Following the Night

Chapter 7 Night Mission


The moon's color just felt wrong, while bright and almost full, it seemed to bring the fog to life. Because the Rover moved slow the wafts of fog seemed to hug the vehicle and slither across it. And the fog wasn't white or gray like one would expect, but more of a gray brown which changed as it moved.

Black figures sat in the middle of the passing fields. Brian forced himself to believe that they were old tree trucks or farm equipment. But the logical part of his mind had to concede that many of them were the remains of creatures.

Like art created by unholy daemons these alien sculptures of flesh could be found anywhere large creatures roamed. Taking a break from his own thoughts Brian glanced at his fourteen year old partner. The young man sat, gun in hand, and watched the surroundings for signs of trouble. While still a kid, he could be remarkable at times. He had even saved Brian's life once. And the scenes, which could tear down the walls of sanity, seemed to have little affect him.

When Chris saw Brian looking at him he asked "So why did you take me instead of dad?". Brian cleared his thoughts and his throat "Your dad has been feeling bad lately. He has all the signs of the flu though I can't be certain, not a hundred percent. He has a fever and we couldn't take the chance that he might get worse."

Chris turned to look back at the road, he worried about his dad some but fear and responsibility kept his mind sharp and his eyes moving. Mile after mile they crept their way to town. The eerie light made shadows move in the road ahead as they entered the wooded areas. At about two miles outside of Springfield, they came over a hill to find their path was blocked by a strange balloon like creature. Brian yanked the wheel just missing it to the left. After clearing the thing he mashed the gas. Chris yelled "It just exploded in a puff of smoke".

Brian looked in the mirror and wondered at the strange event. Why so many different mutations, and why are they so specific. Random mutations shouldn't lead to new species like this, and not creatures that are all monsters. The creatures that are dead appear to have been in some kind of mutate transformation. Yet the living creatures tend to have traits for killing or injuring.

UFOs and snow stuff and death and mutants.

That's when the realization hit him like a ton of bricks. He thought "These mutations aren't random at all. The mutations were designed. They're designer mutations, with the intent of forming the very creatures which now plague the earth." Brian's heart raced at the thought. He realized that instead of fighting strange mutated creatures, he was now fighting designed killers. He wondered at what other surprises might await them. He would spend the rest of the trip pondering this theory.

As they entered town Brian slowed and told Chris to keep a sharp lookout.  Both Chris and Brian expected creatures to jump out of every building and from around every corner. Yet as they past by the first openings nothing emerged.

They entered the heart of Springfield. The larger buildings loomed high in the distance and seemed to sway in the lifting fog. Most doorways were set back in the buildings not allowing the moon's light to touch them. The alley's and store windows hid all they contained while everything in the open was easy to see. Moon shadows created so many dark areas that ambush seemed inevitable.

The moon was at its brightest. The brightest since it all had started. The one bad side affect was that it allowed them to see the dark sculptures. The flesh piles that were scattered about. While there were few, each seemed to contain some part which could be identified as human. Brian imagined that they were much like the piles found around the shelter. Mutated masses of body parts some containing skin or fur some just meat. The piles contained from one to an unknown amount of creatures or beings. It was straight out of a horror movie. Yet they pushed on.

The air was still and the fog had lifted. Even the few clouds were thin and wispy. The Rover moved at a crawl as it neared the gas station. Brian stopped the Rover within sight of it. He turned off the engine and they both rolled down their windows. A lone cricket chirped in the distance, music by any other name. The sounds of the city were gone, the silence was both welcome and frightening at the same time.

Brian  allowed the Rover to roll down the hill to the station. There was a tanker truck at the gasstation. Brian and Ted had seen it on the first trip to town. Ted wanted Brian to check it out. The silence was broken by the sound of their doors closing and their footsteps. The noise seemed to echo outward in every direction.

They walked past the fuel pumps and up to the black Tanker Cab. Brian opened the truck's door and finding nothing inside he climbed in. Everything seemed in order, the driver had evidently bolted during the events of that day.

The inside looked as good as new, though covered with a thin layer of dust. Even the battery still had life. Climbing down he announced "The truck looks good, It may even run, we'll come back and get it soon. Lets hurry now and get some gas cans."

