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Space 2 Alfa’s control room became silent as the Commodore’s orders fell on the crew’s ears. Eyes quickly glanced between one another as the idea of towing 1 Alfa home became reality.

“Roger that, Astro Base. We’ll bring Number 1 home… Over,” the Captain said while standing from his chair. “You heard the Commodore, prepare for emergency evacuation of 1 Alfa- into your spacesuits, people! Engineering-“

“Yes, Sir,” a voice shouted from across the room.

“Take down our shields and shut down all nonessential power. We need to conserve all the juice we can if we’re going to make it home. Bronson, I need you to guide her in manually- no auto pilot for this one.”

“What’s auto pilot?” Bronson said as smugly as he could muster. The Captain’s eyes pierced Bronson’s subconscious taking him back to early childhood when being scolded by his father. “I mean, yes Sir,” Bronson corrected himself.

“Richardson, ready the Green Arms and make sure all personnel have their handhelds. No Alfa ship has ever lost complete power and communication, I’m sensing there’s something more at work.”

“You got it, Sarge!” Richardson said a little over enthusiastically. Richardson was the last of the old school. He had been on the front lines of Galaxy War 7 and was in the squadron that released the first Light Particle Blast or LPB. The new LPB technology was a peacemaker and brought the Finale Fighters home, ending the galactic war.

“On guard and be vigilant, 2 Alfa. Let’s bring our boys home,” and the Captain’s orders came to a close. The hum of the giant computers and machinery were deafened across the ship as engineering began to cut power. A red glow protruded from the darkness as emergency lighting replaced the once well-lit corridors and hallways. A silence and darkness consumed the ship as everyone kept quiet as they made their way closer to Space 1 Alfa.

Meanwhile, back at Astro Base’s anti gravity docks, Jimmy, Brian and Schuyler were finishing up for the day.

“Hey guys, I’m sorry I was such a prick earlier…” Schuyler said while wiping off his tools. “I just hate working on these obsolete pieces of shit. We should be out there, heading up an Alfa ship of our own.”

Jimmy began to chuckle, “I can see the Commodore as he wishes us luck on our first mission. ‘Okay Schuyler, no huffing liquid uranium. Brian, easy with her- it only cost 7.9 Hums to build…” His laugh turned uncontrollable as he could barely finish his sentence.

“Yeah, he’d be like, ‘and Jimmy, if I catch wind of you firing one Green Arm without my permission- straight to Xon 5!’” Brian also snickered.

“Okay, I take it back. I’m not sorry and I hate you fucks,” Schuyler said but couldn’t keep a straight face. “Brian, are you coming to band practice tonight or are you pussing out?”

“I will be pussing out. Meeting up with one of the editors from GO! at Chili’s.” Chili’s was the last remaining Earth restaurant chain. They invested and partnered early with corporate space exploration offering classic Earth meals to space explorers. Their early diversification landed them prime spots on outposts throughout the galaxy and later throughout the universe. Early capitalization and a strong multi-species marketing campaign complete with infectious jingles allowed them to survive the Wastie depression.

“Oh yeah, Chili’s? Is it a date? It sure sounds like a date…” Schuyler teased.

“The editor is a dude, and he’s been trying to do a story on why I hangout with you assholes in the docks and never became a pilot,” Brian defended himself.

“Just because he’s a dude doesn’t mean it isn’t a date, we know how your gravitational pull works. So… What are you going to tell him?” Schuyler quizzed Brian. Schuyler always felt insecure about Brian’s piloting abilities and potential. He knew he was better than the docks and often thought it was only a matter of time before Brian moved on, abandoning himself and Jimmy in the process.

Jimmy sensed the direction the conversation was heading and began to sway his hips in the most seductive way he knew how, “he’s going to tell that GO! editor to back off because there’s only room for two men in his life.” Jimmy continued to dance and added some nipple rubbing, “us!”

“Yeah, basically…” Brian said sarcastically. “Minus the gay... Oh, and I’ll probably mention something about the band.”

Schuyler paused and looked at Brian for a moment, each of them could see the words racing through his mind. Finally, his seriousness gave way to a smirk, “well good, do all the MENtioning you want but you better talk up our show at Zytans!”

Jimmy’s diversion worked and Schuyler put away the last of his tools without pressing the subject. “I’m glad we’re not practicing tonight anyway,” he said. “I’m going to see if I can find anything more about 1 Alfa’s disappearance...”

