The sounds of roaring engines woke the old man from his slumber long before the sun had broken through the window. Slowly, he sat up in his bed, ignoring the creak of the aging bedsprings. Once the mattress had settled, he checked the watch that had resided on his wrist for as long as he could remember. 4:30.
Mick Guffan yawned loudly to himself as he grabbed the datapad from his bedside table, and began to browse the weather for the day. Some weather over Regentis and Tarhaven, a slight updraft over Atlas in the north and a storm brewing over Karnon in the west. But skies were looking clear for Wheatview. Busy day for him then.
A few taps later, and he was scanning his appointments for the day. Some inspection this morning, early, a security meeting later on, and twelve pilots checking in over the course of the day.
His mind was still wary about the inspection. Some fella from Regentis, apparently. The background check’s he’d run had come back clean, but trust had never come easy to Mick. And with Hector’s psycho daughter running around…well, it never hurt to take precautions.
An hour or so later and Mick was standing at the gates of the airfield. His aging clothes weren’t the cleanest, but he’d never been the clean type. Organised, perhaps, but never clean. His old eyes watched the hovercar slowly draw closer and gently touch down on the road, its engine slowly dying as the occupant got out and thanked his driver.
The man was dressed impeccably, with nothing out of place on his three-piece suit. His briefcase gleamed in the early morning sun, and his long black hair waved gently in the breeze. His smile was genuine underneath a thick black moustache, but he still walked with the authority he’d come to expect from these self-righteous men from the big smoke.
Mick had never liked the bigger cities, never liked the crowds or the silver spoons that seemed to be shoved down everyone’s throats. True, Wheatview was big, but it was a different sort of big. The people here were the hard-working ones, the ones that made do, that appreciated the simpler things.
The young man before him wasn’t one of those people, and judging by his gloved fingers, he didn’t want to be either.
The instant he got close to the gate, the security guards were on him, scanners primed and a dog at the ready. To his credit, the man took it all in his stride, even rubbing the dog’s neck when they were done. They went through a few security questions, which he answered patiently and cleanly. He had no accent that Mick recognised, and even cracked a joke here and there about the annoyance of paperwork. The guards nodded with smiles on their faces.
Mick sighed. So, he was one of them. The overly happy, people person. The guy that made all the other guys laugh. The guy that hadn’t done a second of hard labour in his life, unless it included picking up a pen.
Granted, it made sense for any sort of inspection, but it didn’t mean that Mick had to like him.
The silver seemed to drip from his lips.
Finally, the guards gave him the go ahead after checking the papers he had in his briefcase. Thanking them, he stepped forward, his hand outstretched with a smile on his face. Mick ignored the hand and kept his eyes forward. The man quickly dropped his arm and spoke.
Man: “Good morning! You must be Mr. Guffan, correct?”
Man: “Fantastic! My name is Alex Wilson, I’m here for the building inspection.”
Mick: “I know who ye’ are. Can we get this over and done with? I’ve got things to do today.”
Alex: “Of course, I understand. Would be nice if the world slowed down for us, hey?”
Mick: “Sure, whatever. Let’s just get going. I don’t like surprise inspections, especially when they’re from companies outta town.”
Alex: “Certainly, we’ll get this going then. So, I take it the security will be with us?”
Mick: “Commander’s orders. Everybody in this airfield gets a fan club. You’ve heard I take it?”
Alex: “Only what the local news told me when I arrived. To be honest, I had no idea there were fugitives loose here.”
Mick: “Yeah, and they’re pretty high end too. Don’t want them leaving the city. So, like I said; fan club. Let’s go.”
Alex nodded and fell into step behind Mick as he escorted him through the gate, the guards close behind. A minute later, and they were at the foot of the main office. Brett immediately went to work, removing a notebook from his briefcase and making notes on the various components of the building, asking Mick a few questions here and there. Mick yawned throughout, checking his watch again. Still on schedule.
Moments later, Alex turned and met his eyes, another question forming.
Alex: “Alrighty then, just a few more routine questions for my side of things. How long have you owned the airfield?”
Mick: “Long as I’ve been living. Generational property, dating back to my great grandmother. Passed into my name about thirty-odd years ago.”
Alex: “Hmm, ok. And you’ve never had any problems with foundations, sinkholes etcetera?”
Mick: “No. This about what happened to Knightborn?”
