February 18th, 2034
All signs pointed south, so, south it was.
My reasons for going back were two fold, I had to see for myself what was going down at the plant, – and, if it were the band of kids in trouble, maybe there was something I could do to help.
I’m glad I went.
Not only were the kids in trouble, but I also solved the mystery of the production facility.
First things first.
I followed the parade south and by sunrise on the 16th I was a mile southeast of the LAX facility taking shelter in the torched shell of a strip mall. Alien symbols scrawled on the outside of the wrecked complex indicated the building had been cleared a few hours earlier, which meant they wouldn’t be back for at least a few more. It was the perfect place to grab some shut-eye before I was back at it again.
No sooner had I closed my eyes when the building shook. I sprang to my feet, my .357 in hand. I slipped outside to have a look. Off in the west, no more than two miles away, flashes of an ominous red light peppered the early morning sky and a trio of warbirds hovered overhead.
The raid on the kids of No Man’s Land had begun.
I scooped up my gear and headed west. I was betting the troopers would take the kids to the air base for questioning rather than kill them on the spot. After all, they were only children, some no more than ten years old. There had to be adults running the show somewhere, right? At least, I hoped that’s what the Threak were thinking.
And, if they were of that mindset, – taking them to the air base for questioning, then it meant traveling up the Pacific Coast Highway.
I could catch up with them two miles south of Santa Monica. One mile north of where I was standing. I knew I could make it there before the transports, no matter what route they’d chosen, but I’d have to move fast.
I lit out from the strip mall and ran north by northeast. I figured I had fifteen minutes, twenty tops. I hadn’t time to worry about the warbirds, I just lowered my head and ran. If they got me, they got me.
When I hit the junction fifteen minutes later I spotted the first of the three transports rambling up the road. A half of a mile separated us and the gap was closing fast. I had enough juice for one more Molotov cocktail and I had to make it count. My best bet was to stop the lead transport and see what I could make happen from there.
My target was fifty feet away when I lit the rag and ran straight up the road at the driver. His bulging eyes grew another two sizes as he realized what I’d just released from my left hand.
Welcome to Happy Hour.
I smiled, he frowned, – and, we both knew I was right on target.
The bottle met the windshield with smashing results.
Flames spread across the windshield and the vehicle veered sharply to the right, braking hard as it did so. The front left quarter of the vehicle hugged tightly to the road as the right rear heavy transport lurched upward and came up off the ground.
The second transport never braked at all.
It struck the right rear bumper of the leading transport with great force, sending the hapless vehicle tumbling end over end down the road. Dust and debris filled the air as the transport twisted and turned. Three and a quarter rotations later the vehicle came to rest on its left side. The rear door of the transport had been ripped off in the crash and five or six kids, having just escaped though the gaping hole, shot past me to the east. I peered into the transport just long enough to confirm it was empty and when I turned I found a trooper towering over me.
I dropped to one knee and squeezed off a half dozen rounds at the hulking figure, hitting him squarely in the chest. The creature simply stood there, looking straight ahead. Slowly his gaze fell down upon me, his expression said it all, he’d never seen it coming. A thick blue blood oozed from his body and he dropped his weapon and fell forward.
Tough luck, dude.
I was up and running before his furry body hit the ground.
The other two troopers of his pod responded, blasters drawn, and I could feel them drawing a bead on me as ran for cover. At any moment I was a dead man and would have been so if the crashed transport behind them hadn’t inexplicably, and belatedly, exploded. The blast knocked the two aliens off their feet, giving me the extra seconds I needed to clear the area and slip anonymously into the rubble.
And, safely hidden away in the rubble is where I stayed for two days and two nights.
The enemy finally cleared the area around noon today, almost fifty-six hours after they’d arrived. I crawled out of the rubble and made my way south toward the LAX facility. It lay another quarter mile south by southwest and because of the crash I expected security around the place would be tight, but what I found when I got there was ridiculous.
The Threak had formed a protective circle around the perimeter of the facility. Every sixty feet a battle-dressed trooper stood guard, his blaster at the ready. I estimated their numbers to be more than two thousand strong with fresh troops being added by the hour.
I resigned myself to never finding out what was being produced inside, when I realized the answer was right in front of me all along. They weren’t producing, they were taking.
They’re bottling the seawater.
The symbols at the facility match the ones on the trooper’s canteens. They need the salt water to survive. Why hadn’t I make the connection before?
Not only have I found a way onto the air base, it looks like I may have found a way into their bodies as well.