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A Long Night's Walk Into Day

Authors: GJ
Episodes: Set after The Dorcons
Show Year: Y2
Rating: PG
Date: 2000
Twenty-five years after "The Dorcons", Alan Carter is Commander, Jackie Crawford is head of reconnaissance, and Talia Verdeschi is the science officer. They face a grave danger after little contact with anyone in over 2 years.
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Chapter One

Status update 9382 days since leaving Earth orbit. Twenty five years, seven months and two days. Moon on unknown trajectory. Earth standard time unknown due to variables encountered by moon.

Lunar standard time: 11:50 AM

The bottle smashed against the travel tube door, splashing golden liquid on the wall and floor. The cleaning crews would clean that up latter. At the moment there was too many people in the reception area. Alan Carter had been in this type of situation before, and still felt uncomfortable with it. John Koenig had been the best at this type of thing, even though at times Alan had thought that he had moments when he was ill at ease with it as well. But John had never let it show to much, and Alan would do no less.

He glanced down and noticed that some of the golden concoction that came from the bottle had gotten on the black arm of his uniform. He brushed it away, hoping it wouldn't burn a hole in the sleeve before this was finished.

"With this dedication I officially declare Serenity Base operational. This was the last part of our new expansion project to be completed. And with it starts a new era for this life we lead. It opens the living space for all of us here in Alpha and with the larger hydroponics section it makes us even more self sufficient than we've ever been before. We will now be better able to live and prosper until we do find a planet that we can colonize."

An applause came up through the assembled people. Allot congratulating each other. Alan let them, they definitely deserved it. It had been hard work building the new part of the base and the other structures before that, but it had been worth it. The people of Alpha had had a new sense of purpose for the last few years with the expansion of the fabrication facilities creating the ability to construct stand alone structures instead of just rebuilding damage to existing ones.

He let things quiet down before continuing. "Now, with the pleasantries out of the way, lets have the first families come on up to start moving into their new homes, eh?"

There was another round of applause, and the people parted to let the first few families make their way to the new travel tube. Families were another thing that was amazing to the life here on the wayward moon. Years ago Jackie Crawford was the first child born on Alpha, but the reason for that was that his mother was pregnant with him at the time of the accident that sent them hurling through space. After that there were of course more couples on Alpha that wanted children of their own, but with the balance of supplies and other essentials, food, air, power and living space were all not conducive to the patter of little feet in the hall ways.

After a few months though there was a significant find of raw materials and edible fruits and plants from one of the planet surveys and it was possible to start letting people have children, although only five couples were allowed at a time and only after the systems balanced again with the new births were the next five allowed to proceed. That was about twenty years ago and now some of those families and some newer ones were getting a new home to move into.

Alan shook the parents hands, the older kids, and patted the heads of the smaller children as they boarded the travel tube. He decided that he was getting use to the public displays and speeches. All it takes is time he thought to himself.

He was working his way out of the reception area as other people began to go back to their work stations and assignments, when a hand slapped him on the shoulder.

"Nicely done commander, you're getting better at this all the time."

"Thanks Bryan." the commander said sarcastically." You know though, I think that latest brew of yours is eating a hole in my sleeve."

Bryan Warren, chief of construction and fabrication and self appointed brew master of Alpha, gave a mock laugh. He had taken up the cause of making beer for Alpha since Tony Verdeschi's death. It was a matter of pride for him, and his way of honoring Tony, by taking up the hops and barley mixing, synthetic of course, from where Tony had left off. Though six years had done nothing to improve on the previous thirteen. They were still every bit as bad as anything that Verdeschi had made.

"You never have given my beers a chance. You should, if only for a taste of home" He said to the commander.

"Well, Bryan, your taste of home doesn't match anything that I remember of how beer tasted so if you don't mind I'll stick with just my fond memories."

They started down the hallway to the lift."Thats typical," Bryan said, " no adventure left in the heart after so many years. Some times I kinda wish you had not excepted command and stayed in the cockpit, at least you'd still be willing to try new things."

"Even if I was fresh off of flight training and wanted to get drunk to celebrate," Carter told Warren, "you couldn't get me to try one of your brews."

Warren looked hurt as they walked toward the lift."Hey at least I've tried to improve on some of Tony's old recipes."

"Yeah, well small improvement. Tony's weren't any good to begin with and , I hate to say Bryan, yours aren't palatable either." He decided to change the subject. Tony Verdeschi"s death still got to him even after six years. "So tell me how are things looking as far as the systems go in Serenity ."

The lift arrived and they got in. "Everything has gone on just as it should Commander. We should have had it this easy when we first built Alpha."

Carter pressed the button for Main Mission and the lift began it's ascent. He asked "How's the number eight reactor coming?"

"We're getting it done, just working out the bugs in the support systems, You know how some new computers can get finicky when its time to go on-line. But eight is a backup to a backup reactor so as long as we don't have to tie all of them together for anything it's not going to be a problem getting it up to speed. You don't want to rush anything to do with a nuclear reactor."

"No we don't want to take chances with it." The Commander agreed. "Especially not when it's part of the new base."

The lift came to a halt on the command level of Main Mission tower and they got off. Main Mission, the two story high nerve center of moon base Alpha up till just short of a year into their journey through the stars, had been closed by Commander Koenig due to safety concerns over the high exposure to outside threats. There had been many times during that first year that Carter had wondered just how they all survived the many close calls that had caused so much damage but never enough to breach the windows and kill them all.

Koenig had decided to not tempt fate any longer and closed Main Mission, moving to the backup command center located on the lowest level of Alpha. Carter had agreed with Koenig at the time, but never did like the command center that much. To cramped and confining for his taste, at leased for not being a cockpit.