Alex: “Unfortunately so. It’s routine now, something that my company, and many others, have issued as a precaution. Any building that’s experienced tremor issues in recent months has to be inspected below ground, make sure none of the Old Qoter supports have failed. Standard policy.”
Mick: “Whatever kid.”
Alex ticked a few boxes in his book before shutting it gently and replacing it into his briefcase.
Alex: “Alrighty, that’s all I need from here. Now, would you mind showing me hanger one?”
Mick: “Yeah. Right this way.”
Alex smiled again and followed, dropping back slightly as his comlink began to bus. Mick thought nothing of it. People like him couldn’t function without their damn devices. He yawned once more and checked the time again. 7:40.
He really needed to sleep more.
Dustin Vorn cleared his throat as he let his pace slowly fall behind Mick and the guards, gently slipping out of earshot, but still well within their field of vision. The fake moustache glued to his face itched uncomfortably and the wig was doing its very best to annoy him.
Still, at least he’d gotten into the airfield. The software he’d needed to fake the documents hadn’t been cheap, and the effort that he and Risa had put into creating the fake inspection company even less so. Besides all of that, Alex Wilson had needed multiple passports and identifications, social media, online reviews, and anything a well-respected businessman would have.
Their shared birthday had passed and neither of them had had time to notice, so busy were they with the falsified paperwork.
Hiring a chauffeur and the suit he was wearing to complete the act had been the easy part.
Now, finally, after using the last of their bounty money on the hotel they’d stayed at to remove the filth that had plagued them for months, they were ready to get out of here.
Quickly, he dialled in a number, popped in his earbuds and spoke with Alex Wilson’s voice, with Alex Wilson’s walk and Alex Wilson’s mannerisms broadcasted with every movement. He smiled as Risa’s face filled the frame.
Dustin: “Good morning Mary, how are you going?”
Risa: “In position Dustin, on the east side fence. You got in with no worries?”
Dustin: “No, all the staff were fine. The dogs were lovely, very well trained.”
Risa: “Damn! How many?”
Dustin: “Hmm, oh I would say about 4 days for that side of the contract Mary, that should do.”
Risa: “Guards still the same though?”
Dustin: “Yep, you got it.”
Risa: “Ok, ok… Just so you know, I may not forgive you for making me do this.”
Dustin: “Right. I completely understand.”
Risa: “Just…let me know when you find the ship. I don’t want to be here any longer than I have to.”
Dustin: “But of course. Thanks Mary, talk to you later.”
Risa: “You’d better hope so.”
Dustin grinned and ended the call, slowly increasing his pace to regroup with Mick and the guards. Mick showed him around the first hanger, including the fact that it was currently disappointingly empty. Dustin wrote down all the features of the building to keep up the show, making sure to keep his notebook close. He didn’t want anyone to see that his notes were, basically, gibberish.
Well written gibberish though…well, at least he thought it was.
Still, he was careful to mentally note the positions of the security cameras. Some were barely holding together, but others gleamed in the sunlight, their modern lenses tracking every motion. The security hadn’t messed around.
After his assessment, the group went to the next hanger, and the next and Dustin wrote all the same gibberish and asked more of the same questions. But the one thing he was actually looking for remained annoyingly elusive. Both hangers did contain shuttles, but they were small, personal fighters.
Not exactly ideal for long-range travel. He kept up Alex Wilson’s unbeatable smile, but inside the stress was slowly mounting. The longer they were here, the longer they were at risk.
Finally, they came to the fifth hanger, the second last one that Mick had on the airfield. Like all the others, it wasn’t pretty, but it was looked after. Mick’s grunt filled Dustin’s vision as he began to jot down the details.
Mick: “Alright kid, be careful of this one. The bird inside belongs to an old friend. Don’t take too long.”
Dustin: “Oh! No, of course not. Like I said, this is the second-to-last one. Then, we can sign the paperwork and I’ll be on my way.”
Mick: “Fine. Hurry it up.”
Dustin nodded and followed Mick into the vast building. He kept his face glued to the smile, but his nerves began to kick into overdrive. This was it. Within these walls was the ship that was going to get them out of this city, give them the spark of freedom they so desperately needed.
Of course, it was possible that Hector Donovan had been lying to them all along, but Dustin pushed that thought as deep as he was able. The last thing he needed in his mind was doubt.
