Ellane Williams bitterly hates the aliens who are invading the Earth, but when she takes a stand against them she gets more than she bargained for.
Join Ellane as she struggles with an unwelcome metamorphosis, an unwanted new identity, and the end of life as she knows it.
To survive, we must all fight not to become the evil we oppose…
Until I rounded the corner of the engineering building and saw the rocket chair hovering in the university courtyard, I guess I thought I was used to the idea of Allacore attacks. I thought, like so many around me, that I knew everything there was to know about them.
But an Allacore too lazy to fly? I despised them, but this was a new low even for them. This Allacore must have stood over ten feet tall–if she ever got out of that flying chair of hers long enough to stand. Her wings must have been curled against her back, because I couldn’t see any evidence of them at all. The splintered ragged tips of her unkempt talons jutted out even when they were retracted. Her close-cropped white hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in weeks. Their snowy white wing feathers and their equally white hair were the most attractive features Allacores had, if the word attractive could even be used, but on her neither were visible. Her gold metal armor must have been a sight to behold when it was new. At this point, though, it was dingy and pitted, and only added to her overall impression of disrepair.
Allacore. Just the name was enough to make my skin crawl, and here was one in my hometown! I stood there in shock as she hovered over the university path, herding students just like me into the holding cells that had been set up on the grass. We were out of her direct line of sight for the moment, but all too soon I knew we would be following our glassy-eyed peers into those dismal little cells. The Allacore mind-control devices were efficient. We were only spared the effect because we had not been there when she fired it. But she could handle the two of us easily enough. After that, who knew? Hard labor in their factories, servitude in their homes, forced indenture on their small attack ships–any of a hundred unpleasant fates could await this newest group of prisoners once they were taken back to the enormous generation ship that had brought the Allacore here, the generation ship that even now orbited Earth.
I glanced at Trevyn standing there beside me, his face a picture of shock as he surveyed the scene playing in front of us, fresh out of a nightmare. Of course we had all heard about the Allacore raids, but who expected them this far inland, here in the middle of nowhere?
Before I had recovered my wits, Trevyn had let go of my hand and was striding purposefully toward the Allacore’s hovering chair. I should have guessed he would do something of the sort–Trevyn never could stand by and watch injustice. The battle may have been doomed, but he was determined to fight it, even unarmed. He would not go quietly, like the groups of hypnotized students around him.
“Commander! I demand that you cease this at once!” Trevyn’s voice rang off the nearby buildings. I found time to wonder how he had known the Allacore’s rank–I should have guessed that politically minded Trevyn would have been studying the Allacore raids much more intensively than I.
The rockets under the Allacore’s chair glowed red as she swiveled it around to face Trevyn–and me behind him. I shivered under that emotionless stare; she regarded us as if we were so many bugs. “You demand?” Her voice grated like ground glass crunching under boots. “You? Who are you to demand anything of me?”
“I am Trevyn Blaine, and I am a citizen of this free country, a country which does not allow the sort of acts you are committing here.” I stood as if my feet were rooted to the spot, horrified. Oh, please God, don’t let her kill him, I implored in my mind.
The Allacore’s face clouded with rage. “Filthy human!” she spat. “I’ll teach you some manners, you rude little bastard.” Her ragged talons were fully extended now, and she reached for the directional control on her chair.
The tension building in me was suddenly too much to bear. The capture of hundreds of students shocked me, but did not spur me to action; my own death I could have accepted with hardly a protest. But when she turned against Trevyn I could stand there no longer.
Acting completely out of an instinct I hadn’t known I possessed, I balled my right hand into a fist and held it high over my head. “Enough!” I cried, and against her will the Allacore found her attention pulled from Trevyn and focused entirely on me.
“Enough?” Her tone was syrupy sweet. Her broken, yellowed teeth flashed at me as she smiled a condescending smile. “Enough of what, human? I haven’t yet begun!”
If she had dropped her superiority attitude and really looked at me, she would have noticed the bright yellow light streaming from beneath my curled fingers, pouring from between my knuckles. But she didn’t see, and I held my hand clenched in that fist for a moment longer. “I command you to stop!” I shrieked, and to my surprise my voice echoed and re-echoed, even stronger than Trevyn’s had a moment before. Before the Allacore commander recovered from her surprise, I pulled back my arm and flung it out towards her, opening my hand. The ball of light that left my grasp was like a miniature sun, racing toward her too fast for the eye to follow. It crashed into her chair and sent it reeling, casting scorch marks deep into her battered armor.
If I could have kept my wits about me, I would have grabbed Trevyn and run right then. But I was stunned, absolutely unable to believe what I had just done. I stood there gaping in disbelief while she brought her runaway chair under control and veered back toward me, whipping out a strange device that resembled a telescope. “So we have a powerful little monster here,” she grated. “So this trip will be considerably more worthwhile than I had imagined. Your power will benefit me greatly, human.” She leveled the telescope-thing at me, and it began to hum.
It was plain from her words that the thing was stealing whatever strange power I had, but I felt as though it was leeching all my energy. My knees buckled and I fell onto the sidewalk, marshaling everything I had for one last strike. This time when I flung out my shaking hand, no miniature sun burst forth. The Allacore laughed an ungodly laugh when she saw the wispy stream of light that issued from my palm–but she stopped laughing when the tendril of light wrapped itself around her telescope-thing and snatched it from her grasp. I jerked my hand to my chest, and the light recoiled, pulling the telescope-thing into my palm with a satisfying slap. “No, Allacore,” I told her, leveling the device at her, “I think it is your power that will benefit me.” The device hummed louder than before, and she began to shriek.
I was bursting with energy. I could have run a marathon, and I suppose at that point I should have stopped. I was past caring about the welfare of this despicable Allacore, though, and I noticed that her shrieks had gotten the attention of the masses of students around me. As she weakened, they came forth from the cells, broke out of the mindless lines they had been herded into, and encouraged by this, I held the device steady. The hum was deafening now, drowning out the Allacore’s unholy screams. The device was shaking so hard that I needed both hands to hold it.
All at once the Allacore was silent. Her body seemed to crumble, to collapse in on itself–and then she was gone. The chair crashed to the ground and lay still, sitting at a sharp, broken angle. On the grassy field where hundreds of people had been prisoners only moments before there was silence, and then the cheering started. Grateful students surged out of the holding cells and toward me, cheering their happiness, their thanks. I knelt panting there on the path, the telescope-thing hanging useless from my hand, stunned. It was Trevyn who reached me first, Trevyn who pulled me to my feet and started dragging me away from the crowd. “We have got to get you out of here, Ellane!” he shouted over the noise, and the alarm in his tone brought me back to my senses. Without questioning why, I ran with him, following him away from the university campus and the masses of students who had so narrowly avoided capture.