The Lesser of Two Evils - Part 1
An Earth - Final Conflict story by Tina Price
Preview: Should over two million people be sacrificed on the off-chance that it might mean the survival of many more?
Disclaimer: Earth - Final Conflict and all characters therein are the property of the Tribune Entertainment Company.
Author's note: This story is based upon my own idea of what is actually going on in the EFC universe. I am in no way receiving 'privileged information'. As always, advice, criticism and kudos are always welcomed. Please contact me at the above e-mail address.
of the Taelon Synod
Wednesday, May 6th
13:52 Hours EST
"...And so, my fellows
and I have concluded that the only way to avoid this disaster is to intercept
5847 before the humans are even aware of the danger."
"We thank you, Bah'em. The Synod will consult with you again once we have reached a decision." Quo'on gestured gracefully with one hand as soon as Bah'em nodded his understanding, causing the data stream which had projected the Taelon Scientist's image to collapse instantly.
Quo'on, the Synod Leader, turned his head to take in as many of his fellow members as possible.
"It is as we feared," he entoned as he tilted his head downward in a gesture of regret. "We are unable to do as Bah'em wishes without great risk to ourselves and the majority of the humans... and yet, to do nothing will result in heavy loss of life."
"Of human life," Zo'or put in.
"It matters not," a third Taelon said. "They are sentient beings..."
"..and they are critical to our future survival," Quo'on followed up.
"They can hardly blame us for something which is, as they say, an act of nature..." Zo'or continued, uncowed.
Quo'on changed the subject. "Bah'em's projections show that Eh'har's protectorate shall suffer the most."
"Shall we recall him now?" yet another Taelon asked.
"It would raise unnecessary questions," Zo'or reminded them. "I suggest that we not inform Eh'har at this time."
"If we are to follow this course of inaction, we should inform Eh'har," the third Taelon said. "He might be able to evacuate some of his protectorate using false pretenses."
"The humans are likely to see through any such pretense," Quo'on responded. "Eh'har, like Da'an, is very protective of his charges. We shall not inform him of this event until he learns of it from the humans."
For the next forty seconds no Synod member spoke.
"Very well," Quo'on said, breaking the seeming silence. "We shall inform only our key companions on Earth of the situation."
The Synod meeting came to an end.
RING! Boone fumbled
around in the dark and managed to snag the phone as it began to tumble off the
end table. "Yeah?" was all he could manage to mumble into the
"It's Lili. Jonathan is asking for you. You'd better hurry."
"What is so urgent that..." he began, but Lili cut him off.
"Just get dressed. I'll be by in a short while to pick you up!!" she clicked off before he could respond.
Boone replaced the phone, glanced at the clock and groaned. He had been busy handling last minute security arrangements for Da'an's visit to Hawaii and had only gotten to bed a little over an hour ago.
Although Hawaii was still a part of the United States, it fell under the jurisdiction of a Companion named Eh'har, whose protectorate also included China, Russia, Japan and the Philippines. Once a year, Da'an and Eh'har conferred, sharing long term goals and jointly solving any problems which arose and pertained to the fiftieth state. Boone just hoped that Doors was not going to try to get him to help sabotage the meeting...
Less than an hour later he
arrived at the Resistance Headquarters, care of Taelon shuttle technology. Lili
had refused to talk while they were in transit and he knew from her demeanor
that whatever was going on was pretty serious.
"Boone, get over here!" Doors bellowed as soon as they entered the main underground area. "What have you got?" he asked as he drew closer to the group huddled around the main view screen.
"Our operatives over at NASA have just notified us of a discovery of dire proportions." Doors blew his breath out as though he were having trouble composing himself. He tried to continue, but instead just pointed at the computer-animated astrological chart up on the view screen.
Boone's implant allowed him to interpret the display in under five seconds, and yet he was so taken aback by the ramifications of the event being depicted, that he took an extra two seconds to double check the read-out.
"My God..." he breathed. "Where did this thing come from?"
"Our astronomer friends aren't exactly sure, but they theorize that this is an object which has somehow been deflected from its usual trajectory out in the Kuiper Belt," Augur explained as he approached from behind the group.
Boone had not even realized that he was there until he spoke. The implant took a few seconds to search his memory for mention of Kuiper Belt objects.
The belt occurred in a region of space beyond the orbit of the planet Neptune. Even the Hubbell Space Telescope had difficulty picking them up, mostly due to interference of other objects which passed between the telescope and the belt - objects like debris, planets, asteroids and moons.
It was only a few years back, on August 22, 1994 that Hubbell had definitely identified such an object. Believed to be an icy comet nucleus several miles across, the object was so distant and faint that Hubbell's search was the equivalent of finding the proverbial needle-in-a-haystack.
