The Betrayal Chapter 42 snippet
The giant defense forts in orbit over Fargo floated like giant gems. Shining with the reflected light of the planets blue primary star, they appeared like blue quartz constructions. Being so deep in the Alliance, the tourist planet had two to protect it from attacking vessels.
Equipped with enough firepower to match a dreadnaught, they were all that Fargo had to defend itself with. The idea behind that strategy being that if a enemy was able to strike a planet that deep in the Alliance, then massing more stations weren’t going to make much of a difference. However, for its location, the two forts were an imposing presence.
Inside the fort, Commander Justine Garcia lounged on her bunk, reading an electronic book. While her shift had ended hours ago, she had gotten herself engrossed in her novel. Still dressed, she knew it was a guilty pleasure, and one that took away from her rest time.
However, she couldn’t find herself ever putting a novel down once she started reading it.
Some people find a weakness in booze or other activities, she told herself as she stretched. I’d rather have a good book instead…something to exercise my mind with.
Without warning, the action stations alarm sounded in her quarters, the lights dimming to their red color. Dropping the book on her bunk, she leapt to her feet and headed out of her quarters on a run. As she race down the corridor, she was placing her throat mike on and her ear bud in.
“Report!” she yelled. Her action station was on one of the station’s antimissile batteries.
“Sir,” her second in command said. “We’ve got a fleet of inbound ships moving in, their engines signatures matching fleet vessels.”
“Fleet vessels?” she asked as she raced towards her station.
“Yes, sir,” he said. “They’ve jammed all communications and launched a full spread of missiles at us, sir.”
“How many ships?”
“I’m on my way,” she said, already knowing it was far too late.
Planetary Governor Tina Tomson was a gregarious sort; unable to find a situation in life she couldn’t laugh at. It was that fact, combined with her ability to keep a level head in a crisis, that made the people of Fargo love her so dearly. Re-elected to her position for four straight terms, everyone knew what to expect out of their relationship, and both parties were happy it with. People, she had told her cabinet years before, always like a leader they could trust and that they knew would keep level head during a crisis.
Today, however, as she stood in the center of her planetary security center, she wasn’t smiling at all. Blood cold as ice, tears trying to well up in her eyes, she watched the icons on the holographic plot start to disappear. The first icons to vanish were the orbiting liners; their unarmored hulls no match for the nuclear-tipped and laser-tipped missiles that struck them. Closing her eyes, she said a silent prayer for the lives that had been lost.
All attempts to communicate with their attackers had been ignored. They had even sent repeated surrender messages, and those too, had gone unanswered. Who ever was behind this, she mused with a single tear running down her cheek, were committed to murdering everyone on the planet. And with the firepower they had at their disposal, it was not even a question whether they would succeed.
I just wish I knew who was behind this, she thought as she watched the missiles flying toward her last fort.
Garcia reached her action station and had slipped on her targeting gear as the first missiles struck. Lasers tore into the fort, cutting deep into her armor, slicing whole compartments open to space. Inside those compartments, people died either instantly from the lasers or very quickly from decompression. Those who didn’t die in those hits only had seconds left to live.
As was planned, the first missiles were used to carve holes in the armor to allow the nuclear missiles to get inside the armor. Following closely behind their cutting brethren, the nuclear missiles flew into shattered compartments. Exploding inside the thick armored sides of the forts, they flashed in Fargo orbit like a new main star. Their explosives blasts reached the forts matter/antimatter power sources and it exploded along with the missile. In less then thirty seconds, Garcia and ten thousand people was dead, their fort nothing but small bits floating in orbit.
Their murderers sailed on, unharmed.
“The forts and orbital stations are destroyed, sir,”
“Target all the civilization centers and bombard them,” Anderson said.
Tomson looked at everyone in her command center with a sad sigh. They were doing everything they could, she thought, and they were doing their duty. Even though they knew it was totally useless, they weren’t going to give up the fight. With the destruction of their forts, their only offensive weaponry had been destroyed, leaving them at the mercy of their attackers.
“It’s confirmed, Governor,” her Chief of Security said. “The Fleet above is Fleet in origin.”
Why is the Fleet destroying out planet? She asked herself as she nodded weakly. Placing a hand on everybody’s shoulder, she let him or her know how much she appreciated him or her.
Seeing the monitor for the last time, she knew she had just enough time to step out on her balcony. There was no way she was going to face the end cooped up in the command center, she told herself. No, she would face it like the leader she was: on her balcony looking at it with her own two eyes. Nothing could prevent it from happening now, but she wasn’t going to give their murderers what they desired: to cower in terror before dying.
Opening the door with a steady hand, she stepped out onto the marble balcony of her palace. She looked out across the capital city at the blue sun as it started to rise over the mountains to the east. It would be the last thing she ever saw, she told herself as a tear wound down her cheek. And with their killers jamming all their communications, no one else would know the truth either.
Tomson lifted her head up towards the sky and she imagined she could see the missiles inbound. It was a fallacy of course; the human eye couldn’t keep up with them when they were in flight. Only computers, with input from their human masters, were able to react to anything as fast as they were.
One of the missiles exploded over the central square less then a block from her palace. Nuclear-tipped it erupted into a cleansing flame, unleashing temperatures and radiation only seen in the heart of a star. Nothing built on a planet by man was capable of standing up against the fury of a nuclear warhead, and the city was obliterated.
Annihilated in the heat and radiation, Tomson never had time to feel any pain. Fifty million people did with her at the same time, the massive mushroom cloud rising over their city their only funeral marker.
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