SPACE 1999 BRIDGE EPISODE 1
(Season 1 characters, follows immediately after "Breakaway")
Commander John Koenig turned away from the big screen with the rotating ring and Meta signal with a nod to his oldest friend on Moonbase Alpha. The two men climbed the steps to the Commander's office and Koenig shut the sliding double doors as he sat behind his desk.
"Like you said, John, we have power and environment and the possibility of survival."
"But you don't agree with my decision?"
The scientist smiled reassuringly. "I do, John. But it would have taken a few minutes to calculate the trajectory we had taken, as well as our velocity, so plotting a course back to Earth was not impossible… and unfortunately we have a presence here on Alpha who is likely to question every decision…"
"Yes, Simmonds. So just be prepared."
"I need a comprehensive report immediately as to our exact situation here. Damage, survival requirements, psychological implications…"
"I'll get on it right away, John," Bergman answered with a reassuring hand on his Commander's shoulder. "You made the right decision."
"Thank you, Victor."
As the scientist headed for the back door of Koenig's office, it slid open and Commissioner Simmonds stormed in, a scowl on his face. Bergman stopped, but Koenig waved him on.
"Deciding on behalf of all the people here that failure would be the only outcome without giving any of us a chance to try reaching Earth was the worst decision I have ever seen," Simmonds barked.
Koenig stared him down in silence. Simmonds gestured vaguely to the door where Bergman had left. "You have all these supposedly brilliant astrophysicists here. They could have done in a few minutes what your computer could not do… before you made your hasty decision," the Commissioner ranted on.
"Simmonds, I have work to do. I don't have time to spar with you." Koenig was doing his best to remain civil.
"Earth command does still outrank you, you know. I could still reverse your decision instead of sentencing all these people to a life of doom on Alpha."
John Koenig felt the anger well up inside of him. "Do whatever you want to do Simmonds. See how far you get. I don't need to listen to this."
"You are on very thin ice, Koenig," Simmonds said with a malicious smile as he headed for the door.
Victor placed his hand reassuringly on Helena's shoulder in Medical. "How are you holding up?"
"Nine fatalities so far. Several personnel still unaccounted for. A few fractures and other injuries from the aftereffects of the explosions."
Victor nodded. "But you, Helena?"
"Too much work to even think about that now, Victor. Right now most of us are in a sort of dazed state of shock. Once the reality of what has happened hits people, the real psychological problems will start."
"Well, that's why I'm here. The Commander would like some kind of report to pre-empt possible problems. If you have time, you'll be the best to deal with the possible psychological fallout…"
"You have some history with him, right? Is he always so business-like?"
"John is a good man. He takes his responsibility very seriously. And he's just come on board as Commander at the worst time in the history of Moonbase Alpha… He needs all the help we can give him."
"I understand, Victor. I'll get with Bob Mathias and get to it right away."
"We have to deal with a politician from Earth who will second-guess everything we do as well. Let me know if he gives you a hard time, Helena," Victor said with a final squeeze of her shoulder. "In my opinion his presence here is worse than the breakaway," he added with a sardonic grin before heading down the deserted corridor to his quarters. There was still debris scattered here and there, but it was obviously not priority.
He was at his desk with a multitude of computer printouts spread around him, consolidating damage reports when his commlock bleeped. Simmonds' face appeared.
With a sigh he opened his door.
"I want the calculations of our trajectory, velocity and current G-forces so we can plan a way to return to Earth," Simmonds ordered gruffly.
"I have other work to do," the Professor answered through clenched teeth.
"I'm not asking, I'm ordering. We need to rectify your Commander's error in judgment and get these people back to Earth."
Victor Bergman was not a man given to anger, but now he drew himself up, came around the desk and faced Simmonds down. "Just leave, Commissioner."
"Are you refusing my order?"
"I'm refusing an order that could very well cause the death of everyone on Alpha. Commander Koenig made the correct decision."
