Chapter 14

Crewman T631 woke up surrounded by enemies. He expected to be tortured; instead he got given a drink. It was unlike anything he had ever tasted before, and in a good way. Just as things looked to be going well he was bundled into a vehicle. Crewman T631 had an urgent thought before falling asleep. For an unknown reason, it now seemed vitally important to let the Zardonian commanders know about the low opinion he held of them.

At exactly the same time as Kevin and Martina got themselves lost looking for Billy and Faf, the second human defense team of Pa, Gerry and an unconscious alien were within spitting distance of the command center.

‘Stick on Atlantic 252’

‘Can’t, the radio’s broken …what d’ya want to listen to that shite for anyway?’

‘It’d be better than listening to you mashing the gears, I’d swim to New York quicker’

Finding the command centre had been easy. Turning the van when they got there was different. Pa was now well on the way to creating a Ford Transit sized hole into the room.

The delay getting into the controls was proving too much for Gerry.

‘why don’t you let me out now, I’ll take the Mega Drive and try find the root access, you can join me whenever ya get the van turned’

‘Hold on a second Gerry, I nearly have it’

‘Ya said that five minutes ago’

‘No way was that five minutes ago, c’mon, just wait for me, it’ll be ages before I get to watch someone destroy an alien warship again’.

Crunch. Gerry winced as another strip of metal was torn from the superstructure. The van was now wedged diagonally across the corridor that led to the control room.

‘You’ll have it half destroyed yourself before we even get near the controls’

‘It’s a tight space’

‘What are you on about, ya could land the fuckin space shuttle in here -just leave the van, we can sort it out when we’re finished’.

Pa got out. Gerry unplugged the Mega Drive and followed him. They walked through the entrance to a large domed room. The dome itself was transparent, and had the ability to magnify light from outide the ship. The entrance looked like the aperture on a camera. Large metal panels took the place of the blades. At least they would have done on a good day. Thanks to Pa’s driving three of the panels had been knocked out, and had found a new home on the otherwise spotless floor.

Gerry and Pa stepped over the misplaced panels, and into magnified starlight. A three dimensional display of the solar system took up the centre of the room, while the walls were lined with glowing panels. If it was not for a strong smell of shite the strangeness of the scene would have been overwhelming. As it was Pa could not manage much more than staring wide eyed around him.

‘Fuckin hell, that hologram is deadly, I wish I’d brought a camera’.

Gerry had begun yanking at the glowing panels -he was not hanging around and spoke as he worked.

‘Not sure a picture would come out great in here Pa, ya’d need a flash, it’d probably be all blurry’

‘You mean like a UFO photo from the fifties?’

‘Yeah, exactly like those UFO pictures from the fifties, that’s why nobody bothers photographing alien spaceships anymore’

Pa walked a slow lap of the room and stared out of the roof. Gerry was looking in the opposite direction, and began rooting around for a gap in the floor.

‘Look at that view’

Gerry located a trap door beneath the panels, lifted it open, grabbed a fistfull of cables and plugged in the Mega Drive .

‘I’m kinda busy right now, am sure it’s class though’

‘Ya know something Gerry, it’s true what they say about the stars’

‘What’s that then?’

‘You’ve got to reach for them’

‘Who said that?’

‘I dunno, probably Rodney Rice’

‘sounds like bollocks to me’

‘it’s just a saying Gerry …it means us humans should be building more rockets’

‘what are you on about, will ya go and shite’

‘smells like someone already did’

‘…I was wondering about that too …think it’s coming from under the floor, if I didn’t know better I’d say someone has crapped into the signal repeater; whatever it is, it’s playing puck with their systems’

What happened next happened without warning. First the room was violently illuminated. The light came from a powerful searchlight from above the dome scanned the room. Second, it focussed its beam on the two intruders. Thirdly, Pa panicked.

‘Run Gerry, that’s the same shape of a thing that attacked us below on Corran hill’

The searchlight was attached to what looked like a giant metallic haddock floating in space. Multicoloured lights flashed hieroglyphic symbols on the splayed fins. Where the eyes should have been was one long rectangular window, tinted gold and hiding whatever was behind it.

Pa looked around for somewhere to hide, but there was nowhere obvious. He was briefly torn between inaction and hysteria. He settled on running back and forth while giving his middle finger to the lights above the ceiling.

More lights joined it.

‘Gerry, there’s fuckin loads of them now, the aliens are back’

‘Calm down Pa, we’ve still got time, the fighters aren’t going to shoot a hole through the hull of their own ship’

‘why didn’t that Mega Drive warn us? the poxy thing wouldn’t shut up earlier’

Bleep. It would have been pointless. Replied the Mega Drive.

Bleep. The mission is doomed. It advised.

Bleep. Your friends will die first. Suggested the Mega Drive.

Just as quickly as the lights appeared, they were gone.

