Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer
The five member crew of the ISS watched in rapt horror as 425 miles below them miniature stars blossomed upon the Earth’s surface.
This can’t be happening. It’s not real, Dr. Irena Mikhailovich whispered. Her tears failed to stream down her delicate cheek. Instead they separated with every blink of her eyes and floated before her.
Captain Roger Launius, USAF, hovered beside her watching the events unfold. There goes D.C.. New York just bought it. Well, how about that? Looks like we’re landing at Edwards. Nope, spoke too soon.
How can you be so damn cavalier? She said, turning on him angrily. Our world is destroying itself and we’re helpless to do anything about it.
He shrugged. First of all, the world is not destroying itself. Humanity is. Terra will be just fine. She’s seen far worse than this. Secondly, what can we do? They’ve bigger things on their minds. They’ve forgotten about us. Right ‘Moto?
Yoshi Moromoto pulled the comlink from behind his right ear and replied. Looks that way boss. There’s a lot of chatter down there, but so far none of it’s aimed at us.
Launius sighed. The problem is, what are we going to do? It doesn’t look like Australia has been hit. Maybe we could set down at Amberly.
The normally reticent medical officer, Carmen Espinoza, spoke softly. Do we really want to go back?
Seriously, what’s there to go back to? A global dark age? No thank you.
She’s got a point, Cap. Besides, even if Amberly is available. It’s impossible to land that crate without ground guidance. We can’t even raise the Aussies let alone get landing guidance from them, said Marcus Flannery, the crew’s resident physicist.
What about the ACRV. It’s pre-programmed to return. No ground crew needed.
Firstly, the automated crew return vehicle only holds three. Do you want to pick who goes back and who stays? Secondly, it’s programmed to land in the middle of the Siberian steppes. It’s winter down there. Do you want to be stuck out there with no ride back to Baikonur? Captain Launius replied flatly.
We could use it to push the station. All eyes turned to Dr. Mikhailovich. What? Why are you looking at me like that? What are our choices? Crash the shuttle in Australia? Freeze to death in Siberia while two remain behind to starve, or stay and starve right here? If we fire the ACRV we could move into a degrading orbit and… well… it would be quick.
We may have another option. ‘Moto said looking turning away from the plasma display. I have something on radar closing fast. He checked his screen again, confused. Judging by the trajectory, it boosted from out here, in orbit. We should be able to see it in just a matter of moments.
The five astronauts raced for the cupola to catch a glimpse of the incoming object.
They haven’t forgotten us, Carmen squealed, as the object came into view.
Realization sunk in. No, they haven’t forgotten us. They never planned to forget us, Captain Launius replied.
The weapon detonated, embracing the International Space Station and her crew in the warmth of thermonuclear fire.