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New York – Locklear Enterprises

“I’m surprised you came back in once piece.” Wyess said, eyeing Rhel as he entered the underground lounge the next day. “I take it everything went according to your plan?”

“Yup.” The dark-haired alien said, jumping onto the leather sofa across from his partner in crime. “I told you, they can’t finish the project without me. Even promised to get them up in the air before Christmas. That certainly raised her interests. I could see it all over her face. The fame, the commendation, maybe another promotion for our Lieutenant Colonel.”

“That’s… three months away.” Wyess said with a frown. “And you’re not even a licensed mechanic.”

“Hey, I know my way around a ship. When I had mine, I kept it in good condition, I knew how to fix it on the move. As long as I had oxygen and the engines were running, I was good.”

“Until you reach a station and got a tune up.” Wyess said. “So, what exactly are you going to be doing for our Lt. Colonel?” At hearing the question, Rhel threw his tablet over to the lizard looking alien to look at himself. “Locklear Enterprises? What’s going on, are they actually using Locklear’s equipment?”

“They must be. They want me to work with him on his Art-GRAVE device… and do some snoopy.”

“They said that?” Wyess asked, a startled expression on his face, before he let out a laugh. “They wan to use you as a mole to spy on someone else. This… is almost brilliant.”

“Brilliant?” Rhel said with outrage? “I want to see the ship Wyess. To know what exactly we are working with. Instead, they’ve kept me as far away from Area 51 as they could. I could care less about Locklear’s equipment. Do you know, Frazier told me… they’v scattered the work on this ship over the country. It sounds like they’ve got other scientists and people working on different parts of it, as if it’s some sort of jigsaw puzzle.”

“That’s going to make it harder to steal. But not impossible. You said the last time you were at Area 51, the ship they had confiscated was in relatively good condition, right?”

“Yeah, besides the power supply and computer system being down, and some damage to the engines and haul, it was in relatively one piece. But that was almost sixteen years ago. They could have broken it up since…”

“Hey, I understand curious minds wanting to investigate an alien ship. But Rhel, why break something when it’s not broken. If anything I think it’s still in one piece.” Wyess said, though his optimistic remarks were lost on Rhel. “Hey, but you’re technically on their payroll now, right?”

“Yeah…”

“Well, you are teamed up with a hacker. If you can get to Area 51, I can probably get you enough clearance to let you through.”

“Seriously Wyess?” Rhel asked, his eyes brightening.

“Not right away, but… I can, and will. Like you, we need to know exactly what we’re working with and what we need to get.”

“Well, one thing at a time. Speaking of time, it’s time that I’ve reported for work.” Rhel said getting up. “How’s everything else going, the fight?”

“Good. We’ve got a dozen or so competitors, though we’re going to keep it open until the last-minute. But it should be a good show. Your investors at least seem impress.” Wyess said, going back to old business.

“And those behind the moon?”

“Don’t know why you keep thinking about them. They haven’t replied to anything, not even that flyer. To me their just dicks, if they wanted anything they would have come and got it already.”

“Maybe they’re having mechanic problems too?” Rhel guessed with a wink before heading out of the lounge.

***

A few days later, Rhel stood before the mighty Locklear Enterprises’s glass doors. He had traded in his goth attire for a business everyday suit. Navy blue in colour with black dress shoes and a white collared shirt that was left unbuttoned around the neck. He still had his sunglasses though, and they served the Airgryd well. Right away he was able to detect the security camera’s, the laser grid, as well as seeing a few incredible looking devices underground.

As impressed as the alien was by the advance technology Locklear seemed to be hiding, something nagged at Rhel as he walked through the doors and removed his glasses. He always knew that private industries produced the most advanced technology and machines of the day, with an unlimited pocket supply, it made sense. But what triggered Rhel was how similar some of those technologies were.

“Hello there young lady.” Rhel said towards the receptionist. “Rhel Valentine. I’ve been told to report here for my new project?”

“Yes, your late.” The feminine voice did not come from the blond-haired women behind the desk, but from a darker haired woman with glasses behind him. “Follow me, you are already missing the briefing with your fellow… interns.”

“My apologies. My watch must be running late.” Rhel said as they entered a nearby elevator.

“My name is Eve Monroe, and I am Mr. Locklear’s personal assistant.”

“How personal?” Rhel asked, giving the woman a wink. It seemed to have the desired effect as she blushed and shifted in her stance.

“Rhel Valentine? Is that correct? I hope you’re not related the Valentine Hacker that had the military hopping for a while there.” Eve replied back, her voice cold as ice. It was clear that this woman had done her homework on him.

He gave her a coy smile. “The very same. Don’t worry, I promise to be on my best behaviour.”

The doors opened onto a catwalk that spread out and above a number of lab stations below them. Rhel’s unease came back as he recognized some of the basics of his own planet’s technology in use. They may not have the crystals to power them, but the routing system, and capabilities were still there. Why hadn’t he tried to hack into Locklear Enterprises before? Had Rhel known all this was stash here, he may not have wasted his time with Frazier.

“Impressive set up.” Rhel observed. “Not that far off from the military’s project.”

Eve turned her head sideways to scrutinize him with an evil eye. “Locklear was part of a classified project with the military sixteen years ago. He… gleaned some useful information and expanded on the basic principles.”

“So that’s how he was able to get that Art-GRAVe device to work. I’m guess his latest computer hardware is also a gleaned bit of tech he managed to secure?”

“Locklear’s laywers have all of this technology patented and copyrighted. The military can’t prove anything given the classified nature of the original files.” Eve said, a small grin on her face. “The Art-Grave device is really just a hobby for Locklear, but he managed to grab more attention than he anticipated when he revealed it last month. Perhaps all this extra people can actually be of some service.”

They entered a hallway and Eve Monroe stopped in front of the door. “Here you go Mr. Valentine. Good luck.”

Rhel opened the door and found a group of a dozen or so people, some in lab coats, others in the air force uniform. All were going over a binder of information, a contract or something. There was another man at the front, though it wasn’t Locklear. Sliding into a seat, and grabbing a binder himself Rhel felt like today was going to be a long, boring day.

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