This story follows Secret of the Were-Virus.
NOTE: This story has been indefinitely halted due to lack of ideas. Work has begun on another story, Sleeping Bear so please see there
- GENERAL STUART'S OFFICE, TOP-SECRET LOCATION
- MONDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2006
General Harold Stuart sat in his office, looking over a mound of paperwork. "Let's see here," he said, picking up the paper off the top. "More recruits needed in Iraq? Yeah, we'll get 'em. Boy, I'm sure glad we got that virus mess cleaned up, or the room would be full of these blasted papers!" He sorted through the mess, attempting to organize the pile, when suddenly his eye caught a paper near the bottom of the pile. "What the heck is this?" he wondered. He picked it up and read the heading.
- The Dark Island Incident
He scratched his head. "The Dark Island?" he said. "I don't seem to recall...wait a minute. Wasn't that the site of one of our experiments?" He racked his brain, repeating the word "Dark Island" over and over in an attempt to recall the experiment. "Oh yeah, I think it was a nuclear experiment! We were trying to create power using nuclear fusion. I don't remember exactly what happened, but I think that was the last time we tried that."
Suddenly, his radio buzzed. He growled and picked it up. "YES??" he barked. "Marone? Don't you realize how busy I am???"
"Sorry, sir," said Captain Bill Marone, "But there's trouble!"
Stuart sighed and said, "There always is."
"This is urgent, sir!" Marone urged. "Something's happened to the Harpers! We just flew over the ranger's cabin to check on them, and it was in ruins!"
Stuart suddenly sat up. "If it was the Alliance..."
"No sir, it wasn't them. They couldn't have done that. Besides, we've got the dangerous ones in prison to cool off. This was some kind of..."
Stuart cursed. "I thought we'd taken care of those were-creatures! Don't tell me they're back to their doggone rampages again!"
"No sir," said Marone. "Judging from the footprints we found."
Stuart sat still a moment, letting the words sink in. Finally he said, "What kind of footprints?"
"Big ones!" said Marone, his voice sounding extremely tense. "The best guess we have is that it was some kind of dinosaur!"
Stuart snorted. "C'mon, Marone! You know they're extinct!"
"There's no other match!" Marone said indignantly. "No other living animal matches that set of footprints!"
"Have you talked to our top military scientists about it?" asked Stuart. "They might know something."
"Dr. Smith agrees with me," said Marone. "There's no other animal alive that could have made such an impression!"
"Don't tell me," said Stuart. "It was a giant, mutated iguana from the Polynesian Islands!"
"Sir, I wish you'd forget those silly B-films and take this seriously!"
Stuart sighed. "I need to see it for myself," he said.
"Why don't you come out here and see then?" asked Marone. "Perhaps that would convince you?"
"But I've got all this paperwork I have to take care of! Oh, all right. I suppose that can wait. How bad is the damage?"
"The cabin's lying in pieces all over the place!" said Marone. "But there's no bodies, or anything. We can only hope that they've escaped!"
"I'll be there in a couple of hours," said the general. "But this better not be any Godzilla crap!"
"The footprints weren't nearly that big," said Marone. "Dr. Smith says they're about the size of an allosaurus foot."
"But it can't be an allosaur!" said the general.
"The bones were shorter," said Marone. "All I'm saying is that that's the closest match."
General Stuart stepped out into the cold winter air, sighing as he felt the breeze on his face. "Finally an excuse to get outside, out of that miserable office!" he said, walking over to the helicopter bay. "Of course, what a nice way to say 'Merry Christmas'"! Inside the bay, he met Murphy, one of the pilots.
"Murphy," he said, "I'm going to need you to take me up to the UP today."
"Today?" asked Murphy.
"YES!" barked Stuart. "Something really big has just come up. Now start your chopper, will you!"
"Yes sir," said Murphy. He saluted, and then made off toward his helicopter. It was brand new and quite shiny. "I guess it'll be a nice way to break in the new chopper!" he said to himself, starting the motor.
As he and the general flew outside the hangar, Murphy noticed something. "Hey, what's that thing up there?" he said, pointing out a black object against the clear sky.
"No clue," said Stuart. "Lemme see...looks like some kind of bird. HOLY MACKERAL!!!"
"What?" said Murphy in surprise, almost losing control of the chopper.
