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Gray Moon

Authors: Steve McKinnon
Characters: Gerard Simmonds
Show Year: Y1
Rating: PG
Date: 2003

Story 1 in the "Gray Moon" series +
1 - Gray Moon
2 - Gray Moon II
A secret on the moon's surface is revealed, and the only person on Moonbase Alpha with all the answers is...Simmonds!
Average Rating: 4.6/5 (based on 6 reviews)

Victor Bergman blew a frustrated sigh out of his cheeks, and slumped back in his chair.

Without thinking, he felt his hand reach up and rub the lack of sleep and irritation out of his face, and allowed himself a little smirk. There was a time when he would have cursed aloud, and thrown his notes across the room. However, an operation that saw an artificial heart replace his own weak one, was enough to see an end to his youthful tantrums, and a realization that a few words with his friend and commanding officer would rectify this problem. After all, it would be for the benefit of all Moonbase Alpha, and it wasn't worth getting all huffy about now.

Resigning himself to the fact that his 'night owl tendencies', as Helena refered to them, would keep him awake a little longer, Victor shut off the small lamp over his undamaged notes, and made his way to the concession table in the lab to fix himself a cup of calming tea.

He grimaced at the prefabricated circular tea bag with the computer- programmed amount of tea in it, and dropped it in his brown mug, turning on the kettle. So far from home and any variety of fine English tea, save for the small amount he and a few others had stocked prior to the accident. Ten minutes to midnight just wasn't the time to bring out the 'good stuff' he told himself. Better to use up the base rations which may or may not have been stocked by the International Lunar Commission a decade ago.

As the kettle slowly reached its boiling point (which seemed slower out here in deep space, Victor reckoned) he cast a forlorn look at the telescope he'd just vacated, but knew it was pointless. The distant quasar he'd been observing was now out of range, hidden by the jagged surface of the runaway moon.

When John oversaw tomorrow morning's meeting he was sure he'd agree with Victor's recommendation, as well as Paul and Helena, and whoever else wanted to take part in the meeting.

"Oh, please! Must we really continue this charade of normalcy, and ignore our number one priority?"

Victor bit back a cunning retort that came to mind, so he steered his gaze to the left and onto John Koenig. Even with his mouth closed, the ever-observant scientist could tell that John was gritting his teeth.

"Simmonds--" Koenig sighed.

"You could call me 'Commissioner' once in a while, John. I do still carry that title, even a million miles from Earth, as nobody here has the authority to strip me of that!"

"Very well, 'Commissioner', what Victor has proposed makes alot of sense, and I'm going to have Morrow and Carter coordinate the best way to do this. And we're a helluva lot farther from Earth that just a million miles, 'Commissioner', and you know it."

Simmonds, a politician in his early forties sporting a Three Musketeers look with his immaculate goatee and mane of thick brown hair, snorted with derision. He sat awkwardly in his chair, one hand hanging over one side and apparently in Alan Carter's personal space, if the pilot's irritable scowl was anything to go by. The others present, Victor Bergman, Controller Paul Morrow, and Doctor Helena Russell, all displayed discomfort or frustration at the hostility from the politician. Koenig was about to continue when Simmonds piped up again.

"You know, Koenig, I'll never understand why you hesitated so, after breakaway. You moped and hemmed and hawed, asking the stupid computer to make a decision for you, and when it responded it told you that you had to decide for yourself, anyway! Those first precious hours proceeding breakaway were vital for the return of at least some of your people!"

"Hindsight is usually, 20/20," Alan remarked, not making eye contact, nor even addressing the emotional politician by name or title.

"Indeed it is, Captain. And no doubt you would still chase this speeding rock, rather than make the logical choice and fly back to Earth!" Simmonds said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Now Carter did stare down Simmonds, and responded with a low, menacing tone, "Yeah. I sure as hell would, 'cause this is where my friends were. But you probably wouldn't know anything about that, wouldja?"

"Watch your tongue, Carter. You know that I'm right, deep down. That was your last chance to get back home, even coasting back without fuel, and rendezvousing with a rescue ship." Simmonds looked back at Koenig, his eyes ablaze and staring daggers at the one man present who was above him. "Koenig, you could have easily thrown a bunch of supplies into a pair of Eagles, one equipped with a boarding tube, so they could link up in space, then when one exhausted its fuel supply the other would take over for the duration of the flight back to Earth. That would have saved as many as twenty people under your charge. You could have done this three or four times over and saved as many as 80 people! Why didn't you?!"

Koenig leaned forward, his fingers linked because he didn't trust himself to not reach over and grab Simmonds by the collar and bodily throw him out of the meeting.

"I could ask you the same thing, Commissioner," Koenig said, quietly. "Where were your great ideas after we broke away? Hm? You've had a month to think of that solution. And although I can only think of two people that deserve to get off this rock, namely you and Sue Crawford, because she's pregnant, it would be impossible to decide who should go and who should stay with only an hour's notice. With all of us together we have a chance to survive. Send away 80 Alphans and you could condemn the other 250 to death because of shortages of departmental specialists. Together we stand a greater chance of surviving this crisis."

"Then let's concentrate on taking action, Koenig!" Simmonds insisted, pounding the circular meeting table with a boney clenched fist. "Not congratulating ourselves for surviving another day, and sticking cameras on the moon's rear end, as the Professor has suggested! What good will that do us, other than tax our limited resources and waste time?!"

"It's my time to waste, then, and if the Professor thinks it's a good idea, then that's good enough for me!" Alan snapped.

The fight went out of Simmonds, who exaggerated his sigh, and sat back in his chair. For the duration of the meeting he kept his eyes glued to the blank note pad in front of him, his arms crossed, effectively cutting himself off from the others.

Koenig decided there and then to schedule 'real' meetings with his people, and the occasional 'fake' one that Simmonds would be allowed to sit in on. They just might get some work accomplished then.

Victor's plan had been this; the moon's trajectory wasn't constant, and wouldn't maintain the same side of the sphere as the 'front' and 'back'. So far, Moonbase Alpha, situated within the crater Plato, was facing the general direction of where the moon was heading. However, a strong enough gravitational pull could capture the moon, resulting in Alpha looking out the proverbial backseat window, blind to what was heading towards the moon on the other side.

