Flight plans

The compound should have been alive with alarms and yelling, yet it remained eerily silent. The bedraggled trio made their way outside and ducked through the courtyard. From the outside, the concrete structure was about the size of a one-story elementary school, with one level underground. It was rather unimpressive. Jay hoped it was also uninhabited. They stumbled around the outside of the building in search of a vehicle, but there were none.

Jay leaned over to Smarty and said, “It took us two-and-a-half hours to get from the airfield to this place on foot. Do you fancy a healthy midnight jog back to the plane?”

But Smarty didn't hear, the tinnitus in his ears was thrumming too loud.

Jay nodded, “Yeah, we don't have the time to go on foot anyway.”

Suddenly, Kumiko pointed, “Hey hey!”

Jay followed her outstretched arm and spotted a tipped-over dirt bike resting in the grass. He pulled it up the handlebars and jumped on. It had no ignition, and it took four kicks to fire it up, but when it did the engine sounded solid. Jay nodded behind him and told Kumiko, “Hop on.” He felt the suspension sag as she climbed aboard, then she wrapped her arms around his chest. He leaned forward to make room for Smarty, who didn't hesitate, and climbed on behind Kumiko, ostensibly sitting on the rear tire's fender. Soon the three escapees were zipping through unseen trails in the darkness, praying there wasn't a pissed-off army at their heels. Jay navigated his way to something resembling a road and activated the comm link sewn into the neck of his shirt. A small wire ran from the microphone to a tiny bud wedged in his ear, “Whirlybird, you copy?”

For five seconds there was nothing but the keening sound of the motorbike's engines pushed past the threshold of proper usage, then a woman's voice crackled through, calm and quiet, “This is Whirlybird.” She sounded bored.

Were you sleeping?”

This time the answer was immediate, “Nossir. We are primed and ready to go.”

Uh-huh. Well, up and at 'em, sleepyhead. It's checkout time!”

You sound out of breath. You comin' in hot?”

The natives are definitely restless, yes.”

E.T.A.?”

Jay checked the speedometer; they were going sixty on a pitch-black road in the middle of the night, “Hell should I know?! Less than ten, maybe five.”

We'll be up and running. Take your time.”

Jay had known Whirlybird for four years. “Take your time” was her way of saying “Move your ass.”

Roger that. And Whirly?”

Yeah, Boss?”

We got three leaving, but Techie ain't one of them.”

Her end was silent for a while, longer than he expected. When finally she spoke her voice was crisp and terse, “Ten-four.”

The End

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