I wanted to keep on listening to Haley, but became distracted by the scene in front of me. A long, basically rectangular object appeared above Stardock. I say “basically” rectangular because it was thinner at the front than the back. On the whole, it reminded me of a troop transport vehicle, or possibly of those D-day landing craft?
It didn’t seem to have much for weapons, just one turret near the back.
Of course, it didn’t need much when you considered the company it kept. Machine race warriors appeared next to it. I say “machine race warriors” because that’s still faster than referring to them as members of the “Shiny Searchers for Extra Value Meals Clan” or whatever it was.
I barely had time to think, “I wonder if they’ve noticed us?” when the machine race warriors changed course, aiming straight toward the building we stood on. Beams of white light lanced toward us. We had no time to move except that somehow Brittany and Brianna loosed one of their shields, its brightness blocking our view of the beams that probably would have burned half of us to a crisp.
I sensed Daniel’s relief. I barely caught that one in time.
Over the Defenders’ message stream, someone whose voice I didn’t recognize said, “We’re receiving reports of attacks all over the world. The spots we recognize are places where we know alien and Abominator technology were being studied or reverse engineered. The spots we don’t recognize are probably places we didn’t know alien tech was being studied or reverse engineered.”
It explained why they’d be in Grand Lake. Aside from the jet, HQ normally contained Cassie’s gun, and currently held the largely dismembered body of the machine race unit I’d taken apart.
I wondered if Grandpa had kept any other Abominator devices in HQ. I wondered if the aliens had figured out where HQ was.
Lim’s voice came over the speakers, “What’s your status?”
Travis shouted, “Under attack,” into his communicator as crashing noises came from below us. The roof near the front of the building sank, tearing in two, opening a hole into a room filled with old machines.
The Sparkly Searchers must have blasted the building once they’d realized they couldn’t get around the shield–which was a great tactic on their part.
I’d have appreciated it more if I weren’t one of the people on the roof though.
Speaking of which, as the roof began to buckle Travis shouted, “Everyone off!” He waved his hand toward the back of the building, and we followed his lead–not that anyone had been waiting. Half the group had already taken to the air.
Better yet, the Aurora Bees had reshaped their shield into a dome and then into a sphere as we all went off the back. They’d even made the shield a little easier to see through. It glowed, the colors rapidly changing from one to another, but at least I could see through it.
I might have felt a little better if I’d remained ignorant.
The Sparkling Searchers of Silly String clan hadn’t stopped firing at us as we all went over the side. They’d flown after us, and were floating above us, hammering us with blasts of light.
We’d landed behind the building, next to a bike rack, and the factory’s parking lot.
Cigarette butts lay on the ground near the door.
Brittany and Brianna stood in the middle of our group, standing back to back, not breaking a sweat, or even looking tired yet, but it didn’t take a rocket scientist to guess that they wouldn’t be able to keep it up forever.
Furthermore, it didn’t take a brilliant tactician to realize that if we just sat here, we were all going to die.
I opened a channel to Travis on my communicator, and said, “Use Storm King, and uh… Sean.” I wasn’t going to call him the Power. Sure, he’d registered the name, but seriously, no.
Travis glared at me from where he stood next to Daniel. Everybody seemed to be looking at him. “You’re interrupting me now,” he began, and then said, “Wait, that’ll work.”
He held his left wrist next to his mouth, and tapped on it. “Who can hit outside the shield without opening the shield? We’ve got Storm King and the Power. Who else?”
The Aurora Bees said, “We can.”
One of them (I wasn’t sure if it was Brittany or Brianna) said, “It’ll take power away from the shield.”
The other said, “But its better than no offense, and we do it all the time back home.”
Bloodmaiden said, “I can manage an illusion, but that’s all I’ve got on short notice.”
At the sound of her voice, Travis turned toward her. “The invisibility thing you made. It was right next to the building. Does it still work?”
Bloodmaiden closed her eyes. “It’s still there. I think we could all fit.”
Travis shook his head. “We don’t need to. We need to be ready to take Stardock if Lim tells us to.”
He held his hands up in the air and waved for our attention. “Everyone, here’s the plan. We’ve got to get Jenny out of sight, and we’ve got to distract them,” he pointed upward with his thumb, “enough that they don’t realize we did it.”
A chunk of the building above us broke off, and bricks fell on the shield, shattering and rolling down the dome. Travis glanced upward, but didn’t move. Most of the rest of us froze or stepped back–me too.
“Here’s what we do,” he continued. “Storm King and the Power attack the robots from in here. When I say the word, the Aurora Bees let the Rocket, Izzy, Patriot Jr., and Theo out. They’ll attack whatever bots are left, and tell us what the spaceship’s doing. Those of us who can’t fly will get out of sight. The Aurora Bees will shield the mobile artillery, and assist Patriot Jr.’s unit.
“Once the robots are down, take cover. Don’t attack the ship unless it’s attacking you. If it is attacking you, and you think you can take it down, do it.”
I saw a few ways for this to go wrong. For one, I doubted that whatever was in the ship would sit around and do nothing once we took out the robots. He’d essentially committed us to taking out the spaceship and whatever it was carrying, but I didn’t have a better plan for the moment.
We definitely couldn’t sit here and watch the bots slice through the shield.