Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer
It wasn’t much. A rocky asteroid honeycombed with branching tunnels and storage chambers. Though predominantly a rocky body, it contained enough nickel and iron to shield its twelve inhabitants from hard radiation.
Though not the most distant of the Confederation’s outposts, this was by far the loneliest. The men were volunteers, carefully picked. They had no families. No living relatives. They possessed unswerving loyalty. They knew this assignment was a one way ticket.
The men had gathered in Assembly Hall, so called as it was the only chamber large enough to accommodate all of them at once. Though their grey uniforms were threadbare and patched in places, they were still kept clean and pressed. Despite the isolation of their posting, they maintained strict military discipline. All had undergone full depilation. While not official regulation, it was convenient and widely adopted by soldiers of the fleet.
Colonel John Davidson regarded his men with a rueful smile. All were highly trained and dedicated soldiers; a terrible waste, but the opportunity to save millions, perhaps billions, outweighed their existence. “Gentlemen, you already know the content of the message I received.” They nodded in unison. “It is becoming too costly in men and equipment to pursue the enemy throughout the system. We already knew that. That’s why we’re here.” The Colonel smiled. A grim chuckle rippled around the men.
“Captain Sokolov, I don’t have to ask if you have checked the mass drives.”
“The men and I just made an inspection fifteen minutes prior to this meeting. All components and systems have been checked. Mass payload has been checked. All is in order.”
“Of course it is Yuri. As it has been for the past five years.” This project was Colonel Davidson’s brainchild. After his family was killed in the first wave, he conceived the idea to smash an asteroid into Japan.
It hadn’t been hard to convince the Council to adopt his plan. “It will be considered an act of God. They won’t be able to blame us. If we launch out of Jupiter’s shadow, by the time they see us, it will all be over. Even if they manage to launch a warhead, it will be too little too late.” The plan was sound, cheap and easy. A perfect weapon.
“Gentleman, at 13:42 hours, we begin. You know the drill. Any final questions?”
A deafening, “Sir, no Sir,” roared from eleven throats. Never had men been so ready to lay down their lives.
The asteroid shuddered as thousands of tonnes of carefully prepared nickel/iron blocks were magnetically launched from the asteroid. No sooner had one projectile left the kilometre long barrel than another took its place. The constant launchings set up a vibration that resonated unpleasantly in the teeth of the men.
After thirty seven minutes, the firing ceased. The extraterrestrial bullet was Earth bound. Honshu, its final destination.
“Yes Lieutenant, what is it?”
“When were these calculations last updated?”
“They’ve been checked repeatedly since we left Earth.”
“Sir, were the tidal forces of Jupiter and Mars taken into account?”
“Yes, of course.”
“The impact of millions of infinitesimal objects over a period of time?”
“Simulations showed it wouldn’t matter significantly. Why?”
“We’re going to miss, Sir.”
“Miss? Well, even if we hit the sea, the resultant Tsunami should still do…,”
“We won’t hit the Sea of Japan, Sir.”
“Mainland China? That’s okay. There isn’t a square inch of China that isn’t populated.”
“Not China, Sir.”
“Well, where then damnit?”
“Sol, yes Sir.”
“The big glowey thing Sol?”
“Yes Sir. That Sol.”
“Hmmm… Well… That sucks.”
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