"Yeah, you were always his puppet," Simmonds quipped with a smirk, but a quick and totally unexpected fist caught him flush on the chin, wiped it off his face and knocked him back against the doorway. Rubbing his face and with his eyes venomous slits, Simmonds stood up slowly. "You've just sealed your fate, Bergman. You are relieved of your post."
"I'm a visitor on Alpha, just like you are," the Professor answered, visibly shaken by his own action. "Now, I suggest you leave before I call security."
"Oh, by all means call them. They can keep you confined to quarters while this incident is investigated properly."
Victor's commlock beeped. He reached for it and turned away.
"Are you OK, Victor?" Helena's concerned face appeared on screen. "Your blood-pressure and breathing rate spiked quite rapidly and an alarm sounded."
"I'm heading to Medical," he said, seeing a way out and pushed past Simmonds, who seemed to debate restraining the scientist for a moment, but then stepped back with a leer.
"This is not over, Bergman."
"You did what, Victor?" Helena could not hide her surprise.
"I hit Simmonds," he whispered, his head hung. "Foolish, and wrong, I know, but he just made me so angry…" He rubbed his hand. "And it hurt…"
Helena suddenly giggled and he looked up at her, finally gave a crooked smile. "If anyone had come and told me," she laughed, "I would not have believed them."
"I better go tell John before Simmonds figures out a way to use it against him too," Victor sighed. "Insubordination by a minor staff member."
He strode into a Main Mission where there was obviously great upheaval. Paul Morrow was shouting something to security on the internal communications system and John Koenig was on his way out. "Come with me, Victor," Koenig said on the fly and the older scientist fell in beside his Commander.
"Uhhh… John… I know you have a lot on your plate right now, but… I have something to confess because it'll make its way to you soon…"
"I hit Simmonds."
Koenig stopped dead and looked at his normally unflappable, unassuming friend with surprise. Then he laughed. "Well, Carter is tearing Simmonds apart in the Eagle bay on launch pad four," the Commander reported. "So you're not the only one."
Carter was restrained between two security men when Koenig and Bergman made their entrance, while Simmonds was sitting on the floor of the Eagle bay, blood streaming from his nose.
"Commander," Alan yelled, struggling to get loose. "He just stormed in here and ordered me to prepare all Eagles for returning to Earth!"
The Commander and the Professor watched the man from the Space Commission slowly get back to his feet. "Get to Gorsky's quarters and stay there, Simmonds, until I call for you," Koenig ordered, then nodded to two more security men. "Escort him there and guard the door."
"You are obviously not capable of commanding this base and controlling your people, Koenig." Simmonds was just not letting up. "You are relieved of your post."
But John Koenig planted himself squarely in front of the man. "You have no authority here on your own, Simmonds. Now, you can either go to Gorsky's quarters under your own steam, or these men will carry you there after I knock you down."
Simmonds backed away slowly, the scowl still on his face, but he finally turned and left the Eagle bay.
"Command conference," Koenig snapped. "Victor, Alan, I need you both there." As the men left, John was on his commlock. "Paul, command conference, all section heads. Get Tony Allen from security. And get David Kano in there from the computer room to cancel Simmonds' commlock."
The group who finally gathered around the table in the Commander's large office behind the sliding doors from Main Mission represented the heads of all the departments on Moonbase Alpha. Faces still reflected the horror of their situation; the realization that a few hours ago they had, possibly forever, lost contact with their home, Earth. Captain Alan Carter was the chief pilot, Paul Morrow: Main Mission control; Helena Russell headed the Medical section; Tony Allan the Security section. Koenig had also brought in Victor Bergman, David Kano and Sandra Benes.
Koenig paced the table as everyone took their seats. "Well, Victor, as you won't be returning to Earth anytime soon, you'll head up the science department," Koenig started, trying to lighten things somewhat. "David, you'll take charge of Computer and move to Main Mission. Sandra, command conferences on behalf of Services and Technical. Right people…" he completed another circuit around the table, "let's get right down to it… we have a problem, and it has nothing to do with our runaway moon."
