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Mission from Earth, Shuttle Conquest 2369
"What's happening? We just lost communications."
Captain Camilla Raines didn't miss the panic in her navigator's voice. Manual steering was going, too. She was losing control of the shuttle and there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it. She struggled fiercely at the throttle, against the force pulling them in a direction instinct told her she didn't want to go. Darkness, eerily devoid of any stars, loomed before them as far as the eye could see.
"What the hell is happening?" Lieutenant Lila Martin, her second in command, sounded worse this time. Out of the corner of her eye she watched the other woman furiously pound on the control board where she stood.
"Try to remain calm," Camilla growled. "How's the backup system coming?"
Camilla didn't need the entire crew panicking right now. Her own heart was slamming in her chest, and her hands clenched on the control stick as she fought to move the nose of their craft in any direction. No matter what she tried, she couldn't break free of whatever unseen force that had them in its grip.
The worst part was that Camilla had no idea what they were up against. Their sophisticated radar system hadn't picked up a damn thing before they lost power to it. How could that be? It was a brand new shuttle and it had passed every safety test. Yet they were rapidly losing power to the entire craft. Camilla watched the lights on the control panel before her flicker and die at an alarming rate.
Something was out there, that was for damned sure. And whatever it was pulled them toward that empty blackness with everincreasing speed.
"We're losing everything!" Lila shouted.
"Yeah, we're picking up speed, too, and I'm not doing it," Camilla told them. "Everyone, strap yourselves in."
Her arms felt like they were going to come out of their sockets as she tried pulling the column up manually. It had no effect whatsoever, and her heart clenched as she tried to keep her panic at bay.
Frustrated, Camilla released the wheel and wasn't surprised when the shuttle kept right on moving as it had when she was fighting it.
"Fuck!" Camilla smacked the wheel.
"Where are the stars?" Lila asked. "It's dark out there."
"It's a black hole."
Camilla turned at the calm sound of Adrienne Sumner's voice. The scientist they were transporting was strapped in her seat as she'd been commanded to do. Outwardly she appeared to be calm, but Camilla read fear in the scientist's eyes. The woman's hands clutched the arm of her chair, her knuckles white.
"You're sure?" Camilla wanted to know.
The woman's eyes met hers.
"It's the only explanation for the void before us. A black hole is a region of spacetime that nothing can escape from. Not even light."
"I don't see a hole," Lila pointed out.
"The term is deceptive," Adrienne explained. "Since no light can escape from them it would be impossible to see them."
"What happens when we get sucked into it?" Camilla asked. "If light can't escape from it, neither will we."
The scientist's throat worked as she swallowed hard. "No, we won't escape."
"What will happen to us?" Lila's voice dropped.
Camilla eyed her second in command, who perched on the edge of her seat.
"Strap yourself in." Camilla used a sharp tone.
Copyright © 2007 Isabella Jordan.