They quickly gathered four large gas cans and ran back to the Rover. Then they drove to Industrial One, a corporate fire training facility located in town. On the training grounds they found the two tanks that contained the fuels used in training. They drove right up to the tanks.

Chris had guard duty while Brian filled the cans. It took few minutes to figure out the valves but Brian soon had all four cans filled. He had just begun to use one of the cans to fill his own vehicle when Chris quietly said " Something is floating over the wall " pointing "over there". Brian continued filling the tank. " Just keep watching it, tell me if it does anything" he whispered. "10-4" whispered Chris.

The creatures gentle motions carried it around the far side of the training field. It seemed to be floating in no specific pattern as if it were a runaway balloon. Though hard to make out from a distance, the creature appeared small and bloated. It continued to float back and forth across the six foot high brick wall making no aggressive actions.

For three minutes it floated in its random pattern then Brian dropped one of the plastic gas cans. It was completely full and some splashed on the ground adding to the noise. The creature turned and slowly headed in their direction. As it advanced Chris began to see features which made him think of a fish.

"It looks like a fish Brian" Said Chris. Brian was already watching it and said " Wait until it gets closer before you fire, I don't want to alert everything in town to our presence until then."

The fish came within twenty feet so Brian stopped what he was doing and started throwing rocks at it. When a rock finally hit it, the fish popped like a balloon. With a smile Brian looked at Chris saying "Alright! Di...." BOOOM the fish exploded in a ball of hydrogen fire sending burning fish parts in all directions. The force was strong enough to rock the Rover and send Brian and Chris hurtling to the ground. Brian was dazed, he could feel pain in his left arm and hand. Someone was pulling on him. "Chris?" he said.

As his mind came back into focus he could hear Chris saying "Come on Brian, run! Please Brian, wake up.". Brian stood with Chris's help and half jogged to the exit of the fire grounds.

They walked down Irvin St. until they came to the corner of 3rd avenue. "Stop" said Brian "let me clear my head and rest a little. What happened?". Chris looked in the direction of the fire grounds saying "The fish exploded and fire landed everywhere, some must have landed in that gas you spilled. The Rover was burning and I was..." boom, the blast from the three other gas cans lit up the night followed by two smaller explosions."

Brian thought for a moment, there was no time to consider his blunder. They were in trouble and they needed a way out quick. The only idea he could come up he told Chris "We need to get to the truck we saw back at the gas station". Chris just smiled and nodded.

They headed across the street and past a Mr. Oil station when  one of the strange humanoids stepped from around the corner. Brian didn't stop running but lifted his pistol up sharply catching the creature just where the face should be. The sound was meaty and squishy at the same time. Blood was on Brian's hand, his weapon had deeply penetrated the creature. It fell back completely unconscious.

Chris was so impressed he almost forgot to keep moving and had to catch up with Brian. As they neared the next store store entrance shots rang out hitting the wall to their left. Brian darted in the appliance store's entrance, Chris right on his heels. He never stopped moving but went straight to the side entrance, still unlocked since that fateful day, and into a small alley.

He made a left and came out behind the store. They then ran the entire length of a strip mall and crossed Main St. They jogged down 3rd until it meet Hwy 52. There they turned right and could see the top of the gas station's tall sign. Chris spotted a creature standing at the top of the rise and grabbed Brian.

They stopped, and tried not to make a move. The creature seemed to be waving a weapon of some sort. Looking around Brian spotted a ditch lined with bushes. They both crouched down and slid into the thick shrubbery and down into the ditch.

Brian whispered to the heavy breathing Chris "Check you weapon, all I have is a pistol". They both took time to check their weapons. One .243 hunting rifle with five rounds and one 9mm hand gun with a total of 30 rounds. They both knew they were in no position to attack.

After five minutes of waiting and watching, movement could be seen in every direction.

Chapter 8 Owners Manual not Included

Ted laughed in spite of his sickness. It was the laugh of a man trying to comfort someone. He said " They're just fine, they will come back soon, you'll see. Now dear will you get breakfast started, they'll be hungry when they get here."

Ted didn't let his own doubts show as he laid in bed. Brian and Chris were supposed to have been back before daybreak and they still hadn't returned. His sickness appeared to have been from the leftover hamburger he had snacked on. And aside from the frequent trips to the latrine, he was feeling much better.

