“I hope we come out of this damn gully soon” said Jonas. “It’s getting narrower and I have absolutely no doubt there are vehicles behind us.”
“They have the hopper” said Paul. “That would make a good spotter.”
The gully was not much wider than a couple of WTVs now; fortunately there was evidence of old vehicle tracks, so presumably it didn’t end in a cul de sac. A jolt woke Doc. Orlov up as she dozed, and she got up to make some coffee.
Suddenly she turned her attention to the scanning console: near the end of his driving shift Jonas was almost too far gone to notice.
“Bad news” she said. “Two blips at extreme range behind us – maybe twenty klicks.”
“Crap” mumbled Jonas. “Gimme some of that coffee Doc.” He started to suck the hot liquid up through the beaker spout. He needed to concentrate on his driving: the walls were very close now.
A glare lit up ahead, only a few tens of metres distant. Momentarily he was blinded before the polarisation kicked in.
“Shit!” he yelled, slamming on the brakes.
“A vehicle showing dead ahead!” yelled Doc .Orlov. “It must have powered down!”
“Clever bastards!” muttered Paul.
“We can’t go back” said Jonas, “And that vehicle is blocking ahead.”. Katrina pointed at helmeted figures staring to appear over the lip of the gully, thirty feet above them.
“I think this is going to get rough.” said Jonas.
Paul started to suit up quickly to exit the vehicle. Doc. Orlov reminded him that he needed to put his helmet on.
“We should de-pressurise the vehicle” she added.
“Get out here, ladies. Time for another firefight!” Paul growled, staring at Spyder who had started to mumble something about minding the non functioning comms.
Marcus shrugged into his Combat Vacc and checked his pistol one more time. Before he put on his helmet he unwrapped a small blue green lozenge from it’s pink foil wrapper, put it in his mouth, and began chewing furiously.
“What’s that?” asked Spyder, “Some sort of combat drug? A pain killer? C’mon sawbones, share ’em if you got ’em…”
“Nothing so utilitarian, I’m afraid.” Marcus replied with a smile, “I found it at a shop in Tranquility. It’s an Earth delicacy called ‘gum’. It helps my ears equalise when I cross an air pressure gradient. Plus, this is a special type of gum.”
As Spyder looked on, the pilot blew a large blue green bubble out of his mouth, held the pressure in it for a moment, then used his front teeth to noisily pop the gum balloon, after which he sucked it back into his mouth.
“OhdeargodcanIhavesome?” Spyder laughed.
“Sure, just promise me one thing…” says Marcus, as he handed over a piece.
“Don’t blow bubbles with your helmet on…”
Spyder nodded absently as he examined the gum, the wheels in his head spinning as he wondered if Venusians had ever blown a bubblegum bubble before…..
“Airlock can only take two at a time” said Jonas. “De-pressurising now.”
“Ok.” he said. “Someone could pop out of the roof hatch now as well.”