Chapter 21

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"We've got another one."

Osterman glanced at Cameron as he delivered the gut-wrenching news.

He would have been in shock if he hadn't already been numb.

"We've already got relief ships en-route." Osterman said, wiping sweat off his brow as he turned back to his previous conversation.

The RHE-3 station defense manager nodded back into the camera, his feed connected with Osterman's from one of the moons of Rhodes. The human's face was painted a villainous red in the emergency lighting, the background nothing more than a blank wall panel in some distant hallway.

The station security officer nodded.

"Are the ships equipped with air filters?" He asked.

Osterman nodded.

"Everything. New air, food, water, medications, micron filters, the works." Osterman said, weathering a bump as his driver managed to find yet another rock to run over.

"Good." The ex-special forces man said. "We're already low on supplies, and more and more people keep coming in. We're already over two hundred. That's four times our capacity."

Osterman exhaled, feeling the tightness in his chest radiating up to his forehead to become a headache. He pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Injuries or radiation poisoning?" Osterman asked.

"Mostly radiation concerns. We're vetting them, and thankfully most of us are well within dose limits."

Osterman nodded.

"I'm assuming the station is fully locked down?"

"One-hundred percent. I've deployed station defense personnel, and all doors and passages are sealed." He let out his breath. "Emergency filters will keep everyone alive until rescue teams can get outfitted in radiation proof gear."

Osterman nodded.

"Very good." he said, swiping away another call that intruded on his datapad's screen. "I'm working on sending the arming codes for station point defense, so hang tight."

The human raised his brow.

"Can I ask why, sir? We're locked down."

Osterman glanced to the side where Cameron was handling another call from another outpost.

"Let's just say we have reason to believe more attack might be coming."

"Point defense is for incoming missiles, and they don't have missiles." He said. "We have bigger power concerns than the cannons, Sir."

Osterman shook his head.

"They've got them now. Both Marathon and Salamis received missile hits." Osterman said, his chest tightening again. He cleared his throat. "We're prioritizing station external defense."

The soldier's jaw dropped open.

"What? What the..." He cursed blindly a few times, "Marathon was hit?"

"And about a dozen others across the system. More reports incoming."

The human's shoulders fell.

"H-how many are dead there?"

"Your brother's fine." Osterman said. "I made a special call before I contacted you."

The human swallowed hard, and let out a quavering breath.

"Ok. Thank goodness." He said. "How many dead... over all?"

"Counts are still coming in, but we're over eighty."

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