They scattered like cockroaches to various areas around the dimly lit room before the half-breed entered. Father crouched behind a chair on the other side of the table. Jack dropped Sarah’s clothes and squeezed under the bed, scraping his shoulders on the metal bed frame. Willis saw no place to hide except behind the door as it opened.
A half-breed entered the room, paused for a moment, and glanced back at the open door as if it was trying to remember whether it had previously been closed all the way or not. He did not notice Willis, who was attempting to flatten his body in the crevice between the wall and door, like a mouse squeezing through a narrow passage.
Tucked into a dark shadow, Father watched as the half-breed walked over to Sarah, who was sleeping on the bed. Lightning flashed through the window, leaving a momentary green aura around the alien’s robe and gray, bald head. Using its long fingers, it dipped them into the canister it held and pulled out a thick paste. It reached under Sarah’s sheet and rubbed it on her abdomen.
From beneath the bed, Jack saw skintight silver boots peak out from under the half-breed’s robe. They were so formfitting they appeared to be similar to a layer of thick lizard skin. He could hear it doing something to Sarah above him. He held his breath as it stopped what it was doing and stood still as if it were listening for intruders before it finished its task and walked back out of the room, closing the door.
No one moved until they were sure the half-breed was not coming back.
“What the hell was that about?” Willis asked, not moving from his spot.
“I was wondering the same thing,” Father said as he rose from behind the table.
Jack scooted out from under the bed, scraping his already abraded shoulders. He nudged Sarah. “It’s Jack. Wake up and get dressed.”
Sarah groggily opened her eyes. “What?”
Jack picked up Sarah’s clothes and sat them on the bed beside her. “Quick, get dressed we have to get out of here.”
Her hand trembled as she pushed strands of hair away from her forehead. “Jack, what’s going on? Where am I?”
Father and Willis turned their gaze away as Sarah sat up, at first not realizing she had no clothes on. She immediately pulled the sheet under her chin when she noticed her clothes lying on the bed beside her.
“Hurry, get dressed,” Jack urged as he looked at her uncovered legs. The candles cast a radiant glow on her smooth skin.
“Stop looking at me.”
Jack turned his back toward her. “Okay, make it fast.”
Sarah dressed quickly. When she stood to buckle the belt on her jeans, she felt her abdomen. “What’s this stuff?”
Jack turned around and looked at the creamy white concoction spread on her skin as she lost balance and sat back down on the bed. “We’ll talk about it later.”
“Can we look?” Willis asked.
“Yeah,” Jack said, helping Sarah stand.
Father and Willis walked over to Sarah, relieved they had found her seemingly unharmed.
“Jack, we should find the computers and Tony and Clare,” Father said.
Jack handed Willis his cell phone. “Text Clare and tell them we have Sarah and we’re going to find the main computers.”
Willis sent the text as Jack slowly opened the door. He looked out into the hallway, motioning the rest to follow. He led them down the stairwell to the back door where they exited into the storm. Thunder cracked as heavy rain soaked them. Jack looked around the corner toward what appeared to be the building that Max had pointed out to him.
“What do you see?” Father asked as he pulled his black clerical jacket over his head like a tarp.
“It’s hard to make anything out through the rain, but I see the building I think we need to get to. It’s red and connected to the reactor,” Jack said. “Unfortunately, it’s behind another fence and guard shack.”
Suddenly a shriek came from inside the building they had just left.
“Was that sound the storm or one of those things just realizing Mom is gone?” Willis said, pulling the hood of his sweatshirt over his head as he wiped the pouring rain from his face and eyes.
“We’d better get out of here, Jack,” Father said.
Jack looked around the corner again. “I don’t see anyone, so I don’t know if they’re in the guard shack, the building we’re heading to, or someplace else.”
“Let’s just go for it,” Willis said, holding Sarah’s arm to keep her from falling.
“We’re gonna have to,” Father said. “That alien will find us any second.”
Jack looked back at Willis, then at Sarah. “Willis, watch your mom. Let’s go.”
They ran along the fence to the guard shack. The torrential rain acted like a cloaking shield, blurring them into the background. Jack saw two people with AK47s go inside the building where they had held Sarah. With Jack leading the way, they ran through the guard shack gate to the engineering building, then burst through the main doors, feeling like rats escaping a flooded sewer drain.
Panels of computer screens, dials, knobs, and buttons lined the walls. Long tables in the room had monitors, keyboards, gauges, and telephones, reminding Jack of NASA’s Launch Control Center.
