Daniella says: OK, guys, I have a problem with “Magnetic attraction”. I work in a rather hierarchical environment, where, even if you have issues with your superior, you don't say “I'm in command here” to his face, unless you want a whole load of trouble coming your way. So how did Jason get away with it? This is my take, from Jason's POV.
Anderson looked more frustrated than usual when he called us in for the pre-mission briefing. And he wasn't being particularly helpful with the info.
“That's it. We don't know what it is, or how to destroy it”.
We were looking at a big black sphere on the screen, which, to be honest, didn't look like anything we had been up against before. Of course, ISO technology was supposed to help us out, but they also seemed to be in a bind. Tiny was the first one to break the uncomfortable silence.
“Just give us a crack at it, Chief!”
I seconded the big man.
“Been a while since we had trouble from Zoltar and his bunch of pirates from Spectra”.
“We're not sure it's Spectra, but the UFO appears to be impregnable against our defensive weapons”.
There goes my faith in ISO weaponry also...
“An indestructible black ball!” Princess summed it up.
“Probably from some distance enemy star system”, added Anderson. As if Spectra was not enough.
“Where?” enquired Princess.
“It slipped by our early warning system”, admitted Anderson.
OK, there goes my faith in ISO early warning systems...
“Fast ball!” chimed in Keyop.
“You want us to take a crack at it, Chief?” asked Princess. Hey, that's my line!
Anderson's reply threw me off.
“That's up to your Commander to decide”.
OK, that shouldn't be too difficult. But Mark's reply also threw me.
“No, I don't think so. I'm sorry”.
“I understand”, said Anderson. Nice of him. But I wasn't having it.
“Well, I don't! It's not like you to chicken out in an emergency like this, Mark!”
I know it's bad policy to call your Commander chicken in front of everyone, but sometimes I have a big mouth. Mark is usually cool with it.
“I wanna know what we're up against first”.
“And what do we do in the meantime?”, I asked, perhaps again not so politely. “Let it destroy our cities? Let's go after that space invader!”. I looked eagerly at the others.
“No! As long as I'm in command we keep the Phoenix grounded and ready!” snapped Mark.
Princess would take his side, of course.
“Sorry, Jason, I vote with Mark!”
“Me too!” added Keyop.
“Double check!” This from Tiny. Well, thanks a lot, guys!
“Well, Jason?” Mark said challengingly.
“No way!” I sputtered – not the most brilliant reply, I'll give you that, but the only one I could make at the time.
Anderson looked up from his monitors.
“Hold it! We're faced with an extreme emergency. The Federation will decide!”.
Great, and could you please do it this century?
We were lounging around our ready room once again, twiddling our thumbs. Even Tiny was depressed.
“You know, I think for once I had my fill of space burgers. This sitting around waiting kills my appetite”, he said, to the room at large.
“Nothing we can do about it, Tiny. Zark is up in his tower, burning up his circuits, trying to find an answer”, said Princess.
Great, and did I already comment that it would be better to do it this century?
Keyop looked around.
“Gone down to the ocean”, replied Tiny. “To meditate, he said”.
Zark appeared on our screen.
“Attention, G- Force! I have a red alert! I finally located the UFO, just off the coast. Your mission now is to track down and destroy”.
“But what about Mark?” asks Princess.
“Call him in, Princess”, says Zark reasonably, and disappears from the screen.
We got to the Phoenix, launched and Princess called Mark on the wrist communicator.
“Ears on!” we heard his reply.
“Zark located it. We're going after this space intruder, Mark”.
His reaction was instant.
“I didn't give that order yet, Princess!”
Princess would not enter into a discussion about it.
“Pick you up in ten minutes, Mark”.
As soon as he got on the Phoenix, Mark looked at me angrily.
“Who countermanded my orders?”
“Zark, and the Chief, and the Federation. It's our job, Mark. And that's what we're all trained and organised for!”.
This time, I had the others on my side.
“Not spectators!” said Keyop.
“Sure, but what are we going to stop it with?”, asked Mark – ok, this was a reasonable question. “Our bare hands? Even our new missiles won't put a dent in it!”
I wasn't giving in so easily.
“I'd like to give it a couple of good tries!”
“He's right!” said Princess. Wow, this was definitely an improvement.
“There it is!” said Tiny.
We looked at the screen. The big black ball was approaching a ship.
“That ship may be in danger. Let's knock that black ball out of the park!” I got to my rocket launcher.
“What now?” asked Keyop.
“Mark?” added Princess, looking at him.
“We're turning back. Nothing we can do here”.
We're doing what?
“No go, Mark”, I said angrily. “I'm in command now!”
