Albany, New York
“What are we going to do?” Blake asked. The strange aircraft of their mysterious assailant swooped and buzzed all around them in the air. The ‘copter pilot had his hands full preventing a mid-air collision. “I’d swear that craft leapt right out of the ancient legends of India,” Burnside said excitedly. “The black disk and the golden wings look to be a representation of the sun at eclipse. If it’s what I think it is, it’s called a vimana, modeled after the ancient craft mentioned in the Indian Vedic texts.” “Whatever it is, we had better do something soon,” the pilot said. “It’s forcing me out of the air.” “Will we be able to reach the airport?” Evans asked. “If our luck holds out. We’re over downtown Albany now. That’s the Nelson Rockefeller Empire State Plaza just coming into view.” Just ahead of them on the ground was a set of three tidal pools surrounded by tall, sleek buildings sheathed in marble. To one side of the tidal pools was an enormous ovoid structure. “Oh yes,” Burnside said. “I see that godawful egg thing now. How they ever got that past the arts planning commission I’ll never know.” “We’re in restricted airspace,” Evans protested.
"Tell it to that to the Devil’s spawn pursuing us,” the pilot said. “I’m just happy we’re still in the air. He’s flying rings around us. I won’t be able to joust with him much longer.”
The vimana quit buzzing the helicopter and changed tactics. It settled directly behind the helicopter’s rear rotors and paced it for a few seconds. Blake looked to the rear to determine what the enemy craft was up to. He saw a tube extend from the vimana and squirt a liquid at the helicopter. Much of it missed, blown off by wind resistance, but some of it must have made contact, for the helicopter now trailed a white smoke or mist from its tail. “We’ve got trouble,” Blake reported. “We’ve been hit with another nano-attack.”
"Anything in that attaché case of yours that will help?” Evans asked.
“I’ll look,” Blake offered. The helicopter lurched in the air, and the rear rotors sputtered. “Do it quick, we don’t have much time,” Evans said sharply.
“I’m losing power,” the pilot announced.
Blake rummaged through his briefcase while Burnside kept an eye on the rear of the ‘copter. “Looks like the whole tail’s been eaten away,” Burnside reported.. The ‘copter’s main body began to spin around its central rotor. “We’re losing altitude!” the pilot shouted. “Prepare for a crash landing!” He guided the ‘copter as best he could, but it was like trying to steer a runaway merry-go-round over a cliff. The helicopter crash landed in the center tidal basin of the Empire State Plaza, sending up a wave of water and steam. A crowd of tourists ran away from the basin, screaming in panic. Moments later, after the initial impact had subsided, the helicopter pilot and his three passengers extricated themselves from the wreckage and waded out of the tidal pool to stand near the massive ovoid structure affectionately nicknamed the Egg. Blake still had his attaché in hand. He opened it and fumbled through its contents while Evans and the pilot scanned the sky for
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signs of the vimana. Then Burnside pointed at the remains of the heli-copter.“Look,” he said. “It’s gone.”
The rest of them turned to stare at the helicopter in time to see the last of it melt into a frothy, steamy milk in the center of the tidal pool. “Who’d have thought my ‘copter would turn into the largest cappuccino in history,” the astounded pilot observed. Suddenly, with the sound of shredding fabric punctuated by thunder, the vimana popped into view, seemingly out of nowhere. A eerie electric glow formed a bubble around it. As it flew low over the tidal basin, the bubble creased the steaming froth below. It headed directly toward the stranded men. A tube extruded from the craft. Evans knew from the experience in the air that the vimana was super-maneuverable; it was useless to try to outrun it. “Now we’re in for it,” Burnside breathed. Blake rummaged through his attaché once more, looking for something, anything to save them. Then Evans seized the case out of his hands and flung it and all of its contents at the approaching vimana. Blake’s packets of nano-powder hit the glowing bubble surrounding the vimana just as it spewed out its own nano-attack. The opposing nanomachines caused the glowing bubble to spark and flash like fireworks. Then it erupted into an immense fireball, obscuring the vimana inside. The heat blistered Evans’ face as the vimana flamed towards him. “Run for cover,” he screamed. The men scattered. The vimana, now out of control, veered into the Egg. The fireball, along with the vimana inside it, abruptly disappeared upon contact with the structure. The nanotech soup made from the combination of Blake’s powders and the vimana’s milky liquid remained, splattering across the surface of the Egg. It ate away at the structure, rapidly converting it into a huge grey gooey mess. Evans and Blake stopped running when they judged they were at a safe distance, and turned to view the disaster that had once been the pride of Empire State Plaza. The Egg was already half gone, and the resulting mass of goo was flowing slowly into the tidal basin, where it then reacted with the white froth from the helicopter and turned the pool contents into heaps of small phosphorescent green pellets. “Where’s Burnside?” Evans asked, panting. “He and the pilot ran the other way,” Blake replied. “I presume they are safe.” “How long will this stuff continue to react?” “Hard to tell,” Blake said. “We are witnessing the random interaction of nano-assemblers with differing designs and instruction sets. The process will eventually exhaust itself, but there are too many unknown variables for me to predict when.” Evans digested this news as he watched the green pellets puff up into orange balls and spill out of the tidal basin. Sirens could be heard in the distance. The first responders would be here soon. “Do you think we’ve seen the last of our foe?” Blake asked. Evans didn’t have to ponder that one. “No. The stakes are too high. The people behind that vimana want something from us or they want us dead.”
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