“John, what the hell just happened?” Commander Rogers’ voice trailed off in a sense of surreal bewilderment. Every sensor display tracking Zeke and his drone was blank, nada, nothing, as if neither existed. Full data one moment, nothing the next.

Simultaneously, the three Raptors disappeared off the same monitors. No Zeke, no Vanguard, no Raptors. Minds raced for an answer, yet the echo back was the same. Command had miscalculated. The Vanguard was no match for three Raptors. Zeke never saw them coming and Command, well, Command had miss calculated.

“Sir,” John hesitated. “Sir, we, we have no explanation. All vector calculations estimated four minutes to impact. That data . . .” Rogers cut him off. “That data John was wrong. How else do you explain all four entities disappearing at the same exact moment?”

The question hung in the air. No one could ever remember such silence in Central Command. Rogers starred straight ahead. Empty monitors mocking his competence. “So this is it,” he mused. Thoughts of notifying Ji, thoughts of history lessons on what not to do next to his name, thoughts of court martial, thoughts of a career in ruins, thoughts of returning home in disgrace, the sight of his wife and children and not being able to look them in the eye. Rogers was full of thoughts, lost in thoughts, consumed by thoughts.

Zeke, likewise had been in his own world. If not for the blinding flash and electrical shock that stung him like a giant willow wasp, he would have still been in that self-absorbed world. Wringing the sting from his fingers and rubbing the blindness from his eyes, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

Zeke had studied all the scientific logs transmitted by Outpost 643. Their mission was to study the duality of Zaels, yet, as scientists are wont to be, they tended to study anything that struck their fancy. The Zael system was unique for more than just its magnificent creatures. Electro-magnetic solar storms occasioned the confines of Zael space in ways the Hynerians had never seen.

These storms had been studied during “down-time” and very little was known or at least very little data transmitted. Zeke guessed no one wanted to document time spend on a subject not commissioned. This much was known. The storms were massive. They were spontaneous and apparently unpredictable. Charged with electrical power, any and all communication became impossible for the duration. The few storms documented had lasted from one to five minutes and then they were gone as quickly as they had materialized.

Command had not miscalculated the vector. The blinding flash Zeke had seen was the three Raptors exploding as they sailed straight into the solar maelstrom. Zeke would live another day and Commander Rogers would not have to make that long solitary walk down to Ji’s chambers. Sometimes it was better to be lucky than good. And today, they were all lucky Hynerians.

“Sir, exclaimed John. We’ve got data on the Vanguard. Zeke is alive. Lieutenant Zeke, this is Central Command, can you hear me?”

“Lieutenant Zeke reporting. Did you guys see that unfricken believable solar storm? I’ve never seen such incredible beauty and massive power all in one package. Holy fricken molasses.”

“That’s our boy,” exclaimed Rogers with a grin big enough to light the deepest caves in the central regions. “Zeke, I’m not sure what the hell you’re talking ‘bout but it sure is good to hear your voice. You ready to proceed?”

“Yes sir. Like a pampus on his pappus, let’s get this show on the road. I don’t plan on freezing my ass off all day in this Janus forsaken contraption. By the way, give my regards to the engineers. Tell them I’ve got a little sumthin sumthin for them when I get back.”

“Will do Lieutenant. Will do my friend.”

Commentary Part 1:

this is an audio post - click to play

Commentary Part 2:

this is an audio post - click to play


this is an audio post - click to play