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by Matt Dempster
Note: This story takes place during Invasions 3
The bolt of blue flame slammed into the street like a thunderbolt, liquefying the pavement, and missing the blurred form of Jason Ortiz by millemeters. The floating Harrakin snarled and fired another burst. Flame seared the spot Jay had been moments before. The Harrakin looked about to reacquire his target, but the street was deserted. Snarling to himself, he turned around to seek fresh targets.
Only to be met by a cyclone wind. The burst of air slammed the armored Harrakin back into a partially crumbled wall, which collapsed atop the invader. Jay watched the heap of rubble for a second to make sure the Harrakin wasn't getting up, and then slumped against a wall to catch his breath.
:Counterpart to Trax, come in.:
"Trax here. Go ahead."
:We're beginning the push down to Venice Beach. Where are you?:
"15 miles from your current position. ETA 42.6 seconds. En route now. Trax out."
Trax stood up, and started to run westward. As he dodged the flaming wrecks of cars, he called up a map of the area on his visor. White dots represented his forces, black were the invading Harrakin.
There were an awful lot of black dots.
"But, sir, I.."
"No buts, Jason. you've been ready for this for quite a while." Wes looked at his young officer steadily. "We've trained you to be a leader, to take charge in dangerous situations. Now's when that training pays off."
"Sir, this isn't exactly your normal skirmish! These are.."
Wes held up a metal hand. "I know. These are the Harrakin, beings who perform feats undreamt of by mortal man, and that's just before breakfast. They fly, they melt metal just by looking at it, they know your darkest fears.
"We have people like that too, Jay. You're commanding them. And you and your team are going to kick the hell out of the Harrakin."
Jay sighed. "Yes, sir." He nodded to Wes, and shut down the comm link to the Seekers base in New York. Glancing at his watch, he muttered, "Just enough time to make it to LAX to meet the others..."
A black streak marked his path as he sped off to the airport to meet his squad.
"OK, folks, satellite telemetry shows a grouping of Harrakin coming down in LA, over Sunset Boulevard. Our job is to contain them, halt their advance so they can't do anymore damage. We're meeting another contingent of Seekers at LAX (check), so our forces will number about 30 or so. Not bad, considering Wes and the others are holding NYC with 10 or 15. I figure we'll wrap up the Haks in 10 minutes flat, and catch some waves down at Venice."
Muted laughter came from the Seekers in the conference room. They were nervous as hell. Jay could almost smell the fear. "Seriously, people. Wes put us on this detail because he knows we can handle it. We are going to stop the Haks cold. I know you're scared. Hell, I'm scared too. I'm just shaking so fast none of you can see it. But I want you all to remember that as long as we stick together, and we stick to the plan, everything will be all right. Are you ready?"
A chorus of "Aye!" came from around the compartment.
"I must be deaf. I didn't hear you. Are you READY!"
Jay nodded. "Good. Hak touchdown is in 90 minutes. Get prepped, 'manos." With that, Jay walked back to his seat, and calmly closed his eyes.
We're gonna get SO creamed...
"Flux, cover the flank! Tremor, fall back, you're in too close!"
Jay backpedaled to avoid a diving Harrakin. The flyer slammed facefirst into the pavement and didn't get up. Jay looked away from the fallen invader to the battle raging around him. "Trax to Counterpart, you and Windshear take the group to the west. Remember, we have to contain them!"
:Roger, Trax, although I think containment is sort of a moot point now.:
Indeed she was right. Harrakin were detaching themselves from the battle and flying off in small groups towards other parts of the city. Dammit! This shouldn't have happened! The plan should have worked!
The plan had been simple. The Harrakin were coming down all in one spot. The Seekers had surrounded the area, and were waiting for the Haks to land. Trax was about ready to give the signal, when the man next to him, Saul Rosen, AKA Linetap started to bleed from his nose.
Jay looked up and saw the blood. Saul went pale, and whispered, "Oh shit...they can feel us...they can FEEL us..." Saul grabbed his temples, and as the Harrakin drew closer, Saul Rosen's eyes rolled up in his head, and he collapsed to the pavement, dead before he hit the ground.
Right about then was when all hell broke loose.
Without Linetap helping to hold the telepathic blind in place, the Seekers were revealed to the Harrakin in a second. Not that it made any real difference to the invaders; they continued their landing, accompanied now by plasma fire and blasts of unseen telekinetic force. The Seekers hid behind their cover as best they could, but even so, Jay could hear shouts and screams as plasma burned it's way to his comrades.
