In our last episode, Jethro Hodge, Director of Building Operations on Genesis, has been called out of his temporary office on the site where the capital city is being built. Dozer drivers nearby stopped their work and formed a defensive circle on the site when large creatures emerged at the edge of the rainforest. Lead dozer driver, Jackson, is waiting for Hodge to arrive on foot…
As he waited for Hodge to arrive he notices that the black monsters are just standing still, gazing at the machines. Jackson and his crew of drivers sit in enclosed cabs atop their land movers, so they feel somewhat secure as the creatures seem curious rather than aggressive. No way I’m gonna leave my cab until they vamoose, he thought. I hope Hodge and Sablicksen aren’t planning to walk up and pet them, or something.
“What’s the plan, sir? We don’t have weapons.” Tanya looks at her boss expectantly as they reach the machines.
“Creature… inferior… puny…”
Hodge stops suddenly, goes down on one knee and holds his head with both hands. Sablicksen stops as well, checks to see the black creatures are not firing at them and kneels beside her boss.
“Director!” She cries out, “Are you wounded? Talk to me, sir!”
Jackson has been watching their approach while still keeping a sharp watch on the alien creatures. He sees Hodge stop and hold his head, and glances back at the monsters, which had made no moves. He keys his comm unit. “Sir, are you hurt? Do you need assistance?” Jackson’s mind races as he waits for Hodge’s reply, sorting through his limited options. He could leave his cab to assist Hodge and Sablicksen, but that would leave himself exposed. Maybe it’s time to give these black demons a show of force, he thought. He could order a charge of all five big dozers, reasonably certain that these ugly creatures could never withstand a charge by these mighty machines. As he processes these choices, Hodge’s voice intrudes through his headset.
“I’m… okay… ” Hodge mused, Damn, where did that voice come from? He gets to his feet, and walks unsteadily between the dozers until he and Sablicksen are inside the circle they had formed. He doesn’t stop until he’s beside Jackson’s dozer and makes eye contact with him inside the cab. Then, he gazes across the scarred clearing to see that the black creatures are standing their ground, just staring. Then, to no one in particular, he mutters, “My Gods, those are ugly and sinister-looking specimens…”
His comment is cut off as another word crashes into his mind.
Again, he holds his head with both hands and stops in his tracks. The pressure on his brain dissipates as he stares intently at the creatures. One turns and heads back into the jungle. One by one, the others follow suit until they all disappear.
Sablicksen touches Hodge’s arm as she speaks, “Do we follow them, sir? Are you injured?”
Hodge shakes his head and takes his comm unit out of his jacket pocket, keys a control and speaks to the Communications Officer at Headquarters. “Joel, call the ship. Ask if sensors picked up on several large creatures near the planned residential sector of the site. Yes, I’ll wait. Hodge out.”
Jackson and the other four drivers had climbed down from their dozers and approach as Hodge finishes. The lead driver addresses Hodge, “Do you want us to go after them, sir? Did they injure you?”
The Director, surrounded by six concerned and decidedly nervous people, looks from face to face and holds his hands up to ward off other questions. “I’m okay. Twice, I heard words shouted inside my head causing pressure for a few seconds. I’m not sure, but they might have come from one of those creatures.”
“Why didn’t we hear them?” Tanya queries. “Sounds like it might be telepathy, sir.” Searching the edge of the jungle, she can see nothing…
The silence is suddenly shattered by a chilling shriek, followed by the appearance of a shiny black… thing, or vehicle as it rises above the jungle canopy, hovers briefly and shoots upwards to the west, disappearing in seconds.
“Bloody hell!” With that, Hodge orders everyone back to Site Headquarters. “I want some answers from the ArcGeneral before work resumes down here.”
Twenty minutes later, Hodge is in Communications at Site HQ talking to Hastings aboard Divine Scepter and describing what he saw and heard as he arrived at the scene. “Yes, sir… it was huge and it took off shrieking… damnedest thing! Sensors picked it up?” There is a silence as he listens to the ArcGeneral. “Yes, Tom, I’ll do that. Thank you. Hodge out.”
He leaves Communications and strides to the large conference area where Tanya had gathered the engineers, architects and the construction supervisors. The babble of voices there becomes hushed as the Director arrives at the large oval table. He takes his seat and looks at his people who are visibly on the verge of panic.
“ArcGeneral Hastings says that Scepter’s sensors picked up the alien vessel as it left the surface, but were unable to track it very far – it just disappeared. We don’t know what it was, but he’s ordering a company of marines to the surface to sweep that part of the jungle and to remain for as long as he deems necessary. Tanya, please see to organizing temporary quarters for them. Site operations are to cease until the marine commander gives the all-clear. We’re adjourned.”
What were those creatures? Will they return?