Master of Space
An aging space captain with a plummeting reputation embarks on one last mission to prove that you’re never too old to do great things.
Written by Gregory Patrick Travers
Jonas Harper, Space Log: 008, Space Date: November 5, 2316
It’s been two days since I came out of cryo-sleep. Though I am still tired and groggy from the re-animation process, the doctor assigned to my care has assured me that I am doing exceptionally well comparatively and that this pulsing headache and stomach pain will soon come to pass.
Despite all of that, I did find the energy to leave my quarters earlier in the day and shuffle myself to the cafeteria on our floor. Though the food on this station still leaves much to be desired, it is still eons ahead of the colorful paste they were feeding me back at Space Core. But I suppose that is obvious when you compare the simple budget of the U.S. Space Core to the bottomless black budget account of the Galactic Liberation Foundation.
As my strength returns, so does the familiar child-like wonder that has consumed me since the day I found out I would be interviewing Capt. Michael for our “Where Are They Now?” segment of next month’s episode of 24th Century Living with Jonas Harper. Being a television personality has granted me the opportunity to meet all sorts of celebrity personalities, but none with the level of fame that the Captain holds. No name in the history of mankind has ever been both praised and cursed as the name of Captain Dan Michael’s. To some, he has been defined as a Messiah, a protector of all that is good. To others, he has been called a destroyer of worlds, a demon-spawn who breathes decay into all he comes into contact with. All throughout the universe lines have been drawn, sides have been chosen. But I did not travel all this way to be swayed by the opinions of others. All I really know is who Captain Dan Michael was to me.
I was only a child during the Dragimian Occupation, unable to grasp the true severity of the ongoing war. While my parents sat horrified watching the Holo-Deck in the living room, the four-armed reptilian race invading planet after planet, seeking to destroy all electromagnetic technology, I hollered and cheered on each wave of Federation Ships that were sent out to battle the Dragim Empire.
Many people of Earth were against our involvement in the war. They said it was foolish to expend resources on a battle so far away, that our participation would only anger the Dragimians and lead Emperor Xanthok and his blood-thirsty reptilian army back to our planet to enslave our race and destroy our technology. You see, I did not know this as a kid, but it’s not just machines that emit electromagnetic frequencies. The human brain radiates these signals as well. The thought of getting their brains scooped out of their skull and stomped on scared a lot of people, and understandably so.
On the other hand, there were others, like my parents, who believed that if someone is in trouble and you can help them, no matter what race they are or how far away from the planet they may be–then you should help them. No questions asked and no thank-you needed.
Night after night we sat glued in front of the television, watching the battle unfold. Then, one night, it was over. A news report came on the New World Media saying that the evil Emperor Xanthok had been taken into Federation custody, brought down single-handily by a young, brave soldier known as Private Dan Michael. The victory was celebrated throughout the galaxy and the newly appointed Captain of the brand new Galaxy S-5 battleship became a symbol of hope and peace to us all.
30 years has passed since the events that took place that evening and it has been a long, rocky road for the Captain ever since. First, it was the tabloid articles exposing his lavish, party lifestyle. Then came the rumors of drug use and alcohol, the embarrassing penis photos, and assault charges. After the shoplifting scandal at the Milky Way Space Mall, it was the rehab. And then, just when everyone thought it couldn’t get any worse, the news story got out that the Captain had fired on and destroyed a moon orbiting Romillia 6 in a failed attempt to capture a runaway terrorist. After this ill-planned and highly destructive act, the Captain became a galactic pariah.
But, even though a word of praise is seldom heard of Captain Michael anymore, I still remember him as the force of good he once was. I hope with this article that I will be able to remind people of that. Anyway, I must take my leave as I am becoming fatigued quite quickly. Tomorrow, the Galaxy S-5 will dock on the space station and I will be escorted onto the seasoned Federation battleship to conduct my preliminary question period with the veteran Captain. How exciting!
Preliminary Question Period Transcript, Space Date: November 6, 2316
Jonas: Are we…Are we rolling?
Federation Public Relations Representative: Yes, we have begun. Now, I will remind you once more before the Captain joins us: Upon his arrival, you will stand up, salute and stay at attention until the Captain relieves you. I also must mention again that you are to stay away from any questions regarding the Rebellion Army. As the official stance of the G.L.F. is that a rebellion army does not exist, any questions about the Rebellion Army’s existence would be to imply direct dishonesty among the Federation to the people of Earth and this will not be tolerated, understood?
PR Rep: Good. The Captain will join us now. Stand up and salute.
PR Rep: Captain Michael, may I present Jonas Harper of the New World Media Channel.
