It had been nearly a day later since Captain Modune’s crew was activated by Admiral Shan for the Pluto-situation. The Justifier’s young crew of twenty had already passed planetary Station Watcher 6 and was headed out for Pluto and its moon, Charon, with Squadron B close behind. Captain Liz’Beth’s team from that squadron was assigned to Charon’s Watch planetary gate while Captain Modune’s special ops crew had the biggest assignment in the planetary station located on Pluto itself. Modune had gotten word from Captain Lance Ward of Squadron A that he and his crew had finally reached Watcher 6 station…
“Gone,” Captain Modune heard himself say a bit louder than he meant to during his communique with Captain Ward. Modune was in the main cabin area of The Justifier, so all of his crew could hear the conversation.
“Captain, when you say, ‘gone’—“
“As in it looks like the freakin’ Rapture just happened,” the middle-ager said with absolutely no irony! He was peering at Captain Modune over his spectacles on the connection while his crew, in the background, could be seen quickly working on their terminals and scurrying about! “Tables and chairs tipped over; dishes on the floors; equipment strewn about…”
Modune thought for a moment as he glanced about his own cabin, seeing what his own, tight-knit crew thought so far. He was met with shrugs, stares, and arched brows. “So,” Modune ventured on; trying to understand a bit more, “no signs of blood or weapons used?”
“Right…now, Joe, don’t get me wrong. It looks as if the whole damn station left in a hurry—like they were trying to catch a shuttle or something. But I wouldn’t say it looks like there was a struggle here, as such.”
Now Captain Modune’s team really looked upon him with incredulity! “Speaking of shuttle,” Modune went on, “what about 6’s shuttles and droids?”
“All here,” Captain Ward said matter of factly. “We just checked their task records and there’s not a single entry for any of the shuttles, droids—or emergency pods, for that matter—that were engaged. Hell, even the station’s kitchens are in decent shape!”
“Food, Captain,” Jaimee Box, Modune’s second-in-command, asked with a whisper; out of range of Captain Ward’s sight. “Was anything left on?” Others in Justifier’s cabin were nodding in consent.
“Was anything left boiling or in one of the cooking machines, Lance,” Modune tried.
Captain Ward was already shaking his head. “Nope…not so much as a kettle of tea was on! Even their Sentients greeted us upon our arrival as if nothing were wrong! Huh…I think whatever got our people also got to their Sentients. We went around and around with them trying to see if they saw anything or recorded whatever happened.”
“Nothing! It’s like someone wiped the crew’s entire computer system and re-started them!”
Commander Box made a questioning face to the response. Others in the cabin looked away at some corner; trying to make sense of the whole ordeal.
“Well, that pretty much leaves you with checking their on-board recorders then, Lance,” Joden said after gauging his crew in the command center.
Captain Ward had leaned back in his chair with a knowing sigh. “And that, my friend, is when things get even more interesting…they all stopped!”
“Stopped?” Now Modune’s crew had gone beyond curious looks to that of concern. Captain Modune went on. “Every recorder on the station?”
“Well, that’s what my team has encountered so far, Joe,” Captain Ward said as he looked off to the side; verifying with one of his officers. “We’re still in the process of checking and re-checking those we’ve already gone through—we get a look at Station 6’s crew from about two days ago. And…” Ward shrugged at that point; his head shaking with bewilderment. “Every damn recorder stopped and goes blank at the exact same time! Not just the holographs; even our 2D backups, Joe!”
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