Astronomers had since identified twenty nine candidate comet nuclei belonging to an estimated population of two hundred million particles orbiting the edge of our solar system.
"I take it that NASA believes it to be one of the twenty nine identified comet nuclei," Boone ground out, drawing several double-takes from the people standing around him.
"An implant is a wonderful thing..." Augur nearly drooled as he looked at Boone with undisguised envy.
"Yeah? Let's hear you say that when mine burns out." Boone was unable to keep the bitterness from his voice, causing Augur to actually look regretful of his poorly chosen words.
"Listen man, I'm sorry. I..."
"Forget it," the security chief snapped. "We have better things to discuss right now." He studied the view screen for another few seconds and then turned toward Doors. "I assume that NASA is certain that it's going to impact our planet?"
"Pretty sure from what I hear."
"Why didn't they pick this up before now?" another Resistance member asked.
"Our contact says that it was just bad luck - too many other planetary bodies screening the object until just two days ago. Which brings me to a question that I would really like to have answered..." Doors stared directly at Boone. "The Taelons had to have known of this before we did. Why haven't they said anything? Are they keeping this to themselves for some reason?"
"That's two questions," Boone smiled before becoming serious again. "In all honesty, I have no idea why they've kept silent...Perhaps they wanted us to make the discovery?"
"Boone..." Lili shot him a deadly look. "You know there's more to it than that! This newborn comet could be the death of us all and thanks to the Taelons shutting down all our aerospace programs and severely restricting NASA, we have no way to defend against it!"
"They can't just let us die, Lili. They need us for some reason." Boone did his best to calm all those around him. It would be best if they didn't start jumping to wild conclusions. "I'm sure that they can destroy this hunk of ice - they're probably not even worried about it yet..."
"I hope you're right," Doors said sourly, "or no one will be left alive to really care why they're here."
"Will NASA go public with this or are they going to try to avoid causing a panic?" the tall ex-cop asked.
"Looks like they're going to release this as soon as they're certain of where the comet is going to hit. By the way, did I mention that it's due to impact on July 18th?"
"No you didn't." Boone placed his fists on his hips. "Let me get up with Da'an on this and see if he can shed some light on what's going on here."
"Are you crazy?" Lily stared at him. "How will you explain to him that you know about this before anybody else?"
"Hey," Boone spread his arms in a shrug. "I AM the head of his Security - I'll think of something."
As he headed for the door with Lili in tow, Doors called out after him. "Just try to get back to us on this before July 18th!"
The Taelon implant winced and continued out.
"Think he'll dig up anything useful?" Augur asked.
"Probably. He and that Taelon are getting a bit too chummy if you ask me," Doors said with a scowl. He glanced at the view screen one more time, turned on his heel and left for his office. He had to pass this information on to other key operatives in the hopes that they could all come up with some contingency plan.
William Boone entered an
upper chamber of the Taelon Embassy, only one of two humans with the freedom to
do so at any hour. He found Da'an reclined in his chair, a stream of flowing,
sparking blue energy enveloping him.
The security chief stood silently at a distance, unwilling to interrupt the North American Companion. He wasn't sure if Da'an was sleeping, recharging, absorbing information or perhaps doing all three at once. One thing was certain. The companion always seemed aware of Boone's presence and this time was no exception. Within two minutes of his entrance, Da'an sat up as the blue energy stream faded from sight.
"I sense your turmoil," Da'an murmured as he gestured toward his implant. "...and you have not rested. Please, tell me what it is that troubles you so."
"I have just learned of the approach of a comet which is going to impact this planet. Why haven't your people mentioned anything about this?"
Da'an's mouth became a thin line and he tilted his head backward as though looking down his nose at Boone. It was a posture which instantly set off the warning bells in the security chief's mind. Although the two of them had reached an understanding, there could be little doubt that the interests of Da'an's species still came first.
"How is it that you have gained this knowledge and at an hour such as this?" Da'an asked with an expression of distrust.
"Every good cop has his connections. I wouldn't be of much use to you without them." Boone attempted to put Da'an more at ease. "Please, Da'an, that your people kept this to themselves was one thing, but why couldn't you have shared this information with me? Something is wrong - I can see it in your posture. What is it?"
Da'an seemed to relax and nodded almost imperceptibly.
"You must understand the delicacy of my position, Boone. There is much which I may not impart to you because of the direct orders of my superiors."
"Moreover, my very thoughts threaten to betray us." The pale, exotic alien rose from his chair and approached his security chief. "Come. Let us ascend to a different chamber," he said as he gestured briefly toward a ramp which ran up the side of the room.
