Sequel to Last Starfighter Movie. Concept Story
It has been twenty-years years since Alex and Maggie had thundered off into the stars from Starlight Star bright Trailer Park, when Alex had returned to Earth to land in his Gunstar to pick up Maggie. He and Grig had just won the battle against the Kodan, and had stood beside their Gunstar, a few hours ago, with Ambassador Enduran and Centauri as they stared down at the crowd of celebrating Rylans for victory.
Five years after they had left, however, there was a surprise.
As Alex sat in the office, as soon as he arrived, had overseen the mass production of Gun Stars in three shifts and began the search for candidates that would operate these ships. As the candidates came in he worked long hours to train them with Grig and brought them quickly up to a crash course speed, quickly mounting to have a defense for Rylos if the Kodan mounted a new offensive. Every night he held Maggie in his arms and Alex peered in her eyes, as they laughed and she talked about the new position in Headquarters she was training for, and they made love often, both in love and glad to be with each other. Both did not know of a drastic change that would change their lives however, that Maggie was a month pregnant with twins, and Alex was the father.
When she did not feel well and she had found out in the Rylos Command Sick bay, her astonishment could be heard down the hall as she read the report.
“Are you sure doctor?”
“There is absolutely no doubt, for human physiology.” He said, and chortled at her look, as she read it several times. “Twins, Are you sure?”
He smiled, seeing her astonishment.
“What’s the matter Ms. Gordon,” He said, “They are very healthy and strong at this point.”
There was laughter as Maggie glanced at the expression on Alex’s bemused face. He was totally not expecting this, to be a father so young. Maggie mock glared at him and he grimaced as he shrank back.
She smiled at his reaction and began to laugh, reaching out to motion to him, as she embraced him warmly.
“God I love you Alex.” She told him and hey held each other starting into each other’s eyes.
But that was now twenty-years ago and a lot had changed: Kyle is the son of Alex and Maggie, and his sister, his twin both born on Rylos. They both had joined the Star League when they were eighteen, both in their early twenties now. He is the spitting image of Alex, brownish blond hair, slender, but stocky with blue eyes and the square jaw of his father. He now was in charge of continuing to rebuild and do the work that Alex had started to do before his death, rebuild the Star League.
“This isn’t going to be easy.” He muttered, as he glanced over a set of forms on the desk, and reaching out with a shaking hand, pushed the report aside before turning to the cabinet in his father’s office. Kyle pulled out a glass and poured a reddish liquid from the strange bottle into it. Corking the bottle, he took a belt of the alcoholic beverage that was strong, burning the back of his throat.
“Doggone, this isn’t going to be an easy funeral either.” He thought, “I have to contact Grandma and tell her. She’s going to be a bit pissed.”
“Drinking won’t bring them back Kyle.” A voice said, and turning he glanced at the door blearily, staring at Lewis Rogan, his uncle, clad in the same brown tan uniform trimmed in dark brown. On his arm is the squadron patch of sector two where he had been assigned, having the gift and eventually being recruited to the Star League too. His hair was the same brown, sprinkled with the first hints of gray in it, and sporting a thick Vandyke beard and heavyset slightly despite being in his early thirties now. Beside him, Kyle’s sister, Amanda stood with their uncle. She wore a white uniform skirt and the uniform top, trimmed in blue. She had the long hair that draped to her back, a mass of heavy curls, the round face and the face of Maggie Gordon-Rogan their mother.
He glanced at the clock on the wall of his office.
“Ah, is it time yet?”
“Yeah, we need to go.” Amanda told him and he grabbed the report and handed it to Lewis.
“I finished the report.” He said, “Best someone hand-carries it to Ambassador Enduran.”
“He is expecting it.” He said, and Lewis grimaced at the smell of booze on Kyle’s breath.
“I really don’t ever want to see you drinking like that again Kyle.” He said, “Your father would not have allowed it, or your mother, and I won’t either.”
“Yeah well better to kill a few brain cells for a few hours,” muttered Kyle, and he met Amanda’s disgusted look.
“Mom and dad are gone, and there is nothing you could have done differently.”
“Perhaps,” Kyle thought, and exited with Amanda and Lewis.
