Chapter 6- finding a way
Alan stared at the ceiling of his room and counted the small indentations for the hundredth time. He avoided looking at the wheelchair that sat parked beside his bed, a mute testimony of his current condition. It had been over 12 weeks since his injury and nothing had changed, though he had been relased by medical. At least he was out of everyones gaze and able to have some quiet time.
His door chimed right on cue and he held back a grumble, he knew who it was. He came every day to try and keep his thoughts positive, it was a friendly gesture but it was no longer working. Alan had been busy everyday of his life upon the moon, now he just felt rather useless. Of course his hands still worked and John was pushing for him to take up a desk job. Gosh he wished he could be enthusiastic about that, but he knew with the type of dngers they face on the moon, even being at a desk job would be dangerous for him.
John opened the door without permission and stood staring at him, "come on Alan, time to get out of here and join me for a meal". Alan didn't bother arguing as he knew from experience that Koenig would just make it an order. He almost smiled at the thought that he could disobey an order easily now, what was John going to do ground him. But he couldn't not be bothered having an argument. So he mutely followed.
Rolling himself through the corridors Alan only half listened as John rambled on about Alphan news. "Anyway Harry would like a change ,so that means there is a vacancy available at that department".
Alan stopped, he knew this was another subtle hint to get himself working. "We could adapt the space for your chair Alan", Koenig was saying. "Is this an order John", he could not help the tension in his voice. Koenig sighed, "Alan I don't want to make it an order. But you need to think it over carefully. I know you miss flying but… "But just face it I am never going to step foot, pardon the expression, into an eagle again", Alan knew his voice sounded angry.
"Well yes", Koenig tired of being discrete went for the matter of fact tone. Sucking in a gulp Alan found the all too familiar tears well up and fought them off. He supposed sooner or later he would have to return to doing something. Everyone on this base had a job to do and he could not be the exception.
"Alright", he sighed softly, "I'll do it". Koenig could hear the reluctance in his voice and knew the work was not going to go well if Alan did not have the right attitude. "I'll get Jerry Brooke to come by your cabin and talk about the position. He can answer any questions or concerns you have. Alan I expect you to give the same dedication to this position as you have shown in other things", Koenig told him.
In other words stow the attitude Alan thought , but he supposed his gloomy thought could be grating. He could not help it though , he belonged in the sky and felt depressed at being land bound for the rest of his life.
They continued on and had a quite meal together , the conversation was kept up but he wasonly half listening, lost in his own world. "I have to go now, stay talk to the others, I'll see you tomorrow", Koenig squeezed his hand then left. More conversation did not appeal so Alan avoided eye contact with anyone and left the recreation area. He was half way back to his room when the red alert siren started to scream.
"All non essential personnel return to your quarters and stay there", Koenig instructed. Non essential, now that actually applied to him. He watched two pilots run through the doors ahead of him, obviously eagles were needed for the emergency. Bitterness and uselessness welled up together ,he fought them off and wheeled the chair a little faster toward his quarters.
He reflected as he moved how the old Alan who dared to be put himself into dangerous positions despite orders to the contrary had gone. Now he obeyed without even an argument. Stopping his chair just short of his door Alan made a decision, maybe it was time to get the old Alan back.
He wheeled around fast and headed toward the travel tube.
John Koenig was pacing up and down and casting uneasy glances at the huge spaceship that sensors had picked up. It had not responded to their greetings in any verbal manner but had sent down 6 medium size pods. These had landed a few kilometers away from the base. When they had opened just a few minutes ago and large metallic men had began their march toward the base. Taking it as an act of aggression Koenig instructed several eagles to go and destroy the robots.
"Eagle three here sir, I have the target in sight", came Lee Hansons voice. Koenig tried to communicate with both the ship and robots again, asking them to contact him or he would have to take action.
A flash of a red beam fired toward eagle three was the answer. The eagle was quickly enveloped and exploded seconds later. The metal men continued their jerky but quick steps toward the base.
John tensed up even more, "Alright they can withstand one shot but can they withstand several, perhaps several eagles can fire all at the same time.". "Hmm, I am not sure that's wise John", Victor Bergman warned, "it looked like the robots gained power from the laser shots, several could make them unstoppable. We may have to think of another way."
Koenig watched as a robot used a tool attached to his arm to cut a hole in the wall one of the outer buildings of the base. "We better think quickly Victor", he remarked.