Therefore, surveillance cameras and sensor packages would be strung across the entire lunar surface at regular geographical intervals, so they would have the ability to observe the entire 360 degrees of the night sky. The surface had been sprinkled with a few such units, such as the ones destroyed in the Waste Disposal Areas, but that was back when they were in a comfortable terran orbit. Now the far side of the moon had the potential of becoming the 'front' of the moon, and Moonbase Alpha trapped on the darkside should the moon slide into a planetary orbit somewhere down the road.

So it was that Main Mission was abuzz with voices and activity several days later. As Controller Paul Morrow shared data with Tanya Alexander, and Alan's voice relayed his relative position to David Kano, Koenig sat back in his big leather chair and sighed with something similar to contentment. His arrival for a second term as base commander had been a whirlwind of activity leading to the inadvertent thermonuclear detonation of the Waste Disposal Areas and a runaway moon. This controlled, precise operation of his staff harkened back to the days during his first time as commander, which had rarely experienced a crisis. It was good to see his people busy and working towards a goal without a life-or-death deadline rearing its ugly head over the horizon. There was no need to push his people, because this task would keep them occupied and feeling like they were accomplishing something important. Simmonds was too selfish to understand that.

As Koenig overheard his fleet of Eagles call in from locations he'd never visited, like the craters Stevinus, Byrgius, and Hypatia, and some he'd had, like Crater Aristotle and the Sea of Tranquility, a voice from beside him forced an involuntary jolt through him due to it's proximity.

"Sorry," Doctor Helena Russell apologized, with a smile.

Koenig grimaced from embarrassment and shuffled some papers. "Don't you knock on doors, Doctor?"

Her little smile threatened to turn into a much wider one as she waved a hand in the general direction of the wide open area.

"I would...if you had a door to knock on!"

Koenig grinned, and felt himself blush. He'd been so preoccupied with watching Main Mission operations through his open doorway that he hadn't realized that someone, such as Helena, could approach him from the far side of the big control room, and not the hallway door behind him in his office.

"Sorry. Just sitting here thinking about how everyone's helping out with Victor's plan, and yet there's still one guy somewhere on this base sulking about having nothing better to do than berate everyone. I can assign Alphans only so many tasks like this before some of them turn into Simmonds clones."

Helena considered this, and shrugged. "I think your speech following breakaway about having a chance of surviving what's out there was enough to convince anyone that you truly care about your people. And this project proves further that you'll continue to look after them. Simmonds is disruptive, but John Koenig is constructive. I know who I'd place my faith in."

It was an unexpected vote of confidence, but one that Koenig fully appreciated. A month in space with these people had given him an idea of where he stood with most of them, but that bit of psychology placed Helena near the top of the list of people he felt he could rely on.

Eagle One flew low over the lunar surface of Mare Cognitum enroute for Montes Riphaeus, having just unloaded their third camera/sensor package. Three more units to unload, and then Carter and his co-pilot, Peter Johnson, could continue their debate over a cup of moonbase coffee.

"I'm tellin' ya," Carter continued, his eyes flitting across his instruments every few seconds, "the best sci-fi movie out there will always be the first 'Back To The Future' flick."

"Are you kidding me?" Johnson laughed, showing small teeth under a small moustache.

"What's not to like?" Alan defended. "There's time travellin', time paradoxes, that bloke that plays the Doc Brown character, plenty of laughs about how different the '50's are from the '80's, all wrapped in that special Spielberg packaging!"

"Geez, you're nuts, you are, Alan! If you want one of the best science fiction movie ever made you can't beat--"

"'Godzilla Versus Mothra'?"

Johnson made a sour face. "Ha ha. No. 'Back To The Future' isn't real sci-fi. For that you look no further than 'Planet Of The Apes'!"

"Awww, c'mon, you serious?!"

"What have you got against 'Planet Of The Apes'?" Johnson asked, as indignant as if Carter had insulted his sister.

"Other than Charlton Heston runnin' 'round in a loincloth complainin' about sticky ape paws and so-called apes that sound like they have a mouthful of cotton in their rubber mouths when they talk?"

"AH!" Johnson sneered good-naturedly, waving a hand. "You'll change your mind when you land this baby on a planet with real aliens, and they'll look really different from you, let me tell you."

Carter was about to enlighten Johnson about the finer points of 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark' series when he overheard interplay between another Eagle and Main Mission over his speakers. Carter and Johnson halted their debate to listen in as Eagle Five reported a problem with their surface operative, Astronaut Yuri Salkov, who had left the ship to set up a sensor unit, but wasn't responding to any hails.

Carter retrieved his grid-pattern sheet from the floor, and tried to locate the areas that Eagle Five had been assigned. Montes Alpes, Crater Autolycus, Sinus Aestuum, followed by--

"--we've been in Sinus Medii for 10 minutes now," pilot Toshihiro relayed, even as Alan read that location on his listing. "It only took him 5 minutes to do the others, and now he's not responding. Request permission to go outside and locate Salkov."

"This is Main Mission," Paul's voice replied. "Permission granted."

Alan pulled back on his thrusters, bringing the Eagle to a stop, then turned its nose around. He gave a cursory look at Johnson to see if his co-pilot had a problem with that, but was answered with a nod and thumbs-up sign.

"Hello, Alpha, this is Eagle One. We're not too far from Eagle Five's location, so we're backtracking to lend assistance if required."

There was a pause, which Alan took as Paul's moment to confirm with Koenig if this was okay, and was relieved to hear him reply, "Eagle One, you are clear to lend aid. I'm sending you Five's exact coordinates."

Carter gained altitude quickly to traverse the hundreds of miles between him and the other Eagle. He recalled that Salkov was a veteran of Alpha and probably wouldn't take unnecessary risks. He'd even joked once that he was immune to such actions, during a conversation in the Solarium. So where was the overly-cautious Russian now?

Koenig's enjoyment of the routine project was shattered by the alert Toshihiro had called in. He cursed himself for not assigning a pair of surface operatives per ship, but cut it short. Carter's remark about 20/20 hindsight came back to him, making him realize that all the second-guessing in the world couldn't prevent the unexpected.

While Tanya and Sandra continued to coordinate the other Eagles across the lunar landscape, Paul and Kano were able to concentrate on the problem with Eagle Five.

"Toshihiro is leaving the ship now, Commander," Morrow reported. "Main Mission to Toshihiro, come in."

"I'm here."

"Could you activate your commlock? Give us a picture here."

Through his thick gloves the astronaut pressed a pair of buttons and instantly a shaky picture of the lunar soil became a slightly wavy picture of Toshihiro's helmet, then the lunar horizon. Distant hills and craters were scattered across the big screen in Main Mission, but without any sign of life.