"Lookatit!" shouted Stuart in one word, staring at the creature. Murphy looked up, and almost screamed in surprise and terror. Whatever it was, it had a wingspan of about fifty-five feet, judging by the shadow it was casting on a nearby building. "Oh...my...word."
"Good grief!" exclaimed Murphy. "What the heck is it??"
"It's a bird all right," said General Stuart, "Though how it got to be that big, I have no idea."
"LOOKOUT!!" shouted Murphy, swerving the chopper out of the way as the tip of a wing zipped by. The rush of air almost crashed the chopper to the ground. Stuart picked himself up off the floor, still in near shock.
"Notify the base," he ordered. "Tell them to lock onto that thing and kill it! We don't want it blowing Detroit off the map."
"But sir," said Murphy, "It'll knock out half our artillery! We don't stand a chance against...WHOA!!!" The monster bird flew just overhead, knocking the helicopter out of the sky.
"MURPHY!" shouted Stuart, throwing the bay door open. "GET OUT! HURRY!" The two jumped out and landed in a large bank of snow on the edge of a department store parking lot. The chopper zoomed over their heads and crashed on top of the building. Murphy stared in horror as a giant fireball went up, setting the whole store on fire.
Stuart grabbed his radio and contacted the local fire department. "HELLO??" he shouted into the speaker. "WAYNE! GET OVER HERE NOW! THERE'S A MONSTER FIRE STARTING!"
"What???" came an incredulous voice at the other end.
"THIS IS GENERAL STUART," Stuart screamed as the roar of the flames grew louder. "OUR CHOPPER JUST CRASHED AND NOW THE WAL-MART'S ON FIRE! GET OVER HERE AND PUT IT OUT!"
"Holy mackeral," shouted the fire chief. "I can see it from my place! All right, we're on our way. Over and out."
Stuart clipped the radio back onto his belt and then he rushed toward the burning building.
"Sir, what are you doing???" cried Murphy.
"C'mon!" shouted the general. "We've gotta save as many people as possible while the building is still standing!"
Chapter One: The Monster
- MONTGOMERY'S RESIDENCE, THE PORCUPINE MOUNTAINS, MICHIGAN, USA
- SUNDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2006 (THE NIGHT BEFORE)
James Harper suddenly sat up, where a minute before he had been practically asleep. Samantha Bright gave a little gasp of shock. "James?" she said. "What's wrong?"
"I heard something," he said, looking around. "I think there's something outside."
Fred Montgomery looked at him inquisitively. "I don't hear anything. Are you sure it isn't just the washing machine?"
Suddenly Montgomery's dog Bunnell began to growl, and his hair stood on end. "Bunnell?" Monty walked over to him, but Bunnell backed away. Something was agitating him.
"Maybe you're right," Officer McPherson said, fingering his revolver. "He does have those extra cat-genes, you know. His hearing is superb. What's it sound like?"
"Something big," said James. He got up off the couch and walked to the front door. Opening it slowly, he peeked outside. Suddenly, he gave a hiss and jumped back in, closing the door quietly behind him. He stared at everyone in the room with wide eyes.
"Daddy? What is it?" asked Audrey Harper, his teenage daughter, with concern.
"It-it's...I can't really describe it. Now I need everyone to get to the basement. There is a basement, isn't there?" he asked Monty. The ranger nodded. He walked over to a door beside the kitchen, and opened it to reveal a stairway going down into darkness. He flipped on a switch on the wall, and the basement lit up. "Everyone down here."
"I'm not going to stand by and let this thing in!" shouted McPherson, taking out his revolver and cocking it. "If whatever it is tries to invade, I'll give it some lead!"
"GO ON!" shouted James. "Your revolver will barely puncture its skin! Get in the basement!"
Suddenly, there was a creak, and then something began to push against the door. McPherson aimed his gun, then Monty took the shotgun from the mantle over the fireplace. Then he grabbed a box of slugs, and began loading them into the gun.
Suddenly, the door began to crack, and something began pushing through. "All right, let's get downstairs!" James said.
"You go," said McPherson. "You don't have any weapons, or anything!"
The door burst into splinters as a giant, brownish snout came through. James leaped back, pulling the officer to the ground as he went. McPherson struggled, but James held him down as the nostrils on each side of the snout began to sniff the room. James let go and McPherson crawled over to the sofa, where he slowly aimed his gun at the creature. However, before he could fire the snout pulled out. For a moment, they were all completely still, waiting to see if it would come back.
