The screeching alarm woke up the command watch on duty in the control room. Last night the poker game was longer than expected, and adding in dancing girls to the mix made it run even longer. Commander Jordan squinted at the readouts on his console. Damn that Michaleen Flynn. That whiskey he sloshes about is the God’s worst. That was all the commander could think about. Making and drinking various forms of Irish Whiskey was a national sport on Celtica. He squinted at the console again. That cannot be right he thought to himself.
Thump! He whacked the console with his fist and regretted every moment of it. His head was killing him! No more whiskey late at night! He knew he was lying to himself as soon as he thought it. He shook his head to clear it, there was no way those readouts were right. He punched a button and the information transferred to the main screen. According to sensors, a large fleet of unknown ships just jumped into the system. Squinting at the readouts a second time he cursed. Not a lie and not anything they had in the area, unless Siobhan was back from patrol early. That wasn’t likely. For the moment the ships were just sitting on the edge of Celtica space. He stretched his arms out in another attempt to wake up. Feck! The Taoiseach was going to freak! Reluctantly he hit the emergency button on the top of his station.
Loud alarms began to sound. Very loud alarms. His ears ringing, Commander Jordan immediately regretted hitting the button. He looked down as a voice from the floor began to yell and winced.
“What the fecking hell! Eddie turn it off! For gods sake and the state of my poor brain please turn it off!” Lieutenant Forbes was under his desk moaning in pain. He watched the man clutch his head and pass back out. Wimp!
A small older man staggered into the room and fell against his desk. “Is this your punishment for the whiskey? Just shoot me now then because my fecking head is about to explode!” Michaleen Flynn was only a Lieutenant at the moment. He had achieved the rank of Captain twice only to be demoted back to lieutenant after being caught drinking the rotgut he makes and sells on duty. Like now.
“Michaleen, get on your console! A large fleet just jumped into the system and it’s not one of ours!”
“The Hell you say! Don’t they know this is Monday?” The little man rubbed his head and moaned. His headache had returned and he felt like he was going to be sick. “Oh, Feck! Have you told herself yet?”
The Commander looked over at his crewman. “I was just about to send the message. I thought maybe the alarm might have told her already.”
Michaleen shook his head. “No, she disconnected that button over there. It only sounds in here. She wanted a live person to tell her news, not a machine. She has trust issues.”
“None of us are alive in here.” He looked around the room. The rest of his unit were still all passed out on the floor or on desks. “They are too hung over for that! OK, I’ll contact her. Maybe she won’t shoot me.” He hit a sequence of buttons on his console and waited for a moment.
A screaming woman’s voice came over the comm causing those in the command center to clutch their heads in pain, again. “What the Fecking Hell made you call me at this Fecking hour? Did you not realize what Fecking hour this is? I was up half the night celebrating the wedding of my daughter! So what is so fecking important you lazy bastards!”
“Kate! A huge fleet just popped up in sector eight!” The officer prayed she wouldn’t shoot him.
“What! You better not be lying to me! Whose ships are they? Sent the alert signal, wake those lazy bastards up and get them in air! Tell them to stick to the planet until we figure what we are dealing with here.”
The commander kicked the lieutenant hard in his gut. “Get you lazy drunk ass Up! We have work to do!” He stepped over the the drunkards station and punched in an override code. Sirens began echoing across every settlement on the planet.
Celtica was one of the last planets settled during the United Nations forced settlement phase. Entire neighborhoods were swept up in raid and packed on board ships and sent to space. When it was Ireland’s time they took from both the North and the South regardless of religion or creed. It may have been on purpose. Like many of the other colony ships in this period the ship was incredibly overbooked. Ten thousand were expected to die after the first jump regardless. Space travel was for the young, at least in those early days.
That estimate was very low for those unlucky colonists on the UN ship Boyne. More than fifteen thousand died during and after the first jump. Many of the suburbs and high population areas that were pillaged for colonists were retirement communities. After the mass funeral and body disposal began the war for who is right and who is wrong. North vs South, the Irish made war upon each other inside the shell of the colony ship. The Gen-Mod pilots and crew could only watch in horror as the potential colonists made war upon each other. It wasn’t just religious or politics that fed the violence. Battles were fought over control of food, better cabins, and access to the crew. Fighting Irish was not just a term of endearment. Of the forty thousand settlers that left Earth only twenty thousand or so survived the trip mostly young adults and children. The ships crew off-loaded them as quickly as possible. The heartbreaking decision that many ships colonists had to deal with was taken out of their hands. The Boyne’s Captain and crew didn’t tell the colonists that the elderly wouldn’t survive the trip down and sent them anyway. To the colonists this became one more way that the UN and British were conquering them. At least to them they saw it that way.
As soon as they were offloaded the pilots sent the ship into a death spiral aimed at the sun and left in a small scout ship. Leaving ship technology in the hands of warlike colonists was forbidden. For almost forty years they were completely forgotten about by the galaxy at large. Until one day a small freighter detected the colony and came down for visit.
Thursday, October 6, 2016
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