With the expansion of the fabrication facilities though that had changed, and Carter had made the decision to reinforce the structure, there by being able to reopen Main Mission. He just felt more comfortable in the larger room and it was easier to keep an eye on the base from there.

Commander Carter and Bryan Warren walked from the lift around the corner and entered Main Mission from one of the duel doors at what would be the front of the large room. They walked passed the consoles in the center of the room on the left and the main computer and observation balcony on the right. Controller Jeff Burman handed the Commander a report before they went up the short steps leading to the second half of Main Mission and the Commander's personal office.

Stepping to his desk and setting the report down he turned back to Warren, "OK Bryan what's the status on the new hanger and repair bays for the Hawks?"

"We've just put the finishing paint on them, and their ready for inspection sir." He said beaming with obvious pride in his work crews.

"Alright, you go and personally make sure that number eight reactor gets the bugs worked out of it and I'll see you at the Hawk bays in one hour."

"Yes sir." He straightened up and gave a mock salute. Then, smiling from ear to ear, he turned and left Main Mission the same way they came in.

Carter watched him go, and covered a laugh at the man's unwavering good nature. You could always count on Bryan Warren to brighten the darkest hour. He finally turn his attention to the report that Jeff had given him. He knew what it would say but he hoped he'd be wrong. He read the report.

Same readings from the sensors, same pictures from the long range cameras, same projections from computer.


Empty space. No planets , no asteroids, no stars. Dead, eternally black, empty space. There wasn't even any anomalous radiation for them to study. And it had be this way for the last two years. But for all that time the Alphans had kept up good spirits and attitudes. Alan Carter gave credit for that to the fact that all of Alpha's personnel had been exceptional human- beings to begin with. Knowing this made it easy to see how these people had coped with all the adversities they had encountered in their long odessy through deep space..

The last planet they had come in contact with was Delaan. A most inhospitable place where the inhabitants were in a constant state of flux between this reality and another. Though at peace in this reality, they were in a state of war with some other species in the other. When Alpha had lumbered into the system the Delaanians had mistaken it for an attack by their enemies and started to bombard the moon with huge pieces of rock and earth from their planet.

The Delaanians used some sort of magnetic catapult, similar in theory to the weapons on earth of the mid 13th century, to hurl these projectiles towards Alpha, each the size of one of the Eagle landing pads. They had been lucky enough to get out of range of the planet before the base had suffered any major damage, never having the chance to talk to the Delaanians to let them know that the moon was no threat to them.

Two side benefits of this was that it left the people of Moon Base Alpha not particularly eager to find another planet anytime soon. And with the huge pieces of earth that impacted on the moon's surface, one hundred and twenty nine in all, being rich with alloys and other materials, it added to the stores already built up from finds on other planetary surveys in the past. And gave them enough to start on the expansion project that Alan had worked on for years with John and Bryan but never had enough of the supplies. With the projectiles being mined and then with the arrival of a small group of asteroids that locked into orbit around Alpha, also bearing raw materials they could use, construction began in earnest.

That project was now complete after two years of work by almost every one on Alpha. It had kept everyone's minds off the fact that they had been in a void for this long a period of time. Now he feared that they would start realizing it.

Commander Alan Carter set the report down and just watched the Main Mission command crew for a few minutes. He hoped that some planet or some phenomenon would show up before the real boredom set in.

Chapter Two

He took travel tube eleven to the Hawk bays. It had been more than an hour since he had told Warren that he would meet him for the inspection.

The Hawk bays had been started just after the construction on Serenity Base had begun. It had been a necessity, due to the fact that the Hawks needed a faster way to get space born than the original launch pads could provide. So these bays and maintenance hanger were built in the northern most mountain-wall of Plato crater where Alpha was located.

Four bays in all, two facing south out over Moon Base it's self, and two facing north on the opposite side of the flat topped mountain that had been unofficially named "The Nest" by the work crews that had labored hard to get it finished. The bays were equipped with five of the standard landing pad elevators like the Eagle pads, arranged in a x configuration. One in the center with two on either side making up the x. The elevators worked in similar fashion to the standard ones. A Hawk will land on it's numbered pad on top of the bays after a mission, it is then lowered to the launch bay level where basic maintenance and refueling is performed. In the event the Hawk is damaged, requiring more extensive repairs then the same elevator will lower it to the hanger level where the full repair and maintenance is taken care of. The hanger of the Hawk's "Nest" being completely inside the mountain, it is very well protected and the lack of the black and red paint scheme of the Eagle pads, makes it more camouflag ed as well.

The Hawks themselves were a necessity to the protection of Alpha. The Hawk Mark 9 was, at the time the moon was blasted out of orbit of the Earth, the top of the line space fighter craft.

It was designed to be faster and more heavily armed than the Eagle and more maneuverable. Unfortunately the Hawk was one of the political pawns of the day, as the Inter- planetary Space Finance Commission had cut the funding to the small fleet that was maintained on the Centuri space dock, and plans were made to dismantle the Hawks for spare parts.

This never had the chance to take place though as, when the moon left orbit, the space dock was destroyed by the terrific G-forces created by the breakaway effect.

Ten years later John Koenig had decided that Alpha needed a better defense than the laser batteries and the Eagles. And with the allocation of some materials and the cannibalization of three of the Eagles, they had put together three Hawks, working off the blueprints that were in main computer. Then another was added the next year when more materials could be spared.

For the last ten years or so the Hawks had performed splendidly. But using the standard landing pads had made deployment slow at some critical moments, and Carter had asked the engineering department to come up with a separate and quicker way for the Hawks to get into space. The answer they came up with was the "Nest", and Alan Carter had to admit that it was impressive on paper.

