Part 8

Earth Takes a Stand

Chapter Eight: Back to the Scrapyard

by Anonymous

At 4:00 in the afternoon, Lisa woke up. She looked to her left, and saw Raymond and Joy in bed with her, still sleeping. Memories washed over her of the hours before. She had just made love to these two people, two of her best friends in the world. She suddenly hated herself for it.

She knew exactly what happened, but at the time she just didn't care. She let her emotions and the pheromones take her someplace she never wanted to be. Days of resisting the pheromones at work had been extremely difficult, even when it was just accidental exposure every once in a while. Now, she felt like all her restraint was for nothing because she had finally given in. She felt dirty.

She got out of bed, waking the other two up when the mattress shifted. "Don't say anything, just let me go." There was no inflection, no emotion in her voice. She wasn't ready to deal with her feelings yet so she simply didn't. Raymond started to reach for her, but thought better of it. He respected her a great deal, and made no further attempt to reach out to her or stop her.

When she was gone, Raymond turned to Joy. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Joy smiled. This was not what he expected from her! "I don't regret anything, except that Lisa had to be a part of it. Be sorry for her, not for me." She reached over and kissed him. "You opened up a whole new world for me."

Raymond didn't know what to say. Joy went on. "I had no idea what it would be like with another woman. It was wonderful, it was soft, and sweet, and she knew just how to touch me. I'll never forget this as long as I live!"

A concerned look spread over Raymond's face. "Are you saying..."

"No, no I'm not saying that at all. I love you, Ray. You opened up a new door for me, you didn't close any." She kissed him again. It was times like this that her high, ditzy voice just didn't fit, she really could be insightful at times. "It wasn't any better, it was just... different. Something I'd want to do again some time if the opportunity came up."

"Are you sure about this? It's not the effects of the alien pheromones?"

"I'm sure. I can't believe I never really thought about this before. Or tried it. Maybe things would have been different."

Raymond glanced at his watch. "Oh geez, it's 4:00? I have some work to do. I have to get that pheromone into my armor and finish the hypodermics. Did Dave drop off those disks I asked him for?"

"Yes, he did. What's on them?"

"He improved the PCHs. I told him what the PCSs found about the way the aliens were destroying them, and he made a few adjustments to the programming. Shoot, that's right, I still have to fix that too, the software isn't any good without the improved machinery." Raymond got up quickly, dressed, and headed to the basement. This was probably going to take the rest of the day.


When Lisa got home she was almost startled to see Steve and Jennifer there. "What took you so long, Lisa? We've been waiting for a long time."

"I don't want to talk about it. Not right now anyway. Everything's going to Hell right now, and I don't know if I should blame the aliens or Raymond or myself or what. I just don't want to deal with it anymore."

Steve and Jennifer looked at each other for a moment. "Um, Lisa, we have some more bad news."

"Oh God now what." Lisa was getting sick of this. Her entire world had been falling apart ever since Raymond decided he was going to play superhero a few months ago.

"The police came by. They were looking for me, they know I have something to do with all this. Jennifer answered the door and pretended to be you so we could get rid of them. I don't know if they'll be back or not." There. He said it.

"Oh. Great. Perfect. Now I'm not me. I can't go to the police anymore if this gets out of hand. I can't answer my door if it's someone I don't know. Why is this happening to me! All I wanted to do was help out Raymond!!" Lisa ran into her bedroom and slammed her door.

"Well, that could have gone better."


Shortly after leaving Frank's place, Laura and Chris were back on the roof of another building. They were still no closer to finding Fairchild than before. On the plus side, they hadn't run into Bob yet either.

"So what do we do if we find him, anyway?"

"Hmm? What was that Chris?" Laura hadn't been paying attention.

"What if we run into Bob? What do we do? We've seen some of what he can do now. He held his own against Fairchild, two Arions, and three Kintzi. How are we going to stop him?"

"Well, he's got to have a weakness somewhere. Like, I don't know, he is only a Terran in that armor."

Chris looked at her disapprovingly. It wasn't all that long ago he was "only a Terran." She was right though, that was a major weakness of his. "Well, that would mean that if he ever accelerated too sharply, he'd black out like a fighter pilot pulling too many G's."

"That shouldn't be too hard to pull off. He's only got those two little jet engines. I could overpower them easily and get him going at about 50 G's without breaking a sweat. And you said those walking cars were easy enough to break once you know the trick. They don't turn real fast."

"Plus, he's completely dependent on the armor. Without it, he's just like anyone else. If we could catch him without it, or find some way to deactivate it..."

