Chapter One: Lost
Part Two: Center Neptune
Disclaimer: Everybody here is the property of Sandy Franks, especially 7-Zark-7.
Somewhere in the Pacific, 1420 Hrs.
Paperwork wasn't Mark's least favorite part of his job but it came a close second. He was frowning in concentration over a weapons manifest when his desk monitor lit up with 7-Zark-7's silver and gold lack of face.
"Sorry to bother you, Commander, but have you seen Chief Anderson?"
"Not since the debriefing yesterday." he answered. "Why? is there a problem?"
"I'm afraid there might be" the computer co-ordinator admitted unhappily. "He's missed three appointments and a Federation Council meeting, and nobody seems to have seen him since yesterday afternoon."
Mark pushed his papers away. "That's not like the Chief." he said begining to feel twinges of worry. "Who saw him last?"
"The Flight Deck Duty Officer," Zark replied, "at approximately 1500 hours yesterday afternoon. Chief Anderson checked out a jet. He planned to fly himself to Capitol City for his meetings and stay there overnight. He should have been back two hours ago -"
"But he didn't make the meetings," Mark interupted, "maybe he didn't make it to Capitol City."
"A crash?" the brain-bot's voice went up an octave, he didn't quite wring his hands. "I'm afraid I never considered that possibility. there was no mayday and the Chief is an excellent pilot."
"You bet he is," Mark agreed. "taught Tiny and me everything we know, but even the best can get unlucky."
"Oh dear!" now Zark was wringing his four fingered metal hands, antenae drooping in distress, "I feel so remiss!"
"It's not your fault, Zark," Mark reassured him, fighting down his own apprehension. "You're supposed to monitor space, not the local air traffic. I'll fly the Chief's flight plan, see if I can spot anything." like wreckage.
The G1 skimmed low over the Pacific, overflying the occasional coral atoll. *A power failure?* Mark conjectured, *but that wouldn't effect the crashbeacon. No mayday, what could be so fast, so total he wouldn't have time to call for help or even eject his flight recorder? Spectra? Zoltar's still lurking somewhere on Earth but a Mecha, even fighters, would've been spotted. Besides, the Chief's good. Good enough to evade the few seconds he'd need to send out a warning. Maybe-* a metallic glint caught his eye admidst the jungle greenery of yet another atoll, then another, then a lot more.
"Oh God!" he breathed, wreckage, enough for a small jet.
Mark stood beside Jason in the middle of the debris field watching as Princess, pale and controlled, scanned for organic remains for the Chief's body. Keyop and Tiny were some distance away, backtracking the crash trail. The older members of the Team had agreed the youngster shouldn't see whatever the accident had left of their mentor.
Suddenly Princess snapped off the scanner, came to stand visor to visor with Mark. "Negative." she reported. "He's not here, he wasn't on the plane when it crashed."
He pulled her to him, felt her shaking with relief in his arms as the sick knot in his stomach unravelled. The Chief was alive, their guardian, the closest thing any of them had to a father, hadn't died on this crummy little island after all.
"The ejector seat's still here." Jason said abruptly, they broke apart to stare at him. "So's the emergency parachute. How'd he get off?"
Then Keyop was racing towards them, throwing himself into Princess's arms, tearful and incoherent clutching something tightly in one red gloved hand. "Glasses!" he sobbed, between hoots and twitters, "found them, his glasses!"
"It's okay, Keyop, he wasn't on the plane, he got off before the crash." Princess soothed, hugging her 'little brother'.
Tiny, jogging up in Keyop's wake, caught the last part, looked a hopeful question at Mark. the Commander nodded.
"It's true, he's not here, somehow he got off in time."
"But how?" asked Jason.
"Teleportation!" the members of G-Force chorused in varying tones of incredulity.
7-Zark-7 looked out of the Phoenix's monitor screen, apologetic but firm. "It was the only possible answer. I scanned for photonic energy remains and there is a particle trail intercepting the Chief's course."
"Good enough for me." Mark decided. "So this trail'll lead us right to wherever they've taken him?"
"It should. Please be careful, Team, Zoltar would undoubtedly prefer Chief Anderson alive but if he realizes rescue is at hand -"
"He may kill him." Mark finished grimly. "Don't worry, Zark, we'll watch it." After the brain-bot signed off, the Commander added quietly, "We're not going to risk loosing him again."