Space Battleship Omega: Circle of Death

by Chris Morin

Chapter 2

    The Space Battleship Omega successfully left the Earth's gravitational pull and headed toward the far reaches of the Solar System. Unknown to the crew, a danger far worse than they could have ever expected was just hours away.
    Jordy Venture's shift was over and he desperately needed to get to his quarters for some rest. He pressed a few buttons on his control panel and pushed his seat away from his station.
    "Captain, we have just cleared Mars orbit and are right on course to planet Minerva," Jordy reported. "I am placing the ship on automatic pilot and returning command of this vessel to Deputy Captain Reemer."
    "Good work Venture," Taylor said. "At 0800 hours tomorrow we will have a bridge officer's meeting to go over our mission in detail and to discuss any open issues. You are all dismissed until then."
    The Captain's chair began to move away from the console and the the officers began to exit the bridge. Reemer was the last to leave.
    "Venture, wait up!" Reemer said.
    The Deputy Captain walked over to the Chief Navigator. Venture looked like he was suffering from fatigue. His clothes were all wrinkled and his hair was greasy and unkempt. He appeared to have been awake for many days.
    "What's up buddy? You look horrible," Reemer said.
    "Gee thanks Reemer," Jordy said sarcastically.
    Both officers made their way to the rear elevator and the door automatically opened. The two officers entered and Reemer pressed the number five on a small control panel. The elevator descended into the vessel and after a few moments, the doors opened and the two men stepped onto a moving walkway.
    "I'm serious man! You look bad," Reemer said.
    The two men had been friends since they were very young. They did everything together. They played on the same team in the Astro Ball league and were in the same classes throughout school. When they got older, Jordy decided to enter the Academy but Reemer was hesitant. He was never fond of space travel but he eventually decided to enter the Academy to be with his friend.
    After graduation, Jordy volunteered to go on the Omega's maiden voyage while Reemer decided to stay on Earth. When Venture entered the bridge of the Omega for the first time, he discovered that Reemer had been recruited for the same mission but was now his superior officer. The situation strained their relationship and helped fuel a professional rivalry.
    "Well, let me tell you about what I went through just to get to the ship," Jordy said. "It all started with my transport. It was supposed to pick me up after the wedding ceremony but it never showed up and by the time I got a replacement, I was three hours behind schedule."
    "Man that stinks," Reemer said.
    "And then the ferry to get to the mainland broke down in the middle of the ocean. It only got worse from there."
    "The Captain wasn't mad if that makes you feel any better," Reemer said. "However if it were someone else..."
     Jordy was the brother of Mark Venture, who was a war hero. As navigator of the Space Cruiser Yamato, Mark helped save Earth on many occasions. Because of this, people had treated Jordy differently and instructors at the Academy expected more of him because of who he was. It never rubbed Jordy the right way.
    "Don't start with that preferential treatment crap again," Jordy said. "And the last thing I needed was your jabbing when I got on board!"
    "Hey, hey, hey! Don't get mad at me," Reemer replied.
    The two men continued their way through the ship as the walkway moved them past several of the crew's quarters. Jordy noticed his room and stepped off the motorized walkway onto a stationary walkway. Reemer followed.
    "You want to have a drink with me in the mess?" Reemer asked.
    The trip from the moving walkway to the stationary one seemed to drain all of the life out of the Chief Navigator. After punching his access code into the outer door lock, the door to his quarters slid open. Jordy stepped into his room and faced Reemer.
    "No thanks Reemer," Jordy answered. "I haven't slept in three days and we have that early briefing tomorrow. I'll catch you later."
    The door slid shut and Reemer disappointingly walked away.

    The next morning the entire bridge crew met in the main conference room to discuss their mission objectives. Captain Taylor sat at the head of the table and wore his black Captain's hat. On the front of the hat was a gold anchor insignia. He also wore a black coat with a gold anchor over his left breast. The coat had a high collar with red and gold trim. Beneath the coat was a white cotton jersey that fluffed up toward the collar. The rest of the officers listened as Taylor began the meeting.
    "Thank you all for coming and being on time," Taylor said. "We will keep this meeting brief as we have a lot of work to do. The basic objective of our mission is to test the new weapons systems that were installed after our battle with the Xylotians. We will test their functionality at Minerva. Jordy, what is our ETA?"
    Jordy's shirt had a blue arrow that extended down from a solid blue collar. His uniform was nicely ironed and he looked refreshed.
    "We are scheduled to arrive at the Minerva system at 1200 hours tomorrow," Jordy said.
    "Good to hear Jordy," Taylor said. "When we arrive, our first objective will be to test the smaller auxiliary cannons. We will then move on to the main guns and then finally the Takion Wave Cannons. We will use the asteroids as our targets. Mister Steel, you will work with Mister Fazi and Reemer to coordinate the targeting and guidance systems of the main guns. Mister Osgood, continue to keep all lines of communication open with the Earth Defense Organization. This is an important mission that will determine the future of this ship in the Earth Defense Fleet. Let us hope that all goes well. Are there any questions?"
    "Captain, I would like to get our fighter squadrons some action as well," Reemer said. "Can we add some flight drills?"
     Reemer wore a black coat with a small gold anchor over the left breast and a Captain's hat with a black bill and no insignia.
    "Very good idea Reemer," Taylor answered. "Draw up your plans and get them to me for review. Anything else?"
    The officers in the room looked at each other but none made a sound.
    "Well than that's it," Taylor said. "Let's get to work."

