He heard the key’s being depressed on the numeric lock and waited, finger on the trigger. The first light he had seen in days assaulted his eyes. He had grown accustomed to the dark and he found it difficult to make out the face of the person above him.“Hans?” It was Alfie. His voice sent waves of joy through Hans as he lowered the gun.
“It’s great to hear your voice.” Hans held up a hand and felt Alfie grasp it and pull him out of the gel that he had been nestled in. Once he was out, Alfie hugged him as if he was trying to squeeze Hans into two. “I’ve missed you.”Hans hugged Alfie back just as hard. “I’ve missed you too. I can’t believe it’s been so long.”
“You stink though.” Alfie took a step back, his nose wrinkling.Hans just laughed. “Some things just never change do they? I have two other people with me. I know they say three is a crowd, but I was hoping you wouldn’t mind.”
“Sure, but perhaps you should be the one to open the crates. If they’re anything like you I’m bound to lose a limb or maybe even something really important.” Alfie lead the way to the next crate over.“You mean like your handsome face?” Hans found the crate that he had put Honora in first and punched in the key code to unlock it. He opened it carefully. “Honora, it’s me, Hans. We made it safe and sound.”
A delicate arm stuck and waved. Hans grabbed it and helped to pull Honora out of the gel. Little bits still clung to her hair still and she started combing through it before she even noticed that there was a third person with them. She stopped awkwardly and stared at Alfie.“Honora, this is my good friend Alfonzo Ansanza. Alfie, this is Honora. She’s technically my employee.” Hans spoke as though they were meeting somewhere more civil instead of in an AFSF warehouse.
Honora stuck out her hand, realized there was gel stuck to it and changed it to wave instead. “Nice to meet you. Where’s Duke?”“I’ll find him next and then we should probably get out of here.” Hans glanced at Alfie who nodded. He glanced around and saw the serial number for the crate that Duke had chosen. He repeated the process of letting him out and made the introduction for Alfie. Duke didn’t bother to shake his hand, but gave him a good hard stare instead.
“I really hope we can trust you as much as Hans seems to think.” Was what he finally said.Alfie returned his stare and said mildly. “He can trust me more than even he thinks he can. Now, we better get out of here.”
Alfie led the way to the door. He popped his head out first before waving them all through. He took a small device out of his pocket and pressed a small button on it. Hans looked at him with a question in his eyes and he smiled. “Temporarily cancels out the cameras. It’ll buy us a little bit of time, but not much. We need to move fast and quiet.”Hans nodded and followed Alfie as he jogged up the aisle. He seemed to be leading them through a maze and it wasn’t long before Hans felt entirely lost. Every now and again Alfie would produce the little gadget and press the button. Finally they stepped on to a lift that started moving upwards.
“We’re going to be moving through the occupied corridors now. I won’t be able to shut the cameras off here without being noticed. Just keep your heads down and hopefully you will not be recognized by any human or machine.” Alfie led the way confidently and Hans longed to walk in the same manner, but he kept his head down to set a good example for Honora and Duke.It felt like they had been walking forever when Alfie finally stopped in front of a set of doors. He passed a keycard through the reader and followed it by leaning into a retinal scanner. After a few seconds, the door opened to two large uniformed men with guns at the ready.
“At ease men, these are my guests.” Alfie waited for them to step aside motioned everyone to come in. As soon as the door closed behind them he breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s okay you can stand up straight now. No one will be monitoring these circuits.”Hans took the opportunity to stretch as tall as he could. He caught Alfie watching and gave him a wink which brought forth a small grin. Hans grinned as well and looked around for a place to sit down, but there was nowhere nearby, it was just a small alcove with another door up ahead.
“I’m guessing we’re going through there?” Hans gestured towards the door.“Yeah, and you’ll have to excuse the accommodations. Only place I could think of to put you that no one would work would be the holding cells.” Alfie grinned. “Wouldn’t be the first time, eh Hans?”
“And once again you’ll be the reason behind it.” Hans laughed and clapped Alfie on the back. “So what about setting up that meeting with Admiral Falun?”“I’m working on it. I think it might be better for him to come to you than the other way around. I’ll leave the doors unlocked for you guys so you don’t feel trapped. I’ve had all other detainees moved to another area so that there will be no one around to bother any of you.” Alfie unlocked the door and locked it into the open position. “If you need anything these are my hand picked guards. Just ask and they will get it for you.”
"How about a hot bath so I can get this stink off of me?” Honora plucked at her clothes and wrinkled her nose. “And something else to wear?”“Not a problem. This is where we keep the officers so they have all amenities. Baths are at the end of the hall.” Alfie turned to one of the sentries. “See to it that they all have some clean, nice clothes to put on and I’m pretty sure some real food and drink is in order as well.”
The sentry gave a nod and headed out. Hans started to head towards the cells with Duke and Honora when Alfie grabbed his arm. “Wait just a sec. I need to talk to you.”“Is this going to be a private conversation?” Hans asked.
“Yeah,” Alfie turned to the other sentry. “Can you just step outside for a moment?”Alfie waited till the door had closed fully before asking what he needed to ask. “What is really going on?”
Hans knew this question was coming and had spent the four days composing an answer to it. “I’ve made first contact with an alien species. His name Ohaehim and he warns of another race that is heading this way to wage war on the galaxy called the Afoixox. I’m convinced that the AFSF are already aware of one, if not both, species and are keeping it secret. I don’t know why, but I do know that it cannot be kept a secret for much longer. If war is coming, then we need to be prepared.”“You found an alien?” Alfie blinked a few times and tried to get his thoughts in order. “A real alien, that’s amazing! What a break through. Simply incredible.”
Hans grinned at the Alfie’s enthusiasm. “I have proof. More than just my own words, I know you believe me, but I wasn’t expecting the Admiral to take my word. We have video and something else…”“Something else?” Alfie cocked his head to one side. “What sort of something else?”
Hans removed his gloves and held up his left hand. He merged and separated his adjustable tentacle hand for Alfie to see.“Well, that wasn’t what I was expecting…” Alfie reached out and touched Hans’ left hand. “It’s so smooth.”
“It took a little getting used to for me as well.” Hans slid his gloves back on. “So now you know.”“I know and I can only imagine how fun having an adjustable tentacle hand could be.” Alfie leered at Hans who only laughed.
“You have someone now. So don’t go getting any ideas.” Hans shook his head and laughed some more. Alfie hadn’t changed one bit since academy. “I’m going to go get cleaned up now. You just get the Admiral here to see me.”“He’s going to be shocked you know. Might even give the old man a heart attack, but I’ll make sure he understands just how important this is.” Alfie smiled and saluted Hans. “Always knew you’d do something big one day. Just hadn’t thought that this is what the something big would be.”
Hans turned his back on his old friend and headed towards the bath. He knew he could definitely use one right about now – not to mention a real bed. Four days in that putrid gel didn’t make for good resting conditions.