Skyscraper Archipelago – part 2
Each member of the team wore body cameras and the production crew had small and tiny drones that would send live feeds back to the networks. Will Marshal and the others boarded a fancy hovercraft that would move them swiftly into position.
“This is your host Rod Travers. The team led by Will Marshal is moving toward the starting point but before they arrive I want to show you a snippet of a Q&A session with this new hero. Roll that tape.”
On the screen the host and Will Marshal sat facing each other in a darkened studio.
“I have a few questions that your fans have suggested. They would like to know what you think the odds are of you surviving this trip?” Rod Travers asked, leaning forward with a slight smile to suggest this was not his question.
“Oh, I think it far exceeds ninety percent. If worse comes to the worse, I'll dive into the sea and take the metro home.” Will Marshal said and flashed a bright smile.
Rod Travers nodded and then checked the notes he was holding. “My second question is a hypothetical one. It's been about a year, what do you think the aliens want? Will their ships come back?”
Will Marshal lost the smile. “I don't think there is any way to know their goal, yet. I'm sure the ships will come back, assuming they ever left. They might be hanging around up there.”
The interview vanished and a closer view of the hovercraft from the air appeared on the screens of those watching.
“Back to a live look. The team is nearing the starting point. This time they will start at the Redstone Hotel where it's heliport barely rises above the water. The larger tower rises another ten stories giving plenty of space for the aliens that might be there.” The voice of Rod Travers explained as the hovercraft slowed and then stopped, settling into the water as it barely bounced off the wall.
Crew members of the hovercraft held it there against the building while the team disembarked. The plan was for the hovercraft to stay two hundred feet or more away, waiting for the retrieval signal to be sent.
Mikhail Khabarovsk was a large and powerful man, he carried the most equipment despite carrying the fuel for his flame thrower as well. Anders Lang carried a gun that fired rounds that could change course, at least slightly, depending on the distance to the target. The young Japanese man who had refused to give his real name had constructed a couple of armed drones.
“The four young men from different parts of the world have climbed up to the heliport atop the smaller wing of the Redstone Hotel. They seem to be checking their equipment and planning some strategy before the enter the taller wing.” Rod Travers commented. “Before that we have time for a little Q&A with the biggest man there, Mikhail Khabarovsk,”
The camera cut away, back to the dark set where only two seats are illuminated. This time the large Russian was sitting in the seat.
“Mikhail. There are plenty of rumors about the aliens. One of the most prevalent is that there are governments who know all about why they are here. Do you think it is possible that government agencies might have made deals with aliens?”
The large man smiled. “I'm Russian. Our government is famously corrupt and has always been since long before the Tsars. Of course I could believe it, but I would need a little more evidence.”
“Why do you think the aliens have been allowed to stay? Why hasn't the government of the US taken out these buildings with their submarines or through aerial bombing?” Rod Travers asked,
A voice from off-camera said something unintelligible, both men looked over in surprise. “I guess we'll move on...”
Then it cut away back to a live shot of the men walking into the taller section of the Redstone Hotel. Then showed the images from their body cameras and helmet cams.
The voice of Rod Travers commentated over the scene of the men walking through a shady corridor, getting darker the further they walk inside. “The aliens use some sort of electrical bridge to move between the buildings. You've seen them, they glow a bright orange. These aliens do not even attempt to evade detection. They are not trying to hide.”
They are walking through a wide corridor when double doors in front of them explode across the hall and shatter against the far wall. One of the aliens was quickly in front of them, it looked like a small Tyrannosaurus Rex. It roared at the humans before Mikhail opened up with the flame thrower.
“Burn in hell!” The Russian yelled in clear English as the alien squirmed and moved away, seeking some relief from the pain of the flames. Then it whipped its tail and the Russian was flying backwards, landing awkwardly on his rear end. Something flashed over him and he heard loud gunshots and the alien moved away.
It was Tokyo, he had sent a drone against the present enemy.
“Back this way!” Will Marshal took the initiative. Some of the natives had taken off. “We need to get out of here.”
Before they even attempt to make a mistake another alien was blocking the corridor they had just come down for. Now they had aliens on either side of them. Occasional shots from Will's micro rail-gun at the two-legged creature proved it didn't do much damage to them.
Mikhail shot flames at the second alien and it backed up warily. It wasn't afraid of the fire enough to actually run away though. “These weapons aren't powerful enough!”
Tokyo guided one of his armed drones to a large hole in the wall, outside it found an intact fire escape that went up a couple of stories. Not much else was left besides that one part of the old fire escape.
“We can go up through that.” The Japanese man told the others.
“Once again, the weapons seem to be ineffective against the aliens.” Rod Travers was explaining to the global audience. “The team has left the floor through a hole in the wall and have moved up to a new level on a fire escape.”
“These aliens aren't the ones who build star ships, these are just monsters. Did they get put here as a dumping ground?” Anders asked as they climbed the fire escape. He was the last one up, covering the rear of their group.
“Is this really the time to ask these things?” Will asked, aiming his combat rail gun rifle into the opening of the higher level. He didn't see much inside of the building. A few of the walls were still partially intact.
“Unwanted pets maybe?” Mikhail asked, with a hint of sarcasm.
“Hey, Tokyo. Send one of your drones in there.” Will said without looking back.
The viewers then heard the amused voice of Rod Travers again. “The mysterious member of this team calls himself Tokyo. Maybe that is where he's from, unless he's from Osaka and is trying to mislead us. Naw, that couldn't be.”
