Author’s note: This week’s story comes from the [fiction]friday prompt provided by the great folks at WriteAnything. I hope you enjoy it.
“Hey Dad, check out those clouds,” said Danny to his father who promptly ignored him. “Hey Dad!”
“What is it Son? Can’t you see I’m setting up camp? You know you could help me out instead of just sitting there staring up at the clouds.”
“Sorry, it’s just I’ve never seen clouds like that before. Look at them, does it mean we are going to get rain?”
Danny’s father let out a long sigh. “You’re twelve now Son. Sooner or later you’re going to have to stop daydreaming and grow up. The weather reports indicated both suns would be out for the next several days.”
“Dad, for the love of the Creator look at the sky.”
Danny’s father looked up and froze.
“See, I told you there were a lot of clouds. Why are they all in straight lines?”
Danny’s question went unanswered as his father ran back to the shuttle. He stopped, spun around and hollered to Danny.
“Come on Son. We have to get back to the city.”
“But what about our trip?” asked Danny. “We can’t just leave all our stuff out here. Is it the clouds? What about them?”
“Those aren’t clouds Danny, they’re contrails. Now please, hurry. We haven’t got much time.”
Danny’s brow furrowed at the word. Where had he heard “contrails” before? Rockets. History class. The U’mat War. But it couldn’t be. His father had said those damn U’mats were all killed.
Danny stood, eyes on the sky, pinned to the spot by the weight of his understanding. A series of three quick beeps repeated itself from somewhere in the cockpit. He watched as his father reached into the shuttle and retrieved a case Danny knew well. His father carried the locked case with him wherever he went but as far as Danny could remember, he had never opened it; until now.
His father quickly entered the lock’s combination. The case sprang open revealing a beeping communicator, several items which looked like badges and pins and a gun. How did his father have a gun? Only soldiers or outlaws have guns. His father picked up the communicator and answered it.
“Lieutenant Commander Daniel Wales reporting in.”
“Sir. The Admiral of the Fleet has ordered all officers to report to Defense Platform Alpha ASAP. You are ordered to rendezvous there at which time your commission will be reinstated.”
“Rodger that. I’m en rout now. ETA to DP-Alpha 2 hours.”
Danny and his father climbed into their shuttle. They lifted off and elevated up to two hundred feet before hitting the thrusters. Danny had never flown this high before. Two hundred feet was a restricted height. Only military shuttles were allowed up this far. He felt his stomach flop as he realized there were probably many new things he was about to experience; none of them good.
“Son, I hoped to hell this day would never come. Thought we had beaten those U’mat buggers back to hell. I guess we were wrong.”
His father continued to increase height. The thinner air allowed the shuttle to fly faster.
Danny looked over at his father, straight-backed, eyes focused ahead, piloting the shuttle at a surprising speed. Lieutenant Commander Daniel Wales. How had he never known his father was a Naval officer? His father reached across and turned on the shuttle’s large spot light and marking lights then turned to his son and gave a weak smile.
“You’ll be wanting to hold on tight now.”
The shuttle rocked and pitched as shock wave after shock wave pummeled the small craft. They seemed to take forever to pass and Danny was sure the shuttle would be ripped apart.
“That was the rockets exploding then?” asked Danny.
“It was. How much did they teach you about the U’mat War in school?”
“Just that it was awful. Cold. And many of our people died in the first hours of the initial attack. That’s all the government would let us know. One of our professors, Professor Ulrik, was fired for handing out banned text books. I never saw them though.”
“Here’s the truth Danny. When the U’mat first landed they seemed peaceful. Gave us technology, helped heal our diseases, everything was great. But what they were really doing was infiltrating our society. Before long our military, banks and farms were all under U’mat control.”
“Why what did they want us for?”
“Not us, our planet. Our suns to be exact. Something about the ionic radiation they give off is vital to their survival. We were defeated; save for one last, desperate measure.”
“What was it? How did we beat them?”
“Keep watching out your window Danny. We’re going to the last defense platform on the planet.”
Danny looked out the window scanning the horizon for the secret weapon. He glanced back at the shuttle’s dashboard and looked at the clock. 1:00pm. Something’s wrong. 1:00pm and the suns were setting. No. Not setting. Going out.
“What the-” Danny watched as both massive suns dimmed and darkness spread across the land.
“One desperate measure,” said the Lieutenant Commander. “They need our suns to survive. Your professors were right about one thing. The U’mat war was cold. Cold as hell.”