“Strong work, Sky.” Brian said out of the corner of his mouth that received a giggle by Jimmy. “I’m sure the intel you gather will be much better than ABIOS…” ABIOS is short for Astro Base’s Intelligence and Observatory Station.

“I’ll have you know that I have quite a few connections on ‘the inside’ and have partied with a few Yibbians in my day.” Space 1 Alfa was on a peace-keeping mission to the pirate colony of Yibbia before its disappearance. Yibbian pirates, while mostly harmless, were still a black eye on Astro Base’s nearly perfect free trade sanctions.

“Report back to us with your findings, solider!” Jimmy said as if he was ordering a Finale Fighter.

“Jimmy, if I was the Commodore, I wouldn’t let you fire a Green Arm either… Peace out, fagles. I’ll see you tomorrow,” and just like that Schuyler put on his hat and made his way to the exit, flipping Brian and Jimmy off as he passed through the big metal doors.

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“Attention Astro Base, this is 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…”

“No way…”  Jimmy blurted out.  “Trevor Lightspeed was on that ship.”

“Psh, most over rated and under achieved pilot in the Alfa fleet.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he got them into that mess,” Schuyler scowled.  “Brian, you’ve had better test scores than him your entire life.”

“Testing and doing are two different things, Sky.  I hope they’re okay…“

“Why is the Commodore sending 2 Alfa after them?  Alfa ships are the pride of the base, what if we lose that one too?  We’ll have no defense…”  Jimmy’s voice quivered as he realized the implications.

“James, why the Commodore does a lot things I will never know…” Schuyler replied sarcastically.

“See, right there.  It’s those kind of comments that land you here in the docks.  Not because you’re not smart or talented,” Brian said sharply.  “An Alfa has gone missing, do you even know what that means?”

“It means we should have been commanding that ship and this never would have happened… “

“Hey- easy there Grub scraper!”  A voice shouted from the other end of the hanger.  The footsteps became louder as the figure made its way closer.

“Ah shit, here he comes… Back to work, back to work.”  Jimmy panicked.

“Now what in the hell is going on here?  You three jerkoffs are worse than those fat bitches on The Sight.”  The Sight is a morning talk show hosted by Astro Base celebrity has-beens or never-were.  No one really understands why the show is on, although rumors circulate about a wild love affair between the Commodore and Barbs Ol’Dirt in their youth.

“Schuyler, give me a reason.  Please, God up in Heaven, give me one reason to ship your ass out of here.  You’ll be on Xon 5 pumpin’ shitters when I get done with you.  Come up in here talking about the Commodore that way…”

Schuyler rolled his eyes.  “Lenny, you give me this speech at least twice a week.  Here, let me tell you how it’s going to end.  You’ll muffle a few more what you like to call ‘words’ in that broken Wastie accent.  Jimmy will smirk and try not to laugh as I’m getting yelled at.  You’ll then turn to him and say ‘hey there stickman, you think this is funny?  I’ll send you right along with him!  Think I need to deal with your shit, well I don’t!’  At which point Jimmy stops laughing and gets back to work and I flip you off as you walk away.”

“God damnit, Schuyler-“

“Yeah yeah yeah, you’re going to jam your space boot so far up my ass.  I get it.”

“Well, now that we have that clear.”  Lenny coughed and cleared his throat, his facial expression became wide eyed and devious.  He slowly leaned toward Schuyler and said real low, “So, you guys want get a little game of Bongwee Gem going after work?  A few of my buddies are-“

“No, Lenny.”  Schuyler interrupted.  “The answer is and will always be, no.”

“Okay, okay- you let me know if you change your mind though.”

“Will do, Champ.”  Lenny never caught Schuyler’s sarcasm when he called him champ.  Lenny was in fact a real champion, a prize fighter in his early days and had quite the winning record against the Fridions.  No one really remembered or cared anymore though.  The Fridion planet was destroyed in civil war and Lenny now worked in the docks.

Meanwhile, back in the Command Tower, 2 Alfa was closing in on 1 Alfa’s last radio transmission.  The Command Room reeked of tension as they awaited word.

“Astro Base, come in” the radio faded in and out, static interrupting 2 Alfa’s transmission, “1 Alfa. Over.”

“2 Alfa, we did not copy.  I repeat, we did not copy.  Please repeat.  Over.”  The Commodore made his way into the room just in time to hear the static.  Technicians cringed as they tried to strengthen the signal.

