"The entrance should be somewhere....in that direction..roughly." Rickie vaguely indicated somewhere off to his right, unsure of himself.
"Uh, Rick, can you be a bit more specific than that?" I told him. "Double check everything, make sure you're right."
Ella turned to Jane standing beside her. "Remind me not to be stranded in a maze with him."
Jane smirked, nodding. "Will do."
"Fine. It's thirty yards over towards that weird rock outcropp-y thingy." Rickie attempted to explain further, grumbling. His brows were furrowed in half concentration, half annoyance.
"Awww," Jane mock-cooed, speaking in her impeccable baby voice. "It gonna be otay Rickie-Wickie.. It otay to be diwectonawwy chawenged." Jane giggled at her own joke.
"Oh shut up and start walkin'!" he growled, trudging onward. We kept on walking, with Jane and Ella giggling conspirationally together at the rear. I wasn't sure what I was going to do about those two...
We walked up to a big boulder sticking out in a funny, abnormal angle. As if someone had /put it there or something.
"Wow. Could they have made it even MORE obvious as to where they hid their secret entrances?" Ella shook her head in sad disappointment. "And they claim they're so "good" ..."
"Yeah. 'So good' my life," Rickie rolled his eyes while grumbling. He started patting the rock down like an airport TSA employee, trying to find some sort of entry point or secret switch hidden in the rock. "Jaxy, do you have any helpful advice on how to find hidden switches?" he spoke aloud to Jax in his ear.
"I told you not to call me that, that's only for Jane." He threatened mildly. He laughed, then continued on. "Okay, do you see anything out of place - or look like it can be poised, moved or rotated?"
"Here, let someone else look for it, Rickie. I'm afraid you might blow us up or something. No offense." Ella said, nervous.
Rickie looked hurt. "Oh, come on! I saved all our butts when I pressed that big red button back on the plane, remember? Or do you forget so easily?"
"Well, yeah... but that was, like, a miracle that rarely happens once out of all eternity. So, in short, it ain't gonna happen again." Jane retorted.
I rolled my eyes. Children...
While the three imbeciles bickered back and forth, Jackie decided to take charge and search for the hidden switch herself. It didn't take long, either. Pretty soon, her searching fingers eventually found some switch at the base and a small slot of rock slid back to reveal a key panel.
Our whole group looked on in shocked silence, eyes wide. All that could be heard was the wild wind whistling in our ears.
"Well, that worked. You're a genius, Jackie!" Jane cheered, giving her a triumphant high-five.
"Wow, way to go, Jackie." Jax sounded quite pleased. "Now Rick, you know what to do."
"Aye, aye!" Rickie replaced Jackie on the ground, pointing the datapad's top at the control panel. He hit a button and waited. Probably while the little gadget did it's job.
"What's it doing?" Ella wondered, peering inquisitively at the handy little device.
"It scans the control panel so it can hack into its secure channel in order to access the base's security measures." Jax explained. "Neat, huh?" I could hear his loud smirk through the comms. I wasn't going to comment on that. The last thing he needed was another boost to his ego.
In no time at all, the datapad was through the firewalls and we were in.
Rickie let out a whistle. "That was fast."
"Yay! Now we can get in." Cheered Jane.
"Wouldn't you think entering the secret mine through the front door really isn't smart? They'll know we were here for sure." Ella pointed out.
I hadn't thought of that one. Was this even considered a front door, though? I couldn't be sure. "Good point. Jax? Blake? Any ideas?" I offered.
This time, Blake spoke up. "Well, there's a ventilation shaft in the celing right when you enter. Jax put the cameras in the room on a loop so you won't be seen. Let us know when you get in the shaft."
Beside me, Rickie chuckled. Noticing the evil look I sent him, he quickly suppressed it, creasing his lips into a tight line.
"What's so funny, Rick?" I inquired, almost afraid to know what it was he found funny.
"Blake just said 'shaft'," he chuckled, shoulders vibrating from his laughter.
The girls broke out into laughter as well when they got it.
I rolled my eyes and let out a big sigh. They were acting like freaking five year olds! Sometimes it felt like I was the only one normal here.
"Are you kidding me?" I exclaimed, throwing my hands up in exasperation. "Get your freaking heads out of the gutter and start acting your age, guys!"
Jane's expression turned apologetic. "Sorry Roxy. We can't help it if we have perverted radars." she claimed.
"Sorry, Roxy. I shouldn't have mentioned it." came Blake's apology through the comms.
"It's Rickie's fault. He's the reason why our minds are tainted." Jackie said, elbowing her twin.
"Just forget it and let's move on." I told them, eager to put this all behind me and move on. "Let's hurry and get in. Everyone follow my lead and do it quickly. Don't stop for anything." I waited for Rickie to hack in the passcode before we went in.
Unfortunately, it was so dark inside to where I could barely see my hand when I put it in front of my face. What little light that did seep into the room from outside did little to illuminate anything beyond three feet in front of me.
"Dude, shut the front door!" Rickie barked from somewhere behind me. Someone did and we were plunged into total darkness.
"Wow Rickie, you're so funny." said Jane dryly.
