“We have everything we need here and I have a plan. Number one thing is to let me do all the talking. I know the lingo and I know how to act so just follow my lead. We have uniforms and pass cards to get us in the front gate. No guarantee they’ll work past that point, but we can try. If they need them again and they don’t work a silent alarm will go off.” Hans looked at his friends to make sure they understood everything he was saying. They both just nodded for him to continue.“I know exactly where we need to go now. I had a visitor last night with information that I trust. So we won’t be wandering around for too long looking for the shipping containers that we need to hide in. I have food, rebreathers and weapons for us. If luck will have it we won’t need the weapons, but we will need the rebreathers and food. It’s a three or four day trip and, as you know, these containers will not be scanned or treated for biologicals by the normal methods. Instead, they will be gassed as that is the safer option for decontamination. We should be safe, but make sure you have that rebreather on once you feel the containers being moved again. Any questions?”
Hans waited for someone to say something, but there was just silence. Hans couldn’t help, but smile knowing that he was taking such a risk with people that he could count on. It was a good feeling and almost reminded him of being in the forces again. He handed each of them a pile of stuff.“I’m going to go run an errand. Duke, you can take a break a few minutes later. Honora, you are assigned to be doing maintenance on one of the planes that just happens to be parked in a different hangar. None of us are leaving here together – that bit is important. We don’t want anyone to suspect anything. We’ll meet up at the abandoned Leonberger hangar on the other side of the port. You both know the one I’m talking about?”
Both Duke and Honora nodded. Hans continued. “Once we’re there we’ll have to move quickly. We’ll get changed into the uniforms and hire an automated car to get us to somewhere nearby the AFSF base. From then on, just follow my lead. If I salute, you salute – that sort of thing. Don’t say anything unless someone speaks to you directly. Got it?”Once again both Duke and Honora nodded their acknowledgements. Hans passed them some empty crates that he had for them to put their stuff in and they both left without saying a thing. Hans had to admit it was the most efficient meeting they had ever had. He only hoped that things would continue to go this smoothly.
It wasn’t long before they were all gathered in the abandoned Leonberger hangar trying on their new uniforms. Hans was studying the uniforms closely, trying to find any anything about them that might give any of them away, but he had to admit that they looked authentic. Each of them memorized the names on their uniform so as not to be caught off guard. Best part about the uniforms were the amount of pockets, they were able to store everything they needed without any extra packs that might draw attention.“I have to say that you look pretty good in a uniform Hans.” Honora gave him a good look as the climbed into the automated car that was waiting for them. Hans caught Duke rolling his eyes and suppressed a chuckle.
“Well I was in the forces so I do know how to wear a uniform well. It was always good for picking up dates.” Hans shrugged and gave the machine their destination. It was silence in the vehicle as they travelled. It was twenty minutes before they arrived in the area near the AFSF base. Hans paid the fair in cash so as not be traceable.“Okay, this is it. If you want to turn back, now would be the time to do so. No one is going to hold it against you. We all know that if this fails there is not coming back. We are going to go down fighting.” Hans knew that neither of them would turn around, but he wanted to give them the option. “Alright, follow me.”
Hans led the way to entrance for the AFSF. He knew there would be a human sentry or two posted and he wasn’t surprised to find someone there. He just sauntered up to the gate and swiped his keycard as if it was something that he did every day. The light shined green and he pushed on through the gate. Duke and Honora followed his example with their own cards, each gaining access immediately.Having studied the layout of the compound, Hans knew exactly where he was going, he turned right and skirted around the edge of the compound towards a large warehouse area. Thankfully, they didn’t bump into anyone. “Keep your eyes peeled for warehouse number 1B. That’s the one we need.”
It took them about fifteen minutes of searching before they found the warehouse they needed. Hans stopped short and ducked behind another building where they couldn’t be seen. “There’s two sentries posted outside the door to the warehouse we need.”“What are we supposed to do?” Honora took a quick peek around the corner to see for herself as she asked.
“Kill them?” Duke rested his hand on the weapon.Hans shook his head. “That would be discovered too quickly. We need to get them gone, but I don’t know how we can do it without raising suspicion.”
“Can’t we just tell them that we’re here to relieve them or whatever?” Honora looked hopeful, but Hans shook his head to that idea as well. He ran a million scenarios through his mind, but nothing seemed like a good idea.“This is ridiculous.” Duke said and stalked off towards the warehouse before Hans could stop him. Hans and Honora peeked around the corner to watch Duke as he walked right up to the warehouse and started talking to the sentries who appeared to be ignoring him completely.
“What’s he saying?” Honora asked. Hans shook his head, but he desperately wanted to know what was going on over there. They were all in this together. Hans took a deep breath and stepped out from behind the building and started walking towards to Duke who still had his back to him. He had taken out a cigarette and was lighting it – a definite not allowed on any base.“Petty Officer Breent, what do you think you’re doing?” Hans put on his best officers voice and he knew it worked when the sentries went suddenly stiff and started staring straight ahead.
Duke spun on his heel, dropping the cigarette as he did so and surreptitiously stepping on it to put it out. He saluted and stood as stiff as the sentries. “Nothing, sir.”“Slacking again are you. I ought to report you to the Commander about this. You are on a short leash Breent. You’re supposed to be double checking the inventory for the shipment today and that leaves at 1600 hours. It’s almost 1530 hours now.” Hans saluted back so that Duke could drop his arm.
“Yes, sir, I was just about to do so, but I couldn’t find my keycard.” Duke played the part of the inept soldier well and Hans knew all too well exactly how he should respond.“Sentries, please let Petty Officer Breent in to do the inventory. We don’t have time to dig up another keycard for him.” Hans directed his attention to the sentries who didn’t even bother to question him. No one wanted to further anger an already angry officer.
“Get to it now Petty Officer or I will have you brought up on charges for something by the end of the day. “ Hans gave a practiced sneer that he had seen many an officer to during his life. “Perhaps I’ll just stand in on this inventory just to make sure you don’t mess this up as well.”“Yes, sir.” Duke gave a near perfect salute again and marched into the warehouse. Hans followed him and a quick glance told him that Honora was just two steps behind him holding a nearly neutral expression. As soon as the door closed behind them Hans gave a sigh of relief and restrained himself from jumping up and down for joy.
“Okay the shipment IDs that we’re looking for are BAQ456-7773 through to 7777. We each need to get into one of those crates and we should be good to go. Hopefully those sentries don’t question the fact that we don’t come out before this shipment leaves. If they do it may just be game over for us.” Hans told them before they headed off in search of the crates.“Found the crates.” Duke’s booming voice echoed through the warehouse despite the fact that he was trying to be quiet. Hans jogged towards the sound of Duke’s voice and found Honora had already beat him there. He double checked the numbers on the crates and grinned.
“Good job, I have the code to get into these.” Hans started punching the numbers in and saw a small light glow green. He opened the top on the crate, holding his breath as he did so. Hans tried not to smile at the cries of disgust that came from Duke and Honora.“It’s a specialized gel compound that is used for shipping extremely delicate electronics. It’s perfectly harmless, but it doesn’t smell really good. It’s the only thing that can keep these components from degrading due to radiation.” Hans motioned towards Honora. “Get in, you’ll get used to it.”
Suppressing a gag, Honora accepted help up into her crate and settled in with a splooch. Hans closed the lid on her and it locked automatically. He opened up another two crates. “See you on the other side.”Hans vaulted over the edge of the crate with grace. He waved at Duke and pulled the lid down to enclose himself in the crate. He wasn’t looking forward to four days in the gel, but at least it meant that they would all make it to Earth safely and undiscovered.