2086-07-02 – 1438
Edvard Kruzakian took a second look at the piece of paper his boss had given him. He was small and fine-boned, and appeared even more so in the grey suit the company had mandated their employees wear to work. And he wasn't quite sure he was in the right place. But he'd been told to go into the spaceship in bay 29, into the engine room, and connect the thingy he'd gotten along with his order to some other thingies he'd find inside the case of whatever-that-was the description on the crumpled order-sheet showed.
He had no idea if he was doing it right, since usually he didn't do spaceship repairs.
Ed was an accountant, civilian pay grade A15 subsection 15, security classification 8B, which basically meant he was allowed to know the names on the pay checks that wandered across his desk. His technical abilities extended no further than changing the toner for the copy machine in the open-plan office he worked in with about fifty of his colleagues.
He had no idea whatsoever what he had done here.
He wasn't the first.
2086-07-02 – 1714
Mary Sebastian held the spiral wire up against the flickering light and tried to decide which end was "up" since the scribbled note in her inbox had ordered her to put the "up"-end of the spiral wire (type EF1652-4) she had been told to get from the supply department into the opening marked with a red cross and tighten the screw till it was impossible to pull it out even with her full weight. A considerable task. Mary Sebastian was a permanent member of the local Weight Watchers group and – to her great regret – also their most prominent failure.
She threw another look at the spiral wire that dangled down from her round fingers, bouncing up and down like one of her five year old granddaughter's corkscrew curls. And the ends looked identical to her. She had no idea what she was doing here, only a week before she would retire and move to the nice little apartment in Florida she'd saved her money for through almost all the forty-five years she'd been working.
Mary had always thought spaceships were roomier than this narrow compartment.
2086-07-03 – 1038
"Oooh, Lester." The charming young officer in her tight fitting uniform of blindingly bright white who'd introduced herself to him as 'Susi with an "I"' beamed at him, thankfully oblivious to his open gape at her front-side. "I'm so glad you can do this for me. I'm to report to the admiral in an hour and if I go in there and put in that chip, I'm sure I'll get covered from head to toe in some slimy gunk and then I'd never make it in time. Really..." she beat impossible eyelashes at him, and nearly chased him up the ramp and down into that engine compartment.
For a brief moment, Lester noticed she needn't have worried about her appearance. This was the cleanest place he'd ever been in, probably including the hospital where his Mom had given birth to him nineteen years ago. His mother certainly wouldn't have imagined her son would be delivering pizzas now and rescuing breath-taking navy cadets with red blonde curls from the horror of scratching a nail.
He pressed the simple black rectangular chip into the socket and was rewarded with a couple of red LEDs lighting up around it. As red as...
Forget it, Lester, he berated himself, shrugging, and sticking his tasteless chewed bubblegum under the low ceiling of the compartment next to the entrance lock. That hottie's the chick of some officer with a ton of medals. She'll never let me and my cheesy pizza fingers into her bleached pants...
He was right, she was gone when he left the vessel. Damn. He should have asked for her number before he went in.
Behind an unmarked office door
"And you are sure nobody knowing the plans ever came near it?" The voice came from behind the high back of a glossy polished dark leather armchair, behind a desk so perfectly clean it appeared completely unused. Its back so high it was impossible to see from the door whether or not it was occupied. But she knew that it was. She didn't work for somebody who made mistakes.
"Yes, sir. The ship was manufactured as a standard model for Earth's Armed Forces in the Australian wharfs, then flown to Phoenix spaceport."
"What about the addition?"
"Assembled from standard components offered by electronic shops, brought and connected by people without any knowledge of what they were doing."
An arm, wrapped in a dark grey custom suit sleeve, appeared on the arm of the chair. A strong though elegant hand brushed with finely trimmed nails across the rich dark leather, before it came to rest. "Any possibility that one of the last assemblers guessed the purpose of the installation?"
"We took care that the last people seeing the construct had no technical knowledge whatsoever. The final one was a pizza delivery guy whose sole hobby is getting brainless chicks into his bed." The woman's voice indicated clearly what she thought of the man in question.
"Good." The dark leather chair straightened but didn't turn. "Dismissed."
"As you wish, sir." The woman clicked her heels and left the room with swift, precise movements, her muscles far too well trained to have the "lush curves" the lecher this morning had admired so blatantly that she'd have loved to smash his face on the concrete earlier in the day.
He swivelled around after she'd left and reached for the scrambled comm.
All that was left to do now, was find the right person to make the gift...
"A gift for my homeworld?" Niko asked, disbelieving. "I'm sorry, sir, but–"
"No need to be sorry." The charming older man with the gray-white hair seemed to nod all the time. "Look, I am just the messenger. You must see Earth created the Galaxy Ranger program mostly to fulfill its League duties and now it seems that we have gained the goodwill of a non-League world."
"But I am here solely on my own volition, Mr. Sorensen," Niko protested.
"Of course you are. But your people let you go." He nodded again and for a brief moment she wondered if his glasses would jump off his nose if he nodded any more vigorously. "And Earth wants to honor the courage of the first non-League member's help fighting crime throughout the galaxy. We accept that your people prefer to stay unknown." Again that birdlike nodding. "All I ask of you is to contact them, so they can come and take their gift. It will stay where it is."
"My people don't like attention, Mr. Sorensen," she said softly.
"They can come and take it without any ceremony if they prefer it that way. We just hope they like it. Please forward this to your people. That's all we're asking for."
---------- – --:--
Ariel was the last of the Circle of Thoughts who remained at the remote location where their power had set down the technical gimmick Earth had insisted on giving them. An amused smile whizzed over her impressive face and she was tempted to have a fierce reflexion flash off her spectacles just for the effect.
The spaceship in itself was nothing but a toy. But a toy constructed with skill and dedication and pride by those who created and assembled it. And it was that pride and dedication imprinted in it that made it a valuable gift even in the eyes of the members of the Circle of Thoughts. Except of one tiny part in it.
Ariel shook her head. Terrans. Children.
The temptation got the better of her and the imagined reflexion sprang off the silver nose bridge and ricochetted like the flash of a superhero comic figure across the orchid-covered clearing in the colorful trumpet calyx forest.
It worked just one time in your history. Three thousand years ago. And they still believe that nobody's read the Iliad since then.
With that humorous thought she turned the tiny locator device hidden in the engine compartment into a wooden horse.
Thanks go to S. 'Trivia' Blank for finding the Troian horses filled with mistakes in this. Thank you!
Equus Danai = Danaan Horse. "Danaans" was one of the three names Homer used for the Greeks attacking Troy in his epic The Iliad.