The Hades Connection
by Gabriel S. Timar
part 1 of 2
The last things George Pike remembered about his life on Earth were the suntanned, streamlined, naked body of Lynn, the report of a gun, the bullet hole in the wood paneling, and his blood on the white carpet next to the black towel.
The next thing he knows, he’s being welcomed to the Third Dimension, where he has a choice not only of afterlifes but of accommodations and a new body, as well. George signs up with Hades, Ltd., a corporation that seems to be the best of a dubious lot.
George very much enjoys being welcomed by Arabella, who is not only highly efficient but something of a race car driver. And yet she has asked one question he cannot answer: how he died. Neither he nor anyone else seems to know. Now George must meet the head of Hades, Ltd., a certain Mr. Lucifer... and prepare himself for a career as a double agent in interstellar intrigue.
I issued my instructions to Commander Nelson-Sired: proceed to Earth according to our revised flight plan, giving Canopus a wide berth. Attain a stable polar parking orbit and contact the “Baby” on the priority channel.
If there were no reply within twenty-four hours, assume that my mission to negotiate with the terrestrial leaders had failed and that Esther and I were dead. Should that happen, I ordered him to start the neutralization of all terrestrial military and spaceport installations.
In addition, I told him that in case someone gave him orders in the name of the Khomu High Command by electronic means, he should disregard the orders unless the code word “Hades” was in the text. Anybody showing up with instructions for him was suspect. If the messenger did not have the code word, the commander should arrest the courier and keep him in the brig in a straitjacket until further notice from me.
After saying farewell to the Nimrod, I took a skeleton crew with Fedorov as second in command; Teri Garfield left the ship and boarded the shuttlecraft as third officer. After the virgin birth, the mother ship disappeared. I took over the navigational controls and input the Calendron coordinates of a high orbit around Earth into the computer. Fedorov was sitting at the engine controls, awaiting my orders.
“As Captain Picard would say, ‘Engage, Mister Fedorov’,” I said with a smile.
Obviously, he was familiar with the classics of science fiction, because he replied with a broad smile: “Aye aye, sir,” and threw the control lever of the inertia drive.
For a fraction of a second, I felt completely disoriented. Slowly regaining my faculties, I realized that the main source of my discomfort was the lack of gravity, because the “Baby” was in a high parking orbit of my former home, the green little Terra.
We tested our navigational and communication systems thoroughly and found them in working order. I thought that by using the inertia drive we could land the “Baby” practically anywhere on the planet.
I had Fedorov practice a few landings in desolate places. For a little innocent fun, he parked the ship on a moving freight train. The brakeman in the caboose must have had the shock of his life and sworn off coffee for a while.
We tested our handheld communicators several times under the most difficult conditions. They worked well on the ship, off the ship, in the Arctic, and in the equatorial rain forest. In addition to the communicators, we carried a couple of emergency beacons, which looked like medicine. To activate them we had to swallow a little yellow capsule. If Esther or I activated one, I ordered Fedorov to find and retrieve us.
I also authorized the use of as much force as he needed during the recovery. After setting up the communication protocol, and working out a system to convert our Calendron coordinates to terrestrial ones, the project had actually begun.
* * *
We had nothing on board meeting the dress code of the early twenty-first century. Therefore, we wore the work outfit of the Nimrod’s engineers; it resembled the leather suits worn by motorcycle enthusiasts, although we removed the qualification badges and rank insignias. Our improvised outfits were supposed to be elegant in biker circles, and I am sure the average Hell’s Angel would have turned green with envy at the sight of our leather-like overalls.
We had plenty of money, about fifty thousand Canadian dollars in cash acquired from the Khomu museums. If we needed more, Fedorov had a few kilos of gold bars stamped by the Bank of Argentina. We had the proper papers as the Nimrod’s printer produced reasonable facsimiles of Newfoundland driver’s licenses, health, and social insurance cards for both of us.
We armed ourselves with a stun gun and a laser pistol. After the preparations, we landed along the Trans-Canada Highway in an open field somewhere near the town of Whitby, and left the ship.
