The new suits worked flawlessly, form fitting and streamlined it was almost as if I was wearing a simple jumpsuit, I flexed the armored glove thinking about the first spacesuits, I had one in my office back at base, a museum quality relic.
"Once there was a way to get back homeward, Once there was a way to get back home, sleep pretty darling" I sang to myself as I trudged across the lunar surface.
"Im sorry sir?" My comm chirped, Alice, or actually A.l.i.c.e. Automated Logic Intelligence Computer Engram, had picked up on my singing to myself.
"Nothing Alice, just passing the time while I inspect the outside of the drill" I said as I looked up at the massive mobile drilling platform.
"Sir I can stream music through to you if you wish? Perhaps Golden Slumbers, recorded by The Beatles on july 2 1969 for their album Abbey Road..." Alice said, before I cut her off.
"No thanks Alice, How about you just give me the status report?" I said as I reached the first main tread for the drilling platform, looking it over for damage.
"Of course sir. Station One reports a random fluctuation in power, it has yet to effect output or efficiency of ore processing." Alice said.
"cheap bastard." I muttered.
"Sorry sir?" Alice asked.
"Oh nothing its just Jason, he has been trying to squeeze as much output from his HE3 generators, hes holding off on replacing the filters to save on budget, thats what is causing the fluctuations. Alice Draft a memo to that station, tell them to replace them now or ill go over and do it for them." I said as I scraped a chunk of rock out of the giant tread using the suits enhanced strength to break it with my hands.
"Of course sir. Station Two Reports all systems nominal." Alice said.
"Good good, tell Iris good job, but watch the friction on the drills, I noticed they are going through them at a higher rate than any of the other stations." I said while moving on to another set of treads.
"I will pass that on sir, Station Three reports a higher consumption of water on a number of their green houses, Commander Sheridan suggest its due to the rise in solar flair activity, the increase in solar rays has caused more evaporation than normal, She request an increase on their allotment of water. She also left a side note stating her concern for what she calls "The commanders continuing need to put himself in harms way for no reason" She told me to state it exactly like that..." Alice said.
I laughed out loud for a second.
"Increase their allotment Alice, and tell Shannon I will take that under consideration." I said.
"I will sir, but she does have a point, you should assign these inspections to a lower ranking officer Sir" Alice said.
I stopped at that, looking down from the tread I was inspecting.
"Alice, Im touched, is that concern?" I asked
"Of course Sir, it is my primary mission to insure the safety of members of the lunar bases, and as you are in charge your loss would place them all at risk, as well as have a negative impact on moral." She said
"Of course Alice." I said.
"And besides Sir, who else would replace you at our weekly game of chess?" Alice said.
I laughed again.
"Im sure Ivan would gladly take over for me on that." I said.
"Ivan is still teaching me the finer points of chess to increase the efficiency of which I best you Sir." Alice said.
"Ah conspiring with the enemy? Im telling you Alice I could just upload a program for you" I said
Ivan was my counter part charge of the Joint Russian/Chinese lunar stations on the southern hemisphere, where I was in charge of the U.S./European union stations.
"Sir you have stated on numerous occasions that Ivan was not our enemy, and Sir that would not be fair, I would rather learn this way" Alice said.
I frowned at that but nodded.
"Of course Alice and I was just kidding about Ivan, you may continue the report." I said
"Station 4 reports all systems nominal." Alice said.
"Okay, tell Glen good job and to keep up the good work." I said.
"Station 5 reports a 14% drop in output of drinkable water, unknown as to the reason why" Alice said.
"Tell Jen to keep an eye on that, if it continues for the next few days they will have to shut down for full inspection." I said
And so it went for the next several minutes, report after report as I looked over all the treads on the mobile platform, Being in charge of a fully self contained lunar operation was not as fun as it sounded, by the time I finished and heading back to my rover I was exhausted from cleaning and inspecting all 22 treads on the giant platform as well as from giving out memos to all the 16 bases on the moon that fell under my command.
"Sir priority alert from sat comm, meteorites have just been detected in your sector, they just passed the outer perimeter, multiple contacts incoming." Alice said.
"Can the sat defense grid take them out?" I asked.
