So I'd dearly love to roll the windows down right about now but the place I'm stuck in doesn't HAVE windows, so I'm kind of out of luck.

It doesn't have much sound either. A holding cell of black carpet and the only actual light is a yellow light panel on the wall OUTSIDE the cell, beyond the bars, but it's not actually shining INTO the cell, it's offset a bit so it's shining at a wall and there's a little, just a little yellow light that makes it my way, reflected off the black metal of the walls.

When I say black carpet I mean the kind of material you put up on a wall to soundproof it. Rough stuff for leaning against but it absorbs sound.

I kinda feel like I'm in outer space, only without the car.

Which is true. Where did they take the car? All I remember is being hauled out by arms connected to a distance to high to reach, and then some of the arms bore me away, and I didn't see where they took Ramon or Aristede or Klunk.

So I'm stuck without any ability to call anyone for help. So what can I do?

Stare at the figure sihouetted against the light. Maybe ask a question. "Hey," I say, "What gives? Do I have to pay a ransom or something?"

The figure doesn't say a word. Just moves away.

Well, then they can't see me getting out of here, can they? And the wall carpeting itself feels kind of loose. So I pick at it, and pinch it, and pull it, and it begins to peel off the wall. I tap at the exposed bit. It feels a little bit like...


I rip away more of the wall carpet, and more, until I've got a fair pile behind me and the exposed drywall is high and wide enough for my liking. I kick hard. My foot groes through. 

And gets stuck.


I have to grab a bit of the drywall and tear it away with my hands. Fairly quickly I make a hole large enough to fit through. Mostly. There's a bit of bashing involved with getting the rest of me through.

And then, there I am, standing covered in bits of drywall, in the midst of...a corridor of black material, lit by yellow wall panels here and there. It runs straight for some ways, but there are side corridors ever twenty feet, and in the distance the path itself turns right. I turn around. The hall looks the same. How on earth do the guards move through this thing? Do they have a map?

If I move, I'm lost, but if I don't move, I'm also lost. Ramon and the others arent going to be able to find me if I don't move. Maybe. Maybe they've escaped like I did and they're running around like me and we might bump into each other and we might not. There's no good options here. 

I call out down the hall, hoping for an answer.

There is none.

I run down the hall, take a left, and find myself in a hall that looks like the one I left. More adjoining halls, no rooms. I keep running, and take a right. Yet another hall that looks like the one I left. And so it goes for how long I don't know -- taking lefts and rights and going stright for a while sometimes until I hit a t-intersection and taking a left and a right and a left and I begin to realize that there are no rooms in this place because it's literally a maze.

What do you do when you're in a maze and you don't like it? You smash through the walls. 

I kick the wall. It gives a bit, and I hear a soft "crunch." Just like the walls of my cell. I peer at the wall, and put my hand to it. It is not cold like metal, but warm, like lacquered wood. They must have lacquered the drywall black. For what? I stamp hard on the wall and my foot goes through.

Two minutes later I'm on the other side of the wall. Unfortunately, this corridor looks just like the one I left. If I want to find the actual edge of this thing I have to keep working. I kick the wall facing me and put my foot through. And so it goes for I don't know how long, until I've made a long pathway of holes through the drywall. 

Still no sign of the edge.

What I do see, in front of me, is a person, lying in front of a hole in a wall. They are lying down on the floor. A person! There is someone besides me in this mess! I rush over to them and shake their shoulder. 

The person is oddly light. Skin and bone, as a matter of fact. They do not respond. Are they asleep? I turn the person over.

In the dim light of the wall panel I can see that the face before me is mummified.

I scream and toss the body way from me. It hits the ground and breaks into pieces. Whoever it was, they never managed to find an exit. Four weeks it takes to starve, but three days it taks to dehydrate, and probably fewer when you're running around looking for an exit like an idiot. I should have stayed in the cell and let the guards take food to me. Oh, this is a cruel trap. If you stay put you survive. If you try to escape you die. It's just like the prison camp back on earth that was in the middle of the dry lake in Texas. You can run if you want but there's nothing to run to. A heroic and futile effort. And there's nobody down here to hitchike with, even. 

If I run, I won't get anywhere, and if I bash through the walls, I won't get anywhere, will I? There's no exit to this place. 

But how did the guard get in here? Or whoever it was that was in front of my cell?

I look up.

The ceiling is lost in darkness. 

But not for long. I grab the edge of the hole I made and pull away a piece of drywall. And another. And another. Sooner rather than later I have a pile of drywall. I keep ripping away the walls and the pile grows, and grows, until at last it reaches the ceiling. I climb up the pile and tap it with my fist.

Okay, THIS is solid metal. Dammit. Is there a hatch somewhere? Nothing sounds hollow.