Captain Michael: At ease, Jonas.
Jonas: Thank you. Before we begin I would just like to tell you that you were a great hero of mine as a child. I come in peace, I suppose is what I mean to say.
Captain Michael: A heart-warming sentiment, my earthling brother. I trust your stay on the S-5 has been adequate thus far?
Jonas: Exceptional, sir. It seems like something out of a resort hotel, less a battleship.
Captain Michael: Yes, well, it may not have some of the flash or the new fancy gizmos of the new Galaxy S-6, but this old girl has been a faithful companion on many grave and dangerous adventures throughout this spacedom. So then! Where will we begin?
Jonas: I’d like to start from the very beginning–with your childhood. More importantly, your parents…
Captain Michael: Yes, of course. My mother was a school teacher and my father was a Secretary of Defense for the United States government. It was hard for me growing up, especially in school. Kids can be so cruel, you know. Imagine how they teased when they learned that my father was only a mere secretary…
Captain Michael: But, indeed! It only made me push myself harder to conquer that adversity and rise above the shameful mediocrity of my family tree. Academics, however, were not my strong suit. Things like numbers, data, science…These things meant nothing to me. Legends don’t sit around and solve equations, they get out there and they kick ass! Young, inspired and craving adventure, I decided to apply for the United States Space Core. And, after passing my entrance exam with flying colors, I became a cadet.
Jonas: Thirty years ago, on a liberation mission to the planet Zeta4B during the Dragimian Occupations, you were separated from your battalion. It was on this legendary mission that you stormed an enemy stronghold and single-handily defeated the evil Emperor Xanthok. Can you take us back to that moment and tell us what was going through your head…paint the picture for us, if you will?
Captain Michael: Wow…Okay…I haven’t grown so old that I’ve forgotten I hope…Like you have already said, I was separated from my battalion on planet Zeta4B, following the trail of a couple of Dragimian foot soldiers. To my surprise, the trail led me right to their base where they stood sentry at the gates. Suddenly, I saw Emperor Xanthok exit the base and start a conversation with the two foot soldiers. I knew I had to act quickly, for a chance to get that close to Xanthok were few and far between. Without a thought of my own personal safety, I selflessly leaped from my hiding spot and fired off two shots from my phaser, subduing the two guards. Then, I pointed my phaser to the Emperor and, looking him dead in his black eyes, said, “Long Live the New World!” before I fired off the shot that knocked him unconscious. Soon after, my communications with base returned and my battalion was able to trace my location. And that is the story of how I defeated the Emperor.
Jonas: Wow, incredible…I’m speechless.
Captain Michael: Understandably so.
Jonas: Following the Emperor’s arrest, you were recognized for your bravery with the prestigious Medal of Heart and a promotion to Captain of this very ship. It was there that you adopted the famous white and yellow uniform with a large lightning bolt embroidered on the chest. A symbol that became known throughout the galaxy for the heroism it represented. How was it that this lightning bolt, now worn on all Federation uniforms, came to be?
Captain Michael: It’s poetic, really. As the Federation ship left planet Zeta4B, I looked out a window into the far reaches of space and there I saw a lightning bolt, as big as the ship itself, flash in the darkness as if God himself was there, riding along with us…guiding us.
Jonas: I’m sure you mean metaphorically. Like, you metaphorically saw a lightning bolt in space.
Captain Michael: No, literally. I literally saw the lightning bolt flash before my eyes…As big as God himself.
Jonas: It’s just…It’s just that a lightning bolt in space would be physically impossible. There’s no atmosphere in space.
Captain Michael: Yes, but this was deep in space. Very far out in space…
Jonas: That wouldn’t change anything. You see, the electrons can’t ionize without an atmosphere and so a lightning bolt would be impossible to see in space. You must be mistaken…
Captain Michael: But this was really far out there…Deep, deep space.
PR Rep: Maybe we should move on to the next question…
Jonas: Yeah…um…sure…The years following your rise to fame, you were in the headlines weekly it seemed. But more and more the articles printed were less about your military endeavors and more about your moonlighting and your celebrity lovers.
Captain Michael: Yes…crazy times those days were. As it has been disclosed many, many times before, I was on a lot of drugs for mostly all of the ‘70s. You know, celebrity status and all…
Jonas: Your first marriage to famous actress and model Julie Santina lasted only a short forty days. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Captain Michael: Ah, Julie…She was a firecracker, was she not? Unfortunately, our union was based more on politics than passion. After our highly publicized moon wedding, she went back to earth and I went back out to deep space. Both her career and my public approval rating were sent through the roof, but when the cameras turned off there was just not enough foundation to keep us afloat. It’s heartbreaking, really…And then when word got out of my…umm…infidelities, the marriage just crumbled.