As Commander Carter exited the travel tube at the bottom level of the Hawk bays, he was greeted by the on duty security officer at the reception area. The commander used his comlock to enter the elevator that would take him to the bays themselves. When the doors opened onto the observation deck, Bryan was there waiting for him.

"Well sir, gave us a little extra time to get ready for inspection did we?" He asked jokingly.

"Commander's privilege." The Carter said. "Besides Bryan, you and I both know you were ready before you told me you were ready."

"What can I say Commander, you know me well." He responded. "Say we start with the emergency control room and go from there."

"Sounds good to me."

The inspection went quickly, due to the fact that Warren's work was always top notch and that Carter had been here after completion of every faze of the construction. Every thing was as it had been figured out in the blueprints. A testament to thorough planning before beginning. The maintenance hangers, the launch bays, the control room and it's backup were all functioning as they should and the new technology that had been designed and built into the landing pads, the interconnected electro magnets that aloud the Hawks to float a few inches off the pads during a launch, were working perfectly.

It was time to test out this new home for the Hawks.

"Well Bryan what's say we take one of the Hawks out for a little spin and see just how well all this stuff you've put together really works?" Alan said brightly, he was still a pilot at heart after all.

"Sounds good to me sir. Number two is ready to go, we'll get the suits from the pilot's ready room."

Fifteen minutes later they were strapped into the cockpit of Hawk two finishing the pre- flight check.

Carter keyed the comm. unit, channeling the call through the launch bay control room to main mission. "Main Mission, this is Hawk two, preflight check complete, we're ready to launch."

Jeff Burman's voice came back through the speakers. "We copy Hawk two. Just a short run around the block Commander ?"

"That's all Jeff. Want to check the launching system on the Hawks here. And, besides, it gives me an excuse to log some flight time. Got to stay in practice some how."

"Roger Commander, your final countdown is on launch bay control. Have fun."

"Copy that Main Mission." Carter responded then looked over at Warren with a grin."Lets light this candle Bryan."

"Yes sir" Warren said with his mock salute.

Smiling, Carter switched to launch bay control. "Hawk bay control this is Hawk two ready on pad two, preflight is complete we are ready to launch."

"We copy Hawk two," came the reply from the on duty controller. "We are depresurizing the bay. Standby for main door opening."

The sound of air being pumped out of the bay died away, then the groan of heavy metal accompanied the view of the bay doors opening in front of the ship. Carter ran down the launch procedure in his mind from seeing it tested so many times. The blast shields would be raised into position next, to divert the exhaust from the engines into vents that would take it out side the complex. Then the magnetics would be activated and the Hawk would rise off the pad a few inches, enough to eliminate any drag on the ship as it launched. The Hawks were launched horizontily out of the bay to eliminate the need to raise them into position like the Eagles. This cut the launch time dramatically, and was the reason the bay and hangers had been located in a suitable mountain. In emergencies, the Hawks could go from standby to space in about five minutes.

The controller interrupted his thoughts."Blast shields are up," this was followed by the soft clanging of locking mechanisms reinforcing the blast shields. "Magnetic field is on. Stand by for final count down Hawk two."

"Roger that launch control." Carter said, then to Warren. "I think we'll just try a half thrust launch Bryan, no sense burning that much fuel for a test flight."

"Your the boss Alan." Warren answered, then closed his visor.

Carter closed his own visor as the count down started from ten. As the controller got to zero Alan pushed the throttle for the main motor up to half power. With a roar, the Hawk leaped forward through the bay doors and into opened space above Moon Base Alpha. G-forces kept Alan and Bryan pressed back into the seats until Alan throttled back the thrust.

He then began a slow turn to bring them back around the other side of the Hawk's Nest. Carter enjoyed getting to fly when there wasn't any emergency, or impending doom. Just to enjoy being up in a ship for it's own sake was something he rarely had the chance to do. And flying one of the Hawks was even better because it was faster and more maneuverable than the Eagles, it was just more fun.

He dipped the nose down and pushed the throttle up as they came around the "Nest", angling for the slight canyon between the Hawk base and the adjoining crater walls. Kicking moon dust high off the walls as the ship flew through the gap, Carter barrel rolled the ship before he pulled the throttle back for a slow pass over Alpha. He brought the ship to one hundred feet over Main Mission and did a flyby. Inside, Jeff Burman and a few of the other command staff unconsciously ducked as Hawk two roared by, clearly visible from the observation balcony.

Jeff looked over to the data analysis station, " I wish he wouldn't do that, it's hard on the nerves."

Sandra Benes, obviously unaffected by the flying stunt, said, "Stick to Main Mission for a few more years Jeff, you'll get use to it." Then looked, with affection, at the radar image of the Hawk on her console.

"Yes? Well maybe you could say something to him about it?" He almost sounded pleading.

Sandra stared at Jeff for a moment, then answered him. "Just because we're married doesn't mean that he will listen to everything I have to say. He's still the Commander and he makes his own decisions. Besides, it's good to have a scare once and a while, it will keep your heart pumping."

Jeff could do nothing except shake his head.

Carter angled the Hawk forty five degrees south east and headed for Serenity Base. While they were up here he might as well get a good overall view of the new facility. Serenity Base had been located in a small crater immediately bordering Plato crater in order to be able to still protect it with Alpha's defenses, but far enough away that it should escape damage in the case of a direct attack on Alpha.