They wouldn't have a hatch in the middle of the maze, would they? They'd have it near one of the cells. They probably wouldn't WANT to walk very far to reach their prisoners. Maybe. It's a guess and a hope.

Unfortunately, I spent quite a good bit of time getting lost before I started bashing through walls, so It's not as though I could find my own cell again.

Fortunately, the poor sap who died down here ALSO had the thought to make holes in the walls. I don't feel as clever as I thought I was, but I'm grateful that the dead person left  fairly straight line. I grab the mummified skull and try to make my way through holes that are smaller than me. It takes some bashing. 

I find A cell with a conspicous hole in one wall. I'm definitely not any more clever than the dead person. 

Then again, I'm still alive and Mr. Bones isn't, so that's something. And I'm getting out of here come hell or high water. I punch through the wall next to a light panel and rip the panel out, careful not to break the wires. I point the panel at the ceiling and wave it around a bit. There's got to be a seam or something showing a hatch somewhere. There, a subtle outline. Perfect. Just what I'm looking for. I start ripping drywall away until I manage to make a pile that reaches to the ceiling.

"Jesus fucking Christ," says a voice behind me, "you've ruined my maze. Were you going to try to get out through the top?"

I whirl around. There's a guy behind me, sillhouetted by the light behind him. He's got big hair and the light behind him makes kid of a halo on his hair's outer edge. He's got some kind of cloak with a big collar on. He's slightly taller than me.

"Your maze."

"Yep. Pretty clever, eh?"


"Also fun. I mean, for you." he scratches his head. "For me, well, I don't exactly get to watch so it's more of an oubliette...moreso if you try to break out. That was the point, after all. A test of will. We keep the docile ones alive and kill the bold ones. The bold ones who survive, they can join the crew. Would you like to join the crew? If the answer's no you get to stay up here."


"You're in the crawl space between the main passenger compartments and the outside of the hull. Not a good idea to go bashing through it."

I hold the muffified skull up to the light. "To be honest, Captain Mad Scientist," I say, "this jerk is better company than you."

"Three of your companions have elected to join me already."

"They what now?"

"Oh, clever ducks all three of them. One of them managed to seduce a guard into opening the cell, then overpowered him and took his keys. I'll have to have a word with that guard. One of them managed to improvise a laser cutter out of the light fixture. And the third one, oh, the third one was interesting...he offered to tell me how the Barracuda works. It's such a stroke of luck to find one of those, you know? We could make quite a killing if we added it to the fleet. But he was so frustrating once we got him out of the cell! He said he wouldn't tell unless you were with him! I wanted to leave you here, because you seem like the greatest threat, and in any case you weren't going to solve my maze, so I don't honestly think you're THAT worthy. But no! The little twink said you were crucial to any understanding of the machine! Well, I thought I would make you the offer to get you out of here. What do you say?"

I consider for a moment, and look around.

There's a bit of the hallway nearby that is conspicuously light, and light like you would expect from an office hallway or a passenger compartment, not yellow light like this mess.

I toss Captain mad Scientist the skull. Caught off-guard, he fumbles to catch it. I give him a palm-strike uppercut, take the skull as he stumbles backward, and dash toward the white light.

There is, as I had hoped, a staircase leading downard. I dash down it and into a white-lit hallway full of people. Hundreds, in a space of a hundred yard between the two long bends of the hall. Most of them not looking in my direction at first. Some of them have on welder's masks and coveralls and they're repairing wires int he walls. Some of them have been pushing levitating carts forward. Some of them have been talking animatedly to each other. As I dash down the stairs, activity comes to a halt and everyone stares at me.

"What?" I say to the crowd. "Are you all surprised that I managed to get out of your dumb maze? Are you going to chase after me or something? Come on, I don't have all day."

The crowd waits in silence for a moment, then erupts in cheers and accolations. 

"Someone made it out alive!" says a welder.

"Someone got past Captain Bones!" says a cart-pusher.

"Another addition to the crew!" says someone carrying a long metal pipe. "Come on, let's take you to meet the actual captain. He will be pleased to see you."

We stride down the long corridor, enter an elevator, and ride it down until we reach a large atrium. In the midst of the atrium is a pool of water, and over the pool stretches a pedestrian bridge, and in the midst of the bridge is a large circular area. A broad figure stands tall in the center of the circle, giving orders to various subordinates who rush this way and that, relaysing orders into tablet computers and handheld communicators. The figure has big hair and a cloak with a high collar. I have to restrain myself from grupping the skull in my hands too hard.

And standing around him are three people who are familiar. Not so much conspicuous for being out of uniform -- nobody has a uniform in this place -- but I know their forms. One is a short skinny guy wearing a green suit. One is a taller musclebound fellow with a familiar blue skullcap. And one is a woman whose upper half is clothed in leathers and houlder-hanging tool betls, and whose lower half is hidden in a cloud of blue electricity. 

My friends.