PLANET 51.5

By Mr Nelg

AN: Hi one and all. I thought I'd try my hand at this. After I saw Planet 51 at the movies, my friend asked me how I could sum it up in two words. The only two words that came to mind were "Waisted Potential." I was really looking forward to this movie coming out, and as I watched it, the things that made it so appealing to me, one by one dribbled away. The supporting characters to Lem and Chuck were all 1 dimensional, sometimes irritating, and usually had little or no reason to be where they showed up. The plot seemed to Snooker-Loop into uninteresting angles, and the majority of the jokes were all aimed at those below the age of 12. It wasn't as though it was a bad movie. There were parts I really enjoyed and there were moments where you could see it was trying to be a great movie; but for every good moment, it unbalanced it's self with three ridicules moments. I really wanted to like Planet 51, honestly I did. But it just wouldn't let me. So I decided to write my own version of it, just to satisfy my disappointment and frustration.

So, enjoy. Please, tell me what you think. Constructive criticism wanted.


THE NEAR FUTURE...

Far in the outer reaches of the system, out where the sun was just another star, a frozen rock of a planetoid drifted on an orbit measured in centuries. Kirelog was the outermost marker of the solar system. A ball of rock, dust and ice deposits only a couple of hundred klicks in diameter. Probes had done flybys. One had landed, but there was nothing there anyone wanted.

The lone probe squatted on what passed for an equator. Day and night were almost indistinguishable, but the probe still registered the transition as the diffuse terminator crawled over it. Thermometers plummeted from godawful to improbable levels. A patina of frost glimmered on metal surfaces: the frozen vapor kicked up by its landing that'd resettled and frozen. A glassy lens stared at the heavens filled with more stars than any planetsider would ever behold.

When the faint flares of light fell across the probe's sensors they were barely strong enough to register. The machine - slightly less intelligent than an insect - dutifully stored the information to broadcast homeward the next time the snowball rotated far enough for the dish to align. That would be in two days.

TWO DAYS LATER...

"Well," Professor Oglos said as he laced all six of his fingers together. "You're work here has been impressive, Mr. Korplog, and I have seen your dedication to looking after the planetarium," he then sighed, "but..."

"But?" Lem asked.

"I still don't like it." He levelled a long hard look at Lem. "I never liked it when you requested to serve out your community service here, and I bit my tongue all the way through your service. I will confess, I was glad when you had served your time, but when I heard you wanted to continue working here?"

"I know, I know," Lem said, "But working here has really opened my eyes, Professor Oglos!" Lem was careful to avoid calling the professor, 'Prof' like he'd done during his time here. He knew that the professor hated it, he considered slang a butcher of language and a sign of laziness. "Before I came here, I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, but after working here, it's really opened my eyes! For the first time in my life, I've found something that I truly love..."

"Astronomy," The professor finished with an irritated sigh. "I know, you've spouted that same line over and over again for the past week, like a broken record. I don't need to hear it again."

Lem nodded. He didn't want to blow this. Not now.

"Honestly Lem, if it were up to me, you'd be out the door by now, but I have no choice." He leaned back into his chair to show the young man he was serious. "I'm short handed as it is already, and not very many people want to show an interest in the planetarium. Having some young blood could possibly add new life into this place." His face then melted into a scowl. "Also I've been forced to say yes by you're parole board."

Lem tried unsuccessfully to hide his glee. Professor Oglos pointed an accusing finger at Lem.

"You may have convinced them, Mr. Korplog, but not me!" He warned. "This is your one and only warning, Lem. If you screw up even once..." He let his voice trail off to add to the effect.

"I understand, Professor," Lem said quietly. "But I've worked to hard to screw this up. Believe me, I'm a changed man!"

"I don't," Oglos snarled. "Now, pick up your keys from the front desk and show up back here tomorrow at 6am sharp, understand!?"

"Yessir!" Lem snapped, as he quickly got up out of the chair and just as quickly left the managers office. As the door closed behind him, Lem jumped into the air with shear joy. He got the job. It was his.

