Olivia ducked down, angling her wings through the doorway in the TV station. Ahead of her, Gears and Skulker kept checking over their shoulders, guns at the ready. Janice, a worker at the station, led them to where she said the alien Siberians kept their equipment.
“So why exactly are you three here?” she asked, slightly out of breath. She cast a nervous glance at the triplets’ guns. “I didn’t think anyone else knew about the aliens.”
“They stole somethin’ of ours. Well, not really ours, a friend of ours. You get the picture,” replied Skulker.
“We had no idea there were fuckin’ aliens involved until an hour ago,” added Gears.
“What did they steal?” asked Janice, confusion all across her face. “What could they possibly need?”
“Brain meltin’ ray. Goes through damn near anythin’,” said Skulker. Were we supposed to tell her that?
After a moment of consideration, all Janice could manage was, “That doesn’t sound good.”
“Ha! You got that right.”
The group came to a stop by a set of large double doors. “Here,” said Janice. “This is the newsroom. I’d be willing to be this is where they’re keeping whatever it is you’re looking for.”
“Thanks. Anythin’ else we should know?” asked Skulker.
She shook her head.
“Then get outta here an’ to safety.”
“Should I call the police?”
Gears grunted, “Give us a half hour.”
“Alright. Good luck.” With that, she hurried off, her footsteps fading as she turned a corner and vanished from sight.
Olivia and the triplets exchanged glances. Let’s find out what new awful thing is here. Gears cocked his shotgun and burst through the doors, Skulker and Olivia following close behind. A completely empty and deserted room greeted them. Half of the flood lights overhead kept the stage in front of them brightly lit.
Well this is a nice change of pace. Skulker backpedaled, keeping an eye on the door they just entered from as Olivia and Gears weaved their way through a set of desks with headsets and papers scattered on top of them. Her wing brushed against a massive black board covered in lights and switches. Four cameras ringed a long desk on the set.
“Got any idea what to do?” Skulker asked his brother over his shoulder.
“You’d think a spacefarin’ species would be able to figure shit like this death ray out on their own,” muttered Skulker.
A few light, near inaudible taps caught Olivia’s ears. While any building she’d ever been in had those, these taps came from inside the room, rather than the wall. “Stop,” she said. The triplets’ grips on their guns tightened as they obeyed. She sniffed the air. “There’s something here,” she announced.
Skulker looked around. “I’m not seein’ anythin’.”
“It’s faint, but it’s not old, if that makes any sense.” Her head whipped around at the sound of a couple more taps. “Something is moving.” The trio stood, frozen in concentration. Why can’t I find it?
A pair of telltale whines broke the silence. Skulker teleported as Gears threw himself to the floor. Olivia whirled around to the nearest source of the noise, just in time to catch sight of a laser lance through the air where Skulker had stood a moment before. Another caught her in the back, sending her stumbling from the sharp, burning pain.
“Down!” yelled Skulker.
He and Gears ducked behind some desks. A flurry of lasers glanced off of Olivia’s arm as she joined the triplets under cover. She snarled in pain, the repeated burns marring her arm. Silence fell over the room again.
“This is a problem,” called out Skulker.
“No shit,” barked Gears.
“Shush,” cut in Olivia, kneeling down as far as she could behind a sturdy desk. “Let me listen.” They stopped shooting for a reason. That… That’s how we could tell where they were. Her head tilted as she listened. There.
She wrapped her hands around the edges of the desk and stood, keeping it between her and the circling enemy. A trio of lasers hit the desk, sending up puffs of acrid smoke. She flung the desk at the empty air. It collided with an unseen figure, breaking in half. Lasers from across the room forced her back.
Silence fell once again.
Grenades,” Skulker muttered to Olivia. “Point me in the right direction.”
“There’s at least two,” whispered Gears. “Pass me one.”
Olivia ignored the sound of a metal grenade exchanging hands and focused on the noises around them. They’re trying to get a good angle on us. They must be moving slow if they’re that quiet.
“One by that camera on the far right. It’s going right. The other…” Where is it? That’s the one I hit with a desk. A soft tap caught her ear. Got you. “Two feet in front of that chair, going left.”
Skulker patted Gears on the arm. “Cover your ears,” he muttered to Olivia.
Olivia clasped her hands tight over her ears, ducking down as low as she could fit herself. The shockwaves, barely a second apart, rocked the whole room. I hate explosions, she thought as her tinnitus made itself known again.
She stood. A pair of Siberians shimmered into sight, clad in thin matte grey armor. She rushed for the nearest one, clawed toes digging into the floor as she closed the distance. Behind her, the triplets targeted the second alien. The alien before her let out a guttural roar and brought it’s rifle to bear. Patches of its four arms were still invisible.
Olivia flipped a desk towards the Siberian, blocking its rifle. Before it could recover, she moved in close. Her hand swiped down its chest, leaving four long scratches in the armor. One of the alien’ free hand pounded her in the ribcage, knocking the breath out of her.
She bared her teeth and blocked the next punch to her chest with her elbow. Her free hand hooked towards the Siberian’s rifle. She grabbed the body of the laser gun and punched her claws into the sleek metal. A faint red mist hissed as it escaped the gun. The Siberian let out a panicked growl and released it, backing away from the expanding cloud.
