Excerpt: Space Station Apocalypse
Dangling In Destiny
Dr. Eckhart dangled in the Destiny module. It made him feel safe to wander in there, like a rubber ball bouncing endless in a long test tube. There were no current experiments running inside the science racks but Dr. Eckhart hadn’t come to oversee any experiment. He stared longingly into the window, an unobstructed view from other modules and solar panels. He pretended that on the other side- orbiting one of those many stars- a similar mind from an alien world was staring straight back at him.
Dr. Eckhart wasn’t the happiest American on board the International Space Station, ISS. He was the only American, amongst two Russians, one Swede, two French and one Spaniard. While he would dabble to menial duties, the rest of his crewmates spent their time discussing the politics of the nation states. He had little in common with most of them. Ironically, he had more in common with the Algerian, but he had been rushed off the ISS. The Algerian government was so adamant about removing their man that they convinced China to send up a modified Xian H-10 stealth fighter to retrieve him.
It was strange for Eckhart to see the Xian. Before he became an astronaut, he had been a military pilot for six years. He had a close call with an earlier model during the Gold Rush War. Outside of that incident, he hadn’t seen one in service since then. When he had seen it approach the ISS, a moment passed when his heart skipped a beat as it aimed towards the docking port. Instinctively, his feet had pressed the pedals of his fighter, feeling nothing but the zero G air. Even after the modifications to the H-10, the bird was just as fat as he remembered, including the matte gray paint and blemished red stars.
Over the last twenty years, most of the nations had failed to fund their respective space missions and pooled their resources together into one collective Western Space Administration. By the time the ISS had been completed, it was already obsolete and decaying. The ISS was supposed to be decommissioned several times in the last 20 years, but they lacked the resources to construct a new one and to discharge the old. Just like Dr. Eckhart.
Eckhart had logged the most hours on the station, the same reason that Vice President Finn pressured him to accept another mission. While considering his retirement, he had received a few job offers outside of the Western Space Administration but he hadn’t perused them thoroughly. He knew himself well, retirement would be busy with something if he hadn’t found something to distract himself. He was never prone to sit around and watch life pass by.
The added mission before his retirement never troubled him until he surveyed his fellow crewmates. He had little in common with the younger generation of astronauts, with the exception of the commander who seemed to never retire. She aged gracefully…for a hag, thought Dr. Eckhart jokingly.
During his stay, they had spent their time repairing satellites, redirecting and upgrading them. The rest of the crew surveyed the violent fluctuations in the Earth’s climate. It was hard to believe the dramatic climate changes that systematically ravaged the world. He had lost two houses to floods and one in a wildfire, in the same city. Islands were underwater. Refugees were migrating to any shoreline. Food was difficult to sustain a routine cultivation, especially for a mass of nine billion people.
Something drifted towards the station; a small speck streaked between stars and approached the ISS. It was slow at first, barely noticeable. Its pattern seemed unnatural, excluding a random asteroid. His first thoughts concluded that it was another shuttle. He couldn’t remember anything scheduled for the next two days. No satellite interception or re-supply spacecraft were scheduled for rendezvous.
Dr. Eckhart floated towards the closest hatch and plucked the computerized clipboard from the wall. Rechecking the schedule, he thumbed through pages on the computer pad. He found no mention of the interception of a satellite for several days. He looked again through the porthole. As it got closer, he considered that it was the reflection of the ISS, but he knew that the windows had been treated with a non-reflective material. The object was real, and it was moving fast. Too fast.
“What is that?” One of the French scientists said from the other side of the module. His mustache twitched as he beckoned his fellow crewmates to come to the window.
There was something odd about it. It looked older than the ISS. Its components, the modules, the solar arrays, even the umbilical attachments were human-made but they seemed older, rusted and outdated. Its solar panels were flat-faced, unlike the newer convex panels that were replaced on the ISS, a concave glass designed to increase the photon exposure to the panels. The rogue station had thrice the number of voltaic solar arrays, making the station appear like a floating dandelion seed.
The scientists crowded into the Destiny module and quickly gawked at the monstrosity of metal hurtling towards them. Their fingers pressed against the glass as if they could touch the rogue space station. Using a handkerchief, the Spanish scientist wiped the smeared fingerprints from the window before blowing his nose.
“Is it Chinese?” asked the Russian.
“Are there any left? Wasn’t one destroyed and another abandoned? Drifting in the middle of space?” The Spaniard’s eyes were permanently attached to the window as he spoke.
The Russian scientist winced his right eye. “Lóngmén Shān was destroyed. Retaliation for our blessed motherland, for what they did to our comrades on the Aries.”
“There was no retaliation. It was an accident,” said the Swede.
The second Russian defended, “It was no accident! There was an Afghan on board.”
“That doesn’t mean he sabotaged the MPCV. There would be no reason to prevent it from reaching Mars.”
