Equinox: The return to Earth

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A new order

The Equinox B sailed along in geostationary orbit, 36900km above the Earth, directly above Oceanview. The view of the blue planet down below, punctuated by wispy white clouds was simply awe-inspiring and never failed to take his breath away no matter how many times he admired it, and today was no different.

Jason stood in the darkened observation chamber looking down on his home planet, deep in thought. Standing on the transparent floor with the shutters open and lights off made him feel like he was just drifting in space.

“I’ve accomplished more, travelled further and faster, and experienced more adventures over the last few years than most people will, in two lifetimes!” he thought to himself. “That’s pretty impressive for a misunderstood little boy from an insignificant little town.”

Jason was in an unusually good mood this morning and with good reason too. Vince would be arriving along with the second fleet from Carac within the hour, and later, he was going to address the people of Earth, live from the newly constructed Freedom Park recreational centre in Oceanview, in his capacity as sovereign King of Carac and Earth.

He took another sip of his perfectly brewed sweet, warm coffee.

“Thanks for another perfect mug, Eve,” he thought to himself.

He had bumped into Eve in the mess hall earlier and she had insisted on preparing him a mug of coffee. He had accepted with a smile because Eve really and truly, beyond any doubt, made coffee better than anyone else he knew.

“Now, to give some thought to my speech,” he said to himself, feeling wide awake and alert from the sugar and caffeine coursing through his bloodstream.

“Should I greet the people casually or take a more formal approach?” he wondered. “And what shall I wear this afternoon?”

The beeping of the intercom followed by Thomas’s voice broke the silence.

“Captain, the fleet will arrive within fifteen minutes.”

“Understood. Thank you, Mr. Wayne,” he replied. “I’m on my way to the bridge.”

Even with the motorised walkways and fast elevators, it was still a long walk to the bridge from the observation deck and Jason was slightly out of breath as he walked in and greeted Thomas.

“Good morning, Mr Wayne,” he said, addressing his chief engineer.

Thomas smiled and nodded, looking right at home in front of his control panel.

“You’re just in time,” he told Jason. “The fleet is about to arrive in thirty seconds.”

Jason eyed the main view screen intently, and sure enough, the fleet began to appear, one vessel at a time, every few seconds, as if they had simply materialised out of empty space and proceeded to take up their positions around the Equinox B.

Just then, the bridge doors hummed open and Eve walked in.

“You’re just in time, Eve,” said Jason. “Vince will be on board soon.”

“Yes, I’m just as excited as you are!” she replied, making her way to the 1st officer’s station and taking a seat.

Jason continued to stand in front of the large view screen marvelling at the fleet of twenty highly advanced warships which had arrived from Carac while taking in the view of the Earth below. The Earth which was now his to command.

“By the way, thanks for the amazing coffee this morning, Eve,” said Jason turning his attention to her.

“It’s only a pleasure, Jason King,” she replied smiling at him.

“Vince’s shuttle has just left the command ship and is en route to us,” Thomas informed them.

“Oh good!” replied Jason. “Eve, shall we go down to the hangar and welcome him?”

The two made their way down to the hangar, in time to watch the arriving shuttle execute a perfect landing, with Vince at the controls, pleasantly surprising Jason.

“Welcome to Earth, old buddy!” said Jason excitedly, as soon as Vince had exited, giving his friend a firm handshake and a pat on the back.

“Congratulations on learning how to fly too! I’m impressed!”

Eve greeted Vince with a warm hug.

“Welcome back, Vince,” she said with a huge smile, “Glad to have you back.”

“Come, let’s talk over coffee and snacks,” suggested Jason gesturing towards the exit. “I could do with another mug and there’s so much to tell you!”

It felt like old times again for Jason as they sat around a large steel table in the mess hall sipping on coffee and sharing experiences. It was a little noisy with soldiers and crew mulling about on their break but Jason didn’t mind. Just for the moment nothing else mattered besides this moment shared by good friends.

Jason continued to fill Vince in on all that had transpired since their arrival, carefully leaving out the details of the destruction which was necessary to subdue the Earth forces.

“Eventually, the United Earth Government realised that they had no choice but to surrender, so I hosted a meeting of the world leaders here on board the Equinox B,” continued Jason.

“I’ve drawn up a constitution which has now been adopted worldwide, not that I gave them much of a choice, as I am their King now,” said Jason grinning.

“Wow!” exclaimed Vince, wide eyed with wonder from listening to his friend. “From enemy of the state to ruler of the state!”

“Well, the previous regime was oppressive and most people see us as liberators,” added Eve.

“Don’t get too comfortable, Vince,” Jason reminded. “I’ll be delivering a speech at the opening of Freedom Park in about three hours, where my statue is going to be unveiled and we’re all attending.”

“What statue?” asked Vince with a look of disbelief. “No way!”

Jason smiled and nodded. “Can you believe it? I’ve really become that famous!”

“Ok, let’s meet at hanger one in exactly an hour and leave together. I have to collect mum and dad from home on the way to Freedom Park as they’ve decided not to live on the ship.”

An hour later and still jovial from the reunion, the trio descended into the Earth’s atmosphere with Jason piloting the shuttle. Lower and lower they dropped, en route to Oceanview, accompanied by four armed escort shuttles, one on either side and two behind. Thomas monitored them from the bridge, weapons at the ready.

The seven thousand seater venue was filled to capacity and millions more were following the live broadcast from all over the planet. It seemed that everyone who lived in the little town was here, eager to see the legendary Jason King in person.

Jason’s entourage landed right in the centre of the stadium, a few metres away from the temporary stage and podium, on the soccer pitch, under the watchful eye of his security detail much to the delight of the crowd who erupted in cheering and applause.

Jason’s parents quickly made their way to the stands, not wanting to be the centre of attention while Vince and Eve took up their seats on the little stage, next to Jason. The mayor of Oceanview and his little group of important people were seated on the opposite end of the stage.

The organisers couldn’t have asked for better weather. The afternoon sun and cool breeze made for a perfect outdoor event.

The mayor walked up to the podium and greeted everyone, bringing the large crowd to order while Jason cast another glance at the large statue which stood close to the entrance of the recreational centre. It was covered by a heavy canvas ahead of the unveiling.

Once the crowd had fallen silent, the mayor began his introduction.

“From humble beginnings, right here in Oceanview, he emerged as a force to change the world and rewrite history. His first major contribution to science allowed mankind to finally break the light barrier and venture beyond Earth’s solar system, where he continued to make discoveries and scientific breakthroughs. He then returned to free our society from an authoritarian government that had lost sight of civil liberties. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the man, the legend, Jason King!”

Jason stood up to the sound of thunderous applause. At the same time, the canvas covering his statue fell away, to the sound of trumpets and even more applause, revealing the full length stone likeness of him.

Only the slightest hint of a smile played on the corners of his lips as he tried to keep an expressionless face to match the black suit and red tie he wore. He gave the mayor a firm handshake before standing in front of the podium.

Jason performed his signature move of tapping the microphone to get everyone’s attention followed by his characteristic throat clearing, before addressing the attentive crowd.

“Mr Mayor, distinguished guests, my friends Dr. Vince Singer and Dr. Eve Lomax, friends, family and people of Oceanview, thank you for the warm reception.”

He paused to take a breath before continuing, but was suddenly overcome by an uneasy feeling which he couldn’t immediately explain. He trusted his instinct and his abilities enough to know that something was wrong.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion as he suddenly realised the reason for his uneasiness, but he was not fast enough to react. He desperately reached out with his mind, but knew very well that he was too late as he began falling. The noise of the crowd and his vision began to fade as a cold darkness enveloped him.

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