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Mars Explorer Story Series Installment 2: A Spy Unrealized
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A spy in their midst...
Submitted By Picard on 09/11/15
Mars Fan Fiction Site, picard, Documents 
This Document originally posted in the "Mars Fan Fiction Site" Group

The not so distant future...
In the midst of the desolation that was the crater of the first Mars Station, 3 buggies roamed. Scanners set on maximum sensitivity, they searched for the black box uplink point. Beneath the cockpit of one of the buggies, Aubrey Falconer sighed. The sensors were on a direct uplink to the main station, so all he really could do was sit here. Closing his eyes, he thought back to the tumultuous times that had followed the Board of Inquiry's findings...
1 year earlier...
"The entire staff is on edge, Aubrey." William Frederick Vorst stood across from Falconer. The normally calm and collected counselor was pacing, showing signs of tension himself. "The rumors are ranging from Martian attack to government conspiracy. The team needs a change." 
"What are you suggesting, Fred?" Falconer leaned forward slightly, awaiting Vorst's suggestion. 
"Bring in a military officer as security chief. After all, it's one of only two positions that haven't been filled yet." Simple given the government's concern for the success of this mission, and effective in calming the team. However, Falconer had some misgivings. 
"Fred, if they don't mesh with the rest of the group, it would be too late to arrange for a

