This is part 3, following "Coming Out Fighting" and "Rust Red Rebirth" below.


At a place once called Altamont Speedway stood a number of huge industrial buildings. Inside the buildings were troop shuttles: eleven of them, each capable of evacuating almost two thousand people. As well, three squadrons of mecha-fighters had been brought in to provide cover once the show started.

“Lightning Four, please call in.”

That was me. “Lightning Four. What is it, Garth?”

“What’s your dirtside twenty, Mindy? Someone here wants to see you.”

“Between shuttles six and seven. Who is it?”

“Don't know. Says he’s an old friend.”

I sat in the cockpit with the canopy up, wondering who it could be. I didn’t know anyone in California; even if I had, their odds of survival under Garridan occupation would be slim. The question was answered by a familiar voice.

“Three minutes, Mindy!”

Trevor! I hadn’t seen him since that concert six months ago when I’d been recruited. He was thinner and looked like he’d shaved with a pen knife, his clothing was worn torn and abused, but it was still him. I dropped down the pole ladder and gave him a hug.

“Trevor! How in hell did you get here?”

“I was taken by the Garrys not long after the first attack. They’re short on resources here, and have been capturing humans to salvage and repair Earth-tech for them. I had enough skills to be useful, so I’m still alive.”

“And they just let you out for a stroll?”

“No, I’m on salvage duty. I had to take a big risk to contact Earthforce, but I hoped you were here.”

“So why did you contact us?”

“They’re onto you. There’s two cruisers at the edge of the atmosphere with instructions to pick off the transports. They’re supposed to concentrate on the civilians, set an example.”

I let out a whistle. “Damn. The idea was that the Garridans would be too busy shooting at us. These buckets can’t maneuver worth spit; it’s going to be a massacre.”

“Not necessarily. I have a plan.”

“You, Trevor? How do you plan to get a couple of dozen ships past their sensors?”

“Every system has a weak point. I know theirs.”


Captain Yeligthor of the Fury watched the sensor feed; a series of short rhythmic pulses had just been detected. That was their agent’s signal. The humans would be airborne soon. A dozen small blips lifted off from the surface. Fighter mecha, as expected. He waited. His orders had been not to attack until the transports could be targeted.

Now the transports were emerging. He hovered a pseudopod over the “go” button. Just a few seconds more…

Cacophonous noise burst from every sound-producing device on the bridge. His skin rippled and twitched, as did the skin of every Garridan on board. Complex harmonic vibrations made it hard to string thoughts together. This was a devastating sonic attack, something the humans called ‘rock music’.


As the fighters climbed to engage the near-inert cruisers, Mindy’s passenger tapped her on the helmet.

“Told you it would work. They'll be distracted for about three minutes; now slag 'em!”