Lewis as he walked to the grave sight stood staring at the solemn open graves, and the coffins that held the bodies of Grig, and their mother and father stood on the suspensor beams that held them. Their duty was clear and what they had to do here today. They walked toward the site and they glanced at the Ambassador who had stood here with his aide.
“Darn.” Amanda grumbled, her eyes tearing up seeing the coffins.
Lewis however was thinking back a long time ago, when he was about twelve, and when Alex had act screwy (not knowing of the beta robot), remembering the head on the desk as the body worked on his ear. The odd behavior his older brother was exhibiting before his odd, abrupt disappearance with no word and Maggie had walked back to the park from Silver Lake. He had watched her through his window, as she was deep in thought, distracted as she had seen Beta Alex crash Jack blade’s truck into the sinister space pod-like ship and the truck and the ship disappearing in a ball of flames.
It was cold out. Or maybe it wasn’t, but it felt chilly to Maggie. She sat on the edge of the porch that ran across the front of the general store.
Where are you Alex? Too far away for me to imagine? That’s what the machine that looked like you said. Where is that? I don’t even know what part of the sky to look at.
“Alex?” another voice called out.
A light breeze stirred the dust in front of the store. A hunting spider scrambled across the open space, searching for some unfortunate arthropod smaller than itself.
“Alex?” the voice called again, a note of concern attached to it now. That was Mrs. Rogan. How much should she be told? The Beta Unit hadn’t forced and guidelines on Maggie, had told her to use her own judgment. It was her world, her people. Her life.
She rose. It was time for Alex’s mother, at least, to learn the truth. Mrs. Rogan might throw her and her incredible story out of the trailer, but she felt bound to try. She patted Mr. President and left.
Behind her: lights, sounds, movement familiar and yet different. The videogame on the porch was going gently berserk, humming and flashing, vibrating on its levelers. Maggie did not see, concentrating on how she’d tell Mrs. Rogan.
Just as she didn’t see the old weathervane atop the store, begin to spin wildly, even though there was hardly any wind. It picked up speed, soon was rotating fast enough to be little more than a blur in the night.
Between the trailers Maggie paused, thoughtful. Granny was leaning out of a window nearby, a thick cigar smoking between her fingers.
“Granny have you seen Alex?”
“Can’t say as I have. That boy’s been kind of scarse here lately.” She gestured with the stogie. “You’re not the only one lookin’ for him, neither.”
“I heard Mrs. Rogan.”
“She ain’t the only one.”
Figures appeared, exiting the Rogan trailer and walking toward Maggie. She recognized several of her friends along with Mrs. Rogan, and one non-friend; Jack Blake. She stood and waited for them.
“You want to know where Alex is?” Blake was saying as soon as he spotted her, “Ask Maggie. She knows. She was with him when he stole my pickup.”
“He did not steal it.” Maggie shot back angrily. “He borrowed it.”
“Yeah?” Blake was snarling at her, not the least bit affectionate now. More important things were at stake.
“Then where is it?”
Maggie thought back to the wild chase in the truck and the robot’s little surprise box under the dash and the incinerating heat when the pickup had smashed into the alien assassin’s ship and said nothing.
“Maggie.” Mrs. Rogan asked in a gentle but no-nonsense voice, “Where’s Alex?”
“Where’s my truck!” Blake yelled, without giving her a chance to reply. “Were’s your boyfriend?”
Maggie ignored him, wondering that she could ever have found him even slightly attractive, and kept a lid on her temper as she spoke to Mrs. Rogan. It was apparent that no one was going to leave until they got some answers. She’d just have to try and explain as best she could.
“Mrs. Rogan, it’s like this about Alex. He isn’t . . .”
The dogs began to howl. All the dogs, not just Mr. President. They were joined by the cats. If Mrs. Edward’s goldfish could’ve howled they would have joined the chorus as well. Suddenly no one was listening to Maggie.
Outside Otis’s trailer, Mr. President was yowling with puppy-like enthusiasm. His master came stumbling out and was about to berate his fool dog when something on the porch caught his eye.
Oblivious to the fact that he was not wearing anything over his union suit, Otis started for the porch, transfixed by the sight of the rocking, squealing, strobing videogame. Above him, unseen, the weathervane stopped spinning as if shot and all four compass point indicators suddenly bent sharply toward the night sky.
