Monday, August 4, 2014

Blood on the Stars - Part 1: Secrets & Lies - CH. 8 (1)

“Hans, long time no see. How is life on the edges of civilization treating you old buddy? I hear the women out there are all kinds of wild.” Alfonzo grinned from ear to ear at the unexpected call from his old friend.

“Life is pretty darn good out here. You ought to try leaving the comforts of Earth behind every now and again.” Hans laughed. He had forgotten how much he enjoyed talking to Alfie. It had really been a long time since they had spoken to each other. “I can’t say much about the women, but that’s always been your department.”
“Not for the last few months. I’ve been a woman kind of man. I may have actually met my match.” Alfie said his grin getting impossibly wider.

“No shit? Someone has actually managed to keep you? She must be a hell of a woman to manage that. I’d love to meet her sometime.” Hans was impatient to get to the reason why he was calling, but he knew that he had to go through the motions in case anyone else was listening.
“Ah, she is incredible.” Alfie sighed and leaned back. “But I’m sure you didn’t call me just to make small talk about my love life or yours. What can I do you for buddy?”

“You know me too well.” Hans had almost forgotten how well Alfonzo knew him. They had been inseparable friends when they were in academy together, but they had gone separate directions after graduation. Still though, it was good to have someone he could still count on like Alfie.
“Well, spit it out already. I’ll help you anyway I can.” Alfie leaned in closer to the video pick up on his end as the smile faded from his face. “Not in trouble are you?”

“Not exactly, but I was wondering if you were still working under Admiral Falun?” Hans asked.
“Of course, I love E&E. Couldn’t imagine me spending my days anywhere else. In fact, we just found a new planet that we’re considering opening up to –” Alfie cut himself off. “But you aren’t calling about that. Sorry, it’s always exciting when a potentially habitable planet comes up.”

“No worries, I get that.” Hans smiled. “What I actually wanted to ask you was where Admiral Falun was hiding these days.”
“The Admiral, eh?” Alfie raised his eyebrows. “Thinking of returning to the service or should I not be asking?”

“Something like that.” Hans said.
“Hmm, I see. Not my business really, but he’s on Earth for some meetings. Big stuff going on here, but I might be able to pull some strings and get a message to him for you. He’s been busy though and I can’t guarantee anything.” Alfie glanced at something off screen and frowned. “Hold on a second.”

Hans waited as the screen went fuzzy for a moment and then cleared up again. Whatever had just happened, Alfonzo was looking distinctly worried now. He looked back into the video pick up and kept his voice low. “That frequency was being monitored. I blocked it, but we only have a few minutes before they find this signal and unscramble it. What the hell are you into man?”
“It’s complicated, but I need to get in to see the Admiral. I have a feeling I can trust him with what I have to say. I know I’m being monitored, but this is of the upmost importance.” Hans spoke as fast as he could.

“You’re coming to Earth?” Alfonzo didn’t bother to hide his surprise.
“Yeah, but we need to get there under the radar. Any ideas?” Hans asked.

“One or two, but it’s risky. Are you sure you want to do this?” Alfonzo frowned. “And when I say risky, I mean almost impossible.”
“If that’s where the Admiral is, then that’s where we’re going. I need –” Hans stopped talking at the moment Alfie held up his finger. “So, do you think you could get me a few of those Earth luxuries out here? As much as I love the frontier it really is lacking in a few things.”

Alfie faked a laugh and grinned. “I’ll send a few things your way. I’ll even send it express ‘cause I like you so much.”
“Thanks Alfie. And I promise, I’ll stay in touch better in the future.” Hans smiled. He had to admire how great his friend was at subterfuge.

“Ciao.” Alfonzo said and the screen went black.  Hans leaned back in his chair and stared up at the ceiling. He had been hoping that he would be able to count on an old friendship and the risk had paid off better than he had imagined. Not only did he have the information he needed, but they now had an inside man.
Hans had no idea what Alfie’s was plan was, but he was sure it would be better than anything he could come up with on his own. Hans grinned as he remembered back to the old days when they had been in the academy together. Alfie had always been up to something. It was because of him that Hans had learned to become such a good planner and liar.

Of course, this was more than just getting into and out of a little bit of trouble, this was defying an entire branch of the government. He had no idea what sort of clearance Alfie had since they had never really talked about work even when they were both in the service. Hans was pretty sure that he played more of a roll in the government than he had let on. For now, though, all he could do was wait to see what Alfie had sent him.
It was the next day at work when Hans called Duke and Honora into his office to tell them the news about his conversation with Alfonzo although he was careful not to mention his friend by name. It was bad enough that Alfie was risking his job for them and Hans didn’t need to make it worse for him. Plausible deniability was the keyword in this.

“Are you sure we can trust him?” Duke asked, once again being the one to bring up the negative.
“I’m pretty sure I can trust him more than you.” Hans said. “He may be high up in the Armed Forces, even I’m not sure exactly what he does or how much clearance he has, but he is completely trustworthy. Plus, he has very strong inclination towards anti-establishmentarianism.”

“Anti-establishment-what?” Duke looked at Hans as if he had suddenly sprouted an extra head.
“It is the word that my friend uses to describe his political beliefs. What is really important is that he believes that the best way to bring down a corrupt government is from the inside.”  Hans suppressed a chuckle as he thought back to his time in the academy. “Let’s just say, if we don’t trust the government or Armed Forces then this is the guy we want to be on our side.”

“But you have no idea what this plan of his is?” Honora asked.
“We never had time to discuss it. Whatever he did only gave us a few seconds of, hopefully, unmonitored conversation. I’m pretty sure we’ll find out soon enough.” Hans mentally calculated the fastest a package could get from Earth to Cantun. Even if he had sent it within the hour it would take days to arrive, if not longer.

“Do you think whoever is watching is going to intercept the package first?” Hans frowned at the thought that he had just voiced, but it was a very real possibility.
“I’m counting on it and I’m sure my friend is going to be expecting them to do so as well. I have no doubt that whatever he is sending is going to be very well concealed.” Once again Hans was reminded of something from back when they were in the academy together. “In fact, I think I know exactly how he would have concealed it.”

“Let’s just hope that this friend of yours is half as clever as you seem to think he is.” Duke stood up to leave as he spoke. “Cause it’s not just your life or his that’s on the line here – it’s me and Honey as well. Not to mention that alien of yours.”
“He’s not my alien.”  Hans rolled his eyes and turned his attention back to work. “I’ll let you know when the package has arrived. Until then there really isn’t much we can do. Getting to Earth is the hardest part of our plan. Once we’re there, I have a feeling that everything will fall in to place fairly quickly. Call me an optimist.”

“I’d call you an idiot.” Duke grumbled only just loud enough for Hans to hear him as he walked out. Hans chose not to respond to that comment. He knew that Duke was more than likely right, but he was not willing to give up the hope that it would be okay.

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