Still very weak he decided that he would soon get out of bed but not just yet. Then he fell asleep again.

The scene in the kitchen was different, Hope was in one corner of the kitchen chopping potatoes into hash browns. Her fingers stayed to close to the shredder as she ran the potato across its surface.

Tears flowed and hit the edge of the counter. She was glad she was facing the cabinets, she didn't want the others to see her cry.

Linda stayed busy warming beans in a pan. In the beans she put the last of their ham hock for flavor. She thought about how many times they had had beans. But still the canned beans were stacked high in the pantry part of the storage closet. Though everyone was tired of them the adults didn't complain out loud. There was still plenty of cereal for the kids that didn't want beans. And Everyone would love the hash browns.

Potatoes stay good for a long time in the cool underground air. Ted had bought out the store when the strangeness began. But there were few of them left in the eating pile now and those were beginning to turn into potato plants. The planting pile was  large and Ted would soon be using them to start a new crop.

Linda looked over at Hope. She could just see the side of hope's face. She saw the tears and how Hope's body shook as she cried silently. Linda was tough, strong of character and of body. But even a strong women like herself had few defenses against the possible loss of a child. Watching Hope cry the way she was only made matters worse.

Hope turned to see if Linda was watching. With a teary frown and with no sound she mouthed the word "Why?" to Linda. Linda turned off the stove and walked to Hope. She took hope's hands off the grater and lead her to the couch. They sat there for a little while when Freddie entered the room.

"Why you cry mommy?" he asked. Linda opened her arms and called him to her. Soon, all the children and women sat on the couch in the middle of the shelter and prayed and comforted each other.

The sun in the strange sky was welcomed by Brain and Chris. They had stayed in the ditch for hours waiting for a good moment to make a run for it. Chris's face appeared pale due to the temperature but every time Brain asked him if he was ok, he just smiled and said he was fine.

They had spent most of the time huddled together for warmth occasionally poking their heads out to see if the coast was clear. They had been very fortunate to find the ditch. It provided almost perfect cover. The only flaw being at the east end. If a creature walked right past the east end the pair would be completely exposed.

Brian's left Hand was still in pain. In the morning's light he looked to his burns. He pushed up the blacked sleeve of his cotton shirt to reveal first degree burns on twenty percent of his left arm. Not very dangerous but it hurt a lot. His left hand was another story. Without any material protecting it, there were seconded degree burns across the entire back of the wrist, hand and four fingers. The blisters were large and the skin very red. He needed to get first aid and antibiotics.  

Neither noticed as a noise began creeping up in their heads. It was a familiar noise and their brains didn't register it as odd for the first few seconds. The noise grew quickly and soon both Brain and Chris were scanning the sky for the noise maker. The F-15 Eagle Screamed by over head.

Chris had never seen one before. Through fits of joy Brain explained that it was considered by many to be America's best all purpose fighter. They wanted to jump for joy. They wanted to run and tell the others. But they were quickly brought back down to earth when several of the creatures ran past the east end of the trench. They buried their bodies against the sides of the trench and watched several more go by.
"The jet must have stirred them up a bit." said Brain. Chris nodded.

Taking a chance, Brian poked his head up and looked out of the row of bushes. Everything appeared still and quite now. "There's not a creature in sight." he told Chris. He slid back down into the ditch. He quickly made a plan in his head. "This may be our only chance Chris, we need to get to that truck and get it running."he explained, as he looked Chris in the eyes.

The limbs of the bushes scraped Brian in his hurry. The already highly sensitive skin on his left arm and hand burned like fire. But his adrenaline and focus left little room for pain. He didn't even notice as the fluid from several open blisters ran down his hand and coated his 9 mm.

They scrambled across he street and followed it up the slope. The gas station loomed large as they ran the final hundred yards to the truck. As fast as he could Brian jumped on the step and opened the semi's driver side door. Brian silently thanked the former driver again for switching the engine off before he left the vehicle.

Brian tried to recall his limited experience with large trucks as Chris climbed over him and moved into the other seat. Brian turned the key, the motor rumbled to life. Though the engine ran poorly it did continue to run. Brian fumbled with the controls for what seemed like an eternity. Finally he got the big rig into first gear.

They started so slow that Chris thought the semi might die but through the noise and pandemonium of big machines gear system. The Peterbuilt semi continued to gain speed. Brian jammed it into second and the engine noise began to sound better.