"Yeah, I try." Rickie replied as he fumbled around in the dark. Who knew what he was doing back there.
"Rickie, what the heck are you freakin' doing?" Jane wondered, voicing my opinion.
"OW! That was my toe, Rick! What are you trying to do back there, tap dancing?" Ella wheezed behind the pain in her voice somewhere near where I was. Fortunately for him he hadn't stepped on mine, or it wouldn't have been very pretty.
"I'm trying to find a freaking light switch or something. I can't see!" He explained, exasperated. He continued to shuffle around restlessly.
"Obviously," Jane muttered, probably doing another eye roll.
Finally, Rickie had managed to find something - a flashlight. It's beam swept around the room as Rickie examined our surroundings. A small rectangular room. Boring, tiled floors, with a door on the opposite side of the room from where we were.
"There's the vent," Jackie pointed directly above our heads. There was the air duct we wanted.
"Next question: how are we gonna get up there?" Rickie wondered, glancing around for something to help.
"I know! You're almost to giant height, Rickie... Why don't you just jump up there and break it down?" Jane suggested, snarky.
"Har-har, Shorty." he mocked. "Now slave, go fetch me that chair." He gestured pointedly towards a desk chair.
Jane glared at him, pinching his arm. "I am NOT your slave! Shorty shall make you regret those words..." She threatened, going to get the chair anyways.
It was placed directly under the vent. Rickie climbed on top, stretching one long arm towards it, a screwdriver in the other. He and his twin were one of the tallest out of the rest, not including Jax - who dwarfed all of us easy. I was just about an inch or two shorter than them, but not by much. Rickie had longer arms than all of us, so he was definitely best suited to this certain task. And that vent looked terribly high up.
"Where's a propper ladder when you need one..." Ella wondered, looking around. There wasn't any of the sort in sight, sadly, so we were just gonna have to work with what we had.
"It'll be fine, Ella. We'll have someone haul us up there." said Jackie, trying to be reassuring.
"But we don't have any buff guys here to do it..." Jane said, heavy sarcasm layered into her mock-innocent voice.
"Hey now. That's just harsh.." Rickie replied from his perch atop the chair. He had successfully unscrewed two of the four screws from the vent, beginning on the third.
Jane beamed up at him, unabashed. "I know."
Eventually, Rickie finished with the others and handed them and the vent door to Jackie. "Jackie, you and Roxy go up first and help Ella and Jane up." He said, holding out a hand for me to grab.
I took it and he pulled me up next to him. "You drop me, I'll kill you." I threatened, staring levely at him as we both stood on the chair.
Rickie grinned, all teeth. "I know you will. I'll try not to."
After I took a deep calming breath, I stretched upwards with my hands towards the shaft hole-- oh jeez! Thanks to Rick, I couldn't help but notice how wrong and stinking perverted that sounded in my head.
I curse that boy and everything he has caused! He's just as bad as Jane!
Rickie threaded his fingers together and held them low in place for me. I slowly put a foot on them, using the same leg to hoist myself up, and grabbing the edge of the sha-- I mean VENT HOLE!-- once I had done so. With Rickie's help from below, I pulled myself through it and I used my upper body strength to climb in further. Once I had made it up inside the vent, I turned right around to assist Jackie up. The vent was a nice size for a human to fit through comfortably.
From now on, I erase the word 'shaft' from my vocabulary, I silently vowed to myself.
After I'd hauled Jackie up, Jane's squeaky voice came from below, which told me she wasn't too excited about climbing up into the high-up ventilation system - her and her phobias.
"I think I'm starting to regret my decision to come on this dang mission..."
Rickie scoffed at her. "Come on, Janie. Tough it out."
Jane wasn't having it. "Heck no! I'm claustrophobic, remember? I don't do well in enclosed spaces and I don't do heights!" She exclaimed.
Come on, Jane. It's not that bad, you'll be fine." Jax insisted through out comms.
"Yeah, Jane. The vents aren't that small like in the movies. There's ample room up here." I told her.
Jane looked uncertainly at all of us. From up above, I could even see her shaking.
Ella put a hand on her shoulder. "Hey, it'll be okay girl. I have a smaller case of Claustrophobia. We'll be in and out of there as quick as Rickie can fall through the vents - if you get my drift." She sent her a wink.
Despite her fear, Jane grinned back. "Alright, fine. Just hurry guys."
Once Jackie and I helped Ella up, Jane came after, then Rickie.
"See, Jane? It's not bad at all up here." said Jackie.
Jane, who was kneeling with her arms wrapped around herself, nodded shakily. "Yeah, sure." She didn't look very convinced.
I huffed, pressing on. "Okay, let's get moving before Jane pukes and we have to smell it the whole way." I had a horrible flashback to the last time Jane had gotten freaked out from one of her phobias. Not an experience I ever wanted to repeat.
I led the group, with Jackie following. Ella and Jane trailed behind and Rickie brought up the rear.
"Okay, but just make sure no one farts." Rickie said in a stage whisper.
Jackie, Ella and Jane giggled at that. A smirk happened to spread across my lips as well.
"No promises, Twin." Jackie teased.