“Your governments have not told you everything about their fight with the Abominators. They have captured alien artifacts, and they try to understand them, but there is knowledge that you are not yet ready for, knowledge that will cause even ‘friendly’ aliens to bombard your world until nothing lives.
“Surrender these artifacts to us and nothing will tie them to you. Make it easy for us to take them away, and we will reward you.
“I understand that not all of you realize that you are working on alien technology. I will make it easier. People at these locations are working with alien technology or working with people who do.”
Then he began to list addresses.
I started the Rocket suit recording even though I felt sure that a host of government agencies, news organizations, and superhero fans already were.
I had a bad feeling that we might have to visit those places in the near future.
When the addresses ended, the man finished with, “Remember, the governments only care about power. We’re rebels and freedom fighters from all across the galaxy. We only care about keeping our ships in repair and keeping ourselves out of the authorities’ hands. We have no reason to lie to you.”
The screen faded to black.
On the Stapledon channel, I asked Lim, “Can’t you tell people, ‘don’t listen to this guy. He just tried to drop a bunch of rocks on us?'”
Lim sighed. “It’s not that simple. The powers that be told everyone to evacuate, but they didn’t tell them it was because of aliens dropping rocks on the planet. I can’t contradict the official line.
“Besides,” Lim continued, “it’s not all that likely that anyone’s going to listen to the guy.”
“If anyone does,” I began, but Lim interrupted. “Yeah, I know. One problem at time. Right now, Stardock. Do any of you see the mothership he talked about?”
For our part, assuming that the mothership had to be here probably indicated some kind of national narcissism that assumed that the US had to be at the center of anything going on of any importance. On the other hand, Stardock might be the only place on Earth currently constructing alien spaceships, making it worth a visit.
Izzy floated up into the air until she was above the factory. She stayed up there, scanning the sky from left to right and then floating back down.
Nodding in the direction of the ocean, she said, “Something’s over there, and it’s big.”
“Ok,” Lim said. “For now, all of you at Stardock need to wait and watch. Time’s on our side here. The moment Guardian and the Defenders take out all the asteroids, he can transport them to Earth. Then we’ll have the most experienced teams the planet has produced here to cover this. In the meantime, report if the aliens do something or look like they’re about to, and keep any of our people away from Stardock.”
Over the comm, Travis said, “We’ve got it.”
Izzy landed next to me. With Theo and Jaclyn gone, and the Aurora Bees covering the glass cannons, that left only Izzy, Patriot Jr., and me.
Even though only Theo had been hurt, we were down by half. While that didn’t make me feel scared, I didn’t feel good.
Or maybe I hadn’t noticed that I was scared yet.
Hey, Daniel said, you’re not completely alone. We’re close.
It felt like the edge of his range, but it was close enough to talk. That was something.
It is, he said.If nothing else, it’ll help us coordinate.
I checked my observation bots. They couldn’t see anything special going on. The ship that had been floating above Stardock had stopped moving, and floated in the air a few blocks away.
I pointed them toward the ocean where Izzy appeared to have seen the mothership. Nothing came through on the radar. I couldn’t say that surprised me.
I knew that the aliens’ cloaking technology routed light around the object they were protecting. I’d just expected that there would be hints that I might see if I knew it was there.
No such luck.
At the same time, Izzy’s face lit up, and she opened her mouth, but then closed it. I’d probably done that a few times while talking to Daniel myself, but not recently.
I wondered what they were talking about, but didn’t dwell on it too much. I didn’t need to know just like Daniel didn’t need to know what I talked to Haley about privately.
Come to think of it, though, he probably did know.
Patriot Jr., the only person who hadn’t been talking to Daniel telepathically in the last minute, stopped looking around, and turned to me. “Rocket, can you see anything through your bots?”
“Nothing’s moving,” I said.
Except that in that moment Izzy moved. She lifted off from the concrete next to the factory and flew into the air.
Even though it had gotten darker as we’d waited, there was still enough light for the observation bots to clearly see nothing in the direction she was looking.
It bothered me, and not just for technical reasons.
I gave fuel to the rockets and flew to the roof. I still couldn’t see anything more than what I had with the roachbots with straight visuals, but then I brought sonar in.
I couldn’t fit it in the roachbots, but even if the range didn’t match the Rocket suit’s radar, it had its good points.
From behind me, still floating in the air, Izzy whispered, “Do you see it?”
My display showed the scene ahead of me almost the same way I saw it with my own eyes–old brick, buildings below a darkening sky and the even darker ocean in the distance.
The sonar made one significant addition–a blurry streamlined spaceship that dwarfed any of the buildings below it. While not large enough to be confused with a moon, it looked to me like it could contain more than twenty of the kind of spaceship we’d seen floating in the air above Stardock.
Since it was sonar based, the screen displayed it in black, white, and many shades of gray.
Choosing Stapledon’s channel, I said, “Mothership is moving toward Stardock. It’s cloaked.”
Izzy tapped her wrist communicator, and her dot flashed in my display. “I see it too.”
“Anyone else?” Isaac asked. Voices in the background of his connection chattered, and someone shouted.
Travis’ bass voice broke in. “I don’t see anything, but I’m hearing something big.”
“Can you take it down?” Lim asked.
For a tense moment, no one said anything.
Then I said, “Maybe, but do you remember the last training exercise? The one that went horribly wrong with the ship? If we do a real life replay, we could take out several city blocks.”