Gun fire could be heard as the rig accelerated. Bullets ricocheted many times but none reached the truck's cab. Heads low they mentally willed the truck forward.

Brian knew the city of Springfield very well but the rig was now entering a part that he hadn't traveled since before the nightmare. He had chosen this new path due to it's downhill slope which allowed him to gain speed quickly. As his skill at driving the rig grew he increased his speed. Yet time after time he was forced to slow to avoid vehicles in the street.

Reaching the end of the street he turned left which lead down another small hill. At the bottom of that hill he turned right on Dickerson Pike which was a large highway leading out of town.Traffic was heavy on the highway and soon it began a respectable upward slope. Gun toting mutants could be seen running down a brush filled slope to the right, but they wouldn't be fast enough to get in front of the rig. Brian increased his speed just in case.

Three hundred yards further Chris yelled making Brain's head snap back to the road in front of him. A glistening ball of clear gelatin could be seen just up ahead on the left side of the road. "What the He.." yelled Brian as he swerved to give the creature a wide birth.

Something clear and nasty coated the window of the rig right in front of Brian. He let out a "AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" that extended all the way through the following events and became louder the closer they got to the intersection.

His sight was hindered as they arrived at the intersection that was already going to be a tight fit. The whole rig shuttered as it struck the 1997 Corolla. The semi's left bumper impacted the Corolla hard enough that a spray of plastic showered the rig and the car went airborne.Brian, still yelling, looked out his driver's side window in time to see the car flip slowly end over end. He was amazed as the car slid over a Navigator and pinned the creature blob against a smaller car. Giant slices could be seen in the gelatin and fluid poured to the ground.

Chris said "Look" pointing at the window. A hole had appeared in it at the middle of the goo. The smell of dirty feet permeated the air. A light smoke came off the edges of the hole. Brian was just glad he could see through it again.

Five miles (about 8 kilometers) later they were headed back home on Treasure Drive. The going was slow and allowed them time to talk. "I didn't know if we would make back there." said Chris unable to control a smile on his face. " I know what you mean, did you see that car land right on the blob thing. I mean, what's the chance of that." responded Brain. Chris laughed "Oh, I thought you meant to do that?" he could hardly control himself.

They talked as two men, happy to be alive and knowing that their own skill and luck had granted them escape. They talked of stupid flying fish, one punch knockouts and flying cars of death. But of all things they spoke of, none was more promising than the flight of the lone human aircraft. The F-15 Eagle showed that humanity had survived and was fighting back.

Back at the shelter everyone continued to pray and worry. The watch tower was manned throughout the day as if it might bring them home sooner somehow. The tension from the adults had spilled over to the children. Nicole was old enough to sense that something was wrong with daddy and started asking for him. Over and over she asked when daddy was getting home until Hope yelled at her to stop. Then
she felt terrible as her daughter cried. Hope tried to reassure her, but the scene just made her

that much more sad. Every few minutes she would whisper "Please come home Brian." The noise from the large diesel truck could be heard from the shelter as the two adventurers turned into Ted's long driveway. It was nice to hear the sound of the gravel drive under the huge tires.

Chris had always liked that sound, but now it was like magic.The whole family including Ted and the dog were there to greet them. They pulled the rig into a spot that Ted was pointing at and turned off the diesel engine. Stepping out of the rig they were mauled by the family. Joy and kisses, hugs and worry about Brian's wounds were everywhere. "Hey, shouldn't someone be in that tower with all the noise we're making?" asked Brian out loud. He was hoping to break the group up a bit.

"I'll go" said Chris and he headed straight for the tower followed by the his two younger brothers."Thanks." said Brian in a smart way, knowing that Chris had taken his opportunity to get out of the group.

"Lets all go inside, I'll tell you all about it when I've ate and rested some. It's been a long night." Said brian heading for the shelter entrance. "But what about your hand dear?" asked a worried Hope. "It's not too bad really, but I will need Ted's first aid kit." They all walked as a happy group back inside the shelter.

Only Chris remained outside. He watched from his lofty perch enjoying the weather. He spent his alone time remembering his part in the adventure. He now felt like a man more than ever before. He had tried every day to make the adults proud of him, but now things were different, he was different.

