Authors: Raymond L. Weil
“You can see
the damage from here,” Anthony commented as he gazed out the cockpit window. “I
would say a good quarter of the roof is gone, and the southern wall is badly
“Put us on the
landing pad,” Mase instructed as he gazed at the damaged building with concern.
“We need to see if anyone survived.” Mase’s mind was full of worry and concern
for the people that should be inside. It bothered him that they were not able
to contact anyone.
damage that Mase could see, he knew that the chance of finding survivors was extremely
slim. If the meteor penetrated the building on impact, the resulting vacuum
would have killed everyone instantly.
carefully landed the shuttle on the massif’s only landing pad, stirring up the
shallow layer of gray lunar dust that always seemed to be on everything. “We’re
down,” he announced as he killed the power to the shuttle’s thrusters.
already in the process of putting on his spacesuit with the assistance of
several of the other men. In just a few minutes, he exited the shuttle and the
small group made their way quickly to the operations building.
“I can’t raise
anyone on my suit radio, Sir,” one of the men informed him.
That really worried
Mase. From this close, they should have been able to establish contact with the
people inside. The situation was looking grimmer with each passing moment.
The men fanned
out when they reached the building. Several went to inspect the damaged wall,
and several others made their way over to some of the small, thick windows,
trying to peer in.
Mase and two
other men opened the small airlock door and stepped inside. One look at the
controls on the inside wall of the airlock told the story. The building was
operating on emergency battery power, and there was a vacuum on the other side
of the inner door. Mase felt a sinking feeling, realizing that the people who
had staffed the operations center were probably dead. It had been years since
anyone under his command had died.
Nodding at the
two men with him, they activated the controls and opened the inner door.
Stepping inside, Mase braced himself expecting to see bodies.
“I don’t see
anyone,” spoke one of the other men. He walked farther into the small room and then
looked into the adjoining rooms. “No one in sight, Sir.”
shelter,” spoke the other hopefully. “Could they be in there?”
Mase and the
two made their way through the operations building until they came to a large
metal door. The door was solid, and it was shut. This door was always kept open
in case of an emergency. It was a sealed bunker capable of protecting the
personnel of the operations center for seventy-two hours if the center were
breath and saying a short prayer, Mase plugged in a communication line from his
suit to a connection on the control panel next to the door. “Anyone in there?”
he asked, hoping he would hear a response.
here!” a woman’s frightened voice answered back. “We’re all in here. Lieutenant
Jameson and our communications engineer Allison Stowe are badly injured.”
relief flood over him. “Okay, stay calm and I will see what we can do about
getting you out of there.”
One of the men
who had been inspecting the rest of the building walked over to Mase. “We’ve
checked the building. The three rooms on the south side are heavily damaged and
will have to be repaired. The south wall in one of the rooms has also partially
collapsed. However, the rest of the building seems to be structurally intact.
If we close the airtight doors to the damaged sections, we should be able to
restore air pressure to the rest of the building. We also have an emergency
generator on the shuttle we can use to give us temporary power.”
“Do it,” Mase
ordered. He wanted to get the people out of the emergency bunker as quickly as
possible, particularly the two who were injured.
emergency generator was hooked up, it didn’t take long to get the undamaged
section repressurized. Once powered up, the lights came on and in a few minutes
it was safe to remove their suit helmets. They opened the door to the emergency
bunker and one of the men who had medical training went in and checked out the
two people who were injured.
Mase found out
from the young woman he had talked to earlier over the radio what happened. Her
name was Jenny Harrison. Jenny had only recently been assigned to the massif
and was still visibly shaken. In a nervous voice, she told Mase that they had
just sat down to eat when a small meteor struck the roof of the southern
section of the building. She said it sounded like a loud explosion and then the
entire building shook violently.
support beam had broken loose when the meteor hit the building. The beam fell, striking
and injuring the lieutenant and the communications engineer. Everyone had just
managed to get everyone into the emergency shelter when the damaged roof and
wall blew out. They had been extremely fortunate. A minute later and they all
would have died.
“I’m just glad
all of you are okay,” Mase said as he reassured the young woman that everything
was going to be all right. “We will get all of you back to Tycho City and the doctors will check everyone out.”
Sir,” Jenny replied in a quivering voice. She was still feeling shaken by what
had happened. “I thought we were all going to die.”
It took a few
minutes to get everyone suited up, including the two injured. Once suited up, everyone
made their way to the shuttle. Mase and four of the rescuers would remain
behind for the time being. They would leave on the next flight. Anthony would
be returning shortly with some construction personnel who would begin repairing
the damage. The only damage to the communication towers was a lack of power.
That situation had already been remedied with the emergency generator.
shuttle departed, Mase walked over to the edge of the massif and gazed outward.
One of the first things Mase had done when they built the operations center on
the massif was to construct a small overlook on the edge of the towering pillar
of rock and stone. He hooked a safety line to the rail that ran next to the
edge and stood deep in thought.
today brought everything into perspective. With the approach of the neutron
star, they would be left on their own. Accidents like the one today would have
to be dealt with. If they didn’t prepare properly, these types of incidents
could become common.
downward, Mase could just make out the small buildings and domes on the
surface, which marked the location of Tycho City. He wondered what the future
held for all the people that called Tycho City their home.
gaze upward, Mase looked at the stars. There was one exceptionally bright one
which he knew was Star One, the massive space station at the Lagrange point. As
soon as he got back to Tycho City, he would be contacting Steve. They had to
send a message to Tim McPhryson about the neutron star. He also wanted to talk
to Steve about their plans for survival. From what Jolene had said the night
before, Star One was already almost self-sufficient. Mase knew that Steve would
not be evacuating the station.