Jonas: I do recall when the story broke. I believe the number of alleged mistresses who had come forward was thirty-seven.
Captain Michael: Thirty-eight.
Jonas: Oh, my mistake.
Captain Michael: Amazing is it not? I would have never in a million years have thought that human sperm would be compatible with the reproductive organs of an alien species…but here we are.
Jonas: Are you saying that there were…bastard children?
PR Rep: That’s not at all what the Captain is saying…Is there a point to all this?
Jonas: Well, yes. It was about this time that public opinion of you on Earth started to fall, especially among women. I wondered if it was this shift in popularity, and the drugs, of course, that may be partly responsible for the destruction of the moon orbiting Romillia6.
Captain Michael: (sighs) I suppose this had to come up sooner or later…I was chasing down a terrorist and his ship landed on Romillia6. We had strong reason to believe that the cruiser in which he was in was hauling weapons of ultimate chaos. We urged the Romillian leaders to hand over the fugitive but they refused…
Jonas: Why did they refuse?
Captain Michael: Because they hate us! They hate our freedom and the freedom we provide the galaxy! They’re the ones who started the goddamn Rebell–
PR Rep: Captain Michael! I do not know what you were about to say because you didn’t say anything, but I would highly suggest you rethink your answer.
Captain Michael: (groans) Listen, Jonas. The Federation will not negotiate with terrorists. That’s page one stuff. Yes, I took a lot of heat for what I did. Many people thought blowing up that moon was an overreaction. Who’s to say, really? I will say this, though… If I had known that not having a moon would have caused the planet to flood the way it did…I might have rethought my methods. Who knew, right? Look, I know it’s not a perfect situation but protecting the universe never is. We did what we thought was right…
PR Rep: I think we should move on.
Jonas: Sure…The Galaxy S-5 has been sailing the stars for over three decades. You’ve led countless missions in aid, in battle, and in liberation. In all your travels, have you ever seen him? The fabled warrior they call ‘The Hand’? Does he really exist?
PR Rep: Okay! I think we’ve asked enough questions for the preliminaries. The Federation does not acknowledge the existence of this so-called “Hand”. He is a rumor. A myth. I think it’s time you went back to your quarters for the evening. Tomorrow you can ride along with the crew on a routine patrol.
Jonas: That would be wonderful, thank you. And thank you, Captain Michael.
PR Rep: Cut tape!!
Jonas Harper, Space Log: 009, Space Date: November 6, 2316
I can’t believe I’m writing this but…I just interviewed Captain Dan Michael! I feel like a giddy little teen. I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t catch on to his sense of humor though. I mean, the whole thing about the lightning bolt had to have been a joke. And you would have to be absurdly stupid to mistake a Secretary of Defense for a receptionist…Wow. Brave and funny. You don’t see much of that now and days.
He’s put on weight, aged a great deal since I remembered him, but he looked real to me…a little broken, but real nonetheless. I guess since the separation with Nancy, I’ve been a little broken too. Maybe in some strange way, the Captain and I are more alike than I ever thought–two defeated men struggling for redemption. Maybe that’s just the writer in me searching for a deeper meaning that isn’t really there. Anyway, I must take my leave. The Public Relations Representative has told me I won’t be allowed to record during my ride-along with the helm crew…but I’m a journalist and learned a long time ago that there’s always a way around these things. I’ve managed to bring two miniature recorders with me, stitched in both my shirt and my pants. They operate on a powerful wireless frequency that sends everything recorded to my hard drive in my quarters on the ship. I will be able to have a live audio feed and none will be the wiser…
Jonas Harper, Shirt Microphone Transcript Feed, Space Date November 7, 2316
>sliding doors open
Dragimian Escort: Blanaqkystai!!
Captain Michael: Ah! Jonas! Welcome! I see you have met Bok Bok. He’s a Dragimian, you know. Quite progressive, is it not? Not many space captains would hire Dragimians, what, with their hatred for technology, their primal blood lust and overall poor etiquette. Especially not that young Captain Williams piloting the Galaxy S-6. You know what that makes him, don’t you? A racist!
PR Rep: Captain, we talked about this. You can’t keep accusing fellow Federation Captains of being racist.
Captain Michael: Well, then–Where’s his Dragimian? Sure, he commands the new, fancy Galaxy S-6, but tell me, where’s his Dragimian?
Jonas: Are you saying you hired a Dragimian just so you could look progressive?