The moment these words leave my mouth, I regret it. I may be impetuous, but I've never staged a mutiny before. Nor do I want to. I check the monitors, especially our channel to Centre Neptune. It's switched off. Only the team has heard my big fat pronouncement to be in command. Well, I will not tell Anderson if they don't...
But our troubles were only beginning. Anderson hadn't heard me saying I'm command, but someone else apparently had. Zoltar appeared on our screen.
“Good morning, G-Force! Do I detect strife and dissension in your ranks?”
I could feel my cheeks burning with shame and frustration.
“All we needed!” quipped Keyop.
“Come now, Commander. Surely G-Force is not afraid of a metallic sphere from outer space! I dare you to try to destroy it! I dare you! I dare you!”
Zoltar laughs and is gone. Creep. I, for one, am ready to take him up on his dare.
A submarine appears on the screen. I turn to Tiny.
“Let's go, Tiny! Take her down!”
“No!” shouts Mark.
Tiny looks up.
“We're not taking the bait!” says Mark calmly.
I cannot hold back, I cannot let the UFO continue its attacks.
“I'm giving the orders!” I tell Tiny.
“Turn back!” Mark orders Tiny.
Tiny is in a difficult position, I understand that. He looks around undecided.
“That's exactly what Zoltar wants us to do, Jason! We play his game and we lose! It's up to you, Tiny!” says Mark. Tiny heaves a sigh of relief.
He pulls us away.
“There must be some way”, says Mark thoughtfully.
The details of what happened afterwards I heard from Princess and Keyop. They had gone to visit Mark in his digs, despite his express desire to be left alone. Princess was trying to cheer him up, and Keyop had brought him a trinket he had gotten from Zark, a little magnet and little ball that was drawn to it. This was what did the trick, and Mark found a solution for us to combat the invader. A giant magnet was hastily assembled, and now all we had to do was make the big black ball go towards it. Zark notified us that that space invader had been spotted, so we took off to intercept it.
“Remember, keep all weapons systems closed”, Mark reminded us aboard the Phoenix. “Tiny, we'll keep buzzing that thing, until I give the word to disengage”.
“Hey...watch me fly rings around it, Commander!”
Once again Zoltar appeared on the screen.
“Got company”, Keyop warned us.
“So you finally came out of hiding, earthlings! You have fallen into my trap, G-Force! Just as I planned! And now I have a surprise for you. A deadly surprise!” he laughed his ugly laugh and is gone.
“We'll see who gets the surprise”, I mutter.
“You're on, Tiny!” says Mark. “Time to do your thing!”
We flew around the big black ball, trying to lead it towards the magnet. However, it would not oblige.
“It's turned back”, said Princess, disappointed.
“Smelled a rat”, added Keyop.
“We have to get that thing turned around somehow! And there's only one way to do it!”
I feel a sudden chill hearing those words.
“You mean, get inside that thing?”
“Know other way, Jason?” asks Mark sarcastically. And the problem is, I have no answer.
“That's plain suicide, Mark!” says Princess in despair, while Keyop stutters.
“It's our only chance to stop Zoltar!”, says Mark clearly. “Someone has to do it!”
I open my mouth to volunteer, but Princess is quicker.
I open my mouth again, to say that what she's asking is impossible, I should be the one to go, but this time, Mark gets there first.
“Thanks, Princess, but I'm still in charge here!”
I don't know if this was meant to be a jibe at me. I take it as not, again feeling a burning shame. There's only one thing for me to do, and to do it gracefully. I turn to the Commander.
“You always have been, Mark!”
We shake hands and it's as if everything is forgotten.
Mark executes a perfect jump on one of the sphere's arms, and disappears inside. Now we just have to wait.
“Ahhh...Mark did it!” says Keyop.
Princess open our channel to Centre Neptune.
“Get ready, Chief. Mark's bringing the ball in. Should be in range soon”.
Anderson's voice comes over the intercom.
“Thanks, Princess. Power! Magnetic attraction!”
We watch as the ball indeed moves towards the magnet, but we don't see Mark anywhere, so we assume he's still inside. Suddenly it's hard to watch. Princess is the first one to speak.
“Mark! He's going down with it!” she says in anguish, and Keyop starts crying.
“Bail out!” he says.
By the time we land the Phoenix next to the ball, which is now lying on the ground, I'm nearly in tears myself. Princess and Keyop are crying and calling out for Mark. I am numb, I don't know what to say.
“I can't believe Mark's gone”, I managed to stammer.
Tiny's voice makes us all look up.
We look at where he's pointing. It's definitely a birdstyle, so that means...
“Oh it's Mark! It's Mark!” says Princess jubilantly. We all breathe a sigh of relief. Mark may be annoying sometimes, but he's the best Commander we've got. And even I will admit it.
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