Heaven Came Down (Part 1) – Bryan Davis
Ben set his plasma rifle on the ground and propped the angel’s corpse against a tree, her wings splayed behind her. In the filtered moonlight, a glow emanated from under the bill of her military patrol cap. When he removed it, golden tresses fell to her camo-covered shoulders, and her serene face shone brightly, though she had died several minutes ago.
“Are you there?” Jack’s quiet voice came from the walkie-talkie at Ben’s hip. “What’s the delay?”
Ben snapped the unit off his belt, pressed the button, and whispered, “Got an angel patrol. Female. Older teen. Maybe early twenties.” He eyed the gaping hole in her chest, still smoking at the edges. “Took just one plasma shot to kill her.”
“Then she’s a grunt. Probably first generation.”
Ben touched the angel’s cheek, smooth and radiant. No wonder so many people were fooled by these phonies. The so-called angels always chose attractive, youthful humans, and the radiance added to the deception. “More likely Gen Two. She’s got the glow. And I hit her in the heart. Close range. That’ll kill a Two.”
“True, but if Gen Twos are patrolling, we’ve got more trouble than we bargained for.”
Trudy’s voice came through the radio, even quieter than Jack’s. “Don’t be such a pessimist. I found the Jeep at the coordinates. Everything’s inside, including the medical bag and vaccine cooler. Our mole came through. We’ve got this.”
“Good.” Ben glanced around for any sign of movement. Nothing stirred. “I’m at the pickup site, but I haven’t had a chance to check the locker yet.”
“What’re you going to do with the angel?” Jack asked. “We have to be to the security gate by dawn. Not enough time to remove the implant.”
“No, but I can free this poor girl’s soul.”
“How do you know she’s not a volunteer? And maybe her soul’s not even there anymore.”
“I have a pneumascan. Hang on.” Ben withdrew the palm-sized disk from this pocket and set the electrode side against the girl’s forehead. The screen lit up, showing an image of the girl’s brain. A red blob with snaking tentacles enclosed a white, radiant sphere embedded in the brain stem. “Her soul’s there. The implant has it trapped. Even if she was a volunteer before, she isn’t now.”
“All right. Your call. I doubt I can talk you out of it.”
Ben turned the girl’s head, withdrew his handgun from its hip holster, and, pushing her soft locks to the side, set the barrel at the base on her skull. Her smallish nose and fair complexion made her look like a younger version of Kat, but he couldn’t let sad memories stop him from doing the right thing. “Sorry, young lady, but it’s for your own good.”
* * *
Trudy stood at the roadside and stared at her walkie-talkie, her muscles tense. As the mission’s point man, Ben would keep the radio button pressed to signal the moment he would have to run for his life.
A gunshot rang from the speaker. Trudy flinched. As she imagined a soul flying from a ruptured skull, she blew a sigh. Another tragic casualty. But at least the girl was no longer a prisoner of the implanted slave master.
“Bugging out,” Ben said, breathless, apparently running. “With any luck, the gunshot’ll draw the patrollers here, and I’ll be long gone.” A hum blended in, Ben’s electric motorcycle. “I got the security IDs from the locker. Be there in about twenty. Watch out for Spy Net. When that angel doesn’t report in, they’ll search for her.” The speaker clicked. Ben had signed off and would stay silent until he arrived.
Trudy scanned the sky through the tree canopy, mostly bare as a cool breeze rattled the remaining dry leaves and prompted her to zip her jacket. In the distant valley, a light blinked over the city skyline, maybe an airplane, too slow to be an angel craft. So far, so good. But from this elevated perch, blinded by the mountain to her rear, it was impossible to be sure.
The gibbous moon hung low, and the usual stars dotted the blackness along with the unusual lights. As it had ever since the angels arrived, the Ring of Fire shone in the pre-dawn hours, a disk of glittering specks that took up a third of the sky.
She whispered, “Hell’s Gate,” the name Ben had given it during the first Rebel Council meeting. To this day, no one in the rebellion faction could be sure why it was out there.
“I found the tech gear,” Jack said through the walkie-talkie. “We’re set. See you in ten, Sis.”
Trudy pressed the talk button. “Roger that. No bogeys in sight. I’ll prep the Jeep.” She attached the radio to her belt, opened the vehicle’s back hatch, and flipped up the cooler’s lid. A cloud of white vapor rose into the humid air. She lifted the cooling blanket. Underneath, several trays of fake vaccine vials lay stacked in layers, five hundred doses. She set the blanket back in place and closed the lid. Perfect. Enough to stop the border invasion. Now if only she and Ben could infiltrate angel headquarters without being caught.
She unzipped a suitcase lying next to the cooler. Their disguises lay folded neatly inside. Once again, perfect. But could they really pull it off? After weeks of preparation, now that the mission was finally underway, nothing seemed certain. Fooling the security drones and getting into angel headquarters would be hard enough, but the rest of the plan?
She shook her head, casting away the doubts. Confidence was the key. Ben and Jack never showed fear, at least while she was around. She had to avoid being the protected kid sister and display the bravado that convinced them to assign her this role. Otherwise they would abort the mission and send her packing.
And, worst of all, thousands of brave patriots would die.
Trudy fished a band from her pocket, tied her hair back with it, and used her fingertips to grasp the edges of the Jeep’s inner side panel. With a grunt, she pried the panel away and set it on the cooler. She grabbed a flashlight from her belt, flicked it on, and shone the beam into the newly revealed compartment. Inside lay an unlabeled toothpaste-like tube—probably the skin-glow cream—and a plastic case no bigger than ring box, both hidden carefully for good reason. If captured, the driver who brought the Jeep here could explain away the vials in the cooler as rejected medical supplies, but these two items had no purpose besides deception.
