A deadly threat
Jason woke up with a start, drenched in perspiration. His heart was pounding as if he had just participated in a marathon. A potent feeling of uneasiness clung to him as his mind quickly raced into wakefulness in the dim light of the colourful chandelier. The Princess’s chamber came into focus as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.
“Was it the same nightmare again?” he wondered as he lay on his back atop the huge four poster bed just staring at the ceiling.
It had been a while since his last nightmare, yet the thought of if still sent shivers down his spine.
“Calm down, Jason,” he thought to himself. “Slow, deep breaths will help.”
Following his own advice, he proceeded to take long, deep deliberate breaths, holding the air in for a few moments before exhaling.
He turned onto his left side. Reaching out he gently touched Jasmine’s arm. He could see her chest rise and fall and he immediately felt a slight sense of relief realising that she was fine and soundly asleep.
A quick glance at the clock revealed that it was almost midnight.
Jason got out of bed as stealthily as he could. Jasmine deserved to be blissfully asleep, especially after the long day she’d had and he didn’t want to disturb her. Losing her father had devastated her, but now, wrapped in the comfort of sleep, she looked so peaceful. He quietly made his way to the bathroom and poured himself a drink of cool water. He sipped slowly and felt the cool liquid as it made its way down his throat.
“Refreshing.” he whispered to himself.
He downed the glass of water and returned to bed as quietly as he had left.
The feeling of uneasiness still refused to leave him. He hugged his pillow, trying to derive some comfort from it. He closed his eyes and resumed the breathing exercise in the hope of falling asleep again, but to no avail.
“No, something is definitely wrong,” he surmised, “But what is it?”
Jason had learnt to trust his instinct which was never wrong, the same instinct which had become acutely stronger ever since he discovered his mental abilities.
He opened his eyes after what felt like an hour or so and glanced at the clock again. Only ten minutes had actually passed.
He reluctantly decided to wake Jasmine up.
“Wake up! Wake up!” he said in a loud whisper as he gently shook her shoulder.
“What is it, Jason?” she asked, rubbing her eyes and stretching. She glanced at the clock as her eyes grew accustomed to the low light. “It’s the middle of the night.”
“Jasmine,” he began. “Something’s wrong. I sense a great danger.”
She looked up and felt even more scared seeing the worried expression on his face.
“Are we in danger?” she asked in a voice which conveyed a hint of fear. Her eyes were wide open now.
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I woke up with an uneasy feeling and it won’t go away.”
Jasmine had learnt to trust her husband’s instinct and by the look on his face she immediately knew that something was very wrong.
“What do we do?” she asked, panicking.
“We need to get to the Equinox,” he replied. “Quickly!”
A short shuttle flight later, the two of them walked into the bridge of the Equinox. Jason quickly seated himself down in the captain’s chair with his wife standing behind him, resting against the backrest. Manipulating the panel in front of him, he brought the main view screen and all the instruments on the bridge to life.
The main view screen displayed telemetry from the long range scanners which Jason inspected carefully. The computer had not detected anything abnormal but he was still not convinced, nor could he shake off the uneasiness which he felt. He checked the position of all the satellites in orbit around Carac and none were out of place.
“Ok, we’re not going to have a satellite crash into us,” he said to Jasmine with a slight degree of relief. “Why don’t you take a seat so long, while I continue with the scanner?”
Jasmine seated herself down at the navigator’s station, to the left of the captain’s seat still looking concerned. She could tell that her husband was still worried.
Jason’s fingers once again quickly traversed the panel in front of him increasing the range of the scanner by a further ten million kilometres.
The computer complied, and he again scrutinised the display screen.
“There is a spatial anomaly visible in grid five B on the main viewer!” exclaimed Jason to himself, a moment later, startling Jasmine.
“I’m going to magnify that section for a closer look.”
“What is it, Jason?” asked Jasmine, making him turn to his left, suddenly remembering that his wife was seated next to him.
“That looks like some sort of space-time distortion,” he said to her, walking over to the main viewer and pointing. “The type of distortion which would indicate that something is travelling faster than light!”
She walked over and looked at where he was pointing.
“That object is heading this way!” he exclaimed. “It will be here in a few minutes!”
“Quick! We have to alert the fleet,” he continued, the urgency and concern clearly audible in his voice.
He ran over to the communications panel and contacted his second in command, raising the alarm and quickly explaining about the imminent danger.
He turned to Jasmine who was visibly shaken by what she had just learnt. There would be time to grieve her father’s passing later. Right now, there was an emergency that needed to be dealt with.
“Jasmine, we have to get this ship off the ground right now!”
Luckily, the full crew compliment was already on board. Jason quickly contacted Vince, explaining the situation.
“We don’t have a few minutes!” he said to Vince. Get here right now.”
He tried calling Eve too, but there was no response from her.
Jason’s heart was pounding and he was running on adrenaline.
“Prepare for emergency take off,” he announced ship wide. The Equinox had quickly become a hive of activity, reminding him of their narrow escape from Earth so long ago.
He had already commenced the pre flight checks and was about to fire the main thrusters when the short range scanners indicated an approaching shuttle.
“I’m here,” announced Vince over the radio. “Open up the landing bay.”
Within a few short minutes, Vince and was on the bridge.
The bridge doors hummed open again and Bart entered, saluting. Jason was glad to have the old crew back, especially Bart, given his familiarity with the Equinox controls. Again, Jason thought back to their escape from Earth.
“Stations everyone!” instructed Jason.
Vince occupied the first officer’s seat while Jasmine sat herself down at the navigator’s station once again. Bart was already busy at the engineering and gunner’s console.
“The anti gravity drives are active. Now firing the main.” but Jason didn’t complete his sentence as the Equinox shook violently from an explosion just off the left side of the ship. The long range scanner showed a vessel rapidly approaching the planet.
“We’re being fired at!” exclaimed Vince.
“Quickly, raise the shields. Full power!”
“Oh crap!” exclaimed Jason.
The Equinox reverberated from the force of the explosion.
Jason knew that all the firepower and advanced capabilities of the ship were pretty useless if they couldn’t get her off the ground right now. The upgraded shields wouldn’t last beyond three or four direct strikes from the high powered weapon being targeted at them.