Captain Michael: Of course not! Bok Bok is highly qualified for this job, isn’t that right, Bok Bok?
Dragimian Escort: Bakqwnaki! Bakqwnaki!
Captain Michael: A loud bunch, aren’t they…Yes, um, sure! Thank you Bok Bok, that will be all!
>sliding doors close
Captain Michael: He sure does like to jerk around uncontrollably, that Bok Bok.
Jonas: And scream.
Captain Michael: Yes. And scream. Very loudly…Now! Let me introduce you to the fabled crew of the Galaxy S-5; My eyes! My ears! My faithful companions!
Bobby: Easy on the cheese, Uncle Mike.
Captain Michael: I told you–while on duty I am not your uncle, I’m your captain. And it’s Michael, not Mike. You don’t abbreviate last names.
Bobby: But your last name is a first name.
Captain Michael: Yes, I know! All great men have two first names, everyone knows that!…Ugh…(To Jonas) I promise the introductions will get better as we go. This pale-faced monstrosity is my nephew, Bobby Gizowitz.
Captain Michael: Yes. Gizowitz. Despite my best efforts to convince her otherwise, my sister married a Jew. A ginger jew. This pudgy, freckled ball of shame is what came out of her.
Bobby: Thanks, Uncle Mike!
Captain Michael: You are a constant disappointment to me…(To Jonas) I took the boy under my wing after he managed to get himself kicked out of every private school his parents sent him to. Bobby is our acting Head of Reference, or for short–HOR. (To Bobby) You’re a dirty, dirty Hor, aren’t you?
Bobby: Stop it, unc. You’re making me blush.
Captain Michael: You’re always blushing, you genetic abomination…
Jonas: What are the responsibilities of a Federation Head of Reference?
Bobby: I’m in charge of looking up the files n’ shit. For instance, if we pass by a planet and want to know what the fuck we looking at, I just say, “Computer! What the fuck are we looking at?”–and it tells me.
Captain Michael: It’s a bit more complicated than that.
Bobby: No it isn’t.
Captain Michael: ANYWAY! NEXT! we have my number 2 man, our lead navigator–Kort.
Kort: Greetings, Earthling.
Jonas: Greetings. My name is Jonas.
Captain Michael: Kort joins us from planet Zeta4B. I don’t know if you know much about the Zetans, but they are said to be one of the most intelligent races in the universe. They believe in logic over emotion…though I can’t be sure that they feel any emotion at all, really. It’s all logic with them. Always. Except for that god awful spiral of hair around that gigantic melon of theirs. I don’t see anything logical about that.
Kort: The pattern of our hair acts as an extra protective layer that mimics a small hairline fracture in our skull which allows flexibility during increased brain function. So, in fact, it is entirely logical.
Captain Michael: (To Jonas) See? This is the kind of stuff I’m talking about…Anyway, he is the best navigator I have ever seen, but he’s just horrible at parties. Next on the list, a space crew would not be complete without a sassy black woman! Over there, up by the monitors, is our galactic ambassador, Sasha Banks. Sasha, say hello to Jonas.
Sasha: Hey, sugar.
Jonas: It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Captain Michael: Sasha is an educated diplomat, learned in over forty different alien dialects, trained in five of the seven deadly arts and, if I may say so, not so hard on the eyes.
Sasha: Oh, Captain…
Jonas: This is great. I would love to come around and ask each of you some questions if I could
Bobby: No way! I ain’t talking to no fucking press.
Jonas: It will be off the record, I swear. But it would help me get a more well-rounded view of the Captain for my report. Just a few short minutes of your time is all I ask.
Kort: I have no objections.
Sasha: Oh, you want to know about the Captain, do you? (laughs) Okay, sugar. You came to the right spot. Come on over.
Sasha Banks Interview
Sasha: So what would you like to know, sweetheart?
Jonas: Okay, well, why don’t we start with how long you’ve known the Captain.
Sasha: I have been employed as the Galactic Ambassador of the Galaxy S-5 for twenty years now. I’ve been with the Captain almost since the beginning. The original ambassador, Franklin Franklin, died off a supposed heart attack…I don’t believe it…The Captain was widely known for being highly medicated during those days. I think the boy just did too much and OD’d. Things were different in the seventies. Deep space travel was new and there wasn’t any supervision. When I came on board, the Captain was a wreck; hooked on Alertin, smelling like bourbon and vomit—it was shameful. So I pulled up my stockings and said, “No more!”
That’s when the Captain began his road to recovery. It wasn’t easy and his head took a real beating…I believe that was partly responsible for his decision to destroy the moon on Romilla6…His head just was not in a good space.