Crossing over the low hills, Alan and Bryan could see the base. The design of Alpha had been kept in mind when Serenity had been planned. The basic radiating wheel pattern was retained except Serenity consisted of just four main structures, of the same size, positioned around a central rounded building that housed the main reactor, the other three reactors being placed in three of the outer buildings. An emergency landing pad was placed directly at the north end of the facility and a Rescue Eagle was now kept in the small hanger beneath the pad.

There was no visible sign that Serenity was connected at all to Alpha. This is due to the travel tubes being built completely under ground, unlike most of the tubes in Alpha that are situated on the surface. Also below the surface are the new hydroponics gardens. At least ten times larger than the original section that was part of moon base, each new garden is about twenty acres in size. They are separate, one set under the east and one under the west buildings with water supply and sun panels totally separate from the base supplies. One of the gardens is devoted to vegetable, fruit and other food sources, the other for plants both exotic and normal.

Raising his visor, Carter said. "Looks like you really out did yourself this time Bryan. The base looks great."

Bryan raised his own visor, "Well thank you commander, but I'm just the guy in charge. The real credit goes to the men and women who put in their sweat and muscle to get it done."

"I haven't forgotten that Bryan. As soon as the last minor thing is done I personally will see that every one on the work crews gets at least one month off to do nothing but enjoy the things they've built."

Warren grinned from ear to ear as he looked Commander Carter in the eyes and said, "I will take great pleasure in telling them that Alan."

Carter smiled back, "OK, well lets take her around one more time and head for the far side eh?"

"Like I said before, your the boss."

They circled Serenity once more before turning the ship to head for the far side of the moon. On their course they passed to the north of the Sea of Tranquillity, landing site of the first astronauts on the moon and now the place of rest for the dearly departed friends and loved ones of Alpha. Carter always gave a silent nod of thanks to all the people buried there, for their ultimate sacrifice in preserving the lives and prosperity of all in the moon base.

They came around the far side of the moon on a leisurely cruise that would take them over the original blast site, waste disposal area two, the cause of this moons long flight.

In Main Mission the business was, as usual, common place. Then one of the orbital satellites started relaying some interesting information. Suddenly a collision alert sounded.

The command personnel were taken aback for a second, then they burst into action. All this time with out a single thing happening, it was a slight shock to have something unexpected come up.

"What have we got Sandra?" Jeff said.

"According to the orbital satellite sensors, it's small, metallic, and coming in at an incredible velocity."

"What's it's course, where is it going to hit?" He was standing with his hand over the call button that would instantly have the laser batteries come on line.

Sandra checked her board, "The readings are coming from satellite number six, it's on the far side, away from us. It looks like it will impact on that side of the moon."

Jeff relaxed a little. But only a little. "Do we have time to have Bryan and the Commander intercept it?"

"NO. It's coming in too fast. Impact in twenty seconds!"

Jeff stabbed for the communications control. "Commander, evasive action, there's an unknown object going to impact in your area in fifteen seconds! GET OUT OF THERE!"

Carter and Warren didn't bother to respond. They slapped their helmet visors down and Alan whirled the ship around to try to get clear of the impact zone. Only seconds before Main Mission's warning the onboard computer in the Hawk had picked up the same object.

As the Hawk came about they saw the object streak by. It hit the surface with enough force to raise a plume of dust and rock, but there was no explosion.

Carter called in. "Main Mission , we're all right. It missed us, but not by much."

Burman's voice answered, "Good to hear Commander. We didn't register any explosion from the area."

"No, no explosion, but it did hit with allot of speed. It will be a while before the dust clears from the site." He turned to Warren, "Bryan, check on the radiation."

Bryan checked the readings. "I'm not getting any radiation from this distance. That doesn't mean that there won't be any closer in."

Burman's voice on the comm system said, "Should we send a recovery Eagle out to the impact site Commander?"

"Negative Jeff," the commander responded, "we'll go in closer to check the radiation levels but have the Eagle on the pad, and the team standing by."

The Hawk descended toward the area that the object hit. They were flying through fairly thick dust, but it was dissipating fast.

Warren checked the readouts for the seventh time. "Still no adverse radiation readings Commander."

"Are you getting any radiation at all?" Alan asked.

"Yea, there's nominal radiation. The type anything metallic gets when flying in space, Eagles, Hawks they all pickup some kind of ambient form of radiation. But there is nothing in the readings that could be dangerous to us."

Alan thought for a second, "All right. Main Mission? Jeff, launch the recovery Eagle. Have them make sure this thing is inert before they try to move it."

"We copy Commander." Jeff's voice said over the speakers.

Alan added,"We'll head back to the Hawk bays, and I'll come straight to Main Mission." He clicked off the comm. "So much for the leisurely flight." He said to Warren.

"Just our luck I guess Alan." he responded.

They turned the Hawk toward the base, and Alan thought that the boardem that he was afraid would permeate Alpha was going to come to a quicker end than he had thought.

Twenty minutes later, the recovery team was on the main view screen in Main Mission as Commander Carter walked in. "Status?" he asked Jeff Burman.

"The team has just cleared away enough of the moon dust to get the grappler on it." he answered the commander gesturing to the screen.

Alan looked, "Did they take any close-up readings yet?"

"Just about to."

Alan pushed the comm button. "Main Mission to recovery team, Neil, make sure that thing is inert before you put the grappler on it."

The voice came back over the speakers in Main Mission. "Doing the analysis now Commander."

From the camera mounted on the Eagle, the three members of the team bobbed, and moved in slow motion on the moon's surface. Neil Richards, the team leader, reported on the object. "The object is three and a half meters long, by one and three quarters around. The surface of it is basically smooth,with only slight imperfections. There are three multi-directional thrust units on, what I assume is the back end of it."