Inside the women cooked up a large meal and placed it on the dining table. They called Chris inside and rounded up the children. With everyone gathered they said a prayer and sat down to eat. Then the story was told to everyone, the gory details would be left out and told to the adults at a later date. Still the story was good and the whole family considered themselves fortunate to have each other.

Only the warm protective comfort of the shelter let Brian sleep that night. His dreams were haunted, but that was nothing new.

Chapter 9 Chaos

Waking the next day Brian found that he had overslept. He walked into the kitchen just as Chris was finishing breakfast, "everyone else finished an hour ago" said chris as he got up. As chris hurried for the door Brian laughed "Where ya going so fast son?". " I'm going outside to check out the truck" yelled Chris as he ran out the open shelter door.

Hope sat down beside Brian and starred at him. She needed to tell him how lost she had felt. She stayed with him through his breakfast sharing with him her feelings of fear and happiness. Brian listened to her as she describe her love for him. He was not the type to speak of his own feelings but when she finished he kissed her forehead and said "I love you dear".

When Hope got up to check on the children Brain rubbed his tired eyes and took notice of his surroundings. The light from the open door caste shadows across the walls. The reddish tint from the strange sky only added to the gloomy feeling of the shelter. Brian decided to exit his depressing burrow. He thought he might feel better if he started the work they had planned to do that day. It would be a long day.

As Brian got to the top of the hill he could see Ted kneeling by the tankers valve section. "Well Ted, figured it out yet?". It was the same question that everyone else had been asking all day. Ted had been working on the problem for the last two hours and wasn't in the best of moods. "No, not yet if you must know, it must have some kind of safety.". Brian decided to leave the engineer alone so he walked up to the cab where chris was playing with the controls.

Brian climbed up the two steps and asked Chris to move over. As Brian slid into the drivers seat he noticed several controls that they had over looked the night before. Brian found that he enjoyed messing with all the buttons and knobs almost as much as Chris.

Chris continued to play with the controls as his left hand accidental got caught on a thin cable hanging from the ceiling. The truck's air horn blared causing everyone to jump and two of the children began crying. Chris shrank in his seat, he felt very small and just wanted to hide. Nerves were on edge so Brian yelled out the window "Our fault! Won't happen again."

Ten minutes past and everyone was breathing a little easier. There didn't seem to be any response to the air horn. "Hang in there Chris, and be more careful." said Brain as he continued to search for a control that might help Ted. "What did you say?" Asked Chris. "I said Hang in ..." Chris interrupted "no, after that". "I didn't say anything after that."

A few minutes later Chris said "Did you hear that?". Brian looked up at Chris and just before he could answer he heard something. It was something that sounded like a small voice. "Shhhhhhhhh" said Brian trying to determine the source of the sound. He decided it was to his left. But Chris was looking to his right. Both realized at the same time that the noise came from speakers in the trucks doors.

Brian jerked back up and turned up the radio that Chris had left on. The voice had a lot of static but it was definitely a human voice. The voice said "the hill just outside of Middleton. I will be transmitting this every hour. If anyone can hear me I'm at the radio station on the hill just outside of Middleton. I will be transmitting this every hour." The voice took a sad tone "I'm alone and I'm hoping someone is out there. I signing off now."

Chris must have inadvertently turned on the radio while messing with the controls. The long since mutated driver's favorite station was WSRQ 102.5. That station's transmitter was housed in Middleton.

Brian and Chris jump out of both sides of the truck and ran to find the rest of the family. As they neared the group huddled at the back of the truck Brian opened his mouth to get everyone's attention. But before he could speak he felt the air vibrating. His ears itched as the vibrations grew. "Everyone get down" yelled Ted in a voice that was filled with the vibrations.

The ground began to shake and the tin roof on the house echoed the vibrations as if the sound somehow possessed it.

The Battleship and it's escorts flew over.

Fear. Hearts beating at great speed. Dread and fear for their future. Fear for all of mankind. The ship's sound reached down into them and shook them to their core. The shadow of the Battleship crossed the field in front of the house only adding to the terror. The ships moved strangely slow as if fearing nothing. A small bird flew by altering the scene by its appearance.

The huge craft cause fifty mile per hour gusts (about 80 kilometer/hour) as it flew fairly close to the ground. The trees bent, dust flew around the group getting in their eyes. The noise was deafening the scene completely chaotic.

