Chapter 8 - A Series Of Shocks
1 Hour Ago - New Praetoria
It was a mild day, but at least the sky was clear. New Praetoria’s extreme inclination and twin suns made for some stunning sunsets, especially given todays was at 11pm at night. The lounge was practically empty, as most had either planted themselves at their desks for a night burning the midnight oil, or had long ago made the commute home. While those in the control room, handling all ships in the sector, had sent an intern down to pick up 8 hours worth of donuts and no less than 12 litres of coffee and tea.
Baltec sat in the corner, with a perfect view as the first sun began to transit the horizon, giving a flash as the sea finally swallowed the star. The second weaker light would keep the surface in twilight for a bit longer. A grandfather clock, stood in the opposite corner. Cast from aluminium, with an intricately weaved shell, it’s pendulums swang in precise timing as governed by its internal nuclear clock, such a retro-chic device was lovely to look at if ultimately useless. When you place a computer in everyones brain, its amazing what you can do. Baltec knew the time was 11:03 and 15.725 seconds, the same way he knew that 1+1 was 2, he didn’t even need to think, it came to him as naturally as breathing.
“Sir, I’m off now, can I get you anything before I go?”
The bar lady called across to Baltec, the rows of glasses she had been cleaning neatly stacked.
“Ah, Two Liqueurs if you would Dianne.”
“Got company then sir, Should I turn off the security feeds then?”
“I’d appreciate it, as always the envelopes in the usual place.”
Baltec and Dianne had an agreement, he’d ‘rent’ out her bar after hours, and while it was on the 72nd floor of them Fleet Command headquarters, the security feed was still under her control. It was the perfect place for off the record activity, not only was it plain sight, but an off duty Admiral walking out a private lounge after hours was nothing out of the ordinary.
Twenty minutes passed, but still no one came. The final star had begun its dive over the horizon, it’s blue glow turning the sea a crystal blue.
Baltec glanced over his shoulder at the wreck of a man in the doorway. His hair was dreadlocked, down to waist height, as if it had never been cut in his life. His coat marked with obvious weapon shots, shoulder, hip, one that looked spectacularly close to his right lung.
“And you’re Hanzer? I expected slightly more low key.”
“Do you have the R7770?”
Baltec produced a small padded package from his satchel bag, placing it carefully on the table.
“I have no clue how you know about that, even I had to look it up. You must be doing some serious freedom fighting to need a weapon like that, anyway, do you have the information?”
In turn Hanzer produced a ring, passing it to Baltec, Hanzer reached for the package, but was cautioned away.
“Not until I know it’s good.”
Baltec slipped on the ring, it crackled as contacts on its inner surface made contact with his nerves, transferring data like a USB stick. He convulsed in shock. Slamming his fist into the table, both drinks getting a good bit of air with the sheer force.
“The info is good, but not in that sense. If you’re satisfied, I’ll be leaving.”
“Yeah, you had better leave.”
Baltec planted his head in his hands, his fingers gently massaging his bald head in an attempt to relieve the stress.
The thoughts were ones of dreading what was to come, and of a deep sickness. He couldn’t believe how those scientist types had so flippantly gambled with lives needlessly, and were doing it again. A new thought emerged, how would he stop this? There was only one option.
“Newton, put me on to Control”
“Control, this is Admiral Baltec Retrii, I hate to do this to you on grave.”
“OK Admiral, what is it?”
“I’m going to need the whole of the 3rd Home Fleet combat ready, in 6 hours”
“Sir say again?”
“You heard me, and I’m going to need a flight from here to the Ministry of Order in two minutes. Were going into E/D operations, so call in in more staff, and get it done. Retrii out.”
One of the deadliest bluffs ever played was about to be called.