The two of them moved slowly up the incline, Boone intentionally pacing himself so that Da'an would not tire himself. Beneath the suit he wore, Boone knew that Da'an was in fact a thin, weak being, unused to the gravity of this planet. He had long suspected that the suit was an exo- skeletal structure which provided Da'an with the strength he needed to survive here. All the Taelon Companions stationed upon Earth wore them.
They eventually entered a small chamber which Boone had never seen before. Situated at the top of the Taelon structure, it had virtual glass walls nearly completely circumscribing its round structure. Even the ceiling was clear. There were five small Taelon-style chairs arranged in a circle at the room's center with a data stream portal dead center of them.
Da'an seated himself and gestured for Boone to take the seat next to him. With a wave of his arm, the companion commanded the virtual glass to disappear, letting the cool morning breeze into the room.
Boone sighed as the scents carried by the fresh air reached his nose.
Da'an smiled briefly. "It is lovely, is it not?" He received a nod from his implant and continued. "Your planet is so different from my own...strange to me, and yet beautiful, even to my people..."
"Your...people are not going to stop this comet, are they?"
"You have a rare gift for understanding." Da'an turned his bluer-than-human eyes upon Boone's own.
"When was the Synod first aware of this danger and why are they unwilling to help us?" Boone's confusion was clearly evident in his tone of voice.
"By 'us', I assume you mean your fellow humans." Da'an almost, but not quite brushed Boone's hand with his own. "As my implant, it is more important now than ever that you take care not to associate yourself with your world, rather than with the companions." Seeing that his implant was about to object, Da'an cut him off. "I remind you of this for both our sakes..."
Boone swallowed. Da'an had warned him once of just what would happen if the Synod discovered that he had free will.
Da'an waved once more, causing a data stream to begin its cascade before them. It displayed time-lapse graphics of the approaching comet which ended with it crashing into the pacific ocean right off the coast of Hawaii's smallest major island, Lanai. The graphics switched to the likely scenario to follow, as tidal waves enveloped two thirds of the island chain and caused the long dormant, Haleakala volcano, the largest such volcano in the world, to erupt violently. It also projected that Haleakala's eruption would in turn trigger the normally placid Kilauea volcano to blow itself sky high. Little of the existing island chain would remain habitable. Taelon symbols under the image estimated the death toll at over two million people.
"The Synod means to stand by and allow this to happen??" Boone spat out in disbelief. "Why?"
"The Synod did not reach this decision lightly, Boone." Da'an looked down at the floor. "They conclude that the deaths of millions is far preferable to the alternative..."
"That in our desire to save these lives, we unwittingly forfeit the entire planet and ourselves."
Boone stared at Da'an in speechless dismay. The alien's normally calm blue eyes were phosphorescing with some strong emotion which he could not identify. Was it sympathy, or was it fear?
"You're telling me that the greatest danger comes from elsewhere, aren't you?"
Boone received a nod from Da'an. He shifted restlessly in his seat, his anxiety over the comet and the intense stare of the companion making him fidget. Still Da'an stared unblinkingly at him, as a thought came almost unbidden to his mind. 'He wants me to ask him something,' Boone realized.
"Please...tell me how your people would destroy this comet, if they chose to," he asked.
Da'an seemed to relax, as the glow suddenly left his eyes.
"One of our ships would...for want of a better human word... vaporize it using a weapon, the likes of which you could not hope to comprehend."
"But that weapon might also draw the attention of a third party?"
Boone rose quickly to his feet and began pacing back and forth before the data stream as Da'an sat motionless, save for the restless motion of his fingers and his eyes, which tracked his implant's movements.
Suddenly Boone halted and approaching Da'an, crouched down before him.
"Da'an, if the Synod does nothing to stop this disaster, they might as well just call it quits now and announce their presence here to Mr. Bugey man or whoever the hell it is that has them so frightened!"
Boone reached out and grasping the arms of the companion's chair, gave it a shake. "If the Synod allows this to happen - if they do nothing - there is not a human on this planet who will welcome your kind again!"
Seeing the look upon the companion's face, he continued. "The fight will be over with before it's even begun. You want our help with what lies ahead? You want humans to risk themselves on your behalf? Then you must be willing to risk something on our behalf as well!"
"Da'an!" Boone shifted his grasp to the Taelon's forearms. "If your people destroy the comet and attract this third party's attention, at least you will have won the gratitude of my species. Your good deeds will gain you more support than any subterfuge you have so far undertaken."
Done making his plea, Boone stared at his improbable friend and awaited his decision.
