Ryan surveyed the battlefield. The unconscious bodies of the aliens were dotted around the strange antenna they’d been protecting. The antenna was cobbled together from scrap metal, but in a jigsaw of geometric shapes that weren’t easy to look at. It didn’t belong on Earth.
“What do you make of it?” It was strange hearing Theo’s voice out loud. Now that the threat was neutralized, they could speak.
“Whatever it is, it’s ugly,” Ryan said.
“We should radio in, command will want to take a look at this,” Theo said.
“Alright, let’s tag them and secure the area.”
Ryan and Theo went around to each of the unconscious aliens and attached a radio receiver. Then they tried to radio in.
“Are you getting anything?” Ryan asked Theo.
The shattered remains of buildings rose up on every side. At one time, this’d been a city. More people had lived here than Ryan had met in his entire life.
“I’ll climb up and get a signal.” Theo didn’t seem to mind Ryan volunteering himself.
The path he’d used on his approach took too long to rise up out of the valley of rubble. He didn’t want to go the other way either, where the aliens must’ve come from. He grabbed a rusted steel beam and started pulling his way up the side.
A few minutes later, he looked back down and saw Theo and the antenna were small and far away. He was most of the way to the top when green bars appeared on the side of his helmet’s display, showing he had reception.
Whether it was instinct or the fact that he was alone again, Ryan thought his message instead of spoke it. Command would get it either way, and Ryan felt like playing it safe.
“Unit Four to command. We have six tagged hostiles and some strange tech.”
“This is command, send visuals of the technology.”
Ryan brought up the last images automatically saved by his suit. There was a good one with the antenna in it, so he selected that and wirelessly uploaded it. A few minutes crawled by. He couldn’t exactly get comfortable hanging off the edge of a cliff, especially when that cliff could turn into an avalanche if he shifted his weight wrong.
Just when he was wondering if there was a problem with the frequency, a reply came in.
“Unit Four, tag the tech for extraction. We’re sending a big bird.”
Ryan grimaced inside his suit. He had a few minutes to mentally prepare himself, or a few minutes for the dread to build, depending on how he looked at it. This wasn’t his favorite type of pickup.
Ryan radioed down to Theo to put a receiver on the antenna, and he was about to head down and join him when he heard a scraping sound. It was coming from over the top of the ridge he was hanging off of. His suit’s capacitors had reset after his climb up, so he figured it wouldn’t hurt to go the rest the way and check it out. Pulling himself the last of the way up, Ryan looked out over the edge. He immediately ducked back, hoping he hadn’t been seen.