He grabbed his keys and rushed out the front door where a large debilitated, and brightly coloured van was parked. Leaning against the side of the piece of junk and strumming his guitar was Lem's best friend of 4 years, Glar. Glar had grown his tentacles much longer than anyone else Lem knew, and his dress and mannerisms went over a lot of people's heads. The two of them had been social outcasts which was the primary reason the two had ended up as best friends.

"Well, dude!" Glar asked without looking up from his guitar.

"He said yes!" Lem gave his best friend of 4 years the double thumbs up.

"Whoa, righteous man!" Glar cried out as the two friends gave each other a high four.

"I swear, Glar," Lem said as he climbed into the passengers side, "I'll never understand your slang."

"It's the way of the future, man," Glar slurred as he climbed into the drivers seat. "Trust me, five years from now, it'll be the next big thing!" He turned the key but the van only chugged. Glar glared at the dash board through his long tentacles before lifting his leg up and landing an almighty blow against the control panel. He tried the key and this time, the engine turned.

"How's the new album coming along?" Lem asked.

"Great, man, great!" Glar said as he popped the van into reverse. "I've got a few label companies interested." The van stalled slightly, before accepting Glar's plea to go into first.

"Still nothing?" Lem asked. Glar didn't respond. "Hey, I need you to stop by the library, on the way, I have to pick up my little brother."

"The Eck-Man?" Glar asked. "Dude, he told me he was going to the cinema's."

"He did what!?" Lem cried out. He then slapped his face in frustration. "Arrggh, he went to see that damn movie. By the Great Rings, if mom finds out, she'll kill me!"

"Next stop, the movies!" Glar cried out, as he took the corner rather dangerously.

***

Eckle Kroplog was still munching on his popcorn as he exited the cinema's when Glar's van came to a screeching halt on the curb. He looked up, along with everyone else, and swallowed the nervous lump in his throat as he saw a rather agitated Lem climb out of the side door.

"N-now, before you say anything," Eckle stammered as Lem marched towards him, "This is not what it looks like!"

"You're supposed to be in the library, studying for your final exams!" Lem said calmly. "Not sneaking off to see Space Monsters from Where Ever!"

"What?" Eckle asked, eyeing off Lem with suspicion. "It's not like YOU haven't done this before." He then folded his arms. "And it's not Space Monsters from Where Ever, it's Humaniacs 2: Judgement Day!"

"Will you just forget about the damn movie name, Eckle, don't change the subject!" Lem sighed. "Besides, what I did in the past is no excuse for you to do in the present."

"How long are you going to keep saying that?" Eckle asked.

"Eckle, listen to me," Lem said, taking his brother by the shoulders. "Don't go down the path I did. You've got your whole future ahead of you, me? It's taken a long time to get back from where I started from."

Almost as if on cue, there was the sound of breaks being pulled. "Hello Lem," Sheriff Grug called out of his mike. Lem sighed, as he turned to face the sheriff of Glipforg, a long time acquittance.

"Hello Sheriff," Lem greeted with a smile. He had no reason to fear the man now. "I got the job, Professor Oglos said yes," he paused, "Reluctantly."

The Sheriff forced a smile. "Well, looks like I lost 5 bucks then. Deputy Khalop said you'd get it."

"But you didn't believe I would?" Lem asked, trying to sound smug.

"Lem, you practically trashed the place the first time you visited the planetarium, I really didn't believe Oglos would let you stay another minute."

"So you don't think I've changed?" Lem asked. The sheriff shrugged.

"Let's just say I believe old habits die hard, Lem," he said. He then leaned forward to give Lem a long hard look, much like Oglos had done. "I think I'll keep the sign. In case of a rainy day."

Lem grinned, as he looked up at the sky. "Sorry to disappoint you, Sheriff, but there's not a cloud in the sky."

The Sheriff replied with only a sly smile. "You know, the weatherman says we're in for a late afternoon storm." He took the hand break off. "So let's just wait and see what it brings."

"Since when has the weather man been able to predict the weather, Sheriff," Lem smirked. "Let alone the future?" The Sheriff said nothing. He just tipped his hat, and with that, he drove off.