"Thanks, Toshihiro. We're receiving visual," Morrow relayed.

"I'm following Salkov's footprints. They're the only ones in the area, and are clear enough to track."

Between Koenig, Victor, Helena, and Paul nobody wanted to say a word. Their attention was locked on the big viewscreen, their eyes transfixed on the image in the belief that they just might be the one to see something a second or two before the Japanese astronaut did. Through the speakers they could hear his heavy breathing, as he left the vicinity of his ship, and ventured across the cold lunar landscape in search of his comrade.

"Regolith is thick here," Toshihiro commented between gasps. "It's like walking on a beach made of flour."

"Toshihiro, set your communications on wide-band to include us and Salkov. Start calling for him," Koenig ordered.

"Right, Commander." An adjustment later, and the astronaut could be heard calling out, "Yuri, this is Toshihiro, are you receiving me? Yuri, where are you?" No response. "Okay, if you can hear me but can't transmit, give me a signal. A laser up into the sky, or feedback-- something! Yuri, are you there?"

Salkov's status remained an unspoken mystery.

Only his footprints, which just kept getting further and further from the Eagle, gave any glue that Toshihiro wasn't on a wild goose chase. Why the Russian walked even fifty feet from Eagle Five was a mystery. The idea was to land at a prearranged location and set up the unit reasonably close to the ship. Ten feet away could result in the unit smothered by lunar dust when the ship took off, but over 200 feet away was ridiculous, should a repair team come out to fix the unit sometime in the future, only to discover it wasn't where it should be. Salkov was threatening to set up the sensor unit at a completely different latitude and longitude if he kept this up.

Amongst the ancient soil of the moon an object came into view as Toshihiro followed bootprints around a jagged outcropping of rock. He stopped in his tracks and reported,

"Main Mission, do you see this?"

With his commlock pointed directly at the distant object the collection of officers and technicians couldn't help but see what he saw.

"Affirmative, Toshihiro," Morrow answered. "Do Salkov's footprints lead that way?"

The image shifted as the pilot looked down and around. "Affirmative. I'm checking it out."

Less than a minute later the big screen was showing a tangled mess of metal and tubing that might have been metallic legs. An American flag painted on one side was smeared somewhat by a burn mark and a hole in one of the metallic plates.

"Well, I'll be! It's one of ours. An old one, by the looks of it," Toshihiro said, waving the commlock across the wreckage. "Small, though. Somekinda satellite, I guess."

"Ahhh!" Victor said from behind everyone, a small printout paper from the computer in his hand. Koenig and Helena looked towards him for the rest of Bergman's personal revelation. "It's coming back to me now! Sinus Medii; the Bay of the Center. That's the ill-fated American soft-lander, Surveyor 4, out there, John. Two and half minutes before it was supposed to land on the moon back in, uhh, July 14, 1967, contact was lost, and it was assumed to have crashed on the surface. Nobody ever went back to look for it, what with other probes sent elsewhere on the moon, and then the Apollo missions. Surveyor 6 would be rather close to where you are now, Toshihiro, but you've definitely found the wreckage of the failed number 4."

"Um, that's not all. Alpha, are you seeing what I'm seeing? This probe looks like it was taken down by a laser, rather than damage caused from an internal explosion."

"Understood, Toshihiro. Continue tracking Salkov for the time-being. That wreckage isn't going anywhere."

"Right, Commander. Hey, I've got a visual contact of something approaching from the horizon."

"Just the cavalry, Toshi," Carter's voice said over everyone's speakers. "Thought you could use a hand out here."

"Sure. Can you circle around and see if I'm even close to Salkov's position? His footprints lead towards you at about 8 o'clock, your perspective."

"Gotcha. Standby."

Eagle One altered course ever so slightly to the left, flying high enough so as not to disturb the delicate lunar dust and obscure the missing surface expert. Toshihiro paused in his walking to catch his breath, thankful for the airborne eyes of the Eagle, even though standing beside the destroyed American relic gave him the chills.

"Alpha! I've found something!" Carter gasped.

"Salkov?" Koenig asked, leaning forward beside Morrow.

"Negative! An artificial structure! Toshi, keep walking towards us for about thirty yards and you'll see it. I'm setting down nearby."

"Another 90 feet!" Toshihiro could be heard moaning. "Geez."

As he walked to where Alan had set down his Eagle, Toshihiro could tell that Yuri had come this way, too. In fact, his footprints led towards the structure, with only a minimum of distortion (someone pacing? backing up?) in the gray soil. He paused to await the arrival of Carter outside, all the time sending back an image of the artifact before him.

The big screen in Main Mission showed a collection of interconnected pyramidal domes, equalling the size of a small house. There were no windows, just smooth walls.

Except one.

An open doorway, spewing out weak yellow light, beckoned all visitors to enter.

Victor's excitement about finding the long-lost Surveyor 4 was mellowed now, as he checked Computer a second time, but came up with no data.

"Whoever built that didn't tell anyone. There's no record of an American or Russian base in that location."

"After those two there's virtually no government with the capability to create that, Victor," Koenig noted.

Bergman nodded, a twinkle in his eyes, as he said enigmatically, "I know. It might have been someone else that kept their space programme a secret from everyone else."

Koenig's eyebrows went up in surprise, before he looked back at the screen to find that Carter had joined Toshihiro at the site.

"We're gonna check that doorway, Commander," Carter said, already leading the way.

After a few steps, Toshihiro went off course slightly, and alerted his partner. "Alan! Look at this!"

Just short of the entrance, Carter turned around and saw his fellow pilot bent down, examining the footprint-laden surface. He was about to say 'so what?' when a thought struck him. He approached and bent down for a closer look, too.

"Holy crap," Carter whispered.

Toshihiro's commlock relayed what they saw. Salkov's regulation boot prints weren't alone in the soft surface. They mingled with other, smaller prints, basically the shape of a foot, but with a series of treads that didn't match any boot Carter was familiar with.

"Small," Toshihiro commented.

"Yeah. Probably no more than...size 4. Weird."

They rose and approached the open doorway, which was painted in a sickly yellow hue from several lights above their heads. A control panel at waist height blinked, awaiting a command.

The pilots looked at one another and shrugged. Carter touched a couple buttons, and found the entrance slammed shut a moment later behind him, while the interior blazed a blinding white.

"Alan! Alan, come in! Toshihiro, are you receiving?" Morrow called out desperately to no avail.