Amidst the madness Brian somehow managed to overcome the fear and looked up at the monstrosity. As he Examined the ship through sqinted eyes, he couldn't help but marvel that such a large object could defy gravity.

The ship itself didn't look like the generic saucer that had been commonly associated with spacecraft. It more resembled the head of a bug, roundish with pincers coming out of the front on either side. The color was a metalic white and along its surface was attached many devices of unknown ability. While many of these protrusions must have had mundane uses,it gave the impression that the ship bristled with weapons at the ready.

The three smaller ships flew in formation around the larger ship. These craft where as large or larger than a F-15. They appeared to a have the same shape as the ship they escorted and possessed the abilty to defy gravity in same impossible way.

Though terrified by the terrific display Brian felt somewhat relieved to finally be able to put a face to the cause of the earth's worries.

Fifteen minutes after the ships left the family sat on the ground waiting for the affects to wear off. Strangely the children didn't cry. In fact no sound could be heard at all. The madness of sound and wind had been replaced by stillness and quiet. It seemed to Brian that time stood still.

The world came back to life as a cool gust of wind blew across the farm. As if waking out of a dream everyone began taking and crying at once. The noise they made, made it hard to tell what anyone was saying. Ted held and comforted Linda, it was the first time he had seen her cry in years. Hope, who did cry on occasion, was doing just that while holding her daughter.

Brian was strangely calm and was trying to understand what Chris was yelling and pointing at. Chris kept jumping and pointing like a madman. Suddenly Brian could see something too, but all the noise was irritating him and made it difficult to think.

In a Loud, almost harsh voice Brian said "Quiet everyone". Silence once again prevailed, allowing for a soft distant noise to be heard. Tiny specks appeared against the clouds far far away. "Jets" thought Brian, he counted them. He counted three but Chris told him he had seen two other groups of three. The earth had an airforce.

The family's hopes were lifted so they watched the sky. They waited a long time for signs of the jets that had flow past. They waited as if their lives depended on it. Then slowly one by one three small specks appeared, then a forth. They were flying back toward the direction they had come from.

As the family began a little celebration another jet came into view. It was smoking and seemed to be losing altitude. It was coming much closer than the previous jets. Fire could be seen trailing it at times and the whole plane appeared to be slowly spinning as the nose turned downward.

Brain held the binoculars to his eyes. He scanned for more than a minute when he finally saw the parachute. "How far away is it?" he wondered. "I see a parachute" yelled Chris excitedly. Brian looked over at Ted "Ted, we need to talk. We need to decide if we want to try and rescue this guy." As he finished his sentence the forth jet came back into view. It did three flybys over the downed craft. Once it even flew over the farm.

Harold Trace, everyone called him Flip, was on his eighteenth mission for the Council of Earth (COE). He knew that most of the time the craft would just fly out of radar range. During three of his missions other aircraft had arrived first. If fact he had only made contact with enemy forces just five times.

But this time was different. This time they were attacking the battleship that had been roaming the United States east coast for the last month. This time the first squadron in had been totally annihilated with only one confirmed kill. But Flip stayed sharp, he used the fear to guide him. The adrenaline quickened his reflexes and cleared his head. He was going into combat mode again.

He could feel that rush " This time it's strong" he thought " Much like the first mission I flew. No, stronger than that, more like the first contact mission I flew." thoughts of that mission entered his head. He thought about how that little alien scout ship had filled him with such fear back then. How now his ship sported five pictures of alien craft, One for each kill. And how he was the COE's first fighter Ace.

Flip was flying the new F-15U. This top secret version of America's premiere fighter sported the new Amram-u missile. This missile had a range of 40 miles and a payload able to destroy most alien craft in one shot. It was specially designed to combat the alien threat and it was even rumored to have some alien technology in its construction.

"There they are" he thought. He watched the formation for weaknesses. The battleship was in the middle and slightly behind the two smaller craft. The fighter craft on the left showed visible damage and was even listing to the right a little.

There was no need for communication with his wing men, the plan had been drawn up a week ago and only a change in that plan was reason for breaking radio silence. Flip was well above his target and was just about to start his first run when both alien fighter craft broke formation and turn to face the CEO forces.

