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Colonial Authority: Chapter 23 – Subterfuge

**Note: Although the following is part of a previously self-published eBook, portions have been modified. However, it has not been professionally edited and likely contains typos and other errors. It is offered as an example of raw science fiction storytelling.**

Inspector Yates leaned across the table, staring at Julie. “I was warned that you were pretty.”

“Who warned you?”

“That would be telling.”

“Is that why you brought me here, to flatter me?”

Yates leaned back. “No, it’s the report you filed last night. According to the report, two or possibly three men broke into your apartment using grappling hooks and ropes and escaped the same way. And yet they took nothing. You haven’t found anything missing, have you?”

“There was a lot of damage, but nothing we could tell was missing. The biggest thing is I no longer feel safe there.”

“That’s understandable.”

“Have they found anything from the investigation?”

“Can I be frank with you?”

“I would hope you’d not need my permission.”

“We both know who it was that broke into your apartment, don’t we?”

“Chase, my boyfriend was attacked…”

“Yes, I’ve seen the surveillance files from the club and the equipment all around your apartment.”

“Then you have arrested the culprits?”

“No.”

“No as in not yet or as in never?”

“The surveillance is there to protect the law abiding. Mostly it’s routine. We check the files whenever there is an incident we need to corroborate. We monitor the public areas throughout the city, including your apartment’s hallways and exterior and commercial establishments like the dance club. We are able to solve a lot of mysteries that way.”

“I see,” Julie said.

“Your case is a little different, though. In my line of work, you learn very quickly there is a reason for everything. A few days ago we received a tip from Haven regarding your boyfriend, Chase is his name.”

“And.”

“It seems that while he was in Haven last week, he met with several members of a subversive group called The Resurrection. Has he discussed any of that with you?”

“He was in Haven for meetings and training. His company is thinking of expanding the office here and promoting him to manage the office.”

“Yes, and he did that while he was there, too. But while he was there, he approached Haven authorities asking about a young man named Paul Scalero. The authorities there detained Chase and questioned him about his relationship with the man. Do you know him?”

“I’ve never met Paul. As I understand it he is Cristina’s Salerno’s brother. At least that is what Chase told me last night.”

“Cristina and her boyfriend Alix are staying with you for a few days.”

“Yes.”

“Paul is a members and a suspected leader of The Resurrection. At the time of his detainment, Chase stated that he had never met Paul and yet last Sunday he not only met with Paul, but also spent a good deal of time with him out in the mountains to the south of Haven.”

“Why are you telling me this? I’m not involved with any of that.”

“No you aren’t. Not yet. The reason I’m telling you this is you’re the daughter of a respected civic leader who I knew personally as a friend in school.”

“You knew my dad?”

“We lost touch after school, but we were on the school tennis team together.”

Julie smiled. “He loved playing tennis.”

“Do you play?”

“Of course, but I was never as good as my dad.”

“He was city champion three years running,” Yates said.

Julie nodded. “I saw the trophies. He kept them in a closet. He never bragged about his victories, though.”

“Your dad was a rare individual. Tennis is a sport that allows individuals to perform at their personal best, but it also benefits a team. Your father’s desire was to benefit the team with his play. His personal accomplishments were always secondary. He tried very hard to see our team win the city championship. Really, only he was good enough to win it all. After he took the singles title, we needed to win at least one other title, either the women’s singles, men’s or women’s doubles or mixed doubles. Despite his best effort playing doubles, I was his partner and the weak link. We came close that third year, but I missed returning a ball that 10 times out of 10 I would have returned. We lost service and eventually we lost the match.”

“That must have been hard to take.”

“It was. Even so, your dad never blamed me. He was a class act. I know you miss him more than I do, but he was a good friend and a decent hard working man.”

“I appreciate your kind words, but I’m sure there is a point to all this.”

“So there is. You see – I am doing this as a huge favor to his memory. I can’t sit idly by and see my best friend’s daughter implicated in subversive activities through her associations. I needed to talk to you, alone, off the record. I needed to tell you what is happening around you and give you the opportunity to do what’s right.”

“And that would be what?”

“We need information. We already have a lot of the pieces but we need to connect what we have. That’s where you can be of immense help to us.”

“You want me to spy on Chase?”

“No, no, no. You need to continue doing what you always have done. There cannot appear to be any change. All we want to know is what you personally observe,” he produced a small senscorder device. “You will keep a running log, storing it and then when you come to work you download it into your computer and send the file to me. I will be your contact, your only contact. No one else will know anything about this so that you may actually be able to penetrate some of the defenses of The Resurrection.”