"Try getting a deep scan of the inside of it Neil." Alan said.

"Scanning the interior." Richards responded.

Carter asked the question that had to be asked. "Any indication that its some kind of a weapon?"

"Not from the readings I'm getting here Commander. There's some kind of mechanism at work in it but it's so low powered it can't be a weapon. And there's nothing that could be taken as any kind of war head. Hold on, I'm getting something strange."

"What is it Neil?" Alan asked. They had come into contact with so many unknown things out here among the stars that they couldn't take anything at face value.

Richards answered, "I've got a reading of bio-matter inside the object."

"You mean there's something alive in there?" Jeff said.

"Can't confirm that," The image on the viewer said "but I am defiantly reading something organic." There was a pause. "Commander I recommend we take it to the ISO-lab and see if we can open it up."

It seemed as if everyone was holding their breath as the Commander weighed the matter. "All right," he said, " escavate it and take it to the ISO-lab." He turned to Jeff. "I want two people from technical, everyone except the recovery team is to leave the area immediately."

"Yes sir." Jeff said, then contacted technical to get two people on their way.

Carter called up the Medical section. "Medical here." Doctor Mathias answered.

"Bob?, we've got something coming into the isolation lab," Alan told his long time friend. "I need two people at travel tube five right away."

"OK Alan, we're on our way."

Alan knew that Mathias would be one of the two people. The one time assistant to Helena Russell, never told anyone in the Medical section to do something he would not do himself first.

Alan started for the exit. "Jeff, Sandra, you keep the monitors on the recovery team until they get to the lab. Once we're all there, if I give the order to depressurize, I expect it to be followed," he looked at both in turn, giving Sandra a slightly more loving expression, "is that understood."

"Yes sir." Jeff said.

"Yes, Commander." Sandra answered pensively.

Alan gave her his best, hey no worries, look. Then he was on his way to the travel tube.

The recovery team had no problems in either removing the object from the surface, or the flight to the ISO-lab. All four of the team were now in the control room of the lab with the Commander, Dr. Mathias and nurse Jaina Osuka as the two technicians, clad in protective jumpsuits, slowly moved the alien object into the isolation area. The techs got it locked into position, and turned to the control room window for what to do next.

Carter turned to Richards, "You had the most time to examine it Neil, what do we do now?"

Richards, who had gotten into a jumpsuit as the object was brought in, said "I think there is a control panel on the back of the thing Commander. If I could, I'd like to try to open it."

Alan said "OK, but at the first sign of trouble get out of there as fast as you can."

Richards nodded his agreement, put on his breathing mask, and entered the isolated area. The techs moved aside as he approached the object. He ran his hand over the surface of it and came to the back of it opposite the control room. There, was a small panel of lights, green, red, blue, yellow. The blue was slowly blinking now, Richards took an educated guess and pressed the green. The blue light started blinking faster. Then the yellow light came on as the blue increased it's rate even more. As the blue light came almost to a steady burn the red came on accompanied by the sound of pressurized gas being released. Finally the green light came to life, and all the others went dead.

Watching from the control room, Alan Carter noticed a seam form around the front part of the object. The others didn't see it yet.

The Commander hit the intercom. "Back away from it. NOW!"

With another hiss of gasses, the seam split open and the panel that was now the top part of the object lifted slightly and slid down to the side.

The techs and Richards stepped back up to the side and peered into the opening. A soft glow illuminated the interior of the object, and a gelatinous substance filled it right to the edge of the opening. As Richards looked closer, he could decerne a shape in the gel like substance.

"Commander," he said, "I think this is some kind of life boat."

"Why?, What do you see Neil?" Carter asked.

"Well, there's a gelatinous substance filling this thing, and I think I see a humanoid form in the middle of it."

Carter and the others looked at each other, then he turned on the over head camera for the isolation area. There, in a close up shot of the opened panel, was the shadowy shape of a human. He looked at Mathias in disbelief. "If that is humanoid, there's no way it could have survived the impact. Not at the speed it was going."

Mathias had no answers for him. He looked out at Richards, " Neil, take some readings on the gel."

"Hold on doctor." He picked up one of the scanners and passed it a few times over the opening. "Looks non hazardous. Just biological gel." He touched it . "Firm, but not solid."

"So, what do you think Bob?" Alan asked.

"Just as a hypothesis, I'd say that the gel was a kind of flight cushion that would protect the occupant from any blunt trauma." The doctor said.

"Looks like you've got a patient then Bob." Carter then turned to the intercom," Richards? Make sure that there won't be any adverse effects from using the lasers to cut that out of there, then get to work."

After the doctor had suited up, it had taken him and Neil Richards nearly an hour to cut and remove enough of the gel material so the humanoid could be removed from the life-boat, or escape pod, as they had come to think of it. The Alien turned out to be very human like. A male about thirty five years old, by Earth standards, six foot four inches tall with a heavy build, wearing a simple light jump suit. The gelatinous cushion had covered him completely, but he did have some kind of breathing apparatus attached to his mouth and nose. Obviously to keep him oxygenated while encased in the cushion.

Mathias examined him and found no adverse effects from his hard landing, except that he was still unconscious. "But that's to be expected," Mathias said, "with traveling at the speeds you say that life boat was, and the impact on the surface, even though he's not received any physical injuries, the trauma to the nervous system and to the mind could keep him out for quite some time."

"Do what you can for him," Carter said to Mathias, looking down at their new visitor. "And let me know when he starts to come around eh?"

With a nod Doctor Mathias and the nurse headed for the travel tube to take the alien to the Medical Isolation Ward.

Alan turned to Rchards "Neil you and the techs take the escape boat to a sealed off room in storage. We'll see about learning more from it later."