“Where the hell is a USB port?” Jack shouted as he took the wet flash drive from his soaked pocket. Water dripped from his clothing onto the floor, leaving a slippery path on the beige tiles. “I see everything except what I’m looking for.”
“Here,” Willis said sitting down at a desk. “Give me the thumb drive.”
Jack handed it to Willis who promptly pushed it into a port.
“They’re coming,” Father said looking through the rain pelted glass of the front door.
“Is it infecting the computer, Willis?” Jack asked, his jawline was tense. He nervously wiped the rain from his eyes as it dripped down from his wet hair.
Monitors flickered. “I think so.”
A human with an assault rifle and a half-breed reached the front door and entered the building. They stopped when they saw Jack, Father, and Willis with raised weapons standing their ground.
“The half-breed’s mine,” Jack said, aiming his Kimber toward the drenched figure. Its wet robe clung to its skinny body.
Willis and Father focused their weapons on the human who was aiming back at them with his assault rifle.
Jack glared at the half-breed who returned eye contact. “Stay right there, you bastard.”
The half-breed looked confused. “My name is Rausuca. I mean you no harm, Jack.”
Jack looked at Sarah, who was standing next to Willis.
“That’s him,” she sneered.
“You piece of shit,” Jack said. “You raped Sarah. I should kill you right where you stand.”
Then two half-breeds entered the far end of the room from the reactor side. They stopped as Rausuca held up his hand. Willis turned and pointed his Winchester in their direction.
“How do you know my name?” Jack asked, Kimber still pointed at its moist head.
“We know a lot about the people of this planet, Earth.” Rausuca looked at Sarah, who was pressing a hand to her throbbing temple. “We are from Zeta Reticuli and are here to stop the wars, cure disease, and heal the planet. Something your people have not been able to manage.”
“I want to kill you,” Jack said. “My trigger finger is getting a little antsy.”
“You do not want to do that,” Rausuca said calmly as if it felt no shots would be fired at him. “I am the ruler of this region and I need to produce an heir who will be supreme commander to my people and a messiah to your people. If any harm comes to me all of you will be destroyed, even Sarah.”
Sarah was slowly regaining her senses. She looked at Rausuca with disgust as images of what he had done to her in that room flashed through her mind. She was about to speak when the lights of the facility started to flicker, and all power went out. After several seconds, the emergency lights powered on.
Rausuca began speaking in broken clicks to the two half-breeds across the room. They drew weapons similar to a small wand and began walking toward them.
With inhuman speed, Rausuca grabbed Jack’s gun away from him with one hand and clenched his neck with the other. “It is quite a powerful human feeling to have this dominance over you. And as I savor this moment, Jack, I can tell you the human feelings of mating with Sarah were quite pleasurable. Do you want me to tell you all about it? I could tell you how she enjoyed every moment, as did I.”
“Don’t listen to him, Jack,” Father said, his handgun still pointed at the human with the AK47.
Jack tried to break free but seemed paralyzed, unable to move his arms and legs. He tried to speak but was mute. All he could do was look into the half-breed’s cold dark eyes.
“Instead, I will end your life.” Rausuca brought his wand up to Jack’s temple but before it could be activated, a long, straight blade swept between their faces in a blur, striking Rausuca’s hand, causing him to drop the slender rod.
Sarah lunged for Rausuca’s weapon. She picked up the golden stick as Willis began firing at the approaching half-breeds. She turned around to see his shots being deflected as if there were a shield around them. The golden rod made her hand tingle as she pointed it at the half-breeds. She felt no buttons, levers, or any type of trigger, but nonetheless, the wand shot a beam at the two aliens who fell immediately to the floor.
Then Tony and Clare ran through the front entry. The person with an assault rifle pointed it at Tony just as Father shot his leg, causing him to cry out in pain. He bent over, grabbed his bloody extremity as Clare ran up to the human and held her .44 Magnum to his trembling head.
“Give me your weapon,” Clare said. “Or do I have to kill you and take it that way?”
The man slipped the sling over his head and sat the rifle on the floor, leaving bloody handprints on the stock. Clare picked it up as Tony ran up behind Rausuca and held a bowie knife to its throat.
Rausuca released his grip on Jack when he felt the knife blade against his throat and saw Sarah pointing his weapon at him. Jack dropped to his knees. Sarah ran over to him and tried to help him stand while still aiming the wand at Rausuca.