I did not want to risk being picked up by the police for hitchhiking on a controlled-access highway like the good old 401. Therefore, we had to walk a long way before reaching Whitby. After traveling in space for months, our bodies were not accustomed to long hikes.
Taking a room at the first motel, we collapsed onto the bed, and immediately fell into a deep slumber, the twin brother of death. Next morning we got up and went to work. Checking the newspapers, I realized that Fedorov had succeeded in landing and taking off unobserved, because neither the police nor the worthy UFO researchers had noticed anything.
First, we visited the nearest branch of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and bought travelers’ cheques for a few thousand dollars. Then we hit the streets and bought more travelers’ cheques at a couple of other banks.
At the third bank, I opened an account depositing all the travelers’ cheques and some of the cash. Now, we were set up. The probability was slim that the police would ask embarrassing questions about us. In a Zeller’s department store, we bought some basic clothes. While Esther was buying other necessities, like cosmetics, I rented a two-year old New Yorker in mint condition.
We had lunch at a MacDonald’s, since Esther was craving a Big Mac. During my terrestrial life, I had continuous weight problems and never ate junk food, although I loved the stuff. The greasier it was, the better I liked it. This time I skipped on the diet and happily stuffed myself with several hamburgers.
After lunch, we decided to find an operating base. Since I was bloated and my stomach was beginning to hurt, I took some antacids and asked Esther to drive. She handled the New Yorker like a pro as we thundered down Highway 401 toward the west.
It had been many years since I visited the Toronto area; the many changes created the impression of a strange city. I wanted to set up our operating base somewhere in Mississauga, as this was the only city outside of Newfoundland that I knew well enough.
I had had a semi-serious love affair with a married lady while I was a student at the university. She got me a job with her husband’s law firm in Mississauga. I lived there for two summers, spending many wonderful months commuting between the office, the tennis club in Kennedy Park, and her bedroom. That was perhaps the happiest period of my life. Those were the days, my friend...
“The motels should not be very far from here,” I said after cruising for half an hour. “You have to turn south on 427, exit at Dundas and head west again. It’s no more than twenty miles.”
My estimate was close. In about twenty-five minutes we arrived at the Castle Motel on Dundas Street. I realized that Mississauga had also changed a great deal since my last visit.
We found plenty of vacant units and registered as Mr. and Mrs. Vardy from St. John’s Newfoundland. Incidentally, there are many Vardys in Newfoundland. Allegedly, all hail from an adventurous Hungarian sailor who decided to conquer the new world. He almost succeeded; the Vardys of Newfoundland became a distinguished family and seafaring aristocracy.
We settled in our comfortable room, took a quick shower and begun to work on contacting the leaders of the planet. It was not easy. We had acquired the fast ship too soon, and I had had no time to plan my moves. When I thought about it a little more, I realized that if I had had ten years to prepare, it would not have made any difference. I concluded that I had to improvise, perhaps tap the expertise of some very special terrestrials.
The main question was whom I should contact. Who speaks for the planet? I did not think there was any such person, although the leaders of many religious and secular organizations claimed to represent the majority of the Earth’s population by election, appointment, or divine order.
If I worked for the competition under the guidance of Father Golding, I am sure, he would have me call the Pope first. However, as I was working for Mr. Lucifer, the Pope didn’t top my list. In fact, the idea of visiting him did not even cross my mind. I considered contacting the U.N. Security Council, but I quickly discarded the notion. As far as I was concerned, they were just a bunch of political “has been” bums who could not find their own arses with both hands.
The President of the United States looked like a good prospect, but if I talked to him first, many other countries would claim that my attempt to correct the Earth’s orbit was an American ploy to achieve world domination. Besides, one just doesn’t call the White House and ask to speak to the President.
Maybe I should approach the Russians as well. That seemed like a good idea, but what about the Chinese and the Japanese? If I left them out, they would lose face, and to them loss of face is a fate worse than death.
How about the Europeans? I should not leave them out because most of the world’s wealth is concentrated in their banks. If I took in everybody on initial contact, I would end up talking to the U.N. General Assembly. That would be an unmitigated disaster. Apart from the undesirable big splash in the media, one cannot accomplish anything through the United Nations.
Copyright © 2004 by Gabriel S. Timar