Okay, here's the last bit of Desert Hiding.
Dorothy jumped about a foot in the air as she heard a shuttle burst out of ID almost in her back yard. Wait--Major Kincaid would be arriving in a shuttle, wouldn't he? It was just he arriving--with Da'an.
Alicia came pounding up the steps from the basement. "What's that? Is that a shuttle?"
"I think so," Dorothy answered.
"It SHOULD be Agent Kincaid, but..." Alicia trailed off and motioned to a couple of people to get out there with guns to make sure everything was secure.
Alicia and Dorothy followed them to the door and watched as the shuttle came to a rest in the yard. Dorothy found herself crossing her fingers.
A moment later, three men exited the shuttle. Dorothy thankfully recognized one of them from her brief conversation with him on the computer. Next was the face the entire world knew; Jonathan Doors. The other one...Dorothy blinked. Some fashion sense! Okay, she didn't know if she wanted to meet him...
The fourth figure to exit the shuttle was undoubtedly Taelon.
Alicia took a deep breathe and walked out to the shuttle to greet them. Dorothy was close behind.
"Okay, I want THIS computer set up IMMIDIETLY! Right here will be fine. Forget the rest of that stuff! This is urgent! C'mon, peoples..."
"Who put YOU in charge?" Alicia was glaring at the strangely-dressed man who had come with Major Kincaid, someone named Augur. "We don't need another computer, and there's a lot of equipment. You're stuff will have to go into storage for now."
Augur almost literally puffed up. "ABSOLUTELY NOT!! This computer is TWICE as high-tech AT LEAST than ANY of your old junk! Moreover, I came along only with the EXPRESS understanding that I could take this computer along with me!"
"What's going on?" asked Liam, sticking his head into the room.
"They won't set my computer up!" Augur complained.
Liam turned to Alicia. "We need a lot of the equipment that computer has--soon. Try to get it up ASAP. Just a warning, though, I'd try to find a permanent place for it before you do, though. It's a real hassel to move."
Augur turned and glared at Alicia as if to say, So there, I told you.
Alicia rolled her eyes but turned to a couple of technicians. "Set this...computer...up in the second room back THERE." She gestured with her hand to the chain of rooms that had been hollowed out thus far. The technicians began moving the odd-looking equipment. Augur went over to supervise.
Dorothy came walking down the stairs. "What's going on down here?"
Alicia rolled her eyes. "SOME GEEK around here who shall remain nameless had to have his computer set up class one priority."
"You mean him?" Dorothy pointed at Augur, who was telling the technicians about how fragile an odd-looking glass tube about as big as a person was.
"Yeah, him. Dorothy, I don't think you've met Major Kincaid yet. Let me introduce you. Major Kincaid, this is Dorothy Jennings, who has kindly opened her home to us."
Dorothy stepped forward and stuck out her hand. "Anything I can do to help."
Liam took it and shook. "Just call me Liam. Major Kincaid is a bit too formal."
"Liam, then. Call me Dorothy."
There was a crash and a shout from Augur. "Careful with that! If I even began to tell you how much work went into this computer..."
Alicia, Liam, and Dorothy all turned to each other, and, one by one, began to laugh.
"You may proceed to Earth," Agent Sandoval said. "Use these coordinates. You will come out on the far side of the fourth planet in the solar system, one called Mars. Stay there until further notice. You will be sheltered from scanners on the Mothership, Martian or Lunar colonies. Have Captain Marquette contact her associates with news of her whereabouts."
Ve'tra nodded. "We shall await your signal from Mars."
Liam and Dorothy were talking and laughing while Dorothy watered her houseplants and fed the animals. Then Liam got called down by Augur to help him turn HoloLili on.
Alicia stepped out onto the back porch to take a break for a few minutes. Dorothy became solemn, and sighed. She still didn't know what to do.
She finally set her watering can down with a thud and turned to Alicia.
Alicia glanced up. "What's wrong?"
Dorothy took a deep breath. "Your name isn't really Alicia Hickman, is it?"
"Maybe." Alicia was still determined to be obstinate about that. But Dorothy wasn't giving up so easily this time.
"No. Just like my name isn't really Dorothy Jennings."
Alicia sat straight up. "Huh?"
