Chapter 5 ~ One Second Too Late
The next morning, Billie woke up in her chair, with Gloria sleeping soundly nearby. Billie went to her, and gently shook her.
"Wake up, Gloria! Wake up dear! It's time to go, and I have to tell you something before we leave." She said.
"Go away, I'm not done sleeping!"
"Gloria wake up!"
Finally, Gloria woke up. As she was rising her eyes, she saw Billie's riffle pointed at her. Billie directed her out of the heliplane, out on the soft grass.
"Billie, point that thing away! I hate looking at it." Gloria said nonchalantly.
"I can't do that Gloria," Billie said dangerously.
"What? Did you fall and bump your head? Hello? I'm Gloria." She said waving her hand in front of Billie's face.
"I think you may have an emitter implanted in you, or worse you are a cyborg spy."
"I do not have an emitter in me, and I am not a cyborg spy. What came over you?
"Shut up" Billie said pointing the riffle at Gloria's brain. " Search your body for any scars that weren't there before."
Gloria did as told.
"No new scars," she said after a while.
"Well, maybe you're human after all." Billie said with the riffle now pointed at Gloria's heart.
"Billie, are you nuts? You aren't thinking that I am a cyborg spy. I can't be, because I hate the cyborgs even more than you do."
"Why would you hate them?"
"How do you think I feel about the fact that I am in a cold and unfriendly world all alone? Do you think I'm happy now that most likely I am an orphan? Do you think I'm happy being cold and hungry, worst of all do you think I am happy being stuck with a paranoid maniac who I thought was my friend? Do you?"
"Just because I don't say anything it doesn't mean I don't feel anything! And how would the fact that I am whining help me? I'm still in the same situation with very little chances of ever getting out. Does it help you identify that I am human? Does it help you identify who I am? Huh, does it?"
"In a way, it does." Billie said lowering her riffle.
"At the moment I think that I am more human than you." Gloria said, and ignoring her armed riffle left in a furry.
A few minutes later Billie entered the aircraft. Gloria was sitting at her console examining it fervently.
"Gloria, I'm sorry I had to do that, but I had to convince myself that you were not a cyborg spy." Billie said apologetically.
"Are you convinced?" Gloria asked.
"Good then let's go. We're wasting precious time arguing." Gloria said.
"Aren't you the least bit mad?"
"Of course I am. But what good would the anger do me? I mean, I could punch your lights out, but then who'd pilot this plane? I'd have to wait until you would come to your senses; time in which the real cyborgs would come and destroy us. Now get flying we don't have all day."
"I want to apologize. I had no right to doubt you, and now you made me feel guiltier. Come let me hug you and forget this disastrous incident."
"Apology accepted, but I'm still a little mad. How could you?" Gloria said as she was hugging Billie.
"I don't know. It all seemed too easy. Like we were missing something. Obviously you were the only person that was with me." Billie explained.
"It was an educated guess but it wasn't the right one. I mean… I mean… oh never mind! Let's just get going."
"No, what did you want to say?"
"Well, how do you know they didn't implant something in you?" Gloria asked. "
"I just do ok? I was awake the whole time and I checked myself over." Billie responded.
"Ok, enough of this nonsense. I want to get out of here." Billie took the controls and Gloria sat down beside her.
"How come there's no secondary pilot on this machine?" she asked.
"Because only the pilot is supposed to know how to fly this thing."
"What if something happens to the pilot?"
"Then the auto pilot takes over. Only the person with the right armored code can fly this aircraft. Otherwise, it self-destroys. "
"What nut made this?"
"No nut, " Billie explained "this way if we were in a war, only the pilots of our side could fly and benefit from the plane."
"There are ways of cracking codes. " Gloria nagged.
"Just be quiet for a second. I have to be very careful what I do. We're about to go above the clouds and we will have low visibility."
Gloria was silent. As they were talking, she barely realized when the heliplane took off the ground. It was a silent machine, flapping its wings slowly and Gloria was amazed at the precision of the strokes. Then it hit her. The reason the cyborgs had not followed and attacked, was because they knew who she was from the beginning. Now they were just waiting somewhere near by and they would follow them to the hide out. Best case scenario they would just destroy them on the spot.
"Wait! We can't go above the clouds!" Gloria yelled.
"What are you talking about! Of course, we can! We'll be safer up there! The clouds of Vesan13 are very thick! We won't be spotted." Billie said and touched the button that made the heliplane ascend.
"No, Billie, there's a cyborg patrol waiting up there! We're going right into their trap!" Gloria warned.
Unfortunately, it was too late. They had finished their ascend, meaning that they were no longer protected by the puffy clouds. Gloria was right. There was a patrol just finishing the search in that area.
"I hate it when I'm right!" she whispered. " Can we descend without their sensors noticing us?"
"I don't think so. I suspect that their sensors are 100 times more sensible than ours. We stand no chance. We may try, but I do not think we will succeed." Billie told her gravely.
"No good. Can't we just stay still and go to stealth mode? Then try to descend?"
"I'll try but as I said I do not know the capacity of their motion sensors."
"Any try is better than waiting to get fried."
