Part 2

Earth Takes a Stand

Chapter Two: They Meet

by Anonymous

That night, after the three had enough of speculating, Chris suggested that they start searching around Los Angeles. After all, if someone was after Aurora, the best way to find him would be to let him find her. Besides, she had to go back to the beach for her backpack anyway.

After a brief flight over, a little digging in the sand, and an exchange of "good luck," the three seperated to cover more ground. After all, Aurora had beaten these machines with little problem and it would probably not require the three of them to handle anything else that would be thrown at them!

Chris headed in the direction of the particle physics lab, thinking that the disturbance there might have had something to do with the fact that the car-creature and one of the orbs had energy weapons. They had all agreed that the coincidence had been far too strong to simply ignore.

Laura decided that since all the machines were made from scrap, she would take a look at the srap metal yards. It turned out there were three of them in Los Angeles. A lot of cars tended to get heavily damaged in this traffic, especially since the Arion/Velorian conflicts had started a few years ago.

Meanwhile, Aurora decided that a rare personal apperance would attract quite a bit of attention. She flew back to the site where she had first encountered the strange orb with the laser, and began to sign autographs and bend tire irons into balloon animals for people. She was reveling in the attention for a change when she heard something like a jet flying in her direction, only much lower and not nearly as loud.

Looking up, she saw a winged armored figure streaking towards her. Trailing twin blue flames from behind the wings themselves, it lowered to the street as a plane making it's landing approach, lowing the legs to eventually come to a running stop about a hundred feet in front of her. The voice boomed from over a loudspeaker built into the powerful looking suit, "In the name of every race's right to choose it's own destiny, I order you to leave this world and return to your planet of origin, or the nearest convenient pocket dimention. You have 24 hours."

The armor was clearly built for function and not form. Still, it had a bit of a sinister look to it that was completely accidental. Something about the cold functionality of it gave a few of it's parts an extra something she couldn't quite place. The eyes were narrow and slanted sharply downword. The arms ended not in hands and fingers, but in three pincer-like claws. The wings, even when folded in half and resting flat on his back, gave it a demonic appearance. And the .50 calibre machine gun mounted on the right wing didn't help matters. The armor was so loaded with gadgets it looked like a mad scientist's grarage sale gone horribly awry. Most unsettling was the fact that she could not see inside the armor, as it seemed to be made of a very dense material like lead, but much stronger.

"Oh yeah? Well, what about the passenger pidgeon? And the dodo bird and the bengal tiger and the panda? You hypocrites didn't let them decide they're own destiny!" The armored figure paused. The cold steel helmet revealed nothing about the emotions of the pilot, but a slow smirk still grew across her face with the realization that she had just embarressed him in front of a large crowd of people.

Finally, he spoke again with the same booming loudspeaker. "In the name of the right of all races with particle beam technology to choose their own destiny, I order you to leave this world and return to your planet of origin or the nearest pocket dimention. You have 23 hours, 58 minutes." A giggle spread over the crowd as they waited for her to do something.

The two were clearly at a standoff now. She was out of witty comments, and he apparently seemed to think that tin can with wings would let him stand up to her. "You have 23 hours, 57 minutes. I suggest you use your time to begin collecting your valuables." Underneath a mask, more than a mask actually, it was easy to him to emit an aura of confidence. No emotion was visible under his helmet, even though he might actually be sweating blood. If you didn't see his smooth motions as he came in for his landing, you would swear that there was no man inside that suit. He was depersonified under a mass of weapons and steel.

She on the other hand had to put significant effort into just standing there. First of all, it was her move. He had issued the challenge and had only to wait. Secondly, she had no mask to hide any nervousness or confusion, only her resolve. Lastly, there's just something about having a swivel mounted .50 calibre machine gun strapped to your back that gives you the upper hand in a negotiation.

"Who do you think you are? You can't just kick someone off a planet. Where would I go?" She decided to try to talk him down, humiliate him in front of the crowd, it might end at that.

