Chapter 27

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"Oh well, at least it's only Hobart."

"Max!"  The disapproval was evident in Cora's transmitted voice, even across the nearly 400,000 kilometres separating them.

"OK, OK.  Hmm."  Max scratched his head.  "So, you say we've got an hour before they start blowing stuff up?"

"Yes, but that was a few minutes ago now."

"So what we need first of all is more time."

"Time to do what?"

Max grinned ruefully.  "Whatever brilliant plan we come up with in the time that we're going to get by thinking up some brilliant plan to give us more time."

"So in other words, you're winging it again."

"Well, 'again' would imply that we had actually stopped."  Max looked around at Cam, Chek, Flenson and Pok.  "Any ideas?"

Cam sipped thoughtfully on his drink.  "How about if we tell them where the PM is?"

Max frowned.  "Yeah, not liking that plan very much, so far.  Mainly due to the whole 'Rigellians winning and Earth becoming a giant sweat-shop' thing.  But go on."

"Well, if we wait until the hour is almost up before we call them, that buys us a bit of time.  And then we could tell them the PM is somewhere really isolated and obscure and that it'll take us a while to get to him before we hand him over.  That might give us another hour or two."

"An hour or two to do what?" asked Cora.

"What we planned to do originally," replied Max.  "Get on board the battlestation and somehow mess things up.  You guys did your bit brilliantly by getting the PM, but the Rigellians' threat to blow up cities means that keeping him out of their hands until the invasion deadline has passed isn't really an option any more.  Our only hope is to hit the battlestation.  And to do it quickly."

"Oh, man," said Chek.  "I am so up for this.  Stealth attacks, insane odds, blowing stuff up - how much cooler can this day get?  I know just which jacket to wear."

"Who is that?" asked Cora.

"Uh, that's Chek," replied Max.  "He's...it's a long story.  Let's just say he's on our side.  I'll explain later.  Assuming there is a later."

"Hey there, little lady.  Nice to meet you.  Don't go stressing, your boys are in good hands.  When something needs blowing up, Chek's your man."

"Somehow I don't find that very reassuring."

"Oh, I find it very reassuring," chimed in the voice of Mel.  "Now there's someone I can blame if the boys don't make it back safely.  Someone I can hunt down.  Someone I can make aware of my displeasure.  You hearing me, Chek?  Whoever the hell you are?"

Chek grinned a slow grin.  "I'm hearing you.  And I like what I hear.  You sound like my kind of lady.  Maybe we can get together for a drink, after all this is over?"

Cam cleared his throat.  "Uh, Chek.  That's Mel.  She and I are, you know, kind of...um...together."

Chek's grin grew wider.  "Can't say I'm surprised, my man.  Makes sense that a super-Earthman would have a super-babe."

"OK," said Max.  "Now that we have that cleared up, we'd better get moving.  Cora and Mel, you guys do your best to stall the Rigellians.  I suspect we're going to need all the time you can give us.  Now we just need to work out how to get on board the battlestation."

"What about the shuttle?" asked Flenson.

"Yeah, we could go that way.  Kinda telegraphing our moves, though.  I liked the shuttle idea when we had no other options.  Now we do.  Chek, any ideas?"

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