Kevin rattled the van up through the path to where the party had been. He rolled out onto the clearing, which now stretched for over a hundred meters. Two men stood at the other end.
Kevin drove the van over to them.
Paul was the first to spot the van.
‘Is that you Kevin?’
‘It is, why’d ye go and make the runway up here?’
Paul turned to his companion.
‘Look at that Tony, Kevin just came back …the lad’s like a blister, he shows up as soon as all the work is done’.
‘Good man Kevin, the auld dog for the hard road and the young pup for the bohreen, have ya got a cigarette?’
Kevin stepped out of the van and handed over a pouch of tobacco.
‘Have you got papers?’ added Tony.
Kevin looked up and down the enlarged clearing.
‘They’re in the pouch …so the ship runs along here and takes off next to the trail’
‘No, the other way round Kevin’
Paul pointed to the van
‘is this what you’re goin using?’
‘That’s the plan’
‘and what’s gonna be your power source?’
‘Uh, a Superluminal Hyperdrive’.
‘Good choice Kevin, what sort of a chip are you using’
‘Erm, a sixteen bit …it’s in the van’.
Paul peered in the window.
‘I see it, not bad, you’ve left it in the housing too, good thinking …I learned to do that the hard way, those things scramble in a heartbeat once they’re exposed to solar radiation …Tony, will ya pass the tobacco when you’re finished?’.
Tony stuck a rolled up cigarette into his mouth and handed the pouch over to Paul. He began walking slowly around the van.
‘Superluminal Hyperdrive, never built one, should be pretty easy to put together though …what’s your plan to compensate for cosmic anistropy?’.
Kevin took a step back
‘Uh, I didn’t think of that’
‘Well, you should -if you don’t then the atoms that make up you, the van, and everyone else in it will be obliterated once you start the engine, have you got a light?’
Kevin handed Tony a lighter.
Tony cleared his throat and stared Kevin in the eyes. He spoke slowly
‘Look Kevin, there’s a normal way of doing things, and then there’s the way you need to do things’.
He lit the cigarette and handed the lighter back.
‘Now, the normal thing is that nobody tells you anything about superluminal travel; so if you need help you have to ask for it’
He took a quick drag from the cigarette before continuing.
‘…nobody ever does, which suits me fine, but in this case I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you haven’t got a fucking clue what you’re doing, if you get my meaning’.
He looked at Paul, who was quietly listening.
‘Believe it or not the normal thing is not for the two of us to spend the night busting a gut on top of a hill making a runway for strangers …but, things being what they are, what with it being armageddon …and you and your friends showing a willingness to save humanity, well, the decent thing to do is to help’.
He took a long drag on the cigarette.
‘So, what I’m saying is, if you go back down and gather your crew, we’ll have the spaceship ready’.
He looked over at Paul again, who nodded in agreement.
‘This is not the normal way these things work, you need to understand that …but the future of humanity is on the line, plus you’ve been very generous with your tobacco’.
Kevin said nothing, but turned and began the walk back down to the fire.
Behind him work had already started on the world’s first Superluminal Hyperdrive.