"Seekers, break cover and attack!" screamed Jay. As blue fire liquified a dumpster behind him, he stood, drew his sidearm, and emptied the clip at a descending Harrakin. The bullets bounced off harmlessly, but the act galvanized the remaining Seekers. Antimatter pellets came blazing at the invaders from the left, while a miniature tornado slammed into them from the right. Black jumpsuited figures burst from hiding and charged the armored invaders. An electrified Flux wreathed several Harrakin in blue light while sub-zero cold from Arctic froze another in his tracks. For a second, Jay thought that his squad might pull this out after all, that the Harrakin would be contained easily.
He should have known better.
Walls of force sent several of the attacking Seekers flying. Armored hands tore into the ranks of the Earthers, shredding the attack. As the Seekers began to fall back and the battle started to turn, Harrakin began to simply fly over the defenders heads, dismissing them. And as Jay watched his squad fold, he knew to was time for a new strategy.
It was time to run.
"Seekers, fall back! Rendezvous at Checkpoint Alpha! I repeat fall back! Windshear, Repulse, artillery positions! Fall back!" Jay grabbed one of his injured teammates and sped out of the way of a plasma blast. The Seekers retreated under the cover of force beams and mini-typhoons. Soon, there wasn't a black jumpsuit to be seen.
The Harrakin didn't mind. The Harrakilli had been routed. Los Angeles was theirs. Time enough to find the insolent Earthers and crush them.
The invasion had begun in earnest.
Trax skidded to a stop and watched as a Harrakin spiraled down and plowed into a hot-dog stand. Neither the stand nor the Harrakin got up.
Venice Beach was a scene of utter chaos. Buildings were afire, explosions sent sand fountaining into the air, and amidst it all, the Seekers battled the invaders to a standstill. Concentrated storms buffeted the flyers while antimatter pellets blasted the armored troops back towards the Pacific Ocean.
I'm never gonna be able to look at a beach the same way, Jay though bemusedly. As he took in the view, a bolt of cold arrowed past his shoulder, freezing a Harrakin Jay had noticed six milliseconds before into a block of ice.
:No problem. Glad you're here...Terry's got a plan.:
"Acknowledged. Trax to Counterpart."
Teresa slung a chunk of wood at two advancing Haks, having long since run out of spheres. The wood exploded on impact driving the invaders into the foaming water. :Counterpart here. We're going to drive the Haks into the water. Can you provide a distraction?:
Jay smiled. "I know just the thing."
Counterpart and Windshear began the assault, blasting the Harrakin back towards the glimmering Pacific. As the two Seekers pelted the Haks, Jay dashed back and forth, kicking up a veritable sandstorm and blinding the invaders. Slowly, the Harrakin were pushed into the sea, and as they stumbed and sank in the water, Arctic let loose with his power. In an instant, the waters of the Pacific turned to ice, trapping the hapless Harrakin. Pat poured the power on, turning the shoreline into a glacier.
Terry turned to Jay. "That ought to hold them for a while."
Jay nodded. "Long enough for me to check on the others, anyway. Keep in contact. These guys might have friends." With that, Trax took off, heading for the Santa Monica Freeway, and towards Hollywood Hills.
"Sir, we need those reinforcements!"
:Jay, I understand your frustration, but I have no assets to spare now! We're fielding teams all over the States, and we've drafted every Omega we can into service.:
:Negative, Trax. Hold L.A. as best you can. If it looks like you can't hold out, retreat to a safer location, and wait for further orders.:
:No heroics, Jason. If you get in over your heads, get the hell out of there. Interface out.:
Jay looked around the abandoned theatre his team had taken refuge in. He had about twenty Seekers that were still functional, and three seriously wounded. He had lost six in the initial attack.
Fuck. Jay closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall. Twenty Seekers. A couple hundred Harrakin. The odds did NOT look good. As Jay reviewed the cluster fuck that this mission had become, a soft voice intruded. "Jay?"
Jay opened his eyes and saw Andrea standing there with a concerned look on her face. He sighed. "Yeah? What's up?"
"Nothing. I was just checking in on you. Are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine."
Andrea came and sat down next to Jay. "What did Wes say?"
"He said that we're on our own. There aren't any reinforcements available."
Andrea looked at the wall. "Do you think we can do it? Hold L.A.?"
"I don't know, Andi. With the amount of manpower we have? I don't think so. I think we can put up a good fight, but without help, I think we'll have to.."
Andrea's eyes lit up. "Wait! Why don't we use the Scions?"
Jay frowned. "The Scions? They're in D.C., at Georgetown. How could they..."
"Not all of them! There was an orientation going on here in L.A....a tour of the SIRECOM branch out here. There's probably ten of the trainees here still!"
Slowly, Jay nodded. "We'd have to team them carefully... they're inexperienced..."
"I can watch them," said Andrea. "Jay, you know we need them. There's no other option."