He did not have to wait long.
Da'an moved his hands so that they in turn gripped Boone's forearms. "Boone...your words carry the truth, as they have time and again. I do believe you to be right in this matter, however I am not the Synod and I do know them well enough to know that they shall not reverse their decision..."
"Da'an, you can't..." Boone began, but was cut off.
"Please allow me to finish," the Taelon blushed blue and paused to compose himself. "I will appeal to the Synod...but I recommend that you implement a secondary course of action."
Before the security chief could speak, Da'an slowly brought his left hand up and placed it, palm down, on Boone's forehead.
A sudden flood of visual images and ideas assailed him - a veritable hurricane of confusing memory which made the room reel and his stomach churn. It ended as quickly as it had started.
Boone found himself laid out on the floor as Da'an watched him anxiously from his chair.
He sat up quickly and regretted it as he found himself in the midst of the worse hangover he could imagine. With a groan, he brought a hand to his head and met the worried eyes of his companion.
"What did you do?" he hissed out between clenched teeth.
"I regret that I have caused you pain." Da'an stood and extended a hand to help Boone up. With some effort he managed to get his implant back on his feet. "Go home, Boone. Sleep. I believe that you will contact me when you awaken."
Boone nodded. The companions words made perfect sense to him.
He needed to sleep.
"I better be going," he mumbled. "I need to go home and sleep."
"I understand," Da'an smiled. "We will talk more of this later."
Boone wheeled about and left the Taelon's presence, wondering why he had come here in the first place.
"So, what did he
say?" Lili asked as Boone positioned his restraints.
"He said to go home and get some rest." The security chief looked like he was about to pass out.
"I'll stop by again later today when I can think clearly."
Lili eyed him, worried by his appearance. "You look awfully pale. Are you all right?"
"Yeah...I...Da'an did something..." Boone rubbed his face and shook his head. "Just get me home, Lili. I promise to call you later on. Maybe some of this will make some sense then."
The no-nonsense ex-marine nodded and readied the shuttle for lift off. A few hours delay shouldn't really cause a problem and she doubted that Boone would be of any use in his present condition.
William Boone sat up and looked around in confusion. He had somehow managed to fall out of bed, something that he hadn't done since he was seven.
"What in the..."
He stopped as he began to remember the strange dream he had just had. It had seemed to go on forever, and now he was reliving it again in just seconds, due to his CVI.
"Da'an, you slick..." he grinned when the flashback ended.
With a bound he was at his data terminal and dialing his office.
"Lili! Come pick me up!" he greeted his assistant.
"Boone, is something wrong?" she asked, worried about the resistance's key operative.
"Far from it," he grinned. "Hurry. I'll tell you in the shuttle."
"In that case, I'm on my way!" Lili clicked off.
Boone was about to turn away from his terminal when another portion of his dream came vividly back to him.
In the dream, he had been standing before Da'an in the Taelon's 'office'.
"How will I know the entrance code? It's a Taelon lock-up." he had asked.
"Read the following stories again, Boone," Da'an had answered. He had then gone on to list them.
Boone stared down at his computer for a few seconds before bringing up a list of all the stories he had read with Da'an during his Eunoia lessons.
Of course! They were listed in the order in which he had learned them, so Da'an's list provided him with the code if he assigned each story a chronological number!
"Sweet!" he murmured and then ran for the bedroom so that he would be dressed when Lili arrived.
questioned as soon as Boone entered the shuttle.
He gestured for her to lift off and waited until they were in transit before answering.
"This morning Da'an informed me that the Taelons were aware of the approaching comet, but would not be doing anything to stop it from impacting this planet."
"What? My God, Doors was right about them...they're..."
"Lili. Lili!" he repeated, finally getting her attention. "The Taelons are afraid that if they stop the comet, they'll draw the attention of a third party...a very dangerous third party."
Lili looked over her shoulder at him, but remained speechless.
"Yeah, I reacted the same way," Boone admitted. "Da'an is on our side. He said that he'd try to talk Quo'on into changing his stance on this, but he also warned that he didn't believe that he would be able to do so."
"What are we going to do?" Lili asked. "We can't just stand by and let this happen." She paused a moment and then turned to glare at him. "Wait a minute! You implied that you had good news this morning!"
Boone nodded and grinned. "This morning, Da'an touched my forehead."
"Congratulations. I take it that means you two are engaged?"
Boone laughed. "Lili, when he touched me I saw things...but it was just too much to take in. I was literally knocked on my backside! As it was, I barely remember you taking me home..."
"Yeah, you looked pretty bad."
