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Calling Mercury Station (Chapter 1) by Michael Byrd
SUMMARY: A roving habitat on Mercury runs into a deadly problem.
"Calling Mercury Station, come in Mercury Station!" Radio silence, "This is Terminator Habitat One. Our solar cells have been severed from the main power cable, we need assistance immediately." The Comm operator kept yelling into the radio but he got no response. He looked up at the captain with a look of utter despair. The captain rose from his chair and hit the intercom button.
"Attention T.H. One personnel, we have lost our power source, we will have reserves for the next 30 hours but that will mean nothing in about 5 hours when the sun rises and begins to bake us. So we shall move forward as far as we can at top speed, giving us a few extra hours to come up with a solution so until further notice all non-essential personnel are herby relieved of duty." The captain sat back down in his chair and put his head in his hands. He waved at the helmsman and he increased power to the engines and they accelerated forward. As they came to a halt several miles forward the captain looked around. He got up and asked, "I need one volunteer to go to Mercury Station for help." Ensign Bridds stood up and was followed by everyone on the bridge. The captain smiled, "Thank you. Ensign Bridds, since you were the first to stand up I want you to go there and get us some help. You're our only hope."
"I will do my best sir," Ensign Bridds stated. He got to the lift and pressed the Hangar Bay button. As the doors opened he noticed how cold it had gotten. Since the habitat had moved to the far side of the terminator line the temperature had dropped significantly. To keep energy consumption down, the habitat was to stay at a certain distance from the sunrise on mercury, far enough away not to get baked but not far enough away so that they froze. The hangar bay was full of various rovers but the fastest were the hoverovers. They were about the size of a motorcycle, completely enclosed and could move at speeds of up to 500 miles per hour, which was perfect for his situation since T.H.-1 had about 6 hours before the heat began to reach the back part of the habitat. He engaged the hoverover, depressurized the bay, and took off towards the North Pole station. Inside the habitat the bridge personnel were looking as they say Bridds take off over the horizon. Bridds was taking the most direct route he could, dodging large rocks and massive craters. It took him about two hours to reach the polar station. Upon his approach he noticed several things wrong with it; the fact that the lights were all off, and the fact that no one was calling him to make sure who he was.
"This is spooky." Bridds thought to himself. He approached the southern cargo doors, put on a pressure suit and opened the doors manually. Inside he found the cargo room empty with several containers ripped open. Before he investigated further he pressurized the cargo room and took off his suit. He looked at the ripped open containers; some had claw marks while others looked like they had been slashed open. He looked around some more and found a dead body.