Step by agonizing step they entered the hanger, and Dustin couldn’t help the huge grin that filled his face when his eyes adjusted to the light.
The Haven, as Risa had called it, stood before him, completely filling the hanger. It was caked in dust, and it wasn’t exactly the most modern ship he’d ever seen, but even so there was a strength to it that he hadn’t expected. A…sturdiness, a dependability that seemed to leak out of every joint and every panel.
His well-trained eyes looked closer, noting the lack of oil stains on the ground, as well as the tools that had been placed on the far wall. For all his flaws, Mick Guffan was an organised man, especially when it came to his ships. The Haven, from what he made out, seemed to be in perfect order.
A low grin broke through. Finally, some more luck had been thrown their way.
Mick: “Ya done gawking kid?”
Dustin pulled himself out of the near trance immediately, careful to not make it look suspicious. He whipped out his notebook again and his pen began to move.
Dustin: “Yep. Sorry about that, been quite a while since I’ve seen one of these birds.”
Mick: “Yeah. Qoter Nationalists shut em’ down years ago. Shame really. They were tough old things. Anyway, get your questions going. I’ve got a pilot coming in about twenty minutes.”
Dustin nodded and began asking away, though this time he kept his eyes moving around the hanger. Only one camera, but it was faded and grey and looked like it was connected to the main system. As thorough as the military had been, they hadn’t bothered installing new equipment inside the building.
After all, no one could enter without the countless checks, or without the other cameras keeping track of every movement.
Mick yawned again and Dustin seized his chance. Quickly, he pressed the call button on his com, but brought it up as if he was the one answering. The sound of his voice zapped Mick back in the moment, but he merely sighed as he saw the cause.
Dustin apologized profusely and put in the headphones in the same instant, his voice speaking with the fake conversation the two had already prepared.
Dustin: “Yes Mary? How can I help?”
Risa: “You’ve found it?”
Dustin: “Yes, I left the book in Dylan’s office, down the hall.”
Risa: “Alright, Hanger Five it is. You sure she’s there?”
Dustin: “Positive. Hey, I’m still at the airfield. Almost done the inspection though. Talk when I’m done.”
Risa: “Roger. I’m…on my way. Still might not forgive you.”
Dustin: “I can live with that. See you.”
The call dropped and a quick exhale broke through his lips. Time for the next phase to kick into gear then. He smiled and returned his gaze to Mick and the guards, the smile he wore genuine and full.
Dustin: “Sorry about that Mick, but not too much left now. Not much at all…”
Dustin’s call ended and Risa stood from her position behind a building near the east boundary fence. She cracked her knuckles and checked the position of the bags that hung from her shoulders. Their clothes, finally clean and neatly folded, sat comfortably in the backpack they’d bought with their reward money.
Risa really wished she’d been able to wear them now. The clothes that clung to her stank, and they revealed too much of her body to be comfortable. The dark wig she wore didn’t help either…but that was what the plan called for.
And she knew the plan now, inside and out.
So, she gritted her teeth, held her breath and bashed her arm against the wall next to her.
Pain jolted through her system and she stifled the scream, but the tears that she’d hoped for burst from their prison and welled in her eyes. She willed them out until a little stream had been carved through the light dirt she’d plastered to her face.
Finally, with another deep breath, she burst from her cover, heading straight for the guards by the fence.
Rod had never loved his job as a security officer. Sure, it had its moments, and it had its perks now and again, but it wasn’t perfect. It was times like these that he particularly disliked, times when all he had to do was pace the same stretch of grass for hours on end, keeping a lookout for fugitives that had probably already been killed or captured.
He glanced to his companion, but Jackson offered no advice to pass the time. All he did was meet his eyes and whine gently until Rod rubbed his hand under the dog’s neck. He grinned as Jackson accepted the rub like it was his right, simply for being a dog.
He only wished the man behind him had some of the character that Jackson did, but Philip was the exact opposite of the stubborn canine. Rod supposed the young man’s age was the problem, but he always seemed to be falling over himself, constantly apologizing and boot-kissing where he could.
Like that was going to get him anywhere in Wheatview. He had a better shot at joining the Shock Troopers.
Nope, Phil was a definite bore on top of the list of things that made times like these plain boring. So it was a welcome change when the cry for help filled his ears. He snapped to attention, Phil a second behind him as they watched the young woman bolt from behind a nearby building, headed straight for them.
