“Where?” Haley asked. She wasn’t whispering.
“Above the forest. Right in the middle. It’s kind of close to the forest entrance to HQ.”
Haley’s eyes dipped toward the instrument panel. “The AI sees it, and it thinks it’s going to move…”
On the screen, the League jet exited the water, covered in panes of darkness, aiming toward the forest. The white beam, painfully bright even on the screen, aimed off to the side of where HQ’s scanner had identified it as an anomaly.
Above the forest, a silvery shape flickered, resolving into the aliens rectangular landing craft with a long burn down the craft’s side, and a blackened hole three quarters from the back.
The spaceship wobbled in the air as it began to fire back. Red beams fired from a single point near the back of the ship. Black squares appeared, seemingly randomly, all over the ship. They shattered as the League jet fired again, its beam cutting the landing craft in two. The front half crashed into the forest while the back half tumbled through the air a few times before hitting Veterans Memorial Park in the grassy area between the playground and the beach.
A distant sounding thump came from above her, and she wasn’t sure, but she thought that the lights on the ceiling swayed a little.
Then Kayla stared at the screen. Chris, Camille or Sydney might have been under that thing.
She checked the wallscreen, and, not seeing any signs that anyone had been hit, spoke into the microphone. “Is everyone okay?”
Chris replied. “We’re golden. We weren’t under it. It was kind of close though. I wonder how long they were up there? That was a big ship. It could have held a bunch of aliens.”
“Done,” Gerald Cannon’s voice came over the comm. “I’m getting out there. Control, when I leave, don’t let anything in. We might be lucky, and there’s nothing to worry about anymore, but don’t count on it. You know what you call people who count on luck?”
“What?” Kayla asked, knowing that it wasn’t going to be an actual name.
“Dead,” Gerald said.
She should have guessed.
Cannon came back to grab his armor. He didn’t give her time to get up and help him in. As he leaned into it, the armor sealed around him.
“Remember,” he said, turning toward the lab, “the woods could be crawling with them.
She didn’t see any sign of it on the monitor.
Glancing toward the lab, she saw him carrying a box out.
Man-machine’s icon flickered on the screen. “Control, pay attention, we might need you to blow this thing remotely.”
She’d been planning to pay attention. She was paying attention right now, and she wished she were the sort of person who could express how insulting that was, preferably in a way that was cutting, clever, and funny.
Kayla didn’t even try. It would have been rude, and she couldn’t make herself do it.
“I’ll be watching,” she said, thinking as she did that she sounded more irritated than anything else.
She felt pretty sure that wasn’t making him quake in his boots.
Clicking on Man-machine’s icon, she asked, “What is it?”
“Too complicated to bug you with.” He was running down the sewer line by then, and not toward the nearest exit either.
She tried not to think about it.
“Control,” Haley said. She’d been talking with the others the entire time. “Do you see anything?”
Kayla scanned the screens on the wall. “What am I looking for?”
Haley frowned. “The Abominators had personal cloaking devices on their armor.”
Kayla stared at the screens. “They might be invisible?”
“Not really, but close. My grandfather told me about them. He could smell them, but I’m up here, and it would take too long to land the jet inside HQ.”
Offscreen, Marcus asked, “Skip it, we’ll leave it outside. We can jump out and lock the doors.”
Kayla didn’t think that sounded quite right. “Couldn’t you stay in there and shoot them from the air?”
Haley shook her head. “The jet’s personnel lasers weren’t useful versus heavy duty military armor when the original League fought the Abominators, and the big guns aren’t easy to aim at something smaller than a spaceship.”
Chris’ voice broke into the conversation. “I’m not seeing anyone. I know I shouldn’t say it, but I think they all must have been in the ships, and when the ships went down, they died.”
Camille laughed. “I like that idea.”
On screen, the GPS showed them as being near the beach.
Sydney said, “I feel like something bad is just about to happen.”
“Thank you Obi-Wan.” Marcus grinned at the camera.
Chris’s icon turned around in a circle. “It does feel a little too easy, but I’m checking in every direction using the suit’s radar, infrared… I’m not seeing anything but the dead remains of one ship, and half of another. Do you think we ought to go inside one of them? Sure, it seems dumb, but if we saw a bunch of dead bodies that’d clear things up, right?”
Sydney’s icon turned toward the remains of the ship in the water and then back toward the land where the back half of the other ship lay.
“I don’t like that idea.”
Haley interrupted. “Get off the beach. Get back to HQ. The AI thinks they’re there with you.”
Chris’s suit turned toward the beach. “Are you sure?”
Then, in flashes of silver, figures began to appear on the beach. Kayla counted fifteen before Haley said, “Wait, don’t run yet. We’ll all go at once.”
Chris didn’t move. “I thought you said the ship couldn’t do much to them.”
“Hope that I’m wrong,” Haley said.
In HQ, alarms started ringing. The TV screen showed a picture of the sewer lines around HQ, and the word “Breach.”