Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer
After unimaginable losses, The Earth Alliance was still unable to breach the Draconian military installation on Hydrae II. The fortress sat safely within a walled city that was protected by sixteen electrostatic cannons strategically placed around the perimeter. When fired, the cannons projected an attenuated subspace energy wave that caused the electrical bonds between atoms to vibrate out of control; similar in some respects to the way microwaves cause water molecules to vibrate in order to produce heat. When the spectrographic sensors identified the target material, the electrostatic cannons fired a specific frequency wave to break the appropriated atomic bonds, i.e., either metallic, covalent, or ionic, depending on whether the material was a metal, polymer, or ceramic. Once the bonds were broken, the object harmlessly disintegrates into its constituent atoms. Any atoms that might be intrinsically harmful, such as radioactive ones like uranium and plutonium, were repelled by the nucleonic deflector shield. Conventional military tactics appeared useless against the Draconian defenses.
After months of brainstorming, a young chemist proposed an unorthodox solution. Although few senior scientists thought the plan would work, it was eventually approved; mostly because nobody could come up with anything better.
A few weeks later, a 250,000 ton computer controlled space freighter was brought into geosynchronous orbit above the Draconian installation. As dawn approached, the on-board computer fired its massive thrusters to begin the deorbiting sequence. The new flight path caused the ship to drop vertically downward toward the military installation. When the freighter passed the Kármán line, the Draconian spectrographic sensors detected the exterior PICA shielding of the spaceship and the electrostatic cannons began to fire. As the covalent bonds were destroyed, the phenolic impregnated carbon layer instantly spalled away. The spectrograph and cannons continued to rapidly detect, and subsequently attack, the successive layers of the ship. Seconds later, the titanium support structure disintegrated. Then the silicon and oxygen atoms were ripped from the fiberglass insulation. The interior sub-structure, including the aluminum bulkheads, copper wires, steel nuts and bolts, etc., progressively disappeared as their metallic cohesion was lost. Eventually, the cannons reached the cargo holds. Wooden crates filled with solid potassium, coal, and sulfur were all vaporized in quick succession. Finally, the oxygen and hydrogen fuel tanks, the nitrogen purge tanks, a briquette of metallic sodium, and the steel engines were all atomized. In less than a minute, the ship was gone, and the sixteen electrostatic cannons powered down. The Draconians cheered, and mocked the Earthlings once again for their continued impotence.
But slowly, the original momentum of the plummeting ship continued to carry the cloud of dispersing atoms ever downward toward the Draconian fortress. The atomic gasses rolled into the city and through the streets. Finally, when the sodium atoms contacted the morning dew they started an exothermal reaction that caused the oxygenated atmosphere to spontaneously react with the thousands of tons of carbon, potassium, and sulfur that had once been inside the cargo hold. In a tumultuous fireball that could be seen from space, the payload exploded with the force of a nuclear bomb. The churning mushroom cloud turned itself inside out as it swirled upward from the leveled city. This time, there were no Draconians to mock the Earthmen.
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