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“Space 1 Alfa, this is Astro Base.  What’s your status?  Over.”  The vibrations released from the speakers rattled through the tin can.  Sound waves bounced from wall to wall as Astro Base’s Communication Officer continued his plea for a response.  “Space 1 Alfa, this is Astro Base.  Do you read?  Over.”  The Communication Officer’s words echoed deep into the silent ship.  No one had heard from Space 1 Alfa for several hours.

Astro Base’s Commodore slowly gave a nod to the Communication Officer, then turned and walked away.  His heavy boots clanking against the metal walkway with each step. “Attention all Space units, this is Astro Base.  We have lost contact with 1 Alfa, commence search and rescue.  Over.”  Astro Base sent out the command to all neighboring spacecraft.

“Roger that, Astro Base.  This is 2 Alfa.  Changing course and heading to 1 Alfa’s last radio transmission.  Over.”  The ship’s captain spoke with confidence and ease.

“2 Alfa?  Home so soon?  Aren’t you supposed to be in diplomacy meetings in the Sax Quadrant?”  The Communication Officer was taken back by 2 Alfa’s radio response.  The ship wasn’t expected to be in radio range for another 38 Falcon hours.

“Let’s just say the Sax Quadrant is seeing things our way… Or what’s left of ‘em.”  A loud boisterous laugh followed.  “I’m totally kidding, Astro Base.  The meetings went well and we’re home early.”

“2 Alfa, joking about Galactic War 8 is not something this Officer wants to be apart of.  Start your search for 1 Alfa and report your findings.”  The Communication Officer’s tone was highly un-amused, his fear for the worst over 1 Alfa’s disappearance spoke for everyone on Astro Base.

Meanwhile, on the far side of Astro Base, opposite of the Communication and Command towers sat the zero gravity ship dock.  Astro Base’s underfunded and everything but obsolete mechanical wing.  This is where the unorthodox are stationed to work, as they don’t interfere with daily business.

“Hey James, hand me that Serpentine Wrench.”  Schuyler said very condescending.

“Why…?”

“So I can beat myself to death, that’s why.  What the hell do you think is going on here, Jimmy?  We’re stuck in this stupid space dock, no one talks to us or gives us the time of day, and I have to sit here and look at your ugly mug.”  Schuyler began to kick over empty anti-matter fuel drums, it was more to exaggerate their situation rather than a pure rage blackout.  “I’m sick of it, man.  Sick of it…”

“I’m not that ugly, am I?  I mean, no here has been on the cover of Astro Base GO! but I don’t think I’m that bad…”  Astro Base GO! is the leading entertainment and fashion publication put out each month by the base’s High Society Wing.

“Uhmm, that’s, ah, actually not true, Jimmy.  I’ve been on the cover once and have been featured in the mag several times…”  Brian shouted from undercarriage of a nearby personal spacecraft.

“You know what- fuck you, Brian.  Here I am trying to have a conversation on how we need to better our lives and all you can do is make Jimmy feel bad about himself.  God may not have blessed us with good looks or any functional talent, but at least we’re not assholes.”  Schuyler’s frustration elevated but quickly turned to despair.  He placed the Serpentine Wrench gently on the workshop table, took a seat, and quietly hung his head.

“Don’t worry about it, Brian.  He didn’t mean it.”  Jimmy whispered.  “You know how he gets, every time one of the Alfa Ships goes on a mission he thinks we should be the crew.  Everyone knows you’re the best pilot Astro Base has ever seen.  And Schuyler, he can turn a garbage can and couple of transistors into fastest race buggy in Sandex 7.”

Brian’s face turned to empathy as he looked over at Schuyler.  Brian nodded at Jimmy in a ‘yeah, you’re right’ fashion and then slid back under the spacecraft to resume his work.  Jimmy knew to leave Schuyler well enough alone and he too went back to work.

The three remained silent for several minutes until the alert siren blared over the load speaker.

“Attention Astro Base, this the Commodore.  Space 1 Alfa has gone missing.  Space 2 Alfa is on a search and rescue mission after returning home early from diplomacy talks in the Sax Quadrant.  May your prayers be with them all…”

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