"Simmonds going around stirring up trouble among the staff," Alan grumbled.
"Victor, what did Simmonds want with you?"
"He ordered me to calculate velocity and trajectory so we could evacuate everyone back to Earth. I refused," the scientist replied.
"And with you, Captain Carter?"
"He came and ordered me to get all Eagles fueled and ready for long range flight to Earth. I told him I don't take orders from him. Then he threatened me and I lost my cool."
"Well, just so you know, he just relieved me of my post as Commander," Koenig sighed, sinking into the empty chair. All eyes were on him, surprise and bewilderment evident.
"Ah, John, he doesn't have that power," Victor said. "Not by himself without the rest of the Space Commission. I propose we disregard that."
Everyone around the table nodded in unison. "I second that," Paul Morrow affirmed.
"So what do we do about him?" Helena Russell asked.
"Send him to Earth in his Eagle," Alan Carter suggested, "since he's so eager to make that decision."
Kano and Morrow chuckled, but Koenig countered: "I wish it was that easy, but we know any attempt to reach Earth is futile. We cannot send a man to certain death."
"He has no function on Alpha," David Kano offered. "Let him stew in Gorsky's quarters until we've dealt with the more pressing issues of losing Earth."
"Victor, what have you got about our situation so far?"
"Well John, our velocity is quite a bit more than when the moon orbited around Earth, but we'll be within Earth's solar system for at least another 10 days. We won't be passing close enough by any of our known planets to be drawn into orbit. After that we'll be out in unknown space. And the Meta signal has faded; we are not heading towards Meta and will never be within range."
Disappointed shone on all faces.
"We have a stable and almost completely self-sustaining environment," Victor continued. "Hydroponics can grow enough food with just minor adjustments. We have recycling facilities and plenty of space away from the base for other waste management. Air is constantly recycled, and so is water. We have stores and provisions and power. We have vehicles for exploration if we come within range of new planets. We have trained staff. We have recreational facilities, although limited. We have strong leadership," he looked at John Koenig deliberately at that, "and adequate medical facilities with excellent doctors. In short, we have a perfectly livable world, even in the long term…"
Some hope was beginning to show on the faces as they all listened. "And we are now the only remaining space program from planet Earth. It will be up to us to explore unknown space on our unexpected spaceship: the moon," he added with a smile.
"Perhaps," John Koenig picked up on that hopeful note, "there is a new Earth for us somewhere on our journey."
"That doesn't solve the problem of Simmonds," Paul Morrow grumbled.
"Within the next few days people will begin to react psychologically to the fate of our moon," Helena Russell said.
"We'll make everyone with counseling experience available," Koenig said. "Do you have enough medical staff? We can assign some people from services and technical if we need to."
"I have 5 doctors, 10 nurses and 6 orderlies," Helena replied. "That should be enough to deal with medical issues, but any help with counseling will be welcomed." She glanced at Professor Bergman.
"If we can keep Simmonds away from people, it will help," the Professor added wryly.
"Tony, are you good if security issues break out?"
"I have enough staff, yes Commander."
"David, have you canceled Simmonds' commlock?"
"Right. Reprogram it with restricted access: the general living areas, but not the power plants or life support systems, launch bays, laboratories and research, technical areas, store rooms, armory or medical section. Tony, for now keep him guarded in Gorsky's quarters. I've not decided if I'll speak to him alone or call him in to a command conference. Paul, are all the damage reports in?"
"Yes, Commander. Staff is already being allocated to deal with the various sections."
"Keeping people busy and focused will help them dealing with the situation we find ourselves in," Doctor Russell added.
"Let's consolidate all our power plants, Victor, allocate a few extra technical personnel to hydroponics; David, check our actual physical supplies against the computer inventory; Alan make sure all our Eagles are thoroughly checked and keep at least half a dozen permanently fueled but secure; Tony, ascertain the location of all weapons. Do not issue Simmonds with a side arm. Doctor Russell, please get a final casualty report to me so we can evaluate our staff situation."