"Where did you come from?" That was low. You can't answer a question with another question. Besides, there was no way he could know that a Protector can never return to Velor. The male-dominated society would never allow a woman, who had so recently felt like a goddess given flesh, to bring her newly found ego and assertivness back to the homeworld. But how do you explain that to a crowd of people expecting a powerful comeback from a powerful woman? Or to an adversary who is just waiting for you to admit any sign of weakness? Admitting that she had nowhere to go was simply not an option.

"Look, I'm here because your planet needs a Protector. There are other alien races out there nearly as powerful as I am, ones who could sweep over this planet and 20 more just like it if I wasn't here to defend it for you. I'm doing you a favor here, and I'd appreciate a 'Thank you' once in a while. Instead, I get a lunatic dressed in metal ordering me off the planet. That's gratitude." She was rather pleased with herself. The only comeback possible would be something along the lines of 'We didn't ask you to come here.' and she was ready for that one. She'd say some more about the Arions and how they weren't exactly invited either, and then it would be over. There would be nothing more to say and he'd have to leave in shame. Despite herself, the smirk began to curl the edges of her mouth again.

"We're not children." Her jaw nearly dropped, but she caught herself. She wondered if anyone saw her expression change or if they were too focused on the guy in the armor to notice. "We don't need your protection. We don't want your protection. We can take care of ourselves. 6 billion people can hold their own against any threat that you could stop by yourself, to think otherwise is an insult.

"No, we're not invulnerable and we can't pick up cars and yes, we can get hurt. But it's our planet, our destiny, and we won't be kicked around by the likes of you or your hostile alien friends you think you're protecting us from. I'm taking our planet back and quite frankly there's nothing you or anyone else can do to stop me."

Well, that just about said it all. "You really don't have any idea what you're up against! The Arions could rip a person in half, demolish a building single-handedly, mow down your armies, conquer your planet without breaking a sweat! You can't hurt them any more than you could hurt me." Oops. She realized what she had said the instant she had said it. She had just challenged him to a fight, albiet inadvertantly. There was no way to back out of it now. She had to convince him and everyone else that she really can't be hurt by anything on this planet, and that included this armored loudmouth. She had to convince them all that they needed her.

With a wirr and a click, the right wing swivled down to attach itself to his right arm, the .50 calibre locking into a forward position facing down the wing now instead of to the front of it as it had been in flight. A burst of fire, a hail of bullets, and a volley of lead that would have torn holes in a car's engine block caught her off guard as she was cursing herself for saying something so obviously stupid. Several people in the crowd screamed, others ducked, many did both. This assault had come completely without warning. Aurora was thrown back onto the sidewalk from the street, hitting a streetlight as she fell uncontrolably backwards and bending it nearly 90 degrees with the impact. "Consider yourself hurt."

The gun's barrel was still smoking as it and the wing swiveled back to their original position folded onto his back, all without any apparent action on the part of the man in the armor. No buttons, no siwtches, no gesture. It was like the armor was an extention of himself, every action as natural as blinking.

She picked herself up from the street with fire in her eyes and nothing more than an uncontrollable desire to hurt him back in her mind. He hit her, even though it didn't really hurt, and embarrased her, even though anyone caught in a volley of machine gun fire had every excuse in the world to fall down. And here he was, still standing there like he was invulnerable, like he could win a fight without moving from that spot. He had even holstered his weapon!

"All right, I've tried yours, now you Try Mine!" She was obviously furious as she raced toward the shiney metal armor, determined to crush this fool before he could make another move. She was doing about 65 when she hit him, giving his armor a good dent and sending him flying into the side of a convenience store. Now they were even.

A silver claw reached up from a pile of bricks and Twinkies to get a handhold and he righted himself. Stepping out from the wreckage, he spoke again. "If you are still on this planet in 23 hours and 45 mintues, we'll continue this. But away from anyone who can get hurt. Go home." At that, the wings unfurled behind him. The twin blue flames erupted once more from the engines, and he took off trailing two clouds of light grey smoke that dissipated quickly. There was no clear winner here. It was also obvious that neither one of them would back down now. In 23 hours she was going to have to be ready to defend her right to stay on Earth, but for now, she had a little cleaning up to do.