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A-to-Z Challenge — Letter P

April 19, 2015

Plans and Proposals
Astraeus Earth Force Station, 2115 A.D.

Plans were falling into place. Jack Sparks had been instructed on what he must do to ensure his own freedom and the blueprints were due to arrive within an hour. Rourke felt confident that with those blueprints, Davies’ team would find the hidden Makaa and Jack Sparks would help them trap The Reaper. He sat in the Galley across from the most gorgeous woman in the galaxy, and yet, his thoughts were on work. That was about to change. He cast aside work and smiled at Ananda. They’d just had a delicious meal and dessert and were on their third glass of wine. He hated to end the magical moments they’d spent in the last two hours.

“You look serious, Jeremy,” Dr. Agarwal began as she reached across the table and placed her small hand over Rourke’s. She watched him closely, tilting her head to the side. “I wish you would let me give you something to help you sleep.”

“Ananda, it isn’t sleep that I need,” he whispered as he winked at her.

Dr. Agarwal blushed. “Oh Jeremy, neither of us have time for that, not with our work schedules.”

Rourke took her hand in his and bent his head down. He kissed her hand and then raised his eyes up to hers. “That’s the problem. We both work far too hard and play so little. Ananda. We’ve known each other for five years and we’ve danced around our feelings for one another for two of those years. We should make our relationship official.”

“Official how? It’s no secret on this Station that we date, Jeremy,” she stated as she massaged his hand with her forefinger.

Rourke glanced down at their hands and returned the caressing strokes. “I wanted to wait until all of this mess was over, but there will always be another crisis and another and another. There are no perfect moments and life is impermanent,” he stopped and looked up into her brown eyes, then released her hand. “Ananda, when I asked you to join me this evening for dinner, I wasn’t sure I would go through with this,” he paused again and stood up, then knelt down before her, removing a box from his jacket. “I love you, Ananda. And I don’t care if we only spend five minutes a day with one another. Those will be five cherished minutes.”

Rourke opened the box and revealed a sapphire ring encircled with small diamonds. “I know you don’t like diamonds, but I am hopeful that you will accept this ring and accept my proposal of marriage.”

Dr. Agarwal lifted a hand to cover her gaping mouth. Tears streamed down her face, smudging her mascara. “Are you sure, Jeremy?” she questioned, still in shock.

“I have never been surer in my life. After Evelyn died, I never thought I would love another woman, Ananda. You have shown me that not only could I love again, but that I want to take you as my wife. Ananda, will you do me the honor?” He remained on his knees, his eyes focused only on her as he moved the box with the ring closer to her.

“Yes! Oh yes, Jeremy!” she exclaimed and slid down off of the chair to join him on the floor. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him, a long lingering kiss.

When their lips parted, Rourke removed the ring and placed it on Dr. Agarwal’s finger. He held her in his arms and pressed her head against his chest. This felt right, real. The most real of anything in a long time. After a few moments, he released her, stood up and offered her his hand.

“I want us to make a formal announcement tomorrow. I think we could all use some good news on this Station. Don’t you think so?” Rourke asked her as they both sat back in their seats.

She nodded her head as she stared at the ring on her finger. “I think that is an excellent idea, Jeremy.” Dr. Agarwal sighed contently and looked up into Rourke’s sparkling blue eyes. She’d never seen him happier and she was grateful that it was she who had given him that moment of happiness.

They sipped more wine and chatted about the upcoming announcement and the need to contact Dr. Agarwal’s parents and Rourke’s daughter. After another half-hour, Rourke looked down at his link-in for the time. He sighed. This wonderful evening was about to come to a close.

“I don’t want to talk business, my darling fiancé, but I do have to meet with Chief Davies. Do you mind if I come to your quarters afterwards?”

“Of course. I need to get back to the Labs for a bit anyway,” she said, smiling brightly. “You go talk shop and I will see you later tonight.”

They stood and kissed again, and held one another for another moment. Finally, they released one another, smiled and walked out of the Galley arms entwined, only separating when they had to leave the elevator to their separate floors.

___________________________________________

The Earth Gov courier arrived safely, transferred the blueprints to Commander Rourke and was shown quarters for the duration of his stay on the Astraeus. Everything was going according to plan. Rourke had a light-board set up in Command Center and called Davies and Michael Chen to join him. It was 2100, military time. They had their work cut out to get the ball rolling for morning when the search would begin in Black Sector 5.

Rourke, Davies and Chen stood around the light-board studying not one, but two modified blueprints. If this Sector had been completed, the President of the UCE could have slipped on board the Astraeus undetected and remained there indefinitely without being detected. A channel from docking had been designed that would have spirited the President away, up a secure lift and into the modified living quarters. Sleeping quarters for the First Family, an individual galley, a command center, and even a rec room had been laid out in the plans. Only a few of those areas had been completed and most of the construction never commenced. Chen marked off the two hidden sections that had already been discovered.

“There appears to be fake partitions here and here,” Chen said, pointing to two locations on the first blueprint. “Those would have been necessary to hide their work from the engineers and construction workers not commissioned for the job, sirs.”

“Were you commissioned, Mr. Chen?” Davies inquired.

“I was to begin working on this section here,” Chen replied, pointing to the first of the two areas he had just pointed out. “They pulled the job the day before.”

“I figured as much, Mr. Chen. Admiral Chase said you had the necessary clearance,” Rourke said.

“Yes, sir. If you will look here, on the second set of blueprints,” Chen continued, unfathomed by what he considered politics, and leaned over the table. He placed a finger on a different section. “This is where the living quarters would have been. I remember there being a lot of activity in that area a week before shut-down.”

Rourke studied the area for a few minutes as he ran his hand over his stubbled chin. “In your expert opinion, Mr. Chen, do you think they could have gotten far in their construction there?”

“Centrifuge was running construction day and night, sir. The men worked twelve hour shifts and then another crew came in and worked their twelve. In a week, I would say they could have nearly completed the work, minus furnishings of course.”

“This partition…,” Davies began, then went to get the original blueprints and overlaid them on the modified ones. He continued, “It is the east wall of Spark’s casino.”

“I should have seen that immediately, sirs,” Chen confessed, lowering his eyes.

“No worries, Mr. Chen. I get a little tunnel vision now and again too. That’s why we have three sets of eyes on these blueprints,” Rourke reassured the young engineer. He turned his attention to Davies. “I think we should begin there, Chief. Have your men assembled and ready at 0600. I don’t want to waste a second of the day in this search.”

“Will do, Commander,” Davies replied and began clicking on his link-in. He sent secure messages to his three trusted officers – Shannehey, Tomas and Hicks. “They will be ready, sir,” he concluded.

“Mr. Chen, I will need your assistance as well. Can you be ready to join us?” Rourke asked.

“Yes, sir!” the young engineer exclaimed. This was the most excitement he’d had since they shut down the project.

Rourke rolled up the blueprints and put them into the safe. “Very well, gentlemen. I will see you both at 0600 in Black Sector 5. And now, if you will excuse me, I have an important date with a gorgeous doctor,” Rourke said as he smiled and threw a wink at Davies. It was 2215, military time. He just hoped that Ananda was still awake.

(more to come in the challenge!)

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