Rod went for his gun, but paused when he took her in. Bags and belongings were strapped to her, but her clothes were in tatters, looking like they’d been torn in places. Her hands were gloved in the pink, throwaway variety, and the smell that hit him wasn’t exactly pleasant.
But it was the look of relief in her otherwise hard face that made him pause the most. Slowly, he removed his hand and kept his eyes on her as she approached. He spoke before she did.
Rod: “Ma’am, this is a restricted area-”
He barely finished his sentence before she was in front of them, her hands clasped together, tears in her eyes.
Woman: “Officer, please! You…you have to help me! My boyfriend…he…he’s trying to kill me!”
The words lingered in the air, but the woman kept glancing over her shoulders, her look of relief slowly turning to fear. Rod took a glance at Phil, only to see the tall man’s gaze pointed downward, examining her body. He shook his head slowly. Kids, only one thing on their minds.
Rod: “Look ma’am, I’m so-”
Woman: “PLEASE! I barely got away from him last night! I only had time to grab these few things, nothing else! Please, you’ve got to help me! Please!”
Rod: “Hey, there’s-”
Phil: “Of course ma’am, I understand. Don’t worry, we’ll protect you.”
The young officer stepped forward and put his shoulder round the woman. She, in turn, began sobbing, the look of relief returning to her eyes. The man’s smile was so filled with hidden lust it made Rod sick. Thankfully, Jackson barked and broke the silence, allowing Rod to finally get the words in.
Rod: “Ma’am, I’m sorry. Like I said, this area’s restricted. If you’re happy to wait, I can go and call the authorities. They’ll keep you safe.”
Woman: “NO! PLEASE, you…you need to do something. I haven’t slept in days, barely eaten. He’s…just always there, always behind me. He…he broke my comlink the first night, and…and every time I went to a station…he was waiting for me! I’ve had nowhere else to go. Please sir, please…”
Phil: “Don’t worry Ma’am, we’ll see to it that you’re safe. Come on, I’m sure Rod wouldn’t mind if you bunked down in our quarters until we get this sorted…would you sir?”
Rod raised an eyebrow but eventually relented. He’d need to check this woman’s ID anyway, might as well do it inside. Besides, it’d be a change in scenery. And it wasn’t like she’d try something if they stayed with her.
With a nod, he escorted the pair into the airfield, contacting the other patrols as he went. Luckily Davis had seen their interaction. He’d cover for them. The whole time they walked back, Phil kept speaking in the sweetest voice in the world, lapping up every word that she said.
But his eyes were huge and ever roaming. Rod just turned to Jackson. The dog gave the closest thing it could to a shrug.
A minute later, and they were in the security building, shooing out the one guard that had decided to take her lunch early. Once the shaking woman was sitting in on of the chairs, refusing the offer for coffee, Rod pulled out his datapad and began running through the questions. She answered quickly, as if every moment in safety couldn’t be wasted.
Phil sat beside her the entire time, that stupid lopsided smile on his face. She kept looking at the pair of them, as well as moving her gaze to the window that allowed them to see the entire yard. In the distance, a pair of guards exited one of the hangers, along with Mick and the building inspector that had arrived this morning.
The inspector held open the door, chatting with Mick and the guards. Likable fellow, it seemed.
The woman’s eyes had seen him too, and for an instant Rod saw the look that she gave him. But a moment later, and it was gone, and she was staring straight at Rod, her wet eyes glistening in the artificial light.
Rod: “Okay ma’am, thank you for your co-operation. If you wouldn’t mind staying here, I’ll pass this along to the authorities. They’ll come by soon, you’ll be safe with them.”
Woman: “Thank you…and…I’m sorry about this.”
Rod’s eyebrows rose inquisitively, but that was all that he had time to do before the woman leapt from her chair, jabbing a needle into Phil’s arm. The young man cried out and slumped against his chair, but the woman had already leapt over the table and knocked the already rising gun from Rod’s hands.
He balked at her speed and his mouth was still open from the surprise, his hand reaching for his radio.
But the woman, quick as a warpdrive, drew a pistol from a hidden holster and jammed it under his nose.
Sweat begin to drip from his forehead like morning rain, but he kept his face as calm as he could. The woman, for her part, had a look of regret on her face, as if this was the last thing she had wanted to do.
Rod examined her eyes closer. They were hard, yes, but they weren’t soulless. He didn’t see the killer’s glint that he’d seen in so many others.