"Yes Commander" Richards answered.

The Commander then turned and headed for the travel tube himself. He wondered to himself who this alien was and what he was doing out here in the middle of nowhere in such a thing as that life pod? As the travel tube took him back to the main part of the base, he hoped they would have the answers soon.

Chapter Three

The Command staff meeting was going about normal, under the circumstances. Jeff had suggested that they find out where their visitor had come from by sending out a long range Eagle on the vector the life pod had come from. Sandra, always the cautious one, argued that that would be not only dangerous due to the lack of information, but also extremely hazardous because the vector in question lay on a diagonal path that the moon was moving away from. So there was no guarantee that the Eagle would be able to get back if anything unforseen happened.

Talia Verdeshi, the twenty year old daughter of Tony and Maya, and one of the top scientific officers due to her mother's Psychon biology and intellect, put in that there would be little point in sending out even a long range Eagle since there was no way to determine how far the life pod had really traveled.

David Lichton, in charge of technical section, suggested that the Eagle could still go along the course and turn back before the point of no return if they didn't find anything. But if they did find where ever it was that the alien came from, it might mean a technicalogical find of immense proportion if it was, in fact, a vessel. Because any ship that could be out here in this waste land of space must be capable of traveling great distances, and they should find out more about it's technology.

Jack Crawford, the first child born on Alpha, now twenty four and head of reconnaissance, was of course all for piloting the Eagle on the mission.

So, as it usally went, the choise was split. Three for sending out an Eagle, and two against, with the Commander having to make the final decision. Alan weighed the curiosity of everyone here including himself, with the need for safety. Finally making his decision.

"Jack," he said, "Have a long range Eagle made ready on pad one. Equip it with the extra booster unit. The crew will consist of you, me, Robert Pulman from technical, and Neil Rchards since he has already had contact with the life pod and it's technology. Talia, Sandra, you plot us out a flight plan that will give us the longest possible range but still have us get back with- out taxing our fuel."

"Yes sir." said Talia, souding a little dejected.

"This is not a good idea Commander." Sandra said. It wasn't because they were husband and wife, Sandra always spoke her mind even if it was of the opposite opinion of Alan's.

"It's the best compromise right now." He said to her. Then to the rest, "OK, lets get it together."

The others got up from the table and headed off to their assignments. Sandra stayed back for a minute until they were alone in Alan's office.

"I know what your going to say," Alan told her, "But if there's any chance that this alien has a ship and a crew that may be in trouble, we have to see if we can help."

"Even at the risk of our own people?" she asked. "I realize it's been a long time since we've seen anything or anyone out here Alan, but that doesn't mean we should jump head first into the first thing to come by."

"Hey, Sandra, that's not fair."

"Is it? We don't know anything about this alien. What if he was in that pod for specific reason?"

He clasped her shoulders in his hands to try to cahm her fears. "Look, have I taken any unnessesary risks since I became Commander?" he asked her.

"No." she had to admit.

"Well there you go then. I'm not the brash young pilot anymore sweetheart. Besides I've got alot to be sure I come back for, namely you and Chris." he pulled her close and hugged her. She hugged him back.

"It's just that for years it seemed that we were at odds with the entire universe," she said, her head craddled against his chest. "and I've enjoyed the last two years in this void. Not having to call an alert, not having to send out Eagles or Hawks to intercept anything. It's been peaceful."

"There are some people that would disagree with you on that, as far as enjoying them- selves. But I know what your saying. I haven't missed having every alien race we come across trying to brain wash us, enslave us, or just plain wiping us off the face of the moon." Alan said to her. He held her out to look into her eyes. "I am going to go to medical though and see if I can get more information before we go."

Sandra smiled, "That dosen't sound like the Alan Carter that was here fifteen or twenty years ago."

"It dosen't?" Alan said with a look of thought on his face. "Huh, well I like to think that I've groan up a bit."

"You have," she said, and kissed him lightly on the lips. "but don't to much."

"Hey, trust me."

She smiled again and went into Main Mission. He looked after her for a minute before heading for medical.

Doctor Robert Mathias sat at his desk studying the scans of the unconscious alien. He still had a problem thinking of this as his desk. He had been asked to take over the medical section after being in the Data section for almost fifteen years. He was Helena Russell's chief assistant for a few years but thought he could better serve Alpha by doing comprehensive studies of the effects of deep space exposure on human beings in the Data section. So he had transfered out of medical to much opposition from Dr. Russell.

When Alan Carter had excepted the Commander's position after the deaths of John Koenig and Helena Russell, he had asked Mathias if he would go back to headup medical. Alan had pointed out that there were others doctors but none with experiance or presence of leadership that Mathias possesed. So he had reluctantly agreed, and been in Medical section for the last eight and a half years.

His comlock beeped in it's desk holder. He picked it up. Alan's picture was on the small screen. Mathias aimed the comlock at the door and pressed the open button.

"Hey Bob," Carter said as he came in. "any change in your patient?"

"Well, he's resting comfortably. But thats about all I'm sure of."

"What do you mean?" Alan asked.

"I've never seen an anatomy like his before." He picked up the scans to show the Commander. "Look at these scans and tell me what you see."

Carter took the sheets and studied them for a few seconds. It didn't take long to see what Mathias was refering to. "He has two hearts."

"Two hearts, two livers, two sets of lunges. He's got secondaries for every organ in his body. The only thing he seems to not have a second for is his brain." "That's amazing." Alan told him. "I guess you'd have to have a build like his to house all the organs."

Mathias nodded. "As far as I can tell it's the natural evolution of his race."