"Well, when I slept, it all came back to me." Boone leaned forward. "Lili, the Taelons have several of their weapons stashed here on Earth! They did this to leave themselves the option of a last strike from Earth, should the enemy take out their main ships." He stopped and waited for his words to sink in. As Lili's eyes widened, he continued. "My dream was incredibly realistic. In it, Da'an explained about the devices and showed me where they were located. He let me know that a Taelon shuttle - like this one - could deliver the weapon into the path of the comet."
"So...we have to steal a Taelon weapon and shuttle without getting caught and find someone who can not only pilot the shuttle, but is willing to sacrifice themselves. Oh, and let's not forget that we have to hope that the shuttle isn't intercepted in space by the Taelon fleet. No problem..." Lili blew her breath out.
"You left out one thing. We have to make sure that none of this is traced back to Da'an."
"Oh, of course!" Lili's full attention was drawn back to piloting the shuttle as it approached the Taelon embassy in DC. One minute later, she had it down on the ground.
Boone wasted no time in throwing off his restraints. "I'll be a while. Do me a favor - contact Doors and get him to assemble all our key personal. We're gonna need to do some serious planning once we rendezvous with the others."
"Will do. Just dial me up when you're ready to go. Oh, and while you're tied up, I'll stop and say hello to Sandoval. I'm looking forward to pulling his chain - it's been a while."
"Sounds like a plan." As he left the shuttle, Boone had to work hard at wiping the smile off his face.
It wouldn't do to give Sandoval advance warning of Lili's arrival.
The Taelon's human Security
chief and head of Interspecies Relations entered Da'an's presence, to find him
discussing business with Ronald Sandoval, late of the FBI.
Although Da'an nodded in acknowledgment of his implant's arrival, he did not bid him approach and so Boone remained near the door.
While he waited, he turned over in his mind, different potential plans for carrying out what could prove to be the only chance at life that those in Hawaii would get.
He was brought back to the present by Sandoval. Finished with his report to Da'an, the Taelon's right hand man had paused on his way out of the chamber to great his sometime rival.
Things had actually remained semi-friendly between them since Boone had saved the agent's life.
"Getting a late start today, Boone?" Sandoval actually smiled. "That's certainly not like you."
"Actually, I was here earlier this morning."
"Anything the matter?"
"No, not really. Da'an and I cleared it up." Boone nodded to the other implant and moved past him into the room as Sandoval left.
He approached Da'an, unsure of the welcome he would receive or how he should broach the dangerous subject of the weapon theft.
"Boone," the Taelon nodded formally. "I see that you have taken my advice and are now rested."
"Yes, and you wouldn't believe the strange dreams I had." Da'an wasn't the only one who could be cryptic, Boone reflected.
"Dreams are often the harbingers of prophecy." The companion waved a hand delicately before him. "Many times they give insight into the truth."
"I figured that out," Boone ground out, tired of the oblique conversation. "Tell me, did you talk with Quo'on?"
"Yes. He is most regretful of the situation and he fears the loss of human support which will come from the Synod's decision."
"But?" Boone prompted.
"It is as I feared. He still feels that the Synod acts correctly in this matter." Da'an watched as his implant looked down at the ground and heard him sigh. "There is something else which you should know," he said, instantly reclaiming his implant's attention. "Eh'har has not yet been informed of the coming disaster."
"Eh'har is a true companion to his protectorate. The Synod fears his actions, should he have forewarning of this event."
"Ahhh...so it's not all that uncommon for a Taelon to go against the Synod's wishes!" Boone was elated by the news, but his elation didn't last long as he saw Da'an's mouth tighten into a thin line.
"I see that you have yet to comprehend the difficulties of our positions as companions." Da'an rose from his chair and approached his implant. "Eh'har has been a true friend to me...and yet, I fear that he will be hurt by this event, regardless of the outcome."
Boone stared at Da'an, who in turn was staring down at Boone's feet. That the Taelon was upset could not be doubted.
"Tell me what troubles you," he finally managed.
"One of us will answer to the Synod for what is to come," Da'an raised his eyes so that he was looking directly into Boone's own hazel ones.
"I see..." Boone thought fast. "Perhaps we can arrange it so that the Synod is unable to determine who is at fault..."
Da'an cocked his head to one side and then the other. His eyes suddenly snapped back to Boone's. "It is unlikely that you could accomplish such a feat, however, it...would be most appreciated."
It was Boone's turn to look down at the ground, unable to put his strange friend at ease. Something suddenly dawned on him.
"I have a question."
"Please state it."
"How do you expect me to pull this thing off? I'd have to have a small army..."