“And if I say no?”

Yates shrugged. “I will be disappointed, but at least I made you the offer. That’s the least I could do for the daughter of a good friend. Eventually, we’ll have the connections we need to break The Resurrection. You will be as guilty as they are if you continue to associate with the people that are in your apartment now.”

“Can I think about it?”

“Sure, but I don’t know what there is to think about. Right is always right. That’s what makes my work pretty damned easy. I’ll tell you what, keep the senscorder. If you decide to work with us, download the file and send it to me from work and that will be your answer.”

Julie gathered up her belongings and also the device. “I assume I’m free to go?”

“Of course. It has been my pleasure to meet you, Julie,” Yates said.

Without further comment, Julie opened the door and exited the room. When she reached the street she glanced at her chronometer and debated whether she wanted to return to the office. She needed to be home by 8 at the latest. She didn’t want to leave Chase alone at the apartment. She promised to relieve Cristina and Alix’s vigil so they could go out.

It was marginal whether she would have enough time. From experience, just entering the office meant dealing with things for an hour that had nothing to do with whatever her personal agenda was. Then, there was the risk of calling her supervisor and begin given something that would required her attentions for at least an hour. She opted to call Kim, her administrative assistant and check in with her, but tell her why she was going home.

“There was an emergency staff meeting called as soon as you left the office.”

“I was at the Colonial Authority office. They called me. My apartment was ransacked last night.”

“I told Mr. Gunther that you went there and that technically you came in to work on your vacation.”

“I’ll bet that went over well.”

“He grumbled. I couldn’t make it out. He always grumbles.”

“I can imagine what he said.”

“Well, things aren’t as smooth as they are when you’re here.”

“It’s because you and I are the only ones that don’t dawdle between meetings while trying to appear busy,” Julie explained.

“Oh, so that’s what we’re doing wrong.”

Julie chuckled. “Look, I have a promise to keep and I don’t dare come there because I’ll get stuck and I’ll be late getting home.”

“I understand, sister. I’ll cover for you as best I can. You’re back tomorrow, right?”

“Yeah, do me a favor. When the meeting notes are posted from whatever they’re discussing forward them to my Global address.”

“You got it.”

“And if anyone asks…”

“You were at the Colonial Authority offices because your apartment was ransacked last night and they called for you to come down.”

“That’s perfect and mostly true,” Julie said. “Thanks,” she added, and then disconnected.

Julie went to where her coach was docked and summoned it to arrive at the curb where she was standing. She had about a half an hour to get home before seven. But she had allowed for eight as the limit for her return. She had to stop and buy some groceries. With two more people in the apartment they were using up basic supplies rapidly.

She also bought soft drinks, beer, snacks and microwaveable popcorn. She selected some steaks because she figured that Alix and Chase would enjoy them. She bought some chicken, fish and some pasta along with garlic bread and Italian sauces as she was considering surprising Cristina.

On the drive home, she considered what Yates told her. It seemed unlikely Cristina and Alix were involved any more than she was. As for Chase, she felt the authorities misconstrued what Chase did in Haven. Surely, they’d figure that out.

When she returned to the apartment Cristina and Alix were ready to leave, they seemed relieved that she was home, having been waiting on her to arrive but lingering as they did not want to leave Chase alone. He was sitting on the couch watching some documentary on world viewer about the early colonial foundations on the planets and moons in Earth’s solar system.

Alix and Cristina helped Julie put away the groceries before they left, apparently before Chase even realized that she was home.

“Was it that interesting?” she asked.

“It was intriguing,” Chase responded. “It was enlightening how the worlds were chosen for terraforming and the processes involved. I have never known the complete process.”

“So this Paul has influenced you that much that now you watch historical documentaries.”

“I don’t know if I would agree with that assessment. The things he told me affected me and made me question a lot of other things.”

“Are you planning on joining his group?”

Chase laughed. “No, not hardly.”

“Good. I’m not sure they’re right.”

“Well, neither and I,” Chase stated. “I’m not in favor of resurrecting something that’s long-since dead, something that I might be inadvertently blamed for killing even if I personally had nothing to do with it.”

Julie smiled as she joined him on the couch. As she settled in beside him she leaned toward him and kissed him passionately.

“What’s that for?”