"Yeah, I'm sure it has a big off switch on the back. I'll hold him down, you push it." Laura was still bitter about not being able to find Fairchild, and was taking it out on Chris.

"That's not what I mean and you know it. Remember when the Guardian was around? The Arions tried an electromagnetic pulse to shut down his armor. Only it didn't work because it wasn't that kind of armor. Bob's armor is. If we could get our hands on one of those devices, hey, Black Ops has the ones that they took from that fight, don't they?"

"I think they do, Fairchild only mentioned it once or twice real quick. We could probably get one or two from them."


They both turned around, and saw another of the metal spheres that Bob kept sending out. "Hey you! Get back here!" Laura flew after the sphere, temporarily forgetting about Chris.

"Hey! Laura! I can't... Aw shit. This, this is going to sting." Chris looked over the side of the building. There was no one below him. The funny thing about suddenly being transformed into a virtual superman is that you never quite get rid of the primal fears engraved in everyone's mind. For instance, the fear of plummeting 30 stories onto unyielding asphalt and concrete. Chris held his breath, and jumped off the edge. He was right, it did sting.

Chris followed Laura and the sphere as well as he could. Even though his 40 miles per hour were nothing compared to her power of flight, she was following a zig-zagging sphere and all the side to side motion slowed her down. There are three scrap metal yards in Los Angeles. Aurora fought the first walking car in one, Laura and Chris found the second in another. They found Bob in the third.

"Welcome to my parlor, said the spider to the fly." The sphere flew behind the armor and hovered for a moment. "Tell me where Aurora is." Bob had his familiar overly calm demeanor back. Still, there were two of them, and only one of him...

"We were about to ask you the same thing, Bob." Laura started. She adopted a fighting stance in front of Chris, protectively, Chris guessed?

"You may call me Raymond. I assume from your question she hasn't returned from the moon yet. Maybe she never will."

"You bastard! What do you mean by that?" Laura noticed that the armor looked a little different, especially around the arms. He'd probably modified it recently.

"Aurora flew the two of us to the moon in our last battle. I made it back. She apparently never did. I can only assume she suffocated." Raymond did not return Laura's threatening tone of voice or fighting stance. He simply stood and talked. There was something about that attitude that could put off a fight for a while.

"If I find out she's dead, I'll kill you with my bare hands, do you understand me? Kill you!" Laura was turning red with rage. She felt her heat vision power welling up in her eyes. Tears could wait, it was time for fire, not water.

"She brought it on herself. I had no intention of taking this to the moon and back. If she dies, it was by her own stupidity. We never asked you aliens to show yourselves on Earth. We never wanted to turn our planet into your battleground. She got what she deserved."

"You son of a bitch! Don't talk that way about Aurora! How dare you!" Chris had to make a token effort to hold her back, or she would have flown into a violent rage then and there. Raymond remained calm and as unmoving as a statue.

"Aurora does not belong here, and neither do you. Allow me to introduce you to the Pheromone Chemical Hunter Mark 2. It's faster and deadlier than the ones you destroyed before. Everything can be improved."

The familiar mechanical screech came from behind a pile of scrap, and another car on legs emerged from behind it. It screeched again and began to walk toward the three of them.

"Do you like the screams they make? It's a new sound I made myself. A little on the symbolic side, I'll admit. It's a sheet of metal being torn in half digitally combined with a hundred Terrans dying in agony. I took the sounds from news footage of your battles."

Chris let go of Laura and decided that they needed some answers. "Where do you get off fighting us? We're only here because the Arions are. We're trying to get rid of them. We're on the same side here, damnit! Open your eyes!"

Instead of answering, Raymond fired his claw-cable from his left hand. Neither Laura nor Chris had seen him do this before, and were caught by surprise. The claw caught Chris by the arm and closed sharply around him. "Beta command prompt 4, KILL." The cable reeled in with so much force that Chris was lifted into the air, and thrown toward the PCH when the claw released him.

"I'll kill you!!" An enraged Laura rushed toward Raymond with every ounce of strength and hate she had. Her hate blinded her, and Raymond's Tai-Chi training saved him. He rolled around her when she threw a wild punch, planting his elbow in her back. He followed up quickly with a quick blow to the back of her head.

Chris got up quickly after he landed. He saw the PCH walking directly toward him, and rushed out of the way just in time to avoid a hail of ion cannon fire. That was twice he'd nearly been hit by them. He tried rushing behind the behemoth again, but this one turned much more quickly than the previous one, meeting his rush head on with its halogen stare. Chris dove for another pile of scrap as soon as he realized that wasn't going to work this time.

