The Grand Hotel in Muktara City was one of the most luxurious on Huja, which made it one of the most luxurious in the galaxy. The best rooms, for the most prestigious or most high-paying guests, are in the three top floors. Yuri was in one of those rooms with her date.
He poured glasses of wine for both of them. Yuri caught a glimpse of the bottle, and saw it was of an excellent vintage.
The man brought the wine over to Yuri, who was sitting on the couch. "I hope you don't mind. I gave my man the night off. I thought we might want some alone time."
Yuri regarded him. He was an older man, old enough to be her father, but he oozed charm, and had an easy, relaxed way around people. Especially women, which was part of the reason so many had voted for him in the last election. The other part of the reason was that he was a long-time politician, with seniority on the Hujan council, and so was in an ideal position to take care of his constituents. He also happened to be the head of the loyal opposition on Huja. "Alone time sounds fine." She smiled sweetly.
"So you were telling me that you've been in Muktara for only a few days?"
"Yes, I was hoping to find work. I was involved in the local campaigns back home, and I decided to see if I could get an internship here."
"There are a number of internships open, especially for a talented girl like you. There's a lot of competition, though."
"Yes, I heard that it's easier if you have a sponsor."
The man took a sip from his wine glass. "I might be able to help with that. But, dinner first. I'll go check on it." He got up and went to the kitchen.
Yuri's earring hissed in her ear as soon as the politician left the room. "Enjoying yourself?"
Yuri turned to speak into her earring. "As it turns out, yes."
Kei was in the room right below theirs, watching the goings on with an infrared scope. "I can't believe you like this sleazeball."
"You've been hearing him. He's quite charming."
"Quite oily, is more like it. Look, we've got him alone, he's unmonitored by anyone else. Tell him."
"Tell him now!"
"Not yet, it's not the right time."
"Yuri, if you let this go beyond dinner, I'll…" Kei broke off as the man came back into the living room.
"Dinner's ready. Shall we?" He offered his arm, which Yuri took, and led her into the dining room.
Dinner consisted of a fine brisket, generous helpings of Ionian potatoes and Mrubic beans, and more of the excellent wine. The politician did most of the talking, regaling Yuri (and Kei) with some of the more interesting tales of life in the Council. Yuri had never been very interested in politics, and so was surprised to find herself listening intently to every word.
Once dinner was over, the man took Yuri by the hand and said, "Perhaps now we can discuss a sponsorship." He led her back to the living room.
Kei spoke into her mike. "Yuri, now."
"Do you know someone that might be willing to help me?"
"I think I could. As a matter of fact, I know of a position in my own office that's been tragically unfilled for many weeks now."
Kei was getting agitated. "Yuri, I'm warning you."
"Oh, Councilman, I couldn't ask you to do that."
"Nonsense. You're obviously a lady with intelligence and drive, and I have many needs you'd be ideal for."
Kei heard the tone of Yuri's voice, and her patience finally ran out. "Oh, forget this!" she said, leaping up from the bed and grabbing her gun. She got her room key, went out into the hall, and charged up the stairs, all the while yelling, "No-no-no-no-no-no!" She reached the room, and kicked in the door. She found the man and Yuri on the couch, obviously just having been in the middle of a kiss. The man stood up, placing himself between Kei and Yuri in a protective stance. Kei held her gun at her side, but gripped it tightly. She said, "All right, Yuri, it's over. Step away from the geezer, slowly."
"Kei, why do you have to spoil all my dates?"
The old man looked back at Yuri, then at Kei. "Wait a minute. Yuri? And Kei? Why, you two are the—"
"Don't say it!" the two women yelled simultaneously.
"—Lovely Angels," the man completed his sentence. "That is your official name, isn't it? So much more fitting than the other. I hate the name, 'Dirty Pair'"
Kei holstered her weapon. "Wow. You were right, Yuri. He is kind of charming."
Yuri leaned into her date as she looked at Kei. "Told you," she said to her partner.
Kei pulled a data rod out of her pouch and held it up. "Mr. Councilman, I am sorry to interrupt, but I have something you might be interested in."
An hour later, the councilman got up from his workstation and walked back to the couch where the Lovely Angels were sitting. He handed the data rod back to Yuri with a rueful smile. "Not exactly the way I expected this night to go."
Yuri took the rod. "I hope that isn't too much of a disappointment."
The councilman looked straight at Yuri. "Actually, it's a very grave disappointment. In fact," he sat down next to her, "I would never forgive myself if I didn't ask you out to dinner again."
"Well, I'd never forgive myself if I didn't say yes."
Kei interjected. "Yeah, yeah, whatever. So," she said, looking at the councilman, "can you use the info?"
The councilman nodded. "Oh, I can use it. I assume you'd like no mention of where this came from?"
"Right. 3WA wants its name left out."
"I have some sources I've used before. I'm sure they won't mind taking credit. And now that you've shown me where to look, I'm sure we'll find even more evidence." He stood up. "Thank you so much, ladies. Remind me never to get on your bad side." The girls stood up as well. "So, are you going back now?"
