The Lad Who Poked the Devil in the Eye
Chapter 9: Plotting a Rebellion with Friends

Copyright© 2016 by Vincent Berg

"So you can listen to everything they say?"

"It's not quite so cut and dried," Otis explained. He took another sip of his latte before continuing. They sat at a table outside a popular coffee shop, sitting far enough from anyone to speak freely. "There are thousands of messages broadcast on a continual basis. I've learned to filter out most and focus on specific information."

"Now you know what the NSA feels like," Ger teased.

"Except, in your case, you're successful," Natalie added. "The NSA wastes so much time tracking everyone they can't isolate the significant ones."

Fred whistled, causing someone's puppy to turn and stare. "That's like tapping into the aliens' nerve center. You can learn anything."

"Not so much. They don't discuss what everyone knows, so they don't mention technology. I'm also not sure it'll help. I knew where the meeting with the president was, but if they don't land somewhere, there's not much I can do."

"I may be able to assist." Janet glanced around, nervous about revealing secrets in public. "When Josh took off, they left one shuttle behind. It's not as powerful as the command shuttle, but its AI is the same. It's cleverly hidden, but he wanted a way for us to escape if the government came after us."

Natalie stared at her. "You never mentioned that."

"I didn't want to call attention to it, but how did you think you're phone blocker operates? It sends a message to the shuttle which does the work."

"Heck, I never even considered how it operated. I still consider it magic."

"That means you could take the fight to them," Ger suggested.

Otis shrugged. "One aging shuttle vs. an entire ship with massive armaments? I'm not sure that's a viable option."

Natalie touched his hand. "Don't forget, the Wi'Tibold had superior technology. The odds might be better than you're assuming."

"She's got a point," Fred said. "Even if it can't outgun the Ti'chrk, you can fly rings around them, possibly while being cloaked and invisible."

"A valid argument, but how would I evaluate it without risking my life? While I'm willing to sacrifice myself if it saves humanity, if I'm killed, we'll lose our only advantage over them."

"I'd suggest you evaluate it on the ground. Access the ship while the Ti'chrk are flying around and determine whether they can detect you or not."

Fred leaned back, grinning. "Or, you remain on Earth, recording what's being said, while one of us pilots the shuttle. We can't risk losing you at this point, but if one of us gets shot down, it wouldn't end the struggle."

"Possibly, but chances are, my communicating with you when you're exposed is more likely to be picked up by the Ti'chrk. There's also the risk of losing our only shuttle. At the moment, they can't detect me as I listen, but if I start talking on their enemy's channels, they may intercept it."

"Again, if we assume the Wi'Tibold have superior technology, they wouldn't be able to track it."

"That's a big risk. Would you expect they can't trace messages by their enemies yet, despite hundreds of years of war?"

"They didn't detect it when we tried it earlier. If we keep the messages short, I think we can assume it's safe."

"I'd do it in steps," Ger suggested. "Send the shuttle a message and listen for a response. If it doesn't trigger anything, have it move closer. By taking small incremental steps, you'll get a better idea of the Ti'chrk's capabilities."

"As well as giving them more opportunities to uncover our only advantage."

"An unstruck match still leaves you in darkness," Fred said. "If you don't use it, you might as well not have it."

Otis was about to say something when his head jerked back. Janet started to say something when Ger held her hand up, halting the conversation. "He's listening to something," she explained in a low voice. The others watched as he furrowed his brow in concentration. After several moments, he turned to them.

"I think we'll get our chance. The Ti'chrk are sending seven ships to attack various countries to illustrate how serious they are. They plan to strike Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Dubai City, Hong Kong and Melbourne."

Everyone responded, they eyes opening wide and leaning forward.

"What ... how can we stop them?" Natalie asked.

"They'll do what they did in Washington. They'll fly in, take out a government landmark, kill anyone on the main avenues and retreat. It's more show than outright attack. They're hoping to intimidate the smaller countries into surrendering while the U.S. considers the last assault."

"You know which approaches they'll take?" Natalie asked. Otis nodded. "OK, if we warn them, we can save a lot of lives, assuming I can get them to take me seriously."

"It's a question of timing," David said, speaking up for the first time. "I think we need to utilize the U.S. government. Contact whomever you did before, maybe the Diplomatic Corps too. They can confirm the warnings are serious. But, if you tell them precisely when the attacks begin, we might get some aircraft up and give them a run for their money."

"The military's best jets may be no match," Fred said.

David rubbed his beard. "They undoubtedly aren't, but if we can sneak up on them, we may get lucky. If they only have seven attack shuttles, and we can damage a couple, we'll be in better shape than before."

Unable to control himself, Fred stood and began pacing. "If they're putting all their ships into play, now's our best opportunity to test their ability to monitor the Wi'Tibold shuttle. As they launch their offensive, call it down. If they respond, you'll know it's been detected. If not, have it land. You can determine whether they can detect it or not, and even if they do, they'll be in no position to take action."

"I'm not sure of the total number of fighters. I suspect the limit is pilots rather than hardware."

"David shrugged. "Same thing. If they can't man the extra ship, they can't come after you. But, in either case, you'll know whether they can track them."

"You'll need to give me specific attack routes," Natalie said.

Otis nodded. "I have several of them, but the names they used are the Ti'chrk's best approximation. There were several I couldn't make heads or tails of. For the cities I'm familiar with, I get a direct address. For those I don't, I get nicknames or general descriptions. They're usually the main thoroughfares. They also plan to blanket the airwaves, television and radio, in the hopes of getting the curious out in the open."

Janet leaned forward, speaking in a soft whisper. "Who's going to fly the Wi'Tibold shuttle?"

Fred faced them. "Peter and I were on most of Josh's flights. Although we never attempted to pilot the original shuttle, we watched what he did. Given how responsive the craft is, we should figure it out."

Natalie held her hands up. "I was there for several of them, but I wasn't paying attention to what he was doing."

"Fred's our best choice, but I'd rather have two people involved, just so we have more experienced hands." Otis looked around. "Janet, you won't observe the aliens, but at least you'll be closer to the action. Still, if they figure out I'm the only one capable of knowing what they're saying, they may take me out wherever I am. I don't understand what the things in my brain can do. The rest of you need to get the word out. Get a secure communications and contact each city. Inform the various papers what's happening and see if you can organize local groups who'll oppose the Ti'chrk, despite the odds."

"That sounds good, but I'm going to stick by your side," Ger said. "We should also hold David back, in case they come after you and they offer a decent shot."

Everyone seemed happy with their assignments. Natalie used her phone to call up the various cities as she and Otis planned their strategy.

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