The sign. Only Lem and the Sheriff understood that personal joke. The sheriff kept a wooden sign above the jail cell at the far end of the lock up section that read "This Cell Reserved for Lem Korplog." Lem had gotten into so much trouble as a youngster that he'd been in the lock-up so many times, the sheriff kept that cell warm for him.

Lem sighed. He'd been a trouble maker in the past. Causing pranks that weren't funny, and as he'd gotten older, he'd graduated to vandalism and petty crime. He'd been in and out of juvenile hall so many times, he practically knew the place inside out.

Lem shock his head, and straightened himself up. That was all in the past now. He'd seen the light, and was now moving on from his rebellious ways. The old Lem was history. The new Lem was going to make a difference.

Glar could see the worried look on Lem's face, so he tried to change the subject. "So, how was the movie, little guy?" He asked Eckle.

"Awesome!" Eckle cried out. "There were moments when it looked like we were gonna lose, but then some brainiac invented a scientific machine that saved the day!" He then halted his speech as he remembered something. "Oh yeah, and during the previews, they had a spoiler for Humaniacs 3!"

"Cool!" Glar fined interest.

"It was awesome! It starts off with a downed air force pilot wandering around the decimated remains of Capital City, before finally coming to rest at shattered base of the Statue of Glorp." Eckle was so caught up in his explanation that he began to imitate the actor, causing passer by's to stop and stare. "He then falls to his knees and screams, 'Humaniacs! You blew it up! Damn you all! Damn you all to the...!'"

"Annnd we need to go home, Eckle," Lem said, grabbing his little brother and dragging him towards the van.

"Lem, wait!" Eckle was tugging on his shoulder, "I need to stop off at Haglogs Comics Shop on the way back! I my latest subscription to Humaniacs comic just came in!"

"Haglogs Comics!?" Lem felt ill. "Can't you get it tomorrow?"

"I won't be in town tomorrow," Eckle answered. "Look, it's only around the corner, you don't have to go inside."

"Fine," Lem said with a sigh. He turned to Glar. "You don't mind, do you?" He asked.

"Hey man," Glar said , patting the top of Eckle's head. "Anything for the Eck-Man."

"Alright, thanks!" Eckle cried out, as he climbed into the van. "You are so cool, Glar." Lem sighed, as he climbed in after, and they drove off.

Around the corner, they came to a stop, "Next stop, Haglogs Comics," Glar said, "And I need to pull up over at the gas station, Man, 'cause the Glar mobile needs more Go-Go juice!"

"I'll wait here," Lem said as he and Eckle climbed out. They watched as Glar suddenly cut across four lanes of traffic to pull up at the gas station where the van was swamped by the gas station attendants.

Lem chuckled as he turned to Eckle. "So, just in and out, okay? I'll be waiting..." His voice trailed off as around the corner, came a rather sleek looking car. He stopped talking as he looked up.

Valgor was coming around the corner. He sighed in anger. Why oh why did he have to be here. Valgor was the richest and best looking guy in school, and had always managed to get the better of Lem. Lem had sabotaged his car once which landed him a full six months in juvenile hall. Since then, Lem had always tried to stare clear of Valgor, but the guy always managed to find him, and rub Lems nose in the dirt.

"Damn," Lem snarled. He looked across the street to Glar who was still killing up. He couldn't get across the road to him in time. He looked back up, Valgor was getting closer. "Damn!" Lem hissed again. He looked behind him, and sighed.

Only one root of escape was available in time. He grabbed Eckle by the hand, and boldly marched into Haglogs Comics shop.

"Welcome, welcome," Skiff greeted the two as they walked in through the front door. "How may I assist... You." Skiff's voice trailed off in a displeased hiss as he saw Lem walk in. "Well, I never thought I'd see the day, Lem, setting foot in MY comic shop?"

"Save it Skiff," Lem said looking him directly in the eyes. "I'm not here to fight. Not any more. Eckle just wants his comic."

Skiff drummed his fingers on the front counter in mock deep thought. "What was it you told me last time? Oh yes, it'd be a cold day in the Pit when you set one foot in this place?" He glanced down at the floor, as if looking past it into the depths of the planet below. "Well, I wonder if I can sign up for their Ice Hog-Tey team?"

Lem grunted. Did everybody have to give him such a hard time?

