Vaporized ll, page 17
John held the door open for her and the pair of them carried two more packs out, placing them on the platform between the lifeboats. Amber glanced at the Pacific, which stretched out as far as the eye could see behind and wondered if she’d ever see land again. The sun was heading towards the horizon once again, indicating another day was almost over.
She turned and followed John back to the storage cabin for more packs, the only comfort, the fact that they were getting off this floating bomb and the fact that the west coast of the USA couldn’t be that far away.
The creature scuttled along the ventilation duct towards the light. Its senses told it that something was wrong. It had been unable to detect the heat source of its prey for some time now and knew that it was now vulnerable to attack. It had had to do the only thing it could, which was to initiate sterilisation of the immediate habitat by other means. Very soon, the entire structure and anything within visible range would be vaporized.
As Amber and John emerged from the storage cabin for the third time, Amber thought she caught a waft of ammonia, coming from along the corridor. She glanced towards the Rec Room. The corridor was empty and apart from the low hum of the ship’s engines, quiet. They both continued out, towards the lifeboat platform and dumped the third stack of provisions off.
The sound pulse reverberated up through the tanker, shaking the deck beneath their feet. The pulse was stronger now, suggesting that something was about to happen, and happen soon.
“One more pack each and we need to go!” Amber shouted.
John nodded and they both ran back along the superstructure, in through the main door and into the storeroom for the last time.
“Let’s get these bloody suits off, I can’t breathe,” John said, unzipping the silver suit and pulling it off.
Amber hesitated, thought what the hell; they were getting off the ship. She removed hers and they both grabbed the last pack of water each and headed out.
As they rounded the corner to head towards the lifeboat, something gripped Amber’s right ankle, and yanked her, sending her to the deck, face first.
She hit the deck with a hard thump and felt herself being dragged backwards. She turned to look, and saw a thick green tendril snake around the superstructure from the direction of the door.
John stopped as he heard her screams, turned and dropped the pack of water as he saw Amber being pulled backwards to the end of the superstructure.
John ran for his shotgun, propped up against the side of the ship and ran for the corner.
As he rounded the superstructure, Amber was wrenched into the air, six feet above his head. At the same moment a large, mature alien burst through the main door. It must have come down the corridor just as they’d left the storeroom for the last time, John realised.
The creature was on its hind legs, standing some ten feet tall, its tendril spilling from its abdomen, swinging Amber about in the air like a rag doll, some six feet off the deck.
John fired the shotgun, but the result was unnoticeable – no visible wound, and no apparent injury. He fired again, with no impact. The creature’s amour-plated keratin-like skin appeared to be deflecting the shots.
Suddenly, above the pulse of another bone-penetrating sound wave from the prism in the engine room, came another, more recognisable roar – quickly deafening and coming from above.
John looked up to the sky, and to his amazement, saw two objects, unfamiliar at first, apart from the markings on the wings, USAF. A few hundred feet above the tanker, hovering, their single rear swivel engines directed down, roaring and glowing, were two F35B fighter STOVL jets.
John looked on in amazement, as one of the jets manoeuvred itself directly above the tanker, hovering some thirty feet off the deck, sending debris and crates flying. It then proceeded to unload a salvo of 25 mm projectiles at the direction of the superstructure, and the creature standing there. The result was instantaneous. Amongst the sparks of the projectiles hitting the steel superstructure, the alien holding Amber exploded in a haze of green goo, which sprayed out over the deck in a thirty feet arc. Amber wasn’t hit, but fell six feet to the deck as the creature was instantly killed.
John ran to Amber and lifted her up.
“What the hell is going on?” she winced, above the roar of the F35, which was proceeding to land some fifty feet away on the deck.
“I think we’re being rescued,” John said. “Can you walk?”
Amber nodded. “I think so; it’s my hip, its agony.”
John helped Amber, as she limped along the deck to the waiting jet.
As they reached the jet, its engine now powering down, the canopy popped open and swivelled back on a set of hydraulic rams.
The pilot removed his helmet, lifted what looked like a small radio to his mouth, which must have used some kind of speaker system, and said, “Are you guys alright? My name is Gus Ramsey, United States Airforce pilot, Groom Lake base. I’m here on the orders of Major Colin Montgomery to rescue you.”
Amber smiled for joy and wiped away the tears that were already rolling down her cheeks, and mouthed, thank you.
“Each jet has only been adapted to carry one person. One of you needs to come with me, the other in the other jet,” he said.
The other F35 was already descending, and preparing to land further back along the deck, between two upended cargo containers.
“You get in this one,” John said, helping Amber up a set of steps that had sprung from the aircrafts flank.
“Welcome aboard ma’am. I can see you’ve had one hell of a party on here,” the pilot said, smiling.
Amber just smiled, unable to believe what was happening. She sat directly behind the pilot, and within seconds, the canopy was swivelling back down. She pulled on the helmet she’d been given, and then felt the rumble as the jet’s powerful engine powered back up.
The jet lifted off the deck and slowly turned forty-five degrees whilst still hovering. As her plane continued to ascend, Amber watched as John boarded the other jet a short distance away. The jet then accelerated forward and up into the blue sky above.
Amber felt the G-force pin her to her seat as the jet accelerated. After a few minutes of flight, through the helmet’s visor she was able to make out the American coastline way below. She traced the coastline along, recognising San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge spanning the entrance to it. The view was beautiful and Amber gazed down in awe.
“We’re just passing over San Francisco, ETA to destination thirty-five minutes. Tanker is approximately seven hundred and fifty nautical miles south-west,” the pilot spoke, his voice coming into her helmet speaker.
As Amber continued looking down, a pinprick of light, way off in the ocean caught her attention. The light continued to radiate outwards, travelling towards the coast. It reached the coast a few seconds later, engulfing the Golden Gate Bridge and bay area as it did.
The F35 banked right, accelerating and climbing higher into the blue sky.
“It’s a good job we got you off that tanker ma’am,” the pilot said. “It doesn’t look good down there.”
Amber continued looking down as the light started to fade. She couldn’t really see much, but the bridge and urban areas of San Francisco seemed to have gone and she could only see land and ocean in their place.
The jet continued forward, Amber feeling a little nauseas and sleepy as she continued to feel the effect of the G-force pinning her to her seat.
Another voice then came through the helmet, one she recognised; the soft tones of Major Colin Montgomery.
“Hello Amber, this is Colin. Sorry for the surprise visit, but we couldn’t risk the enemy getting wind of our rescue mission. It looks like we got you off the tanker just in time. A two-hundred mile swathe of the west coast has just been vaporized by whatever was on that ship. I’m very sorry we couldn’t save your friends. We’re bringing you to our base. You will both be medically examined and well looked after, don’t worry.”<
“Thank you,” was all Amber could say, before she felt the plane accelerate again, this time the G’s too much for her as she felt a warm darkness envelop her. The last thought on her mind, relative safety, and the reassuring words from Major Colin Montgomery, saying don’t worry.
Amber Lee will return in 2017.
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Rosser, Simon, Vaporized ll