Something blew Otis’s sleeping cap off. A descending bright light made him step backward, shielding his eyes. The Starlight Starbright sign on the front of the store was glowing powerfully, bright enough to be read a hundred miles away.
The falling light came from the underside of something that was lowering itself toward the parking lot. Leaving Mrs. Rogan and her friends from school behind, Maggie started walking rapidly toward the light.
Other faces appeared at the windows and doors as the residents of the trailer park left bed or TV or bathroom to have a look. The commotion was sufficient to penetrate the brightly painted teepee set up in the Rogan yard. Two small occupants emerged to see what was happening.
“Far out!” said Louis’s friend David. “We’ve been invaded!”
“Klingons!” shouted Louis gleefully as he started toward the descending shape.
The spaceship touched ground, silent except for a deep internal humming. Maggie recalled the Beta’s warning words. This might be another assassin, bolder than his predecessors. But she couldn’t keep herself from moving slowly toward the faintly glowing ship.
The logo emblazoned on its side looked like the one the Beta had described to her, but she couldn’t be sure. She was cautious, but hopeful. Setting down in he midst of a hundred witnesses, primitive or not, didn’t seem like the ZZ-Designate’s style.
A voice called to her. “Maggie?” It was Otis, standing in the front of the store. She ignored him.
Something was descending from, the belly of the spacecraft, a lift of some kind. Mutterings rose from the growing crowd of curious onlookers. They stood there by the store in their underwear and bathrobes, and watched as a creature stepped off the lift and walked toward them. It wore a peculiar suit and a helmet. Its outline looked human enough.
Then it stopped in front of Maggie and removed its helmet.
“Alex!” Her face lit up as brightly as the ship’s landing lights. “Alex is it you? Is it really you?” She took a step toward him, hesitated. “Or should I open you up to check?”
He grinned down at her, a familiar, warm, guileless grin. “Nothing in here but us organics, Maggie.”
She jumped into his arms, staggering him. “It is you! Alex, Alex, Alex…”
They kissed, and that was enough to bring the crowd of gaping onlookers shuffling close: Mrs. Rogan, Granny, Elvira, Clara . . . All of them, all talking at once.
“Alex, is that a real space ship? . . . . Did’ja meet aliens? . . . Where’d you get it, Alex? . . . Now what’s goin’ on ‘round here?” . . . What’s this all about? . . . “
And lastly, pushing through the others, “Where have you been, Alex Rogan?” his mother demanded to know.
“Out.” He said automatically. Standing with his arm around Maggie, he tried to explain the impossible.
“Take it easy everybody.” They settled down to listen. He took a deep breath and spoke to his mother. “I’ve been on another planet, Mom. Helping the Rylans and the other good aliens, protecting the civilized galaxy from the bad aliens.” He gestured over his shoulder. “That’s my gunstar . . .”
“Like from the Starfighter game?” Louis wanted to know.
“That’s right, little brother. See, aliens put the game here on Earth and other worlds to find people who qualified as Starfighters, to help defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada. Just like the game always said.”
“Wow!” Louis said expressively.
Otis pushed forward, Jack Blake close on his heels. “Well, then, if you were somewhere out there, who was it broke my antenna trying to put it up?”
“Yeah, and stole my truck!” Blake said accusingly, though much subdued.
“. . . And ruined my stove . . . and wrecked my plumbing . . . cut my ‘lectric . . . !” other voices inquired.
Alex made shushing motions with his hands. “That was a Beta Unit, a duplicate of me. A robot.”
“Aw, I knew it all along,” Louis insisted. He looked past his brother, suddenly pointed. “Hey, what’s that?”
The lift was descending again. On it stood a tall, alien shape. The adults in the crowd drew back fearfully, but they had to pull their children along.
“A monster!” one of the women shouted.
“Monster?” murmured Grig as he stepped off the lift and started toward Alex. “Indeed!”
“Go easy on ‘em, Grig,” Alex asked him. “Remember, they’re just immature primitives. Like me.”
Grig nodded, stopped short of the crowd.
Granny was trying to push her way forward, clutching her old shotgun. Alex hastened to cut her off.
“Wait! Put down the shotgun, Granny. Everybody, come back. I want you all to meet Grig. My best friend.”
The children were first, breaking away from their parent’s paranoid grasp to crowd unhesitatingly around the alien’s long legs. Urged on by shame and curiosity, their elders timidly joined them.
