Author : Benjamin Fischer
â€œThe Americansâ€™ new weapon is unstoppable, sir.â€
The Admiral grunted. â€œThatâ€™s a bold claim, Commander Caswell,â€ he said, shifting in his deep leather chair before the wall of screens. â€œCare to expand on that?â€
â€œWe werenâ€™t able to detect it, not even when we risked using radar,â€ winced Caswell. His right arm was in a sling, and he coughed softly after every sentence.
â€œSo it came out of nowhere and destroyed your ship.â€
â€œNo sir, we had some warning,â€ continued Caswell. â€œNot every hit is a kill, sir. Itâ€™s the accumulated damage that destroyed us.â€
â€œWhen did you know you were in trouble?â€ asked the Admiral.
â€œTen seconds, sir. The first hull breach occurred then.â€
The Admiral leaned in. â€œAnd before that? Why didnâ€™t you run?â€
â€œSir, we couldnâ€™t. Maneuver and clear the orbit, a minute at best. And by then we were crippled.â€
â€œYour XO said it sounded like rain.â€
â€œYes. He said that a few times before he died,â€ said Caswell.
â€œWell, does it?â€
â€œSir. I was born on Luna. Iâ€™ve only seen rain in the movies.â€
The Admiral grunted. Caswell was a true child of Diana–an incredible spaceship driver but dumb as a brick when it came to anything worth knowing.
â€œCommander, what size were these projectiles?â€
â€œThey were this size, sir.â€
Caswell held out something resembling an a pair of black dice with his good left hand. The Admiral squinted and the cameras on the far end of his connection zoomed in on the pitch black cubes until they filled his screens. Six perfectly milled sides, manufactured out of maybe carbon chains, maybe vitreous fibers, maybe rare earths–the details werenâ€™t important. They were transparent to the very best fire control radars and next to impossible to spot with anything else in the sensor suite of a spaceship.
â€œThey hit you with a missile loaded with those?â€ asked the Admiral.
â€œNo sir. Theyâ€™ve already seeded the entire orbit,â€ said Caswell.
The Admiral sat back in his chair.
â€œThe entire orbit?â€
â€œYessir. And theyâ€™ve got ships ready to hit more orbits. The Fleet needs to-â€
â€œThank you, Commander,â€ said the Admiral. â€œYou do all of us on Luna proud.â€ He waved his finger and another face replaced the wounded officer.
â€œCaptain Lothar, get Commander Caswell to a corpsman. See to it that he is sedated so that his wounds heal faster.â€
â€œYessir,â€ said the Captain, and he was just as quickly replaced by a burly and red-faced civilian.
â€œChairman Franco,â€ smiled the Admiral. â€œSir, I have news from Low Earth Orbit.â€
â€œYes, Marcus. I have been awaiting your report,â€ said the large man in his screens. â€œThe Americans–they are moving ahead?â€
â€œThis micrometeorite blockade. Is it all that Intel thinks it is?â€
â€œYes. I sent one of our strongest ships,â€ the Admiral responded. â€œIt was unsuccessful.â€
The Chairman mulled on this thought and then asked â€œYour intentions, Marcus?â€
â€œIf they want to build a wall, let them build a wall,â€ said the Admiral.
â€œEasy to say when one plans on helping them with the mortar,â€ the Chairman replied.
â€œIâ€™ve told you, sir: the possibility remains that they might be able to slip missiles through that screen,â€ said the Admiral.
â€œAnd what of our abilities?â€ the Chairman said, raising an eyebrow.
The Admiral smiled. â€œSir, we sit on top of the gravity well and throw rocks. Those things can dent our boulders all they like.â€
The Chairman was silent again.
â€œMarcus,â€ he finally said, â€œLet our contribution join theirs.â€
â€œAbsolutely, sir,â€ said the Admiral, his weathered hands rolling a tiny black cube between them.