Billie went to stealth mode. The sound and flapping of the wings stopped. They became straight. Then Gloria sensed a vibration come on. It was silent but she could feel the floor below them vibrate.
"What happened?" she asked alarmed.
"The stealth motors came on. They provide more stability to the aircraft."
"Good. Now let's try to descend. Can you give me firing controls?"
"I'll try. Might not work though."
"I keep telling you! Any try is better that none at all!" Gloria emphasized.
They did try to descend, but, as Billie predicted, there was no way; no chance. The patrol turned around in an instant and started firing.
"Oh no, how do I fire back?" Gloria asked.
"Touch the red button. Those are the forward guns. The green is the side guns, and the yellow is the cannon. " Billie explained.
"I thought you said the aircraft isn't equipped for battle." Gloria said.
"I did. The plasma canon is a replacement for missiles. They would be a big advantage. We could blow them up right now." Billie told her.
"Well why wasn't it equipped for battle?" Gloria asked frustrated.
"It's stolen from an old base, that's why. Back in the days when this thing was made they were using canons on heliplanes not missiles!" Billie explained.
"Ok, ok, where are they? I'm going to try to fire the plasma canon." Gloria said.
"Where do you think? Right on our tail of course!" Billie told her.
Gloria took a look on the machine's radar. The cyborg patrols were right on their tail, preparing to fire.
"Billie, go up!" Gloria instructed.
Billie did as told, and she dodged the precise hit.
"Fast, tell me, how long until the base?" Gloria asked.
"Well, at this rate, 20 minutes max." Billie told her.
"Ok, would it be faster if you took the stealth cloak off?" Gloria asked.
"A bit." Billie confessed.
"Then do it! We don't have time to waste! I have no idea how long I can keep trying to fire at them! We stand no chance! We must make a run for it!" Gloria emphasized .
"Ok, well, I'm taking the stealth cloak off right now!" Billie announced.
"I'll be prepared for any eventuality." Gloria assured her. Unfortunately, Gloria was not a combat officer. She didn't have reflexes build for that. Billie managed to dodge another direct hit, but the cyborgs were faster. They hit the heliplane's right wing.
"Gloria! Take over flight controls!" Billie ordered.
"What? Are you mad? I can barely manage to shot, do you want me to fly this thing?" Gloria asked horrified.
"Come on, I'll take over targeting controls, let me give you a crash course in flying this." Billie ordered.
"No, I'll probably crash us into a cliff!" Gloria shook her head.
"Don't be a chicken! This is our only chance for survival! Here, the wheel controls altitude, and the green button makes the heliplane spin. Speed changes with altitude! Right now we're going at maximum, so don't change it!" Billie informed her.
Gloria nodded and swallowed the lump in her throat. The two women switched controls. Gloria's hands were shaking on the console of the heliplane.
"Brace yourself! Pull the wheel up!" Billie instructed.
Gloria did as told, and another missile flew past them. She then returned to the previous altitude. Billie tried firing, at the borgs, but nothing worked. They were too low on technology, and the borgs were too fast.
"Gloria pull up!" Billie yelled when she saw the missile hit them.
In a frenzy to get out of the missile's path, Gloria accidentally touched the green button. The heliplane began to spin crazily, making both Billie and Gloria airsick. Billie quickly made her way to Gloria's console, and took the flying controls back into safer hands.
"That's it, we're not going to try to fire. All we're going to do is try to dodge the missiles!" Billie decided.
"How much longer until the base?" Gloria asked.
"A few more minutes, but if we crash in the vicinity, they will find us." Billie told her calmly.
"Crash?" Gloria wanted to make sure that she heard her right.
"Yeah, how long do you think I'll be able to hold this in the air, considering right wing's out of fuel, and it's burning up?" Billie asked.
"Oh no! We need a fire extinguisher!" Gloria panicked.
"No, under your seat, there's a parachute! Put it on, we're going to jump." Billie ordered.
"But…" Gloria didn't continue, Billie cut her off
"No buts. We have less than five minutes to get ready! I've already lost right wing control." Billie told her.
"Great! For your information I don't know how to parachute!" Gloria screamed.
"Don't panic. You'll do just fine. Come on now!" Billie said and got up from her seat.
"Who's flying the plane?" Gloria asked in horror.
"No one. I've programmed it to crash into that cliff ahead! Let's go, the clock is ticking!" Billie put on her parachute, and pushed Gloria out of the heliplane. Unfortunately, they were a second too late. The heliplane crashed into the cliff. The two survivors got caught in the after shock of the explosion.
After they jumped, Gloria and Billie slowly returned to earth. They were exhausted. As soon as Gloria's feet touched the ground, she passed out from the shock, and pressure of events.
As Gloria opened her eyes, she could feel the pain in her body. Aches and burns, it was all a swirl of painful emotions. She tried to take a look around, but her body refused to move. Gloria realised that she was being carried on an emergency litter. She tried to look up at the people or cyborgs carrying her, but she couldn't. They looked human, but she wasn't sure. Gloria wanted to talk, to yell to scream, but her tongue felt nailed to her mouth. Her lips were sealed. She panicked, but her panic was in vain. All that remained was a feeling of exhaustion that made her eyelids close rapidly. "Help me." Gloria thought before she passed out again.