Against Adam’s best attempts, his ASIST profile had an A+ rating with weird space stuff (or as the program defined it, “extraterrestrial phenomena’'), which meant he got pinged with all sorts of UFO sightings. Most of them were bunk, but with the Blot still fresh in everyone’s minds you couldn’t NOT go check it out. This meant while some of his friends traveled to exotic locations and got to help people directly, most of Adam’s ASIST evenings were filled with flying through the sky looking for falling space junk.
The team at the observatory had given Adam a fairly good description of the object’s initial location and how it had descended to Earth, which meant Tau could come up with a fairly tight search area. If they found some debris, great, mission complete. If not… well, Adam just hoped it was.
After about an hour searching, Tau chimed in telepathically with “I am detecting extremely elevated fear nearby.”
“Thanks, let’s check it out,” Adam responded and altered his course to head towards the emotional emanation.
As Concord approached the gas station, his gut dropped. He’d been around to stop a gas station robbery months ago and he had hated it. So much desperation radiated off the robber that it had made him sick with empathy. He hadn’t been a bad person, he just needed help and didn’t know what else to do. He hoped this one was easier to deal with, but some doubt in the back of Adam’s mind told him it wouldn’t be.
As the station came into view, Adam saw a strange floating pod with some sort of horn welded onto the front of it near the gas pumps while some 20-something in a station polo was seemingly trying to explain how a gas pump worked.
Yeah, this was what Adam had been looking for.
As Concord flew down, the person the attendant was talking to came into view and recognition flashed across his mind. Before he could stop himself, Adam shouted “Hey! You’re that space bug that blew up my science class!”
The space bug screamed in a way that oddly reminded Adam of the way Jordan did during scary movies and pointed all four of their guns (one in each hand) at Concord. “AHH! Concordance Agent!”
The space bug opened up with a salvo of hot plasma bolts streaking through the sky at Concord. The attendant ran in fear back into the station. Concord started to try to dodge but quickly realized that even floating in the same spot there was little risk of getting hit from this distance. What the space bug lacked in accuracy, they made up for in enthusiasm.
“Adam,” Tau’s thoughts came into Adam’s mind. “There is fuel spilling onto the ground around your assailant.” Adam mentally acknowledged and looked to confirm. Sure enough, the fuel was coming out of the pump freely, splashing about without the attendant to watch over it.
“Hey!” Adam called down to the space bug. “Stop shooting! Are you crazy?”
“YES!” the space bug replied with another salvo of shots.
Adam groaned but persisted. “You’re getting gas everywhere and it will ignite if your guns get hot!”
The space bug jumped with a start and for a moment Adam worried they would drop one of their weird space guns onto the gas soaked ground, but fortunately they holstered their pistols. Unfortunately, however, they just reached for another gun.
“What about gravitronics?” the space bug called out, the gun expanding out into a rifle shape that it took three of the bug’s arms to hold onto steadily. “ Are your Earth fuels sensitive to the distortion of local gravity?”
“Uh, I wouldn’t,” Adam said truthfully enough.
“You are making it very inconvenient to continue this fire fight without creating a deadly hazard!”
“No, you’re the one…” Adam started to say but stopped himself with a bit of effort. Still he dragged his fingers across his face in frustration. “No, stop. I don’t want to fight. I want to know what you are doing?”
“Space Bug has taken a hostage and is attempting to convert your Earth fuel into something my ship can accept,” the space bug said matter of factly as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Maybe it was from where they come from, Adam pondered.
“Why do you have a hostage?!”
“Because the station only accepts credit, debt, and Earthling monies.”
Adam groaned again but only a bit this time. “Can I fly closer? I don’t want to keep shouting.” The space bug shouldered their gun, so Adam added, “I promise on my Honor, I will not continue fighting or try to harm you in any way unless you start it.”
The space bug seemed to consider this before stowing their weird, collapsible space gun. Adam slowly floated down to the ground and slowly approached, stopping about ten feet away once the alien started getting jumpy with how close he was getting.
“Why a gas station?” Adam asked. When the space bug cocked one of their antennae in confusion, Adam clarified, “Why did you come here to fuel up your space ship.”
“This was the first fueling station Space Bug found.”
“Do you maybe want to talk to some of our scientists?,” Adam asked, remembering the folks at Park Tech. “They might have something better? They made a spaceship I used to get to Orion Schema, until it blew up”
“Did the spaceship or Orion Schema blow up?” the space bug asked excitedly.
The space bug made a terrifying sound that Adam quickly realized was cackling.