"Your name is Aubrey Simmings, isn't it?"
Alicia was silent, staring at Dorothy.
Alicia looked closer at Dorothy. "How...who told you?"
"No one told me."
"A lucky guess. You think you never knew me until you showed up on my doorstep...how many days ago was it? But you're wrong. You did know me."
Alicia was on her feet now. "Dorothy? What are you talking about?"
"You don't remember me--or recognize me. I recognized you. You said you've lived here all your life. You grew up in the Sabino district. Well, let me guess--you went to Emily Gray Jr. High, didn't you? Well, so did I."
Alicia's eyes grew wide. She looked even closer at Dorothy for a moment, then hazarded a guess.
Dorothy said nothing, but nodded, very slightly.
She smiled weakly. "Yeah. It's me."
How her entire life had gone downhill after she'd been ripped away from her family for no real reason at all when she was only thirteen. How she'd spent the next five years getting into trouble...hooking up with various gangs...being brought home three nights in a row by the police...and more that she still didn't want to talk about. How she'd left to find her parents the day she turned eighteen--only to find that they had been killed in a car accident two years before.
How she'd gotten sick of everything she'd become, changed her name, and left it all behind. Until Alicia had shown up on her doorstep one stormy night, fleeing arrest and almost certain death on an alien ship, and Dorothy had decided to help her.
And it felt good...so good...to first confess it all, then really, truely, leave it behind.
Liam's global buzzed. He pulled it out...and nearly dropped it.
He managed to catch it halfway to the floor, but he could hardly stop his hand from shaking as he brought it back up to his face.
Augur heard the exclamation and left HoloLili in the middle of a sentance to come tumbling out of the hideout to skid to a stop beside Liam and grab the global out of his hand.
"Lili! YOU'RE ALIVE!!!"
For once, Lili didn't roll her eyes. She smiled. "Yes, Augur. I'm alive. And I'm coming back to Earth."
"Soon. I'm not sure when. Give the global back to Liam, please."
"Huh? Oh, oh yeah, sure, here." Augur thrust the global back into Liam's hands.
Liam, meanwhile, had gone to the foot of the stairs and called Alicia and Dorothy down to the basement.
"What is it?" Dorothy asked.
"Lili--that is, Captain Marquette is safe!"
"Safe?" Alicia asked. "Oh, by the way, Cari called. She said she nearly got caught entering the virus, which was why it took so long to initiate up on the Mothership. So, Captain Marquette DID get away?"
Da'an followed the two women into the room. "Lili called you?" he asked.
"She's on my global!" Liam waved the global around joyfully, then seemed to remember that Lili was still on the line and waiting very patiently for him to stop dancing around so she could tell him something.
Da'an walked over to peer over Liam's shoulder. "Greetings, Captain."
"Da'an! Liam got you off the Mothership! Thank goodness! Okay, that's ONE order of buisness taken care of."
"What's going on?" asked Liam.
"Well, you'll never guess where I am."
"Nope! I'm in a Taelon ship--in orbit around Mars!"
Even Da'an seemed startled.
"Okay, look, the Captain, Ve'tra, is giving me impatient looks so I'll just spill it."
"Ve'tra?!" Da'an asked, seeming to recognize the name.
"Relax, Da'an. I think I've managed to convince them you'll not an overbearing egocentric invading monster like Zo'or. Anyway, look. Do you remember Be'li?"
"Well, apparently SANDOVAL, of all people, is working for the other Taelons he spoke of. Sandoval was the one who got me off the Mothership, then sent me to a rendezvous with these people. We're in orbit around Mars, and as soon as we get the signal, we're going to jump to orbit around Earth. I'm not sure what they have in mind, but I know Ve'tra is at least going to interrupt worldwide news broadcasts with an announcement about what Zo'or is really planning for Earth, and who knows what else. The idea is to make utter chaos break loose down on Earth, at which point the Resistance needs to be ready to jump in and organize things, and make sure all the Volunteers down there don't try to cause trouble. Can you do it?"
Liam seemed to digest this outburst, but then begin to smile.
"You mean...a final confrontation? Out in the open?
"That's exactly what I mean, Liam."
Liam really began to smile. "We'll be ready."
"Good," Lili said, then smiled herself. "We're going to win this war!"
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