In the back of
his mind, he also wondered if they should send a space mission to investigate
the neutron star. With the changes that Steve and he had authorized for the
Jupiter probe ship, they had that capability. What had been done to the ship
was a highly guarded secret. Mase suspected that Steve would pick Tyler Erin,
Star One’s best shuttle commander as the leader for such a mission.
Mase stood for
several minutes thinking about what lay ahead of them. The neutron star would
change everyone’s lives. Somehow, they had to survive. The human race could not
be allowed to die out without a fight.
Taking a deep
breath, Mase unfastened his safety tether and began walking back toward the
operations center. The shuttle would be back shortly, and he had a lot of plans
to make. Neutron star or no neutron star, Mase was determined to do whatever
was necessary for Tycho City to survive. Tycho City had been his dream, and he
was not about to let that dream die!
Tycho City: Survival
Mase laid the
phone down and let out a long and deep breath, straightened his shoulders, and
leaned back in his chair. He had just finished talking to Steve on Star One and
they had made an important decision. They were going to recommend to President
Kateland that they send the Jupiter probe ship to investigate the approaching neutron
star. It was the only spacecraft they had that could make it in the allotted time
frame because of the radical design changes that Steve and he had approved. Fortunately,
the president and McPhryson had both approved the changes, but had demanded in
return that Star One and Tycho City handle the extra costs.
As a result,
they had a fusion-powered spacecraft that could travel to any place in the
solar system in just a few weeks or months. Mase just hoped it was ready for
the long journey ahead of it. He was a little concerned though, about what
would happen when others in the government found out what they had done to the
“So who is
going to be the pilot?” Anthony queried his eyes and voice showing how hard it
was for him not to ask for the job. This was the type of exploration mission
that every shuttle pilot or astronaut dreamed of.
“I need you
here, Anthony,” Mase said softly, looking across the desk at his friend.
“You’re my best pilot and we don’t know what may be ahead of us. I know you
want to go, and I understand your reasoning, but we’re going to need every
pilot we have, shortly. You’re going to be needed to help train some of the new
out a deep sigh of disappointment. He had known the odds of him going were low.
Just the idea of piloting this new ship into the unknown was so captivating.
“So who will
you choose to be the pilot?” Anthony asked after a moment of silence between the
He could think
of only two men he would trust if he couldn’t go, John Gray and Rodrick
Simpson. Both were well-qualified, exceptional pilots and were currently
working out of Star One. “It has to be either Rodrick or John. They are the
only two with the skills and knowledge to pilot the Jupiter probe ship.”
“It will be
Captain Simpson,” Mase replied after a moment. He knew Rodrick Simpson very
well, and the talented pilot was a good choice. “John has a family on Star One and
Steve feels he will need him on the space station just as I need you here.”
Tyler Erin will be chosen as mission commander,” Anthony continued his eyes
thoughtful. “He’s the only one I would trust with a mission like this.”
“Yes, he will
be finding out shortly,” continued Mase. “We are still evaluating some of the
data and working on a mission profile.”
down at Mase’s desk and then forced his eyes back up. There was something
important that he had been thinking about for the last several days that he needed
to ask Mase. “Mase, I want to bring Jean up from Earth. She’s the only real
family I have since our parents were killed in that car wreck several years ago.
I want her here at Tycho City where she will be safe.”
back in his chair and let out a deep sigh. He also wanted to bring his brother
Phillip and his family up as well. He knew there would be others with the same
requests. How was he going to decide who to approve and who to turn down? It
might be necessary to set up some type of criteria to ensure only people who
would be beneficial to Tyco City were approved.
This was going
to be a delicate and tough situation soon. When word got out about the neutron
star, he suspected that his office would be flooded with requests to bring
additional family members and friends up to Tycho City.
studying in college?” Mase asked as he thought about how best to answer
Anthony. He looked over and saw the deep look of worry on his friend’s face.
senior this year. She has been studying to be a nurse practitioner and will be
interning at a hospital in San Diego.” Anthony was very proud of his younger
sister and what she had chosen to become.
Mase saw an
easy way out of this. “I think not,” he said slowly as a simple solution
occurred to him. “Call your sister and see if she would like to intern at the Tycho City hospital. I think Doctor Klein can help her immensely in her studies.”
here?” Anthony asked, his eyes lighting up. “Are you sure?” The Tyco City hospital under Doctor Klein practiced some very advanced medical procedures.
Mase, evenly. “We are going to need some good, experienced people up here if we
hope to survive this thing. I think your sister will fit in very well. I’ll let
Doctor Klein know he has a new intern coming.”
Mase,” replied Anthony, feeling a heavy weight lift from his shoulders. He
couldn’t wait to call Jean. He knew she would be highly excited about the
prospect of interning at the Tycho City hospital.
up; he had to fly some supplies out to one of the research sites in a couple of
hours and he wanted to check to make sure the shuttle was ready. However, he
was curious about one more thing.
“When will the
Jupiter ship launch?”
his arms across his chest and looked over at Anthony. “A little over three
weeks. We have already started work on the modifications necessary to complete
the mission. There will be a short shakedown cruise before that to test the
nodded. He would be contacting his sister later on tonight. Her classes would
be completed shortly, and he wanted her up to Tycho City as soon as possible.
Just before he walked out the door, he stopped and looked at Mase. “Thanks Mase,
for allowing Jean to come up here.”