Happenstance, an excerpt

by phil sheehan

Unfortunately, after hours of trying to reconstruct their flight path, Platsys was still not able to determine where they were. None of the constellations in the sky made sense; nothing looked familiar. He knew that changes in constellation shapes were expected after travelling across space, but in this case, there was nothing that resembled any of the constellations he was familiar with.

However, he did uncover one piece of staggering news relative to the ship’s time log. As best he could ascertain, they had been in their G-Cells for more than 500 years! … Five hundred years. Flysst immediately assumed he made a calculation error, but he re-analyzed the data five times, getting the same answer each time. It was incomprehensible, but that was what the data said.

“Gentlemen, the attack is a go. This op is code-named Whiplash,” the CIA director relayed as he hung up the call from the White House. “We have received independent collaboration from our mole inside the Arak facility. This is the real deal, seven nuclear missiles on the way to the U.S. Five of the trucks are being tracked with 100 percent probability of certainty, the other two are p50 as we had no way of verifying what stayed on the truck, or was removed while the two trucks were under roof in the truck depot. An airborne X-ray surveillance system completed a flyover of the two trucks in question 30 minutes ago and verified that they contain similar shapes within the truck bed. Unfortunately, the two remaining trucks at the depot also depict the same missile-shaped footprint. To ensure that all units are taken out, the target field has been expanded to nine trucks. Lieutenant, what is our missile status?”

“Sir, the initial attack waves will utilize BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles from four separate submarines. The follow up, if necessary, will be by Israeli F-16s and our F-35C Lightning II fighters on the USS George H.W. Bush CVN-77. Assuming the trucks are successfully taken out on the initial attacks, the planes will be re-assigned to take out the nuclear facilities at Arak. Probability of success exceeds 90 percent, sir. In case of failure, we have a second wave of missile launches and aircraft ready, but the element of surprise would obviously be lost at that point.”

“Load the coordinates and launch the Tomahawks,” the CIA director ordered. “I want at least three Tomahawks for each truck, double redundancy to increase the probability of success. Elevate to battle stations for the aircrews. Let me know when the Israelis are airborne as they will need to be ready to launch as soon as we know status from the first wave. There will likely be some collateral damage, so make sure the White House is prepped.”

Within 30 minutes, salvos of cruise missiles were launched from four U.S. submarines in the Arabian Sea. The launches were conducted in groups and timed with the intent for all missiles to arrive at their targets simultaneously, thereby negating any subsequent movement by the surviving trucks.

All they could do now was wait and watch the clock.


 

***

 

In one fluid motion, Diego slid his chair back, flipped the table to the left and covered the three feet to the leader in the blink of an eye. The table and flying glasses were a diversionary tactic to buy an extra second or two of free time before anyone else could react, as well as to provide a natural barrier between him and anyone to his left during the initial seconds of the melee. The leader now had his Ka-Bar military style knife up to waist level, but not in proper position to utilize it efficiently. Definitely not trained, Diego noted.

The surprise move caught the lead gang member off guard and he had frozen in place for one brief moment, but one moment was more than adequate for Diego. In a continually flowing motion, Diego provided a quick strike with the edge of his hand to the man’s Adam’s apple. The leader immediately dropped his knife and began clutching at his damaged throat. Diego spun to his right and somersaulted off the back of Jose’s chair, connecting with the second gang member and locked his legs around his neck. The vault carried his full weight past the second gang member, with his legs still wrapped around the man’s neck. Diego applied one simple but sharp rotation of his thighs and waist, snapping the man’s neck. Diego released his hold and completed the vault. The assailant’s body dropped to the floor. 

The surprise move left the other three members dazed for an additional split second, which in turn provided Diego enough time to roll back toward them. As he rolled, he sideswiped the gang member who had been to the left of the leader, knocking him to the floor while simultaneously grabbing the leader’s Ka-Bar knife off the floor and thrusting it up into the groin of the next man to his left. That gang member had been in the process of pulling what looked like a Glock 17 out of his jacket, but immediately howled and released the Glock. Diego caught the gun in midair while spinning up to a kneeling position, quickly shooting the last man on the left in the head with his initial shot. 

He panned right and snapped off two shots into the bleeding gang member, while continuing his movement to the right where he pumped two shots into the chest of the man trying to get back up from the floor. Only the leader was left, now on his knees, still gasping and holding his throat. He had watched it all in disbelief. Diego waited five long seconds, waiting for him to absorb the end of his wretched reign while looking deep into the man’s eyes, hoping to find some hint of humanity. None. Diego shot him, once, directly between the eyes and the ex-leader joined the other four on the floor. Five gang bangers dead. The entire exchange had lasted less than two minutes. 

 

***

 

“Blake, apparently, we may be in a race to the object.”

“What?”

“Houston has been so engrossed with tracking our progress, as well as that of the Reagan I, that they didn’t detect a new launch that appears to be heading our way – until just recently.”

“Damn. Where did the launch come from?”

“They aren’t sure yet, Blake, but as crazy as this will sound, they think it came from the moon.”

“The moon? Are they thinking that this might be another alien ship?”

“They aren’t sure about that, but the ship does appear to be faster than ours. Best estimates suggest it launched 10 days after we did, but it has already cut our lead in the race for Pluto. Houston expects that at the current velocities of the two ships, the new ship will definitely catch us before we reach the object.”

Blake looked quietly out the control room window at the stars ahead. Jupiter was actually looking big enough to easily separate itself from the star field. The stars were beautiful, but the night sky ahead of them was quiet and lonely. What had he gotten into, and on an unproven, unknown potential battlefield without any of his normal weapons, tools or teammates. First an alien ship. Then a device on Mars. Followed by a potential Al Qaeda threat. Now an unknown second ship.

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