Roy(Roy), the pilot to the left, hit the afterburner and flew past Flip. George(radio), to flip's right, banked off to the right. Flip wished them the best but could no longer think about them, his entire focus was with the battleship.

Energy bolts released from the battleship cut through the air around Flips F-15. Only his constant maneuvering kept his little craft in the air. The tricks he used that day would have put a stunt pilot to shame. Flip banked and turned many times reaching the limits of his own endurance. But this day was his best. This day he flew flawlessly, and in so doing gained on the battleship.

At maximum range he fired his first two Amrams then continued his fancy flight. He was still gaining on the Goliath. The first Amram had disintegrated, weather by energy bolt or some kind of defensive mechanism Flip didn't know. He lost sight of the second missile as it neared the target. The battleship's constant firing was becoming much more accurate at the closer range. Flip found it almost impossible to avoid the energy bolts and line up with the massive ship at the same time. He wondered if he would ever get another lock-on.

His mind throughly on dodging the in-coming energy bolts he didn't notice that the huge ship was turning to face him. By the time he did he knew it was already to late. His next instinct was a dive that took him to tree top level. He could feel the effects of being so close to the ground but instead of slowing he pushed he plane even faster. In and out of he hills he flew. Bolts landed on the ground all around him. He couldn't think of a plan, only fly fast and low.

It was about this time that his wing man Roy saw his flight leader's predicament. The young pilot attacked the behemoth at full speed. Energy bolts missed his plane by less than a foot but he continued his dive.

Flip noticed a momentary lull in the blasts being fired. He yanked up hard on the stick. His plane came upward in a wide arc. Looking over his head he could see the battleship. Then he saw it. The damage from his lost missile had somehow been taken underneath the large ship. The hole was over twenty feet ( 3 meters) wide. Flip lined up his plane. He was very very close when the lock-on tone finally sounded. Roy's plane flew past him as he released his remaining missiles. Flying straight and true they all impacted the vessel, one flew through the hole created by the first impact.

Flip flipped his plane over and pushed hard on the stick. He was thankful that he didn't witness the explosion as it caused the ground cover below to be bathed in a pure white light so intense that Flip was forced to squint his eyes. The turbulance would last for a full five seconds.

Then a loud noise was heard. Flip could only guess he had been struck by some of the debris. Through his cockpit window he could see pieces of the alien craft flying past his plane. Several panel lights came on and the emergency warning noise sounded in his ear piece. He quickly called a mayday in while he struggled to keep his plane level. The problem seemed be getting worse over time.

Roy soon joined Flip "Flip you have smoke trailing and a gash in the aft part of your port wing. Wait a moment there's more." Flip's fear grew with the length of the pause. "holy shis Flip you have a hole as big as a toaster just under that wing." Flip grimaced at the news. He had been hoping to crawl back to base but it looked like that wouldn't happen. Over the next ten minutes he found it very hard to keep his altitude and he was constantly drifting east of where he wanted to go.

"Where's Radio?" asked Flip in a deflated tone. " I don't know flip, I haven't seen him or the craft he went after since the fight began. And I'm not able to contact him." Radio was never heard from again.

The plane started jerking and shaking until Flip could no longer control it. It would only be a matter of time before Flip lost so much altitude that he was forced to eject from his plane.

He thought about the friends and loved ones that he had lost in the tragic alien attack. How many were mutated he didn't know. He did know that less than one in one hundred people changed and most of those died early on. That gave him some comfort. He prayed, something he rarely did during those days. By the time he finished his thoughts and prayers it was time to eject.

Flip waited for the slowly spinning plane to turn so that the cockpit pointed skyward then pulled the release. He braced himself for the rush of the rocket assisted escape seat. The whole exit went flawlessly and soon he found himself floating to earth somewhere in Tennessee. He laughed to himself thinking " I always wanted to go to Tennessee."

His fear grew as he neared the unknown terrain. All the wicked stories started coming to his mind. Above him Roy flew by, he would fly over two more times before being ordered back to base. There was some comfort in knowing that three other downed pilots had been saved by helicopter. "Funny" he thought " They never tell you how many didn't get rescued".

With a loud thud and determined look, Harold Trace landed on earth and started working toward his survival.

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UFO Series Box
Rights Holder: ALTAR Games

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UFO Series

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