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The End

Authors: Ralph Burns
Characters: Alan Carter
Show Year: Y2
Rating: PG
Date: 1999
Moonbase Alpha is on the verge of destruction. Alan's only hope is if he can get Koenig to Eagle One before the air runs out. But the commander, demented since the death of his wife, has other plans...
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For ten years they had travelled throughout the Universe on a course not of their choosing. They had faced unbearable hardships, terrors beyond compare and trials they could never have dreamed that they would have faced. There had also been hope and there had also been love. Over three hundred humans and an alien cooped up in a metal home on a moon out of control, until over the years there were only two left there. That was their story and this is how it ends.

"It's amazing it's still as intact as this, eh Helena?"

"Yes, John."

"After the last bombardment you would think the whole place would have been smashed halfway to oblivion wouldn't you? Of course you would, you were always the practical one, weren't you? Even while everything else was destroyed you never ran with the others. That's my lovely wife, Helena. You'll never leave me, will you Helena? Helena?"

Alan Carter put his hand on his Commander's shoulder. "John, it's Alan."

Commander John Koenig of the soon-to-be-late Moonbase Alpha turned round to face his pilot and last surviving friend in the ruins of what was once the nerve centre of his base. Main Mission was still relatively whole, if nothing else was, that is.

"Helena, you're looking lovely."

A look of unbearable sadness passed over Alan Carter's ruined features. He coughed, once. "John, she's gone, you know that."

Koenig gestured softly round him at the wrecked computer banks, the soiled chairs. People had once lived and worked there. He looked lost, like a child missing his mother. "Yes, maybe she's hiding", he said softly and then he sat down slowly in a little huddle and put his arms over his head.

His friend kept looking at him for a moment longer before walking over to one of the few surviving readouts to check a reading. There was barely ten minutes of breathable air left. They would have to use the suits if they were to get to Eagle 1 for the rendezvous he had planned.

His Commander did not move. Previously, he had been the strongest man Alan had ever known. Even when the ...problem...had started he hadn't panicked. He had stayed cool when all around him began to lose their control. Even after he'd proposed his insane plan, he'd stuck by it though never carried it through. That kind of resolve had to be admired. And then his wife was gone and he was a ruined broken man, talking to his friend as if he was someone else.

"John, it's time to go. It's time to leave."

Koenig tilted his head slightly. "Go?"

"Yes, to a nicer place. Somewhere warm. We haven't been there for a while."

The broken man stood up and looked through Carter as though he wasn't there. "Somewhere warm, in the sunshine, Helena? Yes, I'd like that a lot. I've always liked picnics you know."

Alan pointed at the spacesuits hanging over by the door. "Put the suit on please. We haven't much time...please."

Koenig walked over slowly and started to suit up. "Yes, of course. Whatever you say, Helena. Will the kids be there? I haven't seen them for a while. Are they hiding?"

A word formed on Alan's lips, but remained unsaid. After a few moments, the two men had their suits on. It was a vacuum in the rest of the base, though at least the flowers and other fauna had been preserved. The door to Main Mission slid up at Alan's control and they began to make their way to the Eagle launching pad.

After a few moments, John found a flower. It was pink and red and would have looked lovely when it had been alive. The withered look gave it a deformed look, shadow of its former self. John paused. He stared intently at it. Once, twice.

Alan had moved on ahead and turned round. "John, we haven't time. We have to move."

Confusion was written on the face of the older man. "Why? Don't we have time to look at the flower? It's very pretty."

"No. I'm sorry."

John appeared agitated. "But you always like flowers, Helena"

"We haven't time."

"Helena, do you remember when Tony and Maya got married and you grew that lovely-"

Alan glanced quickly at a control panel on his suit. In around seven minutes all the air would be gone. He hadn't been able to find much air for the suits. They could ill afford to hang around for much longer. There was no use in an Eagle sitting on the launch pad if they died from lack of oxygen before they got there.

"Helena, do you remember?"

"Listen to me! I am not Helena! She's dead! Don't you get it! And we'll both be dead if we don't move!" Alan's outburst over the suit's mikes was as instantaneous as his regret over saying it. "Oh, John. I'm so-"

He never completed his statement as the gloved hand of Commander John Koening smashed him soundlessly to the floor. He was probably only unconcious for a few seconds but by then his friend, his attacker, was gone. As was the flower.