"Actually, there's someone we need to see first."
The next afternoon, the Hujan Presidential Office was a hive of activity. The new revelations about the war on Ikaria had broken like a thunderstorm, and everyone was running around for cover. The president was on the phone with one of his advisors. "Yes, I know, Ed. Oh, of course not! You know me better than that! Well, just-. Damnit, Ed, just handle it, OK!" He slammed the phone down.
The door opened and his aide came in. "Sir?"
The president sighed. "What now?"
"Sir, some reporters are still out there."
"You gave them our statement, right?"
"Yes, but they're not buying it. Maybe we should-"
"What do you mean, they're not buying it? I'm not some criminal trying to come up with an alibi, I'm the President! Tell 'em that!"
"Yessir." The aide scurried out. A few minutes, later, the president heard two female voices behind him.
"Gee, Mr, President, you're seeming a little high-strung."
"Maybe you should have a glass of goma juice. That always calms me down."
The President turned to see Kei and Yuri lounging on the couch. The guard who had been standing by the wall was unconscious on the floor. "How did you get in?"
Kei sat up. "We've had to break into a wide variety of places, Mr. President. With all due respect, this was no great challenge."
"You know, you'd think that security would be tighter, considering what happened to the last President."
"I guess it's hard to find good help these days."
The president remained seated. "Look, I'm very busy. What do you want?"
Kei looked at Yuri, then back at the president. "Oh, nothing. Just thought we'd say hi; how're you doing?"
"This isn't a good time."
"Oh, and Councilor C------ says hello."
The president was silent for a moment as he made the connection. "You two! You gave him the information! I was wondering how that pervert found out so much so fast."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Was the truth supposed to be a secret?" Kei stood up to walk over to the president's desk. She idly picked up a photo and looked at it.
"You ladies just don't understand. Ikaria was a threat to us, especially with the War against the Syndicate. We had no choice."
"It's a backwater. How much of a threat could it have been?" asked Yuri.
The president held up his finger for emphasis. "Exactly! A backwater. Do you realize they've been a backwater ever since the planet was settled? They've never had elections in their history. They were constantly under the influence of this power or that, until everyone just forgot about them and the Syndicate moved in. Now, they're no longer in control, and we're planning on elections next year. In a few years, they'll finally join the ranks of the civilized planets of this galaxy."
Kei put the photo down. "What about the fighting? How many people are going to wind up dying for those elections?"
"Syndicate thugs and a few people they were able to fool with their lies. A small price to pay. Ikaria will be a shining beacon for democracy and peace in the galaxy. You'll see, and you'll wish you hadn't stood against me. You'll see that I was right!"
"Fine, Mr. President. Maybe you're right. Maybe this will be a turning point in Ikarian history. Maybe Ikaria will hail you as a hero in five years. Maybe they'll even build a statue of you in the center of the capital. But that's not the issue. How we feel about the invasion is not why we blew the whistle." Kei leaned in closer, and spoke softly. "You lied to us, Mr. President."
"You lied. And we really don't like being used."
Kei got up from the desk as Yuri stood up. They went to the window and put on their jetpacks that they had stashed behind the couch. "The truth will ouch, Mr. President," Kei said, just before she and Yuri flew off.
The door burst open, and several guards ran in, followed by the president's aide. "Sir, are you all right?"
"It's all right, I'm fine."
"Sorry, sir, but the security monitors for this section went out. When we couldn't contact the agent here, we came as fast as we could."
An agent came up. "Sir, we can still catch the assailants. I'll order a pursuit."
"No," said the president.
"Let them go, it's all right." The president looked out the window at a rapidly receding pair of 3WA agents. "When you get right down to it, they're good girls. They just don't understand the big picture."
Kei and Yuri sat at an outdoor table at a café downtown. They clinked their wine glasses in a toast. "All right! I'd call that a job well done," said Kei.
"Um hmmm. So, Kei, the chief gave us three days off. Where do you want to go?"
"Not sure. I was thinking we could visit Tim in the hospital? It's not far from here."
"I wouldn't dream of being a third wheel! Why don't I just leave you two alone? Maybe you can help him with his rehab."
"Why, thanks Yu--. Wait a minute. Why are you being so nice?
Yuri shrugged her shoulders innocently.
"Uh huh. You just want me out of the way, so you can see that geezer again!"
Yuri put on her innocent face. "Whatever could you mean?"
"You're hopeless, Yuri!"
I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing it. The Dirty Pair's, er, Lovely Angels', dialogue was an absolute joy to write. The subject of this story was partly inspired by the Dirty Pair story, War, by MegelomaniacUrashima. I was originally going to finish this by Election Day, 2006, but it was delayed. Fortunately, the good guys won anyway. Politics aside, I hope you enjoyed the story. Thanks a lot for reading, and please review! Reviews are air and water to writers.