He tapped on his palms again. “Here’s GPS coordinates for the Chicago gateway. And now I’m flying it back through. I’m going to fly it past each starplate on the way out. If it registers with each cellphone service, they might be able triangulate its position.”
The spybot whirled around and dove back into the gateway as he talked except this time one of the soldiers looked up, feathers moving in the wind. In the bottom corner of the screen, it pulled a walkie talkie from its belt as the bot passed through the gate.
Nothing happened at first, but as the spybot flew over the crowd of soldiers a few brought up their rifles and began to fire. Bright beams of light appeared on the screen, and the Rocket tapped his palms while the view on the screen jerked right or left unpredictably while moving steadily upward.
“Guess I won’t try that last idea…” The Rocket stared at the screen as the spybot whipped in one direction and then the next.
The soldiers stopped firing.
Continuing to tap on his palm, he added, “Its low on fuel, and well, its connected to most of the services anyway. The important thing now is to get it out so that they can’t capture it and analyze the bot.”
The view on the wall sized television turned into a long dive that gathered speed as it sank toward the glow of the gateway.
“You know, if this were just a video game, it might be fun.” The Rocket leaned in, tapping his palm one more time.
The rack of video games, DVD’s and video game consoles that stood next to the table hinted that he might know what he was talking about.
On the screen, the spybot leveled out less than twenty feet from the glow and shot through a few feet over the heads of the next group of soldiers.
The Rocket tapped one more time and the bot shot upward into the blue sky. Within two more taps, the small window, the one that had been showing the alley, expanded to fill the entire screen.
Meanwhile, what had filled the full screen shrunk into a small window. In the small window, the spybot aimed itself toward a long, oval shaped object that floated in the sky. It grew briefly larger and the screen turned dark. The window disappeared.
“Got it,” the Rocket said. “The spybot’s back in the pod. I’ll extract the logs and get the information to the Feds.”
He started tapping at the keyboard and text scrolled across the monitors on the table. As files opened and the Rocket copied text from one file to another, he glanced over at me. “Sorry for ignoring you. I know we have interviews scheduled with the Mystic and myself. Obviously, there’s an international emergency, but I’m sure we’ll be able to squeeze something in. There’s generally some waiting between the moments of terror.”
I stopped taking notes. “I’ve been at this for a few years now. I’m sure we’ll get in the interviews, and if it becomes impossible, I’ll work something out.”
“Okay,” he said, turning back to the screen and clicking his mouse.
On the next computer over, Control told someone, “I’m putting this channel on the main speakers.”
The Mystic’s voice sounded throughout the room. “Got it. Storm King and I are on the roof of the building on the east side of the alley. We’re on the far side of the roof and I’m using clairvoyance to watch them. There are at least fifty soldiers and at least three different species. One of them has wings. They’re the shortest. They just came through. The other two groups have arms.
“We’re probably going to have to move soon. The flying ones will be able to see us if they take off.”
The Rocket tapped his palm, and his voice came over the speakers. “Are they all sapient?”
The Mystic didn’t answer immediately, but then he said, “I can’t read their thoughts as easily, but yes. I think so.”
Grabbing the mouse of his computer, the Rocket opened up another program. “I think I know who these guys are.”
Control turned to look at him. “Those guys? I remember scanning them in.”
Above them, the wall screen showed the most birdlike of the invaders extended their wings and took experimental flaps.
One of them took to the air as the wingless soldiers began walking toward the end of the alley.
A lightning bolt hit the flying soldier. It fell as the rumble of thunder came over the speakers.
Meanwhile, one of the wingless soldiers fell backwards as if he’d been punched in the head by an invisible fist. Even as he was still falling, the soldier next to him fell in the same way, followed by the next soldier over.
Some of the soldiers stopped, staring up into the sky or sniffing the air. Others dropped to the ground and began to crawl.
Then a roaring wind blew down the alley, knocking the creatures that were still standing over, and blowing even the crawling soldiers back down the alley.
More soldiers stepped out of the gateway and started firing at the upper floors of the buildings on either side of the alley, blasting chunks out of the walls and roof.
A lightning bolt fell from the sky, dropping two of the four new soldiers that stood next to the gateway, two more soldiers that were stepping out after them, and the gateway itself.
The bluish-white rectangle flickered out of existence.
“Huh,” the Rocket said. “Lightning bolts will take down the gateway. My bet is that it’s only temporary, but good to know.”