Heads nodded as the team leaders recognized the importance of the various tasks. "Anything else?" Koenig asked, but was met with headshakes. "OK, people, let's get to it. Doctor Russell, just a moment more," Koenig said, while also placing his hand on the arm of his chief scientist. Galvanized into action, people filed out of his office back into Main Mission and from there to their tasks. The Commander turned: "Doctor Russell, no doubt you'll be facing the brunt of the problems within the next few days as our predicament overtakes people's minds and hearts. Please let me know if you need any extra help."
"Thank you, Commander."
Victor Bergman noticed his friend watch the beautiful doctor's departure attentively. "She's the best doctor in the space medicine team, John, despite what Simmonds may tell you. Gorsky's reports were skewed."
Koenig looked back at Bergman. "How so?"
"Gorsky was vindictive." Now Koenig looked even more puzzled, frowning. "She did not return his overtures," the Professor continued with a shrug. "I guess he thought as Commander he was entitled to her attention."
"She's very formal," the Commander observed.
"Helena has worked hard despite adversity to reach the top of her profession," Victor replied softly. "She lost her husband on the Astro 7 mission." At this Koenig looked up at his friend sharply. "It has not affected her work," Bergman concluded.
"You're very protective of her, Victor?" Koenig observed; his eyes thoughtful.
"It has not been easy for her. Some of those she's had to work with have not been very supportive," the Professor sighed. "In my book some of it borders on sexual discrimination, so I've merely tried to be encouraging."
"That's good, Victor. We're going to have to give each other all the support we can, dealing with this unforeseen catastrophe."
Victor smiled slightly. "You know John, in my eyes it's not really a catastrophe. We'll be able to do all the space exploration we want without having to beg for permission or funds."
Koenig grinned. "I guess that's one way to put a positive spin on it."
"Just one suggestion if I may, John," Bergman spoke quietly, leaning in towards his Commander, well aware that those in Main Mission were very attentive while the reality of their situation was beginning to sink in.
Of course, Victor."
"Speak to Simmonds alone. Calling him in front of us all might just strengthen his resentment."
Koenig nodded slowly. "Yes. I think you're right. But he really is powerless here without Earth." With a grin John narrowed his eyes. "Did you really hit him?"
Bergman nodded. "I'm sorry John. I don't know what came over me… delayed shock? He wouldn't leave and just… pushed the wrong button."
John shook his head. "I've just never known you to lose your cool, Victor." Koenig gripped hid friend's shoulder. "Don't worry about it. He's pretty irrelevant in our current situation."
"Thanks John. I'll get back to those reports now."
It was not a task he was looking forward to, but Koenig opened the door to Gorsky's quarters with resolve. Then he turned on the audio only feature of his commlock, with a connection to Victor Bergman, as they had agreed on. Both men felt that there was a need for the conversation to be witnessed by at least one other person.
As expected, Simmonds greeted him with nothing more than a sneer. "You're finished, John Koenig!"
The Commander breathed deeply, remembering his resolve to not let anger overtake him, thus allowing Simmonds to win. "Commissioner Simmonds," he started, "right now we are in a catastrophic situation never before experienced, focusing all our energy on analyzing exactly where we stand and what we need to do to survive. We do not have the time for politics. While I would be able to consider your grievances at a later time, I am trying to help everyone pull together as we head off into the unknown, and I do not appreciate you trying to stir up staff against me."
"Those men deliberately disobeyed my orders!"
"They are scientists and astronauts. They understand the predicament we are in, and knew that any attempt to reach Earth would have been a disaster. Yet, in your attempt to gain the upper hand, you threatened them. No action will be taken against them."
"Those men assaulted me!"
"Under extreme provocation. I will not tolerate you provoking my staff, questioning their duties, attacking their loyalty or demeaning them."
"You are a disappointment, Koenig. I had high hopes for you, but your poor decisions have destroyed what respect I had for you."
"That's exactly what I'm talking about, Simmonds. Because you do not have facts on your side, you attack character and integrity, trying to push your opinion as fact."
