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“Astro Base, this is 2 Alfa. Closing in on radar ping of 1 Alfa. Expecting contact in 4 minutes. Over.” The Captain’s eyes raced over the control screen as he relayed the update.

“Roger that, 2 Alfa. Please send us your exact coordinates. Over.” Work shifts had changed at Astro Base. The Communications Officer’s voice was no longer self defeating and insecure. The voice on the other end was optimistic, young, and female.

“Why hello there, Astro Base…” The Captain’s tone changed instantly, leading to smiles throughout the Control Room. “This is Captain Blair Thomas of Space 2 Alfa, who do I have the pleasure of speaking with? Over.”

Captain Blair Thomas had no reason to be intimidated by the female voice at the other end. Blair excelled at everything he did. It started young, always going faster on his hover bucket than other children. Top scores in logic and reason without ever studying. Blair’s fortune and abilities carried on into the Academy where he was the teams starting Zip Caller. Blair effortlessly lead the team to six Lunar Vista titles which set an Astro Base record until Trevor Lightspeed attended the Academy. Blair graduated at the top of his class and was accepted into a highly classified branch of the Finale Fighters where he severed 5 Falcons until he was promoted to Bronco pilot. After successfully navigating the outer reaches of Kateria 9 and squashing the Grub Runners, Astro Base bestowed it’s highest honor to him, Captain of an Alfa spacecraft. If that weren’t enough, Blair has also had relations with his fair share of women. From being seen with actresses, models, and princesses to fuel station attendants, pub crawlers, and squeak shiners- Blair has remained one of Astro Base’s most eligible bachelors.

“Captain Thomas, this is your Communication Officer,” the voice said sharply, having none of Blair’s advances. “I repeat, send your coordinates immediately. Over.”

“Not even a name?” the Captain continued. “If you’re going to bark orders, I at least deserve to know who they’re coming from… Don’t you think? Over.” Everyone in the command room began to chuckle.

“Sarge, you’ve always had a way with the ladies,” Richardson blurted. Blair gave a wink to his crew and continued his conversation with Astro Base.

“Space 2 Alfa, we need those coordinates. Maybe the Commodore needs to request them himself? Over.” The Communication Officer’s tone was very matter of fact as she truly had no reservations about having the Commodore put Blair in his place.

“Easy there, tiger. There’s no sense in getting the Comm-“ Suddenly there was a penetrating crash and the radio turned to static.

“Space 2 Alfa, please retransmit. We’re receiving a lot of static. Over.” Everyone in the Astro Base Command Room became silent, attentively listening for a response.

“Astro Base, ASTRO BASE! We’ve been hit!” The radio returned to static once more.

The Communication Officer spun in her chair and pressed the alert button, red lights flashed throughout the Command Room. “2 Alfa, 2 Alfa, come in 2 Alfa!” She screamed into the radio.

“We’re under attack!” The Captain’s words could barely be made out with what sounded like crushing and grinding metal in the background. The radio continued to fade in and out, Astro Base could only collect pieces of Blair’s transmission. “Huge… My God! Make it… Fire, fire, FIRE!” The radio finally went silent.

Tears ran down several cheeks in the Astro Base Command Room, the Communication Officer hid her mouth behind her hand and looked away from the speakers. Scrambling to gain her composure and find words, she finally said into the microphone “2 Alfa, come in. 2 Alfa… Anyone? Please, please…” As more silence penetrated the Command Room, the Communication Officer began to weep, “Captain Blair Thomas, my name is Natalie… My name is Natalie... Please come in… My name is Natalie…”

A few moments later the Command Room was swarming with Astro Base officials. Technicians scrabbled to acquire any 2 Alfa data while commanders desperately tried to process the information. Flashing lights, alert sirens and shouting voices turned the Command Room into hell. Chaos ran rampant as the once reserved and poised personnel team allowed fear to consume them.

“2 Alfa, this Astro Base. Come in, 2 Alfa.” Natalie continued to try to make contact, her words becoming weaker with each transmission.

In an instant, the sirens became silent and the flashing lights turned off. One by one, command personnel became quiet and still until the entire room was motionless. The ventilation system kicked on and cool air began to fill the Command Room. Eyes bounced from one another but bodies remained still.

On the far end of the room, heavy metal doors slid open and a silhouette of the Commodore emerged. His big, heavy boots boomed as he made his way to the center of the room.

“Listen, and listen closely,” the Commodore spoke. “Remain calm and carry on with your duties. Stay focused as I need you to gather as much diligent intelligence from this incident as you can. ABIOS has been following 2 Alfa and with your combined effort, we will get to the bottom of this.” His words were strong as he made eye contact with particularly shaken individuals. “May I also remind you that each of you have taken an oath to work in this Command Room. DO NOT allow this incident to leave this room…” The Commodore paused to let his words sink in and his eyes further penetrate the staff. “Communication Officer, Natalie. Come with me.”

The Commodore turned and began to walk towards the exit. Several steps from the sliding doors he stopped and said once more “Come, Natalie.” The doors opened and Natalie scrambled to her feet and quickly navigated her way across the room. The doors slammed as the two left the Command Room.

 

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