(If you haven’t yet, read the last issue. We’re picking right up where we left off!)
Bored with having nothing to do, Sid (Vapor) decides to head to the store for groceries, while Dark Witch excuses herself so that her alter ego can get some court prep done.
The interrogation of the captured insectoid continues but with a different tack: the team decides that if Baron creates the illusion of the robot, which seemed to be in command of the whole thing, they might get more info.
It seems to work. Baron, enveloped in his conjured illusion, is walked in by Fortress and placed in a cell directly across from the captive soldier. Among other things they learn that the Command Robots are controlled remotely from the ship, and each ship has more than one.
Through careful questioning they learn that a second strike team is on Earth and is likely meeting up with the one that fought the team. It won’t be long before the aliens are back with twice the numbers.
“Won’t be long” is right: the group spends a few moments trying to come up with a plan so they’re ready for the next attack before the next attack happens. What feels like an earthquake rocks the basement floor. Something above them has exploded with deafening force.
They make their way up to the ground floor (most via the stairs, Baron Mind in the elevator) and see that the front half of the HQ building is gone, including the second floor. It looks as if a giant came along and bit right through it like it was an oversized cupcake. Concrete, wood, and plaster debris litters the floor. Water spouts from broken plumbing.
In a semi-circle between what’s left of the building and the fountain in the front driveway are the aliens.
The team can see two robots, which are each flanked by what appear to be two German Shepherd-sized ants wearing glowing collars; five insectoids with rifles in the air; and four A.P. ground soldiers, the rolling black pseudopod-sprouting orbs. Hovering several hundred feet above all of this is the same ship that burst from the lake (last issue), two large cannons projecting from its belly.
“Turn over the abomination and your captive and we’ll leave in peace,” utters one of the robots. The Guardians respond, of course, by attacking!
The battle ensues. Debris makes it difficult to move around but the heroes still manage.
Baron stays by the elevator, just back from the ragged edge of the 2nd floor, and begins picking off the air support with brain blasts.
Kid immediately whiplashes the nearest Command Robot, which knocks it back near the driveway fountain. Torrent and Bantam decide they don’t like the collars on those giant ants, so they each destroy one. The collars spit sparks and stop glowing. Their wearers suddenly appear confused and angry.
With maser rifle blasts crisscrossing the battlefield, Fortress and Kid focus on one Robot. Torrent takes out a third collar, Bantam a fourth. Three of the ants go wandering away in confusion.
The rolling A.P.s are flinging grenades but they don’t have a lot of effect, especially on Kid Green. At one point two of them stretch out pseudopods and each grab one of Kid’s arms, briefly holding him at bay. That small victory is short-lived, though, as he simply claps his hands together and makes them swing around and slam into each other.
…but the Reader’s Digest version is that Fortress was nearly sliced in half by one of the Command Robots before the Guardians drove most of them away. The team has offered asylum to two of the Aqua-Pura when they discovered that their species is effectively enslaved by the Hylen. The HQ building was levelled by the alien ship, all that remains is the basement. They turned over the Kahlecent soldiers and the War Ants to Admiral Alexander who showed up personally to oversee their transfer.
Torrent acted quickly to help Fortress, putting pressure on her massive wound after sending Bantam to fetch the few vials of serum Fortress had left and pouring it into her body. She remains in the hospital.