She removed both, pushed the tube into her pocket, and drew the case closer to her eyes. Inside, a pair of tiny glass containers glimmered, no bigger than grains of rice. How could these nearly invisible vials hold a monster? Yes, the experiments had worked, but those test monsters were dead. Whether or not these capsules could contain a living captive who was desperate to escape remained to be seen.
A hum drifted on the breeze. She pushed the case into her pocket next to the tube, set the Jeep’s panel back in place, and turned the flashlight off as she turned toward the sound. Seconds later, Jack, seated on his electric motorcycle, careened around a curve, one of many on this winding, forest road. As usual, he rode much too close to the edge, only inches from the nearly vertical drop, probably just to scare her. Making her shudder had been a favorite hobby of his ever since she could remember. But she couldn’t bat an eye. Not this time.
When he rolled to a stop next to the Jeep, he shut off the motor and dismounted, wearing dark leather from his jacket to his boots. “Everything ready?”
Trudy nodded. “Ready to kick some angel butt, if that’s what you mean.”
“Well, that and some much dirtier business.” He rolled his motorcycle off the road and into the forest, calling, “Gonna hide my bike. Back in a minute.”
With Jack out of sight, Trudy let herself shudder. That dirtier business would be far dirtier than anything she had ever been a part of, but there was no way around it. It had to be done.
When Jack returned, now without his bike, he stood with Trudy as they both looked at the road. Trudy heaved a sigh. “Any idea what Ben’s thinking about the dirtier business?”
Jack nodded. “He’s conflicted. As usual. But he’ll get the job done. Always has.”
“They chose the wrong side.” Trudy crossed her arms in front. “They deserve it.”
“No need to convince me. It’s kill or be killed. I vote for staying alive. And I don’t think we have to convince Ben. He has too much invested in this.”
“You mean he hopes to find Kat.”
Jack smiled in a sad sort of way. “He’ll never give up. But don’t worry. His head’ll be in the game. He knows what he has to do.”
“You’re right.” Trudy retrieved the plastic case from her pocket and handed it to Jack. “See if they hold a charge.”
“When Ben gets here.” He pushed the case into his pocket and again watched the road. Soon, a new hum drifted in on the gentle breeze. Ben appeared, his bike skidding around the curve and heading for the ledge. At the last second, he leaped off and hit the pavement running, his rifle strapped to his shoulder. The bike flew over the ravine in a plunging arc and disappeared.
Ben sprinted the rest of the way and halted in front of Trudy and Jack, gasping for breath. “Bogeys on my tail. Spynet’s coming.”
“This way!” Trudy hustled to the Jeep, flung open the cooler, and pulled the blanket out. When her brothers joined her, the trio huddled low behind the Jeep and wrapped themselves in the blanket’s frigid material, leaving a small gap to look through, Trudy in the middle.
In the forest, the treetops shook. Red light flashed, bathing everything in a crimson wash. It stayed on for far too long.
Jack whispered, “My bike was still warm. Maybe they spotted that.”
“Small heat signature,” Ben said. “It’ll look like an animal. The bike’s no bigger than a bear.”
“No bears around here.” Jack shuddered. “A big wolf, maybe.”
“Jack?” Trudy nudged his ribs. “Are you afraid of the big, bad wolf? You’re shivering.”
He hissed, “I’m shivering because I’m covered by a liquid nitrogen blanket.”
She grinned. “Yeah. Right. Uh-huh. I believe that.”
“Well, believe what you want. We’ll see who’s shivering when—”
The red light flicked off. The area darkened, and the treetops settled. Seconds later, the light flashed on again well away from the Jeep. Ben pulled the blanket off. “No time to lose. They won’t stop looking, not with a Gen Two missing.”
Trudy took the blanket. “I’ll stow this.”
Ben tossed his rifle to the back of the Jeep, leaped into the driver’s seat, and started the engine while Jack slid into the rear compartment in front of the supplies. The moment Trudy closed the cooler, she hustled to the front passenger’s seat and jumped in. “Let’s roll.”
“Hang on.” Ben shifted into gear and drove onto the road, the headlights off. As hoped, the moon provided enough light. The weather forecast for clear skies had held true.
For the next couple of minutes, all was quiet as Ben drove the Jeep into the valley. In the rear compartment, Jack took the capsules from the case, set them in a rectangular analyzer the size of a matchbox, and plugged it into the laptop computer provided by their mole.
“I’m pushing an electronic signal into the capsules. We’ll know if they’re viable in a couple of minutes.”
Trudy huffed. “They’d better be. Or we’re sunk.”
Now in the valley and on a wider road, Ben turned on the headlights. “You’re not wrong. The only option would be to retreat and come up with a new plan before the invasion.”
Trudy frowned. A new plan? The scouts said that Camp Rogers would send invasion soldiers into the Rebel Sector within days, not weeks or months. When the invaders finished spreading the bacteria, every man, woman, and child would die. There was no time to come up with a new plan. This had to work.
She muttered under her breath. “Retreat is not an option.”
Ben sighed. “I hear you, but those capsules are critical. With any other glitch, we can improvise.”
“Not with the vaccine. If we can’t get the real stuff from the angels—”
“Yeah, baby!” Jack pumped a fist as he stared at his screen. “They’re holding like champs.”
“Good.” Trudy looked out her side window. Dawn’s first rays appeared on the horizon, casting red highlights across thin, high clouds. “Looks like the show’s on.”
Categories: Story Development