"The base is being invaded by several metallic men, do not approach", came the warning.
Alan wheeled his chair into a small alcove that would conceal him while still giving him a view of what was coming. As he watched two large silver metallic men ripped open a door like it was made of paper and marched down the corridor. They were at least nine feet tall and had a large body mass. Unlike humans they had several pairs of eyes and could rotate their heads to look backward, up and down. It was not going to be easy to sneak up to these guys. Continuing to watch Alan saw two security offers fire their lasers on the robots. The beams seemed to sink into the metallic skin briefly making it shine even brighter. A brighter shot that burned through both the security officer then the wall was the answer to that attempt to stop them. The other officer stood still unsure of what to do next, he was right in the pathway of the approaching machines and had the door was several feet away. "Get out of the way ", Alan found himself yelling. That unfortunately made the robots heads swivel toward him, oh boy. The security guard took that opportunity to escape and Alan hoped desperately that he had gone for help.
One of the machines held out a hand and Alan felt his heart beat increase as he realized the weapon was trained upon him. Grasping the wheels of his chair hard Alan twirled the chair around and wheeled as fast as he could toward the door.
"Jasper is dead", the security guard told Koenig, he tried to take out one of those robots but the shot was just absorbed . The robot fired back killing him and burning through half the wall. He would have got me as well if Carter had not distracted him".
Koenig started he could have sworn the guard said Carter, "who", he asked. "Alan Carter, he was there in his chair and he yelled", the guard repeated. He did not expect for Koenig to grab hold of him, "you just ran and left him there with those things", he spluttered.
The guard flushed, "there was nothing I could do", he stuttered. Koenig gave him a glare that stated clearly he doubted those words. "I want a team of guards in the corridor", he yelled.
Alan heard a strange fizzing sound and found himself whizzing the chair about in a half circle. Behind him he saw the amazing sight of one of the metal men with what looked like arching electricity covering his entire form. It bathed him in an almost purple glow for several seconds before his eyes turned bright yellow, then to black then to orange as flames shot from them. Seconds later the robot collapsed. Alan watched stunned and wondering what had happened. He hardly registered another robot shooting at him, quickly wheeling again, he felt the chair move slightly as it was hit. When he heard the sizzling sound again he realized what had happened, the robot's shot had hit the metal of his chair then bounced off. He remembered John telling him that the chair had been constructed from the metal they'd found on the planet they'd dubbed, "old stinky' because of all the overly fragrant trees that grew abundantly.
Now the other robots had stopped and were turning. Alan wheeled himself as fast as he could toward the console and contacted Main mission. "John the robots can be stopped by using shields made from the metal from planet stinky', he went on to explain what had happened.
John took it all in "all right Alan, we'll get on it right away. Now go back to your cabin and stay there, that's an order".
Alan sighed inwardly always the protector was John. But he also had a valid point, it was not too wise for him to be out here. So he wheeled toward his rooms. Coming into the corridor he froze when 1 large metal robot began to run in his direction. Spinning his wheels fast Alan propelled himself down the corridor . He could hear the clonking sounds of the robots feet as it bore down upon him. A door was in sight and Alan felt his hands burn as he forced the chair faster. Too late, a giant hand grabbed the back and pulled him. Feeling his chair tip, Alan found himself falling out . Holding the chair in front of him Alan warned, "go ahead metal monster shoot, I've always wanted monster chips for dinner".
As if he understood the robot did not fire just reaching to pull the chair away. Alan knew if that happened he'd be doomed, the robot would fire and kill him. He held on tightly then flinched when the robots own cold metal finger wound around his own and pulled them off the chair. Grabbing him by the scruff of the neck the robot then held him like a cat with its prey shaking him slightly.
Then he clomped along the corridor with him held firmly in his grasp. Alan wondered what he intended and found his heart racing again as the robot approached one of the garbage shutes on the floor of the corridor. Using it's other hand to prize the shute open, it shook him again the threw him down toward the shute. Finding himself flying through the air Alan braced himself for falling hard on his back. He felt his body flip so he was facing with his legs downwards, that was totally useless. The ground was coming up fast and Alan could swear the damn robot was smiling.
Security had eliminated the robots on the other levels using the metallic shields when a report came in of one near level three.
Koenig felt icy sliver force its way into his heart, level three was where Alan's quarters were and he was wondering if he had made it back.