And come back it did. The wall surrounding the doorway suddenly crumbled as the monster's head burst in. One look at the beast nearly made James vomit. It very distantly resembled some kind of allosaur or tyrannosaur, but it had a warty, demonic appearance. Its eyes were yellow and bulging, and slime dripped from its horrible mouth, which looked rather mutilated. It saw the three men cowering near the sofa, and roared. Then it reached for Montgomery, when suddenly there was a BANG! McPherson quickly lowered the gun to cock it again.
"RUN!" shouted James. "GET TO THE BLASTED BASEMENT!!!"
McPherson took one more shot, and then fled with James and Fred to the basement steps. Suddenly there was an ear-splitting crash as the entire front wall caved in on the floor. Fred pushed James and McPherson down the steps where Blake Jones broke the fall, then slammed the door. He pointed to a bunch of boards stacked in the corner of the basement. "Help me get those up here!" he said urgently, as the monster outside roared again.
Brian, Audrey, Mrs. Harper and Blake began to grab the boards and take them up. Fred pointed to couple of boxes of nails nearby. "James, get me those nails and a hammer!" James nodded and grabbed the boxes and a hammer hanging on the wall. He rushed them up the stairs, and helped the ranger nail them against the door.
"There's all the boards," said Blake, handing the last one to Montgomery, who hastily nailed it in.
"Well, now my cabin's destroyed," the ranger said gloomily. "Boy, how many monster incidences do there have to be??"
"I'm getting sick of always having to be on the run," said Brian. "I haven't gotten a paycheck in weeks!"
"Son, I'd worry more about your life right now!" said Dr. Harper, sitting down on the carpeted floor next to his son. Turning to Monty, he said, "Isn't there a way out of here?"
"Through the coal shute," said Monty. "Anybody up to it?"
"It would sure beat sitting in this basement, waiting for that—that thing to get us!" said McPherson.
"What was it?" asked Margaret, James' mother. "Sounded like the devil himself to me!"
"That's what it looked like too," said James, eyes wide and heart pounding. "Say, where is it anyway? I thought it would be ramming its head through the boards to get at us!"
Monty ran up the stairs and listened. Suddenly he looked quizzical. "Sounds like bags ripping. That beast must've gotten into the pantry!"
Blake Jones, Audrey's biology teacher and former member of an evil organization known as the Alliance, nodded his head. "I expect that it's starving," he said. "Most organisms will go for any type of food if they're hungry enough. Chances are, it sniffed out your chips or whatever else it is you have in there and decided they would be more worthwhile than ramming its head in to get at us!"
"Yeah, but with its size, it'll still be hungry once it's done!" said Jones. "We'd better find a way out before it finishes the stuff in the pantry!"
"All right then," said Monty. "We'll go out the coal shute. First, though, let's pack some canned food. I don't know how long we'll be out there."
"But the scent may attract the creature!" said Jones. "Reptiles have an acute sense of smell, even in cold weather."
"The cans will keep the scent in," said Dr. Harper. "Now for pete's sake, let's get going!"
Monty opened a door in the wall, and showed Dr. Harper the cellar. "We'll take only what we need," he said, handing James a backpack and putting one on himself. "You and I will carry it. That way most of them can travel light."
The hot sun shone down on the deserts of eastern Iraq. A small squadron of Iraqi and American footsoldiers were making their way across the hot sand, ducking down to avoid sighting by their enemy, a small band of guerillas.
"Quiet now," said Lt. Seiffert, a tall, bearded Easterner. "We've almost got them! See, they're headed toward that rock wall over there. They don't know we're right behind 'em, so we'll form a semicircle and trap them. Corporal Sanders," he said to a blond American, "Take your squadron over to the north, and I'll take mine south. We'll meet about a mile from here, right near the edge of that rock face. They won't get away now!"
Sanders nodded and ran north, with his fifteen privates following him. Seiffert took off to the south, ahead of his men. Soon, the way began to slope uphill, and Seiffert could see they were climbing a small dune. "Get down on your stomachs," he told the men behind him. "We don't want them to see us."
The soldiers all dropped to the sand, and began to crawl up. Soon, they could see the top but a few feet away. However, a shock awaited them at the top. Lt. Seiffert's mouth dropped open as he looked downwards into a monstrous depression in the sand, at least forty feet across. It sloped downward to the center, about fifty feet down. One of the soldiers asked, "We gonna cross that?"