Bad, bad. Her skin tingled where the mist touched it. The gun had gotten stuck on her claw. Get away. She flung her arm to the side, freeing the gun from her fingers and lodging halfway through a wall thirty feet away. She returned her attention to the Siberian, just in time to catch sight of it vanish.
Stupid armor. She wrapped her arms around the alien before it could escape and lifted its feet off the ground. As she slammed its upper body into the ground, it shimmered back to visibility. She brought her foot down on its head. It let out a high pitched yelp, even as two of its arms wrapped around her knee and yanked. Off. Her claws only scratched the surface of the armor on its arms.
The alien climbed up her even as she backpedaled, bringing itself upright. She brought her clenched hands down on the back of its short neck, doing nothing to stop it. A seam in the armor, near its neck, caught her eye. She hooked her claws into the seam and pulled. The metal shrieked as she peeled it off of the Siberian, even as it drove punch after punch into her gut. Finally, her claws met a soft target.
She worked on an arm next. The Siberian realized trying to grapple with her was useless, it held one of its hands over its exposed skin and tried to tear itself free of her grasp. She held on, her claws pulling on her hands as she peeled back more and more of the Siberian’s armor. Go away. She broke the arm, then dug her claws into exposed base of its neck. The alien went still.
Guys? She turned around. The brothers were barely holding their own against the alien. Skulker teleported again and again, keeping the alien’s attention fixed on him. Gears fired again and again with no effect, the spent shotgun shells clattering to the ground with every pull of the trigger.
She twisted and flung the mauled Siberian at its friend. The bulky body hit the other alien in the legs, sending it toppling down. Skulker and Gears jumped at the opening. Gears ran around to behind the Siberian’s head, while his brother lunged at a chink in the arm of its armor with a long knife.
By the time Olivia had rushed over, Skulker had found its head as it struggled to get out from under its comrade. A deep red, nearly black, stream of blood pooled beneath the two bodies.
“I think,” said Skulker, trailing off for a moment to catch his breath. “I think those are soldiers, not whatever the fuck we’ve been fightin’ before.”
“Fuck that,” groaned Gears, leaning heavily against the wall. “Fuck that so hard.”
“Are you guys OK?” asked Olivia.
“In one piece,” replied Gears. “The fuck’s up with your arm?”
She took a look at her right arm, the skin of which had turned blotchy and red. “Oh, there was some gas coming out of that things gun.”
Is it still there? She spun around. The red cloud around the embedded gun had dissipated.
“I guess it’s gone now,” she said, turning back to Gears and Skulker. “It kind of tingles.”
The brothers exchanged looks. “We need to get that checked out real fuckin’ soon.”
She prodded the red portion of her arm. “Its fine. Just tingly. For now.” I hope that red goes away soon. And that it doesn’t do something awful.
“Alright…” said Skulker, trialing off again. “Shit, what were we looking for?”
“Somethin’ to do with their death ray thing,” said Gears.
“Right. Anyone else comin’, ‘liv’?”
She shook her head. “Not that I can hear. Those grenades kind of hurt my ears though, sorry.”
“We need to get you earplugs or somethin’,” said Gears.
“But then I won’t be able to hear people coming,” replied Olivia.
“Discussion for later,” said Skulker. “Let’s get what we came for.”
They spread out across the room, looking for anything that might be connected to their missing brain melting ray schemes. Olivia stopped by a blank space of wall. This smells kind of alien-y. She tapped a knuckle on the wall, meeting far more resistance than normal drywall would have given.
“Here,” she called out.
The brothers rushed over. Together, she and Gears tore the door down, while Skulker watched their back.
Skulker looked inside, laughed, and said, “Never stop bein’ awesome, ‘liv’.”
They stepped into the dimly lit room, with a large camera in the center. It looked normal, so far as Olivia could tell. But there were several sleek metal cables attached to it, as well as a tiny chip on the side.
“Well, you’re the techie, the fuck’s goin’ on here?” asked Skulker.
“I got no clue. Lemme take a couple pictures an’ shoot ‘em over to Amanda, see if she’s got anythin’ to say.”
Olivia and Skulker spread out across the room as Gears circled the device with phone raised. One entire wall was covered in flowing alien scrawls. Olivia could only spend a few seconds looking at it before it felt like it was twisting her eyes in knots.
“They got it to work,” announced Gears, eyes fixed on the screen of his phone. “Rough guess, she says it can kill people through their TVs now.”
“They’re gonna wipe out a whole lot of people if they got every one of their TV stations with one of these things. They might not kill important people, but they’ll kill a whole lot of people,” said Skulker.
“US ain’t the whole world. Can’t exactly do this without someone else nukin’ them,” pointed out Gears.
“Yeah, this kind of ray don’t just work in the US. What if they got every TV in Europe covered? Or Australia, or Asia? They could be fuckin’ anywhere.”
“Wouldn’t it be a better idea to tell, you know, the world?” asked Olivia. This sounds like a super big problem.
“That’s what I’m thinking. Let’s wrap up here, then we gotta get to the cops. This ain’t about us anymore. Siberians could kill a stupid amount of people very soon if we keep our mouths shut.”