MOONJACK! Title Sequence

Then it happened. He should have expected it. It happened all the time. But somehow it always managed to sneak up on him.

The scanner blanked out briefly.

Then cut in with a shot of a Fleagle hanging above the lunar surface. Retros dead, it plummeted groundward. The ship hit the dirt amid a massive explosion, coughing up fire and moondust in a great cloud.

It was a blast from the past. Braun remembered the incident all too clearly. He should do: he was subjected to the playback practically every week.

Time distortion, Professor Burgerminge said.

But if that was the case, Commander Braun wanted to know why every time, without fail, it started with the flashback to that time he’d crashed Fleagle Nine in the Sea of Senility. (Not his fault: the things were almost impossible to fly with any proficiency, the cockpits suffering from the same size differential problems as everything around here.) But the Professor had no answer for that. Smart ass didn’t know everything.

Anyway, the ‘time distortion’ – if that was what it was – would always cut immediately from the crash to a rushed sequence of images – explosions and fisticuffs mostly, or weird aliens and intense reaction shots – most of which had, to Commander Braun’s knowledge, never happened. These invariably turned out to be flash forwards, glimpses of the future and Braun perhaps should have paid closer attention to them on the off-chance he could avert some of the events from happening. This quickfire montage hurled images of another Fleagle exploding, an effeminate alien with a swan-like head emerging through a fog of dry-ice, a big black shark-like ship, a massive firefight with huge ugly trollish aliens, another Fleagle exploding – or possibly the same one from a different angle, Tommy Verdigris – his second-in-command – wrestling a one-armed giant, one or two Moonbase buildings blowing up, and a woolly elephantine creature in oversized sunglasses driving one of the Moonbase buggies at high speed through an explosive barrage. None of which Braun was especially anxious to see come to pass.

But the sequence also included a flash of him full-on snogging Henna Russeau the medical officer and he had no desire to avert that. Best let destiny play its course.

Meanwhile, Braun also wondered why the time distortion had the habit of kick-starting one particular track from the station playlist. Some bombastic discofied over-dramatic theme that nobody here remembered downloading. For a time distortion that preferred to bombard them with visions of the future its musical tastes were very retro.

Act One

Commander Braun narrowed his eyes at the screen. Something was emerging through the swirling storm of lights. A black shadow, spreading like a cataract over the blue-green iris of the planet. Aftershock from the loss of Fleagle One died away, replaced by tangible menace.

Seriously, people of Moonbase! If you fail to save me, there will be terrible consequences!”

Now they were issuing threats! Braun couldn’t believe the nerve of these people. Crucially, it was becoming abundantly clear that they could back their threats up.

The black shadow was solidifying into a midnight-hulled battlecruiser. Totally alien in design, but if pressed Braun would have to admit that its hull was vaguely shark-like – and after all he had yet to encounter anything, be it ship or alien life form, that wasn’t in some respect vaguely like something from Earth. (Many of his moonbase crew were still in the habit of wheeling out tried and trusted exclamations such as, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it!’ and ‘It’s like nothing on earth!’. And if he had a dime for every time he’d had to correct them, well, he’d have a large coin collection that wasn’t really worth anything since the US dollar had probably been discontinued as negotiable currency long ago.) At least in this instance, the vessel’s shark-like qualities were only really recognisable when he tilted his head at a twenty-three degree angle, so that made it more alien than most. But it bristled with protuberances and protrusions so obviously designed to be interpreted as weapons by any culture that he had to assume its intentions were hostile. And it was looming larger and larger, blotting out the lights, smothering the blue-green world. Closing fast.

The frown exchange that had been passing around the command centre had given way to a brisk trade in wide-eyed stares.

“C-R-A-P!” declared Braun.

And everyone in Command Centre knew what he meant. Craft Rapidly Approaching Put-up-defences.

“All power to defensive screens!” Braun ordered.

“Aye, sir!” answered Maroon rather archaically.

Suddenly all the consoles and computer screens went dead and the command centre was consigned to darkness.

“Yes,” said Braun, doing a good job of chewing his teeth, “when I say ‘all’, I mean ‘all available’.” The lights and screens flickered back on, with a sheepish “Sorry, sir,” from Maroon. The command centre was filled with the hums of multiple terminals rebooting.

Braun clamped a hand on his face, so that he looked momentarily like he’d been attacked by one of those face-hugging creatures they’d run into some thirty years back. But rather than attempt to stick a progenitor down his throat and implant an alien embryo in his stomach, he only sought to massage away the slight stress headache he sensed developing.

Feeling only marginally better by the time the room was back to full illumination, he looked up at the main screen to find out just how much their predicament had worsened in the interim.

The monstrous warship, as well as looking more shark-like no matter which angle he looked at it, was looking much bigger.

Mayday! Mayday!” repeated the effete alien voice. “Lost your signal there for a minute, but I hope everything is okay. Because I still very much need your help!”

Whoever or whatever this was, Braun was resolved not to buy ice cream off them. And not to be tempted by anything they were selling, in fact. He stormed up to Sandy Beige’s comms console and leaned in over her, flicking the transmit switch.

“Now listen here – alien vessel.” Names were always tricky before introductions had been made. Braun was keen not to let the slightly awkward stumble undermine his authority, so he pressed on with undisguised animosity. “You fired on one of our Fleagles. You destroyed it and killed two of our crew. We are not, repeat not, under any circumstances, offering you protection.”

He considered adding, “Are you out of your tiny mind?” but given the numbers of aliens they’d met with oversized craniums the statistical probability of that being inaccurate was high. And he didn’t want inaccuracies creeping in to mess with the force of his argument.

But that wasn’t me!” protested the alien. “Take a close look at your screens. Take a really close look!”

Maroon looked to him, awaiting permission. Braun was reluctant to give the order, since zooming in would only make the large scary craft a great deal more intimidating. Morale would suffer. Still, there was the chance they were making a mistake here – they’d made a lot of them in the past, to be fair. “Very well,” he conceded. “Maroon, magnify that image.”

Maroon obeyed and the picture jumped in and in until the black of the now definitely shark-like hull filled the entire backdrop. But against that blackness, the minnow-like sliver of a much smaller craft could now be picked out. It was darting skittishly about in front of the larger ship, sometimes opening up a little distance before being pulled back as the monster bore down.

Braun half-expected the warship to open a shark-like mouth and expose a massive row of shark-like teeth. It didn’t, but occasionally some of the very weapon-like protuberances on its underside would pulse with star-like light and that would generally coincide with the little fish being sucked towards its pursuer.

“Some kind of tractor beams,” Braun theorised aloud.

“John, what shall we do? We have to help them.” Henna had appeared at his side.

Damn it, thought Braun. He already knew it was the right thing to do. He was a firm believer in morality and Henna was his external moral compass. In fact he had moral compasses up the wazoo and their needles pointed infallibly in the same direction. A small part of him always wondered why moral north so frequently landed them in the shit.

To Be Continued…

1 Comment

  1. […] Titles & Beginning of Act One: 2) Here. Amid ominous flashforwards, an alien visitor seeks […]

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