“Over the past fifty episodes of Hunting the Hunters we have seen one and thirty contestants lose their lives in the quest for glory. Not all of them die as gruesomely as Henrietta Hilton did, you'll recall she was the one impaled on alien tusks.” Rod told the viewers, “Very few members have managed to kill more than a single alien beast before retreating or being killed. Only one team has managed to clear a small building. That was the one where Clay Athens became a short-lived hero to many. He didn't last long in the second building though.”
One of the network camera drones had entered the new level with the team. It was very small and very quiet and the members tended to ignore them.
“I think I might not have had good judgment when I signed on to do this.” Anders quipped as they carefully walked down a corridor and checked the “rooms” on either side. It was easy because most of the walls were shredded.
“They've been here for a year and nobody knows if these things sleep, what they eat or anything. Doesn't anyone else find that strange?” Will Marshal asked. “We've been monitoring with drones all that time and know nothing. I think someone knows. Someone has to know something.”
“It always comes down to some government conspiracy, doesn't it?” Mikhail asked, “I'm as jaded as anyone, I blame the government for everything. I just don't see how they had anything to do with aliens being put here.”
Tokyo was still controlling the drone ahead of them. “I suppose if they were in contact with aliens, they could have contracted to accept these things. Now what price do you suppose they would ask for that?”
“Technology?” Anders asked. “It's all I can think of.”
Of course none of this exchange had been broadcast, Rod Travers had been given the signal to speak about something else.
“Something weird just happened! This is big!” Travers announced. Producers Gregory Hurst and Lisa James appeared in the studio, just to get a closer look at the large screen.
“It appears that some sort of dome has encased the buildings. Some kind of transparent dome has been erected. I have no idea who or what kind of technology would be involved in this.” Travers admitted to his audience.
They cut to a live aerial feed.
“There has to be someone in the government who can tell us something.” Gregory Hurst said and then pointed to some of the staff behind the camera, “Get in touch with all of our contacts, this country or the Russians and find out if there have been any alien ships detected lately.”
“Do you think the aliens that dropped off these things would come back?” Lisa James asked.
“Why? What would be the point?” Travers asked them, getting ready for his next appearance.
The feed now cut back to inside the building where the hunting team entered a new chamber and found a snake-like alien creature, glowing like a neon sign, coiled up at the center. It opened his massive maw, exposing hundreds of sharp teeth, and hissed at them.
“This thing looks like a snake. If it is coiled up like this, that makes me think it might have eggs that she's defending.” Will Marshal said. “We need to kill this snake, or get it to move so Mikhail can fry those eggs with a flame thrower.”
Tokyo soon had both drones circling the room, the snake creature eyed them warily. It had struck at one of them and missed, but then stubbornly refused to leave the nest.
Will and Anders opened fire on the creature with their miniature rail-gun weapons. This just made the creature angry, as the wounds simply healed instantly. “Okay, Mikhail. Try the flame thrower, maybe we can make this mama move for us.”
As soon as the big Russian opened up with the flame thrower the snake opened its mouth wide and excreted a shriek that had enough pressure to send the flames back at the humans. Mikhail was shocked when he found his sleeves and shirt on fire. He threw down the fame thrower that was now on fire and took the fuel container off his back and threw it.
“Okay, I guess we need a new plan.” Will told himself.
Suddenly a blinding white light was everywhere. The team was backed against a wall, unable to see anything.
“What was that?” Anders asked.
“I don't know!” Will admitted.
“Could it have been a nuke?” Tokyo asked.
“We're still here, so I would say it's not a nuke.” Mikhail told the young man.
Blinking the light out of his eyes, Will looked around. The snake had apparently climbed through the glassless wall and went upward. “I think we should follow it to the top.”
Through the openings in the wall, Mikhail saw aliens on other buildings climbing the top of their buildings too. “I think following them is a bad idea.”
“Something is definitely on here.” Will told himself. “The only way to find out what is happening is to follow them.”
“If all the aliens are going up, then the stairwell should be free.” Tokyo admitted. He sent one of the drones up. From the returns it looked like the beasts were all heading up toward the roof.
“This is crazy.” Tokyo said. “Let's get out of here.”
Will Marshal dug out his communications device and tried to contact the guy on the hovercraft but there was nothing. “I don't think this thing is working.”
Anders was looking out the hole in the side of the building. “Guys. You won't believe this.”
A large spherical orb was hovering above the sea between them and the shore of New Jersey.
“They're back?” Will Marshal asked, looking around.
“Do you think they'd be upset about us trying to hunt down the beasts?” Mikhail asked in an amused voice.
“Tell me they didn't sink New York City just to use it as a kennel!” Tokyo said loudly, “Is this how aliens are going to treat us?”
“Nobody is going to remember us now.” Anders said, to himself mostly.
“We have to end the regular program here it appears, for breaking news we now allow all of our international broadcasting partners to go to their own newscasts. We will continue to provide live feed from our cameras at the scene.” Rod Travers reported to the viewers.
As soon as the studio lights dimmed he was approached by men in dark suits and sunglasses.
“Mr. Travers.” One of them said, “The Secretary has some questions for you about some of the things you've allowed to be broadcast today.”
“Me? I didn't do nothing.”
“Just come along peacefully.” The other man said.
A day later.
“We have breaking news. The President has reportedly made a deal with the aliens to remove the beasts and to restore Manhattan to its previous location above sea level.” The news anchor reported, “A spokesperson for the White House told our reporter that efforts to contact and communicate with the aliens have been ongoing since last year when the incident first occurred.”
“Sure. Whatever.” Will Marshal said, closing the video feed on his computer.