The man kept the cloak pulled tightly over his head. He walked around the building until he found a window. He tapped patiently on the window until a woman answered.
"Como puedo entrar?" he asked. When the woman looked back with confusion, he asked her again. "Wie komme ich herein?" She shrugged and began to walk away when he asked, "how do I get in?"
"The building is closed," she replied. "No visitors."
"Please. I implore you, it will rain soon..."
"Find someplace else to stay or I'll call the police," she said.
The man walked away, head lowered. He began walking back towards a nearby park. He extended his left hand, which had a glint of metal shine from it. The remnants of a small ship appeared. The man climbed into the cockpit and took a seat. He reached up behind himself and began pulling on something over his head. He gave it a forceful jerk and it slid forward and slammed into the front of the cockpit. The canopy cracked. The man sighed and fell asleep just as the storm rolled in. The ship vanished once again.
"Yes sir. Dominant species is human. Land-dwelling. Pre-hyperdrive civilization. Seven large land masses divided into over one hundred subsections."
"So, this is the planet that will win us the war?"
"That's what the council says, Commander Kellik," the younger man said. He pressed some buttons at his station. The view zoomed out to a view of the galactic neighborhood, with a light blinking on Earth. "The planet should put us in a superior strategic position."
"Indigenous life form. Humans. What kind of threat do they pose to our soldiers?"
"None, sir. In fact, the council recommends that we begin landing our troops immediately."
"No, not immediately," the commander grinned. "Have the robosoldiers ready to land in 12 hours. I want to savor this moment.
"Good catch," another player said.
"Thanks," Alex said, standing up shaking some grass from his green shorts and blank white t-shirt. He looked around for an open teammate but couldn't find one. Quickly, he found himself covered by another player. Alex looked around and took a desperate shot over his guard's head. The Frisbee flew into the park by the field.
"I'll get it," Alex said before anyone could object. He dashed into the park.
Alex looked around but didn't see the Frisbee anywhere. He walked quickly around the area he was sure it would land.
Alex looked up into a tree and saw someone sitting on one of the branches. The person was holding his Frisbee.
"Hey, can I have that back?" Alex asked.
The man in the branches was wearing khaki shorts, a white t-shirt and an unbuttoned green shirt. Alex couldn't make out the features on his face; the sun shone through the trees behind him, and it looked like he was wearing sunglasses anyway. The man smirked and began twirling the Frisbee on one finger. Then he began tossing it to himself.
"What's your name? My friends and I are playing some Ultimate Frisbee and we've got an odd number of players," Alex asked, squinting in the light.
"No thanks, kid," the man in the tree replied. "You and your little friends have fun," he added, tossing the Frisbee from the branch. It glided low until it hit something that made a resonating thunk. Alex ran to the source of the sound while the other man jumped out of the tree, landing softly on his feet and walking in the other direction.
"You're not the least bit curious?" Alex asked. "That frisbee just hit something invisible."
The man turned his head to see Alex out of the corner of his eye. He smirked and continued walking.
Alex shrugged and began pounding on the invisible object. He ran his fingers along the surface and hit it again.
"Que? Por que temanme?" a voice said. Alex jumped back a bit. The voice repeated itself.
"No tememosle. Quien esta?" Alex turned around, startled again. The man from the tree was standing right behind him. "Podimos verle?"
"You speak Spanish?" Alex asked.
"I do a lot," the young man responded, knocking gently on the air. "Habla ingles?" he asked as his fingers moved upward.
"Si, hablo ingles. Pero por que? Habla espanol."
"Si. Pero hay un hombre aqui que no habla espanol. In ingles, si puede."
"Who are you two? And why are you attacking my ship?"
"Would you mind if we talked face-to-face?" Alex asked, finally able to find his tongue.
The ship appeared. Alex was clearly in a state of shock; the other man was not. "You act like you see alien ships every day," Alex said.
"I've seen a lot," he replied. "And you don't know that it's alien. It could be anything; there's no reason to get excited."
"It could be anything. That's every reason to get excited."