He had a focus now. There had been a fog over his mind which had been there for a very long time. He had used to be a determined man but that was hard sometimes now. He couldn't concentrate in quite the way he used to be able to. Helena was gone, he remembered that now. Yes, that was sad. But he was Commander John Koenig of Moonbase Alpha, responsible for over three hundred lives and he was going to save them all. He was going to save his wife No one could stop him from using it this time.

In his gloved hand, a single flower was clutched tightly.

In five minutes there would be no air left anywhere. There were six more minutes of air in the suits. And that would be that.

Alan knew what John would do. He had to be stopped.

The pilot might even have to kill his Commander.

A few moments passed.

The room was dark and dim and dead. A figure was hunched over a control panel set into the farthest wall. It shouldn't have still been functional, but then someone had diverted power from life control to make it work. That this would mean the air would run out quicker appeared to be inconsequential to the Commander who had ordered it and who was now standing over it, punching buttons intently.

He saw the reflection of a man in a spacesuit in the corner of his visor. He spun around, weapon drawn. He must have had it stashed away nearby. Contingencies. He was good at those.

Alan didn't have a weapon but the expression on his face suggested that if he had one he would have fired it already.

"John, you know I can't let you do this."

Koenig continued to jab away at the panel as he spoke. The screen above it flashed 'System Ready'.

"Alan, I've been...sick. I know that, but I'm better now. No, no closer. I will shoot you if you try to stop me, you know that, don't you? I had to shoot Paul, but I warned him. I did!" His tones became slightly hysterical. Or perhaps it was the oxygen running out. "It's for the good of Alpha! It's for the good of all of us!"

Alan stepped closer. And closer again. He laid his arms out in an imploring gesture. "You'll kill us. You'll destroy the base." He paused and his tone became more urgent. "You know it can't possibly work. Time travel...the complications. Remember Maya's calculations? The shockwave will destroy this base and the surrounding space for one light year in all directions."

Alan began to step closer to John, who began to back up against a wall.

"And the shockwave might pass back through time and destroy Alpha then, too. Killed twice. The past is the past. It's done, it's gone. Live for now, John."

John's arm began to twitch. The screen flashed 'Awaiting Final Code.'

"There's nothing to live for now!"

Alan was now directly in front of his Commander. His tones were soft, and gentle. "Yesterday, I received a signal from a nearby planet. We can just about make it in the Eagle. John, there are survivors, We can join them."

Sweat poured down John's forehead. "No! You're lying!"

"We have a chance. We can start a new life."

"No! No! You're lying! Lying!"

Alan looked John directly in the eye. "Live for now."

"NO! NO!".

Complete shock passed over Alan's face as he fell to the ground, a gaping wound in his chest were the shot had been fired. He softly sighed "John", then he lay still and died.

John stared for a brief moment. He may have looked sad, but there was a glare across his faceplate, making his features impenetrable. He pressed a few more buttons hurriedly. The screen said 'Timewarp Activated. Sending in sixty seconds. This command can not be over-ridden. Fifty-nine, fifty-eight..."

John sat down on the floor beside the console. He was sorry about Alan but he should have known the plan would work. After all, he had found the time-travel device. It could send people back, but John wasn't sending himself. He was sending a message.

They had all said that it was futile ; Alan had re-iterated as much just a few moments ago , but they were wrong. There would be no catastrophe. The message would be sent back five years and received. Alpha would have a chance of avoiding the impending doom. Perhaps they could be saved. Perhaps his wife could be saved and all of this reality would be gone. John would never have killed Alan, so that was all right then. He had a responsibility.

At ten seconds before message launch, John allowed himself a momentary doubt. What if they had all been right? What if it wouldn't work and this was the last stand of the Alphans? Right here, right now. Behind him the screen flashed the start of the message as it was readied to be sent back through time, or maybe to oblivion.

'This is John. Please do not delete this message. It comes from a time yet to come. A time when fate has carried up with us. But the future can be saved. I call on you all now to work together on what I am about to tell you. It will be hard. It will be difficult. Many struggles are ahead. But we shall prevail, as we have always prevailed. With dignity, and with courage. Let us work for a better future, my friends. This is the plan. (message continues)'

At five seconds until launch, John Koenig, the last surviving Alphan, removed his faceplate and let the air out. He wanted to smell a flower, one last time. His last thoughts were of his wife.

And behind him, the screen counted down to activation.

'five seconds...

four seconds...

three seconds...'

Copyright (c) 1999. 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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