"Naw," said the leiutenant. "We'll have to skirt the edge. We go down there, there's no way we're gonna get back up, unless we take all the edges down! No, we're going to circumnavigate it. C'mon, let's go!" He ran down to the edge, and then slowly began making his way along. His men followed carefully behind.
Suddenly, there was a shout as one of them slipped. Everyone turned around to see John Marone slipping and sliding his way down to the bottom. "HELP!" he cried, trying to stop. At last, he managed to secure himself about a quarter of the way down. However, the sand was especially perilous here.
"Hold on," shouted Seiffert, "We'll get to you!" He turned to the rest of the group and said, "Anyone got some rope?
"I do," said one of them, producing a coil of thick rope. "Will this be long enough?"
"Let's hope so!" said the leiutenant, unwinding it and inching it down. Suddenly, there was a rumbling sound. "W-what's that?" asked a soldier, looking at the ground. Instantly, a geyser of sand shot up from the bottom of the pit, flying through the air and spraying Marone, who was clinging for dear life. He began to slide again. "Help me!" he screamed, slipping further down. Another blast of sand shot up out of the pit, and then it became apparent that there was something alive down there.
"Oh my word," said Seiffert, watching in horror as a monstrous leg appeared from underneath the sand. It looked like an insect leg. It began to dig up sand and fling it up at the doomed soldier, who had just about reached the bottom. "Oh heavens, no!"
The group watched in shock as another leg appeared, and then the huge, gruesome head of what resembled a giant antlion emerged from the ground. The beast grabbed Marone with one leg and pulled him the rest of the way down, then there was a terrible scream as its large pinchers pierced his chest. Seiffert felt sick, so sick that he had to turn away from the nauseating scene.
After a few minutes, the monster had waited long enough, and then injected a pair of needle-like mouthparts into Marone's body. That was too much. "SHOOT IT!" shouted Seiffert, aiming his gun. "Kill it!" The entire area rang out with "RATTATATATTATTATTA" as the bullets flew down into the pit and imbedded themselves in the creature.
The creature roared squealed and moved aside, while bullets made impressions in the sand. Then it shook its dead victim, and flung him out of the pit like a rag doll.
"What the heck is that??" exclaimed one of the soldiers. "It's horrible!"
"It looks like an antlion," replied Seiffert, still disgusted. "It's an insect that feeds on ants by digging pits in the sand. I've seen them before, many times. An ant wanders into the pit, and then the larva flings sand up at it to bring it down. But how in the world that one got to be this big is beyond m...LOOK OUT! RUN!"
The beast began to dig at the base of the pit, trying to bring down the side which the soldiers were on. They ran as fast as they could, but three more were pulled down as the monster started flinging sand at them. There were more shots, but they only served to anger the animal, and it flung sand faster and harder.
Seiffert reached the man's body, lying on the perimeter of the pit. Had he not been to boot camp, he very likely would have thrown up at the sight of it. It looked rather like a deflated balloon, only in this case it had been de-fleshed. The skin was all that was there; inside, it was empty.
"Oh my word!" said another soldier, coming up behind him. "What did that devil do to Marone??"
"Sucked him dry," said Seiffert. "It's what antlions do. They dissolve the organs and tissues of the prey's body, creating a kind of soup. They suck it out and then fling the empty shell out of the pit. There's be three more in a minute."
"Are we just going to leave this here?" asked one soldier.
"Get me a shovel," Seiffert ordered. "We'll bury them right here in the sand."
Chapter Two: The Insect
"This is such a wonderful night, Henry!" the not-so-universally-liked Penmount reporter Chaleen Bright said in her usual high-pitched voice. She was speaking to her fiancé, Sergeant Henry Andrews.
"Why is it so wonderful?" Henry asked. Henry thought Chaleen's "cattiness" was not as bad as it was cracked up to be. Of course, the townsfolk told him that was just because he didn't really know her, but he didn't listen to that.
"Because it's one night closer to our wedding, silly-billy!" Chaleen said excitedly. "Our wedding on New Year's Day, 2007! It's going to be so wonderful! There'll be cameras and reporters and everything! I'll even make sure our wedding pictures make it on the front page of The Penmount Tribune!"
"Aren't you getting married to me because you love me?" Henry asked firmly.