Still, she did have a gun to his face.
Risa: “Ok, ok. Rod, was it? I’m…sorry about doing this, but your friend will be alright. Give him ten minutes, and he won’t remember a thing. But I need your help…please. I need your authority. Can you help me out?”
He nodded slightly, and she continued.
Risa: “Thank you. Now…my name is Risa Donovan.”
His eyes widened as he finally registered the woman behind the dirt and the torn clothing and the false hair. That name…all of a sudden, his instinct about the killer’s look seemed foolish. This was Risa Donovan. The squad-killer, the Imperial traitor, one of the most wanted woman on the planet...
And yet… there was still that look in her eyes, in her face. She certainly didn’t look like the monster that the media had portrayed her as, but Rod couldn’t be sure. He was sweating buckets now.
She ignored his look of surprise like she was used to it.
Risa: “Now, I don’t care if you believe the media’s lies, don’t care if you think I’m the devil incarnate, I still need your help. I need to get out of here, fast. So, here’s what I’d like you to do…”
Dustin almost breathed a sigh of relief when the guard’s radios barked into life, a man screaming on the other line that Risa Donovan had broken into the airfield, asking for immediate backup. The guards looked at each other, then to the man they’d come to know as Alex Wilson.
Dustin pulled the most shocked expression that he could’ve when they spoke to him.
Guard 1: “Don’t mean to disturb you, but we’ve just received word that a well-known criminal has broken into the airfield. We’ll handle it, don’t worry.”
Guard 2: “Stay here, both of you. Rod’s asked us to head her off, apparently she’s headed this way.”
Dustin: “Of course officers! Don’t worry about us!”
The guards nodded and bolted across the field, their weapons leaping into their hands, the dog racing ahead ina practiced gait. Mick yawned again, as though the appearance of a wanted criminal was something he dealt with every day. Dustin sighed and stepped back into hanger, holding the door open. Mick raised an eyebrow.
Dustin: “I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather stay out of the sun if I can.”
He earned a growl from the old man, but he stepped through nonetheless. Dustin gently closed the door, exhaled quickly, and steadied his thoughts. In the distance, the Haven stood solemnly, as if it was watching from afar. Dustin grinned at that thought as he slipped the needle from his pocket and palmed it.
The old man turned and examined him briefly.
Mick: “So then, any more questions we can get out of the way?”
Dustin: “Unfortunately, yeah...”
In an eyeblink, Dustin leapt forward, the needle sliding neatly into Mick’s bloodstream. To his credit, the old man barely raised his eyebrows, almost as if he’d expected something like this. He didn’t trust easily after all.
Dustin helped the man to the ground, pocketing the empty needle which had been the very first thing they’d bought. Mick’s face filled with anger, either at Dustin or at his own carelessness, before slowly going slack as unconsciousness took him.
Dustin stood and loosened his tie, keeping an eye out at the yard. Eventually, he saw the woman he was looking for. Risa was running like the wind, bags flapping and a pistol in her hands. He took a quick glance at the upgraded security cameras, silent and unmoving, whichever officer Risa had subdued having shut them down already.
A moment later and she was shutting the hanger door, meeting Dustin’s smile as she tore of her wig. He removed his own, as well as the moustache. Stupid thing had been too itchy anyway.
After checking that no one was following them, Risa took a second to remove the bags she’d been carrying before spinning to face the ship that they’d sought after for so long.
The look of relief that washed over her was so pure that Dustin had to laugh. She just stared and stared, like she was meeting a long-lost friend. Which she kind of was, Dustin thought to himself.
She released her breath in a slow exhale as all her limbs went slack, a soft smile on her face and a calmness in her eyes. Whatever the ship was to her, whatever it meant, was something incredibly deep. Curiosity flashed through Dustin’s thoughts, but he gently pushed it aside.
Time for those stories later, he thought to himself as he stepped to her side and raised his voice.
Dustin: “Well then…here we are.”
Risa: “Here we are…”
Dustin: “How long before the guards wake up?”
Risa: “About seven minutes. Knowing Mick, she’ll be in perfect working order…”
Dustin: “I thought so…. but how long has it been since she’d flown.”
A frown from Risa was all he needed to know.
Dustin: “Right…well we better move.”
Risa: “Agreed. Start with the engines, we need to get them primed. I’ll check the fusion core.”