"Eckle, just get your comic and let's go!" He walked over to the window, and looked outside. Damn, Valgor was chatting up some hot chick from school. He was still outside.

"Here ya go little buddy," Skiff said, handing Eckle a comic book. "The latest issue in the ongoing Humaniacs war."

"Whoa!" Eckle gasped, as he flipped through it.

"Ya know," Skiff said leaning in closer, "I hear from my sources that they're going to create a spin-off series."

"Wow! Really? When? What's it about?"

"It's in the negotiation phase at the moment," Skiff said. "But there's a rumour that it's going to be set in Base 9."

So far, Lem had managed to keep tight liped, but the moment Skiff mentioned Base 9, Lem couldn't take it any more. "Oh please," he groaned. Skiff snapped up to glare at him.

"Is there something you wish to add, Mr Korplog?" He asked a hint of irritation in his voice.

"Again with the Base 9 thing, Skiff look, it's people like you who gave this town it's reputation in the first place..."

"Base 9 is real!" Skiff almost shouted back. "Aliens are real! Base 9 exists, and it's somewhere around here! Out in the desert! It's there!"

Lem sighed. He knew where this conversation was going. "Well, let's here it then," he said.

"Thank you," Skiff said with a mock bow. "As you know, the Glipfog Incident which occurred 10 years ago was a cover-up by the government! The satellite that landed here was actually an alien ship, and they've built their base around it, deep underground."

Eckle had been listening to all this with morbid fascination, something that had not escaped both Lem and Skiff. "What dose the alien ship look like?"

"A metal satellite!" Lem snapped.

"No one really knows," Skiff said, ignoring Lem. "But some say it's as small as a car, others say it's the size of a small building." Lem turned back to the window. Valgor was no where in sight. He looked left and right, to double check.

"Right, we're outta here," Lem said, grabbing Eckle by the arm, and dragging him towards the exit. "We'll leave the nut cases to their wild conspiracy theories."

"T-theories!?" Skiff nearly chocked.

"I've got more important things to believe in than big white men, Skiff," Lem snapped back as he walked out the door, allowing it to slam behind.

"Awww," Eckle whined as they exited the shop, "It was just getting to the good part."

"Eckle," Lem said, as they checked the street for traffic. "I don't want you hanging out with Skiff any more. He's a bad influence."

"Yeah, you'd know all about what's a good influence." Eckle teased. Lem felt his temper rise.

"I'm not like that any more!" He snapped, almost crushing Eckle's hand in anger. He calmed down as he could see the fear in his little brothers eyes. "Look, Eckle, Skiff's a fruit loop. It's because of people like him that no one in the whole wide world will ever take this town seriously. We've been pegged as the 'Alien Town' thanks to that stupid 'incident' that occurred 10 years ago."

"Lem," Eckle sounded serious. "What did happen?"

"A satellite fell out of orbit, that's all," Lem said, as both he and Eckle started to cross the street. "A lot of people say it was actually a top secret unmanned space capsule. The farmer who found it, thought it was an alien ship with the strange shape and all. Plus the Great War had only been over for 10 years, people were still jumpy even back then." He sighed. "But by then, the world press had jumped on the whole alien thing and within three days, we were the 'Alien Town' and we've been the Alien Town ever since then."

"Dad says it dose wonders for the tourism industry." Eckle said as they reached the other side of the road, where Glar was waiting for them.

"Dad says a lot of things," Lem ignored Eckle. "Glar, you been waiting long?"

"I saw Valgor across the street, man," Glar said, "I understand." Lem nodded, as all three climbed in, and drove off towards home.

***

"We're back!" Lem called out, as both he and Eckle walked in through the front door.

"Welcome home, sweety," Lem's mother said, greeting Eckle with a big hug. "Did you have a good study time?"

"Sure did mom," Eckle lied. "I can't wait till the tests! I'm gonna ace it, no prob!"

"That's my boy," Their father said patting Eckle on the shoulder. Lem just stood by the door, waiting to be acknowledged. Finally, both his parents looked up at him, a neutral expression on their faces. Lem held up the set of keys from the planetarium as if he were presenting them on a game show. He revived a nod of approval from his folks. "Looks like you can do something right after all," His father said without a hint of emotion.