Simmonds wanted to speak, but Koenig held up his hand.
"I'm not here to argue, Simmonds. You have a choice: you can move around Moonbase Alpha and interact with my staff in a cordial way. Or you can remain in these quarters and start on your memoirs or the report to Earth command if you like, but any more incidents with the staff and I will keep you confined to quarters. Understand: we do not need your skills, but you need ours."
Simmonds' face screwed up in anger and he took a step towards Koenig, but the Commander restrained him with a single palm against the chest. "It is not negotiable, Simmonds. You have some thinking to do, and then you can let me know what you plan to do. None of us have a choice as to where we are at the moment; you can make your own stay here pleasant or intolerable, but I will not let you poison morale on this base. I am Commander, will remain in command and will make the necessary decisions to protect my people."
"He's still confined to quarters," Koenig told the two security men as he left the room. "His own commlock will not yet open the door. His communication console is disabled too. Let me know if he gives you any trouble."
"Yes, Commander," came the reply as the two men took up position in front of the door. Koenig reached for his commlock.
"Great job, John. If that doesn't get the man thinking, nothing will."
"He's a politician, Victor," Koenig chuckled. "They think differently."
For a moment the Commander hesitated outside the medical unit, but then he made his presence known. Doctor Russell greeted him with a stiff smile. "Commander? Everything all right?"
"Yes, Doctor. I just came to see how you were holding up?"
"We have all those injured during the initial explosions and breakaway treated and stabilized. Those not too serious will recuperate in their quarters, but we have kept a few here. I've given some of my staff a little time off before the mental issues start manifesting."
Koenig smiled. "That's great, Doctor, but I was more concerned about how you are."
"Oh." She looked surprised. "I'm fine, Commander, thank you."
"Simmonds is still confined to quarters. I don't think he needs medical attention for his nose, but if you think he needs to be seen to, let me know so I can accompany you."
"I think I can deal with Commissioner Simmonds, Commander."
"He has a nasty tongue. Humor me. If he can make Victor lose his cool, he's bad news."
This time her chuckle was genuine. "Yes, unheard of. OK, Commander, if Bob or I go to see him, we'll let you know."
"Thank you, Doctor," he said, with a smile and a brief, encouraging touch of her arm.
Much later a tired Koenig, satisfied that everything that needed immediate doing had been done, headed for a little rest. He decided on a detour by his friend's quarters. The forlorn melody faintly carrying into the passage made him pause. Then, since his commlock allowed him access everywhere on Moonbase Alpha, he quietly opened the door and slipped inside.
His friend was turned away, the violin tucked under his chin, scratching out a sad, lonely tune that seemed to sum up everything they had been through during the last few hours and he stood absolutely still while the music washed over him. Finally Victor Bergman turned and noticed the Commander. He lowered the instrument.
"John! I didn't hear you come in."
"I wanted to listen," Koenig replied. "Keep playing."
"Ah… no John… I'm merely an amateur, scratching tunes for myself sometimes."
"Sounded to me like you had the mood on Alpha just about perfectly," John smiled.
"The violin is an emotional instrument," Victor said, laying it down on a chair. His commlock beeped and he aimed it at the door. Helena Russell looked momentarily surprised to see Commander Koenig there too, but she greeted them with a smile.
"Victor was just going to play me another tune," Koenig smiled.
Reluctantly the Professor picked up his instrument. "You've been warned," he said wryly, "total amateur here." Then he turned away and started playing. Koenig sat at the cluttered desk. Helena took the just vacated chair, leaned her head back and closed her eyes as the melancholy notes filled the room. A couple of minutes later the tune changed to something a little more lively.
The Commander turned to Doctor Russell with a smile. "I know that," he whispered. "That's from… ummm… Fiddler on the Roof!" She nodded. Finally Victor broke off playing and put the violin on the bed.
"Enough," he said, looking at his friends.
"Thank you, Victor," Helena smiled at him; then held up a sheaf of papers she had been holding. "Bob and my report."
