Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer
The Prometheus Station was an engineering marvel. Orbiting the Earth in a low altitude sun synchronous polar orbit, it did the impossible. Its six mammoth hyperspace siphons sucked more than a Zettajoule of energy directly from the sun’s core, converted it to columnar microwaves, and transmitting it to thousands of receiving stations on the Earth’s surface. This station, and its twin orbiting 180 degrees behind her, provided Earth with all the energy its ten billion inhabitants craved.
As Hellen Sappho relieved her alpha shift counterpart at the Prometheus Station’s Command and Control console, she glanced at the calendar wall clock on the inboard bulkhead. It read Sunday, March 20, 06:00. She then turned to the large viewport and watched the Earth as it rotated serenely some 500 miles below. The daylight terminator was slowly traversing the Rocky Mountains in the western half of the United States. In a few minutes, she noted, the sun would be rising over her hometown of Eagle City, Utah.
Sappho’s peaceful repose was interrupted by the ear piercing variable whine of the emergency klaxon. With catlike reflexes refined by years of intense training, she quickly assessed the nature of the impending threat. The proximity sensors had detected an incoming object, and it was on a collision course. Sappho diverted all available power to the station’s deflectors, but she could see it wouldn’t be enough. Quickly, she closed all of the decompression bulkheads, and activated the emergency distress signal. Seconds later, a fifty foot meteoroid slammed into the habitation section, ripping a gaping hole, and instantly killing dozens of her friends and colleagues. The shock wave raced through the station, testing the very limits of its structural integrity. Sparks erupted from her console, as the shock wave knocked her to the deck. Sappho tasted blood as she climbed back into her chair. She opened a comm link. “C&C to Engineering. Status? Engineering, report.” No reply, not even static. “Control to Power Conversion. Report.” Again, silence. That’s when she looked out the viewport, and realized the real terror that the asteroid had unleashed.
The targeting arrays were misaligned, and the safeties had failed to shut down the hyperspace siphons. As Sappho watched, hundreds of intense microwave beams scorched swaths of hellfire on the surface of the Earth as it rotated beneath the Station. Forests burned and oceans boiled. Millions of people were being roasted alive, and billions more would join them if Sappho couldn’t shut down the siphons. Trapped in the Control Section, she feverishly tried every protocol in the manual, and many more that were not. Nothing she did could stop the station from sucking energy from the sun’s core. As the hours passed, her frustration grew, and the Station continued to transmit death rays upon the helpless souls below.
More than half the Earth had been destroyed when she conceived a new plan that was born in desperation; unsure of the consequences, she fussed the conduits that transferred the power from the siphons to the transmitting array. Without the array to release the unimaginable power being siphoned from the sun, the Prometheus Station reached a critical point where it exploded with such intensity that it ruptured the very fabric of space-time. For a brief instant, yesterday, today, and tomorrow merged into a fog of chaos. Slowly, as the continuum repaired itself, the river of time began to flow again…
As Hellen Sappho relieved her alpha shift counterpart at the Prometheus Station’s Command and Control console, she glanced at the calendar wall clock on the inboard bulkhead. It read Sunday, March 20, 06:00.
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