“Sarah, you must be careful with that,” Rausuca said. Tony pressed the knife blade deeper against Rausuca’s throat, drawing blood as he spoke. “It has the power to destroy us all.”
Just then, the professor came in through the front door, gasping for breath from forcing his overweight body to keep up with Tony and Clare. He saw Rausuca and approached him, breathing heavy breaths inches from its face. “You’ve almost destroyed the human race, I find that appalling. You could’ve approached us on friendly terms, and we could learn from each other. But right now, I want nothing to do with your kind.” The professor inhaled deeply and let out a large moist cough, spewing infected droplets into the face of Rausuca.
Rausuca tried to break free from Tony’s grasp but was unable. “You imbecile, what have you done?”
The professor smiled. “I just exposed you to the flu, a virus that I’m sure you have no antibodies for. Sarah’s contagious too, so anyone who’s come into close contact with her or any of us will get sick and die.”
Tony’s biceps flexed as he spoke with a Dirty Harry voice close to Rausuca’s ear. “All the power plants of the world that you bastards are at are now infected, so I suggest you call your cohorts and leave this planet because there are more viruses where that one came from.”
“You think that exposing us to a virus will kill us? We have been to this planet many times and have never been hurt by your viruses.”
“But not half-breeds,” Sarah said, coughing. “Your human half will get sick and who knows how that will affect your alien half. You’re certainly immunocompromised and likely to die.”
For the first time, Rausuca seemed concerned. “May I have my device back?”
Sarah looked at the gold metallic wand in her hand. She felt a cold, electric sensation in her fingers as she pointed it at Rausuca. “This is mine now. Besides, I think you’re powerless without it.”
“I hate to mention this,” Father said. “But what exactly are we supposed to do with them?”
Jack regained his strength and retrieved his Kimber from the floor, pointing it at Rausuca’s crotch. “I think we should put an end to Rausuca’s fun.”
“Do not be hasty, Jack. I think we can work out a deal. We have been protecting your planet from the galactic war for decades in exchange for interbreeding. Your government has already agreed to this.”
Jack hesitated, unsure how to process what Rausuca had just told him. “What did you have in mind?”
Rausuca looked at the motionless half-breeds spread out on the floor. “Let me live and we will leave your planet.”
“What about the terraforming, zombies, and spider drones?” Sarah asked.
“All activity will cease.”
“I don’t trust him,” Jack said as his shoulder twitched.
“I don’t either,” Tony said, keeping firm pressure on the blade against Rausuca’s throat.
Then a warning alarm sounded, “Sixty seconds to core meltdown.” A large red button on the emergency shutdown panel glowed, waiting for confirmation to fire explosive bolts that would blow the control rods into the reactor, stopping a nuclear reaction.
Rausuca’s voice was raspy from the blade’s pressure. “You thought you were so clever shutting down the reactor but instead there will be a meltdown and you all will die.”
Rausuca looked up toward the ceiling and in an instant, he, the dead half-breeds, and the wounded human had vanished.
“Where’d they go?” Willis asked, walking over to where the bodies had been.
“I think they were transported to their ship,” Sarah said.
“Thirty seconds to core meltdown,” the warning blared.
“What do we do?” Jack asked running over to the emergency shutdown panel. In a frenzy, he raised his arms in despair as he looked at the mock Christmas display of flashing lights.
The professor ran next to Jack and examined the panels, buttons, and flashing red lights.
“Ten seconds to core meltdown,” the alarm sounded.
The professor held his hand over a glowing red button with the words IMMEDIATE SHUTDOWN COMMENCE. “I hope this is the right button,” he said. He pressed it and stepped back.
No one said a word as they waited for a sign that the professor had made the correct decision or whether they should run for their lives. Loud booming sounds came from within the reactor as if it were getting ready to explode and release radioactive fallout into the air.
Then the audio system announced, “Reactor shutdown successful.”
They all looked around at each other as smiles formed on their faces; they began to cheer and exchange hugs and high-fives in triumphant celebration.
Jack pulled Sarah close and held her tight. The jubilant commotion reminded him of the reaction in the control room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory when the rover Curiosity had landed safely on Mars.
“I can’t believe it,” Clare said, clapping her hands above her head. “We actually did it.”
“Don’t get too excited,” Jack said, still holding Sarah close. “There’s at least one more human with an AK47 that may be out there.”
“Thanks for bringing us down, Jack,” Sarah teased, nudging him with her arm.