The big screen was a jumble of squiggly, chaotic lines and sparkles of static. They had no way of knowing if the pilots were still alive or just having their communications interfered with, despite the fact that their life monitors had gone silent.

"Main Mission, this is Johnson on Eagle One. What's going on?"

"We've lost contact with Carter and Toshihiro, Johnson. What do your scanners show out there?" Koenig wanted to know.

The burly pilot looked over his panels and responded, "All quiet. I'm reading an energy pattern at the building, but nothing powerful. Shall I recon Alan?"

Koenig sighed, and replied, "Standby, Johnson." He turned to Victor and Helena for advice. "Three men missing, and an installation that shouldn't be there. If I let Johnson go in by himself we might have four casualties and no answers."

"We could recall another Eagle from the operation. There're three more elsewhere across the moon," Victor offered.

Koenig gave that only a moment's thought before he shook his head. "At least two of them are on the other side of the moon, and the other down by the south pole. I think it makes more sense to continue your project of setting up sensors, Victor, while I take another Eagle out there myself."

"Then I'm coming with you," Helena said, stepping forward. "Alan and the others might need medical attention."

Koenig didn't argue. He ordered Paul to have a rescue Eagle on launch pad one with a co-pilot.

A veil of lunar dust swirled upwards from the plus-sign-shaped launch pad, and tried in vain to attach itself to the receding hull of the Eagle. The red stripes on its central utility pod gleamed red as the pad lights shone against them. Koenig found himself beside co-pilot Alex Thompson, while Helena sat in the aft section in a space suit, sans her life support equipment for the moment.

Positionally, Sinus Medii was nearly in a straight line directly south of Crater Plato where Alpha was situated, making it a very easy flight. Sinus Medii was known as the Bay of the Center, as it was almost dead center of the side that had faced Earth. Koenig considered that some day the designation might not make sense, due to the moon's unpredictable trajectory and gravitational forces still to be encountered.

"One minute to intercept," Thompson stated minutes later, checking his instruments.

"I'm going to circle a bit before setting down. Try to make contact, please, Thompson."

While Eagle Eight buzzed over her sister ships and the mysterious base, Thompson's New England accent called out again and again for Carter, Toshihiro, or Salkov, receiving as little response as a man talking to a wall. Koenig saw that the energy readings were level and non-threatening. In fact, they were comparable to the energy output of an Earth-bound house in a field.

Setting down his ship within seventy feet of Eagle One, Koenig ordered Thompson to remain and added, "Doctor Russell, if you need help with your--" He stopped in mid-sentence as he saw Helena fully equipped with her life support unit and helmet on. He found himself smiling, which she returned, as she handed him his own support unit.

"Good luck, Commander, Doctor," Thompson nodded, before returning to the cockpit so the utility pod could be decompressed.

When Koenig and Russell were a few yards from their ship they noticed the same open doorway of the building, only they were much more aware of the possibility of a trap than Alan and Toshihiro had apparently been.

Morrow, Bergman, and the rest of the Main Mission crew noticed, too, as Koenig had activated his commlock to act as a camera, transmitting what he saw back to the base. As much as he wanted his project implemented, Victor was much too interested in this mystery base to monitor Sandra and Tanya's activities. He wracked his brains, trying in vain to recall any nation on Earth, or any government agency for that matter, that would have built such a structure, virtually under their noses. Of course, he told himself, that there was no reason to believe the structure had been erected around the same time as Moonbase Alpha. Small lunar bases and installations had been created and abandoned prior to Alpha's foundation being excavated. This could have been one of them but for two major reasons; such lunar bases were never set up in secret, and also the basic design wasn't like any predecessor of Alpha.

Koenig paused and pointed the commlock down at the tiny footprints, saying, "Here're the footprints Alan spotted." He placed his booted foot next to one, pushed down, and stepped away, leaving a comparison in the ancient soil. The result was like seeing a normal man's footprint beside one of Bigfoot, only in this case Koenig was Bigfoot. His foot was twice the size of the unknown visitor to this area.

"John," Helena's voice said over the speaker in his helmet. He looked up and saw that she was pointing at the doorway, which was once again open, awaiting their entry like a venus fly trap awaiting an unsuspecting bug.

"Paul, no word from Alan or the others?"

"No, sir. All quiet."

"Then it's possible this...building is made of something that blocks our communications. I see no evidence of Alan or Toshihiro in the doorway, but there is an inner doorway. We're going in."

Helena steeled herself for entry, her concern for the missing men overriding her concern for her own life. She wished this had simply been an unlisted American or Russian base, but her instincts told her differently. Koenig actually offered a hand, which she gladly accepted. He handed her his commlock, and then removed his laser.

He stopped a foot from the doorway. "I don't have any right to ask you to come along, Doctor."

"I'm going with you. I came this far to help our men. We don't know for certain that they're not injured."

He nodded once, and relayed to Main Mission that they were entering the airlock. Koenig touched the same buttons Alan had, but was still surprised when the door slid shut in an instant behind him, locking him and Helena in a space as small as an elevator. He gripped his weapon tighter, as well as Helena's hand as the tiny room flared up into an unbearable white void.

In Main Mission the personnel present either gasped or jumped from their seats as time repeated itself. As with the two pilots, the big screen was reduced to a chaotic series of squiggly lines and static, their connection to their commander abruptly terminated.

"Commander! Commander Koenig, come in! Doctor Russell, are you receiving?" Paul called out urgently, but he might as well have been trying to make contact with distant Earth. "It's no use, Professor. We're not even getting their lifesigns!"

"Well, well, well. It appears that I've shown up just in time."

Morrow spun around, as did Bergman and Sandra. They all frowned at the visitor.

"Simmonds," Paul moaned.

The glare was short-lived, but the nausea it accompanied wasn't so easily forgotten. Koenig and Helena looked at one another, and acknowledged that they were unharmed, just a little disoriented. The exit to the moon's surface remained closed, but the inner door slowly opened without either of them lifting a finger to do so.

They also discovered that the structure was simply an access point for an underground area. Inside the building dim lights shone exposing ribbed walls, which possessed a single control panel to activate the airlock, presumably. Helena checked her sensors and reported,

"There's a breathable atmosphere in here, Commander. Not up to par with Alpha's, but close enough."

Both of them cautiously removed their helmets, and tasted the dust in the air. There was a vague rank smell that Koenig couldn't identify, but the doctor could.

"Decay. I think I smell something that's decomposing down there."

