4.4 Colossal

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Alex shoved his awareness into the transports. He inhabited their machinery, their empty spaces, and he felt life sparks within those spaces.

He could crush those lives. Crumple the machines around them, and throw them away. Maybe—he wasn't sure, but maybe—he could snuff out a life spark by drawing their energy into himself, instead of sending his energy into them for healing. Maybe he could kill them one by one, if he wanted to.

If he dared. If he could be sure the rest wouldn't attack while he was busy experimenting.

The transports stopped moving as he held the armada firmly within his awareness. They floated in midair as if frozen in time, not drifting even a little bit.

But then some jogged loose, and others followed, because they were more than he could concentrate on at once. He could not control every hair on his body.

Elephant-sized blasts exploded at him. One or two, he could have handled, but the barrage made him throw his arms up to shield his face. The streamship rocked from an impact he hadn't sensed coming in time. Someone screamed. The launchpad quaked, and Alex had to withdraw his awareness into the metal, straightening it, catching life sparks—people—before they could plummet to their deaths.

The sound of static filled the air. Alex looked up, shielding his eyes from sparkling blue fairy light. An immense holographic face, flabby and glowing, stared imperiously down in his general direction. He recognized the obese girl.

"W e  g a a a v e  y o u  e v v v e r y t h i n g g g." Red Ranks spoke in sync, or almost in sync, their voices raspy from lack of use. They leaned out of transport windows, or stood on terraces, all of them gazing towards Alex and his crew in expressionless judgment.

"A n d d d  y o u  s s s s t o l e  f r o m  U s s s s."

Alex could guess why the Torth were speaking out loud. Thomas was no longer in their mental audiences. The holograph of the fat girl must be a recorded loop, but even though she didn't seem to be anywhere nearby, Thomas looked stricken.

"B e t r a a a y e r," the voices rasped from all directions. "Y o u  w i l l  n e v v v e r  e s s s c a p e,  s s s s o  d o n ' t  b o t h e r  t r y y y i n g."

Half of the Red Ranks rasped from one direction, as if to draw their attention. "A n d d d  t h a t  p l a n e t  y o u  c a a a r e  s s s o  m u c h  a b o u t t t . . ."

Alex refused to give them any of his focus. That would mean death. He kept his awareness spread, and his shield firm against micro-bullets and sizzling blasts.

". . . E a r r r t h h h . . ." the overlapping whispers went on.

The other half joined in, cascading into a hurricane rasp that filled the spaceport. ". . . W e ' r e  g o i n g  t o  i n n n v a a a d e  i t  a n d  c o l l a r r r  e v e r y  h h h u m a n  y o u  h a v e  e v e r  k n o o o w n."

Despite Alex's best effort to ignore the synced up Torth voices, their words seeped into his conscious mind, bringing fury and dread and the utter helplessness of being a prisoner. He couldn't stop them from enslaving Earth. It didn't matter how much Yeresunsa power he had. He was already failing at protecting his small crew of ummins and friends. He could barely hold the launch pad together. He couldn't possibly do anything to save humankind.

"Alex!" Margo shouted in warning.

Alex heard the shriek of a missile and raised his arm in defense, sending his awareness rippling outward from it. He slammed the missile off course, so it smashed into a transport, sending that one careening into another.

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