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NASA Headquarters
Washington, DC, USA

The room was packed with people, civilians, military and scientists from almost every corners of the world. All gathered in a ‘peaceful’ environment to celebrate and promote scientific discoveries. What better place to do so than at the NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. What better place to show off their latest invention that will revolutionize space exportation.

Around the complex many different countries were displaying their latest research, inventions and thesis to better humanity or improve the race to space. From the Russians with their new slimmer space suites that looked more like a scuba suite then something to be used in space; to the Australians with their new cultivation formula that would increase plant growth in some of the driest deserts.

They were all fascinating pieces of engineering and technology. Malcolm had taken his time and circled through them all, greeting each presenter with a firm handshake and a warm smile, winking with his devilish charm to the women standing nearby. His reputation as a ladies men was well founded and he was eager to obtain some more samples before the night was over.

“Mr. Locklear.” The sound of a soft voice interrupted the conversation Malcolm was currently in the middle of with one of the Japanese researchers. He turned to stare into deep green eyes of a young, beautiful woman. He eyed the Japanese researcher who laughed and gave him a solid slap on the back before walking away into another conversation around them.

“That will be me.” Malcolm said, giving the young woman a warm smile, extending his hand to hers. “Though you look awfully young to be one of the scientists here, a daughter perhaps?”

The woman blushed and pushed a strand of her dark hair behind her ear. Malcolm took her arm and lead her towards the dance floor away from the inventions where a string orchestra had been set up and the soft music rang gently throughout the complex.

“A dance then, for the lovely woman.” Malcolm said, not giving the girl much choice, though she didn’t stop him either. Stepping in tune to the beat, he pulled the woman close to him as they began to waltz.

“You’re a good dancer.” The woman commented.

“Surprised?”

“Yes. I thought science nerds don’t get out much, let alone learn how to dance.” She replied back with a tease of her own.

“Ah yes… though most other science nerds; like those around us tonight; were not brought up in a family like mine. I had no choice but to learn to dance, to please my mother.” Malcolm put forth. “Now, i am curious as to why you had approached me… unless my reputation had reached your ears, in that case, you may be a bit too young for this to be legal.” He smiled at the woman, pulling her close to his body.

“Can’t a girl want a dance?” The woman asked. “I wanted to get an interview with the famous Malcolm Locklear the mind behind the Art-GRAV.” The truth spilled from her lips.

Malcolm swung the girl around so that they faced the artificial gravity device that would be installed in the space station later that year. “That thing? It was just something I had lying around, thought it was time to dust it off.”

“Modesty is not part of your reputation.” The woman said, her eyes narrowing on Malcolm.

“And reporters were not supposed to be allowed to this shindig.” Malcolm said, giving her another spin. “Did you sneak in? Do tell, i’ve been meaning to improve NASA’s security, this would be a perfect time to highlight their failure.” A twinkle in his eye.

“I did not sneak in.”

“Oh, so my previous assessment that you are a guest is correct then.”

“Yes it was. I’m a reporter for AAU. Name’s Katherine Wilcox.” She smiled at Malcolm. “So would you answer some questions?”

“That will depend on the questions. I can’t give you the details of my invention. That’s classified.”

“From all of your recent inventions both for the public and for NASA it seems that the old sci-fi tales of living in space or even the moon are closer now than ever before.” Katherine started. “Are there more inventions you are keeping under wraps? Is Locklear Enterprises wanting to get back to the moon first?”

“Everyone is trying to get back to the moon.” Malcolm said. Their dance had ended and he was beginning to regret entertaining this girl, though it was hard to stop her now. Instead he thought of a new approach and quickly steered Katherine to the side, and grabbed two glasses of Champaign. “None more than I, but I will not hide my advances away from the public eye. I work in a good partnership with NASA so that my inventions will help improve humanity as a whole instead of only a few.”

“Such a humanitarian for a pretty rich boy. There have been rumours that what you have created could no be conceived by human minds.”

“Are you implying that i’ve stolen my own inventions?” Malcolm laughed.

“Yes, from crashed UFO’s.” Katherine said, a serious expression on her face. Malcolm stared at her, his face showing the humour he found in her statement, yet at the same time trying to cover up the truth behind it all.

“I think you have seen too many conspiracy theory shows.” Malcolm said. “I guarantee you everything that i’ve created is of my own mind.” He gave her a stare, as if to dare her to press the issue further.  She was stubborn, this would not be an easy win, though Malcolm always won in the end.

“Katie. I think you should leave poor Mr. Locklear alone.” A man in an american Air Force uniform approached the two, he placed a hand on Katherine and looked up to Malcolm.

“It’s been a while Mr. Locklear.”

“Colonel McIntyer.” Malcolm said with surprise, grasping the extended hand for a shake. “So you are the one who allowed a reporter into this party.”

“Forgive my granddaughter. She doesn’t know when to stop harassing others.” McIntyer said with a forced smile on his lips, his eyes moved down to Katherine who looked like she was about to throw a tantrum. Instead she finished the glass of Champaign and walked off away from the two.

“Off to find her next victim it seems.” Mcintyer observed.

“She said she was a reporter for AAU?” Malcolm asked. “Care to shed some light on that?”

“Aliens Among Us.” McIntyer said with a tired sigh. “It’s an online thing… mostly full of conspiracy theorists and geeks. It’s a hobby of hers, though I thought she would have grown out of it by now.”

“She accused me of stealing my own inventions from aliens.” Malcolm said, acting hurt.

“I would too.”

Malcolm’s heart skipped a beat. It had been almost 16 years since he had last set eyes on the Colonel, which included the incident in the Nevada Desert, one which he had been restricted to silence though had not left empty-handed.

