NOTE: This story is derived from the official Blast Corps instruction booklet.
“What the hell is that?”
Vasquez took his eyes off the road for a moment to see what his colleague was referring to. He instantly wished he hadn’t. Something was beginning to drip from the roof of the cab – something that hissed, spat and gave off a throat-constrictingly acrid stench.
“Jesus!” he exclaimed, his heart skipping a beat.
“Oh, man.” Merrick cringed back, pulling up his jacket to protect his face as the first droplets of the stuff spattered the dashboard, giving rise to curls of oily steam. “Oh, man, this is bad.”
“You’re telling me! I thought they said the damn things would be safe until we got there!”
“Yeah, well, we should have known better.”
“What the hell are we supposed to do now?”
The two of them watched numbly as the drips became a steady trickle, clouding the windscreen with grey stains and merging with the plastic that dripped from the melting dials to burn holes in the floor at their feet.
“We’re getting out of here before God knows what happens to us,” Merrick decided abruptly, unsheathing the radio from an intact corner of the dashboard. “Pull over, but be damn careful about it. I’ll let the base know what’s happening.”
“Right.” Vasquez began to cough as the choking fumes billowed out to fill the cab, and shifted his hands to avoid contact with the viscous fluid that dripped from the deadly cargo overhead. He pulled off to the right: the wheel turned, but the truck didn’t. The driver frowned and tried again, but once more the vehicle stuck resolutely to its chosen route.
Vasquez’ eyes fixed on the increasingly shapeless mass of plastic behind and around the wheel. Obviously it wasn’t just the hi-tech outer casing that was being damaged.
“Oh my God,” he said flatly.
Merrick, who had been jabbering into his radio between fits of coughing, stopped in mid-sentence and stared at him. “What?” he demanded.
“The – the steering,” mumbled Vasquez. “The drive mechanism’s gone…”
“What?” Merrick leaned through the palls of steam and wrenched at the wheel, his expression quickly changing from one of annoyance to genuine fear when he realised that this wasn’t just a badly-timed practical joke.
The two of them stared out at the road ahead through the fogged, liquid-streaked windscreen even as an LCD panel at stomach level leapt into life with a sharp bleep and announced the activation of the emergency autopilot. His attention jerked back to the moment, Merrick responded to the urgent voices coming from the radio in his hand.
“We’ve got a big problem,” he told them, clawing the sweat from his eyes and reaching for the door handle. “You’d better find some help, and you’d better find it fast.”
Wesley wheeled himself into the room to find Amber talking to several people at once, her fingers gliding across the keyboard even as she spoke rapidly into the microphone attached to her headset. He waited tensely for a spare moment.
“What’s going on?” he demanded.
“Everyone’s runnin’ around like their butt’s on fire.”
Amber blinked. “Hasn’t anyone told you?”
“Told me what? All I heard is that we got another callout.”
Amber sighed. “Sorry, Wes. You’d have been the first person I told if I’d known you were in the dark. Okay, listen.” She leaned across the desk for emphasis, eyes intense. “Remember Rafters?”
Wesley frowned. “Sure.” It was the soulless army base that they’d walked out on.
“Well, get this. Two defective missiles – nuclear missiles – were being carried from the labs there to the only detonation site big enough to get rid of them, a fair distance overland. We don’t know exactly what happened, but the crew have abandoned the carrier, the cargo’s unstable and the whole thing’s stuck on a direct course.”
“And this isn’t good news?”
“You name it, it’s going through it,” muttered Clark as he rushed in from the room behind and handed Amber a printout.
The woman glanced at it briefly and nodded. “Okay, we know where it is. The emergency services are already on their way – the rest is up to us. Where’s Spike?”
“I’ll get him.” The chief designer scurried up to one of the wall terminals.
“Can I see that?” Wesley reached out to accept the printout from Amber. It only took him a few seconds to realise the magnitude of the situation: between the crosses marked on the laser-printed map that represented the carrier and its destination lay a long stretch of land. Fertile land. Occupied land.
“Whoa,” he said quietly.
The engines of monster machines roared and revved around the head mechanic as he picked up the vidphone link.
“Amber, will you please tell me what the hell this has got to do with us?”
The dark face on the screen was uncharacteristically sombre. “Think about it,” she said. “The emergency services can evacuate the people and drop RDUs, but they can’t get close enough to try stopping the carrier – nobody can. Not with that amount of radiation. Unless it runs out of fuel first, it’s going all the way to its detonation ground.”
“So what’s the problem?”
“Spike, it only has to hit a bump in the road to go off, and there are whole cities in its path.”
Realization dawned. “What, you’re saying we’ve got to -”
Amber nodded, a wry smile touching her lips at last. “Thanks to you and Clark, we’re the only ones with the technology to stand a chance.” The mechanic tried to absorb the immensity of this challenge.
“Who’s driving?” he asked eventually.
“The best, don’t worry,” Amber replied. “In the meantime, you’d better get working like you’ve never worked before. Don’t worry about funds, we’ll just have to use everything we’ve got. Something tells me we’re going to need those prototypes.”
“I’ll get to it,” Spike promised.
Amber gave him an encouraging half-smile.
“This is either going to make or break us,” she said, and signed off.