"It can go to John," he replied. "Thanks."
Helena came over and held it out to John Koenig. He smiled. "Thank you, Doctor."
"Helena," she said with a slight smile of her own.
"Only if you call me John," he replied with a twinkle in his eyes.
The scientist had been watching the exchange with interest. Then the Commander turned to him. "Well, Victor, I think we have everything under control for now. I'll call a meeting tomorrow with all personnel. We need to get some rest ourselves."
"How do you feel about all this, Victor?" Helena asked; her hand on his arm.
"Oh, it makes no difference to me. Earth had long since lost its attraction for me."
"You mean you won't miss it?" Koenig asked.
Victor thought for a minute. "Except for nature, blue skies, fresh air and the occasional outride, no, I won't. How about you two?"
"Leaving friends behind is hard," Helena replied, her voice soft. "But this is the best place for me to practice space medicine, and we'll be busy, so I won't have much time to dwell on it."
The Commander scratched his chin. "Yeah. I'll miss friends. And I was part of several upcoming space programs, but I guess we'll have plenty of our own projects soon enough as we are hurled out of Earth's solar system into the unknown."
"That's what excites me," the Professor smiled. "We may not be able to control our mode of transport, but for the first time man will venture into outer space!"
"What do you think we'll find? Livable planets?"
"I'm sure we will. And much, much more. Terrifying, but exciting. Just think of everything we'll learn. We'll find answers to questions we've not even though of."
The other two smiled at his enthusiasm. Then Koenig headed for the door, the medical report in his hands. "Well, you two, it has been an unexpected first day for me, but thanks for your support. I'm going to get some rest."
"Night, John," Victor called after him.
Helena made overtures to depart too, and grinned at the Professor. "Get some rest, you fighter, you," she teased, squeezing his hand.
Those who could attend the meeting in person gathered in one of the big recreation rooms on Moonbase Alpha. Those manning essential services posts or were recuperating in their quarters or in medical were listening on the base-wide communications system.
"As you all know, an unprecedented event befell our moon yesterday," Commander Koenig began. "The nuclear waste from Earth that had been stored on the moon for years exploded and blasted the moon out of Earth's orbit. It had happened so unexpectedly and so fast that we had been unable to make a safe attempt to reach our home planet." He looked out over the sea of faces, seeing the overwhelming despair, shock and horror etched on most, but he knew honesty, however brutal, was the best way to help his people deal with the situation in the long run. "None of us can change this outcome," he continued, "and it is likely we will never see Earth again. We are still in Earth's solar system, but in a few days time, our moon will be flung into outer space on a course we have no control over. We have control over only two things: our attitudes and what we do on Alpha. You are all well trained men and women, diligent in your duty and Alpha can sustain life for years, so we can survive. It is our attitude during our quest for survival that will determine the morale on the Moonbase. Initial shock and sadness is understandable and expected, but wallowing in self pity, anger, fear and despair will not only make your life miserable, but also the lives of all those around you. We have an opportunity to be pioneers, to go where no man has gone before, and since you are on Alpha because you chose to work in the space program, this can be an incredible adventure and challenge for all of us. Somewhere out there is a new home for us. It is up to us to find it and ascertain the future of the human race in outer space." He turned to his chief scientist: "Victor?"
Bergman cleared his throat and stood up. "Like Commander Koenig said, our Moonbase can sustain life for many years: despite the explosion in the nuclear dumps we have enough transmuted nuclear fuel to provide power for hundreds of years, and we have the skilled personnel to keep our reactors functioning in top condition. Air and water is constantly recycled and we can grow and synthesize enough food for our population. We also have emergency rations for 300 people for 6 months in case of severe circumstances. We have a seed bank to replant and grow food should we find habitable planets. Our anti-gravity towers will continue to provide us with a stable environment. We have adequate systems for waste management. The physical environment, though not perfect, is capable of sustaining our lives indefinitely." With a nod at his Commander, he sat down.
"Thank you, Victor." Koenig turned to Helena. "Doctor Russell?"
