I woke to the sound of the base alarms going off. The sound made my eyeballs jiggle in their sockets and made the rest of my body feel like jello. I scrambled to get out of my bunk and stood for a moment in my boxers trying to get my bearings. There was a chill in the air which meant that something was wrong. I reached out to turn the lights on and they flickered for a moment and then the fixture exploded with a loud pop. I flinched. I realized that there must be some sort of electrical problem. There were never electrical problems at Base Victor. It was close to a solar panel array and had state of the art energy storage.
I reached for the disk on my bedside table without having to look. It was nearly a year since I had started as a researcher at Base Victor, a forward research station on the moon over Arcturis. All of the little things had become easy through the routine. I slapped the disk against my chest and I closed my eyes as cloth spread over my body. The bodysuit would keep me warm with the malfunctioning climate systems. I immediately felt more prepared for the emergency. The cloth over my feet hardened into boots. I grabbed my jacket and walked out into the hallway and tried to get the jacket on as I ran toward somebody who could tell me what was happening.
Like its name might suggest, Base Victor was a lonely place. The highest number of staff members I had seen in the base was fifteen and that had been maybe one week before many of them were transferred. The base currently only had five staff members. It was divided up into different laboratories and offices that researchers took over and practically lived in. My office was set up with shelves and shelves of recently discovered books. We had already deciphered the alien language a few years ago and now I was trying to piece together the history of their civilization. I was starting by trying to sort books into fiction and non-fiction.
I stormed down the hallway toward the Command Action Center. It was the one common area beside the kitchens and it was supposed to be the nerve center of bases like this. Most days it was neglected but now I could guess that it had four people in it. Make that three, Holly turned the corner ahead of me and looked at me with an exasperated look in her eyes. She stomped toward me and I slowed my pace to a stop as she approached. In the flickering emergency lighting, her pink hair practically glowed.
“Where have you been?” She shouted.
“The alarms woke me up,” I shouted back. The alarm shut off so my next words still sounded loud even though I kept myself from shouting them. “I was up late reading a book of poetry.”
“We have an emergency,” Holly said as if they had been waiting for me.
“Can it be solved by reading more poetry?” I asked and I believe that Holly nearly slapped me. Her eyes narrowed and I shrugged. “What? I know nothing about engineering or science like you and Arif.”
“It’s some weird sort of ion storm. It is messing with most of our systems as you can see,” She said, releasing her anger visibly.
“Will we survive?” I asked. I was a little shaken knowing that our two scientists were not exactly sure what was happening yet.
“I think it will pass. Arif seems to agree,” She replied, leaning against the wall for the moment. She looked tired. It looked like she might have been up for hours already or maybe she had not gotten to sleep yet at all. There was always a danger of that out here, free from the conventions of the time cycles of normal society.
“Should we go back and check it out some more?” I asked.
“Only if you promise to lean against the wall and not touch anything. Can you promise that?” Holly asked. She had a smirk on her face that felt insulting. Well, sort of insulting. She was not in the wrong.
“I promise,” I said. “I’m curious what’s going on.”
“Come on then, poet,” Holly said. “Follow me.”
We walked back the way she had come to reach the Command Action Center. Arif was lounging in front of a console, not really working on the problem. He looked like he was deep in thought. He snapped to attention when Holly and I entered the room. I dutifully leaned against the wall with my hands behind my back. I may have smirked when I did it.
“There’s a strange build-up of ionic charge,” Arif said. He looked at me. “Before you ask, it’s strange because there’s little to no atmosphere out there. It’s almost like a lightning storm. It shouldn’t exist.”
“Maybe it just wants to exist,” I offered. I got looks for that comment.
“Holy shit, we’ve got incoming!” Holly yelled, rushing up to a console. Before I could ask what that meant, the base was raked with what looked like lightning. It was both terrifying and awe-inspiring and I pressed myself closer to the wall as if that would save me. Holly and Arif scrambled around trying to monitor the situation. I saw the emergency teleporter start to glow in the corner and even I knew it should not do that. Before I could alert them, it exploded.
We all hit the deck, our training kicking in. Thankfully nothing was breached and there was no explosive decompression. Instead, there was a glowing figure standing where the teleporter had been. As the glow faded away, I stood atop the rubble looking confused. Against the wall, I was confused too.