"I'll get you out of here," declared the dark haired man with heavy eyes to match.
"You know as well as I do," replied the other man, "once we're caught: we're caught. I knew the risks. Michael, watch yourself " if they discovered me they might be onto you. How did you get to see me?"
"I pulled some strings, I can see about pulling more" answered Michael.
"They'll be watching us," insisted Michael's acquaintance, "do you not think they'll find it strange that you just randomly come in for a chat? An executive comes to chat to a techie?"
"They are probably watching us, Adam," said Michael, "but it's fine, we can talk: they can't hear us. Now let me see what I can do, talk to me."
Adam sat there with a fading glimmer in his eyes, he knew the situation, one he feared but had to accept.
"How long have we known each other? Eight years? No one has ever gotten out once found. We're at war Michael; we'd do the same to them."
"I'm high up," insisted Michael, "they don't know who I am! I can say I'm taking you away." There was a pause as Michael's eyes met with Adam's. "But first I need to know what you got through to our Colonies; it's why I'm here. I'll tell them the least important parts and say that's all you found out."
"You're playing a risky game; it doesn't seem worth the trouble. I got the information out, I served my role."
"But you know how to analyse better than anyone! It took you four years to crack Earth's intelligence network when it would have taken others a life time!"
"I appreciate the compliments Michael, I really do, but it's taken you far too long to get so deep into their hierarchy to risk it for me."
Michael again stared at Adam. "Trust me," he said, "I know what I'm doing. So tell me " how long before the Colonies are able to send the information back home?"
"I didn't send it to the Colonies," corrected Adam, "I was only able to send it to Gossa before I was discovered."
"Gossa! That was dangerous" Michael highlighted, "if it was traced..."
"I know, I know " I didn't have time. I sent it to the resistance group on the planet."
Michael looked confused. "You were in contact with Gossa's resistance? Why did you never tell me this?"
"Why would I have?" replied Adam
"That's true," agreed Michael, "it's just maybe I could have helped you more.
"Maybe so, but it's a bit late for that now."
"What of the data?" questioned Michael.
"They'll forward it on to HQ when they can. I suspect it will take at least a week before they're back in communication. They're staying of the radar for a while"
"Can you tell me where they are?" Michael asked. "Maybe I can contact them."
"I don't know where they are. No one does, I don't think they do," joked Adam before his smile faded at the realisation that it was almost certainly his last.
"How did you send it then?"
"A while ago they told me to send it to an orbiting beacon, it was a very scrambled address and even then, who knows where it goes."
"Now tell me: what data did you gather?"
"Well," hedged Adam, "you're going to have to lie to your superiors completely about this one."
"Go on..." insisted Michael.
"I managed to get the codes to Earth's Defence Grid."
Michael's eyes widened, he held back the shock he felt, returning to his professional posture.
"How deep do these codes go? How much access to the grid would it grant us?"
"It would leave their defence satellites unaware of an attack thus allowing us to attack the surface while giving us access to their own nuclear weapons so their navy cannot launch at us." Mutually Assured Destruction?" questioned Adam, "maybe not!" He slowly sunk into his chair; smug in what he considered to be a suitable parting gift to his people.
Michael was speechless. "And how long was it before you said our forces have the data? A week?"
"I suspect so, they can't send it anytime soon or they'll be traced."
"I see," deliberated Michael, "that's a sticky situation. Thank you Adam, you've been of great help."
"Mike?" questioned Adam wearily.
Michael knocked on the metallic table separating the two unofficial colleagues. There was a noise from the latch outside of the exit door.
"How would they have heard that?!" Adam demanded.
Two uniformed men walked in. Both older " important. Michael rose from his seat, reaching eye level with the most senior " a pale, aged man " and said: "We should withdraw all forces from Gossa and destroy the planet. We underestimated its resistance."
"It's only a small colony of theirs," agreed the other, not so old man, "it hasn't been useful to us for years. It will take time but I suggest we also go about putting an extra encryption on the Defence Grid?"
The senior of the three looked at Michael with a contemplative gaze.
"It's your call, Executive"
"It's the most effective" assured Michael, "let's get it done now."
"And what of him?" said the younger man pointing directly at Adam.
After a few seconds stuck in thought Michael's quizzical face turned stale once again.
"Kill him" he said, leaving the room.