Alan walked over to the window that looked into the isolation ward. "Would you be able to bring him around?"

"Without a chemical work up, I wouldn't want to chance it." He said as he walked over to stand beside Carter.

"We're going to send a long range Eagle out to see where he came from, Bob, and if there are any others that may need help. I'd like to have as much information as I can get."

"So you'd like me to wake him. Chemical analysis or no chemical analysis."

"I didn't say that Bob. But if there is any way to bring him around without using any stims, I'd like you to try."

Mathias was reluctant, but he nodded and stepped into the isolation ward. He had the nurse that was on duty join him at the alien's bedside. He checked the monitors set in the wall above the bed. Then he made the attempt to wake the alien by gently shaking his shoulders.

The alien woke with a start. Eyes wide and terrified. He saw Dr. Mathias standing over him, and with one swing sent him flying to the other side of the ward. The nurse wasn't any luckier, as she was picked up off the floor and hurled onto a work station in the corner.

Carter grabbed his comlock. "Security to Medical, Security to Medical on the double!" Then he rushed in to help keep the alien down.

The alien was standing now, looking around the ward. He was obviously disoriented by his surroundings.

He saw Alan come into the room. Carter put his hands up infront of him to show he meant no harm. The alien though seemed affraid of him, shrinking away from the Commander and trying to fold himself into the wall of monitors. "We won't hurt you." Alan said "We're tryng to help you."

The alien was saying something in a language completely unrecognizable. Carter came closer to him and the alien yelled at the top of his lunges, picked up a cart and raised it above his head to bring it down on the Commander.

Suddenly there was a flash of yellow light, the alien was enveloped in it for a split second, then he crumpled to the floor. The security man came in the ward,his laser still pointing at the alien he had stunned, and asked the Commander, "Are you alright sir?"

"Yea. Yea I'm fine." He said looking down at the alien. "Help me with the doctor and the nurse."

They helped Mathias to his feet. There was a welt already developing on the side of his forehead. When they helped the nurse they discovered that she had gotten three broken ribs and a broken arm. All in all not a very good first attempt at talking to the alien.The nurse would have to be admitted for at least a week.

Mathias stated the obvious." I don't think you'll be getting anything out of him right now."

"Well," The Commander said. "If you can find a way to communicate with him, and he has any information, have Main Mission contact me on the Eagle."

"I'll do whatever I can Alan."

"I know you will doctor." He started out and stopped at the door. "And have security post two people here for the duration."

"Yes sir." Mathias answered.

Carter left and headed for pad one.

If it was one thing you could say about Jack Crawford, it would be efficient.

They were waiting in the Eagle for the Commander when he arrived. Jack continually amazed Alan with the same job Alan had had. Namely Head of Reconnisance.

When Carter was in charge, he could get any Eagle on the pad, ready to launch in about ten minutes, not counting the standby Eagles. But when Jack Crawford had taken the job he had cut two and a half minutes off that time. It was something Jack brought up every once and a while to the Commander.

Eagle three four was one of three specifically set up for long range missions. It differed from the standard Eagle in the slightly extended companion way that led to the command module, allowing the addition of extra strap-on oxygen tanks. Also, it has a dedicated service pod designed especially for it's intended purpose, with eight dutonium fuel tanks, four per side, mounted on either side of extended docking ports. With the extra tanks the ship is capable of almost four times the range of the standard Eagle. The original purpose of the design was to give a survey team more time to thoroughly check out a habital planet by getting them there from farther away and being able to stay longer after the moon had past. They had been invaluable on a number of occasions. The booster pack was to get more speed incase the unexpected happened.

Carter exchanged greetings with Richards and Pulman as he past by the passenger alcove just behind the cockpit. Then strapped himself into the copilot's seat.

Jack Crawford, checking the last few instruments, noted the Commander's arrival by reporting. "Pre-flight checks are complete Commander. She's ready to go when ever you say."

"Good." Carter answered. "Let's not waste any time."

In Main Mission, the Commander's voice came in over the speakers. "Main Mission. Jeff, we're ready to go here."

"We copy Commander." Jeff said. "Stand by for final count down."

Jeff checked the displays and readouts. "Docking arm is retracted. Starting count down. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one...... Go Eagle three four."

Jack answered. "Roger, we have ignition, and lift off"

With a puff of moon dust, the Eagle rose smoothly off the pad. Jeff brought it to the normal altitude, then turned toward the course that had been fed into their computer from Main Mission.

"Any idea how long this could take Commander?" Pulman asked from his seat behind the cockpit.

"No." Alan said "Could be anywhere from fourty eight hours to seven days. With the speed that life pod was going it may even be further than that. But even with the long range Eagle we can't stay out more than seven days with out risking the return trip back. So if we haven't found anything out here in that period of time we head straight back."

"What's wrong Robby, you getting home sick already? We haven't even left the moon's gravity well yet." Jack said jokingly.

"No,no .. I was, just wondering that's all." He said.

Robert Pulman was twenty, one of the first five children allowed to be born on Alpha. And although he was an outstanding technician, he was not very experianced with 'field work' as it were. Alan had asked for him on this mission for exactly that reason, so he could gain that experiance.

The Commander said, "Don't worry Robert, you'll do fine. And there will be things to keep you busy even if we don't find anything." Then he looked at Jack. "Let's kick in the afterburners Jack. The faster we get where ever we're going, the better."

"Yes Sir." He answered, and pushed the throttle forward.

They headed away from the moon on a search for the unknown.

