“Hans?” It sounded like Duke. Hans rolled over rubbing the back of his head where it had smacked on the door. “Hans are you okay?”“Home computer, please unlock the door and let my guests in please.” Hans stumbled to the kitchen and the nearest sink so that he could splash some water on his face.
“Hans?” Duke sounded noticeably worried. “Are you okay? Did something happen?”Hans turned around and saw the mess that he had made when he had woken up. Had he come across something like this he would have assumed the worse as well. “I’m in the kitchen.”
“Shit. You look like death. What happened?” Duke looked from Hans to the mess and back at Hans again.“I fell asleep.” Hans laughed. “I was working on a few things last night and must have fallen asleep at the table. When I woke up, I was so startled that I fell. It’s fine.”
“You fell asleep?” Honora peeked out from behind Duke trying to repress a smile. “You really are quite the sight.”“Yeah, one of you want to get this kitchen making some coffee and food while I got get cleaned up? I don’t think I’ll make any sense until I get some caffeine in me.” Hans headed off towards his bedroom for a quick shower and a change of clothes. He was having a hard time believing that he had actually fallen asleep while working.
He came out into the main room to the smell of food and coffee feeling a lot more human than he had been a bit earlier. Hans inhaled deeply and noticed that someone, either Duke or Honora, had taken it upon themselves to clean up the mess he had made. His chair was upright and all his paperwork was stacked neatly on one side of the table.“Here ya go boss.” Honora pressed a cup of coffee in his hand and he took a careful sip. It was black, bitter and perfect in everyway. He took a bigger swallow and sighed. Before going to the table to sit down.
“Thanks guys. Sorry about the reception I gave you there.” Hans smiled at them both as Duke dropped a plate of food in front of him and then took a seat with his own plate full of food.“Honestly, it was a little bit of a shock, but I’m thinking that I’m going to be laughing about this for a few days at least. Kind of wish I had presence of mind to take a picture. It would have been great to show around the office.” Duke grinned and took a bite of his toast.
“Shut up.” Hans tried to glare at Duke, but he just couldn’t quite manage it. He could only imagine how he had looked when these two had seen him. He knew that he must have been quite the sight. Shaking his head, he dug into his own meal.Once he was done, he leaned back and took another sip of his coffee. He was definitely starting to feel more like himself now and they had already lost enough time to his foolishness. He glance around the table to seem Duke and Honora both waiting for him to speak first.
“Okay, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. I got most of the work done last night before I fell asleep, but there are still a lot of details that we need to go over.” Hans pushed his plate down towards Duke who grabbed it and took it into the kitchen for him. Hans pulled over everything he was working on last night and connected it was the display unit for the table.“Alright, this is an example of the goggles that we purchased from our contact last night. We won’t be able to open the case until we are deep under ground. It has a tracker on it that will activate as soon as we open it, but if I remember correctly, we should be able to open the case safely at the depth we’ll be at by the time we need them. I’ve used these before so I can help with any questions, but you both will need to study this manual so that you can be as familiar with the equipment as possible.”
Hans shuffled through the stack of notepads and found the two that he needed and slid them across the table to Honora and Duke. “I loaded the manual on to those notepads. They’re disposable so before we leave make sure you destroy your copy.”Hans waited till they both nodded their understanding before continuing. “Okay, next thing is that it took me about three days to get to the end of that tunnel. We’ll need to move quicker than that. Any suggestions on how we can do this?”
“Oh, I know. Hoverboards are pretty fast and portable.” Honora smiled. “I already have one. They’re a lot of fun.”“Hoverboards? Do you really think that’s a good idea?” Duke frowned and scratched his chin. “On the other hand I can’t think of anything better, but I’m not really keen on the idea. I’ve never been on one of those contraptions before.”
Hans nodded. “I couldn’t think of anything so I’m glad one of us could come up with a good solution and they are very portable, no one will be suspicious if we go out and buy one. It might be a bit hard at first because the ceiling starts off low, but it get’s larger for a good part of the journey before it starts to shrink again.”“Guess I better go out and get one of those things so I don’t keep falling off when it counts.” Duke wrinkled his nose and sighed.
“You and me both Duke.” Hans chuckled. “Next thing, the hard bit is how to get all of us as close to the Mantou Islands at the same time without raising any red flags. I’ve been thinking about this the longest and we have the regular route to the mining colony that I took my ‘vacation’ at. I’m thinking that I may be able to set it up so that our newest junior pilot gets to take that flight as practice with a senior pilot, myself, to observe.”“And how do I get on that flight then?” Duke frowned. “It’s not like you need a third person with a junior and a senior pilot already on it.”
“No, not normally, but I think I could falsify a request from the mining colony for mechanic help that you’re qualified for. Call it a good will offer from us that we decide to give them a hand with their issue. They do have some qualified short-flight only vehicles that they use and I know for a fact that they’re between mechanics right now.” Hans bit his lip. He knew it was a risky idea, but it was all he could think of.“I think we could pull that off. It might take a bit of smooth talking if any one does start to ask questions.” Duke frowned. “I’m guessing you can handle that after how well you handled things last night. I swear you would fit right in with some of those Dregs.”
“Not really sure how to take that, Duke.” Hans shook his head. “However, I’m going to say that’s a good thing in case everything doesn’t go as planned, but we’ll get to that.“Now, the flight to the mining colony should be a there and back normally, but I think if we claim mechanical issues we can buy ourselves a few days with the company. No one at the mining colony needs to know what’s going on. It’s not really their concern, but if someone does ask questions we can just give them the same story.”
“Don’t you think someone is going to notice that we’re not there working on our aircraft? It’s not like this is an in and out thing that we’re doing here. Someone is going raise a red flag with someone.” Duke responded.“I know, but we can just hope that they keep their noses out of our business. A lot of the kind of people that end up of those places are generally the kind that aren’t so willing to take notice of what others are doing. And the ones that do are more likely to keep their mouths shut.” Hans hated have to say it, but it was truth. “In all honesty this is probably the part of the plan that we just can’t be a hundred percent about. It all depends on people doing what people do best. Which is ignoring things that are none of their business.”
“There really is no way around it is there?” Honora leaned back in her chair and stared at the city. “But I do have experience with those kind of people and I do think you’re right. If we mumble something about running diagnostics it might give a day or two of grace before anyone really gets suspicious.”