replacement. And besides, we're only weeks from launch! It's too late to arrange for interviews and observation..." Falconer's voice trailed off as Vorst held up a sheet of papers, with two plastic cards attached. 
"Already taken care of. 0200 hours tomorrow at Camp Blanding. Observation, followed by interviews at your discretion. Here's your pass." Falconer turned the card that Vorst handed him over in his hand. "You think of everything, don't you Fred." 
"No, I don't. But when I start something, I do my best to make sure it works."
 Seated at a table in the far corner of Camp Blanding's Mess Hall, Falconer shifted uncomfortably. Vorst sat at his left, picking at his meal. He had arranged for lunch time observation because of the chance to see the interaction of the candidates with others. He was about to suggest that they leave, but then he saw one man in particular who stood out from the rest. Noticeable by his broad grin and the cross attached to his dog tags, he seemed friendly, but also commanding of respect. Having already gauged him as a stoic command type, Vorst was surprised when the smiling soldier walked over to the canteen's only piano and began to play. He was even more surprised when Falconer tapped his shoulder and pointed at the piano player. "That's our man."
"Name's Krieger, sir. Sergeant Christian Krieger." In a professional environment, the outgoing Krieger seemed decidedly more formal. Still, knowing that he could relax his reserved demeanor when off duty was reassuring. Falconer spoke next. "Sergeant Krieger, I'll get right to the point. Recently, you have been chosen as a candidate for the position of the Mars Exploration team's security chief." A puzzled frown passed over Krieger's face. "Sir, I wasn't aware that such a position existed." "It didn't before," replied Falconer. The hidden meaning was obvious. If the job hadn't existed before, it was because it hadn't been needed. Krieger made his decision in seconds. "I'll take the job, sir." Falconer smiled. "I was hoping you would. I have permission from your superiors to transfer a maximum of ten other military personnel to serve as your security team. Pick those who you trust. You start work in 2 days."
Despite advances in computer technology, printouts are still a preferred form of transferring information. Once read, they are discarded to await recycling. Unfortunately, not all of them make it to the recycling center.
"Why today?" Hugging his jacket close, Robert Garret walked out of the Mars Exploration complex. Several other members of the cleaning staff waved to him, but he just kept walking. The 'Human Iceberg' had his reasons for being antisocial. A brisk walk and a short drive brought him to his destination. A black suited man waited there. "Here's all I could grab from Falconer's waste bin today," Garret said, holding out several sheets of paper. The man took them. As he skimmed them, a decidedly sour look consumed his face. "Military transfer documents?" The man did not seem pleased. "They're bringing in a security team," explained Garret, shifting nervously. "Look, you're sure my sheet's clean?" "As per agreement, your record has been expunged," responded the man coldly. "However, you will have to be much more careful from now on. We will not tolerate a breach of contract." Turning swiftly, the man stiffly walked away. Garret suppressed an involuntary shudder, and then headed back to his car. He ran through a mental checklist of things to be more careful about. After all, the connotations of "will not tolerate" were disturbing.
Jason Kestrel walked into the lounge. It had been a long day, but they finally had the launch window nailed down. Time to wind down with a treat. Spiffy was polishing glasses behind the counter. "What can I get you?" he asked. "Brownie Sundae please." The lounge operator grinned. "You're in luck, got some that are fresh from the oven." Reaching under the counter, he withdrew a container of ice cream and a pan of fresh brownies. Kestrel stared curiously at the pan. "I thought you said they were fresh," he joked. "They are. I just had to use the oven out here. Andre's on a baking spree again. His secret recipe, and he doesn't want me finding it out." With a chuckle, Kestrel started to eat. Then he saw the look on Spiffy's face. An accusatory stare. "What?" Spiffy pointed at someone by the door. "What is he doing here?" Kestrel turned. The only people he saw were the new xenoarcheologist, the head of analysis, and one of the custodians. "Which one?" Spiffy pointed. "The one with the trash can. He's a runaway criminal." Kestrel shivered. It sounded ridiculous, what with the strict no felons employed policy, but Spiffy was adamant. "How do you know?" Spiffy held up his right hand. A long, thin scar ran across it. "He gave me this, didn't he?"
Christian Krieger looked up from his desk. It was his third day on the job, and already someone was under suspicion. "How do you know he's a felon?" Spiffy tossed a folder onto the desk. "These are a copy of the arrest records from the crime. He vanished from prison after someone claiming to be a lawyer payed him a visit. That, plus the fact that I can do this..." Here, Spiffy closed his right pinky against his hand. All of the other fingers remained still. Krieger tapped a few things into his computer's record search. "Spiffy, the custodian you're accusing has no criminal history. His sheet's completely clean. Maybe he just looks similar." Spiffy held up his hands. "All I ask is that you do some checking. Just because I'm certain doesn't mean I'm right." Both men laughed at the contradictory statement. Then Spiffy left, leaving Krieger to sift through records. It was going to be a long night.
Robert Garret was just emptying the last waste-bin when a black car pulled up next to him. The door was flung open. "Get in," a familiar and unwelcome voice hissed. Garret dropped the bin and climbed in. "What now," he thought. The answer quickly materialized. "You've been compromised," the black suited man explained. "The new security chief has been going through your record." Garret laughed. "That's no problem. He's been checking everyone's background." "Yours is the only one he's double checked!" replied the man angrily. "Are you sure that no one there knew you beforehand?" "Of course I'm sure! I checked all of the mission staff!" "And the food prep staff?" The man held up a photo. "This man runs the lounge. He is also the last person to speak to the new security man before your records were reexamined! Are you sure you don't know him?" Garret's denial's died in his throat. He did know this man... 
2 Years ago...
It was dark. Well past closing time for the little cafe. The manager had gone home for the night. It was as good a time as any. Quietly, Robert Garret snuck over to the window and pushed. He was in luck! They had forgot to check the locks! He slid through, and then made his way to the cash register. His pocket knife made short work of the old-fashioned lock. He stiffened...he had heard a noise...never mind. Nothing. The ding of the register opening was music to his ears. He reached for the hundreds...and a hand grabbed his wrist. "You seem to be lost, friend." The bartender! Panicking, Garret slashed at him with the knife. The man raised his right hand to grab it just a little too slow. The wound bled, but the bartender used his new hold on Garret's left hand to show just how strong his left hook was.
 Garret shuddered from the memory. The black suited man was furious. "You were supposed to check everyone!" "I'm sorry, okay? Besides, you cleared my record. I should be fine..." The glare he got silenced him. "You are not going back there! Did you at least get those bugs installed?" "Yeah, so?" The hiss of the hypospray was unexpected. Garret only had time to look down in disbelief before his eyes slid shut. "Then you are of no further use to us here," snarled the man.
An extensive manhunt began once arrest records confirmed Spiffy's assertion. However, Robert Garret was no where to be found. Security tapes showed him exiting the building, but exterior cameras were in repair at the time. Police officers were on the lookout for him 24/7 for a week, but nothing came of it. His apartment was emptied, and there was no travel itinerary or flight record. It was as if he had dropped off the face of the Earth. The realization of a felon having been amongst them shook the team, but preparations for launch went forward. Only days away from history...
 End of Part 2
PS: The music is a sort of gimmick I'm trying, courtesy of Macdane. I remix songs in Garageband using midi files and Martian Lounge.

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