Commander Libertine flew passed Dr. Eckhart intending to join the crew on the opposite side of the module. Realizing it would have been impossible to catch a clear sight of the station, she turned back and joined the isolated American. She rotated upright and grabbed the clipboard from his hands as if scolding a child who was holding an axe. Her short hair was graying, her face showed sharp lines on the edges of her cheeks but she still retained a womanly handsomeness.
When she announced information to the crew, it always sounded like orders in her husky tone. “Whatever it is, it’s new. We need to report it. Watch for details as it passes. Anything might be useful to help us understand it. I have already contacted the governments. They are a flutter with questions and ideas. They’re chasing their tails and hissing accusations across their solid oak desks. We’ll have to wait until they settle down before we get a clear message from them. But for now, this is classified. No letters to home about this.”
“How do we know that? Can’t it be one of the other ones?” the Swede insisted.
“Tiangong sits in a museum, too big to return to space. They over-extended her structure and salvaged some of the modules for the Dìhuáng. The Dìhuáng remains abandoned. It drifts on an aggressive elliptical orbit. Most of the time, it is too far for any vessel to reach it. Once every other year, it can be boarded and used for a limited time. Last time, they tried to correct the problem and failed. The failure was blamed on the rigged pieces of the Tiangong. The pieces are too fussy together.”
The Spaniard sniffed his nose and pressed the handkerchief to it. “Another theory is something knocked it from its orbit on Dec 21, 2020.”
“I remember that. It was a big hype about it being a sign of the end of the world. Miscalculated from the Mayan date in 2012,” the Swede stated.
“Yeah, people can be real stupid. Anyhoo, the Dìhuáng is not scheduled for another nine months,” Commander Libertine assured.
“Certainly overcompensating with stations.” The Russian chuckled.
“They made them in bulk. Plenty of room for failure and open for a higher potential of success with the many over one.” Commander Libertine scrolled through the clipboard’s pages.
“The Xióng’er Shān is being built. It’s the only one left. Their finances may not allow them to finish,” Eckhart added and then stabbed a finger into the glass. “But that’s not it! It looks too old. Like it was built in the 90s.”
“It looks American,” the Russian said.
“That’s not ours.” Eckhart felt compelled to defend his nation’s sake as the only representative on board. “It’s not Skylab, but it looks similar to some of the designs. But that would put it in the 70s. And the further back we go, the more ridiculous it sounds.”
“Some secret operation perhaps? That your nation has not exposed?” accused the Russian.
“Not likely.” Eckhart twisted his head at an angle as the station hurtled closer. “The power is off.”
“It is at a strange angle. I find it unlikely that it has been orbiting at that steep of a rake. If it has passed our planet, like the Dìhuáng, a few somebodies would have spotted it with a pair of binoculars.” Commander Libertine came so close to the window, her nose touched the wall.
Dr. Eckhart snorted. “I was more concerned that it was going to hit us.”
“Are the cameras working?” the Russian asked.
“Actually I turned them off,” Commander Libertine answered.
“The internet connection for the world astronomy classes. The entire world would have seen it! It didn’t take long for the governments to agree that I should shut them off.”
“Someone get a camera,” the Spaniard demanded.
While the crowd of scientists were fixated with the station, the Swede became preoccupied with a nearby computer. He was typing away when he aggressively tapped a monitor as if to convince the computer that there was a mistake. “Ma’am, I’m getting a radiological alarm.” He added with some definition in his tone, “A hot one.”
by Jax E. Garson
Copyright 2011, 2013, 2014
Earth is on the verge of World War III… China has annexed Taiwan and other islands. Arab League has ousted the people of Israel, sending them away in ships. Militaries mount and prepare for war.
Year 2040, a space station appears in Earth‘s orbit. The station is twice the size of ISS and constructed with modules that are similar to Skylab and MIR. Confronted with the mysterious station built in the 20th century, the Western Space Administration sends a Special Forces team to investigate. But there is someone else interested in the station, backing the enemies of the west. It becomes a race between the western powers and the Chinese, Arab League and African Union.
Colonel Flagstaad is given command of a ragtag team of Special Forces. They train quickly for an operation in space with varied representatives from France, Great Britain, Russia, Israel, Denmark, America and Mexico. Even a dog! The Colonel must grit his teeth while training along side a daughter-in-law who hates him, a doctor who irritates him, and a Special Forces team of silly fools.
An imposter walks among them.
What are the answers to this mysterious station? Is it the sign of the end of the world? Will this race to secure the Blue Star station spark the beginning of WWIII?
Contains: adult themes, language, sexual terms and violence
Watch this Trailer: http://youtu.be/ZgHEze3zRIQ
military science fiction, end of the world, end times, science fiction, sci fi, syfy, one percent, climate change, 99 percent, economic collapse, jax e garson, kindle, ebook
Available on paperback: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1468041495