High above the planet, a weapons platform hangs in the sky.
It has gone dark.
It sends no telemetry.
Ground Control has not been able to reestablish communication with it or get it to accept a reboot command.
The platform is well outside envelope to be accessed by a space shuttle even if there was one available.
The orbit seems stable as does the attitude.
There was no concern about reentry. The altitude was such that it would more than likely drift away rather fall.
This platform held no nuclear devices. In fact, the only explosives on the platform were on some of the bolts that held the thing together.
Its munitions were purely kinetic. A huge amount of energy would be released when they hit. It was something akin to a meteor strike.
There were two types of missiles aboard.
One was guided. These would quickly reach whatever assignment had been given to them after their engines had fired and sent them on their way.
The other type of missile was more sinister. They were only to be used in an all out attack. They were completely ballistic.
They appeared to missiles of an ordinary type. They had a nose. They had fins. But they had no bells on the end where you'd expect to see rocket engines.
Instead, these titanium rods only had what was essentially oversized model rocket engines to nudge them toward earth.
The descent would not be quick, but it would be true.
Angles, burn time, drift, and gravity had been calculated.
These projectiles would reenter the atmosphere days or weeks after the main conflict to inflict severe pain on whomever was left.
They targeted sites that had no intrinsic military value. Their targets were chosen to cause discord and chaos:
- The well of the Mahdi in Samarra, Iran.
- Vatican City.
- The Kaaba.
- The Bohemian Grove.
It was figured that after an all out war it wouldn't matter who was offended.
The dark platform was not dead.
Its transceiver and the redundancies had all failed.
Worse than that, one of the cradles holding a ballistic missile was was failing.
Normally Ground Control would instruct the platform to turn and release the defective device toward the sun or moon.
Since there was no communication, the platform held the device until there was a complete failure.
The cradle opened. A spring pushed the projectile out. An umbilicus between the projectile and platform pulled the pin on the fuse to the rocket engine. The engine fired and the device was under way.
With small bursts from retro rockets, the platform righted itself.
No one on the ground had noticed.
There would be no warning.