Jay stood. "All right then. Get on the horn and track them down. I have to start planning how we're going to pull this out." With that, Jay strode out of the office and into the room full of Seekers. "All right people. It's time to get serious. Terry, Carl, let's get organized. Bring those maps over here. Pat, think you can scrounge up some coffee?" Pat nodded. "Good. Let's kick some ET ass."
The word whipped out of his mouth and was lost to hearing as Jay swerved to avoid the wreck of a BMW which had just fallen out of the sky. The three Harrakin fllying overhead swooped downward and grabbed another car. This one found a home several hundred yards ahead of the speedster, effectively blocking the road. The Harrakin floated majestically to the earth. Glowing eyes regarded the lone Seeker silently. Jay thought frantically. Gun...no good. Can't hit em, break my hands on their armor...shit, what do I do, shit.. blocked in ...friggin semi... semi?
The Harrakin advanced. Jay drew his sidearm, and ejected three bullets. As the Haks moved in line with the semi, Jay rubbed the bullets between his palms until he felt them start to glow with heat. He grinned, lips skinning back from his teeth. "Yeah, that's it you fucks...a little closer..."
Jay's arm snapped forward, accompanied by a small crack; the sound of his hand breaking the sound barrier. The superheated bullets shot past the advancing invaders and penetrated the exposed gas tank of the jackknifed semi.
The resultant explosion was VERY satisfying.
Flames billowed up and engulfed the Harrakin. Jay could hear the screams as the aliens turned into pillars of flame. Then the fire was reaching for him. Quickly, he turned and bolted for the barricade. He skidded to a stop in front of the overturned car. It was too high to climb, and there was no way around. Jay turned and saw the fire rolling towards him as other gas tanks caught. Grimacing, he turned back to the cars.
"Well, it works in the comics...."
Jay concentrated, moving his hand back and forth, shaking it as fast as he could. The vibration moved up his arm, shaking his whole body. He put his hand on the belly of the car blocking his path and felt the slightest bit of give.
Faster. Faster, damn it!
The vibration grew more intense, and the feeling of give, of disconnected-ness increased.
C'mon, you leadass motherfucker! Don't wimp out! Push! PUSH!
Jay poured it on, every scrap of power he had, and as the flames started to lick at his back his arm pushed right through the barrier. His body followed suit, and Jay fell through the automobile and onto the pavement on the other side. Flames roared behind him, and with the last vestiges of his energy, Trax got to his feet and took off, leaving the burning wrecks behind.
"Let me get this perfectly clear. We have...what, twenty, twenty-one Seekers? Against a couple HUNDRED Harrakin?" Melanie Staunt looked around the room. "Am I the only one here who thinks Speedy here has gone comPLETEly around the bend?"
Jay frowned. "Are you done?"
Melanie took a good look at Jay's face and sat down. Jay sighed. "Tha's what I thought. Look, I'm not saying this is going to be a walk in the park, and given a choice, I'd have you all on the next transport out of here." Jay looked at each of the cadets in turn. "But we don't have a choice. We HAVE to hold L.A. long enough for reinforcements to get here."
"Ach, dinnae worry, lass." came a drawl from the corner where Connor Douglas sprawled. "We'll whip 'em silly, and spend the day catchin' rays down at the shore. Right boss?"
Despite himself, Jay smiled. "Nice thought, Connor. All right, listen up people. You'll be teamed with Flux. She's in command; no shit from any of you." Jay looked directly at Melanie when he said this last. "Follow her orders precisely. They'll keep you breathing and in one piece."
The Scions looked at each other. Jay stood. "Saddle up, folks. Departure in 10 minutes."
The Hollywood Hills had seen better days.
So had Jay for that matter. Smoke blinded him as he raced towards the besieged Griffth Park observatory. His feet felt like they had been dipped in lead, and every breath felt like fire. Still, he blazed on up the twisty raods leading to the hilltop battlefield.
He skidded to a stop and tried to catch his breath. All around him, the young Seekers-in-training battled bravely against overwhelming odds. Harrakin craft cruised overhead, firing lasers and energy weapons at the Scions. The young Omegas retaliated with white-hot fire, coherent sound and other extraordinary powers. Jay looked around and saw Melanie Staunt atop a car roof, staring at a wobbling Harrakin sled. Jay yelled to her. "Where's Flux?!"
The strain of using her powers so much was showing on the young woman's face as she looked around at Jay. "Busy! Up there!"
Jay followed her finger and caught sight of Flux, a coruscating sheet of electrical power flowing around a Hak assault craft. As he watched, the sled began to plummet downwards, heading right for the Seekers position. Shit! thought Jay, as adrenalized reflexes took over. Quicker than the eye could follow, he started to whisk Scions out of harms way, despositing them down the hill. As he came to Melanie, she waved him back. "Let me stay!" she screamed. "I can handle this!"
