When I woke up, my head hurt like Hell and I was disoriented for a while. Once my vision stopped going fuzzy, I was kinda able to see a bit better.
The plane was a flaming massive wreck right in front of me; for a second there, I actually believed I was in Hell. I was coughing from all the smoke and my whole body throbbed like I'd been run repeatedly by a semi-truck a million times over. I had to shift some of the rubble off me so I could try and stand. Thankfully, someone was right there, helping me up.
I clung to whoever it was helping me as they led me away from the crushed plane a safe distance away. I immediately collapsed like a wasted drunk to the dirt floor - not that I would know, trust me.
Eventually my hearing gradually came back to me, and I could hear someone's frantic voice calling my name, but I couldn't quite comprehend who it was until she fell to her knees next to me. It was Jackie, crying into my ear as she hugged me tightly. I rather liked it better when I wasn't able to hear...
Jackie was hugging me so tightly that I choked. Forget dying by crashing airplane, I was going to die in a better way: "Death By Hugs."
When she finally released me, I was finally able to talk and breath correctly. "Rox, are you okay? You gave us a scare!" she told me. She was almost comical, I couldn't help to notice, her big blue-green eyes wide as she panicked.
I coughed again to clear my throat to talk. "Yes I'm fine,Jackie. Would you chill? " I griped at her. Sometime's she just worried too much. I glanced around to see the rest of my battered teammates sitting in the dirt as well. Blake was standing next to us; he must have been the one who had helped me from the wreckage, I guessed. "How's everyone else? No major injuries?" I happened to be looking at Blake when I spoke.
"Just minor scrapes and bruises. Luckily, before we crashed, I managed to hit the Safety Eject button, which ejected the cockpit from the plane. Everyone who was seated made it out safely, but you... I'm just glad you didn't get killed." He rubbed his jaw, looking stressed.
I put my fingers to my temples and closed my eyes, attempting to stiffle my raging headache. Just my luck... I don't know how I always managed to find danger, or vice versa. You could say it was a curse; I say KARMA.
"We lost you in all the rubble from the plane. Blake, Rickie, Jax and I were trying to remove as much rubble as we could from the burning plane to find you. We were so worried you'd..." Jackie shook her head, unable to say the very dreaded word that haunted our sleeping and waking moments. "Then we heard you, saw you pushing through the debris on top of you, and Blake brought you to safety."
"Are you sure you're okay?" Blake asked, sounding very worried but trying to hide it. I felt his warm, strong hand tentatively touch my shoulder, his voice full of concern. I was very glad my eyes were closed at that moment, so I couldn't see his expression so that my face didn't heat up and my heart didn't do a weird lurching number in my chest.
"Yeah, just peachy. A slight headache is the least of my worries." I replied, slowly opening my eyes as my headache increased. "Now here's my question: Where in the hell are we?"
Before anyone could answer me, Rickie's high-pitched voice could be heard as he pelted Jax with a thousand questions.
"There better not be any scratches on Mr. Smith or I swear..." he trailed off threateningly, pointing an accusing finger at Jax. He carefully inspected his computer for any damage.
Jax stood in front of him, calmly standing there with his arms folded across his chest. "I'm sure your precious laptop is just fine." he said dully.
"Hey Rick, put that thing to good use and find out our current position." I hollered. That should give him something to do.
Jax ignored my interruption, continuing on pestering Rickie with the roll of his eyes. "We just crashed, almost getting flattened like pancakes, and you're fretting over your stupid computer? You're such a nerd."
"And you're a horrible pilot. I am never riding in the same plane you drive again! " Rickie vowed, pointedly sitting down on a nearby boulder with his laptop on his lap and powering it up.
Ella and Jane rolled their eyes, sharing a look.
Boys and their toys...
Jackie sat down next to me in the dirt cross-legged as we waited for her twin to load up his GPS.
"Does anyone know what happened to the last plane after we went down?" I asked, noticing how desertly quiet everything was - no pun intended.