"Alan report", he snapped. When he got no answer he simply ran out of main mission and made his way along to level three.
There he found the last remaining robot lying on the floor with sparks still cascading over his body .
The guards were frowning at the robot, "it wasn't us', the remarked. "Yeah well you guys, your weapons were useless but mine was fairly awesome", came a very familiar voice.
John found himself staring with his mouth slightly open. 'What are you surprised I took him out with just a wheel", Alan Carter retorted. "Umm no Alan, it's just that..", Koenig pointed at him. Alan frowned, "What, have I got some robot goo on me or something", he looked himself over.
Koenig could not believe Alan might not have actually realized, 'umm no Alan It's just that you're standing up".
Alan looked down at his legs and began to laugh, "yeah well I suppose neither me or that metal idiot really expected that". Koenig began to smile, 'oh and by the way Alan do you realize you disobeyed another order".
"Hey I thought I was essential personnel", Alan replied. "Yeah you are", Koenig agreed. Alan accompanied John was to main mission and listened as the spaceship was told its metal robots were dead. Alan waited for a shot from the ship but nothing happened, it hung there for a moment longer then left. So much for that. "Well we always were superior to machines", Alan stated. Everyone turned toward him then noticing for the first time that he was standing next to John. Acting like he had no idea why they were all staring Alan demanded, "what, never seen a pilot before".
When everyone grinned he found himself joining in.
Helena took his arm firmly and led him down to medical section to give him a quick check over.
Her smile told him all he needed to know. "So I'll get my flight status back", he asked ,trying hard not to make his voice shake. Although he loved flying and wanted to be back up there now the moment was approaching he felt a little uncertain.
"Yes", Helena confirmed. Alan went back to his quarters to mentally prepare himself.
Helena contacted John, "look I'd rather not wait for some emergency to happen to send Alan back up there, she told him. I know flying is in his blood but I swear I detected a trace of nerves".
"Alright I'll take care of it", Koenig told her.
The next morning Alan found John at his door again. "Since you have been away from flying for awhile you'll need to requalify. I'm here to take you through everything".
Alan appreciated that it was John who was by his side in the eagle today. He grinned, "just like old times". Koenig grinned back, Alan seemed fine with not trace of the nerves Helena had mentioned.
They made their way to the hangar bays where Alan found himself stopping and staring at the eagle that sat waiting. "Isn't that eagle one", he asked. Koenig shook his head at the fact Alan could instinctively recognized the eagle. "Yes, I gave the order to repair her. But as yet nobody has taken her up. I wanted you to be the first".
Alan found a lump forming in his throat, "you had a lot of faith", he rasped. "You have overcome a lot Alan, I had no doubt that you would fly again", Koenig told him. "Even when you tried to get me to fly a desk",Alan asked.
"Just a little incentive to get out of that chair Alan",Koenig replied.
"Thanks",Alan told him sincerely. He walked to the eagle and with a huge grin began to strap himself in.
"I am really looking forward to this", he told John. He was almost overly excited and Koenig decided he better make sure Alan was not putting on an act. "Are you sure, Helena thought you might be…"
"Nervous", Alan ended his sentence. "I was John, but something changed that". He pulled a small tape from under his flight suit and put it into the eagles main computer. "It is from the camera that was inside the eagle at the time of the explosion", Alan told John.
They watched together as the giant fireball raced toward the eagle. Alan noticed John frowning and pushed the freeze button, "look John, here I am on the ground unconscious, now look at the door".
John was, "it's open", he stated. 'Yes, no matter how hard I tried I could not remember shutting that door. Now I know it was because I didn't." He looked over at John, "I don't want anyone to give me a scientific explanation. I think with all that we have endured on the moon and how we live each day not knowing if there is a tomorrow that I want to believe in a miracle."
If this can happen John then we are going to find a home", he grinned that boyish grin of long ago. "Now can we go throw the eagle about". John 's smile matched his own, "you have clearance for lift off Captain', he declared.
Down at main mission everyone watched as Eagle one lifted off into space, there was a cheer.
Seconds later though Paul Morrow was frowning as he watched the antics, "those sort of moves are not standard for an eagle', he grumbled.
Helena just laughed, "oh don't be a stick in the mud Paul, the boys are playing, let them enjoy themselves." Paul shrugged deciding a little fun never hurt anyone.