I received information about the whereabouts of my White Rabbit. In a risky move, I tried to get it back.
“Zero, we’ve located your White Rabbit. It is currently being refurbished and will be sold to a snob in Lorville in two days. It will be in an accessible location in the evening before the handover. However, you will have to stay under the radar to get to the location. I hope you’re not afraid to fly deep into the canyons of the city. You’ll get the exact coordinates.”
The news from the activists came as a surprise and made my heart beat faster. I could feel it pounding in my head. But I also realized that I needed help for the campaign. Someone had to fly me there. Someone who could fly well, who could fly very well. Husky. He was a racing pilot and was used to flying in canyons. And a mechanic would also be an advantage if there was anything wrong with the ship. I immediately thought of Hermieoth. And Brubacker should also be there. Another scandal was on the horizon. Hurston Dynamics was locking people up in prison, confiscating their spaceships and then selling them. Brubacker had to bring this to the public.
All three came, and not empty-handed. Husky had a Piscis Medical with him. If I had known at the time how good that choice was. At that moment, though, I was surprised. I was also surprised by Hermieoth. He had brought armor from Hurston Security and a worker’s outfit for Brubacker. I better not ask where he got them. And Hermieoth had a plan for us on how to fly out of Lorville safely. Yes, and Brubacker. He had his pen in his pocket to take notes, I hoped.
Fully equipped and disguised, we made our way to the planet Hurston. Husky officially landed the Piscis in front of City Gate 3 of the mega-metropolis Lorville. Hermieoth wanted to go to the Central Business District with Brubacker. Constantin Hurston’s office was located there. Brubacker was to distract Constantin Hurston with a theatrical performance so that Hermieoth could steal his departure codes.
The tailgate of the Piscis opened. Dirt particles danced through the air and glowed in the light of Stanton’s star. First Hermieoth got out in his Hurston Security armor, then Brubacker followed. After only two steps, Brubacker began to stumble. He swayed back and forth like a drunken man. Hermieoth had already run up the stairs to the gate, while Brubacker was still trying to take one step at a time without an accident.
“Brubacker, are you all right?”
“I don’t know. It’s all so strange. The world is a slide show. I’m so…..”
At that moment, Brubacker fell to his knees. The guards at the city gate had already taken notice. They took a step towards Brubacker. Damn, the attention of the authorities was exactly what we didn’t need. I quickly ran to Brubacker. With a glance and a thumbs up, I signaled to the guards that everything was under control. Did they believe my disguise as a Huston Security soldier? The guards stopped, but continued to watch the action on the stairs. One of the guards held her gun firmly in front of her chest, ready to react to any surprise.
Somehow, Brubacker managed to keep walking. Staggering, he disappeared into the city gate. When I got back to the Piscis, Husky was standing next to the ramp with a meter.
“There are a lot of toxins in the air. Not a good idea to walk around without a helmet. Hopefully it’s better in the city and Brubacker recovers quickly.”
Husky had barely finished speaking when Brubacker got on the radio:
“Guys, I’m not feeling well at all. You’ll have to do this without me.”
Running in a serpentine line, Brubacker came back. It took him several attempts to hit the Piscis entrance. Finally, he made it to the Piscis’ sickbed. Total failure, we could no longer count on him. Then the long wait began. Would Hermieoth manage to steal the codes on his own?
It was already dark when Hermieoth came back. With the codes. Husky immediately started the Piscis and flew low towards City Gate 6. I couldn’t see anything from my seat, but I felt the ship suddenly pull upwards, only to plummet back down again shortly afterwards. Husky must have flown over the gate and was now in the city canyon. I could no longer suppress my impatience, opened the safety bar on the seat and stood up.
Over Husky’s shoulder, I could see him flying at high speed low through an artificial canyon. He flew under container bridges and metro tracks. Suddenly Husky took a wild swing. I didn’t manage to hold on and lay at Hermieoth’s feet. He stood like a rock. Cursing, I scrambled to my feet. As soon as I was back behind the pilot’s seat, there was another sudden change of direction. I was on the ground again and looked up at Hermieoth, who was still standing securely.
“How the hell do you do that?”
“Stand securely. Tense your muscles. I learned that in my military training.”
I had to realize that I couldn’t do that and strapped myself back into the seat.
A little later, Husky landed the Piscis in a tunnel that led through a high-rise building. There it stood, next to a crane, my Mercury Star Runner.
Hermieoth and I jumped out of the Piscis. My joy turned to horror. My White Rabbit, she was a Black Rabbit.
“What the hell have they done to my ship. Looks like the houses in Lorville. Black and gold, that can’t be true.”
Hermieoth seemed to have taken a liking to the paintwork.
“Hey, it looks cool. Very elegant. Can you open the cargo ramp?”
The lock accepted my personal code, the ramp opened and within a few seconds we were standing in the dark, empty cargo hold. But one thing was strange. The elevator to the top of the ship was in the up position.
“Shit. Could there be someone on board? Hermieoth, you check the systems in the engineering room, I’ll go through the maintenance tunnels to the sleeping area.”
More crawling than walking, I moved slowly through the red-lit shaft. At a junction, I had to think for a moment about which way to go. Apparently I hadn’t been in this ship for too long. I decided to go right and shortly afterwards knelt under a hatch. It said “Habitation” on it. The moment of truth.
The hatch opened with a hiss. I cautiously lifted my head. My helmet stuck out of the floor like a young plant. The metal floor was exactly at eye level. Up close, I could see how spotlessly clean it was. It had never been this clean on board before. The floor was shiny, even though it was dark in the sleeping area.
And that wasn’t all. The room had been prepared for the new owners. There was a sextant, trophies, coins and other stuff on the desks. In the closet, I found my armor and my clothes. So the idiots wanted to sell my things too. I was standing in front of the open wardrobe door, full of rage, when I suddenly heard a voice behind me.
“What are you doing there? We have to get out of here. I’ve checked the whole ship. It’s empty. Come on, hurry up.”
It was Hermieoth. I shook off my thoughts and went into the cockpit with him. On the way, we passed the weapon racks. All kinds of weapons were hung up in them. Colorful weapons in happy colors. They looked like toy weapons, but they were deadly. My God, what kind of additional equipment my White Rabbit was being sold with. All for the pleasure of the rich people in this vile city.
Finally, Hermieoth and I sat in the pilot’s seats. It was an exhilarating feeling to finally be back at the wheel of my White Rabbit. With a click, I flipped a switch. The ship came to life. The lights came on and the engines began to roar. I slowly pressed the foot pedal to take off.
But nothing happened. The Mercury Star Runner stood there rooted to the spot. I looked questioningly at Hermieoth. He replied calmly:
“Switch the engines off and on again.”
I flipped a lever and the engines stopped. Then I pressed the lever again and the engines roared again. I gently pressed my foot down. A second of tension passed, a second in which nothing happened. Then the White Rabbit rose. I carefully drifted towards the middle of the tunnel and turned the ship 180 degrees at the same time. Obviously not careful enough. Suddenly Husky’s voice rang out on the radio.
“Watch out. You almost rammed into me.”
“Uh sorry. I didn’t mean to. But let’s get out of here.”
I gave thrust. The White Rabbit shot out of the tunnel and plunged into the urban canyons of Lorville. In the darkness of the night, its black and gold paintwork merged with the black and gold skyline. We left the city unnoticed.
Before we gained altitude, Husky radioed Constantin Hurston’s stolen code to air traffic control. We left the planet Hurston undisturbed. I had my White Rabbit back, stolen back from the clutches of the greedy Hurston family. I could hardly believe my luck.