Da'an cut him off. "You boasted of your many 'connections' just this morning." That said, the companion turned and ascended to his chair. Seating himself, he dismissed Boone with one hand held to his chest and the other out as though in supplication.
"Well, I think that
just about covers everything," Boone gestured again to the large display
screen and signaled for the lights to be turned up. "Jonathan?"
Doors, a slight man with a gravely voice and a big presence, approached the display.
"First off, allow me to say that this entire plan reeks of being a Taelon trap..."
"Now, wait a minute..." Boone began.
"No. You wait." Doors leveled a deadly look at the taller man. "For this plan to work, many of our operatives will need to lay it on the line. If Da'an is lying, you, Lili and many of our key people would be exposed. It would be the perfect setup..."
"Da'an was NOT lying. He spoke to me with his mind...you CANNOT keep secrets with your thoughts."
"And how many of your lies has he seen through? How much of the truth did he glean from your mind?" Doors pressed. "Does he already know about us? Where we are? Who we are?"
The billionaire founder of the resistance slammed a hand down on the console. "Your precious Taelon friend will be our downfall!"
Boone did his best to retain his composure in the face of Doors' stinging attack. He failed. "Da'an already knows that my CVI's motivational imperative is nonfunctional," he ground out. Amid the startled gasps and shocked stares, he continued. "He figured it out weeks ago when I had the flu, as you well know!"
"He's biding his time..."
"Get off it!" Boone turned his attention back to the rest of the gathered resistance force. "This is our only chance to save Hawaii and her people. Are we going to pass it up just because one Taelon has turned out to have a conscience?"
He looked around the room, shocked by how many would not meet his eyes. "Millions of lives lie in the balance," he continued, determined to make them hear reason. "If you just sit on this - if you do nothing - then, what is the difference between you and the Taelon Synod?"
His plea seemed to galvanize the room. People turned to whisper to each other. Some overheard snippets of conversation seemed to be in favor of the plan, while others seemed to be in Doors' camp. The volume in the room quickly rose as some tried to bring others around to their way of thinking.
Doors called for attention. "As much as it frightens me to say this," he said into the ensuing lull, "Boone has a point. We can't just pass up this opportunity. If we sit on this, then we ARE no better than the Taelons."
Boone turned to look at Doors. "Thank-you," he said simply.
"Oh don't thank me yet," Doors nearly growled. "We've got some grueling planning sessions ahead of us."
He turned back to address the rest of the room. "Well? What are you all waiting for? Start breaking up into groups. I want to start getting some good ideas - yesterday!"
As Doors moved off in the direction of his office - to contact yet more operatives, no doubt - Boone moved off toward Lili and Augur. He already had some good ideas and couldn't wait to run them by his friends.
Lili adjusted the shuttle's
course and leaned back in her chair. For the next few minutes, she would have
little to do but keep an eye on her display. She glanced back over her right
shoulder and caught a small nod from Boone.
It did nothing to calm her nerves.
Her other passengers this time out included Da'an, Sandoval, his assistant and several of his guards.
They were on their way to the Taelon embassy in Hawaii. If everything went well, the conference between the two Taelon companions would begin later in the afternoon...and the first part of the Resistance's plan would go into action immediately thereafter.
Said plan had been finalized a week ago. Although Boone himself had laid down it's foundations, his own request had been that he and Lili not know exactly how it was going to go down, or who would ultimately be involved.
That was the part that made her nervous...
It didn't help things that the announcement of the comet's course had been released by NASA. Thank God the agency had not revealed the impact point yet - people were in enough of a panic as it was.
The Taelons had suffered many anti-Taelon demonstrations and many of their cultural centers had been vandalized.
So far they had shown admirable restraint in not calling out their implanted shock troops.
She was distracted from her introspection by a conversation between Sandoval and Boone.
"Ever been to Hawaii, Boone?" The handsome, Asian aide asked.
"You'll love it," Sandoval continued. "It's quite charming."
"I'm looking forward to soaking up some sun on the beach...when Da'an's done with me of course." Boone admitted.
"An excess of solar radiation could prove harmful, Boone." Da'an unexpectedly joined the conversation. "I recommend that you limit your time to the evening hours."
"Now, you have to admit that a little sunshine is a good thing," Boone countered. "Anyway, you wouldn't want me to get so pale that I could pass myself off as a Taelon, would you?"
Sandoval, Lili and the other passengers all gaped at Boone's audacity, but Da'an merely stared at his implant from the corners of his eyes before shifting his attention back to the shuttle display and returning to some inner contemplation.