“We have a radar ping on 1 Alfa. Over.”  The room let out a long sigh as hope was renewed.

“Excellent news, 2 Alfa.  Can you tell us their trajectory?  Have you been able to radio them?”  The Communication Officer said very excitedly.

“You forgot to say ‘over’.”  The Commodore corrected the Communication Officer and followed with a glare.

“Over…” The officer squeaked.

“Negative, Astro Base.  They seem to have no trajectory- just remaining stagnant.  Still no radio communication.  Over.”

“Tell 2 Alfa to head in for a closer look and to prepare for assistance.  That ship will be coming home with them.”  The Commodore ordered.

“2 Alfa, pursue radar ping on 1 Alfa.  Prepare your crew and ship for emergency evacuation of 1 Alfa.  Lower shields to conserve power, you’re bringing 1 Alfa home with you.  Over.”

“Astro Base, please reconfirm order to bring home 1 Alfa?  We are not a tug ship and are not equipped to handle such a task.  Over.”  The confidence in the Captain’s tone changed as the new mission placed his entire crew in danger.

“Straight from the Commodore, Captain.  I repeat, bring 1 Alfa home.  Over.”

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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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Peas and carrots, you ask? Yes. You see, peas and carrots can't be more opposite from one another- yet they compliment each other perfectly. Think about it, you wouldn't want to eat mashed potatoes and a baked potato in the same sitting, even if you love spuds. They're essentially the same thing. Yep, peas and carrots.

I'm not looking for my mirror image, I'm not looking at a compatibility rating. I don't care if our Top Ten lists match, and I am no longer looking for some dream girl I've been fanaticizing about my whole life. I'm looking for my counterpoint. I'm looking for my perfect compliment.

The point of this trilogy is not that I want to get back together with my first love, it's that I am now ready to experience love once again. I've come full circle. The first go around was pure dumb luck. I truly was Forest Gump. I didn't know any better about love and relationships and I leaped. I saw something in her and I took a chance. We had no long friendship where I knew it was safe, I didn't make a pros and cons list to help me decide, and I didn't sabotage it because it seemed unlikely. Many years later I've finally figured out that there is no recipe for love- just ingredients and the chance that they might go well together.

The first person who saw a long orange stick and a tiny green ball didn't know what they were getting themselves into, and neither do I. All I can do is hope that my combination is as timeless…

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The absence of love hasn't left me debilitated. Well, it did for a while but overall it has been a positive experience. It has motivated me. It made me want to become a better person, more mature, and secure. It made me want to become successful, stable, and accomplished. It made me want to have all of my issues sorted out so when I find love again, I'll be ready for it. Ready for her.

The problem is that I'm not ready, or didn't think so. Sure, I believe I am a much better person now than I was when I first discovered love. There's no doubt that I'm much more mature. I am also self-confident now, completely secure with who I am as individual. However, I'm severely lacking the success, stability and accomplished requisites. To my own credit and demise, I've removed myself so far from relationships that I have no room in my life for one. I've focused so much on becoming successful and accomplished that I've forgotten how significant a significant other can be.

There was a point when that lifestlye was proper and founded, it can be a great way to live a period of your life. In order to be successful in a relationship, you have to be comfortable and confident with yourself. As soon as you can truly enjoy life on your own merits, then are you able to fully enjoy it with someone else.

I took it to an extreme though and it wasn't until a recent epiphany that I realized as important as it is to find your independent self, at some point it's just as important to rely on others. As simple as that is, it never crossed my mind. I honestly never considered anyone helping me before and certainly not someone I was in love with. I always thought that I would become successful and accomplished all on my own. I would build greatness by myself and then one day share it with the woman I felt worthy. That seems so crazy to me now but before I truly believed there was no other way.

Never once, when I thought about my life and future, did I think about falling in love right now. In my dreams I always "got the girl" later in life. I did even think it was possible to find love in my current state- all potential with no credentials. But what if I did? How amazing would it be to grow and achieve dreams together? Each of us working side by side, just has hard as the other to accomplish both of our goals in life. Two forces who have nothing separately but when combined can achieve greatness together.

I can't imagine anything more satisfying than helping the one person in the world I love the most achieve their biggest dreams. It must be astounding. It just seems so logical now. Of course I can't do everything on my own. In all honesty, I wouldn't want to.

I always thought that I needed to achieve greatness before I could ever be happy with someone. The only way I see it now is that I could never be happy unless I'm achieving great with someone.

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