    After a night of automated space warping, the Omega arrived at the Minerva System. The crew had just finished testing their smaller auxiliary cannons and everything had gone according to plan. Yellow lights were lit and a warning siren began to sound throughout the ship. After thirty seconds the sound ended and the two front guns of the Omega moved thirty degrees to port. Moments later the gun barrels moved up ten degrees.
    "Captain, main guns are ready to fire," Reemer reported.
    A fraction of the asteroid belt was displayed on the Omega's large video panel. Captain Taylor surveyed the belt and noticed three large asteroids in the upper left hand portion of the screen. They were each about the size of the Omega and would make easy targets.
    "Comet, fire guns number one and number three," Taylor ordered.
    The two large cannons fired huge blue beams toward the three large asteroids. The laser bolts collided with the asteroids but something unexpected happened. Instead of rock being blasted apart, something else exploded on contact; something big and powerful
    The Omega was too close to the explosion and a huge fireball hit the ship opening a hole near the engine room. A strange blue mist, barely visible to the human eye, began to dissipate throughout the Omega. Crew members closest to the explosion died instantly while others began to sneeze and cough. Two crewmen traveling on a moving walkway fainted as they were enveloped by the gas. A science officer analyzing some of the asteroid rock began to shiver and sneeze.
    Up on the bridge, Reemer's workstation began to flash as the internal sensors detected the gas.
    "Attention, all hands, put on your space suits at once! Repeat all hands put on your space suits at once!"
    Reemer quickly walked to the rear portion of the bridge and opened a supply closet. He took out six space suits and passed them out to the rest of the bridge crew unaware that the mysterious blue gas had already penetrated the bridge. When Reemer finished, he put his space suit on and walked over to Comet.
    "Comet, I want a scan of the area done immediately. I want to know what hit us. Jordy, I want a damage report right away."
    A few moments later Comet called to Reemer from across the room.
   "Reemer, we have scanned the surrounding area and have found some Bollar missile fragments. There are no Bollar ships in the area so it looks like we may have hit a missile that was left over from the Bollar War."
    "That was not a normal missile," Reemer replied. "How is the radar and communications equipment?"
    "Sir, the radar equipment is working perfectly," Pudi Abdul Fazi answered.
    "And the communication equipment is functioning properly. We are able to send and receive," Ollie Osgood answered.
    "Reemer, the airtight doors are functional and all of the fires are out," Jordy reported. "However, our warp drive mechanism was smashed and engineering is saying they need at least a week to fix it. Twenty-three crew members are dead but only three from the explosion. The others were killed by the gas. It looks like that missile contained a virus of some kind. Reports are coming in from all over the ship of others having flu-like symptoms. We could have an epidemic on our hands. Should I plot a course for Earth?"
    "I don't think that's a good idea," Reemer said. "If this illness is contagious we run the risk of infecting the entire planet."
    Captain Taylor knew he had to make a quick decision. Would this strange illness continue to kill more of his crew?
    "Our top priority is to get this virus under control before we lose any more crew members," Taylor said. "Reemer, I want the ship's doctor and all of the science crews working around the clock to find a cure for this illness. Mister Osgood, open a channel to the Bollar Federation. Let's see if they'll be of any help."
    After a few moments of computing, Ollie Osgood had found the correct frequency to the Bollar home world.
    "Captain, the channel is open," Osgood said.
    The Captain pressed the send button on his communications panel.
    "This is Captain Taylor calling the Bollar Federation. Come in please."
    Only static was heard from the other end of the line. After waiting a few moments, the Captain repeated the communication procedure but got no response. Another minute went by and Taylor repeated the message for the third time.
    "This is General Belize of the Bollar Federation," a husky voice said. "What is the reason for this communication?"
    The tone of the voice did not appear to be friendly.
    "General, I am Captain Hudson Taylor of the Space Battleship Omega from the planet Earth. An explosion from a Bollar missile has penetrated our vessel and a strange illness has infected my crew."
    "What would you like me to do about it Captain?" Belize coldly responded.
    "General, I am hoping that you may be able to tell us how we can fight this illness," Taylor calmly said.
    "Why should I assist you? You are the enemy!" Belize replied.
    "General, the war you are waging is with Galman not Earth," Taylor answered. "Earth is a peaceful planet."
    "So peaceful that you watch from a distance as our planet is reduced to rubble? Day after day Galman missiles rain down on our planet and not once did the Earth try to step in and stop the slaughter. We will not help you."
    "But General..."
    "No Captain. Fend for yourself."
    A click was heard from the other end of the line as Belize ended the communication.
    "Mister Osgood, reconnect communication!" Taylor ordered.
    "It's no use Captain, planet Bollar has blocked all of our transmissions," Osgood replied.
    "Then get me Earth Defense Headquarters! I want to speak with Commander Todo," Taylor said.
    Without hesitation, Osgood worked at the communications device and the Commander appeared on the main video panel.
    "Captain Taylor, how is your mission coming along?" Todo asked.
    The Captain stood and saluted the Commander.
    "Commander I wish I was calling you under better circumstances. During weapons testing at Minerva we mistakenly detonated an unexploded Bollar missile and a virus of some kind has been released throughout the ship. I have contacted the Bollar Federation but they were uncooperative. I have assigned the entire medical and science crews to the ship's doctor who is in charge of finding the cure for this illness but so far there is nothing to report."
    "Have you contacted Emperor Desslok of the Galman Empire?"
    The question took Taylor by surprise. Never in his wildest dreams would he consider contacting Desslok; a former enemy on the battlefield.
    "No Sir," Taylor answered.
    "Then I suggest you contact him," said the Commander. "He may have some information on the missile. In the meantime, shall we dispatch a medical transport to your location?"
    "Negative Commander. We do not want to run the risk of spreading this virus any further. I will contact Desslok and will report to you on our progress."
    "Okay Captain," Todo said. "I look forward to hearing your report."
    The Commander's face disappeared from the screen and Taylor sat back down in his chair. Desslok, the man who nearly destroyed the planet Earth. Could he be the one to save it from possible extinction?