“Call it a down payment.”

“I’m not sure with my ribs and all…”

“I’ll do all the work. How’s that?”

Chase laughed, “Well, how could I refuse?”

Julie leaned in toward him and lingered with her lips close to his until he kissed her again. “I love you,” she said in response.

He groaned in the effort to stand up, but pulled her up to stand before him. “I think we need to go to bed.”

Julie laughed, “Yeah, I think you’ve got the right idea.”

“I mean we have sometime before Alix and Cristina get back.”

“Not that they would ever intrude.”

“Of course not, it’s just that… well.”

Julie laughed. “Cristina is empathic and maybe even psychic, but she’s at least telepathic.”

“I think so.”

“I know so,” Julie confirmed.

“She told you that?”

“She doesn’t need to.”

He smiled briefly, but then as concern found expression back on his face, he looked at her. “What are we going to do?”

“Call me selfish, but the only moment I care about is the most immediate one. Everything else can wait.”

Chase kissed her, lingering in the passion of the moment. He picked her up, but immediately wincing with pain.

“Are you okay?’

“I’m doing what I have to do,” he said.

“I don’t want you to hurt yourself even worse.”

“I’ll be fine,” he promised as he carried her into their room, gently depositing her on the bed, and then laying down beside her. “I love you, lady,” he said, and then kissed her passionately again. It was the sort of kiss that neither of them wanted to end except that after a while it became increasingly incapable of fully expressing their emotions, especially while still clothed. They paused their kisses and quickly disrobe. Then Chase immediately rejoined what they had been doing before, only this time Chase brought up the bed sheet to cover their nakedness as the apartment’s air conditioning had just clicked on.

It had always been the best whenever Chase came back from a tour or a business trip. Julie always was faithful to him and she trusted that he was always faithful to her. Since returning from his trip to Haven, they had made love twice, one time after another. Last night, of course was different.

Chase lingered in the moment, making it last. It was still early in the evening. They had plenty of time before Alix and Cristina returned home from the clubs. It was good for them to be out by themselves. Maybe they would have a good time dancing together. Andromeda was a fascinating place to be young and out on the town at night.

When finally their efforts achieved climax, Chase forced past the moment to extend ecstasy for a long as he could, but then fell off to the side and laughed a little. Julie rolled over and ran her fingers through the hairs on his chest, even twisting some of them, as she always played with his four nipples. “You really are the one,” she finally said. “I was always looking for you, and when I found you I knew.”

“There can be no one else for me,” Chase said.

“You weren’t attracted to Cristina?”

“She’s attractive,” Chase said. “But I wasn’t attracted. She’s a friend, a close friend I think. We spoke about things that friends discuss. She was always honest and open with me, and I tried to be the same in return.”

“But the subject of me never came up until the end.”

“It never came up because it never needed to. There was a matter of professional decorum and my personal integrity. That served as a barrier. It was at the end of the tour, when our professional relationship was technically over that we even discussed any other sort relationship. That was when I explained to her I was taken.”

“She made a pitch?”

“I perceived it that way. But I immediately told her about you.”

“That’s good,” Julie said. “At least you remembered.”

“Is that what she told you?”

“Yes. Pretty much. I mean she neglected to tell me how attracted she was, but I guess I knew. I’m just glad you didn’t do anything with her.”

“How could I forget about you?”

“Cristina is very pretty.”

“Yeah and she’s funny, witty, insightful, kind, gentle-hearted. There’s a lot about Cristina that’s loveable, endearing and adorable. But I already knew someone with all those same qualities and more. She’s not my type, not after I met you,” he said.

“Who’s prettier?” Julie asked.

Chase started to laugh, then thought better of it. It would be misinterpreted and would only lead to other more serious questions. “There’s no comparison,” he offered, hoping it wouldn’t have to go any further.

“I’m not sure that’s an answer,” Julie called his bluff.

“There are a lot of levels to a relationship.”

“Then you think she’s prettier than me.”

“Julie, you’re asking me to choose between two goddesses. It’s like saying this sunrise if better than that one. There can be no comparison. There should be no competition. I’m totally yours, completely devoted. She has Alix, and he adores her.”

“It’s just that you spent a year with her on tour and you spoke a lot but never once mentioned me.”

