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Book: Hippies
Chapter 2: Pain-Killers

Ross gazed at the woman standing at the back of the sumptuous ultra-high technology bridge of HMS Death Reaper. “Look at the fuckin’ melons on her!”
The woman - the ship’s security officer - smiled back at him. “Sir, please strap yourself into your seat.”

“Yeah, Ross.” Pan said, doing up his straps. “We have more important things to think about than large breasts.”

Ross frowned. He obviously did not agree with Pan’s last statement.

Peter was also busy strapping himself in. “Come on, Ross!”

Ross took one more look at the large-breasted security officer and then nodded. “Okay, I guess you’re right.” He took his seat.

After they had finished strapping themselves in, Ross, Peter and Pan looked at their surroundings. Around them, super-high resolution screens displayed information on the ship’s status. Even the day’s canteen and restaurant menu was displayed in a large and futuristic font on one of the side panels. Pan drooled as he gazed at the delicious images of each course.

Justin was at the back of the moodily lit bridge. He finished strapping Lawrence into his seat. Lawrence was still in a deep sleep. Although Lawrence spent most of his days sleeping, this was an unusually deep sleep, even for him.

Justin made his way to the centre of the bridge and took his seat. “Mission control, this is HMS Death Reaper. Permission to launch requested.”

A voice at mission control responded in crisp digital clarity. “Permission granted. Launch now!”

Justin barked an order at the pilot. “Go!”

The pilot at the front of the bridge nodded. “Aye, sir! Going now!”

With impressive force, the giant submarine lurched forwards.

Peter was excited at the forces playing with his body. “Hey, this is cool! This is a hundred times better than the free fall on Oblivion!” Despite his age, Peter had always enjoyed insanely fast rollercoaster rides far more than the others.

Pan was too busy stuffing his face with the output from yet another doughnut machine to notice. In fact, the force of the acceleration was helping him cram even more food into his mouth than normal. “Hmm… High-gee snacks!” Pan was one of the worlds most prolific snack eaters.

Ross threw his empty whiskey flask across the bridge and laughed as it bounced off the shaved cranium of the pilot. From his pocket he pulled out a can of beer and cracked it open with a hiss. He took a long swig and then turned to Pan. “Can that thing make beer doughnuts?”

Pan checked. “I think so. It’ll take a couple of minutes.”

“Fuckin’ excellent! But don’t let it cook too long, all the alcohol will evaporate!”

Lawrence let out a loud guttural snore, and then returned to his silent slumber.

As the vast submarine accelerated away from the base, Justin thought of how hard he’d trained to be here today - years of gruelling drills, treacherous walks on frigid moors, walking in the Sahara in gear meant for arctic conditions, and walking in the arctic in only a pair of boxer shorts. There was very little that Justin had not endured in preparation for this, his ultimate ambition, his destiny. Being captain of the fastest, largest, meanest submarine the world had ever seen was an intoxicating experience.

He looked around at his friends who had spent their post-university years working for huge faceless corporations as accountants, automotive engineers, software developers, and mattress durability consultants. Their training of pizza munching, beer swigging and games console playing brought them here today. Ironically, these guys were the best.

Who would have thought that Ross’s near collision with a police car at 70 miles per hour down a road with a 30 miles-per-hour speed limit back in the early 1990s had been recorded? The skill required to avoid a collision was second to none. The quick thinking that followed was proof that even under the influence of copious amounts of drink and illegal substances Ross could think under pressure and make the right decisions in an instant. Justin was rightly proud to be associated with such great men.

The pilot at the front of the bridge made a report. “Speed is now 160 knots.”

Justin nodded. “Excellent. Initiate escape sequence.”

“Aye, sir. Initiating escape sequence.”

An automated and sexy computer announcement sounded. “ESCAPE SEQUENCE INITIATION IN FIVE SECONDS. ALL HANDS BRACE.”

Pan was curious. “What’s the escape sequence?”

Justin was tightening his restraints. “Just do what the computer says. Brace!”

Before Pan had time to demand an answer an incredible force pushed him and the others back into their seats. It was an agonising sensation, like having a slab of clay pressed hard into their faces.

Peter tried to speak, but no air could escape his mouth. He cringed as the awesome acceleration forces pushed harder and harder.

Only a second later, all consciousness was lost…

Ross was the first to regain consciousness. He reached up and rubbed his forehead. “Oh man, what did I drink last night?” There was no answer. Ross's brain had, over the years of alcohol and drug abuse, built up an amazing resistance to just about anything. Being subjected to inhuman levels of acceleration just felt to him like he had had one to many tequila slammers the night before. “Where the fuck am I?” He looked around. “Or should I say, are we?” In a sudden blast of sobriety it all came flooding back. Ross undid all his safety straps, and then wandered around checking on all his friends. All of them were alive, but all were still barely unconscious. Ross began a serious bout of shaking and slapping.

After a few minutes of violence and a burst or two of pure oxygen, everyone on the bridge had all awoken and was quickly taking doses of pain-killers to numb the throbbing in their heads.

Pan recovered quickly, the dense amounts of sugar in his bloodstream giving him a great advantage over the others. He looked to the back of the bridge. “Hey Lawrence, how are you doing, man?” There was no answer other than a deep rumbling snore. Pan turned his attention to the others. “Anyone for a breakfast doughnut?”

Ross answered. “Yes! But only if it’s that beer doughnut you were making me.”

Pan grinned. “One perfectly cooked beer doughnut coming up!”

Justin's years of training enabled him to ignore the delicious scent of fresh doughnuts as he set about his job checking the giant vessel’s systems. “Well, there doesn't appear to be too much damage after the escape sequence. I think we should be fine.”

Peter felt the need to do something useful, so he began tapping away at a keyboard on the console in front of his seat. The keys almost seemed to move towards his fingers as he though of pressing them. “Wow! A keyboard with telepathic abilities!”

“Indeed.” Justin said, continuing to look at his screens. “They found it more reliable than voice recognition in a stressful situation, which some might consider we are in now, but obviously not you lot.” He motioned towards Pan and Ross, who were still munching on doughnuts, and Lawrence who was still fast asleep.

Peter had a great idea. “Anyone for a game of worms?”

Pan nodded. Ross gave the thumbs up. Lawrence didn't move a muscle.

Justin was initially annoyed at the idea, but he quickly realised that they were simply rehearsing for the tasks that awaited them. A game of worms was simply a tactical exercise, and a perfect one at that.

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