“I beg your pardon ma’am,” Altheia interrupted. “But we are not an anti-government organization – that’s just propaganda. We are an organization that fights corruption within the government.”Counsellor Hardeto glared at Altheia for the interruption, but nodded her acceptance of the statement. “I stand corrected. Please answer my question Admiral Falun.”
“I was aware that he had such affiliations, but I hired him because he was very good at what he did and passed all security screening. I was not aware that he was a leader of the organization.” Admiral Falun looked up from the table to meet the Counsellor’s gaze. “Perhaps if the full nature of his involvement had been revealed things would have gone much differently.”“How so?” Counsellor Hardeto wasn’t going to shy from any question that she thought may be pertinent to her investigation of the facts.
“I may not have hired him. It’s hard to say as he was, at the time, a very outstanding candidate for the job and his association was the only black mark against him.” Admiral Falun gripped his hand tightly together on top of the table. “However, I’m not entirely sure how this has any relevance to the investigation.”“I will be the one to determine relevance.” Counsellor Hardeto stated. “So, I would like to repeat am earlier question with slightly different phrasing. Were you, Admiral Falun, in any informed that there were people who wished to meet with you on an urgent matter that is in any way related to the reason we are all gathered here today?”
Hans had to admire the Counsellor’s choice of words in asking the question. Admiral Falun hesitated in answering the question and it was at that moment that Hans noticed the way Admiral Georgio was glaring at his contemporary. It was as though she was trying to bore into his head with her eyes and place the correct answer there.“I, uh. Well, I…” Admiral Falun stumbled as he finally worked up the nerve to answer the question. He looked desperately at Admiral Georgio for a moment as he grasped for words. “Yes. Yes, I was informed, but no meeting took place.”
Admiral Falun seemed to collapse in on himself as he slumped back in his chair with a sigh. Hans saw the flash of rage from Admiral Georgio that was gone as soon as it had arrived. She had composed herself, once again sitting stiffly in her chair with a neutral expression on her face that Hans could almost described as boredom.“Why did the meeting not take place?” Counsellor Hardeto had leaned forward slightly at Admiral Falun’s admission.
Again, Admiral Falun hesitated, dropping his hands to his lap. He looked up and glanced around the table, meeting the eyes of each and every person seated there before standing up. “I would like to tender my resignation from this post and asked to be dismissed from this discussion.”“What?” Counsellor Hardeto was on her feet in an instant, her chair falling backwards to the floor. “Admiral Falun, you are not dismissed from this discussion. Refusal to participate fully and honestly in an official inquiry will be considered an obstruction of justice. Possibly even contempt.”
“As it is, my statement stands.” Admiral Falun stood stiff, his chin up and his mouth set in a firm line.“You leave me no option then.” Counsellor Hardeto kept her gaze on Admiral Falun and with great remorse quietly said a single word. “Guards.”
The doors flew open the instant she said the word and two guards marched into the room. Counsellor Hardeto did not take her eyes off of Admiral Falun as she spoke to the guards. “Please arrest this man for obstruction of justice. He is not be released until I have had a chance to question him in private.”“Yes ma’am.” The guards answered in unison as they walked one to each side of Admiral Falun and escorted him out of the room. Counsellor Hardeto remained standing until the door had closed and then she picked up her chair and sat back down at the table, smoothing out her robes as she did so. She fixed her gaze on Admiral Georgio for just a brief instant before looking back down at her notepad.
“Ma’am, I wish to speak on my behalf before you start asking questions or making groundless accusations.” Admiral Georgio spoke up after a few moments of silence in the room.
“Do you? Well then, please do go ahead Admiral.” Counsellor Hardeto pressed her fingers together and smiled politely.“Thank you. I’m not entirely sure of what questions you will be asking me, but I would like to state for the record that Special Forces is not the department that is charged with first contact situations, we were, however, asked to assist E&E to the best of our abilities. We provided assistance in all ways asked of us and that is the extent of involvement in this issue. Anything else above or beyond that is not something I am aware of.” Admiral Georgio spared a glance for the four people seated across from her before continuing.