"Sir they are to small" Alice said.
"Shit how long till impact?" I asked diving under the nearest tread, I looked off in the distance to my rover about 100 yards away wondering if I could make it.
"45 seconds sir." Alice said.
"Shit ill have to hunker down here until the all clear." I said.
"Well sir this gives you a chance to see how the new armor on the spacesuits performs." Alice said.
"Always the optimist Alice." I said as I curled up under the giant tread, trying to make myself as small as possible.
Twenty minutes later I sat back in the rovers chair, punching in the command to take me back to Alpha Base. Tired and sweaty, only a few meteorites had even come near me all microscopic from what the impact sensors on the suit picked up, I let Alice drive me back to base, it was a several hour trip as the Mobile Drill was far out into the dark side of the moon and several hundred miles from the nearest base.
"You know sir I would have been interested in seeing the results of a direct impact to the new suit." Alice said over the rovers speaker.
"Im sure you would Alice but I am less interested in being a human test dummy" I said.
"Sir the specifications show very favorable statistics for impact survivability." Alice said.
"Oh well next time I will be sure to stay out in the open." I said.
"I thought you where open to taking risk sir, as Commander Sheridan stated." Alice said.
"Haha, there is a difference in doing my fair share and taking risk like that, she knows that." I said.
"Im sure she does Sir, but her concerns are valid." Alice said.
"Alice I get it enough from the higher ups and Commander Sheridan, I don't need you joining the bandwagon." I said.
"Of course Sir." Alice said.
I shut the rovers headlights off, Alice would navigate using the satellite feed and the rovers own radar. I watched the lunar landscape through the canopy of the rover, it always amazed me the view of the stars from the dark side of the moon, I let myself fall asleep to the gentle thrum from the rovers engines.
I was on the alpha base in my bunk, my wife was standing in the doorway watching me, I sat up startled, no it couldn't be my wife she had died years ago.
"You need to come with me Jake." She said arms crossed, a look of concern on her face.
"Glory?" I said sitting up.
"Jake you need to come with me." She said turning from the doorway and walking away.
I jumped out of my bunk following her, I could not catch up to her, she led me through the base, no matter what she always seemed to be just ahead of me and out of reach, I rounded a corner to see her enter the airlock, my eyes widened as it cycled.
"No!" I said running toward it.
I got to it but couldn't get it to open, I ran toward the near by port just in time to see a flash, the entire base shook and I fell to the floor.
"Alice?!" I yelled as alarms started blaring.
I looked up to see the atmosphere begin to be pulled out of this section, I ran toward the bulkhead to seal off the section, before I could there was an explosion, I looked up suddenly I was in another section of the base watching as fire spread through the station, I saw that my crew was burning alive.
"Alice status?" I Screamed running toward the hatch to seal the corridor.
The hatch sealed, I could hear something pounding on the door from the other side as fire engulfed it, soon the sound died out.
"Alice status?" I Coughed
"Sir ... have lost contact with bases 1,2,4,5,6,8,9,11, All other bases report incoming missiles." Alice said.
"Oh god." I Said
I saw a flash from the port observation window, in the distance I could see a mushroom cloud rising from the lunar surface.
"Sir, missile detected incoming" Alice said.
I ran toward the nearest console.
"Alice deploy countermeasures." I said.
"Im sorry sir the last missile disabled our defenses." Alice said.
"How long before impact Alice?" I asked sensing a feeling of Deja'vu.
"Sir 1:30" Alice said.
"Incoming transmission Sir" Alice said.
I looked down on the console, Shannon's image appeared on the screen, she was crying.
"Jake ... have you seen earth?!" She said panic laced throughout her voice.
"What? Shannon we have more important things to worry about right now." I said wondering what she was talking about.
"I know the missiles, we have one incoming in 3minutes, but Earth Jake!" She said the panic rising in her voice.
"What?! What about Earth?" I said confused.
"Its burning, I know you cant see it from there but we have a view of it." She said, she typed something off screen.
The image changed to that of Earth, but not the earth I remembered, the surface was covered with fire, I could see hundreds of mushroom clouds dotting the surface, the entire planet looked to be on fire.