by A21 Reporter Andy Clems
The light of the gateway dimmed, though its shimmering surface remained. Koenig raised his visor as his younger self barely kept his amazement in check. The two men, the very same two men, stared at each other for a few moments longer. It was the older Commander who spoke first.
If his experiences on Moonbase Alpha’s journey through the vast depths of space had taught him anything, it was to trust his first instinct and he followed the very first instinct he’d had the moment he saw his younger self through the gateway. Patiently, he told the whole story. Everything from his arrival on Moonbase Alpha, the catastrophic events that followed and the series of ever stranger experiences he had been through until he discovered the gateway.
He was relieved, though not altogether surprised, to find that the other man believed his story. He’d been gambling that the man standing before him had instincts equal to his own, which of course, he reminded himself, they quite literally were.
Once again there was no way of telling how quickly time was passing, as apart from the two Commanders, nothing else appeared to be in motion. The video screen was still frozen, there was no noise from the engines or vibration in the cabin. After a great deal of thought, the older Koenig made a decision. If it really was the past as it appeared to be, then he had a chance to alter the future, a chance to save everyone on Alpha and maybe even the Moon itself.
Quickly he relayed his plan to his younger self. On arrival at Alpha, the younger Koenig would order an immediate evacuation of the base and orbiting space dock to Earth, while simultaneously the remaining Eagles would begin dispersing the nuclear waste at storage area 2 in an attempt to prevent the explosion which blew the Moon out of orbit in September 1999.
All either of them could do was to hope it would work as there was no way of knowing in advance. However, there seemed little point waiting around for time to start once more, so the pair said their goodbyes and the older Koenig made his way back to the shimmering gateway. He slid down his visor, turned back and raised a hand in farewell. His younger self returned the gesture, taking his seat in front of the video screen once more. Koenig stepped through the gateway and braced himself.
He wasn’t sure what to expect. Logically, he reasoned, if his younger self was indeed successful, then surely he would cease to exist in the time and place he had come from? What would that feel like when the moment came? He didn’t know, and the more he pondered, the less he liked the thought. He recognized his new surroundings, or rather the lack of them, as he emerged from the gateway. The same white nothingness as before. With nothing else to do, he made his way back to the Eagle he had arrived in.
Sealing the airlock and taking his place in the pilot’s chair, he resigned himself to wait for whatever happened next. Time passed. That in itself was odd. He realised that in some strange way he was conscious of the passage of one moment to the next. Then, just as suddenly as they had ceased, his instruments flickered back into life.
Not waiting for the chance that they might cut out once more, Koenig fired the motors and as the craft shuddered violently, he applied full thrust. The white landscape all around faded into the blackness of space and pinpricks of stars all around. He checked his guidance system. He was on a return course to Alpha!
As he approached the familiar crater-covered surface, he was met with elated radio calls, asking him to confirm he was alright. After he’d done so, he switched over to automatic landing and shut off the radio. What had happened to his younger self? Had their plan failed? Or had it succeeded in some alternate newly formed reality, one the older man returning to Alpha would never see? Koenig was certain he would never really know and resigned himself to the fact as the landing struts touched down on the pad. He was home.