“Grig.” Said Alex brightly, “I’d like you to meet Mr. and Mrs. Boone … that mean their mated Elviria, Otis . . .”
He led Grig down the impromptu reception line. “And this is Granny, and Maggie, of course.” Grig nodded, shook hands with each in turn before they stopped in front of the young female. She regarded him with a lopsided smile.
“Er, hi . . .”
“Remember the English I taught you.” Alex murmured to him. “There are no translator buttons here.”
Grig nodded and took Maggie’s hand. The crowd murmured. Grig made an effort to smile in the human manner and said, with perfect diction, “Charmed.”
Louis once more pushed his way to the fore and began doing strange things with his fingers. Grig found this puzzling, which was not surprising since he hadn’t seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But he recognized the resemblance immediately.
“And you must be Louis. I’ve heard good things about you.” He bent to shake the small hand, marveling at the softness of the flesh, so different from his own.
Louis stepped back, eyeing the hand as though it had just magically materialized on the end of his wrist, and turned to his friends.
“Hear that, you slimes? I’m famous!”
Mrs. Rogan was next. She eyed Grig wearily.
“And this is my mom.” Alex said.
As Alex had instructed him, Grig took Mrs. Rogan’s hand. But instead of shaking it, he bent and put his lips to the dorsal side. It was a peculiar custom, though no more so than half a hundred he’d acquired in his travels. It certainly had the intended effect. Mrs. Rogan was rendered speechless. Alex had warned Grig that this might be the result, so he resumed the conversation himself.
“You should be proud of your son, Mrs. Rogan.” He looked past her at the assembled crowd. “You should all be proud of him. He saved the League and hundreds of worlds, including Earth. He is the greatest Starfighter ever. He will teach other potential Starfighters and help us to build a permanent core of citizens read to insure that such attacks as we have just suffered will not occur again. Their very existence will be a deterrent to future war.” He glanced solemnly at Alex.
“Which reminds me. We are expected back, to begin work. It is time to leave.”
Maggie frowned. “Leave?”
“Alex?” said Mrs. Rogan.
He kissed her gently on the cheek, nodded.
“I have to, Mom. I promised. You heard Grig. I have a job to do. It’s an important job. And I’m the only one who can do it.
She sighed. “I always knew you’d leave here, Alex. I just never wanted to face that moment. I don’t imagine any mother does. Still, I guess it’s not so very different from going off to the University. What are you going to do about your studies?”
He grinned, waving toward the star-filled sky. Just like his mom, trying to couch the impossible in every-day terms
“Somehow spending four years preparing to be a computer technician doesn’t seem quite as important as it once did, Mom. Don’t worry. I’ve got plenty to learn, out there.”
“Yes, I suppose that you would.” She looked meaningfully toward Grig. “You’ll watch after him, won’t you?”
He nodded. “It will be a pleasure. I hope only to do one-tenth as good a job as you have done.”
For the second time that night Jane Rogan found herself speechless.
“Gee, can I come too, Alex?” Louis wondered, staring worshipfully up at his brother.
Alex knelt until they were eye to eye. “Sorry, squirt. But I’ll be back to visit, lots of times. You didn’t think I was going away forever, did you? But you can’t come.” He gestured back at the gunstar. “There’s only room for me, Grig and Maggie.”
Maggie swallowed. “Me?”
“Of course.” He took a step toward the gunstar, but she held back , uncertain, and he turned to her again.
“Why else do you think I came back? I told you that we’d always be together.”
“Yeah. Together here, or at school, or in the city. Not . . . out there, Alex.”
“You always told me you wanted to travel and see faraway places.”
She didn’t meet his eyes for a moment. “I meant San Diego, or maybe someday New York. This Rylos of yours . . . you can’t even see it from here.”
“You can’t see New York, but you can see Rylos, Maggie.” He put out his arm around her, turned her so they both faced the sky, and he pointed. “There it is . . . right there.”
“Oh. It’s bright.”
“You gotta come with me, Maggie. I’ll be back, but I don’t know when. Setting up this training program’s going to be a lot of work, and I promised. Don’t you see? This is our big chance. It’s like Otis said. When it comes, you gotta grab it with both hands and hold tight. I can learn a lot and help a lot of good people at the same time. It’s something I have to do.”