Noting the stares being directed his way, Boone gave a small shrug and leaned back further in his chair, stretching his legs out before him. He wasn't quite sure himself why he had made that remark to Da'an, but he suspected that it came from some deep-seated curiosity about his friend. He still knew so little about him...did he have a sense of humor? Was he lonely? Exactly how much pressure was this secret Taelon agenda placing him under? Could such concepts even be applied to a companion?
Boone sighed and shifted restlessly in his seat, only to find that Da'an was regarding him again.
The Companion's calm blue eyes were fixed steadily on his own.
"Peace, Boone," the Taelon spoke. "We shall speak of what troubles you after I have met with my fellow companion."
Boone nodded and sat up straighter as the otherworldly visitor once again faced forward and seemed to lose interest in his surroundings. How he wished he could tell Da'an that their's was a conversation which would probably never take place... He became aware of Sandoval's envious stare, but it was Lili's understanding gaze which he met.
Lili was about to smile at Boone, when Da'an's gaze slid from straight ahead, over to her.
She quickly turned back to her display
Less than an hour later,
they were escorted into the presence of Eh'har by his aide, a tall no-nonsense
Polynesian woman named MaSun. Her mannerisms were uncannily reminiscent of
Sandoval and Boone found himself instantly on his guard.
The Taelon Embassy here in Hawaii was even larger and more complex than Da'an's structure back in DC. It was not so tall, but much larger in circumference. The interior was of a slighter green tone than the blue walls in the DC structure and Boone found himself wondering if it was due to Eh'har's own individual preferences.
Individuality was a concept which the Taelon's implied had no place in their race's social structure. Still...it was important to Boone to determine if it did exist. If individuality was truly a foreign concept to the Taelons, then how long would it be before they ceased to tolerate it humans?
Boone was brought back to the here and now by Lili, who gave him an unobserved jab in the ribs.
They had reached Eh'har's audience chamber.
Eh'har was seated in a chair identical to the one Da'an usually occupied back on the mainland. A tall, powerfully built man with platinum hair stood off to his left, while MaSun moved to stand at his right.
While Boone and Sandoval stopped at a respectful distance, Da'an moved forward until he was within five feet of his fellow Companion. He held his hands before him in a graceful gesture of greeting and inclined his head slightly.
Rising and moving forward until he was within reach of Da'an, Eh'har mirrored the greeting.
Both companions raised their heads and gazed silently upon each other. Every so often, one or the other would blush blue.
It was very apparent to Boone that they were communicating and he reflected that he would be willing to give much to hear what they were saying.
In less than a minute, the silent greeting was over. Da'an and Eh'har both approached as Eh'har's people brought up the rear.
"Agent Sandoval," Eh'har said in a voice very much like Da'an's own. "I am pleased to see you again."
"It is always a pleasure and an honor to visit your abode, Eh'har," Sandoval said as he bowed slightly.
Eh'har nodded and then turned his eyes toward Boone. "William Boone, it is most rewarding to finally make your acquaintance."
"The honor is all mine." Boone nodded.
"I have heard much about you from my fellows."
"Not all bad, I hope." Boone could not resist the jest.
Eh'har looked at Da'an. "You are quite right, he is most... unusual." He turned back toward Boone. "Most of what I know of you is pleasing to me."
Unable to come up with an adequate response, Boone finally gave a small bow.
"Please allow me to introduce you to our implant, David Hauer. He is head of Security here and like yourself, comes to us with an impressive police record."
Boone shook hands with his alter-ego, but wasn't able to warm to the man - he was cool and withdrawn - the perfect Taelon implant.
"You will all be staying with us overnight," Eh'har announced. "This embassy has accommodations which are more than adequate for your needs." He gestured towards MaSun. "My aide will show you to your quarters."
Boone pointedly looked at Da'an.
"I shall remain here. Please rest. We will send for you once we have conferred."
"Perhaps I could remain and discuss the security arrangements for the conference with Mr. Hauer?"
"Later Boone." Da'an gave him a look which showed his annoyance.
Stung by the abrupt dismissal, Boone pivoted about and followed the others without a backward glance.
Boone completed his circuit
of the main conference hall floor and satisfied with Hauer's security
arrangements, returned to the right stage entrance doors.
Da'an and Eh'har had satisfactorily concluded their business and it was nearly time for the annual public forum to begin.
The companions usually started off by announcing any major policy changes which they had made and explaining how those changes would benefit the State. After the announcements were over, the press and the public were invited to ask questions and air their concerns. Rather than being the type of media circus which Boone had dealt with back before the Taelon's arrival, these forums were mostly orderly and...polite. Rudeness was not tolerated, and no answers would be given to the individual who interrupted anther's question.
Boone looked around the large auditorium again. Nearly every seat was now filled. A glance at his watch showed the time as 14:30.