Laura was in no condition to fight. She was frustrated, and angry, and threw nothing but wild punches. She couldn't think straight, and Raymond was taking advantage of all of this. "I hope Aurora is dead. That would make one less of you freaks to have to kill." He was trying to keep her enraged, and it was working.

Laura was backed into a wall before long. Liberal use of his laser and physical blows managed to trap her between himself and a pile of crushed cars. Instead of attacking him directly though, she turned and kicked the bottom of the pile, sending the 20 foot pile of steel, glass and rubber toppling over onto Raymond!

Raymond raised his arms to try to stop the avalanche, but it was a futile effort. There were too many cars, and the one he stopped meant nothing to the other five that hit him. He was buried before he even knew what was happening.

Laura rushed over to try to help Chris, but as soon as she got anywhere near the PCH, it turned its attention away from Chris and began firing at her. She flew into the air, hoping that it would confuse the PCH, but it tilted upward to continue firing. She dodged to the side and the ion blasts missed her by inches.

An enormous crashing behind her distracted her for an instant as Raymond freed himself from the twisted wrecks that held him. She was nearly hit by the blasts again, but managed to get out of the way in time.

Still half buried in the steel and rubber, Raymond opened fire with his machine gun. But instead of aiming high, for Laura, he seemed to be aiming for the PCH. A painful cry told her why. Chris must have been sneaking up on the thing while she was taking it's attention away from him.

Laura flew down to Chris, hurt badly by the burst of .50 caliber fire. "Chris, look out!" The PCH had turned again and was already ready to fire at Chris! He might not survive that kind of assault!

Laura shielded Chris's body with her own. "Get out of the way!" Chris rolled behind a mountain of metal to recover, and saw that death look in Laura's eyes again.

As the PCH continued to pummel Laura with it's cannons, she turned, not dodging, not moving. Twin violet streams shot from her eyes, every fiber of her being feeling nothing but rage and hate. Her heat vision enveloped the PCH, turning it red hot. The halogen lamps exploded, the metal began to soften. Soon the cannons had heated to the point where they became useless and stopped firing. Finally, the fuel tank ignited. The top of the PCH exploded into flame, standing motionless for a moment before toppling over noisily.

Laura turned to see Raymond, now free of the cars, fire his claw-cables at her. She twisted out of the way of one, but the other caught her. Raymond reeled her toward him, and before she could get her bearings to fly, he turned, flipping her around like a human wrecking ball on a steel cable. She collided time and time again with the scrap metal all around her, unable to get her bearings or do much to save herself. Finally, Raymond brought her to a stop at his feet. "You and your kind must die. I'm going to see to it that no more innocent human lives are lost in your war!"

At that, six small squares flipped around on his armor, revealing a glowing red void beneath them. "This is the pure heat of the nuclear fire that drives my armor. It's powerful enough to hurt even you. Say hello to Aurora in the next life." Despite all her invulnerability, Laura felt like she was being cooked alive. The scrap metal around her first glowed, the softened, the began to melt around her. The ion blasts hadn't done her any favors, and combined with the radioactive heat from Raymond's armor, she was unable to get up and fight back!

"You get the Hell away from her!" Chris found himself saying those words to Raymond for the second time as he threw the remains of the PCH at him. He was badly bruised by the .50 caliber, but he had to save her.

The PCH body hit Raymond full-on. It sent him sprawling across the scrap yard and into another pile of stacked wrecks. Chris ran head-on toward Raymond, colliding with the bottom of the stack of cars and bringing the whole thing down on the armor. Regardless, he could hear the sounds of Raymond struggling to get back out of the pile.

"Laura, get up! Get up! We have to fight! We have to win! Our lives are at stake here!" Laura slowly got up, her Velorian healing abilities trying desperately to repair the damage she had taken. He was shaking her, trying to get her back to reality, when Raymond's arm poked out from underneath the pile of cars.

Chris turned just in time to see Raymond's particle beam cannon begin to fire. The "palm" of his claw glowed briefly, telegraphing the attack. He twisted out of the way in time to avoid the actual blast, but it hit a pile of garbage behind him. The chain reaction increased far too rapidly in the scrap and caused an explosion from within, knocking Chris about 70 feet away, where he lay unmoving.

Laura, once again fueled by rage, got to her feet and rushed toward Raymond, who was still buried up to his waist in the cars. She took a swing at him, but he caught her arm in his claw. She tried with her other hand, but with the same result. In her weakened state, Raymond was able to twist her around and apply a wrestling hold on her. As he continued to pull himself from the wreckage, Laura became aware of the scent of honey and wildflowers.


