The three scurried over the barbed-wire topped fence. It was night but the airfield was fully lit. They hurried to the nearest shadow and waited. The security patrol would be by in a second.
Ever since humans had begun the space program, their people had been watching. Squads had been deployed to the homes of the engineers and scientists, to watch and to beam ideas into their bedrooms as they slept. It had taken decades. Now, Jissi, Sieom, and Chinttz were the ones chosen for the final mission. Sieom took a moment to groom her tail.
“There’s no time for that,” Jissi hissed at her. “We need to move!”
“Shh,” Chinttz hushed them. “Here comes the patrol.”
The female and both males made themselves as small as they could in their hiding place 3 meters inside the fence. The patrol pointed their search lights at the fence, both top and bottom. Seeing nothing, their patrol car rolled on.
Dust from the car’s jets made Jissi sneeze. Chinttz glared at him. The three of them froze but the patrol didn’t hear it over the sound of the car. The trio was safe.
“Come on,” Chinttz said.
They ran from shadow to shadow across the two mile expanse of runways and landing pads to their destination. It was the newest spaceship the American Federation had made. Built for intergalactic flight, it was due to be loaded with the crew in the morning. The three had only a few hours to get to the ship and get on board. Several times the trio needed to hide in the shadows of tractors, gantries, or fuel trucks. Each time they thought their hearts would burst from their chests with fear and to be truthful, excitement.
Stranded on Earth, as the humans called it, since the dawn of man, they’d had to wait. Wait for the humans to catch up, scientifically. Humans still didn’t know that their kind was intelligent. Oh sure, humans made mazes, set up elaborate feeders. Their kind didn’t mind. They were waiting and all the time, beaming ideas into the human’s minds. Finally they succeeded. The ship was built. They had a chance to take the ship and go back to their world for help.
Jissi spotted the space craft first. “There it is,” he said from under the gantry at the last landing pad. Security was tighter around the ship than the base itself.
“It’s going to be tough getting out there,” Chinttz said.
“The ramp is down,” Sieom pointed out. “There’s a chance if we can get across the pad without being seen. They’re all focused on the perimeter. We just need to get inside it.”
They watched the activity around the ship as it was prepared for the morning launch. “There,” Jissi said. “The fuel truck is headed for the ship. We can run under it and right up to the ship.”
“Get run over by it, more likely,” Chinttz muttered. “We can’t run as fast as a truck.”
“We don’t have to,” Sieom said. “It’s moving slowly.”
They waited until the truck passed and they darted out and under the truck. Despite Sieom’s prediction, the truck was moving at a speed they found hard to maintain. Gasping for breath, they forced their legs to keep pumping. Just a little more. Just as they each thought their lungs would burst, the truck slowed to a stop.
Boots appeared on each side. They could hear the guards checking the identification of the driver and his partner as they struggled to breathe, grateful for the rest. It didn’t last long. The truck moved forward and in a short distance, came to a stop next to the ship.
The driver and his partner jumped down and ran hoses from the truck to the ship. They could hear the fuel being pumped. They peeked out from under the truck as both the driver and his partner stood aside and let the machinery work.
“Here’s our chance,” Jissi whispered.
They crawled to the other end of the truck and just out of sight of the fuel men, crept to the ship. The fuel port was on the opposite side of the ship from the ramp. There was no cover. Keeping low, they crept around the base of the ship, freezing at the smallest movement or noise. It seemed to take forever to reach the ramp. The door was open!
They raced up the ramp and inside the door of the ship. Standing one on top of the other, they keyed the door closed. The humans had used the touch pad ideas the squirrels had been beaming to them for decades.
They raced to the bridge. Leaping from floor to human seats to consoles, the trio searched the ship for human life. None! That had been a big worry, now avoided. Jissi called up the ship’s system monitors and saw when the fuel truck finished its work. He locked down the fuel hatch and the access way door.
Chinttz at the pilot’s console began the engines. Jissi pulled in the ramp. Sieom called from the communications console. “They’ve noticed. Security patrols are on the way.”
Chinttz grinned. “Too late,” he said as he danced over the touch screen, “engine is at full power. We’re lifting off!”
The three of them leapt into the human chairs and lay down, ready for the initial force of gravity as the ship left the planet’s surface. Once free from the gravitational pull, they leapt to the consoles again.
Sieom called out, “They’ve got ships in pursuit.”
“Let them,” Chinttz replied. “This is the fastest ship they’ve ever built. They won’t catch us now.” He laid in the course for their home planet.
Jissi laughed. “And they think we’re just squirrels.”
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