“Further to this, if there has been any misconduct within my office be sure that I shall be the first to call for a full internal inquiry in to such things and those responsible for any misdoing will be held fully accountable for their actions. You have my word on that Counsellor.” Admiral Georgio leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms as she waited for a response.“I see. So you will deny all personal knowledge of wrong-doing?” Counsellor Hardeto glanced at her notepad again. “You know nothing of illegal monitoring of citizens, threatening behavior, or potentially treasonous behavior from your department?”
“I was under the belief that I ran a tight ship ma’am. Apparently that is not so and those who may be responsible for such activates will need to be found so that they may answer for their crimes. I hate to think that there are such people under my command, but it appears that it must be so.” Admiral Georgio pursed her lips and then frowned.“I see. Then I suppose I have no further questions for you. Is there anything you would like to ask or say as part of this discussion?” Counsellor Hardeto didn’t sound very pleased to be stepping back on this matter, but even Hans could tell she had no other option in this situation.
“None ma’am. I would like to be dismissed as I have much to do to correct the wrongs that have been brought to my attention unless you require my presence for the rest of this inquiry?” Admiral Georgio had already started pushing back her chair before she received an answer.“Your presence will not be required. Please do be aware that you may be summoned at a later day for further questioning.” Counsellor Hardeto stood at the same time as Admiral Gerogio who bowed her head in respect before walking out of the room. Once again, the Counsellor waited until the doors had closed before sitting down again.
“Well then, that is going to leave me with quite a few mysteries on my plate to sum up. I must say, Altheia, that I am actually quite impressed with the amount of information that your organization provided me with. I was actually able to find quite a bit more information beyond what you had, but then I probably have a higher security clearance than most of your informants.” Counsellor Hardeto smiled and seemed to relax now that it was just them in the room.“We do try our best, but it can be a hard job fighting corruption from within.” Altheia smiled leaned across the table. “I’m glad it was you doing this investigation cuz.”
“Like it could be anyone else. I must say I was surprised to see you here.” Counsellor Hardeto laughed and leaned over the table to give Altheia a kiss on her cheek.“So you too are related?” Hans asked.
“Distantly, it’s a bit of a long story, but we both have a very similar interest of keeping the citizens of the United Planet safe. Although, I just chose to do so through more official means than her.” Counsellor Hardeto sighed. “I would have preferred for her to have taken a more sanctioned route to her passion, but it looks like her choice of direction has become a useful one.”“So glad I can be of use to you Maki.” Altheia rolled her eyes.
“Sorry to interrupt this wonderful little reunion, but what happens now? I was all prepared to defend myself and my actions.” Hans could feel his heart beat a frantic pace in his chest, but he kept his excitement hidden for now. All he was doing was guessing at what was happening, he needed to hear someone say it.“Now, you four are going to be working closely with me and my staff. We have an alien invasion heading this way and that takes priority over many things. You are currently our resident experts on this threat and I am a woman who makes use of all resources – no matter what.” Counsellor Hardeto stood up and held out her hand.
Hans stood as well and took her hand in his own. “I am very honoured by this Counsellor and I look forward to working with you.”Duke and Honora stood as well each taking her hand in turn. Honora mumbled a barely audible ‘thanks’ as she did so. Duke was far less reserved with his words. “Well, ma’am, I had been prepared for many potential outcomes for this meeting, but you have surprised me. Not too many people do that and you’ve earned my respect.”
“I appreciate that Duke. You don’t strike me as a man who pays such compliments regularly.” Counsellor Hardeto smiled and clasped both of her hands around his for a moment.“You all will need to be sworn in to your new positions. We have a lot to do to be ready for these Afoixox.” Counsellor Hardeto started walking towards the door, but stopped so quick that Honora almost walked right into her. “And before I forget, I think we will need to make a more official first contact with Shai Halad in short order.”
“That can be arranged ma’am.” Hans said.“Good. Then let’s go prepare for war.” Counsellor Hardeto said, her face grave as she led them out of the room.
*gasp* This is it, the last installment of this novel. If you liked it, let me know. Part 2: A History of War is being worked on, but as of the time of my writing this (June 4, 2014). I also haven't made any decisions about posting part 2 or the pdf of part one yet either since I haven't heard any feedback at this point. So post something if you want more Blood on the Stars.