Jonas: Were the two of you ever…romantic?
Sasha: On the record? No. The Captain is married to the ship and that’s the way he likes it and that’s the way it has to be. But just between us girls, I might be the only resident on the Galaxy S-5 who can get away with calling him by his first name. But don’t you go putting that in your article, now.
Jonas: Of course not. I would just like to get a better idea of the Captain’s personal side.
Sasha: Look, I know back on Earth the public sees us as some sort of militant scum, led by an over-privileged, irresponsible party animal. The rest of the crew can’t speak Dragimian, but I can. When your escort was over there screaming in the elevator, he was telling us that you have a recording device on you. The frequencies are like nails on a chalkboard to him…Can you imagine the pain he goes through everyday, working on a ship that sends out nothing but high powered frequencies? But despite all that, he comes to work every day and does his job. Why? Because he wants to be something more than just another Dragimian warrior. And as for the Captain…before you go back to Earth to tear him apart, you should know that I have never met a man more honest, more loyal, and more committed to the safety of the universe than that man over there–Captain Dan Michael.
Jonas: Thank you, Sasha…for keeping that between us. But you should know, I did not come here to tear him, nor you or the crew, apart. If anything, I’m hoping to sway the public opinion to be a little more open-minded.
Sasha: That sounds just fine, sugar.
Jonas: Well then…I should continue onward. It was a pleasure to meet you.
Sasha: You as well, honey.
Jonas: Hello, Kort. Would it be okay if I asked you some questions now?
Jonas: Why don’t we start with how long you’ve known the Captain?
Kort: I applied for the Liberation Federation after my home planet, thanks to Captain Michael, was freed from Dragimian rule. My father insisted it was only logical that I would join those who liberated my people to travel the universe and liberate other alien races facing the same oppression.
Jonas: There are some people back on Earth who say that the Federation no longer is the savior of those facing oppression, but the oppressors themselves.
Kort: Yes. Humans. They are quite an interesting species. They wear their pride with such confidence…as if it is a blessing. I cannot say that I agree for the most part. It is logical that when a being faces an obstacle or challenge, he has but three choices: Conquer, Accept or Submit. Humans, however, look at problems at such distances and make judgments on how the problems should be fixed, while neglecting the very problems that are of the utmost importance, staring them in the face. This is why most earthlings care more about the political wars of deep space and not the rapidly depleting ecosystem of their home planet.
Jonas: If this is the case, why have you continued to loyally serve under an Earthling Captain?
Kort: If all beings in the universe are composed of the same matter, it is logical to assume that we would inherit the natural traits of the universe around us, which is composed of both great logic and immeasurable chaos. It is quite simple, depending on where you are standing, to say that one trait may be more valued than the other…but they are both very real. They are both very necessary for the grand theater of life to continue. This is why…(To Captain) Captain, an unidentified Federation cruiser had appeared on radar.
Captain Michael: Switch to hailing frequency!…Unidentified Federation cruiser…Identify yourself!
Bobby: The cruiser model matches the one that was stolen a few weeks ago by rebel soldiers.
PR Rep: Remember, guys! The Federation’s stance on the Rebellion is that there is no Rebellion.
Captain Michael: Oh, cut the shit! No one’s recording; we don’t have to continue this circus! There very much is a rebellion. They’ve been stealing Federation cargo ships for years now, living off our bounty! Led by that bastard Zetan, no offence, Kort—Quinzar Ali!
Jonas: Quinzar Ali? I’ve never heard of him.
Bobby: I got this one, Uncle Mike…Computer! Who is Quinzar Ali?
Computer: Mother: Zarakin Ali, Father: Unknown. The leader of the Galactic Rebellion. Also, the first being born of both Zetan and Earthling blood. Widely known for his desire to destroy his opposer. Recently captured by Captain Bill Williams during a secret mission to planet Titan.
Captain Michael: It should have been me on that mission, not that pretty boy Williams…Follow that cruiser!
Kort: The vessel is heading towards a black hole.
Captain Michael: And now the universal question…if I enter the black, could I get back?
Sasha: I don’t know, Captain. Could you?
Kort: Captain, the Galaxy S-6 has appeared on radar. Captain Williams is hailing us.
Captain Michael: Ugh. Put him on screen!
Captain Williams: Hello, Captain Michael.
Captain Michael: To what do I owe this pleasure, Captain Williams?
Captain Williams: We are in pursuit of the stolen Federation cruiser. You may stand down; we’ll take it from here.
Captain Michael: Oh, no way. This is my patrol so you may stand down and we’ll take it from here.
