“They’re definitely panicked,” said Vince Flashman, checking the exterior camera. “Something’s come up. Their hijacked spaceship isn’t a priority anymore.”
“Great,” said Carmen. “We might not have to blast our way out of here after all!”
“Observers: unseen: probability.”
“Good point,” said Vince. “But from what little I can see, anyway… there’s confusion. Some shouting… must’ve been some sort of accident elsewhere on the ship.”
“If there’s a moment when you can’t see anyone looking in our direction, let us know,” said Carmen. She kept her hand on the emergency ramp control, a button located by a terminal with deactivated camera features, likely a parting gift from The Soul Survivor. She wasn’t sure if the all-but robot was still locked in the bridge or had already made some sort of escape that didn’t rely on conventional exits, but she didn’t care. Xorn’Tal waited by the emergency ramp itself, ready to literally leap over and through the exit as it opened. While he was probably the most fragile of the three racers, he looked larger and intimidating, and bullets or lasers searing off his vines was likely to be more temporary than it was for the two humans, things he’d pointed out while volunteering for the most dangerous part of the plan.
“Are we still clear on how this goes down?” asked Carmen.
“Cessation requested: asking.”
“Sorry, Xorn’Tal. Jumpy, I guess.”
“Same here,” said Vince, keeping his eyes on his functional terminal. “Even if no one’s looking, the odds of us getting on unseen a-… no one’s looking, now, now!”
Carmen punched the control button and the ramp began to open, its magnetic seals breaking and pneumatic machinery rapidly lowering a ramp to make a quick hole in the side of their vessel. Xorn’Tal leapt over the dropping plates of hull while they were still articulating into a form acceptable for humans to disembark. The plant-like creature marveled at the complete lack of eyes on the ship, with only a few guards and hangar technicians in a nearby shed-like control room, all frantically looking over a monitor that he couldn’t make out. There were interior weapons trained on the ship, but none were activating, likely thanks to being based on manual controls instead of computerized ones. Xorn’Tal raised a signaling vine, and saw the hallway stretching away from the hangar, just alongside the control room.
Carmen and Vince jumped over the still-lowering ramp, and the three ran, Xorn’Tal only outpacing the two humans by virtue of a head start. As they passed the control room, the sight of an ambulatory tangle of vines and leaves rolling by followed by two humans in brightly colored professional racer garb caught the eye of two soldiers who gaped at the sight. One lifted an arm to point just as they fell out of Carmen’s view.
“They saw us!” she said. “Hurry, find a place to hide!”
“Juncture!” said Xorn’Tal. “Path chosen: left: obfuscate!”
“Left, got it,” confirmed Vince.
The trio neared the branching path where the hallway was joined by another, and immediately collided into the two soldiers who were darting around the corner. The five stumbled over each other, tripped, and sprawled across the ground, with only the multi-limbed Xorn’Tal maintaining some semblance of balance.
“Captain!” shouted one.
“Don’t worry about me, Trell, run!”
The two soldiers leapt to their feet quickly, with one of them surging in the direction the racers had just come from. Carmen noted the oddity of not being immediately apprehended or killed, as Vince shakily rose.
“Hey, lady, we don’t-”
The soldier identified as Captain pulled a rifle from the receptacle at her back and clubbed Vince in the skull, sending the racer staggering.
“I don’t know what moral transgression you committed in your past life to deserve getting in my way now, but know that I’ve neither the time nor inclination to let the one unsecured ship out of my clutches when a hull breach has-”
Xorn’Tal surged toward the soldier. Carmen expected the series of vines to verwhelm the humanoid, but the soldier easily bent her arm into a hook, swiped it forward to clear a massive section of vines, and head-butted the revealed root-like structure that comprised Xorn’Tal’s body. Xorn’Tal tumbled back, rolling onto the floor instead of instantly righting itself due to the soldier’s tentacle-sweep.
“Wait,” said Carmen. “Wait! I think we’re on the same-”
The soldier turned, running back down the hall but stopped at the sight of the second soldier returning.
“They were already moving,” she said. “Something tipped them off to-”
The captain held up a hand to silence the first, turned back to Carmen, and pointed.
“The same what?”
“Team,” said Carmen. “We’re… I think we’re on the same team.”
“Doubtful,” said the captain. “I’m Calen. Captain Calen, of Morcala.”
“Morcala,” growled Vince, standing and massaging his skull. “What are you-”
“That way!” shouted Trell, pointing down the hallway. “Hurry!”
The two soldiers ran around the corner and the racers took less than a second to organize their thoughts and follow behind.