Boz and Phoebles, Ginsbergbear and Flo more or less carried Augusta through the catering department and galleys enroute to the medical facilities, all glistening stainless steel ranges and work surfaces, rows of apprehensive, scrubbed clean pans and utensils waiting nervously for a crew to feed. Phoebles had a quick scout round and expressed his disappointment on discovering the pantries to be devoid of anything edible.
“I hope we’re not stuck here too long.”
There were however bandages and Germolene ointment in the surgery. The hospital block smelled strongly of disinfectant, equipment and bedding still wrapped in plastic, water dispenser blopping intermittent punctuations into the pervasive languor of the deserted chambers.
“The navy wasn’t anticipating another Trafalgar any time soon,” observed Flo, “One operating theatre and twelve beds.”
“She was built just before the revolution,” said Boz. “I don’t think the old government was planning on having that sort of war. More the sort of sitting safely out at sea and bombing native villages sort of wars.”
Flo finished strapping up Augusta’s ankle, “I’m afraid you won’t be able to put your boot back on till the swelling’s gone down.”
“These should get you mobile,” said Ginsbergbear as he emerged from an adjoining locker room carrying a pair of crutches.
“Arh,” exclaimed Augusta as she tried to stand, “Yes, I am going to need those for a while. Thanks everyone.” She gritted her teeth and took a practice swing around the room. “Hey, these crutches are great.”
While the others watched and her confidence grew the infirmary lights flickered, yet stayed on, and the great ship fell silent.
“What’s Zelda done now?”
They met up with her on the hangar deck.
“Quick, we’ve got about quarter of an hour to get off.”
“No time. Follow me.”
“Zelda, hold up. You can talk while we run, but you are going to explain.”
“Oh, OK. The ship’s hove to and we’ve got about fifteen minutes to launch a boat and get clear. Then she’ll be off.
“Over there.” Zelda indicated a watertight door some way ahead; “There should be two launches on davits.
“I’ve reprogrammed the carrier to return to the States, at full speed. She’ll lay off the US East Coast and launch drone strikes against every military target within range.”
Clunk pad, clunk pad, clunk pad, clunk pad… Augusta flashed past her companions to fling open the door to the boat deck.
“Zelda, you haven’t?” said Boz. “You can’t. We don’t…”
“It’s OK. It’ll never happen. The Überkatzen’s going to broadcast her intentions before she gets there, continuously, on every commercial radio and TV frequency in the US. The Yanks’ll have to destroy her, very publicly, live on television. Probably be watched all round the world.”
“Which one do we take?” Augusta eyed the two launches. One had Swordfish painted on its transom the other was Buccaneer.
“Better take the piratey one,” said Phoebles. “Shame we didn’t think to bring a jolly roger.”