Dustin nodded and the pair sprinted to the ship as an air of urgency mixed with excitement seemed to fill the room. Risa already had the keys in her hand and was vaulting inside the ship before the rear hatch had even touched the ground.
Once inside, she barked commands as they raced around the ship, checking systems and vents, making sure the power systems were still good.
A minute in and they heard the dogs barking, another minute and the alarms sounded. Dustin grimaced as he disconnected a grounding mechanism on the landing gear. They were running out of time.
Three minutes passed. Risa fired up the life support systems and the water purifiers.
Four minutes. Dustin flung off the remaining grounding feature and checked the engines
Five minutes. The yells of the guards were getting louder as the life support beeped away, green lights flashing.
Six minutes. The engine hissed as Dustin closed the last hatch, confirming they were all working. Risa was already checking the supplies inside.
Seven minutes. Further howls in the distance. The officers Risa had subdued would be waking up. Dustin flung his eyes to Mick and his lips twisted as he spied the old man starting to rise.
No time like the present.
He screamed at Risa and she leapt from the Haven, streaking towards Mick as he finished closing a wiring harness. Moments later and he was by her side, hauling Mick to his feet as the alarms grew louder.
For a second, a look flashed across Risa’s face that made Dustin falter. It was…he didn’t know what it was. Despite all his training at reading a person’s face, despite all his time with Risa, he didn’t know what it was that was present in those green eyes as she stared at Mick.
The only thing he recognised was…was pain.
Risa slapped the old man so hard his head went flying backward. He groaned and reluctantly opened his eyes, gazing at the woman before him. His lips twisted into a smile, a cruel brutal thing that seemed completely out of place on the man.
When he spoke, his voice was sluggish but strangely amused, the total opposite of the hard tone Risa took.
Mick: “Ahhh, good to see you again…slintcrank.”
Risa: “Mick…shut up. Or you’ll find a nice round hole between your eyes.”
Mick: “Huh, you won’t kill me girl…You can’t.”
Dustin: “Yep, she can’t. Not yet anyway. We need the exit codes, otherwise we’d be shot out of the sky.”
Mick: “Yeah…like I’d give em to you Alex. You and your slintcrank of a girlfriend can go shove-“
A yell tore through the hanger which made Dustin recoil due to its sheer volume as her fist cracked against his jaw.
Three teeth hit the floor with a gentle ping.
Mick’s hands went to his face, but Dustin held him firm, a scowl behind his words.
Dustin: “We’re in a hurry Mr Guffan. And you don’t want to see her when she’s really angry.”
Risa: “Codes Mick, what are they?”
Mick cackled softly as blood dripped from an already split lip, the sound grating on Dustin’s bones. Mick had the upper hand, and he knew it. Without the codes, they were dead. Any more time wasted here and the guards would find them, and they’d be as good as dead. Damn it….
Dustin’s thoughts turned sour as old memories sprang to the surface of his mind, memories of techniques the Core had taught him, techniques he’d never had to perform, never wanted to. But the adrenaline was pumping now, and time was short….he didn’t have a choice.
But before he could move, Risa locked her eyes and spoke. Just one sentence, five little words, that shut the old man down like a bullet to the skull.
Risa: “I know where Omen is.”
Mick’s whole body went limp and Dustin, again, helped him to the ground. But the old man’s eyes never left Risa’s gaze, as if the words had completely frozen his mind.
Dustin risked a glance outside just in time to see a pair of guards running across the field. He gulped down the nerves that rushed to his throat.
Eventually, Mick spoke, his voice missing most of the cruelty it’d had moments before.
Mick: “O…Omen? Where? How?”
Risa: “It was years ago. Tane and I tracked her down. Tell us the codes, and I’ll tell you where.”
Dustin’s curiosity meter was well and truly broken, but he stepped to her side and stood with confidence, like he knew exactly what Risa was talking about. Mick looked at the pair and hesitated, his thoughts clearly racing as the alarms grew louder.
Finally, Mick snarled and gazed at the floor, as if his brain wasn’t totally agreeing with what his body was saying.
Mick: “The shuttle’s still listed as Hector’s ship. Code is Walter, Walter, Tulip, 2, 4, 5, X-ray.”
Risa: “Thank you. And Omen’s on Zarus, a place called Drentlio. If you report this ship as stolen, I will let her know you’re coming. Do. You. Understand?”