"What do you think, Brok?" Detective Whitely was going over the clues and leads they had when they got a call about the fight in the scrap yard. The squad cars couldn't do anything about a fight between super-powerful beings so they were just trying to keep people away from the site. "Do you buy the Jencott story?"

"Not in a million years. Too nervous. And we would have seen something about her wedding ring or her missing arm. I don't even think that was Lisa."

"That means it was Mrs. Iwikos. She already got there by the time we stopped by to question Jencott. Jencott must have been gone."

Another man approached the two at their desk. "Bad news on the carbo-metal. We can't find any trace of the sales records on the chemicals used to feed it."

"How can you not find records on them? They're harder than hell to come by, three of them can only be purchased in the United States, two of which are heavily controlled substances that someone must have records on, and four of them can only be purchased from three companies worldwide. Are you sure you've checked all possibilities?"

"In triplicate. I don't think he's actually buying any. He either stole a stash of the original formula that was thought destroyed, or he's not feeding it."

"Well the armor's still in good shape, so we can rule out that he's not feeding it, can't we?"

"But the chemicals need to be stored in liquid nitrogen once they're mixed. It's unlikely he has a stash somewhere."

Detective Whitely was flustered at this point. "Then somebody tell me what's going on!"

Officer Brok didn't want this to get out of hand, so he spoke up. "Um... maybe we should try to find Ms. Jencott again and bring her here for questioning."


"We can't stay here, Jennifer. The police have already been here, they'll probably be back. We just need a place to go."

Jennifer was about 2 more things going wrong from hysterics. "Why are they coming after us? We're not who they want. Why don't they just leave us alone?"

"We're their only link to Raymond. If they find us, they can find Raymond. What they're going to do with an eight foot suit of power armor once they find it, I don't know. But they want him."

Just then, Lisa came into the room. "I've made a decision. I need you two to leave. I can't deal with this anymore. I need out of this whole deal."

"It's okay, Lisa. We were just planning on leaving ourselves. Where should we go? Do you have any ideas?"

"I don't know. A hotel, Raymond's place, any family who can take you in?" Their conversation was cut short by the sound of a car pulling into the driveway, followed by a knock on the door. "Shit, you two go hide."


"GO!" Lisa went to answer the door. "Hello?"

"Who are you?" Detective Whitely demanded.

"I'm Lisa Jencott. Who are you?"

"My name is detective Joseph Whitely. I have some questions for you. Can I see some ID, miss?" Lisa handed him her driver's license. "This checks out. Have you had anyone in your house in the past 24 hours?"

"No, no one. Why?"

"When we came here earlier another woman answered the door. She was about 5 foot 7, brown hair, missing her right arm, apparently married. Do you know who she might be?"

"No, I have no idea. There was someone in my house!?" Lisa tried to act surprised. "I didn't notice anything missing."

"We'd like to take you downtown for a few questions if that's all right with you."

"Oh, that won't be..." Lisa remembered Steve and Jennifer in her closet. "I... yes, that would be better."

Detective Whitely showed an instant of suspicion, and then walked out the door with Lisa. Moments later, Steve and Jennifer came out of Lisa's closet. "That was close. She's right. We do have to leave. Just, where?"


Kayne was outside of Captain Thaylen's quarters, trying to calm himself. He knew that he couldn't walk into his quarters burning with rage as he was. Captain Thaylen's race was deeply psychic, and he could sense Kayne's stronger emotions with little effort. One was not allowed to be seething with anger when confronting the captain. Another of his race's ridiculous regulations.

After counting to 10 for the fifth time, he figured he was as calm as he could get. He knocked on the door but received no answer. He knocked again and still received no answer. He felt the anger welling up again despite his best efforts to suppress it. Why did the captain have to be so... so damn un-Arion? An Arion captain would never leave his position without informing at least all those directly under his command.

Following the only course of action he could think of, Kayne stormed onto the bridge to get some information. "Where is Captain Thaylen!?" He demanded of the entire bridge crew.

A beta at the helm was the first to answer. "The captain left for Earth's surface shortly after the Velorian was brought aboard, sir. He gave no explanation." That was just like the captain. He told those under him only what they absolutely needed to know, and what they asked him directly. Few had the audacity or the rank to address the captain directly.


Meanwhile, in a partially ruined Arion communications base in San Fransisco, Bacstin was hard at work trying to get a clear signal from the Arion communications network. When she finally did, she found out a few surprising things, all useful to her. The opportunity to hurt the Arion military back had finally presented itself. "Hey, Tabral?"

Tabral woke up from his nap. "Hmm?"

"I think it's time to put operation Chess Match into action."

"Where's the game board?"

"Orbit. Come on, we've got to pick up some pawns in Los Angeles."