“What about Granny?”
Alex gave her a look easily interpreted to mean, “Not that old excuse again,” and she knew that he knew what she really meant. So why continue hiding it?
“You’re right Alex. I’m scared of leaving here. I’m scared of leaving this trailer park, for all my big talk about traveling and seeing the world, never mind other worlds. Why can’t you stay? Someone else could start that school.”
“It’s not just that, Maggie. Don’t you see? I’m not just a kid from a trailer park up there. I’m a Starfighter. I’m the Starfighter, and I’ve got new friends who are counting on me. I can’t let them down. This is . . . Maggie, this is a lot bigger than me, or you and me, it’s bigger than anything.”
From inside the ship a voice sounded over a speaker, a gentle but insistent. “Alex.”
He whirled and replied almost angrily, through Grig would know it was only Alex’s frustration speaking.
“Just a minute!” A low whine rose as the drive was activated.
“I can’t talk anymore,” He told Maggie. “Anyway, I’ve said everything. I gotta go.”
He hugged her hard, forced himself to move on to his mother, to Louis. Then he waved goodbye to the others, the assembled faces he’d known since childhood. They stared back at him reassuringly, solid as the desert, alive with the light from the gunstar.
He turned and headed to for the waiting lift.
Haze filled the air as the ship’s drive disturbed the atmosphere and irritated the dust particles swirled above the parking lot. Granny held Maggie tight, saying nothing. It wasn’t her place to. Not this time.
Finally Maggie looked anxiously into that weathered face. “Granny?”
The old woman smiled knowingly and ran her fingers through her granddaughter’s hair. Once for luck, and a second time to remember. No reason to cry. Hadn't Alex said he’d be back to visit? And Alex was a good boy . . . No, not a boy anymore. Alex was a man of his word.
“Be sure to write darling’. Or whatever it is they do out there.”
Maggie broke out in a wide smile, fighting back her own tears. Then she turned and she ran for the ship, shouting and waving frantically.
“Alex, wait! Alex!”
The lift was nearly into the belly of the Gunstar, but nearly isn’t all the way. It stopped, lowered to the ground a third time. Alex helped her onto the platform and she knew it was all right as he kissed her tenderly, knew that everything was going to be all right from now on. Because they were together.
The residents of the Starlight Star bright Trailer Park knew it was going to be all right, too. They watched and sighed, and Mr. Boone surprised Mrs. Boone with a long kiss. A warm feeling spread over them all as they watched the youngsters. Louis expressed the feelings of the prepubescent contingent by making a face and grumbling under his breath.
The whine of the ship intensified. Otis started shooing the crowd away.
“Everyone back! Keep your distance. These babies really pack a punch.” I think, he added silently to himself.
“Must be an optical illustration,” insisted one still disbelieving resident.
“Nope.” argued Mrs. Donovan. “It’s one o’ them UFU’s. I saw one of ‘em back in ’58.”
“Ha!” snapped Elvira. “You been seeing’ ‘em all your life, Bessie.”
“Lord,” mumbled elderly Mr. Franklin, “I swear I’ll never touch another drop as long as I live.” Then he remembered the half-full bottle of Jim Bean back in his trailer and added hastily, “After tonight, that is.”
“I figure we’re a cinch to make the Carson show,” Mrs. Donovan added confidently.
“I can see the headlines,” murmured Elvira, “’Martian’s Land at Trailer Park.’ We’re famous now, eh, Otis?”
“Yes sir.” He said proudly, watching the ship. “The whole world’s going to know about it. Starlight Starbright Trailer Park, The place where Alex and Maggie left for the stars.”
Everyone was staring at the transparent canopy at the forward end of the ship Alex and Maggie stood there, close against each other, waving and smiling back at them.
“Spaceships . . . space people . . . oh, I’m so confused!” Elvira murmured.
Granny came over and put a comforting arm around her neighbor. “Trouble with you, Elvira, is that you’re laggin’ behind the times. You got to look to the future and quit living in the past.”
“You mean . . . ?” Elvira asked worriedly.
“Yep, No more I Love Lucy reruns.”
The Gunstar rose skyward more quietly than any of them expected the humming of its drive a muted thrum instead of the fiery thunder of the rockets they’d seen on television. A small figure pushed its way through the rest of the crowd, heading for the mob of kids clustered around the Starfighter video game sitting silently on the General store porch.
