Panic at the base.

“What just happened?” Captain IronAngel Forge asked into a suddenly completely silent command center. “What just happened?!”

Commander Rue.Tylar was frantically pushing buttons on the com to receive more readings, but for the first time since it appeared, the portal was not giving them any signals. It oddly felt like it was digesting after it had just snagged a meal made up of a ship full of Vikings. “Captain, the Viking is out of range. We cannot seem to contact them.”

There was some distinct swearing and more than one outburst of “I told you it was a bad idea!” and “The Vikings have always been reckless. Now look at what they’ve done!” coming from the other ships, making Lt. Jr. Grade EmilyNH shake her head. Playing the blame  game might be fun, especially since the Vikings didn’t even take that serious, but it wasn’t going to solve their current issue.

*****

A short while later, the senior crew members of the remaining three ships were once again assembled. They were crowding the command center of the SSA, staring at the latest data from the portal. It had finally resumed its signals again but they seemed less… urgent now. Not that anyone could make out a pattern yet.

“We have to get them back!”

“That goes without saying,” Commander Wolfy said, pinching the bridge of her nose between her thumb and forefinger. There may have been a touch of impatience in her tone, but it was hard to tell. Or perhaps it was guilt. After all, she had spoken up for the Vikings going closer AND she had made that comment.

There was a look in Captain WitchyRobyn’s eyes. It was resignation. With the Vikings, these things were bound to happen. It was nice when it didn’t, but it was never expected. “The question is how?”

There was a short silence as everyone in the room looked around at each other. There didn’t seem to be any ideas — at least none that anyone wanted to voice out loud. That is, until there was a bit of throat clearing.  All eyes turned to Lt. Jr. Grade Lauren E. Mitchell. They smiled at everyone, though there was a slight hint of sheepishness. “It seems to me,” they began,  “that perhaps we should –” Their suggestion was interrupted when the comm system let out a sharp screech.

“…Rex!  What?” The comm shorted out, white noise almost deafening. “…dinosaurs!” There was more crackling, some pops. Then a familiar voice, “Brace for impact!” What sounded like an explosion followed, then the comm cut out.

Commander Rue jumped to the comm, her fingers flying over the panel as she tried to reach the Viking. “Viking!  Viking, this is the SSA! Come in, Viking!”

The only answer was static.

Everyone in the room looked around at each other once more.  This time, there were no words needed.  Each Captain and XO began to bellow orders and they all made a mad dash to prepare their ships for immediate departure. There was only one thing they could do: go after the Viking and its crew.

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