Chapter Four

The ship traveled along a course unknown. His ship, he knew it was his ship, but........ where was he? He looked around the ship. In every cabin. In every store room. Even in his own state room. But he could not find himself. The control room, the engine room, nowhere was he to be found. He couldn't understand why he was so hard to find. This was all that trader's doing. That thing he had traded him for, what did he call it, an Ilurian memory box? He said it could enhance the computer's knowlegde of this region of space. Instead, when he activated it, the device had.. done something.. he couldn't quite remember now....

Wait... What was that. He was feeling something missing. One of the escape rockets had left. How could that be? He should have felt that right away... as it happened. Maybe he had been distracted by .... he didn't know. He looked out into space and saw the trail the rocket had left in it's wake. He thought that maybe he'd find himself out there.

He turned and started to follow the tiny trail that lay before him. Still trying very hard to remmember what he had done with himself.

The restaints that Mathias used were holding. Good thing too. The alien was alittle less violent this time but he was still very strong, and the last thing they needed was anymore people injured just trying to talk to him. He acted as if he did not believe in his suroundings. As if he were having a nightmare. Mathias couldn't even begin to think of a way to help him. The only thing he could do was to keep the alien sedated, now that the lab results showed that the drugs that were used on humans produced no adverse effect, to keep him from injuring himself as well as anyone else.

The Doctor was studying some of the alien's personal items. He came to what looked like just a small box with some simple controls on the surface. Mathias studied it, but he was not about to touch any of the controls. They had seen too much in their travels to do something so rudimentarally idiotic.

He did not see the alien stir awake. But he heard him soon enough. " Sol lamn ty ya " He said behind the doctor.

Mathias spun around half expecting the alien to be looming over him eady to strike him to the floor. He was relieved to see that the patient was still securly strapped to the bed. And he seemed to be much more lucid this time. Mathias got up to go check the monitors of his patient. Being cautious, however, he did call in one of the security men stationed out side the doors to Medical

" So, we've decided to talk this time instead of fight, eh ? " Mathias said with as much of a good natured tone as he could get.

" Sol lamn ty ya. " The alien repeated. Mathias didn't know if it was a question or a statement. He could be telling them his name for all he knew. Absent mindedly, the doctor set the box of the alien's down on the bed as he went to adjust one of the monitoring devices. The alien immediately grabbed it with his closest hand. The security guard saw this and yelled for the doctor to get down as he drew his weapon.

Mathias was shocked by the turn of events for a moment, but started to drop out of the line of the guard's fire. The alien fumbled with the box in his one hand...... The security guard leveled his weapon at the alien......


Mathias didn't know where that voice had come from at first, but the guard had not fired which had seemed immanent.

Looking at the alien patient told the doctor why. The guard had stopped his finger just short of the trigger of his weapon, becuase the alien had spoke. IN English .... They could understand him now. The device that he had gotten hold of was obviously a translator of some kind.

Mathias tentatively said, " You can understand us?... "

" Yes " The alien said showing a little strain, as if he had to concentrate on getting the words out.

"Can you tell me your name." asked Mathias

The alien acted as if he had to try to remember what that was. After a moment he said, "My name... is.... Kel ... Lor... Lornaan." He let out a breath of air as if he'd been holding it.

"Where did you come from"

He didn't seem to hear the question. " Where am I? Wh.... what is.."

"Your on Moonbase Alpha. Your escape capsule crashed here and we brought you to our medical facility." The creature seemed to mull that over. He had what seemed like a slight seizure, which ended as soon as it started. The doctor asked again.." Where did you come from, Kel ? "

"From farther than you would think.... s..sir " He still seemed to be having trouble getting the words to come.

"Well, did you come from a ship? " Mathias was trying to get any information that he could from this Kel.

"Yes there.... was .... a ship........," then more to himself he said, " or was it just me? "

Mathias thought he could give him some encouragement. He said " Well, if there was a ship our people will find it. We have people looking for it right now." He thought this would definatly bring the alien's spirits up. But, instead, the alien looked at him with utter shock.

"You Have people out looking for him!!!!! YOU MUST CALL THEM BACK IMMEDIATELY! I CAN'T BE ALLOWED TO FIND ME !!!" The alien was shouting and acting so desperate, Mathias thought he was talking irrationally. He went to get a sedative, but the alien stopped him by grabbing his arm.

"Please, I am not irrational. You must call your people back. If I am in control of myself right now, I....... he will not be. If I run across your people while I am not in control, he may kill them." The alien talked as if he made perfect sense, but it sounded like ravings to Mathias. This poor man must be out of his mind. He thought to himself. Talking about himself as if in the third person, that was truly behavior of a deranged person.

"What are you talking about? Is there some one on your ship who wants to harm you?" Mathias asked, still trying to get a coherent answer out of the alien.

"Ye.... Yes. I will... try.. to explain... it will be difficult...."

Mathias listened to Kel, as the alien told him about his fears and the events of the recent past. It took over ten minutes, because Kel still seemed to be fighting at times to get every word out. But when he was finished the doctor raced to the com panel. " Main Mission!, Medical to Main Mission come in Jeff!!"

Jeff's voice came back almost immediately along with his image on the small screen. "What is it Doctor?"

"You have to get ahold of the Commander. You have to get him back to Alpha right away!"

"Why doctor? What's going on." Jeff was perplexed

"Too many details to tell you right now Jeff. But the alien has told me why he jetisoned from his ship. The ship is very powerful, has weapons and a sophisticated computer control system." He paused as if he had to make himself believe what he was going to say next.

"Did someone on that ship try to kill your patient doctor?!" Jeff asked guessing at the reason. " No Jeff," said Mathias, " The ship, the ship it's self tried to kill him. The computer aboard that ship....... Is insane!!"..

To be continued...

Copyright (c) 2000. 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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