“Mostly we spoke about business, the band, the tour, how we were going to add some shows here and there and where we were going to stay. It was logistical stuff. She’s very sharp. She could probably do the organization for the tour all by herself if she had the time. Sometimes she helped me with suggestions. On occasion, she would be in a mood and she would tell me about her childhood, her father, why she started singing. She told me she was always afraid of people when she was young and hid in the closet whenever there were visitors, never afraid of the darkness…”

“And by that you knew that she was one of us.”

Chase nodded, but then he went on. “It surprised me at first. I mean, I was doing my job and suddenly I realized that I have known her all that time and she was the one that I was supposed to direct to Raven.”

“You never suspected Alix?”

“Not really. I mean he was always quiet, lingering in the background. So yeah, in retrospect I see that he fits the profile completely. I guess that maybe Pete, the percussionist is one of us too.”

“We always seem to find one another, don’t we?”

Chase raised his hand and suddenly the orb appeared in his palm.

“You learned that trick, finally.”

“I’ve had it for a year. It would have helped me to hide it out of the way,” Chase said. “Now, I know how.”

Julie brought up her hand and then grasped at the air. Then her orb appeared between her index finger and thumb.

“I’m impressed,” Chase said.

“I’ve been practicing too.”

“What else have you learned?’

She brought the hand that possessed the orb toward Chase’s forehead and then pressed it to the skin. Instantly, what Chase was thinking seemed to become the reality around them.

“This is awkward,” Chase protested.

“There can be no secrets,” Julie said.

“Yeah, well I’m glad I don’t have any, then.”

“Did Paul say anything else that you have not told me?”

“No, not really. I mean this apartment is definitely not the place to discuss him anymore, but he was actively trying to recruit me, actually all of us through me. I just don’t think they are doing the right thing and it concerns me that they’re making the attempt.”

“So you are willing to allow the past to remain as it is.”

“It’s settled. There’s completion. Maybe it wasn’t the right thing, but when it happened we did it out of ignorance. That’s not the best reason, but it’s not really an excuse either. It’s mostly the unvarnished truth.”

“But there has been a cover-up,” Julie said.

“A lot of errors were made. A lot of people were worried about the truth getting out to the public. A lot of people want to do different things as a result. But the truth remains the truth, despite all the subterfuge.”

“So, you’re just going to ignore Paul.”

“I doubt he’ll allow us to ignore him, but if he would that would be fine by me.”

“What do you think he’s going to do about us?”

“I really don’t know. This is very serious. Obviously, some people are very upset. Our apartment was broken into and Alix and I were accosted in a public restroom. I don’t appreciate the threats, but maybe I can understand the basis of the concerns. I can maybe understand what the Colonial Authority was intending all along. If it was not always right, what they did aligns with that overall purpose. What Paul and The Resurrection propose is experimental and hypothetical. It’s radically dangerous. If it achieves the interim goal of bringing one of the creatures back to life, what’s the point?”

“If there was a cover-up, some people want to know the truth.”

“As I see it, exposing everything would severely complicate everything. As a best-case scenario we’ll be faced suddenly with the prospect of sharing this world. In the worse case they may allow us to resurrect all of the ones that we can and bide their time until they can successfully wage war against us.”

“You assume that they are as violent as we are, or at least as mistrustful.”

“I don’t know anything about the sand-morphs, just what Paul told me. I’m not sure his information was all that accurate. It’s based on conjecture, theories and assumptions. That also concerns me greatly. What if the postulates derived from all their research are wrong? We could be resurrecting demons that will haunt our very existence well into the future.”

Julie remained silent, staring up at the ceiling and the swirled patterns that had been applied to it. She had noticed it many times before but had never really studied how in a narrow sense it seemed to be rather random but spread out across the entire ceiling there was a discernable pattern to it.

“What are you thinking?” Chase asked her as he nuzzled closer to her.

“I was thinking about how much simpler our lives would be if it was merely about us – no obligations, no threats, no offers, and no outside suggestions.”

Chase laughed. “The world would never allow that. Maybe if we were isolated on an island somewhere, it would be possible.”

“Let’s find an island then. Let’s run away, just you and me. We’ll never have to want for anything.”

“The world is not ready for that. The atmosphere is not yet that breathable, especially out at sea. Maybe in a few years we could do that. We save up and when the time comes we buy an island and move there.”

Julie rose up and kissed him. “We could start our own colony!”

“There you go,” Chase said.

Julie nodded, but then kissed him again, this time on the cheek as she held him close but gently observing where she hugged so as to not squeeze his bruised ribs.

 

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