There were hundreds of them, maybe more. Aliens swarmed like locusts over the cracked remains of city streets and climbed over broken buildings. Peeking back out from his hiding place, Ryan saw one that stood out from all the rest. Human limbs and features dotted the swarm below, evidence of the partial transformation they were all trapped in. All except one.
It was bigger than the others. Its skin was mottled brown and its arms bulged with muscle. It seemed to be walking on its hands, like some of the extinct animals he’d seen pictures of in biology class. He couldn’t remember the name, gorilla maybe? This thing was all alien though. Its legs had shriveled up to the same size as the extra arms most of the aliens had coming out of their chests. Ryan guessed the four limbs were all used as arms. Each ended in a hand that could manipulate objects.
“We have company.” He sent the thought silently through the radio waves to Theo. “Lots of company. And I think a pure alien.”
“That’s not possible. The Hedron was completely destroyed,” Theo thought.
The entire army down below seemed to shift and turn around the ten foot alien. They were following its command, but it didn’t pause to give orders and it didn’t seem to be saying anything. They all just knew what it wanted.
Two pairs of red eyes stuck out of the creature’s face. They moved across the ground around it, taking everything in. Then they swept up higher, and focused right on his hiding spot. Ryan ducked and pressed his face into the rock, not daring to move.
He was so focused on listening for movement up the cliff face behind him that he didn’t recognize the sound coming from the sky above until it was almost on top of him. It started as a low hum. Then the noise increased in pitch as it got closer, but it also got deeper too, reaching a frequency below sound, one that shook your bones and the ground around you.
The angry grey clouds that almost never left the sky tore open and spat out mass of metal. Big birds had gotten the nickname because of their size and for the irony. Nothing could be further from the graceful pictures of birds from the archives than this rapidly approaching blob with wings.
Rock shifted behind him. Looking back, Ryan’s breath caught in his throat. The pureblooded alien had scampered up the cliff in moments. It stood on its two muscular arms right above his head. It hadn’t seen him though, not yet. All four of its eyes were focused up in the sky.
The big bird continued its descent, falling like a stone. The whining scream of its jet engines got louder and louder until they drowned out almost everything else. Just when it seemed the plane couldn’t possibly help but hit the ground, it started to pull up and level off. Cargo bay doors opened on the underside of the big bird.
Suddenly the jet engines swiveled, turning to point down at the ground. They flared, belching fire. The big bird hung in the air for a moment, less than fifty feet above Ryan’s head. Warning lights flashed on the inside of his helmet, giving him a split second to tense up his body before cables tipped with claws shot out of the cargo bay, latching onto him, Theo, and everything tagged with a radio transmitter.
The alien howled as it lunged for him, the first sound he’d heard it make. The unearthly call followed him as the cable drew him up into the big bird. The cargo doors swung closed, leaving Ryan with the roar of the engines and the memory of the alien shaking its fist at him in defiance.