It was about a minute after Milo finally passed out that Floyd noticed a strange buzzing from behind him.
Almost drowned out by the airport’s incessant din, he turned round to see an entirely different kind of plane coming down to land: one far more suited to his size and which he remembered from the last time he’d been in New York.
A rather ugly-looking plane with three motors came down just over to the side of him, and stopped abruptly, spinning around on its left wheel so that it faced the way it had come by the time it finally stopped.
The motors stopped and the door burst open to reveal Harry - still dressed in her bar staff uniform - who leapt from the cockpit and opened the cargo loading door with a heave, before running over to him.
“Get in, now!” She ordered, and Floyd didn’t even think to argue, as she picked Milo up and hoisted him over her back, then turned and headed back to the plane.
Within a minute, they had loaded Milo onto the back and laid him across the passenger seats, closed all the doors and got themselves airborne.
In the night, the snow pelted the screen and reduced the visibility from the window to nearly nothing, but Harry flew onwards, climbing at an aggressive rate in spite of the snow and the wind, until she finally levelled out and pulled the throttles back and turned to face him.
“You know, I think I might have to explain what stealth means to you two, seeing as you don’t seem to get it.”
He laughed nervously, then looked down to see new York moving gently below him, “You think?” He replied.
If she didn’t need to have her paws on the controls to fight the wind, he was sure that Harry would have crossed her arms at him in disapproval.
“Stealth involves going about things as subtly as you can: it involves getting in and getting out without anybody noticing, it can basically be measured in decibels, and if done right, the only person who knows anything went on is the person who did the deed.”
Floyd nodded his agreement, “Okay, I get that.”
“Good. Because I’ll have you know that I’ve been able to track your movements by listening to the news.”
“Well, sometimes spying’s more art than science” he replied, but Harry hadn’t quite finished scolding him, “a fine art, Floyd - not a loud and obnoxious one.”
She turned her head round for a second to look at Milo passed out on the back seats, before focusing on flying the plane again, “I’m going to tell you the headlines that popped up in the last hour verbatim, because you’ve probably not had time to listen to the radio: ‘flooded sanctuary shuts down subway’ yes, Floyd, the whole subway, ‘police scramble to arrest dozens of terrorists’, ‘fighting breaks out at airport for the second time in twenty-four hours.”
“We had to improvise” He rebuked.
Harry looked stern for another few seconds, but then just burst into laughter and smiled at him, “Clearly. Insofar as it’s possible for a spy to do so, you’ve absolutely trashed New York. I couldn’t dream of doing as much damage as you pair have done, I’m proud of you.”
He heard a slight grunting noise from behind him, and he turned round to see Milo slowly opening his eyes and groaning in pain.
Not that he wasn’t in agony himself, but he could only imagine how bad Milo must feel.
“You hear that? Harry’s proud of us!”
Milo looked confused and moaned again, then looked at Harry, and then back to him before dropping his head back down on the seat and making another groan of discomfort.
“I’m dead, aren’t I? I’m dead and this is some kind of purgatory. My dad was right.”
Floyd laughed wearily and shook his head at him, “I’m sorry, you’re not dead I’m afraid, though on the upside, that does mean your dad’s probably wrong, so you get to use that against him too.”
“Cool.” Milo mumbled.
“How’re you holding up, cupcake?” He asked, if only to try to keep him talking and hopefully assess just how much danger he was in.
Milo took a look at himself and lifted the tattered remains of his jacket and shirt to see his wound, then turned his attention back to him.
“I guess I’m not dead, so that’s a start, and it looks like the glue’s still holding about as well as could be expected after being blasted with jet exhaust…” he stopped and tapped around his nose before continuing, “I think my whiskers are gone… a whole bunch of my fur too. Oh no, please tell me I don’t look like big ugly mace guy.”
Floyd pulled a face: as much as he loved milo, his current look was hardly his best.
Though ultimately, it was Harry who replied first.
“Wait, I’m sorry, did you say you got blasted with jet exhaust?”
Floyd and Milo both looked at her and nodded, then she sniffed Floyd’s shoulder and looked back to the path she was flying, “Shit, you actually went and did it.”
“We didn’t exactly plan to, but well, you know how it is with stubborn assassins lurking on a plane ready to kill you” Floyd explained, and Milo offered a weary nod of agreement, then Floyd finally got back to Milo’s question.
“And no, you don’t look like Maynard. You could do with a lot of TLC right now, I’ll tell you that much, but I reckon you’ll look just as handsome as you ever did in a couple of months.”
“Aww, thanks” Milo moaned, then sat himself up with a long and laboured groan and looked out the window.
“We’re still in New York” he sighed.
Harry chimed in quickly, “I’m working on that. There’s a train depot over on the Jersey side; there’s a couple of freight trains that head out all the way to LA over there. If you jump on one of those, then by the time it reaches its destination, we should have this whole Cerberus thing under control.”
He doubted that a little, but Harry’s conviction was quite profound.
“Thanks. You didn’t have to do that, we’d have been fine on our own” Floyd insisted, but Milo frowned at him and he hastily went back on his words, “I mean, I’m sure we’d have got home eventually, and maybe… okay, yeah, thanks.”
By now they were halfway over Manhattan, and Harry made a gentle turn to the right to get them on the right heading, before moving a lever and locking it into place and pulling back on the throttle.
Thus began their descent.
Milo continued to make little groans and whimpering noises, but Floyd could tell from his tone of voice that he would probably be alright, given ample rest and medical attention once they got back.
As for himself, the gashes on his back thankfully weren’t too deep - even if they were particularly long - and he reckoned that if he could only manage to sleep, then he could probably heal from them in due time.
Harry banked right fairly hard to get them flying over a street, then left a little later so that they could complete the final leg of their journey.
Sure enough, Floyd could see a collection of floodlights and a collection of trains in a large yard.
And one particularly long one had just started moving.
“Is that our ride?” He asked, and Harry nodded, then pushed the throttles in hard and put the lever back in its original position.
“It won’t be if we miss it. Get ready to jump.”
He and Milo both looked at her in disbelief, but any objections they had were cut short by the plane suddenly pitching down at an aggressive angle and picking up an astonishing rate.
They crossed the river in good time, and by the time they’d got down to rooftop altitude, they were already bearing down on the train as it moved off on the start of its journey.
Harry finally levelled the plane off about a metre above the tracks, where she tried to move them level with the centre of the train.
The overhead cables however, made it almost impossible to get down, and by now, the train was starting to gain speed.
If they kept flying like this for much longer, then they would have no chance of catching it.
Harry quickly looked up at a little display above her head and swore as she saw that it was showing the number fifteen, which he guessed was a battery power indicator.
With a snarl, Harry pushed the throttles forward as hard as she possibly could in an attempt to coax the last bit of speed from the motors as they entered a long turn in the tracks.
He watched as the number dropped down to fourteen.
With the train turning, Harry couldn’t risk the descent for fear of hitting the cables or the scaffolding that supported them, but by the time the track straightened out, the train had managed to pick up enough speed that they were now flying perfectly level with it.
She had no option now but to just dive regardless.
With a sudden and violent kick to one of the pedals, the plane swung to the right, followed by a sharp push of the yoke, which took them down past the cables and between the pylons, where they now flew level with a large orange shipping container, just a few inches above it.
Milo opened the cargo door and Floyd got up to clamber over the seats, but before he joined Milo, he stopped and gasped.
“Oh you’ve got to be kidding me” he groaned.