Koenig tried his commlock but it replied with static, unable to breach the walls to make contact with his moonbase. He switched channels and tried to contact Alan, but was greeted with the same kind of interference. Whoever built this made it impervious to their technology, Koenig thought.

They approached the gangway that led downwards into an equally dimly-lit corridor. "Alan! Alan, are you down there?" When he received no reply, he instructed Helena to arm herself, as well, clipping the commlock back onto his spacesuit belt.

The metal stairs creaked under their weight, even as they noticed how steep they were. They found themselves in a corridor that was low-ceilinged, barely reaching 6 feet in height, and 5 feet wide. Doors interspersed at irregular intervals down the forty-foot long corridor, which branched off to the left and right at its end. Each door possessed a small control panel about three feet off the ground, which Koenig figured was probably a locking/unlocking mechanism.

"Can you smell that?" Helena wondered.

Koenig nodded. "I have a feeling it's going to get stronger the deeper we explore." They crossed the length of the first corridor, and saw that the two others at the junction stretched out another forty or fifty feet, but had fewer doors. "Helena, could the--"

The Commander was cut short by a scream in the distance, which echoed weirdly off the green metal walls. He made a dash for it even as he realized that whoever built this place had equipped it with nearly Earth-norm artificial gravity. The scream was cut short and replaced by a terrified gasp, and an impact with something big and orange. Koenig maintained enough of a grip on his weapon that as he fell to the floor, he aimmed it in the general direction of his attacker.

"C-Commander?!" gasped his 'attacker', also sprawled on the icy cold floor.


Helena helped her commander up to his feet, even as the Russian struggled to regain his own balance.

"How did you get here?" Salkov asked, embarrassed by his behaviour, not to mention his barely-controlled hyperventilating.

"I could ask you the same thing. Carter and Toshihiro entered this base looking for you, but when they disappearred Doctor Russell and I gained entry, too. Mind explaining what you're doing down here?"

Salkov cast an agitated look over his shoulder, back the way he'd come, before replying, "Stupid idea, really. I vanted to see the old Surveyor lander that crashed nearby. Did you see it?"

"Carter did."

Salkov nodded, continuing. "I vas about to set up the probe unit vhen this place caught my eye. I know my history, Commander, and knew that this base shouldn't be here, so I checked it out. Stupid me, I vas locked inside and couldn't get out, so I decided to look around. Some doors vere locked, but others aren't, and access empty r-rooms," he said, unable to suppress a chill and a nervous look behind him. "I...just found a chamber of horrors. Back there. That's the best I can describe it."

"Carter and Toshihiro?" Helena asked.

The Russian shook his head. "Vhat happened back there...was avile ago. I haven't seen Alan, yet. Vith your permission, sir, I vish to remain here."

Koenig raised a curious eyebrow, but agreed to it. The rank odour was suddenly in his nose, and as offensive as an unkempt barnyard. He led Russell down the corridor towards an open doorway. He stopped at the frame, revolted by the scene within, while Helena gasped at the sight, her brain assaulted by the poisonous air she'd inhaled.

"Oh, my God," Koenig whispered.

"If you think I'm going to answer to you, Commissioner, you've got another thing coming," Morrow warned. "Around here I'm in charge when the Commander isn't present, and the only person I'm willing to accept orders from is Professor Bergman."

Arms crossed tightly before his chest, Simmonds mouth displayed a crooked smirk beneath his Three Musketeers-like goatee. "I'm sure your mother would be embarrassed by your lack of manners, Mr. Morrow. The fact is is that you've lost control of the situation, and I am here to rectify that."


"Yes, really," Simmonds replied, approaching the group. "I was opposed to this silly project of yours from the start, Professor, and now look what you've done! Scattered our resources and people to the four corners of the moon. Shameful."

"The Professor has been instrumental in helping this base from the ground up, Commissioner, so I'd advise you to back off!" Morrow warned.

Simmonds clicked his tongue and shrugged off the harsh glare like a dirty sock. "Don't be obtuse, boy. You need all the help you can get, and I'm here to provide it. Now I'd like a status report from someone here, as the way it looks to me is that you're stumbling in the dark."

Morrow took a threatening step forward, but was intercepted by Bergman, who offered Paul a calming smile, but a condescending one to Simmonds, who didn't know the difference.

"Allow me, Paul. Please continue to try and reach John, though. Over here if you would, Commissioner?"

Bergman ushered the arrogant politician over to the windows where they could discuss the situation out of everyone's way. Simmonds was pleased that Bergman had caved in, but wasn't aware of just how close he'd come to getting a fat lip from Paul.

Both paused at the doorway, but were drawn in nonetheless seconds later. It was like watching the remnants of a train wreck; you wanted to look away, but you had to know what happened. Koenig and Helena entered the cluttered room in different directions, curious about two different things.

She was drawn to the remains of several humans on the floor and in glass casings, or in huge jars filled with preserving liquid. They were naked males and females, missing internal organs or limbs, depending on the person. More than one human brain lay silently within a liquid-filled jar. She tried her best to shut out the stench of death she'd sensed above at the entrance, but the minimum life support system present had allowed the bodies to decompose. Had the base been decompressed the vacuum would have preserved the bodies.

Koenig was lured towards the unrecognizable equipment scattered everywhere, as well as a pair of small feet sticking out from behind a small desk. He crept up to whatever lay on the floor, but stopped in his tracks as he finally lay eyes on the owner.


The doctor hurried over to him, and gasped involuntarily again, her wide eyes locked onto the dead body splayed across the floor.

It wasn't human.

The large head, huge black eyes, tiny mouth, and child-like skinny body were proof of that. The being sparked a memory within Koenig which he released in a whisper.


Once it was ascertained that Simmonds had only Alpha's well-being in mind and no intention of usurping Morrow's authority things went easier. Simmonds was understandably worried for Koenig and the crews of the three Eagles, but no more willing to send any other ships out there than Paul was.

"Two of your Eagles still have pilots in them; those are your eyes and ears, gentlemen. They must be used to our benefit--"

"What? Like pawns in a chess game?" Kano sneered, but Simmonds didn't flinch.

"A recon, Mr.Kano. But under no circumstances should they enter that base."

"'Base'?" Paul echoed. "Looks more like a house or depot to me."

"Well, however you label it, I should think a circuit around the structure is in order, hm? Perhaps an analysis if what it's made of, so that you can truly understand why our communications are being blocked."

"We do need more information, Paul," Bergman added, gently.

Morrow took the advice and returned to his seat. "Main Mission to Eagle One."