"We have extensive medical facilities to deal with almost any condition known to man, and even some unknown ones. We are well stocked on medicine with the ability to synthesize more. We have an operating theater, isolation units and counseling rooms; in short, everything we need to treat patients, including highly trained and competent staff."
"Thank you, Doctor. Now, you are all aware of all our other systems: from transport to explore planets we come across, recreation facilities, libraries, communications and all the hobbies and entertainment we brought with us from Earth and can share with one another. I am confident that our chances on Alpha are excellent, despite the dangers we face, and ask you as we start this journey together, to keep that uppermost in your minds. It may be a catastrophe of enormous magnitude, but it is one that is a challenge instead of a disaster. Even now, as we don't know exactly what Earth is going through by losing its moon, those on Earth have no idea if we even survived, but had they known, they would want us to reach for a future. It is up to us to make them proud."
Commander Koenig paused, studying the faces before him. While he and his staff had been speaking, several people had glanced at each other, and a few of the expressions had become thoughtful. He was hoping that with encouragement the desperation of their plight could eventually change. "Having said that, though," he continued, "if you need any help processing our situation, please speak to Doctor Russell or Doctor Mathias. We will make sure you get all the help you need." He glanced briefly at both doctors and they nodded to confirm his words. "Finally," he added, "there may be speculation and talk that immediately after the breakaway we could have made an effort to return to Earth, but I can assure you that it was not possible. G-forces and other effects of the explosion would have prevented our Eagles from taking off and flying safely. I have since studied the figures presented me by Professor Bergman and his team, and it would have been a suicide mission had we tried. And as we heard in those last broadcasts from Earth, our home planet was not doing well either. Our hope now lies in finding a new home where mankind can start over. Please continue with your duties and keep an eye on the schedules over the next few days as adjustments are made to reflect our new situation and needs. Thank you."
There were but a few murmurs of agreement before people slowly started making their way out into the corridor. Heads were bent towards one another as people no doubt were discussing what they had just heard. Victor Bergman headed over to his friend, placing an encouraging hand on his shoulder. "Well done, John. Truth and hope at the same time."
Koenig looked at his mentor. "I have one more task to do before I can start giving my full attention to our future," he sighed, his shoulders slumped. "Will you come with me, Victor?"
"Being confronted by two of us might just make Simmonds more aggressive," the scientist said, anticipating what this was about. "But of course I'll come."
"If he continues with his aggression, I'll just keep him confined," Koenig said with a deep sigh. "His only skill is stirring up trouble." The two men made their way along the corridor, nodding at and greeting the Alphans scurrying to tasks that needed to be done. Simmonds was being kept in the quarters of the previous Commander, Gorsky, who had left for Earth shortly before the devastating explosions that caused the breakaway. At the door, John Koenig paused and looked at his friend. Then he nodded at the two security men and opened the door.
Simmonds stood up and folded his arms with a smirk. "Koenig and his sidekick. Come to apologize, Bergman?"
Commander Koenig stepped up to the man, facing him with resolve. "This ends now, Simmonds. You are either part of our community on Alpha in a civilized manner, or, God help me, I'll keep you confined to these quarters indefinitely."
"Oh, you are beyond help, Koenig. You think your little speech that I was forced to endure will unite people on your side? They will soon see through your lies and cover-up."
Koenig fought anger welling up inside him. "Do you really not understand, or are you just argumentative? There is no cover-up; there was no chance of getting back to Earth. The velocity of the moon is much higher than when it was orbiting earth and it is by sheer luck that we are not barreling down for a collision with any of the planets in our solar system, but are simply being flung into the emptiness of space."
"That's what you and your minions would have us believe, isn't it Koenig?" Simmonds sneered with a malicious glance at Bergman.