The canopy slid back. The cloaked figure within remained motionless. "What do you want?" Alex and the cloaked man asked at the same time.
"I was just curious as to who pilots an invisible ship," Alex replied.
The cloaked man removed his hood. "I do. And I come with an urgent message. Please, direct me to your global defense board or some equivalent representative."
"There's nothing like that on Earth," Alex said.
"Then will you help me. Both of you," he added.
"How can we help you?" Alex asked. "Help you with what?"
The cloaked man took out two pairs of gloves without fingers. Both were mostly black, but Alex's had a blue lining around the finger holes and wrists; the other pair had red. "What are your names?"
"I'm Alex," Alex introduced himself, putting the gloves on.
"Alex. You can call me 'TEC'. And you, stranger?"
"I already have a pair of workout gloves. And whatever you're selling, I'm not interested," he said, handing the gloves back.
"What's with this surly attitude? All anyone has been is decent and you've been blowing us off," Alex said. Tyler didn't say a word. He picked a piece of grass from Alex's brown-red hair and dropped it condecendingly.
"Keep them. You'll need them," TEC insisted.
The young man shrugged and put the gloves on. He arched an eyebrow when the glove fitted itself to his hand. "I'm Tyler. And thanks for the gloves but I don't think I'll need them."
Alex sighed and watched as Tyler walked away. He saw another figure approaching in the distance. "Alex? Are you okay?" someone was calling.
"I gotta get back to my game. They're probably wondering where I disappeared to," Alex said, turning around to face TEC. Instead of the new visitor, he faced air. He reached out; the ship was gone. He looked at his hands; the gloves were gone. "What's going on here?" he asked himself. He searched the ground and grabbed the frisbee, rushing over to his friend.
Kellik looked at the viewscreen. "You said you detected another Varnian signature."
"Yes, sir. It lasted for approximately eight minutes. These are the results of the scans," the officer said, pressing some buttons. The image of a ship appeared on the viewscreen. "Whoever owns this ship isn't using it to leave anytime soon." The image turned into a clear wire-frame and information and lines branched from the image to the data that was scrolling up the side of the viewscreen. "Burned out hyperdrive, structural faults across the hull. Bio-readings were even briefer than the ship scan," he said, pressing a few more buttons. The wireframe of this ship disappeared and was replaced by a wireframe of a human-looking creature. Data began scrolling up the side of the screen with details on height and mass. "The limited data, however, suggests a cyborg. Most likely one of the TEC units."
"What's his purpose?"
"I don't know, sir. But I don't think he's fighting on our side. Otherwise he wouldn't have gone to such great lengths to mask his presence."
"Send six robosoldiers to flush him out. We need to know his designation number."
He was distracted by the distant sound of screaming. "Well, I guess it can wait a little bit," he said, walking quickly towards the screaming. When he heard an explosion, he began running.
"Energy shockwave," TEC said, holding his fist out. A yellow ring came from his fist, and everything except TEC was knocked away. Alex got back on his feet and dusted himself off. To his surprise, the gloves were on his hands again. "These are robosoldiers. They are the first line of attack by the Varn. You'll have to use the gloves I gave you." Alex held out his hand, trying to do what TEC just did. "Energy beam," TEC told Alex.
"Energy beam!" Alex exclaimed. Solid blue beams shot from his fists. One grazed one robosoldier; the other missed completely, flying into the air.
"We cannot hope to destroy them all. We have to transform," TEC said calmly, releasing another shockwave.
"Transform? You mean we have more powers? Awesome!" Alex exlcaimed. When he saw a woman under attack by one of the robosoldiers, he ran to her aid and struggled to pull it off. "Where did you get your manners?" he said, beginning to fight hand-to-hand. He punched the robot's face but only hurt himself.
"What were you thinking, kid?" another voice asked. Alex turned briefly and saw Tyler running over. "Don't punch a robot unless you like punching steel doors." Tyler jumped off the roof of a smashed car and landed a kick on the robosoldier.
