The call had come through three hours ago. With a bag already packed in the trunk of the car, I had been able to jump out of bed and leave straight away.
I had known this day was coming for months, but still could hardly suppress the excitement that was flowing through me as I sped along the deserted roads.
Working at the facility for the last four years, also being among the most highly ranked, I knew all the details of the upcoming mission, was even one of those privileged enough to be on the mission. After all, without me and the other partners, this mission would never have been conceived, let alone been possible.
Trees now lined the roads, so I flicked on my lights. The last thing I needed right now was for my car to spin out of control, or hit another car. The latter of course being far less likely out on this road.
A mile or so down the road, I took a turning onto a narrower, gravel road. The road took a circuitous route, but led eventually to an old abandoned farm building. No one much came up here, but nonetheless I circled the building once with headlights off before pulling in to the open doors at the front.
Cruddock was beginning to panic now. He knew it was only a matter of time until he was discovered. Stealing this particular vessel was bound to be punishable by death, or worse.
He also knew that if he could get them back before the craft was discovered missing that he would get away with it altogether. He was almost certain of this.
The quickest time this journey could be completed in was sixteen minutes; and then only under the guidance of a seasoned Captain and a skilled engineering crew. Not only was this Cruddock’s maiden voyage, the truth was he was not really a Captain; the ink had barely dried on his pilot’s license.
As he sat staring at the banks of monitors before him, a single bead of sweat traced a line down his brow. So far, they had been gone for almost eighteen minutes and they still had the re-entry jump to do. Wondering if they had been discovered yet, Cruddock offered up a silent prayer to The Founders. At this stage, all he could do was hope that not all of this had been for nothing.
The largest of the monitors before him showed a video image, for the last five minutes one of the camera bots had been following their guest as she had made her way from the sleeping chamber.
Explaining to her where she was and why had fallen to Cruddock after a drawing of straws, and undoubtedly would be an interesting task, who knew how she would react.
With this in mind, he called for the ships Doctor to meet him in the dining area, in case their guest panicked and needed sedation.
The huge double doors opened out into a long derelict open plan space. Boxes lined one wall, dust collected in all corners. Stopping the car in the centre I left the engine running and the headlights on as I operated one of the switches on the key fob glued to the dash.
The double doors closed behind me with a hum; as I pressed the second switch, the ground before me tilted forward creating a ramp, which I eased my car onto and then disappeared into the depths below the barn.