The party members are up early to catch breakfast as soon as it is served at 0600. Once fed and watered, they all check out of The Savoy and pile their luggage into the AGC before Max puts the AGC on maximum thrust and it shoots up vertically. He then puts his foot hard down and the vehicle accelerates hard, thrusting everyone into their seats.
Soon Furingort is just a blur in the rear view vidscreen as the AGC shoots over the rugged terrain of Quanchiovt. After a couple of hours, the mountain range forming the spine of the island passes beneath the high flying vehicle and Max starts to descend. Three more hours later and the bright blue waters of the ocean are ahead.
Once the AGC is over the sea, Max brings the AGC down, skimming over the azure waters just a few metres over the gentle waves. After a couple of hours, the beauty of the sea starts to wear off a little and, with no land in sight, it starts to get a little repetitive.
Having Max driving also means that Max is in control of the stereo and, after several hours of non-stop dubstep, it’s starting to grate on people’s nerves.
During conversation, the others learn that Stian is also very experienced with grav vehicles and so it is suggested that Max takes a break from driving. He is getting a little bored himself and so doesn’t object at moving over to give Stian a go at the controls.
The rest of the afternoon passes uneventfully. In this part of the ocean, they pass over many of the ‘greenmats’ that the oceans of Pagaton are famous for, impenetrable masses of seaweed that only the sturdiest of ironclads are able to penetrate.
Stian stifles a yawn as the journey continues. It is late afternoon now and they are around 4500km of the way through the 7000km journey.
All of a sudden there is an almighty explosion from beneath the AGC which sends the party members flying from their seats in a hail of shrapnel. Stian wrestles with the controls as the AGC tumbles from the sky.
Stian wrestles with the joystick, trying to pull the stricken vehicle out from its dive as there is no power coming from any of the grav modules. He manages to pull the craft up and levels it out just as it hits the water. The craft hits the surface of the waves with an almighty jolt which launches it a few metres off the surface again, sending it skimming like a stone. It bounces again, then again as it loses velocity before finally coming to a rest.
The passengers are all battered and bruised from the experience, but no one is badly injured. Which is lucky.
Water is starting to seep inside the craft now as the explosion from beneath shattered the integrity of the vehicle.
It is obvious to all that the ship is beyond repair. She’s going down and, unless they get out within the next few minutes, all aboard will be going down along with her.
Jie gets tumbled around the inside of the flyer. Immediately she disengages the floatation device cunningly wedged under her seat then helps the others escape the sinking ship if need be. All happy, warm giddiness about being back on her home paradise world…gone.
Will’s first thought (after “ouch” as Grim’s knee drives the lumbar support pad on Will’s seat deep into his kidney, is “who let the woman drive?”
Realizing it was Stian at the helm, Will elects not to voice this. He then realizes that the ship is sinking and he can’t swim, resulting in a state of panics. He thrashes his way pitifully towards the exit, using every ounce of his meagre strength, and stepping on Grim’s sore knee. He does remember the medkit though.
Thinking himself a lucky bugger as well as how sensible a precaution it was to fasten his seatbelt Stian and has a moments thought about how his gear is stowed and what kind of flotation/rescue gear is on board and where the fuck is it?
As Stian unfastens the belt, he tries to radio up to Autumn on the Princess. All he can get from it is a few seconds of static though before water gets into the circuit and the radio expires completely.
Max, who is sat next to him was not wearing his seat belt and was smacked against the windscreen by the impact.
“Fack,” he cries holding his bloody nose. “That’s the last time I’m lettin’ you drive.”
As the water starts to pool around his feet, he then realizes that this is the last time anyone is going to be driving the vehicle.
“Fack!” he cries again. “I can’t fackin’ swim. I fackin’ ‘ate water. I won’t even drink the shit.”
Seeing how helpless Max is, Jie paddles through the water, and drags him out while thrusting a floatation device into his hand.
“Damn! Now we’ll have to spring for a new AGC and I’ll never get that pre-owned General Shipyards Axsailorater2 Manuever unit for the Princess!’ is Grim’s first thought after the rough landing.
Rubbing his sore knee as he spots the water seeping into the AGC, Grim grabs his Rifle and slings it over his back. Then he apes Jie by grabbing one of the standard issue HelpMeWe’reSinking™ flotation seat cushions, and, elbowing a few less important people out of the way, prepares to exit the vehicle calmly…
Stian, suited up in his vacc suit and breathing air so he won’t drown and using an uninflated HelpMeWe’reSinking™ vest strapped on so I won’t be sinking, gets out of his seat, taking a last glance at the caution lights on the instrument MFD to see if there’s any hint as to what happened. Although the display is lit up like a Christmas tree with warning lights now which are starting to fizzle out as sea water starts destroying the electronics, he is pretty sure that the explosion was not caused by any vehicle malfunction, or as a result of his driving.
He then calmly heads to the gear racks where he starts by strapping gear to him and continues by passing a dinghy to Taeva through the hatch in the rear of the vehicle.
Max and Will are of little use to the salvage operation and so, once they have their floatation devices employed, they just get out of the sinking vehicle and stay out of the way of the others.
Jie, Taeva and Grim manage to get the two dinghies employed and also a couple of the floatation devices.
By the time that they have managed to do this, the AGC is dangerously full of water already and it is now going to be a matter of seconds before the weight of the sea water inside takes the AGC to the sea bottom – taking whoever is still trapped in there along with them.
They manage to throw the lighter and most useful of the items inside the dinghies before they see that the AGC is now keeling on its side and rapidly starting to descend. Jie is the last one out as she holds her breath and escapes from the sinking vehicle, joining the others on the surface.
Grim and Jie both haul themselves into one of the dinghies and then start to pull the others inside it too.
As the last of the party members reaches the safety of the dinghies, they see the front end of the AGC finally descending down to the depths in a mass of bubbles.
“Fackin’ piece of crap AGC,” jabbers an obviously panicked Max. “Fackin’ thing was still under warranty too. I’m gonna give the fackin’ dealer a piece of my mind when we get back to Glisten.”
“That was no mechanical failure,” replies Grim, grimly. “That was a bomb.”
Jie looks around, but there appears to be no sign of any land or any vessels within sight. They are stranded at sea, and the light is already starting to fade.
All are very much aware of the fact that they are well over 1000km from any land here and so there is little point in trying to paddle in any particular direction. All they can do is to wait and hope and pray that there is someone around that might find them floating around out here.
They settle down for what most fear will be a long wait out in the ocean. At least the sea is calm and it is possible for one person to curl up in the bottom of each dinghy and sleep for a while.