The battleship food was worse that the stuff on the Hispania. I stared at the grey glob hanging off the end of my fork. It was meant to taste like organic meat from Malta, but after many years in storage, it ended up tasting like a cardamined pet. I checked the time. Not long till launch. I finished the food, somehow, and relaxed on the chair, waiting for Robin to arrive. When he did arrive, Brian was with him.
"Got a hangover?" I smirked at him. He nodded in agreement and headed for the bathroom.
"Just looking for some pills, if you don't mind" Robin replied. I didn't say anything and turned my focus to Brian. He wasn't looking to pleased either.
"I've got some good news, and some bad news." I huffed at this.
"As Usual then!" Robin shouted from the bathroom.
"The good news is that the SAR knows what battleship we are on." There was silence, as we waited for the bad news.
"The bad news is that we have to get out before the torps hit." Robin had come out of the bathroom with a cupful of water in one hand and a pill in the other.
"What do you mean before the torps hit?" he said curiously
"They launched over 1000 torpedoes, all heading towards the Hispania." We all stood there, silently, with our mouths half open. "The ETA is 1 hour, 37 minutes."
"But we launch in 2 hours!" I protested.
"That's the problem." We all stood there in silence, again. I sighed. There has to be a way to get out of the here, preferably alive. I started thinking of ways of getting out, most of them ludicrous, involving killing everyone on the station with a plasma rifle.
"I've got an idea!" Brian suddenly announced. "If we can find a way of disabling the defences, we have our way out!" There was silence as we both looked at them with a dumb expression.
"Well done!" I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm. Everyone was staring daggers at me. "What!?" I questioned. They were still staring at me.
"No need for the sarcasm. We need every thought we can get." I was tempted to tell them about my 'rampage' of the station, but refrained.
We continued like this for a touch over an hour, with all of us committed to deep thought. I was examining parts of a military guidance book, which I found in one of my metal filing cabinets. My eyes glanced over many useful things, which I though could come in hand. Then I came across another article, which seemed reasonable for this situation; Extreme Extraction. I read it aloud.
"Here, listen to this. 'Base defence weapons are activated from the main console centre, usually located on the bridge' which we cant get to 'but whenever this option isn't available, a large enough explosion, or an EMP should knock out the systems for a while. This gives the advantage for an extraction." I licked my lips, to re-hydrate them
"Could work," said Brian, "But how do we get the large enough explosion, EMP is out of the question as we have none." Straight away, an idea came into my head.
"We have novas. We could blow the Shakespeare." There was a bit of silence, as we all thought for a minute. "Then we could blow the plasma field, to cause real havoc." Robin was still not convinced it would work, but Brian was nodding in agreement.
"Fair enough," Said robin eventually, as he shifted his facial expression. I started to think about how we would get to our ships, without being seen out of our quarters. What about if we just legged it? If we did get seen by someone, we would probably be shot on sight, as everyone would know we were captured prisoners.
"You know" said Robin "If we used the pipes, it would get us straight into the hanger." Brian was still in deep though.
"But we would have to climb down them; a sheer drop, with not footholds!" I said, remembering that we were several decks above the hanger. "If one of us fell, that's it; five decks would instantly kill us." Brian was paying attention, when he said something that caught our attention.
"Ropes, we can use the ropes. There are no footholds, so it'll have to do." Brian said, instinctively. "But where would we get ropes long enough to reach 5 decks?" I got up and walked over to my bunk, and flipped the mattress over. Underneath the mattress, a single rope criss-crossed all over the frame of the bed, to hold up the mattress.
"That will reach about 3 decks. Robin, go and get this stuff from your room, then we'll have enough." I lobbed a bag at him. "Put it in here to avoid suspicion." He left the room with the bag slung over his shoulder.
"Right, where will we pop up, under our ships or the other side of the hanger?" Brian asked. I started to think for a minute, about when we were shown around the battleship, through the hangers and engine decks. Then I remembered something I saw in the hanger."
"It may just be that hatch, dead in the centre of the hanger." I went back to reading the manual. I found it quite interesting. Then robin came in, panting."
"What's up?" Brian and I asked, in unison.
"I think we've got company! I've stalled them by jamming the lift doors, but we got to get out of here!" he ran back into the corridor. I noticed he had no rope. I ran out of the door with the rope looped over my shoulder. Robin rammed the door of the restroom, and by the time I was in, he was already prising the hatch for the pipes. I heard the warning tone for the elevator.
"They aren't far off, hurry up!" Brian barred the door with a loose lead pipe. Robin was crawling through the tight space. I followed feet first. When we were all in the cramped space of the service areas, Brian closed the hatch behind him. It went pitch black.
"Ahh…Shit." Robin whispered. We then heard the door smash open above us.
"Where did they go? I swear I saw them come in here!" we were all listening to the men a few inches away from us.
"Come on, let's go." Robin said. He fumbled his way through the dark space. I followed, trying to be as quiet as I could. I couldn't see a thing, but after a while, Robin started to use sound as guidance, by tapping on the pipes below us, and following the vibrations, to see if there were any sudden changes in sound loss, meaning a corner, or the drop we were expecting soon. I was being guided by his foot and the same with Brian on my foot.
"Wait a minute!" Brian suddenly announced and we all stopped. Suddenly the long tunnel was filled with a dim light for a few second. "We can use our watches for light." I felt around my wrist for my watch, and pressed the button on the top. The glare was very bright, having been in a dark space for a long time, and the watch being right in front of my face.
We studied what was in front of us and then moved on, before turning the watches on again. I looked at the time.
"We only have about 15 minutes, get a move on!" Robin quickened the pace in front of me and I followed as best I could. The space was just wide enough here to fit my shoulders through.
"Found the drop!" Robin shouted. "Cant see the bottom though" he turned the light for the watch on, and he started to climb down the pipes at the side, until they stopped, and disappeared into the wall.
"Pass down the rope." Grabbed the dropped rope, and handed it to him. He tied it to one of the pipes. "Right, I'm going down. When I get down there, I'll tie the rope to something. There are bound to be pipes near the hatch, and then come down." He started to climb down
I noticed his watch light up a few times, each time getting lower, until he shouted up to us
"I've got it!" I waited a few seconds before he finally whispered up to us.
"Ok, clear!" I quickly clambered over the edge, and climbed down to the rope. The drop seemed infinite, and it seemed and felt like a ventilation shaft, with smooth sides and a constant draft. I curled the rope over my foot, and started to lower myself downwards. It only took a minute to get down, but now we only had 10 minutes left. Brian was on his way down. I was surprised that the rope managed to reach this far.
"I'm going to try and find that hatch" I announced. Robin nodded and he stayed clung onto the pipe. I clambered down the pipe to another crawl space. It didn't take me long to find it. This hatch was regularly maintained by the looks of it. There were lights. It didn't take long for Robin and Brian to follow. But they noticed my worry.
"I think we are expected…"