Jay goggled. "This isn't a spy movie!" There was no way he was losing an agent who thought she was James fucking Bond. He grabbed her and started to jump off the car roof, just as the sled came into Melanie's range.
Probability twisted and in a million-to-one stroke of bad luck, Flux triggered the sled's afterburners. Flame gounted from the craft's rear as it veered away from the Scions and slammed through the HOLLYWOOD sign, and into the hill beyond. A huge fireball mushroomed into the sky, and lit the whole area in a lurid red glow. Melanie turned to Jay, and as she stood, silhouetted against the explosion, she yawned.
"That was almost cinematic."
Jay just shook his head. He hopped off the car roof and scanned the skies for Harrakin. None in sight. Jay put his hands on his knees and leaned back against the car door. As he rested, a brilliant flash went off next to him, and resolved itself into the form of Flux. She looked at Jay, and squatted down next to him. "Jay? Are you all right? You look awful!"
Jay smiled weakly. "Gee, thanks, Andrea. You really know how to make a guy feel great."
Andrea frowned. "I'm serious. You look like death warmed over. You ought to rest a while."
Jay shook off her hand, and stood with his hand against the car. "I'm fine. I have to keep moving, keep track of the others..."
Andrea pushed him back. "So do it by radio. Jay, you can't keep this pace up. You'll kill yourself!"
"I know what I'm doing. I have to get to Beverly Hills. Tremor's group needs help." Jay heaved himself back to his feet and looked at Andrea. "Keep a sharp eye out. The Haks'll be back, and soon. Try and move them back towards the inner city... we have to contain them."
Andrea snapped a salute. "Yes, Sir!" she said with biting sarcasm.
Jay looked steadily at her, and then took off down the hill, blasting past the Scions who were trudging back up to the hilltop. Andrea watched the black streak as it was lost amidst the twisting roads leading back into the city.
"Be careful," she whispered.
thud thud thud
Jay's heart pounded in his ears, beating a counterpoint to his feet. He streaked through the city, dodging Harrakin patrols, moving from section to section, road to road. The freeways gave way to the mean streets of L.A. Cars and trucks provided flaming obstacles as Jay threaded his way from Beverly Hills to Venice Beach, to Sunset Boulevard.
His speed kept increasing as adrenalin maxed out his system. Sonic booms shattered glass along his path as he blazed through the slums and into the shopping districts. Harrakin tried to follow him as he moved from group to beleagured group, but were unable to track his speeding form.
Each heartbeat brought a new view, a different section of the city, and through it all, Jay watched as his Seekers held the Harrakin off, stopping them from destroying the city, from conquering his world.
The world began to waver in and out in Jay's vision. Blackness started to seep in, a little farther with every stride.
Faster. Must...go...faster....can't pass...out....
Jay stopped atop the hill that held the wreckage of the HOLLYWOOD sign. The flames from the attack sled had died, and he could see the whole city from his perch. Parts were in flames, and here and there explosions rocked the buildings where the Seekers fought the Harakin invaders. Jay smiled, and watched as blackness descended over the city.
Jay toppled over and lay still.
Whozzat? Lemme sleep...
Jay opened his eyes, and instantly regretted it as bright light arrowed into his brain. He closed his eyes before his brain could leak out of his skull and onto the floor. "Where am I?" Geez, that didn't sound right at all....that weak, raspy voice surely wasn't his!
"You're in a field hospital," said Andrea softly. "We've got you on a glucose feed, and are re-hydrating you. We found you passed out in the hills. Good thing Strafe was patrolling; we might have missed you otherwise."
"Is everyone okay? Are the Harrakin..."
Andrea hushed him. "The Harrakin have pulled back. We took one or two minor casualties. Tremor's laid up with a concussion, and Arctic has a set of broken ribs, but other than that, everyone's fine."
"I better go check on the others," said Jay as he struggled to sit up.
"You're not going anywhere," said Andrea as she firmly pushed hime back down onto the bed. "You almost died out there. What you're going to do is lay here and rest. You can get up and kill yourself later. All right?"
Jay sighed, and smiled a little. "I didn't know you cared."
Oddly, Andrea blushed. "Yeah, well, I don't want my boss keeling over, okay? Get some rest. I'm going to go check on the others."
Jay caught at her hand as she got up from the bed. "Wait. Why did the Harrakin pull out?"
"There's some kind of challenge going on. I'm not clear on the details, but, to tell you the truth, I really don't care. All the Haks took off for their ships all at once, and all Seeker units have been recalled to New York. We'll be leaving in about a half-hour, so rest up. You'll need the energy when we get back." With that, Andrea squeezed his hand and left.
Jay stared after her. Invaders from space, his first command, and Andrea acting like...hell just plain weird.
What a day.
Jay sighed and closed his eyes. Next stop, New York.
Seekers 15. Picking up the pieces after the Invasion....what a mess!
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