"Flew off I guess." Jackie shrugged, glancing skyward in case the plane was up there spying on us.
"Well, as soon as Rickie finds our location, we need to move as far away from here as we can before it comes back with reinforcements." Blake said, looking uneasy with that prospect.
"So hurry up, Rick! We gotta get moving." Jane hollered in her naggin-sister kind of way, knowing it bothered him to no end.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm hurrying, I'm hurrying!" Rick shot back, clacking away at the keyboard. After a few moments Rickie smiled, looking satisfied. "There we go! We're about four miles from the Cobalt Mine."
Jax peered over his friend's shoulder at the screen. "What's that other marker there?" he asked curiously, brows furrowed in concentration.
Rickie squinted, examining whatever it was on the computer screen. The suspense was killing me.
"What is it?" Ella asked impatiently.
"It's a helicopter pad." Rickie confirmed.
"Perfect. Let's head there first." Jax said, looking anxious to get going.
"Why? What's your plan?" Blake asked, peaking all of our curiousity.
"Well, our plane's obviously decomissioned, so we can't use that," he gestured to the smoldering wreckage behind him. "And we need a way to get in and out of the mine then back to the HQ, so why not hijack a helicopter? Makes perfect sense to me."
"Oooo... I'm liking this hijacking idea more and more!" Rickie said, grinning. I think he just enjoyed stealing things.
"Alright, fair enough. So, say we run into some trouble down in the mines --" I began, trying to formulate a plan.
"Rickie" Jane interjected with a smirk.
"--and we need a fast gettaway..." I looked at Jax.
"Blake and I will get you and the rest of you out of there in one piece. We've got this." he finished, slinging an arm on Blake's shoulder, giving me his trademark Sly Smirk.
"Let's hope..." Jane added nervously.
"We'll get you guys out of there; no one gets left behind." Blake promised, stating with firm conviction.
Our eyes met right then. I smiled gratefully at him. He was beginning to fit in with us now, as if he truly belonged.
"Maybe.." Jane eyed Rickie devilishly.
Rickie tisked her mockingly. "Ah, Janie. You can't get rid of me THAT easily!" he laughed humorously.
"Oh, just watch me Rickster." she grinned, wiggling her eyebrows at him.
I held back my eyeroll, heaving myself onto my feet. Jackie followed my lead. "Alright guys, let's get a move-on. Rickie, you lead the way."
He lept to his feet. "'You got it dude! '" Rickie quoted, going all Full House on me; winking and giving me a little thumbs up. We followed him westward, on towards the mountains in the distance.
After many miles, with Jane complaining our ears off the whole time about her sore feet, we finally came upon the helicopter pad with warehouse buildings and hangars clustered around it. It was still quite a long ways off, so I had to squint to be able to see it clearly. "How does a helicopter pad get all the way out here?" I wondered.
"Must be the NGO army's secret base. All the more reason for us to steal one; now I don't have to feel so bad." said Rickie.
Jax rubbed his hands together greedily, a crazy glint in his manic eyes. "I swear it's a sign! And just what we needed."
I looked at him, seriously questioning his motives. "Are you sure about this?"
"We need a fast gettaway, right? Well, why not use everything that's at our disposal?" He gestured to the helicopter base ahead of us, smiling in his own pleading way - no, Jax NEVER begged nor pleaded.
I shook my head. "Why do I get the feeling this is just an excuse to hijack and steal something?"
"Maybe that's part of it..." Rickie shrugged, unable to contain his happiness.
I sighed rather loudly. "Fine! I trust you two won't screw this up if I let you go alone?" Even as I said it, I never believed it for a second.
"They will. Majorly." Jane interjected.
The boys waved her comment away. "Nah, we'll be good." said Rickie, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. I still doubted it.
"I know how to fly the helicopter, I can tag along if it will make you feel any better." Blake volunteered.
