The events of the fleet went completely unnoticed in the NASA headquarters in Miami. One technician did pick up a sound recording but it was not enough evidence to put together a picture of the unbelievable events on board Saturn. Nevertheless, it was definitely something to report.
“Dr Grace?” The technician said politely.
Dr Grace looked up from his desk and walked over to the technician. “What is it?” He said patiently.
“We’re getting some disturbing sounds off the comm. System.” The technician explained.
“Play it.” Dr Grace ordered.
The technician pressed a replay button and the tape played. It was only short, about thirty seconds, but it was thirty seconds of horror. The tape consisted of loud gunfire, bloody screams, horrific noises, and if anyone knew of him, Captain James screaming in pain. The tape ended and static replaced the sounds of demise. The technician looked at Dr Grace who was frozen solid.
Meanwhile the Harpers were enjoying the first time they had been a family together in about six months. The last time they had been together was Sara’s 17th birthday, the next day Lucy Harper, known as Dr Harper to her colleagues, had jetted off to the United States to work on the Space City project which failed three months later, she immediately began working on the Saturn & Mars project so she had no time for her family. She cherished this moment, they could finally move back to Britain and she could continue her lecturing career at Southampton University. She had wanted to do something better with her family after not seeing them for almost a year, but as it was a Sunday and everything was shut, the only thing to do was get fast food.
Lt Harper had gone in to get the food, while Dr Harper, Sara and Jack sat in the car. There was an awkward silence. After almost a year apart there was so much to talk about but they didn’t know where to start. Dr Harper broke the silence with a simple question.
“So…How are you’re A-levels coming?” She asked.
“They’re okay” Jack said in that teenage way of answering a question without giving anything away.
Sara was more concerned with the food delay and had detached herself from the others in the car; she stared out the window, watching a silent image of her father leaning on a counter in McDonalds.
“How long can it possibly take to order three burgers?” Sara said angrily. She continued to watch her father lean against the counter, pointlessly reading the promotion posters on the wall.
Dr Harper’s phone suddenly beeped into life to the tune of her favourite song. She fumbled about in her purse, retrieved the phone and answered the call.
“Hello?” She said into the phone. Dr Grace was on the other end.
“Lucy, you’d better get down here. And be quick about it.” Dr Grace said urgently. Before she had time to reply Dr Grace had ended the call.
Dr Harper pressed the end call button on her phone and stared at the screen before putting it back into her purse.
Lt Harper opened the driver’s door of the car and climbed in. In his hand were three brown paper bags.
“Okay, who wanted chicken?” Lt Harper asked playfully.
“Decide later something’s happened at NASA.” Dr Harper said urgently.
Lt Harper gave the food to Jack who quickly checked all of the boxes for his McChicken Sandwich. Lt Harper started the car, waited for a few cars to pass, then took off down the street. Although it was an emergency, they didn’t break the speed limit, which meant driving at 55 mph.
Being from Britain and use to the possibility of 70, Lt Harper was quite annoyed by this restriction and was not afraid of showing his displeasure.
“Bloody American speed limits!” He yelled.
They pulled off the freeway and drove down to a complex surrounded by huge metal fences. A sign reading NASA INTERSTELLAR SPACE PROJECT COMMAND was strapped to one of the fences right next to the gate. The small Honda drove up to the gate and stopped. A guard came out of a small office and requested identification.
Dr Harper provided her NASA nametag and the guard let them through. The gate opened and the Honda drove up to the main complex.
“What is it?” Dr Harper asked Dr Grace.
“Listen for yourself” Dr Grace said. “Play the tape.” He said to the technician. The technician played the tape of the horror onboard the Saturn while Dr Harper, Sara, Jack and Lt Harper stood in disbelief.
Dr Harper couldn’t believe it. She didn’t know what to make of the tape. “Mutiny?” She said cautiously.
Lt Harper on the other hand had picked something up in the recording. “Wait, play it again.” Lt Harper asked the technician.
The technician pressed a button and replayed the tape. This was the sixth time he had heard the recording. He didn’t want to hear it again.
“I’ve never heard weapons like that before. I recognize one of them. Someone’s firing a MA5 pistol.” Lt Harper informed.
A second technician had just picked something up on his scanners. Whatever it was, it was huge. “Sir there’s a ship coming into view. Fast. It’s…it’s Saturn.” He said with a quiver in his voice.
Dr Grace, Dr Harper, Sara, Jack and Lt Harper ran outside to see what was happening. These events were completely unbelievable.
Outside everyone looked up to see a burning heap of metal hurtling towards a runway with a hanger filled with planes at the end of it. People started to run in all directions from the hanger as the one-mile long behemoth came careening towards it down the runway.
Saturn hit the runway and an earthquake erupted as the ship hit it. A huge pyroclastic flow of sand, dust and shards of metal came hurtling outwards from the crash and headed straight for the central complex. Any car, truck or person that got in its way was picked up and thrown across the facility towards the complex.
The group ran back inside just as a fuel truck went flying past. The group ran as deep into the building as they could. Hoping that nothing would penetrate the building walls that far. The building shook as the mass of debris scraped along the ground. Books and computers were thrown off their perches.
Saturn hit the hanger and a column of fire rose upwards as the planes and fuel tanks were crushed by the enormous weight of Saturn. Underneath the hanger was a research lab. The floor of the hanger acted as the ceiling to the lab. As it was not solid ground, the floor of the hanger gave way and Saturn plummeted into the lab. The hanger collapsed around the hole that Saturn had cause and the ship came to rest. People screamed in fear and then, there was silence. Dust fell from the walls of the complex. The group slowly came up from behind their cover. Lt Harper had forced everyone under a desk each. He was hiding in a doorway.
“Come on!” Lt Harper ordered.
Everyone ran outside to see the devastation that had just happened. It was like something out of a sci-fi movie. EES Saturn was sticking out of the ground, one quarter of it buried. The hanger it had crashed into was completely destroyed. The one part not damaged was the northern wall. The rest was a tangled mess of corrugated metal and steel beams.
“Oh dear God!” Dr Grace exclaimed.
“I’ll get in touch with the Pentagon.” Lt Harper said franticly. He ran to his car and got his mobile phone from the glove compartment. He flicked the phone open and began to type in a number.
Meanwhile Dr Grace, Dr Harper, Jack and Sara continued to stare dumbfounded and horrified at the behemoth ship sitting in front of them.
“Stay here.” Dr Harper said calmly to Sara and Jack.
“Okay.” They replied simultaneously, a quiver of fright in their voices. Dr Harper and Dr Grace ran towards the crash to get a closer inspection. They didn’t need to. There was no way you could miss a mile-long ship crashed into a hanger. Small fires were everywhere around the ship. Sparks flew from electricity cables that had been snapped by Saturn. Dr Grace turned around to see one of the technicians running towards him.
“Hey, Dr Grace!” The technician shouted.
“Yes?” Dr Grace replied still shocked from the crash.
“We just lost contact with the Mars colony.” The technician announced.
Dr Grace and Dr Harper looked at each other with worry. Could this get any worse for them?
At the same time, Lt Harper was having problems of his own, only his involved a clerk at the pentagon.
“You’ve got to get as many men here as possible, we have got to cordon this place off.” Lt Harper yelled down his phone. “No, for the last time I am not, repeat not interested in your newsletter! Just put me through to General Williams!” Lt Harper shouted at the clerk on the other end of the phone. He turned and looked at the burning heap of metal.