The low beeping of an incoming video-call jolted him out of his doze. He tumbled up from his relaxing chair, reaching for his notebook. He switched the ‘accept’-button, but the screen remained dark. “Yes?”
A swish-like atmospheric noise answered him. Then a whispering voice.
“Hello… is it… you?”
He cocked his eyebrow. “Depends on whom you expect. And who are you?”
“No names please.” Static in the connection, then the voice spoke again. “Code eight-two-two. Understood?”
He breathed in. Code eight-two-two. Of course he knew this code. During his training at SHADO when they made him commander of Moonbase, they had briefed him in a handful of secret codes, only known by the leading staff of the organisation. Codes for severe incidents or in case of assumed espionage. And eight-two-two stood for treason.
“I do.” He paused for some seconds, not sure about what the caller was after. “Go on. How can I help?”
This time the answer came faster, almost panting. “Okay. Eight-two-two. I’m using a low-frequency connection they can’t locate. Hopefully. Remember mission ‘red-duck’ five months ago?”
Yes, he remembered ‘red-duck’, the mission when his Interceptor pilots had been attacked by three alien ships who had hidden behind some space debris. One of the pilots had lost his life because of a malfunction of his rocket. Robert Durham. The second man who had been killed in action under his command. Of course he remembered, would do forever.
His thoughts returned to the person on the phone. The voice was male, with an almost inaudible touch of French, identifying him as the Interceptor squadronleader and second-in-command of the base. With Andy Conroy and Steve Minto the best fighter team they ever had.
“I remember. Robert’s accident. And who you are. Go on.”
“Listen, I’m in the installation hall. I’ve found clear proof that the rocket was manipulated. Bob lost his life because someone changed the wiring in the weaponry. And there’s more to it than that. There must be other traitors. I’ve hacked into the system. Here’s a plan of the rooms where they’ve hidden bugging devices, even in our recreation sphere. And that … Hell, they’ve found me...”
A stifling cry, a bump as if the other had dropped the phone, the hissing of the air lock. Silence. He strained to listen, to understand what was happening. His black eyes stared to the wall of his cabin where he had pinned pictures of the Interceptors and the crew. One showed his comrade, a tall and slender man, the auburn head of hair a glaring contrast to the purple wig of the Moonbase girl and his own black curls.
“Lieutenant, do you read me? Are you okay?”
No one answered. He rushed to the cabin door and hit on the emergency button.
“This is the commander speaking. Internal red alert. Code eight-two-two.”
I wrote this story for a challenge by Lightcudder: "A conversation between two characters. No names can be mentioned, but it must be made clear (at some stage) who is talking and where the characters are."
By the way: the first man is Moonbase Commander Mark Bradley and the second pilot Lt. Jim Regan.
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