"Johnson here. Any news?"

"Not yet, Peter. Care for a recky?"

"Better than sitting on my rear all alone. Gimme five minutes."

"Good. Just check the structure, but do not enter. I say again, do not enter. Check it out for radiation, energy signatures, composition, the works, and remain in constant communication with us."

"You got it."

Helena squinted at Koenig, and repeated the word. "'Grays'?"

The commander of Moonbase Alpha nodded solemnly. "Down through the years of UFO visitations to Earth this species of alien was the one most frequently described by eyewitnesses." He glanced over his shoulder. "And by abductees. Eventually they gained a nickname; the Grays, referring to their skin colour and that we never knew their planet of origin. This...being is similar to the one I saw in a film that was allegedly an alien autopsy. Surely you've heard of the Roswell Incident?"

Helena nodded. "1947, wasn't it? The first so-called flying saucer which crashed on someone's ranch, and was then supposedly covered up by the American government."

"Right. And the film was supposedly the autopsy of an occupant of that saucer, but not believed to be genuine by some people. Still, this race was seen again and again, even used in Hollywood movies. I was never really convinced that such an alien race existed, but now that I'm seeing one with my own eyes..."

"All those alien abduction stories take on a whole new meaning," she finished, feeling a shiver. "Why, though? What were they doing here with our people?"

"I was hoping you'd tell me, since you're the doctor. Looks like you'll be performing the same kind of autopsy on one of their kind, like they did decades ago in that film."

Russell swallowed hard, not relishing the opportunity to explore the insides of an alien being. Somehow the well-documented human biology was more welcoming to her than what lay at her feet. She knew she could do it, but a sheet would have to be placed over the inhumanly large, unseeing eyes.

"Commander! Doctor! It's Carter!" called Salkov.

Koenig and Helena gladly left the room and met up with Salkov, while Carter and Toshihiro appeared a moment later from down the original corridor. They were glad to see the others, but displayed looks that reflected their own grisly experiences. Carter revealed that they had been locked inside and explored the alien base, but had gone in a different direction than either Koenig or Salkov had gone, so they never heard their names called, although they'd been just close enough to barely register Salkov's scream.

"This place is beginning to look as big as Alpha's maintenance building," Koenig mused. "And it was hidden all this time from us. We're going to have to figure out how long these aliens have been here, and what killed them."

Carter nodded. "We saw about a dozen of the li'l guys a few corridors back there, but I have an idea about what killed 'em." His companions awaited his theory, their complete attention focused on him. "One word, Commander; breakaway."

It was like a light appeared over his head. Koenig looked at Russell, who nodded with a slight smile. "Makes sense. The stress of the g-force on all of us at first was tremendous. It must have been fatal to their frail bodies, not to mention completely unexpected."

"Sounds like a possibility, but what you're saying is that Alpha was sharing the moon with these aliens at the same time, right under our noses. How can you be sure?

Alan presented him with a previously unnoticed item that the pilot had brought with him. It was an all-too Earthly item; a battered leather wallet with identification and money inside it. Koenig pulled out a credit card stuffed within the brown wallet, and read aloud,

"Tim Miller. With a card expiry date of July 2000." He looked at his people in the eyes, one by one. "We were always told that we weren't alone. I don't think any of us gave it a second thought that that would also apply to our own moon."

"Makes you wonder, huh? We were here, an' so were they, but they probably knew about us. Probably watched us launching Eagles and set up the Ultra Probe mission, the Meta mission..." Alan said. "All the while picking us off like pieces of meat in a grocery store when they visited Earth."

"What else did you find in your search, Alan?" Koenig inquired.

"Some rooms that look like quarters, others have storage. We were about to try an' open up a bigger door when we heard brave ol' Yuri, here, scream like a girl, so we came runnin'."

Salkov managed an embarrassed smile at Alan's joke, appreciating the tap Carter gave him on the shoulder.

"Sounds promising. We'll check it out, then get back to the upper level, and try to leave that way. Paul and the others must be going crazy worrying about us, by now."

If Simmonds found any glamour in command he secretly wondered what the big deal about it was, as all he could do was what everyone else was doing; watching and waiting. On the big screen pilot Peter Johnson was walking around the strange building. It was as quiet as before, threatening no one, but beckoning all to enter. Johnson ascertained that there was just one entrance, and no windows, markings, or radiation leaks.

"Why don't I just blast open the inner door?" Johnson wondered aloud.

"Don't be stupid, man! That door is obviously an airlock! You'll kill anybody on the other side," Simmonds admonished.

"Well, I sure as hell can't even knock on the inner door, or else I'll be locked in, too."

"Stand-by, Johnson," Morrow ordered. "Okay, we've done a recon, what?"

Morrow discovered a chink in Simmonds's plan. He hoped to find a clue or a secret door, but nothing whatsoever? Simmonds sighed in annoyance, his stockpile of ideas closed to him.

Carter and Toshihiro entered the inner chamber first through the big doors they'd located earlier. Cold, bitter air greeted them, brushing past all of them as it cascaded out into the corridor. Inside was as still as a crypt. At least three more twisted Gray bodies could be seen on the floor, their emotionless faces showing just a fraction of the shock they must have experienced as their lives were snuffed out by the detonation of the nuclear waste disposal areas hundreds of miles away.

Helena gained a measure of confidence and clinical detachment since her first encounter with the dead aliens in the experimentation chamber. As well, this new room held none of the barbaric, insane experimentation on humans that the other had. Again, the aliens were naked, apparently only clothing themselves for trips to the barren lunar surface, or perhaps Earth. She knelt down to the one that had its head turned away from her, which she preferred, as the unnaturally huge black eyes were the most disturbing feature of the aliens physiognomy. She pressed the skin at various points, including the skull.

She looked up at Koenig and reported, "I'd say Alan's theory about crushing g-forces is correct, John. I can feel multiple broken bones, and severe cranial trauma. Their skin is tough and smooth, like a dolphin's. Almost...reptilian, as well."

Helena stood, and realized that Koenig and the others had listened but had been distracted. It was then that she realized that they were standing at the far section of a vast hangar bay. She shook her head unbelieving that all those UFO stories that cropped up in the news through her entire life were transforming into hard reality right before her eyes.

The hangar bay measured about 200 square feet, and parked within that area were six genuine flying saucers, sitting on their own individual launch pads, propped up on a trio of thin silver legs.