Gerry had mostly ignored the piercing searchlights. Instead he had succeeded in ripping a panel from the wall above the trap door. He was now busy prodding inside the hole it left.

‘I think I’ve found root access, quick, go start the van, we don’t want to hang about’

Gerry pulled out a cable and connected it to the Mega Drive.

Clank. Thrrung. Clank.

A series of tremors shook the superstructure and unseen machinery began to stir into life.

Bleep. The aliens have boarded..

Craaack. The ship went dark.

‘Did you mean for that to happen Gerry?’

‘Em, no, not sure what did that, maybe the upload is causing recursion, and that tripped the systems’

‘Uh, okay so, erm, does that mean that the spaceship is paranoid?’

‘I dunno, just go out and start the van will ya, we’ll find out soon enough’

The magnified starlight from the dome radiated just enough light for Pa to find the van, climb in, and turn on the electrics.

The lights of the van pierced the darkness. It was firmly wedged between the two walls of the corridor. The driver side window facing sideways away from, and the rear door towards the control room.

It took Pa several seconds to realize what he was looking at. He leaned across to the passenger door, opened it, and yelled.

‘Gerry’

‘Yes Pa’

‘Come out to the van …you’re gonna need to see this’

Roughly fifty metres along from the van was a formation of Zardonian infantry. They had fanned out across the width of the corridor and were crouching behind a line of shields. It was a solid wall of armour and scales, and it was also clear that they meant for nothing to pass that way.

Gerry stumbled out with the Mega Drive. He got to the passenger door, looked along the glare of the headlights, and stood still.

‘Holy shit, where the fuck did they come from’

‘I’ve no idea Gerry, they were there when I turned the lights on’

‘Right, fuck …well, erm …fuck …shit’

He climbed into the van and plugged the Mega Drive into the cigarette lighter.

Bleep. You will both die.

‘Why aren’t they moving Gerry?’

Both men sat staring down the corridor.

‘They probably didn’t expect to find the van here …my guess is they are waiting for heavy artillery’

‘What about the lads?’

‘I don’t know …fuck it anyway …here, roll down the window there and tell them we want to do a prisoner swap, I’ll wake the alien’

Gerry stepped back out of the van. He walked behind it and opened the rear doors. Pa leaned his head out the window.

‘Listen up, we want to do a swap with ye, we’ve one of your lads in the back, and if you want to see him again ye need to let our three lads go’.

‘Was there not four of them Pa?’, called Gerry, who was struggling out the back of the van with an alien on his shoulder.

Pa shouted again.

‘Sorry …I meant our four lads’

He got no response.

‘Shit’

‘What’s up Gerry?’

‘I’m after dropping the alien’.

Garrrtachuuch

‘I think he’s after waking up’.

The creature staggered to its feet. Two red eyes stared up at the ceiling, over at the van, and along the corridor. It brushed past Gerry. It scrambled in through the passenger door. It climbed over Pa, and barreled out the driver side.

‘Stop him Pa, they haven’t shown us their prisoners yet’

‘I can’t, he’s gone’

The creature lurched down the corridor and came to a stop in front of the line of shields.

Garrrtachuuch

Gerry climbed back into the cab.

‘What in the name of God is it up to?’

‘I dunno, but it’s mates don’t look too happy about it’

The alien was now wobbling from side to side.

‘I think it’s pissed, the beers must’ve gone to its massive head’

Garrrtachuuch

A gap formed in the line of shields, a weapon emerged and was discharged. The creature’s head exploded. Scales and flesh splattered the ceiling and walls.

‘Fucking hell, quick, roll up that window Pa’

The gap in the shields widened to reveal an even larger weapon.

Bleep. You are being targeted by a photon cannon.

Gerry frantically checked the plug on the Mega Drive.

‘What are you doing Gerry? …ya can’t be thinking of leaving without the others’

‘we’ve got no choice, put the van into reverse’

Bleep. The cannon is charging.

Pa slowly put the van into reverse, and then hesitated.

‘What the fuck are ya waiting for, turn the ignition’

‘I can’t Gerry, not without the lads’

‘Turn it now …we’ll be no use to them dead’

Gerry dived across the cab and yanked the key.

Klump.

The van was instantly transported back to Earth.

It was back at the end of a recently extended clearing on the top of Corran hill. It was daylight, and an Opel Astra was parked next to it. They were both stunned by the contrast but Gerry didn’t let on. He spoke slowly.

‘There was no choice up there, you saw what was before us, there was nothing we could’ve done …the lads are probably still alive, the aliens will want to find out how they got onto the ship …and they’ll be years trying to get any information outta Faf’.

Pa shook his head sadly, before slumping face down onto the steering wheel.

‘we can still save them Pa, come on, don’t give up’

Pa didn’t look up.

‘I need a smoke’ he said.