Another pause, this one longer, but eventually Mick nodded once. Risa returned the nod before slamming her foot into his skull, sending more of his teeth flying. He smacked into the ground with a thump and a groan, but Risa was already moving, Dustin at her side with his disguise in hand.
However, he couldn’t help but let his eyes linger on the still form lying on the concrete.
His thoughts were…well, a mess, admittedly, but he didn’t question the woman as she pressed the release door and the hanger slowly began to open up.
Dustin raised his moustache and wig, fixing them as quickly as possible and putting on the best injured face he could muster. The instant he could, Dustin ran out of the massive doors and stopped the closet guard he saw. The guard began to speak, but Dustin cut him off, urgency filling Alex Wilson’s voice as he raised his hand and pointed in a general direction.
Dustin: “That way! The other side of the airfield! They broke in, beat up the pair of us, stole some of Mick’s keys and ran! Hurry!! They can’t have gone far!”
The guard nodded and took off, screaming orders into his radio. Seconds later and two more patrols were on his heels, dogs barking and growling as the alarm continued to wail.
Dustin waited until no eyes were on him before ducking back into the hanger, grabbing their bags and pulling them into the shuttle, his moustache and wig slipping with the movement. He tore them off the moment he was inside, barely taking in the shuttle’s interior as he raced to the cockpit. Risa had already strapped herself in and was in the process of firing up the old shuttle.
The massive engines growled as they spat into life, blue coils of light slowly building as Dustin buckled into the seat. It was unusually comfortable, despite its age.
He turned to Risa, who pointed at a few panels just out of her reach. Dustin nodded and flicked the switches, going entirely off of what she said. Seconds, and a few clangs, later, a number of beeps filled the air.
Dustin turned to Risa and met the grin that bloomed as the noise began to die down, indicating the engines were primed…. maybe. His voice sounded loud in the near soundproof cockpit.
Dustin: “I’ll be honest, I don’t know if that’s good or bad!”
Risa: “Trust me, it’s good. It means we’re not going to die.”
Dustin: “Ah. Well, that’s a positive.”
Risa: “Certainly is! You distracted the guards?”
Dustin: “Yep. They’ve gone near the other side of the airfield, where the pilot should be taking off. Hopefully, they’ll ground him long enough for us to get out.”
Risa: “Fingers crossed. Alright, let’s go.”
Risa pulled the sticks back with practiced skill and Dustin felt the shuttle gently lift off. It was slow going, manoeuvring the Haven out of the hanger out it’s VTOL thrusters alone, but Risa did it as if she’d done it a million times before. Dustin smiled at his friend as he gazed out at the airfield beyond.
Guards were everywhere, but thanks to Dustin’s quick distraction, none next to their hanger. His eyes scanned for any other obstacles, looking out for anything that could stop them from finally leaving their city prison.
But there was nothing.
Once they’d cleared the hanger’s doors, Risa keyed in a number into the centre console. Seconds later, the built in comlink crackled into life, an automated voice filling the cockpit.
Voice: “Good morning, you are speaking with Wheatview air traffic control. Please state your personal vehicle code and destination for authorisation.”
Dustin and Risa almost spoke in unison as the pressure mounted, their freedom inching closer.
Dustin/ Risa: Walter, Walter, Tulip, 2,4, 5, X-ray. Regentis.”
Voice: “Thank you. Your code and destination have been accepted. Have a pleasant flight.”
Risa didn’t waste a second longer. Her feet stamped on the engine control and her hands pulled back the sticks. The engines roared behind her and the whirr of retracting landing gear vibrated throughout the ship. Slowly, metre by metre, the Haven began to climb.
The airfield began to grow smaller and smaller as Dustin glimpsed guards spin and point at them, shouting and yelling. But there was nothing they could do as the Haven rocketed into the sky, leaving behind the city that they’d been trapped in for months.
Dustin felt his lips split into a beaming smile as he stared out of the cockpit window as Risa slowly began levelling out the Haven. She let out a triumphant yell and spun to meet Dustin’s eyes.
A spectacular work as always good sir! I especially love how you made "The Haven" ship, very well created and detailed. Wish I was good at making star ships at that size...especially even good lol! You always seem to inspire me and my crew to work even harder on our own stories and series, so we thank and applaud you for your efforts and inspirations. Again, fantastic work Werewolff. Looking forward to our Cross-Over builds ;)