The Wall

Author : Benjamin Fischer

“The Americans’ new weapon is unstoppable, sir.”

The Admiral grunted. “That’s a bold claim, Commander Caswell,” he said, shifting in his deep leather chair before the wall of screens. “Care to expand on that?”

“We weren’t able to detect it, not even when we risked using radar,” winced Caswell. His right arm was in a sling, and he coughed softly after every sentence.

“So it came out of nowhere and destroyed your ship.”

“No sir, we had some warning,” continued Caswell. “Not every hit is a kill, sir. It’s the accumulated damage that destroyed us.”

“When did you know you were in trouble?” asked the Admiral.

“Ten seconds, sir. The first hull breach occurred then.”

The Admiral leaned in. “And before that? Why didn’t you run?”

“Sir, we couldn’t. Maneuver and clear the orbit, a minute at best. And by then we were crippled.”

“Your XO said it sounded like rain.”

“Yes. He said that a few times before he died,” said Caswell.

“Well, does it?”

“Sir. I was born on Luna. I’ve only seen rain in the movies.”

The Admiral grunted. Caswell was a true child of Diana–an incredible spaceship driver but dumb as a brick when it came to anything worth knowing.

“Commander, what size were these projectiles?”

“They were this size, sir.”

Caswell held out something resembling an a pair of black dice with his good left hand. The Admiral squinted and the cameras on the far end of his connection zoomed in on the pitch black cubes until they filled his screens. Six perfectly milled sides, manufactured out of maybe carbon chains, maybe vitreous fibers, maybe rare earths–the details weren’t important. They were transparent to the very best fire control radars and next to impossible to spot with anything else in the sensor suite of a spaceship.

“They hit you with a missile loaded with those?” asked the Admiral.

“No sir. They’ve already seeded the entire orbit,” said Caswell.

The Admiral sat back in his chair.

“The entire orbit?”

“Yessir. And they’ve got ships ready to hit more orbits. The Fleet needs to-”

“Thank you, Commander,” said the Admiral. “You do all of us on Luna proud.” He waved his finger and another face replaced the wounded officer.

“Captain Lothar, get Commander Caswell to a corpsman. See to it that he is sedated so that his wounds heal faster.”

“Yessir,” said the Captain, and he was just as quickly replaced by a burly and red-faced civilian.

“Chairman Franco,” smiled the Admiral. “Sir, I have news from Low Earth Orbit.”

“Yes, Marcus. I have been awaiting your report,” said the large man in his screens. “The Americans–they are moving ahead?”

“Yes.”

“This micrometeorite blockade. Is it all that Intel thinks it is?”

“Yes. I sent one of our strongest ships,” the Admiral responded. “It was unsuccessful.”

The Chairman mulled on this thought and then asked “Your intentions, Marcus?”

“If they want to build a wall, let them build a wall,” said the Admiral.

“Easy to say when one plans on helping them with the mortar,” the Chairman replied.

“I’ve told you, sir: the possibility remains that they might be able to slip missiles through that screen,” said the Admiral.

“And what of our abilities?” the Chairman said, raising an eyebrow.

The Admiral smiled. “Sir, we sit on top of the gravity well and throw rocks. Those things can dent our boulders all they like.”

The Chairman was silent again.

“Marcus,” he finally said, “Let our contribution join theirs.”

“Absolutely, sir,” said the Admiral, his weathered hands rolling a tiny black cube between them.

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