"What do you know... oh, you've done lots of things," Alex said sarcastically, picking up a metal pipe and swinging it at the robot. The robot dodged and fired a beam at Alex.
"Toss it here!" Tyler shouted. Alex threw the pipe as hard as he could; Tyler caught it in his left hand. A glowing, glasslike red sphere formed in his right hand. "Batter up," he said, tossing the ball into the air and hitting it at the robot. The robot caught the ball, but the ball exploded on impact. The robot's right arm was blown off.
"The gang's all here," Alex said, struggling with a robot. He shouted as he was thrown in TEC and Tyler's direction; they caught him and helped him to his feet.
"Put your hands together and say, 'Task Force, Transform'," TEC said.
The three stood together, backs to each other and facing outward. Making a fist and hitting it in the palm of the other hand, they shouted, "Task Force! Transform!"
A white light spread rapidly up their arms and covered their bodies. In a flash, each was covered in a tight suit and wearing a masked helmet.
"You should have enough strength to battle the robosoldiers now," TEC said.
"Unbelievable! Check this out!" Alex exclaimed, kicking one of the robots.
"Energy spheres," Tyler said calmly, throwing two balls into a mob of robots. The explosion reduced them to scrap.
"Our powers increased. Energy beam!" Alex said, shooting two energy beams. One beam hit a robot, which vaporized. The other, however, headed straight for TEC. Before Alex could shout out a warning, however, the danger was past. The beam went straight through, but not unnoticed.
"Gauge your target vector more carefully," TEC shouted.
"Watch where you're firing those things," Tyler said. He looked over his shoulder and found a robosoldier colored differently than the others. "You must be the ringleader," he said, forming another ball in his hand. "Catch!"
"Certainly," the soldier said, catching the ball and throwing it at Alex. The ball bounced once and exploded, sending Alex flying.
"He's a controller," TEC said, running over. "That robot coordinates a unit of robosoldiers on the battlefield. Destroying him will be a lot harder than destroying one of them."
"Energy beams!" Alex shouted, firing. The beams pushed the controller back. The controller fired a blast from his chest, causing everything around them to explode.
"We're going to have to work together on this one," TEC said, rising to his feet.
"Think you can do that, Tyler?" Alex said.
"I already have a plan. I'll make a sphere that's thick in back and thin in front..." Tyler began.
"So Alex can fire an energy beam into it and it will focus the beam into a laser," TEC finished.
"And TEC can use a shockwave to knock him off balance and keep him from dodging it," Alex interjected.
"Let's do it," Tyler said, forming a sphere the size of a soccer ball in his hands. He tossed it into the air and began bumping it with his forehead.
"Energy shockwave," TEC shouted, firing a blast that knocked the controller off his feet.
Tyler hit the ball towards the robot with his forehead. "Goal!" he shouted. Alex took a position in line with the ball and the robot and fired. The ball began to glow with the blue energy and a thin beam shot from the front; it bored a hole in the robot. The robot caught the ball and tried to throw it back but it exploded before he could, vaporizing the controller.
"Power down," TEC said. The other two did the same. "We need to go back to my ship."
"Impossible. One T.E.C. unit can't destroy a controller."
"We received a lot of telemetry. This wasn't just a rogue T.E.C. It was working with two humans. All of them had transformation capability. Additionally, there's a video you may want to see," the young man said, motioning to the viewscreen. A clip of Alex's energy beam flying through TEC played from several angles.
"T.E.C. Seven," the commander muttered.
"Who are 'they'?" Alex asked.
"I assume you want us to find two more suckers to help fight this war," Tyler said.
"Suckers? Oh, vernacular. Fools. Idiots. Gullible people. I wouldn't have chosen those words, but yes. We will need more people to help us," TEC said.
"What are we waiting for? Let's go recruiting!" Alex exclaimed.
"I'll keep my eyes open. But I'm not coming to school here to fight," Tyler said, walking away.
"Should we get the other gloves from him?" Alex asked TEC.
TEC shook his head. "No. He came through for us today. He'll come through for us again."