The heat hit Tara like a back-handed slap from Lucifer himself and she struggled to maintain her cheery smile as her waiting aides approached. The seven women lined up in front of her and saluted in unison.
"Report," Tara said, looking past them at the brightly illuminated landing site.
"Earth entry in two minutes ma'am," stated a broad-shouldered woman with close-cropped hair.
"Group Leader Sevrins has secured six F-22's from Edwards, they will be in CAP in minus three," added an exceptionally tall and beautiful light-skinned African American woman.
Tara pushed past them and towards the firing line where the rest of her women were rushing to and fro to finish sand-bagging a deadly curve of light artillery and machineguns. Her aides fell in behind her, continuing to update her on the readiness of her monumental ambush.
"One of the miniguns is having electrical problems so I have ordered it out of the line," came a voice from behind her.
"What did you substitute in?" Tara asked without really caring.
In fact she did not even hear the answer. Her attention was focused on the computer screens glowing beneath a camouflage net. A woman wearing oversized headphones stood up from the controls and saluted as she approached.
"At ease," Tara ordered with mild annoyance.
The woman returned to her seat. Tara leaned over her shoulder to watch the progress. One screen flickered and was filled with a grainy image from a hijacked NSA satellite that the NWO had propelled into a terminal orbit just to capture footage of the approaching landing craft. It was still several thousand kilometers from the earth's atmosphere but Tara could make out a long and narrow vessel trailed by an unearthly blue stream of exhaust.
"How fast is it?" Tara pointed at the video feed.
"Ma'am, not sure, our ability to gauge at this point is limited, but we'll be able to extrapolate its velocity when we have radar contact." Tara was obviously displeased with this and the woman stuttered to amend her answer. "Ah, we, ah, h-have estimates. At least mach 83."
Tara waited for a more concrete answer and then grew bored, wandering back to the knot of aides waiting at a respectable distance.
"Where is the Legacy Team?" Tara adjusted the growingly uncomfortable weight of the magnetic accelerator slung on her back.
"Ma'am," responded the stocky woman, "they've set up over there."
Tara followed the woman's pointing finger to a group of women in dark red uniforms much more stylish than those worn by her own force. Scattered around them were various mundane and xeno-tech devices that would record the ambush for posterity. While Tara was excited with the concept that she would be the key player in a history-making action she was also bitterly aware that she could exert no control over the Legacy Team. They were members of Raylene's private guard the Amaranthine Conservators, swore an oath of loyalty to the supreme commander of the NWO, and existed entirely outside the normal Sisterhood command structure. A woman with a pale complexion and long black hair caught sight of Tara and nodded in her direction with a half-smile.
"Nice hair!" The woman shouted and her friends stifled laughter.
"Thanks!" Tara pretended it was a sincere compliment, but then continued under her breath. "You dumb piece of dick spew."
The formative plan of murderous revenge stewing in Tara's head was interrupted by the woman from the monitoring station.
"Atmosphere!" The woman jogged up and saluted. "Should have visual contact in…there!"
The woman pointed to the Eastern sky at a scintillating blue line with a bulbous yellow flare at its tip. The flare of fire grew brighter and brighter with disconcerting speed. Tara watched it, transfixed, as it curved beneath the atmosphere and down towards them. The blue line sputtered and faded and the fire died to a white-hot glow.
"Ma'am it seems to be approaching faster than we ha-"
TOTAL WRECK - crazy-eyed hound is covered in cobwebs, has a vespiary on back, graffiti on side and savage thirst for boat fuel. Frankly, I'm in over my head. He's in room 115 at Motel 6, yours free. 555-2851
Yes, it's the perfect form for surviving a car crash. But it's also the perfect form for so much more, like surviving the trauma of reading any news headline in 2016.
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