Hauer's voice sounded in his earphone.
It was time.
Nodding to the guards on either side of the doors, Boone opened them and stepped aside to let Eh'har and Hauer pass.
As Da'an and Sandoval followed, he fell into step behind them, while Lili took up his abandoned post at the door.
The audience broke into applause as the popular companions moved up onto the stage and seated themselves at the conference table. Boone, Hauer and Sandoval stood behind them while Palauni MaSun stood at attention in front of the stage.
The audience had settled down and Eh'har had just begun his welcoming speech, when two shots rang out.
MaSun fell, struck once in the neck.
Boone threw himself on the floor behind the table and yanked Da'an down next to him as Sandoval fired his skrill. In the next few seconds, Hauer and Eh'har appeared on the floor as well. They seemed to be unharmed.
"Where are they?" Boone shouted to Sandoval, struggling to be heard above the sound of the panicking crowd.
"Somewhere up near the floodlights." The aide yelled back as several more shots rang out, driving him down next to Boone.
"We can't stay here! Sooner or later they're going to try shooting through the table!" Boone yelled. "Get Da'an out of here! I'll keep them pinned down!"
Without waiting for a response, he knelt, propped his arm on the tabletop and began firing his skrill non-stop in the direction of the stagelights. Behind him, he could hear Sandoval encouraging the others to crawl faster. Several shots rang out to his right as Lili placed herself between the companions and the danger.
"Boone! Hurry!" she yelled as the others made it out the side door and she was able to cover him.
Rapidly tiring from the energy demands imposed by his skrill, he jumped to his feet and sprinted through the door. Lili joined him a second later.
There was no sign of the Taelons - Sandoval would have moved them to a more secure location.
"Come on," he gasped as he headed down the corridor. "This can't be the expected diversion - they killed MaSun!"
Lili merely nodded as she kept pace beside him.
They caught up with Sandoval and the others at the exit nearest the shuttle.
"Boone!" Sandoval waved him on, urging him to move more quickly. "We have to get to the shuttle!"
"Let me and Lili go first," Boone panted. He was still having trouble catching his breath. He could see the concern in Da'an's eyes. "Don't worry," he managed. "We'll get out of this."
Without waiting for a reply, he flung one of the doors open and moved outside. Lili didn't hesitate in following.
The shuttle was in the center of a small parking lot, which had been kept clear of other vehicles. The lot was bordered by trees, a busy four lane road, the conference center and a large hotel.
The two of them split up, quickly moving in opposite directions so that they could not be picked off with a single shot. Each turned in an arc, checking their surroundings for the enemy, as they closed the distance to the shuttle.
They were within five feet of the shuttle when Boone waved the others out. In the distance he could hear a police siren. Chances were good that the assassins had fled, but he and Lili kept their guard up, ready to cover the four approaching figures if need be.
"Looks like the cavalry has arrived," Lili commented as she indicated two approaching police cruisers.
Boone glanced back over a shoulder at one of the vehicles, taking in the shield decal on its side. His CVI kicked in, displaying the decals of every know police department in the country. The decal on the car was a fake.
"It's a trap!" he yelled. "Sandoval! Get them back!"
Without waiting, Boone dove for the pavement, rolled and came up firing. The closest car was vaporized by his skrill's most powerful blast, but not before one of the occupants took Hauer out with a rifle shot to the chest.
Sandoval was shoving the two companions back toward the building as he attempted to fire behind him at the same time. His aim was off, but it was enough to cause the remaining car to swerve and dodge the blasts.
Lili managed to take out the driver with a shot through the windshield, causing the vehicle to go into a skid and stop between them and the retreating Taelons.
Da'an looked back just in time to see something sail out of the phony police car and land on the pavement between Lili and Boone.
There was a blinding flash, followed by a boom. For a brief instant, the implant and his assistant were both airborne...and then they crashed back to Earth and lay still.
"Boone!" Da'an actually managed to raise his voice above its usual speaking volume, as he hesitated in his retreat.
"There's nothing we can do," Sandoval yelled as he pushed Da'an toward the building. The doors were only a few yards away. "Hurry! He would want you to survive!"
They reached the doors and disappeared inside.
of Part 1
To be concluded...
As I said in the earlier post, I'm not the author; I'm a fan of her work. Those of you who are asking yourselves the point of posting other peoples' work are wondering why I'm posting this. It's because I keep looking at the emptiness of the EFC section and I finally couldn't stand it. So in addition to my own work, I'll post Tina Price's work as well. (She happens to be my favorite EFC fan fiction writer.) Please Enjoy this Fan Fiction.