Captain Williams: Well, this is my investigation. Stand down to a superior officer!
Captain Michael: You are not my superior! You’re a Captain, I’m a Captain. We’re the same.
Captain Williams: That we are not. People actually respect me. I have a better ship. I have a better crew. I am younger and more ruggedly handsome than you ever were. I’m not some train wreck who doesn’t realize that he should have retired years ago. Do yourself a favor and stay back on this one, old man. Let the professionals work. Captain Williams, out.
Captain Michael: Grr! That does it! Kort, you follow the cruiser through that black hole, you hear me?
Kort: Yes, Captain. Passing through in 10,9,8,7….
Sasha: Hold on, y’all.
Jonas: Oh, god….
Jonas Harper, Space Log: 010, Space Date: November 7, 2316
Things have taken a horrible turn. I fear that I may not make it home alive to complete my piece on the Captain. Yes…The Captain. In the last hour I have learned perhaps too much about the Captain, things I wish I didn’t know. Captain Dan Michael is nothing but a fraud.
When we came out the other side of the black hole there was an ambush waiting for us. An absolutely enormous battleship, one twice or three times that of the Galaxy ships hovered above us, locking us in their abductor beams. I watched as Emperor Xanthox and another man, a Zetan, appeared on-screen. He quickly introduced himself as the Rebellion Leader, Quinzar Ali.
“You must all be very confused,” he said with a grin. “I’m sure you all thought that Xanthok and I were both safely tucked away in a dark cell somewhere…Not anymore! Hehehe. You see, Captain Williams, it was my plan for you to catch me all along. It was the only way I could get into Space Jail to break out Xanthok just in time to capture both of you! Gentlemen…it is time to pay for your crimes against the universe.”
Captain Michael scoffed, “Way to go, Captain Williams…rookie.”
It was then that the four-armed beast known as Xanthok joined the conversation. The mechanical translator wrapped around his jaw reverberated his words to us as they unfurled in a chilling monotone, robotic voice that seemed it could come from Satan himself….if Satan was a robot…or something.
“Dost thou speak? Thou who hast convinced those of this universe that it was he who subdued the almighty Xanthok?”
“Yes, indeed!” laughed Quinzar. “You had the whole universe fooled, didn’t you, Captain Michael? But the truth is that it was not you who defeated Xanthok all those years ago, was it? It was the assassin known as “The Hand” that came to your aid and captured Xanthok. Then he disappeared before your battalion joined back with you and you took the credit! Poor form indeed, old man!”
The Captain hung his head.
“Is this true?” asked Sasha, knowing full-well that Zetans never lie. Her only hope was that the half-human part of Quinzar might be shining its way through.
But it wasn’t.
“It’s all true,” said the Captain. “I lied about it all. I was rescued by the Hand…”
The PR rep threw her hands in the air, “Juuuust great…”
A heavy silence fell over the crew, myself included, as all the faith we had put in this man as leader, as a soldier, as a role model for good in the universe…crumbled with the foundation that it was built upon. We forgave him for his drug use, his womanizing, blowing up moons and all the other crazy headlines in which his name appeared because it was him who single-handily took on and defeated the Dragimian Emperor. But it wasn’t him. And he said it was.
Quinzar Ali salivated at his victory. “Once you have been beamed onto cargo bay, you will be arrested. Any resistance would be highly illogical. Quinzar–out!”
They’ll be coming for us anytime now. I managed to get back to my room to record this final entry. I hope, somehow, this gets back to the people of Earth so that they may learn the truth about Captain Michael’s “heroic” past. For now, I remain scared, wishing that Nancy was here, wishing we could stop our fighting and hold each other once again. I could deal with all the things about her I hated….I just want someone to hold. I miss the Earth so bad, I miss my wife. It’s lonely out in space.
In all of this drama, one thing has made me laugh. The Captain’s nephew, Bobby, has decided that he would like to be interviewed after all. He says he wants to die with a clean soul. I reminded him that I was not a priest, nor was the interview meant to be any sort of confession…I still don’t think he understands. He’s in luck though. I have decided to smuggle another one of my miniature recorders along with me when we are apprehended. I suppose it’s the reporter in me…Even in the face of certain death, I’m still searching for the big story.
Jonas Harper, Shirt Microphone 2 Transcript Feed, Space Date: November 7, 2316
Bobby: Is it on?
Jonas: Yes, I’ve just switched it on.
Bobby: Does it smell like poo?
Jonas: No…a little.
Bobby: So…what are you gonna ask me?