“Hey, lemme in, you guys!” Louis demanded, shoving between the small bodies. “He’s my big brother.”
“But it’s my quarter,” David protested.
“I’ll pay you back, Davey.” Louis thumbed the play button. A familiar synthesized voice responded immediately.
“GREETINGS, STARFIGHTER. YOU HAVE BEEN RECRUITED BY THE LEAGUE TO PROTECT THE FRONTIER AGAINST XUR AND THE KO-DAN ARMADA.”
“Go get ’em Louis,” yelled David. Around them the rest of the kids pushed for a better view and cheered Louis Rogan on.
Otis had moved to stand close to Jane Rogan, who was staring silently at the sky while her excited neighbors jabbered behind her.
“Otis, did I do the right thing? Letting him go back out there?”
“Course you did, Jane. Course you did. Time for the young’uns to flee the coop. When it’s that time there’s no way you can hold ‘em to the hearth.” He grinned softly and put a reassuring arm around her waist. “No way on Earth.”
Lewis felt a hand on his shoulder, and his reminisces quickly faded and the solemn scene returned. He glanced at his niece who stood beside him. She so reminded him of the past and he glanced at his chronometer.
“Well its time.” Lewis suggested, “Are you both ready?”
“Yes uncle.” They both replied as Kyle met his sister ad they walked through the doors of his inner office to the outer one to the outside of the strangely shaped building. As they walked together with Grig the fourteen hundredth, standing beside ambassador Enduran’s elbow, they walked toward an open field in which in the daylight seemed different, and both unused to seeing except in the night time. Three coffins stood on suspensor beams over the holes that had been dug for them. The containers are that of a missile container belonging to a Gunstar, one of the few classes that had graduated as they continued to rebuild the legion before the saboteur had got to his dad and Grig on a training mission, during a routine cadet mission. Then an assassin’s bullet had killed his mother while she had been walking between the Headquarters to the airfield, a day or so after the report of Alex’ and Grig’s unconfirmed death.
The same one that had brought Lewis in from sector two, leaving his experienced second in command to watch over the platoon strength but not legion strength of Gunstars that protected his sector. Xur had returned and the battle ships had been attacking peaceful systems throughout the galaxy in which even the first two dozen ships had mounted a challenge for the enemy and had driven them back, thanks to Alex’s excellent tutelage.
Now they stood all four with Centauri nearby, clad in the familiar cheap double breasted polyester suit and the brown leather hat as they pay their respect to fallen heroes. Kyle had already been briefed n the curriculum for the school as was his sister and it was up to them. Lewis would be out in Sector Two for a short time and he would be shifted to Rylos, bringing his inept Gunstar skills that he had, thanks to Alex, to Rylos for protection of the planet and the school.
“We have come now to honor our dead.” A voice said, “Sad that it comes on the twentieth year of his arrival on Rylos with his beloved Maggie Gordon-Rogan in which they will be sorely missed. The death also includes the death of Grig, Star Navigator First Class, in which their death shall be avenged after the cowardly saboteur’s destruction took their lives without provocation. May you battle evil, in another dimension.” The voice had been that of the Ambassador and there was not a dry eye among the human components that stood before the graves, with exception of Griglet the fourteen hundredth who was already fired up, ready to avenge his father’s death as soon as possible. They had already requested a combat position against Xur and the front lines already established at the edge of what was the frontier which had dropped before the spectacular victory between his father and Kyle’s father against the Kodan Command Ship in a sneak attack.
“Jesus, there is so much work to be done.” Kyle thought, motioning to his sister and the security who would escort them back to the office where they would be situated most of the night to start their process rebuilding the legion, just as their father and mother had done so early on in their young lives, and before their coming into their lives before their birth on Rylos. They had yet to meet their grandmother Jane Rogan who lived on Earth. Now they would be meeting her soon enough, as Centari would be contacting her and bring her to Rylos to see the graves, and the recorded ceremony of her son’s death and her new daughter-in-law whom Alex had married a few months after their arrival on Rylos. He wondered what she was like and meant to ask Lewis, who had slipped away, planning a welcoming committee for the visitor from this home-world.
To be continued. ---