the main continental mass that indicated an impact from nearly a hundred-fifty thousand years before. The least problematic of the options? The ruling political party's top scientists supported that one and went out of their way to promote that to the public, shouting down the doomsayers.

"Look at that... It's off the charts, god help anyone that's caught in it." One of the scientists said quietly, knowing that there were indeed likely fishermen out under the lightning now pounding the surface of the water. Those people were dead, most likely, the flashes through the wispy clouds were in sheets as the station orbited closer to the storm, not individual strikes. "I don't know what the makeup of the asteroid was, but it's definitely not reacting well with our world..."

"We don't need to report this." The third of the scientists looked out the window. He was the government scientist that had joined them, a fervent follower of the leader. "We've seen electrical storms before, none this strong, but it's a fluke and it'll pass in time." He shrugged, "No need to panic people just because some idiot fishermen were in its path."

The first scientist gave a disgusted look at him and moved away from the window and towards the radio link, floating through the zero gravity they were subjected to, "We're not panicking anyone, everyone is already freaking out. The Center wants to know anything we see so they can add it to the model. Tell you what, if you stay here and don't hear what I'm saying, no one can hold you responsible for what's said."

The government scientist nodded. Even he was actually concerned, but it couldn't be as bad as the others had said. That was just too extreme. He glanced nervously at the back of the station, because that was something that wasn't theoretical coming for them. Maybe if he was lucky, they'd miss?

That first scientist went into another module of the space station and closed the hatch and sighed in relief as he floated towards and then into the chair that the radio sat next to and he switched it on to warm up the equipment. A few seconds later, the proper lights signified readiness, "Station Kamir to Center." He released the send button.

"This is Center." Another voice came in clear, "We're reading you properly, what do you see?"

"There's a giant storm over the Southwest Ocean, in the Grand Fishing Grounds. It formed with no warning, very little cloud cover." His voice was somber, "Particulates with some sort of conductor metals, perhaps?. We're also seeing cloud formation over the Northern Ice Sheet whenever we're in view, thick clouds that we can tell, but they show hot on the thermal scans."

The scratch of notes being taken came over the radio as the ground station repeated the observations back to be sure they got it right. "An inversion layer over the ice?" He asked.

"Yes. Moisture, wind, it's going to cool quickly and spread." The conditions that particular storm would produce would be devastating, worse than a hurricane of the greatest classification. And if it met with another stormfront as it moved? "We'll keep you updated as either start to move, as long as we can."

"We're still trying to find a way to get you off the station." The voice from Center tried to give some hope. "We think in about eighteen hours there may be a clean launch window that we can send up a deorbit pod. We can't risk the FTL ship until the air clears more, else we'd use that."

"Don't worry about us." The scientist said quietly, "Save our people, my family. Demons, use the new radio array to send a call into space! Perhaps there's someone out there looking for new life and civilizations that can help us. What do you have to lose?" He'd come to terms with his own death already.

"Not much." Center agreed, "I'll take it to the Leader and the Director. Keep hope, Mazir Station, god bless."

 

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