I don't normally tell you this, but SPOILER ALERT!
Shit has gone down. Things are happening. Here is an extremely rough snippet from book five. Happy Thanksgiving, folks.
After activating several video panels, Jane said, “Doctor Pan was right. The colony sites are being bombarded with debris. The multipurpose orbitals are hitting everything they can, but there are literally millions of pieces large enough to do damage. We are trying to evacuate ahead of the onslaught, but it’s a losing battle.”
“Father, I have begun to track the wreckage. We will lose structural integrity at all six colony sites. The agricultural domes at Scorpion Station will be heavily damaged as well.”
Cort held his hand up and silenced his son. “Ares, go ahead.”
“It’s still me, Father. I can begin locking down colony sections that are in danger, but they have not been completely evacuated yet. Furthermore, to do so will expose my new command abilities. What do you wish?”
Cort was momentarily confused by listening to George’s voice while the avatar was not speaking, but he hid the surprise and said, “ Thank you. Ares out.”
He looked down at George and said, “Can you predict where the impacts will be?”
“I am compiling the impact sites now. We cannot evacuate the vulnerable colony modules quickly enough to maintain necessary atmosphere for survivors.”
Cort said, “So we can lose a few, or we can lose a lot. We have to condemn some of the colonists.”
“Yes, Father. And every moment we wait will cost us more lives.”
“Jade, send the Mars module command codes to George right now so he can start locking down the vulnerable modules. George, prioritize the targets for the orbitals, and ignore any debris that is not headed for inhabited areas.”
“General,” Rand said as he walked into the room, “Are those lockdown areas evacuated?”
“No. But if we don’t lock them down now, we will lose a lot more peo…”
“Oh my gods!” Jade interrupted.
Cort looked up at the screen in time to see the base at Oxia Palus begin to take its share of the bombardment. Colony modules were knocked off their anchor rails, disconnecting from the colony grid. Then there was an explosion. Three more modules exploded before a fourth rolled to its side and broke the train of fire traveling through the colony. The conference room was silent as the government of the Ares Federation watched one of its original colonies be destroyed by debris from the planet’s shattered moon. Only George was not stilled. Deep in his core, kilometers below the surface of Mars, he meticulously tracked and targeted millions of fragments, all while locking down one module after another, condemning humans, Jaifans, and Nill to death.
He looked at Cort and said, “I am killing them, Father.”
“No George,” Cort said as he looked down at the boy. He put his arm around George’s shoulders and and added, “Those rocks and pieces of ships are killing people. I am killing people. You are just doing what I told you to do. And we are both saving lives. People would die if you don’t do what I told you to.”
Jaif walked into the room, and looked from the screen to Cort. “Is there nothing we can do?”
Doctor Pan said, “No, Phobos’ orbit was too low. George is trying to stop as much of the destruction as he can.”
“The multipurpose satellites are running out of ordinance,” George said. “I am reconfiguring their sensors to emit sound waves to interfere with the molecular structure of the moon debris. It will not work for the pieces of ships.”
“What?” Cort asked.
“He is going to use resonance to destroy the rocks. Much like we did with the crystallized planets,” Pan said.
While Cort’s staff watched in silence and horror, colony modules were exploding and being knocked out of alignment. On other screens, no more shots from the multipurpose satellites were being marked. Instead, circles were appearing around targeted debris. Every few seconds large meteors were exploding into smaller pieces and new circles would appear.
“The satellites are running out of power,” George said a few minutes later. “There are several ships in the area.”
Cort understood what George was saying. “JJ, Liz, give George access to the ships’ propulsion and targeting systems. Including fire control.”
Liz immediately began tapping on her flexpad and JJ started to speak, “Sir, is that wise?”
“Admiral, follow my orders, or relieve yourself from duty.”
“Yes, sir,” JJ said and began entering her command codes as well.
Cort said, “George is the only person in this room who can do anything about the hell that those colonists are going through. Every single one of you are to facilitate his efforts in any way possible until I say otherwise.”
Kim stepped into the room and stood beside Cort who didn’t turn away from the screens he was watching. She followed his gaze to a screen that showed the Aeolis colony from orbit. The flaming hull of an unknown Kalashnikov-class ship crossed over the colony’s wolf park and crashed into the modules that housed the common areas and joined the wings of the rest of the structure. Modules exploded outward in every direction.
“Oh my gods!” Kim said.
The sound of her voice caused Cort to look at her momentarily and then back to the screen as he put his arm around his wife. “George?”
“How many did we lose?”
“I am still reading life signs from seventy-three colonists.”
“How many were there?” Kim asked.
“Current logs indicate nine thousand three hundred and seventeen colonists were at Aeolis. Of those, seventeen hundred and thirty-two are non-human.”
“I want running counts,” Cort said. “Put up a stat screen. Confirmed deaths, and missing.”
Doctor Pan said, “George, may I access your core?”
“Yes,” the avatar replied.
Pan took over a corner of one screen and put up two boxes, one red and one yellow. The yellow box, on bottom, showed ‘62’ in black numbers. The red box above it showed ‘57,984’ for a moment, then the number began rising.
Pan said, “George, can you maintain the count, or should I do it?”
“Please maintain the count sequences, Doctor Pan. Thank you for asking. I would like to focus on my tasks.”
Cort felt Kim shudder beside him and turned to see tears streaming down her cheeks. Looking around the room, only Jaif’s and George’s eyes were clear.
“Father,” George said. “Aeolis will not be hit again for seven hours. The next base to be hit will be Scorpion Station. That will happen in six minutes.”
Kim said, “Speral and Jeff.”
“And five thousand others from across the galaxy,” JJ said somberly.
When the first debris hit Scorpion Station, the largest dome farm on the planet, they watched as huge, triangular, panels shattered and fell on the crops below. Cort recognized a kilometer-long section of a Coach-gun tumble through the roof. When it hit the ground, something exploded. The entire farm vibrated for a moment, then disappeared in a cloud of dust.
“What happened?” Cort asked.
Pan looked at George. When the avatar didn’t answer, he began typing on his flexpad and said, “It appears a coilgun capacitor from the ship debris hit a gravity plate. There will be no survivors at Scorpion Station.”
“Re-prioritize your targets, George.”
“Jane,” Cort said. “Retask the invasion fleet. The wormhole will have to wait. Send them all to Mars for search and rescue.”
“Rand, get me a link to Earth. I want to broadcast.”
Rand relayed the orders and a few minutes later, pointed his flexpad at Cort.
“I’m sorry to have to bring you this news,” Cort began. “Phobos, and the shipyards it housed, have been destroyed. We do not know what happened, and right now I don’t care. Our immediate concerns are the lives that have been lost and the ongoing destruction. I have ordered every available ship and Marine to the area to assist in search and rescue. The debris from the destruction is currently falling onto the planet below, and the damage is extensive. It will be much worse by the end of the Martian day. I will keep you updated throughout the crisis."