Equinox: The return to Earth

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A hostile reception

“One hour to destination,” chimed the all too familiar mechanical female voice throughout the enormous ship.

“At last!” thought Jason to himself with a sense of relief that the journey which had taken the better part of four months was now close to the end. He wasn’t particularly fond of extended space travel, even at ten times the speed of light, and definitely not when he was this impatient to finally get home.

He hurriedly jumped out of bed and hopped into the shower, full of excitement and anticipation, like a little child on Christmas day. The cool water striking his body quickly washed away the final remnants of sleep, rejuvenating and refreshing him.

Next came the task he loathed with a passion. Shaving! Shaving was a necessary evil as far as Jason was concerned, if he didn’t want to resemble a caveman. He preferred the old fashioned method of shaving which involved a very sharp razor blade, rich soap lather and most importantly, a steady hand.

Once out of the bathroom, Jason quickly dressed himself in his red and blue uniform, proudly displaying his rank. He momentarily stopped to admire his reflection in the full length mirror which stood beside the dresser, before walking out the door making his way to the bridge.

Jason stepped into the bridge to find Thomas busy at his station, manipulating a touch screen with one hand while flicking switches with the other. The young engineer seemed to be having fun in some odd way, totally engrossed in what he was doing and completely oblivious to Jason’s presence.

Eve was there too, seated at the first officer’s station. She greeted Jason with her contagious smile and waved to him.

“Fifteen minutes to destination,” announced the ship’s voice, breaking Thomas’s concentration.

“Greetings,” he said, suddenly noticing Jason.

“All systems are fully functional,” he volunteered without being asked.

Jason nodded at Thomas, acknowledging his greeting and feedback.

“Thank you, Mr. Wayne,” he replied.

Jason took a deep breath, held it in for a moment and exhaled slowly before making his way to the captain’s station, allowing the realisation that he was just moments away from an almost certain violent altercation with the United Earth Forces, to sink in.

He sat himself down appearing calm and composed even though he could feel his heart pounding in his chest from a combination of nervousness and anticipation. His deep breathing technique helped him focus. He was ready to take on the world and win.

“Exiting light speed in ten seconds.”

“Welcome home, Jason,” he whispered to himself, a ghost of a smile appearing on his expressionless face while the ship’s computer counted down the final seconds.

“Two, one...,” went the mechanical voice.

The light show on the main viewer gave way to a breathtaking view of the Earth as the Equinox B dropped out of light speed, into normal space.

The ship’s computer flawlessly adjusted their course and heading to match the Earth’s rotation and within moments they were in geostationary orbit directly above the Earth Space Agency’s headquarters.

“Mr. Wayne, monitor all frequencies for any communication directed at us,” instructed Jason, surprised by the lack of response from Earth almost a full minute into their arrival.

“Already on it, Captain,” responded Wayne.

“All twenty ships have now arrived safely and have taken up their positions around us.”

“Excellent!” replied Jason, casting a quick glance at Eve who had remained silent.

“Captain, here comes your transmission now,” reported Thomas a moment later. Audio and video. Shall I open a channel and transfer it to the main viewer?”

“Do it!” instructed Jason.

“..I repeat, this is General Oliver of the Earth Defence Force. Identify yourself and state your business here. Failure to comply will result in your destruction.”

A stern faced bald headed large man sporting a moustache and dressed in a green military uniform appeared on the large screen, his booming, authoritative voice matching his imposing demeanour.

“I repeat, this is..”

The large man stopped abruptly as the screen on his end came to life with the image of Jason.

If he was surprised, it did not register on his hardened, expressionless face.

“Jason King,” he began.

“By the order of the United Earth Government, you are under arrest. Surrender, and prepare to be boarded!”

Jason continued to look calm. He took a deep breath and replied. “You are certainly welcome to try, my good man.”

He motioned to Wayne to terminate the link. General Oliver’s face was replaced by the serene view of the Earth below in all its blue splendour as Thomas responded.

“That is one ugly man!” said Eve, shaking her head, “And arrogant too!”

“He’s about to learn a lesson in humility!” replied Jason with a look of defiance.

Turning to the young engineer he asked, “Mr. Wayne, is the regenerative shield at full power?”

“Yes,” replied Thomas, “And Captain, there’s a small fleet of ships approaching from the surface on an intercept course.”

“Hmmm, let them come,” smiled Jason. Bring the main atomic disruptor on line and target the moon. Set to maximum power. Wide beam.”

Within minutes, the small fleet of ten attack craft came into visual and attack range.

Jason watched in amusement as the craft began firing torpedoes at them. He also caught a look of concern from Eve.

“Don’t worry Eve, their weapons can’t harm us.”

She smiled a nervous smile back and turned her attention to the main viewer again.

The first torpedo struck the shield right in front of the viewer. It glowed brightly for a moment and disappeared. Then came the next, and the next, all harmlessly converted into energy.

The same scene was being experienced by all the vessels in Jason’s fleet.

Jason waited patiently until they eventually stopped firing. He reasoned that the attackers had depleted their supply of torpedoes.

“You may destroy them now,” he instructed his fleet, and within seconds, the little contingent of attack craft had been obliterated.

“Mr Wayne, get me the General on the main viewer again.”

Jason turned his attention to the large man on the screen.

“Allow me to introduce myself, General. I am Jason King, ruler of the planet Carac. I am going to first demonstrate to you exactly what this ship is capable of, and then allow you the chance to surrender. That is all.”

The expression on General Oliver’s face was priceless. It was clear that the General was more accustomed to giving the orders and not receiving them. He simply grunted and disappeared from the screen.

“Ok, fire the disruptor at the moon, Mr. Wayne, and please be careful not to completely obliterate it.”

Thomas nodded. “Firing now.”

A large chunk of the moon simply dissolved as the purple beam struck. The resulting crater was large enough to be visible with the naked eye from the surface of the Earth.

“Captain, the sensors are picking up large missiles approaching from the other side of the planet. Impact in twenty seconds.”

“So that’s how they reply,” mused Jason. “United Earth Government arrogance!”

The contingent of missiles all met with the same fate, all absorbed by the ships’ regenerative shields and converted to energy.

“Ok, it’s time to teach the General some manners,” said Jason. “This is no way to treat guests. Right Eve?”

Eve nodded in agreement.

“Wayne, target the Space Agency below. The base extends underground for some distance, so set power to maximum and the beam to narrow.”

The purple beam found its mark and within seconds all that remained of the Earth Space Agency’s headquarters was a huge smouldering crater.

“Captain, we’re being hailed,” reported Thomas.

“Ignore them!” replied Jason. “Commence with the next part of the plan.”

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