“Amy? Amy where are you?”
There was a brief scramble of static from the speaker. Then Amy’s voice came through.
“I’m in an observation lounge on the third level. Number 3016.”
“How do I get there? I think I’m lost.”
“Well first you have to find an elevator. Come up to the third level. Then you… Are you at one of the locator panels?”
“Okay. Hit ‘MENU’ then hit ‘FIND’. You got that?”
“Got it. I see a list of departments: Bridge, Engineering, Medical…”
“Right. See the little keyboard logo in the lower right corner? Tap that and a keyboard will display. Type in ‘Amy’ and the map will show you the way.”
“I see. So the computer knows where you are.”
“As long as I log my location.”
“I’ll be there shortly.”
Sam walked into the lounge and was greeted by a transparent wall that dominated the room. He was brought up short by the immensity of the view.
He walked to the wall and stood there, hands clasped behind his back.
Amy was sitting on a sofa facing the wall. She patted the space beside her.
“Come sit beside me.”
“Wow. Is that a binary star system?”
“Come sit beside me.”
“Wow. Look at this and you could almost get the feeling God is watching.”
“Well if a girl had romantic intentions that would just about kill them.”
Sam turned slowly. “Romantic intentions?”
Amy folded her arms and looked at the floor. Sam crossed to the sofa and sat down beside her. He leaned in and kissed her, a soft, lingering kiss. “Forget I said anything.”
“Well I don’t see how I can…”
He kissed her again, this time a deep thirsty kiss, filled with promise. He leaned back. Amy’s eyes met his.
Outside, the twin suns continued their eternal dance, embraced in ethereal arms of plasma.
The Scarecrow sat at his desk, his fingers poised over the keyboard as he scanned the words on the screen. A single note dinged.
The door panel slid back and Captain Rice entered. He took a seat on the sofa as the door slid silently shut.
“Working on your report?”
The Scarecrow continued to stare at the screen.
“Don’t see many using a keyboard anymore.”
“More secure. And more precise. I’m old school.”
Silence for a few endless seconds. Then Scarecrow rotated his chair to face the Captain.
“You should know that I consider the performance of you and your crew to be exemplary. Intelligent, resourceful, inventive. I can’t think of one misstep in this mission. My report will reflect that.”
Captain Rice waited for the rest of it.
“However you should know that some of my colleagues only see failure as failure. I can’t do anything about that.”
Rice stood up and walked toward the door. The door slid open but he stopped short of leaving the room. He turned back to Scarecrow and looked at him.
“What can you tell me about what just happened? What’s going on?”
“I can’t tell you anything. Whatever I could tell you you are better off not knowing anyway.”
Rice stood in the middle of the room, in no hurry to leave.
Scarecrow eyed him carefully. Finally he motioned for Rice to sit back down.
“Over the last one hundred and fifty years there has been a increasing number of people who have escaped Earth. They call it emigration, colonizing, pioneering. At first it was to known habitable worlds and we could keep tabs on them, keep them under authority, even tax them. But then they began to leave and just disappear. We think they have discovered new worlds we don’t know anything about.”
“Why is that a problem? Let them go and more power to them. Leaves more room for the rest of us.”
“There are some who say that. There are others who say that these colonies will one day be our competition. They will be unencumbered by a vast population that must be cared for and kept placated. They will be the death of us.”
“There are others who say these colonists are not what they seem, that they are not so innocent. There are those who think there is a military organization behind this, that they are stockpiling arms, that they will one day come back and destroy us.”
“There is a secret arm of the military that is tasked with finding these rebels and wiping them out. The ship we were chasing was to be the prototype of a new fighting machine: highly configurable, troop transport, cargo vessel, gunship. Rapid deployment. They were in the process of building a fleet of them when Devareux got wind of it and shut them down.”
“So how did this one get out?”
“Some think Devareux had something to do with it. Some think Devareux is behind the rebels.”
“I don’t see how that makes any sense. What do you think?”
Scarecrow shrugged. I don’t know. I know these are all possibilities. I can’t be sure about any of it. But I have suspicions.”
Rice looked at him, waiting.
“I’m Central Intelligence. It’s what I do. It’s my job.”
“To have suspicions.”
“So we got away?” They sat at the bar in a large empty cafe. Amy was nursing a cappuccino. Sam had a large frosty glass of iced tea. Amy looked at Sam, waiting for an answer.
“Eddie says so. He says we should lay low here for a week just to make sure. We can stockpile some of the electromagnetic energy coming out of that binary star. We can use the sail when we do leave. Make it even harder for somebody to spot us.” Sam took a big gulp of tea. Amy sipped her coffee. She looked at the two of them in the mirror behind the bar.
Sam turned and faced the mirror. “I think two weeks would be better. Give us time to explore the ship, find out what else she’s capable of.”
“That sounds good to me. I found the Bible in the archives. I’d like to read it. Find out what my great grandmother saw in it.”
Sam shrugged. “Just another one of those twentieth century religions.”
Amy gave him a sidelong look. “You think so? I don’t know. After what we’ve come through…”
“So thinking divine intervention?”
“You have to wonder…”
They looked at each other in the mirror for a while.
“You going to tell me?”
“Tell you what?”
“You know. The computer codes. The money. The ship.” She paused, turned to look at Sam. “The letters of transit.” Sam kept facing the mirror.
“The signatures. Everything. Everything I don’t know.”
“I thought it was best that you don’t know the details. I case you were…” He turned to face her.
“Yes, interrogated. If anybody got caught I wanted it to be just me. Me only. Not you.”
“I appreciate the thought. I think I need to clear something up here. I’m in all the way. Always have been. I want to have as much on the line as you do. I don’t want protection if it means separation. Got it?”
Sam’s crooked grin. “Got it.”
“Tell me. I want details.”
Sam heaved a sigh. He stared at Amy for a long moment. Then he turned back to the mirror.
“Devareux is my father.” A long pause.
“I’m one of many by many different women. I like to think my mother was special but maybe not.”
Amy put a hand on his knee, a shocked look on her face.
“I’ve never met him. Never talked to him. Never talked to anybody who’s ever talked to him as far as I know.”
“So how did you…?”
“Anonymous e-mails. Stuff just showed up. In my desk drawer. My jacket pockets. The silverware drawer in my apartment. That’s where the letters of transit showed up.”
“So are heir to…”
“Heir to nothing. If I am I don’t want it. Being Devareux’s son just puts you in the cross hairs. The way Devareux is in the cross hairs. Who knows? Maybe that’s why he helped us.”
“You think it was him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” Sam looked Amy in the eyes. “Somebody did.”