That was it? All his hard work and this is his congratulations!?! Lem bit his tongue. He knew better than to push it. Not with his reputation.

"Well done, Lem," His mother said a slight smile on her lips.

"Well then," Lem said rubbing both his hands together. "I'll be upstairs if anyone needs me." They both nodded, as he headed upstairs, and locked his door behind him. He shuffled over to his bed, and flopped down on it with a irritated sigh. He then got up again, and punched the pillow with all his might, venting his built up rage and frustration.

Damn. It was like this all the time. Couldn't people see he'd changed!? Couldn't people see he wanted to leave the past behind? But when you've got a 4 year history of bad behaviour, it's a little difficult to prove other wise. It reminded him of something Glar had once said.

"People are always slow when adapting to change, man!" Lem smiled. Good old Glar was always there for him. Maybe that's the reason he and Lem were best friends.

He looked over at his window, the telescope sitting on its tripod, looking up at the heavens. He'd saved up and bought that with his own money, after he realised that Astronomy was going to be his future. He got up and ran a finger along it's length. About seven months ago, he broke into the planetarium with the intention of vandalising it with a gang he was trying to join.

However, the moment he entered the building he became fascinated with it. The stars, the planets. The great unknown. Of cause, it was then that he accidentally tripped an alarm, and his so called friends locked him in the building as punishment, allowing him to get caught. But he confessed, and named names. At his trail, he pleaded to do his community service at the planetarium, to make up for his errors, which the judge thought to be poetic justice.

The truth was, Lem just wanted to go see the stars again. Now, he was working there and with the school year eventually coming to a close, It wouldn't be long before he'd be able to study astronomy professionally, and finally one day...

Lem sighed, as he leaned over and looked into the lens. The glowing afternoon sky presented it's self along with the massive rings. He smiled to himself. "One day, I will see those rings up close and personal."

He frowned. There was a star in the afternoon sky. A faint one, but a star all the same. He leaned back and looked up. Nothing could be seen with the naked eye. He looked back to see it was still there. He scratched his forehead. "Now that shouldn't be there..." he muttered.

Something hit his window.

Lem looked around in confusion. He walked over slowly, before something else landed by the side of his window. He jumped slightly, before pushing the round window open. "Hey!" He cried out in anger, "What the Pit is going..." His voice trailed off. "Neera!?" He cried out in surprise.

Neera was the girl who lived next door to Lem. She'd lived there for almost six years now. She always seemed to listen to him when things got tough.

"Hey Lem," she called up at him from her side of the fence that their houses shared. "How did it go?" He proudly displayed his keys.

"Got it!" He said. She beamed at him.

"Congratulations, Lem," she cried out, clapping her hands together. "I knew you could."

"You... Knew?" Lem asked in disbelief.

She nodded. "I could tell by the way you would talk about astronomy. You've never been that passionate about anything before." She smiled in a way that made Lem feel good about himself. "That's how I knew." Lem was silent, before he leaned out the window a little.

"Uhh, Neera?" He asked.

"Yes Lem?" She replied.

"Will you like to go to the school dance with me?" Neera looked a little shocked, before she sighed with disappointment.

"I'm sorry Lem, but I've already got a date for the school dance. I'm going with Valgor."

Lem nearly threw himself out the window.

"HIM!?" He shouted. "You're going with him!?! Neera, why!?"

"Because he asked me out two days ago," Neera explained. "I, just can't turn him down."

"Then I'll do it for you," Lem said, making to turn back into his room.

"Lem, no!" Neera cried out. Lem stopped to look back down at her. "Please, Lem, just... Don't!" Lem sighed in anger, and started to close his window.

"But I'm free this weekend!" Neera called out. Lem froze, as he looked down at her, her face held a hopeful smile. Lem's smile slowly materialised and he nodded.

"Sure," he said. "Pick you up at 8?"

"Down at the bus stop," Neera said, "You know how my parents feel about you." Lem nodded.

"See you then, Neera." He watched her leave back into her house, and he gently closed the window. He jumped into the air and did a yes manoeuvre. All of the crap he'd put up with today just seemed so worth it. After all this, it was just dust in the wind.

