I didn’t need the observation bots to hear a familiar voice broadcast across the building’s clearing and into the woods.
“Humans, evacuate the building and put down your arms. Listen to us, and we may leave you and your young ones alive. It’s more than you’ve any right to expect.”
The warm, tenor voice sounded human, but too perfect. Even if I hadn’t noticed, the Rocket suit pegged the voice as artificial.
In fact, I’d recognized it as a very specific artificial voice–the leader (or at least spokesman) of the Hrrnna.
He’d sounded nicer when we’d talked to him, but given that he had to have been responsible for killing the more peace loving Hrrnna on Earth, and he’d probably been behind providing the bombs that could have destroyed most of the human race…
Well, given all that, he probably wasn’t very nice.
Meanwhile, no one came out of the building.
In the clearing, a group of eight aliens broke away from the main group and started walking toward the building’s front doors. None of them were Hrrnna, I noticed. Six legged, horselike aliens likely wouldn’t fit very well in small spaces.
By contrast, the single Xiniti went along with seven humanoid aliens in power armor. The Xiniti wore liquid silver armor exactly like the armor I’d seen on Brooke–not that that was a surprise. Guardian had gotten Brooke’s armor from the Xiniti.
“You have a remarkable command of the Abominators’ technology. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a primitive race with a such a knack for it.
“That’s no compliment, creatures. The Abominators were a plague on all thinking peoples–except perhaps yours. Yours they changed into caricatures of the elder races and molded you into servants. I should feel sorry for you. You are as much victims as the rest of us.”
The voice stopped, but it sounded more like taking a breath.
I quietly hoped he’d keep on talking long enough for Rachel to take his ship down.
It would be amazing, and funny, in a way. He probably didn’t even know that taking a villain down at the end of his monologue was a cliche.
“Unfortunately,” the perfect voice said, “I feel nothing for you, and I’m pledged to end your kind even if it means my death. Come out, Dr. Griffin. Bring your herd with you, and you will put off their death for another day.”
The voice stopped again, and I wondered how much longer he’d go.
Not long, as it turned out. I could only assume he’d been reading TVTropes, or possibly the Evil Overlord List.
The group of humanoids lifted their weapons, and with the Xiniti in front began to walk toward the front door.
“This is your last chance,” the Hrrnna leader said. “If you give me no indication that you plan to surrender, we will kill you all. It gives me no great joy to order the deaths of primitives or their young, but your planet gives shelter to the herd of those who slaughtered my people.
“For this, we will leave our footprints in your skulls.”
As he’d talked, I’d noticed Cassie’s presence square blink off and then on. She wore her armor–in the Captain Commando setting. Like her regular costume, it was blue with a U.S. flag on the chest.
If people weren’t observant, they might not notice the difference between that costume and her regular one on first glance. Instants later, they’d realize that no skin showed at all, and that she looked just a touch bulkier, and a little taller.
I’d tried to keep her proportions the same.
Cassie’s voice came over the comm. “We’re not going to let them kill kids. I say we stop them from going in, fuck the ships’ guns.”
“I’m trying to figure out how,” I began.
We hadn’t attracted any attention from the ship’s guns yet, but that was only because we hadn’t done anything. The moment we did, the ships would start firing, and they’d probably have some way to share targets. Then all the troops would start firing at us, and there were a lot of them.
“Fuck figuring out how,” Cassie said. “Sometimes you can’t think it through first.”
Jaclyn broke into the conversation. “I think we can do it if Izzy and I keep moving. Captain Commando, if you want to be a part of it, you’ll need to stand away from everyone else, or they’ll all become targets. Look, I’ll tell you when to start firing.”
“Yeah?” Cassie sounded like she wanted to argue.
She didn’t get the chance. The humanoid soldiers spoiled it. The Xiniti pointed his arm at the transparent doors, and they shattered.
A woman appeared. Dark haired with light brown skin, she wore a grey sweatshirt that said “Fordham University” in red letters under a drawing of a bull. Also, blue jeans.
She wasn’t alone. A boy and a girl held her hands, and a man walked next to her. He was red haired, and walked stiffly.
Men, women and children walked behind them. All of them wore clothes that looked like they’d been planning to spend Sunday night at home with the family instead of with alien technology.
“I’m Dr. Griffin,” the woman in front said. She let go of her children’s hands.
“I’m in charge of this lab. Your business is with me.”
She stepped over the shattered remains of the doors with her hands in the air.
One of the humanoids grabbed her by the throat, its armored fingers surrounding her neck.
The Hrrnna’s translator said, “For taking responsibility for your people, you have my respect. Your death will be quick.”
Maybe it would have, but a burning light came from Cassie’s bluish-green gun, and the humanoid’s armored head exploded.