Jonas: I’m not sure. This isn’t exactly the ideal situation for an interview; what, with all of us locked in this dirty cell below the ship, waiting to be executed…its kind of hard to organize my thoughts.
Bobby: Aw, c’mon dude. You said you would. Don’t be all bummed cause you found out my uncle is full of shit. I’ve been dealing with that my whole life.
Jonas: Have you?
Bobby: Look, he’s always talking about how he took me under his wing with this job and I’m ungrateful and all that…but he has had his whole life handed to him. I don’t think he’s ever really worked a day in his life. Who is he to give me shit?
Jonas: To be clear, I’m more upset that I’m about to die than anything. But please, tell me, what do you mean when you say his whole life has been handed to him?
Bobby: Oh, don’t be such a twat! We’re not going to die. We’re always getting into some epic battle or being seconds from death. Pretty much every week, it seems. But it always works out somehow. And what I meant was, the only reason Uncle Mike got into Space Core in the first place was because of my grandpa. Same with the Federation.
Jonas: The Captain said he passed his entry test with flying colors.
Bobby: Captain says a lot of things, usually all bullshit. Just like his promotion to Captain. The only reason he got it was because everyone thought he bagged Xanthok alone. Yeah, right. Xanthok is a beast; Uncle Mike is a pussy. Only a badass like the Hand could stop Xanthok. Man, the Hand is so fucking cool. But see? That’s what I’m saying. I would make a way better Captain. I didn’t have shit handed to me. My dad worked in demolition and my mom was a teacher. My last name was fucking Gizowitz! I heard it all, man! Giz-on-tits, or Giz-ow-its-in-my-eye. Man, my ass got beat more in grade school than any of these four-armed fish freaks could ever do to me.
Jonas: So, you’re not scared?
Bobby: Fuck, no. Thug life, motherfucker.
Kort: There is a guard approaching…
Sasha: They’re going to kill us…
Bobby: Okay, now I’m fucking scared. We’re gonna fucking die, man! Holy shit! I can’t die! I’m a virgin, man!
Captain Williams: Though I can assure you that is very embarrassing, you need not fear for I, Captain Williams of the Galaxy S-6, will save you!
Captain Michael: Oh, shut up, Bill! You’re just as screwed as the rest of us!
Jonas: There seems to be a lot of tension between them.
Bobby: Yeah, Uncle Mike is pretty butt-hurt. He thought he was going to get the Galaxy S-6. He blows up a fucking moon and thought that he was going to be appointed Captain of S-6. He also has this thing, which my mom tells me all men in the Michael bloodline have, where they think a man with two first names is a sign of greatness. Now, in comes Bill Williams over here; he’s younger, successful, praised by the public–he’s pretty much all the things that Uncle Mike wishes he still was…And he has two first names—that are the same name! So yeah, Uncle Mike don’t like. Anyway, you better turn off that recorder and shove it back up your butt. If Xanthok’s guards find that on you, you are fucked.
Jonas: Aren’t we headed to be executed right now, anyway?
Bobby: Yeah, well…There’s dying and then there’s dying, you understand?
Jonas Harper, Space Log: 011, Space Date: November 8, 2316
Wow…I can’t believe it. Bobby Gizowitz was right.
Despite certain death, we escaped the grasp of Xanthok and Quinzar. For the purpose of record, I must recount the details of our escape before they evade me…
As we were led into the chamber in which our executions were to take place, we were greeted by our two captors.
“The fabled Federation leaders, both young and old, brought to their knees by the wrath of Quinzar Ali!” laughed Quinzar. “And to make it even sweeter, they helped make it all happen by sending me to the very prison in which Xanthok was being held! How very illogical! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”
“Way to go, Captain Williams,” said Bobby, dripping with sarcasm. “Way to fuck us all over.”
All traces of courage and bravery within the young Captain had been replaced by the sulking pout of someone who was ill-prepared for the responsibilities of his rank.
“I’m sorry,” he sobbed. “How was I supposed to know?”
“Alas! The time of retribution is upon me!” Xanthok’s voice box spoke out. “The human who boasted of my capture now lies on his knees before me! What say you, human?”
“How can you be so evil?!” I protested. They had us beat and yet they pushed and pushed until they had us stripped of all dignity. I could not watch this anymore.
One of the guards standing behind me struck me in the head and pushed me to the floor. Then he kicked me hard in the gut and I rolled over on my side. I gasped, the wind knocked out of me.
