- This is a short story based upon the events of The Trenton incident.
Kyle Lagrange hooked up his carabiner to the exterior of the Magellan. The proud ship was perhaps the greatest piece of military technology in human history, and was meant to revolutionize warfare as a whole.
"Ensign Lagrange," skipper Frederickson spoke over his comm, "we're getting ready for launch. Do one more scan of the ship's hull and report back." Lagrange closed out the comm channel. Kyle waved to the bridge, which towered over him by around 50 feet.
Kyle unclasped his carabiner and gradually made his way down his side of the ship. On the other side, another sailor was doing the same.
"No defects to report," Kyle said into his comm.
"Good. Lieutenant Harrison, redirect energy from the main railgun batteries to the ion propulsion systems," Frederickson said to the helmsman. Lagrange hooked up to the nearest hand-grip rung.
"Engine power up 35 percent," the Helmsman said, "preparing to activate the engines."
"Excellent. Lieutenant Lars, begin the un-docking protocol now," Frederickson ordered one of the two non-ship-board sailors. He swapped over to the ship's intercom system, "All hands, general stations. Prepare for immediate takeoff." Kyle braced himself. He knew that he would not be saved if he fell off of the ship's hull there would be no rescue. The hydraulic docking arms which held the Magellan in place unlocked, and moved away.
"Captain Frederickson, you're now free of the docking arms," Katie Lars reported.
"Excellent, excellent. Harrison, thrusters to max output," the skipper ordered. The ion propulsion engines glowed brighter, until they were a light blue, bordering white. The ship lurched forward, and immediately Kyle lost his grip on his rung. His carabiner line went taught, and his back was slammed against the hull of the Magellan.
"Shit!" he cussed aloud.
"Ensign Lagrange, report!" Frederickson said worriedly.
"My apologies, sir, I lost my grip," Kyle said, pulling himself back to the rung to which he was clinging.
"Ah, very good -- Ensign, what on Earth do you think you're doing!?" Frederickson shouted at someone in the background. There was some shouting, and gunshots.
"Captain? Captain, what's going on!?" Lagrange inquired, bewildered.
"Shit, he's got a bomb!" somebody in the background screamed. There was an inaudible explosion above. All of the oxygen in the bridge burned up, and the windows -- four-foot-thick panes of glass -- imploded. There was shouting throughout the comm system, and the ship shuddered. It veered towards the Earth, heading near-dead-on to the middle of the Pacific ocean many miles below.
Kyle swapped comm frequencies.
"Holy shit, Kate! What the fuck is going on?" John Williams screamed.
"I don't know! The bridge explod--" there was a second explosion; the torpedo bay burst open. "Oh my God, it's going straight at the Earth! It'll burn up in the atmosphere!"
Kyle's eyes widened. "Oh fuck, no, no," he muttered. To his left was the Earth, just behind the jagged edges of the burst torpedo bay. He unclasped the carabiner, but held onto the support rung. Making a crude measurement, he could see another rung about thirty feet behind. Trying to angle his body as well as possible, he made his stomach parallel to the ship's hull, and let go of the rung.
"Kate, we need to do something!" John said, aghast.
"No, John, don't! There's nothing we can do now." Kate returned. Kyle held out his arm as the rung came closer. He grasped it, and adjusted his body for the next jump. He let go, and drifted further down the hull of the ship. But he was still "losing ground", as the saying goes.
"But, it's our obligation as fellow sailors!" John tried to get some leverage with the dedication to comrades in arms, but Kate was not budging.
"I'm not going to kill myself. If you go out there, that's just one more person dead." Katie reasoned.
Kyle noticed the next grab was much rougher than the previous; his body swung around like it was on a pivot. The ship was moving faster. And it had begun to penetrate the atmosphere, as a shade of red engulfed the bow.
"Fuck." Kyle said simply, looking at the space station which was seemingly getting smaller. He began to think of his family. His children. Their dead mother. He couldn't bear to leave them orphaned. He maneuvered his feet, and pushed off the rung.
Finally, the ion engines passed close by. By this point, Kyle had lost the space station's signal, and the space station continued to get smaller and smaller. He swapped frequencies and immediately heard the crew of his ship screaming in terror as the atmosphere dissolved them.
Every second, that fate came closer to him as well. The Earth got larger, and the station got smaller. With no warning, the pull of the Earth grew, and it was evident to Kyle that his death was near-at-hand.
"No! God, No!" He said, tears welling up at the corners of his eyes. "Why? Christ, why?"
He could feel friction, like sandpaper against the outside of his space suit. Parts of the suit pulled away, and the feeling of coarse sandpaper got worse and worse, and began to turn into heat. His whole body was engulfed utter pain and heat like none he had ever felt before. He couldn't even make conscious thoughts form. His teeth shattered as his jaw locked up from pain. Skin began to melt. Finally, his whole body was disintegrated.