"Not as easy as it looks, is it" Simmonds heard Morrow say softly. The Commissioner was about to level a nasty retort at the Controller when he realized that Morrow's smirk was tempered with sympathy, not sarcasm. Simmonds returned the smile momentarily, his political mind returning to the business at hand.

"Apparently not. I find it odd that such a structure has but one door, however, regardless of its purpose. No windows, no vents, no electrical tubing, or external power source. Virtually a box on the moon."

"Professor? Any suggestions?" Morrow asked.

Bergman shook his head. "Not without knowing John's status inside. We can only hope that he can manage to get a message out to us."

"Actually...we might be able to contact him."

All eyes turned towards Simmonds, who almost looked like he was surprised that it had been him that uttered those words. He sighed, and added,

"Try a different wave length. One that's so far to the edge of your spectrum that it would appear to be untransmittable, and set your transmitter to maximum. Overload it, if necessary."

Morrow wondered what was going on, but did as instructed.

Even in the still hangar bay of alien saucers the bleep at his waist was almost ignored, until Koenig realized that his commlock was active. He raised it to his face and was surprised to see the startled features of Paul Morrow on the other end, albeit through snowy interference.


"Paul! Glad you broke through the interference or shielding of the building."

"Thank the Commissioner for the idea of trying an obscure wave length, sir. Are you all right? Did you find Alan and the others?"

"We are, and everyone's here. In fact, Paul, we're standing in an underground alien base, complete with flying saucers and little gree--, uh, gray men."

"With what?!"

"I'll fill you in later. But start assembling technical and medical teams. They're about to have a field day down here."

No sooner had Koenig ended the conversation when an alarm sounded around them, initiating a series of flashing lights and a build-up of energy and sound. The crew looked at one another, unsure of what to do, other than arm themselves with their lasers. The doorway they'd entered through slammed shut, while a hissing sound made their ears ache.

The saucers then began to glow amber on their smooth silver bellies, and echo in the chamber like rattlesnakes warning intruders. The ships had been activated! But how?

Koenig didn't care, as one final eerie wailing sound preceeded the grinding of hidden gears, and a terrifying sight just a few hundred feet away from them; hidden hangar doors were slowly parting, and with it the precious air they were breathing! Suddenly the Alphans felt like they were in a raging vortex, a life-sucking maelstrom that threatened to thrust them out to the moon's surface, without their helmets on.

Carter and Toshihiro suspected what was about to happen a moment earlier than Salkov, but all three still managed to lock their helmets in place, even as the pressure threw them against a support pillar or mobile control panel. Helena and Koenig weren't so lucky. She was pulled backwards towards the alien ships, her arms outstretched, eyes wide with the horrorible realization that she might have seconds to live.

"HELENA!!!" Koenig screamed, his cry a whisper within the raging wind.

He leapt towards her, uncaring of his own life, finding himself airborne for a second thanks to the weakening artificial gravity, before he practically tackled her. They fell to the ground, but slithered without effort as the atmosphere of the hangar was evacuated. In the jumble of arms and legs, Koenig let go of his own helmet, which skittered and rolled away like a crazy yellow bowling ball, so that he could use both hands to virtually ram Helena's helmet in place. He slammed the visor down, and her environmental system automatically kicked in.

He clung to her, feeling the icy cold touch of deathon his face, the hangar virtually cleared of air. The far wall was now open to show the moonscape beyond, an escape route for the saucers, but the last sight for John Koenig. His chest heaved and ached without oxygen, even as he saw his helmet laying on its side, twenty yards away from him, which might as well be twenty miles for all the strength he felt he had left.

His eyes beheld stars, but not the solar kind, as he began to pass out. He thought he felt something hit his face, but the cold of space had numbed him to all but the most miniscule of details. He didn't want to inhale, fearing the implosion of his lungs, but he finally did so, accepting in death that at least he'd saved Helena.

That was when he felt oxygen fill his lungs, and his panic lessen. He looked up, and saw that Helena had placed her reserve oxygen mask on his face, allowing him to share her oxygen supply. Carter, Salkov, and Toshihiro approached and helped him up, which was necessary as his body was continuing to feel numb from the frigid environment. He could breath but for how long? He was draining Helena's supply, endangering her chances of making it back to an Eagle safely. Seconds later he saw that one of his pilots had hopped to and from his stray helmet, and prepared to put it in place. Helena motioned Koenig to stand ready, then removed the mask from his face. He held his breath as Carter slammed the helmet and faceplate in place, but it was still a shock to his system.

The team watched in stunned silence as the crafts retracted their landing gear which seemed to melt into the hull of the saucers bellies, leaving no seam whatsoever. They hovered momentarily before gliding effortlessly in a single row like mindless soldiers towards the opening. Once outside they sped away so quickly that in seconds they were indistinguishable from the myriad stars beyond.

With the opening to the hangar bay staring them in the face, Carter took the initiative and had Salkov assist him in ushering Koenig outside, while Toshihiro and Helena followed. They fought against the natural light gravity of the moon, mentally willing the door to remain open, which it did. Seconds later Paul was trying to contact them again.

"We're okay, Paul," Csrter replied for the group. "Well, the Commander's a little worse for wear, but he'll make it. We're back on the moon's surface, thanks to a hangar bay door."

"A what? I don't know how we could have missed that, after all this time? Anyways, I also wanted to tell you about--"

"The flying saucers?"

"Uh, well, yes. That's what left your hangar bay, then? Who were they?" Paul asked.

"The occupants of this base are dead aliens, Paul," Helena chipped in, "commonly referred to as 'Grays', back on Earth. Stand-by with a medical team to assist Commander Koenig; he was subjected to several seconds of decompression and freezing."

"Understood. I'll have Mathias there when you get back."

"Paul?" Sandra said, looking up from her controls. "Sensors are showing no signs of life on those..." Her lips cracked into a smile, hardly believing she was going to say what she had to say. "...those flying saucers. They're approaching escape velocity now."

As Carter and Salkov helped Koenig back to the nearest Eagle, the Australian astronaut said, "I'm beginnin' to think we triggered some kinda intruder alert system. When we entered a section of the Gray base that we didn't belong, whatever computer system they had musta activated those ships, and sent them away. Maybe we should get Johnson to follow an--"

The night sky flared white-blue, then yellow, creating odd shadows for a moment amongst the people and rocks on the lunar surface. When it had subsided, Koenig and the others looked outward and saw a few burning stars fizzle and disappear.

Paul's disappointed voice came back on line for all to hear. "They're gone. They just blew up, by themselves."