"So who's gonna stay and watch over the girls?" Jax looked at us, that stupid smirk on his smug face. I wanted to slap it off there so bad..
But I refrained, crossing my arms and giving him a Look. "Hey now... I am the leader, for Pete's sake, I think I can take care of the girls just fine." I told him, taking that as an insult. Darn boys!
Jax put up his hands in defense. "Whoa! Hey, easy there, tiger. I wasn't doubting your nanny-ing abilities."
I groaned, unfolding my arms and continued despite the comment. "Just leave already! We'll meet you south of the base. Be quick and sneaky about it; the faster you pick us up and fly us into the mountains, the less chance we'll have of getting caught. You'd better start moving..." I warned.
Rickie slung his computer bag over his shoulder, face alight with anticipation. "Okay, I'm ready. Let's go men!"
Jax slung his own bag over his shoulder, too, this one filled with demolitions galore. Him and Blake followed Rickie, and with that, the three boys trudged their way towards the helipad.
A little while after the boys left, us girls started making our way towards the mountains and the meeting point.
"Ahh..." Jane sighed, visibly relaxing as she walked. "No boys. Doesn't it feel great? Oh - listen! " She stopped abruptly, cupping a hand to the back of her ear. "Do you hear that?" She stage-whispered.
"Hear what? " Ella wondered, looking totally confused. She and Jackie strained to hear any sound crazy and overzealous Jane was indicating; there was nothing but wind. I, for one, knew what Jane was implying, and rolled my eyes.
"I don't hear nothing..." Ella claimed after a few second of listening.
Jane grinned in ultimate satisfaction. "Exactly; nothing! There's no sound at all... no boys! "
Fully realizing what she meant, Jackie and Ella joined in the laughter.
"That's so true. No Rickie here to insult us... it feels so nice for a change!" Ella exclaimed, a huge smile plastered on her face.
On that lovely note, we continued walking towards the pick-up point. It was very close towards the base of the mountains, with plenty of bushes we could hide under until the boys came with the chopper. And so, hidden behind the thick brush, we began waiting ever-so-impatiently for the boys to pick us up.
Rickie, Jax, and Blake hid behind a large pile of cargo boxes once they'd successfully reached the compound. Their journey had luckily been guard-less and worry-free, reaching the base with no problems. So far, there wasn't a single sign of any guards anywhere, but one could never be too cautious.
"Okay, what's next?" Rickie asked as the boys peeked over and around the crates to get a better view of their surroundings. Jax spotted a security camera nearby, confirming his suspicions; despite the lack of guards outside, there were still ample security around the base.
Jax ducked back down behind the crates, and, laying his backpack on the ground, he unzipped the main compartment quietly and brought out a few smoke bombs from within - having them onhand was a good idea, in case they needed a quick gettaway. "At our 3 o'clock, there's a security camera on the awning of that cargo bay warehouse. My guess is that there are more on every building somewhere. Somehow, we need to shut them down without raising the alarm..."
"I'm on it," Rickie answered immediately, knowing what he had to do. He set down his own bag and brought out his laptop. "I'll hack into their mainframe and set their cameras on a loop so we can sneak in unnoticed."
Jax nodded in approval. "Good. How long do we have?"
A few clicks on the keyboard. "We've got thirty minutes to steal a chopper," he replied with a smile.
"Great," Jax re-slung his bag back over his shoulder. "Let's move, quickly and quietly."
Like stealthy ninja assassins, the three boys crept out of their hiding place, sticking to the shadows as they quickly and quietly made their way towards the closest hanger. Once they reached a side door and tried the handle, they found that it was locked.
"Don't worry, I got this." Jax whispered, kneeling down to get to work on the lock using a lockpick, while the other two kept a silent lookout for any guards.
After a few seconds, they were in. Walking through the door, it was dark inside but they decided to deal with it and not turn on any lights so they wouldn't alert anyone to their presence.
