Author : D.H. Arnold

Okay, don’t panic, you’re not dead yet, get a grip, dammit, DON’T PANIC!

God, how I hate that cliché in movies where someone in ZedGee space pauses to note the beauty and wonder of the planet above which they float. God, I hate those movies, I hate this, why the hell am I dying like this, are you out there, help!

Don’t panic! Focus!

Okay, you’re not bleeding, everything seems to be working, fat lot of good it does me at twenty two klicks above the planet. You’ve got a fallsuit on, you had time enough after the integrity klaxons went of to get one on. You’ve got at least 30 minutes of life support, maybe more if you Don’t Panic!

Life support is nominal; charge steady at 97%. Time to start working on saving your life, here. Check the radio and ansible locator output.

Perfect – 3% charge. That’s it, I’m dead.

My orbit shouldn’t decay for a while. I might get lucky, get spotted by rescue transports from the station or those on the way up.

Or not… what the hell?

Dear God – the whole thing is collapsing – breaking apart, shattering into.. so many pieces…

Skytowers CAN’T collapse, they’re engineered to withstand anything short of… deliberate…

Someone blew up the Tower.

No, no, that’s crazy, why would anyone blow up a Skytower? Who would deliberately kill…

What the? That was the Anchor Station! No! No! No!

Close your eyes. Get a grip. Don’t Panic.

This isn’t the way this was supposed to end. Join the Vend, see the galaxy, find ways to help sentient races flourish without slaughtering and desecrating everything around us. That’s what the Vend IS!

How does one minute feel like an hour? Please, someone…

The lower portions of the Tower are getting dragged into the denser parts of the atmosphere and eventually onto the planet. Different materials give off different colors as the friction of reentry and the plasma of the radiation belts tear the molecular structures of the tower to their component atoms. Mostly orange, yellow and red, but the occasional purple and green and blue flare then vanish, giving variety to the death throes of over 7 million people and their home. If this was a meteor shower, it would be beautiful.

The death of millions shouldn’t be pretty.

Don’t panic, don’t vomit, just… don’t!

Well, there’re the first flares of planet-based rescue ships. Not holding my breath for those, too much dodging as they’re re-computing lift loads and flight paths to avoid station debris bigger than they are while maximizing thrust upwards. They might be evac-lifts, though. That much debris planetside will have horrible consequences if they were ready for it; this might be it for Parabus V for a good long time.

More flashes of light but above – debris colliding with ships, other debris, electrical systems breaching and electrons running for cover. Face it, kid, you’re done. Rescuing anyone in this much debris isn’t going to happen with the few shuttles and transports in the sector. You’re one of maybe 2 million left alive and in free-fall – the three million in Anchor have to be dead, anyone below 19 klicks is already flying to meet the ground. Lucky you, Goldilocks.

Funny.. you realize you’re done, and now you’re not panicking anymore.

For the record, God, this sucks.

See you soon. I hope. Save a place at the table.

I feel warm.

I hope I’m beautiful when I burn.

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