By Tim Sevenhuysen
Posted June 29, 2012
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A message blinked onto Tic’s PAI. It was from Cogs, and read, simply: “Sixty seconds.”
“Crap,” breathed Tic. “Gal, keep the ramp down, but be ready to slam it shut and climb straight out of here in 30 seconds or the moment I say so, whichever comes first!” Then he pounded back into the hold.
Peering out, he saw Jeffries was standing over Dunter’s corpse, cradling the Adam Astrobot in one hand and staring at it with a manic grin. The Entulovian ship was dwindling into the sky.
“We’re out of time!” shouted Tic. “Get in here!”
Jeffries’ head snapped around, as if he’d been drawn out of a trance. Then he raised his blaster. Tic didn’t even have time to cringe before Jeffries pulled the trigger, but instead of feeling the impact of a laser beam to the chest, he heard a muffled groan and looked down to see the head and shoulders of a Liberati slumping beneath the hovering Pelican’s ramp.
Then Lady Libden herself popped up and scrambled aboard, puffing like a fish out of water with the exertion. She reached back to retrieve the Liberati’s blaster, but Tic pounced on the plump virtuoso, pinning her hands.
The ground quivered, then rumbled, then shook. A dull growl from the tunnel mouth grew into an overwhelming roar. The Norway Corrosive Vapour Disseminator had been activated.
“Thirty seconds have passed,” announced Gal calmly.
Jeffries was sprinting towards the Pelican and saw the ramp begin to rise. He dropped his blaster and flung the Adam Astrobot ahead of him; Tic caught it. Leaping up, Jeffries grabbed the lip of the ramp and hauled himself up. It slammed shut, crushing his legs mid-thigh.
The Pelican’s boosters fired.
Haddock’s surface dropped away beneath them.
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