I didn’t pay much attention to the explosion beyond noting that it happened. We were gaining on the ships ahead of us.
I couldn’t say that for sure personally. All my HUD showed was the city at night plus blurry areas in the sky that looked very similar to the blurred areas in the sky that I’d normally see behind a jet or a truck.
In short, it was probably the two cloaked ships we’d been chasing. Or, it was some kind of cloaked drone that generated a disproportionate amount of sound in an effort to to mislead us.
That wasn’t impossible.
“Hey, uh… super codenameless person.”
Jenny laughed. Izzy gave me a look.
“You haven’t seen anything shoot away from the blurs we’re chasing?”
Izzy stared ahead. “No. Did you?”
“No. Just paranoid.”
As we talked, the scenery changed. We’d left New York as I’d always imagined it–a place with new and old skyscrapers, endless apartment buildings, and barely anyplace that hadn’t been covered with evidence of human life–and traveled further down Long Island.
That’s what the GPS showed anyway.
After a while, the houses became more spread out, sometimes I saw spots where there were trees–lots of trees. I half expected that if I flew lower I’d find neighborhoods beneath them, but the areas below us began to look like suburbs that you might find anywhere in U.S.–including Grand Lake.
In the distance, it looked like there might be some kind huge nature preserve, which didn’t fit my stereotypes at all.
I couldn’t see the area very well in the twilight, but that was the thing. Lights weren’t everywhere. Roads didn’t cover every spot that buildings didn’t.
I didn’t catch a lot of details because we were traveling at near supersonic speed, but still.
Granted, it was still Long Island, so matter what I saw ahead of me, a big highway ran below me, going through a town called Medford which had an identifiable Target next to a Sam’s Club.
It also apparently hadn’t gotten the “Evacuate, you’re being invaded by aliens!” memo.
Cars traveled down the highway, headlights glowing. Other cars traveled in and out of the stores’ parking lots.
To be fair, I can’t imagine people would expect aliens to visit this end of Long Island.
Ahead of us, the ships slowed down and decloaked.
Long, and rectangular, they’d reminded me a little of the troop transports I’d seen in documentaries of the D-day landing on Normandy Beach. It was a good instinct on my part because the front of each ship opened, and figures jumped out.
Many were loosely human shaped even if they seemed too short, too tall, had massively wide chests, or bizarrely long, slender bodies. Also, a couple had wings.
Others were recognizably alien. Several Hrrnna floated down, followed by a Xiniti.
That was a shock. From what Grandpa Vander Sloot had told me, they never traveled in groups smaller than two. He’d said that they went mad when left alone.
All of them wore powered armor. In the lighting, I couldn’t tell the colors on the armor, but I could tell that some suits were darker than others.
They fell slowly from the ship.
For a moment it surprised me that they weren’t more mobile than they were, but I remembered why. The Abominators’ standard designs didn’t allow anti-gravity to work very well for anything smaller than a van.
I wasn’t sure why that was. I’d read Grandpa’s notes on gravity theory, and I couldn’t see any reason for a hard limit like that.
One of these days I’d have to sit down and design my own version. Maybe when college was out for the summer?
Surely I could do better.
Izzy interrupted my thoughts by shouting, “Rocket, down!”
She dove, and I followed, dropping below tree level, and very noticeably so. I barely had time to slow down before I flew into the trees. They weren’t huge trees, and this being early spring, they were bare of leaves.
I turned around, and flew back toward Izzy and Jenny where they floated in the air. Inexplicably we were above a parking lot next to a small amusement park. From where I floated, I could see a race track, minigolf, and I thought I’d seen a huge pool on the way down.
I loosed the observation bots to spy on the ships, and said, “What’s up?”
“We needed to get out of sight.” Izzy’s tone hinted at a fairly significant level of disbelief.
“You’d spaced out,” Jenny said.
“Yeah,” I said, “but galactic civilization’s standard anti-grav design has a pretty serious flaw. I’d bet that a better design would allow those guys to fly instead of giving them a controlled fall. The current one’s just that bad.”
Izzy stared at me.
Jenny shook her head. “Don’t worry about it. He gets like this.”
I came back to myself. “Sorry, I’m not completely out of it. I did think to send out bots just now. They’re scouting out the area.”
Crap. I needed to get better about keeping my head in the game during combat. If I didn’t, it could lead to someone’s death–mine, or worse, Haley’s.
I considered listening in on whatever Haley’s group was doing, but decided I didn’t need an additional distraction. Anyway, to judge from the display, they were all alive and busy.
In my HUD, three views of the aliens appeared. A little further northeast, in the next clearing over stood a square office building. Where it wasn’t white, it had mirrored windows and doors.
The alien ships floated above it, one above the other, each holding a commanding view of the ground below. I didn’t think the position would be as effective against attacks from the air, but they didn’t have much of a reason to fear attacks of any kind.
Once the troops had jumped out, the ships had apparently activated the same kind of black shields the League jet used, or a variation on the same tech.
One roachbot view showed a humanoid approaching the white building. It broke into a run, hitting more than ninety miles per hour as it aimed for the doors.
When it reached the door, the humanoid burst into light. It stopped moving, and dissolved into dust in layers, starting with the powered armor, followed by its skin, muscles, internal organs, and bones.
Whoever was inside the building had an entropy shield–Abominator tech.