"Oh, yes, and that," Chaleen added quickly. "Not to mention that'll make a great great story for me to personally follow for the next week. Everyone will be so excited to find out about my life. I mean, they see me every day on the news and they don't know anything about me. I mean, who is the woman behind the face? Plus, it'll appeal to all the romantics out there."
"But we are getting married because you love me, right?" Henry asked.
"Yes, of course," Chaleen said quickly. "Why wouldn't you think that?"
"I wouldn't," Henry said as he leaned forward to kiss her. Before he reached her, however, there was a loud sound.
"What was that?" Henry asked.
"I don't know, but they'll pay for disrupting my moment!" Chaleen said as she walked up to her window and pulled the garishly pink curtains aside. Chaleen's mouth instantly fell open and she anxiously backed away from the window.
"What is it?" Henry asked impatiently. Chaleen was at a loss for words; all she could do was stare. And soon, Henry no longer needed an answer. Looking at him through the window, was what he thought at first to be another were-creature. However, a closer look told him it was not. No were-creature could ever be this big. He could only see a bit of its head, but that was enough to reveal that it was an insect of some kind, albeit a horrible, giant insect.
"Boy, Joey will really like this," he said, slowly backing away.
"Are you kidding?!" exclaimed Chaleen, looking for a weapon of any kind. "After he saw what happened to me...well, he..." She got no farther, as the monster knocked away part of the wall. Chaleen screamed, Henry grabbed a nearby lamp and hurled it at the creature's eye. The lightbulb exploded in a shower of sparks, and raising a horrible scream from the thing's mouth.
"I don't think I really did it much damage," said Henry. "At least I've partially blinded it..." Suddenly a thick piece of plaster flew through the air and hit him on the head. He fell over, unconcious. Chaleen screamed and grabbed her fiancé by the shoulders, trying to drag him out. Suddenly, Joey Andrews, their new adoptive son who had lost his parents to a were-spider, burst into the room. "What the...oh, my word!" he said when he saw the creature.
"HELP ME GET YOUR FATHER OUT OF HERE!" Chaleen shouted. "AND GET A VIDEO CAMERA IF YOU CAN FIND ONE!"
"What happened??" exclaimed Joey, grabbing his adoptive father by one shoulder.
"That piece of plaster knocked him out!" Chaleen said, pointing to what was now a pile of little plaster bits on the floor. "And I DON'T want to hear about how cool you think this thing is!!!!"
"LOOK OUT!" Joey shouted as a giant leg burst into the room, reaching for Chaleen. Thinking fast, Joey grabbed his pocket knife and stabbed it into the mutated flesh. There was another scream, and the leg flew through the air. Joey ducked, and it swung over his head and slammed into another wall.
Finally, they reached the stairs. "Here," said Chaleen. "You carry him by the shoulders, and I'll get the calves. Man, blast this brace. Oh well, at least my legs still work. Now hurry!" The two rushed down the stairs rather clumsily, trying to keep from falling with their rather bulky load. Suddenly, Joey heard the wall above caving in.
"After this," he said, "I swear I'll never watch any of those stupid movies about mutant insects again!"
"I thought you already sweared that?" Chaleen asked.
"Well, this time I double swear it!" he replied.
"Besides," Chaleen asked with a trace of her usual cattiness as they reached the bottom of the staircase, "After we record this and show it to the world, there won't be any more budget for films about mutants. Now, out the front door!" she ordered. "C'mon, before that demon tears my whole house down!"
"Where'll we live then?" Joey asked fearfully.
"Don't worry," said Chaleen, settling briefly on the front porch, "The Channel 11 Corporation will get us another house; we'll certainly have enough money. You know," she added with a slight giggle, "I think I'll just demand the White House; the President owes me a little favor." Joey rolled his eyes at that, but not visibly.
"C'mon, help me get him in the car," Chaleen said. "Quick, before that..." She never finished, as there was a horrible shriek overhead. The two looked up just in time to see a giant leg burst through the upstairs window. Glass shattered and went flying to the ground. One shard imbedded itself in Joey's arm. He yelled in pain, and grabbed his arm to see where it had gone in.
"We'll take care of that later!" Chaleen shouted. "Get your father in the car and let's get...AAAAUUU!!!!" A chunk of plaster falling from the crumbling wall nearly struck her in the head. "HURRY!" she screamed. Joey grabbed Henry Andrews by the arms and started towards their Jaguar.
