“This is Voldazek Mekoren,” said a pleasant but business-like voice from several hundred light years away. Hana was in a secure communications room onboard Heart of the Galaxy, calling a man whom her contacts in the Republic indicated could help them defect. “How can I help you?”
“Mr. Mekoren,” Hana replied, “you don’t know me personally, but you may have heard of me before. My name is Hana Lodimeur.”
“Ah, yes,” said Mekoren, still pleasant and business-like, but with a sudden undertone of wariness, “I have heard of you. What would someone like you want with the likes of me?”
“You are the Republic’s liaison with Fangalin, are you not?” Hana asked. Despite officially being at war with each other, the four states that divided up the known galaxy still needed to coexist to some extent, so each state had officials who were in charge of diplomatic relations with the other three states. In no case would any of the states admit that such officials existed, since none of the states officially recognized the existence of the other three, but the liaisons did exist. You just had to know where to look.
“That…may be one of my…unofficial roles,” Mekoren said carefully. “But, I ask you again, what would someone like you want with the likes of me?”
“Mr. Mekoren, I, and several of my associates, would like to formally request asylum with the Republic of Hadramoris,” Hana said, more calmly than she felt. There was a long pause on the other end of the connection.
“Yes, I can see why you might,” Mekoren replied eventually. “Well, the Republic would certainly welcome somebody with your skill set, and given recent upheavals within Fangalin, I doubt anyone would question your motives. There are at least a dozen outstanding warrants for your arrest, but I believe those can be taken care of. You said that several of your associates wish to defect with you?”
“Yes,” Hana said, “every member of my unit, Starfengt, is also requesting asylum.”
“I see,” Mekoren said slowly. “Well, I believe there may be outstanding warrants for their arrest as well, at least for some them. You will have to send me their names so I can make sure the matter is cleared up.”
“Of course,” Hana replied. “In addition, Captain Kyla Vertrane and her crew would also like to request asylum.”
“Vertrane…Vertrane,” Mekoren muttered. “That name sounds familiar.”
“It should,” Hana said, “Captain Vertrane is the owner of the freighter Fluttermask.”
“Ah ha,” Mekoren replied, his voice level, but still carrying a slight note of surprise. “That…might be a bit of a problem. You see, a prominent citizen of the Republic, a man by the name of Grolder Hanh, has claimed for years that Fluttermask was stolen from him by the woman who now flies it in service of Fangalin. He has been petitioning the Senate and the President for years to mount a raid to retrieve his property. He may not be…pleased, if Kyla Vertrane were granted asylum and allowed to keep his ship.”
“Captain Vertrane is the rightful owner of Fluttermask,” Hana replied firmly. “It was not stolen from Grolder Hanh. Hanh was paid in full for the vessel by Treben Holkas, who was acting as an agent for Fangalin. Regardless of how Grolder Hanh, as a loyal Republican patriot, might feel about accepting money from an enemy state, the fact remains that he willingly sold Fluttermask to Kyla Vertrane, and he received full payment.”
“I assume you have proof of this sale?” Mekoren asked.
“Of course,” replied Hana.
“Then there should not be an issue,” Mekoren said, sounding satisfied. “The President has been anxious to get Hanh off his back for some time. He will be pleased to have an excuse to say no to Hanh once and for all.”
“Excellent,” Hana said. “Oh yes, there are a few more people who wish to defect with me.”
“Of course,” Mekoren said smoothly.
“The 9th Brigade of the Fangalin Army, and the 3rd Fleet of the Fangalin Navy,” Hana said. There was a long pause after this.
“Um…please repeat what you just said,” Mekoren said slowly. Hana did so, with a smile on her face. “An entire brigade of troops?” Mekoren asked in a wondering voice, “and, did you say the 3rd Fleet?”
“I did,” Hana replied, her smile growing wider.
“Correct me if I’m wrong,” Mekoren said, “but doesn’t the 3rd Fleet include Heart of the Galaxy?”
“It does,” Hana said, feeling quite pleased with herself.
“By the One,” Mekoren breathed. “That…that’s quite impressive, Ms. Lodimeur.”
“Why, thank you,” Hana said lightly. “Does this mean you will accept our petition for asylum?”
“Well, it is, of course, not my decision to make,” Mekoren replied, sounding a little more like his normal self. “Such a high level defection will have to be approved by President Trilis himself, but I highly doubt he will turn you down.”
“I suspect your opinion does count for something, though, does it not?” Hana said, figuring it couldn’t hurt to butter Mekoren up a little.
“It may,” Mekoren replied, “but in any case I need to brief the President and his advisors. I suspect I will be contacting you shortly, Ms. Lodimeur.”
“Of course, Mr. Mekoren,” Hana replied. “Thank you for your assistance.” There was a click as Mekoren severed the connection, and Hana sat back with a grin on her face. That had indeed gone well. Mekoren had been duly impressed that she was managing to defect with Fangalin’s newest and most powerful warship. Of course, it had been a happy coincidence that Heart of the Galaxy’s captain was an old friend of Hana’s. But Hana would take whatever she could get.
Her smile faded as she thought about the import of what she’d done. Soon, she would no longer be a citizen of Fangalin. She had taken the first step to leave behind her old loyalties and begin serving a new country. It was hard not to feel melancholy about that, but it had to be done. Shaking her head with a slight sneer, she stood up and left the communications booth. There was no time to sit and feel sorry for herself. There was too much work to be done.