When I looked up, Xanthok and his guards had suddenly started jerking about uncontrollably, just like Bok Bok had the day I interviewed the crew. I also felt that my butt had become loose again. Then I saw it. Blinking red beside Xanthok’s slimy, green foot was my recording device. It had fallen out when I was kicked and turned on somehow. I remembered what Sasha said about the frequencies of our technology being like nails on a chalkboard to them. She saw what had happened too and knew just the same as me the reason the Dragimians were losing control.
Seizing the moment, Sasha jumped to her feet and with a loud, “Hiya!”, gave one of the guards a powerful roundhouse kick that dropped him like a brick. Bobby caught on, turned around and dropped the other guard with a hard right hook between its shiny, black eyes.
I looked behind me and saw Captain Michael in combat with Quinzar Ali. He was losing bad. Quinzar was young, quick and fueled by hate, while the Captain’s old age and lack of physical fitness were getting the best of him.
I spun over and yelled at Captain Williams, “Help him!”
But he was paralyzed in fear, catatonic and rocking back and forth with tears in his eyes. I could not believe it. Say what you will about the morality of Captain Michael but at least he was trying. At least he wasn’t going down without a fight.
Around this time, I saw Xanthok heading for the recording device. Though his movement was slow and disorientated from the electromagnetic signals, he would surely get to it soon if not stopped quickly.
Just then, an air shaft above our heads opened. The gate went flying off its hinge and hit the floor with a sharp clank! I watched as a mysterious intruder dropped from the opening and landed gracefully on the balls of his feet, barely making a sound. The stranger wore a helmet that covered his face beneath a shaded visor, but it was clear by the looks on everyone’s faces that it was only me who had never seen this man before.
“It’s the Hand!” yelled Bobby.
That’s when I knew that I was in the presence of the legendary assassin himself. He had come, just as he did thirty years ago, to save the Captain once again. And there I stood with front row seats to it all.
His appearance, though, was much less than legendary. His chest and shoulder armor had been outdated for decades and, besides his purple and cream schemed helmet, was the only armor he wore on his body. Underneath that was a dirty, dishrag of a t-shirt, ripped department store jeans and sneakers, as if he could have been any one of the kids I would see standing in a circle, rapping in front of the convenience store at the end of my block. But he was black. No other species in the entire universe shares the skin tone of the African descendants of Earth. The Hand…is an Earthling!
We stood as spectators, our jaws hanging open as the battle between the Hand and Xanthok ensued. But, in his weakened state, the Dragimian Emperor was no match for the quick-handed assassin whose blows came fast, fierce and always directly on target.
It must have inspired the tired Captain Michael, for he began to fight back too. His defense became quicker and more focused. He threw his entire body weight into his punches and wore down his opponent blow by blow. Before long he had gained the high ground on Quinzar, exposing the true strength of the seasoned veteran.
When the two villains had been defeated, Captain Michael turned to the assassin and extended his hand. “Thank you,” he said. “I promise; this time I will give you your full credit.”
The Hand put his hand into the Captain’s. “Don’t,” he replied from under his mask. “I work better as a myth. No one comes looking for me.”
We watched as the Hand became engulfed in a beautiful blue illumination and then, in an instant…he was gone.
The young Captain Williams got to his feet and joined us. “We did it!” he said. “We stopped the evil forces!”
Sasha Banks rolled her eyes. “We? Honey, I don’t recall you doing a whole lot but rocking back and forth…”
“Yeah,” said Bobby. “Even I punched someone, you pussy.”
That made us all laugh. Everyone except for Captain Michael.
“Enough!” he ordered. His commanding tone demanded everyone’s attention and the laughing stopped. “Do not forget that I too lied about my bravery when I was young like Captain Williams. In many ways his cowardliness here tonight reminds me of my formal self. And if I can be the brave, victorious Captain that I am today, if I can taste my retribution and drink upon the tears of my enemies…well then, there is still hope for him as well, is there not?”
Captain Williams eyes became brighter. “Really? That…That means a lot. I’ve always really looked up to you…I guess I just acted so poorly toward you because I wanted to show you I was proud and headstrong—like you.”
“Do not give up,” said Captain Michael. “There is greatness in you yet. After all, you bare two first names. To be great is your birthright.”
Quinzar laughed from the floor. “This all means nothing!” he shouted out. “I will have my vengeance! Mark my words! The Federation will kneel before Quinzar in the end! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…..”
He laughed for quite sometime after that…
Anyway, my epic space adventure has come to a close. I’m now on my way back to the space station to return to cryo-sleep. I got my interview and have witnessed a moment in history that will not be soon forgotten. Now I will return to Earth to complete my “Where are they now?” feature on Captain Dan Michael.
I think the answer to that question is quite simple…protecting the fucking universe.