They just reached the new car when there was a thump behind them that shook the ground. Looking around, Chaleen saw part of the insect in the dim light. It was hideous; one of its compound eyes seemed larger than the other, and was coated with mucous. Slime dripped from its mouth, and it let out a nauseating gurgle from deep in its throat.
"Oh my word..." said Chaleen, her mouth dropping open for a second. Then, without further thought, she stepped into the driver's seat, seated herself as carefully as she could, and started up the engine, and raced the car down the driveway and out onto the street.
Suddenly, Seargent Andrews began to stir in the back seat. "What the blazes?" he mumbled, trying to sit up. Joey pushed him back down. "Stay still," he said. "You've been hurt."
"I know that!" Andrews growled. "What're we doin' in the car??"
"In case you forgot," said Chaleen, "You were attacked by—" Suddenly there was a loud thump on the top of the car. "Oh no," she said. There was a loud crunching, and then the tip of a giant leg appeared, tearing through the roof. Joey grabbed his pocket knife and stabbed at it. It squealed loudly as a thick, greenish liquid began to ooze from the wound.
It wasn't the end, however. Suddenly, something slammed into the back of the car, forcing it towards a ditch on the side of the road. Joey looked back, when another leg smashed through the back windshield, and then the car spun off the road and into the ditch.
Without a second thought, Andrews grabbed his radio. "Captain?" he shouted into it. "Captain Marone? You there?" There was no reply.
"SHOOT! I forgot, he's at that banquet tonight! Dad-blast it!" He hung up and then dialed 9-1-1, as the monster reached through the front windshield. Chaleen grabbed one of her crutches, which was lying between the passenger and driver seat, and whacked at the giant foot. The bottom finally tore off, resulting in a bloodcurdling scream.
"This is such a nice day, isn't it?" said Margaret as they hiked through the Porcupine Mountains.
"Grandma, Monty's house has just been destroyed by a ferocious monster and we're on the run for our lives," Brian said rather sardonically.
"Must you always look on the dark side or, as I prefer to call it, the slightly-less-bright side?" Margaret chided. "Whatever the reason, it's nice to be outdoors."
"Any idea where that thing came from?" Monty asked. "It wasn't a were-beast."
"It could have been created by the Alliance," Blake suggested. "They may be creating more monsters so people will think they were right about the were-creatures."
"Would they have that kind of technology?" McPherson asked seriously.
"I don't know," Blake replied, "But there's little I don't think is possible anymore."
"Really, now why couldn't they have mind some nice animals?" Margaret asked. "Like little bunny rabbits or kittens."
"'Cause they're bad people," Brian said in exasperation.
"I don't think it's the Alliance," Monty told the others. "The organization was practically ended after Shimmings' death. No, it's got to be something else. Besides, this would be too clever for them."
"Well, that's true," McPherson agreed. "But that still doesn't tell us where it did come from!"
"It was some kind of reptile," said Blake Jones. "Very similar to a dinosaur."
"But those are extinct!" said Audrey. "If that was a dinosaur, how come we've never seen any before?"
"That was no dinosaur," said James. "Did you see how deformed it was? One half of its face looked lopsided! Not to mention all those warts."
Suddenly, they were interrupted by the sound of a helicopter overhead. "Now who the heck could that be?" McPherson wondered aloud.
The chopper flew into view, and they could see the familiar military paint job. "It's the military!" Brian exclaimed. "They must've found out!"
"How?" wondered Monty. "It must have attacked someone else!"
The helicopter circled around, and then slowly lowered itself into the clearing. Then someone jumped out and walked toward them. "It's Captain Marone!" Officer McPherson exclaimed.
"Thank goodness you're all alive!" Marone said, shaking the officer's hand vigorously. "There's no time to talk right now, unfortunately. We've just heard a report of something going on in Detroit. General Stuart's ordered us down there right now. Come on, into the helicopter with you!"
Monty and McPherson exchanged glances. "Something's going on," the officer said.
"Captain, is something wrong?" Brian asked.
"Terribly wrong," Marone replied. "The general's trapped in a burning building, and he said something about a giant bird flying around the city. We have to hurry."
"A giant bird??" Jones asked incredulously. "What the blazes is going on??"
"We'll find out soon enough," Marone said, as they climbed into the chopper.