The doors slid aside and Doctor Forrester followed Colonel Stryker off the lift.
“I am truly impressed, Colonel, with your base. It is absolutely amazing what can be done with enough tax payer dollars!”
The stern faced Colonel just nodded.
“I understand now why you were so adamant that we keep our distance when we set up our own base here on the moon. And I must say,” he smiled, “that I’m rather surprised that you not only took us in, but have been so open and forthcoming. I have truly enjoyed this tour.”
Stryker, a head taller than Forrester, trim with a military crew cut and steel gray eyes said, without emotion, “Leaving you there to die when your base was damaged, didn’t seem to be the thing to do, Doctor Forrester.”
“No, I would hope not. Although, frankly, I would not have been surprised if you had. But I did expect the lot of us to be squirreled away in some storage room. This tour was so unexpected!”
“Hmmm…” Nodded Styker.
“Especially since you are obviously not happy about having my team and I here. But I assure you Colonel, your secrets are safe with me. I shall never speak of them with anyone.”
“That is quite true, Doctor.”
Doctor Forrester’s broad smile faded some, “Colonel, that sounds rather like a threat. Is there something you ought to tell me?”
“You won’t be able to tell anyone about our moon base because you won’t be leaving this base.”
The Doctor’s persistent smile disappeared as he eyed the Colonel, “Do you plan to murder us or hold us captive, Colonel?”
“Captive?” Asked Stryker, raising his eyebrows, “What would be the purpose in that? You’d be sucking in our air, consuming food and water and contributing nothing at all to the welfare of this base. No, doctor, prisoners – at least long term prisoners – are not a practical consideration.”
“So… it’s to be murder then?”
“If we wanted you and your team dead, Doctor, we would simply have left you in your facility to asphyxiate.”
Forrester’s heavy brows knitted as he blinked at Stryker, “What then… we can’t go, we can’t stay, you aren’t going to kill us. What’s left?”
“I never said you couldn’t stay, Doctor. I said it would be impractical to imprison you. But we have need of you as a member of our staff here at our base.”
Forrester’s jaw dropped and his left eye squinted down as it did when he was faced with something perplexing, “We are not military, Colonel. Quite the opposite in fact. ‘Radical eggheads’ I believe is what you called us when the Dalotek Corporation announced its plans to establish a mining settlement on the moon. We are a geological team. This is a defense base, what possible use could we be to you? “
“I can’t tell you that, Doctor, unless you agree to stay.”
“That’s very unhelpful.”
“I’m sorry, it’s the best I can do. And the offer is extended only to you. Your colleagues are ‘squirreled away in a storage room‘ awaiting an emergency transport to take them back to Earth.”
Forrester rubbed his face, his finger tracing along his cheekbone, wondering what he was missing. He had been trapped in a chamber apart from the others. It would have taken several hoppers to get his group to Moon Base, and he was transported alone, in the last hopper to leave. It was possible his staff did not know he was still alive. “And if I choose not to join you?”
Stryker scowled, “Then we report that we were unable to locate you in what’s left of your mining base, and we take you back.”
Forrester’s eyes went wide, “The base is fractured, I’d have only the air in my suit! You would be murdering me!”
“I would, Doctor, simply be returning you to the situation you created for yourself.”
Forrester stared at him, his thoughts racing in a confused jumble, but over it all was the resounding recollection of his often expressed refrain, ‘God I hate the military!’
~~/ * _ * ~~
My brain sneezed last night and expelled this bit of Sci-Fi sputum. It does that from time to time. I thought I’d post it here and ask my fiction writing friends to pick it apart. If I were to turn it into a short story, what needs fixing to make it a good lead-in to a short story that might be worth publishing?