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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