He walked over to his cupboard, and marked the date down on his calendar. His life was going to get so much better. He paused in mid stride back to his bed. For the life of him, he felt as though he'd forgotten something. He shrugged it off, before falling backwards onto his bed to look up through his skylight with happiness. Whatever it was, it would have to wait and besides, it probably wasn't that important anyway.

Through the skylight, Lem saw a small plane flying far overhead. He got up off the bed and looked out the window. It wasn't flying towards the air port, but rather, towards the desert. He aimed the telescope at it, and grimaced. He recognised the logo on the plane as being one of those charter planes that tourists took to sight see the desert and the alien crash site.

"Good luck," Lem muttered to the sky as he headed back to his bed. "The only thing you're gonna see out there is sand, no different from the stuff you've got in your heads!"

***

The plane flew a little higher as it left the residential section of Glipfog behind. The pilot switched on his mike as the sandy desert began to replace the town grass. "This is Special Tour 1 on rendezvous to Crash Site within 6 minutes. Over."

The radio crackled to life and another voice sparked out. "Rodger that, Special Tour 1, we have your clearance. Crash Site is awaiting your viewing. Do you copy, over."

"Copy that, over and out!" The pilot turned to look up at the review mirror to see the reflection of his passengers chest and mid-section, along with the brief case nursed in his lap. The three stars on his collar stood out the most. He was curious, and tempted striking up another conversation with the general, but from the abrupt wordless response he'd revived before he thought it highly unlikely.

The plane flew on, until the pilot began to bank the plane to the left. "We've reached our destination, sir," the pilot said to his passenger. "Welcome back, General." The man responded with nothing. The plane dove as it circled around, before finally straightening out and landing on the black tarmac runway. It bounced twice before slowing down and coming to a complete stop.

There was a loud click, followed by a slow and steady hum. Then, the ground jolted and the plane began to sink into the ground. The sand was replaced by a smooth wall of of metal and lights as the plane descended into the depths of the planet.

With one last final jolt, the plane came to a standstill. The passenger door opened, and the man climbed out to be greeted by a rather fat looking Captain with tentacles on his upper lip. The Captain saluted and the gesture was returned. He then stood aside and came to attention.

"Ah-teeeen-Chun!" He shouted. Behind him in the hanger, the soldiers all came to attention.

"At ease, men," the man replied. He then stared walking down the stairs, as the Captain fell in behind. "Captain, give me an update," he demanded.

"Sir, as you already know, at zero five hundred hours today, our security alarms in the Vault were triggered by an unknown source. When a security team arrived to investigate, who ever it was had already taken what they were looking for." He paused. "Well, we've assumed it was what they were looking for."

"The machine," the General said. "And nothing else was touched?"

"No sir, the other probes were completely intact. The worse part is, there's no sign of any forced entry or exit anywhere in the whole base." He shook his head in worry. "It's probably just my imagination running wild here sir, but from what the technicians described, it was as if the seal was disrupted from the inside."

They both exited the hanger and came to a stop by a metal corridor that held a small jeep, awaiting it's guest. "Then they've finally come," the General said.

"Sir?" The General paused, half way into the jeep as he looked back at the Captain.

"Captain, let me tell you something," he said as the Captain climbed up into the seat next to him. "What I'm about to tell and show you is classified top secret." The soldier up front put the jeep in gear and they drove off down the tunnel. "At eleven hundred and twelve hours today, our tracking stations revived a single from our deep space probe on Kirelog."

"K-Kirelog!?" The Captain almost fell out of the jeep with shock. "You mean...!? we can...!?"

The General looked faintly amused. "Yes. We can. The probe was to be part of a mapping system, when it made an interesting transmission." He unbuckled his briefcase, and handed the Captain a few photos. The Captain leafed through the photos as his eyes widened.

"By the Great Rings..." he gasped.

"These photo's are forty-eight hours old, Captain." The General answered. "I want this base on high alert ASAP; plus all available units are to be mobilised. I do believe we'll be having guests very soon."