“That technology was to remain under wraps, observed by the US Air Force until it was seen fit and safe to use amongst our own people.” McIntyer’s voice was low, the two had moved off to a more isolated corner, Malcolm looked around nervously.

“That’s why I don’t like you military type, you hoard all the cool toys, not allowing anyone else to play with them.” Malcolm said, decided to strike back. “I was able to take those plans and make something safe, useful and push our planet ahead another twenty years in what would have taken your people fifty.”

“So you admit you stole our technology?” The Colonel said with a raised eye. He held Malcolm’s stare for a good twenty seconds before breaking into a laugh. “You’re lucky i’m retired.”

“God, you had me shitting myself there.” Malcolm said feeling the weight lift from his shoulders. “And I never stole your tech, just the research and plans.”

“So you should be, you’re too damn arrogant for your own good. Brining that contraption out in the open like this. Did you really think nobody would notice?”

“What do you mean?” Malcolm asked, puzzled by the Colonel’s change in tone.

“Look around, they’re everywhere tonight.”

Malcolm was about to question McIntyer’s coded words further but had just noticed a woman, wearing a black suite form the corner of his vision. She stood still, like a rock, her eyes starred straight a head, right at him. With a small turn of his head he noticed another, a man, and more. They were stationed at various spots all over the hall, near almost every booth. What concerned Malcolm more was there were more of them around his Art-GRAV display.

“Fucking hell.” Malcolm muttered. “The Feds?”

“No, these people are part of a different group, a group you don’t want to mess with.” McIntyer looked around himself, finished his drink and slapped Malcolm on the back. “We’ll i’ve overstayed my visit. Good luck to you Locklear. You’re going to need it.” Malcolme watched the elderly Colonel walk away from him and into the flow of guests. He felt completely like a fool, exposed and vulnerable.

He moved quickly to the bar, pulling on the arm of his friend and head of his own security for his display away from the three asian women he was currently talking with. “We need to talk.” Malcolm hissed at him, ordering a dry martini at the bar.

“Mal! God, man, I was just getting hooked up with those three. The one on the left was really digging me.”

“Alex, we’re being watched.” Malcolm said, drowning his drink in one gulp.

“Hey there take it easy. I know. I’ve noticed them at the beginning. Don’t worry the guys you’ve got at the display are keeping tight-lipped about everything. Really annoying the Japanese.” Alex said.

“You’ve noticed and didn’t tell me?”

“They’re everywhere Malcolm. It’s not just you’re artificial gravity that they’re interested in, though it’s by far the best invention here. Congrats bro.”

“Yeah thanks. Do you think we should pack it up?” Malcolm asked, calculating his best option for the situation.

“What and make us look like fools. Don’t worry. I’ll keep my eye on it. I’ll even sleep here if I can arrange it.” Alex said. “Don’t worry Mal, everything is going smoothly.”

“I want both your eyes on it. And no girls tonight.” Malcolm said. Alex was about to protest when a hand tapped his shoulder. His assistant Mrs. Monroe appeared, a crossed look on her face that added to her already harsh facial features.

“Oh god, Eve, what now?” Malcolm said, just about falling over on the bar.

“You’ve got a phone call.” Evy Monroe said impatiently. “I’ve looked everywhere for you.”

“Not now! I’ve got too much going on. Take a message.”

“I can’t Malcolm. They are asking for you, and I really do believe you have to take it.” She wasn’t budging from her stance and Malcolm knew there was no talking his way out of anything when she gave him that look. Reluctantly he followed his assistant away from the party, through a pair of heavy doors and into the much quieter lobby. There Mrs. Monroe handed Malcolm his cell.

“This is Malcolm Locklear.” He spoke into the receiver.

“Hello Mr. Locklear, this is Sarah Harding from Children’s Aid, England. I have some terrible news for you. I’m afraid you’re daughter has been seriously injured in a house explosion.”

“Ah, Ms. Harding. I think you’ve got the wrong person. I don’t have a daughter.” Malcolm said, giving Eve a very dark and annoyed look. This was so important that he had to take immediately?

“I’m afraid not Mr. Locklear. We have done some extensive research and the girl is your daughter.” Sarah answered on the other end. Malcolm gave an exasperated sigh, this night was quickly falling into ruins for him.

“Listen, Locklear is an old name. Malcolm is just as popular. You’ve got the wrong person. If you are continuing to insist I am this father of this poor girl, I will take action. If a DNA test will clear up this misunderstanding I will have my assistant give you the details.”

“I understand if this is a shock to you sir. If it helps, her mother’s name was Nyria Rison. Perhaps that name will ring a bell? Sir?”

Malcolm felt the blood drain away from his face. Nyria had a child? He had not seen the mysterious red-head for years… nearly sixteen years. Could this be true then? A pit formed in his stomach as memories of their last night together flooded through his mind. The passion, the intimacy, her laughter, the way she tasted like some undiscovered spice from some unknown land. Of all the women Malcolm had slept with over the years, Nyria was the only one who’s memory continued to come back to him.

“Was?” Malcolm managed to squeeze out of his contracting trachea.

“I’m sorry sir, it seems Ms. Rison has died.” Sarah on the other end of the line said.

“How?”

“I’m afraid I don’t have the details in front of me, though I assume it would have been in the same explosion that your daughter survived.” There was a long moment of silence between the two.

“Speak to my assistant Mrs. Monroe. She’ll handle everything.” He handed the phone absent-mindedly over to Evy and headed straight through the doors outside.

“Malcolm?” Evy called after him. “Did you want me to call the car?”

“No… I’ll walk.” Malcolm said over his shoulder. He wanted very desperately to be alone at that particular moment.

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