“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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