***

Kaylog watched the green glow of the radar screen at Glipforg Domestic Airport control tower, waiting for the arrival of the next plane that was due to land over 20 minutes ago. He glanced up and looked out at the thick black clouds gathering on the horizon. "Looks like rain," he muttered. He turned to his fellow technician beside him. "Has Flight 376 reported in yet?" The man turned the radio dial, and was rewarded with radio static. He shook his head.

"Nothing."

"They're late," Kaylog muttered as he turned back to the screen. "Man, I'd hate to be the pilot who has to go through that..." His rant was cut short as the screen abruptly beeped at him. "Ahh," he said, leaning back in his chair. "Finally." He waited again for the screen to register another bleep in order to confirm it's arrival. He picked up his mike and activated it. "Okay, Flight 376, this is Glipforg Domestic Tower, we now have you on radar. What's your status, over?"

His only response was static. Kaylog frowned. He thumbed the button again.

"Flight 376,this is Glipforg Domestic Tower, please respond! Over!" Nothing. "What the Pit is wrong with them," Kaylog snarled. He turned to his partner. "Do they have the proper frequency?"

"They should," the man answered. "All world wide flights were updated over two months ago."

Kaylog turned back to the screen, his frown was becoming a scowl. "I don't need this on my shift today," he snarled. "We can only try all..." His voice trailed off as the plane bleep again. His mouth fell open in shock. "No. Way." He gasped. His partner looked over at him.

"Everything okay over there?"

"Drylog, when was the last time this system was checked?" The man looked dumbfounded.

"Two days ago, how could you forget, you were there!"

Kaylog turned to face his partner. The look on his face showed fear, and surprise. "I think you'd better take a look at this."

Drylog pushed his chair over to the radar, and leaned in. The plane bleeped once more.

"By the Great Rings," his voice trailed off. "They're over ninety thousand feet up!" His mouth gaped like a fish. "T-that can't be right!"

"Before, it read one hundred thousand feet," Kaylog said. He looked back at the screen as it registered the flight at now eighty thousand feet. "They're dropping. Fast!"

Suddenly, the radar picked up another signal, and almost on cue, a voice crackled over the radio.

"Glipforg Domestic Tower, this is Flight 376, we apologise for our lateness, but we had to avoid a fierce thunder storm closing in on your location. Request landing guidance. Over." The two men gasped in shock. "Glipforg Domestic Tower, this is Flight 376, requesting landing guidance, do you read? Over!"

Drylog pointed at the second blip on the screen. "If that's Flight 376," his finger moved to the other one, now at sixty thousand feet. "What the Pit is that!?" Outside, the distant rumble of thunder echoed throughout the room.

***

The sky was growing darker. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Lem watched with interest as the storm clouds rolled in overhead. "Man, that storm just came outta nowhere," he muttered. He watched from his window as his father began to pack away the law mower. Eckle was busy trying to unfold the mower cover, while his mother hurried to get her gardening gear packed.

They didn't bother asking for his help? He scoffed as he rolled his eyes. Typical.

"Come on, son, that storms going to burst any second now!" Eckle struggled to unfold the mower cover.

"Ugh, why can't Lem do this?" Eckle complained as the wind momentarily tore the cover from his grasp. "This thing is huge!"

"'Cause you're here and he isn't," his father replied. "Now here, you do it like this!"

"Need a hand, neighbour?" Their next door neighbours, the Hoplogs, and Nerra's parents, where out in their front yard. Nerra's father was the one who offered a hand.

"Yeah," Lem's dad said. "Can you help me with this?"

"No problem," he jumped the fence, just as the wind picked up. A splash of water hit him in the face and he blinked up at the sky. "Looks like it's about to break." They both grabbed the cover, and pulled it on. "Man, that was a challenge," he said. "Wanna have a beer when you're done?"

"I would love..." The thunderclap drowned out the rest of his response.

"What was that!?" Eckle cried out. Everyone looked up at the sky.

"That didn't sound like thunder." There was a brilliant flash of orange in the sky.

"What the...!?" Everyone gaped in shock as the a second bright orange flash tore open the sky, and a bellowing ball of fire broke through. It rocketed towards the ground below at a fantastic speed, before a third flash of orange blossomed, and it began to slow down.