"Let's split up," Blake whispered through the darkness. "Make sure it's all clear. They've been doing rounds periodically in every hangar every ten minutes or so."
The boys did as asked without question. Jax continued straight, while Rickie went left and Blake went right around the crates of equipment boxes.
Rounding the corners, they came upon a lone helicopter sitting in the middle of the cavernous room. Once the boys made sure the coast was clear, they made a quick beeline to the chopper. From what little light they could see from, the helicopter was all black and equipped with its very own gunning system - perfect for fighting back it they were to be attacked again.
"Alright, I totally vote Blake to fly this one, 'cause I sure as hell ain't gonna let you fly anything ever again." Rickie claimed.
Jax just shrugged, seemingly unaffected by Rickie's lack of faith in him. "Hey, it wasn't my fault we were getting shot at... if anything, blame the NGO for that one."
"Yeah, I'll fly it. I haven't flown one in ages, so I might be a little rusty - just a warning." Blake said, examining every inch of the big hulking machine as he tried to get reacquainted with the thing.
"That's perfectly fine. As long as you don't try to kill us, we should be just peachy. I've had enough near-death experiences for today." Said Rickie, leaning on the side of the chopper as Jax loaded their equipment inside.
When they heard the abrupt noise of a door opening from the other side of the hangar, they froze, waiting with baited breath as they listened intently through the silence that followed. Someone had just entered the hangar.
"Quick! Behind those crates." Blake ordered in a hoarse whisper, waving them on as he started moving towards the stacked crates.
Jax and Rickie quickly followed him. Rickie had just dived for cover as the footsteps got closer, and a figure walked out into the open.
Blake slowly peered around a crate in order to see. Even though he couldn't see much, mostly because of the lack of light, Blake was able to make out a few details.
It was a guard, dressed in a commando jacket and pants, with a black bulletproof vest, carrying a gun in one hand and a walkie-talkie in the other. After glancing around the expanse of the dark hangar, the guard brought the radio to his mouth and spoke into it. "All-Clear in Hangar B. Continuing my rounds."
Once he'd clipped it back onto him belt, the guard turned back around and started walking back the way he'd come, when Rickie started having some weird spasm. His face looked contorted, as if he were constipated. When Jax and Blake saw this, the two boys exchanged a terrified look. Jax attempted to try and stop him - but it was too late.
The sneeze echoed loudly across the whole hangar, causing the guard to stop in his tracks. He swung around on one booted foot, his gun at the ready. "Who's there?" It came out harsh, the taut voice booming across the room, real loud.
Jax cursed under his breath, punching Rickie quite hard in the arm and gave him a petrifying glare.
"I'm sorry! I couldn't stop it, it just pounced on me with no warning. I'm serious!" Rickie insisted, apologizing in a hoarse whisper.
Blake motioned for them to keep quiet as he kept an eye on the guard. He had a flashlight and was flinging the beam of light to and fro, searching the surrounding areas for the source of the sneeze he'd heard.
"Show yourself! I know you're out there, so there's no use in hiding." called the guard, sounding quite tough and commanding, and he started stalking towards their direction.
Blake ducked from behind the crates, knowing they had to make a move - and fast. He looked Jax and Rickie in the face, his expression grim and determined. "He's coming towards us, so we have to take him out."
Jax nodded in agreement, realizing what had to be done.
However, Rickie didn't seem so sure. "But doing that might raise the alarm and even more guards might come to the rescue!" He stated.
"No dip, Sherlock Holmes! You've got a better idea?" Jax retorted.
Rickie didn't. "Okay fine, I got it! So how are we going to do this?"
Blake began quickly explaining the plan to them as quickly as possible. He looked at Jax. "Jax will knock him out, I'm sure he won't complain about that. When he does, I will run to the chopper and start it up." His determined dark blue eyes turned to land on Rickie. "You will open the doors so we can fly out. We won't go straight to our meeting point, in case they try to follow us. Then we'll meet the girls." He peeked out behind the crates again to see that the guard was only a few feet away now. "On my mark..."