Keeping their star flight technology to themselves, Koenig mused to himself. Carter was very disappointed, as he'd hoped to climb into one and take it for a spin.

The Commander of Moonbase Alpha was helped back to his ship, and Salkov set up his last sensor unit, before the three Eagles lifted off for each of their next destinations. The saucers were gone, but the base was still there. Koenig looked forward to hearing the reports about this alien base, its face finally revealed to humans.

"Not 'base', John. Bases."

Koenig stared at Bergman, feeling his face go white from the news. Had the decompression shock impaired his hearing?

"There's more than one of them?"

Victor nodded. "In fact, we've located nine Gray bases."

The number got stuck in his throat, preventing Koenig from repeating the mind-boggling number. He'd thought there was a chance that the Grays had set up a second base, but eight more other than the one they discovered?!

"There's someone here that can shed some light on this, fortunately," Victor said, turning around and activating his commlock.

The side entrance to Koenig's office opened, and an embarrassed Simmonds appeared on the other side, his hands clasped behind his back, looking for all the world like a naughty student awaiting punishment from a principal. He entered, his face showing he didn't know where to begin, so Bergman started for him.

"While the general population of Earth referred to the aliens as 'Grays' and didn't know where they originated, seems the Powers That Be knew it all too well. The aliens came from a planet in the Zeta Reticuli star system, some 37 light years distant from Earth. I guess that would make them Zetans or Reticulans, as they never revealed their species name to the authorities. Their journey would take about one month of Earth time one way, and they'd been coming to Earth for decades prior to the 1947 Roswell Incident. That encounter was by all accounts sloppy on their end, and would be the focal point at which humanity began to notice their interstellar visitors."

"Simmonds? You knew about this?" Koenig demanded to know.

"John, I--"

"What do you know about this, Simmonds?!" Koenig shouted, his eyes wide and blazing with hostility.

"Now, look here, John, I've been a commissioner for several years, but these aliens, these Grays, have been coming to Earth dealing with my predecessors and American officials for some time. And it was only by virtue of my title as commissioner that I was eventually told what the reality of the situation was."

"Care to share it with us, now?"

"For starters, the Grays were coming to Earth first as explorers, but their race was beginning to die out. They never told Earth authorities that they had begun such barbaric experimentation on abductees; we simply found out the hard way after many years. We told them to stop, but they wouldn't listen. Occasionally they'd even try to disrupt our space programme by destroying probes, such as Surveyor 4 in 1967, and an unmanned Mars probe in '97. We built up our fleet of Eagles and shuttles, and perhaps they began to get nervous. The first two Eagle transports to ever be destroyed were attacked by the Grays."

A memory flashed in Koenig's mind. "I remember that. Both of those flights happened in 1996, just two years into Alpha's construction."

"Yes. They didn't take kindly to our setting up such a base on what they had the audacity to consider 'their moon'. Parasites! Tell me, John, didn't you find the funding and construction of the Mark Nine Hawks just a little out of order with the way other projects were handled? That they seemed to be rushed into production and service?"

Koenig shrugged, and responded, "It was your pet project, and as far as most of us were concerned it was a little strange, considering there was no enemy to use them against...on Earth!" It dawned on him then. "They were created to fight the Grays!"

Simmonds nodded. "I never trusted the Grays, John. Not for a second, not like some people in authority. And while I was commissioner I was led to believe they only had five, small bases on our moon, not the nine that have now been uncovered. I was damned if I was going to allow them to expand their foothold on our moon and let them take over Earth, which seemed to be their plan back in '96. So the Mark Nine Hawk was created; the fastest ship ever created by humans, and with a bit of irony, armed with the same high-power laser system found on Gray ships. They dealt us a few blows, John, but we gave them a bloody nose, figuratively speaking, of course," he smiled, recalling the tiny holes that served as a nose for the aliens. "By 1998 they were not nearly as threatening, as far as we could tell, but then again, the Americans and certainly not the International Lunar Commission were aware of the true number of Gray bases."

"So whatever the Grays had in store for Earth was abruptly ended when the Nuclear Waste Areas detonated, tearing us from Earth, and literally crushing them from massive g-forces," Bergman said, stepping away from Koenig to pick up a diagram of the moon. "Ironically, they travelled substantially faster in their own ships, but the complex faster-than-light fields generated by their ships protected their frail bodies. Here're the locations of the nine bases. And a few important Earthly landmarks."

Koenig quickly scanned it and felt uncomfortable seeing so many alien bases on what he'd come to feel was 'his' moon. The moon was peppered with Gray bases, like a teenager with acne. They were present in Mare Nubium and Mare Undarum, but also in places considered nearly sacred to an astronaut like him.

"One of their bases is in the Sea of Tranquility, just 12 miles away from where Armstrong and Aldrin landed in 1969! They're also in the Mare Crisium where Russia's Luna 24 soft-landed in '76."

"Which returned with a worthless soil sample, I might add," Simmonds said, gruffly. "A Gray scouting party saw the robot and switched the true lunar soil with actual Earth soil, probably taken to the moon on one of their own scouting missions. The Russians, I understand, were confused then furious."

"Something just occurred to me. The arms race; that was to protect us from the Grays, wasn't it?" Koenig asked.

Simmonds scoffed at the thought with a derisive sound. "Not quite. The dislike between the Americans and Russians was all too real, but they did eventually realize that the amount of weaponry they'd stockpiled against one another could someday be used against the Grays, but I never saw a report come across my desk suggesting it should be done."

"So, there you have it, John. We always thought we were alone on the moon, and thanks to breakaway, we truly are, for the first time since Armstrong set foot on her," Bergman said, sounding wistful. "Almost a shame, really. Had they survived the Grays may have been a great benefit to our survival, what with their light-speed starships."

Koenig agreed. "I wonder what their reaction was when they sent more of their ships to Earth, only to find the landscape altered and no moon in orbit?"

"Severely limited in resources, I should think," Simmonds stated, starting to leave. "Their lunar bases were ostensibly valuable as refuelling stations." He smirked with a trace of malice. "Without them...they're incapable of making a return trip home!"

Koenig and Bergman then heard a sound they'd never heard before, nor thought they'd ever hear.

A hearty bout of laughter from Simmonds, silenced only by the closing of Koenig's office door.

This is the first story in the "Gray Moon" series. Next story
Copyright (c) 2003. Reprinted with permission.
Space:1999 is (c) 1976 by Carlton International Media.
All stories are the property of their respective authors.

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