23:4 A Blast of Static

OUTER SPACE  |  2055

“Jefferson One, this is Mission Control, do you read?” The badly distorted signal crackled over the command intercom, startling Konstantinov and Pape out of their silent mutual animosity.

“We are under attack by unknown aggressors. It is critical that you proceed with departure under any circumstance. Repeat. Proceed with departure. We will keep this channel open as long as we can. Godspeed.”

The biologist and second-in-command stared at each other in confusion and disbelief before both scrambled for the communications panel in an effort to reestablish the signal that had inexplicably dropped, leaving only an ominous silence.

“’Tchyo za ga ’lima?” Konstantinov swore. “What the fuck? Soléne, get the captain, I think this mission is going tits up.”

“I’m not going back down there,” Pape squeaked. “You have no idea … ”

“Za-ebees! Stop your bitching and go get Thomas, or I swear to your God, Soléne, I’m going to … ”

The radio interrupted with a burst of static that may or may not have hidden a miasma of screams and violence. Konstantinov gave the biologist the look she usually held in reserve for her two ex-husbands.

As soon as Pape left the command pod, another blast of static exploded from the radio accompanied by the unmistakable declaration, “Annihilation is God’s will!” Then silence.

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