When the guard stood right on the other side of their hiding place, Jax sprang into action on Blake's signal. Blake had to watch and admire Jax's speed and agility for a few seconds as he attacked the unsuspecting guard, resembling the swiftness of a panther as he knocked the gun out of the guard's hands to disarm him so he couldn't use it. When Jax went for his legs to knock them out from under him, Blake and Rickie raced to their positions; Blake to the chopper and Rickie to the back hangar doors.
Blake launched himself into the chopper, going straight to his position in the cockpit, flicking on the controls to start up the blades. The machine started up with a gradually growing roar as the hangar doors opened before him. A few moments afterwards, Rickie made it into the chopper, soon followed by Jax, who slammed the doors shut as soon as he was through. Blake continued to move the chopper up and forward, out the doors.
The alarms rang murderously throughout the compound once the guards there new something was amiss. The chopper took to the skies, narrowly missing flying bullets from the turrets trained on them. Soon, though, Blake flew the helicopter far out so that they were out of firing range. They were safe... for now.
"Woooo! That was totally WICKED!" Rickie hooted like a kid. He and Jax slapped high-fives in the back.
Blake couldn't help but roll his eyes; he was starting to understand exactly how Roxy felt when she had to control them. "We're not out of the woods yet. Someone check to see if we have any followers."
After a full lookout, Jax confirmed no one was following.
"All-Clear," Rickie announced triumphantly. "Now let's go pick up the ann - I mean, the wonderful girls..."
"So... Now that we finally have some time alone for once, let's talk about Blake!" Jackie began, breaking the silence as we sat hidden behind the thick bushes. Turning to me, my so-called 'Best Friend' gave me those eager eyes of hers that clearly was saying, "Let's talk about boys!"
I glared at her. "Jackie, there's nothing to talk about. I DON'T like him!" I insisted, frustrated that she had to bring this up, now of all times to bring it up.
Ella and Jane became eagerly entranced at the prospect of gossip and secrets. "OOOO! Are you sure?!" Jane crooned, waggling her eyebrows at me. Oh GOD...
"Yes, of course I'm sure! Now will you guys DROP IT?" I told them, then rounded on Jackie. "And you're the one to talk; YOU have this crazy obsession with Jax!"
That made Jackie stop in her tracks, blushing furiously. "I do NOT!"
Jane playfully nudged Jackie. "Oh, Jackie, don't deny it. You know it's true! You practically drool everytime he's around!"
No matter how much she downplayed it, the look on Jackie's face clearly said it all.
"Hey, I don't blame you for crushing on him. Jax is pretty hot, I have to admit; he's good with technology and being badass. He's a real-life McGyver!"
Anxious to change the subject, Jackie tried to turn the subject back around to me. "I think Blakie's pretty badass, too. AND he seems to like you..." she winked at me, and I glared at her.
"Oh, I highly doubt it." I said, absently twirling a piece of twig from a nearby bush. My friends all sat nearby on the dirt with me, all of us hidden behind a thick wall of brush which was at my back.
"The way he looks at you... I think that's a sign." Jackie hinted, grinning from ear to ear. I was so tempted to slap that goofy little grin right off that pretty little face of hers, but instead I glared at her harder. They would never let this down - especially Jackie - which made it much more infuriating. Well, jokes on her though; I'd never let her crush on Jackie down either.
Jane and Ella continued to sit there, giggling like little school girls. "He can kick butt as well! I mean, you two are PERFECT!" Jane pointed out.
I turned to glare at HER this time. I was so tired of this. And this is why I like my personal space!
"Yeah, yeah. In your dreams." I retorted, turning pointedly around to peek out over the bushes. What the heck was taking the boys so long? They'd better hurry, was all I could say; I didn't want to be trapped here with these pestering dodo-heads any longer. All this giggling-school-girl crap was going to drive me absolutely insane.
May the Creator have mercy on my soul...