Great gusts of wind tore at everyone, even blowing Eckle off his feet. Dust and grass, and twigs and dirt was all thrown up along with a thick grey fog. And the noise. There was a terrible roaring sound like a continuous explosion that seemed to last forever, until; it all stopped.

The wind was still there. It began to blow, clearing the air as the grey fog was blown away, lifted like a curtain.

Everyone was speechless. Right before them, in their front yard, stood a giant metal pod. It looked like a giant metal head on three legs. There was some octagon shaped box on it's side with a strange yellow and black symbol. There was still some sort of grey fog, whispering from beneath it, while the lawn it stood on had been reduced to scorched earth.

Nobody moved. Nobody spoke. Nobody blinked.

Suddenly, there was a loud humming sound and a puff of air, as the side of the pod abruptly slid out, then tilted over to rest on the ground, forming some sort of gangplank. The wind howled madly, and lighting flashed overhead.

Then, there was movement. Something emerged from the newly created opening in the pod. It was white. It was bulky. It was huge. It's body was completely white, with a large dome like sphere for a head and a large reflective visor for an eye. It bent as it climbed out, stood straight and tall, before leaping to the ground below. Dirt fountained up around it's feet as it landed. There was a large white box, like a backpack on it's back, and clutched in both it's hands, was a poll with a brightly coloured rectangular cloth at one end.

For a moment, it seemed to freeze, before looking up at the sky. Then, it looked down at it's feet, as it carefully took one step forward. Then another, and another, until it was halfway between the family and the pod. Then, it heaved the poll into the air, and slammed it down hard, into the ground; the brightly coloured cloth fluttering madly in the wind.

As it began to straighten up, it looked up, past the flag, towards the two families standing there, utterly gob smacked. It froze.

Something wet and with a heavy feel to it, hit Lems dad between his antenna. He didn't even bother to look up, as another hit him right between the eyes. Then another. Water began to trickle down from the sky, gradually soaking all their clothes.

But no one moved. It was like looking at a set of lawn ornaments. The big white bulky creature looked up at the sky, before looking back at the two families. Slowly, it let go of the poll with both hands, and took a step back. Then another.

Suddenly it made a mad dash back to the pod, only to come to a screeching halt.

"ECKLE!?" Eckle turned at the sound of his mothers scream. He had been so caught up in looking inside the alien pod, that he didn't even see the alien coming towards him. Now it was only a scat foot away, hunched over.

"Whoa!" Eckle cried out in surprise, and reached into his pocket, and pulled out the only thing he could find. His toy ray gun. He took aim and pulled the trigger. The front end of the gun flashed and made a high-pitched buzzing sound. To Eckles surprise, the creature ducked and cringed. Eckle looked flabbergasted. He took aim again, and fired. The creature rolled out of the way. Eckle couldn't understand it. He didn't expect it to be afraid of his toy gun. He'd just done that on the spur of the moment.

He grinned savagely. "All right you alien!" He shouted in the best brave voice he could muster. "I'm Eckle Korplog, alien hunter, extraordinary!" He took aim again and began to repeatability pull the trigger. "Get off my planet you space invading scum!"

As the ray gun whizzed and banged, the creature made a mad dash for safety, dodging and weaving as if Eckle's toy were real. Running into and taking out their front gate as it half ran, half stumbled into the street. It stood there for a moment, looking left, then right, then left again, before looking back at it's pod, to see Eckle starting forward towards it, ray gun raised. It threw it's arms up into the air, running off down the street.

Just as Eckle reached what used to be their front gate, the front door of the house flew open as Lem rushed out. "Eckle!" He cried out, "Get away from that thing!"

"But Lem," Eckle protested. "I've got it on the run, I have to go finish it off! Before it destroys our world!"

"Eckle, this isn't a comic book!" Lem snapped, grabbing his brother by the arm. "We've got to get to safety. We've got to call the Sheriff!"

"To the Pit with the Sheriff," Lem's dad finally gasped. "We need the army!" High above them lighting flashed, thunder roared, and the heavens broke loose. They all scattered, running back into their respective houses, just as the sound of the towns air raid siren began to rise over the roar of the storm.

***