"Right, Simmonds, if you are so convinced of my error, we'll accompany you to a launch pad right now, where you can board your Eagle for Earth," Koenig said, exasperated. He became aware of his friend surreptitiously tugging at his sleeve. Victor indicated with his head that the two men leave. "What is it, Victor?" Koenig asked somewhat brusquely once they were in the corridor. With a nod at the security men, Professor Bergman whispered something lengthy by Commander Koenig's ear. Straightening up, the Commander looked at the older man thoughtfully for a moment before pointing his commlock at the door of the unit again. But he pushed right past Simmonds who seemed poised to continue his tirade and went to the communications console.
"Paul, can you patch me through base wide from this unit?" he asked, holding up his hand to silence the man from the Space Commission.
"Yes, Commander." Morrow replied from his post in Main Mission. Professor Bergman had remained at the door, hands behind his back, watching Simmonds stride aggressively around the console.
"Attention all sections Alpha," Koenig started. "I'm speaking to you from the quarters of Commissioner Simmonds of the Space Commission. The Commissioner is of the opinion that a return to Earth is not only possible, but also that we have deceived you by reporting that it would be impossible. To rectify this error I am hereby giving you a chance: if you believe Commissioner Simmonds to be correct, please report to him in Commander Gorsky's quarters within the next two hours so that he can explain his plan to you and we can allocate Eagles for your return to Earth." Then, with a brief glance at the open-mouthed Simmonds, Koenig strode out of the room. "See you in two hours."
"No one came?" Paul Morrow asked at the command meeting several hours later.
Professor Bergman shook his head. "Not a soul."
"Even his own pilot requested to be added to the Alpha fleet," Alan Carter reported with a grin.
"While I'm not celebrating this outcome, it did demonstrate that Simmonds has no standing here on Alpha," Koenig said with a heavy heart. "I'd much rather have chosen no animosity."
"Some people will never back down, no matter how wrong they are," Helena Russell added.
"Well, Simmonds lost face badly," the Commander went on, "and he is not likely to forget it. However, he has agreed to be respectful to staff and not bring this up again, if Victor and Alan apologize to him."
"No!" Alan Carter shook his head. "No way, Commander! He's the one that should apologize!"
Koenig turned to his chief pilot. "Captain Carter, sometimes we have to give a little, to gain much. In this case I'm attempting to gain harmony on Alpha as we start this journey into the unknown. Apologizing to Simmonds will help achieve that, so I ask that you apologize to him not for his sake, but for the sake of everyone else on this base."
"How do you even know he'll keep his word?" Carter exclaimed, still not happy.
"We don't," John Koenig replied. "But that's not what it is about, Captain Carter. It's about doing everything from our side to achieve peace."
The Eagle pilot looked around at the other faces, but he was getting no joy. Finally he turned back to his Commander. "Okay, Commander." His reply was tight lipped. "I'll do it for you, and for Alpha."
"Thank you, Alan," Koenig said with a tight smile. "I'll accompany you to his quarters. Victor has already apologized." The Commander then turned to his computer programmer. "Kano, once I confirm, program Simmonds' commlock as we previously discussed and activate the communications console in his quarters. But, people, I need you to report to me any instance where the man oversteps his boundaries. He'll be on Alpha, but he'll be on a tight leash. Remember, he has no real authority and no useful skills. Be civil to him, but be careful what you say in his presence."
The heads were all nodding in agreement before Alan Carter remarked wryly: "I wish it was possible to return to Earth just so we could throw him on an Eagle." The smiles were forced though, as the section heads realized only too well that they probably had not heard the last of Simmonds and his vendetta.
It was a grim Koenig that fell in beside his chief pilot to get the task of apologizing over with. Helena Russell joined Professor Bergman as they watched the Commander and the young Australian leave Main Mission.
"Do you think it will work, Victor?" Helena asked softly.
"Superficially, probably yes," he sighed. "But a man like Simmonds harbors resentments like precious jewels. He'll be just like the nuclear waste deposits: ready to go off at any moment."
"What else can we do?" she asked as they too left Main Mission.
"Watch him carefully. There will be trouble from him in future," Victor predicted grimly before briefly squeezing her hand. Then he turned and headed off down the corridor to his quarters and the many tasks that needed his attention.