Friday, 5 November 2010


From the denouement of 'The sky full of stars'
Incandescent, unfiltered sunlight brought him to his senses as his orbit swung Baskerville One out of Earths shadow. Still panting, Richard pulled himself carefully into the upper cabin airlock, unclipped the safety line and let the now-dead Cyborg float away to join the rest of the orbiting space junk.

Returning to the control cabin, he closed the airlock, crawled into his command chair and strapped himself in. He stared at another ‘incoming message’ icon and tapped the screen to cancel the alert. He looked at the atmosphere and fuel readings again.

Exhausted with stress, he tried to think straight. There could be no peace for him while he lived. That much was obvious. He looked at the readings again, then at the sunlit Earth beneath. Not much of a choice really. Stay here and die of suffocation in the next two weeks, or do something. Stop running and strike back.

He checked the fuel readings again. Just enough for one last, quick and dirty fireball re-entry.

“I’m dead.” He said simply to himself. “Fuck it. I’m just dead.” He shook his head slightly. Any way you added up the figures it all came to the same answer.

Slowly and deliberately, he began to turn Baskerville one nose down towards the Earth then fired the braking thrusters. “Might as well.” Everything he knew and loved was gone, burned and destroyed, and for what; so some fat greasy bureaucrat could strut about like some overweight Turkey cock because he or she could make you do exactly what they wanted, no matter how stupid it was. So some politician could expand his power and influence, then claim he was doing it ‘for the faithful’? Lying bastards, Richard thought bitterly before he corrected the delta-v and made a few rough mental calculations. He put one hand on the manual attitude control and the other on the manual throttles. “Ready or not, here I come.” He said calmly. Baskerville one began to lose altitude and the scrolling on screen altitude overlay began to spin like a hyperactive slot machine. He engaged the secondary drive and let that deal with the friction heat of re-entry for a while. Four percent reactor fuel, Ninety three percent battery. Reactors and VASIMIR drive at full power. Internal atmosphere point eight bar, O2 nominal. All other functions marginal at best. Two minutes to impact. He idly wondered if the remaining hydrogen in his fuel tanks would fuse and detonate when he hit. It would all be academic anyway. A simple impact would at the very least kill him, and that would solve everyone’s problems. Hah!

The screen relayed the image of central Brussels, a building by a park with a brown watered lake at full magnification, looming larger by the second. He reset the targeting software to a new impact point, scrolling back the magnification as Baskerville one screamed down through the stratosphere. Still in his EVA suit with the backpack running Richard casually folded his arms and leisurely watched the ground approach as if this was some unconvincing virtual entertainment show and not certain death.

There were ordinary, honest people down there, but they were all guilty by association, all part of the massive bureaucratic machine that ground others down into nothing. Lawyers and politicians all. He was doing himself and the world a bloody big favour. Screw me, screw them, and screw them all. Useless totalitarian bastards. “Mum, Dad. Vicky, Tiggy. I’m coming home.” He said softly, a single tear tracking across his right cheek and down the side of his face.
* * *
Baskerville one’s stubby black torpedo hull soundlessly punched through the clouds at over a kilometre a second, outpacing the sound of it’s grumbling hypersonic shockwave. With the suddenness of a searchlight, in the middle of a pleasant midweek Brussels morning a massive fireball bloomed at the junction of Wetstraat and Kortenberglan, right over the old Kortenbergtunnel.

In the same moment the massive bulk of the oval EuropStaat building ceased to exist and all of the surrounding Ministerial Palaces shredded within a nanosecond along with the living bodies of a half million EuroGov office workers. Within the primary impact zone everything was reduced to superheated dust.

Another five kilometres from the epicentre the detonation’s shockwave blew out windows and shattered loose masonry like a nuclear fireball, the friction heat shock starting small spontaneous fires. Glass sided office buildings became death traps for the government workers and officials within. Supersonic shardstorms of glass fragments like glittering shotgun pellets shredding anything remotely organic in their path. A massive shockwave propelled incandescent air through the underground heart of the city. The ornate domed central Gaian Temple blew away like it was made of paper, ancient Churches toppled as though made of sand, and the ground for five kilometres momentarily boiled as though it was water. Nothing survived.

At it’s epicentre the detonation instantly created a three kilometre wide crater almost half a kilometre deep surrounded by a forty metre high bund of debris, walls steaming and glowing in a myriad places. In the centre a small pool of lava surrounded by fused soil and rock oozed and began cooling. After a few moments, water from underground aquifers began flooding into the massive hole, flash boiling into sudden jets of steam as it ran over molten rock, which was already making loud pinking noises as it cooled.

A huge dust pall mushroomed up above the stricken city, punching through the clouds towards the stratosphere. Shockwaves and groundwaves rumbled out at the speed of sound, knocking people off their feet at up to forty kilometres away, raising a five metre tsunami running west and northwards from the Belgian coast. Up to a further twenty kilometres away people caught out in the open suffered nosebleeds and went temporarily deaf. Buildings shook, some tumbled.

Minutes later, from Margate and Broadstairs in the South to Scarborough in the north, deserted English beaches were inundated by a five-metre tsunami. Low lying coastal towns like Lowestoft were completely washed off the map. Square kilometres of land were washed away; Dykes burst, rivers flowed backwards, and land flooded as far west as Ely. Holland suffered worse as a massive tidal surge almost instantly destroyed its sea defences and inundated the fecund polders it’s sea dykes had once protected.
* * *
The last remaining Geostationary Weather Satellite recorded the event from above. President Friedman stared at the relayed image of the blossoming mushroom cloud that was once the European capital in horror. “Oh my dear God.” He breathed. “What have we done? What have we done?”

Vincent Dern, standing quite still in the Oval office, broke the horrified silence. “Only what we were pushed into doing sir. Only what they made us do.” Hamilton looked shocked then glanced reprovingly at the White House Chief of Staff. Vincent raised a bushy salt and pepper eyebrow and shrugged as he looked stoically back at the wall screen relay. Friedman could only stare hopelessly at the emerging devastation

That concludes this evenings Nov 5th blog fireworks...

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